Lots of New stuff at Work this past week.

Yeah, as I said in the title of the post. Lots of changes for work this past week. New phone, new email system, new mobile email system, new security access to corporate data.

I’ve been upgraded on my iPhone from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone 8 Plus (64GB). I only had 64 GB on my 6 so it’s not a huge deal. We could either go with a regular 8 with more memory or a larger device with better camera for only 64GB memory. I chose the Plus because of reasons. (Images shown here are from Apple’s online store.)

The new phone is taking some getting used to because of it’s size and I had to get a case within a couple of days because it is very slick. I went with a case from Apple’s store but it’s made by Otterbox. Not a bad looking case, but about twice the costs of something I could have found (and may still look into) on Amazon. I’m still debating on whether I should try a folio or wallet case or simply something good and protective.

Also this past week, I’ve moved from IBM “Lotus” Notes email to Outlook and Exchange. I and a coworker were the first in R&S Americas to do this. With that change we also had to go away from the Blackberry secure contain “Good For Enterprise” and move to their “Blackberry UEM” and Blackberry Dynamics apps (BB Work is the primary one for email/calendar/contacts). So that’s another new thing to get used to. Not bad, and much better than Good FE, but still somewhat of a pain for the sake of security.

We’re moving to a new authentication as well for accessing things. Soft Tokens are used in combination of a personal PIN along with a generated PIN to access things like corporate email and other internal resources. We were using a smart card which required hardware devices to read. The soft-token is an app available from the online App stores (iTunes, Android Market, etc.). It’s more convenient because one may very rarely forget the phone, but much more often forget the smart card (and external readers when necessary). That also opens up the hardware options for laptops. No longer limited to have devices that have the card readers built in.

The farm house has pretty much been finished for a Month

Although there are a few bits here and there that need to be patched, adjusted or painted, the house is pretty much finished. I need to get back down there to take some more final photos but here is a quick before and after shot.

Farm house in August 2014 when we were looking to buy it.
The house in July 2017 after a lot of work had gone into it. As seen from the front.

I need to get some more of the same angles for best before and after, but these two will provide a bit of the changes. The first image above is from August 2014.  The second image is where we left it about a month ago, with the new “front” look. The black shutters help to break the white up quite well, I think.

After all was said and done, I think we put about $125,000 of repair and improvements. The insurance paid to have 1/3 of the house replaced (from the ground up) and I added another $30,000 to make it better. Time for a re-appraisel as I’m sure the house has increased in value (hoping for another 50%). We bought the place at an appraised value of $110,000. With our improvements and 1/3 rebuild, it’s got to be worth $150,000 or more.

The Farm House Update (quick)

This past weekend I spent some time down “on the farm” reviewing the status of the farm house repair/improvements. The first image below is the sample image from the tiles we’ve elected to use in our new bathroom – the image is from the tile people and is nothing like our bathroom, but at least it does provide a “feel” for how the tile is going to look.

This next image is of the front of the house with the old (older but newer than original) siding removed. It exposed some bad wood spots that needed repair with replacement wood, but overall in good condition. We elected to put new windows in place as well. When we saw the wood shingles in the gable we decided to try and keep them. There are some that need to be replaced around the window, but otherwise they just need to be cleaned and painted. We need to add some color to the house anyway and we really like the “old style” look this brings back to the house.

This next image is of the house from an arial view showing the state at the time. The roof is a silvery gray but in most cases it appears white when the sun is bright.

We’ve selected (and purchased) lights and a ceiling fan (to replace the one in the main entry/porch area). We’ve gone with some “flush mount” LED lights for the kitchen, back door entry area (mud room), laundry and hall way. Also some smaller utility LED lights for the walk in closets. We found some really nice motion activated security lights as well (also LED). For the external front door and back door lights we’ve found a really nice style we like that is “old” and uses vintage element light bulbs. I’m not quite sure if they’re LED, but I think that is an option. The bulbs are about $5 to purchase but the look is really neat.

A good bit of work has to be done, including the flooring, tile work and painting – but we seem to be over the biggest portion of the rebuild. It’s going to be another few weeks before we can move back in.

Finally purchased MS Office 2016 (Office 365 actually)

Work is moving away from IBM (Lotus) Notes for email, calendaring and contacts. But we’re keeping it for all the other aspects as we have many applications running on that platform. We have about 40 or so left that need to be migrated to other platforms but our corporate office has over 4,000 – so I’ll have plenty of work in that respect.

I’ve been given the task of “Change Management” and some Training for the Outlook/Exchange project. Mostly that is sending out communications regarding the move and how people can prepare for it. I’ve already sent out a few emails to the North America audience. But, as of writing this, I still do not have access to the Outlook client or email for testing and my own edification of the products. So, I’ve decided to update my MS Office 2011 (Mac) and 2010 (Windows) to MS Office 365 (5 licenses for a year). That allows me to install on my MacBook, My Mac Pro and my Surface Pro 3. And still have two left over so I can install it on my Laptop and maybe my iMac in the office (if I need to).

I’ve switched from using the web interface for my Hotmail account to using Outlook 2016.  It’s not quite the same on the macOS  computers as it is on Windows but it’s close enough. It is also not quite the same as using Hotmail as it would be with our corporate Exchange server, but it should be close enough. However one gets emails, all the stuff I want to explore is the same regardless of what email is coming in and how it’s delivered.

Hello Martha! It was great to see you!

Sounds like something I’d put on Facebook instead of my blog, but I’d like to take this time to say hello to Martha, whom I’ve not seen in about 5 years or so. This week in Germany has been very busy and since we’ve been meeting mostly off campus, it’s been hard to find any time to meet up with people like Martha! It was great seeing her tonight even though we only had a few minutes to chat due to the seating arrangements. It was still good to see her even though I was an old crabby man and wouldn’t stay for another drink! Hope to see her again before we head back home.

After doing some testing, updating my Cable Internet Speed

I don’t think I really need it, but I’m boosting my speed up to Comcast’s Blast (200 Mbps). Why am I writing this here? I tried to remember the last time I updated my package and I had to dig around a lot more (reviewing CC bills to see when the price bumped up). I found it – it was December of 2016, but now I have this entry, I’ll search again and know it was done on April 30, 2017. Memory!

I was hoping to get more footage, but weather wasn’t participating

In a recent quick and short visit to my farmhouse in SC, I was able to take these images. I was only able to fly the drone for about 20 minutes before I had to stop and run out to pick up my sister. I was hoping to come back over the next day and shoot some more but that didn’t work out due to over cast weather and that another grand nephew came into the world. No problem, I’ll be back in another month or so to have another chance to capture more and get some more “flying” in. I wish there was a place to fly and practice at home…I’ll just have to find a place. I’ve posted many more on my Facebook page.

Updates for Farmhouse and Drone Repairs

The farmhouse is coming along now. It’s good to see this phase of things as it appears to move more quickly than other phases. I know things will start slowing down as they work on the inside – at least not be as drastic on a day to day basis with changes. 

On the drone front, service is now repairing the unit and it says 3 or 4 days for repair and testing. I’m hoping that will come along. In the meantime I’ve purchased another one to have as a spare for when one goes into service, I’ll still have one to use. Hey, a computer would cost me more and I’m OK with keeping what I have for another year or more! Don’t judge me! :-).