blarg?

I should have said this a long time ago, because by now you likely either know this information already or wouldn’t have cared at all about it either way, but here goes: Shadow Of The Colossus is one of my all-time favorite games. It’s certainly the most emotionally involving game I have ever played, epic, stark and beautiful. However: “Roar Of The Earth”, Shadow’s soundtrack, is what I’m here to talk about.

It is a fantastic soundtrack; it’s all I’ve been listening to for days. It’s buy-new-speakers-to-better-appreciate-it good, rethink-your-audio-encoding-process good. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

That is all. Nothing to see here, go about your business.

12:35 <shaver> you should blog this shit

I have, I concede, been remiss in my blogging. In my something-that-doesn’t-truly-hold-water-as-a-defence, I am not alone and also busy and, you know, stuff.

Stuff, I tell you!

I’m about to endorse an Apple product, here, which makes me kind of sad; whenever I mention that there might possibly be the slightest good thing about Macs a small but vocal contingent of my readership, by which I mean one guy I can barely stand, starts saying things like “told you”, “ha” and “booya”. I mean, that’s fine, I bought a Lenovo that I’m totally happy with, I hate him, he hates me, and my laptop doesn’t spend any time in the shop and its batteries don’t swell up and explode, so as far as I’m concerned, it all works out.

But that’s neither here nor there, and now that the Pope has abolished Limbo I’m really not sure how you’d draw a line from where you’re standing right now to these abstract ideas to which I refer. Unless you’re that nominal friend I’m talking about in which case you should give up on the line-drawing and just stab yourself with the pen. Otherwise I think it’s safe to just drop the whole thing, really.

Because while I don’t own a Mac, I’ve been charged with the care and feeding of around a hundred and fifty of them. A damn lot of Macs, in truth, in a damn lot of places I’d have to walk to if people in remote parts of the corporate apparatus suddenly can’t see the network shares. Like too many SAs I know, I am enthusiastic about technologies that enable me to solve people’s complicated problems without actually standing up, so if your situation is anything even vaguely like mine, boy howdy, have I got a treat for you.

I stand here today to sing of you the pure, unfettered joys of Apple Remote Desktop 3. I would kill a man with the comically-inconvenient appliance of your wildest imagination’s choosing for a comparable Windows-based product.

How do I love thee, ARD? Let me count the ways:

  • Silent observer, one-click to control and one more to return control to the user. One click to turn the channel around, and show the user your desktop. One-click “curtain”, for when you need to do stuff remotely that maybe they shouldn’t be looking at.

  • Painless, accurate client discovery. One-click ARD-client-standardization.
  • It’s still BSD under the hood, so one-click-to-terminal.
  • One-click software install. One-click hardware and software audit, and software metering.
  • Client grouping, and bulk installs. Smart grouping, like smart folders. Remote Spotlight, OMG.
  • Localhost-to-client drag-and-drop.
  • Automator. swoon

The fact that it costs, in enterprise-ware terms at least, basically nothing (where said nothing is not even per-client) is just that much thick, delicious gravy slopped about your plate of steak and frites, giving them the appearance of lonely, oddly-brownish island paradise in a distant and strangely also brownish-but-delicious sea.

Seriously, it’s an incredible product. If you’re responsible for the care and feeding of any number of OS X machines that are further away than the next office, I cannot say this strongly enough, it is worth every single penny.

“You have reached Symantec Enterprise Customer Care Team.”

“You have reached a recording on a machine.”

“We are currently experiencing a high volume of inquiries related to the newly introduced Symantec Licensing Portal.”

“Lots of people can’t actually use our products right now because we’ve basically screwed the pooch. You’re one of those people, right?”

“Please be assured that we are working in earnest to address the difficulties experienced,”

“Computers are, like, hard,”

“and we strive to return to the excellent service levels you have come to appreciate from Symantec.

“…but we’ve already got your money.”

“We are responding to issues as quickly as possible.”

“You’re about to spend at least two hours on hold. Did I mention that we already have your money?”

“We sincerely appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences caused by this delay.”

“We hope you like country music.”

There’s nothing I like better than giving thousands of dollars to people who think my time is completely worthless.

Fuck you, Symantec.

Some things you may not know about me, according to my iPod:

I Ain’t Drunk
I Am A Wicked Child
I Am Citizen Insane
I Am In Love With You
I Believe
I Can Hear You Calling
I Can See Clearly Now
I’d Give You Anything
I Don’t Need you Tonight
I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up
I Feel Like Going Home
I Feel Love
I Found a True Love
I Found That Essence Rare
I Got a Strange Feeling
I Heart Fags
I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You
I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
I Keep Coming Back
I Kill Children
I Knew You Before
I Know it Spills
I Know You
I Like It
I’ll Kill Ya
I’ll Play The Blues For You
I’ll Shoot The Moon
I’ll Sue Ya
I’ll Take Care Of You
I Love A Man In A Uniform
I Love Booster!
I Love Rock and Roll
I’m A Believer
I’m Afraid of Americans
I’m A Man
I’m Down
I’m Free
I’m Gonna Be
I’m Shipping Up To Boston
I’m Sleeping In A Submarine
I’m So Excited
I’m The Toughest
I Must Increase My Bust
I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
I’m Your Man
I Need A Dime
I Never Talk To Strangers
I Reject
I Shot the Sheriff
I Should Have Known Better
I Sit On Acid
I Spy
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
I Still Miss Someone
I Think I’m Paranoid
I Threw It All Away
I’ve Been Everywhere.
I’ve Got More
I Walk The Line
I Wanna Be Like Johnny C
I Wanna Have Fun
I Was a Kaleidoscope
I Was Wrong
I Will Be Grateful for This Day, I Will Be Grateful for Each Day to Come
I Will
I Will Follow
I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker
I Won’t Back Down
I Would For You

So, there you are.

Funny story: I found out today from a Chinese coworker that apparently in China it’s bad news for a man to be wearing a green hat, or to be given a green hat as a gift – a green hat is a sign that your wife has been unfaithful, or is possibly a woman of negotiable virtue. So when he emigrated to Canada, he tells me, his first week here was a weird, confusing, hilarious week.

He arrived just before St. Patrick’s Day.

Put yourself in that man’s shoes, and tell me that you don’t just laugh and laugh. “They’re having a parade!?

Ladies and gentlemen, joining us today after an extended stay in the abdomen of my close friend Melanie, I give you: Mr. Ryan Richters.

Our experience with Toyota service has been uniformly bad. I suppose that this is not most people’s experience with Toyota, but is sure has been ours, over years, different dealerships and different cities. The car itself, at least until the warranty ran out, was fine. Then suddenly it wasn’t, and getting it serviced after that just felt like getting robbed over and over again, unconvincing reasons and repeat visits attached to hefty price tags, stuff we’d thought would stay fixed from the last time.

If we were still in Ottawa, I’d take it to Mr. Takaki again in a minute. But we’re not. So, our long saga of sporadic car repairs has come to a close. After yet another Toyota dealership tried to screw us, this time out of twelve hundred dollars (half of which was to replace almost-brand-new but dangerously aftermarket parts) I went, bought the parts and did the repairs myself.

I’m looking over their list of “recommended repairs” now, and I don’t know whether to be angry or just laugh. “Replace cracked drive belt: $107+Tax”. That breaks down to a twenty-five dollar part, and (presumably) an hour of labor; it turns out that a rank amateur with the right wrench and the replacement part can do that job exactly right, on the first try, in less than ten minutes.

These time estimates they give you are apparently written down as the “accepted industry times” somewhere, giggle. I’m sure somewhere it says “time to replace rotors: 1 hour” and “time to replace pads: 1 hour”, but when you take your car to (just to pick an example) Downtown Toyota on Queen Street East, they won’t tell you that the time to replace rotors and pads at the same time is 1 hour and two minutes. The retail cost of replacement parts is less than $150. Time? About one hour for the first one, and about twenty minutes for the second one. From start, with zero experience. Toyota wanted more than four hundred dollars for that work. And, according to them, not because there was anything wrong with the brakes but just to replace almost-brand-new parts whose only defect was that they weren’t manufactured by Toyota.

And it turns out that once you’re willing to get your hands dirty, the actual work is about as difficult as changing a bicycle tire.

I should have done this years ago.

Just in case this isn’t totally clear, when I use the phrase “maybe I don’t understand the technology, but…” followed by anything at all, I actually understand the technology quite well. What I’m saying is that you don’t understand it, and that this is your opportunity to back away slowly from your position. Those words are, like the bright colors of the lionfish, the stripes of the coral snake, the bulging vein in my forehead and the thousand-yard stare you’re getting, one of nature’s important warning signs.

Happy new year!