Assorted Stuff

I decided, since this was my opening week on FGInet, I should come up with a new rant -- but what to gripe about this time? There hasn't been any one big thing annoying me lately, but lot's of little things, so maybe it's time for another bunch of short gripes starting with....


Elmo's Preschool: My 3 year old likes this computer game -- and has been clicking her way through by herself since she was 2 (or for the last 6 months), but all is not well on Sesame Street. The game has no volume control, and unfortunately is several notches quieter than everything else on my system, so I have to turn up the volume. But, when the game ends, you suddenly get assaulted by very loud systems sounds. This is merely annoying, but the fact that there is no way to shut off Elmo is a real problem. 2 and 3 year olds aren't the best at handling a mouse, they can do it, but they need a little time. But, while my daughter is busy trying to get the mouse pointed at the "sad mouth", Elmo pipes up and says, "let me pick one" and he goes and throws a "happy mouth" up on the face. This does not make Laura happy.

Car Mechanics: My wife's car needed a brake job, so we took it to a local mechanic for an estimate. First, a little background -- my wife has been going to this guy since he started business, and she bought her car. As time went by, his business grew, and he had to hire people to help him to the work. Unfortunately, some of his employees aren't very bright. Once, we took the car in for a new power steering pump, and the guy got the power window stuck all the way down. We took reponsibility for that, we knew there were problems with the window, and forgot to tell him not to mess with it (of course, we didn't think there would be a need to). The real problem came when they parked it outside over the weekend, with rain in the forecast, with the window down, and THE KEYS IN THE IGNITION. Needless to say, we weren't very happy with that (this time, the station owner took the car home with him while he had it). To make matters worse, when they put the new pump on, they filled the pump, but didn't check it again after they ran it, and all the fluid went from the pump, to the empty Rack and Pinion unit, and the new pump burned out too (the replacement was free). So, back to the brakes -- they started rattling off the estimate -- new front rotor, 2 new rear calipers, new pads, labor -- $800 worth. I took it to Dad's, we pulled the wheels off, looked at the rotor in question, and after a $6 turning, it was almost as good as new. The back calipers were not frozen, they work fine -- but according to someone who used to work for a Pontiac dealer, the back brakes were never designed to do much -- GM was afraid of people loosing control of the car if they rode the brakes, so they rear ones do very little. So, instead of $800, we spent $45 -- and the brakes work as good as they ever did. (The estimate was to bring the brake system up to original specifications, so he had a valid reason for the outrageous price. But on an 8 year old car with 90,000 miles on it, you don't worry about original specs, just safe drivability). I could also mention the trouble my father's had with the a/c on his old car, and the 3 fuel pumps he's had on his newer one, but that would be overkill.

Savage Young Webheads: I've been working with the neighbor setting up a local internet pop, and signing people up. He's been working with a young man who wants to do some web business with him. He's bright, ambitious, and reasonably talented, but like too many people, he assumes everyone is running a monitor at 1024x768 (or at least 800x600). He came up with a nice looking page, until I changed the resolution to 640x480, then his page suddenly disappeared beyond the edges of the screen. He huffed that most people would have at least 800x600, and most of it would show up. Problem is, this is a page for the people we are signing up, and most of them are using machines that flip out at higher resolutions. Then there are the college kids with direct network connection that assume everyone can download a page with 12, 140K images on it in less than 3 hours. Then there was the kid who emailed me that my page was "sh--" and that I should check out his page -- which contained java script that didn't work, and lots of links to hacking pages -- but little real content. I wrote him back, and mentioned that you don't go around slamming other pages, when your own page doesn't work quite right. Then he blamed "sh---y netscape, and told me to use Explorer" I pointed out that despite Microsoft's efforts to undercut all browser competition, Netscape is still the most popular browser, and he might seem more intelligent to others if he didn't use such vulgar language. He then wrote another diatribe slamming me and my page, and accused me of being at least 30. I wrote back and told him that I was, in fact, 32 -- married, with a kid, and that he should keep at it, he seemed to have some potential. I never heard from him again, but all the hack stuff is gone from his page -- I still have hope for the kid.