You need to get out more

Here’s a fun party behavior:
  • Pronounce or explain something in a way that is totally wrong in a barely-plausible way.
    (EG: Hagrid’s half-Sasquatch lineage IS CANON; If we’re going to go back to calling things by their original names, everything named “Washington” should be called “Hertburn;” Your aunt’s friend lost 45 lbs. in a month by eating more barium; Tom Verlaine has eaten half a regular-sized tube of Sensodyne toothpaste every day since 1974, but they changed the formula, and THAT’s why the last good thing he did was “Glitter in Their Eyes” on “Gung-Ho.”)

  • Someone will correct you
  • Then someone else will correct that person (you may need to repeat what the first person said loud enough to get attention).
  • After that, everyone should quickly go all comments-on-the-1nterhenets. Lots of name-calling and fun.  Everyone gets their phone out, because that’s where they keep the truth.
  • Use the distraction as cover while you eat all the shrimp/steal the good beer/plastic-wrap the toilet seat.
  • Get the heck out of there. Why were you even there?

    Inspired by the most recent brilliance of XKCD.

I’m not that much of a celebrity – 1

If I was Ray Liotta, every time one of my friends did something that I didn’t like, or made a humorous wisecrack at my expense, I would good-naturedly punch my right fist into my left palm and say “Why I LI-oughta!..” like in an old gangster movie.

I’m just saying that if I was Ray Liotta, Ray Liotta would probably not have as many friends.

The clicking is deafening!

I’ve been updating my Link Din stuff.

Every interaction with someone causes Link Din to automatically prompt you to send a thank you message.

Thing is, I’m the kind of person who does that anyway. Doing stuff on Link Din feels like when your mom told you to do something polite that you were already doing, and you thought “Geez Mom! How rude do you think I am?”

If they actually want this stuff to mean anything, they should make the default messages really rude. That way, you’d have to actually go in and change them to something you really mean. You’d have to actually BE polite, instead of having a chunk of code pretend you are.

And if you just clicked and sent the default, someone would get a message that says “I don’t need your endorsement, you ugly turnip-interfering squat!” and immediately know that the person sent it automatically.

This would also make it easier to be polite, because there are a limited number of ways to say “Thanks for endorsing my ability to sex walruses*” or whatever it is you do. If the computer types that for you, and you don’t even read it, just click “OK” then really the message you are sending is “Can not be arsed.”

Even typing out the most rudimentary “THX 4 the Ndorsnt” shows more engagement than clicking on one of the three words in Link Din messenger.

If you don’t think about it, there’s no difference between being rude and being polite.

(PS HIRE ME KTHX)

*not as rude a sentence as it looks.

It’s freezing in here.

Playing the guitar is relatively hard to learn.
No buddy, that is probably not his own hair.

Thanks to Equifax’s data incontinence and the flaming clown-car of death site they slapped together purely for optics, it’s a good idea for anyone subject to American credit reporting agencies to “freeze” your credit reports.  You can read more details on the whys and hows here.

We froze our credit reports from all three big reporting agencies yesterday. Here’s what I learned in the process. This has a pretty high snark content, because WHY AREN’T YOU MAD??, but I’ve tried to control myself, and the info will save you some time and annoyance.

 

General tips:

  • You can go to the site Equifax set up to see if your data is at risk, but if you’ve read anything about that site, you’ll know that it’s an untrustable waste of time.
  • I recommend using the phone to freeze your accounts. The Web sites for all three of these agencies are annoying at best, as is typical for sites designed by people who never use them.
  • Read the notes for each agency before embarking on the phone call.
  • I highly recommend using a land-line, so you don’t have to deal with as many screw-ups. You will still probably deal with screw-ups.
  • ALL of these phone systems try to use voice commands. ALL of them appear to listen for voice commands all the time, so it is REALLY easy to screw them up if you talk when you aren’t supposed to. This is difficult to avoid, as you will probably find yourself blurting out short words with hard consonants in them. Try not to.
  • As with everything, using a speakerphone makes it all much worse.
  • Use the keypad for anything with numbers. When (WHEN) these things screw up what they think you said, they will say they can’t access your report and you will have to start all over.
  • Speaking of which, when (when) these thing say they can’t access your report, just hang up and try again. We did a total of five calls to freeze three reports, and I think we did pretty well, considering how crap these systems are.

 


 

Equifax – 1-800-349-9960

 

Weeb

For this one, we actually went to the Equifax site and got our credit report from them BEFORE we froze the report. And yep, we printed it on many sheets of paper that we are going to eventually shred and recycle. If you go through the whole deal with setting up an online account with Equifax, you will need to supply:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • SSN
  • Some info about some credit you have open right now, like the price range of your mortgage payment

***You will have four minutes to supply all the info the site asks you for, or you will have to start again.***

Once you get to your report, there is a printer button on the top right.

 

“Monthly subscription fee” is not the same as “credit freeze!”

Equifax’s site pushes you towards their TrustedID service, which is a $22/month service that provides extra control over who can see what in your report. VERY VERY few people need this, but Equifax REALLY wants you to buy it–that’s how they make some of the money they don’t spend on keeping your information safe.

Nope, not giving them a link to it here.

 

Phone

To freeze your credit report with Equifax over the phone, you will need:

  • Name
  • State
  • Date of Birth
  • Numerical portion of your address (just know your address)
  • SSN
  • A credit card to pay the fee they are allowed to charge for this ($3 in NE).

Yep! They get PAID per freeze and unfreeze in most states. That’s nice work, if you can get it.

Once you get through all this, they will give you a PIN number, which you will need to use to unfreeze your account. WRITE THIS DOWN! You will also get a confirmation number, which you should also write down.

NOTE: Both of these are 10-digit numbers. You have the ability to have them repeat the numbers, and I recommend you do that. I say “write this down” because you probably can’t type it into your phone while listening.  Also, you shouldn’t.

They say they will also mail you confirmation. I suggest you watch out for that, because golly, if you wanted to intercept a bunch of communications between a credit-reporting agency and its customers, this would be a good time to do it. I am probably not the only person to think of that.

And yep, that PIN number is just the time that your PIN was issued, in the format DDMMYYHHMM.

Update: People noticed how dumb the PIN thing was, and Equifax are now using a different PIN scheme.

They are SO “taking this seriously.”


 

Experian – 1-888-397-3742

 

Weeb

If you have lots of time to kill and want to see how little testing goes into corporate web sites, you can bang around in circles on experian.com/report for a while and THEN decide to just do this by phone.

If you DO decide to try to create an Experian online account, you will need to create a unique username and a strong password for the site, which they will then undermine by asking you to answer a “security” question like the street you grew up on. I hope the irony of these questions in the context of a leak of 143 million user profiles is not lost on you.

When we tried to just set up a credit freeze on the site, we got a lot of broken links and stuff that circled back to trying to sell us CreditLock, which is Experian’s flavor of TrustedID–a service you pay for monthly that lets you do a bunch of stuff with your credit report that very very few people actually need to do.  After a few minutes, we said something like “Gosh, this isn’t very good. I hope the people at this company have a very rough time indeed!” and just used the phone.

 

Phone

You’ll need the same info as you did for Equifax, more or less. You will also need to listen through an utterly pointless list of all the states, arranged into groups of how much you can legally be charged for a credit freeze in each state. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it’s just Experian’s way of saying “This list is meaningless, unless you are willing to move to another state to save $3 -$10, but your time means literally nothing to us.”

Then you get to pay for the credit freeze with a credit card.

They will send you a confirmation thing in the mail. Again, I would keep an eye out for it.


 

Transunion – 1-888-909-8872

We just did this one by phone. You will need the same info as above.

You will also need to create a 6-digit PIN. And of course, you will need to pay.

This voice carousel is PARTICULARLY sensitive to any noise you make. Also, the fake-smiley voice that they have used for this sounds INCREDIBLY patronizing. Admittedly, we might have been a bit tetchy after 45 minutes of jumping through needless hoops put up by a scam industry run by horrible incompetent screw-ups. Obviously, I am totally over that now though…

They will send you a confirmation package in the mail. Look out for that.

Hope that helps.

Fix door handle 1998-2002 Toyota Corolla

The driver’s side door handle on our sexy, sexy base model 2001 Corolla broke. More accurately, the plastic surround that the handle sits in and pushes against when you open the door broke. The surround and handle are all one part, and replacing that part is very very easy on these cars.

Superfluous image
Your handle will break at one of the three points indicated in this diagram, but it is irrelevant, as the entire assembly is one piece. This image is therefore superfluous.

All the things you need to do this repair are already on the Weebs, so I’m just going to tell you what I did, and include a couple of tips that might make life easier.

 

A door handle, notebooks, a compressor--together they fight crime!
Serving Suggestion

1) MOST IMPORTANT THING: If you ask your mechanic (or Car Nerd Friend) about this job, and that mechanic is not familiar with this particular car, you might get the impression that this job is scary and expensive. It is not.

 

In a lot of cases,  replacing door handles requires removing the entire door panel, special tools, infinite care and patience, and the detached third finger of a blood relative. The average person would NOT want to do it.

For some reason however, Toyota made this job easy on 1998-2002 Corollas. If you can operate a screwdriver and open a plastic drink bottle, you can do this repair.

2) The parts are cheap. I bought replacements by Dorman. Driver’s side handle in grey is part number 79502, and passenger side is 79503. The front and back handles are the same on each side. I bought one for each side, because the shipping was almost as much as one handle, and spent less than $20. Make sure you match your color!

4) Howto videos are actually useful here. Do a search on your popular video site for the title of this post and you will see a few howto videos for this repair. They are all pretty much the same. I like the one with the kid in it the best. It will take about as long to watch two as it will take to do this repair IF you watch two howto videos.

An exciting picture of a car door partially open.
You can sit sideways and use both hands, and the door won’t move while you work.

5) Location location location. This repair is easiest to do with the door open, so you have some room to fiddle. I did it in the garage, parked so that the door was half-open (a pessimist might say “half-closed”) and against the wall (with a piece of foam between) and that worked well.

6) Use two screwdrivers when you are removing the clip inside the door handle. Hook the door activator (thick wire thing you clip the handle to) around one of the screwdrivers, so that it doesn’t drop into the door when you take off the old handle. It’s not too hard to fish the activator out if you drop it, but easier not to drop it in the first place.

The Upside

UniversumUNAM27
Does this mirror make my butt look big?
Yeah yeah, “search is awful.”  I say it every day, so often that I bore myself–and I think every word I say is FASCINATING, so I can imagine how it must be for people who aren’t, you know, on my level..

This park has both swings and roundabouts though. First of all, most people never really bothered to learn how to search for stuff anyway, so now there’s more even money to be made finding basic information for them now.

Plus, now that so many people have decided to let ad-placement agencies like teh Joogles and FB determine what information they can find on the 12netherets, it’s just a lot easier to put up stuff that smart people can find easily, and not-smart people won’t even know exists.

…and to be able to determine who is which.

The Black Squier–Update

More pressing of words, less booking of faces.

This is an update to an earlier post about my beloved E-series Squier Strat from 198something.  It might be of use to you if you are thinking of modding or rehabbing a Stratty guitar.

Since that post, I’ve done the following:

  • Started playing in a band called “Pink Flamingos” (I KNOW!) in which I do a lot of “lead” guitaring using fairly trad-sounding clean sounds.  I am NOT trying to make this thing sound like a Tele, but I want Tele-ish elements to the sound. And lots of bonk.
  • Put in a Fender Super Switch, wired like this:
    • 1 – Bridge only
    • 2 – Bridge and Middle
    • 3 – Bridge and Neck
    • 4 – Middle and Neck
    • 5 – Neck only

This all worked out really well.  Lots of big warm bonk in the 2 position, fills out and gets wider in the 3 position, and still that lovely Stratty-Strat jangle in the 4 position.  I use the bridge alone VERY rarely, and never use the neck alone.

As you’ll find with most kooky single-coil experiments in their raw state, I DID have to deal with a bit of noise. To a large extent, this is just a fact of life with some single-coils.  YES!  I AM AWARE OF VARIOUS NOISELESS OPTIONS!  I even have some in other guitars. But for THIS guitar, and the pickups I have decided to use, noise is part of the fun.

But there ARE things you can do.  Like some basic shielding. I thought I would share with you my example of why this is a good idea, and how not to do it.  For sciense.

I had 3/4 of a sheet of adhesive-backed copper foil floating around for a few years.  It bounced around various shelves and boxes so much that the adhesive had pretty much kinda given up in a lot of places, and the edges had been dinged, ripped and folded.  It was way too shot to use on someone else’s guitar, which makes it just the kind of thing I would use on my own guitar.

On Thursday, I had about 45 minutes before Pink Flamingos rehearsal, which seemed like EXACTLY enough time to do the shielding on the Squier if nothing went wrong.  To ensure that something WOULD go wrong, I didn’t make sure I had all the tools I would need, grabbed the guitar, and ran to my work bench.

I picked up the amp I forgot I had opened up on my work bench and carefully stacked it on top of another amp, on top of a wobbly storage container, so that I would always be distracted by the fear it would fall over while I was working.  Can’t stress how helpful this step is. If you want to make your task more exciting, MAKE SURE YOUR WORK AREA IS AN IMMINENT DISASTER!

I slacked off the strings, then decided I should just remove and change them, then decided to just slack them off, then undid them from the tuners but didn’t use a piece of tape or Velcro to hold them in place, so that they would be sure to tangle.

I removed all the screws from the pickguard and actually put them all in a container.  Crazy.

Here’s a nice picture of the guitar all opened up. You can click on it if you want to see it more biggerer:

Putting on the foil, Coach!
Live Naked Squier!

This next bit is most useful.  First, I didn’t make sure I had my shears or even a pair of scissors in the room. That way, I could cut the foil by either snipping teeny bits with the end of my wire strippers or biting it and then tearing it unevenly with my hands.  If you find these methods too accurate, make sure that you hurry while doing them.

DON’T MEASURE ANYTHING!  Just slap the foil down and start pressing it in randomly. Then, when you discover that things are in the wrong place, just lift it up and move it a lot. Not only will this put lots of random folds and creases in your foil, it will also pull off any adhesive it had left on it.

Speaking of adhesive, for goodness sake don’t bother to reach across the bench and grab any of the adhesives you have there.  Just keep slogging away with the wrong tools!

The torn edges of copper foil can be quite sharp. But I’m pretty sure that’s OK.  Don’t worry about gloves.

Swearing is a great time-saver!

In what seemed like no time at all, but was actually about 15 minutes after the guys in the band showed up, I had the foil properly in place, and was ready to put the guitar back together.

Here’s a picture with most of the shielding in place:

Nice Wrok!
I think that went quite well…

Just to make life interesting, I put on a fresh set of strings, because how could that be a problem right before you play?

All kidding aside, my point here is DO THE PREP WORK!   This job SHOULD have been fast, and the old foil shouldn’t have been a problem, but by trying to hurry before I started, I ended up taking longer and having to do things about three times. Also, it REALLY hurt to play at rehearsal, and I messed my hands up for a gig tonight.

The shielding itself has worked out quite well. You can’t see it in the picture, but I just soldered a wire from the ground of the guitar to the foil. It’s probably never going to be a noiseless guitar, but it’s about 40% quieter than it was, and certainly not a problem when playing live.

And if you stretch them in properly, new strings aren’t a problem either.