Breathtaking views

I love where we live. From our backyard we have an excellent view of the Golden Ears peaks. It constantly amazes me that mountains can look different everyday. This morning was a rare treat. It was clear, cold and crisp. There was a thin line of cloud below the peaks but the peaks themselves were completely unobstructed with fresh snow.

I love the mountains. Growing up in Calgary we lived within an hour of the mountains could frequently see them. We spent a great deal of time in the mountains as kids (hiking and cross-country skiing which I hated and would be a topic for another blog!!!). Deb loves the ocean like I love the mountains. This is really the perfect place for us to live as Deb can get to the ocean and I can see mountains.

So in spite of my 2-3 hour daily commute I would not choose to move from here. Coming home to the peace and quiet of the country and the beautiful view we have is soul satisfying.

Norton Redux

Well, it is a good thing to check your spam folder. In amongst the penis enlarging ads and the ones for Viagra I find this email from symantec advising me that they have renewed my subscription. I had told them very clearly back in September that I did not want their product and to cancel all of my subscriptions. Apparently they did not cancel them as per my request.

So I called Visa and asked them to reverse the charge. They tell me they cannot without an email from symantec saying I had cancelled. Of course, symantec does not send anything like this out. I have to call them again. Now, navigating the symantec site is difficult. They seem to want to direct everyone to their chat function so I try that. Apparently they do not support Firefox so I have to switch over to Explorer (which I hate). As an aside why would they not support firefox??

Anyway, after a 20 minute wait (at least they tell you where you are in the queue) I get to chat with Meera. She (I’m assuming here) agrees to cancel the subscription. With some pushing and prodding she agrees to cancel all my subscriptions. Then I ask for a confirmation email – apparently she has no ability to send a confirmation emai??? Huh?? Does she not have a computer and an internet connection? I ask to chat with someone who can send an email. All of sudden she is able to send email.

A word of warning to all of you who are using Norton – they can and will bill your credit card for a new subscription.

It’s Official: I am a Nerd

Well, if there was any doubt that I am a nerd it is long gone now (via Penmachine)! Despite the fact that the article is sexist – apparently only men are nerds, I meet most of the criteria! Uggh!

Understand your nerd’s relation to the computer. It’s clichéd, but a nerd is defined by his computer, and you need to understand why.

First, a majority of the folks on the planet either have no idea how a computer works or they look at it and think “it’s magic”. Nerds know how a computer works. They intimately know how a computer works. When you ask a nerd, “When I click this, it takes awhile for the thing to show up. Do you know what’s wrong?” they know what’s wrong. A nerd has a mental model of the hardware and the software in his head. While the rest of the world sees magic, your nerd knows how the magic works, he knows the magic is a long series of ones and zeros moving across your screen with impressive speed, and he knows how to make those bits move faster.

This is a big one for me. I just bought a 24 inch monitor so I can have more screen real estate. My mother phones me regularly for help with her computer and wanting me to remote in and fix it. She brags to her friends that I can fix anything on the computer and then they call me. I have often said that I have an intimate relationship with computers. I just ‘get them.’ I can walk people through things without even being in front of the computer. I have no idea how many computers I have picked out for other people and/or put together the specs. And yes, I know why things don’t run as fast as they should and can generally fix them.

Then there are those pesky control issues which I did not know are attributed to my new confirmed ‘nerd’ status:

These control issues mean your nerd is sensitive to drastic changes in his environment. Think travel. Think job changes. These types of system-redefining events force your nerd to recognize that the world is not always or entirely a knowable place, and until he reconstructs this illusion, he’s going to be frustrated and he’s going to act erratically. I develop an incredibly short fuse during system-redefining events and I’m much more likely to lose it over something trivial and stupid. This is one of the reasons that…

This is so completely and utterly true of me. If anything changes in my evironment or routine I hate it. I obsess about what kinds of things could change and then come up with a plan in case it happens. I am even disturbed by someone else being up in the morning the same time as me if that is not part of my routine. I can’t stand it if I can’t do everything in the same order and same way every day. This makes things like travelling especially stressful. Then of course there is the fact that I would have to be away from my computer for an extended amount of time. But I guess that is what the laptop is for!

Then there is what the author refers to as The Cave. Well, I don’t have a Cave, I have an office. I still remember when we got separate offices. Now I could keep mine the way I like it. The following anecdote from the article is true:

Each object in the Cave has a particular place and purpose. Even the clutter is well designed. Don’t believe me? Grab that seemingly discarded Mac Mini which has been sitting on the floor for two months and hide it. You’ll have 10 minutes before he’ll come stomping out of the Cave — “Where’s the Mac?”

In the past, Deb has come in and tidied my office. I have always noticed when things have been moved or thrown away. At work my desk has stacks of paper. Each pile has a purpose and I know what is there. I can usually find anything I need very quickly. My office is one of my favourite places in the house afterall it houses my computer.

There are some other criteria for nerdiness in the article that I meet although not as strongly as the ones above. The one about projects is quite funny:

The joy your nerd finds in his project is one of problem solving and discovery. As each part of the project is completed, your nerd receives an adrenaline rush that we’re going to call The High. Every profession has this — the moment when you’ve moved significantly closer to done. In many jobs, it’s easy to discern when progress is being made: “Look, now we have a door”. But in nerds’ bit-based work, progress is measured mentally and invisibly in code, algorithms, efficiency, and small mental victories that don’t exist in a world of atoms.

This is so me! When I am working on a database it is always churning around in my head. I have been known, in the middle of a conversation with Deb, to announce that I just solved my database problem. Luckily she is very understanding and has never accused me of not listening because Nerds are really good at multi-tasking:

The ability to instantly context switch also comes from a life on the computer. Your nerd’s mental information model for the world is one contained within well-bounded tidy windows where the most important tool is one that allows your nerd to move swiftly from one window to the next. It’s irrelevant that there may be no relationship between these windows. Your nerd is used to making huge contextual leaps where he’s talking to a friend in one window, worrying about his 401k in another, and reading about World War II in yet another.

Sometimes I do get in trouble when we are talking about something and I abruptly switch the topic. To the casual (read: non-nerd observer) it seems like I am being a jerk and just changing the subject to something that suits me. But this is not the case. It is more like a cascading effect subject A leads to B and then to C etc. We could be talking about one the dogs not feeling well and that makes me think about the yard which then makes me think about the truck which then makes me think about insurance and I am now reminding Deb that her insurance is coming due. It all makes sense in my head.

It is nice to finally have a diagnosis. Here we thought I was obsessive-compulsive. Turns out it is much more benign: I am a nerd.

Voted off the Island…

Well I guess it happens to everyone at some point…I have been voted off the island. As many of you know I am involved in animal rescue. Now, this is a very cliquey community of people who are all trying their best (for the most part) to make a dent in the sheer numbers of homeless animals. We are a very passionate group of people. Sometimes we argue. Well, more than sometimes, we argue all the freaking time. We mostly do it on message boards. All of the boards have different rules. Some have moderators and you have to adhere to certain Terms of Use, others are more loosely structured. Many times these boards get bogged down in flame wars and arguments that go on and on.

Now, to the getting to the being voted off the Island part. I was on a board (and I won’t say which board) that has private areas for volunteers of rescues to discuss confidential matters. I have been a member of these rooms since the board’s inception. Well, it seems that I pissed some people off because I posted something (mostly on another board, but once on this board) showing the idiocy of a certain poster’s position. Well, this person has a bunch of people who protect him (not sure why…). So, it turns out that membership in these private areas can be revoked if another person asks that your membership be ‘reviewed.” This can even happen if the offending post is not even in this area. This is what happened to me. I go to check into the private area and suddenly I am not allowed in. Someone (and I will never know who) asked that my membership be reviewed in these areas. The process, apparently, is to immediately revoke your access and then post a poll seeing if you are worthy of continued membership. Well, it turns out that by a vote of 88% I was to be banned from the private areas. In essence, I was voted off the Island.

The ironic thing about this is that the many people on this board accuse another board of being arbitrary in their rules and enforcement. They seem to be so busy criticizing the other board that they can’t see how their policies are also not fair. Perhaps there is no ‘fair’ way to do run a message board. It does seem to me that having private areas in general is not a good method. What is really funny is the areas I was talking about were only the first level of private areas. They also have another private area (created when someone questioned why the individual I criticized was granted access to the original private area) that is only for ‘rescue owners’ and ‘senior rescue people’ like members of boards of directors. In order to become a member of that area you need 2 references from within the group. Yet again, another popularity contest in the high school world of animal rescue.