Corporate Inanity

This is going to be short because well I don’t do long rants. But my ISP, SFR, is a steaming pile of shit. We’ve been using them for almost 7 years, and even longer if you count that the company they bought, Neuf, bought AOL France. They’ve been shedding customers left and right (up to 4 million/year) and now I can see why.

So a few weeks ago we received an SMS saying the bill hasn’t been paid. Not too strange, we normally wait until the last minute because we have 2 mobiles and internet with them, easier to pay them when all the bills arrive rather than one this week and another 2-3 weeks later. So bill paid, done. The next day the phone doesn’t work. Call support and the rep says he’ll take care of it, gives us credits, and it should be sorted in a few days. 10 days later the phone is still not sorted, but we weren’t using it and simply forgot about it. 3 days ago the internet was turned off. Called SFR again and the reps were completely useless as they say the internet has been turned off because the bill wasn’t paid. But the bill was paid. “okay, it will take a few days, up to 72 hours. In the meantime you can go to the Agence SFR and get a 3G dongle until its turned on.” So the misses marches down to the agence and they can’t give it to here because we haven’t paid the bill. .

Apparently none of the reps can fix the situation. We’ve already accumulated over 6 months worth of credit with all the calling, complaining, and glad handling. We’ll use that free internet to close the account, find the nearest office to drop off their equipment, and search for a new ISP.

I’m still boggled it takes 72 hours to “turn on internet.” I can order a Macbook from Shanghai and it will be here in 24 hours, more or less. For some companies, the digital economy is a buzzword in their PR releases and not something they grasp all that well internally.

Amazon EC2 and surprises

I’ve been running this blog on the micro instance of amazon EC2 for a few months now and I’m still trying my best to optimize it. The first month wasn’t so bad; I moved all the content, reattached the databases and redirected the domain name. I was in for about 7€ that month. The second month was more but I assumed a private instance should cost about 20€. There were a ton of problems. MySQL and apache were being stopped due to not enough memory or not enough swap. And sometimes the site would be completely unresponsive. This month, now that the site is getting more traffic, the bill was $30. Almost twice what I expected to pay for micro instance.

I’ve converted this server to a reserve instance. It should have been more clear when I signed up that this would be a smarter option I’d it was going to be running 24-7. But c’est la vie.

Invasion from abroad

Twice today I read almost the same article on the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. The article was reporting on the weak dollar bringing in loads of tourists from abroad. Most cosmopolitan cities are expensive. The short list is Moscow, Tokyo, London, Paris. New York has been pushed down somewhere in 20s which means it just that affordable. But it’s become a summer and travel right. Just about everyone has a similar strategy of flying to New York City with an empty or partly filled suitcase and loading it up. I’ve only done this once on a trip to Miami because I had most of my clothes in my closet at my parents’ house. Even when we were there I felt a little guilty buying semi-expensive things. Gadgets I wouldn’t normally look at until they were on sale became much more affordable. Hell even my student loans don’t appear to be the “dreaded, monthly evisceration of our bank account”.
But in the long run this will be a good reminder to the US that things won’t always remain constant. It can happen where one day you won’t be on top. And it’s starting to reveal it’s way to a lot of Americans. The precarious position they are in on an international scope. When the dollar was weak loosing value against the euro it was easily cast off as temporary, just inflation on the european central bank. But as Canada, Australia, and other nations have risen against the dollar at the same rate we’ve come to realize the dollar has actually been weakening.
No matter what the talking heads tell you, when planeloads of tourists start arriving from war torn central asian countries, you’ve entered a new era.

SO is that what it was

After weeks of screwing around with this laptop and thinking I was having a software problem. I blew away my windows partition. Twice. Installed Ubuntu and then Fedora Core Linux. I was still out of a fully functional laptop. I even went as far booting various LiveCDs and scanning the hardware and hard drive for errors. But this problem would still persist. The keyboard and mouse would lockup after a few minutes and be unrecoverable. Well now I’m back on Windows Vista…Basic. After using Business for a few weeks late last year I was hardly getting anything done. Click and wait was the operation of the day. Basic is supposed to be the lighter brethren of all things Vista. And frankly it’s marginally better. Lots of features have been dropped in the name of making you pay more for the slightly better and resource intensive Premium. Turns out the same thing did happen. But after poking around on the internet I found other people who had the same problem.

Turns out there is a bug in Acer laptops. A bug where when the battery goes kaput it manages to lock the keyboard and causes hellish amount of problems. All this from a fooking battery? I should really slap the taste out of the engineers mouth that managed to let this slip by. I should also slap the design team for integrating the rubber standoffs into the battery. In my case I can’t use it and I can’t through it away unless I also enjoy trying to work on a three legged square table. You see the battery holds the ass end of the laptop up. And there you have it. The worlds largest manufacturer of portable PCs couldn’t bother to think what would happen if someone tried to use the PC without the battery in the by. In other words "Get a Mac".

I’ll finally do it

I’ve been here for atleast 2 years. I’ve been in Paris for a little less than that. tomorrow I’ll be taking a trip home with my family to see my family. I’m that cousin that everyone sees every few years. Before Paris it was college. and before college I was busy preparing for college. While Costa Brava was fun nothing takes place of seeing grandma and mom. Mac will see his cousins and will know he has 2 grandmas, and a great-grandma. I’ll visit my friends, and see the places I used to hang out as an old Miami head. And I’ll see how my favorite city has changed since the last time I was there.
I’ll also be interested in how the housing market has changed. When I left, the price of property was eclipsing the salary of what people could afford. Before leaving I was looking but saw that there was nothing I could afford on the salary I was getting paid. I also learned that people were taking exotic loans to afford the McMansions they were buying. It’s funny, but Paris is even more expensive than Miami but the salaries are better and the price of property is more. But there is nothing like living in building built by true craftsmen of their time. From my window I stare out to another building (a pied-a-terre) that resembles mine, but the similarity stops there. The iron bars, balcony, and window decorations are all different. Some have faces of angels sculpted into the shelf that supports the balcony while others have flowers. My living room has a fireplace with an oval window above the fireplace. Created by an architect that used skillful ductwork to move the flue along. Between Miami, Paris, and New York there is quite nothing like any of them.

When things don’t work

I got a new notebook a few weeks ago. I’m putting it through its paces and so far its been doing well. An Acer is what it is. With the bright screen and French keyboard. and all the other goodness. Like I said I’m putting it throught the paces and decided to play one of the songs I purchased on iTunes. Thats my mistake. Since it can’t reach the server to authenticate my license to play this stupid song. I paid for it. I want to hear it. right? wrong. Sorry, “iTunes could not connect to the Music Store.” And this is why I don’t agree with DRM infested music.

When bad things happen

I’m home this weekend. I was contacted by my family. car accident. so I’m leaving in a few hours to see moms. I haven’t seen her in a long time.

SPUM

Spam, spammers and the people that are involved with them are scum. I’ve been getting a lot of usage on the blog lately. I found out it was some link spammers bouncing traffic off my site to get their pageranks higher. I was also updating the CMS and with all the junk in the system it made it tough to get anything done.
Many hours later I got the pollution out, kept my sanity and now I’m on the latest edition of movabletype.

Why it sucks to be sick

uhhhhh. Every bone and muscle in my body is aching at the moment. It hurts to talk, and laughing makes me see lights. Being sick sucks. I’m breaking a rule by even being here. K said to stay in bed and away from the computer. Now my head is swimming from all the crazy stuff I’ve been drinking. Being sick sucks, I know I said it but I just want to reiterate. And Joe never gets sick, not recently anyway.

Sensibility

After having to live in the wake of 9/11 hysteria. Congress finally listened to the voting public and cancelled the renewal of the Patriot Act. I have waited for this for a long time. And for those that did not pass US Gov’t in Highschool. An act is a law that has to be renewed at an agreed interval for it to remain valid.
Hopefully congress is getting wiser and won’t replace it with something more draconian.
We can only hope.