Old School

I like the idea of subsisting on simple meals of bread, cheese and mead, like in the days of yor.
Unfortunately I don’t like the idea of scurvy.

Grandpa01.jpg

I know we haven’t had tons of time together, only seeing you 2-3 times a year, but I enjoy the time I have been able to spend with you. You’re the only Grandpa I’ve known, but you’ve fit the bill perfectly. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job of it.
I remember all the interesting things I would get to do when I visited as a kid. Driving hours and hours to be with you on Christmas, all of us cousins ripping into a stack of presents in the living room. We’d go down in the cellar to check out all the new wood gadgets you were making. I think I even still have a medal toy soldier you had made. Hiking back behind your old house, trying to avoid cowpies, hunting for fossils and I believe I even shot my first .22 with you back there. I remember sitting on the porch with the whole family, probably 4th of July weekend, in the heat, playing cards or board games and probably losing to Aunt Janet.
We always wait in anticipation of one of your stories. Ok, maybe not “wait in anticipation”, but whenever you get started everyone knows to shut up and listen in. Whether it’s a joke you had just heard from a buddy or a story about some guy you once knew, we all want to hear. I guess I take after you in that way, staying quiet most of the time; it only makes people want to listen in more when you do speak up. Makes everything seem a bit more important when it is said.
So, with memories of cowpies, greasy fingernails, quiet stories…I’ll miss you.
Grandpa02.jpg

This Pretty Much Sealed the Deal For Me

“I had just been asked a question — I don’t remember which one — and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn’t going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, ‘So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?’ But I wasn’t paying any attention! I was about to say, ‘Could you repeat the question? I wasn’t listening.’ But I wasn’t about to say I wasn’t listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, ‘Katrina. Katrina.’ The question was on Katrina! So I said, ‘On Katrina, my policy . . .’ Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, ‘Obama, that was good of you to do that,'” – Bill Richardson, currently weighing whether to back the Illinois senator.

“Was that scarier than 9/11?”

After sitting through Cloverfield, an 11 year old boy in front of me asked his parents, “Was that scarier than 9/11?”
Unfortunately, no. But I’m glad the kid didn’t know.
I also keep seeing people comment that it’s “too soon”. It’s been over 7 years since 9/11. When can we start play-acting it out through entertainment? Kids do this all the time. They see a scary movie, or have some trauma happen, then they act it out over and over until they’re not scared of it anymore. Can we please start getting through this now? It took Japan 9 years to create Godzilla to help them deal with their national trauma, surely it’s OK that we’ve been faster than that.
This is a first step. If we stop being scared of 9/11, stop cowering in fear over the prospect of it happening again, we can take a step back and be a little rational about it.
Anyway, it was a great movie. Who cares if the characters were ripped from One Tree Hill or the OC, the movie wasn’t about them anyway. It was about their experience. I’m surprised it’s taken this long since the Blair Witch Project for the technique to make it to a big monster/disaster movie like this. It’s pretty much just how I wanted it to be. Maybe even less monster though.

Xbox 360, DRM, and Why I Can’t Play What I Paid For

Microsoft STILL has yet to fix their DRM licensing issues for Xbox Live Marketplace downloads, locking many people out of the content they’ve paid for. So when your 360 gets the RRoD, they will fix it, but in the process break everything you’ve downloaded from XBLM, leaving it to you to spend months on the phone with XBL Support. Here’s what I’ve had to go through so far:
A few months ago (Nov. 7th) my Xbox got the RRoD, and I sent it in to be repaired. After a few weeks, I got it back, fixed, but now everything that I’d bought and downloaded from Marketplace won’t run if I’m not signed in with my primary gamertag. This included at least 15 Arcade games, and multiple game-addons. At least $200 worth of purchases. OXM recently had an article on how it was their primary complaint with the console.
So not only did my Xbox break, but after the “fix” I’ve now lost functionality on about $200 worth of purchases. It’s very frustrating that in a home with multiple gamertags that used to have access to all the arcade games I’ve paid for, they now don’t because of poor DRM management.
The handling of this error has been less than satisfactory. When I called Xbox support Dec. 6th about this, I was told my downloads would be fixed in 20 days, max, and to call back if it hadn’t been fixed by then. After almost 30 nothing had changed. On Jan. 2nd I called and was told that now it might be fixed on the 12th. Maybe. So now my Xbox hasn’t been fully functional for over 2 months, and to top it off, all I’m getting for my troubles is an “I’m sorry” from a call center worker, not even an explanation why they blew their first deadline. After asking how they would compensate me for these months that my Xbox or downloads don’t work as intended, they said they couldn’t do anything for me, and actually hung up on me.
I brought my Xbox to my family’s over Christmas, but I couldn’t show them any of the cool arcade games, themes, downloaded game content or videos because all of this content is completely broken without the internet. I had to explain to everyone that my Xbox broke, and then Microsoft broke the games in the repair process. That doesn’t seem like a good way to get people excited about the product, and definitely doesn’t make me very happy.
At this point, I’m going to think twice before spending money on Marketplace, and I’ve warned coworkers and friends about how this repair has been handled.


You can read about other people’s woe’s here, here, here, here, hereetc….
Whenever Major Nelson, Xbox spokesperson, posts about a new arcade game, the comments are filled with complaints about customers being locked out of their bought content due to poor DRM management.


UPDATE (01-13-08): I called 1800-4MY-XBOX again, to see if there were any status updates. After spending a while trying to get Tier 1 support to transfer me to a supervisor, I spoke with a “Carlos” who tried telling me about licensing and why my games don’t work (duh). He also told me he had no authority to issue any sort of compensation (even though a previous Tier 1 support person told me Tier 2 could do this.) He finally looked up the status of my licensing transfer, and actually told me it was 97% done! He told me that, by tomorrow morning, I would be getting a call-back, telling me I could finally re-download my games/ add-ons, etc.
He PROMISED, over and over that I would receive this call, and that the person calling would be able to issue me compensation. We shall see!
Who knows if this is them just blowing their deadline by a few days, or if it is because this story made front page of Digg. This whole process still needs to be fixed. I shouldn’t have to do a single thing to have my games working. It should have been automatically done when they repaired my console.


UPDATE (01-14-08): No call from Xbox Live as Carlos had promised. I had to give “Andrew” all of my information, even last 4 digits of my CC# before he would transfer me to his supervisor. Once he did, she had no more information, and no idea why “Carlos” promised me what he did, and had no clue where he got the 97% done figure. Guess it was made up. She wouldn’t give me any other information or dates, but told me she marked down that “Carlos” had lied to me.



History:
Nov. 7th
Xbox get RRoD, and I send off the Xbox and get it repaired.
Dec. 6th
1 hour call
Ref# XXXXXXXXX
Primary Gamertag: agdtinman
Told games would work in 15-20 days (Dec 21st-26th) Told I would get a call back when it was updated. Wasn’t ever called, games still don’t work correctly.
Jan. 2nd
45 minute calls total (after being hung up on after a 30 min call)
Found out a service request put in by Steven Davis (works at Microsoft) Dec 12th.
Was told it would be ANOTHER 30 days past that date before they started working.
Jan. 12th
Arcade games still don’t work if not connected to the internet, on ANY gamertag, even the one I bought them with. Which makes the current Xbox Live downtime even more frustrating.
This is all in addition to multiple emails back and forth that didn’t amount to anything other than “we can’t help you, call Xbox Support”.
Jan. 13th
45 minute call
Called and immediately asked for Tier 2 support. After hassling with Tier 1 for a few minutes, I was transfered fairly quickly to “Carlos” who PROMISED over and over that my licensing transfer would definitely be fixed by the morning of Jan. 14th and that I would receive a call-back then and they’d be able to issue some sort of compensation.
Jan. 14th
40 minute call
No callback. Called and was forced to give “Andrew” on Tier 1 support ALL my information again, even CC# before he would think of transfering me to Tier 2. Spoke with an “Ella” who didn’t have any other dates, or information for me. Decided to email the fine folks at Microsoft’s Gamerscore Blog with the run-down and history of the issue.
Jan. 15th
Resent email to Gamerscore Blog, Major Nelson, and possibly to 3 of the top executives at Microsoft and Xbox (if I got their emails correct).
Jan. 17th
John from Xbox support called (866-506-3826), and said they’d received my email and that he’d be personally looking into the issue. He gave me his number and extension and said that he would be sending out some emails and finding out what’s happening, and said he would call be in the first half of next week (Jan 21st-23rd).
Jan. 25th
John still hadn’t called back, so I called and left a message, and he didn’t call back all day.
Jan. 28th
John finally called back, a week after he said he would, and told me he didn’t have any updates, but he was still looking into things, and to keep trying deleting my content and redownloading it to see if it was fixed.
Jan 29th
John called again and said my content was fixed. He said they would not offer my any compensation for the hassle, the time that my content hasn’t worked correctly or the time that I’ve spent on the phone trying to get this issue resolved. I came home and tried to delete/redownload the content, and it still does not work correctly. Now even John’s lied to me.

Weekend

I got around to changing the oil in my motorcycle this weekend. I’ve changed the oil in cars a number of times, so I didn’t think it’d be too problematic. Gathered up my oil, papertowels, a couple adjustable wrenches, a funnel, and a disposable aluminum turkey baster pan. After trying for 15 minutes trying to get the nut off with my adjustable wrenches I had to give up, and drove myself down to Home Depot looking for a good socket set.
Being a Honda, and Japanese, I was looking for MM sets that had a 17mm socket, but they didn’t have any. Finally I found a dual SAE, MM set that actually had the sockets I needed. Then I walked over to Sears and, palm to head, realized that Sears carries every Craftsman tool under the sun, and I probably could have picked up just the sizes I needed.
Getting back home, it still took another 15 minutes or so, pulling and banging on the oil pan drain nut before I finally broke it’s hold and got it out. I had the turkey baster pan under it, but of course, the oil shot out, hit the exhaust pipes, slid along and poured out 2″ past the pan. I’m glad I was on the street, in an area that was already oil stained, instead of pulling into the apartments garage to do this. The oil filter nut was equally tough to get out, but a little WD-40 did the trick finally.
The turkey baster pan worked great. Looking under the motorcycle, you can definitely tell where the pan was, as everywhere but that spot is sprayed with oil. I was able to bend it up to form a little spout to pour the blackened, used oil back into the oil jug which is now sitting in my sink, waiting for me to find a place that’ll take it.
Now I just need to figure out how to get my seat to lock down, and get some saddle bags that’ll work with the bike.

I Did My Good iDeed For the Day

I read The Consumerist.com frequently. It usually has stories about deals and corporate wrong-doing, greed, ways to fight back, and general consumer advocacy. It’s also part of Gawker Media, which is a large collection of blogs online, which mimic a digital Parade Magazine, covering gossip, celebrities, tech, gadgets, etc. A couple days ago, they did a post linking to their Flickr favorites, and mentioned thats where they get a lot of the good photos they post on their site. Right when I saw it I wanted to mention to them that they needed to be careful and only pick out Creative Commons Licenced photos, and make sure they use attribution. Distracted by the girl, and sleep, I didn’t get around to it, and when checking the page the next day, for sure, they were called on it.
Their only response? “Transformative means fair use.” In the comments there were links to a prior post from December where they were called on the fact that they had stolen someone’s Flickr photo. The editor of Consumerist.com Ben Popken’s response about adding a link to the flickr page was appalling:

“I have now removed the link because we realize that this policy would be more trouble than it’s worth. If people want credit, they can ask for it. If people want their photo down, they can ask us. Otherwise, we’ll just go back to using the best photos we can find in order to illustrate our posts. If you guys want a bunch of ugly ass retarded stock photos all the time, you’re in the fucking wrong place.”
“Credit is more [trouble] than its worth because then we would have to deal with people bitching all day that we didn’t spell their name correctly, or they want their name and not their Flickr ID and so on and so forth… when my time is better spent looking for the next post to write. The next post that will save you time or money, or reveal some corporate skulduggery or whatnot. What is the greater good? To use the best photo possible to illustrate the post and move on!”
“I know, let’s make drawings of everything. We are careful. We choose nice photos. If musicians and producers used the same notions of copyright today back in the day, there would be no hiphop. Consider us the Paul’s Boutique of consumer knowledge.”

I knew that just writing an email to the editor wouldn’t cut it at this point. So I posted the whole thing to Flickr’s forums, and then linked to it in the comments of 4 or 5 of the photos they’d stolen. I told Chase about it, and he put up a story on Digg, which made the front page earlier today.
After a number of posts in the flickr thread, and a couple of hours Stewart, a member of flickr staff, and I found out later, one of the founders, said they were looking into it, and “It is definitely a bizarre attitude coming from a publication that is ostensibly out to protect “the little guy” … ”
By the end of the day, The Consumerist had apologized. They also set up a flickr group and asked for photo submissions that they could use on their site. There are at least a handful of posts where images are still being used without attribution, but they may be working on that, and will no doubt be called on it if they remain up much longer.
It was quite interesting, watching the posts and the comments, and seeing the response build through out the day. It is also pretty amusing to look at The Consumerist frontpage today, covered with crappy screenshots from commericals.