January 16, 2005

Okay, so we talked to the Marriott down in Maryland and it turns out that there isn’t an employee discount and that the whole thing is just a bait and switch deal that they pull to get people to work at the chain. Instead of an “employee discount”, some of the hotels give out a card that says that you are an employee. Other hotels, at their discretion, can do whatever they want with that information. They can give discounts, but they don’t have to. And since Marriott is a franchise and not a fully owned hotel chain, there is no incentive for the franchises to give discounts to employees, so they don’t, apparently. And when they do, it would appear that there isn’t the fixed “employee rate” that we were lead to believe that there was. So, when I called the Courtyard in New Carrollton last night to ask what my options where, the rude desk workers just put me through to the national call center without even asking me if that was alright (it wasn’t… I needed to know if they were walking distance from the metro station and the national call center sure didn’t know that,) I found out that it would be dramatically cheaper for me to stay at the Comfort Suites where I usually stay which is a nicer hotel. I especially would rather stay there since they treat us far better than Marriott has done. We stayed at the Fairfield in Clearwater and were appalled by how poorly the hotel was kept. I like Comfort because I know that any of their hotels that I go to will at least be clean and have halfway decent beds. Marriott is not so thorough with their chain and are more like the Days Inn where anyone who pays enough, apparently, can slap a Marriott logo on their hotel.

So I was up at 9:30 this morning trying to figure out what the better option for dealing with things in Washington are. I decided that since Amtrak just didn’t have any trains going at really convenient times given the new plans (I am very sad because I was really looking forward to the chance to ride the train down) that I would pay a little extra and fly down tomorrow afternoon. So, I booked my flight with AirTran and I am leaving from Rochester at 2:15PM tomorrow (Monday) on flight 473 and will be landing at BWI at 3:22. I talked to John this morning and either he or Michelle will be able to pick me up from the airport. This seems to be a much easier solution than taking the train and dealing with a hotel which I just can’t afford to blow $200 on right now. But this works out well because it buys me one or two more days of not travelling. Travelling is always rough because it eats up so much time and Min and I are already travelling almost the entire week as it is.

I slept much better with the CPAP last night. I don’t think that I woke up a single time all night and I managed to wake up, on my own, after just four hours of sleep and felt relatively rested. That is a good sign. That is the first decent night of sleep since I got the machine. At least we are moving in the right direction.

It is always nice to get up in the morning thinking that you have a very busy day in front of you but then discover that you have the day mostly free and can actually relax a little bit. It is so much nicer than when you think that you have a day free before hand. Not that I don’t have tons to do – but at least now I can work on things at my own pace.

Min headed off to work at her usual time and I did some work in the basement. I put Bring It On Again on my laptop while I was working. I supposed that it was probably better than I had feared that it was going to be but it definitely was not a very good movie. If you are fanatic about Bring It On like Bob, Nate and I are then you will definitely want to see it. Other than that, though, you will want to pass this one up and look for something a little bit stronger.

It turns out that Tony doesn’t have school tomorrow (probably a holiday that we aren’t aware of) so Andy called him and is going up to get him so that we can play a little much needed AoE2 this evening. I still don’t have my desktop freed up so that I can play on that so I am stuck using my laptop but that is only so bad. I called over to see if Jeremy wanted to play since he too shouldn’t have school tomorrow, but he is sick and not able to come over to play. He will be very disappointed since he has been trying to find some way to play for two months now. Poor Jeremy.

While I was waiting for Tony to come over to start the game, I kept working on a firewall that I have been building (I have to get it done before I can free up some equipment for the school in Castile) to replace our old one. Not that our old one is very old, but we are shifting a bunch of stuff around and need to make sure that everything is working before we turn off a machine. I have two large machines that I am trying to get to a point where I am shut them down. Those two represent a very large portion of our total electric draw in our server room so I would like to be able to do without them if at all possible.

I didn’t get too far before Tony made it over. He and Andy arrived around 6:30. We started setting up the systems for the game (which always seems to be an ordeal, time after time.) This time, I am the biggest pain because I am playing off of my laptop which does not have the game installed on it. Plus I need to find some space to play in as well since my regular desktop is in the way. It is always something. We can’t play too late tonight because Andy has to go to work first thing in the morning and leave a little early so that he can drop Tony off on his way past Avon.

I was doing some housekeeping today (figuratively) and came across some old backups that I have of the Laugh Trak system that Andy and I were working on with the Comix Cafe up in Rochester back in 1999-2000. That project didn’t go so well. They had had trouble with a developer previously and had paid a lot for work that had never gotten completed. Then, when working with us, we were doing the work for free because they had blown all of their budget and we thought that maybe this system could be sold to other clubs. Boy were we naive. They really took us for a ride. Not only were other clubs not going to want to use this system but once they changed managers, THEY didn’t even think that they wanted to track customers anymore. Every time that Andy met with them, they had a new set of requirements and couldn’t remember what they had decided the last time. So the whole thing ended up being a total waste of time. They weren’t very serious about the work that they were doing anyway, everything was running in a messy back room on computers that had been pulled out of the trash, most likely, and were completely unusable. But they weren’t going to be replacing them, they planned on continuing to use them (think original Pentium computers running Windows 98 with 32MB of memory and 2GB hard drives – but not nice commercial HP or Compaq machines but cheap local Soyata white boxes.) It was amazing that those machines even booted let alone could do any work. Having Andy write an Access database application for them was just ridiculous. And the system was going to be designed to be hosted and it took them almost a year to even bother talking to anyone about getting them Internet access. Eventually, I think that they did manage to get Road Runner brought in, but I am not sure that they ever managed to get it run around to all of the machines in there. In fact, I don’t think that they ever bothered getting a firewall or even a router or a hub or anything. I don’t think that they had the CAT5 to run around. The moral of this rather drawn out story is that I deleted all of the old Laugh Trak files because I am pretty sure that after six years (yeah, SIX years!) we don’t have use for those files anymore. It is kind of sad to officially kiss that stage of the business goodbye but it is also nice to let go of the past and move on to bigger and better things. That was never going to be a good project no matter what Andy and I ever put into it. It could have gone better, but there was no light at the end of the tunnel and they were just hoping to get some free software out of the deal and we, most likely, would have been in a worse position for having finished the project successfully rather than just giving up on the whole thing and walking away. We had better places to spend our time than on that.

Tony came over and the three of us squeezed in a game of AoE2, one on one on one. Andy was the first one out and Tony wasn’t ready for me so it was a pretty quick game. We only played the one, I was getting pretty tired and Andy has to work tomorrow. We popped in Aqua Teen Hunger Force and watched three or four episodes of that before I headed off to bed. I felt awfully tired but, of course, I only slept about three hours last night and I have been tired all week so it is no wonder that I was feeling pretty drowsy. I called Min before going to bed, she is having a terrible night because there are over a hunder little eight year old hockey playing hoodlums in her hotel and their bitchey parents. They were so bad that a previous shift had called the police in to settle them down. So she is having a bad night. They did add wireless Internet access to her lobby now, though, which is a vast improvement. Now she will be able to use the laptop at work to read her email and talk on Exodus to everyone. That is really nice. That will make her job a million times more bareable, I am sure.

Don’t look for an update tomorrow until Wednesday. I am flying to DC and am not taking my laptop with me so that Min can have it at work. I never have much of a chance to work on it anyway. This is a short trip so there isn’t any spare time, really. I have to spend the night in Annapolis and will be returning home on Tuesday morning with the loaded truck. I will go straight to dad’s to unload it and then up to the city to drop it off.

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