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Entries From September 2008

September 30, 2008

Don't Use PayPal!!!

Filed under Reviews, Web


I wanted to buy some software that would let me add/remove music from my iPod *without* using iTunes.

I did a Google search for "ipod explorer" and the first thing that came up was "Anapod Explorer."


I bought the software for $19.95 via PayPal. I received an email from Red Chair Software, the company that makes Anapod Explorer, with a download link for the software.

I downloaded and installed the software. When I tried to run Anapod Explorer, it gave me a dialog box asking for an "activation code" that will be emailed to me in 24 hours.

I waited 24 hours...no activation code.

I replied to the email with my download instructions and asked for an activation code...no response.

I sent an email using the contact information on Red Chair Software's website...no response.

After 3 days and 4 unanswered emails, I decided to cancel the payment.

I opened a payment dispute with PayPal. PayPal asked me to contact the buyer in order to resolve the issue. I told them I had, and was not getting any responses.

PayPal then responded with this email...

Dear David Lenihan,

You have chosen to escalate your dispute to a PayPal claim. By ending communication with the seller, you are asking PayPal to investigate the case and decide the outcome. As part of our investigation, PayPal reviewed any communication you may have had in the Resolution Center.

Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transaction or issue a refund.

So in PayPal's view, I *did* receive the software. The fact that the software won't run without an activation code is irrelevant...I have the software I purchase.

PayPal closed my dispute and listed it as resolved.

I tried to re-opened the dispute and got this email...

Dear David Lenihan,

Thank you for contacting PayPal.

Hello my name is Arriane, I am sorry to hear about the situation regarding the key that you have not received, and understand your frustration and concern over this issue. I am happy to assist you with your questions.

Our investigation into your claim is complete. As stated in our User Agreement, the claims process only applies to the shipment of goods. It does not apply to complaints about the attributes or quality of goods received. Therefore, we are unable to reverse this transaction or issue a refund.

The Buyer Complaint Policy only applies to payments for tangible, physical goods which can be shipped, and excludes all other payments, including but not limited to payments for intangibles, for services or for licenses and other access to digital content. In addition, items prohibited in the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy are ineligible for coverage.

PayPal's Buyer Complaint Policy is our best efforts program. This program reimburses users for losses only to the extent we are able to recover the funds from sellers.

For the Terms and Conditions of the Buyer Complaint Policy, click https://www.paypal.com/bcp

We recommend you to communicate the merchant ask for a refund.

Notice the red, underlined words above. PayPal will not protect its customers in the case of licenses and digital content! Wow! That's pathetic!

I called PayPal tonight to talk about my issue. They confirmed their policy and said there is nothing they can do unless another PayPal customer creates a dispute with Red Chair Software within the next 180 days.

I told PayPal to check Google...everybody is having problems with Red Chair Software. A Google search of "red chair software" provides two links to Red Chair Software's website, followed by a petition from angry iPod users that have been screwed by Red Chair Software. A few more links down is a forum about how unresponsive Red Chair Software is.


Further researching Red Chair Software I found several people claim the company went bankrupt in 2007!

So PayPal is siding with a company that went bankrupt?!?!?! WTF?!?!

I told PayPal I find this unacceptable. This is a scam and PayPal is making the scam work.

I told PayPal I am going to cancel my account and never use them again.

In response, PayPal said they would refund my $19.95.

I told them I would take the money, but I will still cancel my PayPal account because they provide no protection from scams involving software or digital content, but credit cards do.

Buyer Beware!

As a side note, I downloaded the trial version of Mediafour's XPlay that lets you interact with your iPod files via Explorer. It works really well.

September 28, 2008

TFU Launch At Best Buy

Filed under Events, Video Games, Work, Xbox 360


We had a fun event at Best Buy for the launch of TFU. The game didn't go on sale until Tuesday, September 16th. The party started at 8pm on Monday the 15th and went until midnight when the game could be distributed. It really felt like a mini-Star Wars convention with all the costumes.

George was there...which is always fun for any Star Wars geek.

I took a picture with the cutest Hoth soldier I've ever seen...

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My favorite part of the launch party were the droids. These guys are part of the Astromech club...and their work will blow you away! They built their own R2-D2's from scratch...and the attention to detail is amazing! I took a bunch of video:

Here are a bunch of photos of R2...

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They also had a mouse droid running around and I got some video of that.


The mouse droid and its operator


Tie Fighter Pilot and Obi Wan catching up


Playing TFU before it is released


My Mom...Unleashed!


Mom (wearing a very cool and unique Javva the Hutt shirt), Speeder Bike Storm Trooper, Imperial Officer, and my buddy Myra at the entrance to Best Buy.


Mom, Chewbacca (center), and Ben (worked on TFU)

They had a stage setup up in the back of Best Buy with various celebrities talking to the crowd...

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Crowd favorite Bobba Fett begged me for a photo with him. How can you say no to a bounty hunter...


Autographs! They had the cast and developers on hand for autographs...



Very cute Adrienne Wilkinson as "Maris Brood"


Cully Fredricksen as "Master Kota"


Lead Engineer Cedrick Coullomb (also author of the must-have utility "unlocker")


David Collins (voice of Proxy, Audio Lead) on left and Art Director Matt Omernick on right.

I got got a bunch of autographs from my co-workers. Amy Beth Christenson (Senior Concept Artist...she is simply amazing) asked me for *my* autograph, which was very cool!

tfu autographs 

Of course they had everything TFU on sale at Best Buy...


The whole point of the party was for people that wanted to get the game as soon as it went on sale at midnight. I got pictures of the front of the line...and almost the last guy (#998). They only gave out 1000 tickets...then there were people waiting after position 1000 hoping to get the game without a ticket. Wow!

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Sony provided an 18 wheeler loaded with PS3's for the event...

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We had nice press coverage...

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The Gas Unleashed...to the right you can almost see the storm trooper blasted off his feet.

Take Me to Butter

Filed under Reviews, Travel


I went to a (new to me) bar this past Friday called "Butter."

Any place that serves deep fried Twinkies and deep fried P. B. & J is alright by me...especially if it is from a trailer (they have a trailer in their bar)! I actually had a deep fried Twinkie...unbelievable.

The drinks were awesome! How about a tangtini? I think I got Tang in several of the drinks I tried. My favorite specialty drink name..."Bitchin' Camero."

The DJ was spinning Southern Rock mixed with Hip-Hop...all stuff you'd recognized, but a little bit different.

Here is the write-up on Yelp.

This is going to become a regular stop for me...next visitor to SF...we are going to Butter.

September 26, 2008


Filed under WTF


This went around work today. You *have* to see this to believe it. Either this is a couple of girls on PCP or this is some viral ad campaign for the next X-men movie. Unbelievable.

September 24, 2008

Ken Lee

Filed under Funny, WTF

Stay with it...the payoff is great! (Thanks Alan!)

1.5 Million and Counting...

Filed under Video Games, Work

From Penny Arcade...


The Force Unleashed has been out a week now.

This article from Variety says TFU sold 1.5 million copies in 5 days making it the fastest selling LucasArts game in its 26 year history.

September 23, 2008

Cinefex Credit

Filed under Work

cinefex cover

I just got this quarter's Cinefex magazine. ILM took out a two page ad to thank its employees for this year's work.

I'm listed on the 2nd page, 1st column, 7th from the bottom...

ILM Credit Page 1

ILM Credit Page 2


September 21, 2008

SIGGRAPH Day 1: Sorting in Space

Filed under SIGGRAPH

Like I was saying...

Let me get back to my SIGGRAPH posts before the next one arrives.

I went to a class called "Sorting in Space" taught by Hanan Samet.

The course covered data structures for points, lines, regions, bounding box hierarchies, rectangles and surfaces/volumes.

Hanan's website has some nice Java apps that help you visualize how the data is organized. I couldn't run them in IE8, but they worked in Firefox.

I plan on referencing this information the next time I need to pick a 3D data structure. Hanan has a book that covers these topics in more detail that I'll probably pick up.


Vista Gem #8

Filed under Computers, Software

Yesterday I ran into a photo that I've had for over a year that was corrupt...half the picture was missing...



What to do?

Use "Previous Versions," a new feature in Vista.

How? Just right click on a file/folder, choose "Properties"  and then click on the "Previous Versions" tab...



Previous Versions found a backed up copy of my picture. I clicked on "Restore..." and got this dialog...


I choose the last option "Copy, but keep both files" so I could compare the files after the restore.


It worked! I got my file back. And I didn't have to switch to the backup/restore utility to get it...I did this all from Explorer.

I run a nightly backup, which is how Previous Versions rescued my file. If you haven't run a backup, then Previous Versions uses "Shadow Copies" of your files. Shadow Copies are done daily and at "restore points." It looks like backups reset shadow copies, so I don't have any.

September 18, 2008

First Video Game Credit

Filed under Celebrity, Video Games, Work

TFU Manual Cover

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (TFU) came out Tuesday this week. I'm pretty excited about it...it's my first video game credit!

I worked in a group called "Shared Tools and Technology" (Shared Tech) which is made up of people from ILM Research & Development (my group) and LucasArts. We worked together to build software used to create the game.

I am in the instruction manual credits, on page 19, 2nd column, 5th from the top...

TFU Manual Credits


I am also in the game credits. You can get there from the TFU main menu by choosing "Extras" and then "Credits." I'm under the heading "Shared Tools and Technology/Shared Tech", 13th down...


game credit

TIP: You can get to the good part of the credits quickly (i.e. my part) by pressing down on the the left joystick. You can go backwards by pressing up.

LucasArts also let us do dedications in the game credits. It is located under "Special Thanks." I am the 5th one...

game special thanks

September 14, 2008

Burn After Reading

Filed under Movies, Reviews


I saw "Burn After Reading" today. It is a new movie by the Coen brothers and it is amazing!

I loved it.

*This* is why I love to see movies. I knew nothing about this movie except the Coen brothers were involved and I usually like what they do. I had no idea where this movie was going and I loved all the surprises along the way. I had a smile on my face for most of the movie.

This is the best movie I've seen in almost a year. Check it out!


September 13, 2008

#1 on NY Times Best Seller List

Filed under Video Games, Work



Wow! The novelization of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game debuted at #1 last week on the NY Times' best seller list.

Cat vs. Printer

Filed under Funny

This made me laugh out loud...


September 11, 2008

TFU Launch Party @ Best Buy

Filed under Video Games, Work


This is going to be fun!

The Best Buy in downtown SF is hosting a party as a countdown until the game goes on sale at midnight.

I'm definitely going to this...and if you are in the area, you should too. It sounds like it will be quite an event.





Here is the press release:

LucasArts, Sony Computer Entertainment America and Best Buy Invite San Francisco to Celebrate the Launch of Star Wars®: The Force Unleashed™

Party on Sept. 15 Kicks off New Chapter in the Star Wars Saga

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Sept. 5, 2008 — LucasArts, Sony Computer Entertainment America and Best Buy will commemorate the release of the upcoming videogame Star Wars: The Force Unleashed with an exclusive launch party, offering eager gamers a chance to celebrate the Saga and get their hands on the first copies of the game. The party, which will be held at the Best Buy store at 1717 Harrison St. in San Francisco on Monday, Sept. 15, will run from 7pm until midnight and will feature appearances by several very special guests, including:

  • Sam Witwer, who plays Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice in the game and who also joined the cast of The CW’s “Smallville” this season; Adrienne Wilkinson, who plays Maris Brood, a dark and mysterious Jedi; and Cully Fredrickson, who plays Jedi Master Rahm Kota, a militant General who is the target of one of the Secret Apprentice’s early missions
  • Executive Producer Haden Blackman, Art Director Matt Omernick, Lead Engineer Cedrick Collomb, Lead Content Designer John Stafford, Lead Systems Designer Rich Davis, and dozens of other members of The Force Unleashed development team at LucasArts

In addition, attendees will get a chance to play the full version of the game in advance and be able to get their photo taken with some of their favorite Star Wars characters.

An entirely new chapter in the Star Wars Saga, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed casts players as Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice” and promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy. The game’s expansive story is set during the largely unexplored era between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In it, players will assist Vader in his quest to rid the universe of Jedi — and face decisions that could change the course of their destiny.

About LucasArts

LucasArts, a Lucasfilm Ltd. company, is a leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software worldwide for video game console systems, computers and the Internet. Based in San Francisco, Calif., as well as on the Internet at www.lucasarts.com, LucasArts was created in 1982 by George Lucas to provide an interactive element to his vision of a state-of-the-art, multifaceted entertainment company.

LucasArts and the LucasArts logo are registered trademarks of Lucasfilm Ltd. © 2008 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. & ® or ™ as indicated. All rights reserved.

The Force Unleashed Commercials

Filed under Video Games, Work

It's almost time for launch (Sept 16th)! You should start seeing these on TV soon.


September 7, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2

Filed under Reviews, Software, Web


I tried out Google's new Chrome browser a few days ago. I downloaded Internet Explorer 8 (beta 2) today.

Initial reaction: everything I like about Chrome is already available in IE8.

What I like:

  • Passes the Acid2 test
  • Related tabs are kept next to each other with color coding. For example, when you open a link from another tab, both tabs will have the same color (see below)
  • The address bar highlights the name of the website in bolder text...nice touch (see "arstechnica" in graphic below).
  • Typing in the address bar will automatically search your history, or setup a search for the item...no need to go to Google to search for something.
  • Searching for text on the page is *much* improved. Just do "Ctrl-F" and type what you are looking for. All matches are instantly highlighted. Press "Enter" to move forward to the next search item or "Shift-Enter" to go back. Nice!
  • New tab has a list of last closed tabs...easier to get back to places you've already been (although I prefer Chrome's new tab screen because of the thumbnails and also the most frequented web page list).
  • Each tab is a separate process...a web page that crashes the browser doesn't hurt the other tabs.
  • Compatibility mode! Web sites that are not "web standard's compliant" may not work correctly in IE8...so there is a button next to the address bar that allows you to switch back to IE7 rendering. *Many* web sites do not follow the web standards (instead they are designed to work with the most popular browser...IE)...so this is a *very* important feature. This is my biggest gripe with Chrome...glad to see IE8 can work will all web sites. For example, I could not login to purchase an item on walmart.com via Chrome, but IE8 could do it.


Tab Color

This update puts IE in the same league as Chrome and Firefox. That being the case, I don't see a reason to jump ship.

After a brief flirtation with Chrome, I'm back to IE (8, beta 2) as my default browser.


Secret Stash Update

Filed under Blogging


Update is here.

Don't have a password? Let me know.

September 4, 2008

Secret Stash Update

Filed under Blogging


This one is a must see! Check it out here!

Don't have a password? Let me know.

September 2, 2008

Google Chrome

Filed under Reviews, Software, Web


Wow! Google released a new web browser today called "Chrome."

That should certainly make IE, Firefox, Safari, and Opera take notice.

I downloaded it tonight and have made it my default browser.

What I like...

  • Faster - pages pop up quicker than IE 7
  • Smaller - takes up a lot less memory than IE 7
  • Tab UI - you can rearrange the tabs as you please, drag them off to become independent browsers, or drag independent browsers back to make them tabs...very sleek!
  • New Tab page shows you thumbnails of most visited pages, bookmarks, recently closed tabs...easier to get to pages you want to go to.
  • Address bar is also search engine bar...I rarely need to go to google to find anything, I can go directly from the address bar
  • Each tab is an separate process...if one page locks up, the rest continue to run (coming in IE 8, also)
  • Passes the Acid2 test
  • Find (Ctrl-F or F3) is much better than IE...highlights every match, F3 to go next match, Shift-F3 to go to previous
  • Downloads show up at the bottom of your page as an icon you can drag to a folder or open directly
  • More screen space for web pages than IE (uses some of title bar for top UI, no status bar at bottom)


So far, the only issue I see is with iGoogle (how ironic)...when I shrink the window, one of the widgets does not know how to resize correctly and keeps changing size which causes the whole page to start flashing. Then again, Google uses their almost permanent "beta" status on this software so they can say "what do you expect, it is beta software!"

Oh! Found another one. You can only look at about 47 facebook photos before it refuses to let you look at anymore...hmmm.

I'm going to keep using this as long as I don't run into too many websites that have problems. For now, I think Google has a competitor in its hands.


About September 2008

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in September 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2008 is the previous archive.

October 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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