Archive for the “Rants” Category

I can’t believe the phone conversation I just had. (Okay, maybe I can.)

This past summer I got a new phone—an LG Rumor Touch—with Sprint, the wireless company I’ve been with since 2001. It’s certainly no iPhone, but for making phone calls and sending text messages, it’s a good phone. The only problem was that I couldn’t send or receive pictures via text messaging (a.k.a. “picture mail”). The phone would just show “ERROR 7 Network timeout”. I took my phone into my local Sprint store and the techs there fooled around with it and reset it, wiping all my data, but they couldn’t fix it. They gave me an “eTicket” number and told me to call Sprint tech support.

I got busy with other things, started a new semester, and generally felt like I had better things to do than spend a couple hours on the phone wrangling with a customer service rep over a minor detail like picture mail, so I let it go. After getting Dorothy’s iPhone set up to text pictures the other day, I decided that it’s time to get my own phone fixed, so tonight I called *2 and prepared for customer service hell.

The first rep I talked to got hung up on the fact that I was calling on the phone that needed to be fixed—presumably because she then wouldn’t be able to make me jump through the standard basic troubleshooting hoops. What could she do for me tonight, I asked.

Not much, sir.

Well, “not much” is more than nothing, but in the end, despite my assurances that I had already been to the Sprint store and that they had failed to fix my phone, all she could do was refer me back to the store since I lacked another phone to call back on.

Not ready to give up, I decided to give chat support a try. At least that way I wouldn’t be on the phone while communicating with the rep. Meanwhile, I remembered that I had that eTicket number from my visit to the Sprint store, which would have notes attached to it about what the techs tried to do that day, so I typed it into the chat window. The rep, “Ben”,  had me turn my phone off and on, which triggered the network timeout error. I received lots of messages from the rep thanking for my patience and assuring me that he was looking into something or another, but in the end, after 30 minutes, I was told that I had to call tech support.

Well, at least now I had my old eTicket number. Perhaps now the phone rep would be able to see that the store had checked the hardware and would examine my account more closely for configuration problems. Unfortunately, this new phone rep was fixated on the fact that I had called earlier today and had been referred back to the store. I insisted that she look up the eTicket from August.

Are you aware that it is December?

Really? And here I thought we were having an unseasonably cold September.

She seemed to think that the eTicket from my call earlier tonight took precedence over anything that came before and that there was nothing to be gained by looking at the older eTicket. I pressed further. I explained that the staff at the store hadn’t seemed to understand the problem. The hardware checked out, and they had given me the impression that there was probably something wrong with my account.

Can you make phone calls? Can you send text messages?

Yes.

Then your account is fine.

Well, I can’t do anything with data, I countered.

Oh, hold on… … … I think I see the problem.

Finally! She explained that she was making some corrections to the settings on my account, told me to use the option to update my phone’s profile and then try sending a picture mail after hanging up, and promised to call back in a few minutes.

You may receive a survey about your experience today. Would you say that your problem was completely resolved?

Not yet. (I mean, seriously?)

I hung up, updated my profile, and was able to successfully send a picture to myself. And yes, the rep did call back—and proceeded to try to up-sell me to a more expensive service plan.

So how long did all that take? Approximately 2 hours.

What did we learn? Persistence pays off; don’t take no for an answer.

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Tonight, prime-time broadcast TV was dominated by the presidential debate. The exception was the one channel that was running WWE Friday Night Smackdown. My question: Is there really any difference?

Presidential Debate v. WWE Smackdown
  Presidential Debate WWE Smackdown
Bitter rivalries
Macho posturing
Speeches full of personal jabs
Utterly fake

I’ll let you be the judge.

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Some of you may recall that back in the Spring I was taking a class called “Technology & Assessment”—touted by the Mizzou course catalog as a class that would teach me about using technology to assess student learning. After taking “Library Use Instruction” the previous Fall and learning a little about assessment techniques, “Technology & Assessment” sounded like a good opportunity to learn more about a topic that is relevant to the part of my job that involves teaching students how to use the library. Unfortunately, Mizzou’s course catalog neglected to mention that the class was targeted specifically to K–12 teachers. It was rather frustrating to find out that little fact on the first day of class, but at least the professor was flexible and allowed me to tweak the assignments to fit my context.

For the coming Fall semester I had signed up to take “Web Application Development I”, whose catalog description begins: “Learn to develop web applications to support online learning and collaboration using Perl, PHP, or Java (student’s choice)” (emphasis added). I’ve long been interested in learning PHP, so this seemed like a great opportunity to fulfill that goal and to get credit towards my degree doing it. However, on Friday the instructor sent out an email to the entire class:

Due to an unexpected administration issue, I realized some of you might not read the proper course description. […]

In the fall 2008 course you will learn to use Asp.Net 2.0 with VB.Net or C# and MS SQL database server.

Well that’s just dandy. No choice but ASP.NET. That torpedoes half of my Fall schedule, but for future planning I replied to the instructor asking when the PHP version of the course will be offered. He replied:

I guess the course will cover php when it is fully shaped as object-oriented. Probably in a couple years.

The next language the course will use would be Java.

Wait… what?

(A) Since they don’t have any firm plans to teach PHP in the near future, why is it listed in the course description at all? False advertising I say!

(B) More importantly, how can you get away with teaching web application development without addressing PHP—one of the most widely used languages for web application development? I don’t care whether or not it’s fully object-oriented. If it’s good enough for Wikipedia, WordPress, Facebook, et al., then it deserves our attention.

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We’ve probably all heard the recent press about some audiologists alerting the world that listening to your iPod (or any other portable music player, for that matter) too loud for too long will cause hearing loss. Now, someone is suing Apple because they don’t put warnings on the iPod about this fact.

But wait a minute… “Patterson does not know if the device has damaged his hearing, said his attorney…”

So… if he hasn’t actually experienced hearing loss, how does he have legal standing in this matter?

Oh… because the iPod could be turned up by the user to a potentially dangerous volume it’s somehow “defective”, and therefore he is entitled to a iPod that maxes out at an undisputedly safe volume. Riiiiiight…

Four words: Boot to the Head.

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Just when you thought the recording industry had sunk as low as they could in their “fight against piracy”, they do something even more asinine. This time they’ve taken down pearLyrics, a program that searches the internet for the lyrics of the song currently playing in iTunes and can then add the results to the lyrics ID3 tag in the music file. Somehow this violates copyright law? I’m with the Electronic Frontier Foundation—that argument has no legal leg to stand on.

I’ve been using pearLyrics for months now. I love it, and I will continue to use it. When will the recording industry learn that this sort of crap only makes people like me seriously pissed off at them and less likely to buy their wares.

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