Microsoft, stop resetting my program defaults in Windows 10.

reset

Dear Microsoft,

  • I don’t give a rat’s south-40 whether or not an app caused a problem. Handle it with an error message, if you must. Or a recommendation.
  • I’ve been to “program defaults” and I have specified what program I want to handle given file types.
  • You have NO RIGHT to change those back just because you want me to use your own (often substandard) applications.
  • Stop doing this. I configure my computer to my own needs, not yours. This is beyond ignorant, beyond arrogant, beyond anything reasonable or normal. It is stupid and maddening. Just STOP IT.

cactus

No love,

The Old Wolf

Next phase of the United Saga

First, Oscar Munoz “apologized” for re-accomodating” a paying passenger – by beating the snot out of him and dragging him off the plane.

Then, this fine specimen of corporate leadership doubles down by blaming the passenger.

Finally, United offers a real apology and promises changes.

With regards to United’s “apology” for the event,

“The sentiment certainly rings a bit hollow when it follows two previous failures and 36 hours of intense public pressure…The back-against-the-wall, through-gritted-teeth apology isn’t generally a winning strategy.” (Jeremy Robinson-Leon)

Have a look at these articles from the New York Times about the matter:

The Internet, of course, has come up with its own response:

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Keep up the pressure on United until things improve, not only with this airline but throughout the industry.

The security officers involved in this debacle are not squeaky-clean either – three of them have been suspended pending reviews.

Lastly, the social media flap and internal policy reviews are not the only consequences – the affected passenger has retained a high-powered attorney and begun steps to file a lawsuit. As much as I execrate frivolous legal action, I hope whatever happens is a serious financial incentive for United to be careful how it treats paying customers in the future.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, doubles down.

My previous entry dealt with an event in Chicago where a paid passenger was roughed-up and dragged off a flight by Chicago Aviation Security “officers” – notice those scare quotes, they are there for a reason – for refusing to give up his paid seat.

  • In an email to employees, United CEO Oscar Munoz addressed an incident in which an overbooked passenger had to be forcibly removed from a United plane.
  • Passenger described as “disruptive and belligerent.”
  • Munoz: “I emphatically stand behind all of you.”

United’s policies are crack-headed to begin with.

  1. Overbooking is a legal but disrespectful and passenger-unfriendly practice
  2. Throwing passengers off a flight to accommodate deadheading employees (regardless of whether or not they are needed for another flight) is morally reprobate.

Here’s a screen cap from the internal memo Munoz sent to United’s staff:

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And here’s pretty much the reality – the video of the event is damning:

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The customer defied Chicago Transportation Security because he had a right to be on the plane, in a seat which he had paid for. As a physician with patients to see, it’s not surprising that he was upset. When people are upset they don’t always act in the most rational manner, behave like sheep, put their heads down and blindly comply with corporate douchebaggery.

“Mr.” Munoz, dragging a paying customer off an airplane is not “re-acccomodating” him, you insufferable asshat.

If Oscar Munoz thinks that “established procedures” for dealing with unhappy customers should include calling for armed men to brutalize, assault, and humiliate a passenger, that’s a good reason for the flying public to shun United like the Ebola virus.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

United breaks guitars, and beats up paying customers.

We live in a tumultuous world, with a lot going on around us. There’s a lot that we can’t do much about. But I’ve always felt that corporate douchebaggery and abuse of power need to be called out whenever it happens.

According to a video posted at Facebook, and reported on at the Courier Journal, the following events just took place.

thugs

  1. United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. (That practice in itself is worthy of a lot of discussion, but it’s standard operating procedure in the airlines and hotel world.)
  2. Passengers were told at the gate that the flight was overbooked and United, offering $400 and a hotel stay, was looking for one volunteer to take another flight to Louisville at 3 p.m. Monday.
  3. Passengers were allowed to board the flight. (Notice: you’ve paid for your ticket, and you have your butt in a seat.)
  4. Passengers were told that four people needed to give up their seats to stand-by United employees that needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. (United feels that deadheading employees are more important than paid passengers.)
  5. Passengers were told that the flight would not take off until the United crew had seats.
  6. The offer was increased to $800, but no one volunteered.
  7. A manager came aboard the plane and said a computer would select four people to be taken off the flight. (“The Reaping.”)
  8. One couple volunteered as tribute and left the plane.
  9. The man in the video was confronted. He became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning.
  10. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, and the man said he was calling his lawyer.
  11. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane.

So here’s an elderly Asian doctor who needs to see his patients in the morning, who has a confirmed, paid ticket on a United Airlines flight, and because UA overbooked and wants their employees to have free seats, three armed thugs come on board and knock the old man out before dragging him, bloodied, off the plane, because he wouldn’t surrender his rights.

Great work, United. This beats breaking guitars six ways from breakfast.

This is what should have happened:

  1. United doesn’t overbook their flights (Not likely, it’s common travel practice.)
  2. United continues to bump the incentive – $1,000, $1,200, and free hotel, etc. etc. – until enough people take the offer. It would have happened quite soon, problem solved.

Here’s what I’m hoping happens:

  1. The physician in question does indeed get hold of a high-powered legal firm and sues the company for enough money to buy the entire European Union, plus Canada.
  2. United’s stock ends up in the Mariana Trench because nobody ever flies with them again.
  3. The three armed thugs (security personnel, cops, whatever) are fired and end up spending the rest of their days sweeping up after horses in Texas rodeos.

Here’s what’s likely to happen:

  1. Some sort of settlement, and the affair quietly fades away.
  2. United continues to abuse passengers because, after all, most of us are very comfortable and there will be a Starbucks to go to at our destination. (Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people continue to protest in Serbia and Ecuador and around the world because they are tired of government corruption.)
  3. “Proper procedure was followed.”

Disclaimer: I wasn’t there. I didn’t see the event. There are always more facts to any story than are being reported. But regardless, this looks really bad at first blush. If United’s corporate leadership were any sort of humans, they’d be filling their britches and entering DEFCON-5 damage control mode, but I sincerely doubt they’ll lose a minutes sleep over the event.

Don’t fly United. This is really sad in a lot of ways, because for the longest time United was the best of the best in airlines in the USA, and I have a long history of flying with them since the 50s.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

An honest email from HR

This I had to share. But I also had to bowdlerize it a bit, because reasons. If you really don’t care about salty language and think it improves things, stroll on over and read the original. I hope the writer doesn’t sue the hqiz out of me for sharing this in a mildly redacted form.


An honest email from a company’s HR rep to the employees.

Filed by Meg Favreau | Jul 07, 2015 @ 1:30pm

Hello, Kopencky Company Family! HR here. Look, I could care less about what you guys do in your personal lives, but I get paid to be your work mommy because, for some reason, a group of adults can’t manage to do things like not steal each other’s lunches or touch each other’s butts for the eight bleeding hours a day that they’re in an office. You people are exhausting, and since you apparently need constant reminders in order to be decent human beings, here are some ruddy reminders.

Company fun run

Our insurance premiums are going to go WAY up if Don has another heart attack, and we can’t tell him to his face to stop eating Cheetos (although whoever left him that anonymous note that I publicly denounced, please know that I privately agreed with you. STRONGLY). To that end, we’re forcing everyone to exercise with this company-mandated “fun” run that almost all of you will find demeaning, embarrassing, and really just awful to participate in. Except Jill. WE ALL KNOW YOU RAN A MARATHON, JILL. SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

Bring your child to work day

It’s next Tuesday. You are all welcome to bring your little chemical mistakes, except for Stephen. I know you and your pale wife are doing that “no negative reinforcement” thing, but last year, all you said was “Great stream, buddy!” when your kid peed on my aloe plant. Never again.

Vacation days

Reminder 1: All employees who started before July 1, 2015 get four weeks worth of vacation a year; if you started after, you get two weeks of vacation a year. Reminder 2: It was our jack-hole boss Mr. Kopencky who decided to cut vacation time in order to save money, not me, so taking it out on me will only make me hate you more. Reminder 3: This also means that you shouldn’t yell at me for: not getting a raise, no more free soda in the kitchen, the removal of vision and dental from the healthcare plan, and the fact that Mr. Kopencky will only let me buy a dozen doughnuts for “free doughnut Fridays,” so that 41 employees have to rush to be the first to get 12 doughnuts. (Yes, I know there are 42 employees here. Allow me to point you to Jill’s insufferable “Gluten Free IBS Runner” blog so you can also understand that she doesn’t eat doughnuts because of “the trots.”)

Glossary

Some people have told me that the HR buzzwords can be confusing. That’s because they’re a way for HR professionals to thinly veil how we really feel so we don’t accidentally yell “You’re a childish moron!” at our coworkers. Here are some definitions to help clarify things.

“My door is always open”

Mr. Kopencky won’t let me shut my door, so you guys can always walk in. But please don’t, because managing your dumb problems stresses me out to the point where I’ve had to learn how to cry silently, with no tears.

“Think outside the box”

You have bad ideas. I put your bad ideas all together in a box. Now, I want you to come up with good ideas. That means I need you to think outside of the box.

“Results driven”

Getting results is your job. So when I say I want you to be “results driven,” I’m saying “do your ruddy job.” Jill, that means do your job, not update your blog. Remember, we have tracking software on all the computers, so I know that you spent five hours researching “grain-free pizza” last Thursday.

The sign in the kitchen

I have overheard complaints that the dish-washing sign I put up is both condescending and passive-aggressive. I know it is, and I could change it to get at the real issue by saying, “You need to do your dishes because everyone else is sick of doing them for you, DAN.” I don’t think that Dan would like that, though, and he is Mr. Kopencky’s nephew. Did I say “Mr. Kopencky’s nephew”? I meant to say “Mr. Kopencky’s stupidest nephew.”

One other thing about the sign in the kitchen

Also, it’s pretty funny that the sign is for Dan, considering that I know he’s the one who drew a wang on the clipart man on it.

Sexual harassment

Speaking of that wang, we’re having a sexual harassment seminar in two weeks, and you can all thank Dan for that. Jill, you are welcome to bring gluten-free snacks again, but I swear if you bring grain-free pizza bites and they’re just globs of cheese and sauce, I will tell everyone about your IBS, which you have told me way, way, way too many details about. Remember, everyone, my door is always open!

Best,

Pamela

Philippe Kahn, Prophet

I was on site in 1986, the year Philippe Kahn, CEO of Borland, had the temerity to say in the midst of a crowd of Mac enthusiasts in San Francisco, that the Macintosh was a piece of shit.  That took a lot of gumption; I’m reminded of the scene in The Patriot where Mel Gibson walks into a bar and shouts, “God save the King,” exiting hastily in front of a cloud of knives and axes.

He was wrong then.

128k-macintosh

The 128K Mac was a thing of beauty and innovation (at least for folks who had not been inside the Palo Alto Research Center.) It introduced the world to the concept of a real graphical user interface, and made things possible in the world of graphics, sound, fonts, gaming, design, music, and artwork that would never have been possible in the IBM world – even by adding a dozen cards – more so as the machine morphed into faster and colorized versions. Dark Castle, HyperCard™, designable fonts, MIDI, user-accessible resources… they were all so fun!

The beautiful 1988 Battle Chess game by MacPlay riffed on the biggest disadvantage at the time – the price differential. “Pawn takes King” has the pawn whip out a Macintosh Price List, whereupon the king suffers a fatal coronary.

pawn-takes-king

Flop for flop, the Macintosh machines were about half again as costly as a comparable IBM device, and remain so to this day – but back then the “coolness” factor was enough to overcome that little annoyance. From 1984 until about 1990, I was a devotee.

But Kahn was just 30 years too early.

My wife has an iPod, and years ago one of her kids gave her an iTunes gift card for some music. So we had to set up an AppleID for her to be able to use it. Hold that thought.

Recently she acquired an iPad from her mother, and it was necessary to switch ownership of the pad to her account. Hold that thought.

For about six months last year, I worked for a cloud storage company as a tech support agent, and with remote tools I delved into a lot of Mac systems while I helped customers with their tech issues.

From the experiences I had trying to navigate the Apple environment to resolve what should have been the simplest of problems, I can safely go on record as saying that the Mac world is a place of overpriced, underpowered hardware, combined with a byzantine tangle of AppleIDs, iTunes (an abomination of desolation if ever I saw one, a heavy-handed store thinly disguised as an impossibly cumbersome media management tool), iCloud, Photo Library, and other bits and pieces which form a virtual nightmare to navigate. For Mogg’s sake, they even make you create an account to look at their help forums. And when you try to do that, you hit a brick wall.

applehqiz

My Username is OK. I agreed to the Agreement. “Please check the form for details” shows virtually no additional information. Thanks, Apple.

dongles

Add to this some recent technology decisions that seem difficult to fathom, including a plethora of dongles, the removal of a standard audio jack, and those easily-lost wireless earbuds, and it makes me wonder why anyone would go with Apple hardware any longer. For the longest time a relative imperviousness to viruses and malware was a big draw, but that era has ended, and there’s not much a Mac can do that a PC can’t, and for about 60% of the price. The “coolness” factor is just not there any longer.

a_very_long_flight

It’s been a long time since I’ve been religiously attached to any hardware or operating system. I’ve used so many, it’s basically “whatever gets the job done.” But for a brief period, the Mac was really a wonderful, dazzling, entertaining and useful new thing. Today, I’m pretty convinced that the company has lost its way and its vision when it comes to computers. I don’t hate Apple; I’m really hoping they can turn themselves around. If they don’t, it’s a sure bet that somewhere in the future, another Steve Jobs is waiting.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

IT is an expense. IT doesn’t make money for the company.

I saved this from over at reddit some time ago, and I’m sharing it here because I thought it could use wider exposure. This post is largely for IT professionals, of whom I know a fair community, forgive me if it doesn’t seem relevant.

On the other hand, if you’re a manager or a director responsible for IT¹, you may want to read this with some care.

A question was asked, “Isn’t there a live sandbox environment² you can freely make mistakes in before you jump in the actual live databases or whatever and make changes? If not, why not?”

A comprehensive answer was posted by redditor /u/catherder9000, which I have only bowdlerized a little, and I hope the author is not mortally offended.

It is all about scale.

(Sort of like how this post could have been summed up in 2 sentences, but enjoy it anyway!)

Lets say you work at a company that is a large small business (40-50 million revenue yearly, 100-200 people). Your IT department is a 1-3 man team, because “you’re an expense” …most business people think only sales people make them money. Don’t worry that you can’t make money if things don’t work, only sales makes you money.

Now lets pretend your last major upgrade to the servers was accomplished with a $75,000 budget. Getting that budget with the equipment you demanded was required was hard fought. Some corners were cut on “not absolutely necessary” things, things like a second slightly smaller and slightly slower server to run as a mirror of the first one, a server where you could do all your testing on. That “saved” the company $30,000, right? You just like to spend money, you never make the company any money.

Then, a year later you have something that absolutely has to be done to the server. You are pretty sure it will work, your outside support people are confident it will work, you have no server to test it on because all your other servers are much too small to handle it or are already tasked with other “critical” services. So you go with your best judgement and go live with a big change during the wee hours to cause the least interruption.

1 AM STUFF GOES BAD.

Now you’re scrambling. By 5AM you’re in a frantic attempt to get back online before major business starts, nothing you or your vendor have tried has worked, they’ve called in a half dozen of their T3’s and developers all to no avail. People are rolling in, things aren’t working. Calls are happening. Pages are going out. 6AM, the owner rolls in. His stuff isn’t working. You’re now thinking about reverting to last night’s backup because the changes you were told would work without a hitch were nothing but a giant frozen boot to the face hitch. People are getting really frantic about not being able to do business, nobody can order anything, nobody can sell anything, nobody can maintain inventory, nobody can do anything but sit around with their thumbs in their ears and surf the web. You’re just an expense, you don’t make the company money.

6:30AM, you make the decision to give up attempts at fixing and instead roll back to the last backup. You start the restore telling everyone “this should be resolved by 9:30AM everyone we have is on it and a full restore should take 2 or 3 hours tops.”

9:35 rolls around, 9:40… 10:15 the backup fails at the last point. What the…? How the…? This is impossible! You make some calls, you explain that you have to attempt rolling back to the offsite backup, yes you understand that will lose the half the day’s business and everything will have to be manually entered when the system is back up. You’re given the “Well for pity’s sake get it back up what do we pay you for!?!” (The go ahead. They have utmost confidence in your abilities.) You start the other restore. It works, but was much slower than the onsite one because fiber is only so fast. 3:00PM you’re back online, things seem to be stable again.

3:30, nobody in IT has slept in 32 hours. You’re called into a meeting with management. People want answers. You explain that you were assured everything would go smoothly by the vendor, you tell them that you were confident on your role in the upgrade as well. What should have been a 2 hour downtime during the night turned into a 17 hour ordeal. It was an unforeseeable incident. You mention that, “Had we had a working test environment to try this on first, we would have discovered the problem and avoided it.”

Nobody wants to hear it. Everything is about reentering the previous day’s sales, orders, receivables, inventory adjustments, etc. 4:30 the business day is basically a wipe. The downtime has cost the company a couple of hundred thousand in lost business for the day. You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Nobody learns from it other than yourself, a few other people in IT, and the vendor who “has never seen this problem before”.

dt990808shc0

Your request for a new sandbox server is declined. Your request for a 2nd local backup server is seen as “another” frivolous idea.

You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Welcome to IT.

The Old Wolf has been there.

¹ IT = Information Technology. You know, the computer or data-processing department that doesn’t make any money. When things are going well, they wonder what they pay you for. When things go to hell, they wonder what they pay you for.

² A sandbox is a separate place, a mirror of your computer systems, where software can be tested without impacting your production machine. If things go bad, no harm no foul.