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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Popping Callouts

November 17th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Popping Callouts] A preliminary new popping callout technique is announced. XHTML and CSS-valid, the technique has been tested in IE6, IE7, FireFox, Opera and Netscape. An interesting new way to present callout information (and images) in web articles.

Zooming Images in a Callout

Randsco Labs - Our reporters have learned that Randsco web developers have been working on a new XHTML and CSS technique.

Randsco executives revealed a few details at a recent press conference. They referred to the technique as "Popping Callouts" and promised a full write-up in the near future. They said they support the open source community and will post the XHTML and CSS code, making it available to web-designers and other Internet users.

"The technique is a blend between the 'acronym' tag and a 'sidebar' (or 'callout')" explained Scott Kimler, head developer.

Callouts are a journalistic tool; small, typographic boxes presented along side an article, often containing ancillary, detailed or contrasting information about some aspect of the main article.

"Using 'Popping Callouts' on a web page," explained Scott, "means that you can embed a callout into the web document like a link. The callout remains hidden, until a visitor mouses over it. Then a box pops up and the callout or sidebar, which may contain paragraphs and images, reveals itself."

"It saves on page real estate, makes the page more interactive and we think it will be a useful tool for web designers, bloggers and webmasters."

Although no further information could be obtained at press-time, we surreptitiously obtained a link to one of the testing pages, being developed at the Randsco labs.

Scott indicated that the technique works in multiple versions of Internet Explorer (6 and 7), FireFox, Opera and Netscape.

Look for a final demonstration, along with a description and cut'n-paste code, at the Randsco.com site soon!

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Updated: 7-Dec-2007
Web View Count: 3789 viewsLast Web Update: 7-Dec-2007
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Squirrel Wars

November 11th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Squirrel Invaders] For 38 days, Randsco staff have been at war against several destructive squirrels, infiltrating the attic. Recent victories against the squirrels provides hope.

Tide Turns Against Squirrel Invaders

Some time ago, we reported that Randsco headquarters, in rural Vancouver Island, might have rats in the attic. Recently, however, sources close to Randsco have told us that our prediction was in error. It's not rats, it's squirrels!

A few weeks ago, the Randsco head janitor was sweeping the main fireplace chimney. As he was climbing off the roof, he spied a squirrel, running along a ridge-line.

"Hello there!" he said to the squirrel, waving in a friendly manner. (Randsco staff are instructed to be respectful of their wild-land neighbors).

The janitor's demeanor changed, however, when he witnessed the squirrel, entering the attic. Upon closer inspection, the janitor noted that the squirrel gained entry through a surprisingly large gap between a cedar shake roofing shingle and the eave fascia board, right at the apex of the gabled building.

"So that's what has been making all the ruckus in the attic," said Randsco nurse, Rachel, when shown the squirrel's 'front door'.

"How do we get rid of them?" she asked.

Good question, Rachel. And not an easy one to answer.

Fondness for these cute, furry squirrels has been replaced by a more base emotion, at Randsco, as battle lines have been drawn. For the past few weeks, staff members have been fighting to evict a family of squirrels from their building. The squirrels have been nesting, chewing, scratching and rooting around in (closed) soffits, attic and wall spaces.

"Until recently, all our efforts at eviction, have been in vain," reports Scott Kimler, chief editor, "These intelligent and pesky squirrels have been laughing at us, every time we go outside! It's as if they're taunting us, saying, 'Ha ha ... you can't get us!'"

Apparently, the tide in the Randsco squirrel war has changed. Recent reports indicate that staff are bolstered by recent 'victories' and are even beginning to believe that the squirrel war is winnable.

The number of squirrels living in the attic is unclear, though staff members report having seen three squirrels on the building, at one time.

"It makes working difficult," reports Scott, "every now and again, you can hear them scratching, gnawing or shuffling in the walls. It's very disruptive, not to mention damaging to the premises."

Our sources close to Randsco headquarters report that gun-fire has been heard, during early-morning hours. More recently, sources indicate that two of the pesky squirrels have been caught - alive. During subsequent interrogation, the captive squirrels have remained silent, revealing nothing about enemy numbers, battlements or strategies.

"We really don't know what kind of numbers we're up against," said Rachel, "but we're hoping that eviction is two-thirds complete".

Only time will tell.

Stay tuned for any late-breaking developments in the war against the squirrels.

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Updated: 17-Nov-2007
Web View Count: 3621 viewsLast Web Update: 17-Nov-2007
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Randsco Move

November 8th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Randsco Moves] In a bold move, Randsco ditched their shared server provider in Houston (SiteGround.com) and moved to a dedicated server in Atlanta, Georgia.

Broadcasting from Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta - It took three days for Randsco staff to pack boxes and move their entire web operation from Houston, Texas, to Atlanta, Georgia.

For six days in June, Randsco web operations were beleaguered with problems at their shared, web-server host - SiteGround.com. First a hardware problem took a number of days to resolve, then a notice that the Randsco website was "consuming a very high percentage of the server resources and endangered the performance of [the] site and all the sites on the server".

During a follow-up interview, Randsco chief editor said, "We've reached a level where we demand more than a shared hosting company can provide."

Since June, Randsco has been looking for a new home and recently found one, on a dedicated Linux server sitting in Atlanta, Georgia (of all places).

"You should see the server loads now!" exclaimed Scott, after the move, "On the SiteGround server, it was common to see loads in excess of 10%. Now they're around 0.3%! This means a faster, more stable visitor experience."

"Heck, at SiteGround," said Scott, "we even saw loads exceeding 150%. How is that possible?"

Loading speed is one of the main benefits of the new, co-hosted, dedicated server. Other benefits include more control, avoiding overloads from poorly written scripts, no more capricious policy changes, loads of disk space and tons of bandwidth.

Grunting like Tim-the-tool-man-Taylor, Scott says, "Hey, Randsco now rocks! We're broadcasting from a brand-new, Intel 3.0GHz Dual-Core server having two - 160GB Serial-ATA Hard Drives, 2 GB of RAM and 1.5 Terabytes of bandwidth."

"Right now we're sharing the space with very few websites!" he explained, "Compare that with the 560+ sites on the older SiteGround server! If you shout on our new server, you have to wait a few seconds, then you hear the echo!"

"Good-bye SiteGround!" he said, waving his middle finger in a generally southerly direction, "We're happy to leave a shared host that thinks server overloading is directly related to the number of links on a page."

"We couldn't have made our move without the help of friends. A special shout goes out to ¥åββå and Whoo. Thank you!"

Although the Randsco move is complete, Scott indicated that there might be periodic disruptions, for the next month or so, until all the new server kinks have been ironed out. Ultimately, visitors will enjoy rock-solid stability and faster page download speeds.

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Updated: 11-Nov-2007
Web View Count: 4478 viewsLast Web Update: 11-Nov-2007
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Second Chrysler Transmission Failure

October 27th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Chrysler Transmission Failure] After only 20,000 miles, the genuine Mopar transmission replacement (for their 1993 Chrysler Grand Voyager LE mini-van) failed. Unbelievable.

2nd Chrysler Transmission Dies

Lonely Deserted Highway - Returning from a family vacation last weekend, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Kimler family noticed something awry with their 1993 Chrysler Grand Voyager mini-van. Coming to a stop light, the car began to jerk and lunge.

"What's that?" asked Rachel, sitting in the passenger seat.

"I don't know," said Scott, his voice filled with dread, "it feels like the transmission."

Pulling away from the light, the transmission bumped and skipped, but managed to come up to speed. They limped along for another 15 kilometers, stopping by a friends house to pick up their four baby chicks, which were being looked after, while they were away. Pulling out of the driveway, the transmission made a horrible grinding sound.

"It sounds like we're dragging a branch," said Rachel.

Scott stopped the car and Rachel got out, looking under the car to see if, indeed they were dragging something.

"I don't see anything," said Rachel, climbing back into the car.

Scott put the car into 'drive' and the grinding started. Scott put the vehicle into 'reverse' and grinding was heard. Stepping on the gas, the Chrysler mini-van lunged, skipped and bumped, the transmission not quite catching.

BOOM. Just like that, the transmission died.

The van was towed to a nearby transmission shop, where the news wasn't pleasant.

"You're going to need another transmission," said Steve, the owner of the shop.

This is the second transmission failure since the couple bought the car in April of 2004. The first transmission failure was shortly after they bought it, and the replacement transmission cost $3,500. It was a genuine Mopar transmission, which came with a 3-year / 35,000-mile warranty.

Unfortunately, that doesn't do the couple much good. The first transmission was put into the car in May 2004, when the van odometer read: 75,027 miles. The car was just over 10 years old. The second transmission failure occurred at 95,691 miles.

"The transmission replacement lasted 3 years and 4 months," said Rachel, in a disgusted tone, "But what's worse, it lasted only 20,000 miles ... well under the warranty coverage miles."

Rachel called Chrysler Canada, to determine if they would shoulder any responsibility for the failed transmission.

A customer service representative said, "No, we're sorry. We won't cover the failed transmission because the warranty time period has passed."

Rachel appealed to the woman, by saying, "Twenty thousand miles on a genuine Mopar transmission replacement is horrible performance. Surely Chrysler will step up the plate, given such poor performance on a genuine Mopar part?"

The representative said, "Chrysler's responsibility is only for honoring the written warranty agreement."

"With all due respect, I disagree," said Rachel, "Chrysler's responsibility is to manufacture quality automobiles and stand by their products."

Without any sort of financial relief from Chrysler, the future of the mini-van is uncertain. It is presently sitting at the transmission shop. The value of the vehicle, not even 15 years old and in superb condition (leather seats, tow package, electric everything, air conditioned, never been in an accident, no rust, 3.3L V-8 engine, etc.) went from $3,500 to $0 in one day.

"I can't believe that a vehicle should require a new transmission, which costs $3,500, every 20,000 miles," said Scott.

"This is, without a doubt, the worst vehicle that I've ever owned and I've owned a fair few," the 48-year old added.

Though the couple are uncertain what their next move might be, both are extremely disappointed and frustrated with the recent turn of events. They've sunk a fair bit of money in a Chrysler mini-van that's currently un-drivable.

"The sad part is that it's in great condition," said Rachel, "It's got YEARS of life left in it, were it not for needing a transmission."

Although the disposition of the van is uncertain, Scott has indicated that he'd follow up with letters to Chrysler and a voice on the Randsco website.

"I'll definitely warn others about our poor Chrysler experience," explained Scott, "A company such as Chrysler should make and stand behind quality products, not shirk responsibility and hide behind corporate double-speak."

Scott summed up his feelings.

"Chrysler sucks," he said and then, "I'll never buy a Chrysler vehicle again!"

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Updated: 21-Feb-2011
Web View Count: 5000 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Feb-2011
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Probation is Over

October 12th, 2007  · stk

NewsBrief: [Probation Over] On Tuesday, Scott was voted into the North Cedar Fire Department, as a full-fledged firefighter. His six-month probation period is over. Read about the rabble-rousing event

A Full-Fledged Firefighter

North Cedar - On Tuesday night, Scott was voted into the North Cedar Fire Department. He is now a full-standing member of the all-volunteer fire hall.

Scott and the only other member from his recruiting class that made it through the grueling six-months of training, were ushered from the meeting room, whilst long-standing members discussed their fate. The discussion lasted the better part of 15 minutes and when they were ushered back in, there were cheers and applause!

The two new members were given keys to the building, alarm code numbers, embroidered ball-caps, a metal plate for their vehicles (indicating their association with the fire hall) and epaulets for their dress shirt.

There was much celebrating and then came the impromptu hazing. See if you can guess which of the following happened next:

  • During practice, the guys all had a big laugh when the new firefighters tried to put on their gear and discovered their boots were partially filled with shaving cream!
  • During practice, while in SCBA and full turnout gear, the new firefighters were hosed down with a powerful blast from the 1-1/2 inch pre-connect hoses!
  • After practice, the new firefighters upheld the tradition of buying rounds of beer for the standing members!
  • During practice, the two new firefighters found it hotter than they planned, as the armpits and crotches of their turnout gear had been treated with "Icy-Hot" gel!

LOL. On a more serious note, the North Cedar Fire Department has started their annual Firefighter Association fund-raising campaign. This year, they're looking for people to help support the all-volunteer fire hall with monetary donations. Donors contributing $20 CAD or more, will receive a complimentary "Fire Within" 2008 Firefighting calendar. The calendar features a different Vancouver Island all-volunteer firefighting hall, each month. (April is the month showing the members of North Cedar). The money will go toward needed firefighting equipment and medical supplies. Anyone interested in making a donation, please let me know and we can figure out the details.

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Updated: 27-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 3356 viewsLast Web Update: 27-Oct-2007