By Jonathan | May 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm
Need tickets to Kings Island? Want to help fight pancreatic cancer?
Why not do both? Coasters for a Cure has teamed up with Kings Island this summer to provide discounted tickets to the park. As an added bonus (as if this wasn’t already good enough!), a portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Guests can purchase tickets for $17 off the adult price at the park, simply by buying tickets online by using the link below. Seriously, it’s that easy.
By Jonathan | May 16, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Time Machine is a set it and forget it backup utility that Apple introduced in OS X 10.5 that is used to automate backups of your computer’s data. Having fallen victim to a hard drive failure years before, I promptly setup Time Machine to keep tabs on all the important files on my iMac in case such a catastrophic incident ever occurred again. In the 3.5 years that I have been using the app, it has only been tested a few times: once when a friend of mine, in a drunken stupor, claimed he could hack my non-password protected computer and decided to perform a
sudo rm -rf / from the Console (which, just to be clear, is not hacking…BEN), and once or twice to retrieve some old files that I thought I no longer needed. This weekend, however, I put Time Machine to a full test.
When I went to bed last Thursday, my computer was fine. When I came home from work on Friday, my computer was not fine. The OS had frozen, and no amount of mouse clicking or keyboard button pressing would awake it from its ice cold slumber. Connecting remotely via SSH also did not work, which really had me worried. The obvious fix (which I learned from years of using Windows) was to give the computer an old fashioned hard reset. When this failed twice, my next option was to boot up using my most recent operating system CD and to try to check/repair the disk using Disk Utility. When Disk Utility puked at me 2-3 times, I knew I was in trouble. In one last ditch effort I went old school from the singler-user command line and attempted a
/sbin/fsck -fy, which also failed. Even after all the futile attempts at salvaging my disk, I knew that I had a Time Machine backup safe and secure on an external USB drive that basically contained a clone of my computer, so in theory all of my files should be just fine.
For those of us that have spent any extended amount of time in the Land of Academia, theory isn’t always backed up by empirical data…or is it empirical data isn’t always backed up by theory? Either way, I remember in physics lab once or twice when I may or may not have fudged some data points to make them fit better on the trend line. In my present day story, I had no control over the trend line and had no effect on whatever outcome Time Machine had in store for me. I had never tested out a full system restore from a Time Machine backup and had no idea if it would really work. All I could do was cross my fingers and wait the seven hours that it would take to fully restore my 300GB of data. I went to bed wondering and hoping that everything would be a success, however, I had my doubts.
Before we continue, I’d like to make a point for all the Mac haters. Apple does not design or manufacturer hard drives (sidebar). The hard drive in my iMac could be the same hard drive that is found in your Dell or your HP or whatever other non-Apple piece of hardware you own. All Apple did with my iMac was pick a good vendor and a good model, then stuck it into the machine. In fact, you can read the specs on the Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS that failed me on their website. Actually, now that I think about it, this is NOT the first Western Digital drive that I’ve owned that has suffered a premature death. Interesting.
Moving on, the next morning I woke up to the pleasant site of a fully restored system using a brand new hard drive. I had lost nothing.* Time Machine had succeeded! The free app built directly into the operating system had worked exactly as advertised, and as and end user, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome. Time Machine had kept my files safe, and when I needed them was right there to say, “Here you go, Mr. Lepolt, sorry for your troubles.” That’s exactly how I would expect backup software to work. Bravo.
If you own a Mac, use Time Machine.
*Time Machine allows users to “ignore” directories to backup, and as expected these directories were not restored.
By Jonathan | February 28, 2011 at 12:59 pm
Since the middle of February I have been posting time lapse videos on YouTube of WindSeeker construction at both Cedar Point and Kings Island. As progress is made at the construction sites, traffic to the YouTube videos is beginning to increase and people have started asking me how I’ve been obtaining this video footage. To avoid a lengthy, technical discussion on what is actually happening, I will provide a high level overview to help alleviate some of the curiosity.
Cedar Point and Kings Island both have web cameras pointed at the WindSeeker sites that update on a very regular basis. I wrote a custom script to run on my computer that basically captures a number of these images throughout the day from each camera. Each day I take the collected images and use a piece of software that allows me to generate a video from the sequence of images. The daily videos are then stitched together to provide a weekly summary of WindSeeker progress that I upload to YouTube.
So, that’s it. Nothing special, just a bunch of image grabs stitched together for a video. I hope that you will continue to enjoy these construction updates as they are posted!
By Jonathan | March 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm
In years past Abi and I have traveled over a decent amount of the United States for our vacations, with extended visits to destinations in California, Florida, Hawaii, New York, North/South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The majority of these vacations included activities such as lounging at the beach, lounging at the pool, and lounging at the cabana. Our NYC trip didn’t involve a whole lot of lounging and we were pretty much on the go all day, but it’s definitely still considered a vacation in my book. In 2010 we have decided against taking the typical, relaxing vacation and opted for more of a fast-paced, action-pack adventure. In short, we’re taking a road trip to eight different amusement parks in a matter of 16 days.
Cedar Fair currently owns 11 amusement parks and six water parks at a total of 15 different locations in the US and Canada. In the summer of 2007, a year after Cedar Fair acquired Paramount Parks, they introduced a new type of season pass that allowed access to all amusement and water parks owned by Cedar Fair. Having taken a yearly trip to Cedar Point for 24 consecutive years and living less than 30 minutes from Kings Island, I decided that this “Maxx Pass” was a solid investment. Three years later and a silly name change to “Platinum,” Abi and I both have these season passes that can still be used at all 15 properties. This summer we decided to exercise our season passholder privileges to the fullest…well, not quite to the fullest, but close enough.
We’re going to take a 16 day road trip to eight different parks. Due to time constraints we’re going to skip the five stops in California, water park in Aurora, OH, and one in Canada (after the Olympics I think you’ll agree skipping the latter is acceptable). Without further ado, I present to you the order of events for our Roller Coaster Adventure Tour 2010:
- Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri)
- Valleyfair (Shakopee, Minnesota)
- Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon, Michigan)
- Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
- Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
- Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
- Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina/Fort Mill, South Carolina)
- Kings Island (Kings Mills, Ohio)
Our schedule and the distance between the parks requires that we reserve a full day for travel the day before visiting a park. Basically we’re going to drive for a day, then ride coasters for a day, repeated a total of eight times.
Where available I *think* we will visit the adjoining water park (Abi really wants to do this, personally I’m not a huge fan). There’s also an outside chance that if everything stays on schedule that we might be able to make a stop in Santa Claus, Indiana at the one and only Holiday World. That may end up being a game day decision at the end of the trip.
So there you have it, our summer vacation plans. Probably not exactly your standard vacation, but I think it sounds like a heck of a lot of fun!
By Jonathan | January 2, 2010 at 12:07 am
I lost a bet and you will soon be reading a guest post from the one and only Mike D.
In other news, which coach can be held accountable for this terrible Sugar Bowl tonight?! Brian Kelly is dreaming about leprechauns, Jeff Quinn already has another job so this loss means nothing…and Butch Jones was smart enought to NOT coach his first game at UC against Florida. I blame the NCAA and their recruiting regulations.
By Jonathan | December 16, 2009 at 7:30 am
Dear Central Michigan,
So we took your football coach…again. I’m sorry. You should be used to it by now, since we took Brian Kelly from you in 2006. Anyways, in case you haven’t been following the news, we lost our head coach and needed a new one urgently. UC is 12-0 this season and will be playing in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. You guys are 11-2 and are playing the GMAC Bowl. We’re in the Big East, you’re in the MAC. No disrespect to you guys, but UC is a higher caliber program, and we needed a coach. Those things aside, we do have something in common: at this point we’re both just stepping stone schools for the next level. I feel your pain.
I am sorry that we hired your coach before your bowl game, but if you think I feel bad for you, I don’t. Like you, this is also the second time that a coach has left our school since 2006. I don’t know about you, but both times our coaches lied and claimed they “loved it in Cincinnati” and “aren’t leaving.” Both times those claims proved to be false, and the coach left for what he thought was a better offer. Mark Dantonio was 6-6 this year at Michigan State, finishing a terrible 6th in the Big Ten. Brian Kelly is taking over a Notre Dame program that hasn’t seen a National Championship or Heisman Trophy winner since the mid 80′s. They too were 6-6 this season. Good luck BK. You had a great run here, but tarnished your character on exit.
So anyways, I’m sorry that we took your coach…but it’s just the way the system works. It sucks, but I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Like I said, we now have lost two great coaches to supposedly better programs with deeper pockets and better facilities. All we can do is move forward with the new guy…I suggest you do the same. Please don’t hate Cincinnati.
By Jonathan | August 23, 2009 at 8:57 pm
Today was awesome. While riding on Kings Island’s The Outer Limits: Flight of Fear this afternoon, we got stuck. Yes, I’m sure most people would get a little freaked out by something like that, but then again, I’m not most people. This was 12 whole minutes that I won’t soon forget.
Flight of Fear (or “FoF,” as we have nicknamed it) is an enclosed roller coaster. 100% of the ride is indoors and in the dark, which adds to the experience and excitement of this ride. The majority of the ride takes place basically inside a huge cube, so track is twisting and turning and placed in the most ridiculous locations that you could possibly imagine. Since the ride is mostly dark, people generally don’t get a chance to fully enjoy the beauty of the design and implementation of this ride. That is of course unless you get stuck inside!!! (or you pay a few bucks for the ‘behind the scenes tour,’ I’ll post the link when I find what I’m looking for)
We started the ride like normal, accelerating from 0-60mph in about 4 seconds, and then flipping upside down a couple times, twisting and turning through the steel track. About halfway through the ride the track goes level and applies some brakes before the grande finale. Usually the brakes slow the train down enough to let riders catch their breath before a few more twists, turns, and inversions. However, this time the brakes stopped us completely.
We sat their for a moment of two, feeling the track shakng back and forth beneath us. Another moment or two go by, and I wonder if something could be wrong…will the brakes let go?
And this is the point when I start to get really excited. Seriously, right now I’m hoping that the ride has broken down and that we’ll have get off the train and walk down those metal stairs that you see on nearly every ride. We wait another minute or so until a KI employee shows up on the platform. “Um, we’re having some technical difficulties right now, and we’re doing our best to resolve the situation. The mechanics are on their way over here right now.”
That was when I took out my trusty iPhone to start documenting the whole thing. I took some pictures, I took some video, I even called Kevin because I knew that he would completely appreciate our current situation. I tried to update Twitter, but there was some stupid problem with the API at the time. Stupid Twitter.
About 12-15 minutes later the brakes on the track released and we got to finish our ride. At the unloading platform there were ten or so KI employees and 2-3 mechanics, waiting to make sure everyone was alright. We were…but some people were more “agitated” than others. I was thrilled. I wanted to do it again.
For years I have always wanted to get stuck on a roller coaster and have to climb down to safety. It has never happened, and I can always hope that someday it will…but I sure got to take home a great story today!
By Jonathan | August 14, 2009 at 6:24 pm
There was a box shipped via UPS next day air on my porch Thursday evening. It would appear that Vinnie somehow pulled it off and got my camera back to me in time for the tennis tournament this weekend. Good news for me!
And, just for fun, here are some good lookin’ veggies!
By Jonathan | August 11, 2009 at 10:16 pm
I recently purchased a shiny, new Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera. This was a brand new model, released in April 2009. I had been tossing around the idea of buying a new digital camera for quite some time, so when the D5000 was released I jumped on it immediately, buying it from Amazon the day it was released. I have been extremely happy with my new camera, up until a couple weeks ago…
On July 16, 2009, I received an email from Nikon, Inc., alerting me about a “service advisory” (aka, recall, see here) regarding my camera. Nikon requested that D5000 owners with particular serial numbers send their cameras in to get checked for a problem with the power switch not actually turning the camera on. I had not experienced any of these problems, so I was a bit hesitant to send my camera in for service basically due to the sheer annoyance of me having to be without a camera for an extended period of time (insert ominous music here). I finally decided that I [probably] wouldn’t need my camera for a decently long period of time (two weeks…Nikon shouldn’t need more time than that, right?), so I packed the thing up in a box, slapped my prepaid UPS label on it, and sent the D5000 to Connecticut. I should note that the only thing Nikon ever stated when referencing to the amount of time that it would take to get the camera fixed was: “Nikon will return serviced cameras to customers promptly, employing (whenever possible) transportation that limits transit time to two days.”
This is where you laugh and say “I know what’s going to happen next. Lepolt is going to need/want his camera before it’s fixed!” You and Murphy would be correct…almost as soon as I sent the camera in, I wanted to use it.
A little background: Seapine Software has purchased tickets to the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters Open for the past few years, and has graciously offered tickets to employees. I have graciously accepted said tickets, and have been able to see the likes of Roger Federer (Pics from 2007) smacking that little yellow ball around on a court in Mason, OH. I figured this year would be no different, so I put in my request for tickets. Again, Murphy’s interference: I wasn’t able to get tickets at the end of the tournament like I expected, but more toward the middle.
At this point I knew I was in trouble. My camera was in transit to Connecticut, I was in Cincinnati, and the tennis tournament was in a little over a week.
What do I do? I NEED my camera by Saturday! Let’s call Nikon. I’m sure by calling their 1-800 number I’ll be able to speak with someone that can tell me the whereabouts of my camera and when I can expect it to return. Right? RIGHT?!
This is where the fun begins…I called Nikon on Sunday evening and talked to Cynthia. I asked her where my camera was. She told me “it was out of her hands.” I asked how I was supposed to find my camera, and how I could get it back by Saturday. She had no idea. She did tell me that she would email the service facility, and she would email me their response by Tuesday.
It’s Tuesday. I’ve heard nothing from Cynthia. I’ll call back. This time I talked to a guy and had to explain the whole situation to him again. He told me right away that “it was out of his hands,” and “we (customer service) are not handling that.” I asked him if he knew where my camera was and he said, “it’s in Connecticut!” I calmly asked if he knew for certain that my camera was in Connecticut, or if someone else’s camera was in Connecticut. “Well, that’s where all the D5000 cameras are going.” I asked again where MY camera was. “Well, we don’t have access to that information.” I called BS and said there had to be someone there that knew what was going on. He put me on hold for five minutes…then hung up. Intentional? Probably. At least that’s the way I’ll spin it.
So I called back. This time I got to talk to Vinnie. I told Vinnie my sob story (for the third time) and mentioned how the previous support representative had just hung up on me, and how the first support representative had failed to follow through on her commitment. Vinnie really felt my pain. “It’s not funny,” he said. “I understand your inconvenience.” At this point I could pretty much recite Nikon’s whole script of how to deal with a frustrated/angry/jackass customer and knew that no one at 1-800-645-6678 would be able to do a damn thing for me. I told Vinnie that this whole situation was unacceptable, and that I was really starting to get angry due to lack of communication between Nikon and its customers, and Nikon between customer service and the repair facility. We spoke for about 25 minutes while I tried to get a loaner camera from Nikon and he read from the script which was full of “I’m sorry’s” and “I understand’s.” Probably to get me to shut up, he finally told me he was pretty sure (although he wouldn’t guarantee anything) that I would have my camera back in time. He was going to email yet ANOTHER department to see if I could get a loaner camera by Saturday. Again, he was “pretty sure” that I could get a loaner camera (but wouldn’t guarantee anything).
I’m not buying it for a second. No chance. Zero. I’m not getting my camera back or a loaner by Saturday. They’ll have to kick the thing out the door first thing Wednesday morning to have any chance of me getting it.
One interesting tidbit that I did manage to extract from Vinnie was that it could take five business days once they received the camera to generate a service order number, and they could work with me from there. Hmmmm. Five business days. This information would certainly have been useful BEFORE I sent the camera in! Stupid Nikon!!!
I realize that this whole situation is a little bit my fault…but when it really comes down to it, I feel like Nikon should have done a better job of everything! They obviously know how long it will take to repair a single camera, how many cameras they have sold, and how many cameras they could expect to receive at their repair facility. They could have provided me with a rough estimate of how long I should expect to be without my camera! All they told me was they would try to ship it back within two days wherever possible. That’s worthless to me. Unbelievable. I can send something in the mail and tell you that it will take 2-3 days to get there! The useful information is how long it will take them to fix once they have it…information they neglected to share. Oh well.
So, I guess we’ll just wait and see. Hopefully I have something to use come Saturday…Federer is in town.
By Jonathan | July 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm
While we still have quite a bit of ground to make up before we break even on the garden, we have seen some noticeable improvement with some of the veggies, including mini peppers that we hope will grow into normal and/or huge peppers. Check out some pictures here:
You may notice that there are more plants in pots instead of the ground…well, we weren’t having a whole lot of luck with the actual garden, so Abi salvaged what she could and threw some into pots, which are doing fantastic. I keep telling people that Abi and I are pot farmers…but Abi always corrects me and says we’re “container gardeners.” I’ll let you decide.