Monthly Archive for November, 2003

College Station at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Texas brings one thing: Aggie Football against t.u.

That’s what we did this year after spending Thanksgiving day with family in Houston, we drove up to College Station. It’s been about 5 years since we’ve attended a t.u. game against the Aggies, and this weekend’s game was pretty decent. Sure, the Ags lost, but who really expected them to win. The Ags played a good first half, and if it weren’t for Cedric Benson (ran 283 yards in the game), the t-sips might not have won (that guy sure can run the ball). [Read the AP Story here]

The more important events of Friday (to us) were meeting up with old buddies from our college days, and running into people we hadn’t seen in years. (The A&M game against t.u. in College Station is like Homecoming for most Aggies). Before the game we found a couple of guys that used to be in my outfit in the Corps, and a tailgate that some old buddies were hosting. We invited ourselves and enjoyed chili and beer with old friends. We bought our 12th-Man towels and enjoyed the game in some great seats we traded a scalper for. (We had 4 tickets but those seats were in the end-zone, so we traded them for 2 tickets on the 50 yard-line in row 1 — great seats — right behind the team).

After the game, we headed to the Dixie Chicken, which holds the record as the bar that “serves the most beer per square foot of any bar in the U.S.” and was selected as the #1 College Bar in America by Playboy Magazine in October 2002. At the bird we ran into a whole bunch of old Ags that we hadn’t seen in years. It was fantastic to go ‘home’ again.

Yes, Deer (a danger of driving in Central Texas)

Shit happens to me. Tonight, my best friend and I were driving out to Tae Kwon Do class (I started taking it for the first time in my life a few weeks ago). Right after the sun went down and as I was driving 50 mph or so, a deer darted out in front of me. I didn’t have enough room to react, and there was a car to my right, so I ran into the deer.

It all happened in super slow motion (think “bullet-time“). One second, we were carrying on a conversation, the next, I was slamming on the brakes while hitting a deer at 50 mph.

Then, the deer rolled up the windshield (approximate speed of the vehicle around 40 mph at this point). It hit the windshield, an antler or two broke off, and then it was gone… no where to be seen.

600 milleseconds later or so (I’m rounding) the deer appeared again mid-air about 15 feet in front of the car (I was still decelerating the vehicle) and I hit the brakes harder. We came to a stop right in front of where the deer landed. (Thank God the guy behind me had the competence to stop too).

We took a quick inventory of our persons (neither of us had been wearing our seatbelts) and looked for any personal property that might have gotten thrown around in the cockpit, sorry, car. I turned down the iPod. Then we looked at each other and then back at the deer.

The guy behind me was pissed that I stopped (he obviously didn’t see the damn deer) but I didn’t care. I got out of the car to drag the deer into the ditch (he was in the way) and took a quick glance at the dront of my 2 year old Jetta. Ugh:

Busted Jetta

We got on down the road after I got back in the car and had a laugh after I got over being pissed. My buddy and I have a history of stupid car accidents (usually while I’m driving).

Read his rendition of the event and a short history of our driving history here. See photos of the aftermath (no deer photos sorry) here.

Damn thing was only a 6-pointer too.

iPod Batteries

Seems someone is pissed about Apple’s iPod batteries wearing down after 18 months… so mad, in fact, they’re even vandalizing the iPod posters around NYC. [see iPodDirtySecret.com]

And the funny thing is, you can buy replacement batteries for the iPod for $50 … and the folks selling them have instructions for how to replace them (new model or older models). [via Jeremy Zawodny’s linkblog]

I bought my first iPod as a used 5GB model from a buddy. When the battery started wearing down, I sold it, and bought a used 10GB model. I’ve had that one for about 6 months. I expect to sell that one after Christmas to upgrade to another used 20 or 40GB model from a buddy that will want a new one then. That way, I never have to really deal with the potential battery issues, and I always have a relatively new iPod.

But, it’s nice to know that I can pick up a new battery for $50 if I really want to try replacing one.

Microsoft Office 2003

This morning, I was subjected to a rant against Microsoft Office 2003 by my wife. She hates it. I’ve never used it, so this is my recreation of her story to me.

Setting: We’re both on the couch, about to watch some Saturday morning College Football, when a commercial for Office 2003 comes on the TV.

She said something like:

“You know the new Office 2003? It sucks. It sucks because when I open a new message, Outlook decides that it needs to display the fonts in like 18, or 20 point fonts, and I can’t figure out how to get it to not do that. I’ve played with the settings for at least 3 or 4 hours since our IT department installed it, and I can’t figure it out.”

You have to realize my wife is a civil engineer, and very smart… great technical skills, and generally able to figure out on her own how to get a computer to do what she wants it to.

Then she tells me more:

“There’s this guy at the office that owns Macs at home, but is pretty supportive of Microsoft at the office because we use a lot of products that are Windows only, and he hates the new Office 2003. It just changed all the behaviors that we were used to. Why did Microsoft do that? Office 2003 Sucks™”

At this point, I start laughing, because if my wife is saying this, I wonder what others are saying? I know my best friend is flirting with switching.

She then says (totally un-prompted):

“You know that commercial when the IT guy gets asked by the guy giving the new employees a tour of the building ‘Tell them about what your department does, but keep it short’? And the IT guy says ‘We just installed Active Directory, which will save the company a lot of money’?”

I responded that I knew what she was referring to.

“One of our IT guys showed us that commercial in a presentation about the ‘new network enhancements’ that they just made, trying to teach us all about the enhancements. We’d all been using the ‘enhanced network’ for a week at the time that he showed us that commercial and we just laughed. You see, the new ‘enhanced network’ is a piece of crap. We can’t check our email from outside the network reliably anymore. We can’t get to the servers in other buildings like we used to be able to. We can’t share files as easily as we used to, and Office 2003 Sucks™. Sometimes I think IT departments make upgrades to make their jobs easier, not to make the company more profitable, becasue they don’t take into account the time and effort that the profit makers will have to exert to learn and use the new technology with the efficiency that they use the old technology.”

It’s clear that the wife’s not happy with Office 2003, and it has driven a wedge between the employees of her company and their IT department. I personally feel that change is good, but not when it’s so disturbing to the people that have to deal with it in the trenches that it disrupts their daily work. Some of this animosity by the workers that have to use the new tech could have been subdued by the IT department telling the workers about the enhancements and likely problems that might come during the ‘upgrades’ before they started rolling them out, instead of after.

And supposedly, Microsoft cares.

1440 minutes

John Porcaro posts about a presentation he attended by Bill Jensen:

“Each of us has 1440 minutes in a day. And with each email we send, each task managers assign, each report we submit, each meeting we schedule, we use up part of someone else’s 1440 minutes. Minutes someone might spend being with their kids, or playing golf, or working on something really important. Are we careful in how we use someone else’s 1440 minutes?”

Good question. I haven’t really thought about how I treat other people’s time with the tasks I assign them…

John’s post gives 4 ways to save time and effort at the office… and is a good sales piece for Bill’s new book, The Simplicity Survival Handbook. I’ll be buying it.

Back Online

The Time Warner service guys finally showed up today. After a full week, he showed up at 9:30 (right in the middle of ER) and fixed our cable connection… ugh… over 1,000 backlogged emails (700 of which Apple’s Mail thinks are spam) and 2400+ new items to read in NetNewsWire. I already feel like I missed a bunch of stuff this week.

Unplugged – Cable Modem is offline

I came home yesterday from a full weekend out of town with family to find my RoadRunner connection was dead. No amount of resettine the modem would kick it into gear. I finally called the service folks after realizing I wasn’t getting anything fixed.

So, they dispatched a service man today to fix it. He called me twice, but never left a message, so I couldn’t call him back to tell him I could be home within 5 minutes (I literally work around the corner from the house). So I called to reschedule today, and they couldn’t give me a specific time that I can meet a repair man to look at the problem. I swear that it’s just water in the lines outside the house, and if they’d just come check it, they could fix it without me at home, but they won’t do that… and, if they call again to tell me they’re on their way, and I don’t answer I’m screwed.

So, I’m feeling like I’m going to be stuck in the perrenial “service call-no answer” loop where I never actually get the cable modem back online. Argh…

The real bitch is that I really need to work tonight, with access to the internet, and I like to do that on the couch instead of at the office, but I’ll likely end up getting stuck here at the office until 9pm.

Oh, and the funny part of all of this is that I called the RoadRunner national office to ask them how to dialup when my cable modem is down, and the tech asked me “and what type of windows are you using” to which I answered “double-paned glass ones”. She didn’t think it was funny, but I did.

She then proceeded to tell me that I couldn’t dialup without the RoadRunner propretary dialer software installed… whatever… guess I won’t be dialing up with RoadRunner… and I’m sure that this will cause me to switch back over to Earthlink as soon as I have a few minutes to do the paperwork or place the phone call to make the order.

Recently Played Tunes

I added a list of recently played tunes again to the sidebar… I used the “Kung-Tunes + Amazon” code I found on eclecticism to produce my particular format of displaying the tunes. So, now you can keep an eye on my musical tastes by coming back to this site periodically to see what’s playing and what has been playing… I usually just keep iTunes playing 24/7 in the background on random, playing through my whole library of 25 Gigs of music, so there will be a lot of random stuff rotating through the list to the right. Thanks to Ado for Kung-Tunes.

Dog had fleas

I’m up at 3:30 in the morning, because my poor dog hasn’t been able to sleep very well for the past few hours… you see, I own a Bichon Frise, and he has terribly sensitive skin.

The poor guy has been waking himself up for the past few hours with violent shakes (all 12 pounds of him). His shakes don’t seem to come from any actual fleas, at least not that I can find, but rather from his memory of what it felt like when the fleas were biting him and the healing of his wounds. He had fleas last week and itched himself so badly in a few choice spots that he now has hotspots. We took him into the groomer’s this weekend and they cleaned him up really well: cut his hair really short and gave him all kinds of loving attention and a special oatmeal bath that soothed his skin, but…

After a couple of days he needs another oatmeal bath probably.

So, I got up after trying to calm him in bed over the past few hours, and we’re relaxing on the couch now…

I’m planning on heading to the vet in the morning to buy some more flea medicine for the dog and the cat, just in case they came back. And I’ll treat the yard tomorrow, just so I can be sure I’ve gotten rid of the little fuckers. I hate fleas. It pains me to see the little guy in so much pain that he can’t sleep. I feel like a horrible pet owner right this second.

Heisel: Beyond the click-through

If there is one guy I’d hire based on something I’ve read that he wrote, it’d be Chris Heisel. I’d hire Chris Heisel to be an online advertising sales person, because he gets it. Example:

Heisel: Beyond the click-through.

Well written article about branding and online advertising and its long term effects… The article is a quick read and doesn’t go into too many details, but it touches enough of the online advertising conundrum, that I see everyday in my client’s questions and then decisions, to be worth reading. I’ll hand it out to my sales people tomorrow. Thanks Chris.

On Getting More RAM for the PowerBook

I was chatting with my good friend Misha tonight, and I decided to ask him about memory pageins and pageouts (which I honestly don’t know anything about, and Misha’s the best Mac guy I know) because I’ve noticed a slight performance degredation over time with the new PowerBook (nothing too serious, just a slight laggardness in the GUI after continuous use for a week… and yes, it hasn’t crashed on me at all since I installed Panther). Here’s the how the conversation went:

John:  question: how do I get rid of pageins and pageouts
John:  besides just buying more RAM or restarting
Misha: no other way as far as I know
Misha: I thought page in/out just keeps track of how many have gone in and out
Misha: not what is currently being consumed
Misha: (so it’s just a running tally)
Misha: you should max out the RAM in that thing tho
Misha: get at least a GB
Misha: my tower runs really well with 1.75
Misha: still get pageouts sometimes tho
John:  gotcha
John:  pageouts/ins are just virtual memory right?
Misha: yea, in effect
Misha: but you know, instead of looking at #s, ask yourself is your PB is underperforming
Misha: I think too many people get caught up in #s
John:  not really, just gets slow after a week of not shutting down to restart everything
Misha: ah, then I’d say just save your money and restart from time to time

Good Advice… I’ll just shut down my machine once a week or so… Funny thing is I shutdown my Windows XP Professional laptop at least 7 times a week, and sometimes twice a day just to reset the machine’s innards because it really slows down a lot during my normal usage patterns at the office.

Halloween 2003 Photos

The Wife and I went to our first Halloween party in Austin on Friday night with a bunch of friends. We took a bunch of photos and you can see them all here (the clean ones at least — yes, it got a little raunchy). It was a fun night…

Google Error

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Google Error before, but now I can say I have. I got this message while trying to check my AdSense account:


[Click For Full Screen Capture]

I guess there’s a first for everything…