Westfield Century City Smart Parking

January 26, 2018

imageI started using Westfield’s Smart Parking system at Century City (the only mall that supports it in the US as far as I know).

Here’s a description of how it works – it may require installing the Westfield app on your Android or iPhone device, although I’ve been told there’s a way to do this online as well.


Before your visit, create a Westfield account, add your vehicle’s license plate, and save your payment card details.


Our cameras will recognize your license plate when you arrive at the parking garage. Watch the gate open automatically. No ticket needed.


When you’re done, validate by scanning a QR code at a participating retailer or just drive out. We’ll bill your card directly and send you a receipt. Simple!

So I’ve actually used it, and it indeed works this way.  The cameras and the entrances & exits automatically recognize your car and let you in & out – automatically charging your credit card on file.  They have a description of the service online here:


WARNING: It appears based on the feedback that I’ve read, that despite the app having a QR code reader built into it to recognize & consume ‘validation’ tickets issued by the AMC Theatres and Guest Services, the validations feature doesn’t work on either iOS or Android so prepare to pay whatever non-discounted fee it is that Westfield charges & not be able to accept validations if you get them at the mall. 

You can download the apps here:

Stockman: ‘Calamity Don’ Has ‘No Idea He’s Presiding over the Biggest Fiscal Disaster in History’

December 22, 2017

David Stockman, former Budget Director for Ronald Reagan, has a whopper of a YouTube channel

Check out this video where he crushes Neil Cavuto on his understanding of the US economy, and it starts with this serve & volley:

Over the next 10 years, the government looks to take in $43 Trillion dollars in revenue & taxes.  That’s a lot of money.

Yeah, but it looks to put out $53 Trillion in spending!

Stockman: ‘Calamity Don’ Has ‘No Idea He’s Presiding over the Biggest Fiscal Disaster in History’

Stockman: Here’s Why Trump’s Tax Plan Won’t Stimulate the Economy Like Reagan’s

December 22, 2017

This video is a simple 10 minute explanation of why Trump’s tax plan won’t work, why reducing corporate taxes doesn’t stimulate job growth, and why our situation today is completely different from the Reagan era from David Stockman, RONALD REAGAN’S BUDGET DIRECTOR as broadcast on the FOX BUSINESS NETWORK.

(…and what should have been done instead.)

Money quote, speaking about Steve Mnuchin & the advocates of the GOP Tax Plan:

“These people are total fakes. I’ve never seen anything that was as content free, as substance-less, as this 9 pager that came out.”

Stockman: Here’s Why Trump’s Tax Plan Won’t Stimulate the Economy Like Reagan’s

“12 Months of Trump’s Mess” – The Parody Project

December 22, 2017

Holy cow, this is amazing.

12 MONTHS OF TRUMP’S MESS (Parody of 12 Days of Christmas)

“Annoyed photographer nearly ignores Mom who walks in at end of workday, then spots her daughter”

December 15, 2017

Wanna read something heartwarming?  I had a crap week and this was a very much needed read for me.  A little chicken soup for the soul, perhaps.


OMG. Omarosa got fired. MegaLOL.

December 13, 2017

Bye Felicia.

Omarosa Manigault dragged off of The White House grounds by security, “She’s Always Had Drama”

Jake Tapper fact checks Roy Moore spokesman

December 13, 2017

Watch Roy Moore’s spokesperson stare into the camera, unable to respond after being caught in his own ignorance.  This video is seriously the textbook definition of #rekt.

Watch the folks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe laugh so hard, they cry

December 13, 2017

This is seriously one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while. 

Watch Joe Scarborough and his panel laugh their collective tails off after hearing an obviously fake Robocall that Roy Moore claimed was Washington Post’s reporters soliciting people/paying people for claims against Roy Moore.

Apparently, the GOP’s perpetrators of fraud aren’t that sophisticated in Alabama.

HOWTO: Record a VOIP phone call in OneNote 2016 for Windows

December 13, 2017

UPDATE 1/12/18:
I discovered that hitting MUTE during the call from your VOIP speakerphone may prevent OneNote from recording the audio in both directions (not just audio from your microphone) during the call.  OneNote will record audio while MUTE is off, however when it is on, you may hear long periods of silence.  This may be dependent on your hardware however this is what I’ve seen in my testing on a Polycom CX300 VOIP desk phone.

ORIGINAL POST – 12/13/17:
imageThe other day I received the question:

“How can I record a phone call while using OneNote 2016 for Windows?  For example, if I’m using OneNote to take notes during a phone call with, say, a customer service representative in order to take down their name, the claim/case number they’ve issued me, & the details of what I’ve been told… it’d be great to be able to also record the call using OneNote’s recording feature while I’m taking notes to fully take advantage of things like OneNote’s voice-to-text capabilities, audio search-ability, & audio timemarking to jump to specific spots in the recording & playback.”

[Disclaimer: I’m a tech – not a lawyer.  This is a post about what’s technically possible using OneNote. Please research your state’s laws on this phone recording to ensure you are using this feature in a lawful manner.]

Recording phone calls is simple in OneNote 2016 however there are some pre-requisites.  You must have the following:

  1. VOIP phone solution.  Skype for Business 2015 or 2016, Lync 2013, or Skype (consumer) are all great examples of Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) phone solutions in which you can make phone calls over an Internet connection.
  2. VOIP speakerphone connected to your Windows computer.  This is critical because VOIP headsets (where the speaker & microphone are isolated) will not work.  Only one channel (the microphone) will be recorded if an attempt is made to record a call using a headset, in my tests. You must use a speakerphone in order for both sides of a call to be recorded.

Configuring this within OneNote requires the following:

  1. Set OneNote audio recording device specifically to the “speakerphone”.
    Go to File –> Options: “Audio Video”.  Under “Audio recording settings”, click the “Device” field dropdown list & select the entry matching your speakerphone.
  2. [OPTIONAL] Select & configure the codec/format.
    If you require a crystal clear call recording, you can do the following:

        1. Change codecs
          Under “Audio recording settings”, click the “Codec” field dropdown list & select “Windows Media Audio 10 Professional”.  Warning: This will greatly increase the drive storage requirements by as much as 10x and will balloon your OneNote file size, but your audio quality will be substantially higher. You can hear a pin drop with this codec.  If you anticipate only voice discussions, you may consider simply using the default codec, “Windows Media Audio Voice 9” which compresses audio much, much better and is much more efficient on disk space.
        2. Change audio fidelity.
          Under “Audio recording settings”, click “Format” and select “20 kbps, 22.05 kHz, mono”.  This will increase the sampling rate & provide a much clearer recording.  Again, this will produce a larger audio recording in your OneNote in use more drive storage.
  3. Click Record Audio.
    From the OneNote ribbon, click File –> Insert –> “Record Audio”. (Note: This will be greyed out if you’ve previously recorded something within the active OneNote page.
  4. Press “Stop” when you’re done.


December 8, 2017

I love everything about this spot.

Because you can never have too many dog videos

December 4, 2017

Stuff to save & play back for my son

August 12, 2017

Andy Serkis reads Trump’s tweets outloud… as Gollum

July 12, 2017

I’m pretty certain this is the best thing that I will see all week.

Henry Rollins: The One Decision that Changed My Life Forever

July 10, 2017

I love this video so much because I see so much of myself in it.

The line that got me was, “I don’t have talent: I have tenacity.  I have discipline.  I have focus.”

I remember in high school thinking, the truth is that I’m not inherently talented.  I just have some odd interests that make me unique & ultimately, I always try harder than the next guy.  And the next guy.  And the next guy.  Figuratively, I’m the last guy in the gym taking jump shots everyday.

The other thing Henry said was, “You better get plan B, C, D, E, F, & G, otherwise you’re going to starve to death in America.”

This is so true.  I could never understand people that didn’t prepare for when things didn’t go their way.  It’s part of what boggles me about Hollywood because there’s a saying here for folks in the entertainment industry that goes, “Don’t have a plan B because that’s a plan for failure & you’ll too easily fall back on it.”

My god, who in their right mind wouldn’t plan for failure unless they treated failure as something awful?  Failure is a learning opportunity & how fast & how well you recover from failure is what defines a person’s character.

The only time you really fail is when you don’t get back up.  And there’s nothing wrong with preparing to get back up… and go a head in a direction.

DirecTV & “Your receiver isn’t authorized to record this program”

June 22, 2017

I have DirecTV with an older DVR model – the HR20.  The other day I was watching a show & attempted to record it by hitting the “RECORD” button on the remove after about 35min had gone by of the 1 hour long show. 

I was greeted with this message:

“Your receiver isn’t authorized to record this program.”

I hit RECORD multiple times and it still wouldn’t work.  I’ve actually seen this before but never figured out what was causing it.  After doing some research, I’ve found out the following things:

This is apparently associated with a long standing bug in the DirecTV DVR software that affects numerous models – including mine:

    If the program you’re watching & want to record is a good ways into the show, it is a known problem that attempting to record the show by hitting “the RECORD button may fail with this error.
    I’ve heard that it has to do with the live buffer being completely filled – i.e. all 3 hours of live in-progress buffer is filled with past programming.  This is why this doesn’t happen consistently:  If you or the DVR has changed channels within the last 3 hours, you won’t get this issue.
    If you change the channel and switch back, you’ll find that hitting the RECORD button will now work… however you will have lost the buffer of the show’s progress. i.e. If you’d watched 35min of the show, then change to another channel and come back to the original channel, you will be able to record but you will not hae the previous 35min in the recording.
    If you go to the channel guide and press RECORD on the show playing at that moment, the recording SHOULD still work.  This is the best workaround.

Differences between Windows 10 Mobile (Nokia Icon) & Android (Samsung Galaxy S8)

June 15, 2017

imageHere’s a list of things I’ve noticed that are different between Windows 10 Mobile (Nokia Icon) & Android (Samsung Galaxy S8) since I’ve moved over:


  • Device unlock & authentication using fingerprint is a seamless experience.  While really not necessary & just a ‘nice-to-have’, this is probably the most surprising & delightful thing I’ve discovered about moving to the Samsung Galaxy S8.  Every time I discover another Android app that supports fingerprint auth (Bank of America, Chase, Paypal, etc.) instead of username/pwd/pin, I smile.
  • Battery life is really excellent.  While it is a new phone, I would argue that the battery life on the unit is 100%-150% more than that of my old Nokia Icon.  I used to make do with charging in my car or carrying an extra battery like we all do. So far I haven’t needed an extra battery, so again, this is convenient but a ‘nice-to-have’.
  • Fast. Wow, this thing is fast. Apps run fast, both wired & wireless charging is fast, fingerprint/facial authentication is fast, browsing is fast.  Again, while this sounds exciting, it’s more of a ‘nice to have’.
  • Skype for Business client for Android absolutely kicks the ASS of the W10M version and that’s pretty embarrassing. Part of this has to do with how the app runs in the background all the time, while it closes when not in the foreground on W10M.  This is borderline revolutionary because I use Skype for Business so much, and a pretty good value proposition for moving to Android.
  • Thin & light.  It’s indeed the thinnest phone I’ve ever had.  Even with a gel case, it’s thinner than my Nokia Icon.  The downside is that you don’t feel like you have a grip on the phone they way you did with the Nokia. I’m dreading the day I drop it.
  • The display is a little longer – about 3/4” longer – than the Nokia Icon and that’s including the softkeys at the base (back, home, apps), meaning there’s a bit more real estate to display things.
  • The display is really beautiful.  There’s no question that it’s the most vibrant and easy to view screen I’ve ever used.  The auto-brightness is excellent as well.  This element of the phone is nearly perfect.  But because of the convex nature of the glass, you REALLY need to get a tempered glass protector over it – which is a simple $12 purchase.


  • It hate having to page through grids of icons.  I used to be able to store 90% of what I needed on a single page because of resizable tiles under Windows 10 Mobile.  Now I have to have 4 pages of unsizeable icons.
  • Outlook for Android doesn’t appear to have the basic ability to set an appointment as “private”.  Nor does it have the ability to set categories.  Or make an appointment reoccurring. 
  • Configuration is a nightmare.  There are so many configuration menus & sections, it’s mind-boggling.  Easily 3x-4x more than W10M, and while that is partially due to there being more flexibility, a lot of it is just lousy UI.  Good luck ever finding what you need in that maze of knobs & switches.  Worst configuration panel ever.
  • The UI is very inconsistent between apps & the OS. “OK” or “Send” is top of screen, bottom of screen, left of center, right of center. Really annoying – especially when the send button is at the top of the screen & because of the length of the phone, you have to move your hand to the top of the screen.
  • Microsoft Authenticator doesn’t always pop up notifications when expected.  We use Microsoft Authenticator to verify two-factor authentication for everything from VPN into Microsoft to access to extranet sites and not getting the notification on your phone for TFA auth is disturbing.  You find yourself frantically opening the Authenticator app and checking to see if it’s working – which is usually is, but Android simply didn’t post a system notification for you to respond to.
  • Widgets suck.  They take up a horrendous amount of space, none of them look attractive, and they’re all poorly written.
  • Voice to text is super important for me, and Google’s voice to text is quite accurate – but it doesn’t autocapitalize proper nouns or the first letter of each sentence, nor does it add punctuation where it belongs.  Cortana voice to text is FANTASTIC.  It not only does a great job with capitalization & punctuation but also with proper nouns.  I really miss it.
  • Not having Outlook contacts sync with the local contacts of the phone is a royal PITA.  You can push all your Outlook contacts (via the Outlook settings) to your Android contacts but once they’re out of sync, you’ll get incoming calls/texts that have only a phone number… annoying. 
  • Android Notification hell is hell.  I remember seeing other Android users’ notification icons and saying, “Why do you have so many icons at the top of your screen?” and they usually just shrug and say they ignore it.  How stupid is that?  Every damned app has notifications access & to tune your notifications, you basically have to wait until something shows up that annoys the hell out of you & then mute it or turn off notifications entirely for that one app.  There’s no standards for notifications on Android… it’s horrible.  I don’t remember ever going through this hell on any other platform.
  • The device froze on me.  I woke up one morning and the device was completely locked up on my nightstand.  I have to do a Volume-Power button reset.  After doing so, the always on clock configuration was weirdly reset. I don’t remember my Windows 10 Mobile EVER locking up on me. It may have had other issues but that wasn’t one of them.
  • Audio stop & start.  If I get a call or a reminder while music or audio is playing, the audio won’t necessarily continue.  This appears to be a ‘per app’ thing – as in each app has to take care of this on their own.  For example, there’s a setting on Audible for Android to continue playing back audio if it’s interrupted by a phone call or a notification.  On other apps, that’s not necessarily available.  So when you get a phone call or a text message, the audio… just stops.  In the car or in the shower, that’s really annoyingly stupid.

The future of connectivity is cellular.

June 3, 2017

This past week at Computex 2017 in Taipei, Microsoft announced a series of Always-Connected PCs – some Qualcomm ARM CPU-based, some Intel CPU-based. One of the showcase capabilities of these devices are eSIM-based cellular connectivity.

If you’re not paying attention, you could very well miss what seems an obvious future:

Cellular networking will soon outperform traditional wired & WiFi-based networking.

Your cellphone & any cellularly-connected devices will potentially have network speeds & performance superior to any WiFi, DSL, Cable or even FIBER connection you might get at home, at the office, or in a coffee shop.

Need evidence?  Here’s a device that was announced March 2017:

This home router connects to a cellular network at home & provides 1Gbps Internet access at the edge (farthest from the cell tower) and 4Gbps optimally at close distances.

Now imagine a fraction of this speed in your pocket on your cellphone: Anywhere you go, you could wirelessly get Internet access better than what is available from your home or your office. (Some people get this today compared to a DSL line!) Yes, your smartphone may not get a full 1Gbps due to power requirements, but it could be as much as 300-500Mbps.

Yup.  Prepare yourself for your cellphone to have blazing network speeds.  But so will ANY CELLUARLY-CONNECTED device…  such as eSIM-enabled laptops & tablets… and also:

DESKTOPS: This is why Microsoft is partnering with HW OEMs to produce laptops & potentially DESKTOPS with cellular networking in them.  If a person can get better networking from cellular than from the Ethernet port in the wall, why not just use cellular and get rid of all the wires & equipment? Suddenly management of those machines got a lot simpler.

SERVERS: Why can’t datacenter servers be connected this way too? Indeed: Datacenter servers could use cellular as well.  All traffic would be encrypted & it would likely save power, reduce heat dissipation, and reduce management costs.

A WORD ABOUT SURFACE: The decision to include/not include LTE in past Surface devices wasn’t really ever about demand. (a.k.a. the statement we made that “We aren’t including LTE in Surface because customers aren’t asking for it.”) C’mon – we know that there were, in fact, people asking for it, otherwise why would we need to make a statement about it?  No, it was more about hardware economics: At the time of Surface Pro 2 & 3, we couldn’t physically fit the LTE transceiver & antenna into the Surface design without it substantially impacting aspects such as cost, battery life, and ultimately the time/budget to rearchitect a design for something that a minority of device owners would use where others wouldn’t. With Surface Pro (5) enough hardware innovation has been done to incorporate LTE Advanced into the device design cost-effectively, but it took a bit.

…then you can make voice calls & have voice mail, right? Now think about that: If you don’t need a physical network or WiFi & you’re already on a cellular phone network, why do you need a VOIP phone system?

In other words, if I get rid of my wired/WiFi network at work, can’t I get rid of my desk phone PBX as well?

Yup.  All those corporate PBX’s & VOIP desk phones suddenly aren’t really necessary if you’re using a cellphone for everything.  Now, all you need is virtual telecom management solutions that work with your cellular provider and you’re set.

This is not 10 years down the road.  This is next year in mid-2018. Among other providers, Verizon has committed to making 5G available in major cities by then.

Also, it’s important to understand that the technology is not new:

  1. The cellular bandwidth/speeds in Japan is regularly 500Mbps–1Gbps, while we in the US get excited about our smartphones phones doing 5-25Mbps.
  2. While 4Gbps 5G network performance is stunning, Japanese researchers in early 2016, had developed 100Gbps 5G network performance. Again note: This is GIGABIT speeds. conventional WiFi on laptops working in offices & coffee shops generally only do 300Mbps-1Gbps at optimal conditions.

Of course, this won’t be everywhere overnight.  But it will be in metropolitan cities & expanding.

This transition is similar to the move from land line phones to cell phones:  If all your networking is cellular & and routing is all done virtually, where does this leave networking vendors who depend on conventional network equipment sales for revenue  Good question. I don’t really know. Personally, at first glance, I think it means they have to diversify their offerings as the market changes.

Windows 10 is actually optimized for cellular networking. If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the cellular configuration settings that are in the OS:

imageThere is also an app called “Paid WiFi & Cellular” that comes with Windows 10 that allows you to purchase cellular minutes in areas not covered by unlimited data consumption for your eSIM enabled Windows device.


Two body solutions are stop-gap solutions.  Having a MiFi Internet Access device & laptop PC (or a MiFi USB dongle) may be okay for a subsegment of the world, but for most people buying computing devices: They want the connectivity built-in to the computing device itself. We saw this in past history in the mobile market and we’re seeing it now here. (I’ll explain that in another post later.)

One thing that was mentioned by some experts is that Chromebooks don’t have this – neither to Macbooks.  (iPads have historically had an early version of embedded cellular/SIM technology but the challenge has often been, how do you move from carrier to carrier on the same iPad.)  Additionally, cellular is incredibly important in markets where WiFi & LAN networking isn’t as readily available… like China.  Or India.

Isn’t that interesting?

Angry about the AHCA? How about doing something about it?

May 6, 2017

imageTwo days ago, Republicans in Congress voted to pass the American Healthcare Act – an insane piece of legislation that has only two purposes:  Spite & power.

  • Not a a single healthcare organization supports it. 
  • The House Oversight Committee never got the chance to study it and provide estimates on it’s impact.
  • Not a single Democrat voted for it.
  • AHCA effectively cuts healthcare from 24 million citizens – especially those with pre-existing conditions who desperately need it.

Documented here (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h256) the inhumane suffering & loss of life over the next several years will be staggering.  For an idea of the impact this will have, read this article:

So what are you going to do about it?

I’ll make it simple for you:

Almost every Republican voted for the bill.  If your Congressman is Republican, it’s likely he or she wanted to protect their own jobs & voted AGAINST the American people’s interests, believing you, their constituents, wouldn’t notice their actions when they run for reelection in 2018.

  1. AGAIN, ALMOST EVERY REPUBLICAN IN THE HOUSE VOTED TO PASS IT. (Click here for the House vote tally – the following Republicans did NOT vote for the AHCA)
      1. Biggs, Andy, AZ 5th
      2. Coffman, Mike, CO 6th
      3. Massie, Thomas, KY 4th
      4. LoBiondo, Frank, NJ 2nd
      5. Smith, Chris, NJ 4th
      6. Lance, Leonard, NJ 7th
      7. Katko, John, NY 24th
      8. Jones, Walter, NC 3rd
      9. Turner, Michael, OH 10th
      10. Joyce, David, OH 14th
      11. Costello, Ryan, PA 6th
      12. Meehan, Patrick, PA 7th
      13. Dent, Charles, PA 15th
      14. Hurd, Will, TX 23rd
      15. Comstock, Barbara, VA 10th
      16. Herrera Beutler, Jaime, WA 3rd
      17. Reichert, David, WA 8th
      18. Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana, FL 27th
      19. Donovan Jr., Daniel, NY 11th
      20. Fitzpatrick, Brian, PA 8th
      21. Newhouse, Dan, WA 4th
    (Figure out who your Congressman is, if you don’t know. If they were Republican, they voted against public interests. Click here to look them up.)
    (Prepare for the next Congressional election. Make your vote count. Click here to get registered.)
  4. VOTE & ENCOURAGE OTHERS. (November 2018 is the next Congressional election. Voting is the single most impactful action you can take. Click here to find out when & where the next election will be in your location.)

My favorite pinball game of all time: “Slugfest Baseball”

May 3, 2017
Slugfest Baseball/Pinball Game Play

I started nostalgically searching for my favorite pinball game of all time, back in college, and OMG, I FOUND IT.  It was called “Slugfest Baseball” and this pinball game was amazing. I must have plugged 1000’s of dollars into that game – all in quarters.

PITCHING: It would pitch a pinball to you that you had to hit with a flipper with 4 different pitches: Fastball, curveball, change up, & sinker. The fastball & change up are self explanatory, but the sinker put backspin on the ball so it’d slow down right before it hit you. And the curveball would go off to the side using MAGNETS under the game top.

HITTING: Where you hit the ball made a big difference. You had to hit the highlighted sensors in the back for a single, double or triple, otherwise, it’d be an out. If the ball came back, naturally it was a strike. But if you were fast, you could rapidly pound the ‘steal’ button with a man on base and steal with the leading runner.

HOMERUNS: The big exciting moment came when the clean up hitter came up: An actual ramp would lift out of the game top for the duration of your at-bat. If you hit the ball up the ramp with enough velocity, it’d leap into the air and actually hit the upper deck above the sensors – which was a home run.

RUNS=CARDS: For every 5 runs you made, or a Grand Slam, you could actually get a real baseball card given to you. There was a dispenser under the game that would drop your baseball cards like little rewards for doing well. I actually got a Chipper Jones rookie card from the machine.

AMBIANCE: The game’s ambiance was fantastic. It played organ music and had a crowd noise. It had the voice of an umpire calling the balls & strikes, and when you hit it out of the park on a home run, the lights would turn off on the game and explode in a ridiculous celebration of the hit.

TWO PLAYER: The game could be played two player. One person could select from the 4 pitches and the other player would have to hit, and you’d swap after 3 outs. People used to gather around the game to watch people play. I skipped classes in college to finish games until the 9th inning. We must have played that machine into the ground.

…this game is probably the last remaining arcade game I’d buy if I had the room in our house.

Where the Heck is Matt? 2016

May 1, 2017

Did you know that Matt Harding did another “Where the hell is Matt?” video compilation at the end of 2016?

Where the Heck is Matt? 2016

Where the Heck is Matt? 2016

In case you’re not familiar with Matt Harding, he’s been a source of happiness for me over the past 10-15 years.  So much so that I bought one of his orange t-shirts.

Just start at 2005 and keep watching:

Where the Hell is Matt? 2005

Where the Hell is Matt? 2005

Where the Hell is Matt? 2006

Where the Hell is Matt? 2006

Where the Hell is Matt? 2008

Where the Hell is Matt? 2008

Where the Hell is Matt? 2012

Where the Hell is Matt? 2012