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An update!

I may have earlier mentioned a complaint that my work computer was sluggish and had a small monitor.  Well, a few weeks ago my boss arranged for a different monitor.  It is still a big CRT, but at least it is big.  Heh.  So now I can actually use a decent resolution without squinting.  A little while later he also bought a 1GB DIMM for the computer – so now I have 1.5GB.  That made ALL the difference.  This week I’ve been pretty busy and have had open 4 Firefox windows, Outlook with ~50 emails open at any one time, and a bunch of other miscellaneous Word and Excel files.  The system has run SO smoothly.
 
Speaking of work at Quest – I’m absolutely loving it.  Being on live systems is sometimes stressful, but it is also kind of exhilarating.  It ensures that I feel like the work I’m doing actually makes a difference to the customers and company.  Rich has been an excellent instructor for things I don’t know.  Sometimes I feel a little down when I think I should know something but don’t – but I get over it pretty quickly.
 
I’m learning so much about networking topologies and how things can/should work outside of a lab environment.  I’m learning how to track down problems in log files (it is pretty neat to actually have real data in the log files in which to surf through).  One concept I still really need to learn is IP addressing and subnetting.  The concept really baffles me.  I understand why IP addresses are set up the way they are, but I find it difficult to know what a server’s subnet mask, network and gateways should be.  I think some of it is due to general screwiness  in the datacenter, but other parts I can probably memorize and I just haven’t yet.
 
There is also dull stuff like creating user accounts, but even that makes me feel useful.  I’ve been here a little over a month and I’ve helped to reduce Rich’s workload.  I’ve cleared out a bunch of tickets from Peregrine (the system Quest uses to track help desk requests).  Rich is in training this week at Dell in Austin, Texas but he told me over the phone that I’ve been doing an awesome job.  That means a lot to me.
 
My biggest annoyance is Red Hat Network Satellite Server.  Well, maybe its really the virtual machine we have it running in.  Anyway, the thing is really slow; useful but slow.  And so it looses its usefulness.  When Rich gets back on Monday we’ll be moving the server to its own physical hardware, and that should help it a lot.
 
There is still nothing concrete about extending my contract past 6 months or even becoming permanent.  I’m certain by now (with the praise he’s given me) that Rich would love for me to stay on.  We’ll just have to wait and see if the position requisition is available at that time.  I know for sure that Rich would love for someone else to be able to take the on-call duties.  I’m not sure I want that, though :-p  Hrmm, having the Blackberry might be a nice perk!
 
The last few weeks at Penn State Great Valley I took Statistics for Managerial Decision Making.  It was an interesting course, but I enjoyed it mostly because I learned a lot about Excel.  I got an A for the course (just found out).  Next week I start Database Design Concepts.
 
“This course is designed to foster a comprehensive understanding of database design concepts and possibilities emphasizing the important role these concepts play in organization today. Such an understanding is valuable for prospective developers, managers, and decision makers. Upon completion of this course students will gain an in depth understanding of:  Relational Modeling, Relational Algebra, Structured Query Language, and Data Normalization.”
 
You may choose between one of two projects: either a research report or a database implementation. The research report will be on a topic of your choice pertaining to database systems history, applications, design, technology, etc. The topic must be approved by the instructor. Assessment will be based on the quality of your reporting, literature search, quality of writing, and professional appearance of the report.
The database implementation will involve designing and setting up a live database using a technology of your choosing (e.g. MySQL) for an enterprise of your choosing (e.g. mailing/contact list, video collection, family tree, etc.) The project must be approved by the instructor. Assessment will be based on the quality of the database schema/design, query support, integrity, and so on. The quality of the GUI is less important. A brief written report describing the project and a demo will be required.
 
Considering I took a database course in college and am somewhat familiar with SQL, I think I should do well in this course.  I’m almost excited to have to create a database for something.
 
A few weeks back, Janet and I went up to Big Boulder with some friends.  It was Janet’s first time skiing, and my second (if you count the time I went in Boy Scouts and only went down the bunny slope once before giving up).  This adventure involved a lot of shopping the night before for Under Armor and “snow bibs” which we had talked about getting but never had the impetus to purchase.  We figured that even if we didn’t like skiing we would be able to us the new attire while snow tubing.
 
On that Saturday we went to Big Boulder.  Tim taught us a few basics at the bottom of the slope and then took us up to the top of the beginner slope.  Then he stayed with us for the hour plus it took us to get to the bottom.  We both fell many, many times.  I think we took a warmth/food break and then went out again.  We did the same thing on a second slope.  After that second run, I gave up – for life.  Sure you could say I should have given it one or two more runs, but I really was not having fun.  Janet went in and out with Tim the rest of the afternoon and she really enjoyed the experience.  I spent the afternoon in the warm lodge with Steph and Sarah.  In the evening we decided to go snow tubing too.  That was a lot more fun (to me).  It was a pretty long day by the time we got home.
 
Ever since that day, Janet said she wanted to go skiing again.  She really enjoyed it that much.  So this past Saturday we went to Spring Mountain.  Janet’s sister came with us, but Mary and I stayed in the lodge and played cards while Janet went out skiing.  Yeah, I sort of feel bad that I don’t enjoy skiing like Janet does, but I suppose we can’t be expected to share all the same interests.  I’m glad we found out about this ski place though, because it is a short drive and fairly inexpensive.  We can probably go a couple times next year to give Janet a “ski fix.”

More to come tomorrow, maybe.