Backup, Backup, Backup


The universe synchronized and the pattern emerged from the social networks. People complaining that they have lost their data. Website crash, hard drive not recoverable, application stopped suddenly.

All without warning.

With these signs, I said to myself, “Self, time to quit procrastinating. Do some yoga, backup the phone, and then have a nice relaxing evening. Because you know that sd card did loose all the music on it. So do it now, get it over with.”

So after setting mat up, checking my social feeds, little pranayama breathing app, I set my phone up to backup and proceeded to Get My Om On.

Usually when I see the frustration of people loosing data, my response is pavlovian blurting out, “Three rules of Data Retention : Backup, Backup, Backup!”

This comes from many years of dealing with customers, friends, family and their computers. Their data is more important and has more worth than the physical computers they store it on. Photos, spreadsheets, home business information, tax information, and so on. I believe with larger corporations and services, with one hour of data loss is equal to loosing millions of dollars. (Ironic, that this information comes from most data recovery services. Insurance company type marketing anyone?)

So how do you avoid data loss? Biggest method, habit. Get into the regular habit of backing up your information when you are done handling it. At the end of the day after taking a thousand brilliant photos, backup. After writing the most brilliant poem, backup. After spending hours and hours of working on that one little picture of the cat and the caption, backup.

In three places.

Backup locally to a spot on your own local computer. This is known as the ‘Save Often’ rule. Saves time and frustration for preventing tiny data loss. Next spot is to backup to a place outside of your computer. Usb memory stick, flash card, external hard drive. And if you still use them, floppy disks and/or CD/DVD. I call this ‘Backup In Hand’. And the third spot is to save someplace offsite where your computer or your external storage is not located. Like a friend or relative.

Explaining to a relative or friend why you want to store your backups in their home might be a little strange to them… ( “No, the files don’t hold KGB/Corporate/Government secrets and I’m not going to die in the next 24 hours under mysterious circumstances. This is what happens when But if Boris from Government Accounting Reclamations shows up, give him anything he wants. Anything. Even your eyes. You don’t mess with Boris.”) But when you explain to them, that if the house were to burn down, what are the things that can’t be replaced? Photos, paperwork, data.

And if you don’t have any friends or relatives that you trust to hold that information for you, there is cloud storage. One portal, multiple locations where the files are stored. Various services are quite prevalent these days, some of the most popular include Dropbox, Spider Oak, and many others. Even Google’s documents has it’s advantages. Just make sure that you read the disclaimers, as some services hold certain rights over your information that you store online. And if that doesn’t work for you, get a safety deposit box.

Where was I? Right, my phone.

After a few grunting Sun Salutations and Downward Dog to stretch back out, found my calm and center, back is relaxed, shoulders loose, feel more at one with all that is around me… my phone decided to do a backup AND a firmware update.

But not in that order.

The firmware update pushed through first.

And failed.

My phone, my music player, my pocket internet search device… All of these are now a hunk of shiny plastic and circuits.

Data loss.

Calm disturbed? A little. The urge to swear up and down was surpressed.

On the universal scale, it is quieter now. And realizations emerge, as in, I’ve ultimately simplified my phone. There are less distractions. And as far as things are progressing. I’m getting more writing done.

It’s the bittersweet feeling of loosing everything in a fire, but looking forward to rebuilding a simpler way. Optimistically hopeful? Slightly new on me. How does it look?

So yes, please backup your information on a regular basis. And do more stretches, as it’s slightly painful when you haven’t done so in a long time. Please take this advice from both the sage and the wisdom seeker.

Hopefully other things do not become suddenly simplified.

I’m still here,
Pearce

Quit Skimming and Read!


Angry Lion wants you to Read

It’s not a matter of looking at keywords and being informed of the concept. It’s taking that information and applying it to the current situation.

This is the difference between reading and skimming. And a huge pet peeve of mine.

People don’t do enough reading and applying the information given.

Just because there is a lot of information there, does not mean that you automatically start skimming the information. Once you start reading fewer words, you start dropping the effort to understand all of the concepts given. Someone has taken the time to include all of those words, you are only insulting them by picking out only choice phrases.

There is a certain amount of observation and looking into details which forces a person to dig deeper on larger concepts. But this is just mental exercise, why not work your brain and perspective out? Sadly, its because people have given into the core marketing of convenience in every fashion. Including reading. The biggest problem is that we have rewarded people to skim. We call these people successful as they have managed to go through mass amounts of information without any retention or understanding.

“But Pearce, there is just so much I can do!”
“Do better. Think different. Read better.”

Effects of skimming? We start dropping words to read, and start changing the way we communicate. We change the way we send information by compressing words and phrases with this same lazy form of communication. The sentences resemble much more like a phonetic code rather than an actual language.

The number of times I’ve had to say ‘Did you read my email or did you skim?’ is increasing! In some fashion, some people have got to the habit of sending the email, then phoning to explain what they said in the email. Why? If a phrase cannot be explained in a sentence, guess what? You should try and reconsider rewriting it! The unfortunate part is that these people often deal with others who have got to the point where they cannot understand the words and need someone to go through with them. Even with vaguest of details, I can apply some information to the various scenarios that could occur. In some cultures, this is called understanding and foresight.

Lets get this clear. These people do not have learning disabilities. These are people who hold PhD’s. They are the ones who make large decisions. They are the ones who have had their hands held for so long, they don’t know how to walk or think on their own. These are people who are so much into the habits of skimming and making things convenient in all things that they are teaching their children that there is no other way. They are bottle necking the minds of children from getting full information. And those children will grow up and one day will be running the world and taking care of us in our old age.

And they walk amongst you.

People who don’t read, or use full words in electronic texting.

Yeah, I ranted that. Now that I made you aware, what are you going to do about it? Or did you just skim this?

I’m still here,
Pearce

Remind Myself


Everyday I have to remind myself to set aside the fear, be the explorer. Sieze the day. Scars tell tales of mistakes learned.
I don’t want to be a tourist.

Even with the knowledge that being a tourist is the safer route, less risk of getting hurt. But without the risk, where is the fun? Where is the thrill? Where is the exploring without knowing what is going to happen next? If I want someone elses experience, then I’ll be the tourist. It will all be nicely sterilized and individually packaged to meet a markets major margin (primarily occupied by the mediocre) for satisfaction.

How boring does this get?

There is no room for innovation, creativity, or true learning with this system. It stifles curiosity and motivation. And over a period of time, this enforces laziness. Someone else will have already done the work. And over time, it slowly creeps into all aspects of life. Everything has already been done, and no one is questioning why. Not one of them has taken the time or the willingness to draw or colour outside of the lines.

Amazing gardens produce fantastic vegetables, only if there is good attention put into them. Is there a pre-determined formula that will work for everyone? No. There is no secret ingredient, only the willingness to try something different. Would you follow the exact recipe that your neighbor tells you for gardening? You would if you didn’t have the motivation or inclination to try it out yourself.

Its one thing to dream about greener hills, it’s another to actually move beyond that dream and actually take a look at how much it will take to get there. Fortunately, sometimes all it takes is a new perception to go into new territory. A willingness to think differently and try things in a new manner allows exploration in what you have overlooked.

So what’s out there? I don’t know. I am willing to find out. I am willing to make mistakes, learn from them. I’ll be on the beach asking both groups why there is a line drawn in the sand when a combined effort would work better for all of us.

You take away the efforts and attention to detail, you remove the passion from it. Product X is created, mass produced by the thousands. How much attention could each one of those items get? The beauty is less as a crowd, it no longer has an individual identity. The major margin which everyone can identify does not necessarily mean that it should be good for everyone. Once you weed out the higher quality and not make it available, you control the mediocre market, where those masses of micro dollars are. The only thing this enriches is someones wallet, not your own life. (Product X patent pending)

There is a bhuddist quote, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. To live in fear is to suffer and hide from life. To learn from your mistakes is painful, but denial and hiding from the possibilities of life is far worse. Its a rejection of life itself to put on the blinders of ignorance.

So what is this all about? Travelling? Gardening? Something you can purchase?

This is about perspective.

It’s about stepping outside of those lines that have been put around you, questioning those around you and asking them ‘Is there a better way?’ Its blowing your mind with a great book. Its taking a different route home. Go that extra step, get curious. Look around that extra corner. Take the initiative and try that new recipe. Be silly in public. Say ‘screw that I’m too old to learn anything new’ and do something new. Laugh at the mistakes, enjoy the new places you are going to take yourself. It’s allowing yourself to you open your mind to the possibilities, and seeing what life will bring you. Fortune does not favor the weak or the timid.

Or so I have to remind myself.
Every day.

I’m still here,
Pearce

P.S. this is more of a post for myself, than anyone else. If you like it, let me know. Drop a comment.

Technology : Tools of the Trade


It’s not a murse. Its my backpack. It holds a lot of my technology that I use on a daily basis.  And because of it, I have been writing a lot more. I have been getting out of the house more. But is it my decision to get out? Or is it the tools which allows me to do so?

These are the questions I ask myself, as I write on my netbook directly onto a website interface, while sipping on double dark chocolate mocha watching rainbarrel clouds out the window. Yes I should be writing, I did get around 2k done today for another chapter of Goodstone’s mystery in King City. Yes, I should shutdown my other tabs on my browser… (facebook, gmail, classified ads, webcomics) and I should concentrate on writing this entry.

Which brings up the next point, are we becoming technologically ADHD? Will there ever come the day for the single tool that will be able to do it all?  From my days of instructing eager minds the methods of computer hardware and repair, I always preached that I wouldn’t be that guy. You know them, you’ve seen them. The one man laptop, music player, cell phone etc… I’ve inadvertently become that person…. with a gps for another hobby. Geocaching.  Which reminds me, I should get one of those solar panel chargers for my batteries…

Has this technology made our lives easier? In some regards. An unfortunate side effect is that in an instant messaging world, the easier we have accepted quick change. Unfortunately, we have pushed ourselves into situations where longterm plans become complicated with all the small quick changes along the way. I remember a time when I would only use a phone once a week. And when people made plans, they stuck to them. Even if it meant that you had to ignore other factors that came up in the meantime. You commited yourself to those plans.

Yes, for writing and creation of content, computers have become just as necessary as knives are for cooking. I wrote the majority of my NaNoWriMo novel on my home computer, plugging away at the daily count. But for research, surfing, quick notes and information feeds, it went back to my netbook. I’ve written more flash fiction on this netbook than on my home computer. Definitely a sign of what I’ve written is more along the lines of instant nomadic creative content, a singular flash mob of story. Also a sign of how the tools themselves also influence the shape of the content I’m creating.  But the software is the same though. I still use WriteMonkey and ZuluPad for my initial writing, then put the text into something heartier to run spellcheck/grammarcheck/layout. I still use MediaMonkey for listening to podcasts and music on both machines.

Could I handwrite my stories? I could, but with the flow of story, I find that I can keep up via typing faster. Handwriting is not fast enough to keep up. But it does work for outlines, for lists, for cryptic little notes about characters that occur to me during the day when I’m not writing. It’s a different style for me, a different mindset to see the ink on the paper. I think I will limit myself to doing just that as my handwriting is horrible.

Is there any other tools that you would recommend that you can’t go without? Any piece of software that you can’t live without? Let me know your opinion, post up comments, send cookies…

I’m still here,

Pearce

Reliability


Your marketing techniques have no effect on me. I am an informed consumer who can research mass amounts of feedback from your customers with any internet connection. When I hear a too enthusiastic response to someone using your product/service, I am doubtful. Some consumers with that much zealous energy are most likely brainwashed by your promises, and are only caught in the dream of what you are selling.

I don’t need vague phrases to instill hope and excitement. I don’t need promises of a better experience or enhanced living. I don’t need to jump on a limited time offer. The number of times you tell me that I need something just reminds me of how unreliable your product/services are.

Slogans. Jingles. Icons. Image. All worthless. These are only reflections of the disposable economy. If a company spends more on marketing and advertising than researching proper packaging or support for their product, they don’t care about the customers needs.

In other words, I don’t need a sales promise. The term itself has become an oxymoron.

A cascade of empty sales promises feeds into postponed delivery dates. This in turn feeds into meetings which eat up resources and produce next to zero results. These rolls over into vaguely phrased responses to customer inquiries to the most basic questions. “When can we really get it?” “Why did this fail?” And if handled correctly, time will be taken to find out when and why. If handled incorrectly, someone will have an answer automatically for them. A mechanical form letter response to a human mistake is just as bad as the mistake itself.

If we cannot deliver product or service when we first report, we are not instilling what is missing in the disposable economy… Reliability. Even sales promises have become disposable, “Don’t like that one? Sorry, here’s a new one when you fill out the feedback which will not be read by anyone in charge.” Take the time, get delivery times, then report it back to the customer.

So how do we fix this situation?

Get personal. Every delivery celebrated, every mistake is a lesson learned. Listen to customer needs, they are paying you money. Why give them the reason to pay you, and complain about how unreliable your product/service is?

Hold suppliers responsible for their actions. Don’t accept sales promises, talk to the people who work on the actual product or service. Get them to ask their suppliers for more reliable delivery times and product/service fulfillment. And them have them contact their suppliers and DEMAND the same. And have them demand it from their suppliers. This will fix the problem, and not assign the blame or distract with colorful phrases. Those who won’t learn from this are doomed to loose all confidence from their customers.

We need everyone to remember when a handshake and word was a binding contract. If you have bad news, make sure that your customer is confident enough that you are addressing their problem. Open and up to date communication is one of the most powerful tools that a company can have.

A renewed sense of confidence from a customer is worth more than any other marketing strategy. A customer confident of the goods/services they receive will pay upfront and provide enough marketing for the company.

Take the actions that will make your customer proud to own or receive what you are selling. Do your part. Make reliability a vital component of what you do, and confidence will comeback.

Go forth, change the world. I’m not expecting anything less.

I’m still here, It’s my soapbox,
Pearce

Batman and the Big Screen OR How I learned to love the Reboot and ignore continuity.


Movie Reboots, some are justified, others not so much. There comes a point and time when a stories progression does not go any further. A new angle must be portrayed about it, a new perspective to renew the masses interest. This is why fiction works so well, re : Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The only way this would work for non-fiction is getting someone elses viewpoint, essays on how this has influenced what, etc, etc.

Batman is a favorite character of mine to read, in all forms of written and graphic story form. The different interpretations of the modern day Prometheus/Vulcan through the tragic character of Bruce Wayne have literally sold tonnes of comics. So lets look at Batman on the screen shall we?

Adam West, portrayal of all things 50/60’s and ideallic optimist melodrama, playing the most upbeat camp version of the Caped Crusader. Love it. It’s camp and brings so many influences to other popular pulp heros in decades to come. If you don’t believe me, just look at your main protagonist, and see when they exclaim for effect only.
(And yes, I’m missing some of the original black and white serials, as well as animated, just go with me on this.)

When they finally announce they are going to do a Batman film, I’m in high school. And everyone is wearing the t-shirts, listening to Prince’s soundtrack, it’s hip and cool. Finally I get my peers around me interested in the stories that I have been reading for years. I get to see the film, and it’s dark and twisted as Tim Burton can only tell. I’m seeing art-deco skylines of Gotham city. I’m loving it, as Keaton is portraying the Worlds Greatest Detective. I even had a neighbor ask me if I saw the film first, I replied no, and he asked, ‘So you know who batman is, right?’ Yeah, in all the forms ans stories.

Next try at the films is Kilmer, in another incarnation, but influenced from both Keaton and West, as the Caped Crusader. Battling for ideals set to soundtrack from U2 and Seal. Is it Bruce Wayne behind the cowl, or is it Batman trying to strive for normal life? Or is it just another reason to put more money into a franchise? Think we know the answer on this one.

And Clooney, it wasn’t his fault. This was high action Caped Crusader built for mass marketing. There is a real life rant happening if you catch me at it, and I’ve had my Vitamin B Calm complex pills. All I can restrain myself was that when the idea of putting nipples on Batmans outfit became a concern, the story telling was put way off to the side. Any film maker who has got themselves involved that much into the look of a movie, should go back and tattoo the script to the inside of their eyeballs to get their focus done right.

Then the gap, the inevitable ‘what did we do?’ So the fans waited. And waited. Executives pitched, no one was buying it. Eminem as Bruce Wayne? (Yes that was pitched at one point and time.) No, they finally got what was important to the fans. For years, fans speculated how it would be done, who would play the best batman, what script. Who’s batman would this be? I’ve always wanted Millers’ future history of the Dark Knight Returns, but without the background or history established, it would not be a hard hitting story on film.

And thus came the reboot.

Justification for reboot always, always comes from the fan base. Nolan was not so much of a reboot, but more of returning the series to the roots of the primary readership. He was giving the fans what should have been done in the first place. Nolan took all of the graphic novels that he could get his hands on and incorporated als much mythos into his interpretation of the Dark Knight. He should win more awards for doing this. He’s honored not only every writer who has penned Batman, but also every reader. And the most important part of his story writing strategy, it’s what every Batman fan would do themselves.

So which strategy do we go with? Which Batman, because there are so many different flavors. From the written/drawn material, it’s just a matter of which writer is portraying them. The Caped Crusader was more for marketing material and adjusted from the original source due to content and comics code. A hero that would base his whole actions on the fears and superstitions of criminals? No! We can’t have that, it’s too dark and grim, he must fight the good fight in the daylight. It was the only way that the story could be told for that time period. Later 70s to 80s moved away from that towards better storylines, mysteries, and thus Batman grew into the title of Worlds Greatest detective. These days however, we require our characters to be realistic. We want to see sweat stains, bad breath, aching muscles. Why? It makes them human and identifiable. Worlds Greatest Detective is hard to portray unless you have a compelling mystery. Caped Crusader works good for a younger audience. But Batman, the Dark Knight, weighing and spending billions on vigilante gear so he can deal with the survivors guilt. Bruce Wayne, dark and brooding in the cave, on the Gotham skyline with a cape that’s 80 feet long. That you can get a lot of material off of, spend years writing about.

Frankly I’m of the opinion that the current term of movie reboot is quickly turning into nothing more than a marketing gimmick for pitching a movie. It paid off in the past, so we tweak it and resell it. This is dangerous if it isn’t handled correctly. There have been quite a few failed reboots that no one wants to talk about. There have been recent rumors of Rebooting the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. Without the main best brains behind it. Gee, can we get Kilmer to play Giles? Oh wait, are we just doing this for the money? Or for telling a story in film format?

But I’ve learned to love the reboot. The recent return of Star Trek to the original series was a brilliant move. The latest movie honors the old series and changes the whole story universe. A federation without the Vulcans as a large influence? The Vulcans as an endangered species? Why hasn’t Q shown up yet and fixed this whole mess? When done properly, it gives the fan base enough to discuss amongst themselves and gather new fans to support or try all the different versions. Thats another reason why I love it, it renews interest, it revitalized the following, and it helps make people passionate about proper storytelling.

Do these series as a whole break continuity? Yes. Will I keep watching them? Yes.

What about the glaring plotholes? You ask.

I reply, ‘If the story is well told and it has captivated you, then ignore the plotholes. It’s allowed Doctor Who to continue as long as it has. Why do you want to stop enjoying a series?’

However, if you reply something about nipples on Batman outfits, I’ve got a few choice words to share with you.

I’m still here,
Pearce

Avatar, Basterds, Recycled Storylines, and Why Jar Jar would never survive against a samurai sword


Avatar, huge special effects, weak story. This is what I’ve heard so far.
I’ve yet to see the film, but hearing from so many other sources, I pretty much know what it’s going to be about.

(The following has been recopied from a posting on Matt Wallace’s blog,
http://www.matt-wallace.com/
I liked the flow I was going with, so decided to use it for my own blog And expanded on it. If you haven’t read his Next Fix, do yourself a favor, go buy 2 copies give one to a friend who likes great stories.)

I expect the huge conversations long shots between 2 characters, building of tension and then sudden bloody violence from any Tarantino film. He’s taken the parts of low budget mid 60’s – 70’s films and distilled them into a format which he calls his own. Its all the parts of modern cinema that no on else uses, but it works for compelling character development. And yes, we needed more of the Basterds in the film. But the secondary story of the heroine in Inglorious Basterds did feel like the other side of the popular late 70’s books that you would flip over and get a somewhat similar story. Its also hilarious about the last chapter of the film that pokes fun at the whole film industry.

Cameron does a lot of innovative new technology into the film industry, and it’s funded by the viewers of the film. That’s his venue. The Abyss lead to better underwater technology, which lead to better underwater subs, which lead him to Titanic, and Kate Winslet side boob. Avatar may lead to… 3d in home entertainment? Or if following the same progression towards side boob shot of some japanese popstar/waif in Battle Angel Alita scheduled for 2011?

But yes, we need more celebration and concentration on good scripts and story telling. Best version of Avatar I saw was 1998 film The Beast http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beast_(1988_film) it follows the same story line. Soldier fighting in war, gets exposure to the perspective of the enemy, realizes what he was doing and rebels. Think this is on page 12 of ‘generic war story for large screens’.

But it sells.

And there aren’t enough well selling war stories that can be recycled. Can you imagine a reboot of Bridge on River Kwai starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence? Studios would put money into a comedy like that. But a reboot of River Kwai starring Hugh Laurie and Warren Ellis doing the treatment on the script? That’s big film budget investment, but great story investment which will get people to talk about how great that film is for generations.

While we’re at it, can we send Pixar films a new story outline? The ‘outcast with distinguishing feature comes back and saves tribe’ storyline has been used too many times. I think they ran out of dead horses to flog in the late 90’s.

Also while we’re at it, can we get Lucas to rewatch the Kurosawa films? I’m quite sure Jar Jar was never a character in the samurai genre.
http://www.moongadget.com/origins/kurosawa.html
Yes, do yourself a favor and read the above link, you’ll thank yourself if you have ever enjoyed the Star Wars films. Essentially a character that is primarily concentrated for one portion of the audiences entertainment and does not move the story or affect the other characters is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Yes, I’m still bitter over the prequel films.

At least I can still watch Yojimbo or Das Boot, thankfully there are escapes from the modern marketing machine. You won’t find them in your local video store, because when was the last time you saw ‘guaranteed to be there’ when its referencing Key Largo? We need a shift in direction from the large big budget film towards the smaller independant film makers. It’s up to you to decide, choose well.

I’m still here,
Pearce

So for a buck fifty and what I overheard is worth…


Warning : Innoculation of fact checking and seeking the truth is infectious. The following is just my opinion, if you disagree and wish to prove me wrong, bring me some facts and I can research.

Those who spread information based on fear are just as much if not as dangerous as the problem itself. They spread false information based on their own fears, and spread the paranoia into the community. For those that they convince, they put those people’s wellbeing at risk. Those who don’t seek out experts and ask what danger there is can only base the facts on what they’ve overheard. They are not arming themselves against the problem in the first place. There is an infection of ignorance which breeds in an environment of fear and it spreads like wildfire.

So what can we do to stop this?

Feed your brain with facts and common sense. You should be doing this on a daily basis. Ask an expert. Read a book. Actually read, don’t skim. Avoid news services that spend more money on their video graphics than their own fact checkers and reporters. Avoid putting large amounts of speculation on things beyond your control.

If you come across those who refuse to do even one of these things, ask them to get sources proven. Call their hand, lets see the cards. Cross reference their information. If they are wrong, pass the proven facts back to who they got it from. If they refuse, they don’t care about your own wellbeing. If they are right, isn’t it great to be smart enough to change your mind and gather information from the correct people you’ve put around you?

Just remember, you’d let a neighbour change your tire for you, but would you let them perform open heart surgery on you? Would you let them invest your life savings? Would you let them tell you how to vote? So… Why would you take medical advice from them? Why would you take investment advice from them? Why would you let them tell you who should be making laws for you? The only way that I would let them would be for conversation. Or if my neighbour is a brilliant cardiac surgeon with hands of a demi god, brains and amazing spreadsheet talent of a financial wizard, and the gift of gab from a world reknown political sociologist. (If that was the case, then I’d tell them to pass me the tire iron and get to fixing things because they have better things to do with their time than helping me change a tire.)

Just because you don’t have the facts, doesn’t mean you can’t get to them in a smarter method. The internet is easy to use, don’t let it use you. Seek the truth, kill a rumor today, help a friend improve their wellbeing, you’ll thank yourself for it.

I’m still here,
Pearce Kilgour

Day 202 of Quit


Life has thrown me a curveball lately, but by sheer luck I had the money in my account to cover some unexpected repairs on my car. Apparently a timing belt on a vehicle must be changed every 80’000 km’s, at least for the model of the car I own. This one lasted 191’000 km… and by more sheer luck the valves did not get bent after the engine failed to turn over when the belt finally went. Which would have meant a new engine in a 10 year old car.

What was not sheer luck is that the bill presented to me was almost equal to an entire paycheck. Also, it was never authorized for the repairs. The garage went ahead and replaced the timing belt. I can see that it is necessary to find out if the valves were bent or not… but doing this without any consent to do this to my legal goods? I could have contested it and most likely have a case for small claims court. But I shall say live and let live… but I am giving that garage all the advertising they do not want. How? Word of mouth.

That was last week, and previous to that there was other things that have come up that delayed me from posting up my half year quit from smokig… And another week of distractions before that which prevented this post.

Which is a good thing I suppose, the not posting and needing advice… I’m getting comfortable with not smoking. The junkie thinking comes, and it’s is easily identified and dismissed of, no matter what the temptation. I’ve thrown out the last box of nicotine patches as I don’t need them to get over those sudden cravings.

I should post more often and update my blog as well, maybe with the daily practice and posting of items will get the creative juices flowing… get rid of this indifferent attitude I have towards writing as of late. So many unfinished stories on the back burner…

What else has been going on? Bunk bed madness and replacing my daughters bed, she always wanted bunk beds, and then, when we finally got them set up, the in-laws purchased a mattress… that is not built for bunkbeds. 3 flights of stairs hauling the bunk beds up, then 3 flights down the stairs. I swear if I made an economical external elevator to attach to a balcony, I’d make a mint.

I’ve also had the strangest urge to go back and try and redo some lessons I had set up for me many moons ago in Animation Master. Perhaps this is a sign that I’m getting ready for a career change? Or just more of the ‘You should really finish soon what you put off 5 years ago’… time will tell and reveal all.

Fun stuff I’ve been watching as well…
Hilarious House of Frightenstein – Like a grim version of Sesame Street, it’s been popping up on the cable channels. Nostalgia that makes me smile, except they removed the music that they had in the show.

Across the Universe – Best musical I’ve seen in such a long time. A great blending of story and song, and it may have rekindled my love for the Beatles music.

Torchwood – A more adult Doctor Who with themes that regular broadcast television. The BBC do put out some good shows, luckily being in Canada, they occasionally show it on CBC. Further notes to see if I can dig up the broadcast of Karaoke/Cold Lazarus adaptation they did by Dennis Potter.

Doctor Who season 3, ramping up towards Russel Davies next season, I’m hoping someone else can step up to the plate for the series next… Joss Whedon or Neil Gaiman would be excellent for writing the series.

Muppets Season Two – Was watching this the other night, and the episode with Candice Bergan (spelling?) from Murphy Brown was on. Didn’t realize how many of the songs that were sung by my family when I was knee high to a grasshopper came from the Muppet show. Here I thought there was this long standing tradition of singing while doing the dishes, looks like it was just a ploy to distract me and remind me of the Muppet show at the same time. I should feel cheated, but anything Muppet related rocks.

And reading… White Night by Jim Butcher. The Dresden files books are a must read if you are into detectives… with a healthy dose of magic thrown in. The tv series they had on, was an extreme light version of the books.

“Y – The Last Man” is a must read for those who enjoy the golden age of sci-fi aka the introduction of a new science or technology and impact on humankind. In this series, something kills all males on the planet, with the exception of one man. Intelligently written, and researched out very smartly too. For example, Australia ends up with the largest naval fleet, because of the sheer number of women that were already in the navy prior to the Gendercide.

Queen and Country by Greg Rucka – Now being collected into a definitive version in trade paperback. If you enjoy Bond, you’ll like this, it’s a smarter spy series and not so much as Bond’s usual infiltrate and beat/kill the bad guy up. The agents have more depth to them, they have real life problems to deal with.

And video games, (insert sigh of content here) City of Heroes is still treating me quite well so I can get my RPG fix in. I also picked up Portal from Valve studios, a must have for the game player. For those who played… the cake is a lie. For those who don’t know, just smile, nod and back away slowly.

As for the celebratory posts and achievements, I may do something larger when it comes around to 1 year, but for right now, I’m taking it one day at a time, enjoying the moment to it’s fullest. So don’t be too surprised if I don’t post for a while, if I have something profound to write, I’ll post it up. Otherwise it will come across as so much impotent masturbation on a written scale. Then again… perhaps it won’t be if I keep up the habit of writing. Once again with that writers block/apathy attitude.

But otherwise I’ve been keeping myself busy, happily so. So where am I now?

I’m still here,
Pike

I have been quit for 6 Months, 2 Weeks, 5 Days, 1 hour and 54 minutes (203 days).
I have saved $1,072.25 by not smoking 2,233 cigarettes.
I have saved 1 Week, 18 hours and 5 minutes of my life.
My Quit Date: 8/6/2007 9:20 AM

P.S. Must update blog more often…

Beware! … The Customer….


Today…

I receive a package that has parts. No written instructions, no indication what’s wrong with the parts, original packaging nowhere to be found, and only indication as to where it came from is written in black block letters ontop of painters tape which held down the lid for the box. Broken bits of styrofoam packaging (from what appears to be a set of speakers) were holding the parts in place.

How long should it take for a customer to return a part? With clear instructions, arranged pickup paperwork for shipment and return form? Should be done within a day, right?

Try 2 years.

Yep, it was about 2 years ago today I arranged for some faulty parts to be arranged to be sent to a repair depot, called in courier, faxed return forms and bill of lading to the customer. Enter a phase of calling each week and confirming if the customer had sent the part out. No replies to voicemails, written phone messages, faxes and all the other inquiries. After 4 months I made final voice mails and faxes, then closed the file as the warranty had expired 3 months previous. And I had convinced the repair depot that they should extend the warranty out longer to get it covered, they agreed as it would cost them more to do this as a billed item.) Track it down through the files, call up the sales people and then they confirm another thing for me… There was no original sale through us on these parts. It was originally sold by the 3rd party repair depot to the customer.

2 Years it took them to
– Ignore instructions clearly sent in multiple format (Voicemail, fax, e-mail)
– Send the parts to the wrong location and country
– Throw away their warranty coverage

Umpteen hours total of my time
– Fighting for customer rights
– Arranging for warranty coverage
– Arranging for courier pickup

I honestly don’t know why they took that long to send, they made a huge fuss over the state of the parts in the beginning when we were first contacted. Did they loose the parts? Did all of that paperwork confuse them because they cannot read? Was there anything actually wrong with those parts to begin with? Did they have an epidemic of apathy? Did they get hit in the head and end up in a soap opera coma for 2 years?

I don’t know.

I really don’t want to know.

All I know is that one thing is for sure in customer service. The issues and problems are just like zombies wearing bullet proof helmets. You can shoot them, chainsaw them, explode them with dynamite, throw them down into a bottomless cavern and deal with them anyway you like… they will still get up and continue to go after your brains.

I’m still here,
Pike

P.S. Here’s a meterflash, and no I did not edit the text from quitkeeper… and it took me a bit to get the final edit done on the above stuff.

I have been quit for 3 Months, 3 Days, 3 hours, 33 minutes and 33 seconds (95 days). I have
saved $502.37 by not smoking 1,046 cigarettes. I have saved 3 Days, 15 hours and 10 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 8/6/2007 9:20 AM