I found this lovely little critter in my dinner this evening. Very nearly ate him, too. Yum. That's what I get for trying to eat healthy for once.
The salad was triple washed, though, so at least it was a clean grub.
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Way back in March, I posted the sad story of how Mozy Online Backup completely failed me when I lost a huge amount of data to a hard drive crash. As it turned out, even though the backup client was a joy to use and worked like a charm, actually restoring my data took weeks of painful trial and error.
Even after Mozy sent me my data on DVD for free by way of apology, I still ended up losing some of it because their self-extracting restore archives don't automatically decrypt the encrypted backups and the standalone decryption tool will "decrypt" anything you throw at it, even if it's already been decrypted or you enter the wrong passphrase. As a result, I ended up double- or triple-decrypting some of my files, which essentially scrambled them. By that point I was sick of fighting with the Mozy software, so I decided to give up and cut my losses.
I did get most of my data back, though, and Mozy refunded my money and gave me a free year of service. Unfortunately, I no longer trusted them, so that year of service was ultimately worthless and I began looking for other backup solutions. In the meantime, my blog post became a forum for other Mozy users who were lulled into a false sense of security and then betrayed by Mozy's horribly broken restore functionality (which they apparently still haven't fixed).
It's now clear that, despite their good intentions, Mozy is not a reliable online backup service and should be avoided.
For the last few months, I've been using (and loving) CrashPlan. It's a little more expensive than some other online backup tools since you actually have to pay for the software itself, but it has the lovely benefit of being able to back up both to CrashPlan's servers and to your own (or your friends') computers.
As a result, I now have multiple encrypted backups of my files: one on a friend's computer, one on another of my computers, and one on CrashPlan's servers. I've tested the restore functionality, and it works like a charm. Restoring from my other computer over my local network is quick and painless. But if, for example, my house were to burn down and my friend was on vacation, I could still restore over the 'net from CrashPlan's servers.
The only real snag I've run into so far is that CrashPlan tends to be a bit of a memory hog, which is unfortunate. But hey, RAM is cheap and it's a small price to pay for knowing that my data is safe.
Rumor has it the developers are working on implementing Amazon S3 support, which will fill me with glee if it's true.
I spent a sizable portion of the labor day weekend loafing on my new couch playing Warhawk, which was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 last week. Despite a few rough edges in the menus and the server browser, I can say with confidence that this is the first must-have game for the PS3.
At first glance, Warhawk doesn't sound like anything particularly new or special. It's a multiplayer-only third-person shooter with vehicles. Like just about every other multiplayer FPS/3PS, it has a variety of game types including deathmatch, capture the flag, "zones" (which is a lot like onslaught in Unreal Tournament 2004), etc. What makes Warhawk special is how beautifully these now-commonplace game elements are combined to provide one hell of a kickass experience. Think Halo but with better vehicles, prettier graphics, more thrilling combat, and absolutely amazing sound effects in THX-certified surround sound.
It's hard to describe the sheer awesomeness of the gameplay without actually showing it to someone firsthand. There's something viscerally thrilling about it. Imagine diving into a dense aerial dogfight, blowing someone out of the sky, and dodging several enemy missiles as you realize you're out of ammo. You swoop in for an emergency landing and jump out of your aircraft just as it's blown to bits by enemy fire. While your opponent circles around for a strafing run, you leap into a nearby anti-aircraft cannon and pepper the sky with flak. The enemy plane bursts into flames and explodes, shrapnel whistling past your ears, missing you by mere feet. The body of the dead pilot smacks into a hillside and slides down the hill. Another enemy aircraft rockets overhead. You take aim...
See what I mean? I'm not making this up, either. That shit actually happened. I love this game.
My mind has officially been blown by this demonstration of a new image resizing technique that changes an image's dimensions while intelligently preserving (or selectively destroying) content. I want this. Now.
Dear movie theatres: You are obsolete. Please die.
Thanks to HD DVD and Blu-Ray, movies now look and sound better in my living room than they do in a theatre. And my living room has the benefit of being under my complete dictatorial control, so if a fat lady with flashing LED earrings sits in front of me and starts texting her girlfriends during the movie, I can kick her ass out, rewind the movie, and resume where I left off. Actually, I’d probably call the cops too because, seriously, WTF? But you get the point.
I can’t remember the last time I had a good moviegoing experience, and I have a pretty good memory. Nothing ruins a potentially good movie like a crappy sound system, a scratched-up screen, a dim projector bulb, a film reel that someone dropped on the floor and stomped on, or a blind projectionist who can’t be bothered to adjust the focus before the movie starts. Even when nothing goes wrong with the technical aspects of the moviegoing experience (which is rare these days), there always seems to be a fat lady with flashing LED earrings texting her girlfriends, or a crying baby, or two little old ladies who take turns asking each other what just happened or why he did that or who that guy was.
As if that wasn’t enough, movie studios routinely deface their own movies with anti-piracy graffiti. So on the rare occasions when the film hasn’t been stomped on, the screen isn’t scratched, the sound system rocks, the projectionist got the focus right, the fat lady has left to get more candy, and you’re finally beginning to enjoy the movie, you’re suddenly assaulted by flashes of ugly brown dots all over a pivotal scene.
But apparently even those scene-ruining shitdots aren’t enough to fight piracy, so now movie studios are hiring creepy old guys to film the audience.
So here’s the deal: I’m finished with movie theatres. Done. I will no longer pay to see movies in theatres, not even with friends, not even if they beg. If it’s free, then maybe I’ll consider it, but my money is staying in my pocket. I’m willing to wait a few months for something to come out on HD DVD or Blu-Ray so I can watch it in the privacy and comfort of my own home, on my own kickass entertainment system, without annoying morons, anti-piracy shitdots, or creepy privacy-invading old men ruining the experience.
Who’s with me?
On Memorial Day (which, for those of you who can’t remember, happened on May 28th this year), Felicity and I went to the San Jose Levitz showroom to buy a couch. They gave us a sweet deal on a lovely leather number and, as part of the sale, threw in free delivery. Before taking our order, the salesperson warned us that they would have to backorder the model we wanted, but that it would arrive within a few weeks. It was a good enough deal that we were fine with that.
A few weeks later, I got a call saying that the couch would take a little longer than expected due to heavy demand. The salesperson assured me that we’d have our couch within 90 days. He gave me the option of canceling my order and getting my deposit back, but I decided to wait it out. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a similar couch at that price, so I figured it would be worth the wait.
Time continued to pass. The Levitz website happily informed me that the estimated delivery timeframe for my couch was early September. We waited. Our living room waited. Our Netflix rentals waited.
Finally, late last week, I got a call from the salesperson saying our couch had arrived “early”. I paid the balance of the order and scheduled a delivery for the 19th — today. He tried to charge me an $80 delivery fee until I reminded him that I had ordered the couch during a free delivery sale. He agreed to waive the fee and confirmed that our couch would be delivered on the 19th.
When 5:00 rolled around today and the couch hadn’t appeared, I called to see where it was. The San Jose store told me to call the 1-800 number. The 1-800 number told me the couch had been scheduled for pickup, not delivery, and that I would have to call the store and reschedule. I called the store again and waited about 20 minutes before someone finally answered. I started to explain the situation and the woman on the other end interrupted and said, “You need to call the Santa Clara warehouse, they handle deliveries.”
Finally, after I said “please stop talking and listen to me” three times, she shut up and let me explain the problem. She transferred me to the original salesperson, who apologized but for some reason thought it necessary to inform me repeatedly that “the ‘d’ for ‘delivery’ somehow got changed to a ‘p’ for ‘pickup’”. As if that made everything okay.
He rescheduled the delivery for Thursday, which he swore was the earliest day they could possibly deliver. Wonderful.
Thanks Levitz. I guess we’ll be buying our furniture at Ikea from now on.
Update (2007-09-20): I got a call today from a gentleman who identified himself as Levitz’s head of store operations. He apologized for the problems I experienced, assured me they would be addressed, and offered me a $150 gift certificate (which I turned down).
It was a very nice gesture and I’m glad to hear that they’re making an effort to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. I’m not sure whether they learned of my dissatisfaction by finding this blog post or by reading my post-delivery feedback, but either way I’m grateful that they tried to make things right.
Update 2 (2007-09-20): A few hours after the last update, I got a call from the CEO (!) of Levitz. He reiterated their apologies and assured me that they’re working hard on improving things to make sure mixups like this don’t happen. He also asked if there was any way they could make it up to me, but I politely declined.
I've been meaning to do this for a while, but I kept being lazy and doing other things instead: today I launched badparking.org, where I shall wage a valiant battle against parking lot assholery by posting pictures and license plate numbers of cars parked in strange and fascinating ways.
In my last post, I criticized e for being slow and bloated. As it turns out, e's sluggishness and high memory usage were being caused by an
e.db file that had grown too large. Once I removed the huge database and started fresh, e's performance improved dramatically and its memory usage returned to acceptable levels.
As far as I've been able to tell,
%APPDATA%\e\e.db is where e stores preferences and file history data. Over time, as more and more files are edited, this database grows, since it contains branching undo/redo data for every file you edit. The bigger it gets, the longer it takes e to start up and the more memory it appears to use.
E's author says that the memory usage reported by Task Manager includes non-paged virtual memory and isn't indicative of e's actual RAM usage, but he still hasn't responded to the question of why a large
e.db seems to have such a detrimental effect on startup time. He did suggest creating milestones every so often to clear a file's history, so I'll try that and see if it improves things.
In any case, e is running smoothly once more and I'm happy with it again. Hopefully the issues with
e.db will be resolved eventually, but for now they're a minor inconvenience offset by the fact that e is such a pleasure to use in almost every other regard.
Coincidentally, e 1.0 was released today. Get it while it's hot.
On a good day I spend anywhere from 8 to 12 hours writing code. Unfortunately, even though I've been doing this for ten years now, I have yet to find a text editor that satisfies all my needs.
I suspect TextMate would fulfill all my wildest fantasies, but I don't have a Mac. A few months ago I wrote about e, which is currently the closest thing to TextMate for Windows. Sadly, my infatuation with e is quickly wearing off; it gets slower, more bloated, and less stable with each release. Intype shows promise, but is missing some very important features and is apparently being developed by a team of hypothermic sloths with refactoritis.
My needs aren't complex, nor are they numerous:
During a typical debugging session, I have Firefox, IE7, Opera, Safari, and an IE6 VMWare image running in addition to my email client, IM client, several SSH terminals, and my text editor. Every last megabyte of RAM is precious, yet many text editors (especially recent builds of e) have no qualms about gobbling up a hundred megs or more and responding like a pregnant cow in a lake of molasses. You're a fucking text editor, not a goddamn video game. Learn how to manage memory efficiently.
Shareable color schemes in the form of editable files is a must. GUI dialogs that force me to open a color palette and choose each individual color for each individual language construct are an instant disqualifier, especially if I have to do this for every single language (I'm looking at you Aptana).
This comes for free on Windows if you just let the OS render the damn fonts, but plenty of text editors still seem to get this wrong. I have to stare at these fonts all day, every day, so I need them crisp and readable, not pixelated or blurry. If I can't use my favorite font, that's an instant failing grade (suck it, jEdit).
I need to be able to jump to any class, method, CSS selector, etc. instantly, preferably with a hotkey and a few keystrokes. This is one thing that e does very, very well, but that no other Windows text editor can seem to get right. It does me no good if you display the outline in a lovely treeview with expandable nodes for each class and method but don't give me a keyboard shortcut. I'm not going to use the mouse. I refuse. Mouse equals fail.
I don't want auto-indent, I don't want auto-formatting, I don't want auto-complete, I don't want auto-fucking-anything. I know what I'm doing and I want you to get out of my way and let me do it, because if you try to do it for me you'll only fuck it up.
At this point, I've pretty much given up all hope of finding a Windows text editor that does these five simple things and does them well. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm either going to have to return to the dark and painful world of desktop application programming and write my own damn text editor or I'm going to have to bite the bullet, get a Mac, and use TextMate.
Since I don't have the time or the desire to write my own text editor, it's looking like I'll probably end up throwing money at the problem. Sigh.