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November 15, 2014

Rant

I guess blogging has sort of gone out of style.  There isn't really much to say right now, but I can leave you with these nuggets of information. 

  • While I don't use it, my wife is enamoured with Etsy.  On the surface it is all artsy, but it is pretty much the best place to buy trademark infringing custom Disney apparel.  Sort of like a game of whack-a-mole with vendors from what I understand.
  • Maybe I don't hang in the right crowds, but I personally don't find the appeal of Pinterest.  The whole concept of using "curate" as a verb and spending time organizing content that has already generated feels like a waste of time.  I'd be terrible at making investment decisions for internet companies, because it seems that every mother at my son's school uses it for anything that is arts and crafts related.
  • Please do not use an iPad or tablet as a camcorder.
  • That is all.

 

May 31, 2014

The Only Game in Town - Part 2

As I have mentioned before, I am a Comcast/Xfinity customer at home, not from choice, but from lack of it.  While I complain a lot about their video offering and craptasic DVR, overall their Internet bandwidth and latency are amazing and their phone service is quite clear and is virtually  indistinguishable from a standard POTS line (and I can send SuperG3 33.6Kbps faxes to boot.. try that on any VOIP carrier...).  

I originally started this blog post a few months ago, only to have life pop up and give me more important things to deal with.  Since then, my bill has creeped up by around $20 USD per month since my initial install.

A few weeks ago I went back and checked with all the other broadband players in my ZIP code to see what they are offering.  I was surprised to hear that AT&T has rolled out 6Mbps service in my neighborhood.  That would be exciting if it were 2001 again, but I guess it was much better than their 3Mbps service they were promoting.  Since DSLextreme and Sonic.net (two of my favorite small ISPs) use AT&T cable plant, you are stuck at 6 megs as well.   

Without any real options for switching, I called Comcast and gave the whole faux argument that I might switch and I was looking at lower cost providers.  They backed down pretty quick and gave me $50 off my bill every month to go into a 24 month contract.  As much as I hate contracts, I can't imaging AT&T rolling out Uverse TV and high speed internet in my neighborhood in the next two years.  

It is nice to save money, but it is an empty feeling to know that there are no other viable (i.e. fast and affordable) options where I live.   There are whole geographic regions in Africa that share a single VSAT internet connection, so I should really shut up and be thankful.  Note to self: Evaluate Internet options in 2016.

 

January 20, 2014

Shady Unsubscribe

Recently I was going through my SPAM filter and looking to see if there was anything that I legitimately signed up for and could unsubscribe to.  I found about twenty different vendors that I was getting newsletters or random marketing pieces from, that at one time I was interested in, but ended up getting classified as SPAM over the years without my notice due to disinterest in their message. 

The bulk of the unsubscribe mechanisms were pretty straightforward and I applaud that.  A few of them were somewhat sneaky, making you read the verbiage twice to make sure that you really took the course of action that you intended.  Then there is Unilever.  At one point they had my e-mail address for some marketing or coupon campaign that I have since forgotten about.  To unsubscribe from their SPAM, here is what is required:

unilever.. oh boy 

So originally they had my e-mail address, now they want everything by my SSN to unsubscribe.  No thanks!

 

August 14, 2013

The Saga: Keeping my home phone number.

When we moved last December, we decided to go with a Comcast Triple Play package to consolidate billing on our Internet/Phone/TV.  I've discussed a bit of this previously in my blog.  Since we were moving six miles from our old house, I wanted to keep our home number the same.  Comcast said they would port that number with no problem. 

Problem.

After a long and in depth back and forth, they were unable to port my home phone number from Vonage to Comcast.  They told me that it was an issue of moving between rate centers and not being able to properly serve 911 service.  The problem with that was that the switch that handled the rate centers for my old residence and the switch that handle my new residence was in the same Central Office, and actually happened to be the same switch.  Their argument was that while it may be technically possible to accomplish the task I requested, the FCC or PUC rules (different depending on who I talked with) would not allow it.

I gave up. 

For the short term I call forwarded my old Vonage number to my new Comcast phone service.  The phone service quality with Comcast is actually excellent and doesn't have any jitter induced noise or compression like I was getting with Vonage.  I had a lot of other things going on, so this went on the back burner (having another child will change your priorities) for a while.  After a few months I got sick of paying full price for Vonage as a glorified call forwarding service.

I researched.

Actually I just Googled a bit and found that Google Voice is probably the best low cost (free) call forwarding service.  The issue is that Google Voice will only port mobile numbers and not landline or VOIP service.  I found a forum post with the best solution:

  • Port Vonage line to a Pre-Paid wireless phone (aka "throwaway phone" aka "burn phone")
  • Port from Pre-Paid phone to Google Voice

I acted.

I negotiated with my Wife a bit for a time frame in which we were not expecting any urgent calls on our listed home phone number.  I picked up the cheapest T-Mobile phone at Target ($29 USD) and a card that had the least amount of funds for minutes ($10 USD).  I activated the phone through the web interface as a pre-paid (by the minute) and funded it with the meager minutes fund.  I went back and forth with T-Mobile and Vonage over the next two days in regards to port requests.  Essentially you have to use the original address and zip code that you used to set up your Vonage account in order to port it.  They don't care if you update your address and billing information in the system, for some reason that original address and zip code is kept in the porting database.  Once the port was successful there was about 36 hours of "dual service" in which incoming calls would get routed to Vonage or T-mobile depending on which carrier the call originated from.  Just a note: Even though the phone I purchased had the ability to do call forwarding, it is disabled on T-mobile's network, at least when I did this port.

After the "dual service" ended, I called Vonage to cancel my service and they seemed to be unaware that my number was ported.  I was told by the customer service rep that my Vonage account would automatically be cancelled upon porting the number.  Even with the confusion with Vonage, I figured I would trudge on with the next step.  I created a Gmail account, then enabled a Google Voice account and started the porting process.  I didn't have a T-mobile account number to use, so I just entered the ten digit phone number as the account number in the porting process.  At the time I am writing this, it costs $20 USD to port a number into their service.  After an hour or so, Google Voice returned an error that they needed the service PIN.  After I entered the PIN for the mobile phone service (remember this, as you'll set this up when you create your pre-paid phone), it reported back that the port request was successful and that it should complete within 24 hours.  23 hours later the number was fully ported and the prepaid phone went out of service.  Within an hour of that I received an email from Vonage saying that my account was cancelled.    

I am happy.

At this point I am able to keep my number that I had for a decade.  I'm out $59 USD for all the service charges, but I have the flexibility to switch my broadband and television providers without impacting how various people keep in contact with us via phone.  I am sure this could be accomplished in various other elegant ways, but this is what worked for me.

February 26, 2013

The Only Game in Town - Part 1

We recently moved to another city and decided that we would consolidate our television/internet/phone into a "triple-play" package to save a bit of money and to make billing more convenient.  At our previous house we had separate services from DSLextreme for Internet, DirecTV for television and Vonage for the house phone.  We had 6 megabit DSL service, which wasn't super fast, but it was incredibly solid.  Based on reviews from friends, I was excited to try AT&T's Uverse offering.  Unfortunately the neighborhood that we moved to has a copper infrastructure installed in the late 1960's and is more than two wire miles from the AT&T central office, so you can't get any DSL based services at my residence of anything more than 3 megabit. 

What did this leave us with? Comcast.

Xfinity/Comcast/Kabletown Logo 

This did not make me happy.  I had been free of Comcast and their previous feeder incarnations for close to a decade.  People that know me in real life understand the amount of loathing that I had for them in the past.  But that was a decade ago and it was time to turn over a new leaf.

My odyssey began a week before we were slate to close on our new home.  I decided that I would just go to the Xfinity website and order up services.  The order process won't go through properly.  I get on the built in web chat and try to order up service.  No go.  I get on the phone to India and it is a no go as well.  After the third customer service agent, they finally figure out that the issue is related to an identity theft incident that happened to me a few years back.  I'm told that I need to go to a Comcast storefront location to identify myself in person before they will build an account.  So, I can get a huge mortgage and buy a car without even showing my drivers license, yet Comcast is on the verge of getting DNA to open account for a few hundred a month.  I digress.

I happened to be in the area, so I went to the Comcast store in Concord, California thinking it would be a quick stop to identify myself and set up an account.  Wrong.  The closest thing I can think of is an Emergency Room, but without the blood.  45 minutes later a nice customer service agent gets me set up with an account, with a nice shiny folder with my package and an appointment to set up service on the day we get the keys to the house.  Everyone there was really nice with the exception of an older lady at the front desk that kept raising her voice at folks that didn't have English as their first language.  

The day that we got the keys to our house, I was so excited to have everything electronic in place before we even moved in the furniture.  I had an extra $200 in cash in my pocket, ready to bribe the technician to pull some CAT5 along with the RG6 coax that they needed for the cable service.  I had already bought voice capable cable modem that was on the Xfinity approved list so I could bypass the $7/month cablemodem rental.  Things couldn't have gone further from what I expected.  The technician showed up two hours late and tried his hardest to get things running.  He was finally able to get phone service and Internet service up and running, but at the lowest most marginal level.  It turns out that he wasn't there to install TV service at all, since the house didn't have any internal wiring.  Comcast doesn't do internal wiring anymore, so their plan was to tack up RG6 on the exterior of our house.  They mentioned that we could hire a third party contractor to wire it up internally, but they couldn't recommend anyone.  I'm fairly annoyed at this point, but my phone works and the Internet is working, so it isn't awful yet.  Then the news turns awful.  The cable between my house and the street, which is underground, is bad.  They have to open up a work order to have it replaced.  7-10 days I am told.

In the meantime I wiggle around under the house and run cabling to the places that it needs to go.  Now that I've got the internal wiring, I make another trip to the Comcast store in Concord and pick up a HD DVR unit and a HD receiver to just have TV in the house until our "Whole House DVR" appointment in a few weeks.  I try activating both boxes using the Xfinity phone number.  The HD Receiver gets signal, but the quality is awful (the street cabling hasn't been fixed yet).  The HD DVR gets only audio after spending an hour on the phone with Xfinity.  After switching all the cables, it turns out that the DVR is bad.  I switch it out at the Livermore Comcast store, which I have a much better experience at.  I'm able to get the DVR activated.  A few hours later our phone and Internet stop working.

At this point I have a heated exchange with some Comcast phone support people.  It turns out that the Internet and phone were turned off since the ticket wasn't closed yet and the installation wasn't officially closed/done yet.  I get another team out the next day to close the ticket and finish the installation, but they tell me that they can't do anything yet since the street cabling hasn't been replaced yet.  They are able to do some magical stuff and get the Internet back on and the phone up and running.  They tell me that I won't be able to connect up the TV service because the signal level is too low after it is split.  

On the tenth day, a team comes out while I'm at work and blows out the cable to the street and puts a new one in.  I am very impressed they could do this without any cement work, as there is no conduit under the cement near our driveway.  I connect up the splitter and *BAM* everything works.  A few days later a technician comes and installs the Whole House DVR solution.  

At this point I am happy to have everything up and running.  The internet is super fast and the home telephone audio quality is great.  I'll give Comcast that, once you get the service up and running it is very solid.  The amount of time I have spent on this one project is pretty annoying.  I still have issues that need to be resolved, but I'll leave that for a follow up post.

To be continued...

Note: While initially annoyed, I was told by a Comcast employee that they do not do internal wiring anymore due to insurance issues.  They told me that an employee fell through the ceiling of a customer while doing wiring and was seriously injured.  If this is actually the case, I can understand why their insurance would no longer allow this.  

 

January 15, 2013

All quiet on the BLOG front

If you have been following my BLOG over the last few years, you haven't seen much posted lately.  I have been fairly busy over the past year and have neglected this blog in favor of Facebook for folks I know in person and Twitter for people I follow and have met over the Internet. 

In December 2012 we moved from Pleasanton, California to the next town over called Livermore.  We really needed more space for our expanding family, and Livermore was the best fit for us.  I'm going to miss being within walking distance of downtown Pleasanton, but alas a bigger house is a bit more pragmatic.  After accumulating a decade of stuff, I don't think I can move again until my boys are in college.  It is just too much work.

I have some interesting things to share with the world in regards to interactions I've had with various businesses over the last three months (both good and bad), specifically in regard to Comcast/Xfinity.  

 

July 09, 2011

Really?!?!

Okay, I totally get it: Living in a third world county doesn't have a lot of job development options

To the Nigerian Scammers that have been calling me on my cell phone, here are some critiques on your work.

  • There is something called a time zone.  Look it up on Wikipedia.  It totally exists.
  • We happen to be in different time zones.  You can generally find which time zone I reside in from the area code on the phone number you happen to be dialing.  Again, all that stuff is on Wikipedia.  That is all free.  You don't have to steal it.
  • When you call me at 3:00 in the morning, if you already woke up one of my children I am going to be mad.  If you wake up both of my children, I will scream at you.  This is a poor use of both our resources (my sleep and sanity time; your scamming time).  Look up opportunity cost on Wikipedia.

Link for the the rest of you if you start getting 234 country code calls:

  •  http://www.419scam.org/419-phone-ng.htm

Continue reading "Really?!?!" »

April 23, 2011

The land down under

I've been to Australia a few times and have quite an affection for the country.  The people are friendly and the sun shines bright.  One of the ubiquitous things about Australia (or at least the parts I have traveled to) is the availability and love of VB, or Victoria Bitter.  In the United States you can get a few Australian beers, with Fosters being the prime example, but I had never seen VB until recently...

Two of my favorite Aussies. 

It turns out that a place called Cellar360 in San Francisco imports VB in limited quantities to the delight of  Australian Ex-pats and Austral-o-philes.  No, they don't ship.  No, they don't always have it in stock.  Yes, it is a bit spendy for beer (around $41 USD for a "slab" or a case of 24 "stubbies").   While they promote something called the VB Club, in which you reserve your beer in advance, you can always call to see if they have some in stock.   

a quarter slab 

One of the more amusing things about VB is that it isn't a bitter, but a lager.

Cheers, mate!

Links:

March 19, 2011

Cat + Sweater

Cats on the internet are funny.  Add a sweater and the hilarity ensues. 

Here is my cat Oprah wearing a sweater. Guffaw.

 

I took this photo using a Powershovel Blackbird, Fly camera.

February 28, 2011

Experiments with houshold chemicals

Over the last year I have been messing around with different types of film to see how they react.  I've played with Redscale film, which is regular color negative film that is flipped backwards in the 35mm canister,  so that the opposite side of the film is exposed.  You can get some really striking effects if you expose it right.  I have also experimented with Cross processing, in which you take slide film that is supposed to be processed as E-6 slide, but instead you process it in C-41 chemicals.  For that you get some really neat colors that pop out at you.  You can do the reverse, but it isn't as dramatic. 

 

(Photo Courtesy of ffunyman on Flickr)

I started reading on some of the Flickr forums about people who are "film destroyers", in which they use household chemicals to change the film emulsions to obtain interesting effects.  Some people also use heat to expedite the film aging process.  My first attempt was to bake some expired film for about a minute in the oven.  I followed instructions I found online, but the film canister became warped and unusable.  My second attempt at this was to drop a cheap color 35mm canister into a pyrex container with boiling water for a minute.  That film snapped half way through exposing it and I ended up with a fully ruined roll.  So I devised a plan to try messing with a four pack of cheap 35mm ISO 400 film that was purchased at Rite-Aid.  

With this four pack I tried four different substances to change the emulsion characteristics.

I got some interesting results.  I'm not sure if I will do it again soon, but it is worth the effort to experiment if you like to try new things with film.  You get interesting and random distortions, rainbow effects and very confused photolab operators at the drugstore.  For the time being I think my experiments might go as far as getting some Revolog film to play with (BTW that stuff looks AWESOME), as I'll have way less time on my hands with a new baby arriving next week.

Below are a few of the most interesting ones:

 

 

 

 

Be careful when messing around with household chemicals.  Some people use various forms of Chlorine Bleach and other caustic chemicals, so be safe when you are playing mad scientist!

Links:

 

June 02, 2010

When graphic designers have a laugh

C'mon guys?  PMI is too professional to have a goatse reference on their cover. 

 

I didn't put a link on purpose... 

If you don't know what I am talking about, I would refrain from using Google on the subject.  You have been warned. 

March 10, 2010

Garbage In, Garbage Out

With the economy being in the toilet these days, I have several friends and acquaintances who are looking for work due to one reason or another.  In the past I had suggested indeed.com to several folks due to the large group of job sites that it aggregates data from.  For that function, it seems to work quite well.  The thing that I found more interesting is the Free Salary Search that indeed.com promotes.  I'll sum up my results with a few images.  I put in some nonsense data to see what comes back and was quite amused. 

Indeed Silly Search #1
Indeed Silly Search #1 

And for the Grand Finale..  

 With the data and graphs it is clearly evident: Pimps earn 93% more than Playas.Indeed.com Silly Search #2

 

Links:

February 27, 2010

This is totally legit...

Going through my spam folder looking for a boarding notification, I ran across this email.  Will Nigeria ever be taken seriouslyFor those uninitiated in the world of internet scams, 419 is the Nigerian penal code reference for various types of fraud.  If there were some sort of gold medal in fraudulent activity that was somewhat humorous at times, Nigeria would win every year.  If for some reason, you have been taken in by a scam such as this, a great resource is the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is a US Government office that is a point of contact in resolving these sorts of issues.  This is certainly not a new phenomenon, but almost a welcome change from all the v1agra spam.

From Federal Bureau Of Investigation Sun Feb 14 11:02:04 2010
From:        
"Federal Bureau Of Investigation"<robert@fbi.gov.us> 
Subject:         ***Mail From The FBI
Anti-Terrorist and International Fraud Division
Federal Bureau Of Investigation.
Seattle, Washington.
Telephone/Fax Number: (206) 426-2866

Attn: Beneficiary

This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly completed an Investigation with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you legally won the sum of $850,000.00 US Dollars from a Lottery Company in the United Kingdom. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be authentic and paid to you via a Certified Cashier's Check. Normally, it will take up to 10 business days for an International Check to be cashed by your local bank. We have successfully come to an agreement this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank within the United States Of America so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $850,000.00  US Dollars has been deposited with Bank Of America.

We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the entire transaction to be Legitimate, Safe and 100% risk free of scams and frauds of any nature, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited at Bank Of America you will be required to settle the following bills directly to the lottery claims agent in-charge of this transaction whom is located at the liaison office of the Lottery Company in Seattle-Washington. According to our discoveries, you are required to pay for the following:

(1) Deposit Fee's (Fee's paid by the lottery company for the deposit into an American Bank which is - Bank of America)
(2) Cashier's Check Conversion Fee (Fee for converting the Wire Transfer payment into a Certified Cashier's Check)
(3) Shipping Fee's (This is the charge for shipping the Cashier's Check to your nominated destination)

The total amount for everything is $299.99 (Two Hundred & Ninety Nine United States Dollars & Ninety Nine Cents). We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $299.99 should be deducted from your winning prize but the funds have already been deposited at The Bank of America and cannot be accessed by anyone apart from you the winner. Therefore you will be required to pay the needed funds to your lotto claims Agent in-charge of this transaction via Western Union Money Transfer Or Money Gram. The payment will NOT reflect at the Bank of America with the given transaction code(EA2948-910) until you have covered the processing fees needed.
In order to proceed with this transaction, Click Here (lmj@gala.net) to contact your claims agent Mrs. Louise Major .You will be required to call her for verbal verification and e-mail her with the following informations:

FULL NAME:
FULL MAILING ADDRESS(INCLUDING CITY/STATE/ZIPCODE):
AGE/SEX/OCCUPATION:
CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS(CELL & HOME):

You will also be required to request Western Union details on how to send the required $299.99 in order to immediately ship your prize of $850,000.00 US Dollars via Certified Cashier's Check drawn from The Bank of America, Also include the following transaction code in order for her to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-910. This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $299.99 ONLY to your claims agent via the information in which she shall send to you upon your request, if you do not receive your winning prize of $850,000.00 US Dollars we shall be held responsible for the loss and this shall invite a penalty of $3,000 which will be made PAYABLE ONLY by you (The Winner).


Robert Mueller
Federal Bureau Of Investigation

 

 

419 scam

(Photo courtesy of Dan Mogford on Flickr)

Open the extended posting for the full text.  Some hostname and ip addresses have been removed to protect the innocent.

Links:

Continue reading "This is totally legit..." »

February 02, 2010

Domain Parking Tickets

While domain parking is a popular method of generating income, sometime the results can be really foul.  The way this domain has been used is fairly distasteful.  However you weigh in on this whole situation, I think either side would be fairly disgusted.

 

 

 

 

November 03, 2009

Customer Service?

Over the past year I have been thinking a lot about customer service, or the lack of it with many organizations.  You wait on the phone, usually wasting your time, to get the status of when your cable TV will be back online.  You wait to get a return e-mail with an RMS number so you can send defective crap back.  You get the idea, there is a lot of wasted time.  I was becoming accustomed to this until we started dealing with baby product vendors.  You see, they have to deal with a a difficult market, that of mothers that don't have time for some company's crappy excuses.  Bad service results in a lot of bad word of mouth. 

(Photo Courtesy of Monstro on Flickr)

The first experience that I had was with Medela, who manufactures lactation supplies.  We had an issue with a pump, called their 800 number and expected the worst.  They dealt with these frustrated parents and fixed this situation right away by sending out replacement parts via priority mail.  They didn't even ask for a serial number, proof of purchase, or anything other than our name and address.  We've had similar experiences with products from Graco, in which they didn't bother to argue on the phone, they just sent our replacement parts or a completely new unit.

I could get used to service like this...  The only service that I have seen like this is the Targus lifetime warranty on some of their computer bags.  My sad computer bag had seen seven years of service in six countries and 9 states.  Wear, tear and rips abounded, but they still sent me a completely free replacement bag.

September 06, 2009

Bureaucracy for fun and profit

Who doesn't enjoy tomfoolery in the workplace on occasion.  For official looking memos and standard forms, check out the Bureau of Communication website.  It is sort of like Mad Libs for Bureaucratic Communications.  They have a lot of great wacky forms.  Hours of fun.

 

 

Link:


August 12, 2009

Cleaning up after the GeekSquad

The best part of being the resident IT person in a family, is that at every family event and trip you get to evaluate and fix people's problems.  While you can slice through the sarcasm in that sentence with a knife, I really don't mind all that much, as I don't want my family's identities to become stolen, and to be fair they do and have done some amazing things for me (take care or our son, took care of me for my first 18 years, and well... gave birth to me).  Apparently they didn't enbiggen my ability to not write run-on sentences.

My in-laws recently moved from the third world ghetto of marginal 21.6kbps dial-up to the first world suburbs of fast cable modem broadband with one of those triple play packages.  Their local provider is Comcast, who I dislike greatly from past encounters, but was I was willing to have an open mind due to their high speed connectivity.

When I plopped down in front of the computer, the first thing I noticed was that it was incredibly slow.  Without going into the back story, Comcast contracted out with the GeekSquad to install their service.  The GeekSquad proceeded to connect an unpatched WindowsXP home system directly to an Internet connection that was not firewalled and on a public IP address.  While this is fairly negligent, this is where BestBuy/Geeksquad really missed out.  They could have easily sold them a broadband firewall and another gig of RAM.  But instead it falls on me to go install a hardware firewall and pull a bunch of rootkits off their machine.  What a missed marketing and sales opportunity.

August 03, 2009

Sign generation was never so fun

As many people know, I find downtown San Francisco very amusingFrank Chu, the perpetual protester is a big part of the fun.  A while back, Jef Poskanzer designed a web page that would take a creative commons licensed Frank Chu photo from Flickr and superimpose your own words on his 12 Galaxies protest sign.  Genius.  Now, even if you are 3000 miles away, you can be part of the fun.  While you are at the ACME site, you might also try out some of the other great image manipulation pages including: Labelmaker, License Plate Maker and Heart Maker.

 

 Links:

 

April 18, 2009

Ye Olde LOLcat

Pointed out by an astute poster, this relic is one of the oldest LOLcats on file.

 

Source:

April 06, 2009

Crazy?

I was sitting at SFO waiting for a flight (and trying to find a working power outlet in the International Terminal), and ran across this old cartoon.  So there is a 66% chance I am crazy. 

 

Link:

February 19, 2009

Fun with cats

The world famous "Kitty Go Round" is actually located at our home. Mr. F is demonstrating how fun this home office/amusement park for felines really is. These are the things that we do to amuse out infant and get him to stop crying. This time, mission accomplished!

December 31, 2008

A Facebook Intervention

I was recently logged in to Facebook, reconnecting with old chums and such, and the same advertisement kept coming up over and over.  Is Facebook trying to tell me I have a gambling problem?  OMG, I totally lost like $20 on the penny slots last time I was in Vegas, I must have a problem.  I even hit the thumbs down targeted advertising thingy and it still comes up.  While this isn't in the same realm as the "Tivo Thinks I'm Gay" issue, but it is still perplexing nonetheless.  I'm giving up Keno cold turkey until I can resolve this.

Tivo thinks I'm gay, and Facebook thinks I am a gamble-holic 

 

 

November 21, 2008

Goodbye Ted

In the coming months we are going to bid a farewell to Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens. Whether you lean to the left or right, Ted will always be remembered as the guy who described the Internet as a "Series of Tubes", thus confusing the elderly and computer illiterate to a greater extent.  Ted, you stand with The Great Internet Creator and beard aficionado, you know, Al Gore as one of the top Internet Meme creators.  Hats off to you!

 Ted Stevens ruling the internet from his electronic tube throne

October 17, 2008

Spelling Errors

When I was in my first year of college I was working part time at a defense firm that would end up shaping my career.  When you are young and new to a group, you take things at face value and assume that intelligence is at play.  At least I did.  Anyways...

One of the contracts the firm was working on had to do with a software package called costumer.  I took it at face value, but wondered if it was some secretive government codeword, or some elaborate project name to mask the identity of the end user.  About six months into my employment I asked about the program name and learned the humorous truth.  A young programmer was told to generate an executable file for their customer.  Being literal, yet spelling impaired, the programmer generated costumer.exe.  Once it was delivered, it was set in stone.  It wasn't a spelling error, but a well thought out program name. 

 

(Photo courtesy of locket479 on Flickr)

I wouldn't be suprised one bit if the legacy of this lives on.  I recently ran into a current version of software that was generated at that firm (which is defunct now), that is still in use today after almost two decades.  I wonder if they see the sad jokes are still built into the source code [i.e. using the variable willy, so that you can free(willy)].

July 20, 2008

Cabling mishaps

For anyone that has been involved with telecom wiring projects knows that so many things can go wrong.  I'm just happy that I've never ended up with a project that ended up this bad...


 

July 19, 2008

This guy always makes me laugh

Every once in a while when I feel down, I'll go to my bookmarks and find the video of the creepy laughing German midget.  Call me strange, but it always makes me smile.


July 17, 2008

Downtown San Francisco, always amusing.

If you get the chance to visit downtown San Francisco, you never know what you are going to see.  While there are panhandlers and sometimes the sidewalks reek of urine, you also have some really interesting folks that completely make up for it.  One of those folks is Frank Chu.  I would put Frank up there with Emperor Norton in regards to the people who represent the wacky soul of the city.

Where else would you find someone protesting the injustices of the 12 Galaxies shaking hands with a man dressed as a pirate with fake buttocks attached to his shorts?  Nowhere else...

(Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr)  

July 16, 2008

Freedom of speech is worth protecting

Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last ten years, you have probably heard of Craig's List.  For some people it is a great place to find garage sales, for others they find apartments or jobs.  There are other parts of the site that are meant for adults, and will most likely find you catching a "social disease".  Beyond all this is the most amusing a maddening thing of all, the rants & raves section of Craig's List.  Here people write the most foul, disturbing and sometimes amazing content, all under the cloak of anonymity.  I'm a big fan of our Constitutional rights in the United States, but sometimes is can be saddening to see how people abuse our right of free speech with this kind of amazing content.

 

An example of the fine content available, with a search for the word "crap" returning 84 hits on postings in the last week.

 

 Out of those 84 hits, I picked one of the least offensive posts, one about a famous TV psychic.

If you weed out the racially, culturally, genderally, politically, and any other offensive "ally" word, you end up with some posts that are sometimes incredibly witty, insightful and amusing.  The best of these posts end up in what is called "The Best of Craig's List" where these can live on forever.

July 10, 2008

The only insulted party here is the monkey.

The wonderful thing about free speech in America is that everyone has the right to share their opinion, however uninformed or silly it may be. I took a snapshot of this billboard coming back down Highway 5 in Oregon after visiting my parents up there. 

 

 

 

July 08, 2008

If you don't understand, you are the other 10%

A former colleague of mine had a twist on the Pareto Principle (otherwise known as the 80/20 rule) which he called the "ten percenters".  In the IT world, I have found this (henceforth to be referenced as the TASH Principle) to be somewhat true, that 90% of your time is spent placating the most vocal 10% of the end user population.  The inverse to this is that work done the other 10% of the time to service the other 90% of the population will account for 100% of your progress towards any organizational recognition if effort.  This 10% of the end user population is the same group that causes people in help desk or desktop support IT jobs to go slowly insane.

 

The TASH Principle 

June 18, 2008

Avant Garde Humor

Everyone has their guilty pleasures.  One of mine is Tom Green's movie Freddy Got Fingered
This movie is foul, rude, obscene and so many other adjectives.  Green overtly tries to push the limits way beyond what is comfortable.  How absurd the situations are make this spectacle transcends simple poop and weiner humor and takes it to a new level of pure art.  What Green is trying to express through his "art", I have no idea.   Does it take a Canadian for us to explain freedom of speech and expression to Americans?  Okay, I'm not really that serious...

Roger Ebert wrote this about the movie:

"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."

 Daddy can I have some sausages

 

To have that kind of reaction from a film luminary, Tom must be some sort of genius.  Maybe that might be stretching things, but he still makes me laugh.  I hope I can do something in my life that will garner such a spirited reaction.

If you enjoyed this movie, you might also enjoy a Colon Pal

May 16, 2008

So easy, even a CAVEman could do it

I was talking with a friend about NIMBYism out in the various 'burbs that we live in.  While Not In My BackYard is a pretty common term, my friend sent me a link to an article that had more terms that I ever imagined.  Ric Stephens is an urban planner in Portland, Oregon that also happens to be a blogger.  His listing of terms is very amusing and  available here:

Here are my favorites:

  • CAVEman: Citizen against virtually everything.
  • BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything
  • DUDE: Developer Under Delusions of Entitlement

 

May 14, 2008

Blazin'

In the Internet world of humor memes, Denny "Blazin" Hazen stands alone.  He possesses the duality of being laughed at and with at the same time.  He was recently showcased at ROLFcon, but he's been blazin' the internet scene for years.  His rap stylings are in some ways amusing.

 

While Denny has had more than his 15 minutes of fame, I don't see this lad going away any time soon.  I don't know why I refer to him as a lad, as he's probably several years my senior, but using that word is somewhat comforting.  I'm going to type a few sentences here and most likely make no sense.  Blah Blah Blah.  Is anyone reading this?  Probably not.  Anyways...  Denny's music and antics have lightened the mood in the office during some stressful times.  His music is somewhat like Christian Rap, but without Jesus and quality, with all the humor remaining as a fortified super-concentrated nugget.

 

May 02, 2008

Web 2.0 troubles; Tangible memories of 1.0

The dot-com 1.0 meltdown was awful, and I hope that when the 2.0 bubble bursts, people are able to find new employment and stability in the valley.  Thinking about all this impending doom and gloom about a 2.0 burst, I've transported my mind back to an easier and simpler time, the year 2000.  It was already a few months in and guess what, no nuclear holocaust, no flickering electrical grid, no contaminated water, and just a few hundred thousand personal web pages that were computing that it was 1900.  Not so bad, eh?

The 1.0 company that holds a place in my heart forever is WebVan.  Officially it could be acceptable as a time management  tool for the busy professional, but truly it was an enabling tool for the chronically lazy.  I'll paint a scenario for you. I'd schedule a late evening delivery with my groceries for the week.  I'd get home from work at about 6:30, get a knock on the door from the cheery WebVan driver at about 6:45, and at 7:00 my groceries were put away.  I was in a magnificent cucoon in my Sunnyvale apartment.  Far from the hurried crowds at the Albertsons, far from the cries of babies and the chatter of soccer moms.  The produce was top notch and well picked.  Did I mention that they delivered beer as well?




I know that Safeway does this type of delivery service in my neighborhood now, but I'm in a different place in my life.  I want to go out and experience my surroundings.  I want to hear the chatter or my neighbors and their kids as they melt down in aisle 7 over a box of pop tarts they aren't allowed to have.  Life outside the consumption cucoon is so much more rewarding, and sometimes very amusing.

 

April 11, 2008

Choose your advertisers wisely

I was online tonight and ran across a link to the winner of the Miss USA 2008 pageant.  I don't usually track these events, but due to the recent follies, I thought I'd check out the link.

 

What I found was somewhat amusing.  The lesson here is that you need to choose your advertisers wisely....  LOL

 LOL

 

April 06, 2008

R.I.P. Chuck Heston

Some may remember Charlton Heston as Moses, Ben-Hur or as a crazy gun lover.

 
In my eyes he will always be a protector of the human spirit.  For me, I will always remember him as George Taylor, Astronaut.

 

There were never more fitting words:

"I hate every ape I see
From chimpan-a to chimpan-zee
No, you'll never make a monkey out of me

Oh my God, I was wrong
It was Earth all along"

Rest In Peace, Chuck.  

Yahoo News Story Here.

March 25, 2008

Radioactive Cats

One of my co-workers came across pictures of my cat on the Internet.  I'm glad that someone else could get a laugh out of it.

Ely 

I found this amusing, as I put this in a public folder, but didn't plan on people blogging it.

On a not-so-amusing note, our third cat had to go through the Iodine-131 treatment for hyperthyroidism.  Ka-Ching $$$.  Oh, and BTW Ely will steal your soul.  And if you are wondering why this picture was made, it was to thank Dr. Charlotte Sugar for taking such good care of Ely while he was in quarantine.

:)

http://www.mwdaily.net/2007/11/ely-will-eat-your-soul.html

March 24, 2008

Zillow = My Monday buzzkill

One of the worst things you can do on a beautiful almost-spring Monday morning is look up your housing value on Zillow.  The same site that made everyone giddy as a schoolgirl when the market was sky high, now documents the titanic dump that the real estate market is taking.  As I crawl into the corner and crawl into the fetal position, I keep chanting "I'm in for the long haul, I'm in for the long haul."

Housing Market Implosion 

I feel for the people in Stockton.  Economics stops being theoretical and becomes very personal when you start hearing about people losing their homes by the hundreds... 

March 19, 2008

My father-in-law is a badass.

I'm lucky to have a great Father-in-law.  He also happens to be pretty badass.

Nothing like a nail from a compressor driven nail gun shooting through your finger to ruin your day.  After a few minutes with some pliers and some hydrogen peroxide he was back to work.   

Oh, and I forgot to mention that he eats broken glass, drinks gasoline, and picks his teeth with strike anywhere matches. 

March 07, 2008

100BaseFire

I'm sure many of you have seen the infamous Etherkiller on the web, as it was passed around eons ago.  I still am amused by people hooking live 110 Volt AC up to data circuits, as long as it isn't my equipment.

A quote from the site:

"It all started one day with this guy, the origional Etherkiller, developed with a few misc parts to warn new users that the IT department is not to be messed with. You too can make one at home, connect the transmit pins of the RJ-45 to HOT on 110VAC and the recieve pins to Common. Modify to suit case by varying pinout."

W00T! For the young ones, you might want to reference The Bastard Operator From Hell, to find out why some maladjusted lads enter the IT workforce in the first place.

False Alarm

This morning I was minding my own business when I received an e-mail from my firewall stating that:

From: firewall@teh.internet.tubes
To: alerter@chickenpotpieacousticsystems.net
Subject: NetScreen Mail Alert

Alarm Logs Reported From: homefirewall
Event Alarms:
   1. 2008-03-06 07:46:15 system-alert-00008:  IP Spoof, From 86.117xx.xx/1031 to 205.181.yy.yy/2746, protocol UDP (i/f trust) occurred 2 times

I'm thinking to myself, "oh crap, I've got malware", or even worse, "oh crap, I've got a misconfigured intruder".  I'm quite used to folks on the the internet trying to portscan my network, but traffic originating on my home network is a whole different game.

I calm down for a second and search for the netblock owner of the IP address range.  I calm down even more, as it turns out to be my wife's laptop VPN trying to connect and pass traffic back to the corporate office in Switzerland at the same time.  I am quite calm now, and sip my delicious Nespresso.  All is good in the world once again.

DVR != TiVo

 

Several months ago my DirectTivo finally gave up the ghost.  Beyond a hard drive crash, the MPEG decoder board was starting to go wacky several weeks before the final and bloody death.  I called DirectTV to see if I could get a replacement and I was told that the Tivo units were now legacy and that I would have to use their new DVR unit if I wanted a replacement.  Being an open minded lad, I decided to give it a try.  After the first week, we were beamed a software upgrade that made the DirectTV.  While the R15 unit we have at home only crashes about once every 4 to 6 weeks now, the scheduler absolutely sucks.  I am not an expert in regards to what patents that Tivo holds in the DVR product space, but it didn't patent the fact of a DVR working correctly.

Originally I chose DirectTV as my television provider.  1.) They had an exclusive on Tivo technology 2.) I hate Comcast Cable.  My wife can attest that I have a healthy dislike for Comcast, but that is fodder for another post. 

At this point in time I am very dissatisfied with my service, but I'm locked in for another 18 months or so.   Without the Tivo angle, television is a commodity and I might as well shop around the other satellite providers or even the local cable tv provider (*gasp*, yes that is how much I hate this DVR).  Or I might end up having to go to MythTV or some other system like that, but I don't want to explain another system to houseguests.

Rupert Murdoch, stop the insanity!  That other DVR company you bought really sucks, please don't force that crap down our throat.  Just be done with it and buy Tivo.  At least the DirectTivo units ran Linux on them, and a geek could feel good about watching TV on something that Linus Torvalds had indirectly touched.  If Dish network had Tivo built in to their receivers I'd be on the phone with them this second...   

Lesson Learned.  I should have googled for this crapbox before I signed up for it:

engadget.com 

weaknees blog 

March 03, 2008

Cat Shaving, Fun for the whole family

As summer approaches, it is time to think about cleaning and sharpening the clippers.  Clippers, you say?  Yes, it is almost time for the annual cat shaving.  Being that I have allergies, and Ely doesn't groom himself that well, we opt for the most direct route to hygeine...

 

 Here is the link.

No animals were harmed in the making of this video, or generally in our household.

Note: Hello to our friends at Microsoft Live Operations! 

February 29, 2008

Best Business Card Ever

One of the things that I miss the most about the television show Arrested Development is the character Dr. Tobias Fünke, played by David Cross.  With this character's nevernude condition and painfully gay double entendre, there are a ton of running jokes.  The best of which has to do with his groundbreaking work as a Psycho Analyst/Therapist and the inappropriate custom portmanteau he creates to describe his work.

 

God bless these people if they actually make a movie. 

Continue reading "Best Business Card Ever" »

February 28, 2008

Flatulence. The Internet. Demographics.

I was recently looking through the logs to this web server, as I was bored at the time, and ran across the page that continues to get the most hits.  When I was a freshman in college I ran across a text file that described in detail the chemical reactions that cause flatulence.  Being amused with the serious treatment of something so silly, I converted it to html and put it on the web. 

If you want to check it out, here it is:

THE FACTS ABOUT FLATULENCE - by Margaret C. McDonald 

This leads me to believe that the theory that I came upon in sixth grade is actually a law.

FART = FUNNY 

Seriously, ask any man or boy in the key demographics of 1-18 and 18-35 and you will find this to be fact.  I am sure that there are rules, specific limiting factors, and other constraints to which this is true, but I'll leave that for the internet to figure out.

Attached is a fake graph of these demographics, which proves my point.  This is the internet, I don't need proof.  Trust my numbers, even if they are completely fabricated.  You will find a resurgence in flatus humor in retirement.

 

 

February 27, 2008

Beep Boop Beep Boop, yeah that is music...

 

If you watch the television show Lost, you may have really dug how Charlie used the Beach Boys' song Good Vibrations to do some things that I won't spoil for you.  It turns out that there is a web site that has a listing of various DTMF songs for your listening pleasure.  If you are stuck in a phone booth, jail cell or cubicle without any form of entertainment, this might be something better than twiddling your thumbs.  Another version of the website is available here.

The best tip from the fist site is that you can play Funkytown with the sequence: 55754 45085

 

February 06, 2008

FAIL!

Many people are already aquianted with Despair, Inc.'s de-motivational posters.  You may have seen them in some random geeks office or online.

cat 

They are now providing a much needed service of allowing you to create mini de-motiviational posters in JPEG from.  Their website is here: http://diy.despair.com/motivator.php 

Huzzah! 

Thank you to JD the cat for posing. 

Continue reading "FAIL!" »

January 30, 2008

Mountain Dew and expanded consciousness

Many people have asked me about my love of the soft drink Mountain Dew.  OK, it was really only my wife asking.  Everyone knows that Mountain Dew is a tasty green elixir that is up there with Slurm when it comes to how addictive it is.  When I was an undergraduate at Chico State, I often drank several cans or bottles of it to assist in my studying.  Yes, I actually put Chico State and studying in the same sentence.  I digress.  A few months after I finished my degree, I was working for a company called Signal Science in Santa Clara and ran an all nighter on a project I was behind on.  The attached picture is what I personally drank in a 12 hour period.  When I think about (1) the caloric intake in sugar alone (2) the damage to my kidney function, it makes me shudder.  These days I stick to the Diet Dew.

12 Hours of Mountain Dew Drinking

From the Pepsico website I calculate that over a 12 hour period that I consumed (32cans x 170 calories) 2040 calories in sugar.  The follies of youth.  During my college years I actually put together a website chronicling my love of the stuff, but unfortunately that host is now offline.

 

 

First Post

Look at me, I'm a blogger now.  Where do I get my union paperwork and press pass???