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July 31, 2008

I finally have Internet at home ()

by fluffy at 7:54 PM
I have to say, Comcast is pretty great at getting things going when they need the going getting.

My cable modem arrived today ($60 from Amazon) and I hooked it up. It was able to train up but couldn't get any routing, so I called Comcast, and the tech (who treated me respectfully and didn't talk down to me etc.) found that when I placed the order, the sales person entered it as a self-install with a leased modem, which is certainly not what I ordered, nor what the sales person had confirmed to me. But he got it straightened out, and after I gave him my MAC address, I was online right away. Awesome.

Also:

Questions I ask myself ()

by fluffy at 9:13 AM
  • Since Joss Whedon cowrote Toy Story, does that mean the toys are animate because of demonic possession?
  • Is thinking about the inefficiency of the "light switch schema" in my condo a sign I am irrevocably geeky?
  • Not to mention referring to it as a schema to begin with?
  • How much fibrous lignified structural plant tissue could a lowland marmot propel manually if said rodent were physically capable of the act of manually propelling a potentially heavy mass of such plant matter?

July 30, 2008

dental update ()

by fluffy at 6:52 PM
So hey, it's not a cavity or a stress fracture, it's just a stain and a receding gumline. The dentist prescribed me some sensitive tooth toothpaste and said not to worry so much.

July 29, 2008

It's never enough ()

by fluffy at 4:43 PM
All my life I've always had trouble with my teeth and cavities and so on. I really hate going to the dentist because dentists always blame me for it, which just adds insult to injury. I take good care of my teeth but I still always end up getting cavities and the like. It's very depressing.

It doesn't help also that dental insurance never really covers a lot. They seem to think that by covering only the bare minimum (for example, only covering fillings up to 80% of the cost of old-fashioned amalgams, not covering crowns at all, etc.) it'll encourage people to take better care of their teeth and never have problems. I'm sorry but it doesn't work that way! That's like health insurance only covering basic preventative medicine under the belief that it'll encourage people to not get cancer or something.

Tap Tap Revenge ()

by fluffy at 12:34 PM
I have entered a few of my songs into the Tap Tap Revenge contest. If you go to the contest voting page and happen to come across any Sockpuppet songs, I'd appreciate you voting for them. (And meanwhile, go ahead and vote for against songs based on whether you'd like to play them in a rhythm game or whatever. There's no way to vote specifically for a certain artist, which is probably a good thing in this case.)

(Well, okay, it actually IS possible by merit of their voting app being incredibly insecure and the complete list of entries easy to discover, but I am certainly not going to condone that means of messing with things.)

(Wow, they took the worst possible 30-second excerpt of &counting.)

July 25, 2008

Neighbor ()

by fluffy at 9:28 PM
The taqueria a few doors down: ¡mucho excellente!

My first night in my condo! ()

by fluffy at 10:05 AM
  • It will be very nice to get Internet at home again. Blogging from the iPhone is certainly easier than from my previous phone but certainly not something I want to do if I can help it.
  • My condo is in some sort of anomalous "cone of silence." There is absolutely no audible street noise, unless I open the window, and even then it's very faint. This is even though it's right in the middle of a very lively and noisy neighborhood. It was so quiet my ears were ringing. I will definitely want to get my bedroom stereo set up again.
  • Most of the local restaurants are cash-only. I had no cash last night. I ended up going to Burger King (ugh).
  • I am swimming in boxes. One of them has my bike helmet. Until I find which one that is, I'm commuting via BART or the bus (either option still involves a lot of walking), since I have no desire to ride my bike without a helmet.
  • My living room is HUGE. My 40" TV seems so tiny now. Also my layout is quite nice. I have the entertainment center against a wall, then my 8'x11' area rug in front of it (flush up against it), then my couch at the other end of the area rug, and then there's still a few feet behind the couch, so I actually have my surround speakers behind for a change, and I'll probably keep that area open or maybe put some of my media storage there. The layout that's taking shape is very nice, in any case.
  • My upstairs neighbors sure do walk around a lot. But then again they're in the process of moving out, so things will probably settle down soon enough.
  • The move ended up costing about 3x what I was quoted, because of the dumb miscommunications I mentioned previously. I mean it was still a pretty good price for the service and professionalism I got, and the movers were all very fun to talk to (they are all pretty well-educated but didn't have the patience for desk jobs and decided they'd rather work with their hands), and it was still within my budget (barely), but still, it was a bit of a shock to the wallet. I should have asked for a revised quote.
  • I don't think any of my neighbors speak English. I've come across two of them so far, namely my next door neighbor who is an older Asian man (I am certainly not presumptuous enough to guess as to which country he's from), and an older Hispanic woman. I tried introducing myself to both of them and I was met with something of a blank "Sorry, what?" stare each time.
  • The OTA HDTV situation is excellent at my new place, so I probably won't be spending the $7/mo extra to Comcast (unless I decide I really want Discovery HD or something). Fortunately the TiVo has a dual-antenna setup and will supposedly record from both antenna and analog/QAM cable simultaneously.
  • I still have a few things to move out from my old place (my cleaning stuff, which I left there so I could finish cleaning, of course). There's also a few things I want to buy (I'm going to try using a drying rack instead of a dryer). Conveniently, my Realtor gave me a $50 gift card for Bed Bath & Beyond, and the BB&B is pretty close to work. Most likely I'll do the cleaning this afternoon, and then just rent a Zipcar this weekend and take care of the rest of it at once. (Unfortunately, BB&B's clothes dryer racks are pretty badly-designed compared to that Ikea one.)
  • Or I could just go relatively low-tech.

July 23, 2008

One more night here ()

by fluffy at 3:05 PM
So, due to a bit of a miscommunication, the movers didn't realize they'd be doing a pack and move, so today they're just doing the packing. The move won't happen until tomorrow. (This also means it'll cost somewhat more than I was originally quoted. Ugh.)

Fortunately, it looks like they'll be able to do the rest of the move tomorrow morning, but in the meantime I guess I'll be sleeping on my couch tonight or something. Hoooooooray.

Baggage ()

by fluffy at 12:50 AM
So, I've been packing up some of my stuff to make tomorrow's move faster (and thus cheaper), and while packing up my scanner I realized it's one of the few things I've had since I was in grad school. So I thought about which things I've had the longest.
  • From the house I owned in Las Cruces would be the scanner, the Sharp Zaurus, the PS1, the PS2, and my small Wacom tablet (which I use at work occasionally)
  • From the place I was renting before that would be the SIDstation and my JVC receiver (which I use in my bedroom)
  • And from before that, during my brief time in Virginia, is the Dreamcast
  • And going way back to college is the N64

July 22, 2008

Usernames ()

by fluffy at 10:22 AM
Grr. It's bad enough that the username "fluffy" ends up getting taken everywhere, but now plaidfluff? How annoying.

July 20, 2008

The worst case of two-factor authentication ()

by fluffy at 4:30 PM
There have been many very good rants about so-called "two-factor authentication" which are really not actually two-factor, where they ask you to answer certain questions which are basically just secondary/tertiary questions. Of course, most of those wish-it-were-two-factor authentication schemes at least give questions with immutable and memorable questions, unlike these two from AT&T Wireless:
You are missing out on one or more friends-only entries. Please log in, if you have an account.

July 19, 2008

Pronunciation ()

by fluffy at 7:13 PM
It bothers me much more than it should that apparently, the name of Vallejo, CA is pronounced "vuh-lay-oh," which is a terrible portmanteau of English and Spanish pronunciation (the proper Spanish pronunciation is like "va-yay-ho").

You'd think California didn't have a 35% Hispanic population or something.

July 18, 2008

The ringtone coefficient ()

by fluffy at 3:39 PM
In my experience, the number of phone calls someone receives is directly proportional to how annoying their ringtone is. The obvious corollary is that the people who are conscientious about the obnoxiousness level of their ringtone are also the ones who don't spend all their time talking on the phone, thus making it not an issue to begin with.

Ow, my finances! ()

by fluffy at 12:41 AM
Before condo purchase: about 3 years' worth of living expenses saved up, and gained another month of cushion for every month worked

After condo purchase: about 8 months' worth of living expenses saved up, and gain another month of cushion for every three months worked (well, before the tax break; after the tax break it's more like 11 months and 1:2 respectively, but I prefer to track that as an annual lump sum payment rather than an amortized cost)

Meanwhile, Chase has yet again decided that activity on my account (in this case, changing my address and phone number via their website and then OMG having the USPS do a change of address validation!) is a sign of possible fraud. Chase certainly has an odd notion of reasons to freeze an account. How obnoxious.

July 17, 2008

The easy way to cancel T-Mobile service ()

by fluffy at 5:55 PM
So, normally when you try canceling an account with a phone company, they send you over to customer retention, but T-Mobile gives you a much easier way. The magic words: "I'd like to convert my account to pay-as-you-go." They're more than happy to do that, and after that you can easily just port your number or, if you're also changing numbers at the same time (like I am), you can just have the old number forward to your new number until the minutes expire.

(Also, I might just mess around with making circuits or something. It'd be fun to try making my intercom dial my cellphone, for example.)

July 16, 2008

Comcast cares! ()

by fluffy at 8:21 AM
So, compared to most of my customer experience entries, I must say that the whole @comcastcares thing is pretty awesome. And the guy (or maybe it's a team?) even tracks weblog entries. Comcast's website can be pretty terrible when it comes to information about things which aren't their highest-tier services, so having someone who is actually willing to answer every little question about what they offer is excellent.

Yet another gender test ()

by fluffy at 8:00 AM
This one is very easy to take, though: it just analyzes your browser history.

My results: 50% female, 50% male. GO FIGURE.

July 15, 2008

A homeowner again! ()

by fluffy at 9:19 PM
I got the keys for my condo today. Woo! I haven't gone there yet though.

What I have to do:

  • Get a mover (probably going to go with these guys since they review very well on Yelp)
  • Deal with utilities
  • Figure out my commute. Originally I was going to bike but then I noticed that the elevation profile is a lot worse than I thought, but then it turns out that SFMuni has a $45 monthly pass which covers both buses and BART within the city, so that gives me plenty of options. I like the idea of biking between the endpoints and the BART stations, so I get about 1.5 miles of biking (or walking) each way every day. And of course this makes my folding bike still very worthwhile.
  • Figure out what I'm going to do about Internet service. I'll probably go with Comcast, since limited basic also has full QAM here, so $18 for limited analog cable + $43 for Internet (well, $33 for the first 6 months but whatever) = $61, which is a lot less than DSL alone here ($20 for the phone line and $65 for the DSL) and also has much higher bandwidth (12Mbps!). Of course, it helps that @comcastcares has been very helpful in answering my questions.
  • Pack up the stuff I can pack up myself. Fortunately I've been very lazy and have been accumulating Amazon and woot boxes for the last several months, and of course the recycling bin always has plenty more. So that part shouldn't be a problem.
  • Acquaint myself with the neighborhood. I know there is a jazz club next door and a Safeway across the street and a taqueria about a block away (and a somewhat-famous Indian/pizza place a little further). I am sure this will be excellent.
I am tempted to go there even before I've moved or anything just so I can finally breathe the air myself, without having a couple of realtors constantly chatting. As much as I liked working with Alina, and as good as the seller's agent Jeff was, it was as bit frustrating that I could never really listen to the building "breathe." It was pretty much non-stop chatter whenever I was in there. (They did give me a few minutes of alone time so I know it's very quiet there, at least.)

July 14, 2008

An improvement in Plaxo ()

by fluffy at 6:59 PM
Okay, so I'd uninstalled the Plaxo Assistant from all of my computers because it was getting annoyingly unstable lately, and was taking out Mail and Address Book as a result. Because of my new iPhone I decided to give it another shot, though, and I discovered that if you customize the install, you can remove the ultra-annoying Mail and Address Book plugins, which at least mitigates that particular problem.

It's just a damn phone! (, , )

by fluffy at 4:44 PM
So, this morning, between signing for the condo and going back to work, I stopped at an AT&T store to pick up a SIM for the iPhone. There was a short line ahead of me. One person in front of me was on the phone, talking in a very dramatic way to a regional manager about some terrible customer experience he suffered at the hands of something or other. I couldn't help but listen in (seeing as how he was loud enough to be heard throughout the whole store) and it was plainly obvious that he was ranting about his experience buying an iPhone 3G on Friday.

What I heard from his story is that he was in line for 4 hours when the Apple store first opened, and was turned away because of the activation issues. The woman in line next to him was "in tears" because of her inability to buy an iPhone (what). He was ranting and raving about how Apple and AT&T need to "get their act together" and how they should have gotten news about the activation failures into "all the papers" ("for the people who don't have Internet") so that people wouldn't have to wait in line for four hours to not be able to buy an iPhone. Furthermore, he refuses to go into an Apple store after his bad experience and was aghast that the AT&T stores were out of phones.

Oh yeah the other thing I bought ()

by fluffy at 4:30 PM
Today I signed all the paperwork on my condo! I will take possession tomorrow. Whee! (now to find a mover and get as much stuff packed as I can and omgomgomgomg)

The title company gave me a bottle of Champagne Savoie-region sparkling Chardonnay to celebrate. I'll just have to save it for the housewarming party, along with that bottle of nice Prosecco I've been holding onto since I forgot to break it out at my LAST housewarming party.

Oddly enough, even though the paperwork was way thicker than when I bought the place in Seattle, the signing went a lot quicker. In Seattle they insisted that they read to me the entirety of the paperwork (this title agent just summarized and I'd already read most of the stuff in advance anyway), and also in Seattle they insisted that I add my middle initial to my signature even though it's not as if the first or last names are recognizeable in it, while in California my usual 400-millisecond degenerate Bézier curve pair was sufficient.

July 13, 2008

I finally broke down ()

by fluffy at 8:21 PM
and bought an iPhone.

Specifically I got a used first-generation iPhone 8GB, since I got lucky and found someone selling one on Craigslist for $250, with a preference for in-town and cash, and I was the first person to respond who was in-town and willing to pay with cash. Go figure.

July 12, 2008

What a dreadful flight ()

by fluffy at 10:20 PM
It turned out it was full, after all, and a good 30% of the passengers were children. Lots of screaming and crying and seat-kicking. Urgh. (And the adults on the flight weren't any better. It seemed like a bunch of people were using it as their private conference room or something. There's only so much my noise-canceling headphones can do!)

Also, if I believed in Hell, I'd like to reserve a special place in it for the following:

  • People who block everyone else from deplaning by needing to go back in the plane to pick up their carryon luggage (instead of just waiting for the aisles to clear)
  • People who scoff at the carryon restrictions to begin with, causing the previous issue
  • Flight crew who don't actually enforce the carryon restrictions, causing people to get away with the previous issue
  • People who jam up the BART turnstiles because they can't figure out how to map the picture of putting a card into a slot to the act of putting a card into a slot
  • Parents who don't tell their kids to STOP KICKING THE GODDAMN SEATS. When I was a fidgety kid, if I kicked the seat in front of me, my mom would slap my hand and tell me to stop. And I'd stop.
  • People who turn on their cellphones at the earliest possible opportunity (i.e. the instant the wheels touch the ground) so that they can immediately start gab-gab-gabbing about every little thing.

Chicago Midway (, )

by fluffy at 2:32 PM
Okay, clearly there is a huge traveling recession right now (I was the only passenger on the airport shuttle both ways, and neither flight was even close to full, and the airport is pretty deserted), BUT Midway has perhaps the best TSA process ever. There are three lines at the beginning for beginner, casual, and expert traveler. I took the "expert" line, and I was the only one in it, until a family of three (which technically didn't fit the "expert" guideilnes since they had more than one carryon each) came up behind me and I let them get in front of me since I was caught by surprise at having basically no time to get my laptop out of my backpack and my shoes off. Huh.

Oh, and the TSA screeners in the expert line were friendly and talkative. It really changed the dynamic, since they knew they they were in for a quick screening. (Also, the pre-screening guy who checked my boarding pass was poring over my boarding pass for every little detail since, again, there was nobody else so he could actually do a proper job. Not that that's really advantageous in this case though.)

July 11, 2008

My grandpa's hobby ()

by fluffy at 4:48 PM
Accepting sales calls and then getting into long-winded conversations with the salespeople.

July 10, 2008

July 9, 2008

Marketing idea ()

by fluffy at 7:16 AM
Indiana Dunes and the Temple of Jones

July 8, 2008

iPhone or Android? ()

by fluffy at 10:55 AM
Okay, I finally looked at Android and watched their little demo videos, and now I'm thinking I'll just wait for that. It's not as sexy as iPhone but it seems like it has way more potential. Plus I won't have to obsess over switching to AT&T or whatever.

Backhanded idiom ()

by fluffy at 9:40 AM
"They broke the mold when they made him" sounds like he is the last one of a long line of non-unique copies.

July 7, 2008

July 6, 2008

July 1, 2008

PAYG 3G iPhone! ()

by fluffy at 9:40 AM
Turns out it will be an option after all. Phew. No word on the actual service plan cost, though — hopefully it will be significantly cheaper than the contract pricing since there's no way I'm going to pay $75/mo + taxes for a damn cellphone.

(I might just end up getting a normal AT&T PAYG plan with unlimited data and just keep using my current phone with it, too. I mean it's not like I'm suffering with it or whatever. Mostly I was just waiting for my T-Mobile contract to expire, which it will do in a couple weeks, before deciding what to do about finally getting a San Francisco phone number.)