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September 2004
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November 2004

October 2004

Canceling an AOL account is like entering the 9th circle of hell

When I gave my mother my old iMac I thought AOL was the perfect choice of an ISP for her. It is simple to use, and not too expensive. However, she decided she didn't like it, and signed up for Earthlink without telling me (which, in my opinion just informs me that my mother has better taste in ISP's than I gave her credit for).

However, being the good son that I am, I was paying for her AOL account and since she didn't tell me about her change of heart I was still sending AOL some of my precious money. Mom finally did tell me she wasn't using AOL and that I should go ahead and cancel it.

That was about 5 months ago, and I kept forgetting to do it. Tonight, I was checking out my bank account online, since I was paying my bills and all, and I noticed the AOL charge. Tonight was the night, I thought, I'll call the good people at AOL and cancel my membership. How hard could it be?

I think AOL keeps most of their members by befuddling them and silencing them with fear.

I called AOL member services and informed the gentleman that answered I would like to cancel my account. He said OK, and verified my information, which went without a hitch.

He then said, "I see you have been paying $23 a month for the last few months. I can lower the price to $17.99 for, guess what... unlimited access!"

Me: "No thanks, I would just like to cancel the account."

Him: "OK, Scott, let me ask you something. What would be your perfect price point for unlimited access?"

Me (sensing a trap but ignoring it): "Umm... 12 bucks?"

Him: "Have you heard of Netscape?"

Me (thinking 'Have you heard of segues?"): "Yes, yes I have."

Him: "Well, AOL owns Netscape and I can sign you up for Netscape for $10.99 a month for unlimited access and you will have all the benefits of AOL with the exception of 2 things: Keywords, and you can't have seven sign on names like you can with AOL."

Me: "No thanks, I would just like to cancel my account."

Him: "Can I ask you why you want to cancel your account, Scott?"

Me: "I already have an account with another ISP."

Him: "OK, Scott, let me tell you that you will get not spam filter with that ISP, and you will have to pay $50 to download a firewall. AOL has 7 firewalls that will not allow one spam onto your computer. All you have to do is search for the keyword, 'fire wall.'"

Me (thinking: Do I mention the fact that firewalls have nothing to do with spam, and I certainly hope AOL has more than 7 firewalls at their datacenters. Probably not. AND, I didn't even tell him what ISP I was using so how does he know what they do and don't offer?) "I would just like to cancel my account please."

Him: "Ok, Scott, what I am going to do, since you have been a loyal customer, I will cancel your account right now and refund you the amount for this month, and give you free service until Nov. 29th."

Me: "Well, that is nice, but at the end of November my account will be canceled, right?"

Him: "You can call here at the end of November and certainly cancel it. I am processing this as we are talking."

Me: "No, I don't want it. Please just cancel my account right now, and don't make me ask you again."

Him: "My supervisor has authorized me to extend your free membership and sign you up for an email reminder that your free period will end at the end of November."

Me: "Please, just cancel my account. I am not interested in an account with AOL of any kind."

Him: "OK, this will take a moment. While we wait can you tell me how your experience with AOL has been."

Me: "Fine, I suppose."

Him: "You can sign back up with AOL at any time with your current screen name. Your account name has been canceled. Thank you for calling America Online."

Me: "Thanks"

Dear GOD! He was just trying to confuse me, and it is lucky that I know what I am talking about. I can imagine someone's grandmother trying to jump through all those hoops. It ain't pretty.

Hey, AOL, have some respect for your customers. No matter what service you will may be rolling out you have lost a customer for life. I will never use AOL's paid services.

A New Font coming to a Highway near you

Upper-vs.gifA new font has been approved by the government for use on signs on federal highways, according toTypographica, and believe me if anyone knows about this kinda thing, they do:

America’s big green highway signs are about to become more legible. Type designer James Montalbano announces that after years of development, the US Federal Government has finally given official interim approval for his Clearview to be used on all Federal roads.

I think they should have went with Comic Sans, but then again it am not a famed type designer, at least not yet. I have my eye on you James Montalbano.

Mac users left out of spy ware fun

Bill Palmer writes about his experience with a friend's PC:

My friend and I both concluded that some kind of deeply buried crap-ware was replicating the infected stuff just as fast as Ad-aware could get rid of it. He asked me what the solution was, and I told him that I honestly wasn't sure whether he would need to upgrade to the paid version of Ad-aware, or purchase some other, more powerful tool. So naturally, he asked me what I use on my computer to fight off this kind of nonsense. And before I could even manage to figure out how to answer that question, he answered it for me. It was time for him to finally "get" something that I'd been trying to get him to understand for years.

"This doesn't happen to Apples, does it?" he asked out loud, not so much in the form of a question, but more along the lines of a lightbulb going off in his head. "No, never," I told him, explaining this that kind of crap just doesn't happen to well-built, well-designed operating systems. And at that point, I pretty much knew what was coming next:

"That's it, I'm never buying another PC again."

And there it was.

At work the other day someone had over 1500 pieces of spyware on their machines, and for some odd reason IE would crash at random intervals. I got rid of the spyware and the strangeness stopped.

Silly PC users.

Mmm, spicey Pepsi

Folks, it looks like I chose the right time to stop drinking Pepsi. According to press release we have this to look forward to:

Just in time for the holidays, Pepsi will launch Pepsi Holiday Spice - Pepsi-Cola with a spicy finish of ginger and cinnamon - to give consumers a new seasonal treat during a time of celebration. Testing revealed that the spice concept fits with Pepsi's image as "new," "different," and "innovative," while the flavors have a strong connection with cola. Featuring nostalgic package graphics, Pepsi Holiday Spice will be available in the U.S. for an eight-week period (November 1 - December 31) in 20-ounce bottles, 2-liter bottles and 12-packs of 12-ounce cans.

Sounds like puke in a bottle to me, only with a hint of ginger.

No Pepsi: Week One

nopepsi.jpgA little over a week has passed since I proclaimed by body a No Pepsi Zone, and I am sure many of you are curious as to how I am making out.

It isn't easy, but I haven't had a drop of sweet, sweet Pepsi since Oct. 19th. I have only drank 3 things in those 7 days: water (lots of water), iced tea, and orange juice (no pulp please).

The first two days were the hardest, I had a pretty major headache as my body screamed, 'WHERE THE HELL IS MY PEPSI, SISSIE BOY! GIVE IT TO ME! SWEET, SWEET PEPSI WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING, YOU FOOL!"

Yes, my body is a bit of a jerk, but what can you do?

I made it through and I am Pepsi-free and loving it.

Here is a patented 'Blankbaby tidbit':

Recently my department had an all staff meeting. Usually at all of our meetings and events there is nothing but Coke far and wide. I often inquired if I could get a little Pepsi and I was told no, Coke is the way to go.

I gradually accepted this slight, and moved on with my life.

Then, I decided I would stop drinking Pepsi, and lo and hold the Pepsi was aflowin' at our recent meeting.

Ever get the feeling that the world is conspiring against you?

UPDATE: I must be strong. I have the Pepsi website open below this window, and one of the 'features' of the website is the sound of a can of Pepsi being opened and then poured into a glass with ice (I am not a fan of ice with my soda). One of the best sounds in life. Folks, it is the little things.

I must remain ever vigilant.

Blogging for love

The Globe and Mail has a great story about Joey and Wendy's recent engagement:

The medium of their announcement was apropos, given that Ms. Koslow and Mr. deVilla met last October at a blogging conference in Boston, with their initial introduction courtesy of a priest named AKMA (who is also, yes, a blogger). Post-conference, Mr. deVilla flew back to his home in Toronto and soon started flirting on-line with the Boston-based Ms. Koslow (a.k.a. The Redhead Wore Crimson, at By December, Ms. Koslow decided she was ready to visit Mr. deVilla, and their respective blogs served as a way to feel each other out. "She used my blog as a form of background check," says Mr. deVilla. Likewise, he stayed up late the night before her arrival, cramming.

Blogs seem to me a good way to meet people, since you have some much of yourself out there ready to be read. I am sure that the people who know me from work (Hi!) are learning much more about me, in a shorter period of time, than they would normally. And that is not even mentioning the people that read this blog and don't know me (you know who you are, but I don't).

So ladies, start you engines. Or something.

Really, Shatner's album is very good

Listen to me, dear readers, William Shatner's album 'Has Been' is a finely crafted piece of musical bliss, and no wonder Ben Folds was involved. Do you yourself a favor and read this interview and then buy the CD:

It seems to be quite an unlikely pairing: a 73-year-old actor and an edgy, humorous pop singer from North Carolina. There's one thing that both seem to share, though, and that's a sense that, despite each making a living in his chosen field, neither has ever really seemed able to fit in. Despite a likable persona and an unforgettable lead role in the historic first run of Star Trek, William Shatner's career always seemed to coast. Meanwhile, Ben Folds made a name for himself in the '90s as the leader of Ben Folds Five. However, even with a solid roster of diehard fans, the piano-driven pop--delivered with a helping of angst and an edgy sense of humor--never sold like Metallica. However, despite any troubles, both men labored on.


Instiki, a wiki on your desktop:

Instiki is a Wiki Clone (What is a wiki?) that’s so easy to setup and so pretty to look at, you’ll be wondering whether this is a real wiki at all. Installing Instiki in three steps:


Run “instiki.rb” with Ruby 1.8.1 or greater1.

Chuckle... There’s no step three! :)

Mmm, Wiki. I am a big fan of Wiki, and have been thinking deep thoughts about it. I may post some about it here, I may not.

Apple typography, just what the Apple geeks wanted

Thanks to Wikipedia we have an entry on Apple typography:

As a company that arguably did more to jump-start the desktop publishing industry than any other in the mid-1980s, Apple Computer has always paid great attention to the typefaces used in its marketing, operating systems and industrial design. It has also been a leading player in font technology development, and controls several patents important to the implementation of high-quality typeface rendering on computers.

Two of my favorite subjects, typography and Apple.

Damn Software gnomes

Nick Bradbury bemoans silly, forgetful users:

It usually turns out that the person downloaded a trial version, installed it, then completely forgot about it. When they find it again, they assume that I somehow secretly installed it on their computer. Like I'm some sort of software gnome who visits people during the night, installing my products while they sleep.

Some people believe that there computer has an agenda of its own. These people worry me.

Hal, open the podbay doors.

I'm never buying groceries again

I do believe this story deserves a 'dude,' perhaps even two.

Woman rammed by SUV in purse-snatch:

The ancient art of purse-snatching was raised to a scary new level last night.

Someone driving an SUV rammed into a woman walking with a bag of groceries, on 20th Street near Pine, knocked her down, jumped out and snatched her purse.

The thief hopped back in the van, roared away backward going the wrong way on one-way 20th Street with its lights out, a witness said.

The woman, who was not immediately identified, suffered a hip fracture and was admitted in stable condition to Jefferson University Hospital.

Firstly, I had no idea that purse-snatching was an art.

Secondly, this happened a mere 4 blocks from where I live.

Thirdly, I am going to stop wearing my purse out.

I miss the days when all I had to worry about was being groped by a man on a bicycle.

You need to go to a journalism school

The New York Times covers the Stewart/Crossfire debacle:

There is nothing more painful than watching a comedian turn self-righteous. Unless of course, the comedian is lashing out at smug and self-serving television-news personalities. Jon Stewart could not resist a last dig at CNN's "Crossfire" during his monologue on Comedy Central on Monday night . "They said I wasn't being funny," the star of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" said, rolling his eyes expressively. "And I said to them: 'I know that. But tomorrow I will go back to being funny," Mr. Stewart said, adding that their show would still be bad, although he used a more vulgar expression.