posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Several roommates and I moved out of an apartment in DC this summer that is owned by a large corporate company (coughAvalonBaycough). We'd been in the apartment for almost four years. Before we moved out, staff from the building signed off on paperwork stating that there was no visible damage. A month later we get an incredibly bogus set of damage charges from the building for nearly $1,000. We already got our security deposit back, but they're threatening to send us to collections over these new charges.You Are Not My Lawyer and no suggestions will be taken as legal advice, but... The staff that actually works in our building (who signed off on our walk through) thinks we're being fleeced, but all billing goes through an anonymous call center that's taken a page out of the Comcast employee manual. The only advice we've received is to pay up and head to small claims court. That wouldn't be the end of the world, but the charges are so bogus as to be potentially just plain fraud (maybe?). Any suggestions for how to handle this so we don't have to go to court? For example, we were charged $250 for "wall damage" in addition to the $500 "other" charge without invoices. My understanding is that municipal law in DC requires all damage charges to include an actual invoice, so we requested the invoices. After an additional 6 weeks we were just given some very vague receipts from the building, not copies of the original invoices, which did not include a breakdown of charges by labor or materials. The supposed "wall damage" invoice did not include a single charge for $250. There was no wall damage, so that's not surprising. No one over at the corporate call center could tell us what the $250 was supposed to be for. Much like that infamous Comcast call, they just keep repeating the same script over and over even when it makes no sense. The $500 "other" charge was for re-finishing the vinyl coating on the wood floors of the entire unit. There was no floor damage at all, not even normal wear and tear. The building alleges one corner of one room had light scuffs, which I would say is bogus, but admittedly we don't have photos of that specific corner of the floor to prove there wasn't damage. I would say that if they were just charging us for that room, that would be within reason, but the whole apartment? We have photos from when we moved out in addition to our signed walk-through saying that there was no damage, and at least the $250 charge seems to be completely bogus. In which case, is that just blatant fraud? I'm also concerned about their company policy of not having any dispute process of any kind. After hours of trying to talk to the call center reps, we were randomly sent to collections today despite being told in writing that the dispute was "being reviewed." Calling them only leads to talking to call center reps who repeat the same script over and over and over. Today we finally talked to a manager after being hung up on a couple of times. The manager said he would knock 10% off the total, but only if we pay up today- which we declined. The DC Office of the Tenant Advocate wasn't super helpful. They said that we'd probably have a good case in small claims court, but the person I talked to didn't seem to know any details about the municipal law regarding damages that aren't taken out of a security deposit. Any strategies on how to try to get through to the powers that be at corporate headquarters to get them to drop these charges?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I've got a presentation to complete and I'm training analysts how to present complete recommendations to management. I'm looking for comics to illustrate some of my points in an entertaining, simple way.I've tried multiple iterations of "Project Management" and "Completed Staff Work" in Google to try to find a comic related to completing work thoroughly, but I can't find it. I understand my question is very specific - basically I'm looking for cartoon recommendations that are office appropriate besides Dilbert. Nothing wrong with Dilbert, but I find the comics are generally related to office politics and the like. Not really what I'm after. Thanks in advance!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I am awful at recognizing people by appearance, how can I get better at it?I have a pretty fantastic memory for things that I've written down (I remember virtually every phone number that I've ever known, and can visually recall what my notes for classes that I took several years ago looked like and what info they contained), but I have a lot of trouble remembering people's faces that I've met once or twice and had a conversation with. I will generally get a glimmer of recognition, but not enough to recall anything about the interaction or context or even to be sure that we have definitely met before. This is a problem because I work as an organizer for a non-profit: it is my job to meet a lot of people in various locations and build relationships with them, which is hard if I can't remember who they are. When I meet them, they are generally signing some sort of sign-up sheet, so I can take notes after the interaction if I need to, but I can't figure out what kind of notes would be effective to make me actually recognize them the next time I run into them. I always remember what I write down about them—I will remember John Smith's life story that he told me when we met yesterday, but if I see John Smith in person again, I'll have no idea who he is. Any good hacks for me?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
A timeline of diseases and vaccines [warning: graphic photo of cutaneous diphtheria at year 1975]. Categories are: diphtheria, measles, polio, smallpox, yellow fever, and 'others'. You can select one keyword to view only that subject's timeline. From the History of Vaccines website (about page | FAQ). Similar timelines at the same site for pioneers, science and society, and there's an En Español timeline, too. The site's blog, and Twitter account: @historyvaccines. (This post was inspired by this photo taken in 1953 of parents waiting in line to get their children a trial polio vaccination. Source: Reader's Digest.)

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
The nonprofit that I work with just moved into a new office. The walls between offices do a lousy job of blocking sound - I can hear conversations being held in the next room in a fairly normal tone of voice. Management understands this is a problem but every dollar spent on facilities is less money to care for clients. Need to know what to propose beyond the ubiquitous white noise machines.I tried googling this question and found too much information of questionable origins. (Half seemed to be selling things and the other half didn't seem to have any expertise. The best idea as far as I can tell is to put up a second layer of drywall with a layer of dampening goop in between. (Is it really that simple?) Do we need specialty sound-deadening board? Or could we get by with acoustic dampening paint?? We also need to do something about doors between the office and halls and space where an interior wall meets a window. So, management's first answer was white noise machines but if they are actually in the room, I find they interfere with conversation. So, i would like to propose something better. If people agree, they will probably hire a carpenter or handyman to do the actual work. Help me! (1) practical ideas or (2) links to websites that are reputable and (3) ideally information about how effective the different options might be. It doesn't need to be truly soundproof, just deadened enough that you can't hear the words from adjoining rooms.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I'm debating letting my neighbors know that we can really hear their kids screaming, but I'm not sure if I should. Talk me into or out of it.I am really sensitive to unreasonable noise complaints. I've been there and done that in multi-unit dwellings. (Please see my previous question about a dog at a former home.) I don't know if our complaint is unreasonable. I want to be a good neighbor and keep my expectations reasonable. Here's the situation: My husband and I now live in a townhouse. We own. We bought from an estate, so for almost a year before we moved in, our unit was empty. The neighbors have two children, 4 and 1, and they SCREAM constantly. These are not momentary upsets, these are full blown temper tantrums we can hear and make out words to, including "I don't want to!" and "no no no no no!" and pounding thumping. It is ear splitting as only children's screams can be, and happens at all hours of the day or night. Not constantly, but intermittently, without regard to time. They also scream when they play, they're just screamers. It's what they do, I guess. The kid we've met, the older one, is cute and sweet when we see him and talk to him. The parents seem nice and we've chatted with them briefly outside our homes. They're renters, but it seems like everyone treats everyone else the same here in our development, so no weird drama of "ohh, they're renters." I'm just not sure, as someone who isn't a parent, if there is a world in which I'd be able to just knock on their door with a batch of cookies and say, "Hey, you probably don't realize it because no one lived here for so long, but we can really hear {Dennis} and {Mabel} screaming a lot. Do you think you could help us out by trying to teach indoor voices?" And if they do, they do, and if they don't, well, it was worth a try? Have you ever done this? Has anyone ever done this to you, as a parent? Give me some scenarios here. Right now we're coming at this from a value-neutral place. We'd love for those kids to not scream so often. We don't think the parents realize how well we can hear them. But we also know they're kids, kids can be noisy sometimes, they'll hopefully grow out of it if they're long term renters, and we don't have a sense of whether a request like the above would even be reasonable. I would never ask them to stop the kids from "making noise" or playing or anything, just the screaming.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I previously asked for webcomic recommendations. Now I'm back, I've run out of things to read, and I want more.The recent mefi post re The Dresden Codak / Magnolia Pearl kurfluffle made me think of re-pitching this question. I appreciate good drawing, smart writing, and strong female characters. I'm still following Teahouse, Menage a 3, Girls with Slingshots and a couple of others. I figure I'm missing out on a ton of awesome new things that I haven't heard of yet, so please help me stay up-to-date on my reading!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I need the AC cord for a Toshiba C50B laptop. Not the power supply; not the DC cord. Just the AC cord.I bought my daughter a new Toshiba laptop, to surprise her with when she comes back from a long trip. I didn't route the power wires carefully enough, and the rabbit ate some of the insulation off of the AC cord. My daughter hasn't even seen the thing yet. The conductors are OK, and I taped it up, but that's not good enough. I can't find anywhere that will sell me just the AC cord. They all sell the whole set - power supply and both cords. The other cord and the power supply are in perfect, new condition, so it would be a waste to buy new ones. Anyone know of a more flexible vendor?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I want to organize a pool of several hundred people who benefited from one person's efforts to make their days better. Is there something like Kickstarter to help facilitate crowdfunding a gift?This person went above and beyond to bring a community of people together in a really amazing (non-trivial) way, did it in their spare time and a their own expense, and really should be thanked. I've reached out to a couple dozen who are enthusiastic about buying this person a weekend getaway, but the circles of people overlap and no one person can connect them all in the real world and collect the cash to a central place. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are great for funding projects, but apparently not this sort of thing. What can I do to set something like this up in a hurry (we want to present the gift at an event in a week). BONUS points for recommendations that can help keep it a surprise.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I am looking for online resources for logo design and branding that contain the creative briefs, brainstorming notes, sketches, design process, and full style guides for well-known projects. It doesn't have to have ALL these things, but the more it has, the better. Books are welcome too.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I am looking for another free/cheap web mail app that I can use to contact the ten people I normally correspond with. Any recommendations?I live in a house with many other people and I tend to leave my Gmail logged in because that is who I am. Then, when they go to Gmail, there is my inbox.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
If I'm on my workstation at the office, using Pages through iCloud.com on a web browser, how likely is it that my IT department can see what I'm typing? I'm fairly sure they can see that I'm on iCloud.com using Pages if they look. But can they see the text I'm typing into a Pages document?To be absolutely clear, I'm not planning on doing anything nefarious or unethical or against company policy. There will be no lawbreaking and no pr0n. I will not be getting fired. It's not that kind of question. Our company guidelines allow personal use of workstations during our downtime. Most people use this freedom for online shopping or checking their home email, etc. Related to the main question above the fold... If I'm on my iPad, logged into our company wifi, typing into a document in Pages or Byword or whatever, can IT see what I'm typing into a document? And, if I'm on my iPad web surfing, logged into our company wifi, can they see what pages I'm surfing to? Again, I'm not trying to do anything wrong. I don't mind if the IT department can see that I'm typing something into Pages. Even if they saw what I was typing, I would get teased about it - not fired. I'd just prefer to let any IT watchers think I'm writing to my congressman or my elderly father in my downtime -- and not, say, writing Teen Wolf fan fiction. (Not that I would ever. And even if I did, I'd keep it PG at work.) Assume a Windows 7 machine with no keylogger software. User privileges extend to going wherever we want online, but we're not allowed to install anything without admin rights. My desk is positioned so no one can creep up and read over my shoulder without me noticing. I don't know what else would be helpful to share, but I can answer questions if you have them. If the answer is "it depends..." that's cool; I'm looking for odds, not guarantees.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I designed an app for tablets that I'd like to present to potential investors. Problem is, I can't make an in-person presentation and I'll have to settle for an online one. How do the professionals usually go about this (videos, images, ...)?Since the presentation is private, I am thinking that the best way to do it is on some sort of password-protected site like Wordpress or Tumblr. I don't want anyone stealing my graphics or video though, but I have no way of controlling that. Also, is showing various still images of the app the best way to show it off? Or is a screen captured interaction the way to go? What would be the most attractive (as well as cost/time efficient) solution to impress the investors? My tools are: (1) A Sony Xperia Acro S phone with decent video quality, (2) Adobe Premiere and After Effects and the skills to boot, (3) Photoshop skills to make my presentation graphics attractive enough, (4) storytelling skills as well as a sense of humor to sell the app. Are there some good, proven solutions for this type of endeavor? Maybe an example of how major companies or developers go about it?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Can anyone explain this sign that I've seen in at least one DC Metro station?Shared Hope International is the name of the organization that made the ad. The first link below is a cellphone picture (not mine) and it's the only legible picture I could find. There's actually at least two other variations of the ad, which I've linked to below but you can't really read them. If someone could at least explain the first one that'd be awesome. I think, and I could be wrong, that the ad is describing different (progressively more dire?) points in the life of someone who's been sold into prostitution, but the details of the points are obscure to me. link 1 link 2 link 3 link 4

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Michelle Lyons has witnessed 278 executions in Texas, first in her role as a reporter, and then as part of her job in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Texas Monthly has a long, fascinating profile.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Having prolonged heart palpitations, yes I will see a doctor but what tests should I ask for? I've tried to stay off of Google because it's going to convince me I'm dying of heart failure, but how common is this? Should I be concerned?Thankfully I don't need referrals to see a specialist so I'm going to make an appointment as soon as I do a little research for a competent doctor. Should I see a cardiologist? I occasionally get heart palpitations that last for a few minutes and just go away. I've never had them last for as long as they have last night and today. I had some start last night and it lasted for hours. And it started up again today, lasting another few hours. I do have problems with anxiety, but I've had anxiety issues pretty much my whole life and have never had heart palpitations this long, maybe anxiety affects you more as you age? But the heart palpitations today started AFTER a relaxing hour and a half long professional massage. Relevant information: -Female, 33 years old, normal BMI -No blood pressure, cholesterol issues -On Synthroid for under active thyroid for about a year -I do drink caffeine, usually one or two cups of coffee in the morning. Occasionally tea in the evenings. -I don't typically get stressed out but I do have anxiety issues

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I lucked into a professional level potter's wheel for a great price this past weekend. While pottery is something I've been interested doing in my whole life, I've never actually used a wheel before. There are plenty of beginner classes and workshops around... but there are also a lot of videos on YouTube. Any reason I shouldn't have a go at it myself and put money towards tools/supplies/a kiln instead of spending it on a class?I have patience, an inclination to go digging for answers online when I get stuck on something, and decent hand-eye coordination. I've successfully picked up various other skills via books and videos. I'll still need to get some hands-on with glazing and firing, but in the meantime my inclination is to research obsessively, watch a ton of videos, get some clay and go for it. I guess my question to the potters of MetaFilter is: How did you learn, and with the perspective of time and experience would you go back and do it differently? Bonus follow-up question: If there are any widely-acknowledged "bible" books or videos of the craft, I'd love to know about them. Thanks!

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I recently figured out I'm lactose intolerant, and am still figuring out my lactose limits/sometimes forget I don't do well with cheese. Hence, I had two pieces of pizza with cheese yesterday and I've been having some exciting gastrointestinal distress for the past 24 hours. I've also been very tired, have some skin tenderness, and the muscles on the top of my thighs are achy like I stood a lot yesterday (but I did not). Can this be related to lactose intolerance? If the answer is yes, how long should I expect this to last?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I have a dead-tree book that I want to use OCR software on, but it has a strange font. My attempts so far have not been very successful.I've used FreeOCR but the result is gibberish. In case it's relevant, I'm using a Win7 system and a Canon MP495 scanner. I can do the formatting side of things myself. I just need the raw text. Is there some way to "train" the OCR software to recognise the font? Or maybe some better software? Or any other ideas?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Patrick Cockburn a Middle East correspondent since 1979 has a couple of new articles: Isis consolidates and The Underrated Saudi Connection, Why Washington's War on Terror Failed.

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
We're going to Japan! From December 25-January 15th, to be precise, and are overwhelmed with the possibilities! Where should we go?We are currently looking at staying roughly within this area of central Japan. A few days in Tokyo and a few days in Kyoto are a definite, but we're not sure where else we'd like to go. I've been to Japan once previously, and am struggling not to just repeat all of my previous destinations (Tokyo, Koyasan, Magome, Nagoya, Kyoto), as I'd like to see new stuff. We mmmmight head further south-and-west, for the right place. We're planning on staying in Tokyo first and waiting until after the New Year to leave, on the assumption that more things will be open during the NY holidays in a giant city than in a smaller city or town. Also, we are not particularly athletically inclined, so strenuous hikes and skiing aren't appealing. (In fact, one of the major reasons we picked this trip was to eat our way through Japan, so any fantastic restaurants that we shouldn't miss would be appreciated.) I have seen this previous AskMe. So: given those circumstances, where should we go besides Tokyo and Kyoto?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
I'm looking for software that will help track usage of digital assets such as photographs, as well as stories contained within Word documents. For instance, if a photograph is used in a publication, I'm looking for a way to easily document that so that others in my organization can also see a record of this. Does anyone know of any software / workflows that makes this simple and straightforward? Or even the language to describe this to help better guide my search of this software?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
My mother needs a new point and shoot digital camera. I need suggestions. Snowflakes inside...My mom loves taking photos, but struggles to get blurr free photos as she has moderate-severe tremor in her hands. Her old (and broken today by my daughter) camera had a stabilizing feature, which did seem to help, as did using 'sport' mode (high speed) as much as possible. I think a bright flash would also help. An optical viewfinder is what she is used to, and would be nice, but not essential. A battery pack, as opposed to endless AA batteries would please me. Image size is not essential as most shots are just for sharing and having snaps. She doesn't do anything fancy with her photos. Price is somewhat flexible, but I am looking for a point and shoot, not a DSLR camera. Suggestions please?

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Bees & Bombs is a tumblr of hypnotic GIF animations programmed by Dublin-based physics student Dave Whyte

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posted 1 day ago on metafilter
Illegal Weapons Used in Wrestling Death Match (slyt). Not the 'Most Illegal Thing I've Seen in the History of Wrestling', but still good. The pain is visceral. So, so visceral.

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