January 3, 2008

Bad Buisness May Make Next Years Holiday Retail Suffer

Ok the holidays for many mean consumerism on a massive scale. This isn’t a bad thing it circulates wealth and helps promote economic growth and development plus we sometimes get cool gifts. Sometimes we don’t so we have to deal with the returns desk. Last week we did our returns after Christmas and found most companies were quite helpful. With many of the companies I felt almost guilty how easy it was to return the merchandise. We hit Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Neiman’s. All were pleasant service with a smile people who issued store credit for the merchandise making it easy for us to possibly locate something in the store we actually wanted or in some cases needed.

The bad news was all stores were not this easy to deal with. I received an Apple iTunes Gift card, I don’t really buy anything from there but I plan on buying a new machine in the next month. The monetary value wasn’t much 25 dollars but I wanted to get store credit instead so I could use it towards the purchase price of my new machine. I entered the store thinking this should be a slam dunk no brainer of a deal. When I inquired about the return the initial rep I asked told me he would have to check. He turned to a guy behind the counter and asked him if they could exchange the card for in store credit. He literally gave me a dirty look and said we don’t do that. I left the store disgusted by the double whammy. When I got home I discovered this was common practice and that once you own a gift card to the iTunes store you’re pretty much locked into buying music with it. This is very disappointing as with most any other reputable company you can purchase items from any of their subsidiaries with the same gift card. For instance I received a gift card for Outback Steak house as a prize from work. I’m not big on Outback Steak House but on further inspection they will allow me to redeem it at all sorts of other restaurants including one on my favorite list Carrabba’s. Why Apple isn’t like this I have no idea at least one other person knows the pain of this too.

The next issue we faced was the return desk at Target which according to a few websites, including the consumer affairs website, is becoming more difficult to deal with concerning their return policies. We received several outfits from Target for our 10 month old child. He is wearing 12+ month clothing but we received a few items that were 9 months. We attempted to return these items just to get store credit to return when he actually needed clothing we were then confronted with the asinine return policy that limits returns to 2 items per year. Then we reasonably thought ok can we exchange them for larger sizes and were told that act counted against us as a return. I know companies are faced with problems of product slippage and looking to set policies to prevent abuse of their systems but they are ultimately punishing their patrons with this policy and have placed us in the position of recruiting friends and family to return the products ensuring they are unable to return future products themselves for the rest of the year. This also means we will be less likely to make gift purchases at Target for fear of placing people whom we know and like in similar situations. I can only imagine others might have to face similar decisions.

But those attempted returns where just the tip of the iceberg for how some retail treats its customers. Over the holidays my grandfather mentioned a company I had long since written off Geek Squad. Most everyone in the IT industry has an inherent 6th sense about companies like this who prey on the ignorant up selling them on every little piece of software and service they have available and we avoid them at all costs. My reasoning in contacting them was that I have a simple problem I understand the solution can these guys provide it at a price I’m willing to pay. What I need is someone to run cable from my wiring closet to my computer wall and another from the garage to the wiring closet. Pretty simple I have a 6 foot auger, tone tester, wire, wall plates, cable crimper, rj45 ends, and fish tape. What I don’t have is someone I like but not so much that I wouldn’t mind subjecting them to this wire rat exercise, low pitch roof bad insulation and roofing nails that were about an inch and a half to long. So I called up the Geek Squad got in touch with their computer department and instead of asking my question I was assaulted with questions attempting to extract personal information form me, my name, phone number, address. All I had was a simple can you do this or not question. Instead of answering these questions I asked the lady if she couldn’t at least tell me if they could accommodate my request before I gave her this information. I told her what I wanted done a network drop for two machines to a central location. Her response no problem we can do that, I though great now I will give her my info get a quote and decide if this is the route I want to take. I gave her my info and she put me on hold for the quote. When she returned her first question to me was, “So will this be in store or onsite.” I thought to myself are you kidding me, yea let me drag my house to the store so you can run some wire though it, I don’t live in a freaking tent lady! But, my response was onsite, she then asked how many computers will they be setting up I responded with just the two but they don’t need anything setup on them really if I can just get the drops I will take it from there. Her response was if you want cable run in your house you’re going to have to call your cable company. This sent me spinning because this point I realized this lady was absolutely clueless and she had just lied to me to get my name number and address, and for what so they can sell it to some third party and mass market crap at me I don’t want in the first place. I tried to compose myself and adjust my question to improve her comprehension of the situation. I made it clear I wasn’t looking for tv or internet I wanted to setup my home network and I needed network drops to connect to the computers. She confirmed her lie by telling me they only do wireless setups.

For these companies I wonder what forces have caused them to make such bad decisions with their customer care. The next holiday season now not only do I have to worry about who I’m buying for, what their tastes are, am I getting the right kind of gift, is this in their size, is this what color scheme they have in their house, etc… Now I have the pleasure of studying return policies to see how they might adversely effect the people I’m buying for to make sure I’m not potentially setting them up for disappointment when what I get them isn’t the right color, doesn’t fit, or isn’t the style they feel most comfortable with. Then we get to add to this the companies who seem to be more concerned with getting your personal data than they are offering you any goods or services. So if we know you don’t be surprised if you start to simply receive cash or gift cards from a major credit card company don’t think it’s because we didn’t put any thought into it or it was a last minute purchasing decision. The reality is retail sucks and we would rather you be in a position with the leverage to walk away if you run into a Geek Squad vs being beholden to the asinine policies of an Apple or Target. Maybe by next year’s sales figures will reflect just how much, then I can look forward to 2010’s Christmas Season where we will be treated like customers instead of potential thieves or sheep for the slaughter.

July 28, 2007

More DFW bad drivers

Its been a while since I have published any of the morons I come across daily while on my morning commute. From the impatiently aggressive to the downright dangerous daredevils each morning is an adventure that has me counting my blessing when I arrive safely at either end.

This was some looney toon whose sense of entitlement brought him to the conclusion a Cadillac rules the road and should have no trouble coming from behind me and fitting in the small gab between the red truck now ahead and my car forcing me to slam on the breaks. Narrowly avoiding being hit from the side only to have him jump back into the right lane yards ahead as the left lane was closed for construction. His final position was right behind the red truck where he started.

This brain drain spent his time weaving in and out of traffic making for a dizzying time keeping up with where he would pop up next. Top that off with the lack of a helmet and this guy is just asking for trouble.

And on motorcycle number two we have another mental patient with only slightly more sense than the previous in his choice of head protection. However, this only seemed to increase his own belief in his immortality as he sped around as if he was in a parking lot. I caught him in my rear view only to have him pull up next to me like some ham awaiting his picture to be taken.

This guy was a real jerk bordering on using his vehicle as a weapon he forced people out of the way by being very aggressive in his driving. Obviously a new car it made me wonder how this maniac would be driving if he was in some beater or if the fact it was a new car somehow made him feel entitled to the road regardless of who else was on it.

This one was a real prize managing speeds of 80mph in 30mph traffic as he wizzed around. As he flew by me I noticed it was a kid of maybe 17 driving. His parents must be proud, I hope he doesn’t end up with involuntary manslaughter charges for driving around like a moron just because he has a fast car.

This ends my list of DFW dumb-asses who wear this badge with such pride they even show it off in their driving. Lords knows there were countless others I just wasn’t quite quick enough to get photos of or where the traffic was heavy enough I didn’t feel safe doing so. It’s crazy how many motorcycle morons there are. I’m guessing gas prices have something to do with this recent trend even though the ratio of moron motorcyclists far outweighs any other driver on the road I do find it interesting the increase in motorcyclists on the road. the one I really wish I had been able to catch was a rig driving down the road with the trailer brakes on. This made for a fantastic smoke screen behind the vehicle and glowing red wheels on the trailer. Oh well, maybe next time.

May 29, 2007

Twitter Hacked?

Just checked out my tweets and found a list of people that I have no clue who they are along with some strange messages.

Initial Tweets

Picture 2.png

Final Tweets

Picture 1.png

I’m left wondering was this a site wide hack, some soft of xml injection hack, or did I just get owned by some third world u834 1337 h4x0r. Kind of odd behavior and it seems all but Son of a Bitch’s accounts are valid and working. Trying to view him on twitter gives the I lost your filez page. In trying to find more information I looked in quite a few places and all came up empty, I even waited until this morning to look on places like digg etc… nothing. Maybe this is just the default behavior when you haven’t posted a tweet in more than 5 days.

May 21, 2007

Closer Look at the New Server Hardware

Just thought I would take a look at the two machines side by side tonight before putting the new one in the rack (it will be a while before I get it to the datacenter). what you see here is the new machine on the left and a 500sc that I have from a previous project that looks the same as the old 440sc at the datacenter.

There are several things that makes this a better server first note the front usb. Much easier when working in a cage to plug in various storage devices for crash recovery without removing the machine from the rack. The other thing is the all metal body. This IMNSHO is about time, metal just seems to radiate the heat away from the box better. The older plastic units seemed to keep the heat in. In the back now there is a simple slider latch that basically ejects the side panel giving you access to the inside of the unit. the older units where only slightly more difficult to open but I like the newer latch more. In the second image you can just barley make out small rectangles on the side of the box. these are rubber feet, if you look at the power supply you can see this unit was intended to sit on its side, but it works equally as well standing up. Another thing to note is the lack of any PS2 ports on the newer 440sc. This means if you are considering the purchase and don’t have a usb keyboard you should really consider getting one, this is the first time I’ve seen a machine you could get without a keyboard that didn’t have ps2 ports.

Looking inside the cases the older unit is really basic standard screw holding everything in nice support bar across the middle to help make it harder to get to memory. The newer 440sc has blue hard drive drawers and cable management. Look at the front case and you will see a series of silver objects. Those are the mounting screws for the drives. You attach them to the drive then slide the drive in to the appropriate slot. Each cover has the number of screws you will need to attach to the device that will occupy that bay. The front bezel and all the drives are released with the blue slider on the side. You just pull it down slightly and it releases the front keep it down and pull out the cd drive. Really easy stuff. I used a DVD drive to install fedora core 6 and I was able to put the drive in without any tools. Just used my thumb to put the screws on and pushed it into the bay connected the cables and it was done. I’m pretty confident if it was a permanent install it would have been sufficient.

Another nice feature was inside the cases cover are instructions that point you to most of the internal components. This was just one of those nice features that cant’ cost that much money you wish more companies would do.

This stuff is nice and special but has been available on other machines for a while in various forms and from various manufacturers. The real story here is this machine comes for a base price of under 500 bucks. It’s amazing how far technology has come is such a short period of time. It’s the little things like this that remind me of how far we have come, and spurs me to think of where technology will take us.

2007 440sc Left, 2001 500sc Right


May 17, 2007

Dude you got a Dell.

Today I get into work and I’m surprised to notice my order has updated on the Dell website and my ship date has been set and my expected delivery is the 21st or 23rd. I was floored when FedEx called me 20 minutes later to let me know no one was home to receive the package.

I really enjoy it when a company has an issue and rectifies it with such class and follow through that your pleasantly surprised at every turn. It would be nice if more companies where like this but I guess if they where we would come to expect it and it wouldn’t be nearly as special. Kudo’s to Dell, and Gina in Tennessee for making what could have been a disaster such a pleasant experience.

May 14, 2007

Dude, your getting a dell, Psych!!!


I ordered the server on Saturday after discovering what appears to be imminent hardware failure on the current machines network interface. So, Dell to the rescue. I hoped online to order my new Dell. I received the following almost immediately

Thank you for your recent order.
It has been received and is being reviewed.
The Order Status bar below shows the current state of your order.

What’s Next? You will receive an Order Confirmed email shortly with your customer number, order number(s), estimated ship date and final purchase amount.

So I waited, Sunday came and went and I decided Monday for sure I will get the e-mail this one referred to. Today at 5pm I decided to call and after a trip around the world to countries unknown I landed somewhere in Tennessee ready to place my order.

It seems somewhere along the line Dell decided I did not really need that server and they just canceled my order. No one could tell me why they canceled my order just that it had been canceled. When asked why I did not receive an e-mail back I was told sometimes it can take up to two weeks for that e-mail to be generated.

I’m not an unreasonable person but I do expect when I place an order for the company I place the order with to communicate where we are with the order and especially let me know if they can’t handle the business. Don’t just cancel my order and leave me in the lurch waiting on a box that is never going to come. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been a little curious about the e-mail. Two weeks down the line I suddenly get an e-mail saying my order had been canceled. That would have been my very last attempt at purchasing anything from Dell.

I like Dells business line and hopefully this was just a fluke but I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t the reason Dell has had a less than stellar quarter, I guess time will tell.

Now its the waiting game, yesterday I worked with a woman from dell to reorder my box and they had some computer issues with the people who handle their business credit accounts. She was very helpful and kept me so informed through the process I felt a bit strange then I realized she had met all of my needs and I felt like I was being taken care of as a customer. Strange feeling, I can’t wait to get the server and be done with it. The current status says I will receive my unit around 5/30. Which was unexpected I hope they get it done quicker or my rollout on June 1st might be June 4th.

November 20, 2006

Funny things you find on the web

After hearing a story about a man dying while having sex with an animal in the north east I watched as a friend proceeded to look it up on the internet.  Using the keywords "man sex goat dies" in Google news produced a result funnier that what we could have expected.

The only item returned had the following picture  from http://www.wweek.com/calendar/3253/screen/


This was very humorous because no one thinks Al Frankin has sexual relations with goats.  Never the less, it seems this search has been censored.  I find this almost as disturbing as the thought of someone having an inappropriate relationship with a farm animal.  When you take it into context with the fact you can search almost any libelous or hateful statement in Google and within the top ten you can bet you will find President Bush’s name.  For grins I hoped over to Google and searched for "failure" #2 on the list http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/.

It is a sad comment on society but I was once told something that stuck with me and I think applies to this situation.  If you aren’t willing to think for yourself there are plenty of people out there willing to think for you.  It only makes sense to me that Hollywood types have a vested interest in you not thinking for yourself which is why they are so willing to do some thinking for you.  Don’t drink the koolaid and learn to do some critical thinking its more than coincidental that this was censored and other more egregious items are not.  It has little to do with coincidence and more to do with someone else’s agenda and things they think you should see, and nothing they think you shouldn’t see.


August 27, 2006

Not so happy MacBook User

I’m a switcher who at the beginning of the year decide it was time to take the plunge into the new Apple Intel macs with the introduction of the iMac.  I got one decked out with all the extras and I loved it so much so when Apple introduced the MacBook I thought it would be the perfect companion.  It was for almost 3 months before something weird happened. (Dude I shoulda been getting a Dell)

A couple of weeks ago I turned my MacBook on to try and look up some information on how to fix a clogged bathtub drain.  I turned the machine on it went to the desktop as normal so I click on firefox and poof, the screen went blank and the power was now off.  Perplexed I started the machine again, frustratingly I was unable to get the machine to stay on for more than about 10-20 seconds after the desktop showed up.  So now I have a clogged drain and a broken macbook.

I have spent time with the laptop trouble shooting it and trying to figure out what went wrong.  In the end it seems there is a major problem with these units and as much as I hate to say it if your considering a MacBook purchase for school save yourself some heartache and get something else instead.

There is no reason you should spend your hard earned money just to have a product fail just after passing Apples "Free Phone Support" period and have Apple try and charge you for a support call that is obviously not  you having trouble sending your pictures to your grandma over the internet.  The frustrations I have faced with this issue have been overwhelming.  I know I paid a premium for the Apple name but I assumed I was getting Apple quality.

For now the solution to my woes is to reset the power management unit on my macbook every time I have a random reboot.  This will lock my machine down to 1Ghz and let me hobble along until Apple gets their stuff together on this issue and tells us what to do with these machines.  I’m hopping that Apple issues an official statement soon about these machines.  It is tough to sit back and think how often I told others how much I loved my macbook and convinced others of how good a decision the buy was just to have the thing turn into something less than what I purchased.  The whole issue reminds me of the Broadvoice Problem I had where in the end I was forced to boycott the purchase of any services from broadvoice as well as recommend others avoid the potential pitfalls of the voip provider.  After 2 months of hearing nothing from Apple I’m getting the same sinking feeling I had before I decided to drop Broadvoice.

I also have included a link to a video I made of the random reboots just so you can see how frustratingly random the are.

Well today was the last straw.  The macbook is headed back to wherever they send these things to be fixed.  Probably some sweat shop in Indonesia where I will receive it back 3 weeks later with a note of the repairs made only to boot the machine up and have it shut back down on me.  It is sad to think that after so much of my own spare time trying to figure the problem out that Apple still hasn’t made an official comment about it.  With the time between which things become obsolete these days becoming narrower its hard to imagine paying for the latest and greatest not to be able to use it until the next best thing it available.

I hope my Problems will be fixed but given the responses from people who have sent theirs off for repairs I’m not going to hold my breath.  I’ll simply make arrangements to have it sent back when the time comes.

A little response today with some news old and not so old.  Apples official response to the RSD problem.

Great been like two weeks time for some clarification on the issue.

Looks like some sites have picked up and ran with the idea that overloading the processor by forcing the load on the cpu to 100% for each core is a way to test for the RSD problem.  It amazes me how stupid some people are.  "Every time I overheat the machine it shutsdown it shouldn’t do that it should just meltdown in my lap catch fire and turn into a puddle of goo." Oiy!!!!  As you can see I’m getting frustrated with Apple and the morons who instead of looking at what others have done and building on it continue to seek help troubleshooting issues that have already been visited and found to be avenues of false hope.

Well I’m now sitting with my MacBook back in my hands as of yesterday.  I’m so peeved I can’t even think about it right now.  But to add some closure to this ordeal with Apple’s lack of support.  After being without my machine for almost 3 weeks I finally got it back.   I only got it back because someone  on the apple forums showed my how to track the shipment of your product and I saw the unit has been delivered to the store that morning and no one had bothered to e-mail or call me.  Besides that when I received the unit I discovered they had formated the mac partition.  Which i had been warned about, but I was not warned they would format the Windows partition as well.  Not only did the incompetent tech format the drive but he adjusted the drive to be split in two using a non guid base partitioning scheme.  This left me unable to format the drive for use in boot camp or return the drive to a single partition with any of the Apple tools available.  This meant I had to do yet another format to get the drive back to a useable state.   And to the tech who repaired my laptop I would like to throw in a happy thanks ass-hat for fucking it up, you should go back to pc repair if you don’t know what your doing.

So what was repaired?  I got to keep my iSight, Battery, Hard Drive, Optical Drive,  Bottom Case, and LCD Screen.  Everything else got swapped out.  I’m assuming one at a time as this pimply faced ass-hat went from his finger in his nose to the manual he had been given, occasionally looking at the hammer on the side of his workbench.  As you can tell I’m more than a little mad at this inconvenience, I’m about one issue away from putting this piece of crap on e-bay and calling it quits with the MacBook getting a dell hitting up the osx86 project and getting back to work knowing I won’t have to deal with a busted ass pos laptop or the knuckle draggers at Flextronics again.

October 19, 2005

Attacks on the Church

Today I read yet another article referring to the separation of church and state clause.  The case was one of creationism and the idea the world and everything in it was created by an unknown intelligence.  Someone argued that teaching creationism violated the separation of church and state law.  After reading this I got infuriated that someone was so arrogant that they would make creationism a religion and then because they would say there is a law separating church and state.  Both of which are not just questionable in nature but outright wrong.

  Bill of Rights – Amendment I
 Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

  When people look at the US and state one of the reasons we broke free from England was “Freedom of Religion” this is the part of the Bill of rights they are talking about.  Today however I read yet another article referring to the separation of church and state clause.  The case was one of creationism and the idea the world and everything in it was created by an unknown intelligence.  Someone argued that teaching creationism violated the separation of church and state law.  After reading this I got infuriated that someone was so arrogant that they would make creationism a religion and then because they would say there is a law separating church and state.  Both of which are not just questionable in nature but outright wrong.

  The bill of rights clearly states that congress will make no law respecting an establishment of religion.  If you read this it is very clear that congress will not make a law establishing a national religion.  The rest of it is clear to the point of free speech in how it pertains to an open society.  So why is it church leaders are not allowed to talk about politics without fear of loosing their tax-exempt status.  This law clearly violates the idea of abridging their freedom of speech.

  If you look at the decline of America you will see a common thread and not being a bible thumper myself I would not have believed it until just recently.  The only common thread in what has happened over the past 50 years has been an attack on religion in the US.  I don’t use the term attack lightly.

  Just the use of the term separation of church and state is an attack on religion.  By using the term they have slowly put a stigma on any religious involvement in government.  The US is such an open society limiting involvement in government limits involvement in society.  Slowly the use of this term has come to mean no religion in government at all.  Just look at how president Bush has been attacked by the media for his invocation of his religious beliefs.  The attacks only slowed when it became very apparent that Americans where not going to take personal attacks on someone’s personal faith.

  Another case where someone abused the idea of separation of church and state was the 9th circuit courts ruling of the words under god in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional.  The originator of the lawsuit, in my opinion a true scumbag, did not take into account that his atheistic views are considered a religion and by stripping all religious symbolism from government he is in effect establishing and national religion, atheism.  Why the courts did not see this is another mater entirely.

  This brings me to the crux of the problem.  Who are those that are attacking religion?  The truth is I don’t know, not yet.  So far it appears that the majority of the supporters of this type of thinking all have liberal views.  Not all those with liberal views though feel the same way about religion as these people.  So in the end there is no label for this type of thinking except that it is dangerous and very wide spread.

  Why is it so dangerous?  If our founding fathers had the mindset to put religion as their first thought towards the protections found in the bill of rights it must be important.  For people to say this country was not found on religious views and religion should have no part in government pushes us as a society to pick as leaders people who are not in the same spirit as those who founded this country.  This means we pick people who are for the most part in opposition of the very things this country was founded on.

  The way to fix this is to become involved in your church and not be afraid to talk to people.  This is very hard for me as I can see the solution and I know I’m part of the problem but I can find all kinds of excuses as to why I shouldn’t be a part of my local church.  What a paradoxical issue it is for me and I would assume others.  From here out I will make a special effort to go to church not for the sake of my soul but for the sake of this country.  If our fore fathers saw such an importance in religion then maybe I should invest more time in it.  In the end I think if more people found religion there would be far fewer problems in this country and maybe we can get rid of the stigmas associated with its involvement in politics.

October 8, 2005

Looks like the terrorists are comming out of hidding.

It’s been busy this week but not so busy as to miss out on what the press considers less than news worthy. What happened, we had islamic terrorists attack in London and our American press is content to leave it at that. Where is the outrage against those who call them selves followers of islam who can kill and mame in the name of their god. All The news wants to talk about is guantanamo and the attrocities there! Whatever, I’ve seen worse among friends! I for one am quick to denounce those who do horrific things in the name of my god. Morons blowing up abortion clinics and killing doctors who perform abortions. Why are muslisms so timid to cry out when such things are done in the name of theirs. Is this something that truely is embeded in the religion of islam or are the practicers such passifists as to allow these people to hijack their religion to perform the hanous acts.

No matter what the reasoning is the facts as they emerge is something that has me fearing for the lives of muslims. There is only so long we can go on with this war on terror when while it may be true that a small percentage of muslims are causing these attrocities 100% of the terrorists acts have been taken out by people who practice islam. This is my plea for muslims all over the world to take back your religion don’t allow the perverse to carry out these acts in the name of your god.