Archive for October, 2010

Why, yes, my priorities are inappropriate

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Every year, I think I’ll carve an impressive Jack-o-Lantern. Most years, I don’t even try; I just carve a simple face at the last moment. A few times, I’ve worked up a pattern of my own and carved it.

This year, I downloaded a few patterns, then picked one that appealed to me and carved it. There are a number of people who do more impressive ones, but I like the way this one came out.

First, a photo with flash:

Dr. Horrible jack-o-lantern

Next, a photo taken without flash in a darkened room, showing the image better:

Dr. Horrible jack-o-lantern

I think it came out pretty nicely, and I expect my daughter to appreciate it.

In honor of Halloween …

Monday, October 25th, 2010

… Lifehacker is hosting Evil Week.

You know, I’ve been giving some thought …

Monday, October 25th, 2010

… to what I might want my next car to be.


Saturday, October 23rd, 2010


Too much of a good thing

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Wireless networking is good. Wireless networking is convenient. When you have around a dozen-and-a-half wireless networks in close proximity, it becomes harder to connect. That’s my situation at home these days. I was fine until about a week ago; I guess whoever started up a new home wireless network was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’ve moved my wireless to a different channel to try to avoid some of the interference, and it only helps a little. The Wi-Fi Analyzer on my Droid says I should switch to channel 13 or 14. Unfortunately, my wireless router/DSL modem can’t use any channel higher than 11, which is overpopulated locally.

C’est la vie. It looks like my best method of operation at the moment is to log in from my laptop from within the same room upstairs as the router, following which I can maintain access in the living room downstairs. I can’t log in from downstairs, though, or I wouldn’t be complaining.

I live in a dangerous neighborhood

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

There’s a crabapple tree that shadows my front walk.

I suppose it *could* be considered an offensive weapon system

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Depending, of course, on what music is being played.

Sadly, my kung fu is not strong

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Then again, just what sort of relationship are they expecting to have?

Oh, boy, does *this* speak to me!

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Way back when, I was a beta tester for Windows 95. At the time, I had a 486-33 system, which was a little behind the state of the art, and slightly questionable as to whether it was powerful enough to run the new OS. I think they recommended a 486-66 as the minimum necessary. I liked Windows 95 immediately, and thought it had a much nicer interface than Windows 3.1, but I had to reinstall every few weeks because the beta versions kept trashing my hard drive.

In any case, the CD/sound card subsystem I’d added to the PC developed a problem – this was back when CDs and sound output beyond a simple beeper weren’t standard equipment that came with a computer; you usually had to purchase them separately and install them yourself.

The problem was that the CD tray would be ejected when I powered-up the computer, and the motor wouldn’t turn off. When I pushed the tray in, the rack gears would engage with the drive gears, the tray would get sucked in, then the motors would reverse and eject the tray again. The motor never stopped running, so the rack gears on the CD slide completely disengaged from the drive internals, and the slide could be easily removed. It was obvious that some limit switch or other sensor had broken. Unfortunately, tech support wouldn’t help me. They had their script, and they wouldn’t alter it for anything.

They wouldn’t support me because I had Windows 95 installed. Their position was that they didn’t support Windows 95, and had no intention of supporting it in the future. I suppose they felt that Windows 3.1 was the be-all and end-all of operating systems that would be in use forever, and this new upstart wouldn’t go anywhere. They insisted that they wouldn’t support me unless I uninstalled 95 and reinstalled 3.1, even though I’d been running for several months with Windows 95 by that point.

I couldn’t afford to uninstall Windows 95, because I was a beta tester in order that my then-girlfriend could use the system (and my experiences using it when she didn’t) to develop a Windows 95 training video – she had produced some videos previously for Video Professor, and got them to pay for my MSDN membership so that she could do one for Windows 95 that would be available on launch day. Explaining that it was an obvious hardware issue got me nowhere. Yes, I was reinstalling Windows 95 fairly often because of disk trashing, anyway, but it, at least, came on CD. I ‘d have had to install Windows 3.1 from 5 1/4″ floppies. Even if they’d agreed to replace my system, I’d have had a 3.1 system with no way to install 95 again until I’d received the replacement, and I couldn’t afford that. Actually, it was my girlfriend who couldn’t afford that, because she had a deadline for the video she was scripting, but it worked out to be pretty much the same thing.

Finally, I disconnected the hard drive completely, and booted from a DOS 5.0 floppy that I’d installed the CD’s drivers onto. Exactly the same behavior (which I’d expected). Again (and, at this point, it had been several calls over the course of a few weeks) I called tech support and waited the half-hour or so to get through. I described what I’d done. They said I had to have a hard drive. I asked to speak to a supervisor. Eventually, I got one. I described (again) that I’d booted from floppy and the hard drive with Windows 95 wasn’t even powered up. He said, “We can work with that.” I said, “Finally! Thank you!”

Then he said, “The first thing you need to do is reinstall the hard drive and put Windows 3.1 back on it.”

You can probably imagine my reaction. You’d likely be wrong. I didn’t blow up. I merely asked to whom I’d send a complaint about their support. He said that it would go to him. Then was when I blew up. He hung up on me when I was explaining that I provided tech support for my company’s products, and any complaints about the support I provided went to my boss, not to me, and that I thought that either his boss was stupid or he was a liar.

After that, I wrote a letter to the president of the company, whose address I found in the Dunn & Bradstreet books my company had. I wrote up the entire chronology of my attempts to get support – I’d actually kept a log of all the calls, which I don’t normally do – and very politely explained what I felt were the shortcomings of their approach to Windows 95 and their customer support, including the fact that their customer support people were apparently trying to prevent upper management from learning just how poorly they were performing.

The letter came back to me with a “moved – forwarding order expired” stamped onto it. I may still have it, unopened, tucked somewhere in the garage.

In any case, that was all brought back to me by this cartoon.

UPDATE: XKCD (although not the same cartoon) has inspired someone else.

Stepping up the graffiti rhetoric

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Over at Urban Infidel, there’s a post about terrorist street art, showing the following photo of some “artwork”:

Terrorist street art

It’s a lot more sinister than the graffito I saw stenciled on the sidewalk the last time I was in NYC:

Bunny Bin Laden