Kelly Clarkson & Bo Bice – real talent?!

I have a little secret – I like American Idol.  Many of my friends are shocked at this, and some are disappointed (a couple of musicians in that group!). 
 
Those of you who believe that American Idol’s winners are crap should listen to Kelly Clarkson’s live version of Beautiful Disaster – sung with just a piano for accompaniment.  That, along with Bo Bice’s (2nd place finisher last year) acapella rendition of "Within a dream" will give you goosebumps. 
 
Damn good talent.  The second Bo gets an album out, I’m buying it, RIAA antics be damned.  Heck, I might even go to a concert featuring him.

Customer service is not completely dead

Frequenly I find myself lamenting the death of customer service.  There are too many places and people who act as if a customer is a hassle, not an asset.
 
So, I’ve decided to call out those companies that do a good job.
 
First up on my list is AVSmarts.com.  Many moons ago I ordered some home theater parts from them, and due to the their handling of my first order, I’ve placed several others with them.
 
What did they do so right?  Well, after placing the order online, with overnight shipping, one of the guys from there called me and said that since they were actually pretty close to my location (within a hundred miles or so), they wanted to suggest that I change the shipping from overnight to ground – I’d get it in the same amount of time, and save some money.
 
That, my friends, is customer service.
 
The bad news is that when I went to their site today, it appears to be being reconstructed.  My guess is that due to some problems they had with what appeared to be a home grown application, they have decided to move to Yahoo stores…  I hope they come out the other side of the conversion better than ever!
 

HD DVD and Microsoft

Tom’s Hardware has a very interesting article up about Microsoft’s recent decision to adopt HD DVD rather than Blu Ray.
 
I have kind of ignored the whole debate, but recently it has become clear that Blu Ray is truly dedicated to controlling content even more than DVD’s do today and to the complete exclusion of consumers interests.  For example, if a Blu Ray key is cracked so that a disc could be copied and played "illegally" (whatever that means in the world of Blu Ray), another disc released at a later date can update the key list to make that (bad) disc no longer play.  Yeah, you know what?  I don’t care for that.  I used to buy all my DVD’s (over 300 to date) and now I use Netflix,  but I’m not planning on letting *that* backdoor into my systems, even if I have to do without disc based movies.
 
There is an implicit contract between consumers of entertainment and the providers of it.  While some consumers have run off the rails "stealing" music, the providers are really going too far.  The next few years are going to be both fascinating and ugly.  The providers will inevitably lose the arms race with the ‘hackers’, but while they are fighting it, we consumers are going to have to deal with all sorts of stupidity and collateral damage.
 
Who is representing us?  Funny, based on the article above, it looks like Microsoft might be, at least a bit…
<EDIT>

I’m in some sort of purgatory

I woke up at about 2:45 this morning, and I haven’t been able to get back to sleep.  There are thunderstorms rolling through, which initially woke me up, but it gets much more complicated than that.
 
I recently returned from the Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles.  After coming back from there, my sleep patterns have been a mess.  Before last night, I didn’t get to bed until 2am.  So last night I was asleep by about 9pm.  So far, so good.
 
However, also last night, we had our carpets cleaned.  While I was at work my girlfriend moved all the stuff in the house (relax, it’s a small house, and not much stuff) into various hidey holes so that it wouldn’t be on the carpet.  It will take another day or so before the carpets are really dry enough to move everything back to where it belongs.
 
Well, as it turns out, when I went to go take a shower at 3:15 this morning, I couldn’t make it to the shower without removing at least three chairs, one game table thingy and an ottoman from the main bathroom.  Not a big deal, but impossible to do without waking her up.  I then thought about just going to work without a shower (ugh), but then I figured out that I can’t make it to the closet either to get to a clean set of clothes.  Then I thought about just going into work in last nights clothes (it just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?), and remembered that we had dinner at Gators, our local dive bar in Wheeling, and my clothes smell like smoke – so no wearing those – I hate the smell of cigarrette smoke.
 
So here I sit, on the couch with the laptop on my, uh, lap, unable to sleep, shower or get dressed.  The alarm will go off at 5am, but until then, I guess I have to just wait. 
 
Today is going to suck.

Looking for a good place to donate for Katrina relief?

http://www.angelflightamerica.org

Flying your own airplane for this sort of thing incurs a lot of costs beyond fuel.  By contributing to Angel Flight America, you can at least help them with their fuel costs.  They are still spending a lot of money (and their time naturally) shuttling food and supplies to the effected areas.

The TicketWeb Privacy Policy

So, you’ve decided to buy tickets for some event over the Internet.  Think that when you opt out of receiving a ton of spam, you’re actually opting out?
 
Take a look at the "Privacy" Policy on TicketWeb.com:

Regardless of whether you elect to receive emails from TicketWeb, by purchasing a ticket to an event, you indicate that you consent to the TicketWeb Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Will Call and Refund Policy, you consent to TicketWeb sharing your email address and other information with those who bring you the event (e.g., venues, teams, artists, promoters and leagues), and you consent to those who bring you the event using your information to contact you by email or other means to send you marketing or other messages or using or disclosing your information in other ways. Please contact them directly to learn about their policies.

 

The only thing their privacy policy does is tell you that you have none, and your information is as good as sold to the nearest spammer.

 

Nice safe neighborhood we have here on the Internet, eh?

I’m conflicted about MSN Spaces

Right now I’m running my blog on .Text, which is fine and dandy, but sometimes I think that it would be nice to not have to deal with worrying about backing up the server, making sure it’s upgraded to all the latest code and whatnot.

One thing that would be nice to know is if we can determine just how many users have visited my ‘space’.  Also, I’ll have to check this out under Firefox, as I hate using IE for just about anything anymore.

One other thing that needs to be resolved is MSN’s terms of service which pretty much claim ownership of everything I put up here.  I understand what they were trying to accomplish (protecting themselves and allowing them to make backups and such without being worried about someone claiming that they’re stealing someones stuff – exactly what they’re being accused of now!), and they need to fix their agreement asap.

Oh well, that’s enough of an incoherent ramble, I’m off to learn more about MSN Spaces!