Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

20 things the rich do?

29.11.2013 14:51

Recently, I came across an article with the title “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day” (found via Facebook, I believe), and as I read through the article, I became increasingly annoyed. Through every item on the list, I felt the condescending attitude towards the “poor”, and that whoever made the list, criticizes the “poor” for not doing enough with their lives, and that the “poor” are lazy by comparison to the “rich”.

I, however, do not feel this way (and I’m not on either side of this metaphorical fence), and I feel I need to shoot down the argumentation presented in that article. I need to express what I believe would be the reasons behind the numbers (based on my own insight and observations, both with myself, my family, and other individuals), and show that just presenting numbers and statistics without context might present the wrong picture. The picture the condescending people want you to see.

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

There’s a simple reason to this, actually. Healthy foods are more expensive than junk food, and junk food fits surprisingly well on a small budget. Also, wealthy people gamble just for the fun of it, but “poor” people gamble because of the small glimmer of hope towards the grander prizes. I would also believe that “gambling” includes everything from tables and machines at casinos down to lottery tickets. Most everyone without a lot of money will buy lottery tickets, especially when there’s a small chance to win millions of dollars.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

Focusing on a single goal, and be able to accomplish it takes a special kind of drive and skill. Those who don’t have the ability to focus on accomplishing a single goal are happy with what they have, or don’t have the time or economy to focus on anything in particular, or change their focus to a specific goal.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

Exercising aerobically in a proper way requires a personal trainer and/or a gym membership, and not everyone can afford this on a strained budget. It’s that, or the fact that those with a poor economy often works more than one job, and there’s simply no time left in the day to do any type of exercising. Wealthy people can often choose their own spare time, which is a luxury not everyone has.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

First, audio books cost money, and not all public libraries have audio books for rent. Second, the commute is different for all, and most “poor” people use public transportation. It’s hard enough to listen to audio books on public transportation with the background noise, and not everyone has a portable audio player capable of playing audio books (it depends greatly on the format of these audio books, actually). And third, not everyone has an interest in reading/listening to books. A lot of people prefer listening to music or radio on their commute, or reading something else (when not driving, of course). Personally, I prefer ready an e-paper on my iPad on the bus to work, and given that my bus trip lasts for about 5-10 minutes, I don’t get a lot of reading done in that short time. Basically, narrowing it down to “audio books” excludes a lot of other activities you can do on the work commute.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

It depends how you define a to-do list, really, and what’s type of tasks are on that to-do list. I don’t think a lot of people who answered the survey counted grocery lists as a form of “to-do list” (which it totally does), and for a lot of people, a to-do list may also be as simple as using the front door of the fridge as a billboard of to-do items. If tasks on to-do lists also account for things to do in a regular workday, most “poor” people have jobs in the servicing industry or production industry, which includes tasks not bound by an individual to-do list (a global to-do list maintained by a supervisor, sure, but not individually).

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

That’s quite the tricky wording, though. Does this include children who read non-fiction books assigned by school teachers, or books that the children has taken an own initiative to read? Besides, “wealthy” parents often have academic backgrounds, or other higher education, and have a better knowledge of non-fiction reading material they think their children should read, while I assume “poor” parents often teach their children practical knowledge directly, rather than using books.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

Again, first of all, there’s a significant difference in “parents making their children volunteer” and “children taking own initiative to volunteer” (like I pointed out above). Also, “volunteering” can be a matter of defintion. There’s organized volunteering (rec centers, geriatric homes, first aid, soup kitchens, etc), and there’s individual volunteering (helping out a grandparent or other family member, or a neighbor, with shopping, chores, care/nursing, etc). I suspect that this statistic only accounts for parents who make their children participate in organized volunteering.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

Yes, calls. As opposed to actual face-to-face visits, or text messages. Another excluding distinction.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

A lot of people keep their goals in their heads, rather than writing them down, and prefer to either keep these goals to themselves, or discuss them with other people directly. Not everyone has the need to write them down, much like a to-do list.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

As far as I’ve seen, the “wealthy” already have jobs related to knowledge, management, or other area that requires higher education in the first place. Advancing one’s career in these areas would require to update their education or increase their knowledge through reading material. “Poor” people have jobs that don’t require a lot of education, or where advancing one’s career doesn’t depend on reading material, but rather in-workplace education (practical training specific to the job), workplace experience or just showing a positive initiative and positive results at work. Also, not everyone feel the need to advance their career. A lot of people are quite satisfied with doing repetitive tasks day in and day out. Before I got a regular job myself, I attended a work training course arranged by the unemployment office, and one of my fellow participants told me that he actually like working at a factory production “floor”. He simply didn’t have an interest in working on a higher level, and I respect that decision/desire.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

This is a clear positive for the “poor” people in this list. We need people who speak their mind, without any filters, to highlight problems in society, the workplace, or other situations.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

I assume that their definition of “networking” relates to mingling with people in similar careers, with the purpose of making business-related connections and contacts. People in “poor” jobs don’t have this need, and I believe they prefer spending their “networking” time with family and friends instead.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

Less than one hour, eh? When “poor” people come home from work, they need to “disconnect” from the workplace stress, and TV would be the choice of entertainment for a lot of people. Pretty much everyone has access to TV in their homes, and the cost of using it is the same whether you use it 1 hour a week or 5 hours a day. “Wealthy” people have access to a lot more forms of entertainment to use for disconnecting after a stressful day.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

Like it or hate it, reality TV is a popular form of entertainment. Watching other people make a mess of themselves on TV is entertaining for a lot of people. Although this statistic doesn’t include the types of reality TV being more popular than others, I would assume that the more popular TV shows include where the rich and/or famous either show the luxury that’s out there (lives of the rich and famous), or make an ass of themselves in “regular person situations”. Reality TV includes everything from bad things happening to bad people, up to the possible realization of hopes and dreams. A lot of “wealthy” people don’t have the same interest in this type of hopes and dreams, but instead focus on their own ambition.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

Not everyone’s a morning person. Besides, why would anyone wake up 3 hours before work starts? Some of the “wealthy” people do this to squeeze in some exercise before work starts, but most people wake up in the morning to only catch some breakfast before commuting to work.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

This comes down to academics, really. If “poor” people truly had success habits that actually work, they wouldn’t be poor in the first place. Wealthy people have already experienced successes, and actually have success habits to teach their children.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

This relates a little to the previous item. Also, a lot of people believe that luck is random, whether it’s opportunity luck or wealth luck. It all depends on how you look at it. Although there are certain types of behavior that may influence that type of luck, a lot of luck is still random.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

I believe it can be summed up in three words: What’s the point? Life is simple, so why try to improve it?

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

I think this comes down to academics, economy/access and cultural heritage. It’s also partially due to poor education and/or literacy, and given the rate public libraries are closing down, I don’t expect the number to improve much, since it will get increasingly harder to get access to free-ish reading material. People of all economies have varying levels of interest in reading, and boiling it down to economy/wealth can be misleading. “Poor” people may also have different priorities than reading.

Lastly, the article author (Dave Ramsay) tries to defend the wealthy by referring to the Christian bible. One part of his ending comment really says it all, I think:

Biblically speaking, poverty is caused and perpetuated primarily by some combination of three things:

1. Personal habits, choices and character;
2. Oppression by people taking advantage of the poor;
3. The myriad of problems encountered if born in a third-world economy.
The third-world economy is and should be a whole different discussion. If you are broke or poor in the U.S. or a first-world economy, the only variable in the discussion you can personally control is YOU. You can make better choices and have better results. If you believe that our economy and culture in the U.S. are so broken that making better choices does not produce better results, then you have a problem. At that point your liberal ideology has left the Scriptures and your politics have caused you to become a fatalist.

Yes, you can influence the first item by changing your habits, but the second item is just as much cause of poverty in first-world countries as any other reason. In this case, the oppression comes mainly from banks, lenders, and other people in the financial world. Their wealth pretty much depends upon getting “poor” people in debt (or further into debt) to make their money, and I’m saying this, not as an anti-corporation statement, but as a pro-financial-ethics statement. Lenders and banks market their loans and debt products as being a good thing, and “poor” people don’t have the experience enough to view these products in a proper skeptic light.

Also, viewing things from a biblical standpoint is taking the “I’m much better than you” stand, and this is the kind of people I, personally, think less of. I think greater of people who dare say their mind without condoning violence or vicious hatred towards other people because of who they are.

And that’s that.

Then again, unlike condescending people, I’m always open to arguments on why my opinion is wrong, based on actual, real-world, scientifically-proven facts. Please leave a comment below (while it lasts — to reduce spam, commenting is automatically closed after 30 days), or tag me on Twitter. Although I don’t actively tweet, I do read all tweets headed my way.

See ya around!


25.06.2013 16:21

I just realized that I haven’t said anything about my life in the past six month, so I think it’s time.

Back in February, I turned 33 (Tesla would be proud), and my love life is still non-existing. My niece and nephew are growing up, but I still haven’t gotten as far as having a litter of my own. C’est la vie, I suppose. Speaking of which, I recently started brushing up on learning German to a somewhat larger extent. I’ve installed an app called DuoLingo, and with it, I get lessons in the language I’m learning. Call it an alternative way to learn a language, but it might work out.

This summer, I’m going on vacation twice, actually. First, I’m going on a vacation trip with my family to Hungary, where we’ll spend about a week in Zalakaros (which we’ve been to before), followed by a few days in Budapest (which will be a new place on my map of places I’ve been to). And a few weeks after that, I’m heading off to Berlin on my own to catch a few Blue Man Group shows, and get together with a few of the fellow fans I met at the fan event last year. Tickets to two of the shows are already on the way (I hope they’ll arrive before I leave for the first vacation trip, though). In Berlin, I’ve also secure a seat on a bike sightseeing tour, and I might reserve a seat on a second bike tour with the same tour company. Either way, I plan on renting a bike for my stay this year, so I imagine that it will be quite the experience. We’ll see.

Fingers are crossed for hot and sunny weather on both trips, though.

Last week, I was at the last weigh-in before the summer, and this brought my weight loss total up to 52.7 kg, or roughly 116 pounds. I still have some way to go, but I can finally say I’m well over half way to my final goal. The weight loss courses resume at the end of August, but our instructor has promised us an extra (unofficial) weigh-in at the beginning of August for those of us who are in on the long term courses (ie. those who are trying to lose a lot of weight), just to come to terms with any weight gain that might’ve happened during the summer.

Projects at work are still going strong, and I’ve finally been able to switch to a new work-only laptop. It took quite a while to transfer all work-related software, documents, data and settings from my previous laptop to the new one, but the time has finally arrived. I also found a small backpack to keep my lunch, iPad, extra cables (phone charging cable and extra battery), Nintendo 3DS (to earn my daily motion coins) and a few USB thumb drives, just in case. Just the basic essentials, really. And yes, I’m a little bit of a gadget guy (without going overboard, that is).

Besides a whole bunch of birthdays (most of my closest family have had their birthdays already), confirmations (for my youngest sister and another of my relatives), continuing weight loss, upcoming vacations in the near future, and being more comfy at work (on a general daily basis), there’s not much else going on in my life.

OK, fine, I was recently notified that I’ll get a small tax refund in the next month, which I’ll, uneventfully, spend on paying back a little more of my debt, and a little bit on my second vacation.

I’ve also managed to get in a few performance improvements on my site, making it a little bit faster to load. What do you think of it so far?

Anyway, that’s pretty much it. See ya around!

Anbefalt antivirus 2013

20.06.2013 10:04

Ganske nylig slapp AV-Comparatives en oversikt over hvor godt mange av antivirus-løsningene for Windows beskytter din maskin (tall for mai 2013), og jeg vil gjerne gjengi topp 5 fra denne oversikten og hva disse koster for de fleste av oss. Prisene er oppgitt i norske kroner (evt. konvertert fra amerikanske dollar) for 1 enkelt PC i 1 år, og lisensen må fornyes hvert år (de fleste av disse har mulighet til å kjøpe lisens for 2 år eller mer av gangen til en rabatt). Med mindre noe annet er oppgitt, er norsk versjon av programvaren tilgjengelig.

Samtlige av disse har også en 30 dagers gratis prøveversjon du kan laste ned.

1. Kaspersky Internet Security 2013

  • Resultat: 100% blokkert
  • Pris: 499 kr per år

2. Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security

  • Resultat: 100% blokkert
  • Pris: 379 kr per år

3. BitDefender Internet Security 2013 (kun engelsk)

  • Resultat: 99,8% blokkert – 0,2% ikke blokkert
  • Pris: ca. 383 kr per år (49,95 Euro per år)

4. Emsisoft Anti-Malware 7.0 (kun engelsk)

  • Resultat: 99,6% blokkert – 0,2% avhenger av brukeren – 0,2% ble ikke blokkert
  • Pris: 244,62 kr per år (opplyst i norske kroner, men kan variere etter valutakurs)

5. F-Secure Internet Security 2013

  • Resultat: 99,5% blokkert – 0,5% av truslene avhenger av brukeren
  • Pris: 392 kr per år

De tidligere favorittene avast! og AVG kom henholdsvis på en 6. plass og en 20. plass (nest sist), og Norton (eller andre Symantec-løsninger) var ikke med i oversikten denne gang.

Netbooks go bye-bye

02.01.2013 14:58

In more recent tech news, it has been predicted that netbooks (amongst other things) won’t last through this coming year. And honestly, I can’t say I’m very surprised.

In case you haven’t noticed, a “netbook” is a small laptop PC (usually with a 10 inch screen) with a complete operating system (usually Windows XP, Windows 7 Starter or some Linux variant), aimed at those who don’t want a “complete” laptop PC, yet still want most features of such a laptop.

As I saw it when they came on the market, they filled a temporary need for something more portable that a regular laptop, and might be good enough when on vacation (or other travels) for quick-and-easy Internet access on the go. This market need was replaced soon after with tablets, such as Galaxy Tab and iPad, since they were even more portable, and had the same type of operating system as several brands of smartphones. And with the growth of cloud storage services (Dropbox, Box, and later, iCloud, SkyDrive, Google Drive, and others), you can have access to all your files from anywhere, across all devices.

At first, I saw these netbooks as an alternative to bringing my larger laptop while on vacation, but I held off on purchasing one until it was actually time to go on vacation. Eventually, when that time came, I decided against purchasing one, as I would only need it once a year (on my annual vacation trip), and it’d be left unused the rest of the year. Basically, it was an unnecessary investment in my case. And given the fact that it had a full-featured operating system, you’d have to go through a complete start-up sequence every time you were going to use it.

With the introduction of tablet computers, where iPad and Galaxy Tab have become the most successful ones, you could be always-on, with no long boot sequence necessary before using it. Just unlock the screen and start using it right away. This was something that I could use when on vacation, and still be able to use the rest of the year (or not – if that’s what I wanted).

I had also held off on getting a tablet myself, since I had a quite advanced smartphone at this point (HTC HD2 aka. HTC Leo, which was a Windows-based phone). Later, I switched to an Android device – HTC Desire HD (aka. HTC Ace) – which was also one of the most advanced smartphones at the time.

Then, at the end of 2011, I got an iPad 2 (with 64 GB storage and 3G network) from work, as a “thank you for the hard effort” from earlier that year, and I’ve been using this quite often this past year. I’ve divided my time spent on both my iPad and my smartphone quite a bit, where I previously only used my smartphone. The iPad comes in handy when doing longer visits to one or more websites, searching for something on Google and viewing videos, compared to the smartphone screen, and I’d have to admit I’m quite happy with my iPad, even though some of the limitations annoy me at times. Granted, if I had to buy a tablet with my own money, I might’ve gone for a Galaxy Tab instead, but since it was my employer’s money (and he was the one who wanted to get me an iPad, and the most feature-complete version, including mobile broadband paid for by my employer), I accepted the iPad.

On my last vacation, the only computer devices I had with me, were my iPad and my Galaxy S III smartphone, and this went as smoothly as expected (even though I realized I should’ve brought along more than one charger plug, so I could charge more than one device at a time).

All in all, I don’t think we’ll miss netbooks that much. Basically, if you want something small for some basic web surfing and e-mail reading, you can get a tablet device. Or if you want a full-featured laptop that’s light-weight and designed for travels (either on business or vacation travels), you can get an ultrabook (which is a smaller laptop, without comprimising on performance, which netbooks often did).

Or, just stick to a cheap and basic laptop.

Summing up the month

25.12.2012 10:47

We’ve almost reached the end of the year again, and I thought I’d just sum up what’s been going on in my life this past month. It has been an eventful month, and I wish I’d made one post per event as they happened, but that’s just how time flies, I suppose.

About two weeks ago, I took part in a final app launch (behind the scenes), where I had to join in and be on stand-by for updating a content management system for the apps (both iOS and Android) on the fly. This meant that I had to be available in a phone meeting that lasted about 6 hours during the night, another 6 hours the next night (these were starting/ending arund 2 am for me). It was a hellish weekend and start of a new week, but as I was told by my boss later on, it showed our value and trust as a service provider, and I also showed my own value with the company I work for. Luckily, such weekends are rather rare, but they do happen (and especially when I’m in Norway, and the client is in California).

Most of you know that I’m in the process of losing weight, and at the last weigh-in of the year, I managed to bring my total weight loss to an even 41 kg (or a little over 90 pounds and 6 ounces for those of you who still use those types of measurements). It’s a nice way to round off the year, and I’ll keep on going next year as well. I still have about 50 kg more to lose before I reach a comfortable weight (given my heavy bone structure – that bit is a genetic thing, though). The next weigh-in will be on January 7, and given the current weight loss rate, I’ve calculated that I’ll reach my final goal just before Christmas next year. But even if I don’t, I expect to keep doing these courses until I’ve actuall reached my goal.

On the 20th, my grandmother passed away at the age of 87 after a short time of illness. It hurts a little more when it happened this close to Christmas, but we knew that she was close to her final breath, so it was an odd sense of relief that it happened so swiftly and painlessly (for her). She was also my last biological grandparent I had left, and the “oldest generation” of our family now includes my own mother (those were actually my mother’s words, not mine). There is a tiny bit of comfort that my “reserve grandmother” (ie. my stepfather’s mother) is still alive, though, even though it’s not quite the same. In any case, since my sister and her family is visiting the “in-laws” in Sweden for the holidays, we decided to set the funeral date to the first week of January, so they’ll have time to return by that time.

As you noticed, the world didn’t end on the 21st, making the so-called “Mayan calendar profecy” a total miss, as most of us rational folks suspected. I mean, just because the Mayan calendar ended doesn’t mean the world would, too. It just means that nobody was around or able to update and extend the calendar beyond this day.

And yesterday was the 24th, which is the main day of Christmas for us in Norway (and Scandinavia in general, as far as I know). For most of us, it means family togetherness, lots of good food, and the unwrapping of gifts. As far as actual gifts go, I got a comic strip book (of my favorite cartoon, Pondus), two shawls, a winter hat, two soap+perfume kits, two boxes of candy (with a note attached, which said that even though I’m losing weight, I should just enjoy myself a bit at Christmas), a 64 GB USB thumb drive (from work), and a bunch of gift certificates and a little bit of cash as well. The gift certificates were expected, as I had wished for most of them (especially those for the sporting goods stores – I’ve come to a place in my weight loss process where I’ll start hitting the gym pretty soon, so I need at least some comfy shoes and a proper pair of excercise pants).

But my main gift, though, which I’m granted every year so far, is to celebrate Christmas with my family. Even if it’s only part of the family, it’s especially great to be with family on this particular day of the year. I’ve come to a point in my life where gifts are no longer that important, as long as I at least get a little something from those I care about (which show that they at least thought of me). It doesn’t have to be big, but it should at least show that they put a little thought into it. Then again, those soap+perfume kits are probably just a waste of money, though, since I never use them.

Sometimes, my thoughts also go out to those who suffer in one way or another during the Christmas season, and who don’t have anything to look forward to at Christmas (rather the other way around). I sincerely hope you’ll hang in there, and find some way to escape the pain sooner rather than later. Again, my thoughts go out to you.

But anyway, on a lighter note, merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

Sick days suck

28.11.2012 13:51

I had a crappy start this week. Early Monday morning, I woke up with the stomach flu. I had a bad feeling in my stomach, and after a lengthy trip to the bathroom around 5 AM, I went back to bed. Since I still had a bad feeling in my stomach and at the back of my throat, I brought along a bucket to put next to my bed, just in case. A couple of hours later, during another trip to the bathroom, the “bad feeling” had another trip to the back of my throat, and made it more “serious” (to spare you the graphic details). Luckily, I was already on the bowl, so it was only a matter of “trading places”. This was the defining moment when I concluded that I had caught the stomach flu after all. First order of business then became to let the office and my weightloss advisor know that I wouldn’t make it today (or the next day either, for that matter).

As some of you know, having the stomach flu, even a minor one, drains the energy from you, so I spent most of Monday just zoned out on the living room couch (sitting on a big bathroom towel, to spare the furniture), half-way sleeping and spending my awake time for either more trips to the bathroom (thankfully missing out on another “upwards expulsion”, to put it bluntly), or trying to re-hydrate (drinking lots of water), or catching re-runs of Frasier and M*A*S*H.

Time off work can be nice, but not like this. It’s far from an enjoyable time off from work, as I don’t feel up for anything at all (not even enjoying myself anywhere). Thankfully, it was only one bad day, and the entirety of yesterday (Tuesday) was spent just plain recovering from the day before. I’m still not 100%, but I’m at least much better than the day before.

So… How has your week been so far?

First time flying Norwegian

19.11.2012 12:44

As some of you know, I went to Oslo to see Gabriel Iglesias this weekend, and for the first time, I decided to go with a different airline than I’m used to. I used a low-cost airline called Norwegian Air Shuttle (or just “Norwegian” for short), since their flights matched my own schedule better than my usual favorite this time around.

I had my suspicions beforehand, given the reputation of most very-low-cost airlines (even this one), but I figured I’d be OK, since it was a direct flight (no further connections), and it was for a weekend only. They usually charge extra for checked-in baggage, but since it was for a weekend, I only needed a small enough suitcase bag to fit into the overhead compartment as carry-on luggage.

Then again, since I use Expedia to book both flights and hotel as a combined package, it turned out that the baggage fee had been included in the price, which meant that I could also check in my bag if I wanted to (even if it wasn’t required). Even so, I made sure to shave and wash my hair before I went, so I could cut down on how much I needed to bring with me. This meant that I only had to bring along a few items for my bathroom kit: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and deodorant. This also meant no liquids necessary (and I didn’t have to think about that if I had to bring the bag with me through the security checkpoint).

With Norwegian, you can go straight to the gate (through the security checkpoint) without checking in first if you only have carry-on luggage, since their system automatically checks you in (and you can use an app that has your boarding pass on you phone), which was a bit discomforting, since I’m used to checking in to my flights online (which tells the airline that I will be using my flight ticket, and reserves my seat on board).

Taking the flight from Ålesund to Oslo was quite painless. The bag I had was a tiny bit heavy to carry around, so I decided to check it in after all, only bringing my iPad and travel info on board. I also put my show ticket in my iPad bag, in case my checked-in luggage got lost on the way, or was delayed (since the show started only two and a half hours after I landed in Oslo – and a half hour of that needed to be spent on the airport express train).

I was pleased to see that the flight was on time, and the trip itself went smoothly (although I needed to bother the person next to me by taking a quick trip to the bathroom), but one of flight attendants (the one in the front of the cabin) seemed rather in a bad mood (not smiling), so that lowered the experience a tiny bit. Knowing that this was a low-cost airline, that I shouldn’t expect the service I’m used to, it didn’t bother me that much, though.

On my way back, though, I ran into some issues. I got to the airport express train towards the airport a bit later than I originally planned for, which meant I took the one that went at the very last scheduled time that I had written down in my notebook that would still allow me to catch my flight. What I hadn’t accounted for, though, were the extremely long lines for about anything at the airport.

First up when arriving at the airport itself, was the check-in machine, where I would print out a baggage tag for my checked-in bag. That had a small line for each of the machines, but at least I got one printed. After that, there was a very long a slow-moving line to get to the self-service baggage drop-off area (the manually-operated drop-off had an even longer line). When it was finally my turn, and I scanned my baggage tag, I was told I was too late, meaning that baggage check-in was now closed.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

This meant that I had to take my bag onboard the aircraft instead, at which time I was thankful that I had packed a bag that allowed me to do just that, so I headed for the security checkpoint. The line just seemed endless, but at least I went through security without having an additional check (which would delay me even further), and just as I was putting my belt back on, I could vaguely hear my name being called on the speaker system. Hearing your name being called during boarding time is not a good sign, so I had to start running, and checking the boards along the way to find out exaclty which gate I had to run to. The flight had been assigned gate 15, which is an even worse sign, given that gates 28-30 is the first gates you can see beyond the checkpoint.

To make matters worse, when I finally got close enough to the gate to look for airline personell, I could see that the gate had just been closed, and that no-one was to be seen at first. While panic rushed through my mind, trying to come up with alternate options to get me home, someone popped out from the gate doors (probably to catch up on some manifest paperwork or something – I have no idea what they actually do). She intially said that I was too late when I asked, and I even told her that I had just heard my name being called after passing through security. The airplane was still at the gate, though, so she called them up, read my name from my boarding pass, and thankfully, I was let onto the aircraft after all (and assigned a seat quite a bit further back than my original assignment, but at this time, I was just happy to get home on the scheduled flight after all).

Kudos to the crew at Norwegian that allowed me to get on the flight, even though I was almost a minute late to the gate. This brought a big plus in my book.

I will definitely consider flying with Norwegian again on one of their direct flights.

How does this happen?

15.11.2012 14:23

Some of you may know that I work as a system administrator, and this includes checking up on servers to make sure everything is running fine, and that nothing is blocking legitimate traffic. This also means that I need to check on the message queue on our primary e-mail server to make sure neither inbound or outbound e-mail is being blocked.

One of the e-mails that are stuck in the queue at the moment, is to a Gmail account, and includes the following error message (reason for not being delivered):

host[] said: 452-4.2.2 The email account that you tried to reach is over quota. Please direct 452-4.2.2 the recipient to 452 4.2.2 ab5si15456916obc.116 (in reply to RCPT TO command)

Just to summarize, the message (which, according to the message queue software, is around 15 kB) is not being delivered, because the Gmail account has run out of storage space. Let me repeat that: his Gmail account has no storage space left!

Thing is, each Gmail user has 10 GB of free storage space available in their account. This means that the Gmail user above has 10 GB of e-mails in his account. And it has been like that for several days. Originally, I wasn’t about to make a post of this, but I’ve seen this message stuck in the queue for several days in a row, and I just felt like venting.

Two things come to mind: One, the e-mails in his account has to have some hefty attachments on them. Two, doesn’t this guy check is Gmail account every once in a while? I mean, Gmail is bound to show a warning when he logs in to see his inbox, and tell him to either upgrade his account space or delete some unneeded e-mails, right? Besides, if he absolutely has to have all of these e-mails in his account, upgrading the account should be a small price to pay (upgrading to 25 GB costs $2.49 per month, while the upgrade to 100 GB costs only $4.99 per month – there are also larger upgrades available). Is it really that hard?

Anyway, that’s it for today’s work-related rant. I do have other pains related to work this week, but I’ll keep those to myself for now (to avoid breaking client confidentiality – the pains are more specifically related to a major site launch early this week for a client, and that’s all I can say, really).

A story of piracy

14.11.2012 17:16

This week, RIAA’s Vice President, Joshua P. Friedlander, released a blog post as a response to the claim that illegal downloaders are those who also spend more money on legal content (downloadable or otherwise). Of course, his opinion is biased, considering that his paycheck comes from the organization that spends millions (if not billions) fighting all forms of music piracy, no matter how large or small the infringement. No P2P downloading network is safe from becoming a target by his employer.

This same week, there was also a news story saying that the latest strict anti-piracy laws in Japan actually hurt the industry, when they correlated with a significant drop in sales. Supporters of these laws claim the sales drop might have nothing to do with illegal downloading (or attempts at it), but rather a “cultural chance [… because] people don’t feel the need to fill silence as much as they used to”. Personally, I call bullshit on that statement, and on Friedlander’s claim as well.

Let me tell you a little story.

Back in 2008, I came across a video on YouTube called “When Graphic Artists Get Bored” – a slideshow of photos collected from the Worth1000 website. The background music used for this video slideshow: the track “TV Song” by Blue Man Group. I seriously doubt that this music usage was licensed, but it created a spark in me. That same week, I (illegally) downloaded the two Blue Man Group albums that were already out on the market. Later that year, I found out about their “How to be a Megastar World Tour”, and that the closest it would pass by where I live, was in Copenhagen, Denmark, and in late October that year (a couple of months away at the time). Luckily, my city’s airport had direct flights to Copenhagen, so I bought a ticket for that show, and booked a hotel room and flights, making a full vacation week out of the trip (I checked my e-mail archive, and I found that I booked everything in late August). After seeing the concert in Copenhagen, I immediately wanted more, and looked online to see if they had any further tour stops in Denmark, but it was simply too far away on such short notice (I think it was a couple of hours of travel time, by train or bus, from Copenhagen).

Shortly after New Year’s Eve, I found out about the Blue Man Group community, and after a short while, a fan event was announced, which would happen in Orlando (Florida) in July 2009. This was in March, though, so after some analysis of my economy, and some in-depth research on what else to catch while on my first trip to the U.S., I booked flights, hotels, and tickets to see Blue Man Group (along with the fan event in Orlando) in both Las Vegas and Orlando, spending one week at each of the two destinations (of course, catching other sights as well, including a few days at both Universal Studios Orlando and Disney World). On this trip, I made sure to buy the physical and legal versions of the albums I had previously downloaded illegally, and I also attended 3 shows in Las Vegas and 2 shows in Orlando.

In 2010, I found out that Blue Man Group would have shows in Stockholm, Sweden, for a short period of time (October and November), and I made a vacation of this as well. I was there for about a week, and I managed to attend all 7 shows that had been set up for that week. Unintentionally, I was invited for a quick backstage tour after the 6th show that week, and got to see most of everything behind the scenes up close (and seeing first-hand some of the “trade secrets” of the shows, as I had previously only read about in the community forums).

Last year, 2011, I found out about a fan event in New York, the primary home of Blue Man Group, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the company. This triggered another vacation trip to the U.S. for me, and since they were now touring North America with brand new material, I also wanted to catch a show or two with this new material while I was already this far away. The only show I could find at the time within a two-week window was in Winnipeg (Canada), so I made sure to also book a hotel stay (single night), flights and show tickets (two shows in a single day), just to catch this show. Since I was already so close to a magic round number, I decided to keep up attendance, and the show on the day of the fan event actually marked my 20th Blue Man Group show (or concert) over these years.

This year, I wanted to attend another Blue Man Group fan event, and I directed my attention to the annual European fan event, centered around the only regular show in Europe: Berlin, Germany. Considering the fact that the guys who plans the annual fan event in Berlin (and who were also a major part of the planning process for the New York anniversary event the previous year) is based in Netherlands, it was well within reach for me, too. I planned the Berlin trip as my primary vacation for this year, and booked a trip for two weeks this past October (less than a month ago, at the time I’m writing this). I also managed to catch a total of 7 shows spread across these two weeks, just to give me the annual dose of Blue Man Group live shows.

Through the years, I’ve also bought all the other albums from iTunes, and both concerts (“The Complex Rock Tour” and “How to be a Megastar”) on DVD and Blu-ray (only the latter). No pirated versions, but the actual physical (or downloaded, in the case of iTunes), licensed products.

I estimate that over these 4 years, I’ve spent a total of almost 3,000 USD just in show tickets, plus somewhere around 17,000 USD in travel costs (flights+hotels only) to see the various shows around the world (rough estimation based on my archived travel confirmations – good thing I have Excel to find out these totals). CDs, downloads, DVD/Blu-ray discs (both for myself and bought as gifts) and official merchandise (mostly T-shirts) comes on top of this. And I keep coming back for more, like most other fans.

All of this sparked by an unlicensed use of a music track in a YouTube video. In return, I’ve gained several friends in the community, a true sense of belonging, and inspiration that I never would have known without Blue Man Group. Because of that video, the Blue Man Group gained at least one more fan.

Basically, my point is, good things can come out of a little piracy. Have you discover something through an act of piracy, even if it was indirectly?

The history of instant messaging

06.11.2012 14:55

Some of the more perceptive of you may have caught the news that Microsoft bought Skype last year, and today, it became clear that Windows Live Messenger will be phased out in favor of Skype. It wasn’t that much of a surprise to me, and it rather seems like a logical choice when thinking about it.  I use Skype as an instant messaging service on a daily basis, and in my opinion, Skype has a far more superior and secure instant messaging system than Live Messenger.

My instant messaging days started over 10 years ago, when I started using something called ICQ (I’m guessing early 2001, without being entirely sure). I later signed up for Yahoo! Messenger to be on more than one instant messaging network, and I also signed up for AOL Instant Messanger (AIM) as well. At some point, I used my Microsoft Passport account (as it was known back then – now known as “Windows Live”) for my Hotmail address to sign up for MSN Messenger (yes, I’m that old). When I started on my current job, I also registered a second MSN Messenger account on a different e-mail address, just to make sure I had a different MSN Messenger ID just for work-related purposes. Later, some time in 2004, I also signed up for Skype, which at that time was still an independent company.

Since then, Skype was bought by eBay, and later by Microsoft.

I still connect to my old instant messaging accounts (ICQ, Yahoo!, AIM and secondary Windows Live Messenger account) using a multi-protocol client called Trillian, just in case someone on those networks still wants to get in touch with me.

I’ve been riding along with several instant messaging for a long time now, and it’s nice to see that my favorite (Skype) is being preferred, even by “competing” services.

What was the first instant messaging service you used? And do you still have or use that account?