Can you tell?

That it’s been crazier than a bee’s nest over here? Well, I just feel like there aren’t enough hours to get what I need to get done! Today is the first day of labs for the students. I’ve been sitting in on their anatomy classes although I haven’t been doing much else besides just listening. I’m bad, I know, but I’m clearly in the “not-a-vet-student-so-I-don’t-need-to-study” frame of mind. lol. Still, it’ll do me some good to be able to converse intelligently with my bosses and the students. My laptop has been invaluable to me thus far. Even though my backpack now weighs at least 15lbs, I’m still doggedly carrying everything but the kitchen sink with me to work. M’s been hating on me, but I forgive him. I would hate on me too. lol.

I’m slowly getting back into riding. I haven’t ridden hard in over a month and that was due to certain circumstances, but things are getting better. 🙂 I went for a soft ride with M just to spin my legs. I think my aim should be just 4 miles daily without bringing my heart rate too high up. The weather’s getting cooler and according to M, it’s perfect riding weather. Yesterday was a little depressing for various reasons. One of them being getting royally screwed by Hewlett-Packard regarding the TV tuner issue. However, I should be returning that blasted TV tuner to them and getting my money back. It really helps that after using it once, I never used it again because it was more troublesome than simply turning on the TV. I’ve got a crapload of items to be returned to retail outlets and I will go into some detail about those things. I will say that if you can help it, avoid buying things you aren’t sure that you will need because the return process is a pain in the patootie. I’m returning my bluetooth mouse because that freaking mouse quit working on me. My tolerance level for appliances that don’t work as advertised is zero these days and I wasted no time in obtaining an RMA number. I’ll stick to my little USB mini-mouse for now. I’m returning an item I purchased from an online retailer I’ve done business with in the past. They were a bit craftier in their returns process, but after sending them an email that threatened a charge-back, they responded with an RMA number and the information I needed. I wanted an auto/truck adapter for my laptop so I can use it in the car and I thought I found a good deal on a site. I broke one of the cardinal rules of online shopping i.e. reading the fine print and not taking Google results as the Gospel truth. About 5 minutes after I hit “Submit Order”, I realized that their auto/truck adapter would not be compatible with my laptop. I inwardly groaned and set about emailing their customer service representatives. Even though I sent my frantic email to them saying that they should cancel my order, they didn’t get back to me till the next day (how convenient) and it was only to tell me that they couldn’t cancel the order because it had been shipped! Well, after I received the item, I had to send at least 3 emails (each progressively nastier than the preceding one) in order to get my RMA number. Now, I just have to convince M to take them to the various drop-off points: USPS, Fedex, UPS, et cetera. lol.

Well, I’ve got to run. I’ll post something a little bit more coherent later on.

Day 3 of owning a laptop. :)

Jeah, jeah! lol. M’ll get those two words. We like to make fun of “gangsta rap” and those two words are staples if you want to learn how to “gangsta rap”. Anyway, this is the third day of owning my laptop and can you tell I’m semi-delirious? My first night with the laptop was, well, how shall I put this delicately? I got about 3 hours of sleep. My second night was better because I was so tired that I had no choice. Tonight, I plan on getting back on my regular sleep schedule. The new-ness hasn’t worn off yet, but I’m already falling prey to some issues.

  1. Issue #1: Microsoft Outlook 2007 needs some serious ass-kicking. How hard is it to send a test message, automatically retrieve mail server settings or change an outlook data file without crashing? This is the third time I’ve had to force my laptop to shut down because Outlook 2007 just stopped working. It’s ridiculous because I’m now scared of adding email accounts because I have no time to save my data when this freezing happens.
  2. For some reason, I can’t assign PrtSc to my Snag It Screen Capture software. What the fudge? I’m not too bothered right now because I’ve found a workaround, but why oh why do things have to break? 🙁
  3. About the fingerprint reader? Well, I’ve finally figured out the correct way to swipe my finger across. Right now, I can log into the PC by just swiping my index or thumb finger. Pretty cool. I still haven’t taught it how to log me into websites directly by swiping a finger.
  4. I called HP and I will be receiving the TV tuner soon at a discounted price. The sad part about it is that I had to pay full price, but I was told I would be refunded. You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be giving them a call on that.
  5. Microsoft Sync and Microsoft Mobile Device Center are not working. This is not a deal breaker because my Bluetooth works beautifully. I just can’t sync my device. This means I will continue backing up my phone’s data on my home desktop which has good old Active Sync. I’m just a little too tired to do the research involved to solve the problem. Who knew I would be longing for Active Sync given all the heartache I’ve gotten from it? lol.

That out of the way. I’d like to say that I absolutely love the Windows Aero experience. I mean, from the Windows Flip 3D feature to the way the thumbnails of folders actually show what’s inside the folder? Check the pictures out!

Those pictures were actually inside the folders. This is one of the nicer user interface changes. I did have to turn off User Access Control (or the famous UAC being mocked in the Apple vs. Windows adverts) because I got tired of confirming that I needed to change the simplest settings. I’ll take paranoid over lax any day though. The other change I think I’ll grow to love is the Windows Explorer interface. I am really growing to love the emphasis on visual stimulation via thumbnails, more descriptive icons, etc. It’s really nice.

Man, I have to say they did a really good job on Windows vista. I don’t even need have the utility programs I installed on my XP machine because Windows Vista does a thorough job of inspecting (or appearing to) and that is key for me. I am being really picky about what goes on this pc so I’m definitely looking to milk all I can from my laptop before having to venture out into the internet wilderness. Enjoy!

By the way, stay tuned to some audio or video of me goofing off using my webcam/mike and Microsoft OneNote 2007!

Giving things a fair shake

On the Tech scene, there is a new search engine out that has been billed as a Google killer. It’s name is pronounced “Cool”, but spelt “Cuil”. Welcome to the silly world of Web 2.0 nomenclature. Anyway, I have since tested this new search engine out and have found it sorely wanting. It will not even take them paying me to use that search engine to leave Google. They’ll have to pry Google from my “dead lifeless fingers“. lol. Google has improved so much as far as the things you can do with it. From the calculator function to searching via zipcodes to even job hunting, Google is invaluable to me and right now, Cuil is not it for me which is why I was surprised to see the Statcounter folks blog about how Cuil could be a serious competitor. They have since updated their post, but you just have to Google cuil to see how much it sucks. I can’t be bothered to put pictures of the frankly bizarre search results I’ve been getting. Still, it’s a new search service and it was founded by ex-Google employees. Hopefully, it’ll improve and I’ll test it out again.

Speaking of being a guinea pig, I’m also going to give DVD43 a trial. It’s a free DVD copy-protection circumvention tool and the reason I’m going to test it out is because DVD Shrink & DVD Decrypter are really slipping. That makes sense because development on those two products has really stagnated. Anyhow, I’ll get out some of my DVDs and test DVD43 out so I’ll update this post later. In the meantime, check out this video by Ely Rosenstock on how to escape the early termination fee (ETF) from terminating your cell phone contract. It’s useful, but I fear people are going to thoroughly abuse this now. I wish Ely Rosenstock had said how many more months he had left on his Verizon contract because that might constitute mitigating circumstances. I find it hard to believe that the customer service representatives et al would let someone who was, say, 3 months into their contract off the hook that easily. That said, I’m totally in favor of cell phone companies dropping their early termination fees and the first moves to end ETFs has already begun. Check out Google News and see these articles.

A little rant

Or not. People of the blogosphere especially anonymous ones tend to be really really mean. A professor and several others have said that it is much harder to run your mouth once people know you in person. Case I’m pissed about: the girls of Now, I’m coming out on my blog to say that I am subscribed to all 3 girls’ (Julia Allison, Meghan Asha and Mary Rambin) Tumblr blogs and now, I can’t get enough of their joint venture (NonSociety). That being said, each of those 3 girls are cute, witty and they are simply living their admittedly privileged lives. I’m not envious, but as you will find, there are people online who will stoop to any depths to bring down a good thing. Obviously, the girls did a stupid thing by not registering their website  in the popular top-level domains (TLDs) i.e.  dot com, dot org, dot net, dot info, dot me, et cetera. Hell, that’s a mistake that even social media experts fall prey to like  Shel Israel whose error was forgetting to register his own name. Still, it’s not a dealbreaker. Even Julia has her own imitator online and while it brings cheap laughs, I get depressed reading about these ‘parody’ sites because they exist for the sole purpose of putting down people so hard that I fear the weak hearted could contemplate killing off their online personalities. It sucks that we “can’t all get along”, but that’s the nature of the internet beast where all and sundry can talk out of their asses and claim ‘free speech’ or ‘artistry’. It simply disgusts me.

On my own

Today was my first day on my own in the lab. It was not bad at all although I was really worried that I would not have computer access at all. The IT department finally created my login id and granted me access. I still haven’t been granted access to certain buildings because my personnel data hasn’t been updated. It’s a little bit of a hassle because as of yet, I have not been able to select the benefits I want. However, I’m not stressing yet because I am within the 31 day window. The job (as usual) comes with a 180 day probationary period and my previous benefits. An added bonus for me this time around is that I can pick between choice A and choice B for my 401(k) package. The defining difference between plan A and plan B for me is the fact that I would be vested immediately in plan B whereas I would be vested after 10 years with plan A. Vesting is an important fact for me now because I learned the ‘hard’ way with my previous position that vesting means you get to keep your company’s match! This means that when I was released, I lost the entire 9% match and had my only my 5% contributions. That made me a little unhappy so this time around, because I will be selecting plan B, I will have a slightly lower employer match i.e. ~ 8%, but that’s still pretty darn good. I’m at the lab so I can’t do too much non-work stuff. 😀 Have a great day!

Yes, we did it again.

For thirty days, we used approximately $1.18 per day of electricity. I was a bit bummed that it was not $30 that I was expecting, but $35.42 for electricity is not bad at all for two people! Now that gas prices are creeping up, M & I are just now realizing how much we are saving just moving closer to my place of work and at the risk of being repetitive, how much we are saving by virtue of being away from the fast food hub. Yes, we (i.e. M) could exercise some self discipline, but sometimes, I like instant gratification. Now, I’m trying to streamline our financial habits by tracking how much goes into certain things like grocery shopping. I’ve crunched the numbers and we can get away with ~ $300 per month on food. That sounds like a lot, but I think food prices have increased a whole lot too. This amount doesn’t include the money spent eating out.

I finally decided to test my mountain biking chops at Fort Yargo and boy, did I have fun? 😀 I rode at least 15 miles and didn’t feel too tired. I think I was probably riding on adrenalin. I rode with Matt’s dad while M ran nonstop (with us) for at least 2 hours! He’s in incredible conditioning although he is not a muscle-head. After the ride, I was so ravenous that I downed a quart (yes, you read right) of vegetable soup. I would feel bad if it was a quart of lasagna or something. It was vegetable soup that was chockful of vegetables. M gave me grief, but in keeping with the spirit of instant gratification, I didn’t deny myself that wholesome quart of vegetable soup. Besides, we got the same quart of vegetable soup a couple of days later and I measured it out. It was not an obscene amount. 🙂 M’s only got video and pictures of me during the first 3 days that I was a bumbling rider. Not saying I’m expert or anything, but I’ve got a hell of a lot more balance than I did when I first rode a bike on our anniversary. Now I can keep tabs on M on his “rides”. lol, I kid. 🙂 The ride helped me realize that:

  1. Having a bike odometer will be super cool. 🙂 Those little suckers tell you your average speed, highest speed, lowest speed and how many miles you’ve ridden. Definitely neat.
  2. I definitely need biking gloves. Thus far, I’ve been using with handlebars sans any sort of gloves. Thankfully, I don’t sweat on the palms like M does so I am not in any immediate danger of having my hands accidentally slip off the bike. However, I think it will slow the callus-formation process, I hope. 🙂 My hands need some TLC because I have this death-kungfu grip on the handle bars such that when I get off the bike, it’s sheer agony trying to straighten my fingers out.
  3. I definitely need padded shorts. Need I say more? My butt’s not as sore as it used to be because I learned to stand up when crossing a really gnarly bike path. Score! Still, it would be nice.
  4. In short, I need biking gear. Specifically, a kneecap protector. I have hit my left knee more times that I care to count and I’m getting tired of it. Right now, I think I’ve messed it up because walking down the stairs causes the knee to rebel against the horrible person making it go down the stairs. M just thinks it’s inflamation (it looks swollen) so I’m hoping that time will work its magic.

And the coolest thing happened on the day we went to Yargo. There was a thunderstorm was moving in so we decided to call it a day and head home. What happened next is the unadulterated, unembellished truth: Matt and I saw lightning strike thisclose to our car while he was driving on the highway. Actually, I was actually dozing when I heard the bolt strike some trees on the opposing side of track and the next thing I saw when I opened my eyes was a flash of fire which was presumably quickly doused by the pouring rain. With our hearts pounding, we proceeded cautiously and wondered if what we had just seen was real or a figment of our imagination. I’m sure I would have said M was fibbing if I hadn’t witnessed it. Now, I just regret not having my camcorder or my camera with me because that would have been an instant hit online at YouTube. 😀

In the spirit of taking care of business (the business of maintaining the entity that is Jane), I’ve had a couple of visits that are adding up (insurance-wise). Now, I’ve got the thankless task of making sure that healthcare providers are not charging me 3X the rate they have negotiated with my insurance provider. I’ve also got to make sure that said healthcare providers are in-network because you will get slammed with a higher rate (90% of network coverage for in-network providers versus 50% or 60% for out-of-network providers). In short, don’t go there. As such, things like paying down the credit card aggressively had to mellow out. Actually, I made more payments to the card, but they were mostly to mitigate the damage of having to make a few big payments so that my credit score wouldn’t nosedive. Hell, I just got an offer in the mail for a credit card with 5.9% APR so that’s a big improvement from getting the 18% APRs in the days of yore. 🙂 Of course, I didn’t apply because I don’t want to be indebted forever. I’m content with my sole credit card and they are not averse to credit limit increases so I’ve “got money” if I need it. However, I’m definitely getting back on track once the month of May, thanks in part to Uncle Sam’s tax rebate. We didn’t get the full amount allotted to couples filing jointly but I ain’t complaining. We put the money to good use: M’s new toy a.k.a. his mountain bike. lol. We’d been planning this so it wasn’t an impulse buy. The original plan was to pay for this with the money from the sale of his old bike. The buyer has been dragging his foot for weeks and finally managed to make a downpayment of $200. This situation caused us frustration to no end and I initially was going to be the mean old Lady and tell M that if he didn’t have the money, he wasn’t touching our rebate. However, the new bike happens to be badass and had started drawing the attention of other buyers who had the ready cash. The bike’s officially his now so we can stop sweating the buyer. He can take his sweet time for all I care right now. I’m so mad, but that’s flaky humans for you. M’s got his old bike so until the buyer pays up, he’s not touching it.

ActiveSync 4.5 works again!!!

Oh my lord!! You guys, wonders shall never end. I bought my refurbished Palm Treo 750 back in October of 2007. I discovered wonderful ActiveSync and then, I discovered Bluetooth technology. My desktop (HP Pavilion A1110n) didn’t have in-built bluetooth connectivity so being the nosey parker that I am, I bought a bluetooth adapter from CompUSA for ~ $19.99. Now, I’d been able to use ActiveSync to (duh) sync my files with the stuff on my PC and vice versa. However, upon installation of the Belkin bluetooth software, my nightmares started. Not only did they have little to no information on troubleshooting ActiveSync issues, almighty Google failed to help me in my quest to solve the mystery of how/why ActiveSync was suddenly refusing its connection to my phone. I stubbornly refused to consider that the software was somehow responsible so I decided that I’d hang on to the Belkin bluetooth adapter and keep the software installed. I couldn’t get ActiveSync or more than 75% of the ‘special’ functions to work because my phone was just a phone. I was resigned to the novelty of being able to make calls on my phone via my pc and sending files back & forth via bluetooth. Fast forward to today, I tried to start my bluetooth device on the PC and it wouldn’t start. I instantly knew what the problem was (or I thought I did): a previous system restore renamed some possibly crucial files which was not farfetched considering the fact that I had to re-install my firewall software (F-Secure Anti-Virus Client Security 7.11) and do a lot of testing because of the renaming that System Restore has to do sometimes. So, I uninstalled the program and restarted my PC twice due to issues I won’t go into. After my PC was running, I decided to start up ActiveSync on a whim and what happened? The connection was automagically restored!! I definitely will not be needing the bluetooth doohickey anymore and neither will I be needing the Microsoft Exchanger server at mail2web to store my contacts, etc anymore although it was a lifesaver when I needed to do a lot of messing around with my phone and thus needed my stuff (especially contacts) backed up. Oh well, enough of my gushing. Get to work, folks.