My Substitute Reality -You're just jealous cause the little voices only talk to me-

Sunday August 14, 2016

What’s Happening? Part 2

Filed under: Cars,Family,Life,Personal,Work — don @ 10:39 am

Near the end of last year my company was looking for new people to help build our antennas.  I was thinking our son-in-law Patrick was a smart person who learned quickly so I talked to my boss about bringing him in to see if he would be able to help.  He started around the beginning of December and has worked out very well.  Everyone likes him and thinks he is a great worker and asset to the company.

I stopped riding my bike to work because I was car pooling with Patrick.  We took my F150 4X4 most of the time but that thing gets terrible gas mileage.  I knew we needed something that would do better.

I started looking at information on electric cars.  Daryl has had his Volt for several years and really loves it.  I thought that might be an option and then I looked at the Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf is electric only which means if the battery runs out you have to either tow it or recharge it and there’s no gas engine to do it for you.  But it also has an 87 mile range for the older versions and 107 miles for the 2016.  I figured 87 miles would be enough since I could drive it the 30 miles to work and then charge it back up while there.

We looked at a 2013 Leaf that had 18,000 miles but it didn’t have the Level 3 socket which allows you to charge to 80% in 30 minutes.  I felt if I was going to have one I might want to take it to someplace like Santa Barbara where I could do the Level 3 charge and then come home the same day.

We went to the Nissan dealer to see if they had any used Leafs but they didn’t.  I started talking to them about what a new one costs.  Turns out when you buy a new electric car you get a $7,500 tax credit from the US and a $2,500 rebate from CA.  Nissan was also giving a $4,000 rebate and since I belonged to a credit union I got an additional $3,500 off.  That’s $17,500 off the sticker price.  That’s close to 50% off.  I figured I might as well buy new and that way I got the Level 3 socket.

I’ve been driving it for several months and I have to say I love it.  Since I got it I have only had to stop at the gas station once when I drove Betty’s Camry on a day it was low on gas.  Since we have the solar panels on the roof most of the electric is “free”.  It’s not exactly but very close.

I love being free from gas so much I’m contemplating trading in the Camry for a Volt.  I would still get the $10,000 in tax rebates and credits on a Volt.  I would definitely want to do it before the end of the year so I could take the Federal credit off my taxes next year.  We will see how things go.

Monday March 19, 2012


Filed under: Work — don @ 7:28 pm

About a year ago my co-workers were talking about getting some software to handle our inventory and maybe help with our manufacturing. Since they knew I’m fairly knowledgeable about computers they asked me to help find the best system for our needs.

We looked at a few different products and most of them would have done most of what we wanted but they were all $5,000 or above. A few of them were closer to $20,000.

I told the guys that I could code up what they needed using Visual Basic. After we went back and forth they decided I should probably go ahead and give it a shot.

We bought a couple of scanner guns which are actually portable computers and I went to work learning how to program them. Once I figured that out I started on the VB software.

What we decided on was a system that would have a VB program running on the same server that served the scanners. To save the data I went with a MySQL database which I had some experience with from some PHP and Python programs I had written a few years ago. We could have gone with Microsoft Access too but I felt more comfortable with MySQL.

I would also create a VB program that would allow a user to modify the data and look at things like WIP (Work In Process) and Inventory.

It took a few months but by May or so of last year we had a working system. It was actually more complete than we had originally planned. It was actually a fairly complete MRP (Manufacturing and Resource Planning) system.

The other main architect and I presented it at a Friday luncheon and everyone was fairly impressed.

A few months later our procurement guys asked if we could add some purchasing information. They had been keeping all this information on Excel spreadsheets stored all over our file server. If you really knew what you were looking for you might have been able to find it but Excel is not the place to keep large amounts of data. You should keep large amounts of data in a database.

We also use QuickBooks to do our Purchase Orders and Invoices. What we really wanted was some way to access both the information in the Excel spreadsheets and the information in the QuickBooks database. I did some searching and found a piece of software that would copy the QB data to a MySQL database and allow you to update it from the MySQL database. We purchased that I figured out how to used it.

Since then I’ve been adding features and capabilities and we are ready to present it again. In fact we are going to do some training and roll it out to the whole company.

Now it has the original features plus it allows Manufacturing Engineers to see assembly information about parts and shortages. In fact it does a ton on that front.

It also has all the procurement features they asked for plus many they didn’t.

I also threw in some reports for Program Managers to help them understand how their programs are doing.

And now, about the name. As you can see on the pictures I’ve included the Icon is a piggy bank. I don’t know why I picked that but my cohort Jeff stated calling it Piggy right after I first came out with it and it stuck. Even though very few people at work have actually used it they all know what Piggy is. And after this Friday they will all know what it can do.

Here’s a few pictures of the program.

Most of the upper tabs have one or two rows of tabs underneath just like the Procurment/PM tab does.

At our last Friday lunch our CFO Stuart was telling the folks about the demo that Jeff and I had given him. He said he was very impressed. He also said our financial guy thought we could sell it if we wanted to since he had never seen anything that well integrated with QuickBooks. I don’t think we’re ready to stop selling antennas and sell Piggies but it was a nice thing to hear when you’ve invested a lot of time in something.

I forgot to mention that because I love to write programs I did much of it at home on weekends. It was quite usual for me to get up at 7am on Saturday and work till 8 or 9 that evening and then do it again on Sunday. Of course that was donated time as we don’t get any overtime as a salaried employee.

But I would do it all again.

Saturday December 19, 2009

I want one

Filed under: Cool Stuff,Motorcycle,Work — don @ 9:42 am

A friend of mine sent me this. Not sure where he found it but I’m thinking it would make my commute easier.

Sunday September 13, 2009

Back to Work

Filed under: Life,Work — don @ 7:47 am

I’m headed back to work tomorrow. I’ve accepted a job with ThinKom down in Torrance. They make antennas that are small and lightweight and fairly low cost compared to similar performing antennas. The founder of the company invented this antenna while he was working at Hughes in the early 90s. He formed ThinKom in 2000 and they have been growing since then. They finally got some larger contracts and decided they needed a Test Engineer. I interviewed with them on July 23rd and they made me the offer around the beginning of September.

I would have preferred to find something in the valley but I think ThinKom has a potential to be a pretty good thing for us. The fact they are growing at a time when everyone else is shrinking is a really good indicator.

Sunday July 20, 2008

Filed under: Cool Stuff,Life,Work — don @ 5:59 pm

That’s the name of my new website. I’ve been thinking about ways to use the internet to make a little extra money and it hit me that the price of gas is a pretty big topic right now. Most people would like to save money on gas and/or get better mileage. I started thinking of names that might work for a domain name and tried out a few before finding howmuchmileage was available. I went ahead and purchased it and I’ve spent the last week or so setting up the website and it’s ready for people to look at now.

It’s still a bit slim as far as content but I’m hoping some people might register for the forum and start posting ideas for links and/or just ideas to help the site grow.

I know most of my family is running Firefox with AdBlock so you don’t see the ads but there are several there. I’ve also got some on this site trying to see how they work.

If you see an ad that interests you click on it but please don’t click for clicking sake. Google frowns on that.

Tuesday September 13, 2005

Barbie’s Car

Filed under: Cars,Work — don @ 7:25 pm

I’ve been thinking about how dangerous it is to ride a bike when it’s raining. Especially a bike that has 140 horsepower. I’ve also been thinking about how uncomforatable it is to be soaked. With those 2 things in mind I started looking for a small car to drive the 28 miles to and from work that got good gas mileage. I’ve got a Ford F-150 but it doesn’t know how to pass a gas station.

Last week I started looking in earnest for a wet weather car and yesterday I found it. It’s a 1991 Mazda Miata. It’s not fast but it is kinda fun and it will keep me dry. It seems to be in pretty good condition for a 15 year old car. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday June 12, 2005

Gumbo Day

Filed under: Food,Work — don @ 9:53 am

Tomorrow is Gumbo Day at work. That means I’ll be making my roux. For those of you who have never made a roux it’s not easy. Simple yes, but not easy. It involves mixing flour and some kind of fat(oil, shortening, lard, etc.) in a pot and cooking it slowly, stirring ALL THE TIME!

If it only took 10 minutes or so it would be easy but it takes at least an hour for the dark chocolate color needed for a good gumbo. If you have the heat too high it will burn and you’ll have to start all over. I found a website with some pretty good recipes a few years ago.

I’ve made my gumbo about 6 times. So far I’ve never burned the roux but I know statistics will catch up to me sooner or later.

I like the spice so I usually add some kind of habanero sauce. One time I added a little of “Da’ Bomb“. For some reason there was a lot left over that Gumbo Day.

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