Well, the world is coming to an end.  I woke up at 3:30 am, that is how I know.  My sleep schedule is so jaunted now I can pretty much control it to a T.

I’ve been going to therapy and I really like my therapist.  She is the most practical therapist I have had so far and that is really good.

It’s interesting how I’ve gone from barely noticing my moods, to now full blast.  In the matter of a week I’ve swung from depression to now manic.  That comes with its own set of trials and tribulations.  Might just be the result of taking the prozac and not quite being stable on it.

In other news, the semester is now over (yay), and so I am going to sit here and prepare for this paper we are publishing.  One of many, I hope.  It’s been 10 years in the making.  I hope chemistry classes don’t all have insane final exams.  The average was a 75 so I dunno how I scored halfway below that.

My meds are kicking in… it’s getting near nap time.

“Hey everybody, this guy’s a phony!”

Well, I thought I could pull off an A in Chem.  Instead, I got a C.  Thank you failed exam.  Everything right, screw up one thing, BAM, it’s all over.

Interestingly enough I got contacted by someone at UCF today, re: tutoring from the university.  I’m wondering if somehow my name got passed along.  Biology is very cumulative, so I can’t fail the final, but at the same time, how in the #*$^* am I supposed to solve so many math problems in 3 minutes and 50 seconds per question?  This is nuts.

In other news, my academic withdrawal got approved, so…

Another post coming shortly.

Water is always a liquid… H2O(l)

It’s Saturday now.  Fell asleep sometime yesterday, woke up at 9PM, thought it was Saturday morning.  After a while I caught on to the fact that the sun was setting, not rising.  I dunno why this keeps happening.

It’s literally 3 days left of the end of summer semester 2020.  I had my moments, but I persevered and made it through.  At least in academia they can’t fire you from taking time needed to recover from the effects of life on your sanity.  Of course, online classes will only last for so long and then it’ll be back to the salt mines.  So I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Yesterday, we had a quiz in chemistry, the second to last quiz.  Of the 6 quizzes, only 5 count towards the grade, as the lowest quiz grade gets dropped.  I did alright.  Not great, but alright.

Same thing with the tests; there are 5 tests and only 4 count towards the grade.  So I have a good safety net at this point with the potential to do better.  The final exam is coming soon, on July 31st.

I’ve calculated that I need at least an 82% on the final to get an A, and a 44% on the final to finish with a B.  It’s cake at this point.

I don’t like having a test on Monday.  It means I have to study over the weekend, and I’d rather do other things.  Plus, I feel the depression coming again, so I just can’t be bothered.  The semester just needs to be over, I need a break.

Edit: It’s now 7/22, and I sunk into a pretty bad hole.  Yesterday I had therapy and my therapist was really helpful.  There’s no point in going to the hospital for every little thing, it’s just expensive and unnecessary.  Part of learning about being mentally ill is learning how to cope with the mood swings and level yourself out.  So, I’m still not out of it, but today was a lot better than yesterday, by far, and next week is the last week of classes before a 3 week break until fall semester.  A very much needed break indeed.

“NI” is now “NI”

For starters, I’ll introduce myself. I have worked at various companies over the last 10 years since finishing my Master’s degree in electrical engineering. Around the time I was graduating with my Bachelors, I started working in a Biology lab, and eventually, I got to get dirty with LabView. Back then, the latest release was 8.6.1. Several of the subsequent versions following were horribly unstable, and combined with my poor use of SubVIs, I accomplished my task, but LabVIEW was rather unwieldy.

I used to work at National Instruments, I hope I can say that here. I worked there for about 3.5 years, in Austin. Even back in 2012 the company was already started to change. The major rebranding of the company and the new website look were inevitable really. I had the opportunity as a RF test engineer to work on many of the key products NI wanted to bring to market. I won’t list them here for privacy reasons.

Oddly enough, I did my master’s thesis using a USRP version 1 from Ettus Research, which I later learned had been bought by National Instruments. It’s no surprise I wound up working at NI when I was already so familiar with their hardware. To this day, I still work in that same biology lab, and I have been on 2 expeditions to the Amazon to research south American Electric Knifefishes. We have come up with some very unique solutions to the challenges of working in the Amazon (not just the mosquitoes!). For example, the NI-6216 USB is self powered from USB, so we used it in combination with a ruggedized tablet computer and an amplifier or two to do in situ recording.

Enough about that, the new NI branding is a bit concerning. All of the places I have worked, with the exception of National Instruments themselves, were not overflowing with money (and neither was NI for that matter, it just so happens that when you can build your own test equipment, you tend to use it in your own test solutions for testing product. Quite simply, it’s cheaper (for them, anyway).

The 2nd to last company I worked for was so poor off, and hanging on for dear life, at least until the new owners in China figured out how to shut down this particular plant (I don’t know if they have or ever will), that they couldn’t properly license Windows on the PXI controllers in the test racks. There was a very serious problem, because the Chinese engineers would come in and survey the test equipment, study it, etc. Well, they didn’t have antivirus on the controllers, and apparently the Chinese don’t know what viruses are, so a worm found it’s way into the floor network. Every XP machine would broadcast itself out to other vulnerable machines. After enough time, those machines would eventually go into a boot loop. You couldn’t even boot into safe mode. Now you have a real mess, because the LabVIEW versions that run on XP are not the same as what runs on Windows 7.

Anyway, I’ve worked on and off as a test engineer between 4 jobs because either A) my health wouldn’t hold up, or B) I just couldn’t be bothered.

I’ve considered becoming a freelancer and writing LabVIEW code from home. More as a software engineer role. But for now, I’m a student who is actually studying Biology and I am happy to be back in academia again, right here in sunny and warm Florida.

As far as “NI is now NI” goes, I don’t think we have seen just what NI is trying to accomplish yet. My NDA is long expired, but the pattern should be obvious. NI’s days of making test equipment won’t end; what NI is attempting to do is systems engineering and custom test solutions. Really, it’s that simple. The NI-STS uses PXI VNAs, for example. Imagine trying to build a test jig with a 48 port VNA inside? This is NI’s future plan for success, and I do hope they don’t lose track of that.

Personally, I am glad I left NI when I did. There’s a certain sense of pride in the company culture, or at least there was. I can only imagine how NI is now, with a new CEO after Dr. T stepped down.

I truly hope that LabVIEW TOG (The original generation) will not disappear. I refuse to use LabVIEW 2020 based on the reports of how they have crippled it. A lot of companies, quite frankly, don’t want the latest and greatest, because when you build a test station, you don’t won’t equipment drivers that are brand new… You want to fall back on a proven and stable system. NI will seriously shoot themselves in the foot if they stop supporting LabVIEW TOG and it’s associated drivers.

IMHO, this change is change for no particular reason, other than to highlight National Instruments as some sort of “game changer”. Here’s a thought for you NI: Lead by example. Prove your software and hardware is stable enough for a production environment. Down time costs money.

I haven’t touched LabVIEW NXG, except briefly when it first came out. All I can say is, I hope there is not a huge learning curve to it, or you’re just going to push customers away.

Don’t fix what ain’t broken, and don’t break it so you can “fix” it.


When I should have quit, but didn’t.

Back in Maryland, I was busy working away on my tasks, when it started to strike me (pun intended?) that something rather odd was going on outside weather-wise.  There’s only one window in the lab I worked in.  By the time I realized it was raining sideways, it was too late to protect the thousands of dollars worth of keysight equipment sitting on the desk for myself and my colleague to use, not to mention, prototype units of the DUT.

So, of course, as you can imagine, I immediately started unplugging things.  There wasn’t even time to safely shut things down, they wen’t unplugged right then and there.  You can hear the sound of transformers arcing outside from who knows what.

I guess my supervisor didn’t care if lightning blew up our equipment or DUTS.  The test boxes were on loan from Keysight anyway, so why should he care?  I think otherwise.  If there’s no UPS, and you have no ability to discern the weather that is coming, you’re basically throwing away money.  Which is ironic, because typically people try to avoid that sort of thing, not the other way around.

I’m sure the building, or at least the lab, was on some sort of power protection.  A brown-out can still damage a power supply.  I know from experience that power supplies in test equipment usually have to have some of the tightest tolerances in a power supply you can manufacture.  Dirty power can and will result in poor quality of measurement, for a variety of reasons.

This particular storm knocked out power all over the place.  This must’ve been a major thing for Maryland, because here in Florida we tend not to have issues like this.

After my DUT had been vibration tested, it was now receiving the “Act-of-God” test, aka HiPOT in the most visceral way possible.

For my own sake, I should’ve recognized this as a red flag.  First, you can’t work when the power is constantly on and off again.  Even if you could attempt to boot your computer, the power would fail anyway.  Second, while I understand prototypes are of limited quantity, if you’re going to take a good DUT and do vibration testing on it, what and how am I supposed to be sure that the measurements I make in my prototype software yield reliable, repeatable, accurate results?  Third, the LabVIEW API we were using to talk to the hardware was essentially a SSH terminal hidden behind the scenes, so to speak.  SSH is not meant to be used like this.  I find it hard to believe that they couldn’t have used an RS232 port, or even a RS232 to USB adapter to talk to the linux console running on the SoC.  At least then, you don’t need to pay for an SSH API from a 3rd party company.  It’s not a perfect solution either, but then, neither is GPIB, so what else is new?  Perhaps, better yet, JTAG could come in handy, but I wasn’t responsible for that so I don’t know if JTAG was used.

Anyway, yeah.  That job was ridiculous, and all because it was under the pretentious guise that since they were paying for an expert (at doing FFTs in Excel), I should’ve been done with all the code and ensuring everything was polished up nicely in about 5-6 weeks time.  I’ve worked in manufacturing.  I know what goes on in these places.  You don’t just sit down, cruise through the code, and then expect everything to work right from the start.

Add in to this the random occasional condescending attitude (not just from my supervisor), and you have the makings of the most horrible job I have ever worked.  Even putting 50 lb bags of dog food on a shelf at Target was better than this.

Mama give me my medicine, the one that makes me feel so tall.

Filter – Welcome to the Fold.

This one goes way back for me.  I remember on ECNet that there used to be a user who stayed in her own channel and pretty much hung around IRC all day.  People gravitated toward her.  Back then, ECNet had a shoutcast server, and I would volunteer to DJ for “ECNet Radio”.  One day I played this song, and after I did so, I got a request to send a copy to this particular person.

As it turns out, she was alone, no family or kids to take care of her.  If I recall, she had cancer and was terminal.

At Christmas time several years ago now, she asked for several people’s address, and I received a postcard in the mail from her, all the way from the UK.  I think I still have the card somewhere.

Not long later, she wasn’t on IRC anymore, and that was that.

I don’t know what else to write.

Weighted Blanket

When I was in the Oviedo Medical Center Hospital being wheeled to my hospital room the day before my surgery, the nurse was walking me through the hallways and made a comment.  The color temperature of the fluorescent bulbs in their fixtures was sterile.  I looked paper white.  I haven’t been out of the house to get any sun in so long.

I live in a small house, in a room with two concrete block walls, one window with the blinds always closed, dirty laundry on the floor and a closet of the rest of my clothes.  Next to me is a radio and 2 alarm clocks, and at the foot of my bed is my tv stand with all the usual suspects, my air filter, and 5 storage boxes of vinyl.

I have everything I need in here.  A printer/fax/scanner, a computer, wifi access.  For luxury I have a huge 15″ subwoofer and Alexa so I can control my lights and other things automatically.  I can get into bed with the lights on, and I can just speak to Alexa to turn them off without having to move.  The internet of things is not the future, it’s the present.  Semiconductor processes get smaller and electronics become increasingly integrated everyday.

The iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy’s of the world… planned obsolescence or just slow, progress, regardless, technology is a fad that gets taken for granted, but, in the pursuit of the things we want in our lives, it will not go away, unlike Beanie Babies.

Having been put in the position to work on many extraordinary projects, I feel lucky, but underwhelmed.  Change is a constant.  It is time for change.  I look forward to the future.

The corporate world is not for me.  Like the movie “There Will Be Blood”, I will trace my way to success.  I’ve made many missteps, but that doesn’t make me a failure.  Never stop learning.  Always have an open mind.  Be curious, and ask questions no matter how dumb they may seem, because that is how you learn.  Seek information from the people who know better.  You won’t learn everything from one place or one person.  You will spend a lifetime learning, and you will only have more questions as time goes on.

Academia doesn’t stop after you get your degree.  There are people working tirelessly to understand the world and ourselves.

You are the light of the world, and the salt of the Earth.  Never forget that.

#Lyrics: Paul Dalio – Starry Nights

There was a time, long ago,
when tides would rise and winds would blow,
when the stars pulse spirals of fire across the sky,
and all the lunatics saw and all the lunatics knew,
that the two eyes of God had aligned in the sky,
to give us a glimpse into the divine,
and though the sane may deny we gaze through God’s eyes,
and claim it was just some misfiring synapses flashing through a crack in our minds,
we all knew it was true,
we all knew we shared a view into something just too beautiful to prove,
and they can’t take away from me and you.

Even when the seasons change,
summer exceeds its stay,
the sun creeps away,
and fall shadows grab hold of your brain,
and you can feel your will within each withering leaf clinging to the trees of the entire forest surrounding you,
slipping as they fall down on you,
and then when winter rolls around,
your soul retreats deep beneath the frozen ground,
and its calling your body down,
and it feels like your ashes are fighting gravity,
even then, spring will come again, and invite you to rise too high,
and it’s up for you to decide if you’ll repeat those seasonal tides that will lay waste to your lives,
but if you choose to live, you may look out at the sky and reminisce about those times, when the sun and the moon would align,
and each would find its other eye so that God could cry about what was lost and why,
but I tell you not to miss those times, for the sun still shines and the moon will still rise,
and with just enough light from the far off shine of the sun across the sky it will keep that divine sight forever alive in your eyes.



From the movie and the original soundtrack to the movie Touched With FireI do not own the copyright to these lyrics, they are copyrighted to their respective owners.

06:35 < intp> let me think

IRC has played a major role in my life over the past…what…16 years now?  People have come and gone, but at the core of it all, there are a select few who’ve been around since the early days (including myself, relatively speaking).  I was different back then, in a lot of ways.

Here is a photo album put together by one of the network owners: https://www.flickr.com/photos/owlgames/sets/72157635869807546/ Most of the pictures in the album now consist of people who are long gone and probably never to return because they have moved on in life.  I, on the other hand, am going in a giant circle.  Back to square one.  It’s not been a waste, but it’s been a disappointment.  People need to learn compassion.

Anyway, it’s not just that #intp and the ECNet network attracts a wide variety of diverse people, but it has a very distinct culture to it that’s formed over such a long time.  In recent months, it’s gotten even stranger.  I don’t mind; in fact I fit right in, with the exception of one of the IRCops who (now) claims he has schizophrenia.  I thought he was bipolar, but I guess he changed his mind because he’s too much of an idiot to see a real psychiatrist, so he goes to see a quack instead.


Well, …

I got my surprise.  Never saw it coming.  No, it wasn’t that upgrading from Stretch to Buster broke Lighttpd and ate my Let’s encrypt certificates.  Right now it’s just not public information.  We’ll see how far this goes.  I don’t feel very confident about that, but stranger things have happened.  (No, it’s not a new job.)

It’s quiz/exam week in Chemistry, I finished the homework although I have some questions for tutoring sessions later on.  Slept the entire weekend.  Not sure what that means.  This is a new thing for me since the Prozac.  Psychiatrist just kind of shrugged it off.  Missed 1 question out of 25 questions on the practice exam… That’s damn impressive, IMO.  This professor is so much better than the professor I had in Spring.  I wouldn’t say it’s because he’s easier… it’s too early to tell.  I think it’s just that the class is more organized and requires you to be proactive in your learning.  The lecture videos are very short, so you have to read the book and do the problems.  I can definitely tell the other students struggle.

The price I pay for a life in academia, my last bastion of hope until I get SSDI.  Fortunately, in grad school I’ll be eligible for TA-ships and such, so it won’t always be this way.