The Spider Incident

I woke up yesterday morning and took the dogs downstairs and sent them out for their morning constitutional and went to examine the spider web that has been constructed around my door frame. It’s quite impressive and requires that tall people move out of the way to avoid hitting it.

As we live by a farm, we have a lot of spiders. A lot. So seeing one set up shop doesn’t surprise us and more often then not we leave them be, as we did this one.

But that may change after yesterday.


I noticed the spider was out of his web and crawling on the ground, but when he saw me he sped back up into the web and over top the exact center of the doorway.

To get back inside I now need to walk underneath his current position, so I decide to do so quickly to avoid any confrontation, and no sooner do I move into the doorway area, does the spider leap from the frame of the door and in my direction.

I’m a big guy, but man, I moved fast, and successfully avoided the spider.

But the quick movement caught Scout’s (my puppy) attention and she came running to the doorway. The spider was now on the ground, but still connected via web line to the door frame.

As Scout ran through the door, the web line hit her shoulder and swung the spider into the air and over her back. Scout saw this and spun around and ran in the direction of the spider, but the spider – still attached to her – spun around behind her and was now being dragged. After about 4 feet the web broke and the spider lay in a curled up ball not moving.

I left the spider alone and took the dogs for a walk and almost 2 hours later the spider was still in its same curled up position, and by me at least, assumed dead.

I felt bad, but the spider involved himself in a battle he wasn’t going to win, so I continued on to work.

I come home that night, and the spider is completely gone from its stunned position, I assume he has been eaten, and the web is empty and in disrepair, and again the next morning – no spider and still an empty web.

And then last night, lo and behold –

He’s back and as ugly as ever. I think he may have earned himself a reprieve because of his trying few days, but if that web creeps any more into the doorway, we are going to have an issue, and he will be relocated to the trees.

Harry Potter, It’s About Time

I’m not a Harry Potter nut. Some of my friends are, but for some reason the whole phenomenon has passed me by. Maybe a few years ago it would have been different, but alas, it is what it is.

Now, I haven’t read any of the books at all, but I have seen all of the movies a few times and for one simple reason The Order of the Phoenix stands out for me as the best of the bunch.

This is a series about magic and wizards and for 5 movies now I have been waiting for some real magic. A character to pop out and show how powerful they really are. Something more than moving staircases and having some candles fly around the room.

And towards the end of the movie, when Lord Voldemort and Dumbledore come face to face to battle each other, I could only sit back and enjoy what I’ve been waiting so long for.

The rest of the movie, was as enjoyable as all of the rest, I would say. It felt a little long to me. Editing out another 10 – 15 minutes might not have been a bad idea, but it was certainly the most magic intensive of the series and that lead to a more interesting movie for me.

I was a little disappointed in the way Sirius’ story ended, but it did leave me looking forward to the next film, and thinking whether or not I might want to pick up the books and try and get into the whole story.

Very Exciting Start to the Work Week

Great week so far. We started of on Monday with no email/internet/telephone service as a downed circuit in nearby Jenkintown, PA took down our T1 line, and just found out today that 16,000 of our newspapers have been delivered to the wrong addresses.

That’s a lot of papers.

Oh, and the dynamic drop down menus for our equipment search are filled with errors.


On the positive side, the hotel that we really liked, The Residence Inn – Downtown Austin, has just been added to the SXSW hotel list.

Doing Things the Wrong Way Can Cost You

Sometimes it can cost you time, sometimes money and sometimes your sanity.

As a company, my place of business puts a premium on technology and investing in the business. If there is something out there that will help the employees, the owner will be quite gung-ho in acquiring it, whether it is hardware, software or even a vendor who offers a service we can use.

As an example, I walked into the Accountants office the other day, and 2 minutes later I walked out with the credit card and 5 minutes after that my computer was downloading Adobe CS3 Premium and Final Cut Express was ordered and set for delivery.

That all being said, when you put such a premium on the equipment, why not put the same premium in your people.

And no, I’m not trying to say that the people are not up to snuff, or smart enough, or insult them in any way. But if you want to move forward, bring the people with you. Train them. Show them. Help them.

Allowing your employees to roam in the dark ages of technology will not help your business, and not putting the effort into helping them will harm you just as much.

I was asked to create a directory on our website that would allow users to find their local equipment dealers. You tell us what manufacturers product you are using and what state you are in and up pops a list of all dealers in your state.

To me, and most everyone I believe, the correct way to go about this was to use a database. I mean, who would want to type up every possible state/manufacturer combination and serve them up as static files. Not only would that take an inordinate amount of time, but if you need to make a change to a dealer who represents several manufacturers, that’s a heck of a lot of pages to change.

Now these listings are already being published in different ways in our print publications, so I went and found the source listings and was shocked – I mean shocked – to learn that every manufacturer had their own Word document, and in each Word document was every dealer they had. And on top of that there was a different Word document for ever publication we had.

Say you had a large equipment dealer that represented 4 different manufacturers, and there was a phone number change, you would have to open up 16 different Word documents and make the same change to each one.

This didn’t even affect me and it made me angry. The lack of thought (or even just inexperience) that went into this bothered me so much that I had to fix it.

So I went about creating a database that housed all of the manufacturers, all of the dealers and all of the contact information that we would need and created ways that they would reference each other.

I then set about building a back end that would allow easy adding, editing, and deleting for any dealer or manufacturer on the website. And when I had it all down perfectly working, I creating a page for the print people and showed them that any information they needed could be accessed through this page. They could select a manufacturer and a publication and all relevant information would appear. Everything they would need to put in the paper.

And the best part of all of this was that when changes needed to be made to a dealer, they only needed to be made once, in one place, and it would automatically be changed for both the newspaper and the website.

I was thrilled at my accomplishment. This was one of the first big projects I had taken on all by myself and it couldn’t have turned out better.

This was about 3 or 4 years ago. I was thinking of this today because I was listening to someone get angry at another employee because the listings on the site didn’t match the listing in the paper.

You might wonder how that could happen? Well, the boss (not my boss, BTW) didn’t like the idea of one list so he said that the lists needed to be supported separately and that lead to lists that don’t match, more than double the effort to keep information updated, web pages with wrong information, printed ad pages with wrong information and an occassional customer who will refuse to pay a bill.

There are semi-regular arguments about why this practice is continued and it always ends with that method being how they like it done. Of course, they don’t have to actually do it, do they? They just give the orders and let others get yelled at.

Apple Special Event – The Day After

I find myself more and more being not excited after Apple announcements as I have in the past, and I think I have realized why.

Now that I am firmly entrenched in the world of Apple and have my home set up the way I like it, I find myself only caring about product updates that effect ME.

Three years ago, the iMac introduced yesterday would have me itching in anticipation, but having decided to be a laptop guy, I look at it, say “That’s cool.” and just move on. Not even digesting all of the information, because I know I won’t be buying one.

I do however use iLife and was anticipating ‘08, even though I thought we would be waiting for Leopard for the update, and I think I’ll be picking this up for iMovie alone. It’s a fundamental rethinking of what iMovie is for. iPhoto stores my photos, iTunes stores my music, why doesn’t iMovie store my movies? Well, it does now.

Although, I wonder how it will interact with the movies that iPhoto has taken to catalog. Will iMovie move them over? Will I need to do it manually? Will iMovie recognize the movie on my digital camera and move it into iMovie while iPhoto takes the pictures?

The other updates to iLife seem minimal, although jamming in Garageband may be fun.

I must confess I don’t use iWork, although my wife loves keynote, so I will probably pick it up so she can play with it.

The .Mac updates continue to be unimpressive to me and give me no reason to use it. Maybe if I didn’t already have my own domains I would try it, but with so much available out there already I need something more than an email address to make me switch.

And what’s up with the new bluetooth keyboard. Maybe it’s just me but the lack of an actual number keypad is an immediate deal killer for me. Nothing slow me down as much as when I have to use the top of the keyboard to input numbers. Maybe it’s just me, because I see people around me at work who never touch it, but who knows?

Apple Special Event and My Poor Laptop

Well, we are now about an hour away from the special event where most people are expecting a revised iMac and an overhaul of the .Mac service. And as usual I will be glued to the computer awaiting each and every morsel of information.

I came with in about an hour of buying a brand new iMac last week, but we actually changed our mind at the last minute.

We currently have a Powerbook G4 1.67 which has been running great for us and is a real trooper considering how much it has been through physically.

You see we got a puppy back in September, pictures are in the Flickr sidebar to the right, and I would guess, on the low end, that since we got the puppy that laptop has flown off the table and on the floor no less than 15 times.

And that’s just the Mac. The Dell laptop hits the ground even more.

The keyboard stops working occasionally, the power chord socket is very unreliable, and there are quite few dents in it. To put off the purchase of a new computer we bought a 22 flat panel Acer monitor, and Apple keyboard and a Logitech mouse.

All told it cost us about three hundred dollars. We set it up on a desk in a location that the puppy won’t bump into and I wouldn’t be surprised if we got 5 or 6 more months out of the computer.

And while looking at it on the table, I realize I am glad that I didn’t get the iMac. I would have really missed the portability when we took trips and such, and I can set it up in this docking station like environment whenever I feel the need for a desktop situation.

So, I think I’ll probably be replacing the G4 Powerbook with and Intel MacBook sometime early next year.

As far as .Mac is concerned, I really hope it gets the attention it deserves. It seems to do a few little things really well right now, but no where near enough to warrant the cost, especially when web mail is so much better right now and web hosting is so cheap and common.

I’m not sure what I am looking for from the service, but if they put together an attractive package, I will be more than happy to support it.

License to Wed

This willl be short because I can’t sit here and tell you that this was a good movie. I don’t think anyone, even Robin Williams, could.

But, much like RV, it had funny parts. Yes, it’s pretty much every thing you expect, a bad, stupid movie, but if you know going in that it’s a bad movie with some laughs you might enjoy it a little bit.

One game with the movie that you could play is “Spot the actors from The Office”. I counted four.