Posts Tagged ‘cantankerous’

An Apple ad that will make you want to vomit

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

The mac/pc ads were cute & funny.  This 8-minute long navel-gazing circlejerk just makes me want to punch these dudes in the junk.  If the iPad “exceeds your ability to understand”, that doesn’t make the device “magical” — it makes you an idiot.  Is this the Apple target market now?  Okay, maybe I’m the idiot for even asking that question.

“Dances with 3D-blue-cat-people-in-space” finally put in check

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Suck it, Avatar.

Successful replacement of my Macbook Pro’s keyboard – some tips

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Last week, my wife left her (red, non-diet) soda next to my Macbook Pro on our kitchen counter, and the inevitable happened:  my 2-year-old son tossed something up on the counter and knocked the soda over right into the keyboard of my laptop.  (This is the third laptop-spill incident that my wife has been involved in — the previous 2 were on her Dell, which I’d fixed and replaced.  Here’s hoping she actually listens to me about not putting liquids next to laptops this time).  Fortunately, the laptop was still functional, though the keys were sticky and the “f” key in particular was completely nonfunctional.  I tried taking the key apart, cleaning underneath with rubbing alcohol, and replacing the key, but it didn’t work.  (As a side-note to all of you out there learning this the hard way, one thing you should do if this happens to you is to unplug it, remove the battery, turn it upside down with the display opened at a 90-degree angle after toweling it off, and let it dry out.  My wife toweled it off, but didn’t do any of the other stuff, risking electrical damage.  Thankfully that didn’t happen).

I ordered a replacement keyboard from  Despite the amateurish web design, the service was solid, and I received my keyboard (in new, not used, condition) in a well-packed box in just 3 days from the west coast.  I have a Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro (the late-2006 “Merom” edition, not the later “Santa Rosa” edition).  The guys at have a nice, detailed guide for replacing such a keyboard.  I’ve used their guides before for replacing my hard drive.  I like that they have large, clear pictures for each step, and that they effectively highlight where the screws are.

Now, this is not for the faint of heart.  Obviously I’ve done this a few times (including with my old G4 powerbook, which was easier to muck with).  If you endeavor upon such a thing, you’ll want to make sure you have separate containers for the screws from each step, so that when you put it back together, you’re not wondering which parts go where.  (I used baby-food cups).  I will say that though ifixit’s guide got me most of the way there, there were a few minor issues with their instructions.

Specifically, step 9 is troublingly sparse on detail about how exactly to get the upper case free from the front of the case (near the optical drive).  They mention “rocking it back and forth”.  This is totally, completely insufficient.  There are 3 or 4 HARD LOCKING SNAPS in place in this portion of the case.  After lifting up the back portion of the case (which is screwed tight, after you’ve removed the screws) as described in the ifixit guide, you really, really have to pry this sucker open.  The first time I did it, it took a long time.  I thought it should come apart rather naturally given the instructions, but you have to apply quite a bit more force than is indicated in the guide.  I honestly thought I was going to break it until it snapped apart, and everything was fine.

The other issue I have is ifixit’s pithy “follow these instructions in reverse order” reassembly instructions.  Seriously, that’s all they give you.  Sure, that’s sufficient to get the cables reconnected & screws back in place, but it tells you NOTHING about how to properly mount and install the keyboard.  I had to assemble/unassemble/reassemble 3 more times before I got the keyboard sitting just right (not bowing).  Also, the first time I screwed the keyboard back in place, I had forgotten to thread the backlight connector down through the tiny hole where it attaches.  Regarding the proper mounting, one issue is that there are tabs on the back/top of either side of the keyboard that must be pushed fairly far into place to prevent upward “bowing” of the keyboard (ie, keys sticking up at an angle).  It’s entirely possible to get the tabs into the proper slot, but for the keyboard to still bow up after reassembly — you’ll need to take it apart & then push the tabs further into place (mine had a bit of a “click” when they got all the way in — but I did have to force it).  The other issue is that the “tabs” (which are really sharp pointed needles of metal rather than what one might think of as a “tab”) at the top of the keyboard have to be carefully aligned and pulled into place to get the keyboard taught and satisfactorily installed.  (Unless you like bleeding, you’ll need needlenose pliers.  This is not listed as a “required material” in the guide.  Sure, I have them, but it’s a small nit about the guide itself).

One last thing you might want to consider when doing this is a can of compressed air for cleaning out the insides while you’re in there.  Mine was fairly clean, but it doesn’t hurt to blow out the dust, since excessive dust buildup can lead to static discharges and shorts.  Anyway, my keyboard is literally as good as new now.  Hopefully the extra tips here will help out someone else in a similar situation.

Update on hackintosh build

Monday, March 1st, 2010

So, 3 business days after ordering my parts on for my new computer, Newegg has begun shipping some of them.  (Note that their “policy” is 2 business days.  They didn’t even begin the credit-card verification process until after 2 days had passed.  (I know, because I called both them and American Express).  Anyway, they shipped everything except the case from New Jersey, so I’ll have a collection of useless parts sometime this week via UPS “3-day select”.  The case (an Antec Sonata Elite) is yet to ship, so I’m probably screwed on that front.  If it ships today from California, it’ll be a 50-50 crap shoot whether it arrives this week at all.  (Can you tell I’ve been through this song and dance before?)

I just hope everything works, but newegg, your service sucks so far.

Hackintosh attempt: begun

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I’ve really wanted to buy a new Mac Pro. Really. I have the money. I could afford one if I wanted. (That said, I don’t like wasting money… who does?) I appreciate Apple’s attention to design and, normally, functionality. However, Apple has completely screwed around since the Intel changeover on their “Pro” line of computers. It’s late February. Nearly one year since the release of the beleaguered i7 Mac Pros. I cannot justify spending $3850 for the same hardware I can build myself for $1800. I just can’t.

So, I’m willing to cut the cord from Apple. I’ve ordered a “hackintosh”-compatible Gigabyte X58 motherboard, i7 950 processor, and corresponding peripherals, and hopefully it’ll actually work with the Chameleon bootloader. I’ll post back here if it does. (I bought a family pack of OS X 10.5 *and* the Snow Leopard upgrade, so I’m mostly covered on the licensing front… except for the obnoxious “Apple-branding” clause of the EULA).

The objective of this project is to get as close to an unmodified, retail build of MacOS as possible. We’ll see if it happens, but frankly, I’ll live if it doesn’t work out. I’ll just use FreeBSD and Windows (for gaming), if all else fails. Apple has pretty much turned their back on “Pro” developers like me. Updating their Pro line of hardware (and pricing) once every 16-18 months, given Intel’s update cycle, is pretentious and obnoxious. Worse, Apple is obviously more concerned with the faux-mobile computing market of the “iPad” (read: iPod Touch Maximum Edition) than they are with making reliable, high-performance computers anymore. Read the horror stories with the 27″ iMac sometime — good luck convincing me that Apple gives a shit about computers anymore. Or, the fact that they took a year to fix a serious performance problem with their i7 Mac Pros. Or, that they capriciously provide nonstandard power connectors for video cards just to throw up an obnoxious obstacle against modularly upgrading (software still required anyway!) the ALLEGEDLY MODULARLY UPGRADEABLE MAC PRO!

So, to hell with Apple. I’ll try hackintoshin’ it, and I’ll see what happens. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll live. And I know, I know, Apple doesn’t give a crap about losing a sale from someone like me, despite the 3 Apple computers and 4 iPods in my household. I get it. They don’t give a shit. The feeling is mutual.

With apologies…

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Sorry about the whole election-of-Scott-Brown thing, America.  Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!  Actually, I think Kodos might’ve  been able to win, unlike Martha Coakley (who I did vote for — though not in the primary).  Mike Capuano is much more in line with my politics and a more passionate guy than Martha Coakley, which is why I chose him in the primary.

Anyway, Scott Brown is taking his horribly “old” 2005 GMC pickup truck to Washington, thanks in no small part to the voters of my town on the South Shore, where he won by a 2:1 margin.  My perspective on this, living in Massachusetts, is that this reflects mostly on the crappiness of Martha Coakley as a candidate and very little on the overall rejection of Democratic policies by Bay Staters.  Scott Brown ran a fraudulent campaign.  None of his ads mention that he is, in fact, a Republican.  Why?  Republicans and Republican policies are overwhelmingly unpopular in Massachusetts.  (Yes, they are popular with some people here — but not enough to win state-wide election).  He claimed that he supports health-care reform, but not the Democratic bill, which he vows to block.  That apparently resonated with many Obama voters.  (Despite the loss for Coakley, polls here show Obama is very popular among registered voters — it’s just that many Obama voters didn’t show up for Coakley).  Half of the Obama voters who switched to Brown said that the health-care bill doesn’t go far enough.  Inexplicably, though, they voted for a guy who says he supports health-care reform… but will now proceed to block any and all health-care reform bills.  Also, local talk radio basically went silent with the usual loony bullshit.  There was about a 2-week window prior to the election during which the hosts suddenly pretended to respect the ideas and wishes of left-leaning independent and moderate Democratic voters in Massachusetts, instead of calling them commie traitor moonbats.  Suddenly all the people in my neighborhood believe that this is a guy they can vote for — he’s not like the other Republicans!  Why did they believe that?  Because Martha Coakley didn’t press him — she went on vacation instead.  Scott Brown, who supports water-boarding as a means for interrogation, should’ve been made to answer if he thought it was torture if it was done to his daughters, who he paraded around throughout the campaign.  Scott Brown, who voted to allow hospitals the ability to deny emergency contraception to patients after they’d been raped, should have been made to answer how he would’ve responded if a hospital followed his own proposed legislation had one of his own daughters been raped and gone to such a hospital.  Martha Coakley did not hold his feet to the fire, and instead a content-free personality contest decided who would win.  Yes, she put out “attack ads” (which he whined about and said he would “consider suing over” — and didn’t, because they’re entirely true), but that is not the same as personally confronting him and making the point to him in a personal way that voters relate to.

Oh, and Brown voters, let me just remind you — the sun rises in the East, water is wet, and you should brush your teeth twice a day.  I mention this only because you people seem to have the fucking shortest goddamn memory of anyone on the planet! I’m sure that a Republican will do an awesome job representing the economic interests of Massachusetts.  After all, their track record is great.  😐

Whole Foods Christmas Dinner Review

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

My wife & I ordered Christmas Dinner from Whole Foods again this year.  We’ve ordered Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners there before and have been impressed.  It’s a decent value for what you get, and the food is usually quite good.  This year, $79.99 bought me some green beans with almonds, bread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and 4 to 6 pounds in turkey.  This is designed to feed 4 people.  The mushroom gravy (“vegan”) is really delicious, so I like to substitute that out for the default turkey gravy.  Unfortunately, my Whole Foods (in Hingham, MA) seems to be slipping in its execution for this.  Things started off badly this year when I went to pick up my food (on Christmas Eve), and they were unable to provide me any kind of meaningful instructions for reheating my turkey.  I’ve gotten this before, so I thought my meal would be the same, but the turkey they provided was not the prepped, bagged turkey — it was catered turkey in a roasting pan.  Both are pre-cooked, but the preparation was different, and this one lacked the turkey farm’s bag that had instructions printed on it.  So, they gave me the Whole Foods instructions — which were blatantly incorrect.  After 3 calls to the deli to try to get instructions, the lady working there decided that I should preheat my oven to 325 and heat my turkey for 20 to 30 minutes.  For 4 to 6 pounds of meat.  Yeah, no.  Okay, I’m from Texas, and I know a bit about both cooking and heating meat, and that isn’t even close.  I wanted the instructions from them about how to prepare it with seasoning & not dry it out, but they were hopeless.  I kept insisting it was wrong, and she was oblivious, so I just paid & left.  (Preheating to 350, putting the bird on a roasting rack, covering with foil, and putting 2 cups of chicken broth in the bottom of the pan while heating for 2 hours did the trick — came out moist & delicious).

On the day of heating (Christmas), I discovered several new problems with my meal.  First, the amount of potatoes was both skimpy and seemingly wrong.  I bought a 4-person meal for Thanksgiving from Whole Foods, and they gave me at least twice as many potatoes.  This was confirmed when I looked at the portion size — 8oz — and noted the package size:  24oz.  That’s right, they gave me 3 servings of potatoes for 4 people.  Next, I discovered the sell-by date for my cranberries:  November 30th.  Yes, they really did give me cranberries that were 4 weeks past their sell-by date.  I quickly double-checked the rest of the dates to make sure they were ok, but I had to throw out the cranberries.  Maybe they froze them.  Maybe they didn’t — I have no way of knowing, and that’s the point.  Overall, the food was good (especially the pecan pie I bought at Whole Foods to add to it) and easy to prepare, but I won’t buy another meal from them after this disaster.  My parents ran out of potatoes during the meal, and the bad service at the store just isn’t worth it.  Honeybaked Ham Company does pre-made holiday meals as well, so I’ll give them a shot next time.

Avatar in Depth

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Blue cat people — in SPACE! — with some vaguely technological angle, and a sprinkle of superficial political allegory regarding colonialism — presented in THREE DEEEEEEEEEE!

Still.  Do.  Not.  Care.

People who claim that James Cameron can do no wrong since, after all, he made freaking TERMINATOR TWO! (word, that was awesome) sound just like everyone before George Lucas shat out Jar Jar Binks.  And who never saw Howard the Duck.  And who don’t realize who wrote “Rambo:  First Blood Part Two” (hint, it’s James Cameron).


Monday, December 14th, 2009

Blue cat-people — in SPACE!


The unfriendly skies

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

I’ve long hated Southwest Airlines.  To me, their benefits begin & end with “cheap”.  And, IMO, you get what you pay for.  But, I very much value customer service, and Southwest’s has long been questionable at best.  I don’t appreciate their “quirky” flight attendants who think it’s appropriate to make “humorous” comments through safety announcements.  Their employees project an image of non-professionalism.  (I don’t want a flight attendant to be my buddy or to hear him or her try out their tired stand-up routine — I want them to be a competent safety officer at 30,000 feet who also can politely serve drinks when safe).  I get that Southwest is a “self serve” airline, but they’re also callous assholes from time to time.  (The veneer of “buddy” wears off when you actually need someone to answer a nontrivial question or actually help in a competent and efficient manner).

This is especially true with regard to their policies regarding parents and children.  I get that first-come/first-served seating is their policy, but this is problematic when you match it with their “family boarding is after the first group of 60” policy.  Good luck seating a family together after 60 people have already gotten on the plane.  If people were willing to change seats (normally I don’t favor this, but on Southwest with their idiotic family policies, it’s necessary), that wouldn’t actually be a problem.  But, that gets to my point:  people are self-righteous, selfish assholes, especially when it comes to flying, and especially when it comes to parenting.  Mix the two, and it’s like the perfect storm of assholery and hostility.

Recently, Southwest tossed a lady & her 2 year old son off a plane when the child was basically screaming “GO PLANE GO!” during safety announcements.  First of all, this is the first I’ve ever heard of Southwest actually taking these announcements so seriously.  And if the mother really wasn’t even trying to quiet her son during announcements, then this might actually be warranted.  Maybe that happened — it’s not clear from the news.  But having traveled with an infant (and later, when he’s grown into a toddler), I kind of doubt that’s what happened.  More likely, the child was being difficult, and the other passengers got involved.  Here’s a note to all you jackass passengers out there who can’t tolerate an annoying child on your flight:  we see your eye-rolls, we notice when you cut in front of us, we hear your “clever” self-righteous comments to other passengers about how we should stay at home, and we definitely notice when you talk to a flight attendant, and the flight attendant turns to talk to us.  I’ve been there, trying my damndest to calm my son.  I get that flight attendants don’t want to hear a noisy child during a flight, and I’m willing to bet that they basically used the security-announcement issue as a pretense to boot the child & his mother.  After flying cross-country with a child for numerous reasons (mostly to facilitate my wife being able to attend meetings with her Doctoral committee, when our son was still very young), I’ve seen a lot of this.  I’m also an experienced flyer — I had over 32,000 miles flying in 2008.  So, I know the ins & outs involved.  (Thankfully only one flight was on Southwest).  So to all of you jackass people who have 2 cents of commentary for us parents, looking down your noses at us, I have a few responses to the many criticisms I’ve endured from you.

Q) I expect to fly in absolute tranquility and peace.  Can’t you control your child?

A) I’m trying.  Really, I am.  But children are not full-grown adults.  It’s unreasonable to think that they process information (or consequences) the same way that adults do (or should).  But more to the point, I have a question for you:  Who the fuck do you think you are?  Yes, really.  I think this entire situation could be alleviated if you would just mind your own fucking business.  If my son is climbing on your or kicking you, you may have a point.  But noise-wise, kids are noisy.  They just are.  And short of sedating him, which I’m not going to do so that you can enjoy your fucking iPod or newspaper, he might have a bad day.  He might be teething and unconsolable.  But regardless, you should just mind your own fucking business and leave me and my family alone.

Q) If you can’t keep your kids quiet, can’t you just stay at home?

A) Who the fuck do you think you are?  In short, no, I usually can’t.  If you think this whole traveling-with-an-infant/toddler thing is something I enjoy, you’re batshit insane.  Yes, I’d avoid it whenever I could.  But the truth is, you wouldn’t propose that if you actually thought any of this through or had basic non-sociopathic capabilities to understand other humans’ experiences and points of view.  Instead, you are completely consumed with yourself, to the point that you actually have the balls to make demands on my parenting method to suit your superficial bullshit needs.  I get that you might be going to be an important sales meeting, and you need to concentrate.  Guess what?  I might be going to something important, too!  You also might be going to bang your mistress, but that doesn’t give me the right to question your motives or demand that you make concessions to me because I think your flight is “less important”.  And if flying when there are fewer kids onboard is so important, I strongly suggest you buy a ticket during business-hours routes.  These are on weekdays during business hours.  Kids fly with their parents on weekends, typically.  I know.  I fly a lot.  But really, you should be able to fly whenever you want — just like my family and I can..

Q) Don’t you think you’re harming/abusing/hurting your child by forcing them on a flight?  Obviously they’re unhappy!

A) Fuck you.  This is obviously a passive-aggressive way of projecting your unhappiness with the presence of inconvenient, annoyed children on “your” flight (also known as my flight, also known as our flight).  If I thought this was actually harmful, I wouldn’t be doing it myself.  It’s not harmful — it’s inconvenient.  And inconvenience is not “abuse”, to you, or to my child, despite your eye-rolls and frantic pleas to the flight attendant.  Yet again, let me offer this helpful advice:  mind your own fucking business.

Q) Why won’t you just discipline your child?  That will make him stop!

A) Clearly you are not a parent of a toddler.  I can distract/feed/soothe/scold my son, and it’ll usually work.  But very young (less-than-2) year old kids simply cannot process personal consequences.  They don’t even understand their OWN personhood until they’re 2, and even then, they only understand THEMSELVES (which does offer some limited opportunities for disciplining).  Even if you were a parent, though, I reserve the right to ignore any and all “advice” offered by total strangers who are attempting to manipulate me so that they can get maximum enjoyment out of a flight that my family and I are equally entitled to.  I suggest you ignore me, as well, and we’ll all get along better.  If, by the way, you’re suggesting that I spank my son, I’ll agree to this as soon as I also get the right to punch the various fucking assholes who make my flight less enjoyable, including the jerks who board out-of-turn, who violate carryon rules with impunity, or who rise to the level of the mild annoyance of my son (including talking on the phone).  No?  I’m not allowed to do that?  Then what the fuck makes you feel justified in suggesting that I should do that to my child?

Q) Parents like you who worship your children are what’s wrong with America today!  Don’t you see how you’re spoiling your child?

A) I don’t worship my kid.  I love him and treat him in the manner I think is best.  That’s a personal family decision for me and my family, and despite the fact that we’re crammed into a metal tube at 30,000 feet, you need to butt the fuck out.  I don’t give a shit about your various shortcomings as person, including your compulsive need to interject yourself into my personal affairs.  I’m doing my best to ignore them and you.  That’s all I’m asking for from you.