Archive for the 'Annoyances' Category

Freecyling is like Gambling Without Consequences

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Today I was going to get a stationary exercise bike. Everything was all set. A woman named Julie said she would be picking one up from her mother-in-law today and that she would contact me about it. I didn’t check my email until 6:30pm. She had already got the bike and tried to contact me to get me to come and get it. Unfortunately, when I called the bike had already been given to someone else. That’s the thing about freecycling. You have to be fast.

I have never ever gotten anything through freecycling, because I’m never fast enough. Whenever I contact people they say that the item is already gone. It’s a great concept if you are looking to get something for nothing, but it’s even better for the one who is trying to give their items away. You can generally expect someone to be by in less than 24 hours to pick up whatever you might have to give away.

I must admit that I was more than a little bummed that I didn’t get the bike I had been waiting for, but at least it didn’t cost me anything anyway.

How My Turn Indicators Stopped Blinking

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

On my way home from work today I was sitting at a stop light when something in a parking lot distracted me for a few seconds. While I was looking over my left shoulder a thunderous crunch tore through the car. It was horribly jarring and it took me a few seconds to piece together what was happening. The light had turned green and the car in front of me was just starting to pull away. Looking through my rear-view mirror revealed a silver car about the size of my own Honda Civic, but it was literally touching my bumper! I had been rear-ended.

I stared intently at the front bumper of the car through the mirror until I remembered that Arizona doesn’t require (or, possibly, even allow) cars to have license plates on the front of their cars. I signaled that I was going to pull over, and they did the same. As we both approached the side of the road, I came to a stop, and the other driver sped off at full speed. I didn’t have time to get any of the info from their rear license plate, and I was positioned in such a way that it was difficult for me to quickly get into traffic and make chase.

I pulled into the nearest parking lot and got out of the car. There was almost no visible damage to the car. A minor scratch was visible, but it looked better than what I’d have expected had a shopping cart tapped into the back of me. I was very upset that the other driver was so amoral that they wouldn’t stop. I likely wouldn’t have even done anything with their insurance information, it’s just the principle of the thing that got me.

When I got back into the car and pulled back onto the road I noticed the absence of the familiar rhythmic clicking sound associated with turn indicator usage. All the way home I had to manually blink the turn indicators on and off because, although the light would come on, it wouldn’t blink. The hazard lights didn’t work right either.

After playing with the hazard lights and the turn indicators for about an hour they are working again. It really doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t really do anything to make them work, so I am guessing that they will stop working as suddenly as they started. As Davis’s Dictum states: Problems that go away by themselves, come back by themselves.

LDS Church Punishing Procrastinators

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

I don’t know who has to approve decisions for scheduled maintenance on the LDS Church Website, but it just went down for scheduled maintenance according to the error page that the site is currently serving. My wife and I are speaking in Church tomorrow, and we are still working on our talks. We know that we should have finished preparing our talks sooner, but this is seriously not a good time for the site to go down for maintenance. I’m thinking maybe a Tuesday morning might be a good time. I would pick Monday, but then you have all the people scrambling to get something together for family home evening lessons that would be out of luck.

I guess it’s time to do our research for our talks the old-fashioned way — use Google.

Firefox in a Single Sign-on Intranet Environment

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

I have been using Firefox for my normal browsing at work, but found it useless for browsing the company intranet because it asked me repeatedly for my network user name and password. There were other annoyances, as well. Many sites using SSL certificates made Firefox flash multiple warning messages because our proxy issues certificates instead of passing them through unchanged. I decided today was the day to fix these annoyances. The Single Sign-on fix only works with the Windows version of Firefox, unfortunately.

To fix the Single Sign-on problem:

  • Type about:config in the Navigation Bar.
  • Type ntlm in the Filter box.
  • Right-click on network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris and choose Modify.
  • Type in the domains you want to have access to without typing in your password over and over again. This could include a list like the following: home,portal,service,hr. The format of this list is each domain is seperated by a comma without a space.
  • Click OK.

These changes take effect immediately, so go ahead and navigate to another web site and test out your intranet. If the site asks for your user name and password enter it and try to keep navigating. If any more pages start asking for your user name and password and they are part of your intranet, note the domains and add them to the list using the directions above.

To fix the SSL certificates problem you need to export the certificate your intranet uses with SSL encrypted traffic. To export the certificate in Internet Explorer:

  • Open IE, go to Tools -> Internet Options.
  • Click the Content tab.
  • Click Certificates.
  • Click the Trusted Root Certification Authorities tab.
  • Select the certificate issued by your intranet (look for your company name).
  • Click Export.
  • Click Next, Next.
  • Save the file somewhere and give it a good name.
  • Click Yes, Next, and OK until you get back to the main IE window.

To import the certificate into Firefox:

  • Open Firefox, go to Tools -> Options.
  • Click the Advanced tab.
  • Click the Encryption tab within the Advanced section.
  • Click View Certificates.
  • Click the Authorities tab.
  • Click Import.
  • Choose the file you exported above.

If all goes well you should be able to use your intranet and browse the Internet using Firefox as long as your intranet doesn’t use ActiveX controls.

Nothing Gets out Chocolate… See?

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Police Chief Wiggum explained to Lisa that nothing gets chocolate out, then he motioned to the large brown stain on the front of his police pants to prove his point. Now I have a pair of pants of my very own that can be used to illustrate that same principle. I won’t blame anyone for the mishap. Wendy’s frosties are mighty tasty, but you need to be careful when you put an empty frosty cup on the top of a fast food bag that’s completely full of trash. You need to be especially careful when that bag has a small tear at the top and the empty frosty cup has a spoon in it causing the empty frosty cup to lean against the torn part of the bag. The most unfortunate things can happen when driving over speed bumps, so watch out for those as well. When all of these circumstances come together it’s curtains for your pants… See?

Shawn got chocolate on his pants.

Officially Postponed

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I was going to wait until we were settled in our new home before writing another blog post, but it looks like that’s still going to be aways off in the distance. We found out today that circumstances are such that the closing date of our new home has been moved out about two weeks later than we were originally planning on. We were expecting to close on Thursday of this week, but now instead of a 4-day wait, we now have a 20-day wait ahead of us.

At first this seemed like a tragedy of the highest order, and my first thought was that we were not going to be able to get the house for one reason or another. Even though it upset a lot of plans, it turned out that within just a few hours of receiving the bad news everything had settled in to place and we were left with only a few minor inconveniences. We will have to pay another month’s rent on our storage unit, but that is the greatest of the frustrations. It could have been much worse.

Our friends, who have been incredibly kind and have let us stay free of charge in their guest bedroom for over six weeks now, would not accept our offer to pay them rent for the time from now until we leave. They have been a great blessing to us. Moving drained our resources and we are just now again in a position to take care of ourselves. If it weren’t for them, we would not be in the fortunate position that we are in. Without their generosity and effort on our behalf, we would still be struggling to pay rent in California awaiting the day that I finished school and got a job there.

I will try to keep things up to date if anything interesting happens between now and our new closing date.

The Truth about Net Neutrality

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Unfortunately, it seems that political ads don’t have to actually tell the truth or use pesky facts to convince people of who and what to vote for. Most political topics can’t be accurately explained in 30 seconds or less. I wish the following video were possible to get on television during commercial breaks. If you don’t know what Net Neutrality is or why you should want laws in place to guarantee it then please take the two and a half minutes to watch the video below. The cable and telephone companies, who constitute the majority of high-speed internet service providers (ISPs), want to make more money at your expense. You will probably see commercials that try to convince you that Net Neutrality is bad, but they won’t talk about why, except by trying to scare you by threatening to raise cable and internet bills. These ads against Net Neutrality are nothing more or less than that; they are threats. The user oepapel on a discussion about Net Neutrality at summed it up best.

The ISPs (the gatekeepers) are basically saying “We want more money. If we can’t charge Google extra because of some Net Neutrality law then we are going to charge you, the customer. So don’t vote for the law and we won’t charge you more. Deal?”

It’s not that they lied, it’s that they skipped right to the end of their thinly veiled threat to raise prices if they don’t get their way. It’s a giant temper tantrum. They see the internet and their customers as an asset to be sold to the highest bidder, only nobody is bidding. None of the content producers are taking the bait. God help us if one of them does because then they ALL will have to in order to stay competitive. Sure, your internet [access] might be cheaper (and that’s a big assumption) but you traded your freedom away to get it. Hope you kept the receipt…

The ISPs are threatening to raise your bills unless they can force other companies with popular websites to pay the ISP just to grant you access to the popular websites. This idea just makes me so angry! And this is only one of the possible misuses if Net Neutrality is not passed into law.

Automated Coin Dispensers

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I have never really been a fan of the automated coin dispenser. You know, the machine that has a little cup where the coin part of your change appears when you pay with cash at the grocery store. It doesn’t save much time. I’ve worked cash registers at a retail store before, and it doesn’t take very long to get change for people one coin at a time. I don’t like them because I often forget to take my change. The cashier hands me the bills and it often doesn’t occur to me that half of my change is just sitting somewhere else waiting for me to take it.

Today I bought a couple of things at the grocery store and the coin machine gave me what seemed to be a lot of coins as change. Here’s the breakdown

  • 1 Quarter
  • 5 Dimes
  • 1 Nickel
  • 5 Pennies

I don’t know about you, but that don’t make a lick o’ sense to me. I suppose that it’s possible that the machine only had one quarter and one nickel in it when I got there. That’s the only explanation I could come up with. What happens to the next person, then? Isn’t the cashier alerted when coin levels in the machine are low? It just seems like one more thing to go wrong.

Employees Must Pretend to Wash Hands

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

On our way back from Las Vegas we stopped in Barstow. Many places were closed because it’s Thanksgiving Day. We pulled into a gas station that looked like it was open and there were about 15 people milling about outside the restrooms (which were located on the side of the building). We decided that there had to be something better than that, so we drove to a Circle K down the road. There were only a few people at this gas station, so we stopped. I went inside to look for a pen light and a restroom. On the wall next to the restroom doors was a sign: “Closed for cleaning for 20 minutes. Sorry.” I saw a customer come out of the restroom while I was walking toward it, so I went inside.

It was immediately obvious that the sign outside the door had been there for a long time. I tried to hold my breath as I walked past the filthy sinks on the right and the two stalls in use on the left. As I rounded the turn I expected to find at least one urinal, but there was only a trash can where porcelain should have been mounted to the wall. I turned around as a man in a black leather jacket exited one of the stalls. I was not excited to be there.

Inside the stall I twisted the locking mechanism. As my fingers met the cold metal handle I had to remind myself that I would be able to wash my hands on my way out. There was used toilet paper on the floor surrounding the toilet. I’ve never been able to understand this. The toilet is right there, for the love of Pete! If anything it takes more effort to see the toilet and then make a decision not to throw the used toilet paper into it. Someone had also managed to miss slightly when they were sitting down and the remainder of this mistake was still on the back of the rim. The toilet seat was up, and I was glad that I didn’t have anything substantial I wanted to get rid of. When I was done, all I could think of was washing my hands and getting out of there.

At the sink I turned on the water and wet my hands as I looked around for the soap dispenser. It was on the wall between the two sinks. It was covered with dried streaks like someone had brushed their teeth and spit on the top of it and let the foamy toothpaste and spit run down the sides. I pulled the handle below the soap dispenser toward me. Nothing happened. I pulled again, and still nothing. So I started wiggling it back and forth more violently hoping to get a drop of the last bit of soap out. I resigned myself to pretending I was washing my hands, rubbing them together under the water for a while. I figured that was better than nothing. Then I looked for the paper towels. All I could find was a heated-air hand drier. I raised my foot above waist-level and lightly kicked the start button with the front of the sole of my shoe. It took two cycles to completely dry my hands. Then I waited for about 15 seconds for someone to come in the the restroom so I didn’t have to touch the door with my hand.

I decided to skip the hot dogs behind the cash register.

Repurposing the Wii Fund Again

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Krissy was going to take the car to work today so she could run some errands. I was planning on sleeping in a little bit so I could drive at least the last leg of the trip and be awake at one o’clock in the morning. She wakes me up just before she leaves and tells me that there is a flat tire. We’ve had a slow leak for about three months, so I’ve been refilling the tire with air every couple of days. Luckily we have a small air compressor that plugs into the cigarette lighter jack. The tires cost about the same amount of money that I had set aside to purchase the Wii. Once again, the money set aside for the Wii has been taken for something more important.

I could get upset that the Wii has been yanked out from under me twice, but as I see it, at least I had the extra money we needed when a sudden need arose. The Wii can wait. I’m just glad that the tire failed now before we drove to Las Vegas. We are leaving tonight.

Maybe I can make some extra money writing articles for News Forge.