Got a new debit card for a new checking account. Sticker on card says "must be activated at an ATM before use." Went to ATM at bank, inserted card, entered temporary PIN (securely mailed in a separate envelope). ATM menu came up, one option was "Change PIN." Entered new PIN. ATM said "Card is being retained" and ended my session.
There's an interesting and sad article in today's Palladium-Item, Main Street struggles for survival. Articles like it are being written about struggling downtown areas across the country, so of course it's nothing new in "this economy," but because it's about the downtown in my community, I take special notice.
The article contains some interviews with downtown business owners, some perspective on the history of the Main Street organization there, and some talk of renewed activity from merchants and business owners (myself among them) in helping make the area thrive. But there's something missing from the picture the article paints.
One of my most favorite magazines to read, and only one of two I subscribe to, is Wired. They somehow manage to stay on the cutting edge of the tools, technologies and culture I am connected to as a technology consultant and web developer, and it's a publication that pays meticulous attention to creating outstanding production value - the reading experience is like nothing else. With only a few exceptions, there's rarely an issue of Wired that doesn't bring me some new insight into the human condition, excite me with adventures in hacking the world around us, or educate me about how things work.
That's why it's difficult for me to even pose this question, but I must: should I unsubscribe from Wired? Here's why I might: despite being a magazine that has chronicled the leveling of many playing fields, technological, social, and intellectual alike, they can't seem to stop objectifying women to sell magazines.
I offer this account of trying to address a known (and I would say, severe) bug in the iPhone 4 mail software, in case it's helpful to others:
Ever since I upgraded my iPhone to IOS4 (the latest version of the phone's operating system), the Mail application has been flaky when it comes to syncing mail messages via IMAP. Duplicate messages, empty/blank messages, messages dated 12/31/1969, messages that are deleted and then re-appear, and so on.
At first I thought it might be my phone hardware, which had been cursed from the beginning (a story for another time), but after that phone died and Apple replaced it with a brand new one with fresh firmware and settings, and it STILL happened, I was convinced it's the software on the phone. Other people are having the same issue allovertheplace. But it can be hard to make Apple believe this - said the Apple Genius Bar worker at the Apple Store in Chicago, "they're probably all just using the phone wrong." Wha?
A number of mainstream magazines and newspapers have recently published reports on the increasing threat of "cyberwarfare," the significant resources being devoted to fighting that "war" and what we're doing to protect the critical national asset that is our digital infrastructure.
Unfortunately, most of the responses (and the ones favored by the Obama administration) are focused on paying insanely large amounts of money to private contractors to create and deploy complex technological solutions in hopes of addressing the threat.
What advocates of this approach fail to appreciate is that (A) most of the actual threat comes from uneducated human operators of the technology in question, and (B) deploying homogeneous, technologically complex solutions often makes us more vulnerable, not less.
A few short stories of recent FAIL and WIN experiences in customer service:
Trying to stop getting unsolicited postal mail from Comcast
I'm not a Comcast customer, haven't been for a long time, and never at my current address. I get postcards, letters and brochures from them on a regular basis - sometimes several times a week. It's annoying and wasteful. I searched the Comcast website and the Internet at large for a while for a web-based form to get on a "do not send me mail" list, and couldn't find one. I called their 800 number and hung up after too many minutes on hold. I finally sent in a generic inquiry through their online form, providing the addresses I wanted removed.
As an employer, my company Summersault is required to withhold and then turn in federal taxes from our employee paychecks. In the past we've turned in those withheld funds by printing out a check, walking it a block down the street to the bank, and getting a receipt.
I recently took the IRS's advice and inquired into enrolling in "EFTPS" - Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. (It's too bad they didn't call it something really cool like "Maximum Velocity Pay" or "Blue Tiger," but I guess EFTPS is at least accurate.) The idea behind EFTPS is that it will save you time and simplify payment and filing of federal taxes. So far, here's what the process has involved: Continue reading "Super ultra mega-secure EFTPS enrollment"→
For over a year now, I've been living well without cable or broadcast television in my life. I thought I would share some thoughts on how that transition has gone, and some pointers to tools and technologies you might be interested in if you're on a similar path.
(Disclaimer: I'm not here to tell you how to live, but my general sense is that the world would be a better place if people didn't spend their time watching television. Period. That said, and the reality of TV watching as a cultural norm firmly in place for now, I continue with my narrative.)
The end of channel surfing
The first stage in my transition away from "watching TV" was to get free of the notion that my schedule should ever revolve around the schedule of TV broadcasters.
A few petitions and e-mail campaigns have been circulating that demand financial institutions waive their processing fees for the handling of donations to help relief efforts in Haiti, following the earthquake there last week. Some of the requests that I've gotten have expressed irritation that fees are charged at all on charitable giving transactions of any sort.
While I commend the efforts of those who are seeking to maximize the funds that have a direct impact on the actual aid work, I'm not sure that this particular request makes sense to me.
First, a little background on how processing fees work:
I've been consuming a lot of information, and I'm here to tell you, briefly, what I've learned:
Book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz: a great little book, a quick read full of wisdom that seems like it should just be common sense. To find happiness, be impeccable with your word, don't take anything personally, don't make assumptions, and always do your best.
Book, Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor: moving reflections on a life devoted to ministry and service, and the unexpected twists and turns in how that was manifested. As someone who has vacillated widely in my relationship with organized religion over time, much of it rang true for me.