Thanksgiving in Kenosha, WI, Have Mac Will Travel

Thanksgiving in Kenosha, WI

It’s time to hit the road again, headed for Kenosha, WI.  Yep, I’ll be working on Thanksgiving.  Part of the project I have up there requires that I take parts of the plant offline for about an hour at a time.  There’s 6 mill / plant sections, and each one needs to be down for an hour.  And some parts are cross-connected so have have to have multiple sections down at once.

So I talked to the customer and we’re gonna do it when they are already down for Thanksgiving.  Sucks from the standpoint that I’ll miss out on all the turkey, works well in the respect that I’ll make a very happy customer (considering how much money per hour they loose when a part of the plant is down, that make ’em REAL happy if I can do it when it’s already down!)

One big downside – looks like I’ll be hotel hopping to make this work.  No body has a hotel room for a decent price for the entire trip.  Damn.  (Decent price = better price than what I can get if I just walk in and say “Cargil Rate”, which gives me a really realy good discount).

I also managed to minimize the amount of traffic I’ll have to face – partially because I drive in the evening / early morning, partially because I drive out of here on Monday, and drive back on Monday.  I don’t have to face most of the weekend holiday traffic (Dad and I had to drive back from Denver one Thanksgiving eve due to the airport being closed because of a blizzard.  After we got out of the blizzard, traffic was pretty crappy!)

Have Mac, Will Travel

I also modified my Mac Mini setup again.  When I bought it, the goal was something smally enough and light enought to travel to customer sites.  It fits that goal.  Problem is, accessories – mouse, keyboard, two external hard drives (one USB one Firewire), docking port for the iPhone, etc., etc., etc.  Depending on what configuration I travel with, it takes a while to tear down and setup.

Now the Mini is no longer so mini.  I bought a black and aluminmum travel case for it, and put hooks on the outside to make it a bit more easily carried.  It worked well, but, now the monitor is mounted IN the case, and the Mini, hard drives, and all the associated bits and pieces are strapped down inside of the case.  Instead of a laptop or desktop, I now a luggable desktop.

Ports, CD slot, etc. are all setup so they are easily reached, and the hard drives are strapped down, but removeable if nessisary (like the USB one is for attaching laptop hard drives in a pinch to recover data, the FireWire enclosure can do the same thing for a desktop machine hard drive)  But the Mini – well, it’s not going anyware anytime soon.  It’s not glued down or anything, but to take it out requires removing some bolts.

The only thing that doesn’t fit in the case – the keyboard.  Oops.  I didn’t think to measure that one, so, I’ve got to carry it separately.  Still a lot more efficent than before though.  And as an added bonus, there’s room left over for storing CD’s etc. for whatever job I’m headed out on.

Yes, if I went out and bought a laptop, that would mean I didn’t have to worry about it at all – it would all be self-contained.  But, there’s two problems here:

1)  $3700.  That’s how much the MacBook Pro I’d like to have would cost, configured the way I’d like.  Yes, that’s basically a MacBook Pro tweaked out with EVERYTHING you can get.  That’s a lot of scratch for a laptop.  (and for anyone who’s thinking it’s expensive because it’s a Mac… compair that to a fully decked out Dell or other laptop with the same specs.  The MacBook Pro is usually the same price, spec for spec matched.  In fact, it’s now the same for desktops – Dell released the XPS ONE to compete with the iMac, and PC Mag commented “the Windows-based system is more expensive than a comparably priced iMac” Times are a changing if Mac is getting cheaper than PCs.  Wow.) 

2)  I use an external FireWire drive for processing video.  So then we start to get back into the same problem I had before – having to carry around extra crap with it and setting up when I get on site.  The FireWire drive is nessisary for anytime I touch video – the 7200 RPM external FireWire drive pack does a HUGE amount for fixing problems that occur working with HD (or even SD) video.  So it only saves me effort on the monitor and keyboard really.

Delays and Cool Deals

Well, one of the projects I’m working on is delayed until early January now.  The comic book pulisher ended up pushing work on the website back until after the holidays.  That sort of sucks, works of works out too.  It spreads out projects a bit, which is always preferable to them all getting clumped up in a short timerframe.

And while I’m headed to Kenosha next week, I’m not getting PAID for it all at once.  :-(  They needed to spread the project cost over a couple of invoices, so I’m getting paid over the next couple of months.  Hrm.  That’s good and bad – I can’t just kill off another couple of bills all at once, but, I’ll have garanteed income for a bit.

Now for the cool deal – something I’ve been wanting to do is leverage these web clients in the real world.  When the next issue of Black Raven Saga goes to print, in the back pages it will have an advertisment for Midnight Ryder Technologies for web site development and hosting.  And it basically cost me nothing besides some labor – I agreed to update thier travel calender on the site for free for the next year in exchange for one year of advertising in whatever they release.  Good trade.  Not a GREAT trade though – it’s a comic book, so it’s not like it’s going to have the same penetration as, say, a newspaper. 

But it’s a good model for what I want to do in the future.  Now I just need more customers for that section of the business 🙂

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