Archive for November, 2007

Herb Kelleher

You may be thinking that all I do is complain on this blog.  So let me update you on a previous post and share some positive feedback.  My flight home on Southwest Airlines after Thanksgiving was not only on time, but we had a special crew member that day.  Herb Kelleher, co-founder and Chairman of Southwest Airlines, served peanuts to everyone on the plane.  How many corporate execs do you know that will get down in the trenches?  No matter how much I gripe, I really do like Southwest.  Thanks Herb – it was a real treat meeting you.

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Verizon Business Customer Support

In early October, I contacted Verizon to cancel a business PRI circuit that was originally installed under the legacy MCI brand.  I opened a ticket and faxed in a letter requesting that service be terminated.  Here we are in late November and they are still billing my company.

I called support again today.  The agent, Pamela, advised that the previous ticket was “cancelled” from their system.  Turns out Pamela and the rest of their business support center is located in the Philippines.  This might explain why I’m getting such terrible customer service.  Pamela opened a new ticket for me today to order the disconnect.  I asked her how this gets communicated to the billing department since my original request was dated October 9.  She said, “Provide them the ticket number.”  I asked, “Provide it to who?”  She said, “Provide it to anyone who calls requesting collections on the bill”.  What an amazing way of dealing with internal corporate communications.

My advice to Verizon – don’t send your business customer support outside the USA.  Furthermore, I will not be paying your bill ever again.

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Southwest Airlines Part 2

I’m flying home today, so this is Southwest’s chance to redeem themselves with an on-time flight.  My flight, 2624, is coming from Los Angeles.  It is about 25 minutes behind, but it should still have about 30 minutes on the ground before our scheduled departure.  Southwest claims we will depart on time – I’m betting we are 10 minutes late.

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Southwest blames weather; I blame Southwest

I hate holiday travel. This is why. If the flight took off two hours late from Denver, why did it still show as on-time when I arrived at the airport in Dallas an hour before my scheduled 11:20 AM departure?? What BS!!!

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A view from high above

I took this picture Monday morning from the roof at One Arts Plaza. We had to verify that we still have line-of-sight to our offsite Datacenter (which is off in the distance of this picture).  Notice there is no railing.  🙂



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Bye bye Vista; Hello XP

It was five months ago that I loaded Vista Ultimate (64-bit) in place of XP Pro (64-bit).  I would like to think that was enough time to give it a healthy try.  Unfortunately one problem after another is what made me decide to switch back this weekend.  What were my major gripes?  Read on.

1.  No SLI under Vista.  My Nvidia 7800 GTX cards that had worked perfectly under XP would not work in SLI mode under Vista.  I contacted Tyan about the issue, and at first – they denied it (and told me to talk to Nvidia or Microsoft).  Later they promised a beta BIOS that should fix the issue, but that didn’t show up until today (after I already switched back).

2.  UAC is a joke.  I understand what it is supposed to do, but it presumes that prompting a user for confirmation is going to solve all the viral and malware problems of the world.  I don’t believe that will work, and at a minimum it should ask you for your password credentials on certain functions.  Microsoft also chose not to allow UAC to “remember” your preferences.  I had to turn it off just to keep my sanity.

3.  Where’s all my stuff?  Vista puts things in strange places and then it tries to hide things from you.  I wasted more time searching for content I knew was on my hard drive that the built in search feature could not find.  Files and directories were even more “hidden” than before when you drop out to a command prompt.  I never did find the “show hidden files” preference item in Windows Explorer.

4.  Application acted strangely.  No other way to explain it.  Certain things just wouldn’t work right (like my WoW downloader program).  Frustrating.

5.  Crashing.  After running well for months, all of a sudden my machine started having complete lock-ups that were unexplainable.  No new software was installed or changed, but things that had worked before now locked up my machine so hard all I could do was reset.

So if you are a Microsoft OS fan, stick with XP.  Your life will be considerably less complicated.  I picked up a copy of Leopard for my Mac.  Maybe I’ll have better luck with that.  I’ll be sure to let you know in about five months.

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A “manly” meal

It was a little over a year ago when I first wrote about eating at Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House in Addison, TX. Last night I was there again for the 2nd Annual “Cigar and Wild Game Dinner.” Cigars, wine, and scotch all paired to menu that included duck corn dogs, elk loin, and wild boar osso buco. I haven’t really smoked cigars in recent years, but I had three last night. If you are a cigar fan, check out the newly released “Avo 787”. I’m not a scotch man, but they had the Balvenie 21 year on showcase last night (everyone said it was very good). And if wine is your thing, look for J. Bookwalter Lot 21 Meritage. If you are local to the DFW area, I would suggest putting this event on your calendar for next year.

Despite the title of this post, there were plenty of women in attendance.  I would not have guessed that a room full of 75 to 100 people smoking cigars would have been a prime attraction for women.  Guess I was wrong.

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A Big Computer Monitor

As we age, it is not uncommon for our vision to deteriorate a bit.  It is why people end up wearing bifocals around age 40.  I have had to deal with low vision all of my life, but in my early thirties I find myself wishing I had a larger computer screen to look at.  As technologies have changed over the years, I’ve upgraded from 20″ CRTs to 23″ LCDs, but nothing has ever been just right.

Unlike the typical consumer, I’m not looking to buy a larger screen so I can run it at a higher resolution.  I want to run a big screen at a low resolution (so I can see it).  The problem with that plan is that most LCD screens are designed to run at a particluar resolution.  They all have a sweet spot.  You can move them away from that sweet spot, but you often sacrifice image clarity.  The move from standard format to widescreen isn’t helping either.  With widescreen monitors, you have to buy a larger screen to end up with a decent amount of vertical resolution.  So what is the answer?

Today I decided to try something new.  I went to Best Buy on a mission to purchase a Sony Bravia XBR4 40″ LCD TV.  Now if you will humor me, I’d like to share some friendly consumer advice.  The TV I was after has a list price of $2500.  I checked the Best Buy website before I went shopping and found their price at $2250.  When I arrived at the store, the TV was listed at $2500.  I told the salesperson that their website price was lower.  He immediately offered to match their website price.  So buyer beware.  The price in the store is not always the best deal they have to offer.  I saved $250 which I put toward a 4 year warranty agreement.  Anyway, I’m using the new TV right now to type this blog post.

This TV can do HD in 1080p (which translates to 1920×1080 in computer resolution speak).  In addition to 1080p, it can also do 720p.  So I am using a DVI to HDMI cable from my PC to the TV, and the resolution is set to 1280×720.  I have one MONSTER desktop monitor now!!  It looks beautiful.  I don’t think I would ever consider going larger because you would spend too much time moving your head to the left and right.  With my fonts cranked up and my browser text size set to large, I can comfortably sit in my desk chair and read the screen without having to lean forward.  The end goal is to save some of the tension I feel in my shoulders at the end of each day.  Problem is that I may have to get another one for the office.

I have to say “thank you” to two people.  Jared (a coworker of mine) did a bunch of research on all this and was kind enough to share his experiences (he bought this same TV recently).  Matt (friend and coworker) met me for lunch and drove me to the store to pick up the TV.  He even helped me carry it up the stairs and unpack it!!  I really appreciate everything you both did for me.  I’ll post some picture of the setup later.

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