Is Wired Getting Tired?

I’m loath to admit it, but I’m afraid that this month’s Wired magazine that came sneaking through my mail slot this afternoon is not their best work.

Wired Magazine, Feburary 2005

I’m loath to admit it, but I’m afraid that this month’s Wired magazine that came sneaking through my mail slot this afternoon is not their best work. The cover article is on Firefox, and it’s early beginnings with Blake Ross & Ben Goodger. I enjoyed getting to read about the two of them and the history on my favorite open source software. However, 1.0 came out in the Fall of last year. No one was staying up late to get this story done for print. To point, the article closes with the "where are they now" bit on Ross and Goodger, explaining that Goodger plans to stay at the Mozilla Foundation. Of course, this evening Slashdot reports that Goodger plans to go work for Google, effective two weeks ago.

In another article, the prolific Lawrence Lessig writes how Wilco is the new model for a rock band of the future. You should read his article (and pretty much anything else he writes), but again we’re not talking about any recent happenings here. Wilco broke record company hearts with Yankee Foxtrot Hotel way back in April of 2002. I was a newly-wed back then! And even then, they were about as big as bands get in the alt-country scene. Just ask my brother, Dave. I enjoyed the piece none-the-less, but Jeff Tweedy must be just as oblique in person as he is as a songwriter.

Lastly, one of the little tidbits in Wired I always look forward to, other than their FOUND: Artifacts From the Future closer each month, is the Jargon Watch. This month, they gave me:

Buttnumbathon – A painfully long and boring movie. See: Oliver Stone’s Alexander. (Better yet, don’t.) Also the name of reviewer Harry Knowles’ annual film marathon and birthday bash.

Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News has been throwing these things together for the last six years running! This is not the latest in jargon my friends.

I’m looking forward to next month’s Wired. They’ve got two months now to find some new stuff. Since MacExpo S.F. and CES L.V., maybe they’ll have at least plenty of gadgets to write about.

Fast-Paced First Week

I can hardly believe that five whole days have gone by since I started my new job. I have to say that I’m feeling a great deal more optimistic since my last post, too.

My Office View

Looking out the window at my new office onto the snow from the last two days in Richmond.

I can hardly believe that five whole days have gone by since I started my new job. I think that even after psyching my self up for a month, I wasn’t prepared for the quick pace of work here. I got on a project first thing on Monday morning, and I’ve been busy with it pretty much the entire time since (well, at work anyway). I have to say that I’m feeling a great deal more optimistic since my last post, too. It’s not that I thought I’d made a mistake, it was just that sinking feeling of realizing just how much I was stepping backward, in a career sense.

My boss and I did get to make a site visit downtown Richmond on Tuesday, though. It was about 20º F, in the sun with 15-20 mph winds. I have a whole new level of respect for those construction guys out grouting lintel seats and hanging structural steel. Insane. We’ve had snow the last couple of days here in Richmond, so I doubt they’ve had much of a chance to continue. This photo is looking out my new office window. I took it around lunch on Friday. I realize it’s not a spectacular view, but since I couldn’t see any daylight from the desk at my old job, I feel as though I’ve moved up in the world.

I’ve spent the week learning all about RAM International‘s Structural System design software package. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed thus far. I’ve used a number of software solutions for structural analysis and design, and RAM has lived up to its billing as a one of the best. It is very much geared to the building industry, and therefore can tailor its solutions accordingly. I miss some of the open ended-ness of some of the other packages I’ve used (STAAD, GTSTRUDL) or even the more straight forward frame input of other building design software (RISA 3D). However, you trade all that for the speed and complete-ness that RAM offers. Sure, I can’t custom edit elements to create out-of-plan beams, for example. What I can do, though, is enter in and design an entire two-story school building in a manner of hours. Pretty slick.

The other task this week was learning a little more about building construction. Fortunately, the education system for the structures portion of civil engineering is catered to the building industry. I got to spend the last 3 years learning a good bit about bridge design (albeit, only steel bridges). Now, I get to actually use some of the things I learned in school towards design. Now, if only I could start using LRFD steel design.

Just as an aside, I’m using a new utility for WordPress called FlickIt. It simply adds a quicktag to your editor allowing to easily insert a hyperlinked Flickr image. It’s not perfect, but works does exactly what it claims to and is free (after they got into a little trouble with the company that owns Flickr for charging). Anyway, I mention it because I know a lot of my friends use both WordPress and Flickr and might want an easier way of getting them to play together.

The New Job Begins

I can say whole-heartedly, I have begun all over again.

My first day at Stroud, Pence, & Associates was today. I can say whole-heartedly, I have begun all over again. It’s certainly humbling, but a good experience. I’m with a much smaller outfit now, and everyone comes across as being good natured and supportive (not that they weren’t at URS).

I got an e-mail from a friend today who, upon reading this blog, was worried that things might not be going so well. I hadn’t thought about the tone that previous post might have had until that. So, the story thus far (skip to next paragraph if you’ve heard this one): after some soul-searching, I decided that the time in my life to try the other branch of structural engineering was now. The other branch being building design, as I was formerly working in the design of bridges. I took a job offer with a engineering firm based out of Virginia Beach, VA (see above) in mid-December, and left my job at URS Corporation on the 7th of this month.

That gets us to my first day. I’m very fortunate to be a company with plenty of work. I was added as a structural engineer to a building design first thing this morning (apparently, my boss thought this would be a good learning project). Of course, what most people wouldn’t know that aren’t in the structural business, the pace of building design is a great deal faster than that of bridges (months, as opposed to years). So, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, but not surprised. I’ve a great deal to learn, but that was the very idea behind taking the job. I’ve also had a month to psyche myself up for the process.

I suppose, I should feel pretty good about the first day. As it turns out, the hardest part was filling out all those tax and benefit forms. The structures part, what little there was of it today, came easy. I’m sure that will change soon enough, but I’m not going to rush it.

My Last Day

There’s some handwriting on the wall, but I can’t quite make it out…

There’s some handwriting on the wall, but I can’t quite make it out…

Many of you know that today was my last day working as a structural engineer for URS Corporation here in Richmond. My co-workers took me out ot a nice lunch at the nearby Mexican restaurant yesterday and pretty much all of my personal belongings have been brought home.

It has been good getting to work with all of the people there and I was able to work on some great projects. However, I came to realize that the kinds of projects I would most likely be seeing there were like the ones I had been doing. That being said, there wasn’t much promise of even more of the same coming. I didn’t expect I would be laid off, but I damn sure wasn’t about see another employee with kids or something get laid off before me, either.

I will admit that there were some times when I thought that the conversations on politics or religion were going to make my head explode. However, when you don’t have much in the way of workload, people tend to get into those kind of conversations. I for one think those are about as appropriate for a place of business as cut-off denim shorts, but that’s just me. All differences aside, I have been fortunate to work with a good group for the last three years.

I hope that all the people there at my old office will check in here often, as I’m sure I’ll have something to say about my new workplace. Also, that way, they can really get to know my opinion on all sorts of things I didn’t really care to discuss at work… such as cut-off denim shorts. Man, I hate those things…

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to post a short message here wishing all my readers (okay, my Mom & Dad!) a Merry Christmas. Also, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus and all other biggie-December holidays (hence, the non-specific ‘Happy Holidays’ that has some folks banning stores). Best wishes and Happy New Year.

I’m currently with my wife visiting with all of her family. Then, we’re off to land of dial-ups and non-24-hour supermarkets to visit my family in the mountains. At least we have snow (okay, ice & slush), if not broadband.

And I Thought I Was Having A Bad Day

Harry With Elizabethan Collar and Head Bandage

Here I was feeling sorry for myself that I was out on site until very early this morning. Well around 8:00am Angela called me to tell me Harry was bleeding badly and needed to be taken to the Vet. Turns out he just had a small tear in his ear, so he’s okay. I don’t think he’s too happy, though.

While all the forensic evidence isn’t back from the lab yet, we’re pretty sure it was some doggy rough-housing while Angela was busy with breakfast. Sometimes our newer dog, Maggie, doesn’t seem to realize she’s about 2 1/2 times the size of Harry. Harry also doesn’t keep this fact in mind sometimes while wrestling her. The good news is, Harry gets to take the bandage off on Monday.

This Site’s Not All That’s Under Construction

Well, I’ve just come back in from the cold. Literally. I’ve been out most all night and into the morning at a construction site in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia on a construction monitoring job. Yes, I watch people work on construction. It’s not a bad gig, if you’ve got long thermal underwear and a good book to read by dome-light in your car. Oh yeah, you’ll also want a decent pair of work boots because the stuff that this operation digs up is like walking through the waste site of a modeling clay factory.

Setting up to take level shots at the construciton site

Essentially, a Jack & Bore pipe installation is a method of pushing a pipe through the ground from one opening to the next, all the while, using a auger inside the pipe to bore out the soil it is displacing. It’s a good way to get a pipe under something you can’t disturb, like say a railroad. Wikipedia doesn’t have anything on Jacking and Boring pipe, and I didn’t see anything with much googlarity to even bother with posting on here. Suffice it to say, if you really need to know about this sort of procedure, then you probably already do.

However, this doesn’t really explain why I’m posting about it at the middle of the morning on the weekend. Back to the whole monitoring thing, I’m out with a co-working taking surveying data and writing field reports covering the construction underway. It’s boring enough, but on top of that, the current temperature outside is around 35° F. I’m not really loving my job right now.

That’s too bad, because my co-worker just called my room and it’s off to the job site to take another round of level shots.

What Is Geeky?

So, which makes me a bigger geek? That I’m selling a bunch of old home network equipment on ebay, or the very fact that I have all this stuff in the first place? Okay, I’ve had a home network for several years now, and I’ve been trying to upgrade along the way. First wired with Cat5e strung everywhere, then Wireless-B, and now Wireless-G (well, mixed mode if you consider my TiVo connection). Say that reminds me, does anybody in the world have any idea when TiVo ToGo is going to be available? Seriously, if not soon, TiVo really will die.

I’m sort of parodying those Victoria’s Secret commercials; “Victoria’s Secret Asks: What Is Sexy?” I’m including the link just so the by-line makes any sense. I’m very conscious about that sort of thing.