sumo, ergo bloggum (delta)

October 4, 2006

Oh, No! Not ‘Best Buy,’ Too!

Filed under: Blogging,Opinions,Rants,Technology — Rob @ 11:03 pm

I recently wrote a short post about my very negative experience with Dell technical support and at the end of the post recommended that current potential computer buyers forego the extended warranty and just call in the Geek Squad if and when necessary.

And then this evening, while perusing some Lifehacker.com posts, I stumbled across this:

http://www.consumerist.com/consumer/best-buy/welcome-to-best-buy-how-can-we-steal-your-computer-today-205101.php

So be very, very careful out there and above all, back-up your data!  Sheesh!

September 27, 2006

Dell “Support” Sucks!

Filed under: Opinions,Rants,Technology — Rob @ 1:08 am

I’m just a little pissed at Dell. I have a two-year old Dimension 8300 and have lost the use of 6 of 8 USB ports — 2 in the front and 4 in the rear. They just died one day. Only my keyboard is operating on the remaining good port. If I hadn’t been able to borrow an old PS2 mouse from work, I’d be up the proverbial creek.

This happened back in early June and things still aren’t fixed. I got the extended warranty (thinking it meant something) and still have 2 years of coverage but am just not able to get results from Dell’s technical people. I’ve had 3 chat sessions with them, after each of which I had to perform some procedures that they outlined for me. They wanted me to print their instructions but, yes, you guess it, my printer’s not working either. Of course, to perform the procedures, which I copied in longhand from each emailed chat session log, I had to logoff and break my connection with tech support. Needless to say, all the tests I ran (which I think I ran correctly — no one to check with since I had to logoff, duh!) showed everything to be working properly and none of the procedures restored the ports.

My last attempt was via a phone call. I got some guy I could barely understand. I know he was speaking English and doing his best but his accent was so thick I just couldn’t get past it to the content he was trying to impart. It was maddening! I gathered that he wanted to walk me through reformatting my hard drive and then reinstall my OS and other software but that was/is just overwhelming to me. The prospect of reinstalling two year’s worth of security patches, etc., is incredibly off-putting. And everything would have to be backed-up onto CDs or DVDs and that whole Roxio formatting thing just makes me nuts.

So clearly, part of the problem is me. I just haven’t got the heart or stomach or liver for going over all the hurdles that it’s going to take — especially when there’s no guarantee that doing so will produce the desired result. In addition to lack-of-requisite-vital-organs, I haven’t got the time for this either. I have all I can do to just use a computer. I never signed on to be a repair guy.

I wish they’d just send out somebody to troubleshoot and fix the damn thing. Or at least install a menu on the phone support number that allows me to select a native English speaker. Or had a warranty policy that stated, for example: if our suggestions for you to fix the problem yourself are beyond your tolerance or ability, we will come out and fix the problem (because we don’t want you to think you paid good money for a worthless warranty).

I’m going to take a day off work in early October to give this one more go — and after that, I don’t know what…. My brother swears by Apple — has a laptop (MacBook Pro ?) he loves. Maybe that’s where I’ll end up.  Or maybe I’ll just crack my case and install a board with USB ports.  I think Best Buy sells them pretty inexpensively.

A bit of irony: I work for the government and do a bit of procurement. Not just the buying but the actual selection and justification for purchasing. In the past six months I’ve purchased over $25,000 worth of Dell computer products. Unfortunately, I can’t use the tech guys at work to repair my personal equipment (possible ethics violation). But it sure is tempting. 😉 

In the meantime, my recommendation to new buyers is: don’t get the extended warranty. Save your money and then, if necessary, call the Geek Squad to fix any problems that may arise.  Or maybe just go with an Apple. (See 10/4/06 post)

September 19, 2006

Prosser — 1st CD now available

Filed under: Culture,Miscellaneous,Music,Opinions — Rob @ 10:10 pm

If you like guitar and cello music, go to the Prosser link on my blogroll and check-out Eric’s and Dylan’s first official Prosser CD.  It will be released in stores about mid-October but you can buy it now through their website via Clickpop.

And if you live in the Seattle area, you can see them perform at some of the local venues there.

August 21, 2006

Some books I’ve read recently, some I’m reading, and some that are, well, just sort of stacked up around the house waiting to get into the queue….

Filed under: Books,Miscellaneous,Opinions,Personal Stuff — Rob @ 11:16 pm

Bangkok 8 (John Burdett) – Really, really good. A Buddhist, Thai detective solves the mystery while refusing to screw the FBI.  I couldn’t put this down.  Start it on a Friday night or you’ll be sorry.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling) – The 6th book in the series and I think one of the better ones. Will leave you on tenterhooks waiting for the finale.

Cod (Mark Kurlansky) – A well-written, interesting though somewhat dry (!) history of the fish.  I’m looking forward to Salt.  This one is still a Read-in-Progress (RIP).

The Millionaire Mind (Thomas J. Stanley) – Another RIP. Wish I’d been exposed to this stuff 40 years ago — of course it wasn’t around then, but nevertheless… Very interesting and inspiring stuff.  Worth reading if you’d like to be rich.

I’ll add to this list periodically….  Am still thinking about other ways to organize it.

         8/30/06 –

Right as Rain (George P. Pelecanos) – D.C. noir mystery — just started it but pretty good so far.

         9/12/06 – Well, the story picked-up as it went on. Somewhat formulaic and  predictable but still a good read.  Good enough, anyway, that I’m going to read the next book in the series:

Hell to Pay (George P. Pelecanos) – This one is really good. Got about 4-5 chapters in then got side-tracked by life. I hope to get back to it soon. (RIP)

Yes, You Can Still Retire Comfortably! (Ben Stein & Phil DeMuth) – Whoa!  This is scary.  But these guys are smart and it looks like very useful info presented in a highly readable fashion.  After reading just the first chapter I’m already thinking about all the people I want to give this book to for Christmas.  Especially young people who are growing up in a world that is, and will be, very different from the one I grew up in and the one we now live in. The defined-benefit pension is all but extinct unless you work for the government. (RIP)

LG VX8300 Cell Phone

Filed under: Opinions,Ramblings,Technology — Rob @ 10:16 pm

Well, my grace period has expired and I’ve mailed-in my rebate offer, so it looks like I’m stuck with my LG VX8300 phone for the next couple of years.  But at least this unit didn’t die after three days.   Reception seems to be fine in the places I make or receive calls — not that I’m a frequent phone user or anything.  I haven’t tried it in the Metro tunnels yet, or at work (two floors underground).  And I haven’t used the micro drive either — and probably never will.

The major thing that stands in the way of my (and perhaps many others in my demographic) using all the features is the inability to make the alpha-numeric readout twice as large as it is.  I have to wear glasses for anything close and it’s just a pain in the ass to constantly be putting them on and then taking them off whenever my cell phone is involved.

 I don’t do text-messaging but actual voice calls sound fine on both ends — no volume complaints from me or the other parties, so far.  I got a headset for using it in the car but haven’t tried it yet.  However, I did wrap the headset cable around a little ferrite bead plastic doo-hickey that’s supposed to absorb radio frequencies (though not EMFs) emitted from the cell phone.  It’s sold on Dr. Mercola’s website for about $15 (http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/health/ferrite_beads.html).  However, using your phone in speaker-phone mode is even better as it keeps the EMFs out of reach of your brain.

One thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to send a picture from my phone to my email address.  If anyone can tell me how to do this I’d really appreciate it.  (See Comments)

I can send pix from my phone to a friend’s phone okay — just can’t get them to a platform where I can upload’em to Flickr.  Yeah, I found out too late that ShoZu doesn’t support LG phones yet.  I should have checked before I bought.  I almost traded for a Motorola Razr in the last couple of days of my grace period but got lazy.  Now I wish I had because ShoZu supports the Razr and a few other Motorola models.  It also supports a slew of Sony-Ericsson phones but Verizon wasn’t offering any models of that brand when I made my purchase.  It seems I learn a little bit each two-year cycle but never quite enough or soon enough to actually make a significant techological leap forward.

July 26, 2006

Illegal Immigration – Part I

Filed under: Culture,Illegal Immigration,Opinions — Rob @ 10:30 pm

As a preface to my thoughts on immigration, specifically with regard to immigration to the US from Central and South America, I would like to let readers know I am reasonably well-informed about the conditions from which many immigrants, and particularly illegal immigrants, are fleeing.  And though I have considerable sympathy for the plight of these, mostly economically and educationally deprived, folks, I think it is the job of their own governments, their own countrymen — and not the government or people of the US — to provide for their employment, health, education and welfare.  The US has a myriad of problems within its own citizenry and does not need the additional burden of solving the low-end-of-the-totem-pole-people-problems of other corrupt or inept governments.

That said, here are my thoughts:

1.  Immigration can be legal or illegal.  Legal means you respect and follow the laws of the country to which you are emmigrating, i.e., entering only at official entry points and with valid documentation.  Illegal means you don’t; that you instead attempt to cross borders without the host country’s permission and without valid documentation.

(For those who don’t grasp the distinction, think of your home as the US, people you have invited to your home (for dinner, let’s say) as legal immigrants, and complete strangers as illegal immigrants.  Now what would you do if one day two or three complete strangers were to climb through your open window, walk into your kitchen, help themselves to food in the ‘fridge, then sit down on your sofa to watch TV? 

Would you call the police to evict them, or would you just let them have the run of your house — while you continue to pay the mortgage?)

2.  Every country in the world has immigration policies and laws.  The US is not attempting to prevent entry but to control entry.

3.  Because US policies and laws have little to no effect on Central and South Americans in particular and because these people generally cross the United States’ southern borders illegally, I think we should build a triple fence, with video and electronic monitoring, along our border from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

4.  We cannot do, nor should we try to do, anything (with the exception of #7., below) about the current population of illegal immigrants in the US until an effective fence is built. When you have a burst water pipe in your basement, what’s the first thing you do? That’s right, cut off the water supply.  Only then can you begin to deal with the water and the water damage.

5.  While the fences are being built, Congress should change one very important, very old law that is being seriously abused.  That law says that anyone born on US soil automatically is a US citizen.  I think the law should be amended to say that anyone born to a mother who is a US citizen or born on US soil to a mother who is a legal immigrant is, by law, a US citizen.

6.   Concurrently, the US should issue every citizen (from birth) a photo & biometric, national ID card.  And every legal immigrant should also be provided with a US-issued equivalent photo & biometric ID card that indicates his/her legal alien status, e.g., country of origin, type of visa, length of visit, etc.. These cards should be replaced every five years.

7.   Then, as soon as the national biometric ID cards have been issued and the program is in full-swing, we should begin enforcing the Immigration Reform & Control Act of 1986.  Title I, Part A, Sec. 101., “SEC. 274A. (a), 8 USC 1324a” of this 20 year-old law makes it unlawful (illegal) for an American-owned business to knowingly employ unauthorized aliens (illegal immigrants) in the US.  In fact, I think such hiring should be made a felony. There should be significant cash rewards given to citizens who, anonymously, report the hiring of illegal immigrants.  Employers found guilty, from the CEO/President on down to the hiring personnel in the HR department, should face mandatory, jail sentences of at least 5 years.

                                                             End of Part I

Parts II – X are going to be a bit more complicated as they will deal with such issues as (in no particular order):  the current population of approximately 12-15 million illegal immigrants, families divided by borders, guest workers, the cost of produce, rich folks’ lawns and nannies, low-wage jobs, English proficiency, the path(s) to citizenship, social security, voting, social services (e.g., hospitals & schools), driver’s licenses & insurance, gangbangers, drug runners, human traffikers, the transfer (or lack, thereof) of national & cultural allegiances (i.e., are people coming here because they like the American culture and want to become part of it, or are they simply coming here for the American dollar and trying to impose their failed systems, cultures, values, etc., on Americans), reciprocity (considering how warmly their home countries (people & governments) treat legal (not to mention illegal) immigrants from the US), NAFTA, racism, minimum wage, elimination of federal and state income taxes in favor of national and states sales taxes (which are collected regardless of citizenship status and access to loopholes), Congressmen and the President growing backbones (ever notice how they lead from poll results, i.e., lead from the rear), etc.

It may take a few months to knock out the next sections — it’s definitely a tangled web….

Whew!

Filed under: Culture,Opinions,Random Thoughts,Religion — Rob @ 9:33 pm

Lots going on lately. Floyd won the Tour. Tiger won the Open. And Hezbollah won a kick in the teeth for the Lebanese people. What is it with those guys?  Of course, the Lebanese populace didn’t do themselves any favors by voting against having Hezbollah disarmed. So now the voters are reaping what they’ve sown. And they’re whining about it.

Like, it’s okay to shoot a few rockets into Israel but it’s not nice, or fair, if Israel retaliates. Of course, I do feel sympathy for the innocent bystanders, especially the children who were too young to vote and the women who were probably not allowed to vote. If these radical Islamists continue to provide for the welfare of their families in this way for the next 50 years, let’s hope the 20-30 who remain will collectively hatch a brain and join the human race.

I’m not holding my breath.

Abortion and Miners

Filed under: Culture,Humor,Opinions,Random Thoughts,Rants,Religion — Rob @ 2:03 pm

If you’ve listened to the news lately, you’re sure to have heard about the recent debate and vote in the Senate about making it illegal to help miners cross state lines to get abortions without parental notification or consent.

I find this extremely disturbing for several reasons.

First, from among the thousand (or so) occupational classifications in this country, why single-out people who help miners?  Why can’t they provide assistance with crossing state lines for this purpose without notifying the miners’ parents.  Can they help them cross state lines to give birth without parental consent?  Can they help them cross state lines to murder an adult without first obtaining parental consent?  Heck, most of these miners are probably of legal age anyway and most are probably male on top of that — so what kind of “help” are we talking about?  Cab fare?  So why pick on the few female miners under 21 who happen to get preggers and then decide to have an abortion in another state?  And what if such a miner lives 200 yards from a state line and the nearest medical facility is just down the street in an adjacent state?  We’re talking about only three or four people a year here, folks.

Second, don’t most miners (and presumably, prospective helpers) live and work in West Virginia?  So why make a law that disproportionately affects the residents of just one state?  It just doesn’t seem fair.  They send us their beautiful mountain tops in the form of coal so that we can continue to live our nice, cushy lifestyles and this is the thanks they get?

Third, what’s a state line anyway.  Has anyone ever actually seen one?  Is it like a voting district line in Texas — you know, the kind that can be changed willy-nilly if you have enough friends with enough money and your political party is in power?  I’d be hard-pressed to know whether or not someone has crossed a state line that 1) is theoretically changeable and 2) by all accounts, invisible.  So who’s qualified to enforce such a law?  And who could possibly witness its violation?

Last, I wish politicians in general, and our wonderful holier-than-thou Congressmen in particular, would find something better to do with their time than to meddle in the personal lives of honest, hard-working American citizens, especially those in West-by-God-Virgina.  Sheesh!  You’d think they’d be more concerned with the violation of child labor (npi) laws.  I’m sure the miners there (and, again, their prospective helpers) can dig that!

Disclaimer: I am not a miner, a prospective helper, or a West Virginian.

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