.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

I Hate Linux

Monday, January 31, 2005

Ma-Na Ma-Na

Do-do do-do-do

There are songs out there that mean a great deal to me, this evening, I heard one of the most obscure ones on my list in commercial during 24.

The commercial, was one for some kind of diet dr pepper and involved a couple on a date, the guy talking about how he works at a children’s hospital and even if he won the lottery he wouldn’t quit... while his date enjoyed her freshly poured diet dr pepper as we hear the main vocals of "Ma-Na Ma-Na" from the guy when ever he opens his mouth with the rest of the restaurant patrons providing the accompanying vocals (if you can call any of "Ma-Na Ma-Na" vocal).

Wow. I’m still in shock.

I had that song in my head for years before I found a copy, and have since addicted a few to it.

If you want a truly addictive song... try Lux Aeterna from the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, I’m up to 3 people I’ve hooked within the last week.

UPDATE: 4/11/2005.

Some have asked where a copy of Ma na ma na can be had, and wanted to stay legit, the best place I've found for it is an old Muppet Show CD... namely The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem and More - 25th Anniversary.

What’s Not in My Wallet?

Bulk e-mail marketing (aka spam) is one of those things I have a hard time understanding. Yes, the numbers are easy, one sends out millions of nearly free messages to addresses they have on file in the hopes that a miniscule fraction of them will buy some Viagra, sign up for their porn site or take out a mortgage through the bank they referred. That part is easy, what I don’t understand is how anyone would willingly buy from such a marketing campaign.

I’m a guy. When I want to buy something, I know it and know where to get it. Before going to the store to buy a foo I will have researched the heck out of it and know it better than the salesman. To me, spam is completely worthless. I have no need for a larger male piece, porn or a mortgage and should I want/need something advertised in spam, I will find it on my own, without constant bombardment.

Since I moved out of the dorms a year and a half ago, the volume of credit card offers I have been receiving has been surprisingly high, averaging 2 offers a week... often from the same small list of companies (CapitalOne and Providian most of all).

Not long ago, I had a CapitalOne card. I had received it not long after turning 18 and in the years after, my interest rate only went up and they refused on multiple occasions to raise the limit (from $200 or cut the rates). After many years, they finally upped the limit (to $600 from $200 (impressive I know)), but refused to cut the rates from the 24.9% I was at.

I had enough, and having plenty of plastic room from more reputable and customer friendly credit card company, I canceled the account. Funny thing, was that just prior to my decision to cancel, I had received my replacement card for the one that was about to expire.

I opted to go a slightly different way for my cancellation, I cut both cards in half, and put half of each into two envelops. The first was to their normal customer service and cancellation department and the second was to the CEO. Both laid out why I was canceling my account and expressed my anger with the way I had been treated by them over the years.

No, I did not expect to receive any kind of response or have my letters impact them in anyway. I am a firm believer in telling those who you refuse to do business with (at all or anymore) why you do so, offering them the chance to change, no matter how unlikely it may be.

I find it rather sad, and entertaining that every week or two, I get a new credit card offer from CapitalOne. One would think that they would have the ability to link their systems and be able not mail those who currently have accounts with them... or vowed never to again. Of course... they do not have such a system, and I receive plenty of offers from them.

No doubt, this method of marketing, like spam on the internet is effective enough to warrant the bother and cost from the prospective of the seller/marketer, but that doesn’t mean I find it particularly flattering or.

I do make it a point to mail back all credit card offers I receive, yes, I could throw them out, but I figure I’ll make their ineffective marketing campaign (IMO) cost them a few cents more.

When it comes to credit offerings, or anything to do with banking and investments my motto is simple (albeit long), “Don’t call, write, e-mail, contact, think about, beg, offer, ask, or solicit, me. If I want to do business with you, I’ll tell you so, just have the information available to me on your site, something I will find on my own.”

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Battlestar Galactica: Woot! and WTF?

I recently got done watching the last episode of the first season of the new Battlestar Galactica series that is only now airing on SciFi here in the states. Having a friend overseas who recorded the show and sent it to me was quite useful for this.

I am now... rather miffed.

Personally, I hate cliffhangers. I hate them hate them hate them. In some cases, you’ll have a “Oh no, there’s only 2 minutes left, how will they ever get Timmy out of the well”... and it’s pretty obvious how things will turn out... but when they end an episode or season the way they did with BSG... it’s maddening.

For those who haven’t seen the episode yet... I will now ruin it for you.

Key points include:
  • The President is really the Borg Queen and sets out to assimilate the Galactica.
  • Dr. Baltar, realizing that he is Godspoken sets out to trace every wood grain on the Galactica (ala Han Qing-jao).
  • The BSG crew realized that they’ve been wearing their undershirts backwards.Adama, at the suggestion of Dr Baltar offers rishathra to the Cylons in the hopes of brokering peace.
  • Six discovers that the reason she has been hearing the voice of god is because she has been unable to take her medication since losing her body.
  • And the biggest surprise of all : BSG is the latest SciFi show to guest star Claudia Black appear. Shame they canceled Farscape.
Please Note: The above points were not intended to be humorous. Any similarity between them and humor is purely coincidental and entirely accidental.

On a related note... I do find the SciFi channels decision to delay airing of BSG in the US so far behind SkyOne overseas rather odd. Because of my access to a person who recorded the show for me... I have no need to watch it on SciFi and I doubt I am the only one. I have little doubt that plenty of other people in the UK (or even just one) recorded, encoded and shared copies of the UK airing with plenty of people around the world... including a good many here in the US with access to SciFi

I want to make it clear, I am not advocating the illicit downloading and viewing of TV shows so as to be able to view them before they air in ones local area... but knowing that plenty of people do so... I think it would be in a networks best interest to air a program as quickly as possible giving the P2P as little time as possible to distribute illicit copies, there by making the viewing of the show at its regular time more attractive... despite the commercials and incessant ads for upcoming shows (one of the biggest reasons I avoid SciFi whenever I can (that and their line of quality programming is always lacking IMO)).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Cobuyitaphobia

Like many geeks, I love Dilbert. The comics, the posters, and most of all... the sadly underappreciated TV show. One of my favorite parts of the morning, is finding the latest comic waiting for me in my inbox... but I would gladly give up such brief pleasures if I could once again enjoy 20 min of Dilbert on television each week. Oh well. Lucky for me, it is in DVD form and I have had a copy since the week it came out.

Not too long ago, a co-worker learned of the series and I loaned him my set... this roughly coincided with the word ‘synergy’ becoming a bit of a catch phrase within my department. Not in a “we need to increase our synergy” way, nor even a “we have great synergy” way, but instead an unfortunate and sarcastic mocking one of the views of a few within the department.

Where is this all leading? Cobuyitaphobia of course! ‘The Fear of Synergy’, at least according to the Dilbert ‘Merger’ episode. In it, every time someone would say the word ‘synergy’, Alice would run from the room screaming due to this condition.

The co-worker who I loaned the DVD’s to made a quick copy of the Merger episode and has been passing it around the department, hooking many on the series, as well as possibly finding a word for what they think they’ve been suffering from, cobuyitaphobia.

At this rate, I’m forced to wonder how soon until cobuyitaphobia appears in the DSM (aka Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and what it's presense within the vocabulary of the rest of the department will do as I am starting to suspect that a number of coworkers also suffer from cobuyitaphobia.

*Note, at the time of this writing, a Google search for cobuyitaphobia returns no results, and thus I suspect that it is not a genuine word, but still a potentially useful one. It is quite possible though, that my spelling is off and Googles suggestion of coitophobia is correct... but only so long as synergy is another word for sex.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What’s Wrong With It?™

I drive a 2002 Pontiac Aztek and due to the power of mass production, there are thousands and thousands of Aztek’s on the road just like mine. Some may have OnStar, others with more advanced sound systems or leather seats. No matter their differences they still come from the same basic shape and design.

Should my Aztek blow up one day (due in large part to the 30k miles a year I put on it (granted, I’ve only had it for a year, but should that trend continue it will die a horrible death)), it would be pretty easy for me to go down to the lot and find a new one. Once I’ve identified a number of potential replacements, I can then get nit-picky on mileage, appearance, etc, because the fundamental basis of them all is the same.

When looking at real estate listings, you rarely have this simplicity. You rely on ads that tell only the most basic of facts, and to get anymore in depth you need to call the agent involved or see the house it’s self.

That brings me to my game show idea, its called: “What’s Wrong With It?™”

The premise is simple, you subject potential home buyers to listings from the internet, news papers and MLS listings and have them try to guess what is wrong with the property in question.

This weeks property, a nice little place in Tea, SD, currently listed at $79,900. I ran across this one a couple weeks ago and wondered; “it has about 2000 square feet of floor space… and is under 80k? What’s wrong with it?™” So, I called the agent on it.

I learned that it is former military housing and was moved to its present location in 1975 from a local Air Force base along with 5 other houses which are also still in the area.

Interestingly, at least in South Dakota (I cannot speak for other locations) if you move a house to a new foundation, you are able to list its year of construction as the year it was moved, which is why this obviously much older home is listed as being constructed in 1975.

One of the recent former owners did completely redo the kitchen and install new windows throughout the house, it has a lot to offer, but does need some work too. Lacking a paved driveway, a garage and sheetrock inside (still has plenty of wood paneling), it is a great fix-me-up and no doubt for the handy inclined with some time and money to burn, would be a great way to increase equity.

Unfortunately, I have neither the time, money, nor skill for sheetrock, painting or other key parts of home improvement.

In my searching I’ve noticed a few other properties that scream “What’s wrong with it?™”, and will try to post on some of them another day.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The joys of real estate

Recently I got it into my head that I should quit renting and buy a place of my own and one much closer to work (I commute ~45 min each way). By doing so, the ~$250 I spend a month on gas would drop like a rock and would be able to be applied to something more useful... like a mortgage.

In the looking I have done, I have learned a number of interesting things about the industry and how it all works... which is quite foreign to me. I am a very consumer orientated person, which at times is difficult because the company I work for does not sell to consumers.

I like the fact that if I get it into my head that I want to buy a Foo, I can probably find plenty of different versions of it. And once I once I find the type I want, it’s pretty easy to jump onto Amazon or any number of other online web stores to buy one. Heck, one can even go down to the local Best Buy, Wal-Mart or other store and pick one up as well. Foo’s are everywhere! Should I decide not to buy a Foo this month, and wait a couple of months to when I can better afford one... chances are, they will still be available en mass on store shelves.

A Foo is a Foo, whether it be a CPU, a video card, a book or a car, you can find what you want almost anywhere and at any time.

What does this have to do with houses? Nothing! And that is the point.

Take a two bedroom place, better yet, take 50, compare them, what do they all have in common? They’ve all got 2 bedrooms and that’s about it. Even when the specs on a piece of paper show a couple of places to be very similar, if not identical... nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s rather interesting finding things that meet ones high level requirements, but fail for miniscule things later that are quite hard to see from a distance.

Thankfully in this hunting, I have an ace up my sleeve. Both of my parents sold real estate for many years, and despite not dealing in residential (or real estate at all) for more than 20 years, they still know their stuff... a fact I tend not to share with the agents I talk to currently. Should I be serious about a property... they’ll know it... and find out about the parents.

All of this has given me a new idea for a game show, a concept so brilliant and useful to society, it amazes me it hasn’t been done before. I will write it up a little later.