Waking up at 3AM is getting old

Ok, this is getting old. Waking up at 3:00 AM and not going back to sleep. Argh.

The reason: Tate, one of our Greyhounds, goes out to relieve himself. He has been doing it at 5-ish, but lately that has become 3:00 AM. Alas, since he has a fecophilia vibe, he generally will turn around after defecating and wolf his own feces right down.

Yuck.

So, when I hear the swish/swish of the doggie door, I start monitoring him. When I see him pacing, I know it is time to get the sweats on, and be ready to scoop up the tootsie-rolls of poop before he munches them down.

But then I am awake. Sure, I try to return to sleep, but that is a fruitless endeavor. Then I will go snuggle with Tate on the couch, and try to read. Sometimes I can put a few pages on my Kindle behind me, and I doze off. But, after 6 hours of sleep (9 – 3), it is almost impossible to nod off.

Sigh. Finally about 4:30, I give in, get up, make a pot of coffee, and start reading the Times.

Suckage. About 3:00 in the afternoon, I get a bit of tiredness, and fade. If I am lucky, I can take a short cat-nap, but not always.

Yep, this shit sucks.

The Skype Virus

Whenever someone wants to talk to me and they say that they want to use Skype, I cringe. For a long time, I was unsure of why I cringed, I just did. Until recently when I installed the latest Skype client on my work PC.

Sigh, there are plenty of things to hate about Skype. It is owned by Microsoft. It has occasional audio drop outs. But some things are truly pernicious:

  • It really really doesn’t want you to quit it. In the menu, you can log out, but the “close” option really just minimizes it. It is as if they know that you really don’t want to quit the program (to exit it, you must right click on the tray icon, and select “exit”).
  • Spurious contact requests. Every day I get two or three contact requests. Often for ridiculous named contacts. Often with naked avatar images. And often with pitches to ask me what I am doing (like phone sex). No, I do not want to video chat to “watch U cum”. This is one reason why I stopped using Yahoo Messenger.
  • Advertisements. I guess it is the bane of the modern tech world, but advertisements are everywhere. Some tools make them unobtrusive. Not Skype. Front and center. While messaging, or while calling. Groan.
  • Hijacking anything that looks like a phone number in the browser. Be damned careful in what you agree to when installing, as it will try to install a browser plugin that will “Skype-ize” anything remotely resembling a phone number in your web browsing. Really fucking annoying.

Sadly, I install Skype, use it, and now uninstall that pig as soon as I am done.

I should add that it is far less annoying on the Mac, as cmd-Q will quit it.  Still hate using it though.

Not too happy with WordPress right now…

Nothing like getting an out of the blue “Abuse Notification” from you webhost provider. Sigh.

About 9:00PM last night I got the warning that there was malware on my wife’s WordPress site. Scripts in three unrelated files, and who knows what else damaged.

Earlier, doing my normal maintenance, I found that the plugins and theme updates would fail. This was the first hint that something was amiss. (for the record, the three other WP blogs on the same VPS were and are fine).

I manually changed the permissions, and forcibly re-installed these plugins, and thought all was well.

Then the Abuse message. Shit.

The hosting company quarantied the affected files, and they all were in a plugin that was part of the theme. Revolution Slider. We weren’t really using it, so I removed it (forcefully), yet there is still something hinky going on.

This weekend, I will do a deep clean, and fix it all up. Alas, I really didn’t want to blow a bunch of hours on this. I will also look at a malware monitoring tool for my VPS.

Apple Disappointment – Photos

Being a long time Apple fan, I have often sung their praises. Products that work, fit in with my natural workflow, and in general delight. That said, a recent experience has tarnished the gleam.

About 6 years ago, I realized that the built in photo management tool, iPhoto, was completely unsuitable for the task. I had graduated to a decent DSLR, and started shooting in RAW format. iPhoto did read the files, but the size of the files, and the huge quantity of files brought it to its knees. It really was painful.

I jumped to Aperture, a "Pro" application that had a decent workflow. It was that or the Adobe product, Lightroom.

Aperture worked well for a long time, but about Mavericks timeframe, it was reworked to add in the photostream, and the quality of the experience was diminished. I had made the decision to bolt to Lightroom, knowing the end was in sight.

Recently, Apple deprecated iPhoto, replacing it with "photos" that more closely works like the photos application on the iPhone. Meh, but whatever. However, the path was to migrate from iPhoto or Aperture to Photos, a one way migration.

It went OK for my aperture library, but the wonkiness was helping a friend migrate her iPhoto library.

She had a well aged (but quite serviceable) MacBook Pro. It was bought in 2009, and works. She had about 38Gigs of photos from her digital camera, in iPhoto. the '09 version that came with the computer.

A hard disk failure, and the genius bar upgraded her to 10.10.3 when they replaced it. iPhoto is not supported so she must go to Photos.

But it hung up at 24% in migrating. She brought it to me, and I tried all my magic.

  • Used an external drive and a clean copy of the iphoto library – no dice
  • repaired the library with my wife's computer – still running the same version of iPhoto (the advice from the support forums). No dice.
  • Disk warrior – rebuilt and optimized the directory structure – no dice
  • Repaired permissions – No dice.

After about 10 hours of fiddling, nothing would get past the 24% hump. I had to admit defeat, and advise her to make a Genius bar appointment.

Yesterday, I heard that after 4 hours, the genius bar tech was importing a year at a time. Painfully slow.

From reading the forums on apple.com, it is clear this is not an uncommon problem.

My suspicions: Apple didn't test enough variants of iPhoto, assuming that people upgraded as it was available (a faulty assumption), that minor glitches in iPhotos databases can fatally halt the migration.

There really needs to be a built in database check/rebuild that eases the migration.

In the mean time? I am moving all my photos to Lightroom. At least Adobe just uses flat file system folders for storage, so future migrations will be simple tasks.

The HOV Experiment has Failed

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment in Mountain View, so I had a pleasant 70 minute crawl north on 85 to El Camino Real. I had plenty of time to observe the HOV lane.

The HOV lane was a noble idea. Incentivize people to carpool, making a dedicated lane for vehicles with 2 or more passengers. A fast lane so to speak during the commute hours.

Of course, here in California, they have expanded the lane to allow first Hybrid cars. Then zero emission vehicles, and then super low emission vehicles.

Enough loopholes that the lane is now about 9:1 solo occupants. You can bet that many of them are hipster douches.

Fail.

Deja Vu – almost double posted – Airplane Carry On

My recent trip to Boston reminded me of the cattle car experience that is domestic travel (the last bastion, international travel is quickly degrading into this experience as well).

I already posted on the delight of an asshat trying to take my under seat space with his friction’ laptop jammed in there, and my followup was going to be the amazement of abuse the overhead bins that is the Carry On baggage game. But I see that I already posted this.

Sigh.

But I do have something to add.  Something that really gets me riled up is the people who fill the overheads with their carry on baggage close to the front, then head back to their seats in the rear of the airplane. Not that I usually carry on, but since I don’t carry a roller onboard, I do like to put my briefcase up, and keep the under-seat space in front of me, so my legs don’t get cramped.

 

To the Jackass in front of me

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of flying back from Boston at an ungodly hour. Worse yet, it was on an airline that I have zilch status on. So, I was stuck in a middle seat in Steerage class.

Just looking to stretch my legs as much as possible and catch a few winks on the 6+ hour flight, I was appalled to find that the inconsiderate asshole in the seat in front of me, felt compelled to cram his laptop under the seat (and hence, into MY legroom.

At first I gently pushed it back into his space. And then he slammed it back.

So, I made sure to get my feet all over it. Next time, I think I will take the gift in my space. I would have this time, except it was a POS HP Craptop. Who the hell wants one of those…

Fleabag hotels and internet

In this day and age, pretty much every hotel has free wifi. Woo hoo. However, there is a nasty nasty trend. Shitty free wireless that sucks just enough to make you want to pay for the faster service.

Yes, the standard wifi is free, but it is so often bandwidth capped, and metered, so that surfing the web is painful. There are long resets and time outs, that will drive you bonkers.

And your corporate VPN? fuggedaboutit. It will fail. Either it will never handshake, or it will stall and you will never get your email.

Of course for a few bucks ($5 – $15) you can upgrade to the pro class of internet.

Sigh. We are camped out at Extended Stay America, and yes indeedy, they have this same ploy.

Service Review – Capitol Honda

This is the email I sent to Capitol Honda in response to their badgering me to rate my service experience excellent. I thought I would share it. I already posted it as a review on Yelp.

Perhaps you should not have emailed me.

Having recently moved from Arizona to California, and needing a minor service, as well as obtaining a smog test to register my S2000, I booked an appointment at your dealership. While my car is long out of warranty (and even the extended warranty), in Arizona I had great experience with the two dealers I went to, Dobbs Honda in Tucson, and San Tan Honda in Gilbert.  My experience at Capitol Honda was not so shining.

Going in for a minor service, something I have come to expect to be in the $75 range, I was shocked at the first estimate shown by the service advisor. Still, I needed service so I just signed the form. If I recall, the initial estimate with the smog check was on the order of $275. I can’t say exactly what it was, because I didn’t get to keep a copy of that estimate. I was told to expect the service to be done around 9:30. A little longer than I had become accustomed to, but not an issue. I had also mentioned that the keyless remotes for my Honda factory security system (installed shortly after I bought the car) were non functional, and that I would like the system fixed. I was also told that there would be a 10% discount applied to the total.

About 9:00 while I was waiting in your “lounge” my cell phone rang. It was the service advisor, who was urging me to change transmission fluid, and differential fluid.  I was a little hesitant, but he was insistent. I should point out that since the day I bought my S2000, it had been takes solely to a Honda dealer, and had the recommended service done at every interval.  Additionally, he mentioned that there was some leakage on the battery, and that it would cost $60.00 to clean up. Not quite sure how a little water and baking soda, plus a dab of petroleum jelly and 5 minutes of work justifies $60, but by that time I just wanted to be done with the experience. The service advisor then advised me that the normal troubleshooting of the remotes failed to identify any obvious issues (like dead batteries). If I was interested in the technician diagnosing it, it would be $125 an hour.  I declined that.

At about 11:30 I get the call that the work is done. The total was a little over $580, and numbly I paid.

The real disappointment, and the reason why I will not be returning to your establishment, EVER, is around the security system. The service advisor mentioned that since there was another S2000 in the shop, the technician programmed and verified that those key fobs worked. I was stunned, because he should know that the Honda factory alarm system uses different remotes, that are tied to the central unit, and that while the standard fobs would still lock and unlock the doors, they are not activating and clearing the alarm. The conclusion by your technician and your service advisor was that I just needed new remotes. Oh, and for a mere $307 each, plus a small programming fee, they would be happy to supply them to me. Of course a simple internet search shows that I can buy them for $120 each, and programming them is trivial, so the price quoted, even with the promised 10% discount is a complete rip-off.

As if this wasn’t enough, to find out that Capitol Honda doesn’t have a car wash facility on premise, and that the customer (who just spent close to $600) is given a voucher for a local carwash, I can tell you it was a challenge to not laugh in the service advisors’ face. Additionally, I would like to comment on the “lounge”. I do not expect Honda to have the opulence that you expect in a Lexus dealership, but clearly, Honda doesn’t have standards of what is expected of dealers. In Arizona, the lounges were large, with plenty of comfortable seating, some private work areas, coffee and fresh pastries. In general, they were places you didn’t mind spending a couple of hours at.  Your lounge, is small, uncomfortable, and lacking comfortable seating. It is almost as if you do not want people to wait for service, and to push them to your shuttles or the local businesses.

For these reasons, I can assure you that I will never set foot into your dealership again. Clearly I had become spoiled by dealers in Arizona who felt compelled to offer as good of service as the independent shops, and to compete on price, yet differentiate with amenities. I guess I will be looking for a quality independent shop. Fortunately, the S2000 club tells me of several outstanding local shops who will take as good, or better care of my S2000.

To add the icing on the cake. On Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from the service advisor to “remind me” to rate him excellent. Bothering me on a weekend is an unforgivable sin.

Auto Dealer Service “Fun”

I have been spoilt. In Arizona, the major dealers all competed with each other to provide awesome customer service. As there was plenty of competition with the independent service shops, many who were excellent, they needed an edge to keep customers coming back.

I had become accustomed to fast internet, good coffee, fresh donuts and pastries, ample “quiet” comfortable chairs, and workstations to focus on doing my real work. I never minded spending a couple hours with them when I needed service.

Of course, here in California, I am in shock. Small, uncomfortable lounge area, bad coffee made by a machine, packaged pastries for free (but a vending machine), and a loud TV blaring gameshows and soap operas in the background.

Add to that prices that are about double for the same service in Arizona, and pushy upsell. I know I have a sports car, and I expect there to be additional service, but fuck me, you are taking advantage of me.

Since my extended warranty is long gone, it is time to find a local independent shop. Fortunately, in the San Jose area, I should be able to find someone who can treat my S2000 right.