New Adventures of the Compassionate Curmudgeon

In which I tend to rant. A lot. But compassionately...

Messin' With the Deaf

If you ever want to mess with a deaf person who reads lips (and who among us hasn’t wanted to mess with a deaf person at one time or another?), go up to him or her and say “Vacuum!”

A lip reader can’t tell the difference between that and “Fuck you!”

Actually, you probably only want to do this with someone you know really well, so as to avoid unexpected consequences.

Actually, you probably shouldn't ever do this. Ever.

The Horror That Is Windows

I've been happily Windows-free ever since I retired a little over ten years ago.

But a few months back I started working at a part time job providing technical support for a software company, and as it turns out many, actually most, of our users are on one flavor or another of Windows.

So I decided that I ought to get a copy of Windows to run in a Virtual Box on my Mac.

The oldest version that Microsoft still supports is Windows 7, so I found a copy for about a hundred bucks on Amazon and ordered it. It arrived on a DVD on Monday, and I installed it without a hitch into a Virtual Box.

But then it came time to enter the Product Key.

I looked all over the packaging but couldn't find it until I realized it was covered with a gray seal, the kind one scratches off lottery tickets. The problem was that in trying to scratch it off, I also scratched off part of the Product Key itself.

I contacted Amazon and they gave me a number to call and said they would let me return it if I couldn't get satisfaction from the manufacturer. Alas, the number they gave was not valid.

So I found a web site for Microsoft technical support. After creating an account, and boy does one have to jump through some hoops to create a Microsoft account, I found myself in a chat with a support person who said he was happy to help me. He asked a lot of questions and when I explained that I couldn't read the Product Key after scratching off the gray, he said he could help me.

But when I said I had installed it in a Virtual Box on my Mac, our connection was broken. Coincidence?

I tried a couple more times on the support site and eventually I found myself on the phone with someone. He seemed pleasant enough, but when I told him that I was unable to read my Product Key because it was damaged when I scratched off the gray, he said he'd have to put me on hold.

When he came back, he said he couldn't help me, that I'd have to go back to the place where I bought it to get a replacement. Although he didn't use the word, he strongly implied that I had a pirated copy.

So I did a Google search on "Windows 7 Product Key", found a site called Product Key Downloader, and bought a $26 license from them. My Product Key arrived within a couple minutes, and I installed it in my copy of Windows without a hitch.

Now my only question is should I return the $100 DVD that I purchased from Amazon?


Frontier Looks Amateurish

I started to watch the Netflix series Frontier, but I was immediately disappointed at the amateurishness of the production.

The first couple titles that serve to provide the viewer with some of the context for the history are in ALL CAPS, making them difficult to read to begin with, and they flash by so quickly, there's barely enough time to read them.

Then there are the place setting titles that appear periodically to let the viewer know where the scene is taking place. Once again they are in ALL CAPS, the font size is way too big, and there are no drop shadows, so they are usually difficult to read. (The screen grab alters the colors a bit, so it doesn't give a true sense of the viewing experience.)

Was the budget so low that they couldn't hire any professional editors to do the job right?

Most Convenient What...?

I do my banking at TD Bank, which likes to bill itself as "America's Most Convenient Bank".

Mostly I use their website, which conveniently lists all my TD Bank accounts in one place, so it's simple to navigate. It even includes the TD Visa Card account that I recently opened.

TD Bank, not necessarily America's most convenient...

One of the benefits that enticed me to sign up for that Visa card was the promise that if I spent $500 in the first few months, I'd get $200 back. Where do I sign?

By adding the card to my Apple Pay account, it didn't take long to rack up the $500 in the first few weeks I had it, since I rarely use cash anymore.

Then the first statement came. It was a paper bill. Via the Post Office. All my other TD accounts are paperless. So I checked online and didn't see any way to switch the account to paperless. Plus, although it showed that I had racked up 20,626 "points", there didn't seem to be anyway to convert those points into cash.

So I called the TD Visa Card help line. The answer turned out to be pretty simple. I couldn't do it at TD Bank's web site. I had to set up a new account at the TD Credit Card Service Online site. It would ask if I'd like to go paperless.

America's Most Convenient Bank was forcing me to create a second account at a different site just so I could get statements online? WTF?

So I went to that site and created an account, and... Oh, but it wasn't that simple. When I tried to create a password, I used LastPass to devise a 12-character, letters-numbers-and-symbols password, as I routinely do.

Uh-uh. America's Most Convenient Bank's Credit Card site didn't want the password to be greater than eight characters and it didn't like those symbols. WTF? Is it still 1995?

So I adjusted LastPass's password parameters and set up the account. And sure enough, the site asked me if I wanted to go paperless. One problem solved.

Now to get that $200 refund. As it turned out, I had to go to yet another site, the TD Cash Rewards site, and set up yet another account there. What. The. Fuck?

Well, I went there. I set up an account and...

But no. America's Most Convenient Bank's Cash Rewards site didn't like the password that LastPass created. Turns out this site requires letters, numbers, and symbols!

So I adjusted the password and tried again. I won't go into all the gory details, but the page kept losing my some of my information every time I hit send. So I had to keep re-entering the credit card number and my email address and the password...

But I did finally get in, and I did finally tell it to credit my account with the $200, at which time it told me it would take five business days to do so. Five business days?

I have a serious problem calling this America's Most Convenient Bank.

Apple Watch's Biggest Flaw



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Corrupt Cop Promoted


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Here's Hoping the Door Hits Its Mark

Professor Krugman expresses his opinion of Andrew Sullivan in his latest blog posting. My take—which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been reading my email for the past few years—is that Sullivan is a hate-filled, pseudo-intellectual who posts mostly incoherent drivel that his fans mistake for erudition; he’s a weather vane who sticks mostly to “conventional wisdom” while occasionally peppering his writings so he can come off like an iconoclast; and he’s a standard-issue racist who deeply believes all non-white “races” are inherently inferior. That every 20 or 50 posts he writes something that is eminently quotable only hi-lights the vapidity of the majority of his work.

I could go on and detail his paranoia, conspiracy mongering, and other crimes against reason, but why bother? I hope the door does hit him on the ass on his way out.