Monthly Archives: March 2010

Electric ATV choices

Looking at choices for an electric for use around our property. Basically I think the choice comes down to these:

* “Cunningham”:http://www.cunninghamgolfcar.com/p-225-xrt-850-electric-utility-vehicle.aspx. Lacks a certain spirit, but comes in well under the price of most the others. Basically a golf cart manufacturer, I’d be concerned about torque on crappy surfaces and inclines.
* “X-Treme”:http://www.x-tremescooters.com/utvs/xu3000/xu3000.html. Plenty of attitude but doesn’t really exist yet.
* “Bad Boy Buggies”:http://www.badboybuggies.com/products.php. Perhaps too much attitude — Camo the only paint option. And I think they will come to regret that name.
* “Polaris Ranger EV”:http://www.polarisindustries.com/en-us/ATV-RANGER/2010/Mid-Size-Utility-Vehicles/RANGER-EV/Pages/Overview.aspx. Not the cheapest, might be the way to go tho, you can actually find these at dealers around here.

Lots of other regional choices. A concern I’ve heard is battery life in our moist climate, will be interesting to see how that works out.

Three failures — Kindle, MacBook, Google Docs

Yesterday was a brutal technology day. First, I wedged my Kindle between my rear and a chair and heard a nasty “crack”. My Kindle display has a nice shattery image on it permanently now. Sad. I had to open a paper book last night. New Kindle arrived today (thanks to Amazon Fresh trucks), and because the content is all stored at Amazon, I had my full library back working in less than a day. It sucks that e-readers are fragile (well I do weigh >200 lbs so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the Kindle’s failure, it is not sold as a stadium chair), but back and running fast.

Second, the battery failed on one of our Macbooks which is about 3 years old. But of course Apple replaced for free at the Genius bar. Because they replaced the motherboard a year ago under some dubious warranty claim after we dropped the machine, again for no charge. Really, why would a regular human buy a machine anywhere else?

Third — every week, I update a task list document on Google Docs for a mission-critical subcontractor we use, print/save as PDF, and email to the sub. It is not a complex doc but it does need to be right. Last night Google Docs kept failing during the PDF save process (which is also how to print from Google Docs, so this is a pretty important function). After many tries it worked and I forwarded the downloaded PDF to my sub without examining it. Disaster — the PDF was for the version of the task list from January 24! The sub got all the wrong materials and did the wrong things totally, I had to scramble today to patch things back up.

I use the intrinsic functions in google docs to datestamp my doc, and the delivered PDF had the january 24 datestamp in it, and the content in the pdf is completely different than what is in my current doc on google docs, and i assume is a faithful representation of the state of the doc on january 24. how did google deliver me this pdf? My best guess is that some part of the PDF rendering process failed badly in the Google server farm, and they restored from some earlier version, and the restore picked up old queued files. I really have no idea how they could have delivered a two month old PDF rendering of my doc.

Corruption of data and inability to faithfully print documents are pretty damning problems for an office suite. I really can’t imagine continue to using Google docs with this class of problem. I haven’t bothered to file a bug with google yet because, well, delivering a product with this level of data corruption for basic scenarios is pretty much a deal breaker for me.

Commendations to Apple and Amazon for creating systems and businesses that are incredibly customer-focused, even when products fail. The Google Docs failure may be an isolated incident, but I do wonder if Google has this same level of customer focus.

Recent books — Relentless, Land of Marvels, Sweetness, Cowgirls

  • “Relentless”:amazon by Dean Koontz. Koontz writes light horror books — humorous, at times scary, a little grotesque, ultimately uplifting. He seems like he’d be a nice guy to have lunch with. Amazon says 3.5 stars, sounds right.
  • “Land of Marvels”:amazon by Barry Unsworth. Lust in all it’s forms — for a woman, for glory, for power, for money, for empire — collide in pre WWI Mesopotamia with predictably disastrous results. Good but not great tale. Amazon says 4 stars, might be a bit rich.
  • “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”:amazon by Alan Bradley. Excellent mystery starring a very unusual precocious 11-year-old detective. Not very believable but I was totally sucked in. Amazon says 4.5 stars, I loved the book.
  • “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues”: amazon by Tom Robbins. I hate farce and so didn’t finish this. I tried. It does seem well written but I can’t get past the absurdity. Amazon says 3.5 stars, I’d say .5.

NCAA bracket tools — the majors

“ESPN’s tool”:http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/en/frontpage is super easy to use. Can make picks first time right from the ESPN main page.

“SI”:http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/ncaa/mens-tournament/?eref=sinav — where is your brain? Shoving me to Facebook and forcing me to let some other random Facebook app smash through my privacy wall? Wow this seems dumb dumb dumb. How can a sports media site let fantasy sports activity slip off their site??

“CBS Sports”:http://mayhem.cbssports.com/splash/mayhem/spln/opc/free?tag=railLeftContent;fantasyGamesCol also good, easy to enter, also a nice bracket manager for your own pool. They have a facebook thingy too but it is an optional side thing, much more rational.

“Foxsports”:http://mayhem.cbssports.com/splash/mayhem/spln/opc/free?tag=railLeftContent;fantasyGamesCol. Visually clumsy — orange, too much Hootersness, and the bracket layout is hard to parse. Not my fav. Oh and registration seemed more onerous.

“Yahoosports”:http://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/ seems good, nice bracket manager too.

OSU can never beat Minnesota by too much

Nice to see the Buckeyes wrap up the Big10 title in dominating fashion, onto the dance! And especially nice to wipe out Minnesota, too bad they weren’t knocked out of the tourney altogether. Why the hatred for the hapless Gophers? It all goes back to this incident, which pretty much flattened the OSU program for the next 10 years and ended Witte’s career. The Minnesota thugs got wrist slaps, Winfield went on to a successful baseball career which always galled me.

Here’s hoping the Gophers flame out in their first game.

iPad preorder day arrives

Ok well the day arrived. I can’t quite figure out what the ipad is for. I still need to carry my iPhone for phone calls. I still need to carry my MacBook Pro for real software — Matlab, Mathematica, Aperture, LaTEX-heavy docs. I’ll still carry the Kindle for its awesome battery life. Would I carry the iPad as well??? Or are there occasional trips where I’d carry instead of the MacBook Pro?

Or maybe it is for the couch at home. But usually I again need to run real software. So what is this thing for?

So I only ordered one.

Recent Books — Typhoon, Invisible, Private Patient

* “Typhoon”:amazon by Charles Cumming. I really liked this tale, suspense set in China over the last 15 years, with some nicely shaded characters. Amazon says just 3.5 stars, but I’m at least 4 stars, I would pick up another book by the author in a heartbeat.
* “Invisible”:amazon by Paul Auster. Quite a twisted little tale of a very evil and manipulative man working his way through a set of lives. And a very nice structure to the tale, raises the book above your typical mystery. I’ve had several Austers on the shelf for a while, very worth the time. Amazon says 4 stars, I’m good with that.
* “The Private Patient”:amazon by P.D. James. This one feels to me like it is the dead zone between a good mystery yarn and literature. The author aspires to write a deeper more thoughtful tale but is just boring. Doubt I will finish. Amazon says 4 stars but really not close.