Another Year.

Another birthday come and gone. And it was…um…there are no words, actually. I received a few shocks that, frankly, I could have lived without.

But at least I got my pen.

pen-type-a-doodle

I’m quite excited about it, and I think I have an unhealthy obsession with taking the pen out of its holder just so I can watch it slowly slide back down into it–it really is that cool—and I’m grateful to the fine folks at CW&T for making it all possible.

When my life calms to relative normal and after some renovations of my stationery addiction site, I’ll post a proper and full review of the pen.

WD TV Live Hub: How to REALLY Downgrade Your Firmware…

I updated the firmware in my WD TV Live Hub about a week ago and I’m surprised I managed to go this long without rolling it back seeing as how the upgrade caused my left and down arrow keys to work only when they chose to (or not at all in the case of the down arrow), plus some other bugs.

My first instinct was to read up at the support forums and check the firmware release notes. Not very helpful. So I called their Tech Support line. Even less helpful. My only other recourse was to downgrade the firmware myself.

From the page which outlines their downgrade instructions, you click on the link to download Firmware v. 2.03.24 and you find a Page Not Found error. Oh noze. But, thanks to the sleuthing of a helpful poster in the support forums, we get the real v. 2.03.24 firmware link (~81MB).

There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: The downgrade will not work with those files as-is.

Here’s the solution: You have to edit the version number and convince the WD TV Live Hub that you’re trying to upgrade the firmware when you’re really downgrading.

To do that, unzip all three files into the root directory of your USB drive (as the instructions say) and then, using a plain text ASCII editor (like Notepad), open up the wdtvlivehub.ver file.

You should see:

VERSION='2.03.24'
LOCATION='wdtvlivehub.bin'
PKG_LOCATION='wdtvlivehub.pkg'

Change VERSION=’2.03.24’ to a higher number, like VERSION=’6.0.0’, and save it. Plug the USB drive into the WD TV Live Hub box and wait, do nothing, don’t press any buttons, just wait.

After a few seconds the message asking you to sink the files should disappear and from there, just follow the instructions starting at Step 6.

It’s a pain in the butt, and I lost a bunch of services I didn’t even use anyway, but at least my arrow keys are all finally working again.

One of these pens is not like the others, or my first JetPens customer service experience.

In 2008 I discovered a cool website called JetPens which specialized in Japanese pens and stationary products. It was like in the movies when the clouds would part to reveal rays of light shining down on me and heavenly voices would chant, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, halle-lu-jah!”.

JetPens managed to work its way into my life and I became almost evangelical about them. To the point where I joined and participated in their Facebook page and trolled their Flickr group and they even featured me in one of their JetPics columns. What was even more impressive was that I never needed to contact customer service with any problems.

Until recently.

It wasn’t a big problem, though. My order arrived, one of pens was used and didn’t write properly. I figured maybe someone returned a defective pen and it got mixed back into the lot. So, I sent an email asking how I could send it back and receive a replacement. Fairly straightforward.

What I received, instead of an answer to my question, was:

“I can assure you that we do not sell any products that have been used.”

Hmm. Really?

To that I say, one of these pens is not like the others…

jetpens-pilot-pens

It might have been a manufacturing error, but this wasn’t the first time I’d received a pen showing signs of use. (In fact, that other pen looked more thoroughly used than this one and it was a different manufacturer.) I just never said anything before because it was an inexpensive pen and it worked.

The response email then told me to hold the tip in front of a blow dryer for a few seconds, scribbling intermittently, to see if I could get the ink flowing. That is a great tip and I’ll certainly use it in the future.

But, hello, they sent me a pen that seemed used and didn’t even work properly ; all I wanted to do was exchange it. I didn’t want to be told that I was mistaken about it being used and that I should fiddle around with hair care products first.

So, I politely responded explaining why my very first customer service experience with JetPens left me feeling cold. What I received was:

“I should have been more clear in stating that at times, pen ink levels can be a little off…”

I’m (usually) not a complete tool. I know ink levels vary from pen to pen, which is why I was sure to say in my first email that close to 1/4 of the ink was missing. That does not qualify as a “little off”. So, no, there was no way to be more clear on that.

“Sometimes the little wax or plastic protective balls can come off pens while they are in the warehouse (especially retractable pens).” (For context, this is referencing my previous used pen experience which I detailed in my response email.)

I said the protective ball was missing and the ink level was also obviously depleted. In fact, more than 1/4 of the ink was missing from the pen in that case. Again, not just a “little off”.

“As a policy we do not accept any used items for return, but when that special case arises and we receive used items back, we do not restock them.”

It may be policy, but it doesn’t explain how on two separate occasions I received pens which showed signs of being used. Or, why, again I feel as though I’m being told that I’m hallucinating.

They’re sending me a new pen though. I can “feel free to keep or discard the faulty pen”, but what I feel is rather unsatisfied by the experience.

What should have happened—what I expected to have happen—was the receipt of the obligatory apology for the inconvenience (which is so common in retail today), followed by the prompt shipment of a replacement and instructions for sending back the defective product. Easy peezy lemon squeezy. The world keeps turning and the company still has a loyal happy evangelical customer who will sing praises of her wonderful experiences with them.

Instead, I got sKo0led on how wrong I am for thinking a pen that was missing considerable quantities of ink was used and that I should have taken a blow dryer to it before complaining. Thank you for that JetPens customer service. It was also a nice touch that all the email salutations began with the name assigned by my email provider rather than the actual name I signed my emails with.

This was very much like meeting my hero in real life and realizing he’s not as amazing as I made him out to be in my head. I still like him and think he’s pretty cool, just slightly less so. *sigh*

UPDATE 02/25/11: My woebegone pen arrived today. I’m glad to report that there’s no missing ink and it works (no blow dryer necessary). Yay.

The New Netbook

Lately, I’ve been out and about more and lugging around my laptop (even the smaller one) has been a pain in the backside. I needed something even more portable, but more potent than my iPhone. The decision came down to getting a Kindle (or Nook), the iPad, or a netbook.

Deciding between the three wasn’t too difficult. The main purpose of the device would be for writing and work, so that immediately knocked the Kindle (and Nook) out of the running. And I know there are people out there who would be voting for the iPad because…OMG IT’S SHINY!!…but I couldn’t justify it. While I can write on my iPhone, it’s not as pleasurable as typing with a traditional computer (I love to feel the keys sinking under my fingers and hearing the light click they make as I type), plus it was about $500 more. So my decision was made for me.

A netbook would allow me to write, get some basic work done, and should the mood hit me, read. But which netbook to get?

I ended up making a chart listing the specs/features of each brand/model and after all was said and done, the Asus Eee PC 1005PE won. It had ample battery life, upgradeable memory, light weight, and a reasonable price; it seemed like the best value. As a bonus, it even came with Kindle for PC pre-installed.

I’ve had it for about a month (actually, this is my second one because I had to send the first one back to Amazon, a discussion I’ll save for later) and so far, I’m really liking it, despite its quirks. I’ve already read an entire novel via Kindle which was surprisingly comfortable, watched a couple shows on Hulu, which was surprisingly stilted, and typed a few documents, which was…normal.

The processing speed is slower than a regular laptop/PC (which I expected), but not egregiously so. The keyboard is small, but getting used to it is nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. The only things I still haven’t gotten used to is the smaller SHIFT key on the right side, plus needing to use the FN key when paging up or down, home or end.

One other annoyance is that it comes with a bunch of unnecessary bloatware, but not as much as some laptops, so I count myself lucky there. Right now I’m uninstalling Microsoft Office, which was included with a 60 day trial, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. When the uninstalls have finished I’ll be installing Oo 3 and Foxit PDF Reader respectively.

Once I’ve played around with it for a while longer, I’ll probably be writing a review at Amazon about my experience. As an early estimation, it’s an adequate computer, but it’s hovering around 3.5 stars (one star off because of the craftsmanship–to put it plainly, it looks cheaply made–and half a star off because of some usability quirks).

In Geekier News: OptiNiche and WordPress Diva Websites Have Been Sold

I’ve been sitting on this bit of news for a little while now, but my life has been a whirlwind for the past couple of months. (Plus, I’ve learned that I’m just bad about making these sorts of announcements.)

In any event, I’ve sold two more of my web properties: The OptiNiche and WordPress Diva websites and content. It was a smooth sale, but I won’t be disclosing the details since I haven’t yet discussed it with the new owners.

Since the OptiNiche website did have commercial content which wasn’t included in the sale, I archived it and will be providing access to the original OptiNiche customers. When things settle down for me in the next couple of weeks, I will send out an email with specific details.

And since the WordPress Diva property was sold without the themes, I’ll begin working on updating a few of my favorites and making them available for download from the Teli Design website.

To finish up, I’ll say that I’m happy with the new owners. I’ve checked out some of their other web properties and feel confident that they’ll take care of these websites.

Now I just have a few more web properties to sell and my web portfolio will be down to where I want it. :)

Designing by the Seat of My Pants

It’s long overdue, but I’m finally redesigning the Teli Design Studio. Right now there’s just a placeholder up while I work behind the scenes, but I’m tempted to take it down so that people can watch a design in its various iterations. Since I’m too tired right now, it’s a decision which needs to wait ’til morning.

Ampersands

I want me some pretty (serif) ampersands, so I’m making a mental note of the (relatively web-friendly) font families which have them.

Baskerville, “Goudy Old Style”, Palatino, “Book Antiqua”

I’ll probably come across some others, but for now…pretty ampersand fonts, duly noted.

Lazy Days and Random Shizzle

It’s Sunday. And it’s a miracle I can even function. Seriously, I used to lounge away the entire day listening to music or watching movies. It was like my body physically precluded me from doing anything productive. Today seems to be no different, except that I’m in the upright position and haven’t turned on my iPod or DVD player all day. So what have I been doing?

  • Reading. Oddly, I woke up with a desire to read a book that I received a few days ago from Amazon. It’s leisurely, but in the quietness lurks something that seems sinister…in a twisted way. That made no sense now that I’ve re-read it, but meh. It’s called Broken by Karin Fossum BTW.
  • Writing. Before I went to bed last night, there was the beginning of a story scratching at the inside of my head and it refused to let me sleep until I took up a pad of paper and wrote it down. It’s about a girl who wakes up from death. Morbid, I know. But interesting. Today more of the story is coming to me. What’s stressful, though, is that I still have three other stories which need finishing.
  • Drawing. Well, I haven’t technically drawn anything yet today, but oh goodness my hands are quivering to. I have the picture in my head and it wants to get out so badly. I must make some time to do that. (I will only share that it’s along the lines of my taste in reading. Darkly quirky.)
  • Laundry. What were Sundays made for if not laundry? ‘Nuff said.

And I did mention there would be random shizzle, didn’t I?

  • I spoke with an ex-boyfriend who I hadn’t spoken to in nearly six years. That was…um…there is no word for what that was. It made my brain go numb for a little while afterward. There was so much to catch up on and not all of it good. I think my brain is still a little numb from it.
  • CSS Goddess is now set up on its own hosting account and I’ve installed WordPress 3.0 and I’ll be setting it up with BuddyPress and developing a custom theme in the weeks to come. Complete truth be told, I’ve been a bit lazy with the development, but I’ll course correct come this week.
  • Torchwood totally rocks. OK, I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who for some years…since before I quit T.V. and I was elated when I saw that Netflix had it in stock, so when they recommended I watch Torchwood because I liked DW, I decided why the hell not? Turns out the spin-off is pretty cool, and a lot more homoerotic than I expected.

I think that’s about it for today. Now I must go draw something.

Working on Websites

I’m feeling rather inspired this week. I actually just finished printing off an updated list of my domains. (I’m so proud of myself for paring it down as much as I have, but I still have about 30 sites I need to let lapse or sell.) And looking at that list, I’ve decided which sites I will be focusing my time and energy on developing.

First up? CSS Goddess. Yes, the site that has been languishing in my account for nearly six years. I never knew exactly what I wanted to do with it–I had some foreign idea floating around, but nothing clear–but last night before I went to sleep, I began plotting all the things I’d like to do with it.

Foremost I want it to be a design gallery showcasing some of the most beautiful web designs to ever pop out of a woman’s head. But I want it to be more than that, too. I want it to be a community. I want it to be a place for education. And I want it to be open to all. Sure there are other sites out there that do this already, but many of those sites have…what’s the word?…hostile participants. This site I want to feel welcoming.

Gah, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now I just need to focus on drafting up a proper plan and mapping out the necessary action steps to get the ball rolling.

Scripting Fingers

I felt absolutely productive today. I managed to get a script update done that’s been waiting in the wings for quite a while. There is still one other script update I need to do, along with a few website updates, but that will happily wait until tomorrow or Monday.

I’ve also decided on which sites I will be selling and some of the details of the sale. Ahh, what a great day it can be when you sort of shut out the world and simply focus. Now it’s time to relax a bit before I have to be at rehearsal.