Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Is Google Doing Evil?

I just watched a documentary on Google, on Google's documentary website - see the previous post.

In the documentary, there was brief discussion of how a page is ranked. Step one, who links to it, valued in numbers and quality. Step two, how important is who links to it in terms of "quality," in other words, who links to the site that links to the first site. More links and more important links, increases the value of the links, driving up the rank at each level.

There's more to it; but, if a search query gives you the most "popular" result, are you getting an accurate result? An authoritative result? All of the authoritative results?

Does the imperative of popularity obscure information?

In practice, I don't think it does. Google does an amazing job of finding me what I'm looking for. But, as I am happy with what I am finding in those first few results, am I missing relevant information that is buried a page or two down, or not shown because it isn't popular enough in Google's algorithm?

PBS Without Fundraising

http://best.online.docus.googlepages.com/ is of course, by Google. It is typical Google, spare. There are 419 documentaries that stream. The one I am watching on another window is about, surprise, Google.

Immediate annoyance, it won't go full screen.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lament For Laurie

That's not her name.

I was surfing blogs a week or so ago and came across her blog. She's fifteen. She's 5' 1" and weighs about 120 lbs. Here's some excerpts from posts:

Her boyfriend took her to Ruby Tuesday for dinner:

"That's where I screwed up, and it wans't anyones fault but mine. I could have had salad, but instead I chose the Louisiana Fried Shrimp. I ate 10-11 of the shrimp (which was of course, fried), I did eat all the broccoli that came with it (steamed) and I didn't touch the bread. I had probably a little less than a quarter of the mashed potatoes, and I drank plenty of water, but I feel sick and fat and I swear my arteries are clogging as I speak."

A postscript to another post:

"Threw up, think I got up about a cup, but it was a lot of liquid, took off 100 calories."

Another post:

"Wanna know what the scale said?12 FREAKING 3.3 pounds!I swear, I have to be dehydrated, and full of crap. Subtracting exercise I only ate as many calories yesterday as I did Friday!Now I'm a freaking BLIMP.The water is going up, the diet soda is going up (diet soda keeps me fuller than water), and the calories are going DOWN. WAY down. 'Cause today I'm not having a bite! MAYBE by tomorrow I'll be 120 again."

And finally,

"I couldn't tell anyone. My official weight could never go lower than 110. When I get to 110 though, and I will, because I've done it before and moreso, how much harder could it be to just lose 7 more pounds and score a new lw. Or just 11 more pounds. It works so well. I never go to the doctors for any reason, so no one else would have to know. And I'm sure by 20 or so when I might really need to, I'll have gained a couple pounds. Metabolism is a- well, yes. I don't really WANT to weigh less than 94, don't want to be a total skeleton, but I have a high percentage of bodyfat and I could stand to lose a few more pounds than some people. Then at the same time, I don't want to lose what muscle mass I have (I know I lost a lot last time I got to my lw, but that's because I NEVER did anything but aerobic exercise)."

So there it is, a case study of anorexia. I'm a little depressed by this.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Glad Tidings?

The New York Times online reports that a group of conservative, religious Republicans met recently and that they were ticked off that there were no Republican candidates that met their criteria for endorsement:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/25/us/politics/25secret.html?hp (You have to register, but there is no charge.)

The Council For National Policy, according to the article is a group of a couple of hundred, populated by people like Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, James Dobson and Grover Norquist.

The group thinks that Giuliani, McCain and Romney are too liberal.

"Mr. Norquist said he remained open to any of the three candidates who spoke to the council [Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter] or to Mr. Romney. He argued that with the right promises, any of the four could redeem themselves in the eyes of the conservative movement despite their past records, just as some high school students take abstinence pledges even after having had sex. 'It’s called secondary virginity,' he said. 'It is a big movement in high school and also available for politicians.'”

Mr. Norquist is apparently willing to take a candidate that will face him and "confess" to his sins (with his fingers crossed behind his back), so as to have someone to carry the banner for the religious-right masses.

This is a good thing for the Republican party, if it is accurate.

The two Republicans with a chance of getting the nomination, Giuliani and McCain, could make the decision that they don't have to pander to the rabid right to be nominated. Upon nomination they wouldn't have to go through that awkward transition phase where they "clarify" all the stupid things they said to get the nomination so as to reposition themselves as the moderates that they were all along.

The rabid right would be left with sitting out the general election or holding their collective nose and voting against the "crazy, leftist, cut and run" Democrat that had to pander to his or her party's extreme to gain the nomination.

The general election is then a contest between a candidate from the "middle" who doesn't have to explain away his right wing cant and a Democrat who will have to waffle to move back to the middle so as to try to attract the middle voters that decide the general election.

The true silent majority in the middle that have sometimes sat out elections or vote for the no name Libertarian candidate, might find Giuliani or McCain, who have been consistent, to be an acceptable candidate. Maybe the election would then be decided, again as some argued about '04, by how much of the left wing Ralph "One Suit" Nader can grab from, who? Hillary, Barack, Joe, ....?

I offer all this at no charge, but will accept no blame, when I am proven wrong by the events that unfold over the next twenty months.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"A well regulated Militia...."

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

That’s what the Second Amendment says.

The National Rifle Association says that creates a limitless constitutional right for people to have and carry guns. In surfing its website I found a citation (legal reference) to a United States Circuit Court decision:

In the last few decades, courts and commentators have offered what may fairly be characterized as three different basic interpretations of the Second Amendment. The first is that the Second Amendment does not apply to individuals; rather, it merely recognizes the right of a state to arm its militia. This "states' rights" or "collective rights" interpretation of the Second Amendment has been embraced by several of our sister circuits....

Proponents of the next model admit that the Second Amendment recognizes some limited species of individual right. However,this supposedly "individual" right to bear arms can only be exercised by members of a functioning, organized state militia who bear the arms while and as a part of actively participating in the organized militia's activities. The "individual" right to keep arms only applies to members of such a militia, and then only if the federal and state governments fail to provide the firearms necessary for such militia service. At present,virtually the only such organized and actively functioning militia is the National Guard, and this has been the case for many years. Currently, the federal government provides the necessary implements of warfare, including firearms, to the National Guard, and this likewise has long been the case. Thus,under this model, the Second Amendment poses no obstacle to the wholesale disarmament of the American people. A number of our sister circuits have accepted this model, sometimes referred to by commentators as the sophisticated collective rights model....

The third model is simply that the Second Amendment recognizes the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.... None of our sister circuits has subscribed to this model, known by commentators as the individual rights model or the standard model. The individual rights view has enjoyed considerable academic endorsement, especially in the last two decades.

U.S. v. EMERSON, 270 F.3d 203, 218-220 (5th Cir. 2001). (I’ve taken out footnotes because you can't get to them. If you want to read the decision go to findlaw.com and drill down to the case. Same for the Supreme Court decision quoted below.)

The Fifth Circuit decided that the third “model” was the right interpretation of the Second Amendment. They went on to describe why in the rest of the opinion. The Fifth Circuit, to my mind, ignored the only U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue:

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a `shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn. 154, 158." (emphasis added).

United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174,59 S.Ct. 816, 818; 83 L.Ed. 1206 (1939).

The Defendant in this case was accused of violating a federal statute that barred having a shotgun with a barrel under eighteen inches. He had argued that this restriction violated his constitutional right to have such a gun. The quoted language above says, to me, that the right to bear arms is limited to those that are necessary to have a “well regulated militia.” The Second Amendment allows people to have firearms that a militia could need to be effective. I just wish the Supreme Court would come out and say it.

For the odd reader that is a lawyer and agrees with the Fifth Circuit’s constitutional analysis, let me know where I went wrong.

I will soon offer a practical argument that we should “just say no to guns," if I get around to writing it.

It's Good To Be a Carpetbagger

It's a bit past one in the afternoon. I just got back from having "meat and two," cornbread and tea for lunch. I drove to and from the restaurant with the windows down. It's 66 degrees outside, there's a gentle breeze blowing and the sky is blue. The tree outside the office door has tiny little buds on it. The little bird perched on a branch isn't chirping though - needs to get with it.

I am in my third decade of living in the South. Never goin' back.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wonderful Movie Lines

I read a quote today in Living Next Door To Alice (I still can't do the html stuff and don't have the time or patience to figure it out. The link is on the right under Recommended) of a speech by Robert Kennedy. The quote, the speech and the post were good reading.

But for some reason, I immediately thought of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck:

Tom Joad: I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs and good rich land layin' fallow. Or maybe one guy with a million acres and a hundred thousand farmers starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled...

Ma Joad: Oh, Tommy, they'd drag you out and cut you down just like they done to Casy.

Tom Joad: They'd drag me anyways. Sooner or later they'd get me for one thing if not for another. Until then...

Ma Joad: Tommy, you're not aimin' to kill nobody.

Tom Joad: No, Ma, not that. That ain't it. It's just, well as long as I'm an outlaw anyways... maybe I can do somethin'... maybe I can just find out somethin', just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that's wrong and see if they ain't somethin' that can be done about it. I ain't thought it out all clear, Ma. I can't. I don't know enough.

Ma Joad: How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy? Why they could kill ya and I'd never know. They could hurt ya. How am I gonna know?

Tom Joad: Well, maybe it's like Casy says. A fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then...

Ma Joad: Then what, Tom?

Tom Joad: Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

Ma Joad: I don't understand it, Tom.

Tom Joad: Me, neither, Ma, but - just somethin' I been thinkin' about

The line everyone remembers is of course Tom's "everywhere" monologue towards the end.

What are the best lines or scenes from novels or movies or plays that you've kept with you? For inspiration, or recollection, you can find the lines above from The Grapes of Wrath and much, much more at


I promise, I'll figure out the html stuff soon.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Google Is Not Infallible

For anything other than some technical searches, I use Google. I may have to rethink that.

I registered at Google's Webmaster services. One of the things it does is track searches that give your blog as a result. I think their algorithms need a bit of tweaking.

I am the sixth result, on average, for "southern baptist convention." I am the seventh for "hedyblog," a blog which I read and link to. I hope she is rated higher than me for her own blog name.

Absolutely inexplicable is my seventh place rank for "giban khalil."

As an unrelated aside, I still can't figure out why the Blogger spellcheck can't spell Google.

Stories That Should Be Remembered

I read a post on an online friend's blog yesterday.

He quoted from a college professor railing against military veterans in her class, accusing them of wanting to get a degree so as to earn more money killing, raping and looting, using the tools their "masters" had given them in the military.

This is a link to the article: soldiers in her classroom. Referring to them, she said:

"The American military and mercenary soldiers who 'sacrificed' their lives did not do so for the teacher’s freedom to teach the truth about the so-called war on terror, or any of US history for that matter. They sacrificed their lives, limbs and sanity for money, some education and the thrills of the violence for which they are socially bred. Sacrificing for the 'bling and booty' in Iraq or Afghanistan, The Philippines, Grenada, Central America, Mexico, Somalia, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the other numerous wars and invasions spanning US history as an entity and beginning with their foundational practice of killing the Indians and stealing their land."

You might notice that she didn't mention The Revolutionary War, WW I or WW II. They don't fit as neatly in to her thesis.

I think soldiers, sailors, and marines are not as arrogant, or as stupid as the good Doctor makes them out to be. I certainly don't think most of them "are parroting their master’s slogans" as she accuses them of doing. Kids, for good or bad, going to war (be it back when I was one of them and could avoid doing it because I had a "4-D" deferment and avoided it, or when one of my high school friends, who had no way out, went in, and died as a result, back in one of the wars the Doctor mentioned, Vietnam), or today, for the most part don't go in, or come out, brainwashed as the Doctor implies, without any analysis, as killers. She, in my mind is arrogant and mindless to assume that having gotten out of the military, their only purpose is to get a piece of paper that allows them to make more money doing what she, without any evidence accuses them of having done, more mindless killing.

I am not defending a soldier who commits an atrocity, as I would not defend the kid in Utah who mowed down some people in a mall last week. I am defending our other soldiers, sailors and marines. While I don't like what old people like me like to use them for sometimes, attacking them because they served is plain wrong.

One of my brothers was a Marine from '72 to '76, during the Vietnam era.

He went in for the most part because of a stupid old man and his own youthful machismo. He and a friend were out in some woods that were part of a state forest. It was winter and it was cold, they slipped a lock on a cabin and went in. A Department of Natural Resources Ranger came by and arrested them. The stupid old man, a judge, told them they could spend some time in a youth facility, or they could join the military that spring when they graduated high school. Stupid kids that they were, they did the stupid old judge one better. They weren't going to be wimpy soldiers or sailors, they'd be Marines.

My brother was lucky, as he tested through the roof on the entrance exams. They put him in, I think it is called, the "Air Wing." He worked on the avionic systems of A6 and A5 Marine jets that flew off Navy aircraft carriers near the Philippines and Japan.

He left after four years, at the time, the youngest peace time Sergeant in the history of the Marine Corps. He went to school and built upon what his "masters" had taught him. Not the killing part, the avionics part.

When my Mom died, we were sitting in her house going through stuff to be distributed. One of the things sitting in one of the boxes was my brother's commendation for having jumped into a burning jet to "save" the pilot.

I only knew about it because he and I got drunk together one night in the late Seventies. He told me about it, saying it was the worst thing he had ever done because the pilot died the next day as the result of his stupid reaction. Had he let him die in the cockpit, the pilot would have passed sooner and less painfully. My conclusion about his action was a bit different. I don't know if his "masters" made him a hero or if he brought the character trait with him to the job.

In my mother's living room, holding the leather folder holding its fine-paper commendation, I asked my two nieces, his daughters, if they knew that their father was a hero. Looks can't kill. Violent head shakings didn't deter me because unless I told them, they would never know.

I told them something of the story without the parts about charred flesh.

My brother is a hotshot with an aerospace company. As near as I can tell, if no one else in the world can figure out what's wrong with an airplanes' distance measuring equipment, he fixes it. His daughters have half of their genes from him. He might have never settled down, excelled and married his kid's mom, built a good and honorable life with his wife and spent way too much money educating their kids, unless "his masters" gave him the tools to be what he always was.

The good Doctor does my brother and hundreds of thousands of other veterans wrong by her vicious screed. More, she does her students wrong by not teaching them to think critically, rather, encouraging them to criticize and hate without reason.

I hope my brother doesn't find his way to this post. Heros aren't comfortable with attention.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fermi, Don't Read This Post

Back in 2000, as the story goes, a group of MIT students put together a hoax website that has resurfaced over the years. Here's a current version. Don't click this Fermi. http://www.shorty.com/bonsaikitten/

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pled - Right. Pleaded - Wrong. Says I.

Before I was a lawyer, I said, and I thought most people said, "he pled guilty." Lawyers say pled, when speaking or writing in the past tense. For the past few years, if you hear about a plea, present tense, on TV or on radio, or read about a plea in a newspaper or magazine, he or she pleaded. I don't like it. It doesn't sound or read right.

http://www.cjr.org/tools/lc/pleadguilty.asp says I'm wrong, with some sympathy. Blogger spell check wants to substitute plead for pled, having no sense of tense. It has no problem with pleaded.

Answer.com says "v., plead·ed or pled (plĕd)." Something called die.net disagrees with me. Worldwebonline.com puts pled before pleaded for usage.

I say I'm right. You be the judge, legally or stylistically.

Newly Recommended

I've added a few blogs to the list on the right side of the page.

Blognonomous is written by Kvatch. Mostly topical stuff. Skews to the left. Well written.

Crush Liberalism by Jonathon, guess what, skews the other way. Again, well written.

Dr. Blogstein is witty, irreverent, topical. He has his own internet radio show.

thomaslb writes Living Next Door To Alice. Labels don't work for him. A gentle soul.

More Very Unimportant Stuff by a Canadian rancher/farmer turned Texan. You'll like his take on life as he finds it.

The Average White Guy, Jim, is just what he says. Steeler fan.

The origninal blogs in the list are as good as ever. Check them all out.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

DHL Denouement

In our last episode DHL was making a heroic effort to find and deliver the package.

Yesterday, I got an Email from Sharon in "Key Accounts" responding to an Email I sent last Friday. She asked me to reply if the package wasn't delivered yesterday.

It was not and I told her so.

Today, just before 11:00 a.m. the wayward package arrived. It had a bright red sticker that said "Bldg.1." The box was a bit mangled and looked to have been opened. The packing list that the box said was inside was not there. The wireless router was. I think I'll leave well enough alone.

Monday, February 12, 2007

DHL Update

Got a voice mail this morning from DHL. "From what I understand, there's no suite, just Building 1. We'll try to get this out to you this afternoon. If not then, tomorrow."

This is progress of a sort. After only a week, DHL now actually calls when they say they will; and, they've acknowledged they don't need a suite number. They read the previous post and they're toying with me, aren't they?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"This Is Not Indicative Of DHL's Service"

For those not interested in reading about bad delivery service, move right along; but, do come back.

Since Tuesday DHL has had a package for me, somewhere in Atlanta.

On Wednesday, using the tracking number, I learned that they had “attempted delivery” at about noon on Tuesday. I thought that to be strange since I was at my office at that time.

I called them and learned that the “attempted delivery” translated into they had Building B instead of Building 1 on the label; they had mis-copied it from the bill of lading. I corrected their mistake and the representative told me I would be called within an hour to advise whether the package would be delivered yet that day, or on Thursday.

No call.

No delivery on Wednesday.

No delivery on Thursday.

Friday morning, I called and the representative advised that in addition to the Building number (they still showed B), they needed a suite number. The fact that no one had called to ask for a suite number since Wednesday aside, I have no suite number. There is a building. It has a door. When you walk in you are in my office. I told the representative this. She said someone would call to tell me whether the package would come Friday afternoon or on Monday. Sound familiar?

I wrote an Email to DHL setting out all of the above information. I got a fairly quick reply which apologized and told me that “this is not indicative of DHL’s service,” (no it wasn’t, it was soon to get worse) but that the “local station” has advised that it needed a suite number.

I replied to the Email, again advising that there was no suite number; just come to the building, someone will be there to take the package.

No call during office hours on Friday.

This morning I went into the office and got a voice mail left Friday evening telling me the package would not be delivered on Friday (duh) and that I had to call them to give them a suite number so that it could be delivered on Monday.

I called and repeated all of the above and the representative said someone would call me in the morning to confirm delivery. None of the above was recorded on his tracking screen. I told him not to have someone call, just deliver the package. He said it would get done and he would call anyway. I told him my money was against him but that I wished him well.

When they call tomorrow I’m going to tell them I’m in suite 2525, it has a ring to it, and who knows, maybe then they will “attempt delivery.”

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Vista Report

A few days ago I posted that I didn't know whether to "turn off" Vista and run it as XP until the bugs are found over the next few months.

I decided to run Vista. There are a few issues, mostly with compatibility with vendor programs and older software that I have tried to install. The best news, it talks to Office 2000 from my old dead laptop, so I don't have to spend money on Office 2007.

It won't talk to MGI Photosuite II, admittedly, a program that is seven or eight years old.

At first, it would not install AVG anti-virus, but this morning it relented and AVG is operational.

ZoneAlarm firewall isn't compatible. An annoying aspect of trying to install it; Vista doesn't tell you it is not compatible until after the download and installation.

Canon does not offer Vista drivers for my digital camera (four years old) or my photo printer (three years old) and advises that it isn't going to. Hopefully, I can find a driver in the Windows driver wizard that will work. If not, after decades of Canon use, I am shut of them.

As to Microsoft's "WOW" campaign for Vista, if you have installed the latest Internet Explorer (7?) and SP II, you have most of what Vista is. Graphics are a bit different. Search in Vista is light years ahead of XP. It is fast.

Finally, I think I have found an actual bug. Whether I am connecting through the LAN at the office or by WiFi at home, IE occasionally shunts me to "working offline." No problem with getting back on once I found out where the drop down for offline is; but, annoying anyway.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Whither Global Warming

First disclosure of my lack of credentials to write this post:

1. I got a D- - in High School Advanced Algebra. I used to get points for correctly copying the equation or whatever its called on my answer sheet. What I took from this class: It helps your grade when the Varsity wrestling coach is also a co-assistant football coach with the Algebra teacher and explains the consequences of a failing grade to the prospects of the wrestling team.

2. I got a C in college Trig by promising the professor that I would would not be taking any more math courses. What remains with me from this course: it has something to do with circles and uses the words sign (sine?) co- one or the other spelling, tangent, cotangent and some others.

3. I got a C+ in freshman Biology having averaged a 2.98 on the assignments, quizes, tests and the final. Though unlike me, I lobbied the professor for a B and he pointed out that 2.98 is less than 3.0; thus, a B requiring a 3.0, is not obtained by a lesser number. What remains with me from this course: Science is a cruel mistress.

4. I got an A in "Dummy Physics" having somehow dodged having to take Chemistry (an aside, scoring in the 99th percentile in math/science on the then prevalent ACT is not an indicator of ability at anything other than being able to narrow down to the correct answer when provided with four alternatives, though it may be an indicator of guessing ability). I digress. I took from this course that molecules are little, grumpy, smelly men. They don't like each other and only get close together when it's cold. When it gets hot, they smell even worse and retreat from each other. Scientific conclusion: matter shrinks when cold and expands when hot, though this does not seem to fully square with the Big Bang Theory. They probably cover that in the next class.

So, take the rest of this with a grain of salt:

A hot topic of the media, talk-show hosts and my friends is whether Global Warming is contributed to by us - humans. Even President Bush is getting in on the talk by mentioning it in his State of the Union Address (though he may have needed a minute of speech and not wanted to talk about Iraq).

So, here's my considered opinion (re-read points 1 -4 above before you jump on the bandwagon):

1. Man-made emissions, whether or not they increase global warming, aren't a good thing. Where we can, it is a good idea to reduce or eliminate them.

2. Reliance on fossil fuels is a bad thing. Those with control of them recently, Iran, warring Iraq, Saudi Arabia and crazy Chavez, leverage income from them to gain political influence and power, internally and internationally; and, if we become dependant enough on oil, they will have more control over our economy and security.

3. For the most part, we will not move to alternative energy sources until driven by economic factors. But in the short term, mandating, not cajoling for, mandating minimum gas mileage, across the board, of 30 or 35 mpg, should cost little and will reduce emissions and use of oil. Reduction in oil consumption by the U.S. to any significant degree will lower oil prices. Lower oil prices mean less power held by the aforementioned.

Seems like a good idea to me, notwithstanding my math/science challenged reasoning power.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Completely Heterosexual"

The Associated Press has reported that, one of four ministers, Rev. Tim Ralph, who for three weeks intensively counseled Ted Haggard, says that he is convinced that Rev. Haggard is "completely heterosexual." Rev. Haggard's dalliance with a former gay prostitute was, according to the counseling minister, the result of "an acting out situation.... it wasn't a constant thing."

These four guys have a fall back career if they ever lose their preacher gigs. They are good.

New Phone Company Update - One For Six

If you haven't read the previous post, read it first.

Now, though admittedly unscientific, I judge the new AT&T to be something less than 20% good in terms of the employees I encountered in the fiasco described in the previous post.

At about noon today after not getting the call promised by nice rep number five, I again called tech/repair. The nice lady (number 6) did all the robot talk her predecessors did. As I described the problem, I told her that I punched in my PIN, "xbyd." She said NO, that isn't your PIN, its "xycm." Said I, I got my pin from my monthly statement. She replied, doesn't matter, your PIN is "xbyd."

We proceeded to test her theory. She hung up, though I was reluctant to let her before getting her solemn promise to call me if her resetting didn't work and before I gave her five different ways to find me, if it failed. We hung up without wishing each other to have a nice day.

A minute later my office phone rang. I picked it up and told the caller "I love you." She giggled. We talked a bit. She said "woo who," if that's the way it's spelled, at one point. She wished me a great week.

So, why didn't five New AT&T employees ask me what PIN I was using? Why did my statement give me the wrong PIN? Why did the recording at the remote forwarding number loop instead of saying "you gave me the wrong &&^^% PIN, you idiot?" All of these questions are mysteries to me, after literally hours of searching for enlightenment on the phone. I am going to finish this post and go surfing for a zen website.

The New Phone Company

Though I don't know if I've been dealing with AT&T, SBC or Bellsouth employees, I am not happy with the current company.

I have Bellsouth everything. Last Friday I went into a Cingular store to get info about getting an internet card for my new laptop. Cingular has such a card and after rebate it is only $55.00 with $59.00 a month for service (not bad considering the versatility). I know that sounds ok. The bad part is that the card doesn't fit the laptop. Cingular won't have a card that fits the laptop for two or three months. Dell has the card on its website. Dell wants $299.00 for said card. (An aside. I just used spellcheck. Did you know that Google doesn't know how to spell internet?)

Back to my ire. (It can spell ire.) While there, I was introduced to a Bellsouth rep who advised me how to save some money on my bundled bill. Stupid me. I agreed.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I got an Email from an engineer that had tried to call me six times that morning, getting a busy signal and no voicemail (my home phone is forwarded to my office). I used my cell to call my home phone and confirmed the busy and no voicemail.

I called the 800 number for technical/repair issues. After punching in my phone number four or five times and sitting on hold being told repeatedly that I could pay my bill online for about fifteen minutes, I got a person, who,after asking me how she could provide excellent service and after four or five minutes told me that I didn't have call forwarding service. The proverbial light bulb illuminated and I said that I had changed my plan last Friday to save some money at the behest of the Bellsouth rep. The nice repair lady said, yes that is when your forwarding was cancelled.

No longer having a technical/repair problem, I was transferred to customer service to have forwarding restored. The nice lady asked me how she could provide excellent service and said she was quite sorry after I had explained the problem. She told me forwarding would be restored by 3:00 p.m. She also tried to sell me faster DSL which I declined politely. We wished each other a nice day.

Between 3 and 7:00 p.m. I tried to forward calls a bunch of times. Each time I called the nice female voice told me to punch in my phone number, which I did. The nice voice then read me back my phone number and told me that if she had repeated it correctly, I should punch in my PIN, which I did. The nice voice came back on and told me to punch in my phone number. I went through this loop three times and concluded that I wasn't getting anywhere.

I called a nice man with customer service who after the obligatory phone hell hold, yeah, asked me how he could provide excellent service. After I explained my problem he told me that restoration was scheduled for February 8, day after tomorrow. He politely interrupted my admittedly strident response and told me to hold on while he tried to get the schedule overridden. After about twenty minutes he advised that forwarding would be restored by midnight. I made him promise twice. We wished each other a good evening.

This morning I called the mobile forwarding phone number and got the now familiar loop.

I called another nice customer service lady (how can I...) who told me service was scheduled to be restored on the eighth. I didn't let her interupt my strident speech reciting what you have just read above. She expressed her dismay that those other nice reps would tell me things that were't true. When I asked for someone who could do something, she said she would transfer me but that the answer would be the same. After some more back and forth for some reason she decided she could indeed override the scheduling order. She told me she had. I called the remote number and got the loop. I did it again with the cell on speaker so she could hear the loop. She went back to someone else and confirmed to me that service had been restored. She told me that this was now a technical/repair issue (see paragraph 5, above) and got Sue on the line from that department. I made her promise that Sue would take good care of me, the three of us chuckled and Sue and I went through the loop scenario twice with me doing the number punching and once with Sue at the controls. Sue told me that she would refer this to "Central" and I had a flashback to women sitting at a long switchboard with spagetti wires everywhere. She told me that Central would call me back with the results in a few minutes on my cell phone. It's about two hours later. I do not have call forwarding and Central is MIA.

I am depressed. I hope you have a nice day.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Superbowl Commercials

They sucked.

Budweiser won by default.

CocaCola should have saved its money.

Is it telling that I can't remember much more about the commercials?

Does the fact that approaching maybe forty percent of the commercials were for CBS shows mean that the bloom is off the rose and $2.6 million for a commercial is too much?

Friday, February 02, 2007

XP? Vista?

My home/travel laptop crapped out early last fall.

I started looking for a replacement and finally ordered a Dell laptop on 01/30, the first day of "consumer Vista." Stupid me, because I had settled on what I wanted the day before which would have come with XP and a free upgrade to Vista.

I am told that I can "turn off" Vista, in effect running the machine on XP, and then restore it in a few months when the bugs are mostly squashed.

My quandary, do I turn it off; or, do I use it at the risk of being inconvenienced and pissed by the bugs?

My question, are any of you running Vista, and if so, what are your thoughts?