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I Hate Linux

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

More Cell Phone Woes

Since I first signed up with Verizon Wireless early in the summer of 2002, I have activated and used 9 phones... with only 1 reaching its retirement age and being replaced normally. After taking in #8 on Monday to be replaced, I decided it was time to write up my phone history and what lead to their being returned and replaced.

#1 - Samsung SCH-t300

Eventually forgot phone pin that is required for unlocking phone (if locked) or accessing advanced menu features.

#2 - Samsung SCH-t300

Same flaw as #1, re-discovered one night when having dinner with friends and showing that my new phone didn't have the same problem as the old.

#3 - Motorola Timport 270c

This workhorse lasted me for more than 2 years with few issues and was eventually replaced (after the antenna broke and I was nearing the need to replace the battery... for the second time).

#4 - LG vx4500

Right from the start... this phone didn't seem right, and after getting it in store on a Friday, I had switched back to my 270c on Saturday when I was unable to make or receive clear calls despite having a reasonably strong signal.

#5 - Motorola v710

After the continued problems with my 270c, I decided to try again with the brand spanking new Motorola v710 which was replaced by a 2nd v710 due to some oddities in the way the first one performed.

#6 - Motorola v710

Lasting not even a year... #6 began to have horrible static issues, the likes of which were like trying to have a cell phone conversation in a wind tunnel... that much noise was heard by anyone trying to talk to me. Unfortunately, when I went in for a replacement (still under warranty) I was told that they had changed the firmware and that the built in transflash slot would no longer function the way my first one had... a prime reason for my purchasing it.

Long story short... they sent me a new one in the hopes it had the old firmware...

#6.5 - Motorola v710

It didn't

#7 - Samsung SCH-i600

Coming to an arrangement with Verizon based on my demands (being able to freely transfer files between my pc and phone without having to send them over their network as well as a speakerphone, I opted to try the Samsung SCH-i600 Smartphone, the lowest model carried by Verizon that still had this capability (previously it was the v710, until the before mentioned firmware change). As cool as a phone as it was... it too suffered from a critical flaw... rather than locking on to the nearest and strongest signal when in use... it was insisting on using a tower that I was told I was on the absolute outside boundary of... and the fact I could receive any signal indoors from it was amazing. So back too it went.

#8 - Motorola E815

Pretty much giving up on some of my required features this time around, I decided to go for the new Motorola E815 which was an all digital replacement for the v710 that added a few features... and with a couple of firmware hacks, I was up and running with my ability to freely copy files... until one day after a long weekend of deer hunting... a friend found that my End key was no longer working... eventually, I was able to get the phone turned off... only to be greeted by a "BOOTLOADER USB INIT" message when starting up... something that could not be bypassed. So off to the store I went to get it replaced under warranty.

#9 - Motorola E815

Just a few days after getting the replacement phone... you think all would be well... well you'd be wrong! While at the Verizon store on Monday a blizzard began and I called work to tell them I was going to be heading home so as not to have to deal with the worse weather that was to follow (or the interstate closures that happened 2 hours later). While doing so... I discovered that one of the volume control buttons on this new phone... was kind of stuck... to the point that extreme pressure was required to turn down the volume on the ringer... not good.

After I get the Aztek out of the shop today to repair the exhaust damage I did over the weekend (I accidentally backed into a curb), I'm going to run by Verizon again and get #9 replaced with one that has non stuck buttons.

One of these days... I should sit down and write a more detailed review on each of these phones... and mail them off to the major manufacturers and offer my time to test their phones and I seem to have a good knack for having issues develop.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bad luck with the burglars

I just got off the phone with my mom, talking about my deer hunting trip of the weekend and she told me some rather disturbing news... last week, her house was broken into.

Aside from the general ‘that sucks’ thought of such news... it occurred to me... my family seems to have bad luck with burglars.

~4 years ago, on Thanksgiving morning my brother went out to my old Plymouth Voyager to discover the deck and a CD wallet full of CD’s missing. We later learned that several other cars that night were broken into had various valuables stolen.

A year and a half ago... I had my place broken into and found ~$50 in loose changed stolen. Thankfully, due to my paranoia, the burglar in question was caught on camera and is now spending some quality time in prison. The best part? She lived not 50 feet from me and was known by me and the police.

2 weeks ago, my brothers vehicle was broken into and the face plate of the deck was taken (due to their inability to remove the main deck).

And last Tuesday, someone broke into my mothers house via a basement window and ruffled through the kitchen, her room and that of my brothers. When it was all said and done, 2 digital cameras, several cash stashes and a number of his Columbia jackets and a watch. No doubt more will be discovered missing, thankfully the person who broke in wasn’t the smartest... he (I presume) cut themselves when breaking in initially and left some blood behind there... as well as a bra of my mom’s that was in one of the many drawers he went through and on a shirt of my brothers.

Hot damn none the less. Me thinks I may need to setup some sort of security rig for my mom one of these days. While it’s unlikely that someone will break into her house again... given the new found history... it may just be needed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Xbox 360 Launch

Like many I expect... yesterday was just another day. After leaving my house, I picked up a couple of interns who live in town... drove to the I-29/HW 34 exit to pick up another co-worker, and headed to Sioux Falls for a day of work.

Unlike a crazy few... I was not outside of my local Best Buy, Walmart, Sams Club or other retailer, desperate to get my hands on the latest and greatest game console... the Xbox 360.

Of course... if the madness at the stores wasn’t enough, what’s been happening on eBay is just as insane. Units going for well over twice their purchase price... or more. One auction I watched until the end was this one... for a premium system with free overnight shipping that ended at $3,050, one by a seemingly legitimate buyer... who sells land on eBay.

Seeing the prices on eBay, I couldn’t help but think back to the PS2 and original Xbox launches... PS2’s selling for in excess of $1000, and even the most memorable case... of eBay auction #1204183251 that was titled: "Playstation 2 Original Box And Receipt."... which was exactly what it was, an empty PS2 box and a receipt... which someone paid $425 for. You can even still the feedback of the seller here.

Wanting to avoid such outrageous prices and bad press, Microsoft had announced that there would be a sufficient stock of Xbox’s on launch day to help prevent such prices later... and not long later, a look to eBay confirmed this... prices for new Xbox’s were no where near the levels that a PS2 cost just months before.

It is kind of a shame that Microsoft didn’t repeat this strategy, and have sufficient stock before launching... oh well.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Best Buy 'Service'

I just got off the phone with Best Buy with a ‘tech’ for the third time since Friday (not including one store visit).

As previously written, I dropped off my iPod at my local Best Buy for service two weeks ago and was told I’d have it back in about a week... so I wanted. Last Friday (11/18) I gave them a ring inquiring about its status and was told that it was fixed but had not shipped yet. Angered, I asked when it would be shipping and when I would be receiving it... not knowing, the tech promised to find out and call me back... which never happened.

Sunday while in Sioux Falls I stopped by the store to inquire in person... and after explaining my case they promised to call the service center and find out why it still had not shipped and when I would be receiving it.

After 20 min of wondering the store, I came back to the service desk and was told they couldn’t get anyone on the phone there... despite their claims that they have people there 7 days a week... they too promised to investigate and get back to me.

Fast forward to today, I called again in the morning, and after 10 min on hold, got hung-up on... calling back, I was immediately hung up on again... third time seemed to be the charm... only 2 minutes on hold... and still no new info, nor any indication it seemed that my issues was being investigated... however was assured that their key person who deals with the service center would call me back... today.

Come 4 in the afternoon, an hour from regular business hours of the world ending (as well as those for many management type persons at such places I would expect), I rang them again... and I was told that on ‘the list’ of issues that needed to be looked at and that I’d be called back soon.

20 minutes later, a gentleman by the name of Steve called, informing me that the reason my iPod had not shipped yet was that ‘shipping is backed up’ at the service center and that he and they do did not know when it would be shipping or when it would be arriving.

Once again I reiterated my primary concern, that I required it back no later than Wednesday evening and if I did not have it then, that I would be forced to come into the store and receive store credit so that it could be immediately replaced.

This Thursday, I’ll be driving up to Day County for some Thanksgiving eatings and some deer huntings with my buddy Chad... and I’ll be damned if I’m going to drive that kind of distance (~2.5 hours) without some of my tunes on an iPod of mine... regardless of if it is my old 3rd generation 15 giger, or a 5th generation 60 gig video (same purchase prices).

Treatment like this is something I’ve come to expect over the years from Best Buy... and from the looks of it I’ll be spending far less money with them in the years to come unless this is resolved quickly to my satisfaction, not too much to ask when I was told ‘about a week’ and it will be well over 2, probably closer to 3 before my iPod reaches more door… all the while, I could hop in the car and probably pick it up myself at their Minneapolis (area) service center... but then, I don’t have 10 hours I can blow for that drive (round trip), or the $50 in gas that it would cost me.

Friday, November 18, 2005

All work and no iPod makes Brendan a dull boy...

I just got off the phone with the local Best Buy inquiring about the status of the warranty work being done on my iPod that I dropped off with them mid last week and was told I should have it back in ‘about a week’.

It seems that all work is complete... they just haven’t bothered to ship it yet... which seemed to surprise the tech I was talking to who made it sound like it had been fixed for some time already.

I know this... hour commutes without my iPod suck a bunch... so here’s hoping they get it back to me before next Wednesday and the holiday that follows so that I am able to use it when driving up to Day County with my buddy Chad for some deer hunting that weekend.

Worth noting is what was wrong... apparently the hard drive gave out so they replaced it... which is definitely interesting given it’s age of only 18 months and the fact that the battery still works fine (more or less)... I guess I know then what the next item of failure will be.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fedex - Delivering the Obvious

I’ve noticed a strange pattern lately with regards to Fedex packages that I’ve received... it seems, that the delivery driver to my home is not particularly bright.

How many times has this happened to you... you arrive home and find a note from a delivery person, saying they tried to deliver a package but you weren’t around... so they will be back the next day, or left it with a neighbor, or put it by your side door out of the way? All perfectly normal and reasonable things right?

The last half a dozen packages I’ve received via Fedex have been left at my front door... with a note on the door saying they’ve left it... at my front door.

Maybe I’m just dumb... but I see absolutely no point to this. If the package walks off, chances are they are going to take the note too to try to cover their tracks a bit better (until I look up the tracking info), and it is pretty hard to miss a cardboard box at the foot of my front door.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Movie Review: Doom

In a word: Sucked

In two words: Good God!

In three words: Waste of money

In four words: Complete waste of time.

In five words: Worse than Dukes of Hazard!

Maybe I'm just getting old... but I am getting sick to death of movies with overly elaborate fight sequences, especially those where those involved in the fight are some sort of super men and can shake off almost any blow.

Also, maybe I'm a bit of a purest, movies that are made from other sources to have some basis in their original source. With the exception of a few of the monsters looking like those out of the game, and it happening on Mars, and a gun called the BFG, the game and movie had nothing in common... except of course for the name Carmack, in the movie, he was a Doctor who was indirectly responsible for what had happened, in the real world, he is the head programmer at id Software who made the Doom games.

Even the much touted, first person view that we saw near the end was a joke. Speaking of the end... how can you have Doom without a deathmatch? And no, a deathmatch does not include two people dropping their weapons and fighting hand to hand!

Stupid, stupid movie. Having been a fan of id Software for many years, the fact that they would ok a project like this makes me reconsider many things... of course, that happened too when I had to fight with the copy protection on Doom 3 in order to play my legit copy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Arrested Development: Canceled!

After a couple of great episodes this week, I was horrified to get an IM from a friend saying that Arrested Development has been canceled, and some searching, it seems confirmed. Arrested Development has been canceled and its third season cut back to 13 episodes. Hey Fox: You're drunk!

For such a critically acclaimed and Emmy award winning (6 at last count) show to get the axe, I see only one cause... the refusal of Fox to spend any time or money on advertising. It amazes me frankly, that when little I do watch Fox, I see the same ads for the same reality tv shows over and over and over and over and over again... and best case there might be an Arrested Development promo when they are coming back from a season break or a baseball induced break (stupid World Series). Come On!

I'm proud to say I was a fan from day one and early on tried to introduce friends to the show, however that didn't take off until Season 1 came out on DVD and I began loaning them around... and because of it, I've achieved 4 degrees of Brendan Grant. Hopefully there can be more one day... but with this cancellation news that is unlikely.

I loaned my set to Bobby who fell in love and burned a copy for himself and that later ended up in the hands of Phil who in turn hooked Jung and Miles. Later, Miles even got his dad watching.

Quite a shame really as with the loss of Arrested Development, I have no reason to watch Fox anymore.

On a lighter note, over the last week I spent some time re-watching all of Season 1 and Season 2 so as to catch some of the foreshadowing (H. MADDAS, “I never thought I would miss a hand so much”, etc) and remembered a number of repeating lines, in no particular order they are:

  • I'm a monster! <scream> <goes on rampage>

  • I've made a huge mistake

  • You're drunk

  • Come On!

  • "WHACK!" (from third cop using club)

  • No Touching!

  • Who? (response to 'my girlfriend Ann')

  • <Various incarnations of the chicken dance>

  • Say good bye to these! <raising shirt>

If you will excuse me though, I feel the need to go and write a strongly worded letter. Head on over to Save Our Bluths to learn how you too can do the same.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I was wrong...

He wasn’t banned. How do I know this? He has hijacked another thread with his irrational and incorrect take on the US vs Microsoft anti-trust case and it’s settlement, even sending an e-mail to the DOJ, complaining about Microsoft’s attempt to win a contract with the city of Munich.

Of course... it didn’t start that way, someone asked the question of if including Windows Defender with Windows Vista could be considered an anti-trust violation.

You should get it in about a week

As a birthday present to myself during the summer of 03 (also back when I was just an Intern with more money than sense and few bills (ie no car payment, no student loan payments, etc) I bought myself an iPod.

Over the last two and a half years, it has served me well, unfortunately, it looks like it’s time to take it back to Best Buy and exchange it under warranty for a new one... unfortunately they were not as eager to replace it today as I had hoped.

The problems began last week when before lunch I copied a few tracks to it and noticed that after leaving my PC, they did not show up in the playlist, and after reconnecting to the PC, the tracks were displayed, but unplayable.

Long story short, I updated the firmware and restored defaults on the unit and things seemed to be fine... until yesterday evening when on the way home from work, while listening to an audio book, it seemed to stall when trying to play a half a dozen specific tracks.

Fast forward to today, I went into my local Best Buy and was ‘helped’ by a seemingly less than skilled tech who attempted to run some diagnostics on the unit, despite it being quite clear that they would fail to even start.

I had hoped and expected to receive a replacement today... unfortunately that was not to be. Instead, it is going to be mailed off for service and I should have it back (fixed they say) in about a week.

Curses! I had my heart set on a 60 gig video!

Is Beer28 gone at last?

Over on the Channel 9 forum known as The Coffeehouse, there is a person known as Beer28 who is the resident Linux zealot and shame of the community and yesterday I had the pleasure of watching a small battle between him and the rest of the civilized world, including a forum admin and as a result... I think we are rid of him at last!

This individual has unfortunately been a major annoyance to many for a great deal of time... a little later I’ll post a couple of notable incidents.

In a thread about the ongoing riots in France, he bragged about how happy he was about the low cost of airfare saying in part:

I wish rioters could burn every city down this year, we'd turn into vagabond globetrotters.

You might imagine that people weren’t very happy to hear such endorsements of violence, they weren't and told him so. Later claiming he was kidding, the admin came in and deleted the content of one of his earlier posts and warned Beer28 in part that:

Beer: if you're going to repeat this behavior, expect to get more posts deleted whenever you say you were "just kidding".

Less than a minute later, Beer28 replied with:

I don't equate terrorism with civilian riots and protests or whatever, and frankly no matter how bad it gets in paris, I feel good about going at that price.

If only there could be some riots in Tokyo next year around this time in offseason. I want to see that little electronics village, where you can get all sorts of gadgets before they hit the market.

Moments later seeing the post from the admin, he changed the second paragraph to simply:

Fine then.

And not long after to:

Fine then. And please continue to abuse your mod powers.

The reason I saw all of this was I was working on a reply to one of Beer28’s earlier posts, and was refreshing from time to time to see if there was any new activity.

If the above wasn’t wonderful enough, at one point, the admin locked the thread (thankfully) and around the same time, Beer28 changed his final post to be:

you're a backwards british retard. and you don't know squat about code. Seriously.

As far as I’ve seen, he has not posted to the Channel 9 forums since, so perhaps at last we are free of this individual.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

NationMaster mistakes lawyers for an olive branch

Remember the good old days, when men resolved their problems like men, discussing their issues amicably face to face, complaining 'til they are blue in the mouth, or a good old fashion dual involving swords, pistols, or armies?

Back in April I wrote a bit about some problems a friend (tdaxp) was having with Nationmaster. In short, he signed up for their services, later canceled his account, and they continued to bill him, claiming that he signed up for 3 months and that he was obligated to pay for them all (of course if that was the case, why didn't they just bill him for all 3 right up front?). After trying to find some resolution with them, he gave up and let things drop... only to have them to take up an offensive, more than 6 months later.

As discussed extensively elsewhere: Recently, he received a rather unfriendly e-mail from John Steinmetz, Content Manager for , offering to refund his money in full... provided he removed his 'defamatory' blog entry about his dissatisfaction with . A reasonable request some would say... except for two major issues.

First, the blog entry in question was not defamatory, it simply stated one individual's experiences with them. And secondly... he threatened the potential of legal action in the form of:

If you choose to leave this url up, we will consider legal action.

I for one fear a world where men the likes of John Steinmetz hold any real authority, because in such a world, manufacturers (or individuals) would be likely to threaten review sites, or any other web site online for any unfavorable content they may have, regardless of it's accuracy. Oh wait... that is the world we live in today... Thanks John!

Of course, to add insult to injury, after tdaxp agreed to edit the entry in question, he did not receive his refund, instead, Mr. Steinmetz found two additional posts and asked them to be removed as well.

You may be asking, what horrible things are being said that Mr. Steinmetz feels the need to try to bribe tdaxp into compliance, and later reneges on his pledge? The worst kind of course... the truth!

It would be one thing if tdaxp had said something to the effect of:

John Steinmetz of NationMaster can only get off by strangling small furry animals and drinking their blood

Instead, he said factual things such as:

Nation Master will bill you even after you cancel.

nationmaster.com is not worth the three quarterly payments I made, the two after I stopped using or, or the one after I first demanded a refund.

Oh yes, quite derogatory and defamatory indeed! On second thought... I think that Mr. Steinmetz does need to unleash his lawyers and attempt to sue the hell out tdaxp! Heck, if they want, I'd be more than happy to give them his dorm address so that they could more easily serve him.

It has been my experience that a good portion of legal battles involve not direct confrontation and argument in the court room, but instead posturing and maneuvers to try to put themselves in a better position from the outset (or at least what looks like one). This makes sense though, after all, everyone wants to be in a good position to win, the problem is when you don't quite know what you are getting into.

I guess I kinda view it a little like having Uday Hussein a few years ago call Jenna Bush fat... and being completely oblivious of the kind of hell that might just created if their target's parents decide to become involved.

Both of tdaxp's parents are lawyers, and a couple of the most level headed people I have ever met. I have little doubt that if Mr. Steinmetz were to let his layers off of the leash and actually fire a legal volley (rather than making cowardly threats via e-mail), tdaxp's parents would become involved.

It must be nice to have a couple of lawyers so close who would not bill their client and are not public attorneys.

Finally, with all of the statistics they have, I wonder if Nationmaster has any data on the rate of success of anonymously threatening suit against people online in this manor. Somehow, I do not find it likely to succeed.


I am proud to announce that Friday morning I successfully passed Microsoft exam 70-320 (aka Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework), being the last test required for me to achieve the status of MCAD, or Microsoft Certified Application Developer, and this morning the DB over at Microsoft updated to reflect this test and my new certification level. Woot!

I must say, I do love the fact that my employer reimburses me for these kinds of tests, provided I pass and get it OKed ahead of time.

Next stop... 70-340, (aka Implementing Security for Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET) and an MCSD not long later.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

My Channel 9 Costume

Over on Channel 9, a month ago someone threw out the idea of a Channel 9 Guy costume contest and quickly there was support from some of those in charge on Channel 9. Things were shaping up to have a copy of Visual Studio 2005 and Windows Server 2003 be top prize.

A few others chimed in saying they would be participating as well... so I knew it was on and I had to do my best in order to win.

After putting things off for a couple of weeks, last Sunday (10/23/05) I got to work on the body of the costume with the help of a friends sewing machine and some sewing skills I picked up from my mother years ago.

On the following Thursday I had finished the body, and began work on the head... which occupied most of my free time until Saturday night around 9:30 pm, ready for a beer and to get pictures of me, in public in my costume that measured 35 inches wide and 22 inches deep).

While there I snapped a few and had an idea... something similar to one of the famous GooglePark or C9Park sketches... I created: 'A Channel 9 Halloween Costume Contest Story or How my mother must be so proud of her offspring's sewing skills'.

This morning though I discovered that it has been picked up by Microsoft's very own Blogger in Chief Robert Scoble mentioned it this morning on his blog. I am forced to wonder though... why is it tagged under 'human interest'?

I've since submitted this concoction of mine to Engadget for the Engadget Halloween Costume Contest.