…and back to your regularly scheduled website

Sorry about that down time, apparently, a little billing mishap occurred and my site went down for a few days.  It’s amazing what happens when emails aren’t sent to your correct addresses.

And since I’m talking like I’m in a commercial, I’ll give you a preview of what to expect on Lane Holloway dot com in the coming months.  First, more content about programming process and design.  Second, more content about programming in Java and Scala and, if I get the time, Clojure.  Thirdly, I’ll talk about some of the newer things out there like “Big Data” (gotta have the air quotes).  Fourth, since I’m taking a class about SAT solvers, I might work up some articles on SAT solvers and some of the issues surrounding them.  It’ll help me understand them more and perhaps, give you, a chance to get your feet wet with them.  Lastly, I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll find something interesting to write about.

Anyway, coming up next will be some articles about programming.  I’ve got a few in the pipeline for y’all. 🙂

Say hello to my new daily driver, 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI

After changing jobs and working at a job that is much more stimulating to me I soon found out that my choice of daily driver was not exactly the best choice anymore.  As much as I loved the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the fact is, it never caused me any issues unlike the M5.  The only issue with the Cayenne was the gas mileage; now I’ll admit I’m a bit of a lead food when it comes to driving, but I was spending way too much on gasoline each month for even my lead foot and wallet to handle.  Even adjusting to driving slower was not helping me.  So the choice came down to figuring out what I wanted to do.

I started out looking at hybrids, such as the Prius, Fusion Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid and the like and the Jetta TDIs.  After getting to ride in and drive the hybrids I marked them off the list pretty quickly since I did not find them very fun to drive.  The Jetta TDI sedan and wagon were both a lot of fun to drive – so that narrowed my choices down to choosing between a sedan or wagon and a manual or DSG transmission.  Now, this seems like an easy choice, but it is damn near impossible to find a Jetta TDI exactly how you want it.  So you basically have to go with what they’ve got at the dealerships.  Luckily, in Austin there are two VW dealerships; and one had sedans and the other had wagons.  Of course, the first thing to do was to find out how much the Cayenne was worth as a baseline for trade-ins at other dealerships using CarMax.  If the trade-in value is close, it’ll make up for the taxes saved on trade-in, if not, you know to sell the car to CarMax.  The baseline price I found out from CarMax on Wednesday, even though it took most of the night.

Now, dealership number one was right after CarMax.  They had two identically outfitted sedans (both with DSG); and I test drove one of them.  Immediately I knew this was a fun car to drive and I could more than likely live with driving one on a daily basis.  After the test drive, we started working numbers to see if something could happen.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it happen with the trade-in, they were 5k under CarMax’s offer, however, the deal was a very good deal.  It was past their closing time when it was concluded so I went home a little disappointed, but feeling pretty good about the decision to change cars.

The second dealership was the one with all the wagons at it.  They also had one sedan — in manual.  I test drove the manual sedan and wow.  That is a really, really fun car to drive.  The power band was quite nice and the transmission was one of the smoothest I’ve used.  However, I wanted the DSG, so I started looking through the wagons just to see what there was.  I found a red wagon with DSG and the panoramic roof and decided that would be a nice car, but I would still like to know if they could get me any sedan with DSG and the iPod connector.  This of course, was Thursday.  The salesman said he’d find out tomorrow (being today, what sedans he could get and let me know).  This of course, leads to today.  There were no sedans available, but I told him I’d be interested in the red wagon with DSG and the panoramic roof if it could have an iPod adapter installed.  After a few phone calls, I bought the car (basically over the phone negotiations, it was kind of odd).  I agreed to buy the car about 4pm and then set off to my house to get the last of the stuff out of my Cayenne Turbo and put the instruction manuals into it to be sold back to CarMax.

I was out of my house and at CarMax by 5:00pm and then heading toward the VW dealership after selling my car by 5:45p.  Then, I was out of VW with my new car at 7:45p.  This, cats and kittens, was a record for the Holloway family.  The first time a car has been bought at the dealership and we’re out of the dealership before midnight.  In fact, I did two car related things in under 3 hours.  This was seriously amazing.  And the car kicks ass as well — not as powerful as the Cayenne Turbo, but I’ll happily trade some of the power for the ridiculously upgraded miles per gallon.

Canceling TiVo

Who would have thought my next post would be about me canceling my TiVo service?  After canceling my NetFlix account, I realized, I really haven’t watched TV in a long time and wouldn’t really miss the TiVo service, because honestly, if I miss a show, I miss a show and I know it’ll be played again multiple times in the near future.  Also, I just haven’t had near the time (or inclination) to sit down and watch TV there are many other things I’d love to do besides watching TV.  So, here is to canceling TiVo and NetFlix and gaining an extra $30 a month for doing something else with. 🙂

Canceling NetFlix

Yes, you read that right, I canceled NetFlix.  I love NetFlix and think it is a great service, but I still canceled it, now let me explain why.

NetFlix was first given to me as a Christmas present by my brother in 2009.  I immediately fell in love with the instant streaming, so many movies available right away and I was watching movie after movie of everything I thought I wanted to buy and soon found out, I didn’t.  But, NetFlix did allow me to see these films for only a few bucks a month.  I didn’t even care about renting their DVDs.  Fast forward a couple months and I’m finding out that I don’t have the time to watch the movies on NetFlix as much and on top of that, they’re going to up the fee by an extra dollar.  At this point I was a little ticked that they upped the fee for having the ability to receive DVDs by a buck and seeing a lot of the movies I wanted to watch on Instant Queue be moved into the “we don’t know when they’ll show back up” category, they were becoming a little worthless to me.  Why should I pay $10 / month when I don’t have time to even watch a single movie or TV show from NetFlix?  The answer is, I shouldn’t (nor should you :)).

So, I made the executive decision last night to cancel my NetFlix subscription.  Is this a stupid thing to do or a smart thing?  As of right now, I believe it is a smart thing to do.  It was $10 / month that was going toward something that I honestly wasn’t using and now it’s making me think I’m going to see about canceling my TiVo subscription as well.  Why should I be paying for a service I’m not going to use and haven’t honestly used in over 8 or 9 months?

New battery for the car

A few days ago I had decided to drive the 911 out to meet some friends at the wonderful German food place near my house.  So, I took the time to pull the cover off the car, give it a quick dust off, move my other car out from behind it, then hop in and then hopped in to start it.  Alas, as you can guess my the name of this post, it didn’t happen.

I figured what the heck, I only drive the car a little bit a year and I hadn’t driven it in over two months, so it’ll just need to be jump started and I can do that later.  I finally got around to later yesterday evening.  And, I tried jumping it, which was no good.  So I let it sit for a while with the other car running to see if it would charge up the battery enough to start it.  And that didn’t happen either.  So taking my a multimeter to it, I found out I only had a 9V reading across the terminals.  Yep, a dead battery.  Sucks to have to buy a new battery, but this time I’m being smart(er) and procuring a trickle charger as well.  That way I can hopefully prevent this from happening again anytime soon.

Dyson DC28 Animal Vacuum Cleaner

I needed a vacuum cleaner and had been wanting a Dyson for awhile.  Today, I decided to scratch that itch since Best Buy has all their Dyson vacuum cleaners for 20% off.  I checked out the Dyson website and see which one would best fit my needs then headed off to Fry’s and Best Buy to play with them and see which one I wanted.  I checked Fry’s because you never know when Fry’s is going to pull one of those ridiculously amazing sales they don’t tell anyone about, however, there was no crazy insane sale today.  But I got to look at the entire Dyson line and it was between the DC25 Animal and the DC28 Animal vacuum cleaners.  The DC25 Animal is one with the rolling ball and a little lighter than the DC28 Animal, but it is narrower by 2″.  Since I’m lazy when it comes to vacuuming, I chose the DC28 cause an extra 2″ isn’t going to hurt sucking up dust and animal hair from the floor.

Pulling the vacuum cleaner out of the box and setting it up is a two minute ordeal and the instructions are all graphics so you don’t need to be able to read to put it together (like me… I can’t read… sad state of affairs when you can be in graduate school and fail to be able to read, but I digress).  After putting it together and taking it upstairs I vacuumed a room I had just vacuumed the day before and I was amazed at the amount of additional dirt and dog hair the vacuum pulled up.  All told vacuuming the upstairs resulted in  four emptyings of the container on the vacuum.  And this was in rooms that I had vacuumed the day before as well.  Makes me wonder how much stuff the previous vacuum was missing.

Sure it is a little pricey, but I believe you get what you pay for, and of course, I didn’t just buy this with a simple web search to see how great they were.  I had a friend who has had his Dyson for the past two years and says it was the best vacuum he has ever bought and felt stupid for not buying it sooner.  Can’t say I feel the same way yet, but with the way it cleans and how quiet it is.  I definitely recommend looking at one for your next vacuum cleaner.