November 2004 Archives

November 24, 2004

Not my Pay Pal

I love Frontline, what an entertaining show. So last night I was watching their examination of the US credit card industry and thinking about my experiences in college with 25% interest rates and $20 late fees for being a couple days late on payments. The experience was bad enough that I no longer carry a credit card, aside from Amex and a cash card. The Frontline show was pretty shocking, it seems 30-35% interest rates and 30-40 dollar late fees are not uncommon nowadays, and I thought I had had it bad. So I'm collecting my recently hard-earned eBay dough off PayPal.com this morning after watching the show, and I come across this offer for a PayPal "0% Intro APR" card. Offered by, guess who? Providian Financial Corporation, the "bad guys" reprimanded by the OCC a few years ago. Taking a cue from Frontline, I read past the "0% APR" headline and saw just what the show described; -After the 6 months at 0% APR, you will pay "9.99% to 23.99%" interest on revolving balance (take a guess which rate they will decide to assign you after 6 months). -The "default" APR is 29.99%, or, let's just be honest and say 30%. -You will be in "default" if you "fail to make at least the minimum payment when due," meaning if you are a day late you will be in "default". -You can enter "default" status if you miss (or are a day late with) a payment with a different credit card company, other than Providian! Yipe! That's probably just the tip of the iceberg, though, judging by Providian's history.

Stamps

stamps.jpg The other day I actually went and bought a whole entire sheet of 20 stamps. This feels like a big step in some way, I mean I am always moping around asking people for stamps, and only recently did it occur to me; Why can't I just go buy some stamps? Then I won't have to go around asking people for stamps! What a timesaver! No, seriously.

November 19, 2004

Brand Loyalty

Felt guilty today passing my usual lunchtime hangout, the vaguely dependable "Q-Train" deli nearby work, headed for the new Subway which just opened up last week. Had to remind myself I've been eating exclusively at the Q-Train for years, having acquired food poisoning at literally every other establishment in a walking radius from the hospital where I work, and hence have a right to stray in search of something different. I expect fate to teach me yet another excruciating, vomitous lesson in the very near future, sending me back to the faithful old deli where I can just tell them to "burn" whatever I'm ordering and thereby rest easy. In other news, my eBay auctions are pushing 100 bucks, yippee! I'm also very sorry I missed Howard Stern's Sirius Satellite Radio giveaway yesterday. Was thinking about skipping work to attend the event at Union Square in Manhattan, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

November 17, 2004

I ♡ Ebay

Item's I'm SellingLast Saturday, I took a few minutes to rummage through my old forgotten belongings and slap them on Ebay, mostly to make extra space in my rapidly shrinking apartment. Fortunately my old forgotten belongings almost exclusively include computer parts and video game systems (surprise!) which I'm no longer using, and which aren't actually very old. So far the eBay rubes aren't exactly fighting over my goods, but I'm still holding out hope for the knee-jerk impulse-clicking esnipe jihad that is typical of the last few seconds of an auction. clickclickclickcli- "Take that lilADMRL62!" clickclickclick- "Outbid me, will you?!!? " clickclickclickclickCLITTETYCLICKETTYCLICKETTY "HAH! I AM THE CHAMPION! Not to mention proud winner of... a floppy disk for $117.95..." 't do make the heart proud.

P.S.; "Ashcroft Loses Job to Mexican" is my favorite Onion In The News headline this week.

November 16, 2004

Expedia

"Oh, the time I've wasted in the name of doing things quickly!" E.g.; -Filling out the minimum possible information on my health insurance claim, thinking "It's quicker this way, they know who I am anyway." Then spending an hour on the phone a month later trying to figure out why the claim isn't paid yet. "Oh, you guys actually needed my birth date?" -Or neglecting to write down the name of the airline after I finish making a reservation; "It takes too long and I'm sure I won't forget the name of the airline, much less when, where and how I'm flying!" Then wasting an afternoon sifting through emails from six weeks ago for my e-ticket because I can't remember when, where or from which airport I'm flying. -Getting all the way to the end of Final Fantasy X in record time, having skipped the "unnecessary bits," only to find out some of the bits were indeed necessary and will take forever to find and complete now. Oh well, back to the email sifting...

November 15, 2004

Secret Rooms

I wonder if my future wife will let us have a secret door in our house. I really want one... This would be a throwback to my childhood days of drawing "super secret" houses with tons of hidden passageways and tunnels. The question is what to hide behind the secret door... Via this post from Engadget. LED Lighting Update: In addition, I would like to have this lighting... Shouldn't be too hard to do-it-yourself something similar...

November 6, 2004

Aztec Exhibit, Guggenheim Museum, NY

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November 4, 2004

Mandatory Election Post

November 2, 2004

Hacker by Nature

Once when I was about 7 years old, I took apart an electronic keyboard to see how it worked. It was in the shape of a monster (Pac-Man?) head and when you pressed the teeth you could play a tinny-sounding, yet somehow pleasant, scale. Then, after I put it back together, I was disappointed to find it no longer worked. I seem to recall Mom shaking her head, no doubt aware of the fact that this was probably only the start of my taking things apart and putting them back together and having them not work. 23 years later; still doing it! Put me in a room with a screwdriver and any fully functioning household appliance, sooner or later you will have a non-functioning household appliance... plus some mysterious "extra" bits strewn not-so-reassuringly about... And me looking sheepish... Latest victim; the Playstation 2 I got from my Brother in August. To be fair, I did eventually get the thing working again, but it was rough going for a while there. My logic(?) for this one went something like; Why should I spend $60 to send my Playstation away to get it "chipped" (modified to play cd "backups" of games) when I could do the work myself with an $8.99 soldering iron from Radio Shack? In retrospect, I still think this was a valid question. It's only the premise, "could do the work myself," that perhaps needed some work. I tend to skip over stuff like that when there is dismantling to be done, with the Playstation sitting right there in front of me and the screwdriver already in hand- OH MY GOD, LET'S GET STARTED! The screwing and unscrewing wasn't really a problem, it was the soldering that ended up being more troublesome. The procedure involves setting various wires *exactly* into position, then melting them in place with a hot iron and some soft silver-based adhesive metal. This is impossible on the microscopic scale of the Playstation innards, but apparently some people can do it so I was pretty determined to prove I could too. Everything went fine. Out of 18 wires that needed to be soldered I got them all nailed down without incident. Well, except for this guy; The wire on top there has gone and ripped the pin from the CD/DVD controller right off the mainboard- you can tell, all the pins on that big chip should look the same, but that one looks like its missing... Because it is... missing... Keep in mind also that the chip in the picture is actually the size of a dime, with the little pins being approximately as far apart as the ridges around the edge of the dime... Small! Well, I'm sure that one little wire won't matter, let's just fire up the unit and see what happens! "Click" Brief pause. "FZZT!" Oh. Hmm. Dear me. To make a long story short I ended up; - Purchasing a refurbished PS2 from Gamestop (after cashing in my penny jar, yes, I am 12 years old, not 30). - Sending the refurbished unit out to get it properly "chipped" like I should have in the first place - Subsequently fixing the broken PS2 after posting my problem to a message board and finding out how to reattach the pin - Selling my original, now fixed, PS2 on EBay to make up for having to buy the new one And the worst part is, I've learned absolutely nothing from all this and will probably do it again to the next vaguely tempting appliance/toy. Hmm... I think my Nintendo Gamecube just hid itself under the couch... "Heeeeeeeere little Gamecube, Daddy's not going to hurt you!" Okay, now that's just creepy.