Archive for July, 2008

The Flight Home

July 20, 2008 7:02 pm

So home again home again.  It seems like I haven’t really been home since Christmas, between the first time I was in CA, a term of school, and most of the summer out in California, I guess I haven’t really been home. 

The first 3/4s of my flight was very uneventful, leaving on time, nothing fancy about it.  We did a neat spiral on the way up looping over the bay area twice before heading east.  Unfortunately  this was one of the mornings where the fog crept over the hills and blanketed the valley.  The fog was held back this time by the mountains to the east of the valley:

Eastern mountains holding back the fog

Eastern mountains holding back the fog

This meant I only had a few minutes of looking down at Santa Clara before we were up and through the fog.  Once we were up a bit higher I was able to grab a quick photo of San Francisco airport popping through the fog with the ridge of the hills to the west of the valley visible poking above the fog. 

San Francisco Airport through the fog

San Francisco Airport through the fog

The next leg little bit was the most interesting part of the flight as we left the fog to our west and flew over amazing mountains slightly shrouded in morning mist. 

Valley Shrouded in Mist

Valley Shrouded in Mist

As we left the mountains we entered back in to the part of the country that has humidity. And on a hot day like today with lots of humidity you get pop-up clouds.  That is what we had for the remainder of the flight. 

Puffy Clouds

Puffy Clouds

I did have a fun conversation with a high school student, Adam, who was on his way to a gymnastics camp for a week. I turns out he grew up in Toronto and had a ton of questions about the US college system and getting ready for school. 

That more or less brings me to where I am now… sitting at Washington-Dulles airport waiting for my next flight.  The hot humid weather up and down the coast is causing thunderstorms, the startings of which we could see from the air as we flew here.  At the moment my flight has been delayed by a half-hour.  Unfortunately they have WiFi here, but you have to buy it soo…. That’s not going to happen so I’m writing this offline now and will post it later!  However, it will probably be after a nice dinner with my parents and a good night’s sleep!

–Written ~4pm

UPDATE: 4:40 PM  It turns out it’s not actually because of thunderstorms at Hartford that we’re delayed right now, we’re delayed because the pilots for our flight have not left North Carolina yet!  Solitaire here I come!

UPDATE: Sunday

I made it home safely.  The second leg of the flight ended up being more than an hour late because once our pilots actually got into the plane and we taxied out the runway, we had to wait for some fuel calculations before we could actually take off.  Once we were in the air, we made good time.  Along the way we were treated to spectacular views through the clouds every once in a while.  The sun was reflecting off the bays and coves along the New Jersy / New York, CT shores creating an upside down sunset.

Upsidedown Sunset

Upside down Sunset

I even caught a little glimpse of New York City.

New York city

New York city

Computer Update!

July 16, 2008 10:07 pm

So here it is, that long ago promised update on my computer. 

I really had quite an adventure.  For those of you who don’t know, I have had a rather crazy run of fun with my laptops, with most of them lasting no more than a year.  The laptop that I had was actually doing the best of any of the laptops I had had, chugging along for almost three years.  It had started to have its share of wear and tear problems including a busted DVD drive, a dead (wouldn’t recharge) battery and a busted volume knob.  Finally, many weeks ago, the power cord shorted out leaving me with no way to power the laptop.  This was the final straw that caused me to bring it into get serviced.  Bad timing, being in CA without easy access to another computer (except at work) but not the end of the world. 

A coworker was nice and drove me to drop it off.  I sent it out, nothing exciting.  Three and a half weeks later I checked the online tracking system (ok, actually, I was checking it routinely) and saw that it was ready to be picked up.  I bummed another ride to the store to pick it up.  When I got there I was in for a real surprise. They brought out my laptop all wrapped up in shrink-wrap, saying there was a insect infestation inside and they could not repair it as this voided my warranty.  Thus began the long, annoying, sequence of events that Best Buy ran me through. 

First of all, let me say that I was living in a third floor apartment both in Worcester and for the first half of my time in CA, and neither of them had any insects of speak of.  Additionally, my computer is probably running 12+ hours a day, so it’s not an easy thing fora  bug to get into in the first place. Besides, there’s not much room in a laptop for a bug to get in!  I was extremely certain there was not an infestation in my computer.

It was fairly late in the evening when I was able to get a ride to pick up my laptop.  I tried calling corporate to find out what the deal was, but the phone operator continued to connect me to a department that was closed at the time, even though the next day I found out the department I needed to talk to is open 24/7.  I really didn’t want to take the laptop home, unsure if they would refuse to ever take it back but I really had no other option at that point, and the store was about to close. 

The next day, I spent well over an hour on the phone with various levels of Best Buy corporate who more or less agreed that it was quite crazy for my laptop to be infested.  They said that I should open it up and get it cleaned and then bring it back to the store and they could send it out to be fixed again.  So, I opened it up and go figure, there was nothing of any consequence.  It was dirty yes, but there was nothing resembling an insect infestation. 

So, I took a long bike ride back over to best buy to have them send it in again as corporate said.  The people at the store were rather confused about the whole situation.  He could not (or would not) talk to corporate, although he did manage to get ahold of Best Buy’s insurance company which of course told him the policy would be void.  This was interesting, because corporate had told me that if there was an infestation, the plan would not be void, it would simply not be serviced, and after a cleaning it could be serviced.  Corporate also had said that they were going to contact the service center and try to see if they had any proof of the infestation, this never happened.  The geek squad tech also said he would follow up with the service center and find out what was going on… this also never happened. 

This was a Saturday, so I gave them until Wednesday (so this was a full week after corporate had said they were going to talk to the service center) to get back to me.  They didn’t.  I gave them another call, this time with an escalation directly to the customer care number with all my tracking numbers and history of who I had been talking to.  This time on the phone they told me to go to a different store and have them send it in.  They gave me a direct number to call when I was at the store if they store wouldn’t take it.  Finally, it felt like there may be some sign of progress. 

I brought it back to a different store this time and got it sent off without out much hassle (mostly because they didn’t know the back-story and corporate insured that the warranty showed up as valid in the system). 

Jump ahead another three weeks and I find out that the laptop is ready for pickup.  I head back to pick it up, not really expecting much.  It turns out they actually “fixed” it this time, however all they did was swap in a new battery and DVD drive, and completely didn’t fix the sound issue at all.  The sound would randomly cut out of one speaker or the other and both speakers would crackle really loudly when the volume knob was turned…. not terrable for most people, but when doing the audio stuff that I do it was a real drag. 

At this point I was quite annoyed.  The people at this store were considerably nicer than the first store, and after hearing the hassle I had been through, they decided to just replace the laptop.  Unfortunately, they would only replace it with an open box or clearance item which left me with VERY few choices.  I really wanted to go for the crazy 19″ system with dual NVIDIA graphics cards and dual hard drives, however it was 10+ lbs, aka: way to heavy to carry around campus.  Instead I got a nice HP system [link to specs].  There are alot of things I don’t like about it, the lack of good drivers is on the top of the list.  Thankfully my time at NVIDIA has taught me some fun things and I was able to get / make drivers to allow me to run both XP and vista on it. 

Another fun fact about this laptop is it has an NVIDIA 8600m graphics card.  For those of you who are very up on tech news, this is one of the chips that is rumored to be flawed.  Even though I’m at NVIDIA I have NO IDEA if this is true or anything like that at all.  I dont work with the graphics card department at all.  I do know their stock price has dropped rather impressivly due to an announcement about chip failures.

Anyways, that been one of my adventures over the past 7 weeks. 

Finally, to leave you with at least one or two pictures in this otherwise picture-less post:

My cube
My cube

Yes, a few weeks ago my team moved to a different building, and with the move I actually got my own cube!  It was quite a step up from the random end of a row of cubes that I had before.

And finally, a picture of the living room that I have been living in for the past few weeks:

My Room: Nothing fancy but it does the trick!
My Room: Nothing fancy but it does the trick!