Try Again

The worst response technical support can give me is to suggest I try something I have already tried without success. An explanation why this suggestion is going to work this time when the previous attempt(s) did not work would help. Otherwise, why would I expect it to work this time when it didn’t last time? The response to…

Perhaps you can explain why this will work now when we explained in the first note that we have already tried this and found BbVista would not start?

was

I’m conferring with our development team about how it will work now vs. earlier when it did not. Thanks.

This wasn’t our usual support person. This is, I think, someone covering our cases and thought to get us to close the ticket easily. You know reach Ticket Inbox Zero. Someone who doesn’t realize I blog about stuff like this because… Well… It annoys me.

On Oil

Hubbert Peak Theory
Hubbert Peak Theory (image via Wikipedia)

A while ago, George wrote about the new fees for flying. Lacey pointed out how the price of oil affects the cost of running an airline. Thoughts about these have been lurking in my head ever since. Today I have watched a couple times a speech given by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett on how oil production is about to peak. The transcript helped the second time through. (Wikipedia on Hubbert Peak Theory) I also watched A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash on Netflix’s Watch Instantly.

Bartlett quoted Thomas Friedman:

Our problem is so much worse than you think. We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy, then you want to raise taxes on the things that you want to discourage — gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars — and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage — new renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite.

(Bolded for emphasis; even though italics is emphasis.)

While this may not be a strategy, Bartlett does not point out keeping our economy in a positive growth direction has been the emphasis for the past 30 years. Cheap oil keeps factories running, keeps transportation moving, and forms the basis of our plastic-based society. Without cheap oil, we could not maintain the wonderful society we have today.

In Europe, they discourage the use of oil by much high taxes on it. The cost of this approach is we would almost certainly also enter into a recession for some time. Would it be the end of the world? No.

I don’t think our leaders completely ignored the problem as Bartlett suggests. They gambled on the choice technology would make alternatives cheaper by now and conservation would bridge the gap. They wanted their party to remain in power, so they would not have Instituted policy which would cause voters short-term pain with long-term benefits (despite the long-term benefits once through the pain).

That may be the kind of leader we need, but I would be surprised for such a person to get elected President of the United States.

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Firefox 3

The generic globe logo used when Firefox is compiled without the official branding
Image via Wikipedia

Apparently the official launch of Firefox 3 is tomorrow. So we get to look forward to 4+ months of students and faculty members asking why Blackboard Vista doesn’t recognize Fx 3 as supported. Every week’s call with Blackboard will have the conversation:

Us: Is it supported yet?
Bb: Not yet. We are working on it.
Us: When will it be supported?
Bb: We can’t tell you yet, but we will let you know when it is.

I bet Mozilla starts pushing it through auto-updates either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. So it will be everywhere soon enough. Ugh.

Personally, I look forward to the upgrade as it will hopefully resolve a major issue for me: Firefox 2 regularly consumes in excess of 250 MB of RAM and becomes sluggish.

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Lost in Communication

Would you believe United States employees cost their employers $650 billion in productivity costs in the seconds it takes for them to return attention back to the task at hand? The time spans lost are the same amount of time required to interpret a CAPTCHA. E-mail, instant messaging, Twitter, etc. are all distractions from getting the work done. Those who choose to disconnect or limit the distractions improve their productivity. At least that is what the technology corporations studying the problem have decided. I have my doubts. This sounds like a restating of “all employees with access to the Internet just surf all day and get nothing done.”

What I like about instant messengers is they are more efficient than email but cheaper than a long distance phone call. By marking availability status, employees alert others not to contact them. Employees also may ignore messages until they have are done concentrating on the task at hand. Another article, also from the New York Times, supports this view employees using instant messengers effectively are not distracting.

Looking at an alert just to decide whether to respond would “waste time.” Then again, so would talking about a cool movie, the family, or any of the standard means of bonding which establish trust between individuals (without which far more time would be wasted in mistrust).

Guess there will be more research to debate what is really the problem.
🙂

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Nature Photography Day

June 15th is Nature Photography Day (and Father’s Day).

  • Purple ConeflowerTake your kids and grandkids on a nature trek and give them a single-use camera to use. Then print some of their photos and present them, in a mat or frame, to those young photographers.
  • Pick something in nature that you’ve never photographed before, and then make plans to photograph that subject on June 15.
  • Select a subject in nature that is small or common and thus easily overlooked. Then photograph it in a way to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.
  • Look for and photograph something that detracts from the beauty in nature – images that show how human beings sometimes adversely affect our environment.

Too bad June 14th is Free Day in the Parks for Georgia State Parks.

My photos will be tagged “Nature Photography Day” on Flickr.

(Photo is my Purple Coneflower picture hosted on Flickr.)

Loving Day 2008

The plaintiffs in Loving v. Virginia, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving

Image via Wikipedia

Did you do anything for Loving Day? Do you even know what it is? From the site….

Loving Day is an educational community project. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. Loving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.

This is personal for me.

When my parents went to get married (after this decision), the Justice of the Peace refused to grant them the marriage license, citing a state anti-miscegenation law. Lately, Mom has been adding to the story: This was a huge deal within my parent’s circle of friends. Some, excited at the prospects of making national news, encouraged them to fight the decision and sue the state to grant the marriage just like Loving v. Virginia. Other encouraged them to avoid the confrontation and attention.

In college, I found a death threat written to Mom once about her dating Dad. When I confronted her about this, she told me this was actually benign compared to the face-to-face threats and even the rifle the neighbor across the street at times trained on my dad.

So my parents were intimidated against making a similar fight. They found someone in another state who willingly married them without the fuss.

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Book Review – The Edison Gene

The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child by Thom Hartmann

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading the DSM-IV about ADHD sounded to me more like the behavior over a typical boy than a mental illness. Thom theorizes a gene came about which allowed our ancestors to survive an intense period of ice ages. This gene, when triggered, exhibits behaviors teachers find abhorrent in the Prussian style education system of the United States better geared to producing soldiers and factory workers than scientists and creators.

View all my reviews.

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