Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Time-Warner cable: "We're stupid and we don't have any reasons for it."

I got fed up with not being able to access Time-Warner hotspots, which we're supposed to have access to as part of being a Time-Warner cable Internet customer.  I wind up dealing with this when there's a hotspot where I happen to be, and it breaks the iPhone's Internet connectivity.  The iPhone will automatically connect to an "open" Wi-Fi network, and then sit there stupidly even though you can't get data through it; it's supposed to fall back to cellular, but it doesn't.  Longstanding iPhone bug.

So instead of manually deactivating Wi-Fi all the time, I figured I'd enter my credentials on the TWC log-in page and be done with it.  But this page demands that you log in with an E-mail address (we all know by now how stupid that is).  Even worse is that the E-mail address it wants is the auto-generated one that's associated with your account internally at Time-Warner, in the form of "".  How the hell would I know what that is?  And of course there's no way to find out what it is AT THE HOTSPOT, because you inexplicably can't gain access to your account.

You can't even use the password-reset option, because...

If only we could follow that instruction.

And when you come home, you can't use the hotspot help because you're not accessing it through a hotspot.  RETARDED.  So I tried to contact TWC about this, but their "contact us" link goes to a 404. This is an Internet access provider:

So I had to resort to the online chat.  Here's the illuminating transcript of my chat with a Time-Warner rep (this was my third chat session after being escalated, after two phone calls and three E-mails and probably an hour and a half).

Rodney:    Hello! Thank you for choosing Road Runner Internet Technical Chat Support. My name is Rodney, I will help you.
Rodney:    How are you doing today?

ME:    I am a bit tired of dealing with TWC.

Rodney:    I am sorry to know that.
Rodney:    We really apologize for the inconvenience.

ME:    Well, let's get it resolved.
ME:    First off, your "contact us" link is broken, and has been broken for some time.  How does this go unaddressed?

Rodney:    We are aware of it and our engineers are working on it to fix this issue.

ME:    Second, I have repeatedly tried to use TWC wi-fi hotspots, and I m asked for credentials that I had no way of knowing.
ME:    The log-in page demands the auto-generated E-mail address that is associated with my account, but gives you no way to find out what it is.

What you see when you try to use a Time-Warner hotspot.

Rodney:    I will provide you with the necessary information.
Rodney:    In order to access TWC Wi-FI you need to use Primary Road Runner email address and the password.

ME:    I have the information now.  Not yesterday when I was in a seminar and needed Web access.
ME:    I have never seen this E-mail address before, and I do not use it to access my account.  Why on earth do I need to use it at a hotspot?

Rodney:    I understand your concern, in order to access TWC Hotspot you need to use Road Runner email address and the passwords. This is for TWC customers only.

ME:    Why can't I use the same credentials I use to access my account at home?

Rodney:    Here is the reason:  you need to use Primary Email address and the Password to access TWC Hotspots.

ME:    You're simply repeating the problem.  WHY?  I NEVER use (or even knew) that E-mail address, and yet every month I can log into TWC and pay my bill, change services, and see my personal info.
ME:    I have a log-in ID with Time-Warner cable, and yet I can't use this to log into its hotspots.  WHY?

Rodney:    We can't use it. We can't use My-Servics account login information to access TWC Hotspots. It won't work. Only Road Runner email address and the password works with TWC Hotspot.

ME:    WHY?

Rodney:    We do not have any reasons for it. TWC Hotspots are designed in such a way that, users can only login with there Road Runner email address and the password. It is a default thing. We can't change it.

ME:    But users have no way of knowing WHAT that E-mail address is.  It's auto-generated by Time-Warner.  The hotspot page gives you no way to find out what it is.  This is asinine.

Rodney:    I will provide you with the Road Runner email address and the password

ME:    That doesn't help people AFTER THE FACT, now does it?  I'm not at the hotspot anymore.  I couldn't access it.
ME:    And then when you come home, the TWC hotspot page says you can't access it from home.

Rodney:    We can only access TWC Hotspots when you are outside the home and near to the TWC Hotspot. We can't access it from home.
Rodney:    I will report your feedback to our higher levels and make sure they will look into it.

ME:    OK. Thanks.

And this was after an even dumber E-mail exchange.  Here was my initial support inquiry and TW's follow-up:

Question: I have repeatedly set up a TWC Wi-Fi user ID. It doesn't work.

Your online help chat DOESN'T WORK. Your "support" link on the TWCWiFi log-in page goes BACK TO THE LOG-IN PAGE.

And if I go home to try to get support from my Time-Warner cable connection, I'm told I can't get support for TWCWiFi through my regular connection. So how am I supposed to use TWC hotspots? I'm tired of this month after month.

Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable, Road Runner email Support.

I will assist you with the information.
To login to wifi hot spot, follow the steps:-

1. Use your device's wireless connection finder to locate TWCWiFi (SSID) hotspots nearby. Consult our Coverage Map if the TWCWiFi does not appear.
2. Connect to TWCWifi and a sign-in page will appear.
3. Enter your Road Runner email address and password.
4. Agree to the terms of service.
5. Click on Sign In.

Yep: When I told Time-Warner I couldn't log into a hotspot, they told me to log into a hotspot.

Friday, August 3, 2012

NBC's Olympic lie

It's bad enough that the Olympics are spoiled for United States viewers by NBC's abysmal coverage.  Unless you choose not to read the news for two weeks, you don't have any reason to watch the Olympics by the time NBC finally gets around to broadcasting them eight or 10 hours late.

NBC further insults Americans by claiming that they're streaming events live.

Nope.  Take a look at where this lie breaks down.

Now why should I log in with some "TV provider's" credentials, when NBC is a publicly viewable network funded by ADVERTISING?  Yep, aside from making us wonder what a "form video" is, this screen is a harbinger of bullshit to come.  And it comes quickly:

So much for Net Neutrality and NBC's fraud.  NBC not only rips off American viewers, but it rips off its own sponsors by inexplicably denying them millions of additional viewers.  Hell, NBC is ripping off itself by reducing its measurable audience and the value of its content along with it.

Sponsors should boycott NBC as long as NBC intentionally reduces its audience and insults American viewers with this sham.

Oh, and as a final stroke of incompetence, that "Learn more/FAQ" link on the initial screen takes you to a video that you can't watch.  It goes right back to the "We're Sorry" screen above.  What it should say is "We're too stupid to understand our own business model."

Jim Bell, the executive producer of NBC's so-called Olympics coverage, smugly comments to Hollywood Reporter:

"We can understand and appreciate that people are passionate about things," says Jim Bell. "I think the numbers speak for themselves."

Um, no.  No they don't.  Maybe you can tell us what other options you think viewers had, Mr. Bell.  Against what competing Olympics coverage did NBC earn these numbers?  We'll be holding our breath for your answer, genius.

UPDATE: NBC pulled this same scam again, but even worse.

UPDATE 2016: NBC is ripping off the public and screwing Team USA again.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Capital One: We don't care about your security, identity, or business.

For the third time in eight months or so, Capital One suddenly started declining my purchases, for the same reason: A merchant's security was compromised and my card number was exposed.

Not once did Capital One even bother to send me an E-mail, let alone call me.  They knew my card number was compromised, and that quite possibly other aspects of my identity were open to theft as a result.  But they didn't even have their automated system send me an E-mail about this security breach.

It's hard to overstate how irresponsible and offensive this is.  But that's not all; Capital One, every time, capped off the offense by proposing to send my replacement card through the regular mail in five to seven days.

A great many people, millions I'm sure, make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for credit-card companies every year.  I make Capital One plenty of money, and yet after I'm inconvenienced and prevented from making them money, they're not going to FedEx my new card.  They're going to lazily plop it in the old U.S. mail along with some marketing fliers and maybe some utility payments or magazine cards from people working at the processing center.

And if you complain about this insult (which you should), you'll still be told that the best they can do is an "expedited" delivery in two to three days.  Yes, it's as if they have no idea exactly when this goddamned thing is going to arrive, in 2012.  Are they attaching it to a flying burro?  A capricious cherub?  If you can't figure out how to get a document to a customer in exactly two days, go out of business.  NOW.

And while Capital One is dicking around, I have to wait to go through every service I use and every bill I pay and change the credit card I have on file.  And inevitably I'm going to miss one or two and have payments declined.

Can we continue to hand money to assholes like this and retain any self respect?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Will Apple ever fix the iPhone's biggest defect?

Let's say your iPhone is on its charger in your bedroom.  You're taking a shower and somebody calls; you don't hear it.  Or you're down the hall doing laundry and somebody calls; you don't hear it.  Or the phone is in your purse.  Or... you can see where this is going, right?

You come back and spend a few minutes getting dressed, or putting clothes away.  Your iPhone is three feet away, but it sits there silent, not making so much as a chirp to let you know that you missed a call.  You might stroll out to the kitchen to make dinner, or whatever... The hours go by, and you never knew that your friend called to see if you wanted to meet up for happy hour.

The sheer stupidity of this design was inexcusable in version 1 of the iPhone, but here we are years later and it still hasn't been fixed.  But what did Apple do instead?  Add repeating notifications (albeit limited to 10) for TEXT MESSAGES.  WTF?

Dear Apple: When something major happens in my family, my parents aren't going to TEXT me.  If someone called me, I want to know about it.

My 1990s Motorola StarTAC offered periodic audible notifications of missed calls until I acknowledged them.  My microwave beeps periodically if I forget to take the food out after cooking it.  My answering machine beeped periodically to let me know I had new messages.  But Apple's handheld Unix computer/phone sits mute after I've missed a call.

Do we have to spell this out?  A phone should offer the option to periodically notify you with an audible and palpable alert that you've missed a call, until you acknowledge it.  Not just five times or 10 times; until you acknowledge it.


Pathetic, and still not fixed in iOS 11.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visual Studio: Is it getting worse as time goes on?

I took a hiatus from Windows programming for a few years, working on Macs in the slowly improving but still infuriating Xcode.  I harked back to Visual Studio as so much better, a slick IDE that set the standard year after year.

What a jarring dose of reality when I dove into Visual Studio 2010 a couple years ago.  It's plagued by 20-year-old defects that were annoying then but unacceptable and ridiculous now.  Microsoft also introduced embarrassing UI regressions that cripple the app in new ways.

First, the good.  The UI's organization is pretty decent, much better than Xcode's:

I started taking notes about the bad.  Here they are.
  • The scroll wheel doesn't work in the pane that the cursor is hovering over.  You have to click everywhere to activate every pane on the screen.  Why should I have to click in the variables pane just to look at a variable?
  • A similar focus problem: The drop-down function list retains focus after you select a function, so if you try to scroll your document with the wheel, you're instead scrolling the values inside the (now collapsed) function drop-down.
  • Massive color problems make text invisible in many parts of the interface.

  • Project-property dialog is still not resizable, and yet it's full of typically long strings and settings.  This retardation plagued Visual C++ two decades ago.  Inexcusable.
  • The drop-down function list still doesn't list all functions in the file; it's limited to the object in which the insertion point is sitting .  Or you have to select an object scope from the left drop-down, going through them one at a time, if you don't know which one contains the function you're looking for.  Why isn't there an "entire file" scope offered?  And why does it continually pick "global scope" by default, when that scope is empty and there's only one scope defined in the file?
  • Doesn't do syntax completion on symbols.  You have to type out every class and variable name, every time.
  • Syntax completion doesn't work if you position the cursor after a period or arrow in member notation and start typing.  You have to erase the last character in the symbol and retype it to restart the syntax completion.
  • printf statements don't write to the Output window!  And the clumsy alternative, OutputDebugString, doesn't take printf-style formatting and insists on wide characters.  OutputDebugStringA doesn't require wide characters, but was essentially undocumented; someone in the comments claims it's now documented.
  • Paths are recorded as absolute, and not relative, when when you navigate to them to set project properties such as the working directory for debugging.  So of course the project is broken for anyone trying to use it on a different computer.
  • If you right-click on a file in the left pane and view its properties, you can't see its path.  You have to go two levels deep into the View menu to bring up a whole separate Properties window, which finally shows the path.
  • Matching braces or parentheses are only highlighted when you first type them, and then never again.  They aren't highlighted when the insertion point crosses them.
  • There's a "Go to header file" function, but no "Go to implementation file" counterpart.  Also, "Go to header" doesn't appear to work if the header's extension is "hpp".
  • There's no way to reveal the file you're editing in Explorer.  You can't see the path of the file anywhere either, even if you hunt through the view menu and show the obscure "Properties window".  The Properties window goes BLANK if you put the cursor in the editor.
  • Context menu won't let you search for definitions of symbols in that appear in comments.
  • Error lines aren't highlighted in code when you double-click an error in the output or error list.  Instead, a tiny blue sliver appears in the gutter next to the line, which you have to hunt for.  The color settings for "compiler error" are ignored, and you can't set the background color there anyway.
  • The drop-down function list in the editor will frequently behave as though the function is missing from the source file, and instead jump to the header file; despite the fact that the function IS implemented and compiles just fine.
  • The option to show line numbers is not in the View menu.  It's buried under Tools / Options / Text Editor.
  • When you disable a breakpoint, it simply disappears from the left gutter, and to re-enable it you have to pull up the list of all breakpoints and hunt for it.
  • If you have two vertical tab groups open and select "Close all but this" on one of the tabs in ONE of the groups, it closes the tabs in the other group too.
  • If you press F12 while debugging, it interrupts the program you're debugging, and there's no way to stop this.  F12 is not documented as being mapped anywhere in the VS UI.  So if your application uses F12 for something and you need to debug it, you're screwed. (documented:
  • The menu option "Stop outlining" only works on the current file, so you have to turn this annoying "feature" off again and again.  WTF.
  • Double-clicking on whitespace to select it doesn't work if the whitespace is only one character (like a tab).

Friday, April 20, 2012

When did the slash become too hard?

Hyphens and slashes are not interchangeable.  In fact, they're nearly opposite.  This fact seems to escape more and more people all the time.

Why else would we see mistakes like, "It's a win-win situation!"

What is a "win-win"?  Is it anything like a win-celebrating sports fan?  Or a game-changing decision?  Or an overhead-cam engine?  Or a sun-dried tomato?  A hyphen takes multiple words and turns them into one descriptive term.

When you have two sides or two options to a situation, you use a slash to separate them:

win/lose situation
client/server system
on/off switch
key/value store

Come on, guys.  It's not that hard.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Girls Around Me: The only victims are the developers

So the new national boogeyman is an application that presents public information.  It aggregates FourSquare check-ins by gender and matches them up to public Facebook profiles.

But suddenly the people broadcasting their presence at public venues on a public medium are appalled that it might be received by someone.  Actually, that's not even true: A bunch of blowhards are appalled on behalf of all these supposed victims, zero of which have come forward to tell about how they suffered any harm from this nightmarish piece of software.

Also, if you don't understand what stalking is, stop using the term.  Stalking is the pursuit and haranguing of one person at length. Seeing which venues are currently heavily populated with men or women is NOT STALKING. You can't use this application to home in on one person and follow him or her around.  But hey, what do the facts matter, when you can put "STALKING APP" in your headline as click bait?

So what are you nefarious users of this app doing?  You're finding out where people are to determine WHERE TO GO. Instead of roaming the city and wasting your night on dead venues or the wrong type of crowd, you simply go to the place that has appealing people in it.

Yes, that's what people are wailing about. Pretty stupid when you think about it.  But really, thinking about it is too much work for most of America today.

The United States of today prefers to wallow in pathetic, fake outrage instead of tackling the hard problems.  Anybody who even feels "uncomfortable" is a "victim" now. Guess what? The world is full of homeless people, gay people, people who don't believe in your god, deformed people, diseases... and it's not everyone else's job to shield you from them. Deal with it.  You have no right to infringe on other people's lives because of your hang-ups.

And when you behave like a jagoff and get called out on it, it's not the other person who has the problem. Someone flipped you off for not signaling? Guess what: That's YOUR fault. It's not "road rage". It's someone who has a backbone and isn't going to take your crap.

The only victims here are the developers whose time was wasted.  And why were these guys targeted, when other apps and sites were doing the same thing a year or more ago?  
Here's just one example: Where the Ladies At.

This is the culture of the nanny state. It's one that mollycoddles the irresponsible and the selfish.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Douchetag

An InformationWeek article today discussed the derision heaped on Samsung, after Samsung's Super Bowl commercial for the Galaxy tablet depicted someone using a stylus.  The Twitter quotes ran like this:
One of the great things about the #iPhone was abandoning the #stylus. Not sure why #samsung thinks bring it back is #innovation and #freedom
Yep: the "pound iPhone" and the "pound stylus."

This guy thinks communication and search technology today is so primitive that every significant term must be specially marked.  Why would you even use such a medium, in which you're not free to type messages normally?  This is like WordPerfect, circa 1985.

If you have to litter your communications with asinine codes in the present day, the medium is a failure.  Why pander to it?

One of the #great things about #search #algorithms is how they #rank #significant #words and #devalue #insignificant words, #DUH.

Pretty sure this guy uses douchetags.
Thankfully, a recent study showed that the use of douchetags reduces the appeal of content they're embedded in.

UPDATE:  Here's another story about a douchetag user getting rightly reamed across the Internet.

UPDATE 2There's a pattern emerging here: douchetag users = losers

UPDATE 3Google's trying to create its own variation of the douchetag.

UPDATE 4: Michelle Shocked is the latest douchetagger to suffer the consequences.

UPDATE 5: Microsoft employee Adam Orth is the latest douchebag douchetagger to get publicly reamed.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mashable shills for Pinterest; Pinterest spams Facebook

The question is who's blowing whom, in return for the ham-fisted shilling that Mashable does for Pinterest.  The endless "articles" are bad enough, but the comment threads after them are gag-inducing.  If you want to read some marketing people's truly clumsy attempt at disguising spam as comments, check this douchebaggery out:
It gets better.  Here's this guy's "off-the-cuff comment" in response to an article that already explained the site:
Then there's this realistic-sounding remark:
Let me grab a napkin and wipe off this puke.
Here's a medley of some insightful comments from some other "people":
Look at Ms. Wang's post if you think these comments aren't spam.  The "Phebe" bot just strayed off the ranch a little bit there.  And the ranch is fertile.  Look at this parade of press releases masquerading as "articles" (click to enlarge):

They're pounding pinning, all right.

UPDATE: What a surprise, Pinterest was caught spamming people's Facebook friends.  The Next Web has the story here.

UPDATE 2: Here's a great story about "tech bloggers" whoring out, selling out, and basically lying: Whores and Paid Apologists

UPDATE 3: Mashable banned my account.  HA HA HA!  Obviously I consider this a victory.  Pretty sad, Mashabullshit.