Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tivo, one month later

It has been about a month since I bought a TiVo. Although I missed 1.5 weeks of using it, that is one reason I got it.

So far I have to say it has not affected how I watch TV, but how I live my life. With the season pass option, I no longer need to concern myself with getting home to watch a show, remember to record it ahead of time, or even worry about when a show gets moved around. If I miss a schedule change, TiVo will get it for me. I can even set it to only get new shows. Bonus! This is even better than my VCR since I can have it record 2 shows at the same time.

One other thing I like is how it will fill up the space with recommended programs. This has also changed how handle my entertainment. Many times when I come I would just watch a DVD out of my Netflix or Blockbuster queue. It is better than watching some syndicated show for the 100th time. Instead TiVo gathers up programs that I may like, so I can get some variety. It also records things from off hours. I love that it gets Frasier for me at 11:00 PM when I would never watch it on regular tv.

I still have not gotten used to pausing live TV though.

Stranger Things » Blog Archive » Episode 3: One of those Faces

Stranger Things » Blog Archive » Episode 3: One of those Faces

I love Stranger Things. Reminds me a lot of the old Twilight Zone. This particular episode hit home to me since, well, I seem to have 'One of those Faces'. I do not get a lot of strangers walking up to me, I have been told I can be intimidating. However I have had people who barely know me spill their guts and, at some point, usually say "I don't know why I am telling you this." Interesting to see a story that mirrors part of my life.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The days of blogging, already out of ideas

Sad, but true.

I am just about all caught up from being on vacation. Still need to send out some emails, but otherwise ok.

One of the weirdest things is my TV has stopped receiving remote signals. Now this is not a huge deal, except that I cannot switch the TV to watch DVDs. I do not mind walking across the room to turn the TV on and off, and the TiVo handles the channel changes, but not being able to get to the DVD player is tough. No button for that on the TV. I am getting fresh batteries and some window cleaner to see if I can get it all working again. Fingers crossed I do not need a new TV.

Eyeing my bathroom for some work. There is a wall that my brother fixed for mom that needs sanded. He wanted to, but mom, for some reason, would not let him sand it. A few tile have fallen off as well. If I can get the money together I also need to replace the faucets on the sink. I love the sink, although it also could use replacing, but the faucets are 50+ years old and I could not find stems to replace what is there. I fear that I will have to replace the whole sink as well. Not a big deal, but more than I want to spend. Plus paint of course. I would love to completely replace the gray & maroon tile, but that is more than I can swing at this time. For now smooth walls with fresh paint and running water in the sink are my goals.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Interesting observation

Since my car was in the shop most of the day (brakes), I got a late start on doing things. I was running around tonight and took a swing by 'stripper row' as I like to call it. Because of the zoning laws, many strip clubs have come up along two roads not far from home. With so many I find it hard to believe they can be doing much business. Tonight I got to put my theory to the test.

About 10 PM I was out and decide to take a bit of a detour. Of the first 4 I drove by, 2 seemed to be doing pretty good, one not so good and the other was tough to tell since it was in a strip mall with another bar. Turning the corner the other 4 did not seem to be doing as well. One actually looked closed, based on the number of cars in the lot and one only had 2 cars in it. This assessment is very biased and based purely on how full the parking lots looked.

Given how things have been going here in Ohio, I am surprised these places can stay open at all. I have done bachelor parties at strip clubs before and I do not get the appeal. Apparently though enough people do find it interesting.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


For those of us not up to writing a novel, NaBloPoMo is right up our alley. For the month of November you need to post a blog entry every day. For a slacker such as myself this is encouragement to get out and do some writing, but not quite the hunk of writing that is needed for the NaNoWriMo that is also going on. Wonder how many people are doing both?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just in time for Halloween

Although I am not a huge horror movie fan, I have seen most of them thanks to my mother's & brother's obsession with them growing up. Plus, I was an avid role player in my teen years, so I have seen my share of shambling zombie death.

However this was a little too real for my liking. Yea, overall the probability of zombie hordes wanting to dine on my brains is low. But it was laid out a little to logically for me to over look.

Thanks to Mac for pointing it out to me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

pesky'apostrophe: always better than an unexpected period.

pesky'apostrophe: always better than an unexpected period.

Being 6' tall and a guy most people don't mess with me. I also keep aware when walking alone, so I can avoid a bad situation.

The karate teachers at the local community center used to offer a self defense class for women. They came in with all the pads (much like you see on TV) and hung paper over the windows so the women did not feel on display. With the pads the women could really hit, kick, scratch, throw, etc. the guys around. Lots of confidence building.

Even if you can't take a class, carrying yourself with confidence and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way to not having problems. It sends out a "don't mess with me" vibe that will push those that want to harm you away. If you are fearful, people will sense it and prey on it.

I'll have the double-fudge fritter, too, please -

I'll have the double-fudge fritter, too, please -

A guy who gets service. I wish Best Buy would get it. I don't want a trial magazine subscription. I find it a huge disconnect that a store that makes most of its money from TVs, DVDs & music even offers books for sale, let alone some weird advertising scheme with magazines.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Life in the cloud?

Over the years I have fought putting large parts of my life 'on the cloud', aka on the Internet. In part it is a control issue - I like knowing where my data is, who has their fingers in it, etc. Even after hearing the easy of machine changes that Adam Curry went through: Between GMail, Flickr, etc. he really did not loose much.

The breaker for me was loosing a semi-important spreadsheet. I had it on a thumbdrive that I carried around. Somewhere along the line things got out of sync, the thumb drive lost (and then found again) and in general it all became a mess. I decided to throw the sorted out worksheet into Google spreadsheet in an effort to avoid this mess in the future.

Working with Google spreadsheet has been good. Granted I'm not exactly pushing the envelope of power, using more as a poor man's database than for what spreadsheets were really meant for. I did upload a spreadsheet that does a lot of adding rows & columns and so far it has had pretty good performance. This may not be for everyone, but for typical home use it has more than enough horse power.

Right now I am so tired of having an address, or an email, or whatever, on my home computer, or on my work computer, or on a thumb drive that I can't put my hands on (probably because I left it at work) that I figured it is about time for me to consider moving parts of my life off the laptop and into the cloud.

The first obvious thing to move is email. Right now I have 5 or 6 email addresses. Most forward to one account, although I am too cheap to pay to get Yahoo to forward. I am playing around with GMail now. So far I like the interface. Yahoo and even my ISP's internet email tries to emulate what happens on the desktop. The web needs a different interface and GMail seems to have the best one. I still need to work out some labeling on some emails. I get a lot of emails from geocaching that I do not need to deal with immediately. I am still also getting used to the whole conversation way of dealing with things, but it does look slick.

I have also signed up for Twitter. I have to admit I did not get text messaging until I started to monkey around with Twitter. I still am not setup to Twitter from my phone, not sure I could ever get used to using just 9 keys for typing. However I do think that constant internet hookup is part of the key to living in the cloud. It would be nice to be able to check my Netflix Queue while at a video store. The way people are getting Twitter to work with other services I can see where SMS (aka text messages) could be a simple and quick interface to the cloud. I guess the next step would be to get a phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard (hey, don't ask me to give up ALL my ways at once), SMS & internet.

I am looking to move other parts of my life to the cloud. I am not sure how much I want to move up there yet. Right now I am typing this entry from Blogger's web interface instead of using a local web editor. I guess that is some progress :).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Real Life Mouse Trap

Ok, not a real mouse trap, but this so much reminded me of the game Mouse Trap. Someone had WAY too much time on their hands.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wil Wheaton's PAX Keynote

 Original post


Ok, I admit that I am not much of a gamer these days. I was never much of a computer gamer - my reflexes are too slow for shoot 'em ups and long adventure games just don't interest me anymore. Trying to scrape up people for a role playing or a board game is tough. I was dabbling in collectable card games, but at the time it was almost a full time job just to keep up with everything just in Magic:The Gathering. Not sure if that has changed.

I finally got around to listening to this talk. Even though I am not much into gaming today, a lot of what Wil talked about in his gaming life mirrored my own life path. Gaming, for me, was a huge socializing experience. Could have been playing Space Invaders after our bowling league, sitting around playing various games on the Atari 2600, hacking & slashing our way through the latest D&D module or sitting around playing a huge multi-player M:TG game. Who won or lost was never important. Well, at least not after 5 minutes :). It was social. We spent more time talking, eating & drinking than playing sometimes. And that was OK. 

He concludes the post with some advice for online gamers, but goes for everyone:


One of the core messages of my speech was "don't be a dick" when you play games online, and a lot of people told me how glad they were to hear that. I think I may just go ahead and make it my new motto:

Wil Says, "Don't be a dick!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blockbuster Drops E-coupons for Some


It looks like Blockbuster is also dropping e-coupons for some members, while grandfathering others. Blockbuster Drops E-coupons for Some
Mon, 20 Aug 2007 21:16:26 GMT

I am one of the "grandfathered" plans, so far.

My first thought on this was 'are they that stupid?' However when you think about it with the Total Access program, do you REALLY need another rental each month? As it is I sometimes have trouble using my free rental, free 'favorites' (old movie) & exchanging in all my movies-by-mail to get new ones. Throw in my gold rewards program (also grandfathered I believe) where I can get a favorite for each new release I rent Sunday - Thursday and I rarely pay full price for a movie.

But I do not want to give up those free rentals. They do help fill in when I have nothing to return.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

UI Stupidity

I was nosing around Twitter since I just setup an account there. I hit the Design page and saw......hex numbers? Not real helpful. I HATE working with colors this way.

The Joys of Budget Billing

For years Dominion East Ohio, previous East Ohio Gas, offered budget billing to its customers. This allows us to average the $300+ bill in January with the $20 in July. Although some complain about the $1000+ bill at the end of the year, I & my family have never had a problem with it. Dominion has also gotten better at estimating, and adjusts the budget quarterly instead of annually as the did.

One downside though is it takes awhile for them to figure out things have changed. I had my furnace replaced a few years back. I went from what was estimated at an 80,000 BTU gravity furnace to a 20,000 (as I recall) BTU high-efficiency forced air furnace. The first winter my budget as $125/month, in part because of expected high energy cost from hurricane Katrina. The spike in price never happened. Add in a mild winter & my keeping the house on the cool side (65 while I am there, 60 while I'm not) and I built up a bit of a credit.

In fact since I have yet to get a replacement dryer my current bill is < $20. I just checked and I still have a $300+ credit on my bill. And that is after NOT paying anything for at least 4 months, and only paying $25 on my budget before that. I'm guessing I will finally catch up this winter, unless they do something wild with my budget again.

IPHONE BILL - The Stupidity of it all


I came across this post from Gary about iJustine getting a 300 page phone bill. Primarily from her 30,000 or so text messages. For an old fart like me that seems like a lot of texting. My thumbs hurt in sympathy ;). She does explain what seems like a high number of texts in a follow up entry.

Even as an e-bill this is stupid. If you are on an unlimited plan why can't they summarize the number of text messages per day? Someone pointed out that AT&T does that already with unlimited internet usage. Same goes for cell bills. My brother gets unlimited nights & weekends (and to his wife) with Sprint. He gets a detail for every call made that falls into his unlimited plan. Why? A summary of the minutes falling into 'unlimited' would be fine. Detail anything that would fall outside of that. Has anyone REALLY looked at each number they call on a cell bill?

I finally got my first bill from AT&T in a cardboard box containing 300 pages of it. Apparently, they give you a detailed transaction of every text message sent and received. Completely unnecessary.

Sign up for e-billing! Stop the madness!

[ repost? ]

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 07:27:43 GMT

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Code Monkey

I've been sitting on this for awhile now only because there was a warning on the link I had and I wanted to wait until I had some time at home to watch this. Nothing I think would get you fired, but some workplaces may have problems with 1 scene. You've been warned.

I loved Jonathan Coulton's song Code Monkey. Never even thought to see if was available through places like iTunes. Doh! Actually he has many places to pick up his songs & albums. Added to my list of things to buy.

Actually I never connected Jonathan with Code Monkey, or his folk cover of 'Baby Got Back' which I have heard on Coverville. Never connected these were the same singers. One of the side effects of having music in the background I guess.

The reason all this has come up is I was recently catching up on a video podcast that had an interview with Jonathan and one of the things talked about was the  Thing-a-week project. Now over, you can still pick up all 52 songs he wrote over the course of a year for free.

I find the Thing-a-week project interesting. It sounds like a great way one can focus on honing a skill. Song writing makes this easy - one new song a week. Most creative outlets could do this - one new story, painting, photo, sculpture, etc. a week. Really anything that can give 1 complete something in 1 week's time would be ideal for this.

Wonder if I could apply this to programming? I am a code monkey after all :).


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Natalie Portman, cognitive neuroscientist


Natalie Portman is best known for her roles in Hollywood movies like Star Wars, Cold Mountain and V for Vendetta. What is less known is that she was co-author of a scientific paper on the neuroscience of child development. This is about her research.


Source: Natalie Portman, cognitive neuroscientist
Originally published on Mon, 18 Jun 2007 22:03:54 GMT by vaughan (


Very cool! Not too long ago, relatively speaking, Danica McKellar had coauthored a math proof. I find it interesting that these people better known for acting are also in science. Maybe this will break down some stereotypes about scientists. I realize that people in the hard sciences need a creative streak - I have seen it first hand. Many play instruments, draw or even write poetry.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Well, I did not die

It has been awhile since I entered anything here. I have been trying to get back into something the resembles my usual routine with no real luck. Add onto that another dead laptop and you get no blogging for a wee bit.

Today I was out and about Geocaching, which has been taking up more of my time that I should allow it. I am very close to getting my goal of 400 caches this year, so I have upped my goal to 600. Last time I checked, I was about 30 caches behind my total number of finds last year and we still have 6 or so months left in the year. This year I am going after some caches that require more walking, but I am still going to be doing some 'number runs', particularly at Midwest Geobash. Even melting at Geowoodstock 5 I was able to get 20 or so caches for the weekend.

I have been getting back into walking, although not every day. I did cut my goal back to 600 miles, although at this rate that will still be tough to get.  I am getting somewhat better at it, but I still have trouble getting out every day.

The biggest change of late is that I signed back up for tai chi. I have not been to a class in over a year due to various schedule issues. I can tell too, I do not sleep right and the stress level is higher than normal. I am sure that I will be a walking muscle cramp after the first class or two, but I will get into the swing of it.

Well, better wrap this up now. I am currently doing laundry at a laundromat and the laptop battery is looking a little low. Hopefully in the next week or two I can get a dryer and start doing laundry at home again.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How DVD-by-Mail is Helping the Environment


AskPablo has done the math on the environmental impact of sending one billion DVDs throught the mail:

So the total emissions from sending one billion DVDs to its customers is 320 tons (3,200,000 tkm x 100 g/tkm). Keeping in mind that those DVDs are also returned to the same facility we need to double that result to 640 tons of CO2 emissions. If Netflix wanted to offset this amount, which I hope they will, they could do it for around $4500 with DriveNeutral or $8448 with Native Energy.


Source: How DVD-by-Mail is Helping the Environment
Originally published on Tue, 27 Feb 2007 18:18:01 GMT by mikek


There were two things not taken into account in his the calculations by AskPablo, or at least two points not in the original post.

1) The assumption was that most people are within 1 shipping day of a NetFlix center. That maybe true, however at least half of my movies no longer come from my nearest shipping center. Still a lot better environmentally than even the 3 DVDs/trip number listed in the original post, but the numbers above should be bumped up to account for that. Also there is an assumption that every time you went to a video store you actually got movies and did not walk away empty handed.

2) Exactly how big of a store would you need to store the 60,000+ videos that NetFlix has? I have no idea how many titles my local Blockbuster has, but I would say 10,000 would be at the very high end. Probably more like 5,000, and maybe even less sense the games are taking over more and more of the "favorites" (AKA old movies) section of the store. From my experience, few people rent videos multiple times - it is either once or the DVD is purchased. Even when people re-rent a DVD, it is many times because there is nothing else in of interest (see the end of #1). With dwindling demand for older titles the stores and either a) shrink in size or b) carry more of what the customers will use, minimizing fruitless trips (again, see point #1).


I don't see video stores going away any time soon, but this makes a good point.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Moon the RIAA

<a href="Bum Rush The Charts"><img border="0" src=""/></a>


Tired of $20 CDs that have maybe 2 good songs on them? Remember when it at least seemed like the audience was thought about when music was produced instead of playing to the lowest common denominator? Think American Idol is a cancer on humanity?


It's time to stick it to the man! Bum Rush The Charts is an attempt to get an indie-band to the top of the iTunes best selling chart. The group selected, Black Lab, has been dropped twice by big labels. Please follow the Bum Rush links to read more about it. They are even setting up an affiliate link to help fund a scholarship.


We can show that music does not have to be distributed by "the man" to become popular. Maybe then artists will think twice before signing with a big label.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Brain Overload


Tell me, please, when exactly it is OK to park here?

Complicated street signs

This is perhaps the most complicated set of parking rules I have seen. I am glad that a) I do not have a car, and b) I do not live anywhere near these street signs!

Source: Brain Overload
Originally published on Fri, 23 Feb 2007 17:30:00 GMT by micahel

My eyes! My eyes! I thought international tax law could be complicated. My advice: Don't bother parking unless you enjoy paying tickets.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Contaminated Peanut Butter


It looks like I'll never be eating Peanut butter again, but it's not b/c of Salmonella:

"While rodents and birds commonly get into peanut storage bins, germs are killed when raw peanuts are roasted. When making peanut butter, the nuts are again heated — above the salmonella-killing temperature of 165 degrees — as they are ground into a paste and mixed with other ingredients before being squirted into jars and quickly sealed."

I know, I know, this is probably mild in comparison to other gross stuff that happens, but once you *know* about it, it's hard to get it out of your mind.  So much so that I'm

Source: Contaminated Peanut Butter
Originally published on Fri, 16 Feb 2007 01:52:31 GMT by William

I can fully understand his point of view, however given the FDA's guidelines for chocolate that I found knowing that rats get into the peanuts before they are roasted is child's play. I know it is even worse for things like hot dogs. Having read The Omnivore's Dilemma I can say this is small potatoes.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I blog, therefore I am (0 comments)

Originally published on Wed, 24 Jan 2007 21:22:06 GMT by (Wil Wheaton)

Think Geek has a new T-shirt design that is near and dear to my heart: Blogito, Ergo Sum.

I guess I am not given how long it has been since I have blogged. My work machine went caster's up a couple of weeks ago and I am just getting around to installing Microsoft Live Writer. I am upgrading some data, which is about as much fun as watching paint dry. I was looking through my feeds and I came across the above post from Wil Wheaton. I need to get one, which should inspire me to blog more often.