i feel like a new man

Wow, it’s been a crazy couple of months.  I’ve been settling into my job, (which I am so happy at), I’ve been wrapping up some projects, and I’ve been finishing up with some clients AND trying to develope some new business leads.

My job is going great.  One of the things we were really lacking, (my department) was a robust ticketing system.   Someone suggested RT::Request Tracker.  I had never heard of it before, and I am very impressed.  The best thing, I believe, is that every browser works with it, and works well.  It’s all Perl based so one can grock it fairly quickly.  But it’s also very powerful and configureable. It was a bitch to install it since it required so many Perl modules, but I stuck with it and got it going.

I might have mentioned before that I am a big fan of Drupal.  We set up a departmental portal recently using Drupal.  I like it.  I used Drupal for our son’s school and was very impressed with it:

One of the things I would like to try to promote is the social networking tools like Drupal or Twitter at work.  I would like to have a departmental blog.  I feel it is very important to communicate the work we are doing, (which is nothing short of excellent).  I’m not sure how my reports will feel about it.  We’ll just have to see.  If you got some ideas or thoughts around bring social networking into the office, please let me know.

On the productivity side of things, I’ve been loving Remember the Milk.  They just release a Firefox add-on that integrates with Gmail.  It’s pretty slick and I use it quite a bit.  I see they also released some clients, but I haven’t had a chance to monkey around with them, yet.

I also spent some time tending to my long neglected WordPress installation.  I need to read documentation more closely.  I got my tags issues all straightened out and things are humming along nicely.

where/how do i fit in?

I saw a link to a great post in my Twitter stream this morning. It triggered one of those “a-ha” sort of moments. I just got up, got a fresh cup of coffee, my daughter is sitting on my lap drawing on some business card and I have one of those rare moments of clarity. I’m going to be thinking about this all day.

I’ve recently begun to follow Chris Brogan on Twtter. I had subscribed to his RSS feed for some time, but recently I wanted to follow more people on Twitter. Sometime between when I went to bed and when I woke up, he posted a URL for an excellent blog post:

As some of you know, I am between jobs right now and have had some “identity crisis” with trying to determine just how I fit in, or what I should fit myself in. I have a pretty extensive background. In my “professional timeline” I’ve been a tech support rep, manager in said tech support department, internet abuse investigator, senior unix admin, senior unix engineer, manager, director, principal engineer. In my “personal timeline” I’ve been a unix and linux enthusiast and hobbyist, social media geek, (I’d be hard pressed to be an “expert” but I sure seem to know way more than 90% of the people out there), hacker, I can explain complex technical things in a single bound, run servers in my basement, live, breath and sleep all things internet related.

I recently interviewed at a great company here in Atlanta and finally got to meet with their CTO. It was a great experience and we definitely spoke the same language. But they were looking for someone who had specific, Exchange 2007 experience and I completely understood why. But the CTO said something really interesting. He said, “I’ve got no doubt you could become an expert in about three months, let’s face it at some level if you understand the commonalities, it’s all the same but we need someone with that experience yesterday.” He was right. I have no doubt I could become that expert they needed and it was gratifying that he recognized that. But in the end of the day, I am still looking for a job.

Since I have been “out of the office” I’ve been overwhelmed at how un-technical most people are. I don’t mean this as a criticism. I was really surprised. I thought almost everyone would be jumping on Twitter once they heard about it, or most of the people I knew would be on Facebook. Nope, it’s a different world.

Probably the epoch of my revelation was when I attended a “LinkedIn Training.” Don’t laugh, I actually found it really informative. As part of my severance package, I got access to an outplacement agency. It was probably one of the more valuable things I got. I had been at the same company for 12 years and needed some of the resources they offered. Anyways, I decided to take the “LinkedIn Training” since it was free.

Of the 30+ people in the room, only maybe six of us were actually already a member of LinkedIn and I had by far the largest amount of connections. No one had heard of Twitter, or Facebook, or had a blog, or used the tools Google had. It was quite enlightening.

In another class at the outplacement agency, we started to talk about having an “online identity.” This was wholly unknown to most everyone. I had begun, earlier in the year to actively groom my online identity. Up to that point, I was decidedly trying to stay more or less anonymous on the Internet. My days as a paranoid abuse investigator and sys admin must have somehow jaded my outlook. So, I began telling my other classmates about my blog, Twitter, and Facebook, and how it could give a potential employer more information about you that might not come across in a resume or an interview. I told them about using Grandcentral as a voice mail box and call screening tool, (Yes, Mr. Pabian… we think you’d be a great commission-only insurance salesman…), and how I use Google docs to keep my resumes so I could get to them whenever or where ever I get a Internet connection. The biggest shock, to me anyways, was their reaction. They got it, they began to understand. Some of them, literally had their mouths dropped open. It was kind of cool, actually, to be seen as an expert.

In following up with some of them, some of them really jumped in with both feet. They have Grandcentral numbers, they are on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It was cool. I actually offered to teach a class at the outplacement agency and they seemed interested.

Back when the lay-offs happened, our friend Lance Weatherby wrote a post for the casualties. It was insightful and helpful:

Lance’s advice, “You need to decide what you want to be” I am finding it to be very true, but hard to put into practice. My background, interests, and expertise make me want to be more than just a linux admin. I want to be creative, innovative, and help change the world. I can be a leader, innovator, and creator. So far, what I’ve found is, to scratch this itch, consulting seems to be the best way to approach this. I’m just inexperienced at this point with being a consultant and have some angst.

In preparing this post, I just happened to look at Chris’ post from this morning:

That’s just what I needed. Maybe this week will be more productive than I thought.

So, I begin this day with a considerable amount of food for thought. It’s going to be a good day. I am going to close with some lyrics from the Beta Band since it was playing while I typed this, and I found it encouraging:

If there’s something inside that you wanna say
Say it out loud it’ll be okay
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light
I will be your light

I Need Love, yeah
I Need Love

Okay, out of context that may sound corny. Watch the video:

do you even know what the T5 is, mon freue?

What a lame title. I wrestled with what to name this post. I also have a lot to write about. I am still in the job hunt mode and have a couple of promising interviews. I get the feeling, when it rains it pours and I seem to be more busy now than I was when I was employed. That’s cool, though, since I have learned so much and met so many cool folks over the last month. But, I do need to write about a couple of things outside tonight’s post.

  • Over at Guy Kawasaki’s blog, he posted the Avenue A Razorfish 2008 Digital Outlook Report. A lengthy but very informative read. Guy is great. I have a subscription Entrepreneur magazine where I first became aware of his columns. I follow him on Twitter and know people that know him. He’s one of my heros!
  • I’ve been hacking away on drupal and CSS. Cool stuff.
    • If you are interested on what I’ve been working on, you can check out the preview of the IIAM website here.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, (and I really do plan to post individually about the above points), I can get to what’s been burning, or itching in my mind.

My friends know that our family has a 2003 VW Eurovan GLS. We have three kids and the massive space the Eurovan allows is certainly something we enjoy. Here’s the history lesson. 2003 was the last year Volkswagen brought the Eurovan in the U.S.. In the rest of the world, the Eurovan is called either a Transporter or Caravelle. Our particular body style is referred to as the “T4.” After 2003, VW introduced the highly coveted T5 model everywhere but the U.S.. Here’s some links to support what I claim:

Over at vwvortex.com, a forum where I frequent, there is much disdain that one can not buy a T5 here in the U.S.. Here in the U.S., you have the Ford F150 as the most common vehichle, but everywhere else, if you are looking for a VW T4 or T5, you’ll be surprised to see how popular and common the VW van is everywhere.

So, I was besides myself last week when I saw a T5 in person. I posted about here on the ‘vortex:

You have no idea how this made my day. I think the number of people in the U.S. that have seen a T5 on the road here can be counted on one hand. Regardless, there is no question that German engineered high efficiency vehicles are desired here.

So, I don’t think a T5 is likely here in the ‘States anytime soon, but there are some options that are on the horizon. First, Volkswagen is supposed to launch the “Tiquan” sometime in May. Rumor has it a 40 m.p.g diesel version will be available later this year. I sent an email to our local VW dealer for confirmation but haven’t heard a thing.

I like it.

VW and Chrysler did a joint venture for a minivan. Reviews are mixed. The EV purists decry this as an obscene mockery. Personally, I try to envision how our family of five will fit into it, (for example… I recently checked out the new Honda Passport and was surprised how small the interior was compared to the Eurovan).

I’ll admit I like the look of it. I’m not crazy about the Chrysler drivetrain, but we’ll see. I want a diesel something fierce so whichever comes first, I’m more likely jump on.

So, the next question most people ask me is why do I want a VW diesel so badly? I had a 1985 Mercedes 300D, affectionately named “Gunther” (if you must know, our Eurovan is named “Klaus”). For an 1985 auto to get 24+ mpg was a real treat. I have come to love the sound of diesel engine. And if my testimony isn’t enough to sway you, the last time I checked ( and I need to double check this) the VW Jetta TDI was number three right behind the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, (both hydrids) on the EPA’s list of most efficient cars.

I’d like to close out by including a few pics of the T5 and our T4.

It should be noted that I bought new, black wheels for our van so it looks even more tougher than it does in the picture.

one too many cabanossi

Yesterday, Valentine’s day, was a good day. After I dropped off the twins at pre-school, I wanted to find the German butcher and bakery near our house. We had been going to one European butcher nearby that we loved. In fact, it’s just like I remember growing up in Chicago. Patak Meats in Austell is unbelieveable. If you haven’t been you got to. Now, rumor has it the ex-butcher from Patak went to open his own place, called Weinerz. Our German friends said they prefered it to Patak so I have been wanting to check it out.

So, I found it. I stopped by Bernhard’s, the Germany bakery and picked up a loaf of German Sourdough Rye bread. The loaf weighed about 5lbs. Then I went over to the butcher and picked up some cabanossis, German ham, and a couple of beer brautwursts. I spent less than $10.

Then to top off the German morning I was having, I went to Aldi’s to pick up some other stuff. I got home, gave my wife her roses, and we both ate cabanossi’s and had a ham sandwich with some mustard; what a great way to start the day.

But I digress. I have been spending most of my time over the last few days becoming something of Drupal expert. I have volunteered to be the webmaster for our son’s school’s website. The website has potential to be a very effective portal. The PTO, teachers, and administration want to be able to post items to the site and have blogs. I looked at Joomla for awhile and finally I happened to see Drupal mentioned somewhere. The more I read about it the more I was convinced this could provide the solution I was looking for.

The last few days, I’ve been getting into theming Drupal. I modified an existing theme using mostly some heavy CSS. Remember when I said I learn best when I have a project? So, I was surprised to see how much I’ve learned about CSS in the last three days. Being obsessed and not having a job helps, but I have learned tons. I also found a whole bunch of great resources, but not just on CSS but also web design and XHTML. It’s been a great time.

When I was in art school, I love typography. When I was in art school, it was before computers were common place. When I was in art school, the Mac Quadra 800 just came out and was over $5k. But I still loved type and type faces. I was really good at kerning and even today, I like to do my own kerning in Photoshop. So one of the things I am really excited about is doing interesting things with type utilizing CSS. I think this is going to be very exiting for me.

In my reading of SEO one of the things that is recommended against it using images for content. To put it another way, if you have text in an image, that text will not be indexed by the search engines.

In my mind, using CSS will allow me to do some of the things I enjoyed about type in the print media, but have it rendered in a web browser.

My stomach still hurts after finishing off that last cabanossi; I don’t eat like that very often.

Fedora Linux (fc8) on my new laptop… the wireless saga

I love it when a plan comes together but hate it when I can’t think of a catchy title for a post. Oh well. In my last post regarding my new laptop, things have been progressing.

My last statement in that post said something about how there is something to be said about having a Mac “just work out of the box” but I’ve seen lots of people post saying that part of the fun of Linux, is trying to get things to work. It can be downright frustrating, of course, but when it works, it works well.

My laptop is a Toshiba A215 (which I just added another 2GB of ram). It’s a great laptop. Vista works well with it. I can’t complain about that, but I’ve been wanting to run Linux full time on it. One of the quirks of this laptop is that the wireless device shows up as an usb device, which is something very strange:

[jpabian@stoshua]~% lsusb
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0bda:8197 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

This wireless device is indeed a Realtek RTL8187B. Some people have gotten it to work and others have just given up on it. Those of the people who got it to work have hardcoded the wifi settings in a config file. I wanted to have the nifty wifi-selector that “NetworkManager” provides. I don’t want to hardcode anything (like the Mac). I searched and searched and tried everything I could find to do. I found a lot of really great resources but nothing worked. This was one of the best sites:

  • Realtek Linux wireless driver project

I mean it, I was pulling my hair out. It shouldn’t be this hard. I began to be disappointed with my otherwise ideal laptop. I started to read about other wireless USB devices that work with linux. I came up with a plan. I checked out Circuit City’s, Best Buy’s, and Office Depot’s websites to see what they had on sale AND what wireless USB devices worked under linux.

One page I had found (and you know, I can’t find it now!), had a list of pretty much all the wireless USB devices and if they had kernel support or if drivers existed. But it also had a column that reported if it “worked out of the box” or not. Each of the stores I mentioned above had a Linksys on sale, AND it was reported to “work out of the box!” I was excited but also very nervous whether or not it would work. I saw a few posts around where people where having problems with. I picked up the Linksys® WUSB54GC Wireless-G USB 2.0 Network Adapter for $50 after “instant savings.”


So when the moment of truth came, I plugged in the WUSB54GC into one of my USB ports and say the following message:

Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> wlan1: Device is fully-supported using driver ‘rt73usb’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> (wlan1): exporting device as /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/Device/4
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Now managing wireless (802.11) device ‘wlan1’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Bringing up device wlan1

It worked! I didn’t have to do anything! Sure enough, NetworkManager presented me with both my wireless networks (and my neighbors’). I couldn’t believe it. It works great. It works good on the suspend and resume functions of my laptop.

Sure, I really wish that the onboard wifi worked under Linux, but from I’ve read, they’ve only just merged the driver support into the very latest kernel sources so I suspect that support will continue to get better. But for now, I’m very happy with this device.

Now, the only lingering item is sound. Fedora 8 went to using Pulse Audio for the default sound server. Sure looks good on paper, but it doesn’t work and I’m not the only one; there are several threads over at the Fedora Forums talking about it. But FC8 is still bleeding edge. It will work sooner than later, I’m sure.

I’ll save that for another post.

i love fedora

It’s been a couple of months since I had to turn in my Powerbook when I was recently let go due to downsizing.   I actually went through a sort of withdrawal as I really enjoyed using my Powerbook and was really sad to turn it in.

I had an old laptop that I installed Ubuntu on and it was my Linux Webcam server.  I liked having the webcam server on the laptop since I could move it around and easily capture the action, wherever it was.  But now I found I needed something to actually do work on while I was on the job hunt.

Now, I really liked Ubuntu, but there was something about it that left me wanting.  It was hard to explain but as best as I could put it is that it did EVERYTHING.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and I wanted something that was a little more “advanced.”  Even on my Mac, I used Fink and used an xterm  with the command line  often.  Everything on Ubuntu was just too easy.

I cut my Linux teeth I think on Debian 1.2 (I still have the CD I bought).  I used Debian for years.  At work, we used Digital Unix which became Tru64, a bsd-type of Unix.  Then, somewhere along the line, I used FreeBSD as my desktop for years… that is until I got my Mac.  Even up to that point, I used XEmacs/Gnus as my newsreader and email client for work.  At home, I read mail on my FreeBSD box and used Pine until I went to IMAP .

So, fast forward to today.  On my old crappy laptop, (with 16MB of video), I needed something to get by and I didn’t want to install WinXP since I don’t have a license.  I am also learning Ruby and relearning PHP.  So now I have a L.A.M.P. laptop and I develop anywhere the mood strikes me.  Despite the lacking power on this laptop, it was workable.  I really liked it.

I went with Fedora 7 and was in heaven.  In fact, I don’t want a Mac any more.  I want a new laptop running Fedora.  I’ll even go dual-boot with Fedora and Windows.

Fedora Linux

While I find myself in this transitional period, I feel like I am re-honing my skills with the latest flavors of Linux, learning new development skills, and learning the latest in tools.  For example, I have a subversion server that I am using.  I began using Eclipse as an IDE for Perl and PHP.  I am learning, engaged, and feeling somewhat productive.  I’ve began reading USENET again and getting back to the core parts of the Internet that I really enjoy.

I tried the various flavors of Linux before deciding on Fedora.  I tried Ubuntu of course, Gentoo, SuSe, and was going to try Solaris 10 x86 but I have that on DVD and my crappy laptop doesn’t have a DVD-Rom.

The tools that I enjoy using are:

I love it.  I’ve also been turned onto some really slick Firefox plugins.

(Note: I was going to link to the Firefox plugins but the site is down right now.)

Now, I just need to find more  quiet time to really get into it.   If you got other ideas or tools, or even methodologies you find useful, I’d love to hear them!

the unattended garden

After a most excellent weekend, my thoughts are heady and deep. Yeah, I did have a great weekend, thanks for asking. Today, on the wind down, I was listening to Ian Brown and Massive Attack. They both sound so good on my new receiver. The guy across the street let me borrow the Ian Brown CD and I was telling him how good Massive Attack was and that he should check out the “Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin. I used to forward people websites as a way to introduce people to new things. But I backed off of that since many of my reference websites have been left to wither, or as Nick Cave refers to in “Bring it on” an unattended garden.

My case in point. Check out the once awesome and mighty Massive Attack website:

When I first saw this site, I was awestruck. It was one of the more advanced and ellaborate flash sites I had seen. Now, you can’t help but be distracted by the xanax and Viagra spam. Now a days, it isn’t rocket science to block this pharmaceutical spam, but obviously no one in charge of the site gives a rats ass or even is aware of the current state.

So this brings me to my next point. For the last year, I have been cultivating an online presence. As I mentioned before, this was a conscious shift in my thinking. Up until this year, I tried to remain more or less anonymous on the Internet. Then I decided to change things around when I decided to look for a new job.

Some of the fuel for tonights post came from the latest issue of Details Magazine, (no, I would never subscribe to this myself buy my wife got me a free subscription). There was an article about networking in it. The article didn’t have anything new to me or any secret knowledge, but it was a reminder how much networking is an important activity for anyone in the job market and arguably any professional.

What does this mean? Well, if you go through the effort to have an online presence and have it mean anything, you got to care and feed and water it. Now a days, that can be a small chore. Personally, I’m on the following sites to make me look like I actually know something:

All of these are important components of what makes my online presence. Yeah, I know potential employers might be looking at this so, so I try to keep it somewhat clean, but I want to make sure it is an accurate representation of who I am. I can do that without being smarmy and cursing without due cause.

I am surprised to find out that I really enjoy this aspect of the Internet. I guess it really is like taking care of a garden and making sure it grows. You got to make an effort to keep all of it up to date. Actually, it’s not that bad if you enjoy doing it… and i do.

Keep the weeds out and make sure your online presences it lookin’ good. I’ve been at the same company for 12 years so I consider myself to be a n00b when it comes to networking, but I am getting more and more clearer on how it is all supposed to work. I love talking to people so this is a great extension on who I am. Part of it is a little about me growing out to be more of an extrovert, or at least a little outgoing.

View Jeffrey Pabian's profile on LinkedIn

a kiss of death for Mio?

Notice, I said “a kiss of death,” not “the kiss of death.”

Mio really screwed up. They made enemies for life.

If you’ve been coming here to learn about my Mio c310x and hacking it, you’ve probably either seen here or on some of the forums that Mio has been promising a map update for some time. First Mio said it would be Q1, then spring, then June, then July.

People were speculating the updates should be free or minimal in cost. Other’s said, “Hey, you got a great GPS unit for ~$150 – $200; why would you expect an update for free?” Either way, they release the map update on July 16th, I think. You had two options to get the update:

  • Find a copy at your local Circuit City for $14.95 + tax
  • Buy directly from Mio for $14.95 + $9.95 shipping and handling.

Both options are reasonable. But I’m a cheap sonuvabitch and would have gladly waited until I could find a copy locally. Many people, however, gladly ordered directly from Mio and paid the $9.95 shipping and handling fee.

Then, everything starts going downhill.

If you view the last 20 pages or so from this thread you can see what happened and continues to happen:

This reads a lesson in “How to turn off customers for life.” I’ll save you from reading the entire thread and give you the highlights:

  • Order page had many problems:
    • couldn’t handle the initial load
    • one of the domain names referred to in the “order confirmation” letter hadn’t even been registered yet; people were worried they were being phished.
    • emails to Mio bounced, again inflaming security concerns
  • Customer service is giving conflicting answers (if you can get through). Many reported getting busy signals when trying to call in, (seriously what company gives busies in this day and age?).
  • Of those folks that ordered early most got their order after four weeks, many still haven’t gotten it despite paying almost $10 for shipping.
  • Email inquiries go unanswered.

There were some people who had reported problems with the actual upgrade, but you are always going to have some hardware issues. And thankfully these people that have had problems are getting more help from the forums than the actual company.

Most people are pissed off since they feel like they paid a premium for shipping at a steep $10 when USPS Priority mail is around $4 and would have been delivered in three days. However, Mio in its wisdom shipping these DVD’s via Media Mail (from USPS):

Media Mail® service is a cost efficient way to mail books, sound recordings, recorded video tapes, printed music, and recorded computer-readable media (such as CDs, DVDs, and diskettes). Media Mail can not contain advertising except for incidental announcements of books. The maximum Lose Weight Exercise for Media Mail is 70 lbs.

The USPS website doesn’t say how long shipping something Media Mail will take. But I will say I have had books shipped this method. It’s really, really, cheap and the book took about three weeks coming from California. So the perception from the customer is “Hey, I spent $10 extra to receive my update, yet Mio sent it the cheapest, longest way possible.”

In my line of work, I’ve learned long ago that honesty is the best policy when dealing with customers. So when people call into Mio to get an update, cancel their order (since they can get it at Circuit City now), they get the run around, different answers depending on whom they talk to. They feel like they are being lied to.

The problem with the website flaking out lends the impression that Mio just doesn’t have their act together.

Now, I think the old saying, “You can have it cheap, good, or fast but not all three” is applicable here. At least the update is cheap, but it certainly wasn’t fast and seeing how Mio is treating the customers over this, I wouldn’t say it was good, either.

I can see how something like this happened. Someone there thought all of this sounded good to ship the DVD’s via Media Mail, saying the company money but not realizing how long it would take to get them in peoples hands. The customer service reps are more or less left holding the bag and are having to deal with angry customers and they might be trying to do their best in trying to appease them, but it isn’t a coordinated effort and not all the reps are telling the same story. So you got angry customers, public forums on the Internet, folks screaming to the BBB and it begins to all slide downhill.

One time, something similar happened at work. There was a major mailing that was going out to a specific group of customers. It was some software and manuals. The list of contcts was in an Excel spreadsheet and was >5,000. The spreadsheet had columns for name, house number, street, city, state, zip, etc., Someone tried to sort the column for house number, but DID NOT expand the sort to include the street name. So the house numbers got sorts but not the street name so ALL the addresses got horribly borked. The mailing went out USPS Priority and ALL came back. There were mail bins upon mail bins of return packages. And these were printed materials with a custom letter for each recipient. It all had to be redone. What a mess. That’s the sort of mistake you never make twice, (unless you are truly a dumbass), and since I just heard about it, I am always careful when I sort my spreadsheets.

So, what does this mean for Mio? Because they haven’t come out and addressed or even acknowledged the customers’ frustration, they’ve made enemies for life. Or at least people who will never ever buy another Mio product again. I can’t say I blame them. Mio has some really slick GPS products but people would rather buy from a company that they feel like supports them. They had a golden opportunity to turn these customers into die-hard fans. The promise was good; a reasonably priced upgrade and everyone was willing to pay for it. They were even excited about it and were willing to forget about the long delays. Now they feel like they’ve been kicked in the teeth and some of those folks that were willing to pay for a legitimate upgrade will upgrade their units by “other means” without paying for it. They’ll be force underground.

What Mio should have done? They should have came out and said they made a mistake. They should have refunded everyone who paid the extra money for shipping or at least offered to credit anyone who called in. The call center reps should have been prepared with an official statement from the management saying yeah, they made a mistake and for your trouble we’ll refund your shipping costs. They should stop sending upgrade DVD’s via bulk Media Mail and either send it via normal or Priority USPS.

Something similar happened with TigerDirect a while ago. Tiger Direct did some sneaking things with customers long ago; if you ordered from them they also signed you for some long distance promotion, people have had problems with their rebates, etc. Personally, I have never ordered from them. But if you visit any of the “hot deal” forums, people are quick to turn away whenever a deal comes up from TigerDirect. They still have a damaged image from something that happened years ago. Based on their history and their perception, some people choose to stay away, even if it is a legitimate hot deal. I’m included in that boat. I simply choose not to do business with them.   I don’t have a particular axe to grind with TD, by the way.

  • Tiger Direct Sucks.org
  • RipOff Alert I
  • RipOff Alert II

Is this the fate of Mio? Potentially. I think they have a chance to pull it out, but that window of opportunity is getting smaller as time goes on. Will I still do business with Mio? Yeah, I probably would. I believe in their technology and being in an industry that deals with customers myself, I can sort of understand what happened. I hope they do what is right.

This really won’t kill the company as I said they have great products.  But they blew a chance to develop die hard fanatics who would always talk up their products and claim to be loyal customers.

Babe, I’m on fire…

The horse says it, the pig says it
The judge in his wig says it

Man, I don’t know what is going on but so many electical things have been breaking.. and I mean breaking in a big, bad hard way. Here’s a few things:

  • A/V Receiver
  • Roku Soundbridge
  • My Powerbook, sniff sniff sniff
  • Harmony Remote (taken apart, cleaned, and repaired!)
  • Sun Shade on our deck
  • check engine light in the car
  • BSOD’s on our PC (think that might be fixed, I got good at debugging core dumps in WinXP)
  • My Trixbox server had three kernel panics

And this is all within a couple of weeks.

The fox and the rabbit
And the nun in her habit says

I am pretty bummed that my Roku M500 is dead. I took it apart and see that if I can get a new part I probably good fix it. The question is, will I be able to buy just the part or do I have to shell out for a new complete one? I love this thing as it has profoundly changed me and my families life.

I am even more bummed about my Powerbook. It is unlikely I will get a new one from work and more likely I’ll get a Windows laptop. It isn’t that I have anything really against a Windows laptop, but I do love my Mac a lot. Maybe it can be repaired…

My mate Bill Gates says it
The President of the United States says it
The slacker and the worker
The girl in her burqa says

I’ve been learning Ruby on Rails lately. So far, I love it. My first project will be to do a UI for the Linux webcam software Motion. How did I get so far without knowing more about Ruby!?!?! This will be something you, the casual reader won’t ever see as it is intended for family and friends.

The general with his tank says it
The man at the bank says it
The soldier with his rocket
And the mouse in my pocket says

I am still loving my T-Mobile Wing. I have installed many apps, but the one I spend the most time with is Chess Genius. I might actually register it. No one ever IM’s me on it. sniff

The drug-addled wreck
With a needle in his neck says it
The drunk says it, punk says it
The brave Buddhist monk says

My brother-in-law has gotten a Nintendo Wii. What a neat thing! I want one! One an unrelated note, I’ve been learning quite a bit about Ethernet cameras; wired and wireless. I foresee some in my future.


It’s been a while since I last updated.  I was in Pasadena last week for an offsite.  It was great.  Sometimes I get the heebee-jeebies at my current job but then I spend time with some of these folks and I get all jazzed about things.   So traveling took some time out from me keeping up with the updates and I feel like I should post a minor update… even if it seems a little disjunct.

While in Pasadena, I presented on VoD and IPTV. I didn’t present on the technology behind it, (leave it to the NetEng guys…) but rather the market and the analysts’ predictions.   It was well received and I enjoyed doing the research on it.

Sunday morning, our audio receiver finally died.   Today I placed an order for a new replacement.  I can’t wait for it to get here! It will be a world of difference!  Thanks to the members over at AVSForum.

I’ve been doing some cool stuff with the Webcam/Linux/Motion set up.  I got in trouble with my wife so I pulled it all down.   In the meantime, I am learning Ruby on Rails to make it better.

I’m also spending a lot more time with Subversion for personal docs and projects, since my webhost gives me a ton of space.  I’m debating if I should just punch holes in my firewall or use my webhost for svn storage.  The jury is still out.