Some Day, All This Will Be Road

Mental soundtrack today has been Spin Doctors’ “Turn It Upside Down” (1994), for various subliminal reasons.

Feeling kinda bedraggled and alone, wandering between obligations. This album was one of the few salves during my Hell Summer of ’94, where my entire week was accounted for; between two jobs, one summer course, and all the time in transit, I only had the 48 hours of the weekend to claim as my own.

I certainly would’ve lost my shit if not for the constant presence of my friend Tom A. down the hall, and with Pam B., Eddie W., and James S. (plus a handful of others) in my Arkadelphia periphery to keep me sane. (Thanks, guys.)

These people, and that collection of albums, really ministered to me to keep me together, to lift me up out of that soul-dead state. They really threw me a lifeline.

I guess the way things are going now, I could use a little bit of ministration again. And so here I am, spinning this album in their stead.

Break the thread of indifference
They’ll suck the wind right from your soul
To never listen to the voice of memory
Is to die waiting for nothing

Ten and Eight

Today is 18 years in Austin. Long, hard road; long strange trip; yadda-yadda-yadda.

I guess it’s pivotal that I closed a dark chapter in my life a few days before the anniversary. The new job is demanding, but I’m not feeling despondent yet, so I guess that’s something.

Personally, it’s time to turn some things around, y’know? Here’s to another year at least. [crosses fingers]

Interstitium

My tenure at Hostway has come to an end. Long live Hostway.

I put in my two weeks notice, then walked away a free man yesterday afternoon. It was a long, tangled, messy 4 years, 5 months, 3 weeks. I learned a lot while there, but the biggest lesson of them all is that I do not want to do public-facing technical support ever again. There are too many parts in motion at all times; there are too many façades to keep up; there are too many unfunded and untenable expectations to uphold to get through the job with any shred of self-respect. I found I couldn’t exceed because the constant and random barrage of imperative demands kept me out of focus.

I also learned about networking, how server farms and monitoring systems work, how to file tickets, how to make things talk to each other, and how to deal with remote teams. Which is the set of traits that landed me my next gig.

On Monday, I will start as a contractor for a research team at Samsung. I’m not fully clear on the particulars of the job, but it will be very much like what I did in the product development labs at AMD: benchmarking & power measurement. My new job will also entail the care and feeding of a collection of testing platforms, rescuing any devices that lock up, making sure remote engineers can reach the platforms, working on automation and reporting software, etc.

It will be an uphill climb. But if it means I don’t have to deal with downed servers, failed hard drives, and pissed-off customers, then I’ll be as happy as a clam.

Fat, Thick, and Dirty

I finally did it. I soldered a pair of PL-259 connectors (screw-on type) onto a 28′ (8m) length of scavenged RG-8 cable. And it works. It really, really works.

PL-259 soldered connectors RG8 coax
PL-259 connectors, kinda soldered, and they actually work.

Of course, they’re really, really dirty.

PL-259 soldered connectors RG8 coax
Dirty solder. So, so dirty.

And it took me 2 hours to f’n do it.

But it works.

Tiny, Cheap, Expensive

Picked up an RTL-SDR software-defined radio dongle. Because reasons.

After an evening of driver hell, I decided today that maybe I should read the quick-start instructions. Gosh, they’re more helpful than I imagined. Finally got the SDRSharp software to recognize the dongle and start tuning and decoding radio.

Unfortunately, my poor old laptop is just too slow. Once it gets a buffer of samples from the dongle, decodes them, processes them, runs them through several filters, displays them on screen in the FFT and waterfall views, and then finally outputs them to my soundcard, the audio is supremely distorted, as if it just can’t fill the audio buffers fast enough to keep them from looping internally. It just sounds like a cheap digital stretch of whatever audio is going in.

I’m sure the SDRSharp application could have been written to be more efficient, but my dual-core 1600MHz machine just can’t handle it. Maybe I’ll get a new laptop, or actually repurpose my music workstation tower to run my ham radio shack. For that, I need to rearrange my apartment and actually get new furniture.

See? It’s true. Amateur Radio is a hobby where you just dig a hole in the back yard and throw money into it. Nothing you get is ever enough.

Radio is hard.