Holy Ship Batman!

Last week I was cleaning up old email and found a gift certificate I received from Cisco for participating in a survey three years ago.  I couldn’t recall ever ordering anything from the logo store.  Not sure if the three year old gift certificate would still be good I surfed over to see what my rediscovered $25 would buy me.

I have long since stopped ever wearing branded clothing.  “Vendorwear” was a pretty common look when I was a core network guy working in the Engineering department but as a customer facing employee with multiple product lines I make it a point to never wear a logo.  Even outside of work I won’t wear vendor logos.  I like to keep work and home as separate as possible. I am probably geeky enough without advertising it.

After ruling out all branded clothing, anything over $25, and all printed books I had the usual collection of cups, pens, mice, and office miscellany one always finds. Since I am partial to the Apple Magic mouse, and my wife already has the largest collection of coffee cups any three households needs I eventually narrowed it down to a simple nondescript notebook.  I can always use a notebook even if just to sketch.  At $11.99 I could even buy two.

Ok, let’s see if that gift certificate is still good.  Add to cart -> checkout -> enter number.  Success!  Wow, I was betting against that.  Cool.  Maybe I will go back and make it two notebooks then.  Edit shopping cart…whoa!  $42 shipping??!?!  For a 7×5′ notebook shipped using ground economy??

Around the office we sometimes comment that with the ever changing certification requirements some vendors must be in the training business more than the hardware business (yeah, you know who who are).  Now I think they are also in the shipping business.

Edit cart – delete item.  Back to the email -> delete.

Thanks for nothing.



I don’t follow mainstream news sources

I hardly ever make much attempt to follow the news, or at least news from the mainstream sources. I don’t watch national or regional TV news shows. I don’t read national or international newspapers. I read my local paper maybe 2 or 3 times a week. I surf to news web sites a scan headlines maybe once or twice a month.

Does that make me out of touch? Am I being irresponsible with my civic duties? I don’t know, maybe. I don’t believe it does though. Being responsible also includes critical thought, counterpoint opinions, and actual action on your part. Eating a staple diet of headlines doesn’t do that and some will argue it prevents it, but I don’t want to go down that rat hole today. Suffice it to say that many major news outlets no longer do much real journalism anymore. The 5th estate is a watered down thing.

This morning I fired up one of my favorite aggregation tools Flipboard and looked through the News category. Grim. Below I have listed the story counts by subject and tone. I went until I started to see repeating subjects, in today’s case the zoo that killed the healthy young giraffe and fed it to the carnivores at the zoo. I ended up scanning through 37 articles.

Subject – count of stories
Immigration/xenophobia – 3
Nuke fear/drum beating – 5
Bad economy – 2
Terror attack – 5
State sanctioned violence – 4
Bad politicians – 2
Articles about anything in my country – 0

Today is also day 3 of the Sochi Olympics. The first Olympic story ran in 36th place. The first positive story ran in position 27. The total number of positive stories was 2 out of 37.

This list of stories is advertised as a hand curated list of the biggest stories in the world. Sorry, but medical marijuana in Alabama, a lack of action in the US Congress, and the scrapping of an old US aircraft carrier seriously can’t be the biggest stories in the world.

I like Flipboard, and will continue to use it. I guess I need to tweak the News feeds. Obviously their curators and I have a different opinion about what’s news. Besides, I would prefer to encourage positive change by celebrating the successes rather than more handwringing over the failures.

Yeah, whatever, buddy

I know I guy who thinks his poop doesn’t stink.  You know the type, the kind that cultivates an entourage to help maintain the illusion.  Who’s every project has a superlative adjective; the first, the biggest, the most complex, the most strategic.  I’m not saying that he does bad work.  Quite the contrary.

It’s just that he, like most people of this ilk, is highly competitive.  To him it is a zero sum game. In order for him to advance someone must fall.  The most common target for people like this are the ones they consider to be the biggest competition.  One of the favorite weapons I see used are campaigns to undermine the credibility of others.  Anything from innuendo to out right lies to actively undoing other peoples work.  Claiming undue credit is another very common tact. Restricting access to information or distributing misinformation is also common.

I recently got a message from someone looking for help to bail out a project in trouble.  Seems some promises were made and not kept, some deadlines missed.  Guess who’s project?  Yup, Mr. Perfect’s. As tempting as it may be to rub his face in it like he would do and has done I can’t do that.  It’ s just not who I am.

I am a strong believer that everything comes around.  The past will eventually catch up to these people even if I may not be there to see it.  I consider my reaction taking the high rode.  Other people may call me a fool, and that’s ok by me too.  I carry my own ruler and by my ruler I measure up just fine thank you.



On The Road…please keep driving…away.

My wife and I watched On The Road the other night. This is the Walter Salles rendition of the Jack Kerouac book of the same name. At the end of the movie we both had the exact same opinion; the movie had the exact same feel as the book and neither of us cared.

I am not saying the movie is completely faithful to the book. There is no way I could say that because after three attempts to actually finish the book I finally gave up. Reading On The Road is like reading a 1000 page technical specification. Each page tells you something and the story advances but there is no point to it. There is no compelling reason to turn the page.

The movie is the same. Each new scene is a consistent extension of the movie, but who cares? I have no more interest in the characters and their situation than I do the day to day office life of my neighbor three doors down. I don’t blame the director, or the actors, or the script. I think they probably did an commendable job bringing the book to the screen. The problem is the book, the story itself.

The movie (and the 100 or so pages of the book that I managed to read) unfold like a diary of a day in the life of the average guy. Sure, they did unusual not so average things. Not everyone runs off to Mexican whorehouses on a whim and gets dysentery. Not everyone drives across the USA living on shoplifted food and amphetamines. But who cares? There is no tension. We don’t care about the people. We are not interested in their next exploit.

Maybe it’s generational and I just don’t relate. The Beat Generation is before my time. I don’t appreciation Johnny Knoxville either. Is On The Road simply the Jackass of it’s time? A bunch of 20 somethings off doing immature and irresponsible party tricks to the amusement of only themselves and their friends?

A book that rates being labeled a classic and called a “defining work of the post-war generation”? Maybe. Entertainment? No way.

Creative Cloud is unCreative Robbery

I was very disappointed to find out Adobe had decided to end sales of Creative Suite in favor of a leasing model through Creative Cloud. Judging from a few minutes surfing the web the vast majority of web posters agree.

In my case I had looked at the option when I was thinking about upgrading to CS6. Based on the upgrade costs and frequency I calculated an upgrade to CS6 was more economical for me than moving to the Cloud. Since I had already made the big investment in the original purchase, upgrades were about half the price. Yes, some of the Cloud features interest me. I would like to play with Muse, but not at $180 per year. I also do not need to storage and collaboration aspect of Creative Cloud. I already have several cloud storage accounts and as a one man design shop I have no real collaboration requirements.

Frankly I don’t see how Adobe can claim CC is cheaper even if you include the original full retail cost of the software. It looks cheaper for the first 10 years but then the pendulum swings in favor of buying. Yes, 10 years is a long time but how long have you owned a copy of Microsoft Office? Designers who use the applications in CS are long term users. Career users. These are not typically consumer level buyers. No one I know would buy Illustrator over the other alternatives out there just to play around, not when Illustrator is 5 to 6 times the price.

The other big gotcha with Adobe’s plan and possibly the biggest one is when you quite paying, you have nothing. Going back to my 10 payback model, you would have spent $6000 and will have exactly nothing to show for it the day you let you subscription lapse. With a purchase model I would still have functioning copies of all of the applications in the suite.

I do like the cloud only concept though. I usually buy as a download if I can, and avoiding the packaging step does allow for immediate version updates as bug fixes and new features are developed. On this point I agree with Adobe.

It really comes down to the pricing. Adobe has just doubled my future cost of ownership and I have received very little in return. Practically nothing. Certainly nothing worth more than $5 per month for some storage.

I have to agree with the posting populous. It a straight out money grab. I am going to hold off for as long as possible. Maybe they will get enough of a backlash and change their mind, just like they did with the Touch app Kuler.

Wake Up!

You have to read this, corporate malfeasance definitely suggested. Once again Europe is leading the charge, trying to save us from ourselves. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has studies that prove bee colony collapse is definitively linked to pesticides.  There is something to be said about the different regulatory regimes in North America versus Europe.  Here in North America corporations hold sway.  Despite an abundance of evidence that the fox is in the hen house govenment regulators continue to lay down and let themselves be bought to approve the purely short term and avericious desires of multi-nationals.  By far the worst offenders in my opinion are the chemical companies related to food production.

Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, had originally signed up to be an expert witness on behalf of beekeepers who brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in 2003. He suddenly dropped out—and immediately received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination, which has continued in recent years. It should come as no surprise that Bayer pesticides were never mentioned in the study as a potential cause of CCD …

….Beelogics, a company whose primary goal is to control colony collapse disorder, has just been bought by Monsanto. That means any research from Beelogics may now be compromised.

Pesticides Definitively Linked to Bee Colony Collapse

According to this article nearly one-third of US cropland is planted with crops treated with neuroactive insecticides which are known to be highly toxic to bees.  Similiarily roughly one-third of crop species in the US are pollinated exclusively by honeybees, including fresh vegetables and fruits.  Half of the food supply is at risk if bees die off.

Just as in the GMO crop debate, you need to get involved.  Start by getting educated.  You need to know the extent to which chemical companies are spinning the truth and suppressing facts.  In Canada we need to speak and and demand the return of appropriate levels of oversight.  Restore the government labs, the testing facilities, protect the scientists who speak out.  Over the past 20 years we have an abysmal record. 

Food science not your thing?  Try big pharma.  Ask yourself what company, in a purely capitalism based ecomony, will purposely take action to put itself out of business.  Then ask yourself why we have not progressed in the search for cures. All we get is symptom treatments.  See all these TV commericals for prescription drugs? Want to really scare yourself sometime? Research how drugs get to market, you will find lots are invented first then the drugs companies go looking for an ailment.  Then we end up talking about pseudo-ailments like fibromyalgia and treating them with anti-depressants.