06-29-09 - Blurg

My internet has been out at home for four days now. Arg Comcast. I've spend probably an hour on the phone with them, partly because they refuse to give me a direct number to tech support. They're so evasive about it. I ask for the number for tech support and they say "okay" and then give me the number for general customer support. I say "umm no, that's the main number for customer service, I want the number for tech support" and they say "that is the number for tech support" ; one time I said "are you refusing to give me the number to tech support" and the guy was like "no, I have given you the number for tech support". Yeesh.

This Cable Modem Troubleshooting Tips is pretty good. With a Surfboard you can go to and see your own status and event logs. Of course good luck getting to talk to tech support person who understands any of that. The new thing at Comcast is apparently rebooting your modem. They just love rebooting your modem (they can do it by remote control). Any time you call up, it's "I'm going to reboot your modem, please wait" which takes two minutes and does absolutely nothing. I try to explain that I've done that myself many times to no avail.

Last Friday I was stuck in the elevator at RAD for about an hour. I got in with Mike and pressed the button and it took us up as usual, and then just stopped. None of the buttons did anything, it refused to budge. Turns out it stopped just a few inches away from the floor, and because it wasn't lined up it refused to open the doors. We waiting about an hour for the technicians to show up and pry the doors open. One of the weirdest things about the whole experience to me was that when the technicians showed up they didn't say "hello" or anything at all, there was no "hello, is everyone okay in there?" or "we're going to pry the door open now" - nothing. They just started banging on the door, then one of them climbed through the roof and jumped onto the top of the elevator with a huge BANG. I was like WTF, warn us that you're about to jump onto the fucking top of the elevator. It was weird.

Game Angst has a pretty good article about the problems of deferred shading that nobody talks about. I'm a fan of deferred shading in theory, but he has a good point. There are other problems - for example it makes the pipeline for alpha vs. non-alpha completely different (presumably you would render alpha stuff onto your scene using forward shading after the deferred shading is done). Also, it basically means you have to use the same shader on everything, or that you can't use many different types of shaders that take different parameters. Like if you wanted your main characters to be rendered with very nice spherical harmonic lighting and the rest of your stuff to be lit with N*L , you can't really do that with deferred shading. (obviously the uniformity and unification is one of the appealing things about deferred shading). Another one that popped into my head while reading that is the hacky semi-Lambertian falloff. Instead of just doing Clamp[ N*L ] , it's nice to do Clamp[ (N*L + C)/(1 + C) ] , which serves to let the light go "around the edge" a little. By giving the artists control of C per object you get a very cheap way to improve lighting, but with deferred shading you'd have to add an extra attribute channel which is absurd.

I keep looking at apartments. I had to pay July rent, so now I have a lot of time, so I thought I'd go ahead and try the "Secretary Solution". See the Bruss article "The art of a right decision" . The basic idea is to look at places for a while and not take any of them. Then when you hit a certain preset time, you switch modes and then take the first place which is the best seen so far. As I noted before, this maximizes the chance of getting the best place, but it doesn't maximize average real EV and when it fails it can be arbitrarily bad. Anyway, I plan to look without taking for another week or so, and then switch modes.

I looked at this Grand Apartment in 1903 Mansion . It'd fucking amazing. The kitchen and the floor plan are perfect - it's almost exactly what I would design myself, which is saying a lot. The kitchen is huge and open, but not too open - it's got counters and islands separating it from the living room (I hate places where the kitchen directly spills into the living room with no barrier). The big problem with this place is the location. It's on a really shitty street on the west side of Broadway (the east side of Broadway is the good part). The street has a bunch of halfway houses for men on parole; those are actually the good neighbors - the halfway houses have curfews and the guys are very quiet because they have rules and they don't want to get in trouble. The bad neighbors are all the other shitty apartments full of broke punk kids. Anyway, it's another place like the Duplex that kind of presents a quandary for me - it's fucking gorgeous inside this apartment, but not so hot outside, I dunno how to weight that.

There are also tons of houses coming for rent. So far none of them is quite ideal, but it's encouraging to see a bunch of them on the market. Most of the best places are still trying to sell, the neighborhood is just blanketed in "for sale" signs. Upstairs neighbor stimpy dickhead has been waking me up at 7 AM recently. I desperately need to get the fuck out of here. I wouldn't mind waking up early except that it puts my commute right in the middle of rush hour, which I usually try to avoid.

In other apartment news : padmapper is a much better version of the "craigslist on google maps" than the original "housingmaps.com". On padmapper you can hit the "+" to expand the filters and get much nicer control. PadMapper desperately needs to be able to save searches though, it's semi-useless without that.

Mercer Island around Mercer Way is a lovely place to ride. Getting there is miserable. It would be kinda sweet to live there, so I could hop right out my door and ride the loop. Of course I only like riding up here maybe 4 months out of the year since I don't do cold or wet. And if I really want nice riding out of my door I should move back to SLO where the riding is sweet and the weather is fair every day. Anyway, while I was riding I saw a cyclist getting carried to an ambulance on a stretcher. It was a scary reminder of the extreme danger of this hobby. On the plus side, I'm over my fear of speed that I've had since my last bad crash. I can now open up in fast descents and my body doesn't tighten up. I am still consciously choosing to be more careful and go slower, but it's a logical choice, not a panic reaction, so I'm happy about that. Two of my car crashes and one of my bike crashes were caused just by bad road conditions; I'm much more aware now of how likely it is to go around a corner and find a huge patch of oil or sand or something you can't control or avoid that's going to make you crash. People who speed around corners that they've never been around before are just retarded, it would be fine if it was only dangerous to yourself, but you never know when someone else is going to be there around that corner too. I consciously try to only speed around corners if I've been there before recently so I know the conditions. It would be really sweet to be able to ride on closed roads that are all smoothly paved and free of debris, but I guess you have to be a pro to get that. If I was billionaire I'd spend my money on shit like that. You could just rent the entire route you want to ride, country lanes in vermont, or mountain roads in the rockies, send a street sweeper ahead of you to make sure it's all clean, have any nasty bits repaved, and then have a beautiful ride. What would it cost, maybe $100k ? If you spend $100k every day for the rest of your life, it only reaches around $1 billion. No problem for a Gates or Buffet.

Seattle's summer days are quite wonderful. It's a shame to waste even a single one, since you only get maybe 20 total. You need to run around in the sun, have nothing in particular to do except enjoy the moments, sit on a patio and have drinks, play, breathe.

I need to have a child so that I have someone to play with. I just want to go the park and play tag and catch. I guess I could get a dog, but dogs are gross. I've always wanted a rent-a-dog service; I'd love to have a dog at the park, I just don't want one getting hair and slobber all over my house. It's kind of horrible to have a kid just to get someone to play with, but I suppose it's not as bad as the reasons why most people have kids - to "carry on the family name" (WTF is that) , to show the world how awesome you are by creating a child that's very successful (look at my son the doctor, aren't I such a great parent), or to make a little you that can do all the things you wish you'd done and have the breaks you didn't get so you can live vicariously through them.

The Vintage Seattle blog is super awesome. If you like old photos of cities (as I do) it's a treasure trove; go back through the old posts. It always blows my mind just how empty this country was 100 years ago ( for example ). The picture of the great white fleet is stunning.

Sean has put up his game Succor . It's an extremely interesting & clever concept; I won't spoil it, go download and play.

It occured to me the other day that since I use an HTPC to watch TV now, I could plug in a gamepad controller and play some little games on my TV (like Mutant Storm). LOL yeah right. I don't want to crash or reboot my fucking TV machine, which playing games would certainly cause.

I test-drove a G37 again a few days ago. It's a good car, I don't blame anyone who gets one, but I won't. It's a tiny bit too small, I hit my head on the roof. Supposedly by the official "front headroom" measurement it's bigger than the 135, but the reality is not so; I have plenty of room in the 135 but not in G37. The other problem is it just feels impotent at low revs, and it's too big and heavy. They brag about the "smoothness" of the acceleration; I don't want to ride a wave of acceleration, I want to be punched in the gut. The car should be gentle when I'm soft on the pedal, but it should jerk me around mercilessly when I thrash it.

Anyway, it was a funny test drive. The salesman guy was a total stereotypical douchebag car salesman; he had a baggy suit on and told me the trunk fit his golf clubs just fine. He told me has a G37 himself and got it lowered 1.5" so that he can't get over any bumps. I was like "ah, sweet", playing along trying to encourage the douchiness. He told me it looks great with bigger rims, "put some 20's on it". Yeah. So he showed me the bluetooth functionality, which granted is very good - much better than BMW - and he mentioned you can easily turn it off if you're in the car with someone and you don't want your calls to show up on the screen. I was like "oh yeah, if I'm riding with my girlfriend and my mistress calls I don't want that showing up" and he immediately said "yeah, I always turn it off, I told my girlfriend the bluetooth doesn't work in my car". OMG super lol. Nice job super douchebag car salesman, you win life.

The advantage of the G37 over the 135 is that it is more direct and mechanical; it has a real LSD, the steering feels much more connected and responsive to me, the pedal to acceleration response feels more analog and mechanical. That's all good. Also, the computer in the Infinitis is totally superior. I've seen BMWs and Audis and Mercs and in all of them the computer is the fucking suck, I would rather not have it, it's a total mess to use. The Infiniti is a touch screen for the mother fucking win. Plus the navigation is very simple and intuitive, it's got arrow keys and "enter" on the steering wheel so that you can do many things without looking, and it has voice activation and it actually works (as in, I tried it on a car I've never used before and it recognized my selections correctly on the first try with no problems). I was extremely impressed, it's by far the best car computer I've ever seen. I still would probably rather not have it, but if you really like car computers, it's the one.


ComcastCares1 said...

You can reach out to us at the email below if you need further assistance. Sorry for the trouble.

Mark Casem
Comcast Corp.
National Customer Operations

cbloom said...

I have now emailed that address but I have very low hopes.

Aaron said...

This is good. Tons of people read these rants, it'll be good for us to see how Mark's outreach works out for you.

Eric said...

PadMapper dev here, thanks for the mention (and the feedback :-) )

PadMapper has been changed to make it so that the next time you come back, it'll be exactly where you left it. Does that fix your complaint about the saved searches?

Otherwise, you can save the search as a link, which you can share.

old rants