Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

This week I'm moving from Decatur, GA to Alpharetta, GA. While that may seem like a big deal, they're only about 25-30 miles apart and both part of the Metro-Atlanta area. One is “ITP” the other “OTP”. One is in Dekalb County, the other in Fulton. And most importantly, one takes an hour or more to get to work from in rush hour traffic, the other five minutes.

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since we moved into the current apartment. And to be honest, I can't wait to get out of this place. It's not been a great experience. To be honest, when my buddy and I rented the place, we should have done more research, but time was a factor and it was cheap. I'm quite excited to be moving, not only to a place much closer to where I now work, but that isn't filthy, doesn't have broken stair, doesn't have trash piled up around the dumpsters, doesn't have rats as big as dachshunds, and doesn't have a bunch of children who don't have the sense to get out of the way of cars (amongst other things these little brats do around here). Mostly though, it's just really nice to finally be in a career path that pays enough to afford the place I'm moving to.

All that being said, though, oh my gods to I hate packing! To be fair, Roxanne has done 90% of the packing while I've been at work this past week. But still, just looking at the stacks of boxes is rediculous. We bought three ten packs of boxes from Office Depot (you know, the ones that come with the lids that are supposed to be for storing files). We've managed, just barely, to not (yet) open the third pack. Our lives are all in boxes now, except for a few essentials and things we still need access to for the next couple of days (like the PC I’m writing this blog on right now). So, after tonight, we'll be eating take out for supper so we can get all the rest of the kitchen stuff cleaned and packed. Tuesday night I'll take apart the PC (yes, I still use a tower, not a laptop). And Wednesday morning we'll get up early to make sure any last minute stuff is packed before the movers arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 that morning.

The decision to hire 'Two Guys and a Truck' was pretty easy. Moving in the middle of the week makes it rather difficult (dare I say, impossible) to get anyone to help (I'm not hatin'. I get it. People have to work during the week). So, yeah, they would've even done all the packing for us too. But let's be honest. They charge $125 per hour with a two hour minimum and then charge by the quarter after thereafter. So, I will be that guy that handles a fair amount of boxes myself to speed up the process. Their being hired to take care of the furniture, primarily, because, well, they have a truck and I can't lift the couch by myself.

So, hopefully, all will go smooth, we'll get everything moved in on Wednesday, mostly unpacked and the cable and internet hooked up at the new place on Thursday and I'll be right back to blogging next Sunday without having to miss a week. So, until then...

~ JC

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nook Tablet – First Impressions

Yesterday I finally went out and purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet. I researched and compared the Nook, the Kindle Fire, and several other tablets over the last few months before finally settling on the Nook Tablet. I'll admit, I came quite close to just getting a seven inch Android Tablet instead, but frankly, when comparing reviews, and considering that I don't necessarily need a full blown tablet, I ultimately decided on the Nook. At $250 it's still cheaper than most other tablets on the market and at seven inches instead of ten, it's much more portable for my needs. I also chose the Nook over the Kindle due to the Kindle's apparent dependence on cloud based storage. Now, I dig cloud based storage (I have Dropbox account as well as a Skydrive account, and lately I've been making pretty heavy use of my Google Documents account as well), but I really liked that the Nook supports both on board and microSD storage and the ability to import ebooks I already own as a result. After all, neither of them have a 3G nor 4G radio and require access to WiFi to connect to the internet, so being dependent on the cloud to view my stuff isn't very helpful if I'm not near a WiFi hotspot for which I have access.

So, here's the Pros and Cons I've found with the Nook Tablet so far; bear in mind, I've had it less than twenty-four hours at this point, but I have been playing with my new toy pretty heavily since getting it home.


  • On board storage of 16GB with support for up to 32GB of microSD storage
  • Size – very portable, although it is heavier than I was expecting it to be, but still lighter than carrying around a hardback book
  • Touchscreen – very responsive, very easy to read. It does smudge and show fingerprints pretty bad, but then again, so does every touchscreen I've ever used.
  • Nook Friends – I didn't think I'd find this to be a Pro or even something I'd necessarily use, but it's actually pretty cool that I can sync my Google and Facebook contacts with my Nook and view things that my friends have read and recommended.
  • USB transfer – plugged into my PC via a USB cable, transferring my existing ebooks, music, etc to the Nook is very very smooth. Essentially, it's no more difficult to do this than it is to use a thumb drive.
  • Reading – the built in Reader app can render both ePub and PDF formats. In fact, it does a better job of rendering PDF documents better than the built in PDF reader, which I find strange, but it's nice to have the option of using either one.
  • B&N Online – when connected to WiFi I can access Barnes & Nobles' online store and download books and media that they sell directly to the device. I also really like the fact that, if I'm in a B&N store, I get free access to WiFi and the ability to sample almost any book in their catalog for free for up to one hour before deciding if I want to buy it or not. I can also access and purchase comic books, magazines, and newspapers. And what I like about the magazine and newspaper option is that I can choose whether to buy a single issue, or pay a monthly subscription fee (rather than having to commit to a full 12-month subscription for print editions).
  • Speaking of WiFi, the setup for this was very smooth. I've connected to both the WiFi at my apartment and at my best friend's house with no problems or glitches. I haven't tried it at a B&N store yet, though.


  • Charging – the Nook can only be charged using a wall outlet. It will not charge from a USB port, which is disappointing and also very odd to me considering that every other USB enabled device that I've ever owned will simultaneously charge while I'm transferring my files. It also takes 2-3 hours to get a full charge that lasts (according to online reports) for 8-9 hours. I've not pushed the limits on this just yet, but I did give it a full charge when I got it home and used it pretty heavily for about eight hours afterwards, and it was only down to about 40% when I decided to put it back on the charger this morning.
  • Apps – OK, I knew this going in, but the fact that I can only access apps available from the Barnes & Noble App Store is proving to be a bit more irritating than I thought it would be. Compared to the Android Market, there are far fewer apps to choose from, and fewer still that are free. I've found a few articles on ways around this limitation that I'm sure I'll play around with over the coming days.
  • Auto adding to the home screen – It's really rather annoying that, when I open up an app, that it automatically adds itself to the home screen. I'm hoping I can find a setting that will negate this. Granted, it doesn't hurt functionality, but I would much rather decide for myself which apps I want readily available on the home screen versus ones that I can access as needed from the full App menu.
  • Browser – I've never been impressed with the stock Safari browser that comes with Android devices (the Nook is the third Android OS based device I've owned, the first two both being cellphones). I've had the browser force close on me several times, most notably when trying to view notifications on Facebook. Thankfully, one of the few free apps in the B&N App Store is Dolphin Browser, which I've used before on my my cellphones and which I'll undoubtedly download soon. I've also attempted to play music through the browser using my Slacker Radio account (since the app for it isn't available in the B&N App Store) and I couldn't even get the page to fully load. So far, this is just an annoyance, not a Con, that I'm hoping can be overcome by getting a different browser app.

All in all, I really just wanted an eBook reader, but chose the Nook Tablet to be able to have, at least, some tablet functionality instead of just a reader. I'm pretty confident in my choice of the Nook Tablet. There are few irritations and quirks to get used to and overcome as it does function a little differently than a pure Android tablet. What I like the best, though, is that I can carry the equivalent of a stack of books and gaming manuals around with me without making my book bag weigh a ton.

~ JC

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Some Chaotic Commentary

I started this blog on September 24, 2006. Until I went back and looked, I didn't realize I had been posting here for that long. Prior to this blog, I had one on LiveJournal (I don't remember when I started that one, only that it was deleted in May 2008). I've never written a blog for anyone other than myself, honestly. I've always enjoyed the act of writing and found it to be cathartic. I named it “... Chaotic Commentary” because I didn't want to be limited to a particular topic. As I've mentioned in the past, my friend Jimmy once commented that he could tell when everything was going well, because I hadn't updated the blog in awhile. I had always used this public forum to vent frustration or rant about things. Since then I've endeavored to try to write more often about a variety of topics from gaming to observations about life to reviews of books, movies, music, etc. to, well, whatever was on my mind at the time good or ill.

Over the years I've had large gaps in posting from time to time. For 2012 I decided (even though I didn't announce it, or make a “New Year's Resolution” to do so) that I wanted to try to actually end up with 52 posts – writing a blog once a week on Sundays. A lofty goal, perhaps, but it does give me something to do on Sunday mornings while I'm having my coffee.

In a lot of ways, Jimmy was right. It easier to find something to inspire my writing when I'm pissed off, and lately, I've not been all that pissed off. My more recent posts have been about moving from NC to GA, job hunting, apartment hunting, friends I've made since moving to Atlanta, beginning a new career, friends lost, games played, shitty traffic, and all sorts of other nonsense. I'll admit that the rise of Facebook caused my blogging to slow down a bit, as I've been able to share things there without having to hammer out an entire blog post. But sharing things on social media outlets just isn't the same as sitting down with a head full of thoughts and ideas and actually writing.

So, this morning, even though I have no specific topic in mind (I've written enough, for now, about house hunting I think) I write. For no other reason than because I freakin' felt like it.

~ JC

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Hunt is Over

Last week I wrote about our beginning adventures in house and apartment hunting in the Metro-Atlanta area. We have now spent the last two Saturdays looking at places (about six in total). Yesterday's journey took us to Alpharetta and Norcross. We absolutely loved both of the first two places we looked at and even got to explore a bit in Alpharetta while we killed time between our morning and afternoon appointments. So, I can now say that after living in the Metro-Atlanta area for a year and three months, that I've finally been to Northpoint Mall. Our visits to places in Norcross were very disappointing. One of the places, which I was iffy on anyway due to the very odd string of emails between Roxanne and the owner of the place (who lives in Oklahoma) met with a feeling of thinking it was possibly a scam. I mean, $900 a month including ALL utilities seems great on paper, but we couldn't even view the inside, nor could we even completely walk around the outside of the place due to how the place is built. It also appeared that the owner's furniture was still inside. Frankly, it looked like someone still lived there and I felt very uncomfortable looking in windows to try to view the place. The other place we were supposed to look at in Norcross was a big fat “no” as soon as I saw the outside of the place; it didn't help that the realtor never even showed up and when we called them, they tried to claim that we had emailed them to cancel the viewing. The offered to be there within ten or fifteen minutes, but by that time, they were already ten minutes late for the appointment, I was fighting a wicked bad migraine, and I had already decided that I didn't like the place based on how run down the outside looked.

So, after much debate and looking, we have finally decided on a nice little townhouse in Alpharetta, which is only five minutes away from my office. I have to admit, while I'm looking forward to no longer having to commute to work on GA-400 and I-285, I will miss the Decatur area. Ultimately, though, moving to Alpharetta (even though it is “OTP”) is the best move for us. The aforementioned commute, plus the better job prospects for Roxanne (with a BS in PR and Marketing and a MBA in Operational Management) make it a much more sound decision than trying to stay in Decatur just because we know where everything is. The increase in rent (by about $240) is easily offset by the savings in fuel and laundry alone (the place we'll be renting comes with a washer and dryer in the unit). I've even already started exploring the area via Google Maps, and we'll be within five to ten minutes of grocery stores and other shopping and restaurants.

The only thing left to do now is contact the realtor to start the paperwork, budget for the move (deposits, moving van, etc.) and start packing.

~ JC