June
30
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2006-06-30

For those who haven’t been following, the countdown clock is currently at the T-Minus 11:00 and holding stage for the STS-121 shuttle launch tomorrow. In real people time, theres about 22 hours until take off. NASA has a great explanation of the entire countdown and launch procedure at Countdown 101, so go check it out.

Whether permitting, this time tomorrow, our astronauts should be in orbit.

(0) Comments    Read More   
June
30
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2006-06-30

It’s too bad I’m not a wealthy man, because if I was, for Christmas this year, I’d be getting Matt, Eric, and myself all signed up for this: Hollywood Fighter Pilot. The Burbank, CA based production company Incredible Adventures has struck gold with the idea of letting the customer help write their own script, as well as choosing their own aero-acrobatics. For the “low, low price” of $2,950, they’ll drop you into the driver’s seat of a Aero L-39 along with a professional co-pilot and let you spend an hour performing 4,000 feet per minute climbs, and film the whole thing, giving you the raw footage at the end of the outing. You can even opt to pay an additional $350 to have the footage professionally edited and a soundtrack added.

OK, I’m off now to start a new savings account…

Edit: Oh, wow, they also have a MiGs over Moscow program…

(2) Comments    Read More   
June
29
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2006-06-29

Verizon has taken a rather bold step and announced plans to prorate early termination fees for contracted customers:

Under the old plan, no matter at what point in their contract, the customer would have to pay a $175 fee. Now, the fee would be prorated proportionally to the time left on the contract.

The report goes on to say that the changes will become effective sometime in the fall for new customers as well as existing customers who renew a contract. An additional part of the announcement was that they have plans to allow current customers to be eligible for the same discounts offered to new customers on equipment. Existing customers are eligible for promotional pricing on phones now as long as they are within four months of their contract expiring, so I guess that announcement means an overhaul of some sort to that policy. Hopefully, it will mean that customers can grab a new phone at any time at promo prices, as long as they extend their contract. That, along with the pro-rated early termination fee should make Verizon that much more attractive in the wireless market. I have a feeling I’ll be at the Verizon store the day this goes in to effect so that my two years can start ticking away – while I’m talking on some sort of cool new phone.

(0) Comments    Read More   
June
28
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2006-06-28

After my insane rant the other day, I thought I’d throw a little praise towards a good company today. I used to visit walmart.com occasionally to upload digital pics and then pick them up from the store. I find the quality and longevity of these type prints to be worth the $0.19 each. Well, a few months back, a Walgreen’s opened here in Shelby. To make that situation even better – it’s directly on my route to and from work. Walgreen’s gives 20 free prints to first-time online orderers, so I thought I’d give it a try shortly after they opened. The prints were excellent – as good or better than Wal-Mart’s, but with a nice matte finish instead of super-high, max-gloss like the Wallyworld photo paper.

Tonight, I needed to order a few prints for a VBS project for tomorrow night, so I headed over to Walgreen’s web site, logged in, and proceeded to the Photo section. Upon clicking the upload option, I was greeted with some nice instructions (with screen shots, no less) on how to install the Walgreen’s Uploader – for Firefox! A few clicks of the mouse later, an applet of sorts was installed and running and my 10 photos were uploaded without a hitch. I’m not sure what it was exactly, because no extensions are showing in my Extensions list, but in any case – Walgreen’s “gets it” and for that, I give them major kudos.

So, if you have a Walgreen’s in town and need some digital prints, head over to photo.walgreens.com and sign-up. You’ll get the 20 free 4×6 prints on your first online order and they’ll even send you the occassional coupon in your email. Just a few weeks back, I was able to snag a free 8×10 of this image.

(2) Comments    Read More   
June
23
Filed Under (House, Life, Stuff, Work) by Justin on 2006-06-23

From reading the title, you might’ve thought I was about to blog some silly meme about all the places I’ve ever travelled, but, thats not the case – sorry if you’re disappointed. I just thought I’d take a few minutes to bring you all up to speed on life in Shelby and more specifically, at the Moore household.

I’ve had my busiest two month period at work ever in May and June, and things show no signs of slowing down. Actually, things will probably get worse before they get better: my boss/co-worker/friend heads off to law school in a few short weeks, cutting our I.T. staff by 50%. While they may be the craziest two months on record for me, I would say they’ve also been the most rewarding. I feel much more like a real “I.T. Coordinator” lately than just a help desk, and thats a nice feeling to go home to at night. Our company has been growing steadily ever since I came on board, but in just a few very short months, we’ve grown from 25 branch offices to 28 (I think). Three new offices may not sound like a lot, but they are pretty geographically diverse and I’ve been solely responsibly for taking care of all their technological needs (phones, computers, internet access, and anything else that uses electricity or batteries). That being said though, I learn something new almost everyday it seems like, and its not always about computers. Sometimes its about people, and believe me – I’d rather deal with the computers.

Things at home are pretty ho-hum. With summer arriving, that means most of our regular TV programs are in reruns and lately it’s been way too hot to work outside in the afternoons. We have managed to reorganize our garage and basement a bit though, so at least we’ve been a little productive. Since we had Java spayed, she’s been starting to calm down a bit. I think the vet may have somehow slipped from her lower tummy area and severed a nerve somewhere in her head. While she isn’t quite as hyper as she used to be, she has become quite the brat and has an extremely hard time listening to commands now. We’re trying to teach her a few new tricks too. I was lazy with that through a lot of the winter, but now she’s learning to jump through a hula hoop. So far, it seems to be more challenging to my patience than to hers, but I’m not giving up.

I had a great birthday a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to everyone for the presents! I ended up with mostly cash and some gift cards from Lowe’s and Best Buy. Mostly on impulse, I picked up the Philips DVP3040 at Best Buy and that turned out to almost be a mistake. My six-year old Sanyo DVD player had optical digital audio out and an S-Video output as well and the new player has both. I could’ve sworn I saw an S-Video out on the display model, but apparently the sweltering NC heat is affecting my vision. Regardless, I had to run a new cable from my AV closet to my TV so I could connect the video output and then I scrapped around the house to find a heavy enough RCA cable to connect the coaxial digital audio out to my receiver. The main reason I wanted the Philips model was that I seemed to have remembered reading online about their excellent support for Divx encoded files. That turned out to be pretty on par. It takes it FOREVER to read a DVD-R burned in my PC, but once it does, the video quality looks pretty sharp.

I also treated myself to a “new” lawn mower. A cousin was selling a 1995 John Deere STX35 at a killer price, so I took him up on the offer. It cuts like a dream. The only picture I can find is of this STX38, but they look identical.
John Deere STX38
Until next time…

(1) Comment    Read More   
June
21
Filed Under (Geekspeak) by Justin on 2006-06-21

Some folks with way too much time on their hands have prototyped a new Desktop interface dubbed BumpTop and it looks wicked. If you’re a computer enthusiast, it’s worth the seven minutes of your time to watch it. It looks rather complicated to me, but so did “A:\>” many, many years ago.

(2) Comments    Read More   
June
21
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Work) by Justin on 2006-06-21

I’ve been trying to come to terms with a vendor that we’ve been using at work, and they are really making some sorry excuses. The site is a company that we use to run background checks on all employees that we hire. Their web portal requires the use of IE, and it’s just silly. I don’t want to bore you non-technical folks, but if you’re at all interested in learning about a company who doesn’t embrace web standards and doesn’t care to extend a nice gesture to their good-paying customers, click through and keep reading.
Read the rest of this entry »

(0) Comments    Read More   
June
16
Filed Under (Geekspeak, Linux) by Justin on 2006-06-16

cnet is reporting today that four major mobile-phone makers are joining forces to develop a standard, Linux-based platform for their phones and other mobile devices. This is possibly the best tech news I’ve seen recently. With the two heavyweights involved (Motorola and Samsung), this is bound to just blow us all away in a few years. According to the article, Motorola has already shipped more than 5 million Linux-powered telephones and that number continues to grow.

Linux is extremely powerful and versatile, and hopefully, in the not too distant future, the reasons I use Linux as my primary operating system will be the same reason I’m buying a new cell phone – Freedom of Choice. Just imagine if there were hundreds (maybe even thousands) if applications available freely on the Internet for installing to your phone. Let’s just hope more carriers than NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone get on board with this.

(0) Comments    Read More