darkoshi: (Default)
I got my taxes done.

I made a pie with a chocolate filling. It's somewhat gooey, not what I was expecting from the photo on the box. But it's actually good, even though it also tastes oddly like it contains grape syrup mixed in with the chocolate. Based on the ingredients list, I can't imagine why. It contains alkalized cocoa, and the link I posted before indicates that the non-alkalized sort is the kind that's more likely to taste "fruity".

I also made some Waldmeister Goetterspeise which is a German jello with a unique flavor not found in the U.S. My aunt used to make it for me as a kid (with vanilla sauce on top!), and I still like it. The flavor isn't as intense as I remembered though.

I trimmed my hair a bit. It was tickling the back of my neck too much a few days ago. My torso gets itchy sometimes. When I scratch, the skin gets pinkish red, and small itchy bumps, widely scattered, appear. When I stop scratching, it goes away. I haven't figured out a cause. It's been happening for a few years now. (Of course, having written "torso" there, now a few spots on my arms and legs started itching.)

I'm over my cold, but still have a lot of phlegm. That always used to be the one of the worst parts of a cold, the weeks and weeks of snot that would only slowly diminish back to normal levels. So I did neti today for the first time in possibly 5 years. I stopped using neti around then, after reading warnings against doing neti with unsterile tap water. Well, I used tap water today, like I used to. Anything else is too much trouble. But after reading the warnings again, I may forgo the whole thing for another 5 years.

I used LJSec to delete my old protected posts from LJ, as that was something that had been on my to-do list for a while. There may not be much point in having done it, but at least it is off my list now. First, I did another import of all entries & comments from LJ over to DW, as well as a few backups of both my LJ and DW (with LJArchive), to make sure I wouldn't lose anything. The only problem with LJArchive is that imported comments don't show up with the user's LJ name like it does on the Dreamwidth pages, but rather with a generic ext_#### ID. If I have time someday, I'd like to see if I can update the utility to fix that.

A few weeks ago, I cancelled my Netflix subscription, as I was using it so rarely. Qiao has another Netflix account anyway, which I can use when I want to. He also has an Amazon Prime account for watching videos.

Last week at work, I was able to find the cause of another problem, and fix it. Well, I probably fixed more than one problem, but the last one is the one I remember. It gives me such a rush, a good feeling, being able to discover what obscure thing is making the code not work right and how to fix it, when I still don't even understand what half of the rest of the code is meant to do. I was thinking, I've been working on this same general code base, though it has undergone many transfigurations, for the past 22 years. I could spend my whole *life* working on it, and I still wouldn't understand it all, especially because it is constantly being changed. That made me think for a moment that maybe I should leave this job, just so that *whole life* part wouldn't come true. Eh. But whatever, this code or some other code, what difference. Hmm. Coming up on the end of the quarter. Wonder if they will have layoffs.
darkoshi: (Default)
My recent "robot discrimination" cross-post on LiveJournal just got an anonymous spam comment. It is in the exact same style as all the past spam comments I had been getting before I enabled the option to "Show CAPTCHA to anonymous commenters" back in mid-October. I haven't gotten a single spam comment since then until now.

I just checked, and the CAPTCHA is still enabled and working (oddly, the CAPTCHA text shown is the normal English/Latin alphabet, but the instruction text within the text box is Russian).

So what this means is that there are people who post spam like that manually, or this spam bot is able to pass the simple LJ text CAPTCHA (which wouldn't be surprising as that is why many sites have changed to other image-based CAPTCHAs). In other words, Amazon's robot test, which is also simple text-based), would fail against this bot.

Isn't it a funny coincidence that the spam comment was posted, on this particular post? It almost makes me want to unscreen the comment rather than deleting it.
darkoshi: (Default)
This is the 2nd time in 2 days where I've clicked a link that went to Amazon, and been prompted with one of these messages:
Enter the characters you see below

Sorry, we just need to make sure you're not a robot. For best results, please make sure your browser is accepting cookies."

And it's starting to make me wonder, why is Amazon discriminating against robots? If a robot wants to shop on Amazon, shouldn't it be allowed to, just like everyone else, without no extra proficiency tests??? Maybe I should go somewhere else where robots like me are welcome. I'm just joking by the way.

entertainment watching

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 09:50 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
The same NetFlix DVD has been lying near my TV for nearly 9 months, and I still haven't watched it. Not enough spare time. I've been paying $5.63 a month for the opportunity to watch it. I don't want to return the disk until I've at least watched enough of it to know whether it's one I'll like or not. I suspect I won't like this one very much, but I might. Babylon 5: The Lost Tales.

There's no benefit in me taking the time to watch it, as once I return it, another disk will just take its place.

Some movies are only available on DVD, not streaming, so I don't want to cancel the DVD plan. I'm not sure I'd even be able to get this plan at the same price again.

Last September, I bought season 3 of Last Tango In Halifax (streaming) from Amazon. Since then I've watched 5 of the 6 episodes. That's no doubt related to why I haven't had time to watch the DVD. At the beginning of the year, I also watched Downton Abbey and Galavant on TV, and a few other movies here and there.

After I finish Last Tango, I also want to watch the last season of Doc Martin.


Thursday, March 31st, 2016 11:29 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
On Tuesday, I surpassed 10,000 steps in a single day for the first time since I started tracking my walking. At 11:45pm, the pedometer showed 9900. Naturally, I decided I had to do at least another 100 before midnight arrived.

The sky was very beautiful while driving home this evening. Awesome layers of clouds and light that make you want to look up rather than down at the street. The sun was setting, orange.

The wisteria/kudzu smells lovely.

Azaleas in full bloom. I still have some azalea photos from a year ago that I never posted. Still haven't finished going through all of last year's photos.

I have some photos of the cute budding fig leaves from a week or 2 ago... Now the leaves are already full size. Last year, I took photos of the young fig leaves too. I'm sure I'll get to them eventually.

I ordered 7 small items from Amazon last night. Button batteries and a couple other items which I've had trouble finding in physical stores. Already got shipment notifications on 5, and USPS tracking emails on 2 of them. California and New Jersey. Interesting to think that around the country, stuff is moving just for me.

When ordering Amazon Marketplace items, the credit card charge may randomly show up from either "AMAZON MKTPLACE PMTS" or "Amazon Payments". Because of that, it's no longer convenient to use Shop-Safe credit card numbers (which for security purposes allow purchases from only a single seller) for those purchases. Half the payments have been getting declined, and I've had to submit them again using a different credit card number. The weird thing is that when Amazon resubmits the ones that were originally charged to "Amazon Payments", the 2nd time they actually charge them to "AMAZON MKTPLACE PMTS".
darkoshi: (Default)
Lovely user answer to a question posted on Amazon about the "Twin Draft Guard Extreme Door Guard":

How about them windows?
asked by r.a. on January 1, 2014

Them windows, so distant, so hard to know. I remember once, way back, talking to them windows as they sat on the steps at the end of the day, smoking a cigarette and looking at nothing in particular. "Hey," I said, cautious but loud enough for them to here. "You look lonely." ...
hb answered on January 2, 2014
[click above link to read the rest]

The same person also left this product review on the same item:

If Hades had been guarded by Cerberus with the same vigor and vigilance with which the Extreme Door Guard guards my door, then Heracles would have been devoured like so much Purina puppy chow.

I'm not convinced it's an authentic/unpaid review, but it gave me a smile.


Saturday, January 24th, 2015 09:18 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Amazon has the whole first season of Transparent watchable for free (today only), so I wanted to watch some more episodes.

I again spent over an hour unsuccessfully trying to get the video to play full-screen on the TV over the HDMI cable (like I do for YouTube and Netflix videos).

Using Flash, the video is so jerky that I don't want to watch it.
Using Silverlight, the video doesn't even start - it does some kind of looping/buffering thing.

I cleared all application data from Silverlight. I uninstalled and reinstalled Silverlight. I disabled hardware acceleration in both Firefox and Silverlight. I tried using IE and Chrome. The problems persisted. I was able to get a few short clips to play ok... but they weren't full screen, so maybe that is why they worked.

Anyway, back to admitting failure and watching it on the laptop screen.


Geez, even playing it on the laptop, the sound stutters somewhat.

Oh good lord, maybe all I had to do all along was click the button to turn off HD? ... ::sigh:: No, even then it's still jerky on the TV.
darkoshi: (Default)
If you shop on Amazon a lot, consider participating in their Amazon Smile program, whereby they donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to a charity of your choice. All you have to do is log on to smile.amazon.com instead of amazon.com. More details here.

If you have trouble remembering to use the special URL, this Firefox Addon will automatically redirect all Amazon URLs to Amazon Smile. However, it requires you to remain logged in to Amazon, and it sounds like it may cause issues with some Amazon pages.

As I already had the generic Redirector add-on installed, I've now configured it to redirect me. Rather than redirecting all Amazon URLs, I'm only redirecting the sign-in page: from "https://www.amazon.com/*signin*" to "https://smile.amazon.com". This way I can still browse products without being logged in, and then only log in when I want to buy something. This seems to work ok, but has a drawback in that it doesn't automatically return you to the product you were browsing before logging in. Another drawback is that if you add items to your cart via amazon.com, and then log in to smile.amazon.com, it shows your cart empty. Maybe if that happens to me a few times, it will make me start remembering to log in before adding items to my cart.
darkoshi: (Default)
I wanted to watch the pilot of Amazon's "Transparent" series which has gotten such good reviews.

First I tried playing it in Firefox, via HDMI cable to the big TV. It started loading and then seemed to go into some kind of loop - showing a split second of something, and then going back to the round circle "loading" icon, and then repeating.

Then I tried playing it in IE. At first it seemed to work, but then it did the looping thing again. So then I tried playing it on the laptop without using the HDMI cable. It still didn't work... or did it? I don't remember. I was irked at it not working on the TV.

Then, based on something mentioned on this page, I changed the Amazon Instant Video settings to use Flash rather than Silverlight.

Using Flash, the video played successfully on the TV, but it was very jerky. (I don't have these issues with Netflix streaming video. This isn't giving me a good impression of Amazon's service.)

So then I decided to just watch it on the laptop. That went pretty well until about 3/4ths of the way through the video, when it stopped and showed the "Connecting" icon for over 10 minutes. I had to log out and back in for it to work again.


Only the pilot is free to watch. It looks like the other episodes are only available through Amazon Prime - it looks like you can't pay to watch them individually without Prime. Is that right?
darkoshi: (Default)
After a credit card fraud incident 3 years ago, I procured two separate credit cards for myself - one for in-person purchases and the other for online purchases. Benefits:
- if I cancel a card due to it being stolen or due to fraudulent activity, I'll still have use of the other card in the meantime.
- if fraudulent use occurs, I'll have a better idea of where my number could have been stolen.
- the card I use for online purchases has a feature called "ShopSafe", whereby I can generate unique credit card numbers, limits, and expiration dates for each merchant. If one attempts to use such a number at a different merchant, or over the limit, the transaction is declined*.

However, it is best to use a regular credit card number for Amazon. The ShopSafe feature doesn't work well due to Amazon's charges being submitted under several different merchant names:
"Amazon.com" - items sold directly by Amazon
"AMAZON MKTPLACE PMTS" - Marketplace items, possibly including ones "fulfilled by Amazon"
"Amazon Digital Svcs" - MP3 purchases
"Amazon Services Kindle" - Kindle purchases

It is possible to create separate ShopSafe numbers for each of the above Amazon categories, but then you need to select the appropriate number for your order, and not mix items in a single order.

If you mix Marketplace and Amazon.com items in a single order using a ShopSafe number, part of the payment may go through, but the credit card will be declined for the other items. You can then select a different ShopSafe number for paying the remaining items. However, you may get declined multiple times for a single order, as you can't know which items will be charged together or separately. It seems to depend on which locations the items are shipped from, as well as whether they are Amazon.com or Marketplace items. As indicated on the Amazon Help page, "Orders may be split into multiple shipments [...] Because we charge for items when they are shipped, this may result in multiple charges."

For a while, I was able to deal with the above issues by not mixing Amazon.com and Marketplace orders. However, recently Amazon submitted charges under 2 separate merchant names, even for an order which only contained Marketplace items. The only way to see the merchant name is from your credit card account, after a charge has been successful.

*The credit card/bank does not notify you when this happens - it is up to the merchant to inform the purchaser. So unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if any fraudulent use of my ShopSafe numbers has ever been attempted. But from reviewing my statements, at least I know that no fraudulent charges have succeeded.
darkoshi: (Default)
In February of this year, I posted about a song I was trying to find for purchase. At the time, Amazon did not have it available as an MP3 on the U.S. site. I found it on the U.K. Amazon site, on one of a series of "Disco Discharge" CDs. Then I found the same CD on the U.S. site too. At the time, I considered buying the CD. I made a note of it on my "maybe sometime later" list.

Fast-forward to November. Now, the CD that I had found before is no longer even listed on the U.K. site. It is still listed on the U.S. site, but from only 3 sellers, each of whom is asking over $100 for it. I didn't like the CD enough to pay that much for it.

However, now the song is also available on the U.S. site in MP3 format, in several versions. There's even a remix!
darkoshi: (Default)
I was looking to legally buy an mp3 version of a particular song (Margherita by Massara) which was popular when I was a kid.

(I had stumbled across Boney M's version of the song, which subsequently led me to discover the name/artist of the original song which I was familiar with.)

I didn't find the song on Amazon.com - it is only available there on vinyl (used). The song must not have been much of a hit in the U.S.

Since I lived in Germany when it was popular, I then checked the Amazon.de German MP3 site. But again, the only results are on vinyl (used).

Then, since it was an Italian band, I checked the Amazon.it Italian MP3 site. That site didn't have any results for it.

Now, I just thought to check the UK Amazon site... it doesn't have the song for sale individually, but it *does* have a EuroDisco MP3 album for sale with that song included! The other songs on the album sound good enough that I'd consider buying the whole thing.

I wonder why there isn't an Amazon page that lets you search all the country-specific Amazon sites at once...

While browsing other songs on the German site, I couldn't help but notice the Terms of Use link. The Terms state that based on agreements with the music content providers, the German site only sells music to people living in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. ("Wie von unseren Anbietern von Musikinhalten vorgeschrieben, sind Musikinhalte nur für Kunden in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz verfügbar.")

Furthermore, all the other Amazon MP3 sites, including the U.S. one, have the same restriction in their Terms of Use. It is the last sentence of section 2.2:
2.2 Restrictions. You must comply with all applicable copyright and other laws in your use of the Music Content. Except as set forth in Section 2.1 above, you may not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, license or otherwise transfer or use the Music Content. We do not grant you any synchronization, public performance, promotional use, commercial sale, resale, reproduction or distribution rights for the Music Content. As required by our Music Content providers, Music Content is available only to customers located in the United States.

What a let-down.

Well, let's see. The MP3 album from the UK site is sold in CD-format on the U.S. site. The name of the Margherita song is spelled differently on that page, which may be why it didn't show up in my search results before.... Nope, doing a search on that alternate spelling brings up nothing at all, not even this album. Weird.

So, I could buy the CD, and then rip the songs to MP3. It would be a lot easier if I could simply buy & download the songs in MP3 format to begin with.