Microsoft Store Customer Support Is Awful

14482 hours 4 minutes 48 seconds. This is the amount of time I have now waited for the Microsoft Store to contact me regarding the $2600 order I placed on their online store. The one in which there are recorded chat logs of their service representatives unequivocally lying to me, several times, resulting in my purchase being cancelled and then delayed by several months.  I have read many stories online where others are having the same issues. This is status quo for the Microsoft Store.

In dealing with their antics, I had multiple service representatives tell me they would “personally” be contacting me with information and solutions to the errors they had made. Last I heard, my issue had been “escalated to a higher department” and they would be contacting me within 24 hours. The timer at the top of this page is how long I have now waited, patiently.

Continue reading Microsoft Store Customer Support Is Awful

Aww yeah, thanks Nest!

So after my silly Garage Heist dropcam video gained moderate popularity, the fine people at Nest Labs decided to send me some free stuff! Everything I will need to thwart future heists.

The card puts it over the top. This really put a smile on my face today.

Shadow

Shadow passed away last night at the age of 13.5. She really was a great friend. She was incredibly energetic, always showing off her toys, always looking to play a game. Whether the game be catch, or tug of war, or simply trying to avoid being fooled… “Who’s here!? Go see!”… she always loved to play. And yet she was so caring and emotional. If I were upset, she’d come nestle her head under my arms looking for a smile. When I came home from a semester of university, she’d ignore me for a few hours as her way of saying “Why the hell were you gone so long?”  My family has a lot of great memories with Shadow and all of her funny quirks. One of my favorite memories with her was going down to the river bottom.

Shadow’s all-time favorite place to go was the river. It was her Disney Land.

 

Her favorite thing to do at the river was play fetch with rocks. You could tell she considered herself a pro. She’d eagerly await a pebble thrown her way from the shore so she could show off her skills.

 

The pebble was too small for her to see sometimes, but once she heard the sploosh as it struck the water, she’d take off for it, sloshing through the knee-deep water.

 

Arriving at the drop zone, she’d start feeling around for the right rock. Sometimes it would take her several minutes as she sorted through all the rocks with her little paws, but she knew exactly what she was looking for.

 

Once she found it, she’d drop her head in for a final visual inspection and retrieval.

 

And then she’d erupt with the biggest boulder her mouth could possibly fit.

 

She’d carry it around for three or four paces just to show how awesome she is, then plunk it back into the water. It was very important to her that you immediately threw another rock for her to find, otherwise she would freak out. “THROW A ROCK I CAN’T WAIT ALL DAY.” (She took lessons from my dad.)

 

Pebble after pebble, she’d pull up the biggest rocks she could find.

 

Because little rocks are for sissies.

 

And Shadow was awesome.

 

 

 

But really, she just loved playing in the river.

 

When it was time to go, she’d downright refuse to get out until we were practically driving away.

 

Eventually she’d force herself to come out.

 

And as we drove away in the truck she looked incredibly sad.

 

But I know she had great memories of the river. And great memories of her life. I’ll always have great memories of you, Shadow.

 

Vegas!

I was in Las Vegas last week with my dad and sister. My dad took me there as part of a graduation present for completing my Electrical Engineering undergrad degree this April. We had a ton of fun. Seen a lot of things. Bought a lot of stuff.

Obligatory picture of Las Vegas sign.

Monday – May 1
Arrived in Vegas. Went to The Strip. Seen Mystère, a Cirque du Soleil show at the Treasure Island Hotel. As expected, that was incredible. Did not understand the story at all.

The view from our room in the Rio hotel. Pretty clear side view of the Strip.

Tuesday – May 2
Went shopping at the South Las Vegas Premium Outlet Mall – my dad bought me a suit from Van Heusen and I bought some new golf attire from the Nike store. Ate at the largest buffet in Vegas (which was in the Rio). Went to Penn and Teller illusion/comedy show – both my dad and I were called on stage on separate occasions! After the show, my sister and I went up to the Voodoo rooftop nightclub on the 51st floor of the Rio; coincidentally there was a huge group of Albertan’s there.

Me and my sister at the largest buffet in Vegas. I'm om-nomming some crab legs.
Getting our picture with Teller. The paper is the punchline to a joke used in the skit with my dad.
And a picture with Penn.

Wednesday – May 3
Went on an all day bus tour to the Grand Canyon. Our bus driver, Mike, made the 3.5 hour drive to the canyon a blast; he was hilarious the whole way. Checked out Hoover Dam. Went on the Skywalk. The Grand Canyon was amazing. The Skywalk, however, was just silly. I heard it was a 4000 ft vertical drop through the glass – turns out it’s between 500 to 800 ft. Felt like 50 with the glass as scratched as it was. Got back and went to the Strip again; can’t understate how incredibly massive and glamorous it is. I don’t normally like drinking, but I had a Havana and Banana colada from Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and that thing was tasty.

View of Hoover Dam from the new bypass bridge.
Me, lookin' good on the bridge.
Me, checkin' out the uhh... the canyons.

 

Back in Vegas on the Strip with my sister and some parrots.
A nice picture of the Strip that my sister took.

Thursday – May 4
Went shopping at the same outlet mall again – my dad bought a suit for himself. Later at night we went to Freemont street. It’s kinda neat with the roof being a gigantic screen. I put $20 into a slot machine and lost it. Felt bad. Watched my dad win in Blackjack. Felt good.

Freemont street.

Friday – May 5
Went shopping at the North Las Vegas Premium Outlet Mall. It was all outdoors – a very cool place actually. I ended up buying more golf apparel. Went to the Strip again. Afterwords my sister and I went to Absinthe, a small show at Caesars Palace. It was hysterically vulgar and featured impressive acrobatics. We got bumped up to front row seats which was awesome – one of the actresses gave me a little more than I was expecting…
Saturday – May 6
Started the long 18 hour drive back home. Got home on Sunday. What a great week.

Two clips of me failing

A few days ago I was recording myself golfing to analyze my swing technique. My uncle and I were the only two on the range (bad weather), and there was a course employee walking by, picking up the empty buckets. He stopped to wait for me to take my drive and I let off this rocket:

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKtPfYxAoH4

Today I decided to drive my nitro rc car to let out some frustration after watching the Bruins net 4 goals in 4m14s against the Canucks (Stanley Cup Final game 6). I wanted to see how fast my car was going so I set up 4 meters of tape measure and recorded the car driving past. I think I did it right:

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxLH54a3VE8

Boring…

I haven’t written anything in a long time, so here’s… something.

Exams wen’t pretty well; depressingly though, English 199 was my best grade. I took a week off after coming back to Lethbridge to relax, play some hockey, video games, fix peoples broken computers (because  knowing how to fix my own computer makes me super-pro at fixing other peoples computers…), fail hard at making a Seagate drive work in a Western Digital hard drive enclosure for my Wii, and play some tennis. Oh yea, and take some 4.5 hour safety training for my summer job.

Starting last Monday, I began working for an electrical contractor as an electrical apprentice – for experience, and because I am ‘good with my hands’ (that’s what she said). Currently, and presumably for most of the summer, I am working on a soon-to-be nursing home. So far all I have done is mount data trays; they are used to carry low voltage wires such as ethernet, cable, and telephone lines. Actually, for the most part, all I have been doing is fixing trays that were mounted in the wrong locations. I shouldn’t complain though, I imagine I’ll be pulling wire for a long time once these trays are done. Most of the electricians think engineers are assholes/idiots who don’t know how the real world works – I think maybe the electricians are following the blueprints a little too closely, although there may be some major design flaws, I really don’t know. I know when I create a plan for something, my plans always change a bit in the building process. Maybe that’s just because one day I will be an asshole engineer as well.

Yesterday was pretty fun; after a hard days work I went and played some street hockey with a bunch of friends. It was pretty intense; needless to say, my team dominated. Following that, we had a barbecue while watching the Flyers pull off the unbelievable: come back from 3-0 Boston series lead, and come back from a 3-0 Boston game 7  lead, to win both the game and series 4-3… Hollly crappp.

Here I am now, sore as hell from a week of hard labor polished off with 3 hours of street hockey.

The Garage

[I wrote the following descriptive essay for English 199 and received a decent grade, so I’m going to share it with whoever (aka no one)  wants to read it. Please criticize it in the comments if you do read it!]

The Garage

It’s a regular occurrence; I’m sitting at my desk when an idea pops into my head.  It’s something I can make, I’m sure of it. The idea could be anything: a picture frame for a photo nestled under some loose papers, a TV wall-mount to free up some precious desk space, or perhaps just a larger desk. Once the idea comes, I must attempt to create it. Without a second thought I head outside towards the garage.

Made of white cinder block and protected with steel bars on all of the windows, from the outside peering in, some may think the garage is a small prison. Even with a key, getting inside isn’t entirely effortless. Considerable force must be applied to the key in a full rotation, almost requiring a full-body effort. Sometimes I contemplate whether the key will finally snap as I hear the pins inside the lock reluctantly screech into position.  Surprisingly, after being unlocked, the heavy steel door gracefully opens to reveal the treasures inside. Tools, lots of tools, running wall to wall and rising ten feet high. The inside is still a bit dark until I flip the fluorescent lights on; they flicker quickly for a few seconds before going fully bright to expose dust particles glistening down from the ceiling. Usually there are tools scattered across the workbench alongside a project waiting to be finished. On the floor, sawdust, a seemingly useless scrap that is now absorbing a spill from the last oil change. At the far end of the garage where the lighting is dim lies the excess wood and steel from past projects. They are more scraps which will be given a purpose, eventually.

With a blueprint in mind, I head towards the scrap materials. I can usually find something that fits the build when I quickly scan through the pile. The roughly cut mahogany contrasts sharply against the black, slender lengths of steel. Occasionally what I need from the pile is simple, like a small block of walnut I used to make a pen holder, or a piece of oak I found to make a cane for my grandfather. Eagerly, I push and pull the material around. The cold metal shrills loudly against the bare concrete; meanwhile, dreary thuds from the large pieces of wood echo throughout the rest of the garage. When I have the material I am looking for in my hand, I have my next project. After a quick sketch in a curled notepad on the workbench, and jotting down some rough measurements along the way, it’s time to start building.

While I am woodworking, sawdust may muster bitterly under my breath as I tear through a length of oak. At any rate, when the dust settles, the air is flooded with the scent of an entire forest. The atmosphere is quite different when working with steel. Racing through a piece of flat iron with the angle grinder can leave a magnificent waterfall of sparks scattering off nearby walls like schooling fish in the ocean. Unfortunately, after a few hours of metal fabrication, my throat is dry, as if sandpaper has been rubbed across my larynx. The choking smoke rising from the welding torch is nauseating at best, but propping the door open in the summer months helps. Any amount of construction in the garage will take its toll on me; cuts, scrapes, or burns are inevitable, and yet, I hardly notice them while I work. As I move back and forth between work areas, I fall into a trance. I can fondly remember one of my first experiences in the garage. My father, being the father he is, decided to show me how to weld. I was four years old. I slid  the thick leather gloves on which extended up to my shoulders, and my father placed the loose fitting welding helmet on my head. The next thing I knew, I was poking the rod into a chunk of iron under his guidance. Despite all precautions, a large spark managed to travel down one of the gloves and burned my fingertip. It didn’t hurt. I was fairly impressed with myself, but my mother didn’t share the same feelings.

My thoughts are usually quite clear while I am in the garage. For the most part I am not thinking about the actual project at hand, rather the reaction I will get when it is done. That is what keeps me going, and pushes me to make it just right. Sometimes the project is difficult to make, and if I struggle to figure out a way to do it, my thoughts about anything else collapse. Once I begin to think about the project and nothing else, I get tired and frustrated. It’s time to take a break. Sometimes a few weeks go by before I even want to look at what I was working on, but I eventually do. It needs to be finished. Eventually I figure out what to do. The finishing touches are what takes the longest. I circle the shop floor, staring from different angles, trying to catch a blunder someone else might see. Regularly,  I claim the project to be finished, but then a few hours later my dad will walk in to find me re-sanding down a corner.

After countless hours, I am satisfied with what I have created. I stare upon it for some time. I made it, and the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. At last, I flick the lights off and head back towards the house under the moonlight, creation at hand.