Wednesday, October 22, 2003

For English Press 1

I really hate voicemail and automated telephony systems

This has to be the stupidest phrase in the history of automated phrases. The person who decided this great feature was surely some idiot who hadn't clearly thought through the problem. IF I can understand English, and your telling me in English to press 1, then I don't need to press 1, your already speaking my language. We already have a basis for a shared communicative interaction. I am not knocking non-English speakers at all. If I speak Spanish for example and don't understand English, then of course there has to be an option for me to figure out how to get to Spanish. The proper automated phrase is "Para continuar en espaņol, prensa quatro" or whatever the exact Spanish translation is for "To continue in Spanish press 4".

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Adventures on Bart

I was going down the escalator, and some damn dumb lady was walking slowly along in the left hand side of the escalator, passing people standing on the right at like 1 mile an hour, just like those semi's do on I5 down to LA. About 1/3 of the way down I hear the BART announcement: "10 car Pittsburg Baypoint train now boarding platform one." Thats my train! The next one wont be showing up for another 20 mintues, so I say "excuse me", and she picks up her pace to about 2.5 miles an hour still staying in the left lane. At 2/3rds of the way down the escalator I have the opportunity to switch to the right and pass her and I run down the rest of the escalator and race for the closest open door. As I approach within 5 feet the "door-is-closing-ding" chimes and I burst through the doors. The rubber stop that separates the doors hits my right leg and leaves a black smudge, and my briefcase is actually wedged in between the doors. I yank on it pulling it through the doors and make it into the train as the overhead speaker sounds "The doors on this train are obstructed", as we slowly pull out of the station. Immediately I make my way through the door's on the end of the car to the adjacent car as people stare. Another work day is winding down.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Blog this! Book blog be gone.

I love to read. I always have a book I am reading. I always have, and I suspect and hope I always will. A couple of years ago I decided to keep track of the books I had read. A short review of my thoughts and impressions of the book. I did so for a couple of reasons. First, sometimes I had a hard time remember what I read when, and sometimes exactly what I felt or thought about a book and its main plot points. Secondly, I enjoy talking with others about the books I read and this was a way to easily share with them. As I started to think about blogging (and in general I don't think much of it), I noticed that my book reviews were similar to a blog. I "posted" on a regular basis and each entry was self contained. So a couple of months ago I decided to switch the book review to a blog. I took all the book reviews from this past year and cut them into separate HTML snippets and manually posted each one with blogger. Right off the bat blogger frustrated me. It is EXTREMELY hard to configure the FTP publishing of a blog to a directory other than the root of a website. Especially trying to get the archive publishing to work. The application seemed to remember settings other than what it displayed, and most damning was that the errors reported back to you when a ftp put failed was that there was no context to the error. You didn't get a message about what had attempted to have been blogged and what file failed. Just a message that said "Failed to put file". So I was unhappy to begin with. Then I got some feedback from a colleague who looked at my reviews and said "the new format blows". Some of that I think is his general disdain for blogging and bloggers, some of which I hold myself, despite the irony of my writing this, and some of it I agree with. Namely how the individual blog format tended to break up the flow of browsing. So Blog this! I am abandoning the book blog and going back to the old format. Its not really that hard to copy a table row anyway.

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