Saturday, April 30, 2011

Walking Your Cat

Wilton Manors is a very different place.  There are things that happen here that we smile at and say "isn't that cute" that if they were to happen in a different place of approximately the same social stratus you would have your house egged or worse.

I've found that since I have moved here, of the "locals" there's really only one that I find what I would call reprehensible.  I've heard many others say the same of this person, so I'm not being too harsh.

On the other hand, we tend to be a very tolerant bunch.   I have a wonderful family down the block who I think lives a great life.  They've got an air boat, the kids go fishing, ride a golf cart and Dad and Mom join in.  After all you don't often see a roughly 40 year old man stand on a skateboard and roll down the street ahead of his kids with a fishing pole in one hand waving the other arm wildly for balance while the sons are yelling "Dad slow down you're too fast for us!".  

That just would NOT do in Plantation, Florida, Maple Shade, NJ, or Irvine California.  No way!  It's just not done in Suburbia!

I'm glad I don't live there. 

Standing on a soap box aside, I had a chance to witness yet another thing that just would not happen in the Burbs.

I was waiting for my coffee to finish brewing, and since I roast my own I am thinking that is another one of Those Things, and walked to the front door of my house.   Looking out the door across the street there is an open lot.  Back in the housing boom there were two rather nondescript duplexes there and they were knocked down for "future development".  Now there is a lot of sand and a single weatherbeaten tree.

It ends up being a semi-official parking lot on Bar Nights, and a place for the kids to run their motorized toys and for Dad to bring the quad bike.  This lot also has the unfortunate designation of being an unofficial pet park.  Many of the neighbors take their pets there so they can avoid cleaning up after their cherished friend, and I've warned my neighbors down the block to be careful of that sort of thing.

While looking out the window I saw someone else walking their pet there.  It was another neighbor who I don't know well.  He runs a glass business and drives the van quite a bit faster than I'd prefer since there really ARE kids on the block like the sign on the corner says.  Looking at the pet closer I saw it wasn't a dog.

This man with all his tattoos, shaved head, and biker looks was walking a cat.  

On the end of a long red leash there was a cat on a harness.  I should say Trying To Walk A Cat instead, since the cat really wasn't interested in covering any distance.   Sitting in the Florida Desert Sands like the Sphinx, this tricolored cat was just going about being a cat.  That is to say it was indifferent toward doing anything other than what a cat will do when presented with a big box of sand, and it sat there doing it looking like the king of the cat hill. 

Apparently Mr Biker Dude wanted to get moving because he was gently flipping and vibrating the leash to provide incentive.  Just as the timer sounded in the kitchen he slipped his toe under the cat and tickled it just enough to get it to move forward another 3 feet.

I guess that is why you don't see many people Cat Walking other than people in dresses that you would expect to slip between the floor boards of an old building. 

One more nudge and they moved on to their apartment after rolling in the dust just a bit more.  I walked back to have my second mug of coffee and was amused enough to check again to see if Biker and Cat were still out in the sand playing around.   They had moved on leaving me with another illustration of why living in Wilton Manors can be a gift.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Annoy Yourself, Forget the Border Collie's Mat

I'm up before the dawn.  I have to be.  If not, my furry alarm clock is there at 6am with her head on the mattress wagging her tail and thereby shaking the bed.

This morning, I did manage to get up before all of that.  This being Friday, I grabbed all the "Dog Mats" and threw them into the washer.  Super-Hot to kill the things that may get into them after having a 47 pound Border Collie lay on them all week.  I also tossed a few other odds and ends into the washer, slammed the door, pressed the start button and walked away.

We went out for our dog walk around town shortly there after.   She had her food, and I grabbed the old time radio show that I had been listening to on the MP3 player and we went outside.

No, not an i-thing, a real honest to goodness player from *gasp* Sansa!

After doing a lap around town and wandering around with me following her with a plastic bag, we got home.  I put the player down, started the morning routine.   Within 15 minutes my mind shifted from following the dog to warming biscuits, roasting coffee, making Iced Tea, boiling water, making coffee, grinding coffee, warming a chicken pattie, and emptying the sink of last nights detritus.

All the while I was being watched.  Two brown eyes with occasional flashes of gold from the ceiling lights.

I finished breakfast while waiting for the coffee to brew in the pot, stirring occasionally, and managed to get all of the grounds put away.

Still watched. 

Thinking that she was needing attention, I pet her black head gently then reached into the freezer for an ice cube, and returned to stirring the coffee and the iced tea.

She finished her ice cube, wandered out, and back.  Sat down and watched.

About the time that the coffee was ready to be poured, the washer beeped for attention.  I put the mats into the dryer, pressed start and walked back outside to the kitchen.

I was able to gather everything up and walk to the big green chair, start the little HP laptop and chug through the beginning of the morning job search routine.   179 web pages, opened in tabs, in five browsers.  Tomorrow being Saturday, that count doubles with the weekly search.

Getting through the first set of 35 pages, I was watched the entire time.   I'm wondering why she managed to squeeze her nose in between my left leg and the chair.  Now the toys begin.  First the Rattling Cat was dropped on my left foot.  This was followed by the squeaky plush cat.

I bent down grabbed the cat and shook it and flung it out to the room.

Lettie chased it, and I am wondering what has gotten into her? 

Going back to the search, I manage to get to the second 35 pages.   She's now got a pile of toys at my feet as I am shaking things and tossing them out for her to fetch. 

I got up and made mug number two of coffee. 

It was this time where my morning haze shook off.   We've been home for around an hour.  The first mug of coffee kicked in, now we're alert.

The Dryer beeped.  It was only now that I realize why Mrs Dog was trying to get my attention.  There were no dog mats for her to sleep on and watch me from afar.   She had put herself down before on the floor and that was normal but less preferred. 

I grabbed the dog mats from the dryer, walked them into the bedroom, and set them on the bed while laying one swiss-rolled towel down for her to use.  One paw on the end of the roll, she triumphantly unrolls it out with the other front paw and plops herself down.  

Just as the water for the second mug of coffee is whistling in the tea kettle, I walk out to plop a tightly folded mat next to the bouncy chair for her to figure out how to make herself comfortable.

I guess all of this is Problem Solving in a Border Collie.   The problem was the human forgetting.   After all, it was 6AM when the mats hit the washer, almost 8 when they were done, and 9 by the time I realized what was going on.   But anyone who thinks that there is such a thing as a dumb animal has never gotten in the way of a border collie's routine or never walked back into the house after a short spell to be greeted by a parrot's chatter saying hello, loudly, repeatedly.

I'm still picking up the toys.   I'll have to move the Kong since they're in dog's view.   If not, I had better be ready to put some peanut butter and a cookie in there.  If not, we're going to have them dropped on my left foot again. 

Over and over.  And then I'll be stared at.  Always the staring...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Call Center Humor From Velma

I was walking around the house today chuckling at having done this and that and remembered a conversation I had with a good friend Joe.   Joe was a Programmer who worked with and for me for 7 years, great guy who is highly capable. 

We were talking about how we'd be on the phone with the directors of the end user departments helping them through for sometimes over an hour or two at a shot.  They preferred it that way, and while it was sometimes best to walk out of the office to do a face to face, it would always make it rain.

Every time my end user from Purchasing, No'een would come up to my office, without fail it would be an epic downpour.

Velma sent me this joke about Help Desk and Call Center humor.  Some of these situations I've actually been through.  Others I have watched.  Enjoy!



Actual call center conversations!

Customer:     'I've been calling 700-1000 for two days and can't get through; can you help?'
Operator:      'Where did you get that number, sir?'
Customer:     'It's on the door of your business.'
Operator:     'Sir, those are the hours that we are open.'
Samsung Electronics
Caller:      'Can you give me the telephone number for Jack?'
Operator:  'I'm sorry, sir, I don't understand who you are talking about.'
Caller:    'On page 1, section 5, of the user guide it clearly states that I need to unplug the fax machine from the AC wall socket and telephone Jack before cleaning.  Now, can you give me the number for Jack?'  
Operator:  'I think it means the telephone plug on the wall.'
 RAC Motoring Services
Caller:       'Does your European Breakdown Policy cover me when I am traveling in Australia ?'
Operator:  'Does the policy name give you a clue?'
Caller (enquiring about legal requirements while traveling in Europe ) 'If I register my car in
France, and then take it to England,do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?'
Directory Enquiries
Caller:  'I'd like the number of the Argo Fish Bar, please'
Operator: 'I'm sorry, there's no listing. Are you sure that the spelling is correct?'
Caller: 'Well, it used to be called the Bargo Fish Bar but the 'B' fell off.'
Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven.
Operator: 'Woven? Are you sure?'
Caller:  s.. That's what it says on the label -- Woven in Scotland ...'
 On another occasion, a man making heavy breathing sounds from a phone box told a worried operator: 'I haven't got a pen, so I'm steaming up the window to write the number on.'
Tech Support:      'I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop.'
Customer:             'OK.'
Tech Support:      'Did you get a pop-up menu?'
Customer:             'No.'
Tech Support:      'OK. Right-Click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?'
Customer:             'No.'
Tech Support:      'OK, sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?'
Customer:            'Sure. You told me to write 'click' and I wrote 'click'.'
Tech Support:      'OK. At the bottom left hand side of your screen, can you see the 'OK' button displayed?'
 Customer:             'Wow! How can you see my screen from there?'
Caller:  'I deleted a file from my PC last week and I just realized that I need it.  So, if I turn my system clock back two weeks will I get my file back again?'
This has to be one of the funniest things in a long time. I think this guy should have been promoted, not fired. This is a true story from the WordPerfect Helpline, which was transcribed from a recording monitoring the customer care department..............
Needless to say the Help Desk employee was fired; however, he/she is currently suing the WordPerfect organization for 'Termination without Cause.'

This is Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee. (Now I know why they record these conversations!):

Operator:         'Ridge Hall, computer assistance; may I help you?'
Caller:              'Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect .'
Operator:         'What sort of trouble?'
Caller:              'Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away.'
Operator:         'Went away?'
Caller:              'They disappeared'
Operator:         'Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?'
Caller:              'Nothing.'
Operator:         'Nothing??'
Caller:              'It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type.'
Operator:         'Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?'
Caller:              'How do I tell?'
Operator:        'Can you see the 'C: prompt' on the screen?'
Caller:              'What's a sea-prompt?'
Operator:         'Never mind, can you move your cursor around the screen?'
Caller:              'There isn't any cursor; I told you, it won't accept anything I type..'
Operator:         'Does your monitor have a power indicator?'
Caller:              'What's a monitor?'
Operator:         'It's the thing with the screen on it that looks like a TV.  Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?'
Caller:               'I don't know.'
Operator:          'Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where
                         the power cord goes into it. Can you see that??'
Caller:              'Yes, I think so.'
Operator:         'Great. Follow the cord to the plug, and tell me if it's plugged into the wall..
 Caller:              'Yes, it is.'
Operator:         'When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?’
Caller:               'No.'
Operator:          'Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and  find the other cable.'
Caller:               'Okay, here it is.'
Operator:          'Follow it for me, and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer..'
Caller:               'I can't reach.'
Operator:          'OK. Well, can you see if it is?'
Caller:               'No..'
Operator:          'Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?'
Caller:               'Well, it's not because I don't have the right angle -- it's because it's dark.'
Operator:          'Dark?'
Caller:               'Yes - the office light is off, and the only light I have is coming in from the window.'
Operator:          'Well, turn on the office light then.'
Caller:               'I can't.'
Operator:          'No? Why not?'
Caller:              'Because there's a power failure.'
Operator:           'A power .... A power failure? Aha. Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and  manuals and  packing stuff that your computer came in?'
Caller:                'Well, yes, I keep them in the closet..'
Operator:          'Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it  up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from.'
Caller:                'Really? Is it that bad?'
Operator:           'Yes, I'm afraid it is.'
Caller:                'Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?'
Operator:          'Tell them you're too damned stupid to own a computer!'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Basic Searches in Windows 7

A good friend, and a client of mine last night caught up to me when I was at City Hall.

He had a problem that many people have and that is too many files get lost in oddball places.  Sure it makes sense to have all your pictures in one spot, but then you end up having a Pictures directory in your Libraries in Windows 7 that is a mess.  If you are like me, you end up having lots of little folders sitting in that Pictures directory with names on them. 

So how do you find those oddball files that got "misfiled"?  You know, the lost ones that we all have, that got tucked away in strange places.

This posting today is going to be mostly pictures.  So since a picture is worth 1000 words, I'm going to have 4000 or more of them.

This is a picture of my desktop with almost everything removed.   Way down in the task bar there is an icon circled.  That is the icon I have on my taskbar for "Computer".  You can find the same program that the icon represents by clicking on the start button, then selecting "Computer".

After you have selected that icon, you will see this window pop up. On my computer the default is to show your Libraries.  Not to worry, we won't be looking at those since we're going to look for lost files basically "everywhere" on your C drive.

Click once on your C Drive on the pane to the left.  On this picture the spot you want to click on is labeled "Local Disc (C:)".   I really should label the disc something more creative, but this works.
The arrow is pointing to the search box.   In the Search Box, type the kind of file you are looking for.  In this case, type "jpg".  Once you do that, Windows will immediately begin to search for your little lost files.

The search will run.  You will know when it is done by the green bar going away in the file directory name toward the top.   While this is going on, you can make the icons you see larger or smaller by clicking on the little icon just under the Search Box.

That's about it.  The basics that is.  There are other tricks you can experiment with.  This is a special folder at this point where you can grab all the search results and move, rename, or delete them so you may want to be careful.  It's an easy way to move a lot of lost files into one place if you have a mind to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Behold Chiphenge!

From the movie A Fish Called Wanda:
[Otto is torturing Ken by quizzing him on Nietzsche and sticking chips up his nose]
Otto: Guess I'll have to ask you an easy one, eh, Ken? OK. Um... Let me think, let me think. Um... Where are the diamonds? I'll give you a clue. Somewhere around the airport.
Ken: I'm n-n-n...
Otto: No hassle. There's plenty of time. I'll just sit here and eat my chips till you tell me. The English contribution to world cuisine: the chip. What do the English usually eat with chips to make them more interesting? Wait a moment! It's fish. Isn't it? [Dipping into the fish tank with a net] Oh! Here, boy. Down the hatch. [Eats the fish] Delicious!
Ken: You b-b-b...
Otto: Better eat the green one? OK. What's this one's name? Well, not Wanda, anyway. I'm going to call her Lunch. Hello, Lunch. Hello! [Eats the fish] Ew! Avoid the green ones - not ripe yet.
Every time I have Fish and Chips, I think of the movie A Fish Called Wanda and the exchange I quoted above.

Then, after a smile, I start stacking the chips up to make Chiphenge. 

Chiphenge was my being silly one day when I wanted Fish and Chips.   Tired of soggy boring chips, I started stacking them up.   When once I went to Fish Sticks, I ended up building structures of Fish Sticks like Lincoln Log Cabin from a freezer in Maine that would somewhat collapse while cooking.

At least the food would get more air around them and the breading on both the fish and chips would be a bit more crispy without overcooking them.

Now it has become an open joke with me.  When it is time to make anything remotely fishy or chippy, it ends up getting turned up and stacked like pallets in a warehouse to see how tall I can get them.

At least Chiphenge is crispy on both sides instead of Not Chiphenge which is kind of mushy on the bottom.

So Behold Chiphenge!  A Superior method of building... chip towers! Amuse your family! Annoy your friends!  Turn Lunch or Dinner into a game for your Four Year Old and build towers out of food!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Banana Bread with Pecans and Chocolate Chips Recipe

The problem with buying a "bunch" of bananas is that you always end up with some that get all mushy.   I got tired of eating them like that, so I started hunting for a simple Banana Bread Recipe.  I found this one that I could make in the Bread Machine.

First, the ingredients.  I will list them in the order I put them into the bread machine bucket.  The reality is that if you make Banana Bread, it makes a batter that can be poured into a bread pan and baked or that can be made into some mindbendingly good Pancakes.  It's all carbs, basically junk food, and good for the soul but don't fool yourself that this is "healthy". 

I did say good for the soul.  :)

2 Bananas, Peeled and Halved lengthwise
2 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 Cup Chocolate Chips

Add the bananas to the bucket of the bread machine.  Turn it on "knead" or "dough" and let it run until the bananas are smooth as you like.   I was able to puree them to a liquid consistency without lumps, but some folks like lumps.

When the bananas are at the desired consistency, add the remaining ingredients to the bucket of the bread machine while it is still stirring.   Add the ingredients one at a time and allow them to blend fully before switching to the next ingredient.   The Flour should be added slowly at a couple tablespoons at a time until fully incorporated.

After the flour is fully incorporated, begin adding the pecans and the chocolate chips. 

Once they are mixed in, stop the bread machine.

It is at this point that you can pour the batter out to bake in the oven. The rule of thumb is 350F for 30 minutes, or 400F for 20.  Mind you, this recipe is for a Bread Machine, so you will want to experiment with time and temp until your toothpick comes out clean in the middle.

If you are going with the Bread Machine, restart the machine on the regular cycle.   The picture you see is what I got on the Dark Setting.  This will yield a 1 pound loaf (plus the weight of the pecans and chocolate chips).

Here is where I say Pecans and Chocolate Chips are Optional, but are Chocolate Chips ever really optional?

The results were amazing.  I would say that the bread machine I have worked its magic on the batter well.  I always cut a layer off the top for my "reward for hard work" and it was fine.  There was a nice gooey clot of Chocolate Chip melt just under the crust.  On the other hand Your Mileage Will Vary.  Like any recipe, you will want to experiment with time and temperature to make sure the results are what you want.

For me, I think Dinner will be a slice of this bread with Peanut Butter and Jelly.  I may as well have a gooey carbo load for that meal too.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Help the Animals by Casual Gaming

Ok, we all play games from time to time.  Even I do.

If you hop onto Solitaire while you are waiting for a phone call, or just reach the end of your rope and play a little minesweeper to "clear your head", you are a casual gamer.

You know, it's that quick "Just Five Minutes Before I Go" kind of game.  Play a quick bit of Bejeweled on your phone in the bathroom or on the bus, you are a Casual Gamer.

Ok, I've done that sort of thing.  I'll admit it an it's a lot more productive than sitting at a PC looking angry or starting up FreeCiv and playing for hours in "background".

If you are on Facebook, you can play casual games there, and they will donate to animal causes like feed and shelter.  The nice thing about it is that if you can get to facebook, you can help a furry friend while doing something you would be doing normally.

I just discovered this while hitting my daily clicks for The Animal Site, and thought I should share this.  So I'm nagging everyone to give this a shot.

I'm also one of those people who laughs at Farmville addicts and all those other games, so this is really quite out of character.  In fact, I block any of the normal social games on Facebook since I have WAY too much reading to do to keep up with career development sites and technology bulletins that float past all day, as well as posting things for my own duties here as Social Media Director for Wilton Manors Main Street.

Anyway, folks, I've been clicking on the links for The Animal Site for quite a while.  You should consider doing it too, but if you don't want to do it there, you can follow my lead.

The Link for the description for the Casual Gaming is here, and you can read all about it.

If you are on Facebook, this link will take you directly to the page to "like" it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Split Leaf Philodendron in Bloom - Picture

I spent Good Friday Afternoon on the phone.

Literally from when I got back from the Thai restaurant at lunch until dinner at a little past dog walk, I had a phone glued to my ear or was working on an email.

I had four different jobs shopped to me, a Project Manager in charge of Training which was fascinating enough for me to say to the recruiter that "Wow, that would be FUN!", a senior Project Manager at a company who is known to be over picky about their positions (I could give you chapter and verse and all the recruiters here know about it), a LAMP and PHP developer position (I'm qualified to be that guy's boss, but it's intriguing, I'll listen to any of these that are shopped), and an Executive in charge of Operations at a "growing South Florida company".   That last one was almost written from my resume, I've worked at that level before for three years as a remote consultant (Hi Carter!)

We shall see.  Any of the positions would be perfect.  All of them have enough "meat" to them that they would keep me quite satisfied for the next 10 plus years including career growth.

As you can see it was a hectic four hours.   In the middle of all of that, I was sitting with the trusty little laptop warming my left leg and trying to figure out how to reconfigure the thing so that F5 was really F5 and not "back track" in a media player.   The short answer is check your bios.

All the sudden my email comes up with a message from Kevin and no topic.  He had slipped out while I was talking family business and having recruiters leave messages.  Nice to be invited to the party even if your phone is pretending to be Newark Airport with planes circling waiting to land.

While I returned call number one of three, I had a picture pop up of the philodendron in the back yard.   Complete with that flower.  It was a very good one from the standpoint of sunlight and positioning, but being an iPhone picture, the colors were shifted blue so I wanted to retake this one which is the picture you see above.

This split leaf philodendron in the back yard is loving life.  There are two others in the back yard, all of which are getting ready to bloom with multiple flowers.   If I get "just the right shot" I will post those, especially the one plant that has at least 6 blooms waiting to pop open.  This being South Florida, it's in a sheltered spot and gets mostly indirect sunlight.  As a result it is huge.   This is a plant that has grown 6 feet tall and covers a 6 foot radius in the yard.  It's a blasted hedge!   When we cut a leaf off the plant, we stick it into a vase and it lasts for a couple days or even weeks looking deep green and like something you'd see in a florist shop up North.   I'd say "like" since this is at least twice as large as I had ever seen foliage in any of the florist shops up there. 

With three of those plants, and a scattering of screw palms, bamboo, and other oddball assortments of greenery, my back yard has an almost perfect wall of greenery to shade it from the neighbors behind.  After all, if you want privacy, it is much better for the environment to have something living and green there than dead and grey and cut from a forest hundreds of miles away.

I doubt it is native, so it probably sucks down more water than it would had I planted some native grasses, but in this case, I doubt those grasses would give me the wall of green that I have here.  If we get a storm, I'm sure those big thick leaves will be shredded as they were in Hurricane Wilma did the year before we got the house.   For now, I'm enjoying sights like this in my own back yard.

Friday, April 22, 2011

31 Inch Tires on a Jeep Wrangler TJ

You might say "Bill, why are you showing me the underside of your Jeep?".

Well, it's a Jeep Thing...
You wouldn't understand.

This is actually the Passenger Side, front tire.  If you're in the United Kingdom, this is the Driver's Side Front Tyre.

I had to replace the tires on my Jeep.  I have had 42,000 trouble free miles on him, and yes, a Jeep Wrangler is a him.  He's my third Jeep, all of which have been trouble free. 

I say "I Had" to replace the tires because the car felt unsafe to drive.  It still had a little more life left in them, but I was beginning to hydroplane and I was not feeling safe on the road.  I'd take it over 65 (Speed limits on the turnpike are 70 MPH in parts of South Florida, and they change tires at 80 here) and he'd start to vibrate.

I've always been a fan of going up a tire size from what the factory put on the car, but this will be my last Jeep I suspect so I wanted to go as big as I could without doing silly things like lifting the body.  After all, the car is going to remain on the road until I get up to the Pines.  I want to do a lot of things when I go back to New Jersey, and Apple Pie Hill will see me again if I can.

The problem is that there's a discussion of whether it can be done or not. I am here to say:

Tires measured 31x10.5x15 will fit on the original rims on a 2002 Jeep Wrangler X with minor rubbing on a very tight turning radius or severe body flex.

Why did I phrase it like that?  Because that was what I got.  When I cocked the wheel all the way to the side, I would have the front tire rub against the undercarriage.

This picture is how to fix it so there will be NO RUBBING.

Get from the hardware no more than 6 stainless steel washers with a 3/8th inch center hole.  I used 2, one on each side.

Find your socket wrench and your 9/16th inch socket, and for back up a 9/16th inch crescent wrench or a stout adjustable wrench.

Set all that aside.

Unless your Jeep is very new, you will probably have some rust on that steer stop bolt (see detail above).  That is why in the picture, there is oil around it.  This is actually just a bolt that is stuck into some solid steel, so you will have no oil leakage unless you have an oops.

Turn the wheel on the car so you can get to the bolt.   I was able to get to the passenger side without climbing all over myself to get to it with the wheel turned all the way to the right.   Reverse that for the driver's side.

Put a few drops of a good penetrating oil on where the bolt meets the metal.  Most everyone has some around the house, I used some Tri Flow simply because I use that on my skate bearings.  

Give it a little time to soak in and try to loosen the bolt with your wrench.  If it doesn't come loose, you'll have to use a hammer or a breaker bar to apply some leverage.   Mine came loose with 10 taps each.  It wasn't strictly siezed, but it was very tight.

If the bolt comes off, then put one washer on the bolt and tighten it back up just like you found it.  I went about 3/4 turn past hand tight.

Repeat for the other wheel.

To test, get in the car, drive it out and stop.  Turn the wheel all the way to one side.  If you rubbed, you need more washers.   Repeat for the other wheel.

This took me 5 minutes to put the oil on.  I let it soak overnight, then finished the job the next day in under 15 minutes.

With one washer, I have no rubbing at all.  Even when hitting that speed bump out on NE 7th Avenue at the speed limit, or turning into a parking lot.  You may need more depending on how badly your springs have sagged.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some Random Helpful Hints

I found this file sitting around on the computer when I was going back and forth between machines the other day.  I had forgotten about some of these, hopefully they can help you too.

How many of these did YOU know about? 

  A sealed envelope - Put in the freezer for a few hours, then slide a   knife under the flap. The envelope can then be resealed.   (hmmmmmm..)
  Use Empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them  neat  and  you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to.
  For icy door steps in freezing temperatures: get warm water and put Dawn dish washing liquid in it. Pour it all over the steps. They won't  refreeze. (wish I had known this for the last 40 years!)
  To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put it in the freezer for a few hours. Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down. The wax will  fall out.
  Crayon marks on walls? This worked wonderfully! A damp rag, dipped in baking  soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).
  Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt BLUE!) rubbing alcohol on paper towel.
  Whenever I purchase a box of S.O.S Pads, I immediately take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. After years of having to throw away rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would  be  much  more economical. Now a box of S.O.S  pads last me indefinitely! In fact, I  have noticed that the scissors get 'sharpened' this way!
  Blood stains on clothes?  Not to worry!  Just pour a little hydrogen peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood.   Works every time!  (Now, where to put the body?)    LOL
   Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for  inside  windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks.  Straight vinegar  will get outside windows really clean.  Don't wash windows
 on a sunny day.  They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.
  Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely light scent in each room when the light  is turned on.
  Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will smell freshly washed for weeks to come. You can also do this with towels and linen.
  Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer for at least 3 hours prior to burning .
  To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers. Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your artificial flowers looking like new! Works like a charm! Corn meal works too.
  To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet, simply add a drop or two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to a boil on stove top. No soap if cast iron. =======================================
Spray your TUPPERWARE with nonstick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won't be any stains.
  Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.
  When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness
  Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your forehead.   The throbbing will go away.
  Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for  future use  in casseroles and sauces .  Left over wine? What's that? :)
  To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.
  Ants, ants, ants everywhere . Well, they are said to never cross a chalk  line. So, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.
  Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine.
  When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, and then  pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.
  Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer..... .  Clean a toilet.
 Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush.
 The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China .
Clean a vase.
 To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.
  Polish jewelry.
 Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry  for two minutes.
  Clean a thermos bottle.
  Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).
  Unclog a drain.
  Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain  followed by a cup of  Heinz White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, and then run the hot water.

That's it, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Keeping Your Snacking Secret from the Border Collie

How can you resist those eyes?

In order for me to eat in peace, I have to.

You see I have this constant companion.  She's been through almost 9 years with me, and at 10 and a half, she's had two strokes and a couple of times was in fights with badly trained dogs.

Not her, the other dogs.  They got off leash while straining to attack anything else on four legs and came after her.   Lettie won.  I saw to that.

So pretty much anywhere I go, she goes.   Especially in the house, she's watching me.  If I get up to walk out of the room, there are mats strategically placed for her comfort where she'll plop down and watch what I'm doing.  If I'm quiet enough she will fall asleep and think all is well.

That is when I snack.

I have found that my 10 and a half year old dog's hearing isn't quite what it used to be.  I can get out of the chair, set the laptop down on the coffee table and walk to the kitchen without being heard.

Sometimes, not always.

When this happens and she wakes up, my little "Officer Dog" will do a "perimeter search".  She will literally scan the entire house until she finds me.  I have been able to get up and do my business and return to the chair and she has missed the episode not realizing that she slept through it.

I'll stand up and walk to the kitchen and grab that snack and if I am quick enough, the dog won't realize where I am.

The problem is that the Parrot is a snitch. 

Oscar, who I have had since 1986, will start to beg as well.  First it's a chatter.  Later it becomes a "clock ticking" of "Hello" that gradually gets louder until the dog is awake and realizes that something needs her attention.

I'll get arrested by Officer Dog after she's sent after me by the Snitch Parrot.

Sometimes it works and I give her some, but there is a better way.

This little 1200 Square Foot House has a tiny laundry room off of the kitchen.  I can just squeeze in there.  As big as I am at 6'4" (193 cm), my shoulders brush the walls, I just fit under the shelves, and it's quite "cozy" as the real estate brokers would say.   It is also one person in, one person out and if a second person tries to come in they won't fit.  The "floor space" that is left after the washer, dryer, shelves and assorted crap is literally narrower than my shoulders.

While Officer Dog is out doing her Perimeter Search, and Snitch Parrot is winding up his chattering, I have grabbed the banana.  Yes, I grabbed a banana and walked into the laundry and wolfed it down before I was spotted.

This morning the banana skin hit the trash bin, the lid slammed shut, and Officer Dog then appeared.  Snuffling around the trash bin she must have known what happened, but merely looked dogged in her determination to find just the last morsel that was not dropped on the floor.

That reminds me, I need to vacuum the kitchen.  The floor is almost as furry as I am.

So yes, instead of sharing, I'm sneak-feeding.  Standing inside the laundry room in front of the dryer is my preferred place.  I'm out of sight of the eagle eyed parrot, out of nose range of the determined Border Collie.  I've found my restaurant.  It is on top of the Dryer in a tiny little room next to the air conditioning air handler.

The more noise the better, it hides my criminal act of not paying one Officer Dog her cut of a bit of banana.

That reminds me, it's time for me to finish my breakfast and get that banana that I have been thinking about while writing this.  Sorry, you can't join me in there.  It's too small of a space.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Husband Store - Humor

This one has the Velma Seal Of Approval.

She's been sending me joke emails again and ok, I'll get flack about this one but hey ... enjoy!

The Husband Store

A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit the store ONLY ONCE !

There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch. You may choose any ma  from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with the housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!' Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spot the House at M.E. DePalma Park - Picture

After a week of house guest, and taking the camera all over town.  I settled in to look through my recent pictures and came across this one.

This is a view of the "pocket park" nearby called M.E. DePalma Park. 

It isn't so notable for the fact of what I'm showing here, but more for what I am not showing.  

The view is looking from NE 21st Street looking through the park toward the North.  It is parallel to NE 7th Avenue in Wilton Manors.  This neighborhood is what they would call "Thickly Settled".  I suspect Suburban or even Urban might be a good name for the development scheme in this little part of Wilton Manors.  The sliver of land that was turned into a natural garden by M.E. DePalma, Skip and all the rest is not all that large.  It is roughly the size of a small lot.  The reason why the City ended up with it was partly due to it's size.  Since it's smaller than normal, it was deemed unworthy of being built upon and ended up going fallow. 

With the excellent care that has been given it, the little park is beginning to fill in.  At the back of this park, you can just make out the roof line of the house behind it and the back wall of its Garage. 

Barely.  It's not so apparent until you look at the picture full size. 

That is the charm of the little park.  If you turn just the right way you can forget, maybe for a few seconds, that you are in the middle of the urban sprawl that is South Florida as you're being buzzed by flocks of Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies and treated to the acrobatics of the local dragonflies as they hunt for their daily meal of Mosquitoes.

Go get 'em Dragonflies!  I for one am tired of swatting the pests.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cargo Ships in the Port - Picture

Looking out on the opposite side of the bridge from yesterday's picture, you get to see a whole side of Fort Lauderdale you just don't expect from the tourist's brochures.

Beyond the Posh homes on the water, and the bars with rude themes that are there to separate the barely legal crowd from their money when they arrive, there's the other side of Fort Lauderdale.

Believe it or not, we actually do have industry here.  Fort Lauderdale is a major port of entry for Cruise Ships, and Container Shipping comes into the port.  The Port itself is a vast area that you can see from the bridge with large cruise ships that look like a skyscraper parked on the water, waiting for their inflow of the partiers and passengers to go to places in the warm tropical sun.  The container ships are there to send things on their way.  Since we have excellent rail access, we get full trains in and out of the port that go to points North.

Sure, you can lay on the sand and never see this side of the city, but you wouldn't have the entire story.  I used to do just that, and wondered how they could have these big ships just off shore where we were.  After all didn't they know that WE were here to enjoy the sand and sun? 

Ahh snowbirds.  You are such a confused lot.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A View From The Bridge - Picture

When a bridge opening is inevitable...

relax and enjoy it.

We were heading to Kevin's office to do some partition moves.  I was supposed to be the muscle, which can be ironic, and had just come off of the Fort Lauderdale Beach and A1A. 

Heading up the bridge, simultaneously, we both said "Oh CRAP!" as we saw the lights begin to flash.  We were the first car on the bridge to be stopped. 

So instead of cursing the bridge for opening, I decided to get out of the car.  

Saying "I can be a tourist too", I walked over to the edge of the bridge.   Since the railing is in the way, I had to stand up against it, stretch my arms up high, and then tilt the camera just so.   As you can see in the original, it looks like the world is going down hill to the right.

Laughing at myself, I decided to see how well I could fix the picture.   If you look closely at the mast on the left center, you'll see some pixelation of the long mast.  The other thing is I didn't know that Fort Lauderdale had leaning office buildings.

*sigh* well you just can't fix them all in photoshop can you?

At any rate, the intracoastal is a pretty place to take shots, especially if you have a level place to park a tripod.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Avoiding the Parrot Zone

Living in a house with a dog and a parrot will cause for some interesting situations. 

If the dog doesn't like something, she has free rein of the house.  She'll leave.

The parrot for the most part lives in a cage.  It's around a meter/yard square, 2/3 of that wide.  When I am through my morning routine, I let him out and he then has room to roam.

Thing is that while I am doing my routine, I usually have some music on in the background. 

Having a stereo with lots of speakers, oodles of watts to power them, and being in a fully detached house allows me the freedom to turn the music up if there is something choice on the radio.

Within Reason.

You see, having that stereo equipment is somewhat overkill.

Having a large stereo that pumps out booms of bass, much mid-range, and terrific treble is difficult to use.   I call it the "Lamborghini school of Music Appreciation".   I've heard driving a Lamborghini down any road is like having every teen with Mom's big block V8 trying to race you.  You know you could blow them away, they know you could blow them away, so why bother?

In my case, the Lamborghini is the Parrot, and I'm driving my old Honda Accord. 

The 1.6 Litre Engine simply can't beat that V12.

There is a certain level of sound after being obtained in the house, the Parrot joins in for Accompaniment.

For the most part, Oscar, My Orange Wing Amazon Parrot is quiet.  He'll chatter along with certain things like the popcorn popper that I use for roasting coffee most mornings, the vacuum cleaner or other things.  They're loud, I don't even like being in the same room with them and My Lettie has run off to the bedroom to hide.

Oscar at this point shows his other side.  His nickname at this point becomes "Chaos The Bird" and he starts getting loud.

Have you ever tried to out shout a parrot?   I don't recommend it.

So this morning, I was listening to a new music feed that I had found.  Beautiful crisp 256K MP3 stream from Shoutcast playing some Disco music.  I heard one song that I have liked, and realizing that it was the "Disco Version" (what else?) I proceeded to turn the volume up.


Yes, Love in C Minor, by Cerrone.   One of those songs that are my Kryptonite.

I had on my noise cancelling headphones, and before the song kicked in, I was thinking how silent the house was.  Nothing at all in the background from that annoying bird outside the window, or the FEC railroad a half a mile away.


And then Cerrone's girls started talking about a banana.   The version in the link above is the "radio" mix, you won't have any banana there, you'll have to find the long version yourself.  Enjoy, it's a beautiful work of Popular Music that is still played in dance clubs everywhere in the world.

By the time I had heard the first bass notes in the beginning, I was watching the on screen display go from 3 to 14 for the volume, and then moved onto the copy of Winamp that was streaming the song in crisp crystal clear sound go from yellow 50% to red at 100%.

Things slowed down as the heart rate went up and my head bobbed to the music.

Around 7 minutes (out of 14 or so) I realized I was doing something I simply couldn't do.  Beat the Lamborghini.

I had the volume much louder than I usually listen to music, and realized that I didn't really need the extra volume since it was so clean.  My refurbished Sony noise cancelling headphones that I got for $17 were much cleaner than those giant pieces of furniture that sit against the opposing wall under the cable box and the shortwave radio.

No Parrot Accompaniment Allowed.

I'm sure that the next door neighbors are happy too that I have those "cans" on my ears because the Parrot Zone can be jarring.

We go through this when listening to the TV or Radio in this house.   Play music too loud, have a commercial come on, and Oscar joins in.  Not a chatter so much as a sound like a tire being punished on an asphalt road under heavy breaking.

Not. Melodic. At. All.

Even the annoyance of a shrieking parrot can serve a beneficial purpose.   He's saving my hearing.   We keep volumes low because if we don't we're told by that green and orange bird that it's time to behave.  I've learned that with the noise canceling headphones, I can get by with less volume from the iPod or Laptop as well, so my hearing is better for it.

In fact, I find that others are having problems hearing what I can hear as a result.   Oh sure, those days I spent in a dance club without the hearing protection that I am known for will come back and haunt me, but for now, I've got some disco to listen to...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shells on a Post - Picture

These little things are everywhere.  I'm also taking this picture in close up.  They are small, around the size of the nail on your smallest finger.

When I say they're everywhere, they literally are stuck to things all over the place.   If you leave something outside long enough in the right spot, one of these snails will climb up and anchor itself on it.

I have no idea what they're called, or what they're doing there, but this caught my eye.   This particular post is the beam holding up the neighbor's mail box.  It sits in full sun, and I'm looking at it from the Northwest, roughly. 

I've even found one or two stuck to the side of my tires on the Jeep, but they didn't last long.

This particular post caught my eye when I was walking back to the house after running some errand that early evening.  I have the good fortune to have two folks across the street who I can consider friends.  I did joke that night to one of them that I wanted to get a picture of their new pets and pointed to the post.

Better to have outdoor wildlife than to bring them inside, and more people can enjoy them that way.

I've stepped on them as they made it across the yard in the dark, and have found the shells emptied on the pavement after they crunched under foot.  I guess it's better than those Apple Snails we've got all over the place.  I see those at night after a rain and start thinking about French Cooking and how much garlic it would take to turn one into Escargot, then realize that it might be best to stick with store bought food. 

After all, I know the dog that waters the yard.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5AM Border Collie Weigh In

After the drama of the stroke and the recovery my Border Collie Lettie is still showing me that she's thinking.

Mind you, at 10 years old, she's showing her age.

This morning, I woke up at 5AM.  I've been getting to be a light sleeper as time goes on, and the years of my racing on inline skates in Philadelphia, I grew used to getting up early.  I normally get up at 6AM regardless of whether I need to or not.  5AM would be a nature call or some bird in the bougainvillea outside the bedroom window greeting the dawn a little early.

Today there was no reason.

After a little time of laying there thinking about the clock ticking in the living room, the air conditioning compressor kicking on and off, I realized that going back to sleep for the next 45 minutes just made no sense.  I rolled over and grabbed my socks from the floor. 

Meanwhile Lettie was running a marathon in her sleep.   I wonder if dogs get any aerobic activity from all that sleep-running?

I didn't think so either. 

I was able to get my socks on and into the bathroom before Lettie woke up.  Yes, her hearing is starting to go.  She's getting "Selectively Deaf".  I can call her and get ignored, but having her in the kitchen watching over me while I cook proves that it is only "Selective".  You see the other day, she was in there next to the refrigerator watching over us when the refrigerator disgorged another block of ice cubes into the tray.

Lettie wagged her tail at the refrigerator.

Pavlov, I have another dog for you to test...

The other explanation is that the Thinking Dog listened to what you were saying, understood it, and decided you really didn't need her help on all of this so you can go do it yourself.   Or something like that...

After leaving the bathroom, I was confronted with a happy Border Collie wagging her tail and following me back into the bedroom.  Both of us were somewhat sleepy but I think she was more awake than I was.

Being "typical" I have an order I do things.  Every morning, I do certain things at certain times, and they're all in certain order.   People are creatures of habit and I'm not any different from anyone else. 

Walking into the bedroom, the next thing on the list would be to step on the scale I have in the corner.  I watch my weight.  It's been stable, but slowly inching upwards with all the civic events that I'm a part of here.  After all, an extra 100 calories a day for a month and you're magically a pound heavier.

I've managed to lose 6 pounds without any real effort, so I want to watch the progress.

On the other hand, Lettie was watching it too.   Since she was in the room first she was wagging her tail and wanted to get a little attention, or be creative and entertaining, or any other order of the day.  Border Collies being incredibly intelligent also have a sense of humor.   Her stuffed cat is now on top of the coffee table and one of the many stray tennis balls that are in the house is next to her as she rests on her mat - that she has moved in front of my bouncy poang chair as if to say, it's mine now.

So before I could get onto the scale, Lettie stepped onto it and looked up at me as if to say "does this fur make me look fat?".

It didn't, she's still 46 pounds.

We got used to weighing her during the stroke and she had lost 5 pounds, recovering 4 of them and is where she should be.

I guess we all should watch our weight, even our Best Friends.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Importance Of Walking - Humor

I can't take credit for this one either.   It comes from our own Diane here in Wilton Manors. 

The Importance of Walking

Walking can add minutes to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $7000 per month.

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

The only reason I would take up walking is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing..

I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.

Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

The advantage of exercising every day is so when you die, they'll say, 'Well, she looks good doesn't she.'

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years,...... just getting over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

"Every time I start thinking too much about how I look, I just find a Happy Hour and by the time I leave, "I look just fine."

Monday, April 11, 2011 Redesign - User Interface

More of all of this Web User Experience and User Interface "stuff" coming.  On the other hand, it's a shorter article and there are pictures to illustrate what I'm banging on about.  It's shorter because they fixed most of what I found wrong with it.

Over the last week, decided to do some changes to their site.  The last discussion was on Friday and you can read it here.  There was a redesign to the search that made it less useful.  On the other hand, after taking another look at it, they decided to reverse most if not all of the changes.

It made it better.  Well to be fair, it made it better for me to use, and hopefully for others.   It is now much more useful and much more useable.  What I have now are more on the line of Suggestions than major problems.

Think of it as a "Design Concern" than a "Full Stop".

Any time you are going to write a web page, or web site you have to make some decisions, whether or not you realize you are going to do so.  You are setting your boundaries.  One major boundary is what size of a page will you be writing for.  There are a lot of people running around with little netbooks.   If they were pink, I would call them "Barbie's Computer" because they look like a little thing that hasn't grown up yet.  I am assuming that this is as small of a screen you will write for, because when I write for my own clients, I use that width.

I call this "One K Mode" because it is 1024 pixels wide. In my case, the page I'm looking at has drifted to a wider page because I have a wider monitor, but when I develop I develop for 1024 as my standard width.

I promise I won't get "too deep" here for my non technical users.  Consider this as a "standard" width.  Anything more gets into numbers that are more like what you see when you are shopping for a TV.  Since most people have a computer to do serious work that are this size or larger, this is your benchmark.

Dice.Com "Detail" search results
Dice has a page with three panes.  A Left Control Panel, the search results in the middle, and the Right Control Panel.

Suggestion one - Merge the Right Control Panel onto the bottom of the Left Control Panel.
Reason - it gives you more room to grow for the search results.
Why should you care?  Because the individual fields displayed are variable in width and you end up with weird truncation if the field has a lot to show.

Suggestion two - For Summary, limit each column in the center pane for the search results to one line.
Reason - It allows the web page to pack more results onto one vertical page.
Why should you care? Because more results on one page increases ease of use for the person looking at the results and makes one more likely to return.

Suggestion three - Consider reducing the white space.
Reason - It allows for more pertinent results and information displayed to the user at one shot.
Why should you care?   More results are easier to manage just like in suggestion two. "Summary" search results
Suggestion four - if you are going to truncate a long description, if you really feel it is necessary in the summary, go ahead and add an ellipsis to the end (the three dots)
Reason - we are used to seeing those three dots in Windows Explorer or Mac OSX Finder.  It is comfortable and useful.
Why Should you care?  It's really just a nice to have.  I'd lop it off at an arbitrary useful length but definitely not go on to a second line.

The ironic thing is that has just done the same thing that did back on April Fools Day.  I'm still working my way through recreating my links and my sorts.  The problem is that with, I can't really easily work with their sorts. is head and shoulders above what Monster has done for usability, and in 10 days went from a horrendous mess to something that's pretty close to where I'd want it to be.

Obviously I am a demanding user.  I'm also stubborn enough to make something work for me by fiddling around with it.   I have to, just like many other folks who are using their services because they are in the job market.  I just am the kind of guy who won't sit back and complain to myself, I'll do it here if I find something wrong or if it is right I'll praise it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Don't Mess With Senior Citizens - Humor

This one comes from Kevin.  I found that I had saved it in my email account, and since it's time to clear that out a bit, I'm going to share this with you.

An elderly lady decided to give herself a big treat for her significant birthday by staying overnight in one of Chicago 's most expensive hotel.

When she checked out next morning, the desk clerk handed her a bill for $250.00.

She exploded and demanded to know why the charge was so high. "It's a nice hotel but the rooms certainly aren't worth $250.00 for just an overnight stop without even breakfast." 

The clerk told her that $250.00 is the 'standard rate' so she  insisted on speaking to the Manager.

The Manager appeared and forewarned by the desk clerk announced: "the hotel has an Olympic-sized pool and a huge conference center which are available for use." 
'But I didn't use them," she said. 
''Well, they are here, and you could have," explained the Manager.

He went on to explain that she could also have seen one of the in-hotel shows for which the hotel is famous. "We have the best entertainers from New York , Los Angeles , and Las Vegas performing here," the Manager said.

"But I didn't go to any of those shows," she said.
Well, we have them, and you could have," the Manager replied.
No matter what amenity the Manager mentioned, she replied, "But I didn't use it!"

The Manager was unmoved, so she decided to pay, wrote a check and gave it to the Manager. 

The Manager was surprised when he looked at the check.  " But madam, this check is only made out for $50.00." '

'That's correct. I charged you $200.00 for sleeping with me," she replied.
"But I didn't!" exclaims the very surprised Manager.
"Well, too bad, I was here, and you could have."   

 Don't mess with Senior Citizens

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Married Four Times - Humor

After all that web development stuff with Dice (There's another article I have planned for Monday), I needed something a little lighter.

Velma sent me this joke Email to share with you. Consider it the "Velma Mark of Quality for Humor"!

Married Four Times

The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time. The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation. "He's a funeral director," she answered.
"Interesting," the newsman thought.

He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living. She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.

After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her early 20's, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40's, and a preacher when in her 60's, and now in her 80's, a funeral director.

The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.

She smiled and explained, "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."

(Oh, just hush-up and laugh).

Friday, April 8, 2011 Redesign - Getting Better

On April Fools day, showed the world their then latest search page redesign.  I didn't like it.  At all.  You can read about all of the changes here.  In the intervening week, someone, actually two people in Urbandale, Iowa hit my blog and read the article.  There were more hits in the last few days.  So I know that Dice is listening and for the most part agreed for now.  After all this is whining I am doing considered "real" work.  It's called "User Interface/User Experience" and that's going on my resume since this is the third time that I've had an effect on a website because of a blog article I wrote.

Not tooting my own horn, but hey if you've got it, flaunt it, right?

The picture that you see here is the result of an advanced search on this morning.   I logged into with my email address, clicked the advanced search link, went to the boxes and typed the following:

Keywords:  Project Manager
Location Options Zip Code: 33301 (for Wilton Manors, Florida) and Include Jobs within: 20 miles.

I really don't want to spend my life on I-95 behind the wheel of my Jeep cursing at someone with a 10 year old Camry driving 45 mph in the fast lane with a Haiti sticker on the back. Been there, done that, started taking the back roads as a result like all the locals and found I can get to Pompano Beach faster on Powerline than on the interstate....

Exclude:  Entire Job Detail the word "Sales"

(If I were a salesman I wouldn't be doing this at almost 8AM)

Job posted was 2 days
Results Displayed: 50

Two comments so far...
1) this could be because of Firefox or that I'm not awake but the Zip Code Field did not clear when I typed the first 3 in it.

2) Results Displayed.   I'm in a Major Metropolitan Area.  I want either "1000" or "all".  My results on this search should be around 500 jobs.  It was in the other search that I did... on the other hand it only returned 32 jobs.

Ok, so what did I do wrong?  I know that in this area there are more people looking to hire now than there were six months ago.  Went back into the advanced search and removed from the "Exclude" box the word "Sales" and amazingly I got 3644 positions... Hmmmmm Not Quite Right.

After playing around it turns out that it was the zip code and distance that was holding me back.  Going from 3644 jobs to 15 was ... jarring.  This is all a part of getting the search "just right", and takes some time to finesse the website and the data so it's "Perfect".   It may actually be completely correct since I tend to aggregate my Project Manager search with other things that are similar.  My Mileage Did Vary.

Assuming that I want to look for every position that Dice knows about for Project Manager in the US, excluding "sales" anywhere in the body, it goes down to 3080 positions.   Clearly I have work to refine this query.  I have no problem with this ... or do I.

I still want my "All" but realistically since I do this every day, I don't want to look at 3080 positions.  My biggest Dice Search today yielded the picture you see above.  Ok, so it's from yesterday afternoon, but it does have 491 positions.

The point I am making is that I should be able to save the search as is and as a link, and have it remain.   I can do both, but if I do by the web page, I have to save each page as a link.   With 491 positions, I will have to save 10 pages plus 1 for "growth".  That is how I work Careerbuilder - I couldn't figure out how to break that one up properly using an "All".   The time for "All" is when you are happy with the breadth of your result and want to save your search.  I just drag the link into my bookmarks for "Open All In Tabs" and have all my searches open up semi-automatically.

Leaving "All" alone for now, there's a problem that I spotted with the search results.  This is why I said it's "Getting Better", you can't re-sort everything on the page.   While I can sort by Location or Date, I should be able to further break down the search by saying "everything in Fort Lauderdale".  That will exclude the neighboring cities of Wilton Manors or Oakland Park, but this would be a "Special Search".  I guess it isn't a major problem since I can specify it in the Advanced Search instead of a zip code.  The point is that it seems missing - more of an annoyance than a must have.

I still want my "All" though... or "1000".

The nice thing is that Dice does put this long string in your Address Bar that you can save.   Most websites that use Ajax technologies (Don't worry I won't geek out on you here non technical readers) wipe out the URL web address and replace it with that of the home page.  Here it would be and you'd be forced to use the RSS reader to do what I'm doing.  Not a good idea since the RSS readers are meant to be simple, and I haven't found an easy way to configure that whole kettle of fish.

Make mine with chips and a side of Guinness please.

So for now, and for the last couple years, Dice has been easy to use that way... and I hit it within my 160 pages that I load daily and 320 on the weekend.

For now, I won't give instructions on how to reconfigure (or hack) the resulting URL.  I think that with what you have here, you can get your results configured how you like.   Even configured how *I* Like, and I'll admit I'm a demanding user.

On the other hand there are some issues with how the display of the data is done, and this posting has gone on for 1038 words.   Check back Monday for more.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Catfish Vinho d'alhos - Recipe

Back in the 90s I made it to Provincetown. 

There, on Commercial Street, in the center of town is a restaurant where the Townies go.   The Mayflower Restaurant, a somewhat nondescript place, was a restaurant that would have fit in any other small town anywhere else in small town America. 

I've been in VFWs that served as the town meeting place and restaurant in Iowa and other places and they all looked fairly similar.  Rows of tables, old paneling that somehow looked "Classic" instead of merely "old", a noisy kitchen you could see into if you were positioned Just So, and a waitstaff that knew just what you wanted if you were smart enough to listen and let them actually serve you.

If you ever make it to the Cape, go there.   I have heard that they don't have this dish on the menu any more because only the Townies would get it.  It's a shame for us out of towners because this particular recipe is why I fell in love with Catfish.

This isn't "exactly" the recipe, this is one I found when I searched for The Recipe.  Somewhere buried in the cookbooks here is a large print copy of that original recipe.  It was told to me by the waiter there that first visit that I found they took it off the menu but "We'll bring a plate just for you".   We memorized the recipe by walking down the street chanting the ingredients, stormed into the guest house, and demanded paper and pen to write it down.   I got back home and typed it into a document that is long lost...

But today I made this recipe.  It may not be The Recipe, but it was very close and left me thinking, if it would make a mild fish like Catfish taste special, it would work on many other meats and tofu as well.  

Yes, Vegan Catfish.  What a concept.

Anyway, here is the deal, today I made the fish by marinading it overnight in the mix, then pan frying it.   I cooked two filets (to perfection, I might add), by dredging it through some flour and "Italian Seasoning" in a 3 to 1 mixture.  I used no oil, cooked the fish in a non stick skillet on medium heat with a single pat of butter until the filet flaked. 

If you want to try, this recipe originally came from the Provincetown Portuguese cookbook.  Thank you Joyce Perry Strong for sharing it with them and me.  You made my lunch memorable...

This recipe works for 12 filets.  I cut it down by 1/2 to 6 filets or 2 pounds of fish.  Just reduce everything by 1/2.... I made mine today after marinading it for 12 hours and not two days.  I also used a ziploc bag to marinade in since it made life easier to store and stir.

1-16 oz. bottle of cider vinegar
1 cup pickling spices
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 tbsp. onion powder
1 cup water
2 tbsp. saffron or turmeric
4 lbs. catfish, skinned, filleted and cut into pieces
Vegetable oil for frying the fish

Mix all the vinegar, pickling spices, garlic, onion powder, water and saffron in a bowl and add the fish. Refrigerate, stirring once a day for at least two days so the fish will marinate evenly. Remove from the bowl and drain on paper towels to remove any spices left on the fish. Toss each piece of fish in flour and deep fry in 2 cups of oil until golden brown on each side. Drain.

Serves 12.