LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You know you're screwed when...
You live near the London Olympic Village. Your neighbor (who follows a different football club) is getting a guided missile put on his roof, but you aren't.
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...
LinkedIn Spillage, BlockBuster sucks, but what the hell? You won't remember!
I thought we were past all of this. Corporate America has been collecting information about us, and for a while, it appeared no one knew how to protect the goodies. Credit reporting companies have spilled social security numbers. Credit card companies have spilled account numbers. When it appeared that everyone figured out how to lock down servers, configure firewalls, and encrypt files, the collective sphincter relaxed. And then, LinkedIn got hit.
I'm not sure how LinkedIn got broken into. But I think a break in every once in a while is good for us all. It teaches us that no system is bullet-proof. We need to have unique passwords for all sites that require them. I didn't receive one of the emails telling me that I was a victim (the fella two cubes down did get this letter), I just assumed the worst. When I heard about the break in, I assumed my account was in jeopardy, and changed my password.
I'm sure LinkedIn has flogged their sys admins and have done something to ratchet up security. The lesson we users need to take away is to not assume any web site knows what they are doing. We have to have strong unique passwords. We have to restrict the information we post. If they don't need it, don't give it to them.
Yes, you can say, "no" when companies ask for information they don't need. My Dentist asked for both my driver's license, and Social Security numbers. With both of these bits of information, you can steal a person's identity. Since you have to provide Social Security information to your employer, and financial companies, that's what I allow some companies to know. I never tell anyone my driver's license number. When the Dentist's office manager said they had to have both, I told them they didn't. They could take what I was offering or leave it. There's plenty of Dentists in Sillycon Valley. They copitulated. They also want too many phone numbers. I give out one. If I don't answer that one, leave a message.
My gym changed from using a bar code card for check in, to wanting members to punch in a 10 digit number and then do a fingerprint scan. I've said no to that as well. This gym has a hard enough time keeping the hot tub clean, why would I assume they know how to keep my biometric data secure? Every once in a while there's some new kid behind the counter. They like to tell me they don't accept the old card anymore. I just look at them and say, "Yes, you do." Then, they check me in.
The LinkedIn break in is another reminder. It's your data, protect it. Corporate America will tell you how sorry they are when they get hit, but they won't help you un-do any damage that happens. The internet is a bad neighborhood. Wear a cup!
This Just In...
Yahoo! just spilled 450,000 accounts. Ditto.
I've been a Dish Network subscriber for many years. When we bought Casa de Fek, I had a dish attached to the chimney. I had worked in cable television for a few years in my early career. My experience in the industry was that cable companies were slow to make repairs when there was an outage, and they had a habit of changing the channels you got every January. I had heard good things about the satellite companies. There was less equipment to fail, and you were not as restricted about which channels you could get. The dish was put up, and the service was great. The only thing that could interrupt my signal was a power outage or a bald eagle landing on my chimney. Over the years, the increases in price have been modest, and Dish has a habit of giving me more channels without charging more for them.
Recently, Dish upped the offer again. They bought Blockbuster in a bankruptcy sale. At the service level I purchase, I was now entitled to Blockbuster's disk mailing competition to NetFlix. I've been with NetFlix for longer than Mrs. Fek'Lar and I have been married. I've got the CEO's email address because, in the early days, he didn't know not to send letters to all subscribers from his personal account. For the most part, I've liked NetFlix, until this year's splitting of their services.
NetFlix sees their future in streaming movies and not mailing discs. But for most of the time we've had the house, we were on DSL that was almost as slow as 56K dial up. Recently, we started buying internet from the cable company. Funny turn of events, eh? Now I could stream movies from NetFlix, except the movies available for streaming were never new titles. I stopped trying and just waited for the discs to arrive.
I'm not really sure how this is NetFlix's future. Unless I can get the recently released movies, there's no way I would pay for the streaming service. As for the disc service, someone just walked in with a better offer, free. I signed up for my BlockBuster account and started populating my queue, then I killed my NetFlix account. I've been getting email from them pleading with me to come back ever since.
The problem is Blockbuster kind of sucks. The mail service is very slow. NetFlix prides itself in how fast they can send out a new disc once they receive the one you returned. BlockBuster... not so much. You can wait days before they send the next disc.
Then there was a question about how they decided what to send. I've got a queue of about 250 titles, prioritized in the order I want to receive them, just as I had with NetFlix. But I was receiving titles at about position 28 in the queue. I wrote an email asking if they were just sending titles randomly. Apparently, not every distribution center has all the titles in the same abundance. But my queue does not reflect the status of a title at the distribution center that services my account. So when I see that Titanic 2: Revenge of the Iceberg is available, it doesn't mean my distribution center has one. Just that somewhere in the country, there's a disc. Considering the technology available, they ought to be able to show me only the status of discs in my area.
The default preference in a queue is to ship a title as quickly as possible. So if the first title available from your distribution center is number 28 in your queue, that's the one you get, even if the web site says number one is available. You can change this preference to wait until a title earlier in your queue is available, and this can delay mailing for up to five days. This makes BlockBuster much slower than NetFlix. Even if the disc you want is available, it isn't mailed as quickly, and it feels like they don't buy enough copies of new releases.
Then there's the in-store exchange. This should be the great equalizer. This feature allows me to take a disc I've received in the mail to a BlockBuster store to exchange for another title, at no additional charge. The problem is all the BlockBuster stores in Sillycon Valley are being closed. The nearest store still open is in Redwood City, 18 miles away. This really surprises me. It's not like I live in the middle of Nowhere, Montana, population 6 (counting cattle). I'm in a major metropolitan area. A million and a half people live in Sillycon Valley. So this feature has great suckatude.
I did try the Redwood City store. I found a title I wanted and exchanged a mailed disc. When I returned the store's disc, they took almost a week to check it in, but not until I called headquarters to complain.
The keyword with BlockBuster is slow.
I had uncovered a despicable practice at WTHAIS. I marched into HR to confront the beast in its lair. Of course, when I got there, I tippy-toed my way past the minions and flunkies, using my ninja skills to get to the person who was pulling the trigger.
This quest into the lion's den had started several months previous. A woman who was with the company for seven years, and had been laid off for six months, asked if I would meet her for lunch. When I arrived, I learned that she was up for a position with another company. She said she had forgotten what we did at WTHAIS. I thought this was weird. How can you forget in six months what you did for seven years? It's not like this was the Haight-Ashbury in the late 60's. After the lunch, I let the incident go.
Then, months later, a man who had been with the company for about 10 years, then left for a couple years, and then re-joined the company, came down to the dungeon which is my cubical and asked me the most-basic questions about how our product works. Again, I was struck by how odd this was. Ten years here, two away, and basic knowledge lost! I was so perplexed by the situation, I opened a second Diet Coke.
A couple days later, I had figured out what was going on. It was morally reprehensible. Thus my sojourn through the concentric rings of hell. I was in Barbie's (the director of HR) office. The door was closed. I told Barbie I knew what was happening. If it stopped, I would drop the issue and it wouldn't need to be reported. She asked what the hell I was talking about.
I told her the two stories about the WTHAIS veterans who had lost all their knowledge in such short periods after leaving the company. She acted like she as surprised and didn't know what was happening. I said it was obvious. Then I asked her to hand over the Neuralizer.
Barbie denied HR had a Neuralizer. I pushed a bit harder. Why were the venetian blinds to Ken's (the VP of HR) office always closed? Again, it was obvious. The blinds protect any employees walking by who may not be wearing sunglasses indoors. Since they are still with the company, their brains needed to be protected. But the person sitting in Ken's office for their exit interview, they were getting their brain wiped.
Barbie still denied HR had a Neuralizer. I made a phone call. Ken and Barbie were frog-walked out of WTHAIS in front of the employees. Only I wore sunglasses so dark, they came with a free white cane and seeing-eye dog. I'm the only one who remembers who Ken and Barbie were.
So, let this be a warning. When sitting for your exit interview, have your protective eyewear.
London Olympics to Boast Best British Food Ever
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"A slow start is a good start."
"I have a lame question."
"That's ok, I'm a lame person."
"I came here to get drunk, not have my mind blown."
(OK, this one was over-heard in a bar.)
"This looks like it was designed by a person from Planet Bangalore."
"I'll do something that looks impressive. (pause) Stop laughing!"
I need to find some breath mints. Rocket Man is coming to town.
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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