Posted by Robyn on Aug 2, 2009 in General



Posted by Robyn on Apr 30, 2009 in General

I read this book last night. It far exceeded my expectations. It started out slow, but about a quarter of the way in, it picks up and just grabs you. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.

FYI, “Twilight” should not be taken as a recommendation for when you should start reading this book. It’s rather long, and it’s impossible to put down until you finish it. I went to bed at 7 AM. If it hadn’t been my day off, I’d have had to leave for work with no sleep!



Posted by Robyn on Mar 11, 2009 in General

I just canceled our Blockbuster Online membership. After trying Netflix for a month, it just wins, hands down. While they both carry pretty much the same stuff, Netflix actually has it in stock more often, and oh yeah… you can STREAM a fair chunk of it INSTANTLY.

Blockbuster had me for a while with the unlimited in-store exchanges, but you still had to make that trip to the video store once a week to cash them in. And once you did, you had to return them eventually, or Blockbuster would charge you for them.

Compare that with the convenience of streaming instantly, and it’s LOL time! By the way, if you’re running a computer with Windows Media Center on it, and you don’t have this Netflix plugin, you should get it. Right now. I’ll wait…

Yeah, pretty awesome, huh? It’s constantly being tweaked and improved, so update it often to take full advantage of the awesomeness.


I solved the entire DRM/Piracy Issue

Posted by Robyn on Mar 6, 2009 in General

… at 9:22 PM PST on Friday March 6, 2009.

Most TV shows and movies already have a smattering of product placement-type advertising. I say, go for it. Add all you want. Embed all the advertising into the programs, then cut out all this DRM-anti-piracy crap. The more we download, the more money the studios make.

Want to get rid of the torrent clients, and drive people to your studio’s site? Make high-quality downloads available over super-quick connections. Put all the advertising you want on your own site. Offer ads and previews for upcoming shows and movies. We want your stuff, so give us more!

So there it is. I solved the whole issue. Go me.

And yes, this thought was inspired by Hulu. For anyone looking to TRY and get Hulu working on an HTPC, here is what I’m currently using. It’s a VERY early beta, but does seem promising. I’m still hoping for Hulu to either support this guy, or come up with their own, slightly better integrated solution, but so far, this is at least usable.

Second Run TV


Uncomfortable Praise

Posted by Robyn on Mar 3, 2009 in General

Lately, I have been feeling slightly uncomfortable with the amount of praise I get from my students. I am a software trainer, and I typically train half-day or full-day classes in your typical Microsoft and Adobe products. It’s a lot of fun, and I really enjoy it.

But since I started this job, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who not only give me a good review on the course evaluation, but actually come up to me after class and make a special effort to say how enjoyable the class was, how I was the best teacher they ever had, etc. It especially makes me uncomfortable when they compare me directly with my co-workers — all of whom have more seniority than me! WTF are you supposed to say to that?

I guess it partly has to do with the fact that I haven’t been doing this very long, and often feel I’m bringing my “B” game. For some of the software I’m teaching, my knowledge only goes about an inch deeper than the manual I’m training out of. Yet everyone seems to think I’m an expert. Also, when you teach every day, it’s hard not to have a bad day once in a while. I guess I feel like I’m barely treading water most of the time, but then I get all this massive praise. It makes me feel like a fraud!

I’ve always wondered whether being a good teacher was dependent more on your knowledge of the subject, or more on your skill in teaching and ability to make the class enjoyable. Clearly, some of both is necessary, but what do you think is MOST important?



Posted by Robyn on Feb 12, 2009 in General



I know, I know. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many journals. But dude, it’s a musical based on my favorite movie ever. And I love musicals. There is just no way I’m not going to journal this, and you know it!


Complaining, Part 2

Posted by Robyn on Feb 12, 2009 in General

Apparently, I didn’t have to mention anything to my boss because the state employees themselves have been complaining about that room on the class evaluations. The room was inspected, and it turns out that three small conference rooms in the basement (this training room included) run on a separate ventilation system from the rest of the building. And it’s totally broken. Awesome.

For a few minutes today, it looked like they might actually shut down the trainings, but they had a health inspector come in and test for mold and mildew, and there wasn’t any. It’s just dusty because the air is stagnant. (Which explains the sneezing and allergies.) They are going to wait until the trainings finish up next week before they fix it, which is actually good for us, since we don’t lose all that money.

In the meantime, they brought in some fans, which make the room a bit chilly, but they do help with the air quality a little. So, I’m relieved on two counts. It wasn’t all in my head, but it’s also not going to kill me to breathe some dusty air for a few more days.



Posted by Robyn on Feb 12, 2009 in General

I love my new job, but I have been feeling frustrated lately. For the past several weeks, I have spent nearly every single working day training in this makeshift basement “classroom” at the State of Oregon. There are no windows, and the circulation is non-existent. The air has a constant musty odor to it that never goes away. I am constantly sneezing, and there is a persistent tightness in my chest.

However, the new training schedule just came out, and I am not scheduled to teach in there after next week. I really feel like I am going crazy, but at the same time, it’s very temporary. I have looked at the schedule, and the only way my boss would be able to switch me out of that room is to put another trainer in there, or cancel all the classes, costing the company a lot of money.

But if the air in that room is making me sick… ugh. I hate this. What should I do?



Posted by Robyn on Feb 1, 2009 in General

TLDR version: I am going to win a bet with my husband to lose 20 lbs, and we joined an awesome gym. It’s better than your gym. (And way more expensive.) If you want to prove me wrong, you’ll have to read this long-ass journal. HA!

My hubby and I have a bet. Currently, we are about the same height and weight. My long term weight loss goal is higher than his, but we are starting out with one basic goal: the first one to hit 165 lbs wins. We have both enrolled in a 5k race on April 5th. If one of us hits 165 lbs on or before that date, we get to spend our Oregon tax return ($332) any way we like!

We also joined an AMAZING gym called Club Sport. This is not your typical Bally-Gold-24-Hour-LA-Fitness-First-Neighborhood-Ho-Hum-Gym. I’ve been a member of those before. *yawn* This is different. Allow me to explain how.

1. Fitness Trainers: There are fitness trainers crawling all over this place. And they don’t cost extra money. You can grab any available trainer off the floor to help you with pretty much anything. For example, I was sweating along on the treadmill today, and I ran out of water. A friendly trainer apparently noticed this, came over UNASKED, and handed me a cup of cold water. She chatted with me a bit about my goals (training for my first 5k), and she helped me tweak my training schedule. It was amazing.

2. Equipment: There is an absurd amount of fitness equipment available. And it’s all uber high-end stuff. The treadmills have iPod connectors, which let you play your music and videos using the huge built-in touch-screen monitor. They also have USB ports, which let you save your workout stats to any USB flash drive!

3. Classes and Facilities: They also have a ton of fitness classes, all of which are free for members. There is a 45-foot rock wall, and they will teach you how to climb and belay for free! They have a huge pool, and tons of racquetball, basketball, and tennis courts to choose from.

4. Locker Rooms: Towels are readily available and free. Lockers are roomy, and your locker is activated by your membership card — no need to BYO lock! There are hair dryers by each of a couple DOZEN sinks (at least in the women’s locker room). Plenty of showers and restroom stalls available, too. Oh, and the very best part is the jacuzzi (clothing optional).

Of course, all of this comes at a price. A couple’s membership is $160 a month, and covers two adults. Yeah, that’s really expensive. But there is NO contract, and NO automatic payments required. At the beginning of each month, I can walk my happy ass in there and write them a check. Or give them cash. Or hand them a credit card. That they will charge ONCE.

There is a $10 late fee if dues aren’t paid by the 5th, and your membership is automatically suspended if dues aren’t paid by the 10th. Now, most gyms know you aren’t going to attend regularly. That’s why they want your money even if you don’t show up. This gym has the balls to charge two or three times the average price, AND let you pay as you go.

But it’s awesome. And that’s why people never want to leave.


Home Server

Posted by Robyn on Jan 31, 2009 in General

I am in the process of re-evaluating my DVD collection. Since we are getting a Blu-Ray player, I will be buying and ripping Blu-Ray movies onto my home server. These movies are huge, and I only rip full ISO copies of movies. (Without the menus and extras, what’s the point of buying the disc? I am not flexible on this issue, so telling me I should just rip the main title is a waste of your time.)

We also have subscriptions to both Blockbuster and Netflix. Yeah, I know. Why do we need both? Well, we had the Blockbuster membership forever, so we are getting unlimited in-store exchanges plus three movies at a time for $17/mo. But Netflix added streaming to the Xbox 360, so I got a subscription to that, too. STFU, we spend less on those two subscriptions combined than one movie costs in the theater these days.

So here’s my question. Since we can get virtually any movie or TV show we want from Blockbuster and Netflix, which ones should we purchase and rip to the server? A wide variety of movies and TV shows, or just the ones we watch frequently?

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