netbooks

I’ve been thinking of a netbook for the family room and/or for carrying around (especially on vacations), but I’ve been nervous about a few things, in particular the small screen and small keyboard.

Now I trip over an article on TechCrunch: Three Reasons Why Netbooks Just Aren’t Good Enough and two of the three reasons are the screen size and the keyboard! (The third is that they’re underpowered, especially if you’re stuck with one of the Vista-based ones).

I haven’t actually had a chance to put my fingers on one yet, either. I think I’ll wait a while longer…

posted at 8:56 pm on Saturday, November 29, 2008 in Personal | Comments (2)
  1. David Brake says:

    Arrington is such a whiner. The things he complains about are kinda obvious aren’t they? And some seem to be just his problem – eg not being able to scroll down without looking down at the kbd/mousepad. And I can’t believe 80% of a regular-sized keyboard isn’t easier to use than a blackberry-sized one for reasonable values of finger-size. As for speed you’re clever enough to install and use a version of Linux that would be sufficiently stripped down to be useable, no? Then again I seem to remember you’re not a big desktop linux fan…

  2. chk says:

    I’m a fairly heavy desktop user, and so my dislike of desktop Linux reflects that. Audio doesn’t work properly, the UI is inconsistent (at best, and unusable at worst :), and so on as reflected in many rants on the ‘net. It’s been getting better and better, but usability has always been open-source’s Achilles Heel.

    A netbook is a different beast, though; for me, it’s really a portable browser, with some local storage for simple documents and things like photo backup. And a Linux-based OS (especially something like Splashtop) is perfect for this environment, where Windows would be over-kill (and too bloated to run on a small device).

    I was already aware of the limitations of the screen and keyboard; I’m just not yet convinced that I would be able to put up with them. And for casual use, I don’t really want to spend $400CDN :)

internet takes over real world

The cartoon network managed to rick-roll the Macy’s parade

(via Wil Wheaton).

posted at 9:13 am on Friday, November 28, 2008 in Humour, Links | Comments (1)
  1. Nita says:

    Yah – I saw this in a few places yesterday. Utterly brilliant for me, though I suspect confused the hell out of a lot of the non-internet savvy people…

rogers update

I appear to be back online.

  • A technician came by my house on Thursday, spent less than 30 seconds “testing” my line, and then left without telling me anything about the neighbourhood-wide problem.
  • A call center tech was able to tell me on Friday that they had isolated a “noise problem” in the area.
  • A technician visiting the a neighbour was able to tell me that there was a signal problem in our six-house area, but he also didn’t know anything about the week-long, ongoing neighbourhood-wide problem.
  • We had two analog cable outages on Friday, (recorded by my PVR, of course :) Since then my Internet connection has been rock-solid (other than my router locking up on Saturday night :).

I’d like to believe that it is unusual to have so many people working on the same problem and yet not talking to each other, but as I work for a large software company, I’m aware that this is the norm for most large organizations… *sigh.

posted at 11:05 am on Monday, November 24, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments Off on rogers update

overused cliches

I am dismayed by the number of these phrases I use…

posted at 10:59 am on Monday, November 24, 2008 in Personal | Comments Off on overused cliches

firefox 3 back button

The UI controls for Forward/Back in the new Firefox are strange. For a long time I believed that you couldn’t skip back multiple pages, something that I found extremely annoying! This finally bothered me enough that I performed a Google search, and found Firefox 3 – Back Button UI Annoyance which explains that that little arrow next to the Forward button is actually a history menu for both Forward and Back!

counter-intuitive, indeed…

posted at 5:58 pm on Saturday, November 22, 2008 in Rants | Comments Off on firefox 3 back button

hospital visit

My son was knocked off his chair by a friend at school today. He ended up rolling under a table; when he tried to stand up, he bounced the back of his head off the underside of the table.

He was still feeling nauseated and dizzy an hour or so later, and had added shaky vision, so we trundled him off to the hospital. The wait was surprisingly short given the snow on the roads today, but still, by the time we saw the doctor he was feeling fine. The doctor ran him through a whole battery of basic neurological tests, and he passed (that’s my boy! :). They let us go with a warning instructions for head injuries.

He’s supposed to take it easy tomorrow, then try relatively mild exercise on Friday; if he can tolerate that without problems, then he’s allowed to play hockey on Saturday.

By the time we arrived at school to collect his sister, everyone was talking about how my son’s friend had “knocked him out” in class this morning! I love how rumors travel through a population like a school or an office… :-)

posted at 6:32 pm on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Personal | Comments Off on hospital visit

rogers

My internet connection has been playing yo-yo this week:

The staff at the call center are all very apologetic, but they can’t tell me what is wrong; why the connection keeps going down for hours. I’m afraid that what is happening is that every time it goes down, a different technician pushes the reset button, but nobody is correlating the multiple outages. On the other hand, they say that it’s always a neighborhood wide digital outage (which would include Rogers Home Phone and Rogers Digital TV), so I hope someone is paying attention…

They gave me a $10 credit. My employer pays for my internet, but at least Rogers is getting a little less money this month :-).

posted at 4:03 pm on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Personal | Comments (1)
  1. Ron says:

    Hey, I think we have some software we could sell them to help out, eh Harald? ;-)

I hate insurance companies

I carry insurance on my vehicles because of liability issues, because I want protection from catastrophic damage, and because I’m legally required to (in that order :-).

Two weeks ago my truck was hit from behind by a taxi while I was stopped at a pedestrian crossing. The guy hit me at an angle, so the right front corner of his car hit the left-center of the rear bumper. My truck doesn’t have any wishy-washy fiberglass or Styrofoam; it has a steel bumper, welded to the frame, with a plastic wrap-around cover.

His damage was a badly mangled right front bumper; he probably also cracked his headlight cover. My damage was a couple of new scuff-marks and a small, cosmetic fold in the plastic. I won that argument :).

Unfortunately, the taxi driver took off before giving me his drivers license and before taking any of my info. We had his insurance information, but that’s for the owner of the taxi, not the driver. And the insurance binder he showed us was expired. There was enough suspect about the whole incident that I decided to report the issue to my insurance company and the police, just to cover my butt (see “liability” above).

I took the truck to both the insurance company’s repair shop and my dealership, because I wanted to make sure there was no structural damage; it’s always possible that he cracked a weld on the bumper, for example. Both reported that there is no damage to the car, other than the plastic bumper cover and a $23 reflector. The cover cannot be repaired; it must be replaced, which they estimate at $932. I tow a trailer during the summer; once or twice a year I back into the trailer hitch, adding to the dings and scuffs in this plastic cover, so as far as I’m concerned, there’s absolutely no point in wasting everyone’s time (and money!) replacing the cover. It’s cosmetic damage, and even counts as “normal wear and tear” under my lease (I asked).

One reason I pay a god-awful amount of money for insurance is that car repairs are so expensive these days. Gone are the days of buffing out dings and dents in steel panels; now it’s all plastic composites, fibreglass, and large, wrap-around panels. So, thinks I, why contribute to this sad state of affairs by performing a useless $900 repair?

My insurance company has just informed me that if I don’t do the repair, they’ll drop my coverage. They say that if I have another accident, they can’t distinguish new and pre-existing damage. This despite the number of photographs taken by at least five different people in the process, and the damage report and estimate from the cops and from the repair shop.

All this for an accident I normally wouldn’t have bothered reporting… *sigh.

posted at 11:52 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Personal, Rants | Comments (5)
  1. Jeff K says:

    A pickup truck’s tire flew off on the 400 and landed on the 407 immediately in front of me one fine morning this past August. It made a horrific noise at 100km/h hitting my roof, coming, by my calculations, within 3 milliseconds of entering the cabin instead of just wrecking the roof. The cop said it was a non-reportable (i.e. <$900), but I insisted it be reported, and in the end, the insurance company was out $5,000. Despite this, I got the distinct impression by what was said that dropping $5k on a near-fatal was nothing to the insurance company and I was treated rather well.

    Actually, the dump-truck behind drove over the wheel after it hit me and then 4 lanes of traffic created a huge cloud of blue smoke behind me as they all came to emergency stops while the wheel rolled across all lanes in front of them. Lucky dogs, they had more than 250 milliseconds to deal with the thing. I suppose the insurers did get off easy on that one.

    See, aren’t you glad? I stayed alive by being cool for 250 milliseconds and doing the “right” thing, and the insurance companies saved millions in compensation, so between us, they’re way ahead.

    Hm, but is ducking your head to be right up against the steering wheel airbag the “right” thing? I guess we’ll never know.

  2. Ron says:

    Wow, now that is one twisted insurance company. Unless there is something different about Canada in this regard I don’t expect you can freely change insurance, right? And the new insurance company doesn’t come out and do a detailed inspection on your car, right? So they wouldn’t know about pre-existing damage …

    Last year we had a storm and I started a claim with the insurance company because I didn’t know how bad the damage would be and didn’t want to risk waiting a few weeks until I knew for sure. But while I was talking to them I asked if I could tell them to “forget the whole thing” later and they said no problem canceling a claim. Which is what I ended up doing.

  3. chk says:

    To prevent fraud, all of the insurance companies up here share information with each other, including claims histories, so I’m SOL on that account. Also, I’m with an insurance company that offers HP employees a 20% group discount, so I’m locked in, at least for a few more months! :)

  4. chk says:

    Jeff, I’m glad you’re visiting here again! You always have the best stories to share!

  5. jim says:

    In WA state insurance companies share information. When I started my new insurance with Farmers’, my agent Michelle L. found a couple of claims showing $0 paid. It was from me calling and asking about damages and coverage. To prevent problems, she had to come out and take pictures of my truck to show it was in good condition.

Best Buy reward zone

I just called Best Buy and canceled my “Reward Zone” membership. I understand the deal; I sell them my personal information and shopping habits. But they screwed up.

The program is set up so that earned points become gift certificates at certain thresholds. The certificates are only redeemable in store, of course (best buy’s website sucks grade-A rotten eggs, but that’s another rant :-). The problem for me is that they automatically issue gift certificates as soon as you have accumulated enough points, and the certificates expire. Worse, the certificate expires before the points would have!

So basically, they gave me a bunch of points, and then stole them away. Best Buy agreed to purchase my privacy, and then used fine print and idiotic terms to renege on the deal. Customer service was no help, of course. So, good-bye account! It’s not like it matters anyway; I would have to spend $400/yr at best buy to get a $5 reward (that’s 1.25%), and I certainly don’t intend to spend that kind of money on consumer electronics anytime soon!

(The guys at Chapters/Indigo keep sending me useless “store-only” certificates too, but unlike Best Buy, the iRewards card also gives me a 5% discount on all of my purchases, including sale items!)

posted at 10:07 am on Monday, November 17, 2008 in Personal | Comments (2)
  1. Nita says:

    Yup – I’ve been contemplating the same thing, for much the same reasons.

    Just haven’t had the time.

  2. Jeff K says:

    You can rant, no problem with that, but I find this one a little odd. I get a lot of those $5 gift certificates from Best Buy and I just spend them. The one I printed out last week doesn’t expire until Feb. Xmas is coming, the wife has a DVD wish list, the kids CDs, and I put “Planet of the Apes” Blu-ray box-set on my Xmas list, or boxing day list, however you want to look at it. $400 is not a lot to spend in December at Best Buy. That’s an Ape’s set, Man from Uncle, 2 Cokes and a “Mirror’s Edge”. Typical Saturday afternoon at Best Buy, actually.

    Hm, or a Wii, 2 Guitar Hero’s and a bag of chips.

    They haven’t sent me anything other than these certificates, nothing I can spot that is directed-advertising. Then again, the kids are under instructions to recycle all undressed fliers before I even see them…

    Amazon is a different story. They’re under instructions to send that data to the government, I believe, and I am receiving heavily directed advertising (when on their site). Apparently I like “Hannah Montana” & “Galaxies at High Redshift” ads on the same page. Aside from CBSA opening a lot of my international mail the government doesn’t seem to have done much with the info.

    Kind of a “We’re watching you! And if our employees knew how to read, you’d be in big trouble!” sort of thing.

elections

As a friend wrote, I never expected to see anyone but a white male elected President of the United States in my lifetime. (That post is friend-locked, so only some of you can see it, sorry).

On the other hand, I still don’t expect to see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. And until last week, I would have given better odds on the Leafs… :-)

posted at 1:23 pm on Wednesday, November 05, 2008 in Current Events, Humour, Politics, Random Thoughts | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I thought that someone who tries on women’s clothing without ever looking at the price tags was a shoe-in for a high office in the United States, but unfortunately it was not clear that Paulson could continue on under Palin.