06 November 2014

new ice box

my kenmore refrigerator of eleven years died last week. i noticed the compressor making a much louder noise than normal. when i got home from choir practice last wednesday, my freezer was too warm. all my frozen fruit has defrosted and leaked all over the bottom. (the cherry juice looked like blood.)

i moved the bacon down to the fridge to keep it alive, and i put a thermometer to monitor the temperature. by thursday, it was getting warmer.

i had already started my replacement search. i wasn’t sure how much time i had because i did not know if the problem was just my freezer or the whole unit. between online and in-store searching, i was not finding what i really wanted. what complicated my search was a static width of 34 inches. most of the fridges these days are being made for 36 inch width spaces.

i narrowed my selection down on by friday morning. despite their selection, sears could not get a replacement to me in less than two weeks. best buy, home depot, and lowe’s didn’t either have model i was considering or they didn’t have an alternative in black.

the winner this time was hh gregg. i had found the LG model LFXS24623B which was more than i primarily wanted to spend; but it matched the size, color, and configuration on my list.

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this was my first hh gregg experience, and it was a good one. richard d. was my sales guy. he answered all my questions and was patient as i worked out my final decision on this fridge. for weekend delivery, there was a $20.00 fee, which included transportation of the dead fridge. considering this unit was in atlanta on friday evening and in my house saturday morning, it was worth the twenty bucks.

life is back to normal at mock manor now. i did end up losing some bacon in the whole ordeal. (that was not due to spoiling but to ice in the cooler melting and seeping into the packing.) i will recover that sooner, though.

10 October 2014

more keyboard redesigns from lenovo

lenovo has had a history of screwing with keyboard layouts on their products. from thinkpads back as far as the T40 series, they have moved and shuffled keys around for the sake of the rest of their machines’ designs.

i recall glenn making a comment about his thinkpad because the escape key was placed above the F1 key. for a programmer running linux (and using vi), pressing the escape key is a regular occurrence. it’s maddening to get the help screen every time you reach up to exit insert mode!

there have been several lenovo laptops i’ve skipped over because the keyboard layout is non-standard.

and here is another example of this case: the new lenovo yoga 3. first, let’s look at a keyboard from the yoga 2, which follows a standard layout:

lenovo yoga 2 keyboard

see how the row of function keys are above the number keys and the tildé/accent key is above the tab key? that’s important. now, look at what they’ve done to their latest laptop keyboard:

lenovo yoga 3 keyboard

they have moved the tildé/accent key to the other side of the keyboard! they eliminated the whole function key row. i can already predict how my keyboarding experience would be on this laptop!

but perhaps i’m not seeing this as lenovo sees it. perhaps they don’t intend to market it to programmers or people who use that key in that spot often. given that they completely removed the function key row, non-techies seem to be more the audience for this device.

and it won’t matter anyway. lenovo will have yet another and different keyboard design next laptop line they introduce.

08 October 2014

android L preview apps: starbucks, google, and others not ready

looks like i might have written too soon. the starbucks app which now actually gets me into my card so that I can pay does not allow me to refresh to check my current balance. i can’t really complain, since i can at least still pay for my drinks with the app. and i can always go online if i need to check my balance in real time. the app will, however, let me load my card, and i can still see my rewards.

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but the starbucks app isn’t the only one not working. i’ve had several of google’s own apps crash at various points on my android L preview. the my maps app, one i tried to use on a recent trip, started but failed to function properly. the photos app (which now seems to be a function of the google+ app) crashes when trying to build auto awesome movies with captured video. the google music app refuses to connect to the internet to stream tunes with the latest update (at this writing). also amazon’s ability to stream prime video to devices seems to start playing the video but then crashes.

the point of a preview is to give the companies time to get these things worked out. but the one company i am most confused about getting working apps with android L preview is google. i mean, they are making them all android L ready. shouldn’t they be working with android L? and it’s not like i have a one-off device. i’m on a stock nexus 5.

maybe i’m being too picky. the android L becomes no longer just a preview in a few weeks. with all these little crashes all over the place, i’m more than excited for the release of android L!

05 October 2014

nyc again

when i redecorated my house last year, i took a painting off the wall behind my sofa. i needed to replace it with something other than the painting since it no longer matched. what i really wanted was a good shot of new york city.

my trip to the big apple in 2010 didn’t include any i could use, i booked a trip back up north. (i had wanted to have come back ever since my initial visit.)

because my purpose was primarily photography, i did not plan for shows. i scheduled some extended time on top of rockefeller center. morning sunrise and evening sunset provided enough for the shots i was looking.

all of the photos in this post were taken with my nexus 5:

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last time i was here, i didn’t actually visit the statue of liberty. i got some tickets this time too. i think it would be worth visiting the island if you can make the climb up to the crown, bit you have to book those tickets well in advance (which i failed to do). and it was raining most of the morning. i stayed on the island long enough for the clouds to clear and get a few snaps.

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the ticket also included ellis island. because i was hungry and my legs were hurting (a little), i didn’t read the whole museum. many of the artifacts were still in preservation since hurricane sandy caused serious problems. i would like to return when i was less pressed for time and the items were no longer in storage. by the time i was ready to leave, the clouds had broken enough to get more pictures of the city from another angle.

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two other things i didn’t really get to do last time here was eat pizza at two places i heard were some of the best. (i know that is a highly subjective statement, but…eh.) i ate at grimaldi’s and lombardi’s. both were very good pies. can’t beat new york style pizza.

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one bonus shot was of james earl jones leaving an off-broadway theatre after one of his shows. i was headed back to my hotel on the first night when the crowd was waiting outside. that was fun.




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nexus 5 photo of my canon 70d display

oh, one note: although i didn’t plan for shows, i did try to catch a taping of jimmy fallon and the tonight show, but i didn’t get tickets in time. turns out it was dane cook as the guest, so i didn’t feel so bad for not getting tickets.

i wish i could have made it a three full-day visit. there were a few more things i would like to have seen. i did get to eat street-vendor food.

there will be another trip.

22 September 2014

starbucks joys

it would figure that the day immediately after i post about their broken app that starbucks would release an update to fix it.

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and i can report it works for the android L preview (actual screenshot above).

as i stated yesterday, all of this didn’t stop me from swinging by my favorite store this morning and trying something new (for me). now, i can resume my first-world life.

thanks, starbucks!

21 September 2014

starbucks woes

i love starbucks coffee. i am a regular at the store on cedar bluff. i know the personnel, and most know me. i even know former employees. and i spend a good chunk of money with them.

but this past month has been frustrating with regard to payment options.

it started with the upgrade of their android app. about a month ago, i started getting email announcements of a new app with features and a new interface. i became excited. new apps are always a small thrill. but when they don’t work, it can be quite the disappointment.

after eagerly checking google play store more frequently than normally, i finally saw the starbucks app on the updates list. i clicked to make it new, waited, and jumped to my main screen, and tapped the app.

it started up…but then crashed. i tried again. same result. i went through the stand rituals of clearing cache, clearing data, and finally reinstalling the app. crashed every time.

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i decided to go back to an older app (unofficially starbucks). after shuffling around a backup of that app’s database, the payment screen wouldn’t display the payment barcode.

i also had the bright idea to do a screen grab of the barcode from the working app on an older phone, but drm protection squelched my plan.

since the app didn’t work, i was loathed to pull out the physical card with which to keep up. when trying to pay, the card registered empty. great.

i am running android L preview. if it had been released less than thirty days ago, i wouldn’t be too upset. it has been out since june, long before i started receiving the teaser emails. that means plenty of time to test against the future operating system. it would have been in their best interest to develop toward this change.

it has always felt as if starbucks treats their android customer base as an afterthought. it took them years after the apple device owners had an app to provide one for the other group. and this app might not be problematic to merely the cutting edge crew. read the latest comments in the store to find many others having new-app issues.

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if you haven’t upgraded yet, don’t.

i can still pay with credit card, cash, or make my coffee at home until they fix this. it’s definitely a first-world problem. i will continue to be a fan and buy their coffee. it just bugs me. and i have a blog.

20 July 2014

android L on my nexus 5

the horrible battery life of the android 4.4.4 (kitkat) update has finally pushed me to installing the android L sdk on my nexus 5. i followed this simple guide from lifehacker to swap out the rom.

i did screw up a little. i made backups of all my stuff including imaging my 4.4.4 rom. but then i forgot tot pull them off my n5 before executing the update which effectively wiped it all out. (the titanium backups for some reason didn’t send to my dropbox despite having space free. now, i can’t back up components with it since it’s not android L ready at the time of this post.)

so far, it seems stable. the interface is clean, and i like the notifications especially on the lock screen.

time will tell whether the battery life will improve from the two steps backwards with 4.4.4.



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update: after running the sdk for a while, the battery life is improved over the kitkat 4.4.4 upgrade. that last kitkat upgrade was pretty bad. let’s hope the full L-release doesn’t take us back a step again.

oh, i did find a few apps not L-ready. amazon’s shopping app’s buy/share buttons are functionless. no matter how many times you press them, nothing happens.

also, weather underground’s app has the daily/hourly precipitation percentages missing from the display. that one is a little odd, but that seems to be the only problem with the app.

10 July 2014

day four at the beach

we had been hearing about a storm coming toward us: hurricane authur. it was to hit on thursday, so we made the most of the beach today.

many waves to catch. we take these soft, water-designed balls we toss in the ocean playing a game of keep away. it's boys against the girls. we are outnumbered, but we always win. go us!

burns are better. trying not to make things worse. previous places still hurt but not as bad. i should be good by tomorrow.

ate some chinese food for dinner. not as good as our own china lee.

we played some more poker this evening. mom wasn't quite the threat she was the night before. these games have been fun. there are some shrewd players in my family.

09 July 2014

day three at the beach

got up early for sunrise. got some good pics. (will post them on flickr and update post.)

also got more beach time today.

found out that my forehead and stomach suffered from sun burning despite my use of spf 15. might have washed off while i was catching some waves doing a little body surfing.

mom cleaned up at poker this evening. not sure if i should be impressed or worried?

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06 July 2014

day one at the beach

ahh…back in north myrtle beach. i love this place. the weather in was stormy, so the nice weather today is welcomed.

kiersten and i made our second annual trip down to main street via the beach. didn’t realize it beforehand, but that’s a seven mile round trip walk. i was in better shape this year than last. (a year ago i was just past a knee procedure.)

wore enough sun protection…except for my feet. tops of them burned. but i had put enough on even overdosing them since i know how they tend to burn. walking in the water must have saltwater washed them.

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08 May 2014

boston marathon

a few weeks ago, my sister ran the boston marathon. she had qualified last year after completing the knoxville marathon.

i planned a trip to watch her run the twenty-six point two. she, her husband, and i spent a few days visiting the historical city where our country had many if its beginnings.

among the sights, we ate at the union oyster house, walked the freedom trail, saw old north church and bunker hill, and toured the uss constitution.

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on easter sunday evening, i joined david and wendi at the pasta dinner designed to give the runners a load of carbs the night before the big race. so many people!

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the next day, i met up with david in the boston common. wendi had jumped on a bus earlier than planned because it was a chilly morning. david and i walked around for a while, visiting mike’s pastries for the second day and then camping out at cheer’s to eat some lunch. we had some time before my sis was going to be close enough to catch.

however, our planning of the public transit system has some flaws. the biggest was failing to calculate the number of stops to reach her at boston college. we ended up turning around and catching her within a mile before the finish line. due to a faulty camera, i was only able to get a few shots of her, all of which missed her on approach. (she is wearing the white cap pointing toward us in response to our cheering.)

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when she crossed the finish line, her time was 3:52:10. this was only ten minutes longer than her qualifying time, a time which i think is pretty good since boston was a course she’d never run before.

i think she did great! i’m very proud of my sister! this is an amazing accomplishment!

03 April 2014

pentatonix

just over a week ago, i traveled to athens, georgia to hear “the sing-off” winning group pentatonix perform at the georgia theatre.

these guys are amazing! the things they achieve vocally with only five members in their group prove that talent and teamwork is enough. i followed these guys through their competition on nbc’s “the sing-off” several years ago. they met their musical challenges with incredible creativity only getting better in each new episode. (watch some of their performances on youtube.) at one point, sing-off judge shawn stockman commented after another outstanding performance, “i think you guys were sent back from the future to save acapella music and do it in futuristic way.” if that is their mission, i’d say we’re in good shape!


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party is getting started
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great show!
so much fun!
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i splurged for the vip tickets which included some time in for their sound check and a meet and greet. they tested one song with us standing there and then took some of our questions for a few minutes. we also got an autograph time along with a photo spot. the sound check was a real treat! (avi’s bass was so strong that i could feel the reverberations in my chest as i stood there listening.)

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these guys were very down to earth, very personable. they made the brief time to meet with them enjoyable.

their music can be found on all the music getting sites (itunes, google, amazon). they even have some christmas music, which is always better as acapella. and i still think their version of imagine dragons “radioactive” (with lindsey stirling) is better than imagine dragons’ is. also check out their daft punk mix. that is pretty dope too!



their official youtube channel along with ptxvlogs gives you a taste of their combined powers. of course their site, ptxofficial.com, includes information on the group as well as their social media links.

17 March 2014

new laptop

when i started working for scripps networks interactive (sni) back in september of 2012, i purchased an inexpensive asus laptop (u47a), which was a solid machine. it was made well and ran my fedora linux beautifully. the only thing i would like to have changed about it was the resolution size. a fourteen inch screen size only yielded a 1366×768 resolution. more memory would have been nice too, but the 8gb i had installed was enough.

in thinking about upgrading, i had several requirements:


  • needed to support up to 16gb ram

  • neeeded to have a higher resolution than 1366×768

  • backlit keyboard

  • 15″ screen

  • no numeric keypad to make me type off center

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after looking at lenovo, sony, hp, asus, samsung, and gigabtye, i found what i was looking for at dell. their xps 15 was the only laptop that had everything on my list. the resolution on this laptop’s 15″ display is 3200×1800! my requirements met along with several others: backlit keyboard (without a numeric keypad), 16gb memory, bluetooth 4.0, usb 3.0, sd card reader all included. plus this particular model came with a 32gb mSATA drive and a 1tb hard drive. i replaced the 32gb mSATA with a 480gb mSATA and the 1tb with a 960gb ssd. 1.3tb of solid state storage, baby! add to it a nice design of aluminum case with a gorilla glass display which is also a touch screen, and i found a definite winner. the cost was reduced a bit by the discount that came through my company, which made it more appealing.

the only con is that the battery life could be better on this model. it runs like a champ, but i find the battery draining much more quickly than my asus. and there isn’t an option for a backup battery like most laptops. i find that a little bit of a step back. however, i can live with those limitations given that it meets more important points for me.

this was not an easy laptop to find. most topped out at 8gb of memory (wutup?) or included the 15″ display but with a numeric keypad so i’m typing on the left of my laptop. at this point, 16gb should be the max point on all laptops being made (my opinion). lenovo and samsung make some nice machines, but they both had one of these limitations or a screen resolution that was no better than my asus.

with this dell, i’m set for the next several years.

28 January 2014

snow day!

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we finally got a decent snow day here in knoxtropolis complete with piling snow and slick roads. it feels like winter again.

a few photos captured during my unnecssarily lengthy trip home…

21 January 2014

s4 to n5

i decided that enough was enough. even though samsung had made the last few phones i have owned, my most recent purchase in april as an upgrade to my nexus s 4g was not a google branded phone. and my experience with the samsung galaxy s4 has not been good enough for me to stay with it.

i think that even though some of the technical ideas built into the s4 are clever, it has been their tweaks to the operating system that annoy me the most.

things i have hated:


  • choosing an app to launch file/object types has the usual prompt asking which one and how often. but samsung includes an additional prompt stating that the choice just made can be undone in the system application settings…EVERYTIME! how about a way to turn that off, k?

  • they including a service/app which can’t be stopped or removed that puts an icon in the notification bar when the phone is fully charged. i believe one battery indicator is enough, and there is no need to turn the screen on when it’s fully charged. “hey, i am fully powered, let’s start running that battery down immediately.” if they didn’t also include led indicators for charging and full, the screen on might make a little sense.

  • the biggest complaint i have is the bloatware samsung installs on their phones. not being able to remove or even disable the crap i don’t use or need frustrates me enough.

  • unlocking/rooting the samsung phone requires a windows app. a WINDOWS piece of software for a linux variant operating system! i can’t emphasize the word “FAIL” strongly enough for that move.

  • one preference i had some trouble getting used to was the tactile home button at the bottom rather than the touch counterpart found on other android devices. a power button the the side is one thing, but the need for an physical button seemed unnecessary. (what am i? an apple user?)

these items annoyed me. i tried to accept and power through them, but i couldn’t seem to live without the pure android os.

i did replace their limited touchwiz launcher with nova quite speedily. at least i could control that.

i started eyeing the nexus 5 around the end of last year. the design is very appealing and the display is very sharp! (it seems) the n5 is a bit faster than the s4.

my only complaint about the n5 is that the battery life isn’t as solid as i would have hoped for this generation android device. (the nexus 5 is an LG device.) add to the face that the battery isn’t removable and it might end up being a little frustrating. we’ll see. it wasn’t enough to stop me from switching.

in the end, i opted for the nexus 5. so far, i am loving it!

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02 January 2014

shiny

i had been talking about finishing some remodeling of my house for a while and finally started the weekend before thanksgiving.

when i was between jobs in september of 2012, i ended up painting my bedroom and the extra bedroom i use as an office. (the master bathroom had been reworked a few months before. it had been a hassle to remove the wallpaper, an activity i have decided to farm out in the future.)

i prepped the house by taping the other spare bedroom, the hallway, and the living room the eveninga before the weekend before thanksgiving. on saturday morning, i started painting. i finished up the last parts of the living room by midday sunday. now, all the rooms matched the dark ash color of the other two bedrooms.

for years i had needed new carpet. many spills had left stains, some i covered with the sofa. a friend of mine had put in new carpet which had anti-stain abilities. i knew that was what i needed and wanted when i chose to replace mine. i made a trip to frazier’s carpet one to pick out a dupont blend called triexta. that combined with their best padding which is also spill resistant is just what the doctor ordered. even though the lighter color seemed right, the shade darker was more appealing. ordered to be installed the monday before christmas.

a call from fraizer’s right after thanksgiving had me to reschedule to the friday immediately before christmas. it would be cutting things close.

next was replacement furniture. these four pieces i purchased from a colleague (at the time) when i first moved into the house  fifteen years ago. i had started looking at different furniture before thanksgiving but finally found what i liked the following sunday at ashley furniture store. i scheduled delivery the saturday after the carpet was installed.

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all that was left was to find a home for the old furniture. i scheduled with karm to have them pick up the quartet the wednesday before new carpet. i wanted an extra day as a buffer to deal with getting more of the house cleared. this turned out to be necessary.

karm resells furniture so they need things to be in really good condition. i thought my stuff though with minor defects would pass, but i was wrong. they told me angelic ministries uses furniture for a different cause and was more likely to take it.

i had trouble contacting them in a short time. my anxiety of all the other gears in motion drove me to find some way to guarantee the lot out if my house by thursday evening.

i rented a truck on wednesday evening. with my brother-in-law’s arms, we loaded the truck and my dad was willing to drop it at angelic on thursday. problem solved.

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the rest went as planned. carpet in friday, furniture on saturday. new and shiny. all done.

i am very happy with it all. my family loved it too on christmas eve.

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