Archive: November, 2006

Cleaning service with a dirty van?

I saw this at lunch and had to put it out there for the world to see. Why would you run a cleaning service, and not keep your own vehicle clean?

Dirty van, cleaning service ???

The PS3 Line Adventure

Well, like thousands of other idiots across the country I lined up at Wal-Mart to have a chance

After wandering around for 20 minutes looking for the line or someone to help me, I finally came across it in the lawn and garden section. OUTSIDE. Please keep in mind that this store is far from busy and is definitely not short on space, but people who were waiting to spend $500-600 had to wait outside. No ticketing process, no considerations like a heater, nothing. Well, I turned right around and bought a sleeping bag and chair.

I then assumed my position of waiting. After a few minutes, I managed to strike up conversations with my cell-mates. I say that because the L&G area is fenced in with only a fire door as possible means of escape. The guys who had been there since 5:30PM on 11-15 were from Mount Vernon, IN. They had been driving and trying to find a WM with a short or no line when they came across FF WM. Their names were “Tim” Allen and Bill. Both were nice guys and conversed with the rest of us the whole time. Frankly, I would NOT have made it through sleeping outside and the rain like they did. The next two in line were also from Indiana.

at purchasing a Playstation 3. My original game plan was to get lined up at our local store at about noon. I thought that since we live in the middle of nowhere with no population I would be fine. I was wrong.

At about 10AM I called out to the store expecting 3-4 people to be lined up. There were 26 people waiting in the layaway area already. At that point I almost gave up – it wasn’t worth a trip and waiting around eleven plus hours for a system that would probably be buggy anyway (my PS2 was). I did go ahead and call the surrounding Wal-Marts (within 30 miles). Every single one reported the same thing – Too many people for the number of systems they were going to get. Then I came across Fairfield’s store. It was the last one on my list, but I called just for fun.

There were only 5 people. FIVE! According to the WM circular, there would be 10 at each store, and that meant if I got there in time I would have one! Needless to say I went from depressed to jumping out of my skin in about .5 seconds. At that point I cleared leaving work an hour earlier than planned with my boss, came home and changed in 2 seconds, and ran out the door to get on the road. No gas. So I stopped by the station, filled up, grabbed a pop, and drove as quickly as I legally could to the Fairfield Wal-Mart.

One guy’s name was Nathan, and his (brother?) friend’s name I didn’t get. They were pretty cool too and chatted with us.

Next up was Kim, our sole female comrade. She was great when she talked, which wasn’t often.

A blurry shot of (from left) Nathan, his friend, Kim and her daughter, and

Then there was Phil. I can’t really say much about Phil other than he was From Fairfield, waiting in a spot for a friend, and kept us entertained.

Phil, just Phil.

The next spot was mine.

Then there was another FF guy, Kim’s daughter, two more from FF, and a guy from Flora.

That was our group. I won’t go into great detail, but we all chatted and got along quite well over the course of our sentence. Even when it got dark and we were fighting freezing temperatures WM made us wait outside in the “cage”. One would think that we could have come inside and warmed up, but NO. Heaven forbid the mighty WM allow us to indulge in some of their heat.

Then came the best news of all – ONLY FOUR PS3’s were in stock. THe rest of us would get rain-checks. As people we took it well, and kept enjoyng chatting about everything from how bogus that was to what game system we liked best. Unanimously we chose the PS2 (big surprise, huh?).

Finally, at ten, when our fingers were about to freeze off and we were cursing WM under our breath, we were allowed to go sit on the 3-person bench in electronics. Even though there were only 4 units available, those of us getting rain-checks still had to wait. Not completely insane, but we didn’t understand the logic.

Then at about 11:57PM we were allowed to start receiving our rain-checks and sent on our merry way. I was satisfied and had a good time, but really wished that WM would have allowed us to stay warm. I said goodbye to everyone and drove the thirty minutes home.

There’s the overview of my experience. Other than cold and wet and not getting a PS3, it wasn’t too horrible.

UPDATE: Apparently this guy had the EXACT same experience as us in New England. Same freezing, same un-caring Wal-Mart.

The interview was a joke

They were looking for perhaps someone looking for intern work, who was pursuing a degree. The pay they offered was a laughable amount. I won’t name names or the amount, but it is unbelieveable what these people think they can pay IT personnel and still have a good staff.

Personally, I’m not looking to get rich, but I need something livable. I guess they will find someone willing to take what they offered though, and I wish them the best.


Can you tell I’m excited? I have an interview at a local company soon. They just called and asked me to come in within a couple of days. I love playing (working) on PC’s and that’s the direction of this job.

From talking to the lady who called me, I believe I’m easily qualified. It sounds like I’ll be the apprentice to the main IT guy/people, and that’s what I am looking for in my next position. I want to learn more and eventually become the “grand wizard” of IT somewhere.

The initial excitement is wearing off now, and I’m realizing that when I get this position, I’ll be leaving all of my co-workers and moving into a new place that I won’t know. That makes me sad because these ladies have been around me for over four years. I know all of them pretty well, and a lot of their families too. Unfortunately, we will all be leaving by our own means or when Alltel dissolves this office. Perhaps I’ll just be going sooner.

Want a TiVo without the subscription?

Everyone wants a TiVo, even if the don’t know what one is when you say the name. For those of you that are un-initiated, a PVR or TiVo is a VCR that doesn’t use tapes. Pretty considerate, huh? With a lot of PVR’s that are built from or as computers, you can even burn what you have recorded to DVD. Not only will this allow you higher quality recordings, but you can archive that Family Guy episode with the “novel” bit by Stewie without having to buy the whole season. (Although, why wouldn’t you want the whole season?)

Generally speaking, there are four options to choosing a PVR: TiVo, “generic” from your cable company, Windows Media Center, and a linux/MythTV box. I’ll briefly cover them here, pointing out differences as I see them. DISCLAIMER: In case anyone does read this, take note that I am heavily biased toward MythTV and have used only 3/4 (no cable PVR experience) of these options.

First up is TiVo. This company has been doing PVR for a long time and knows what they are doing. Their interface is slick, and the setup is a cakewalk in most instances. Unfortunately as the big man on campus of personal video recorders they are under a lot of scrutiny from the television companies. This has resulted in some functionality changes and some lawsuits. For simplicity and ease of use, I would suggest TiVo. Please remember that there is the up-front cost for the unit and a continuing subscription fee.

Second in line is a “generic” PVR from your cable company. The different cable companies each offer different models of personal video recorders. I can’t say a whole lot about these units as Charter does not offer one in my area yet. What I can be reasonably sure of is that there will be a monthly rental cost and fee for the service as well. To me this seems like double-billing, but I’m not with the FTC. Since the box will be from your cable company, you can take some solace in the idea that it SHOULD work well with their system (listings, etc.).

The first step in “independent” home theater personal computers (HTPC) would be to get a Windows Media Center PC. From what I’ve seen, this is just a slightly more polished version of XP (and soon Vista) that has a few little bumps in the areas of audio and video performance. In my opinion, the small “improvements” are not worth the extra price of the PC and software license. Also, since this is the first HTPC on the list, I will mention that even if you want to rip a DVD that you own to make yourself a single backup copy, GOOD LUCK. I know fellow geeks will say that there are ways around this, but that is illegal according to the DMCA as you must circumvent the CSS2 copy-control. The DMCA strictly prohibits bypassing any copy-control device. To summarize WMC-PC, you get small interface improvements and Windows on a PC. Yay.

Finally, we come to my point for this whole post: MythTV. Imagine that said in the “monster-truck-commercial-voice”, because that’s how I envisioned it. MythTV is a complete home-theater program that runs on Linux. When I say complete, I mean complete. Myth will allow you to record shows like the others, burn DVD’s of your recordings (WMC only does some), emulate old gaming systems, surf the internet (in fairness, WMC will too), and customize as you want (good luck registering WMC if you make changes). In addition, Myth works much better than WMC with less hardware requirements. Just go to and to compare specs. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Now, if you actually looked, you’ll see that the XP/Media Center requirements are really low. Now I challenge anyone to operate on those system requirements and be productive. While that may be the minimum to start the OS, it is impossible to actually USE the system at those specifications.

Oh, did I mention that upgrades to Myth are free? Yes, that’s right. WMC users will need to pay a (likely) outrageous sum to upgrade to the Vista version. Figure the free license into the cost of ownership with the cost of cheaper (older) components, and a Myth box can easily be made far more cheaply than a WMC PC.

Well, this has been my brief description of the four options facing someone looking to replace their VCR. Yep, I’m biased toward Myth and against WMC. Sorry if you don’t like it, but it’s my blog.

Here are some links to pre-built MythTV systems.