Little Annoying Things

personal, process comments edit

This is going to be one of those entries that sounds like I’m whining about a bunch of little insignificant things, and you’re probably right. Unfortunately, it’s the aggregation of all of these little things that’s making me nuts right now.

Dead Battery Thursday night I left the dome light on in my car, resulting in a dead battery Friday morning. Jenn left for work early, before me, so when I got in the car and found it not willing to start, I was alone and screwed. Luckily we have AAA, so I called the roadside assistance number to get someone to come out and give me a jumpstart. They told me they’d be there in 45 minutes.

An hour and a half later, the guy finally showed up. It took two minutes for him to hook a portable charger up to my battery and get the car started. Lesson learned: don’t be in a hurry if you need roadside assistance.

Power Windows Due to the battery going out, my power windows started acting wonky. They’d still go up and down, but I have this feature where you push the button down until it clicks and the window goes all the way down without you having to hold the button. That feature stopped working.

I figured it was a fuse or something and started picking about in the fusebox trying to figure out which one was burned out. There are like five fuses for the power windows (which is weird because I only have two windows that do anything). Thinking there might be some advice in the power window section of the owner’s manual, I flipped to that section to find no discussion of fuses at all.

Of course, there’s a tiny blurb in the middle of everything that tells you that if the battery goes dead or power becomes disconnected, the “auto power window” feature will disable. It further provides instructions about holding buttons down for a certain period of time to “reset” the system. Grrrrrr.

Instant Messaging I use instant messenger a lot. We use it at work, I use it at home… I have three messaging clients installed (Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, Office Communicator) to make sure I can get in touch with people and people can get in touch with me.

What I have noticed is that there are two types of people using instant messaging clients: those that mind the status message and those that see it but somehow believe it doesn’t apply to them.

What do I mean? Tell me you don’t have that friend or relative who will send you an instant message and expect you to chat chat chat even though they know you’re at work and you have your status set to “Busy” or “Do Not Disturb” because you’re trying to get stuff done.

Here’s a quick primer for the people in the cheap seats:

Status Windows Live Communicator Google Talk
DO talk to me - I’m available Windows Live Communicator online status indicators  
DON’T talk to me unless it’s super important Windows Live Communicator busy status indicators  

Yeah, this makes me look like a big dumb antisocial jerk, and I guess I’m going to have to live with that. But when I’m at work, I’m generally working and, especially lately, under the gun to get a product ready to ship. Email is a great way to catch up or drop me a link to the latest gadget site you found online that I need to see. When I’m at a stopping point or take a break, I’ll be sure to check it out.

Motivational Difficulties We’re at the tail end of the product release cycle so the work lately has been extra boring. Fixing defects like “this label contains a spelling error” and “this field has a rounding error” and whatnot is the spit-and-polish that’s gotta be done for the product to ship but it’s not the most stimulating work, to say the least.

I’m bored. Bored, bored, bored.

And, yeah, I’m sure it’s affecting my attitude. I’m not feeling terribly motivated to go the extra mile on fixing defects that, in many cases, shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I suppose I should be glad that really all we’ve found are little stupid defects and not some colossal “holy crap the site doesn’t work” sort of thing - it speaks well of the great team I work with - but it doesn’t make it any more interesting. I find it harder and harder to wake up and get motivated to get in here.

It’ll pass when we get out of this rut, but it’s a long tunnel to travel down to get to the light. They have free soda at work… I’m thinking they might want to put, say, free vodka in along with that. Heh.

Lack of Coordination I just finished up playing Lego Star Wars 2 (good fun) and have returned to Gears of War. I played through the single-player campaign on the easy difficulty, but before I jump online I want to play it through on the medium/normal difficulty.

The thing is, I haven’t got the coordination.

I have a great time playing the game, but in all seriousness, I’m having a hell of a time getting through the thing on the medium difficulty setting. I like playing games, and I like playing with other folks, but it occurs to me that if this is just the average difficulty, then it’s not going to be any fun for me. I don’t mind losing, but I do like to win sometimes, too. Hence the reason I wanted to get through at least the medium difficulty - to get good enough to maybe compete a little.

What I’m starting to realize is that I generally just suck at first person shooters. I can hold my own in racing games or fighting games or what-have-you, but I just don’t have the coordination to run around and aim and shoot that, say, your average 14 year old has.

That said, I’m not super great at racing games or fighting games or what-have-you, either. I’m passable. I lose more than I win, but I’ll win enough to keep me interested. I guess I just don’t have the time or inclination anymore to dedicate to any single game and get good like that. I get bored with it too quickly. I get tired of reaching that point at which frustration breaks you and you realize you’re just not going to be able to finish the level.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through Gears of War on the medium difficulty as much as I’d like to be able to. I guess that’s nothing new - I couldn’t get through even the second level on GRAW on the medium difficulty. It’s just frustrating.

Lip Sync and Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) I reached a point where I could no longer handle watching videotapes because of the sound and picture quality. I couldn’t put up with it anymore because it was too obvious and annoying on my home theater system. That very day I ran out and bought a DVD player and have never looked back.

As time goes on and I get better equipment - better speakers, better TV, etc. - I start noticing more and more things that bother me. Once I notice it, it’s over. I can’t not notice it anymore.

The thing that I’ve noticed lately is that the lips on the people on television and movies are not always actually synchronized with their words. Sometimes it’s dead on. Sometimes it’s just a little off. It might vary even through a single movie or TV program - one second it’s on, one second it’s not.

The problem is, it’s not any single cause. It might be the TV taking too long to decompress the image. It might be the cable box sending the audio and video signals with bad synchronization. It might be the cable feed sending the audio and video signals with bad synchronization. It might be crappy ADR work.

I’m actually noticing bad ADR work more and more. I have to chalk it up to bad ADR when I’m watching a standard-def movie on DVD that will have proper lip synchronization in one scene but be just slightly off in another. Generally when I notice it, the picture is actually just slightly ahead of the sound, so there’s nothing I can do. If it was the sound ahead of the picture, I’d pipe the whole thing through my receiver and add a delay to the sound. But it’s not - there’s no way I can add a “video delay.” It’s gotta be bad ADR. And just about the time I’m really annoyed by it, the scene changes and there’s no issue anymore.

Anyway, I’m just annoyed by a lot of little things lately. No one of them is very big, and they all sound stupid and petty, but it doesn’t make them less annoying. Here’s to turning things around, eh?