Look South

Life

I brake for stupidity

Synthesizer hard case

It’s 1991 and I am walking from my apartment at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) to the little music studio under the football stands. I say walking. It really isn’t. I probably look like Quasimodo as I lumber about with a 50-pound particle-board case. It is weighed down with — in order — glue, wood chips, felt, and a synthesizer. It’s spring in Rexburg so the weather is a balmy 40 something degrees. The winter ice is mostly melted from the roads, except where the cars park. Shade from the vehicles keep the ice pristine and very slick. Even from this distance — as I amble slowly forward — I see a car in the football parking lot struggling to break free.

Save your tapes, now!

Discarded VHS tapes

Magnet tape is dying by the dumpster-full.

Rob Pierce / Flickr

Humanity has a lot of memories on tape. Video tape. Cassette tape. Even reel-to-reel tape. And there is one thing for certain, they are not going to last. Whatever your treasure, you should work to save it, now!

Ghost in the Mac Mini

Glowing Apple Logo

How a Mac Mini with parental controls gave my family the scare of our lives.

orwellianrob/flickr

In the wee hours of the morning while everyone is fast asleep, the quiet is broken by a deep, booming male voice. It reverberates in my subconscious. I wake and check the house. Nothing. I could have sworn I heard someone talking. Everything is quiet. I’m so tired I immediately fall back to sleep.

The voice penetrates my subconscious again. I stand up, blearily walking the halls. Nothing. Again. Still tired. Back to bed.

Then it comes a third time. More insistent. Urgent even. I shoot straight up, wide awake, ready for anything. I hear the voice clearly as it begins an ominous countdown. 10, 9….

Tips for managing your money

Managing money is challenging and important. Banks and credit card companies earn their fortunes from people who don’t understand where there money goes. Bank fees and high interest rates are much easier to avoid if you understand exactly where you are spending money. Here are some tips from hard won lessons in managing money.

The voices in my head speak English

I have two pet peeves about voicemail systems. Scratch that. I have about a hundred pet peeves but I just want to point out two. The first is why am I asked to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish?

Our cover is blown

For several years, Loy and I have worked under the company name of Apped Design. It was a cover name Loy came up with when we attended the first Mountain West Ruby Conference in 2007. The Neotribune was on the back burner and we were working on a couple of Ruby on Rails projects. We decided that it would be easier to go as independent consultants than try to explain a long, convoluted startup story no would be interested in anyway.

You never save money when you spend

I was sightseeing around San Francisco one very rainy day. It was 1990 and I wanted a CD player. I was also broke. CD players were still rather expensive. So I’d been shopping around for a while. I knew the prices, but they were just barely out of my reach. So I was biding my time, checking every electronics store I saw.

That day, as I wandered around downtown, I found a small shop at the base of a skyscraper. It had a window front on the street with electronics from top to bottom. Inside, it was packed. I’ve never seen so many electronics in such a small space. It felt like a sardine can of circuits, chrome and black plastic.

I made my way over to the CD players and found the exact portable CD player I wanted to buy.

Get your credit report every four months — for free

Having a current copy of your credit record is vital to protect yourself from credit errors and identity theft. And, thanks to Congress, getting a copy is extremely easy. By law, everyone is allowed to download an annual copy of their report. But be warned. The websites advertised on TV offering free credit reports are not the right place to go. The correct website is annualcreditreport.com.

Quit typing like a spider

Dvorak keyboard layout

The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout

DVzine

In 1994 I took a Sharpie and wrote out the alphabet on my computer keyboard. Then I took little pieces of clear tape and carefully covered each key to keep from rubbing off the newly written letters. Why would I do this? Because my hands were starting to hurt and I needed a better way to type. Dvorak was the key. Not the columnist but the researcher who created the world’s greatest keyboard layoutAugust Dvorak.

A wet rag fixes the garage door

Our garage door wouldn’t close. We’d hit the button, it would start closing, then stop, then roll the door back the little bit it had moved down, and the light on the opener would flash 10 times. I think it was trying to say something. After careful research over the next few weeks, a lot of thought, and a clean wet rag — we fixed it.

Conflict

Conflict. It is the heart and soul of reality television — of all television, really. Without conflict there is no story, no ratings, and no show. Take Survivor (please?). In real life, if 12 random strangers were stranded on a deserted island, would they plot against each other? I doubt it. They would need to learn to get along, to work together, or else they would die.

To make a television show, you would need to find personalities that thrive on conflict, have extremely differing opinions, and then create an artificial situation where backstabbing is required to win. Now you have a prime-time show. That’s what counts as good television in the 21st century.