Hunting Super Mutants while freezing my ass off and suffering from Wii Shoulder…

It’s been an interesting week to say the least here at the old homestead.

Sunday (Jan 25, 2009) our 49 year old oil burning furnace decided to stop working. My wife noticed it around 8:30 pm and asked me why it it was 61 degrees in the house. I took a look at the thermostat, tried raising the temp, and got nothing. When the furnace kicks on, you can hear it on the second floor. You can feel it on the first floor.

So I went down into the basement to see what was up with old Bessie (I have no clue why it’s called old Bessie, any more than I know why my puppy is named Ms. Autumn Cuddles Snugglepuppy III). Flipping the emergency shut off switches did nothing. Staring at the water level intently illicited no positive reaction, or any reaction for that matter, from the furnace. Looking at the oil pump, I spied a reset switch that might help.

I flipped the emergency shut off switch to the off position and then pressed reset button. After a quick prayer to the Sumerian Goddess of Oil Furnaces and Bunny Rabbits (who’s name is Bes’si, by the way), I flipped the shut off switch to on. I was rewarded with a somewhat familiar sound of the oil pump kicking in. My smile died away as I realized that the furnace had not ignited, and was just spraying oil into the chamber.

I killed the shut off switch, and told my wife the bad news. There was no one to call that night, so we needed to wait until the morning. So we bundled up and went to bed. Puppies make wonderful bed warmers.

Que the asscrack of dawn, 4:30 am. It’s now 41 degrees in the house and we cannot wait to get to work where it is warm.

This is starting to get long, so I’ll speed it up a little.

We called around and everyone said that unless you buy oil from us, we cannot help you (bastards). Our oil company’s phone was busy for 2 1/2 hours. When we finally got through they gave us another number to call. We called them and they said they would send someone out right away.

An hour later we find out that the igniter and the transformer are shot, and the furnace needs adjusting. $291.50 later, everything is fixed, the furnace is blasting away merrily, and the house is heating up. When I get home, I find it a balmy 72 degrees (I usually have it set to 68 during the day and 62 at night).

Reveling in the glorious heat, I spent a couple of hours hunting super mutants in a post apocalyptic wasteland.

Around 7:30 pm my wife comes and asked me to look at the furnace again. With my heart sinking, I went down to old bessie and checked her out. Nothing was working. I went through the whole rigamarole above and with a prayer to the Persian Goddess of Oil Fueled Heating Devices and Woman’s Support Garments (who is incidentally named B’hesy).

I ended up with the exact same result as before. A lot of vaporized oil, no ignition, and another cold ass night.

Long story short (too late for that), we called the next day. The guy came out, admitted he screwed up by not adjusting the igniter correctly after moving it to check for correct air flow. Within 5 minutes, the furnace was blazing, and all was good in my world.

I have to hand it to the guy for being honest with us. He could have easily duped us by say that the igniter had burned out, and it need to be replaced along with the part that made it burn out. He could have easily charged us another $300 or more. But he didn’t, and for that I will use him to install our new furnace when Bessie finally gives up the ghost, she is pushing 50 after all.

Reveling in the glorious heat, I spent a couple of hours hunting super mutants in a post apocalyptic wasteland.

A couple of day before all this mess, my wife and I finally broke down and purchased a Wii. What an interesting console! I love the wireless controls, and how it connects to the internet. Well it wasn’t long before we picked up a second Wiimote and another game. My wife and I wanted to get Animal Crossing: City Folk, but since my son was actually purchasing the game he got final say. He ended up buying Rayman’s Raving Rabbids, which is a hilarously cute game with psychotic rabbits.

The one thing I learned playing with the wiimote (especially with the nunchuck attached) you use a lot of  arm movement. Between playing golf, bowling, and dancing with insane rodents, I have developed a malady which I call Wii Shoulder. In a nutshell, my shoulder hurts and I blame the Wii. Making me swing my arms around like a mad man, it ought to be ashamed.

Recuperating, I spent a couple of hours hunting super mutants in a post apocalyptic wasteland.

Next time I post, I’ll tell you all about the Super Mutants… if I don’t spend all my time hunting them.



The Wonder of Today’s Mobile Computing…

1st Gen iPod Touch

1st Gen iPod Touch

Everyday I look around and I’m amazed how far our technology has come. I was born in 1972 (which makes me old to a lot of you, and a baby to just as many). Video entertainment was constrained Television and Pong. During the 80’s, we saw the first home computers (with a whopping 128Kb of ram and 5.25 floppy disks!), VCR’s (top loaders that weighed approximately 500 lbs), Laser disks (which were really Stereo LP’s for your TV), and Mobile Phones (which often weighed more than the first VCRs). Late in the decade, Nintendo, replaced Atari, as Compact Discs replace cassette tapes (which replaced 8 tracks, which replace LPs)

The Nineties gave us cell phones that were truly mobile (if not exactly comfortable in your pocket), Faster & more powerful computers, the first laptop systems, DVD’s, and PDA’s.

Here, towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Mobile computing is nearing perfection (in my eyes) and I’m not sure where it can go from here. Don’t get me wrong, it will continue to get better, I’m just not sure how.

My first true mobile device was my Palm Tungsten E. I had another palm before that, but it was really limited on what it could do. With the Tungsten E, it was really a little computer in my hand. There were lots of developers out there creating games and applications for it. It was fast, colorful, and fun ( and I still have in a drawer somewhere), but I couldn’t get the internet on it. It really needed connectivity.

So my next mobile device was the Palm TX. It had a bigger screen, faster processer, more colors, more memory than the Tungsten E. But most importantly it had WiFi (and Bluetooth for phones). I could get my email (more or less, it wasn’t perfect) and browse the web. The applications and games were much more elaborate. I kept all my contact  and calendar information (it’s orginal purpose). It had one fatal flaw, the digitizer.

The Palm TX had a touch sensitive screen, like all Palm PDAs before it. Unlike all Palm PDAs before it, its digitizer was made of plastic, not glass. I paid over $300 for it, the digitizer should have been made of glass. What’s the problem with the plastic digitizer? Mad Digitizer Sydrome, and Dead Spots. Here’s a Google Search for Mad Digitizer Syndrome. MDS is when you tap on the screen in one place and the screen thinks you tapped in a different place. Dead Spots are just that, dead spots on your screen that don’t respond to any tapping. I had both.

I had created a little poll to find out if anyone else had screen problems with the Palm TX, and over 150 people responded. 1 in 2 people had MDS, dead spots, or both. I even sent it in for repair and they sent it back without even looking at it. I really don’t have anything nice to say about Palm any more.

My back up mobile computer was my PlayStation Portable. Even though I could browse the net, listen to music, watch videos, and play quality games on it, it just wasn’t a mobile computer. It was more a mobile entertainment center.

The near ultimate mobile device I own now is my 16 gigabyte 1st Generation iPod Touch. When I first bought it, Apple hadn’t released the software development kit yet, so there wasn’t any official apps for the Touch. But hackers out there had hacked the Touch and were releasing apps and games of their own. I hacked my iPod (or ‘jailbroke’ it), and was downloading apps and games. The Jailbroke Touch was a fairly unstable, and more than one occasion I had to reset back to factory setting to fix it.

Apple opened up the app store, and we were finally able to official apps. While Apple must approve every application that gets added to the store (angering a lot of software developers), the shear amount of applications that appaered was  amazing. Now my Touch was finally a suitable replacement for my Palm TX. I could browse the web on a superior web browser. I had a email application that not only worked, but worked well. All my contact and calendar information was stored in it. And now I could

  • Securely store account information.
  • Check the weather with radar.
  • Get directions with google earth.
  • Get local and national news.
  • Shop directly with Ebay, Amazon, Target with their own apps.
  • Listen to Online Radio Stations.
  • Search and watch YouTube videos.
  • Search, buy, download, and listen to music from iTunes, not to mention my own MP3s.
  • Watch Movies and TV Shows I upload from my Computer.
  • Use it as my digital photo album.
  • Load it up with as much useless games and crap as I want.

But the best feature, in my humble opinion, is being able to read EBooks on my iPod. I started reading ebooks about 3-4 years ago, and I can count the number of dead tree books I’ve read since then on one hand (actually, one finger). The touch has a number of different ereaders, but my favorite is iSilo, because that was what I used on my Palm TX and I have a very large library in the iSilo format. My next recommendation would be Stanza, for the ease of getting free books, and the ease of use. I use and love both apps.

But it’s still not perfect. The iPod was still limited to connecting to WiFi hotspots. Hard to check your email on the bus, or see if you got sniped on Ebay if you are not connected. Enter the end all be all of mobile computing: The 2nd Generation iPhone.

The 2nd Gen iPhone has all the features the iPod touch has, including:

  • GPS, used in conjuction google earth, or one of a thousand applications, you’ll never get lost again.
  • Voice recording (You can do this with 2nd Gen iPod Touch)
  • It’s a mobile phone and all features a phone has.
  • Supremely simple Text and Multimedia messaging.
  • A 2 megapixel camera, and the photo’s are geotagged.
  • WiFi or 3G connectivity. As long as you have a phone signal, you havae a internet connection.

There are plenty more features, but I cannot list them all here. The best line I have heard that describes the iPhone is ‘iPhone, God probably has one’. You can do practically do anything with it, and it fits in your pocket (much to the chagrin of a friend of mine, who found out that the iPhone no likey the washing machine). And if you have one of the new Net Book computers (it’s a full featured laptop that’s about 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a full laptop. You could carry it in your coat pocket) there are ways to use the iPhone as a modem.

Mobile computing has reached a point that truly is a amazing, I can’t wait to see where it goes.


Hello world!

Just getting this started up. It may take a while…

I’ve had a few blogs in the past, all under pseudonyms, which haven’t done very well… Ok so, the blogs were actually fine, it was just I didn’t update them very often, and they were generally oriented around a specific theme (geocaching, abandoned building exploration, ranting, etc.) I’m hoping that if I keep this one general, I might update it more often.

Stay on the lookout for nonsense articles about whatever I’m interested at the time, along with plenty of Photographs. Photography is my hobby,  I want to it be my career.