charity · digg · fun · joke · Life · tax · taxes · work

Head Down, Busy Busy, Busy, and FU IRS

I love my job. I really do. Solving puzzles is fun and that’s what I get paid to do. “I deal with the customers so the engineers don’t have to.” Wait! I’m the engineer, too. Oh, crap.

I’ve been so tied up earning a living, I haven’t had time to keep the blog up very well. April Fools Day was a blast. I really enjoyed writing and reading all the digs (Note: that’s digs not diggs. Even as a techno-geek, I find digg boring.) the blog-o-sphere created for the annual event.

Once the infernal taxes are filed, I’ll start planning next year’s joke. Taxes are a necessary suckness, made easier by guys like me. We take the tax code and turn it into a computer program in your web browser and in less than an hour, your taxes are done. Thank you computer nerds. I’d like to put us all out of a job with something like the Fair Tax. I’d end up paying more, but the stress reduction would be worth it.

If you’re curious, my effective tax rate was 9.72%, but I got a huge deduction for sending socks, Q-Tips, and lip-balm to some soldiers in Iraq. Kind of sad I had to do that, but I’m happy for the line item.

AC · annoying · Associated Content · Life · Mashable · money · payments · policy · retraction · web writing · work

The Associated Content Two-Step

…or why this post had a question mark in the title.

Associated Content did a little back peddle today. The same “VP of Community Development” who posted the policy change about non-exclusive content no longer receiving up-front payment consideration, posted and update today which included “We will continue to evaluate content submissions for upfront payments on both an exclusive and non-exclusive basis.”

Current crisis avoided. However, hints were left in the explanation that a change is still waiting in the wings. The rush to change was blamed on ” …a serious legal issue.” I don’t have any facts or background on what this issue was, but I’m guessing it was probably complaints from other sites such as that triggered this.

Accusations of copyright infringement were made by some contributors to Mashable. AC founder Luke Betty responded, but the whining continued by the Mashable community ad nauseum despite AC’s assurance that better checks would be put into their system.

The real question is what changes does Associated Content have planned and how long will it take to implement them? The AC staff certainly got an eye full of forum posts on the subject. Many AC contributors had excellent alternatives to the heavy-hand “no soup for you” ruling that AC first announced. Time and tide…and stay tuned for more.

dogs · handy · home repair · Life · work

Getting handier by the minute

I’ve never been too handy with those little home repairs. My kitchen sink has been leaking for almost a year now. For two months, the sprayer has been laying in the sink to keep the water from running over the hose and into the cabinet below. That’s my solution. I’ll do anything to avoid tackling the problem. But the tide may be turning.

We’ve never had a key to the back door. It had a deadbolt that required a key from both sides and the previous owner failed to pass that along at signing. If it wasn’t closed just right, a good wind would blow it open. I figured, how hard can replacing a lock be? It’s just a couple of screws. So I picked up a new deadbolt, one with a turn-latch on the inside and key on the outside, and replaced the back door lock in just a few minutes. That got my confidence up and I decided to tackle the next job.

We have a picket fence around the backyard. It’s cute, but less than functional, if the main function is to keep the vicious hounds enclosed. My five-pound miniature Chihuahuas can step right through the pickets. They think the coolest trick in the world is to slide through the fence and make a break for the front yard, the neighbor’s yard, the street, or anyone walking down the sidewalk.

An idea to remedy this situation came to me in a flash of brilliance…lattice. I bought some two-foot-wide lattice and nailed it to the inside of the pickets along the sixteen feet of fence and gate that leads to the front. It worked perfectly and only took 30 minutes, including hand-cutting the lattice to fit each of the three sections. I thought it was an ingenious solution.

It appears I’m turning into quite the handy man. My confidence is high and next month, I plan to take on that kitchen faucet. I may even buy some decent tools.

I give the dogs a week before they figure out there is still 100 feet of unprotected picket fence still vulnerable to their evil games.

computer · email · fun · humor · joke · laugh · slack · spam · work

Fun With Email: When Good Computers Go Bad

Email is the blessing and bane of daily life. Get too much and you can’t get any real work done because you are just replying to emails. Get none and you start wondering if the pink slip is the next message you will receive. When emails start to drive you mad, take your revenge creatively with these suggestions.

Fun with acronyms

Every industry or company has their own language. One of the unfortunate side effects of jargon is that common phrases turn into acronyms. Honestly, most people in the company have no idea what 99% of the acronyms represent. So make some up and put them in the signature of your emails.

I once managed a mailing list of about 300 people that used a particular computer system. Monthly or weekly communications were my responsibility and I would sign every email with “MOBTAS LOAIS” under my name. After 18 months and hundreds of emails, only one lady ever asked me what the acronym meant. Everyone else either ignored it, thought it was some project code, or was too proud to admit they didn’t know. The lady that finally called me on it had a good laugh when I told her it stood for “Master of Both Time and Space. Lord of all I Survey.”

Be creative, but not crude with your acronyms. A wonderful alternative to this is to remove all vowels from your emails completely. Oddly, they remain readable.

Fun with Languages
Use a free on-line translation service like BabelFish or FreeTranslation to translate your text into a foreign language. I like to use Dutch or Norwegian. Don’t use Spanish or French since everyone learned a little of those in high school. Non-Latin alphabet languages don’t work well for this game. You might try sending one to yourself just to check the font.

When the bewildered response comes, translate your reply again. When you finally get the inevitable phone call from the befuddle recipient, insist that you are sending plain English and the problem must be on their end. Tell them to check their software settings. Recommend they uninstall and reinstall their software or operating system. Be adamant that they must have some strange font installed on their computer. When they say, “But it only happens to your emails,” tell them it must be a virus that soon will spread to other emails. Convince them to unplug from the network until help arrives.

Fun with Sound
Record yourself reading the email text and attach the sound file to the email. This is actually a really helpful tip if the recipient is blind, but it’s fun for the sighted, too. Where does the really fun part come in? Record something other than the email text and attach it.

Imagine an email with very dry, technical, run-of-the-mill facts in the text with a recording of Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” attached. You might even attach a paranoid, lunatic rant, including Biblical prophetic citations of the end of the world, about how your dog is stealing your girlfriend and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are tunneling under your house every morning at 3 o’clock.

It really confuses them if you sent a few recordings that match the text and then suddenly attach a recording of Hamlet’s soliloquy to your monthly report. Pairing “fourth quarter sales are up 8%” with a recording of your best falsetto Lady Macbeth’s “out, out damned spot” speech is always a boardroom winner.

Fun with Legalities

Sign all your emails with a paragraph of legal jargon in 4 point type. Make it light gray to make it even more unreadable. You can reproduce a product warning label or use a software programs “terms of use” text as the source.

I get emails every once in a while with “if you are not the intended recipient…” under the sender’s signature. If I’m not, you shouldn’t have sent it to me. Be more creative than that guy. Make your “terms of use” say

By reading this email you acknowledge from henceforth and in perpetuity to:

  1. Wash the sender’s car on alternate odd Saturdays.
  2. Profess to the world on every Federal holiday, the sender’s genius.
  3. Love the sender’s dog even when he has the mange.
  4. Refer to the sender as “Loretta” on Wednesdays

Call random recipients up four weeks in the future and ask them when they are coming over to wash your car. Threaten them with breach of contract if they don’t show up by 5PM, Greenwich Mean Time.

One word of caution if you follow through with these ideas, keep your resume up to date. I can’t be held accountable for your insanity. We all have to find our own, personal madness and make it work.

AC · Associated Content · ethanol · gasoline · neglect · slack · snafu · sql · work


Neglect is an ugly word.  The connotations bring images of abandon children and starving puppies to mind.

Hi, My name is Barefoot and I’m neglectful.  I’ve neglected the blog for a few days.  I’ve been distracted with work.  You know work.  It’s that darn four-letter word that pays the mortgage and pesky grocery bill.  I have to focus on it every now and again.

Right now, I’m creating thousands of tiny SQL statements.  Oh, the joy!  Problems solving with programming doesn’t get any better than this.

Then there was the whole Associated Content snafu yesterday.  Seems they miscalculated the cumulative count of hits for the last few weeks.  When caught and corrected, people were understandably bummed that their huge increases weren’t what they were all cracked up to be.  Tempest in a teapot compared to the price of gasoline.

Speaking of gasoline, when did they stop mixing it with ethanol?  My car ran just fine on that and it was so much cheaper.  I hear Brazil makes ethanol out of sugar cane is is 100% energy independent.  Brazil did it.  Why can’t the U.S.?

We have tons and tons of viable material.  We have the technology to build dual-fuel-source cars.  I’m going to have to buy a scooter.  My minivan is just sucking the life out of me.

Blazing Saddles · Life · slack · work

Suffer the little bloggers

“Work, work, work work. Hello boys did you miss me?” ~ Governor William J. Le Petomane (Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles)

The blog stats are telling. Recent work developments have cut into my writing and blogging. A big project at the old day job has most of my attention lately. I’ve been putting in 60 to 80 hour weeks for the last month. It’s getting pretty old, pretty quickly.

I really enjoy my job, sans the politics. I like solving problems, designing programs, and coding. This latest effort is insane though.

“Mongo only pawn in game of life.”

AC · Associated Content · forum · Life · slack · work · writing

Time and energy

I’ve wanted to sit and write several articles this week. Associated Content is beckoning. I feel like there is something that needs saying, but I’ve become the victim of deadlines. Work is hot and heavy right now leaving me little time or energy to write.

The thoughts and ideas don’t stop. Sometimes they just come in dreams of html, perl and javascript. I’m doing my best to not let them get lost in the daily struggle that is life. I’m scribbling them down as fast as I can and hope to give them the proper treatment soon. Life has regrets and I’m glad mine are small at this point in my life. If not being able to write is the biggest problem I have (it’s not, but let’s say it is), I’m blessed.

Now it’s off to some sci-fi decompression and a few forums to share.