Friday, February 12, 2010

WordPress for reals this time

I'm finicky. I know.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Debunking The Bullshit, vol. 1

This may be a regular thing, god knows I get enough of these asinine emails.

My grandfather, I love him dearly, but he has a problem. His problem is that he will readily and willfully believe any right-wing propaganda you put in front of him. Not only will he believe it, but he will also forward it on to all his friends, and family. Sadly, I fear most of them are just as willing to accept this drivel as truth. Lately I’ve begun to become a little disillusioned with constantly debunking the bullshit. I’m almost certain my grandfather either does not even bother reading any responses to the emails he shovels out to everyone in his address book. Or if he does actually read them, he’s so rigid in his bias that he truly believes everything he sends out is absolute gospel, and any rebuttal is patently false.

Basically I spend a lot of time debunking junk email. Hoaxes, conspiracies, political rhetoric, etc. And rather than let them fade into the black nothingness of these inboxes, I’m going to post them here, followed by my rebuttal. I’ll probably revisit some past ones too (yes, I save all my sent email, and almost all of my incoming email. You never know when you’ll need that blackmail... errr, random tidbit of information. Yeah, that’s it!), but today I’m gonna take care of one I just received.

Here’s the text of an email I received today (and I apologize now for the horrendous abuse of the english language* in the author’s commentary. I feel I should also make it clear, my grandfather did not write this, just forwarded it.):

Tiger Woods is a Highly Educated Individual who was properly raised and taught to be his own man by an educated Mother and Father.
You can readily see that Tiger Woods listened to his parents and remains very proud of them both.
Many citizens are not aware of the following, which is the reason for me sending this e-mail to my friends and I would appreciate you sending it on to your friends.  Thanks, Frank
Tiger Woods received a special invitation to speak at the Obama inauguration.
His inviters were stunned, shocked when he did not deliver the message they expected.
A brief read and you will understand why the media swept Woods' remarks under the rug with no further ado and why the liberal left of our American society was again displeased with Tiger.
His speech was entitled
 "You'll Never Walk Alone"
[text is word-for-word as posted on Tiger's web site]
"I grew up in a military family - and my role models in life were my Mom and Dad, Lt. Colonel Earl Woods.
My dad was a Special Forces operator and many nights friends would visit our home.
They represented every branch of the service, and every rank.
In my Dad, and in those guests, I saw first hand the dedication and commitment of those who serve.
They come from every walk of life; from every part of our country.
Time and again, across generations, they have defended our safety in the dark of night and far from home.
Each day -- and particularly on this historic day -- we honor the men and women in uniform who serve our country and protect our freedom.
They travel to the dangerous corners of the world, and we must remember that for every person who is in uniform, there are families who wait for them to come home safely.
I am honored that the military is such an important part, not just of my personal life, but of my professional one as well.
The golf tournament we do each year here in Washington is a testament to those unsung heroes.
I am the son of a man who dedicated his life to his country, family and the military, and I am a better person for it.
In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln, the man at whose memorial we stand, spoke to the 164th Ohio Regiment and said, 'I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country.'
Just as they have stood tall for our country - we must always stand by and support the men and women in uniform and their families.
Thank you, and it is now my pleasure to introduce the US Naval Glee Club ..."
Tiger Woods' 2-minute, 5-second tribute to the our nation's military was delivered January 18th at the Inaugural Celebration in Washington , DC .
He had been subjected to intense pressure to attend and offer remarks.
Especially so by liberals who have demeaned and criticized him for a decade for not joining their ranks.
Yet, at the Lincoln Memorial, instead of paying homage to Barack Obama, Tiger paid tribute to our soldiers.
Not once did Tiger mention Obama, the inauguration or the new administration.
Understanding that expressing his love for America and his appreciation for our military men and women would disappoint the national news media and the liberal left, he did what he thought was best for the people of our country.
But Tiger, being is his own man, just as his father taught him to be his own man.
Somewhere over that cold, gray Washington sky, Colonel Earl Woods was smiling down on his beloved son.
And there will be one more crying hug waiting for Tiger when the time comes he passes through heaven's gates into God's arms.
What's that you say?
You did not previously know what Tiger said?
You did not see a video clip of him speaking on any national television network?
You did not see a photo of Tiger at the Lincoln Memorial offering his remarks honoring our military.
You did not read a story in the NY Times?
His appearance at the Inaugural Celebration had been widely hailed and promoted in advance by the Obama inaugural organizers ... yet January 18 when he came and spoke ... afterwards, a black out.
If you are as tired of the biased, hypocritical, liberal media hoopla as I am, please send this on to your friends.  Thanks.

Hell, I shouldn’t even have to post the Snopes link, the email itself says the speech took place on January 18th.  The inauguration was on January 20th.  It was also at the White House, not the Lincoln Memorial, which this email reveals to be the place where this speech happened.

From the email:
“In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln, the man at whose memorial we stand”
“Tiger Woods’ 2-minute, 5-second tribute to the our nation’s military was delivered January 18th”

He’s introducing the US Naval Glee Club, also revealed in the text of the email, of course:
“Thank you, and it is now my pleasure to introduce the US Naval Glee Club”

Now, what happened on January 18th at the Lincoln Memorial, you may wonder? A concert.  As a part of the lead-up to the inauguration ceremony, a concert entitled “We Are One” was held. Broadcast live and uncut on HBO, which they aired for free even to non-HBO subscribers. Unfortunately the video was only available for one week after the event.

But hey, here’s some liberal media covering (or is it “covering up“?) the event live: you may want to pay particular attention to the update posted at 3:34 pm. Because that’s when Tiger gave his speech. So much for a “liberal media blackout.”

Oh, and here’s a video of it from the live HBO feed: guess they just forgot to flip the switch to kill that feed, huh?

Just for the sake of completion, here’s the Snopes link:

There is something I am tired of, though.  I’m tired of the biased, hyperbolic drivel that passes for truth in these emails. You don’t even have to dig for this stuff, it’s all readily available with a quick Google search. I find it appalling that some of you are so eager and willing to believe whatever bullshit is delivered to your inbox. As long as it fits your worldview, it must be true, right?

*I should mention the atrocious misuse of the english language seems to be a common thread in all these political propaganda emails. I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t be taking any political advice from someone so obviously uneducated. A third grader could form more coherent sentences and paragraphs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One (Three) Artist(s) (Led Zeppelin, Dream Theater, Metallica)

You know I can't do just one, and I don't want to flood this with three individual notes. So here goes!

Starting with the best, obviously.

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to a gazillion people and include me. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think.

Artist: Led Zeppelin

Are you male or female: Poor Tom
Describe yourself: Communication Breakdown
How do you feel about yourself: What Is and What Should Never Be
Describe where you currently live: In the Light
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Ocean
Your best friend is: Going to California
Your favorite color is: Black Dog
What's the weather like: White Summer
If your life was a tv show, what would it be called?: Good Times, Bad Times
Favorite Form of Transportation: Walter's Walk
Your Last Relationship: Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Your Youth: Ten Years Gone
Your Fear: The Song Remains The Same
What is life to you: Friends
What is the best advice you have to give: That's the Way
If you could change your name, what would it be: Boogie With Stu
Favorite time of the day: In The Evening
Favorite Thing to do on the Weekend: Bring It On Home
How Will You Die: When The Levee Breaks
Your Motto: Rock and Roll

Next up: Artist: Dream Theater

Are you male or female: Sacrificed Sons
Describe yourself: Innocence Faded
How do you feel about yourself: Finally Free
Describe where you currently live: Home
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Peruvian Skies
Your best friend is: Misunderstood
Your favorite color is: Black Clouds & Silver Linings (cheating a bit here, using the album name. sue me.)
What's the weather like: Burning My Soul
If your life was a tv show, what would it be called?: The Great Debate
Favorite Form of Transportation: I Walk Beside You
Your Last Relationship: Never Enough
Your Youth: Constant Motion
Your Fear: Pull Me Under
What is life to you: A Change Of Seasons
What is the best advice you have to give: Take The Time
If you could change your name, what would it be: The Count of Tuscany
Favorite time of the day: The Dark Eternal Night
Favorite Thing to do on the Weekend: Just Let Me Breathe
How Will You Die: Fatal Tragedy
Your Motto: The Spirit Carries On

And finally: Artist: Metallica

Are you male or female: King Nothing
Describe yourself: The Outlaw Torn
How do you feel about yourself: The Frayed Ends of Sanity
Describe where you currently live: Where the Wild Things Are
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Wherever I May Roam
Your best friend is: Better Than You
Your favorite color is: Fade To Black
What's the weather like: Jump in the Fire
If your life was a tv show, what would it be called?: Whiplash
Favorite Form of Transportation: Ride The Lightning
Your Last Relationship: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Your Youth: The Struggle Within
Your Fear: (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
What is life to you: Sweet Amber
What is the best advice you have to give: Shoot Me Again
If you could change your name, what would it be: St. Anger
Favorite time of the day: Dyers Eve
Favorite Thing to do on the Weekend: Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
How Will You Die: Damage, Inc.
Your Motto: The Thing That Should Not Be

Friday, August 7, 2009

Man vs. Eternally Broken Xbox 360: A Novel (via Consumerist)

I was flipping through headlines on Google Reader this morning, and came across this article over at Consumerist:

 Being a jaded Xbox 360 owner who's watched his console give up the ghost five times, it takes a lot for a tale of Microsoft customer service woe to move me. And yet a reader named Gower accomplished just that by sending a novel-length soliloquy about his maddening run through Xbox 360 hell. What follows is the Cliffs Notes version (grab your hankies):

I had purchased an Xbox 360 about two years ago and during that time I had to send it to Microsoft four-five times for repairs under warranty for various things- red rings, cd drive not working etc.
Because of all the issues with the Xbox Microsoft extended the warranty to three years for additional issues, and in mid May my Xbox stopped working after giving red rings and error messages before having no video on the screen at all.

Gower called customer service and set up the repair. Or so he thought.

The next day I get a message from Sam saying he needed to talk to me further about the issue with no further explanation. All calls made to Sam to try to reach him went unanswered. I did get calls back from Sam at times I specifically said I could not be reached and he left messages telling me to call him back. This went back and forth for a bit until one day it looks like he made a mistake and called me when I told him I was actually available. So what does he do? He hangs up on me as soon as I answer! He then calls me back a half hour later, after I was at work and tells me that due to not being able to reach me he is closing my case.
I then resorted to contacting the BBB on May 26thand a few days later I was contacted by a supervisor named Sean at Xbox support. He apologized and said they would send a box out to return my Xbox through UPS and overnight it to me and I received a tracking number a little later.

Gower's 360 coffin was shipped not to him, but to someone down the road who wasn't there. He had to convince UPS to get the package to him at his proper address. Then he sent the 360 to Microsoft, which promptly told him he'd receive his refurbished unit in short order. Bet you can guess where it was shipped.

I checked the tracking number and it said they tried to deliver but nobody was home at another address that was not mine, again. I called UPS and told them again that they are trying to deliver to someone elses house and to deliver to the correct one tomorrow. I again told Sean about the shipping problems and he told me again he would contact them to straighten the issue out. I was a bit upset at this point as someone was being careless and I didn't like the thought of UPS giving a $300 console to complete strangers.
I got the Xbox delivered to me the next day, however I was quite shocked to find the console was damaged! The USB door was missing from the console and the front of the console was covered in deep scratches like someone had dropped it on the ground several times, and there was the sound of something broken and rattling around inside the console. The box it shipped in had no dents or signs of damage, and there was no sign of the missing usb door in the box so it must have been damaged by the repair center.

Gower e-mailed his good pal Sean, who blamed the damage on UPS and said he'd get another console out to him. Guess where the package ended up?

I waited again for the box to come, and YET AGAIN no box showed up. I went online to check the tracking number and it said in the notes it was delivered to someone elses house yet again, but this time a woman accepted the package at this address and signed for it.
I called UPS quite mad at this point about the errors. It was at this time I found out that nobody from Microsoft called to report the shipping errors or the damage to the console! I emailed the supervisor Sean back relayed back what UPS told me, and he had the nerve to say he never promised to contact UPS about the damage, and that its not his responsibility to contact UPS about the shipping errors! First of all, Microsoft is the shipper so they are in fact required to contact UPS about the errors, as they should have anyways. Added to this, I have save email transcripts from Sean telling me that he would contact them. I even copied quotes from him about him promising to contact UPS about the damage and the shipping errors. So what does he do in response? He emails me back saying that arguing is not going to solve anything and he is ceasing contact with me and will send another shipping box to my address and will only send electronic updates once my Xbox is received and replaced. At this point I had to call Microsoft several times and report how Sean was treating me and handling the case and was able to get the case transferred to another supervisor named Michael who communicated from there on.

When Gower finally got his "like new" 360, which turned out to be the exact same console he had sent in, broken USB door and all. He contacted Michael, who acted as though he didn't believe him and requested pictures. Michael said he didn't know why the repair or replacement wasn't made and sent out another coffin. Gower tried to escalate his complaint and sent two dozen e-mails out but got no replies.

I finally get yet another replacement box, ship it out, and after a week I get confirmation that my Xbox is being sent back. I check online while at work to see the status of the delivery, only to find the message says it was left on front steps of the house (whose, I don't know) at 11:30am, at least seven hours before I get home. I am alarmed since all my other packages have required signatures and I don't know whose bright idea it was to leave a $300 Xbox on the steps without a signature. Ive called UPS and Microsoft and each are placing the blame on the other and neither wants to help me now. Microsoft said they need to run an investigation as to what happened but I have not heard from them about what theyre doing yet. I did get a call from my supervisor Michael yesterday, but he address me by someone elses name (he dialed the wrong customers number). When I told him my name, he hung up on me. No apology or explanation, he just hung up on me. Wont answer his phone or return emails either.
It's now two and a half months since I contacted Microsoft to have the Xbox repaired under warranty. I have resorted to buying a brand new console at the store since I have many Xbox games and HD-DVDs that are useless without a console to play them on. I don't know what to do at this point…

It was the HD-DVD part that really hit home, because the obsolete high-def movie format is a symbol for all the trust Microsoft's customers have channeled into its products, only to be trampled on. I once owned a bunch of HD-DVDs but ended up making the walk of shame to sell them at a used book store. And I've been through console repair misadventures. Most of us have. To suffer through poor customer service, dream of a better tomorrow and double down on your investments is the way of the Xbox 360 gamer.
(Photo: dirtyblueshirt)

I won't buy a 360 until they're reliable, and at this point, it doesn't look like they're EVER going to be reliable.

What really bothers me, is the people, like Gower here, that even despite having had their system repaired/replaced 4-5 times, AND getting mistreated by customer service on this latest failure... will still go out and buy another 360, knowing what a piece of crap it is, and how horribly they can expect to be treated in the future.

Masochists. No other word for it.

Were I in this situation, I'd chalk it up as a lesson learned, sell the HD-DVDs and 360 games, and be done with this mess. I don't care how good you think the games are, nothing is worth putting up with this abuse. Besides, most of the games are on PC and/or PS3 anyway, if you really feel you need to keep playing them.

Putting up with the abuse, AND buying replacement systems even when your current one is still under warranty because you're getting shafted, all you're doing is validating and justifying their abusive practice. And sending the message that you don't care how incompetently they design their systems, or how badly they treat you as a customer, you'll keep giving them your money for the privilege of letting them abuse you.

This article also kind of hits a personal note, as I have a few friends who've been bitten by the ever unreliable 360. One of whom has also purchased a second (possibly even a third now, I don't remember) system, while his warranty system was actually out for repair.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal, PayPal, and probably more...

All targets of a massive DDoS attack this morning, and still ongoing, it seems.

I can't be the only one thinking this has something to do with today being the 64th anniversary of Hiroshima.  A "nuking" of the web, so to speak.  Target some of the most popular, high traffic sites, and take them down.

In all the news I can find on it, people seem to be fixated on a possible link to the hacker convention, Defcon, which ended Sunday. But that doesn't make any sense to me. Why wait until Thursday, if that were the case? Why wait at all?

No, it seems a little too suspicious that it would happen on the anniversary of Hiroshima. And that no one seems to be getting that, definitely has caused me a few facepalm moments this morning, while reading the articles and comments.