Archive for March, 2009

Car Labels

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

While I was in Germany, I noticed that many car owners removed the labels from the back of their car. ¬†I’m assuming this is because the taxes in Germany result in much smaller engined vehicles, and people want other people to think that there’s a bigger engine. ¬†It could also be aesthetics. ¬†In high school, a guy had a nice SL600, complete with V12 labels. ¬†I was standing next to the car when he started it–and I was surprised by the sound. ¬†I leaned down by his window, and asked him, “How many people know this is really an SL320?” ¬†He looked up at me and said, “No one. ¬†How’d YOU know?” ¬†Six cylinders sounds an awful lot different than twelve!!

Today I was driving into work, and some girl had an SLK320 (an inline 6 for that model year) with a V8 label on the back. ¬†Lame. ¬†I don’t care if someone removes the labels from their car–but come on–adding the wrong ones? ¬†TOTALLY lame.

Pocket Dialing

Monday, March 30th, 2009

As the proud owner of the name “Adam”, I tend to be at the top of most people’s address books. ¬†As a result, I get more than my fair share of pocket-dials. ¬†Usually, it’s just the swishing sound of someone’s pocket or purse, but every once in a while, it’s a conversation. ¬†I only listen in long enough to see if they’re talking about me. ¬†Just kidding. ¬†I generally hang up the moment I realize that the person pocket-dialed. ¬†But in the short moments that it takes for me to figure it out. ¬†Once, I heard my uncle talking about a company’s unpublished fiscal information (I didn’t do any insider trading, thank you very much). ¬†Another time, I heard someone talking about her boyfriend.

Today, I heard my dad on the phone. ¬†At first I thought he was actually talking to me! ¬†But alas, he wasn’t.

Lock your phones!

Netflix!

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

I’m doing the Netflix 2-week trial–the hell with the one-DVD at-a-time; it’s all about the instant viewing! ¬†I’m watching 30 Rock–absolutely awesome show.

Resident IT Guy

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

I’m my family’s resident IT guy. ¬†For some reason, Dad’s computer wouldn’t boot up past the initial Windows logo screen. ¬†Safe mode worked, however. ¬†After running tests for viruses, spyware, and general malware (there was plenty), it still didn’t boot. ¬†I reloaded Service Pack 3, and it still wouldn’t boot properly. ¬†Unplugging all the USB devices didn’t work, either. ¬†Then, I tried unplugging the firewire hard drive. ¬†And it worked.

Stupid Occam’s Razor.

IM Hiatus?

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Every once in a while, I realize that I’ve been going online and waiting for people to come online to IM. ¬†It’s an amazing waste of time–I think I’m going to try another “online hiatus” to reset myself a bit. ¬†I have a lot of stuff I need to get done!!

Mac vs. PC

Friday, March 27th, 2009

From as far back as I can remember until mid-2002, I hated Apple products. ¬†It didn’t matter what they were, it didn’t matter what they did–they were enormous piles of crap. ¬†I remember fixing them in high school, and scoffing at their goofy designs in undergrad. ¬†Their performance was terrible. ¬†OS 9? ¬†Not even true multi-tasking! ¬†Come ON! ¬†Who’d spend thousands of dollars more on a Mac? ¬†Then they starting saying how they were FASTER–but it sure didn’t seem that way, what, with all the crashing and other issues…

Then something happened.

I was at Washington Mutual at the time, doing computer work; Windows XP had just come out around that time, and boy, it was KILLING the Macs.  I decided to buy a 20 GB iPod; I had outgrown my measly 4 GB Creative Nomad; and it was DOG slow.  I opened my new, EXPENSIVE iPod.  It was sleek.  Attractive.  Solid.  Perfect.  I was amazed at the quality of the product.

After a month or so, I decided to leave WaMu to get my masters, and one of my colleagues told me to buy a Mac. “They’ve changed,” he explained. ¬†So I read up on it. ¬†Sure enough, OS X had gone through two iterations by that point, 10.0 and 10.1, and 10.2 was coming out that week. ¬†I still had a bad taste in my mouth from the Macs in high school, though. ¬†So I sauntered across the street to the Northridge Apple store where I purchased my iPod, instead to check out the Powerbooks. ¬†Visually, they were stunning. ¬†Titanium case, striking screen, gorgeous layout. ¬†One mouse button. ¬†Hmmm.

The salesperson (Specialist, as I came to know), told me about the machine. ¬†I mentioned that I had been in IT, and that I wanted everything laid out to me technically. ¬†He obliged, “It’s a 15 inch screen, 800 MHz G4 processor. It’s fast, though–faster than its Intel counterparts that are twice the clock speed.” ¬†I was doubtful. ¬†I didn’t like the dock. ¬†I didn’t like that there was no “Run” command in the Start menu. ¬†I didn’t like that there was no Start menu! ¬†I could have (and I think I did, at some point) make a list of all the things I hated about it. ¬†Then he showed me the Terminal. ¬†And it had everything I needed. ¬†I played with that computer for over an hour, and by the time I was done, I was convinced. ¬†This was the computer for me.

So I walked out with a brand-new Powerbook. ¬†A new Apple. ¬†My worst nightmare–I had become what I hated! ¬†For a month afterwards, I hated on the laptop as much as I could. ¬†I told everyone who’d listen, “I’m the only Apple owner who hates the computer. ¬†I hate it!” ¬†Meanwhile, I had two major problems with the computer that resulted in Apple replacing it with a VERY upgraded model… ¬†A gigahertz processor, bigger hard drive, better graphics, a DVD burner… ¬†Amazing customer service. ¬†I had problems with Dells, HPs, Compaqs, and Sonys before…but no one handled the problem as well as Apple.

I used the computer for another month, hating it all the while…when suddenly, I realized I didn’t miss the features I wanted to have so badly. ¬†Sure, I couldn’t customize the size of the text in the title bar–but I found I didn’t need to. ¬†I didn’t need the Start menu, and the Dock works great. ¬†I became a convert.

So the years have passed, and I’ve owned a few Macs. ¬†I now use a 15″ Macbook Pro, and while I love it, I wish I had held out for the 17″. ¬†Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful system that I love to use. ¬†And I wish more people would consider Macs.

Hopefully you’ve read this far, because the story above is merely background to what I actually wanted to talk about… ¬†Microsoft is, as usual, attacking the Mac. ¬†Rather than spending time improving their operating system, they’re still trying to make Apple look like the bad guy. ¬†The first tried by making non-sensical commercials with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. ¬†Then, they made “I’m a PC” ads with lots of people (which turned out to be made on Macs. ¬†Oops). ¬†Then, they put ads of little 4 year olds using the PCs. ¬†No comment.

Now, they’re getting people to go out and buy a computer under $1,000. ¬†They’re asking them to pick a feature that is important to them, and then get the computer. ¬†If the computer costs less, they’ll pay the difference. ¬†So far, a woman wanted a 17″ screen. ¬†She ended up with an HP model because it was $699, versus Apple’s $2,799 Macbook Pro.

Not a bad idea, actually. ¬†They’re essentially telling people that Macs are more expensive than PCs. ¬†Except for a few little things. ¬†Obviously, there is an enormous price discrepancy in the example above. ¬†$2,100 is nothing to sniff at. ¬†Except that they’re very different computers. ¬†I won’t get into details…but the HP has a slower processor, less RAM, a smaller hard drive, worse WiFi, no Bluetooth, a MUCH worse battery, no Firewire ports, a SIGNIFICANTLY (and this is very important) worse display card, and a few other silly things that don’t matter much (ie, the mouse, lit keyboard, etc.) ¬†I’m sure the HP has a memory card slot. ¬†But their screen is worse, too–lower resolution, and terrible viewing angles. ¬†They’re comparing a Porsche to a Chevy Aveo. ¬†Similar size, different animal.

Anyway. ¬†I don’t really have much of a vested interest in this (I think I own three shares of Apple), but every time I see someone switch to a Mac from a PC, they’re happy. ¬†And Vista…well…it’s not that bad…it’s just not good. ¬†Compare it to OS X, especially 10.5 (the current version), and…wow. ¬†Apple’s more efficient, reliable, easy-to-use, and FASTER!

Ok–I’m getting off of my Apple soapbox. ¬†I didn’t intend this to be that long, I’m sorry.

Service at Restaurants

Friday, March 27th, 2009

I had drinks with Kelly tonight at Pasadena’s premiere hippy lounge, Magnolia (on Lake Ave). ¬†The atmosphere is nice, and the music isn’t too loud, but we had a rather odd experience. ¬†Kelly ordered some kind of Sake Martini, and I asked the waiter for a suggestion; something vodka-based, not sweet, but not too strong. ¬†Rather than provide a suggestion, he turned on his heel and left. ¬†When he came back, he delivered Kelly her martini (tasty), and a pint of…some kind of mix of every fruit infused vodka. ¬†It tasted just like Flintstone’s vitamin, just with alcohol. ¬†The aftertaste was worse. ¬†After one sip, I sent it back, and asked for my usual fallback, a Greyhound with Grey Goose (vodka & grapefruit juice). ¬†It arrived, and was just fine.

While Kelly and I were discussing the differences in flavors between vodkas (she can’t really tell, I sort of can), the manager or someone of authority asked if we could move tables so they could combine the one we were sitting at, and for our inconvenience, he’d give us a free round. ¬†We accepted.

The free round came…and the drinks, while the same, were anything but. ¬†He claimed mine was made with Grey Goose–it wasn’t–or I really CAN’T tell the difference, and Kelly’s was just WAY different.

I guess you get what you pay for.

So the title is “service at restaurants”, and the reason is–the first waiter SUCKED. ¬†He left the table without confirming what he was going to get me, and didn’t check on us–I had to hunt him down to get him to switch the drinks. ¬†Then the table switch, and then more weird service.

Oh well!  At least the company was good!

Funny Comic

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Every once in a while, I’ll post up a comic I find funny. ¬†Really, it’s just a product of my laziness and lack of motivation to write a full-on post.

Today’s comic is “Speedbump”.

speedbump_20090325

Bits vs. Bytes (and why you care)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I just got off the phone with an AT&T salesman. ¬†He called to let us know about the new UVERSE service available for the house. ¬†I didn’t really care (I’m happy with our internet service for the most part), but I was curious to see what they were offering.

Me: “How fast is this connection speed?”
Him: “It’s 6 megabytes per second”
Me: “Holy shit, that’s fast!”
Him: “I know sir, it’s amazing.”
Me: “Are you sure it’s not megaBITS per second?”
Him: “Yes sir, it’s 6 megaBYTES per second. ¬†I see it right here on my screen.”
Me: “Does it say megabytes spelled out? Or is it just the letters?”
Him: “It says ‘6mbs’
Me: ” Is it a lower or upper-case ‘b’?”
Him: “It’s lower case.”
Me: ¬†“That means megaBITs. ¬†That means it’s three-quarters of a megaBYTE per second.”
Him: “Oh. ¬†Whatever.”

So there’s some importance to this… ¬†A BYTE is made up of 8 BITS. ¬†So the difference between a bit and a byte is eight-fold!

Why do you care? ¬†If your internet company is advertising a connection of 18 megabytes per second…they really mean megabits, and therefore 2.25 megabytes per second.

Don’t get fooled by a salesman’s stupidity.

I think they SHOULD advertise by megabytes per second–it makes more sense–most normal people don’t know the difference between a bit or a byte.

Technology Gap

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

There is a significant technology gap in the United States. ¬†I’m not referring to the gap between rich and poor; I’m talking about the one between “computer literate” and “computer illiterate” people. ¬†There are a ton of people from many age groups who self-label as “technology illiterate”. ¬†These people, while surviving in today’s world of modern electronics, don’t have the will or skill to learn, in depth, basic technology.

Because I am in the web programming business, I have to keep this in mind on a moment-to-moment basis.

If I need to make a webpage accessible to everyone, it has to be clear, and free of clutter that could distract a user who does not know for what to look.  Inevitably, there will be users whose skills are so lacking, that even the most simple of web page designs elude them.

I want this technology gap to be diminished.  I want to figure out what keeps someone from being able to figure out how to use a computer/phone/website.

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