Sep 25

Not a bad start to the day, not in the least

I walked out the door this morning, backpack on my shoulder and trash bag in hand. As I reached the bottom of the stairs I looked to the East to see what kind of sunrise we were getting.



Yeah, that wasn’t too shabby. Then I turned toward the dumpsters and looked up to see… This.


No, but seriously.


I tell you what: Hillsboro Oregon gives fantastic sky, sometimes.

Sep 20

Thyme Laps Video

I bought a new tablet. I installed Lapse It Pro onto the tablet, and this afternoon the clouds were rather pretty and scudding across the blue sky quite nicely and… this happened:


Not bad, eh? Now, for this video I basically just propped the tablet up on top of one of the living room bookshelves, opened the window, started the recording and walked away for an hour or so.

And walked back, and walked away, and walked back, and finally decided I should go play a game or something for a while because otherwise I was going to be tempted to tinker with things while the recording progressed. Ahem.

I’m hoping to do more like this, but I’m mostly looking (once the tripod mount arrives) at doing some time lapse “build” videos, such as for assembling one of the very small Gundam models whose boxes have been collecting dust for a couple years now. (A devoted modeler I am not, apparently.)

Why not use the Pentax? Because I don’t want to assemble these videos from a pile of raw images by hand, that’s why. The additional expense of shutter timer equipment is also a factor.

So here we are. A guy needs a hobby, right? It’s not so much about the Gundam model as it is about what kind of video I can make out of the process of building the model…


Aug 25

Standard Support Screwup

The script you’re about to read doesn’t detail how every interaction with a particular vendor’s tech support staff goes, but it’s very, very indicative and common…


Me: Hello! A problem has occurred with your product. Now, having worked with this product nigh onto a decade now, I’m aware of the usual issues and have gone through the knowledge base articles numbered Such and Such. I can confirm that the state of the usual problem-causing factors is nominal. I am looking for alternative avenues to pursue to remedy the problem.

Ticket: *remains unassigned for hours*

Me: Hello, Support Manager! I can’t help but notice that the High Priority ticket I submitted has gone unassigned. We, ah, kind of need this problem resolved ASAP.

Support Manager: I have assigned your ticket. Please be aware that we do not post support SLAs.

Me: That’s nice, but five hours without assigning a ticket isn’t about SLAs, it’s about “if we treated our clients like that, we’d be put out of business.” But whatever.

Tech: Hello, I have been assigned to your ticket. Judging by the environment, you should read knowledge base article numbered Such. It will resolve your problem.

Me: Had you actually read my ticket (*), you’d know that I already referenced and followed the instructions in that article. Next?

Tech: Have you tried rebooting the system?

Me: …yes. The system has been rebooted. Next?

Tech: You are using the wrong kind of credential (**). Change that and you’ll probably be all set.

Me: Tried that. Tried two variants of that, actually. Still not working. Next?

Time: *passes*

NewTech: I see that you are trying to use the product in a particular environment. Please see knowledge base article Such, it will remedy the problem.

Me: Hello, NewTech! If you’d read my ticket notes, you would know that I have already addressed the possibility detailed in the second article. Next?

Time: *passes*

Me: *sighs*

And that’s where things stand.


(* – If I had a dollar for every time this vendor’s techs utterly failed to read the text of my ticket submission, I could treat both of my girlfriends and their families, all together, to a very nice dinner out.)

(** – This is a domain controller. The credential account was technically shown as a “local” account but since it’s a domain controller, its local accounts are domain accounts. Idiots.)

Aug 21

Besides the B-Sides

Sitting here at work, my random playlist is churning out favorite after favorite to keep my musically steady through the day, and I found myself realizing that my favorite songs from each of the last two Phil-Collins-fronted Genesis albums are not, in fact, on those albums.

Let me explain. No, there is too much; let me sum up.

The Invisible Touch album is a fun piece of work, with some of my all-time favorite songs, let’s be fair. Heck, it was the start of my Genesis fandom. And yet, the song I love most is “Feeding The Fire,” which was a B-side on the “Land of Confusion” single.

Note that by the time the next Collins-led album arrived, vinyl singles had mostly gone the way of the Dodo(/Lurker).

While I’m at it, I think “Do The Neurotic” is a better instrumental than “The Brazilian,” though it’s a close thing and I’m happy listening to either one.

Many years later, the We Can’t Dance album arrived. When the single for “I Can’t Dance” hit the stores (oh, how some Genesis fans hate that song) it came with a wonderful gem of a companion track: “On The Shoreline.” I’m certain that I’ve listened to that one track more than any song on the actual album, probably more than all of them combined.

Is it the allure of the bonus hidden special gem? The curiosity over what didn’t make the cut? Who knows? It probably doesn’t matter. I know what I like.

(“And I like what I know…”)

Aug 07

The File That Crashed Word 2013

My morning started with a ticket assigned before I got here, scheduled for first thing after the morning “huddle.” The dispatcher pitched me to the client as “the best person at this sort of thing,” having wholly misunderstood the nature of the call. (They thought it was a backup-restore situation, when in fact it was an Office Behaving Badly situation. D’oh.)

I was, in fact, able to quickly recover the desired information from Word’s auto-recovery files. This made the client very happy. Unfortunately, unless we could figure out why Word was crashing so reliably (as it were) in one particular set of documents, the problem was going to come back again and again. In one location on the network could be found eight similar Word DOCX files.

The symptom: Open a file, scroll down into the numbered lists, go to the end of a line of text and press the Enter key to initiate a new numbered line. Word 2013 immediately crashes.

The things we tried:

  • Open the document in Word 2010: No problems at all.
  • Use Word 2010 to save into 2003-compatible DOC format: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Launch Word 2013 in Safe Mode: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Use Word 2013 to open-and-repair the file: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Repair Office 2013: Word 2013 still crashed.
  • Copy & paste the document contents into a whole new file and save (into either 2003-style DOC or 2007+ DOCX): Word 2013 still crashed.

I lost an hour and a half on this just of my own time, and then brought in a couple members of my team to bash on it as well. One of them figured out the problem:

The numbered list formatting was broken, somehow, in a way that only Word 2013 had a problem with. If we select the document contents and simply choose another numbered list format/style preset… the problem vanishes.

Yep. Seriously.

So, that was a fun way to spend the first half of a Friday!

Aug 06

The Church of the Flaming Dove


See? There it is. Their logo (icon, symbol, whatever) is a dove going down in flames. What in the world…?

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