Racquet-breaking Outburst

Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis has become quite the Internet sensation after destroying four of his tennis rackets during a temper tantrum in his second-round loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Continue reading: Manufacturer comments on Marcos Baghdatis’ racket-breaking outburst

I used to really like Marcos Baghdatis. He’s from Cyprus and came on the tennis scene in 2006 in a big way with some terrific playing in the Australian Open. He beat Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic, and David Nalbandian, before finally losing to world #1 Roger Federer in the Australian Open finals. Less than two years earlier, I had gone on a 3-week class trip during college to Cyprus. So, while pulling an all-nighter with friends to watch the finals, I was really cheering for Baghdatis. I guess I can see breaking a single racquet in anger…but sitting down, pausing between each racquet, and even breaking two while they are still in their bags is just crazy.

Other tennis players also have had trouble with emotions getting in the way of playing. Here’s what McEnroe said:

In his autobiography, You Cannot Be Serious, McEnroe contested his anger was condoned by tennis officials because it was good for the sport – a sort of comic sideshow of spit and bluster. ”They had a show to put on and my presence put behinds in the seats,” he wrote. ”If I went home they lost money. The tournament directors knew it, and the linesmen knew it. I knew it. The system let me get away with more and more.”

Read more: Tennis brats: temper tantrums nothing new on court

New Terms for my PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card

If you’ve read about my problems with credit cards, you’ll see why this is so frustrating. Just when I had settled on the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards card and chose it as the one card for me to use (5% on gas and 1% on everything else), I received a letter “Announcing a new way to earn more rewards.”

Starting on February 1st, 2012, “in order to maximize the financial value we can deliver to you through this lower purchase APR, the earning rate for rewards on non-gas purchases will also be adjusted from 1% to 0.25%.” Fortunately, the 5% rewards on gas will continue…but for how long? The APR is being lowered from 13.99% to 9.99%. Since I pay my bill off in full each month, I could care less what the APR is.

If I stick with the card I currently have, I’ll get to keep the 5% back on gas as well as the convenient monthly cash rewards deposits. If I switch, I’ll get rewarded in points. 5 points for gas, 3 points for supermarket, and 1 point on all other purchases. Not many details, such as the minimum number of points needed to redeem, are yet available. However, it says on the letter that the points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, gift cards, and even Visa prepaid cards. If I switch I also get 5,000 immediate points and another 20,000 if spending at least $1000 in the first 3 months…essentially $250 for switching. The problem with this is that the points can be devalued and why would I want to buy products with a prepaid card when I could just use the credit card and get cash back? (If I change my mind, I’ve read that the deal still applies come February.)

So, it looks like I’ll be switching back to the Bank of America Cash Rewards card. 1% on everything, 2% groceries, and 3% gas paid in cash but not until $25 are accumulated. I’ll use PenFed for gas but Bank of America on everything else. PenFed’s customer service is great (nearly as good as Schwab’s). I’m not impressed by Bank of America at all. I’ve been on hold for the last 33 minutes and counting after being told that the wait was around 5 minutes. “We appreciate your business…please continue to hold” x 15+ times! What a joke! At least they are very friendly once I actually get to talk with someone.

Son Of Strelka, Son Of God (narrated by Obama)

Hey y’all. Long time no see. For the past four years, I’ve been working slowly but obsessively on a very odd project. Bit by bit I’ve dissected Obama’s self-read autobiography into thousands of very short phrases, usually one to ten words or so, and have used these snippets to tell a completely different story from the original. I’ve then set the story to music. The story is called Son Of Strelka, Son Of God. Broadly speaking, it tells the story of an ugly dog-faced demigod who recreates the world after it is destroyed. It’s about thirty minutes long, and lies in some weird grey area between audiobook and electronic music.

The Something Awful Forums

Head to the forums on the link above to download the work in its entirety. According to yalelawtech.org, the “use of Barack Obama’s voice is fair and allowed according to the law.”

Animations that people made to go along with the first two chapters of the audio book are available here. It must have been a lot of hard work, but the end result is amazing. You can’t tell at all that the words are out of order.

Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

Below is a great article on the origin of one or two spaces after a period. I think I finally learned this while writing a research paper for a biology class in college.

Can I let you in on a secret? Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.

And yet people who use two spaces are everywhere, their ugly error crossing every social boundary of class, education, and taste. * You’d expect, for instance, that anyone savvy enough to read Slate would know the proper rules of typing, but you’d be wrong; every third e-mail I get from readers includes the two-space error. (In editing letters for “Dear Farhad,” my occasional tech-advice column, I’ve removed enough extra spaces to fill my forthcoming volume of melancholy epic poetry, The Emptiness Within.) The public relations profession is similarly ignorant; I’ve received press releases and correspondence from the biggest companies in the world that are riddled with extra spaces. Some of my best friends are irredeemable two spacers, too, and even my wife has been known to use an unnecessary extra space every now and then (though she points out that she does so only when writing to other two-spacers, just to make them happy).

What galls me about two-spacers isn’t just their numbers. It’s their certainty that they’re right. Over Thanksgiving dinner last year, I asked people what they considered to be the “correct” number of spaces between sentences. The diners included doctors, computer programmers, and other highly accomplished professionals. Everyone—everyone!—said it was proper to use two spaces. Some people admitted to slipping sometimes and using a single space—but when writing something formal, they were always careful to use two. Others explained they mostly used a single space but felt guilty for violating the two-space “rule.” Still others said they used two spaces all the time, and they were thrilled to be so proper. When I pointed out that they were doing it wrong—that, in fact, the correct way to end a sentence is with a period followed by a single, proud, beautiful space—the table balked. “Who says two spaces is wrong?” they wanted to know.

Continue reading: Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.

Super expensive hard drives & some cool price trackers

I was searching Amazon for reviews of the Synology 4-bay Network Attached Storage devices and noticed that hard drive prices were very high. Remembering that floods in Thailand in October may have contributed to this, I found this article, Hard drive prices showing rapid decline, on Google. This article stated that “the floods in central Thailand in October wiped out more than 25 percent of worldwide hard drive production.” Here’s what that site had to say:

An example: The Camelegg chart, which tracks prices at Newegg, shows the Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green Western Digital20EARS hit a low of $69.99 just before the flood. A month later, on Nov. 10, it had soared to $249.99 — an increase of 250 percent. Today the drive sells at Newegg for $162.99, which is 35 percent less than it cost a month ago. The pricing trend is clearly down — although how far down and how fast are points of conjecture.

Wow, a huge price increase! This chart on Camelegg shows a graphical representation of its price since January 11th, 2011. It looks like I will be waiting awhile until I buy a NAS or get new hard drives! But, I did find same really sweet sites to track prices at Amazon, Backcountry, Newegg, and Best Buy.

You can even sign up to receive email alerts when products go on sale.

Amazon – http://camelcamelcamel.com/
Backcountry – http://camelcamper.com/
Best Buy – http://camelbuy.com/
Newegg – http://camelegg.com/

Very First Digital Camera Photos

When I was digging through some of the files that I had backed up on a random CD I found this assortment of some of the first photos I took with my, then new, Minolta G400. These are all unedited. Unfortunately, I’m missing a couple of them here and there. The ones I deleted must have been really bad because those that I kept aren’t that great either!

My Smugmug gallery is here: First Minolta G400 Pictures

Here’s some examples:
Very first photo taken!
Very first photo taken! 12/24/2003

Continue reading

Experience with 1Password

Around Thanksgiving we bought a family license for 1Password when there was a special discount. I had previously kept track of my passwords on a password protected iPhone app and had an encrypted text file on my computer for backup. I probably had about 5 or 6 passwords that I used for everything. Most online places considered them “strong” in quality due to my use of numbers and symbols. However, I reused all of them at multiple places and used the password manager app to really only remind me which one I had chosen.

I think it was at the beginning of the summer that I had introduced my brother to 1Password and other similar types of apps. Before I knew it, he kept telling me how great it was. He said that other than maybe his email password and the 1Password master password, he had absolutely no clue what any of his other passwords were! At least at first, this seemed like it would complicate things and be slower. I was so wrong.
Continue reading

Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood?

Rick Reilly, of the back page columnist in Sports Illustrated fame (now writing for ESPN) just wrote a great article entitled, It’s Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood now, on Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

You’re either a Brett Favre man or an Aaron Rodgers man. Can’t be both, same way you can’t be a Sara Lee man and a Slim-Fast man. Not physically possible.

Gotta choose. Which are you?

Rodgers men are patient. Favre men are pissed the microwave is taking so long.

Rodgers men wait for their openings. Favre men make their own openings — with benzene torches.

Rodgers men love that their hero is having the kind of season Favre never had: 31 TDs, four picks (two of those off tips) and becoming the first QB in NFL history to start the season with 10 consecutive games with passer ratings better than 100. The man is playing as if he’s popping “Unlimited” pills.

Favre men don’t want to hear about numbers, unless you’re bringing up MVPs (Favre 3, Rodgers 0) and Super Bowl appearances (Favre 2, Rodgers 1). But that’s just longevity. Rodgers men want to talk about simple, eyeball-bulging greatness: (continue reading…)

Me personally? I like both quarterbacks equally well. However, the Packers have now become Aaron Rodgers’ team. Favre was great for a long time but held out for a few seasons too long. Favre should have retired as a Packer…he’d forever be a legend in Green Bay. He still will be, but it will just take a number of years for the memories of the last few years to go away.

Traffic Congestion

As long there’s no crash that is backing up traffic on 43-N heading out of Milwaukee, I’ll typically take it back to my apartment. If there is substantial traffic, then I tend to take Lake Dr north along Lake Michigan. That is a really scenic drive with a number of really cool houses.

Even when traffic is flowing well there almost always is a temporary backup at the Silver Spring/ Bayshore Mall exit. This Is likely due to the Silver Spring traffic entering right where the interstate is going from three to two lanes. However, I think a big contributor to the slow down are the idiots who feel they can drive in the lane that is ending (which they know because of all the signs) and then cut in right at the last second. This forces everyone else to brake and allow them to cut in.

The offenders tend to drive expensive cars and, I’m assuming, feel otherwise privileged because their time is so much more valuable than the rest of us. I tend to forgive some people that cut in at the last second because they may be from out-of-town or the lane-ending sign may come up quickly. But in the case above, the sign occurs plenty early. I’ve even seen people try and use the ending lane to pass a few cars and then cut back in.

It would make me feel really good if all the sign abiding folks just didn’t allow these other drivers back in (done safely, of course). Make ‘um hang out on the side of the road for awhile until they get the idea.

There is some research that may back up my traffic congestion theory: Traffic Jam Mystery Solved By Mathematicians

Update on credit card

Just got a call from the Bank of America fraud alert. Someone in China tried to buy $700+ dollars at a boutique store and $90 at something called “Noapple” today. The crazy thing was that this card number was getting changed anyway (re: my last post). I guess this just forces my hand earlier to update the auto-payments. The good news was that Bank of America had declined these transactions so the scammers didn’t steal anything. Hopefully Bank of America catches these horrible people.

Reminds me of a story on heard on 620 WTMJ yesterday and this morning: Police in downtown Milwaukee shot and killed a bank robber after he opened fire on them during his escape. While his cousin claims that he was a “good guy,” turns out he was actually on parole for robbing the exact bank that he robbed again yesterday. Police also have video of him robbing two other banks over the last few months in the greater Milwaukee area. Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel article here.