Friday, December 21, 2012

E) Kiss My Ass

I used to like being surveyed. I figured almost anyone could benefit from my advice. Now I'm older and I figure other people care about my thoughts and opinions about as much as I do theirs (i.e. none).

One of the big business fads going around now is the idea of surveying customers to get actual feedback on satisfaction. Business fads are like almost any idea-set that crosses into the mainstream; a few facts are correct but the concepts behind them are usually lost. So many firms will poll their customers to gather data which will be

a) presented in such a way to produce a predetermined outcome
b) misinterpreted to produce a predetermined outcome
c) ignored
d) any of the above, depending on which level of management prepares the report

Lately I've been seeing these surveys pop up more and more on websites I visit. It started out at check-out with an invitation to take a follow-up survey. Now I see them showing up as soon as I hit the web page before I've done anything.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were unobtrusive, but many are now using the same annoying tactics as the advertising I hate the most: pop-ups, pop-unders, or the worst: the animated thing that rolls across the middle of what I'm trying to read.

Worst of all: some aren't even satisfaction surveys. I clicked on one I believe to be a thinly-disguised advertisement from my current favorite company, Microsoft.

For awhile I just ignored them, but now I'm actively embracing them. I'll click on any survey offered figuring it's my turn to pee in their Wheaties for a change. And I invite everyone else to do the same.

When I am offered an annoying survey to take, I now:

A) choose answers at random, as long as they aren't accurate

B) coordinate a set of answers that are consistant but completely inaccurate (for the Microsoft survey--yes, I'm the CIO of a firm that's excited about their latest product!!!)

C) choose a set of answers to explain how deeply dissatisfied I am with the product or service

One way to approach this, if it's an in-depth survey, is to create a persona for yourself and look at it as an acting job. Back when some on-line sites used to demand demographic information before they'd let you in, I was an elderly woman from Andorra (that's a tiny country between France and Spain). An alternative is simply to be your favorite celebrity. I use one for sites that want to know my birthday, location, and so forth.

What do you think of this plan?

A) don't care
B) disinterested
C) apathetic

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Am Done with Microsoft

I say this as I type this on a Win 7 computer using IE 9 (don't ask why I'm using IE 9; it's a tiresome story and there's no payoff).

I don't mean that I'm throwing it all out right now. But I won't be replacing things with MS products (*knock wood*). In some cases I have alternatives in mind. For others I'll just have to wait and see.

I'm not one of those people who always hated MS. I didn't hate it when it was fashionable. Americans almost always hate Goliath and root for the underdog, and there's always a Goliath and always some scrappy youth trying to take him on. Before MS it was IBM, and before IBM it was Bell Telephone, and before that it was General Motors and before that it was RCA (yes, people forget RCA used to be big and scary) and so on. At the turn of the century it was The Railroads. And on and on.

My beef with MS now is that I feel like they're definitely on the downhill slide; that all their products peaked about a decade ago. I was never a huge fan of Windows but for a long time I felt like it trended better; then it peaked with Windows XP. I started with Excel 95, felt that it peaked at 2000, and hit a major skid with the 2007 downgrade. It's as if they never got over the fact that MS Works was a piece of shit, so they put the Works people in charge of Office and Works'd it.

You win. I quit.

The straw, and that's what this literally is, the final straw was a wireless keyboard. Bought it because I'd liked some MS keyboards in the past and I don't like Logitech. But the MS keyboard lacks a capslock LED. Sound niggling? It is until you're typing in case-sensitive passwords and can't figure out why they're not being accepted, until you finally think that maybe you hit the Caps lock by mistake and your cases are backward. But you can't just glance to see if the caps-lock light is on; it's an MS keyboard, you have to click on another field or open another window to type something and determine whether caps lock is on or off.

I'm fed up.

But I'm not really angry (except for ruining Excel; I still have to use that at work), I'm really looking at this as a key to freedom. It's like expatriating yourself; yes, you lose the familiarity of your home country, but there are a lot of other countries to choose from. Some are unpalatable (I never liked Apple), some are scary (Linux), some are mostly unknown (Android). But they're out there. They're different, and they have their ups and downs. Just like MS. Except hopefully I'll like their Ups more and dislike their Downs less.

A couple years ago, I couldn't imagine myself thinking this way.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas Lists

Favorite Christmas Songs
  • 2000 Miles - the Pretenders
  • Calling On Mary - Aimee Mann
  • Carol of the Bells - anybody
  • Christmastime is Here - Richard Cheese
  • Greensleeves - anybody
  • O Come Emmanuel - Sixpence None the Richer
  • Old Toy Trains - Roger Miller
  • This Christmas - Jill Scott
Stuff I Miss from Being a Kid
  • Advent Calendars
  • Lying on my back under the tree, and looking up at the lights
  • Christmas lights
  • Homemade christmas candy
Stuff I Absolutely DO NOT Miss from Being a Kid
  • Going to relatives' Xmas parties
  • Decorating and undecorating the tree
  • Going on drives to see the Christmas lights
  • Egg nog
Favorites Movies that Involve Christmas Somehow
  • A Christmas Story
  • Die Hard
  • It's a Wonderful Life (if I let several years pass between viewings)
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Worst Movies that Involve Christmas Somehow
  • Anything with Tim Allen
Favorite Scrooge from A Christmas Carol
  • George C. Scott
Best Christmas TV Special
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
Worst Christmas TV Specials
  • Kathy Lee Gifford's
  • The King Family (a staple of the 1970s)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Season

I should do this. I keep being disappointed by finding blogs that I start to read, enjoy, and then find out sooner or later that they haven't been updated in months or years.

I got derailed by a serious post that I tried several times to write and just couldn't make work. I don't mean serious as in some big personal thing, I just meant serious as in Thought.

So frivolity is the rule for the day. Which fits the time of year.

For me Christmas starts on Pearl Harbor Day (December 7th). I picked that as a date because a) I can remember it, and b) it gives me a good 2-1/2 weeks (three if you go through New Year's) of Christmastime, which seems like plenty to me. I like Christmas, but it's like maple syrup; there's enough and there's too much.

So that's when the decorations come out, if I feel like doing anything, and when I load the music on the MP3 player, and so forth. It's when I get ready to send out Christmas cards, if it's a year that I'll be doing it. Some years when I feel poor I just send emails. This year I think I still have a lot left over from last year so I'll just be sending those, if I can find them.

In my obituary, my life will be boiled down to the catch-phrase, "it's around here somewhere."

The other day I took an online poll, since I'm with a service that pays me a pittance every time I take one (enough that I can get an Amazon gift card about once a year). It asked me about my attitudes about Christmas. Mostly I'm pleased with it. I do growl when I see Xmas stuff up before Thanksgiving. The Xmas-season-starts-the-day-after-Thanksgiving concept goes back to my childhood; I don't agree with it but I'll compromise over it (I think it should start on Pearl Harbor Day, or the day after). But before Thanksgiving is unconscienable.

I said my pet peeve was listening to people bitch about it, particularly the ones who lament the loss of the True Meaning of Christmas. Most of people I know who do that are the most material; it's a "you made me hit you" mentality. Eat me; if you don't like it, don't do it. Do you resent giving too many gifts? Stop giving gifts, at least to the people who shouldn't get gifts.

I've got a no-gift-exchange treaty going with most of my friends so it works out nicely. A couple people think I'm Scrooge, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.