From category archives: Avian Waves

Miscellaneous posts


AT&T Sucks

AT&T sure hates the fact that their 3G coverage sucks and Verizon is pointing it out.  The latest ad (been out for a while, actually) says that only AT&T allows you to talk and download at the same time.  Big deal if you can't get 3G service!

I hate AT&T.  I have to have them for local phone service because I use DSL and their monopoly makes them the only game in town -- and a very expensive option at that.  Cable is better for internet, but Time Warner is even lower on the scale of "good companies" in my book.  Better of the two evils -- so AT&T wins.  Thankfully, my actual DSL provider is a local company (Portbridge) and they are very good.  It's still AT&T's loop and I have to have local phone service, but at least AT&T is getting the least money possible from me.  I hate monopolies. 

I thought deregulation was supposed to fix all this?

Of course not!  Deregulation never helps the consumer.  Well I've derailed from my original point.  So, in conclusion, fuck AT&T and fuck Time Warner!

And Happy New Year!  :-)



Am I the only one that thinks the Chia Obama is, at the very least, unclassy and, at the very worst, blatantly racist?


Finally, a Union for Technology Workers

I just recently joined the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech).  They are a part of the Communication Workers of America (CWA), which itself is a part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

I had been toying around with the idea of joining a union for a long time.  I knew there were a lot of things happening in the technology world that only organized labor could properly deal with.  For example, outsourcing our jobs to countries where labor is cheaper and the stagnant wages we've seen since the tech bubble burst of 2001.  However, it just didn't seem like there was any option for me as a high tech worker.  I was actually quite envious of my blue collar brethren.

Then I discovered WashTech.  I thought it was awesome that Microsoft workers formed this union, but I just didn't see how that would directly benefit me, living in North Carolina, other than the national advocacy and lobbying they do.

Well, I finally bit the bullet and decided to try it on for a year.  So I plopped down my union dues and today received my membership packet.  The benefits I'm receiving are much more than I expected.  Since WashTech is a part of CWA, which is a part of the AFL-CIO, I receive every benefit that every other AFL-CIO member receives.  This includes discounts on tons of stores and items through their "Union Plus" discount program.  I also receive free life insurance.  Not a huge amount, but it's free just for being a member.

They may not be able to help me negotiate contracts or directly local high tech communicate workers' needs to businesses in my area, but the fringe benefits plus the national advocacy is a fantastic start!

It feels good to know I'm now a member of an organization whose mission is to protect my job.  And the discounts I'm receiving I feel will nearly pay for the union dues.  I'm a pretty proud union member right now.

If you are an American tech worker, I highly recommend joining.  It doesn't matter if you don't live in the northwest, you'll enjoy some great benefits and also know that somebody is watching your back in this crappy economy.

The more tech workers that join, the more powerful the union will become, and the more our voices will be heard.


Stem Cells Cure Blindness

This is so freaking cool.  I hope they can adapt this technique to ears so I can I get super hearing!



Today I went out to eat lunch with my lovely wife.  At the table next to us were two businessmen who were discussing future plans for their business.  Of course, rather than using the word plan they kept using the word vision.  This isn't the first time I've heard this euphemism.  Marketing departments must stay awake late at night coming up with cute buzzwords to replace boring old words that everybody, you know, actually understands.  I think it's part of what keeps them employed.  I'm guess I'm not really one to talk because IT is also a department very famous for coming up with new complex words too, but at least it's not to replace perfectly fine existing words, it's usually just fancy acronyms for new technology.  I confused a manager the other day by saying KVM.  Either way, I'm sure it keeps us employed.  :-D

But, I digress…

I actually heard these two say things like, "we need to communicate our vision" and "can you explain your vision for this?"  The one that took the cake for me was, "Wow – that's a lot of vision."

No, I'm serious!  That cracked me up. 

What they were talking about were their plans for the business.  How on earth the word vision became such a buzzword replacement for plan, I have no idea.  I hear vision at work frequently, especially around review time when I have to help with the "Five Year IT Vision" or whatever they are calling it this year.  But these two guys really took it to the next level.  They certainly didn't make it up.  They were just trying to sound like the Big Boy CEOs that throw that word around gratuitously.  I guess it sounds more fun and exciting than a plan, but that's all it is.

About the only thing worse than using vision instead of plan is when businesspeople use the word vision instead of the word budget.  Now, this one threw me off the first time I heard it.  It was really quite odd to hear things like "the maintenance cost of this project accounts for 10% of the 2008 vision."  That's just silliness.

Oh, I forgot to mention what the vision actually was that the two aforementioned gentlemen were discussing at lunch.  They were building a new church.  I didn't even understand that until about halfway through the first gentleman finished presenting his complete vision to the second gentleman.  It all seemed very… un-Christ-like to me.  Let's just say it was an expensive and grandiose vision.  It's quite unfortunate when religion becomes difficult to distinguish from big business.  Personally, I'd rather see all those generous donations go to the needy, but I know -- that's just crazy talk!  The needy can wait!  These guys really needed that large field, huge buildings, fancy architecture, statues, and expensive windows!



Today our house received a citation because we haven't mowed our lawn often enough.  Yes, seriously.  For some perspective, it's been a little less than two weeks since we mowed our front yard.  We've been getting  a ton of rain, so the grass is growing like crazy right now.

The inspector was super polite, so I have no hard feelings toward the city.  He said it was so borderline, that he had to measure it with a ruler and then found that we did, indeed, have a few blades of grass over eight inches of length.  I wonder if a subcommittee on grass blade length had to be formed by the city to determine this magic number.  lol

Anyway, it turns out the city itself doesn't really care, but we had a busybody neighbor report us, so they are obligated to investigate.  No doubt it was the same neighbor that complained to our HOA about our security camera near the front door when we installed it (which, btw, there is no city or HOA rule against having).

The inspector told us that he had been receiving tons of lawn complaints like this.  He thinks its due to newly unemployed people staying at home and having nothing better to do.  Personally, I think it's more probably due to people trying to assert some small form of mitigation of property value decline since they can't control the bubble burst.  Because, you know, an occasional few long blades of grass on your neighbor's yard makes a huge difference!

So how sad is that?  Seriously, people.  Get a life.

If you see a cess pool of a pond on someone's property, an insect or rodent breeding ground, or some other health hazard, yes, report that property!  But if somebody didn't have time to mow the lawn last weekend, STFU and get a freaking life.

I wonder what our busybody neighbors will think when we mow our lawn so low that all the grass dies.  See -- I don't really care what it looks like.  But they obviously do.  There's no ordinance against dead grass.  ;-)


The Death of the Print Media

I keep reading from various sources (I know, weasel words) that the print media is dying (or already dead).  Other than for the purposes of nostalgia, why is this bad?  I can read any number of local, regional, national, or international news sources online from my home computer, work computer, and even my phone.  I think saving a few million trees every year is a good thing, don't you?

Part of the lamenting this change is not nostalgia, however.  There is a genuine concern that without a good print media, there will be no (or at least reduced)  investigate reports, government watchdogs, and checks on power.  This is supposedly due to the fact that print media has the funds necessary to follow-up on leads and develop in-depth stories.  Blogs, on the other hand, supposedly do not have these types of resources.  I disagree with this argument.  First, since 9/11/01, there has been little to none of that from the traditional media anyway!  Remember all those great stories busting open the fraud that was Sadam Hussein's glaring lack of any WMDs?  Yea, me either.  Second, there are blogs that do investigative stories, even if the quantity of investigations is less than a traditional media outlet.  This brings me to my third point: there are far more blogs than newspapers.  You do not need a single blog to do the work of a single newspaper.  A collection of a couple dozen blogs can and do perform as much reporting.  Plus, blogs cross-link and cross-pollinate, so the word gets out fast.  Not all blogs do this, yes.  However, I feel enough blogs are doing this and are doing a fine job replacing the dying print industry.

This is one industry I am not sad to see go.  If they actually did what they think they have been doing all these years, I would probably be significantly more sympathetic.


I've Been Blog-Memed? Who Knew I Was So Popular!

Well, at least I have one fan out there in the blogosphere!  Apparently Ron Britton, in-between battling religious extremism with his mighty keyboard, has decided to meme-slap me and my lowly mostly-tech blog.  Cool.  I've never felt so included in the blogosphere before.  So, without further ado, I now present you with the rules of this particular meme, my responses, and the frighteningly chain-letter-like conclusion of my slapping others.  :-)


  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people.
  5. Inform the tagees and the person who tagged you.

Six Random Things About Me:

  1. I am a college drop-out.  Yes, kids, you too can grow up to be an aspiring musician in a tech career, and no degree is required!  Well, that's not entirely true.  I have an Associate of Arts degree -- I just never finished college.  I do hold a few certifications, and in my position as a systems/network administrator/engineer (whatever my position title of the day is), that seems to make up for it.  Now, I don't encourage anybody to not finish college (especially in this age of the Bush Economy Legacy), but at least for those of us that grew up in the care-free days of the tech bubble, no degree is required!

  2. Eureka Seven - Renton and Eureka I am a HUGE anime fan (Sorry, Ron, Japanimation just sounds funny to me).  I've always dug animated features.  Of course, all kids do.  But when Disney's stories didn't appeal to me anymore, I found out that Japan makes animated movies and shows for all age groups, even *gasp* adults!  Currently, my favorite anime evah (movie or series) is Eureka Seven.  It just so happens I'm trying to find other interested artists to work on a fan-made OVA in the E7 universe.  So far, the interest has been sparse.  Maybe this post will help?

  3. I am child-free by choice.  ZOMG who will take care of me when I'm old?! Well, I'm trying my hardest to train my flock of parrots to spoon feed me, but so far, it hasn't worked.  They do try to share their pellets, which is sweet, but it doesn't taste too good.  So I must hate kids, right?  No.  Well, not too much anyway.  ;-)  I just don't want my own.  My wife and I are happy with our flock of birds.

  4. Bo Diddley and Timothy I was present at one of Bo Diddley's final recording sessions.  He was recording a song with his daughter and her band that was basically a pro-Iraq War song back when America was in the "let's bomb stuff to feel better" mode after 9/11.  Well... Bo knows a lot of things, but I'm afraid he was wrong about Iraq.  Aside from the content of that song, he was an amazing person with a lot of words of wisdom.  And his guitars... My god, his guitars were so freaking awesome!  Built-in drumb machines, effects processors, etc.  Bo was quite an amazing dude.  His family was super cool too.  So what the heck was I doing there??  My buddy owns a recording studio near where Bo was living in his semi-retirement and it happens to be a top-notch studio.  I was there to take photographs to record the event for my buddy.  And, well, because it gave me an excuse to sit in on a session with a (then) living legend.  I will never forget that day!  Like many, he died too soon.

  5. I'm a Microsoft fan-boy, evangelist, and apologist.  I'm still waiting for Bill to send me a free XBox 360 or something.  Windows 7 is going to rock my world!

  6. I am incredibly lucky and privileged to have found two soulmates to share my life with.  My first passed away when she was 26 and left a huge hole in my heart.  Luckily, E-Harmony helped me find my second a few years later.  Now, we are one big happy flock.

Slapping Others

So... Now who do I pass this meme onto?  I'm just an insignificant little tech blogger in the great big wide world of bloggers.  Well, I'll give it a shot.  I don't really expect any of them to do it. :-)

  1. Mark Russinovich
  3. The Watcher (because maybe if Ron and I both slap him, he'll come back to blogging)
  4. Sadly, No!
  5. ThinkProgress
  6. John J. McKay

Deep Thought

Whenever tech writers say something is going to be the "next killer app," it increases the probability that the app will fade into obscurity.


Sylvia Browne

I'm a skeptic at heart.  A long time ago, while researching (aka googling) cold reading, I stumbled upon a wonderful site dedicated to debunking Sylvia Browne.  In case you don't know, Sylvia Browne is a "psychic" who is most popular for cheap Vegas acts and "communicating" with random people's dead relatives on Montel Williams' old show.  She is an awful human being who preys upon vulnerable people.

The owner of the StopSylvia site, Robert Lancaster, had a stroke  recently.  In the chaos that ensued afterwards to save his life and begin rehabilitation, he failed to renew his original domain name and a cybersquatter snatched it up (GRR!).  That is the primary reason I am posting this article.  I want to get the word out about his new site with a slightly different domain name (click on any link in this post)!  It's a great resource with a ton of very useful information on how Sylvia cons people into spending money so that she can tell them what they want to hear, all the way pretending to communicate with lost loved ones.  She is a despicable human being.  I'm very glad we have people like Robert Lancaster on our side.

The good news is that Robert is on the road to recovery and will someday soon be able to continue his fight against con artists like Sylvia.

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