Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
I ran into an old elementary school friend whom I haven't seen in 30 years or so. Thirty years! So a bit of our recent time communicating has been to talk about our mutual past, our shared history, and our dim memories. "I remember the time that you...." "So do you remember when we...?" and so on.
At the same time, it's neat to find out what people have done since then. It's interesting to find out what we share in common (food, wine, travel, film) and what we don't (politics, music, movies). Yet it's great to widen your circle of friends by adding old ones to it.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
The Fabulous Thunderbirds played a grand, grand show on October 26 at Toad's Place. Great to hear them againI'd just heard them a couple of months before at the Birchmere.
Also, Toad's Place is a good place for photographing, as evinced here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mojohand/sets/72157602841700674/
Friday, October 26, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Connecting with the Past
One of the main reasons I started this blog was to reminisce a bit about auld lang syne, as it were.
Then, out of the blue, I hear that a dear friend, one of my alltime best friends from elementary school and high school days, just moved to Richmond! How cool, how utterly cool is that!?
Monday, October 08, 2007
Helpful Voice-recognition Help
Recently, my wife had a question regarding our Wachovia online bill-pay system. When she couldn't find an answer on the Web page itself, she followed a link that directed her to call the telephone help line.
First she tried to cancel a payment...but saw no obvious place to do so. So she selected BillPay Help. She found this advice:
Canceling a Payment
You can cancel any payment that has not started processing. After you cancel a payment, its status changes to Canceled. Canceled payments appear in the Recent Payments section and in Bill Activity.
Note: If you cancel a payment that is part of an automatic payment schedule, only the selected payment is canceled. You do not cancel any future payments in the payment schedule. To cancel all payments in an automatic payment schedule, go to Manage My Bills and delete the automatic payment.
To cancel a payment:
1. Click Cancel next to the payment you want to cancel.
The Cancel Payment page opens.
2. Click Cancel Payment.
A message informs you that your payment has been canceled.
3. Click Done to return to the Payment Center.
The problem was, there was no Cancel button next to the payment.
Upon dialing, she heard a voice system respond with, "Enter your account number, followed by the pound sign. Or, simply say your number." Uh oh, she thought, a voice recognition system.
Instead, she found the experience helpful and intuitive. The male voice directed her to ask her question in her own words$#151;after giving an example. And when it couldn't understand her, it said, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand. Please ask me again."
She discovered that once a payment was being processed, she couldn't cancel it. That's why there was no Cancel button available.
Sadly, the help buries this fact in the first sentence. Yes, it says, "You can cancel any payment that has not started processing," but it doesn't explicitly say that the button isn't there, or that the facility isn't possible.
This sort of disjunct between help systems sadly isn't rare. Indeed, it's as if there were two teams: technical writers creating the Billpay Help popup window, and voice recognition writers creating the Billpay VR system. Someone should have done better usability testing, especially considering how critical the act of cancelling a payment must be.
So kudos to the voice recognition software and its script writers, but shame on the technical writers for burying the lead.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The Brave One's Not a Good One
I'm tired of lazy movie wriing. Having just watched Jodie Foster's latest romp through violence and depression (think The Accused hangs out in The Panic Room and formulates her Death Wish), I'm bitterly depressed that I spent $8.50 for the ticket to see this wholly unbelievable tale.
The ease with which her character buys an illegal gun is beyond imagination: Not only does someone hanging out in the gun shop happen to overhear her desire to own a gun (when faced with the prospect of having to wait 30 days for a gun license, she whines, "I won't last 30 days"), but she blithely follows this utter stranger through some creepily exotic Chinatown locales (why are they always chopping fish in these movie Chinatowns?). Never mind that in the previous two scenes she suffered from agoraphobia, yet now all of a sudden she's following a stranger through alleys. Never mind that she was terrorized by thugs in the park, now she's just going with a total stranger who's obviously involved in nefarious activities. No, it's just way over the top.
When he sells her the gun, she says, "I'll take it." Wait. He said it'd cost her $1000. Does she have 10 $100 bills? Does she give him a check? Does he take debit cards? Wow.
She never test-fires the gun, yet in her first encounter with a criminal, she puts three quick rounds center mass into him. And she never flinches.
And the ending is just, "Oh my gawd!" ridiculous.
No, this is a lazy movie.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
First Days in Germany
Came across this note from the first week I spent in germany in October 1999:
Well, it's been a full week, I can tell you--left last Monday, arrived Tuesday. Came to the office for a couple of hours, then went to the hotel they'd booked for me. Wednesday was a full work day! Thursday, too--and that night I went out with three of the guys from the company to eat & drink & chat. Lots o'fun! Friday I was told I'd be moving to an apartment...but I'd already made plans to go see a good friend of mine play blues in Belgium (see http://hometown.aol.com/terrygblues or http://www.macol.net/~~jsokohl/blues.html). Had to leave at 1 and got there at almost 10. Great night, lots of music, but had to find a place to crash. The club owner was nice enough to let me stay with him. The Belgians are very nice!
The next day I spent on the trains getting back to Hamburg. Saturday night I then had to get all my stuff from the hotel & move into the apartment. Yesterday I went shopping at the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), since the stores aren't open on Sundays...except for the ones in train stations. Comical....So, I had to buy a few items, just to survive for a couple of days. Still have to buy soap & another pillow (the one in the place is a feather pillow, and I like more neck support!).
So, I´m slowly getting used to living in Germany...it´s a bit different from all the times I traveled here before!
It was a great time, and it was quite a weekend. Seems like so long ago...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Monday, September 03, 2007
Are You Es-in' Me?
Unbelievable. Not the archaic title (it's users folks, not end users), and not the context-mapping marketing....but the freakin' price. In an Amazon.com email, they sent me this info:
We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Do's for Software Developers and Web Designers (Interactive Technologies) by Jeff Johnson have also purchased End-user Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications by Steve Clarke. For this reason, you might like to know that End-user Computing: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications is now available. You can order yours for just $1,400.00 by following the link below.
Yup, that's the priceOne thousand, four hundred dollars! Not Rupees, not Lire, but dollars. Four hardbound books with a total of 2,600 pages. That's a buck-eighty a page. Compare that to Jeff Johnson's great and practical book, which comes in at about a $.067 a page.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Seeing and Not Seeing
Errol Morris of the Times provides a thoughtful, exhaustive essay on how photographs are mementos, not the thing itself. Years ago I heard the term fetish used to describe photographs. That is, they are placeholders for the thing, the person, the event, the memorynot the thing, the person, the event, nor the memory itself.
Monday, August 13, 2007
How in the world did Blogger's spam-prevention robots determine that my blog might be a spam blog? What writing characterizes my silly little Blogger site as a threat? Indeed, I think it's the lack of context that makes robots so...well, ultimately stupid and useless. Perhaps characters like my way of showing decreased expedition:
Or maybe the 'bots take umbrage at my activities? Weird. Weird approach to censorship perhaps. Quien sabe?
Monday, July 30, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
An interesting snippet on ZDnet about chat's use in wartime. Interesting that text messaging over a secure network was used...and I suppose is still being used. The other interesting thing is that the colonel mentions that users found other collaborative tools too wre "frankly too difficult for users to get their hands around."
In other words, poor usability degraded warfighting.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Motorcycle-wise, I rode some last weekend. I went up to Lake Anna and rode on a guided Civil War ride done by my friend Bob Annandale. However, the group (the North Anna Lake Riders Motorcycle Club) are all Harley-heads...and go sllllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww. Bob's leading, I'm following him, and we leave the rest in the dust...AND WE NEVER GET UP TO THE SPEED LIMIT! Crazy how anyone can ride a motorcycle so slow. Anyway, after lunch I had to meet Karen at her mom's house in Alexandria. We went to a party in Alexandria given by friends of mine from the Guzzi world. A nice BBQ--very pleasant.
The next morning we did yard work with Karen's mom, Vi. Tree cutting, hedge clipping, that sort of thing. I left around 11:00 and rode west to avoid traffic. Ended up spending time at the Manassas battlefield, seeing some of the 2nd Manassas sites I'd never visited. Then I rode to Warrenton where I had some lunch at a neat diner at the intersection of 211W and 15/29S. After that, I rode south on 15 to 522 to 20 east, picking up SR 601 and going along the northern side of Lake Anna toward home.
All in all, about 250 miles. Not a long weekend, but it was good to get out on the
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Had a great ride today in western North Carolina. Came to Clemmons (just west of Winston-Salem) yesterday to ride in the 2nd Christian Neuhauser Memorial Ride. He was the editor-in-chief of Road Runner Motorcycle magazine. Sadly, two years ago, his Ural motorcylce collided with a semi on I-40.
The semi won.
Out of bad things, though, sometimes good things come. So last year, Christian's wife and cofounder Christa hosted a memorial ride. Low key, just friends & fans going for a motorcycle ride.
Though I missed last year's ride, this year's was great. After breakfast of fruit, pastries, and coffee at the Village Inn, we left in three waves of riders--first north on 601, then west on some county roads to US 20. What a great road! Twisties and near-switchbacks taken at the limits of our bikes' abilities. We then went south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Blowing Rock, NC, where we had catered BBQ chicken and pork.
After this great lunch, we crept down 321 in construction traffic until we turned left on 268--another great road. Twists and turns through a lush valley. Then dinner with new friends capped the event.
Great, great day.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Well, my tip for movies extends to these two: Once and Miss Potter. One a great music and unrequited love tale, the other a biopic with a delightful and poignant theme.
Once tells the tale of an Irish busker and a Czech single mom who meet on the street. She likes his music, and he likes her smile, style, playing, and lyrics. Call this the movie that Music and Lyrics wanted to be. Once deftly captures the tensions of halting romance as well as the difficulties of songwriting and playing live music.
Miss Potter, on the other hand, gently tells the tale of Beatrix Potter's initial forays into publishing children's books and a fictitious romance. Rene Zellweger does a marvelous job as the illustrator and writer, while Ewan MacGregor sets aside his Moto Guzzi to portray Potter's neophyte publisher and, ultimately, surprising love interest.
Two good movies. Now, Jesus Camp is a diffent, disturbing story altogether....
Monday, July 02, 2007
Sadly, the brother of a close friend died suddenly Saturday. Rod had been traveling west with his nephew, taking a long-planned trip to Alaska. In Saskatchewan, Canada, Rod had difficulty breathing. His nephew got him to an ER, where doctors tried to stabilize him. They realized they needed to transport Rod to another facility; on the way, he passed away.
Our friend Greg is simply devastated. He was visiting us for the weekendsadly, too, his wife Nancy was supposed to be here, but she had to go to PA to visit her father, who'd fallen and broken his hip last Wednesday. For Greg, it's more than the fact that Rod was his brotherRod was his last sibling, and his death made Greg the last living direct relative. His parents had died several years ago, and his younger brother had died from cancer earlier as well.
So sad, so very sad.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Run, do not walk, to see La Vie en Rose, the great film about singer Edith Piaf. Having seen it Monday night at the Westhampton in Richmond, I felt utterly drained by the end...an engrossing yet enervating experience. Marion Cotillard is riveting as la môme piaf. Indeed, if Penelope Cruz can be nominated for her Volver performance, Cotillard should be granted one this week.
Too, the cinematography and the editing is utterly brilliant. Too, with Olivier Dahan's direction, you get a great sense of Piaf's life--by its jumping forward, backward, then middle way in time.
Go see it!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Well, not really stuck..but watching the thunderstorms on the Weather Channel. Of course, they're pretty much in my path any which way I wanna go. I think I'll alter my route and go north to see Ft. Pillow, then back to my US 64 East trek, making Shiloh by late midday. My goals are to have Shiloh and Buford Pusser's Museum done by tonight :)
Not doing a great job of keeping up with blogging, but, well, sue me. I'm in the middle of an 11-day motorcycle trip. Already been out to Fayetteville, AR, for a Moto Guzzi rally.
Yes, the Haven-meisters have done it again! Apparently a red Breva 1100 is to have changed hands yesterday, and they were riding east today and tomorrow. Still, Bob was grateful to Steve & also the dealer from Nebraska (or was it Montana? I only heard second-hand) for willingness to jump in & help.
I had to leave the BASIL (brothers and sons-in-law) at their hotel yesterday a.m. to go camping for two days with my bro- & sis-in-law & my wife, who'd flown out to Fayetteville to visit w/her sister (& bro-in-law, too!). We drove to Fayetteville, gathered food & beer & ice & barbecue & other stuff for the property they own, & headed east of Fayettteville to near Rush on the Buffalo River.
I rode behind Donna's Forrester, enjoying 412 and 65 and 62 and 14 to Rush road. I also enjoyed that, too...till the pavement gave way to a gravel 8% downhill! I rode the gravel, though, and made the turn onto their dirt road...but I gave up when it began to pour. Mud and rock and slope do not a Breva 1100 riding course make.
So, David came up with the trailer & we ratcheted my Dawn Treader down and took it to the campsite.
Had a great time hangin' with family and also friends Laura & Andre Codrescu, who live nearby. Drinking in front of the fire and telling stories, having fun, was just what the doctor ordered...because on top of everything else this trip (tire, wind, lightning, storms, Bob's bearings, heat), I lost a filling Sunday a.m./Sat. night! So, I left the Rush property early and am headed east...hope to still make the VA rally & all, but I wanted to be in civilization in case I need emergency dental work.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Remember--we motorcyclists are out there! Be careful and watch for us.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Pictures of the ride.
The route was, starting in Richmond, then
- West on River Road to SR 6
- SR6 west through Scottsville (still torn up), with a side trip to Schuyler, VA (home of Walton's Mountain creater Earl Hamner, Jr.)
- US 29 S to Colleen (after lunch in Lovingston).
- SR 56 west to Piney Grove, then SR 778 west/southwest to US 60.
- US 60 to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- South on the BRP to SR 130
- SR 130 west to Natural Bridge, VA
Spent the night at the hotel there (20% discount for motorcyclists, with the coupon from the hotel's page)
- Sunday north on US 11 (with a stop at Foamhenge!)
- Putz around Lexington looking for an open coffee shop (couldn't find one!) Grab some fruit at Kroger's, then stop for fuel outside of town.
- SR 39 west through Goshen Pass, with stops at the Maury River and Dan Ingall's Overlook.
- SR 39 west to US 220 north, stopping for lunch in Monterey, VA.
- US 220 north to West Virginia. Shortly after crossing the line, SR 25 east to SR 21 North to Brandywine, WV.
- US 33 east all the way back to Richmond,, with a stop on Shenandoah Mountain, fuel before the Blue Ridge, discover low oil, stop in Ruckersville looking for oil, stop in Gordonsville for a chocolate malted & a quart of 10W40 dino (mixing with my 10W50 synth, due to low oil).
Approx. 440 miles round trip, 9.5 hours in the saddle, top speed 102mph (for me, not Dave & Ray), average speed 44 mph, average fuel 39 mpg.
Monday, April 23, 2007
More about the trip later, including pictures posted to Flickr. Suffice it to say, however, that we had a blast on Saturday & Sunday! Blue Ridge, Shenandoah, and a bit of West Virginia heaven.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Lord, look at that collar! I was wearing the "uniform" of McCallie School, which by that time had turned simply private...before, it was military, from 1908 until 1971.
Friday, April 06, 2007
The goal is to ride for a day or two together, and then they'll pakc both bikes into the truck & diddy mau back to Georgia. All three of us are re-entry bikers, with me having the most riding experience lately, about 60,000 miles in the past five years. Dave picked his bike up about a month ago, while Ray just recently got his license.
I first rode on Dave's 1971 Honda 450 in the summer of '72. He even took me to get a haircut on it. I remember riding a hundred miles an hour on the back of the bike, wearing my McCallie blazer, while we raced to the back of Lookout Mountain to get to a barber we knew...who was closed. We then had to race to the foot of the mountain, where the St. Elmo barber was still open.
The next year, Ray bought a brand-new Honda 450. I vividly recall the first day he brought it home, stalling out as he humped and bumped it up the hill to our Franklin Street/Bragg Avenue house. I also vividly remember our mother absolutely collapsing in tears on the living room floor when she learned he'd bought a bike.
Now, 35 years later, the three of us will ride together. It's sort of a nostalgia trip for me in a way...the three of us were close those early '70s summers, and now, three decades later, we have a chance to spend some time together.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Still, Vegas is Vegas. The fact that they do what they do and do it well is great. American commerce at its most designed.
Oh, and the conference was great!
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Both of them kinda turned to me and said, "Hmmmm, yeah, you might have something there." Small smiles of growing recognition that, maybe, there's something there. What if there is a sense of an economy in social interactions that is not based on currency but rather on social costs and benefits? I think there might be something here worth pursuing.
One of the core things that's so cool about the conference is the web of connections that occur. so, grnted, I and Keane spent some chunk of change in my attending the conference. But think about itI gained friendship, knowledge, and inspiration for my investment in time, extroversion, and, yes, even space invasion (that idea that I allow others to interfere with my sense of space).
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I missed only two summits (albeit in rather cool locations: Portland, OR and Austin, TX.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Sunday, March 11, 2007
In other words, lead a normal life.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Gates said that the request for extra MPs is in addition to the 21,500 combat troops that President Bush is sending for the Baghdad security plan and 2,400 other troops designated to support them.
Gordon England, the deputy defense secretary, told Congress earlier this week that the number of required support troops could reach 7,000.
So, that means, 21,000 + 2,200 MPs + 2,400 other troops = 25,600 extra troops...which could be 29,000. Go figure.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Never forget, just like an elephant never forgets.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Jonesing for a Ride So the weather sucks, I'm stuck in Boston, my bike's in Virginia, and I really wanna ride. I've been reading Alexis' stories lately. Man, there's a woman who rides! 50K miles last year. Crazy, or what?
I'd love to be able to do that. Tonight, Captain Bob & I were chatting about riding. We were talking about doing the four corners....7,000 miles in 21 days. He said, "That's really not too bad400 miles a day as an average." I reminded him, though, that we'd be somewhere else...Key West or San Diego when we finished. He said, "Yeah, but then it doesn't matter how long it takes to get back."
To which I replied, "Uh, well, if I still have to work, it does."
The life of a retired guy.
Monday, January 01, 2007
And folks wonder why we gripe at deals the bigs get. Sheeeesh....