Tuesday, June 30, 2009

OfficeMax over Office Depot from now on

I'll be writing in more detail about the computer and the Windows tax later, but I wanted to lead off with a quick review of Office Depot. They suck, and I'll never shop from them again. A little history.

When I was looking for a laptop last year, I was interested in a Toshiba at Best Buy. I took the Ubuntu install disc with me, and they kindly let me run Ubuntu as the live cd so I could test out video driver, sound, etc. The employee was very nice, and while I didn't buy the computer, I was very appreciative of his time.

Today we went looking at a Compaq at Office Depot. The rebate put it under $300, and it would have worked well for my dad and his gf Rita. Before rebooting the computer, I asked one of the employees if it would be ok for me to test Ubuntu out. He flat out refused, saying they were worried about me messing up the computer. I explained what a live cd is and how it would not affect the computer. I told him we were interested in buying 2 computers and a monitor, but he was steadfast. We then talked with a manager, and she checked with the store manager, who said they would not allow me to do it.

Now, I understand that it's a lack of knowledge about computers, and that the employees were afraid of some guy coming in off the street and messing up a computer. Fine. But, the way I see it, if you're selling computers, even at Office Depot, you should know a bit about shit like that.

So, we left and went to OfficeMax. Not only was Kristen, the employee that helped us, extremely helpful and genuinely interested, but they boxed up a display model and gave us 10% off on that. I even gave Kristen a copy of the 32bit version of Ubuntu to play with at home.

We walked out with 2 computers, a 20" monitor, and a new found respect for OfficeMax. I'll never shop at Office Depot again.

Stay tuned for a series on trying to get a refund for unused Vista licenses from HP.

HP Refund for Windows Tax: So far so good

First off, let me explain that I'm really diggin' Ubuntu, and I want those around me to use it.

My dad has had the same computer for almost 10 years now. It's an old Pentium II, 600MHz, 128MB ram, 20GB hard drive. OLD. Today I bought him a new computer, and his gf Rita got the same one. They are HP Pavilion Slimline's with AMD Athlon X2 dual core procs, 3GB ram, big 'ol hard drives, etc.

They will not be using the Vista that comes pre-installed. Even if I can't get a refund, I'll still be installing Ubuntu. That being said, I read an article on linux.com about a guy that got a refund from Dell and decided to give it a try. There's also a Wikipedia page on Windows refunds, which lists some specific cases. Hopefully they are true stories.

So, I was on the phone with an HP tech support guy for 45 minutes this evening. He was very nice and polite, but tried to feed me most of the lines I was expecting. He tried to convince me that Vista was free, and that if I were looking for a refund, I should try Microsoft. He also told me to return it to the store, but that won't work either.

Tomorrow at 11:30 Central I should be expecting a call from HP. The case was escalated to the complaint department, and then the case manager will review it and let me know what their decision is. Regardless, I hope the info can help others out there that might find themselves in the same boat.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

10 year high school reunion: what a blast!

So far my trip back to Indiana has been awesome, and I expect it to stay that way. I flew in Friday night, and was met at the airport by my dad and Rita. I picked up my rental car, which though I paid for a compact, I was "upgraded" to a mid-size. So I've been driving a Toyota Matrix, which has been fun. On the way back from O'Hare we stopped at the Parthenon in Greektown and had some amazing food. I had no idea the bean salad was THAT good. I'll be making more of that when I get back to Portland.

I stopped in Chesterton to see my old friend Ed Strudas play some music at a bar. I was pleasantly surprised by how well he performed and had a good time. Got back to La Porte and got to bed. Saturday morning I woke up and went to my dad's auction in Gary. Got there toward the end, but I managed to take a few pics and record some video, which I'll have to post soon.

After the auction and some grub, I went back to Chesterton where I stopped in to the bowling alley and saw Jennie Keck. It had been many years! I went up to Porter Beach and hung out for a while before my reunion. It was so nice up there. I forgot how soft the sand is, and the water was nice and warm.

I ended up getting to the reception late. I forgot dinner was served at 6, so showing up at 7:30 was a bit of a mistake on my part. That being said, I had a great time talking to everyone. Catching up was very easy and casual, and everyone seemed really happy. No drama that I witnessed. No one was pretentious or snooty at all. All I can say is I had a fabulous time.

After the reunion, Jacques and I got (eww) Taco Bell, the least unhealthy thing open that late, then went to Hooligans. Definitely not my scene, but it was nice to see some more people. We hung out for a bit with Karen Kenney/Garcia and Valerie Karriman. Karen looked great for having a kid only 6 months ago, and Val was as cute and nice as ever. If you're reading this Val, I'm still angry ;-)

We could only stand the smoke and music for a bit, so I headed over to Bill's house where Marko, Derek Holmgren, Luke Ember and Ben Cole were hanging out. Congrats on Bill on his new house! We left around 2:30 and ended up talking at Ben's until 4:30 or so. Even though that's only 2:30 my time, I'm still a wuss and was tired as hell.

Breakfast this morning with Ben, Derek and Jacques was really fun. I hadn't been to Northside Diner in a looooong time. Thanks to Ben for breakfast! My oatmeal was delicious. Jacques and I ran around for a bit, then met up with Ben for a bit, took a walk, then headed out.

I'm glad this has been such a great trip so far!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to rip a cd to mp3s in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty

~: sudo apt-get install sound-juicer gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse
You need the ugly gstreamer plugins to rip to the patented mp3 codec.

Edit --> Preferences --> Edit Profiles --> Edit the CD Quality, MP3

For different bitrates:
audio/x-raw-int,rate=44100,channels=2 ! lame name=enc bitrate=256 mode=0 vbr-quality=6 ! id3v2mux

Close, Close, Close, Extract!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lost Wall has been found

So I had heard about the Lost Wall a year ago or so, but never ventured to find it. It's out by Madrone, and with some bushwhacking and guidance from others that have been there, we found it. Along the way I took some shots of a few lizards, which I had not seen out at Madrone. Plenty of banana slugs, but no lizards until today. Cute little buggers!

A snail with some orbs or eggs or something.

Dana and Zach, jaws dropped, looking up at the Lost Wall

My photos turned out dark and I was too close, but it looks like a promising area. I think another 10 routes could go in easily, and once a trail has been established, it won't take 2 hours to find!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fixie is done!

The guys at Meticon Bikes helped me finish up the last few issues on the bike (cut down the fork, swapped out the bottom bracket, spaced the hub and put on the chain) and I want to say thanks! Definitely check them out at SE 60th and SE Foster. Anyway, the fixie is ridable!

I'll be swapping out some parts here and there, but otherwise I've very happy with the way it turned out. I've been debating on putting a front brake on, and for the first bit I'm opting not to. I'll just have to be careful going down hills mainly, but I think I'll get a handle on it.

Not bad for my first paint job huh? It's not the best, but definitely good enough for now.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Fixie painted, parts thrown on for some pics

Almost there!

I know, pics are kinda dark. I'll get some better ones once it's done. I thought I bought the wrong bearings, and while that was true, it also ended up being the case that I have a JIS headset (an old Japanese size) and once James down at Bike Gallery sorted that out, I was good to go. I think I'll need some spacers for my headset/stem setup, and I know I'll need some for the rear wheel. Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday I'll have time to take it down to Meticon to finish it off.