Friday, September 28, 2012

v43.2: Fracking Friday

Howdy folks,

It's Friday!  Thankfully the gods have deemed us worthy and have allowed us to see another Friday.  If you are one of the fortunate ones to have their work week end today, I bid you a happy weekend.  If not, you can join the club with me.

Unfortunately for me, I will be working most of this weekend.  There have been a lot of things going on at work this week and as a result, I will be spending most of my weekend tied to my BlackBerry and laptop while I perform changes and monitor progress/emails.  I'm sure things will go well and come Monday all of the things I hoped to accomplish will be completed and running well.  I don't foresee any complications, but like anything in the IT industry, it can go bad real fast and end up spoiling your entire weekend.

This weekend also marks the season premier of Dexter.  I started watching Dexter after season 5 had ended.  I downloaded all of the episodes and watched them back-to-back all the way up to the end of Season 6.  If you're a Dexter fan, you're probably anticipating the season 7 premier as much as I am.  If you've never seen Dexter, I won't spoil it for you but suffice to say, it's going to be very interesting to see how this season is going to start.


As some of you know, Blizzard released the latest expansion to the World of Warcraft franchise this past week.  The expansion is called Mists of Pandaria and it introduces a whole new race (Pandas) to the world of Azeroth.  I wasn't really that hyped about this expansion as I was in the past ones, but I was still excited to check out some new content and see what new things were added to the game.  In typical pre-release fashion, Blizzard rolled out a bunch of the changes that were expansion independent a few weeks prior to the release date.  I was able to play around a bit with these new changes and I must say, they've done a great job.  The expansion came out Tuesday and I hadn't had a chance to login and check it out until last night (Thursday).  This marks the first time I have ever missed an expansion release; in fact, I didn't even think about it at all on Tuesday until after I got home from work and realized I couldn't login and play because I had a bunch of work to do and wasn't able to.

Last night I decided to take a bit of a break from work and ended up logging in and spending a couple of hours playing.  Blizzard introduced this new system called "Pet Battles" which is basically Pokemon using the non-combat pets you've collected over the last 7 years.  At first I was a bit sceptical about the system and how it was going to work, but after spending a few minutes learning the new interface and reading up on the FAQ, I found myself in-game going around and finding pets to kill and capture.  Basically it starts off with a quest (after you've learned how to do pet battles) which sends you away to defeat a pet.  A "pet" is simply a critter and you see them all over the place.  Some of these pets are flagged for pet battles and when you click on them, it starts the pet battle interface.  You can specify your "active" pet out of all of the pets you have and the turn-based fight will begin.  The fight ends when either your pet(s) or the other pet(s) are defeated/captured.  Yes, you can capture pets in this system and add them to your pet list.  If you come across a pet you don't already have, you can challenge it and fight it.  Once it's health is below 35%, you have an option to capture it.  In the beginning you will almost capture it every time on the first try, but later on it gets more difficult and it may take more tries to successfully capture the pet.  Pets are also of different quality (like gear); you have your common, uncommon, rare and epic type pets that are placed all over WoW.  Sometimes you may even go up against multiple pets which makes it a bit more challenging.  So far I've only ever had to fight 1 pet at a time, but I'm assuming that will change later on as my pets get higher level.

It's a fun system and very well deployed.  I can see wasting many hours of my game time playing with this feature in the near future.  If you're a World of Warcraft player, some of this will make sense to you; if not, I apologize :)

Well folks, it's time to get back to work and prepare for my work filled evening and weekend.  Remember to always ensure you look both ways before crossing the street and abide by the rules of pedestrianism (ooo, big word).  Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice.



Monday, September 24, 2012

v43.1: Yawn

Good morning folks,

A wise man once told me, "You can never catch up on lost sleep.  If you try, you will only end up being lazy."  I would have to disagree :)

Thankfully God created coffee, otherwise I would never make it through my days.  There's just something about the smell and taste of coffee that seems to just wake you up in the morning (or afternoon or evening).  Of course not all coffee is created equal and recently I was introduced to a new way of making coffee.  I thought it might be a fun exercise for you at home to attempt to make this coffee along with me.  I've broken it down into 10 easy steps and if done correctly, will yield the most amazing cup of coffee you have ever had.

What you need

  • Coffee beans (any kind will do though you may want to go with the cheap kind your first time around until you get the process down)

  • Coffee grinder (preferable one you don't mind throwing away after)

  • A bowl (see note for coffee grinder)

  • Patience (good things come to those who wait?)

  • Small tin of soft cat food (you know where I'm going with this)

  • A cat (your own or a neighbour's cat will do fine.  As you get the process down, you may want more than one cat for mass production)

The process

  1. First you will want to take the coffee beans and get them prepared.  You might also want to ensure you have not fed the cat yet today to ensure the beast is hungry enough to eat what you are about to feed it

  2. Take the tin of soft cat food and begin to fill it with the coffee beans.  If you have a smaller cat, you may want to cut the beans in half to ensure they are swallowed whole.  It is very important that your cat eats the beans whole and does not chew them.

  3. Take the cat food full of the "ninja" beans and place it on the floor (in a bowl preferably) and watch as your cat (or your neighbour's cat) begins to slowly sniff the food trying to figure out what it is.  Thankfully the cat has not eaten today and it is hungry enough to just about eat anything.

  4. If everything goes as planned, your cat has eaten all the food (beans included) and is resting happily licking its paws and grooming itself in the sun.  A small purr may be heard as the cat is telling you it's happy and thankful to be fed.

  5. This is where your patience comes in.  Now we sit and play the waiting game.  What are we waiting for you ask?  Why we're waiting for the cat to take a shit so we can gather the precious coffee beans that have been sitting inside the cat soaking up all the nutrients and special things there.  Yes, I said "special things".

  6. Once the cat has relieved itself (there may be some discomfort as the beans pass through the cat's ass hole), you may gather the precious pieces and place them into the bowl so they can be cleaned.

  7. Clean the beans thoroughly.  It is very important to clean the beans but not to soak them as that will defeat the purpose of the exercise thereby depriving you of the most delicious cup of coffee you have ever experienced.

  8. Take the recently cleaned beans (not soaked remember) and place them into the coffee grinder.  You can grind the beans as fine as you like.

  9. Brew the coffee in whatever way you enjoy most.  I suggest getting a French press and letting the grinds soak in the water to ensure a rich, flavorful cup of coffee.

  10. Drink and enjoy.

You are probably sitting there staring at your screen in complete disbelief.  I assure you, this is done today.  It's called Kopi Luwak and while you're not actually feeding the cat "beans", I thought it might make things more amusing.

Well folks, I think that is enough for now.  I hope everyone has a great day and remember don't try to feed your cat coffee beans at home :)



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

v43.0: Yarrr

Howdy folks,

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Today is September 19th.  Also known as the 262nd day of the year (263rd day if it's a leap year) and exactly 103 days left until the end of the year.  That's right folks, we've gone through approximately 61% of this year already and Christmas is less than 100 days away.

There is also another special event going on today.  If you're an iPhone/iPad user, today marks the day you can get iOS 6.  For some of you this may not be a huge deal, but for those of us in Canada, it marks the ability for us to use Siri to get locations in Canada.  Now you can ask Siri, "How do I get to place/address/etc." or "Table for 2 in Halifax" and Siri will be able to help you out.  I imagine our friends to the south have had some of these abilities for a while now, but for us here in Canada, this is exciting times.

Of course iOS 6 comes with a bunch of other interesting features which I won't bother reposting here.  If you're interested in seeing what's new in iOS 6 you can ask Siri "What's new?" or you can read about them here.


Today's Coffee Musing is brought to you by Tim Horton's.  Drop by Tim Horton's today and buy one of their Smile Cookies for $1.  You can make a difference in a young child's life.  Also drop by and check out their new Super-Tasty strudel in either Apple or Strawberry cheese; they are quite delicious.  I was going through some of the old "Roll-up-the-Rim to Win" statistics I used to keep and I was quite shocked to see how much the price of a coffee has gone up over the past few years.  I remember back in 2005/2006 I was paying $1.55 for an Extra Large coffee from Tim's.  I didn't start recording the "cost" of the Roll-up-the-Rim contest until 2009, but then an Extra Large coffee was $1.73 (Large was $1.54).  Today when I went to Tim Horton's, the price of a Large (not Extra Large) was $1.96.  That means between 2009 and 2012, we've seen the price of a Large coffee at Tim Horton's increase by approximately 42 cents or 10.5 cents per year.  At that rate, by the time 2020 comes around, we can look forward to paying approximately $2.80 for a Large coffee from Tim Horton's.  I digress of course.  The price of things must go up over time as long as we're still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.  Hopefully someone figures out a nice, clean way to generate energy soon.


Last, but not the least by any means, today marks my 7 year anniversary at my company.  It is hard to believe I have been here for 7 years today.  I look around and see how much this place has changed/grown over the last 7 years and feel slightly proud that I was here and had a part in the growth and success.  It's been fun and for the most part I've enjoyed my time here so far.

Well folks, work beckons me like a horny lover so I must answer her call.  I hope you all have a great day and don't forget to at least answer the phone like a pirate once today.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

v42.9: Engine Boring for Dummies

Howdy folks,

I finally got my truck up and running and back on the road.  It's been out of commission for a few weeks due to an issue with one of my spark plugs blowing out of the engine stripping all the threads in the aluminum head.  Vehicles can be a pain in the ass sometimes, and my truck has definitely had its fair share of problems over the last year and bit since I bought it.  I realize it is a bit older, but the thing ran so well for the first 6-8 months I had it, I never imagined I would have this much trouble with it.

Now you're probably wondering, so what?  Well I'm no mechanic but I do understand a bit about the internal combustion engine.  For those of you who don't have any clue about when I'm talking about, the spark plug plays a very crucial role in the engine.  It is the piece that generates the "spark" required to ignite the fuel inside the engine causing a small explosion which will force the piston downward turning a crank which powers all the mechanics in your vehicle.  These spark plugs are designed to fire a certain sequence to ensure the crank is constantly spinning.

Now imagine, if you will, this firing sequence was disrupted and one of those spark plugs was no longer firing.  The crank wouldn't be turning as well as it should be which means there will be a loss of power and the engine will be shaking quite a bit.  In my case, since the spark plug was no longer in the engine, there was a small hole exposing the inside of the engine.  This means that not only was the truck running badly, it was also producing a LOT of noise; same as when a vehicle has no muffler.

As I mentioned initially, the hole in which the spark plug would normally fit was now stripped.  This means replacing the spark plug wasn't going to work since there were no threads there for the plug to latch on to.  So what is one to do?  I called around to various mechanics to get a quote.  The prices varied, but the best quote I could get approximately $800 (estimated parts and labour).  One place I called quoted me $2000 stating I need to take the engine apart and have the head examined and machined.  I was pissed off and figured I would be without a vehicle for quite a long time; I know $800 doesn't seem like a whole lot of money, but right now money is pretty tight so having to drop $800 like that wasn't an option.

I was shown a website which seemed to be dedicated to post how-to guides on how to fix various issues with Ford trucks.  It was great and come to find out the issue with spark plugs "blowing" out of the engine on some of the older model Triton engines is quite common.  This particular post I was looking at was talking about a kit one could buy for fairly cheap that would allow someone to bore out their own engine and insert an "insert" into the newly bored hole which, in essence, would re-thread it allowing a spark plug to be screwed in.  I was very hesitant to do this as I am definitely not a mechanic thought I have worked on vehicles before and even assisted in tearing down a couple of engines and rebuilding them.  I understand what all the parts do and how they work together, so I guess you could say I have a better working knowledge of vehicle mechanics than the average person.

I decided to take the chance.  I dropped $250 on parts and yesterday after work I decided to roll the dice and get the job done.  It was a lot harder than they described in the thread.  Obviously I don't have the best set of tools for doing this type of operation on a vehicle, but I was able to bore out the hole using a steel tap and a socket wrench.  I had to be very careful with the aluminium pieces that would be peeling away as the jagged steel bore slowly dug the hole.  I was so worried that I would end up with an engine full of pieces that I over did it on the grease on the tap.  I managed to capture all of the aluminium pieces in the grease and successfully bored out the hole so I could put in the insert and screw in the spark plug.  When the spark plug initially blew out, it also broke one of the ignition/oxygen sensor coils (which are conveniently mounted on top of the spark plug) so I had to replace that as well.  There was also one other ignition coil that wasn't working quite right, so while I was at it I decided to replace that one too.

I took the truck for a test drive last night and it worked perfectly fine.  The engine seems to be running perfect and I feel pretty good about being able to fix it.  I'm quite confident the new insert will stay though I've been going easy on it just to be safe.  It also felt good to save myself a few hundred bucks :)

With that I will leave you with the following funny story which was shared with me this week:

From a teacher -- short and to the point 

In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I've noticed that more and more
people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the
art of capital letters.

For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of the
following statement: "Capitalization is the difference between helping
your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."
Is everybody clear on that?



Friday, June 15, 2012

v42.8: Lost in Lost

Howdy folks,

I recently started and finished watching the TV series Lost on Netflix.  I had heard good things about the show so I decided to spend some time watching it.  I must say, the first few seasons were really good.  The story is excellent and the idea of a bunch of strangers involved in a plane crash and being stranded on an island peaked my interest.  Of course nothing (and I mean NOTHING) could have prepared me for seasons 4 and 5 (especially seasons 5).

If you've seen Lost you'll know that the show has a lot of flashbacks.  The writers did this (I suspect) to help with character building.  Every so often the show would flash back to a character's life before they came to the island; usually to explain why a character behaves a certain way or has the issues they do.  Of course every single character on the show has some kind of "baggage" (and no, not the kind you bring on a plane).

As if flashing back to the past wasn't enough to lose you, around season 4 or 5, they decide to throw the island into a state of temporal flux where the characters are somehow jumping through time on the island.  One minute it's 30 years in the past, the next it's 3 months in the future.  All the while this is going on, there are flashbacks which really confuse the watcher.  I think this was intended, because by the end of all the time jumps and flashbacks, you have no sweet clue where they are in time.  In fact, one of the characters makes mention of this in the last season by stating they have no idea "when" in the hell they are.

I did start to lose interest in the show during this, but I stuck with it to the end and was a little disappointed with the ending.  If you've never seen it, I won't spoil it for you, but I think they could have done much better with the ending than they did.  That's not to say the ending wasn't good, it just didn't provide the closure I was looking for and I still had a lot of questions at the end.  If you've seen the show before, you probably feel the same way since everyone I've talked to about the show seems to have the same impression of the last episode.

So now I'm looking for the next series to get hooked on.  If anyone has any suggestions I'd really like to hear them.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend!



Monday, June 11, 2012

v42.7: Renewal Notice

Howdy folks,

I received a notice to renew my domain name last week and I've been thinking about it whether or not I should let it lapse or if I should keep it going.  Today I decided I would go ahead and renew it for another near and see where it goes.

I realize I haven't been posting much lately and to be honest, I haven't really had much to write about.  I've had quite a few things happen over the last 7 or 8 months since I last posted, but nothing I really wish to share with the public; at least not yet.

The short and long of the story is I've decided to renew the domain and make a conscious effort to write as often as possible and hopefully get back to a place where I'm posting daily.  Perhaps I'll take some time and re-read some of my earlier/older musings and see if I can recapture some of the fun that made this site enjoyable for me.

I'd like to thank those of you who offered me your support and told me to keep it up all those years.  Here's to many more to come.