January 21, 2008

1988 Called - It Wants Its Car Back

So I guess the Smart Fortwo is now available in the US. Two seat micro-car, $12-15K, 33/41 MPG.

I used to drive a Ford Festiva back in the day. I paid about the same for it in constant dollars, got about 32 in the city and about 40 on the highway.

Oh, yeah - 'back in the day' == 1988. Good to see that the auto industry has come so far. Tell me again why they stopped making Festivas (especially given the automotive abortion that replaced it - the Aspire)?


Posted by Chris at 04:53 PM | Comments (1)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

January 08, 2007

Forwarding Me To A Competing Site Would Have Made More Sense

I recently had a pretty crappy experience with 1-800-FLOWERS.com. The details aren't really relevant; suffice to say that I'll never be ordering from them again. You'd think it would have occurred to somebody that they probably shouldn't keep me on their mailing list, but that's probably assuming too much intelligence on their part.

I finally got around to hitting the Unsubscribe link on one of their thrice-weekly emails (I know, I know, you're not supposed to do that since it just tells spammers that your email is a live one, but since I'd actually ordered from them it wasn't spam per se). The next page was another website, probably their email list manager (cheetahmail, maybe?), confirming that they'd removed me from their list and asking me to provide the reason why I was unsubscribing.

First, any data they get from this will be useless since the only choices are "I get too much email from 1-800-etc" and "I'm not interested in getting email from 1-800-whatever," and since it's a radio button with no "decline to answer" option, most people aren't going to care enough to do anything beyond hit Submit with whatever option was selected as default.

Second, after hitting Submit, you're forwarded to 1-800-dipshits' main page. Why would I want to go there if I'd just unsubscribed from their mailing list? I just expressed a desire to make them stop trying to sell me flowers; why would I want to go to their main page, the only purpose of which is to try to sell me flowers?


Posted by Chris at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Unclear On The Concept

December 27, 2005

Bad Design: The Cube

Maybe I'm more sensitized to this kind of thing since I just completed a class on human-computer interface design, but I want to find the guy responsible for the soda case box known as 'The Cube' and punch him square in the nads. For those of you lucky enough to live in an area not infected with The Cube, let me explain: it is basically one 3x4 arrangement of cans stacked atop another one. One top side flap is perforated to allegedly allow easy access to the cans, but it has the following defects:

  1. I have never been able to get the flap to open on the perforations. Ever.
  2. Most of the time, the flap is glued down such that you can't even get your fingernails under the bottom of the flap to try to open it on the perforations.
  3. Once you've given up trying to get the flap to open as 'designed' (and I use that term more loosely than Clinton used 'is') and just rip the flap up from one corner, you can - maybe - pull out one can at a time, if you can see one.
  4. Once you've done that, the carrying handle at the top becomes useless, since there's no support on the one side for it (although, to its credit, trying to lift the case that way will open the entire top of the case very quickly).

OK. Now you've got a jagged hole in one side of the case, and you've pulled out the top twelve pops. One. At. A. Time. Now you've got this stupid sheet of thin cardboard separating the layers of cans that you have to yank out of the box - through your fist-sized hole - to get to the other twelve cans. You don't need to have a second elbow mounted just above your wrist to access those other twelve cans, but it helps.

Finally, you've managed to drink all twelve pops without going insane. Now, being the good citizen you are, you want to flatten the box to put it in your recycling bin. Hope you've got good fingernails - all four flaps are glued with the same Kryptonite-based mil-spec weapons-grade glue used on the flap you've already wrestled with, and when you get it all broken down, the thing uses some trick of folded space to actually become larger when flattened!

Compare this packaging cluster-fuck to the sublime simplicity of the beer case:

  • Easier to open - there's a gap between the top two flaps that you can actually get your fingers into
  • Once opened, all twenty-four beers are just sitting there smiling up at you. You can practically hear them begging, "Drink me!"
  • You can grab as many as you can hold at one time (though I usually limit myself to six)
  • Once you're done, you can use the box to keep other stuff in (including recyclable paper, and when it's fullyou can just close the lid again and toss the whole thing in the bin).
  • If you do have to break it down, it fits in the damn recycling bin!

That's it. I'm giving up pop.

Posted by Chris at 04:26 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

October 06, 2005

And After That Comes The Lower GI Endoscopy

A friend of mine recently applied for a job at a nationwide hobby/craft supply chain. She was required to fill out a four-page application and submit to all of the following:

  • A whiz quiz
  • THREE interviews
  • A background check
Which is about what it took for me to get my first Secret clearance.

I congratulated her for being in the running for the CEO job.

Apparently she's just applying for a regular hourly position.

I mean, it's a freaking CRAFT STORE! It's not like childrens' lives or national security are at stake here! Geez, people, have a little sense of perspective! I've damn near used up my month's quota of exclamation points, and it's only the sixth!

Posted by Chris at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

June 30, 2005

At Least He's Consistent

So Tom Cruise, Scientologist, doesn't believe we're alone in the universe:

Asked in an interview with the tabloid daily Bild if he believed in aliens, Cruise said: "Yes, of course. Are you really so arrogant as to believe we are alone in this universe?

"Millions of stars, and we're supposed to be the only living creatures? No, there are many things out there, we just don't know," Cruise, 42, said in the interview published in German.
Well, he'd better not - evil space aliens are the linchpin of his fake religion!

(filed under 'Corporate Stupidity' because Scientology is about as corporate as you can get)

Posted by Chris at 11:48 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

April 11, 2005

It Doesn't Say You Can't Use It For Fire Support Command And Control, So I'm Probably OK There

I just got around to installing iTunes so I can cash in my 18 'free songs' bottle caps (and my mother said that my addiction to Mountain Dew would bring me nothing but trouble. Ha. Guess I showed her.). I learned some things co-writing a paper on spyware for my Info Systems Security class this semester that scared the hell out of me - so much so that I'm actually reading End User Licensing Agreements now (because you explicitly consent to a lot of 'piggy-back' spyware by clicking Yes on an EULA that has a clause on, say, page sixty-something which says "We can install whatever the hell else we want to on your machine, so go pound sand if you don't like it").

How do the previous two sentences tie together? Behold the iTunes EULA, page sixty-something:

Sigh. I guess it's back to the store with it, then. That bastard salesman promised me that this version would actually control nuclear power plants. I need to get that model they used on 24.

Posted by Chris at 12:35 PM | Comments (3)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

July 29, 2004

SmartFilter Sees The Light!

My blog is once again work-safe. Secure Computing has updated the filter list for SmartFilter, and rpc.blogrolling.com is finally (again) listed as a 'Personal' page. Technically, depending on how tight the client wants to filter the Web, it could still be blocked, but most clients of SmartFilter don't have the screws that tight (and at least you'd be logging an attempted visit to a personal site rather than an attempted visit to a sex site).

For the story from the beginning, read this.

Posted by Chris at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

July 21, 2004

SmartFilter Still Dain-Bramaged

Well, Secure Computing updated the SmartFilter lists yesterday, and rpc.blogrolling.com is still listed as sex/porn, so this blog is still NSFW.

Posted by Chris at 06:15 AM | Comments (2)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

July 18, 2004

Warning to SmartFilter Users

Short version: if you're reading my blog from work, and your employer uses Secure Computing's SmartFilter as a web proxy, don't read my blog from work anymore until I give the all-clear.

Full version: the problem isn't my blog itself (it's work-safe). The problem is that I use blogrolling.com to manage my blogroll, and it builds my blogroll dynamically every time somebody loads the page by making a call to rpc.blogrolling.com. As of yesterday, SmartFilter thinks that rpc.blogrolling.com is a sex site, and blocks access to it. So even though you can't see it on my page (the blogroll just shows up blank), rest assured you're generating a 'this person tried to go to a sex site' message in the SmartFilter log that your IT folks (and maybe your Legal department, and maybe HR, and maybe your Ethics person if you have one) can see. Interestingly, blogrolling.com itself is categorized 'personal,' and most clients of SmartFilter won't block that. I've submitted a request to re-classify blogrolling.com as personal as well, and I'm going to email the BlogRolling folks to give them a heads-up.

This exact same thing happened a month ago, and it took about two weeks to unscrew everything.

Posted by Chris at 07:36 PM | Comments (2)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

July 08, 2003

Hulk Shag!

Ya gotta love those Spainards. According to the London Sun, Spanish toymaker Play By Play created a 12-inch stuffed Hulk doll that's not only anatomically correct, but anatomically proportional as well! The story features this picture:

which of course made me think of this (probably fictional) exchange between the photographer and the little girl: "OK Leah, now look at the doll... no, I need you to look up at its head... no, the OTHER head..." [CLICK!] "Finally!"

Money quote:

"And last night [mother] Kim called for a ban on the saucy toy. She said: 'A hulk with a bulk like this just shouldn’t be allowed.'"

Posted by Chris at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

July 23, 2002

w3 0wn ur f0n3

eweek.com reports that security researchers (read: hackers) at @stake have discovered many serious security flaws in one of the most popular brands of voice-over-IP phones, Pingtel's xpressa SIP PX-1. Among the flaws: shipping the phones without an administrative password (then allowing the password to be set remotely!), transmitting login information in cleartext, and lack of support for HTTPS. Once you 0wn the phone, you can do things like drop calls, change speed-dial settings, divert calls to another SIP phone, and DOS the phone in a dozen different ways. But the fun has just begun--you're now the prowd 0wn3r of a "POSIX compliant network device with storage space, bandwidth and a CPU." Another minion to do your blackhat bidding!

I submitted this (edited for brevity) to Slashdot; they didn't think it was good enough. Fortunately, we at the Reserved Space aren't constrained by things like standards.

Posted by Chris at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

June 18, 2002

Our Dumb Workforce

All kinds of professions suffer from an occasional attack of the Stupids, be it accounting math, inexplicable personalized license plate denials, or big-time software bugs (and the /. discussion thereof), but burning a 'Dear Jane' letter from your estranged husband while on wildfire-patrol duty takes the cake.

Posted by Chris at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

January 04, 2002

How Not To Design A Web Page, Chapter 6

I'm hardly an HTML/Web Design expert, but if there's one part of your web page that should absolutely never be blinking, it's your contact information at the bottom of the page!

Posted by Chris at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

April 29, 2001

Next, He'll Sue The Surgeon General For Allowing People To Smoke

On August 28, 1988, at an air show at (U.S.) Ramstein Air Base in Germany, two jets of the Italian Air Force aerobatic team (Frecce Tricolori) collided during their performance. One fell directly into the crowd of more than 200,000 people along Ramstein's flight line, killing 70 and injuring over 300 more. The 30 Apr 01 print edition of Marine Times is reporting that German attorney Gerhart Baum is representing 82 people who witnessed the crash. Claiming that his clients are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he is suing the German government for unspecified damages. If he fails to win, Baum says he will move the case to the U.S. and sue the Department of Defense. Let me point out here that these were not people injured in the incident; these were people traumatized by seeing the incident!

Now let me get this straight--two Italian planes collided, and he's suing the Germans, with his Plan B as suing the Americans? That'd be like if you got food poisoning in a restaurant and sued the construction company that built the restaurant, with Plan B as suing the taxi driver that took you there!

In the same issue of Marine Times, a former naval chaplain has been accused of "inappropriate sexual conduct" with two [male] sailors. Commander Robert Milewski, who is known as 'Father Bob,' faces a court-martial for the allegations. No word yet if his partner, known as 'Father Neil,' has been accused.

Posted by Chris at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

March 25, 2001

Once The Big Fish Eats The Smaller Fish, The Smaller Fish Don't Get Laid No More...

2001.03.25 Once The Big Fish Eats The Smaller Fish, The Smaller Fish Don't Get Laid No More...

I spent several years of my life (and way more money than I want to think about) addicted to a particular flavor of crack. Now you can read the behind-the-scenes story of Wizards Of The Coast and how it went to Hell in a three-ring binder of nine-pocket pages.

And if the net weren't weird enough, you can have Zippy The Pinhead translate it for you! Disclaimer: The 'Zippy Meets Meta-HTML' page isn't an official ZTP page, so far as I can tell, but my GOD it's a HOLE all the way down to BURBANK (be sure and try your hand at the Unclaimed Property Bulletin Board System--you never know what you might have lost while in California)!

And speaking of California, Everything2 has the etymology behind why it's really called "The Land Of Hot Sex".

Posted by Chris at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity

March 24, 2001

I May Seek You, But I Don't Seek Embedded Ads!

2001.03.24 I May Seek You, But I Don't Seek Embedded Ads!

Are you tired of ICQ's ever-increasing emphasis on ads? Here's somebody who knows what to do about it!

If I wrote user interfaces (I actually used to at the day job, until they told me to stop), they'd look like this. And that doesn't even capture the beta version, which had options like "Clarify Corn-Fed Requirement" and "Bamboozle Customer." Ahh, those were the days.

Posted by Chris at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)
Category: Corporate Stupidity