Friday, October 22, 2010


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Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Racoons, Broken MacBook Pro, Stuff

A raccoon woke us up a couple nights ago at 3am because the chicken it was trying to kill/steal/eat was so loud. We scared off the raccoon enough to find the chicken, decide it was too hurt to live, and then I got the job of killing it. So that all sucked.

I fired up my MacBook Pro once we were back inside. I was either going to google up stuff about raccoons or maybe write up the story here. The screen was black though. I rebooted and tried other smart stuff and nothing worked. I plugged in the external monitor and nothing. I guessed it was the crappy Nvidia 8600M chip problem that lots of other people have had on Macs and other laptops. They used bad solder or did something low quality.

I was hoping my suspicions were true because my laptop is out of warranty but the Nvidia issue is covered for 3 years. Anyway, the Apple store confirmed that it was the 8600M graphics chip and they'd replace the logic board for free.

They told me they had to wait for the logic board to arrive but it would get there the next day (Saturday) or on Monday. It arrived Tuesday which wouldn't have bugged me but they'd gotten my hopes up of a much quicker repair. I got a call Tuesday night 20 minutes before they close to say it was fixed. I rushed over and it looked like it was working okay and brought it home. They mentioned on the phone and at the store that they thought it had bad RAM and I should get it replaced (for free under warranty) by Crucial (the manufacturer). That seemed weird because I haven't had any random crashes or other nutty behavior.

At home I decided to boot the Mac OS X 10.6 install disk and see if it had a RAM test like I had read online. I started to push the DVD in and got nothin'. Normally the DVD gets sucked in automatically. It didn't work, didn't work from Windows and doesn't show up in the System Profiler either. So either they broke my DVD drive or more likely they didn't connect it to the replacement motherboard. :( It's not a big deal but it's just another thing I have to resolve now.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Jonah and Wishes

On the way to school today Jonah said if he had a wish he would wish for more wishes.

Then he said he would wish for:

  • Being able to eat all the junk food he wanted without getting sick and so he'd still grow and be healthy
  • That heaven was real
  • That he was a clone*

    The middle one there made me almost cry. We've had (grown up) friends who have died in the last few years and it's definitely gotten our whole family, including Jonah, thinking about what happens when we die, or someone else dies. And what does that mean, and what happens? And it's scary.

    * Well... cooler than just a clone. A Clone Trooper, like from Star Wars. I asked "Wouldn't it be bad to be a copy of the same person?" and he said "I'd have a lot of brothers."

  • Thursday, January 21, 2010


    Kindle and Video Games

    The word online from Amazon is they're intending to release an SDK (software development kit) for the Kindle digital book. That means it'll be able to run games and more instead of just being a fancy book viewer. That's cool... Maybe I'll port my solitaire game to it from the iPhone. The performance (aka speed) of the Kindle isn't great, but hey, I've written games for a long time, including on really low-end and ancient consumer devices. So the slow Kindle with it's weird screen should be no trouble!

    I'm on a video games developer mailing list and someone griped about how the Kindle and all digital books are doomed to failure since no one wants them. I disagree and it kind of got me fired up, so I wrote this:

    I'm not a big fan of the Kindle -- The biggest issue for me is that the contrast of the screen is too low. With that said, I'm a huge fan of digital content. I like real books, but I don't really want to store the books, waste resources on having them printed, shipped etc. It's nice to be able to buy things digitally, including books. The feature of the Kindle where you can buy a new book from almost anywhere in the world and get it almost instantly is pretty fantastic too, for those users who want that.

    It's clear that the way audio, video and video game distribution is going is that it will all shift to digital delivery. Physical media just gets in the way. My expectation is that book publishing will do the same thing. I bet printed books will be around forever, printed books are awesome, but the price of those books will be higher than digital versions and in tangible ways will be less convenient (e.g. No searching, harder to share, harder to do research with, wear out over time, don't get updated dynamically). There are a lot of reasons that digital distribution of books will win over customers, especially younger customers who grow up with digital versions of books their whole lives.

    Friday, January 08, 2010


    2010 Coffee, contracting, health insurance

    Flash forward three months from my sort-of-weird calls from recruiters in India... That all turned out to be legitimate and not a convoluted Nigerian money-making scheme like I was predicting. In fact I'm still working on that project and it's going great. It's an iPhone app, but as is often the case with cool stuff I work on, it's secret.

    I'm going to stop drinking coffee. I don't drink that much. Like one cup or less a day. I'm pretty sure caffeine isn't that great for me anyway.

    In health insurance news... we still have health insurance. Yay! I got laid off months ago and we have health insurance through COBRA. Thankfully the Obama stimulus somethin'-somethin' pays for 65% of the cost so we pay ~$400 instead of $1200. For a couple days I thought the stimulus money was going to stop so we'd want to switch insurance companies. That's when Kelly found out that no one will insure her where her pregnancy would be covered. Apparently since we have COBRA they don't have to cover pre-existing conditions. Good times. If we didn't have COBRA then I think they're forced by HIPAA to insure pre-existing conditions. So overall we're okay and once again I am super happy about the COBRA stimulus thing. I wish health insurance was easier and cheaper to deal with. We know people who have health problems and who can't afford to have them taken care of. That sucks.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009


    Job Recruiters

    I'm never super excited talking to job recruiters. I understand their jobs are hard. But any job where the person is paid based on commissions makes me suspicious of that person's actions. Sales people who work on commission don't want you to buy something and return it, but other than that they get rewarded for selling you things that you keep. It doesn't matter much beyond that. Like whether you need it, whether a cheaper product would be as good or better etc.

    So in general I make the assumption that someone working on a commission isn't looking out for me. They're trying to maximize how much money they make for their time.

    Job recruiters work in the same kind of commissioned way usually. Some are employees of companies. And that's awesome. But most, at least that call me, work on some kind of commission basis. Maybe they get a flat fee for filling a position, or a percentage of your hourly rate if you're contracting etc. I updated my resume on today and got a bunch of email and calls from recruiters. Overall that's nice. I like to feel wanted. But a lot of the time the recruiters have no idea what I'm good at, what I like, or sometimes what city I'm in. They just want to fill some position and saw a couple keywords on my resume. It's weird.

    Today was my first, I think, experience getting a call from recruiters in India. At first I thought it was just someone with a fantastically thick accent who was calling locally even though his caller ID came out weird looking "+40 890 791 13." The number was intended to look like "+408 907-9113," but my iPhone changed the formatting because of the +. I did a quick Google search while we were on the phone and figured out he was calling from India. Anyway, the job he described sounded good, but overall the experience was a little sketchy. I'm still suspicious of the whole thing. I spoke with him, sent him my resume, and then he had his manager call me. Next I'm supposed to get a call from (I assume another recruiter) at some US-based recruiting company.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009


    The Yucatan

    I paid a company ~$600 to restore a crashed hard drive of mine. It had all our honeymoon pictures and more on it. I'm a lot better about doing backups now... Anyway I need to start gettin' some value out of this rescued drive so here's a story with some pictures from the trip.

    Kelly and I went to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico for our honeymoon. We have some great stories and pictures. But overall if you asked either of us we'd primarily say how it was really really humid there. Also. Small towns are boring after a few hours.

    We started off in Cancun because it was easy to fly there. We stayed at some big hotel which was okay, but really we wanted to see Mayan ruins and other cool stuff. We exclusively rode on buses from city to city. It was cheap and avoided our enormous fear of driving in Mexico. Plus the delicious (super strong) smell of strawberries was a frequent feature. :) Anyway, we left Cancun for small cities and towns, like Merida. Eventually we finished up all of that and flew to Mexico City.

    Mexico City was really fun. Tons of cool things to see. A 24-hour Churros & Chocalate place that h ad been there for like 70 years. It was amazing. A guy on the street was doing cool oil paintings on CDs. There were tons of people, things to see and great food. Anyway, I'll post more stories and pictures another time. Today's quick story is about Merida.

    There wasn't a lot to see in Merida. We covered the touristy stuff (I think a cenote and maybe that was it) in a few hours. We were bored and looking for a bakery. Kelly and I like to scout out bakeries and barber shops or weird salons in foreign countries. I don't know why. Although baked goods are good. I mean... they have "Good" in the name, right? And I like to get my hair cut. We didn't find a great bakery, but man oh man we found a fantastic barber shop. See the pictures to the right... This time I didn't get a haircut, but I did ask the barber to give me shave. My barber-related Spanish is not-so-good.

    I showed the barber I wanted him to get rid of my whole beard. He had a straight razor which was kind of scary. And I wondered how clean it was. Good times. More importantly... he gave me a mustache like I never had before. I didn't want a mustache but I thought I'd see how it came out. Pretty funny is the answer there. One advantage was that from that day on strangers ALWAYS thought we were from Europe instead of from the US. Cultural differences are weird. Guy with kind of weird beard = From US. Guy with kind of weird mustache = Clearly European.

    Kelly liked it. Or at least she said she liked it. I have a conspiracy theory that she actually advises me to dress or shave in ways that make me look crazy so other women won't even look at me. Well, maybe they'd just look in horror. I made it three days before I had to get rid of it.

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