Archive for the 'Annoyances' Category

The Tragedy of the Batteries Commons

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

We used to have batteries at work available freely to everyone who needed them. The drawer still says they are there, but the box is now empty. This is the request I wrote for 2 AA batteries.

I tried to get 2 AA batteries from the supply room on the east side of the 4th floor, but the drawer marked batteries only has an empty box with the words “See Mary” written on the inside. I tried really hard to see you, but I couldn’t, so I thought I might have better luck if I walked out of the supply room. I even went all the way to the 6th floor, but I still couldn’t see you. I walked over to your desk, and I still couldn’t see you. Although I would like to see you, what I really need are 2 AA batteries for my wireless mouse. I would even be willing to walk up two whole flights of stairs to get them! Next time I should probably ask for them when the low battery indicator first comes on rather than when the mouse completely dies.

Will I ever learn?

Accessing Mac OS X Leopard Grayed-out Preference Panes

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

UPDATE: This also works on Snow Leopard if you are having the same problem accsessing any preference panes.

I have a work-issued MacBook Pro with Leopard, specifically Mac OS X 10.5.8, installed. It is a test image that was installed to test ideas about ways to administer systems for users without Administrative rights. At the end of the test, my access was changed to grant my user administrative rights on the laptop, but it still has many problems. I am waiting for the new Snow Leopard image to be completed to have my laptop reimaged. In the mean time, I have been struggling with a few issues.

The system blocks access to certain preference panes in System Preferences. This was probably an oversight or the leftovers of some experiment, because it does not block access to some of the more sensitive preferences. I can add new users to the laptop and do all sorts of things that I should probably not do on the network. The preferences I could not access were not too important for me to change, like Growl, for instance. Then I tried to use Apple’s Magic Mouse. When I installed the system update that enables its advanced features, I could not access the new Mouse preference pane. When I hover over it, the tooltip says “Your access to this preference has been restricted.” If you try to open the pane directly the error says “You cannot open “[name of preference pane]” preferences pane because it is not available to you at this time. You might need to connect a device to your computer to see this preferences pane.” It looks like this:

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Open the Applications folder and find the System file.
  2. Right click or ^-click System and choose Create Duplicate.
  3. Right click or ^-click the new System Preferences and choose Show Package Contents.
  4. Navigate to Contents > Resources and find the NSPrefPaneGroups.xml file.
  5. Move NSPrefPaneGroups.xml to the Trash.
  6. Make sure System Preferences is not running and double click System Preferences to run it. All the preference panes appear to be gone!

  7. In the System Preferences application click the View menu at the top of the screen. All the preference panes are now accessible from the View menu.

  8. When you have changed the preferences you need to change, close System Preferences.

Any time you need to access the disabled system preferences, just use System Preferences, otherwise you can still use the original System for changing system preferences normally.

Thanks Google for killing EtherPad

Friday, December 4th, 2009

UPDATE: EtherPad will be released as open source software!

I love EtherPad. It’s a collaborative text pad that lets you see what others write in realtime, character by character, and automatically highlights text in a different color based on who typed it. One of the best things about EtherPad was that a free public pad could be created instantly without logging in. Other users could be invited to collaborate with only a link to the pad. Now that has all gone away. When I tried to create a new pad today I got the following message:

Creation of new free pads is permanently disabled as part of EtherPad’s acquisition by Google.

Google Wave is an interesting experiment, but it’s nowhere even close to being a replacement for EtherPad. It doesn’t even highlight text automatically! My hope is that these guys will get put on the Google Docs team to add realtime collaboration there. Having to wait 15-30 seconds for page updates makes the tool practically useless for simultaneous editing.

Read about the EtherPad acquisition by Google and see how many people are disappointed.

Ten Cents in One Day

Friday, June 6th, 2008

When I hopped in the truck this morning to drive to work I saw the amber low fuel light staring me in the face. I keep hoping the gas will get cheaper before I have to fill up again, so I tend to wait until the light comes on recently. On my way to work I stopped to fill the tank at $4.059 per gallon. I was just staring at the numbers that seemed to go faster and faster as I watched. For the first time ever I spent over $70 for a single tank of gas.

I thought this was amazing until, on my way home I drove past the same gas station and the gas was now $4.159, a full ten cents more than this morning! I guess I should be happy that I bought gas this morning saving over $1.70, but I can’t bring myself to be happy about 4-dollar/gallon gasoline.

On the way home the news report indicated that crude oil had reached a new high today jumping $11/barrel in only one day! That breaks two records: the highest crude oil price in dollars and the largest increase in oil prices in a single day. At lunch with a coworker I was just saying that I thought the price of gas was contingent not on the current price of crude oil, but rather on the price of crude oil at the time the gasoline refinery bought it. That may still be the case, but now I’m not so sure. My coworker suggested that the price goes up when oil prices rise, but doesn’t fall when the oil prices fall. All I know is that I never really believed that the gasoline would reach $4/gallon this year, but it’s not even summer yet and we’re shattering that. Now I’m afraid to believe that $5/gallon is not going to happen.

FranklinCovey v. GTD

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

A week ago I got a FranklinCovey planner as part of a course I attended on time management. A week before that I found Toodledo (a friend of mine showed it to me). Now I’ve got this dilemma. I find that Toodledo does a great job of managing my tasks for me. At work we use Outlook for email and meeting planning. I am not terribly mobile. I spend most of the day sitting at my own desk at work. I’m struggling to find a use for the FranklinCovey planner. I tried to use it, but so far it just feels redundant. It duplicates all my electronic planning and to-do lists, but it doesn’t update automatically. I feel like it’s doubled the work it takes for me to stay up to date and on top of my projects.

GTD says I’m supposed to have one bucket, one place to collect my stuff that comes in. I have found that there are way too many buckets as it stands now, and FranklinCovey isn’t making things easier.

If there’s a good way to integrate GTD with FranklinCovey, I’d sure like to find it. For now, I’ll just have to stick with what I’ve got, I suppose.

UPDATE: I took the second half of the FranklinCovey class today, so now I know how I’m supposed to use the planner. I’ll report on my progress integrating this with Toodledo and Outlook.

Too Old for TV

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

I don’t understand it and I can’t watch it anymore. TV just isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe it’s exactly what it’s always been, but my tolerance is lower. I’m not complaining about the quality of the programs, though. I’m complaining about the TV networks and their feeling like they know best.

Since the primaries started, Tuesdays have become worthless for watching TV shows. Right at the end of The Biggest Loser they broke in with a “special report.” That was all right, I guess, but they still cut off the end of the show for information that was nowhere near earth-shattering. I was pumped for Jericho anyway, so I hopped on over to CBS.

The first thing I noticed was that the CBS HD channel was showing a standard definition broadcast of the beginning of the show. I was disappointed a little bit, but decided that it was still worth watching. After three minutes or so, CBS decided to preempt the show for their “special report.” Now I could understand if they were announcing something important like a tornado headed our way, or if a Godzilla-like monster had eaten the Vice President. I would have even been okay with them announcing a local fire or police chase. But no, they were just telling us that Hillary had won Rhode Island. Then they wasted another thirty seconds talking about McCain having won all 4 states and Huckabee bowing out.

By the time they got back to the show, something important had happened and I didn’t know what was going on. With everything that had upset me so far, I decided to just turn it off. If I want up to the minute election results, I’ll go to the Internet. That’s what it’s for! I don’t want my show to be shrunk or obscured for crawls that repeat the same thing over and over either. If you want to give me election results, then give them to me instead of commercials or add them to the commercial breaks. I don’t care if the show ends up running a little long, but I do care if you are going to interrupt it for things I don’t care about right now.

I didn’t turn on the TV to watch election results. I checked the listings and they said CBS had Jericho on. I turned on CBS to watch Jericho, end of story.

Irrational Drivers Drive Me Nuts

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

On my way home from work there is a long off- ramp/on-ramp that connects two freeways. The ramp only has one lane and at this time of day usually goes slowly with a lot of slow-and-go. Most of the drivers realize that there is nothing you can do to go any faster than any of the other cars on the ramp, cheap so they drive calmly until the lanes open up at the end of the ramp.

Today I was on the ramp and I had about one and a half car-lengths between me and the car ahead of me. When the car ahead slammed on his breaks I let off the gas and coasted up close at which point the car ahead would zoom up again for a few seconds opening up about 2 car-lengths ahead of me. This is normal and happens almost every day on this ramp. I was startled today, though, by a honking car behind me.

I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a black car about 3 inches from my bumper and far to the right of all of the others behind it. I was a little puzzled but figured that there wasn’t much I could do about it, so I continued on as normal for another couple of minutes as we all progressed at the same rate in our single lane.

Out of nowhere this care passes me on the right, cuts me off, and starts riding the bumper of the car that was in front of me. I have idea what the driver’s problem was. He stayed right there in front of me for another two minutes and drove normally as far as I could tell from that point on. The only thing I can guess is that he was upset because I wasn’t tailgating the car in front of me. I have no idea how that would have made any difference to him considering we still exited the ramp merely seconds from one another. I guess some drivers just can’t stand the sight of open space on the freeway.

Gun Free Zones Scare Me

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Am I the only one who gets the chills when I see a sign that says “Gun Free Zone” at the entrance of an establishment? My instincts told me not to enter the local library when I saw that on the front door. Here’s a beautiful cartoon from the Rome News-Tribune.

Gun Cartoon

Feeding Ducks & The Signmaker’s Plight

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The vast majority of people ignore signs with more than two words on them. Ideally, signs shouldn’t have any words on them. There were no ducks near this sign. At first I thought that maybe the sign was placed improperly where no one would see it. Another possibility is that the ducks were there until they put up this sign and people stopped feeding them. People near the edges of other parts of the lake were unaware of the sign and fed the ducks there, where they can now be found in abundance. In any case, I thought it was common knowledge by now that you’re not supposed to throw bread at the ducks.

Ducks being fed bread and a useless sign forbidding it.

Hooray for the Police!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I was waiting for my wife to get off work like I do almost every day. She works at a bank. I was sitting in the car for awhile, but after 15 minutes of waiting I decided to relax a little bit. I put the seat into a reclined position and laid back, still waiting. I kept looking up every minute or so to see if she had come out yet. After about 10 more minutes of laying down I looked up and saw a police car facing the drivers side of the car. I thought to myself, “Oh great. They’re here because I look suspicious.” This was the latest my wife had been getting off work for a long long time. I usually only wait 10-15 minutes at the most. The other thing I noticed, which was strange, was that he had a passenger with him in the front seat that looked like an LDS missionary. He was wearing a white shirt and looked to be about 19 years old. He also wore glasses and had a passively curious and non-judgmental expression.

Sure enough, the officer started walking toward the car. I rolled down the window and looked out trying not to look as annoyed as I was. “What are you doing sleeping in a car outside of a bank?” the officer asked smugly.

“I’m just waiting for my wife to get off work,” I said. I thought right after, “…like I do every day.”

I think he kind of answered his question next saying something like, “It sure is suspicious to be sleeping in a car right outside of a bank.” But by this time my adrenaline had started pumping. Not like when you’re being chased by an angry lion, but more like just before you have to deliver a speech in front of a large audience. This made my hands a little bit shaky when he asked, “Can I see your driver license?”

“Sure!” I said in as confident a voice as I could muster. I pulled out my wallet and flipped up the pocket enveloping my license.

“Can you take it out for me?”

“No, probably not,” I thought to myself. “All right,” I politely replied and began to wrestle the plastic card from its plastic sleeve. Just as I had known, the plastic in the sleeve had adhered itself to the plastic license card. I jiggled and tugged at the card attempting not to look like a dufus. I handed him the card and he stepped behind my car.

I don’t know why he decided that behind the car is a good place to stand. I was parked backwards in a parking space, and was facing the bank. I could see silhouettes through the tinted windows. It was getting darker outside and the lights were still on inside. I could hear the officer talking into his radio, “Sierra, Hotel, Alpha…” It was at about this time that I started hoping that my wife would come out and confirm my story. I don’t know if her word would have actually been worth enough in the suspicious officer’s mind to let me go, but I thought it would be pretty good anyway to have someone inside the bank vouch for me. That didn’t happen, though.

The officer handed me back my card after a minute or so. As he handed it to me he wished me a good weekend, walked back to his squad car, and drove away. It was about this time that I started running through my rights in my head. Did I have to give the officer my license? Did he have the right to approach me because he thought what I was doing was suspicious even though I do the same thing nearly every day? When Krissy first got this job I came to pick her up after work on the first day. I thought to myself that it seemed a little suspicious that I was sitting out in my car waiting for her to come out the employee entrance. I guess I started to feel like it was less suspicious looking the longer I had been doing it and the more people I saw that did the same thing. For the record, there were at least two other people that had been waiting to pick people up when I first arrived, but none by the time the officer arrived.

After another five-minute wait Krissy emerged with her manager. They both looked a little surprised, and they both started to walk toward the car. I did not want to talk to anyone besides my wife and was a little bit upset that they had both come over. The manager asked something about what had happened, and I said, “He said it was suspicious to be waiting in a car outside the bank.” I then made some snide remark that was supposed to sound like a joke, but came out with all of the frustration in my voice that I was truly feeling, “I was waiting for my wife who is 30 minutes late getting off work.” It was obviously awkward for both my wife and her manager. I ended up shaking her hand as she introduced herself, and then we came home.

The more I thought about what had happened, the more angry I got. I don’t know what really made me angry about the whole thing, though. Part of it was that my frustrated snide remark had made my wife a little bit upset and now I was mad that I felt like I was being blamed for the whole incident. It may not have been the managers fault that the police came to visit me, but I still kind of felt like it was. What good are schedules, anyway, if they aren’t going to be followed. After all, it wouldn’t have been suspicious to arrive, wait for five minutes, and then leave.

All I wanted to do was to be alone and to vent my frustrations. I came into the bedroom and started writing. Now that I’ve had a chance to cool-down thanks to the twin heat sinks of time and writing down my thoughts, I am much more calm, though I am still unsettled about the whole incident. What is going to happen in the future when I have to wait for thirty minutes? Can I get an indemnity card that says the bank has authorized me to hang out in my car for a half an hour? Was it the laying down that made the officer suspicious? Was there some other suspicious activity in the area that I don’t know about? So many unanswered questions. The officer probably wouldn’t even remember the incident a week from now, but I can guarantee you that my first time being questioned by the police will not be an experience that I will soon forget.