Thursday, June 29, 2006


I am not feeling too up, lately. The first two weeks on the phones is up, and I have taken quite a beating. The most important thing is refund rate: Dell on Call is a satisfaction guaranteed service, and the goal is one or less refunds a week.

Well, Monday was a two-refund day. Basically, when someone has a disk drive with NO C:\ PARTITION left, we are in data recovery territory, and DR is a no-win situation. Basically, no one in the industry will guarantee your data can be recovered and I can say, with little fear of correction, that the chances of me pulling your data off a HDD with a messed up partition if YOU REFUSE to purchase Partition Doctor is about a million to one.

I know that I, in effect, have to sell this solution but I have a hard time in sales. I will blog more here but I am really just stressed out from my learning curve and wanting only to veg lately. I will be better in the future.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gore Vidal was right

WARNING: politics

“Thus the honest man has a reputation as a liar.”

I do not have Gore Vidal’s United States here with me, but I do remember something he wrote: the individual stories of history are largely an amalgam of facts accepted as genuine by a shifting majority. This was not some deconstructionist diatribe, rather Gore was resignedly accepting, among the controversies over his novel Lincoln, that his contemporaries’ self-serving gossip was being taken as fact. (Gore did not understand how Truman Capote, by far the worst offender, could never bring his astonishing gift of fabulism to his actual fiction.)

Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi is dead, and Nick Berg's father says:

“Zarqawi felt my son’s breath on his hand as held the knife against his throat. Zarqawi had to look in his eyes when he did it,” Berg added, pausing to collect himself. “George Bush sits there glassy-eyed in his office with pieces of paper and condemns people to death. That to me is a real terrorist.”

In other news, the Donner family, late of the infamous Donner party, was stranded with a broken axle twenty-one miles behind the cannibals in the main party, munching on wildlife, roots and the family dog.

People do like to note that three-quarters of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi-born. No one likes to note that the Saudis had already exiled half of them from the kingdom. Zarqawi was Jordanian, as was Abu Nidal, and the kingdom of Jordan wanted them both dead, and performed valuable field assists to the American effort to bring a thousand pounds of high explosives to Zarqawi. Both countries are valuable American allies. Both have problems. Both are far less dysfunctional than, say, Egypt or Iran. Or, for that matter, Ba’athist Iraq or the Afghani Taliban.

Accepted facts. Handle with care.

All weakness tends to corrupt; impotence corrupts absolutely. — Spalding Gray

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hooray and ugh

Today I learned that the people behind the lighttpd web server wrote the entire thing in K&R C, that is, they wrote without function prototypes so that the compiler has no idea where any given function should be found, nor what arguments it takes. Dennis Ritchie, though noting that ANSI-style declarations are a bit clumsy, approved of function protypes.

Some people are on crack.

In happier news, I scored a 92% on my final at Dell. For the rest of the week, I'll be on the phones from ten to seven p.m. The test took out four people from my class, and we are now down to seventeen.

Lord knows I should have recopied my notes in preparation for tomorrow, but I found Ian's copy of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and watched that instead. Existential tragedy makes me smile.

Our trainer, Gene, was really good. He is just a fun guy, and really good at teaching. We had a couple reps come in from the floor who really knew what they were talking about, but Gene really just got us moving. Someone once said that was Patton’s true talent: talented at tactics and strategy, but a genius for shoving the whole thing in motion. Gene did that well. 16MB MP4 of Snow-bo 5MB Quicktime of the same movie

Heh heh. I also got him to show the film linked to above (the latter has a bit about the film) today after the final. He thought it was funny, if a little twisted. Which, of course, it is, heh.

I got my oil changed. I also put in a new air filter. No news yet on any possible action by the apartments on my unauthorized sublet. We shall see.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

“Time and love have branded me with their claws”

This morning we had our first hailstorm since my arrival. The hail was small, about a quarter inch or so in size. I know a guy who does vinyl siding and he said all his work was repairing hail damage. Hmmm. I knew I needed an umbrella, but now I know I need one made with aluminum mesh rather than polyester.

Last night at midnight Baptist Keith turned twenty-one. He celebrated by going out and buying a single twenty-four ounce beer. The Captain and Tennille came out just to see him drink it. It was rather funny.

My car is halfway unpacked now. The interior is empty but I need to clean out the trunk, which can wait until everything I have dragged upstairs is put away.

I have been very busy with various things, some of them useful. First up, I now have a monitor for my computer. It is Dad's old Macintosh monitor. It used a cable with a DB-15 plug, which is to say it was a plug with fifteen pins in two rows of eight and seven. PCs use an HD-15, with three rows of five.

Why yes, getting them to talk to each other took a bit of persuading.

Running Gentoo Linux, as I do, I have had to run about two hundred package upgrades that have accumulated over the last two months.

The truly sad thing is that not buying a $30 used monitor may have cost me quite a bit more. I got nabbed by the police Thursday night.

As most of you know, I have been using the Activity Center computers to post to this blog, read and send email, what have you. I once saw a cop down there using the computer: badge, uniform, gun and all (everything but his hat). He never paid attention to me. Sadly, Thursday night he chased a bunch of non-residents out of the pool; not that I care, but I had just walked up with a cigarette and he asked me a few questions.

I was unaware that he was a resident of the complex, that he was, in effect, the "house cop". Mixing public law enforcement with private contracts is a bit of dirty pool, in my opinion. Had a manager grilled me, I would have cheerfully lied through my teeth but as it is, I try not to lie to cops.

So the policeman (who is not your friend) went and got a manager, who informed me that subletting was going to be expensive. I suppose that my sublessor and I shall split the cost, but it is going to be expensive.


In other news, there is one heck of an ant infestation in the kitchen, because Certain People can not be convinced that ant colonies send out scouts who look for crumbs (or entire pizzas left on the counter) and that they invariably bring the whole worker colony along for the food.

Last week we had our first session on the phones. For my first call I got to help a guy take about twenty-five screws out of his laptop to yank the whole thing apart so the plug of the touchpad, the mouse-like apparatus, could be removed and reinserted. I was sweating the whole time, but it worked. Dell will be hiring up to a thousand people for our call center over the next year, so I am hoping for a permanent position here so long as I am not an outright danger to my callers.

Monday we take the final. Tuesday through Friday we take calls on the floor under the eyes of the trainers, then we get rotated out into our stations. I took the time to locate mine, it is right next to the windows. I am a bit scared but mostly looking forward to it. Today I will be typing my class notes into the computer, rearranging them into a far more coherent form, then I will be mailing them to myself at Dell. Wish me luck.

Modern Grotesque

Stephen Green compares, properly, San Francisco's Planning Commission to the Red Guards : “In a 5–0 vote, it ordered Johnston to build a...