Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Shipment Stupidity

I pre-ordered some software for me and a friend.  One was ordered from Best Buy and one was ordered from Walmart.  I promised that whichever arrived first, I’d give to my friend and I’d get the other one.

Now I’m wishing I hadn’t promised that.

The software from Best Buy was here two weeks or so ago — which was a day or two after it was released to the public.   The one from Walmart, however, is still M.I.A.

In viewing the package tracking, I’m simply amazed.  Walmart’s notes on the item are:

Will arrive between Monday, 01/22/07, and Wednesday, 01/24/07

Riiiight. Unless they are also sending me a time machine, I think we’ve got a problem…

Orlando is two hours away from me. Jacksonville is probably, I dunno, four hours away? So it makes its way towards me on the first couple days after I order and then it slowly drifts further and further away. How can this possibly make sense?

Hopefully you can understand my confusion on this…

  • Jan 16 2007
    Mail Retrieved From Shipper
    Received at UPS Mail Innovations Origin RPF (Carol Stream, IL)
    Processed at UPS Mail Innovations Origin RPF (Carol Stream, IL)
  • Jan 17 2007
    Transferred to UPS Mail Innovations Destination RPF (Orlando, FL)
  • Jan 19 2007
    Received at UPS Mail Innovations Destination RPF (Orlando, FL)
    Manifested – Postage Paid
    Your mail piece has been transferred from UPS Mail Innovations to the United States Postal Service.
  • Jan 20 2007
    Entered USPS Facility – BMC (JAXVILLE, FL)
  • Jan 29 2007

I just don’t get it. No matter how I look at it, it simply makes no sense. I wrote Walmart to let them know I wanted to cancel the order. If I knew it would take over two weeks to get an item I pre-ordered with them, I would have simply gone to the store and picked it up days after it came out.

Oh, and when the heck did UPS and USPS begin doing hand-offs to one another? Crazy!

[By the way: Geek points go to whichever poor soul can guess which software I pre-ordered]

Monday, 29 January 2007

Night Of A Thousand Crashes

While attempting to transfer rent money to my roommate (aka my brother), I ran into this oh-so-helpful dialog from the bank….

Error During Bank Transfer

Was it successful?  Did it fail?  Who knows.  At least they narrowed it down to one or the other, though, right?

Not exactly something you want to see when you transfer a bunch of money….

Certainly it has to be a joke…  It’s almost like the bank has regressed so far technologically that they are now at the point where they will begin asking, “I like you. Do you like me? Check ‘yes’ or ‘no'”.

Feeling brave, I also decided to check my online bill payments that I have set up. I wasn’t sure what the scheduling was on that.  Well, clicking the “Online Bill Pay” link brought me to the following screen:

Online Bill Pay

You’ve got to be kidding me!  Apparently, the Bill Pay system is outside of the main bank system, so now we’re looking at errors on two systems… Wow.  What are the chances, huh?  I was tempted to write the bank, including the screenshot, and inquiring as to whether the server’s impotency is affected by my account’s interest… but I decided it probably isn’t worth it…  I really just want to switch to a better bank.


I just tried to log into one of my main web hosting providers and got the following error:

Bluehost Login Error

What is going on here?!?!?!  Is this some sort of delayed reaction to Y2K or what? Geesh!  I guess they are focusing so much on 24/7 uptime of my servers that they can’t be bothered to make sure their own keep working…

Silence Is Golden

Sorry I’ve been somewhat quiet on the blog front lately…  I’m in the process of cashing out my 401K and have been trying to give myself a quick crash-course in stocks…  After I put away a bit for a “rainy day fund”, I’ll have about $10k to play with for stocks.  I’d really like to have about 10 stocks… but I don’t have the cash to get a hundred or so shares of each stock right now, ya’ know?  So I’m trying to figure out whether it’s worth getting a handful of shares of each stock or if I want to get a lot of shares for a few key stocks right now and expand my portfolio later.  Hrmph…

I’m attempting to address a lot of my needs the way any good geek would — with technology :)   Rather than the traditional trending analysis stuff I’ve seen, mine will be much more simple.  I plan on using it for two main purposes… First and foremost, I want it to be used in tracking my losses… That way, if a stock is slowly sapping my money and the rest of the market is pretty steady, I’ll be able to switch my funds somewhere else.  Secondly, I’m looking to tie it in with online news, communities like Digg, etc. so I can stay informed about what’s going on with the companies, get a feel for popular opinions of the company value, etc.   Don’t know how useful any of it will be, but it should be fun.   I’d also like to match it up against larger stuff like mutal funds and whatnot.  If the stock isn’t even noticed by “the big boys”, it is probably a more risky bet than one that is….

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Security Through Obscurity

I’ve been playing with SQL Server 2005 a bit more lately.  It took me a little bit, but I finally got remote connections to work — thanks to Josh who I bugged with repeated “Try it now” requests….  heh.  For some reason the SQL Server Browser service wasn’t handling requests properly or something…  In the end, the only way I was able to get connections in was to have the connection made to the specific port number.  Only a minor inconvenience, I guess, but I really wish they’d make it less of a pain to do that stuff right out of the box.   Then again, maybe that’s a good thing… from the security side of things.  By default, SQL Server 2005 isn’t even set up to allow remote connections or use TCP/IP… Great for local development, though, I guess.

I’m still trying to get a hang on the new interface with 2005, though.  I had grown so accustomed to using Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer separately.  It still seems really foreign to me right now — doing it all from one interface.  I wasn’t a huge fan on Enterprise Manager to begin with, but now the tools just seem so much more bloated.  I’m going to try and get a copy running at work so we can start porting over some small stuff…  Maybe my opinion of it will change after that.  We’ll see.

I was planning on writing up some SQL posts, but I couldn’t decide on a topic.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, 26 January 2007

Domain Management

I have way too many domain names…  Just with the ones I could remember, my current count is around 23…

Last night, I decided it was time to write something basic for managing them better.  I’m not worried about things like response-time, uptime, etc.  Really, the only thing I care about is the expiration dates on them.. and, maybe, having some way to make sure they didn’t somehow get transferred away from me.

Currently, my app is pretty small and simple.  It reads a list of domains from a text file.  This list is a combination of sites that belong to me and sites I’d like to have someday.  Eventually, I’ll include a way of distinguishing the two.  Upon loading, it queries the appropriate whois server (based on the domain extension) and parses out the expiration date.  From there, it calculates how long until I need to renew.  If there are any domains expiring soon, it will highlight them and pop up to show me the list. Otherwise, it just quietly closes.

My next change will be to store the expiration dates along with the domain name.  Only when it starts getting close to the expected expiration date (or the user requests it) will this stored value be refreshed.  If the last time I queried the domain, it told me that it expires on, say, 5/3/2008, I don’t have any need for checking that value on subsequent program loads… at least not until, say, 4/15/2008…  This will help keep the program execution time down and will let it focus only on stuff that is likely to have its information changed soon…

Also, I may add in something for expired domains… so if one that I’m tracking happens to have its registration lapse, I can have a quick way of registering it (whether through just a link to a registration site or something more convenient like an automated registration script).