Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Eve Update

You would probably expect this to be about Christmas seein' as it is on Christmas Eve. But not really. Just thought I'd touch on a few topics. I've been stepping up my use of Facebook and Twitter, so some of the update stuff has been redirected. That's what really got me to deciding to come here. Feel like I've been neglecting my own site. So where to start.

Probably the first thing would be to mention some software update news. Yesterday I downloaded and installed Thunderbird 3.0 on both my work desktop and my home laptop (Win partition). So still need to do the work laptop, and my Linux distros here at the house. TB 3.0 has a very different interface (but they apparently give you the ability to retain the old one). I'm still getting used to it. The initial shock of the change was a little disconcerting, but I'm starting to warm to it (especially now that I've got the Lightning and Google provider beta add-ons installed).

And on the Mozilla front, my Firefox got updated to 3.5.7 at home yesterday as I get the beta distributions when they come out. Out a small handful of technical changes to fix bugs there.

Also last night, I went ahead and downloaded and installed the OpenOffice.org 3.2 beta. Two changes in it that I was really looking for. First, I can now select several, non-adjacent cells in Calc and apply underlining (perhaps some other formatting as well). Also, you can now insert a column or row into a range that has merged cells. Both of these would have been very useful the past couple months while I was working on budgets for work. Now if I could just figure out how to get the developers to implement something similar to MS's accounting format for cells.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been attending some training sessions for CPE on technology topics.  Last week was the NCACPA Techfest.  Had skipped that for a couple years.  Unfortunately, nothing has changed - still a heavy focus on MS products and technologies to the exclusion of better and cheaper alternatives.  This week I attended a session on digital security and privacy.  Not so much privacy, but good stuff on security.  Picked up some new ideas, like setting up VPN within my home network.  Might also be able to use it to get wireless running at my job.  All of this really makes me want to get in and start cleaning up some things with the home net, including getting hard drives cleaned and organized, etc.  All a time-consuming process and probably need to drop a small bit of $$$ on some hardware.  Though I'd really like to take the plunge and retire my existing server hardware with something a little newer.  Just such a pain though, especially with all the competition for my time.

Transitioning a bit to work, change is certainly afoot there.  Since the beginning of October, the Director of Accounting, Accounting Manager, and Procurement & Contracts Officer (Director of Procurement) have all left DHA.  So those of us left are kind of running on fumes right now trying to make sure everything gets done.  Which is a bit of a challenge with the requirements HUD Greensboro has placed on us.  But, this has given me a chance to do some reorganizing of the department and bring a different, and I hope more appropriate, skill set for the services we provide.  And I hope to get some really qualified folks to fill the vacant positions, which will let me focus on more of the improvement projects.

My department is not the only one challenged with vacancies.  Perhaps the "keynote" was the announcement by our CEO last week that he is resigning.  He had to give a 90-day notice, so he should be around through at least mid-March.  And apparently he has agreed to stay on longer if necessary until his successor is on board.

The MINI continues to entertain me.  Back in November I led a Turkey Trot Rally.  Started out in Eden, NC, with 18-20 MINIs and we traveled some backroad twisties up to Floyd, VA.  At least part of the route overlapped with what Twister normally does on his Mabry Mill run.  I know this as we went by the Lover's Leap birdhouse place.  Floyd was an interesting place as we had a run-in with LEO.  I think it was a VA state trooper, but not 100% certain.  Not sure whether he was just throwing his weight around a bit and didn't like us up there, if the people who supposedly were complaining about us were intolerant or what.  Anyway, it left a bad taste in several folk's mouths.  Not sure whether I can lead a group back up there, which may be a challenge.  I've been working on a 2010 version of a covered bridge run and Floyd County has several that I thought I would use.  I may have to reconsider now.

Some of the members of the club are working on getting RMW to come and do a custom tune day in NC.  I'd really like to do this.  I've seen results showing a stock MINI can get a 10% gain in horsepower and torque.  That seems like a really good result.  But, the cost is $650 plus the time on the dyno, so probably pushing $800?  Not sure I can scrape together the funds for that by early February.  And of course I'd have to forego some other planned purchases like some suspension mods (and see the stuff about home network improvements above).

So 2009 is drawing to a close.  What does 2010 hold?  Hopefully I can finally get started on learning Greek so I can read The Bible in its original language (at least the NT portion).  Perhaps a home network upgrade?  Maybe I should pursue my PMP certification?  Learn to play the guitar (at least a tiny little bit)?  What else?

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