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April 2009

Written By: Gary on April 24, 2009 One Comment

So I finally got a decent video of me jumping at the upper falls. I played with the GPS today and I’m figuring they are about 40 feet high.

Direct link to HQ video

I like this jump even though it’s kinda high because there aren’t (m)any rocks below you so you don’t have to push out as far. It’s not that I mind the pushing, it’s just I worry about not pushing enough.

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This is a view from the side of the same falls.

Written By: Gary on April 23, 2009 No Comment

It’s always a debate to how high the waterfalls in Montezuma are. It comes up almost every visit to the falls. So today I specifically took some readings with the GPS (location just isn’t longitude and latitude, it’s height too!) and came up with the following numbers —
Water level of first waterfall: 82 feet (above numbers see level)
Waterlevel of second fall (which is top of the first fall): 238 feet
Top of second falls: 280/313 feet

If you don’t want to see how the numbers work out and the how whys of my rounding (and I rounded way down for the first one and a little for the second one). I’d say the first water fall is 130 feet (40 meters) and the second is 40 feet (12 meters).

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Here’s the way I did the math and the “rounding”:
So 238-82=156 and rounding down I’d say this makes the big falls about 150 feet (47 meters). That’s higher than I thought it would be and there is error in these GPSs so lets round down to 40 meters and say it’s 130 feet. I’m hoping that’s generous enough to where people wont’s say it’s an exaggeration. This is mostly consistent with some readings I took last fall.

The next falls up, where people do a lot of jumping was 42 feet when I took the readings, I did the math then and I know that’s what it said. The bookmark on my GPS says it was at 313 feet, but maybe I moved when I wrote the bookmark, I know I started talking about it so if I stood up and went to a higher rock I easy could have added another 12 feet. From last fall I recorded 303 feet, but at the time I was looking for long/lat and not height so I have no idea where I was standing (and all my readings for fall were about 18-20 feet higher but it was extra cloudy). So I’m going to stick with 40 feet for this measurement (12 meters) since every thing else says it’s actually higher (I would have guessed it’s more like 30 feet, maybe 35 but what do I know?).

Yes, I know there are many variables in the GPS so these are estimates, but it’s better than how it’s been discussed before which is a bunch of people standing around looking at it and guessing. Also, the water levels change here, but only by a few feet. It’s particularly low right now.

Written By: Gary on April 22, 2009 No Comment

It just started to rain out. It’s really been looking like it’s wanted to for a few hours now, the waves have been pretty rough all day (I didn’t go into the ocean, even though I planned to) and there’s been cloud cover and extra humidity all day. I dashed into the Pizza Parlor in Montezuma. I’m now sitting upstairs under the steel roof and it’s coming down pretty hard right now and it sounds great. I can see the waves crashing in and I’m pretty happy about it.

It’s been pretty long since they’ve had rain in Montezuma. It’s been drier and a lot dustier than normal since I’ve been here. I’m hoping for at least a 1/2 hour of this (if not hours more), I can see it’s pretty clear in the distance. Although I’m looking more south than west; hmm, do the weather patterns go NW here? And I meant to bring a plastic bag for my stuff

Everything has just been so dry. I’ve really been missing some of the greenness I saw on my last visit (there are leaves, they’re just kind of wimpy/sad looking). Hiking has been a little tricky since there is gravel and pebbles everywhere making the hills a little slippery, some rain would help wash that away.

So I’ve got a great slice of pepperoni and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola for 1,800 colones (the exchange rate isn’t great right now, so I’m guessing about $3.50). Actually, it’s dos (2) bottles of Coke (they’re only 12 ounces). And if I’m trapped here in the rain for a while I might need more.

Direct link to video.

The other problem is they tore up the road to put some new draining piping in. I’m not sure how far they got before the rain started. It’s been inconvenient for people driving who drove into town and a few minutes later there was no road. There’s only two ways in and out from that section of town and it’s probably ten kilometers around the long way. That’s really annoying if you don’t know your way around.

It’s cut in and out a few times since I’ve been typing this but I think it’s go for a little bit longer. I’m not sure if it’ll be enough to cut through the forest and clears the paths, but I guess I’ll know tomorrow. There was one big flash of lightening/thunder when it started and while I’ve heard some thunder I haven’t seen more lightening. It’s by far the coolest for this time of day since I’ve been here.

Later: It’s stopped (maybe 45 minutes of rain?) but I can hear lots of thunder in the distance so maybe we’ll get some more later.

Written By: Gary on April 21, 2009 No Comment

So here’s a few videos of the Fire Dancing in Montezuma that I put some photos up the other day. FYI, they’re both available in large HD versions if you follow the direct link and click the HD icon.

This one is a little dark but gives you some idea better definition of how the fire moves.

Direct HD link to the first Fire Dancing Video.

The second one is a little brighter but streaks the fire more, giving a different effect.

Direct HD link to the second Fire Dancing Video

Written By: Gary on April 20, 2009 3 Comments

So when I was last in Costa Rica I saw this guy wearing shoes similar to these.

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I thought they were pretty cool so I asked him about them. They are called Vibram Five Fingers. I got these because they had the strap across them so they won’t fall off in the water.

Direct link to Higher Quality video.

They’re a little thin on the soles and I never go barefoot so I’ll have to see how these work for me.

Here’s a similar pair at Amazon. Vibram FiveFingers Classic Shoes Five Fingers M105 Men's 43, Running, Fitness Training & Martial Arts Sports Vibram

Written By: Gary on April 19, 2009 No Comment

So it’s actually my second day in Montezuma, but it’s my first full day so I made the most of it. I picked up a sandwich first thing in the morning and I hiked up to the waterfalls and stayed for hours. It’s really hot today so I took 5 bottles of stuff to drink (2 water, 2 gatorade and 1 coke).

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The water level was low in the river. Not too low just lower than the last two times I was just (at the beginning and ends of rainy season). Many of the rocks in the above photo would be covered with water, causing it to be (almost) like rapids. It made for an easy walk. It’s not hard to navigate the rocks or even step in the water, but it the water isn’t clear it’s hard to tell if it’s 6 inches deep or 6 feet deep.

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I jumped around into the pond at the bottom of the falls; it’s hard to see the big rock on the left (since I didn’t get it in the photo) that I was jumping off of but I’d have landed in between those swimmers (but I waited until they were gone). I tried to climb up into the falls themselves but the rocks were too slippery today, after three falls I took the hint and gave up.

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Then I went up to the upper falls, if look at the above photo you can see the where the water runs over the far edge, that’s the top of the waterfall from the previous photo.There were multiple groups of people up there and everyone was pretty social today, it was pretty fun up there. Lots of people jumping, with everyone encouraging everyone to jump. I actually jumped from the spot where I took the above photo (I need a better one to show how high of a fall it was).

Obviously, I had a hike back down so I post more later (with some more photos)…

FYI, I ended up drinking 6 bottles of fluids, I stopped at the butterfly gardens hotel (at the top of the hill on the way back) and picked up another drink. They had cold sodas and my last was pretty warm by then, but I still managed to finish the warm gatorade before I made it home.

Written By: Gary on April 18, 2009 2 Comments

So I always love when I get to see some fire dancing in Montezuma. My first night was no disappointment.

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All the photos should be clickable for larger versions. I’ll try and post some video later.

Written By: Gary on April 13, 2009 349 Comments

So I get an e-mail from iTunes today stating that an episode for my new season pass for “Sophie” has arrived. The first thing I thought was that I accidentally clicked “buy season” when I downloaded the free pilot last week. But when I check the receipt I see six other items (in addition to the season pass) totaling $61.93! Not only that, I see another order for $5.97! Not a chance that I placed these orders (FYI, the orders were placed at 1 am and 5 am).

Here’s the really strange part:Almost all of the purchase was videos (tv, movies, movie rentals) and I think those kinds of videos still have DRM in them and no additional computers were authorized. What good are these to anyone if they didn’t authorize a computer? Can they even play them? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have just downloaded torrents of these files? These oddities make me think it’s an accounting error.

So I had to “report a problem” to Apple/iTunes for each of the 10 individual items. The e-mails went something like this:

I did not place this order for any of the 3 items on this order. Nor has my computer downloaded these items. It’s order XXXXXXXX I also have another order from today (ZZZZZZZZ) that I did not place.

I’ve changed my password as a precaution. I also tried to play some older protected/DRM’d music and it still plays (so I’m guessing if someone hijacked something they didn’t deauthorize my computers).

Gary LaPointe (phone ###-###-#####)

PS – These purchases don’t even meet my normal purchasing patterns.

My responses appear to be identical other than contact info (and I only got one response for each of the two orders):

Dear Gary,

My name is Jane Doe with the iTunes Store. I’m so sorry to hear of the unauthorized charges made with your iTunes Store account. I can certainly appreciate your concerns, and will do everything I can to assist in having this resolved.

With regards to financial reimbursement for the charges in question, these would have to be removed by a specialized team, designated to handle requests of this nature. I would urge you to contact your credit card company as soon as possible to inquire about canceling the card and removing the unauthorized transactions. A member of your credit card’s fraud department will contact the iTunes Store directly, and this team will resolve the issue. I apologize that I’m unable to remove the charges myself, but all unauthorized transactions must be handled in this manner.

If you suspect you are the victim of identity theft, please consider following these recommendations:

(they then gave 14 lines of tips that I cut out)

I sincerely hope that you are able to resolve this matter with the help of your credit card company, as soon as possible, Gary. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely,

Jane Doe
iTunes Customer Store Support

Please note that I work, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12:30 PM – 9:00 PM this week

The identity theft issues don’t even make sense. Why would someone steal my charge card number and log into my iTunes account? The CC number won’t even get them into my account and if they had a CC number, they could just create their own new account and I wouldn’t have know about it for days. And Apple doesn’t display the account number. I’m thinking, it’s an accounting or some bits on the web got mixed up. And the responses were generic enough where I’m not 100% sure they read the post.

I did notice they they did include their working schedule, which was even evdifferent for the two different people who responded (neither of whom were named “Jane”), it’s a nice touch but they both had the same return address (although the “follow-up” code could possibly redirect it).

I responded with:

Jane,

I will have my charge card company dispute/remove the charges as you said to do below. I have changed my password.

I have four (4) questions below in bold.

Unless I’m mistaken, they only gained access to my iTunes account. They don’t have my charge card number, iTunes doesn’t display the number for them to see, correct? A charge card number will not get them into my iTunes account. If they actually have my charge card number, I’d think they’d charge more than $70 of music/videos and

So this is either someone guessed my password (which was letters, numbers and non-alphanumeric characters) or some data packets got mixed up as someone else was placing their order. Since I have the two authorized computers in my possession and I know no one else was here using them, I’m assuming the latter.

Can someone actually download songs/videos to a non-authorized computer if they guessed my password?
Since videos still have DRM, someone wouldn’t actually be able to play them, correct?

Someone at the iTunes Customer Store Support can’t actually intervene in some way, at least to stop someone from downloading the season pass?
If it’s just an accounting error, it’s still going to download the season pass to my computer the next time I purchase a song.

Without my new password I’m assuming someone cannot download more of the season pass. I don’t even see how they could have in the first place without authorizing a computer.

Thank you,
Gary

And I can’t even dispute these charges yet since they haven’t fully been charge to my credit card company yet.

If anyone from iTunes/Apple is reading this and wants to fix this. You can leave a comment below or contact me directly.

UPDATE:

Wow! Lots of people with similar problems these last few weeks (see comments below), but I’m the only one that didn’t seem to have gift cards purchased on my account.

So it looks like my charge card is refunding the two dollar amounts to my charge card. This is contingent to Apple not disagreeing with my claim. FYI, after I said it was kind of stupid that they weren’t going to cancel the season pass since I was disputing it and they were still delivering the shows, Apple did contact me to say they would refund the rest of the season pass (right around the same time).

PS – It appears the Apple does not allow you to cancel a season pass! This is insane, it’s to their benefit to get you to subscribe, the fact that you can’t cancel is a non-motivator. Obviously if it was a discounted season pass and you canceled it, you’d pay the full price for episodes already received. Just seems like an obvious solution.

I still don’t understand what they are doing with these iTunes protected movies/shows if they can’t play them? Why not just download torrents off the ‘net if they are going to steal?

MY UPDATE: I got Apple to cancel the season pass and I did get my money refunded from my credit card company. It was confusing the way it cam through, I might have actually gotten credited from the rest of the season too (so I might have come out ahead, but after all the e-mails/contacting, I’m sure I ended up way behind).

——- ARE YOU FROM BOSTON?!? ——

A news station is doing a story on this and was looking for some people in the Boston area. If you are interested in being contacted please state so in your comment. I’ll pass your e-mail on to them. If you put your phone number, I’ll pass that on too, but I’ll delete it from the comment (if you’ve never commented before your comment should not appear until I approve it). Sadly I never heard any more details about the Boston story after forwarding details to them…

Written By: Gary on April 6, 2009 One Comment

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) Apple ComputerOverall, I really love my iPod iTouch. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s an iPhone without the phone, GPS or camera, but without the monthly prices! And while I love it I’ve got a few complaints:
1) Why isn’t it called an iTouch? It’s the obvious name, I will continue to call it that even though it’s wrong.
2) The music playing isn’t iPod-ish enough. I’ll be playing an audio file and I can’t see how long it is or how far I am into it (or have to go). It’s got more than enough room on the screen. And I need a better way for fast forwarding and rewinding, I should be able to drag a slider across the screen, not the old-fashioned hold and press on the virtual button. Give me a virtual scroll wheel in the middle of the screen or some configuration changes in the options…
4) I need a better way to manage the applications screens. I know you can drag them but it’s a pain. Any new applications just get dumped in the first free space. Let me create some categories and sort them hierarchically (like my music) but I need to put some items in multiple categories (or at least a category and a “favorites”).
3) No cut and paste! I’ve type my name, zip, and e-mail about a million times in the last week. I know they are adding it this summer but it too two years! They really need another button next to “cut, copy, paste” that says “shortcuts” where I can put the stuff I type all the time.
5) Needs some more applications for viewing info off-line. Mail works great, a few work decent, the rest require a connection.
6) No built-in microphone.
7) This thing really sucks the power! It really needs an easier way to turn the WiFi off (how about clicking the WiFi icon on the screen!).

I’m sure I’ll add some more basic complaints and I will be praising this (and applications) in future posts.

Written By: Gary on April 3, 2009 No Comment

TGIFriday’s is a sit-down casual restaurant chain in the US, I think they’re all over. They’ve got a deal for penny appetizers and buy an entree get an entree for a dollar.

TGIFridays.pngIf it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it’s that awesome of a deal:
0) Print the coupon and read the fine print on the coupon.
1) Sign up for their “Stripes” (frequent flyer) program and they’ll mail you the coupon within 24 hours.
2) Go to the bar and eat an appetizer for a penny (any except the two big sample plates).
3) You must order a drink (doesn’t no have to be alcoholic).
4) The e-mail says to move to the tables to order the entree, but it seems they don’t care.
5) It’s one coupon per person: So two people can get one appetizer and two entrees for somewhere about $11.01 (1 penny + two $10 appetizers) plus your drinks.
6) Don’t forget to tip your wait staff based on the price before discount.
7) They then generally tell me to proceed to come back again to use the same coupon until April 30, 2009. FYI, the coupon I have does not require the card so you can print more.
8) Come back here and tell me what great deal you got!

You could use this for two people for two one-penny appetizers with two of that coupon. Ask before you try this, but I’ve done it once.

Obviously, if you don’t like TGIFridays, it’s not that great of a deal.

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