Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Ballad of the Used Car

Alright I am temporarily deciding to take a break from the indeterminate time period in which I talk about television networks (network month). That said I need to say something and so I decided to write about the most exciting thing that happened to me.

Time for some back story. I don't have a drivers license. I don't go out that much and most of the few places I do go I can get to by walking or taking the bus. The trouble of taking drivers lessons, taking the driver's test, buying a car, maintaining a car, and paying exorbitant gas prices does not seem worth it to me when I only go out a grand total of three times a week, if that.

My parents especially my father strongly disagrees with this. (Understatement of the year) So I've been taking a few drivers lessons. (Don't worry. I have a permit.)

About two and a half weeks ago, to more strongly encourage me to practice my parents decided to buy me a used car. I personally thought that there were better ways to use the money, but saying that would start old arguments and well, what's the point in arguing when you're getting a free car.

The car cost about $2500. When we first got it home my mom saw it was leaking something so we called the seller who called a tower. He took the car back and gave it the okay. About a week later it stalls on my dad while he's driving it. I only drove it twice.

A week after that my dad and I are driving it back to the place to get license plates, and it stalls again. We get there and find that the head gasket is blown, and to fix it would cost another 600 bucks. The guy says the he can give us back about $1000 for the car if we want but he can't give us back all our money.

That is where things stand now or at least since Friday.

Michigan unemployment through March

Sometime in January or February, I'm not sure, I posted graphs of the unemployment rates from various Michigan cities from Google public data. I just figured now was a good time for an update.

Note: I'm sorry but due to some wonky things with the site you might have to click explore data to see it.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Top 5 Things That Annoy Me About Local Broadcast News

The top 5 things that Annoy Me about local Broadcast news'

I get most of my news online but having a journalism degree I occasionally try to sit through local broadcast news shows. I can only sit through a 20 minutes of them at a time though. Here is why, the top 5 things that annoy me about local broadcast news.

5. Lack of an Online Version
Let me clarify here. I can get some video from the internet, but what I would really like is something closer to what National ABC does. They have it so I can stream video and download audio of their full news shows, not just a 3 minute story package. I can also get both the video and audio of The Today Show on my phone...mp3 player...device...thingy. (Yes folks I'm trying to be funny.) At least to my knowledge, I can't get that from the big four local news networks. (ABC, FOX, CBS, NBC) Another pet peeve of mine which I will explain later could be solved by this.

4. The Formality of the Look.
I get it. You guys need to be taken seriously so you have to dress the part. The problem is even professional fashion has changed in the last 20 years. Dressing the way you do makes you seem out of touch and that is bad. You are supposed to have your fingers on the pulse not 20 years away from it.

3. Weather and Traffic
Again this one is related to my number one pet peeve. Anyway, I and most of the folks I know have a dongle on their computer or phone to find out the weather and they are much more likely to use it than wait for the local news to get around to it. To make matters worse it seems to me like they come back to weather and traffic every 10 minutes. I can get that stuff much easier somewhere else and the time could be devoted to the stuff I can't.

2. News Banter
It does not seem authentic, funny or useful, and it makes scream, "Why!?" at my TV. That is all.

1. The Repetitiveness of Content
I get it. If you're watching the evening news you probably aren't watching it from the beginning, so they try to cycle the content. It still makes it annoying for me. In a two hour news program there is probably only 45 minutes worth of actual content. This mostly has to do with how people consume content now days. Because of Tivo, Netflix and Hulu people can now watch content when they want and start that content at the point where they want, meaning that seeing the same story, especially if it's the same story package more than once really annoys me.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Foo Fighters: Wasting Light Review

Foo Fighters
Wasted Light

I like this album. It's big where it needs to be big and vulnerable where it needs to be vulnerable. It's got heart. As a result, the parts I liked I really liked, but there were a lot of moments, especially in the middle of the album that were meh.

The Opening Track "Bridge Burning" was awesome for me. The opening of the song sounded unique and a little creepy. I dig that. That said a lot of the album for better or for worse (for me it's for better) sounds a lot like stuff from 10 years ago. That said I kind of prefer that type of music and frequently shake my old man fist. There are plenty of moments here where the Foo Fighters take something old and make it new, but unlike the Beastie Boys I can't say that the entire album sounds that way. Most of it sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in '96. It's not that the music is bad; it's just that it's been done. It sounds a lot like old Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam stuff. Again since I like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam I like this, but well it's all been done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence’s May 24, 2011 Economic Roundtable

In this roundtable Southfield residents had the opportunity to ask questions of the Mayor and the City Planner

Southfield May 24, 2011 Economic Roundtable. from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

Audio can be downloaded here.

Hulu Plus on Xbox Live Thoughts

Recently the Hulu plus service has been made available via a free trial on Xbox live. This is my experience with it so far.

The Good
  • I currently subscribe to Netflix. My personal opinion is that Netflix selection is slightly better, but it was a treat to be able to watch shows that Netflix doesn't offer like the U.K's version of The Office, Daria and The Daily Show.
  • Based on what I seen Hulu gets new shows sooner than Netflix, so on some of the duplicates they have shows that Netflix doesn't.

The Bad
  • While the interface is similar to Netflix there is one weird thing. When switching season descriptions on the page the interface considers it the same page so if I press the x intending to go back it will take me all the way back to the browse page when I intend to just go to another season.
  • While I doubt there is anything they can do about it, the shows have commercials. Again when it comes to duplicates between this and Netflix it makes me choose to watch something on Netflix rather than Hulu. An example is Lewis Black's Root of All Evil.
  • When I signed up for the service I thought I would be able to watch everything I could on Hulu's web service on my TV. I can't. A lot of the shows like the Outer Limits are Web Only.

The Meh
Like I said before, a lot, though not all, of the shows are available on Netflix Instant. In all honesty the services are very similar if you have to choose which one will probably depend on the individual shows you like and how much you use Netflix DVD service.

May 23, 2011 Southfield Regular City Council Meeting

Regular city council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on May 23, 2011.

Topics include
  • The council's participation in a workshop to help them determine long term goals for the city.

Southfield Regular City Council Meeting May 23, 2011 from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

You can download audio of the meeting here.

May 23, 2011 Southfield Special City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield Michigan on May 23, 2011.

Topics include
  • Water and Sewer Issues
  • Changes to how the city deals with notifying residents about and the collection of code enforcement fees.
  • The Chaldean Festival

Southfield City Council Meeting May 23, 2011 from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

You can download audio of the meeting here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Response to The Detroit News Article "College degrees sadly becoming too 'soft' to matter"

Okay it's around 11:00 pm. I spent the entire day telling myself I would be asleep by now so I could wake up earlier in the morning, but I still have a crap ton of energy. So I' going to put said energy into responding a recent Detroit News article.

My initial reaction was to be grossly offended. It seemed to me to be another one of the myriad of news articles about how my generation pales in comparison to the last. Most of the newspaper articles of that sort seem to have more of a rational to them, but this one just seemed to say. "In my day college meant something." And I thought I shook my old man fist. (For those who are reading this and none of my other stuff it's a running gag.)

I hate those types of articles. I will not deny that my generation is in a precarious position, but quite a bit of that is due to factors beyond our control. It is not only that the economy is down, but that it is changing. The very nature of work is in flux. The previous generation made covenants with its employers. "We will stick with you and you will stick with us." For us there is no such expectation in either direction. We must look out for ourselves, and that is not the only change. There is not a road map for us to deal with it. We all must simply feel it out, another article for another day.

After pondering the article more, my temper cooled. I have said similar things on occasion. Am I being hypocritical? Yes, but I am only human. I will admit some time is wasted in college, but to say that the majority or even a large portion of degrees are completely useless is a bit extreme. Furthermore, the second half of the article is so annoyingly hyperbolic that even though I partially agree that some of the individual classes that students in college are required to take in college to graduate are wastes of time, I cannot agree that the university experience is so intellectually and economically insignificant that it risks causing a second holocaust and/or the collapse of the republic. Unless the whole thing was ironic and I just didn't catch it. (You can't see it, but I have a raised eyebrow right now.)

Note: Graduated from Michigan State University in December 2010 with a degree in Journalism.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Southfield Planning Commission May 18, 2011 Meeting

Planning Commission meeting held May 18, 2011 in Southfield Michigan.
Topics include
  • Family and Group Day Care Homes
  • Parking requirements for recreational facilities
  • Pawn Shops
  • The Face to Face Art Project

Untitled from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two Review

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
Beastie Boys

Wow. Wow. Awesome. The production and beats are mind blowing. The lyrics are great. It's a diverse album with different moods. In all honesty, I can't think of anything bad to say about it. I should have made it a 5 but didn't want to give it a perfect score.

Okay think Miles. Well I guess I'll just have to describe the album. First off there is no part one at least not yet. While the Beasties were in the process of making it MCA was diagnosed with cancer. During his treatment some things got shifted around.

The album has sort of an old school feel with new school production. I have to be honest. One of the things that turns me off in music is when there is no or very little percussion, (I'm looking at you Gorillaz) especially in rap where the beat is half of the goddamned point. The Beasties don't have that problem. Here there will be snares and high hats. The thing is though where an old school production might have stopped after the drums or at least not far from them the Beasties take it further and deeper. If you're going to blend electronica into hip hop this is how you do it. (Scowls at the Black Eyed Peas)

One thing that is sort of weird is that on my system at least sometimes it becomes a bit difficult to hear the lyrics. That said, the production is so good I didn't mind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Southfield City Council Meeting May 16, 2011

The Meeting was held in Southfield Michigan on May 16, 2011

Topics include
  • Face to Face TED Project
  • Recommended 2011-2012 Budget
  • Increasing Pawnshop license and garage sale sign fees
You can listen to audio of the meeting here and here.
Note: To download to an MP3 player or computer right click and and click save link as.

An agenda and related documents of the meeting can be found here.

Omar Bin Laden Statement Response

Roughly one week ago The New York Times published an article reporting on a statement made by Osama Bin Laden's son Omar Bin Laden. Before I continue allow me to say that the younger Bin Laden forsook the path of religious violence his father chose. He was not a terrorist.

He however did, in the statement released after his father's death condemn, the United States for not putting the elder Bin Laden on trial for his crimes. The mission to take down Osama Bin Laden was a kill mission not a capture mission.

I empathize with some of the arguments made in the statement. In the war on terror we have always said that one of the primary differences between ourselves and the terrorists is that we respect rule of law, which includes the rights of the accused. At the end of the day, everyone deserves a fair trial even, though I am reluctant to say it, him. In this we did make a moral compromise, however we came to that compromise because Osama Bin Laden is such a special case.

One thing that concerns me is that people have attempted to use ethos as the reason that he is a special case. He is not a special case because of his crimes or the emotions evoked by them. He was a murderer. All murderers by definition cause death and all murderers cause pain, sorrow and anger for the victims' families, who wish for justice and perhaps vengeance.

What makes Osama Bin Laden a special case is the risk involved in capturing him as well as putting him on trial. If the mission had been a capture mission it would have been more dangerous, and a trial would agitate and perhaps even embolden Al Qaeda.

In the end he was a man who lived by the sword and died by the sword.

City Council Budget Presentation Video

City Administrator James G. Scharret presents the Southfield, Michigan recommended 2011-2012 Budget to City Council.

Note: When I originally went to the meeting I didn't intend on getting video so I was not prepared mentally or technically for it. As a result the video may do some weird things (It's difficult holding a cellphone that way for that long) and I eventually ran out of battery so I only have about the first hour. However you will eventually be able to listen to audio of the whole thing. Also what I have here is in two parts.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Michigan Department of Transportation Meeting Regarding Closure of Southfield Freeway

This meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on May 11, 2011 allowed the public to ask questions regarding the M-39 Corridor (Southfield Freeway) Closings / Improvements.

You can listen to audio of the meeting here and here.
Note: To download to an MP3 player or computer right click and and click save link as.

You can also find more information here and here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is College Worth

Last night I was recording a school board meeting. The first hour and a half of it was student recognition. Due partially to boredom and vindictiveness (I couldn't stand student awards when I was a student and wouldn't have even gone to my own graduation had my parents not forced me.) I was becoming a wee bit frustrated. A lot of that is because I am well... a douche, but part of it was a legitimate concern.

I kept getting the impression that that the people involved viewed college as an endgame. I am living proof that it's not.

Not long after graduating from college I had a conversation in the kitchen with my mother. She was attempting to persuade me into returning to school. While there are practical reasons why I declined achoo. Ultimately I told her that I was tired of being a student. I told her that if I had a chance to do it all again, I probably would not have gone to college. For the past two years I've felt that I've sunk too much time, effort and money into college not to get a degree but if I had to do it again I wouldn't. I went into college without an idea of what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it and at the end of the day feel that before making such a huge life investment you should know exactly why you're doing it. People don't treat college like the life decision it is.

The conversation continued with my mother asking me what I got out of college. I said academically very little. Most of the classes I took I knew were inapplicable to what I wanted to do. There were a few classes that changed my perception and taught me something, yes, but those were the minority.

What I really obtained from college was not academic. It was a general shift in paradigm. Being away from my parents for the first time in my life I was able to discover what portions of my world view I inherited from them apply to me and which ones don't. Here they are.

Division of Labor
Just because you work hard doesn't necessarily mean your skills will be comparable to others. There are other factors involved. It's okay if you're not the best at something. Find what you're good at and for everything else find someone else to help you.

What makes people smart
When I was in high school I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I thought I was smarter than everyone else. Then went to college and found out what real talent is like. You know what I found out. There was no difference in personality. The difference was that the gifted kids had found their thing. When I was doing homework I would do it, but in my head there would be stuff I would rather be doing. These guys had found that thing they would rather be doing. The math wizes got a kick out of solving problems and would do it even in their off time. The musicians loved rocking out on the weekends. They had all found something they like and care enough about to learn about and work hard at without prompting. All that made me want to find my thing and for right now it's writing.

Don't Ask Permission
What I hated about college is that for the most part nothing matters. If you do well on an assignment the only people who care are you, your parents, and your professor. This is what made me so nihilistic about the whole damn thing. College on its own is meaningless. Students need to find ways to make it matter. I did it by starting a blog. Someone else might do it by trying to get published or competing. You need to find a way to make what you learn in the classroom applicable to outside of it.

Not everything people think is important is
Every professor expects you to work hard in their class, but here's the rub. Not every class is equally difficult or valuable. The key to success is learning when something is literally not worth your time. If you're getting an A in one class and can afford to skip it to work on a project for a class you're getting a C in maybe you should. People talk like it's all a matter of cutting out the fun stuff, but sometime it's not. It's a matter of learning what you can afford to put off or not do and what you can't.

Southfield Public School District Board Meeting May 10, 2011

Southfield Public School District Board Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on May 10, 2011.

Topics include
  • Student Recognition
  • New Microphones for two High School Auditoriums
  • Solar Power Investigation
  • Southfield Lathrup Medical and Natural Sciences Academy
  • The new International Baccalaureate program
  • Ipad Purchases
Audio of the meeting can be listened to here and here.
Note: To download to an MP3 player or computer right click and and click save link as.

An agenda and documents for the meeting can be found here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Southfield City Council Regular Meeting May 9, 2011

Regular City council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on May 9, 2011.

Topics include
  • Telegraph Road Reconstruction
  • Rain Gardens
  • Two Tax Abatement
  • TED Art Project
  • The Mayor's Proposed Budget
Audio of the meeting can be found here and here.
Note: To download to an MP3 player or computer right click and and click save link as.

An agenda and related documents can be found here.

More information about the JR TED art project be found here.

Southfield City Council Special Meeting May 9, 2011

Special city council meeting for Southfield, Michigan held May 9, 2011. In this meeting the council speaks with the Oakland County Commissioners over issues of mutual importance Southfield City Council Special Meeting May 9, 2011.

Topics Include

  • Not duplicating services
  • Improving communications
  • Redistricting
You can listen to audio of the meeting here and here.
Note: To download to an MP3 player or computer right click and and click save link as.

You can also obtain a packet and agenda of the meeting here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Quick Log of the Week Without Internet

I haven't posted in while mainly because I was without internet here is a log of my experience. Also let me be clear. Everything else was working fine so did not want to do a clean install and risk losing programs and documents. Also since I am writing this from memory the dates are approximate.

4/30 - Fuse Blows

Yeah my folk's house was built like 40 years ago and we haven't had a major electrical overhaul in that time. Which means it's not designed to take a modern electrical load. Sometimes you can work on a computer and watch Netflix over Xbox at the same time. Sometimes you can't.

4/30 - Fuse Blows Again During Start Up
Yeah because I was watching a good episode of Eureka, I decided to start the Xbox and computer at the same time and hope for the best. Of course some registry and/or system files went caploe.

Also for a long while my restore points have been acting wonky so that wasn't an option.

4/30 - Start randomly checking plugs and adapters
I should have just gone with what my instincts were telling me. I had a software not a hardware problem. Checking the plugs and restarting the modem and router didn't help so I decided to give up and just. watch TV the old fashioned way. Through Comcast on demand. Cool beans I discovered the magic of True Blood.

4/31 - Borrow dad's laptop and see if I can't find a fix.

4/31 - Reinstall drivers for network adapter.
Didn't work.

5/1 - Call Tech Support
A. Microsoft - Why do they make you pay for that crap. I remember the days where as long as you registered your product to prove you paid for it support was free.

B.HP- My cell was running out of power so I only got half way through the machine phone stuff.

C. Geek Squad - My parents bought geek squad protection for my computer but I really don't trust them so I called only as a last resort. They told me what I already knew. That there was no reason why my internet should malfunctioning from at least an ISP and adapter perspective. Everything else was getting internet and the green light in the back of computer by the adapter was on. They wanted me to bring it in for a diagnostic. Deserved reputation or not, I just don't trust them with what I often call my right arm.

5/1 Reset windows Socket
Prior to this my computer couldn't even detect my network. Now it at least saw it and connected to it with limited access but alas no internet.

5/2 - Discover that DCPH Client service doesn't start
Huge break though. Those not in the know this is the thing that lets your computer automatically get ip addresses from your router. I was getting a error 1079 when I tried to start it in services.

5/2 - Uninstall Norton 360
Don't ask me why I tried it but it didn't work.

5/2 - Mess around in the registry to make sure everything had the right permissions. Did not help or hurt me. And yes just for the record do not mess around in the registry if you can avoid it, especially if you don't know what you're doing.

5/2 - Decided I needed to do repair install of windows but didn't have an install disk.
Same deal as with tech support. I still have the windows 95 disk that came with my first computer. This stuff used to be free with the product as it should be. Anyway I spent my twilight hours trying to map out a way to pay for a new copy of Windows 7.

5/3 Order a new copy of Windows 7 from Amazon

5/4 Back up documents on an external hard drive.
I knew that a repair install should leave everything intact but I didn't want to take any chances.

5/4- Windows comes. I asked for one day shipping.

5/4 - I find out I need to install Service pack 1 in order to install a new version of Windows 7.
Figuring out how to do that without internet took some thinking. I considered ordering an install disk of it from Microsoft. Ultimately I downloaded an iso of it from the Microsoft Download center on my dad's computer put it on a flash drive and mounted the image.

5/4 - Uninstall Age of Empires III and Freedom Force
The repair install told me these programs would have issues. To be fair they always have on Windows 7. And I almost never play those games.

5/4- Do the repair install
For other folks who need to do this instructions can be found here and here.

5/5 Reinstall the programs I uninstalled and update windows.
Doing the repair install took pretty much all night so I spent the morning trying to get my computer back into a state of normalcy.

5/6 Update Firefox
Less to do with the repair install and more to stop it from acting wonky and telling me that I should.

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.