Bill Eccles: March 2008 Archives

Look out!

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OK, folks, I’m going to let you have it.

On a weekly basis, I’m going to unload a portion of my brain. With any luck, I’m not going to miss the bit that will show up here, and with an extraordinary amount of luck, it’ll be something relevant to you and might even cause you to read it.

I’m not holding my breath.

And neither should you. It might kill me. (Heh. A little ambiguous circular reference humor there for you.)

Why am I doing this?

Honestly, I don’t know. It’s not like I don’t have enough to do. I have a full-time job that keeps me busy enough that I don’t have time during the day to simply sit around and think of things to write about. It’s not like I don’t have two boys who are wonderful and keep me busy. It’s not like my relationship with my wife requires some significant rework, which we’re doing. It’s not like I don’t have a pretty large house that requires cleaning, laundry, maintenance, etc., to be done on a regular basis.

And it’s not like I’m not posting enough as it is. I thought to myself a while back, “Hey, I wonder if I can post something daily,” and took it upon myself to do just that. (With the exception of Sundays, I’ve been successful.) Even if the posts are not much more than a few words about a headline, they’re posts, and they’re daily.

So… why?

Still, I don’t know. Is it to attract fame and fortune? If it is, then I’m in for a pretty big shock, I’d imagine, because I’m not going to attract fame and fortune merely by putting my thoughts out into the ether.

And, for that matter, how am I going to attract people to the website to read it in the first place? I’m not going to be able to do so by posting pictures of dogs with crap balanced on their heads. I’m not going to be able to do it by writing crass articles about Macintosh computers, as some do. I’m certainly not going to do it by writing good articles about the functionings and machinations of Wall Street. (If I understood that well enough to write about it, I’d certainly consider making a living as something other than an engineer.)

So what will I write about?

Come back and see. First article due out next week, and it’ll be a shocker.

Article here.

Another take: God stubs His toe on Eiffel Tower, heard swearing at Earth Hour

Article here.

Another take: Obama throws race to McCain; Republicans rejoice

Without knowing the political aspirations of either Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell, i.e., whether or not they’d be willing participants, I have to wonder: would picking either one of these exceptionally well-qualified people as running mates help McCain’s chances in November, or hurt them?

Just wonderin’.

Article here.

Another take: …But in the Wrong Way.

Article here.

Another take: “I sent you two boats and a helicopter!

That’s just sad.

Article here.

Another take: I should know. Being overweight is driving me nuts!

Article here.

Another take: Um, yeah, riiiiight. He also sidesteps every direct question, dodges the real issues, and generally makes China look foolish in this interview with NPR this morning. It is, after all, the fault of those violent, protesting criminals in Tibet.

[Hey! This is entry 200! w00t! Hope somebody’s enjoying reading this. I’m having fun writing it!]

Article here.

Another take: Hey, if we can lie misspeak about Her Highness’s Bosnian experience, we can lie about our worries, can’t we?

Article here.

Another take: Now there’s a surprise: go screwin’ around with the perfect system that God set up, and you just might get something just a little bit, um, “unexpected.”

Charlie must love his job.

I got to speak to Charlie yesterday afternoon when I called Apple Customer Relations, but I’d better back up and tell you why I was calling Apple Customer Relations.

My company bought a PowerMac G5 Dual 2.5GHz for me 3-1/2 years ago. Until Monday, it had worked flawlessly, allowing me to do everything one might expect in a normal office environment, and even some things that are abnormal, such as running engineering design applications in VirtualPC. I loved having a Mac on my desk, as it gave me a certain amount of joy knowing that I was bucking the system a bit and not costing my company the $250/month that it used to pay to keep a PC on my desk. It was a Good Thing.

But now my Good Thing had a problem. After a software update on Monday, it decided that it wouldn’t reboot. I got a black screen. No video. The fans were acting funny. Rebooting seemed to work sometimes, but I had to work really hard to find a pattern of power button tricks that would make it reboot to a normal gray Apple screen. Using the Apple Hardware Tools CD that came with it yielded a cryptic error, “25TH/1/2: CPUA AD7417 AD1”. That didn’t look good.

Eventually, I gave in and decided to take the machine to the Apple Store for a Genius to look it over. I made the appointment for yesterday and hauled the machine off my desk, noting a small puddle of goo on my desktop. Uh, oh. Googling revealed that I probably suffered from a case of “Leaking 2.5GHz G5 CPU Module,” otherwise known as “Expensive Repair-itis.” But one guy… one guy lucked out and they replaced the dual G5 with a quad G5. Maybe I’d luck out.

Anyway, I hauled the machine out to the Apple Store yesterday and ruined a pair of dress pants in doing so, because these darned things are heavy and if you carry them so that they rub your pants as you walk, they’ll wear a hole in your pants faster than you can say “from the car to the Apple Store.” I told the Genius, Wayne, who was very pleasant, that I didn’t think it was a leak because I didn’t see a massive puddle, but I wasn’t sure. He opened it up and… puddle. After typing stuff into the computer, he said it’s a $916.25 repair. (A proposal: for amounts over $100, can we ignore the cents, please? Just round up and give it to the state treasury.) I told him that my boss wouldn’t spring for that, especially since an Intel mini was considerably less, so I hauled it back out of the store (further wearing a hole into the pants, by the way).

I related my story to my boss and he agreed, it was too much: the Mac… is dead. But I told him that I’d try calling Apple anyway and see what happened. And that’s how I happened to speak to Charlie.

I called Apple’s main number and asked the operator to speak to someone in corporate Customer Relations. She connected me to Charlie who was very pleasant, offered his sincere-sounding apologies on behalf of Apple, and I explained my story, pleasantly and with no hint of animosity in my voice. I also put it in bottom-line form: I simply would like for Apple to work with me to repair this Mac, hopefully at no cost to my company, because I really didn’t want to go begging for a repair or for another Mac. (I would likely get a Dell with Winblows on it if I did.)

“We want your experience with Apple to be a positive one,” he said, “so I’ll do everything I can to see that that’s what happens. But I don’t make any guarantees.” Charlie said he’d have to do some research and get back to me. I fully expected the conversation to end there, but he said that if I didn’t mind holding for 3-5 minutes, he’d get back to me and let me know what Apple might be able to do. Did I mind holding? No way! He even told me that if I had to hang up because I was at work and needed to answer another call, he’d call me back right away. Wow. I even believed him when he said it, too.

But 3.5 minutes later, he was back on the line. “Bill, I’ve got some bad news.”

“OK.” (Rats.)

“We don’t make that model PowerMac anymore.” (OK, knew that… oh, well.) “And, in fact, we don’t make those parts anymore, either.” (Sensible decision on Apple’s part, certainly.) “Would it be OK if we sent you a new computer? Would that make your experience with Apple positive?”

Ukkk… errrr… ummm… “Um, yes?”

“OK, then that’s what we’ll do. Now, I have to do some checking to see what we can replace it with. We like to replace ‘like for like,’ you see.”

Still in shock… “Errr, OK.” (OK, an Intel mini would be just fine here, Charlie.)

“Hmmm. How does a Mac Pro with dual quad-core Intel Xeons sound? Your old machine has a dual PC G5. This one will be a lot faster. And your old one has only 1GB of RAM. This one will have 2GB of RAM. Your old one had a 160GB drive, this one will have a 320GB drive. And it will be brand new, with a full one-year warranty, and it’s not a refurbished machine or anything. Is that OK with you?”

“Um, good grief, yes!” This is why I love to have a few shares of APPL in my portfolio! This is why I love to recommend Macs to people! This is why I like owning a widget!

We went through the details of the exchange process and the total cost to me and my company… $0. OK, so it cost them two of my hours to get this done, but $200 for a heckuva upgrade in processing power…? That’s a great investment.

“Now Bill, since this new machine has the new Intel processors in it, some of your old software might not be compatible. What software are you using?”

(No… he’s not going to do what I think he’s going to do…)

“Well, those versions of (the products) are incompatible with the new machine, so we’ll include the new versions of (the products) in this.”

(The cost to Apple just went up around $500, and I’m awestruck.)

“What kind of monitor are you using?”

(You have got to be kidding me.)

“I’ll have to check with a product specialist to make sure that the right cable is included to connect that monitor and that it’s compatible, so let me get back to you on that one.

“Now, is there anything else I can do to make sure your experience with Apple was a positive one?”

I was at a loss for words. After reading absolute horror stories on sites like Consumerist.com—though very, very few about Apple—I was sure I was going to be stuck with the bill for the repair. But here I was, walking out of the transaction with $3500 of new computer hardware and software, all because Apple wanted to make a customer happy.

I asked Charlie one more thing: Can I tell people about this, or is this some kind of secret? “Oh, absolutely! Tell anybody you like!”

And that’s just what I’ve done. Granted, I’ve told the people in my office who are mostly Linuxheads and aren’t likely to rush out and buy a Mac on my story (with the exception of one guy who will change his recommendation to his daughter and his girlfriend). But perhaps when they’re considering a computer for a relative, or maybe for home, or something like that, just maybe they’ll stop in at the Apple Store and see what the talk is all about.

Apple, after all, isn’t about marketshare, it’s about mindshare, and stories like mine are exactly what it takes to get mindshare.

Charlie did a great job of getting Apple some more mindshare, and in the process, made one customer very, very happy.

He must love his job.

(Full disclosure: We have an insignificant number of shares in APPL, but after this experience, I wonder just how the hell they have appreciated at all. You don’t make money by giving away computers, do you?!)

Good golly, it was dangerous!

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Here’s actual proof that Hillary was in grave danger in Boznia Hertzamywiener when she landed there! Check it out!!

(Tip of the hat to Redstate.)

Article here.

Another take: You have to wonder what he was doing with the gun out in the first place. You know, nothing good ever comes after “Hey, check this out!”

Article here.

Another take: Listen. If Chelsea is campaigning for her mother, then she’s a public figure, and any discussion of “off limits” is absurd.

Article here.

Another take: Waaaait a minute… That headline is about as misleading as it can get. “He” used to be a “she” before he had a mastectomy and started taking testosterone. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Article here.

Another take: Um, duh. Everybody wanted to see if she can do anything these days without totally screwing it up.

Article here.

Another take: “update: (v) make something more modern or up to date,” which is exactly what a Winblows user would be doing by installing Safari 3.1

Article here.

Another take: Don’t worry, Hillary fans! She only “misspoke,” not “lied” like her husband.

Article here.

Another take: It’s a shame “fan fervor” doesn’t pay the bills.

Article here.

Another take: Apple produces virus/malware-proof web browser for Windows market

(And I guess the only popup you’d get is “The application ‘Safari’ has unexpectedly quit….”)

Article here.

Another take: Stupid or gutsy? I can’t decide…

Article here.

Another take: Take heart, Mayor Kilpatrick! You can always run for re-election from jail.

Article here.

Another take: California Department of Corrections finally likely to get upgrade from Pentium II’s

He is risen!

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Another take: He is risen, indeed!

Article here.

Another take: Nah, too easy. This is low-hanging fruit.

Article here.

Another take: New Apple slogan: Apple Computer: Answering the call for websites that say “Made for Internet Exploder 6 or better.”

Article here.

Another take: Sex Offender Screws Up: Gets Caught Before Getting Into Office

(unlike some others we know about…)

Article here.

Another take: As much as I love the headline use of the word “goo,” couldn’t we be a bit more… scientific, perhaps?

Article here.

Another take: I imagine that the brainstorming in the newsroom went something along the lines of, “Hey! Here’s an idea for a great Easter story!”

Article here.

Another take: Birds of a feather are better than two in the bush, or something like that…

Article here.

Another take: Oh, who gives a… Never mind… I guess she did…

Article here.

Another take: Color me Meh

Article here.

Another take: This is why I like owning a widget.

Article here.

Another take: Cue evil cackling from the Clintons’ camp… no way in hell Billary will let that happen.

Article here.

Another take: Don’t worry, though: Chinese government will black out this news, too, sparing the guilty parties of any guilty feelings

China Blacks Out Tibet News

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Article here.

Another take: Well, there’s a surp…

Article here.

Another take: Ironically, audio recordings of the Court’s session can be broadcast only after 10pm.

Article here.

Another take: Sperm donor’s extended family makes news! World responds Meh… Whatever…

Article here.

Another take: Dali Lama Says He’ll Quit If Violence in Tibet Continues; Chinese Government Responds Meh, Whatever

Article here.

Another take: Create your own sensational headline! Just about any word will do; just fill in the blank

“Teens have                   but don’t have the facts”

Article here.

Another take: Sheen also denies that Spitzer hooker was a better actor than he is… and nobody believes any of these claims

Article here.

The subhead reads “Church Officials Say the Rev. Wright’s Message Taken Out of Context”

Another take: When someone says “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.” be careful not to take “God damn America” out of context.

(Believe it or not, that’s the original context, and it was reported in the media as such.)

Article here.

Another take: Cheney Decides not to Announce Visit to Iraq in Favor of Keeping Himself in One Piece

(Duh.)

Article here.

Subhead: Former President Says Most Democrats Like Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Another take: Paging Mr. Obvious. Paging Mr. Obvious.

Article here.

Another take: Best*. Headline. Ever.

* Eliot Spitzer/Ashley Alexandra Kristen Youmans Dupre Whatshername-related, anyway.

Article here.

Another take: Did I miss something? When did “G” start to mean “thousand?”

Article here.

Another take: Queen opens Heathrow’s 5th terminal… but not before a protestor was apprehended on the other side of the ribbon

Article here.

Another take: So that’s what the sound of one hand Molotov… er… cocktailing sounds like…

Article here.

Another take: Educator denies charge, was “only checking to see that kids got their homework done”

Article here.

Another take: I think Obama’s pastor got the tense of his message wrong. It should read “God damned America.”

Article here.

Another take: Awww, isn’t that sweet?

(Reminds me of an old joke:

A guy approaches a really beautiful, very rich-looking woman in a bar and says, “Would you have sex with me for a million dollars?”

The woman thinks it over for a minute and says, “Sure!”

So he says, “Well, how about for five-hundred thousand?”

Think… “OK, sure.”

He says, “How ‘bout for a thousand bucks?”

She gets angry. “A thousand bucks?! What do you think I am, a hooker?”

He replies, “We established that first… I’m just haggling over price now.”

Call girl… hooker… whatever…)

Article here.

Another take: Jackson saves Neverland, plans celebration, invitations go out to “all the boys in the neighborhood”

Article here.

Another take: Failboat.

Article here.

Another take: Woman’s legs fell asleep after first hour; didn’t realize she had legs and could get up

Yet another take: Ladies, don’t give your men too much crap for being couch potatoes; it could be worse.

Article here.

Another take: Whew! Glad they cleared that one up for me. I thought he was just going to plead guilty and go directly to jail.

(You know, without passing Go or collecting $200,000 for his memoirs.)

Article here.

Another take: BostonHerald.com editors attended same DC school as FoxNews.com editors

(It’s since been fixed. Here’s the original headline as it appeared on Google News:

Picture 2.png

Maybe it was just a typo after all.)

Article here.

Another take: FoxNews.com editors apparently went to D.C. schools, skated through science and math, mistake “G” for “K”

Article here.

Another take: Home is where again?

(I thought it was New York, or maybe Arkansas or Illinois, but maybe I’m mistaken. Seriously… when will she make up her mind?)

Article here.

Another take: Over a week after the Dungeons & Dragons creator’s death, he’s still in the news… online… which says something about the online news community, doesn’t it?

Article here.

Another take: Introducing Topps Lieutenant Governor Trading Cards! Be the first on your block to collect all 42 and learn trivia about a bunch of people the rest of the nation doesn’t care about (yet)!

Article here.

Another take: For cokeheads who eat with their noses, there’s now candy-flavored cocaine!

Yet another take: Introducing cocaine for discerning mules

Article here.

Another take: Wolf!!

Something... disturbing...

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I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something very disturbing about the picture associated with this article.

Picture 1.png

Article here.

Another take: Brings new meaning to “well” water, doesn’t it?

Article here.

Another take: Microsoft Chief “Satan” Ballmer reported to be “delighted” with newly-acquired soul

Article here.

Another take: Haven’t figured out exactly how this works… Do the women give you I/O?

Article here.

Another take: Pot calls kettle “black”

(This is the lowest hanging fruit I could find on Google News. So much to say, so few words to do it in.)

Article here.

Another take: I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again—he’s not dead yet!

(Good grief!)

Article here.

Another take: Obama Adviser has a Brass Pair of Ovaries, Calls a Spade a Spade

Article here.

Another take: Reminds me of something from Life of Brian, except Reg and the revolutionaries actually managed to pass a resolution or two.

Article here.

Another take: Good Lord! The man’s not dead yet! What’s with all the eulogies?!

Article here.

Another take: I’d do it for half… no, wait, forget it… you couldn’t pay me enough to baby-sit her.

William on "Dirty Jobs"

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As our host, Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, described the San Francisco sewage treatment plant, he said, “The sludge is then sent downstream to a digester.”

W.’s comment? “But it’s already digested…”

Perhaps they should have called it a “redigester,” then.

Article here.

Another take: Great idea! “Let’s introduce the image of a kitchen into the woman’s campaign!” What’s next? Barefoot? Pregnant?

Article here.

Another take: This is news… why?

Article here.

Another take: Um, this is the kids’ bedroom we’re talking about here… Is there anybody awake at the New York Times?

Article here.

Another take: Now that we’ve screwed Boeing out of the tanker contract saved millions on the tanker project, let's get some real work done.

W. on Measurements

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Last night we watched How It’s Made and the narrator described a punch press which “applies the weight of four elephants to the die to cut up to four layers of fabric.”

W. mused for a bit and then said, “I wonder if ‘four elephants’ is metric or US Customary…”

I, too, wonder. But not about the elephants.

Article here.

Another take: It’s a shame she still hasn’t had any real time behind the wheel.

Picture here.

Another take: The picture attached to this article makes me wonder what Texans and Ohioans were thinking yesterday…

Article here.

Another take: And in other news, temperatures in hell declared to be “a bit lower,” says Satan

Article here.

Another take: What editor approved this headline? In what bizarro word association exercise did “D-Day” come up when thinking of the Democratic primaries?

(I can imagine the discussion in the newsroom:

“OK, guys, let’s find a headline for the primaries today.”

“I got it! ‘Clinton and Obama raid Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island and risk their lives for their fellow Democrats.’”

“Nah, too long.”

“OK, how about just referring to D-Day?”

“Sure. That’ll do it. We’ll just make sure people realize we’re using the generic term ‘D-Day’—you know, short for ‘Day-Day’—so as not to confuse today with that military event of, like, forty years ago.”)

Article here.

Another take: Next step for study’s authors: showing that exercise promotes weight loss.

(But you, fatso, reading this article online instead of walking to your mailbox to get your copy of the paper… you’re another story!)

Article here.

Another take: E! News! Reporting news from three decades ago as if it just happened yesterday just so they can say, “Made you look!”

Article here.

Another take: An inconvenient truth: It’s the third snowiest season in Maine… ever.

Article here.

Another take: Oh noes!

(Full disclosure: I work for a UTC company…)

Article here.

Another take: Angie Harmon endorses McCain with style. Crazy Nicholson endorses Hillary. Hmmm… So not voting for Hillary

Article here.

Another take: Iran shaking in its boots as UN promises to stare even harder

Article here

Another take: Visitor accused of taunting rhino, wanted to see rhino leap over fence

Northrop/EADS Upsets Boeing

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Article here.

Another take: Boeing for the whine!

Article here.

Another take: Kenyans Love Their Hondas!