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Nineteen Cents Short Of A Paradigm Posts

The Whole Stable

Posted in Blog

This morning while I was out for my walk, catching digital critters and waiting for the breakfast burrito place to open, I decided to see if I could take over and hold the three Pokemon gyms at the local mall for a photo-op…

Unicorns everywhere

There’s a big public stable across the street from the mall (between these gyms and the one in the distance there), so I guess it’s fitting in a way…

A new thing (for me) this week was the discovery of “The Dollar Store”. I’ve seen these places around, but I’ve never gone into one – assuming they were full of nothing but weird kitschy things that no one would ever actually need.

Well, there’s one of these stores in the local mall, and on one of my walks I decided to go in and look around… You know, to add a half mile to the walk while in the air conditioning of a store…

I left with three sacks of groceries for $18.

Now, granted, this is the modern incarnation of the Generic Store that my Mom used to frequent back in the 80’s, so the quality is pretty much “safe for human consumption”. But I’m not horribly picky. And if it saves me $40-$50 a week, I’ll eat stuff that tastes a bit like a name-brand but not really. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, I guess I’ll be adding the dollar store to my weekly grocery trips, because for the stuff they have that I actually need is about a third of the price of a regular grocery store.

Commute Appliance

Posted in Blog

First up, the Murano hit 15,000 miles…

Dusty… Been driving around with the windows down. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve had the Murano for three years now. Three years and three days to be exact – and in that time I’ve averaged about 416 miles per month.

Just not a lot of miles when all you do to drive back and forth to work, and work is three miles away from the house…

Anyway, this combination of low miles, a well documented and meticulous maintenance record, and the car being in pristine condition means that for the last few weeks I’ve been getting a lot of offers from dealerships to sell it or trade up.

See, there’s a ‘chip shortage’ that’s impacting the planet due to various socio-economic factors that have been ruining lives for over a year now. And being as every car these days is about 50% CPU it means they can’t build new cars – and if they can’t build new cars they can’t sell new cars… So every dealership only has like a dozen or two ‘new’ cars on the lot these days, and all of them are base-model junk that only the desperate will buy.

This means that dealerships are paying a premium for anything that isn’t base-model just to keep cars and customers flowing.

I have a tendency to buy top-trim versions of whatever I buy, and accordingly my Murano is the “Midnight Edition” model. 2018 was the last year for that trim level, so it’s pretty stand out and kind of desirable for anyone looking for a luxury crossover / SUV / station wagon-on-steroids…

So the offers I’ve been getting are pretty good…

The first one I took seriously was on Monday evening; a local Chrysler dealer that I purchased my old 300S through offered me $29,000 for the Murano in trade for a 2021 300S Hemi they had on the lot.

Thinking this would be a fun car even with gas being $4 a gallon, I went to go talk to them yesterday morning… And in the time it took me to get over there they sold the car to someone else.

See, new cars that aren’t base-model junk are pretty much Unicorns right now. The sales-guy I talked to at the Chrysler dealership mentioned that people are literally ordering cars and waiting months for delivery or buying cars in-transit sight unseen, so everything pretty much arrives at the dealership already sold.

The only reason the 300S they offered me was even there over the weekend is because it’s a $50,000 RWD sedan that gets 16MPG if you’re going downhill with a tailwind – and that doesn’t mesh well with Denver’s new California dude-bro electric car / bike / scooter demographic or the native ‘murica! AWD / 4WD SUV demographic.

I initially figured this was just a sales tactic; a variation of the old “I’ve had a dozen people look at this car today, so if you don’t buy it now it won’t be here later” ploy. But, no – he was telling me the truth. Everything in the showroom was sold and just waiting for people to pick them up…

The dealership had essentially become a place with a lot big enough for a car-carrier truck to deliver the stuff people have bought sight-unseen, and where they do the sales paperwork.

Anyway, I declined to order a $50,000 400HP RWD sedan and wait for delivery, and decided to just keep the Murano. So I headed back home with a stop at Taco Bell on the way.

When I arrived home there was an offer in my email from the dealership where I bought the Murano; $33,000…

I did some quick back-of-napkin math and figured this could be beneficial; the Murano is really nice, but it’s huge and doesn’t fit into the garage easily, and I simply don’t know enough people to make use of the plush leather back seats… Someone has sat in the back seat exactly once since I bought it in fact.

It’s also an amazing highway cruiser – which would be amazing if I ever went anywhere. And it made moving easy because it’ll comfortably swallow an entire house’s worth of knickknacks in one shot. But I’m tired of moving and if it happens again, I’m paying someone to deal with it for me…

So, maybe I could take advantage of this turn of events and down-size on the cheap.

A check of the dealership’s travesty of a website (Seriously, why do dealership websites suck so badly?) showed two options that were smaller than the Murano; the “Rogue” and the “Kicks” – the latter being a mid-$20k compact crossover with front wheel drive and 30+ MPG in-town… And with the top-trim and the extra bells and whistles would meet my sound-system and gadget requirements.

So I put my lunch in the fridge and drove back across town to the Nissan dealership to see what they had that I would be interested in…

Nothing.

They had one Rogue in the showroom, but it was 7-up colored and pretty basic – and they wanted too much for what it was so I skipped it. There was also a Kicks on the lot that had just arrived – also a base-model – so I could at least test drive one.

Unfortunately the Kicks was still in ‘shipping mode’ which is an anti-theft limp-mode and no one could figure out how to get it out of that mode… So my test drive was around the mostly empty lot.

It drove fine though, and while I was orbiting the lot they checked their other lots and found an electric-blue Kicks with all of the features I wanted up on 104th. So I said I was interested in the car up on 104th and would take it.

Fifteen minutes later I was informed that it had been sold while I was testing out the limp-mode base-model.

Sigh.

Over the next hour they search every dealership in a hundred mile radius, coming up with three cars that were optioned how I wanted – but it turns out they were all sold as well.

The general manager comes out to mention that he was really sorry and that he usually has 180 days of stock on hand, but these days it’s about five days because of the new car shortage and because anything that comes in has already been sold by the time it arrives… He reiterates that people are either ordering or buying cars that are still in-transit.

A few minutes later he returns and states that he’s located a car with the options I want, and it’s guaranteed I can buy it – because it’s still on the assembly line. This also means that it’s three weeks out from delivery. But if I wanted to replace the Murano, this was probably how it was going to go down pretty much anywhere I went.

So, ultimately I sold the Murano to the dealership last evening and bought a 2021 Nissan Kicks SR in ‘Boulder Gray’ with every possible option… A bit over $26,000.

Boulder Gray is basically battleship gray for Millenials by the way, and is apparently really popular as every auto maker offers it now. Being former Navy I find this milspec paint trend to be pretty comical, but it is what it is.

Anyway, it was an odd sale because I’m still driving the Murano for the next three weeks, but it has dealer plates on it and is basically a rental.

Another busy week

Posted in Blog, Gaming, and Work

No updates this week. I was pretty much fully involved with the ongoing Google debacle at work, or working on Second Life things.

The former might have finally resolved yesterday afternoon… A different one of the eight actual humans employed by Google asked me a lot of questions like “What specific hardware will be used?” and “What Software / APIs will be used?” Most of the answers were “I don’t know, Google is supplying the hardware / software / data / etc.”

See, all we’re doing is exposing people to some Google Gadget which will record their unique human variables for storage and analysis – in accordance with our expertise at doing this sort of thing – and then boxing up the Google Gadgets and shipping them back to Google.

For some reason this means I need to give Big-G permission to evaluate my network – which isn’t happening and you can tell Google is confused at being told “no”.

In SecondLife I finally got around to finishing the live music stage and the DJ / dance party areas. I also updated the marina to be less texture dense.

The live music stage. SL has a pretty big live music scene. The empty spot to the right is one of the two parcels in the middle of my land that I’m trying to acquire.

The re-textured marina. Two of my neighbors are up on the hill on the other side of the road. To the left is one of the parcels I’m trying to acquire to “complete the set”…

My island. The house has been redone to be more of an office for my in-world stuff. Oh, and my boat. ๐Ÿ™‚

The DJ area and dance floor with its fancy lighting and amazing views. You also get to see the waterfall on the back side of my island.

An overview of Hikuelo Cove. I own pretty much everything south of the road with the nice landscaping (and those trees/rocks in the middle on the other side). The area on the left I’m trying to buy but it’s probably a memorial, so I do what I can to block the pile of fullbright prims… There are two parcels between the stage and the marina as well – one of which is another annoyingly bright light-source. People in SL rarely have any sense of design. Hehe.

Small Cars…

Posted in Blog

I went over to the local ultra-mega-mall yesterday just to wander around, look at things I can’t afford, and catch Pokรฉmon.

See, the mall has more than a dozen “PokeStops” which are points of interest like art installations, trails, historical monuments, churches, and other interesting and publicly accessible features. There are also three “gyms” which are similar to a pokestop, but where teams can plant their virtual flag and defend it with their digital critters… Other folks can try to defeat the gym’s inhabitants, and then put their own digital beastie in there to guard it.

It’s all fairly passive though, so you don’t see Pokemon brawls breaking out when a team wins / loses a gym.

Anyway, in addition to wandering the mall and catching critters I was also there to find a new BBQ place called “G-Que” – which is supposed to be pretty good… I found the restaurant (it’s on the west-side of the mall, outside), but I’d already eaten so I’ll be back some other day to give them a shot.

When I wandered back into the mall I literally tripped over a dealer showing off a new car…

The ElectraMeccanica “Solo”, with 9 year old for scale

I’ve owned some small cars in my time; Fiat X-1/9, Fiat 500 Abarth, Porsche 914, etc, etc. but the “Solo” is even smaller than those.

It’s intended as a commuter car to run around town with, so it’s a single seater electric with about a hundred miles of range and a top speed of 80mph.

Yep, single seater.

The reason for this, according to the manufacturer anyway, is that something like 80% of all car trips are just the driver going somewhere. So this is that “I need to drive to work / store / mall / whatever” car…

And did I mention it’s small?

122″ long, 61″ wide, and 53″ tall

It does have all of the creature comforts of a modern car though; A/C, bluetooth audio, power everything, digital instrumentation, and even heated mirrors. It will also recharge overnight from a standard 110 volt outlet – so no need for special wiring in your garage just to use your car.

But, it’s also very Chinese. I mean, sure, the company is Canadian and the demonstrator was built well and had uniform panel gaps and joins – but you can still tell… They don’t come out and say this, of course, but I was able to discover the tiny single-seater is built by the Zongshen Industrial Group in Chongqing China. And that will undoubtedly be a sticking point for potential buyers.

It has enough trunk space for a few bags of groceries – but that’s about it

All in all it’s a neat idea, but I’m not sure Colorado is a good market for these…

We have these things called seasons here, and half the year the roads are even more crap than usual – and this ‘car’ weighs 1700 pounds, has a single drive wheel – in the back, and has four inches of ground clearance. So for a good part of the year this will simply be a road hazard if it leaves the garage.

Been a long week…

Posted in Blog, and Work

Between arguing with a potential client about doing intrusion testing on my network at work and failing web-apps, it’s been a tiring week.

For the former, because I don’t keep dedicated security people on-staff a potential client is insisting that I spend thousands of dollars on a third-party penetration test… For a potential contract that will net slightly less than the penetration testing will cost.

I run my own tests quarterly, but that’s not good enough for this client.

The latter is our time tracking system that uses a collection of PHP that was originally written in 1998 and then I essentially re-wrote in 2018.

Yesterday afternoon it exploded spectacularly when I restarted it to close the SQL port that the QA Director insisted on, in preparation for a potential third-party audit. On reboot it attempted to update the SSL cert, couldn’t because the OS isn’t supported by CertBot anymore, and then Apache exploded.

The problems this web-app faces are simply due to age. It wont work with any PHP after 5.5.9 without a total re-write and PHP 5.5.9 wont install on a modern OS. So I have to run a five year old version of linux in order to run a five year old version of PHP to run a twenty year old app because the powers that be like the way it does reporting.

Oh well. I sent the aforementioned powers an email last night explaining that they got lucky that I was able to resuscitate the time-tracker, and that the dire warnings I’ve been giving them for years now about finding a new system are now imperative.

Let’s see if they pay it any heed.