Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Cabo Prologue

image I got back from Cabo a day late because they cancelled my flight.  Something about severe weather in the DFW area on Monday (the 25th). 

I have tons of pictures, but none of them uploaded.  It was a much crazier trip than I anticipated.  I intend to try my hand at telling the whole story in a practice event for my eventual autobiography.The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far.  I figure if he can do it so can I.  You can actually click on the picture (of Ben) and support my blogging.  Okay, not really.  It links to where you can buy it on Amazon and supposedly I get “kick backs”, but it’s a free book anyway so I’m just messing.  It is fun to read though.  I just finished a chapter where he’s talking about printing extra paper currency to help the economy.

If you happen to have Type 1 Diabetes and you are wearing an insulin pump, let me tell you to make sure you know what your settings are and when you travel, take a backup pump, syringes and long lasting insulin.  This is also known, by those in the profession, as a “back up plan”.  Cabo was my first trip since I started wearing my pump 4 years ago without a backup plan.  Murphy loves me.

If you leave the country, make sure the airline you are flying with knows how to get in touch with you and make sure it’s readily available.  American Airlines tried to call me Monday morning, but they called on my mobile phone.  It costs $1/minute to answer so I didn’t.  3 hours later standing at the airport discovering all flights had been cancelled was making that $1 the worst $1 I ever saved.  It did say unknown caller though.

Mostly I hung out with Canadians while I was there.  I tried to tell them about my imageblog, but I doubt they’ll remember.  Therefore, I can be brutally honest in my telling.  Syndrome will be most pleased I’m sure.  Those Canadians are funny people.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tomorrow I Fly

I normally try to avoid posting day to day activities.  They bore me.  However, in my attempt to put something on this blasted thing at least once a week, I'm going to break a rule.  I choose to break rule number one instead of rule number two.  I will leave it to the logical gluttons to determine which rule is which.

Tomorrow (Thursday), I'll be flying to Los Cabos or Cabo or Cabo San Lucas.  I'm not sure which is the most recognized or correct name.  I've always just called it Cabo, but that doesn't work when planning a vacation or trying to find it on Google maps.  I suspect it's something about a region and parts of a region, but alas, I am too lazy to figure it all out.

You can go watch some live webcams here.  Starting tomorrow afternoon you can keep a lookout for me.  I'll be the one who creates the most glare.

If you're curious and I know you are.  I'll be spending most of my time at this location:
From a satellite view it kind of looks like West Texas.  Well, if the sink holes were larger and looked suspiciously like a beach.

I'll try and remember to take lots of pictures and post something when I get back (Monday evening).  Don't get too anxious.  Sometimes I have to let things digest properly before dispensing them onto the world.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Gardening Neurosis Nightmare

I infrequently share stories like these because of the utter embarrassment.  However, this story further explains my outdoor neurosis so I feel that its telling is necessary.

Last Saturday, I worked up the courage to go take care of some things in the front yard.  Normally, I don’t do things like this because I have this phobia of neighbors watching and laughing.  I have no manner of common sense and I can just hear all the voices in my head laughing at the way I’m trimming the shrubs or planting the bushes.  My little sister tells me this neurosis is my dad’s fault, but I don’t know.  I do have a certain lack of necessary dexterity.

But, I worked up my courage, fought every urge I had to run kicking and screaming back into the house, and I wandered into the front yard with my gardening gloves on.

First things first: get rid of the dead shrubs.  They are ugly.  I start hacking and cutting and finally have a nice mound of dead branches in the driveway.  What to do with all this mess?  I’ll put it in the trash!  I have trash bags!

But wait!  Why use trash bags?  At the side of the house is a nice pretty blue dumpster with wheels.  I’ll just wheel it around to the driveway and throw everything directly into it.  The neighbors will think I’m a genius!

Off I strut to the side of the house with hands full of branches and a determined eye on retrieving the trash can.  I swing open the lid and throw the current branches I have into the trash.

image  I get behind the trash can and proceed to roll it towards the driveway.  I didn’t close the lid, because I’d end up just having to re-open it again at the ultimate destination.  This is a bad idea.  I suspect you folks who were lucky enough to be born with common sense already knew this or could logically workout that it’s not a good idea.

If you have a look at the trash can pictured here, you can see that the end of the lid hovers just above the ground when it’s in the open position.

Working valiantly to keep my outdoor neurosis at bay and (in my own head) being ultimately efficient in my trash removal methodologies, I stood behind the trash can, grabbed with both hands and started to push.

After my first or second step, I managed to step on the lid.  This magical feat resulted in the lid, which is attached to the handles, tugging things to the ground at an alarming and uncontrolled speed.  Next thing I know, my knuckles are being driven into the walking path and I’m diving headfirst into the trashcan.

And, in my neurosis driven mind, all my neighbors are being highly entertained.  I haven’t worked in my yard since.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Abspewtulation for the WIN!

A long time ago, in a blog far far away I discussed with you the ability to make up new words.

Over this past weekend, with the help of my youngest offspring, I abspewtulated again.

She was watching me break into my Unix Bash Shell and compress an mp3 song so that it would fit on her phone as a ringtone.  She's got a little Pantech phone and you can create custom ringtones, but the mp3 files used must be less than 300k.  I used Lame from the command line to lessen the bps.

Anyway, she was watching me type this stuff in to shrink the mp3 and she said, "It's like geeky magic".  I, of course, thought this was funny and it started my over active mind to thinking about geeky magic.  It's like when I get in my car and my phone connects to the car via Bluetooth and starts playing music.  Anytime you see something technologically uplifting that makes your eyes sparkle as the word cool gently escapes from your mouth and rises to the heavens.

This, my friends, is Mageek.  Pronounced, maj-eek.  Use it in a sentence today and add it to your vocabulary for it is now a neologism.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crossing My Fingers

I don't know about the rest of you, but ever since about 2000, I've been hoping that the government would shutdown.  If they'd just go to work every day and lay their collective heads on the desk for 8 hours per day we'd be better off.

Unfortunately, these types of "shutdowns" don't prevent congress from working and they are the ones who really need to quit.

I'm hoping the imminent shutdown lasts for years and years.  There have been 17 "shutdowns" in the past.  The longest being a mere 21 days.  They need to shutdown for at least 360 per year to help balance the budget.

Perhaps tonight (after they officially "shutdown"), we should shoot off fireworks in a national celebration of our independence.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Androids and Warranties and Voids, Oh my!

I haven't done a technical blog in a while, so I figure, why start now?

I broke down and bought one of those silly, "smart phones" last June.  I bought a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide.

I was immediately addicted.  I can now look up stuff on the Internet wherever I may be.  I can listen to Pandora in my car.  It basically did everything the geek inside me wanted to do at a moment's notice.  But, I had trouble making phone calls.  And picture messages (mms) were spotty at best.  I had a 50/50 chance of getting disconnected when someone called because some Android Phone app was doing a force close.

Being that I had a year's warranty, I decided to make the best of it.  I called T-Mobile tech support.  They had me reset my phone to factory defaults.  A painful process.  All my little geeky settings I had spent hours setting up were gone and had to be redone.  Luckily, the second time around is faster.  The hard reset didn't fix anything.  They had me go to a T-Mobile store and replace my SIM card.  I did, it didn't help either.  Finally, they sent me a new phone (I guess they decided it was a hardware problem).  New phone had the exact same "features".  I could do all the geeky stuff I wanted, but phone calls were 50/50.

There were a few other quirks.  Like Bluetooth audio didn't work.  It was very sporadic.  Kind of like listening to someone speak to an audience through a microphone with dying batteries.  You get to hear bits and pieces of every other word.  This was more of an annoyance because I could use the auxiliary out to wire my phone in to listen to Pandora in the car.

Anyway, after a couple of months with my replacement phone, I went directly to a T-Mobile store and told them my story.  I was secretly hoping they'd just let me pay an upgrade price to one of the new 4G Slides.  I had no such luck.  They replaced my SIM card and told me to come back if the problem remained and they would replace my phone again.  Did I mention how painful it is to get everything setup appropriately with a new phone?  I think I did.  They also told me that if they had to replace the phone more than 3 times they'd force me to switch to a different model at the same tier.  I think my options were a Motorola Cliq.

It was sometime after this and when I head AT&T was thinking about purchasing T-Mobile, that I decided to screw the warranty.  It was obviously doing me no good anyway.  You know when you make one of those decisions and your only regret is that you didn't do it 8 months ago?  This was one of those times.

When you are "rooting" your android phone, you get all kinds of warnings about "this will void your warranty".  This is important so that the software helping you do this can cover their asses.  But, from what I read, people are doing it all the time.  Even people not as geeky as me.  Plus, in my eyes, my warranty was worthless.  All it was getting me was useless tech support.

So instead of figuring it all out myself and writing it all down for step by step instructions I just decided to follow this guys instructions after I verified the quality of the steps with a Google android site.  The steps were about the same except (I assume his name is) Richard had a few more details and described the "expected" results.  He also made recommendations on which upgrades to use and had handy links for downloading.

I, also, decided to go with CyanogenMod for my Android OS of choice.  However, last I checked his site recommended RC 2 (or CM 7 Release Candidate 2).  I opted for RC 4 or the latest greatest Release Candidate.  I had a few hiccups along the way, but for the most part, following Richard's step by step guide, I was able to get CyanogenMod installed on my phone.

The unfortunates.. I keep my contact list backed up to T-Mobile.  Cyanogen doesn't seem to know about T-Mobile.  It seems to assume that you keep everything backed up at Google (or your required gmail account).  So, I lost some contacts.  If I got your phone number in the last 3 months, could you send it to me again :)?  Thanks.  Or, if you'd just like me to have your phone number and you are a pleasure to be around and have Friday's open for going out to the party.  The more the merrier you know.

I always put crap like that in when my blogs get wordy.  It tests the ability of my readers to see if they actually read all of this drivel.

My picture also disappeared from my phone.  This seems a little odd, but when you get a smartphone and you start texting, you get to put little icons next to people by modifying the contact card with a small picture.  Most of my contacts are also on Facebook so their picture comes directly from Facebook which can magically synchronize.  I normally have to setup my picture by modifying the "me contact".  When I installed Cyanogen, this ability was lost.  I had to download a little app from the market called "My Phone Number" which simply allowed me to enter my phone number.  Once, I entered my phone number, Cyanogen goes to my gmail account and grabs my picture.  The important thing to remember: if you are missing your picture after you violate your warranty, get the "My Phone Number" app and keep it handy.  Unfortunately, every time you reboot your phone, you'll have to run the app again.  That is until someone comes up with a more permanent solution.  I did hear of people putting their SIM card in an older phone which would allow them to set their number on the SIM card.  I also suspect the useless folks at T-Mobile tech support might be able to do it.

The exciting and unadvertised!  I have now had Cyanogen installed for 4 days and have had no dropped calls!  My text messages and picture messages are sent instantly (it's almost scary).  Everything runs faster! I play Angry Birds.  The game was horribly slow before.  Now, with Cyanogen, it's alarmingly speedy and responsive.  Pandora quit cutting out.  Bluetooth audio works (with a small caveat of having to turn off Wi-Fi before pairing with a Bluetooth device)!   I can easily move stuff out of phone memory and onto my SD card to help with troublesome installs.

But, the most pleasant thing of all.  At my house, I have spotty coverage.  I usually have between 1 & 2 bars for signal strength.  It's irritating.  The new Android has a feature called Wi-Fi calling which basically says, if you are connected via Wi-Fi, use it to make calls instead of the cell towers.  T-Mobile is somehow associated with this so any calls you make still go against your minutes, but when I'm at home my Wi-Fi signal strength is much better than my radio strength.  Every time I get home, I just enable Wi-Fi, my phone magically converts over to Wi-Fi calling and I have perfect coverage.  I can't believe they don't advertise this!  I'm always talking to people who have crappy coverage at home.

And just to finish things on a positive note.  I'm sure I'm leaving out stuff.  I've only had it for four days.  I hate Apple and their proprietary BS.  Here's to the magical Androids leaving the iCrap in the toilet where it belongs!