Archive for January, 2012

The professor for one of my MBA classes assigned partial chapters from a book from McGraw Hill and the experience was absolutely horrid.   It then occurred to me that McGraw Hill has the same dimwitted executives that Kodak has and I can only imagine the discussions going on in the board room.

What happened at Kodak:

Smart Employee 1: “The world is passing us by as everyone switches to digital!”

Dimwitted executive: “By god, we’re a film company, always have been always will be!  Film will make a come back!”

What is happening at McGraw Hill now:

Smart employees: “The world loves Amazon and iPads, the new digital books are the future!”

Dimwitted executive: “By god, we’re a book publisher and we’re going to publish real paper books!  Hardcovers are making a come back!”

I can only thank god Steve Jobs created the iBook authoring tools, despite some of its flaws, it is the start of the first nail in the coffin of McGraw Hill.  The world is done with these idiots, their difficult idiotic platforms and copy protection scheme nonsense.”

So why I am so angry?  I’ve wasted hours trying to get a book I paid for to download after following a complicated process.  Geez, with Amazon, its ONE CLICK – hint hint idiot executives at MH.  I don’t need nor do I like your stupid virtual bookshelf!

 

I have been fed up with all the username/password combination for websites for quite some time.  I literally have hundreds of usernames and passwords but what’s now annoying me even more are the moronic security questions websites now make you use for self-service password reset.  Who was the idiot that came up with this idea?

Let me just give you a hint of some of the idiotic questions I have to answer:

What is your favorite destination?

Who is your favorite actor?

What is your favorite color?

What was your favorite vacation?

What city did you grow up in?

 

These questions are stupid on so many levels I don’t know where to begin.   I got caught up on an account I setup 5 years ago with the “who is your favorite actor” and I honestly couldn’t remember who my favorite actor was 5 freaking years ago.  Seriously, who has a favorite actor consistently for life?  Stalkers?  What about favorite vacation?  Well that changes for me year to year so how the hell am I supposed to constantly update this?  If I went to Hawaii in 2010 then Paris in 2011 then Thailand in 2012 and I’ve added 3 new accounts each year how I am supposed to constantly remember to update all my questions?

I also never answer these questions honestly because all websites tend to ask the same ones so if one web server is hacked then bingo some hacker has the answers to your questions.   Now if you have 100 usernames and passwords to remember, you now have 300 questions to have to remember questions to for and most probably don’t bother so what happens?   That’s right, we all end up calling the help desk and answer another set of stupid questions that everyone can easily find the answer to by looking up public records:  What is your social security number?  What is your birthdate?  What is your mother’s maiden name?   None of this wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that most systems force you to change your password every thirty days?  What the f##k for?  I’ve had the same password on Amazon for 10 years and I’ve never been hacked!

To everyone that owns a website and has a username/password & security questions to answer, the reason I don’t shop at your website is because I don’t want another username/password and set of questions.  It’s also yet another reason I primarily use Amazon for all my shopping even when I find something else cheaper on a website -I simply don’t want the hassle of another username/password/set of questions to answer.   I stick to amazon because they were the first username/password I setup and Amazon doesn’t hassle me every thirty days to change my passwords!

I really would like to know who the first moron was to come up with this scheme because everyone has now copied him/her and I really wish I could slap the hell out of them!

I have three stories about my AT&T uverse cancellation adventure.

First, it took four hours on the phone with over half a dozen people to cancel my account. I was on hold for 10 to 30 minutes at a time when I got disconnected or transferred to a dead phone. When I finally got to the disconnect queue, I couldn’t remember my security code or that stupid security question “who is your favorite actor?” How am I suppose to rembrandt that question for years ago? I am sure a few people get frustrated and end up staying subscribers just a little longer or there is a huge avalanche of tv defectors.

I finally managed to get it all sorted out and cancel my service but that’s when I learned I would have to go to the UPS store to drop off the equipment and have the UPS people pack it for me.

Secondly, I went to the UPS store and the lady knew exactly what I was there for because three other people had gone in to cancel their AT&T services the same day. She said she does that all day every day! I had packed the remotes, power cables and receivers but she insisted on only packing the receivers. I told her the form I was sent explicitly stated that the remotes, power cable and receivers needed to go but she insisted it was just the receivers. She gave me a receipt for the items so I will fight any charges AT&T tries to saddle me with on the remotes. Interestingly, she told me AT&T has a habit of charging customers for the equipment even though it’s been shipped back. She told me to make sure I keep a copy of the receipt because it was likely AT&T would charge for the equipment and that she gets customers coming in asking for a reprint of the receipt but they only keep backup for a few days not a month or two.

My last story about AT&T is that I now know of at least a half dozen people canceling a variety of services and buying Roku boxes and signing up for Netflix, HuluPlus and Amazon and with a potential upcoming Apple TV it may be the best platform for television. Ain’t progress grand?

This week I will be canceling my AT&T Uverse subscription as I have found alternative methods of watching TV at home and on the road making cable subscription obsolete. This is also because I gave my kids an ultimatum, “you need to pick between iPhones or TV” and the kids chose iPhones. I will still keep my internet or switch to another provider if AT&T gives me a hassle but just like the retail model is dead, so too is the cable subscription model. There is simply too much content aggregating out there to keep me entertained to need to continue to pay $140+ month for “TV channels” with content on them. The solution to lowering your cable tv will include the following:

A device with “apps” for viewing TV/Entertainment. Currently, XBOX, Wii, PS3, iPads, iPods, iPhones and almost any computer will allow you to watch TV through apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus. For my large TV screens at home, I have specifically purchased AppleTV device and Roku boxes for my TVs. Both run HDMI and provide HD quality although the AppleTV is only 720p while the Roku is 1080p.

The Roku box will run you about $50 or so depending on the model you get while Apple TV will cost you $99.

Netflix will cost $9 per month.

HuluPlus will cost $8 per month.

Amazon Prime Streaming is FREE if you have Amazon prime $39/year (students) or $79/year for everyone else ($3.25/month for students or $6.58/month for everyone else).

So assuming you have two TV’s at home and you want this setup, your total cost for the first year will be $100 (Roku) + $108 [$9 x 12 (Netflix)] + $96 [$8 x 12 (HuluPlus)] + $77 [$6.58/month (Amazon Prime)] = $381 for the first year.

After the first year, the annual recurring costs (assuming no increase) will be $281 since the Roku boxes are a one time charge. This is effectively $23/month for basically unlimited movies and TV shows from around the world. Contrast the $23/month for this build your own package versus the current $168 AT&T Uverse bill I get and it’s a no brainer! Keep in mind that if you already own a Wii or XBox you can use those devices and not need the Roku at all! I’m currently watching Breaking Bad (on Apple TV), Grimm (on HuluPlus) and other shows on Amazon Prime that I’ve never had time to see and the best part of all is that I can take my subscriptions with me on my iPad when I travel!

Goodbye AT&T uverse, I wish you the best of luck but if you want me back, offer me a-la-cart programming because I don’t want 500 ESPN channels. I’ll make it easy for you here are the only channels I watch: Smithsonian, History, Discovery, broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS). The kids watch a couple of the Disney channels but they watch too much TV now anyway but if you throw them in with the others for $25/month or less then I might come back. Of course if you want to really save money, just buy an over-the-air antenna and drop the subscription altogether….

Over the holidays I had the pleasure of doing some personal travel and one of our stops was San Francisco.   We did a bit of site seeing and we did take in the vineyard country and I can sadly say that despite finding some really great wines, I did not bring any back.  Why?   Well because you can’t carry on any liquid more than 3 oz.  I guess the TSA is too stupid to differentiate wine from explosives but that doesn’t matter anyway.  We also found some great honey but didn’t buy any to bring back for family, friends, or ourselves because of the airline restrictions.   I know we could have checked the items in luggage but that’s a whole other sad story about items being mishandled, broken, or stolen in the process which is why I rarely check bags except for long term duration flights.

It doesn’t stop there though, we found some great hand crafted knives that my son would have loved to have since he’s a scout but we passed on that too because we figured the TSA would confiscate this “dangerous” weapon.   Why not order online?  Well that’s what we generally do but some states restrict wine sales across state lines but the real problem for us is having to have someone home to sign for the wine when it gets there which is a difficult thing to do with my constant travel and my wife’s other daily activities.   Lately, thefts of deliveries has been up in the area as well and I would rather not have those items stolen so if something isn’t confiscated by some government bureaucrat, it’s getting stolen by some petty thief and then we expect to grow this economy?

On the flip side, I went to an electronics store to buy some old rabbit ears antennae since I’m dropping my cable subscription this week and found some interesting ones that didn’t look like rabbit ears at all.   The electronics retail price was $49.99 and I used Amazon’s price check app on my iPhone 4s and saw it on Amazon.com for half the price and pay no sales tax to boot!  So I clicked and ordered it online and will get it in a couple of days at my door and saved $25.00 in the process.    I am convinced that retail is dying a slow painful death and most of it will be gone soon which is probably why Sears and Kmart are shuttering stores, the retail model doesn’t make any sense anymore.    We went this weekend to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy an outdoor table cover for some patio furniture and the sales clerk told us to look online as they didn’t carry  that in the store.  WTF?   What’s the point of going to the shop at all if it’s all online?

With 80 million boomers heading for smaller homes, wheelchairs, and lower consumption of goods, how will this economy survive?