LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You know you're screwed when...
Your Thanksgiving Turkey has "Made in China" Stamped on It!
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...
An amazing new shopping experience buying a car with over 18,000 URLs.
Dear Dear Leader,
We haven't talked face-to-face in a long time. In fact, we only spoke once (October 13, 1988) at the second day of the Next roll out. I was the guy who said the cube needed a floppy drive. The next time we met, at the set up for the Seybold trade show, you only growled at me. It's been a long time, and I think there's quite a lot to talk about.
What I would like to speak with you about today are the Apple stores. Although these are wonderful showcases of your products, they are terrible retail businesses. I've had many bad experiences just trying to find someone to take my money. For example, I needed a new battery for my MacBook Pro. You know after a year these guys just don't hold very much charge. I dropped by the Valley Fair store, found what I needed on the shelf, and spent the next 20 minutes trying to pay. Long ago, you got rid of the traditional cash register. Now we customers have to track down some 20-something drone in a blue shirt. The trouble is, you can't queue up for these people. They're constantly walking around. When you think they're about to become available, you have to body-check anyone else you think might also want to be waited upon.
The 20-something male drones who work in the Apple stores only want to wait on 20-something women. And the 20-something female drones you employ... I haven't figured out what their criteria is. I'm 50-something. No one who works in the Apple stores wants to wait on a man who's old enough to be their father. If you didn't run the company, you couldn't get the time of day from these people.
I finally got the attention of one of the 20-something female drones. She then told me she wasn't doing check out. Huh? I asked her how I was supposed to know who to pay. She pointed to one of the 20-something male drones who was
stalking waiting on a young woman. I asked the 20-something female drone I was speaking to how I was supposed to know he was the mobile cash register? Now I was going to have to waste more time trying to get the male drone's attention. I got quite loud, and finally the 20-something female drone decided to take my money.
A few weeks later, I was in the Hillsdale Mall store. It was the lunch hour during the week. There was almost no one in the store. I finally got the attention of a 20-something male drone who was talking to another 20-something male drone, and asked if they had the 64 gig iPod touch in stock. He didn't know. He got on the radio and asked another drone in the back room. Then he and the drone he had been speaking with just wandered off. Was I supposed to follow them around the store while I waited for the warehouse drone to figure out what was in stock? (By the way, your stores are full of computers, why can't anyone just take a look at the database?) Finally, after 5 minutes the warehouse drone decided they didn't have any. I'm not sure if that was the truth, or he just got tired looking, or maybe he got lost in the warehouse. But the 20-something male drone on the floor finally looked at me and grunted, "We don't have that." No help. No suggestion about when I should next waste my lunch hour going to an Apple store. One wonders if you actually want people to buy products in your stores. I've decided to stop trying to teach this pig to sing.
What I've come up with is an amazing new way to acquire Apple products. I think you're going to love it. I'll go to the stores to look at new products. If I want to acquire the product and it's on the shelf, I'll just take it home. (I won't harsh your zen by taking any floor models.) I'll drop the money for anything I take from the shelves under your door mat. (You're still on Waverly Street, right?) I'm not that great at calculating the sales tax, so could you pick that up since I did the driving to your house? I call this new retail experience iShoplifting. It's magical. It by-passes the worthless drones who really aren't interested in selling products. I think all your customers are going to want to do this. They'll get the buzz of walking through the reality distortion field, but none of the frustration of actually buying anything. It's an amazing, amazing new retail experience. It's awesome.
One last thing... The stuff that's not on the shelf, I'll just order off the web site. Fed Ex pays way more attention to me than your drones do.
Hugs and Kisses,
I've started looking for a new Fekmobile. The '02 Saturn SC2 is nice, but it's getting up there on miles and will soon be requiring maintenance from a dealer who does not exist anymore. The local Cadillac dealer has taken over support of Saturn cars, but I found them to be less than honest the last time their maintenance bay was used.
I've been waiting for the release of the Chevy Volt. We're beginning to see some hard facts about this car. If you thought claims about unwritten software were fish stories, you should have heard some of the whoppers a few years back about this car.
The price is 41,000 big ones. After the Feds and the State of California finish giving you tax credits, that comes down to 28,500. (You have to owe the government 11,500 bucks to get this money. So you guys working at In-N-Out Burger aren't going to see this money.) However, we can guess this will be the stripped down model. The one you'll want, will be 32,100 bucks after tax credits.
Gas milage is important to me. I will not be able to do my driving in less than the 40 miles which is the battery's maximum capacity. Given our experience with laptops, I'm also guessing the 40 miles will be what you get if you are going down hill with a tail-wind. The Volt has a gas-powered generator. The big question is what's the MPG when the generator is running? No EPA numbers have been released. There's talk that the milage will be 37 MPG. That's a very disappointing number. If you add in the 40 miles you might get from the battery, you might get an effective 59 MPG. All of this is speculative. The EPA hasn't decided how they will invent their number for this car. Remember, the EPA number is really just a comparison between cars, not what you will really get.
There's possible modifications required to your house to support this car. An electric car charges very slowly unless you can give it higher than wall outlet voltages. The minimum you want to use is 220 volts. To bring in another 220 plug, I'll need to upgrade my breaker box. After installing my air conditioner I'm fresh out of slots for new breakers. Upgrading the box isn't cheap, guess about $2000.
Let's also not forget the maintenance cost of the vehicle. The Volt is a more complex car than a traditional gas-powered vehicle. Complexity means more to go wrong. Then there's the battery. The warranty is 8 years or a 100,000 miles. I won't get 8 years. There's no information on what it will cost to replace the battery.
Right now, it doesn't sound so rosy, does it? Let me pee on this parade some more.
The Honda Fit is rated 27 city and 33 Highway for a price starting at $14,900. Load it and the price hits $19,860. That's 12,000 bucks less than the Volt (Not counting the house upgrade, and the extra cost of replacing a battery.) Gas currently costs 3 bucks a gallon around my house. 12,000 bucks buys 4080 gallons which would take me over 134,000 miles. The current Fekmobile now has 140,000 miles on it. So buying a Fit would save me enough money to buy almost all the gas. It only gets worse if you compare it to a Ford Fiesta where the EPA rating is 40. (Note: 12,000 bucks could also buy 48,000 Diet Cokes from the WTHAIS soda machine.)
With these numbers the Volt is going to have to pack a lot of sexy. If you're a fashionista, this might be the car you have to have to go with your latest clothes and Apple products. Me? I'm a blue jeans and t-shirt guy. Screw fashion. I was raised that a car was a thing. We drive them for a few years and then get a new one. They're not identity. When you're in an accident you hope the car is totaled and you walk away. I look at cars practically. If the Volt doesn't win on numbers, it must appease my hedonistic self. I've got to get something visceral for the 12 grand.
Even so, would I buy it sight unseen from the web site? No. Would I even buy it during the first year? Hell no!
Now for a little more than the Volt, I could get a Mazda RX-8. Not at all a gas sipper. It's rated at 19 city, 23 highway. What do I get for the money? Zoom, zoom, zoom! The Mazda packs horse power in a car with a lot of cool tech. So compared to the RX-8 The Volt also doesn't look impressive. (Although I would not buy the RX-8 for two reasons. The crappy gas mileage, and the crappy needs-to-be-warmed-up rotary engine.)
Or for a little more than the Volt (after tax credits) I could get a Ford Mustang. In the V6 Premium with automatic transmission configuration, the Mustang gets an EPA rating of 31, just two less than a Honda Fit!, but with over 300 horses under the hood. Add Microsoft Sync (Yes! Hell has frozen over. I'm saying something nice about a product from Redmond. Mark this day in your diary.) and you get a lot of sexy for your money.
So, the Volt is out. I waited to see it, and it is a disappointment. Thanks for playing.
What also came up was the need to start thinking about a framework to contain the content. LowComDom has over 18,000 URLs, and all of them point to SHTML files. Making any type of broad change is very expensive. So if the UI is going to change, I might as well migrate the site into a framework while I'm at it.
Probably the most popular is Drupal, and I've spent a bunch of time studying it. Drupal seems to do a lot of great things if you're doing certain types of web sites. The problem is LowComDom is a 17 year-old site that has done many types of pages, and it really doesn't fit well with an off-the-shelf theme. To use Drupal, I'll have to write a ton of modules, and a complex theme.
Most people who learn PHP write a web framework. It's the natural project to do after learning the language. So I, like everyone else, have written a framework for another site. It works, it's not built to be easily modified for other sites, but I already know all the code behind it. It will be easier to modify my framework rather than Drupal's considering how much of the Drupal code I don't know.
The final problem with Drupal, and this might be just my perspective, is how non-linear some of its logic appears. You can enable a module and later learn it only works as expected on alternate Tuesdays. Again, this could just be me.
Crash has been using WordPress for his blog. Just out of curiosity, I installed it and started playing. Now this is pretty simple to implement. The online docs are very good. (That's always a surprise.) And you can download themes and easily learn how problems where solved.
As a proof of concept, I've started a project to convert the site I wrote a framework for to WordPress. Phase one is to replicate everything the site does today. Phase two will be adding a couple features I didn't have. By working through problems on a relatively smaller site with far fewer types of pages, I may get enough experience to start figuring out how I might use WordPress on LowComDom.
The prototype still needs to be finished. I subscribe to the design, then code view of running a project. But at the same time, I will be figuring out which framework I can use. I'll get it done, promise. I'm just not announcing when.
Disneyland Re-Opens Captain EO!
3-D Proof That Jacko Isn't Dead... He's Lady Gaga!
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"I can't drink any more coffee until I get rid of the old coffee."
"I am helping therapists everywhere with their balance of payments."
"I like my manager, but she's real stupid."
"Does GA stand for God Awful?"
"I could use a sonar range finder to see my way through all this bullshit."
I have to go find that bird.
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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