dodgy mechanics – trust your senses!

27 09 2011

about a year ago I need to have the catalytic converter in my car replaced, a not uncommon scenario for a car of its 13+ years age.  they’re expensive buggers, many hundreds of dollars at least, potentially a lot more if you buy (VW) genuine spares.  so i went with the non-genuine.

a new catalytic converter – or at least the one i got – had a very distinctive chemical smell for at least several weeks after it was fitted.

for the last couple of months, i’ve noticed the exhaust getting progressively noisier – that airy hole-in-the-exhaust sound, and in the last couple of weeks a mechanical rattling of something that had presumably come loose.

so last week i booked the car in for a service & also to investigate what was wrong with the exhaust.  at the end of the day the mechanic reported that “the cat had to be replaced, under warranty” (because it was less than a year old, i guess).  beauty, i thought, fixed for nix!

but on the drive home from the shop (and several drives to/from work the rest of the week), it was obvious this supposedly new ‘cat’ was just as airy-noisy as the old one, just without the mechanical rattle.

and there didn’t seem to be the unmistakable smell of the previous replacement cat.

being preoccupied with life, i didn’t think too much about it, and just resigned myself to having them look at it again when it was scheduled to get 4 new tyres this week.

well it would seem i ACTUALLY have a new cat – it’s quiet, AND it smells like a new cat.

i’d previous judged my now-former mechanic to be fairly honest.  their prices have always seemed reasonable (unless spare part prices dictated otherwise).  sometimes they’ve been a bit flaky, but not discernibly dishonest.

this morning when i dropped the car off, the owner/manager was clearly having a heated disagreement with what appeared to be an insurance assessor, assessing a claim seemingly involving an accident in the manager/owner’s now-former business-partner’s car.  he was trying to bulldoze his way past the assessor’s job of working out if the insurer was liable or not, and doing what seemed like a pisspoor job of it – it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

every now and again you get little glimpses into other people’s lives, and sometimes get the impression that their life’s walls are crumbling down before your eyes.


p.s. i AM moving to Sydney!



Dear Dell, You Are Several Kinds Of Idiot

21 07 2011

An email I just sent to Dell:

Dear Dell,

You are several kinds of idiot.

You also appear to think I am an idiot too, which I suppose makes sense given your idiotic disposition.

When I recently asked to buy a caddy for a hard-drive I wished to add to my Dell T410 server, you refused, cowardly hiding behind a  non-technically based “policy” preventing sale of a caddy-only (an item costing around $40), stating they could only be bought with a hard-drive.  So you quoted me one of the more expensive possible SAS hard-drives to accompany my caddy, $590, even though YOU KNEW I didn’t need a HDD and you could have quoted on the cheapest possible SATA HDD.

When I questioned this idiotic requirement, you hide behind “it’s Dell policy”, but are totally unable to explain or justify the policy.  I requested a phone call to discuss this situation, but all I received was another email from a difference faceless name repeating the Dell policy propaganda.  Hiding behind inexplicable policy is the last recourse of a dishonest business model, in this case one based on coercion & exploit of potentially ignorant customers.

I have since sourced a suitable caddy from an eBay seller (brand new, sealed in a box, which suggests Dell caddies CAN be bought without extortion from somewhere), and installed the extra hard-drive (which was originally from another Dell server).

Your idiocy and greed means you now get NOTHING, instead of something, and you should all be ashamed of yourselves for supporting this policy.

Yours sincerely,
On behalf of [REDACTED].

cybernetic yogi

8 04 2011

now for something completely different.  this is a comment i just left on (and if he allows it to be published, i’ll be slightly surprised ;).  quote:

ok so i’m a bit late to the Lets-All-Realise-Everett-Bogue-Is-Suffering-From-Naivety-And-Megalomania Party. that’s fashionable, right?

i’ve been reading some minimalist stuff lately & it’s been impossible to avoid seeing Everett Bogue popping up everywhere.  so i read some of him too.  before too long, i couldn’t shake the impression that Everett Bogue is just another insufficiently read/educated GenYer who thinks he’s the first person to discover something, but had the nous to capitalise on it and get a bunch of Fellow Seekers to pay him to live The Good Life – for the time being at least.

congratulations Mr Bogue, you’re a the top of a tiny pyramid scheme.  you’ve successfully discovered the ‘secret’ of countless shonks before you.

my best friend spent a year traveling the world – minimalist style – in 1996, and maintain that low-possession-count lifestyle in two of Australia’s busiest & most capitalist/consumerist cities, until his untimely death a few years ago.  minimalism wasn’t anything new then, and it sure as frak isn’t anything new now, although for sure the lessons can be carried into the digital realm.

but inherent in that low-possession-count ethos was an underlying reliance on other people’s possessions typically via living in a room with other housemates WHO PROVIDED MOST OF THE FURNITURE. and fridge. and ice cube trays.  when we took a holiday in Byron Bay, who do you think brought the beach towels?!!

Everett brags about how little he owns on his site.  i couldn’t help but notice there’s no refrigerator.  or beanbag.  who supplies those?  i’m guessing someone else.  that’s not minimalism, that’s an externality of the likes that any economic rationalist would be very proud. ? no, fuck you, Mr Bogue.  i understood the core of (and resonated with) minimalism from one brief conversation with my best friend 15 years ago.  i didn’t need to (and thankfully now can’t) spend $17 on your ebook to tell me what can be gleaned – for free – from hundreds of honest, well-meaning people.

and us$47 for your Minimalist Business ebook? yer kidding right?  i haven’t bought an ebook for more than $15 from highly talented writers who had something NEW to say.  no surprise you ignored my tweet politely asking why Minimalist Business cost so much.  so much for Twitter being the best way to communicate with you.

as for this $25/month cybernetic yogi shit, omg, that’s where you really lost me. as above, just another GenY kid so far up his own fundamental orifice he can’t see that he’s stumbled on what’s already been discovered long ago.  the abundance of nonsense cyber-infused new-age terminology won’t work on those who’ve seen it all before.  Facebook out – Twitter in?  fuck me, you sound like a vacuous fashion queen of the most objectionable kind.

Everett Bogue IS what i consider convergence; or history repeating itself, depending on how generous you feel today.

p.s. contrary to you bragging about your google rank for ‘cybernetic yogi’ etc, this ( site and 4 others ripping you a new one, were the first 5 hits when i googled “cybernetic yogi”. i pray that when i click on Image search i’ll see a cartoon Yogibear who’s been altered by the Borg.



Are you on an Optus Mobile contract & want out?

14 08 2009

*edit* this post refers ONLY to a narrow window of opportunity to cancel your Optus Mobile contract without penalty back in August/September 2009, so it’s likely of no value to you now.

are you fed up with Optus (Mobile) & want out, but locked into a 24month contract with massive early cancellation penalty? well here’s your free chance out!

Optus have added clause 5.2A(personal)/5.3(business) to their SFOA – Standard Form Of Agreement – covering most pre- & post-paid mobile customers.  if, like many, you object to it, they have the obligation to allow you to end the contract without “early termination fees”.

you only pay for outstanding calls, and however many months worth of handset repayments you have left (if any – some people choose to pay up-front, or higher monthly without handset fees). for me that’s 12 or 13 months x ~$7 = $84, which is 10% of the early termination fee that would ALSO apply if YOU (or I) were in breach of contract. but in this case, it’s Optus who are.

the change they made (effective 12 August 09) is to block you from calling certain Optus mobile numbers – numbers that happen to be used by cheap international calling services, which is just plain anticompetitive. but the SFOA change is so vaguely worded it could be applied to ANY ph# they choose in future. even if you’ve never used such a service before, they are negatively materially impacting the terms of their contract with you for the remainder period of your contract, and you are at liberty to cancel it without early-cancellation-penalty.

their obligations under the SFOA give you until Friday 4th September to object and cancel (without penalty) before they consider you to have agreed with the new terms.

if you cancel in this way, you’ll probably have the choice to revert to a month-to-month arrangement (as would happen automatically when a contract runs out) and consider your options, or cancel immediately & go elsewhere (probably needs a 1 month notice anyway?).

if you call and eventually convince them to cancel your contract without penalty, i urge you to call again a few days later, or at least a few days before your next billing period begins, and confirm that your account has in fact been marked for contract cancellation without penalty.  Optus use one of the oldest tricks – they say “yes, sir” on the phone, but do nothing at their keyboard.  when your next bill arrives you realise nothing’s been done, you’re still in contract, but now the deadline for objecting to the new terms has passed.  when i called a 2nd time, the CS rep knew nothing of what i was talking about, i was still in-contract with no indication i was cancelling – i had to explain again, be put on hold, then received a confirmation/reference number.

i was told each time that the early-cancellation penalty will still appear on my bill, but i have to call up to have it credited before paying it.  naturally i expect that CS rep to say “sorry sir, you’ve asked to cancel your contract, the early termination penalty applies” and have to explain it all again.  but hopefully that’ll be the final moment of victory.

after swearing i’d never go back to Telstra for anything (other than this barely-used land-line for ADSL), and i may yet go elsewhere, i never thought a Telstra competitor – Optus – could become so unpalateable that they made Telstra look appealing.  things must be getting tight on the Optus books…

Why can I still not get ADSL2+ via Internode / Agile in Northcote exchange?

6 04 2009

Look at this sorry history for Agile (aka Internode’s infrastructure parent company), who’ve clearly been trying to get their ADSL2+ infrastructure into my Northcote exchange for more than 18 months:

Internode, like all ISPs, must first decide if they have a ‘business case’ for installing their own ADSL infrastructure into an exchange.  Only then can they begin what is clearly an arduous process.  Internode decided on 5 September 2007 that they DID have a business case, and from that point on, have every incentive to do so promptly.

TWO DAYS LATER they changed status to ‘Removed’, and based on what I’ve read for years on this issue, were presumably denied ‘space’ in the exchange by Telstra.

15th April 2008, more than 7 MONTH later, they had another crack at it – based on what change in circumstances I don’t know, but I’m guessing at some stage Telstra said “OK, try again, sucker”.

Then, not until 12th January 2009, ANOTHER NINE MONTHS LATER, did it move from In Build-Waiting (for other competitors to gain glacial sequential access to the exchange), to In Build.  Hoo-fucking-ray.

If you’re wondering why, have a read of Simon Hacket’s (Internode’s MD) answers to many common questions about this shambolic state of affairs caused largely by Telstra (but only for competitors, Bigpond seem to get clear fast access to exchanges when they need):

Who knows how much longer I’ll have to wait for it to become active, before having to run the gauntlet of the DSLAM running out of ports due to the sudden exodus of Internode customers from the Telstra DSLAM to the Internode DSLAM.  Or perhaps it’ll transpire like it did when I lived in Windsor/Prahran until late 2005, only to see the Agile DSLAM there come online within a few month after I’d moved elsewhere.

I’m simply astonished that this crap has been allowed to happen for so many years.  Where’s the ACCC in all this?  Still asleep?  They’re clearly not looking after my interests on this issue.

Telstra obtained the vast majority of its copper network, and the exchange buildings they all connect to, on MY DIME, and those of my parents & grand-parents (and you & yours) BEFORE they were progressively privatised.  It is PUBLIC property (that should have access granted by an independent body) – or at least should have been deemed so, and that is where this whole farce had its genesis.  ‘Cuz a privatised Telstra with its network owned intact was supposed to be good for competition, right?  Wrong again…  Fucked over by powerful vested interests, again…

Apple Software Updater (for Windows) is still a deceptive turd.

27 03 2009

‘Bout a year ago there was a hullabaloo when Apple decided to force their Safari web-browser onto anyone who had other Apple software (for Windows) installed – like Quicktime & iTunes (which bazillions of Windows users have because they own iPods), by automatically pre-selecting it for installation amongst updates to the already-installed software.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realise what they were aiming for – ordinary computer users (especially Windows users) don’t usually pay much attention to the details of such prompts, they’ve been dumbed down (by necessity) to just click yes to software update offers.  Next thing you know, you’re using Safari instead of whatever browser was the default before.  Nice one Apple.  As a sysadmin for several client’s networks, this is a friggen PITA at best – very few ordinary Windows users *ACTUALLY* invited you in.

In response to the justified outcry, they added a facility to exclude any offered item from current & future update offers.  Seems fair, right?  But to use said feature, you first have to UNtick the ones you DO want, TICK the ones you DON’T want, then drill into a menu to say “don’t offer me these updates again”, then then REtick the updates you need.  Are you fucken kidding me, Apple?!?

But wait, it gets worse – there’s yet another major disingenuous aspect to this new ‘feature’:

Apple Software Updater remembers your selections only on a per-user basis, not – as it should be – a system-wide basis.  So if a different user is in control when the scheduled check for updates next runs, all the unwanted software is offered again, ticked on for installation, by default.  Great… :(

I also suspect that when any product moves up a full 1.0 version increment, it’s again offered, despite previous instruction not to.  We’ll see very soon when Safari 4 comes out of beta…

You don’t fool me, Apple.  FUCK OFF with your insidious worming your way into my client’s systems.  It’s hard enough to administer flocks of “dumb users” without their default browser being switched out from under them (which can have major consequences for some sites – particularly intranet sites in business that require specific browser brands/versions), or MobileMe Control Panel or Bonjour being needlessly installed.

The deliberate cunning behind how Apple Software Updater for Windows works in its fine detail is a clear display of Apple’s uglier side.  Shame on you Apple, it’s just plain deceptive & dishonest, and very Microsoftish.  Mozilla worked their butt off to get Firefox to where it is in market share, and they earned every % of it honestly.

Optus – Credit where credit is due!

29 11 2008

In response to my tiraed to Optus, I received an SMS:

“Hi, received your letter.for coverage issues on iphone plz contact iphone tech support on 133713.have credited $59 as g/will.-Optus, Chintu”

Well, short but sweet.  Thankyou Optus, the credit is appreciated.  I’ll call that number next week and see what news I can get on my speed & coverage issues.