My job has little in the way of manual labor. I don’t lift boxes or fix cars in a hot garage. Still, I’m exhausted after a really difficult week with lots of long days.
We just installed some new weather equipment. It won’t make me more accurate, but it will allow me to make the weather presentation a little more compelling and a little more easily understood.
The new system we got replaces a few very old pieces of hardware. If you’re a computer geek, you’ll recognize the name “Silicon Graphics.” Silicon Graphics, aka SGI, was the leader in computer hardware that worked well with video.
SGI did it with proprietary hardware – meaning it was very expensive. On the other hand, our SGI “O2” and “Octane” computers were both built like brick shit houses. Can I say that?
When PCs became dirt cheap and lightning fast, SGI had a problem.
Anyway, our two SGI boxes were dead, or dying, and had to be replaced. The new PC based equipment does nearly everything¹ the SGI machines did, but at many times the speed.
In the weather department that means it’s possible to manipulate our data and present it with a little more movement and flash.
I’ve been through these graphic upgrades in the past – more than once. It’s all incremental, with no individual upgrade being Earth shattering. Still, viewers would notice (and not in a good way) if we ever went back even a single step.
Of course the problem with new hardware is, you’ve got to learn how to use it. Then, you’ve got to learn how to integrate it into your presentation. I don’t want to use flashy stuff just to be flashy. I’m still trying to tell a story with visual aids.
I worked a 12 hour day all week. On Monday I helped with the installation. Tuesday and Wednesday I trained and prepared new graphics. This morning was supposed to be the debut. It was just the start of another 12 hour day.
At air time the going got a little rough and our original equipment was re-energized and put back on-the-air. It’s a sign of how we’ve come to accept computers as just another troubled relationship that no one was bent out of shape. It wasn’t unexpected… though it wasn’t expected either.
By 5:00 PM we had ironed out the kinks and went live.
So much of using these systems is trying to be artistically creative. I’m sure some of what I’ve done so far is is lots of effort with little reward. I’ve spent time producing graphics that just don’t make the grade.
That comes with the territory. It will take a while to understand what I can do and how it will look (even before it’s produced).
At the moment I’m mentally exhausted.
I expect to get a phone call or two over the weekend as others run into trouble. I might even have to run in for a hands on fix. I’ve got no problem with that.
I’m looking forward to Monday when the hours will be a little shorter and the challenge of this system will be fresher.
¹ – Systems, like the one in our weather area, only have an installed base in the hundreds. The software is never finished, and always buggy, when it first comes out. Over time are all the features added (and the bugs swatted).
Right now, this system only works in a 3D world. It needs to work in both 3D and 2D simultaneously. The last sentence sounds confusing, because the whole concept is confusing… and difficult to achieve.