April, 2002

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vtluu.net revenue beats estimates by ∞ percent!

Monday, April 29th, 2002

Received a quarterly statement summary for my Amazon.com referrals. As you may (or likely may not) recall, I’m signed up as an Amazon.com Associate so I can create hyperlinks on my sidebar that should remain valid for a long time (the assumption being that it’s in Amazon’s interest to keep those links working in the foreseeable future). Also, Amazon.com has pretty decent information and/or reviews written up on most books and music, so it’s an easy way to create a link that’s relevant and useful without doing any research.

According to the statement, I made whopping $1.50 in referral fees… Which, though laughable is fully $1.50 more than I was expecting. So to whomever bought CDs from the links on this site, thank you!

Living out of boxes

Monday, April 29th, 2002

My move into my new apartment has gone off without a hitch. All that remains to be done (besides unpacking everything at my new place) is move my 25-gallon aquarium (hopefully tonight), clean up the old apartment, and undo some of the changes I’d made to the wiring (I had a bunch of X10 controllers installed to allow central control of lighting).

I’d like to create an online video tour of my new place, as soon as I can borrow a video camera and find the time to author the video… All after I unpack, of course. And get some more furniture; I’ve finally thrown out the remaining bits of flimsy furniture that I had as a college student… (Except for the futon I’d gotten just before I moved here, but it doesn’t really count since I’d already graduated by the time I got it.) As a result my new living room is devoid of furniture; whereas for the past couple years I’ve been “meaning to get” a coffee table, not having anything to sit on while watching the tube or playing XBox is a considerably less avoidable problem.

Ghost in the machine

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2002

I forwarded a PDF of the Morgan Stanley “creepy” letter (below) to my financial advisors and very quickly received a phone call. They’d checked it out on their end and apparently the letter had been mistakenly sent out… what’s more, the person whom the letter was purportedly from (and signed by) is no longer working at MSDW. (I didn’t have the nerve to ask what “no longer working at” meant.)

They’re still looking into how the letter got sent out at all… since the subject matter (MSDW’s change of name and logo) is also old news. Presumably some computer glitch caused the letter to be dated, printed, and automatically mailed. Weird, but I guess these kinds of things do happen…

Creepy…

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2002

Received this letter from Morgan Stanley (my money managers) today. The return and mailing address came as a bit of a surprise, though, given that the letter is dated last week.

[Morgan Stanley letter]

Sheer, utter, total incompetence

Monday, April 22nd, 2002

Getting renter’s insurance for my new apartment has proven to be a lengthy exercise in patience. The folks over at Answer Financial—or maybe just the fellow I’m dealing with—have proven to be hopelessly inept. I submitted my application through their website, yet they somehow felt it necessary to phone me up and have me repeat the very same information to them over the phone. What’s more, they kept confusing my old (current) address and new address, as if retaining that tiny bit of information was beyond their abilities. What’s so hard to understand about wanting to buy insurance for a place before I move into it? You’d think I was the first person ever to do it.

Their latest screw-up: after specifically asking me what address I wanted the forms mailed to (and after I explicitly spelled it out to them), they nonetheless managed to mail it to my new address, whereupon the mail was returned to them. I’ve never before had the misfortune of dealing with such a bunch of bumbling idiots, and I hope never to have to again (though undoubtedly I will).

Six days and counting…

Monday, April 22nd, 2002

Moving day approaches. It’s amazing how much stuff I’ve accumulated over the past 2.5 years. Much of my packing efforts over the last week has involved getting rid of as much of it as I can: giving away useful items and recycling or trashing the rest—ratty old pieces of furniture from my university days, empty software boxes (two large trash bags’ worth), and other cruft that I’ve left piled up neatly here and there.

I’ll probably disconnect and pack my computers tonight so I can remove all the cabling and seal up the holes I’d cut through my walk-in closet’s walls to route them.

Not-mail

Sunday, April 14th, 2002

Seems that each day, my Hotmail account is increasingly useless. I think the signal-to-noise ratio is falling below 1:10—less than one useful E-mail message for ten pieces of spam. In related news, I received my first piece of spam to one of my vtluu.net E-mail addresses this week; specifically the one I use for eBay transactions.

I think I may start using temporary mail addresses for dealing with eBay and the like… As for my Hotmail account, I’ll probably stop using it entirely. A few weeks ago, they started imposing a 2MB limit for free accounts, whereupon exceeding that amount of messages in one’s mailbox would cause one’s account to stop receiving mail messages. I verified this was an easy way to screw over any Hotmail member of your choosing, simply by sending them enough mail to fill their mailboxes.

Beyond WIMP

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

There’s a great article in this month’s issue of Scientific American about augmented reality, possibly the next “big thing” in computer graphics and user interfaces.

The reason that article gets me excited is that it signals a departure from and beyond today’s main user interface paradigm, WIMP (Window, Icon, Menu, Pointing device). Every windowing system used today (as far as I know) is a variation on WIMP: all incarnations of Windows, Xfree86, even MacOS X’s shiny new user interface. Despite the cute and “kewl” little features in the latest UIs I can’t help but feel a bit bored with them all. WIMP is tired. WIMP is old news.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, is all-new. Basically the idea is to overlay user interface and informational elements over real-world percepts—typically visual. For example, you could wear a headset, walk along, look at a movie theater and when you hold your gaze on it, the computer would automatically display what movies are playing there, show times, and a user interface to purchase tickets—all overlaid “on top of” into your visual field so you wouldn’t need to look at a screen or display. In another example you could choose a nearby destination and the computer could present a path to get there as a visible “trail” you could follow. And so on…

Devil in the details

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

Been spending altogether more time than I’d like to on the phone and otherwise indisposed, dealing with all the little details that go with moving:

  • Hiring movers.
  • Giving away some unused stuff I have lying around the apartment so I don’t have to move it.
  • Getting electricity hooked up, or rather, billed; it’s always hooked up—I just have to start paying for it once I move in.
  • Hooking up cable TV. I wish I could get DirectTV or DishNetwork satellite access but the only satellite that might be visible from my patio is one of DishNetwork’s; however that satellite is barely 15 degrees over the horizon so it’s most likely occluded by buildings, trees, tall people walking by… not to mention a lot of atmosphere.
  • Connecting phone service; I get a new phone number, so no more telemarketing calls… for a few weeks, anyway.
  • Ordering high-speed Internet service. This time my only choice is DSL, which has both its pluses and minuses relative to cable modem… The thought of getting my multi-segment LAN, broadband router, IPsec, and PPPoE all working together worries me, though.

Goodbye hovel

Thursday, April 4th, 2002

I decided that (1) I wouldn’t be satisfied with any home I can currently afford to buy here, (2) things are too liable to change within the next few years for me to commit to buying a home. But I really couldn’t stand my current apartment any longer, so it was high time to find a new place. And these days, apartments are relatively abundant and relatively cheap (“cheap” meaning down to the same levels as three years ago)… except for my current place, where they’ve been jacking up the rent to the point where my decidedly modest 1-bedroom pad now costs more than the same place at many luxury apartment communities.

Long story short, in less than four weeks I’m moving to the Avalon at River Oaks complex, into a newer, bigger and generally more luxurious crib (I’ve been watching too much MTV).