Friday, July 31, 2009

I hate Bank of America.

Never before have I had a bank that sees that you've entered a deposit, and then goes in and takes out the last 5 [cleared both online, in print, and in their system] transactions, holds them, rearranges them, and makes it so you have less money in your account than what you had balanced out.

This is ridiculous. I had 5 transactions that CLEARED the bank 100%, and yet BoA pulled them back out to hold them, to rearrange my current debits so I have $70 less than what I should have (based on my online, in print, and in their system records).

Then you ask - how can that be, and their answer? "Well our software isn't what the whole BoA uses so I don't know."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

King of Fighters XII: Kickin' it Old School

I received my copy of King of Fighters XII in the mail the other day from the creator to play and review for HGG.

King of Fighters XII

by SNK Playmore

Played on XBox360

Released on XBox360 and PS July 2009

Do you remember the days of heading to the video game arcade to play "the" game? When playing games were only $0.25 for each play? Do you remember the "old school" fighting games that came out in the early and mid-90s like Streetfighter? Like Anime?

If you can answer "yes" to any of those questions, then I invite you to check out King of Fighters XII, a new release (and 15th anniversary of the original) by SNK Playmore. The characters are hand-drawn and reminiscent of the old school arcade fighting games, and the detailed backgrounds are, well...."interesting" whether it be a stadium filled with people and a giant blimp circling around advertising hot dogs or a ritualistic platform in which the fighters are surrounded by a horde of chanting worshippers.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty of the game.....

First of all, the single player game is based on the standard King of Fighters 3 versus 3 concept. Before each match starts, each player (or player and computer) chooses three fighters to go up against the other opponent. You then organize in which order you want your fighters to fight. You start off with Fighter A versus Fighter B. If you get a K.O. on the other fighter, your fighter continues. It's basically a who can knock out the other player's three fighters first set up. There are a variety of fighters from a very obvious Anime girl to a large Rambo-looking guy. Because this game reminds me of 90s fighting games, expect some of the fighters to be rather "unique" in their fighting style (as in picking you up and bodyslamming you like a wet rag or Disco-dancing over you, etc.), the character line has been decreased, and if you're someone who expects a "story mode," you'll be disappointed.

A downside of the single player game is that the Game AI starts off high. This is not a "button-mashers" game (think 90s fighting games in which you could hit every button, make up your own combinations, and not have to worry about the actual combinations for each character). This is more of a must know moves type of game mainly in the single player mode. Randomly pushing buttons on your controller will not get you any K.O.s

On the Live version of the game, you have ranked matches in which the game pairs you up with someone of similar experience. This works out much better than the single player mode. In my first ranked match, I won. I chose my three fighters, and the other gamer chose theirs. There are standard "tells" just like the earlier fighting games: fighter is about to make a large move, they'll back up a few steps and such. I thought that the Live version of the game was much better (as far as playability) than the single player version of the game.

The game is marketed to persons that are fans of fighting games, Anime, and MMA; however, I really don't see any MMA fans actually enjoying this game. This is definitely a "I want an old school type fighting game on a newer platform" type of fighting game.

So if you want to kick it back to your childhood, then try King of Fighters XII, but be prepared for some tough AI right out of the gate.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

I got beat by an 8 year old.

On Saturday night, Andrew and I went over to Shane's house. Kim had a surprise bachelorette get together, and the hostess's husband and their two kids came to Shane's house (ages 8 and 12).

We had "Big Pie", including their XL pizza to make the kids' eyes bug out at its size, and then we played the Wii the rest of the night. At first, I was just getting tickled pink by the kids playing. So funny.

Then the one kid handed me the controller and said, " play."

We were playing "Punch Out!!" versus. I had seen the 8 year old's "technique" prior to playing him (we were calling it Parker Kwon Do). Instead of throwing his hands out punching, he would jump up and down and run back and forth at the same time. The funny thing is...he was winning.

So I play him. He knocks me out in Round 1....2.....and while my guy is "hulk-ified," knocks him out at Round 3.....KO! 8 year old wins.

I think the funniest part of the evening was watching Andrew attempt "Parker Kwon Do" though :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Life: it is good.

One dwindling hour left in my Friday, and the weekend is [finally] here. I don't really have anything exciting planned for this weekend. As a matter of fact, the only "real" plans that I have is Andrew and I going over to Shane's house on Saturday night to play video games and hang out. It is there where I will pick up my second copy of Harry Potter and the OOTP for the 360 that was shipped there by mistake (I love how I contacted the Seller as soon as I paid for the game and told him...only to be replied to seven hours later with, "sorry, I can't change the address.") Copy #1 only played 49% before popping up an "unreadable" error on the screen. Let's hope Copy # 2 is better.

I digress.

So things have been good. For those of you that don't know me personally (or don't see me day to day), our manager is stepping down into retirement here, and we have a new manager. He's been the manager at our parent company branch up in NE Atlanta, and now he's coming down here. Work seems to be going okay. We've been bombarded with some international shipments, but nothing the four of us can't handle (which includes the new manager).

Andrew and I are still doing very well. We've been together a solid 10 months and still going strong. This September will be one year.

We've never fought.
We've never argued.
We've never upset each other.
We are just very happy.

Mom and Dad are doing okay as well. Mom has had some more health issues pop up and is borderline Diabetic (her dad was Diabetic to the extent of sugar testing and insulin injections so she's worried).

We're headed down to Albany for mom's birthday mid-August. Andrew and I are taking the Tahoe, and I'm dreading that ride. The Tahoe is made for off-road driving...not highway, and it doesn't have any A/C either so....driving in a large built-for-off-road vehicle to South Georgia - whee! (If you're wondering why we're taking the Tahoe, it's because mom sends us back with furniture and stuff, and it doesn't fit in my Honda).

Andrew and I will start biking again soon. I have to introduce him to the SCT. Bobbie has been itching to ride "Jurassic Park" or "Labyrinth" again on the SCT as well. I think I liked "Labyrinth" more (stretch between Hiram and Rockmart) than "Jurassic" (stretch between Mableton and just before Powder Springs). Of course, I mention "Jurassic" and "Labyrinth" to Andrew, and he has no idea what I'm talking about...................he will.

That's about all I have, folks. I'm wrapping up here to wrap up at the office so I can head home :) Have a good weekend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Some of THE most talented puppeteers!

The above video is absolutely amazing. The puppeteers have the "horses'" movements perfected. If this show comes over here, I am definitely going!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

10 Things You Didn't Know About Harry Potter

(From Atlanta's Q100)

With Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opening in theatres, here are a few facts that you may not have known.

1. Hermione’s name was almost “Hermione Puckle. It has a sour tone to it, doesn’t it? J.K. Rowling thought so, too, and changed to something that suited the character better. Rowling has said that Hermione has a healthy dose of herself in there, as she was quite the know-it-all herself as a child. Hermione was originally going to have a younger sister, but Rowling never found the right moment to stick her into the books.

2. Gilderoy Lockhart, the insufferably vain professor and celebrity from “The Chamber of Secrets”, was based on someone Rowling knows in real life. The rumor is that she based him on her ex-husband, but she has been quite adamant about denying that. She said, “He used to tell whopping great fibs about his past life, all of them designed to demonstrate what a wonderful, brave and brilliant person he was. Perhaps he didn’t really believe he was all that great and wanted to compensate, but I’m afraid I never dug that deep”. “He’s probably out there now telling everybody that he inspired the character of Albus Dumbledore. Or that he wrote the books and lets me take the credit out of kindness.”

3. Hedwig, Harry’s Snowy Owl, isn’t entirely accurate. After the first book was accepted for publication, she found out Snowy Owls are diurnal. And it was during the writing of book two that she realized that Snowy Owls are silent, meaning that Hedwig’s knowing hoots and conversational noises weren’t quite true to life. She admits this was just a research hole on her part, but says readers should feel free to assume that her unusual talents are just part of her magical ability. Incidentally, although Hedwig is female, she is played by a male in the movies because females aren’t wholly white like males are.

4. Collecting unusual and interesting names and words has been a lifelong habit for Rowling. She has said that she loves reading lists of them, from war memorials to baby name books, and made it a point to remember her favorites. Some of them found a new home in the Harry Potter books. She makes up some of the words too “quidditch” is a Rowling original. She filled up five pages of made-up words that started with “Q” before she hit on one that sounded right. “Voldemort” and “Malfoy” were also invented.

5. If a muggle were to happen across Hogwarts, all they would see is nothing but a ruined castle with large signs on it saying ‘keep out, dangerous building.’ This might sound a bit suspicious to those of us in the States, but it seems like the U.K. is rife with castle ruins.

6. Fred and George Weasley were born on April Fool’s Day. Go figure. While we’re talking about the Weasleys, there was a Weasley cousin named Mafalda who got edited out of “The Goblet of Fire” in order to make room for the love-to-hate-her invasive “journalist” Rita Skeeter. That’s probably best as Ginny Weasley is supposed to have been the first girl born to the Weasley family for several generations, so scrapping Malfalda supports that back story.

7. Harry, Ron and Hermione all have wand cores based on their birthdays: the Celt assigned trees to people based on that kind of like we assign gemstones today. She had already assigned Harry’s holly-based wand when she discovered the Celt tree calendar and found that she had accidentally assigned him the “right” type of wood. She did the same thing with Draco Malfoy (Hawthorn wood). But Ron and Hermione both purposefully received wands based on their birthdays – ash for Ron and vine wood for Hermione. She didn’t carry this convention out for all of the characters, though.

8. Filch’s cat, Mrs. Norris, takes her name from the Jane Austen book “Mansfield Park”. Fittingly, Austen’s Mrs. Norris is also rather sour and bitter.

9. Snape was partially based on a teacher J.K. Rowling once had. She likes to write him, though, because she finds him such a pathetic creature.

10. As you probably know, King’s Cross station is where young wizards hop on the Hogwarts Express to get to school. What you might not know is that the station holds special meaning for J.K. Rowling: it’s where her parents met. They were coincidentally both headed to Arbroath in Scotland when they met on the train. King’s Cross was intentionally chosen as the gateway to Hogwarts in homage to Rowling’s parents.

Friday, July 10, 2009

20 Business Lessons Learned from Monty Python

Full Story: HERE

20 Business Lessons Learned from Monty Python
by Todd Mintz

People who think that all relevant business lessons can only be learned from business books or blogs are sadly mistaken. One can look to the arts for an abundant amount of inspiration and insight into today’s corporate climate. For example, of all the treatises and analyses written about the current economic crisis, no statement places the situation more blunty than Polonius’ quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be …”. Had more consumers thought about the ramifications of borrowing, the economy might not be in such a troubled state.

Similarly, while audiences laugh at the brilliant comedy of Monty Python, a closer examination of the show reveals its incredible insight into many aspects of the human existence, especially business and commerce.

Skeptical that there are indeed lessons to be learned from Monty Python? These 20 pearls of Pythonic wisdom will show you the light.

1. "Well, before he went he left a note with the company, the effect of which was how disappointed he was with your work and, in particular, why you had changed the name from Conquistador Instant Coffee to Conquistador Instant Leprosy. Why, Frog?"

In the quest to be new and innovative, brand managers sometimes feel the need to tinker with success (think “New Coke”). Their ego gets the better of their judgment and they push forth ideas they think are creative but are unsuccessful in the marketplace. The end result is that revenue tanks. If brand is strong, don’t mess with it; just adjust the peripherals in order to increase sales and industry share.

2. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, surprise and fear, fear and surprise ... our two weapons are fear and surprise ... and ruthless efficiency. ... Our three weapons are fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency."

A corporate brand should have a consistent definition in the marketplace. If public confusion exists about what the brand represents, sales will suffer. If the corporate executives can’t even come to a solid definition of brand, how is the public supposed to properly evaluate its offerings?


3. "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

Obvious exceptions aside, conversations about your brand in the marketplace are usually a good thing. Consumers are overwhelmed with options, and if they see or hear something about your brand at the time they need to make a purchase decision, they are far more likely to choose it. If marketing professionals can keep a continual ongoing dialogue about your product in the public sphere, your company should see improved revenue.

4. "It's just a few friends call me Two Sheds and that's all there is to it. I wish you'd ask me about my music. I'm a composer. People always ask me about the sheds, they've got it out of proportion. I'm fed up with the shed, I wish I'd never got it in the first place."

Marketing also needs to strategically guide the marketplace conversation about your brand. A brand can get tarnished with a high profile blunder that can be very difficult to overcome. Such an association could stick in the minds of consumers and cast a pall over any future branding and marketing initiatives.


5. "Yes, it's one pound for a five-minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten."

Incentivizing bulk purchases is always good for business. In today’s economy, coupon-related searches are skyrocketing because everyone is looking for a bargain. Give the customer more reasons to spend more money with you: The margin might be less but the profit will be greater.

6. "Ah well, this is your free dead Indian, as advertised.
-I didn't see that in the adverts
-No, it's in the very small print, you see, sir, so as not to affect the sales."

A good way to irritate customers is to offer “disagreeable” terms and conditions that they don’t learn about until their transactions have already been completed. Sure, the customer might have “consented” and the vendor might end up collecting the additional revenue. However, this same customer will bombard customer service with angry calls, tell all of his or her friends about your company's poor policies and post hate messages on the Internet. It’s always more cost effective to generate repeat business from existing customers than acquire new customers, so companies should treat their patrons well.

7. “I'm afraid I'm not personally qualified to confuse cats, but I can recommend an extremely good service.”

Unless your business is the size of Wal-Mart, it can’t be all things to all people. It will be more successful if you do a few things very well instead of doing everything badly. If you can’t do a good job for a customer, you are better off referring him or her to someone who can better address his or her needs. You will gain goodwill both from the prospective customer (who will come back to you when he or she needs your core services) and from referral partners (who will refer relevant business to you).

Marketplace and Competitive Research

8. "So, in, er, three years you've spotted no camels?
-Yes in only three years. Er, I tell a lie, four, be fair, five. I've been camel spotting for just the seven years. Before that of course I was a yeti spotter."

It’s important to take an unbiased look at prospective commercial opportunities before investing much time and capital. Many potential business models appear to be new and innovative, but if demand doesn’t exist for the service or product, you won’t make money. It’s also important to dispassionately judge the success of these investments — if a mistake is made, better to cut your losses early than continue on an unprofitable path.

9. "The whole problem of Whicker Island is here in a nutshell. There are just too many Whickers. The light-weight suits. The old school tie. The practiced voice of the seasoned campaigner."

Many marketplaces are overcrowded and past their peaks. If there are too many similar established product or service offerings, a new player will not likely be able to penetrate the market in any meaningful way. If the newbie can’t significantly distinguish themselves from the established “old guard,” the new company is much better off finding a less crowded market that offers more opportunity for visibility and growth.

10. "Oh, I see. I hadn't correctly divined your attitude towards your tenants. You see I mainly design slaughter houses."

Before making a presentation pitch to a prospective client, it’s extremely important to research what they're about. An off-target pitch will waste time and kill any chance for a prospective business relationship.

Customer Service

11. "Now I'm going to ask you that question once more, and if you say 'no' I'm going to shoot you through the head. Now, do you have any cheese at all?"

The key to excellent customer service is honest, open, direct communication. It’s better to tell customers something they don’t want to hear rather than string them along only to ultimately disappoint them. When a customer believes he or she was mislead or her or she wasted a lot of time with no meaningful result, the customer tends to become irate and act accordingly. It’s not a sin to tell customers that you can’t service their needs and they should go elsewhere.

12. "I feel the time has come to complain about people who make rash complaints without first making sure that those complaints are justified."

It’s true that many consumer complaints are unwarranted and that some people have a propensity to whine about anything. However, an organization still has to take these folks seriously and treat their complaints as if they were justified. Trying to disprove the validities of these complaints would be a serious mistake; it would waste corporate resources and likely embolden the complainer. The right personal touch can turn these people from headaches into zealous advocates of your brand.


13. “I didn't want to be a barber anyway. I wanted to be a lumberjack.”

Many successful people have had rough starts to their careers. They’ve switched jobs multiple times until they found their calling — and once that happened, they excelled. However, if you stick to a career path that you don’t like, you will ultimately have incredible personal and professional dissatisfaction. Do what you’re passionate about, and you should be able to figure out how to make a living from it.

14. “Of course, it’s a bit of a jump, isn’t it? I mean, er … chartered accountancy to lion taming in one go … You don’t think it might be better if you worked your way towards lion taming, say via banking?"

When you do decide to make a career change, especially a radical one, make sure there is good reason and rationale for your decision. If you're questioning whether you're making the right choice, make the transition gradually and leave yourself an “out” in case you later decide you’ve made a mistake. Also, remember that you’ll be taking any and all emotional baggage from your old career to your new one, so try to proactively deal with the issues that hindered your former employment in order to avoid them in your new setting.

15. "I clean out public lavatories. Is there a promotion involved? Oh yeah, yeah. After five years they give me a brush."

Many people don’t effectively research a new position or employer. They are so excited that someone wishes to hire them that they forget to do due diligence on salaries, career path, bosses, co-workers, marketplace competition, etc. As dissatisfaction mounts, job performance drops and soon, the person is unemployed again.

16. "I am not a loony! Why should I be tied with the epithet loony merely because I have a pet halibut?"

The days of corporate drone employees have long since passed. Some of the best and most productive organizational members might have more than just a few quirks and eccentricities. It’s true that these folks might be scrutinized a bit closer by their supervisors. However, bottom-line business performance ultimately is all that matters in an organization, not the personal characteristics of its members.

Business Tactics and Strategy

17. "The only trouble is, you gave me the idea before I'd given you the pound. And that's not good business.
-Isn't it?
-No, I'm afraid it isn't. So, um, off you go."

Relationships with prospective partners that contain confidential business intelligence should always be governed by contract. Free and open sharing of information is done at the peril of the one sharing in absence of a contractual relationship because the recipient of the information could utilize it without giving consideration to the person that came up with the idea.

18. "The rules are very simple: each week we get a large fee; at the end of that week we get another large fee. If there's been no interruption at the end of the year we get a repeat fee which can be added on for tax purposes to the previous year or the following year if there's no new series."

In a tough business climate, it’s advantageous for a business to lock down a secure income stream. A company that doesn’t need to spend as much time in the sales channel can focus more efforts on marketing and product development which should lead to higher longer-term revenue. Also, it’s smart to lock in bonus incentives into any contract as it gives excellent incentive for peak performance.

19. "It’s only a flesh wound."

No matter how tough the marketplace situation, a business must put forth the image of a strong player. Consumers will sense “blood in the water” and shy away from a weak company, forcing the business to cut profit margin in order to keep generating revenue. If this vicious cycle continues to perpetuate, business stability will be threatened.

20. "A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, eh?"

In the business marketplace, you will run across players that are far less savvy and sophisticated than you. So long as appropriate business ethics are followed, it’s quite acceptable to crush them with the force of a 16 ton weight.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Twitter is creepy...

Twitter can be creepy.

Everyday, I receive an e-mail informing me that so-and-so are now following me on Twitter. Sometimes it's scammers or spammers. Other times it's people I don't know, check them out, and they seem fine.

Today was a creepy moment.

I receive notification that "John Doe" (obviously not real name) is now following me on Twitter. I log into Twitter, and I see "John Doe," and then I read what "John Doe" wrote to some other person he started following after she asked if she knew him:

"@femaletwitteruser Sorry about taking forever to reply. You probably don't know me. I just follow beautiful women at random."

"I just follow beautiful women at random?"

Serial Killer?
Weird Fetish?

Do you want us to put the lotion on the skin?

What the heck?! If you're going to follow someone on Twitter that is not a celebrity, maybe you should send them a message first.

FWIW, I blocked "John Doe."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A little secret...

Bank of America has a program called "Museums on Us." The first full weekend of every month, you can present your BOA debit card at selected museums and zoos and get in for free! (general admission)

There are no strings attached. Click on "Museums on Us" anywhere in this post, and it will take you to BOA's website for the program.


August 1st and 2nd

September 5th and 6th

October 3rd and 4th

November 7th and 8th

December 5th and 6th

January 2nd and 3rd

Examples of museums in Georgia:


Zoo Atlanta

High Museum

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Atlanta History Center

Millenium Gate

Tell-tale signs that rental/real estate ads on Craigslist are scams/fake

Every once in awhile, I'll look over real estate and rental ads on (Atlanta). It took me one time to receive a canned scam e-mail response before I decided to pick up on things. This list is just from my personal experience, and is not always true in 100% of the cases, but for the most part, they are:

1. The ad says "no pets" in the text, but the poster has selected that cats and dogs are okay.

2. You send an e-mail, regardless of its content, and you are responded with, "thanks for your interest. Before we can proceed, please go to this website.......and fill out the credit application so that we can run your credit." You should never....EVER.....provide a company with your social security number over the internet. If a landlord or real estate agency wants to run your credit, they will have you come into the office...after actually seeing the property...and have you fill out a credit check application at that time.

3. The headline reads $900/month, but the text reads something different.

4. If it's too good to be true, it is. If you see a 4BD/3BA house, fenced yard, swimming pool, in a nice area that is being advertised for $600 per month rent...for the entire property, it's a scam (or has a large gaping hole in the roof).

5. If someone tells you that they are a real estate agent ("RE agent," "RE," etc.), sends an e-mail from a yahoo, gmail, etc. e-mail address and want information from you, send an e-mail back requesting credentials (their office's telephone number, name, their RE license number, etc.)

Monday, July 6, 2009