December 2004 - Chris Ullrich dot net
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December 2004


According to this article, we are getting far too much information. Also, he says that we multi-task because it is expected of us, not because we can. In fact, true multi-tasking is apparently beyond our capabilities. Someone tell that to my wife, maybe she can finally relax.

In other news, we have returned home from the north. Oddly, it only rained a little bit while we were in Washington State and rained almost every day in LA while we were away. Explain that, Dallas Rains. Also, I am relieved that, upon returning to my favorite “office”, the Studio City Starbucks, they have stopped playing the Christmas music. Perhaps there is a God after all. He seemed to have listened to that one.

And, if you want to record music on your iPod and have it sound really good, the fine “hackers” at this website have figured out a way. Of course, I think this does violate your warranty so use caution.

Well, I just happened to look up and spied Allison Janney from “The West Wing” coming into my “office”. She is pretty tall and not only that, has her arm around a shorter dude wearing a baseball cap. Must be a Director. Or perhaps, an actor. They look cute together.


Before, after and a helping hand

Srilanka Kalutara Thumb1-1

Before and after photos of beachfront in Sri Lanka before and after the tsunami hit. Also, hi-res satellite images of the tsunami itself.

And, the good folks at Google offer links to ways in which you can aid relief efforts for tsunami victims in Asia and Southeast Asia.

Vacation Continued

I am still in good old Washington state with the wife’s family. I
will be back in Los Angeles in a day or two and will be back to posting
at my usual pace.

I just want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who read
this blog. It is nice to have people read what I have to say and some
of you even comment on it. I appreciate that as well (even the negative

Anyway, stay cool and I will see you all soon. Until then, let’s
think less about ourselves for the next few days and more about these people.

They could sure use our good thoughts.


Happy Holidays

I have left the building and traveled to the great white north with the wife to visit her family in Washington (State, not DC). It’s cold, but sadly, it is not snowing. When we were here a few years ago, we had snow for Christmas. For someone who grew up in SoCal, that was pretty cool. Maybe I will get lucky and see a few snowflakes. Fingers crossed.

Other than that, eating and drinking too much (it is the holidays). Taking a few pictures which I will post either at the moblog or somewhere (maybe flickr or my typepad moblog. i really have too many photo blogs).

I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas or Festivas or whatever holiday you celebrate. I hope you get everything you asked for and one or two things you didn’t expect (sometimes surprises are nice too).

Eat some pie for me.

My head hurts and I blame CitiBank

This could explain why my head hurts. Or maybe its just the booze or lack of sleep. Another reason could be that some asshole decided to use my ATM credit card at Bloomingdales this weekend and buy himself something pretty. To the tune of twelve-hundred bucks. (Reader beware, this is where the angry rant starts).

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, my bank’s response (CitiBank, btw) leaves something to be desired. CitiBank’s “policy” in cases like this is to “watch” the account and see what happens. In the meantime, they allow the charges to go through and some dickhead gets away with ripping me off. I always tell myself not to use my ATM card to make purchases and I don’t do it that often. Unfortunately, once was enough I guess.

Now my money is gone while CitiBank sits on their collective asses “watching” my account for suspicious activity. Hello, the “suspicious” activity already happened when the charges were made. I don’t know what they are waiting for. I didn’t make those charges but until they “investigate” they assume I did and just give my money away.

Here’s what their policy should be. If a customer calls and disputes a charge, that should be it. The charge should be frozen until the investigation is concluded. You don’t let the merchant take the money from a fraudulent transaction and wait and see what happens. I think Bloomingdales can wait another few days for the money.

They don’t protect their customers. Basically they are saying that they don’t believe me and its tough shit about my money until they get around to checking it out. I wouldn’t even care if they put a hold on the disputed amounts while they investigate. At least the money wouldn”t be gone

They are opening an investigation and sending me a letter that I have to fill out and send back within 10 business days in order for them to continue to investigate. A letter? WTF? Is this 1980 or something? This is the information age and I have to fill out a letter and mail it back to them so they will take my claims seriously?

What about the four phone calls I made until 3AMlast night? Doesn’t that show I’m serious. Or, how about an email to get things moving a little faster? The bottom line is that they just don’t give a shit and will do whatever they want.

I tell you right now, if this works out badly for me and I permanently loose the money, I am pulling all my accounts from CitiBank and encouraging everyone else I know to do the same. All they have to do is treat their customers like people instead of criminals and I would be happy.

Right now, I feel as if I did something wrong and the burden is on me to prove I am telling the truth. No benefit of the doubt. No consideration for their customers. The customer is wrong.

It’s wrong.

Monday thoughts

Yes, I have some thoughts. Although it isn’t so easy right now as I am pretty tired. I have been out of touch for the last few days working on my friend Tony’s movie. He is doing a horror film called “Asylum”. I haven’t been on a set in some time and haven’t had to work a 12-hour day in some time either. It’s a lot of work. But, I had fun too.

He is doing the movie for very little money so he really couldn’t afford to hire me but I wanted to help out. In my enthusiasm to help out, however, I forgot about the long days and bad food. Both take a toll on you, for sure. I’m just glad that the holidays are upon us and I am going on vacation tomorrow. I need to rest.

While I can manage, here’s a few bits of stuff from the world at large. Over at PC Magazine, they list the 10 worst products to get as gifts this year. I hope I didn’t get any of those for people, I forget. Also, this guy has balls (and is pretty lucky too). Easy way to get some money. Wish I would have thought of it.

Last, it seems that Dan Brown, author of the mega-bestseller “The DaVinci Code” is being sued. But really, if you get sued by some guy in New Zealand, is it really that bad? I hope it all works out and doesn’t hold up the movie version of the book. Tom Hanks could make an interesting lead. Although, I thought Russell Crowe would be better.

Life with the Sony Ericsson P910i


The saga continues. To reiterate, the P910i is a great device. It does it all: phone, decent camera (still only VGA but a vast improvement over my previous T610), video, web browser, works with ichat, AIM, Yahoo, MSN, email, calendar, contacts, reads word, pdf and excel files and a crap load more things. It has completely replaced my Palm and cell phone. For my purposes, it works as advertised and does the job with style. I purchased it unlocked from Avi at World Wireless in Beverly Hills. I use it with T-Mobile and have had no issues.

I have had more time to work with the phone and wanted to elaborate on my previous post. So, here goes. f I have any complaints its because i’m a Mac person. If I used Windows, I would have nothing to complain about (except Windows). The phone includes software for Windows which works perfectly to sync the phone with Outlook, install apps, etc. using the included usb cradle or bluetooth. If I didn’t have a Windows machine around, I would not be able to install any software as far as I can tell. Nor would I be able to update any of its software or the phone’s firmware using the Sony Ericsson update service. That’s a bummer but I can get around it.

As for iSync and bluetooth, it has been an interesting few days getting that to work. I was able to pair the phone just fine with my G5 and Belkin bluetooth adaptor. When it came to the services page, the only two things available were to use the phone with address book (good) and as a modem. Sadly, the option for sync was not available.

Undaunted, I launched iSync and looked for new devices. To my happiness, the P910i showed up and I was able to add it as a new device and then proceeded to sync it for the first time. It all worked perfectly. Contacts and calendars were carried over and the sync had no errors. I though that was it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Subsequent attempts proved unsuccessful unless I first paired the phone and the computer again to establish the relationship prior to using iSync. If I did that, it worked. If not, iSync gave an error that it could not communicate with the device. I even went to far as to try it with Tiger but met with similar results. I hope nobody at Apple is reading this as I might have just violated my NDA but if you are, how about an iSync update please? This should be an easy fix.

Even that workaround didn’t last though. It stopped working at all after a few more attempts so I looked around for another solution. No third-party software is available as of yet (at least that I know of) which will allow me to sync with iCal and Address Book. After much research, I found a couple of sites devoted to making the P900 work with iSync. Those hints and tips seem to have done the trick. Even though they apply to the P900 and in iSync it now says P900, it works fine. The work-around involves editing of a couple of plist files so it isn’t for the novice but after I did it, syncing worked again and has worked on subsequent attempts over the last week.

As for other practical considerations like reception quality or battery life I can say that I have never used a better phone here in LA. Calls go through and don’t get dropped. Some of the credit probably goes to T-Mobile but the phone performs well. I get reception where others, even fellow T-Mobile users, do not. So it has to be the hardware that is superior as well as the network. It is somewhat of a battery hog although I have never run out of power yet. I do plug it in to charge every night and also have a charger in the car, just in case.

So really, my only major problem with the device is how it works with iSync which isn’t the devices fault. Other than that problem, which now seems to be solved (at least for the moment) I love it. I do wish there was more software for it too, like for Palm, but I think that’s coming sooner rather than later as more devices start to use the Symbian OS.

As I continue to put it through its paces, I will post some more updates.

A Little Patience

John Perry Barlow trial. In his own words and another account.

And, here’s a really interesting quote, also highlighted on Barlow’s blog. This one was written quite a few years ago but has definite relevance today:

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt……If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”

— Thomas Jefferson, from a letter he sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act


The Death of AIDS?

Researchers at Rutgers University may have developed a way to kill HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS. Another article about this right here.

And, in other important news (not as important as a cure for HIV, mind you, but still) Google announced an agreement today with some of the nation’s leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.

And now some news

I have friends that make commercials for a living. Some of these same friends also happen to make iPod commercials for Apple. We all think its really great when someone goes out on their own and makes something cool.

Also, Sony’s PSP started shipping in Japan the other day and sold out fast. The first 200,000 units were gone in hours. Sony plans to ship three million by March. The portable gaming device sports console quality graphics and can also play movies and DVDs. It’s selling in Japan for 19,800 yen or about $188 US. 21 games will be ready before the end of this year. Sony will offer the PSP in North America sometime next spring. Anyone in Japan reading this who can pick me up one? Today. Thanks.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether P2P file sharing services like Kazaa and Grokster are liable for aiding copyright infringement. The court agreed to hear the music industry’s appeal of a Ninth Circuit court decision that Grokster and Streamcast were not liable because they didn’t exercise control over the music swapped using their service. At the end of this the only people who will have any money left will be the lawyers.

And, from the dumb crooks department. It seems a real-life crook in Texas was scared off from a home invasion by the sounds of “Grand Theft Auto”. The Police in the game were saying ‘Stop, we have you surrounded. This is the police.“ The burglar, unknowingly, thought this was the actual police and panicked,” according to the Galveston DA. Well, this guy sure must be some kind of genius. Where was he from again?

Lastly, be careful where you use your camera phone as Congress passed a bill that would levy heavy fines and prison time for anyone who sneaks photos or videos of people in various stages of undress. So my pictures of girls waiting in line at Starbucks are ok?