A question for Microsoft

I’ve experimented with Microsoft’s "Live" search (remind me to go on a rant some other time about the stupidity of naming everything "Live" – shades of ".NET" eh?) and I keep going back to Google.
 
One thing on Live Search that I’ve found that I really don’t like is the use of a redirection page.  If you run a search on Google for, say, "Cars", the first non sponsored entry is Cars.com.  If you look at the URL that you would be going to when you click on the Cars.com entry, you’ll see that it points you to "http://www.cars.com".  If you run the same search on Live Search (or whatever it’s called, there’s actually no branding on the page except for Live Beta), you’ll find that a subsite of Cars.com (for Central Arizona) is the first link.  If you look at the URL that you would be going to if you clicked the link, you’ll see that it starts with "http://g.msn.com"  and after that follows a lot of other stuff, including somewhere nested in there, a redirect to the actual site.
 
What does this mean in the real world? 
Two things:
1) Apparently Microsoft is tracking which items you visit from the searches.  I doubt this is being done for "evil" purposes, probably just to improve their search results. 
2) Clicking on a link from the Live site is slower than clicking on one from Google.  When you click on one from Google, you go straight to the site.  When you click on it from MSN, er, Live it is much slower as the request first goes to an MSN server and then you are redirected to the target site, resulting in several unnecessary round trips.
 
Item #2 (along with the worse results, an Arizona subsite of Cars.com is the first link?) is enough to keep me on Google.  Keep trying Microsoft!
 
– Eric.
 
PS: While scrolling through the Live result set in order to see if a bug with going "back" in the browser when using their site had been fixed, it crashed IE.
 

Arrived in Tampa, beginning to lose weight through evaporation

The trip to the Tampa area was pretty uneventful.  Except for being tailgated once by a crazy woman in the mountains and Deb nearly getting sideswiped, the trip went smoothly and exactly as planned.
 
The weather down here is quite nice, but it is going to take some time getting used to the humidity.  While I used to live down in Florida, it was a long time ago and I’m pretty sure that they have found a way to cram more humidity into the air than the last time I was here.
 
We’re still waiting for a our stuff to show up.  It was supposed to be here on Thursday, but we got a call Wednesday from the driver that it would be Saturday now before he could deliver.  Hopefully that is the last delay.  It will be nice to sleep on our own bed rather than an air mattress! 
 
 

How Verizon forced my business to Cingular and lost thousands

As part of moving down to the Tampa area and setting up a new business, we wanted some new phones.  We wanted a phone that was also a PDA, ran Windows Mobile 5 (as I’m a developer on Windows and I want to play in that new environment using .net) and most importantly, we could be used as a network access tool for our notebooks. 
 
The reason that is important is that a large part of what we’re doing down in Tampa is on site and remote support for IT users and if one of the problems we’re fixing (or creating!) is preventing access to the Internet, we need to be able to get there from our notebooks.
 
We really liked the idea of the EVDO (no link as they don’t have a simple explanatory page on their website, only links to bundles of services) network that Verizon has for their phones.  It’s very fast, which is obviously very good.  So we went to a local Verizon store to purchase a couple XV6700 phones, and sign up with the EVDO unlimited data access plan. 
 
Things started to go from good to bad pretty quickly.  We were greeted at the door by a person who’s job was apparently to use the kiosk to queue us for access to a salesrep.  We’ll call the greeter Mr. Stoner. Mr. Stoner asked us how he could help us.  We thought he was a sales rep, so we told him we were Sprint customers and wanted to know if they had a plan similar to what we had with Sprint.  He promptly turned to the kiosk, and started punching buttons.  He punched in that we were existing Verizon customers, got to the phone number field, realized that he didn’t have it, punched the cancel button, repeated hitting the Verizon customer button, skipped the phone number field, and told us to just wait and someone would be with us shortly.  However, Mr. Stoner signed us up for the customer service section of the store, not the sales section!  After we were called by customer service and told them that we didn’t know why we were there as we were not customers, they queued us up for the sales department.
 
We finally got called by a salesrep.  We carefully explained what we wanted (the specific phones, plans and services) and he began waiving a brochure in our face.  As we began discussing the plans, he pointed out that with each plan, we got two free phones.  Twice we had to explain to him that we didn’t want the free phones, we wanted the XV6700 phone.  Later on he told us that with the plans we were getting, we would get $100 off each phone, and then even later again mentioned the free phones again.  Apparently this rep was sharing with Mr. Stoner.
 
Finally, while questining the salesrep, we discovered that Verizon disables their phones ability to be used as a "modem" through Bluetooth or even a USB cable.  However, they’d be more than happy to sell us a separate PC Card and data plan in addition to the ones with our phones.
 
This was the last straw.  We left, went to a Cingular booth, and purchased their 8125 phone, which while it doesn’t have access to a super fast data network, it can be used as a "modem" by a notebook or PC using Bluetooth. 
 
The experience at the booth could not have been different.  When we walked up the sales guy (we’ll call him Mr. Professional) was busy with another customer.  We walked around and when we saw the phone in the display case, we mentioned something about it to each other.  Mr. Professional overheard us, took a second away from his current customer (while they were playing with a phone) and took out a boxed phone and gave it to us to play with while he was finishing up with his other customer. 
 
When he was done with that customer, he was attentive, well informed, friendly and funny.  Within 10 minutes we had the whole transaction taken care of, and he suggested that we come back in an hour so he could finish setting up the phones properly.  We went to run a few errands, came back, got our phones as promised and left as happy customers.
 
So, Verizon, while you have a better data access network, your locking down of the phone’s abilities in order to try to drive additional revenue and hiring stoned employees, has backfired, costing you thousands in long term revenue and driving us into the arms of a competitor, proving that "you sir, are dumber than me!" (chorus: "Yes you are!").
 
PS: That dumber than me refernce is for those Dot Net Rocks listeners out there.