I saw Star Trek this weekend (in iMax)- no spoilers

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Don’t worry – I won’t give away any spoilers.

I really liked the movie (as a Star Trek fan) and my wife enjoyed it a lot, too (and she doesn’t like Star Trek).  The cast was great – Scotty and Bones were perfect but Checkov was a little too much (they stressed too much on his accent (remember “Vere are the nuclear wessles?”).  Spock and Kirk were also pretty good.  It is a great action film (more action than your average Star Trek film) and great special effects.  I saw it in iMax and it was very impressive.  And yes, Kirk gets a green alien woman (OK, so I lied about the spoiler, but I promise this is the only one and the long time fans will enjoy this).

But – this isn’t about the movie.  I had some assholes behind me in line poking fun at the people dressed in Star Trek gear (mostly TNG / DS9 / VOY uniforms – no aliens that I noticed).  Sorry, but get a life assholes.
First – do they make fun of you when you go to your favorite sports team with your face painted in their colors, your favorite player’s number painted on your chest, dressed in their uniform, and yelling and screaming all the time?  Do they make fun of you because of the way you dress when you go clubbing?  No.

Take a look at yourself – you look ridiculous, seriously, but they don’t make fun of you.  They understand that is your thing, your vice.  You enjoy dressing like that to show your support for your team, your player, your clubbing tradition.

This is their thing – they’re Trekkies (a.k.a. Trekkers).  They love the shows and show their support by spending money on uniforms.  Don’t worry; they don’t dress like this every day.  In fact, unless you knew they did it, you wouldn’t know about it if you met them on any other day that wasn’t a Star Trek movie or some sort of Sci-Fi convention (well, maybe Halloween, too).

We all have our thing where we dress very differently from what we would dress like on a regular basis.  Just because their thing is Star Trek, don’t put them down.  They’re obvious big fans of the franchise and are very happy they are going to see another film.  The last thing they need is some asshole acting like, and with the mentality of, a middle school bully.  Grow up.

Star Trek has given us a lot – it gave many inventors “great ideas” that are a reality today, many we take for granted.  It’s inspired generations of inventors, engineers, entertainers, and scientists which all contribute to the popularity of your own “things”.  If you’d like, I could include a list in a future post.

FPL – you’re funny.

Author: admin  |  Category: Business, Consumer, News, Observations, Rant, Thoughts  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

About a week ago I called FPL (Florida Power & Light – our electric company) about electric arcing from the wires to a palm tree in front of my house.  In my call with them they said it could take up to 21 days before someone came out to look at it.  You can imagine I wasn’t too happy considering the severity of the situation and how this was a fire hazard to my home and family.

This morning I noticed a pamphlet on my door from FPL – I looked at and was shocked at what I saw.

Wait did I read that right? Seriously, I misread it, so I took a closer look:

Yes, I was not reading it wrong. Their comments were “No current hazard, palm fronds are burned away from wires” (nice pun, by the way). So, there is no hazard because there was already a fire and it was burned away from the wires. Now, I’m no alarmist but when I saw the arcing, I was estimating it was between 6-12 inches long. That’s a lot of power – most armature Tesla coils don’t even go out that far.

Mind you, this is a company that owns and operates multiple nuclear power plants. I can see FPL now, as an online buddy of mine put it, “Oh meltdown, it’s one of those annoying buzzwords. We prefer to call it an unrequested fission surplus”. Can’t wait to see them use that one at Turkey Point or in Seabrook, NH.

What will FPL do next?

The Great Fake Recession

Author: admin  |  Category: Politics, Rant  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

Yes, I am officially calling this “the Great Fake Recession”.  It seems that this recession (or depression if you want to call it that) is a fake one.  No, its not in our minds, we see the layoffs every day, people spending less, and so on but I don’t think this is any normal cycle.  I think this is a deliberate attempt to sabotage our economy just so the elite few can benefit from it.  I also think I know who we can blame for it 0 the people who are benefiting from it the most today – banking executives (and other high end investors / executives).

Take a step back though the past few decades.  Though the 80s we saw growth in the US faster than anything before.  Banks were able to invest in businesses and get a good return on their investments.  This lasted all though the 80s and got a small boost in the early 90s with the first gulf war.  Times were great to be an investment banker.

Then came the 90s, physical growth slowed down (well, didn’t grow as fast) but with the exploding popularity of the internet banks were again able to invest small amounts of money into virtual companies (a.k.a. .coms) and get a huge return on their investments.  The banks also invested in “sub prime” mortgages – approving high interest mortgages to people that they knew couldn’t afford them and continue to do this though today, thus making them a lot of money.

The .com bubble burst in 2000 / 2001 and the terror attacks of Sept 11, 2001 showed the vulnerability of the stock markets but real estate skyrocketed.  People wanted to move out of cities and into the “safer” suburbs.  This allowed the banks a golden opportunity – allow many more people mortgages that they know the people couldn’t afford but get huge returns on them.

The banks aren’t stupid and know damn well what was going to happen next and were prepared for it.

Starting after the housing bubble’s height in 2006, things started to catch up to the people.  People started to not afford their mortgages and defaults started to come in.  Not many, but probably more than the banks expected.  Don’t worry, they now own these houses and could sell them, right?  We all know what foreclosures do to property values.  Values are based on recent home sales so if homes in your neighborhood have been selling for $150,000 and then all of a sudden have several selling at foreclosure for less then $25,000 values plummet.

All of a sudden, people had no equity in their homes to borrow off of, many homes even had negative equity (you owe $150,000 on a home worth $100,000).  Banks used this as an excuse to curb lending – not lending out anywhere near as much money as they used to.  This prevented people from getting homes, cars, and other high ticket items that they wanted or needed, including businesses.

Banks started to hoard money.  Its interesting how banks claim they are going to fail because a small percentage of their loans were defaulted but they used this excuse to lend out even less money.  Large businesses were refused loans so they couldn’t buy inventory or give raises.  People spent less money and we all know this vicious cycle.

I know, people can say this is all speculative but here’s the coup de tat:

Banks started to ask for bailouts form the federal government and they got them.  Banks knowingly made bad investment and lost billions of dollars but our government still bailed them out.  So, what did they do with the money?  Hmm..

We see the news every day.  Bank executives getting bonuses worth more than all the money most of us will see in our lifetimes, they go on lavish vacations and give themselves pay raises.  The hoarding continued in many other industries and then these companies complained that they had no money – and got bailed out from the government.  The banks then ask for more money, and then give out more bonuses and vacations.  Just look at AIG – they’re asking for a third round of bailouts after giving out bonuses to executives who no longer work for them.

So- when could it have started?  I’m thinking it started around 2002-2003 when the banks realized that nothing was safe to invest in.  Large corporations probably started the massive hoarding sometime in 2005-2006.  I seriously think this whole thing was planned but I think these corporations really screwed themselves because the economy is now far worse than they expected it to be, and we need to pick up the tab.

So, businesses are playing with our money, losing our money, then asking the government to give them more money because they can’t manage their own finances.  Nice, and I’m still waiting for my bailout.

So you think your IT person has an attitude? It could be because of you!

Author: admin  |  Category: Observations, Rant  |  Comments (2)  |  Add Comment

Ever wonder why our IT guy might have an attitude?  Most people think that it’s because we know computers well enough to have an elitist attitude with it, that “we’re better than you”.  Well, for the most part this is not true.  I’ll admit – there are some bad eggs out there (and I’ve worked with some) but most of the time it is because of the users we support, sadly.  It’s not just one person (but there usually is one or two people who do deserve it).  It’s the whole collective we call “users” and some times, even to go as far as calling some (L)users (or L-users, a.k.a. I.D. 10-T).

First of all, the redundancy.  No, I don’t expect my average user to know how to reinstall Windows, configure their wireless network, put their computer on the domain, or manage DNS but when something is as simple as going to an intranet (internal network) site, entering some information (supplied to you) and clicking INSTALL, it gets tedious after having to either walk though or do for several dozen clients.  At my work, we had a new print queue installed though a new server so none of the mapping though the old server would work.  Sounds like a big problem, right?  No.

We sent out instructions, go to this site (type SITE into your browser), enter in the building ID (supplied) and then select the floor you’re on (you push the button on the elevator several times a day).  Find the printer(s) you use, they’re named after the room number that they’re in but attached was a PDF of the floors with the names in each location.  Then, click INSTALL next to that printer and when the window appears, click RUN.

Simple, right?  Nope.  I had to do over 40 of these the first week.  I guess those instructions were to complicated for most people.  

Next – many issues are caused by the users.  I’m not talking routine maintenance (update drivers, defrags, cache scrubbing etc..).  I get tired of having to sit and figure out how to remove a spyware you installed which is preventing your computer from working.  Sure, go ahead, install the Google toolbar, the Yahoo toolbar, AOLIM, Yahoo messenger, Opera, Firefox, and tons of unapproved software then complain to me because “your piece of shit computer is too slow”.  Well, don’t install anything that you shouldn’t install.

On that subject – if I tell you a new piece of software is coming out, that is NOT permission to go ahead and install it.  So what if Google has their own browser now, it makers changes to your internet settings and will prevent some of our web applications from working (and then read back one paragraph).  If it’s on our intranet’s software installation page, then you’re allowed to have it.

Appointments.  I don’t know why IT is the exception.  If you have an appointment with your boss at 9AM, you’re there at 9AM.  If you have an appointment with one of your subordinates at 9AM, they better be there at 9AM.  Your time is important but why do people think mine isn’t?  A 9AM appointment is for 9AM not when you feel like meandering into my office sometime between noon and 3PM.  Also – don’t get pissy at me because I’m working on someone else’s computer and you now have to wait – my time is important, too.

I get lunches, too.  Don’t be 2.5 hours late to your 9AM appointment expecting everything to be done while you’re on your lunch.  I get one too.  If I’m heading out the door with my hat on, jacket on, and keys in my hand, it’s because I am going out.  This is NOT the time to decide to approach me with a dozen questions (this also includes when my hand is on the bathroom door and I am trying to open it).

Also, don’t tell me “I’ll be there in 5 minutes” and take over 2 hours to get to me.  Again, my time is important.  I don’t like sitting on my ass waiting for you while I need to be elsewhere with someone else.

Vacations – don’t submit a ticket 10 minutes before you leave for vacation and expect me to pull the perfect fix out of my ass before you go.  You’re going on vacation – that means you can leave it since you won’t need it (it’s supposed to be for work, that’s why work paid for it).

And while we’re on the subject of vacations – I get them too.  Don’t get mad because I don’t answer your 10 emails (including the out of office reply stating that I’m on vacation), 15 voicemails (where my message says I’m on vacation) and countless text messages.  Also – complaining to my boss won’t help you.  He knows I’m on vacation.  The world will not fall apart while I am gone.

“Freebies”.  We’re an IT department – we fix things.  We’re not a kiss-you-ass / free-upgrades department.  If you want an upgrade – contact your boss and have your boss go though the proper channels.  Don’t have them tell me to give you a freebie, I don’t answer to them (and yes, I’ve said no to vice presidents before – quite harshly).  Our equipment is though warranties.  When your car breaks, you don’t expect them to give you the latest and greatest at no cost, do you?  Then why do you expect it from me?  The same goes for software.  No, I won’t install Dreamweaver.  You’re a sales rep, not a web developer; learn how to use Office first.

We are not trainers nor are we grand masters of all knowledge.  Sure, I may give someone a quick hand on how to do something simple, but don’t expect it all the time, don’t expect redundant trainings (no, I won’t show you how to turn on the out of office reply for the 20th time) and don’t expect me to teach you how to make a word document pull specific pieces of information from Excel and integrate it into a PowerPoint presentation.  There are two things:  one is called the Internet, learn how to use it, and the other are called books – learn how to read (it gets tricky when you want to buy books from the internet, though).

It can take time to get parts in.  No, I don’t (my department doesn’t have the budget) to stock every piece of every piece of equipment we’ve had in our office.  Sometimes I have to order parts and sometimes it takes a while (3-5+ days) for them to come in.  My ass isn’t a magical bag of holding where I can pull anything I need out of it.

Don’t expect me to fix things I don’t support.  Don’t bring in your home computer and drop it off at my office expecting me to fix it – legally I can’t.  Don’t expect me to fix something I don’t support a few examples include (but are not limited to): plumbing, elevators, doors, electrical wiring, cars, chairs, and windows.

The old “woe is me” story.  No, I don’t have time to spend to listen to your life’s problems – how all computers hate you, and how nothing works right for you.  Get to the point.  Again, my time is also important.  Also – don’t speak cryptically and don’t leave out important details.  Don’t expect me to be able to know what is exactly wrong if you only tell me “I got an error message”.

Second guessers – I don’t care if you’re neighbor’s kid’s school friend’s nephew plugged in his parent’s computer.  That does not me he knows more about it than I do nor does he know our systems.  But – if you really want to, go ahead (and good luck without admin rights).  I’ll see you tomorrow grinning with a Windows disc in my hand to reformat your drive. Also, for the most part, you are not more knowledgeable with computers than I am, if you truly were, then you wouldn’t have the problem in the first place.

So as you can see, your average IT person deals with a lot on a daily basis.  Next time you think they are giving you an attitude, think for a minute of this post.

Linens ‘N Things & George Foreman grills – why did I bother?

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Right now I am really mad at Linens ‘n Things and the George Foreman grills.

I went to the Linens ‘N Things that was having their clearance on Okeechobee Blvd in West Palm Beach. I purchased a George Foreman grill (Model GR44BWVTCAN). It was a nice grill – the one that is larger in size and you can control the heat on each side separately. It was marked down (due to the clearance) from $100 to $60. Note: This was NOT a demo / display unit. It was brand new, sealed in the box.

The next night I went to use it, I figured it would be a good night for some chicken and vegetables on that grill. To my surprise, only half of the grill worked. The right half would not heat up. I had it set to 400 degrees and 10 minutes later (as it was still “on”) I could put my hand on it (and not get burned).

I called the store and I was told that they were out but since it was new and sealed, I should be able to exchange it at another location. So, I went to the location in Coral Springs, FL and the cashier called the manager. He said he couldn’t take it back (I worked in retail enough to know that if you sell a product, you can take it back and send it back for a refund, with very few exceptions). Not only did I get the impression that he didn’t really care about my situation, he tried to walk away with my receipt! I made sure I took it from him as he was turning to walk away.

Disappointed, I sent an email to the only email address I could find (on their website) and someone got back to me. I was told that I didn’t purchase it at a Linens N Things (funny, the store said “Linens ‘N Things”, the receipt said “Linens ‘N Things” and so did all of the name badges of the people working there. He told me to call the manager at the store in West Palm.

I called her and she said that they could exchange it for the same amount of money in other products. A lot of good that would do me, by then they had nothing I’d want.

I’ve also looked around for warranty information for these grills since the documentation states that there is a warranty but no contact information. Guess what? They have no site (a Google search only provides people selling the grills, no manufacturer or warranty contact information).

Right now I am on the verge of calling my credit card and protesting the charges since I bought something, it does not work, and no one is willing to help me with it.

Blogger / Google is NOT letting me take my domain with me!

Author: admin  |  Category: Internet, Rant  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

I’ve been trying to transfer my domain from Blogger’s / Google’s control into my own GoDaddy account (so it’s only $7 per year as opposed to $10) but they’ve locked “private registration” and seems to have set up a no-transfer policy with my domain. In essence, it seems that they are holding *my* domain hostage which is a violation of ICANN policies.

Obviously with all the advertising and other revenue streams Google feels that it is important to hold these domains hostage.

Beware other blogger subscribers, they are probabaly doing this to you too.

I am working on alternative means of hosting my blog now because of this.

Politicians, politics, and political supports are hypocits.

Author: admin  |  Category: Politics, Rant  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

It’s quite interesting how politics can be as hypocritical as possible. It is OK for one candidate to do something but not OK for the other candidate to do the same thing (one is doing it because “he would be a good guy in office” and the other is doing it “because he wants the votes”.

Perfect example, recently both candidates (Barak Obama and John McCain) have said that now is the time to try to help people in the gulf coast in preparations for hurricane Gustav. Now is the time to make donations, help friends and family in need, communities to work together, and for “us to act like Americans”. It is a great thing for both candidates to day.

So why is it that a lot of people one minute would say “See, this is why Obama would be a great president, he’s being proactive about this” but then a few minutes later they’ll say “McCain is only doing this to look good and/or get votes” (and I’ve seen people say the same with the candidates reversed). So, it is OK for the candidate that you like to show this kind of support but not OK for the other?

People complain about their (the politician’s) inconsistencies but then come out with inconsistent statements like this. People, that is hypocritical. How dare people complain like this and moan about politicians’ inconsistencies when the complainers themselves are inconsistent in their support.

The reasoning? Political parties. Most people who debate politics are very biased towards their on party and their party’s agenda and ignore the other sides strengths. Personally, I hate political parties. I’d say get rid of them, we don’t need them. This political bickering is what slows down our progress (along with lawyers trying to find loopholes to exploit and/or close). Just imagine, people might actually have to research who they vote into office as opposed to voting strictly by R, D, and I / other.

Endangered animal habitats will be, well, endangered

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If the Bush administration has their way it will be up to agencies who conduct projects like highway development, commercial and residential development, and so on, whether or not their projects will endanger the habitats of endangered species.

That’s right, the people who stand to profit the most from these projects will decide if animals are in danger from the projects or not. Sure, the way our government has been going they won’t let a thing like MONEY get in the way of protecting endangered species. What next? Allowing pedophiles decide if they should be allowed near children or not?

Seriously, this is a bad move. We need to protect our planet and legislation like this will surely do the opposite by allowing the destruction of animal habitats for the benefit of a few already wealthy politicians and developers. Because of legislation like the endangered species act stopped the over-development of places like the Florida Everglades which has proven to be highly important to the local ecosystem. Now, we will be able to witness the destruction of such species on the brink like wolves and the buffalo. Nah, we don’t need them, that superhighway is more important. Oh, and since we’ll have the superhighway, we might as well build a 500 acre mega mall with a 1500 acre parking lot.

Freedom of Relgion – under attack or freedom of favoritism?

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The Sun Sentinel reported a story about a very nice home in an upscale community, and the adjacent lot, are “tax free” due to the religious exemption. For Joe Average, this property would cost about $64,000 in taxes a year.

If this property was a church I wouldn’t mind as much (even though Jesus said something along the lines of “pay Caesar the money owed to him” referring to taxes). But it is not. The Sun Sentinel describes the property being used as:

“Church representatives say they use the property to house missionaries working in Haiti and as a home for the church founder”

That’s right; the founders personal home is tax free due to the religious exemption.

Here is the kicker. We have some friends in our Pagan / Wiccan groups who tried to claim religious exemption but were denied by the county since “Paganism and Wicca are not recognized religions”. In other words, only Christian, Jewish, and Muslim places of worship are “recognized”.

I guess someone packed us up and made us leave the USA without our knowledge (is Florida still part of the US?). I thought we had the “freedom of religion”? Hmm..

Oh, wait, we have this little document called “The United States Constitution” and the very first Amendment is:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Being the first Amendment (well, Amendment I for all of you law people) means it was the fist thing that came to the writers’ minds. It was the most important part of this document. If not, it would have been further down the list.

So, the Broward county officials feel that they can override the most significant part of the founding document of this nation by creating laws that benefit one religion over another.

Watch out America, our “Freedom of Religion” is under attack also.

Comcast – YOU SUCK!!!

Author: admin  |  Category: Rant  |  Comments (0)  |  Add Comment

Yes Comcast, YOU SUCK. You are the worst ISP I’ve ever had (except for AOL). I just spent ANOTHER 30 minutes with no service.

I’ve had your “service” (and I’m using the term loosely right now) for about three months and in that three months I’ve had more down time than I did with six years with DSL, and this includes after two major hurricanes and three regular hurricanes. Every few days the service goes out. When I call, it’s usually back on by the time I get to speak to a human and if it isn’t it is always some “routine maintenance” (who does that when everyone is trying to use the service?), “the node is down”, or that my modem is bad (and they never seem to have an answer when I ask them how does the modem affect the TV?). I love that last one. My modem works and they are never willing to pay me back a restocking fee if I still have problems after I buy a new modem (like hell I’m going to keep it).

It’s funny, though. If I am a day late on my payment they turn off my service very quickly. Like they have someone watching all of the bills come in and if they don’t see mine, they flip the switch. Kill my service! Then, bill me extra for making a payment over the phone or “late fees”. But you feel you can just turn off my service whenever you want.

Your technician never even showed up my first few appointments. Not even a call and when I called, I was told “oh, we tried to call you” (complete bull, no calls came in) and then I get the “well, we can’t get him back out for a week (funny how my first call I could have him at my house (well, the appointment anyway) within 48 hours. Sure, the first thing he says it is my modem (go back to the first paragraph). But, he tightened a few things and it helped for maybe a week.

Comcast – you suck and if we weren’t screwed over by AT&T we would leave your service and go back to DSL. It must be nice to have a monopoly on this kind of service, you can charge whatever you want and treat your customers like crap and there is almost no place we can go.