Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I bought a meqleH off the back of a van #kli #tlh

Way back in 2004, I went to Starbase Indy. I didn't have very much money, and there wasn't very much to buy.
I browsed the tables in the dealer's room carefully, making sure that I bought just the right stuff.
There were two different booths with weapons. Neither of them had any Klingon blades. I asked table 1 if they had a meqleH, they did not. I didn't ask table 2.

Time went on, and I had spent my alloted cash.
I picked up a TNG PHASER universal remote, a Klingon lightswitch cover, and a TNG communicator for a friend.
It was about time to go when I was drawn back to table 2.
I browsed a bit, and then inquired after a meqleH.
I was told that they no longer carried them.

They then related a story:

A few conventions back, they had their table setup including *several* betleH.
Things were going along fine until the Paramount legal department showed up, with a few cops and some legal documents.

Paramount enforced their right to control their trademarked weapon, and took them all.
Hundreds of dollars of merchandise just walked out the door.

This obviously hurt their profit and their inventory.

They no longer bring such things with them--it's not worth it.

I was just about to give up ever finding a meqleH when (wait for it), I was told to hold on.

There was a private conversation to the side and then they came back to me.

"We have one in the van."

Turns out that when they were packing, a meqleH had been forgotten inside one of the totes, so when they unpacked at the convention, they left it in the van.

They gave me a price. I was estatic. (I called my wife)
A few minutes later, a man carrying a wrapped item came up. We stood around in a tight circle as he uncovered his wares. It was beautiful. Exactly what I wanted and more. I got weak in the knees.
I had seen some swords on e-bay, but none of them were right. This one was.
I agreed to the deal, made the payment, and they wrapped up my prize--tightly.
They put so much tape around the package, I thought I'd never get it out.
They told me to keep it sealed while at the Con, remove it from the Con imeadietly, and not to tell anyone where I got it.--and they meant it. They weren't going down for this.

I did as I was told.

I figure it's been long enough that I can tell this story now. I don't remember the name of the company or any details not listed in the story.

Friday, February 13, 2009

That Train Almost Killed Me!!!

Yes, as some of you may have noticed, I was almost run over by a locomotive the other day.

On 2/11/09 at 2:50a EST, I updated my status:
That train scared me to death! I thought I was going to die. Wow. My heart is *pounding*!

Here's how it went down.

I was done with work early and had picked up some extra jobs
I had just left the first job, and was on my way to the second.
This onvolved crossing over a divided highway.
Since it was late at night, this was easily done, but as I cleared the other side, I quickly crossed over a previously unseen set of train tracks.

Now, I have the habbit of looking up and down train tracks to look for distant trains. My heart *stopped* when I looked right into the light of a train--not even three yards away.

I was in shock. I pulled off to the side of the road and looked behind me. The red crossing lights weren't blinking, the arms weren't down. but there was the train--parked, not moving at all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Klingon Keyboard #tlh #kli

Not too long ago, Twitter was on fire with news of a Klingon keyboard.
I read *multiple* tech reviews on the item, each of them with the current date.

I was thrilled. Finally, after years of waiting, it was here.
I've been wanting a Klingon keyboard since 2002. At one point I even covered the keys on my laptop with stickers that I had written pIqaD characters on.

I was just about to pull out my bank card and head on over to the Cherry Keyboards site when I decided to find a picture.

Boy was I glad that I did.

I don't know which order the images ended up in, but I found a keyboard with a space background.
After close examination of the keys, I realized that THEY WERE WRONG!
How could they do this to me? I realize that I'm a niche market. I don't expect too many items, but I do expect the items to be worth buying.

So I left a rather wordy and angry comment on a product review site and then used the "Contact Us" feature of the Cherry site to send them a rather harsh letter.

*After* I sent the message, I was informed that the keyboards came out in 2007.

"jumqu'. I got at email from a Robin at Cherry in '07 saying they'd start selling them on 11/26. Wonder what sparked interest...?"

Which would explain why the keyboard wasn't USB.

I was shocked when I got an e-mail from Robin Bithrey,
Technical Support Engineer - Keyboards.

I don't have a copy of my rant, but this is her reply:


With reference to your mail sent through the 'Cherrykeyboardsrus' website.

I'm certainly interested to see where this has all gone wrong with the
layout. We researched the internet before producing this keyboard and
from what we could see, this was the layout used for pIqaD, so I'm not
sure where it's all fallen down...

Unfortunately, the keyboard hasn't been particularly popular and was
originally announced simply as a marketing exercise, but after we
received a few enquiries for them, we decided to go ahead and make
them. Because of the manufacturing processes we use, it's not possible
to make small quantities and we had to order 65pcs to bring them over
to fulfil orders for just a handful - because of this, it's therefore
doubtful that we'll manufacture these again - unless we receive a
large order for them that is!

I hope this is useful. If you have any further questions and can give
us an indication as to where the errors are in the layout, please do
not hesitate to contact me.


Wow, they wrote me about an old product. Cool. And they asked me to write back, so I did.
I felt the need to explain myself. Why am I suddenly tearing apart their product after all this time.

This is what I wrote while waiting at the tire shop:
Let me back up.

A couple of days ago, I read 2 reviews for the Klingon ketboard before ending up on your site. These were NEW reviews with the current date. I didn't find out that they keyboard was old news until after I wrote you.
I have seen countless other reviews, and the social network, Twitter has been on fire with news of your product.
The internet has rediscovered you.

I note that the site lables the image as a "mock up". This also helps it feel new.
I wrote you, hoping, to prevent this mock up from being the final product. I had no idea it went on sale back in 2007.

The layout.

The picture isn't much to work with. It's at an angle and doesn't show all the keys.After looking it over with other Klingonists, we're wondering if it is based on the German mapping instead of the American mapping. The placement of the "y" for example.

Most, not all, of the Klingon pIqaD fonts out there use the same mapping system.
The Klingon alphabet is:
a, b, ch, D, e, gh, H, I, j, l, m, n, ng, o, p, q, Q, r, S, tlh, u, v, w, y, '.
26 characters.

Start with the standard American QWERTY keyboard. Then put the obvious characters on.
The rest map as so:
This leaves the 'z' key blank. It's used to mke the Klingon "logo".

The picture doesn't show Klingon numbers, the Klingons have 0-9 and the mapping is simple.

Klingons have 2 punctuation marks. An upturned and downturned triangle. The upturned triangle covers the period, question mark, and exclamation point. The downturned triangle covers the comma and semi-colon.
Not many fonts include the punctuation, but for the sake of an accurate keyboard, it should be done this way. This will encourage more complete font sets.

We then get into the problem of all those other keys. I'm typing on a Palm Centro, so I can't think of what they are.
Since a Klingon keyboard will purchased by both American and non-American customers, it would be best to stick with pictograms, or language neutral lables.
As an international keyboard company, you know more about that than I do.
Unoficially, meaning not part of the actual pIqaD, Klingonists do use < and > instead of ". Since ' is a letter, confusion is avoided.
Having those two characters might be helpful.
If you wanted translations for "escape" or "shift" and the like, that would take a little more effort, but certainly be possible. The folks over at the Klingon Language Institute (myself included) would be glad to help.

I hope I have made sense, and that this helped. If you have a non-mock up picture, I'd love to see that too.

I also hope that the recent buzz around the web has ended up in some orders for you.

And the site says "in stock" is this the case? One of my friends thinks he might be able to rearange the keys himself.
I had to cut & paste that message in 160 word incraments, I'm pretty sure it survived. I might be missing a line break or two...

And then, a while later, I got another message. Not only that, but it came with pictures. (the non-space pics up top).

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you - it's been a little hectic in here following a recent trade-show and I'm ploughing through e-mails as we speak.

Thanks very much for the explanation and further info on the Klingon language. We're stuck a little at the moment with making any changes to the layout of the product, simply because of some legal issues we're checking into. This also prevents us from publicising the product any further unfortunately and we've been approached by a UK sci-fi magazine to place an advert that we can't take them up on.. During the time that this PR was released again on the Internet and through the UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, we've seen increased activity on Klingon related websites, we've been featured on at least two local radio stations (one here, one further to the north of England) and were even contacted by a radio station in Canada for an interview. Also, a German magazine/website has asked to feature images and a short review - a positive hive of activity surrounding nothing more sinister than a marketing idea. However, all this may be in vain, as after taking some advice from our legal department in Germany, there may be some copyright issues with the owners of the Star Trek brand and the last thing we want to do is upset anyone!! We're therefore contacting them to find out our position with this product - bearing in mind that there is no mention on the keyboard or the packaging of either Star Trek or Klingon - simply a changed part number from our perspective from what is one of our 'standard' keyboard lines. The product has been manufactured for the last 14-15 years and we've made some 30million of them in different language options. As this product is made in Germany, we have a certain flexibility for smaller production runs - to get this product made, we needed to order just 65pcs.

Ultimately, it is possible to amend any layout. We have the 'bill of materials' set up at the factory for production, so all we would need to do is inform them of the changes required and they'd be able to adjust the laser program accordingly. This is a big advantage for us with this range of keyboards - each product is made completely blank and then passed through the laser printer to literally burn the image of the letters onto the keycap. With other ranges (and products from other manufacturers), the printing process is far less flexible and more time-consuming. However, as explained, until the legalities are sorted out, we can't do a thing......

The Klingon alphabet was taken from the font available for download from the KLI site - one I simply came across whilst searching and had no prior knowledge of. Whether it is perfectly correct or not, we actually have no idea, as all I did was install the font, hit each key and relay this information to the factory, who mocked up a quick sample, which we amended slightly and then asked them to press the big button....Attached, you'll find a couple of images, which aren't brilliant, but do show the 'completed' keyboard - even through there are no Klingon numbers or punctuation on this early version. The image shown on the '' website are simple, mock images. The keyboard shown in their picture, is our 'Stream' model and not available in Klingon (sorry - minimum order quantity for this model in language variants is some 1000pcs!). I believe that this image was either mocked by them, or it could have been by our PR company, but it's certainly not an image of the finished product.

Regarding the 'in stock' comment, it is actually quite true. Currently, we have 40pcs in stock here at Cherry UK, with a handful available at a couple of our distributors. We are selling these on our ebay shop and have been for the last couple of months or so......slow as they may be to sell, they do sell! Two of our distributors had enquiries for the keyboards following the press 'frenzy', one of which sold a small quantity to one of the UK's largest retailers, PC World (otherwise known in the business world as PCWBD or Equanet) who must have had orders - they don't order unless their customers do!

I hope this explains our position a little further and that the images show what we've actually done in a real product, instead of the mock one you've seen previously. I also hope that the layout is a little more correct!! Once the legalities are sorted, then it may be that if there are further orders from our customers, we can commission a change to the key printing, but alas, if no orders appear, then unfortunately, the Klingon keyboard will be confined to that great cloaking device in the sky.....


Wow. Renewed interest indeed. Contact with Paramount? With the new movie coming up, chances of approval are high.
If Paramount gives the green light, they'll be able to unleash this thing. And they might even redesign it!
I'm on pins and needles over here.

But what about those pics? What does the REAL Klingon Keyboard look like?
My Palm doesn't like those two pics. I have not been able to study them in the detail that I would prefer.
As far as I can tell, the letter keys were the only thing "Klingon". And they appear to be correct.
Even without the number keys, I'd be tempted to buy one. But I'll wait and see what happens over the next few months first.
I would just like to toot my own horn and say that this post was done ONLY with the aid Palm Centro smart device. Then I'd like to disclaim that it has very small keys and no spell-check.

Well *I'm* impressed...

(Oh, and I should point out that it's the middle of my night and I really shouldn't be blogging and probably left out a few thoughts. Sorry)

(the #kli & #tlh in the title are twitter hashtags)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Policies May LOOK Pretty, but How Do They TASTE?

The notice says:

"Stop letting STAT drivers wait for meds more than 45 minutes. Dispatchers and Desk Personne (sic) are responsible for stopping driver wait time.

As soon as a driver approaches 45 minutes you are to cancel his run and assign him to a new run. No wait time pay.
Having a driver wait for hours is obscene let alone the money it is costing."

First, the way it used to work.

A driver is assigned a STAT to his Nextel, he then has 30 minutes to get to the Pharm.

On occasion (well, often), the Pharm will not have the meds ready, and the driver will have to wait. The first 45 minutes are free. After that, you start getting paid. I've seen drivers wait HOURS for a run. And while most of us prefer to be on the road, the wait time can be nice.

The way it LOOKS at first:

As you can tell, someone rejoiced at this news by writing "Happy New Year to us!" on the notice.
That's exactly what they want us to think.
If they're not supposed to let the drivers wait, that must mean that they're giving drivers runs. This'll be great. No more standing around for hours. It's almost garunteed to be out under 45 minutes.

Not quite.

The way it IS:

Driver is waiting. It hits 40 minutes. Driver has job TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM. Driver is given NEW job. THE CLOCK STARTS OVER AT *ZERO*!!!

That is what the notice says. It says nothing about the Pharm learning to be on time.

So the driver could be waiting for over 2 hours, and not make a dime.

It's a policy designed to save the Pharm some money while screwing over the drivers in the process.

They're going to lose drivers over this, and I'll think twice before accepting any STATS.

On a side note, the Pharm *could* use this money to pay more pharmacists. Then they'd be ON TIME and make their customers happy, but that would make sense.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I lost your number. Again...

Yes, almost a year later, I have once again lost all of the contacr info I had in my phone. I guess that plan I had to back it up never happened.

I have begun hunting down information in order to re-build my contacr list, but it's slow going.

So I'm asking for your help. After all, it's YOUR information I'm after, and I want it to be up to date.

You, of course, can disclose as little or as much about yourself as you want, but this is the info my phone has fields for (and I DO love being complete).

Name (Preferably your FULL name--especially my Hawaiian relatives)

Picture (Yes, both my phone AND my gmail let me store a picture of you. If you have one that you prefer, let me know.)

Company & Title (Not overly important, but interesting)

Phone numbers (home, work, cell, fax--whichever number you want me to have. Also, if you TXT or have Picture Mail, let me know. If you DO NOT want TXTs, that's also good to know. It's been a while since I've sent out a random TXT, but it happens.)

e-mail (probably the most important next to texting)

IM (I'm not on too often, but just in case)

website (got one? I'd love to check it out)

Address (So I can send you stuff. Letters, cards, etc.)

Birthday (I can't wish you a happy one if I don't know when it is... I realize it's a sensative subject for some, but I'd like the year too.)

Anniversary (You're married?! Congrats! When did it happen? And what happened to my invitation ;-) ?

And then my phone has some free-form areas. Do you have children? Names? Birthdays? Who'd you marry? Name? Birthday?

And of course anyrhing else you feel I may need to know.

And while I'm digging into your life, what social networks are you on? I'd love to be your friend there too! Have a blog? I'd love to read it!

(Do we have a mutual friend who doesn't read this blog? Please pass it along, I need their info too)

I plan to record this information on paper as well as in my phone, to serve as a back-up. I really am tired of losing my friends numbers.

What about me? Oh, I'll gladly give you all of my info, just not on a public blog.

e-mail me:

Or find me on: twitter, brightkite, facebook, or MySpace.

Note to my facebook friends: My contact info is on my profile.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

T-Shirt Archival Project #tsap

Back when I was in high school, I spent my disposable income on T-shirts. Mostly, they were the kind with clever phrases on them.
I gave shirts as gifts, and recived some too.
Yes, high school & T-shirts went hand in hand.

While I don't go out searching the racks for that perfect shirt any more, I do wear a few of them. And I've noticed that they're getting old.

So, while you can still tell what it's supposed to be, I'm going to attempt to take a picture of one T-shirt a day until I've captured them all.

I may try to spice things up by tossing in one of my children's shirts every now and then.

To make things easier on me, I'll be trying to mark each pic with the hashtag #tsap. That way I can search twitter AND gmail.

Feel free to add coments to the pics as they go up. I would prefer that you commented on the picture itself, as opposed to a seperate message to me. This way, everyone can enjoy it.

As it stands now, the pics will be uploaded to Brightkite, flickr, MySpace, TwitPic, facebook, Picasa, and my gmail account.