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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mr. Sensitivity

I hate sensitive men! I mean the real sensitive type.

You know, who get moody and pout when something negative is said to them. Who worry that their jeans make them look fat.

They might as well be women.

Don't get me wrong, women are beautiful creatures. Their differences from men make women special. I can handle a whole lot of sensitivity from a woman, it comes with the territory. Well, my ex-girlfriends would probably disagree. And I bet my current girlfriend (Patti) is rapidly hitting the comment button to put her two-cents in. But seriously, women get a free pass to be sensitive, as long as it's not too extreme.

But from men, I have zero tolerance for sensitivity. Go ahead, flame away! I can take it. My feelings won't be hurt.

That really gets my panties in a bunch!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Radio Overplay

I really liked the song "Best of You" by the Foo Fighters. Really. I even sang along the first few times I heard it... "is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you..?" But lately, this freaking song has been on the radio EVERY single time I get in my car. Even on short drives to the 7-11, "...the best, the best of you..." ARGH. The radio has made me HATE this song.

Can't they, maybe, only play a song once every 3-4 hours? Aren't there lots of other nice songs out there?

That really rubs me the wrong way.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sanitation Engineers

I get a bit annoyed whenever it is trash day. When I come home from work, I often find my trashcans strewn across the neighborhood. Often, a trashcan is sitting on my neighbor's lawn. Since they all look alike, I must give it careful inspection to make sure it is mine. I don't want to be accused of stealing my neighbor's trashcan. (I know, I can put my name on the trashcan or something like that). Other times, my trashcan, or recycling bin, is sitting in the middle of the parking lot, requiring me to get out of my car and remove it before I can park.

I know that they toss the trashcans and bins around to shave precious seconds off of their time. But is this a race? Is there a prize? Since they are providing a service, one that I greatly appreciate actually, could they go all the way and finish the service with some style? Why tarnish the performance with such a sloppy finish? When a gymnast stumbles on the dismount, don't they lose points, even if the performance was great until the end?

That really stinks.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Continuous Partial Attention

Does it seem like all your friends have ADD these days? Perhaps their behavior can be attributed to changes in our society. Linda Stone, formerly of Apple and Microsoft, coined the term Continuous Partial Attention to describe life in the era of e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, etc. "We keep the top level item in focus and scan the periphery in case something more important emerges." But she goes on to say that we are "over-stimulated, over-wound, unfulfilled." I agree.

Here are some of my observations of continuous partial attention. Someone has annoyed me (and I am sure you too) doing these...
  • Using a blackberry or laptop during the business meeting
  • Switching over to call waiting several times during a phone call
  • Driving poorly while using a cell phone
  • Responding to an email, but only reading a small portion of it (don't answer questions or ask questions about things already answered)
  • Typing things that don't make sense because they are IM'ing with several people at the same time
We need to wake ourselves from this trance and make changes to how we utilize technology.
  • Recognize things that are important to you and give them your full attention.
  • Don't be a slave to technology. Don't always answer the phone. Reduce time spent on email.
  • Use face-to-face time and phone calls more, instead of emails.

That really...what was I saying?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Security Measures

For the love of God, let me keep my damn shoes on!

The "no shoes" policy is the best example of one of the worst ideas in security. It's undignified, unsanitary, and poorly executed. I get especially angry at the fact that they do not provide a sufficient space behind the security gate for you to put your shoes back on. And I get a bit queasy thinking about hordes of barefoot people walking through the same spot I'm about to put my feet. Where's the disinfectant? Let me go on the record saying that I am willing to get on an airplane that has a 0.05% chance of blowing up if I can keep my shoes on in the airport (of course, the odds are much less than that).

In general, the cost/benefit value of a security protocol must be evaluated before a measure is implemented. If a security measure is expensive or causes great inconvenience, it better be proven to be effective. Another example from airport security is the ban on all knives. 80-year-old women are getting in trouble for trying to "smuggle" nail clippers on an airplane. Yet, I can easily think of several personal items that can be used as a weapon but would not be blocked at security. This security measure only provides a false sense of security. It would be better if there were no ban on knives (since the ban is ineffective anyway) and alternative security measures were considered.

Another thing that pisses me off is when you are expected to provide volumes of identification. I recently went to a wedding aboard a cruise ship. The security policy required that you bring two forms of ID, your birth certificate and a drivers license/passport. Your birth certificate? Shouldn't a passport be enough?

That really gets me bent out of shape.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Delivery, Installation, and Service

Why is it so hard to give people a reasonable time estimate for arrival when making a house call? Like many people, my job keeps me AWAY from my house during the day. It is most certainly not convenient for me (the paying customer) to be sitting around my home waiting for service. I can't imagine that it would be so difficult to provide a narrow window of estimated arrival time, so I must assume that those providing the service just don't care.

Earlier this week I bought a sofa and paid to have it delivered to my home. The furniture store said that it would be delivered "some time on Friday" and that they would call on Thursday with a time slot. When they called on Thursday, they informed me the delivery truck would arrive between 10am and 3pm. What kind of time slot is that, 5 hours?!? They do the runs from 10am to 3pm every day. Why did they even bother to call me on Thursday? They could have told me the same thing when I bought the stupid sofa. When I explained that I refuse to sit at home all afternoon (I've got a job), they tell me that the truck crew will call me in the morning with a better estimate, and that I will probably be the first stop.

When I don't hear from the truck crew in the morning, I head into work (20-30 minute drive). Around 10:30am I get a call from the furniture store telling me the truck is outside my house, why am I not there? I explain to them that they forgot to call me. Now that I have heard from them, I can be there in 20-30 minutes. They decided that they will do another run and come back between 11:30-12:30. OK, great. I go home at 11:30 and wait around an hour. When they don't show up by 12:30 I call the store and explain I will be leaving for work soon if they don't show up. The store has no way to contact the truck. Great system they have...their drivers can't afford a cell phone? Where do the huge delivery charges go? Fortunately (for them), they show up 10 minutes later, just before I get into my car to drive away. They then have the nerve to grumble and complain that they had to make two trips to my house. I can't say I feel sorry for them. It seems ironic that they would complain about my wasting their time after they were so willing to waste mine.

That really butters my muffin.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Law & Order

I hate Law & Order. No, I'm not a Muslim extremist - I'm talking about the TV show. You know, the one that is on 47 times a week on TNT, NBC, etc.

First of all, every night it is guaranteed that at some point I will walk into a room somewhere in my house and hear someone on the TV say "now, tell us about the third rape but please go slower and provide more detail".

Second, there's Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Focus on Incest, and god knows how many other variations. One of these is always on somewhere in the house. It is like some form of evil Muzak.

What the hell is wrong with people that they need to watch this crap. There are channels that show you how to prepare food or fix up your house. Why not watch one of them? If an alien watched TV in my house, he would determine that the most prevalent activities in our society are rape, murder, and theft. Also, he would probably keep forgetting which one is Sam Waterston and which is Jerry Orbach.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Porn Sites get their own Domain

Having a domain '.xxx' reserved for porn sites sounds like a good idea, right? Not according to some. ICANN, the agency that oversees domain naming, has delayed approving the domain due to heavy opposition. WHAT? These protesters, who claim they want to "protect the children", are against segregating porn sites? They believe it implies embracement and acceptance of pornography. Come on. We all know there is wide spread approval of porn(due to heavy internet traffic), they just want to keep their blinders on and pretend it will go away. Last I heard these sites are legal anyway (for the most part, I assume). Who are they to have a say in how legal operations name their websites?

Having a reserved domain name for porn will allow folks to more easily avoid the sites (or find them as it may be) if desired. It is true that the naming will be voluntary and that some in the porn industry may still have other domain names, but I expect most will want to use the '.xxx' domain. In the bare minimum (pun intended) it will keep you (er, somebody else) from accidentally typing in a porn site at work. I've personally seen colleagues try to guess a vendor's website name only to have unexpected results. Do I need to spell out what happened when I tried to get to Dick's Sporting Goods website by guessing the name?

While we are at it, how about '.spam'?

That really boils my blood.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Asking for the Number Again

About 20 years ago, customer support phone systems started asking us to punch in our account number. Then when the person came on, the first question they would ask is to say the same account number that we just wasted our time punching in.

What gets me is that, 20 years later, this still happens a lot of the time. There should be a rule that no one is allowed to work on any robots or other fun stuff until they figure out a way for a number I punch in to show up on someone's screen when they take my call.

Also, I am annoyed by the double standard. If my software forced people to provide the same information twice consecutively, the product would not be released and the whole team would probably be fired. But somehow this is ok for customer service. The resaon is that nobody ever checks on customer service when they buy something - only price and features.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cell Phones: The Infinite Contract

I needed a new cell phone when I moved from Maryland to Virginia. I signed-up for one of these "2 year commitments" in order to avoid the $36 "Set-up fee" and to get a (crappy) free phone. After I thought about it some more, I really regret the decision. Committing to over $1000 of potentially mediocre or bad service just to save about $100 was a bad choice.

A 2-year contract for a cell phone is ridiculous. You don't sign a 2 year lease when you rent an apartment. You don't commit to 2 years on your cable television. (Shh, don't give them that idea.) With technology changing so fast, just think of how different cell phone service (and phones) will be in 2 years, and you will still be stuck with the crappy old stuff.

The biggest power you, the consumer, has over the vendors is the option to shop somewhere else. You give up that option when you agree to such a long term commitment. And trust me, customer "churn" is one of the biggest concerns to cell phone companies. They need your business more than you need them.

That really gets my goat.

Slave to the GPS

I'm getting a little bit annoyed by people who buy these expensive GPS navigation systems for their car, but in many cases it causes more trouble than the old fashioned way.

1. I told my sister we were meeting at a park and gave her directions. She said she needs the address of the park so she can punch it in to her GPS. "I don't go anywhere without using the route in my GPS". So I had to go online to look up the street address of the park! Then she couldn't find us because her car took her to a different area of the park.

2. I was late to a business meeting a few months ago, because the colleague I was meeting at a nearby restaurant was almost 30 minutes late. He said "The GPS in my car said I could turn left, but they changed the light into an overpass". If he had checked a map or asked me for directions he would have been fine.

3. I think maps are going to be like analog clocks and arithmetic - a few years from now, no one will know how to use them anymore.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Aggressive Pedestrians

What is the deal with aggressive pedestrians? I see them more and more. You know the type, they walk slowly in the middle of the parking lot row, while you drive slowly behind them. Sure, they could walk over a bit on the side, to allow you to pass. But they feel the need to assert their power over you. They think that just, because you have a car, you are despicable and need to be taught some kind of lesson.

That really ticks me off.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Microsoft XBOX Accessory Squeeze

Microsoft recently announced that the new XBOX 360 will have a proprietary protocol for its peripheral interfaces. Microsoft is doing this so that they can get royalties from third party manufacturers. Because of this, Microsoft will control what peripherals can be added to the XBOX, and will add a sizeable chunk to the cost of those devices.

The consumer loses out for several reasons...

1) The consumer is suckered in by the cheap price for the hardware. This has been the business model since the original XBOX and the Sony Playstation. The XBOX hardware was actually unprofitable. The consumer is then hit with higher prices for the extras; game controllers, DVD controller, networking equipment, voice headsets, etc., in order to generate revenue. (The software is also full of licensing fees, but I'm not ranting about that here.) We, the consumers, are partially to blame for allowing this. We are easily enticed by cheaper up-front costs without considering the entire costs of owning the product including the accessories. Don't be fooled.

2) The opportunity to purchase cheaper third-party peripherals will be limited. I find it unlikely that many third party vendors will be able to undercut the cost of Microsoft peripherals when they are also going to be paying a royalty to Microsoft in order to sell the product. Also, consider this. Let's say you have some fantastic auto racing game on your computer, so you buy the MS steering wheel control. (I have one, it's fun.) Now, when you get a driving game for the XBOX, you'll have to buy a separate controller, because the PC one will be incompatible with the XBOX. There is no technical reason for this, only a greedy business model.

That really pisses me off.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

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