Category Archives: Kudos

Child Safety Seat at Packard Children’s Hospital

This week, my husband and I went to a car seat inspection at Packard Children’s Hospital. If you live near Stanford University and use a child car seat, it’s definitely worth making an appointment. At first I thought that it would be a quick appointment where they would show us how to install the car seat in the “best way.” It turned out that we learned different ways to install the seat, depending on circumstances, such as with or without LATCH or base. We also learned how to adjust and buckle the harness. Also, we learned how to put the car seat in and out the base without hurting our backs.

The amazing thing was that it was a free service. Appointment slots go pretty quickly so be sure to sign up a month before you need the appointment. If you are expecting, make the appointment for a month before the due date.

XM Service Issues 5/21/2007

On Monday 5/21, I was driving home and noticed that the XM satellite signal kept fading in and out along certain parts of the route. I take a different route in the morning and I knew for sure there was one or two flaky spots. I just wasn’t sure that there were so many in my route home in the evening. Since I have a bad memory I wondered maybe it was always an issue but I never noticed until then, when I was trying to listen two a couple of stand-up comedy routines and kept missing funny parts because the signal would drop.

This morning I no longer had to wonder if I would have to deal with missing comedy punchlines while driving home. I got an email from XM radio:

Service Degradation Alert

You may be experiencing temporary degraded performance with your XM reception at the present time. XM is aware of the issue and working diligently to resolve it as soon as possible. We anticipate full signal strength will be restored by early Tuesday morning.

As a customer, that is how I would like to see a company handle service issues. They acknowledged that we weren’t getting the best experience, and gave us an update and estimated time of resolution.


XM Radio Resumes Normal Levels of Service

XM Satellite Radio has resumed normal levels of service for customers who experienced outages or significantly degraded service starting yesterday.

The problem occurred during the loading of software to a critical component of the satellite broadcast system, which resulted in a temporary loss of signal from one of the company’s satellites.

After you turn on your XM radio, please allow five to ten minutes to reacquire the XM signal.

XM apologizes for any inconvenience this has caused.

Gapminder Is Pretty Friggin Cool

Even if you’re one who isn’t interested in stats and graphs, Gapminder makes statistics fun!

As of this post, the home page of the Gapminder tool shows a graph of the correlation between life expectancy and country’s wealth. Each bubble represents a country, with the size of the country proportional to bubble size. Clicking Play will show how the data changes from 1975 to 2004. Clicking on one of the bubbles/countries will have the bubble show a trail through time. For example, the big red bubble representing China would be something to click on to see its progress through three decades.

Below are some stats I wanted to highlight. Some are obvious, but the graphing is interesting. Usual statistics caveat: Correlation does not equal Causation. Remember to hit Play to see the stats change over time.

Richer countries have greater internet penetration

Percent of women in labor force vs Country wealth: There are countries with a relatively high percentage of women in the work force across the wealth spectrum. Most of the “wealthy nations” have high percentage of women in the work force. The Middle East is an exception, where there are rich nations with low percentage of women in the work force.

Child mortality decreases as contraceptive use increases among adult women, not implying causation, though.

Countries where girls were as least likely as boys to go to school were more likely to have greater internet penetration

Phone use vs Internet use: This is an interesting animation over time. It was if the internet just exploded on the scene. Countries with lower phone use penetration also lagged behind in internet use.

Here is a video of Ola Rosling giving a presentation on at a Google Tech Talk:

He is an entertaining and engaging presenter.

This one hour video makes a good example of how handy it is to be able to watch videos on my tv via my Wii. I can lie out on my couch or however while watching. I could lie down watching the video on my laptop, but I don’t have as many comfortable positions available.

Super Paper Mario is Fun and Funny

After my ups and downs and then up again with getting Super Paper Mario as a birthday gift to myself, I should provide an update after playing it for a few days.

SPM is one of the funnest video games that I have ever played. Its 2-D / 3-D mechanism is a refreshing change of pace. I’ve cracked up out loud when a blocked off item seemed impossible to get only to find out that in 3-D, the obstacles weren’t that game-ending. The dialog and story is as funny as others have described. There are lots of twists and turns and terribly difficult ordeals that turn out to be less difficult, either by luck or by using my brain.

The puzzles are rewarding to solve. They’re not as difficult (to me) as Legend of Zelda so that I can figure them out on my own, most of the time, and when I do, there is a nice sense of “cool, I figured it out on my own, plus props to the game designers for their creativity and cleverness.” Basically, the puzzles are challenging and engaging without being obnoxiously impossible.

The game doesn’t take itself too seriously, often poking fun at itself and characters. There is even teasing of the game-playing demographic. Any game that manages to put in a reference to DVRs gets full geek cred. :)

When I am stumped, there is a fortune teller who offers helpful hints perhaps most of the time. Sometimes she’ll give advice to do something that I already did. :P

I guess it’s a good thing that it’s too early for there to be complete guides for the game, so I feel less tempted to follow one as Zelda necessitated. However, when I needed help, Nintendo’s forums had posts that answered my questions on how to figure out something.

If I had to suggest an improvement, I would wish I could get more play time out of it. It seemed as if it took me longer to finish New Super Mario on the DS, but maybe it’s just that SPM is so compelling that I can play it for hours on end, and thus shortening the time period from start to finish.

Kudos to CA DMV

Last Friday as I walked to my car after work, I noticed that the year sticker was missing from my license plate. :( It either fell off (unlikely) or it got stolen. I’ve heard of people stealing tags but geesh! I doubt that it occurred at work but I couldn’t exactly remember the last time I saw the tag intact. The most likely place would be in San Francisco when I parked on the street.

My dad had told me to use a knife or something to slit the tag in places so if someone were to try to remove the sticker, it would be in pieces. I am unsure if I did it for the tag but I’ll be sure to do it from now on.

Fortunately, my license registration was up for renewal and the DMV had already sent the renewal form asking for payment 2 months in advance. I am usually a procrastinator and wait to the last moment… and have had to rely on the one month grace period for expired tags… This time, I wasted no time. When I got home, I checked the DMV website to see if there were any Saturday openings. Some offices are open on Saturday but only once a month. Unfortunately, the DMV wasn’t open that Saturday.

So I did my registraton renewal online. I saw at one point something about “5 days”. I thought, “yeah right, maybe they’ll look at it in 5 days.” For the following days, I had to drive in fear that I would get pulled over by police for not having the tag.

One week later–5 business days –I got my new registration and tag. Maybe it was in my mailbox earlier but I don’t check my mail everyday.

Yay for the California DMV for quickly processing and sending out the registration stuff! Just in time for the 4 day weekend. :)

Update: When I put on the new sticker, I saw a corner of the previous sticker under my license plate frame. By “under”, I meant that the frame hovered over the sticker; it didn’t keep it in place. If the sticker had fallen off, there would have been no way that everything but the corner fell off. Someone had definitely intentionally taken my tag. :( What a world we live in.

On the bright side, it’s much better that they stole the tag instead of the car itself.