Archive: September, 2007

Charges dropped against guy arrested at Circuit City

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 28, 2007, 11:01 AM | comments: 2

Not surprisingly, the guy who got arrested at a Circuit City for not showing his receipt and not showing the cop his drivers license (because he legally didn't have to), had his case dropped.

Two things bother me about this case, where he was really only guilty of being an asshole. The first is that they still tried to get him to waive his right to sue. That's complete bullshit. This guy was harassed by a cop who didn't know the law. The second thing that bothers me is that the guy had to spend a shit load of money to defend himself, all for bullshit charges.

It's like the DC immigrant family who got sued out of business for millions for lost pants, and they won the case! That's fucked up that you can essentially be ruined or seriously financially burdened for no good reason. That troubles me.

24 law

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 28, 2007, 10:01 AM | comments: 0

I so want to go to Georgetown Law and take the 24 Law course.

Halo 3 multi-player campaign: Wow!

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 28, 2007, 12:46 AM | comments: 0

I got all my shit together and packed, so I busted out the Halo 3. I checked my friends list, and Mike was on, so I sent him a message and we started to play the campaign together. Turns out we were on the same level, so it was a perfect arrangement.

There was much death, but we got through it. It culminated when, on this huge level, a "scarab" tank came over the building and started walking around and blowing shit up all over the place. Mike and some of the grunts weakened its joints enough to temporarily cripple it, and I managed to jump off of a crane tower to get inside of it and blow it up from the inside.

It. Was. Awesome.

I've never been that interested in multi-player death match really, and even the team stuff, capture the flag or whatever, tends to have too many people to have fun. But this was cool. Using the voice communication we were able to talk to each other about what was going on around us, and coordinate movement. All the while, we were advancing through the level and the story.

I have to hand it to the Bungie guys. The game is amazingly pretty with crazy visual detail, but they're pulling off serious network, AI and general programming voodoo as well. They deserve to have beat every one-day sales record for every form of entertainment (that's movies, DVD's, books... everything).

Coming unhinged for no good reason

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 27, 2007, 8:52 PM | comments: 5

I really let stupid things get to me, and there's this weird feeling of doom I can't shake.

First off, work isn't really bothering me in any particular way, aside from the commute. But there are other things. For example, I found a site today that, in my opinion, infringes on my POP Forums trademark. I sent them a C&D, but it's not like I can afford to sue them or anything. That really got under my skin.

Then I talked to my mom, who apparently wasn't listening when I told her weeks ago I was going to Indiana, and leaving Friday night, because she wanted to have dinner while they were in town for my cousin's wedding. Then she seemed annoyed when I said she'd have to come to Orlando when I'm down there because I'll be busy and can't block out a half-day to travel out to her. I guess that bothers me because if it was important to see me, why did she book all of her time here seeing former co-workers and friends? I don't know why I let my family's indifference toward me bother me (except when they want something from me), but I'm sure they see it as indifference toward them. There's no point in getting into that drama.

I've been all tweaked out about the event this weekend, though not any particular thing. I mean, it's essentially done. I show up, hand out tickets, get drunk in the evening.

Then there's this strange, lingering sense of impending doom that is completely unfounded as far as I can tell. Generally speaking, life is going pretty well for the most part. Job I like most (or some) of the time, lovely girlfriend who loves me, a productive streak on my own projects, etc. I certainly don't have anything to complain about.

The source of the dread I think is that I'm just conditioned to expect things to go horribly wrong. How unfortunate is that? A tinge of that comes from the fall, as it seems every other fall has been traumatic. 2001 was 9/11 and my first lay-off, 2003 was another lay-off, 2005 I was facing the world alone, I guess it just feels like something bad is supposed happen. Maybe the almost-didn't-happen IAAPA thing set that thought process into motion.

Bottom line is, I need to fucking snap out of it. Life is pretty good, now I need to grab it by the balls and make it my bitch. (That's not a very good metaphor.)

Is it worth paying for an ASP.NET app these days?

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 27, 2007, 3:18 PM | comments: 1

I've spent some reasonable time on POP Forums v8 lately, after, what, talking about it for two years? I have a big old feature list that I'd like to tackle, but I've got it pretty close to feature equivalent at least. I've got a build here with lots-o-data to mess around with. It's nothing ground breaking in terms of features, though I've added quite a bit of stuff on the back end in terms of logging and security features. The interim goal was to get it to a place I could manage it, given a couple of years of experience in the world.

So as I get closer to a point where I may release it, I wonder again, is it worth trying to sell? I pondered this about two years ago but never made any solid conclusions. I tend to lean toward the, "give the source away, but license it for actual use on the honor system." A friend of mine even suggested writing up documentation or a companion book to sell, kind of as a case study.

I've thought about changing the name too, to use the CliqueSite® since I have a real trademark there. Still on the fence about that one (and it really doesn't matter if I don't give sell or give it away).

This begs the bigger question though... Is this kind of stuff even worth trying to sell? I know from trying to use stuff that other developers have built that it's almost never a good value. And I'm talking from enterprise CRM packages to special use class libraries. The documentation almost always sucks, the support is worse and it never really suits your real project goals. I don't wanna be that guy. :)

Has anyone put stuff out there and asked for money and had a good experience with it?

PowerPoint ain't got nothin' on Keynote, the culture gap

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 27, 2007, 2:41 PM | comments: 0

That $100 store credit from Apple for my iPhone has been burning a hole in my pocket now for awhile, so I strolled into church, er, the Apple Store to play with Keynote, the presentation tool and approximate competitor to PowerPoint.

I've done a few PowerPoint presentations here and there. It's not hard, but like everything in Office, you get a little overwhelmed by all of the features. Keynote, on the other hand, has ridiculously refined UI, and I found it easy to pick up on stuff quickly.

What really sold me were two features. The first is that it seems to use the 3-D rendering of the OS to move stuff around. There's a nice advantage that it has. Every Mac has decent 3-D hardware that drives the UI in the first place, so you never get the jittery animation associated with PowerPoint.

The second thing that sold me is the export to Flash. That's pretty sweet, because it's pretty common that if you speak in front of people, you're like to make the presentation available on the Internet. That's very cool.

So naturally I left the store with it, and I've got about $15 left on my credit. A brief play with Pages, which is so much more responsive and snappy than Word for Mac, indicates it's more than adequate. I was sold when I could open a Word template. Didn't play with Numbers, but for as little spreadsheeting I do, that wasn't really a consideration.

As someone who develops software with Microsoft products, I had an interesting conversation with one of the guys in the store. I was telling him how the dev tools and Xbox folks are from a different planet in terms of Microsoft, and they really made great stuff compared to, say, the Windows and Office teams. We also pondered culture between the two companies as well.

That culture gap is pretty interesting. Microsoft gears a lot of its products to the corporate world and consumers, and it's an ugly mix. Heck, even the tech crowd doesn't get Apple products sometimes, failing to realize much of what Apple makes isn't really for them (the "iPhone doesn't [feature]" tech press is especially guilty of this).

There was a geeky 21-year-old young woman working there, training a retired guy, who really personified the culture difference to me. She was geeky, had some interesting ear piercings, kind of messy hair, no makeup, not a looker by traditional standards. But she was excited about the products, conveyed credibility and generally seemed to make the guy feel empowered. Can you imagine that scene in a Best Buy with an HP running Windows?

People accuse me all the time of drinking the apple juice, and that's fine. But for me at least, I have to spend a lot of my time with technology because it's my job. When I'm not able to be social and among the living connections, there's nothing wrong with feeling good about the tools in my digital life. I get value from that, and apparently a lot of other people do as well.

Thank God: Worst parts of Patriot Act ruled illegal

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 27, 2007, 10:45 AM | comments: 0

The courts say you can't do a search warrant without probably cause under the Patriot Act. What a relief that someone finally challenged that.

The worst part is that the guy who brought the suit was wrongly accused of being part of the Madrid train bombings. He scored $2 million from the feds for that. But it very much illustrates why all of this "get the bad guys" crap without due process is so dangerous, and not American.

This is a great relief. I was starting to worry that everyone would just keep nodding and say, "Whatever you want to do, Mr. Bush."

Workin' the biz

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 27, 2007, 1:16 AM | comments: 0

Tonight was one of those nights where I realized that, while relatively small, my business does not run itself. I also realize that I can't wind down, as I lie here in bed blogging on my phone!

Diana came to my house for dinner tonight so she could help me crank through the Fall Affair registration stuff. God bless her, she halved the time it would have taken. All told, we spent almost three hours on it. Events are such a ridiculously manual process, and as much as I'd like to change that, of course I need the new site done first.

The good news is that I'm finding a lot of joy in development again. I got the e-mail queue and thread subscription stuff debuged and kicking ass tonight. That was a very important milestone for me. Now I feel like I can go back to the CB project and work on it.

My new rep from Federated Media sent me e-mail today. Remember how excited I was about them? Well, they haven't sold any expensive campaigns for me at all. But the remnant stuff pays OK, even with a low fill rate. I still cross my fingers they can do some real business, real soon.

After this event, I gotta concentrate on my IAAPA gig. Beyond that, I feel like I have some obtainable goals. Let's see if I can stick to them!

Suspended dieting

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 4:57 PM | comments: 0

I've looked really hard at my eating habits lately. I've been "stuck" lately, because I'm not substantially consuming fewer calories than I'm burning. I'm more or less on plan with Weight Watchers points, but not by much.

I'm actually pretty good at maintaining weight, just not losing it. I generally make good choices, or "good enough" choices, so I can sit in that idle spot. To continue past this plateau, I need to substantially exercise (maybe I need to take up tennis ;)) and reduce consumption.

I just don't feel up to making that adjustment right now, and make it permanent. Wholesale lifestyle change is the hardest thing to do, especially when you've got so many other things on your mind. I realize that's what life is, so if I can fault myself for anything, it's just not managing it optimally.

The good thing is that I'm OK with it for now. As long as I don't slip into the binge eating and soda drinking at work, I'm sure I can maintain. I've doubled or tripled the fiber content of my diet in the last year, so I'm not without little victories. In that sense, I'm not really taking a break from dieting as much as I'm doing what I've been doing, only now I'm not going to torment myself for not doing more.

Being sexy is hard work.

Biggest Lego set ever!

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 2:03 PM | comments: 1

Holy crap, I want this!

Lego Millennium Falcon

Yes, it's $500, but it's the Millennium Fucking Falcon! She's the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!

"I don't know what I'm doing with my HDTV"

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 12:24 PM | comments: 8

Here's a fun bit about how half of the people who own an HDTV aren't even using it right, and don't understand it.

You can probably chalk this up to the "I want a bigger TV" phase people went through. In that process, they never really gave any thought to what they were looking at on it. I mean, people thought VHS looked good enough, and I've seen countless people have shitty color and brightness too. I realize we can't all have a background in video, but come on!

Reminds me of people who take pictures and frame them with heads occupying the bottom third of the frame, and lots of sky.

Halo 3: First impressions

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 12:13 AM | comments: 5

Now that my hands hurt from playing Halo 3 for about three hours, let me give you some impressions.

First off, I watched the "making of" doc on the second disc (I didn't get the super expensive version with the helmet, just the special version). It's not actually a DVD, because they compressed the video to play it back in 720p through the console. Sweet. There is other stuff, but I haven't watched it yet. It was mostly to occupy me while eating dinner.

I've played through about two levels I think, choosing the "normal" mode instead of easy. The first thing you notice is just how beautiful the game is. They seem to have gotten out of the repeating hallway thing for the interior locations, and the outside stuff is just stunning. Lighting, textures, physics... it's all there. The dialog from non-players is so random, and seems to never repeat (good news if you got tired of "more enemy" in the first one). They even seem to have hidden goofy stuff. I went down an unexplored corridor to find a marine trying to get in a door, and the guy behind the door was like, "How do I know you don't have a brute with you threatening to kill you if you don't ask me to open the door?" It was actually a pretty funny exchange.

So far the only new weapon I've really used is the gravity hammer, which is ridiculous even though you can only use it at close range. You really do have to think about which weapons make the most sense in any given situation. It's hard too to find ways to duck and cover to avoid running into a field with 20 guys wanting to kill you. All good fun though.

I tried one deathmatch. With four players, 25 points, I got only 5. But hey, it was fun. :) It'll get easier as players are more carefully ranked and better matched, so I'll have mostly other sucky players to be matched against.

Multi-player campaign mode is pretty neat even though I haven't tried it yet. I think I'm gonna try and convince Mike to do it when he gets his.

And of course, there's the story. I brushed up on the first two on Wikipedia, and they give a very clear recap in the manual for the game. Yes, I know how it ends (or allegedly ends), and that's cool. It's still neat to see it playing out.

Overall, I'm really impressed so far. As one of the biggest budget games expected to set a new record for first week sales, it really delivers thus far.

The Wilhelm Scream

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 7:43 PM | comments: 2

I happened upon this in Wired, and I knew when I saw it in the animated short Lifted that I had heard it in most of the other films mentioned.

The Wilhelm Scream

Adam and Morgan at Halo launch

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 11:42 AM | comments: 1

Tuesday night agenda: Blow shit up

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 24, 2007, 11:30 PM | comments: 3

Tuesday we get to "finish the fight", or at least start finishing it. There's nothing quite as satisfying as blowing virtual shit up, and aliens, to blow off some steam. Even though I felt a little ripped off the way Halo 2 ended, I'm looking forward to it.

I've really let silly things get to me lately. A strict regimen of hot tubbing, video games, movies and a supportive girlfriend help keep me in the right place. It'll help when the weekend is over as well, with the event behind me. I swear someday I'm going all-electronic registration, even if it means getting nailed with credit card fees. I had one from a kid who had an illegible credit card number, zip code, phone number and no screen name. Basically his registration is useless, and I have to hope he has fifteen bucks cash when he shows up.

Any way, me and Master Chief are gonna f' up some Covenant bastards tomorrow night. Don't call me, I'll be busy.

Wound up over soda

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 24, 2007, 3:38 PM | comments: 1

One of the vending machines at work screwed me today. I mean, it's not that big of a deal I suppose, since you fill out a form and they give you money back the next day, but wow did I get angry for a brief moment.

That leads me to believe two things. The first is that I'm wound up pretty tight at work lately. I'm not sure why... well, yes I am. I just don't want to rehash the same boring shit again. The second is that God is clearly telling me I don't need the soda.

I feel like work is causing this horrible monotony that's making me crazy. Pile on a layer of deja vu as well. It's like I see things happening around me that I've seen before, and that's not good. It's really strange. The great irony is that I like some level of comfortable routine. Maybe it's just not this routine.

Listen to the bad guys, learn a little

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 24, 2007, 12:03 PM | comments: 0

I find it quite surprising that people are really pissed off about Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia.

I suppose the thinking goes that by inviting the guy to speak, you offer some kind of validation for his actions. That strikes me as narrow minded and, typical of our culture, trying to fit everything into little black and white boxes.

To me, this would be an unprecedented opportunity to learn about what makes the guy tick, in an environment that is completely different and on our turf. No state-controlled TV or sound bites or edits. This is him in the wild, and I think that's pretty cool.

The guy has a seriously fucked up view of the world, I have no doubt. Is it smart to just write that off as a flaw and move on? I don't think so. Trying to understand why he is the way he is strikes me as an opportunity to exert power over him. Why pass that up?

Geauga Lake closing == good for business

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 24, 2007, 12:27 AM | comments: 5

Traffic on both sites went very high this weekend, unusual any time of year, but especially creeping toward the off-season.

I'm surprised at how relatively indifferent I am about it all. I mean, the last two summers, working right there, I didn't go that often (and I sure didn't spend extra money there). I don't even have any strong emotional attachment to the place. Heck, I think I have more fond memories of SeaWorld than I do Geauga Lake.

Well, it gave us some good podcast fodder. I need to crash though... I'll post that bit of audio goodness tomorrow night.

Good times, as fall sets in

posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 23, 2007, 10:26 PM | comments: 8

I love fall. The house is actually a little chilly tonight! I had a pretty great weekend, even though it was pretty mellow.

Diana and I went to Cedar Point again on Friday night. It was much warmer this time, damn near perfect. We observed something cool in the fright zone. Right at 8, they had some kind of speech or poem or something piped into there, and all at once, all 30+ fog machines fired up all at once. It was pretty cool to see. Interesting that they've reached a point of coordinating the fog machines!

We got some solid riding in too. Hit Raptor, Blue Streak, Millennium Force, Magnum and Maverick. We had Midway Market, which was mediocre, and finally had fries for the first time since, well, July! Lots of walking too, which is something I really felt I needed.

Ran into John Hildebrandt on the midway, and told him I'm tired of the food prices. He looked at me like I was a little crazy, but Diana backed me up with the Orlando is cheaper angle.

Saturday was another get up late day, and unfortunately I'm still getting allergy sneezes at Diana's house. I wish I knew why. I like messing with her cats (even if Cosmo gets a little neglected). We had BWW for lunch again. At home I ended up taking two naps, while Diana read and then napped with me. I'm such a slacker, but I had been up two late nights and I think it just caught up with me.

Saturday night we went to Macaroni Grill for dinner with two of Diana's best friends, Sherry and Steve. They've got a one-year-old, and since he was born Diana doesn't see as much of them, so it worked out. Sherry is also Diana's tennis partner for doubles. Good times. Ended with coffee and a big cookie for me at Starbucks. I felt a little dirty, but hey, I haven't sold out and started drinking there like Gonch.

Sunday, more slacking! Actually we went out to a Joanne Fabrics so Diana could get yarn for a knitting project, and then went up to the Winking Lizard in Peninsula. Diana had never see the locks on the old canal, so it was something new for her to see. It got me to thinking how a lot of people don't even know what's in their back yard. There is a fair amount of cool stuff around here. If only we could get by without winter!

I didn't write a line of code this weekend, but I did spend every free night last week coding, so I needed the break. This week will be busy I think too. I've gotta pull together the ticket envelopes and name tags and all of that for the Holiday World event. My mom will be in town, but I'm not sure if I'll see them or not. I gotta call and find out.

Diana and I seem to find a lot of comfort in our company, and we can do our own things separate, but together. That's a nice feeling, and it seems there's not any pressure to be anything other than who we are. We're able to just be, and it works. No guilt games, no worry about the other being bored, etc. I don't know if I've ever felt autonomous while together. It's new territory for me.

I gotta go do the podcast, talk about Geauga Lake... :)

And all is well in Orlando

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 21, 2007, 11:54 AM | comments: 2

Bugs, threading and performance

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 21, 2007, 1:57 AM | comments: 0

This is nerdy. Look away if you can't stand it.

It's late. I'm gonna regret staying up this late, but I got into a code monkey groove and didn't want to stop.

I banged out the thread subscription feature for the forum app tonight. That's two features this week. Rock on. For the most part these came so easy to me, I suppose because I've written similar pieces before, but also because the underlying design of the app is better than it ever was. It's still not great, but definitely better.

When I started over back in, shit, some time last year, one of the things I did early on was write an e-mail queue. Nothing really used it up until now, since if the app fails to send you mail when you register, that's bad and you have to know it right away. But when you're sending out 10,000 messages, or thread subscription update notes, those have to happen asynchronously. The queue was supposed to do that.

On a small scale test, it seems to work. Perhaps I'll try it out later this weekend on the full-blown CB database. The subscription bit is less code than it ever was before, and it will only notify you once even if a dozen replies were posted. The next notification comes after you've looked at the topic. Much sexier. Of course, it's sending you e-mail when you reply yourself, which is an obvious bug.

I did run into a race condition bug though, because the mailer thread was not locking, and because the next mail could be sent before the previous was done, it might send the same message twice. Duh.

I found a serious performance issue too, and it's one that plagues the existing CoasterBuzz too. The dupe post and flood guard check is super slow, on the order of several seconds. On one hand, I could add another index to the Posts table, but I think another index would just cause more harm than good on a busy forum. I think my solution will simply be to update the user record with the ID of the last post, since both the posts and users are already indexed by ID.

I'm pretty excited about how that app is coming together, and I haven't even added anything substantially new yet. But wow does it perform better overall. Now if I could just get it done this year!

IAAPA hosed me... almost

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 20, 2007, 5:23 PM | comments: 6

So remember some time ago I mentioned how IAAPA had scheduled me to speak at the conference and trade show in Orlando this November, right? Well last night I got the printed schedule in the mail, only to find that I wasn't on it where I was supposed to be. I went online to find I was listed as a speaker, but with no associated sessions.

I e-mailed the education manager who said they made a mistake and for whatever reason I got lost in the shuffle or committees or something. Not sure how you can get a confirmed time and date that way, but whatever. He said they'd figure out something.

The crisis was averted when he e-mailed me about a half-hour later and put me on Thursday instead. The downside is that I'm not in the printed guide, so they have to find alternate means to get the word out. That could be bad, or it could be good if it ends up being an insert or extra signs or whatever. If three people show up, well, at least they get to see a sweet PowerPoint.

There is another problem though, and that's the deadline to get my materials to them, which is October 8. The week before I don't have anything on the calendar, ditto for the weekend, so I'll have to try and crank it out then.

Man was I pissed off for about 30 minutes though...

The $54 million pants

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 20, 2007, 1:25 PM | comments: 3

I don't know if you've seen the story about the $54 million pants lawsuit, but it is a very sad story indeed.

Ignoring for a moment that the justice system is not perfect, how could anyone be such an asshole? These poor old immigrants were essentially driven out of business by an asshole. It's not any more complicated than that. It's hard to have faith in human beings when you encounter crap like this.

Renewal in the fall

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 1:23 PM | comments: 2

It's strange how fall is a time for nature to wind down, for things to die (or rather become dormant), and yet, fall always seems to be a time for new things, and a renewed sense of purpose. I always feel like there is potential for something positive to happen.

I think that partly comes from living in an academic schedule for the first two decades of your life. But even beyond that, I've had many great experiences in the fall. Maybe when it comes down to it, the last two and a half years of my life have been so radical in terms of change that I just expect it now.

So as I sit outside of work, in the warm sun, I wonder what I can do, what I will do, to continue the streak of positive change.

Comfort can cause complacency

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 12:00 AM | comments: 0

When you're around something a lot, you tend to get comfortable with it. There's a certain danger in that because you build a bias over time toward the comfortable state and cease to easily re-evaluate it from time to time.

Yes, I tend to think of this as the reason that people stay in non-functional or harmful relationships. It's like living with your child. You don't notice them growing because you see them every day, yet they're obviously different in some way.

Believe it or not, the relationship was actually the secondary angle I thought of here. The first came in the context of software development. In a meeting today we were talking about how we're around our own app so much that we tend to have a hard time figuring out how to make it better. Naturally I can translate that into my own projects as well, given my lack of dedication to improving them. In those cases, they've been the same for so long that I fail to realize they could be a hell of a lot better.

But every once in awhile, you make little strides, and then you try to build on those wins. Tonight, for example, I wrote the mass-mailer component for the forum app. It came together in about two hours of coding, and it's pretty efficient. It's another thing off the list. With the thread subscription piece, which lives in that area, I think I've got something I can really use in production.

I really want to get CB done in the worst way, but I'm finding it so hard to sit down and work out the coaster and park database pieces. I don't have clear use cases in my head, I want it to be more in the hands of the users, and I've allowed it to be more complex than it really is. I'm annoyed with myself.

Fortunately, the other pieces, including the forum, are in pretty good shape. I need to get a news rotator bit in there, but that's really straight forward.

I don't know how I can continue to be comfortable with that site. It's embarrassing the way it is now.

Bamboo flooring appeal

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 3:25 PM | comments: 3

In thinking about my flooring issues, I'd really like to do it a little at a time instead of spending the big bucks to do around 900 square feet all at once. I've already removed the carpeting from the former office and it has aired out pretty well, relatively free of pee smell.

The problem is that you can't do things in pieces because it creates carpet waste. You don't just pay for the square footage you're covering, you pay for the chunk of carpet that will cover it, including the parts you cut off and waste. So for example, carpeting a hall without doing the adjacent bedroom would cause a lot of waste. When they map out your rooms, they take the shapes and arrange them in a logical way on a "map" of the piece of carpet to try and make the most of it.

I've arrived at some options though. First off, the second spare room was only soiled by Luna a little, and the carpet is in mostly good shape aside from some minor discoloration in one place. I don't think it needs to be replaced. The former office, now bare, could be easily covered with hardwood, and I do like bamboo flooring because it looks nice and is a renewable resource.

If I can find it at $2 a square foot or less, I can do the room for around $400, plus the cost of renting the funny nail gun (that's assuming I can borrow Cousin Dave's air compressor). That gets me off pretty cheap for something that adds significant value, looks great, and allows me to start using the room again. If I also buy a new mattress, I can put the old one in there and people can sleep on an actual bed instead of one of my couches when they visit!

Diana likes the idea because she loves home improvement projects. I like it because it really gives me a taste of what the flooring might be like in other rooms.

Halo 3 editions

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 3:13 PM | comments: 1

It appears they will have three different versions of Halo 3 next week. There's the plain vanilla version, with no extras, at the "normal" $60 price point. For another ten bucks, you can get the limited edition, which includes a DVD with making of stuff. For an extra $70, that's $130 total, you can get the "legendary" edition. It has the game, the behind the scenes stuff, a bunch of Red vs. Blue episodes, all of the cut scenes from all three games (including commentary from the development team), a featurette about working at Bungie, and best of all (kidding), a giant shiny Master Chief head that holds it all. How fun is that?

The fan in me wants the big one because of the composited story elements brought into one place, but that sure is expensive. And I'm not sure where I'd put the big head either. :)

HDTV stuff

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 1:40 AM | comments: 5

I've been thinking a lot lately about HD and what I'm willing to pay for, and the truth is, not much given the cost of equipment and the likely decommissioning of my BeyondTV-based, home-built DVR.

I realized that I bought a second HD tuner (HVR-950) awhile ago just to play with. Found it cheap at CompUSA or something. So I plugged it in to the DVR, with the included little telescoping antenna in the window, and was surprised to see that I could get my ABC, FOX, CBS, CW and MYTV affiliates. Basically, only my NBC and PBS stations elude me. And the best thing is that with two tuners, in the event both can tune a channel, I can record from both at the same time. And just in time, too, because House and Boston Legal will be on at the same time. Gasp!

This is a good arrangement because it's all free stuff, and if I could just figure out a way to get a better signal that doesn't involve putting something on my roof (which is against the housing association rules), I'm set.

More people in the reality distortion field

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 17, 2007, 11:58 AM | comments: 6

So now I know another two people in the iPhone club, Skydiving Jeff and Kristin. They both scored 4 gig models for $299 at AT&T stores. For both, that pricing was too good for them to pass up. That makes me wonder if Apple is missing the boat in terms of pricing, but on the other hand, they can't undercut the new iPod touch either, at risk of cannibalizing sales.

I showed some of the iPod announcement keynote to Diana, and she said she was really taken by Steve Jobs, and wanted to buy Apple stuff. That's the reality distortion field. Granted, the reality is still that the products are awfully cool, so I'm not sure how much distortion there really is exactly.

All the cool kids have Macs, iPods and iPhones now. You know you wanna be a cool kid, right?


posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 16, 2007, 10:54 PM | comments: 0

It sure is fun to just do a whole lot of nothing now and then. This was just such a weekend.

Actually, Friday night involved the Halloweekends kick off. Good times there. We got out of town by 5 and landed in the Breakers Friday's by 6. Service was lackluster, but the beer was cold. We got into the park in time to catch the first show at the Red Garter. Coincidentally ran into Tim and the marketing monkeys there. Two more beers. Caught "Tell-Tale Heart" as well, same creepy-good guy doing it this year.

And surprisingly, we got a good bit of riding in too. We got rides on Millennium Force, two on Wildcat, Iron Dragon, Maverick. I just about froze my tits off on Maverick, as it got really cold, really fast. We spent about five hours in the park, and generally took it pretty easy, taking in all that yummy atmosphere. Should have jumped on Raptor too, but we were both dragging ass after working early and such.

Saturday I think we finally rolled out of bed around 11, which is especially weird for Diana given her 6 a.m. or earlier routine for work. That tells you how tired we were the night before. She has probably the worst allergies of anyone I've ever known, and even with prescription meds, she was not well. I was starting to suffer too at her house, and I'm still hoping that's a temporary phenomenon. We pressed on and made a Target run. (We love us some Target.)

Diana got a new VCR-DVD combo, which so far doesn't seem to talk to her satellite receiver, which is not good. I picked up Virtua Tennis 3 for Xbox 360, as well as a second (black) controller. The weekend, I decided, would be about some video gaming. I had the original Virtua Tennis for Sega Dreamcast, and I loved it. Diana loves tennis, so I hoped we could both play.

On the way to my house, we filled up on BWW. Yummy. I know that shit isn't good for me, but it's good to me. I need to learn to eat half of it and save the rest for later though, because I always leave feeling all bloated and gross.

We did finally watch the HD DVD version of Phantom of The Opera. Wow is that a beautiful movie in HD. I'd really like to see the stage show again.

So Virtua Tennis 3 is way fun. The controls are just as easy as they were in the original, though it took some getting used to for Diana in terms of aiming shots, I think in part because she's never played on a system with analog sticks. It has been awhile for her! We rocked some of the Live Arcade games too, and I spent the five bucks on Track & Field. We'll see how long my controllers last!

Sunday was also a lazy day, though we got up around 9 something this time. Made some breakfast, hot tub'd in the morning sun. Diana made some marinara from some of her garden tomatoes, while I played a little RCT2 for old time's sake. Diana started to watch Sweeny Todd from Netflix, and I couldn't take it and fell asleep. :)

I'm tempted to say that it was a non-productive weekend, but I feel really relaxed, recharged and generally at peace with the world. Lots of passive entertainment, no early mornings and excellent companionship. It felt really good.

I got one hundred dollars... I got one hundred dollars... I got...

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 14, 2007, 3:05 PM | comments: 5

Apple finally detailed how to get that $100 credit for the iPhone price drop. Now I must decide what to do with this treasure.

Gosh, I really think it would suit something 30" in diagonal size.

Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 again

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 14, 2007, 2:28 PM | comments: 4

Why, oh why, would I buy a game that's now five years old, again? Well, for ten bucks at Best Buy I have a backup copy and it includes the expansion packs, the second of which I never bought. Frankly this is one of the best games ever made, and I really like the idea of having it hang around.

Alex and I were chatting the other day about this. It runs great on the Intel Macs under Parallels, and it still stands up as one of the most fun games to play. We were actually reminiscing about how we both got it from Target before the release date, even though the registers said they weren't supposed to sell it. The anxiety leading up to the game was a phenomenon.

Most interesting too is that it being a coaster game really had very little to do with its success. It was just a generally fun game all around that people loved to play. And it's staggering that it was the work of one developer. I doubt any game in history has had the production cost to revenue ratio that RCT had.

Of course, this is partly the fall nostalgia kicking in too. I'd really like to spend a couple of hours here and there creating something. It was so much fun.

I still kind of wish I had the pinball machine. Wanna sell the one you won in the contest, Gonch? ;)

It's strange how RCT3 was a total bomb in terms of game quality. Chris Sawyer, who developed the originals, had an amazingly great and well tweaked set of rules that made it fun. Aside from bringing it into the 3D world, Frontier had little else to do. But they did change the game play, and endlessly tweaked it, but never got it right. What a shame that was. Add to that the hopelessly inadequate 3D engine, and it was a disaster. RCT fans felt a great loss.

I also suddenly remembered that I have the CoasterBuzz Games site still up, and it's not going to be compatible with the new CB when I manage to actually deliver it. I'm not sure if that matters or not. The site has had zero uploads in nine months until this week. I'm a little torn.

Gaming just isn't as fun as it used to be. I really think that the constraints of older computers and consoles forced developers and designers to think a lot harder about what made a game fun. You don't see as much of that anymore.

Musical inbreeding: What Jeff is listening, fall 2007 edition

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 14, 2007, 11:04 AM | comments: 3

I love that there is so much information at your fingertips on the Intertubes. You find some pretty wacky shit sometimes.

In addition to the aforementioned State of Trance, I've been looking for new stuff to listen to. I've ordered Natasha Bedingfield's second album from Amazon, which is an import because the record company appears to be in no hurry to release it in the states. I guess people got "Unwritten"-out.

My iTunes problem finally got resolved, and I got some new tunes last night. I got the Green Day version of The Simpsons theme, because it amuses me. I also got two "old" tracks for the yearly playlists. For 1995, "In The Meantime" by Spacehog, a gloriously catchy tune where you can't understand any of the lyrics. For 2001, "The King of New Orleans" by Better Than Ezra. Loved that song, and I'm not sure why I never picked up an entire album from them. They were like a more upbeat Material Issue.

In the new category, I snagged the last KT Tunstall album because, well, after Steve Jobs put her in the iPod keynote last week, I got interested. She has a new album I think next week, but what the heck. I do love my girl singer shit. She has a certain vitality to her music that is expressed in the tone. I like that.

In the weird shit that only Jeff would like category, I got an album from Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale. It's mostly hers, and he seems to have more of a producer and instrumentalist role. Both were raised American, but very into their Indian heritage. The music on the album has that heavy Indian influence.

And that makes sense, since she's a sitar player, and her dad is none other than Ravi Shankar, the only other sitar player I've ever heard of. The album has guest shots from Sting, Norah Jones and Ravi.

And that's where it gets interesting. Norah Jones is in fact Anoushka's half-sister, because both call Ravi Shankar dad. That would make Norah Jones half-Indian. I sure didn't see that. Ravi Shankar apparently has wooed many women into bed with that sitar even in his old age.

Anyway, the album is pretty sweet (unless you're annoyed by the sound of the sitar). Some of it comes off sounding very traditional, while other tracks mix that with a more electronic flare. (Reminds me a little of Midival Punditz, the Indian electronica group I've mentioned.) If you want to open your mind to some interesting world music, give it a shot.

Happy Programmers Day

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 13, 2007, 8:37 PM | comments: 2

It's about time I had my own day.

And remember, it's the 256th day of the year. That's 100000000 in binary or 100 in hexadecimal.

State of Trance

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 13, 2007, 2:56 PM | comments: 7

Back in 2004 I got this double CD called A State of Trance 2004 from Armin van Buuren. It was a pair of continually mixed CD's of oomp-tiss-oomp-tiss-oomp-tiss music that I sampled after hearing one of the tracks on a DirecTV music channel. Trance is good for keeping you alert without engaging you too much. At least that's the case with most of it. And this van Buuren guy seems to have an ear for mixing it and improving it too.

I can remember spending a lot of productive time writing my book and writing code listening to that CD, even though there were only a couple of real stand-out tracks on there. It worked really well as background music.

So I ordered the 2007 mix from Amazon (the iTunes version didn't break it up by tracks, just two complete mixed files), and it provides more of the same. It actually calls the CD's differently. The first is "On The Beach," which is a little lighter, less bass heavy. The second, stronger disc, is called "In The Club." I haven't really decided that there are any real stand-outs just yet, but I've only listened to it through once.

That second disc actually starts with two of his own tracks, which are pretty good. His album Shivers from last year was pretty sweet overall. He should stick to creating his own junk, since most stuff in the genre is forgettable.

The Halloweekends Tradition

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 13, 2007, 11:04 AM | comments: 10

Tomorrow night begins Halloweekends at Cedar Point. For as long as I've been a season pass holder, this has been something I've looked forward to, and it's a huge part of what fall is all about to me.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing it with Diana too, and I'm really excited about that. I have so many good memories from those outings, riding Millennium Force, drinking beer at the Red Garter show and smelling the nuts that I don't actually eat. So many good times.

Of course, that got me to thinking, that this was a tradition that I started with Stephanie, and how should I feel about that? Or how should Diana feel about it? But then it occurred to me that virtually everything that I like to do in my adult life I started with Stephanie in it, so it's kind of unavoidable. I have great memories doing stuff with her, and I'm not trying to replace those memories. I've been creating new ones for the last two years that are also great, and with different people in the same places.

New this year is the parade, which runs on the afternoons, so I'm not sure when I'll first see it. I suspect it will be the day of BooBuzz, because I'm not big on Saturday or Sunday visits other than closing weekend or the event.

And the best part of it all is that it starts with jacket weather. I love jacket weather. :)

iTunes woes

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 11:41 PM | comments: 0

Someone at Apple really screwed up with the iTunes music store. This thread on the Apple support site details the problem, where people can't download what they bought. And that's just the thread in the Windows forum. There's another one in the Mac version.

I have to say, it's a pretty unusual problem, and what makes it so annoying is that, except for a few people who got the "right" e-mail from their support, they haven't come out and said, "Yeah, something is screwed up, and we're working on it." History has shown that people may not be happy about problems like this, but they're still more understanding if you're just frank with them up front.

Self-playing Mario level

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 3:11 PM | comments: 6

Tyler posted this on Facebook, but it's worth reposting...

I'd love to play through that game again if I didn't have to finish Super Paper Mario and Super Mario Sunshine already.

Halo 3 ad campagin

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 2:54 PM | comments: 0

They posted a 60-second spot for Halo 3 today, and it's a pretty neat approach. The Halo series has sure been one of the most interesting video game series in a long time, and arguably among the best in terms of offering a movie-style theater. This kind of stuff really reinforces that.

Peter Jackson was actually backing the movie version, but so far the project has been stalled on some kind of studio nonsense or something.

For me the story, thus far, was interesting because it combines some kind of archeology (the purpose and origin of the halos), politics and religion (the infighting and beliefs of the Covenant) and action. Plus, you have an iconic character, Master Chief, who frankly was ambiguous I suspect to keep him generic enough to help players feel he was their own, and yet the ambiguity is more like mystery, and that's intriguing.

The stakes are high for Halo 3, because 2 was clearly an incomplete game, and that pissed people off. Sure, it brought the sweet online play, but I love a good story-driven shooter.

I, Phantom

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 5:35 PM | comments: 2

I had the strangest dream last night that I was starring in a production of The Phantom of The Opera. That's funny, because I couldn't carry a tune in a backpack. I can't shake the imagery of the dream though, where we were in rehearsals and I was choreographing the sword fight (which as far as I know was never used for the stage show, only the movie). It was a strange space not originally used for theater, but made to work in some strange way.

I suppose it's because the HD DVD is sitting on my coffee table and I haven't watched it yet. I'll have to knock that one out soon.

Apple is not the new Microsoft

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 11, 2007, 3:38 PM | comments: 5

I noticed the PC World editorial proclaiming that Apple was the new Microsoft (via this blog), and I swear the mainstream press will print anything these days.

I've gone on record time and time again about how much I care about, and love using, Microsoft's development products. I can indirectly credit everything .NET with owning a hot tub, and ironically enough, at least $7k in Macs, iPods, software and an iPhone.

Aside from the Xbox division, which is unfortunately too focused in its reach, Microsoft has little to offer me. They become more irrelevant every day. It's unfortunate I think, because while they're doing great things for developers and hardcore gamers, they aren't doing much of anything useful for consumers at large. Having a guy at the top who dismisses everything that doesn't have a Microsoft logo on it doesn't help with the perception either.

The editorial is very nearly a steaming pile of link bait. It's barely worth linking to because it so fundamentally misses the reality of what the two companies do, or what they have in common. So, for giggles, here's why the piece is just plain wrong.

First off, there's no secret about the link between iTunes and iPods. It's not some unknown gotcha. Certainly Apple had to make some concessions to the record companies to sell music at all. But you know what? Their system works where every other one has mostly failed. If they were hell bent on keeping this "monopoly," as Elgan puts it, do you think they'd be pressuring the record companies to go DRM free? I'll refrain from citing the number of iPods sold to the number of iTunes songs sold, and how it results in a handful of songs average per iPod, but it's still a valid stat. And if consumers weren't OK with it, they wouldn't keep buying music.

And what kind of comment is this? "At least with Windows, you could reformat your PC and install Linux or any number of other PC-compatible operating systems." Who does that? And who would want to do that with an iPod? That's the most asinine "proof" of Apple being a monopolist I've ever seen. I'll say it again: Consumers just want stuff that works. Don't be a geeky moron.

There's a rant about FM tuners or something, but there's nothing to respond to there. FM was killed by Clear Channel years ago. Listen to the music you want, and download some podcasts.

He goes on to rant about pricing on all kinds of fronts, but yet he freely admits being an Apple addict. Is Apple scoring killer margins on its hardware? You bet. Of course, the analysts leave out the R&D costs for the products, but I'm sure they're still doing well. That's what I love about Apple as an investment, in that they're not trying to compete with commodity crap. Their "low end" is still a premium product for similar business lines (see MacBooks versus mid-level Dell laptops, for example).

More to the point, Apple charges what the market will bear. People pay it if they can, even when there are less expensive alternatives. Why do you suppose that is? Because Steve Jobs is charming? Perhaps, but I'm willing to bet it's more because people like the experience of using these products better than the cheaper alternative.

The "copycat" nonsense is laughable. Great, Microsoft has Surface. My ATM has a touch screen too. What does that have to do with the iPhone? A million phones sold, and Surface is, what, not even available, and not going to sell in any meaningful numbers? I especially love his mention of the Zune having Wi-Fi. Yeah, what is it good for again? That's what I thought.

Frankly, I'm thankful that Jobs is bullying people in Hollywood. That's the way it should be. Hollywood has been bullying tech with a fraction of tech's revenue for decades. That's entirely backward. Bullying the media companies to price their stuff at points consumers will stomach, that's a good thing for consumers. God knows they've been incapable of doing it themselves.

Now, the part where it all stinks like link bait: "You see, my point isn't that Apple's growing bad reputation is deserved, but that Microsoft's wasn't." So now he loves Apple. Whatever. Microsoft's reputation was well deserved for pushing years worth of crap on us. Even us developers, with years of COM+ and DLL hell and, the biggest atrocity, Visual Basic. We can overlook all of this now because in developer circles we have .NET, consumers have OS X, and geeks have Linux. Microsoft's sins are irrelevant.

Just don't for a moment tell me that Apple is getting a free pass when Microsoft was criticized. That's not comparing the same things.

Latest in the Apple cult

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 10, 2007, 11:12 PM | comments: 0

I was chatting with Julie today about iPods, because her mom is granting her one as a graduation gift (she's done in December). So she asks me why you'd buy the iPod Touch if the phone is just a hundred bucks more. And I said, well, it's an extra hundred bucks, and maybe you don't need the phone. She made it really complicated!

Then there was that discussion in the aisle again today about how the various geeks don't have to support various family members who have Macs, because, you know, we hate being tech support. Even the guy who tends to mentor me on various projects is coming around to the simplicity of the platform, despite feeling it was "dumbed down." He's finally getting that it's not dumbed down, it's just simple, the way it should be.

My MacBook Pro continues to behave. No sudden death at all.

The $100 credit for my iPhone is already burning a hole in my pocket, and last I checked they haven't even said how to claim it yet.

I ripped a couple of DVD's from Netflix that have been sitting on my desk for two weeks, and I'm pleased to see that the newer version of Handbrake rips at warp speed, using 375% of available CPU power. That's awesome.

And oh yeah, I remembered that the real song called "Photograph" in my library was by Def Leppard, not Nickelback. :)

Feeling 50% for the weekend's adventures

posted by Jeff | Sunday, September 9, 2007, 11:00 PM | comments: 2

Friday I felt pretty silly when I realized that trying to get work done while sick was pointless. My project wasn't due for QA this week, it was due next week. And furthermore, it scares me that I'm almost one of those people. I care about the company more than I'm willing to admit.

Anyway, being sick all week, I wasn't sure exactly how things would go for the weekend, especially because the last thing I wanted to do was get Diana sick. But we took a chance, and she came over Friday night. It was hopefully a break for Diana too, who had not been sleeping well after a murder in the house diagonally behind hers earlier in the week. Everyone was on high alert (more on that later). I bought some Alfredo sauce in a jar, which I'm always skeptical for, but it wasn't bad. Combined with some wheat fettuccine that didn't taste like wheat pasta, it was pretty good. We watched The Wedding Crashers as well, because Diana had never seen it.

Friday's neck pain turned into Friday's sleepless night. I was waking up about once every half-hour or so. It seriously kicked my ass and made Saturday a lot less exciting.

After Diana worked for the morning, a rare but annoying arrangement for her, we went to Cedar Point to make her an official season pass holder, and introduce her to my "family" there. She met the whole range of cats that I work with and hang out with, including the Walsh's, still some of my dearest friends after a lot of years. I had some work to pick up there too, but fortunately Diana was entertained by the blogging sensation while I took care of that.

We went to dinner at Famous Dave's, and also met up with Kara. I miss talking to her as regularly as we used to (since she's too cheap to actually pay for her own Internet access), but I admire her so much for the way she loves her job. For as much as I dish out reality checks to her over some things, she does the same for me in that respect, reminding me about what matters when it comes to work.

Some nasty rain came through while at dinner (and we saw the debris on the mainland everywhere), and then we headed into the park, where pretty much everything was closed. I guess what the kids on PointBuzz are saying is true about the over-cautious closures. We hung out in the Town Hall Museum while the rain let up, then did Skyhawk. The ride scared the shit out of Diana on the strongest reverse swing, which I totally get. I think we'll get her on it again though.

At this point, I was getting cold from the rain and my shoulders were killing me, so reluctantly I thought we should bow out for the evening ERT on Millennium Force (which became Maverick). That actually worked out for Kara, who obviously had her first ride just that afternoon since she's a resident of the Twin Cities now.

The drive home Saturday night was a little crazy in heavy rain. Given my recent allergy issues at Diana's, we ended up going to my house. I was sooooo tired. I would've liked to have spent more time in the park and with Kara and Timmay, but I didn't have it in me.

Another night without good sleep, but at least I could sleep in. We started our day with whirlpool therapy, which smelled funny after I accidentally dropped too much shock in the tub a couple of days ago. For the afternoon, we had a birthday party to go to for Diana's best friends' son, who turned one. I was practically the walking dead at that point because of an allergy pill I popped. I barely remember being there!

Our final adventure for the weekend involved some pizza and the final for the US Open. I saw the first set and the end of the third, but mostly drifted in and out. But I wasn't sneezy, so yay for allergy meds!

After celebrating the end of the pro tennis season, there was a knock, or rather a beating, on Diana's front door. The old neighbor across the street was checking to see if everything was OK, because the other neighbor heard screaming coming from the house. You know, high alert from the murder. Awkward. No more celebrating for us with the windows open, I suppose.

Right now, the shoulders hurt a little, but I think I can sleep in most any position, and that's important. I can't be 50% anymore. I don't want to be sleeping on and off all the time. I just want to be back to normal!

Nothing on the calendar next weekend except Halloweekends goodness.


posted by Jeff | Saturday, September 8, 2007, 2:28 PM | comments: 2

Why do we sometimes hate beautiful people?

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 7, 2007, 5:38 PM | comments: 1

My last post just got me thinking. Why do we sometimes hate beautiful people? I admit, the Barbie look isn't really my thing, but unless I was gay I probably couldn't write that girl off as completely unattractive. I also find myself making remarks about random attractive people in public and on TV.

I gotta say, I don't like myself very much now that I think about it. Sure, it can be argued that attractive people get more with less work, but should they be penalized for it? I would say no. I guess now that I see myself doing it, perhaps I need to adjust my own attitude.

Get off my plane with your fake boobs!

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 7, 2007, 5:31 PM | comments: 7

Southwest tried to boot a girl with fake boobs off of a flight. I've seen some really dumb shit go on at airports, but I gotta tell you, this one is pretty ridiculous.

Is this chick really guilty of being anything other than recipients of implants? (The article doesn't say they're fake, but come on, who has boobs that big and is that skinny?) She's not even showing "too much skin" as best I can tell. Her cleavage is mostly covered up. I've seen more legs on teenage traveling soccer teams, and on a Southwest flight no less.

So other than the attendants apparent feelings of inadequacy, what was really the problem?

I guess if you allow girls with big boobs on airplanes, the terrorists win.

My neck is killing me!

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 7, 2007, 11:00 AM | comments: 4

I've had stiffness and weird pains following flu-like sickness, but this is ridiculous. My neck is absolutely killing me today. Turning my head while driving was downright painful, and I can't seem to get comfortable sitting here this morning at my desk.

Of course, I naturally worry that it's something really serious, but checking WebMD, I don't have any of the other symptoms for meningitis, so I think I'm OK there. It does say neck pain is a common symptom of the flu, which is presumably what I had given the range of symptoms.

I can turn my head about 30 degrees in either direction before it just hurts like a sonuvabitch. Not good.

I'm really tired of being disabled.

I'm this too

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 7, 2007, 12:16 AM | comments: 0

I've had a lot of relationship talks, and talks about stuff people have done in life lately. It's pretty easy to get all retrospective and nostalgic.

There's an interesting theme though in these conversations. Through the course of one's life, some people will say, "I was this" or "I used to be." Honestly though, if you've really embraced your life experience, and are honest about it with others, shouldn't you really be saying, "I'm this too?"

I'm a radio DJ. I'm Caity's favorite coach. I'm Stephanie's former husband. I'm a TV equipment monkey. I'm an Ashland University graduate. I'm a coaster nerd. I'm a product of Cleveland schools.

Yes, today I am what I am, but I'm all of those other things too. I guess what I really mean is that we all have a history, good and bad, that doesn't always define us, but we do carry it with us, for our entire lives. I choose to embrace it, and even celebrate it. I'm proud of it. I've enjoyed it, learned from it, been saddened by some of it, but it's all mine.

$100 of Apple money

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 6, 2007, 5:25 PM | comments: 6

So what do I do with the $100 I get back from Apple?

Alex made the good point that it's a good amount to get Leopard when it comes out. Although I'm a little surprised they still haven't announced a firm release date.

Shocker: Bush knew there were no WMD's

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 6, 2007, 12:27 PM | comments: 0

Not sure why people are OK with the fact that the leader of the free world tends to lie about things that are not things you lie about.

My furry companion

posted by Jeff | Thursday, September 6, 2007, 9:29 AM | comments: 2

Sick, and not just because of the iPhone price

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, September 5, 2007, 6:02 PM | comments: 5

I stayed home yesterday because I didn't feel up to par, and was even willing to chalk it up to exhaustion (because, you know, driving is really hard work). But I got out of bed this morning and went to work because I felt more or less OK.

I guess I couldn't have really known, but boy was that stupid. I was there less than two hours before the body started giving me signals that something was not right. So I drove back home. The weather was beautiful, but I barely noticed it.

By 2, I was in the full blown shivers with two blankets on top of me. Ugh. Your brain does weird shit to you like that. I thought about throwing in a DVD or something but instead just kept my eyes closed, which was probably a bad idea. I had the weirdest semi-awake dreams about all kinds on nasty things I don't remember.

At 4:30, Diana called me, and she's bringing supplies and playing the role of dutiful girlfriend. I don't know why I feel so bad about that other than the fact that I know I'm a big baby when I'm sick.

I think I'm about done with the shivering and my brain is semi-functional. I suppose the sweats are next.

I know I blog about it every time, but I don't get sick that often. The last time was in April, and it was barely 24 hours (while I was in Orlando). Then before that was in October last year while I was in Columbus to see Blue Man Group. I think prior to that was the Venetian funk in March. I'm thankful it isn't that frequent.

Though one must wonder... why do I get sick before during or after travel opportunities?

And yeah, I paid $100 more for a 4 gig iPhone than the current price of the 8 gigs. Alex paid $200 more for his 8 gig, so he got used harder. At least the price and specs of my Mac Pro haven't changed in the year that I've had it.

Technology is cooperating with me

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 4, 2007, 11:43 PM | comments: 2

I felt like crap today, and didn't go to work. I was suffering from some mix of allergies, feverishness, and a blocked ear. Sinuses have been high pressure since yesterday. Any of these things individually would probably not have been a big deal, but together they kicked my ass.

So when things started to go down hill last night, I powered up the MacBook Pro and crossed my fingers. It has been generally working ever since. It was on and in quasi-use most of the day while I remained horizontal. Not a single shut down. Hopefully things will stay that way.

And while I never got that motivated to do much of anything, I did start to play around with some color schemes for CoasterBuzz. I think I settled on something that I like. Applying that color and style makes even a shell of a site feel more real to me, so hopefully it'll motivate me to continue working on the code now to make it functional. It's not even funny anymore the way it takes so long for me to do much of anything.

I have to tell you that the computer cooperating really makes me feel a lot better about a lot of things, because it's such a focus for what I do in my spare time. And when I'm down and on my back, it makes an even bigger difference.

I'm off to bed, as I'm all achy and tired. I sure hope these symptoms don't persist much longer.

Take a day off!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, September 4, 2007, 6:00 PM | comments: 5

I found this article to be fairly disturbing. I see one like it every few months. This particular item jumped out at me:

There are a number of theories about why Americans don't demand more vacation time: fear of leaving work that will pile up in their absence; fear that other employees will show more devotion to the job and get promoted above them; a distaste for relating to a mate and children outside of their tightly structured lives; and they've been convinced that economic success depends on subservience to employers who control their work lives.

The worst thing about it is that I know people who 100% buy into any of these factors and combine them with a sense of duty and obligation to some ridiculous ideal associated with being a good person.

What the hell for? Are people living in so much fear of losing... something... that they can't break out of this cycle?

I can't totally pretend that I've always been immune to this. I remember being fairly depressed when I got laid-off in 2001. I placed so much of my own self-worth in my job that not having one, or not being able to find one, just ripped at my self-esteem. In a way though, it was that experience that eventually led me to believe that depending on The Man for validation, both emotional and financial, is a sure way to be miserable.

It's easy to write off what is being said in that story with, "I have a mortgage and four kids to feed." I really can sympathize with that. At the same time, I believe you are also free to make choices that can change things.

It has been my experience that working the long hours and enduring a lot of stress, without taking that vital time off, or even asking for that time off, is no way to live. That's just not what life is about. I think it's about love, getting in touch with yourself, connecting with others and really doing your thing. Work can help empower you to experience all of that, but only if you stop working long enough to do it all.

Some people have jobs that really feed their souls. I'd say mine does maybe 50% of the time. (And at least in my case, The Man drives a hybrid and does not appear to be an idiot.) Obviously I need to fill the rest of that soul hunger in other ways, and you can be damn sure that when 4:45 rolls around every afternoon, I'm out of there to "eat."

Work to live, not live to work.

Hot volleyball action

posted by Jeff | Monday, September 3, 2007, 4:30 PM | comments: 0

I really don't know why I waited so long to go see a pro beach volleyball tournament, but I really wanted to see the beach dream team, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh before they stopped playing together. Not that it appears as if they're going to break up any time soon, but you never know. They've had a pretty amazing run so far.

The closest tour stop this year was in Cincinnati, at the Lindner Family Tennis Center across from Kings Island. Diana had just been there about two weeks ago to see a tennis tournament (the men) on the last stop before the US Open in New York. She was pretty amazed at the difference in atmosphere.

We seem to have redeemed a lot of karma points or something. First we were parked right by the gate on the first day, and on the way in, a couple randomly gave us their two extra VIP tickets. That included many free drinks, seats under the canopy, and a whole lot of Pringles, which was sponsoring. We got a free meal too, but did not redeem it unfortunately. And we couldn't use it the next day either. We even found seats right at the front of the VIP area. It was just one good thing after another for us.

And it was ridiculously festive. I remember that the AVP was in serious financial trouble several years ago, but I think they've really turned it around. They have the right mix of sponsorships, ticket pricing, free stuff and marketing to really succeed. It also helps that they have two superstars, which will hopefully tear it up next year at the Olympics. The only thing I can really fault them for is not having more dates in Ohio, which is probably second only to California in volleyball popularity.

We ended up seeing three matches with the Misty and Kerri, the quarter, semi and final. They seem to get off to a slow start, but by the second game, they completely dominate. Very fun to watch. While I still like the indoor game better, it is fun to see a team that thinks and is well beyond the hit it hard to win mentality.

We also saw the mens final on Saturday night. It was a close match, but it's not as exciting as the women. What was cool is that they had a little tribute for Karch Kiraly, who is retiring this year after 26 years. He's the undisputed King of The Beach. He's been injured, so he couldn't play, which is a bummer.

We stayed at this bed and breakfast called the Kirkwood Inn, which is actually more of a motel with a breakfast house. It was OK, even for me the hotel snob. We didn't really spend any significant time there anyway, and the price was right, under a hundred bucks. Not bad for a holiday weekend near Kings Island.

Overall, the AVP made me a fan, and I look forward to seeing them again. Maybe next time it'll be the tournament at Caesars Palace!

Lots-o-photos on Facebook.