590 - Sorry for being away so long

It’s funny how the yearly trip to Seattle Mind Camp gets my butt in gear to at least re-add to my RTM tasks all the stuff I forgo most of the year.

Now that I have this fancy iPhone wordpress app, I can start back into blogging again.

Look for more personal posts here and more technical posts over at Lockergnome in my “Tech Time” nexus.

469 - How Many Seattle City Workers Does it Take to Watch Cement Dry?

So I work a block or two from the latest water main break in Seattle.  It was a pretty bad break of a 24″ main.  So bad it created a huge sinkhole that enveloped two cars and shut a drawbridge for the better part of two days.

Here’s a picture that came out in the Seattle Times of the workers making sure the latest fix of reinforcing the girders with cement to ensure the bridge won’t collapse to reopen it to traffic.

Notice that one of these guys is actually working.  It’s almost like a where’s Waldo picture…

Amazed Wrokers

386 - How D2, a cell phone, and the Internet can keep you safe

I left work in Seattle at 5:30PM last night knowing there was a very bad storm (some might call it a blizzard) coming from the north towards the city. I decided to stay off the freeways where there would be no sign of lane markings and no real escape route should thins get ugly, which I assumed they would.

Things were low but decent as a slow but steady amount of snow continued to fall. Then, I got to the end of SR509 South and stopped. For a long time. I waited. Cars were perched along the top of the curving offramp afraid to proceed for fear of sliding into the guardrail like the four cars crashed into it ahead of us. Rightfully so I suppose as they slid through the ramp themsleves.

I do have a CR-V with “all wheel drive”, but I like to think that AWD alone is not what kept me from sliding too much too far, because I did slide a few times. What helped me was slow and steady application of gas and a healthy dose of D1 and D2.

Those are the low gears in an automatic, and the first ones to get hit in a manual. I have an automatic and stayd under D3 for the rest of the trip home. They allow an amazing amount of traction and are essential for situatins like this. If you’re reading this, tell your friends and family to use them. tell them to tell their friends and family. I want to get home a bit faster and a lot safer next time.

I finally get through the ramp and off after swerving the serpentine of stopped cars that just will not move. I don’t know if they were paralyzed with fear or what, but they coul dmove if they wanted, but they did not. I mean, if I can serpentine through 5 “stalled” cars on ice, surely they could have at least followed one by one in a single file line…?

It’s now 8:00PM and I’m hungry, tired, and starting to get a bit cranky. I hit a cruising speed of 20 MPH and head down Internatioanl Blvd South through Tukwila and past Seatac airport. I think things are going good, but know in my heart that they’ll go to hell really quick.

You see, we live in Maple Valley. Emphasis on the word valley there. That means the most direct rout e is through Kent and my choice of one of three hills. Two are massive and entirely unsafe, so I choose the third ahead of time. I hit Kent at 8:30 PM. It took me an hour to get to Kent Station from 516 via Meeker street. Once I was there it was almost over. I came inches away from pulling into a parking garage and sleeping in the car. Only problem was I left the car over night once before (without me and in good weather) and got a ticket for leaving it over 24 hours. I was told I’d get towed if I did it again. Bummer…

Lightning is lighting the sky and the thunder cracks are getting closer to the strikes. The storm is getting closer with every lightning strike.

It’s now 9:30 and traffic is stopped and people are walking around the streets trying to figure out what to do. Those people walking around are the drivers of the cars that are stopped and empty. Yes empty. A woman yells at me for not backing up into a car so she can turn right from the left lane. It sparked a thought though. I turned left into Kent Station myself.

I had no idea how to get where I wanted to be from where I was, so I called my wife on the cell phone (one of 10 calls it later turns out). The stopped cars were going east, trying to go up the hills. I would go south to a freeway and try to do an end run around Kent thhrough Auburn.

It worked. Traffic on cross streets did not exist. I was able to get directed over the phone via my wife’s google maps query to Central Ave which got me to 277th S which got me to 167 South. That highway was molasses, but it was moving. I finally went the two exits it took to get to my exit and pulled onto 18 E at about 10:00 PM.

Now you’ll never believe the site I saw. An open road with no traffic on it at all. AND it was clear of snow. The closer I got to home, the lighter the snow was. I was able to go the rest of the way home without any stoppages, trouble, or trauma.

End to end it took about 5 hours to get home. I slid very little thanks to actually using my low gears. The thing that frightens me most is the other drivers that just have zero knowledge about how to drive in the snow. These are the folks that brake for rain. Throw some snow at them and look out! These people were stopped in the road, afraid to proceed as things got worse. I almost had to sleep outside because of them.

This was the string of the most horriffic traffic sites I have ever seen, and I grew up where a storm meant two feet of snow. I checked the traffic cams at MIDNIGHT last night to see the snow, and I-5 S was STILL bumper to bumper.

There’s no way I can fathom it being any stretch of safe to drive to Seattle from my house for the next few days while this winds its way out of the area. I have kids that need a dad.

Like I’ve always told my wife; (who grew up back in the NE as well) it’s not us and our ability that scares me in storms, it’s all the idiots that don’t know how to drive that scare me. 4WD helps you, but it won’t help them…

375 - All Star == 5 Stars

All Star == 5 Stars

Review of: All Star Auto Glass, Glass Auto, Float, Plate, Window & Doors
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

Jamie Moyer may not be a “true” all-star anymore, but his company is. I needed a full front windshield replacement and called around for quotes. I saved them for last thinking there was no way they’d be lowest price.

They WERE the lowest price. Lower than the discount with Safelite my insurance company garnered me. They had the friendliest phone staff, they give out 12 free car washes, AND money goes to charity!!

The on-site mobile worker was professional, fast, and knowledgeable. He answered all my obscure questions, allowed me to watch, and never complained. He did a quick job and did it more than well.

Between the speed, the cost, the charity, and the car washes, there is no reason to go anywhere else. Heck, there’s really no need to go anywhere, they come to you!!

370 - Magic Indeed.

Magic Indeed.

Review of: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Bed & Bath
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I’m quite a bit skeptical of anything that calls itself magical or has magic in its name (yeah, ha ha huh?)

Is what it does really magical? Is there an arcane force behind the product that pushes it past the level of mundane?

In the case of the Mr Clean Magic eraser the answer is – yes. This darn thing gets almost ANYTHING off of walls. I’m actually yet to find a substance that this has not been able to remove completely from walls, doors, counters, chairs, tables, and more. If you have a mark, this will get rid of it. Markers, crayons, pens, even sharpies once (bah on their permanence!)

If you have kids, you need this, and you know why. Go get a pack right now.

369 - Program This – Honeywell RLV430 Thermostat

Program This – Honeywell RLV430 Thermostat

Review of: Honeywell RLV430 5-2 Day Programmable Baseboard Heat Thermostat, Tools & Hardware
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

Last fall we installed programmable thermostats on four out of the five baseboard heaters our house has. If you want programmable thermostats for baseboard heating, your options are pretty much limited – to this one specific model. There are no others – at least not at retail locations of Lowes or Home Depot.

No matter, these work like champs. We don’t overuse the custom timing methods, but rather mainly use the preset time intervals for bedroom use (except the basement which gets an even stricter schedule.) You can do manual override until the end of a cycle to raise the heat a touch if you find yourself suddenly a bit cold.

No longer do you have to worry about turning the thermostat back up before bed and back down in the morning. These bad boys have shave about $20 a bill off of our heating costs in the fall and winter months (half the year here…) They will have paid for themselves at the end of this winter season.

368 - AOTW – AppZapper!

AOTW – AppZapper!

Review of: App Zapper, Software
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

It’s a shame that Apple doesn’t include a better uninstall method for programs in their OS. But, worry not, because someone has come up with the answer – AppZapper.

You merely drag any part of the application onto AppZapper’s launchpad, and it will bring up a list of the associated files it found for that application. You can check and uncheck the different files and automatically delete the whole thing all at once.

It even has Genie mode to find all the applications you might not even realize you had installed and gives you the option to rid yourself of them as well!

It is possible for a seasoned veteran to do this on their own, but this is a must buy for the newbie. Heck, I’m a seasoned veteran, and I even bought it. I’d rather use this and save my time. I love it so much, I bought a special friends and family pack they had offered and gifted a couple licenses out to good friends to use on me.

If you use a Mac, do yourself a favor and keep it clean. Get AppZapper to help you ( http://appzapper.com/ ).

367 - Targus Helps You Cool Down.

Targus Helps You Cool Down.

Review of: Targus PA239U Targus Traveler CoolPad, PCs & Consumer Electronics
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I only buy laptops for a reason. I like to have all of information with me at all times, and I like to be able to compute in more locations that just my grungy desk. I need changes of pace. I want to blog from the couch, surf for deals from the restroom, check email and recipes while cooking. OK, so maybe I need to break from technology for a while… :)

A while back there was a deal where I was able to get some laptop cooling pads on sale. I got them for a song. I’m glad, but after having used it I would pay full price knowing what I know now.

It’s the Targus Traveler Coolpad. It’s a hard black plastic base that raises the laptop at an angle to give it a more ergonomic feel, along with better airflow. It also has the effect of being able to swivel the laptop since it is essentially two connected pieces.

This lazy susan effect is great for when the wife and I are tapping out at a coffee shop and want to show each other something quickly. Just a spin of the machine and we’re looking at each others screens.

366 - Make a Wave of Music with Tangerine

Make a Wave of Music with Tangerine

Review of: Tangerine, Software
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

I have recently gotten into a walking program that is slowly going to evolve into a jogging and eventually running program. My big issues are motivation and tracking.

The Nike+ Sport Kit gives me tracking, and music gives me my motivation. The unfortunate thing is that I’m bad at making playlists for working out. Nike and itunes have collaborated to create some custom playlists that create wave like shapes based upon the order and intensity of the music in the playlist. This is great for making stair stepped beat shapes for interval training, or a gentle wave for a good solid run.

I don’t want to pay too much, I have a LOT of music, and besides, they only offer a very few of these playlists. So, what’s a guy to do?

Download Tangerine, a new Mac Shareware application that is currently in beta. It goes through your entire iTunes library, figures out the BPM (beats per minute) of each track and stores this information in your tracks for future use. It will then custom create playlists for you based on this information so that you can have playlists that slowly build up to a high beat, stay there, and then slowly work their way back down.

It is absolutely incredible. You tell it how long a playlist, and a couple other parameters and it does the legwork.

This program is well worth the install, and if it fixes the issues t has is shaping up to be a worthy purchase. Get it from Potion Factory’s Website ( http://www.potionfactory.com/ ).

365 - Service Pack What?

Service Pack What?

Review of: Apple PowerBook G4 – PPC G4 1.5 GHz – RAM : 512 MB – HD : 60 GB – CD-RW / DVD – 802.11b/g, Bluetooth – MacOS X 10.4 – 12.1″ TFT 1024 x 768 ( XGA ), PCs & Consumer Electronics
By: Myk O. on Judy’s Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy’s Book.

Did you know that a year and a half ago I switched sides? Yup, I gave up using my old home Compaq Windows PC and traded it in for a workhorse of a Mac.

Ever since, I have had no issues with viruses, malware, spyware, or OS updates. I bought OS X Tiger and got “Windows Vista” for free. Everything that Windows isn’t, the Mac is. Sleek, powerful, advanced, intuitive, beautiful, fun.

Apple has integrated their software, hardware, web services, and accessories to an amazing degree. itunes and my iPod cruise together in harmony. iPhoto and my Canon cameras do the same. I can see my wife’s music and photos over our wifi network.

This little baby does it all and does it all so well. I really have no complaints at all. It’s funny, I work at a company that creates Windows software, but I feel more at home with a Mac. What’s that tell you about the state of Microsoft’s OS???

And in January when Vista comes out? Well, I’ll already be running the next OS X – Leopard. I’ll see then what it will take MS 3 years to give back to its customers. What OS will you be running?

Powered by Wordpress and based on the Subnixus theme as modified by Blue Needle