Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mitsubishi sucks, as does Fry's Electronics.

So here I sit, awaiting the delivery of the replacement TV that Mitsubishi promised me I'd be getting by the end of August (Mine's only been broken since May... no biggie)

"Hmmm" I think as I wake this morning. "Something doesn't feel right."

My spidey senses were telling me - as I recalled the 5 (seriously) managers that stood around at Fry's on that cool Tuesday night last week, trying to figure out how to "work the system" in order to do both a pickup AND a delivery for a replacement (something I'm sure they do A LOT) without having to create two charges in the system - that maybe, just maybe, Fry's wouldn't be coming to my house today.

I called them, not more than 10 minutes ago.

Look, here... Instead of editorializing, I'll just go ahead and post a transcription. Then, when I'm done posting it, I'm just going to calmly back away from the computer and find my calm place.

Me: Hi! I'm calling to make sure that you guys are delivering to me today, I didn't get a confirmation call yesterday
Donkey: OK... Yeah they normally confirm the day before... Do you have an MDR number?
Me: No.. but I have the invoice number.
Donkey: OK... what is it?
Me: {involce number}
Donkey: Hmmm. Can you tell me again?
Me: { i n v o i c e n u m b e r }
Donkey: Hmm, nothing's pulling up. When was it supposed to be delivered?
Me: Today
Donkey: From 9-1 or 1-5?
Me: Between 9 and 1
Donkey: OK, well there's only one delivery today, so you're good
Me: So that delivery is for me?
Donkey: Yeah, there's only one.
Me: What city is it going to?
Donkey: I'm not sure, sir... but I only see the one delivery.
Me: And it's definitely for me?
Donkey: Yes sir.
Me: OK... what's my name again?
Donkey: (nervous laugh) er... heh... I'm not sure. I mean... if they told you today, there's only one delivery, so you're good to go
Me: There's a reason I'm calling... I don't think the delivery has been set up.
Donkey: {asserting himself...} ahem.. What's your name sir?
Me: {name}
Donkey: Hold on sir...

{wait about 5 minutes}

Donkey: Mr Hobbs?
Me: Yes?
Donkey: Sir, I'm not seeing it on our delivery schedule, so let me find out what's happening and I'll call you back...

Have a good day. Seriously. I know mine is going to be AWESOME.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm creating this blog using my voice using a service called Jott. Just call Jott with your phone and it translates your voice into text. Then you can have that text sent to your blog, anybody that you set up, and other online services. Pretty cool.

Powered by Jott

(OK so I had to make some corrections to the post :) - Still a cool service / concept though.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Thought I'd give Picasa Web Albums a whirl... been using Picasa for a while but never ventured into the online piece much...

These are the pics from our recent trip to DC. Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Level 70, Bait 'n switch, and A much needed Vacation...

Wow, look at that... 3 months? I rock at this blogging stuff. Sure, I COULD post every day, every week, or even every month, but I wouldn't want to cause an unnecessary burden on my avid readers. I'm so damn considerate!

So let's see... World of Warcraft is the first order of business, since it's the first thing I thought of.

Level 70
Burning Crusade was a great addition to the game, from what I've seen of it (which is actually VERY little) and provided me with a couple of extra months of entertainment.

I hit level 70 this past weekend, however, and it was frighteningly underwhelming. My mind wandered back to the days of Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario World where at the end, I'd get to see my game's hero flying through the skies accompanied by down-tempo numbers from the game played on a general midi piano synth and lots of scrolling asian names like Hayao Nakayama and Yuji Naka, none of which are memorable but provide me with the brief notion that actual people put effort into producing said game before I put it back on the shelf to gather dust.

Not long after the expansion came out, I transferred back off of a realm where I was a member of a raiding guild, to my original realm where I first starting playing with the Fisn N Chips crew (and real life friends) - I'd gotten tired of being reminded every time I logged on that I wasn't even halfway as hardcore as I needed to be in order to keep up with the rest of the guild, and I was having a hard time finding others that shared my casual attitude and pace. (Most of these guys power leveled to 70 in less than 2 weeks, essentially removing the pleasure of absorbing the new world and submersing oneself in the really nice storylines that were created for the expansion)

Anyway, since then I've played extremely casually, maybe once or twice a week, and have spent the majority of that time either PUGing through one or two early instances, or soloing throught quests and concentrating on reputation and crafting. The Fish n Chips guild is very small, there's only ever a maximum of about 6-7 players online at once, with half of them being lower level toons or people's alts. This is a stark contrast from being in a raiding guild, where you don't get to see the light of day unless your level is maxxed out along with your gear, and every time you hop on you're somehow obligated to join whatever raid is happening. Both setups have their challenges, I either can't do the smaller stuff because the raiding guild is whining or questioning my loyalty or devotion, or I can't do the bigger stuff because the guild is simply too small or there aren't enough people on. It'd be nice to get to see some of the cooler instances and raid instances in burning crusade but I don't really see it happening, which makes me wonder - Why am I playing this game? Sure, it can be fun, but now I'm at 70, with no desire to roll another character and do the same stuff all over again, what am I in it for? I'll be thinking about it quite a bit over the next few weeks and possibly re-evaluating whether I really want to spent $15 a month on this game any more.

Bait 'n switch
As I logged into the GRS system at work (I must have been doing some testing or something, or maybe I was just looking to punish myself that day) I was presented with a fantastic internal ad: "ALASKA CRUISE 349PP - SEE xxxxxx" - With our 10 year wedding anniversary coming up, this is something (Alaskan Cruises) I'd been wanting to look into for a while. We loved our Cozumel cruise and knew we wanted to go on others, so this seemed too good to not check out. I called our internal vacations lady (who this deal was posted by - let's call her 'Switchy') and yeah, it was true. $349 per person for a 7-day cruise from Anchorage down to Vancouver. I pulled the trigger and made the first of my two payments with a credit card. After taxes and fees etc, I was told, the total would be around $1100. Seemed like a fantastic deal for an all-inclusive vacation for two for 7 days. Switchy told me it would be a good idea to buy the cancellation insurance too. "If you have kids, you never know..." she said. "If you need to cancel at least you'd be able to get your money back". Seemed like a good idea. I think the insurance was $75 per person or thereabouts. Seemed like a good bet. We were also going to need transportation from Anchorage to Seward, since the airport and seaport are a fair distance from each other. Switchy told me that there was a transfer service for $45 per person if we wanted to use it, but that it was actually a very nice drive if we wanted to rent a car. I figured I'd defer that decision until later.

A couple of days later I received my invoice in the mail. - For $1400. Hmmm... I knew the taxes were more than a hundred dollars each so I tried for a while to figure out how 350-450 or so multiplied by two came to a grand total of $1400. I didn't have to try for long because on further inspection it was right there on the invoice - $549 per person plus taxes. I called Switchy and asked about the invoice, obviously there had been some sort of error. "Oh no... I told you on the phone, there were no $349 fares left, so I gave you the $549 fare... you remember, right?"

Well, I might not have the best memory in the world but that's certainly NOT what was discussed on the phone. I was pissed, but all in all it was still reasonably good for a 7 day vacation for two (although I was less impressed this time)

Days and weeks passed, and we discovered that we were going to have issues finding someone to take the kids during that time. Emily and I were actually going through a pretty rough patch and were arguing a lot, we had a lot of other stuff going on which was stressing us out, mostly around children, money, our relationship - the usual stuff, and we decided it was for the best that we just cancel the cruise, save the money, and not have to worry about finding someone who could take our children and all the issues and medicines etc that come with them. (more on that some other time)

No worries, I got the insurance. We have kids, these things come up. That was the exact reason I bought it right? I emailed Switchy to ask her what it would take to cancel the reservation. She called me that same morning. "I went ahead and cancelled it for you, and you'll be receiving $840 back to the card."

I think I was probably silent for a half a minute or so while the information permeated my cerebrum. "$840?"

"Yeah, the insurance covers the $840, you'll have to make a claim for the remainder"

"OK, What's the claim process?"

Switchy told me that the claim process was very similar to an auto insurance claim, whereby if I provided enough evidence about my inability to travel - you know, due to a burned down house, two broken legs, a death... that sort of thing - and that claim was approved, they'd refund 75% of the remainder.

More silence

"I'm assuming not being able to get babysitters isn't covered"

"Oh, no way... but you know, at least you got some of the money back"

I was fuming. I hadn't told her to cancel the cruise, I'd asked her to call me to talk about it. As it was, the cruise had been canceled and I'd lost about $500. The insurance was sold to me as a cancellation policy whereby I'm guaranteed my money back for whatever reason I decide to cancel. I'm actually surprised I managed to stay calm but I did... I made it quite clear that I'd not told her to cancel the reservation and she did eventually manage to 'cancel the cancellation', if that makes sense. There was no way I was going to just throw $500 down the toilet.

I managed to re-convince Emily that this cruise was much needed, that we were going to go on it and have a good time no matter what, and that we'd find a way to make babysitting work. She slowly came on board over the period of a week or so and when we both were fully committed again, we began to make plans. Flight to Seattle, Hotel in Seattle, Flight to Anchorage, Rental car in Anchorage (we'd actually decided that we would take the bus but Switchy's price this time around was $88 - double the originally quoted price - seeing a pattern here?), Flight from Vancouver to DFW....

All in all I think my $349PP ALASKA CRUISE will probably look more like $1200PP ALASKA CRUISE - What a complete farce.

I am, however, looking forward to A much needed Vacation...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Online poker is back in my life

After MANY online poker rooms closed to US residents following the enactment of the SAFE Port Act, there was an exodus of many, many, many [bad] players to some of the more quality poker rooms like UltimateBet and Bodog (My usual stomping grounds). - With the arrival of so many refugees, the number of bad beats and illogical poker plays increased exponentially and so I grew quite tired of playing online. As such, I hadn't played for a good time.

Strangely enough, the shutdown of money transfers to the remainder of the online poker rooms using Neteller (probably the MOST popular way to fund your online accounts) in January actually, I think, made depositing money in online rooms sufficiently inconvenient for the hoi polloi that the total number of players has reduced considerably. Thus, the quality of play has risen again, somewhat. Sure, there are still MANY donkeys playing, but their numbers are much more manageable now.

It's a fantastic thing when you can sit down at a table with 2, maybe 3 donkeys on it, since you know you can make money from them, but when you sit at a 9-player table, and are faced with 8 donkeys, you may as well go back to playing slots.

To cut a long story short, I made a deposit exactly a week ago today, and have in that time tripled my money. It feels good to do that again because for a while there the incogitable amount of bad beats was having a big impact on my confidence as a reasonably good player. I'd gone, in the past year, from 90% chance of profit every time I deposited, to a 95% chance of complete loss with every transaction. (At least for the last 3 or 4 months)

So, I'm happy to say that I believe online poker is a credible pastime again and I intend on playing quite a bit more. I joined Ed this weekend also for some free play at the Lodge in Dallas which was a lot of fun. Legend has it that it's the 'best free game in Dallas' - and I'm inclined to believe that. However, it's still a free game, and is still only as good as its worth. I do intend on going again at some point, as it's always nice to mix it up with real people and practice real table patience, feeling those cards and chips, and trying to get reads on people and their habits. Something you definitely lose when playing online.

I feel another trip to Choctaw coming on :)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Halfway to 60

Oy vey.

According to one of my co-workers, yesterday wasn't just my 30th birthday. It was officially the day I was halfway to 60 years old :)

I have to say, normally I kind of lay low during birthdays - I'm not particularly fond of people 'fussing over me' and getting too much attention, but yesterday, in all honesty, was probably the best birthday I've had in many years. When I got to work I was welcomed by balloons at my desk, a card with messages from everyone, and a gift from the ringleader and my "work-wife", Misty. I was escorted to lunch at Kincaid's (just to ensure that my arteries feel like they're 30 years old too) and a good time was had by all. I was actually pretty happy to be 30 for some reason.

I think it really was an eye-opener for me too. For the past... well, for the past 10 years I guess, I've always been the 'pup' at work. Surrounded by my seniors, I've always been very aware of the fact I've been the youngest of the group. Even at my most recent job I was - if not the youngest - one of the younger members of the team. Yesterday the number of people who let me know that they're "right behind me" - or a couple of years younger - was actually very surprising. I guess of course it's a glaringly obvious natural progression but for once I actually feel that I'm surround by a very appropriate mix of people older, younger, and the same age as me. Of course I do realize this just means that in years to come that "older" faction will thin out as some of them wither away from old age and get replaced by teeny-boppers, but for now I'm really quite satisfied with my age.

When I got home from work, Rowan and Camden were anxious to meet me with hand made cards, which is just about the best thing a dad can ever receive (until they're driving my car, then I just want them to fill it with gas occasionally) and Emily had made a fantastic chocolate cake.

Dave, one of the usual poker crowd I kick around with, just bought a house with his fiancée, and my birthday also marked his first hosting of our home game yesterday. It's seriously been a long time since I played poker with real flesh and blood opponents and I don't think I've ever been more eager to sit down with chips and throw cards around.

I didn't do terribly well from a poker perspective (although I think I managed to build a nice reputation for myself) but it was a really fun night that ended WAY too late (around 4am, with me getting back home around 5). Ed surprised me with a gift, a poker book he and I have been talking about recently, and while I was distracted, he also managed to sneak a very cool poker cake out from someplace, adorned with mini-cards representing our favorite suck-out-and-win-a-lot hands [J-8 (autowin) and 8-3 (snowman 'tater-legs)] in a showdown, chips and all. I wasn't expecting anyone to do anything for my birthday except maybe try a little harder to take my money (it didn't take much trying last night though) so Ed certainly suprised me there and made the night something extra :) Thanks Ed!

So... overall, a really good birthday. Today Emily allowed me to spend a surprising amount of time in bed, to recover from an aggregation of SEVERAL late late nights this last week, and by the time I was actually up and about and useful (shamefully, probably not until about 3pm) I was able to muster just enough energy to do some mucking around with the kids. Now all that's left to do is to have a nice relaxing evening with her, watching a movie or something. It was nice to be able to play poker last night but now I gotta get my wife fix too :)

Did I mention, for the first time in a long time... I actually feel pretty great! Wow. Who'd have thought something as traditionally depressing as a landmark birthday could have such a positive effect? :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's official, I'm a rebel.

Yes, that's right. I'm not in the line at Wal-Mart behind 200 pubescent others waiting feverishly for my copy of The Burning Crusade, the next installment and must-have expansion for the World of Warcraft. Was I tempted to get in my car and go get my copy RFN*? Sure. A little. But my practical side kicked in. I have gift cards to use at Best Buy. Of COURSE they'll have copies tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, etc. Of COURSE they won't be sold out. After all, it's not a Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3. People are DYING to get their hands on one of those.

We seem to know how to stock the shelves with software, after all. Hardware, that's another story.

I suppose I could try to get the expansion for $10 cheaper too, and pick it up at Fry's. But then I'd be without a manual, game key, game media, or some other essential item that a forward-thinking Fry's employee has already surreptitiously taken home and listed on eBay for a bargain price.

So yeah, call me a rebel, but I'm not rushing out just yet. I'll wait it out a couple days, maybe pick it up over the weekend. I think a few years ago I'd have been at the back of that line, shuffling along with my ankles in shackles, waiting to receive my ladleful of digital gruel with the rest of the inmates, but here I am, being all pragmatic and stuff. Likely for the same reason I'm not using my $100 worth of Best Buy gift cards to buy this badass Samsung 22" widescreen LCD panel, instead convincing myself that I'll just be better off buying the Acer equivalent, which is $70 cheaper and seems to have a better contrast ratio but a crappier stand. I realize that I could run into Best Buy tomorrow and pick up the Samsung and I'd get immediate gratification, but using $100 of free money to save only $30 over a similar product doesn't seem to make sense to me. I guess it would be too much to ask that Best Buy carry a better assortment of products. - Or that newegg accept Best Buy gift cards for payment :)

Today I worked from home, due to "inclement weather". And by inclement weather I mean below freezing, with precipitation. An everyday occurrence this time of year for about 30% of the world but for some reason here in North Texas, we can't quite cope with it. It happens at some point pretty much every year yet it's always impressively devastating, with people sliding all over the place, slamming on brakes and bouncing off of each other while sliding gracefully over a slick overpass. There's always the amusing images on TV of the guy who can't figure out why flooring the gas in his unladen rear-wheel-drive pickup truck doesn't seem to be moving him in a forward direction. "Maybe the wheels aren't spinning fast enough, how can I apply more gas?"

...I just hope tomorrow is equally as devastating. I could actually get to like this working from home business :)

* Right F***in' Now

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

WoW Downloader woes

Seems like every time it's time to download a patch for World of Warcraft, the crappy P2P downloader has a problem on my machine. Although, yes, I hate the P2P downloader with a passion (P2P essentially murders my VoIP phone line during the download period, and for about an hour or so afterward as poorly updated clients with my IP still listed bang the crap out of my internet connection waiting for an answer - "You were there 30 minutes ago!! Where the hell are you now??") - It's not actually the downloader that's the problem. It's my Linksys router. It's severely lacking in features - it barely skims the surface of the plush functionality of my previous, now defunct, WebRamp device.

For some reason on this particular device, the WRT54GP2, a dual-line VoIP wireless router, Linksys didn't feel that I needed the ability to reserve DHCP IPs for specific MAC addresses so that my 'flagship' machines have a guaranteed address. No problem, just hard code an IP on those machines right? That'd be fine if Charter's DNS servers didn't seem to change every month or so.

Anyways, I figured I'd give this INCREDIBLY poorly documented 'port triggering' crap a run for its money and well, what do you know, it works. Hopefully now it won't matter what IP I have. When the downloader starts requesting connections, the router will automatically set up forwarding to the IP I'm currently using. Greatness.

Here's the configuration for the WoW downloader in case it's of use to anyone: