25 April 2008

Qaption Qontest

Photo captioning is one of the feature I usually look at in AM New York, one of NYC's free daily newspaper. (AM's crossword puzzle is usually easier to solve, too, which to me is a plus.) Through a link in JoCo's web site, I came across http://jawboneradio.blogspot.com . One of the regular entry on Jawbone is Caption This. So here it is, for all my adoring fans (all five of them), here's some interactivity for you to have. Use Blogger's Commenting feature to provide a caption for the photo. Please keep it family-oriented clean, OK?

For now, all I can say is that the photo was take while I was on vacation. More later!

24 April 2008

Middle of Nowhere

I just came back from vacation in what can be referred to as "in the middle of nowhere", cyberspace-wise at least.

It was not the first time I went on vacation while with the new server admin department. I did go on vacation about a month after joining the new group. I didn't know enough to have my absence felt. This time around, I was involved in many critical projects. To make things more complicated, the other admin who is my usual backup, my "partner" so to speak, also wanted the same week off. Such is life when you have kids in school, you only have vacation when school is out, such as summer or spring break. My manager was kind enough to let both of us go, so I thought I would return the favor by lugging my company laptop along. I figured it's 2008 already so that any decent resort would have broadband access, even if it is not free. Ten dollars per day would be fair enough for me.

The first thing I did when we arrived at the resort was to turn on the Wife's MacBook Black, or BlackBook for short. It is 3 years younger than my PowerBook and boots up faster, with better battery health. There was some hotspot but I couldn't join it. OK, maybe I would have to ask the resort people for some info to configure the connection. The Wife said that she read somewhere that the resort definitely has free Internet access, but none of the literature I found in the room mentioned that. I went ahead and started looking for an RJ-45 (Ethernet) wall jack. I can live with wired access. I even brought an old 4-port 10-Mbit hub to share the access with the 3 laptops that I brought along. Bummer, no RJ-45 ports anywhere.

A nephew made the gruesome discovery. Right there on the kitchen phone was the label, "PC hookup on side". Sure enough there were 2 RJ-11, regular phone/modem jacks, on the side. My laptop cases have many things that can come in handy on the road - Ethernet cable, USB cable, flash drives, lock, etc. But I wasn't prepared to face the lowly 56K modem again. There was no RJ-11 cable in any of my bags, but even if I had one, I would still need to know what number to call. I still have a dial-up account, earlier in the year used by my sister before she finally got broadband via cable. She used the service via some local NYC number. I might have had some numbers in my PDA, but calling from Drums, PA would incur long distance charges. Who knows what the resort would charge, too, for using their precious phone. I still remember the $5 or so Holiday Inn charged me for a local call the night of my wedding banquet.

As a last-ditch effort, I put my cell phone into modem mode and hooked it up to my PowerBook via the USB cable. Can't say I came unprepared, if you can overlook the lack of the RJ-11 cable. I thought the Razr2 would be smart enough to automatically connect the Mac to the 'Net. I know the data charge would be significant, but I really want to push technology's envelope. Alas, contrary to my unreasonable expectation, the Razr2 just behaved like a regular modem and nothing more. Sure the Mac instantly recognized the Razr2 as a modem, but I would still have to dial some modem number. Even if the cell phone can send faster than 56k, whatever answers the call would be the bottleneck at 56k and less.

I blame Twitter for my desire to be connected. Maybe Blogger, too. At least with Twitter, I was able to send a text message, even though I didn't see the post until I got back home.

02 April 2008

DS I Love You

Nintendo sure has the gaming market in a good grip. In the console area, there's the Nintendo Wii, not enough to go around after all these times being on the market. I've heard about the handheld device Nintendo DS but recently actually used one, albeit just for chatting. All four young nephew and nieces living near me have one, my Son is the only one not having. I thought he would make a big fuss about it, 人有我有, or "People have it and I have it, too" in Chinese, but so far he hasn't bugged us constantly about it. The Wife and I promised Son that he would get his own Nintendo DS for his birthday, if he behaves that is. Poor kid was so miserable when we went on a bus ride to Atlantic City to a musical concert. His cousins ignored his constant pleading for a long time. Kids sure can be cruel sometimes.

Out of the box the DS can find each other and the device owners can chat and share drawings over WiFi. Neat! There are multi-player games that seem to open up to all nearby devices, at least it seemed to me. Some of the kids already have some memory cards that are loaded with "free" games. Apparently there is no copy protection on these games. When my Son got his DS, maybe I'll look into how all that works.

01 April 2008

Robber Bank?

I have to go through my snail mail more often. The other day the Wife had a day off and went through the pile. She found a letter from my bank that read something like this:

Dear schmuck,

We have noticed that your CD account is dormant. You have 21 days from the date of this letter to re-certify it. If not, we will turn the $4,321 to the government. It's a state law, you nincompoop!

Really, other than the name-callings I inserted, that's the gist of it. My first reaction was, "Great, this must be some convenient offshoot of some anti-terrorism or anti-laundering law." I immediately checked with the bank and they showed me that the CD account was under no threat of being forfeited, even though it was a few past the 21-day deadline. Good for them, because I was going to wage a mini-war on the bank by closing all my accounts and make this as big a stink as possible.

The CD account was opened when my Son was born and I've been letting it auto-renew every time it matured. Isn't that enough of activity? Some months ago my savings account was frozen for inactivity but I don't recall any difficulty unfreezing it. Some services the banks do for their customers these days. Before any of these actions were to happen, they should not just do so without any feedbacks from the customer. One lousy letter isn't enough. They must call or maybe even visit the poor customer. Our state government doesn't seem to be of much help here. Don't I pay enough taxes already? I might as well keep them doughs under the mattress.