Buzzwords Aren’t All Bad

A quick riposte while on a lunch break after nine hours at work mostly spent writing a proposal:

Buzzwords aren’t all bad, 37 Signals. The examples cited typically seem to indicate a desire to be anti-elitist and inclusionary. Well, not all communication is meant for outsiders! A great example is all the communication we do at work: we have a lot of shorthand for a lot of the work we do. The only time that we really have to break out of that shorthand is when we have to communicate with people outside of our group—and doing so then is quite, quite vital. A lot of buzzwords come from insider shorthand—it’s only bad when it escapes the insiders!

As an example: I’m quite sure that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had his fair amount of shorthand. If nothing else, he was a seminarian, and those folks are prone to the development of lots of conceptualizations that are best expressed in theological terms—on the inside.

But this “buzzwords are always bullshit” stance is, in and of itself, bullshit. If you closely watched the 37Signals Campfire room, I’m more than willing to bet that you’d find a lot of internal shorthand that could, at some point, be buzzworded. [Ruby on Rails, for instance. Rails is their framework, their name for their system. Rails is short, quick, and to the point. But now it’s a buzzword. My point exactly.]

When making sweeping statements, be care to note context. This writer failed to adequately do so, which brings about this response.

House GOP Plays Games with Minimum Wage

Not cool, guys. Not cool. Pairing minimum wage hikes with estate tax cuts just so the Senate Democrats will quash it at the next stop on the legislative train, presumably for political gain—“Look at the Democrats! If they really cared about the working poor, they’d give you a minimum wage increase! But they don’t!”—is just … crass.

Now, I know that most menial jobs start above the minimum wage these days because of the demand for labor. I get that, and I get all the economic arguments to not raise the minimum wage. Heck, it’s important to remember that the last time the minimum wage was increased, Clinton was President, and it stayed where it was for the rest of his second term. The economy certainly zoomed on to good jobs and low unemployment without the raises staying in effect.

In short: I don’t buy the “living wage” arguments, but even the biggest haters of the minimum wage can look at what’s been done here and curl their upper lip in disgust.

Once, Bitten; Twice, Very Pissed Off

BellSouth just lost me as a customer.

I got DSL through BellSouth back in January; twice in that time, their billing department has screwed the pooch and disconnected me for no good reason. Seriously: none. This second time, despite multilple calls and assurances, I was never able to see my billing information online, and I was only getting electronic bills, so … no way to get any warnings from them at all.

Once was fine: I was willing to deal with it. I hadn’t gotten around to canceling the cable modem [because I was using it for BitTorrent ;)], and around that time, my roommate moved in, and it was just easier to segregate our Internet connections [him: cable; me: DSL] because of what we were doing with them. But now … ugh. I can’t even call in to figure out WTF is wrong, because their billing department shut down 10 minutes before I even got home. Yes, it’ll be open tomorrow, but the only call I’m making to them is to tell them to kiss my lily white ass.

Interestingly enough, Knology has concurrently rolled out a higher level of cable modem service in my area—better even than the DSL performance. Yeah, I think I’ll upgrade…

At Least the NHL Won’t Screw This Up

When I first awoke this morning—after under three hours’ sleep—my lizard brain had one thing on its mind: Game Seven. Would it be on NBC? Indeed, it will be.

The NHL TV deal—taking the guaranteed money from OLN over the partnership with ESPN—has been a debacle from my end of things. I love hockey, and I watched less than five regular season games before dumping my digital cable [and my only access to OLN with my cable provider]; I’ve only seen one postseason game, and that was only because I was in Carolina for Game One, where the venue that hosted the concert I was attending happened to have the game on in their bar. I could just see the screen from where I sat, so my head was definitely on a swivel. Compare this to past years, when I have pretty much spent any idle TV time in the summer with whatever playoff game has been on ESPN—after all, it might be a Steve Levy game, which means it’ll go to eleven [overtimes].

My fear was that Game Seven—the very win-or-die, mano y mano kind of contest that drew me into hockey in the first place—would be stuck on a crappy cable channel that almost no one watches. [The aforementioned Game One was outdrawn by women’s college softball playoffs on ESPN, after all.] Instead, the game will be broadcast in all its glory for almost all the country to see. Sure, maybe they don’t give a damn about hockey, or maybe they don’t understand the sport … but the opportunity to see this brutally beautiful game is all I can ask for as a fan of hockey.

GO CANES!

“It’s the last day of March in Alabama. We should have tornadoes.”

Mom and I were talking earlier this afternoon about the interview that my grandmother did this week with researchers from The Weather Channel regarding the 1974 Super Outbreak, which leveled her hometown of Guin, Alabama. [It’s really the only thing Guin’s known for.] In the five minutes or so that it’s taken me to write this entry [and watch the TV and call Misty to make sure she knows that the weather’s going to crap], the sky outside my house has gone from post-sunset dusk to dark. The nasty center of this storm—which is headed due east—is still 15 to 20 minutes of here, but … man, I was dead on when I spoke the title of this post to Mom on the phone.

This promises to be an ugly night.

On Favors

Last week, a Googler found one of my del.icio.us linkdumps and saw that I’d downloaded a particular Wilco show. He asked if I’d be able to provide him a copy of the bootleg. Now, normally I’d turn aside such a request out of hand—honestly, I spent the resources on BitTorrent grabbing the boot, and you can do the same. But it’s Wilco, and I’ll share Wilco love anytime I can.

Unfortunately for this individual, whom I’ll call J, I was in Detroit. I was clearly in no position to do anything about it right then, because, well, I was in Michigan and my bootleg client was in Alabama. I explained the situation to J and urged him to persist and see if he could get an account on DIME. He replied back the next day that he’d been unable to do so. [In all fairness, I should have started to get suspicious here—others have told me that persistence pays off here.] Fair enough, I told him—I’d work on it when I got back.

Well, I think you just have to see from the dearth of posting here this week that, well, I’ve been busy and/or tired since I got back. It just hasn’t happened. Turns out that J was on a bit of a deadline—he had to get these bootlegs to a friend coming back [or maybe leaving?] for Spring Break on Friday. Fine. Tonight, I offered to upload the bootlegs via FTP to my server here, where he could grab them via FTP and do the transcoding on his own. Honestly, there was no way my bootlegs, even if I made them tonight or before I left for work in the morning, were going to get to Chicago by tomorrow, right?

J’s reply: “i don’t know what u r suggesting”

Mental reply: “I’m suggesting that I hand you the work and let you do the heavy lifting yourself. I’d just be sacrificing the bandwidth, but … fuck it, I pay for it.” Instead, I told him that it just wasn’t going to happen, and that I was sorry that I hadn’t been able to come through for him. No harm, right? Dude asked a random Internet person for help.

J’s reply: “r u kidding me u dont have time to burn 2 cds?”

My reply, verbatim, which I handed to Misty before I sent it:

Look. I am not a college student with a ton of time. I’m a professional engineer working 40+ hours a week. I just got off travel Monday where I was gone from my job for three days. I was travel-lagged. I have lots of hobbies that, honestly, came ahead of your request.

You asked me to do this while I was gone. Had I been home, I could have done this easily, no problem. But given that it’s already Thursday night and you needed these, well, tomorrow, the chances of me getting a CD-R burned and to you tomorrow are, well, nil.

When you’re the one asking me for a favor, you have no right to dictate how I spend my time.

Please do not waste your time sending further emails to me; your attitude has earned you a place in my server’s killfile. Any incoming email from you will be deleted immediately.

Thanks, and have a nice day somewhere else.

Dickweed.

Oh, and J, if you come on to here under the guise of defending yourself:

  1. I will confirm to everyone that it’s you.
  2. You won’t find sympathetic ears here.

Fuck you, and good night. [Why yes, my week has sucked eggs. And yours?]

[Oh, at least my crown is finally done. Yay for that.]

Knology Customer Service Sucks

Scroll back one week to me, at my desk, preparing for a week that was soon to kick my ass …

[Cell phone rings.]

“This is Geof.”

“Hi, is this Goffrey Morris?”

“It’s Geoffrey, but … yes. With whom am I speaking?”

“This is [mindless CSR] from Knology. You had an install scheduled today, and the technician is at your house, but you’re not home.”

“I had no such thing scheduled.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No, ma’am, I assure you that I did not. I recently downgraded my digital cable service back to extended basic. I’ve already taken the receivers into the office.”

“Well, Mr. Morris, the technician needs to install a high-pass filter on your connection. Is there anyone at home who can authorize the technician to enter, or can you go to your home to let him in?”

“No.”

[pause]

“Ma’am, this is horrible customer service.”

“Did you say, ‘horrible customer service’?”

“Yes, ma’am, I did. Now, it’s not your fault that your people can’t communicate, but I was told nothing about this, either when I made the original phone call to downgrade service or when I took the units back in to the local office. You’d think that if this was so all-fired important, someone would have told me in one of those two interactions—especially when I ended both of them asking if there was anything else to do.”

“Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Morris. Can I reschedule sometime later this week?”

“No, ma’am. My week is absolutely full, and honestly, you’re wasting my time right now.”

“Will next Monday morning work? We’ll have the technician out first thing.”

“That will be fine.”

I started writing this at 0900 with the intention of leaving as soon as I’d finished and dealing with the inevitable phone call later. Clearly, having the technician come out first thing didn’t really happen. In fact, I saw a Knology truck go by my house at 0812 and got a false hope. Ended up that this wasn’t my technician; the guy I had was competent, quick, and pleasant.

But here’s what really pisses me off: there was no need for the technician to even enter my house. The guy hadn’t even so much as rung my doorbell when I noticed that his truck was blocking my driveway; I went outside, and he was already swapping out the filters. What did they have me stay home for almost two hours of my workday this morning [it’ll be close to 1000 by the time I get to the office]? To sign my name to the work order.

That’s it.

Suffice it to say that I’m done putting off installing the DSL modem [I’ve already paid for this month’s service on the cable modem, and I’ve got a discount coming on the return of the cable boxes for that service, so I could keep the cable modem for over another month without charges]. It goes up tonight.

Fuck Knology.

Gas Prices: Suck It Up!

Y’know, I think I’m about tired of folks complaining about gas prices. Increased prices are simply an aftereffect of increased wages. We all like increased wages, but few of us like increased prices [unless we’re selling something].

Do I like paying more for gas? No, not really. I’d like to spend my money on other things. But my demand for gasoline is pretty inelastic—I drive to get to work, and I drive to stay sane. It’s pretty inelastic for other folks, too, I’m sure. But, at the end of the day, the market generally finds a solution.

Now, do really poor folks have a beef here? Sure. Folks trying to hack it on minimum wage—don’t derail into a discussion of whether a minimum wage is a good idea; it’s the law of the land, so for now, let’s limit the scope of this discussion to the magnitude and not the existence—do get screwed out of this, because the artificial floor of the market hasn’t been indexed to inflation. [Mind you, there aren’t a plethora of jobs around here right at that minimum wage, but they exist.] But Jesus was right … you’ll always have the poor with you.

But the next SUV driver I see in Madison complaining about gas prices on the local news … well, pardon me if I feel like punching ’em in the face.