LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're a Real Geek When...
You've Turned the Periodic Table of Elements into a Drinking Game.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Self Service Suckatude
I haven't actually done any work on the LowComDom prototype in the last month. I plead insanity and laziness. Actually, I plead WTHAIS keeping me so busy as of late, I just want to sit in front of the tube when I get home. Oh, television! What would I do without you?
I'm working on a self-service project. Of course, the reason there's a self-service project is to reduce our labor costs. But truthfully, self-service can be all about getting a better product to your customer faster. At least, that's the tactic we're trying to take.
The best example of self-service I think I've ever seen is the Bank ATM. These started showing up in the early 80's and were put in to reduce bank costs. People liked not having to deal with banker's hours so much, some banks (I'm talking about you BofA) charged people 50 cents just to use the ATM. Charging your customers for a service that saves you money is pure capitalism!
Today, most people don't go into the bank. I only go in for very unusual needs, like safe deposit boxes or to change currency. But the mass day-to-day, it's ATM and online.
A bad example of self-service are retail store check out lines. They have these locally in Lucky, Home Depot, and Lowes. This is were you have to put each item on a table one at a time, and wait for an insipid voice to tell you that you're buying Diet Coke. Well, duh! What else am I going to be buying? The retail self-service lowers the retailer's costs, but offers me nothing. In fact, it takes away from the experience of making a purchase. No one greets me. No one makes sure I was able to find everything I was looking for. In fact, I'm actually doing work! Screw that!
At the bank, we never liked standing in line during hours we were supposed to be working. We would blow our entire lunch break just to do banking. The ATM freed us of banker's hours, holidays, and those dumb pens chained to the counter.
To make the retail self-service as good as an ATM, it would allow me to dump the Diet Coke onto a conveyor, automatically scan everything very fast, and auto-bag it. I swipe my credit card and away I go, in record time.
I deal in a product that is customized to the customer's needs. The customer places an order, and we build. What can we offer with self-service? How about speed? If you tell the system what you want, it can provide the finished product almost immediately, which is a far cry quicker than if we human's get involved.
How about accuracy? Here's where we provide a better product. If I misinterpret your order, we can go around a few times before I get it right. Since my customers are all over the world, the differences in time zones can mean each change turns into a day of turn around time. With self-service, the customer has more time to try new customizations.
I was in Reno (Really! It could happen!) visiting Niece Number Two, and attending the Rib Cook Off. I dragged along my laptop and iPod touch in hopes of keeping up on email and general news. What I learned was, although there are thousands of WiFi hot spots all over the world, this is a pretty useless technology.
First, there's the issue of the Niece's apartment, which receives internet through some wireless method, but converts it to Ethernet. That just feels so backwards. There are a few hot spots in her complex, but they're all locked, including the rental office.
In wandering around Reno, I found that many restaurants had WiFi, but all were locked (Okay, what's the point?) except one. There are no hot spots in Casinos. I expected as much. First, they want you working the slot machines, and second, they don't want you using a device to cheat. So pretty much, Reno was a bust.
But it doesn't stop there. I mentioned my bar was back in business. T.G.I.Fridays has a hot spot... but it's not hooked up. Huh? The juke box has an access point in it, and it's radiating, but no one plugged in a WAN to make it useful. Good thing they have huge-ass televisions and bottomless glasses of Diet Coke. No help there.
Let's talk about airports. There's not much good you can say about an airport at this point. You'd like to go somewhere, but the government needs to scare the crap out of you first, then you're herded into a cramped place for an extended time. I don't like airports. The best I've been to is Heathrow Terminal 4, which is like a shopping mall.
But even in Heathrow, you have to work hard to find the WiFi. Luckily, I know that British Telecom has hidden a hot spot in all of their pay phones. So if I find the pay phone I'm good, so long as I can get close enough.
If the first problem with WiFi is that everyone locks down their access point, the second problem must be range. WiFi is rated for 200 feet - in a vacuum. So if you're in outer space, more power to you. But an airport terminal is huge, the new terminal in Beijing is two miles long! WiFi is flat out, the wrong technology for an airport.
I did, Grasshopper, in a vacuum. You add metal from building construction and office hardware, and people, and that two hundred feet drops real fast. I'm on the internet right now, but not with the Doc's WiFi.
In Reno I got on with a 3G card that plugs into the laptop's USB port. If not for that, I would have been SOL for internet, except for that one restaurant. Trouble is, I carry an iPod more places that the laptop, and it doesn't have a USB port.
This week, I'm borrowing a MiFi. This are marketed by Verizon and Sprint. It takes a 3G signal and builds a personal WiFi hotspot. It's slightly bigger than a credit card and easily fits in a pocket. In the words of Buckaroo Bonsai, "Where ever you go, there you are." With my pants radiating, where ever I go, I'm on the net, no matter what device I have with me. That's really significant. Not being a slave to one port or another, and not having to load a special driver for the device on all of your machines (and they always forget to write drivers for one device or another) is a real win. I'm not a sales puke, but I know how to sell this.
Jenna Bush Joins Those Horrible Liberals at NBC!
The World Waits for Fox News' Bullshit Reasoning
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"Everyday I go home, my ass hurts."
I want to become Mormon to meet girls."
"There is no arguing in divorce court. She talks, she is granted."
"Do you know what it costs to dress a girl these days?"
"Do you know what it costs to undress a girl these days?"
"I don't want Banker's Hours. I want Home Redecoration Store hours."
I need to go self-service.
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people from the Christian Right.
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