Sunday, July 27, 2008

Kitten Update

Angie, as seen above, still likes to spend most of her time at the back of her box. She still hisses quite a bit when I pet her, but I've been fortunate to not be bit or scratched yet (yes, I'm knocking on wood right now). I've read some material online about how to domesticate feral kittens; most of the techniques don't work well with her, so I've decided to fall back to a regular routine of visiting her and petting her in few minute chunks. Much longer than that and she really starts to get irritated.

I'm having more success with Frances, though you might not be able to tell from this picture. She was preparing to dart away in this shot. I'm able to pick her up and hold her in my lap with moderate success. She isn't too keen on the idea of being handled when I'm not holding her, but she usually settles down and almost goes to sleep while I'm holding and petting her. I'm hoping she'll rub off on her sister, but so far it seems to be the other way around.

I knew this was going to be a lengthy process going into it, so I'm not really discouraged. It probably would be a LOT easier if I already had a domesticated cat from which they could learn. I may pursue this idea if I can procure a good example cat.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

iPhone 3G Day - Take 2

After making a failed attempt at buying a new iPhone on Friday I decided that I would be content to try out the new features of the 2.0 firmware on my first generation iPhone. There is no doubt about it; the new App Store makes the iPhone an even MORE useful device than it already was. I found that my favorite app was Pandora. I never used Pandora much from a PC. Streaming to my phone and then on to my truck stereo is a whole different experience. There was something very geeky cool about have my own, personalized "radio station" to listen to while driving. Well, I found that it glitched for a few seconds a couple of times while driving around on Saturday and THAT was all the excuse I needed to make a second attempt at buying an iPhone 3G. The extra bandwidth would surely help to eliminate those annoying glitches.

I arrived at the Perimeter Mall Apple Store around 12:15 or so. The line was less than half as long as it was on Friday so I decided to give it a shot. The people in line near me were easy to get along with, so it was overall not a bad waiting experience. I still spent 4 hours in line (yes, it's stupid, I know), but I got my phone. Now, the question is, was it worth it?

Their are primarily 3 differences between my new phone and my old phone:

1) 3G. I've seen comments online stating that iPhone on 3G is anywhere from 2.4x to 5x faster than the original iPhone on EDGE. I couldn't test this at my house (I'm lucky to get a signal here at all), so I went up to the Kroger parking lot about 1/4 mile away. I found that the iPhone 3G is fast... really fast. I performed 3 different download speed tests and found the rate was between 1350 kbps to 1850 kbps with a ping time averaging between 200 ms and 300 ms. For a comparison, the same speed tests when conducted at my house using WiFi average around 3400 kbps with a ping time around 100 ms. When browsing the web via 3G it felt almost as fast as WiFi (as you'd expect based on the numbers above).

2) GPS. The cell tower triangulation the my first generation iPhone performed to find its location was very good. The GPS in the new iPhone is even better when outdoors or in a car (no, it doesn't work well indoors... it falls back to standard cell tower triangulation). When in my truck, however, it pinpoints its location with a nice blue dot in a few seconds. It's very cool.

3) 16 GB of storage. I carry a lot of music with me. I'm a freak about compression artifacts. After my post about how to rip music, I eventually decided to re-encode everything I carry with me at 256 kbps even though I couldn't hear a difference at 160 kbps. I know; I'm sick. Anyway, at that bit rate I was able to keep about 870 tracks with me. Since my phone also works as my "CD changer" in my truck, I like to have as much variety as possible. This left very little room for apps. With my new phone, I can carry nearly 1800 tracks, install around 20 apps that I find interesting and still have nearly 300 MB of space leftover for more apps. To me it is a worthy upgrade.

So, was the phone worth 4 hours in line, $300 and a new, crappy contract from AT&T? Yes. I'll continue to use Pandora regularly to suck bandwidth like there is no tomorrow. And next year, when they release a 32 GB version with some other trivial changes that I could probably live without, I'll most likely upgrade again. I'll admit it. I'm a fanboy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Kitty Litter

I found Frances and Angie (yep, they're both girls) camped out in the kitty litter when I came home from work today. It was clean. Frances is the slightly darker one on the right. She generally seems less likely to attack. Angie has an itchy trigger claw, but I think she's warming up to me.

iPhone 3G Day

I just stopped by Perimeter Mall to get an iPhone 3G. The line was WAY too long to wait in. I kind of expected it to be short or non-existent 2 1/2 hours after the store opened. Instead, I found a line that I estimate was roughly 180 people long. I like Apple stuff, but there's no way I'm waiting in a line like that.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alternative Energy

I've seen a few articles recently concerning the wind power plan proposed by T. Boone Pickens. It's actually a really good idea. Check it out and see what you think. I believe the idea is that he wants to encourage the next President, along with the Congress, to get behind the plan to help move it along.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Kittens Have Arrived

I decided that I should get a kitten so I could work on being a kind and loving person. I tend to have trouble with empathy, compassion, blah, blah. Anyway, my plan was to seek out a Siamese kitten that I could train to act like a dog; I used to have a cat like that and I suppose I wanted to duplicate that experience. Well, plans don't always work out. Instead, I learned of two feral kittens in need of a home. This was almost exactly NOT what I was looking for, but I realized that this is perhaps a better situation for both me and the kittens. Instead of me imposing my preferred behavior on some poor, unsuspecting kitten, I can try to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a couple of cute little critters that would just as soon tear out my eye than take a nap. Don't let their cuddly ways fool you; these are man-eaters. This might turn out alright.

Roof Replaced

The crews couldn't finish the roof on Thursday. Communication was difficult in general, but I thought they told me they were going to come back on Friday morning to finish. That turned out to be wrong; they came Saturday morning instead. It still took most of the day Saturday for them to finish it up. I think the job may have been bigger than they realized.

Overall, I think they did pretty good work, but I wouldn't recommend the company I used to anyone else. The level of organization and professionalism I experienced from the people in the main office was completely unacceptable. It took more than a month from the time I signed the work contract until the job was finally started. During that time I had to repeatedly call to find out the status of the job since nobody bothered to call me to set up a date to start work or notify me of schedule slips once the date was set. They sent out crews (while very nice) that had no idea where my house was, and when they called for directions the job foreman had almost no ability to communicate with me in English. The company had great reviews on Kudzu and received an 'A' in Cobb Home Reports for whatever that's worth. Maybe my experience was atypical.

Before: Standard, three tab shingles with poorly vented roof.

After: Architectural shingles (supposedly weather better) with properly vented roof.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Roof Repair

The replacement of my roof is underway. The first thing I noticed is that the process of removing the old shingles is very, very loud. I found it interesting to see how the guys work on such a steep surface; they use something that looks like the foam cushion from a couch seat. You can kind of see them under the two guys on the left. I suppose the foam not only is more comfortable, but the large surface area gripping the roof surface makes it much safer.