Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Symantec Security Updates -- find out if it's a hoax BEFORE you pass on virus warnings to me...PLEASE?!? As you were....

Sunday, January 28, 2001

Two second movie reviews --
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- What a phenomenal film. I'm not normally a martial arts film fan, but this movie was fabulous. The fight scenes were brilliantly coreographed and fanciful. The characters have the agility and ability to ~~fly~~. Gorgeous scenes. It's a strong love story filled with honor, duty and respect and strong feminist overtones. The flick has subtitles, but don't let that stop you from seeing it. I'm going to wager on this being an Academy Award nominee for best picture. I'd bet about 50/50 that this will win too. Do not miss this one. Oh, and if you see it, let me know what you thought about the fight scene in the bamboo trees. Amazing! A
  • The Gift -- Psychic premonitions, murder suspect twists and some haunting images make this normally categorized as a "horror" movie more of a mystery for me. I think I changed my guess as to who I thought the murderer was about 5 times. Obviously it was the skill of the director/plot that made me second guess my suspicions. There's some dark reality in this movie...child molestation, infidelity and murder. Definitely not a kids movie! I have nothing to complain about with this one. It took me in and kept me interested without fail. A-
  • Thirteen Days -- Cuban missle crisis. I really thought all of the characterizations in this movie were fantastic. The Kennedy's looked and acted like the Kennedy's. My major complaint was the star...Kevin Costner. His accent just didn't seem *right*. I just don't think he's a strong enough actor to carry off an accent *and* act. The film took a hard look at the politics of war decisions and really made me hate politicians and army generals even more than I do now. :-) I suspect it was fairly *real*, but obviously we'll never know the full truth. We're only told what they want us to know. In any event, the movie told a great story..and did so quite well. B+
  • Oh, Brother Where Art Thou -- Loved this film. It's a rare Coen Brothers film that I don't like. They're always a bit nutty yet warm and fuzzy, and ugly at the same time and funny without a doubt. I adore the films even more when I hear the "catchy tune" that each film has too. The main song, "I am a man of constant sorrow," from this one will surely make ya hum or sing out loud...especially when George Clooney is singing it near the end of the film. Which reminds me...I have to make a trip to amazon.com to buy the soundtrack. A
  • Family Man-- I love Nicholas Cage. He was a real treat in this film. I don't have a strong opinion about this movie. I liked it, but it wasn't a fabulous movie...just enjoyable. B

Thursday, January 25, 2001

Funeral home director discovers woman in body bag was still alive. Tell me this isn't a nightmare idea for any one of you. Oh, take it one step further...burried alive. Yeah, that would suck even more.

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

I've got a few movies that I don't have time to review yet. Soon! Here's the list of movies I've seen recently: "The Gift", "Thirteen Days" and "Oh, Brother Where Art Thou" and "Family Man". No rotten tomatoes in the bunch, you're safe seeing any of 'em. Check back for my reviews a bit later.
The Tax Man Commeth. It's that time of year again. I get my W-2 from my employer and I figure out how much tax I've paid during the previous twelve months. This year including social security and all that jazz, I've paid in nearly 20,000. That's dollars in case you were wondering. No matter how you slice that, it's a boat load of cash. I realize that there are a lot of people who make much more and make much less and even far more people who have little tax deductions. I may whine a bit, but I know, for the most part, my tax dollars are paying for worthy things...roads, schools, child support, financial aid, national defense, etc, etc. What bothers me is that I know because I'm single, have no dependents, have no deductions whatsoever that I'm paying far more than the typical person making what I make. OH! and I can no longer use the 1040 EZ form because my income exceeds the form's limit. Why? Why? Because they expect that I have a load of deductions to apply to the amount of tax that I pay, that's why. *sniff* *pout* *sniff* The real kicker in the end, however, is that all this whining and I *still* owe another couple of hundred to the feds.
I realize I haven't gone into the horror story about my calls to Qwest when my DSL line went down this weekend. Here are my calls in brief form:

Call #1. "Hi, my DSL isn't connecting and hasn't since yesterday afternoon. I'm not getting an IP address. I've tried running winipcfg, but I can't connect the DHCP server." Yeah, I kinda know what I'm doing. To which the help person says, "Looks like you're locked up in training mode on your port. I know this is going to sound like a line, but turn off your modem for three hours. That should clear ya up." I say something to the effect of "ooookkkkkay...yeah, that should do it...uhhuuuuh." It was early in the morning, and I needed more sleep anyway, sooooo...ZZZZZZZZZz.

Call #2. About four hours later, I call Qwest again. This help guy tells me that the Minneapolis office was making a change to the servers from bridging to PPP and that they made some sort of error and it might take until tonight or tomorrow morning to get it fixed. Great. I ask why the guy earlier didn't tell me that. He said, "I dunno.". He then said, "Try your line when you get home from school tomorrow. It should fer sure be ready by then." Silence. Silence. I think he realized that I probably don't attend school. I didn't want to embarass him further...well, much. He came back with a, "Well, you know, whenever you get home." Of course I'm upset because yahoo number one didn't tell me the line was down because of a change they made and secondly because if it was an upgrade or change, what kind of decent techie doesn't have a "roll back" plan just in case of a boo-boo like this?!? Lame techies, lame!

Call #3. Ashley is helping me this time. I'm calling at 11:30 at night. I just was curious to see if the line was still down. Ashley informs me that the line has been up since about 4pm. Great. I've tried many times to see if I could connect since that time. I tell her this and then I have to re-tell my entire story about the past two calls. Even with case numbers and call numbers given to them, they love to hear customers whine, apparently. She looks at the line through her magic ball and tells me, "Yup, it's still locked in training mode. You should probably unplug the Cisco modem *AND* your computer and keep them off OVERNIGHT. You should be able to connect after that time."
"Ashley, I know a fair amount about networking, could you please explain to me what is locked and how turning off my machine *AND* my modem will help alleviate this problem."
"You're locked in training mode...at the port."
I said, "How does turning off my machine and my modem help to clear your port? Can't you run a flush at your end?"
"Well, we can put a call into service, but that can take two to four days."
"Well, let's start that request, shall we?" I pleaded.
She says, "Let's turn off your computer *AND* modem overnight and then see if it works first."
I said, "Ashley, my DSL has been off for over 30 hours...if I wait overnight and then through my work day tomorrow to wait to check it again, we're adding another 20 hours onto that 2-4 days. How about if we start the ball rolling on your end. I'll even turn off my computer overnight on my end even though I know that's not going to do anything other than keep me from calling you back for the next 10 hours."
I added, quite frustrated at this point, "Do you think my line going down has anything to do with the changes being made at the Minneapolis office?"
She quickly says, "Oh, no...that must just be a coincidence."
"Uhhuh. Ok, well, let's start the ball rolling on that request." So, we go through the form that she needs to fill out in order to get the service technicians moving. She silently fills out most of it until she asks, "When is your due date?"
I didn't think I was pregnant. Maybe Ashley is psychic? "Pardon??"
"Your due date...oh, I mean when did you have DSL installed?"
"About two and a half years ago. I don't know specifically."
"Ok. Probably don't need that anyway." "Yeah, probably not."
After asking her a few more times to explain the locking thing, the call ends with Ashley.

As a somewhat technically minded individual, the previous three calls kept humming in the back of my head. Little details that the help desk people drop finally start to make a little bit of sense. During call #2, the guy mentions that they switched from bridging to PPP. During call #3 Ashley mentions that I'm locked in training mode. Hmmm...I quickly open up Hyperterminal to see if I can talk to the cisco modem as I had to do when I set it up. Hyperterm has a built in "memory" feature that allows you to see what was typed in during the last communication session. Sure enough "Bridging Enabled" was in the memory's text. Ahah!

Call #4 Robert. Robert seemed to know what he was doing. He actually read through the call tracking and said that my account was saying "bridging all over the place." YAY! He asked if Ashley had walked me through configuring the modem again. "No!", I said. He said that in her notes she said that she did just that. Bad Ashley! Anyway, he asks if I've got he commucation cable for the modem. "Not handy, but I'll go get it and call back."

Call #5 Robert again, Yay! He walked me through configuring my modem to PPP. Easy squeezy up until the point we get to the password for my account. Password?! I never log in to my DSL nor do I use my Qwest mail box. He give me a new password. Yay! PPP configured. He tells me that now the PPP is enabled, I should have no problem. It will just take about half an hour for the password to propegate throughout their system. thank Robert profusely and wait about an hour. Didn't want to push the half hour piece. It's about 12:45 now. At 1:45 am, I'll give it another whirl.

Call #6. Lyle. For some reason I pictured his name initially as Laisle. Maybe I'm psychic? Nah. 1:45 am. Help! I explain to Lyle all of the problems up until this point. He then asks me if Robert ran the programs at his end that would convert me to PPP. "I have no idea," I say. "Well, it looks like he hasn't run the programs. Hang on a minute." *hang* *hang* Lyle comes back a few minutes later and says, "Well, I've got good news and bad news. Good news is that I've successfully run the PPP update programs. Your account is ready to go. The bad news is this: It's about two in the morning, the servers are getting backed up and some are resetting. My guess is that it will take about two hours for the change to take effect globally." "Fine, I need to sleep anyway. Thanks for your help."

ZZZZZzzzZZZZZZ ZZZZZ I try the computer in the morning. Yahoo would pop up as it usually does when it detects a connection, but it couldn't connect....

Call #7 It must have been early for this guy 'cuz he couldn't get my phone number punched in correctly. I reiterated it about 4 times. "700 Selby?" "No, that's not my address. My phone number is...." "Uh, Ma'am, what is your secret word. It's usually your mother's maiden name or birthplace or.." "Secret word? I have no idea. I signed up for DSL nearly three years ago. Look, I called several times yesterday. Do you want call numbers!?"
"I don't see any calls from yesterday. Is your phone number XXXXXXX?"
"Oh, what is your number?"
So, he finally finds my information. He puts me on hold for about 15 minutes. During this time, I rebooted my computer several times...and voila! a connection. YAY! He comes back and I tell him it's working now.

So, that's my horror story in brief. Good thing I didn't write up the long one, eh? :-)

Monday, January 22, 2001

I was without an internet connection the majority of the week. The horror of it all! I could go into the actual horror of having to deal with technical support about the DSL, but I'll save that for later tonight.
Glowing Monkeys -- I kind of like the idea. I've always had a fondness for things that glowed in the dark. I'm thinking that someday I'd like to have children that glowed in the dark. Is that so wrong? Think of it...they couldn't hide in dark corner during a game of hide & go seek, so I'd always win. ;-)

Monday, January 15, 2001

In honor of today's holiday, I present -- Martin Luther King Day -- My flash presentation The photos are super compressed so they don't look as sharp as they do on my intranet version. Even so, the presentation is about 300K. Hold on to your hats, it's going to be a slow download. Oh, and I don't yet know how to put in a "please wait -- LOADING" so you'll have to see it the first time at a choppy rate. Hey, I'm new to Flash...gimme a break! :-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

I've got a twin in California! Take a peek.

Monday, January 08, 2001

I'm way behind in my two second movie reviews. Let's see if I can remember all of 'em. It's been a busy holiday movie season, don'tcha know?
  • What Women Want -- I wasn't expecting a lot from this movie. The trailers made it look cute, and it was. Mel Gibson was perfectly cast in this light hearted flick. Not a lot of substance, but who needs substance all the time? Sometimes a fluffy movie is great on a Sunday afternoon. B
  • Cast Away -- Certainly the kudos for this film will have to go to Tom Hanks. He really does carry the film. Of course without him, the time on the island would be just a ball named Wilson. The floating around in the ocean sequence near the beginning of the film was fabulous in making one feel the vastness of the ocean. There was a keen predictability to the film where you *knew* that items were being highlighted so that they had more meaning at a later point in the film. This object foreshadowing was a wee bit too heavily done, but I still liked it. The ending is pretty anti-climactic and probably far more realistically portrayed than the typical survivor type movies. This one is definitely worth seeing despite my minor whines. A-
  • Miss Congeniality-- Another one of the "cute" holiday season movies. Not a lot of surprises in this one...the acting was mediocre, the script was mediocre, but the overall piece was pleasant. B-
  • Finding Forrester -- This is a solidly good movie. The script was interesting, the acting was good (excellent in the case of the guy who plays the lead teen!) and the pace was decent. Some may find the pace of the film a bit slow, but for me it was a gentle unraveling of the multi-level plot tones -- generations, cultures, interests, and lifestyles all clash at some point in this film. A-
  • Traffic -- Wow. Great movie. It was stressful, dark, thought provoking and depressing...yet enjoyable. My one complaint would be about the use of colored filters to let us know which location was being shown...blue filter in Ohio, yellow in Mexico, etc. Yeah, we got it already. It was a tad bit annoying after a while. One of the actors, Benicio Del Toro always causes me to pause. I look at him and say "handsome...no...ugly...no...sexy...no...hideous". He's got such an interesting face...an odd mix of Brad Pitt and John Wayne and somebody else I can't put my finger on. Anyway, the film itself is excellent...thought provoking, compelling, sad and gritty. A
  • Chocolat -- Everybody loves chocolate, well, that is unless you're in a conservative French village during the lent season. Well, of course a wandering chocolatier played by Juliette Binoche happens to set up a chocolate shop in this little village. Chocolate is the devil's candy, don'tcha know? I'm sure you can figure out that some of the townspeople want her out and others find that she and her chocolate are an asset to the community. There's more to the story, but I'll let ya figure that out on your own. The film is gorgeous. That is thanks in part to Juliette Binoche...quite possibly one of the most alluring, timeless actresses around. Yeah, I want to be her when I grow up. Until then, I want her wardrobe. If you take a peek at the Chocolat movie site, and you head toward "The Process" you'll see the designs that Ms. Binoche wore including the captivating portrait collar red dress. It looks much prettier in the film than in the drawing...believe me. Chocolat is definitely a chick flick, but it's so wonderfully crafted that I'd bet most men would enjoy it too. No complaints except that Johnny Depp, a gorgeous creature in his own right, sports a poorly shaved chin which ruins his otherwise *hubba-hubba* face. A-

Sunday, January 07, 2001

Do ya ever have something funny happen to you that is really hard to explain with words, but you think that making a diagram or even better, a movie of it would make it as funny for the recipient of the story as it was for you? Well, I had something funny happen the other day. I was at the movie theater parking lot with Peter. We had just pulled into a spot next to a parking spot that was partially occluded by a numbskull who doesn't know how to park straight. Along comes a car and pulls into the spot that's smaller than average. He's got like 6 people in the car with him and it looked as if someone said "Hey, man, we're not going to be able to get out of the car in this spot," or something like that. The guy pulls out of the spot directly behind me and well, he has a bit of difficulty maneuvering his vehicle. It's as if he's not sure which way to turn in order to get to the other spot and he's amazed that he's all of a sudden gotten himself into a wee bit of a tight spot. I know, it doesn't sound funny, but trust me, it was. Here's a Flash animation that I made of the event. Maybe this will help you see the humor in it. :-) You'll need Flash 4 or higher in order to view it. If you don't have Flash installed, you can download the free viewer here.

Saturday, January 06, 2001

Weight loss surgery, it's not for everyone. It can be seriously dangerous. I've posted over at Dimensions an alternative for the insurance companies to consider when getting requests for weight loss surgery approvals. This plan is safe *and* provides two individuals with what they need. ;-)
I've got blooming paperwhites in my house. One word of warning...they smell. Just say no. It's a cross between kitty pee and plastic. Yum!

Friday, January 05, 2001

Ok...ok, I can't post. Waaaaaaaaaa. Here's another attempt: I have news! I purchased the domain name "holidayhooligans.com" in an attempt to make a bigger push towards more people participating this coming year. Nothing is there except a "soon to be hosted" type message. I'll post again about this when there is actual content.
I've been having "Blog" trouble. Trouble posting AND trouble getting my ass in gear to post here. Sorry. I have, however, had the chance to post a rant in a Photo Selection of the Week supplement . It's a rant about "headless nude" photos online. Check it out!