Archive for the ‘Torture’ Category

I got a feeling

A feeling deep inside.

Oh yeah.

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Tech support with MindVision Software

I’m having a tech support experience with MindVision Software, so I thought it would be helpful to the company and to their customers to write it up here.

I need an app to create a DMG for my Mac software. So I asked here what to do, and got back several answers, and decided to blow the $20 to purchase a copy of FileStorm. I tried it out first, it seemed to do what I wanted, and when it was time to actually pay the money, I went for the $79 version that also creates installers.

I pasted the activation code into the dialog, and it hung. I force-quit the app after waiting over a minute. Then when I tried to relaunch, I got a dialog that said Product Activation error, blah blah blah and offered two choices, Run Demo or Reactivate. Both options cause the program to hang and require a force-quit. After doing this a half-dozen times, reinstalling the app, trying a few more times, I decided it was time to call the company, in Lincoln, Nebraska, 402-323-6600.

After going through a few messages, I found out that I would have to read their FAQ on the website, because they didn’t provide phone support for FileStorm or FileStorm Pro (the one that I purchased). I pressed 0 for operator, and started to explain what was going on to the operator, she interrupted when she heard the error code, and said that’s all she needed to know. I waited on hold for a minute (at least it wasn’t longer) and was told that the tech support manager said I would have to send email. I asked to please speak to the tech support manager. She put me on hold, and then a minute later the line disconnected. Since I was going to have to write up the problem via email, I decided to write it up on my weblog and send them the URL.

8:45AM Pacific: After writing up the description, I wrote and sent an email to the address they provided for support (yeah, it’s the sales address, oy).


1. As of 12:30PM Pacific, still no response from MindVision. 2.5 hours ago, Jim provided the solution that worked. If I had been depending on the company, well I probably would have written off the $79 by now.

2. The answer came, via email, at 2:30PM.

Under the Radar Notes

Daily Princetonian: “The trip to the bathroom was actually a break from thesis research, and it occurred just a few minutes after I learned from my reading that credit for the first “blog” is given to someone named Dave Winer, who created his revolutionary web log way back in 1996. Useless as this fact may be, it had me thinking about blogs as I journeyed to the commode.”

We’re hearing a pitch from a company named Dabble DB, a name that looks pretty innocuous on the page, but just try saying it out loud quickly without breaking out in laughter.

I can’t use my aggregator either, it runs on port 5335 on one of my servers. So basically I can only read the way I did in 1996, hunting and pecking looking for sites that changed. I guess it’s good for me. 😦

Apparently Gmail turned me back on. Whew.

My dad says the CIO Insight picture doesn’t actually look like me, but says it’s a nice picture. “It conveys a feeling of affection for you.”

9:05AM: I’m at the Under the Radar conference in Mountain View on the Microsoft campus. They have wifi, but unfortunately all the ports but 80 and 110 (web and mail, respectively) are blocked, which means I can’t update Scripting News, since my CMS operates over one of the blocked ports.

It’s their world, not mine

Listening to Art Buchwald on the radio, being interviewed by Diane Rehm. He’s in a hospice, having refused treatment for kidney disease, so he’s dying. It takes a lot of guts to talk with a guy who’s about to die, but what an interview! Wow. Made me think of so many things.

One was a problem I’m having with a bank that’s been sending me someone else’s statements. The circumstances aren’t important, I’ve been on the phone with them for a few hours over a few days, trying to get them to stop sending me the statements. They’ve even agreed, at times to stop sending them; to no avail, they keep coming, and every time it’s an argument to explain to them that I’m not the guy and I’m not responsible for his business.

During the last call I had this strong feeling that I’m going to die before winning this one. And with that came the realization — it’s their world not mine. They’re like the mountains and the oceans and I’m like a sunny day. They’ll be here torturing people like me, until we die, and then they’ll torture other people, who will die and so on.

Comments and the Washington Post

Do you care if the Washington Post has comments?

There are plenty of places to post comments on the web, and lots of ways to find out what people think about articles in the Washington Post.

Frankly I understand what a nightmare it must have been maintaining a centralized cesspool of hate and irrelevant immaturity. Why should the shareholders of the Washington Post fund that? Couldn’t those people post their nutty ideas on some other site?

How to save a Gmail message?

This should be a real simple thing to do but I can’t figure out how to do it. I have about a dozen messages in my Gmail inbox that I want to save to my local hard disk. How do I do it? I’ve scoured the online help and have come up with nothing. I admit I should have checked this out before making it my main mail system. I hope the answer isn’t Save Page As in the Firefox File menu.

The wonderful world of Apple RSS

Here’s an example feed. You can’t read it in Firefox, and I haven’t been able to get NewsRiver to read it. They must look at the User-Agent header and only return if it’s their browser. Apparently it works with NetNewsWire. What are they doing at Apple?

Well, it’s not a User-Agent thing, it’s looking for a plugin, and it’s only present in Safari. The feed displays in Safari, but I haven’t been able to get a look at the XML source. To say this is somehow RSS is pretty wacky. Did Jobs really say it’s “industry standard,” as Engaget quotes him? I’d love to see some evidence of that.

Wait Phil Ringnalda spotted the url to the “real” feed.

I couldn’t read that in my browser, so here’s a copy.

It’s pretty bad. There are lots of errors, the date formats are wrong, there are elements that are not in RSS that aren’t in a namespace.

Engadget quoted Jobs as saying they were using “industry standard” RSS. Even if we used terminology like that (we don’t, there’s no standards body for RSS) one company can’t on its own say it’s standard, esp when it has so many mistakes in it. It’s a fairly damaging lie. Yeah, companies lie, I know — but then sometimes bloggers have to say they’re lying.

Assuming their intentions are good and they’re not trying to kill RSS, why don’t they put some of us under NDA and let us help them get the bugs out before they ship.

See Brent Simmons’s blog for more comments.

Twas the Night Before MacWorld…

“Twas the night before MacWorld, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!”

This is kind of a big day for me, and an even bigger day for a young (nameless) friend of mine, because we’re both likely to get new laptops before the end of the week, if Santa brings us new faster smaller and cooler computers from the fruit company in the South Bay.

It’s my first “Jobs Keynote” since returning to the fold, believe it or not it’s been over 20 years since I sat in the auditorium at Flint Center and watched Young Steve (we’re the same age, btw) unveil the Computer For The Rest of Us. He lifted the curtain and it said, simply — Hello.

I suppose I might have come back to the Mac long before, had Apple not turned its back on WebStar users in favor of Apache. A unique culture was flushed because the gods at Apple didn’t know it existed. This is why the Internet as a platform is so valuable, because it’s the platform without a platform vendor. I stayed with Windows, using it as an Internet user would, not using the Office Suite, or any software other than my own, an email client, a web browser, a paint program. Today I use more than that, on my two Macs, one a powerful dual-CPU desktop honker and the other a white, rugged, slow laptop. The funny thing is I can see the obsolescence in both, I have already, in my mind, bought their replacements, and I like it. I like paying money for things that give me pleasure. But in the back of all that is the fear that they’ll do it again, and wipe out something I love, because they didn’t know it existed.

I suppose Christmas breaks your heart too.

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”

10:52AM Pacific: Looks like the keynote is over. I’m not interested in an iMac desktop, and I’m not going to rush to buy one of the new laptops. What else? Sure sounds like they plan to dump the non-Intel apps pretty soon. Scary stuff. I should ignore Steve Jobs and just use the machine. I really don’t like his style. So commercial, so arrogant. Mac isn’t that much better than Windows, the software is more colorful, and the viruses haven’t hit the Mac yet, he really shouldn’t gloat so much. I don’t like it and I give him a lot of money. That’s the same old shit, to Apple it’s some kind of privilege to give them money. Yuck. After all these years I guess I still don’t like the guy. Sorry.