Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Caffeine withdrawl (again)

I really like coffee. A lot. If I had my way, I'd probably drink several cups of it every morning, and enjoy every one of them. Problem is, I get hooked on caffeine easily and this gets very bad if I ever skip a day.

Last weekend is a classic example of this.

Saturday morning we get up early to explore various garage sales in the area. I didn't have coffee, and was extraordinarily grumpy for the most part. By supper time that evening I had a headache that Advil couldn't fix. That's usually enough of a warning sign for me, so once again I have to give up the good stuff and switch back to decaf.

It's been four days now, and I have not had regular coffee or caffinated soda since. (They were my two main sources of caffeine.) I still have about a cup of decaf coffee in the morning when I arrive at work, mostly because a cup of coffee in the morning is part of my routine. The worst of the headaches seems to be over, but I do miss the 'liquid-sleep' effect I got from a good cup of joe. I may have to start going to bed earlier to compensate.

Oh yeah, and if anyone likes the image in this post, I highly reccomend checking out Liquid Sculpture. It's a great site where they take high speed photos of liquid drops (if that wasn't obvious already.) And thanks Martin Waugh, for granting me permission to display one of your photos. (FYI, he took the picture and owns copywrite, etc.)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hockey game

Wounded linesman
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
Last night was pretty good. I managed to get some free hockey tickets for the local game, and a nice, home cooked meal as well.

We missed the first few minutes of the game, but that was acceptable to me, since the food was good. By the time we arrived, the home team had already scored once. Bonus!

After kicking people out of our seats, (yes really) we settled in to watching the game. The two teams were equally matched, so it was pretty exciting. However, the Vipers started to get sloppy late in the game and they let the Capitals score a couple goals to tie things up.

Stinky Players
They smelled so bad we imagined
cartoon 'stink lines' on 'em.

So into overtime we go. This is when the really interesting things started to happen. The fights got longer, players collided with linesmen, started making tired mistakes and REALLY STARTED TO SMELL BAD. I can't stress this last point enough. Look at the photos, you will see that we were sitting roughly 5 rows back from the benches, and by the third period, we were joking about drawing cartoon 'stink lines' on the players.

After the first scoreless overtime period, we went into a second O/T period, this time 3 on 3. It was a different twist on things, with a much more open ice to play on, but the net result (no pun intended) was still the same: scoreless.

But that's okay. A tie is not a loss. It's just a really long game that you don't win.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Talk like a pirate day - Sept 19

Listen up ye scurvey dogs, it's Talk like a pirate day, so don't be forgettin the formal regalia and salty speech. There are parrots aplenty, and enough booty to go 'round, so be hoisting yer cups and drinking the rum. Today's a day to be speakin' the pirate slang.

Yarr. Just so's you be knowin', it's the drinking of the rum that's me favorite part.

Hydrogen generation for existing cars

I have a new hero and his name is Joe Williams Sr.

The Montreal Gazette is reporting today about an invention he is hoping to bring to market. The general idea is this: by adding hydrogen into the fuel mix, gas burns much cleaner, and more efficiently. This means that more pollutants are burned in the chamber, and less pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Traditional problems with hydrogen have been things like how to safely store it under pressure. This invention bypasses that by only generating enough hydrogen as is needed, meaning you don't have to store any of it under pressure.

Bottom line, if you install this (or more accurately, a commercial version of this) into your car, you will notice slightly better fuel economy, but more importantly, you will have installed a system that removes much more pollutants from being released into the air. More info can be found here, although it's a bit heavy on the hype.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Return of the iBook

We finally got our iBook back yesterday.

It took TWO WEEKS to fix an ethernet connector. I like my computer, but to be honest, I'm not so thrilled about the Applecare program, and even less enthused about Simply Computing (the local reseller.)

Let's see if I can get this straight - you all know my memory is bad, and the beginning of this was so long ago. Anyway, the problem we had was the little plastic clip on our ethernet connector broke off after a year of use. I don't fault Apple for that, it was a part that did see heavy use with us. So I take the laptop into Simply Computing, so they can repair it.

PROBLEM #1: I am informed that to fix my ethernet connector, the ENTIRE LOGIC BOARD must be replaced. This is just poor design. I don't care what people normally say about Jonathan Ive, his attention to detail obviously does not include care for maintainability. All of the connectors are conveniently placed on the left edge of the laptop - why was this not made into an easily replaceable part, since it would naturally see the most wear and tear? Anyway, I told the reseller I didn't care, since I have Applecare and expect all of that would be covered under warranty. This leads me to...

PROBLEM #2: The reseller informs me that they don't have any iBook logic boards in stock. When I suggest they get one, I am informed that he CAN'T until I call Applecare Customer Support, to get a Customer Support Number, and a Case File Number. Only then can he order the damn part. I suggest taking my computer to a different reseller to do the repair, but am informed that they can get the job done much faster, since the 'other guys' have to ship the computer off to Vancouver to do the repair. What he did NOT tell me was that he would be ordering the part from the US, and that it would have to clear customs before it would get to his store. Since the other guys consolidate all the repairs in one site, I suspect they might have had my part on hand. Especially since if just about anything goes wrong with an iBook, it's an automatic logic board replacement.

PROBLEM #3: So I call Applecare. As it turns out, they had no record of me purchasing Applecare for my computer, so I must first demonstrate that I not only purchased it, but that it was done within the allowable time frame. (I've had my iBook just over a year, hence their concern.) This was bureaucracy at its finest, but we persisted nonetheless. I emerged with my CS number and Case File. Oh yeah - I might add that Applecare operates 9-5 EASTERN standard time, which might be great for those in Montreal, but really sucks for those of us on the West Coast. It is not unreasonable to expect Customer Service to be open at least until 8:00 PM LOCAL standard time. This is a huge failing of Applecare, as it means I either take time off work to resolve anything, or have to get up at some insanely early hour.

Like my links to Applecare so far? Me neither. Love the machine, hate the service. For my wife, it's fast becoming a hate/hate thing though. Way to create a potential reverse switcher, Apple.

Problem #4: I mentioned customs earlier, right? I would think that a reseller that depends on a single source for stock, parts and other supplies would have a customs agent or broker to ensure uninterrupted supply lines. Simply not the case here, I guess. Simply Computing ordered the logic board from Apple on Sept. 2. I know this because as soon as I got the CS number I called them, and he ordered the part while I was on the phone. Good for them, I thought. This is encouraging. It took until Sept. 15 for the part to arrive. That's THIRTEEN days! Part of the blame lies with Simply, for not having a proper customs agent to expedite cross border deliveries, and part of the problem lies with Applecare, and part lies with Purolator (the courier that took their time delivering the goods.) Divide it how you like, so long as all parties are smeared.

Problem #5: I live about an hour's drive away from Simply Computing. They know this, as I have told them several times (usually when re-entering my address into yet another database) and also because it's common sense that if you live in town B instead of town A, you won't be able to arrive at the store before closing if you call half an hour before. The basic problem here is that we found Simply Computing to be Simply Uninformative. I had to chase down the CS number. I had to call Applecare to find out which courier and what tracking number to use, even though Simply Computing already had that information. The day the part arrived, they should have called to say so. At that time I would have been able to tell them when I was able to pick it up, and he could have scheduled accordingly. Who knows, I might not have been able to make the trip for a few days - he would have had extra time. Or, as was the case, I was willing to come in that day to get the computer back. Either way, it boils down to a lack of communication on the part of Simply Computing.

Lessons learned: If there is a next time, I'll take my chances with the local reseller, even though they have to ship my computer off to repair it. I still have to deal with Applecare, but my wife swears that our next computer will run Windows. She was really put off by this whole experience, but even before that, wasn't thrilled that roughly a quarter of the websites she wanted to visit didn't support Macs. If I do buy another Apple product, instead of buying Applecare I would probably put the same amount of cash into a savings account or something. That way, by the time something minor breaks and I have to replace the entire logic board to fix it, I'll have the money to do so, and won't have to go through Applecare.

Apple, if you really want to break into the double digits for market share, I seriously suggest you take a hard look at your customer support. It's got some good things going for it, but it also has some things that clearly need fixing. If I was alone in this, I could be ignored. But judging by the 30 seconds I spent on google, there are many more like me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Now THAT was a wedding!

Garter Retrieval
Originally uploaded by iTripped.
There are generally two types of weddings. Good ones, and great ones. Over the weekend, I was at one of the great ones.

Eric, Cathy, congratulations.

I'm not going to get too deep into the details on this. I'll just say the wedding was traditional, classy, global (people came from as far away as Indonesia and Australia) and a whole lot of fun.

In the photo, Eric has just removed the garter off of Cathy (with his teeth) and my wife exclaimed (for the whole room to hear) "That's a GOOD husband!" I think we were all a little bit disappointed when no fistfights broke out between the single ladies over the bridal boquet though.

Thanks for a great time, Eric and Cathy. And again, congrats.

Cutting the cake
Originally uploaded by iTripped.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sean Penn is my hero

UPDATE: It looks like the news sources I commented on yesterday were not telling the whole story about Sean Penn. While it is true that his boat was leaky and the engine was not working, and it was full of camera crew, etc. what was not reported was that Sean had arranged for more than one boat, and had actually managed to bring people out of flooded areas. I don't care how many cameras he had on scene - at least he's out there helping, and I can't really fault him for that. So Sean, my apologies for being hasty in my conclusions.

I'm still not 100% behind celebrity reporting of disasters, but am starting to realize that it probably something of an accepted norm in that industry. They are making a positive difference by being there, so maybe I need to re-think my position on this. After all, the camera are great for raising awareness of what is actually going on right now, making it more difficult for an attempted coverup. That reason alone makes the cameras worthwhile.

Here's the text of the original post I made. I decided not to remove it, despite my change in opinion.

Sean Penn has stooped to a new low, and even he knows it. Anyone low enough to try to capitalize on the New Orleans disaster deserves to be shot, and Sean Penn wisely equipped himself with a flak jacket for just such an occasion.

Saturday Night Live couldn't have scripted this one better if they tried.

Yes, his boat was leaky. No, the engine did not work. Yes, he brought a personal photographer. Maybe he was able to capture the cynicism live on film. Yes, he also brought along a group of friends. Ultimately they made good engine substitutes. Yes, he is selling copies of the photos. (I'll add a link if I can find one - for now, it's only mentioned in news articles like here.)

This really upsets me. Sean, if you really were trying to help and not trying to gain publicity, or to create a platform to rage against the government, you would not have thought it essential to bring along a photographer. Truly good deeds are only good when they are done for the sake of others, not for personal glory. Stunts like this really make a person questions your motives for helping. I saw you in Iraq and thought, 'here is a man who is motivated to change things for the better.' But today I see you and think 'here is a man who is trashing the image of social activists everywhere.'

Bottom line, you are hurting more than your own rep, Mr. Penn. Next time just write a check if you really feel like helping. Leave the rescue efforts to people who actually own a working boat.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What's left to say?

You know, I was going to post something that expressed some of what I'm feeling over the New Orleans disaster, but realized that to do so, I would require yet another blog that was more anonymous. I just don't have much good to say about it, I guess, and would hate to put something up now, only for it to come back on me later.

Impotence is realizing you live paycheck to paycheck, and don't have the ability to run off and help people in need whenever disaster strikes. One thing is for sure - I'll be at least matching the amount I gave to Tsunami relief to help the people in New Orleans.