Rants

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Raid “kills bugs dead?” Not on my watch.

Posted by Office-Bob on 08 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: General Craziness, Rants

This just in from the “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” department:

Those who know me well are aware that it drives me up the wall when I see or hear news reports that use the phrases “shot dead” or “shot to death”*
because, last time I checked, it was highly unlikely someone could be shot alive or shot to life.

When I encounter these words I wonder how difficult or time-wasting it would be to just use “shot and killed” or “shot and wounded,” which convey the same information but suit my small, self-centered world and help keep my blood pressure down?

I know, it’s minor – some might even say trivial – but that’s just how I roll.

I was reminded of this again today when I saw the following headline in a local paper:

Chinese police shoot dead tourist bus hijacker

When I read this headline my thoughts were:

1) How could a dead person manage to hijack a tourist bus in the first place?
2) If the hijacker were dead, why would the police even bother shooting him?
3) Is this the start of the inevitable zombie apocalypse?

Another paper, while still managing to piss me off, said it somewhat more accurately:

Chinese police shoot tourist bus hijacker dead

Okay…we’re still dealing with the “is it possible to shoot someone alive?” question, but at least it’s an improvement over the idea of zombie bus hijackings.

Here’s how I’d have written the headline:

Chinese police shoot, kill tourist bus hijacker

See what I did there? I switched one 4-letter word for another and added a single comma. Come on, news writers and editors, is it really that hard?

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Popularity: 41% [?]

Dear Telemarketers

Posted by Office-Bob on 12 Dec 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

I grew up in a family environment in which phone calls were rarely made or received after 10 pm, and only then if the circumstances were important enough to warrant it. As a result, any time the phone rings after 10 I automatically assume, right or wrong, that something bad has happened and that I’m being called with bad news. Fortunately, my friends understand this quirk and are good about not calling that late so it’s usually not an issue.

I remember an instance many years ago where I was receiving calls late in the evening for an “escort agency” whose number was one digit off of mine; it got so bad that I unplugged the phone and let the answering machine take everything, only to find out as I played back messages the next morning that one call was from my mother, informing me that my grandfather (her father) had just died.

As you can guess, I’m of the firm belief that nothing good has ever come from late-night phone calls.

Recent events have only reinforced this belief and because of said events, I am now going to post An Open Letter to Telemarketers.

Dear Telemarketers:

I understand that there are jobs out there which people do not approve of, and yet “must” be done (for the record, I class telemarketers in the same “necessary” category as carrion-eaters, leeches and river flukes).

I understand that technology has made it easy to automate certain things, such as dialing phone numbers.

I can even understand the desire to use recorded messages in order to achieve the maximum amount of potential customer contact.

I don’t even mind (well, not much) getting calls during the “dinner hour” as it’s my choice to answer the phone or let the answering machine take the call.

HOWEVER.

Let’s get a few things straight, shall we? Here are my Rules for Telemarketers:

1) If you’re going to use an automatic dialer combined with a live person, design your system so the person trying to waste my time is there as soon as I pick up the phone; I’m tired of answering a call only to be subjected to dead air while your minimum wage drone finally realizes there’s a warm body on the other end of the line.

2) If you’re using an auto dialer with a recording, invest in technology that will terminate the call if an answering machine is reached (and if there is no such technology, start looking into developing it). At first glance it may seem pointless but think about it…every call that’s stuck on a machine is taking up valuable time that could be spent calling another number and bothering that person, and the law of averages would indicate that more calls = more potential sales.

3) Don’t be offended if, when you call me, I hang up on you whether or not I first politely say I’m not interested…on second thought, scratch that as I really don’t give a damn if I’ve offended you.

4) Last but not least, to whoever was using 604-270-7289 to call me at 3 in the morning to simply beep at me…IF I EVER FIND OUT WHO THE HELL YOU ARE I’M COMING OVER TO YOUR HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, AT WHICH TIME I WILL BE TAKING YOUR TELEPHONE, SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASS*, THEN REMOVING IT, SETTING IT ON FIRE AND SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASS A SECOND TIME WHILE YELLING “BEEP!” OVER AND OVER IN YOUR EAR AS I LAUGH HYSTERICALLY AND WATCH YOU WRITHE IN AGONY.

*Of course, I’ll be wearing rubber gloves during this process as I believe in safe, sanitary fun.

Popularity: 45% [?]

Random Observations from a Downtown Pedestrian

Posted by Office-Bob on 02 Nov 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

Thoughts that have popped into my head in my travels to/from work in Downtown Vancouver…

To the Paris Hilton wannabe in Dior shades (I know what brand they are because they have the Dior logo in big fucking letters on the side): It’s bad enough to make your pocket dog wear a pink parka, complete with hood (although we should be thankful it didn’t have wolf fur around the edge) in public, but at least give him some time to check his pee-mail without yanking his lead…there are plenty of lowfat decaf fauxpucchinos at Starbucks to go around.

To the numerous umbrella wielders who consider their rain-guards to be weapons: You know, when you hold your umbrella as if it were a sword you come off more like Basil Fawlty than Basil Rathbone…and when you swing your arms back and forth as you walk, you’re only pissing off the people behind you who would rather not be jabbed in the (insert sensitive body part here) because you’re TOO FUCKING INCONSIDERATE TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOU’RE SWINGING THAT THING!

To the people who can’t travel in a straight line when moving from Point A to Point B: Unless you’re a) under the influence of mind-altering substances or b) swerving around one of the many panhandlers on the sidewalk, how about making it easier for those of us who walk faster to get past you?

To the cyclists: Do you see that well-marked section of the road? That’s a “bike path.” Do you see this stretch of cement we’re walking on? This is a “sideWALK.” Get it? It’s not a “sideRIDE,” or a “sideSWERVE AROUND PEDESTRIANS,” so kindly get your head out of your ass, remove the earbuds from your ears, and LET US PEDESTRIANS MOVE AROUND WITHOUT HAVING TO DEAL WITH YOUR INABILITY TO PLAY NICE WITH OTHERS.

To the drivers of all the assorted cars, trucks, vans, transit buses and other motorized vehicles: WHY IN THE FLAMING FUCK ARE YOU TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND THAT IF THE INTERSECTION ISN’T CLEAR, YOU SHOULDN’T DRIVE INTO IT IN THE HOPES THAT THE TRAFFIC WILL MOVE AGAIN BEFORE THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND YOU’RE STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERSECTION? BY THE SEVEN FLAMING HELLS OF ASHTAROTH, WHO DID YOU HAVE TO FUCK TO GET YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSES?

Dear Tourists: welcome to Vancouver! It’s great to have visitors from Dog River, Saskatchewan visit our fair city and while we’re aware that we have a lot of interesting buildings – most more than 4 stories high – we would respectfully ask that when you want to stop and gawk you refrain from doing so in the middle of the sidewalk (or in the case of one person I witnessed, run into the middle of the street to take a picture) so those of us not on vacation can get to work on time.

To the people talking on their cellphones via Bluetooth headsets: Are you aware that with the exception of the way you’re dressed (though not always) and the lack of profanity (see previous comment), you’re mostly indistinguishable from the homeless people talking to themselves as they stumble around? I’m just sayin’.

To the Crackberry and iPod addicts, obliviously wandering the streets while diddling with their technoporn: The concept of multitasking involves doing many things at once, and since you don’t seem to be able to handle walking and operating one piece of gear without bumping into people or stumbling over your own feet, you don’t qualify. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you deserve to know you’re not as nimble as you may think you are.

Popularity: 38% [?]

Today’s episode of “What’s wrong with people these days?” may be brought to you by CUPE and the City of Vancouver

Posted by Office-Bob on 24 Aug 2007 | Tagged as: General Craziness, Rants

My wife sent me an e-mail this morning to let me know she’d been hit by a dumpster.

Read that again…she didn’t hit a dumpster, it hit her.

Did I mention that she wasn’t even in her car at the time?

She’d parked her car in a legal spot (according to her) and a garbage truck came by to empty dumpsters; the guy pushed a dumpster at her (hitting her, but not very hard) and yelled that she was parked too close to the dumpster.

She’s called the company to complain and we’ll see what happens - personally, I think she should call the police to see if she can file assault charges.

Was this guy having a bad day? Was he under extra pressure because of the Vancouver civic workers strike? I don’t know, and I really don’t give a damn…that sort of behaviour is completely inexcusable.

I’ll post updates when I have them.

Popularity: 46% [?]

Spare the rode, spoil th child

Posted by Office-Bob on 23 Apr 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

Those that know me well are aware that certain writing and grammar errors really get under my skin. The two worst offenses, in my opinion, are:

1) Not knowing the difference between lose and loose;

2) Not knowing when to use an apostrophe.

This weekend, I identified another one…people who don’t know the difference between silicon and silicone.

I was reading the local paper and found a review of Guitar Hero II, a video game where you use a controller shaped like a guitar to play; the writer referred to a “silicone axe.”

Sigh…

I was willing to overlook this until I read a tech review of some earbuds in the same paper; the reviewer (not the same person who did the game review) mentioned that the earbuds would fit most people’s ears because they include a set of different sized silicon fittings.

As much as I’d like to instruct the reviewers on the difference between silicon and silicone - preferably with a clue-by-four - I’m going to place the blame for this at the feet of their respective editors…if copy isn’t being properly vetted, the editors are the ones who should be taken to task. Even Wikipedia, though not to be relied upon as the final word on anything, mentions that silicon should not be confused with silicone (and vice versa).

I think I’ll start by giving the editors silicon butt implants so they’re reminded of their folly every time they sit down at their desks.

Popularity: 39% [?]

BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK!

Posted by Office-Bob on 23 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

DISCLAIMER - my sympathies are with the friends and families of the missing and murdered women in this case, and my comments are in no way meant to minimize the situation.



Got it? Okay, on to the rant…


It’s only the second day of the Robert “Willie” Pickton trial, and I’m already sick of the way the media is covering it.

It’s not due to the graphic details of his alleged crimes that are finally being released - although I do wonder why we don’t have a publication ban on this trial when Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka’s crimes were kept (mostly) from the public eye - it’s the incessant need the news media feels to discuss everything, no matter how big or small it may be.

Yeah, yeah, I get the “public’s right to know” and all that crap, but do we really need to have TV reporters meeting with court staff to discuss the upcoming media briefing?

Sheesh - it makes me long for the good old days when the reporters were going on and on (and on and on and on and on) about Stanley Park…“Hey, you dadblamed kids, get out of my windblown tree!”

I’ve decided that if the media is going to publish every little thing about the Pickton trial, then I’m going to use this wealth of information to get a piece of the action. Therefore, I am formally announcing my plans to create a children’s book titled:

Where’s Willie?

Page 1 will show the courtroom layout; the kids can try to find Willie amongst the lawyers and spectators.

Page 2 will be a layout of the property where you look for Willie amongst the buildings and vehicles.

As far as the rest of the pages - well, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what graphic goodness the media provides.

Who knows…maybe I’ll make it a pop-up book where you can open the freezer lid and see what’s inside…or should I save that for Where’s Willie, Volume Two, so I can include a diagram of his (very likely) new home in prison?

Popularity: 30% [?]

Yo-ho-ho and a spindle of blank CD-Rs!

Posted by Office-Bob on 19 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

I have a DVR that I mostly use for timeshifting because there are a number of shows I like to watch that are either on opposite other favourite shows, or they’re on when I want to sleep (Yes, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, I’m talking to you - while I love youse guys, I loves my sleep even more).

Season 2 of HBO’s ROME started last Sunday, and I had set up to record it because I wasn’t going to be able to watch it “live” - however, when I went to watch it later I found that only the first minute had recorded and the listing on the DVR menu had some funky sort of error message - CP-D. I figured it was pilot error and I’d messed something up, but I wasn’t too worried because I knew I could try again later in the week. Of course, “later in the week” was when other programs I watched were on so I had to record it again.

I tried watching the recording the next day, and…sumbitch, same problem and same error message.

I didn’t think I could have messed up the recording twice, especially since I had recorded other shows in between trying to record this one…and then it struck me - “CP-D” most likely means “Copy Protected.”

There have been times when I’ve had so much stuff backlogged on the DVR’s hard drive that I’ve wanted to burn some programs onto a read-write DVD (for later viewing or for watching downstairs because the TV there is bigger - the DVR is in the bedroom) but there has been a copy protection scheme in place, and I’m fine with that - after all, the system has no way of knowing that I’m going to erase and reuse the DVD-R/W after I’ve had a chance to watch the content.

I am, however, pissed off when I am not even allowed to timeshift programming - something that’s been taken to court and upheld as Fair Use - because somebody’s worried about me ripping them off.

I’m sure that someone would argue that I can still record to videotape if I wish to timeshift, but I would counter that I should not be restricted to a specific type of recording media when the principle behind timeshifting is the issue.

I am also tired of having to pay a “levy” on blank “audio” media because the Canadian version of the RIAA believes everybody who uses blank media is a pirate and must be made to pay for their sins, whether they’ve committed any acts of piracy or not.

I found a torrent of ROME so I was able to watch it (man, those Romans are a surly bunch!), but it got me to thinking…if it wasn’t for lame stunts like removing my ability to timeshift TV programs, I would never have looked for a BitTorrent client for the Mac, never downloaded ROME, never tasted of the forbidden fruit.

Perhaps I should embark on a life of piracy, making illegal copies of music, movies and TV programs while distributing them as far and wide as I can? Hell, if Jack Valenti can publically admit that he loans out “Academy screeners,” stuff like this should be a cakewalk because I’m not even living in the US!

I wonder if anybody has done a study as to whether or not the continual erosion of Fair Use rights has led to an increase in pirating - I wouldn’t be surprised if there is such a study and if not, well, I think it’s about time some young rebel with fire in their eyes does so.

Mark my words, those who would unfairly restrict content access - if you continue to treat people like criminals, we will see no other option than to behave in the manner you expect because you have left us no other choice.

Hell, countries have fought Wars of Independence over things such as unfair rule of law…and you, despite your egomaniacal desires, are certainly not any sort of legitimate government.

Popularity: 21% [?]

Welcome to 2007 - now stop honking at me and learn how to drive.

Posted by Office-Bob on 05 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: Rants

When I opened the front door to grab the morning paper I was greeted by about an inch of snow, with more coming down. I wasn’t terribly concerned, though, as I didn’t have anything planned this morning.

My wife, however, had other plans and asked me if I’d be willing to drive her downtown to work in exchange for buying me breakfast; since the prospect of someone else preparing breakfast for me sounded nice - not to mention I didn’t feel like going to the trouble of making coffee this morning - I agreed to this plan. We took my car (Corolla wagon) because it’s heavier than her Geo Metro and therefore better equipped to handle adverse conditions.

We made it down the hill from our house to Barnet Highway and that’s where the fun began.

First, I had to deal with merging onto a road with someone coming up in the lane I was trying to merge into; for a few moments I wasn’t sure if he understood the concepts of traffic safety but fortunately he either decided to take his foot off the gas or the Car Fairy smacked him in the head with a dead mackerel, because I was able to merge without incident.

After a bit of travel it became clear that there were going to be problems, and the radio confirmed that further along Barnet, people were having problems getting up a small hill; this was right about the time we hit the stop-and-go traffic. Since we were still rather far away from the hill in question we decided to cut our losses and turn around, go home and wait for the roads to clear.

I found an intersection and made my escape from the crawling horde and headed back to sanctuary; while the road was less travelled in this direction it was level and the fresher snow didn’t give me any problems.

The next challenge was getting up the hill that is immediately after the turnoff to my house; since the turn onto the road is greater than 90 degrees and means a smaller chance of success making it to the top in snowy conditions, I’ve found that the best tactic is to drive past the turn, turn around at the first available intersection and come at the hill from the other direction; making a left turn onto the hill gives you a better chance to make it all the way up since you have a straighter “go” at it. Here’s a picture to help you understand what I mean (click to enlarge):



I’d started slowing down to make the turn onto the intersection and was doing everything right - signals, light pressure on brakes, no sudden moves of the steering wheel…

…when I hear the beepbeepbeepbeepbeep of some dumbass behind me who’s finally realized that a) I’m slowing down/turning and 2) he’s following too close for the road conditions.

Fortunately there was enough time and distance between us that I was able to complete my turn without being rear-ended; I turned around, headed back home and successfully made it up the unplowed hill.

While I’d much rather avoid accidents completely, at least in this situation there wouldn’t have been any question of fault on my part.

I’d like to think that the twit who didn’t know how to drive was sufficiently frightened to change his driving habits (and, I can hope, his underwear), but I’m enough of a realist to know that it was more likely that he was swearing at me for having the sheer, unmitigated gall to dare to impede his progress on a snow-covered road.

I hope that when (and I’m sure it’s “when,” not “if”) that jerk finally has an accident, he manages to do it without involving other people/vehicles.

Popularity: 19% [?]

IKEA - Swedish for “Why the F$&K don’t these holes line up?”

Posted by Office-Bob on 24 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: General Craziness, Rants

I had been thinking about replacing my current desk with a new one because, while the desk is nice, it’s no longer big enough to hold everything as evidenced by this “before” picture:



I’d been hearing good things about the “Jerker” desk from IKEA but I kept putting off making a decision until I heard rumours that it was being discontinued; I stopped at the local IKEA to see if perhaps it was on sale and, lo and behold, it was - $50 off the regular price.

That made up my mind; I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present and picked up the desk, two swing-arm shelf units, a 2-drawer file cabinet and the top shelf extension. The final price was about $90 less than the original price, so I did okay and fortunately the boxes were small enough (although damned heavy) to fit in the station wagon.

Because I hadn’t made up my mind to buy the desk when I went to IKEA I hadn’t yet taken my old desk apart; it’s one of those pressboard, DIY desks that are hard enough to assemble with instructions but even harder to take apart without them. After dismembering my computer system (including CPU, LCD display, DSL modem, router, 2 external drives, printer, scanner and speakers) and moving the equipment out of my office, I then spent about an hour trying to figure out how everything came apart…in the end, everything except the hutch was completely disassembled (since I couldn’t see why the hutch wasn’t coming apart, I decided to leave it alone rather than risk breaking it).

For the most part the Jerker instructions were easy to understand, and I was fortunate that the only missing piece was a small plastic end cap that goes on one of the supporting crosspieces (I left the caps off the end that was facing the wall, so it wasn’t really an issue); the problem came when I started to install the extra top shelf.

As you’ll see later it’s attached by placing two “joiners” on the top, one on each end, that are secured by nuts and bolts to the top and bottom of the uprights - however, when I went to screw in the bolts on the far (wall) side, it became obvious that there was an alignment problem and that the nuts weren’t matching up with the bolts.

What to do - go back to IKEA during the Christmas madness with a heavy upright and wait in line to try and get a replacement? Hell, no…let’s break out the drill and make the holes a little bigger!

That done, everything went into place and screwed in tightly…mission accomplished! Here’s what the finished desk looks like:



There’s still some organization and cable cleanup that needs to happen but before that, I need to toss out all the cardboard and plastic that the desk pieces were packed in. I took back one of the two swing-arm units because I didn’t think I needed it - I’m not sure I really need any, but I thought I should keep one just in case I find a use for it - if nothing else, it’ll give me a place to put my coffee cup and keep it off of my workspace. The drawer piece is supposed to bolt onto the underside of the desk but there aren’t any holes; it’s possible that I installed the crosspieces upside down and the holes are 180 degrees from where they should be, but I’ll look into that later.

The end result is that my desk is more organized (despite the pictures) and I have more work area, so I’m happy.

Oh, and the missing end cap? I picked one up when I took the extra shelf unit back to IKEA for credit…and since I’m currently enjoying the goodwill and happiness of the holiday season, I didn’t bother complaining about the misaligned holes.

Popularity: 30% [?]

PSA - do NOT do business with the Spudgun Technology Center (UPDATED 1/9/07)

Posted by Office-Bob on 19 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: Rants, FX

One of the many devices used in special effects is something called an air cannon - it consists of a storage tank with a quick-release “dump valve” that allows the pressurized air in the tank to be released all at once, which will push dirt and debris (or whatever you load into the hopper) into the air; these are often used to simulate or sweeten explosions to make them seem bigger than they really are.

While an air cannon is not something I’d normally worry about having - movie supply houses have them available for rent and the larger companies already own them - I found a company that offered a small version at a reasonable price - the Spudgun Technology Centre. This place has been in business for years and has been profiled in various media, so I didn’t have a problem placing the order and paying for materials in advance (I usually operate this way myself, so the financial situation didn’t seem out of the ordinary).

I placed the order in April; and was told to expect a 4-6 week delay.

My Amex was charged in May.

The first problem arose when I forgot that I’d placed an order; by the time I remembered it was already August.

I sent an e-mail on 8/28 asking about the status of my order; no response.

I left a voicemail on 9/6; no response…I didn’t want to keep calling because his tollfree number isn’t accessible from Canada and I didn’t feel like paying long distance charges for no good reason, so I left it for a little while.

I finally got in touch with Joel on 11/9 by phone; he apologized for the delay but said he was waiting on one piece to be painted and then he’d be assembling and shipping my order.

After that, nothing - no update to my order status on his website, zip, zilch, nada. E-mails sent on 12/13, 12/16 and 12/17 have received no response and neither has a phone message I left on the 19th…the next step is to call Amex and see if, by some miracle, I can request a chargeback for the $300 USD I’ve wasted on this fiasco - but I doubt I’ll have any luck.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that a large part of the problem is because of my losing track of time and not following up earlier, but part of that is because I’m too trusting - and failing to respond to customer queries is not good business practice regardless of any other factors.

I’m willing to publicly relate my folly to you, dear readers, because I want to ensure that others do not fall into the same trap I did of trusting Joel D. Suprise of Appleton, WI with their money.

Caveat Emptor, indeed.
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