Tuesday, October 26, 2010

High School Haikus

When I was in high school many millennia ago, my English teacher tortured us gave us an assignment to write three haikus.  I think she gave the class one or two days to do the haiku assignment.  This is one of the assignments that I actually liked and had fun with.  When it was explained to me, a haiku consisted of three lines.  The first line had five syllables, the second line had seven syllables, and the third line had five syllables.  And the topic of the haiku had to be about nature.  So with those guidelines I crafted three gems of literary enlightenment.  Yeah, whatever.

First haiku:

Ordinary plant
So simple, yet so complex
There must be a god!

Second haiku (and my personal favorite):

Nature is calling
Right as I get into bed
What do I do now?

And, I don't remember the other haiku.  So you'll only have to put up with only two of my three entries.

Oh, and by the way........  If are a student and you steal my haiku, I hope your teacher finds the haiku online and fails you.  Haikus really aren't that hard.  So go and write your own.

BTW, (c) 1983 and (c) 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slow Internet

Today as I left work (I work from home), I initiated several large downloads to the work PC.  So I started them and walked away not thinking much of it.  The download speed seemed fair enough to me.

I returned later and noticed that my downloads were chugging along.  But they seemed really slow, which was really weird to me.  So I mess around a bit and then for grins and giggles, I login to my DSL modem.  And check this out:

Normally my "DownStream" connection speed is in the 7,000 kbps range.  This is the first time I've ever experienced it lower than 7,000 kbps.  So it made me wonder what is going on.

So I did a search and found others, mostly Verizon customers, have the same problem.  Slow throughput.  But the thing that was different is their trained up speed was normal, but using speed tests, their actual results varied.

I'll keep an eye on this.  If it doesn't adjust back upwards, I'll turn it off and on again and see what happens.  This kind of stuff ticks me off.  Besides, I need to call the phone company tomorrow about my bill and what they're doing with my DSL fees.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The housing market collapse and foreclosure quagmire

I've been reading the news about various banks (GMAC, Bank of America, JP Morgain Chase, etc.) and the mess their foreclosures are in.  I've got to say is just one word:  Wow.

One of my neighbors got behind on their mortgage because of health related issues.  Their mortgage is with one of the three banks mentioned above.  They will call the bank and ask when they will be foreclosed on.  The bank representative tells them that they need to apply for a loan modification.  They apply and subsequently get denied.  This has happened several times.  Then the bank will call them.  Tell them that they need to pay $10,000 to the bank.  They ask the bank if they pay the $10k if they will get to stay in their house.  The bank says, "This doesn't guarantee that you will be able to keep your house."  The neighbors ask what the money is for and the bank can't/won't tell them them what the $10k is for.  But the bank wants the money.  So out of frustration and disgust, my neighbors are leaving the house.  They know they will be foreclosed on but the bank is unwilling to work with them.  So they are just going to walk away.  So who knows how long that house will sit vacant while the lender goofs around with it.

In order to clean up our housing mess, the country really needs to get these foreclosures done, sold and out of the way.  I personally fear what this foreclosure will do to the property value of my own home, because it will probably end up being sold at about 1/4 to 1/3 less than what is owed on the house.  And that will just kill the value of my house.

Interesting to see where we go with this.  Probably more bailouts.  Or a double-dip or triple dip recession.  Bleh.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The perfect time - 10:10:10AM on October 10, 2010

Today it October 10, 2010, or as dates goes 10/10/10.  Being the nerd that I am, I waited until 10:10AM and 10 seconds.  Even more nerdy, I actually took a photo of the event.  The "perfect" moment in time.  All 10s.  So here is the photo from my clock, from just a few minutes ago:

Now, as you look at the clock, you just see 10:10, but the second hand is superimposed on top of the minute hand, so it was indeed 10:10:10 when I snapped the photo.  I also have a photo at 10:10:00, but that isn't as spectacular as 10:10:10AM. 

OK, enough useless drivel for the day. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The squirrel mug

A couple of years ago I went to my sister's house for summer vacation.  She lives relatively close to Yellowstone National Park.  So we used her house as home base while we were there.

My sister is a party animal.  She always likes to invite people over and have some fun.  So they decided to do a white elephant gift exchange from all the junk neat stuff that she and her friends had collected over the years.  One such piece of junk treasure was a set of squirrel mugs.  I even have a photo to show you.  Check this out:

The mugs ended up in my family's possession for some odd reason.  So, I have another sister that showed up at the same time we were there.  Their luggage was downstairs, so we took the set of mugs and put them into one of their suitcases.  And the mugs silently disappeared.  We didn't even hear anything of any kind come back about them whatsoever.  In the end, I think we ended up with one of these mugs at our house because we failed to get rid of all the mugs.  We packed it into some unsuspecting family member's car.  And we forgot about it.

Last weekend both of my sisters were in town.  After they left my wife went outside to turn on the water or move the water hose.  When she did, she discovered the above treasure.  I thought that my older sister was the culprit, so I sent her the following email with a photo of the junk coveted mug:

"Did you forget something?  [My wife] found this outside by our water valve today.  It might find a home with [your son] when he gets married."

Here is what I got back from her:
Actually, [your sister] had it in her car since July. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA" 

So now I know who the culprit is.  Unfortunately none of her kids are getting married any time soon.  So we now have the coveted squirrel mug in our possession.  I wonder who will get the mug next?  Does anyone here want it?

Is this the future of TV?

I have a very basic cable TV subscription.  I pay $15 a month for about 13 channels.  So what do I get for $15 a month?  The major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN), PBS (KBYU and KUED), BYUTV, and a few others that make me go "Huh?".  And I've been fairly disappointed in the content.  I turn it on and think, "This stuff just sucks."  I've even contemplated dropping my cable TV subscription altogether.

In the past I've looked at a Roku player.  If you're not familiar with Roku, go and visit their site.  Their latest line of players is very compelling.  I've looked at a few other media players and Roku appears to have some fairly descent media content alternatives and is the cheapest media player out there.  For $100, you can stream HD content.  A hundred bucks is fairly cheap.

I was going to dive in head first and get a Roku when I decided to email a friend and co-worker of mine and see what he uses.  BIG MISTAKE.  (Note to self:  Geeks shouldn't email other geeks to find out what they use for high tech stuff because it will only wreck your plans.)  He told me about Google TV.  Currently the Logitech Revue is the only stand-alone Google TV appliance that will be available soon on the market.  Best I can tell, the Revue runs an Intel CPU, and I assume it is probably an Intel Atom based device.  For those of you who are not in the know, the Intel Atom CPU is the brains of most NetBook PCs, the small cutesy little $300 laptops with minuscule little screens.  (I've been tempted to get a netbook, but for a few hundred more bucks, you can get a real laptop, not some neutered, half-pint PC.)  So I think this Revue is a netbook minus the screen.  But the bad thing about the Revue is that it is $300.  Dang.  And it isn't available yet, but will be soon.

So the cheap person that I've become (out of necessity) tells me to get the Roku and to quit fretting about this.  But the inner geek in me says that the Revue will be so much more versatile (it actually has a web browser with Adobe Flash support, along with most/all the features that the Roku has).  My biggest concern is this:  Do I really want a wide open web browser (or PC) attached to my 46" TV screen???  And do I really want to spend $300 for the device?  That's my heartburn of the day.

I've asked some friends and looked at opinions about the Google TV appliance.  Some of my tech friends discount the idea.  Tech opinions (from other geeks, mind you) speak highly of the device.  My gut instinct tells me that this will be a big thing, similar in nature to the iPhone.  An industry game changer.  Never in my life have I pre-ordered a device.  This is the only thing I might consider pre-ordering.  But procrastination in the tech world generally is a good thing, and the procrastinator in me may wait until the Revue is actually released and setup at a Best Buy so I can go and look at it before committing my hard earned money to the stupid thing.  Like I said, it may be a hot item and I won't get to see it until next year.  Oh well, so be it.