March 2001

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Wednesday, March 28, 2001
 

Yellow Journalism

I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions to this journal. (Before people become bored and stop reading it, I should offer my appreciation for their reading it now.) Starting now, I have decided to keep only the latest entry on this page, and archive by month the previous entries. You can see the previous entries for March at this link. I will keep monthly archives of this journal for as long as it lasts. I'm not sure how long interest in my life can possibly last, as I have trouble maintaining interest myself. But as long as you are out there (and letting me know you're out there), I will happily indulge you with the latest happenings. Dink Thifferent.

 

Look! Up on the Screen!

No, I am not done being excited about this. The reviews of Superman the Movie Special Edition in San Antonio are looking very positive. If you haven't seen the trailer yet, there is now a hi-res QuickTime version as well as the MPG version I mentioned last time. Unfortunately (unlike The Exorcist), Superman the Movie has gotten a great deal of television airtime over the past year, making it less likely that Warner Brothers will risk the expense of a nationwide theatrical release. Or so say the rumor mills. Wth the Superman the Movie DVD ready to go as early as May 1st, WB seems to be running out of time for a nationwide release. I am hoping they do it though. Seeing it on the big screen again would be taking me back to my childhood again.

Speaking of the DVD, DVDFile.com has reviewed it, calling it "one of the best DVDs I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing".

 

A Different Kind of Car, A Different Kind of Trade-in

I visited the local Saturn dealership to see what was available for the 2001 models. Prices have not changed much in four years, except that the SL/2's are more reasonable. Although the base price difference between the SL/1 and SL/2 is $1500, when you add in the new options I am thinking of getting, the difference shrinks to about $500. So, I think I will get the SL/2 instead for its more powerful engine.

The most fascinating part of the deal was the issue of trade-in's. I did my homework in advance by checking Kelley's Bluebook online for my car. It says its retail value is $7975 but it's trade-in value is $4400. When I went to Saturn however, they gave me a buy-back price of $5250, over $800 more than I anticipated. AND GET THIS: This is not a "trade-in" per se. They would be buying the car back from me. Whether I choose to use this money to buy a new Saturn is completely up to me! So whether I choose to buy a Honda or Toyota or Saturn or nothing at all, I still get $5250 in cash for the car! Very impressive. My quote is good for 30 days, so they suggested I try to sell it on my own for more than that amount. If I cannot, I can fall back on the $5250 offer. Plus, with their offer, I don't have to worry about anyone coming back to me wanting their money back or complaining about a new problem.

For those interested in buying my car, it is a 1997 Saturn SL/1 with 72,000 miles, air conditioning, automatic transmission, anti-lock breaks and traction control. If you are interested, give me a holler!

 

Kodak Moments

I am experiencing more than my share of Deja Vu here in Michigan. I seem to run across quite a number of coincidences that make me feel that I am still at good old Elmgrove Plant. First, there is a shoe store in the mall named Nine West; next, there is a Jim Bradley's Pontiac-Cadillac-GMC dealership next door to my Saturn dealership! Coincidentally, the local Jim Bradley used to own the Saturn dealership as well, but has since passed that onto his wife. On top of all that, there is a Westgate Mall, people around here talk of going to Red Wing games, and just a few miles northeast from here is Rochester Hills, Michigan! And finally, in a mathematical twist, my home phone number 975-1295 is, in the Rochester 716 area code, a pager number for (get this) an Eastman Kodak employee.

 

You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore

It is Daffodils Days at the American Cancer Society, which means that your donation will get you flowers delivered. Since I am not exactly a flower fiend, I decided to have mine delivered to the ladies I worked with a Kodak, and to the wives of the men there. Hopefully they will have received them prior to reading this (as I do not want to spoil the surprise). Enjoy!

 

 

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

 

The Power to be Over-worked

My co-worker Dave gave me the following riddle today: "How is our source code like a cheap lawyer?" Answer: "No comment." If you don't get that joke, that means you're a normal person. If you do get it, that means you are an engineering geek like me, and the rest of this section will make sense to you.

Writing new code is always more fun than maintaining old, but maintenance is becoming the dominant task in the software world. Ten years ago, new products were being introduced all the time. Today, very few new ones, mostly upgrades. Aside from games and shareware, can you name five new software products that have been introduced in the past few years? Successful products, such as our flagship product Sequencher, have a long heritage, over 10 years in fact. With its beginnings in Think C with Classes (there was not even C++ at the time), it has grown and evolved, and it is certainly very impressive software. So much of my time is being spent learning, and I feel like quite the novice at times.

On the positive side, the company President Howard Cash has told me, "I'm really glad you've come on board." That does feel good, and is a nice thing to hear when you occassionally have second thoughts. Also, it is looking likely that he will be sending me to this year's Worldwide Developer's Conference. All in all, I am feeling very much a valued member of the team and am hoping to increase my responsibilities as my growth warrants.

 

Great Scott!

Those of you who know me pretty well (and who else would be reading this?) are already aware of both my avid movie going as well as my my geekdom. Therefore it should be no surprise to you how excited I am about this...

As has become popular recently, some movie studios have been re-releasing films from the '70's to the theaters with extra footage, such as Star Wars (1997) by 20th Century Fox and the Exorcist (2000) by Warner Brothers. Now, Warner Brothers has announced the theatrical re-release of Superman the Movie. It is has been digitally remastered and has new footage added to it. This re-release has a great trailer (you can view it here) and a very positive review from AintItCool.com. It is opening this weekend in San Antonio, and a national release will be forthcoming, depending on how successful it does in these test sites.

 

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whacha Gonna Do?

I was late to work today, and being too much in a hurry I got my first speeding ticket in Michigan. (Note to self: radar detectors don't work well when they are not turned on.) I cannot believe how often this is happening to me! Not too long ago I had a perfect driving record. Then I just get tagged in Canada, just after one I almost got in Rochester just a few weeks earlier, but was left off with a warning. Does my car have an electronic target on it or something? Or perhaps my driving has deteriorated with age? Anyway, I was clearly in the wrong, clocked at 42 in a 25. But the cop knocked it down to 40. (What a sweetheart.) Yeah, that extra 2 miles an hour would have made me feel bad. Anyway, I had taken a driver's safety class a couple years ago to get an insurance discount; if they offer something similar here, I may be able to shave away these points.

 

Go, Greased Lightning

Not that it's going to help me with the ticket, but I am considering trading in my car for a new Saturn. With the signing bonus I'm getting from Gene Codes, I'll actually be able to buy it for cash. Just last year when Jim Bradley bought his car with cash, I thought that was pretty amazing. Granted, Saturn's are no Mercedes... My current car's final payment is due April 1st, around the same time I get my signing bonus. It now has 71,000 miles on it, and I will not be able to sell it for much once it tops the 100K mark, which should be sometime in 2002 I figure. So if I do wish to sell it, now seems like the most cost-effective time. I know that as a trade-in, I will get well less than its blue-book value, so if there's anyone out there who wants to buy a Saturn...

 

 

Monday, March 19, 2001

 

Fan Mail

I was very much surprised at the amount of feedback I received from my journal. Wow, thank you all for your responses! It certainly keeps my energy going for this journal. I have received a number of good suggestions on how to improve this site, particularly making it more like T.J.'s with the monthly index. I plan to implement such modification within the next month.

 

RoadRunning

I briefly mentioned in my previous post that I was having trouble with the RoadRunner installation by the Evil Cable Company. I had assumed that since my machines were configured to use RoadRunner in Rochester, it would simply be a matter of plugging in the new cable modem and I am ready to go. No such luck. The installation is very different here. In Rochester, you simply connected the computer via ethernet and you are practically done. Here in Ann Arbor, there is a software installation procedure which runs an application to connect your machine to the internet (a similar app used to be required in Rochester's RR a few years ago). Secondly, the installation records your computer's MAC number and submits it to the Evil Cable Company, and this number is checked each time you signon to the internet. What this means is that anytime you upgrade your computer, you need to call Comcast back for RoadRunner installation on this new computer, with your old MAC number removed, your new one entered.

On top of everything else, RoadRunner here is throttled back to only 1.5Mb, noticably slower than the speedy 2.0 Mb rate I was accustomed to in Rochester. I am currently seeking therapy through a monthly ComCast-survivor support group.

 

Home vs. Away

As I become more familiar with Ann Arbor, I am surprised at the many differences between it and Rochester. There are some things better here and some things worse, and here are just a few I have discovered:

How Rochester is better:
  • RoadRunner is 33% faster in Rochester than in Ann Arbor
  • Many more malls, gyms and restaurants to choose from
  • Wegman's
  • You are not expected to bag your own groceries
  • There is not an hour wait to be seated at every restaurant in Rochester at 9PM
  • Tinseltown
  • The malls are open past 9PM
 
How Ann Arbor is better:
  • 24-hour Laundromats
  • Restaurants that serve dinner as late as 1AM during the week
  • DVD's are everywhere ("You still use VHS?")
  • A cheaper local airport
  • Pretty young co-eds are anywhere you look
  • Better comic book stores
  • Canada is less than a half hour away to visit

 

Primary Bread Winner

A new addition to the Hoyle household was introduced this weekend...no, not that...I have purchsed a bread maker! Those of you who are aware of the level of my cooking skills may be surprised, but the process seems so automatic that even I feel confident at trying my hand. My friends at Kodak had given me the idea, as it seems traditional amongst them to bring in free bread to sample every few months or so. I will keep you all aprised of the results.

 

 

Thursday, March 15, 2001

 

Shameless Rip-off

After much prompting by my former co-workers, I have started a journal so that my friends far away can keep track of me now that I have departed. T.J. has certainly upped the bar for anyone choosing to leave Kodak, as now anyone so doing is expected to document their lives in full detail. I do not expect to equal the prose of that fine journal, but I will do my best to keep it interesting (or as interesting as my life can be).

 

Leaving Rochester

Admittedly, it wasn't until after I had accepted this new job that I realized how much I had grown accustomed to Rochester. I had for so long thought of myself as merely a displaced Philadelphian that it didn't occur to me how much of a Rochesterian I had become. Much of it has to do with the difference between living in a small city versus living in a suburbian town of a very large city. A small city like Rochester is expected to support its own population, whereas in Ann Arbor, a half-hour drive to Detroit is often expected. This translates down to fewer restaurants, computer stores, malls and movie theaters in Ann Arbor, coupled with more traffic on the expressways, a more expensive cost of housing, and a nightmare hassle at the airport. The trade-off is of course that there are a lot more choices in Detroit; it's just less convenient to take advantage of those additional choices.

I am just now finding my way around town. With each day, I make fewer wrong turns, I make less reference to maps and ask for fewer directions. But I still find myself tuning into WHAM at night, still checking out the Democrat & Chronicle online, still looking at Rochester on the weather maps. I am far more concerned about the Bills' unfortunate Johnson/Flutie decision than I am about the recent changes at the Detroit Lions. And of course, I put in some nostalgic time for a slide show tribute to my Kodak friends. But little by little, with each day, I am learning to accept my new surroundings.

 

Evil Monopolies

Anywhere you go across the fruited plain, you will have to deal with at least two monopolies: the Evil Telephone Company and the Evil Cable Company. They take on different names in various locales, but all the same, their purpose is to make your life miserable. In Rochester, they were Frontier and Time-Warner. In Ann Arbor, they are Ameritech and ComCast. Fortunately, my experience with the Evil Telephone Company turned out acceptable since I did everything remotely. My Ann Arbor co-workers tell me that I got off easily, as Ameritech's crimes against humanity are the stuff of legend in these parts.

Unfortunately, my experience with the Evil Cable Company was not so uneventful. As in Rochester, my plan was to get digital cable, RoadRunner, and two IP addresses so that I can serve up web pages. A simple request (so I thought). I should have suspected that there were going to be problems when I noticed that the ComCast installation guy didn't cast a reflection in any of my mirrors. To make a long story short, two days and several tech support calls later, I had RoadRunner up and running. ComCast also made it a point to mention that they will soon be offering telephone service in my area. If Satan had a little brother, I would image a similar squabbling amongst the siblings over the souls of the damned.

As an ironic aside, I can't help think of my friends in Rochester who despise the monopolistic behavior of Time-Warner, yet who are apologists for Microsoft. One anonymous friend, let's call him "Gary Anderson", refuses to get a cable modem due to his dislike for the Evil Cable Company. Although he'd rather live in 56K purgatory than give any more money to Time-Warner, he is one of the biggest Microsoft defenders I know. Ah well, he will still remain a No. 1 friend to me.

 

A Continuing Saga...

There is still so much more to tell, but I will dole it out in more bite-size pieces with future updates. Feel free to email me suggestions for future updates. I do not expect to be as entertaining as T.J. is, but I will try to be as entertaining as I had always been.


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