Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-09-23
  Bad user interfaces
Most confirmation dialogs work the first few times you run into them, but then you start anticipating them and they become meaningless.
yes I meant to delete that file
yes I want to quit without saving
yes I really want to pay with a credit card instead of a bank transfer
yes I want to bid that
yes
yes
yes
...
oops
What we really need is something that can figure out when an action is out of the ordinary and then ask us, leaving us alone the rest of the time. Then I'd have avoided this:

Oh well, if I end up spending $93 on a hammer then that will just be an expensive lesson for me to take a little more time. Could have been worse. At least its not $930.

 
2005-09-07
  Thanks so much Dr. Spock
Mother in Chief

writes: [there's this] underlying pressure from other women signing their kids up for preschool. I can't help but feel that they know something I don't know. Or that my kid is going to fall behind socially and academically because he's not in preschool and won't be until next fall at the earliest.

Our society has such weird expectations.

[preschool]

Our kids did not go to pre-school (at least so far). I'm sure there's nothing wrong with it, but our boys find enough to do running around the house terrorizing each other and raising a ruckus, and seem just fine with things the way they are.

However, Max is now five and so he started Kindergarten this year. Before school started, there was a end-of-summer picnic where we got to meet with all the school staff, teachers and other parents. The one question I got asked the most was, "Did Max go to pre-school?"

When we'd tell them "no", they all got that look on their face, like we were bringing in a kid from the wild raised by wolves.

Oh no, he's not going to be able to sit still, raise his hand to ask a question, or play nice with the other kids. Its the end of civilization!

Get a grip. If our society really knew that much about the right way to raise children, we wouldn't have Jerry Springer.

[photo credit] Raised by wolves from the Photoshop contests gallery

 
2005-09-03
  Little children will eat your batteries
Back before kids (which seems like another life), my battery consuption was limited to replacing the batteries in the remote control and occasionally remembering that there were batteries in the emergency light and hoping that the old ones hadn't died and gone and leaked acid all over the inside (I've lost more flashlights that way). There was a battery in the cordless phone and my laptop, but those were rechargeable and usually lasted a couple of years.

Max changed a great many things in our life, including our use of batteries. Babies don't run on AA directly, but they might as well. Within a couple of months I had collected quite a pile of dead batteries ( don't ask why I was saving them ) from flashlights, baby monitors and walkie talkies (how I coordinated shopping trips with my wife before we each got cell phones ).

I went from letting my wife buy the name brand batteries (at fourty to eighty cents a piece), to picking up the 24 packs of off-brand ones (which were closer to twenty cents), but that was just a temporary stop gap. After searching around a bit, I found a cachet of rechargable AA and AAA at sears in the tool section ( they were Craftsman brand after all ), and thought I was on the right path to stemming the tide.

Unfortunately we were accumulating devices at a faster rate then the occasional additional four-pack from sears could keep up with. The technology was also moving forward, but the capacities of the Craftsman brand were not keeping up. I had to take it to the next level.

Looking for batteries on the web is a little bit of a trick. Sticking AA into the google search bar isn't going to be exactly what you're looking for ( and searching for a C or D battery is worse ). Froogle wasn't online yet, and the other price comparison sites weren't very good when wandering too far from consumer electronics and computer parts, so I was pretty much on my own. I managed to gather a fair list, and then set about trying to compare apples and pomegranates. Did I want to buy 24 AA @ 2250mAH a piece for $30 or 18 AA @ 1850 for $19, and shipping just added another dimension to the problem. Finally I made up my mind and ordered a 24 pack of AAs plus some AAAs for the little stuff.

It took about a week, and the drawer of charged batteries was down to crumbs again. The digital camera took four AAs, the play center another 3. The remote control car took 6 and the transmitter took a 9v. We were quickly accumulating closets full of noisy and blinking devices that demanded to be fed. I picked up another 10pak of batteries at Fry's on my next trip to California but that didn't even make a blip.

Seeing where this was going, and also dealing with the new headache of trying to keep batteries straight when loading a device or charging ( its not good to mix a 1350 mAH battery with a 2100 mAH battery ), I decided to bulk up some more and maybe weed out some of the older low power devices. Perusing the deals at Only Batteries.com I ended up with another 48 AA and 16 AAA. Thankfully that stemmed the tide for a while, but I still had to scrounge around to get batteries for a new device, and some units still had older batteries or even non-rechargables in them.

Finally this year I decided to take care of the problem once and for all. Through the magic of eBay I located a seller with an extensive stock of batteries and good deals on larger quantities. I ordered 96 more AA rechargables, another 32 AAA, some misc C and Ds and a rapid recharger to help keep up with everything. Things were looking up.

At least until Max's birthday. Max had talked grandma into getting him a Rokenbok set. Its a bunch of plastic building pieces, and remote control vehicles that zoom around pushing red and blue balls into hoppers. The controller can select one of 10 devices, all of which sit around waiting for direction. Powered of course by AA batteries. Typically three to four for each vehicle. There goes another 25 batteries.

We're back to having three or four changed batteries in the battery drawer and I'm wondering if there's ever going to be an end to all of this. We got another toy the other day and it took 4 D batteries plus 5 C. Given what a rechargable D battery cost, I think we doubled the price of the toy. And oscar isn't even old enough to notice the infant toys that have been sitting idle since Zakary got up and walked on to bigger and better things (usually grabbing toys from his bigger brother).

So the question now is another 96, or should I double it and just go for 192. I can always dream about cleaning out the closets and taking a truckload of un-played-with toys to the thrift shop, but knowing my luck, I'd forget to take the batteries out. And besides, they'd just get more ( give the unavoidable reality of grandparents ).

 
2005-09-01
  The technical difficulties of very small things.
I really like my Treo. I spent almost the entire time while travelling this last week watching movies and TV on my phone. To help support that, I have a number of data cards, including the very impressive SanDisk Ultra2 2GB card.

At least I did. Right now I have a $170 hunk of plastic which will not give up even a single bit of information. As I explained to the San Disk hotline: it doesn't come up in my Treo, it doesn't come up in my laptop, and it doesn't come up in my desktop system. Nothing, nada, zip.

So now I'm also the proud owner of a RMA number.

================================================================
Return Authorization ID: RX096530
Product to be returned by Customer: SanDisk Ultra? II SD? 2GB
SKU: SDSDH-2048
Serial Number: BE0506XL
Replacement Product: SanDisk Ultra? II SD? 2GB

Status: Pending Return
================================================================
 
Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Blogroll
Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
SnowDeal
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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