Monthly Archives: August 2005

Is Wal-Mart good for America?

Those who know me are acutely aware of my dislike of Wal-Mart. I only shop there when I have to. Poor service, unhelpful, underpaid staff, never enough cashiers… we grumble, but do we car enough to take our dollars elsewhere?  Check out the Documentary.
Jon Lehman worked for Wal-Mart as a manager for many years. He was there when they were proud to sell American products and their slogan was "Always the low price". But things changed, and he left. Now he works with a company trying to bring unions into Wal-Mart. He talks about what made Wal-Mart who they are, what makes them tick, the tricks they use to bamboozle the public into buying there … and why Wal-Mart is NOT good for America.

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The Biter Bit

It's the same old sad story…

  • Thief steals iPod.
  • Thief goes into iPod store to get cables for said iPod.
  • Store manager happens to be the owner of said iPod.
  • Manager calls the police.
  • Thief is apprehended.
  • iPod comes home 

Priceless.

Stupid Slogans

The following slogans were personally culled by me for being meaningless, misleading or downright funny.

It seems that too many Corporations spend way too much time and money thinking up slogans that a) sound good and b) are utterly meaningless. Enjoy!

  • Committed to the dignity of life (Batesville Casket Company). Who are they kidding? They are committed to the dignity of death!
  • They do so much more (University Hospital). More than whom? Comparative slogans that do not compare are meaningless – perhaps intentionally so.
  • Together we improve more lives (Metro United Way). Than whom? Another comparative with no comparison.
  • We love to see you smile (McDonald's). Then why are so many of your employees so miserable?
  • A Genuine Chevrolet. Is there any other kind? Can I have a fake one, please?
  • Refresh your thirst (Coca-Cola). I don't want to refresh it – I want to extinguish it, you idiots.
  • You Got it/Eat Great even late/You gotta eat – Proof that fast food addles your brain to the point where proper grammar is impossible.
  • 100% Guaranteed Gasoline (Thornton's) – What, exactly, does this mean? Does mean that they guarantee that the gasoline is 100%? Or do they guarantee 100% of their Gasoline? Or is their Gasoline is 100% Guaranteed? Do tell…
  • Johnson & Johnson – a family company. Why do they keep telling us this? Surely the products speak for themselves?
  • Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. On the golf course, more like.

Ten lessons that the RIAA refuse to learn

  1. File Copying is not theft… though it might be copyright violation. The two are not the same.
  2. Piracy is not the problem that you think it is; not every pirate copy represents a lost sale. Not every lost sale costs you $150,000
  3. Suing your customers is not the answer that you think it is; it will alienate your future customers.
  4. Don’t waste your time trying to find an unbreakable lock – there ain’t no such animal.
  5. Any attempt to charge your customers more and give them less will not succeed.
  6. Your name notwithstanding, it’s not about “art” – it’s about entertainment. Ephemeral, disposable, forgettable.
  7. The high-profit, money-fer-nuthin’-and-yer-checks-fer-free days are gone; get over it.
  8. Just because a new technology could be used to break the law does not make it inherently wrong. If that were the case, guns, crowbars and boxcutters would have to be banned.
  9. Telling me that I may copy my own music for my own use while using technology and legislation to prevent me from doing so is hypocrisy, and it is wrong.
  10. Never forget that you are middlemen – and as such you are perceived as unimportant and unnecessary.

Stupid Car Names

  • Tundra – Large expanse of Barren Wilderness – a whole lot of nothing.
  • Canyon – Great big hole in the ground – another whole lot of nothing.
  • Grand Marquis – Fat Nobleman or Big Tent? You decide…
  • Rendezvous – Brazilian slang for an illicit… er… assignation. Don't come a-knockin' if the van is a rockin'.
  • Sequoia – Big. Old. Tree.
  • Cavalier – Careless or reckless. Do you really want such a person anywhere near you?
  • Tribute – Extortion, but on a national scale.
  • Mountaineer – Stupid parka-wearing git who swears a lot while risks life and limb in climing a perfectly harmless mountain. Why? "Because it's there"
  • Protege – Not the expert, the clueless apprentice standing next to him. Always two, there are
  • Caravan – a procession of camels and guys wearing sheets on their heads.

 Mine's a Saturn. I'm just glad that they did not name it after the next planet out.

Soccer Mom vs RIAA

It’s the same old story. Kid downloads music, parent gets letter from the RIAA demanding thousands of dollars to “settle”.

It’s happened over 3,000 times in this country in the past three years. Only this time there’s an interesting twist. This time, the victim – a divorced mother-of-five refuses to pay up and settle out of court and says “prove it”.

It’s about time that the RIAA’s scare tactics and stupid pricing (currently $150,000 per song) were publicly called into question. It is about time that they explained why a parent is responsible for something that children did. I am all for parental responsibility, but technology is an area where most kids can run rings around their parents.

This is not about right and wrong, or even about legal and illegal. It is about money, and the RIAA’s propping up an outmoded “buggy-whip” business model to which they have become accustomed.The same RIAA that is always bleating about the artists’ rights does not represent the artists – if they were they would not “forget” to pay them.

So how is this going to turn out? It could go three ways.

  1. RIAA drops the case. Given their legendary greed, this is unlikely, but this puts the RIAA in a rather embarrassing position – from fighting piracy they are now putting people in jail, which is not exactly the kind of publicity that they would like.
  2. RIAA wins and goes for the throat – puts momma in jail or makes her homeless – and counts their winnings while the world looks on in horror.
  3. RIAA, unable to prove their case, loses… and the floodgates open.

I cannot see any way that the RIAA can come out of this without incurring either public ridicule or public scorn. This is a battle that they cannot win. Perhaps they should just forget the lawsuits and concentrate on producing quality music at an affordable price.

Like that’s going to happen.

I’m not a cop – I’m a geek!

Cops in California have been pulling over members of the Geek Squad – the mobile troubleshooting service now owned by Best Buy (yuk). Why? Because their cars look like police cars

"The concern here is that someone sees a black-and-white car in a rearview mirror, dives for the shoulder [of the road] or makes a lane change too quickly, thinking that a police officer is there" said Wayne Ziese, sergeant with the Golden Gate division of the California Highway Patrol.

Ahem… if someone mistakes you for a cop and does something stupid, how is it your fault?

If you do something silly – like standing on the brake – when you see a cop, what does that say about your driving? I am sick of drivers who do as they please but have a suddenly attack of righteousness whenever a cop is in sight. That, dear reader, is best referred to as a lack of character.

Finally, if you cannot tell the difference between a Volkswagen Beetle and a Ford Crown Victoria in your rear-view mirror, I would question whether you should be allowed on the road at all.

Donut!

An article on effective ways to improve security.

My first job out of college was as a software engineer for a Military contractor. Those were the days of minicomputers and terminals.

If you wandered off and left a terminal logged in, you would return to some very grateful co-workers. While you were away, an enterprising individual had used your terminal to send an e-mail to the entire department promising that you were buying the drinks on Friday at lunchtime.

Thankfully, I never had to learn this expensive lesson, but twenty years later, it is a great way of enforcing security from within.

The Microsoft Motorcycle

A lighthearted look at Microsoft's somewhat distorted view of reality.

It happened to me…

I was at work, doing my thing when everything… just… FROZE. No warnings, no blue screen of Death, just…

nothing. Grumbling, I rebooted the machine, only to hear the ominous CLICK… CLICK… CLICK of a dead Hard Drive.

Fortunately We were able to find a spare Hard Drive of the same capacity that was not being used. That was the least of my worries.

Naturally, I had backups – some of which, in accordance with Murphy’s law, failed me when I needed them most.

There was also a lot of semi-important data on the HD that was not backed up and has now been lost forever. However, most of the critical stuff was recoverable. Even so, it took me over a week to the system rebuilt to the point where I could get any real work done – one of the most stressful weeks of my life.

The moral of this story is simple. When it comes to the security of your data, trust nothing and no-one. I’m an IT professional. I knew what I was doing. And even then, I almost lost everything.

It happened to me – it could happen to you.

How important is the Data on your Hard Disk?