Saturday, October 16, 2010
Last year, we had a membership with our game plan. However, other than the one bartender, the Cadillac Grille sucked. Their food was only slightly above cafeteria-grade (and, we're talking public school cafeteria, here). Their service was "meh", at best. Their prices were through the roof ...and that's not even including that you had to pay the equivalent of a $50/day cover-charge just to get access to this chronic disappointment.
Oh well, at least it wasn't out of character with the way the team played, tonight: horribly.
It seemed, for quite a while, that this prevented them from running their cash-collection scheme. Hadn't seen the camera cars in months (or the brakelight evidence of their presence). But, clearly, with
No, they didn't flag me. I noticed brake lights and a white flash (apparently, someone didn't notice soon enough). I'm so glad to see that "public safety" is being restored.
Soon, I wake up to this awful, burning smell. It smells kind of like a toaster melting, but worse. I notice that Donna's not in bed next to me. So, I head down the stairs to try to figure out why the house smells so utterly vile.
Donna's furiously cleaning up. I ask, "what the hell's that burning smell," only to be informed that she forgot to add water to her oatmeal before putting it in the microwave. Apparently, microwaving dry oatmeal is a good way to cause it to fill the house full of a plasticy, toastey stench.
This was nearly two hours ago, now.
After having determined that, "no, the house isn't burning down," I head back upstairs. Attempts at sleep are futile in the presence of such a smell. So, I hop in the shower. And, through the steam and soap smell, there's the background smell of burnt oatmeal.
As I sit here typing, there's the smell of burnt oatmeal.
When we get back from the hockey game, tonight, I'm sure there'll be the lingering smell of burnt oatmeal.
I'm even, kind of, afraid that, when I get up tomorrow, there'll be the faint stench of burnt oatmeal in the house.
How the hell does that even happen. It's like something out of one of those domestic-disaster episodes of some 60s sitcom.
Friday, October 15, 2010
So... Apple has FaceTime for their devices. Skype has long had video chat built in. Google's chat's had video capability for a while, now, as have several of the other "legacy" instant messaging platforms. There's other video chat apps out there, too. As far as I know, none of them interoperates with any others.
Previously, when we had this situation with text-based instant messaging, you had to use a tool like Trillian, Gaim, Adium, etc., if you wanted to talk to all your friends and only have to have one piece of software running on your computer. None of these multi-protocol tools was perfect, but it was better than chewing up all your system resources just running chat applications (or, simply not talking to certain people because they weren't in your network).
Video's previously been kind of a fringe thing. But, it's getting pushed, hard, now. Cell phone makers are starting to tout having two cameras (and advertising it in the context of video chat). Companies like FaceBook are teaming up with companies like Skype to gain video capabilities. Video's a lot heavier a resource consumer than text chats are - even just at idle - and that's even if they're coded well. I remember, when I traveled to Germany, last year, that Skype had a huge memory leak. It would end up crippling my Mac if I left it running for any length of time. Even with my current laptop's 8GB of RAM, I can't imagine running more than one system-eating video application, just so I can talk to everyone who might want to video chat. I can't imagine that a Trillian-like tool will be able to run efficiently, if the underlying technologies it's trying to bridge suck. And, unlike with instant messaging where your "reduced experience" might mean your emoticons don't quite show up correctly on your friend's computer. Big deal. With video, I gotta think that "reduced experience" may equate to "unusable," or, at the very least, "painful".
It seems that Internet-related technology penetration is reaching a threshold where we need to start thinking vendor-neutral at the core of new communication tools. Otherwise, it's going to reach a state where (using an older tech for comparison), you can't talk to someone because you don't have the right kind of phone; won't be able to watch broadcast TV because you don't have the right kind of TV. If we're going to debate things like "network neutrality", we gotta start thinking about making it so that all new communications technologies are "open" (even if doing so requires the gun-point of legislation to ensure).
And, for the record, I don't really want generalized video chat. To me, it has its uses, but not really as an every-day kind of tool. It was great to have when work separated me from my wife for days at a time, but I wouldn't have used it "just to chat" with someone I can see every day. I don't even like video conference calls. I don't want to have to worry about how I or my surroundings look every time the damned "vid" rings. But, if I'm going to be forced down this path, I don't want to have closed communication technologies forcing me to choose who I can talk to.
And, yes, my gamer girl comes in a size other than "really, really big boned". Even more, if she were to dress up and go to a con, she'd not have to make many adjustments to "to accomodate the difference between ... online avatar and reality."
My phone rings and I pick it up to hear the background noise I normally associate with a telemarketing call center. I wait for the guy to speak so that I can point out that all of my phone numbers are on the Do Not Call list. A guy comes on the line and identifies himself as a recruiter and asks "are you still looking for a job?"
I inform him, as I inform most "recruiters", that "I'm currently employed but always willing to listen to interesting propositions". So, he starts his spiel. Apparently, Verizon is looking for FiOS sales reps. I go to cut him off saying that I'm not really looking for that kind of gig (as I'm pretty sure that the numbers they'd be looking to offer would have been less than half of what I'm making now). So, he changes tacks, and starts asking me questions, but also wants to let me know that the call's being recorded for training purposes. I cut in, again, to let him know that I've no interest and hang up.
Calls like this always make me wonder what the rationale behind them is. For starters, if, as the caller had stated, they had my resume, they'd probably already know that I would have little interest in the type of position they were recruiting for. Second, "recruiting" while using the kind of tactics normally used by telemarketers and used car salesmen isn't likely to get a good response from anyone that you'd actually want to hire (for something more than high-churn, low candidate quality positions).
So, again, WTF?
At this point, it seems that sandwich programming risks more than it rewards. I mean, if I flip away from your station to get away from a bad program, it gives me the opportunity to notice that, not only is the show I'm watching its place better, but I might find something I like more in the next time slot. Tossing that weakling out in front of the next strong program might make it so I stop watching that strong program (or, just as bad, record that program and skip all the commercials).
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I gotta think that the "free" game services really suck. It doesn't cost someone anything if they do shit that eventually gets them banned. They can open up as many phantom accounts as they want. The bar to cheating or otherwise being a shit is a lot lower.
At the end of the day, though, there'll always be people that get their jollies being total tools. But, maybe if it cost more, less of them would be out there.
Unfortunately, being living things, they each get gas. And, when you find yourself mobbed by pets, sometimes, you find yourself inundated by gas from multiple animals. Not that it really matters - other than who to try to give yourself some distance from - but sometimes, it's difficult to tell who just destroyed your nose.
Speaking of The View, do we really need another cackling-hens show? Is there a real need for CBS's The Talk? It seems like that show will be redundant and derivative, at best.
Also: if I remove an artist from my library, please don't suggest them to me after that. I mean, if I bothered to remove them from my library, it's because I don't like them. It really doesn't matter how many other artists in my library you consider them to be similar to, if I don't like them, you ain't changing my mind (so stop trying).
Overall, I don't want my library and preferences to be polluted.
So, this is the part that people hate about social media: updates about stupid thing. Today, the stupid minutiae will be "what I had for breakfast".
As I've indicated before, we're big into the fresh/slow/organic food thing. Well, Donna is, I'm just sorta along for the ride.
This morning's breakfast was an average kind of breakfast: scrambled eggs with peanutbutter and jelly toast.
The eggs: We don't have chickens of our own - though Donna periodically lobbies to change that - so the eggs are externally-sourced. This morning's eggs were from one of the local farmers that sells at one of the markets we regular hit. They were just your basic, brown "organic" eggs. However, I spiced them up a bit: I chopped in some chili-peppers grown in the front bed (that I'd picked the other day) and some onions picked last month (Donna grows onions and garlic between our rose bushes - apparently helps keep the weeds at bay). I mixed in some sea salt and mixed, fresh-ground pepper and some mustard bought at the local German market. I also like to mix milk in with the eggs, as it makes them a bit fluffier when scrambled. The milk was from a local bottler and bought at the Whole Foods on Duke Street (in the Old Town section of Alexandria). I then topped them with some of the ketchup Donna had made in the annual tomato-processing run. So, was pretty zesty and the homemade ketchup gave it a nice, bright, tomatoey taste.
The toast: This was a bit more of a cheat. I still haven't fully weaned myself from the Jiff "extra crunchy" variety peanutbutter. That said, the jelly was a nice homemade jelly and the bread, itself, was some of Donna's homemade bread.
So, yeah, "mundane," but still mostly good for me.
I need a commercial auto-deleter. If I had one, I'd have it set to blot out those nofoodtaxes.com atrocities.
Now, why would his paws be so wet as to create this various phenomena? I point you to the picture, below:
|Drinking from IN the Dish|
Take a (not very) close look, and you'll see that he's standing in the dish to drink. This isn't an occasional thing; this is an allthegoddamnedtime thing. The only thing that really varies is whether he has just his right paw in or both paws in as he drinks.
You might notice Grumbles's very shiny, spotty coat. He's a Bengal. Bengals have very striking markings and are very shiny. Bengals also love water. Mine have been known to hop onto the edge of the tub, as I shower, if I fail to close the doors to keep them out. They also love to play in their water dishes. Before settling into the pose, above, they will frequently frolic in the water, first. Thus, we have to have a plastic mat under the dish. Because of how actively they frolic, a plastic mat simply isn't enough: we have to add a beach towel.
The towel has to be changed out every few days because of how much water gets slapped out onto it. Because of how frequently they have to be changed (and because of things like dog bathing), we have a collection of "pet towels".
Ah, pet ownership...
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Last night, as I sat tapping away at my laptop keyboard, the strains of a familiar, odious song began screeching from my TV. As a slow feeling of dread slimed its way over me, I realized what the tune was. It was the music from The Macarena.
Now, I find The Macarena to be a truly hateful piece of work. It's a pernicious earworm. And, if you actually listen to the lyrics, it's kind of a nasty song. So, when you see really whitebread people bopping around to it, it's a truly facepalm moment.
At any rate, the music wasn't quite right. Well, the tune was fine (as fine as such a tune can be) but the lyrics were all wrong. I looked up to see why this musical atrocity was emanating from my TV. Apparently, the advertisers for The Snuggie decided that The Macarena's tune would be a good one to support their commercial. However, they'd altered the lyrics to pimp out their Snuggies.
I'll admit, I have an irrational hatred for Snuggies. I could never really figure out why people would buy them. I mean, they look like someone took polar fleece and made backwards bathrobes out of them (kind of the bastard offspring of a cheap blanket and a hospital gown).
When I was younger, and it was appropriate, I wore bathrobes to cover up or keep warm. Bathrobes are great when you live in a college dorm and want to make the transit from your dorm room to your dorm floor's showers
For keeping warm in more sedentary settings, I use blankets or similar coverings. Hell, as I sit here, tapping away at my laptop, on a damp, chilly, raw day, I do so from under a nice quilt.
Snuggies just don't make sense. Get a bathrobe or get a quilt/blanket/duvet/etc. Don't turn a blanket into a robe. And, for gods' sake, don't turn it into a backwards robe. And, for the sake of humanity, don't pimp your wares with a hateful song.
Unfortunately, small businesses tend to leave the ownership too close to the problem. Often times, it's the owners who are doing the dirty work and making decisions. And, often times, these owners are doing work and making decisions on things that they're not the best equipped people out there for those tasks. Complicating it is that, because they've got so much invested, that they have a personal stake in things. So, when they make decisions or involve themselves in things they aren't the best suited for, they often don't make dispassionate decisions.
While, this, in itself doesn't have to be a problem, it often creates a case where, critiquing those decisions or actions is taken personally. Because they've invested not only their businesses but "themselves" in those decisions and/or actions, critiques of those decisions and/or actions are seen as criticisms of them. So, even if things are obviously horrible to people who don't have a stake in the decisions and/or actions, that message often can't be relayed to the ones who made those decisions or took those actions (at least, not without the whole "kill the messenger" result).
Friends and other well-meaning people often exacerbate these problems. Even if they can tell that there's a problem or flaw, they want to be supportive. So, rather than give the critique, they tell them "wow, that's great", even though it's far from great. This reinforces the decision maker's/action taker's view of the rightness of what they've done and makes them even more resistant to fixing the problems (after all, they don't see the problem and their friends are reinforcing that view).
God help you if you're the one that counters this world view. Often times, the only way you can deal with the situation is to walk away - either literally or metaphorically. In those cases, you can hope that enough people walk away that a message is sent (hopefully, not a fatal message, just enough for a wakeup call).
|Mr Herbert (Family Guy)|
Of course you don't: your campaign is sponsored by corporations that make huge bucks from government subsidies. Not sure how that's not "interference" though.
Fuck you, Oracle: you and what used to be Sun are dead to me. I do, however, want to thank you for showing me that Microsoft wasn't as evil as I once thought. Nothing like time and actions of others to give you perspective, eh?
To be honest, I was a little surprised to have gotten this. I mean, I thought that I'd deleted all of my accounts that I used to receive emails from Sun.Com from (and, really, I never gave Oracle permission to mail me at any of those addresses). Oh well, hopefully, this will be the last of it. Guess I need to see about setting up filters for those addresses that I can't simply delete.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
To start, your billing system for XBox Live membership renewas sucks. We're not just talking garden-variety suckage, either. We're talking completely broke-dick.
My current Live membership expires in early November (of this year). You, apparently, start working your renewal mojo three months ahead of the expiry. I started getting expiry notifications and "special" renewal offer emails in August.
In early September, I decided to accept the "$10 discount + Microsoft Points" renewal offer. I logged into my XBox billing portal, gave my credit card information and hit "Ok". Within a few minutes of hitting "Ok", I received a confirmation letter to the email account associated with my gamertag. I figured, "cool, that's out of the way".
At the beginning of October, I started getting more "your account expires in November" notifications. I forgot that I'd already done the renewal thing in September (well, to be more precise, I wasn't immediately, absolutely sure I had done it). So, I hit the "renew" button. This time, there was no special offer, just the normal $50/yr dunning. Again, after hitting "Ok", I received a confirmation email.
A week or so later, I got another "your account is expiring in November" notification. By this point, I was in serious "WTF" mode. So, I logged into my email account, verified that I'd actually received two confirmations of renewal. I then went to the XBox Live support web site to send my "WTF" inquiry.
A (business) day or so later, I received a response to my query. Apparently, they can't handle billing queries via the web/email response system. I was given a phone number and a service request number to use. Wanting to get this crap knocked out, I called the number, navigated the call tree and gave the CSR my service request number.
The conversation was very frustrating. The end result seems to be that I won't actually get billed till the expiry date and that I'll get billed the special offer rate (and that the second confirmed rate will not be billed/charged).Umm... "ok", I guess. This seems really broken. I mean, even if you aren't actually going to bill me till November, shouldn't you update your billing/notification system so that I stop getting expiration warning emails? Once one billing update order has been accepted - even if not charged - shouldn't future attempts to order subscription renewals produce a "your account is already set to renew" messages, rather than a new "confirmation" email?
I mean, other than wanting to have customers confused and vexed and having to call in and speak to a CSR, why would you run your renewals system this way? It's hopelessly stupid. And, what if I'd have used a credit card that expired after the transaction date but before the renewal date? Would you have flagged it (somehow, I'm thinking "no")?
Oh well, just more brain damage from Redmond, I suppose.
Annoyance #1: Making me chase links to get to teaser content. Biggest offenders (and current residents of my hosts file) 2leep.com, zaparena.com, outbrain.com, neatorama.com and wahoha.com. Others will likely follow as this seems to be an increasingly popular method for "driving traffic". Look, when I see an interesting-looking link on a web page, if I bother to click on that link, I want to immediately go to that story. I don't want to be taken to a page full of new links from which I then have to click on the link that takes me to the content I was originally interested in. I just want to get to that content. If you then exacerbate things by causing a new tab to open for each link I chase, it pisses me off further. If you get really obnoxious and cause entirely new windows to open, it makes me absolutely furious. It makes me want to find your servers and take a hatchet to them. Once done with them, I want to find you for similar treatment. Since this isn't exactly "practical", I just blackhole you.
Annoyance #2: Making every link (or even just a significant percentage) I click on open a new window or new tab. If I want a link to open a new tab or window, I'll right-click on the link and tell my browser to do it. You have no business forcing me to browse any differently than I want to. If you try to force me to browse differently, I'm gonna blackhole you. If I am a member of your web site and you've added this annoyance as "an improvement" to your site or through a site redesign, I will either immediately cancel or allow my membership to lapse (mostly, this will depend on whether I had a paid membership or not) - there are many ways to improve or redesign a site, fucking up navigation is not one of them.
Annoyance #3: Disabling or otherwise fucking up my right-click functionality. I get that you're trying to "protect content" or something, but disabling right-click doesn't do it. If you're sending something to my computer, there's any number of ways for me to "steal" it. Right-click is just the most convenient. Disabling right-clicks disables any number of functionality that I find useful - not just easily saving content. When you disable my right-click, you don't protect your content, you just inconvenience me. I really dislike being inconvenienced. I tend not to re-visit sites that inconvenience me.
Annoyance #4: Requiring plugins, especially uncommon ones, so that "designing" your site is easier for you. Trying to dictate to me which software (and associated security vulnerabilities) I have to run on my computer just so you can hire brain-dead site "designers" is not a sound business model. It alienates people. And, if you want to use these gee-whiz plugins, provide a least-common-denominator model for accessing your site. If your site isn't (meaningfully) usable without plugins, your site isn't usable. If a site ain't usable to me, I ain't gonna re-visit. And, again, if you introduce these issues as part of a "redesign", I will drop my membership in your site.
Annoyance #5: Using a site design that could have come from MySpace circa a decade ago. Keep your design clean, simple and easy to navigate. Use things like conformant CSS to achieve good design. Anyone can write HTML. It's really not that hard. All you need is notepad, vi or the like. And, because "anyone" can write HTML, it's really easy for it to look like you let someone who's read "HTML for Dummies" design your site. If I go to your site and it feels like a migraine, seizure or puke-session feel eminent, I'm not coming back. It's (sorta) ok for personal sites to look like amateur-hour, not professional or subscription-based sites. And, it's really not even ok for personal ones, given the number of sites out there like Blogger/BlogSpot that make it dead easy to create a site with canned-templates.
Annoyance #6: Using an obviously templated design. If I go to your site, the only way I want to know you're running a given set of software is by badging. I don't want to go to your site and say, "ah, they're using WordPress Template 'X' to run their site". I don't want to look at your site and be able to guess what you're running. If I can look at your site and make that guess (even if it's wrong), it means you aren't trying very hard. You aren't trying to create a specific experience. Learn enough CSS (etc.) to create your own, unique look.
Above all, if your site is subscription-based, there has to be something about it that makes it worthwhile. A site that looks amateurish, "canned" or otherwise "low-effort" makes it seem like you're more interested in my money than providing me a good experience. At the core, I know that's always the case, but you shouldn't be bald-faced about it.
Even the DC cops' driving sucks. In fact, I can't really recall the last time I saw a DC-plated car that I thought to myself, "now there's a driver who isn't a menace." No, most times I see a DC-plated car, I think to myself "why are those cars even allowed outside the DC city-line?"By PopEater Staff Posted Oct 12th 2010 07:01AM
In stunning video from MyFoxDC.com, a caravan of 'Transformers 3' vehicles were driving down 3rd Street and Maryland Ave. when, in the distance, a white police car entered the shot. When it reached the intersection, poor Bumblebee zoomed into the scene and smashed into the corner of the SUV.
It played out like a textbook car crash you see in hundreds of films, only this time it wasn't in the script.
According to police sources, the officer in the car was responding to a call about a suspicious package incident nearby. The unnamed officer was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. Thankfully, no bystanders were hurt, but it's unknown if the stunt driver was harmed.
Shooting of the film in D.C. has been postponed until further notice.
This isn't the first freak accident on the set of a 'Transformers' movie. In September, an extra named Gabriella Cedillo was seriously injured while driving her own car in a scene while a stunt vehicle drove in the opposite direction. A cable towing one of the stunt cars came loose and sliced through Cedillo's car window, striking her in the head.
Cedillo underwent surgery, but her lawyer says she is still unable to speak and is paralyzed on her left side. She is suing Paramount for more than $50,000.
As for other accidents, leading man Shia LeBeouf was nearly blinded by a prop while shooting 'Transformers 2.'
Director Michael Bay does not generally comment on accidents that happen on set.
Seriously, driving in the DC area sucks:
- You have the Maryland drivers who seem to think that the rule is left=slow and right=pass. If I'm on a four lane-wide stretch of empty highway and I'm sitting in the second lane from the right with two empty lanes to my left, the Maryland-plated driver will, invariably, pass me on my right side.
- You have the Virginia-plated drivers who've never heard of cruise-control and hold a grudge against you if you try to pass them. Either they speed up as you start to overtake, or, you end up passing/being passed a half dozen times, even though you've got your cruise-control anchored at SPEEDLIMIT+7.
- The DC-plated drivers... I can't even begin to typify them they're so horrible.
As much as I hate driving here, my hatred was only increased by having spent time driving in Germany. Germany shows you that driving doesn't have to be an exercise in frustration and death-avoidance. It shows that people can be aware of their environment. It shows that people can actually drive without jacking their jaws on their phones or, worse, texting as they drive. You don't see people applying makeup as they drive. You don't see people trying to shove a four-course meal into their pie-holes as they drive. Driving isn't something that you do as part of a multi-tasking feat.
Monday, October 11, 2010
God, what a freaking embarrassment. Your team's ownership and management needs to be sued for gross negligence or professional malpractice. WTF.
Sorry bout your team, Devils fans.
Verizon: you gotta figure out how to get NHL Center Ice to give you more feeds in HD. I mean, pretty much all the NHL local broadcasters are broadcasting the games in HD, any way, so...
Another unhappy customer