A Random Pattern

Archive for September, 2006

Quick Geography lesson Fun

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Watch this neat little video blast from the past as the Animaniacs take us on a quick tour of the world:

Oh, and go to this Google Map of Belgium to see where I was last week.

Sorry for the startling lack of content. I haven’t been sleeping much, so when that gets back to normal so will my posts. I’m traveling again a little this week, but hope for a chance to recover after that.

Need sleep

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

I’ve somewhat adjusted to the time-change, but other than that I’ve had no time this week.  I’m giving training, and taking care of regular business as well, and when travelling a lot of time is also taken up eating and driving and what-not.  Luckily I was able to get in a good 8 kilometre run with a friend tonight, through a forest even!  That was quite nice.  Now I still need to catch up on sleep…

Oh, and don’t expect much in the way of posts until Sunday or later.  Sorry…if you miss the posts, tell me why in the comments and I’ll muster up the energy to put up another post tomorrow.  :D

Travelling and Travailing

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

Posting has been light the last week, after a last-minute trip up to Virginia.  I’ll still have a full schedule for probably the rest of the month, so don’t expect daily posts.  I do plan to schedule a few good reads over the next week, though.

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Quick notes from my week:

Most exciting news: Apple’s big Showtime announcements hold great potential for the future, as well as some fun for now.

Most active community: My Dream App, where I’ve been hanging out the last two weeks while they unveiled the 24 finalists.  It’s been fun, and the American Idol-esque voting segment over the next several weeks ought to be even more fun!  I’m hoping to put up another post on this tomorrow.

On the home front:  Last week we started the balcony railing, the piece necessary to complete our loft (well, besides re-carpeting).  With the kitchen now (almost) completely functional, it’s time to finish up lots of little trim areas, as well as putting in the appliance garages.  Pictures will appear in a week or so, unless I convince Sara to put something up.

Movies and Music – Apple rocks again

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

I’ll cover this all in more detail later, but Apple today announced several refinements to their iPod line, a new iTunes version, and some extremely interesting movie stuff.  As always, Michael Gartenberg has an excellent analysis from the market/investor point of view.  MacDailyNews keeps it flowing with lots of links to the coverage as it happens (though I HATE their popup ads!  Gahh!!)

But really, you just need to see the broadcast, or update your copy of iTunes to iTunes 7, to fully appreciate the changes that will keep Apple on top of the game for awhile to come.  Zune, you just got doomed.  ;)

And yeah, who is laughing at those iPod flea jokes now?  Apple, yeah baby!

Windows Freeware – better than payware!

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

I happened to stumble upon this list of 10 unknown Windows freeware apps. Usually when I find these I already know about half of them, and don’t need the other half. Sometimes I find something moderately useful…this list though, was different (for me at least).

The apps on the list are good for those with more than one computer, or with the need to share large files or computer knowledge with other people. For once, the descriptions aren’t about the author, but about what each app actually does and why you might want to use it.

Oh, if only more top 10 lists were like this! Even better, all the applications are completely free, and the ones I’ve used are very light-weight (don’t take up much of your computer’s limited resources). The CamStudio software is particularly fascinating to me, since I can use that both professionally and personally.

But enough from me, go see for yourself if there’s anything you can use.

It’s a Microsoft world – for these kids, at least

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Microsoft designs a High School – the jokes practically write themselves. Or would, if it weren’t kid’s lives we’re talking about here.

Seriously, though, I’m glad to see some innovation happen in schools, as the U.S. education system seems to be pretty weak right now.

My “official” seal of approval

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Click on the image to make your own seal.

Official Unofficial Seal of Approval

Yes, I was tempted to pick the Seal (animal) to put in the center of my Seal (badge). But I was strong, and resisted. :)

I called Ticketmaster – and lived to regret it! (RANT WARNING)

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

Gahh! I just payed $93 and some sense (pun intended) to be abused, neglected, tormented, and ripped off!

Let’s go back over this, in the hopes that by telling my story here I won’t have nightmares or dreams of retribution for weeks to come.  I’ll start at the very beginning of my epic tale of woe, poor website construction, and vapid, money-sucking value-less middlemen…ehem…

We know we wanted to go see Audio A, as the band is doing its final tour.  We heard the advertisements on the radio, and after a few weeks decided to get tickets (even though Audio A isn’t the main act) because this is one of our all-time favorite groups.  So the easiest thing, we think, would be to go to the radio station’s website as they recommend, and find the details from there (104.7, The Fish is the station).   Unfortunately, this is the first of the poor web designs that I run into.  It took me awhile, but by being determined I do find a link to the concert of interest.

This leads me to iticket.com, where my frustrations really escalated.  You see, there’s a nice description of the concert – where, who, when – but that’s it.  It looks like a site that sells tickets, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication of how to buy tickets!  I click in vain, only to get bounced around to various sites that are all HAPPY to tell me what I already know about the concert, but NOTHING ELSE.  I even create an account and login to iTicket, thinking maybe then they’ll let me spend my money on the ticket, or at least give me a little more information.  Nope.  (I later discover, by diligent browsing, that some concerts do have tickets available online – just not, apparently, this version).
I do find a number on the Arena website for calling in to order a ticket, though it also has a link to ticketmaster, which leads me back to the same fruitless cycle as before.  Finally, I come to the conclusion that I’m not sure why I can’t do it online, but it must be easier to order by phone.  This is when I really get frustrated.

I’ve already seen reference to 2 classes of seats at the Arena, regular and “artist circle”.  What those areas consist of, and where I might find out more about them, though, takes a skilled internet surfer (me) quite a while to guess at.  I’m still not entirely sure.

Back to the phone-call:  First I yell at an automated system for about 2 minutes, before the automated system gives up at trying to find the concert I want.  Whoever is in charge of that system at Ticketmaster needs to dump it in the trash and start over – it didn’t even try very hard, and couldn’t understand a thing!  At least it finally passed me to a real person.

This person was able to book my tickets, but the experience was still horribly unacceptable.  First of all, she obviously was a trained telemarketer – and her first concern wasn’t helping me, it was ripping as much money out of my wallet as possible, then sucking any other value out of the remainder of my life.  Not that I think she was any happier about her script than I was, but that doesn’t make it any better.  The first thing she does is sell me the most expense tickets they have – fine, I can understand offering those first, but I had to drag any information about what other tickets they might have out of her.  Of course she knows nothing about the seats she’s giving me, and gives me the seats I’ll get and pricing breakdown so fast that I don’t catch any of it.  I can understand not knowing anything about the seats, but there was no chance for me to even verify information, ask a question, anything.  Ok, fine, Ticketmaster is trying to minimize the time each wallet – excuse me, I mean customer – takes to rip off, but at least pretend like you care!

Now gets to the meat of my problem with Ticketmaster:  She proceeds to offer me several confusingly worded possibilities to hang myself with.  For example, they’d like to spam me, call me, sell my information… you get the point.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that they didn’t just do all this without even asking, as many unethical companies do (*cough* AOL *cough*).  Still, had I not paid close attention, even asking the representative to repeat some of the questions, I would have certainly answered ‘wrong’ (though this would have suited Ticketmaster just fine).

In fact, they spent more time trying to sell me other stuff, or get permission to sell my information, than they did on the $93 I was spending.  And to top it off, they wanted an additional $2.50 to email me the tickets, when they print and snail-mail them for free!  Wha?!!

Alright, I’m not talented enough to fully convey my rage and anger at the companies involved in this service fiasco.  I certainly don’t want to waste any more of your time.  Let me sum it up as this:  If, in the future, I can at all avoid using Ticketmaster, you can be sure I will (even if this means an extra hour drive to the ticketbooth).  If I can’t avoid it, I may well just not go to the event.  The Arena at Gwinnett Center still has a chance to redeem itself, but my hopes are not high.

It seems we’re facing an epidemic of poor service and poor quality these days.  Make sure your company is not part of the trend.  Customers will practically throw money at you, if you can give them the opposite experience.

New Picture(s) and weekend re-cap

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Quick recap of our Labor Day weekend:

  • Garage-sale Saturday morning, mildly successful if you ask me or a complete bomb if you ask Sara (but she did most of the prep work for it).
  • Sunday, church was great, started a “Lost” series (yes, as in the TV show).
  • Also Sunday, got the new dishwasher installed, and the garbage disposal working.  Yay!
  • Monday – don’t remember much about Monday, but did clean up the garage some.  I think I probably wasted the rest of the day, that’d be my guess.  Oh yeah, I think I got addicted to an obscure web-comic and read through it’s entire 6-year history….

Oh, if you’re wondering where the pictures are, go to my other other website, where I put them up just because it’s so easy.

Why is it so easy?  It would be easiest to just show you, but let’s just say that I spent only 5 minutes putting the picture and post up, as well as fixing the homepage and main blog page.  All I did was select, type, drag the picture in where I wanted it, and clicked [Publish].  That’s it.  Finito.  You really should go to an Apple store and check out iWeb and iLife if you want a super-easy, no-web-knowledge-required, don’t-waste-my-time-I’m-not-a-geek way to share pictures and videos with family.  On the other hand, if you want any flexibility or control AT ALL, perhaps it’s better to look into your other options.  ;)  Just kidding, it’s not quite that bad.

Mower Musings: The Short Edition

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

blades of grass can stop the most powerful motor – if they just stick together.