OTRA – Expect Brevity

I’m going to be On The Road Again, for a while. Expect things to be sparse and terse.

I’ll still be checking in, but any postings will be fewer and shorter.

Why? Because I’m moving into the spare room of my Florida Friend and the Chromebox doesn’t have a screen. I’ve been using the second TV in my rental cottage here in Florida, and it does not move with me. So no big screen, no large keyboard, no fast typing rate (the Note notepad has significant key lag as it spends time looking up word fragments in the dictionary instead of just taking the keystrokes; so my usually very fast touch typing becomes slow as “almost hunt and peck” as I have to wait for each keystroke to be processed… maybe I’ll look for a way to turn off word lookup…)

As of now, everything is packed and I’m just cleaning up the place (floors vacuumed, hard surfaces wiped, linoleum and ceramic surfaces scrubbed). Only thing left is the Chromebox, so this is the last you will hear from it for “a while”.

My longer term plans are a lot more murky. At least one trip to California in the next few weeks (sometime) to deliver a load of stuff (amazing how much accumulates in a couple of years) including several boxes of stuff the spouse accumulated. Turns out that shippers use something they call “Dimensional Weight” to decide what to charge you. That means that a box with “fluffys” in it like a pillow and a couple of special Disney Lion Towels can easily cost you $50 to ship, even if it weighs about 10 lbs or less. Adding it all up, the spousal boxes cover the cost of gasoline to drive them back in the Banana Boat (wagon that is yellow…).

But my ultimate “residence” is very much up in the air. I’m looking for work on both coasts, with a bit of emphasis on Florida ( I really like it here… ); but where the opportunity arises is where I’ll end up. Time will tell as I “drift on the wind”. For now, I’m keeping the Florida address and legal residency along with a car in Florida (and leaving a lot of MY stuff in the friends spare room, to which I will return after playing delivery boy and take a bit of time in California). It can be interesting being “bi coastal”…

So, with that, expect to see queues serviced and postings (if short) made as I find a Starbucks or other WiFi hotspot, have the tablet ready to go, and feel like dealing with the minimal keyboard.

Life’s an adventure, and I’m off to roll the dice again! Cheers!

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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24 Responses to OTRA – Expect Brevity

  1. koypapi says:

    Reblogged this on Chairmanship and commented:
    Thats precise

  2. omanuel says:

    We will miss you. If you drive near Cape Girardeau, MO I’ll buy you dinner for a chance to pick your brain.

  3. First of March seems a serendipitous start date. Looks like the new employment rules will mean that you have a lot of company in looking for a job, but also that there should be more vacancies too. Since no matter how good you are it still takes a few months to understand the way the company and the people work, this enforced job-swapping will probably have an effect on the competency (and thus profitability) of companies and will also thus affect the tax-take. It’s thus another shot in the foot rather than the arm for US industry and by extension the government deficit.

    Best of luck in finding an interesting and well-paid position for the next temporary stint.

  4. omanuel says:

    I am intrigued that libertarian political parties may be the solution to a world wide problem of fascism.


  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    We’ll see ya when we see ya — enjoy the adventure.
    Will miss your thought provoking observations. Hope you find a position that suits you quickly!

  6. John Robertson says:

    Safe travels. Will be listening when you next have something to say.

  7. Wyguy says:

    Be safe, hurry back.

  8. Ian W says:

    I would think that there are many universities around here that could use your talents. I am around 80 miles East at the end of the I-4.

  9. Pouncer says:

    ” Turns out that shippers use something they call “Dimensional Weight” to decide what to charge you. That means that a box with “fluffys” in it like a pillow and a couple of special Disney Lion Towels can easily cost you $50 to ship, even if it weighs about 10 lbs or less. ”

    Right. Which is the reasonable basis for the old regulatory regime about LTL trucking, tariffs, and “freight classes”. A box of bed pillows IS different from a box containing a wooden bed frame, (KDF or “Knocked Down Flat”) Load a pillow on top of a bunch of books and get to a medium weight box of “house hold goods” and “freight, all kinds” and your prices average out.

    Until some bureaucrat decides that HE knows more about what’s fair for a carrier to charge, or the customer to pay, for the various configurations than the trucking company or the shipper or the receivers. A reasonably described problem provokes an irrational rat’s nest of responsive rules, overnight…

    Watch for it with “net neutrality”.

  10. gallopingcamel says:

    I got a sinking feeling while reading this. I had hoped that you would settle down amongst us old f**ts and thereby add a touch of class.

    While I have tried to respect your time and privacy by not calling you, this seems to be a special situation so I will be in touch. The objective is to get together for lunch or dinner before you leave.

    There is a complication as my part time job is close to becoming a full time job. For the next two weeks I will be in Raleigh, teaching at NCSU (Gail Combs please note). I will be back in Florida on March 16 and hope you will be available before I depart on my next assignment on March 20.

  11. Hi EM, From Australia wish you good fortune. Do not understand USA politics but have a feeling that Obama is one of the worst Presidents. Do not know why Obama was re-elected maybe the work ethic has gone and there are now too many with their hand out for the government dole, In Australia electors in Victoria and Queensland have chosen to go along with union crooks and the dangle of government carrots (donkey voters?) replacing governments that were trying to clean up the economic mess left by previous socialist governments (and union crooks). Many around the world seem to forget that Hitler was voted in by use of carrots and thuggery. I think Putin in Russia is less a worry than the internal push in many western countries by socialists and crooks towards totalitarian states. Europe (including Britain) is speeding towards dictatorship by unelected officials and at the same time headed to an economic mess. Will another Hitler, Stalin or Mao emerge in Europe to battle with USA, Russia or the middle east while China picks up the pieces ?

  12. John Andrews says:

    Don’t worry. We will continue to check in. Please do enjoy the trip across the country.

  13. Verity Jones says:

    Drive safely my friend.

  14. hillbilly33 says:

    Greetings and best wishes from Tasmania Chiefio, where even with homogenised temperatures we’ve apparently just had the coolest summer for a decade. Will really miss the mind stimulation you’ve provided on such a variety of subjects. It has helped keep a few of my nearly 82yr old neurons still firing. BTW, my Scarlet Runners are really producing now, in what has started out as a very cool Autumn.
    The very best of luck and good health to you and yours, wherever your adventures take you.,

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @All: It isnt like Im quitting or anything I’m just spending a week or three on the road using a tablet… I’ll still be here, just terse not prolix…

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; last week the “talking heads” pointed out the very low unemployment numbers coming out of the San Francisco Bay area. They did not remark on the cause.
    Could be jobs or could be the unemployed have left town.
    You would think that a person of your talents would be in great demand considering the computer security problems of late. Guess you are too qualified and experience to meet their employment specifications.
    A number of years ago I received an invitation to a training seminar for HR management on how to write the help wanted requirements so only a foreign trainee could be qualified. An guess what? the firm giving the seminar were head hunters that provided the foreign candidates.
    Good luck my friend, GOD doesn’t always give us what we want, But often provides us what we need. pg

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    San Francisco is an extraordinary place to live including the price of things. Unemployment is low because you WILL be in the 30 ish percent Fed and 11 percent State income tax. 40 to 50 percent right off the top for any wage that pays the bills. Then an 11 pct sales tax if you buy anything and gasoline $1/gallon more than out of state… Now add $20 to $30 per day for parking alone… I wont work in San Francisco for under $100 per hour. Otherwise you go broke. I take $60/hr in Florida as that is about the same net to me.

    As for my qualifications… yes it helps to leave a lot off the resume…

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I made it to California. I’ve unloaded the car, found out that a lot can change in a couple of years, and managed to get one of my desktop boxes to “work” after a fashion. It is an old Win-2k-pro box that has a version of Opera on it new enough to work with wordpress.

    Several of my “usual” CD based Linux releases that I normally use on this hardware no longer have browsers that work with (most anything) probably due to the TLS upgrades folks have been forcing for security reasons. Generally a good idea, but not if you want to use it to get the new releases to use…

    At any rate, something with a decent keyboard works, and I’m making new “disposable” Linux CDs using it. Hopefully within a day or three I’ll be back to having a secure platform from which to browse / post that doesn’t expose any actual data to anyone trying to break into the box.

    This one is eminently hackable (being an old Windoz release) but has little on it other than 10 to 5 year old copies of temperature data and some graphs I made from it some long time back. And those are on an archive disk elsewhere anyway.

    At any rate, I’m “booting up” my technical world again and we’ll see how fast I can get over the hangover from a marathon drive…

    Oh, and I’ve also discovered that the Chrombox will not plug into any of the monitors I have here as none of them are HDMI… Ah, the joys of constantly mutating “standards”…

  19. Paul Hanlon says:

    Hi Chiefio,
    Good luck with the job-hunting, hope you get what you want. That seems an incredibly dumb system whereby if you are contracting, you have to be let go for a while. Mind you, it is the same over here. As Simon Derricutt pointed out up thread, the waste in terms of retraining / re-orienteering new people has to be costing a fortune.

    I’m surprised you didn’t get a Chromebook rather than a Chromebox. I’ve just bought one for my casual browsing / email, stuff I don’t mind sharing with everybody, and it really does do what it says on the tin. 8-9hrs battery life, instant boot, 12″ screen which is clear enough that I can see 8pt font. I can go downstairs to watch telly and keep it with me to use during the ads. It has already made a big difference to the way I do things.

    Looking for work myself, and there seems to be a shortage of programmers over here atm. Recruitment agencies are even offering a commission if one suggest a friend who ends up getting the job. Hope it’s not another bubble, or if it is, that it has a few years to run yet.

  20. omanuel says:

    In your spare time, I hope you and your readers will consider (ponder, contemplate, meditate on) ways for
    dogmatic skeptics and believers to work together to restore contact with reality and avoid the selfishness that threatens survival and advancement of society.

  21. Larry Ledwick says:

    The reason they do that (let people go) as I understand it is due to Microsoft, having “permanent” temporary workers. They were dodging the benefits they would have to pay to a full time employee by hiring “perma-temps” and calling them temp but they had worked for years in the same slot. IRS finally cracked down on it and the way they decided to prevent that sort of thing was to force layoffs of temp workers every 3 years or so, thinking it would force the companies to hire them on full time.

    Reality is in an economy where lots of over qualified folks are looking for any slot that pays a living wage, they just roll over their temps and go on doing the same thing. Sometimes re-hiring the same people every few years. Some places play hop scotch with the workers, firing the temp from one position and re-hiring them to fill a slot with a different name, sort of a musical chairs style of staffing.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    All jobs are temporary. pg

  23. E.M.Smith says:


    Heck, life is temporary….

    @Larry Ledwick:

    Yup. It was the MS vs IRS lawsuit that made the entire contracting business into a bit of a musical chairs circus. IMHO the congress ought to make it clear that folks can have whatever contract relationship they want and will live with the consequences, but they are too busy doing useless things…

    Many companies have a policy to carry some percent (for Schwab it was about 20% by my guess) of contractors. That way, in a downturn, they just say “contracts ended” instead of having “Schwab has layoffs” in the news. I was there when one day a memo from the top said “All contractors must go today”. Long line of folks headed out the door about 9am to noon… BUT, the financial news did not have “Schwab having layoffs as business slowed” with millions of folks getting panties in a bunch and pulling deposits… Instead it was just “ho hum”…


    I’ve pondered that from time to time. We do need to find some better way to coordinate. Right now the “other side” is highly organized and driven by a top down agenda from major power structures with massive government funding (they found how to get that via parasitizing NGOs and Agencies). “We” are largely a group of like minded folks working independently will little funding and nearly no organization. I’ve not figured out a way to improve that without making it the same kind of large power structure that tends to make messes of things…

    @Paul Hanlon:

    I seriously looked at the question of Chrome Book vs Box. Mostly was thinking “book”. But the Box was cheaper for the performance ( I got the one with Intel chips in it) and, frankly, I’d had a few laptops go to the beyond due to “peripherals” inside dying, so thought it would be nice to have them outside ;-)

    Finally, I had a very large nice free spare TV in the rental, so why have yet another tiny screen and tiny keyboard? The full sized bluetooth KB was a big feature for me ( I already had it with me) and I was “running away from the table experience”. I’d also figured that it would spend a lot of time driving video to the TV (it did) and “someday” it would become a dedicated Linux Server when my muse ran out… (which it hasn’t yet). Basically, I was tepid on Chrome and figured it would be a nice “wall wart” linux server if nothing else… but found I kind of like it in a limited kind of duty… so may yet get a ChromeBook… someday…

    Or replace my old low def TV with a nice new one with HDMI ;-)

  24. Paul Hanlon says:

    Hi E.M.
    Fully understand the process that led to the decision. My current “me-time” project is working with a Cubieboard 2, which I’m turning into my own personal cloud server. For a little bit more than the cost of a Pi, it comes with a SATA connector for plugging in an internal hard drive, and it also comes with 4Gigs of NAND flash memory onto which the OS can go, so hopefully won’t have corruption issues in the event of a crash.

    I have lighttpd and git on it, so I can have my own git server with a web-based interface along with a file manager for music, videos, etc. So that’s Dropbox, Spotify, Github, Blog and email taken care of. There’s also WebRTC (a HTML5 tech), which means you can videochat, browser to browser. That takes care of Skype. Eventually, pretty much all of my web needs will be provided by it, and it will be private to me. And there’s more.

    There is this amazing chip, the ESP8266, which communicates over WiFi and only costs around $4 from these people. Check out the prices they are selling things for (I’m not affiliated with them in any way). Anyway, this chip can be its own access point or on standby or both. It also has a microcontroller which can be programmed so it has the ability to make decisions locally.

    Before this, you had to pay substantially more for substantially less functionality, and work within the Zigbee or Z-wave protocol. Now you can do it all over WiFi, and at those sort of prices, you can have sensors and switches in places that just wouldn’t have made sense previously. You put a small moisture sensor and temp sensor in a plant pot, connect t to a cheap water pump, and the chip will not only handle the interaction between them and keep the plant healthy, but also send a message to the “controller”, telling it what it has done. It’s going to drive this whole “internet of things” substantially forward.

    Anyway, hope you’ve fully recovered from the trip. It’s Mother’s Day over here, so off to the graveyard for me.

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