Sorry everyone, but as I was headed into work this morning I got a great idea of an April fools joke. With no notice and no warning, I decided I’d tell the world I know good-bye. I was heading to the other side of the world for a life of year round snowboarding and enjoying winter months year round. I had a good laugh all day and finally decided now to retract my previous blog/facebook status posts and fess up to the truth. I don’t want this post to only be about fessing up on April fools, so lets take a look at where the holiday came from.

The history of April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is uncertain, but the current thinking is that it began around 1582 in France with the reform of the calendar under Charles IX. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved from March 25 – April 1 (new year’s week) to January 1.

Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed of the change several years later. Still others, who were more rebellious refused to acknowledge the change and continued to celebrate on the last day of the former celebration, April 1. These people were labeled “fools” by the general populace, were subject to ridicule and sent on “fool errands,” sent invitations to nonexistent parties and had other practical jokes played upon them. The butts of these pranks became known as a “poisson d’avril” or “April fish” because a young naive fish is easily caught. In addition, one common practice was to hook a paper fish on the back of someone as a joke.

This harassment evolved over time and a custom of prank-playing continue on the first day of April. This tradition eventually spread elsewhere like to Britain and Scotland in the 18th century and was introduced to the American colonies by the English and the French. Because of this spread to other countries, April Fool’s Day has taken on an international flavor with each country celebrating the holiday in its own way. …(read more)

Link: My April Fools Joke Blog Post

It only took until Tuesday, after a short delay (snow day) from mother nature to get back to work from a great vacation. I flew out early last Sunday to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and skied for 5 days returning late Saturday night. The conditions were great! It was my first trip out west so I was psyched to get such good snow. Each night we got new snow & one day nearly a foot of fresh snow fell as we skied. In anticipation for the trip I bought a new camera replacing my Canon Powershot SD400 Digital Elph with another Canon, this time the SD1100 IS. I’ve been a big fan of the Canon cameras & their operating systems. I find Canon cameras extremely easy to use, and quite reliable. I took a bunch of pictures this past week, as did others I was with. I compiled, captioned, & posted them all on Picasa, take a look!

Link: Vacation Pictures from Jackson Hole, Wyoming – 2009

Recently I heard a rumor that cell phone companies were planning to release lists of their customer’s numbers to telemarketers. Telemarketers would likely love to get their hands on these new numbers, as the quantity of cell phone numbers now outnumbers that of land lines. Additionally calls to cell phones lead to a more targeted audience because the home phone can be answered by any number of people. A cell phone, on the other hand, is typically answered by only one person. This problem has not been a frequent one, although I do definitely get sales calls on my cell phone about five to ten times a year, so the thought of these calls becoming more frequent and disturbing me at inopportune times was a major concern. We all carry our cell phones on us nearly all the time. At work, school, meetings, church, a fancy restaurant, and many other places where we simply don’t want to be disturbed by even our close friends, never mind a telemarketer! This was going to take some research…

After a bit of searching I have learned that this is just a rumor which started out in a chain email. The e-mail says cell-phone numbers will be made public, and that telemarketers will start calling unless the user’s number is put on the National Do Not Call Registry. The e-mail then gives the phone number for the registry. Rosemary Kimball, a spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission, which operates the registry, tells us “That is totally inaccurate; there is no plan to release cell-phone numbers.” She further goes on to explain that there is no government cell-phone registry. Regulations already in place which prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phones. Even though this rumor has been proved to be false it does bring up a good point; how do we deal with telemarketers calling our cell phones? Where did they get my number in the first place? Most importantly, how do I get myself off their list?

Link: National Do not Call Registry – 1(888)382-1222

This holiday season I’ve decided that I am going to try and entirely avoid gift cards. I want to give people gifts which are a little more thought out. While I acknowledge that gift cards allow the recipient to have their own choices in what specific gift they want, I don’t really feel that gift cards fulfill the true intention of what a gift should be. Sure there’s some cases where giving a gift card is really the only way to ensure that the person gets what they truly need, but in that case I’d rather just let them get that item on their own. Many gift cards expire after a certain amount of time passing with out use. Some states have laws which prevent this practice, but even in those cases there is a service fee charged for the time passed where the card is not used. On top of everything else, it’s important to take the recent change in our economy into consideration and look at a companies future. No one wants a gift card to a store who has gone out of business. Recently I had an email passed onto me from a friend which really opened my eyes to this.

Here’s a heads up in case you intend to give gift cards around the holidays. Be careful that the cards will be honored after the holidays. Stores that are planning to close after Christmas are still selling the cards through the holidays even though the cards will be worthless January 1. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as ‘Bankruptcy Planning). So take a look at this partial list of stores that you should be cautious about.

Read more

The news stopped really accurately telling the “news” a long time ago in favor of stories that draw more viewers and generate more profit. Most people know that, or at least they should. I actually wrote three papers on this topic over a few years in college (totaling 35 pages of research papers). My first paper presented the background on two topics; Mass Media, and the Public Perception. In my second year I further explored the relationship of one on the other and wrote a paper entitled “The Mass Media & its Effects on Public Perceptions.” In my last semester, it was time again for the presidential election 2004. So I added the election into the paper, writing a paper entitled “The Mass Media & its Effects on Public Perceptions of the Electoral Process.” The other day, for the first time since writing these papers four years ago, I saw something that threw me right back into my research. You see it pictured to the to the right. What really struck me about this store window billboard was what it was making the election into. It would seem that the election has become nothing more then a game. It has become more important to sell cups of coffee bearing the name of “your candidate” then it is to choose the right person to run our country for the next four years.

Now, it just so happens that I don’t intend to vote for either one of these mainstream candidates, so seeing these cups portraying only two choices only makes me angrier. I urge people to try and see past the illusion of two choices. While I realize that one of these two candidates will win, I see past this. I think it’s extremely important to consider other options. Most people get their information exclusively form TV, radio, or the internet. All of these sources favor only two choices, and it seems to me, to be driven by ratings. It’s like turning the process by which we elect our government into the equivalent of a baseball game. Think about it, how different is the argument of McCain vs. Obama from The Red Sox vs. The Yankees?

As summer begins winding to a close, hurricane season is just getting started. The folks at the Sarasota Herald Tribune have created a sweet map and data mashup for tracking hurricanes at It uses Google Earth imagery and maps. You can even choose to overlay it with the latest satellite image. You can track Fay, or any other storm in the archives. All of the current weather advisories from NOAA are on the site as well. In addition to hurricanes and tropical storms, this site also keeps track of all current weather advisories like flood warnings, heat advisories, thunderstorms, etc.

The site gained it’s namesake from the Ibis, which is said to be the last bird to leave ahead of a storm and first to return; gives a similar view of all hurricanes to hit Florida from 1851 to today.

Read more

Lately this summer I’ve been going into Boston a lot. The drive from Hingham isn’t too bad, but $4.00 gas is. This past year the Greenbush line of the MBTA’s Commuter Rail came into service in my area. I have a lot of friends who ride this to work, and really love it. After getting back from Washington DC a few weeks ago and seeing the DC Metro, I began looking more critically at the service offered by the MBTA. First off, The Metro is clean and efficient, something the MBTA is definitely not, but that’s really not what my complaint is. My main complaint about the MBTA is their hours of operation, at least on the main lines of the MBTA. Boston is a world class city, it seems inexcusable to me that the train closes by 1:00am every night. If Boston bars are open until 2:00am it would seem to me that something which would keep drunk drivers off the road should be open at least as late. I simply can’t come up with reason why this wouldn’t be the case. The only possible theory I can come up with is that DUI’s, while deadly, must just be too much of a revenue generator for the state.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the train should run every 15 minutes, but maybe every 30-45 minutes would be enough. Now that the Charlie Card is in place the staffing needs would be minimal. You would probably only need 1 operator per line, and some light security.
Just some food for thought. I know if the train were open that late, I’d take it. How about you?

For about a year or two now I have been using my HP DVD940 and been pretty happy with it. Then all of a sudden it decides; no more. You forget how much you rely on a CD/DVD drive. Problem with a program, try to reinstall. Oh wait, broken drive. Want to access that back up of pictures from a few years ago. Nope sorry, find another way. Well today I write this blog not to complain about my drive, but rather about the company who makes it. HP. Again, I really liked the drive, but now that it’s broken, I’d like to try and update the drivers. That shouldn’t be hard, I’ll just check the HP website.

Ok, there’s the drivers section, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Let me just search for my drive. What’s this? Apparently they never made my drive. No, wait, here it is… no, that drive is external, that’s not it. So I figure, I’ll just give HP a call and explain the situation. It’s 11:00pm, and I’m feeling really productive. It looks like the cal center is open 24 hours a day, so I figure I’ll give them a try. After waiting on hold briefly, I give my name, email, phone number, model number, story, and the representative tells me I should call this other number. I write it down and call them after hanging up. They’re closed, and why not. It’s 11:30pm by now, and I was lucky to even get anyone in the first place.
The next day I call the number I was given the previous night and go though all the same standard stuff. Hold, give my name, email, phone number, ticket number, etc. Then I find out that the number I was given wasn’t even HP. It was some company they did business with like 5 years ago who makes mice and keyboards. They basically tell me that HP customer support is a bunch of morons, and I should call them back at the original number and make sure to get connected to the right place (carefully checking against the wrong number had dialed.) I call back HP, to make a long story short I repeated the entire story I just told, and ended up connected to a different number, but with the same mouse/keyboard company. Back to start again. Call HP, give all the info, they ask me for my serial number, I start to give it, but they want the one off the computer. The problem is, I built my own computer, there is no serial number. So the operator says she’ll connect me with their DVD specialists. I say “wait a minute, you keep connecting me to a company you used to do business with and it’s a wrong number.” So then what do I hear? “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Are you serious?!? How about support your product. How about acknowledge that the product I am holding bearing your brand even exists, how about even knowing how to get in touch with the departments in your own company? Here’s a better question; “what do you expect me to do?” I hang up in a fit of rage. This person is useless. I figure I’ll call back after after cooling down.
Finally I give HP a call back. I’ve calmed down a bit, and I’ve decided not to solve the the problem any more, but rather just speak immediately with a supervisor. I don’t want to discuss the issue, or how to fix it. instead, I just want to complain about the quality of service I have received. Impossible. As soon as you ask to speak to the supervisor, the rep immediately commandeers the conversation and tries to solve your problem again (which they lack the ability to do.) Eventually he says “I cannot put you through to a supervisor because your product is more then a year old.” I explain I am not complaining about a product, rather it’s a customer service issue; but he assures me he can not, and will not put me through to a supervisor.
So there you have it. It’s a long post, but buyer beware. If you buy a HP product you might as well move to a desert island, because your going to be on your own. I would recommend avoiding this company and their terrible customer service at all costs.

A lot of times I release a new part of this website which is mostly just for me, but could also be handy to others. I have worked on a couple pages like this lately, one of which is my Surf Page. It’s pretty bare at the moment, and not linked from anywhere but here, but I do have plans to incorporate a lot of the board sports I do in a more prominent way. The Surf Page is pretty much just a reference page for me so that I can see the surf and check the reports in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, but if you’re a surfer from the area, or feel like following it, this page should be a good starting point. I’ll post a little information about some of the other pages I’ve made ion the near future.

Link: :: Surf Page

It’s September and It’s time again for TV season to get started. I’ve set my PVR to record Heroes, a show I really got into last season, and Journeyman, a show that looks promising. Last season I learned that television networks have little to no commitment to new shows. I started watching Drive on Fox. After a busy week I sat down to catch up on my PVR’d shows, and after only a handful of episodes Drive had been puled and I was stuck with some rerun saved in it’s place. This season I have taken that lesson to heart and will DVR at least the first 5 shows of the season before I decide to start watching any new show. Why should I waste my time in gaining interest in a story line just to see it dropped. In a world with online media, DVR, PVR, and DVD box sets, why should you waste any time watching a story line you will never see completed.

There’s many options when it comes to recording television these days beyond VHS. With the recent advancements in digital television (and no, I’m not pushing HDTV, but that’s a story for another day,) VHS should be your last choice. Whether you get your TV fix from the Network’s website, a DVD recorder (which can be loaded with DVD-RWs for reuse,) a DVR, or a PVR, there’s no reason to be a slave to the networks saying what shows to watch, and when to watch them. What a time to be alive! Now if we could just find a way to avoid radio DJs spoiling television’s surprises the next morning…