sparr: (cellular automata)
My Samsung Galaxy S7 can't keep its wifi and bluetooth turned off. I turn them off, they turn back on a few minutes to an hour later. I called T-Mobile support about this months ago with no result.

Recently, I called Samsung tech support through the support app built into my phone (this will be relevant later). They told me that they have to follow a troubleshooting script, and had me reboot my phone into safe mode. They gave me the steps and the ticket number and told me to call back in later after seeing if this resolved the problem.

I gave it an hour in safe mode and the problem didn't recur, so I considered it fixed. I booted back into non-safe mode and called them back. They correctly determined based on this experiment that the problem is an app. Then they told me I needed to uninstall any non-essential apps on my phone to see if the problem goes away. I refused, and told them the problem existed before I ever installed any apps on the phone. More specifically, I said that some online forum posts made me suspect the problem was the Good Lock app, from Samsung. They told me they don't do any app support, but that if it's a Samsung app then they have a department for that, and I was transferred to that department.

A nice Australian woman's voice on the automated system told me I'd reached a department I hadn't talked to before, which was comforting. I talked to the person on that end for a few minutes and they said they also didn't do app support. They gave me the phone number for a third (or so I thought) department.

Calling that number brought me back to the first department. This time I told the person I was tired of being sent in circles. They again insisted that I needed to uninstall a bunch of apps, or do a factory reset on the phone. I again refused. I said I suspected a Samsung app of being the problem. They asked if they could remotely control my phone to see what I was seeing.

Now, recall to my mention of there being a support app built into my phone. It's called Samsung+ and it does a lot of things, including phone calls and voice+video chat with tech support, and a feature called Remote Access that lets me enter a code so Samsung techs can remotely control my phone. This tech asked me, instead, to go get a new app from the play store called Smart Tutor. I asked why she couldn't use the Samsung remote access system already built into my phone. She seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. I called the situation ridiculous, but did install Smart Tutor, and she managed to get access to my phone.

Now she looked at my app list and again said I had too many apps and needed to uninstall many of them. I opened the Good Lock app and she asked where I got this app. I tried to show it to her in the Play Store, which was fruitless because I had forgotten that it wasn't from the Play Store. While I was looking there, she repeated that this wasn't a Samsung app. I eventually googled for it and got reminded that it was installed by the Galaxy Apps system from Samsung. I opened Galaxy Apps and found Good Lock marked as Installed. She said she had no idea what that was, and that she couldn't help me with it. She said she could give me the number of a department that could.

I called that number and got a familiar Australian voice. This time the person on the other end let me explain the situation, and they also told me they had never heard of Good Lock. They said they only support a few Samsung apps, and not that one.

I ended up figuring out how to uninstall it on my own. This didn't actually solve the problem, so I'm still on the hunt for tools that can help me do that. I either need to find an app that will tell me which of all my installed apps have the permission to turn wifi on, or I need to connect the phone to a computer via USB and use adb logcat to look at the logs to see what's happening when wifi gets turned on and hope there's something correlated that I can track down. However, I no longer expect T-Mobile or Samsung to give me any assistance with that.

What blows my mind is that four different people at Samsung would tell me they've never heard of Good Lock and that they don't support it. Good Lock is one of Samsung's promoted apps in their own store, a cornerstone of the advertised user experience of the Galaxy S7 and other newer phones.
sparr: (cellular automata)

This was my first net-negative experience at a burn or con. The things I learned will have positive value in the future, so eventually I can look back and say this weekend was worth it, but I don't know how long that will take. I've finished burning a lot of bridges and made some new friends. Firefly is still the best regional burn I've been to, despite its flaws, and I'll probably return if they let me.

The Good

I got to spend some part of a couple of days camping with some of the people whose company I enjoy most. This is a welcome reprieve from what has been mostly solitude on the west coast. There were friendly conversations as well as good hugs and cuddles. Due to some things mentioned in sections below, there's a good chance I'll get to spend more time with those people fwen I return to Firefly.

Read more... )
sparr: (cellular automata)
I get this a lot. I'm engaged in a heated discussion, perhaps even an argument, on the internet. Not a pointless discussion, but one with real world consequences. The topic might be consent, or safety, or event planning and policies. Something that people have strong opinions about, even when those opinions aren't necessarily well thought out. I'll have a position in this discussion that I'm trying to promote or defend, and someone else will be contradicting, refuting, or attacking that position. At some point, the conversation will shift. One or more people will stop (if they had started) discussing the topic, and start making comments about how I communicate. I will get called counterproductive, disruptive, confrontational, etc.

Read more... )

Finally, in both cases, and more in line with the (1) point that I quoted above... If you believe you have a better approach to achieving a goal that we both believe is good, you can sidestep any need to convince me otherwise by simply implementing your own approach. Alternately, you could convince someone else to implement it, someone who isn't already committed to a differnet approach. The fact that we are having this conversation tells me that either you aren't able or willing to implement your own solution, which hints at some hidden cost or requirement that you aren't considering in pushing that solution on me, or that your solution doesn't actually achieve the goals in question. If those two things weren't true, you would have already solved the problem, and I'd never have started down the path of trying to solve it myself. This response applies at every level of meta related to most such issues. It applies to actually solving the core problem. It applies to eliminating uncomfortable discussions about the problem. It applies to discussing how to eliminate uncomfortable discussions about the problem.

So, as long as you aren't willing to explain to me how my approach is net-bad, or willing to get yourself or others to implement your better approach, we're just going to continue disagreeing about the appropriateness of me using a maybe-not-optimal approach to achieving positive goals.
sparr: (cellular automata)
LJ is the best social network. I cannot count the number of times I have seen (or made) a complaint about Facebook or G+ or Ello or Fetlife that could not be countered with "LJ does that better".

What they don't have is the best interface, or the best marketing team.

I would love to wake up tomorrow and learn about a "new" social network launching, which is really just a new domain name and front end for LJ. A modern web interface (AJAXy, dynamic, etc). A more convenient interface. A new marketing campaign, and a "new" thing to tell my friends about.

Dreamwidth isn't much better. None of the LJ clones really match what people want out of the user experience of a social network. But the back end is SO MUCH BETTER. One-way friends, per-user and per-tag subscriptions and notifications, threaded comments, markup in posts...

Some day, maybe.

Ello, if you're listening, just clone LJ.
sparr: (cellular automata)
There are events and venues in my chosen communities that I am not welcome at. The majority of these cases are due to my views on the subject of consent and determinism, and the discomfort of others who have trouble with rational discussion and spotting contradictions in their own beliefs and actions. Would I like this state of affairs to change? Sure. Am I willing to give up on my beliefs, and the actions predicated on them, which I believe to render a net good to my communities and society? Not a chance.
To a much less severe, but more widespread, degree, there are people who simply don't enjoy my company. I have an abrasive personality; I'm somewhat loud; I am not particularly attractive; I am not wealthy to the degree that often engenders companionship. I am on the wrong end of a dozen different trait spectra that lead to fewer people choosing to be around me. Many people will tolerate my company, despite these things, out of some overriding unrelated priority, but that doesn't speak to my value at all.
These are things that have driven me towards hosting more of my own events. By hosting my own movie nights, play parties, educational events, etc, I can ensure that I am mostly, if not only, surrounded by people who actually value my company, or at least actively choose to endure it. People who feel threatened by me can easily opt out of my company. People who do not enjoy engaging in conversation with me can be sure they will not accidentally encounter me.

This post was prompted by, but not even remotely entirely based on, my recently hosting some of my first "adult" events in MA, in close temporal proximity to being explicitly not-invited to a number of similar, vaguely or not, events in other community I'm part of. Please do not read this as directed entirely, or even mostly, at any specific event or venue. While I welcome replies on the topic of specific events, venues, or people, the scope of this post is meant to be more general than that.


Apr. 1st, 2012 02:58 pm
sparr: (Default)
It's one of the strongest insults in my vocabulary, but also one of the least precise in common parlance. It means "You have intentionally led me to believe, directly or indirectly, that something untrue is true". This meaning is often lost, or misinterpreted. I often reserve it as an insult for someone who uses their lie for their personal benefit and potential or actual detriment to myself or people I care about, but that selectivity doesn't change the meaning. The word itself conveys much more impact than phrasing the same accusation differently[1].

Read more... )

If you don't want to talk to me, tell me that you don't want to talk to me, don't tell me your dog is on fire. If you don't want me to talk about a certain subject to you, or with other people, tell me that, don't lie to me in an attempt to convince me that talking about it isn't worthwhile. Lying to me is almost never going to have the desired result, and the more effectively I can convey that the more likely we are to have successful communicative interactions.
sparr: (Default)
I recently had occasion to meet a friend of a friend on a road trip. We met at his mountain-top house and he and his wife then drove us about 20 miles down the mountain to a nearby restaurant. Given the choice of four vehicles, the two of which could carry all four of us were a Mini Cooper and a Hummer H3. They chose the H3, probably for reasons of comfort. While there I picked up that they visit this restaurant, and others in the vicinity, often.

Read more... )
sparr: (Default)
Today I encountered a community in which I cannot post under my LJ name because I am not a member of the community... but I can post with my Facebook account, or any OpenID account. WTF?
sparr: (Default)
As pertains to this post, I'm not looking for commitment or intercourse. While those are things I'd like to find in some more serious or long term relationships, and that might develop from something simpler, today I'm concerned with other less involved kinds of relationships.

I don't think I can contain in a single phrase what I'm looking for. Perhaps "companionship" is closest, but that doesn't necessarily cover the full span of degrees of intimacy, or lack thereof, in question. There are a lot of relationship niches, and most of them are empty in my life most of the time[1]. I'd like to find someone(s) that I can have lunch or dinner with. Someone to see a movie with, out or at home. Someone to take, or by whom to be taken, to parties of all sorts. A partner in exploration and mischief. A warm body to share cold nights with, even just for the comfort. An intimate partner, somewhere along the spectrum of first through third bases, inclusive. Everything in between, and combinations thereof.

whining )
sparr: (Default)
Four days ago I joined the modern era by buying a smartphone. I was an early adopter in the PDA market, with a Palm in the 90s, then again with an HP iPaq and Asus MyPal in the early 00s, but at some point in the last three years the revolution happened. I can thank Apple, however grudgingly, for that. Without the iPhone we would not have Android, and without either of them we would not have the thriving and growing ecosystem of mobile applications today that dwarfs the market for RIM/Palm/Symbian/Zaurus apps in the past. This post chronicles my joys and woes in the first half-week of use.

Read more... )

Overall I am greatly enjoying the experience, despite the hurdles, most of which were at least somewhat expected. I think that having an internet connected phone will make my life more productive and efficient, and only slightly more distracted. Having one device to take the place of a media player, PDA, phone, and pocket camera[3] is great, but everyone who has one already knew that. I'm looking forward to starting to develop apps. I have some great ideas, and my Java skills are decent but rusty, so maybe I can even make a little money.

footnotes )
sparr: (Default)
My post on tipping seems to have struck a chord, albeit of a negative sort. Today I'm going to address some other weird, arbitrary, impractical, or uncommon bits of American social expectations. Things like manners and fashion and whatever else comes to mind.

Read more... )
[2] A) WTF? Seriously, WTF? B) Same objection as feeding mogwai... when does "after Labor Day" end? Can you wear a white dress at an xmas or new year's celebration?

[3] happy:happily::funny:funnily::silly:sillily
sparr: (Default)
Let's talk about tipping food service wait staff professionals. These are people you would typically call "waiter" or "waitress". I am going to systematically address every argument I have heard in favor of commonly advocated American tipping practices.

Before I start, I need to tell you that I give my waitress a larger tip than her average, on average. I tip more than most people in my party, most of the time. I am not a cheapskate. *I* am not the problem.

Read more... )
[1] For the sake of this post, I am discussing the typical range of restaurant prices encountered by my friends (particularly of the LJ variety) on a regular basis. "cheap" is somewhere around $4 entrees and $6 meals, at places like Waffle House or Denny's. "expensive" is $20 entrees and $30+ meals, at places like Maggiano's and Ruth's Chris.
[2] Georgia has, afaik, the lowest state minimum wage in the country. It is one of a handful of states that do not improve on the federal laws in this regard. Almost every server in the country is earning more than $2.13 as their base wage.
sparr: (Default)
I'm planning to bring a civil action against a company that won't stop robocalling my cell phone. 3-5 calls a day, most leading to a recording. The statutory damages are $500 per infraction, times three if they are willful. A few days of calls provides enough infractions to hit the $15000 claim ceiling*.

I need two things to help me in this endeavor.

1) A loaner phone that is capable of recording calls. I am on T-mobile and can swap my SIM over.

2) Advice on dealing with the filing process. How do I find out exactly who (company/person) to name as the defendant(s)? Is there a best day or time to visit the courthouse? Are there any 'tricks' I should know about to make the process smoother?

* - Should I claim $500 per call for 30 calls, or $1500 per call for 10 calls?
sparr: (Default)
You are shopping for a new car. The latest model from [manufacturer] has a curious "security" feature wherein the car must contact headquarters by radio before it can be started. You decide to buy it, because the other features are enticing. Six months later, you are unable to start the car due to [radio interference / headquarters being bombed / manufacturer going out of business / other] and this problem lasts a few hours, a few days, or forever. Later, you are shopping for a new car again, and you see the same feature on some of the newer options again... and you buy one of them. Why? Did you not learn your lesson? Maybe the story above happened to a friend and not yourself? Maybe the other features of the car make it worth the risk?

I put this story forward as an understandable analogy (thanks Jim!) to explain what I see as really dumb moves on the part of consumers when it comes time to buy digital media or software. This isn't purely hypothetical or a thought experiment. Over and over again we see companies turning off their DRM servers on purpose, or having them fail on accident. These aren't little companies you've never heard of, or companies you would otherwise distrust, they are companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Virgin, Major League Baseball, and now Ubisoft. Millions of honest customers have been screwed by DRM of all sorts, more every time this happens. How big of a problem does this have to become before consumers will demand better?

I don't like other people telling me when I have to stop using the things that I have bought and paid for (aside from illegal uses, that's another topic). This is why I won't be buying any new games from Ubisoft. Also why I won't buy games on Steam. It is why I won't buy a BluRay player (key revocation, anyone?), any game whose multiplayer component relies on nontrivial publisher-provided server hardware (sucks to be a Halo 2 fan right about now), or, on a note more related to the original analogy, any car that OnStar can kill remotely.

Please help me understand why you don't reach the same conclusions.
sparr: (Default)
I am appalled at the ongoing watering-down of "Steampunk", which apparently this year means "anything vaguely Edwardian or Victorian". It was bad enough in 08 and 09 when it meant "anything Edwardian or Victorian, with gears and/or brass paint". Next year will it have any meaning left at all? Does anyone making "Steampunk" costumes these days have any idea what _____punk means, or why "steam" is part of the name?
sparr: (Default)
Two experiences this week with overpopular restaurants have driven me to write this post.

The Vortex (L5P) is often packed, with hour+ waiting lines out the door in the cold. They have another location about 4 miles away that is often sparsely populated at the same times. Here's a crazy idea... Offer a % off their meal, or free parking, or something of similar value, for a party of 8+ to go to the other location. You are going to lose their business when they find out there's a 2 hour wait, why not salvage it?

The Majestic is also often packed, with faster moving lines out the door also in the cold. Tonight I arrived around 3AM to find a Fulton County Sheriff manning the door. I walked in, alone, to take a seat at the counter (which had 3-4 empty seats), and he told me to get to the back of the line. The line full of parties of 2-6. WTF? Majestic, you just lost a customer, probably for a substantial number of potential future visits, until I'm desperate enough to come back.
sparr: (Default)
I was walking from Le Bam back to The Spot last night and I found what could be an awesome shortcut but is instead very difficult. I thought I should share, first with my friends and soon with a few friendly business owners at Amsterdam Walk who are probably missing out on some business (how many people come, can't find parking, and leave?).

# Best parking for 502 Amsterdam, The Spot
# Huge new parking garage for Piedmont Park
# Path of shortcut, halves the distance from Monroe + Dutch Valley to Amsterdam Walk
# 10 feet of deep undergrowth and forest, followed by a 10 foot fence with barb wire and a gate that is welded shut.

How hard would it be to install a sidewalk through that little bit of woods and open up the gate?  It would add awesome parking possibilities for the businesses on Amsterdam.
sparr: (Default)
Six guys sit around a table playing russian roulette, with the gun pointed at the guy next to them.  One of them inevitably ends up shooting another.  Has that guy committed a greater crime than the other 5?  The intent and risk was identical every time.  They all knew the chances that someone would die when they pulled the trigger, they all chose to take that risk.

Two people buy the same car.  Bob just starts driving his.  Joe does thousands of dollars in aesthetic customization first.  They get in identical wrecks, being hit by Sue and Amy (who are completely at fault).  The chance of your car being hit is predictable, just like getting struck by lightning or having a tree fall on it.  If Sue and Amy had stayed home that day, the chance of Bob and Joe's cars being hit would not have changed in any significant way.  Joe took a greater risk than Bob by putting a more expensive car on the road, but our society puts the burden of Joe's risk on Amy, who took the exact same risk as Sue.  Why is that?  Why does Joe not bear any liability for his riskier behavior?

Somewhere out there is Sam.  He has that same car again, and spends even more than Joe making it prettier.  But Sam recognizes that he is taking a greater risk by putting a more expensive car on the road, and he does the responsible thing and gets comprehensive insurance.  Why is Sam not the norm?

In almost every part of life, sensible people can come to a consensus that with greater risk comes greater liability and responsibility.  In this particular situation, and a few other similar ones, that consensus is shattered.  Why?
sparr: (Default)
When I started working here, the rule was that you can't access the company's ticket tracking software from Firefox. and it only got worse from there )
sparr: (Default)
This came up in conversation recently and it bothered me how hard it was to explain to some people. I decided to find a good illustration to hopefully make this more clear.

Consider a county containing a city, composed of "Magenta" voters, surrounded by rural area, composed of "Green" voters. The county has 64 total voters (or 640000, if you prefer), 24 of them "Magenta" and 38 of them "Green". The county gets to elect 4 candidates (representatives, judges, school board members, whatever). You would, ideally, expect to see 1-2 Magenta candidates and 2-3 Green candidates get elected (24:38 is between 1:3 and 2:2).

Now, consider what happens when the people drawing the district lines on the map belong to one party or the other...

You can end up with the "fair" results of 1:3 or 2:2 in various ways, but much less fairly you can also produce results of 0:4 (no representatives for the Magenta party) or even 3:1 (a massive representative majority for the minority Magenta party).

If you want to further explore this phenomenon, I suggest you check out The Redistricting Game, which explores gerrymandering in the format of a flash "puzzle" game.

Your thoughts on this illustration, or the socially-ignored issue of gerrymandering, are welcome.

PS: If you think the examples above are unrealistic, check out this (thankfully illegally non-compact, in most states) real "shove all the Hispanics into one district" map from Illinois' District 4 in 2004...


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