Saturday January 7, 2017

Diary of a Substitute Teacher #2

Yesterday's class was doing "IXL Math" exercises on Chromebooks: "Ratios and Rates". Sample question:

"What is the ratio of orange bottles to total bottles?"


Screen shot of ratio problem ...
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Diary of a Substitute Teacher #2 - posted at Sat, 07 Jan, 10:13 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday December 31, 2016

All Cartoons Are Not Cartoon Characters™

My Credit Union offers the option to "design your own" image for credit cards. On Nov 14, I went to the site and plugged in my business card (sans text).

Submitted.

A day later, I received a "disapproved" notice:

The design/image contains or depicts copyrighted, trademarked or branded products and/or services. This may include registered logos, animated, cartoon or amusement park characters, vehicle names or logos. Trademarked or branded commercial products such as sporting equipment, soft drink or food companies or abbreviations, acronyms, and/or symbols.
Ahem. No, it does not.

...
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All Cartoons Are Not Cartoon Characters™ - posted at Sat, 31 Dec, 12:24 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday December 20, 2016

Substitute Teaching Vignettes #5

6th grade math - part 1

Problem: 0.375 + 5/8
Guys. There's a trick.
What's an eighth?
(silence)
What's a quarter?
(Clown: 25 cents!)
Me, writes .25 on the board.
What's half of 25?
kid: 15?
Me: close. What's half of 25?
What if I have a pie (draws circle) and I cut it into quarters (draws) and then I cut one of those pieces in half? How much of the pie is that?
Kid: 1/6?
(aargh) ...
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Substitute Teaching Vignettes #5 - posted at Tue, 20 Dec, 22:30 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 16, 2016

Diary of a Substitute Teacher

December 15, 2016

Subbing in middle school (7th grade) "Tech" classes. The students are creating simple web sites.

Hey, I know this stuff! (As opposed to the Aztecs & Mayans or 4th grade "math with discs".)

I told today's classes that I've been building web sites & coding HTML by hand since 1994/95. Eyebrows go up.

Yes, I am older than the WWW. ...
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Diary of a Substitute Teacher - posted at Fri, 16 Dec, 22:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday December 14, 2016

Substitute Teaching Vignettes #4

Fourth First grade

This was.... a surprise. I was expecting 4th grade.
Me (at the school office): I'm your 4th grade sub.
Woman: I didn't know either of them was out today. Mr Jones or Mr. Smith?
Me: Ms. Black?
Woman: She teaches 1st grade.
Me: (hoookay then)
...
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Substitute Teaching Vignettes #4 - posted at Wed, 14 Dec, 22:19 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday December 13, 2016

Substitute Teaching Vignettes #3

4th grade. Math.

Students are learning multiplication with "partial products". I know this concept as well but I use parentheses.

14 x 37 = (10 + 4) x (30 + 7)

They use diagrams. ...
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Substitute Teaching Vignettes #3 - posted at Tue, 13 Dec, 22:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday December 7, 2016

Substitute Teaching Vignettes #2

(I have begun substitute teaching)

December 2016

First grade

I only have the first graders for half an hour before they'll go to lunch. They're going to do Prodigy Math on their iPads for that time. One girl is a budding SJ temperament in pint-sized form. She takes me in hand, making sure that I know what the rules are and how things work. The class doesn't need a sub; they have "Nellie". ...
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Substitute Teaching Vignettes #2 - posted at Wed, 07 Dec, 22:06 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday December 5, 2016

Substitute Teaching Vignettes #1

(I have begun substitute teaching)

November, 2016

From 12:30 to 12:40, I did yard duty - watching the kids at recess. My goodness, they're active!

1) A ball went over the fence and one girl figured out how to put her hand through the (wide) chain link grasp the ball (they're not well-inflated) and work it up to the top. I stood behind her and supervised because she was up on the concrete and I did not want her to fall, but with me there, I thought it would be OK. (She did NOT want help.)

2) One girl spent the entire time walking in a circle on what looks like a dodgeball grid, reading her book. Around and around.

3) One boy took it upon himself to find things that need to go to Lost & Found; I suggested he ask the other children if the jacket he found belonged to one of them. ...
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Substitute Teaching Vignettes #1 - posted at Mon, 05 Dec, 22:03 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday September 4, 2016

CBEST

I took the CBEST yesterday at the Pearson VUE test center in Oakland. I took the computer version of the test. It costs 2.5 times as much as the paper version but I had more opportunities for an appointment. I also had no desire whatsoever to use paper and pencil. It's 2016 not 1970 (or 1870)!

Personally, I think they should charge more for the hand-written version. ...
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CBEST - posted at Sun, 04 Sep, 15:54 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Late 19th/early 20th century tradition meets early 21st century tech

I filed a "Fictitious Business Name" application this month. The process seems, largely, to be stuck in the late 19th / early 20th centuries. According to San Mateo County, CA, the process requires:

Tuesday July 19, 2016

iTunes 12 violates Principle of Least Surprise

Someone at Apple apparently thinks it's great fun to change the UI every time an updated version of the software ships. For even more "fun", they have a habit of setting defaults that either change (or remove) features a long-time user has come to expect. Some of those features are changed forever. Sometimes, the user can find the right button to push (or terminal command to enter) to get back the behaviour they prefer.

Spouse and I have bumped into two such "features", in iTunes 12 ...
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iTunes 12 violates Principle of Least Surprise - posted at Tue, 19 Jul, 20:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday February 19, 2016

AntiSpam Processing with Mac OS X Server for Mail

We upgraded cfcl.com to Mac OS X Yosemite in December, 2015, installing OS X Server v. 5.0 to handle DNS, Mail, and Web services. We'd been handling Mail services "manually" using postfix, SpamAssassin, and MailServe (by Cutedge Systems) for several years, so there was a bit of a learning curve in switching over to OS X Server. Server uses SpamAssassin (SA), so that was familiar, but X Server runs SA from underneath amavisd.

I happened to mention amavisd and SA today, in Twitter. A friend asked me for details. I obliged by email, then thought, "I should blog this, in case anyone else ever asks".

Read more in our CFCL MOTD blog ...

AntiSpam Processing with Mac OS X Server for Mail - posted at Fri, 19 Feb, 20:01 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday February 18, 2016

Cut To Shape, File to Fit

Potlid I bought a large glass jar for a project the other day at a thrift shop. There was no matching lid, but there was a tempered glass pot lid that almost fit.

The lid looked a lot like the first photo - tempered glass with a screw-in handle, a metal rim, and a 1/4-5/16" metal "collar".

With the collar, the lid was almost the same diameter as the top of the jar. This meant that it sat on the rim of the jar and wasn't very stable in that orientation.

...
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Cut To Shape, File to Fit - posted at Thu, 18 Feb, 09:35 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday December 5, 2015

OMG My IMAP Mailboxes are Gone!

I have never cared for the "store mail on the server" model of IMAP. Disliking this from an academic standpoint, I had avoided using IMAP as much as possible. However, I recently decided that I wanted to use email on both my desktop and my laptop.

Thanks to recommendations from knowledgeable friends and acquaintances who insisted that IMAP was really the only way to keep my mail clients in synch on multiple computers, I grudgingly converted to IMAP a few weeks ago. And it was working.

Mail was being delivered to ~/Maildir and I was getting it on both machines. I set up server-based mailboxes and moved all of my "On my Mac" messages to the server. Filed messages were now accessible in both locations. All was fine.

But then, I decided to improve things.

[...Pause while the reader considers the ramifications of that statement and either gasps, sighs, or chortles...] ...
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OMG My IMAP Mailboxes are Gone! - posted at Sat, 05 Dec, 15:44 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 27, 2015

Never Attribute to Malice

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Or incompetence. Or lack of care...

In 2000, we refinanced the mortgage on our house. Shortly thereafter, we applied for a home equity line of credit (HELOC). The former was with First Nationwide Bank; the latter with CalFed. In 2003, Citibank purchased both notes.

I don't recall the details of the application for the HELOC. The paperwork we have does say, in the fine print, that the note would be a revolving LOC for 15 years, then come due as (gasp) a balloon payment. I don't know what we were thinking. I can only presume we were planning to make sure that it was paid off before that happened. We don't have any notes from that time.

Our thoughts in 2000 shouldn't matter, because in 2004 we refinanced the mortgage with Citibank. We thought we were refinancing the HELOC at the same time. We were explicitly told that the LOC would be "replaced". We were also explicitly told that the terms would be: a revolving LOC for 10 years, then the note would convert to a fixed-rate loan to be paid off over 20 years. ...
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Never Attribute to Malice - posted at Fri, 27 Nov, 19:54 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday November 25, 2015

Livescribe 3 - Moleskine edition

(Disclaimer: I volunteered to be part of an Early Access program for the Livescribe 3 smartpen Moleskine Edition. I received the Livescribe product for free in return for my review. My opinions and comments, however, are entirely my own and were not previously vetted by anyone at Livescribe.)

I should start by saying that this is my first experience with Livescribe pens or with Moleskine notebooks, although I have heard quite a bit about both products before. I have been intrigued by the Livescribe pen for several years, but wasn't convinced that I wanted to carry a special, bulky pen and pad of dotted paper with me.

The Livescribe 3 Moleskine Edition changes the parameters. First, the pen seems very... pen like. It's fat -- a little over half an inch in diameter, but nevertheless sleek in design. I could wish it tapered just a bit more at the front half; my hands are on the small side. I would also prefer a gel ink to a standard ball point; my hand starts to cramp faster using a ballpoint pen. Other than that, I don't really have any complaints about the design. ...
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Livescribe 3 - Moleskine edition - posted at Wed, 25 Nov, 11:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday September 15, 2015

The 8 Colors of Fitness

8colors book

Our September BAAPT program featured Suzanne Brue with a new twist on Type. You'd probably guess that the different Types approach exercise in very different ways. But this meeting provided the opportunity to discover just how different we can be.

From one SJ/Blue's comment about exercising, "It never occurred to me that fun could enter into it", to an SP/Green's "I like the surprise around the corner and like to adapt to it", we spent three hours learning and talking about physical activity, fitness, and Type. ...
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The 8 Colors of Fitness - posted at Tue, 15 Sep, 14:44 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday July 23, 2015

Solar Home

We have been thinking about adding solar collectors for a long time, dithering over technologies, worrying about installation and maintenance, etc. When the public school in our neighborhood put in an 8190 sq. ft. array (6 rows of 91 3'x5' panels), we knew we should try to get on board. However, it's always been too expensive. Until now.

Rich ran across a mention of SolarCity in January of this year. He started looking into what they offer; he talked to a representative. They sent us a proposal; discussions went back and forth. Eventually, we signed up, hooked up, and became reasonably happy campers.

Note: If, after reading this post, you decide to buy from SolarCity, please let them know that you learned about them from us. You'll get a month of free power and we'll get a tasty referral bonus!

Continued... in our wiki.

See also: Solar Alliance for additional information on Solar Energy.

Solar Home - posted at Thu, 23 Jul, 16:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday July 17, 2015

Tea on Ice

A story about cold tea, brought on by a memory triggered by my mug of tea going cool. ...
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Tea on Ice - posted at Fri, 17 Jul, 16:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday June 13, 2015

Hard As Rock!

Rich is out in the Back Forty (that's yards, not acres), working on a project.

The Idea (in theory): to attach some 4x4 boards perpendicular to the slope back there to make it possible to walk along the edge of the hill horizontally.

2015 06 13 15 18 48 2015 06 13 15 19 48

In practice? Our house is on a hill made of decomposed granite. Great stuff. It has excellent drainage. Mud slides? We never get mud. Rain is gone within a minute of hitting the ground.

On the other hand, it's miserable to dig through. After we bought our house, we converted the back lawn to water-conserving garden. We rototilled down about 18" and removed all rocks larger than a golf ball. That made it possible to dig holes in the garden for planting things. ...
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Hard As Rock! - posted at Sat, 13 Jun, 16:56 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday April 26, 2015

StrengthsFinder and Psychological Type

I traveled up to Sacramento yesterday (a 2-hour trip by BART & car) to attend the April CCC-APT meeting. Erin Passons presented "Discover Your Strengths: Combining StrengthsFinder and Psychological Type".

Read my commentary...

StrengthsFinder and Psychological Type - posted at Sun, 26 Apr, 10:19 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday March 16, 2015

EEG from the Other Side of the Table

Image 3 As I previously described, I had my brain activity scanned and mapped last June as part of Dario Nardi's neuroscience and personality study. I had a wonderful time, but I had to wonder what the experience was like on the other side of the desk.

Although Dario had taken a few pictures of the computer screen while my scan was in progress, that wasn't quite the same as seeing the process in action. I really wanted a chance to observe a scanning session.

So, when Dario brought his equipment to the Bay Area this past weekend and offered brain scanning sessions to members of BAAPT, I asked if it would be all right for me to attend and watch as long as the person wearing the EEG cap agreed. Dario said yes, I asked a fellow BAAPT member (Ellen), who said "Sure!" and we were set. ...
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EEG from the Other Side of the Table - posted at Mon, 16 Mar, 14:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday November 24, 2014

Looking for Coffee in All The Right Places

Starbucks along101

We occasionally drive up into the North Bay Area (Marin and Sonoma counties) for a concert or some other entertainment. On the way up, we typically get a coffee drink for the trip before heading north. On the way back home, we'd like to do the same; however, our options are more limited in the latter part of the evening.

While there are many Starbucks along that stretch of US 101, only a handful are open after 9pm, which is when we're usually driving home. I decided to look for a list of those stores.

Starbucks has a Store locator that makes it easy to list all of the stores in a given area. I can't filter by "open late", but I could scan for closing times after 9pm. (Note: to do this, you need to use the store locator before 9pm. Otherwise, if the store has closed, the houses will not be listed. It will just say: Closed.) ...
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Looking for Coffee in All The Right Places - posted at Mon, 24 Nov, 17:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday July 19, 2014

My Brain on EEG

I'm a Science Geek. I've loved Science, of all kinds, for as long as I can remember. I majored in Science from High School on and got my University degree in Microbiology (although I work with computers). In College, I also discovered Psychology and participated in as many Psych labs as I could, whether for extra credit or not.

I love learning about how the brain works. When Rich and I discovered Jeff Hawkins' book, On Intelligence, we purchased additional copies to give or lend to friends and family.

in 1994, I discovered the MBTI and I've been fascinated by it ever since. So, you might guess that I want to learn everything I can when science, brain studies, and the MBTI intersect! Or, as Dario Nardi put it:

Ah, the magic of Type + neuroscience... :-)
...
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My Brain on EEG - posted at Sat, 19 Jul, 13:07 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday May 15, 2014

Aim for the Gold

Archery is the only sport I've ever loved. I took fencing, bowling, riflery, and pistol classes in college Phys Ed and I enjoyed them all, but archery was by far my favorite. I've loved it since I first tried it, in 6th grade. I was on the Archery Team for four years in college.

But, until today, it had been a Very Long Time (25 years or more, easily) since I last picked up a bow (in real life, that is; I shoot regularly in my dreams. ;-)

Today I spent a very happy hour doing something I used to do three nights a week... shooting arrows at targets.

I'm feeling happy, contented, and surprisingly energized right now. ...
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Aim for the Gold - posted at Thu, 15 May, 19:35 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday May 12, 2014

The Price of a Cup

-- Or A Tempest in a Coffee Cup

SBucks Love Your Beverage crop

There's a sign at Starbucks that says "Love your beverage or let us know. We'll always make it right." I think we can agree that arguing with a customer doesn't make things right; it makes things wrong (and annoying).

I like Coffee Frappuccinos. I like them a lot. I buy them often (gold card customer). I know, from watching these get made, that a large scoop of ice varies in the number of ice cubes and that there is often more "Venti Frappuccino" than fits in comfortably in a Venti cup.

It's one thing to order a latte and not get all of the foam. It's quite another to watch several ounces of Frappuccino go down the sink. I paid for that mixture. I want everything that's in the blender pitcher.

I also want a bit of space at the top of the drink, between the drink and the lid. I need to stir a Frappucino regularly and it's messy when the drink oozes through the straw hole. (I also like to add some extra concentrated cold-brew coffee when I get the drink home, or add a bit of my spouse's "Misto" if we're out. I need extra space to do that.)

So: Venti size recipe, everything from the blender pitcher, plus some space before the top. How to get that?

I used to ask for a dome lid without whipped cream. (Have you ever knocked one of those over? Don't.) Then, one day, the barista at our local Starbucks proposed a brilliant solution: ask for the next larger size cup. In my case, that would be the Trenta.

Now I ask for a Venti in a Trenta. Problem solved, right? All the drink; extra space; no mess! Simple... except on those occasions when the barista wants to argue. ...
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The Price of a Cup - posted at Mon, 12 May, 09:45 Pacific | Comments (1)

Tuesday May 6, 2014

How Not to Handle Meeting Attendees

We went to a meeting last night. We've been to many meetings, at many venues, throughout the SF Bay Area over the past 10 years but this one was ... different. The security for the venue was both overdone and seemingly naive at the same time.

Venue: Silicon Valley tech company. "Training room". Sign in at the front desk. Security person on duty. Fairly standard.

Event registration was handled through EventBrite. I registered two people (myself and a "+1"). $20 each. I brought my receipt with me just in case. Again. fairly standard.

When we arrived, the people at the front desk had a list of names. Rich's name wasn't on the list. They had no idea how to handle a "+1". Literally, no idea. I was sent to talk to the woman who handled logistics for the meeting. ...
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How Not to Handle Meeting Attendees - posted at Tue, 06 May, 09:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday April 22, 2014

"Fun" with front-line tech support

On April 14, I sent a bug report to ted.com because a video I watched claimed to have "subtitles in 7 languages". But I could find no way -- no button to click -- to get subtitles in any language. I could only locate the (supposedly "interactive") transcript, on a separate page.

Back and forth we went with the so-called support people arguing with me.

They said 'Once you press play on a talk, the video's menu bar will appear below. If subtitles/captions are available for the talk they will appear as a list when you click on the 'Subtitles' button in the lower right corner.

I repeated that there was no such button.

...
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"Fun" with front-line tech support - posted at Tue, 22 Apr, 11:44 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 28, 2014

This door not working.

(For those outside of the SF Bay Area, BART Bay Area Rapid Transit) is our subway/transit system)

Today's Fun on BART:

I had a meeting in SF. A train entered the station moments after I reached the platform.

The train stopped.
The doors did not open.
The doors continued to not open.
Over the speaker (from the next car) we heard "Please stand free of the doors".

Eep.
Mad scramble as everyone ran to the next car.

...
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This door not working. - posted at Tue, 28 Jan, 22:07 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday January 16, 2014

Three Memes, Part 3 (Art Meme)

Several memes have been running around in Facebook lately. This is one of three that I've played.

This is a game to keep art alive. Tiffanie R. gave me Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

...
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Three Memes, Part 3 (Art Meme) - posted at Thu, 16 Jan, 23:33 Pacific | Comments (0)

Three Memes, Part 2 (Poetry Meme)

Several memes have been running around in Facebook lately. This is one of three that I've played.

This is a poetry game. In this one, we pass along poetry. Heather S. gave me Rumi.

...
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Three Memes, Part 2 (Poetry Meme) - posted at Thu, 16 Jan, 23:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Three Memes, Part 1 (Letter Meme)

Several memes have been running around in Facebook lately. This is one of three that I've played.

This is a letter game. Jaime M. gave me a Q. (Seriously?? Q??)

Hmmm. I can do this. ...
       Continue reading "Three Memes, Part 1 (Letter Meme)"

Three Memes, Part 1 (Letter Meme) - posted at Thu, 16 Jan, 23:18 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 27, 2013

Magic!

What do the Mona Lisa, a pink beach ball, a $20 bill, and a deck of cards have in common? Magic! Last night we enjoyed Ivan Amodei at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

The show was in the Fairmont Hotel, on Mason St at Sacramento, in San Francisco.

Ivan Amodei at the Fairmont ...
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Magic! - posted at Fri, 27 Dec, 23:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday August 23, 2013

Laws, Sausages, and Coffee Drinks

Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.

John Godfrey Saxe, 1869

Depending on your viewpoint, you may want to add "coffee drinks" to that list. ...
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Laws, Sausages, and Coffee Drinks - posted at Fri, 23 Aug, 19:36 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday June 7, 2013

Great Customer Service

I enjoy reading Bob McIntosh's blog, "Things Career Related". Two days ago, Bob posted an article entitled "Want great customer service, go to Starbucks", in which he says:
Customer service is such a priority to me that I’ve abandoned a famous hamburger joint up the street from us because it takes forever to get served. I’ve also traveled miles out of my way to give my money to another branch of a large retail store because I’ve been treated rudely by some teenager whose main concern is texting his girlfriend.

Customer service weighs so heavily on my mind that my kids get sick of hearing me say, “That was great customer service,” or the opposite, which is more the case than the former these days. My kids also get embarrassed when I ask for the store’s manager so I can commend an associate who did his/her job the way it should be done.

As much as I hate poor customer service (maybe we’ve come to expect it), I feel much stronger about superior customer service. And thus, I feel Starbucks “is all that” when it comes to customer service.

...
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Great Customer Service - posted at Fri, 07 Jun, 00:49 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday May 22, 2013

We love our Scion xB. Customer support? Not so much

We love our Scion xB. Customer support? Not so much.

We're trying to get a $225 reimbursement for a warranty repair. How difficult should this be?

On Sunday evening, September 5, 2010, we exited a local store, walked to the parking lot, and unlocked our Scion. All normal. But when my spouse, Rich, opened the rear (lift gate) door, the handle -- the plastic bar that holds the latch for the door and the lights over the license plate -- came off in his hand. It remained attached to the car only by the electrical cable that makes the latch and lights work.

We fastened the handle to the rear windshield wiper with a bungee cord so it wouldn't flop until we could get it repaired, then drove home. ...
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We love our Scion xB. Customer support? Not so much - posted at Wed, 22 May, 17:40 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 17, 2013

Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go?

Up until sometime today, my incoming email was in Rich Text (HTML) mode if that's the way the sender sent it. I send my mail out in plain text, but I was happy to read mail in whatever form the sender preferred. In many cases, Rich Text really is better.

Today, something changed. I started seeing all of my incoming mail in Plain Text mode. Ugh. ...
       Continue reading "Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go?"

Where Did My Rich Text Mail Go? - posted at Wed, 17 Apr, 22:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday April 15, 2013

How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms

We discovered a "new" SF Bay Area restaurant today: Coconut Bay Street Cafe (Thai). It's located at 1300 Howard St in Burlingame (CA).

We came in largely by accident; the restaurant we initially planned to eat at turned out to close between 3:00 pm and 4:30 pm. We arrived just at 3pm. Pfooie!.

We had passed Coconut Bay Street Cafe on the way to our original destination. When, disappointed and lunchless, we headed back to the car, we noticed that CBSC was open.

So, we went in. ...
       Continue reading "How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms"

How (Not) to Eat Fried Worms - posted at Mon, 15 Apr, 22:43 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday March 22, 2013

No WYSIWYG, Please. I Prefer Markup

I recently applied for a writer/editor position with a company that looks like a good match for my interests. As part of their application process, they ask candidates to complete a few writing exercises. That seems like an excellent idea to me. There was just one small gotcha.

Although the company uses a wiki for all of the internal writing, the exercise was to be completed in Google Docs. When I asked why, I was told they assume most people don't start out with a lot of experience using wiki markup. They are "mostly interested in people's ability to express themselves well, and learning a markup-based editing system might be a distraction from that."

That makes sense... for most people. I, however, am unusual. I have 10 years of wiki markup experience, but never used Google Docs before yesterday. For me, Google Docs posed a distraction. It didn't help that I managed to trip a surprise UI issue that offset the insertion point a bit to the left (or was it to the right) of where the cursor appeared to be. Distraction compounded by frustration is a bad combination. ...
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No WYSIWYG, Please. I Prefer Markup - posted at Fri, 22 Mar, 10:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday February 11, 2013

Lamp Tweaking

A few years ago, we found an interesting 5-head floor lamp at a garage sale. We're quite pleased with it. Each of the five "heads" has an adjustable goose neck, to better position the light where we want it. The switch provides several options: light upwards, downwards, all on, or all off.

When we recently decided to get a new lamp for the other end of the couch, we hoped to find something similar.

DSCN1617
...
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Lamp Tweaking - posted at Mon, 11 Feb, 12:04 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday February 6, 2013

From Database records to Name tags

I'm taking over the volunteer position of Database Manager for a group I belong to. Before I can officially take over, I need to know that I can replicate the processes that the previous volunteer followed. She has a PC; I use a Mac.

My first task: Figuring out how to create name badges for meeting attendees based on data exported from the member database. ...
       Continue reading "From Database records to Name tags"

From Database records to Name tags - posted at Wed, 06 Feb, 20:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday December 9, 2012

Fridge Door Alert

Our refrigerator (an Amana model with the freezer on the bottom) is very well made, in general, but the upper door doesn't always seal properly without a solid push. As a result, we have found it hanging slightly open more than once.

We decided that we needed some sort of alarm that would notify us of a problem, before the problem became warm spoiled milk and ruined food! ...
       Continue reading "Fridge Door Alert"

Fridge Door Alert - posted at Sun, 09 Dec, 21:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday August 11, 2012

Harry & Harriet Homeowner Repair Their La-Z-Boy Sofa

Nearly 20 years ago, Rich and I purchased a La-Z-Boy recliner sofa and a pair of recliner chairs with swivel bases. They have held up remarkably well under heavy use from humans and cats. The upholstery still feels and looks good and the frames and mechanisms (with one exception) have been solid.

The sole exception has been the (stage)right foot rest on the couch: it has been having problems in closing for a few years. About 6 months ago, the problem became quite a bit more serious: I was unable to close that footrest, so getting up (particularly without disturbing kitties) became an awkward exercise. ...
       Continue reading "Harry & Harriet Homeowner Repair Their La-Z-Boy Sofa"

Harry & Harriet Homeowner Repair Their La-Z-Boy Sofa - posted at Sat, 11 Aug, 14:32 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday June 14, 2012

In Line at the Checkout Stand

After breakfast today, we went to the grocery store to get Cheerios, bagels, tomatoes, string cheese... I avoided the muffins. I'm trying not to eat sugar.

When I got to the front, there was one other customer, a woman who had been nattering at the manager (call him Ralph) for the past 10 minutes at least (I had passed them earlier). Apparently, Ralph is a friend of hers.

She finished with him and took her groceries to the checkout counter just as I arrived.

There was only one checker. ...
       Continue reading "In Line at the Checkout Stand"

In Line at the Checkout Stand - posted at Thu, 14 Jun, 15:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 27, 2012

Looking for Work

After 5 years with the same company, I'm looking for a new job. There was a division re-org back in August and my manager resigned the same week (coincidentally). I wasn't a fit for the new team I was assigned to and, despite my best efforts, couldn't find a team I did fit.

"What you do is very valuable, Vicki... but there's no position for you in our group."

I heard that a lot. ...
       Continue reading "Looking for Work"

Looking for Work - posted at Fri, 27 Jan, 17:24 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 5, 2009

Shari's Restaurant and Pies

A Shari's Restaurant and Pie Shop recently replaced the Bakers Square near our house. We looked forward to trying it. We had stopped going to Bakers Square for anything but pie. The food had gone downhill in the past few years.

Last night at 9:45 we were coming home from a meeting in San Francisco and realized that Shari's is open 24 hours! We decided to try a late dinner. ...
       Continue reading "Shari's Restaurant and Pies"

Shari's Restaurant and Pies - posted at Thu, 05 Nov, 19:48 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 25, 2009

Goodbye to Walgreens.com

Sometime back, CVS Pharmacy took over what was Longs Drugs. We didn't notice much difference until early September, when I went in to the store and said "Oof". CVS had done a complete internal remodel... and I didn't like it at all.

Well, we have several Walgreens stores in the area. I decided to switch a prescription from Longs/CVS to walgreens.com. ...
       Continue reading "Goodbye to Walgreens.com"

Goodbye to Walgreens.com - posted at Sun, 25 Oct, 18:11 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 29, 2009

Jumping Through Hoops

Rich and I joined a new Credit Union yesterday. There were various reasons, summarized as: the other CU annoyed us one time too many and the new one has a branch near our house (instead of 40 miles away).

We want overdraft protection on the checking accounts. Overdraft protection is handled by Savings and then by credit card. So, we will each apply for a CU Visa card. How difficult could that be? ...
       Continue reading "Jumping Through Hoops"

Jumping Through Hoops - posted at Wed, 29 Jul, 13:23 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday July 1, 2009

Catching Up

I haven't been updating my weblog very often. No special reason; I just haven't felt like there was anything to write. Nevertheless, there have been things going on... ...
       Continue reading "Catching Up"

Catching Up - posted at Wed, 01 Jul, 18:14 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 21, 2008

CA Academy of Sciences

My group at Work had an outing at the CA Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park yesterday. Our official meet-up time was 11:30 for lunch, followed by a "team activity".

Since Rich and I had thought it might be nice to see the new Academy exhibits, preferably together, Rich came along with me and we drove in early, arriving at the Park at 9:00. We found the parking lot (with some minor confusion and one U-turn and loop back). Once we were in the garage, parking was easy and there were plenty of signs pointing to where we needed to go.

We bought Rich a ticket, (at $24.95 for adult admission, we were happy that the Company was paying for my ticket), then waited for the doors to open at 9:30. There were about 20 people in the general admission line at 9:15, as many as two to three times that number when the doors opened. Add that to the number of people waiting at the group/members door and this was a very popular place on a foggy Thursday mornig.

The man ahead of us in line said he had tried to come the day before and gone away again; the line then had stretched down to the street and around the corner. (Third Wednesday is free.) He decided to come today instead.

The building is very handsome with lots of glass and guy wires and stuff. My Dad (an architect) would think it was interesting. A man in line said he'd heard it cost half a billion (with a b) dollars.

At 9:30, the doors opened and Rich went in. Unfortunately, I couldn't go in yet, because I needed my "group" ticket. My co-worker was supposed to be waiting at the group entrance with the tickets at 9:30. However, she was late and when she arrived there was some additional confusion with the tickets and the lunch coupons and the Academy liaison for groups.

I finally got inside at 9:55 and caught up with Rich. It turned out the rainforest doesn't open until 10 so we got in line for that. ...
       Continue reading "CA Academy of Sciences"

CA Academy of Sciences - posted at Fri, 21 Nov, 19:28 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday October 24, 2008

Vote By Mail

For years, I've been meaning to file for a permanent "Vote by mail" ballot. I never got around to it, mostly because our polling place was so close.

But last year, the polling place moved to a public school a few miles away. And the city went to "electronic voting machines" (wow. 1980s technology. How very disappointing. :(

And also, this year, I care more about the outcome of the election than I have in... forever, I think. So, I'm impatient. I want to record my vote and be done with it.

Therefore, earlier this month, I finally filled out the application (trivial; it's on the web) and got my ballot-by-mail last week. Rich liked the idea so he applied too; his ballot came yesterday.

As of today, we've both voted. Can I hibernate until Nov 5 now?

Vote By Mail - posted at Fri, 24 Oct, 22:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday August 24, 2008

Saturday at the Zoo

What to do on a Saturday afternoon when the parents and sister are visiting? We went to the zoo.

San Francisco has a nice little zoo. It's not as big as the National Zoo in Washington DC or the San Diego Zoo but... right now, they have baby tigers! This makes it a pretty wonderful zoo. :) ...
       Continue reading "Saturday at the Zoo"

Saturday at the Zoo - posted at Sun, 24 Aug, 23:22 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday July 24, 2008

Tweetup

I went to the HMB Tweetup on Tuesday night! @pistachio was in town after BlogHer 08.

I met @pistachio of course! I also met @creativesage, @shelisrael, @scobleizer, @ryankuder, @britneymason, @geekmommy, @maryamie, @stoweboyd, @kathysierra, and so many others! Wow.

What am I talking about??? ...
       Continue reading "Tweetup"

Tweetup - posted at Thu, 24 Jul, 22:16 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday June 5, 2008

Search Magic - Impress and Delight Your Friends

A co-worker IM'd me

"Can TWiki show me all of the pages I've created? I started a Hack Day retrospective and now I can't find it and I don't remember what I called it."

Well, yes, it can... but that's slow and at this time of day, it will fail. Hang on a moment.

clickety click

Is this the page you're looking for?

Coworker: "Wow. Thanks!"

Search magic. My fingers never leave my hands.

Search Magic - Impress and Delight Your Friends - posted at Thu, 05 Jun, 23:21 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday May 11, 2008

Twoosh

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"); text-based posts, up to 140 characters
Up to 140 characters...

In January, @jobsworth asked When you tweet, how does your instinct deal with the 140 limit? Do you find yourself "cutting back", "padding out" or "leaving as is"?

I don't much care for really short posts, either to write or to read. I want some value for the tweet. Most of the people I follow post a few sentences most of the time, not just a few words. My own tweets have tended toward 100+ characters, give or take, always in complete sentences.

On occasion I've had to cut back when what I wanted to say went over 140, but most of the time, I just typed what I wanted to say and then sent it. Then I discovered tweet140. ...
       Continue reading "Twoosh"

Twoosh - posted at Sun, 11 May, 11:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday May 9, 2008

From Microhoo to Lunch

In the wake of the Yahoo!-MicroSoft brouhaha, Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang wrote
there's a reason why we're the only fortune 500 company with an exclamation point at the end of our name, and now is the time to demonstrate what that exclamation point stands for.
Yahoo
To which a friend of mine responded: What about Yum! Brands? (OK, you could say that the ! is in the middle but the logo is Yum!).

Yum! owns several fast food favorites, including Pizza Hut, KFC, and Long John Silver's.

Yum
...
       Continue reading "From Microhoo to Lunch"

From Microhoo to Lunch - posted at Fri, 09 May, 22:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday March 28, 2008

Bottled Water Mis-Delivery

We buy five-gallon bottles of (Arrowhead) spring water for drinking and cooking. Today was delivery day. We got the empties collected last night; we had 5 empties. (Last month, they didn't take away the empties because we forgot to put them out and the driver didn't knock or ring the bell.) We already have 6 full bottles in stock so we really don't need a lot of new water.

Rich put a note around the neck of one of the bottles requesting 1 bottle of water. I was up at 7 am and put the empties on the porch by 7:30.

When Rich opened the front door to leave the house to drive to work, there were 5 bottles of water on the porch. One of the new bottles had the original "order form" note carefully transferred to the neck. I looked at it. It was one of the old Calistoga order forms, so the driver could have been confused but... why didn't he ring the bell and ask?

(Why didn't he ring the bell, period? We're getting tired of stealth delivery. We'd much prefer someone else carry those five-gallon bottles of water up the stairs. 1 gallon of water equals 8.33 lbs. 41.6 lbs is heavy.) ...
       Continue reading "Bottled Water Mis-Delivery"

Bottled Water Mis-Delivery - posted at Fri, 28 Mar, 14:21 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday February 16, 2008

TWiki Community Summit and Meetup

Twiki-Logo

On Thursday and Friday, Feb 14/15, I attended the TWiki Community Summit in Sunnyvale, CA. The location and and wireless internet access for the meeting were provided by Yahoo!. The Summit meetings were followed, on Friday night, by an open TWiki User Meetup.

TWiki Community Summits are organized for TWiki Community members, e.g. core developers, extension developers, doc writers, marketeers and supporters of the TWiki ecosystem in general. Building on the success of the first Summit, held in Rome in August 2007, TWiki community members decided to hold a Summit meeting every six months. ...
       Continue reading "TWiki Community Summit and Meetup"

TWiki Community Summit and Meetup - posted at Sat, 16 Feb, 23:33 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday February 5, 2008

Voting Day

It's Voting Day in California. The People in Charge in our precinct certainly went out of their way to make this difficult and frustrating.

First off, they moved the polling place from our usual location. We arrived to find a sign on the door that said "Your Polling Place Has Moved!" There was no indication of where it had moved to. It only said "Check your sample ballot for the new location."

We hadn't brought the sample ballot with us so we went back to the house. ...
       Continue reading "Voting Day"

Voting Day - posted at Tue, 05 Feb, 08:37 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday January 15, 2008

They're A Telephone Company

I set up a web account with AT&T today. It was ... different. As has become standard, they send out a confirmation number. Without that number, you cannot complete registration.

What's weird, though, is they send the confirmation number by telephone. They tell you to expect an automated phone call, "within 10 minutes" . You sit and wait and eventually the phone rings. ...
       Continue reading "They're A Telephone Company"

They're A Telephone Company - posted at Tue, 15 Jan, 17:26 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday December 13, 2007

Take Your Pleo to Work

My Pleo went with me to Work on Wednesday and Thursday. He met several of my co-workers — including one who is impatiently awaiting his own Pleo's arrival ("First-hatch" Pleos, like the one I have, arrived in their homes first. The next batch should be shipped starting next week.) ...
       Continue reading "Take Your Pleo to Work"

Take Your Pleo to Work - posted at Thu, 13 Dec, 21:58 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 30, 2007

TWiki Meetup

Last night was the first Silicon Valley TWiki User Meetup. TWiki is an open-source , open-development, structured wiki, a web-based collaboration system. I've been using TWiki since mid-2006. I work with it a LOT at the Job.

Twiki-Birdie

The Meetup was held at the Plug and Play Tech Center (.com) in Sunnyvale. Nice place, if a bit hard to figure out where to park.

There were 50+ attendees. First there was networking and munchies. I networked with the "TWiki" Birdie, a beautiful female White-Bellied Caique (parrot). She's the twiki.net mascot and "Social Networking Catalyst, as well as a total sweetheart. ...
       Continue reading "TWiki Meetup"

TWiki Meetup - posted at Fri, 30 Nov, 21:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday November 11, 2007

Introducing Snibbles - A Tumblelog

I've been building a new weblog, called Snibbles. Snibbles is a tumblelog.

A what??

A tumblelog is a variation of a blog, that favors short-form, mixed-media posts over the longer editorial posts frequently associated with blogging. Common post formats found on tumblelogs include links, photos, quotes, dialogues, and video. Unlike blogs, this format is frequently used to share the author's creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.

from Wikipedia.

Jason Kottke described tumblelogs as "really just a way to quickly publish the 'stuff' that you run across every day on the web." ...
       Continue reading "Introducing Snibbles - A Tumblelog"

Introducing Snibbles - A Tumblelog - posted at Sun, 11 Nov, 14:39 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday November 9, 2007

Transit Travails

Sometimes I have to forcibly remind myself why I take the train to my Job. I know it's better for the environment and better for my car. I know it reduces my average levels of stress and frustration. I know that I would have traffic every afternoon if I drove. I know that, many times, the train is convenient, on schedule, and relatively comfortable.

But every so often, about once every month or two, something goes wrong. And when something goes wrong, it's usually a real whopper. ...
       Continue reading "Transit Travails"

Transit Travails - posted at Fri, 09 Nov, 20:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday May 2, 2007

Wide Screen Monitor

We've moved our Mac mini into the living room and connected it to our new Sharp LCD monitor. Wow.

Rich ran an Ethernet cable from the hub (in his office) to the living room. The wire goes down through the floor, across the garage ceiling, and back up through the floor in the living room.

We bought a wireless Apple keyboard and a wireless Kensington mouse (we like Kensington). Now we can sit on the couch and use the computer. The mini itself tucks right under the edge of the screen.. The Electric Sheep are quite awesome. It's all great fun.

Wide Screen Monitor - posted at Wed, 02 May, 18:24 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday April 25, 2007

New TV

Our new flat-screen high-res LCD TV (DVD monitor) arrived yesterday. We had it shipped. The dealer told us to expect delivery between 11 am and 4 pm.

We went out, briefly, at 9:00 am to run a few errands and get breakfast. We were back at the house by 10:15 and I took the kitties downstairs with me and shut us all in while I worked.

The day passed. 11:00, noon, 2:00 pm, ... 4:00 pm. No truck. No delivery. No TV. ...
       Continue reading "New TV"

New TV - posted at Wed, 25 Apr, 18:13 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday March 31, 2007

Now If They Could Only Handle the Paperwork

It's time for my annual paean to Turbo Tax.

Like many people (not you, of course, surely not you) I put off doing my taxes. I don't wait until the last minute anymore; now I do them sometime between March 15 and April 5. But still, it's not like I'm anxious to get to this annual chore.

For whatever reasons — some books I've read recently suggest the primary reason is "fear" — I procrastinate. I find other, higher priority tasks to do instead. I have to wash my hair... do the laundry... read a book... feed the cats. Something, (anything!) else. ...
       Continue reading "Now If They Could Only Handle the Paperwork"

Now If They Could Only Handle the Paperwork - posted at Sat, 31 Mar, 15:27 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 5, 2007

Wi-Fi Hotspot

We have a small, home LAN. We wired our house for Ethernet shortly after we moved in. We've got a cable in most rooms (yes in the bedroom; no in the bathrooms) and two in the living room. ...
       Continue reading "Wi-Fi Hotspot"

Wi-Fi Hotspot - posted at Fri, 05 Jan, 21:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday October 6, 2006

Almost Birch Beer

We recently tried Henry Weinhard Draught-style Root Beer and Oh My, is it Good! Unless you grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch county like I did, you probably won't understand what I'm talking about, but I was pleased and surprised to discover that the taste is reminiscent, (to me, anyway), of Birch Beer!

Enjoy a truly great American Root Beer recipe, originally crafted by our master brewers during prohibition. This gourmet elixir, brewed with sassafras, vanilla and honey, proved to be a popular alternative for our beer-drinking loyalists both during, and after, the "great dry spell." Our tradition of providing only the highest quality beverages continues today in each bottle that bears our founder's name, Brewmaster Henry Weinhard.
...
       Continue reading "Almost Birch Beer"

Almost Birch Beer - posted at Fri, 06 Oct, 19:57 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday October 2, 2006

The Wrong Day to Take the Train

This was one of those days that makes you wonder why you thought commuting by public transit was a good idea. Rich had an afternoon meeting in the South Bay, so he drove me to the station where I caught the 8:17 train.

Unfortunately, a northbound train apparently hit a car, "abandoned on the tracks" near California Ave in Palo Alto, right around the time I was boarding my train. So my southbound train started off normally, then slowed down, then stopped in Menlo Park with a train ahead and a train behind. And we sat there. ...
       Continue reading "The Wrong Day to Take the Train"

The Wrong Day to Take the Train - posted at Mon, 02 Oct, 19:31 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 1, 2006

Up to My Ears

If you read my weblog regularly, you may have noticed that my posting has become.. erratic. There will be nothing for as much as a week, then, suddenly, I post three or four entries (usually backdated).

There's a reason for this. I can't claim it's a good reason, but here it is: ...
       Continue reading "Up to My Ears"

Up to My Ears - posted at Sun, 01 Oct, 19:55 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday July 13, 2006

If I Have to Use Windows

At least I can make the best of a bad deal

I have to use Windows for my current job (not by choice and not for lack of trying to get a Mac OS X system instead). And, while I can use Windows, I don't like it. So... I've made some modifications, installing various applications and extensions that make Windows look and feel... not so much like Windoze. ...
       Continue reading "If I Have to Use Windows"

If I Have to Use Windows - posted at Thu, 13 Jul, 12:46 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday July 7, 2006

Oh I Wish I Drove an Oscar Mayer Weiner

The Weinermobile is in town! It's a "Custom-made Fiberglass Hot Dog Resting on a Lightly Toasted Bun". It drove past while we were at the Post Office tonight.

Wmobile Header ...
       Continue reading "Oh I Wish I Drove an Oscar Mayer Weiner"

Oh I Wish I Drove an Oscar Mayer Weiner - posted at Fri, 07 Jul, 21:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday June 17, 2006

Hit The Ball, Drag Fred

There's a joke that Rich and I like. A man is telling his friend about a recent golf game.

Man: I was playing a round of golf on Saturday with Fred. Fred keeled over on the 13th hole!

Friend: That's terrible! What happened?

Man: Well, I still shot two under par. But it was awful. For the next five holes, it was "Hit the ball, drag Fred."

I started a new contract on Monday. ...
       Continue reading "Hit The Ball, Drag Fred"

Hit The Ball, Drag Fred - posted at Sat, 17 Jun, 23:45 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday June 7, 2006

Inconvenience Store

Your Government at Work

I don't usually write about anything politically motivated, but there is a limit to my tolerance.

Spouse has a cold. He has a cough and a stuffed-up nose. Today, I drove to the nearest drugstore (10 minutes by car) to buy him some cough & cold remedy. ...
       Continue reading "Inconvenience Store"

Inconvenience Store - posted at Wed, 07 Jun, 11:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday May 24, 2006

Trivia

Just passing it along...

A friend writes:

If your right hand is one key to the left of the home keys, i.e. HJKL instead of JKL; then ...
       Continue reading "Trivia"

Trivia - posted at Wed, 24 May, 18:17 Pacific | Comments (0)

InsPURRation

I have a Group I started over a year ago which I call "InsPURRation".

InsPURRation is a group for sharing inspirational and motivational stories, photos, poems, and thoughts. The initial group was made up of people who understand how soothing, helpful, and inspirational animals (and particularly cats) can be. However, you don't need to have a cat to join or participate! :-) People with dogs, rabbits, or just backyard birds & squirrels are very welcome!
...
       Continue reading "InsPURRation"

InsPURRation - posted at Wed, 24 May, 13:47 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday May 23, 2006

Automatic Weblog Posting

I produce two weekly memes (writing prompts): ...in other words... (a quote prompt) and Word Beads. Both are updated automated by background tasks.

I wanted people who play to be able to leave comments or links to their weblogs. ...
       Continue reading "Automatic Weblog Posting"

Automatic Weblog Posting - posted at Tue, 23 May, 00:53 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday April 23, 2006

Maker Faire

The first magazine devoted entirely to DIY technology projects, MAKE Magazine unites, inspires and informs a growing community of resourceful people who undertake amazing projects in their backyards, basements and garages.
It's an unusual magazine and it has certainly found a niche, if one can judge from the attendees at the first Maker Faire, held this weekend at the San Mateo Expo Center. Rich and I went down for a couple of hours.

Technorati Tags:

...
       Continue reading "Maker Faire"

Maker Faire - posted at Sun, 23 Apr, 16:16 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday March 9, 2006

How to Catch a Mouse

I recently ran across a write-up of an elegant and humane "catch and release" method for ridding your home of unwanted house guests of the rodent variety... It looks like a cute trick. Happily, the only time we ever had a mouse in our house, we knew exactly where he was and were able to trap and remove him in an even simpler fashion. ...
       Continue reading "How to Catch a Mouse"

How to Catch a Mouse - posted at Thu, 09 Mar, 12:28 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday March 8, 2006

Egad! It's Tax Time.

Here we go again. Time for my yearly plug. :-)

I loathe tax time. I bear a deep and abiding dislike for the proportional tax system and I don't trust the IRS.

I also don't enjoy paperwork (although I'm far less allergic to it than Rich). If I had a choice, I would much rather not handle my own tax preparation. Unfortunately, we had a Very Bad Experience about twenty years ago; we're averse to trusting a third party to handle such an important financial process for us.

So, every year at about this time, I drag out this year's folder, stomp on my natural procrastination tendencies, and start typing numbers into little boxes. ugh. The good news — I type those numbers and the computer does the math. I do my taxes using Turbo Tax. The program handles the painful parts so I don't have to. ...
       Continue reading "Egad! It's Tax Time."

Egad! It's Tax Time. - posted at Wed, 08 Mar, 00:12 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday February 12, 2006

Snapshirts

I made a custom "word cloud" t-shirt for myself using the furkids' weblog. for the content. The company I used is called SnapShirts.

...
       Continue reading "Snapshirts"

Snapshirts - posted at Sun, 12 Feb, 08:08 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday February 9, 2006

Do You Digg It?

I have started to use digg.

Digg is a technology news website that combines social bookmarking, blogging, RSS, and non-hierarchical editorial control. With digg, users submit stories for review, but rather than allow an editor to decide which stories go on the homepage, the users do.
...
       Continue reading "Do You Digg It?"

Do You Digg It? - posted at Thu, 09 Feb, 08:30 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday February 5, 2006

Splendid Bowl

We don't really care about football. Amend that. We really don't care about football. Football ranks with things like, oh, marketing surveys for toothpaste and the gross national product of Elbonia.

So, when my sister mentioned in a letter that she had spent a day in a hotel room, on an out-of-town weekend trip to Chicago, watching a Steelers game, I thought "Okaaay". That's... a bit of an odd thing to do on an out-of-town weekend.". But, whatever floats your boat. ...
       Continue reading "Splendid Bowl"

Splendid Bowl - posted at Sun, 05 Feb, 00:10 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday February 2, 2006

Linking Up With LinkedIn

I have had a LinkedIn account at the free (aka "Personal") level for almost a year, since February 10, 2005. I joined because a former co-worker suggested it on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to. He queried the list wondering if we had enough mass to make a LinkedIn "group". I was curious, as were others, and we entertained a brief flurry of membership and connection requests.

Things slowed down for a while. Then I began to notice a steady increase in LinkedIn invitations in my Inbox. At this point I have 89 connections and 17 outstanding invitations pending. ...
       Continue reading "Linking Up With LinkedIn"

Linking Up With LinkedIn - posted at Thu, 02 Feb, 08:09 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday January 27, 2006

Calendar Holder-Upper

In my office, I have a bookcase to the left of my desk. I have always hung a wall calendar on the side of the bookcase and I can see it from my desk. Unfortunately, the lower part of the calendar has been partially obscured by the "cat buckets" above my monitors. So, I asked Rich to help me figure out how to solve the problem.

How could I extend things so that the calendar hung in a position that made it easier to see? ...
       Continue reading "Calendar Holder-Upper"

Calendar Holder-Upper - posted at Fri, 27 Jan, 01:18 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday January 12, 2006

Fighting the Phone Company

We don't care. We don't have to care.
We're the Telephone Company.
At SBC, We're part of the problem.

We had a run-in with the telephone company today. I picked up the phone to make a call and got those wonderful "trouble tones" (doo Doo DOO! We're sorry, but...). Our service had been temporarily disconnected.

$%^@&*()! ...
       Continue reading "Fighting the Phone Company"

Fighting the Phone Company - posted at Thu, 12 Jan, 21:46 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday December 23, 2005

Language Lessons

I don't know how it is where you live, but a lot of the stores around here are fiercely bilingual, usually English/Spanish. I often wonder what the various Chinese / Japanese / Tagalog / Korean -speaking folks think of this, but that's the subject for another entry.

The result is that many products are labeled in at least two languages, (French being the common alternate choice). Rich and I enjoy learning words and phrases in other languages this way. ...
       Continue reading "Language Lessons"

Language Lessons - posted at Fri, 23 Dec, 16:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday December 20, 2005

Discardia: Dec 21 - Dec 30, 2005

Penathi so mai *

Celebrate Discardia this week. Discardia is a floating holiday to celebrate letting go.

Unlike other holidays, Discardia, occurs more than once a year, as determined by the sun and the moon. Discardia takes place in the time between the Solstices & Equinoxes and their following new moons. So, the length varies as well as the dates; sometimes it's short and sometimes it's long.

Discardia is a celebration of... nothing. ...
       Continue reading "Discardia: Dec 21 - Dec 30, 2005"

Discardia: Dec 21 - Dec 30, 2005 - posted at Tue, 20 Dec, 00:42 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday December 1, 2005

Say, What?

We stopped into Starbucks last night. Rich had a coupon and we were in the shopping center already.

Rich: "I'll have a large mocha."

Counterguy: "Vente?"

Rich: "Large"

One of the other counterguys was laughing quietly. We got the mocha. We left.

On the way home, Rich said "I go into a place like that to buy a drink. I don't do it to learn a new language. Why should I have to jump through their hoops to use their made-up words?"

Beats me. At least they never ask if we want fries with that...

Say, What? - posted at Thu, 01 Dec, 10:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday November 8, 2005

Didja Vote?

Bc20051108
[B.C. by Johnny Hart, Nov. 8, 2005]

Did you vote today? We did... (Does your area have anywhere near as many election seasons as ours does?We seem to have two a year).

It always seems weird to me that we just walk in, tell the people our names, sign the "book", and are given a ballot. No ID. No proof. I could pretend to be the woman across the street. Someone else could say she was me.

I'm still waiting (wishin' and a-hopin') for online voting. Unfortunately, it's going to be difficult to implement in a secure and trustworthy fashion. Voting needs to be both anonymous and controlled (no more than one vote per person but no way to match the person with the vote). Trustworthy isn't the same as secure, either. Something can be secure — difficult to break into — and still not trustworthy. Until then, I guess we have to put up with the annoyance of lines, dried-out markers, and "hanging chad".

Didja Vote? - posted at Tue, 08 Nov, 14:09 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday November 3, 2005

Rearranging the (Virtual) Furniture

I built my "home on the WWW" sometime in 1994. Except for adding new pages on occasion, things didn't change much after that. (Some years back a friend commented that I was still using the same photo. Well, I still look pretty much as I did then...).

Recently, however, I decided my webhome could use a makeover.

I simplified my template and started using CSS (something that wasn't available ten years ago). I'm also using PHP now. PHP handles "including" of content; it also provides support for a large range of possible future features.

The basic content hasn't changed, but the look is a little fresher. I invite you to visit.

Rearranging the (Virtual) Furniture - posted at Thu, 03 Nov, 00:05 Pacific | Comments (0)

Monday October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

B O O !

Berkeley and Oakland merchants were doing Halloween on College Ave. yesterday. There were a zillion kids and parents in costume - bears, dogs, dragons, frogs, witches and princesses of all descriptions, and quite a few pumpkins. ...
       Continue reading "Happy Halloween"

Happy Halloween - posted at Mon, 31 Oct, 09:34 Pacific | Comments (0)

Sunday October 30, 2005

Scharffen Berger

There were no Oompa Loompas, but...

Our friend Quinn decided that it would be fun to celebrate his birthday (today) by inviting a group of friends to join him for a tour of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory in Berkeley. The "tour" is actually nearly an hour of talk (history of chocolate and history of Scharffen Berger), touching, smelling, and looking at cocoa beans in various states, and chocolate tasting. This is followed by a quick visit to the factory floor to see the machines.

The factory is house in a 27,000 sq. foot, not-quite-100-year-old brick building (retrofitted for earthquake safety) with arched ceilings and handsome architecture. The company moved to the present site in May, 2001. The entire building — gift shop, restrooms, tour presentation room — smells like chocolate. Wow. (I can still smell chocolate :-) ...
       Continue reading "Scharffen Berger"

Scharffen Berger - posted at Sun, 30 Oct, 19:41 Pacific | Comments (1)

Sunday October 9, 2005

Color Copier

Our photocopier started getting over-sensitive a while back. First copies came out with a greyish tinge... then greyer... and greyer. Eventually they were becoming pretty much unreadable. As this was an "all-in-one" unit (copier, fax, etc) the faxes were having similar problems. We finally broke down and decided to buy a new copier. ...
       Continue reading "Color Copier"

Color Copier - posted at Sun, 09 Oct, 20:58 Pacific | Comments (0)

Tuesday September 6, 2005

Airtight

We have become converts to the Power of Saran™ Wrap.

Back in January, we went to a talk by Harold McGee, entitled "Three Centuries of Science in the Kitchen". McGee tests "well-known" kitchen lore, separating fact from wiverglava (old wives' tales). One of the myths he debunked was the one that states that putting the pit into the guacamole will keep it green. (It's true, actually, but only under the pit. The reason is that avocado turns brown on contact with oxygen in the air.)

McGee's tests not only showed the real reason that the pit keeps the avocado green (so did a light bulb. ;-) His experiments also showed that Saran™ Wrap has the lowest oxygen permeation of all the various plastic wraps.

We've been using Saran™ Wrap when we store cut fruit in the fridge. It really does work to keep the fruit from browning quickly. Be sure to stretch it tight and taut; Saran™ Wrap isn't very "sticky".

For ordinary wrapping and covering, however, we still use the giant economy sized box of generic Plastic Food Wrap from Smart & Final. 1000 feet of plastic wrap is at least a 5-year supply!

Airtight - posted at Tue, 06 Sep, 20:00 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday September 2, 2005

I Feel So Protected

My new G5 is in Limbo. :-(

I placed the order last Friday morning (August 26). Supposedly, "orders are processed within 2 to 4 business days". Okaaaay. Seems a little long. But.

Except. Except that apparently they don't put the credit card through until they've "processed" the order. And when they did that, a flag went up at The Bank. This is a "large" purchase. It must be verified! Okaaaay. It's not unusual for our buying habits but,,,

Except. Except that when they feel the need to verify they don't hold a transaction, they cancel it. So The Bank got in touch with us, we got in touch with the Bank, we verified and authorized the purchase. Now we get to call Apple.

So, we called Apple. Entered the order number on the phone (oops, that timed out). Spoke to a customer service rep. Gave that person the order number. Got transferred. Gave that person the order number. Got transferred. Entered the order number on the phone (oops, that timed out). Spoke to another customer service rep. Told that person we were really tired of being transferred (and gave her the order number).

The machine is somewhere in California, "in process". It will now ship out sometime between today and next Tuesday. We hope. The good news is that Apple has offered to expedite shipping. The bad news is that "expedited shipping" could still, possibly, not get here until a week from today.

As Rich says, "Aren't you glad you reverted?"

I Feel So Protected - posted at Fri, 02 Sep, 09:20 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday August 31, 2005

Tiger Yes, G3 No

I upgraded to Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) last week. That was the easy part. Then the problems started.

My cursor was freezing several times a day. Unplugging and replugging the USB cable would get it moving again but... that's just not right. Once, my keyboard stopped sending signals (although the mouse was working that time).

Then there were the crashes. Oy!

I think the crashes may have been brought on by the too-frequent resetting of the USB and mouse but... at least twice a day, sometimes three or four times, always at the worst possible time. Crash. (Actually, Mac OS X is usually very polite. "We're sorry. You need to restart your computer.")

System 6 wasn't this bad. Even Windows isn't this bad!

What could have gone wrong? ...
       Continue reading "Tiger Yes, G3 No"

Tiger Yes, G3 No - posted at Wed, 31 Aug, 20:10 Pacific | Comments (0)

Saturday May 14, 2005

Wordsaver

 
Rhaptopetalaceae     alegar  
  abaft     dikaryon
undersaturation   cunctipotent    
unavouched   foistiness   engulf  
  nipperkin   skuddick    
befumble   clockmutch   earwort
 

I found a new screensaver (for Mac OS X). It shows random words, lines, or paragraphs from text files. By default, it pulls words from /usr/share/dict/web2. They're great words.

The distribution also comes with a few files you might enjoy, including an (editable) set of quotes. Configuration options include the ability to choose random colors and fonts.

Cool!

Wordsaver - posted at Sat, 14 May, 00:10 Pacific | Comments (0)

Friday April 22, 2005

Drip drip drip

The kitchen sink has been dripping for ages and Rich finally got tired of it. That and he discovered that the deep basin we'd put under the sink to catch any leaks had about 2 gallons of water in it. Not good at all. So he took the sink apart, thinking he would need to replace at least a washer or two.

Oops. "Apart" is the operative word. The bolts that held the faucet assembly to the sink had become a pile of rusty crumbs. So. New faucets. Erm. Well, at least we didn't also need a new sink. ...
       Continue reading "Drip drip drip"

Drip drip drip - posted at Fri, 22 Apr, 22:19 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday April 14, 2005

Ori-garment

We have learned to fold t-shirts.

Last summer, we found this wonderful short movie depicting the not-so-ancient Japanese (?) technique of t-shirt-foldong. Wow.

We were, to say the least, impressed. Also mind-boggled. How did she do that?

Well, today, Rich stepped through the "miracle" part (ain't QuickTime wunnerful?) and when I got home he gave me a demonstration. Of course, now that we understand, all is obvious in the movie clip.

If you want to learn to fold a t-shirt (and don't understand the voice-over and captions in the movie clip), try my instruction set with pictures copied from the movie.

Miracle
Ori-garment - posted at Thu, 14 Apr, 18:43 Pacific | Comments (0)

Thursday March 17, 2005

The Time is now... 1111111111

Fun for technoids ** ;-)

1111111111 translates to Thursday, March 17th 2005, 17:58:31 (GMT -8)

Online Tools: Unix Timestamp Convertor


** The Unix date/time is stored inside the computer as the number of seconds since Jan. 1, 1970.

The Time is now... 1111111111 - posted at Thu, 17 Mar, 17:58 Pacific | Comments (0)

Wednesday January 26, 2005

Just Say N2O

My dental hygienist found a cavity at my recent cleaning :-( I had it filled today.

I do not "do" novacaine. I do not like to be stuck with a red-hot railroad spike, then have my lip be numb for the next four hours. I take nitrous.

Nitrous oxide is a very safe and popular agent still utilized by dentists today. It is much less toxic than alternatives, such as chloroform, with far less risk of explosion than ether. The main use for N2O is usually as a mild sedative and analgesic. It helps to allay anxiety that many patients may have toward dental treatment, and it offers some degree of painkilling ability.

School of Chemistry, University of Bristol Molecule of the Month

I find the painkilling ability to be quite sufficient. It's interesting how nitrous works. It doesn't shut off the sensation (but then, neither does novacaine). What nitrous does is flick a switch in my brain just before things reach the point of "too much". It's always something like "Oh, my, this could be... not that bad. Ohh my... this could really be... not that bad either."

This is not to say that I like to get my teeth filled. I am not a masochist. It's still unpleasant. It's just not... painful. But it's better than the alternative. And with headphones and soft music, the time pases.

(My Dad does it without nitrous or novacaine. Whooooweeee!)

Just Say N2O - posted at Wed, 26 Jan, 18:26 Pacific

Tuesday January 25, 2005

Fun With Spam

Spam is a plague, a disaster, a dreadful ramification of the Information Age, a torrential onslaught on the email inboxes of all right-thinking and innocent people. It can also, on occasion, be fun. Sometimes we have to take our amusement where we find it.

One of my "favorite" recent spam techniques is the effort to which some spammers go to prevent spam catching software from (correctly!) identifying their misbegotten drivel as, well... spam. They obfuscate the subject; the obfuscate the body. Sometimes they go to such extremes of obfuscation that one wonders what they had in mind originally!

For example, I recently received this in my Inbox:

    Subject: of oysters in huge

There's something both oddly surreal and compelling about it. I feel I should sit and meditate on the hidden meanings. Or something.

The body was considerably less interesting, a typical m o rrtgage [sic] "offer". They should have stopped while they were ahead. ...
       Continue reading "Fun With Spam"

Fun With Spam - posted at Tue, 25 Jan, 22:43 Pacific

Thursday December 2, 2004

Junior Achievement (pt. 2)

Two weeks after signing up for the Junior Achievement program, all Company volunteers trooped over to the "sponsored school" one afternoon to meet the teachers whose classes we'd be working with. I had a few new feelings of trepidation, not being quite sure if the teacher was really happy with this program (or confident in me). After all, she asked if I had ever done anything like this before and I said "no."

Nevertheless, we exchanged names and contact information. I gave the teacher one copy of the activity guide and we decided when I would come (Tuesdays at 11am, starting the following week). Then that meeting was over and I went back to work. ...
       Continue reading "Junior Achievement (pt. 2)"

Junior Achievement (pt. 2) - posted at Thu, 02 Dec, 21:00 Pacific

Wednesday December 1, 2004

Junior Achievement (pt. 1)

As I have mentioned in my Weekly Wrap-ups, I have been volunteering for Junior Achievement in November. Junior Achievement is a not-for-profit organization, the purpose of which is to "educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives."

The Elementary School Program is for students in grades K - 6. ...
       Continue reading "Junior Achievement (pt. 1)"

Junior Achievement (pt. 1) - posted at Wed, 01 Dec, 22:55 Pacific

Thursday November 18, 2004

Company Potluck

The Company hosted a pre-Thanksgiving potluck tonight after work from 5 to 7 pm,. Families were invited. Several people brought their kids. There were candles on each table, floating in bowls of water. There was a lot of food. The company supplied two (whole) turkeys, two hams, beverages and paper products. People brought sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, appetizers, and a whole bunch of yummy deserts.

I introduced Rich to a bunch of people I work with. He had a nice chat with one of my co-workers about X Windows and Linux ;-) I'm very pleased that the company decided to do such a nice little informal party and that they invited families.

Company Potluck - posted at Thu, 18 Nov, 21:27 Pacific

Tuesday October 26, 2004

Around the Bay Area in 90 days

We've had our Scion XB for 90 days and just over 3000 miles now and I still love it! It's a cute little car and soooo comfortable.

It's averaging about 27 mpg - not quite the advertised 32, but not too shabby. It's fun to drive and easy to park. The other night we drove it into the City and parked in a space between two driveways. We weren't sure we would fit but we did (with 6 inches to spare)!

I've had a few more people ask about it. I tell them to try one. Sit in it. Take a test drive. You may be convinced the same way we were.

Around the Bay Area in 90 days - posted at Tue, 26 Oct, 20:42 Pacific

Sunday September 26, 2004

New Cell phones

My very first cell phone was an early Motorola, purchased in 1993. It had an LED display, if I recall correctly. For the day, it was one of the smallest available. I replaced that a few years later with a (smaller) Ericson phone with LCD display. Then a few years after that, a Motorola StarTac, purchased shortly after the StarTac was released. I loved the little form factor and the great dial-from-memory interface.

It didn't take long to convince Spouse to get a StarTac too. This was the first phone he was willing to consider carrying on occasion. So, for quite a few years, we've had a pair of StarTacs. We've seen all the snazzy new phones, but the StarTacs still worked and they were small. Why upgrade again?

Recently, however, one of the StarTacs stopped working reliably out of town. I thought perhaps it was having difficulty reaching an Analog cell. Actually, that seems to be a good guess. It's an Analog only phone (not a dual mode) and apparently the Cellular providers are madly replacing the Analog cells with Digital. Time to upgrade.

So, today we went down to the Verizon store to see about replacing the phone. While we were there, we asked what it would cost to replace the other StarTac at the same time. ...
       Continue reading "New Cell phones"

New Cell phones - posted at Sun, 26 Sep, 22:01 Pacific

Thursday September 16, 2004

Working Here, Working There

I worked from home on Tuesday. I got a lot done. I put in nine and a half hours without noticing. I didn't feel the need to "get up, get out, and get away". It was quiet. There were no distractions.

I got work done. I was productive. I felt relaxed. It was wonderful.

I had planned to work from home again today. I had hoped to make working from home a regular part of my schedule.

Unfortunately, there was a sinkhole in my road to productive off site work and I walked right into it. I made a fatal political error. I announced my intentions.

Bad move. ...
       Continue reading "Working Here, Working There"

Working Here, Working There - posted at Thu, 16 Sep, 18:01 Pacific

Monday August 9, 2004

Well Oriented

I am now, officially, a well oriented regular FTE. Today I attended 6 hours of orientation. Parts of the day were interesting; I learned a few things about the Company that I didn't yet know. We were given several small presentations.

The Company likes to put everyone through orientation (even people who've been onsite as contractors for 3 months :-) simply because they figure there may be one or two things someone has missed by coming in "diagonalwise". It's not such a bad idea. Now I'm "up to speed" and also ahead a bit.

Well Oriented - posted at Mon, 09 Aug, 22:25 Pacific

Friday July 30, 2004

Last Day of Contract

Today was the last day of my second six-week contract at The Job. We won't be renewing again because on Monday I will become a salaried "permanent" FTE (Full Time Employee). Woo hoo.

I like the company, the people, and the Job (and if I have to drive to a Job, the commute could hardly be much better) so I asked for this. It took 6 weeks to accomplish everything necessary for the conversion but we got there.

Looking back through various entries, I don't seem to have ever really specified what kind of work I'm doing! This is an Internal Documentation position; I am the "Internal Technical Writer". That means that I have been writing, reviewing, and editing engineering design specs, intranet web pages, how-tos, and architecture overviews. I've also been on call to the "external" Tech Writer (the technical publications department) for help with writing, reviewing, proofreading, etc for the product user guide and release notes. Not much will change about the parameters of the Job, but I will be able to take on more speculative and long-term projects now. ...
       Continue reading "Last Day of Contract"

Last Day of Contract - posted at Fri, 30 Jul, 20:27 Pacific

Wednesday July 28, 2004

A Toy Car for Adults

Q. What do you get when you cross a sedan with a minivan?
A. A Scion XB

...
       Continue reading "A Toy Car for Adults"

A Toy Car for Adults - posted at Wed, 28 Jul, 23:00 Pacific

Wednesday July 14, 2004

It's a Wrap

Or, in this case, it's a pressure-point reliever.

We've been using bubblewrap in the bottom of our fruitbowl. We have a large, shallow, wooden bowl we use for holding fruit — apples, bananas, pears, occasionally peaches. We were tired of the fruit getting bruised on the bottom.

Then Rich considered putting a layer or two of bubblewrap in the bottom of the bowl. Now the fruit rests on air.

"But!", you say. "I like to pop the bubbles! We never have any bubblewrap left to use for fruit." Well, if you like to pop bubblewrap, try virtual bubblewrap. You can pop forever and still put a sheet or two of the real stuff in your fruitbowl.

It's a Wrap - posted at Wed, 14 Jul, 21:30 Pacific

Saturday July 10, 2004

I Want a Flintmobile!

OK, it looks like something Fred Flintstone would drive. But it has visibility. It has headroom. It has legroom!. It's an amazing car. Have you tried sitting in one? Have you tried driving one?

I have.

I want a new car!

Specifically, I want a Scion XB. ...
       Continue reading "I Want a Flintmobile!"

I Want a Flintmobile! - posted at Sat, 10 Jul, 21:38 Pacific

Friday July 9, 2004

Almost 10 weeks

Monday (technically) will mark the end of my 10th week at The Job; I started on Tuesday, May 4. ...
       Continue reading "Almost 10 weeks"

Almost 10 weeks - posted at Fri, 09 Jul, 19:13 Pacific

Friday July 2, 2004

Red White and Boom

Rich suggested I meet him in Palo Alto and we could have dinner and then go over to see the fireworks at Stanford. I thought that sounded like a good idea.

At 6pm I drove to Millbrae and took what CalTrain calls the "baby bullet train". It only stops at SF, Millbrae, Hillsdale, Palo Alto, and San Jose. Saves 15 minutes off the regular "Express". ...
       Continue reading "Red White and Boom"

Red White and Boom - posted at Fri, 02 Jul, 23:20 Pacific

Wednesday June 23, 2004

Close Encounters of the Ringtailed Kind

The raccoons came back last night. I knew they were around when we went out to the tub — first because Squirrel was pasted to the window watching something in the yard and then because I saw a raccoon on the fence while we were in the tub.

Two of them walked back and forth across the sunroom roof a lot after we went back inside. Raccoons are a lot like cats in that they walk along and then just... sit down. Then they start grooming. These kept getting up and walking a bit, then flopping down again and grooming something else. I shone a flashlight up through the glass to see them better. ...
       Continue reading "Close Encounters of the Ringtailed Kind"

Close Encounters of the Ringtailed Kind - posted at Wed, 23 Jun, 22:39 Pacific

Friday June 4, 2004

Week 5 on The Job

Today marked the end of my 5th week on The Job (depending how one counts; I started on a Tuesday and there has been one holiday). The Job was originally spec'd as a 6-week temporary contract. Now the question is — will they keep me on?

This particular contract is short-term, but if you are enthusiastic, do good work, and we like you, there might be more work in the future.

I've tried to be enthusiastic (hmmm... I've actually left a few meetings wondering if I've been perhaps too enthusiastic...). I believe I've done good work. I surely hope they like me; I've received complimentary feedback from several co-workers.

I'd like to stay on. ...
       Continue reading "Week 5 on The Job"

Week 5 on The Job - posted at Fri, 04 Jun, 22:34 Pacific

Tuesday May 25, 2004

Saga of the Shredder

Rich and I have had a crosscut shredder for many years. We'd been using a Royal CX7000, a $99 model that worked well but was noisy and had some trouble with more than 3 to 5 sheets of paper (although it laid claim to 7). We tend to want to shred a few more sheets at a time, possibly without unfolding them. For example, my credit card company keeps insisting on tempting me with cash-advance checks. These are not something I will use and not something I can simply toss into the recycling bin.

So back in January of this year, we decided to look for a model that could do more, maybe even one with a hopper to hold a lot of paper. Our web search turned up a terrific unit that would do everything we wanted it to do, with a hopper and everything! However, for $8000, we thought perhaps we should keep looking ;-) ...
       Continue reading "Saga of the Shredder"

Saga of the Shredder - posted at Tue, 25 May, 23:32 Pacific

Friday May 21, 2004

First Time Sheet

I turned in my first time sheet yesterday; it covers three weeks. The company I am working at is a bit unusual; they pay once a month. Most companies I have worked for in the past have paid twice a month or, in one or two cases, every week.

I had actually been under the impression that California Labor Laws required at least 2 pay periods per month (at least, that's what Apple told its employees many years ago when they changed from weekly to biweekly pay periods). Apparently, however, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) comes into the picture under certain circumstances which allow pay periods of once a month provided specific conditions are met.

All wages, ... earned by any person in any employment are due and payable twice during each calendar month, on days designated in advance by the employer as the regular paydays. Labor performed between the 1st and 15th days, inclusive, of any calendar month shall be paid for between the 16th and the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed, and labor performed between the 16th and the last day, inclusive, of any calendar month, shall be paid for between the 1st and 10th day of the following month. However, salaries of executive, administrative, and professional employees of employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, ... may be paid once a month on or before the 26th day of the month during which the labor was performed if the entire month's salaries, including the unearned portion between the date of payment and the last day of the month, are paid at that time.

[ cf. State of California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement publication The Laws Relating to the Time, Manner, and Payment of Wages ]

I'm always interested in this sort of stuff. ...
       Continue reading "First Time Sheet"

First Time Sheet - posted at Fri, 21 May, 22:17 Pacific

Tuesday May 18, 2004

Writing Groups

I have often mentioned that one of my entries in this space is in response to a writing prompt from one group or another. I currently subscribe to 8 such online writing groups! If you like to write (especially if you keep a journal — online or off), you may be interested in joining a writing group. There are many such (also both online and off ;-). These are the ones I like. ...
       Continue reading "Writing Groups"

Writing Groups - posted at Tue, 18 May, 21:23 Pacific

Saturday May 15, 2004

New Job, Second Week

Hey! I had work to do this week! Not a huge amount, but enough to keep the mind alive.

I reviewed a chapter of the User Guide. The Tech Pubs writer thinks he'll have more for me to do this coming week. I went over my review of a design spec with one of the engineers, and I should have "ownership" of that document next week, to tweak, twiddle, and frob it to my heart's content :-)

Friday, I worked on updating a couple of web-based tutorials. As I will need to know the stuff they explain, I'm in a perfect position to work on these as I try them out.

New Job, Second Week - posted at Sat, 15 May, 14:28 Pacific

Friday May 7, 2004

New Job, First Week

I survived my first week (four days, 34.5 hours) at the new job. I hate the first week of a new job. There's often nothing, really, to do. Exploring and familiarizing only takes so long and gets old rather quickly. ...
       Continue reading "New Job, First Week"

New Job, First Week - posted at Fri, 07 May, 22:02 Pacific

Tuesday May 4, 2004

New Job - First Day

I hate first days. I'm not crazy about first weeks.

I started my new job today with a short IT orientation at 9:00. Actually, the orientation didn't start till almost 9:30 because I was the only one there. Then the second person showed up about 10 minutes into the short presentation (which the IT guy restarted) and the third person showed up a little after that. By then, I could probably have given the short IT presentation. The other two people were coming from what I would consider an uncomfortable distance away. One came from Walnut Creek. (When we first got to the Bay Area, we lived in Walnut Creek for 3 months and I commuted to South San Francisco. It was torturous!) The other person came up from Los Gatos. Gah! That's further south than Campbell (where I worked last Fall) and in the major commute direction. Ugh!

I got a computer by noon. The good news is that it's a Powermac G4 running Mac OS X. The bad news is that it's a 15" laptop. Sigh. I brought in my trackball today and I borrowed a USB keyboard for most of the day; being a Windoze keyboard, the command and option (Windowze and Alt) keys were in the "wrong" order, so I'll bring in a Mac keyboard tomorrow.

With assistance from Facilities (called for this reason) we found the switch to turn on the overhead fluorescents. This is another Clan of the Cave People — most of the engineers like to work in the dark with just the light from their screens and maybe a desk lamp. Blech!. I truly do not understand these people who want to sit in the dark; even before I realized how affected I was by the ambient light, I never turned everything off! I remember turning off one or two bulbs to reduce glare, or running incandescent lamps reflecting off the ceiling but I never sat in the dark with just the light from my screen!

There's a window on the other side of the cubicle partition (beyond the corridor). If I look in just the right direction I can see a little piece of it.

Sigh. It's a 6-week contract; I will survive. If it looks like the job can be extended for longer, I'll try to negotiate for at least half time off site. At the job site I have a 6x6 cubicle, a laptop with one 15", a truly uncomfortable chair (which I plan to rectify tomorrow), abysmally poor lighting, too much noise, and multiple distractions, including people walking by all day, cel phones ringing, voices heard down the hall... At home I have a 12' by 15' office, 4 cats, 3 17" screens, plenty of light, very little noise, and essentially no distractions. And I'm only 10 minutes away by car. But in return for all of the inconveniences and productivity reducers, they will pay me. Yech! Ptooie!.

Tomorrow is another day. Onward and upward.

New Job - First Day - posted at Tue, 04 May, 22:19 Pacific

Wednesday April 28, 2004

Job Interview

I had a job interview today. I thought it went well. I certainly hope the people on the other side of the table thought so too. I'd like to get this one; I think it could be fun. It actually sounds like a great match for my skills and interests. ...
       Continue reading "Job Interview"

Job Interview - posted at Wed, 28 Apr, 23:46 Pacific

Thursday April 22, 2004

Job Audition

I spent much of the past week auditioning for a programming job. Yes, I said auditioning.

It all started last Wednesday morning when I saw a possible job listed on Dice (an online job site). The job requirements specified Perl, JavaScript, DOM, and VoiceXML experience in a Unix environment. I'd never used VoiceXML specifically but I've used XML. I looked up the VoiceXML spec... that didn't look too hard. So I sent off an enquiry with my resume.

I got a call from the agency within 30 minutes. We talked. There was a pre-interview qualifying "test" associated with the position. That was intriguing. The quoted rate, not posted on Dice, was low (right at my (grudging) bottom limit) but I figured I'd take a look at the test before making any further decisions. ...
       Continue reading "Job Audition"

Job Audition - posted at Thu, 22 Apr, 13:23 Pacific

Saturday April 17, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 4 of 4)

I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here, continuing with part 2 and part 3. The fourth and final installment is below. ]

I headed out of the elevator, checked a sign board that said 8D was at the far end, and headed down to the courtroom. I arrived as the bailiff was saying "This doesn't look like 30 people". I said "It isn't; they're behind me; the elevators were really slow." The bailiff (a woman with long crinkly blonde hair and a Sheriff's office insignia) agreed that slow elevators were normal.

Then everyone else came in and took a seat and the courtroom clerk took roll. One woman was missing. So, the courtroom clerk called downstairs to the Jury Assembly room clerk who called over the PA system and...

Meanwhile, I sat waiting, looking around the courtroom. It was a nicely appointed courtroom with lots of wood paneling. The jury seats were grey swivel chairs, apparently well padded. The "audience/observation" area had flip-up seats like a lecture hall. It was a large room but only 3 rows of observation seats so everyone would be near any action.

The defendant(?) sat at a table with, presumably, counsel for the defense, occasionally talking in undertones. The other lawyer, a woman, sat at the other end of a long table. Both lawyers wore blue suits. The defendant wore a long-sleeved, buttoned white shirt, no tie, something unidentifiable in his shirt pocket, and a mohawk haircut. ...
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Summoned to Appear (part 4 of 4) - posted at Sat, 17 Apr, 20:51 Pacific

Friday April 16, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 3 of 4)

[ I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here, and continues with part 2. The third installment is below. ]

After the video, we were released to walk around until we might be called back. Our clerk pointed out that we should stay on the lower level. "I have a PA system. It's only on this floor. It's in the cafeteria and the bathrooms. If you leave this floor, I can't call you back. If you don't come back, it's me who's gonna get it. I mean, you too, but they'll yell at me first."

I wasn't convinced that this was an appropriate group to play on their better sense of nobility. I rather thought she'd keep people around better if she said "They will go after you and you will be fined". I mean, so some mythical person yells at the clerk? Why should a prospective juror care, especially if that gives him or her a head start? I suppose I'm getting cynical. ...
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Summoned to Appear (part 3 of 4) - posted at Fri, 16 Apr, 08:50 Pacific

Wednesday April 14, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 2 of 4)

[ I was Summoned to Appear for Jury Duty this past Monday, April 12. The story begins here and continues below. ]

I headed down the stairs and down the hall to the Jury Assembly room, joining the line of prospective jurors filling out the "Juror Affidavit" form.

The woman running the Jury Assembly orientation soon began to sound like a robot. She kept repeating over and over "Please have a seat. I need your paperwork. Please include your name, address, home telephone and work number. Please sign and date the back. Please have a seat. I need you to sign and date this. I need your paperwork or they don't know you're here. Please have a seat. Are you all parked in Jury parking? Did you put your parking pass on the dashboard of your car? I need your paperwork. Please..." Hers must be one of the most boring jobs in the world.

Every now and then something different would happen. "Sir, you forgot to sign the back". Ma'am, I need your telephone number." "Sir, you did not need to come in. Your juror number starts with a 1. Only jurors with numbers starting with 0 need to come in today. You may leave".

At 8:30, the scheduled start time, people were still dribbling in. "Please have a seat. I will start orientation in 7 minutes. I need your paperwork." ...
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Summoned to Appear (part 2 of 4) - posted at Wed, 14 Apr, 22:30 Pacific

Monday April 12, 2004

Summoned to Appear (part 1 of 4)

I was summoned for Jury Duty back in November of 2003. At the time, I received the summons, I had a contract, so I asked for an extension until April 2004 (the court allows people to ask for an extension of up to 6 months).

By the time the original date came around, my contract had ended, unexpectedly. But hey, I had the extension filed. So I just put the new date on my calendar and went on with my life. I could have moved the date up, but it isn't as if I actually want to serve on a jury.

The new date was today, April 12. I had hoped there wouldn't be many cases on Easter Monday but no such luck. When I called last night, I was told that my presence would be required. (Some prospective jurors were told their presence would not be required; I was not so lucky). ...
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Summoned to Appear (part 1 of 4) - posted at Mon, 12 Apr, 21:58 Pacific

Wednesday April 7, 2004

Re-fi

We finished a home mortgage re-finance this evening... finally. This has taken an amazingly long time, considering that we re-financed with the same lender and we were only doing this to reduce our rate, not to take out any more money! In fact, we're gong to pay two days of "lock extension" fees because the rate lock holds for 2 months and we didn't get to closing within that period! We started the process on February 4. Sheesh.

The good news is that I asked the right questions regarding the lock extension. My first question was "How much per day?" ($20). OK, that's not so bad. Then I said, half jokingly, "Of course, if the rate has gone down in the meantime, maybe we don't want to extend the lock." After the loan officer laughed I said "Do you know? What is the current rate?" She said she didn't know; the bank keeps that information confidential and only the loan sales folks know but she suggested I ask our sales rep because if the rate had dropped, I could take advantage of their "one-time rate negotiation plan". ...
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Re-fi - posted at Wed, 07 Apr, 22:33 Pacific

Tuesday March 30, 2004

I had an interview!

I had a job interview today for a position as a Strategic Online Writer/Content Manager. The position sounded very interesting... but not ideal. Not right for me, at least not as a full time employee.

The company is looking for someone to manage all of their online content, newsletters, web page wording, advertising banners, etc. That person would own the content, look it all over, get a feel for what works and what doesn't, test everything, come up with new ideas, and figure out how to generate more "qualified leads". There are a number of problems that need to be solved, and I'm good at solving problems. However, I found myself thinking of ways to write a program to do analysis of the data. That's not what they are looking for; not yet, anyway.

Also, the position is in the Internet Marketing team. I really am of a much more technical bent. I think I'd go mad trying to generate "marketing" content full-time.

Still, they have a lot of problems they need to solve and there are things I could do for them. The company is interesting and doing good for the community. If I could work part-time, in a freelance (contract) capacity, I'd say "yes" in a heartbeat. So, I'm drafting a letter to the hiring manager to thank her for meeting with me and to suggest some ways I could help out without coming on board as a full-time employee. We'll see if anything comes of that.

I had an interview! - posted at Tue, 30 Mar, 22:32 Pacific

Wednesday March 17, 2004

Channeling Harry Homeowner - Table for Six

Our dining table is revamped and can seat six comfortably; 8 or 10 if they're really god friends :-).

After we finished our kitchen / dining room re-flooring project, we decided to replace our previous dining table. The new "table" is actually composed of two, 2.5' x 4', blond wood tables. Rich had to slice a bit off the legs of one to make them the same height (in theory, they were purchased as "identical" tables, but theory and practice differ more in practice than in theory).

Because we had actually two tables and wanted them to appear to be one table, I went out and bought a vinyl tablecloth at Target. The tablecloth was meant to cover a 4 x 6 table; ours was 4 x 5. We had space... So we got to talking, and thinking... and designing.

table_1
...
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Channeling Harry Homeowner - Table for Six - posted at Wed, 17 Mar, 12:52 Pacific

Saturday February 21, 2004

Harry and Harriet do Baseboard Molding

Harry did most of the work this time.

We've almost got the kitchen and dining room project finished. There's one strip of molding under the sink (toe space) and the part behind the fridge to do yet. Actually, the part behind the fridge was done first, but we decided to change the style of molding (and go with a style that is 3/16 thicker) so "we" (i.e. Rich, channeling Harry Homeowner :-) will pull the fridge forward and replace the three strips behind it... sometime... r.s.n.... possibly tomorrow but no promises. ...
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Harry and Harriet do Baseboard Molding - posted at Sat, 21 Feb, 23:59 Pacific

Wednesday February 18, 2004

My Two Cents

Do you have opinions on today's issues? Do you write Letters to the Editor? Do you wish there were easier ways of making your voice heard? Do you wish someone would ask for your thoughts and comments on local or political issues?

Spouse and self may soon have a chance to do just that, through a program at the San Francisco Chronicle called "Two Cents".

We got involved this way... ...
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My Two Cents - posted at Wed, 18 Feb, 14:03 Pacific

Tuesday February 17, 2004

Harry and Harriet Homeowner Do Laminate Flooring!

When we bought our house, it was not a fixer-upper. There were only a few things about it we wanted to change right at the beginning (such as the one wall of really ugly wall paper in the living room that came done the very next weekend). We've made some improvements over the years, but nothing major was required at the outset. AUT_2363

However, when we moved in, the kitchen and dining area were covered with cheap (thin, fuzzy, foam-backed, no pile) industrial carpeting. Now, carpet in a kitchen isn't a very good idea. First we had one major spill - chicken broth :-( - and then we discovered that the ice maker in the fridge was leaking. So up came the carpet in that area and down went "temporary" vinyl tile squares.

Over more time, the carpet and its foam backing material parted company, so the carpet in the dining area kept suffering "slippage". Chair legs would push it and tear a hole. Eventually, about 4 years ago, we tore out most of the carpet (except for under one or two heavy pieces of furniture) and scraped up the foam backing which was stuck to the linoleum flooring underneath. It was a nasty job but eventually accomplished. Then we lived with an ugly but very serviceable linoleum floor (ugly because it was still coated with a very thin layer of glue and grey foam dust).

Finally, this year, Rich has a good contract and we decided to re-floor the kitchen and dining room area. We chose Armstrong wood look laminate, in snap-lock boards.

This being a three-day weekend (what with President's Day on Monday) we decided to embark upon the kitchen/dining room reflooring project Saturday through Monday. ...
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Harry and Harriet Homeowner Do Laminate Flooring! - posted at Tue, 17 Feb, 23:22 Pacific

Wednesday February 4, 2004

Yogurt Making 101

girmiyoI bought a yogurt maker the other day. It looks easy enough to use. The maker comes with 7 too-cute little pear-shaped glass jars with plastic lids for storing in the fridge.

The instructions couldn't be much simpler. Start with 5 TBsp of natural unflavored yogurt (I bought Brown Cow whole-milk yogurt, not bad for plain yogurt) and 1 qt. of milk. Mix together, beat out the lumps, divide among the jars, set them in the machine, cover and plug it in. Come back in 6 to 10 hours. Then unplug, cover the jars and refrigerate for at last an hour.

I started the batch at 8:30 this morning so..... about 6:30 tonight we'll see what's what. ...
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Yogurt Making 101 - posted at Wed, 04 Feb, 09:16 Pacific

Monday February 2, 2004

180 Degrees of Separation

There's an interesting meme making the rounds. It (usually) has 100 questions (although I found a spur with 50). It starts with a list of statements about the person whose blog it's on. The rules are:
  1. Copy the whole list into your journal/diary/blog.
  2. Bold only the things that you have in common with the original poster.
  3. Whatever you didn't bold, replace with things about you.
It's an interesting meme in that it can morph at an incredibly rapid rate. I tried to track it to its source; it was easier to find the source of the Nile! I think the meme must have started spontaneously from a few people who created "100 Things About me" lists... and other people used those as starter sets, creating a meme. ...
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180 Degrees of Separation - posted at Mon, 02 Feb, 17:03 Pacific

Monday December 1, 2003

Are you qualified to be a "professional"?

Now, perhaps these would make good interview questions ;-)

The following short quiz will tell you whether you are qualified to be a "professional."

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. But many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old.

...
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Are you qualified to be a "professional"? - posted at Mon, 01 Dec, 11:28 Pacific

Wednesday June 25, 2003

3 long days under WWDC

I spent Monday - Wednesday (9am - 6pm) manning a small MacTech booth in the Exhibits Hall for WWDC (Apple's annual World Wide Developers Conference). The conference was well attended - 3800 people. The Exhibit Hall had some 70 exhibitors - and essentially no "customers".

Part of the problem was the location. In the past, WWDC has always been in the San Jose Convention Center. Exhibits, break areas, sessions, lunch, have always been on the same level of the building. But this year, WWDC was moved from May to June and from San Jose to San Francisco, to the new Moscone West convention center building. The exhibits (and lunch) were on the first floor. Sessions and break areas were on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Except for lunch (2 hours each day) there are no scheduled breaks at WWDC. So, people either hurry from session to session, or spend short breaks talking to friends, checking email, grabbing a snack - this year, all on the 2nd and 3rd floors. One (or two) levels above the Exhibit Hall. ...
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3 long days under WWDC - posted at Wed, 25 Jun, 22:28 Pacific