The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: July 2013

The moment that sealed Walter White’s demise: S04E05 42:14

In season 4, episode 5 of Breaking Bad, Hank had given up on finding Heisenberg because he thought Gale was the genius chemist.  Walt, however, couldn’t stand the idea of someone else taking credit for his work, so he told Hank that Gale was nothing more than a copier of someone else’s great work.  Hubris, pure and simple.  Walt should have been over the moon that Hank was off the case for good.

I’m so looking forward to August 11th, when the first of the last eight episodes premiers.  Bring it on!


I curse the day I bought an Xbox 360 (not for the reasons you think, either)

It’s not because my son plays too much, or the content is too violent, or anything like that.  It’s that I have to deal with this incredibly frustrating system Microsoft has created.  The latest saga:

My son wanted to purchase some DLC (DownLoadable Content).  In this case it was an add-on for Assassin’s Creed III.  We have several profiles on our Xbox.  One for me, the credit card holding adult, and one for my son.  So, to purchase the DLC we used my profile.  During the purchase, my son was smart enough to verify that the purchase, once made, could be used by any profile on the Xbox.  He scrolled through the description and pointed it out to me.  It said it there in black and white.  I was satisfied, too.  So, we make the purchase as me, then he switched to his profile and started the game.  The purchased DLC was not there.  We fiddled with it for an hour.  My son was obsessed with it, and two hours after that I found he was still trying to get it to work.  So, I lost 1 hour and he lost 3 hours.  FUCK UP #1.

Today, I’m staring at this email from Microsoft where they confirmed the purchase of “400 Microsoft Points” (the currency with which you make purchases on an Xbox).  I’m thinking, “I really want a refund” so I go searching on xbox.com for some sort of link to call them.  I go to xbox.com and click on “Support.”  I finally find “Contact us” and click on that, and I see “Step 1: What type of issue are you having?”  I click on “Billing and memberships” and I don’t see a Step 2 or anything.  I fiddle for a while and then it dawns on me: I’ll bet their website is broken with Chrome.  So, I switch to IE and yeah, I see a Step 2.  FUCK UP #2.

I choose “Chat” for Step 2.  I wait a while and the chat starts.  I’ll spare you the details, but 20 minutes later I’m no closer to getting my refund than when I started.  FUCK UP #3.

The above is just one of many interactions I’ve had with my Xbox.  It’s not the worst nor is it the most time consuming.  It is merely the latest.

I will never buy another gaming console from Microsoft.  Ever.  I value my time and my serenity too much.

UPDATE 8/29/13: so, I sign into my xbox.com account today and I see I have a message.  I click on the letter icon and I see “You can read this message on your Xbox 360.” WTF? Really? Two words Microsoft: user experience. You are killing me.

The reason  I went to xbox.com was because of this: I received an email that I need to convert my current “Xbox Live Gold Family Pack” to something else.  You would think that once I sign into my account on xbox.com I could find a place to do that.  Well, after 10 minutes of clicking around in “My Account” I can’t find anything that references this issue.  Again, WTF Microsoft?!  I’ll just finish by asking this simple question: what would Apple do?  I’ll bet they’d fucking nail this.

Google doesn’t really care about the horrible bugs that cause you pain

In the earlier days of using Google wares, I feel they were responsive to feedback and would fix serious problems in their services or products.  These days, not so much.  Witness the Nexus 4.  Their flagship Android phone, the Nexus 4 should get the best Google has to offer.  So, why would they allow serious software defects to mar the experience of owning a Nexus 4?

Notifications over Wi-Fi don’t work when the phone goes to sleep!  This is a horrible, horrible bug.  It means you won’t get notified of emails or texts when your phone is sleeping.  Which is most of the time, as we all know.  This bug is been around since the N4 came out.  Still unresolved, though this issue is marked “Closed” and “Status: FutureRelease,” the latter of which presumably means it will be fixed in the future.

Bluetooth often stops working and requires the phone to be rebooted to fix it!  Bluetooth is an essential feature for many, and having to reboot your phone (which takes minutes!) is not a viable workaround.

Originally reported on 1/3/2013, these are just two of the bugs on the N4.  However, they are both serious enough to warrant an immediate Android update.  Android 4.2.2 was released since Google was made aware of these bugs, and they were not fixed in that release.  Android 4.3 was released yesterday, so we’ll see if Google has decided to fix these major defects, or not.

These are not the only serious defects that Google is ignoring.  Another example is my Chromebook: for nearly a month Google Docs didn’t work on the thing.  Then, one day, it magically started working again.  A Chromebook without Google Docs is pretty useless.  Can you imagine Microsoft breaking Office for a month?  Can you imagine the cries for the heads of Microsoft executives you’d hear on the internet?  I found other users in my same boat, but I saw little else.

These issues all illustrate my point that Google doesn’t  care about you or your user experience.  You are a product to Google, you are not the customer.  I don’t know who said this, but it bears repeating: if you aren’t paying for a service, then you are the product not the customer.

I’ll end with this: I have a Galaxy Nexus and I was waiting to upgrade to the next Nexus device.  At this point, I’m not sure I want to stay with the Nexus line.  There are many benefits, but the drawbacks are getting dramatically worse with each new Nexus device.

UPDATE 7/26/2013: It appears at least the Wi-Fi bug is not fixed in the newly released 4.3.

UPDATE 7/28/2013: I’ve noticed this on my phone: search sometimes doesn’t search.  I get the feeling Google just doesn’t do much testing.

UPDATE 8/9/2013: The Bluetooth bug is fixed in 4.3.

Hal Lasko: 97-year-old MSPaint wiz kid

I’m going to let this speak for itself:

Windows 8: Worst Windows EVER

Here’s my Windows 8 story.  It’s a sad tale, because it shows how far Microsoft has fallen.

The preview versions of Windows 8 were unbelievable, in the sense that I never thought they’d actually release it “as is.”  I thought for sure they would back off on the tablet user interface (UI) for all types of hardware.  They didn’t.  Windows 8, whether you run it on a headless server, tablet or desktop computer, has the same UI.  Windows 8 was definitely designed with tablets in mind, however.  The proof of this is that I once got an error message and it said to “swipe” the dialog away, or some such.  I don’t remember the exact message, but I do remember very vividly yelling at Windows that my computer was not a tablet.

Since I help run a software company, I felt someone needed to use Windows 8 so we could find potential problems with our software and the new operating system.  No one seemed keen to try it so I volunteered.  So, I chose to upgrade my Windows 7 desktop, the machine I spend 8+ hours a day using.  When I’m at home I use Windows Remote Desktop to remote into my work machine.  I use this machine a lot.

Everyone has talked about the Start Menu disappearing.  The truth is, this was monumentally stupid of Microsoft to do this.  I knew about Classic Shell, but I resolved to try and use Windows 8 as intended, thinking it was merely a learning curve I had to get over.  The truth is, on a desktop computer with a mouse,  my sole experience with Windows 8, everything took longer than it did before.  Many, many clicks it takes to find stuff.  Even trying to organize the “tiles” on the Start screen (or whatever they call that) doesn’t work.  Why?  Because the position of tiles on that screen changes and you can’t memorize a position for a given tile.  Astoundingly stupid.

Microsoft decided to force everyone to use a tablet UI, even non-tablet users.  Perhaps they wanted a single code base.  I don’t know the reason.  But it was completely stupid to do this.  The new UI might be perfectly good on a tablet, but it sucks on a desktop computer or server.  After a few months, I relented and installed Classic Shell.  My life got a lot better after that, since I was actually able to get work done at the rate I expected.

By the way, there were news reports that Microsoft was going to restore the Start Menu in Windows 8.1.  It turns out they are false.  They aren’t restoring the Start Menu, they are adding a Start button that takes you to the Start screen (or whatever they call it).  That is not at all what users asked for, Microsoft.

The above is the main reason Windows 8 is horrible.  However, there are many other reasons.  In no particular order:

  • Because there is no notification area, it’s impossible to at-a-glance see if you have notifications.  Like, for example, Windows Updates needing to be installed.  How does Microsoft solve this?  By taking over the entire screen and making you decide “install” or “cancel.”  There are problems with this approach:
    • Once dismissed, it doesn’t come back for weeks, sometimes.  Out of sight, out of mind.
    • Finding the updates takes a lot of clicking.  Without Classic Shell it would be even more.  This makes it even more likely users will not install them.
  • Yesterday I had 23 Windows Updates waiting to be installed.  I started the install and it was finished very quickly.  I rebooted and I was back in business.  A few minutes after I started working I got the familiar take-over-the-screen-because-you-have-updates thing.  Wait, I just installed them!  OK, must be a new one just came out.  Windows Defender or something.  I go into Windows Update and find there are 20 updates sitting there.  OK, I install and reboot.   This time I check immediately to see if there are any updates.  17 remaining.   It took me 5 install/reboot cycles to install all the Windows Updates, for a total of more than 30 minutes while I couldn’t work.  THANK YOU, Microsoft.   Oh, don’t think this is a new Windows Update feature.  I updated a Windows Server 2008 machine with 20 updates and it happened in a single install/reboot cycle.
  • Occasionally, I’ll be furiously typing and my left hand will slip and I type some sequence involving the Windows key.  My desktop is replaced with a blue screen, but not the start screen.  I get these giant icons in the middle of it.  Every time it happens it takes me minutes to recover (i.e., to get back to my desktop) and each time my blood pressure is double what it was before.
  • I had to change the association of jpg and png files because clicking on them goes into a similar now-you-see-the-blue-screen hell I just described.
  • About once a month, I run into this bug: the Z order gets messed up and the “show the desktop” item gets pegged at the top of the Z order.  The Z order is the order in which items appear to Alt Tab.  Switching to a window puts it at the top of the Z order.  You can switch between the top two items in the Z order by alternately doing Alt Tab. Infrequently used windows filter toward the bottom of the Z order.  You might not have heard of this, but your brain uses it every time you use Windows.    This is the way Windows users have been doing things for decades.  Well, the bug in question causes Alt Tab to minimize all applications and show the desktop.  That’s right, you’re furiously working away and Alt Tab to get to that other window and BAM! you’re looking at your empty desktop.  The only fix I’ve found is to close all  windows and log out.
  • After upgrading my Windows 7 to Windows 8 I had the first BSOD that I can remember.  I uninstalled a bunch of software (including my anti-virus program) and it never happened again.

I know there are more annoyances, so I’ll probably come back to this post and update it when I remember new items.

All of this adds up to one thing: in the run up to releasing Windows 8, Microsoft didn’t give a shit about their users and foisted this new UI upon us for reasons that had nothing to do with our desires or productivity.

There are some things I like about Windows 8.  Alt Tab, when it works, shows you the window you would switch to if you were to let go of the keyboard chord.  Also, the Remote Desktop server in Windows 8 doesn’t have the bug that XP and 7 had that totally used to screw me over about once a month: for no apparent reason, RDP would go into “slow” mode, as if my internet connection (which is definitely fine) had slowed to a crawl.  The only known fix for this was to log out and log in again, then reconnect with the RDP client.  Because it was in a slow mode, this sometimes took a long time. I have not seen this bug since switching to Windows 8.

Couldn’t I just have this one bug fix and new feature added to Windows 7?  I’d be a huge Windows and Microsoft booster, if that had happened.  As it is, for my home system, I’m considering switching from Windows to Mac OS X next year.  I never thought I’d utter those words, but I really can’t see upgrading to Windows 8 or any successor.

On that “Farm” bill

Let me get this straight.  It’s OK to increase subsidies to corporate farms (there are few small, struggling farmers that  get subsidies anymore), while at the same time eliminating food stamps.  One kind of assistance is OK, to corporations and wealthy individuals.  One kind of assistance is bad, to hungry, poor people.

If this is some sort of game, it’s a pretty sick one.  If it’s not a game, it’s clear the GOP members in the House of Representatives have no soul.  Either way, disgusting.

UPDATE: 7/16/13

Bob Schieffer: “You pass a farm bill in the House. It gives billions of dollars, much of it to large corporations that own farms. It’s almost like welfare for the wealthy. But you don’t include a dollar for hungry people for Food Stamps. What kind of a message is that you’re sending?”

Finally someone asking the proper question.

Koch wages war against the minimum wage

Charles Koch has spent $200,000 media campaign to… well, let’s see it in his own words:

The point of it, Koch said, is that he believes prosperity grows where economic freedom is greatest, where government intervention in business affairs is kept to a minimum.  He hopes his ideas will help the country grow, he said. In his interview he emphasized several times that he believes his ideas on economics will help disadvantaged people. Government regulations – including the minimum wage law – tend to hold everyone back, he said.

Show of hands: does anyone believe that the minimum wage, as low as it is, is a rightful burden on businesses?  We already know that Wal-Mart came out publicly for an increase n the minimum page, not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they already paid workers more than the minimum wage and an official raising of it would hurt competitors that had lower wages.  Of course, recently in the news Wal-Mart is opposing a real living wage in D.C., so it’s clear the previous support was truly about self interest, not about helping workers.

Look, the minimum wage is just that.  Look at these statistics:

  • The federal minimum wage would be $10.71 instead of $7.25 if it had kept up with inflation, over the last 40 years.
  • $15,080: 1 year of minimum wage.
  • $2.13: the federal minimum wage for tipped employees (e.g., waiters, parking attendants, etc).

In fact, the minimum wage is so low that 19 states have a state minimum higher than the federal one.

What blows me away is the position of Koch.  In the 80’s he was for trickle-down economics.  How’d that work out for us?  Not so well.  I’m sure Koch knows that tickle-down economics is a load of BS and all I’m left with is that he is one of the greediest people on earth, since his net worth is an estimate $43 billion.

We should care because there are a lot of people in this country that are easily swayed by disingenuous political maneuvering.  The entire Fox News network is a giant scam on the American people.  There’s an entire website dedicated to their lies.