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Archive for November, 2003

Dellspeak

Dell is going to stop using tech support in India.

“Weisblatt would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction, but some U.S. customers have complained that Indian support operators are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.”

I am in full agreement with that statement. Hopefully this change will generate some more local jobs.

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Deer John…

Today was a real crappy day. Surprisingly, I’m in a good mood. Elise and I were beat out of buying a gorgeous house. We are still really bummed about it. Johnny came and picked me up for Tae Kwon Do tonight. In the middle of my bitching about the house we almost had, we hit a deer at approximately 50 mph. We were both terrified for 20 seconds or so. A few profanities were let loose. The weirdest part was that we both didn’t see the deer until impact. It came out from the brushy median in a flash. We both agreed that we could see it so vividly when it happened. I could see the deer’s eyes. The gross part was when I saw the antlers snap off during the ‘boom’. After the initial impact, we lost site of the deer. John let up on the brakes enough not to swerve into the other lane of traffic and to slow to a stop. A few moments later, the deer came falling from the sky and onto the road in front of us. We guesstimated that it flew 10-12 feet straight into the air.

John was pretty upset – who could blame him, he busted up his car two days before Thanksgiving. We couldn’t help but laugh though. Not because we killed a deer, but because this sort of thing just happens to us. John and I were driving around on a country road one afternoon in his old VW Beetle. We came to a dead end. Johnny put the car in reverse, we began backing up and both banged our heads on the car’s ceiling as we drove over his rear bumper. We still don’t know how the hell that happened!

Another time we were ‘motor surfing’ with John’s little brother, Evan, Philip and my girlfriend-at-the-time. John was driving while Philip was motor surfing (riding a skateboard while hanging on to the back of my Mom’s Audi). Philip decided to pull around to the side of the car when he slipped, went under the car and we ran over his leg. Luckily nothing happened.

And on another occasion, John and I were leaving a party. John was driving (notice a pattern here?) John pulled out of the driveway, thinking he was going to merge onto the main street. Instead, forgetting that this main street was perpendicular to the driveway, drove straight ahead and we nose-dived into the ditch across the cross street. That was the only time I really got mad at him.

I had to rib Johnny a little bit tonight. I asked him why he couldn’t have gotten at 8-point. The one we got was only a 6.

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Picasa

Before we buy an iBook and I become inundated with iLife, I thought I’d try a robust photo organization application for Windows. After a quick search I downloaded Picasa. Seems pretty cool so far. I’ll play around with it a little more tonight on my home computer, see how it works with our Canon S400 and if it’s worth $29.

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We’re getting this house, damnit

I finally had a house dream last night. Very rarely do I remember my dreams. I’m thinking this is a sign.

You see, we made an offer on a house that we really like on Sunday night. Last night we found out that an offer has been made by another buyer. We upped our offer by a few thousand dollars in hopes that ours would be considered first. I think we’re in a good position as we’ve already been preapproved for a home loan, are willing to pay for a survey and all closing costs.

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I hate house shopping

I’m generally a laid back and nice guy. I don’t let many things get to me. Only in a plaid mood would I stab my computer with a screwdriver. There are only two things that really get my blood boiling. One of those being when strangers sit across from me in a restaurant. The other is house shopping.

Elise and I set a goal to have a house by January. That wasn’t really anything written in stone, but just a goal. We set that goal when we moved back to Austin this January. We figured we could save a good chunk of change in a year. We did just that. The lease on our apartment is up in January. Perfect time to buy a house, right?

We’ve been driving around by ourselves and shopping online. Recently we’ve had our agent take us to look at houses. The hard core looking where you actually go into the house. The weekend before last we found a house that we liked and thought we could afford. Based on our research, we made an offer on the house. The sellers counter-offered by dropping their price by $900. We quickly realized that they weren’t going to budge. Neither were we. After a quick reevaluation of our finances, we decided that we really didn’t need to pay that price for a house anyway. We were upset. We lost a lot of sleep due to the anticipation and eventually, the let down.

Della (our agent) immediately sent us a ton of new listings the very next day. Elise was swamped at work and it was my job to narrow the 40+ homes down to ten. This was stressful for you humble narrator. I carefully chose the houses that I liked best and the ones that I felt Elise would like as well. One really stuck out in my mind – this based on photos and a description. We looked at nine or ten houses on Saturday. We both fell in love with that one house.

To make a long story short, we made an offer on this house on Sunday evening. Della called the listing agent and left him a message telling him that she faxed our offer. We didn’t hear anything until 8 p.m. last night. The listing agent told Della that there was another offer that had been put on the house. He didn’t indicate if that offer came in before or after ours. Elise and I really wanted this house, so we upped our offer by a few thousand dollars.

Elise called me today and told me that the sellers are going with the other offer. Apparently the other buyers are paying the majority in cash. I’m pretty pissed. Elise and I both have a feeling that this listing agent wasn’t very ethical in this situation. There’s a little more detail behind that statement, but I’m done thinking about it. Time to move on. As everyone has been telling us “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be…”

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House shopping and loads of Tex Mex leftovers

I rushed home from work on Friday and cleaned the apartment for most of the night. Every once in a while I have to clean so I can remember why I don’t like cleaning. I made the process more palatable by throwing on my headphones and shuffling all of my Tool albums on the iPod. After four hours of cleaning, I took the trusty Shadow out to gather manly things. I first went to Hollywood Video and rented Terminator 3 and The Italian Job. Next I went to the Diamond Shamrock for beer. I went home, watched Terminator 3, drank beer and scratched myself while sitting in my clean apartment.

Elise came home from work around midnight with approximately 972 lbs. of crab rolls, mini chimichangas and chicken flautas. We had to throw the chimichangas and flautas away, but froze most of the crab rolls. We stayed up until 2 a.m. or so, just talking out on the balcony.

We woke up early on Saturday. I took a chimichanga-caked sheetpan to the dumpster because our apartment smelled like El Arroyo. Elise had to get the door for me on my way out because I was toting 938 lbs. or stale, fried Tex-Mex appetizers. Really. I walked back from the dumpsters to find out that I had been locked out of my apartment and Elise was taking a shower.

I hung out outside for 15 minutes or so and then started banging on the door. Elise finally opened the door for me. I was pretty upset. That made Elise upset. Then we went and looked at houses with Della for five hours. The whole time Elise and I were giving each other the silent treatment. Quite counter productive when you’re house shopping with your spouse.

I finally showed Elise the bulging biceps I had acquired by carrying half a ton of greasy leftovers. She giggled at me, curtsied and we danced like those goons in the movie Grease. We went home, Elise took a nap and went to look at more houses. I stayed home and started reading a book. My parents called. We talked about houses. Elise came home shortly thereafter. She talked to my parents about houses. I went into the office and ripped a few more CDs. I talked to Riley about houses. Riley went onto the balcony and talked to my parents about houses.

Elise and I got up on Sunday and looked at houses. We called Della and had her drive out to show us a couple more houses in a neighborhood that we’re eyeing. We got home just as the sun was going down. Elise made a really good cheese and potato soup. We watched The Italian Job and went to bed.

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My computer made my hit list

I recently purchased a 52X CD burner on eBay. I bought it because my 2X burner wasn’t really cutting the mustard. The installation took me all of five minutes. I started ripping some CDs using iTunes when I suddenly received an XP error, something to the effect of “Drive E: write error”. I clicked My Computer and noticed that my C drive existed, but my 30GB E and 120GB F drives weren’t showing up.

“Hmmm…” thought I. So I restarted my computer. All three hard drives were there. I started ripping another CD. After the first song ripped, I got the same error. I restarted again. Same thing happened.

I’m not usually a violent person, but something clicked and I kicked the ever living hell out of my computer. I mean hard. I was livid. I went East Side on my PC tower. I threw a couple gang signs and even tried to stab the side of my computer with a screwdriver. Seriously. I am soooo pissed at my computer right now. For the past six weeks I haven’t even wanted to sit down in front of it because I wind up having to fix something – or I have to ship it off to my Mom who has the patience (and lack of a gang sign repertoire) to work on it.

Anyway – I pulled out the 52X CD burner and put my old one back in. Things work normally again but what a pain that was. Now I have a CD burner that I can’t use. I’m really looking forward to getting an iBook. I’ve always thought that I’d remain biplatform if I were to own a Macintosh but the way things are looking, I just might have to switch.

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Home buying news

Life has been stressful here recently… Elise and I went house shopping with Della this past Sunday. We found a house that we really liked in the neighborhood we really like. We made an offer on the house Monday afternoon. We made an appointment to meet with a mortgage broker on Tuesday. On Monday night, the sellers of the house counter offered by reducing their price by $900. Yes, $900.

We decided to just stop. Without even really discussing it, we both agreed that we’re going to continue living below our means. I think it’s a husband and wife ESP-type thing. Even after having talked with another broker and being nearly convinced that we could pay more than we wanted to, we still didn’t do it. We were trigger happy. Although we haven’t slept well all week, we’ve still been able to “sleep on it”.

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Fixed computer, hot wings and houses

Well I finally got my computer back. What was wrong? Wrong boot sequence. It was booting the floppy drive first versus the CD ROM. It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve had access to a computer at home. Now I’m going to have to spend all weekend installing software. I’ve been itching to play with my new Pinnacle Studio AV capture card. I also want to re-rip all of our CDs using iTunes.

Elise and I met my parents in La Grange last night so we could pick up the computer. We had dinner at Boss’ Steak House. My parents and Elise all ordered hamburger steaks. I ordered a tough and overcooked filet mignon. I drew the short straw (and most expensive) of the meals.

In other news – last Friday Elise and I met John and Christine along with some other friends at the Broken Spoke. After being in Austin for almost 10 years, I’d never set foot in this landmark. I don’t regularly listen to country music so there’s really no reason why one might find me in there.

Elise and I drove to Bastrop on Saturday for the computer hand off to my parents. We ate barbecue at Cartright’s (great food) for lunch and tooled around Wal Mart for an hour or so. Elise and I drove back to Austin and decided to go to Kohl’s so yours truly could get a new pair of black jeans. I bought black jeans. And black dress slacks, a pair of khakis, a sweater, new shoes, a hat and gloves. After having been out all day, we decided to go home and have a quiet night alone. I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Elise conked out on the couch and I watched a horrible episode of Saturday Night Live.

We both woke up early on Sunday. I promised John and Christine that I would make hot wings for them. Elise had to go to work for a couple hours so she dropped my off at J & C’s on her way. John and I made some pretty potent hot wings. We were in the kitchen for quite a while. During that time, Elise and Christine went house shopping. After eating, Elise and I stayed for a couple more hours, hung out in the back yard and tried to figure out what we’re going to do as far as buying a house. We’re still not sure. I’m thinking about pawning it all off onto fate.

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Computer withdrawels and house shopping

I’m going on three weeks without a home computer. I’ve gnawed my fingertips down to bloody stumps. I’ve been huffing a non-toxic Elmer’s® glue stick. I’ve found myself weeping while curled up in the fetal position in our home office. Ordinarily I would e-mail my glue stick dealer when my supply is low but have now resorted to using this strange, wall mounted device manufactured by Uniden for communication. I’m hoping my computer will be fixed by next week.

What’s really killing me is that I can’t manage our finances by my normal means. I use a combination of Quicken, our credit union’s website and my checkbook to keep track of our money. I’m anal about this. I have my system – I know where every red cent is and where it’s going.

In other news – Della, our Realtor, took us to look at houses for the first time last night. Elise saw a couple houses in a neighborhood that she really likes and wanted to see the insides. We looked at four homes. The fourth one was the best as it had a beautifully manicured yard, but the house itself we couldn’t tolerate. The other three houses aren’t worth mentioning. They’re all older homes in older neighborhoods. Elise and I decided that we now want to look in new neighborhoods.

We now have the money now to put down on a house and pay closing costs. We told ourselves in January that we wanted to be in a house by next January. That’s two months away. Even after we find and fall in love with a house (who knows how long that will be) we know it will take at least a couple months to actually close. Couple that with John and Christine’s offer on a house being accepted earlier this week and a notice I received on our apartment door yesterday stating that come January, when our lease is up, we can sign a six month lease that will only raise our rent by $200 per month! Or we could pay month to month and our rent only increases by $250! Call within the next fifteen minutes and we’ll throw in a free kick in the groin!

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iTunes crashes Windows 2000 Professional

Apple iTunes

I’ve been hearing that iTunes for Windows is crashing machines running Windows 2000 Professional. This happened to a friend of mine today. We work together and both use Win2000. I downloaded iTunes the minute it was released a couple weeks ago. It installed fine for me and has worked great since. Great so much that with the recent purchase of an iPod, my recent PC problems, seeing Panther in action, an AirPort bribe from John and using iTunes, I’ve decided to save my money and purchase an iBook.

So my friend’s PC wouldn’t boot after installing iTunes. A trip over to a few forums and Apple’s website gave me this:

Symptom

A computer with Windows 2000 does not start up after installing iTunes for Windows.

Products affected

Windows 2000
iTunes for Windows 4.1

Solution

Start up the computer while holding down the F8 key.

From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu, choose Last Known Good Configuration.

Press Enter. If other screens appear, press Enter until Windows continues to start up.

Download and install iTunes for Windows version 4.1.1 from the iTunes download page (http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/).

Restart the computer when prompted to do so.

That solution didn’t work for me. I’m not guaranteeing what I did will work for you, but this is the method that got Mickey’s computer back up and running:

Start up the computer and wait until you’re prompted to press F8, then do so. I tried holding down F8 while the computer booted and I received a keyboard error and then the computer froze.

From the Windows 2000 Advanced Options menu, choose Safe Mode (not with networking or command prompt).

Press Enter. If other screens appear, press Enter until Windows continues to start up.

Go eat a sandwich. Really. After numerous tries and resorting to cold boots, I finally let the computer hang while I went to my desk and ate a sandwich. After being hung on the blue Windows logo boot screen for approximately five minutes, it finally loaded windows.

Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs.

Download and install iTunes for Windows version 4.1.1 from the iTunes download page (http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/).

Restart the computer when prompted to do so.

Mickey’s computer is back to normal after an hour of trying to boot in Safe Mode. I don’t know why iTunes works on my Windows 2000 machine. I’m glad it does though.

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Computer’s still down, Halloween 2003

My home computer is still up on blocks. I can’t get Windows XP to install. Well, it installs itself, but when the computer reboots, I get that wonderful greeting: PRIMARY MASTER HARD DRIVE FAIL. I called my Mom, a.k.a. The Oracle of PC Hardware Configuration last night and hit her up to fix it for me. Hopefully I can have Elise meet my parents halfway to their house to give my mom the computer. In the meantime, it’s going on three weeks of not having a computer at home. What really stinks is that I just bought a Pinnacle Studio AV capture card and wanted to start editing videos again. I also recently installed iTunes and was really looking forward to creating some new playlists, ripping some CDs and retagging a lot of our mp3s.

In other news – I had a good time this past weekend. John and Christine took me to a Halloween party on Friday night. I was going to go as Josh Janicek but was quickly convinced that I should be a carefully sculpted living replica of Mira Sorvino.

Tommy and I hung out on Saturday. This just after UT beat Nebraska. 31-7. Sorry, that was for someone elise. I mean Elise. I mean else, someone else. After hanging out at my apartment for a while, Tommy and I went to Kohl’s and later met up with Jeremy at Chili’s for dinner. I want my baby back baby back baby back baby back. Don’t get the baby back ribs and Chili’s. I could have saved my money and bought some beef jerky or just gnawed on a twig. We convened at Tommy’s for boxing on HBO. After boxing, Tommy, Ann Marie, Lisa and I went to a costume party. It was okay. Elise showed up, we stayed for an hour or so then headed home. Elise ate a piece of toast that I made for her for dinner.

I woke up on Sunday, rode the trusty shadow out to Dripping Springs, then to Toys ‘R’ Us, then to work to finish a differential file server backup. Elise and I stayed in most of the day and watched football.

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Cavities and gut rot

Life’s been all around kind of crappy as of late. A guy was walking out of my office building as I was returning from a dentist appointment and lunch with Elise. He said: “Hi, how are you today?” Instinctively we always say “Fine, how’re you?” Why do we do that? Why don’t we tell the truth?

“Actually, not so well, since you asked. I made some 9 layer dip on Sunday that’s taken it’s toll on my old gutty wuts. It’s become painful to do common things such as walk and breathe. I just got back from the dentist and my gums are killing me. You see, I’m prone to plaque build-up below my gum line and the hygienist had to work double time on my grill with that Medieval hook thing. On top of that, I have a cavity and have to go back to the dentist on Monday to have it filled. And for the cherry: I don’t have dental insurance. Or medical for that matter. So now I’m having to look forward to riding my motorcycle, all paranoid-like to the dentist on Monday to be subjected to a shrieking drill while afraid of getting into any sort of accident that would make for a hefty out-of-pocket emergency room visit all while having gut rot that could halt a rabid rhinoceros. So if you wouldn’t mind just shoving me into a protective bubble, rip all of my teeth out and toss me a magazine and some toilet paper – that just might get me through the day.”

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