looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage


So I'm sitting in the Service Department lounge at the local Toyota dealer. There was one guy here sitting in the optimum laptop location, but he got up to settle his bill, so I've taken it over. It's a little desk near the phones, and there's a power point next to me, but so far I haven't taken advantage of it.

My service appointment was for 9:00am, and as usual I got up at 8:00, showered, fed the cats and kissed my wife and drove off to the Centennial Hills commercial park to check the car into the local Toyota dealer's Service department.

I told Gregg the Service Guy about the things we wanted checked out, said I'd be back in an hour and a half, and then wandered down the road to the Sams Club/Walmart shopping area. Time for my own service: a haircut.

It's pretty cold outside, so I was wearing Lisa's scarf - the red tartan one that reminds me so much of Dad's - and my grey woolly hat for warmth. Snow on the mountains... there's a high layer of overcast cloud but the Sun is hitting the top of Mount Charleston, which looks great with it's own grey-white woolly hat of snow.

Yesterday, after we picked up D from the airport, we called in at Fry's Electronics and bought an external DVD Writer. I've been getting very nervous about the Gigs of audio files that I have not been backing up, and my personal data directory is now so big that to do a full backup takes five separate CDs. And you know what that means - the more trouble it is to back up, the less likely it is to happen. My last full backup was 6 months ago. If something happened... well, I'd be sad. DVD writer drives of various kinds have been coming down in price for the last year, and it seemed like the right time to get an external USB one that we could swap between our various computers.

There are various competing formats of DVD disks, with various levels of compatibility between them. DVD-ROM, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW - it's a confusing mess.  It seems that DVD+R is more compatible with regular DVD players, and looking at the range of blank media on sale, the +R/+RW formats seem to be more available.  HP seems to have completely switched over to the +R format, and their slogan is "the plus means compatible".  Other companies are hedging their bets. SONY for example have a well-reviewed DVD drive that does everything.

While selecting a drive to purchase, I was sure that I was selecting one that did both formats, and so I didn't pay attention when grabbing a bunch of blank DVD-R discs.  However, upon returning home and installing the drivers, etc, I discovered that it could not recognise the discs, and alas, it turned out that the drive does +R, +RW, but not -R/-RW.

Argh! The good news is that +R seems to be preferable, and will probably win out in the long run.

So - back to the point of all this, after my haircut I walked over to Radio Shack to buy some DVD+R media. No joy - they have plenty of CD-R/RW blanks, but no DVD. Ok, no problem, it's just a little further to walk to Office Max or Curcuit City.

Circuit City was closed until 10:30am, which was still 45 minutes off, but Office Max was open and a fair choice of brands of blank DVD media to choose from.

Then I walked back to the Toyota Service Bay (via Starbucks for a double-shot latte and a 20-minute sit down with the latest Analog SciFi magazine).

Upon arriving back at the Toyota dealer, Gregg the Service Guy told me the news: we need new brake pads and wiper inserts (confirming our suspicions), and the squeaking we could hear in the air-conditioning fan turns out to be the bearing in the fan motor, which needs replacing. "Luckily" they have the part in stock, so I told them to go ahead with all the items and retired back to the lounge.

So now, with nothing else to do and no distractions, I find myself able to relax and think about writing a diary entry. And having written all that, here's Gregg walking up saying that the car is ready.