Category Archives: dirtbags

Expedia Untrustworthy: my frustrating encounter at a Holiday Inn Express in Gridley, California

My stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Gridley (Oroville Lake) wasn’t particularly terrible. However, during the checkout process, something incredibly bothersome occurred: they adamantly refused to provide a printed receipt (folio). The counter agent simply refused, conveniently attributing it to management’s decision.

It’s possible that this nonsensical decision stemmed from misguided management. I don’t hold the agent responsible for following instructions. Nonetheless, two aspects make this situation particularly irksome:

Firstly, I understand why financial departments require receipts: scammers exist. Secondly, they lied about sending me an email receipt.

Anyone can make a reservation, receive the email confirmation, print it out, present it to the finance department for reimbursement, and then cancel the reservation. Financial departments are aware of this, which is why they rightfully demand proof of actual hotel stays. The receipt (folio) contains the final charges and the checkout date.

The Holiday Inn Express in Gridley, California, flat out refused to provide me with the receipt/folio: all because someone wanted to save a penny on a piece of paper.

This would have been less troublesome if they had actually sent me the email receipt as promised. However, they failed to do so. I highly doubt that the agent knew for sure—she was probably instructed to inform customers that they would receive an email.

To clarify, the email receipt did not end up in my junk mail folder. I’ve been an email administrator for twenty years. I ought to be able to figure that out, no?

This ordeal frustrated me to the point that I decided to leave a negative review on Expedia. That’s when I discovered that Expedia allows property owners to censor the reviews they display. Each time I submitted a review, I received a rejection message claiming it was unacceptable. I tried toning it down and making it friendlier, but it still didn’t meet their standards. Only after significantly revising it did they finally accept it.

The most valuable lesson I learned from this experience is that Expedia’s review system is untrustworthy. I have no intention of ever using their service again.

At Microsoft, some stupid people are in charge

I got prompt to try out the New Outlook (preview release). Sure, why not? Probably some of our clients are going to upgrade, and it would be good to know ahead of time what they will encounter.

I chose the button to “switch” and got a prompt to import the old settings. Sure, go for it. I got a progress bar as it imported.

I don’t know if Microsoft invented the progress bar; probably it was on the Apple Lisa (and before that, the Xerox Alto). The first one I ever saw was on Windows, though. They are fundamentally a good idea, and a kindness to the user. “We know this is taking a while, so here’s an estimate of how long it’s going to take, with real time updates.”

And they can be tough to do, too. The amount of time it takes to project when a thing is done isn’t necessarily known ahead of time. Just figuring how long something might take could be as long as simply doing the thing. If you have to traverse a list to find out how long the list is, and the amount of time to work on each item in the list is small, you might have been better off just working the list in the first traversal, and not bothering with the progress bar.

Turns out, the “progress bar” in the new Outlook import settings dialog box is not a progress bar at all. It’s a flag wave. It does nothing except to waste your time and try to keep your attention.

Back in the 1990’s, there was a Spanish language television show, the Xuxa Show, which used to employ people to stand in the background and slowly wave flags. That’s all they did. You could tell the flag wavers were bored. They needed to keep the flags (slowly) waving, but they brought nothing to the show except (visual) background noise. It was known that people’s attention can be grabbed by seeing movement. Since the show was aimed at children, the audience was known to have short attention spans. How to increase attention? Wave a flag.

It’s stupid, but it works.

Someone at Microsoft decided that this import settings dialog box should have a flag wave; but wait – we’ll make it even better: we’ll disguise it as a progress bar!

The flag wave kind of an insult to the audience though. You aren’t worth actual content, but we want to keep you staring at the screen, so here’s a waving flag. I also see this in a lot of news type television shows, where the camera slowly slides around or gradually zooms in. It’s like the Ken Burn’s Effect, except they attempt to be so slow that you don’t notice it consciously. When I do notice it, I’m annoyed. It’s a cheap trick and an insult.

So I’m annoyed that someone at Microsoft proposed a flag wave instead of a progress bar, and, they disguised it as a progress bar, and no-one at Microsoft has enough respect for their end users to say “stop it!”

The year 2022: Late stage 2021 but with new, higher prices

h/t to one of Scott Adams Twitter followers, responding to a challenge to summarize 2022 in the snarkiest way possible.

The whole thing is a psy op run by incompetents at behest of elites inflicted upon the aimless. It came about through sixty years of indoctrination: “Buy this shit from our advertiser; that will make you happy.”

Microsoft is bad at software

These past few years at work, we moved from Novell to Microsoft. It has definitely been a move for the worse.

NovellFeature -poorHigh qualityLow expenseSecurity: low profile
MicrosoftFeature -richLow qualityHigh expenseSecurity: target rich environment
Comparison between Novell and Microsoft

I’m just going to say that I dearly love (not):

  1. That Exchange Online has a new command New-DistributionGroup -RoomList which cannot be seen in New feature? Microsoft says Yay! Actually making it available to end user administrators? Ain’t no-one got time for that. Certainly this has been vetted thoroughly for security, too.
  2. Exchange Online –> Mail Flow –> Connectors –> Status set to “Off” does nothing. Mail still kept going to the partner, a week later.
  3. Set-Place command for adding the rooms to the RoomList – error! No worky! How to fix? Reboot the PC I was trying to run the PowerShell script on. Now it works. This is just so impressive. Have you tried turning it off and back on again? It’s two decades into the 21st Centrury – shouldn’t someone up there be ashamed?
  4. User asks for help, so I get delegate rights to her mailbox. The delegates rights are present (I run a script to check) but never did her mailbox populate so I could see what was going on in her mailbox. I deleted my own OST cache file just to make sure it wasn’t my machine. Ultimately, I had to use Outlook Web Access to see her mailbox.
    1. Every week we get multiple help desk tickets about folders not populating or visible for delegates.
  5. Exchange search is awful. Admittedly, I am coming from a GroupWise experience where search was great. But as important as search is, I would have thought that Microsoft could at least have pulled off “competent” – nope. I particularly like (not) that OWA has a drop-down for “search all folders” but the search only searches the current folder. What a bunch a maroons.

These were all in the last three days. I’ve seen nothing but this sort of low quality software for so many months now. Don’t even get me started on SharePoint.

Don’t forget – Microsoft will break your stuff if you do business with a competitor.

Dear Lord I wish I could retire tomorrow.

Microsoft the abusive boyfriend rehashed

As I mentioned before, I intensely disliked Microsoft under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. That post was a record of six times that Microsoft shipped code to fuck over you and me, if you were a customer of particular Microsoft partners. I should have included IBM OS/2, which was another case way back when.

Actually, since then another one popped up. Microsoft shipped code to all their partners for quality assurance testing – everything worked fine – and then at the last minute, they made a change and shipped. The monthly updates then happened to “accidentally” wipe out the user’s ZENworks configuration, with less than one week’s notice.

But I want to go back and rehash the underlying problem.

Microsoft won.

It won by beating your daughter for looking at another guy.

What type of morality did Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer maintain, that it was acceptable to them to ship code that deliberately fucks over their customers who happen to also be customers of other companies?

Some of those companies were actual partners, too. I remember hearing management at Novell saying “When it comes down to it, we are a Windows software publisher.” The bulk of their products were MS Windows applications and the systems to wrangle them.

That Microsoft would backstab it’s partners was my point about LIM EMS. LIM = Lotus, Intel, Microsoft. EMS = Expanded Memory Specification. The original PC’s had very real memory limitations. There was a desperate need for machines to have more memory, and for programmers to be able to access it. So Lotus Development got together with Intel and Microsoft, and they hashed out a spec that programmers could use. They published the spec. Programmers (including the programmers at Lotus) started writing to the spec.

Suddenly, your spreadsheet could have more than 80 rows and 10 columns.

If you were doing a lot of “what if” calculations back then, the memory constraints that 640 KB imposed on you were huge. Everyone needed this problem solved, if the Personal Computer wasn’t going to remain an expensive toy.

The Personal Computer went from a toy to a useful tool. Everyone won. Intel sold more chips, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, PC’s Limited (later became Dell), Gateway 2000 – they all sold computers, and Microsoft sold a license to DOS with every one of them. Lotus sold a copy of 1-2-3 to 90% of the PC buyers, because that was the point.

Sure, the “what if” calculations had been done for decades: by hand. It was a miserable process. Suddenly, “what if?” was done in minutes, and then seconds, and then milliseconds!

Maybe I need a $5,000 loan, and the bank will let me borrow and pay it back over 60 months at a 10.5% interest. What if I can come up with $300 so I only need to borrow $4,700, and, pay it back over 63 months instead? Do I save money? What does the monthly payment look like?

What about paying $4,700 back over 60 months, but paying an 11% rate? Do I save money? What does the monthly payment look like?

By hand, the formula is Principle + Interest – Payment => Balance. The next row’s Principle is the previous row’s Balance. A five year loan is “only” 60 rows. A 30 year mortgage is 360 rows. How much did it cost you? Sum the Interest column. Yes, you can do it by hand. But it is drudge work.

Lotus 1-2-3 made number crunching magic happen. Microsoft benefited from vastly expanded PC sales.

And then Microsoft saw you spending money with Lotus. You’re looking at another guy, and, spending money with him.

Time to pick a fight, beat your face, and strangle your neck. Or in Microsoft’s case, change the rules by shipping changed code and (surprise!) crashing your program.

“But, baby, I wouldn’t have to beat you up if you didn’t spend with other guys! I love you so much! It’s your fault that I care so much.”

Or, cutting away the bullshit, Microsoft was evil. Harming it’s customers so that it could destroy it’s competing partners was always on the table.

And eventually, Microsoft won. Or are you still using Lotus 1-2-3 today? OS/2? WordPerfect? NetWare?

(UPDATE: Delta eventually did the right thing)Airline travel insurance is a scam – we should never have bailed out AIG

Important follow up to this post.

I had bought a ticket to Detroit back in September, and I did buy travel insurance. The insurance company, AIG, played me for a sucker. That is a lesson learned.

The event I was going to attend was cancelled due to the pandemic. This is pretty much the definition of unforeseen event I had no power over; or in other words, the reason one buys insurance.

AIG however, is saying that Delta has offered me a credit to use in the near future, therefore I have not suffered a loss, so go kick rocks, stupid.

The event was cancelled, and it is only held once every five years. The next one won’t be in Detroit, either.

I have zero plans to fly anywhere in the next, well, ever. I mean, it could happen. The last time I flew, it was to attend a funeral. So maybe if someone in my circle of friends gets deathly ill, I’ll need to fly. But those are anti-plans.

The deceit AIG and Delta are implementing here is that a flight to anywhere is as valuable as a flight to a specific place at specific dates – which I am now denied the opportunity to, because of things beyond my control. I cannot wave a magic wand and recreate this event some time in the future.

I’m just out the money. Salt in the wound is that I stupidly paid an additional fee for insurance for the flight.

It was a mistake to bail out “too big to fail AIG”. I hope when it comes time to bail out Delta, we refuse that. And if AIG can suffer some amazing losses, that would make me smile too. Certainly I will try to never be a customer of either of them, ever, in the future.