November 28, 2005
21 Months and kaput

In February 2004 Michele and I both got new mobile phones. The Nokia 3650s served us pretty well.

My phone started to die this summer and we ended up getting Michele a new Samsung SGH-D500 and I took over using her Nokia. Last weekend we were over at friend house and their two year-old dropped my phone in the toilet it seems. The Phone was soaking wet and after several days, it still refuses to function.

I'm in the market for a new phone and I call upon Loyal Cruft Readers for advice. What phone should I get?

Things I want in a phone:
Tri-band - good radio
Sound - good audio quality on calls
Camera - 1+ Megapixel would be nice, flash would be cool
MMS & SMS messaging

Things that don't matter to me in a phone:
PDA capability

Posted by michael at 08:16 PM | Comments (6)
November 27, 2005
Winter at the Zoo

On Saturday, I took the girls to the Los Angeles Zoo. They had four reindeer on display that we wanted to see and there was a discount on the family membership.

We saw all kinds of good stuff like the tiger cubs playing with their mother, the monkeys swinging around, and almost every other exhibit in the place. We forgot the Koala exhibit, but we'll catch it next time.

Starbucks was sponsoring some of the winter activities and giving away free coffee. As we were leaving the Zoo, there was a barista with a special coffee dispensing backpack. It was truly impressive with a cup dispenser and spigot on a hose connected to large coffee tanks on his back.

I need to find a way to borrow one of these. I'd love to wander the halls at the office dispensing coffee from a special backpack.

Posted by michael at 11:55 PM | Comments (6)
Weirdest eBay delivery evar...

Tonight at 10:48PM local time, the doorbell rang. The porch light was off and the dog went bananas.

I opened the door and saw a young man with a package.

He said "I have package for Michael Pusateri."
I said, "That's me."
He handed me the package and walked away without another word.

I bought some software last week on eBay. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 & Premiere 2.0 in a retail box. It turns out that the guy hand delivered my software.

I'm sure the kid was thinking "I'll save some time & money and drop it off." and I was thinking "Where is my bat?"

I'm not sure what to leave as feedback on eBay. I was thinking "Fast delivery, but scared the shit out of me."

What do you suggest?

Posted by michael at 10:57 PM | Comments (5)
November 24, 2005
Things I am thankful for...

Rather than a smaltzy Happy Thanksgiving post about being with loved ones, I think I'll post a slightly different list of things I am thankful for today. Not that I don't want you Loyal Cruft Readers to be with your loved ones today, I do, but posting that is a bit boring.

Ten Things I am thankful for today, in no particular order:

1) Google
2) Cheez-its
3) Union Bakery and their ham & cheese croissant
4) HBO
5) Tivo (with HD, of course)
6) Driving a hybrid in the carpool lane
7) Ikea
8) Rice a roni
9) DJ Riko
10) That George Bush cannot be re-elected

Posted by michael at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)
November 21, 2005
Michele's new office

Michele's new office, originally uploaded by Argyle.

After a few weeks of talking about it, I took advantage of the girls being out of town to redo Michele's side of the office.

I surprised her with it today when we got home from the airport. Happily, she loved it.

Posted by michael at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)
The price

In life you need to be careful that you understand the price of things.

Work has been keeping me exceedingly busy these days. It's been a slow but gradually ramp up of things to do, but now I find myself completely out of juice when I get home. There's lots to do and I power up at the office to get things done, but the to-do list never seems to get any smaller. When I do clear out some space by finishiing something it invariably is replaced with a stack twice as high.

I'm not complaining. With my personality, I crave the challenge and power of this kind of job, but it does have it's price.

At home, I focus on the girls, the one I married and the two I helped make. They really don't care about my title or job or the latest project, they just want me to do the daddy thing and pay attention to them. Even when I think I'm out of juice, I crank up the reserves and try to get the job done.

Once they go to sleep, I have the brief time when I'm free. Stacks of crap surround my desk. A site redesign sketch lays untouched for months. Multiple projects await my attention. Rants that course though my brain on the daily commute don't get written. Even the escape of video games loses it's allure.

Not that I'm sad, but I notice that I've hunkered down. Scaling down life to the bare essentials: family, work, and a brief decompress. The world passes me by. Emails go unreturned. Phone calls don't get made. Friends grow.

So the cost of success appears to be losing track of many things. Today I realized that my best friend lost 100 pounds and I had no fucking clue. What the fuck? I mean I know I'm not good about keeping in touch with people. That's where Michele backstops me. But I mean really how can I miss out on something like that and it catch me unaware?

Everything in life has a cost, it just sucks that you don't always realize the price until you've paid it.

Posted by michael at 09:52 PM | Comments (3)
November 20, 2005
The best thing about ...

The best thing about being at home when the girls are gone is not showering or shaving until I offend myself with my personal aroma. It reminds me of bachelorhood...

Posted by michael at 01:07 PM | Comments (2)
November 14, 2005
20 Attempts
2 Deaths
3 Different tactics
18 Successful kills
~5 Hours playing time
120 Bottles of Dark Iron Ale thrown
1 Barman Shanker

Posted by michael at 10:22 AM | Comments (5)
November 13, 2005
Picopad ftw

A while ago I saw a post about Picopad on the Lifehacker site. I often run into situations where I want to write something down and don't have anything to use. Sometimes at lunch I end up writing notes on scraps of magazines and any other paper I can find.

The Picopad promised to give me a pen and a pad that fit in my wallet. I had to give it a try.

The Picopad arrives in a nice little package with instruction and everything. The package holds multiple picopads. Michele had already taken hers before I took the photo.

Closed it has a clean design, using the pen to help be the spine of the fold.

Inside you can see the pen and the pad. The pad is like a mini-post-it note with 15 sheets. The pen has a little flap on it. I wasn't sure what that was for until I picked up the pen.

Once you you pick up the pen it all makes sense. The little flap gives your thumb and forefinger something to hold onto comfortably. If it was just the pen, you'd have to squeeze hard to hold the tiny pen. The flap is just rough enough to allow for an easy grip.

Taking a quick note is simple and straightforward. The mini-ballpoint writes well and cleanly. I wouldn't want to take notes for an hour long meeting on it, but an impromptu message or note, it's perfect.

The real test was seeing if the Picopad would fit into my wallet. At first glance I was a bit skeptical. It's thicker than a credit card by a bit. But when I slide it into my wallet, it fit perfectly. It really is designed well to fit so well into the credit card slot. My wallet is made of Rawlings Baseball leather and can be a bit thick, but the Picopad didn't cause any issues.

You can see from the side view that the Picopad doesn't add any real thickness to my wallet. That little silvery bar is the pen.

My only minor complaint is with the Picopad web site. They have a ten dollar minimum order but each Picopad only costs $3.79 and refills are $1.99. That means you need to add items until you get to $10. It would be better for them to have packages that were $10 right off the bat to let someone buy a get started pack and get to the checkout immediately.

Other than that, the Picopad get the Cruft Labs seal of approval.

Posted by michael at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)
November 06, 2005
McDonald's Coffee

On my way to work, I recently noticed that McDonald's was advertising that they had a full coffee bar going. I'm not a coffee snob, so I decided to check it out one morning.

Outside was a poster of what I was to expect from McCoffee. Didn't look half bad, but the proof would be in the drinking, not the photography.

At the left of the counter was a little display of coffeeness. They even had a jar of biscotti, just like Starbucks. Behind the counter was a full coffee bar. They had special machines to make the various drinks. It was halfway between what you see at other coffee shops and a soda dispenser. The woman that was making the coffee had a special shirt on that said 'barista' on it. McDonalds has made serious commitment to getting into the coffee business.

A close-up of the sign that descibes for the customer what McDonalds says goes into the various coffee drinks. I found this more helpful than the signs at any other coffee shop I've been to before.

I decided to get a cappuccino, a mocha, and a cup of regular coffee. I also decided to try the biscotti. I watched the barista make the coffee and she bascially did the same things they do at every coffee place. It took a bit for her to walk to the back of the store to get the can of spray whipped cream for the mocha.

The packaging didn't look half bad. The store didn't have the same kind of little area to mix up your coffee with creamer and sugar but I was able to grab a few packets of sugar.

When I got the coffees home, I opened up the lids and took a look. I was suprised to see that all the whipped cream and sprinkleshad melted away completely. The froth on the cappuccino was still there.

I tried the straight coffee first. Just like traditional McCoffee, way to hot and just a little bitter. With a packet of sugar and a dollop of creme, the coffee was fine.

I tried the mocha next and it was pretty good. It's kind of hard mess up basically coffee and chocolate milk. The whipped cream whould have been nice, but it was still good without it.

The cappuccino was OK. I'm not a big cappuccino fan, but I guess it was fine. Nothing spectacular to be sure. I'm not really down with the frothy foam thing, so it was a bit distracting to me.

Lastly, the biscotti was exactly the same as the other factory mass produced cookies that you get everywhere else. Not that it tasted bad, but I'd rather get a hash browns from MickeyDs than have a cheap cookie. A warm hash browns and cup of coffee on a winter morning is a good way to start the day.

Overall, the McCoffee experience is firmly mediocre. If you are a coffee connoisseur, you probably won't be happy. If you are a regular coffee drinker like me, and you want a quick cup, McDonalds is just fine.

Posted by michael at 01:43 PM | Comments (12)