Really, Papa John’s? Really?

Really, Papa John’s? Really?

Take a look at this delicious Papa John’s Applepie that oozed all over my table, carpet, and the pepperoni pizza underneath it. Mmmmmm…..

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Geotagging photos

Geotagging photos

My family has a habit of stopping at attractions when we are out traveling. For examples, parks, museums, and unusual stores. We also have a habit of logging all the places we visit, which leads us to a problem: we often don’t know where we were.

I’ve found geotagging to be the solution. I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone that lets me geotag images automatically. When I go to snap a photo, the GPS in my phone turns on and records the location in the photo’s metadata. You can easily pull the data out using something like Google Picasa or IExif (both free). My phone (like most phones) has A-GPS, so it gets a rough idea of the location within a matter of seconds, so I don’t have to wait for it to get a solid GPS lock.

We also like to use our Nikon D7000. This also has the ability to geotag photos but requires a separate GPS gizmo that you have to buy and attach to your camera. I’ve read a bunch of reviews on the official Nikon GPS and several non-OEM GPS units, but none appear to be very reliable or fast at getting a GPS lock. Our solution is to always take a quick snapshot with my phone, and then take the real photos with the nice big Nikon. This at least lets us quickly save the location, but doesn’t require us to wait around for the camera to get a GPS signal.

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SoftLayer hardware firewall is awful

I’ve been having a problem lately with people hitting my server more than I’d like. I’ve been using iptables to drop requests from these IPs, but I wanted something that took the load completely off of my server, and could be bypassed in case I put in a bad rule that locked me out. So I decided to try the SoftLayer hardware firewall.

This feature is expensive: $49 per month for a 10Mbps hardware firewall. That is a lot, but I figured it would be worth it to have the added protection for my server. Sadly, I was wrong. The interface to manage the firewall is garbage.

It shows a basic form listing all the firewall rules. You select the rule priority by numbering the rules 1 through however many rules you have. There is, however, no way to add a new rule to the top of the list (or the middle of the list) unless you re-number every single rule. If you have 20 rules, this can be tedious. If you have 100 rules, this can be extremely frustrating. Even worse, if you make a mistake and have a duplicate priority number then the page refreshes with all the rules set to a priority of “1”. So now you have to start all over.

Unlike iptables, there is very little help available for the firewall. SoftLayer provides a handful of knowledge base articles, but none of them include screenshots or advanced examples.

Within a few hours of using the service, I realized that it wasn’t going to work out and I’d be better off with iptables. I started a chat with the billing department, and was told they’d create a ticket to review crediting me for the service, and then they gave me instructions on how to cancel. I followed the instructions and the service was promptly removed from my server.

Sadly, I was informed that the terms of service prevented them from giving me a refund, and they said that the billing department only said they’d look into crediting me for the service, not that they actually would. How deceptive! Do they really expect me to believe that their own billing department doesn’t know what they claim is the standard SoftLayer refund policy? I likely still would have canceled the service, but I feel pretty ripped off having used the service for just a few hours, experiencing several issues with it, being told (from my perspective) that I’d get a refund, and then being stuck with the bill for a full month of service. Egh.

Overall, SoftLayer is awesome. Quality servers at great prices. In this situation though, complete fail. The firewall is garbage and they handled the situation very poorly. I’m not disappointed enough to start immediately hunting for a new host, but I’ll definitely be considering other options for my future server needs.

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Laser hair removal

I’ve always hated shaving. I vividly remember an experience when I was a teenager with a bit more peach fuzz than was socially acceptable. My dad pulled me aside to talk to me about it. “I know ingrown hairs can be uncomfortable,” he said. I remember trying to figure out what he was talking about, and what ingrown hairs had to do with anything, and trying to figure out if I had ever had one. It then dawned on me that he thought ingrown hairs were the cause of my lack of shaving, and that, if given time, he would eventually get around to telling me that I need to shave anyway. What he didn’t realize was that I just hate shaving. It takes too much time. It irritates my skin. I’ve never found a razor that gives me a good shave. It just sucks.

Not long after that awkward father/son moment I learned about electrolysis. This process zaps each individual hair with electricity in an attempt to stop it from ever wanting to grow back. It is tedious and uncomfortable, but fairly effective. Sadly, there were a few obstacles I’d have to overcome. First, it was prohibitively expensive, at least for a teenager. Second, I wasn’t aware of any nearby places that offered the service. Third, I wasn’t old enough to electrocute my hairs without parental consent. So it never happened.

A few years later, while serving my mission I think, I learned of laser hair removal. This process is a bit more intense than electrolysis. Instead of zapping one hair at a time, they use a laser beam about the size of a quarter to fry lots of hairs all at once. The heat from the laser permanently discourages your hair from growing. Again, several obstacles. First, it was prohibitively expensive (for a missionary at least). Second, there wasn’t a place that offered the service within my assigned missionary area. Third, I was afraid someone would see me and call my mission president, and I suspect he wouldn’t have approved of the activity.

So for the past decade or so I’ve been dreaming of having a permanently clean-shaven face. As if by providence, a laser hair removal office opened up right next to the Target where I do my grocery shopping. I called to get pricing information, but they refuse to give any pricing information unless you go in for a consultation.

So today I went to Ideal Image for my consultation. I was sad to learn that although the hair on my head is quite brown, my facial hair has a lot of red and blonde mixed in. Laser hair removal doesn’t work on red or blonde hair. So even if I went through all the treatments, I’d only get maybe 50% hair removal on my face.

I was also sad to learn that these people are thieves. I’m under no obligation to keep their prices a secret, so this is the price list they gave me:

Area Per session 9 sessions 50% discount for package
Full face $855 $7,695 $3,847
Upper neck $475 $4,275 $2,137
Chin $259 $2,331 $1,165

To get my whole face I’d be paying $855 per session, or I can pre-pay for 9 sessions and get a 50% discount. Sounds reasonable, right? WRONG!

First, most people don’t need 9 sessions. Most people need at least 3 sessions. Nearly everyone has reached the best results they are going to get by the 6th session. This means they are making you pay for (and suffer through) 3 sessions that are pretty much guaranteed to be superfluous. They know this. If they don’t know this, then that is even scarier because they are wielding a laser that can leave you permanently scarred and apparently know less about the process than I do.

Second, even their discounted price of $427 per session is drastically higher than the prices I’ve found online. Most people report prices in the $100-$250 range. Even a full 6 treatments at the costly price of $250 per session would only cost $1,500, or in other words, $2,347 less than Ideal Image.

Perhaps it isn’t Ideal Image. Maybe things just cost more in Connecticut, and I’ll have to wait until we move somewhere more reasonable. But I don’t think so. There are other hair removal offices in this area, so I’m going to go get some quotes and find out.

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