Mike’s Dump

November 26, 2005

Mike Friesen: The Official Developer of Christmas

Filed under: World gone mad — mikesdump @ 2:49 am

I have proclaimed I am the official developer of Christmas. If you don’t like it, tough! Who are you going to complain too!

I’m sitting at the kitchen table drinking some coffee and installing
VS2005 and glance over the huge pile of flyers we received yesterday.
On the top of the pile there is a flyer from The Bay. In huge letters
it says:

The Bay. The Official Store of Christmas.

What is driving me nuts is how does a company get a title like this? Do
CEOs start praying nonstop in October until they receive a sign from
God their company has been chosen as the official store? Or is this a
back-alley deal worked out with Santa Clause where he gets 20% of all
sales?

Whatever the case may be you know it is going to be worth it. People
around the country will be flocking to The Bay to buy “official”
Christmas presents because if you don’t care enough to buy something
official what kind of message are you sending to your loved ones?

Buy declaring myself the official developer of Christmas I know the
work is going to be flowing in so fast I’ll be forced to quit my day
job and subcontract some of the work. If you are a software developer
in the Edmonton area and feel you are up to the challenge of being an
“official supplier” of Christmas please post your resume.

The next holiday I’m banking on to bring in some development work is
Groundhog Day. I’m going to start planning my trip to Punxsutawney
to work out the details with Phil
now.

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November 25, 2005

Focusing on crap will just wear you out

Filed under: Home,Kids — mikesdump @ 11:06 am

Erika on Potty

I took this picture originally just thinking it was funny. One minute
Erika is sitting back on her potty with her feet up on the chair and
the next minute the room is very quiet and I find her head down in a
deep sleep. Of course this picture will be one of many
that will need to be shared when she gets married.

After laughing at the picture it got me thinking that focusing on crap
is going to wear you out. I’m not talking about a bowel movement here
(I don’t know about you but I “pass my parameters” quickly so it isn’t
a problem for me) but the crap we face daily. Don’t focus on what you
can’t control but what you can. Don’t dwell on the problem but focus on
the solution. Remember one thing when faced with crap; it will pass if
you keep pushing on. Don’t let crap wear you out!

November 23, 2005

Umm… Wow!

Filed under: Links — mikesdump @ 12:33 pm

I was having a lot of difficultly coming up with a title for this. If you think of something please let me know.
————————————————————————————————————

I have too much time on my “hands” tonight (I’m currently rebuilding
Sulley again). So I’m scanning the blog headlines on Wired News and
came across the title “Japanese Hand Job Machine” (pictures here). I
thought ok, I’ll bite, what’s the joke. Well it turns out the joke is
this was serious. I guess I should have looked at the blog name first,
“Sex Drive Daily”.

I was reading through the comments on this post and came across these gems:


I think the whole idea around this toy would actaully sell in america
if the handle was redesigned. Japanese are very much into function,
Americans expect FORM and function. If the handles looked like Jenna’s
hand or something, you can bet it would sell.

I also don’t see why your emailers say men are getting the shaft when
it comes to sex toys, there are a plethora of sex toys made just for
men, i.e. http://www.lovedolllovedoll.com , The toys for men that are good may
be more expensive, but the selection of good toys is really amazing.

Reply

oh sure, my girlfriend would just love me to drag the sex corpse in for a little necro-3-way!

I want a sex toy that we can both use, like vibrators and dildos get
used casually … not some huge frightening sex-zombie that lurks in a
cupboard.

sexy!

Like I said…. Umm… Wow!

360 Degree Surveys

Filed under: Links — mikesdump @ 10:40 am

I was reading Management Craft
this morning which linked to this post. I thought it was
interesting timing since I just sent out a 360 survey request myself.
Both posts have some excellent comments.

This is the third survey I’ve sent out in about 2 1/2 years. In the
past two surveys I have received some valuable feedback and some
confusing feedback. The beauty of the 360 survey is because it is
anonymous it allows people to give honest constructive criticism. But
because of the anonymity feedback that isn’t clear is difficult to get
clarified.

As pointed out in the post, having the results of the survey used for
bonus calculation or salary adjustments totally defeats the purpose. If
that was the case I would play it like a politician does before an
election. I’d promise the world to get the results I want and if I
felt up to it I would deliver on some of them. I wouldn’t call for the
next election (send out another survey) until I was in a position to
get favorable results. Looking for opportunities to improve should not
be tied to compensation in anyway. Actually, using this information for
compensation sounds like something out of Dilbert.

Luckily the results aren’t used that way where I work. At the end of
the day I just want to know what I’ve done right (assuming I’ve done
something right) and more importantly what I need to do to improve.

November 21, 2005

What are the odds?

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 1:17 pm

What do you think the odds are that I receive a customer feedback
request the very same day Sandy took my laptop back to Best Buy because
it appears the hard drive has failed.

I haven’t had my laptop back a month and it is already gone again. I
was really pumped this weekend because I got VS.NET 2005 installed and
I was going to start playing. When the hard drive started sounding
funny, seeing lots of errors in the event log and I received the blue
screen of death multiple times in one evening I started to feel sick to
my stomach. I didn’t feel sick because I would have to reinstall
everything again but because I have to return the laptop to the
computer black hole better known as Best Buy.

I mentioned in my previous post on Sulley I had done my venting and no
good would come from me wasting anymore energy on this situation. Now I
have this questionnaire staring back at me with questions like:


To what extent was you problem solved with just one phone call to our Customer Service Center?

Overall, how would you rate the service provided by the repair technician?

They ask for a rating of 1 to 4 on the above and other questions (one
being unacceptable and four being excellent). I don’t understand why
they don’t have any negative numbers (I’m thinking about writing those
in myself). With the whopping three lines available for “additional
comments” I think I should write the three blog URLs that describe my
experiences. They sent a postage paid envelop so I might as well send
in my “comments”.

Sandy was told if it is just the hard drive they can replace it in the
store. If it is the IDE controller however the laptop would have to be
sent away again 😦

November 14, 2005

Sandy’s Horniest Moment Ever

Filed under: Uncategorized — mikesdump @ 2:31 am

I never have and probably never will again see Sandy this horny. See for yourself.

Family at Montanas

It was Sandy’s birthday over the weekend and we took the kids and her
family to Montana’s. Going to Montana’s was Isabelle’s choice because
this is where we went for my birthday during the summer. Isabelle’s
favourite part of going to the restaurant was I had to wear deer
antlers while the staff sang to me. Now that Sandy and I have both had
this wonderful opportunity for public humiliation I don’t think we will
go back for future birthdays. The advantage I had over Sandy is I knew
to bring the camera!

The other entertaining moment at the restaurant was when Erika noticed
the stuffed caribou head mounted on the wall. At first she didn’t know
what to think of it. After a few minutes of staring she stood up in her
high chair and started chanting at the top of her lungs, “moose, my
supper”.

Erika was worried the stuff animal hung at least 10 feet above us was
going to eat her supper. We tried to convince her the caribou wasn’t
going to try any of her food but you could tell she didn’t believe it.
I watched as she grabbed a French fry, without lifting her head, her
eyes rose slowly to look at the caribou to ensure it wasn’t seeking up
on her. (I hate it when that happens to me)

Erika appears to be over the “fluff phobia” but still can’t stand
floating toys in the bathtub. We can now add taxidermied (what do you
call that?) animals to the list.
Family at Montanas

November 11, 2005

Automated SQL Server Backup for WebHost4Life

Filed under: Code — mikesdump @ 10:30 am

With the problems I’ve had with hard drives and more recently my laptop
I’ve wanted to get a better backup process going. My previous process
was whenever I remember which translated into every month if I was
lucky.

Webhost4Life offers a web interface to backup your database and then
you log in through FTP to download the file. My goal was to have an
automated way of doing this.

What I did was create three different files. The first file is the SQL
command to backup the database. I have used this before locally to

backup my MSDE databases. This file is passed as a parameter when
calling OSQL.EXE.

The second file is an FTP script file which is passed as a parameter to the command line FTP client. This script will:
1) Log in the user
2) Turn off prompting
3) Ensure we are downloading in binary mode
4) Downloads the backup file
5) Quits which closes the connection

The last file is a batch file, which ties everything together. First,
the batch file ensures the proper directory (for me) is set for when
the file is downloaded. Next, OSQL.EXE is called with host, user name,
password and script file passed as parameters. This backs up the
database. The FTP client is called passing the ftp script and IP as
parameters which starts the download of the backup file automatically.
The last task run in the batch file is to rename the backup file to
include the date.

To have this run every night I set up a Windows scheduled task to run the batch file.

The files I created are below. The following has been modified to protect the innocent.

wh4l_sql_backup.sql

BACKUP DATABASE [database
name
] TO DISK = N’C:\db\mikefriesen\whfl-cs-backup.bak’ WITH INIT ,

NOUNLOAD ,

NAME = N’database name BackUp’,

NOSKIP ,

STATS = 100,

NOFORMAT
go
quit

wh4l_ftp_script.txt

ftp_user_name
password

prompt
binary
get whfl-cs-backup.bak
quit

wh4l_backup.bat

REM Set the proper directory. This is where the backup file will be
stored.

g:
cd g:\
cd g:\sql_server_backups

REM Start the database backup using OSQL.exe. Parameters used are the
IP to the database
REM database user name, password and SQL script file:
wh4l_sql_backup.sql

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL
Server\80\Tools\Binn\OSQL.EXE” -S 255.255.255.255
-U database_user -P password
-i g:\sql_server_backups\wh4l_sql_backup.sql

REM Connect to the FTP server and download the backup file using the
ftp script file (whfl_ftp_script.txt).
REM IP to ftp server required.

ftp -s:wh4l_ftp_script.txt 255.255.255.255

REM Rename the downloaded backup file by appending the current date
(yyyy-mm-dd)
REM I did this so I’m not constantly overwriting the last file.

ren whfl-cs-backup.bak
whfl-cs-backup-%date:~10,4%-%date:~4,2%-%date:~7,2%.bak


A couple sources I used
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/tsqlref/ts_ba-bz_35ww.asp
http://www.computing.net/dos/wwwboard/forum/14569.html

I feel the need to add a disclaimer.
This information is provide “AS-IS”. Please use at your own risk.

Beef ‘n Cheddar Curly Fries

Filed under: Kids — mikesdump @ 5:11 am

As much as I despise television commercials they obviously have an
impact. Isabelle has been running around the house all morning singing:


Beef ‘n cheddar curly fries
Beef ‘n cheddar curly fries
Beef ‘n cheddar curly fries
Only for $3.99

If I place ads on my site using Google Adsense I would get paid for each click. I
figure if I turn Isabelle loose on the neighborhood with a megaphone
singing the Arby’s commercial I should get
a piece of that action as well.

Anyone know where I can buy a megaphone?

November 7, 2005

Sulley is Back

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 12:28 pm

I feel the need to add some closure to the Best Buy ordeal
(here
and here
for the previous posts). I’m not making this up; Sulley is back. After
two months without my laptop Best Buy finally got around to returning
it to me. It wouldn’t be any fun if it was a simple as phoning me up
and saying, “Mr. Friesen, your laptop is fixed”.

Last Monday (the first day of my one week vacation) I called up Best
Buy to see if there was any news on my laptop. The last we heard (Sandy
phoned last time because I was too frustrated) was they were waiting
for a new motherboard because the video card was shot.

When I phoned I was surprised because someone answered the phone. There
were a couple customers standing at the counter and the tech asked if
they could call me back. I thought if this is what they are doing to
improve customer service this is great instead of just not answering
the phone. I was still a little skeptical but I agreed to be called
back. I warned him I had to go out shortly (which I did). He assured me
he would call back with some information. This was about 10:15 am.

I waited for about 45 minutes and left to pick up some supplies for the
laminate flooring. One of my stops was Ikea, which I had to drive right
by Best Buy. When returning I phoned Sandy to see if they phoned yet
and they hadn’t (11:50 pm) so I figured I’d probably get a quicker
answer if I just go in.

I get up to the counter and talk with the only person “working” (by
working I mean standing there staring at the ceiling) on their “Geek
Squad” (mental note: no matter how geeky I become I will never be a
member of a “Geek Squad”). I explain who I am and the fact I already
phoned in. He told me I was talking with him earlier as he shuffled
through several pieces of paper to find my name. I stressed, without
jumping over-the-counter and pounding the crap out of the guy, I have
been waiting nearly two months for my laptop.

Geek Squad Guy: “Oh, I understand sir. I am waiting for a login so I
can access the information on your laptop. I should have this shortly
after 1:00 pm. I’ll call you then”

Me: “Ummm� Ok. You’ll call me shortly after 1:00?”

Geek Squad Guy: “Yes”

I left thinking there might be chance of finding out something, about
when, I might, if ever, see my laptop again. I left as happy as
somebody could feel that felt like their pants were pulled down around
their ankles, head tied between their knees, and (insert your own
ending here).

I went home and watched the hours go by (not really but it sounds more
depressing that way doesn’t it?). I know you are going to be shocked by
this so brace yourself; nobody called me back that day. Not wanting to
deal with it I left it alone and on Tuesday as well nobody called me.

Wednesday I figured it was time to try again. I phoned up and the same
guy had happened to answer. He went to check on my computer after I
gave him the details again and you are not going to guess what he told
me.

Geek Squad Guy: “Sir, your laptop is here. It appears it hasn’t gone out yet”

Me: “What do you mean it hasn’t gone out yet? YOU HAVE HAD IT FOR TWO MONTHS”

Geek Squad Guy: “I don’t know what to say sir”

Me: “I want to talk with you manager”

Geek Squad Guy: “I can take down your name and phone number and have him call you”

Thoughts racing through my head like: wow, again I’m not going to get
called back right? Knowing I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this guy
I agreed. I phoned back again at 5:00 pm and he said his manager was
just getting in and he will tell him the situation and have him call.

A couple more hours go by and I finally get a call. At this point I’m
told that my laptop is ready for pickup. There is no OS installed (just
DOS 7.1 used to ensure it would boot) and they would install it for me
if I brought down my restore disks. Not wanting to leave my computer
with them any longer than necessary I told them I’d do it myself.
Making matters worse he told me the reason there was the most recent
confusion is because they had lost the paperwork for my laptop.

I told Sandy I was going to Best Buy to pick up the computer because
“it was ready”. After laughing at me she said I should probably call
back to be sure it is (we were told it was ready before). I figured it
was unlikely calling again would result in any useful information so I
just drove over (practicing my angry voice incase it wasn’t there and
or fixed).

When I got down there I talked with a guy at the counter who turned out
to be the head of the service department. I asked when my computer came
back. He said “just three days ago”. That would put it at Monday. The
day I was in the store. The day I asked for an update but my call
wasn’t returned. The day I started reading all the fine print on my
extended warranty.

When I told the manager this was the absolute worst customer service
experience I have had in my life and I was going to be writing their
head office. He tried to offer an explanation and said Best Buy no
longer did the service on laptops because it had been outsourced to
another company. They don’t have good communication channels setup (can
only contact by phone) and much of what happens is beyond their control in
these situations. (I want to write about this more in another post).

I haven’t wrote Best Buy and I’m undecided if I want to go through the
effort. I don’t want anything from them and as a customer I can go
somewhere else to buy what I need.

Any business that does strive to provide the best possible customer
service is not only limiting its own growth but it will probably lead
to its ultimate demise.

Just because I said it doesn’t mean it is true but I hope I’m right in this case 🙂

November 6, 2005

Sonic 102.9 FM Edmonton Stream moved

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 4:39 am

Sonic
has moved their stream and it doesn’t appear to work properly
with XMPlay anymore. It seems like it might be using the wrong codec or
something (playback is slighly faster than it should be and needs to
rebuffer often). The location of the stream that works fine with
Media Player is here:
mms://stream.radiosonic.fm/sonic

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