Monday, June 26, 2006


-- "Hi FJ!!"
"Today, I needed my fix so bad, I did something not good. I came home and realized I had left my mobile phone charger at work, so I knew I couldn't use the Internet because I couldn't charge the phone. And I thought, well, I'll just do some stuff off-line: answer some very old mail, play a game, relax."
-- "So what happened?"
"I looked at the wall-phone, and fired up the cell-phone modem for a quick google look-up. 'dial-up 213' 10 minutes later I entered my credit card"

Yes, sigh uncomfortably. I know it was stupid, and I promise that when I try to cancel I will make a recording of the call. But PeoplePC swears that I can cancel at any time during my 30 day trial, and it is a local call...

Dial up. I had almost forgotten how that negotiation sounds. What is that strange boing in the middle these days anyway?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

You Can't Take Pictures Here

You Can't Take Pictures Here
"You Can't Take Pictures Here", Nokia 6600, Los Angeles County, 2006

Hope Street in downtown LA is bissected, in part, by this developemnt: it is a bank tower of US Bank and a plaza with stair cases and fountains. It is right accross from the public library. As I was descending the stairs you see here, I pulled out the phonecam to make some pictures. A man in a business suit and a red tie approached me to tell me that I couldn't take pictures here. "Is this not public property?" I asked. He respeated that I could not take pictures here, and again I asked if this was public property. He answered that this was private property which allowed public use, and no picture taking was just policy. I smiled and put my cam away. Downstairs I saw two more of these men, and realized the suits and ties were actually uniforms of the security company.

I crossed the street to the LA Public Library, and took this picture there.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fun With Utilities

On a good day, only so many of my social transactions work. One always fails. So today, while I did get my car washed -- you're supposed to do that in LA or the grime gets baked in, no waiting for some rain like in Boston -- and I did get all my laundry dropped off -- but I only get it back Monday after 4, so Tuesday morning, and lord knows what I will wear to work -- I did not get cable. Sure, he was in my appartment, and with his Pust-To-Talk phone and supervisor on the other end found everything, but there was this one electrical closet down the hall that he didn't know the combination to the lockbox to. The supervisor could tell him where junction was in the unit -- above the false ceiling of my bathroom -- but not what the code was.

The emergency building number person didn't even know there was a lockbox for the key, but was able to tell me I should have scheduled all maintenace people with them first. When I did get a callback from a supervisor, he as well told me what I should have done, which was involve them first. It seems I need to coordinate 3 people -- me, the building people, and whomever comes to do work -- before I can get anything done here. I let everyone know I was not amused.

It is because one of these interactions always fails that I do not like to ask anyone anything in a commercial transaction. I do not like to ask shopkeepers or retail workers where things are or how they work or what I have to do to get it; it is never there, they always act as if you should have known already and you need to be talked down to, and it always takes jumping through hoops like coming back on a Wednesday afternoon between 1 and 3. I don't like calling maintenance or service people; I do not know the words for physical issues, they always end up using terms like lay-away and 'drainage lock remover' or crap like that like everyone knows what it means, and it takes me forever to basically find out what I want can't actually be done or is something they have never heard of and can't imagine why someone would want that. You read for a week and then you never want to talk to anyone in any commercial capacity again because you realize that unless you are handing over hundreds of dollars and make yourself their bitch, you are basically imposing by having a need to be commercially filled. It has made me phobic by now.

I did find the combination, this afternoon, and actually had someone else open it for me, because somehow I can't work this particular combination knob. I had a copy made of the key to that closet, to remain in my control. I obviously cannot rely on anyone being anywhere or doing anything to solve my problems, I need to have full control myself. Comcast offered to come by at all kinds of times when I should be at work, the dears, but certainly not back today, no matter how I pleaded to just do this 5 minute job. The people in the sales office who show these units called to see if everything was ok, and when I said what had happened, they could of course tell me that Comcast had been shown ten times where the box was, how it worked, and who had the combination. Point, point, point, everyone so pleasant but stuck in their systems, but the end result is that obviously I will remain connected only through my cell phone until next Saturday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Upload Secretly

The NYT has an article about the guy who went on a quest about his friend's lost Sidekick. 'Sidekick' is the name for a mobile device that has a small keyboard and a camera and a phone, and everything you shoot with it, or all the websites you visit, automatically get logged onto T-Mobile's web servers which you can check from your desk.

The friend left it in a cab, did not get it returned, logs into the T-Mobile web servers to check what the Sidekick was doing, and, lo and behold, she finds someone has used her device. The whole saga of what happened next is on the page, and it is a fairly riveting read on a number of levels besides just the story itself, like
  • Learning the hard way how to handle a high-traffic website,
  • Learning the hard way how forums end up working on a personal level
  • Learing the hard way to handle reputation-management on the Internet (tip: don't get sucked in)
  • How the cops try to game their own system to create the least amount of work for themselves, and can absolutely not stand challenges to their procedures.

It makes me wonder about how and I handled our own version of this; when our apartment was broken into and the perp used the phone 30 minutes after the break in. Now the BPD was not as unhelpful as the NYPD -- and a case could be made that no crime happened in the Sidekick case because it was not stolen -- but in our case the BPD wasn't really helpful about a breaking-and-entering where we could give them full stats on the likely perp -- the person who used the phone 30 minutes after the break-in. You think my phone got fenced in 30 minutes or less, hmm?

I should have made a web-page, instead of scattering our finds amongst entries. Collected the info about his hunnies that called me, and become a media sensation. Harnessed the Internet. Instead, we let it go after getting nowhere ourselves; burglaries are really not a prosecuted crime.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cyc Now

If Cyc could actually read and understand an encyclopedia, I'd hook it up to the Wikipedia, cuz then it would know just as much as if it did Brittanica, yet seem way more with it.