10,000 miles

2006 VW GTI  10000 miles

My car recently hit 10,000 miles, so I took it into the dealer for a service checkup. I took it to the dealer where I bought it, which unfortunately is on the complete other side of Seattle, and it can take about an hour to get there during rush hour, which is a huge pain.

When I dropped it off in the morning, the service guys were extremely friendly, but almost suspiciously so, which was kind of weird. They told me it would be ready by 5:00 PM. I arrived right at 5:00 expecting to pick up the car, but they didn't have it ready. My suspicion is that they hadn't even started on it until I showed up, because I had to wait another two hours to get it, and it certainly doesn't take two hours to change the oil, rotate the tires, and check a few things.

While I was waiting they tried to be extremely nice about it, apologizing profusely for the delays. At the end I finally learned why - they offered to give me a "free oil change" coupon as long as I "said good things" about them when Volkswagen Corporate called me to ask how the service went. I muttered some sort of "OK" and went on my way. I think it's the first time somebody has tried to bribe me in a real-world situation, which is sort of interesting (I don't count homework-bribes in school under this category).

When Volkswagen called I told them what happened, and the guy on the phone sounded displeased and insisted that they would "rectify the situation". My guess is that this dealership has been getting bad reviews (apparently for good reason), and Volkswagen has been getting on their case. I'm not sure if my complaint was anonymous or if they can trace it back to me, but I probably won't be going back to that dealership again anyway, mainly since it is so far away and inconvenient. I honestly expect to get bad service pretty much wherever I go, so I'm honestly not too displeased about that.

Posted on February 25, 2008
Filed under: Car, General Comments

No Candy

The best part about Valentine's Day is always going and stocking up on super-cheap 70%-off candy afterwards. Apparently the 17th is too late to do that, because today when I went to Target all the candy was already gone :(.

No Valentine's Day Candy at Target

Posted on February 17, 2008
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Thank you 🙂 Amusing blog posts, btw. How are things in your world?

Server noise

Unfortunately, after a couple of months of operation, my Windows Home Server has started to make a lot of noise. The case fans were always pretty loud, but now the hard disk has started making a high-pitched whining noise. Normally this wouldn't be too annoying since you could eventually get used to it, but the noises fluctuate in pitch at seemingly random intervals. This is irritating since you can't habituate to it and ignore it.

My first thought was to put it in the garage with a little Linksys WiFi bridge:

HP MediaSmart Server in the garage

This worked pretty well and it certainly took care of the noise problem. Unfortunately it was a little far away from the AP, so the wireless connection went out every once in a while when doing things like using the microwave. It wouldn't normally really be noticeable, but it interrupted things like streaming music to the Squeezebox.

Another problem with the garage setup was that an outlet shortage forced me to run a power extension cable across the ceiling on a water pipe, right next to a fire sprinkler:

Power cable running across the ceiling on a water pipe

This was a disaster waiting to happen in more ways than one, and it also irked my inner-Electrical Engineer.

Now I'm trying a new solution, which is to stick the server in the laundry closet. This looks like it's working better so far (it's also a lot closer to the AP), but I'm waiting to see if it might overheat the closet or computer when the dryer is running.

Posted on February 9, 2008
Filed under: Electronics, General Comments

Speed Dating

So this evening I went to the grad student "speed dating" event at UW. It was not really what I was expecting, but it was still interesting nonetheless.

Before it started they announced that many more women signed up than men. This sounded like a good thing, but it didn't end up mattering since we didn't get through even half of the people.

It was set in a large room with long folding tables laid out in parallel. There were 20 men on each side and 20 women on the other side. Here's a rough mspaint rendering:

Speed Dating Room Layout

You were given 3 minutes to talk to the person across from you, at the end of which the women would stand up and shift down one place, looping around to the other end of the table. After you got through everybody at the table, there was a 5 minute break and then the females would all move to the next table (in theory at least).

This process worked well at first. When the bell rang, everyone would stand up and then all shift down one seat simultaneously. This broke down pretty quickly and eventually people were only moving one at a time, leading to a "bubbling" effect where people could not move until everybody else at the table had shifted down one, which often took more than a minute, cutting into the 3 minute period. As people tried to "make up" the lost time the problem just got worse and worse.

Unfortunately it seemed that the organizers of the event did not book the room for enough time, and we were only able to get through two "rounds". So while there were 180 girls there, I only met 40 of them.

On the tables were scattered "valentines" where you could write down your email address and give it to the other person if you were interested in them. The organizers did not describe the protocol for using the valentines (guy always offers his contact info first (or vice versa), guy asks girl for her contact info, etc), so it led to a bit of chaos as people didn't know what to do. The main problem with the system was that it was both awkward to ask the other person for their info, as well as offer your info to them. Shy people such as myself had difficulty doing either.

Other speed dating protocols don't allow communication between the two parties during the "dates", and participants fill out a list of people who they were interested in. When there's a mutual match, contact info is sent to both people. This seems like a much better system, at least for small groups of people where you can remember who the other people were. After meeting 40 or 180 people, I would have trouble remembering who was who, so that kind of system might not have worked too well unless you filled out the list as you went along.

During the 40 "dates" there were some good ones and some bad ones (most were just sort of awkward since it was obvious it wasn't a good match). Here are some examples of the ones that didn't go so well:

Her: So what are you studying?
Me: Computer Science.
Her: Ah, are you a hacker?
Me: Um, no.. not really.
Her: 'cause hacking is cool.
Me: Well it's not really as glamorous as it is in movies.
Her: Still it seems like it would be a lot of fun.
Me: You mean, like snooping on people's email?
Her: You can snoop on people's email???
Me: No, no, I don't do that.
Her: Why would you do that??
Me: Well if you were a hacker that's one of the things you would be doing.
Her: I'm not giving you my email address!
Me: No, no, I'm not saying I'm a hacker. I... uhh.. never mind.

Her: So what do you like to do in your free time?
Me: Uh, well I like to read-
Her: Ugh I hate reading.
Me: So what do you like to do?
Her: I like to drink.
Me: Like in bars?
Her: Yeah or clubs, wherever there's lots of alcohol.
Me: uh..
Me: ...
Me: Hmm, so 3 minutes is actually sort of a long time isn't it?

Me: So what do you like to do?
Her: I like to hang out with my ex-boyfriend a lot.
Me: Ah.
Her: He's like really the only friend I have.
Me: Uh huh.
Her: That's probably a weird thing to admit at this sort of thing, right?
Me: Yeah it is kind of a weird thing to bring up.
Her: Yeah I probably shouldn't bring that up.
Me: ...

Her: Wow, so you actually have like a real job!
Her: You probably have so much more money than everyone at this table!
Me: Uhh... Hmm well if they are all full-time graduate students, then yes I guess that is probably correct. But I don't mean to-
Her: Just like in terms of per-hour, you're worth so much more than us!
Her: Did you know that the average grad student only makes $13,000 per year?
Me: That sounds about right, I guess I didn't know the exact figure.
Her: That's as much as a McDonald's worker makes!
Me: Uh-huh.. yeah.. So how about that weather eh?
Her: Man it must be cool to have a real job.
Me: ...

Her: So how old are you?
Me: I'm 24.
Her: Wow, everyone here is really young. How old do I look?
Me: Uh, well I'm not really that good at guessing that sort of thing..
Her: No no you have to tell me! I want to know.
Me: Uh... 30?
Her: Ah how nice of you. I'm really 35.
Me: Ah... well.. yeah..

Posted on February 5, 2008
Filed under: General, Random, School Comments



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