Friday, December 15, 2006

I've been a VERY good boy this year Santa!

Tonight after work we stopped by Southpark Mall, and guess who was there?! Ryan got the chance to stop and chat with Santa Claus, and let him know just what was at the top of his list. And the middle. And the next middle. And the next middle.

Click the link for more pics Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ryan @ Disney on Ice

 Allison took her mother and Ryan to see Disney on Ice at the Mark tonight. Unfortunately, tonight was the last night of class before finals, so I couldn't go. Allison took some pics, mostly of the show, but a few of Ryan. Click the link for the rest of the pics! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Snow Day

Ryan made Great use of his time off school friday, sledding and playing in the snow for hours and hours. More pictures available on the picasa web album. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Will the 'Wii workout' cure couch potato-itis? | | CNET

Nintendo Wii combines Gaming and Exercise

First Dance Dance Revolution, and now this. It seems games are moving towards greater immersion by involving the player physically in the action of the game.

I love the concept of the Wii control. It looks like a remote control, but you swing it like a tennis racket, or a sword, or bowling ball, or whatever is appropriate for the action you want to take in game. Finally, safe bowling in the comfort of your own living room.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving 06 is in the books...


The Photo Album, that is... Click the link for pics! Posted by Picasa

Picasa photo management

Since I got my new digital camera, I've come to appreciate another of google's apps I hadn't tried before. Picasa is a photo management app. It's main purpose is organizing photos, but it also does a great job at minor editing, importing pictures from a camera or scanner, posting to the web (blog or album), and has a host of other nice features.

It's available as part of the google pack, which bundles many of google's popular tools (toolbar, picasa, earth, etc) into one easy download. (Note the convenient banner at the top of the page! Just click it to get the google pack for yourself!) (Or you can get just Picasa by scrolling down this page and clicking the Picasa square on the right side.)

(C'mon, click it, install it, try it, love it. You know you want to. Plus, if enough people actually try it from this link, I get a little bit of money from google. You'll like it, but don't take my word for it, Try it!)

{Insert Hypnotic Pattern Here}

UCLA student tazerd by Police after not showing ID

This video has prompted discussion across the net and around the nation, as outrage spreads over the apparent abuse of a student by police. There has been significant debate over whether the police were out of line, but most people have been outraged upon first seeing the video.

Essentially, the student was in the UCLA library after 11pm, when only students are allowed. When prompted by university staff, the student refused to show his student ID. At this point, university staff left and called the police. The student gathers his things, puts on his backpack, and is walking towards the door. Police arrive, grab the student by the arm, and that's where the video begins.

The video itself is not great quality, and actually shows little of the incident, with the audio track adding a lot of emotion.

The ACLU has stepped in to help the student sue the school now, and investigations are pending but not likely to be finished before sometime in January.

Whose side are you on? Did the kid get what he deserves? Or were the police way out of line?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Photo Site

I've set up a new photo album site with google, which uses the Picasa software in conjunction with Google's web services. So far I like it. We'll see how it holds up. In the mean time, you can find photos I've published here.

A day at the Museum

Today Ryan's Tiger Cub pack went to the Family Museum in Bettendorf. Or at least, they were supposed to. Unfortunately, only 1 other child & parent showed up. Still, the two kids got to have a lot of fun. This is one of Ryan's favorite places to visit. He's been there several times, but he never tires of it.

Allison has planned other trips for the pack in the next couple of months, including a visit to a fire station, the local TV studio, and a local semi-pro sporting event.

I'd like to have been able to go with today, but unfortunately it was scheduled on a Saturday, when I have to be at work. Oh well, maybe next time. (After all, I'm most excited about the TV studio & Firehouse trips... :) ) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ryan's latest portraits

We took ryan to the portrait studio recently. Here's one example, click the link for more.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rotten Best Buy Experience

Below is the text of a letter I've sent to Best Buy corporate and to the manager of the local store. As you can see, it describes a very disappointing experience I've had in trying to get my laptop repaired.

September 15, 2006
Geek Squad Mission Control
7601 Penn Avenue South
Richfield, MN 55423-3645
Dear Sir or Madam:
Subject: Unsatisfactory service experience
I’m writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with my recent service experience. On August 24th, 2006, I delivered a laptop with a defective LCD screen to your store in Moline, Illinois for repair. At that time I was given a work order that showed an expected completion date of September 1st, 2006.
I called to check on the status of my laptop several times starting on August 31st, but was only told it was still out. Each time I called, the tech on the phone seemed burdened by my call, implying, and in some cases outright stating that there was no way my laptop would be done this soon. I was told I should disregard the expected completion date, as normal repair times for laptops are at least 2-3 weeks.
Eventually I was given the address for a web site where I could check this information myself. Imagine my surprise when I found that a week after the expected completion date, work had not yet been started on my laptop.
On Monday, September 11th, 2006 your repair site listed the repair as completed and the laptop having been shipped back to the store. I contacted a tech in the store, who told me he couldn’t give an estimated travel time since it had been repaired by Gateway, and first had to travel to the service center, then back to the store. September 13th I called again to see if it had arrived, and was told that according to the notes in the computer, the laptop should be in Wednesday or Friday, but was not repaired. The unit had not, in fact, been sent to Gateway as I was told, but rather sat at your service center over the last 3 weeks only to be sent back with a note it needed to go to Gateway. I picked up my laptop from your store today, September 15th, and unfortunately found Brian to be correct. No repairs were done on my laptop during the 3 weeks it was in your possession.
I find this lack of service utterly unacceptable. If the laptop had come back repaired but taking 3 times as long as I was advised initially, I would have been upset, but likely not taken the matter further. At this point, I am expected to be without a computer for another several weeks while waiting for you to send it to the right service location this time. Even here, there seems to be some confusion. While the notes from the service center indicate the unit should be sent directly to Gateway, Brian now says he’ll send it to a Best Buy service center in Louisville rather than the one in Chicago. I’m concerned this confusion may cause another error on your part and leave me waiting even longer.
I have been without my computer for the last 3 weeks. While this is a personal laptop, there is real demonstrable financial loss to me for this downtime, as I pay monthly fees for gaming subscriptions that I haven’t been able to use while the laptop was away. This doesn’t begin to included the extreme inconvenience of being a college student, at the beginning of a new semester, without a computer for 3 weeks. In today’s digital age of online banking, computerized check registers, digital music, photos, and more, this is an extreme inconvenience. To be told that I’ll have to repeat this experience again is unacceptable.
Your store offered an option for me to purchase another laptop, and return it when the work on mine is complete. This would avoid me being without a computer in the interim, but unfortunately as a family man working my way through college, I don’t have $1000 extra lying around to spend on a laptop, even if it is just temporary. On top of that, it seems to me you already have a $1000 laptop of mine, and have held it for 3 weeks without taking any action. For you to ask me to pay for your mistakes seems to be extraordinarily poor customer service.
I need my laptop, and am not happy about having to wait another 3 weeks for your technicians to ship it out and maybe have it come back repaired. As a result, I’ve taken my laptop from the store until this matter can be resolved satisfactorily. I’ve contacted your corporate customer service number, but while very pleasant, Geraldine was not able to remedy this situation to my satisfaction. I will bring my laptop back to the store in the near future for the needed repair. I have been advised by a local manager Steve Larson that my laptop will be shipped more expediently this time to a ‘super service center’ and can expect a significantly faster turnaround time. This would certainly be appreciated. Unfortunately this still leaves me paying for your error, and not at all satisfied with the overall service experience.
Steve Whitcher
cc: General Manager, Best Buy Store 23
cc: Public Posting @

Friday, March 03, 2006

Study shows people don't want TV / Music on their cell

"According to a survey conducted by RBC Capital Markets, about 75 percent of roughly 1,000 people polled said they had no interest in watching TV on their cell phones. And about 70 percent said they didn't see themselves using their cell phones for musical entertainment." --

While I'm not surprised to see that most people aren't ready for this feature yet, I am surprised to see how many people are, in fact, interested.

Of particular note is that only 15% of the people surveyed were under 30 years old, and nobody under 21 was surveyed. Since the people most expected to be interested in these features are people under 24 years of age, this makes for unreliable results. How about a survey of people 25 and under who want these features? Of course my grandmother doesn't want to watch tv on her cell phone, but what about your average high school or college student?

Of course, it's likely difficult for such a survey to target people who are most likely to use such features. Considering these are also the people least likely to have a home phone, and surveyors can't call cell phones, it becomes almost impossible to know what percentage of people really are looking forward to this ability to become ever more mobile.

BlackBerry users Rejoyce!

"Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry e-mail device, Friday announced it has settled its long-running patent dispute with a small Virginia-based firm, averting a possible court-ordered shutdown of the BlackBerry system." -- ABC News

It looks like all the worrying was for nothing, as RIM has settled with NTP for Just over $600 Million dollars. While this is a sizeable sum, it's actually on the low end of what was expected, and to top it off, RIM won't owe any future royalties to NTP, so this is finally settled once and for all.

Now, if we could just get a good push email solution for Smartphones and Pocket PC's that doesn't require a corporate mail server. . .

Friday, January 27, 2006

And life is good.

Well, one week into my new job, and two weeks into classes, things are going well. Not a lot of homework so far, thankfully, because between class and training at work my brain is pretty well fried when i actually get some down time. We're off to chicago again this weekend for a birthday party, so not much recovery time even on the weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Everquest blamed for Gamer's Suicide

Hmm... I'm not even sure where to go with this. Do I play it sarcastic, and warn everyone about the dangers of EQ? Or should I just lay right into this web site, and this mom, for being so desperate about where to lay blame for her son's problems... I guess I just won't say anything at all, and leave it up to you to decide. . .

Is Sony or Everquest to blame for this? Please, leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Announcing, Employment!

Gosh it feels good to be joining the outside world again! I've just accepted a position with Genesis Health Systems, a local hospital / chain. I'll be working 2nd shift helpdesk, 3 days a week. I'm excited to get started, I'll begin training on 1/23. It's thrown my school schedule for the spring off a bit, since I'll work 4-6 weeks 1st shift for training, then switch to 2nd shift from there on, but most of my professors have been good about letting me work around the scheduling issues.

So, back to work, back to the IT field, staying with school... I'm going to be busy. But I'm loving it. :)