Posts Tagged ‘rant’

Microsoft Soda

Posted: December 10, 2008 in Uncategorized

Hey, FedEx!

Please fire the idiot that decided to drop the Kinko’s brand name!  (And, yes, I know they announced this in June — I just figured they’d have come to their senses by now.  After visiting my local FedEx shipping office today, I discovered they haven’t.)

This is one of the most boneheaded moves I’ve heard in years.  This is akin to Hershey’s buying Coca-Cola and changing the name to "Hershey’s Cola".  Sure, Hershey’s has name recognition — but NOT FOR SODA!  Hershey’s isn’t that stupid; they’d keep the world-renowned Coke brand name. 

(Microsoft, on the other hand, would probably change the brand to Microsoft Soda, but that’s another post.  Although I have to confess I’m intrigued by the whole idea of fine print on the soda can stating that the contents cannot be guaranteed to be non-poisonous, or even the contents as specified on the label or, for that matter, that there are contents at all!)

Wait a minute!  It was all for the stock pricing, right?  Let’s see how that went.  After the announcement on June 2, FedEx stock closed a shade over 90.  Today the stock closed just over 60.  How’s that?  Isn’t that a 33% loss in value?  Isn’t that the wrong direction? 

At what point do you say, "Hey, we screwed up; do over?" 

Kinko’s is one of the few examples of a second-generation genericized trademark, one that replaced the original genericized trademark (Xerox in this case — boomers tend to refer to a photocopy as a "xerox" copy; younger people refer to "Kinko’ing it."  Eli Stone‘s episode this week even referred to "Kinko’s" copies — 5 months after FedEx dropped it!).

I, for one, plan to avoid FedEx Office locations for copies, and I’m seriously thinking of dropping FedEx for shipping, because I can’t count on their judgment any more.

Yeah, I’m pissy like that.  But I’ll be all right in a minute, after I finish my Microsoft Soda cola-flavored beverage.


Lazy Shoppers

Posted: December 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

I’m really getting tired of the lazy shoppers at the grocery that leave their empty carts within 20 feet of a cart return.

Look at me, lazybones.  Do I look young and athletic to you?  Unless you’re parked in the handicap spot, chances are you’re healthy enough to wheel the empty cart 20 feet more to the return, considering you probably just wheeled it fully loaded about 100 feet to get to your car.  I know I am healthy enough, and if a fat old geezer like me can do, so can you.  So do it already, and don’t give me any excuses!

First of all, let me say that I am not a Microsoft basher.  In fact, little irks me more than someone who swears by one specific operating system, despite its faults (and they all have faults, believe me) and condemns the ones he doesn’t actually use — there’s a word for it: hypocrisy.  (The same attitude can be observed in politics and religion, but I’m not getting into that now.)


This thing with Microsoft automatic updates automatically rebooting my system (which typically happens when large update packs are released on Tuesdays, a practice which has earned the moniker Update Tuesday) is just plain stupid.  You want me to reboot after applying the updates, sure, let me know.  But if my computer has been idle for the last several hours (because the updates are scheduled at 2:00 am, when I’m not likely to be using my computer) and there are several programs currently running, then perhaps … just maybe … I actually wanted them still to be up and running when I bring my computer out of hibernation!  How hard can it be just to leave the “you need to reboot” message on the screen until I decide to do something about it?  I’m not a baby.

To add insult to injury, immediately after the reboot, my computer informs me there are new updates to apply.  Say what now?  Why weren’t they applied along with the must-reboot-and-lose-all-my-work updates?  Oh, right, maybe they new updates were dependent on the previous updates, or weren’t needed until the first set was applied or something.  Nope, it was a single update: the monthly Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool update.  Get real.  That certainly could have been bundled with the hey-let’s-screw-up-Outlook-while-we’re-at-it-since-you-left-it-running-when-you-should-have-known-we-were-going-to-force-auto-restart-your-system-for-you-without-even-so-much-as-a-howdy-do-because-we-know-from-your-auto-update-schedule-that-you’ll-be-asleep-at-the-time-we-give-you-a-generous-five-minute-window-to-reject-the-reboot-but-you-shouldn’t-reboot-with-Outlook-open-because-it-will-mess-up-your-files update.

This is exactly the kind of Big Brother tactics that makes for a poor user experience and fuels the aforementioned Microsoft bashing.  Redmond, are you listening?  Your user experience team is falling down on the job.  I could work out a better experience single-handedly.  Heck, I’d even be willing to prove it … on your payroll, of course, not pro bono.  Let me know when you’re ready to make a deal.

Until then, Microsoft, you should be aware that I’m hedging my bets with other OSes.

Oh, yeah, one last thing, Redmond:  That cool radial menu thing y’all are touting for the next version of Windows?  I saw the same thing on the Linux on the $200 One Laptop Per Child.  And the OLPC has a built-in wireless repeater, so you can daisy-chain wireless connections across the Serengeti.  (More on that another time.)

EZ-Web-Hosting in league with Satan!

Posted: August 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

I’ve just discovered that our previous web hoster,, is clearly in league with Satan!

I’ve been with these guys since 2004, recently decided to change to another hoster (the details aren’t important), and requested cancellation. Now, I paid the first year for an annual plan, which they dutifully renew (even though my credit card expiration date had passed!) every May as another annual. Since I cancelled mid-year, I expected a pro-rata refund of the unused months. Following is the exchange (Grrrrrr!). Note that I am most definitely NOT recommending them for your hosting needs!

19-Aug-2007: Dan:
Requested cancellation on 26-Aug-2007 via their online form (the only way they accept it). I don’t have the exact text, but suffice it say there was no response. 

27-Aug-2007: Dan:
I submitted a cancellation form on Aug 19, 2007, for cancellation Aug 26, 2007, but I have not yet received any confirmation, and my account is still active! What’s going on? Please cancel my account and note my refund request. Note also that the original email when I opened this account was, but that email is no longer active.

28-Aug-2007: EZWeb: 
Your cancellation request has been received. Your account is scheduled to cancel at it’s next renewal date of 4/30/08.

We only offer a 30 day money back guarantee. Since you have past your 30 day trial period your account will remain active for the time you have prepaid. If you would like to cancel the account now, we can, however, no refunds will be issued.

Please advise.

If you have any questions please let us know.

Thank you,
Ez Web Hosting Inc.

30-Aug-2007: Dan:
Can you show me exactly the policy in EZ-Web-Hosting’s Terms of Service concerning refunds on prepaid plans? I don’t recall seeing one when I signed up for this plan (only for monthly), nor have I been sent a change of policy. The only written policy I can find in the currently-posted Terms of Service is the 30-day cancellation policy after initial activation, which doesn’t apply to renewals.

In the absence of a specific policy, EZ-Web-Hosting is legally obligated to refund a pro-rata portion of the plan, as if it were paid monthly and cancelled, in order to avoid breach of contract. Otherwise, EZ-Web-Hosting is continuing to take money for services it isn’t providing, which is actionable fraudulent activity and will be reported to the appropriate authorities. As I’ve requested cancellation as of the current date, whether or not EZ-Web-Hosting chooses to keep my account active on the servers is irrelevant, contractually.

Legal aspects aside, frankly, I’m surprised at this attitude, which is in direct contravention to providing a pleasant customer-focused experience. Instead, it indicates a “fleece-them-while-we-can” attitude, which certainly doesn’t entice me to recommend EZ-Web-Hosting to my friends and clients. Rest assured I will inform my client list (some of whom are current EZ-Web-Hosting clients) about this exchange, so that they may make better-informed decisions concerning their hosting needs.

I expect a pro-rata refund for September, 2007, through April, 2008, to be issued within 30 days. In the meantime, I have begun an inquiry with my credit card issuer.

Daniel M. Hoyt

31-Aug-2007: EZWeb:

I am sorry you feel the way you do about our services. Refunds are issued on the first 30 days of sign up or within your renewal period. Your cancellation request was received past your 30 day renewal. Your account is active and will remain active until your next renewal date as stated above. You have paid for services and will receive services until your contract is up. If you use the services we provide is up to you.

If you have any questions please let us know.

Thank you,
Ez Web Hosting Inc.

31-Aug-2007: Dan:
Billing to my EXPIRED credit card without my express consent, which EZ-Web-Hosting been doing since 2005, is still fraud. I’m willing to overlook it if I receive a pro-rata refund for Sep 2007-Apr 2008 in the next 30 days. Otherwise, I WILL report EZ-Web-Hosting to the FBI. 

The Family Penalty

Posted: June 3, 2007 in Uncategorized

You’ve all heard about the “marriage penalty” of income taxes, right? Well, I’m getting tired of paying a “family penalty” for technology devices.

I’ve spent the better part of the last two days researching a replacement PDA for my now-dead Visor Prism. I got the thing several years ago from a friend who was upgrading, and it’s been a pretty reliable machine. But it just went belly up about a month ago, and I decided it was time to replace it.

As some of you know from Sarah’s blog, my youngest son just came off an absolutely horrendous year at school, and we’ve been advised by multiple professionals to homeschool him from here on out. The schools have had a no-PDA rule for a while — I think it stems from the fact that so many phones these days come with cameras, text messaging and basic PIM functionality, and they certainly can’t allow cameras, phones or IM’ing during tests, so they just disallow everything. Fine. But for homeschooling, it’s not an issue, and I figured a PDA would be extremely helpful towards getting this kid organized — which he needs desperately.

In the schools, they’ve been “teaching” (and I use the term very loosely) the kids to use a paper organizer. For a tech guy like me, that’s just barbaric. Don’t get me wrong; I used to use a paper organizer myself. Then I got a PDA — an old TI Avigo, to be exact, which my older son currently uses. I didn’t so much transition to the electronic organizer as leap: I stopped using the paper organizer the very day I started using the Avigo. But the schools, in their quest to prevent wholesale cheating, don’t allow the electronic organizers. (I’m not blaming them for this policy, BTW, just suggesting that it’s interpreted a bit too broadly; I mean, if they allow calculators, how can a basic PDA be a problem?)

So I figured if I need to get two PDAs (for me and my youngest), maybe I should just get us all new PDAs. Robert hasn’t been able to synch his Avigo since I got him a new PC and discovered that the old DB9 serial ports have all but disappeared from mainstream computing. Same problem with Sarah’s Palm III since we replaced her laptop a couple years ago.

But the PDAs seem to have disappeared from the stores. I found actual models in Office Depot, but that’s it. CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City — no more PDAs in the showrooms. They’ve migrated into cell phones — smartphones, to be sure — which use carpal-tunnel-inducing Blackberry-inspired keypads. For a number of reasons, starting with the initial price and ongoing monthly cost of a cell phone plan, I don’t want to get four new smartphones just to get electronic PDAs.

So what do I do? Get older models or stripped-down models, basically. Uh huh. Everybody’s marketing copy talks about how affordable their products are, but I don’t consider $200-$300 for a reasonably-featured PDA “affordable” — the 2006 median income was $43200, so a $250 PDA is a shade under 1% of after-tax income, and more like 5-10% of that family’s disposable income. That’s not affordable. And it’s obscenely expensive when you need to buy four.

So, that means that if I want to get a technology product at a reasonable price, I have to wait for it to go on sale and/or offer a rebate. What I’ve seen over the course of several years is that retail stores often change their “normal” price so that their discounted “sale” price is actually close to the same as what the “normal” price was before the sale, so sales are only really sales maybe 3-4 times a year. Rebates, on the other hand, happen far more frequently, probably because they’re often offered by the manufacturers. Frequently enough, BTW, to make me wonder if the MSRP is maybe just a bit inflated to account for frequent rebates they’ll inevitably offer.

Unfortunately, rebates are usually limited to “one per person, per address, per household.” And that’s where I’m getting penalized unfairly. If I were single, I’d get that technology product at a reasonable price (i.e. after the rebate). But since I’m part of family, I need four, not one. If we were separate customers at different addresses — such as my father, my sister and I are, now that we all have separate households — we would all get that product at a reasonable price. But if I, as one customer, want to get multiples of that same product, I only get one at a reasonable price — I have to pay the full, inflated price for the others.

That‘s a family penalty.

And I’m tired of paying it. Do you hear me, technology manufacturers? Families are absolutely crucial to your business, so why do you penalize us? Do you seriously think 9-year-olds with cell phones will result in anything other than the next generation of adults considering the future equivalent of cell phones to be indispensable? Of course not! That’s why you market to the 9-year-olds.

We’re not stupid, here, so don’t give me the “Why not buy refurbished?” speech. Do you know how hard it is to find a reputable company that will sell you a refurbished product that actually includes all the accessories that are needed? All the companies I’ve found in the last two days have some serious customer service issues, especially relating to returns when they (often) ship the wrong or not working product. In the end, I might save 25%, but take on the significant risk that the vendor’s sales practices are underhanded. That’s not worth a 25% savings.

And why should the answer be to buy refurbished, anyway, just because I want to buy in bulk. I’m not good enough because I have a need for more? That’s just crazy. In most other businesses, I can get a price break by buying in bulk. Why not in technology?

The answer here is to stop treating families like second-class citizens, but I don’t see that happening. Here’s what I do see happening, though: I’m just not going to buy new PDAs. My oldest son already uses a calendar/todo program on his PC; I’ll just do the same, and so will the rest of my family. We’ll pitch the PDAs. Why not? The manufacturers are dumping them anyway.

Hey, PalmOne! Was that what you wanted?

Damn @#% Linux Store!

Posted: March 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

I mentioned Damn Small Linux a month back. Here’s my update. It isn’t pleasant.

On February 22, I decided to go with one the small, solid-state boxes in the Damn Small Store. So I ordered it. That night, I had trouble sleeping. I was buying a 1GHz machine and putting 1GB of RAM into it so I could use it as a file server??? What was I thinking? Talk about overkill. The geek in me protested.

Since I knew the guy running the DSS only checks mail once or twice a week, I decided to change my order and scale it back to a 533MHz machine with 256MB of RAM. Should cost me about $100 less, too. I contacted the owner via email and started a dialog that continued over the next 10 days, with 2-3 day lag time between messages (because he only does mail once or twice a week).

I got tired of this, quieted my inner geek and told the DSS guy on March 1 to just go ahead with the original order. The way I figured it, I would save myself maybe $100 in the long run, and this was waaay too much hassle for $100. I told my inner geek to prepare me a 10-point bulleted list on why Linux is better than Vista. That got him out of the way handily.

After twelve days (the DSS website says 1-2 weeks), I still hadn’t received the unit and got ansy. I sent Mr. DSS a polite email requesting a tracking number. No response for four days. I sent another polite email pointing out that it had been over two weeks; when would the unit ship?

This time, I got a response the next day, saying that he was waiting on parts that had just arrived, and the unit should ship out at the end of the weekend. Another eleven days, and no unit, no tracking number, no nothing.

Enough’s enough.  I’m a patient guy.  But this has gone on long enough.  So a couple days ago, I sent him a nastemail pointing out that it’s been almost a month since we agreed on the order and I demand either a refund or my tracking information by today.  Failing that, I’m prepared to take it up with both PayPal and my credit card company.

I still haven’t heard from Mr. DSS.  Anyone surprised?

Drug Free

Posted: March 18, 2007 in Uncategorized

Quick, what’s the past tense of “drag”?

Did you say “drug”?


Wrong.  That would be “dragged.”

Please don’t give in to drugs!