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Comment Re:Culmination of a dream (Score 1) 372

Political office in this country was not meant to be a career in this country. It was meant to be a term of service in order to benefit the country, not the individual themselves. Sadly, it is now a career effort.

This. A thousand times, this. Until we move politics back into the 'term of service' category and stop letting people make a career as political parasites, things will continue to get worse and worse.

Comment Completely missing what gamers want (Score 1) 439

Yes, it worked so well to take the long established single player model of the C&C series and make it into an online, co-op oriented game for the final installment. Its awesome having to deal with the EA community just to even login and try to muddle through the campaign for story purposes, not to mention the extremely limiting nature of the campaign played solo. We won't get into the fact that they destroyed the gameplay and story in general as well, of course. It takes real effort to completely trash such a franchise, but EA managed it for C&C, both in the Red Alert and Tiberium line in surprisingly short order.

Single player is only finished for EA because they took it out back and shot it. Indies and other publishers are still doing great single player experience, and I fully expect them to continue, and if it hurts EA at the same time...

I like a good multiplayer game as much as the next guy...when I'm in the mood for it. I don't want my attempt to get through a campaign 10minutes at a time in the morning before work to be based on co-op matchmaking and idiotic 15 year-olds.

Comment Re:Everyone has skeletons. (Score 1) 610

No need at all to apologize. It can definitely be enlightening to get a total outsider's perspective on stuff like this, after all. Much easier to have objective viewpoints without all that clumsy emotional baggage. I try not to complain too much about it, so it was nice too to just sort of list all the crap that had gone on. Helps keep it in perspective and makes it easier to focus on what's still good for us, despite the bad.

Comment Re:Everyone has skeletons. (Score 1) 610

Unfortunately, while I agree on some levels, a large part of the issue came from moving to begin with. So we're a bit leery of that concept applied a second time around.

We sacrificed my wife's career in Baltimore to move as my company wanted me to, to an area that (at the time) was quite up and coming in various IT areas (primarily banking and medical focus). I also lost all my local contacts in moving away, and we made the jump from a lousy apartment to a reasonable mortgage.

So when the tech (and housing) sector all but collapsed here, it left us with a mortgage that, after 3 years, is higher than the current appraisal value of the house (not by much, thankfully, due to extra payments back when we had the cash to spare), and limited prospects for moving. We could move, but it would empty out those strategic cash reserves extremely quickly, and we'd still be saddled with a house that we can't sell for anywhere near break-even. And of course, sacrificing my wife's career, again, which is an extremely large factor in my "don't want to move" mindset right now. I still feel guilty about doing it once, even though it was a joint-decision between us. Had we resisted my company's urgings to move, she'd have about as good a career as a librarian could have these days, and I of course could have leveraged my hometown contacts into finding new work, most likely. But hindsight and all...

We've discussed moving multiple times, and in the end it boils down to contingencies. If her current job gets slashed by budget cuts or branch closures, and I still haven't found employment commensurate with skills (I don't expect to make as much as I did before, I just want something that lets me pay the bills and get a videogame now and then, while keeping a strict budget and savings intact), then we'll consider moving. We're 3 hours from the Research Triangle, which is our closest bet for good IT work (Raleigh was listed on the last top-10 tech cities for jobs list I saw), and there's always moving back to Maryland. But right now, since we're managing to keep afloat and even save a little extra, its just an added risk, despite the general unhappiness in my current employment. Free land is actually kind of intriguing (my wife already wants to raise our own chickens, and gardens prolifically), but I'm not sure how to reconcile that sort of living with my technology addiction.

And there's always the chance that one of those new data centers /. mentioned a couple weeks ago might actually hire someone local. I live within 2 miles of one of them, I think, but I've never seen a job posting for it.

Comment Re:Everyone has skeletons. (Score 2) 610

And how do we cope when we have the necessary savings accrued, and are simply unable to find a new job before they run out? When my former company closed their doors quite unexpectedly, I had a comfortable safety budget (a year+ inc unemployment), but thats been over a year ago now, and hundreds of applications later have netted me 4 total interviews, only one of which panned out (and is just for a short term contract gig that does nothing but hurt my future employability by keeping me out of my normal field, and is actually earning less than I was getting via unemployment).

Given the job markets in many places, even the safety buffer is not a surefire way of avoiding such issues, just a slower way of strangling yourself. You still have to deal with stupid HR managers and corporate hiring practices to get in the door elsewhere, so the problem essentially remains for the majority of us.

The only bright spot for me is that my wife finally managed to land a job after several years of hunting, so we've been able to actually increase our savings a bit more by living on a strict budget despite the lower income. Our combined salaries are still less than I was making before. But it comes at the cost at my current company of being 'pressured' to conform to silly standards and expectations outside of business hours (no PIs yet, thankfully), no time off at all (neither sick nor PTO), and no real options except to keep sending out applications everywhere and hoping someone responds someday.

Comment Re:Best Buy also ripping off customers (Score 1) 205

We got a replacement laptop for my wife this summer at Best Buy, and got a free 6mo of Kaspersky with it. Which I never bothered installing. It started its countdown on date of purchase, and expires this Sunday without every being used. I've been getting nag emails about it for a month+ now, but its not defaulting to auto-renewal. I specifically checked (while trying to find a way to turn off the nag emails).

So, no auto-renewal without my permission: good. But constant email nags w/o any visible way of turning them off: bad. Not to mention that the standard BB account page has no linkage whatsoever to the subscription service that I could find...I had to rely on URLs (typed out) from the email (which is annoying with the number of phishing emails out there, you should be able to go to, login there, and find all that you need w/o clicking or even having to read the email).

Still was a good laptop for the price and what she needed, at least, but I just tell people to say "no", period, to those freebie addons. More trouble than they're worth in the long term.

Comment Re:50% right (Score 1) 450

I've got no clue myself. I've been trying to transition into entry level sysadmin work, because I'm sick to death of programming, and I can't even get a callback, period. How someone who doesn't know cat-5 from a hole in the ground can get into those positions...bleh.

Got downsized with half a dozen others in October (they then closed my entire local branch, and laid off all my former coworkers), and the *only* response I've gotten for dozens upon dozens of applications is for a low paying contract job developing inside a custom environment (aka, zero value outside this company, and thus just 'earning a paycheck'). And that only after being interviewed for a different position at the same location (which they eventually did away with because they couldn't decide what they actually wanted for 6 months of interviews).

I suppose some of it might be my cover letters, seeing as I'd never written one before (internship straight out of high school, all through college, and then a full-time job doing the same thing when I got my degrees), but I can't even get feedback from HR people (or anyone!) on what I'm doing wrong. Its immensely frustrating, and the thought of missing out on these jobs simply because I don't use the proper HR-buzzwords or such is infuriating.

Comment Re:For those who are interested... (Score 1) 426

Ugh...this piece of corporate-shilling, political trash is (supposedly) my local representative. I think I live near him, even. If he doesn't retire as planned, he's getting an earful on this crap...

Now I guess I need to look up who's supposed to be replacing him, too. Not that they'll behave any differently, of course.

Comment I call shenanigans (Score 1) 119

I watched Popeye as a kid. And when I saw Popeye brand spinach in the store, I *insisted* my mom buy it for me.

That stuff was so awful I've never touched spinach since. And I've never been much of a veggie person in general. Soit really engendered an opposite effect in me. Small sample size and all, but still...yuck.

And I still don't know why everyone is so impressed with Popeye's arm strength. The real strength comes in his being able to chew and swallow that crap so quickly.

Comment Re:Stickers & Insurance (Score 1) 825

Having been the victim of a burglary earlier this year, I have to disagree. Home insurance replaces stuff, sure...after you meet your deductible, and if you can find it again; I lost some old tech thats pretty much impossible to replace at a reasonable price, and I've had to resign myself to hunting ebay and hoping to get 'lucky' and pay 3x what I did 10 years ago for an item that *might* work as advertised. And the loss of that 'secure' feeling in your own home...I didn't sleep well for a month afterward, and its still extremely creepy to think of some punk rifling through our personal effects. The alarm system helps mitigate that a little, in knowing that future incidents will be time-limited at least. And if my wife is home by herself, she has a panic button now.

I was also lucky, in that whomever broke in got spooked and left after just looting most of one room. They managed to get over $3000 worth of electronics and games, in addition to breaking our front door, but it could have been much worse. Still annoyed that I lost over 10 years worth of save games, but at least our computers were left behind.

I was considering building a motion-activated camera system on my own, that would email my phone pictures of captured events, and let me notify the police...but then I just talked to ADT, and got a system that covers my house perfectly, with added fire (smoke/heat technically) protection that will give my pets a small chance of being rescued in event of an electrical short causing a fire, or such. The rate is reasonable, and even though someone could technically break in and likely steal about the same amount of stuff as before, and escape before the police arrive, at least I won't then be relying on a random event to prevent them from ransacking my entire house. And if I do get robbed, ADT covers my insurance deductible now.

Some advice from what we learned in dealing with this...write down EVERYTHING. All your serial numbers and descriptive information on your computers/tvs/handhelds/consoles. Put it somewhere offsite. The police likely will never catch the thief if they break into your house, but if they have the serial numbers it increases the chances of recovering your goods if they find a cache of stolen goods. Plus, if you've registered your consoles, there's a chance you can get Microsoft to help you out in finding it or at least locking it out of XBL. I certainly dont mind screwing the thief or the recipient of stolen goods a bit, even if it doesn't translate to a direct benefit for me. And don't put credit card numbers into consoles. And make sure you have your login for that kind of thing handy, so you can go online and change the account info immediately and prevent someone from accessing your account. If your PC or an old credit card are taken too, well, there's lots of stuff to change and actions to take that I won't spend time detailing, suffice it to say that you have to change it all, unless you've got your hard drive encrypted, etc. If you have a laptop or a nice camera, get in the habit of leaving them at least partially obscured from sight, so if you are victim of a smash and grab, those might slip under the radar. They got my wife's old laptop from the table, but they completely missed my much newer and more expensive laptop that was sitting underneath a couple items.

Also, if you have them, save scans of all your receipts for everything. Our insurance didn't quibble at all about our listed replacement costs, because we had receipts for every single item save one, and we had the original box and UPC for that item. If you don't have old receipts, at least save the new ones. It doesn't take much room to keep the originals as well, and off-site scans for backups aren't hard. Just get in the habit of scanning it in right after you buy it, while you're registering and recording relevant serial numbers.

I'll second the suggestions I saw elsewhere regarding getting to know your neighbors. Our neighbors have alarm systems already (we were the only house in the area lacking, which really increases the chance of a random robbery IMO), but they started looking out for us after we told them of the theft. They actually came over and confronted the contractor I had out to repair our door, to make sure he wasn't a returning thief come for seconds (he was driving a nice unmarked truck). Having a good relationship with them can save you a lot of stress and trouble, and its good to have support available in case something does happen.

Finally, make sure you secure your doors and windows. Accept the fact that, if they want in, they'll get in, and instead focus on making it more difficult to get in. In our case, with the builder's stock screws holding the door latch plates on, a single kick was enough to rip them right out and grant access (both the standard latch and the deadbolt were secured this way, and yielded no actual security). 1" screws in a tiny piece of wood molding will do that. And most doors seem to be configured that way, since those are the default screws that come with door locks in most cases. Hit your local hardware store, get an upgraded latch plate with 6 or 8 screw holes instead of 2 or 4, and get 3" wood screws to secure it into the stud behind your door molding. Watch out for doorbell wiring or such, of course. Make sure you've got windows that lock well. If able, plant nasty bushes under your windows to make them just a bit more unpleasant to access. If someone wants in, they can get in, but now you've made it so they've got to work for it. They can't just kick a door open quickly and rush inside with no one the wiser, they've got to make a spectacle of themselves to do it.

Combine that with a monitored alarm system (either a professional install, or one of the many DIY kits that have a monitoring service attached), and you've got an effective deterrent and a loss-limiting system in place, and that's really the best you're going to get without hiring armed guards and transforming your house into your own personal copy Fort Knox. You don't need every window and door monitored...monitor the most likely points of entry, and use motion sensors in key locations to cover the rest of the house. Alarm professionals will give you advice regarding this. Our house is completely covered with a total of 4 sensors, despite having a lot of windows.

Just accept that, in the end, despite it all, you can lose stuff. Just take steps to limit losses, and to prevent 'easy' access for thieves, and you've done what you can do.

Comment Re:1# USAA? (Score 1) 205

As a customer of theirs, and having seen the level of superb customer service they offer, it comes as no surprise that they'd be a great place to work as well.

It'd be nice if I actually lived close enough to one of their locations to apply. I'm stuck in the morass that is the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, where it seems all IT is either not hiring, or wants 80hr work weeks as the norm.

Comment Re:Surprised? (Score 1) 582

My doctor has been reluctant to do Remicade; they've had me go through 3 other meds trying to avoid doing the hospital outpatient thing.

They're setting me up for Cimzia now, but there was a screwup with my insurance (doctor ticked the wrong box on a form), and now I've got to wait out a stupid appeals process to get it covered.

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