Thursday Bits, Stay Tuned

I feel like most of my day so far has been spent switching between one context and the next. Somehow the iBook has come back to life. If you’re wondering why this is a bad thing, I’m about 100.1% confident that this hard drive is on its way out and I’d much rather it go in the next 6 days while the thing is still under warranty. I did make an image of the entire drive in preparation.

I’m making significant progress on my daily activities. I think that while it might be temporarily adding a near-unhealthy urgency to everything I’m doing, in the end it’s only going to make my goals more achievable.

Since I’m limited on time, I just want to make sure that anyone reading from the Columbia area is going to want to check in with space-age wasteland tomorrow morning for a big announcement.

Bryan and Murphy

Just as if I needed further convincing that I’m in the wrong place, the yesterday’s work day was beyond terror. The sick feeling I get when walking in the building was met by a few brilliantly-placed and crafted processes (read: “who came up with this idea?”), personality conflict and overall frustration.

Then Murphy bears his wicked countenance. The (50-week-old) iBook’s hard drive has crashed. Like has happened so many times to me, it seems that the platters are bound or there has been a head crash.

“Ok, don’t panic. Bryan when’s the last time you backed up? Crap. Ok, what did we lose? Crap. The pictures, Quicken, music, my music, the custom scripts.”

Damage control proved more fruitful on yesterday’s iBook crash than it has in the past. After spending an hour in the refrigerator, the hard drive decided to spin up again long enough for me to pull a few really crucial files off.

After sitting cool again overnight, I was able to pull about 15 GB of additional data onto my external drive. I hope and pray that after sitting again all day, I’ll be able to pull the last 10 or so days of pictures from it (those are the ones I missed with my last iPhoto-to-DVD backup). After that, I’m going to drop it off to our local Apple Certified Repair place (of course we have no Apple Store). After that, I presume I’ll be without the iBook for about 3 weeks. Sigh.

Jabra Bluetooth Headset

OK, I feel bad giving this thing any criticism since I haven’t actually used it, but I would like to know how you’re supposed to read the display with the set jammed in your ear.

headset

Am I expected to take it in and out? How about a voice that reads the phone book entry name or phone number instead to help with my decision to take the call? Ooh, or maybe a HUD that emblazens a picture of the caller on my retina! Thoughts?

Wachovia’s Brilliant Customer Disservice

I’ve a new Evil Empire for the list: Wachovia. I know that they’ve always been evil, but I wasn’t a customer of theirs until a few weeks ago when they finally completed their acquisition of Southtrust Bank.

The first shameful act of Wachovia is that they purchased and squished one of the best financial institutions I’ve ever done business with. Southtrust employees were courteous, their service was excellent, their product offering was wonderful, and my experience with them was just wonderful as a whole.

The second shameful act of Wachovia requires a bit of backstory…

To prevent little cash flow hiccups, my wife and I set up a line of credit on our Southtrust checking account and paid a small enrollment fee to eliminate a per-transfer charge for automatic transfers from our line of credit. This service was wonderful because we have a number of auto-draft bills that get paid all at once during the month rather than being evenly split between paychecks. Sometimes we’d drop to the red the day before payday and this would prevent NSFs (for free) and we’d pay the debt back in a day or two.

Wachovia doesn’t care. It has been my understanding that when you buy a business, you buy their liabilities as well. Southtrust offered this service to us on a per-year basis. We’ve paid for our year, which doesn’t end for several more months. Wachovia doesn’t care. I talked to a “Wachovia Representative” on the phone who was able to give my $5 back and then reiterate (in her own words) the aforementioned mantra of this fine bank (read: Evil Empire): “Wachovia doesn’t care.”

In the end, what they do is what they do. The minute I heard that my wonderfully customer service oriented bank was being bought by this giant, I started my search for a new financial institution for my day-to-day banking. This transition is nearly complete, so I need not worry about my $5 a pop transfer fee again.

So, to Wachovia: You had your chance and you blew it. Now, Bryan doesn’t care.

An Antithetical Matter

It has been brought to my attention by friends, people I’ve never even met and by the little voice in the back of my head that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. While this is true, there is good reason.

I set out here to offer, support, and field good ideas on productivity and on making life better for like-minded people. Productivity is a high aim.

I could probably find a reason to post every day.

Since my posts on GTD with Gmail, my readership has gone way up, and it seems I’ve stumbled across even more clever ways to implement GTD. I’ve seen several people bouncing all over the place on their implementation schemes. I won’t spell out the irony. Merlin and others noticed it and posted on it before I did. Expounding would be unnecessary.

My goal here isn’t to provide people with something to read so that they can avoid work. The goal here is to provide and collect ideas so that we can get our work done and move on to more important things.

So, worry not, I’m still here. From time to time I’ll be selfish and ask you for feedback or a solution. Today, now that I’ve thoroughly wasted 5 or 6 minutes of our time with this exercise in hypocrisy, I’ll ask that you go do something that’s been hanging out on your action list or project list with no progress for way too long.

Evil Empires

I’m feeling especially angst-driven today. As a result, I’d like to offer up my short-list of evil empires of the world.

  1. Wal-mart: Steal from the poor and then offer up sub-standard employment to the poor to keep up the vicious cycle of work to buy (and then buy again because the junk you bought breaks).
  2. Microsoft: If we consider that Windows has corrupted the minds of roughly 90% of the computer using population into thinking that their way is best, no further commentary is required.
  3. Auto/Health Insurance Companies: Insert your favorite one here. Ask yourself “why would an insurance company be in business?” Some of my favorites (who have screwed me over in the past) are Blue Cross/Blue Shield and State Farm.
  4. Auto Manufacturers/Oil Companies: So ‘in bed’ with each other that the technology required to move us into a cleaner tomorrow is at a near stand-still.
  5. These are just a few. I’m sure I’ve made some people mad but I’m just in a bad mood today.

Eloquence

I realize I’ve skipped a few days. In short, understand that the world has changed and that I needed some time to reflect.

Now: the main topic, eloquence in writing.

To me, the ability to communicate effectively in writing is extremely underrated. There’s nothing worse than a highly educated or seemingly successful professional who has a dire inability to write in English. Is the Internet to blame for this loss of eloquence? This is a weak excuse, but I’m certain that it hasn’t helped.

My solution: keep the art alive and be vocal about it. When you see someone using quotes improperly, please tell them. When you see someone using “i.e.” improperly (it stands for id est, which translates to “that is,” and requires the trailing comma), please tell them. You know the rules but everyone around you doesn’t. How to be tactful is up to you but without the communication of these principles and ideals the modern mind of society as a whole will continue to dwindle to nothing.

Please comment with examples of wonderfully terrible sentences produced by people who should know better. We’ll have fun tearing them apart together.