The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Working at the Edge of Reality

I'm sure 99 percent of the people reading the title of this blog expected some metaphorical tie-in.

Sorry to disappoint. No, really I am.

I want to take a few minutes and tell you about a local Austin gaming company that went way out of their way to help The HeliOS Project.

And let me break your heart early.

She's already seeing someone.

The Edge of Reality is an Austin firm that makes games for the console. Brittany Henry, a producer for Edge of Reality emailed me a while back and asked me if I would be interested in, oh...I dunno, somewhere around 70 monitors and 40 Pentium 4 computers? My reply was pretty simple if I recall.

"Ya think?"

I laid on the truck for that day but try as I could, I wasn't able to find anyone that had Friday off and was willing to help me load this cargo.

It was a lot of cargo.

Taking one final shot, I posted a simple blog, asking if anyone would consider helping me the next day. Fortunately, because had I needed to do this myself, I would still be there; a young man named Justin Carnahan chimed in and said he would be happy to.

I don't think he had any idea.......

It was a disaster from the moment we walked in the door.

The Edge of Reality occupies some of the most expensive glassy and chrome-ie office footage available in Austin. Yes, I have heard the console gaming industry is doing ok for itself. This pretty well proves it.

We had brought pallets and pallet jack, shrink wrap and other assorted implements of destruction to get the job done.

Note to self...21 inch CRT's do not stabilize well unboxed and on a pallet. Trying to put 8 monitors on a pallet and shrink wrapping them resulted in monitors trying desperately to escape the shrink wrap oh, I'd say in about 5 feet of transport.

Once we did succeed in getting a pallet of them down the elevator, we found that the 12 degree lip on the liftgate was much too steep to get the pallet jack onto it...not without bumping it with an 18 inch head start.

Which resulted in monitors wanting to impact upon the hot asphalt in the worst way.

Bad idea.

So, 4 at a time, we hauled the monitors down to the truck, lift-gated them up to the truck and carried them one-by-one to the back of the truck, stacking them as tightly together as possible.

By the way, miracles do happen. We transported these monitors about 30 miles in a bumpy truck ride without breaking one. We broke only one in the loading process. (see the part about 12 degree lips)

The computers themselves were not that bad as they play well together when in a group. Nice, neat stacks that didn't threaten to commit mass suicide at the least little bump. I like them. 21 inch CRT's not so much.

Justin Carnahan was a life-saver that day and I owe him much more than the Chili's steak dinner we bought for him.

Then came the real surprise.

We had left the truck loaded because I had yet to secure storage for the beasts. Upon arising for the morning, I did what I always do. I reached for my coffee cup to make some instant while my ancient Mr. Coffee chugged to make the real stuff.

I reached for it with my left hand. Gravity ensued. Grip was not as strong as gravity.

In fact, there was no grip at all. Subsequent trips to the Dr. revealed that I had repetitively stressed a tendon in my left arm. Further Dr. visits to a specialist discovered I had torn said tendon.

Two surgeries later, I believe it will be ok. It was really too far from my heart to kill me but you couldn't convince my cry baby self about that at the time. Besides, they were micro-surgeries...I even got to watch the monitor as the Doctor spot-welded it together. It left a bee-sting sized scar for me to show off at parties...oh the sacrifices made... away computers to kids is actually.

Gathering them in one place, can at times, rate a 10 on your "that-sucks-O-Meter."

But what do you expect...

It all happened at The Edge of Reality.

As so much of my life does it seems.

All-Righty Then


gagy said...

I appreciate your story very much and would like you to please convey my most sincere thanks to these two helpful people.
As for you Ken, I think you are crazy as a loon, but such wonderful craziness! Thank you for what you do (even though it is at the expense of some muscle fibers...) and the spirit you give us.
Good luck with the mending.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I honestly don't mean to be disrespectful but man, you are barely on the sunny side of 60, right?

You had no business lifting all those monitors and you should have known. that doesn't negate the huge amount of respect I have for you though.

You just got to realize your own limitations.

Unknown said...

It was a pleasure working with you Ken! Sorry you got injured, though that says tons about your dedication to the kids. Best of luck to you (and another thank you to Justin as well).

Chelle Minkin said...

Well, Ken is 55 so he's not "just on the sunny side" of anything except 56. The fact that he does WHAT he does, at any age at all speaks volumes for the man.


Men Ken's age...guys that take care of themselves as Ken obviously has (not a bad picture sweetie) have many attributes that far exceed younger men.

Just an observation.


PV said...

I guess you've really got to get some dedicated people to work with you frequently; these people also need to be able to lift stuff, because even at 55 you should not be doing that sort of strenuous manual labor.
Incidentally, I have converted 1.5 people to Linux. 1 of them (my cousin) has a MacBook and had a Windows partition running through Boot Camp but said he had no use for that. He was here visiting a last week and was working in my room when he glanced up at my computer and saw me running Linux Mint 7. He was really impressed with the polish, design, and feature content (he was already pretty familiar with the virtues of Linux but never really got around to investigating the newest distros), so much so that he asked to borrow my Live CD to replace Windows in Boot Camp. In fact, he even compared the polish of the OS as comparable to or exceeding Mac OS X (possibly a first among Mac users). I conservatively estimated about an hour's installation time, but installation was all said and done in 10 minutes; that blew him away. He is now a happy Linux Mint 7 user, and I'm happy because of it.
The remaining 0.5 I speak of is one of my school friends. His (Windows (XP)) computer recently crashed and needed reformatting urgently; his parents also occasionally use it. I was searching for distros that would be compatible with his extremely minimal (192 MB RAM, 300 MHz processor, 100 GB hard drive) system specs. I recommended to him Xfce or Fluxbox versions of Ubuntu or Mint. He ended up installing Xubuntu 8.04 LTS dual-booting it with Windows XP (for his parents' sake) and liked it except for the fact that somehow the dual-boot system was really slow. Even so, he said he would have still run it but was forced to remove it at the insistence of his parents. Thus, it is 0.5 for my initial success but later failure; I'm not quite sure what it is that his parents have against Linux. Furthermore, I cited numerous articles from this blog as well as sites like and (I know the latter deals directly with HeliOS customers), and it easily convinced him but not his parents in the least bit. Sad. Adults say young minds are very impressionable, but in situations like these it is saddening that adult minds are not also so.
(phew, that was a long post)
a Linux Mint user since 1 May 2009

Unknown said...

Lifting isn't's doing it repetitively for 8 hours that caused the damage.

Chelle, you little minx...hush.

first off, those parents have just made a Linux user for life. At his age, he is determined to use it and he will. They just did the linux community a big favor. Second, they probably think it's something illegal or dark. Third, if they like to get played for suckers, I guess that's what they are. They don't own the software, they allow all sorts of third party people to stomp around inside their machines and they are paying for or using antivirus software they shouldn't have to. Their loss.

Some people just thrive on being abused and write their abusers checks on a regular basis. There is a thin line between victim and.....


Justin said...

It was fun helping out. Work goes a lot quicker with good company, and Ken's a really stand up guy.

And yeah, I'd wager it was more the quantity of monitors more than the heaviness of any one of them... that was a LOT of monitors!


And yeah, I'm a Mac user, and I will vouch that Linux properly done looks prettier. (See also: compiz)

Anthony Lawrence said...

I wonder if you noticed this

"Yesterday Google, in cooperation with a group of tech companies, create a new search service with the specific aim of helping users find community service and volunteer events, and allowing them to share it to anyone"

Seems like you should be in there.

Unknown said...

Anthony, If I could find a way to get on tht list I would/ If you find the link, shoot the comments here and I will make it so.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

The link is on the FAQ page.


Anthony Lawrence said...

I think it is

where you can post about your project. The Google stuff is about indexing that.

Anthony Lawrence said...

Looks like you need to follow this

to get listed there.

From the FAQ at

How does a group post a volunteer activity?
We welcome your listings and need your support! Whether you have two or two hundred to share. we want to help you spread the word. If your organization is interested in submitting volunteer activities to All for Good, please contact us by filling out the Volunteer Feed Listings form. We will get back to you with ways to deliver the required data to us.

robert said...

If I lived in texas I would have helped.

Unknown said...

Thank you Robert, for that I know you would have's simply a fact that I am not well networked in my own city. I don't do LUGs because they tend to be pretty introspective socially and most times are only interested in group projects within the LUG and impressing the other.

I'm sure they are not all like that but the one's I attended were. The only one that could get me to attend a meeting out of the old group here has passed on...I just haven't been back since 2006