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Ramblings of an IT Guy

By lackeym ·
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by lackeym In reply to Ramblings of an IT Guy

<p>It's funny. When the whole blog thing started a few years back, I never say myself as a blogger. Now, several years later, here I am typing away at my first ever blog entry on the net.</p>
<p>I suppose I should start with a little background. My name is Michael, let's leave it at that. I work for Leggett & Platt in Carthage, MO USA. At the branch I work for, I am the only IT Person, although our Corporate Office and several other branches are also located in the same city. When I took over the "Computer Guy" role back in 2001, there was really nobody else dedicated to the job. It had always been a side-job for somebody else. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and spoke up just when I needed to. They were looking to develop an Intranet site for their work instructions, forms, and other documentation. I had worked on web design for my own personal site (<a href=""></a&gt and told them that I could do it. And thus it began.</p>
<p>At the same time this was happening, I was going to College at Missouri Southern State University (<a href=""></a&gt. I graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors in Informatics and an Associates in Network Administration.</p>
<p>Aside from the Intranet, I began to work on my first large program. It was an Access Database Application that was used by every department in the shop to track the flow of parts. It was the most complex thing I had ever done, but it was a great learning it showed them what I was capable of producing.</p>
<p>After that, I spent most of my time writing other programs to do various things. I wrote a program to enter Inspection records in our Quality Control department. I wrote a program that generates a priority list for jobs in our shop. I even have a client / server application that is basicly a chat room within our branch. Currently in it's 3rd major overhaul (3.1.7 is the exact version number), it, in my opinion, has saved a ton of time for everyone who uses it. They no longer have to deal with the e-mail system or phone calls and people forgetting what they talked about. I love it.</p>
<p>But the program that I'm the most proud of is my "Quote Database". When this one started, it was a simple Access Database Application that was crude and simple. You enter a part number and operations (departments) and it tells you how much it's going to cost. That grew into allowing more functionality including parts to be done outside our facility by a vendor, purchased parts instead of manufactured and EOQ (Economic Order Quantity) calculations. That was all implemented in versions 1 through 5. Version 6 was the first version that got away from the Access Databaes Application and moved to Visual Basic 6. This is where I began to have some fun. All the limits that were imposed in the previous versions were gone and I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted. The power of the system exploded as did the complexity. The major change was the ability to have Assemblies (quotes that belong to other quotes). And like I said, I had some fun...If you went to Help-About from the main menu and typed "QUOTEMEBABY" you would hear a beep. Hold down CTRL+ALT+SHIFT and right-click the Quote Database Icon and Pac-Man would come up. No, I'm not kidding...</p>
<p>Then in August of 2005, I began to reprogram it from scratch once more and came up with the version that is currently in use, and is the largest, best program I have ever done: Quote Database 7. I made this version a little more "standard" without a lot of the "fluff" I had in the previous version...although I still kept the Flash animations on the main menu. But this one is my first MDI Program that allows for multiple quote sheets to be displayed at a time as well as reports, and more. Version 6 could only display one window, so if you were looking at a quote and wanted to print it, the quote window would close and the report window would open. Now, you can look at both of them at the same time. It was a lot of work, but it was fun and a challenge to do.</p>
<p>My current project is another large one. We have been working on converting our CNC Department to paperless. Currently, they have these packets for the parts they run that have their tool list, setup photos and instructions, program code file and more. All this information is being entered into a database for retrieval by the operators at computers that are sitting by each CNC Machine. I should actually be working on that now instead of typing here...but I need a break! We have already worked through 1,500 packets...that only leaves 7,500 more to go!</p>
<p>Well, I supposed that's enough ramblings for now. Until next time!<br /> - <em>Michael</em></p>

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What to do with old hardware

by lackeym In reply to Ramblings of an IT Guy

<p>Everyone who has worked with computer hardware in the past surely has a lot of old cards, chips and boards lying around their office or home. I know I sure did have a lot of them from old junk computers at my work. But instead of throwing them away when they went bad, I decided to take them and do something creative with them...hang them on my wall.</p>
<p>Most boards have at least one hole in them that provides the perfect hanging spot. I just took a large paperclip, cut the rounds off it, and poked them into the wall up above my door and dry-erase board (nails would have been easier, but paperclips were all I had at the time, and they worked well). I now have about 50 or so different boards and chips hanging up there; a very neat looking collage made up of old video cards, network cards, motherboards, RAM chips, processors and other boards that I've collected from computers and devices that have gone bad.</p>
<p>So the next time you're cleaning out all the old junk, think twice before just tossing it in the could make some nice artwork.</p>
<p>Well, I supposed that's enough ramblings for now. Until next time!<br /> - <em>Michael</em></p>

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Windows Vista - Initial Thoughts

by lackeym In reply to Ramblings of an IT Guy

<p>I finally got Windows Vista installed on a spare computer here at work. It barely meets the minimum requirements to run the OS, but it still runs it. It's on a PIII 1GHz Computer with 256 MB of RAM and it actually runs faster than I thought it would on that slow of a machine. All the "pretty fluff" doesn't work, but it still looks good.</p>
<p>So far, there is one issue that I saw, and I'm not sure if it's a Microsoft issue or something I did... We use Active Directory 2003 here at work and each branch is in the own OU. I needed to join it to the domain to get on the Internet to activate Windows. I did what I normally do. I added a new computer account in AD for the Vista Machine. I then tried to join the computer to the domain, it didn't like the account that was created, so it created a new account in the generic computer container. I had to have someone from Corporate move it to the appropriate location so I could have control over that account. Frustrating, but it's activated and I have until February to play...I mean...test. :)</p>
<p>Other than that, I really like what I see. The new Start Menu is a huge improvement, even though it no longer says "start". It makes it much easier to find programs (and quicker) without having to wait for popup menu after popup menu to come up. I'm also glad they droped the "My" from everything. It seems cleaner with those gone, although we've had the "My whatever" for so long that it will take some getting used to. I also like the new Shutdown button. No more asking you what you want to do, just hit the Big Red Button and buh-bye computer.</p>
<p>I also have to admit it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. One of the first things I did when I first turned on the computer is go to the Games and "test" them. I really like some of the improvements they made to the classics as well as the new games that were added. If I can find drivers for my video card that will work with the Vista Beta, I may be able to fully utilize them and other features as well.</p>
<p>I'm not too thrilled with the new Internet Explorer. First time I ran it, I spent more time looking for all the commands than I did browsing the Internet. I don't know how long it took me to find the stinkin refresh button! As with all new things, it will just take some time to get used to, I know.</p>
<p>Another large part of my job is Programming. So far, I've written all my programs in Visual Basic 6 so a major concern of mine was whether Vista would run them or not. Well, it does (woo hoo) but there are going to be issues. One of my programs will run to a point before erroring out. It gets to the point where it's about to send an e-mail to our Exchange Server to be sent when it freaks out and crashes saying something about my custom control I created for sending the e-mail. I'm sure I could come up with a work around, but it's going to be a hastle, I just know it. My simpler programs seem to run just fine, as long as I provide the VB6 Runtime. I was afraid that Microsoft would cut off support for running VB6 programs, but it looks like I may be ok for the most part. The real test will be with some older VB4 programs that a co-worker has created. Now, if only i could figure out how to make it stop asking me if I really want to run the program or not...</p>
<p>There are a lot more things that I really feel will be an improvement over XP, but I'm also rambling on a little much here and I should really get back to work.</p>Until next time!<br /><em> - Michael</em>

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