Archive for the ‘cranky’ Category

Does Hulu plus hurt artists more than it helps?

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

I can’t be the only person who feels ‘morally’ obligated to refuse to give money to Hulu, to insert ads into shows you can see elsewhere for free, without any advertising.  So I have to wonder, if any data nerds have monitored the effect of a show moving from truly-free online-via-network’s on site, to Hulu’s horrible advertising wasteland.  I suspect that shows ‘exclusive’ to Hulu have a significantly higher piracy rate than any other form of distribution, simply out of spite at their horrific business practices, and complete moronic insistence on selling a lesser product, for less money, only, instead of offering multiple, sane, tiers of service, that people have continually begged for.

 

I’d pay double, maybe even quadruple their current fee, if there was actually a value in the ‘plus’, but as they are now, I can only despise them for the arrogant idiots they are, but given who they are owned by, forward thinking decision making would be a new thing for them.

The dishonesty of Flex-Time

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

It always sounds like a nice plan, on paper, “unlimited time off”, who wouldn’t want that? You if you are smart.

Problems with flex-time:

You have to know exactly to the second how much time you’ve “Accrued off-books”, because while they won’t pay you at termination for “unused but earned” time, they always expect you to pay back any time off taken that would exceed the same ‘limit’. Usually a contract is supposed to show benefit to both parties, to be considered valid. Unless you’ve bought a legislator or two, and gotten the law to except your underhanded scheme. Or operate in a state where someone else already did the hard work of getting the laws changed, and all you have to do is screw over your employees when the time is ‘right’.

There is no recourse from a bad manager. If you end up with a project that is poorly managed, when it comes down to it, no business is ever going to let you take the time off you’re owed, at the expense of day-to-day operations, so even if you manage to eventually get the bad manager out/reformed, it’s already too late, and the worker gets screwed.

Nothing in the prior time-off plan prevented a manager from granting exceptions to exceptional circumstances, so again, the whole point of this change is to give the employer more options, and the employee fewer.

But you get to sound all generous and say things like “unlimited time off” without technically engaging in fraud.

sigh.

Update: Thought of another one….under normal time off, you just have to ask for it, and verify that your request won’t conflict with the business schedule. Now, you’ll have to explicitly justify every time you want to be out of the office. It’s none of your frackin business what I want to do when I’m not at work, and I sure as hell am not coming begging to you for what was once a contractual part of compensation.

Xbox Live Rewards failure

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

So far, it looks like Xbox Live Rewards is a poorly implemented act of desperation.  The first sign that you are about to associate with a complete loser of a program, it takes *2* days for your registration to be processed.  Seriously?  Microsoft can’t figure out how to build a real-time registration system?  It does not bode well for the level of integration between systems.  And you can see that in the forums, with tons of people posting about missing points.  Right now, they have a promotion for the Season Pass add-on’s.  By the letter of the offer, it’s a total scam, since you only qualify if you spend $50.00, and Season Passes are sold for $49.99.  But it gets more comically inept, because from the page where you learn about the promo, there’s a link to “Grab a Season Pass”, which takes you to the xbox.com store, where….there are no Season Passes for sale.

The Season Passes for Forza 5 seem like a waste of money so far, anyways.  I didn’t want to buy one anyways. grumble grumble.

Goodbye LogMeIn, Hello Teamviewer

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Now that LogMeIn has doubled-down on failure, making clear they want to go out of business, and are cancelling the only product they offer that has actual value, it’s time to start looking for alternatives.  Enter TeamViewer, offering all the features I ever used in LogMeIn.  It remains to be seen what kind of company they are, but they can’t be any worse than the team in favor of corporate suicide, that is in charge at LogMeIn.

It’s funny, when less than a year ago, your CEO was pushing the value of having a free tier, and swearing it was essential to your survival and thrive-al.   I suspect I won’t hear much more about them going forward; it sounds like they’ve wasted all their investor cash, buying up good products, shutting them down, and destroying their own brand in the process.  You won’t be missed.

Target pushback

Friday, December 27th, 2013

In light of the recent, rather public, computer security failure, I stared at the error message before me.   The Ultraviolet people had announced that they are finally ready to let people register their DVD’s from home, using one of their partners’ programs.  Sounds like awesomsauce; I’d get to put all the DVD’s into less accessible storage, but still have easy, legit, access to the content on the go.  One of the three partners is a Best Buy project, CinemaNow, and I know they need all the help they can get, so I figure I’ll give it a shot.  Which is how we got to here.  Seems they couldn’t be bothered to sign their code, and the latest OSX update flat out refuses to let you run unsigned code, without mucking about in preferences.

I could make the change, easily enough, but it doesn’t seem like I should have to.  Best Buy should be fully capable of hiring developers capable of the minimal effort of registering with Apple.  That they are unwilling, or unable, to accomplish this underlines the woeful state of computer security as a proactive way of working.  The developers at Best Buy are willing to put the end user at risk, even though they should be well aware of how easy it is to trick people into downloading from the wrong place, and just how potentially devastating the results can be.  If there is justice in the universe, someone will install CinemaNow on a computer inside their firewall, and then accidentally install some malware that would have been prevented, if they hadn’t turned off the safety features of the OS, and it costs them twice as much as Target’s losses end up being.

 

Fitbit Force disappointments

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

After having read many favorable reviews, and finding myself frustrated with how often I was missing out on trackable items, when using an app on my phone, I decided to give it a try.

My first impressions were favorable. The setup process wasn’t quite as smooth as the direction would have you believe; the Force refuses to let you set it up until it has been fully charged, whereas the instructions claim you can go thru setup while it is charging. Whatever, one time annoyance, not that important.

What is turning out to be extra annoying is how deceptive their claim of “water resistant” is…I don’t expect to be able to go diving, but I expected at least $5 Timex levels of water safety, but it turns out you really should take the Force off anytime you are around more water than a sneeze. Which of course means that when I take it off to wash my hands after dealing with another cat poop issue, I forget it, and another day ends up without 90% of the day tracked, so no better utility than a tracker app on an iPhone. Really worse, since I never leave the house without my phone, and have pockets where the phone lives when I’m doing things like washing my hands.

It gets worse though…it turns out 75% of the features they list on the box are only available with an additional yearly subscription. The longer I have it, the less impressed I am.

It does have a nice physical design though.

The TrustE seal of eh-whatever

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

The foreseeable downward spiral of KlearGear is to be expected.  Any business that thinks crafting a legal clause in their TOS for fining bad reviewers is straight up telling you that they intend to provide poor service, and worse support.  Won’t be missed.

TrustE’s completely apathetic response is the more annoying aspect of the drama.  If they were worth the bits they are printed with, anyone using a trustE seal improperly would be taken to court, or settled out of court, with terms that allowed TrustE to trumpet their successes.  The tweet they would send wouldn’t be a toothless promise of an investigation (a process which according to their own website, stops at “we sent them a letter”), but something like, “Kaching! incoming settlement for fraudulent use of our logo.  What should we spend it on, ping pong table or Foosball?”

Then again, it’s not like I’ve ever seen a trustE seal and gone, “oh now I’ll do business with this shady looking skeeze”.  I’ve never heard of them ever doing anything.  They show up in my mind in the same space as those old webring badges, “member top 100 blah blah blahs”.  OK, sure, whatever.

Wal-Mart isn’t hiring the best programmers it would seem

Friday, November 29th, 2013

More likely, it’s some non-technical ‘inventory specialist’ that screwed things up, but either way, their system refuses to let you order a memory card to be shipped to your home, with a bogus claim that Washington state regulations prevent it.  It could be a simple error in setting up the product, or it could be a deliberate attempt to get online buyers into a physical store, in hopes of selling them unrelated stuff.  Either way, it is annoying and glaring sign of incompetence during the biggest retail time of the year.

iOS7 wastes millions of hours

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I am still working my way through iOS7’s changes, but I’ve already found at least one item that seems like a horrifically anti-end-user attack on one’s most precious resource, time. When unlocking the phone or returning to the homepage, you are now forced to sit through a silly animation of all your icons flying into the screen from the sides. I’m not going to sit down and time it exactly, but let’s be generous and say it only wastes 1 second per iteration. The problem is it is an operation you will be doing lots, so the waste starts to add up. At a conservative 60 times per day, you end up wasting 36.5 hours of your life over the course of a year, waiting on a lame tech demo to finish. Multiply that by the millions of iPhone users, and Apple is directly responsible for destroying thousands of man-years of human life, life that could have been spent doing worthwhile, or at least enjoyable, activities. But instead, we are all forced to watch the same animation again and again, for no purpose, to provide no value to the end user. Hell, it’s not like Apple even gets any useful data out of this; they literally just decided to waste millions of peoples’ time, just to stroke the ego of some internal developer.

There ought to be a mandatory set of ethics for embedded developers who will impact millions of lives, which includes “don’t waste people’s lives just to make a new developer toy”.

Appropriate Force

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Most of the time, I’m against forcing adults to do things.  But not always.

In designing a website, I think force should be applied frequently.  I’ll explain….

 

If you, for example, are building an e-commerce site, and are going to use a payment processor that requires shipping and billing information to match exactly, don’t put up two sets of fields and a warning that they must match.  Put up one set of fields, and one set of display-only fields that mimic whatever you typed into the first fields.  You avoid setting up your customers for failure, yet still salve the angst of the product manager who whines, “but people expect billing and shipping fields”.

At least that’s how I would do it.  But not a certain someone I visited today….and go figure, their system failed to work anyways, no matter what I tried.

Usually a Richard Branson company has better tech people than that, I’m surprisingly disappointed.