Monday, January 31, 2011

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8530 (Virgin Mobile) USED extras - eBay (item 290529390365 end time Feb-07-11 09:37:48 PST)

I need to find a new home to my trusty Blackberry Curve 8530 (Virgin Mobile). I am throwing in about $20 worth of extra accessories with it. Bidding starts at $50, buy it now for $120, free shipping. Proceeds go to Pedro's Samsung Intercept Purchase Offset Memorial Fund (read: I bought a new phone and I need to sell the old one).

The auction:

RIM BlackBerry Curve 8530 (Virgin Mobile) USED extras - eBay (item 290529390365 end time Feb-07-11 09:37:48 PST)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Open Letter to the PayPal folks responsible for API security and that kind of thing

Warning: This is a technically oriented rant. It has nothing to do with the money side of PayPal. It is simply about things that shouldn't happen the way they currently do.

Dear Geeks That Work for PayPal:

I don't know if you people are lazy, or stupid, or simply use cost benefit analysis before you fix the stupidest dumbest fucking things that plague your platform. Somebody came up with an amazing idea: let's add two-factor authentication, and the sonofabitch works just right. I have used your two-factor mechanism with SMS on no less than two carriers, and the VIP token application in iPhone, Blackberry and Android and they all do the job perfectly.

The problem is that you have external apps that rely on authenticating with PayPal, and these apps can't handle the two-factor authentication.

The first this happened it was with the older version of Blackberry App Word. I assumed that this was the BBAW programmers not implementing the mechanism correctly. It is so fucking stupid that you are expected to open the login window from BBAW, type your password, then switch to the VIP app to get a token, then switch back, append that to the end of the password, and manage to send the login request before the token expires (tokens last 30 seconds).

Good luck with that. Eventually some kind soul at RIM decided to allow other payment methods, which meant I was able to purchase my first BBAW app many months after I had owned a Blackberry device. Dumbasses.

That was a long time ago. But tonight it happened to me again, the same exact fucking thing, and this time it happened with an app PROVIDED BY PAYPAL. How the fuck am I expected to believe that PayPal can't have proper two-factor authentication on their own Android app without resorting to appending the fucking token to the end of the fucking password? Are we expected to believe that the people that built this Android app were not given access to the people that write and maintain the API that handles these requests? What the fuck happened here?

Worse, can't the fucking PayPal app for Android detect that VIP is installed and read the fucking token from it? How hard can this be? I imagine there's no reason that this can't work in iPhone and Blackberry devices too.

I have been using an Android phone for a little over 24 hours, and I already noticed that apps can easily trigger dependency downloads if not present. When I installed Barcode Scanner it told me I needed Google Shopper. One click and  I was presented with the install page for Google Shopper. Two clicks and I was done. I didn't even need to restart the application, it KNEW that the dependency had been met. If something as mundane as a barcode scanner can figure out this kind of thing, how come a huge company like PayPal can't do something similar?

Hell, PayPal allows automated messaging. If your phone is registered it will take commands. Can't this app trigger an SMS request to send a token if the phone is authorized?

You Can Soon Save Your PS3 Games In Thin Air

You Can Soon Save Your PS3 Games In Thin Air
Cloud storage means that, rather than just keeping your save game data on your PlayStation 3's hard drive, users will be given the option to upload their saves remotely to a server. The advantage of this is that not only does it save the user space on their hard drive, but since it's tied to a PlayStation Network account, it can be pulled down to different consoles whenever and wherever the user desires.
A couple updates from now Sony will announce that multiplayer-enabled gaming must rely on this cloud mechanism, which is the beginning of the end for any efforts to exploit the firmware. A couple updates after that, all games will at the very least dump a digital signature of save files to this cloud, so good luck trying to edit a save game.

This is not about right or wrong, it just bothers me that none of the news outlets reporting on this is trying to extrapolate what this kind of mechanism means beyond the obvious insurance against the console dying. You wouldn't even need the whole save file in order to perform this kind of control, all that has to happen is for the game itself to generate a signature for each save file and send it to Sony's cloud. Try to run a saved game with a signature that doesn't match (which means the saved game was not generated by a trusted app) and the game won't work online. And you would not be able to fake the signatures.

At least that's how I would do it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Goodbye Blackberry 8530, hello Samsung Intercept (both Virgin Mobile USA)

Got the phone switching bug again, and this time I am going to try to see if I can live with an Android phone. According to Virgin Mobile, they will be upgrading their Samsung Intercept to 2.2 froyo sometime in Spring, since I am completely new to Android I am not too worried about it yet. And no, I am not interested in a jailbreak.

The dots are used for the unlock pattern, which after very little time becomes instinctive, much easier than having to remember a password. 

The new phone is slightly longer and narrower than my Blackberry 8530. The back cover is as flimsy. 

The Samsung Intercept is of course thicker since it has a slide-out keyboard. 

I haven't measured them, but the new keyboard feels at least twice as wide as the one in the Blackberry. The only problem is that due to the USB port being on the top of the phone, and I am a lefty, it is really damn hard for me to type if I am charging the phone. I imagine right handed people have the same kind of trouble with a slider phone that has the USB plug in the bottom of the phone. I didn't clean the screen of the Samsung on purpose to demonstrate how it is as horrible as the iPhone when it comes to attracting smudges. 

This is one of those stupid things that somehow aren't standard in every damn cell phone: a tiny mirror under the lens, designed to help people take self portraits.
This is a test shot from the Samsung Intercept. I didn't make any effort at controlling the light, all I did was hold it still. The phone ships set to center spot metering, this shot was taken with matrix metering which came out more naturally, the white balance was shockingly better than what my Sony DSC-TX7 was doing in the same light. 
So far so good. I have managed to freeze mine once, Ivette's has run trouble free since activation. Both phones took about 5-10 minutes to complete activation since we are already Virgin Mobile customers. It took maybe another 20 minutes per phone to turn on the calendar and address book sync with Gmail, which so far has worked perfectly. Most of the apps I tried (and I lost a bet by doing this, since dev_null insisted there was no way in hell I would install less than 10 apps, I ended up installing 11!) work pretty much the same as their iPhone and Blackberry counterparts. Scanning QR codes is A LOT nicer than my experience so far with the Blackberry. Barcode Scanner + Google Shopper is a killer combo.

Battery sucks, which is to be expected since I had every bell and whistle turned on. I have extra batteries on order already, and we got a car charger today which should give us more flexibility if we insist on keeping things like WiFi and GPS enabled all the time.


  • Can't remove the microSD unless I unmount it through a menu. This was never needed in the Blackberry.
  • Almost impossible to eject the microSD unless you have fingernails or really really tiny fingers. 
  • No home or return keys in the slide-out keyboard. 
  • The instructions booklet doesn't have an icon dictionary. I eventually figured out most of these, but still, pain in the ass.
  • Very hard to pull down the notifications drawer if you have fat fingers. 
  • Every fucking time I am typing something with the slide-out keyboard I'll hit the volume button at least once. I don't know if I am grabbing the damn thing wrong, but I do it every damn time.
  • I managed to freeze it once, and I was worried that the only hard reset available would wipe the thing clean. The fix? Remove the battery and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. I found a lot of people online bitching about this. 
Those are all quirks, not show-stoppers. 
Really dumb design issues:
  • Why is there a touch pad controller in this phone? This is a touch screen, the whole UI can be controlled by touch, do I really need a touch pad like on the Blackberry 8530? 
It is a really interesting gadget. Ivette actually forced me to get her one, since she was claiming that I went batshit with my birthday gifts for this year. I don't get it, all I got was a 24" monitor and a dual monitor stand, this phone and an ExpressCard HDTV tuner for my laptop. I don't see the excess at all... But still, she made me get her one to replace her LG Rumor Touch (a phone I despise). She was "meh" about the Intercept for a few minutes, but it sort of clicked on her and now she seems to be enjoying it a lot. 

Phone calls work as expected for most cell phones in this area. The call quality was at least as good as the Blackberry, and superior to any call I managed to make with the first two generations of the iPhone. 

The GPS seems to be more responsive than on the Blackberry. This is purely subjective, it could be many things but as far as perception goes, it seemed to work better in the Android phone. The turn-by-turn navigation instructions were hilariously wrong, which kept us entertained for most of the afternoon. The GPS has no trouble finding where you are at, but the routing algorithms for the Google application seemed to have a really hard time dealing with downtown Herndon, VA. 

The WiFi was painless to setup for both open and protected hot spots. The device had no trouble recognizing known hot spots or jumping on unprotected ones. Surfing the web on 3G around the Dulles International Airport is painful, but at least the screen is much bigger than in the Blackberry. 

Both SMS and instant message clients seemed to be working fine, but I am really really pissed off at AOL because the setting for allowing Google Talk is centralized, which means that if I disable Google Talk from within the Android AIM client, it shuts it down from my desktop too. Dumbasses.

The Facebook worked more or less the same as the Blackberry, the Twitter client did not feel like it was detecting the switch to landscape as well as other apps. 99% of what I tried understood that I was using the phone in landscape mode. The two biggest misses were the Twitter client and the camera. If you trigger the camera from Facebook, it insists on working in landscape mode. If you open the camera app by itself, it has no trouble switching from portrait to landscape automatically. 

In terms of physical construction, the slider design makes the phone feel a bit less sturdy than an iPhone or a Blackberry. It has rubber covers for the USB plug and the microSD slot, which is appreciated. The phone doesn't feel much bigger when I carry it in my pocket. And that damn screen is a horrible smudge magnet. 

On top of the 11 freebies I installed, I also tried a paid app, Beautiful Widgets, which was $2 and paid for through Google Checkout. The purchase process was painless, probably because I had Google Checkout up to date before I attempted the purchase. Once installed, the app knows if it has dependencies and sends you to the right download. I also appreciate how after it installs a dependency the requesting app is updated of its status and knows that the dependency has been satisfied without for example, forcing you to reboot the device. 

And now that I mention reboots, it seems like the Intercept reboots much faster than the Blackberry, which holds my record as the slowest booting phone I have ever seen in my life. 

Samsung Intercept Android Phone | Virgin Mobile

Kill switches can go both ways. : pics

Kill switches can go both ways:

It is almost frightening how much faster it is to throw a revolution nowadays than back when I was a teenager.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Fort Jackson, SC, to Highlight Intersection of Childhood Obesity and Military Readiness | The White House

First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Fort Jackson, SC, to Highlight Intersection of Childhood Obesity and Military Readiness | The White House

This is actually one of the chow halls at my Army Basic Training regiment, the 2nd Battalion of the 39th Infantry. That flag is probably covering the tray conveyor window.
How do I know? Look at the chairs, our motto is: AAA-O, Anything, Anytime, Anywhere -- Bar Nothing. When we were in basic training most of us were annoyed by having to use it as a greeting (TRIPLE A OH SIR) but years later I looked into it and learned two things that made me change my mind about it:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kindle Books Now Outselling Paperbacks at Amazon

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...Cover via Amazon
Kindle Books Now Outselling Paperbacks at Amazon: "In a statement, CEO Jeff Bezos said, “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year, so this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.”
The company adds that for 2010, it sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperback books, and “three times as many Kindle books as hardcovers.” Those numbers don’t include free Kindle books, making the numbers all the more significant."

Good news for Amazon, mass publishers and independent publishers that sell for the Kindle platform. Really bad news for anyone that makes a living peddling dead trees.


Not enough to call it Snowmaggeddon, but enough to screw up pretty much everything in the D.C. Metro area:

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This is also one of the very first times I have actually seen the HDR feature in my camera work anywhere close to what Sony promises.

Tell me again why it costs $100 + million to make a movie

I am absolutely sure that this movie didn't cost $100 million to make:

Many thanks to Paul for finding this one.

Zero Punctuation : Minecraft

Zero Punctuation reviews Minecraft:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Data mining

Amazon is usually good enough about their "are you interested ..." emails as to make them creepy, but I was more than a little pleased to see them screw it up at least once:

Out of 8 games suggested, 3 had been already sold back to Amazon through their trade-in program. The fourth game that I highlighted was purchased from Amazon under the same account that received the email. Two of the highlighted games had been originally purchased through the same account that received the email.

A "civilian" would go "well, how the hell are they supposed to account for THAT" but this being Amazon, I am sure that it is possible for them to add purchased and traded items as exclusion criteria to the queries used to mine for our emails. I am 49% sure that everyone received the same list of games, but these being so popular maybe it would had been a better idea to refine the criteria a bit more.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The rise of 'we'

The rise of 'we': "Why modern-day US presidents love the word"

I hereby declare today a slow news day. I was ready to say it was the "Royal We" but then it became obvious (as in blinding migraine): that's the first word in the United States Constitution. Wouldn't that render the word as statistically flawed for this study? Just try to visualize President Obama saying the following and tell me it is fair to clump them all together:

"We need to get our act together..."
"We are going on vacation again, so long, suckers..."
"We the People of the United States ..."
"We can't decide between Chinese and Indian takeout for lunch, want to weigh in?"
"We are living in yellow submarine ..."

The Rise and Rise of the Cognitive Elite

HeadacheImage by pvera via Flickr
The Rise and Rise of the Cognitive Elite: "hessian writes 'As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase. Computers have hugely increased the availability of information, raising the demand for those sharp enough to make sense of it. In 1991 the average wage for a male American worker with a bachelor's degree was 2.5 times that of a high-school drop-out; now the ratio is 3. Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed.'"
Maybe I am not awake enough, but the way I read this is "smart people make more money now than 20 years ago, and there isn't that many of them." Is this newsworthy? Unfair? A shock? I really don't get which part of this is newsworthy, unless it is using weasel words to lead people into another "why should college grads make more money" arguments. Or maybe it is trying to be all of the above. 

A Dangerous Job

The first frame is EXACTLY what I looked like five minutes ago:

A Dangerous Job:

A Dangerous Job

Here’s more law.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I want this book to be real : programming

Found this on Reddit:
I want this book to be real : programming

The best part is knowing no less than five people that can easily write that book.

They Call Me The Workin’ Man

HijiNKS ENSUE: They Call Me The Workin’ Man:
I thought you were here to steal computers and chew bubblegum. And you're all out of gum, so...
Here's what I don't understand: why so many people that didn't play Duke Nukem' 3D when it came out are wasting so much energy giving a shit about DNF? Yes, DN3D was awesome, but the damn thing came out 15 frickin years ago, a lot of the people bitching about this game have never played it, I doubt they even saw their parents play it.

The sad thing is that the game is set up for failure, there is no way even half of the people are going to be pleased with whatever is published. If it is ever published.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cracking The Credit Card Code | MintLife Blog | Personal Finance News & Advice

Cracking The Credit Card Code | MintLife Blog | Personal Finance News & Advice

This is probably the best presentation I have seen explaining how check digit routines work. We use these at work for non-credit card numbers, and usually you have to suffer through them once. If you are smart and you write proper object oriented code, you'll be able to reuse your check digit for say, Generic Airlines Frequent Flyer, as many times as you want since once they adopt the scheme odds are they'll stick for it for years.

When this turns challenging is when the spec documents are sloppy. I implemented one of these check digits for a customer in the hospitality industry, and their example case for the check digit routine had a tiny little redundancy error. The result? My check digit routine was WRONG, but it WORKED with the example account numbers. Fun times ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Affordable dual monitor stand

I just finished installing the last part of my birthday present (at least according to Ivette), a dual monitor stand for my company-issued 23" screen and the 24" screen I scored last week (the first part of the birthday present). The photo is shot too wide, which distorts the position of the right monitor, in reality it is aligned perfectly with the left one.

Some annotations:
  • A: I put a round metal plate above the clamp to spread some of the load on the top surface of the desk (F). This was not needed underneath since there is a metal frame available to handle the load. The desk can take the aggregated load with no issue whatsoever, but I felt nervous about clamping 50 or so pounds of load over less than 16 square inches of plastic. 
  • B: Verizon-issued FIOS router. 
  • C: Comcrap PVR, about to get ditched unless Comcrap starts showing me some love. I am not kidding, you assholes are one phone call away from losing my TV account to Verizon FIOS TV. 
  • D: Dell work laptop on e-stand/e-port replicator combo. This combination is priceless, I really love it.
  • E: I can't figure out how the hell to remove the bottom post from that monitor, and no, it's not in the manual. 
  • F: The ~$80 wonder desk. It is actually a 6 feet long banquet table, a metal frame and legs with a composite tabletop. It is AWESOME, and it cost just $80 on sale at Office Depot
I could place the monitors closer, but it would mean pulling them towards the desk and I don't want that. The desk sits flush against the wall, which robs me of some of the horizontal travel for the stand. If I could allow 3 or so inches of clearance I would be able to push the two monitors together without them protruding over the desk at all.

As for desk space, I think I now have at least twice as much surface area available, since neither monitor has a footprint.

Now I have to convince myself that there is absolutely no way in hell I can get away with hanging my 46" HDTV (used 99% of the time for Xbox 360) above these two monitors.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

World Of Mysteries: Abandoned Remains of the Russian Space Shuttle Project Buran

World Of Mysteries: Abandoned Remains of the Russian Space Shuttle Project Buran

This is a beautifully shot gallery, it reminds me of what happens every time I end up at the Dulles Annex. I particularly love this shot:

Cool idea

My new monitor is a real monitor instead of an HDTV (amazing how a 24" HD screen without analog inputs or ATSC tuner is so much cheaper than a 23" HDTV of the same product series), so I just got a Logitech S220 2.1 Speaker System with Subwoofer, an impulse buy and at $23 I didn't think much of it. I didn't even finish reading the product page.

The system arrived today, and it came with this little doodad:

This little pod is a combination of:
  • Power switch
  • Headphone jack extension
  • Microphone jack extension
  • Volume knob
I have been using it for maybe an hour, and I can't understand why every PC doesn't come with a pod like this.The two speakers sound like two tiny speakers, no surprise there. The sub-woofer actually sounds pretty cool, even better considering the whole thing cost $23 including free shipping. 

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Should Younger Developers Be Paid More?

Helpful Dilbert: Asok's Sweeney Todd LessonImage by Eexlebots via Flickr
Should Younger Developers Be Paid More?: "jammag writes "A project manager describes facing an upset senior developer who learned that a new hire — a fresh college grad — would be making 30 percent more than him. The reason: the new grad knew a hot emerging technology that a client wanted. Yes, the senior coder was majorly pissed off. But with the constant upheaval in new technology, this situation is almost unavoidable — or is it? And at any rate, is it fair?"
Sorry buddy, this is why you never want to know what others are making within your company. What you do want to know is how your salary places within the median for your locality for your field. If you are at the median or above, STFU and keep a low profile.

If you are under the median, then you are underpaid. You will need to decide what to do about it, be it ask for a raise, make a move for a promotion or get a job elsewhere. What the other guy makes plays nothing into this.

Recruiting is affected by supply and demand. There is a reason why the n00b was hired, and one of these is that the upset senior developer (USD) can't do whatever the new warm body (NWB) can do. I can tell you right now that nobody in his right mind in a for profit is going to hire even one more NWB than needed because it simply hurts the bottom line. Either NWBs are brought in as needed, or USDs are pushed out in favor of the NWBs.

The USD is also showing a painful disconnect with the monetary realities of writing code for profit. Notice that the NWB was brought in because he is bringing a new tech that a client wanted. That is code for more revenue. The NWB, even at a 30% premium over the USD, is going to bring revenue into the company that would not be possible with just the USD since he doesn't know the new tech.

It is not about fair, it is not about entitlement, it is just business. Now, if the NWB gets paid 30% more and he is a fucktard, then by all means raise hell.

The New Starbucks Trenta Cup Is Bigger Than Your Stomach

The New Starbucks Trenta Cup Is Bigger Than Your Stomach

I am a bit amused that when I saw this my first reaction was not about the price of so much Starbuck's coffee, or the need. I guess that since I am now a bit older and wiser, my mind just went into overdrive with things like:

  • How much would you end up hurting your stomach lining by drinking so much strong coffee in one sitting?
  • Can anyone drink the whole thing before it goes cold?
  • How come it doesn't have a handle? Wouldn't it be too heavy?
  • What about the sleeve? Isn't this against Starbucks' mandate to be douche bags about being a green company? Will they charge companies to advertise in this much bigger sleeve?
  • How come the logos say Starbucks Coffee? Did the logo redesign got canned already?
  • Have the efficiency experts taken into account caffeine rage across the country as caffeine fiends wait extra because of the two douche bags ahead of the line that ordered the trenta half decaf four extra shot goat milk vanilla latte with unicorn fart sprinkles? 
  • Do these people even know what happens when a caffeine fiend is made to wait longer than usual for his coffee?
  • Have [insert car brand that douche bag hipsters drive] been told to produce cup holder inserts as needed so their douche bag hipster customers can safely drive with these things in the car? Notice I am only mentioning douche bag hipster car brands, all other cars in the US are already compatible with cups as big as a big gulp. 
  • How long before somebody discloses that "trenta" probably means "thirty" and not something more obscure/cool/whatever?

Monday, January 17, 2011

I’m totally fine, but goodbye for now

I’m totally fine, but goodbye for now: "

No doubt you’ve seen the news. For obvious reasons I won’t be blogging here anymore, though I will leave the archives up. I hope you’ll pray to whatever God you believe in, and heap endless scorn and abuse on the first goddamn hack that dares to try snooping around to find out what’s wrong. I mean it. No staking out the hospital, no asking around among my friends. No calling doctors and asking them to speculate on what might be going on. Anyone who does that is lower than dog shit stuck to a shoe, and I hope that when you see stories like that — because you will — you use their comment strings to express your outrage for being the kind of scumbags who would put their own hunger for unique visitors and pageviews ahead of a man’s right to privacy.

Katie says she will be keeping a list. So, consider yourselves warned.

For now, peace out. Much love. Namaste."

This is how Fake Steve announced that Real Steve is taking a leave of absence due to medical reasons as of today. What is brilliant about this is he gets some mileage out of it, without directly exploiting whatever is wrong with Steve Jobs. Too bad a lot of people are simply going to go ahead and do the exact opposite.

We wish Steve a speedy recovery so he can go back to creating annoyingly expensive products that give us an excuse to complain about Apple.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This is why I hate the Internet

I hate it more because this cover is from 2004.

BBC News - Today - Remembering 'selfless' Dick Winters

Richard Winters during World War II.Image via WikipediaBBC News - Today - Remembering 'selfless' Dick Winters

US Army Major Richard "Dick" Winters passed this week, he was 92. Major Winter's exploits were documented in Band of Brothers, a book by Stephen Ambrose, and a miniseries of the same title that aired on HBO in 2001.

On a related note, there is a movement that is fighting for Major Winters to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during D-Day in Normandy.

The lies that trigger UPS anxiety

According to UPS, they redesigned their tracking page based on customer feedback. After seeing this, all I can think of is that they have a lot of fucking nerve to claim such a thing. Take a look at this:

Let's see...

  1. It shows the package on time. Of course it does! And when there's an exception for whatever reason, it will probably say "NEW arrival date is .... and still show it in time."
  2. "By end of day" is bullshit because it lets UPS cut down on their workforce and force the remaining drivers in the route to work longer hours. I haven't received a FEDEX package after 5 in almost a year, but UPS keeps showing up as late as 9:00 PM, which is a really long fucking stretch of the "End of day" statement.
  3. "Updated" timestamp is a placebo. Of course it will always show a current date/time, just don't expect UPS to poll their database every time you reload the page. Their tracking system is either queued, so you won't get up to date tracking information until the next batch, or they'll queue the website queries itself to avoid users bringing down the whole system by the constant reloading.
  4. "You asked for it, we delivered" is almost a cruel joke at the expense of all of us held hostage by this bullshit.
There are exactly THREE pieces of information in this status page that I consider accurate:
  1. This is the UPS tracking page.
  2. The package was sent from Las Vegas.
  3. The package destination is Reston, VA.
Everything else on screen is MBA or Marketing-driven bullshit designed to give UPS the illusion that they are listening to their customers, and attempting to make their customers feel empowered and/or hope that they stick with them instead of using USPS flat rate envelopes and boxes, or maybe UPS.

What really pisses me off about this is that I really like how I can create a shipping label online, print the damn thing and drop the box at the closest UPS store without having to make a line, talk to a dumbass at the counter, etc. The problem is that it creates so much frustration for the recipient that it is starting to become a choice only when I am sending something to a place of business, if it is a private address I may start considering that the USPS will be a less stressful choice (even if their tracking sucks too, but at least the USPS doesn't brag about all the MBA/Marketing bullshit enhancements to THEIR tracking). 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snickers Commercial: Focus Group

Bonus points because they ate "Steve," dear leader's real name.

Minecraft Note Blocks - Portal Still Alive

You gotta be kidding me!

Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?

Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?: "Local ID10T writes
'Data security vs. productivity. We have all heard the arguments. Most of us use some of our personal equipment for work, but is it a good idea? 'You are at work. Your computer is five years old, runs Windows XP. Your company phone has a tiny screen and doesn't know what the internet is. Idling at home is a snazzy, super-fast laptop, and your own smartphone is barred from accessing work e-mail. There's a reason for that: IT provisioning is an expensive business. Companies can struggle to keep up with the constant rate of technological change. The devices employees have at home and in their pockets are often far more powerful than those provided for them. So what if you let your staff use their own equipment?' Companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Kraft, Citrix, and global law firm SNR Denton seem to think it's a decent idea.'

What stops this company from providing inferior equipment to push the employee into using their own money to pay for this equipment? How many of these employees understand the tax issues related to this?

What about liability? If there is a breach and it is traced to the employee-owned equipment, can the employee be held liable too?

What is proper email etiquette?

Email-me-buttonImage via WikipediaWhat is proper email etiquette?: "Thomas Blaikie and Lucy Kellaway debate the proper way to address people in emails"


Pedro's Rules of Business Email:

1. Must follow the same standards in place for WRITTEN communications.

2. Spell check the damn thing, please. It is embarrassing to all parties when an email has unnecessary typos.

3. Be concise. Be specific. Write in full sentences.

4. Check your tone.

5. Check the stupid carbon copy and blind copy lists!

6. If you are complaining about an error, make sure the error isn't yours. It makes you look stupid and somebody will eventually dig out the email to use it against you.

7. Provide relevant information. If you are sending a screen capture, also send the URL of the page, so others can replicate it.

8. Don't hit the send button if you are upset. I am sure 99.99% of all email clients in use have a draft feature.

9. Don't hey people, it's rude.

10. Always use a signature block with your full name, title, company, phone/fax, etc. whenever you contact somebody outside of your organization. NO EXCUSES!

11. Don't curse in external emails, it's childish, stupid, rude and unprofessional.

12. Check rule #5 if you are cursing in an email.

13. Don't be stupid with attachments. Give them real names, not document.doc or document.pdf. If it is big enough, don't email the document, put it in a web folder and email instructions on how to download.

14. Don't break the thread. Once a thread starts, breaking the tread makes it much harder to research issues at a later date.

15. Don't cut people off a thread unless you have a very good reason. The third time I add my project manager and my business manager to the stupid thread, I am hinting at you to stop deleting them, so please stop it.

16. No SMS notation, sorry.

17. Be careful with acronyms with outside recipients, they may not have a clue what you are talking about.

18. Even if you don't need to reply in length, acknowledge receipt.

Pedro's Rule of Personal Email:

1. Rules #2, #4, #5, #8, #13, #17 should apply for most cases.

2. Make sure that you are not copying the same person with multiple addresses. Don't be lazy maintaining your address book, as the same people email from new addresses, ask them for their preferred address and stick to it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ready, Aim, Retire: 7 Top Officers’ Epic Implosions | Danger Room |

Navy photo of USS Constitution under sail for ...Image via WikipediaReady, Aim, Retire: 7 Top Officers’ Epic Implosions | Danger Room |

It is very hard for me to say this and part of me doesn't want to jinx it: this is the first thing I have read in Wired in over a month that comes anywhere close to real writing instead of mindless drivel. There, I said it. Yes, it was a good read.

We were arguing about the CO debacle yesterday. I am sure some dumbass right now is working himself up due to this, but in reality it is simple: certain people need to be held to a higher standard. When a country spends decades grooming you for a position of high trust and responsibility, then they give you command of a $450 million or more warship that helps project American power anywhere in the globe, you are expected to show some common fucking sense.

This is not George Constanza ("should I have not done that? nobody told me..."), this is a Naval Academy and Naval War College graduate with almost 30 years of meritorious service and 85 combat missions. And this is no trivial post, the Enterprise is the oldest deployable commission in the Navy, the only older commission is the USS Constitution, so you would expect that competition to command this ship would be fierce.