Category Archives: rants

Stupid, rodent!

I’m not one to get sentimental over silly holidays. I’ve never celebrated Sweetest day. But this year, I’ve been really looking forward to Groundhog Day. Why? Call me superstitious, but I want to know how much winter we’ve got left. And boy was I disappointed with the outcome today.

Phil saw his shadow. According to the AP:

Brace yourself for more wintry weather. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Saturday, leading the groundhog to forecast six more weeks of winter.

So there, you have it; my bike stays dormant for a few more weeks. I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive much longer than that.

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DirectBuy is crazy

Here in west Michigan,we have TV adds for DirectBuy, a retailer whose members claim will save you lots of money. It’s not unusual for a member/spokesperson to claim “We saved $20,000 when we remodeled our kitchen,” or some such. But, even if you save 50% on everything you buy, you still have to spend $20,000 to save that much.

Well, it’s even worse than that.

Consumer Reports just published an article spotlighting some of DirectBuy’s policies. They went undercover to to a New York DirectBuy location and came away with some interesting information.

After the fee disclosure, we discovered that we had to sign up on the spot or never come back.

It gets better. In order to sign up you have to pay a membership fee that comes near to $5,000.00. That covers the first 3 years of your 10 year commitment. Don’t sweat it, though. DirectBuy is more than happy to loan you the membership fee for only 17.75%.

Anyone interested in signing up?

With DirectBuy, it will cost you a lot to save – Consumer Reports

Also, infomercialscams.comĀ 

Stupid prepaid mobile service!

I haven’t been updating as often as I’d like. I was hoping to upload some pics and blog from my phone. It has these capabilities. But It doesn’t matter what the phone can do when it can find service!

We made it halfway across Nebraska when I stopped finding a cell signal. That was very disappointing. I had some fun pictures to share from Carhenge and Mt. Rushmore. Right now, we’re just a few miles from the big faces preparing to get back on the road. It feels like the vacation is over, since we’re leaving our home of the last two days. But their is no singular destination when you’re on a road trip. We have more adventure ahead of us in the days to come.

Where’s the love?

I’ve been blogging on WordPress for almost a year now. And I think it’s great. The software is easy to use, the themes are nice, and I’ve got options to upgrade. I appreciate the combination of simple and flexible. But I think there’s one thing lacking: community.

I’m not saying there’s no community here at WordPress.com. If you visit the support forums, you’ll see some bloggers who hang out there quite a bit. And I’ve had a chance to interact with a few others myself.

What I am saying is there’s no major effort to connect bloggers to each other. And that’s ok because the developers are focusing their efforts on making the best product possible. So, it’s in the hands of the users to develop the community. I’ve got a couple thoughts.

Use the Dashboard

There are a couple features built into the Dashboard that give you some connectedness. Under What’s Hot you’ll see some of the most popular blogs and posts on WordPress. You can see latest posts as well. Check out some of these sites; this is the closest you’ll ever be to most of them. Don’t wait for something to become popular to check it out. Help make it popular.

Tag Surfer

Also on the Dashboard is the Tag Surfer. This feature often goes unknown, but it has great power. Just go to the Tag Surfer tab and enter some categories you’re interested in. Then, each day you’ll find new sites that (supposedly) talk about the topics that interest you. You’ll be able to read those posts right from this page. Then, you can go comment on them.

My Comments

Also on the Dashboard is the My Comments tab. This one is exactly what it sounds like: comments you’ve left on other WordPress blogs. The neat thing about this feature is that subsequent comments also show up here. It’s great for keeping track of feedback and for keeping the conversation going.

One more great idea

Internet Duct Tape is the hub for a developer with some great ideas. Recently, he published a Greasemonkey script that helps to facilitate community here at WordPress. It allows you to open 5 random WordPress.com blogs at once. And it alerts you to blogs that have a Recent Comments Widget installed. You know, for some link-love.

Remember, use your blog responsibly. Don’t just rant; join in the conversation. Every one of us wants some kind of feedback. Start by offering some and maybe you’ll get some, too. And don’t forget this: WpNextButton It’s in the upper right-hand corner of your screen (if you’re a WordPress member.)

I’m not happy right now.

One of my favorite sites is reporting the following:

Firefox 2.0.0.5 was released yesterday. Nothing terribly exciting to report (unless security fixes excite you), but you can count on seeing an auto-update pop-up in the next day or so if you haven’t already. Otherwise you can just get it here. – (Striving Toward Perfection – Lifehacker)

Ordinarily, this would be great news. That is not the case today.

You see, when I updated, I got a message saying Java was not working with the new version. I figured I’d just be able to update Java when it became necessary. Whatever.

To make matters worse, none of my extensions or themes work any longer. It’s true. Not a one. I’m completely confounded. Ordinarily, I can dig around and find the answer on the net. But this time I haven’t found anything. When I look at the extensions in the Tools-> Add-ons menu they all say:

This add-on will be installed when Firefox is restarted.

or

This add-on will be upgraded when Firefox is restarted.

I’ve restarted to no avail. I tried reinstalling. I tried uninstalling, then reinstalling. Nothing.

Is anyone else having the same problem? Has anybody got an answer?

Update 7/21/07

I uninstalled Firefox, moved the remaining Mozilla folders to a different directory, and reinstalled 2.0.0.5. That did the trick. I’ve been reinstalling my extensions one at a time as I need them. And I imported my old bookmarks from my old files. It’s been annoying but I’m willing to pay the price for a superior web experience.

Update 8/1/07

If some others out there are having similar problems, be sure to check out the comments for a great tip from Stephan.

I still can’t use my laptop as a portable cinema.

Dell Inspiron E1405In a previous post I blathered about not being able to watch a dvd on my Dell laptop. It really sucked (the problem, not my post) but I think some people were helped as a result. It turns out, there were a lot of other folk who couldn’t watch movies, either. So many people, in fact, that I made it to the WordPress.com Growing Blogs page. I digress.

The patch finally arrived. (Thank you, Ramon.) I installed it and the ridiculous error message went away. But the playback is still jittery. What’s a guy gotta do to use the merchandise he bought fair and square?

Does anyone, anywhere have any freakin’ idea?

Why can’t I watch a DVD I paid for?

I can’t believe it! I have a brand new Dell laptop with a sleek 14″ widescreen, perfect for watching movies on the fly. But when I wanted to live in Middle Earth for a few hours, I couldn’t. All of the sudden, my XP Media Center Edition machine wouldn’t play a DVD. How can this be?

I’m not stupid when it comes to computers so I did my best to figure out the problem. WMP 11 gave me the following message:

“Windows Media Player cannot play this DVD because there is a problem with digital copy protection between your DVD drive, decoder, and video card. Try installing an updated driver for your video card.”

So I (foolishly?) followed the instructions. I got nowhere.
I should mention at this point that no DVD playback option worked. Media Center, Dell Media Experience, WMP 11, InterActual and Real Player all failed. They each gave me some form of error message (except Dell which just didn’t work).

Next Step

I looked around Microsoft’s site. They had no information. No, I take that back. After rolling back to WMP 10 I got a slightly different error message. When I searched for it Microsoft gave me a link to information about that particular error. The resulting page said something like: “We have no information about this error.” Then, down below I was asked “Was this information helpful?” Are you kidding me?!

I figured there was some codec that all the players were using in common. So, I downloaded Cyberlink’s PowerDVD thinking it might have a new codec that would replace the faulty one being used. It worked! For exactly one second. As soon as the movie started it was jumpy. I tried a different DVD with the same result. Time for bed.

How about Dell?

The next night I broke down and dug through the Dell site. I tried a number of fixes and troubleshooters to no avail. I really swallowed my pride and attempted to chat with a tech. Busy. So, I emailed a request explaining the whole thing. Surprisingly, I received a response fairly quickly. (I’m sure it was automated.) And it said:

Some customers have experienced problems with Sonic Cineplayer. These problems might include no DVD playback, distorted or jittery screen, and/or loss of audio. Attempting to play DVD video with Windows Media Player will exhibit the same problems listed above because it uses the same Cineplayer DVD codec. These problems are urgently being resolved. If you have experienced these types of problems, please visit…

So, I clicked the link and read this:

1. Sonic Cineplayer May Begin Displaying Problems Due to a DVD Codec Issue.
On December 1, 2006, Sonic Cineplayer may begin displaying one or more of the following problems:

  • No DVD playback
  • Distorted or jittery screen
  • Loss of audio

This is due to an error in the Cineplayer DVD codec. However, an upcoming patch will be released as soon as December 6, 2006 to correct this issue. This article will be updated with the file name and location when the patch has been released.

Bottom Line…

The answer to this whole mess? SONIC CINEPLAYER STOPPED WORKING ON DECEMBER 1ST!! The suggested workaround: change the system time on your computer. WHAT?! In order to watch a DVD on my computer I have to trick the system? Don’t get me wrong, I understand (logically) why this works. I am just stupefied that after I paid for a machine, DVD drive and accompanying software I can’t use them because somebody didn’t write their program correctly.

This whole situation smacks of DRM shenanigans.