Friday, August 31, 2007

More War?

I try to never talk politics ever, but this issue is just too big and scary.

Many political bloggers seem to think that the Bush administration is gearing up for war against Iran. Certainly Washington has issued many scathing press releases condemning Iran for helping the Iraqi insurgency, illegally making nuclear weapons, and other such things. But war? Invasion? Disregarding all the logistics of another war (it's not 1991 when we had a two-and-a-half-war military; we barely have a one-war military these days), why the hell would we attack Iran? The region is unstable enough. We can't secure Baghdad, let alone the rest of Iraq. What manner of arrogance would war against Iran would be.

Please, stay informed about this issue people. Who knows if it will happen, but an informed populace is certainly better than an ignorant one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Halo 3, 546. Ed, 0

I bought a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew's "Game Fuel" flavor, the bottle adorned with the Master Chief and Halo 3 stuff. As a Halo 3 fanboy I was contractually obligated to buy it. However, it tastes like a combination of bad bubble gum and Nerds candy. Despite it's foul taste, I'm amazed they got those flavors in there. Good work guys.

Fantasy Football

So this year I'm going to be in four fantasy football leagues. That's just ridiculous. But of course the hard part is actually coming up with four team names. I always start with my old standby, "Neosporin Squad", then I pick a new name based on either current events or players on my teams. I've stayed away from Michael Vick this year because it's too easy, so here's what I've got:

  • Brady Quinn's a Dick (my league)
  • You're The Man Now Dogs (work league)
  • Body by Mangini (coworker's outside of work league, three-player keeper)(also this came from Kissing Suzy Kolbert)
  • Pacman for Prez (friend's league)

I'm pretty unhappy about that last one; it may change after the draft.

Speaking of drafts, the first two leagues up there have drafted, and here are my teams:

Brady Quinn's a Dick (standard scoring, 12 teams):

  1. Laurence Maroney (10th overall, RB, NE)
  2. Steve Smith (15, WR, Car)
  3. Deuce McAllister (34, RB, NO)
  4. Carnell Williams (39, RB, TB)
  5. Deion Branch (58, WR, Sea)
  6. Matt Hasselbeck (63, QB, Sea)
  7. Kellen Winslow (82, TE, Cle)
  8. Devery Henderson (87, WR, NO)
  9. Santonio Holmes (106, WR, Pit)
  10. Alge Crumpler (111, TE, Atl)
  11. Jason Campbell (130, QB, Was)
  12. Brandon Marshall (135, WR, Den)
  13. Jason Elam (154, K, Den)
  14. Minnesota D (159, D, Min)
  15. Reuben Droughns (178, RB, NYG)

Pretty happy with this team, though I may have taken Cadillac too early (backup RB before second QB?).

You're the Man Now Dogs (very odd scoring, 1 backup per position required, special teams separate, 12 teams)

  1. Larry Johnson (11, RB, KC)
  2. Donovan McNabb (14, QB, Phi)
  3. Deuce McAllister (35, RB, NO)
  4. Anquan Boldin (38, WR, Ari)
  5. Plaxico Burress (59, WR, NYG)
  6. a. Jay Cutler (62, QB, Den), pick traded for
    b. Cadillac Williams (69, RB, TB)
  7. a. San Diego D (83, D, SD), pick traded for
    b. Santana Moss (76, WR, Was)
  8. Chad Pennington (86, QB, NYJ)
  9. Kellen Winslow (107, TE, Cle)
  10. Olindo Mare (110, TE, NO)
  11. Owen Daniels (131, TE, Hou)
  12. Neil Rackers (135, K, Ari)
  13. Jacksonville ST (155, ST, Jac)
  14. St. Louis D (158, D, STL)
  15. Houston ST (179, ST, Hou)
  16. Indianapolis D (182, D, Ind)

That draft pick trade threw this league into a tailspin. The veterans in this league have been doing it since long before computers, and they had outlawed all sorts of behavior we take for granted, like trades, waiver wire acquisitions, and draft pick trading. Also their scoring is screwy; every player gets 6 points for a TD of the type they're supposed to get, but 12 for any other way (RB rushing TD = 6 pts, RB receiving TD = 12 pts). Also QBs are heavily weighted, and interceptions are ignored.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why I Miss My Sidekick

I had a T-Mobile Sidekick II for about 18 months before I destroyed the LCD screen. Many things about it were really annoying, like its huge size and incessant alert windows not dismissable by the "end call" button. But it definitely aced one thing: sound management.

Most people have some idea of how they want their cell to make sounds, but these ideas vary. For example, I just had a conversation with a coworker that went like this:

Matt: I wish my phone had an option to silence all sounds.
Ed: Mine has that, but I wish it wouldn't silence alarms.
Matt: Then it wouldn't be all sounds.

Enter the Sidekick's sound profiles. The Sidekick has something like six default sound profiles: All off, buzz, low, medium, high, maximum. Ok, great, but what if I want incoming calls to ring but text messages to vibrate? You can go into the profiles and edit the volumes for all types of sounds. Want everything but new voicemail to make sounds? Go right ahead. The Sidekick also allows you to add or remove profiles and even to order them (since you usually select them with the volume buttons).

But wait, there's more! You can tell the Sidekick to automatically use certain profiles at certain times of day. The designers clearly had working people in mind when they added the options for "weekend only" rules. So after about 15 minutes of customization, I never had to worry about the Sidekick's sounds again!

As much as I love my new phone (Samsung t629, a sexy little number), I have toggle vibrate twice a day. Anything that I have to do repeatedly in software should be automated.

Free Traffic?

I submitted my post about FiOS and the XBox to Reddit after I posted it because I thought people might want to know, and who better than Reddit readers would know if it's relevant. Well, the submission maxed out at three points (one was me and two were Eric and John). But I got 41 page views that day, which is a lot for a blog that no one reads (you can see the consecutive zero-view days in the image below).

I know this is a known fact (duh, show your content to others and then others will see it), it seems kinda cool that I got 38 strangers for view my content just by asking them to.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Photos imminent!

We've been busy, so I haven't had a chance to take newer photos of the house yet. But when I do, you'll get to see the new bedroom! Woooo!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FiOS and XBox Wireless Adapter: Incompatable?

What the crap? I tried to connect my XBox 360 with wireless adapter to my new Verizon FiOS wireless router/FiOS modem, the ActionTec MI424-WR. The 360 sees the wireless network correctly, but when I try to connect, it fails (2nd step of the test, "Wireless Network: Not Connected"). I can connect to a neighbor's unsecured wireless, so I know the adapter works.

After trying a bunch of things, I call XBox tech support. The guy runs through his checklist, doing all the dumb things like restarting and reseting (I simulated those steps, as I had already done them). Then he asked me whether I had a Linksys or D-Link wireless router. Odd question, since there are more than two wireless router manufacturers out there. I told him it was an ActionTec, and he cut me off saying that was a modem and wireless router in one. This was odd, because while that was true, ActionTec sells regular wireless routers. I confirm that it's a Verizon-supplied wireless router and FiOS modem.

This is the interesting part. He pretty much instantly says I should call ActionTec to make sure I have the right settings. Now, I'm not an IT professional... wait, I am an IT professional! So I told him that I set up the wireless network myself and that it works with my computers. The tech is clearly concerned about something, but he asks me to run one more test before again declaring I should call ActionTec. This certainly seems weird, as I know the router is working fine.

So, being the nerd that I am, I searched the interweb for information. I came across this forum thread, with some interesting (but unconfirmed) information:

I have this same exact problem, and it is NOT a NAT problem and it CANNOT be fixed through port forwarding. I've done a bunch of searches in other forums and others are having the same issue. What I'm finding is that there used to be a d-link and an early model actiontec that DO work with the wireless adapter. However, newer customers (I got mine installed July 1, 2007), are getting the "rev. C" version of this router and it is incomptatible

Weird, huh. I will be writing ActionTec, Verizon, and Microsoft soon about this.

UPDATE: From ActionTec:


DO NOT reply to this email. This is a send only account.

You wrote:Hello
ActionTec, I recently (first week of August 2007) had Verizon
FiOSinstalled in my house. The installer gave me a ActionTec MI424-WR
router.However, I cannot get my XBox 360 with Wireless Adapter to connect to
theActionTec's wireless network. The 360 can connect to other wirelessnetworks
without trouble. Can you help me? Thank you, -Ed

The reponse to this issue is below:


If your MI424 has Rev C after the model number we have seen an increase incalls
where XBOX wireless adapters will not connect.We cannot assist at this time, but
the issue is under review by Actiontec,VERIZON, and Microsoft. Once a resolution
is found it will posted on theVERIZON website.Until that time, you can connect
the XBOX with ethernet and play online,but we cannot get the wireless to


If this solution did not correct your issue please click this link:

Thank you,
Actiontec Electronics

Well, there you have it. I got FiOS mostly for XBox Live, and now I have to use my extra wireless router to actually connect it. What a load of garbage.

I connected my old D-Link router to the LAN side of the ActionTec to see if the 360 could connect to that and then to the interweb. It works, though I'm not sure how much latency I'm losing with that extra layer.

Also, I chatted with Verizon's live-chat service to ask them about it. The tech was unable to help, but he offered these two nuggets of information:
  • Verizon only guarantees wireless devices 10 feet from the router can connect. Anything further than that is not guaranteed.
  • Verizon does not support gaming network connections. If you want one to work, you're on your own.
Not terribly surprising, but interesting.

After cursing at NAT and firewalls and routers for a few hours yesterday, I finally realized that my nested routers didn't allow my XBox to connect to other users for any online gaming. I'm going to try finagling the DMZ and port forwarding settings, but for now I've just busted out the 50 ft. Ethernet cable. Oh well.

Go here for latest news.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why the Rabid Anti-Firefox-ism?

The big news in the nerd world today is the site (WFIB). If you haven't already, check out the site. The site says that site owners are blocking Firefox because of the popular extension AdBlockPlus, and since site owners cannot opt-out of having their ads blocked, they've blocked Firefox all together. Hilariously, one of the articles WFIB links to is a paper from a IT-law college class.

Well, that's all fine and dandy. You own your site, and you can do whatever. O' has a good article detailing why WFIB makes no sense, but whatever. You could check out the article for more info. Or you could check out today's AlertBox article from Jakob Nielsen; he basically says that users ignore advertisements, a fact which makes WFIB even more silly.

But what really shocks me is the anti-Firefox-ism (AF) furvor out there. Just look at these sites (linked to from WFIB):
  • (in a post from 2005) blasts Firefox as a new religion.
  • A Comcast user's site, Optimize Guides, details a list of Firefox myths.
  • A Google search turns up similar viewpoints (though many are individual users posting on forums).

I've seen some Firefox nuts out there; as with pretty much any new technology, people get excited about it. Firefox isn't new, but it's still different enough for people to get excited about. After spending hours every time I was at my parents' house fixing their computer from all the spyware IE downloaded (even with the latest patches), I installed Opera for them to use. It was too different looking, and they rejected it. Then I installed Firefox, and they didn't even notice (I noticed all the time I got to spend with them instead of their computer). I recently recommended it to a developer coworker of mine who had disregarded it out of hand as useless.

So why the venom towards Firefox? Use it or don't use it. But if you use IE and get spyware, don't ask me for help.

Technology Update

The Verizon guy came and found the problem; the coaxial cables that go to the right side of my living room start out in the junction box on the left side. The Verizon FiOS signal can piggyback on a cable TV signal, but not a satelite signal (I'm led to believe this is because the satelite signal is scrambled so it actuall utilizes all 100Mbps of the coaxial cable's bandwidth). He had to run a third line from the basement into the living room. I tell him that I really REALLY do not want another hole in the floor. He looks at me as if I'm crazy and asks why I thought he'd put a hole in the floor. I tell him about the DirecTV guy and show him the hole, and he just shakes his head.

I'm paraphrasing; he said, "The guy told you it [putting the cable through the wall to the junction box] was impossible? Then he's full of shit [I had given him the green light to swear by swearing a lot by this point]. Anyone can do it."

So he proceeds to thread a cable through the wall and then "fish" for it. It took him like 2 minutes, half as long as drilling a hole in the floor. I'm going to be having a word with DirecTech, "my certified DirecTV installer." Excellent.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When Animals Attack! on Fox

Two animal and house related stories today, one more crazy than the other.

This weekend I walked out the side door and headed towards the car, but something on the front lawn caught my attention. I glanced over and saw at least ten live wild turkeys on the lawn! I just stopped and stared, but apparently this was enough to scare them. They all flew off, but one couldn't quite get enough altitude ("Pull up! Pull up!") and crashed right-on into the neighbor's house! The turkey managed to fly away without hitting the ground, which is quite an impressive feat. I'd never seen wild turkeys before!

The other story is less exciting. Before I went to bed last night, the carbon monoxide detector on the 2nd floor started chirping like it had a low battery. I was pissed because I had just replaced the battery. I stomped up there and examined the detector when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked into the guest bedroom and saw something large flying around in there. As best I could tell, it was a bat! We had left the window open in there, and though it had a screen on it, the screen was bent severely, and the bat must have flown in to eat some of the bugs that had followed the light. So what did I do? Well, bats are scary! So I just shut the door and decided to deal with the bat later. This morning I went in there armed with a tennis raquet and work gloves, but he had left.

Oh, and the septic guys finished their work by leveling out the lawn as best they could and topping it all with loam. Only loam doesn't include seed (something that my broker neglected to inform me of). So I have to hit Lowes and get some grassseed and a spreader in addition to all the other stuff we need.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

House Update; or, Shenanigans with Technology

Busy week! On Tuesday, the Verizon FiOS tech came (6 hours late) to install fiber optic Internet access. My father-in-law-to-be, Dave, volunteered to stay and wait for him so I didn't have to miss work. Nice. When I get home, the Internet is on, and man is it fast (and very low latency)!

Annie doesn't work Wednesdays, so we had scheduled the guys from National Floors Direct to come then to install the hardwood floors upstairs and carpet on the stairs. (Side note about NFD: the sales guy was nice and knowledgeable. However, he significantly lowered his price twice when we said it was too much; 20% the first time, then 19% the second time for a total drop of almost 35%! Price discrimination indeed!) I returned home to awesome hardwood floors! I was and still am pretty excited about them.

Then things started to go downhill in one fell swoop. The DirecTV guy came on Friday (again with Dave waiting for him) and refused to install the second coaxial cable for the 2-tuner DVR, saying an electrician would have to do it. While this raised some red flags for me, I was at work and didn't want to deal with it, so I told Dave to just let him do it.

I get home and the TV is working great. So I fire up my laptop to blog about it... and I have no Internet access! Since the FiOS uses the coaxial cables already in the house, I figured out that the DirecTV tech must have disconnected one of the coax cables going to the router (this was mostly confirmed by a tech support call with Verizon). Also, we discovered that about half the channels on the DVR have significant interruptions/static.

DirecTV gets bonus points for the call I had with a tech named Jeremy. He had me do a few troubleshooting steps without effect, then went ahead and ordered me a new DVR box. He asked me to check the cables behind the box, and I explained to him that the tech hadn't installed the second line. Jeremy literally laughed, then said, "You ordered a 2-tuner DVR from us with full installation; why would you need an electrician to install it?" Jeremy set up a service call for the next day, Sunday, from 12-4. Wow! A service call on a Sunday; how cool is that?

So right now I'm waiting for them to show. Jeremy said he couldn't diagnose the FiOS problem (obviously), but that the tech coming out today will take a look. If they fix the bad signal and the FiOS, my faith will be restored.

Update: James, the DirecTV tech, just left. He was able to install the second line (though not without first telling me he wasn't allowed to, and then calling his dispatch to find out he was) and get rid of the fuzz. He did his best to help with the Verizon problem, but was unable to help. The cabling in this house seems very strange. I hope the Verizon guy on Monday can help.

New Hardwood Floors!

I promised pictures, and here they are!

Landing upstairs

Click the image to see more from Flickr!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Halo 3 Is Driving Me Insane

Here is a brief history of me and Halo:
  • Halo 1 is released for the XBox. At the time, I thought the XBox was a piece of crap and loved the GameCube.
  • I play Halo 1 for the first time. I tell everyone who will listen that the game is way overrated and a piece of crap, citing the lack on online MP (no XBL at the time) and repetitive level design.
  • I win an XBox in a raffle.
  • I go and buy Halo 1 and a second controller, because, hey, everyone's doing it, and I play it a lot.
  • My fraternity hosts regular 16-player 4-TV Halo fests. I participate (in the words of Boon from Animal House: "It's a fraternity party. I'm in the fraternity. I have to go.") but tell everyone how bad the game is.
  • In one game, I have no fewer than four successful flag captures in the Warthog, at least one from each spot. I realize that the beauty of Halo lies in one place: the Warthog.
  • I play lots of Halo 1, still telling people it sucks.
  • I camp out for Halo 2 on November 9th, 2004, then stay up all night playing.
  • I beat Halo 2 on Heroic on November 21st.
  • I buy XBL on November 22nd because I can't stand missing Halo 2 MP.
  • I proceed to play almost 1200 games of Halo 2 online.
  • The Halo 3 ARG, Iris, slowly drives me insane.
As hard as I try to not be a goofy fanboy, I can't; I'm making plans to camp out for Halo 3, I'm reading everything I can about it, and I'm generally pumped as all hell.

Take a Deep Breath

It's times like this I force myself to remember what Justin wisely said: "Exceptions should be exceptions, not expections."


We've been doing a lot of work on the house. You can follow with pictures on my Flickr site.

We had the hardwood (laminate) floors on the 2nd floor and carpet on the stairs installed yesterday. Damn they look and feel good! I'll post some pics of that soon.

I uninstalled the built-in broken microwave last night. Man that was hard! This site helped me a fair bit though. The key was finding the "hidden" latch under the vent grill. I put "hidden" in quotes because it was so big and obvious yet I missed it for like 30 minutes.

Monday, August 6, 2007

House Stuff

As you may know, I bought a house. We moved in on Friday, which was like the hottest day of the year in Massachusetts. The mover in charge of paperwork sweat so much that it was dripping off of him onto the papers, and the receipt he handed me was soaked. Yuck.

I plan to journal the work we're doing here. I have plenty of pictures; stay tuned for some hot updates.
All rights reserved. Take that!