Amazon, to my surprise, asked for Packaging Feedback on my last order, which happened to be the little Sansa music player and the even littler microSD card, both of which were encased in plastic clamshells that would presumably resist North Korean missiles. I told them that nothing, even if it’s marked as Retail Packaging, should require a Leatherman tool to open. On the upside, the box, though too large (as distinguished from Way Too Large), arrived speedily.
In other nature news, the skies are suddenly full of carnivorous birds. You can hardly look up without spotting a red-tailed hawk. Driving along Rt 80 is like going to The Hawk Show. There was a very big fallen bird on the shoulder of the road when I was winding my way through the Delaware Water Gap last weekend and a band of about 8 red tails kept diving down to snatch off pieces of it despite the stream of cars right next to it. I even saw two turkey buzzards flapping up from the road side farther into NJ.
I have to admit, this is more entertaining than watching the adapted-to-the-burbs birds hanging around the A&W just waiting for you to drop a French fry.
[M]ore and more products and services are being provided to “consumers” who aren’t really consumers because we/they don’t want whatever they are. The phone calls from telemarketers, carefully positioned around our dinnertime, become more frequent. A lot of them have to do with “taking surveys,” which I dunno, is that some kind of effort to get around the do-not-call laws? Well, I suppose it is to be expected. If you’re in business to provide something people actually want, it won’t be enough for people to want it, they have to be willing to part with cash in order to get it. That would be a lot of wait between the wanting right now, so I can see how it’s more appealing to provide something people don’t want.
Or at least less work.
Even so-called “free” stuff, which of course does not actually exist, is desperately vended. CFI Care (not its real initials) called me twenty-seven times last month after I failed to respond to some tedious letter of theirs about some “free” program in which they thought I should enroll. I figure, I’m already paying a physician to shake his head at me and groan; why do they think they ought to be patched into the loop? It is exactly this sort of behavior that makes people wonder if single-payer could possibly be any worse. But they kept calling — until the first of the month, anyway, when I presume the phone bank’s upsell quotas were reset.
I mean, the holiday is based on the turn of a calendar, an arbitrary cut-off of the revolution of the planet around the sun that comes in the middle of the deepest, darkest season: winter. To suddenly decide you’re going to change some element of yourself that you want to improve in the midst of the longest nights of the year seems a little, well, doomed to failure.
Managed by Jerry Capehart, she eventually took up with one of Capehart’s major clients: Eddie Cochran, for whom she wrote “Love Again.” In 1960, Cochran, Sheeley and Gene Vincent had hired a cab to London following a Bristol concert: Sheeley and Vincent were badly roughed up, and Cochran died from his injuries.
Returning to the States, Sheeley partnered with singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon; she eventually married deejay Jimmy O’Neill (a lad from Soonerland, you should know), and together they worked up a TV series for producer Chuck Barris, which was called Shindig. Eventually they split, and Sheeley retired from the music biz; she died in 2002.
My favorite Sheeley song, I think, is a collaboration with DeShannon titled “Breakaway” — or, more precisely, “Break-A-Way.” Tracey Ullman cut this as a single during her brief flirtation with pop music, and the giddy-schoolgirl video is pure Eighties. I’m sure Sharon loved it.
My Monday-night keyboard adventures took a wholly unexpected turn Tuesday. I had said that I was going to swap keyboards the next night, and I duly picked up a used but working model from the corporate parts locker. (I am one of the last people on earth using a PS/2 keyboard connector, it seems, so this won’t be missed, and yes, the sysadmin is aware of it.) But for the sheer hell of it, I decided to plug in my late, lamented IBM Model M, just to see what happened.
And the sucker worked perfectly, even on the keys that weren’t working before.
Conclusion: Despite my earlier diagnosis, something inside actually had gotten wet, and, in the manner of things gotten wet, dried out some time in the subsequent seven months.
Super Talent (!), the manufacturer of the keyboard gone bad, has since moved into products without moving parts. I’m not complaining, really: this particular keyboard was thrown in as a freebie when I had my current tower custom-built, and that was a good seven years ago.
We’re a group of nine female artists and designers who were tired of unreliable freelance projects and joy-killing day jobs. Lisa and I took a total leap of faith and left our jobs, launched a Kickstarter campaign and pretty much did exactly what you’re not supposed to do during a down-economy, but there you go. Eight months later, we’re doing booming business and we’re both starting to breathe normally again.
As a matter of policy, I flipped through some of their offerings, and I was weirdly delighted by these:
Our shoes are hand-painted and then triple sealed. This makes them waterproof, and it protects the paint from coming off. We’ve all been wearing our painted heels regularly for close to a year now, and they still look great. Small scuffs can simply be wiped with a damp cloth or some clear shoe polish.
If you plan to shuffle through gravel on a regular basis, though, we’d probably recommend a different pair of shoes (also, maybe another hobby).
The Federal Trade Commission was offering fifty large for some new ideas on how to deal with telemarketers and their ilk, and they’ve announced two winners:
[Aaron] Foss’s proposal, which he called Nomorobo, would use “simultaneous ringing” to route incoming calls to a second line. The second line would then be responsible for identifying the bad calls and hanging up on them. The software, he said, identifies robocallers with an algorithm he compared to an e-mail spam filter that looks for specific characteristics of the callers. It will work on both mobile and traditional phones.
[Serdar] Danis’s proposal uses software that people could implement through a mobile app, an electronic device in their home or as a part of their provider’s telephone service to block unwanted calls by consulting lists of good and bad phone numbers.
What’s disappointing here is not so much that the FTC doesn’t plan to mandate either of these schemes, as the fact that neither of them contains the terms “incendiary” or “electrical shock.”
To an airline, both you and your baggage present basically the same issue: how much you weigh. Samoa Air, which flies around the south Pacific, figures that it may as well charge you that way: they weigh you and your bags together, and you pay so much per kilogram, based on the length of the trip. (A short hop might be $1/kg; if you’re headed to Australia it might be more than $4/kg.)
“Airlines don’t run on seats, they run on weight, and particularly the smaller the aircraft you are in the less variance you can accept in terms of the difference in weight between passengers … Anyone who travels at times has felt they have been paying for half of the passenger next to them.”
Decidedly unsvelte as I am, I think this is a swell idea, if only because it’s totally at odds with today’s nickel-and-dime-you-to-death fares and fees.
If the manager is setting workproduct goals that correctly meet his expectations, and the employee is meeting these goals, why on earth does management give a damn what the employee is doing?
The real problem here — and why managers hate the idea of telecommuting — it that it deprives them of the ability to micromanage employees on a minute by minute basis. Absent such tangible evidence of their necessity to the work process, they become nervous at the notion that higher management just might notice how little they actually contribute to the overall work product.
This doesn’t really apply to 42nd and Treadmill, since (1) I have to turn out vast quantities of printed materials, which I couldn’t do from home, and (2) unlike some places, we are not blessed/cursed (take your pick) with an overabundance of middle management.
Still, I have this elsewhere on the corkboard, much plainer and much smaller: “1 manager = 1,048,576 micromanagers.”
Tesla Motors announced [Sunday] that sales of its Model S vehicle exceeded the target provided in the mid-February shareholder letter. As customers who note their Model S serial number this weekend will realize, vehicle deliveries (sales) exceeded 4,750 units vs. the 4,500 unit prior outlook. As a result, Tesla is amending its Q1 guidance to full profitability, both GAAP and non-GAAP.
Well, whaddaya know, people will buy those electric buggies. And they prefer the pricier models, too:
Also being announced today is that the small battery option for the Model S will not enter production, due to lack of demand. Only four percent of customers chose the 40 kWh battery pack, which is not enough to justify production of that version. Customers are voting with their wallet that they want a car that gives them the freedom to travel long distances when needed.
The customers who ordered this option will instead receive the 60 kWh pack, but range will be software limited to 40 kWh. It will still have the improved acceleration and top speed of the bigger pack, so will be a better product than originally ordered, and can be upgraded to the range of the 60 kWh upon request by the original or a future owner.
Given that Tesla’s customer base is made up of extremely wealthy EV enthusiasts who are looking to the Model S as either a) a status symbol b) a third car or c) an outright toy, the death of the 40 kWh model makes sense. Few would realistically want a base Model S whether because of status signalling or the reduced performance (in terms of both acceleration and range). Customers interested in the Model S are much more likely to gravitate to the 60 kWh model or the full-bore 85 kWh version, in the same way that the S63 AMG is the best way to use the Mercedes S-Class as an expression of one’s wealth.
Based on this premise, the upcoming Cadillac ELR, a somewhat Voltier Volt with a $60k price tag, might actually outsell the cheaper Chevy.
I whine a lot about writing, but I never have whined quite so persuasively as this:
From the wellspring that is encouragement and noodging from those of you who actually like this crap, I’ve been slowly, o yea verily so very slowly, compiling stuff to try to be A Book Writer. Being A Book Writer is hard shit, Schmidt, I tell you that. You know how when you try to get a decent shopping list together and you can’t really remember exactly what there are two of in the word “broccoli,” is it Cs or Ls? Yeah, well, multiply that by about infinity and herd some cats while you’re at it, and it’s a close approximation of organizing what passes for thoughts for me.
Selling it, I suspect, will be much easier: she’s guaranteed one sale just in this household.
(Besides, the book tour will almost certainly be An Event To Remember.)
It was decidedly scary. I had just logged in to post something, when the browser window closed. Then TweetDeck closed. Then the mail client dropped, and the system shut down.
“What is this? Some sort of zero-day exploit?” I’m still not sure. I swapped out the keyboard and the up-acting quit acting up; on the other hand, I’d started up Malwarebytes, and it didn’t seem happy with what it found. I’ll swap in yet another keyboard tomorrow night.
Update: Second pass, MBAM found nothing, keyboard acted silly. Q.E.D.