Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bait and Switch

How ironic. Shortly after posting a blurb about reputation terrorists, I was reminded, the hard way, how helpful it can be to review a seller's reputation before entering into a transaction. Here is the story:

I attempted to buy a camcorder on the internet. Using Froogle, I found an on-line reseller that was 25% cheaper than Amazon. Shame on me. I should have looked VIP Camera up on ResellerRatings.com first... The following story is identical to mine:

I ordered the camera using my credit card billing address as my shipping address to insure the order didn't have any problems. I do order a lot of items on line. I got a prompt email telling me my order was being processed. Then I got another email asking me to contact customer support to verify my order. I thought OK these guys are careful, I like that. When I called customer support the person verified my order then went on to ask me which battery I wanted with my order. I was confused because the website did mention two batteries options. I quickly figured out the person was trying to get me to upgrade my battery and increase my order sales amount. He seems upset when I declined the upgraded and more expensive battery. And was indignant when I didn't wish to purchase an extended warranty. After our conversation a fourth email advised me my order was now (since I didn't order anything else) a 4 to 6 week back order.

I canceled my order, of course. Turns out VIP Camera got 27 reviews on ResellerRatings.com (all of them negative) and earned a reputation score of ZERO out of 10. Using ResellerRatings.com again, I found a reseller who scored 8.89 over 472 reviews. Their prices are good, although not as low as the bait and switch artists at VIP Camera. That's where I ended up buying my gear.

Lesson learned: the internet is the best of places and the worst -- use it cautiously.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Digital Naders: Reputation Terrorists

Apple's iPod, McDonald's menu, the Presidential elections, Microsoft's software and French imports - to find out what they have in common, read about Determined Detractors in today's NYT.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Let My Textiles Go

Got to love this headline for the New York Times editorial last Thursday.

... The agreement gives Egypt duty-free access to some parts of the United States textile market if those products include some Israeli content. So it forces Egypt and Israel to work together... It's a small step for Target and Victoria's Secret, but potentially a giant step toward peace in our time.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Carla Bruni & Le Divorce

Last night we watched (TiVo'ed HBO) Le Divorce, an American French coproduction. It takes place in Paris and contrasts the pseudo-sophistication of French aristocracy with American common (should I say lowbrow ;-) sense. The soundtrack includes Quelqu'un m'a dit, a beautiful song by, no less beautiful, ex-model Carla Bruni. I first heard of Bruni, and listened to her songs, on an NPR broadcast last month. The broadcast is available on the web, listen to it here.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

AIPAC Dinner

I'm in Santa Clara for an Annual AIPAC Dinner. The keynote by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) is very inspirational. He suggested that a small percentage of Saudi oil revenue could go a long way to help peaceful Palestinian initiatives. Will Saudis put money where their mouth is?

Now he's speaking about a terror-supporting nuclear Iran. He rules out a preemptive strike or outright occupation. He's pessimistic about diplomatic efforts. What options are left then?

Sent from my mobile phone

Joke for nerds

I've just came across this nerdy joke on the web. If you are an עתודאי (Atuda = Israel ROTC), click here - it will make you laugh. If you're not - you should probably abstain.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

To my parents, Ayn Rand and God - The Oxford Comma

We had an interesting argument while reviewing some screen mockups at work, today. I had always thought using a comma before the word "and" was a mistake. Turns out that, in America, it isn't -- it's even a recommended practice.

For a fascinating overview, read Wikipedia's entry for the Oxford Comma.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

In What Ways is the West Superior?

I came across this political statement by accident, when searching the web for an answer to something purely technical:
The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do. (Samuel P. Huntington, 1996)
Maybe true. But couldn't it be that the West's superiority in applying organized violence stems from its values? I believe that freedom and capitalism helped foster societies, economies and technologies capable of - among other things - applying efficient organized violence.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Today a Phone, Tomorrow a Sunflower

Reuters ran a story today about a Phone That Turns Into a Sunflower: Scientists have come up with a cell phone cover that will grow into a sunflower when thrown away. The phone cover contains a sunflower seed, which will feed on the nitrates that are formed when the polymer cover turns to waste.

I guess I don't live in California long enough to appreciate this type of useless, so-called environment friendly, stupid developments.
"Some 650 million mobile phones will be sold this year, and most of them will be thrown away within two years, burdening the environment with plastics, heavy metals and chemicals. A biodegradable cover can offer some relief for nature."

Aren't those 650 million phones a drop in our waste bucket?
What will we do with all these sunflowers?!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

French Police Misplace Explosives on Jet

AP (Sat, Dec 04): French Police Misplace Explosives on Jet

French police deliberately placed plastic explosives into a passenger's luggage Friday evening but a 'momentary lack of surveillance' led to the bag being lost on a conveyor belt.

Police at Paris' top airport lost track of a passenger's bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday.

More than 300 passengers were evacuated and their luggage searched when their Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle arrived in Los Angeles late Friday the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Two Air France and one American Airlines flight to Paris were also searched in New York City, TSA spokesman Norm Brewer said. No explosives were found on any of the flights.
As they say in French: Chapeau!

Maurizio Cattelan, Outlaw

Le Monde, the French daily, is now hosting blogs - mixing blogs written by their own journalists with reader authored blogs.

I came across this gem in a blog titled "do not fold" authored by independent journalist Virgine Luc:

Click here for a larger picture.

I found more works by, and a bio of, Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

Friday, December 03, 2004

'Master/slave' Most Politically Incorrect Phrase

(Reuters - Dec 3) - The computer term 'master/slave,' which was banned as racially offensive by a Los Angeles County purchasing department, was named the most politically incorrect term of the year on Thursday.
In computer terminology, "master/slave" refers to primary and secondary hard disk drives. But a Los Angeles county purchasing department told vendors in late 2003 that the term was offensive and violated the region's cultural diversity. The county's department of affirmative action undertook a hunt to replace it on packages.
Also on the list this year were "Red Sox lover," to use in place of "Yankee hater," "progressive" for classical liberal, "incurious" rather than more impolite invectives for President Bush, "insurgents" instead of terrorists in Iraq, "baristas" for waiters, and "first year student" rather than freshman.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

What if it's not Israel they loathe?

The Jerusalem Post ran an interesting article by Amir Taheri yesterday, here's a single paragraph that nicely summarizes it:
Conventional wisdom also insists that the US is hated by Muslims because it is pro-Israel. That view is shared by most American officials posted to the Arab capitals. But is it not possible that the reverse is true - that Israel is hated because it is pro-American?
This might be an exaggeration but Taheri uses several good examples to build his case.

A reason to blog

A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away.
--- Phyllis McGinley

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Comments are enabled again

Turns out there was no bug with blogger.com but an issue with my Norton Firewall settings. All OK now.

Please feel free to comment, I'm only erasing spam -- not criticisms...

'Suge' Knight Eyed in Vibe Brawl

Quick, without reading below. Can you make anything of this headline?!

If it's Chinese to you -- don't worry, you are just as unhip as I am.


Yahoo! News - Report: 'Suge' Knight Eyed in Vibe Brawl: "LOS ANGELES - Police and probation officials have been reviewing video of the melee at the Vibe Awards show to determine if rap producer Marion 'Suge' Knight played a role in the altercation. "

From which we can deduce:
  • Suge Knight is the name of a rap producer
  • Vibe is shorthand for the Vibe Awards show
  • Apparently there was a fight at this ceremony

CNET / Esther Dyson's Accountable Net

I'm in San Francisco at this CNET "breakfast". Richard is on the panel and
is doing an absolutely marvelous job.

Symantec's Chairman and CEO, John Thompson is constantly agreeing with
Richard - prodding Esther to ask: "Are you going to buy Goodmail?"

More later...

Sent from my mobile phone


Back to the office now. This was really, really positive for Goodmail. Here's a couple of pictures: