dannyman.toldme.com


Featured, Letters to The Man

Are Girl Scout Cookies a Scam?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2010/01/25/are-girl-scout-cookies-a-scam/

I will always remember that us Boy Scouts gathered at the local council to go to Scout Camp and it was a really ugly building in a bad neighborhood. One day we drove past the Girl Scout council headquarters in a large, shiny, landscaped office in the suburbs. The contrast in my mind is that our troop got the money to fund camping expeditions, and my sister’s troop got the funding equivalent of an ugly building in a bad neighborhood.

I just filed the following question with the Girl Scouts of Northern California:

Hello,

Why does over 50% of the proceeds from girl scout cookie sales go to “Council Services”?

http://www.girlscoutsnorcal.org/pages/product_sales/cookie_sale.html

I would like to think that if I pay $4 for a box of cookies that the girl’s troop is seeing at least 50% of that, as might be expected from other fund raising opportunities. It honestly sounds like a scam to me, and that is part of the reason I stopped buying Girl Scout cookies.

Thanks for explaining.

Sincerely,
-daniel

They did not write back. I guess you have to pay a bit more for “Council Services” before every last crackpot can expect a response.

I ate a lot of Girl Scout cookies when I was growing up, and I think they’re tasty, but they are not a good value for the money. Next time I’ll ask if maybe they can take a direct cash donation to the troop.

1 Comment


Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Technology, Testimonials

Amazon Associates and Google Blogger Now Integrated

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2009/12/17/amzn4blgr-lmao/

I received an e-mail with the subject “Amazon Associates and Google Blogger Now Integrated” and I was amused in much the same way that I am amused when I see a dog enjoying someone else’s vomit. The e-mail invited feedback via Twitter, but I went to fill out a form. This is what I wrote:

Hello,

I received an e-mail with the subject “Amazon Associates and Google Blogger Now Integrated” and I was like “oh, trainwreck!” Then I realized Google had added a feature so associates could link more easily. That’s cool.

Except, Blogger is a horrible, horrible, truly awful platform. Hopefully you are working so that bloggers on other platforms, like WordPress, can do stuff effectively. (I know I stopped years ago as it wasn’t worth the effort.)

This was troubling: “The new tool allows Bloggers to add links and images . . .”

Why is it troubling? Because there are bloggers, and then there are users of Blogger. I realize that “Blogger” is short-hand for a “user of Blogger” but it also implies that Amazon is thinking that the only bloggers that count are the ones with a capital B.

But the real punchline was:

“Please tell us what you think of our new Amazon Associates for Blogger feature using hashtag #AMZN4BLGR on Twitter”

This is awesome on two levels:

1) “We should collect feedback from users. I know, we can assign our users a hashtag and they can communicate with us on Twitter! We’ll be trendy cool social media mavens!”

2) “Gotta think of a hashtag! Okay . . . let us take the words Amazon and Blogger, remove the vowels, and smash it together with the number 4. Because, after all, if we’re collecting feedback from users and limiting them to 140 characters on Twitter our hashtag should look like a car’s license plate!”

Maybe instead of having a giant social media marketing boner over integration with the most technically awful leading blogging platform you could focus on delivering core functionality to users that should have been delivered four years ago.

Sincerely,
-daniel

Feedback Welcome


Letters to The Man, Sundry

Shell’s Apology

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/12/26/shells-apology/

I received the following response to the complaint I sent to Shell about their infernal television gas pumps:

Dear DANIEL HOWARD,

Your complaint about the pumps at our Shell branded station concerns us. Please accept our apologies for your trouble and inconvenience.

Be assured that we will give this matter thorough and proper attention. Situations like this are best handled locally, so we have forwarded this information to our Region.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for your patronage of Shell products and services.

Sincerely,

Shell Solutions Center
Customer Care
1(888) 467-4355
eMail: shellcustomercare@shell.com

My hunch is that this will be the last I hear from them. All the same, this actual human0crafted response is a little better than the average evil corporation.

Alas, I pumped some gas into Mom’s Prius this evening, in Chicago, and I realized I was at a Shell station with more obnoxious NBC programming. Augh!!

1 Comment


Letters to The Man, Sundry

Shell Gasoline

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/12/19/shell-gasoline/

Here’s an e-mail I just sent to Shell Gasoline:

2329691887_a0aca3829d_m
Shell Logo, courtesy walknboston.

Hello,

I had no strong feelings about gasoline brands either negative or positive, until this morning. I pulled into the gas station at 19th Ave and Taraval in San Francisco, and the gasoline pump started talking to me and then playing commercials. There’s no way that I would find to turn it off. It was really obnoxious.

When I get my gas I like to have a moment I can stop and think. With blaring televisions on the gas pump I am instead filled with antipathy towards your brand. Because of my experience this morning I now know that when I need gas and I see a Shell station and a non-Shell station, that the non-Shell station is not likely to have a noisy television to annoy me while I get gas. For that I am willing to pay a premium.

Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,
-daniel

Yup. I am a grumpy old man.

2 Comments


Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Politics, Travels

Simian Liberation!!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/12/17/angry-monkey-revolt/

So it begins . . . in Sizhou, China:

monkey-stick_1207558i
“Angry monkeys turn on their cruel trainer and beat him senseless with his own stick after he handed out a vicious beating to one of the trio during a performance riding mini bicycles in a market in Sizhou, China”
Picture: EUROPICS[CEN] (Via: Telegraph.co.uk)

The times, they are a changin’. Huzzah!

Update: Additional photos and story at The Sun. Even more, smaller photos at Mirror.co.uk.

Feedback Welcome


About Me, Featured, Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Politics, Relationship Advice, Religion, Sundry, Testimonials

Proposition 8

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/11/11/gay-marriage-pro-love/

One week ago the people of this country began to party in the streets. I was actually driving down 16th St when I had to stop because the street had been spontaneously closed by joyful San Franciscans. Once I got on my way home I passed Market and Castro. Castro was blocked off for a formal street party, but the crowds seemed subdued. Upon arriving home I saw that Prop 8, repealing the right of people to marry a person of their own sex, was ahead.

Joy at electing a remarkable man to the White House. But a gut-punch to those of us who feel deeply about equal rights.

Just now I received a link to Keith Olbermann, and NBC commentator, who does an excellent job of expressing my dismay over Proposition 8:

The gist: marriage is about Love. At the time Barack Obama was born his parents’ marriage was illegal in 1/3 of the United States, and in the days of slavery, marriage between black people was illegal. There is no advantage to be had in opposing gay marriage, and in this culture where we feel uncomfortable about the impermanence of relationships, and the high rate of divorce, if two people can find love, we ought to allow them to enjoy it the same as anyone else.

While there are lawsuits out to restore same-sex marriage through the courts, my personal hope is that we can put it on the ballot again, and that next time it comes before the people of California, the people will have grown in their own hearts to accept that allowing lovers to marry is what we ought to do. We gained ten points since the last ballot proposition, and Prop 8 would likely have failed were it not for balls-out misinformation fear campaign by the Mormon Church and other cultural conservatives, who viewed popular support for same-sex marriage in California as the first step in a trend that would ultimately lead to acceptance of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

We have work ahead to ensure the rights of a minority that has been tormented for too long.

1 Comment


Letters to The Man, News and Reaction

HOWTO: Call Ikea USA

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2008/08/18/ikea-us-telephone-number/


A fire drill at Dallas IKEA? (Thanks, shesbitter)

Ahhh, Ikea! Our favorite one-stop shop to kill an entire Saturday stocking up on inexpensive husgeråd. The checkout process can be exhausting, but I tend to find the post-unloading furniture assembly to be relaxing.

And while Ikea has nice products at modest prices, sometimes things don’t go perfectly, and you need some customer service. This is where you experience the dark side of Ikea: getting customer service, especially from your local Ikea store, can be a nightmare.

But, fret not, as I had done, for after my whining, Paul posted the number for Ikea US Corporate Headquarters, and I have since heard from others that calling this number indeed connects you to friendly human beings who can resolve problems for you:

(610)834-0180

If you find that this does or does not bring you satisfaction, please let me know. Cheers!

7 Comments


Excerpts, Good Reads, Letters to The Man, News and Reaction, Politics, Quotes

Colin Powell: Close Guantánamo

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/09/11/colin-powell-close-guantanamo/

It is exciting, inspiring, and hopeful, to hear a conservative like Colin Powell speaking like this:

Let’s welcome every foreign student we can get our hands on. Let’s make sure that foreigners come to the Mayo Clinic here, and not the Mayo facility in Dubai or somewhere else. Let’s make sure people come to Disney World and not throw them up against the wall in Orlando simply because they have a Muslim name. Let’s also remember that this country was created by immigrants and thrives as a result of immigration, and we need a sound immigration policy.

Let’s show the world a face of openness and what a democratic system can do. That’s why I want to see Guantánamo closed. It’s so harmful to what we stand for. We literally bang ourselves in the head by having that place. What are we doing this to ourselves for? Because we’re worried about the 380 guys there? Bring them here! Give them lawyers and habeas corpus. We can deal with them. We are paying a price when the rest of the world sees an America that seems to be afraid and is not the America they remember.

Amen! Let’s stop hiding behind an Iron Curtain of Fear.

Are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves.

(Thanks, Craig Newmark.)

1 Comment


Letters to The Man, Sundry, Technology

Yahoo! Insiders

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/08/29/yahoo-insider-search-assist/

I recently participated in some beta test challenge thing for something called Yahoo! Insiders. They sent me some schwag, including a nice little flashlight that came without the requisite 3 AAA batteries, and a cute little USB mouse that is too tiny for my massive hand. The program consisted of 9 “challenges” which basically boiled down to “use our search engine to find the answer to this question and you might win a prize.” (The prizes were nice, one day was a nice digital camera.) The search engine had some “suggestions” of what search terms you might be better off searching, which would appear if you clicked a little widget. Kind of like the Google spell checker, but with synonyms.

I didn’t use the feature because, well, it was buried under a widget and because I’m pretty good with typing keywords into search engines. I’m guessing they think “suggested keywords” might do something for newbies, though it really isn’t clear.

They just solicited some feedback. I filled out the form, and at the end they asked “is there anything at all that you would like us to know about Yahoo!, The Yahoo! Search Insiders Program or Yahoo! Search Assist?” I thought a moment, then:

What are you trying to accomplish? Build a slightly better search engine? Google works awfully damn well 90% of the time, so the bar to get anyone to switch for “better” is extremely high. Maybe you can put your massive resources behind a more ambitious idea like combining social bookmarking with Netflix/Amazon-style “recommendations” and thereby build a more personalized “Page Rank” index using social networking . . . the sort of thing Google SUCKS at.

I sound like a big dork.

1 Comment


About Me, Letters to The Man, Technical

Flaming: Thesaurus Style

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/05/18/fukn-quadr0/

Systems Administrators can be an uptight bunch. In the past few weeks I have twice spent some time amidst my fellow professionals. Most are nice people, a good many are inoffensively undersocialized, and a noisy minority are just flamingly obnoxious. (I have, at times, been flamingly obnoxious.) Two nights ago one of my fellows recommended Cory Doctorow’s mind-churning post-apocalyptic masterpiece “When SysAdmins Ruled the Earth” . . . I dare you to read it!

Not long ago I joined a professional mailing list, and today I thought I would chime in on the topic of mobile phone reimbursement. I received a polite note from the list moderator: my message had bounced, could I please re-sends the message as plain text only. These days I am using Gmail, which sends messages in the ubiquitous multipart/alternative format, which leads with text that is followed by a potentially-prettier HTML “alternative”.

I dug around in the preferences to see where I could set “text only” but couldn’t find anything, and took that as a sign that in 2007, even Google doesn’t care about supporting this antiquated preference. I have since noticed that you can just click “plain text” right in the tool bar while you are sending a message. But . . . well, I felt inclined to engage in the time-honored tradition of obnoxious computer experts and impose upon the guy my social-technological criticism of the status quo in the form of a well-crafted flame: (more…)

2 Comments


Letters to The Man, Politics, Technology

What’s up with JPG Magazine?

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/05/16/whats-up-with-jpg-magazine/

So, I was checking up on my Flickr buddies when I saw Malavagma posted a screenshot, showing that she had deleted her JPG Magazine account. Why? Because the founders had been pushed out. Derek Powazek tells his account of how JPG came to be as an effort coordinated between he, his wife, and a guy named Paul. But as things evolved, the guy named Paul quietly managed to take things over, and recently, Paul decided to rewrite history. Derek’s post explains:

. . . once we looked at the spec for JPG 2.0, we realized that, if we built that tool, we could make a magazine on any topic. The opportunity we had before us was really “Magazine Publishing 2.0.”

. . .

Paul and I talked about all the different magazines we’d start, but ultimately decided to begin with JPG. The brand had two years of momentum behind it and a strong community. 8020 bought JPG from Heather and I for a modest sum.

. . .

We are no longer working for JPG Magazine or 8020 Publishing.

Why? The reasons are complicated, and the purpose of this post is not to air dirty laundry – it’s just to let the community know why the founders of JPG are no longer there. We owe you that much.

In one evening, Paul removed issues 1-6 from the JPG website, removed Heather from the About page, and deleted the “Letter from the Editors” that had lived on the site since day one. Paul informed me that we were inventing a new story about how JPG came to be that was all about 8020. He told me not to speak of that walk in Buena Vista, my wife, or anything that came before 8020.

Here’s where the whole “not lying” thing comes in. I just could not agree to this new story. It didn’t, and still doesn’t, make any business sense to me. Good publishing companies embrace their founding editors and community, not erase them. Besides, we’d published six issues with participation from thousands of people. There’s no good reason to be anything but proud of that.

We had a long meeting with Ron. I tried to compromise. I suggested we add text to the website, explaining the difference between issues 1-6 and the new issues. I wanted to embrace the truth: Tell people how we started, how we grew, and what we were now. It’s the story of how a successful, organic community begins. It’s the story of how authentic media gets made. And it has the added benefit of being true. Compromise could not be reached.

It became clear that we could not continue to work together with this fundamental disagreement. And because he was the CEO, I was the one who would have to leave. I still own a percentage of the company, so I hope to see JPG continue to grow and prosper. Unfortunately, it will be without its founding editors.

Note: Typos corrected and the emphasis is mine.

So . . . having recently subscribed to JPG Magazine, and having my own account, I had to consider . . . what do I do? (more…)

1 Comment


Free Style, Letters to The Man, Testimonials

Scott’s Signature Series High Fructose Corn Syrup!

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/02/01/high-fructose-korean-bbq-sauce/

Recently noticed product at Andronico’s, hoity-toity supermarket for the monied class:

Scott's Signature Series High Fructose Corn Syrup!

Scott’s Signature Series
Korean Style Barbecue Sauce

INGREDIENTS: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Purified Water, Soy Sauce (Water, Soy Protein, Salt) . . .

I like how every ingredient is Capitalized, that the principle ingredient is government-subsidized High Fructose Corn Syrup, and that it features both Purified Water and plain old non-purified Water.

2 Comments


Letters to The Man, Politics

San Franciscans Protest Proposed Troop Surge

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2007/01/12/surge-protest-sf/

On my way home on Thursday, I stopped to check out a protest on Market Street. It has been a while, and people were gearing up to protest the President’s recently-proposed “troop surge”. I stopped to take a few pictures, and when I got home I spliced together a short video:

Feedback Welcome


Letters to The Man, Politics, Technology

Yahoo! Collaboration with Chinese Government

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/02/04/boycott-yahoo/

I wrote a letter to Yahoo! today. I am curious what answer I will get:

Hello,

I live in the Bay Area. I have friends who work At Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. I am a big Google fan, but I am also all about Flickr!. I purchased an account even before Yahoo! bought them and have since written a Flickr plugin. I have followed the recent controversey over google.cn’s launch, and I have come to the conclusion that Google is doing the right thing:

I have heard press reports that Yahoo! and MSN have cooperated with the Chinese government to reveal the identity of Chinese Bloggers, and have them arrested. This is wrong. And as a user, as someone who pays Yahoo! … I want to know, what are you guys doing about free speech in China? Wouldn’t you agree that disengagement in business activity that leaves you involved in arresting people is the way to go? What is Yahoo! going to do?

Do I need to stop using Flickr if I want to feel good about using the Internet? Do I need to encourage others to boycott Yahoo!, as consumers once boycotted companies engaged in human rights violations in South Africa?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
-danny

Perhaps, you too, should contact Yahoo!, or perhaps Microsoft, to express your concerns. I will post any reply I receive here.

-danny

3 Comments


Letters to The Man, Technology

Battlestar Galactica Paid Download

Link: https://dannyman.toldme.com/2006/01/25/battlestar-galactica-paid-download/

[From an e-mail I sent to the Sci-Fi Channel . . .]

Hello,

I don’t have cable, and my only access to TV shows has been via Netflix and Internet downloads.

I am very excited that you folks are now offering paid downloads of Battlestar Galactica! Bittorrent works great, but I’d like to see you guys compensated for the creative work and production costs, right? And since I only watch a few shows per month, the $2/episode is definitely a better value than buying Cable access, which is overpriced for my needs.

UNFORTUNATELY, the iTunes store is a closed, proprietary system, that can not be accessed from my home entertainment center, which runs on FreeBSD. So, even though I own a video iPod … I can not easily obtain the downloads from your vendor … and if I do somehow get to the iTunes store, I have no idea if they’re DRM-protected, which would block me from watching your show on my entertainment center anyway. :(

Please … please try to either:

a) Convince Apple to open up iTunes access to third parties. A while back, the open source community reverse-engineered the iTunes protocols so that Linux users could access this resource, but Apple locked these consumers out again.

b) Consider adopting Google Video as a sales channel — they have the capability to sell videos via traditional web browsers, which would allow ALL computer users to access your content, increasing consumer accessibility and sales for Battlestar Galactica.

Failing that … can I Paypal you guys $2/week for the episodes I have been obtaining via Bittorrent? :)

Thanks,
-danny

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