Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dear Neighbor - you now officially suck.

The first 4 times your dog climbed the fence and got into my backyard I found it amusing. Now I'm sort of pissed.

It wouldn't be so bad if your dog didn't bark incessantly while it is waiting for you to get back from where ever you are - to take it home. Which by the way - probably makes us look like an asshole to some of our other neighbors.

I can't tell you how much it sucks that we have to babysit your dog. Needing to tie the dog up so it doesn't run the backyard non-stop trying to get out. Or - feel guilty that if I don't tie it up, your dog will get into the street. Get hit, stolen, or taken to the pound. Its okay. Cleaning up dog shit is our thanks.

Never mind that I had this crazy fantasy that I would let my own pets play - in my own yard. But never have - because I'm not sure when your hunting dog will come over.

Or that we are forced into a conflict because we need to tell you that after the dog has gotten into the yard 5 times - the novelty is wearing off, and we are feeling less neighborly.

Somehow you never know how the dog is getting out. Despite me telling you exactly how and where the dog is climbing the fence.

Oddly - lots of our other neighbors have dogs, and seem to know how to keep them in their own yards. But you dear neighbor are completely incapable of this. Thanks - we appreciate it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Checkers anyone?

Gratuitous use of LEDS.

Crappy image quality due to my cell phone. Just another reason to hate it.

Why I never seem to get anything done.

I thought we might go to some technology-ey event this weekend. But - after seeing the weather forecast - I decided to stay home an prepare for the plague of locusts, and the apocalypse.

Normally - people in industrialized countries think if you own air conditioning, there is no need to worry about hot weather. That is what air conditioning is for - right?

Yeah - but this is California. You can't really count on having electricity. After the heat wave of last summer - a little fear runs through me when excessive heat starts coming so early. Bunnies are really vulnerable to heat.

Today I thought I might go and get supplies to put up giant fabric shades in an effort to stop some of that heat from getting into the house. Plus - this kind of weather makes everyone flood into stores. While my meltdown quota is high - it isn't something I really like to do.

I thought I was being smart to shop while the stores were relatively empty.

I wasn't being my typical shopping self. I wasn't in a hurry. I had to get some paint, so I was fully prepared to browse and just be zen. I'd gotten my shades, and went back to the paint department. No one was in line.

So - I'd made sure to tell the older gentleman how much I appreciated him getting my 4 cans of paint ready for me. He was on the third label by this point. We chatted about how it would suck this weekend, and that everyone would probably be in to buy air conditioners. It was a nice day at that point. Even though some of the conversations I overheard made me really happy I was getting this stuff done early. Peoples nerves already seemed a little frayed.

When the paint guy went to put a sample dot on the can - they weren't coming out the right color. Frankly I didn't notice, because they were just test colors. I figured they might dry the color of the swatch. It didn't matter to me anyway. As long as they were close.

Now he had to redo two of the cans - because the colors are not coming out right. I'm still fine at this point. There is no one behind me. So I'm not stressed.

He was redo-ing the 4th can when another set of customers walked up. I decided to get out of the way and hang out on the other side of the counter. For about 5 minutes he worked on my order, without saying anything to the waiting customers. Since he was an older guy - about 70, I kind of understood he felt he needed to stay focused - but I dont really like to hold other people up either. I could see one of the customers biting a hole in his cheek. Which is probably what I would have been doing. He wasn't rude - but you could just tell he was freaking out inside.

I thought he had 3 cans done, and went over to be ready to pick them up. Plus, I was trying to get away from the woman who was talking me up. She was bitching about her rental properties. She landed on my radar earlier because she swooped in and yelled at the paint guy to see if he had any brown paint.

Note: I may melt down all the time on this blog, but honestly - I am exceedingly nice to people in person.

So - the paint guy tells me he had to redo all the paint over. All four cans. The machine wasn't putting out the appropriate mix. (Fuck). What I thought would be a 30 minute trip has now turned into over an hour. So - I offer to come back in so he could take care of the other customers, and not worry about my paint. While I'm annoyed, I can't be annoyed at him because he was working his ass off and it wasn't his fault.

An hour later I go back to the store to pick up my paint - there were like 10 people in line.

Also super annoying? People who don't walk any faster when they are crossing a street. I mean - you'd think they were walking out to check their mailbox or pick up the morning paper. By all means - hold up traffic.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Am I really NOT an average consumer?

Oh my goodness readers. From time to time my love of technology gets overtaken by my sheer feeling of defeat.

It feels like a constant battle. Which I'm pretty sure - it actually is.

Most weeks - there is a tolerable amount of ridiculousness. Not this week.

Sometimes - it is completely understandable. I'm not just a frustrated consumer. Mr. Snarkolepsy still works in technology. I used to work in technology.

So - I understand how some of the product decisions are made. Having said that - right now I'm totally irritated.

Yesterday it was my cell phone. An XV6700 - from Verizon.

At the time we bought these - there weren't many choices on internet enabled smart phones. I chose to not go with a Blackberry because I don't carry a purse. I walk around with the phone in my hand all the time - and the Blackberry seemed a little large for me. I also liked that the keyboard would tuck away so I wasn't constantly pushing the keys.

It was soon after we brought it home that we started to realize some of the horrible design flaws.

First - All the function buttons on the sides of the phone are in horrible places.
When you turn the phone off, and put it in your pocket, a stray button-push will not only turn it back on, but redial the last person you called - or the person who last called you. Even more irritating - its impossible for the person on the other end to disconnect. So - if you didn't know the phone had redialed - the victim you just called couldn't just hang up their side and regain the ability to use their phone connection. Oddly it drops calls all the time, but for some reason - not at that time.

The 'camera' button is one of those poorly placed buttons along the side. If you want to use the camera, it's almost impossible not to hit the other function buttons on the opposite side (such as the audio recording). If you want to use those other buttons you can't help hitting the camera button. Just irritating. And the camera takes a really long time to come up. Like - 10 seconds. I know in text that doesn't seem like a long time - but we have owned lots of cell phones. None of them took remotely close to that long to bring up the camera.

Yesterday - I was sure I was either going to take a hammer to it, or smash it into the concrete. Since neither of those things are rational or mature - so I chose not to. Though the urge was strong.

So - the thing that caused me to become un-spun yesterday....

I had managed to use up all my memory space with audio recordings. All of it. To the point I couldn't even send a text message. So I tried to delete some. Frantically searching through all the menu's to try to delete some of them - almost resulted in the demise of this phone.

This should be really simple, right? Just highlight a recording file, and choose "Delete" from a menu. Pretty standard. Except it doesn't work. Oh, I can select the file I want to delete. And there's a menu with a "Delete" command. But then when I choose to open the main menu, the "Delete" selection is grayed out. No matter what file I select, the "Delete" is disabled. WTF?

Come to find out - it's not enough to select the audio file, you have to select the audio file with the stylus and hold the stylus down for several seconds to bring up pop-up sub-menu, and you can delete it from there. Yeah - that was completely obvious. I don't know why I thought it might be under the area that says "menu" which has a menu item named "Delete". As a matter of a fact anytime you want to delete something, it is incredibly cumbersome. I just dont understand why.

The bright spot is I get to find a suitable replacement. (I hope all my readers are picking up on the thick sarcasm in that last sentence.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hofstadter's Law

Today was just going to be a short project day. We got a little rain. No reason to do too much.

I after becoming fully caffeinated I notice a small tree down in the backyard.

My first thought was wind damage - even though nothing else looked touched. It was a weird area for damage, it was sort of wedged into a corner. So we went out to examine it and found it had no roots. Which was pretty weird since you can see it is still flowering. How does that even happen?

Anyway - handle the tree and onto the main project. Fixing the gate my contractor built - but have never been able to use.

I really thought it was a minor issue. I would have been happier if I didn't need to fix it - but it seemed so small that hassling the contractor was just not worth it. We are capable of fixing things.

I wanted to put another cable brace - my husband wanted to tighten the brace already on it.

Apparently tightening up the existing brace causes the gate to torque in 2 directions instead of only 1.

After diagnosing this thing for about a half an hour - it now looks like instead of being less than an hour of work - it will be at least a half day project. A perfect example of Hofstadter's Law.

We will have to take the gate off. Apparently when you make the door square - it pushes the top right corner so far up, the gate is no longer level.

We have to buy new hinges. Push the bottom right hinge out. Add a 3rd hinge above the top one to support the weight of the gate. The 2x4 is just not capable of supporting the weight as built - and sags at the top.

Move all the latch hardware so the mates meet.

I just hate paying for things I have to fix anyway - but it is way too late now, and I just have to move past it.

All I know is that it better rain this winter. I need some down-time. Cursed California sun.

Why do companies just not get it?

From Engadget.

"Tough news on the Lenovo front, as the "world's third ranking PC manufacturer" is looking to axe 1,400 of its US-based employees -- and fast."

Normally - I'm all for a good firing. But this little section makes me particularly irritated.

" The company stressed that its return to profitability last year was greatly assisted by the laying off of upwards of 1,000 employees, and insinuates that the latest cost-cutting measures are just attempts to "make the organization more efficient by reducing expenses".

Hey Lenovo! You know what would make you profitable? Not taking weeks to ship a freaking machine. You know what else makes you profitable? Having your salesmen not tell people you have a machine ready to ship. Then when you are ready pay - finding out no such machine exists. Here. It tends to piss customers off, and they decide to buy from anyone but you.

It just annoys me to no end - because I really think companies could be much more profitable if they just got their supply chains up to speed.

Little more my speed.

The blog has been really light on the robot side for a while. A few events I normally attend were canceled or rescheduled. But - all hope isn't lost. I think.

Last year I didn't attend the Maker Faire. I didn't know about it until a month after it was over. Which was such a bummer because the MythBusters were there.

Hopefully - I will have pictures of something that everyone else in the world hasn't already covered.

Watch the Maker Faire trailer here.

Is it me - or is this guy trying to look like Johnny Depp?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Simple Things.

Oh my goodness readers! I actually went to see the indie movie Simple Things - and I can't tell you enough how happy I am. Initially we weren't sure if we were going to just show up to take pictures, or actually stay for the movie. Their web-site really made the difference for us. I'm glad we stayed -- it was really good.

The cast and directors were so kind. Michelle - I can't thank you enough for letting me take photos!

I was completely thrilled to get a shot of Joshua Leonard. I could tell having his picture taken wasn't so much his thing. He seemed kind of shy, hanging back from the rest of the cast photos, and I'm very grateful he posed.

Click to enlarge.

Cast of Simple Things.

Click to Enlarge.

Left-to-right: Cameron Bancroft, Edie McClurg, Mickey Jones, Bellamy Young, Andrew C. Erin.

More cast pictures.

Click to enlarge.

Producer Tosca Musk.

Click to enlarge.

Mickey Jones, Tosca Musk, and Big Mike Griffin.

Click to enlarge.

Mickey Jones, and Sam Hennings.

Gratuitous use of full spectrum mode. No flash. I'm sure a few of the cast were looking at me thinking "she knows she can't get that shot without a flash - right"? I could have benefited from some image stabilization.

Click to enlarge.

Director Rowdy Sovall. Director Mexican Sunrise.

I wish I would have gotten to see this film, but they weren't running anymore showings. This was a picture of Rowdy - his wife and new baby.

Click to enlarge.

This thing freaks me out, and I don't know what to do about it.

Like many of you in California - you probably live on a concrete slab. We just don't do basements here. There are probably all sorts of reasons for it. Right now - I don't care why.

Now I find myself with somewhat of a crawlspace. Not a down on your belly - cave crawling space - but a knees and elbows crawl space. I never really liked it from the beginning. Even though as far as crawl spaces go, its amazingly clean. What I made up in my head about it was much worse than it was.

A few months ago - every so often I would hear this vent rattle. Heater off, nothing running. But a distinct (loud) rattling noise. So my first impulse is to kick the door - because I don't want to open that shit. I don't know what's trying to get in. Mice - raccoons, zombies.

Whatever it is - I don't like it and it has to stop. But the heater needs to breath. Now I completely understand why horror films are so effective.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Celebrity Watching.

From time to time a Film Fest swings through town. As usual - I went to take photos. Last year here.

First let me say - I actually get freaked out by these things. I'm a little out of my element. Put me anywhere near technology and I'm fine - but put me in a room with people who do movies. I freak out. And I'm not even star struck. I just feel sort of weird taking photos of these people - even though we paid to get into the event.

Freaking me out even more? I wasn't in the door a minute before a publicist spotted my camera and started talking to me. Last year - no publicists. So - I completely wasn't expecting that to happen.

This year was a bit different. It was smaller, and much harder to spot who the movie people were. Usually I have my husband as backup spotter - but even he was having a hard time this year.

Outside of Wayne Knight I was lost.

And - Wayne clearly seemed to not want his picture taken. I couldn't get a clean shot to save my life. As a matter of a fact - I couldn't tell who was more uncomfortable. Me - or him.

Really - I don't know who these rest of these people were. It would have been nice if the film literature gave a little more information on who was there.

I know the guy in the center is Koshiya Kubo. He was there last year.

In the forefront - Rowdy Stovall. Director of Mexican Sunrise.

Andrew C. Erin. Director Simple Things. You should watch the trailer. They did a really good job on the web-site.

Still not sure who this guy is.

Now I'm debating on going to one of the films on Friday - so I can get freaked out all over again. At least the literature for that tells you who will be attending.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Not a big fan.

Like all weekends... this one was well - busy.

The project? A ceiling fan. Seems simple and boring - right? Yeah - I wish.

This project has been a year in the making. Believe it or not.

When we first moved into this place we took one look at this fan and said we would just rip it out.

That was until summer hit. Then we set out to find a suitable replacement. Not only was it hideous - this thing made a loud ticking sound. I'm an insomniac. We couldn't run it at night for fear that I would slowly go insane.

So - the problem? 8 foot ceiling, over 6 foot tall husband. That cuts your choices for fans about 95%.

There are hugger fans - but I wasn't that crazy about them. And just a little rant - what the hell is it about the ceiling fan manufacturers? I'm not on a boat so I don't need a nautical theme. I'm not at my grandmothers house - this is 2007. Can we have anything that looks modern? And I don't live in a church. I don't know what houses they are making these for - but most houses are not cathedral size mansions.

Another sticking point was - it would be nice if it had a remote. You know I am going to wake up in the middle of the night - freezing.

So we looked. And looked. And looked. Expensive fans, cheap fans. It was becoming the point where we just have to choose something we didn't like.

That was until last weekend. It was a magical weekend. Everywhere we went people were helpful. A nice gentleman at OSH overheard us commenting that a certain fan we were going to buy didn't have a remote. He took us over to an isle and showed us a Universal Ceiling Fan & Light - Remote Control.

We couldn't believe it. I mean - we had looked at fans for months. On the internet, at the hardware stores. At big box stores. Light stores. I mean everywhere - and we had never seen this product.

It slips right into your mounting bracket like this:

Then inside the fan housing:

Which attaches obviously to the ceiling:

Well - after you become pissed that the contractors that built your house can't put a junction box in so its recessed into the drywall. Yes - that is a chop stick making my fan level.

And you have an oddly artistic shot of an ordinary fan.

Day after day of Oppressive Sun.

I'm pretty sure the sun is burning out. The sky often seems filled with fire this year.

This is exactly what the sky looked like. I never do anything to my photo's - which is why sometimes now with the new camera you will see an occasional dust spec.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My dumb-ass comment of the day.

So - I'm in the camera store again today. Buying a flash for the big-ass lens I just bought - and the checker is asking me if I want to get some kind of reward card. She begins to tell me I can get money off prints, and I actually say the following:

"Oh - I didn't realise you guys did prints here"

My husband looks at me - the checker looks at me. Then does a sweeping hand gesture towards the back of the store.

She sarcastically says " um - that's why we have this big lab back here".

Which I totally deserved. I'm in a feakin camera store.

The thing is - I'm not even young enough to successfully pull that kind of tard comment off. Clearly I know people used film. I guess I just got so used to everything being digital that I forgot that some die-hards still use film.

Just when I'm getting to the point of not feeling quite so out of my element just walking into the place - I go and say something stupid like that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A big thanks!

To Mommy De Gallo for letting me know my site was screwed. All should be fixed now.

I thought word verification was suppose to keep the spammies out - but apparently even they are getting past it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A crush on glass.

I never thought I would say it - but - I'm going to put up glass tile again.

I don't know what it is.. but I just can't keep away from it. So when I ran across these - I had to buy them.

You see - glass tile is easily the most complicated product on the face of the earth. And if you have never installed this stuff before there are all sorts of things you don't find out until you are in the project. This is why it took my husband and I - 10 months to do this shower. Thats right. 10 months. It was the most painful project ever.

As a matter of a fact - from planning to completion - was almost a year and a half. My first post about it.

The main issues? Light refraction as you can see in this photo.

Also a problem - depth of color. Unlike normal tile, glass tile has depth quality that you have to take into account. This makes grout color really complicated. It sort of makes the color bleed into the glass tile.

We thought we would just go with white - like we saw at the home improvement stores, but it looked horrible. Like paste. Eventually we wound up mixing our own color, but it took 17 tries to get the color match correct.

Hopefully this time it will go better. At least those bubble tiles never got stuck in my head and made me want to put them up.

Other tile posts here.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

For the love of Microfiber.

I still remember the day we bought our sofa. Well.. it was only a year ago - so maybe that is a little dramatic.

I wasn't crazy about it. Hated the color.

We had friends coming in from Seattle, and we had just moved into our house. We were under pressure to buy something quickly. So - I was probably in meltdown mode.

We had already chosen the couch -we'd given up on finding something we loved, and were ready to settle for something we didn't hate. My husband was handling the bill, and I took a quick spin around the showroom to see if there was something else I liked. When I came back my husband was prompting the salesman to show me something about the sofa material.

The gentleman pulled out a fabric swatch, and a bottle of water. He then poured it on the swatch. Like this:

At first I didn't get it.. My husband cheerfully says "it is micro-fiber - so stuff doesn't soak into it".

I'd read about micro-fiber a great deal. It was going to be the fabric of the future, but I hadn't actually seen it yet - and I didn't fully understand its benefits.

After seeing the demonstration - I was sold.

You see... my husband is a bit of a spiller. And not just any kind of spiller, but a champion spiller. He can't just spill a half full glass of water - it has to be a full mocha late. Though honestly - it has been a very long time since the last episode. The sofa has been sitting in pristine condition. Until this weekend.

We'd let our youngest bunny Saffron out of her cage to run around in the living room. She's only just discovered that she was big enough to jump up on the furniture. She started exploring our couch, playing peek-a-boo among the cushions. After a few minutes, she flopped down with her feet behind her, facing the TV set, as if she was ready to watch an afternoon of Tivo with us.

It was so damn cute, it made my husband and I go "Awwwww" in unison. It was so sweet we both need insulin.

That was until we realized that she'd just peed on the couch.

Now this girl had just come off of three months of restriction from her last bit of bad behavior: peeing on our comforter. (Restriction == not letting her on the bed or the furniture, and watching her like a hawk on the carpet) We hadn't had an incident since then, and we thought she'd grown out of it. Truthfully, all our other bunnies have become really well potty trained after they are a year old. So it's a bit of "an issue" that this girl doesn't seem to get with the program. Makes me want to rip her ovaries right out. She is the only one not neutered. And aparently - it makes a difference.

Anyway - now I am in love with micro-fiber. I would have rather tested it with a latte, than my pet peeing on it - but I was super happy to have it. It worked like a charm.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Easter! Don't buy a bunny.

Standard Disclaimer.

Rabbits are about as smart as your average cat, and as social as your average dog. If you aren't prepared to dedicate 10 years to this pet, and learn to understand complicated health problems. Don't buy a bunny.

But- it is Easter - what else am I gonna do but post a bunny picture.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Alienware does something that makes me happy.

Hey... it can happen.

First - I would like to point out that I am not someone cares much about getting something for nothing. As a consumer I am very conscience of how much things cost companies. If something breaks - I am very happy if a company makes me whole.

So - when it was determined that my graphics board was half dead,(here) I expected to get a very similar board. A GeForce 7900 series. The tech rep did say the board would be smaller, which would help with air flow. These things can run pretty hot.

We installed the new board, and it wasn't being recognized. So my husband went to look at the packing slip and realized they had sent us a GeForce 8800. The fastest board on the market.

We installed the new drivers - and now I am happily using both of my monitors. Upgrading my board was way more than I expected or hoped for.

As someone who has had a less than stellar experience with Alienware, I really have to give them credit.

Now if I can just figure out why my computer crashes when going into power saving mode - I'd be in bliss. This is a new problem since installing the board.

My customer support nerve is still a bit raw - so I'm going to give it a day or so before I tackle that.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I'd fire you all - and replace you with machines.

There are few things that piss me off more than supermarkets. Okay - maybe that isn't the truth, but supermarkets are way up there. Peoples excessive personality ticks really seem to come out in stores.

But that isn't the reason for my rant today. Today it is unions. Thats right - I said it.

This is the scenario.

I'm in my usual 10 items or less - find the fastest way out routine. I carefully check my 5 containers of wheat grass for bar-codes. Yeah - I don't know who eats that crap either. But someone must - because it is always in the store, and the healthiest grass you've ever seen.

Apparently the whole world has bunnies or people must really consume a lot of this stuff. Anyway. This is what I'm buying:

5 containers of wheat grass
1 Baby Simethicone (bunnies sometimes get air in their bellies)
1 still warm loaf of French Bread.

We proceed to the self checkout line. Now - I would not have attempted this if my grass didn't have bar-codes on them. That would be downright sadomasochistic.

I scan the first bar-code. Of course - an error pops up. The handy person manning the machines tells me they aren't in the system - and asks if I know how much they are.

In my head I think - um.... no. It has a bar-code. Thats what bar-codes are for.. to tell the checker how much things cost.

Since I don't know how much they cost - we wind up getting into another line. I make a comment to my husband that you would think that everything with a bar-code would be in their system. Anyway....

At this point there are 3 people in front of us, and we begin to wait.

After a few minutes of animated eye movement - yes, my husband and I can have a whole conversation with our eyes - a gentleman in front of us strikes up a conversation. Apparently he had been watching us.

He says the following:
"I am glad you chose not to use the self checkout machines. Each one of those things cost 4 people their jobs". He says " I'm in the union".

First - I didn't really choose not to use the machines. Second - because you are in a f-ing union - I bet 4 more checkers would not make this line go any faster.

Normally - I might have said something agreeable. But I couldn't even feign that because in my head I was having all sorts of sarcastic thoughts. So I uncomfortably laugh and don't say anything. Then - I look over at the self checkout machines. 1 out of 4 is being used.

Also note - we are in the fast checkout lane, and we have been in line for 5 minutes at this point. I look around to see if I can get into another line. There are now about 10 people behind us. Every line stretches out into the isles.

Finally the checker starts ringing us up. Well sort of. She starts calculating the wheat grass in her head out loud... and I wouldn't call her a math wiz. I look at her in a confused way because I wasn't sure what she was calculating. I really had never seen a checker not scan every item. At least not short of being in a country store. My husband finally gave her the total, and she makes a comment about not wanting to burn up the buttons on the register. she kidding me? By now she recognizes I'm getting irritated. Okay - the possibility exists she might have seen my husband and I having an eye conversation. But if she was a little busier doing her job, she wouldn't have. I mean, it wasn't like she could overhear us.. she would have to be watching us.

At this point she is looking and acting like she would rather be any place else on earth. And I have to tell you I'm not really sympathetic the company is trying to hire less of these people. If you loath being a checker so f-ing much, stop trying to make me care you are at risk for loosing your job. Because I don't.

As a matter of a fact - if she didn't make it so obvious she was working as slowly as possible to justify her barely having a pulse position, I wouldn't want to use the self checkout machines so often. But now I want to use them exclusively.