Skip to content

Month: March 2021

Retro Memories : TV Dinners

Posted in Blog, and History

Back in the 70’s and 80’s the TV dinner was something of a weekly tradition. Sure, mom would make meals from her meal-plan most of the week, but a couple of days; Friday and Saturday night usually, dinner came in an aluminum tray.

Back in the 70’s it was Mean Joe Greene pushing “Hungry Man” dinners on TV that kind of made it okay to not slave in the kitchen a couple nights a week.

Someone needs to tell Mean Joe he’s letting all of the cold out of the freezer… You do it.

And in the 80’s, with the addition of the microwave and microwave-safe TV dinner trays, it became even more okay… I mean, you bought a microwave, and they make microwave meals to put in said microwave, so – why not?

The 80’s even had TV dinner brand warfare… I recall “The Budget Gourmet” being a big deal around our house…


Anyway, the reason for this trip down questionable culinary memory lane is that today I found a local restaurant that is making old-school TV dinners, but with higher quality ingredients…

Same partitioned foil, same cardboard cover, way better taste and texture.

I gather the reason for this menu expansion is the controllavirus… See – no one was allowed to go into a restaurant for several months last year, and even now places that pay the state extortion fee can only open at 50% capacity… So, you have a restaurant, and freezers full of food, and a staff to prepare that food, but you can’t serve it because zombies – what to do?

Apparently you buy a truckload of to-go tins and have the cardboard lids printed – and presto! Retro TV Dinners!

Anyway, these are really great and are basically what you see on the cover. They’re old-school in that they require a 350 degree oven and 30 minutes to an hour to prepare, like the TV dinners of yore – but the time is definitely worth it.

They run $10 a piece (or cheaper by the half-dozen) and you can get them at https://www.lazydogrestaurants.com.

O365 : Day 1

Posted in Blog, Computers, and Work

Overall the first day post-transition from Google to Office 365 for my company was less painful than I expected, which means it was only a 12 hour day…

The lion’s share of the issues were with the marketing department; they are a collection of bad computer habits coated in thick layers of change resistance, impatience, and self-importance.

For example, the marketing director (who has always been ~70% of the I.T. Department support time), managed to totally wreck his 2FA setup by being impatient and pressing buttons. Fixing this required completely removing his account and starting over before we could proceed with the rest of the company.

This was followed by him being convinced the O365 migration was causing his web-based Gmail address population to take 5 seconds longer than normal… It was actually some browser plugin skimming every email he wrote, and once removed the problem went away.

Yes, he’s Captain Plugin and is probably the source of this ancient meme:

Then there was the auto-BCC thing that he needs because the sent items folder is too complicated. See, he has this thing where he BCCs himself so that emails he sends show up in the inbox, where he then files them accordingly… So there’s a copy in the sent items folder and a copy in his archives – which is why he has 130,000 emails in his account. Microsoft figures (justly) that this is stupid, so it’s not an option – until I create a custom mail-flow rule to do this just for him.

Of course, while I’m working on this, his impatience strikes again and he decides to try and create some weird forwarding thing and winds up setting some address that doesn’t exist as his reply-to… And I start getting emails from employees with the bounce messages when they CC him.

So I get him to undo whatever it is he did, get his BCC working, and think that’s the end of the day…

Nope – then he tries to load the OneDrive app on some local machine where he’s managed to break the ‘work and school’ account setup. So the OneDrive app gives him a nice, cryptic Microsoft error and he pops back up in my email at 5:30pm…

Comparatively, the nice admin lady sending me an email at 7am stating she didn’t have any of her Gmail emails in O365 – which turned out to be confusion over the fact that the www.office.com page isn’t Outlook – was simply comical.

Oh, and there was one account that still had some residual local Exchange data in it, so O365 hung at “creating a mailbox” again… At least I’d already figured that one out a couple weeks ago.

Probably the biggest ‘issue’ was one of the test teams using + addressing at Google for testing (and not telling me about it), but + addressing is still experimental at Microsoft and isn’t enabled. Enabling it involved a lot of fiddling under the hood of MacOS to get Powershell running so that I could fiddle under the hood of Exchange, but I got that working too.

And, to celebrate, I ordered a pizza, am currently sitting in my darkened office listening to Porcupine Tree, and having a big bowl of mellow. 🙂

Wild Life

Posted in Blog, and Photography

I’ve mentioned the forest in front of my house a few times, and it’s just full of critters; rabbits, squirrels, hawks, some foxes, and the neighbor lady swears there’s a coyote or two (I think she saw the foxes).

Anyway, it’s sunny, warm, and breezy this afternoon, which is apparently prime time for hawks. There were two of them hanging around out front; one pretending to be a kite, and the other watching lazily from a tree.

I’m guessing they were Red Tails as they had a good 3-4 feet of wingspan and the right coloring.

Retro Memories: On the bleeding edge of the 80’s

Posted in Blog, and History

The 70’s and 80’s were host to some fairly massive changes in people’s everyday lives. And looking back, it’s kind of neat to have ‘been there’ for it all.

These days there seems to be less innovation and more iteration. I mean, the main difference between 1993’s Pentium and 2021’s Core i9 11900k is that the latter is smaller and faster… And thats been pretty much the hallmark of the modern era; the same, but smaller and faster.

But back in the 70’s and 80’s we saw actual innovation that changed the world.

For example, I remember when my father brought home a microwave oven in the early 70’s… He worked for Raytheon, who had the patents on microwave cooking, and the unit he parked on a side table in the kitchen was an “Amana RadaRange” – an RR2 which is the original model with the two big dials and lots of chrome.

The dials were electro-mechanical timers that ran at different speeds; the upper dial was 0-5 minutes and the lower 5-30 minutes – if I remember right; that lower dial was rarely used. At the end of a cooking cycle it actually rang a mechanical bell as well, which led to “Ding! Dinner’s Done!”… The unit was also 1600 watts compared to todays 600 to 1000 watt ovens.

For the first couple of weeks we had the thing my dad kept checking the door seals and the vent on the side where the magnetron lived with an RF field strength meter – just to make sure. 🙂

Speaking of microwaves; it was also in the late 70’s that HBO, Showtime, and The movie Channel were being delivered via the 2.3Ghz ITFS band, and anyone with the technical acumen could build an ITFS downconverter and watch movies in the evenings for free… This only lasted for a few years, but it was the start of things like cable TV that spawned the 24/7 streaming services that we all now take for granted.

Then there’s gaming… In the late 70’s and early 80’s we got to see the very first console game machines be invented. My household had a PONG machine in the mid 70’s that was replaced with an Atari 2600 in the late 70’s… And now we have the Playstation 5 (if you can find one), which is the ninth generation of what started in the 70’s.

The home computer was another thing we 70’s and 80’s kids got to experience for the first time. Prior to the late 70’s, computers were the stuff of science fiction; you saw them on TV shows as panels of blinking lights voiced in a vaguely mechanical way by an off-screen actor.

If you were more of a computer nerd you knew of a specific computer model and could even quote the number of square feet it took to house each piece of it, but then the Apple II, TRS-80, Commodore PET, TI-99/4A, and Atari 400 happened – and everything changed.

Kids like me, who were in Junior / Senior High School and were just old enough to be hugely interested in this stuff, but still young enough to be able to pick up the language quickly, set about inventing the Internet everyone uses today.

It was a wild time.

Cold hard books…

Posted in Blog

As a thank you from my CFO for the last few weeks of epic cloud transition for work, I was told to go out and have a steak for dinner and to put it on the company card. So Scott and I went down to Parker and had dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse.

And, as I’m a card-carying Landry’s Club member and I still had my birthday reward available, I got $25 off the bill. So said steak dinner only cost my CFO $40, which will make him happy. 🙂

On the way back I spotted a new store in the mall at Parker and Arapahoe called “2nd and Charles” which touted having ‘books, games, tech, and more’ – so I opted to don my foreboding metal breath screen (aka mask) and go check it out.

Basically, 2nd and Charles is an upscale Goodwill store – or maybe even a 21st century version of the 80’s indoor flea-market; lots of collectable geekery, old books, old comics, tabletop and RP games, etc.

Scott bought like two linear feet of old sci-fi hardbacks from the likes of Niven and Clarke to stock the bookshelf in the living room… Kind of the ‘decorate with books’ trend mixed with books people will actually read. I think he spent $30.

I picked up three books myself; a 1989 printing of Piers Anthony’s “Unicorn Point” just because, a second printing of Steven R. Boyett’s “Ariel” which is the one he updated to make it mesh better with the 21st century – I’ve not read the updated version yet, and a pristine copy of Dave Sim & Gerhard’s “Church & State volume II” which handily replaces the copy I lost in 2002.

The sum-total for this collection of dead trees? $15.

Now to go sit in my rocking chair on the porch and enjoy a good book.