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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Guess Up Emoji

About two years ago, I was looking for a new game and installed an app called "Guess Up Emoji" on my phone. It was pretty mindless, but reasonably entertaining to play with the family while we were on a train or waiting for our food at a restaurant. You had to guess familiar phrases by looking at a few emojis that were provided.

Over a two year span, I was able to work my way up to about level 150 (each level required solving several puzzles to advance). I also had amassed thousands of "coins" by opening the app each day for a daily coin bonus. These coins can be used for hints and other in-game purchases.

Today I noticed that Guess Up Emoji had apparently updated itself. It is now called "Guess Up", with a new icon. The bigger issue is when I opened the app I am now back at level 1 and all of my thousands of coins are gone. I googled the app, and apparently this happened to other people also.

Looks like the appropriate emoji for today is this one:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Jeep Uconnect Incorrect Software Upgrade

Recently, my Jeep Grand Cherokee notified me that there was a software upgrade to my Uconnect® system, which is the in-dashboard interface to the radio, climate control, navigation, etc.  To put it in their words, its "the feature-packed navigation, entertainment and communication system that lets drivers live their lives, connected."

There are a few obviously annoying points about how this upgrade worked...
  1.  The upgrade was mandatory - Pressing the later button only postponed this pop-up warning until the next time I drove the vehicle.  So, my options were to press later every time I drove the car, forever, or let the update happen.
  2. The update could not happen while you drove the car - Jeep expected me to sit in park and let my car idle for 15-20 minutes while the software updated. What a waste of fuel.  Why did the engine need to be on?  For what it's worth, I had the brilliant idea of leaving it parked while I went inside for 20 minutes, only I got distracted and let it run for hours before I came back.
  3. The Update couldn't be interrupted -  When you start the update, another screen pops up warning you that if you stop it, you will have to start all-over.
A much smarter update protocol would have been if the update was downloaded to the car in the background, any time the car was on, and then the software update could be installed quickly after the download was completed.

I also read online, afterwards, that I could have downloaded the update from the Jeep website onto a flash drive and installed it manually.  It would have been nice if that option were mentioned in the pop-up instructions. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Escape Room Review: Escape the Room PA – Pittsburgh, PA

This is part of our series of Escape Room reviews.


  • Room Name: The Newsroom
  • Room Size:  (6-8)/11/12 people ( our recommendation/as played/max)
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Overall:  3.0/5.0
  • Theme:     4.0/5.0
  • Puzzles:    3.0/5.0
  • Difficulty: 3.0/5.0

Looking for an activity with a group of 11 friends, we chose this escape room since it had larger rooms that could accommodate our full group and was in a decent location.

The Good

  • In a trendy part of town ("South Side")
  • Clues communicated via monitor were helpful, but not overly so
  • We always had something to work on
  • Nice craftsmanship on the newsroom / skyline
  • Room was not full of distracting red herrings. Easy to focus on the correct items
  • The three keypads were a nice feature - didn't have to mess as much with locks as in other rooms
  • There were two separate threads 
  • We were able to finish it just in time (difficulty level was about right)

The Bad 

  • Parking was on-street, and pretty difficult to find on a Wednesday evening. We squeezed into a tight spot several blocks away. Note: neighborhood is not particularly kid-friendly.
  • There was a dreadful puzzle with some charts that was frustrating and disappointing. One of the pie charts had a mistake in it, and the answer was not at all satisfying. Thank goodness we are experienced with escape rooms and brought pencil and paper in with us. Also, you had to read the answer to this puzzle out loud which was cheesy since it broke the fourth wall concept. (Although perhaps the idea was that you were being a real newscaster; ok I'll give them a pass on this one)
  • Building is narrow and waiting area is a bit cramped
  • It was too linear; everyone in the group pretty much had to work on the same puzzles at the same time
  • There was a video camera that wasn't supposed to move but it got moved somehow and this messed up one of the puzzles but we managed to get past it anyhow
  • They took several of our e-mail addresses but then never e-mailed the group photo to us!

Overall this room was pretty good and we would recommend it if you have a large group, since it is one of the few rooms in town that could accommodate it. I hope they replace the charts puzzle, as it would be trivial to do so and everything else would still work.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Domain Renewal

I received the above e-mail dated November 14. It says my domain name "will expire soon!". Notice that it doesn't say when it will expire. That is because they don't really care.

So I logged in to the domain name registration site. It said that my registration was expiring on April 12. This is not soon. This is in 5 months.

What I've figured out is that these companies just spam out a "renewal notice" email to me every 2 months, since it's easier than actually bothering to check when my domain really expires. Of course, they want me to keep renewing when I get the notice, pushing out my extension further and further. I used to get the same thing when I had magazine subscriptions.

Hey - can you just send me a warning about 30 days before my domain will expire?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Influx in Sex Offenders

Mercy Jalango posted the above warning to my neighborhood forum. She is making us aware of the "influx in sex offenders" moving into our county. Webster's dictionary defines influx as "an arrival of large numbers of people".

Ms. Jalango notes "sad news" of 18 sex offenders moving into the area over the past 6 years. I ran some advanced statistics on that figure and the computer spit out something like 3 per year. I'm not sure 3 is a "large number of people". If I had a birthday party and 3 people showed up, I would not say to myself "gee, I'm pleased that a large number of people turned out to my party". And keep in mind, this influx includes sex offenders committing crimes such as indecent exposure, or a 19 year old having consensual relations with a 17 year old.

But wait, there's one more thing that Ms. Jalango didn't mention. How many sex offenders moved out of the county during the past 6 years? With the increasingly high cost of living in Loudoun County, I'll bet it's probably at least 19. An outflux!

Thank you Ms. Jalango for taking the time of everyone on this mailing list to remind us to "be aware of our surroundings and be safe".

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Please Delete

I received the above e-mail today, which includes the wonderful finishing line:

"Please delete this e-mail if you have no idea what this is about."

This phrase needs to be added to about 90% of e-mails that I receive. It would make life so much better!

Of course this e-mail, regarding an obscure service that I never signed up for, likely makes sense to almost no one. I love that they have not only given me permission to delete the e-mail - they are imploring me to do so! You have to wonder what kind of confusion and complaints they must have been deluged with to cause that line to get added in to the e-mail.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Automatic Magazine Renewals

As I was renewing my subscription to Popular Science, I initially opted to use my credit card on the renewal form.  That is when I noticed this statement:

"Automatic Renew Benefits:  When paying with a credit card, your subscription will be conveniently renewed automatically at the end of each term at the low rate then in effect..."

This is absolute bullshit.  There needs to be an opt-in box on the form that allows me to select automatic renewal if I want it.  Even an opt-out check box would have been better than nothing.  There was simply no way to pay by credit card without automatic renewal being applied. 

Shame on you Popular Science.

When they say that it will be "conveniently" renewed, they mean convenient for Popular Science, not for the customer.

This is an unpopular billing practice, Popular Science.