Music courtesy of Josie and the Pussycats

Okay, let’s get serious for a moment. I don’t care who you are, and I don’t care what you normally like in music – I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that the music from the Josie and the Pussycats movie is seriously awesome!

What’s that? I can’t be serious? Well, step forward and be enlightened my friend. I’ve got actual facts to back me up on this one. While the movie only did so-so at the box office, the soundtrack actually went gold. And they had a real singer, Kay Hanley from Letters to Cleo, belting out of most of the pop-licious goodness on this thing. Seriously, her voice is perfect for these peppy tunes, and better than you often get with these band-based movies.

Personally, I kind of liked the movie too. Yes, it was fluff, but it was also a clever dig at the music industry and pop culture in general. Why clever? Well, they went so over the top with marketing products within the movie that I’m betting advertisers paid for a good portion of the production. But it also fit perfectly with the movie.

Don’t buy it? Huh… well, all I can say is that I’m sad for you. It must be a real burden not liking good things.

Anyway, what’s all this got to do with Operation Screaming Condor? Well, this is some of the music that powers my study sessions. And… nothing exciting happened today, so I had to come up with something completely controversial to talk about. And the whole Israel/Palestine thing is kind of overdone.

In other news, 4 hours of study was followed by a lot of nothing today. I had appointments in the afternoon, and after my efforts over the weekend to get my creative project going, I figure I can give myself a pass on it today.

But Josie and the Pussycats? Pure gold!

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A metrics moment

I admit, it’s been bugging me that I can’t get any traffic metrics for this blog. So I figured I’d look into that. I’ve now confirmed that my hosting company doesn’t do that. They’ll give me bandwidth metrics, but not session/page metrics.

But then! Then I had a brainwave! I’m using WordPress, which has about 1 million plugins available for it. Heck, maybe it’s even 2 million. And sure enough, I very quickly found a plugin that works with Google Analytics to provide metrics.

So I installed the plugin. I activated the plugin. And it wasn’t working. I checked the setup, and realized I needed a Google Analytics key. So I got one for my Google account, which most days I’d prefer not to have thanks to their pervasiveness – y’know, one account to rule them all!

I tossed the proper code in the shiny new plugin, and I saw… a bunch of empty charts!

Success?

Yep, turns out it was. On Sunday, one person viewed the site, so I got actual metrics!

This may turn out to be really depressing…

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A Windows 10 moment

I sat down on Saturday to solve the problem of .NET 4 not installing on my laptop. I read KB articles, and played with patches and cleanup utilities galore. I upgraded the laptop to a newer version of IE, which itself was a trial, since the installed version was so old.

During all this reading, it had become clear that Windows 7 SP1 is now poorly supported, and that the vanilla install of it on my laptop wasn’t anywhere near current for even that poorly supported state. So I started thinking bigger picture.

The Windows 10 free upgrade period is over. But I ran across articles saying that there were various ways you could still do it. The primary one being to say you were using the disability features. Not true for me, and my conscience was indeed my guide. But another article mentioned that the update process would still accept a valid Windows 7 key. Like the one I have for my laptop.

So I screwed up my courage (’cause if this went wrong, I was going to put my fist through something… well, that or cry like a baby) and started the upgrade. It never even asked me for a license key – I guess it just recognized the one I had already registered with them.

Success!

I then ran the install for the iKit stop-motion software.

Success!

Start to finish: only 10 hours…

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These are the days

I suppose I’ve now missed out on my wooden nickel, since I didn’t post on Friday. But here we are, Saturday morning and the tippy tappy of the keyboard is dancing across… huh, well, I’ve got my headphones on, so probably nobody’s ears.

Yesterday was a horror show come to life. Like, for realz. (Is that what the kiddies say these days?)

I woke around 4:40 am, as my sick child came into my room. About 40 minutes later she was back to sleep in her own bed and I climbed back into mine. And never fell back to sleep. Which resulted in me being completely messed up all day. Headache, foggy thoughts, apparent sinus pressure. By the end of it, I cancelled all my fun plans, got about 1 hour of studying in, and was convinced I was coming down with my daughter’s cold.

Flash forward to now (Saturday morning) and I feel just fine. Crazy.

Anyway, Operation Screaming Condor suffered a major setback last week, with two days missed. But, I’m still about 75% of the way through the book, so I’m feeling okay about things.

As for the weekend, so far Saturday morning has been… momentus? That’s probably not the right word, but it’s certainly been filled with “moments.”

IE called me back, asked me some questions about my cheeky “not looking for work” response, and the kindly explained how things work. Short version, I’m not going to get EI if I’m not looking for work. But I already knew that. So they’ll flag my file as “qualified, but not eligible,” meaning that in general I’m qualified to get EI, but that I won’t be considered eligible until I’m available to work and actively looking. Which is just fine.

Then, my Mom called, and there was the sad news that my Grandmother passed last night. 94 years old, and recovering from surgery to remove a portion of her leg due to gangrene in her foot. Her heart finally gave out during the night. So, I suppose I’ll be off to my hometown for the service later in the week.

What do you say? I know she was tired, and I know her quality of life had suffered greatly, so I hope she’s at peace.

I think the Northern Pikes had it right…

“In the big blue sky, there’s a reason for my life.”

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Getting my EI on

I continue to be amused by their need to put a positive spin on it, by the way. Used to be “unemployment insurance”, but that must have sounded far to too negative. So now it’s “employment insurance”, or EI.

Anyway, today, after another 5 awe inspiring hours of studying and annoying my friends on Slack, I finally remembered to apply for EI. My title for today’s post was going to be, “An interesting thing happened on the way to the EI office,” but there were two big problems with that. First, everything’s online. Who goes to an office anymore? Second, it’s really the application process itself that made me laugh – the trip over there was super easy!

Somewhere in the middle of application they asked me if I was taking any courses, to which I answered “yes” and opened up a whole new series of questions. Kind of like those “choose your own adventure” books that I always got killed in when I was a kid.

So after asking me what courses I was taking, for how long, for how many hours a week, and who was paying for them (I got to check “decided to pay for them myself”) they got into the serious business.

“If you are offered a job before the course ends, what will you do?” Uh… I know you want me to say take the job, but I’m going with “finish the course.”

“Are you currently looking for work?” Uh… no, I’m a little busy. But that wasn’t an option, so I simply checked “no”.

“Why aren’t you looking for work?” Well, let me tell ya. I’m taking the opportunity to change careers, and by the time EI actually kicks in I’ll have finished the courses anyway, so you can’t tell me what to do. And surprise! They gave me a text box, so I actually got to type that in. But, y’know, maybe a little more politely than that.

So… yeah, we’ll see what kind of response I get when the official notice comes. It’s funny how you never get bonus marks for humour in this world. Well, unless maybe you’re a comedian or something. Then you probably do get bonus marks, but it probably doesn’t make up for the crappy pay. (I need to ask Ryan about that. Yes, that means I know a comedian. Because my goal in life is to know every type of person, so you always have someone you can ask for advice/the real skinny.)

Also in the afternoon, and old friend joined my Slack channel and it positively lit up with chatter. That musta kept me busy for a good half hour while I was filling out my application. So, in terms of stop-motion, I’m still stuck on “can’t install the stupid software on that stupid computer.” The trial version installed on my tower no problem at all, but I can’t move my tower around the house easily, so that’s not especially helpful.

I’d say I’ll press on with it tomorrow, but I’ve got a busy day of lunch dates, appointments, and pool halls planned. So once I’m done studying, there won’t be much time.

And yes, there’s trouble. Right here in River City.

(What, you actually got that? You must be really old!)

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I ever mention that I hate technology?

So a little while back I bought a small 12″ laptop. Pretty much the same sort of thing that I’ve been using at work for the last… uh… I dunno, 8 years or so? I was completely happy with these little guys, and figured having one around once the studying is done might be a help at the new job.

Turns out, it’s also nice and portable for moving around the house to do stop-motion. But I’m dealing with blank slate here. Nothing on the laptop but Windows 7. So today I figured I’d get it set up and start doing some test animation.

Easy, right?

Uh… yeah. So first, I decided that default IE was bugging me with all of it’s security messages. So I surfed over the Chrome download site.

I guess IE didn’t like that much, because every time I hit the download button IE reported an error on the page. I suspect it’s an idiosyncrasy of IE that I’m just not familiar with, something to do with javascript permissions of whatever. Bottom line, no love for Chrome.

But I’m clever. Never let them tell you otherwise, even when there’s ample proof to support it. So I surfed over to the Firefox download site, which worked. Then I used
Firefox to install Chrome. Then I uninstalled Firefox. Because who really needs three browsers on their computer?

So, with Chrome in hand, I surfed over and downloaded the stop-motion software. Let’s not bother rehashing the stupid Paypal experience – it still went better than downloading Chrome. Anyway, once payment was made, I grabbed the install and fired it up.

Stage 1, install .Net 4 Framework. Stage 2, hang partway through it. Stage 3, cancel the install, at which point it started rolling back changes I’m not actually convinced it made in the first place, and appeared to hang again. So I nuked it and started again. This time, it told me that the install failed because I needed to finish the previous installation.

Any of this sounding familiar to anyone out there?

I reboot, fire up the install again, and now I’m staring at the .Net 4 Framework install, which appears to have hung again, but maybe… maybe it’s just really slow?

Yeah, probably not.

Lordy, do I hate technology. Except, of course, when it works.

So that’s my story for the day. Other news? 4 hours of studying, and the kidlet made it to school today. So that’s all good.

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Is this thing on?

Today I’m curious if anybody’s still reading this. A few folks have commented on previous posts, and that’s nice, but I don’t seem to be able to produce actual traffic stats from my hosting service. Probably because I’m on the economy plan, and I don’t rate web stats or something. But y’know, I already feel ridiculous shelling out cash for years on a blog I hardly used, so… cheap seats it is.

Metaphor for my life? You decide!

Anyway, if you’re busy eyeballing this post at any point, say “Hi” down below.  I guarantee that I will reward you with some sort of pithy and/or spurious comment upon the very comment that you left! How do you turn down an offer like that?!?

(The correct answer is: quickly.)

Anyway, today was many things:

Study – back on track, with 2 hours of review after my unintentionally long weekend, plus 3 hours of new material. Learning more about how mutual funds actually work, and how they’re actually managed. But hey, I do have some fun facts for you from the investment world!

Fun fact #1: globally, the bond market is larger than the stock market.

Fun fact #2: when I started this, I didn’t really know what a bond was all about, so fun fact #1 wouldn’t have been very fun for me. How was it for you?

Creative – back on track, with a few hours of research and fiddling with motion capture software. Software packages are always interesting to compare – especially video related tools. How many sounds effects come with it? How many are add-ons you pay for later? How many special effects can you do? And how many can you add on later?

Kinda sounds like my hosting company, and the lack of traffic reports, doesn’t it?

Anyway, after much comparison I think iKit Movie might be the one for me. It’s not the most sophisticated, but it looks like it has the most in the digital box and is easy enough to work with for a novice. I’ve also got an idea for something cool I want to do, but baby steps. First I need to get it installed and do a few test videos.

And with that, I’m once again off. My sick kid kept me up late, which is the exact opposite of what’s supposed to happen! The spritely little cherub is supposed to be all tuckered and woozy, and easy prey for the bed-time story delivered in stentorian monotone. But no such luck. Instead, I had to scour the house for Vicks vaporub, fail to find any, and then come up with some substitutes. So now I’m out of time.

But hey, I scoff at crumbling cookies and all their ilk. Plus, somebody told me they’d give me a wooden nickel or something if I managed to post for two weeks straight, so I had to get this one up here.

Nobody said the posts had to be inspired! And seriously, exactly how hard would you work for a wooden nickel?

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Seriously, who uses wax to make these?

It was the dawn of Day 6… well, actually, it was 3:30 am on Day 6 when my child climbed into bed with me because of a super sore throat and a headache. (And yes, we’re talking business days here, people. Weekends don’t count.) Needless to say, the morning got off to a slow start, and when we got back from the doctor somewhere around 11 am I just decided to write the whole thing off. So we loaded up the Peanuts movie and spent some quality time on the couch.

Honestly, I’d say that I only have myself to blame for this one. I got all excited about my progress through the course material, started patting myself on the back, and that’s when I realized I was Icarus – too close to the sun and my wings were melting.

But seriously, wax? The guy never heard of glue? I mean, sure, they wouldn’t have had gorilla glue or duct tape back then, but I’m thinking a basic understanding of adhesives probably existed.

Although it now occurs to me, maybe I shouldn’t complain about the handy parable that so nicely sums up the day. If nothing else, it’s a convenient comparison for me to trot out. Let’s just agree that I would have done it smarter, shall we?

So, let’s see…

Study – none.

Creative – none. Although I did help the kiddo start making a new stop motion animation flick on the weekend, using the iPad. That one didn’t get too far before she got bored, though. She spent an hour just setting up her Littlest Pet Shop figures for it, so by the time we actually got to “filming” I guess the excitement had worn off.

Playing – a whole lot of Darkest Dungeon over the weekend. It’s a computer game that does the old-style-fantasy-world-dungeon-crawl-thing, but with a twist. The characters actually get stressed out, and slowly start to go… well, nuts. Exploring dark places and fighting fiendish… uh… fiends? is not for the faint of heart. Seriously, if they get stressed enough they literally have a heart attack in the middle of a fight. It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so frustrating when it happens.

So I guess that’s about it. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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So much larger than life

Speaking of achievements, I realized something very surprising today. You see, I’m studying online, working my way through the material one screen at a time. Which means I haven’t been paying much attention to how far I’ve been getting.

Well, when I opened up the book today (yes, I also have a physical book) to the chapter that I’m on, I realized that I’m already at the halfway point!

I admit it, I was both surprised and pleased. The best estimate I had for doing this “hardcore” was one month. But it seems I might be done the basic course material by the end of next week, if I keep up the pace. Then there’s a study guide and a practice test, but I’d think that given another week for those I’d probably be in good shape to write the real test.

So I went out and checked the test schedule. The next sitting is mid-October at a local college, so I signed myself up.

Anyway, I’m officially staking claim to the “Halfway in one week” achievement, and you can’t do anything to stop me. So don’t even try, buddy. In fact, I’m thinking a little genuflection is in order. So make with the bowing and scraping.

Uh… please?

The rest of the day was a bit mixed up. Let’s review:

Study – logged 3.5 hours, which is a little less than usual. But I ended early to go have lunch.

Lunch – actual human contact! Went out with a friend and had a nice meal and some good conversation.

Other – dropped by the old office to pick up a card after lunch. Thanks to all the folks who signed it. Hope you’re following along here, and that at least some of it is entertaining.

Creative – found the new webcam in the mailbox when I got back. One day delivery from Vancouver. Apparently they’ve got owls working for them. Oh, wait… maybe that’s drones. Which reminds me, screaming condors might make for some superlative anti-drone action (credit to Neal for that one).

Soundtrack – Peter Gabriel (solo).

So, that’s the round up for today. Perhaps a less entertaining post than some, but it’s been a week and I’m off to play some computer games. So there you have it.

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Just call me Rip

Day 4 began at 6 am, when I woke up just minutes after my alarm would normally go off, glanced at my clock, and decided to Van Winkle it. In fact, lack of sleep is such a mighty theme for me, I’m thinking of doing the legal name change. Wouldn’t that be cool?

“Hey, it’s Van Winkle!” Just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?

Oh! You could just call me VW! Y’know, without the diesel problems. (That one’s for you, Neal.)

Which makes me think, maybe once we’re all grown up we should have to change our name to the popular figure or character we most resemble. It’d make getting to know people a whole lot easier. For instance:

“Well, Mr. Judas, I’m not sure I can just take your word for it…”

“Thanks for your application, Mr. Ripper, but we’ve decided to go with another candidate.”

Anyway, once I got myself moving a few hours later it turned into a jam packed day. Let’s review:

Study – a million types of investment products, including bonds, equities, and stuff that no sane person should ever invest in. Anybody ever tells you that gambling is illegal, just laugh at them and mention the derivatives market or speculation. You just gotta be rich to gamble legally, that’s all. But, despite the late start, I clocked another 5 hours, which really calls for a “5 hours on a late start” achievement. Anybody good at graphic design wanna mock that up for me?

Creative – uh… time was short after my studying. (Did I mention that it was 5 hours? On a late start?) I did order a new webcam. Does that count?

Strata – went across the street to check on the new stairs, and ended up talking to a neighbour for an hour about various things that need to be done. Good times, my friends. Good times. I think that deserves a “Took responsibility for other people’s problems” achievement.

Dinner – an aborted attempt at BBQ chicken, which fell apart when I realized the propane tank was empty. But fear not, good reader! I am a master of culinary chicanery, and quickly turned that into butter chicken for me and chicken and cranberry for the kidlet. That’s gotta be good for a “Last minute menu swap” achievement.

Sountrack – a little Rock ‘n Roll Jesus from Kid Rock, some Scissor Sisters, and “Move like a soldier” on repeat courtesy of my young ‘un.

What’s with all the achievements? Well, I figure I gotta gamify this thing somehow. You’d be amazed what people will do to get meaningless achievements in games. Or maybe that’s just me… but listen, a 20% achievement rating on Steam just means that I haven’t played my games enough!

Ummm… what problem? I don’t have a problem.

Although, now that I’m thinking about it, Operation Screaming Condor is seriously in need of an achievement list!

Right, so, speaking of games, we played a board game called Machi Koro at the board game cafe last night. It’s got a lot of mechanism that’re similar to Catan, if you’ve played that one. Build a little town, roll the dice, get income from buildings in the town that match the die roll. Race to build.

BUT… this thing dragged out way too long. Probably because we’d never played before and the copy at the cafe came with two full expansions. It also had a ton of cards that let you steal from each other, so building up piles of money was hard. It was more of a spend it or lose it scenario. Anyway, I think the game would be worth playing without the expansions, for a shorter experience. Not sure I really enjoyed the long game.

And now I’m off for a little Robotech reading and some sack time.

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