Sheepa is okay… cross your fingers.

March 21, 2007

 Our beloved dog, Sheepa, has been ill.  He’s been lethargic, not smiling, and most of all – he’s had urinary problems that resulted in him having to "go" every 4 hours.

He’d awake in the mornings clawing at our door to go out… and recently the poor guy hasn’t made it all night – we’d find a puddle in the kitchen sometimes and this is even when we take him out at 2:00AM and wake up at 5:30AM for another walk.

Yes, he’s kind of an old guy.  We adopted him when he was 10 years old approximately because no one else wanted him because he was such a mess and so beligerent.  As you can see, he’s a truly lovable dog that’s very affectionate and just needed a chance from someone to show that he could be a really good dog.

Well, he’s about 12 now and so there was a lot of drama at the vet.  They did a rectal exam to check for prostate issues which was okay.  Then he got checked from liver issues & diabetes and none of those came up positive after doing blood and urine labs. 

This was a problem because this could still mean one of 3 things:  He might have failing kidneys at worst, he could have kidney or bladder stones which would be second worse, and then he might just have a bacterial infection which we could probably knock out using antibiotics.

So finally they did a cultured bacterial lab which looked for bacterial growth in hi urine and sure enough, he had an infection:  They said E. Coli and some other bacteria.  (My wife couldn’t remember the other one) Nonetheless it was good news because he might be okay if we give him some meds, which we’re starting today.

This bothered me because I have no idea how he got an infection.  We give him fresh canned food every day in a clean bowl, he NEVER EVER EVER gets left overs or table scraps, and he gets fresh water from a steam cleaned bowl every day.  I mopped the floor with disinfectant just to make sure but I’m really angry because there’s no reason for him to have suffered from something like this.  The only thing we could think of was that he ate something outside that we didn’t know about.

Need to watch him more closely…

REPORT: Neat people are less productive than messy people

March 21, 2007

Revenge is a dish best served cold. – Klingon proverb

  • To my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Snyder, that gave me consistent "S minuses" for neatness…
  • To our office manager that annually berates me for the condition of my cubicle…
  • To my parents who said that if I didn’t improve my neatness, the family wouldn’t go to Disneyland for summer vacation, then made good on their promise when I came home with Mrs. Snyder’s dreaded "S-"…

…well, how ya like me now?

Are You a Slob? Good, You’re More Productive (Reuters)
Karen Jackson would be the first to admit her desk looks like a disaster area.
Her stacks of papers and photographs are so sloppy that the Texas schoolteacher won first place in a contest to find America’s messiest desk.
Sponsored by publisher Little, Brown and Co., the competition promoted "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder," by Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman, a new book that argues neatness is overrated, costs money, wastes time and quashes creativity.,1697,2105584,00.asp

I’ve always told new employees that if you have time to clean up your cube and organize your desk, you clearly don’t have enough to do.  Every spare moment should be spent either face-to-face with your customers, on the phone with your customers, or doing things to help your customers. 

Organizing your damned CDROM library or restacking your computer book shelf does not fall into this category.  Imagine telling your customer:  Gee I’m sorry My Fortune 500 but I couldn’t do any proactive research for you on technologies X, Y, and Z this week because I was too busy reorganizing my drawer of status reports and organizing the corkboard in my cubicle.

I’ve heard some say that "if you can’t find things, you can’t be productive" and I think that’s a complete crock.  I’ve never met anyone that spent hours trying to find something that they were "missing" because ultimately, people just don’t throw things just anywhere:  It’s alway organized in some way or placed in a somewhat narrowed down location in their workspace.  In fact, even if it WAS lost somewhere in a cubicle, who cares?  How long would it take you to search from something in an 8’x8′ piece of floor space anyway?

I’ve been a mess my whole life.  My former manager was a total mess as well.  Well, he retired at the age of 38.  My financial advisor says I can retire when I’m 45. 

How’s that for productivity, Mrs. Snyder?  At the same age you were slapping that school ruler on my desk forcing me to rewrite my book reports with "neater handwriting", I’ll be on a beach, sipping a pina colada, dragging sand all over the place, making 20% on my portfolio. 

At that point you can call me messy & unproductive all you want.

The Worst Day Ever for an IT Guy

March 20, 2007

Think you’ve had a bad day?  Imagine if you were this guy.

Oops! Techie wipes out $38 billion fund
Keystroke mistake deletes data for Alaska’s oil-funded account 

We actually helped them through the recovery process.  We get a small plug in the article.  Check it out.

COMMENTARY: Dear New York Times… Are you guys high?

March 17, 2007

I ran on the New York Times Reader the other day on my Windows Vista laptop. 

I was greeted with a message that said:
The NYTimes Reader beta is ending at the end of March" and at which point it would no longer be free.

Okay.  I’m a capitalist in every sense of the word and I’m also a salesperson.  I can respect the need to make some money on the development of their reader.  Paying for a copy of the NYTimes Reader makes sense to me.  So I read on.

It then said, after March 31st, the usage of the NYTimes Reader would be a subscription fee.

Huh?  Wait.  A subscription fee for the software and New York Times’ content?  I mean, it’s not like the software actually revises & evolves much at all, nor do they have a massive dev team working on it.  In fact, during the beta it never really changed one bit.  All it was was a cleartype reader that downloaded XML data from their news site – information that was free anyway through  Okay, whatever.  As long as it’s not that big a deal, fine.  I’ll pay it.  After all, they’re clearly compensating for the elimination of advertising and that’s certainly worth a few bucks.

It went on to say, that the subscription fee would be $14.95 a month.

WTF?!?  $14.95/month?  Are you guys at NYTimes high?  That’s $180 a year!  I might as well have the damned newspaper physically delivered everyday First Class mail to my house for that rate, which I most certainly won’t do.  There’s more than adequate sources of news on the Internet, including NYTIMES.COM, much less LATIMES.COM and other sites.  The cost of delivery 365 days a year for physical copies of the NYTimes is $320!

Existing NYTimes subscribers get to use the Reader for free.

Well, damn I hope so because at $180, that’s just highway robbery and if you planned on charging existing subscribers that same fee, I might want to go an throw tomatoes at your building just for being stupid.

To put this into perspective, WINDOWS VISTA ITSELF COSTS $180 for our a brand new copy of, "Home Basic", and an upgrade of our top-of-the-line product, "Home Premium" is $180 as well.

Oh the irony:  The cost of a stupid Reader is the same cost as the actual PC operating system that’s required to use it.

And let’s be clear here folks before anyone thinks that they "went through hell and back again" to create this reader:  The New York Times didn’t develop this reader anywhere nearly on their own.  It’s my understanding that Microsoft provided the basic structure of the reader along with Microsoft-funded partner assistance and provided a ton of integration work & technical support as well.  I’ve even heard that it was our partners & creative folks that provided the clean interface look and feel that the reader is known for.  And I won’t lie to you:  We used this reader as a case study & a reference application… look at the power of Windows Vista… NYTimes has made a great tool through it.

And now the New York Times wants to charge an ungodly amount of money for it.  Are you kidding me?  I understand that it doesn’t have advertising and as a result there has to be some compensation for NYTime’s product – the news doesn’t get written about for free.  But there’s just NO WAY as a casual reader I or anyone I know is going to buy this thing on it’s own at half the price of a real subscription.  If you really want the New York Times, you’ll get it delivered and get the reader for free.

And that’s a shame.  Because while I respect the effort put into the NYTime Reader, I respect the partnership between Microsoft & the New York Times, and I respect the value of their news product, setting a value on their content that is 50% of their normal subscription rate for content that is wholly available for free (albeit with ads) on the web is simply ludicrous.

The removal of advertising from NYTimes news content, plus the new user interface for the reader is simply not worth $180/year.

Maybe I was misguided and presumed too much. 

I thought the folks at the NYTimes would have been smart enough to understand the role the Internet has in growing volume, while lowering prices.  Usually when companies provide tools on the web to access traditionally physical based information or products, it’s to expand their readership, grow their marketshare, or market their brand name – not reinforce their existing installed customer base and reinforce their existing price structure.

At Microsoft, we’ve consistently maintained the same price across our consumer Windows product for example:  $99 for upgrades, $180 for full versions.  It’s grown 5 fold in features, it’s increased its support for platforms, it’s dramatically improved its speed, stability, and security, and it’s remained at the same price.  Why?  Because our volumes grow and we develop other products to sell in addition to Windows.  And that’s how Microsoft grows it’s revenue.  High volume, low cost, increased product set.

So how is this different from NYTimes wanting to "improve the existing feature set" of their subscription paper product?  One big difference:  Microsoft has a natural monopoly on PC operating systems.  Growing our customer base beyond 5% a year is just not possible and overall, it’s most certainly not a growth area for us, whereas the NYTimes has primarily New York as a current customer base… they still have the other 49 states to cover and grow into.

I suppose one could make the claim that they did expand their readership through the Beta:  They expanded the awareness people had of their publication, the balance of the writing, and the overall quality of the product.

And while I respect their right to set whatever price they want on their product, to then say to all these casual users:  Now you have to pay an ridiculous fee for the same thing you were getting free  on the web, the same content you were getting free through the beta, and at 50% of the price of the physical medium… folks, that’s just unreasonable.  Unreasonable on a level similar to the kicking and screaming that music publishers have around DRM.  And we all know what’s happened to them since then: 70% drop in music purchases, 90% of all music used is pirated, the majority of MP3s are legitimate rips from existing CDs and Tower Records went out of business.

Imagine in the same vein, someone producing a utility that simply robotically screen scrapes the NYTimes based on it’s existing layout and provided a similar look-and-feel to what the reader does.  It’s very much possible and it wouldn’t require a $14.95/month subscription to use.

Maybe the NYTimes will come around in 6 months or so when usage of the Reader is dead… except for their existing customer base which might use it for free but since they get the paper version, it’s arguable they’ll use it regularly.  They’ll declare the software a failure and that "there wasn’t any demand for the product".  Those that had been following the evolution of the Reader will call the NYTimes idiots knowing that the $180/year price tag was obviously the real adoption blocker, at which point they might even decide to lower the price of the tool.

But until then, I’m saddened by your approach, NYTimes.  You guys had the world’s focus and all the marketing associated with Windows Vista.  You had a great tool at your disposal and a competitive edge over other mediums and right now you’re just throwing it all away.

p.s.  Forbes Magazine’s Windows Vista Reader for their web content remains free.  Also Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Windows Vista Reader for their web content also remains free.  Both are created by Identity Mine – a 3rd party Reader development company.

Randall Patrick Munroe is officially on my OPML file

March 16, 2007

Okay – I thought this blog would be just a flash in the pan thing that I visit once then never look at again.  Then I read this entry and nearly pissed myself:

Screw Daylight Savings

March 9th, 2007

I’m not playing ball this year. You can spring ahead if you want, but my ass is staying right here. You must not know ’bout me. If you think I’m setting my clocks ahead, or going to bed earlier you better check yourself.

When Monday morning comes you might call me late, but you’re the one who’s retarded.

And the Winter Solstice can get fucked too.

Then he has another post that has this on it:

Pakistan: Tough on lawyers

March 13th, 2007

I’m not a big fan of beat-downs at public protests, but the Globe and Mail caption on this pic almost made me piss my cubicle.


He’s not just a blogger:  He’s my HERO.  Mr. Munroe – you sir, are the man.

HUMOR: To Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity

March 16, 2007

I generally hate forwarded emails.  This one however had me chuckling.  It reminded me of the kind of stuff I used to get back in the BBS days:  Lists of things you could do to your school to rebel.  Things like, "Leave little slips of paper lying around for the administration to find that say, ‘Tuesdays the day’", and "Carry a screwdriver around with you and slowly dismantle the school."

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity 

  1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars.  See if they slow down.
  2. Page yourself over the Intercom.  Don’t disguise your voice.
  3. Everytime someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
  4. Put your garbage can on the desk and label it, "In".
  5. Put decaf in the coffeemaker for 3 weeks.  Once everyone’s gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.
  6. In the memo field of all your checks, write, "For smuggling diamonds"
  7. Finish all your sentences with "in accordance with The Prophecy".
  8. Don’t use any punctuation.
    As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
  9. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.
  10. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go".
  11. Sing along at the Opera.
  12. Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.
  13. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day.
  14. Five days in advance, tell your friends that you can attend their party because you’re not in the mood.
  15. Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, "Rock Bottom"
  16. When the money comes out of the ATM, screen "I won!  I won!"
  17. When leaving the zoo, start running toward the parking lot yelling, "Run for your lives!  They’re loose!"
  18. Tell your children over dinner:  "Due to the economy, we’re going to have to let one of you go."

How to pay a bill when angry

March 16, 2007

This is just fantastic.  This guy’s awesome.  I’m equally amazed that someone else hasn’t done this before and posted it to the Internet.  This might create a trend… and the best part is the memo.

So of course the next step is to try to hunt down this Randall Patrick Munroe, right?  That’s naturally the first thing I did when I received this in my inbox.  And sure enough…

Talk about adding to the hilarity:  Look at all the sliderule-types in the comments section:  I used to get beat up in school for making comments similar to what’s written. 

I mean, I’m a definitely a geek and sometimes I would classify myself as a nerd (especially when I’m rambling on & on about the differences between illegally defined track-based and precision data placement CDROM copy protection or the percentage edge obtainable in a Vegas strip casino on a 6:5 payout game with surrender versus a 3:2 without… blah blah blah… gettin’ the picture?)…

…but the comments on Randall’s page for this check?  PURE DORK.  They’re actually analyzing the equation and critiquing him on his math.  Here’s a sampling:


noob mathematicians ;-p the total is essentially 0.

e^([pi]i) = -1
just like ln(-1)=[pi]i

i, indicates an imaginary number which has a few different calculations than real numbers. You can do it by hand, or just say ’screw it’ and use a TI-83 or equivalent.

∑1/2^n = 1

Even though beginners will translate it as .999… that number is a fallacious number, and is thus translated as 1. (Just like 2/3 is equal to .666…, 3/3 = .999… AND 1)

And finally, when dealing with money, anything less than a cent, can NOT be rounded up to a cent. It is in fact rounded down.

Plan and simple, he gave them a check for nothing… and is refusing to pay his bill.


The “i” imaginary number is factored out. e^ix = cos(x) + i*sin(x) (Euler’s Law); since sin(pi) = 0, the “i” is factored out — and cos(pi) = -1. Then the series shown does not equal “1″, but rather pi^2/6 (it’s a power series expansion). What you’re left with is:

0.002 – (pi^2)/6,

or roughly -$1.64. Which tells me that Mr. Munroe must have had a credit of $1.64 on his account… 🙂


That check is made out incorrectly. The numerical part on the right side is acceptable, but the “Dollar Line” is totally unacceptable because that line is supposed to be written in word form, and not a repeat of the numerical value. Verizon should have refused to accept it and maintained a balance due on the account. HOWEVER, the whole idea is terrific!

EVENT: Best Friends Pet Adoption Festival – March 18th… this Sunday!

March 15, 2007

If you love animals, and want to see a MASSIVE 65 ADOPTION GROUP festival with more animals than you can imagine that all need homes, please come see us this Sunday from 11AM-4PM in Burbank at the Johnny Carson Park.




INFO: Things I’ve learned from playing Blackjack in Vegas

March 15, 2007
  1. Blackjack tables that pay 6:5 on natural 21s are all that you’ll find in a BJ player’s version of hell.
  2. Any table with a continuous shuffling machine should be avoided like the plague*.
  3. Your comps from the casino are roughly one average bet per hour. 
  4. Be prepared to "go on a bathroom break" or "answer a cell phone call" when the table goes cold.
  5. Casino credit is the best way to play; pre-apply for it through the casino web site.
  6. Always plan a show, a dinner, and a daily activity each day in Vegas:  It clears your mind.
  7. If you vary your bet more than 4x, be prepared to only play in 1 hour stints.
  8. Never "reset" your bet to a minimum on shuffles.
  9. All a casino needs to do to rip you off is remove a few 10’s.
  10. Tokes (dealer tips) should be placed on top of your bet, not in front. 
  11. Keep a basic strategy card with you on the table at all times; take the time to refer to it if don’t know the correct call.
  12. The best drink while playing 21 is Red Bull on the rocks:  It looks like whisky.
  13. If you’re going to play like a marathon as an advantage player, try to play by yourself.
    If you’re going to play opportunistically by selectively joining games, try to play with a few others.
  14. 10-10-3-10-10-8-9-6-7-2-1-5-4 is the order of a ‘cooler’ deck.
  15. The discard case is transparent red to prevent card marking.
  16. Quietly sneaking chips off table is a good practice… but it’s frowned upon by the casino.
  17. If you’re planning for comps, assume you’ll lose the money once you step off the plane. 
  18. If you’re playing for money, assume you’re going to win the moment you step off the plane.
  19. Comps are based on your length of play & your average bet – not your win/loss record.
  20. Always order a non-alcoholic cocktail; never play tired or drunk.
  21. Always have a ‘safe harbor’ to go to in a casino, where you can relax quietly if you’re lost.
  22. Come with a mix of cash for tips & traveler’s checks for other things.
  23. If you win more than $10K, it’ll be reported by the casino to the IRS as taxable winnings.
    If you lose more than $10K, the IRS will have no idea so you can’t write it off as a loss.
  24. If you have $1000 chips, it’ll need to be reported by the pit boss before you can go to the cashier.
    Additionally, the pit boss doesn’t "clock you out" immediately after leaving a table so wait a while to grow your comp time.
  25. Always make your initial bet a big one to get recorded as one end of your average bet.
  26. You should always be able to make around 100 bets on average with your total bankroll.
  27. You have a limited bankroll while the house has an unlimited bankroll.  This is why, when the house has an edge, ultimately the house always wins.
  28. Blackjack is either a lot of frivolous fun, or it’s hard work & drudgery.
  29. All big losing streaks can be healed by one of the following:
    1. Big comeback wins
    2. Cocktails & good friends
    3. High roller treatment & a good loud Vegas club
    4. The Hard Rock Pool & YK-35 at Nobu’s
  30. Be kind to your dealer:  He/she is often the one who determines what your average bet was.
  31. Always hit 12 against a 2 or 3; Always stand on 13.
  32. Go to Vegas between conventions; schedules are available from
  33. Never take insurance.
  34. Ben Mezrich’s books make the pursuit of Blackjack far more romantic than it really is.
  35. If the limits are too high, ask a pitboss to lower them when action’s low.
  36. Play with superstitions, but don’t believe in them. 3rd base does NOT control the game.
  37. Don’t hate the dealer – hate the shoe.
  38. The first rule of the Playboy Club is you DO NOT PLAY BLACKJACK AT THE PLAYBOY CLUB.
  39. Tip a pool boy $20 the day before to reserve a chair at the Hard Rock Pool.
  40. The more decks in the shoe, the more of an edge the casino has against you.
  41. Sometimes it’s more fun to read about Blackjack at than it is to play it.
  42. High limit dealers are often the friendliest.
  43. If you don’t like smoke, don’t play.
  44. RFB comps on the strip require around $200-$300 of play a day.
  45. Never play at any any Blackjack game using MindPlay MP21 tables**.
    This means the entire Flamingo Las Vegas.
  46. A single deck table with exactly 4 players is by far one of the best games to play.
  47. The Internet knows how bad the edge is at your favorite casino at
  48. Blackjack players are as bad as sports fans as evidenced by the forums.
  49. Most books on Blackjack regurgitate the same stuff over and over again; ask before you buy.
  50. Professional Blackjack players are just geniuses far beyond our comprehension & even they’re making diminishing returns, so the sooner everyone learns this the sooner we can all just get on with our lives.

* There’s one exception to this rule:  If you have a "Naturals pay 3-1 coupon" (usually for a Downtown Vegas casino) you probably want to play on a CSM.  This is because, these coupons only last a half-hour or an hour and you want to try to get in as many hands as possible during the time allotted & CSMs eliminate the time for shuffling.

** MindPlay tables are electronic tables that optically scans the cards & the chips being wagered.  The casino knows exactly what cards are being played and precisely what you’ve bet.  To quote Stanford Wong, "The easiest way to tell a MindPlay table is by the recessed "well" to the dealer’s right. After shuffling or removing the cards from the shuffling machine, but before dealing, the dealer will insert the cards into this "well." Inside the "well" is a scanner that reads the marked cards, enabling the MindPlay device to know the exact order of the cards before they are dealt. A normal table does not have this recessed "well." In addition, you will see a black contraption that is used to hold the dealers first two cards."

VIDEO: “How to Kill Your Brand”… a.k.a. “The PS3 Song”

March 11, 2007

OMFG.  Anyone that’s been following the game console wars simply has to watch this video.
Video: The PS3 Song – "How to kill a brand"

In case, you have any doubt about whether Sony deserves a ribbing like this, may I remind you of all that’s happened over the last year?!97895BBB8AD10F37!373.entry

WTF’s up with Psuedoephedrine?

March 6, 2007

I’ve been sick over the past 5 days with a wicked cold that’s made it hard for me to even drive to the pharmacy to get meds.  It’s so weird how run down and tired you get just walking from the car to the pharmacy (which by the way is waaaaaay in the back of store, which you really can’t appreciate how lousy the placement of the pharmacy is until you’re sick and you have to go all the way to the back on your lonesome)  Thank God for spouses.

So while I was perusing the aisles at Ralphs, I noticed that not a damned thing contains psuedoephedrine.  Y’know, the stuff that dries up your sinuses so that you can breathe?  It’s a nasal decongestant that is (or should I say, WAS) found in Sudafed, Actifed, and other over the counter medications.

But not more.  There’s absolutely nothing out there now on the shelves that uses it.  I didn’t think this would be that big a deal until I bought $14 worth of the "new generation" of sinus & ‘runny nose’ meds which contact a pseudophedrine replacement in them called "phenylephrine" only to discover that they DON’T WORK FOR @#$%

No – I’m serious.  I did the f-ing Pepsi challenge on this phenylephrine crap relative to my last package of old generation Actifed which had psuedoephedrine in it.  The results? 

  • Time until clear sinuses with Phenylephrine (Actifed/SudafedPE):  NEVER
  • Time until clear sinuses with Psuedophedrine (Actifed/SudafedPE):  7min-10min.

After tearing up the "Internets" (as Kevin Pereira would call them) I discovered the reason:  Apparently, folks that make crystal meth buy and use large quantities of cold medication to produce… well… crystal meth. 

And because it’s a ghetto, low cost, drug (it’s apparently like the "moonshine" of drugs:  It’s available in large quantities and thus everyone can get it if they know the right people however only folks that frankly can’t afford better make it/use it) they’ve imposed a  statewide ban on psuedoephedrine much to the dismay of those of use with cold viruses – like me.

It turns out that you CAN get psuedophedrine.

If you’re like me, you never default to asking for help from store employees on topics that actually require thought.  You’d instead prefer to work with an ATM or a computer or something that frankly doesn’t require the frustration of human contact.  My tolerance for ineptitude is exceptionally low when I’m ill.  Unfortunately, this tactics loses in the end because if you apply it at the pharmacy, you’d never know where the psuedophedrine went to. 

It turns out it’s behind the counter at the pharmacy.  You can get it with out a prescription however you have to provide an ID, and a credit card… and you have to sign a log book before you can get your meds.  There is also a max on how much you can buy:  2 packages per person per day or a max of 3.6 grams per day.  My wife smartly bought the Sudefed 12 hour which is a quadruple dose (120mg) of psuedophedrine per capsule.  The regular crap is 30mg/capsule.

There was an article in the Washington Post about this:

I guess, I’m not that pissed.  I just wish this was better advertised.  I mean, I went to two different stores and I never saw a damned thing about this change in active ingredients.  Normally, I’m not one to complain, but that’s probably because, normally I take my meds, I get well, no problem.

This unfortunately doesn’t work if the meds are ineffective.  I’d even gone so far as to double dose on that phenylephrine crap and it still didn’t work.  Who the hell buys this new crap anyway?