East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Resellers are people too

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 8:56 pm

Last week I had the dubious pleasure of realizing that Amazon‘s shipping charges suck when you want to order more than a few items from the same reseller because they absolutely do not bother to take into account that the items can and most likely will go into a single box. Makes me wonder how many resellers earn a large chunk of their profit from that fact, when customers buy 2 or more items, Amazon pays them as if the items will be shipping in separate boxes, and in practice the cost is about as much as it would be for just one item.

Thankfully the resellers — or at least the two I dealt with — were responsive to my request to cut me a deal. In the first case I was ordering 20 small individual items, cost of the items being just over $50 and Amazon charging me nearly $100 for shipping those. After contacting the reseller and emailing back and forth a bit, he offered (and I agreed to) a refund of around $70, which made the deal a lot more acceptable. Thank you Hot_Wires! The second also responded positive, but then it turned out that the reseller didn’t have the needed number of items so I’m still waiting to try a substitute item and then decide on what to do.

The lesson is, I guess, twofold:

  • Pay attention to what your online store is about to charge you.
  • It never hurts to ask for a discount.

Happy Monday!


What a week!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 5:31 pm

  1. A week ago one of the computers at work went down and refused to come back up nicely, it then took far too long to get it restored. This delay was at least partially due to the fact that we changed the layout of the HDs, and partially due to the unfamiliarity of the co-lo tech with Debian, but still, a restore shouldn’t have been that troublesome?
  2. On Monday our backyard was filled a third of the way with rainwater. Then the water come up through the sump hole and flooded part of our basement. On Tuesday our backyard was filled halfway with rainwater, at least partially because the water from the previous day hadn’t had a chance to get the heck out of there yet! We’ve since then applied a shop vac to the soaked carpet repeatedly and a shiny new sump pump was initially pumping about 5 gallons of water every two minutes into the bathtub (for lack of a better spot, we’ll deal with getting it permanently installed later).
  3. This morning I drop M off and as I leave I have this nagging feeling that I had my regular glasses with me but I can’t find them anywhere in the car so I convince myself that I must be mistaken and I’ll find them at home. I start to drive home wearing my sunglasses which I was wearing already, and as I get up to 30-40 mph, I spot the container with my regular glasses be blown off the hood… GAH! I’m still surprised that I was able to recover both the frame (badly bent out of shape) and lenses (scratched up). The nice woman at the Wal-Mart Optical department (the nearest optician I could think of) straightened out the rather flattened frame and reminded me multiple times to be very careful with it from here on. I quite agreed with her disclaimer that she couldn’t be held responsible if the frame broke after her miracle repair of sorts.

Here’s hoping these things come in threes and this was the last mini-disaster of sorts to happen for a while. It’s leaving quite an impression on my poor visiting parents, even if they’re never going to admit that. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Still alive

Filed under: General,OS X,Software — Erwin @ 3:52 pm

Really, I am. Just busy with other things!

Recently I’ve been working on/with:

  • Flex 2.01 / Flash 9, for work, and potentially for personal entertainment.
  • MarcoPolo, mostly for myself, to make it easier to switch from our home wireless network to the home wired network to the in-laws’ wireless network, etc.
  • Upgraded the family-tree website to 6.1.0, and immediately lost several hours tracking several branches on ancestry.com.
  • Upgraded the WordPress installs to version 2.2. This broke the accordion effect of the sidebar, but I’ll worry about that some other day.

Yesterday was the last day of school for the boys, so I’m now rediscovering my basement office where I’d spent very little time in the past couple of months. It is in desperate need of cleaning out but I guess that’ll have to wait until the weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚


It does what?

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:23 am

In the expression the plot thickens, is there some explanation for what the plot was originally and why it got thicker? Sure, I can see how it implies that things get more difficult to sort out, the water muddier, whatever, but it seems to me like there may have been more to it, whatever it was.

Who knows?


Jury Duty

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 5:54 pm

A week or two ago I was surprised by a letter from the local judicial district. Eh? Yeah, I’d been summoned for jury duty. Cool or not cool, that was definitely a first for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

However, I was pretty sure that I would be excused because, last I checked, I’m not a citizen. So we filled out their questionnaire (which includes a question about citizenship), sent it off, and waited.

This week we got a reply from the court that, as expected, I had been excused from jury duty, so it’s all cool, but, now I’m wondering: Where the hell did they get my name anyway? Is it because I pay (state/federal) taxes? Is it because I have a driver’s license? How does that work?


Merry Christmas!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:32 pm

Yes I know it’s a bit early, but I just had to share this. ๐Ÿ™‚


Back in the saddle

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 3:46 pm

Go BoardAfter a 11-12 month hiatus I’m back at DGS and dusting off my Go skills. I blame this on Pรคr!

In some ways it’s like riding a bicycle, you immediately pick it back up and find your balance, but in other ways… you forget what certain signs mean and find out the hard way that you should’ve paid closer attention to them.

Hey Annie, are you up for a game as well, perhaps? Or Kalle? I have no idea who else among the readers here plays the game, but anyone that does is certainly invited to create a (free) account at DGS and challenge me to a game. My userid is jochie and my rank is 16 kyu right now, although I’m sure that’ll change a bit in the days/weeks to come. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update: Add Lydia to that list, how silly of me to forget. ๐Ÿ™‚


Do The Math

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 2:51 pm

Oriental SnackI finally found, at Big Lots, the Japanese snacks that I had been looking for recently (because I haven’t had them since I last visited the Netherlands and I missed them).

Unfortunately what they sell are 3 ounce bags (in a box that could fit half a pound, easily) for $1.00 plus tax while the online store that I’ve been considering sells 1 pound bags for $2.99 plus tax and shipping. If you ignore the shipping that’s a great deal, $0.19 per ounce instead of $0.33 per ounce. The catch, of course, is that shipping means UPS, FedEx or DHL, where even the cheapest option for a 1 pound bag is around $10.00, destroying your initial advantage!

Now let’s try a few calculations. Suppose I’d want 5 pounds of these snacks (and yes, I am confident they’ll be eaten, M and I both love it).

  • Getting that in 3 ounce containers locally means buying 27 boxes. Ridiculous overpackaging aside, that’s $27.00 plus tax, so around $28.85.
  • Getting that in 5 bags of 1 pound each, online, will cost me $14.95, plus shipping cost of $10.33, makes a total of $25.20.

That’s heading in the right direction…

This gets even better when going up to 10 pounds: $57.80 versus $40.55. Even if the last bag goes a little stale towards the end that will be worth effort. To minimize that we’ll repackage one bag at a time, keeping the remaining 1 pound bags in better shape.

The downside to this approach is the need to store the bags somewhere convenient, but we can work that out. ๐Ÿ™‚


Greetings from Denver!

Filed under: General — Erwin @ 1:58 am

We arrived safely after a *checks time* 12 hour trip (stops included), which I think means we averaged 55 mph. Not bad? Missed out on the whole mountains in the horizon that just don’t seem to get any closer effect because it was cloudy (rain and thunder). Drat, but maybe next time. The AAA TripTik print-out worked out beautifully with correct directions all the way into the hotel parking lot, and now I’m using their (Holiday Inn Express, that is) free (as far as I can tell) wireless to browse around a little and check weather forecasts and such. Joy.

I expect to be busy in the next few days while I’m spending time with in-law family members I have never before encountered, then driving back home on Sunday.

Have a good week-end and weekend, everybody. ๐Ÿ™‚



Filed under: General — Erwin @ 6:32 pm

Just for the hell of it I’m putting together a list of things for which I receive spam.

  • Casino, blackjack, poker, etc websites
  • Dating sites (Russian and other)
  • Free gifts (Armani, (Hugo) Boss, Versace)
  • Financial advice (stock, loans)
  • Medicine (viagra, cialis, ambien, valium, hoodia, xanax, tamiflu, meridia, levitra, soma, tramadol)
  • Software (Windows XP, Corel Draw, Photoshop, Encarta, Borland Delphi, …)
  • Watches (Cartier, Omega, Rolex, …)

Of course the spammers also invoke the names of known institutions to sound reliable:

  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • VISA

Why don’t we hear more complaints from these brands, or are they profiting too much from the spam (any news is good news, any attention is good attention) and don’t care?

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