Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why Bother with a Stadium

The concept of the NHL's Winter Classic is kind of cool: have an NHL game out in the elements like the game was invented in and like most of it's players grew up in. Still, each year I watch the game, the venues they choose seem to be utterly pointless.

The surface of an NHL ice rink is small. The puck is small. Why do they insist on playing the game in a stadium where even the best seats are further away from the ice than the nosebleed seats in an NHL indoor arena? And why the fuck do people spend big money to sit out in winter weather to not be able to actually see the damned game?

Overall, I think the NHL and the teams would be just as well off to have the game played in some open field in Canada and not worry about having a live audience. The game's a showpiece game designed to get TV ratings. Why the farce of having a big, live audience?

Bad Choice of Title

So, there's apparently a new movie coming out, this month. They've been spamming the airwaves with adverts for Season of the Witch.

Now, I'm old enough to remember another movie that had "Season of the Witch" in it's title. It was, pretty much, the movie that killed the Halloween franchise (until Rob Zombie did a nice job of resurrecting it). Given the movie's name and that it's starring the ever-spotty Nicholas Cage, I can't see ponying up $14/person to go see it in the theatre. Maybe I'd have considered going if the title were different. But, really, that choice of title screams to me, "this movie sucks so hard we had to give it a title to let you know it before you got here."

Too Bully

In the image below is 42lbs of tough, waggly dog. This picture was taken while she was trying to use the "Doggy Mind Trick" to convince me that the pizza crust I had should be hers:



Sorry, dear, but such tricks don't work on me.


At 42lbs, this little beast is strong. Thus far, she's figured out how to break out of both of our dog crates. Initially, we'd thought she'd bashed her way out. Turns out, she's actually been yanking her way out. The second time she'd gotten out of one of the cages, the cage door was wedged inward. Couldn't figure that one out until today, when she noticed that she was being weird with her mouth. On investigation, there's a chip out of one of her lower fangs. Apparently, she chipped it while yanking the door in with her mouth.


Damned dog


Oh well: she's an appointment with the vet, Monday. Not looking forward to what doggy-dentistry is likely to cost.

Better Names for Shows

National Geographic Network has this show called "Locked Up Abroad." It's episode after episode showing how people ended up in foreign prisons. Invariably, as the stories unfold, you can't help but scream at the "victims" of the foreign incarcerations, "you fucking deserved it!" I mean, for starters, each of them got arrested for doing something illegal. And, we're not just talking illegal in the country they got arrested in, we're talking illegal in their home countries, as well. And, secondly, so many of the stories seem to feature episodes where things were going wrong, not according to plan or just otherwise left the arrestees with an uneasy feeling long before the cops come for them. Seriously: how stupid can you get. You fucking deserved to be locked up abroad. With the level of stupidity you've shown, you deserved to be locked up and neutered where you stand.

I really think that National Geographic should have just named the show "Stupid People Arrested". It would have been just as accurate as naming it "Locked Up Abroad" and it would really let people flipping through the channel guide know what was going on. Then again, they might have just thought it was NatGeo's version of "Cops".

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Slight Reflection

In general, I avoid saying things like "it can't possibly be worse" or "what could possible go wrong". Each (and their derivatives) is pretty much an invitation to the Universe to answer what you'd though were rhetorical questions.

2009 had been a pretty shitty year. The company I'd been working for, since they started operations in 2004, decided that the division I worked for was no longer worth the effort to maintain. Donna ended up in the hospital, for ten days, because of her digestive issues. I had my first seizure in nearly 20 years (and had it at work, no less!). My dad died just before Thanksgiving (apparently joining my Grandfather Ott in some kind of bizarre holiday tradition). So, the bar for 2010 to be better had been set pretty freaking low.

As we headed into the new year - 2010 - I felt glad to soon be shut of 2009. Unfortunately, I vocalized my feelings about the ending year and the coming year in what, in retrospect, may have been a carelessly challenging way to the Universe. While I didn't utter the words "it can't possibly be worse" or "it has to be better," I did say "2010 would have to try pretty hard to be worse than 2009 had been." Apparently the Universe heard me and said "close enough: I'll take that challenge".

In fairness 2010 wasn't awful, it was mostly vexing. On balance, it was probably better than 2009 had been. I mean, 2010 had death: specifically, the loss of our dog, Lana, at the beginning of December; and, tangentially-related, the death of my Dad's dog to a brain tumor. While I didn't have to change jobs, this year, I did have to put up with a lot of work-related stress. All the weight that I'd shed the prior two years (under different epilepsy medications) came back (under the medication I started in 2010). I still don't have my clearance sorted out - I've been in some kind of bureaucratic purgatory - but I have at least been able to do a couple things of worth (at least to those who pay me). And, Donna and I were able to end the year with a wonderful Caribbean Cruise.

Still, the death of our dog cast a pall over things. I'm a little less than a month shy of my 41st birthday. Her death was a reminder of my own mortality. The reminder wasn't so much in a "you're getting old, boy," kind of way, or the classic "death is stalking you" way, but more in a "how many more pets can you have before you need to start worrying that they'll outlive you" kind of way. In the end, I'm not currently afraid of dying as much as I am of leaving behind responsibilities unfulfilled.

The economy, while supposedly on the mend, has been hard on more and more people. While, to date, we've been fortunate to weather that storm, we've at least felt the peripheral effects. Several friends have been either directly effected or at least sufficiently indirectly effected to bring awareness of things closer to home than I'd like. Still, I feel fortunate and hope that we can remain so.

I'm not going to make any predictions about 2011. I hope that it's better:

  • I hope that the addition of NewDawg and ending the year with the cruise are indicators that we might be coming out of the shadow that started to settle in the summer of 2007.
  • I hope that Lana's is the last time that death visits us for a few years.
  • I hope that my clearance issues sort themselves out. While I've been able to make myself productive, I still feel trapped by the nebulous state my working papers are in. It's not that I want to walk, but having the paperwork in place means I have a lot more flexibility and bargaining power if the tides of work-fortune start to shift. It also means that I have to be less reliant on others to "be my hands" at work. I chafe at my inability to be directly productive.
  • I hope that my mom continues to adjust well to her new life. Hopefully, she'll enjoy her Alaska cruise, this coming year.
  • I hope that I have no more reason to step foot inside a hospital - for myself, my family or my friends  - beyond "well visits".
Basically, I'd like for the year to not be "interesting" in the Chinese curse way. The last three years have been far to "interesting".

Theme Music for Road Rage

They say that music calms the savage heart (well, there's a lot of variations on that theme, so, those may not be the words you're used to "they" saying). I can't help but think that such a sentiment is always accurate, however. I mean, there's definitely music that seems to calm me down. There's also music that amps me up. More often than not, a given piece or type of music simply intensifies what I'm feeling.

Right now, what I'm feeling is an upwelling of bile at my fellow man. Traffic does that to me.

Perhaps a little bit of aggrotech will help me dissipate my road-rage?

Inverse Effort

Is it just me, or do dogs chew small pieces of food much more than they do larger ones? I mean, If I toss one of our dogs a big, honking piece of meat, it's gone in one gulp. If I toss them the corner of a cracker, it's "chew-chew-chew-chew-chew..." and eventually swallowed. Size aside, you'd think if they were going to linger over a piece of food, it would be the tasty meat rather than the relatively bland cracker-fragment.

I don't get dogs. =)

One More Reason to Hate WalMart

Not too long ago, they decided that they needed to open a new WalMart within walking distance of  my house. I dunno whether they closed the one three miles further down Route 1, or not. If they haven't then I'm one of those people fortunate enough to have two, convenient WalMarts.

I have to assume they've closed the other one. Otherwise, the traffic for the new one makes almost no sense. I just can't see that there was such a pent-up demand for an additional WalMart that it would explain the influx of cars onto the roads immediately surrounding my neighborhood.

Speaking of which: why is it that, when allowing a big, new store to move in, they don't rework the roads to accommodate the new traffic patterns. It's 1PM on a Friday afternoon and the area is positively gridlocked. It took 15 minutes to navigate the last mile of Route 1 to get onto Kings Highway. Then it took a further five minutes to travel the 1/5 of a mile on King's Highway to get to the entrance to my neighborhood. Finally, I had to wait two minutes for the jack asses lined up on Kings Highway to let me into my neighborhood. Apparently, these (mostly Maryland-plated) people never quite got the concept of "don't block intersections". Yeah, I get that it's only a two-way intersection. However, you're still not allowed to block the intersection just because the traffic on the other side of your direction of travel has stopped. Being 30ft. closer to that stopped traffic doesn't get you there any sooner. All it does is makes the people that need to use that intersection (and could use that intersection, but for you) want to hop out of their cars and beat you bloody with something heavy and blunt.

So, yeah, I still find no redeeming value to WalMart, especially when it attracts yet more idiots to my neck of the woods.

Unwanted Recollections

So, this morning, NewDawg woke Donna up with her morning whines. Donna hasn't quite figured out what are "normal" sounds and what are "distress" sounds from NewDawg. Unfortunately, trying to relate to her how to tell the difference woke up the (admittedly recent) memories of Lana's "distress" sounds and all the memories that went with them.

Fortunately, there weren't a lot of such memories. Lana had been fairly distress-free during her time with us. It was only those last few days where she started to vocalize - especially as we made ready for the final trip to the vet.

She knew that something was "not right" about the whole thing. But, she also knew, "oh my gawd: car ride." And, you could hear the conflict in her voice. You could hear the fear of that conflict. Hell, Puckett could hear the conflict and the fear in her voice. That's why he started howling like he did, as we leashed her up that final car ride.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Customer Database Fail

Today, I got a call from a Verizon High Speed Internet salesperson. Apparently, the representative was calling to "get me back as customer". Now, this is interesting on several fronts:

  • The guy was calling to sell me DSL as a High-speed Internet solution. I've had DSL in the past (in fact, I was Bell Atlantic's first DSL customer, back in 1996/1997), but most of the time I had DSL, it was through carriers other than Verizon (first, it was CAIS, then it was SpeakEasy). So, there wasn't really a basis for "getting me back"
  • I am currently a Verizon FiOS customer and have been for nearly a year now. So, I'm already a Verizon customer, so, no need to "get me back" as one.
  • Before I had FiOS, I was a Cox HSI customer for several years. Why this is relevant is that the Verizon rep had called me on my GV number. I've really only been using the GV number since fall of 2009. So, the number they had for me to try to "get me back" isn't the number I had when last I had DSL (and, as previously mentioned, when I had DSL, I was never a VZ customer - the closest I came to it was when I was a Bell Atlantic employee and was helping beta test their offering [Bell Atlantic later became Verizon])
So, it was a complete "out there" call. Nothing about my history nor the number they contacted at was relevant to a prior business relationship. Clearly, they'd gotten my updated contact info from somewhere. Thus, you'd assume that with such updated info, they could have figured out that I was also already a customer of their internet services.

I hate "fixing" something when I can neither fully explain why it was broken nor why the "fix" works.

On my technical blog, I recently went through how I worked around what seemed to be brokenness in Linux's routing. I'd done a fair amount of digging around to try to solve my problem. I even asked questions on some forum sites (to no avail). Eventually, with enough persistence, I cobbled together a solution.

Unfortunately, that wasn't quite enough for me. I mean, I had an observed behavior I was trying to surmount, but, hadn't had the tools to really tear it apart. So, I was treating symptoms rather than finding a cure. I hate that approach to problem solving.

So, today, since I had some time, I broke down and tried to see what was really going on under the covers. I wanted to sort out the root-cause of the symptoms I'd addressed. So, I downloaded tcpdump and tried to watch my packet flows both with and without the "fix" in place.

Even with what should be the right analysis tools in place to see the problem, it wasn't any more enlightening. The error I expected to see wasn't there. Worse, there wasn't really any alternate error in its place. Fucking. Maddening.

I still have the urge to track it down further (yeah, OCD!), even though I know that it's mostly wasted effort. I mean, the issue I ran into shouldn't happen in production situations, and, even if it did, I've documented the "fix" for it. I just don't like not knowing why it was broken or why my "fix" works.

Gah... I'd be ill-suited for work in medicine or other theoretical scientific endeavors.

Hooray for (Voice) Technology

Today, I received my first phonecall to my laptop. Someone called my GV number which I'd configured to ring through to my laptop's Skype application. I only just today activated the Skype inbound call functionality as I'd just received my Jabra 620 Duo in the post, today.

I've had a Google Voice number for quite some time, now. It seemed the best way to give people phone contact info but control how and when they could actually reach me. And, given the fact that, at any given time, I may be best reachable by either my cell, my home line, or any of four phone lines at work (depending where I am, that day), it was also the most efficient way to have people contact me. I hate having to give people a list of contact info and try to tell them what fallback order to try them in.

Unfortunately, GV's call routing isn't as fine-grained as I'd like. Really, I'd like to be able to set GV to have phones in the call rotation on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. Unfortunately, GV's really designed around the traditional worker rather than the telecommuter. So, you can set your call groups to ring all or some subset of your phone numbers. Then, you can set each of those numbers to have calling windows. My work extensions, I typically set up to "never ring on weekends" and to not ring between 18:00 and 07:00.

Were I scheduled to be at my office desk/extension four the typical five-day workweek, that would be fine. For better or worse, I telecommute 2-3 days a week. Given the level of control GV offers me, my desk extension is frequently ringing when I have no possibility of answering it. This, by itself, wouldn't be bad except that, on the days I'm not in the office, people make use of the empty space. Often times, they also tell people "call me at (my desk phone's number), today". So, when the phone rings, they assume it's for them and pick it up.

What GV really needs is the ability to designate an extension as a "log in" extension.Then, restrict the hours when the phone can be logged in. That way, on the days I'm at my desk, I could call my GV number, log in that extension and then have the "login" auto-expire at the end of the work day.

Oh well. For now, I'll just have GV no longer ring my desk but, instead, ring me on Skype. I'll pretty much always have my laptop when I'm on the clock.

Your Pet-gate Means Nothing to Me

Humorous event of the day:

Cat (Bella) goes charging headlong from her cat tree, in the living room, towards the kitchen. She often does this. I can only guess that her kitty-PDA pops up an appointment notification letting her know she's late to an appointment or something.

Unfortunately, when we got NewDaig, we installed a pet gate in the doorway between the livingroom and the dining room. The dining room is between the kitchen and living room. Most of the time, the main door in the gate is open. When it's not, the cat passthrough typically is. Today, the main door apparently got bumped close. Cat passthrough was also closed...

CRASH! 9lbs of rushing cat can, apparently, dismount a traction-mounted pet-gate .

Dear ITA Policy Makers:

I get that you're trying to make our systems more secure and more resistant to hacking attempts. But, really, who the fuck sets /etc/profile to 640??? I see things like that (and some other stuff you've demanded) and I have to really wonder, "do you have a real concept of how a UNIX system should be secured? Do you really understand the impact of the things you request? Do you really understand which of your requests actually increase security and which ones do nothing but force me to do things other, potentially more dangerous ways (which you've not protected against)? I know you guys all have nice, shiny certificates indicating you completed some kind of nifty, expensive, "I'm a systems security guy" training and all, but, still...

The Christians Have Appropriated Chaos??

Today, a friend of mine hit the "like" button on a FaceBook page dedicated to "Mayhem". Now, I like mayhem, too. I don't know whether to consider myself more a hobbyist or professional at it, but that's beside the point. Either way, I decided, "I'm gonna click the like button on that, too." And, so, I clicked it. 

Now, what goes hand-in-hand with mayhem? If you answered "chaos", then you think more like me than you probably ought (for the sake of the world at large). So, I tried to find a FaceBook dedicated to "chaos" that I could also press the like button for. 

I put "chaos" into the FaceBook search bar. The results of the search are returned and all I can think is, "WTF? All of the "Chaos" pages on FaceBook are some kind of Christian youth thing???" Apparently, to young Christians, "chaos" is now an acronym (C.H.A.O.S.) that stands for "Christ Has All Our Solutions". Again, "WTF?" Oh well, glad I read the info pages before clicking the like button on any of those pages!

Hateful TV Programming

No, it most definitely is not time for the Wendy Williams show. I don't get why she even has a show.

I mean, ok, she's got big (ginormous, actually) tits - and, as a guy, I should like that - but I'm not going to watch a show just to see some loudmouth with big tits (there's far too much good internet porn out there for me to base my TV watching on covered-up, big, saggy tits). Even if I were to watch based just on tits, I'd do it with the sound muted (due to the aforementioned "loudmouth" problem). I don't think your sponsors are going to have any chance of getting their money's worth if I'm watching on mute.

I get that she kinda sounds like Oprah and Oprah's mad popular with the lobotomy crowd. But, I've not got a lobotomy and, even if I did, I'd probably want the real deal rather than some counterfeit.

Speaking of counterfeit: if you're going to offer up a "Wendy Williams", I'm thinking, even in her decomposing state, "Wendy O. Williams" would be a better choice.

Damn: what a waste of air-time.

Dear Fox5:

You need to DQ anyone sporting a duckface picture from consideration for your FaceBook fan of the day.

I dunno: maybe you're trying to make people look stupid by picking one of their duckface pictures from their photo albums. I'd like to think that's the case, but I have my doubts.

At any rate, it makes it look like you have to be some kind of Jersey Shore wannabee tool to like Fox 5. If that's your goal, then, "mission accomplished."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Philsophical Food Conundrum

If "bacon goes with everything" and "there's always room for jello", would bacon-jello be a perfect food?

I think I just threw up, a little, in my mouth.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not a great night to be a Philly sports fan...

Flyer played another uninspired, lackluster game and got blown out 6-2. To Vancouver. Yuck.

The Eagles also apparently decided that Tuesday night is not a good night to play a Sunday football game. So, playoff slot already in hand, they didn't bother to try to clinch a bye-round. They lost to the freaking Vikings. Awesome.

Please Let the Hyundai Christmas Commercials End!

Corpses have more life and vitality than the singer in the Hyundai Christmas commercials. Freaking creepy. Do these commercials actually make anyone want to buy a Hyundai? All they make me want to do is organize a hipster-hunt (I've got lots of bare walls, perhaps a hipster-hide would be nice?).

You Will Never Convince Me That Furries Aren't Creepy

I get the whole "different strokes for different folks" thing. I mean, there's probabably (quite a few) things I do that people would lump under that heading. I just don't get furries. 

First off, those suits have to be hot and sweaty. The furries I've run into over the years all have kind of a nasty, sour-sweat "funk" to them. I can't see engaging in intimate acts in those rigs. I mean, I find the DC heat to be "wilting" enough. I can't imagine trying to function inside a heat-intensifier like a furry's suit. Plus, the aforementioned smell: how could you stand your own stink or how could you want to get busy with someone that smelled like sweat-rotted faux fur??

/me shudders

PayPal and Bad Links

It's not till you receive the "overdraft protection" notice that you remember PayPal's pulling against the wrong account.

Of course, if I had my druthers, PayPal wouldn't be linked against any checking or savings account. They'd only be linked against my credit card(s). What makes it even more hateful is that, PayPal doesn't let you set your default funding source to any of your linked credit cards. This, among other (mostly philosophical/hate) reasons is why I prefer Google Checkout to PayPal. Just wish more people would move away from the ripoff that is PayPal.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gin-n-Coke, Anyone?

Judging by Donna's face, there's probably a very good reason that you'll not likely hear someone order a gin-and-coke.

But, that's what happens when someone asks you to make them a drink when you really aren't in the mood to do so. I mean, in my defense, the bottle of gin, the bottle of diet coke and the empty drinking glass were all sitting right next to each other on the counter next to the fridge. I was on autopilot and just grabbed and mixed.

Oh well.

I Hate the Mall

Ok, so, had to go to the Mall, tonight. Apparently, with several rooms full of clothes, nothing was adequate for this coming NYE. The mysteries of living with a woman, I guess.

At any rate, malls are interesting places (for observing people, that is). Some malls are more interesting than others. Tonight, we went to the Pentagon City Mall.

Now, it's been a number of months since I've been to this mall. I dunno whether it's just the whole "holiday week" thing; the economy's recovering; there' a pent up demand to spend (regardless of the means to do so); or what. But, the Pentagon City Mall was much busier than it was the last few times I was there. However, it also seems that, in addition to the mall being busier, the demographics of this mall has shifted. There were a crapton of gay (I'm assuming, but, itseemed pretty freaking obvious) black teens and men. Maybe it's a new cruising ground?

/me shrugs

Malls are great places to observe crowd dynamics. Like, how do people react when a couple of self important teenage girls decide to stop in the middle of a main access route to just jack their jaws? Well, people get cranky about it and eventually brusquely brush their ways through. Interestingly, said self-important teenage girls take exception to people not seeing how important they are and get all put out, "you could say excuse me, you know." All I could respond was, "I could, but, then again, you could find better place to flap your fucking lips at each other."

Malls are also places that offer the weirdest services at carts and kiosks. I mean, I dunno about you, but I'm not going to be able to relax all that much if I'm being massaged in a chair in the middle of the freaking concourse. I'm also pretty sure that, were I so hairy I needed to get my lip or eyebrows waxed (ok, I am hairy enough, but, fortunately, I'm not of a gender or disposition to do it), I wouldn't do it in a chair on an open concourse with hundreds of people walking by and gawking.

Every time I'm at the mall, I also notice that there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the wares on offer and the people patronizing the mall. Every store and trendy boutique seems to carry the bulk of their inventory in sizes much smaller than the mall's average patrons. I also notice that "age-appropriate" doesn't seem to be a factor in the purchasing decisions of many people. I'm sorry, but if you're fifty years old - and look every year of it - you probably shouldn't be trying on that seethrough blouse and hoochie-skirt at Forever 21.

Malls are also places where people like to introduce their kids to various parts of adult life. One of these is, apparently, dealing with automated parking kiosks. Look, I get that kids are curious. I get that kids need to learn. However, what I don't get is why parents would think that, when the line for the kiosk is a dozen people deep, it's a good time to let a toddler struggle with the kiosk?

Speaking of parking... When the space is wide enough to double-park a Hummer (the original one, not those faux-hummers, the H2 or, worse, the H3), how do you have trouble parking your Tercel in between the goddamned lines?? Or, exactly HOW difficult is it to put your goddamned ticket into the EZ·Park automated parking turnstile and let yourself out of the lot? I mean, I might have bought the thought that the one you were at was broken. But, when I watch you switch lanes TWICE (cutting across several lanes in your ginormous SUV, each time) to struggle with another EZ·Park automated parking turnstile, I gotta start wondering whether they should have included a hockey helmet with your SUV purchase. And, lastly, why is it like some kind of bizarre rule that the person leaving through the leftmost turnstile is invariably wanting to exit out to the right (or vice versa)? I mean go around the fucking block. It's not like you can't get there from here (wherever "there" is) just because you exited the opposite direction you wanted to leave by.

Oh... Malls are also great places to bring one's inner snark right to the surface. 

Work Mis-Direction

It seems like most people (other than me) see the lunch at desk thing as the person implying "I'm eating my lunch here so I can be available" rather than "I'm eating lunch here because I'm so busy I couldn't afford the time to eat someplace else" or "I'm eating lunch here because I didn't want to be disturbed in the cafeteria". Whatever. I've simply come to the conclusion that I'll never understand "normal" people.

That said, I've noticed that most "normal" people don't like to interrupt if they think you're listening to something. Whether that something is a phone call, your MP3 player, or whatever. Even if listening to nothing, ear-buds are great at the office for keeping people from bugging you. It's even more effective if you're using a phone head-set as your listening device because they tend to assume you're using it for the phone call purpose rather than just listening to music.

Yeah: I hate people.

Need Better Outlets

Posting to Linuxquestions.Org seems like a waste of time if you have other than "home user" level questions. I mean, it's awesome that so many people find it to be a useful site, and, they do have an "enterprise" section. It just seems like there's not a lot in the way of good, in-depth/technical resources out there for people who really want to use Linux. Oh well. I'll keep posting there, even though I never get answers (unless you count the "your question has no replies after 'X' days" emails).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

ümi: I Just Don't Get It

So, I'm watching The Mentalist on CBS (don't you judge me!) and a commercial for Cisco's new ümi product came on. Curious, I went to Cisco's site to see what it was about. I clicked on the "what you need page". On the page was the following graphic:

I mean, we've already got a number of free video chat options out there. If I want to use my laptop - be it Windows, Macintosh or Linux - I can use Skype or Google video chat options. Apple joined the game with their FaceTime option on the newest generation of iPhones (and presumably all future hardware offerings). All I need is an iDevice and a cellular subscription. MicroSoft has a video chat offering via their new Kinnect device - all I need is the Kinnect and, presumably, XBox Live gold.
What I don't get is how ümi fits in? I mean, that they're advertising it on TV during regular programming. So, presumably it's aimed at "regular people". And, judging by the price shown in the above graphic, it's meant to be within financial reach of "regular people". But, there's the matter of all those other video offerings. All of those other offerings are an easy sell. I mean, how can you beat the "free" of Skype or Google (and presumably other stuff for your PC)? And, even if you want something that doesn't require your PC, you have offerings from Apple and Microsoft that leverage other multi-use products that have a decent (and rapidly growing) installed base.
So, what's the compelling case for ümi? I mean, it's not free - in fact, it costs me more than my Vonage subscription. Presumably, since the commercial (and the web site) don't mention that they work with any of the previously named incumbent competitors, what's the value proposition. I've got to buy a dedicated-purpose device. I've got to spend $25/mo. on top of my other monthly bills (in my case XBox Live Gold and Vonage) for products I already own and that already allow me to run competing video-chat products. You don't seem to be offering interoperability in an already splintered market - you're just trying to splinter it further. So, "what's up Cisco? Why would I possibly want the ümi?"

Unexpected Tech-Lust

So, my mom's decided that she's wanting to get a bit more techy. At our Thanksgiving visit, she was trying to sort out which of any number of ways to go: actually getting a cell phone (and a smartphone, at that), getting a device to do streaming videos to her TV, getting an E-reader (she really likes the Kindle), updating her laptop, getting a new WiFi router, getting an MP3-player and learning how to rip music from her CD selection.

While we were up for the Thanksgiving trip, I took my mom to here local BestBuy. I had no intentions of her buying anything there, I just wanted to give her some hands-on time and "interview" her to find out what it was she really wanted. We'd discussed converged devices versus purpose-specific devices. Gave her some hands-on time with various examples of purpose-specific and converged devices.

Ultimately, she decided that she was probably going to join the cellphone age with Sprint's HTC EVO and eventually get the Kindle.

She's still trying to decide whether she wants to try video streaming. She apparently got screwed by BestBuy who'd told her that the install service she got was good for a year's worth of free reconfiguration assistance. However, when she went to buy a network-enabled BluRay player that included NetFlix capabilities, GeekSquad (or whatever) told here "that will be (some ungodly fee)" to install it. It turns out, the prior GeekSquad sales guy had told her that she had a year's worth of reconfig, but she'd never got it in writing  (so, she learned the "get it in writing" lesson). Said sales guy no longer worked at the store (gee, I wonder why). So, rather than pay a new install fee, she told them to jam it and got her money back. So, that's a low-order-priority purchase, now. When she gets around to updating her laptop, I'll make sure she gets one with an HDMI jack so she can try NetFlix that way.

At any rate, prior to my Christmas visit, she'd stopped by the Sprint store and got herself a new HTC EVO phone. To Sprint's credit, they tried to convince her that it was too much phone for what she needed (she's not yet into the things the phone's really geared for, but I suspect that she will become so). But, she said, "thanks for not trying to oversell me, but this is what I want" and they sold it to her. Unfortunately, mom didn't know any of the info that they could set the phone up with, so the sales-trainee went ahead and set up her phone to do Google-syncing, but didn't write down any of the info related to the Google account she'd created for my mom (either the password or the password-recovery info). I was able to transfer the synced calendar info to her real Google (Apps) account, but, the contact info was lost.

Unfortunately, going through the setup of the EVO made it glaringly clear just how much I hate my BlackBerry Storm. I now has the serious wanty for a new phone, but, I want to wait till VZW's LTE phones come out before I decide whether to continue with Verizon or to switch to Sprint. Basically, I want a new Android phone, but, need to know I'm not gonna hit data caps.

Things Misheard

To start with, I am most definitely not hard of hearing. I have very good hearing - not just for my age (soon to be 41) but compared to people considerably younger than me. That said, I have a bit of a mischievous mental state. So, I often hear things both the way they were stated and the way I want to hear them.

Today was a case in point. Donna was talking about making New Years dinner. In her family, a traditional accompaniment to said meal is black-eyed peas. Of course, my bent-brain decided to first process it as "black-guy peas".

In my defense (actually, probably less a defense than further indictment), I give Donna shit any time she says she wants "five guys". Five Guys is a burger outlet that she really likes and that has a location walking distance from our house. Naturally, unless she's very careful how she asks for it, I always have a laugh at her expense. It's actually become a bit of a running joke, at this point.

And, yes, I'm one of those "that's what she said" kind of guys.