Thursday, December 18, 2008

All I want for Christmas...

First of all, I'm sorry I've been MIA for nearly 3 months. I assure you that doesn't mean everything has been all peachy and jelly doughnuts, but moreso because with a new baby and all, I don't have a lot of time to type my rants more than the 4 times I type them to various people I complain to. But, that aside, it's Christmas time now, and in the spirit of the season, I thought for Christmas this year I would ask for something that doesn't cost any money. This year, I would like for people to commit to answering the question I asked. I really appreciate the attempt to give context, additional information, and general ideas about life, the universe and everything in it, so long as somewhere in those ramblings is the answer to the question I asked.

This becomes especially important in my line of work, which often requires me to troubleshoot technology issues. There seems to be a common misconception that a computer is some magic box where you press some buttons, some crazy voodoo happens, and stuff comes out the other end. Because of this, many people don't apply any logic whatsoever when the computer is not doing what they think it should be.I can state factually that the computer does exactly what it is told. It follows all the laws of physics, and does not involve magic or legerdemain of any kind. As a for instance: if the printer is not working, one should check that it is connected to the computer. This same logic applies for keyboards, mice, monitors, cell phones, iPods, webcams, hard drives... in fact most peripherals one might want to attach to a computer.

Of course, like with anything there are different realms of specialized logic that help in speeding up the resolution process. Seeing that I have a $100k piece of paper that claims I am trained and certified in this manner of thinking, I am completely happy and willing to help when it is required. All I ask in return is that when I ask if anything may have happened... Just tell me. Novel idea I know. But it saves everyone time, effort, and frustration. I am not asking because I want to blame someone for the problem and laugh at them about it, I am asking because I need to know what happened before I can fix it. I like to think I'm a reasonable person. I get that sometimes someone did something and they didn't realize they did it, or there are times when someone legitimately did not do anything, but that's not what we're talking about here. Basically, there are two possible outcomes: 1) I find out what happened and fix the problem. The sooner I find out, the sooner I can fix it and we can both go back to living our lives, making pertinent information worth it's weight in gold. Or 2) I don't figure out what happened, and the problem doesn't get fixed. The point is, there is a direct correlation between learning what happened and fixing it.

So please, please, please... while I do love to hear myself talk, when I ask a question about the problem we are trying to solve, there is a reason for my question. Give me background, give me conjecture, give me the story about how your grandmother loves her cat and thinks it's pretty and likes it when the cat licks her fingers because the cat's rough tongue feels funny on her fingertips and reminds her of how your grandfather used to lick her fingers back in the day when the jitterbug was all the rage and you could buy a coke for a nickel and HEY YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!... but for the love of Jeff, somewhere in there give me the answer. It will make Christmas that much more merry for everyone.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Freaking Vista!

Ok, so for those of you who know me, I love my Mac. I am running a 5 year old Powerbook G4 on the most advanced OS available today, Mac OS X 10.5.5, and not only does it run, but it runs well. Try that with your windows machine... but now I'm getting ahead of myself.

It all started a few days ago, when we finally decided that enough people at my company were running Vista, that I should also be running it, in order to be able to more effecetively support them. The first debacle happened when I tried to decide *which* "edition" of Vista I needed. There are so many! Do I need home basic? Probably not, as I need multiple monitor support. How about Home Premium? That supports multiple monitors... but wait, it doesn't have remote desktop support... which I need for... supporting remote desktops. What about business edition? That should have everything I need. Afterall, this is for a business. From looking at the specs, I think this would have met my needs, but since I have already spent an hour (for those keeping track at home, don't forget to add the cost of my time to the overall cost of this project), I decided to say screw it, and just get ultimate. It's 20$ more, and I figured "Hey, this is Microsoft... Better to be safe than sorry". So I shell out 319+$ for a retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate.

I won't bore you with the details of the 4+ hours I spent getting it installed, let me just say this: I am pretty sure the algorithm for windows update is a 5 line basic program that goes like this:

10 Run check for updates
20 New updates available
30 Install new updates
40 Reboot
50 goto 20

I crap you not, after getting the OS installed, the thing must have updated, rebooted, and updated again 15 times. What the heck? It seems entirely likely that it "updated" to patches that were already obsolete, and then proceeded to update them again. It makes me crazy! On my Mac, I install one patch cluster and I'm good to go. But again, I digress... so now, *finally*, I have my machine installed, updated, and "running".

So I open the control panel so that I can fiddle with the settings. The entire screen dims, and I am greeted with a warning that says "Are you sure you want to run 'controlpanel.exe'?". Of course I'm sure, thats why I clicked on "Control Panel"! So I click continue. The control panel opens. I go to "Programs" so that I can uninstall any crapware that got installed by default. The entire screen dims, and I am greeted with a warning that says "Are you sure you want to run 'uninstallprograms.exe'". Kwyjibo! Yes I want to run it, that is why I fraking clicked it! So I click 'continue'. "Windows Movie Maker... I don't need that" I think to myself. So I click it, and select "Uninstall". The entire screen dims, and I am greeted with a warning that says... you get the idea. At this point I'd had enough. First order of business, disable UAC. I had to click continue no less than 5 times in order to disable UAC. Then I had to go in and tell windows to stop telling me it was disabled. I know it is disabled. I disabled it, remember?

I could go on and on about how terrible this is, but I'll just leave it at this. Programs that used to work in XP no longer work. Hardware that worked in XP no longer works. I have 4GB of RAM... it saw it as 3.5 (as I am not running a 64 bit OS), but after installing SP1, it magically sees all 4GB. It can't use it, but it doesn't want to confuse me so it fibs to me, telling me how much I have installed instead of how much it can actually address. I can't help but feel like the coding hours that were spent "fixing" that "bug" in Sp1 wouldn't have been better spent, oh, I dunno, doing just about a bajillion other things that would actually make the experience better?! But that's not going to push hardware sales is it? Gotta make sure that Joe Consumer thinks that his shiney new Vista computer is using that 4GB of RAM he paid for, and that the tech from Dell didn't steal his extra 512 megs. But again... I digress.

So, moving along... after using Mac OSX 10.5.5 at home, coming into XP at work was already a bummer. But now that I've installed Vista, I'm pretty much on suicide watch my entire drive into work. Just the thought of having to boot up Vista when I get here makes me start looking at telephone poles and wondering "I wonder how fast I would need to slam into that to die instantly". Or heck, I'd even be OK with bleeding out slowly and painfully, so long as I died and didn't have to use Vista anymore. The instructions in my will actually say DNR now, even though I am only 30 years old, and have a one month old daughter. Microsoft's latest attempt at an operating system has all but driven me to suicide, and yet if I were to have them killed, I'd be the one to go to jail. Thats democracy for ya.

So do yourself a favor. Get a Mac. Macs save lives. Knowing that I have my beautiful Powerbook to come home to keeps me from veering into those telephone poles. You no longer have to suffer from OS induced depression! Free yourself from the shackles of oppression! We didn't land on Windows Rock, Windows Rock landed on us! To quote a popular Internet saying "
In a world without walls and fences - who needs Windows and Gates?" My Mac saved me, and it can save you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Freaking Sister!

Well.  I was waiting for the right time to make this information public.  But since my sister outed me on her blog, I felt I needed to come clean before everyone got the wrong idea.

So here goes.  I... like Hanson.  There I said it.  Not their old mmbop stuff, but since they cut their hair, went through puberty, got married and had all kinds of kids, their music is actually really really good.  You should give it a listen, its totally hip and with it.  I even went to a Hanson concert about a year ago, and I'm not ashamed to say, I had a good time.

I'm sure some people are going to tell me that it's not OK or "whatever I need to tell myself so I can sleep at night", but gnuts to them, I am in the closet no longer!

Wow, that was really freeing.  Thanks Sister.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Freaking Time!

That's right, I'm upset at time. It's kind of like money, in fact, some people would argue that it *is* money, while others would argue that it is not, but that's another topic for another day. For the purpose of this illustration, time is like money in that there is enough in the world for everyone to have what they need, yet somehow we never seem to have enough. There is always someone hoarding way more than they could possibly need or even use, causing all sorts of problems for everyone else.

Perhaps this will change if I were to one day get that time machine I keep asking Santa for, but so far he has been stingy... or I have been naughty... one of the two. So in the meantime, I will resort to complaining about it, knowing it won't make anything actually better, it will just make me feel better.

So the other day, I was thinking about how I never seem to have enough time, and I heard the Ice Cream Man drive by. This got me wondering: "What the heck does the Ice Cream Man do with his time?". Surely he is not Ice Cream Manning all day. Does he have another job, and only twilight's as an Ice Cream Man? That got me pondering other aspects of the Ice Cream Man as well. Like, how do Ice Cream Men decide jurisdictions? Is there some sort of Ice Cream Man Cartel that divides up the areas? What are the consequences for violating the family's rules? Is there an unruly gang of people walking around with hairdryers, ready to melt your stock and leave your hair with that "just woke up" look? "Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... It's a message from don Rocky Road... don't ever go against the family. Also, you should consider an oil treatment for those split ends." Or maybe he spends his spare time worrying about the effect of the rising cost of gas on his business? Those trucks get a gallon per mile at best. Is the dream of a 50c rocket pop just another casualty of the ongoing fuel crisis? Will my daughter have to choose between chasing the Ice Cream Man down the street or going to college? Are rhetorical questions still all the rage? If Al Gore *cough*money grubbing personal agenda pusher*cough* is to be believed global warming will soon make the Ice Cream Man as much of a necessity as the doctor and cable television. Can you imagine what it will be like when it is 173 degrees outside, and the Ice Cream Man is nowhere to be found?

But who knows... this could all be a bunch of malarkey. In the end, the only thing that is mostly certain is death, which ironically, still will not stop time. Time will march on without us without a care in the world. Time does not worry about the impending global warming crisis, the failing economy, or the Ice Cream Man because because it is the root of carefree ignorance through forgetting. Always hording itself for itself, not leaving enough for the rest of us. And for that I hate it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Freaking Technology!

So, let me start off by saying, I *love* technology. Except when I don't. This morning was one of the latter times.

This morning, I was at the bank, attempting to deposit a check. My bank has these nifty new ATM's that do not require you to use a deposit envelope covered in chicken scratch long addition which was done in the car on the way as you attempted to sort out just how much money exactly you were actually depositing. To this day I am pretty sure banks just accept whatever number you put on there knowing that eventually it will all even out. 50 cents too much today, a dollar too little tomorrow, whatever, it'll sort itself out eventually... but anyway, I digress. So these new ATM's take all that guesswork out of making bank deposits. You just stick your check in the little slot, it takes it away from you like a kung-fu student grabbing a grasshopper, and then shows you this cool scan of the check, including how much it was for.

So this check I was trying to deposit this morning was from the land of ice and snow... also known as Canada. Seems Canada feels they are too good to follow US standards for how checks are to be formatted (who do they think they are, some autonomous nation? Pfft...), and have come up with their own crazy, obviously drunk, way of doing routing and account numbers. So the ATM got quite confused. I would insert the check, and it would spit it back out. 5 times I tried! I felt like I was in 3rd grade trying to buy a Pepsi at Roller Towne. "Bvvvt.... bvvvt.... dollar comes back" ... "bvvvt... bvvvt... dollar comes back". So then you start doing that crazy "get my dollar to work in a soda machine" voodoo. You take it, flatten it as much as you can using the corner of the machine. "Bvvt... bvvvt... dollar comes back". Then you spend like 5 minutes examining the picture showing the orientation the bill must be in order for the machine to read it. "Bvvvt... bvvvttt... dollar comes back". Then you check to see if any of the corners are maybe bent down. Finally you do some crazy raindance and pray to the diety of your choice in hopes of making it work. "Bvvvt...." "Sweet I think it worke... "Bvvvt... dollar comes back". "Blast!". That is basically what happened to me this morning. It's like, come on, I am trying to give you money!

It reminds me of the olde tyme days of yore when I was trying to get my oldsk00l NES to see that I really did have a game inserted. Everyone had their own special "technique" for getting it to work. Blow on the cartridge, blow in the console, etc. I knew one kid who swore that tapping it on the upper right side of his head 3 times was the key to making it work. Superstition to say the least, but hey, whatever it takes to get your Pepsi/Nintendo/ATM fix right?

So the point of all this nostalgia is pretty simple: For all the things technology brings us, it sure does cost a lot... and not just monetarily. I'm thinking about our other valuables that can't have a pricetag attached to them, such as time, frustration, and sugary drinks, just to name just a few.

In the end, I'm back where we were 30 years ago. I have to make it to the bank during the business hours, which is like between 11:00 and 11:07 am every other Thursday (whoever coined the term "bankers hours" was a wise wise person), so that a teller can examine my currency manually to ensure that I am not a Canadian terrorist. Maybe one day I won't have to work in another country to maximize the value of my dollar, but that day is not today. And so I am stuck fighting with technology just to get my Pepsi.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Freaking Customers!

Today we're going to delve into what is possibly the worst type of person in the world. That's right, customers. It does not really seem to matter what industry you work in, customers are just a general all around pain in the bum. They're always wanting stuff, and just because I work here are expecting me to do it for them. When I say wanting stuff, I don't mean like "Hey, can you do this thing that completely relates to your job and your company's industry so it makes perfect sense for me to ask you to do this, for me", I mean stuff like, "Hey, I realize that this is not remotely related to what you know or do, but I and everyone I know apparently have the problem solving skills equal to that of an untrained table, so can you help me with this?" It's maddening!

Then, to make matters worse, when you solve their problem and they don't like the answer, they come back expecting you to somehow change the results. What's that about insanity, repetitive actions, and different outcomes? They seem to think that because I was kind enough to solve their problem to begin with, surely I must be some sort of demigod who can manipulate time, space, and all creation with just the power of my will... that somehow I can change the laws of physics that govern our entire universe because they're the customer and they told me to. Then, when I try to explain the impossibility of their request, they demand that I resolve it. As if I have not already gone out of my way enough already! Do you think I am lying to you? Do you think this is just a big joke I am playing on you because I enjoy it? Do you honestly think I want to deal with you one Planck longer than I have to? Why on earth would I not give you the answer that will make you leave me alone?!

Now, as a side note, let me say this right now. I am an extremely helpful person. Some have even called me too helpful. Sometimes I try to help so much that it actually becomes un-helpful. That's just who I am... it's how I roll. So it's not that I don't really really want to help people, it's just that I am only one person, and some things are just not possible.

For quick reference I have included a short, and by no means conclusive, list of the things that I cannot do for you:
  1. Vulcanize your tires while you wait. Despite my striking resemblance to Vulcan, this is not something I can help you with. I am sorry.
  2. Undo a mistake you made in the past. Contrary to what I can only assume is a rumor everyone but me is in on, I do not now, nor have I ever had, a time machine. Maybe I will in the future, which I guess would mean I could have one now and in the past, but as of this writing I do not, so stop asking.
  3. Fix your problem in less time than it takes to fix it. See #2 above if you don't understand why.
  4. Read your mind. I don't care what you expect, if you don't tell me I have no idea what you need. This also goes for crucial bits to solving the problem. Giving me all the information is the best way to help with #3.
  5. Recite every digit of Pi, from memory or otherwise. If you don't know why I can't do this, you have no business asking me to do it. It pretty much answers itself.
  6. Count to infinity. See #5 above.
  7. Drink one gallon of milk in an hour without vomiting. Maybe other people can, I'm not going to debate you on that, all I know is, I cannot.
  8. Make a working two-seater ultralight plane out of makeshift materials. I probably can't even make a working two-seater ultralight with proper materials.
  9. Build a Jet pack from plans purchased off the internet and limited funds. Maybe with plans purchased from the Internet *or* limited funds, but not both.
  10. Build a perpetual motion machine. In my house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.
  11. All the stuff that Chuck Norris can do. Come to think of it, why don't you call Chuck Norris to solve your problems?
Perhaps it's proper irony that we're all customers of something at some point, and yet all customers manage to give me the rage. Does that mean I give myself the rage? Probably, but that's another topic for a completely different website. So if the irony of self loathing isn't today's lesson, what is? All customers are idiots. There are just varying degrees of idiot. You alone have the power to decide what degree of idiot customer you are going to be. Use it wisely.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brian Ching *did* score goals

So, for people not in the "know", today's headline is a reference to one of the greatest stories I have from our trip to the World Cup in 2006 in Germany. It goes like this:

We had just walked out of the disappointing US loss to the Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen. To be fair, they were ranked #2 in the world at the time, but that's no excuse, we played like crap... but I digress. My good friend Andrew was wearing his San Jose Earthquakes Brian Ching jersey, and this large, drunk, Czech man comes up to him, puts his arm around him, and just says "Brian Ching will score goals.", then walks away. It was awesome. To this day, every time I see Ching play, I can't help but think of that day.

Which brings us to yesterday (June 15th, 2008). Brian Ching did in fact score goals. And wow. Just. Wow. It was a massacre. As we were walking from the parking lot to the Home Depot center (or the HDC as it's sometimes called), I jokingly said "So, we're going to win 8-zip right?". Little did I know, that apparently I'm clairvoyant.

I won't bore you with the details of who scored when, but at the end of the game 5 US players were on the scoresheet with a total of 8 goals. We outshot them 22 to 2, with 14 of our shots being on goal to their zero. US records were set for the fastest goal ever scored (53 seconds into the game), the largest margin of victory (8 goals), and tied for the highest score ever put up by the US national team. All in all, a great way to start our 2010 World Cup campaign.

By the end, I actually felt kind of bad for the Babados players. This is only the first leg in a 2 game series, where goals will be aggregated to determine the final score. As you can see from the picture below, we were right by their bench, close enough to see the looks of despair on their faces as the US scored goal after goal after goal.

In the end, I think Clint Dempsey said it best: "We're not going to say we're going to go out and win the World Cup after playing Barbados," Dempsey said. "Nothing against them. They came out and tried hard, but we're supposed to win these types of games decisively."

And win decisively we did.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Close Encounters of the Indiana Jones Kind

Ok, so i should start by saying spoiler alert. Usually I wait until after I ruin it for everyone to declare spoilers err... behind... because well, that's way funnier than warning people ahead of time.  But this time I genuinely don't want to ruin it. So, if you've not seen the new Indiana Jones movie yet, and you'll be sad if you hear how it ends, I suggest going elsewhere.

So, with that said, lets get cookin'. Before I tear into it, I should mention, I really did mostly like the new Indy movie. It was fun, Harrison Ford was out of his Random Hearts, Devil's Own, Six Days Seven Nights funk and back to Han Solo form. The chase scenes were fun and full of Spielberg goodness. The scene with the ants had me crawling in my seat, lifting my feet off the ground, you know, just in case. There were a few pointless bits, like the gophers and the tarzan vines, but they were mostly forgivable. Then, came the last act in the movie.

Now, anyone paying attention probably saw the whole alien thing coming, and truth be told, the aliens themselves aren't even what bothered me. Its what they did, namely come back to life, and fly away... or something. I have no problem with the skull being an alien skull, I don't even have a problem with needing to return it to some ancient burial ground, temple, ruin, or whatever. But the aliens coming back to life and flying away? That's the ending you're going with? I think I've seen this before somewhere else. It makes me want to swear. Like, I cannot even put together a coherent sentence to describe it. The way this movie ended is so stupid, I think I had a stroke. What's on slate for Indy 5? Indy returns a dinosaur bone to a remote island and all the dinosaurs come back to life, then for no reason, except that the movie has to end, somehow go extinct again? I'm reminded of the end of Hudson Hawk. It goes something like this:

Hudson Hawk: You're supposed to be all crashed up at the bottom of the hill!
Tommy Five-Tone: Air bags, can you believe it?!
Anna Baragli: You're supposed to be blown up into fiery chunks of flesh!
Tommy Five-Tone: Sprinkler systems can you believe it?!
Hudson Hawk: Yeah, that's probably what happened!

Or, as it more appropriately applies to this movie:

Movie test subject #1: Wait, that doesn't make sense, why are there CG gophers?
Lucas: Special effects and gophers are awesome, can you believe it?!
Movie test subject #2: Ok, why is he swinging through the trees like tarzan... and now the moneys are his friends?
Lucas: Special effects and Tarzan and monkeys are awesome, can you believe it?!
Movie test subject #3: Ok, aliens come to life and fly away and now its over, dude, what the heck?
Spielberg: Yeah, thats probably what happened!

Come on Lucas, you already owe me 27.50$ for the Star Wars prequils (10 bucks each for episodes 1 and 2, and 7.50 for episode 3... it was only three quarters crap), do you really want to add another 12 (stupid inflation) to your tab for this? You were so close! All you had to do was just about anything except what you did. In fact, Lucas, if you're reading this, write this down: "Next time I have an idea for something to make my movie better, I will do the opposite". Tape it to your bathroom mirror and ponder on it as you brush your teeth with your gold plated, light saber molded, toothbrush. It will make your movies a whole lot better, which will ultimately make you and your adoring fans much, much happier.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My little girl was dancing!

I'm starting to realize, that while ranting about stuff that sucks is therapeutic, it's difficult to do all the time. Sometimes there are things that are just too good not to share, despite them not being "what the heck?!" moments. This is one of those things. Warning: Proud daddy gushing ahead.

Most (read: everyone except those 2 people who were googling for Landon Donovan, and accidentally ended up here) of you know that my beautiful wife is pregnant with our first child: our daughter named Claire. I am so super excited about my little girl, that even if I dedicated an entire post to her... even if I could somehow embed emotions and feelings into a website (<EMBED type="awesome" emotions="happy">... dang, didn't work)... there are no words in any language spoken anywhere I've ever heard of that could describe how I feel about her. She's pretty much tied for (and directly related to) the greatest thing ever to happen to me.

So, now that I've successfully gushed like a reverse emo kid on uppers, we get to the original reason for the post. I like to play music. The other day, I was sitting in my living room, playing my guitar, and Claire (who was presumably asleep previously) woke up and started, what we can only describe as, dancing. Everytime I'd stop playing, she'd calm down, and stop moving, then I'd start playing again, and she'd start bouncing around again. It was amazing.

Now, it should be noted, that I'm not one of those crazy people who think that there was some kind of actual communication there, or know for sure that it was anything other than a fortunate coincidence. I understand that physiologically, while she can hear whats going on, to her brain, these signals her cochlea are passing to her scala vestibuli and on through the rest of her auditory system are just random neurons firing, and they have no real meaning. But even the coincidence was still wizard enough to warrant telling everyone about it.

So here's to you, my little dancing miracle. I can't wait to meet you.

Monday, April 28, 2008

*Finally* Galaxy!

So, I know my rants have been less ranty lately.  I assure you, that is likely to change as I have to work every night this week (in addition to my normal daily schedule).  But, I feel it is only fair that when I bash my soccer team of choice (which truth be told, is more abou geographic convenience than anything else... but I do love Landon Donovan, so that helps), for sucking donkey butt, that I also acknowledge their accomplishments.  This weekend was such an accomplishment.

To begin with, I have a cascade of background information, to get you caught up on why this weekend especially was a big deal.  The people in charge of marketing MLS have decided that the best way to get people to come out to see games is to come up with as many rivalries as possible.  If one team's colors are primary, and another is secondary, you've got a rivalry.  One team is from The East coast and one the west, another rivalry!  Here in LA we have two teams, the Galaxy, and Chivas USA, and you guessed it, a rivalry.  Both teams share the same stadium, so when they play each other, while one team is technically home, and the other away, for all intents and purposes, its a double home game.  This clash is called the "Honda Superclasico" (how's *that* for marketing gone awry?), and it happens a couple times per year.

Secondly, I should take a moment to explain why I do not like Chivas.  It's not that they are a bad team (quite the opposite in fact, despite having a girls name, Sacha Kljestan is really good, and Ante Razov is a staple of my MLS fantasy team's strikers), its not that they're the "bad guys" or even "the other guys" in a local rivalry.  It is plain and simply, Chivas fans.  Or more accurately, the way *some* Chivas fans behave during the game.  I'm all for getting rowdy, celebrating, booing, telling the ref where he can or cannot stick his whistle/card/flag.  What I am not about, is physically interfering with the game.  I have seen countless Chivas games where stuff is thrown at the opposing team's players during the game, especially the goalkeeper.  Bottles, cans, streamers... just about anything they can get their hands on, they'll happily toss on out there.  As such, I do not like it when these people's actions are rewarded.

So, now that you have some background on the derby, (spoiler alert), the Galaxy soundly demolished Chivas this weekend.  As I have mentioned before, scoring one or two goals per game is quite a feat in soccer.  The galaxy managed to score five.  Thats right, cinco.  Chivas mustered 2 (once of which was actually really nice, way to go Sacha).  At one point, when it was 4:2, the announcer makes a comment about how the "Galaxy have strapped Chivas to the whipping post, and they're going to town.  As you can see in the highlights, my boy Landon gets a hat trick.

I won't continue to bore you with any more in depth analysis of what should or shouldn't have happened, I'll just leave it at this: way to go Galaxy, you're winning back my faith in your ability to compete, and my faith in the staying power of MLS and soccer in America and that makes me a happy footy fan.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am *so* lazy

Normally I use this space as a place to vent about how much whatever the thing I'm annoyed about whatever particular sucks. I am also super lazy, so when someone else goes on about something that I may at some point in the future gone on about, I figure, hey, typing is hard. Not to mention all the thinking that precedes typing (do you have any kind of idea what kind of crazy neurological pipeline is required just to get your fingers to type a single letter, let alone an entire word, sentence, paragraph or novella (as my posts lately seem to be). It's making me tired just thinking about thinking about thinking about writing this. So.. wait.. where was I? Oh, right. I love girl scout cookies, they are amazing. Especially thin mints, when you put them in the freezer, oh man, I wish I had some right now... Err, wait, I mean, fortuitously for you my one loyal reader (thanks mom!), my good friend Nathanael has a nice piece up about ye olde tymes of blogging, before we even knew we were blogging. Because I like to keep things family friendly around here, I feel obligated to warn you, that Nate is either addressing an audience of female dogs (silly Nate, dogs don't even have the phalangeal phalanxes required to type on a keyboard and thus access el internetos), or more likely, because Nate has a foul mouth, I'd rate his post PG.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Standards?! We don't need no stinking standards!

Ok, so, I admit that I am not the neatest of people. In fact, my desk at work generally looks like a filing cabinet exploded all over it. However, even this level of messiness does not preclude me from getting the holy rage when people refuse to follow standards for no good reason (or even worse, for selfish, self serving, reasons).

I am not picking on anything in particular here, at least not yet, I just mean in general. How hard is it to just adhere to the generally accepted best way of doing something? I'm all for marching to the beat of your own drum, but that's not what we're talking about here. Standards are there for a reason: because many people working together yet independently need a baseline to reference, a constant that they can expect to be true, no matter what. Take for instance, the Internet. Have you ever wondered why a page looks different depending on which browser you're using to view it? Thats because the people who made the browsers didn't follow standards (and one is worse than the rest). This makes the job of a web designer maddening. They have to check it in 3 or 4 of the most popular browsers, the entire time praying that everything works reasonably well in all of them. When something doesn't, then its back to the drawing board, spending hours researching why it's not working correctly in one particular browser. Then, once you figure out why, you have to fix it and hope that it still looks how you want it to.

These gripes extend to just about every facet of life... the workplace, television, word processing... just about anywhere you can imagine. Ever wonder why you can't type up something in Word 2007 and have it open correctly in Word 2003? I'm not even talking about a competing product from a different company, or even a different product suite from the same company. The same product, from the same company, just one version higher. If I have a document written in one, I have to install a separate, standalone product, to open it in the other.

The madness doesn't just apply to the upper side of society either. Even in the seedy underbelly of the internets, we find people who just can't seem to follow the standard. Folks who get copies of movies and distribute them freely on the internet are governed by a set of rules that all releases must adhere to. But even they, with their reputations on the line, can't seem to be able to follow the standards, often cutting corners with the hope that no one will notice. Hypothetically, this would make life very difficult for people attempting to obtain such a thing. Not that I condone it, but just saying: the sloppiness is everywhere.

There is however, a silver lining to this cloud of shame. There are some good examples of standards that are followed, and it makes life better for everyone. Music files for instance. If I have a file that is a standard MP3, then I can rest assured that it is going to play on any device capable of playing mp3's (refer to my previous post about software activation if you are confusing DRM laden music with plain ol' MP3's). CD's used to be a good example, but at risk of digressing back into my DRM rant, just take my word for it that even those are no longer safe. How sad is it, that you have to read the fine print on the back of a CD to ensure that it is going to play in your cd player.

Finally, for those pundits of mine who will claim that it's not hurting anyone, and they should be able to behave in any way they see fit, I offer the following: Imagine a ruler that claims to be a foot, but is in fact only 11 inches. Imagine an infant thermometer that is +/- 2 degrees. Imagine a car that gets forty rods to the hogs head while traveling at somewhere between 55 and 104 MPH, depending on which speedometer you read.

Come on people, just follow the standard. It's there for a reason! Not to mention it's easier and cheaper for you, because someone else has already done the hard work of engineering it. All you have to do is follow the directions. Even 4 year olds with E-Z bake ovens can do that.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Software, Activate!

So, to get those of you who ended up here accidentally while googling for something that is likely completely unrelated all caught up, I work with technology. Often times my job entails installing, managing, and supporting various pieces of software. It doesn't sound so bad, and truth be told it wouldn't be, except that I swear companies are bent on making life difficult for those of us who make using their software bearable for the average user. I could go into a laundry list of things that give me the rage about various pieces of software (and if you'd like to hear it, by all means let me know in the comments. I would love nothing more than to rant about things people actually care about), but, in this particular case I am focusing my laser beam of hatred at "anti-piracy measures", specifically "software activation", with a bit of spillover into DRM.

So, as a quick history lesson, a few years ago (around the turn of the millennium actually) some big name software vendors decided that in order to protect their software from the dreaded pirates, their best course of action was to inconvenience their paying customers. Truth be told, I don't know if their plan all along was to annoy their legitimate customers in an effort to "raise piracy awareness", or if it was just another retarded move businesses like to make to stroke their egos as they try to prove that customers will like what they tell them to like, but either way, well, you get the idea. Essentially the way this activation works, is that a combination of a few factors, usually your unique serial number and the hardware in your computer (size of your hard drive, amount of RAM, what cards are placed where on your motherboard, etc) generate a unique "installation ID". This ID is then sent to the product manufacturer and stored in their activation database. This supposedly ensures that you are not installing the same piece of software with the same license key on multiple machines. So thats activation in a nutshell.

Now, I should stop for a moment and note that I am all for businesses making money on the software they create. As such I am equally for people paying for the software they use. This isn't meant to be some rant about how I'm all upset because I can't pirate X or Y piece of software. In fact, I will argue that all this activation crap actually makes pirating software more appealing... but now I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, the problem comes when I get a new computer, or even just replace a part in my old computer (new hard drive, add more RAM), and I want to start using this piece of software on my new computer/configuration instead. When I uninstall a piece of software from my old computer, and then install it on my new one, guess what? Thats right, new hardware, same serial number. I must be trying to pirate it. Instantly, I am assumed to be a criminal. Guilty until proven innocent. So now, I have to call said company, explain to them that I got a new computer, etc. I not only have to prove to them that I am not guilty, but I have to get their permission to continue using the software that I own. Now, a lot of pundits will stop me there and say that I don't actually own the software, but I own a license to it, and that license is revocable, subject to the companies terms, blah blah blah. HONKEY. I say that when I pay money for something, one of my inalienable rights as a human being is to be able to use it fairly without the immediate assumption that I am a criminal.

So, back to my earlier argument that this actually encourages piracy. It is so much easier to install a "cracked" version of said program, that bypasses all this activation crap. When I want to install it on my new computer. I do just that. No cold lifeless robotic fingers pointing at me with accusations of theft. No praying that I didn't forget to "un-activate" my previous copy before I formatted the hard drive and donated it to charity. No need to install constant updates to the activation system, many of which now outright spy on what you do with your computer. No hassle whatsoever.

Businesses need to learn what I have coined as the 95/5 rule (or sometimes known as 'The Lowhanging Fruit Rule"). It is a very simple rule, and it goes like this. Do what you have to, to stop 95% of the population, but leave the other 5% be. I assure you, they are going to find a way around it. So when you go after them with your giant mallet, you are not only wasting tons of money and resources, which you then pass along to your legitimate customers in the price, but you are making your software infinitely more frustrating to use for those 95% of legitimate users, who are now paying extra for the privilege. All the while, the 5% of people you're trying to stop are not only still using it, but they're having a much better experience than everyone else, because they aren't dealing with your "anti piracy" crap.

As I mentioned at the start, this applies to all anti-piracy measures. DRM anyone? How annoying is it that if you want to put a song on your iPod, you have to do it from an "activated" computer, and you can only activate so many. Its far far easier to just get music (or tv shows, or movies) without the DRM. Because then you don't have to worry about it.

The bottom line here is this: invasive anti-piracy measures like software activation, DRM on movies and music, etc not only does not stop piracy, but actually makes it more appealing. Perhaps businesses will one day finally understand the words of our favorite princess of a galaxy far far away: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Freaking Galaxy! Take 2


That is all I could mutter as I sat and stared in disbelief at the TV screen. Somehow LA managed to lose 3-2 to Toronto FC, arguably the worst team in MLS. This game should have ended 3-0, 4-0, or at worst 4-1 in favor of LA.

Unfortunately, the galaxy have a couple of major problems on their hands. They come crashing out of the gate and dominate for the first 20 minutes, but then somewhere around the 21st minute, everyone except for Donovan and (it pains me to say it) Beckham, seem to just stop playing. The more I think about it, its no wonder we keep losing. We're essentially playing 2 on 11, with 9 muppets setup as all but stationary roadblacks for the last 70ish minutes. The kind of pressure these guys are putting on Lando and Becks takes it toll for sure. As you watch the highlights you'll see that Donovan misses 2 total gimme goals. Donovan *never* misses those things.

In the end, I don't even mind that they lost. I mean, of course I want them to win, but that's water under the bridge at this point. My main concern is much further reaching: I fear for the future of professional soccer in the US. As I have mentioned before, this is the team who spent more than the GDP of most countries getting one of the most recognized soccer names in the world to play for them. They now charge twice as much as every other team in the league for the privilege of coming to see them, presumably in order to pay that huge salary. But they still can't win, even against one of the worst teams in the league. If they don't get it together, this could be the start of a snowball effect that causes the death of this renaissance of American soccer.

Don't believe me? Lets go on a journey to the hypothetical future. Beckham will continue to get paid his $160,000 per game (no joke, that's what he makes just for showing up. Don't even get me started on endorsements, profit sharing, and so on). AEG (the evil Germany company who own's the galaxy) will be smarting from all the money they are losing because no one wants to pay 80$ per ticket (plus another 20 for parking) to see the Beckham and Donovan not able to do anything because their team sucks. No one else will be willing to risk bringing in big name players, or we'll end up with second rate has-bins like Blanco, because obviously, 1 or 2 good players is not enough to carry an entire team. And finally, soccer will be relegated back to the minor leagues of US sports, and all the naysayers will gloat "We told you so". Then, just to show just how far the ripple effect goes, American players will not be developing as well, catching the eyes of foreign clubs, and getting the experience necessary to continue the US National team's dominance of the CONCACAF region.

For better or worse, because of Beckham, the Galaxy are under tremendous pressure to perform. Everyone is watching them, and they will be the yardstick by which professional soccer in America is measured. If they succeed, the league should succeed with them, but if they fail (which they seem all to good at) they could take the joy of watching and participating in professional soccer away from millions of people.

Come on Galaxy, I know you have it in you. You won 2 MLS cups without Beckham! No one likes sequels, especially me, so I assure you the last thing I want is to have to write a "Freaking Galaxy! Take 3: The suck rolls on".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Freaking Dell!

So, in what appears to be the continuation of a series about how horrible business is becoming in the good old US of A, I present the following for your consideration.

Please feel free to spend a minute reading the linked page above. I will wait. While I do so, I will amuse myself with this picture of a monkey listening to an iPod.

Hah! Man, monkeys are hilarious!

Ok, so back to the issue at hand. In a nutshell, for those of you like me who don't much care for reading, seems a customer had a problem with their Dell no longer charging the battery. Because businesses don't make money replacing things for free on warranty, the tech on the phone suggested he try plugging in a working adapter into the computer to ensure the problem was in fact the adapter. When this worked, the tech then wanted, just to be sure, verify that the other adapter was in fact bad. They asked the customer to plug the presumed fault adapter into their other Dell laptop. The customer said they did not want to do this as plugging a faulty power adapter into a machine that is no longer under warranty is not the smartest idea, but the tech insisted the only way they could send the customer a replacement power adapter (15$ part by the way) was to do this last verification. You can guess where this is going. Zap, the perfectly fine computer is now dead. So Dell, seemingly, tries to make things right, however this is where things just get... wrong.

After about an hour on the phone with the tech, the customer managed to talk them into replacing the newly dead laptop. Doesn't seem like it should have taken longer than 15 seconds to sort that one out, but hey, at least they came to the right conclusion eventually.

So Dell says they are going to send him a *new* laptop, to replace the one they killed. Well, when the "new" one arrives, it is anything but new. I think it is best described in the customers own words:

"I open the case, and the instruction manual is bent out of shape, and I start to worry. I reach the bottom of the box, pull out the laptop, and first thing I see is the top is covered in scratches. Some people may say that I should be happy since I was getting a newer model laptop to replace an old laptop with no warranty. My old laptop, however, was in great condition. When I opened up the new laptop, I saw the screen was scratched and dirty, and the keyboard was covered in debris. Wait, not debris....what is that? HAIRS!? Not just any hairs - these could only be described as pubes."

Thats right. Pubic Hair. What the heck?! First of all, this is supposed to be a new machine. Secondly, how in the world does something like that get sent out, even if its a refurb or something?

How can you miss that?! What is this world coming to, that such blatant traces of a persons nether regions come free with every laptop you buy!

For shame Dell, for shame. Maybe it's time for Dell to "shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders"

Friday, April 4, 2008

Old Friend, New Writer

Hey everyone. I am going to take a break from complaining for a minute to introduce you to my friend Josh. Josh is going to be writing here from time to time, so don't freak out if you see a name other than "Kevin" as the author. I assure you, we have not been hacked, but in fact everything is going according to plan.

He has an amazing grasp of the English vernacular, so if you do plan on reading his posts, I'd recommend bookmarking I've been using this product for a whole year, and I am *still* excited.

In conclusion, just because there is nothing girly about a horse, and there is nothing girly about a horn, it doesn't make it OK for a 14 year old high school boy to have pictures of unicorns in his locker. Not that I know from experience.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's not *my* fault!

How many times have you heard that exclaimed? Probably quite a few in your lifetime. Well, now lets take it one step further. How often do you hear "It's not *my* fault, it's *your* fault!". Probably fewer times, but I would wager you've still heard it at least once or twice. Well today, as the coup de grâce, I give you the following. I was told, by a business whom I pay money to for their "services", that a problem they very obviously caused was not only "not their fault", but was in fact mine. Why you ask? Because I did not pay them enough for them to have set things up properly to begin with, obviously!

What the heck?! What are you, the RIAA? Lashing out at your customers because you can't admit to making a mistake? I'm OK with someone talking about me when I'm on hold, mute, or just behind my back in general. You want to call me an idiot? Fine, that is your prerogative, but let me tell you what you do not do. You do not lie about what happened and then blame your customers, to their face, for a problem you very obviously caused. I suppose tomorrow the phone company is going to sue me because I don't make enough long distance calls, or the power company is going to blame me for a nationwide blackout because I plugged in my toaster (by the way, I have an awesome toaster, its this cool retro silver thing, with a bagel setting and a nice easy to clean crumb catcher... just sayin').

I literally cannot find the words to describe how this made me feel. *You* broke something. This caused me, your customer, to have to scramble to apologize to my customers. And then you have the gall to proclaim that this is in some way *my* fault. How dare you sir! This offends my sensibilities, my sense of human decency, and business 101 community college professors everywhere. This is something you just do not do.

Thanks goodness we live in a free market society, so I can take my money somewhere else. Maybe one day businesses (and lets be honest here, people in general) will realize that blaming, suing, mistreating, and all around crapping on their customers is not an acceptable, nor profitable way to behave in decent society. Or maybe that is the root of the problem. That we don't live in decent society. Either way, until that day, I have accepted that my only choice is to find the least abusive businesses and give them my money. But it still, what the heck!?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Irregardless, it's not a word!

For those of you who know me well, you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people use the word "irregardless". Let me tell you right now, it's an abomination of a word and should not be used under any circumstances in any day or age. It's a walking contradiction. Don't believe me? Lets examine it a little bit closer.

It is a combination of two words, "irrespective" (–adjective without regard to something else, esp. something specified; ignoring or discounting), and "regardless" (-adjective having or showing no regard; heedless; unmindful (often fol. by of)). Both of which contain a negative prefix and suffix respectively (ir- meaning "not" and -less meaning "without"). So when you blend these words together, you have a double negative. Not without regard. Thats not not wrong!

I get that idioms are an accepted part of language, and I can even understand a mutated idiom (such as "all the sudden", which is a phonetically hurried "all of a sudden"). I will even accept that language is just a form of expression, and if you make a sound and people know what you mean, then mission accomplished. But that still doesn't make it right! If I were to write "do u want 2 go 2 dinner 2nite @ 6?", sure you'd understand what I meant, but it doesn't make me sound like less of an idiot.

I submit that language is about more than just communicating what you mean. If all we had to do was communicate in a basic raw form, then it would be accepted to just scream until someone gave you what you wanted (think baby here). But it isn't. We're educated, civilized (mostly) people. By allowing the adoption of blatantly incorrect words, we're letting the idiocracy (thanks Mike Judge) win. Language is a beautiful, eloquent, gift, and it makes me shake my head to hear anyone so unwilling to use it as such.

So please, just say no to irregardless. Irregardless of what people may think, its just wrong.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Freaking Galaxy!

So for those of you who know me, football is my favorite sport. I am not talking about the game where they use their hands, put pads all over their bodies, and don't really use their feet for anything that most people seem to think of when I say I love football... but thats another topic for another day.

So I was watching the LA Galaxy vs the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, and words cannot even describe the horrible horrible game the galaxy played. It's a stretch to even call it a game, or to say they "played" for that matter. Now, let me give you a little history. This is the team that paid like, eleventy sixty three nine twelve bajillion dollars for David Beckham, this is the team that charges 80$ per ticket to see them play, this is the team, who until 2006 was a powerhouse and had never failed to make the playoffs.... so I would expect at least a little bit of a show from them. What did we get instead? A little diddly and a lot of squat. For shame LA, you're better than that, or at least you should be! They managed to lose 4 to nothing... which if you've ever seen a soccer match, is a terrible terrible loss. I've seen under 6 teams play more coherently.

If you're interested in seeing the highlights for yourself, they can be found here:, but if you're going there expecting to see anyone but Colorado do anything at all, you're going to be disappointed. All in all, this was a shameful sad day for football in Los Angeles.

Good grief Galaxy, what the heck?!

Friday, March 28, 2008

What the Diddly?!

In the words of everyones favorite nice guy Ned Flanders, what the diddly?!

Life is full of those "what the blank" moments, where all you can do is just scratch your head and think, "What the blank?!"  Thats more or less what you can expect to find here. A chronicle of those moments from someone who seemingly has to endure more than his share.

So stick around, have a drink and a laugh, and we'll all join together to say "What the diddly!?"