Dear Airlines

yeah, those days are gonePlease make up your mind.

Either, enforce your rules about carry-on bags or make the overheads infinitely large.

“Two Bags only, one bag and one briefcase or purse” you announce over the loud speaker. Meanwhile, I’m walking down the jetway behind some other business traveler who has a roll-away large enough for me to fit into, a backpack, a briefcase, and a garment bag. I then have to watch him stuff them into TWO overheads, filling both. He then walks to the back of the plane where his seat actually is. So not only does everyone have to wait for him, but then, everyone else has to scramble for overhead space. Of course, he isn’t the only problem. Half the people are carrying on over-sized bags that either take an entire overhead compartment or most of one.

I fly enough now that this is really a pain in the ass. It leads to people trying to board early so that they can make sure that they can stuff their bags into the overhead. It makes the entire trip crappier for the rest of us, especially if we have to put something into the overhead. (my bag takes up 1/4 of an overhead, thank-you-very-much).

Sure, if you actually start enforcing your rules, it will be a painful transition, making it take longer to get people through the gate, and annoying those who think that their bag really can fit even though it can’t. Long term though, all your passengers will be much happier.

In the meantime, GFY.

ok Apple, now you are really starting to piss me off

At this point, I’m just used to the horror show that developing software for the mac is. But as a user, it has always been sweetness and light mostly and with Apple service, it has always been awesome.

Now, Apple is crossing the line. My 30 GB iPod photo is busted. It has been lovingly taken care of, never dropped, doesn’t have a scratch on it. The problem? Sometimes (not always), the buttons on the scroll wheel are treated like you are pressing the middle button instead. This will last for a while and then go back to working. However, when you are trying to pause your iPod and you just keep flipping between the song, the rating, the position, the cover art, etc… it can be insane making.

So I put the details into a service report and got a box delivered lickity-split. Score one for Apple service. 3 days later, I got a box back! Joy! Apple service would remain in my heart. Until I opened it and read the note that said, (I paraphrase) “works fine, no problems found”. When in my description, I had said that the problem was intermittent, so I hope they did more than try it out for half a second. They reformatted it, of course. I tried it and it seemed to work ok. So I loaded up my music onto it and was able to repro the problem again within 10 seconds. I didn’t update the OS of the iPod, I just put music onto it.

So, I sent it back, saying in my service report, “no really. you have to try it before reformatting it. It really does happen. It is intermittent.”

I just got it back. Same story. “works fine, no service performed”

So, now I have to drag my ass into the genius bar to get some pimply faced UW freshman to ask me stupid questions since there is no fucking phone number I can call to talk to anyone at Apple service. The net result of which will probably be that they drop the DHL box in the mail for me and I get it back reformatted AGAIN with no service performed.

It is this kind of crap that made me switch to Apple in the first place, and it will be this kind of crap that will make me switch again.

One more Bush administration scandal before bed

The firing of the US District attorneys has focused more attention on hiring practices across the justice department, and everything comes back to Monica Goodling, the 31 year old graduate of a law school founded by a televangelist that considers their main textbook to be the bible. She became the person in charge of hiring and firing in the justice deparment and she took it on to herself to make sure that only good republicans worked for the government. It didn’t matter if the position were political appointments or normal civil servant jobs. Intollerant of those who didn’t hold her views, she also took it upon herself to remove people she suspected were democrats. I’m delighted that she didn’t take the deal. I think she should serve jail time, along with Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush.

Colleagues Cite Partisan Focus by Justice Official (nytimes)

Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?”

Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.

And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

A warning for the Seattle real estate market

Las Vegas is growing significantly faster than the puget sound region, but that didn’t prevent a huge slide in prices due, in a big way, to flippers.

“We had seen real evidence of what was possible in this crazy, inflated market, and we just wanted to get a piece of that investment equity,” Schwartz said.

But when home prices unexpectedly took a backward step, many investors seeking to cash in quickly were left “upside-down,” or owing more on their mortgages than what their homes were worth.

The result was a glut of homes in the marketplace, communities spotted with empty houses and for sale signs — and a foreclosure rate in Nevada that leads the nation as owners unable to sell became saddled with unbearable debt payments.

Associated Press: Vegas flippers flop as market cools off

Yet more Bush administration incompetence and graft

I mean, c’mon when are going to do a real investigation here. Over and over, this administration shows that it has no regard for the public, only for it’s cronies.

On Spellings’ watch, the $6 billion federal initiative to improve literacy rates in disadvantaged schools appears to have served instead as a profit center for textbook authors and education consultants with ties to the Bush administration. Department officials and their consultants favored certain literacy texts and assessments over others for reasons other than pedagogical. One textbook author on leave from the University of Oregon while overseeing the federal National Center for Special Education Research testified before Congress that he earned $150,000 in annual royalties from an early-reading program. His co-author made a similar amount.

Seattle Times: Spelling’s Errors

The RIA battle heats up

Not content to let Adobe and Microsoft slug it out, Java and Firefox decide to enter the fray.
APC: Firefox to go head-to-head with Flash and Silverlight
CNET: Schwartz: JavaFX can take on Flash

I don’t think that this will amount to more than a distraction. JavaFX seems a bit like a mess. Reading over the docs, it is very awkward from a language perspective. Java devs don’t really need it. I could see it being more of a problem for Flex than Silverlight, only because I don’t really see a lot of the Java crowd embracing any Microsoft technology. That said, it is really aimed at the same target market that Silverlight is: developers. Flash devs aren’t switching to Java any time soon. Even Silverlight doesn’t seem to do much for them. I’m guessing that JavaFX may gain some success in the Java community, but I don’t see it peeling of Silverlight or Flex devs.

The main problem with Firefox is marketshare. Until they hit 95% of the browser market, why would anyone do something that would only work in that browser? I’m assuming that I’m missing something here.

Information week columnist succumbs to the Second Life hype

12 Things To Do In Second Life That Arent Embarrassing If Your Priest Or Rabbi Finds Out – Digital Life Blog – InformationWeek

I don’t want to dis Second Life too much. You gotta give it up to the Linden Labs folks for taking on a business that has an absolutely horrific track record with a string of failures. That said, I’m getting a bit tired of the hype. So when Mitch Wagner posted his article, I took a look at it. He talks about all the fun things to do in SL, most of which don’t sound new or even very exciting, but whatever. Then he decided to post his in-game pictures, and for me, the wheels fell off the wagon.

of this photo he says ” Times Square. Notice the steam rising from the sidewalk vent on the left.” What I notice is that no one is there. It’s empty. Doesn’t sound much like Times Square to me.

Here’s Amsterdam

Again, where are the people? I see 5 there including the author. How social is that?

I’ve got two problems with SL, both business related. Most of the company that the money has earned have been from virtual real estate sales. There are some real market dynamics problems here. Since this is virtual real estate, this can be a continuing source of revenue for the company since it can create more on demand. The problem is that the more real estate that the company produces, the less any existing real estate is worth. Since there is an active market in re-selling real estate in SL, this makes it harder to put any real price on any of the fictional land. Secondly, the more land that the company makes available the worse that the density of users to land is. This makes it harder for users to encounter each other and can make SL a very lonely place, which isn’t a very good experience.

The other main issue that I have is with the Linden Dollars model. This is also another source of revenue since there is a real exchange that the company brokers between Linden Dollars and real dollars. At this point, however, things get sketchy since it is in Linden’s best interest to continue to create as many Linden dollars as they can since they make a profit on each transaction. You then get into the real-world economic issues of inflation. The more popular that SL gets, the more real that this problem becomes.

I have seen some comments from Linden about this, and I don’t think that they are stupid. I know they have probably considered these issues. However, since their continued success relies on an ever larger revenue source, they will have a serious problem reconciling doing the right thing and doing what they need to do in order to keep the world going.

Is Microsoft still licensing PMC software? in microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter.portable

Is Microsoft still licensing PMC software? in microsoft.public.windows.mediacenter.portable

Microsoft is no longer licensing the PMC software. Here is an
announcement that was sent out last year to our PMC partners:

In early 2006, Microsoft released the second version of Windows Mobile
for Portable Media Centers to our partners. The second version of the
Portable Media Center software enhanced the end user experience and
enabled partners to build smaller, less expensive and more competitive
devices.

As part of the ongoing review of our product investments, we have
decided to take what we have learned from our investments in Portable
Media Center and focus our product and marketing resources on building
media experiences on connected Windows Mobile powered devices.

With the re-investment of resources in media experiences on connected
Windows Mobile powered devices, Portable Media Center 2.0 is the last
version of our Portable Media Center software under the Windows Mobile
brand. We do not plan any future Portable Media Center software upgrades
or marketing activities.

Thank you for all your support- Microsoft is proud of its work, the work
of its partners and the devices and services delivered as a result of
those relationships. We will continue to work with existing Portable
Media Centers licensees to ensure that devices they are developing come
to market.

This isn’t a surprise, but it still makes me a bit sad. I helped out a little bit on PMC (and its successor that never saw the light of day) at the end of my Microsoft career and it was kind of a sad story. It was basically one guy on the Windows CE team (I can’t remember his name right now and google isn’t helping) who made the PMC happen, but originally it was a lot more interesting and capable device. Then the marketers and biz-dev guys stepped in and decided to make it a “better-together” device by tying it to the Media Center PCs. The result? A brand new technology gets shackled to an under performing one, guaranteeing its failure.

[via engadget]

More Bush Administration incompetence and graft

The story is that the student loan administration had a loophole in their code that several lenders were taking advantage of, leading to payments of hundreds of millions of dollars by the government. A researcher in the department found this out and suggested that the director send a simple letter clarifying the rules. The Bush appointees shut him down and told him to work on other things. Eventually congress found out about it and put pressure, but still the “loyal Bushies” pushed back. Eventually, that simple letter was written and the government stopped throwing millions of dollars away.

Whistle-Blower on Student Aid Is Vindicated – New York Times

A 2004 report by the Government Accountability Office urged the department to rewrite its regulations to save billions of dollars in future loan subsidy payments. But Ms. Stroup, who had once worked for one of the lending companies that is now under investigation for the subsidies, argued in response that it would be simpler for Congress to clamp down with new legislation.

Nelnet was the nation’s most generous corporate donor to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2006, and its top three executives were the largest individual donors to the committee as well, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.

Nelnet was also well connected at the department. Don Bouc, Nelnet’s president through 2004 and president emeritus thereafter, sat on the department’s Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance from 2001 through Feb. 1 of this year, even while the department was auditing the company’s subsidies and negotiating the settlement. Mr. Bouc resigned from the committee 11 days after the department announced that it would not seek to recover the $278 million.