The customer service rep…

Sometime back, I was talking on the phone to a customer service representative about some product or another. He needed to snail mail me some information.

Now the conversation went something like this (names changed but not the concept):
Customer Rep: Can I get your name, please.
Me: James Piper.
Rep: Diaper?
Me: No, PIPER!
Rep: Diaper?
Me: NO! PIPER! P as in Paul, i-p-e-r!
Rep: OH! Okay. Thank you.

A few days later I got the information in the mail. It was addressed to Paul Iper.


Why I hate Microsoft

I have a number of computers. My main desktop machine runs Ubuntu (currently 18.04), but I have another desktop running Windows 7. I also have a newer laptop (which I don’t use much) with Windows 10. I also have an older laptop, which rarely even gets powered on anymore, with Linux Mint.

Well, I have always had nightmares with Windows update. It seems always to need to do something right when it is least convenient, and is problem prone. As a result, I just disable the service and update ONLY when it’s a) been awhile since the last time, and b) it’s a good time for me.

Today, both conditions were met. I re-enabled the Windows Update service and checked for updates. It took nearly half an hour and discovered there were 6 “needed” updates. One was the totally useless Malicious Software Removel Tool, which runs a long time and does nothing. I deep sixed that one that one and proceeded with the other 5. Another half hour went by as the system downloaded 5 updates. Time to install. It worked, and worked, and worked… said it needed to restart. Okay, fine. “Configuring updates”. “Configuring updates”. … You know how that goes. Finally, it’s been “configuring for another half hour and it has reached 98% complete. Then, the very thing I just KNEW was going to happen, did. “Windows was unable to configure updates. Reverting changes”. CRAP! But not the first time I’ve ever seen that happen!

Anyway, while all that was going on, I was over on my Ubuntu box. I use that one every day, so it is pretty up to date. I figured I would check anyway, so I did an “apt-get update”, and there was one for Linux firmware. I installed it… no reboot needed. I went online and made a few tweaks to another one of my web sites, did some surfing, worked a bit in Libre Office…. Meanwhile, back at the Windows ranch, the “reverting changes” was getting underway. I had to go to the bank, which I did. I was hungry, so I went to get something to eat. Got back home and decided to boot up the old Linux Mint laptop. It had been AT LEAST six months, so you can imagine. It needed a gazillion updates, which I proceed to do. It definitely took awhile (no idea how many updates were actually done), but they all completed without any issues. No reboots were needed. I found some outdated apps and updated them. My Libre Office was still at version 5, so I upgraded it. Took a phone call, went back on my Ubuntu machine and did a bit more work. Then I played with the cat for a bit. After three hours of “reverting changes”, Windows was ready.

So Microsoft Windows took between four and four and a half hours…. accomplishing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

I updated the Windows 10 laptop a couple nights ago, and that took a couple hours. Surprisingly, this time it actually worked.

After years of experience with Microsoft, beginning with DOS 2.11 up to now (I avoided 95/98/ME like the plague and was more into NT 3.51, 4.0, etc. – except Vista/8/8.1), and years with UNIX SYSTEM V, into Red Hat, and finally Ubuntu, I have learned this moral:

The quality of an operating system is inversely proportional to its cost.

Note that Ubuntu is free.

I compose this rant on Ubuntu.

Blog spammers revealed

Blog spam….

Askimet is a blessing as MOST spam I never even see. And practically all the rest ends up being flagged as probable spam, which it inevitably is. I’ve only had ONE legitimate comment I’ve had to rescue from there. While I simply delete the contents of the spam queue, I still like to track the WORST offenders. I thought I might share my (growing) list with whoever is interested. Most of the time, it is individual IP’s, but once in awhile I find an entire block of addresses that are infested with blog spammers.

The miracle of a modern education

I made a visit to the local Burger King the other day. My order totaled $10.63. I handed over a twenty dollar bill, a quarter, and four dimes. I knew that was a big mistake the moment I saw the cashier holding the coins in the palm of one hand, slowly pushing them back and forth with a finger from his other hand, a befuddled look on his face. He moved the coins about for about a minute, stared at the cash register knowing he had to enter the amount tendered, then finally he entered a number. I see the change due comes up as $9.57.  Sensing this just MIGHT be wrong, he asked the cashier next to him for help. Now two lines are being held up as this two try to figure out what to do next. Another minute passes by as the lines grow longer. Finally one of them asks a manager for help. She hands back the twenty and asks if the coins were my change. I explained they were my coins, but not the change. I hadn’t paid yet, that was just a part of the $10.63 I owed. She was confused and cancelled the order. I had to reorder. The lines are growing. Total is $10.63, change due is $9.37. I explain that no, it isn’t. You haven’t taken the five coins I handed over into account. Some more figuring. She hands back a ten.  Now we are making progress, but where is my other two cents? So I say I am still due two cents.  I don’t think she believed me, but tossed over another two cents just to get the lines moving again.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about two cents, one way or the other. But after spending about five minutes just trying to place a simple order, I wanted the two cents.

I know sometimes people can get nervous and forget how to make change, but this was ludicrous. The cash register is fully automatic. You enter an order, it pops up with the total due, in this case $10.63. No math involved. You enter the amount tendered, in this case, $20.65. The magic is done and it tells the cashier how much to give back, in this case $10.02. All that had to be done is to add $20 plus 25 cents plus 10 cents, plus ten cents, plus 10 cents, plus ten cents. $20, easy. It’s a twenty dollar bill. Now for the cents. Count 25, 35, 45, 55, 65. Was that really so hard?

If the three people involved were second graders, I would understand. They were all, presumably, high school graduates. What are they teaching now days?

How to ensure that we will never speak on the phone

I get an awful lot of phone calls. The majority are from people I don’t know. If I know or have a reasonable idea of who is calling, I will answer. Otherwise, it goes to voice mail.

If you truly have no desire to actually speak with me, call on a restricted number. This will firmly ensure that I will NEVER pick up. If you are truly determined to not to speak to me, follow up by not leaving a voicemail.

If you MUST reveal your (supposed) number, be sure it is one I don’t recognize and follow that up by not leaving a message in the (likely) event I don’t answer. I know the current trend is to spoof local numbers, so having three or four different (unrecognized) supposedly local numbers call in quick succession and never leaving a message is solid affirmation that I am on the right track in assuming you are a scammer. Just be aware that any given number suspected of being a scam or other nuisance call only works once. Then it gets blocked. While my block list is now several blocks long, I really don’t care. It has unlimited capacity and I get a warm, fuzzy feeling whenever my phone vibrates for 1/10 of a second, then goes silent.

Please keep those calls coming in. It really brings a smile to my face.

WordPress Critical Notice

I had my WordPress Dashboard popup and warn me I wasn’t using the latest version of Firefox!

OMG!!! That is absolutely correct! I am NOT running the latest version of Firefox. But I’m not running an outdated version, either.

In fact, I don’t even have Firefox installed! LOL! And my Waterfox (!!) reports it is up to date.

I guess it really doesn’t matter as my browser of choice is Chromium on Ubuntu…


Tax Freedom Day

This being April 15th, and being in the United States, I got to thinking about taxes. And then I started thinking about Tax Freedom Day, the day which, on average, a person has earned enough in the current year to pay all of his/her federal, state, and local taxes for the year (and starts working to provide for his own needs).

First of all, April 15th isn’t the day taxes are due in 2017. April 15th being a Saturday, and Monday, April 17th being Emancipation Day (I never even knew there was such a holiday), taxes aren’t due (in the USA) until Tuesday, April 18th, 2017.

Anyway, back to Tax Freedom Day… it turns out that this year Tax Freedom Day in the USA falls on April 24th. I was thinking “Gee, that kinda s**ks!” Then I found out what it is like elsewhere. In the United Kingdom, Tax Freedom Day doesn’t arrive until 13 May. But it could STILL be worse. In Finland, it isn’t until 15 June, and in Sweden it is 30 June. The end of June, which means you work half the year just to pay your taxes. Turns out, in Germany the day doesn’t arrive until 19 July, and in France it is 26 July. And worst of all is Belgium with a date of 3 August! I didn’t check to see if there were any countries even worse off. It would have been too depressing.

I guess 24 April isn’t that bad after all.

Point to ponder

When told the reason for daylight saving time the old Indian said…
‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’

Daylight Saving Time is NOT followed in Arizona, with the exception of the Navajo Nation in the northeast corner of the state, which does. Meanwhile, the Hopi Reservation in Arizona, which is COMPLETELY surrounded by the Navajo Nation, does not. Does this make sense?

The reason given for this is that the Navajo Nation covers 27,245 square miles in parts of three states, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, and that Utah and New Mexico DO follow DST. Rather than having two different times in just one nation, the Indian leaders have opted to follow DST on the Arizona part of the Nation.

You can see from the map that the vast majority of the Navajo Nation is in Arizona. While it does make sense for the entire Navajo Nation to be observing a single time, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Navajo leaders to follow Arizona’s lead and declare that the parts of the Nation in Utah and New Mexico NOT follow DST?

Just wondering…

One NASA year – Not your Father’s year!

Scott Kelly just returned to Earth after his highly touted “year in space”. By NASA standards, a “year” is apparently only 340 days, a little less than 94% of a “standard” year.

I am wondering if the NASA devaluation is restricted to time, or does it apply to distance as well. If so, does that mean a mission to Mars wouldn’t ACTUALLY reach Mars, but would turn around a couple million miles short?

If Kelly had been up for 364 days, or even 360, I’d give NASA the extra couple days and call it a year, but when you come up 6+% short, I’m not so forgiving. NASA is just patting itself on the back for its BIG ACHIEVEMENT, the “big achievement” that Russia (and predecessor USSR) had already done four times.  Valari Polyakov bested the “NASA year” by 97 days (437 total) and that was 22 years ago.