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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Zoom Zoom!

I've been doing car research and even test drove some cars, lately.  No, I'm not getting a car any time soon--too many big bills, lately.  Plus, my car is still going strong.  I'm just getting the itch to put myself into more a feel for what I might get should my car croak.

Anyway, so I'm looking for a compact or subcompact.  It's a far cry from my full-sized 2001 giant-assed American Dodge Intrepid.  I love my Intrepid, but there are only so many times you can try to park that thing and scrape the crap out of it because it's too big and your parking spot in the garage is too small before you start thinking of reversing the size discrepancy.  Besides, I don't drive so much or haul so much crap that I really need a car that big.  And she's 10 full years old with only about 70k on her--she's not getting any more valuable for trade, and I'm just waiting for those miles to be worth diddly squat when something major breaks simply due to age.

So, we randomly go out test driving this last weekend.  That's kind of fun!  Well, mostly.  The first place we went to was a Ford dealership because I'm enamored of the Fiesta.  All they have on the lot is a manual transmission.  In grey.  Ok, but why in the HELL would you only keep one in stock.  In manual.  In grey?  I mean, the whole point of these things is that they are cute-as-hell in obnoxious green and fun-as-hell in Ford's new American (old European) automatic.  Sheesh.  And THEN, we get down to what I really want.  The salesman, up to this point, did all the right things.  Made eye contact with me instead of talking to my guy, asked me what I'm interested in instead of my guy, etc.  So we start talking about price points for an order-in.  Pretty much the same as if it had been on the lot (except who wants the one on the lot?  That's why it's still there.  Duh.)  Cool.  Features?  Oh, I pretty much want everything.  Top price is still pretty affordable.  Color?  Obnoxious green.  Or maybe yellow.  Anything but black.  I have a problem with black cars.  Since I can't see the contours on the body (not that it really applies to the itty bitty Fiesta, but pretty much all sedans, otherwise), I can't tell most black cars from the next.  The salesman replies...get this..."kind of like how all Asian people look alike.  Hehe.  Not that I'm racist."  Yeaahhhh.  Thankfully, the next Ford dealership not only had an automatic, but had one in obnoxious green!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security Part I

I'm a BzzAgent.  I've been a member of an online word of mouth website called BzzAgent for several years.  Basically, in return for creating word of mouth, I get to try stuff.  The latest stuff includes Trend Micro Titanium, a suite of computer security software that's designed to protect your computer from viruses, maximize your computer's performance, back up your essential files, and generally make your online experience safer.  As a BzzAgent, I get to try it out for a year.

First  Before I decided to try it out, I thought to myself "what's wrong with what I've got?"  That is, I had the free Windows Security Essentials on my computer.  I had started using it the moment I installed Windows 7 on my computer.  Well, maybe not the moment, but shortly thereafter.  Seemed to be working alright.  No bugs that I knew of.  But, hey, for nearly $60 a year ($80 for 3 computers), Titanium should be good, right?  At least better than free.  So, I did a bit of research on reviews.  Not so stellar.  It seems that the professionals that test these things gave Titanium great marks for ease of use, but dismal ones on the actual ability to keep viruses out.  Ooh.

Still, I figured that they were comparing paid subscription software to paid subscription software, so it wouldn't hurt to try it.  Besides, I'd have Microsoft Essentials to back it up, right?  Nope.  The first thing that it does when you install it is tell you that Microsoft Essentials (and I presume any other security software) has to go.  Erk.  Ooookaaayyyy.  I said I'd try it.

So, I install it.  It IS easy!  And it doesn't take up much room because, unlike older versions of the software (but like pretty much everyone else nowadays), it doesn't require that you download all the latest virus definitions.  It's all on "the cloouuuudddd."  I'm not really ok with keeping most important personal stuff on the cloud, but virus definitions are fine.

Once installed, I thought I'd check to see how dirty my computer is.  Start scan....whoah!  Results already?  Oh yeah, the reviews did give it high marks for being quick.  And it found...nothing.  Computer's clean.  Well, at least I know that Microsoft Essentials was doing its job.

Next, I thought I'd take advantage of the 10 gig of free backup space using the SafeSync program that comes with Titanium Maximum Security.  Documents folder.  Check.  Photos.  Check.  Music folder.  Check. and a half to wait.  Ok.  10 gigs is a lot of memory, and I don't have a screaming fast connection.  BUT!  10 gigs really isn't that much memory, and when I notice the message Titanium is giving me the next day, I realize I've managed to upload all of my documents folder, all of my photos folder, and only some of my music.  Hrm.  Well, it tells me that if I click on this message, I can get more space.  So, I click on the message, which doesn't bring me to getting more space, but brings me to the upload status.  Which is flashing between showing me how much of the listed files I've managed to upload and telling me that I've run out of room.  Oh!  There's a button on the bottom that looks like it might take me to where I might get more space.  Yup!  $50 for 20 more gigs?  Holy shit!  That's a lot of money for RENTING extra space.  Forget that.  I've got a Passport external hard drive.  I'll just back the rest of it up like I always do (when I remember).  Now, how do I get the message to keep popping up?  Click.  There.  Wait, no.  Click.  Good.  Gone.  Nope....  Click!  DAMMIT!!!  How do I get it to go away?  I finally outsmart it and shut the SafeSync program down.  By right clicking on the program window at the bottom of my screen because I couldn't find an option in the open window.  Grr.

Ok.  So, I've just installed it and it's irritated the crap out of me.  But since the SafeSync incident, it's been quietly running in the background.  No slowdowns and no obvious blips.  That's good. install the Mobile Security on my Android phone or not?  I'll think about it.  In the meanwhile, I'll see how it actually works and follow up in a few months.

In the meanwhile, feel free to try it at a discount.  Use the code "BZZ30" at or use this coupon at Best Buy to get $30 off.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Things I've learned about my cat

I have two cats, Gandalf and Coyote.    (Yes, he's grey.  They both are.)  They're brother and sister, about a year and a half old.  The boy cat is very sweet and a little bit dumb--and very expensive.  He has been the most problem prone cat I've ever had.  In the year that I've had him, he's been lame (we have no idea what he did), constipated all the way from the front to the back (again, we have no idea what he did), and had one bastard of a urinary tract problem, costing thousands of dollars.  It's a good thing we love him.

The urinary tract problem was so bad that he ended up having surgery to widen his urethra by removing extra bits (ouch!) and rerouting the exit.  For the last week and a half, the poor thing has had his butt shaved poodle-style, stitches closing up the old opening and holding the new one open (and, oddly, some extras to give him a "butt tuck" on one side), has had to learn to squat like a girl, and to keep him from picking the stitches out, has had to wear a cone collar.

What have I learned from him, then?

First, a cat can single-handedly rearrange your life.  Over the month he suffered from his urinary tract issues, we made, on average, 2 trips a week to the vet--over half of those trips were emergency vet trips.  That meant going to work later than usual, leaving work earlier than usual, staying up later than usual, and getting up earlier than usual.  One trip to the emergency vet had us coming home after 2 am.  And we wouldn't have done it any other way.

Second, a cat won't get a job, no matter how much they owe you.

Third, a cat that loves to groom himself goes through various stages of grieving when he can't groom himself.  I'm just as anxious for that collar to come off as he is.

Fourth, a cat with a collar shakes his head a lot.  At least this one does.  He shakes it so hard that he nearly knocks himself over.  I wondered if his neck was sore because of this, which lead me to learning number five.

Fifth, a cat with a sore neck loves to get massaged.  He nearly passes out when I massage his neck.  And he smiles.

Sixth, a cat that looks pathetic will see how much he can get away with.  "Mom, I'm sick.  I'm going to get up on the counter and get into your food.  But it's ok now because I'm sick."  AAAGH!  He's been a monster.  Plus, the collar makes him clumsy and he knocks more shit over than usual.

Seventh, a cat with a cone on its head discovers that the covers no longer touch his face when he gets under them.  Ever since he's been home, he's been sleeping under the covers with us.  It's cute.  Until you can't sleep because you can't move, or your afraid you'll roll over on him, or he decides he wants you to pet him (that cone hurts when he head butts you in the face), or you want some privacy.

Eighth, a kind of dumb cat isn't as dumb as he pretends to be.  See point six.  Also, since he can't groom himself, he's taken to making us do it.  He licks our fingers and then bumps them with his nose to get us to pet his face and ears--like when he does it himself.  User.  Still, his own spit is the only allowable cleaner.  He won't let me use the cat grooming wipes I bought specifically for this purpose.

Finally, a cat, no matter how much they cost, is worth it.

Let the randomness begin.

This being my first post on my first real blog, let me begin by introducing myself.  Kind of.  Nevermind.  You can read about me in the "About Ghost and Dragon" section on the left side of this blog.  Hopefully, my blog will be more interesting.

I intend this blog to be about what I find interesting in any given day.  The post will probably be based on something I read, tried, experienced or heard that day.  It will probably be somewhat geeky.  I'll include commentary on the news, reviews on products and/or books, or just some words on a particular experience.  You probably won't read about Lady Gaga here.