The dangers of free promotional crap.

At my job as an IT Jedi one of the responsibilities I’ve been handed is the purchasing of miscellaneous items that are sometimes needed. Replacement hard drives, memory upgrades, adapter cables, that sort of thing. Every week or two I put together a list of requested purchases from our users and, when approved, I place the order with Newegg and/or, on the rare occasion, Amazon. When I look for items I try to find stuff that’s on sale and sometimes those things come with promotional items at no extra charge. For example, we’ve gotten free universal power adapters in the past which I tossed in a drawer and hand out when someone leaves their laptop charger at home.

A recent purchase of a Samsung SSD for one of our users came with a promotional item too. The video game Assassin’s Creed Unity. It’s important to note that I am not dumb enough to try and get away with using a corporate credit card to buy myself a video game, especially one I’ve no particular interest in (I’m way behind on AC games not even having played AC III yet). I noted it was included as a promotional item at no extra charge and didn’t think much of it because Samsung has done stuff like that in the past with the second Batman video game.

As it turns out it wasn’t a promotion by Samsung, but by Newegg themselves so it showed up on the list of items being purchased. I couldn’t see any way to remove it from the order so I let it go through. It ended up showing up on in the cart as an item immediately followed by a credit for the full amount thus costing the company nothing. When the invoices came in, however, the order was split over more than one of them and for some reason the credit for the game shows up on an entirely different invoice than the one the “purchase” shows up on. So it looks like I bought a game on the company card.

When I came into work today I had an email from the fellow who has to justify all the purchases of stuff from Newegg (it’s his company card we use) asking me to refrain from buying game codes on the company card even if it didn’t actually cost the company anything. I explained that I didn’t have a choice as there didn’t appear to be a way to tell Newegg no thanks for the freebie and I didn’t even want the game to begin with, but that I’d try to avoid it in the future if at all possible. I’m not in any real trouble and I can understand how it looks a bit odd to the higher ups so it’d be best to not repeat it.

Here’s the kicker to this little story: I tried the game code — it was free and it’s not like the company is going to use it. The game boots up and gets to the title screen with the PRESS ANY BUTTON TO START message. When you press a button it tries to play the opening cinematic and immediately crashes to the desktop.

This GIF seemed appropriate to this story.

This GIF seemed appropriate to this story.

It looks like it’s going to be a sleepless night.

I apologize for not posting something sooner — it’s been long enough that my mother sent me an email asking me to update SEB — but it’s been a busy few weeks. Anne has started a new job that has her getting up at 5AM so the both of us have been going to bed earlier than usual the past couple of weeks.

I’ve also been heavily involved in a PC refresh at work. Most of the laptops we currently have are over 5 years old so the IT department has started purchasing replacements and I’ve been trying to upgrade anywhere from two to four people a day to their new machines. We only got 24 new machines in this first go-round, but that’s enough to keep me jumping. We’ll be doing several more batches throughout the year.

In addition to that, our company just struck a new deal with T-Mobile that sees everyone being upgraded from the crappy flip-phones they’ve been using to a brand spanking new iPhone 6s. Guess who also handles phone issues at our site? Since last Thursday we’ve been working on this and it’s been a painful learning process in part because upgrading from the flip-phones isn’t as simple as you’d think it would be and also because we’re offering to let people port over their personal numbers into a business number if they want to. Not to mention the process of setting up an iPhone to be managed by the IT department is easily a 40 minute process by itself. The amount of training I had on this was minimal due to the fact that the folks in Ohio who were teaching me weren’t completely up to speed on how to do everything themselves. This has resulted in any number of hiccups, but we’re slowly making progress and the folks I support have been very gracious in their patience.

Tonight, however, worries have me back out of bed at 11:30 in the evening and I’m not sure if I’ll get back to sleep tonight or not. Our emergency backup cat, Jasper, has suddenly started vomiting his food back up at least once a day for the past several days. My first thought was we got a bad batch of hard food, but Cuddles doesn’t seem to be having any issues himself. He doesn’t seem to be any less active than usual or showing any obvious signs of distress so we weren’t sure if there’s a serious problem or if he’s just eating too fast and getting sick after roughhousing with Cuddles. I called the vet’s office today and they said we better bring him in just in case so we have an appointment for Saturday afternoon.

My daughter is also having relationship issues with her mother at the moment that has resulted in a couple of exasperated phone calls from Courtney this evening, one of them after we had gone to bed. Things will probably have settled down by the morning, but it’s hard not to worry if she’s going to do something rash like try to live out of her car until she can afford an apartment because she and her mother can’t seem to get along anymore.

I’ve been laying in bed tossing and turning since the last phone call and I eventually decided to get up to pee. Jasper joined me in the bathroom where he jumped in the tub and crouched as though he were trying to urinate. This is way out of character for him and he stood that way for several minutes. When he finally moved there were two very small pools of urine in the tub. Barely any at all. One of the issues the vet was concerned about was dehydration from the vomiting and this would seem to confirm those worries. After I finished doing my business I went looking for him to see if he was OK and at first I couldn’t’ find him. Checking the litter boxes in the basement I noticed another very small pool of urine next to one so he’s clearly having issues.

I found him here in the computer room. He’s curled up on Anne’s chair sleeping next to me at the moment. Now I have to decide if I should take the day off and take him into urgent care or see if the vet can squeeze him in. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow so I really should go to work, but I don’t think I can risk waiting until Saturday to take him in. Anne certainly can’t take the day off as she just started this job a couple of weeks ago. Getting back to sleep with him in distress is probably not going to happen either even though he seems to be sleeping peacefully at the moment.

Lots of pressures and stresses at the moment. If I hadn’t already shaved my head my hair would probably be falling out. I hate this feeling of not knowing what to do whether it’s in trying to get someone a new phone to do their job or help my daughter to find a place of her own or whether to rush my cat into an animal urgent care. As a kid, the adults in my life always seemed to know what they were doing and I always figured that when the time came I’d know what to do too. I must have missed school the day that held that class because more often than not I’m just winging it by the minute and I hate that.

On a lighter note, I had been letting my hair grow out for the winter only to be reminded why I shave my head. Once it gets to a certain length it’s impossible to get it to behave and I end up looking like this:

You'll note the permanent wave I've got going on there.

You’ll note the permanent wave I’ve got going on there.

Last Wednesday I finally gave up and shaved it off so I’m back to looking like this:

Crazy eyebrows still intact.

Crazy eyebrows still intact.

Well, it’s now 12:08AM and I should probably try to go back to bed. Probably won’t, but I probably should. I’m feeling anxious and it’s amazing how well that suppresses any tiredness you’d otherwise feel. Here’s hoping the morning brings with it some clarity and positive resolutions to at least some of my immediate concerns.

Not Today (The Building Is on Fire)

The folks at Songify The News (previously Auto-Tune The News) have a new hit out:

Here’s the original video they made this out of:

If you’d like to help Michelle Dobyne, the woman in the video, as she tries to recover from the fire that prompted her awesome interview, there’s a GoFundMe page for her here: https://www.gofundme.com/cyhnqkpw

Welcome to 2016.

Here we are! We’ve made it another year. With the Presidential election coming up in the fall I’m sure it’s going to be a doozy, but my more immediate concern will be getting back into the rhythm of working as my vacation has come to an end and I return to the grind wheel this morning. After three weeks off I’m sure I’m going to have a ton of stuff to dig through. Not to mention there’s a big swap of company phones and a refresh of older PCs that are probably ready to go. Alas, my plans of hitting the lotto over vacation didn’t come to pass so I’ll have to go back, but at least it’s to a job I enjoy and where I seem to be appreciated. That’s a lot more than some folks can say.

Beyond that I didn’t have a lot to say other than Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season, whichever ones you were participating in. As for myself, I think this picture of Cuddles, the official SEB cat, sums up how my vacation went pretty well.

cuddlesnapping

Merry Christmas from all of us here at SEB.

We’ve made it to another Christmas. Whether you celebrate the season or not, here’s hoping you and yours are healthy, happy, and together.

In honor of the day, here is this year’s Lil’ Bub’s Most Magical Yule Log for you to run in the background while unwrapping your presents from Santa:

The day before the day before Christmas

Haven’t posted anything in awhile so I thought I should toss something up. I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half which means I have a week and a half to go before going back to work. I’ve been taking the last three weeks of the year off since I started in my current position mainly because I can. It’s one of the few jobs I’ve had in my career that offered any amount of vacation time and being able to spend three weeks doing nothing in particular is a kind of bliss. The only problem with being on vacation is that I lose all track of what is going on in the world. I get out of the habit of reading blogs, I fall behind on my webcomics, I don’t share as much stuff on G+ or Facebook, and I blog even less often than I do when I’m working. I am, however, much further along in both Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Metal Gear Solid 5.

All of my Christmas shopping has been done for a couple of weeks now, but there was some concern that one of my gifts for my wife wouldn’t arrive in time. That one finally showed up yesterday and it’ll be wrapped and placed under the tree today.

christiansbelike

Lastly, my Christmas gift to myself — a new 16GB RAM kit for my desktop — arrived last Thursday… to my old address in Ann Arbor. I hadn’t purchased anything from Newegg in a while and, despite remembering to update my credit card info, I failed to remember to update my shipping address. I drove over there once I realized the mistake, but no one was home. Left my contact info and called the apartment office the next morning who also reached out to the tenant. Then didn’t hear much of anything for the whole weekend. Tried driving over again Monday afternoon and finally caught up with the fellow. He’d been out of town and his fiancee had been collecting his mail so I had to come back again on Tuesday to get the package. It made for a bit of a stressful weekend. I gave him a $10 gift card for Biggby Coffee as a thank you. Fortunately he likes Biggby coffee.

So that’s pretty much all I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. Getting ready for Christmas, stressing over a mis-shipped package, and spending too much time playing video games. What about you guys? You all set for Christmas day?

Games I’m Looking Forward To: Far Cry Primal

I play a lot of First Person Shooters and while the Call of Duty series is my favorite for multiplayer, I have enjoyed the Far Cry series’ single player mode for quite some time. Especially the third and fourth editions which were much more open world in nature and had a lot of things you could do outside of the storyline such as hunting animals for materials to upgrade your equipment with. However, when I first heard about the upcoming Far Cry Primal which would take the open world back to the stone age I have to admit I had some skepticism, but after watching this gameplay footage it’s changed to being intrigued:

A chance to play as a Beastmaster and tame prehistoric animals for use against my enemies? Oh hell yes! Granted, this isn’t the most realistic approach to a stone-age shooter, but then the other FC games weren’t known for their high realism either what with their mystic superpower granting tattoos and weird drug-induced hellscapes.

In Far Cry 4 the wildlife was one of the more annoying aspects of the game as you never knew when a lurking panther or dive bombing eagle would show up to wreck havoc while you were trying to gun down an outpost full of enemies, but they could also be a lot of use if you tossed out some bait into the middle of said outpost or set a captured bear loose to do your dirty work for you. Plus you could mount up on an elephant and just rampage through the middle of a base for even more fun.

At first glance Primal looks like they just took FC4 and reskinned it as a lot of the same mechanics are present, but the addition of the ability to tame and summon animals adds a whole new aspect to the chaos you can cause. It’s not due to be released until March of next year, but it’s now on my wish list.

Almost ready for Christmas vacation.

I have three more work days and then I’m on vacation until the new year. Technically, I’m taking a week and a half off and the other week and a half is the holiday break we normally get each year. I’ve been working hard at getting the number of tickets in my queue at work down to an absolute minimum (currently 3 tickets are pending). Outside of work I finally finished decorating the Christmas tree last Sunday. The tree had been up for a couple of weeks, but I had bought a couple of new LED light strings — I finally found some that have the occasional twinkle bulb on them — and it wasn’t quite enough to wrap the whole tree. So I went out the next weekend and bought a couple more. The final result looks like this:

O' Christmas Tree! O' Christmas Tree! How long it took to finish!

O’ Christmas Tree! O’ Christmas Tree! How long it took to finish!

Yes, I was watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special as I decorated the tree. We’re in a much smaller apartment this year so it’s a little tight squeezing past the tree to get the stairs to the second floor, but it works. It didn’t take long for the cats to rediscover the joy of laying underneath it.

Jasper was the first to claim the prized sleeping spot.

Jasper was the first to claim the prized sleeping spot.

We also went shopping for a new wreath for the front door as our old one clashes with the door’s current color. Additionally, we bought a replacement solar light to hang off the shepard’s hook in the front yard. It came with its own, smaller, hook and we were trying to decide what to do with it. We chose to do something we had talked about many times previously and bought a small bird feeder and a small bag of wild bird seed and set up a Kitty TV outside the door wall.

So far no birds, but we expect they'll discover it soon. We'll probably know when the cats start trying to claw their way through the window.

So far no birds, but we expect they’ll discover it soon. We’ll probably know when the cats start trying to claw their way through the window.

As of this point in time we’ve completed all our Christmas shopping save for one nephew. Several of the packages are still in transit which is why the tree is looking a little bare at the moment, but they should arrive shortly and join the pile.

I’m really looking forward to having three weeks with nothing in particular to have to do other than visit family and friends. I plan to take full advantage of it by being lazy as hell and generally enjoying the shit out of it.

Today is SEB’s 14th Blogiversary.

catenergysavingmodeIt’s hard to believe that it’s been 14 years since the very first post I ever made to what would become Stupid Evil Bastard. It wasn’t called that at the start, but it wasn’t long before it would take on that name. That very first post wasn’t particularly profound or meaningful. It was a simple question to myself about what I was actually going to do with it now that it was up and running. Fourteen years later and I still don’t have a good answer to that question.

In those years I’ve managed to post some 7,749 entries and with the slowdown in posting over the last couple of years it seems like we may never break 8,000 entries. There have been some 87,322 comments and a grand total of nine podcasts. I still haven’t made an attempt at a Vlog, but it continues to be something I’m considering. SEB has run on 3 different blogging platforms in that time, has had a dozen different layouts, and has moved webhosts at least 4 times that I can recall. Traffic isn’t what it used to be, but some entries written years ago still see comments coming in several times a week. I came close to packing it all in no less than a half-dozen times over the years for one reason or another. Yet we’re still here and still occasionally have something to say. I was 34 years old when I started and I’m 48 now. It almost seems like a whole other lifetime ago.

I have no idea if SEB, or myself, will still be around in another 14 years, but for the moment you’re stuck with me.

 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksjesusI’m often asked around this time of year, what with me being an atheist and all, just who it is I’m thankful to on Thanksgiving. My answer is simple:

I’m thankful to my wife who not only puts up with me and loves me when I’m at my best, but takes care of me and still loves me when I’m at my worst.

I’m thankful to my daughter for turning out to be a wonderful person despite having me as a father and the rather unconventional childhood she had to go through to reach adulthood.

I’m thankful to my mother for all the things she’s ever done for me which are too numerous to count.

I’m thankful to my brother and sister for their love and support over the years even when they didn’t always agree with my choices.

I’m thankful to my in-laws for so wholly accepting me into the family some 14 years ago.

I’m thankful to my friends for their friendship. Whether it’s someone I’ve known since I was in grade school or someone online I’ve never actually met, but have been hanging with virtually for years.

I am solidly middle aged at this point and there’s plenty of things I thought I would have done by now that will likely never happen. I’m not anywhere near where I thought I’d be in terms of owning a home or the amount of money I’d be earning and we often live paycheck to paycheck. However, I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge and gas in the car and two kitties who are spoiled. I may not have everything I want, but I have the things I really need and I am grateful for that.

I don’t believe there is an all-powerful deity providing me with anything. I do know there are people who have made it possible for me to provide these things for myself. So I don’t thank an imaginary friend for the things my real friends and family are due credit for.

Thank you.