Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Sirius TTR1 Sucks

All I wanted was to wake up to Howard Stern again. Alas, it was not to be. Sirius sucks. This TTR1 radio sucks. The combination is a whole new level of suck. This will be a rant in two parts.

Part 1: The hardware sucks

The TTR1 is apparently made by Audiovox, although this is not made apparent by the Sirius people. Probably because Audiovox is not exactly the first name in quality electronics.

You cannot operate this thing with one hand. It is not heavy enough to stay in place while you push the buttons on the front of it, so it slowly inches away from you as you attempt to use it, unless you hold it in place.

But really, my biggest complaint is that the power button does not work. Normally I might assume this was just a defective unit, and perhaps it is, but allow me to further explain. The power button actually does work with something like a 1% success rate. About 1 out of every 100 presses will actually affect the machine. These successes are not uniformly distributed. Indeed, the button may work with very good success for a time, and then become utterly useless for an even longer time. This is rather irritating.

Part 2: The service sucks

I took the reliability of terrestrial radio entirely for granted. It’s always there, even if the content is utter crap. Not so with Sirius, especially this internet-radio flavor.

Often, instead of being awoken by Howard as expected, I am awakened by the buzzer alarm. This is the failsafe, the fallback, when the TTR1 cannot successfully acquire the Sirius radio stream. What? There’s a backup plan?

(If I take a deep breath and really think about it, I am sort of amazed that the Audiovox people had to foresight to include this feature. It would have been more consistent with their craptastic design just to allow me to oversleep indefinintely. But I digress…)

The problem with Internet radio is reliability. Mark my words, if you could see Sirius’s traffic stats over time, they would have these giant network spikes every hour on the hour in the morning. They apparently do not have enough network resources to service that peak demand.

It is times like this when I really wish Apple could just make every-damn-thing.

Meetings != Work

See that “empty” space on your Outlook calendar? You know, the stuff between the meetings?

Yea, that’s where the work happens.

Exercise for the reader: what does this mean for people with no empty space?

Immoral Engineering

My parents have an HP PSC 750xi, which is your typical run-of-the-mill multifunction ink jet printer. It’s a scanner/copier/fax too.

The printer is out of color ink, and it appears to have been intentionally designed to be useless in this scenario. You cannot even use the scan function without a color ink cartridge.

This is just shameless. I’m not sure I could be a member of such a product team. I mean seriously — if I was asked to build such an obviously anti-consumer feature I would quit.

If you’re out there and you worked on this product please, for the good of society, kill yourself now. May I suggest choking on an empty ink cartridge?

Post-Debate Trainwreck

After last night’s presidential debate, MSNBC spoke with undecided Virgina voters in an effort to prove to the rest of the world that, indeed, Americans are complete idiots. The MSNBC panel delivered — big time.

Watch the video here

Host Ann Curry begins by reporting on Obama’s “10 percent” lead, then corrects herself to say “10 points,” despite the fact that these are identical. Unless — and this is a real possibility — she is actually referring to the score of the recent McCain/Obama 1-on-1, no-blood-no-foul, street rules b-ball game (currently in rain-delay.)

Next, she gets the ball rolling by asking the panel for “a show of hams.” Yum.

Panelist Jimmy takes a second or two before deciding, apparently on the spot, that McCain had appeared stronger on economic issues. He then becomes visibly uncomfortable upon realizing that he will be asked to defend this position. Gulp. Ultimately he explains that, in his view, McCain is “lookin’ downna road.” Eloquently put.

After Brian deftly defends the Obama “longer plan-picture”, Renise ruins everything by making perhaps the only reasonable comment of the night: that nobody even knows what the hell is going on with the economy, let alone how to fix it.

Lisa is introduced and described as being undecided because both candidates are just so great! Nobody listens to a thing she says, because we’re all too busy being amazed that anyone has this problem.

Next we have a couple shows of hands which, scientifically-extrapolated, prove that while 50% of Virginians know a racist, a full 100% know someone who thinks Palin is a moron. I’m going to be honest with you, Virgina: this makes me very sad/happy and I am disgusted/overjoyed to hear it.

Panelist Joan now joins the fray and, in a heroic effort to use as many words as possible, speaks of “The general public at large…” Wait, I’m confused. We’re talking about a subset of people here, right? Yes, that was sarcasm. The word you’re looking for is “everyone”. I just saved you 6 syllables.

Eventually we come back to Renise who, after disappointing early, now regales us with tales of Obama’s “temperament”, “discipline” and crowd-favorite “even kiln.” (I can second that one. You should see that dude’s pottery — it is freakin’ amazing.) Nice save, Renise. You are tonight’s big winner. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

Last place goes to Michael, who by virtue of the fact that he is never called upon and, in fact, doesn’t utter a single word, is unfortunately able to maintain an illusion of competence. Better luck next time.

Google Reader Chokes on Google Groups RSS

I’m a member of a Google Group. I’d like to get group updates as RSS, not in my email, because email sucks. Google Groups helpfully provides XML feeds in both RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 formats.

Google Reader refuses to eat either of these.

An error has occurred because the feed being requested cannot be found.

Am I the only one with this problem? Impossible.

  1. Can we please introduce someone on the Groups team to someone on the Reader team?
  2. When Reader chokes on a feed URL, can I get a big red button that says “REPORT THIS”?

PS: Perhaps this problem has to do with Reader’s lack of support for authenticated RSS feeds. In that case a better error message is needed.

Next Time, Use a Chess Clock for the Debates

I thought it was pretty obvious, last night, when the VP candidates were stretching their sentences in order to fill all the allotted time. Many answers started strong, but ended in an incoherent train wreck of talking points.

This is silly. Human brains immediately detect this crap and deactivate.

We should have a debate system that encourages the participants to make direct and succinct points when appropriate. Seems to me that a Chess clock would do the trick nicely.

Windows Wireless Zero Configuration Sucks

God I hate WZC on WinXP. Why does it make me type my WPA key twice? Why doesn’t it provide a way to turn on the damn echo, so I can see what I am typing. Yes I know it’s a password but after I type it for the 10th god damned time I don’t care anymore.

Oh, and for the love of god, why do you show 8 “circles” in the pre-filled password dialog regardless of how long my pass-phrase actually is? This does not inspire confidence.

Objects in dialog may be larger than they appear.

Apple’s Wifi config is seriously better. (Not that it needs to be… Their supplicant actually works.)