Thursday, August 29, 2002

Tech Support


When Melly told me this story today I asked her to write it down so I could share this! OMG! I know there are those who don't really understand computers very well, but come ON! They even color code the plugs now days. At least the woman didn't act like she knew what she was doing and followed instructions well (except for the color codes apparently!).

Enjoy! Comments that she added after the event are in italics.



I am the help desk person for the place I work. Here is one of those tech calls from hell.

(Melly – M, Them – T)

T: Hi we can’t boot the server.

M: Ok, I’ll help you with that. Do you get an error message?

T: Yes

M: What does the error message say?

T: Keyboard not connected.

M: Do you have a keyboard attached to it?

T: No

(Why am I not f-king surprised!)

M: Can you attach a keyboard to it?

T: Yes, I will do that.

M: Please do so and then turn pc off and back on again.

M: Do you still get the error?

T: Yes says no keyboard attached.

M: Does it say anything else?

T: Yes hit f1 to continue. I tried to hit f1 there is no f1.

(I should have said please turn of the pc and do not touch it tell I can schedule a time to come fix it, But I having patience of a saint… *GRIN*)

M: Explain, At the top of the keyboard above the letter and number keys there is a row of keys f1, f2, f3,f4, etc see them?

T: There are no letter or number keys.

(Of course at this point I am wonder what the f-k did she attached to the pc?)

M: What does the object look like you attached to the pc?

M: It looks just like the other one attached to it?

(I think for a second and ask.)

M: Oval shaped object with a wire attached to it?

(I didn’t dare say mouse, probably scared the dumb ass)

T: Yes there are 2 of them. (Why do vulgar names come to mind right about now?)

M: Please unplug the mouse and go ask someone else to get you a KEYBOARD

(I spelled it out had her write it down too. With specific instructions to have someone else install it the keyboard.)

T: Oh thank you so much! I’ve never used a pc before; this is going to be exciting!

Virginia!! There is no damn Santa Claus!! And God help me! (Marcs' note: I have no idea who Virginia is!)

More on the web browser security issue



Mr. P.J. Connolly, the writer of, “Security Advisor” for Infoworld.com and InfoWorld Magazine as written about the recent SSL security problem faced by Microsofts’ Internet Explorer, “RESPONSE REQUIRED”. It turns out that it is NOT a web browser problem but a bug in Windows itself. Yikes! That’s not good!

He also notes that the open-source web browser for Linux, Konqueror, was vulnerable, but was fixed in two days. IE is STILL not fixed. Another open-source web browser that was buggy, but was quickly fixed was Opera.

Read his article for yourself. It is more a commentary than a document detailing the facts, however it addresses some important issues and should make you think about the software you choose to use.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Web Browsers


Alright people, it's time we had a little talk. I've been checking out my site statistics and I've discovered there are a few of you running some VERY old web browers.

You do realize they are free right? The pie chart below will give you a break down of the browers used to visit my site.


I'm glad to see that 91% of my viewers are running newer and safer browsers (though this could be argued with the recent Internet Explorer SSL flaw!)

That said, the rest need to consider, very seriously, upgrading. Netscape 0.X??? That has GOT to be a bug. It's possible that SiteMeter simply cannot distinguish properly the newer web browsers, but it's also possible there are people out there truely running Netscape 3.0 on an old 486 in the middle of no where in a country that barely supports 14.4 modems. In that case, I'm glad they are even able to go online, hope it's not illegal for them!

The WebTV users are forgiven. I can't expect them to upgrade. Actually I suspect that 2% may be my Grandma. She enjoys here WebTV. Hey if it works, why not.

Ok so enough lecturing. You want to upgrade now after I've exposed your deep dark little secret? Or are you concerned about the SSL security risk?

Here are your options:


I hope that helps. If you are running an older PC, Mozilla and/or Opera may be your better bets. Those two also support Linux and other operating systems.

If you have any questions let me know.

Thursday, August 22, 2002


Trying out my new digital drawing tablet


I was just playing with my new Wacom tablet. I'm still learning how to draw with it, but I like what I can do now. It's SOOOOO much more flexible than a mouse for painting.

I hope you find this interesting. I've always liked drawing eyes.


Please comment. I'm really impressed with the level of free-form drawing I can achieve now with this digital tablet. It's almost like drawing on paper. Not quite there, but pretty close.

It only took me about 20-30 minutes to do this picture. There was more to it, but it was incomplete so I cropped it out.


Update 06/09/2011: Link to original image was broken; corrected.

Cool Lyrics


Here is a challenge for you. Here are some great song lyrics. Can you tell me who? I already know actually, I just think they are great and wanted to share. Its actually a great song, but the music may not appeal to many.

WILL WE CLOSE OUR EYES
WILL WE FALL FOR THOSE LIES
OR WILL WE MAKE THE CONCLUSION
THAT THIS LIFE'S A DELUSION

WILL WE DO WHAT WE'RE TOLD
'TIL THE DAY THAT WE'RE SOLD
OR WILL WE RAISE OUR VOICES
MAKE ALTERNATIVE CHOICES

WHAT'S UP

OUR SILENCE IS DEATH
WE SHALL RESIST THE VIOLENCE
AND WE'LL NEVER GIVE UP
ONLY DEATH IS SILENCE

ARE WE VICTIMS OR WINNERS
BELIEVERS OR SINNERS
DO WE SIT IN THE SADDLE
OR ARE WE JUST CATTLE

ARE WE WRETCHED OR BOLD
ARE WE GARBAGE OR GOLD
CAN WE MAKE THE RIGHT CALL
CAN WE CHANGE IT AT ALL

ACCEPTANCE IS SURRENDER
VILE AND VICIOUS SLANDER
WE DON'T WANT TO BE RULED
BY A HANDFUL OF FOOLS

My idea is still good, but not original


My Entertainment PC idea that I came up with and which I still think IS a good idea, is not as special as I thought.

This article (DVRs following the path of 8-tracks?) points out that TiVo-like stand alone devices are not a compelling enough product on their own, though highly popular with customers. The article makes better sense of that seemingly contradictory statement.

The article also points out that Microsoft, with various computer manufactures, will be releasing a version of Windows called the Media Center Edition. Sounds perfect for my box, but I doubt it'll be availible in the retail channels. Of course I bet in a few months, after its release, it'll be availible at computer shows. You know, the ones where they have used software and hardware that you're really not sure how they got ahold of it.

I still think my plan will be cheaper than anything Gateway or Dell would put out, but who knows.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

ATTENTION EVERYONE!!


You know the movie cliche where the guy stands out in a public location and yells his love for the woman he loves and doesn't care who hears it? Well that is what I'm doing.

A few friends and family know of her but it's time I announce to the world that I in fact have a woman that I love very dearly. She lives a long way from here but that doesn't stop us. We spend nearly every day talking online or on the phone. We arrange for little online “dates” where we have fun together, talk, play games or other things.

There are things that prevent us from being together, but they will not last forever. And when we are together I know that will be it. I truly believe that she is my soul-mate. Period. End of story. We dream happy dreams of our future together. But we also work together today. She helps me with things like my finances, my maturity, my confidence and other great things. She has many times been able to give me the tech answer I've needed when I was stumped and I get to do the same for her. We know how to work together and work out or problems, even though we cannot be together. Sure being together would make things stronger and sometimes easier, but that doesn't mean that what we have now isn't real.

That is a big reason I have not said anything until now. I'm sick and tired of people saying it's not real, that I can't love someone online. Even from those I would hope could understand or at least accept, my friends and family, they treat this like its a bad thing. Please please, if you love me or are a true friend, understand that I am HAPPY with her. She balances me and I balance her. When we are being over the top, the other will cool the situation down. Isn't that what a good relationship is? Cooperation and caring?

Well from now on I'm not hiding it from anyone. If you don't like it, tough! If you don't understand, learn. I'm perfectly happy to try to explain it as best I can. But keep in mind, could you explain your feelings and actions when you fell in love with your mate?

And please don't try to argue against this. I've made up my mind. I've invested the last three years of my life and plan to invest the rest of them. Do you really think you can tell me something that I've not already heard a hundred times, that'll make me leave her?

I keep being told to get a real girl-friend. What is she? She is not a figment of my imagination. She is REAL.

She really truly made my birthday yesterday something special. I left her out of my thank yous last night when I blogged about it. I edited it afterward, but the damage was done. I left her out. That was wrong. I did that because trying to explain our relationship is difficult. So what? Why must she suffer so my life is easier? Why must she suffer because those who are supposed to care about me do not want to accept her? I'm not going to allow that to happen any more.

I LOVE YOU MELLY AND I DONT CARE WHO HEARS ME!!

Birthday


Sorry been busy. I had an awesome birthday yesterday. Friends (San and John) took me to lunch and dinner and I saw Men In Black 2, and a beautiful loving nut that I'm pretty nuts for myself for keeping me laughing and happy all day. It was a really great day. I love my friends and my family. They made it a 28th birthday to remember.

I'll try to write more soon. Busy boy here!

Monday, August 19, 2002

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Digital Illiteracy


Do you know someone who is technically illiterate? What I mean is someone who doesn't “get” technology, specifically computers and the Internet? Do you get frustrated when they pout off misguided prejudices regarding programmers, geeks, hackers, and the technology industry? I know I do.

We are looked at like social misfits and losers. We are treated with quiet disdain because those above us know that we control the infrastructure. We control the networks and the data of the world. Do you think the CEO likes that the network administrator has access to all the companies data? I know mine doesn't. There is virtually no data at my office that I do not have access too.

We are becoming the labor class of this information age when we should be the leaders. We know what is going on, the ignorant don't. Look at the music and film industries. They are so scared they are lobbying the government to protect their way of life. Why? Because technology has shifted the market and they cannot do anything else about it. Rather than adapting they are choosing to die and die very undignified.

This article, a commentary, brings up some things to think about. Most specifically why are not more geeks involved in politics. It's obvious that politicians need technically savvy advisers, who are not in the pocket of a lobby group.

Using 9-11 as a vehicle, bills are being moved forward, WITH LITTLE OPPOSITION, that will give the government the right to snoop on the Internet, without a court order and to place life sentences on hackers. While well meaning, to help deter and prevent terrorism, they will be abused. If a hacker got into AOL-TimeWarner, who's to say they would not push for a excessively heavy sentence. I doubt any judge would push for life, but AOL-TW is a pretty powerful entity (for the time being) and might actually be able to do it! The House approved this 385 to 3!! Only THREE people disagreed with this. Couldn't our jails be better utilized keeping murderers, rapists and other such people off the street?

I don't agree with what Kevin Mitnick, the famous hacker, did but he was tossed in jail for 22 months and even more if you consider the time spent in detention before trial. He was then put on strict probation forbidding him to use phones and computer and the like. I won't go into the details, but he is still to this day scrutinized heavily every day. What about the rapist? No one is watching him after he spends his time in jail. While the victim has to fear for her life!

One commentator to the article i mentioned a bit ago noted that it because of fear and ignorance. When you don't understand something you fear it. It's a natural reaction. Our politicians are scared of technology and geeks and are all too happy to accept the lies (and money) that the lobbyists are telling them. “They are going to ruin our industry,” they say. The fools just don't get it. Technology and geeks will not be denied. It looks like the old guard will fight tooth and nail to their graves too. It's really too bad. Working together I'm sure the results would be much better for all. But this has all happened before.

WELCOME TO THE REVOLUTION!

The GAP


I thought I'd share this with everyone. I was at the GAP website today and discovered they have a SALE page. Here I found nice clothes at VERY reasonable prices. They had a number of slacks for only $10. Unfortunatly they were out of my size, but hey, maybe they have yours.

I just thought I'd share this since it surprised me. I'll definitly check back there first next time I need some new clothes.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

Entertainment PC part 2 (or 3 depending on how you look at it)


I've been working on my Entertainment PC price list some more. I've added the hard drives and priced out two systems. A cheap one and an expensive one. I think I can get the cheap one even cheaper, but the ASUS site is down and I'm get tired.

I found a neat Shuttle barebones kit (SS51G). It's a nice small case, basically a 7 inch cube, give or take. That's neat, but it only has one 5 1/4 inch bay so that means the Sound Blaster card that I wanted to use, which has an internal I/O face that goes in a 5 1/4 bay would not work. Luckly there is one with an exteral I/O box, but that means it'll have to be straped to the top or something. Not as pretty.

I also checked out IBM for slim machines. We just ordered a NetVista M42 for work last week. It's a tower model, but they make it in a slim desktop too. The great things about it was that it was fast (2.26 GHz w/ 533MHz bus), cheap (only $960!) and QUIET. I seriously had to put my ear to the machine to make sure it was even on! That would be ideal for this application. IBM is using a newer technique that turns on the CPU fan only when its necessary, so there is less noise. The fan on the back of the system is slower and thus quieter. It still moves air well even at the lower rpm. Alas this price was a special business price and cannot even be found online. After building the machine and then adding all the A/V components the machine was more expencive than my current pricy machine. Two grand is a bit extream. At that point the value has been lost.

For two grand you could buy a DVD player, pre-amp with 5.1 surround and numberous I/O ports, and a used PC with a large hard drive for the MP3s and just plug it into the stereo. You'd even have lots left over for a good set of speakers. Ok so you wouldn't have the PVR and that to me is the core of this project, so maybe it's still worth it, but damn this has become a more expensive prospect than I expected.

My trip to Super Walmart


Ok it's not like i've never shopped there before, but today was different. Normally I get my groceries at Kroger, but today I thought I'd give Walmart a try since i'd been told about some good deals and I need to save some money. The second reason was that I went to the mall to buy some new pants, as my others were starting to look a bit ratty. Have you ever noticed that Dockers ($30) wear out REALLY fast? I had a pair of nice wrinkle free slacks from Target that lasted three times as long. I finally had to give them up, as work pants, when they started to fade badly. I still wore them around the house for another 6 months before I donated them to Goodwill.

So here I am at the mall looking at slacks and cargo pants. I really like cargos. Not the super baggy skater type, the nice clean preppy boy kind. They were all either too big or too expensive. They had some nice ones for $20 at Old Navy (I hate that store), but none in my size. Everything else I saw was in the $45 range! Screw that. I saw the Dockers too, but I wasn't going to pay $30 for them. If they had been around $20 I would have considered them. I do like the way they fit.

So I left the mall empty handed and a little peeved. I figured there would be some back-to-school sales going or something. I guess I was a week late.

My journey now led me to Walmart. After picking up a few other items I checked out their selection of slacks. They didn't have anything OVER $20. Whohoo! The problem is I STILL had a hard time finding anything my size! UGH! I wear a 30x32, 30 inch waist, 32 inch inseam. You have no idea, unless you're the same size as me, how hard it is to find pants! It's the same with jeans. Its everyone a lard butt? Am I really so skinny that I'm a minority? God that's sad. And when I go up to a 32 waist, the length seems to drop to 30, which means they'll be too short. The only place I can find pants that fit are those places that have them for $45-50 a pair!

Anyway, after I found a couple pair that fit and some socks to match I did some grocery shopping. I was very surprised how much better their selection of produce and ethnic food where. I like to cook chinese and mexican and I like to use authentic ingredience or the best I can get anyway, short of going to a specialty market.

I also had fun people watching. It was amazing the diversity you find in a Walmart. I was also pleased at how friendly everyone was. With the exception of one guy who was getting impatient because he couldn't race through the aisles. I moved so he could get by. I very obviously moved for him. He only just remembered his manners and said thank you as was already behind me. Oh well. At least he expressed some gratitude.

I realized that I have been acting a bit snobish lately. I dunno if its the company I keep or just the city in general but I've been acting like I'm above being a little "red" now and again. Yea right. I didn't grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I wore K-Mart clothes and Pay-Less shoes. Yes I can afford better now, but maybe I shouldn't be. I need to back off and remember my roots a bit more. I want to buy a house or plot of land in 2 years. I have a lot of saving to do in that time. That means I'm gonna have to be a little more careful with my money.

Today was a good day. I learned a good lesson.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Sweet but not cheap


I have my preliminary product hunting done for my Entertainment PC. The prices were a little higher than I expected, but this was a quick run through of the pieces and parts. I might be able to shave a few dollars off by going with an AMD processor instead of an Intel. I also could save money going to 256 MB of RAM vs. 512 MBs. That is a bit over kill.

Nuts! I forgot the hard drives! I was going to get a smaller 40GB (or maybe a 20 if I can find one) for the main drive. It would be partitioned into two drives. One drive would simply be for the OS and other software. The second larger partition would be for my MP3s. I would then get a larger 100-120 GB drive for the secondary. This would be strictly used for video and PVR usage as those will eat hard drive space like its popcorn. Thus the need for the DVD drive to burn the shows I want to keep to DVD.

I've not listed it but I was also considering DVD authoring software. I imagine any DVD burner will have some OEM software bundled with it, but it's highly debatible how good it will be. Being of the creative mindset I would enjoy creating DVD menus.

I've also considered that I may forgo the DVD burner on this PC all together. But the burner and authoring software on my regular PC and just transfer the video over the network when I needed it to burn. Doing this I could maybe get away with an 80 or 100 GB drive, instead of the newer 120s. Also standard DVD drives are pretty cheap in comparison to the burners. I could pick up a cheap DVD player for $60-80 probably.

The audio and video cards are pretty high end, but they have to be. They are the meat and potatos of this system. Skimp on those and they system won't be worth anything.

Cases can vary greatly in price. The one I picked is aluminum, thus more durable and small enough to place in your entertainment center case.

The software is a pain. Most of it is optional, but Windows isn't. That's a bit of a requirement. Linux could be subsituted if you knew what you were doing and the audio/video cards were supported. To me that's more work than it is worth.

I also haven't mentioned that this machine would actually make a pretty mean game station, depending on video output. I've played with connecting my PC to my TV while playing Unreal and Quake and found that the TV couldn't keep up well. Most video games have refresh rates above 30 frames per second, for optimal playing. NTSC, the TV standard here in the US is right at 30 frames per second. Your TV cannot go faster than that. It wasn't designed to do so. This could make gaming choppy.

I'm going to bed. My brain is full.

My dream entertainment PC


I've been thinking about this a lot and I've desided a fun project would be to build an entertainment center PC. Gateway tried this a couple years ago with mild results. The unit was pretty big, but had a DVD player, numberous audio and video attachments and a big 32 inch TV/monitor. The monitor is pretty impressive, but the PC left something to be desired. Our system at work, that we us for our conference room has been pretty much gutted and rebuilt by me. The functionality is still there but with better parts. So I started thinking lately, why not make one for myself.


The funtions I'm looking for are:


  • PVR (Personal Video Recorder). This is like what a Tivo will do. Allow you to cache video for replay, fast forward and pause. I also want to be able to keep certain shows or movies that I like. Basically I could watch a PPV movie, record it and store it on the hard drive and watch it again later when I want.

  • DVD playback and recording. I'd want a DVD recorder. It would play regular DVDs as well as make them. That movie I recorded I could put on DVD (for personal use!) and free up hard drive space. Sure I could compress the hell out of that movie and maybe get it to fit on a CD but why? I might as well put it onto VHS tape if I was going to do that, the quality would be about the same.

  • 5.1 suround sound audio. Many of the better audio cards on the market today will give you all the attachments you need as well as 5.1 or even THX encodeing and decoding. What this means is you can get an audio signal that is equivalent to those more expensive rack-mount systesms.

  • A video card with coaxial cable in, with TV tuner and S-video out (and/or composite). This will allow me to bring in my cable TV and/or VCR directly into the computer, for recording purposes, but also allowing for video playback, either DVD or stored video on the hard drive, via the S-video or composite connection into the TV.

  • An IR port with remote. This will be a bit tricky to find, but not impossible.

  • A really big hard drive or two. A later possible upgrade would be to go with SCSI for faster hard drive speed and better data through-put. Standard IDE drives are bigger and cheaper but lack sustained speed. In small bursts they can rival a SCSI drive, but for streaming content and continuous read/write activity SCSI out proforms IDE any day. That is why most servers and high-end workstations (where the video and audio editors work) use SCSI instead of IDE.

  • Memory and CPU speed are less of a concern, but I probably would go with a Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon XP with half a gigabyte of memory, just because it's so cheap these days.


So that's the start of the plan. Now to go hunting for the details. I'll list all parts and prices on a page that I'll link to in a bit. This will give others a way of recreating this project for themselves and for family to consider as gift possiblities. ;)


I'm also going to compair the final price and functionality against the standard consumer products that I'm consolidating. I believe that my PC will be considerably cheaper, but we'll see.

Blogger on the fritz?


I've edited and finished my story from last night, but I post it and it shows, in Blogger, that it has posted but my website does not show it! Ugh! WTF?

Food, Football and "AHHH F@#$!!" (and not in a good way)



I got two tickets to a Tennessee Titans pre-season game against the Raiders (I still want to call them the Oakland Raiders). Our company has tickets for customers and guests when they come into town. We do the same for Hockey. It's a good fun way to treat our customers when they come by for training or for prospective customers when we want to butter them up.

So I got one and my department coworker got one. I considered them a birthday present since his B-day is on the 19th and mine is on the 20th. (Little b-day plug there) However after lunch yesterday Eric started feeling not so good. He also didn't relish the idea of driving home so late. Since he's about an hour out of town, give or take, I can see his point.

So last minute I asked my coworker and friend San if she wanted to go. And I know how you ladies LOVE to be asked out at the last minute, but she likes sports so she perked up quick. She had other plans, but they were canceled, but not until about 4:30 and I was freaking wondering if I was going to have to go alone! That would have SUCKED!

So we changed and consolidated vehicles (drove mine) and headed downtown. Traffic was heavy but not too terrible. We got down by the parking garages and San tells me to turn down this alley. That there is a secret parking spot there and no one gets towed there. I was a bit hesitant and uncertain. She said, "Trust me." So I did.

We walked down to Buffalo Billiards and hunted for some seats. This was at 5:45. By 6:15 we FINALLY got our order taken. But only because I went up to the bar and ordered there. The wait-staff was pretty busy or under staffed. We got our food at 6:30-6:40 and chowed! The game started at 7! The Santa Fe Dip sandwich is pretty good. Nothing special, but it tasted good. Not worth the $7.55 that is cost though. Oh well.

We checked our watches and realized we needed to get going. Chugged our beers and headed out. The walk to the Coliseum was pretty easy and without incident. We got to our seats, in section 103, and found our other coworkers (we have 4 seats).

It was a good game and we pretty much crushed the Raiders. They fumbled a lot and we had a couple of interceptions. It was 14 to nothing before San and I even got to our seats and we were only about 3 minutes late!

This was my first NFL game that I've been to. I've been to college games (GO BIG RED!) but they don't quite compare. It's different. I think I prefer going to hockey games better. The crowd really made the game, but as for watching it I might as well have watched it on TV. I spent more time watching the jumbo-tron than the field!

One bonus was watching the peewee football during half-time. These little 5-7 year olds out there in helmets and pads that are as big as they are trying to play foot ball. It wasn't real organized but they were as good as some college flag-football games I've been in! They were pretty cute and funny. The stadium commentator was calling the games too, that was funny. They had two teams on each end of the field. The teams even had cheerleaders! Cute little girls following the leads of the adult cheerleaders. I don't think they made much of an impact on the boys playing other than, "EEwww! Girls! Coodies!!" The other boys on the side line were cheering more. They were jumping up and down in excitement. I could imagine them bouncing thinking, "I wanna play! I wanna play!!" All the crowd loved them. I mean how could you not?

About half way through the 4th quarter we decided to go ahead and leave. People just meandering out of the stadium This bugged San. Have you ever seen those people on the Interstate who weave through the lanes to get ahead. That is what San was like. I was keeping up and trying not to step on her heals, like I did three other times that evening. I got threatened with having to carry her if I broke her shoe. I'm not a big man, but pretty strong, but still, it was a long walk to the car! Plus I suspect I would have been beaten with the shoe before having to carry her. LOL

On the way back to the car I joked how it would suck if my car had gotten towed. I was told to stop worrying about it. As we walked up the alley I could see other cars, mine wouldn't have been visible from our angle, and I felt confident that mine was going to be there. We rounded the corner and....ummm...that red SUV is not my car.

Since there were other cars there my first worry was, 'Has my car been stolen?' But I quickly decided that it was more likely that it had just been towed. We looked around and saw signs that said you'd be towed, but none that listed a phone number. I think at this point I was in a bit of shock.

We walked up the alley further and found a towing sign that had a phone number. San called it since my phone was in my car and I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind. They place she called didn't have the car, but they suggested another company that might. She called them. No luck, but they gave us another company to call. She called them and they did have it, though she had trouble hearing or understanding what they were saying. I'm not sure which as all I was hearing was, "What did you say?"

Before calling this company a couple walked up to their car that was still parked safe and sound. The woman asked if we had been towed. She also knew about the spot where we parked and commented that is was one of her secret spots too. This gave San some more credibility about the "trust me" thing, but honestly I wasn't really mad at her. They offered to give us a ride, but be declined. OOPS! Cuz just as soon as they left we found the car and where it was. We missed our ride! Just then a friendly and very "country" guy was walking down the alley. San asked him if he was going home and if we could have a ride. I have to give her this, she is a bold woman. He apologized and said he lived down town but was nice enough to give us suggestions of how to get down town quickly and hit the least amount of post game traffic. But, uh, dude we don't have a car! At least he tried, in his camo hunting cap. He lives downtown Nashville?? I guess I've been around the cosmopolitan groups too much. Forgot how decent "real" people can be.

So we went walking and this is were I started to run afoul. I suggested finding an ATM as I was worried that the towing company wouldn't take plastic. San pointed out a cabbie would require cash too. Good thinking and the last of my good thinking that evening.

San felt that getting a cab so soon after the game would be a bad idea as we'd spend a fortune on cab fare for just sitting in traffic. No thanks. So the next question was where to wait out the crowd. We had three choices; in a bar, in a hotel lobby (there are a number in downtown Nashville) and just sitting outside. Neither of us was too thrilled with hanging out in a hot smoky bar. The idea of having a beer at that point didn't really appeal to me and I was already hot and sticky from the game and the 100% humidity.

This is where I started to get into trouble. I have a lot of pride and I did not feel that it was right or appropriate for us to loiter in a hotel lobby, even if it was nice an cool. I was also thirsty. I just wanted water but I wasn't going to get it. I started getting pissy. San wanted me to choose and I couldn't. I'm learning that words and phrases like, "whatever" and "I don't care" are like nails across the chalkboard for women. I tend to pick strong willed women as friends too, so needless to say San was NOT please with my answers.

At this point San looks me in the eyes and says very sternly and with an edge, "You are making an already difficult situation worse! Make a decision before I really get mad!" Needless to say I snapped to attention. One, this was right on a street corner and people were walking by us and a noticed a few people glancing at us. I think I even saw a look from a guy that seemed to say, "I feel for ya bro." I didn't really make a definite choice but at that point I think it was clear that I didn't want to hang out in a hotel either. Actually I think I may have even said so. So San took the lead and we walked up the street a couple blocks and then over. San had a plan. I wasn't sure what exactly it was, but at that point I wasn't going to argue.

San was trying to get to Broadway, the "main" street that goes through downtown and westward. There would have been lots of traffic, but lots of taxi's too. I'm guessing that was the plan. But we walked down the street and ran into Renaissance Hotel. As this is the same place we hold our company users conference (this will be the third year in a row) I felt more ok with hanging out here. We walked in and San asked about getting a cab. The front desk pointed us back outside to the guest drop-off/pickup area. There one of the hotel employees could hail us a cab. This was a stroke of luck for us because frankly we were both pretty frazzled at this point.

The guy was pretty busy so it took about 5 minutes for us to get him to call us a cab, but then we were off. The cabby got us to the place and the dude wanted cash for the tow. Thank god for the ATM. The "almost" uh oh was that on the phone they told San it was $55 for the tow. This guy wanted $65. Did he rip us off? I dunno. Between San and I we gave him all the cash we had. She had to dig in her purse for change to get to $65 as we only had $64 in actual bills.

Finally we hit the road. At this point we were only about 1/2 mile from where we work! We could have just taken a cab to and from the game and saved money! The tickets were $40 a piece, dinner was about $30 with drinks, the cab ride was about $10 and the tow was $65. Glad I didn't buy the tickets! Needless to say I'm parking in the parking garages from now on!

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Me


Here is one of those "all about me" e-mails and my answers:
1. LIVING ARRANGEMENT?My own single bedroom apartment.
2. WHAT BOOK (s) ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW? Visions by Michio Kaku
3. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Nothing, I dont use one. I have an optical mouse.
4. FAVORITE MAGAZINES? European Car and I read InfoWorld (IT rag) at work
5. FAVORITE SMELLS? Home cooking and nice simple perfume on women
6. LEAST FAVORITE SMELLS? Mold, Mildew and barf
7. FAVORITE SOUNDS? the ocean, the wind through leaves or tall grass
8. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? The guilt of knowing you did something that hurt someone else
9. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING? was that the first or second alarm?
10. FAVORITE COLOR? Blue
11. HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU ANSWER THE PHONE? No real pattern. I get too few calls.
12. FUTURE CHILD'S NAME? Uncertain, but I like Calvin.
13. MOST IMPORTANT IN LIFE? happiness
14. FAVORITE FOODS? Grilled Stuffed Burritos, pizza (like who doesnt like pizza?) and french fries or potatos in general
15. CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA? Vanilla
16. DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE FAST? Oh yea! Zoom zoom!
17. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? You're kidding right?
18. STORMS - COOL OR SCARY? Way cool!
19. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Audi Fox ( I dont remember the year)
20. IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON, DEAD OR ALIVE? Michio Kaku. WHY??? I could talk to this guy for hours and hours about all kinds of geeky stuff.
21. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK? Usually just a Miller Genuine Draft of a Fosters. I don't drink enough to care much more than that.
22. ZODIAC SIGN? Leo and born in the year of the Tiger. Meow baby! lol
23. DO YOU EAT STEMS OF BROCCOLI? yuck! I dont eat any of it!
24. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB WHAT WOULD IT BE? Retired freelance artist.
25. IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT COLOR WOULD IT BE? I'd like to do purple again.
26. EVER BEEN IN LOVE? yea.
27. IS THE GLASS HALF EMPTY OR HALF FULL? full I'm generally an optimist.
28. FAVORITE MOVIE? TRON or Aliens, ya I know I'm a dork
29. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS? Pretty much
30. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? A random shoe and my cat when someone visits
31. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER? 7
32. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? NHL Hockey, but only in person. Go Preds!

Tutorials


I've finally created a tutorial page. Click the fire image to the left. It will take you there. It's still in its infancy so it's not as pretty as it could be yet. But I wanted to get it created. The beautification can occur later.

The big deal is that I got Joni's archive tutorial done. Please let me know if that is what you need. If you need more info, let me know.

Acidman, I wasn't "on" anything last night. LOL I have really strange dreams all the time. Maybe I'm just insane.
"You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for"

Battle Dream


Keep in mind while reading this that I have never served in the military.

I was in the Army fighting Nazis. I was in a garage with the rest of my group. The guy in charge, sargent or whatever, was my real-life boss Dave, who was in Air-Born and has served big time.

We were negotiating with some dwarves who had sided with the Nazis (yea i know, sounds silly). They were willing to spy for us if we gave them this big generator thing that was in the garage. We agreed on that. Then they saw this little girl who was in another part of the garage. What she was doing there, who knows, but she was under our care. They wanted her too. We said she wasn't "for sale". They didn't like that and said everything is for sale and tried to grab her. I stepped in at that point while Dave grabbed the girl and protected her.

The head dwarf pulled a combat knife (like the kind Rambo used) and stuck me in the left arm right where the bicept meets with the shoulder. I could feel the burning sensation of severed nerves and warm blood. Before I knew it though I had reached down with my right arm and grabbed my gun. It was a small automatic weapon, like an Uzi. I started shooting, as did the other troops with me. Three were only three or four of the dwarves, so it was a quick fire fight. But I can recall another dwarf had drawn his knife and me shooting at the blade. The bullets deflected off for an instant before breaking the blade and killing the man.

At this point I woke up and I could still feel my nerves kinda feeling wierd around my left arm where I had been "stabbed".

Monday, August 12, 2002

Busted!


Joni already got me linked from her site. I guess I have some work to do now. Thanks Joni. I'll get your link up later along with Kates.

Today's Tip


I'm sure you've all seen those GLAD Cling Wrap commercials out there. Well they make all these great claims on how their wrap clings better and tears easily, blah blah blah.

IT'S A BUNCH OF CRAP! Their Cling Wrap is junk. It doesn't cling well, even to itself. If you try to stretch it at all, it'll break. The last roll of plastic wrap I had was some cheap off brand stuff. It worked great! And it probably cost half as much.

Try it for yourself if you must, but I know I'll be GLAD when my roll is gone!

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Quick Note


I'm heading to bed but I wanted to give a couple of shout-outs.

Kate has been so kind to have commented on my blog a couple times and even linked here. Muchas gracias Kate. I'll put a more perminant link to your site, KateSpot in the next day or two.

Joni, whom has not yet linked to me, is still cool cuz she likes the movie Clerks. Anyway, she requested that I assist in explaining how I got my blog archive list on my main page. I will write up this tutorial very soon. Please be patient. I'm a busy man. Well sometimes anyway. I will get to it however. (PS I was kidding about the link...kinda.)

nighty night.....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

...tired...

I forgot how much work roofing can be. We only layed 6 bundles but my buddy/boss for some insane reason bought BLACK shingles. I really wonder about him sometimes. I gave him crap about his construction skills all day too. I know it's only a shed but wow, Bob Villa would have a heart attack in horror! Oh well. I guess I should have come over and helped before it got to the roofing stage.

I'm a bit burnt too. My arms and neck are a bit red. It's official, I'm a red neck. At least for a day or two until it fades away again to my normal pinkish-white color.

After we were done we hit his pool. AHHHHHHHH!!!! That was awesome. Actually it was a bit cold but that's ok. The kids followed shorty. We dropped diving rings and other stuff in the deep end and went diving for them. Lots of fun.

So here I am home and tired. Time for dinner. Laters. :)

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Watching the kids


I'm playing "The Sitter" tonight. My friend, who happens to be my boss (We were friends before he became my boss) went to a wedding out of town with his wife. So I'm here at his house watching the kids. Actually they are in bed now. Four little darling SPAWNS OF SATAN!! Actually I really enjoy them, though they always wear me out. They range from 6 to 12 (i think). Three girls and one boy, poor guy. Oh course they all love me. ;)

Actually that's sometimes a problem. I'll come over and get tackled! "HI MR. MARC!!" Yes, the actually call me Mr. Marc. They do have some manners while taking you down.

I've known them for as long as I've lived here, a little over 3 years now. I tell ya what, it's freaky when suddenly the little girl you were hauling up on your shoulders and running around with one visit suddenly is too heavy to carry easily. No not fat, just growing! As it is I can only throw the youngest in the pool now. The others I just have to push! Though soon the oldest girl and the boy (sorry, I'm omiting their names as I don't have permision) are nearly big enough to pull this skinny computer geek into the pool with them!

Actually today the eldest girl (12) commented when I was tossing the youngest (6) into the pool how striking the difference in skin tones were between us. As they have been playing in the pool all summer they are nice and tan, while I, who becomes Lobster Boy in no time, is white as a sheet. I'm sure it was said innocently enough, but sheesh. I'm pink, not white!

After we played in the pool for a bit I ordered three medium pizzas from Dominos. They wouldn't agree on the toppings so I found a three one-topping coupon that worked perfect. They all got what they wanted. Yay! Score one for Marc! Unfortunatly they didn't eat as much as I thought they would. There is over a pizza and a half left! Minus one point for Marc

Before the pizza arrived and after we were done eating we watched the VCDs (Video CD) I made for the kids. I brought 12 episodes of Invader Zim and 5 of SpongeBob Squarepants. At about 12 minutes a piece this took up most of the rest of the evening. It kept them (and me) entertained and most importantly not fighting until it was time for bed. They didn't even whine too much about that. They are upstairs sound asleep. Awwww!!!

I'm crashing over here tonight myself. My boss is supposed to be back tonight, but late. Also I'm helping him roof his new shed/garage add-on. He's never shingled a roof before. Ok, he's 41, I'm 28 (almost). I've helped shingle 4 roofs, one of which was a very steeply pitched church, he has done none. I know that's not really all that unusual, but it still kinda feels weird to me. The men i grew up around, my dad, grandpas and uncles, all knew how and had many times. I guess in a way I assumed all guys were just naturally good at that stuff. Looking at the construction he's done on the rest of this add-on to his garage, I can see that is not the case. I should have come over to help sooner!

Just so that there is no confusion, I help out my boss because he's my friend, not because he's my boss. Actually his family has made me one of their own. There have been many holidays since I've moved down here that they have invited me to celebrate with them. At first it felt weird, like I was intruding on their special family times, but then I realized that they enjoyed me being there just as much as I did. It's really something special to have friends like these. So when I can help out, "sitting" or building or whatever, I do my best to do so and show my gratitude. :)

I suppose I should head to bed. I got a long hot day of laying asphalt shingles tomorrow! Ok ok, so two flats isn't much. :P

Friday, August 09, 2002

GEEK!!


You are 42% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.


You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!


Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!


You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Tut


Ok so i'm not the tutorial king, but I did give it a good shot. Actually over all my HTML tutorial is good and what it was intended to be. However, that said, AcidMan pointed out a pretty nasty flaw. I got a little...umm...convoluted in my explaination of how to make images show up. Just use the img src= tag(not as pretty as mine), you'll figure it out. It's not too difficult once you apply a small amount of logic. If you feel you are in short supply, go ask a Vulcan, there always seems to be a steady supply of them on TV at all hours of the day and night.

Oh and don't call me a geek cuz I mentioned Vulcan, you know what one is, so you are either a geek too or Vulcans are regular enough to have become part of our popular culture. Either way I win!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Um...yea.

Man I need to quit watching so much Invader Zim.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Leasing VS. Buying


With my car lease nearing its end I've been considering the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying, both with cars and homes.

Many people I've talked with, concerning leasing a car, say something to the effect that I'm throwing away money. To a certain extent they are right, but with autos you loose money no matter what. You don't invest in a car.

When you lease a car you get a brand new vehicle that is under warrantee. At the end of the lease period you have options. Trade in for a new car, walk away or buy the car. As long as the car is in good condition and your miles are not over the agreed amount the dealer will be happy to lease you a new car again or let you walk away from the car Scott-free.

Of course those are ideal conditions. In my case I'm going to be over my miles and may need to have some minor door dings and interstate chips touched up. Even with those problems you have to consider the benefits. Leases always have a much lower monthly payment. I got into a small fender bender (not my fault) a couple years ago. The car is fine, but I can see the small imperfections that the body shop left behind. If I trade it in for another its gone, someone else's worries, unless of course I was deemed responsible for fixing it prior to turn in.

The other side of the coin is that the car, a new style 1999 VW Jetta, is a great car and has never given me a lick of trouble. The few minor issues that cropped up were easily and cheaply fixed or covered under warrantee. The buy out on the car is less than the current retail or trade-in value, so I'm getting a very good deal if I choose to buy it. I can also sell the car myself at my own leisure, at a profit even, and get a new one later. Actually that is what I've already decided to do.

What will I do next time? I'll lease again. Eventually the car, as great as it is will need more and more attention and repairs. I've driven too many older cars to want to go back to that mess. It's not like the car is going to increase in value some how and be worth more if I hold on to it. It'd still take me 4-5 years to pay it off at the rate I'm paying now. Buy the time it is mine free and clear it's not going to be worth nearly as much to me and will still continue to cost me monthly in maintenance. If I lease however I constantly have a newer car that is under warrantee. at least 50-75% of the lease duration, depending on the length of the lease and/or warrantee. I've been looking at those new Mini Coopers, they have a 4 year warrantee. That means if I chose another 4 year lease, the car would be covered from the first day to the last day of my lease. You cannot tell me that isn't a compelling reason to at the very least consider leasing.

In case you are curious I have a 99.5 VW Jetta GL and I'm considering for it's future replacement either a new Jetta GLI or a Mini Cooper S. The jury is still out on the Mini Cooper S at this point for me though. I've read both good AND bad reviews and I don't want to get burned. I leased my Jetta only two weeks after the new model types were released however I got lucky! Usually the first runs are a little flaky until they work out the kinks. As it turns out I didn't have any kinks but for a small recall due to some potentially flammable insulation used on one small spot. When I got the car back all was fine and I didn't even know they touched it.

This brings me to the next lease vs. buy scenario, the house. The game is a little different because houses retain their value and increase in most cases, baring major geographical disaster or severe socio-economical shifts. In other words your house ends up in the slums, next to the new landfill or a volcano erupts in your back yard. You might want to consider moving regardless if you have a volcano by the way.

Because of the possible gains buying a house can be a smart thing to do. Unlike cars, leasing a house/apartment is often more expensive per square foot than a house mortgage. Mortgage rates can be renegotiated. Leases cannot and inevitably increase annually or biannually, depending on your lessor and lease agreement.

Homes, once paid off generally do not deteriorate quickly and can be maintained at a reasonable financial loss. Apartments and leased homes can have varying levels of upkeep, from exceptional/like new to run down and scummy. Then again so can houses on the market for sale.

Buying a run down home for a low cost and renovating it and reselling it can be a good way to profit from real estate but you must be dedicated to this way of life. It can be hard and dirty. My parents made it where they are today doing this and I'm proud of them being able to struggle up that slope. I also learned a lot about rebuilding and construction this way, as I was often put to work helping renovate the homes we lived in. This isn't for everyone however, including me.

I have no desire to come home from a hard day at work to find thick layers of drywall dust and boxes of nails on the floor. I don't want to go into the bathroom, turn on the faucet and see rust colored water come out and be reminded I need to replace those pipes. Been there, done that, no thanks.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little bit of hard work and there is a great deal of satisfaction to fixing something in your home, or your home itself. At the same time I would rather spend my free time exploring the things I like now rather than having to wait until retirement. Who says you can't enjoy life now? Why must we wait until we are too old to do the things we like? Granted most of mine are indoor things, but that isn't the point.

I may pay more per month, but I don't have to mow and water the lawn. I don't have to paint the outside. There is a pool and I don't have to worry about its chemical balance. If the garbage disposal breaks I don't have to replace or fix it, I call maintenance. The place is sprayed for bugs periodically.

On the flip side, I can't do much to the appearance. If I paint I have to make sure to paint it while again before I move out. There is little incentive for me to install better fixtures or appliances. I may have to deal with noisy neighbors. Parking might be a pain. The landlord/management company may be difficult to work with.

Currently I'm in a place where management genuinely cares about its tenets and that means a lot to me. The place is also only a few years old so everything is in good shape. I was very aware of these qualities when I checked the place out and that is why I chose it.

I'm a single guy. I'm not worried about kids right now. I don't want to make time to do house chores right now in my life. My dad has suggested buying a run down old place and remodeling it, but frankly have no interest in that.

Perhaps I'm tossing my money out the window, but I believe it's more important to enjoy life pursuing those things you enjoy, not money, unless you like money that is. Personally I hate money. I don't like it one bit. Leasing works for me. I'm not saying it'd work for everyone, but for me it works. Until I'm ready to invest my time into a more static and stable situation, this is the best thing for me to do. I like Nashville a lot, but I don't know exactly where I want to live.

A home loan is often for 30 years. How many people can honestly say they know where they'd like to live for the next 30 years? Maybe 50-100 years ago that question would be easier to answer, but toady's generations are much more mobile. My siblings and family are all over the U.S. This isn't a unique trend. Many more people are moving away from the towns and states the grew up in.

Take a close look at your situation and decide what is more important. Maybe I don't look forward enough, but enjoying each day is pretty damn important to me. Carpe Diem!

Monday, August 05, 2002

LMAO! I'm dyin' here!!


Ok a few of you have posted various comments about what search engine terms end up bringing people to your site. Well here is my first, that I've noticed anyway:

saudi blowjob

Why did my site come up? Because I happened to comment on Clinton getting a hummer and about Bin Laudins dumb ass getting kicked out of Saudi Arabia! You can read all about it in my Imperfect Human posting about a month and a half ago. There is a pretty damn funny picture of me getting caught brushing my teeth by my webcam too. Heh

I can't wait to see what my next Google search will give me. I'll let ya know if its interesting enough.

HTML Tutorial


For AcidMan (dude, sorry about the delay) I've created a "General HTML Codes" tutorial page. It's very basic and those of you who know HTML will laugh, but for blogging these basic codes can be very helpful. They can turn a normally boring text document into something quite elegant. I cover the bold, italics, underline, typewriter type, numbered lists, bulleted lists as well as linking and inserting images.

Later I would like to write up a document on understanding file structure, as it relates to websites and good site management. I would also like to write up a tutorial on tables and CSS, but those are for another day.

I hope these help you out. Please let me know what you think, positive or negative. Constructive criticism is welcome, assholes will be ignored.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Uhhh...






I dunno what it means, don't ask me. It's kinda freaky though.

LEGO ME!



You all gotta check out http://www.reasonablyclever.com.
Well if you have ever enjoyed LEGOs anyway. It's a little program that allows
you to make LEGO people! Below is LEGO Me. That'a a paint brush I'm holding
BTW.




Thursday, August 01, 2002

Response for Acidman


Dude don't sweat it if I go over your head with the geek speak. If you really have a question I'd be happy to help. I've been on the "net" for ...uh...12 years now! Oh god! My life! I can hear it screaming as it shrivels into a little ball. I actually used AOL (you gotta check out this little history archive) back when it was on DOS and only had about 10,000 users! Gad! So needless to say I've been in the "biz" for awhile now.

I'm actually trying to learn the business side of things now. I don't really mind not being a manager, I still have full control of the real power, the network and the servers! Muahahahaha! But unless I want to idle in neutral here for the rest of my life I have to learn the ins and outs of business.

In doing so I've become more and more political, in the sense that I am paying attention to the crap that is going on in goverment and even in my own office. An awful lot of the people we entrust with making the descisions that will effect us all get paid an awful lot considering how big their mess-ups can be. Payment for the stress of the job? Perhaps, but I see more stress if their paychecks are put at risk.

More rants on autos and privacy


Ok I went back and read some more of that article about GM wanting to put devices in its vehicles to help detect accidents and alert the authorities. (Car-tracking system raises hopes, concerns)

Grey B wrote:



"....get off the "Big Brother" trip & think about it for a minute. This will be a HUGE boon for emergency response. Anybody who's had the experience of seeing a dying person on a roadside -and waiting frantically to hear those sirens- (I've been there twice), already knows how valuable this will be. This isn't about rescuing the dead, it's about helping the injured and saving the dying in those precious minutes there's still hope. I strongly support this technology; IMO it should be standard, automatic, and FREE on all vehicles. One shouldn't have to subscribe to be ensured emergency help. Now if you still don't get it & are worried about privacy invasion, remember these: first, all vehicles will soon have "black boxes" recording your driving (like it or not), and second, if you're doing illegal or reckless things behind the wheel you should be busted anway. Finally, if you really do have a "if I die so what" outlook, then all I can say is enjoy your afterlife. It's everyone else left here injured or near death that need this to see another day."


To which I replied:



I agree with your comment regarding the automotive "black-box". It will likely happen. And frankly it wouldn't be a bad thing. I see idiots on the road every day putting OTHERS at risk because they are in some kind of hurry. NO emergency is worth putting peoples lives at risk.

However, that said, I'm not so certain these systems proposed by GM are necessary. Cell phones are SO common and cheap now days that you are very likely to have SOMEONE on the scene with one. I know this isn't always the case and there are areas where cell phones don't work well, but lets think for a moment, how are these GM systems going to communicate? Cell towers of course. GM can't afford to install their own special network for these.

Though I will admit that my cell phone wouldn't have a clue if I was in accident and call emergency services.

Privacy issues aside this is technology that will slowly seep into our everyday lives. There will be those who choose to not use it or disable it. Until the goverment tries to pass a law stating that owners cannot disable or turn off these devices will I shout against it."



The next poster is obviously tired of targeted marketing. He has some valid points, but I don't believe he has thought about the variety of benifits that could result.



Keith Waldron wrote:



"I can't believe how comfortable many people are with this kind of survielence! The world is a risky place at times, and driving is also risky, but to allow a company to track a vehicle's movements generally to respond to an vehicle accident specifically is giving too much for too little benefit. Why is it that so many people these days support the Machievellian principle of the end justifying the means?

Why doesn't GM spend more engineering efforts on crash avoidance and structural safety, or perhaps implimenting better emergency response communications systems? GM and others could refocus their efforts in more practical ways if they wanted, but then, their proposed system also allows them to collect and use data unrelated to an accident. I would suggest that the collection of data represents a real asset to GM, it is simply wrapped up in a package that the consumer will pay for. Imagine, a vast majority of the data collected will not ever be used to help save lives, it will be used for generating pattern statistics. Instead of GM having to pay to research the ways customers are using their products, they will have the customer pay more to give GM valuable information!

You get what you settle for, and I for one will not settle for increased surveillance that mostly benefits a big corporation, and only marginally benefits the customer during rare dissasterous occasions. To allow this kind of invasion of my privacy rights is like knowingly being led towards a slippery slope, like sheep being led to the slaughter..."



To which I replied:



"Consider that city and state transportation departments could make excellent use of this information to make our roadways safer and less congested. Currently they have to lay out those little counter "ropes" in certain areas. Hardly an effective method for data collection.

As stated in some earlier posts, YOU are not what is being tracked but a generalized data pattern. The intersection of 1st and Main gets a significant influx of traffic going west-bound at 5 P.M. That traffic light timing can be adjusted to help traffic flow better. With good sample data the road departments could even model the traffic flow AFTER they make their change, before it is actually implemented so as to fix any other traffic bottle-necks that may result from thier change.

If you life in the city you know this would be an exceptional benifit to everyone."



Finally this last poster brought up some very important and valid points. This isn't about privacy but a new business model. One we already are seeing in the technology sector.

Don Rupert wrote:



"I think the proposed system while being sold as a "safety" feature is in reality about collecting a monthly fee from the consumer. Hmmm, renting safety, you gotta admit it's a novel idea. The car manufactures want (so bad they can taste it) to create services that will generate continuing fees to offset the cyclic nature of car buying. (I think every corporation in the world wants the same thing lately.)

In a year or two you'll have a better service plan and for an extra $3 a month this system will notify your nearest GM dealer if anything should go wrong with the car or for routine servicing. All for your safety and convenience of course.

You can count on more "services" coming into play as the technology gets better. In fact has any one seen the commercials from GM about the cars that drive themselves? They just drove (driverless) a fleet of them coast to coast. Pretty impressive stuff. Can I see a day in the near future where you can turn the driving over to GM for say $79.95 a month? You bet I do. Hey you didn't think they were going to give it away did you?!

You know what; my existing cars are looking better everyday...



To which I replied:



"I believe you are correct. We are converting from an Industrial country into an Information country. As "product" becomes less and less important, as quality increases and prices drop (look at PCs for example) "service" becomes the focus.

For instance my company is about to stop using Dell and switch to Compaq. The computers really aren't that different, but Dells support (service) is crap. We are paying more for good service.

"How can we make your life easier and create a sustainable business model for our company?" That is the question all businesses are asking.

GM is trying to distinguish itself in todays market where the buyer is more concerned about safety than ever before. (Though for some reason they buy SUVs thinking they are safer.) GMs plan isn't as good at saving lives as many of the European automakers with thier various airbags and advanced shock absorbing frames, but it's cheap and will bring money IN as a "service".

Privacy isn't the issue. Be mad at GM for not developing a safer vehicle. After all, a driver that lives through an accident is likely to buy that brand again. If they live because of a box that called the ambulance, they'll buy another car with that "feature" (which all cars will eventually have.) and is has a better crash rating."



Ok I have one more from Lord Talon who commented on my posting (as listed in the previous blog entry). He quoted a UCLA document, but for all I know he wrote that paper himself. However it was nice to get some backing on my "village" arguement, which BTW no one argued against.



"Marc says: Privacy is not a human trait. We are tribe creatures by nature. Very few tribes through out history have had much privacy. It's normal behavior for humans to give up privacy for tribe and individual benifits.

reply from: http://dlis.gseis.ucla.edu/people/pagre/arguments.html

"Computer technology isn't bringing us into some scary new era that we can't understand. Quite the contrary, it is returning us to the old-time village where everybody knew everybody else's business. That's the normal state of people's lives -- the state that was lost as modern society and technology caused us all to be separated into cubicles. Privacy is thus a distinctly modern obsession, and an unhealthy one too."
Large organizations knowing everybody's business is not the same as "everybody" knowing everybody's business. The village metaphor suggests a degree of equality and reciprocity that does not describe individuals' relationships to the organizations that maintain databases of personal information about them. Now, some people imagine science fiction worlds in which ordinary people know as much about Equifax as Equifax knows about them. I'm not placing my bets on the emergence of such a world. And even if it existed, it would differ from an old-time village in ways too numerous to count.

That's all folks. What do you think?

Privacy and Technology


This article talks about how privacy avocates are worried about a new feature GM wants to install vehicle tracking hardware on new vehicles. The drivers have to choose to want this service and pay a monthly fee. But the privacy people are saying it could invade the car owners privacy! Good god! They have to WANT it. If you ask for it, its not an invasion of your privacy! Ugh!

I responded thusly:



"So what? Let's face it kids, we are gonna all be trackable in one way or another in our lifetimes. Advocates and bitch and moan about it all day long, but it's not going to stop anything. It's a side effect of our technological progress. Don't like it, go live in the third world where you can go hide in a cave if you want.

Privacy is not a human trait. We are tribe creatures by nature. Very few tribes through out history have had much privacy. It's normal behavior for humans to give up privacy for tribe and individual benifits.

The real problem is not the devices that potentially reduce privacy but the ability of the individual to police who has access to the information. If you are going to argue for privacy, argue for/against the real problem. "


These zealots need to think about what they are saying before they say it. Privacy will drop to nil as our planetary population increases. As it increases there will be more and more need for tracking, for better or worse. Welcome to the 21st century!