My last visit to NYC met me poorly prepared.  I left straight from work, wore poorly supporting shoes and crappy socks and walked around in a light mist.  After 20 blocks of walking I had proto-blisters and a week afterward I had deadskin snowflakes shedding from my feet.

This time I wore normal shoes and socks and resolved to walk the 35 blocks each way.  All went well inbound and I took a sequence of nice building pictures that look like clipart as the overcast of the day registered the sky as RGB #FFFFFF.  I brought my camera in backpack and the combo of t-shirt + oxford + fleece vest + backpack produced more back sweat than I would have liked.

Bringing the gorilla pod proved wise as NECSS was a low-light event.  I giggled as people tried to take pictures with cell phones and pocket point-and-shoots as I sat with my f/2.8 70-200mm on myAPC sensor.  My smile dropped when I saw the guy down the row from me with his camera on a steady-cam setup atop a monopod on his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III with an L-series 28-300.  One day.

Each panel had a question and answer period after it and the queue quickly filled each time, except for the final presentation by Carl Zimmer.  I <3 Carl Zimmer as his book Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea led me to rework all of Environmental Science merit badge.  I was first to the mic and I choked like a chihuahua swallowing a hot dog.  I’ve asked probing questions of former heads of the military through FPRI, chewed out Scout leaders who probably could have gotten me fired and once called my boss’s boss’s boss and idiot.  But I proved physically incapable of asking a softball question of a blogger.  GHA…..  He was nice about it, my sentences may have properly included the correct parts of speech but bordered on “who do you want me to eat it?” territory.  He looked at me with that exceedingly polite “you could yell something at me in Magyar and I’ll still smile nicely, call you insightful and give you a response that reminds you why you think I’m amazing”.

As I made my way from the venue I received about a 1/2 dozen “you’re the tard that covered the keynote speaker’s face with language vomit” and paid my penance by walking back to the train station in the rain.  My feet are fine…

DISCLAIMER: This is me yelling at a product.  It probably won’t be funny. Although the paragraph on Blu-Ray gets chuckles.

I cancelled my Netflix description today.   I loved Netflix, I really did.  I rewatched most of Star Trek: The Next Generation for about 1/3 the price of buying the DVDs, discovered a wonderful gift for my mother, and got to see some movies I couldn’t have imagined running into otherwise but the final straw was Blu-Ray.  I recognize the oddity that upgrading my service that could easily have been reversed but the trip was long.

I purchased a blu-ray drive many moons ago and had lost the CD that came with it containing the software.  I contacted the drive company for a replacement which I got a curt “check the software maker’s web page to see if they have it”.  They do, for a mere $79.99 plus a $4.99 digital download fee.  There are no free blu-ray decrypters in that the technologies involved make the NSA look quaint, but found three or four suites that’d let me try them for 30 days, when strung together I was hoping I have bought enough time to see a free option emerge.  I got everything set up and was immediately struck with how unimpressive the entire experience was.  1920 x 1200 is nice for TV but the primary things my 30″ monitor does is play display hi-res images or video games, both of which could gobble up resolutions up to WQUXGA without breaking a sweat and look gorgeous at 2560 x 1600.  1920 x 1080, really?  Two megapixels?  Despite the underwhelming appearance I watched a disc or two as it was still better than DVD, presentation-wise.

Then I migrated to Windows 7 and popped in Bender’s Game only to receive a HDCP violation notice after the copyright notice.

Aside: Sometimes things rub me the wrong way in a way that’s so profoundly disturbing just to me that the paroxysmal rages they induce have resulted in me breaking things with sufficient force that generations from now my Hulk-smashes will match the legends of the formation of the Giant’s Causeway or formation of Japan.  I don’t like when people violate my three rules of polite conversation nor when people tell me to change a time for something when they’re not my employer.

Great, you don’t like Windows 7, Paramount.  BUT AFTER THE F*#&ING LEGAL WARNING.  ARE YOU MOCKING ME!  “Hey, before we eff up your viewing experience we want to take a moment to remind you that there’s no possible way besides this bundle of proprietary cloak-and-dagger technologies to watch this content in higher-def.  Thanks for your money, sucker consideration, viewer.”  I had the disc between the thumb and pointer fingers of each of my hands and slowly allowed my arms to pronate when I remembered something: Netflix doesn’t have a “oops, I broke it clause” like Blockbuster does.  Maybe that’s why Blockbuster went under, not inferior choice, service and shipping, but people destroying blu-ray disc after disc in frustration.  I placed the disc in its Tyvek sleeping bag and slid that into the travel tent of the mailing sleeve.  I placed it in my mailbox this morning at about 1/4 after 4 AM and drove to work to cancel my Netflix account.  They were guilty by association.

You know what else pisses me off about blu-ray besides insulting the user at every turn with it’s technical ability to bar you from viewing your own content at almost any time?  IT’S NAME.  Blu-ray could fit easily into the set of ridiculous cinema technologies from the 50s like mega-vision, view-o-rama, or Glorious EXTRA color.  HD DVD made so much more sense not only technologically but had a superior non-descript moniker that perfectly described what it did.  It was a better DVD.  Blu-ray?  What the fuck does that mean? Yes, I know there’s a blue laser involved which is part of the reason that there’s an extra benjamin to the player’s purchasing cost but you couldn’t call it like XDVD, DVD2 or something that made sense?  This is why Sony’s technologies such, miniDisc, Betamax, and MemoriStik (I assume it had a non-standard spelling despite it probably just being Memory Stick) were beaten out by CD, VHS, and CF or SD respectively.  Standards by law should have dull names that involve no lacerations to the English language.  Die in a ditch, Blu-Ray.

We have a printer at work that’s slowly dying.  The manual feed tray is held in place by a rubber mallet wedged in place between the printer and a desk.  It prints like a stuttering autistic person, should one page fail, the whole project starts anew, usually to stop again at roughly the same point.

At first I thought this was the cacophonous swan song of a dying workhorse but there may be a typographic labor movement afoot. I was printing a document today and it jammed, not too odd except for I was printing to a PDF file. I suspect the work printers have combined forces with the print drivers and are unionizing. This wildcat strike that has been masquerading as a device problem is only the first wave. I must break the back of this printer-tariat (good one, eh?) uprising before the fax machine and the plotter jump on board.

We’re switching from Thunderbird to Outlook at work.  Why, I don’t know, probably because some executive accidentally installed it when using a Student copy of Office 2007 and was attracted to the bright color and total lack of functionality.

So, I had to take a two hour training on how to use Outlook going through such tricky things as how to open email, what the preview pain is, how to send email and using advanced options like changing from one poorly rendered font to another (I’m confident that I could remove all fonts except for Calibri, Comic Sans and Impact and no one woudl notice).   The rollout was supposed to come automatically but something didn’t work out.  I was confused when a man came around to “deploy it” simply by inserting a thumb drive into my machine and running a shortcut to a network location.  I’m not sure what’s more tragic, a rollout failing because people somehow failed to click a link and type their name into a prompt or that a Microsoft certified System Engineer had to come around to “fix” it.

I’ve trying to get rid of the frames in the OSR Program and Leader Guide.  Frames make it hard to link to things so I’ve been working on a pure CSS menu system like they have at GRC.  They’re setup is full of wierd hacks to make Safari 7.9.1 work correctly and so on so I tried something stripped down and came up with this.  I think it looks nice and would go wonderfully under the OSR banner.  There’d be more links simplifying navigation and adding and removing links would be a snap, except it DOESN’T WORK AT ALL UNDER IE 6.  Every other browser from Mosaic 4.0 to Firefox’s Fennec mobile browser alpha to Ice Weasel renders it correctly except for IE 6.

Knowing IE 6 would figure heavily into the usage patterns of the proletariat leaders browsing the site leaving it there and letting users realize they’re the dalit of web users wasn’t an option.  So after learning a little javascript and a lot of Ctrl+U (view page source) and violating some IP laws I go this gem.  It’s the red-headed stepchild of menus replacing the absolutely lovely previous menu with a kludge that only properly renders in IE6.

Maybe I should just create two versions of the sites:  I was thinking this’d be a chore until I realized it may save me some work.  If someone’s still using IE 6 that version would direct the user to a form that’d go to me so I could send them a copy of the web page on stone tablets which is the appropriate level of support for someone who hates the World Wide Web enough to abuse it with their knuckle-dragging tech competence.  Or if they’re a little better than that, I’ll make one that’s just one giant page; the web equivalent of a double elephant folio.  I’ll even include the PDFs as images that way it could literally be the only page they have to visit for camp information. “Yes, ma’am.  The document you need is there.  Make sure your browser window is full screen then hit tab 214 times, and press print screen.”

For Knotgeek: I blame this on Opera.  By bringing up the whole concept of standards-compliant rendering they freed the dove of hope only to be struck by IE 6’s failboulder.

I don’t watch much television, so when I do (I was baking), all the commercials are new to me.  Observations:

  • Why is Thor in The Hulk vs. Thor cartoon speaking Medieval English rather than either Middle English or contemporary English?  The guy he inhabits was born in the 60s and Thor was last worshipped around 1200.
  • Buzz Ballads offers RUSH delivery.  I suppose for a small fee it’s dropped off by Geddy Lee.
  • The latest issue of Reader’s Digest has “Secret Tips to a Healthy Heart”, I’ve read them, I can’t wait to cash in as a cardiologist dispensing “10 Life Extending Facts That’d Be Immediately Obvious to a Faulknerian Idiot Man-Child Raised by Tak-!Sung Tribesmen”
  • I was so thunderstruck by the idiocy of the Cash 4 Gold commercial (does anyone notice that the foundry worker is covered in prison tattoos?) that I missed our dog Max eating one of my silicone baking mats.  I’ve heard chocolate can kill dogs, how about silicone?  It certainly didn’t hurt my brother.
  • There are over 200 types of dwarfism.

A few days ago I asked a coworker what he was doing with 400 gallons of liquid nitrogen, then he just grinned and today I found out.  He finished his test work and then we looked for something cool we could dunk in liquid nitrogen and subsequently smash.  We scanned the building for plants, flowers, bushes and the like with no success: all the plants were fake, no one had flowers or plants on their desks and all the leaves were off the trees.  Nothing even vaguely cool to break.  I tried the standby of a rubber stopper, even at -178° it didn’t break.  Like a Twilight Zone episode there was nothing cool to break.  Disheartened, we settle for shattering some plastic netting which formed a jagged crown.  It will forever be a warning to those who plan to get extra liquid nitrogen, but don’t plan enough to get cool shit to break with it.

-Edited: My spelling and grammar blew, my apologies to eyes stabbed by my slovenliness.