Category Archives: Random

Dear ESPN: You’re Annoying Me Again

As if the auto-playing video on wasn’t bad enough, they’re going crazy with their ads now. I just went to go check the MLB scores and before I can get to the page, this big hover window with an ad for Madden ’10 comes up. Ok, not that big a deal. There’s a button with an X on it to skip the ad. I click it. I click it again. I click it a third time. Nothing. So I’m forced to watch this damn ad for a video game that I have no interest in. If that wasn’t bad enough, another ad pops up over the next article I go to read. Now, I understand that they need to make money. No problem. But if you’re going to allow people to skip ads, make sure it works. Some of us just want to use your site and enjoy the content without being harassed all the time.

Selling Stuff With a Blog and Google

About 2 years ago, my mom started cleaning out her house of stuff that she no longer needed to keep around. It meant a lot of work tossing plain old junk we didn’t need and selling stuff that we could get some money for. That meant some posting of items on eBay and Craigslist. It was also around the time I started blogging more and I decided that I would dedicate a page to some of the items we were trying to sell on Craigslist. This also included two windsurfers that hadn’t been used in probably a decade.

We were able to sell a majority of our stuff on Craigslist and having stuff linked to my blog from the various CL posts helped to move more stuff. However, the windsurfers failed to sell. Until recently. I received an email from a gentleman that lives in NY who was interested in the Fanatic Lite Viper we were selling. I’d get anywhere from 10-25 visits a month related to that particular windsurfer and I think this guy was one of them. A long story short, he ended up making the trip to NY to my mom’s house in RI to buy the board and all of the sails and accessories we were offering with it. Even better, he asked the price we wanted and it went to a home where it’d finally see some use again.

Even though it took 2 years to sell the board, it just shows that if you put some information out on the web, you can reach the people you need to reach eventually. And hey, even help some some unused stuff you have lying around too!

Dear Please Disable Auto Playing of Video

This annoyance goes right up there with sites that play music when you visit them. ESPN, for Pete’s sake, stop having your stupid video’s auto play when I load one of the pages on I don’t care to hear them. I don’t care to watch them. I watch SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, and all of the other shows to know what’s going on in the sports world. I don’t need to see it again. Plus, I’m probably already watching TV or listening to music. Or even still, maybe my wife is sleeping next in the same room while I’m on my laptop and the video just blared without my control and woke her up. I realize you’re trying to “enhance” the quality of your site, but its downright pissing me off.

Happy New Year Wishes For Everyone

Happy New Year wishes to all my friends and family out there. Same to the few people who actually read my blog. Thanks for coming by. The posts were a little few and far between in 2008. Here’s hoping that 2009 brings me a little more time to blog about things I’ve learned and things that I’m interested in. Stay tuned and I’ll see everyone in 2009!

Wakeboarding = Fun!

Sunday afternoon, I was able to take my first crack at wakeboarding. My friend Bob took me out on his boat with my wife and my other friend Jay for an afternoon on the lake. After a few tips from Bobby and Jay, out I went.

The hardest part is definitely getting up out of the water. You basically have 2 seconds to turn the board and get up or over on your face you go. I did ok I guess for my first time out. I got up out of the water and went for a few “rides” down the lake, but nothing fancy. Keeping the board edges up correctly is definitely key too. A few times I got the nose of the board down going out over the wake and face planted hard. I definitely got a good case of whiplash hitting the water face first.

Monday I was sore as hell. My legs and arms definitely took a beating. It takes a lot of strength to pull yourself up out of the water. A lot more than water skiing, which I’ve done before. All in all it was a ton of fun though. I’m definitely hooked and can’t wait to go again!

WordPress Login Redirect Issue


It’s been a while since I’ve written here. I’ve been busy taking care of some personal and work business that’s just taken up more time than it should have. A few people have wondered where I’ve been and were clamoring for some new content to read. So here we go!

I upgraded the version of WordPress that this blog runs today, but ran into a problem when I went to log in. Each time I logged in, I’d just get redirected back to the login page. Turns out, I was a victim of a security hole in an older version of WordPress. I found a useful article by John Hawkins that details the issue. His solution was a little more involved than I wanted to get into, so I tried something on my own that worked.

John notes in step 4 that you need to delete the current value of active_plugins in the wp_options table. Turns out, this is all I needed to do, e.g.

update wp_options set option_value = '' where option_name = 'active_plugins'

I cleared that out, logged back in, and re-activated all of my plugins. Problem solved!

Red Sox Opening Day at Fenway Park!

The Boston Red Sox opened their 2008 season at Fenway Park yesterday with a bang! Being 2007 World Series Champions, it was only fitting that we had the 2007 World Series banner unfurled and the players received their rings (or bling as owner John Henry calls it). It was a great day from what I could tell from the highlights on T.V. I wasn’t able to attend the game or watch it on T.V. since I was at work.

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a gem and the Sox won the game over the (lifeless) Detroit Tigers. Manny provided the offense with a triple turned home run on an error from the Tigers, who had 2 on the day. Go Sox!

I think the most touching part of the day though was the arrival of Bill Buckner to throw out the first pitch. This guy has been dogged by a dumb play in the 1986 World Series for over 20 years. Driven out of the Boston area by Boston media and fans, I wasn’t sure this guy would ever be able to come back. But, the Red Sox ownership shows time and time again that anything is possible and had him throw out the first pitch yesterday in a roar of cheers from Boston fans. Buckner deserves this and more. It wasn’t his fault the Sox lost the 1986 World Series. Heck, there was a whole other game to play that they could have won. Yeah, it was a sucky play that he should have had, but hey, shit happens. You play the game and move on to the next one.

Anyway, great stuff that Buckner was able to bask in Boston Red Sox cheers in the sun one final time. Cheers to you Bill and I hope we’ll see you at Fenway park again in the future!

Astronomers Find Newborn Planet Just Around The Block

According to an article I found via the BBC, Astronomer’s found what could be a baby planet, just outside of our solar system a mere 520 light-years away. This is basically “across the city” as far as space is concerned. I find stuff like this to be really really cool. Definitely puts things in perspective as far as how you fit into the universe.

Baby Planet

I guess the image above (via radio emissions from its nearby star), courtesy of the BBC article, shows the new planet in the top right. I’m no rocket scientist, so I can’t see much, but I’m sure its cool!

Anyway, apparently this will be a Jupiter like planet and may have started forming in the last 2,000 years. Take a look at the article here!

Why I Can’t Stand Charter Communications

Charter Communications

I’ve never enjoyed being a customer of Charter Communications for my cable provider. In fact, I’m drooling with anticipation for the day Verizon brings FiOS to my area. Anyway, it seems every time I have to deal with this company I want to scream. Several years ago, it was issues transferring service to someone else in my apartment. Long story made short, they wouldn’t do it and I had to return all of the equipment and my apartment mates would have to re-subscribe. I basically told them all it seemed they wanted was to get their $50 setup fee again. Talk about extortion.

This time, its my HD DVR receiver that wasn’t working properly. Shows don’t play back very smoothly and the HD service is sometimes pretty chopping. Not what you call a stellar T.V. viewing experience.

I call their customer support. The lady I talked to was pleasant and nicely explained that I should just take the receiver to my local Charter location and they’d swap it for a new one. Since one is down the road I said, no problem. Better than wasting 2-4 hours of my day waiting for a service guy, right? I head down there this afternoon to swap out my box. I walk up to the counter and explain my problem to the young lady. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hi, I’m having an issue with my HD DVR receiver and Charter customer service said to come in and swap it out for a new one.
Her: We don’t have anymore right now.
Me: Do you know when you’ll get some in?
Her: Well, we’re supposed to get a shipment of equipment in about an hour, but there’s no guarantee that any HD DVR receivers will be in it.
Me: Is there a number I can call in an hour to see if you got any?
Her: No. We don’t want lots of people calling us to see if we have them. We’re having inventory problems and those phone calls would be too much to handle.

One thought before I continue. Charter doesn’t want customer calling because they can’t handle the same question over and over again? Hmm…

Me: Well, I’m paying for DVR service that isn’t working, I’d like to get this fixed so I can actually use the service.
Her: You can schedule an appointment and we can send out a service person to look at it and swap it out. That’s actually the only way you can get a refund is if a technician comes out to test your equipment. Just swapping it out won’t get you anything other than a new box.
Me: Sure, but then I have to block out 4 hours of my day to wait for them. I really just want a working HD DVR receiver.
Her: We have shorter time windows now. I can schedule you an appointment for Monday.
Me: So basically that’s the quickest way I’ll get a new box?
Her: Yes

So I begrudgingly schedule the appointment for Monday between 5pm and 7pm. Two hours I have to sit around waiting for the cable guy. To the young ladies credit, she apologized for the crappy customer service. So even their own customer service employees know that Charter isn’t the best when it comes to making and keeping their customers happy.

Update: So, I just came home and am having issues with live playback now being choppy and pausing on me. Doesn’t matter if its live programming or recorded. After spending an hour on the phone and getting passed to 4 customer service reps, I was hung up on.

Quick note to Charter here, being transfered rom people who are English speaking to obviously outsource people in India who you can hardly understand is annoying. Note to Charter, this infuriates annoyed customer even more. Perhaps you should improve your customer service and transfer people to where they can get their problems resolved, not to people who can’t help let alone not be understood.

Anyway, being the persistent bastard that I am, I called back and talked to two really pleasant people. Josh, who is a customer service rep, passed me on to his supervisor named Chris. She was able to basically just help me out by crediting me for my service for the weekend since I can’t use it (why should I pay for something I can’t use) until a technician can come out Monday and figure out what the issue is.

I just wanted to post this update to point out that not everyone in Charter’s customer service department is completely useless. There are genuine people who care about their product who want to help you. In the end, I’m getting a credit for 3-4 days of service I can’t use. Though its not perfect, its a decent gesture to at least keep me a happy customer. However, as soon as Verizon FiOS comes through the area, Charter is getting the boot!

Becoming A Proud Nintendo Wii Owner

Nintendo Wii

I was finally lucky enough to get my hands on a Nintendo Wii. Some people at work had a line on some that they needed for a giveaway and I was able to get the last one at a local Walmart. I’m still stumped as to why on earth these things are still so hard to get, but they are. I ended up paying about $325 for the Wii Console and a second Wiimote and Nunchuck. The first night, I think I played Wii sports for about 6 hours. Man was I sore the next morning. Funny how you try to play the sports like you would in real life. Reminds me of Morpheus asking Neo, “Do you think that’s air you’re breathing?”

Now I have the new Zelda game, which is fun, but hard. It also takes a lot of time to play, which I don’t have a lot of. We’re also borrowing a copy of Mario Party 8, which is kind of silly but is fun to play with friends. I can imagine its hilarious as part of a party or something. I’d like to get a couple more “group” type games like Super Smash Brothers Brawl or Mario Galaxy. I think the game prices are fairly reasonable, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to find one in a store, I’d definitely get one. Its worth the money!