Latest entries latest entries for the site derr.usen-usZinniaThu, 06 Sep 2012 13:49:24 -0500XGA finally<p>Good to see the major e-book sellers upgrading their displays to 1024 x 768 over 6" with the <a title="But Wifi or 3G?" href="">Kindle Paperlight</a> and <a title="No buttons? Probably no deal" href="">Kobo Glo</a>.&#160; After getting my Story HD I could never stomach the current 800 x 600 standard, but I have to admit the iRiver software is pretty basic. Plus a lit display would be nice. I look forward to the future used/refurb market for this generation a year or two from now.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 06 Sep 2012 13:49:24 -0500, Redeemed<p>I have a policy of increasing the number of posts on the Internet reflecting good customer service, so here's a positive note:</p><p>When returning our rental car at 3:00 AM after our vacation in Washington earlier this summer, there was no apparent request for dropping off any documentation or place to do so. Just a number of lanes to leave the car in.</p><p>A week later I got a bill for $61 with no explanation of what it was for. I went to their web site and, with some difficulty, sent them a message.</p><p>It took five weeks but they did eventually get back to me. The charge was for fuel, despite the car being returned with a full tank. Looks like their after-hours return process assumes that you'll be filling out and dropping off a form. When someone did close out the rental, they didn't acknowledge that the tank was full. The good news was that they did refund the incorrect charge. For some reason it took another week for the refund to actually process, but their email predicted that, so that was OK.</p><p>It wasn't the smoothest rental I've ever done, but it did get resolved correctly. I won't be avoiding Hertz in the future.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:29:55 -0500 Planning<p>So word eventually reached me, as it was bound to, that Maxis saw the light and is working on a real successor to SimCity 4. This may be called SimCity 5 or they may try the modern marketing theory of just calling it "SimCity", because confusing and frustrating your customers is the hot new thing this year. It looks interesting: everything is individually simulated and moves on-screen. This might address the lingering issues from SC4 relating to incorrect scale.</p><p>I started planning my next computer purchase, because I buy games so infrequently that I have to buy <a title="Although @dragonjaze's might be adequate. Maybe with yet another GPU uprgade" href="">a whole new computer</a> every time. (As a bonus a new gaming computer would let me get beyond merely installing The Sims 3.) It's supposed to come out in February, leading to contemplation of whether I should take a week off at the beginning of March or plan it for later, in case the schedule slips.</p><p>Then I read that along with everything else, they turned it into a multi-player <a title="Ocean Quigley? Awesome parents!" href="">online game that has no standalone mode</a>, and I lost interest.</p><p>More recently I've been rethinking that. My problem with it being online only is that I have to get whatever value I want out of it in the 12 months or so after release, after which the servers will surely be shut down. I would be more on-board with the concept if they priced it as a service, like an MMORPG, so that the servers would have ongoing revenue to support them. Everquest is still running, right? But pick a random EA game with an online component and unless it's no more than two years old, often closer to one, the servers are gone.</p><p>Then I started to ask myself why $60 for a year or two is worse than $10/mo. ongoing. It sounds like less. But that requires that I do all the playing I want — forever — in 2013-14. My usual mode for a game like this is to be deeply into it for a week or two, accomplish whatever it is that interests me, then ignore it for six months, then come back to it. Look at what I still play: Civ3 and SC4, both of which run great on a computer from 2005 with some new RAM and GPU.</p><p>So I don't know now. Might leave it until release and read the reviews. Maybe they'll listen to all the feedback and hack in a standalone mode? There's time, and I'm not asking for the full regional play experience if I'm not online, but so far <a title="&quot;A decent chunk of the simulation happens in the cloud.&quot; = &quot;$60 gets you half a game, not a whole game.&quot;" href="">they think it's a core feature and do not understand</a> the objection. Multiplayer is an <a title="At least they knew they needed public/private/personal options" href="">exciting new direction</a> for SimCity that I would look forward to trying out, just as long as it isn't the only thing there is.</p><p>In other news:</p><ul><li>Twitter has pretty much <a href="">pulled off the mask and begun laughing maniacally</a> while thunder and lightning roll in the background .... I need to go ahead with my plans for this site to properly replace it. But not for at least a month. I'm way too busy with my new job.</li><li>Oh, should write about that too, maybe.</li><li>Breaking news: <a title="Well, two straight women might be eventually say &quot;hi&quot; on Twitter" href="">Chicago blogger hookup in progress ...</a></li></ul> (rich_derr)Mon, 20 Aug 2012 05:52:08 -0500 Report<p>Took Mildred in for a 300,000 meow tuneup yesterday. Got the rabies vaccine updated, and a general checkup. She is performing well. All parts check out at nominal or better for a high-yowlage engine like her.</p><p>Then I got my cable hooked up again in time for football season. The Bears training camp opens today and the pre-season starts in two weeks. After all of last year's work, this install went right through with no trouble. It was done early enough for me to watch the majority of the afternoon Sox game.</p><p>So naturally I spent all night watching … the Roku, because Amazon added Fringe recently and seasons 1-3 are free with Prime. So I reviewed the end of season 2 and watched the first episode of season 3. This will be much better than getting it from the library and trying to do 22 episodes in a week.</p><p>Really, the cable is there for sports and Amazon and Netflix handle all other entertainment much better. I generally don't mind running two years behind broadcasts. Of course, I may record some stuff on the DVR when I can just to avoid the data transfer. We're using Netflix enough now to consume half of our bandwidth cap. Not a problem yet, but close enough to keep a continual eye on. Especially if I'm going to start spending more time on newer, HD shows like Fringe instead of Star Trek and other SD stuff.</p><p>Speaking of Star Trek, I've seen several TOS episodes recently that I've never seen before because they were never popular in syndication. Do you, like me, pick up on a sort of community lament for the cancellation of that series after only three seasons? Don't. Lament that most of season 3 sucked. I'd tell you the worst episode, but I'm not done yet and there was a stretch were each was worse than the previous.</p><p>A good day off. Now I can get back to work with no gaps in my schedule coming up. Jury duty last week only lasted a couple hours yet forced me to be tentative about my schedule for an entire week.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 26 Jul 2012 06:35:29 -0500<p>Just spent many of the last 16 hours in <a title="Why XP SP3 won't install on your old HP/Compaq" href="">KB953356</a> hell, which is to say having forgotten about it. I seriously have no remaining Windows troubleshooting skills. Yes, everyone, it is entirely possible to work in IT and be nearly unable to fix your own (much less anyone else's) Windows PC.</p><p>Working through the dozens of crapware entries left in the OEM sysprep image now. (It literally has <a title="Not exactly, but very nearly the list on my recovery image" href=";dlc=en&amp;docname=c00455646&amp;lc=en">100 or so</a>, although many are games that uninstall when a single "master" application uninstalls.) All this to have a Windows computer to point to when the cable guy comes to set up new Internet service I'm primarily taking because it still has a negative cost in a bundle. Mind you, I've been watching my bandwidth off and on while working and found that 2/1 Mb service would be just fine for telecommuting. It's entertainment that would suffer.</p> (rich_derr)Sat, 21 Jul 2012 17:47:04 -0500 This Isn't<p>I've done a couple direct posts to recently. Since the stated purpose (see "About" sidebar) of this sub-site is to not let other servers own my data, I should catch up:</p><ol class="notices xoxo"><li><div class="entry-title"><p class="entry-content">Stephen Covey dead at 79. Quadrant III news: urgent but not important</p> </div> <div class="entry-content"> <a rel="bookmark" class="timestamp" href=""> <abbr class="published" title="2012-07-16T18:19:03+00:00">about 3 days ago</abbr> </a> <span class="source">from <span class="device">web</span></span></div></li><li> <div class="entry-title"> <p class="entry-content">Ever read a few books by 1 author that keeps putting somewhat distinctive in her phrasing &amp; find yourself thinking in suchlike? Thanks, Kerr</p> </div> <div class="entry-content"> <a rel="bookmark" class="timestamp" href=""> <abbr class="published" title="2012-07-15T19:09:27+00:00">about 4 days ago</abbr> </a> <span class="source">from <span class="device">web</span></span></div></li></ol><p>In related news, Twitter is at it again: <a href=""></a></p><p>Generation gap? I've been battling gratuitous bashisms in #!/bin/sh scripts for a decade now. Personally I insist on installing either ksh93 or pdksh on my Linux machines: <a href=""></a></p><p>Somewhere along the line I got a recommendation for Thomas Pynchon's <a title="Important enough to have its own Wikipedia page!" href=""><em>Gravity's Rainbow</em></a>. I was surprised, when my library reservation became available, to find that it was published under the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics imprint and classified as "literature". My fears were justified after beginning to read it. From Michael Wood's review for The New York Review of Books: "<em>Gravity's Rainbow</em> is literally indescribable, a tortured cadenza of lurid imaginings and total recall that goes on longer than you can quite believe.... It is crowded, technical, serious, self-indulgent, frivolous, and very heavy going." Yet I'm encouraged by <a href=";ASIN=0099533219&amp;nodeID=283155&amp;store=books">the first Amazon review</a> that popped up, which contains instructions for reading the book. Maybe I'll speed-read the rest tonight and contemplate another go next year.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 19 Jul 2012 10:06:36 -0500 Equation<p>Just returned library materials with the new automated check-in system. Over five minutes in a 10 deep queue. Faster for @gailbrdnlibrary, slower for us. I bet the human interaction time is equal with the old way and just got transferred to the users. But the system probably cost a few million dollars so my tax bill will go up, not down from laying off some civil servants.</p> <p>Then got confused by something I looked up at home being in the new adult non-fiction section, not the main one. Fixed a couple other errors while shelf reading to try to find it nearby, though.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 05 Jul 2012 14:57:03 -0500 Me<p>The new belt holster I'm going to try for my current phone arrived today, in a week in which I have no real plans to wear pants again. The phone fits though.</p><p>Now working on using the Amazon MP3 credits I've piled up by having things like that not shipped 2-day, while they have albums on sale for 99¢.</p> (rich_derr)Tue, 03 Jul 2012 16:22:34 -0500 I'll Be a Grand Anything<p>My county's online juror pool site is nice. They mailed me the standard questionaire and gave me the option to fill it out online.&#160; By logging back in I just found, before getting anything back in the mail, that they picked the worst possible day for me to serve as a grand juror. (The one day of the month that my training class, with $500 contractual penalty for missing it, meets in July) I was able to submit my deferral request online too. All I ask is that they bump me a week and we're good to go.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:31:18 -0500 on my KARR<p>I just got enrolled in a company training class that will meet at a suburban Milwaukee location three times, first next week, and ending on September 12-13. (Seven sessions over four months, most just a couple hours and many of those online.) Hm, what is it that sounds familiar about <a title="Oh, it's on now, Milwaukee area. It's on." href="">going to Wisconsin on 9/13</a>?</p><p>I found that Netflix has the full classic Knight Rider series. I've been watching episodes from the first season that I never saw. Oh, the '80s .... KARR was weird in his first appearance. No real motivation. If I had seen it when I was seven, I can imagine how confused I would have been to hear Optimus Prime saying those things. But now I understand how he ended up buried in that beach, which made for a much better sequel in the second season.</p><p>I created a separate, non-public wishlist at Amazon to move everything like that to: things I'd like but are currently available to me in one library or another. Need to weed through the other lists now.</p><p>My car has about as many microprocessors as KITT. Why can't it drive me to and from Wisconsin? Maybe I should be thankful for its lack of attitude.</p> (rich_derr)Tue, 22 May 2012 10:22:12 -0500 Tech Update<p>Ended up buying the Blu-ray burner. I realized that if I update the firmware on the player and the region-free codes stop working, as online reports indicate they probably will, then I'm stuck with a region B/2 player. As always, piracy wins for ease of use. Transcoding takes a long time, like almost two days per disc on my laptop, but that just needs to be done once and we hardly buy things that often. It does make it worthwhile to burn transcoded copies to another disc for backup, even though they can be reproduced from the originals.</p><p>I also just got a USB charging cable so I can charge the Nokia phone from my multi-USB charger on vacation. USB charging is a small mess. Short version (really!) without citing everything: original standard = 500 mA, no problem. That's most computer USB ports. AC chargers can provide more but have to signal the phone/tablet/etc. that it's OK to pull more. Actual standard: crossed data lines = 1000 mA available. Without seeing that, some phones won't pull &gt;500mA, and some like my Nokia (and past Motorolas) won't charge at all. Apple standard: various constant voltages on data lines = various amounts available on power lines. iPads, for example, won't charge if they don't see the values they expect, so lots of third party chargers provide them. But then everything else either charges a little slowly or (Nokia, Motorola, ?) doesn't charge at all. Solution: "charging cable" with data pins crossed in micro-USB connector. Just don't confuse it with a normal, "data" cable.</p><p>While researching that, I discovered that my multimeter is reading DC voltages wrong, reporting a number about 50% higher than it should. I have nothing to check it against but if it's not the meter, then every battery and power adapter in the house is severely overpowered. This actually makes me feel better about some readings I have seen in the past. I need to try replacing its battery, which is rather old, to see if that helps it work better. Otherwise I'll eventually want a new one of those too.</p> (rich_derr)Fri, 18 May 2012 13:24:30 -0500, My Favourite Colour<p>Debating which route to take on our Blu-ray player. It keeps dying, generally not making it through any one thing that we want to watch. Options:</p> <ol><li>Update firmware at potential cost of losing region-free capabilities I paid for</li><li>Get BD drive for computer(s); rip and stream stuff to Roku via <a title="Need to factor in temptation to build out proper, unnecessary home media server" href="">Plex</a></li><li>Get DVD copies of the two things we own on BD</li></ol> <p>Respectively:</p> <ol><li>Firmware update seems worth a try since the other options involve disposing of the stupid piece of hardware anyway. Not guaranteed to work. Does involve getting it working enough to even accept an update.</li><li>A <a title="Diamond-Shaped Design realize aesthetics of technology!" href="">nice USB 3.0 external burner</a> looks like it's around $160. A nice internal drive and eSATA case might be less, but I think I'd prefer to buy rather than assemble what I want in this case. I don't have USB 3.0 anywhere, but this looks like a place to future-proof. eSATA drives look too expensive. This option opens the possibility of backing up 50 GB at a crack, which I would use if I had but don't know just how to value.</li><li>If we buy used DVDs and sell the BDs it probably costs close to nothing to downgrade the two Blu-Ray items on the shelf. We find we don't care about the resolution difference, at least not on my 47" TV. But this precludes borrowing Blu-Ray movies from friends in the future.</li></ol> <p>Also, will try to remember <a title="Vindication for everyone with a Google Alert on &quot;monkey butt&quot;" href=""></a> when I have a really bad day at work …</p> (rich_derr)Mon, 14 May 2012 14:48:57 -0500, Pandora<p>I do miss the days of one commercial in an hour, but it's OK. I wouldn't mind a 15-second commercial every three songs … if you could just sign up more than one sponsor! I just turned you off halfway through hearing the same Target Clinic ad for the sixth time in an hour.</p><p>I remember this used to bug me when the AFL was on TV too. They'd have exactly five sponsors, who would all be cheap enough to produce exactly one commercial each. So every commercial break led to the same commercials, often in the same order too. I haven't had cable during the AFL season since the bankruptcy/dissolution, so I wonder if it's the same today.</p> (rich_derr)Sun, 13 May 2012 03:16:49 -0500<p>I know I'm in bed late when Dinah has to come all the way upstairs to get me. Good secretary!</p> (rich_derr)Tue, 08 May 2012 08:14:54 -0500, Samsung gets it<p>Puts a notification LED on a mainstream phone, per <a title="THE site for phone reviews" href="">GSM Arena's preview</a>. (And my respect for that review site races even higher for pointing it out!)</p><p>This is the one. (133g, 4.8" screen, physical home button, LED, and two things no longer automatic in 2012: big replaceable battery and microSD slot) Now to just decide on a target price. I bet it's going to be $800 to get in the U.S. the day after release. (Update: pre-order price is <a title="Or $770 + $5 shipping if you prefer" href=";storeAttribute=cps&amp;submit.see-all-buying-options=see-all-buying-options&amp;condition=new">$775</a> as of 5/24. Am I good?) I'm not interested in how the U.S. carriers will screw it up, either: i9300 for me, thanks, with "merely" 21 Mbps HSDPA+. But probably not until the end of the year. And I can only hope no bad news comes out for reception (I'll accept Samsung average) or audio quality after testing.&#160; Update: everything is great in the <a href="">full review</a>!</p><p>Meanwhile I'm carrying my E73 for a while. I got maps loaded for vacation — thanks to the folks that worked out the <a title="Nokia Maps became Ovi Maps, but Ovi Store became Nokia Store? Does anyone care?" href="">"alternative map loader" page for Ovi Maps</a> — not that I expect to be out of data coverage. I'm enjoying having a light phone in a holster on my hip again. Fell in love with the keyboard harder than ever after touching it. I think work's downgrade to a Curve got me in practice with what is still, while tolerable, a too narrow keyboard. Not enjoying all the known issues with Symbian. But I'm planning on taking this one out of town. Light, better camera, and offline navigation, yet I won't mind losing it.</p> (rich_derr)Thu, 03 May 2012 21:13:25 -0500