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Category: General

Annoying new telemarketing tactic

Twice within the last week I’ve been hit by the following tactic:

I receive a call on my cell phone from a nearby calling area (Baltimore, in my case).  The middle-aged voice on the other end asks for “Mason” (or “Terence”). When I politely reply that there’s no one here by that name, the person responds “Oh, perhaps you can help me”, and launches into a solicitation for some high-minded charitable donation.

Last week I simply told the gentleman that I couldn’t help him and hung up.  Today, interrupted from a particularly knotty work issue, I pointedly asked the woman if this was a new marketing tactic and could I expect similar calls in the future. She simply said “I’ll update our records” and hung up.

Will no one rid me of these troublesome callers?

(I’d installed Nomorobo on my iPhone—it’s apparently the best of the current bunch of call blockers—but obviously technology has its limits. Also, for some reason Nomorobo had managed to disable itself and I had to go back into Settings to re-enable it.)

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Hold your calls…

I believe we have a winner. Still wrapping up a few details, but it looks like I’ll be starting a new position that fits my interests and experience, cuts down my commute by a significant measure, and hopefully will be more stable to boot. (Two layoffs within a twelve-month period make for interesting times.)

Here’s to the future!

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Looking for work redux

As a result of a change of direction at my current employer, I am once again open to a full-time position as a software developer — preferably on Apple platforms, i.e. OS X and iOS, using Objective-C or Swift with Xcode. View the “Résumé” page (linked above) for links to my current résumé, my LinkedIn profile, etc.

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Looking for work

As a result of a reduction in force at my previous employer, I am now looking for work as a software developer — preferably on Apple platforms, i.e. OS X and iOS, using Objective-C with Xcode. I prefer a full-time position but would accept short-term contracts as well. View the “Résumé” page (linked above) for links to downloadable résumés, my LinkedIn profile, etc. (If the “Résumé” page isn’t linked above, then I’ve found a job. Hooray!)

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O @comcastcares, hear my plea

As of this evening the TV Guide channel is not displaying the scrolling list of program information — just the mindless “American Idol Rewind” and other programming at the top of the screen. You can usually see an empty space at the bottom where the program listing would fall.

When we called the customer support 800 number, the representative was completely clueless and apparently unable to understand our description of the problem. First she told us to unplug our cable-ready TV set from the cable and plug it back in (we’re still analog here and have no cable box). Predictably that had no effect. After my wife and I tried to explain the problem again, she finally decided that the problem was with the network — that is, the TV Guide Network had chosen to stop sending us program listings. She suggested we contacted the network to complain about the change.

As a result, we have no source of program listings from Comcast. The “Channel Lineup” page on comcast.com has had the message “We are currently working to provide channel lineup information for your area” for at least a year. (Our town straddles multiple counties and has its own cable franchise. Last summer Comcast decided to move everyone in town to the same system, which means that we’re now on the “other” system.)

The CSR dutifully ended the call with “Thank you for choosing Comcast”, which is a joke since our original system (Adelphia) was bought out by Comcast. Oddly we had no problems with Adelphia, but the major impact of Comcast (beside shifting our system) was to repeatedly raise our rates while moving channels from the analog tier to the digital tier.

I personally watch very little television and would ditch cable for over-the-air (and over-the-Internet), but my wife enjoys having the TV on while working in the kitchen, and the kids watch Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, etc. Frankly, Verizon can’t bring FIOS to our town fast enough for me. (Sadly there’s no evidence that they’re even considering this, although they’re hooking up an adjacent county.)

[The six loyal readers of my blog probably couldn’t care less about this issue; this post is really just to have something to point Frank Elias (@comcastcares on twitter) toward.]

Edit: In the interest of full disclosure, I got two responses on Twitter the same evening; apparently it was a known issue (involving the digital transition?) and cleared up in a few days.

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Signs of the Apocalypse, part 12

Sending an S.O.S. for a PC Exorcist (New York Times):

I called John C. Dvorak, a prominent columnist for PC Magazine and a podcaster on the Podshow network. “I advise everybody to buy a Macintosh because Apple products are the easiest to use,” he said.

Wait a sec, let me double-check… yes, 2 + 2 is still 4, and the sun appears to have set in the west.

(Oh, yeah, the article? The author took delivery of an $1800 laptop running Vista, and less than three days later it wasn’t working — something about the anti-virus software — so he paid this guy another $800 to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Vista, and now he’s happy. Couldn’t make this stuff up…)

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Arrr! Hoist the mizzen!

Once again it be [Talk Like a ](http://www.talklikeapirateday.com/)[Pirate Day!](http://www.talklikeapirate.com/) Do yer duty!

(What’s that? Only nine posts since last year? Ne’er you mind that, ye landlubber! Get back to work — them decks don’t swab themsel’s, ye know!)

— Mad Russ Greybeard

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Yankee fan of the week: John Gruber

[I’d have said “Jackass of the Week”, but that would be redundant. Ba-da-bing.]

By responding to John Gruber’s comment on the Shelly Duncan autograph incident, I know I’m opening myself up to the same criticism of humorlessness; but it ticks me off every time I read it.

For the record, I’m an Orioles fan — there, I said it — but I have ties to the Boston area through both ancestry and schooling, and so whatever bias I may have in the situation is toward the Red Sox. (As would anyone else not a Yankees fan, I dare say.)

I think most people would agree that there’s a point at which writing “Red Sox suck!” on an autograph for a Red Sox fan is clearly intended as a good-natured jibe, and a point at which it is clearly inappropriate. For a 37-year-old beer-bellied bleacher dweller, for instance, it’s clearly a joke. For a four-year-old little girl with a red balloon, it’s clearly inappropriate. Agreed?

Now the question becomes where you draw the line. I think a 10-year-old boy pretty clearly falls on the “inappropriate” side of the line. Gruber apparently disagrees. I think if the boy had been a teenager — 14, at least — I would be more inclined to see it as a joke, however lame and unsubtle.

Of course, Duncan offers no apology, as quoted in the followup story:

> “I thought I was back in middle school or high school, where you try to make a joke or say something funny, and you end up saying something that gets you in trouble,” Duncan said … “I try to rile ’em up and be fun. I don’t expect anybody to make a big deal about it. Nobody ever has before.”

“It was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke?” *I* caused offense, but it’s *your* fault.

As for Gruber’s comments: well, they’re exactly what I’d expect to hear from a Yankees fan.

> When I was 10 I would have laughed my ass off if some player from the Red Sox had given me a “Yankees suck!” autograph.

Yeah, sure, because when you were 10, you were a punk-assed kid whose favorite team had won 26 World Series in the last sixty years. That’s pretty big of you. Suppose you’d been a Red Sox fan — but no, that would be impossible for you to imagine, rooting for one of the little teams that’s supposed to just roll over and play dead before the mighty pinstripes.

I speak from painful observation — although I am a part-season ticket owner, I haven’t attended a Yankees/Orioles game in years, because I don’t care to see ten thousand arrogant, foul-mouthed, drunken Yankees fans invade my home ballpark and ruin my afternoon. I certainly wouldn’t take my children there.

(I’ve stopped going to Orioles/Red Sox games, too, because the Red Sox Nation has become nearly as insufferable, and there’s even more of them, if that’s possible. Camden Street looks like Kenmore Square. And yes, I’m all too aware that the Orioles have brought this on themselves, for the twin crimes of organizational incompetence and being in the AL East.)

I don’t even really hate the Yankees. (Well, maybe Rodriguez. And Jeter.) I just want the Yankees to lose — in as humiliating a manner as possible — to piss off the Yankee fans. Ah, 2004. Sweet, sweet 2004… but of course that only put the tiniest dent in their insufferable arrogance. I’ve seen the T-shirts: “Still 26 to 1.” Hmmph.

That’s OK. I know of plenty other ways a baseball team can be humiliated. (Did I mention I was an Orioles fan?)

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Arrrh! September 19th be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

This be yer only reminder, ye scurvy knave! Now get yer [pirate name](http://www.piratequiz.com/) and get to work — th’ decks don’t swab themselves! ARRRH!

— Mad Russ Graybeard

[Be ye never heerd o’ Talk Like a Pirate Day? Then [get clicking](http://www.talklikeapirateday.com/)!]

_Update_: Arrrh! There be _two_ [sites!](http://www.talklikeapirate.com/)

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