HomeReserve Questionnaire #1

January 29th, 2012

So I’m working toward my Master’s degree and I’ve come upon the time to do my Capstone Project. For this project I am doing a home inventory system for things like food storage, craft supplies or whatever consumable items are used at home. For this project I will need a user group that I can get some input, feedback and eventual software testing out of to help me make the most useful piece of software I can for this project. Without users I can make something that may be awesome for me but useless for anyone else, so users are absolutely wanted.

To that end, here is my First Questionnaire for users. If you want to participate, please send your completed questionnaires to me at: violin_jedi@yahoo.com.br

If my questions aren’t clear enough, feel free to ask me questions in the comments or whatever other means of contacting me you know so I can clarify and get the best feedback possible.

And a thanks to all who do participate!

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Two New Projects

June 3rd, 2010

I’ve been busy of late, working on a number of things. First, I have my work and family that take up most of my time. Next, I’m in graduate school. Finally, I have a house with a yard that desperately needs care, which results in too many mandatory projects.

But, in the evening, when the kids are in bed, the homework is done (or being procrastinated), and the sun is setting, I have a couple hours to do – whatever. Okay, there’s dishes, cleaning and other stuff indoors, but that usually doesn’t happen while the kids sleep since they’re pretty light sleepers at indeterminate points in their cycle.

So with those couple of hours per day, I have two projects I’m working on. Neither one is really new, but I’m taking a fresh start on both of them.

The first project is a novel I’m calling “Bloodseal” for now. It’s about a high school kid named Braeden, who discovers he’s the living vessel for an old and powerful demon. He then must decide whom he can trust, pick sides in a war, and find the secret to controlling his newfound power before he loses himself to the demon.

The second project is for all those times when I sit down at the computer to write, but for one reason or another just can’t do it. It is a software development project. The software I hope to create is writing software. There are so many features I see writing software out there having, and many of them are good features, but what I haven’t seen (at least not inexpensively or without other complications), is a specific list of features I’ll be putting in my software. I’ll be writing it in Java, so hopefully I can find many plugins to do the hard work.

Some things I’d like this software to do:

  • Run on Windows, Linux, or Mac (I use Linux primarily at home)
  • Basic text editing and formatting (like Wordpad)
  • Tree oriented document structure
  • Full screen editing (bye bye distractions)
  • Skin-able backgrounds to get you in the mood to write (ie. not the same blue and gray windows you look at while doing technical work)
  • Version control (this includes tagging versions of documents as part of drafts)
  • Form inputs: ability to define forms, ability to easily use them to manage story data
  • Hot web interfaces to dictionaries, thesauruses, encyclopedias, search engines, etc.
  • Storyboard/Timelines
  • Other features as time and energy permit

So, that’s what I’m up to. I’ll likely be posting more about these projects in the future.

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Last week my wife had a scary experience. We had some old bananas she decided to turn into banana bread. All was well; she mixed the batter, preheated the oven and put the bread pans, filled with sweet batter into the oven. Normally, a small loaf of banana bread bakes for 25-30 minutes before it should even be checked, and probably needs 35 to be done. Around 30 minutes into the baking my wife, who had gone downstairs and away from the kitchen, noticed the smell of smoke. She ran upstairs to discover smoke pouring out of the oven.

Turning the oven off hastily and pulling the now blackened bread out and setting it aside, my wife couldn’t help but wonder what went wrong. She gave me a call at work to let me know what happened and get my insight as to what may have gone wrong. I double checked with her that she set the right temperature and time on the oven. She confirmed she did.

Then she noticed the top element of the oven was still on, glowing brightly with intense heat. She tried turning the oven off again but the control panel already thought it was off. Yet that element continued to heat. I instructed my wife to go to the breaker box and switch off the breaker to the range. At our house, as I am sure is the same for many others, the range has its own breaker switch so the only thing effected by the loss of power would be our range.

She complied and we waited a few minutes, breathing a sigh of relief together. Hoping the computer in the range just got confused we thought we might switch the power back on and see what happened. Much to our disappointment, the top element of the oven came on again and began glowing brightly before my wife switched the breaker off again.

After all that, we looked up the make and model of our range online to see what might be wrong. We discovered that many other people have experienced the same or similar thing with many models from our range’s maker. So, those of you out there looking for ranges, don’t buy Frigidaire, or Kenmore (same company). Some stories included fires, near fires and not even being home when the oven came one.

The problem, it seems is either the computer or a switch in the control panel or some temperature sensor somewhere. Either way, the range clearly doesn’t fail safely. I imagine the total cost of fixing it would be somewhere between $200 and $500 depending on the total number and cost of parts that need replacing (plus the cost of parts that don’t need replacing but the technician wants us to believe need it).

The cost then of a new range starts at $400 and goes up to $1000 for the type of range we’d want (though ranges can cost well over that). The big question becomes, to replace or to repair? Normally, if something like this broke I’d just want to fix what is wrong. But in this case I’m left to wonder – will this range, with whatever replacement parts fail again? If it does fail, will it be as dangerous as this time? Will we even be home? Will we be asleep? Will it get so hot it starts a fire or causes a burn injury?

I’m sorry Frigidaire, Kenmore. I just can’t trust my family’s safety, or that of my home, to you. Not only with this range, but with your entire line. I’ve read too many stories online about this problem and your denial of its existence. You should have learned to fix your mistakes early, to design safety into your system, even in failure. If your range immediately turned off and refused to turn back on at the first sign of trouble I’d be more confident choosing you in the future, but to stay on, over heat and become a fire hazard, even when commanded to turn off.

So here, is the true cost of failure, especially when it comes to safety. I can afford to replace my range, and that is a cost to me. But the true cost is that of confidence. Not only will I lose confidence in the safety rating this range supposedly met, but I will lose confidence in Kenmore to meet safety ratings on any of their models. I only hope I can still place confidence in another company to provide a range that won’t give me nightmares.

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Site upgrade, Games coming…

December 15th, 2009

Hi everyone. This site has long become stale and I’ve been meaning to change that. Jamie has decided to retire her journal section of this site and I’ve been itching to blog. So, I’ve upgraded this site to use WordPress and created a theme that I like (tweaks may be forthcoming).

While I am retiring much of the old content in favor of the new blog oriented format, I do want everyone to still have access to my games so I will be posting those links in entries under a “Games” category.

Beyond that, I hope to be writing again soon.

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