Organizing the Chaos

I’ve been told that not updating this blog is an unacceptable use of my time, so here’s an obligatory “Here’s-what’s-going-on-with-me” update. The short answer: a lot! The long answer is the rest of this entry.

Necessity Necessitates Invention

Shortly after returning the apartment to a liveable state, I met with a man I had first been introduced to at an NYPC Web Design meeting I attended some months before my road trip. We met to finally put into action a plan we’d been working on before I left for the summer. I was to provide a kind of special consulting and tutoring service on all things technical and help him and his business grow with the use of technology. Put simply, it’s rather like an elaborate friendship which is centerd around teaching him how to better use technology in the whole of his life, including his photography business.

So needless to say, I’ve been spending some of my time with him discussing technical things, showing how to use computers in various ways, and advising on what I think the best course of action is for him in regards to his technology requirements. In the mean time, I’ve also been doing some research on digital printing and scanning and looking for ways to improve my own photo manipulation and creative skills with programs like PhotoShop.

One of the things I needed to create for myself after starting this tutoring/consulting work is an easy way to keep track of and calculate how many billable hours I’ve worked with him. It occured to me that the simplest way of doing this might be to use iCal, Mac OS X’s built-in calendaring program, since I already use it to keep track of the appointments I have with him. After some brainstorming, I came up with a very simple PHP script that parses an exported iCal calendar (that is, a vCalendar 2.0 [aka iCalendar] formatted file), grabs all the appointments with a certain special note in them and adds up all the billable hours at whatever rate was set. I’m still adding to it piece-meal style, but eventually I hope to use it as a primary means of keeping track of per-hour billing appointments.

At the moment, I’m imagining some sort of AppleScript-based automation to keep the whole system glued together (at least on Macs), though I’m not sure if that’s what will end up happening. Either way, it’ll give me an opportunity to learn some AppleScript. I’ve been wanting to learn more about it ever since I discovered Terminal’s osascript command.

Hard-Up for Hardware

Another major thing going on for me right now is that I’m intensively studying about computer hardware and looking for as much hands-on practice replacing, repairing, and troubleshooting hardware issues as I can. The recent abysmal string of computer failures that I’ve experienced has left me feeling rather helpless and to combat that feeling I’m trying to fill in all the weak spots in my computing knowledge. That means I’m boning up on my hardware skillz, since they were pretty weak.

I’ve purchased a replacement logic board for my iMac DV (that’s what the folks at Tekserve told me was wrong with mine when I brought it in), and intend on attempting to replace it myself. In the mean time, I’m going to grab the hard drive from the iMac and put it in an enclosure to use as an external hard drive for one of my other PowerMac G3 towers. (Hey, why not?)

In a funny way, all of this couldn’t have come at a better time. At around the time when the dust in my apartment was settling, I had a phone interview with an Apple retail staffer looking to hire people to work as Mac Geniuses at their new Apple Store’s Genius Bar in midtown Manhattan. I think the interview went pretty well; he seemed excited to be talking with me and invited me to the initial group interview sometime in the middle of December. The only points to be made was that the Mac Genius position had very little to do with software or web development (the thing I’m most comfortable doing) and a lot to do with hardware and software troubleshooting.

Studying more about Apple hardware would be required learning for the Mac Genius position. This gave me yet another reason to dive right in and get a hold of some AppleCare Technician Training. My dad was generous enough to give me this as an early Christmas present. I’m expecting it to arrive sometime tomorrow or the next day.

Backups for Everything

Even if I don’t do well enough to be hired by Apple, I’m really excited to be studying about Apple hardware and taking the AppleCare Technician Training course. It’s a prepatory course for taking the ACDT tests, which I intend to eventually take whether or not I’m employed by Apple. One reason for that is because I want to prepare myself for the possibility of making money with this newfound hardware knowledge. Something that’s been on my mind for quite a while in various forms is the idea of a tech support side business. Over the summer, I finally chose a name for that: Mayday Tech Support. I’ve already gone ahead and got the domain name (maydaytechsupport.com) and hopefully sooner rather than later I’m going to merge it under the Maymay Media umbrella. Naturally, a web site is forthcoming.

Anyway, all this hardware training can now be put to two good uses. If I get hired by Apple as a Mac Genius, great! If not, I’ll still have the AppleCare Technician Training and will take the ACDT tests, which I’m sure will come in handy for Mayday Tech Support.

Backburners On High

Most everything else is on the backburner right now, but the range is still turned up high. I’m working on programming the back-end to a site my father’s gotten a contract for, I have a meeting with another client who needs help with their ASP.NET web site, I’m still pursuing a Doing-Business-As certificate for Maymay Media, there are countless chores around the house that are slowly being done, the web site for Deux Amis Designs is in the works, I’m reading two new excellent books (The Pragmatic Programmer and The Art of Deception by Kevin Mitnick), and still found enough time to spend a good chunk of the weekend with family.

So, yeah, that’s what’s going on with me.

2 replies on “Organizing the Chaos”

  1. i just finished an in-person interview with apple for a mac genius position (though in a different city), and from what i understand, if they hire you they send you to california for two weeks paid training and certification. so you might wanna hold back on spending too much on certifications just yet.

  2. Hey Sam, thanks for the note. This is an old entry, however, so you might be interested to know that I was later hired by Apple and successfully obtained my ACHDS, ACDT, and ACPT certifications in short order. I spent 10 months as a Mac Genius, working in both the SoHo Apple Store and the Fifth Avenue Apple Store. I eventually quit in favor of a position with Opsware, Inc. because I felt hugely underpaid and underchallenged at Apple’s Genius Bars.

    Good luck on your pursuit to work at Apple. I can tell you from personal experience that it is just not all that it’s cracked up to be, especially if (like me) you don’t care about the “glamour” of being a Mac “Genius.” (Most of the Geniuses I worked with were fantastic people, but clearly not interested in the technical bits of their computers as much as I and a select few others were). However, the people are exceptionally friendly and I always smile when I see them these days.

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