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Showing posts with label cellphones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cellphones. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 No comments

Charlie, soccer, and a few mini-rants

With a new car in the garage—a 2019 Kia Soul EX—I now have that critical extra seat to take both Mason and Charlie places. I still have the Miata, but I won’t be putting all the miles on it anymore. Of course, that means I “get” to take Charlie to Mason’s soccer practices… which means I don’t get to sit and chat with the other soccer dads quite so much.

The upside is, we bring Charlie his own soccer ball, find an empty nearby field, and let him wear himself out dribbling the ball around. He was, despite his best efforts, completely zorched when we got home tonight.

He’s not terrible at ball control, which isn’t something you can say about many U8 or even some U10 players. His throw-in technique is better than half the players in Mason’s U10 league—ball overhead, both feet planted, no coach could ask for more. His birthday was 8 days past the cut-off for “U4 mini-league” this spring, but I’ll sign him up in the fall. It’ll be hilarious, watching a bunch of 3 year olds swarming the soccer ball… or sitting in the grass and playing in the dirt… (BTW, that’s Mason wearing the red/orange shirt in the background, flailing his arms. He scored a personal-record five goals in last Saturday’s game, although I only saw three because I was busy trying to keep Charlie from bolting onto the field.)

Mini-rant #1: How to get me to sign up for auto-pay
Somehow or another, I missed setting up the payment for last month’s cellphone bill. In a highly uncharacteristic move for AT&T, they didn’t immediately send me a “hey, pay up” email, text, or anything else. I had this nagging “did I pay them?” thing going on, but figured they would let me know if I hadn’t. So I go online to pay this month’s bill, and find the bill is about double what it usually should be. Whatever, I thought, and clicked “Pay My Bill.”

The website immediately started grinding, trying to get its act together, but enough time went by for it to pop up a “hey, are you still there?” notification. I gave up, figuring it was just a temporary glitch. (AT&T’s “up”dated website is gobs slower and far less responsive than the old one, BTW.) Then they had the nerve to pop up a “how are we doing?” notification. I let them know, in spades, then closed the tab. Trying again this evening gave me the same results. I finally went to pay it over the phone using the convenient *729 number. It asked me if I wanted to set up auto-pay… and yeah, why not? Most of my other monthly bills are on autopilot now.

So that’s how to get me to sign up for auto-pay. Conveniently forget to tell me I let one slip, then hose up your website to the point that I can’t get things caught up when I find out.

Mini-rant #2: When auto-pay gives you an Epic FAIL
And then, there’s the credit union’s credit card. I happened to be home last week one afternoon, and the home phone rang. The caller ID read CARSERVICES. Figuring this was a telespammer selling extended warranties, I answered to tie up the phone line (the longer you keep those @$$#0|3$ on the line, the less time they have to bother someone else). To my surprise, it was the credit union, wondering why I hadn’t paid my credit card balance.

“Huh?” I asked. “I had auto-pay set up.”

“Did you pay off the balance?” (I had, two months prior.) “If you pay off the balance, auto-pay automatically cancels.”


I happened to have the credit union website up on my computer at the moment, so I set up an immediate transfer and all was well. Except that I was miffed about auto-pay getting canceled without so much as a “good job, dude, and sayonara” message. Unlike mini-rant #1, I hadn’t forgotten anything—just ASSumed it was taken care of. The other credit cards I have on auto-pay just don’t transfer anything if I haven’t put anything on them, or pay off the balance if it’s less than what I set up on a monthly basis. There’s always a joker in the deck.

Mini-rant #3: Taxing taxes
Unlike many people, I don’t mind paying taxes. They keep the roads paved, provide food and healthcare to (not enough of) those who need it, run schools, and keep essential emergency services going. Are there things I wish they would do instead of other things I wish they wouldn’t? Oh heck yes. But overall, it’s better to contribute to the general welfare and reap the benefits. If you want to see what happens when you don’t have taxes, spend a few months in Somalia.

Anyway. I’ve been pretty good about getting the federal/state tax returns done in recent years, usually in late February or early March. This year was different, through no fault of my own for a change. We got our W-2s (as usual) right at the end of the January 31st deadline… but before I could grab the tax software and get to work, I got an email from work. In essence, it said, “the payroll company screwed up the W-2s, and we’ll get fixes to you ASAP.”

Weeks went by, and then months, without fixes. Some of us would email HR on occasion, and get the same response: “they haven’t fixed it yet, we’ll let you know.”

FINALLY, in the first week of April, they rolled out the fixes. It just so happened that I was out of town that week, so it was the week after before I could do anything about it. The wife and I both have business stuff to deal with, so it’s not just a matter of slapping down a few numbers and sending it off. Fortunately, it turns out the IRS has a way of filing for an extension online… and I wasn’t the only one who was up against the gun. The father in law needed some extra time as well.

With any luck, I’ll be able to finish up this weekend. Even with all the games Ch*mp played with withholding, there should be a refund.

Sound off!
What’s your rant du jour? Or maybe you have a new car you want to tell me about? :) Drop a comment, I love 'em.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 No comments

(Partially) Disconnected

A couple weeks ago, I noticed my phone was starting to discharge a lot faster than normal. Thinking I had issues with an app not being cooperative, I checked the app consumption levels in Settings and made a couple of adjustments. I usually could get a day and a half out of my phone with normal use, plugging it into the car charger on the way in or out of the office if needed. But it got to where normal use gave me about five hours of battery life.

I finally set up a call with Apple support, and the tech set me up with a repair ticket. In case you weren't aware, Apple is replacing batteries (if needed) on certain iPhone models (including iPhone 6, my particular phone) for $29… and $5 shipping if you do it by mail instead of bringing it in. Seeing that a DIY battery replacement was $25 about three years ago, I figured this was a no-brainer.

Fits in the palm of your hand… with room to spare.
I was now temporarily phone-less. Or was I? When I got the 6, I retired my iPhone 4, the one I'd replaced the battery in, repurposing it essentially as an expensive iPod touch. The SIM won't fit in it, which I expected, so it’s Wi-Fi only. I can still message the wife and DD, and even make and take calls using FaceTime. I was hoping to use it for Skype, but the app only gives you the option to upgrade and the current version won't work on the older phone. (thankyouverymuch, Microsoft)

Whatever. Where there's Wi-Fi, there's the ability to contact family, anyway. I spent the weekend weeding off old pictures and older messages (this phone was in service from 2012 to 2016), and got a GB or so freed up to download podcasts for the commute. I'll probably start deleting apps soon, starting with Twitter—it crashes too often, and of course I can't upgrade it. Next up will be stuff I never use or works equally poorly. That should get me through the week, then I should get my primary phone back.

Quite the size difference
One nice thing is getting re-acquainted with several games that are no longer supported on the newer systems—Bejeweled 2 and Sudoku Mania, to name two. Some newer games still work on it as well… Smash Hit is a surprising example that does occasionally hit a frame-rate stutter. But it feels so tiny, reminding me of my skepticism about a phone that was too long to nestle down into a shirt pocket. I guess I adjusted quickly.

The other thing I like is the speaker dock. It, like the 4, has the older dock connector. So I can't put the new phone on it. I guess when I get my primary phone back, I'll erase the old one and find someone who needs it more than me. They can also take the speaker dock, since it doubles as a charging station.

But it'll be nice to hang out with the '4 for the week ahead. Our last hurrah, so to speak. Charlie glommed it this evening, and was adamant about not giving it back, so I pulled up the Bubbles app for him (one of those that doesn't work on newer phones) while he clung to it and fussed. (I guess he figured a little bitty phone is meant for a little bitty user.) He played with it for half an hour, maybe more. I remember letting Mason play with the phone when he was like 3 or 4, and he discovered the Camera app. I locked my '6 when I got it, but he had access to an iPad mini (and an original iPad) by then. He still tries to wheedle my passcode out of me, though.

I had a bit of heartburn this evening, when I received a shipping box from Apple (2 days after I sent the phone off!). I got on the chatline with Apple Support, and they verified the box had been shipped by mistake and everything was in the queue. Oh well, now I have a SIM remover tool… no more paper clips!

'Course, this means I'll be hard to reach this week. Email me… or leave a comment here!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 4 comments

Maintenance Monday

A vacation in Michigan is wonderful, but then there’s the return to the routine and outright misery that is FAR Manor. Nevertheless, I took an extra vacation day yesterday, partly to get a little rest before getting back to work and partly to take care of some things.

Vacation was altogether lovely. We stayed at the Ramada Plaza, at 28th St. and East Beltline, the heart of the retail district and a 10-minute drive from both Other Brother’s place and the place where Dad is now staying. The Plaza has a shallow pool with a high waterslide, and Mason loved the pool. He finally worked up the nerve later in the week to take the waterslide, first with Daughter Dearest and then with me, and then on Friday (our last night) he unlocked the “go it solo” achievement.

The day before we left for Michigan, my phone (iPhone 4) began acting up—powering down and restarting whenever I tried to do anything that involved the display (and that’s why I have no pix to share for now; DD will share soon). I assumed the phone needed to be restored, and worked through it that night with no luck. During the week, I figured out that I could use it for hours if I left it plugged in, which pointed to the battery. Fortunately, iFixit has parts and entire replacement kits (which include necessary tools), along with extensive instructions and videos, and the kit was $25 including shipping. Fighting the Ramada Plaza’s thoroughly crappy hotel wifi, the biggest downside to the place, I managed to place the order and the kit arrived on Monday.

But the mail runs around noon at FAR Manor, so I had the entire morning to change the oil in the Miata. This was something that needed doing a few weeks ago, so it got priority. Turned out I already had enough oil, and just needed a filter. (And an oil drain plug gasket, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

Changing oil is pretty straightforward: put the car up on ramps, loosen the filler cap on top of the motor, the drain plug underneath, and the filter on the side. The top and side can be done by hand, the bottom requires a 19mm wrench. You want a pan to catch the oil, a few rags to wipe up spills… and a new plug gasket. I’d neglected the last part, and ended up with the car spitting a cup of oil on the garage floor when I started it for the leak-check. Off to the parts store for a replacement, which required the van. Since the van needed new wiper blades, no problem. I lost another cup of oil when I loosened the plug, although that was expected. I kept a thumb over the drain hole and put the new gasket on with the other hand. Sloppy, but not difficult.

Then, I figured out what was needed to fix the windshield washers—a Y-connector had come apart and the fluid was going down the rain drain. Since the wife was going that way again anyway, I tagged along to get a replacement.

With the car dealt with, I finally got to the phone surgery. I have a floor lamp with a magnifier, and at my age it’s not an option for doing detailed things like this. To keep tiny screws from escaping to freedom, I did everything inside the shipping box. I was struck by the similarities between the battery swap and the oil change: three screws, a couple of specialty items (ramps vs. plastic pry tool), a little care when reassembling… and each took about the same amount of time. The differences were primarily those of scale and sloppiness.

The insides of an iPhone4,
with the new battery ready to install.
With repairs effected, and vacation over, things can get back to normal. Ouch.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 4 comments

Writing Wibbles

Between the day job and the family, sometimes I have to snatch writing time when and where I can find it. I’ve done plenty of handwriting onto notepads and journals, but then I have to type it all up again. Sometimes, it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes, it just feels like a hassle.

Technology is a wonderful thing (as long as the batteries hold up, of course). If there was a way to have something about as portable as a writing journal, but doesn’t force you to write it twice, why not use it?

Behold, it really does exist!

The required ingredients are a smartphone, a Bluetooth keyboard, and +Evernote. I have to take off my glasses to read, so they make a fine phone stand. As you can see, the A key on the keyboard has gone to the Great Computer Room in the Sky, but it only took a little adjusting on my part. All of the components here can be substituted—use a tablet instead of a phone, use whatever Bluetooth keyboard will pair with it, use Dropbox or Google Docs instead of Evernote. The whole point is to have something you can type into, then copy/paste from Evernote into your normal writing tool.

This rig does get some attention when I’m at lunch. People come by to see what I’m typing into, or just what it is I’m doing. They want to know how it works, and sometimes what I’m writing.

Monday, April 02, 2012 3 comments

Changing It Around

I didn't set out to do this, but various failures over the weekend kicked off several minor technology changes today. It's like my gadgetry forgot to stop pranking me once April Fools' Day ended…

The old iPhone earbuds I've had since the 3G days are officially worn out: the left earbud has very little audio coming through. I don't know why I put up with that as long as I have, especially since I have a working pair of iPod earbuds (no clicker) and some higher-end things. I'd love to use my Bluetooth stereo headset, but it's good for about six hours and I need at least eight to get me through the workday. Right now, I'm using a pair of Future Sonics in-ear 'phones that I won some years back. I miss the clicker to start/stop my music (or answer the phone), but better that than no left channel.

The iOS Twitter client has become increasingly annoying, especially since IT has made Twitter's webapp unuseable. I need the ability to manage my lists from my phone if I can't use the webapp (or the official OSX Twitter client, for that matter). The last straw was yesterday, when the app decided to not update my Mentions anymore. I downloaded the free (ad-supported) version of Echofon this morning and like it better already. I can manage my lists, and the ads only appear in the primary timeline. The only two drawbacks so far: you have to switch out of Lists to tweet (unless replying/RTing) and I don't think new followers appear in the Mentions column like they do on the webapp.

Finally, I've started using Evernote instead of PlainText to write draft blog posts and story scenes while mobile. The Evernote app doesn't have ads and pulling a draft out of Evernote into Scrivener is about the same amount of effort as pulling it out of Dropbox (where PlainText saves stuff).

Technology can be such a PITA. I'm editing White Pickups on paper, and the only thing I have to worry about there is Mason snatching the pen out of the stack and thereby losing my place.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 2 comments

Moan about Phones

Everyone welcome me back to the frustrating world of feature phones. Given the bills we have, Mrs. Fetched had been complaining for a long time about how much having iPhones cost us, and when my iPhone 3G started flaking out just as our contract was finished, it seemed like the time to downgrade.

Just to make things a little simpler, all three of us (the parental units plus Daughter Dearest) got Sony-Ericsson W518a “Walkman” phones. I usually steer clear of Sony products, since they seem to go out of their way to make them incompatible with Macs sometimes, but they offer software on their website to connect with iSync and iLife apps, so I thought I’d make an exception. Everything pretty much works as advertised. Because we’re on AT&T, and not Verizon, we can connect a USB cable (or use Bluetooth) and copy pictures to the computer, music and ringtones from the computer, and so forth.

Feature phones have made noticeable advancements in the last two years: they’re faster, have more megapixels in the camera of course, they play AAC as well as MP3 files, some have FM radios built in, and the default web browsers are a little better. But what hasn’t changed is the horrendous interface: a twisty maze of menus, all different. This led to an epiphany of sorts on my part: people are missing what the iPhone really did different. It isn’t the app store; I can press one button on my Sony to visit an app store. It isn't the touch screen; for some things buttons work better. What the iPhone did that’s radically different is twofold:

1) Everything (including the phone) is an application.
2) All apps can be accessed equally, or in a low hierarchy defined by the user.

Feature phones provide a lot of the same features that iPhones have, and several (including FM and even XM radio) that iPhones don’t have — or got after the 3G (camera controls, video recording, voice control) — if you can remember which cascade of menus to step through to find them. On an iPhone, or any related device (iPad, iPod touch), the menu is the main screen. That’s it. Yes, there are hierarchies, but they consist of a strip of icons at the bottom that appear on all pages, and a double-click of the Home button to return you to the first page. For most people, up to two flicks and a tap start any app on the iPhone.

I remember enjoying Platinum Sudoku on my old feature phone (a Samsung Sync), so I bought it for my new phone. To get to it, I have to: click the Menu button, press 9 (the “Entertainment” sub-menu), arrow-down twice to Games, select, then arrow-down four times to get past the demoware they stuff on all non-iPhones… then I can (pant, wheeze) select the Sudoku game. On an iPhone, I’d have already been filling in spaces by now.

Why can’t feature phones have a better user interface (besides the obvious, carriers and manufacturers are lazy and complacent)? Shoot, borrow a leaf from the iPhone. Display up to nine icons on the screen (optionally overlaid with numbers), use the 1–9 button grid to pick the app you want, left and right function keys move from page to page, arrow keys are programmable like they are now. You’ve got the buttons, make them work for you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010 2 comments

Pack Rats Rule, and a Farewell to iPhone

Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way

With The Boy working (he has A JOB!!!), and Daughter Dearest back to college, I’ve had to jump back on the motorcycle and ride to work. I got a chain, put it on, got it adjusted, and all that a couple weekends ago, so that was no problem. The problem is, I’ve been carrying the iPad to work with me and there’s the occasional “slight” chance of rain for that ride home in the afternoon. I thought, what I need is a waterproof pouch that I can stick the case in, and decided I’d make a run to the motorcycle shop to see if they had anything.

As it turned out… I was looking for Mason’s sling one day this week and found something else — a zip-sealed plastic pouch that the case came in! Not only is it waterproof, it’s a perfect fit and it was free with the case. WIN! I remember when I got the case, thinking I might be able to use that pouch for something… at last, the pack rat in me gets the best of the situation! Of course, now that I have the pouch, I haven’t needed to worry about rain.

Now that August is winding down, and our cellphone contract along with it, Mrs. Fetched wanted to go into the AT&T office and see what we could save by dumping our iPhones. Mine has been flaky for several months now, and what with the iPad and numerous open wifi spots between the office and home, I’ve been ready to walk away from having a cellphone at all. Of course, Mrs. Fetched didn’t want that — while she pitched her objection as me being able to call her if I have a problem, the actual situation is that she wants to be able to reach out and nag me whenever and wherever. :-) But I digress. We went in to have a look, and it turned out that after saving $120 a month (by dropping the iPhones and reducing our minutes to something closer to our average usage), dropping my phone line would save only another $10.

Grumble… time to pick a phone and hope it works well with Macs. I tentatively decided on a Sony-Ericsson W518a, a “Walkman” phone. They have Mac drivers on their website to sync with iCal and Address Book, and another one for iTunes/iPhoto. It’s not a perfectly smooth solution, but I doubt that anything short of an iPhone would be. But since we won’t pull the trigger on this stuff until Tuesday, I’m open to suggestions (has to be on AT&T, though).

Episode 50 of White Pickups is pretty big, so I split it up into Monday and Tuesday posts. Stay tuned to see what Johnny had in mind…

Wednesday, July 07, 2010 3 comments

Dust and Fallout

As the dust begins to settle on vacation, we also ponder the fallout of The Boy and Snippet. As usual, they pushed things right to the limit while we were gone. I made a deal with them that they could use my laptop, and I'd leave it logged on for them, if they didn’t have any visitors staying overnight. They managed to stay within the letter of the agreement, even if they trampled the spirit thereof: one person slept in the detached garage (but not in the house!), and Lobster (who is banned from the manor permanently) came to visit. M.A.E. and DoubleRed were both here and their stories pretty much agree. Now The Boy and Snippet are planning to move out since they don’t think we’re being fair. But Mrs. Fetched has an ace in the hole, and I will talk about that if and when the time comes.

Mason holding a daisyAs you might have surmised from the vacation post, Mason is doing a pretty good job of walking — and he’s getting better at it. He’s also waking up at night a lot; I think he’s so active right now that he’s not getting enough food to fuel the legs and needs that midnight snack.

Of course, I have to include a photo — especially since it’s so cute. I think I should get an award for this one, don’t you?

Oh, M.A.E. (and Moptop) are still here. They were going to move in with Big V, but M.A.E. didn’t really want to do that — see, I told you she was smarter than she gives herself credit for! Seriously: if Snippet made the effort that M.A.E. does to raise her kid and improve her lot in life, she’d be doing pretty good right now and she wouldn’t have any friction around here to complain about.

While I was on vacation, my iPhone really started to act up: when it gets warm, the entire unit resets itself and comes up to the “plug me into iTunes” graphic. This happened even when I removed the SIM and/or put the iPhone in Airplane mode (which turns off the phone), so that kind of put a cramp in my whole Skype-phone scheme. While I’m completely on Skype now, phone-wise, if I want to have a wifi phone I need to carry the iPad (if I don’t have $200 for an iPhone 4, I certainly don’t have $300 for a newer iPod touch). Fortunately, work isn’t blocking Skype so I can leave the app running on the work computer. The home and work MacBooks pair with a Jawbone I have laying around, but there are some strange audio issues going on there — I haven’t had a chance to try messing with it just yet.

If I get a chance, I’ll do a vacation photo-post this weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010 2 comments

Phone Booth at the Crossroads

After a few calls to support, and a little troubleshooting on my own, I’ve concluded that my iPhone 3G is pretty much toast. It works OK until it gets warm, then the phone part blows a gasket and thinks it needs to be restored. The rest of the phone works fine when this happens, including the wifi; if I turn it off and let it cool down, it comes back like nothing ever happened.

With the new iPhone 4 out, you might think this was a wonderful excuse to upgrade… but Mrs. Fetched has been complaining about the phone bill for a while and put a preemptive kibosh on upgrading. The two small areas between the manor and the retail district where we lose signal are (for her) a reason to go back to Verizon. But smartphones on Verizon are even more expensive than on AT&T, and frankly I’d rather not have a cellphone at all than live with how Verizon cripples their not-so-smart phones.

So I’m seriously considering a more radical move: keep the ailing iPhone, remove the SIM card, and turn it into a Skype phone. The IdioTs at work block wifi access for personal equipment, but that’s what an office phone is for. There are plenty of open wifi hotspots between work and the retail district, and I really shouldn’t be on the phone in the car anyway, right?

Doing a little figuring in my head, it seems like I could probably do all the phone stuff I really need on Skype for maybe $10/month, maybe a little more. For what I’m paying to have an iPhone, a few inconveniences don’t seem all that substantial…

Friday, August 29, 2008 2 comments

It’s a Family Affair

Plenty of stuff to blog about this week, but no time to sit down and write it.

We took several treks to downtown Atlanta, specifically Atlanta Medical Center (aka “the old Georgia Baptist”), where Jam has been recovering from her little mishap last weekend. The final tally was: mild concussion, bruised spine, lots of bruising around her hips, no internal injuries. Fortunately. She’ll be coming home tomorrow. The docs didn’t want her by herself, though… so when I said coming home, I meant that literally. As in, to FAR Manor. Hey, her kids have been here all week. That hasn’t made much of a difference in things; they used to get off the bus here last year and hang out with Daughter Dearest — the only real difference was that I had to get up a little earlier and drop them off at school. No biggie; it was raining 'most all week so I was in the car anyway and the school is right along the way.

As I also mentioned in passing last weekend, Mrs. Fetched got me an iPhone 3G. It's really nice to only have to carry one gadget now: phone, music, camera, and a few games all stuck in this package that just invites you to caress it. If there was a way to connect a keyboard, I could use it for most of what I do with a computer now. As it is, I’m already dealing with 80% of my personal mail on the iPhone… finally, a gadget I can pick up in the morning and check out the state of the universe before getting out of bed. Daughter Dearest “recovered” the iPod touch, which should suit her quite well because her campus has wifi pretty much everywhere.

The glaring omission, IMO, is that it doesn’t pull in the to-do list from iCal. Hunh? Kind of an obvious thing to miss. There are certainly other flaws… the battery lasts just long enough to get through the day, although getting a car charger (like with all our other phones current and past) will help a lot with that. I’ll just need to rig something up for the bike… maybe a little foam cradle in the airbox with a charger cable would do the job. The cool thing is, there’s a lot of public wifi access in this otherwise benighted corner of the world. I’m starting to put together something on Google Maps to mark them, wherever they might be. Seems like something that would be just the thing for Google Maps, but there doesn’t seem to be one at the moment.

Mrs. Fetched still doesn’t have her iPhone up. After it sat on iTunes for over 24 hours without activating, I called AT&T sales and explained the situation (we got a used iPhone from her sister and we’re trying to pull her line over from Verizon). The salesperson transferred us to a support person — which was what I’d hoped for — and she told us we needed a new SIM card (the store person said we didn’t). So I took the phone in Thursday while working at home, and the guy at the store was reluctant to do anything because the account is in Mrs. Fetched’s name. He probably would have done it, had I thought to bring a Verizon bill along, but he needed the account number there and I didn’t have it. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we’ll fix it tomorrow, it’s only a SIM card away…

Daughter Dearest is home for the 3-day weekend, hooray! She about ran Mrs. Fetched ragged just talking about her first week. Something I was glad to hear: “I walk everywhere. It doesn’t make sense to drive.” I think she’s already getting a little toned. There’s a couple of guys who like to hang around her, of course, and she & her roommate get along quite well. The people next door are noisy in the evenings, which seems to be the only fly in the ointment — they have an Xbox and boys are visiting every night until midnight curfew. (Which goes to show, you don’t need a hot body to attract a guy… just an Xbox.)

Mrs. Fetched asked her how her classes are going. “OK… but hard.” She was a bit miffed when one of the music instructors told her to “forget everything you learned in high school, because it’s wrong.” Other than that, she’s doing well with her voice coach and her other music classes. She has to put something together for a recital in a couple of months, and finally convinced someone that 8 years of piano lessons should be enough to skip Piano I. And maybe II. Her Bible instructor was funny; someone asked, “Do we need a Bible for this class?” His response: “Only if you want to pass it.” Um… you think?

And that’s the week in review. FAR Future will appear at its regularly scheduled 7a.m. Monday time; I’m like three episodes ahead, thank God. Short week next week, followed by a week of vacation… I hope the chicken houses will let Mrs. Fetched have some time too.

Saturday, February 24, 2007 3 comments

Podcast from FAR Manor #4 — News, phones, music

After an unwanted January hiatus, I have returned to the podwaves! I’ve got the latest news from the free-range insane asylum, cellphone chatter, and an interview with Daughter Dearest’s band.

Listen up! direct link (14.7MB MP3) | archive page (listen online)

Here’s a shot of the band, practicing in the big garage…

…and their Myspace page, with more music and even a logo!


00:00 - Intro
01:51 - News from FAR Manor
04:33 - Shiny Things, the all-cellphone edition (scoring iPhone predictions, Samsung Sync)
09:33 - An interview with the band “Short Buss”
23:52 - Wrap-up

Thanks to everyone out there listening to these podcasts. If you have comments or suggestions, feel free to leave comments here, on the archive page, or email text (or even audio comments) to FARfetched58 at aim.com.

Production Notes
Audio was recorded using an XtremeMac MicroMemo iPod accessory, a Samsung Sync, and a Blue Snowball USB mike (and that’s why the audio changes here and there). Audio files were edited on a MacBook Pro, running 10.4.8, using Audacity 1.3.2 beta.

Theme music: “Jump Around” by Psycho Maniak (no link/contact info available — help!).

Audio content hosted on:
The Internet Archive

Friday, January 19, 2007 4 comments

As if the laptop wasn’t enough…

My new cellphone decided to get in on the act. I guess the first inkling that something wasn’t right was when the alarm didn’t go off this morning. The Sync has a really nice alarm on it; you can tell it when to go off and what days to go off (so you don’t have to remember to turn it off Friday night and back on Sunday night), and has a pleasant chime tone.

This morning at work, I checked the phone and found it was off. Turning it on got only to the initial screen… over and over and over again. I yanked the battery and tried again — same result. I ended up pulling everything out of the phone that could be pulled: battery, SIM card, and flash card, and let it sit for about an hour. Same result.

With Dad on his way, I wanted an excuse to leave work early anyway. Liz at the Cingular store took a look, listened to what I’d done to try getting its attention, and immediately went to the back to get me a new phone. I told her I’d downloaded a ringtone (they gave out a freebie for re-upping my contract, sigh) and she credited the bill so I could get another copy. I had to get “Brick House” for Mrs. Fetched’s special ringtone. The ringtone I’d made and the picture I was using for wallpaper were on the flash card, fortunately. I guess I’ll make sure I copy anything else I download onto the flash card from now on. The only thing I have to worry about now is my address book, and I can copy what I had on the old phone from my work computer.

I guess I’ll have to stop referring to them as Stinkular, if they keep up that kind of service. Then again, they’re going to be AT&T anyway.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 5 comments


A handful of things that didn’t necessary merit their own posts…

Fury asked for a close-up of the yellow flowers growing all over the manor grounds; here it is. They’re about the size of a nickel. Whatever they are, they’re very prolific. Click on the picture to get something larger than life.

Mixed emotions: some time last night, I dropped my smellphone in the driveway. The Boy found it, after someone either stepped on it or ran it over (or Mrs. Fetched’s dog played with it). The screen, amazingly, is OK; but everything else seems to be in worse shape than it looks. The keyboard doesn’t key, and it doesn’t recognize the sync cable. I stuffed my SIM card into an old Nokia we had laying around, and it worked, so whoever smooshed the Moto didn’t do a good enough job. Yay, maybe I’ll get a new phone with a decent camera — boo, new phone = extended contract.

Daughter Dearest came down, asked, “are you blogging my singing?” (She’s working on a piece for her All-State Chorus audition on Saturday.) I hadn’t planned to, but since she said something…. Then she saw the flower picture and forgot about it. Man. She’ll also be 17 on Saturday — I hope the audition judges give her a b-day present, although she’s good enough that she really doesn’t need it.

Wow, did the Tigers open up a can of Whoop-Ass on the Yankers or what? I hope they have another one for the A’s. And one more for the Series. I might have to get interested in baseball for a couple of weeks.

Driving the Sunfire makes me miss my Civic. It does what it needs to, getting decent gas mileage in the process, but it feels as heavy as a truck in some ways. I’m sure new struts (like the Civic got) will help, but I don’t think it will ever feel as nimble. Not to mention the stereo. Or the lack of cruise control. Or the two-acre dashboard (seriously, I’m thinking of Velcro’ing some plants up there).

I guess kerosene heaters are like the last consumer product that don’t try to be idiot-proof and are designed to be serviced by the end-user. I haven’t tried firing it up yet, though: I need fresh kerosene, at $3/gal. I’ll probably get to it Thursday night or maybe over the weekend.

What little things are on your mind today?

Friday, May 19, 2006 2 comments

Minute by minute

I should have known that this would bite us in the @$$ some day.

When we got our smellphones, we wound up on a rather generous plan, minute-wise. We signed up for more than we needed at the moment, plus what we don't use rolls over for up to a year. So we had a pretty big pile of minutes. Had.

Turns out that M.A.E. and her totally screwed-up friend (call her Miss T, or Misty), with a little help from the rest of us (but only a little, mind you) managed to run through all our rollover minutes, plus all our monthly allocation, plus some more. The upshot was a $320 smellphone bill. And both of these goofballs managed to lose their jobs at Wendy’s in the last couple of weeks. I was more than a little cheesed to find the two-hour conference call I was stuck on week before last cost me $11 for that one call (to an 800 number no less). I don’t know why I didn’t think of using the home phone for that; probably because it hasn’t been an issue up to now.

I was ready to throw all the phones, mine included, in a drawer and leave them alone for a month or so. Naturally, Mrs. Fetched balked at that — anything that inconveniences her is a non-starter, especially if I suggest it. For reasons totally unfathomable by male logic, she also didn’t collect the phone from M.A.E.

It’s probably a good thing that both M.A.E. and Misty haven’t been around for the last couple of days. Maybe they’ll grow up, get jobs, and find their own place(s) to live. Maybe pigs will come flying out my butt in the next 10 minutes. They’re both about as likely.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3 comments

Stinkular and their smell-phone “service”

Wife got the Stinkular bill today, and almost ended up like that guy on the T-Mobile commercial. $380.

M.A.E. didn’t realize that just downloading ringtones runs up charges... she thought you only had to pay for the ones you keep. OOOOOPS

Daughter Dearest called... Turkey?!!??? three times because a number from there showed up on the phone. Fortunately, it was “only” $2+change for each call. She also downloaded a ringtone, but only one.

The Boy’s phone showed like 4000 minutes of usage, thanks to M.A.E. being on it almost constantly, talking to family in Florida. He tends to be the heaviest user in the family without her help.... That’s going to change, she has her own pre-paid phone now. I wonder how long it will be until she talks it to death.

OK, none of that is Stinkular’s fault. Their problem (besides the signal dropping out in inopportune places, like my office... “raising the bar,” my fartpipe) is that they have a bad habit of trying to double-bill add-ons like MediaNet service. I have it on my phone, primarily so I can email pictures off the camera and do occasional forays online. But they try to bill my phone and The Boy’s.

It’s not like it’s the first time they’ve tried to pull this crap. We wind up going into the st00p1d store each time we get the bill because they’ve messed something up. They take it off, but it comes back just about every time. Seems like they fix one thing, they screw up another. I guess the retarded howler monkeys from the hospital’s billing department moonlight at Stinkular. Or the other way around.

If it’s Cingular to you, what’s your secret? One phone, barebones service?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 No comments

Shiny objects, Boy update, beer, tunes

I didn't get a RAZR yesterday, “just” a V220. Neither the Mrs. nor I were really comfortable spending $200 on a phone; $100 was enough as it is. My primary concern was having a phone that talks to my iBook, and I settled on the V220 instead of the next model up since it has a USB port and I don't need video (the still-camera phone is good enough). I need to get a data cable; leave it to Moto to use a non-standard pinout so we can't use the camera cable that I already have.

The Boy is still at my sister-in-law's. She asked us if we wanted him to come home today; our response was “he has to make that decision.” He & his girlfriend are eating a lot of chow, and they're both going to be paying rent when their checks from the lodge they're working at start coming in. He called last night to talk to the Mom-unit; they managed to stay civil since he was wanting lunch money for school. Daughter Dearest took him $20 this morning. I expect he'll stay in school until he's 18, then quit (he has to do that to keep his driver's license).

I bottled my beer (a stout) last night, after two weeks of fermenting: four 750ml (24 oz.) bottles and 42 regular 12 oz. bottles. I thought it smelled wonderful, although the female family members disagreed. Maybe about three or four weeks from now, it'll be ready to drink.

One of the other things I got at the flea market on Saturday were three CDs from World Wide Message Tribe — they since changed their name to The Tribe, then shut down as a band. That's a shame; their music was high-energy Christian dance, a variety of trance and hip-hop that was nothing like I've heard from musicians around here. Unfortunately, not all Christian music is nearly as fun to listen to.

Look for a brief review of the Left Behind series soon.


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