Work in Progress

Things look a little different here? Well first, I’m impressed that anyone would notice because it’s been more than a few months since I last posted. However, second, things are a bit in flux after a bit of a hacking issue (I must remember to update WordPress!). So stay tuned, and eventually things will look correct and some more recent blog posts will reappear.

Holiday Spam

What is it about the holidays that make people go crazy? First they trample each other trying to get good deals on Black Friday, then they start stalking parking lots at malls, cutting each other off with abandon and a sense of glee. And those are just the consumers!

Businesses, they tend to make great leaps in losing their ethics. It becomes a sudden race to make as many sales as possible, no matter what it takes. Even if it means dusting off those lists they haven’t used in a couple years or somehow acquiring new lists of prospects. It’s amazing how much more unsolicited email I get from about mid November until mid January. It’s far more often than I get aggressively stalked for my parking space, that’s for sure!

So for anyone wondering, no matter the time of year, keep opt-in rules in mind. Treat others as you’d like to be treated, and if you like getting unsolicited emails…well treat them how a normal person would like to be treated. Unless they really truly asked you to contact them (and they did it recently at that!) don’t do it. And if they did ask you to contact them, respect them and don’t send 2 emails a day about that sale they just have to know about. Spread a little holiday cheer by not pissing people off.

Oh and if you’re one of those people who likes to trample others and becomes rude and aggressive in mall parking lots, cut that out too please.

Remodeling Update

I’ve been horribly remiss in writing in the last few months, I’d blame attempting to enjoy what little sunshine we actually got this year in PDX or being busy with work, but really I’ve just been lazy. Because I know at least one person in the world is curious…the house was finally finished, mostly.

The siding is up; we painted kind of a greenish tan color, with bright white trim. It was only completed because my little brother gallantly came and helped after I fell off a ladder attempting to paint some of the higher up points and broke my foot. Oh yeah, that’s my other excuse for not writing for months, I was recuperating from a broken foot. I highly recommend never doing that.

Still haven’t painted the bathroom, maybe this winter, maybe. We’ll at least do it before selling the house in the next decade or so. Probably.

M-O-O-N Spells Apocalypse

I work from home. I love it; I really do, though it does get quite lonely sometimes. Pajamas are my friend, my car rarely gets driven and I’ve turned into quite the home body.  I also tend to get a little out of the loop; I rarely have to pay attention to the weather reports anymore and shopping from home is my friend. Really, I’m just becoming a bit of a recluse.

A couple of weeks ago we were watching Stephen King’s The Stand (it really hasn’t held up to the test of time, but that’s another story) and it got me thinking–if the apocalypse were to strike would I even notice? I mean honestly, those are the kind of things that pop into my head these days, I have a bit more time on my hands than I used to and the silence of the house makes you think odd things, but it’s a valid point. I can go a week or more without stepping a foot outside, unless I want the mail. I wouldn’t actually physically talk to other people if I didn’t live with someone. Unless the cable or power goes out I wouldn’t really notice what’s going on. I think, unless my house actually blew up or zombies broke in, I’d likely survive whatever is going on just due to sheer obliviousness, at least until my next Safeway delivery didn’t show up.

If the apocalypse strikes it won’t be the gun nuts or the people who stocked up on supplies who survive, it’ll be the telecommuters.

Thinking about trying Clear Wireless? Don’t bother.

I’ve always been a fan of Wimax, back in the day I did some work for Wimax Forum and have always felt that the technology is impressive (as are the people working on it); I’ve been pretty gung-ho to check it out since it become available in Portland. Since I’d been having problems with my Comcast service (endless modems dying) I decided, why not? Well, I’ve learned that lesson.

If only it was just that I couldn’t get much of a signal in my house (despite being in a sea of dark green, supposedly a strong signal area) it would be forgivable, really. However, when I could get a signal, even a strong signal, I was lucky to get speeds of .5 mbps, dramatically different from the 6 mbps they talk about. Okay, no harm, no foul. The technology just isn’t perfect yet. I live in the suburbs not in the city core so it, perhaps, just isn’t an option for me.

Tragic, but hey the sales guys were nice, they thought I was an idiot (I had to break down the cost of paying for a modem vs. leasing it for them as they kept trying to convince me paying $5 a month forever AND signing a 2 year contract was really the better deal than just paying $50 upfront), but nice. I just had to bring the modem back and they’d get me all sorted. At least that’s what they told me. But wait a minute, that’s just what they said when I asked about the return policy, you know, when they wanted to make the sale. The moment I actually tried to return it I was told I had to contact customer care.

Oh, but when I contacted customer care I got a long long run around where they demanded I try and increase the signal, it just must be a problem with where I’m placing the modem (really, I have a laptop, was I supposed to leave it sitting in the bathroom in the hopes of getting .6mbps rather than .5?). I should try tilting it differently in the USB port. Maybe unplug it and replug it. Did I try rebooting? Maybe I have a virus slowing my computer down and that’s why the speed was so slow (um trust me, I don’t). No, I just wanted to cancel! Oh? Well actually I didn’t contact the right department (silly me, following the instructions on their website), I needed to call x, click x at the menu and oh yeah, it’s already past their support hours so I’ll have to call tomorrow. Can I just email them? I mean they don’t even advertise their contact number if you’re logged in as a customer, you have to hunt for it. No, I need to talk to them. Odds on whether or not that’s so another retention specialist can try and talk me into keeping my service?

So are you thinking about trying Clear? Well if you know someone who raves about it, try theirs. Because trying to get rid of yours if it doesn’t work out…well if I ever manage it I’ll let you know.

Update

Another day, another phone call. This time I spent 20 minutes on hold, after following all the prompts (again) to get to the cancellation department. What was I told? Oh, well this was the department for people who wanted to cancel due to signal/speed issues (right, that’s me) and all they’ll do is help you troubleshoot them (whu?!). “But no,” I insisted “I JUST want to cancel.” Well okay, they’ll transfer me to customer care. Another 5 minutes on hold starts off with me being asked all of my customer info (I guess nothing transfers) and then only to find out that customer care can’t cancel my account, I have to speak to a cancellation specialist (okay, seriously?!) but am I SURE they can’t just help me troubleshoot? As I was sure, they once again transferred me. Third person asks me for all my info, again, apparently they can’t forward anything on and also proceeds to ask me if I’ve talked to them previously (uh, account history, anyone?) and then insists that, really, before I can cancel they want to have someone come out in person and help troubleshoot my issues. They can have someone out in the next couple of weeks (14 day return policy anyone?) and they’re sure everything will be perfect after that!

It took 7 attempts, with my voice getting increasingly close to shouting (and as someone who works in tech/customer support I generally go out of my way to be as nice as possible, cause really, rude customers suck), with me saying “I do not want to troubleshoot, I am quite certain I do not want your service, I want to cancel it” before they were willing to do so. Supposedly I’ll get confirmation and a return shipping label within 24-48 hours. Oh and guess what, until the service is actually canceled I’ll continue to pay for it. So it profits them to stall as long as humanly possible. Charming.

Update 2

In the end it took a credit card dispute and multiple contacts with the BBB to actually get them to stop attempting to charge my card and hounding me about not paying my bill as well. I don’t think words can express just how much I dislike Clear. Wimax–cool technology, but Clear? Don’t bother.