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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Truth in Packaging

I'm not sure who is the genius Circuit City package designer who decided they should print the list of contents on the outside of the envelope. In late December. But I think it's a safe bet that this individual does not have any kids.

Monday, December 24, 2007


I stopped by Quiznos the other night to take out 2 toasty subs. Yum yum.

When I pulled on the door, it was locked. The employees were all standing there at the counter. I glanced at my watch - 8:58pm. I glanced at the hours posted: close - 9:00pm. I figured if I stand there for a minute, they might let me in, or tell me that they were closed. They just stared at me for a while. Eventually I left. When I got to the car, the car clock said 9:00.

So, my punctuality award of the day goes to Quiznos. They do not waste any time locking the door on Saturday night.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Too Many Fonts

There Are Too Many Damn Fonts! Blogspot has Eight Built-in Choices!

But the most frustrating thing is selecting a font in MS Word. As far as I know, everybody in the entire universe uses Times New Roman, Arial, or if feeling a little crazy...maybe Courier.

There are so many choices it's overwhelming! Who has time to figure out which font would be the perfect choice? I mean, after 5 minutes I might be pretty sure I wanted Lucida, but do I want Lucida Bright, Lucida Fax, or Lucida Sans?

I want to go back to a simpler time, when all we had was that fixed spacing system font that made us all sound like robots.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Something I notice every year about thanksgiving ads is that there is usually a fully cooked and uncarved turkey sitting on the table.

For example, look at the picture above I found in an ad. Is anyone planning to eat this turkey? Everyone has a full plate and has started eating. Has our level of decadence and waste reached the point that we roast an extra turkey for display purposes?

And what drugs did they give to those kids? They're not complaining and it looks like they might even eat some of that food. This is setting the bar too high for those of us in the real world.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I just want batteries!

Radio Shack is probably my second least favorite electronics store (just above you-know-who). The selection is limited and the sales people are obnoxious.
Let me summarize my last visit...

"Hello Sir, how can we help you?"
[Walking briskly past the bored sales people at the front of the store...] "I just need some batteries."
[Oh No! The batteries are behind the counter, I NEED to ask for customer service] "Can I get your cheapest pack of "C" batteries?"
"We have these 2-packs for $3.99, but we are offering a special deal on the 10-packs..."
"No thanks, I'll take the 2-pack"
"It's really the best value to take the 10-pack..."
"No thanks, I really only need one battery."
"Can I have your zip code?"
[Sigh. I just wanted batteries] "20xxx"
"Your name?"
[I'm feeling generous, so I hand her my credit card. She can copy my name from that. Don't they automatically have that info if you pay by credit card? I've given my info out before at a Radio Shack, I'm pretty sure. They seem to lose it over and over again.]
[Sale person types on a keyboard for 30 seconds]"Can I get your address and phone#?"
"You don't need that info to sell me batteries, do you?"
"I just need it for our 'system'. We use it to send you coupons and special deals."
"No thanks."
"OK, no problem. Sorry about the battery deal thing, we are required to inform our customers about our great promotions..."
"Yeah, I know, can I have my batteries now?"

I really don't blame the salespeople. They are just doing their job. It's the corporate policy of demanding information from people and harassing them with assistance that drives me nuts. This is somewhat ironic, because you can't get ANY assistance at you-know-where.

That really drains my batteries.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

For Your Safety

I am getting sick of companies telling us that their incompetence is "for your convenience" or "for your safety".

For your safety, the flight is being delayed 30 minutes for an additional inspectionWe scheduled our flights too close together
For safety, please re-enter your passwordWe couldn't get our system to transfer your information from one department to another
For your safety, no beverages are allowed in the facilityWe want you to pay $2 for our water bottles
For your convenience, we have provided...So you can do it yourself and we can hire fewer people, we have provided...
For your convenience, press '1' for our automated help systemPlease try to figure out your problem so we don't have to talk to you

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Is anybody else out there as annoyed with Microsoft Hotmail as I am?

I am a long time user of Hotmail. I was actually a big fan of their protocol (which isn't pop or imap) at first. Now, I feel like I am being rewarded for my support of Microsoft with pain and misery.

For starters, their proprietary format (I'll call it proprietary since nobody else uses it) stinks. You can't access your email using 3rd party mail readers. To make matters even worse, they discontinued support of their own tool, Outlook Express, which has been my Hotmail reader of choice. When I got a Vista machine, I came to the painful realization that I couldn't install Outlook Express, period.

Microsoft "replaced" Outlook Express with Windows Live Desktop. I've been using this tool in Vista for several months and it doesn't work properly. Oh, that's probably because it's in Beta. WTF? You release an operating system and it doesn't come with a fully functioning mail reader??? SHAME ON YOU, MICROSOFT. They recently released a new version of the tool, which seems to work better. But, I had a real hard time finding this update. That's because, when you click on "Check for Updates" in the old mail tool, it takes you to the generic "Windows Update" web interface (which we all know is a pain-in-the-ass). After letting that spin it's wheels for a few minutes, it tells you there are several "critical security updates", but no Windows Live update. That's right, they don't actually push down the updates through Windows Update, even though that is where they tell you it should be. I had to search on Microsoft's support pages to find the download and install it manually.

Microsoft really wants you to use the web interface instead, so they can force their advertisements on you. This may work for some people, but I like to have access to my email when I am offline. The other problem is that the web interface, surprise, surprise, works optimally in Internet Explorer. Those of us who use Firefox can kiss off, apparently.

I've been shifting my focus away from Hotmail and using email accounts provided by others. Microsoft has given me no other choice.

Hotmail should be put in the junk mail folder.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Fangled Copiers Still Suck Ass

In case you forgot why new fangled copiers suck ass, look here.

Today, I wanted to print one little paragraph of a huge document. So, I highlighted the text, hit the print button, then hit OK on the pop-up print menu. What I forgot to do, is change the option to "print selection" from the default print option. Taking me at my word, the printer started to print the whole 100 page plus document.

Back in the old days, you used to be able to abort print jobs, but not anymore. The buffer on the printer (or maybe the printer server, I don't know, I'm not an IT person) is so large that the job quickly vanished from my computer's printer manager. I quickly ran over to the printer, but still couldn't figure out how to abort the job. At least, there wasn't an obvious way. There are 32 buttons on the printer, plus a touch screen LCD with layers and layers of deep menus and options.

It doesn't help that our printer also servers as our copier and there were two unhappy coworkers standing around waiting to copy and shouting "who printed a 100 page document"!

That really overloads my buffer!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

That's a Wrap

I have had a hard time finding good wrapping paper. I recently wrapped a present for a dear loved one only to find out that you could clearly identify what the present was after wrapping. I'm not talking about shape (like, "oh, it's a football"). I mean you could read what was on the box.

There are only a few requirements in designing wrapping paper:
  • Should come in sizes generally larger than the typical gift
  • Should not spontaneously combust
  • Should not be see-through!

Come on, wrapping paper manufacturers, get it right!

FYI, I won't tell you which manufacturer made my crappy see-through paper, but I will tell you that the name rhymes with Tall-Shark. I've probably said too much.

Monday, July 23, 2007

It Was Only a Matter of Time

I am the world champion of people forgetting my name. I wish I had a dime for every time my best friend or my parents see me in the mall and say "hey, guy, how are ya?". But today I reached a new low, as my name was forgotten by the Peerflix auto-mailer name insertion query:

Maybe you have to order a certain number of videos before they bother to put your real name in their spam e-mail. If I order 100 videos, maybe they'll even send me some spam on my birthday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Most Obnoxious Website, EVER!

This website has got to be the most obnoxious site I've ever seen. You've probably seen other ones like it. They all have the same pattern:

1) Offers amusing or useful information, but requires you to fill out a questionnaire to determine the results. It could be titled "What is your IQ?", "Is your lover cheating on you?", etc.

2) After spending a few minutes filling out the survey, there is a button to"Click for Results".

3) You will NEVER get results.

This particular website will first ask you to fill out a form of personal information while they "generate the results". There will be no results. It then takes you to a screen where you have the option to participate in some type of deal. What makes this site particularly obnoxious is that you must agree to at least ONE of the deals before you can move on. I went through three pages of that crap (with fake info, of course) before I gave up.

I will give $10 to the first person who can send me verifiable proof that it is actually possible to get to the results page for the quiz.

If you really want to be amused by this website, check out it's Privacy Policy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Glitz Amok

This website takes an interesting compilation of data (list of the 86800 most frequently used words) and displays it in the most frustrating and useless way possible. Sure, it looks neat to see the words in relative size based on frequency of use, but...

- Mashing the words together without spaces makes them harder to read (even with the alternating colors)

- You can only see a few words at a time, and clicking the scroll arrow increments the list BY ONLY ONE WORD.

This site is a good example of prioritizing form over function.

Interestingly enough, Glitz and Amok both fall in the middle of the pack in frequency (~41k). Some of my favorite words (canoodle, syzygy) don't even make the list.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Happens When a Website Dies?

If a company goes under and puts its web domain up for sale, wouldn't it be tempting for a cyber-squatter to purchase the site and advertise for companies offering similar products? Damn straight it is. This happens all the time, and it drives me nuts. I try to open an old website saved in my bookmarks only to determine, after a few glances, that it has been replaced with a link-farm site.

Take a look at this website, for example. This used to be a website for a company selling laser products. (I work with lasers, hence a laser company reference). It looks like a real website, but it's not. The first hint might be that they offer links to Jewish Dating as well as Laser Equipment websites. What a peculiar combination. I hate these websites. They'd be slightly more palatable if they at least stated in bold print that they were advertisers and the old site (the one with real content) was expired.

Sigh. I miss the old days when you simply got a Page Not Found Error. You can't even find that any more. In addition to cybersquatters, your ISP is also probably doing some kind of forced advertising crap. For example, when on my company's network, if I type in an invalid url, i get redirected to a website hosted by my ISP ( It tells me the site I was looking for was not found, but also offers me "cool" links to Yahoo search and other miscellaneous junk. In their defense, at least they offer an opt out.


I Am Literally Beside Myself

I am completely sick and tired of everyone using the word 'literally'.

First, there were the people that mixed the word in from time to time. They used it wrong, but you let it slide. They said it was "literally raining cats and dogs". You just smiled politely. You didn't want to be a grammar cop, always correcting everyone. So they kept doing it, more and more.

Then one day everyone started using it wrong almost all of the time, so much so that the dictionary changed the definition so that you can use it either way. Outrageous. But life must go on. Fine. Whatever.

But now it is completely out of control. You can't listen to anyone talk for 5 minutes without literally this and literally that. Enough! It adds nothing additional to the sentence. You don't even care if they're using it right or wrong anymore. You just want them to stop.

So I am pleading with these 'literally' people. Just drop it.

I am literally burning up about this.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Take 10% Off At Macy's, Maybe?

I recently signed up for a Macy's credit card in order to take advantage of a promotional discount offer for a large purchase (my comfy new mattress that is so tall I get nosebleeds climbing into bed). Macy's has since started sending me numerous "special" card-member-only coupons. The coupons look like great deals until you read the fine print:

Macy's 10% off men's apparel
* exclusions apply; see back for details

Excludes Impulse, Tommy Bahama, Polo/Ralph Lauren,Lacoste, cosmetics, fragrances, watches, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, American Rag,I.N.C.,Tasso Elba, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Guess, Nautica, Claiborne, Material is London,DKNY, Diesel, Buffalo, Perry Ellis, Joseph Abboud, Hugo Boss,Mani, Levi's, Dockers, The North Face and Burton Snowboarding. Not valid on morning specials, and Super Buys, Everyday Values, previous purchases, services, Gift Cards, selected leased departments, special orders, bridal kiosks, restaurants, macy's wedding, macy' or payments on credit accounts. Cannot be combined with any savings pass/coupon, extra discount, or credit offer, except opening a new Macy's account. Federated Department Store employees not eligible. EXTRA SAVINGS APPLIED TO REDUCED PRICES. MCE

Wow, that's a lot of exclusions! In fact, I can't name a brand of Men's apparel that isn't on that list. It is unreasonable to offer a coupon with that many exclusions. I'm gonna bang my head on a display if I have to keep looking down at the exception list as I stroll through the clothing department looking for ANYTHING that isn't on the list.

I am guessing that MCE stands for "Most Clothes Excluded".

That really charges me up!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Yahoo: Bringing You Spam in New and Improved Ways!

Yahoo introduced a new feature to their web mail. They have integrated Yahoo messenger into the interface so that you can chat without having to use a separate client. It only took a few hours after I opened my mail client to receive the following unsolicited chat message:

From: ychat.complaint_agent_lml
Message: This is an automated message from the Yahoo! abuse department. We have received multiple complaints concerning your account. This constitutes a violation of our Terms of Service Agreement. You must respond to the following complaints to keep your Yahoo! account from being deactivated. http://om/abuse.department/SIG=10sqj7nbu/*http://

In case it isn't clear from the message, this is a bogus "violation warning" that will redirect you to another site (which I did not follow and I recommend that you don't either).

Thanks Yahoo!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going Postal...

I don't send a lot of mail, but when I do, I usually find the experience unpleasant and annoying. The post office has become a place of frustration and hassles. Here are some of my biggest beefs:

1) Stamps

What is the denomination of this stamp (on right)? I HAVE NO CLUE. I am sure that I remembered for at least a week after I purchased a roll. But I have better things to do than remember the face value of stamps. Put the denomination on every fracking stamp! I don't care if the rates just went up. Plan ahead. (Note: They are doing it again with the latest 41 cent stamps which have no denomination on them. Sigh.)

Also, why do we need a million different stamps? I don't need Star Wars stamps, or Breast Cancer stamps, or Florida Panther stamps. Just give me stamps with big fat numbers representing the denomination. What possesses people to feel the need to personalize their stamps? IT'S JUST A STAMP.

2) Postal Nazis

Like the infamous Seinfeld soup Nazi, the post office has become increasingly restrictive in what it will accept as a first class letter. It used to be that all you had to do was make sure it weighed under 1 oz, slap on your stamp, and your letter was sent happily on its way. Now, they tack on additional surcharges (currently $0.17) for any of the following...
  • Contains items that cause it to be unflat (pens, trinkets, etc)
  • Is too rigid (does not bend easily)
  • Has clasps, strings, buttons
  • Is square (!!!)
  • The length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.
I don't know about you, but now I always measure my envelope dimensions before sending a Hallmark card. I know the reason for this is that they machine process the mail, but who wants to have to go through a checklist before determining postal rates? Just get rid of the surcharge and lump the extra cost of handling non-machine-sortable items into the first class rate. Oh yeah, don't try to staple your envelope (or folded survey card) shut. They will actually send somebody to your home to kick your dog if you do.

3) Marketing Genius

The USPS must have hired a marketing guru to come up with the mail service options. I say this, because your mailing choices are more complicated than a David Lynch movie plot. Take a look for yourself.

This is my typical experience at the post office:

Me: (to myself) (I want to send this package as cheaply as possible.)
Me: "I'd like to ship this package."
Clerk: "How would you like to ship it?"
Me: (I don't know, I just want it shipped as cheaply as possible.)
Me: "What are my choices?"
Clerk: "You can send it Express Mail® for fast delivery or Priority Mail® for 2-3 day delivery"
Me: "Oh, Express Mail® will get it there overnight?"
Clerk: "Or the next day. We don't guarantee 1-day delivery."
Me: (That sounds expensive, and if it takes 2 days, it's not any better than Priority Mail®. Those are my only choices, Express or Priority? I want "Standard" shipping!)
Me: "I guess I'll go with Priority Mail®. That will be delivered in 2-3 days, right?" (I still feel like the clerk is holding out on me and there is actually a cheaper rate. I just need to say the secret pass phrase...)
Clerk: "It could take longer. It's 2-3 days on average. Do you want insurance on that?"
Me: (Insurance? WTF? Are you planning to lose my package? Does the insurance actually reduce the chance you will lose it? Sigh.) "No"
Clerk: "Do you need delivery confirmation? Would you like a roll of stamps today? Would you like the Hello Kitty or the Andy Kaufman special edition stamps..."
Me: "No, No, No, No....ARGH!!!!"

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Convenient ATM Deposits?

Bank of America has introduced a new and "improved" process for depositing cash and checks at ATM machines. They call this new approach more convenient, but it is decidedly not so. Let me give you a comparison based on my recent experience...

Old Way
1) I drive up to ATM machine.
2) I grab an envelope (50/50 chance of box being empty - a smarter person would keep spares in the car).
3) I put ALL my checks and cash in envelope.
4) I shove the envelope into the ATM machine.
5) I drive away happy.

New Way
1) I drive up to the ATM machine.
2) I try to insert my first check into the machine. It gets rejected. After 5 tries I give up.
3) I try to insert my second check into the machine. It is hard to align it with the slot because the ends curled up from sitting in my wallet, and it's also kinda windy out.
4) After I straighten out my check and carefully align is using both hands (carefully stretching out my car window), I manage to convince the ATM machine to accept my check. And I also get it to accept another one!
5) I start on my fourth check, which gets rejected 10 times. The car behind me honks impatiently.
6) I give up on the two checks that failed and pull over and park.
7) I head to the ATM machine in the lobby of the bank to give that a try.
8) I insert my ATM card and see "This machine is not able to provide a receipt, do you want to continue anyway?". I hit cancel.
9) I head to the counter. I first look for deposit slips in the lobby but can't find any.
10) I tell the cashier that I'd like to deposit the two checks.
11) He asks "Do you have a deposit slip?" No.
12) He asks "What is your account #?" I don't memorize my account#, that is why I usually use the ATM machine.
13) He agrees to deposit my checks with just my ATM card and no deposit slip (the silver lining to the bad experience).
14) I make a promise to myself to switch banks.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Kingston Random Rebate

Ok, everyone hates rebates. They are pure evil. Companies do everything in their power to prevent you from getting your rebate.

But my friends at Kingston have come up with a new twist on the rebate war. I purchased a 512MB flash drive for $27, with a $27 rebate. I promptly sent in all of the paperwork. The claim was denied, after 5 weeks, because they lost one of the items I sent in. I sent the item in again. 4 weeks later, I called to check in. They said it was approved, and they are sending me a check for $9. I said "Excuse me, the rebate is for $27". Apparently their thorough analysis concluded that my paperwork qualified for $9. As annoyed as I was when rebates were just evil - now I need to further cope with the fact that they are evil AND arbitrary.

All I can envision is a room full of monkeys wearing little Kingston hats, throwing darts at a board to determine an amount to send for my rebate. Or some intern sitting at a desk, crossing out numbers and writing smaller ones until a supervisor nods yes.
Another day, another reason to hate rebates.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Shopping for Clothes

Like probably most men, I HATE shopping for clothes. My objective is to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, and I often give up in frustration if I can't find anything fast. And if you do find something, it is disappointing to determine that they don't have it in your size or it doesn't fit. Stores make no effort to simplify the process.

Here are some suggestions for clothing retailers to make more sales by making it less frustrating to shop:

1) Put up a sign that indicates what sizes are available. I can't tell you how many time I have searched piles and piles of pants only to find that the store doesn't even CARRY my size in that brand. Some stores have charts, most do not. And make it easy to identify the size. If I have to spend 20 seconds per item searching for the size, I might go on a rampage before I finish searching the entire rack.

2) Make sizes STANDARD. Two pieces of clothing with the same size should fit the same. It's not rocket science. If the electronics industry kept such poor standards we'd all still be listening to 8-tracks and playing Atari.

3) Have a bin in the fitting room area for us to discard clothes that we try on but don't want to purchase. You don't want me trying to refold a shirt. I promise that I won't remember where I got it and will just shove it any random shelf when nobody is watching. Even libraries are smart enough to realize that patrons should not be trusted to restock the shelves.

4) Make sure that the shelves are restocked properly every day. Clothes should be arranged by size and brand. Fix the mess that the patrons made the previous day. Of course, if you have a discard bin as mentioned above, keeping the stock in order will be easier.

5) Stop the practice of Mystery Pricing.

I don't like the way that sizes up!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Worthless eTrade

I decided to sell a few stocks and close my eTrade account, since their annual fees and commissions make it impossible to get any more returns than I can get from a savings account.

This is not as easy as you might expect.

One of my stocks has a value of $0. It's not even something I purchased - it's one of those mystery stocks that got created when there was a merger, or spinoff, or something. Well, I can't close my account until I liquidate these shares. And the only way to liquidate these shares is to print out a paper form ("Worthless Securities Authorization Form") and mail it in to them. And, by the way, there is a $5 charge to liquidate my worthless security:

Once I liquidate my worthless security, and sell everything ($12 commission for each), then I have to figure out how to transfer the funds to another account. Then I can ask them to close my account. Of course, they'll probably have hit me for two or three more annual fees by then.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Please Select Your Country

I am willing to embrace the flat world and its global market. However, this does not mean that I want to sift through a list of EVERY FREAKING COUNTRY to select United States from the bottom of the list on a web form.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This company did the list in an intelligent way, listing the most likely countries of origin on the top:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

There are many examples of other ridiculous pull-down lists as well. Another one that really annoys me is time zone selection. Blogspot, for example, gives you over 150 time zones to chose from for your blog. As far as I know, there are only 24 possible hours of the day it could be at any given location at any given time. What ridiculous pull-down lists drive you mad?

That really...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Apple iPod Incompatible With Polarized Sunglasses

As the weather gets nicer, I found myself outside more, enjoying my iPod. It's only now that I've discovered that I can't see the display in bright daylight when I am wearing my sunglasses. That is because I wear polarized sunglasses, and the iPod display, being liquid crystal (LCD), is also polarized. They oriented the polarization of the display screen to be at a slant with respect to the normal viewing angle. This means that the display is only roughly half as bright as it should be, unless I tilt the iPod at a funky angle.

Apple's engineers must be lazy. I can't think of a good reason why they didn't oriented the screen for maximum brightness when viewed horizontally. They went to such an effort to make the screen super bright, so that you can enjoy it in daylight. Did they not expect you to wear sunglasses? Maybe they are working on iShades (coming out in August) that will be more compatible with the iPod.

I wonder if the screens are installed randomly (though I seriously doubt it)? Does anybody else have the same problem with their display? I will be examining my friends' iPods closely.

For what it's worth, I checked my GPS unit display and it is set up properly for full brightness when viewed horizontally. Kudos Garmin!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Please Consult Your Tax Advisor

I am completely sick of advertisements that say "please consult your tax advisor".

First of all, these companies are just making this disclaimer so they can say anything they want in their marketing campaign. "HOME EQUITY LOANS - FULLY DEDUCTIBLE" (to determine deduction eligibility, please consult your tax advisor)

: We are normal people! We are not rich marketing executives. I do not have a team of advisors. The only advisor in my house advises me twice a week to take out the trash. I have never had a tax advisor. And if I did, he'd charge me an arm and a leg to find out that your scheme is not tax deductible because I am not blind and disabled. I don't even know anyone who has a tax advisor. (The guy at the mall who, once a year, charges you $150 to punch your W-2 into a computer does not count).

Search for "consult your tax advisor" on the web and you will get 694,000 hits. All of them are people trying to sell something to us that we are not smart enough to understand. I am going to start selling a set of car tires that are guaranteed to last for 300,000 miles. I will include a disclaimer that says "consult your hydrocarbon polymer engineer".

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Worst Passover Math EVER

Happy Passover!

Manischewitz may have the best Matzo Ball Mix around, but they sure aren't any good at math. Looking at the nutritional facts, it's clear that a package makes about 18 matzo balls. Then again, looking at the back of the box, you get a different story. First of all, is a "package" a packet, or a carton? Apparently 12 (or 24?) is about 18. Which is it???

This really isn't Kosher!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

AMF Village Lanes

I took my children to AMF Village Lanes for an afternoon of bowling, along with their cousin who was staying with us for the week.

The first issue is that they would not take my coupon. Even though they are clearly listed on the website I went to as "AMF Village Lanes", they said they were privately owned and thus could not honor the coupon. I don't think it would kill them to honor our "Buy one kids game, get one free" coupon, to drum up some loyal local business. So I guess they don't mind the prestige of the AMF name, except when it comes to taking my coupon.

The bigger issue was when we violated the snack policy. Since my kids generally don't eat 3-day old hot dogs and beer, I took some Nutri-grain bars and juice boxes out of my backpack for the kids to eat. We went over to the designated tables, to make sure we wouldn't get food in the bowling area (even though this would have only added to the crushed chips and other debris that was already there next to the lane when we arrived). The alley guy came over and told us we would have to throw out our snacks because there is "No outside food or drink" permitted in the premises. (By the way, outside cigarettes are clearly not a problem). I told him he could try to take the juice box away from my 3-year old. Then he gave us the other option, which was to take it outside. So the four of us go outside the side door and sit on the asphalt in the parking lot eating our snack. A few minutes later, the guy comes out and says we can't take bowling shoes outside, so we will have to take off the shoes or go back inside. We went back in and the 3-year old hid in the corner to finish his snack bar while his cousin acted as "look-out".

By the way, for some very funny discussion about Village Lanes, look at some of the comments on this bowling2u page. I think Heather sums it up best with her commentary on 11/3/06. I won't spoil it for you, but she manages to precisely describe the decor, staff, activities, clientele, pricing, and equipment in one short paragraph.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dear Microsoft Access

Dear Microsoft Access,

I just selected this database and clicked to open it. So can you please stop asking me again whether I want to open it? I have already thought about it, and I'm sure I want to open the file.

I know that sometimes files may not be safe to open. Thank you for the reminder. And thank you for reminding me every time I open this file. So can you please just open it now?


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Fangled Copiers Suck Ass

Advances in photocopier technology are one example of technology run amuk. I tremble with fear and intimidation any time I need to make a copy. You need a PhD from M.I.T. to operate the damn things. Not to mention that most office copiers also function as a networked printer/fax/breadmaker.

Sometimes I try to copy something only to find it won't make my copy because there is some print job error clogging up the queue. That's just great, because some idiot is trying to print to 24"x36" paper, which doesn't exist, I can't photocopy my important memo. And instead of just printing my little memo, I have to press all kinds of buttons because the copier can't imagine that I just wanted to print my 3"x5" note on a standard 8.5"x11" paper. No, I don't want zoom! I don't look forward to the day they add speech technology. "Are you SURE you don't want me to enlarge that? It's gonna look small at actual size. And you'll have WAY too much white space."

I have a solution. Apple needs to come out with the iCopier. It would just have one button on it, "Copy". Oh wait, that sounds just like the copiers we used to have many years ago that worked just fine.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Apple iTunes Annihilates Windows Computers

The last time Apple QuickTime alerted me, on my Windows 2k computer, that a new update was available for download, I noticed something new. There was an (automatically selected) option to also download and install Apple iTunes. I didn’t know much about iTunes, and I don’t condone software bundling with updates, but I figured it would be innocuous enough to try it out.

I was dead wrong. What happened next was worse than any blue screen of death. It was total annihilation.

After the installation was complete, I had to trudge through that all-to-common compulsory Windows restart. After the computer shut down, it never started up again. You would think that Windows “Safe Boot” or “Boot to Last Known Good Configuration” would be able to start up even after a bad installation. You would be wrong. You would think that the Windows emergency recovery disc would save the day. You would still be wrong. In fact, the only resolution I (and many others) had found was to reinstall Windows and start over.

I did an extensive search for solutions before resorting to a full re-install. Reinstalling Windows 2000 is a major headache (a rant for another day). The most disturbing thing I found is that Apple has been cognizant of the problem for a very long time (at least since 2005) and has done nothing about it. The problem is caused by a conflict with a commonly installed Win2k CD writing software application. Apple, and Steve Jobs, should be ashamed for not resolving the problem. Or in the very least, should modify the iTunes installer to abort if the conflicting software is detected on the computer. It is irresponsible to allow a bug to remain that completely and irrecoverably (to any common user) crashes a computer, even if it only affects a portion of users.

For anyone who is experiencing this same problem, I ultimately found a way to avoid the reboot (see comments).

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What Does It Cost For An $8 Treasure Hunt?

I was thinking about going to this treasure hunt that I saw advertised in the local paper.

But I decided to boycott this event on principle. The cost is not $8! The cost is $13. I don't care how you distribute the fees after I give them to you. Just give me one number to tell me what the actual cost is.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Flexible Savings Accounts

If you get health benefits through your employer, you may be familiar with a horrific thing called Flexible Savings Accounts.

The first thing you realize about Flexible Savings Accounts is that they are not at all flexible, they do not represent savings, and they are not accounts. It gets worse from there.

The idea of the FSA is that you should not pay taxes on earnings that you earmark toward out-of-pocket expenses for medical care. But since you cannot be trusted, the government decided that you have to GUESS at the beginning of the year how much you will spend. If you guess wrong, you lose the money. So sorry.

The following are the simple steps you need to perform to save money with a Flexible Spending Account:

1. Take a wild guess how much your family will spend out of pocket on medical care next year. Warning: Do not guess wrong or you will lose any extra money that you guessed over the actual amount.

2. Let you employer hold some of your paycheck aside, so you can possibly be reimbursed later.

3. Fax receipts and claim forms with all of the details of your medical expenses to a claims administrator. Warning: You must include all of the necessary information, or they will not give you back your own money (that they took in step 2 above). This includes date, provider, services provided, member name, amount, etc. Just imagine filling out a dozen rebate applications, and you will start to get the idea.

4. Wait and hope that your expenses are approved so they can give you back your money.

5. Any amount that you overestimated in step 1 above is donated to your employer at the end of the year. Any amount that you underestimated, tough luck because you can not change your election during the year.

6. Repeat the process, starting back at step 1 for next year.

Example: Suppose you set aside $200 in your FSA, you are in a 25% tax bracket, and by some miracle you guessed right and provided the paperwork to get all of your money reimbursed. Congratulations - you just saved a total of $50 on your taxes! (Try not to think about the fact that for all that time you spent you could have just gone out and mowed 10 lawns for $20 each.)

Monday, March 12, 2007


Don't waste your time with a website called Peerflix.

Previously, I raved about Lala - a site where you can send and receive used CDs. Peerflix is the same concept, but for movie DVDs instead of music CDs. The only difference between the two is that Lala is awesome, and Peerflix stinks.

The biggest problem - Peerflix decided to have users mail DVDs in paper mailers. This means that (a) you have to fumble around with printing out mailers and wrapping DVDs with origami and scotch tape, and (b) your DVDs will be delivered cracked and un-usable. My very first DVD, after waiting 2 months, arrived cracked. The idiot who sent it to me didn't even use the correct mailer. He made his own mailer that was marked postage due, barely legible, etc.

Other problems - The Peerflix website is annoying. When you have a DVD that someone wants, it sends you an e-mail. If you don't immediately respond that you are sending the item, it follows up with a "you lost your chance" e-mail and labels your DVD as "not interested". And the DVDs are not all of equal value. There is a cryptic system that assigns dollar values to your DVDs. Also, did I mention that the DVDs arrive cracked and unusable?

In case you are wondering what I need to do to get a credit for my cracked/unusable CD, I checked on the website. It took me a few minutes, but I finally located a page with instructions for "filing a claim". I need to print out one of those origami mailers, and send them the cracked DVD so they can examine it to determiine if I qualify for a credit !

That really herniates my disc.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wind Blows

The other day, I came home from work to find an empty space where there had previously been two garbage cans that I put out in the morning. It seems that my garbage cans blew away due to high gusts of wind in the afternoon.

Unless you are planning to fly a kite, wind sucks. I hate wind. Tornadoes...hurricanes...wind burn...wind chill! It might be 75F, but it feels like fracking -20F with the wind chill.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Best Buy Sucks #3

According to the Hartford Courant, Best Buy has confirmed that they have an intranet site that can only be accessed by employees that looks almost identical to the internet site. Apparently, employees of Best Buy have used this intranet site to deny customers discounts that were advertised on the company's internet site. Could Best Buy be intentionally misleading customers by advertising one price on the internet, but then having sales people pull-up the identical looking intranet site inside the store with a different price? I certainly hope not, but it's hard to imagine that in a tech-savvy store like Best Buy, the salesperson couldn't have just checked the price displayed advertised on the web.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Enclosed Is Your Taxcut Software

It's tax preparation season, so it would be easy for me to rant about the crappy features in my tax software. But my dignity is above all of that, so I am ranting about the crappy marketing strategy of my tax software.

For the last 8 years or so, I have purchased H&R Block Taxcut software (formerly Kiplinger Taxcut). This year I was pleased when they sent me the following package, including the CD, at no charge:

As you can see, the package clearly says "Premium Federal + State", "Everything you need", "Full version", and "Enclosed is everything you need to complete your federal and state return". Let me repeat that last part again - "Enclosed is everything you need to complete your federal and state return". Right at the top of the package.

Why do I think they would give me the software for free? Am I some sort of idiot? Good question. I don't know. I thought maybe (1) they charge for filing the return electronically, (2) they give you the basic version and try to upsell you an upgraded version, or (3) they try to charge you for certain features, such as tax advisor or deduction pro.

Now, just in case the marketing people at Taxcut are a bunch of SLEAZY DIRTBAGS who LIE and COMMIT FRAUD I decided to load the software in February to make sure I indeed had "everything I need to complete my federal and state return". Sure enough, I loaded the CD and it took me to their website where I could buy the software for $19.99. So the package that they sent me contained precisely nothing but a pointer to their website (you have to download updates to all of the files after you purchase the software anyway). So I went to ebay and bought the software for $0.01 plus $3 shipping.

The people I feel sorry for are the poor souls who load the CD on April 14. They are stuck paying $20 (plus whatever it costs for State), with little alternative.

That really taxes my patience.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mystery Pricing

I understand that companies like to play marketing tricks. It doesn't bother me TOO much when they say a hotel room is $79 per person, double occupancy (actual cost = $158 plus tax). The company flashed a "fake" number (79), but at least there was full disclosure.

No, what really stinks is stuff like this item I received from Snowshoe ski resort in West Virginia:

I think it is unconscionable to say "Rate does not include reservation processing fee". Is it a $20 fee? Is it $99? This is a huge factor. Why did they bother to print the $53 number? This number is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT without knowing the amount of the mystery processing fee. It would be equivalent for them to just say "My niece's favorite number is 53. Call us to find out how much the real cost of this package is going to be". Who are we kidding, they know how much the processing fee is. So why not just tell us?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Milestone: 100 Posts

This post marks the 100th submission to the Rants and Raves of Thickness. For the past 1.5 years, we have been ranting (and occasionally raving) about anything and everything. To mark this milestone, we've added a list of favorite rants to the sidebar.

You can expect to see the following during the next 100 posts:
  • A new and improved look and feel to the blog
  • 40% more angst
  • Guest rants (you know you want to)
  • Vista rants (would you expect otherwise?)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thanks For Your Business

Ok, I appreciate when the auto repair guys try not to get the mat soiled in the car, but do they really need to leave behind the filthy paper mat that says "Thanks For Your Business"?

"Thanks for your business. Now look for a trash can where you can pull over and discard the thick, crumpled mass of paper we left behind."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Specialty Pool Products

As soon as I received my Specialty Pool Products catalog the other day, I was ready to dig in and order some quality items.

And what is this about Free Shipping? How wonderful! Let's have a closer look.

Looks like free shipping is going to set me back $8.95. Goodbye Specialty Pool Products. Hello ebay.

The Windows Experience IndexTM

With the release of Microsoft Vista comes the Windows Experience Index. While not as exciting as the Jimmy Hendrix Experience, the Windows Experience Index is intended to indicate, in a single "score", how well your computer will perform under the Vista operating system. Microsoft has made it clear that, if your computer is older than Suri Cruise, then you might as well just throw it out, because Vista will simply cause the hard drive to melt down into a blob of goo if you try to install it.

This may be more obvious than Paula Abdul's substance abuse problems, but...

You should not need to buy a new computer every time Microsoft introduces an updated operating system!

It seems every time Microsoft introduces a new operating system, it raises the bar for minimum system requirements, without good reason. As far as I can tell, the reason you need a faster computer to run Vista is for the new AeroTM glassy windows with "dynamic reflections". I have no doubt, once I run out and buy the latest computer pre-installed with Vista, that it will operate just as slow as my previous computer, because it will be overburdened with these new moronic and useless operating system "features".

So, if you are still thinking about upgrading a computer, you probably want to know your Windows Experience Index first, before you embarrass yourself. Here is all that you have to do:

1) Buy MS Vista
2) Install MS Vista on your computer
3) Get your Windows Experience Index (yes, you can only get your score AFTER you install Vista)
4) Act shocked when your score is -3.2
5) Uninstall Vista
6) Realize that you lost your WinXP CD, and now you are screwed.

Update: It turns out that Microsoft has a tool for XP that you can download called the "Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor". After installing this tool and letting it "analyze" for 10-20 minutes, it did... NOT reveal my Windows Experience Index. It DID tell me that I should replace my video card and upgrade my memory if I wanted to use Vista. I am half-tempted to plop down hundreds of dollars and many hours installing crap just so I can find out my WEI.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Slapping The Donald

When we had a dial-up connection, we waited forever for pages to load. We thought to ourselves, "When I get a cable modem, everything will be great. Even the most complex pages will load instantly. Surfing the web will be a true delight."

But what we didn't realize is that when designers realize that we all have cable modems, they will design more content into every page. Video, images, flash, etc will all become the norm. They will continue to do this until we are back to an intolerable load time.

Today's sign of the apocalypse - waiting for my browser to load a banner ad for "Slap the Donald - Get a Laptop".

That really burns my bandwidth.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Send It

A few months ago, I signed up for some web services that let you send large attachments in an e-mail. All of them were horrible, so I ended up just putting the file on an ftp site instead. One of the sites I had tried was called You Send It. Last night, I got an e-mail from my friends at You Send It. I could not believe my good fortune. It said that I got a free upgrade of my account from YouSendIt Lite to YouSendIt Business Plus!

I could not turn down such an offer, so early this morning (11 hours after receiving the promotion e-mail) I clicked the link in the e-mail to upgrade my account. Here is the "Promotion code is expired" message I got on the site:

So to my friends at YouSendIt, I say: You Shove It!

Monday, January 29, 2007

AOL Instant Messenger 6.0

If you are one of the losers (like me) who are still using AOL Instant Messenger, please be warned that I do not recommend upgrading to version 6.0.

Here are some issues I had after upgrading and using it for 2-3 days:

1. After 4 or 5 messages in a conversation, the client would start mysteriously inserting blank lines into the beginning of my messages. First one blank line, then 2, 3, etc. This was also visible to the person with whom I was chatting. Although this is a complete dealbreaker, and I could stop here, I will proceed to mention a few other items I noticed anyway.

2. At times, it would not flash to indicate when I received a new message. This is critical. So a few times I would get messages back and then people would think I was ignoring them. Again, this is a dealbreaker. The program seemed to especially struggle when I had more than 1 conversation open. I like the tabbed feature where it only shows at most one AIM icon in the taskbar, but most of the time with tabbed chatting it would not flash when any new messages came in.

3. There was a problem with the timestamps. I would send something stamped 08:17 AM, then get a return message back stamped 08:14 AM. What the heck? This is not a dealbreaker, but very annoying.

4. This is not a bug, but it must be noted that they have a horrific new feature in AIM 6.0 which is hard to describe, but it is basically animated wallpaper in the background of your chats. When someone put a smiley in a message, the background would undergo a smiley explosion and there would be little shards of smiley shrapnel bouncing all over the place. (By the way, I am not making this up.)

5. I found out that this was a "Beta" release only AFTER going to the website to look for a Known Issues page. It seems like everyone releases products nowadays whenever they are 75% functional. They should tell you this before you install it. Of course, none of the above issues were listed as "Known Issues" on the website. The Known Issues on the site were things like "If you have the Smiley Central toolbar installed, you will not be able to send or receive IMs after the first one is sent or received." (Side note: I am paralyzed in fear of the existence of a "Smiley Central" toolbar. Please God, let me never come in contact with this toolbar.)

Let's hope they address some of the above issues before they force everyone on to 6.0. (Yep, only version 6.0 will be supported in Windows Vista. Enjoy!)

One bit of good news: I went back and installed version 5.9, and it seems to have effectively replaced this over the crappy 6.0 Beta version. Apparently, version 6.0 is so bad, they actually leave version 5.9 on your computer when you upgrade to 6.0 (I verified this on the AOL website).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rave: Driving Ranges (counterpoint)

This post is a counterpoint to the rant about driving ranges (read MikeB's rant first).

I love going to the driving range! I believe that the increased interest in golf from beginners and social players is a positive thing. In fact, the increased popularity has spurred many new driving ranges to open making them much more accessible.

Access to Driving Ranges - Where I live, there are several driving ranges within a short drive (unintentional pun). Most of these ranges have lights so you can practice at night. Some are even heated for the winter. MikeB complains about walking up a flight of stairs to the second level, but having a second level means more people can enjoy driving. And, my drives go a few extra yards from the upper deck.

Feedback/Putting Green - There have been great advances in feedback. Check out Woody's Golf Range, one of my favorite places to go. They have flags that light up when your ball lands on the green. They also have pitching, chipping and sand trap areas. How cool is that? I don't think Woody's is unique, though. There are many driving ranges around the country with these features.

OK, I will agree that prices have gone up and you sometimes have to deal with crowds. But this only goes to show that there is a high level in interest in driving. I also bet it costs a lot more to run a driving range with lighted/heated tees and electronic greens.

One last note, using Bowling as a counter-example to driving ranges is ridiculous. If bowling has seen remarkable advances, then why do I still need to wear those stupid ugly shoes?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Christian Faith Financial

I was a bit disturbed by this piece of spam I received for a website called Christain Faith Financial offering "CASH ADVANCE LOANS", "NO CREDIT CHECKS", and "GET MONEY NOW".

First of all, perhaps this is just some sleazy company trying to take advantage of people's Christian faith. Maybe they offer borderline legal and quasi-ethical loans with very high interest rates. That would be bad enough.

But even supposing that this is a legitimate financial enterprise, I find it dubious for them to use Christianity as their selling point. I don't remember anything in the bible about offering sketchy financial services to your fellow man.

Even without knowing much about this company, I think is is safe to say that Jesus would be ashamed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Captcha Security Favorites

A while ago, we ranted about a horrible CAPTCHA* screen that couldn't be interpreted by a machine OR a human (see original post). Since then, we have run into a few more classical examples of bad CAPTCHA's...

The first one is courtesy of our host, Blogspot.

Maybe this CAPTCHA was reasonable considering that the blog was about mind reading.

Google was trying to send a subtle message with this one. And, the next CAPTCHA that came up was the word "dumbass"! Go figure.

(Thanks to Chris Balbontin and The Daily WTF for this pic.)

*In case you didn't know, the term CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. That is far less interesting than if CAPTCHA was just a cute way of saying CAPTURE.

Personal Information Management

It seems that every day there is a new website, device, or piece of software to help us manage our contacts. The item shown above, for a product called Notables, sums up the problems I have with this.

1. In this golden age of information, there is still no clear standard for moving your information from one application to another. So I guess these people are expecting us to spend 2-3 days loading all of our addresses, phone numbers, appointments, etc. into their product with the hopes that maybe it works and we will like it.

2. These products keep adding more and more features. Whatever happened to choosing a specialty, and focusing on that? Now, in addition to all of our contact information, we are supposed to also transfer our music playlists, photos, shortcuts, reminders, etc. And then pray that we can somehow get all of this stuff back out when we realize how buggy the Beta interface is and decide to switch to the new application that comes out next week.

3. If we don't upgrade to one of these "Information Management Systems", we suffer the guilt that maybe we are not managing our information as well as we could be.

4. Is it just me, or do people in general seem far less organized than they were 20 years ago? Back then, everyone had their trusty wall calendar and address book. They showed up on time for meetings without our having to remind them, and they sent birthday cards. The reality of the situation is that maybe it is not a better tool that people need, but just a desire to be organized.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yahoo Email

Yahoo released their spiffy new e-mail service a few months ago. It is very impressive - much better than the clunky interface they used to have. In many ways it behaves more like the feature-rich thick-client e-mail applications we have all grown accustomed to using off-line. This is a good step for an on-line e-mail application.

There is only one problem - it is rather slow. It usually takes 5-10 seconds to open my inbox, and then 1-2 seconds to open each e-mail when I click on it. Doesn't sounds like a lot, but it adds up.

So what did Yahoo decide to do about this problem? Did they get more servers? Did they optimize the code? No, they hired some graphics people to come up with cute animations for us to look at while our mailbox is loading. I must admit, they are cute. Here is the mail guy getting chased by an ostrich:

So, the final tally is:

Speed of e-mail application: D+
Cuteness of animations: A

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Crane Game

There are certain individuals who leave a legacy of inflicting great agony upon the world, and among them is whomever invented the crane game. This is the game where a young girl puts a coin into a machine, drops a flimsy grabbing device in the hopes of winning a teddy bear, and then has her hopes dashed by the "crane" failing to latch on to the coveted object. For every child who successfully achieves a moment of joy from this machine, another 20 walk away crying. (Not to mention the 1 or 2 kids per year who get trapped inside the machine.)

As much as I hated this game before, I was even more troubled to recently learn that the game is rigged to not even work properly, except for a certain small percentage of the time. This goes beyond pure evil, and moves into the realm of fraud and deceit. I hope that anyone who sells these machines, or allows them in their place of business, is not able to sleep at night.

Monday, January 08, 2007

CD's or ITunes?

Ranting about the disadvantages of digital downloads and Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been on my to-do-list for a while. (And I've already ranted about hidden CD piracy software).

Rick Broida, over at Lifehacker, does an excellent job of summarizing the differences between CD's and downloadable music. Click here to read his article.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Driving Ranges

Golf Driving Ranges are one of the few aspects of modern life that have hardly improved at all during our lifetime. In fact, the price has gone up faster than inflation and the product offered has gone down.

Let’s take a look at some aspects of the range, and see how they have changed over time:

Tees: This is perhaps the biggest disappointment I have on a regular basis at the range. Who would ever want to hit a golf ball off of a tee that is 3-4 inches above the ground? This is not practice. It is like clown golf. This benefits no aspect of your swing. Perhaps they are assuming that everyone has the latest Big Bertha driver, with the largest possible head size? I remember back in the day, you would find tees of various sizes lying around the mats that you could use. You would look around, find one at the desired height, and then place it under your mat.

Balls: They definitely don’t seem any better than they used to be. Where is all that new technology – surely there are some used Titleist Pro V1 balls out there somewhere that they can scrounge up. No, it seems that we are stuck with the same red stripe specials they were feeding to us years ago.

Feedback: This critical area has not improved at all in 30 years. We are still stuck with a few signs posted at 100, 150, and 200 yards, pointed at an angle most likely different from where you are. You hit a shot and hope to squint and see how far it went. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of your ball, you then need to triangulate the distance based on your angle from the posted yardage markers. It’s about time they tracked the balls and told you how straight and far they each go. And then they should keep some statistics to let you know your average distance, trajectory, and alignment.

Mats: Here is an area where things have clearly taken a turn for the worse. Back in the day, most ranges had a little grassy area down at the end of the tee boxes. This let you practice hitting some actual golf shots, as opposed to trying to hit some fake shots from the Astroturf mats. It seems that you can hardly find these areas at all anymore, except for the upscale ranges at nicer golf courses.

Tokens: It used to be that you could get a large bucket of balls for $5. Now you get tokens for $6 each. But what they don’t tell you is that it takes 2 or 3 tokens to fill up the large bucket. Yet this is still better than the courses that give you a little bag of about 20 balls for $5. Side note: I bought a bunch of tokens one time when they had a 10 for $20 special. The next year I found out that they changed the machines, so my old tokens from the previous year would no longer work.

Crowds: Thanks to Tiger Woods, everyone and their mother are now learning to golf. So don’t bother finding a tee box on the “main level”. Just head up a flight of stairs (with balls spilling out of your bucket) to the upper level tees. Assuming you’re not getting drenched by rain, your additional challenge is to do some calculus to figure out how much further your ball is traveling due to the height advantage.

Putting Green: The new trend is to have target flags without holes. The best you can hope for is to bounce your ball off of the flag. This is not at all rewarding. Is it that hard to dig the little hole in the ground? And of course the inevitable sign that says “No Chipping”. What the heck? Do these people realize that I am coming to this facility to practice golf? Hint: it’s not that hard to grow new grass – I do it in my yard all the time, and it takes a few months. They should just rotate the chipping area from time to time. I hope next time I go to the ice rink, they don’t have a sign that says “No Figure 8’s”.


Counter-example: Bowling, for example, is a sport that has done a better job improving over time. Most places now have bumpers so that kids can bowl, and they keep your score automatically (even though it doesn't work sometimes). They also have disco bowling nights, and other new concepts. I consider these to be good-faith improvements, and so I don't mind as much that the prices have gone up.

(Read counterpoint rave by BrianM)

Targeted Ads not so Targeted

I really hate when you do a search on the internet and some of top results are web sites that aggregate links to other sites. I feel the same about those sponsored ads that appear to be targeted but really aren't. You know, the ads that appear on the sidebar of the search and say things like "Find great deals on <insert search string here>, compare prices and stores!" You get your hopes up that they may actually have real live vendors waiting to sell you the rare item you were searching for, but they don't.

I did the following search to illustrate how obviously untargeted these ads can be...

and the results...