I Think There Is Something In The Water Today…

…that disconnects peoples brains. At least that is the impression I get reading the papers.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, at least the headline on the front page, “Thanks to Moore’s Law, we’ve got tiny cell phones, iPods and Xboxes.”. [Steve Martin Voice] Nooooooooooo [/Steve Martin Voice]. Moore’s Law is an observation of technology, not a guiding force. In fact, it is more of a postulate. Geeze. These folks probably believe in Cole’s Law as well.

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Some People Just Don’t Get This Question and Answer Thing

Folks: If you’re going to ask me a question, at least adjust your spam filters so that you can receive the answer.

Background: I answer questions on the Internet. I answer questions related to California Highways, and more significantly, I answer questions on Judaism in my role as the maintainer of the Soc.Culture.Jewish Frequently Asked Questions. This morning, I received a question from boboxburgh44 at AOL. The questions were realistic1, and so I sent answers. They bounced: the user isn’t accepting mail from me. Guess you aren’t going to get your answer!

1 The questions were:
(1) In the Reform tradition do women (as well as men) wear the tallit and touch the Torah Scrolls with the tassels?
(2) What is the tradition with regard to the covering of women’s heads during services?
(3) Can women play an equal part in the worship services and perform all the functions a man might do?
(4) Can women serve as cantor?


Ethics and the City of Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Daily News is reporting about two Los Angeles City sanitation workers that made more than $8,000 in unauthorized calls on their city-issued cell phones (compared to $1,200 if they stayed within plan minutes). These folks were warned in June about the misuse, but continued to use them for personal business for four months until their supervisors recommended they should be fired. At this point, they were allowed to resign and be rehired three weeks later under a deal supported by their union, Service Employees International Union Local 347. Why were they rehired? Supposedly, it is because the union pointed out that city management didn’t have an adequate policy explaining to their employees that it is wrong to use city cell phones for personal business. The upshot of this is that the Sanitation Department and the union are now proposing giving monthly stipends of up to $75 to each employee instead of a city phone.

The union president said, “This whole thing should have never happened. It’s amazing to me that it took so long to take their phones away. Somebody should have been watching this stuff, OK?”

The Bureau of Sanitation director has said previously that both employees are young and may have been accustomed to using cellular phones as their primary phones.

Sigh. Don’t we raise kids with ethics anymore? Even if they are accustomed to using cell phones as their primary phones, that doesn’t mean a city-issued cell phone is their primary personal phone? I know the different between the phone on my desk and my phone at home. I know, I know, we can’t teach ethics, we can only teach compliance. Yet, these folks should have known better.

Further, this notion of resign and get rehired because they didn’t teach them well enough. Arrrrgh.

Lastly, the resolution of this is to give $75/employee to cover a cell phone. Idiotic. I pay under that for my plan, and calls between people on the same network are free. You think if there is truly a need, they could negotiate a cheaper plan… or even use radios in trucks, related through a central operator. Oh, I forgot, we’ve got SEIU involved.

Why, oh why, couldn’t the valley succeed in seceding? We need to be away from the City of Los Angeles due to gross incompetence!


Stupid Question of the Day

As folks know, I do the California Highways web page and the SCJ FAQ. Therefore, I get questions coming in all the time. One of today’s questions had me just staring at the screen, dumbfounded:

Where can I find information about an automobile accident from last Friday?

No indication of where? Even the when is ambiguous. All I could do was tell him to ask the folks involved, or look for a police report. I don’t think that was what he was after.

I’d ship clue to him, but I don’t know where he is.


Somebody Give HP Support a Clue-By-Four

What has happened to technical support today? It seems they are increasingly clueless, only able to give stock answers to problems, and not having the technical ability that God gave a turnip (and I’ve seen some pretty technical turnips).

  1. Issue #1: SP2. I tried installing SP2 on my HP Pavilion a520n, as I noted in this blog entry. As you can see, if you looked at the entry, I uncovered that the problem was an access permission setting in the Windows Registry.

    How did HP investigate the problem? First, they indicated I should create a new user, and install SP2 using that profile. Never did they tell me what the characteristics of that new user should be or how that would solve the permission problem (it wouldn’t). They also pointed me to their web page where it said I needed to upgrade some of their software, never noticing that in my original report to them, I had said I had already done that!

    So, I wrote them back pointing to my investigation (reported in my blog entry), together with the log file. Their response was that I should (a) use msconfig to disable almost all startup programs, and (b) run as an administrator. Clueless again: I had said I was running as an administrator numerous times to them, and using msconfig would permanently disable those programs on startup, not just for the installation. I asked them pointedly: Given the problem is a permissions issue in the registry, how to I make all registry entries under full control of the Administrator.

    Their response: “I request you to contact Microsoft for Support as they could provide you detailed information related to the issue.”. You would think a technical support dweep would know how to set permissions on the registry. Sigh.

  2. Issue #2: CD/DVD Burner. This computer has a HP DVD/CD Writer 400c preinstalled on it. It seems to write music CDs just fine. However, attempting to do backup gives me intermittent media errors, especially when the backup involves multiple CDs. This has happened with both STOMP Backup MyPC and the HP software to generate recovery disks. It has happened with both Memorex and HP media. I cannot, however, force the error. I had a long back and forth with HP on this, simply trying to find out whether perhaps I have an outdated driver. They had me run some tests (which I had already run), and then finally had a support person call me: only to inform me they could only diagnose the system during business hours Mountain time. Now, the system in question is at home, so naturally, I can’t do this. They basically said, “Well, sorry then, we can’t help you.”

    Sheesh. It may just be easier to by a real DVD writer and just replace the one that came with the system. Trying to do warranty repairs on an intermittent would cost much more than the $70+tax the drive would cost (and replacing a CD/DVD drive is pretty easy).

I think our industry’s attitude toward supporting the customer has gone way downhill. We see much weaker hardcopy documentation supplied (and yes, this is important, for how are you going to read online documentation when your system is broken); we’re seeing technical support designed to deal with clueless newbies that can only give stock answers; and we’re seeing shorter and shorter warranty periods. Not good at all.