Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Web in 60 Seconds

I had a discussion with my friend recently about the pros and cons of RSS Feeds.
I only discovered these recently, and with careful guidance from others managed to get set up with my own reader account. I chose google, but there are others.

I was impressed. For anyone who doesn't know, the idea is that any page with regular updates can generate a 'feed', which is readable by a third party web page. The end result of this is that you can go to one page (your reader) and anything that is new on any of your feeds gets displayed all at once.

The plus side of this is that instead of having twenty regular pages to check, I have one. Anything new is right at my fingertips.

The downside is that I have the entire internet in 60 seconds a day. The internet hit 100 million sites this week (estimated 1.1% porn, btw) and it has never seemed smaller. Now that it is brought to me, I don't search, I don't follow links, and I don't explore. It's almost too convenient.

However as with all convenient devils, this one is by far too useful to discard. I can also view my account on my phone, which means that when I get home there is nothing new waiting that I haven't seen.

Oh well. Here's what is on my subscription list:

So what's in yours?


P.S. - Everyone can relax - I got one. (Squee!)

The Big Guy

Oh by the way:

The namesake of my company was in town today. All 1300 employees were gathered into a (semi) heated tent at the back of the building where he gave a presentation and told us a bit about himself.

One interesting thing is that he plays WOW. Then I think he talked for a while about a summer house he is building using bundles of money instead of bricks, but to be fair I wasn't really listening.


"Megatron must be stopped..."

" matter the cost."

Holy $#!%.

I have a need. I say need, because I know it's not a want. 'Wants' are optional. This may not be.

It's the new 20th Anniversary DVD Edition Optimus Prime Figure, and it is in the 7 tera-awesome range. I cannot not own this.

It is about 14 glorious inches tall made largely of die-cast steel. It is authentically detailed with details from the cartoon both in vehicle and robot mode, and it has his original gun. He also has a freaking MEGATRON GUN TO SCALE. It has an AUTOBOT MATRIX OF LEADERSHIP that fits into a GLOWING CAVITY IN IT'S CHEST.

And IT TALKS. (I can't breathe.)

The bad - It is currently on sale for 80 dollars, until the end of the month. (!!!) That's the most I've ever spent on a toy in recent memory. It's a 'limited edition' meaning it will soon be impossible to find. The Toys 'R Us near me has 2 in stock. Everywhere else is sold out. In 3 days there won't be any in this city.

However - I passed up a chance to buy the G1 re-release a few years ago, and now they are impossible to find. (I've been kicking myself ever since.) It is the ONE transformer character I ever wanted as a child that I could not afford, and my parents wouldn't buy for me. But I can't really justify paying this much for any toy.

Or can I? My car is finally paid for and I have some money saved - but not very much. It is less than I've paid for Battlestar Galactica DVD's, and in my mind much cooler. But it's eighty freaking dollars.



"Now all we need is a little energon, and a lot of luck"
-Optimus Prime

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A very good friend, who is the daughter of another very good friend, knit me something.

It keeps my iPod safe and cozy. And since it didn't quite fit perfectly, she made me another one.

I feel very spoiled.


“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”
-Mother Teresa

Monday, November 27, 2006







"Foolproof systems don't take into account the ingenuity of fools."
-Gene Brown

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"I can't see a thing in this helmet!"

Ever wonder why that squadron of Stormtroopers couldn't hit Luke as he stood dumbfounded 10 feet in front of them, in front of the Millennium Falcon on the death star?

Now you know.

"TK-421 - Why aren't you at your post?"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Technical difficulties

I love being a geek.

My email has been flaky lately. It's not enough to really bug me, but I emailed Shaw for the heck of it. They determined that the problem was probably to complex to handle over email, so they gave me a ring. Here is how it went:

"Hi, it's Shawn from Shaw Technical Support. I'd like to try a few things to narrow down the problem, if you don't mind."

"Sure Shawn, no problem. Although to save time, I've tried a few things already if you'd like to hear about them."

"OK Great - You mind telling me what you've done?"

"Sure thing. Well, first, I have 4 POP3 accounts on my client, three from you and one from Telus. I'm only having a problem with the Shaw ones, the Telus is fine. I tried both the default and the Edmonton specific SMTP server settings, and I've left the port at the default 110. I've tried two clients (Mozilla Thunderbird and Outlook Express) and the results are the same, however with Outlook it alternates between an '0x800CCC90 timeout error and a non-responsive server error, leading me to believe that it is a problem with your server, or the proxy you've assigned me. I've also tried on two different machines, and I've tried bypassing the router and connecting directly to the modem, ruling out NIC card issues or software. I'm pretty sure it's your server at this point. But we can try anything you like if I missed anything."

"Uh.. yeah.. Can you hang on? (hold music) Yeah, um.. O.K. then - you've certainly covered everything I was going to try at this point.. um. I'll put in a server request and let the guys in maintenance take a look at it, O.K.?"

"Thanks Shawn, that'd be great."

It's not that I didn't think he was competent, or technical, but I've been a tech support phone worker, and I know where the conversation was going. I also know where their training runs out.

Generally the job involves trying to figure out if it's something simple we can fix over the phone, or not. If not, they send out the service people who try to figure out where the big problem is. I was able to logically deduce everything they were going to ask me to do, and I didn't really feel like paying for the time it would take to do it with them on hold. (I only have a cell phone. Minutes = $)

When I troubleshot computers over the phone, my favorite calls were from techs. By this I mean true techs, not people who think they are techs.

True techs are knowledgeable, patient, and pleasant. They probably know what the problem is already, but they know that it has to be proven to my satisfaction before I am going to send them a part. They also don't want to have to fix it again, so it's worth it to actually go through the motions to ensure that it is in fact a bad hard drive, as opposed to a motherboard.

Conversations with people who think they are techs go like this:

"Hi - My hard drive is broken, send me a new one"

"Ok - No problem. However sir, to be sure, do you mind telling me what you've done so far?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we just need to be certain before we go ahead and order that part - What have you done to ensure that the problem is with the hard drive?"

"I already told you - it's BROKEN."

"Yes sir, you said.. However-"

"Look sonny, I've been troubleshooting computers since 1925. I've got seven degrees in electro-magneto-computerism! I don't have to tell you what I've done? If I say the hard drive is broken, it's broken! Now send me a damn hard drive!"

"Sir, I do understand, however I'm afraid your warranty specifies that you must-"

"To hell with my warranty! I want to talk to your manager!!"

"Fine. (sigh) Please hold.."

I Like being a geek - I sure don't miss Tech Support.

"Modern technology Owes ecology An apology."
-Alan M. Eddison

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Clam" What-now?

A few years ago I bought something I saw just because:

1) It was the single most bizarre thing I had ever seen for sale
2) I could afford it
3) It was Duty Free

I think I was in the Chicago O'Hare international airport, but memory fails. Anyway, the item is Clam Jerky.

Turns out I was right - Still have it, it's been buried in a box for several years. By a strange coincidence, "several years" is also how long ago it past it's expiration date.

Clam jerky shouldn't expire, indeed.


Jimmy - "Hey Blah, do you know anything about cars?" Count Blah - "I know yours is older than me, and it's leaking more fluids, blah!" - Greg the Bunny

Monday, November 06, 2006

Notebook Anxiety

I have a new notebook.

It is still new despite being purchased six weeks ago. It is new in the sense that I have never written anything in it.

It's very nice, and it cost me 15 dollars. It is about 4 inches wide, 7 inches tall, and it is made of paper that looks like leather. It has an elastic built in to keep it closed, and a ribbon attached to hold my place. It also has a pocket.

I bought it because I liked it. I didn't really have anything in mind for it when I purchased it, and it was not long after that I realized my mistake.

I have another notebook that I keep in my pocket. I use it for grocery lists, notes to myself, and keeping track of my workout routine. It cost me 97 cents. Currently it says 'Milk' and also the dimensions of a picture I am trying to find a nice frame for.

I have no fear of writing in this notebook because it is not nice. It is crumpled and has a tacky bright yellow color. I could replace it without a thought in any drug or stationary store in any city in this country. I believe I have owned a dozen exactly like it.

The other notebook is possibly irreplaceable. It came from a very unusual store in Marda Loop, a fashionable shopping area in Calgary, a city I don't live in.

I have now what I call 'Notebook Anxiety'. I feel somehow that the expensive notebook is more deserving of something profound than the cheap yellow one. The cheap yellow one is for 'Milk'. Possibly the other one was meant for poetry, or a diary. The cheap one I can tear pages out of, but it would be wrong somehow to sully this pretty object with something mundane.

So I don't use it. It sits closed on a shelf, because somehow I don't feel that anything I have to write would be worthy of a notebook I bought. I can't use it, and it's too nice to throw away. So there it sits.

Does that seem right to you?


"The things you own end up owning you"
-Tyler Durden

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The case of the missing post.

This is most unusual.

When I made my post today about Spaceballs, I noticed that there is no trace of the post I made yesterday. It was about my favorite author, Terry Pratchett, and the new book I picked up.

I can't explain it's absence, and it does not appear in my 'drafts' folder. I hope I didn't delete it by mistake when I tried to edit it.

Regardless, for my next trick I will recreate the post from memory. (Ta-Da!)

My favorite Author has come out with a new book.

Well, that's not exactly true. It would be more accurate to say that a book he wrote some time ago has now come out in softcover.

I decided a while ago that I'm not buying any more books hardcover that are part of a series. (In this case, there are 35 books, and I own around 30 of them.) They take up too much bookshelf real estate, they don't look good next to the others, and they are too darn expensive. They are also very heavy. (I move a lot.)

It's hard to wait that long, but I anticipate it will be worth it. I'll let you know how it turns out, but in the meantime I recommend anything this man has ever written.


“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
-Barbara W. Tuchman

May the Schwartz be with you.

My memory gets a little fuzzy when I attempt to go back farther than about 3 years, but I'm fairly confident that I may have seen this movie before I saw Star Wars, Alien, or any other movie that it parodies.

Regardless, upon first viewing I didn't 'get it', and it was largely lost on me. I enjoyed the visuals and the more slapstick comedy, but not the references.

Years later, now that those movies have become a large part of my personal influence, I am able to revisit this flick and thoroughly enjoy it.

It hasn't aged particularly poorly, (for 80's comedy) and still makes me smile during certain scenes.

I vaguely remember seeing a teaser poster for a new Spaceballs. It was a parody of the Episode III poster where Anakin's cape is forming the face of Vader against a red background. (Hayden is to the right, Vader to the left.) The new parody poster involved Mel Brooks in the place of Hayden.

I was going to post a picture here of that poster, but exhaustive research has failed to produce Any imagery of it. I have found several old news posts about it, but nowhere have I located this poster.

I hereby issue a challenge: A cookie to the first person who posts a URL where I can find this poster.


"Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable."
-Mark Twain

P.S. I get to choose the cookie.