The Great Entertaining South

No garage sales?

I get such a kick out of the south…and this sign is a perfect example. There was such a huge problem with garage sales apparently taking over the bank parking lot that they decided to spend the money to design and produce a sign letting people know that garage sales are not allowed. Wow. Thanks for the laugh…and thanks to my southern friends for capturing this great picture on their trip home over the holidays.

James Bond: Casino "Ford/Sony, No Women in the Beginning" Royale

I finally got out and saw the latest James Bond movie “Casino Royale” and was pretty happy about it, but I had to cover my eyes early on in the film when James Bond was shown driving a Ford. Yes, I am painfully aware Ford owns Jaguar, LandRover, Volvo, and Aston Martin (Bond’s classic car make), but I also know that James Bond – pre this film – would EVER drive a Ford make…and it was a little hard to take. The product placement was also a little hard to take. Ninety-five percent of the cars in the movie (parking lot, roads, air ports, etc) were the “Ford brands”. Volvo next to a Range Rover, next to a Lincoln, next to a Jaguar, next to a Volvo…it was ridiculous. Sony was all over the place too…camera, all the phones, computers, etc. I have to wonder how much Ford and Sony paid for that insane product placement. Yeah, I noticed. I also noticed the lack of women in the beginning of the James Bond movie…during the intro…that has to be a first too!
[tags]James Bond, product placement[/tags]

Fun With Postfix and Launchd

If it is not one thing, it is another. I recently had to set up a web server using Mac OS X 10.4 that needed PHP 5 and Postfix so I could send email via a particular PHP script. I used Marc Liyanage ‘s PHP 5 package and then decided to to then use Mac OS X’s built install of Postfix to handle the mail. After having some issues getting Postfix working, I finally found a great article on http://www.macosxhints.com which helped with my mail and launchd questions – as I have never had to do anything with launchd up until this point. (Goodbye cron, hello launchd)

At this point I was pretty proud of myself and figured I got Postfix working because of my pizza combos intake, but then a few minutes later and a ton of email messages later, I realized all my failed attempts and test messages had built up in the que. I now had to scramble to unplug the server and figure out how to manage the Postfix queue…something I had never done before. Enter my quick tips for managing the Postfix queue:

  • To view the queue, use: mailq
  • To delete a message, use:postsuper -d 111 (111= the message ID found by running mailq)
  • If you want to delete all messages in the queue, use: postsuper -d ALL

One problem solved, 24 more to go 😉
[tags]Mac OS X 10.4, postfix, launchd, PHP5[/tags]

Quick Paint Clean Up Tip

What do you do when someone you think is coming over to your house to do you a favor (“hey do you still need some help…”) , make a mess, request money and leave all while living with someone who is very detail oriented and who does not take any crap? I do not know what you would have done, but I called my resourceful father.

The main problem (besides having to rip down the existing crown molding to replace it, and having to repaint the trim and baseboards – was that sloppy edging work left paint all over our nice stained window molding/casing. Amy was extremely disgusted with the sloppy paint all over the stained wood so I called my dad to see what he would recommend. If anyone knew how I might be able to get the paint off (no it would not pick off) my father wood. He recommended – since the paint had only been on for a few days – to use some Mr. Clean and some hot water on the abrasive side of our dish sponge (one side is sponge, one side is rough to get off tough grease or paint apparently. I scrubbed the wood around the windows for about 5-10 minutes and then was able to then pick and peel off the paint.

I am having a carpenter come over in the next two days to look at our options with the baseboards and crown molding disaster. The way it looks now – it will be easier to buy new. (the paint color is a dark blue and we do not have the paint that was used for the white on the crown molding and base boards.)

Take home lesson…as I well know and am really upset this one got past me…if you want it done right, do it yourself or hire a well known professional.
[tags]home improvement, painting[/tags]

Vonage Customer Support: 45 Wasted Minutes I will Never Get Back

Time is very precious to me. I have a lot to do and not enough time to do it. Today I had the displeasure (second time now) of dealing with Vonage’s support via phone.

My issue: My outgoing caller id was incorrect. I thought this would be simple. My thought process on how this would go >>
Vonage customer support: Ok Jennifer, the incorrect name you see was the previous phone number’s contact name, let me update that for you and at worse, have you power cycle your Vonage adapter.
Me: Thanks!
Call time: 5 minutes. The end.

The reality.
I make the call, get connected to customer service, give my account info and verify my address and email address (yeah it is a southern male with a thick southern accent instead of someone from India like last time that did not know what I meant by “answering machine” even after repeating it 5 times (causing Amy to think I was talking to a computer). Please hold.

The southerner cannot help me so I get transferred. I get transferred overseas. I am already pissed. I once again give my account info and verify my address and email address…and explain the problem again. The person I am talking to is hard to understand so I have to ask him to repeat himself several times. Please hold.

He cannot figure out what I am talking about so I get transferred back to the US where I again I once again give my account info and verify my address and email address…and explain the problem again. This guy actually speaks English and looks into the problem. Please hold. Hold. Please hold. Finally I ask him how long this will take. I have now been on the phone for 41 minutes. At minute 42, my phone gets tired, beeps and disconnects me. Apparently the problem will take 24-48 hours to resolve. Meanwhile, I have now wasted almost 45 minutes explaining something simple. My outgoing caller ID is incorrect. Wow. Thank goodness a Coca Cola Classic is never far away.

Moral of this story. Vonage – the service is great. The customer support…sucks. Sucks is a compliment too. This is not the first bad experience I had and I expect it will not be the last.

[tags]Vonage[/tags]

The Importance of Communication

Communication is very important to me and is the basis of a good relationship – personal or business. Over the last few weeks I have seen how good communication can be very beneficial and how bad communication can lead to mistrust, tension, and overall unhappiness.
Case One – Good communication. I am finishing up a large web site for a client who I have been working with for a few months now. To stay on top of everything, we have a scheduled weekly conference call once a week, and then every Sunday I send out a “Web Site Update” email containing all the work I have done, all the questions I have, and address any of the unresolved issues brought up on our weekly conference call. Not only does the conference call help us keep on track, but my weekly email helps communication by making the client happy because they know that:

  1. they always know that when they check their email first thing on Monday morning, they will know exactly where the project stands
  2. they have a record of progress available to them to look back through at any time
  3. they never have to initiate communication regarding what I am doing and what I am not doing (thus letting me drive the development instead of getting pushed)

Case Two – Bad communication. I am currently working on a project with someone who at the very beginning was very open and available for questions/status updates. A few missed deadlines later, I cannot get ahold of him whatsoever. To me, I can understand missing a deadline or two. What I cannot understand is the complete lack of respect for returning my calls/emails/IMs. If there is a problem, let me know – do not ignore me. If there are competing priorities, problems at home, etc – let me know and I will understand. I just want to know that the work/project/etc will be done, but just not in the timeframe we had agreed to. I am not hard to get ahold of and I am always available for a call/email/IM. Ignoring clients/friends/associates is not professional and is only making you look bad.

My refrain: open communication is important. Do not take it for granted. If there is some issue, be open…most likely the other person just knowing some status so suck it up.
[tags]communication[/tags]

Zelazny=Lazybones?

Well…I decided to check spelling of one of my tasks while using Tasks Pro and when it got to my last name (Zelazny), it prompted me to change it/add it. The spell checker, like usual, gave me a suggestion/replacement for the unrecognized word (Zelazny) and I had to laugh. The suggested word to replace Zelazny was “Lazybones”. Not only did I not know Lazybones was a word, but I also had to laugh because I was working while “on vacation” when this word suggestion/replacement came up. Good times.