Dear Financial Services Company

You suck.

No, you REALLY suck. Your website sucks. Your phone service sucks. The fact that I have a problem with your website and your “customer service” is automated and keeps telling me to go back to it sucks. Why on earth would I ever give you another dime of my money?

I could tell you which company this was, but honestly I’ve had problems like this with several of them.

Jakob Nielsen has written a top ten list of blog mistakes

and like his top ten web mistakes, this is a must read.

Here is the article on alertbox

As usual, there are some things I agree with and will think about doing:

  • Author Biography and photo
  • Classic hits are buried
  • Mixing topics

Some things that don’t work for me:

  • nondescript titles (this makes sense for my other blogs, but not for this one)

Some things I’m already doing (I think):

  • links say where they go
  • The calendar is the only navigation
  • Irregular posting schedule
  • Forgetting that you write for your future boss
  • having a domain name owned by a blogging service

The problem is that fixing these mistakes is also an issue for the blogging software writers (unlike his web mistakes list). iBlog will let me fix some of this. I can certainly create new blogs and add biographic info to my templates. The classics are a little tougher, but still possible.

I think the one thing I’m missing that would address some of this is the ability to generate RSS feeds for each category instead of the blog as a whole. This way if you only want my restaurant reviews, you can just subscribe to that feed. I think that is actually better than creating a dozen different blogs for everything I may want to ever discuss since each one would get updated pretty sporadically…

Damn you spammers are good

I love seeing the new spammers techniques

I’ve had the same e-mail address for 10+ years now. I had it long before the first spam was ever sent and while I’ve added new secret and non-published e-mail addresses over the years, I still read mail at my old address which has become a spam honey pot getting several hundred spams a day. Entourage does a decent enough job of catching it, but I still need to check out that junk mail folder to see if it caught something it shouldn’t have. I sort my junk mail folder by subject (since sender is usually something made up anyway), so I constantly get to see what new tricks the spammers are up to in their titles, trying to get you to read them. Sure, you get the “Hey Joe! Read This!” kind of stuff, and then you get the zillion different spellings of Viagra and Pharmacy and Cialis. For a while they were just using random combinations of 2 or 3 words which led to some really cool post-modern band names (the best of which I’ve been keeping in a file for my next musical venture). Then they moved on to random sentences from books. Now they are using random sentences from CNN or something because it is very topical. Being a news junkie myself I have to admit being tempted to open a few of these since they aren’t too different from the various e-mail news alerts I get.

I’ve found that if I can’t be amused by the spammers, I might as well just get off the internet once and for all. They’re like dung beetles or cockroaches.

The failure of the Bush administration

what will damn the Bush administration in the history books

This week the numbers revealed that one of George Bush’s main policy initiatives, The No Child Left Behind Act, was making school performance worse, not better. Add to this his fiscal policy which has resulted in causing a debt that will take decades to repay and one thing becomes clear: The worst thing that happened to the Republican party and George Bush’s presidency was his re-election. Bush has been in office long enough that his many failures have become obvious even to the die-hards of the Republican party. Who can the Republican’s blame? They control 2 of the three branches of government and are finishing their takeover of the third. The stupidest of the non-Haliburton executive officers can see that the country is in much worse shape that it was in 2000. You can only blame the terrorists for so long before people start asking why we haven’t caught Osama.

Nope, the one thing that would have saved the Republican party was a John Kerry election, because then they could have come out swinging in 2006 and 2008 blaming all of George Bush’s failures on him.

You know that they will put the blame on someone else, the question now is who? Will the 2008 elections still be about 9/11? Or will they be about Syria? Maybe if the dems take back the house in 2006, the Republicans can blame them so that they can get another Republican president in…

iTunes 6

a humble review

I’ve been a happy iTunes user for years now. When iTunes 4.9 came out, I ditched iPodderX because even though iTunes wasn’t as powerful, it was nicely integrated. Then iTunes 5 came out with the Nano and it looked ugly and didn’t have anything of interest to me, plus there were lots of reports of bugs. So I decided to wait. Now iTunes 6 is out and I decided that the folders were worth upgrading for. And they are, mostly.

I don’t know why they decided to make their interface uglier, but they did. They didn’t make it less (or more) useful, they just made it less pleasant and I’m not sure why.

The folders for your playlists are nice, but it would be nicer if you could drag multiple playlists at once into them. It took forever to organize my playlists dragging them one at a time into folders.

The video tab is ok. I like it better than having my video in the middle of my music collection (oh wait, it still is).

I actually like having my podcasts in my iTunes library, that is the way we did it in the old days kids and it let us do nice organization of them and actually have them play after one another instead of jumping back to the main menu. With the podcasts in the main library though you really want some of the iPodderX features like playlist generation for podcasts and being able to override the genres on download.

So, am I happy that I switched to iTunes 6, not especially. Maybe eventually. If you’re on iTunes 4.9 and you don’t plan on buying video soon, I’d wait.

Apple’s big announcement

some observations…

I’m surprised that they aren’t selling the remote and Front Row software as part of iLife. The eMac has disappeared. The iMac is really being pushed at the high school/college/graduated-but-living-in-a-studio-apartment set. I was surprised that they didn’t add a TV-in to the iMac as well. I think some of the fake video iPod designs are more interesting than the actual one. Steve shouldn’t have made a big deal about the video in the iPod because he is right that not many people will be using it. The cool thing about the new iPod to me is that it is thinner and that the battery lasts longer. I don’t really need that 2.5″ video viewing experience and if I wanted it, I would use my PSP for that since it has a wide screen. Also, if this is the year of HD for Apple, why is the new iPod still firmly stuck in the 4:3 world? Selling videos and TV shows in iTunes, great, long overdue. $1.99 is a great price for a TV show, but videos shouldn’t be any more expensive than songs. Also, it sucks because a lot of record companies used to post their videos on their websites so that you could download them for free. Guess that is over. Soon we will be able to rip our DVDs to big disks just like we do for our CDs (I know a lot of people are already, but for me either the compression or the disk space needs to improve enough that you still get decent quality when you project it).

I think that the biggest disappointment for me was that there were no new Powerbooks or Powermacs introduced. I (and many people I know) are waiting for the last rev of the G4/G5 high-end machines to buy before the MacTel switch. I know that Apple’s inventory is getting low… C’mon Steve, help us out over here!