04/19/2017: Issues getting Windows 10

Yesterday, I finally downloaded my copy of Windows 10. My desktop computer has been running Vista 64-bit since around 2008. And, with each new Operating System (OS) release, I’ve considered updating, but never did. Over the past year, I’ve been seeing a fair number of applications that I use no longer offer Vista support. So I decided that maybe it was past time I upgraded. And, I choose Windows 10, because it is the most recent OS. I’ll write later on my process of upgrading, but this post is about my issues obtaining a copy of Windows 10.

Windows 10 is sold primarily in two ways; a USB drive or digital download. Thinking that I would be easier, I opted to buy the USB drive. My retailer of choice was Amazon.com, but the the USB drive was out-of-stock. So, I went with my second choice, NewEgg.com. They had the USB drive, but it was about $10 more than what Amazon had listed. So, I decided to see if I could get it directly from Microsoft. They had it listed for the same price as Amazon, so I decided to try them out.

On March 21st, I placed an order with the Microsoft Store for a USB drive containing Windows 10. I opted for the free shipping, which was 3-7 business days. That would mean that I should have the USB drive anywhere from March 24th to March 31st. I received an email later that day with a tracking number. It said, “It may take up to 24 hours before your tracking and shipping information is reflected on our website, so don’t worry if you don’t see it right away.” So, I was not surprised that the tracking showed, “Pre-Shipment Info Sent to USPS, USPS Awaiting Item”.

When nothing arrived on the 24th, I checked the tracking and the status had not changed. Having worked with USPS before, I knew that they would often miss updating tracking, yet it was concerning. So, when I still had not received anything on the 31st, I decided to contact the Microsoft Store Support via chat.

The support person I chatted with could not confirm that anything had shipped. She could see that the order was placed and could see the tracking number showed no activity. At first, she told me that the quoted timeline was wrong, and it should be 7-14 days. When I asked if she could confirm that it was actually sent out, she said she could not, so she put in an inquiry and someone would get back to me.

A week after the chat with support, on April 7th, I received an email from someone they they were looking into my case. I responded back to the email, asking if I could just cancel the order or convert it a digital download. When I did receive an answer, I responded back again on April 13th, asking the same question.

By the 14th, I still had not received a response via email. I was getting very frustrated at both the lack of product and the lack of responses. It was now over three weeks (18 business days) since I placed the order and a week since I received the email with no response. So, I contacted the support via chat again. The person who I spoke with in chat said that my case was being investigated, but said that he would also escalate it and I should expect someone to reach out to me in 24-72 hours. So, I was back to waiting.

The next day, on the 15th, I received an email from the escalations department, asking to speak to me over the phone. I call him and he says that it looks like my order was completed, but just was left at the warehouse. He offers me either a rebate or to switch to digital download. I opt for the digital download, so we start the process over the phone of getting that done. When we are almost finished, his tools stop responding, so he asks if I can call back on Monday. I’m happy that things are moving forward, so I agree to call back.

During a slow period at work, I call the person I was speaking to on Saturday. His tools are working again, so he finishes the process within ten minutes. He apologizes again and tells me that he is also giving me a small refund, due to my troubles. The next morning, at home, I download the ISO and burn it to DVD.

Despite the service at the end, my experience was very negative, so I’m not certain I would every order from the Microsoft Store again. It took them almost a month and four different people to get me a product that I could have received within a week from Amazon with no hassles. Yes, it could have been an anomaly, but given that it was my first and only experience with them, I don’t feel confident in ordering from them again.

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04/06/2017: Too much caffeine

At some point between when my daughter was born and recently, I went from drinking coffee on Fridays and Saturdays to drinking around four cups daily.

I know the increase was mostly because of the lack of sleep that I had been getting due to raising a child. Like most addictions, after no longer feeling the stimulation from the first cup, I started drinking a second. Then, after two cups no longer worked, I moved onto three. And once three was not enough, the fourth cup was introduced. Yet, I would still fall asleep if I sat still for too long. So, I started the day with some chocolate or cookies to get a “sugar buzz” to assist with the caffeine. Before I knew it, the stimulants had taken over.

Now that my daughter is sleeping in her own bed, she has been sleeping longer, which means I get to sleep longer. No more 2-4 hours per night, more like 5-7 hours. I’m still not back to my 8-9 hours that I got before she was born and I am not anticipating getting there any time soon. So, I have decided that I need to reduce my stimulants.

After seeing that I gained 10 pounds in the past few months, weaning myself off the chocolate and cookies came very quickly. As for the coffee, starting at the beginning of March, I have reduced my coffee intake to two cups a day. My plan is that after the 19th of April, I will drop that down to one cup per day. From there, I can assess on how much more I can reduce it. Also, my daughter’s sleep habits should be getting better, so I am hoping to get more rest at night and rely less and less on stimulants.

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03/29/2017: By the (Seattle) numbers

Starting January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for the City of Seattle (for individuals not making tips and in a company with 500 or less employees) is $13.00.

$13.00 Seattle Minimum Wage (no tips, less than 501 employees)
x 40 hours Typical work week
$520.00 Gross weekly pay
x 4 weeks Average weeks in a month
$2,080.00 Gross monthly pay
x 12 months Months in a year
$24,960.00 Gross yearly pay
– $3,283.00 Federal taxes for 2016 (single)
$21,677.00 Net yearly pay
÷ 12 months Months in a year
$1,806.42 Net monthly pay

The rule of thumb is, you should spend 30% of your income on housing. If you are a single person, working for a business that has 500 or less employees and do not receive tips, the Seattle Minimum wage of $13.00 per hour. You should be paying between $624.00 (30% of gross wage) and $541.93 (30% of net wage) per month.

Cost of a 1-bedroom apartment in different areas around Seattle, along with the distance they are from zip code 98101 (central downtown Seattle). The apartment prices are provided by Zillow.com

Area Zip codes/Area Distance from 98101 Cost
Downtown Seattle: from Lake Union cut (north) to I-90 (south), from 15th Ave W. (west) to Lake Washington (east) 98101, 98102, 98104, 98109, 98112, 98119, 98121, & 98144 0-4 miles $1,075-$2,461
South Seattle: from I-90 (north) to S. Boeing Access Rd., from Duwamish River (west) to Lake Washington (east) 98108, 98118, 98134, & 98144 1-6 miles $1,100-$1,937
West Seattle: from Elliott Bay (north) to SW Barton Street (north), from Elliott Bay (west) to Duwamish River (east) 98106, 98116, 98126, & 98136 4-8 miles $995-$2,147
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03/17/2017: By the (WA state) Numbers

Starting January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for the state of Washington is $11.00 per hour.

$11.00 Washington State Minimum Wage
x 40 hours Typical work week
$400.00 Gross weekly pay
x 4 weeks Average weeks in a month
$1,760.00 Gross monthly pay
x 12 months Months in a year
$21,120.00 Gross yearly pay
– $2,705.00 Federal taxes for 2016 (single)
$18,415.00 Net yearly pay
÷ 12 months Months in a year
$1,534.58 Net monthly pay

The rule of thumb is, you should spend 30% of your income on housing. If you are a single person, making the Washington Minimum wage of $11.00 per hour, you should be paying between $528.00 (30% of gross wage) and $460.37 (30% of net wage) per month.

List of Counties, County Seats, and the average cost of a one-bedroom residence (all information was collected from Rent.com):

  • East of the Cascades
    • Adams County
      • Ritzville: No data
    • Asotin County
      • Asotin: No data
    • Benton County
      • Prosser: No data
    • Chelan County
      • Wenatchee: $1,025
    • Columbia County
      • Dayton: No data
    • Douglas County
      • Waterville: No data
    • Ferry County
      • Republic: No data
    • Franklin County
      • Pasco: $880-$930
    • Garfield County
      • Pomeroy: No data
    • Grant County
      • Ephrata: No data
    • Kittitas County
      • Ellensburg: No data
    • Klickitat County
      • Goldendale: No data
    • Lincoln County
      • Davenport: No data
    • Okanogan County
      • Okanogan: No data
    • Pend Oreille County
      • Newport: No data
    • Spokane County
      • Spokane: $412-$1,200
    • Stevens County
      • Colville: No data
    • Walla Walla County
      • Walla Walla: $540-$750
    • Whitman County
      • Colfax: No data
    • Yakima County
      • Yakima: $525-$675
  • West of the Cascades
    • Clallam County
      • Port Angeles: No data
    • Clark County
      • Vancouver: $720-$1,560
    • Cowlitz County
      • Kelso: No data
    • Grays Harbor County
      • Montesano: No data
    • Island County
      • Coupeville: No data
    • Jefferson County
      • Port Townsend: No data
    • King County
      • Seattle: $950-$2,200
    • Kitsap County
      • Port Orchard: $895-$1,100
    • Lewis County
      • Chehalis: No data
    • Mason County
      • Shelton: No data
    • Pacific County
      • South Bend: No data
    • Pierce County
      • Tacoma: $725-$1,995
    • San Juan County
      • Friday Harbor: $800-$1,550
    • Skagit County
      • Mount Vernon: No data
    • Skamania County
      • Stevenson: No data
    • Snohomish County
      • Everett: $695-$1,340
    • Thurston County
      • Olympia: $775-$1,225
    • Wahkiahum County
      • Cathlamet: No data
    • Whatcom County
      • Bellingham: $775-$1,095
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03/13/2017: By the (Federal) numbers

Since July 24, 2009, the Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 per hour.

$7.25 Federal Minimum Wage
x 40 hours Typical work week
$290.00 Gross weekly pay
x 4 weeks Average weeks in a month
$1,160.00 Gross monthly pay
x 12 months Months in a year
$13,920.00 Gross yearly pay
– $1,625.00 Federal taxes for 2016 (single)
$12,295.00 Net yearly pay
÷ 12 months Months in a year
$1,024.58 Net monthly pay

List of States that use the Federal Minimum Wage, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment for March 2017, and the percentage of the Net Monthly Pay of those making minimum wage:

  • Idaho
    • Boise: $740 (72%)
  • Indiana
    • Indianapolis: $720 (70%)
  • Iowa
    • Des Moines: $720 (70%)
  • Kansas
    • Wichita: $500 (49%)
  • Kentucky
    • Lexington: $630 (61%)
    • Louisville: $690 (67%)
  • New Hampshire
    • Manchester: $1,110 (108%)
  • North Carolina
    • Charlotte: no data
    • Durham: $960 (94%)
    • Greensboro: $640 (62%)
    • Raleigh: $990 (97%)
    • Winston-Salem: no data
  • North Dakota
    • No data
  • Oklahoma
    • Oklahoma City: $650 (63%)
    • Tulsa: $590 (58%)
  • Pennsylvania
    • Philadelphia: $1,250 (122%)
    • Pittsburgh: $1,080 (105%)
  • Texas
    • Arlington: $810 (79%)
    • Austin: $1,160 (113%)
    • Corpus Christi: $870 (85%)
    • Dallas: $1,250 (122%)
    • El Paso: $620 (61%)
    • Fort Worth: $980 (96%)
    • Houston: $1,120 (109%)
    • San Antonio: $880 (86%)
  • Utah
    • Salt Lake City: $800 (78%)
  • Virginia
    • Norfolk: $730 (71%)
    • Richmond: $940 (92%)
    • Virginia Beach: $930 (91%)
  • Wisconsin
    • Madison: $910 (89%)
    • Milwaukee: no data

The rule of thumb is, you should spend 30% of your income on housing. If you are a single person, making the Federal Minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, you should be paying between $348 (30% of gross wage) and 308 (30% of net wage) per month.

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03/07/2017: 100% Daily Allowance of BS

A few months ago, I overheard one of my coworkers talking about how they were feeling a little “ill”, so they were going to take a lot of Vitamin C supplements. When I heard it, I realized that they were still under the belief that Vitamin C cures colds, despite it being debunked. After all, I did not learn about it until the lawsuit over Airborne.

After overhearing my coworker, I could have let them know the truth, but I decided against it. Why? Well, a few days prior, I had someone “unfriend” me on Facebook for debunking a claim on Facebook that the U.N. was planning to take over the United States. Yes, I was unfriended over letting someone know that a story being circulated around Facebook was false. So, I sure-as-hell was not going to cause trouble at work over letting someone know the truth.

It may be that I was completely naive, but I assumed that as information became more available, people would become more informed. With the internet at our fingertips, we would stop spreading hoaxes and falsehoods. Yet, it has not happened. Sure, some people are getting better informed, but there are still a lot of people refusing to fact-check or search for evidence to prove or disprove claims.

And, the worse part is, there are even people who refuse to believe proof when it is presented. This is the category that the climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers are in. Despite all the evidence against their belief, they still choose to believe.

Of course, I have to comment on the current U.S. President and his claims of “fake news” and his spokesperson’s use of “alternative facts”. This just enforces belief over evidence. In their case, I can understand why they would choose to keep the public ignorant. As Lao-Tzu put it:

“Therefore the Sage, when he governs, empties their minds and fills their bellies, weakens their inclinations and strengthens their bones. His constant object is to keep the people without knowledge and without desire, or to prevent those who have knowledge from daring to act.

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03/03/2017: How DC movies can win

In my previous post, I told why I did not like Batman v Superman. I was also going to make a post to why I did not like Suicide Squad, but rather than keep criticizing, I think maybe I should offer my advice.

One thing I did not mention was how much I enjoy the DC animated movies. Yes, for many years, DC has been putting out animated movies. In fact, a lot of fans of the comic books have known about the movies. But since they are animated, they don’t get as much as an audience as the live-action movies. This is a shame, mostly because the the live-action movies could learn a lot from the animated movies.

The first lesson is, we don’t always need a retelling of the origin story for every character. Even people who are not comic book fans know the origins of Batman and Superman. Batman v Superman did an awesome thing with Wonder Woman; it just threw her in and assumed that the audience knew who she was. And you know what? The audience did know who she was and still liked her.

You cannot change the fundamentals of the characters. I spoke about this in my post with Batman both using guns and killing people. This is not who Batman is. Being a dark, brooding individual is Batman’s role, not Superman’s. Which leads me to my next point.

Being “gritty” and “realistic” does not equal “murder-verse”. The occasional death is enough to set apart the live-action movies from the comic books. But in order for death to be “realistic”, it needs to also be rare. It needs to be feared by both the character and the audience.

My last point is about trying to compete with Marvel. It was very obvious that Batman v Superman was made in order to set up a “DC Universe” of live-action movies to rival Marvel. But since Marvel had many years and movies already, it was a rush to catch up, which is not what they should have done. As I mentioned before, DC already has animated movies. They also have some live-action shows, which I had not mentioned. At any point, they could have tied the live-action shows into the movies. This would have given then an established universe that they could expand on. Instead, they decided to create another universe and try to rush to catch up.

In the end, I am not anticipating that the current DC movies will do well. I’m guessing that within the next two years, it will be called a disaster by the studio and the plug will be pulled. As a comic book fan, I hate to see them fail. But, also as a comic book fan, I would like for them to be done right.

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