So I guess it’s safe to talk about now that I’ve been doing it for a month and a half. I tried riding the bus over a year ago and quickly stopped. This time I did some things different and it has worked out for the best. I’d like to share a few things I did and thought differently this time around that really helped me overcome the dread of using public transportation.
Live in a big city. For those of you who live here you know that Rochester is by no means a big city. However; it does have regular public transportation and thats a start. In order to be useful, It needs to go close to where you work and where you live. Its best if you can walk from home to a bus stop but driving a short distance is better than driving to work every day.
Make one change at a time. The biggest two reason I stopped riding last time is I would wake up a bit late and miss it and I felt I had to fit within the bus schedule. It’s true you have to fit the bus schedule, but there are many buses throughout the day. During the normal commuting times they are only 20-30 minutes apart. Missing one is really not that big of a deal. Last time I tried to change my schedule (get to work slightly earlier) and begin riding the bus at the same time. Its best if you can make one change at a time. Stick with it for a while and once you’re satisfied with the results move on to the next item. Determine what time you normally get up and find the morning Bus route that fits with that.
Set a Goal and evaluate your performance. When I started I said I wanted to ride for 2 weeks and see how it went. At the end of my 2 weeks I evaluated my experience and it had gone so well I immediatly switched my commuter plan at work to the bus pas instead of downtown parking saving a whole bunch of cash.
Take it With You. I carry my bag with me every day. This means I always have something that can occupy my time with me as well as giving me a place to put things I need to bring to or from work. My bag always includes my: laptop, ipod, book, water bottle, umbrela and camera.
Utilize your Time. I decided this time around I wanted to maximize my time and get things while riding the bus. It does take me a little more time to get to work, but now that time is spent productively. I could be doing things that would normally take time away from me at home (like posting this blog message) or I could be doing something I wouldn’t normally take the time to do (read a good book, most recently Second Horseman by Kyle Mills). Don’t just sit there like a log.
Make use of whats there. The buses run with or without you. Whether you’re a tree hugger or not I think you’d agree that its good to reduce your environmental impact. Using public transportation is a big way to do that.
Save some Money. We all know Gas is expensive, but there are several other ways you can be saving money by riding the bus. You can lower your insurance rates (in my case over $100/6months) simply by telling your insurance company you now drive only 2-3k miles a year. On top of that if you drive and work downtown chances are you have to pay for parking. This is all on top of the general wear and tear on your vehicle.
Park it and Forget It. Its easy to take little side trips on your way home if you’re driving. Often you’ll buy things you really don’t need. If you ride the bus make it a point that once you get home you don’t leave unless absolutely necessary or if you can, take the bus again.
Get an Unlimited Ride Pass. It works out almost even for you to buy an unlimited pass. They’re $56 so if you ride them 46 times a month (23 work days) its 1.22/ride. If your employer is like mine, they’ll even contribute a portion to the cost of the pass and you’ll break even long before the end of the month.
Walk a little. We all need a little bit of excercise. If you can walk to the bus do it. It’ll give you just a few minutes of excercise a day but it’s a few minutes more than you were getting before. If you really want to get some benefit, take the long route and maybe add your bike to the mix once and a while.
Well, Guitar Hero 3 is finally here! When I sold my PS2 and Guitar Hero last year I was almost on the verge of depression (not literally continue reading). I had grown addicted to the game very quickly and couldn’t believe Sony didn’t support it for the PS3! I suffered withdrawal for the first few weeks but eventually learned to deal with it, with the expectation of playing the PS3 version as soon as it arrived.
Now that I have it I’m only half excited. The game is still excellent and extremely fun, however the new controller leaves a lot to be desired. As soon as I opened the box I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as I had hoped. Rather than making use of the built in Bluetooth wireless technology for some reason they opted for some proprietary wireless crap (probably fast RF or something). This means a little USB dongle that needs to be plugged in to the PS3. Not that big of a deal right? WRONG!
Not only does it use a proprietary wireless technology but just getting the guitar and the PS3 to talk is a nightmare! After fiddling with the sync button on the dongle and the PS button on the guitar for the better half of 10 minutes I consulted the manual. I found nothing of any use. I then checked the packaging that contained the stickers and there it is, the setup guide. Ok so what do I have to do? This is the only way (that I’ve found so far) to get the Guitar and the PS3 to talk.
The PS3 must be off.
Turn the PS3 on using the button on the System (NOT on one of the controllers)
Press the PS button on the guitar
Press the sync button on the dongle
Press the PS button on the guitar
How retarded is that? First of all you’re not using proven (available) technology. Second of all the user experience is terrible! I have to turn my PS3 OFF to switch to Guitar Hero? WHAT? I understand the requirement of the guitar becoming Player 1 but guess what? You can already reassign controller numbers with 2 button presses from literally anywhere within the menu system or any game.
It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.
Another very minor annoyance is the strum doesn’t click in both directions anymore. If you want the tactile feedback you need to strum in one direction and then the other. Strumming in the same direction twice leads to no feedback the second time.
Beyond that the game itself is solid. Great music, Graphics are awesome. I love the new online play modes as well as some of the new between set animations and the other general feel of the game. I just hate the damn controller. It’s all very silly if you ask me. How hard is it to embed a six-axis control system into a plastic guitar? Some guy already did it by himself so he could play guitar hero 1 and 2.
That being said its good to be back, even if I do end up returning it for the Wii version.
I read about Anywhere.FM a while back and even added it to my Daily Notes. I never took the time to look into it until today. Holy crap I wish I had! It’s an awesome service. It lets you upload your entire music collection and listen to it anywhere you want. At the moment there is no storage limitation but the site is still in beta so they say that might change. I was originally hesitant when I heard about it because I thought it was going to be a service you had to run on your computer at home to share your library over the web. Since I have recently gotten rid of my home server I wasn’t looking forward to running another service.
There is also a client side application which allows you to sync your entire iTunes library. They claim to be working on a winamp and Windows Media Player syncing as well.
Don’t worry you’re not stuck listening to your own music either. What would a website be today without a built in social network? Anywhere.FM is no different. They allow you to add friends and listen to their music and playlists. They also have a very large repository music available for free. Plenty of raw music for you to discover. You can even browse other people’s music and play that as well. I’m not sure whether you get access to all of everyone’s music or if it has to be shared somehow but at this point I’m very excited.
Apparently this is all legal thanks to paying royalties to the artist through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, the three performing rights organizations. I’m sure the artists are happy about this because they get paid for songs which have already been paid for assuming you actually do own the rights to the music you’re playing. It’s just paying income tax and sales tax.
This leads me into another topic… I’ve gone legit. That’s right I’ve started weeding out my questionable music and getting legit copies of music I really enjoy. That being said I currently have a lot of whole albums. That has stopped. I’m now only getting the songs I really want. I think the desire to obtain a whole album is a hold over from the days of purchasing CD’s. Its time to move into the 21st century and only pay for what I want. It will increase my overall quality of music as well. To that end I’ve also begun a weeding out process on my Ipod. This weekend I went from somewhere around 4-5k songs down to only 300.
Ironically the very thing that caused me to get into this legit kick is something not so legit. About 2 weeks ago Nick let me in on a loophole for free iTune songs from facebook. It took some time but I managed to build up 250 free songs before they closed the hole. Yay for me .
Why in the world should you make things difficult for your consumers? Why make them wait, why inconvenience them?
I don’t have an answer, I’d be willing to bet nobody does, but they still do it!
I had two crappy customer service experiences in the past few weeks which iritated me very much. The first has to do with my car insurance. I’m not a very big fan of insurance companies to begin with but when they do something that inconveniences me and makes me do extra legwork for reason it just pisses me off.
What happened with Geico is I recently turned 25. When this happened my insurance is supposed to go down right? wrong! Geico sets up your policy and prices only once a year. When that happens if you’re under 25 (even if its 1 day before your birthday as in my case) you get shafted. You get your ’24 year old price’ until the next time they reevaluate your policy or 364 days in my case.
When I found this out I gave Geico a call and asked to speak to a manager. I explained that if they didn’t reevaluate my policy using my new age that I would simply transfer my account to another insurance company for a day (or less) and then transfer back to Geico because I did some quote checking around and Geico is still the cheapest for me. He thought this sounded silly and had me hold while he checked to see if he could just give me the newer price without me closing and reopening my account. Sadly despite his efforts this was not a possibility and he appologized. Well I hope your happy Geico because of the crap you’ve made me go through I haven’t bothered to spend the time transferring my insurance around.
My second experience was at a local BestBuy. What happened affects me more than most consumers possibly because of my Wegmans background. I took my camera with me to the store to get repaired. Dust was getting behind the screen and was starting reduce the visibility. When I walked up to the Customer Service counter I noticed that the line for the Geek Squad was about 10 people long. There was nobody at the normal counter and 3 workers standing around doing absolutely nothing.
I went to the normal counter, explained my situation, and was told that I needed to see the Geek Squad. I told them to look at the line and all I needed was turn in my camera to get it repaired. They appologized but said I’d have to wait for the Geek Squad. While I waited in line I noticed all 3 workers at the regular counter just standing around gossiping together. I wanted to speak to a manager but I didn’t want to take the time. I wish I had.
Why don’t these companies take customer service more seriously?
I determined a while ago that I wanted to reduce the clutter on my blog and eliminate most of what’s normally displayed on the front page of any blogs. However I didn’t want to lose any functionality and wanted to always have the ability to add links and categories and have lists of them that were generated dynamically somewhere. I figured that adding a page for each makes a lot of sense so I wrote a dynamic content wordpress plugin. At the moment it has 3 hard coded keyword tokens that it replaces with corresponding content. However the next release will allow you to specify a keyword token and what widget to insert in its place.
I generally like the idea of consolidation. I’m tired of all the logins I have all across the web. I try to use a very small list of identical names and e-mail addresses but with the shear number of sites out there and the different security requirements it’s very difficult to keep them all up to date. I’m a fan of openID although I don’t think they quite get it yet. I love the concept I’m just not sure about the execution. Using a website address as your one unique login is awkward.
In general there’s just too much clutter on the web. Too many things that accomplish the same task. Too much information being generated by every individual. I wrote before about consolidating the feeds I generate into 3 main categories.
Today I consolidated my avatars. An avatar is what people see of you. It’s often the first image they’ll get of you, or perhaps even their first impression. It’s a drag to update these avatars on every site you use. I myself hardly used to use them simply because I don’t like searching for a photo to use and trimming it down to size etc.
Gravatar makes it very easy. Essentially you attach an image with an e-mail address and thats it. Any website which is Gravatar-enabled will display your Gravatar wherever it detects your E-mail address. Your Gravatars also have ratings so that certain sites can say they only want to allow ‘G’ or ‘PG’ Gravatars for example. The only Gravatar I have is this:
I have now enabled Gravatars on RandyAldrich.net and RandyandRachel.com. I’ll probably do so on any website I administer in the future as I think its a great way to build community.
While in BestBuy returning a game today, I noticed a new Kiosk for Clearwire. It claimed to offer cheap wireless Broadband access. I was intrigued so I grabbed a pamphlet. After further review their broadband access isn’t that great.
ClearValue (standard tier)
ClearPremium (premium tier)
While their speeds arn’t that great they’re still a big step up from dial up. The idea is interesting and I knew that companies were begining to offer it in other cities but I wasn’t aware Rochester was on the map yet.
One concern I have however is that it appears to be using a proprietary wireless protocol rather than the existing 802.11b/g protocols. What this means is people are forced into utilizing their provided modems rather than being free to roam the coverage area with their mobile devices. Too bad, If the speed was a little faster, I’d completely be willing to switch if I could connect using my existing wireless devices.
I haven’t been paying much attention to the Republicans until recently. This is mostly the media’s fault and I’ll admit I’ve been suckered in. I used to be a Joe Biden advocate because I thought he was the only worthwhile Candidate. About a week ago, however; I started paying attention to Ron Paul and I’ve since changed my stance. Take a look at the clip from Comedy Central’s New Daily Show website below.
It makes me sick that this election will most likely be decided during the primaries and we’ll end up with either Obama or Hillary. I blame the Media. Give some attention to the other (worthwhile) candidates.
The best election we could hope for, I think, would be a Joe Biden vs Ron Paul election. If that were the case and both were given the opportunity to present their stances the results wouldn’t be obvious to me. I’d have to seriously weigh the pros and cons before making a decision and thats the way it should be.
Wow! Rachel and I watched 28 weeks later last night rented from redbox with a free promotion code. This movie was absolutely great! I liked 28 days later but the intense fast paced parts of the first were my favorite. In 28 weeks later that’s all you get. there’s about 20-30 minutes of slower lead in, but after that it’s none stop action, fast paced evasion and of course you get to see first hand the transformation of normal to infected in detail this time! If you liked the first one you’ll definitely like this one. I give it a 10/10.
A few days ago I was watching Webb Alert when she mentioned the search result differences between Google and Ask. It was clear that Ask is the winner. I couldn’t believe the difference. Take a Google search for the San Fransisco 49ers for example. The top Google search results are mostly sponsored links and ticket sales. Do the same search for the San Fransisco 49ers on Ask.com and you get much more meaningful results. In fact as you’re typing ask even suggests searches for you. Google has had Google Suggest for a long time but for some reason they’ve never pushed it into their main search.
Now that Ask has turned around, will Google see them as a threat and make some changes?