Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Geek Alert - proceed with caution

I think I mentioned that I got a new laptop:  i7 fifth generation CPU, 12G of ram, 17" screen.  Windows 8.1 (I'm slowly circling closer to it, still don't particularly like most of the changes) with Dragon speech recognition software.  Kinda cool to just say "hey, Dragon, shut down the computer" as I walk away and it does!  Other commands, not so much.  Just realized I should have done this post by verbally dictating it to the new laptop, but I'm still on my old(er) desktop for pretty much everything but what I bought the laptop for.

What did I buy it to do?  Well...  In my job I need to get more conversant in databases.  To be specific, Oracle, Sybase, Netezza, and SQL databases.  I say conversant because I'm not creating databases, designing them, tuning them or anything else an actual DBA would be doing.  This actually totally frustrates the actual DBA folks who work with me.  However, I need to know how to peer into the belly of the database and diagnose the symptoms presented to me in the form of incident tickets.  Oracle does a fantastic job of making itself available for download free in the form of virtual machines (files that when opened in proper software look and act like actual separate computers) and I needed more horsepower to do that.  I want to try things before jumping on Big Customer's production servers and running commands that could cause another big market crash if I caused the server to incinerate itself.  Seems like a good idea anyway.

Oracle is covered, or will be when I get over my rising panic to actually open up one of the downloaded virtual machines and start playing.  The really nice thing about this setup is that it is just a file.  If I incinerate it, I just load another copy of it and off I go.  I need something similar, or maybe at least a good recommendation on books or videos on Sybase, and maybe an introduction to Netezza.  To be honest, I haven't done much research to see what is out there.  I've kinda been occupied with the Oracle side.  I was hired, or rather moved over to this side, based on my SQL knowledge, but we haven't taken that over yet.  It is just a matter of time, which I need to use to brush up on  the details of the interface.

These are the things that try to keep me off the street and out of trouble.  I did manage to wrestle the laptop to the ground and get a backup image of it before downloading the virtual machine software to it.  There is a nice, free utility online called Rufus.  I was able to get a thumbdrive  to format as a bootable device and then use my imaging software to image the original setup of the disk on the laptop.  That was step one.  In case I end up incinerating the entire OS.  The process wants tweaking in that I want a larger thumbdrive (128G...) so I can put the image on the thumbdrive instead of needing an external usb drive also hooked up to take the image.  Too many drives available and it is just a matter of time until I try to take an image of itself and incinerate the wrong thing.  This is the voice of experience.  There is a reason I'm so paranoid about backups.

I warned you.  This is the side of me I don't write about much.  I haven't done much in several years is another reason.  This is actually fun stuff for me.  I'm weird in other ways as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rainy day in Algodones

The backup pair of glasses I've been wearing for the past couple of months because they are the only ones I can see out of now fell apart again on Thursday.  A problem with having the only set of glasses that I can see out of break is that I can't see to fix them.  I went into work using a pair that I can see distance sort of ok, and pleaded my case with my younger co-workers.  One of them got the lens back into the glasses and finangled his way to getting the frame tight enough to hold it.  I knew it was time for new glasses, though.

I decided to head to Algodones early on Tuesday.  It means that I have to switch to a daytime awake slot, but that is the only way to get anything done.  I got to the casino at the interstate turnoff to Algodones around 6am and did pretty well at the machines until a bit after 9am, when it was time to head on down.  I looked out and it was raining.  I'd hoped that it would just stay cloudy with just a spit or two of rain, but my luck didn't hold.

Deciding again that it was best to just get wet (I don't do umbrellas) I walked over into town.  I had enough cash for glasses and maybe a dental appointment if the new dentist I want to use was available, and if I could find her office.  I was immediately escorted by the extremely helpful and friendly guys at the crossing into town to the first optical place inside the gate, and checked out their frames while discussing price.  I just didn't find any frames that tripped my trigger.  I extricated myself (not easy once you are inside usually) and started walking.  Constant friendly young(ish) males kept attempting to guide me to the best/cheapest dental/optical places.  It kind of creeps me out that there are so many combination optical/dental offices.  I guess it makes sense for there, but I'm thinking that jack of all trades, master of neither is what comes across.

I managed to get far enough into town that I was basically left alone, and found a place that looked a bit larger than most of the optical places.  The doctor and receptionist were busy helping an older, hard of hearing gentleman get the idea that if he was not happy with his current medical doctor in Yuma, that the optician was recommending a good Mexican doctor.  The gentleman was loudly repeating his woes with his US doctor, and the optician was gently bringing him back to the piece of paper with the Mexican doctor's information on it.

I took the time to check out their frames.  Nothing was grabbing me, but I was able to get a good feel for the options.  Once I had their attention, the doctor and receptionist checked out my glasses and told me that because of my somewhat complex prescription using the lightweight polymer lenses and with all the coatings I wanted it would be $300.  They don't do contacts like I want.  I do believe them (and not just because I was told the same thing at another place) because they were not really interested in wheeling and dealing.

Basically I decided to go ahead and get my exam here in Phoenix and try for the new contacts to see if I can wear them comfortably.  I may go back for glasses in Mexico, or order online.  I feel I would get a good exam at the place I checked in Algodones, but I couldn't get contacts in the US from his prescription I don't believe.  So...  back at square one for the  glasses.

I found the office of Dr. Eva Urena, the dentist I think I want to do my implant.  She is basically out of the office until August.  Makes sense that this would be her vacation time as the gringos who make up most of the customers in Algodones are fewer and far between in the summer.  So, I'll call them early in August to start that process.

It was still raining as I made my way back across the border and to my Jeep in the parking lot.  I dried off as best I could and headed home, via the Paradise casino in Yuma.  It is hidden (don't let the sign at the interstate fool you as it fooled me).  My GPS managed to find it, and I now know where downtown Yuma is located, as well as the old prison. I lost what I was ahead from the other casino, but overall walked out even for the day.

By the time I got home I had been up for over 24hrs.  I slept for about 4 hours, got up as long as I could stay awake, and after sleeping (cat napping really) all day I got up at my usual time this evening.  I'm thinking work will be difficult to stay awake for tomorrow night.