Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Things that Give Sober Men Pause

E-mail and the interweb are big sources of entertainment...and I’m not talking about cat videos, entertaining as those are. No, I mean the regular stuff that lands in my inbox or otherwise drifts across my monitor. Like what, you ask? Why, I just happen to have some examples!

First, another item for our Did Nobody Read This Before it Got Sent Out? category (previous entries may be found here, here, and here:

As you will not, even though the authors of this survey did not, all of their age categories overlap. It so happens that I am 54: do I chose 45-54. which includes my age, or 54-60,, includes my age? Even though I am a few days past the halfway mark to my next birthday, I decided to chose 45-54, as you see. But had someone taken two seconds to think about it, he or she would have edited out the overlaps.

Now here’s this handy “Helps and Hints” box from a student aid form that we filled out last weekend:

Ah, I see: When it asks for “student’s first name,” we must “enter the student’s first name.” My, that is helpful to know! But “Helps and Hints” doesn’t tell us what to do if we happened to have given our child a name that doesnt “contain only letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), periods (.), or blanks (spaces)”—you know, if we named our kids J@net or £loyd or something. Apparently “Helps and Hints” only take you so far.

The strangeness of Twitter—and the whole social networking arena—is practically without limit, but this notice that landed in my inbox a day or two ago is the most intriguing one I’ve seen in quite some time. And by “intriguing,” I of course mean “strange”:

So this very attractive young woman (if in fact it is a woman, or young. The person in the picture is both of those things, but you’ll have to take my word for it, and one has no way of knowing whether various profile photos are legit or scanned from a magazine) wants to meet “anyone in the Baltimore area,” even though she seems to live in Indianapolis. Huh. Well, she does say she’s new to “the area,” so maybe she just landed in Baltimore and hasn’t yet changed her profile to reflect that. Okay. But here’s the next puzzler: As of the day this arrived in my mailbox, she had posted a grand total of two, count ’em, two tweets...and yet she somehow has 107 followers! I get that there’s a whole contingent of Twitterers for whom the object of the game is to amass as many followers as possible, no matter what (quantity trumps quality, evidently), and that supposedly there is a bizarre etiquette (to which I do not subscribe: see here) that says if someone follows you you are honor bound to follow back. But why would I be the least bit interested in following someone who doesn’t seem to tweet anything? I don’t get it at all.

But I bet by now she has twice as many followers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seeking Advice from the Vast Interweb

All right, let’s see how good this whole social networking thing really is:

For the first time ever, I am going to put forward an actual, honest-to-goodness request for advice, and see where it gets me. If anywhere. I plan to publish this request via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and will let you know what happens.

I’m looking for direction regarding a DVR.

Background: A few years ago, for very little money, I purchased from a Lite-On DVR, not unlike that which is pictured here. It has a TV tuner (not a very good one, but it does have it) but no hard drive. It records directly to disc—DVD+RW, DVD-RW, DVD-R, and DVD+R, and maybe other formats I’ve forgotten and never used. Or at least it used to: About three weeks ago it suddenly lost its ability to recognize anything except a pre-recorded commercial DVD, which it plays like a charm. But it will not recognize the presence of any other disc, whether recorded or blank. One hears the mechanism working away for several minutes, after which it just gives up and pretends it doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

So I wish to replace it, and with something better. Which is where you come in, perhaps.

I don’t think I’m interested in TiVo: I’m not wild about the idea of adding another monthly fee into the mix. (Someone told me that there’s a no-service TiVo option, but if so I can’t find anything about it on their website.)

Here is what I want:

    • A set-top DVR;
    • with a built-in TV tuner;
    • and a hard drive;
    and the ability to burn to disc.

Naturally, if the purchase price doesn’t require me to take out a second mortgage, that would be okay too.

Some models I’ve seen online also include a VCR and the option to record either from disc to tape or tape to disc. That would be nice, but it’s not an essential feature.

So there. If you have a model you’d like to recommend, or warn me against, have at it. You can use the “comment” link here, e-mail me, or contact me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, as applicable. I appreciate your time and expertise.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pictures of Fathers for Father's Day

(I still think it should be Fathers’ Day, but clearly I once again am swimming against the tide.)

Here’s a little something I cobbled together this morning: On the left we have a photo of my dad and his dad, Paul B. Reynolds, taken around 1967 at my grandfather’s house in Omaha. At top right, a photo of my mother’s dad, Carmine C. Caliendo, taken at his house in Omaha in, I would guess, the early 1960s. And at lower right, a photo of my dad’s grandfather, Samuel S. Reynolds, from a studio portrait made of his entire family in the early 1920s (judging from how young my grandfather looks in the same photo).

Somewhere in the mountains of photos I’ve lugged home from my parents’ house (and which, as Bob is my witless, I am going to get scanned and organized, somehow) I must have a photo of my dad’s other grandfather, William F. McGrail, and from my childhood I seem to recall a photo of my mom’s grandfather, Martino Caliendo, floating around, though I haven’t found it recently.

Anyhow, thanks, dads!