Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Change of address

Please follow the continuing stories of Doctor Barnett at technically.us/doc.

Love
Doctor B.

Monday, September 19, 2005

iMac busted again

Our troublesome iMac G5 failed once again last weekend. We’re still under warranty, whoop-tee-doo, but we’ve probably lost everything on the hard drive. Like most people, we have some backups but they’re incomplete and out of date.

I’m mad as hell at Apple all over again, mad enough to buy a PC in fact. I can hardly believe it myself, but the various PC parts are already on their way from Newegg for a grand total of $350. (I’m not putting Windows on it. Give me some credit.)

There’s more to it than anger, of course. My iMac G5 (like all others sold last year) is prone to overheating and generally runs at a temperature that increases the probability of component (hard drive) failure. It must be babied. I revile the idea of babying a computer, but there is nothing that I can (or Apple will) do about it.

More to come…

Saturday, September 10, 2005

To Suck Ass

To: TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov
Subject: Shoe off, shoe on, shoe up.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I wonder if you are aware of how poorly your administration’s policies are applied by its employees at airports across the United States (and territories). In the past year, I have been witness to violations of your “TSA Shoe Screening Policy” in the following airports: New York LaGuardia & JFK, San Juan P.R, San Francisco CA, and Raleigh N.C. The shoe policy has not changed over the past year, yet it is so consistently violated in such far-flung airports that I wonder if even management discreetly encourages its infringement.

To be clear, no one has merely “recommended” that I remove my shoes. In each of the airports I’ve cited, TSA employees have required that I remove my shoes regardless of their shape and lack of metallic content. In the early afternoon on Monday, September 5 at RDU I listened as a television video recommended that I remove my shoes — for what reason it recommended this I can not imagine. I prefer shoes, so I declined and passed through the metal detector without setting of its alarm. Nevertheless, the gentleman on the far side ordered me to go to back up and send my shoes through the x-ray, saying that it did not matter “if my shoes set off the alarm or not.” I later passed this information on to the overseeing TSA supervisor, who admitted the employee was in violation of the policy and said he would “speak with him.”

How is it possible that this employee and the half-dozen other violators I’ve encountered in the past year fail to understand a very simple policy? It says clearly on your website “You are not required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector.” Is it some kind of joke to them? Is it some kind of joke to you? I’m sick and tired of fighting with your employees, who must be frighteningly daft or are sadistically pleased in forcing everyone to march around barefoot. Either way, these are not people I want to be responsible for my protection, nor are their sloppy and permissive managers.

Each time I fly, I hope that the situation has resolved itself in some obvious way. Each time I am gravely disappointed. You have two options: 1) change the policy to suit the whims of your daft or sadistic employees, or, 2) get your employees in line! By failing to adapt to a simple procedural change in the course of over a year, you’ve proven your entire organization to be incompetent.

Please let me know when it’s safe to expect TSA employees to follow TSA policy.

Doctor Barnett

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Why are NYC dentists scumbags?

Surely everyone living here has wondered: how do educated and respected professionals become as dishonest as New York City dentists? I’ve seen three different dentists in the city and all of them have tried to rip me off in one way or another. The first performed unnecessary fillings and claimed not to have the standard filling material paid for by my insurance. The second repeatedly filed insurance claims incorrectly and would bill me for more than the difference. On my third dentist last week, I found the entire office running a scam to eek an extra seventy-five dollars out of soft-looking customers like myself. Have some decency people!

The problem, as well as I can tell, is that dentists in the city expect to be paid more than those outside the city. (Everybody expects this. Bums expect this, and I'm sure they get it too.) Either the insurance companies won’t pay city dentists extra, or the difference isn’t enough to make them happy. I suspect they’re greedy enough to try to bump up the price either way. They see an insured customer paying nothing out-of-pocket as easy prey, someone just asking to be billed a little extra.

Never mind that many people pay a portion of their dental premiums themselves, and even if they don’t it’s lifted from their potential salary. When I walk into a dentist expecting a free cleaning, it’s because I’ve already paid for it over the past half year. If I were going to pay anything for the cleaning, I wouldn’t have insurance in the first place. You have no right to perform some outrageous-sounding procedure when I ask for a cleaning, then tell me that at my insurance rate it would cost over $400 dollars but that you’ll only bill me $75 because you’re nice. You’re like a character from a 1980s movie about New York. You’re a scumbag. Go back to Russia.

(I didn’t pay. Thanks for the free periodontal scaling, fuckers.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Patches

Our munkarp futon mattress, $145 from ikea, developed a hole after only a few months of use. The futon frame has poorly designed cast-iron legs that poked right through it. We tried nylon tape, and of course duct tape, but neither stopped the hole from growing to a gash.

We’re always finding foam chunks from the mattress around the apartment, making it seem like the whole stupid sofa/bed/futon was kaput after less than a year. I know ikea furniture is disposable, but come on, this is nuts.

As I proposed actually sewing a patch over the cut (which would have been a sitcom-worthy disaster) Mrlittlepants had the bright idea of using an iron-on patch. Of course! And K-mart would have that, if they have anything.

K-mart employees don’t think the store stocks iron-on patches — in fact they’re amused by the idea of it. Well they do have them, among other sewing merchandise oddly placed at check-out aisle 12 (go get ’em!). If it holds, feel free to call me Patches. (If it doesn’t hold, you’d best shut your mouth.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Apple makes nice. I make mean.

Our quirky iMac G5 had a little smoking problem back in April. It took weeks to fix, and I did my best to pressure the company into some kind of compensation but was briskly rebuffed.

Thousands of smoking iMacs later, Apple has come to their senses and is offering a partially extended warranty (it only covers the most poorly designed components). I’m thrilled about the protection, but even more exciting is the opportunity to get my revenge on a certain pencil pusher:

August 20, 2005

Patrick Ekstrand
Corporate Executive Relations
Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Dear Mr. Ekstrand,

I am delighted to learn of the “iMac G5 Repair Extension Program for Video and Power Issues.” As my own iMac G5 had an overheating and smoking problem in March — a “power issue” you could say — I am relieved to see that repairs will be covered if the problem returns in the next year and two months.

Such a repair extension is exactly what I was asking for when I contacted you via the Better Business Bureau last April. In my opinion (though I am only a software programmer), a computer that has overheated to the point of visible smoke has a greater future risk of failure from partially damaged components. Furthermore, it is exceedingly rare for desktop computers to overheat. Such a serious malfunction suggests that multiple components were poorly designed and may prove faulty later.

(Please see attached copy of your response.)

Following your refusal of any compensation, I was particularly troubled by your last remark, “Apple considers this matter closed.” What callous arrogance! I suppose you can consider any matter you want closed, but if you sell enough people smoking computers, those matters have a way of opening themselves up again.

Thanks for the repair extension, and good luck closing other matters that cross your desk.

The Smug Doctor Barnett

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

S.F. : Safe for homophobes

Waiting for Song 2022, I was lucky to overhear this snippet from the gentleman pictured, on the left:

I was expecting to see a lot of gay shit, you know, the gay boys, but it wasn’t too bad.

From the jumble of announcements I understood the next flight to be destined for Salt Lake. (The people had just arrived, and, well, plainly weren’t from New York.)

Great, a bunch of fat mormons literally talking shit about gays on their way out of San Francisco of all places. Why come? Why leave the trailer? Why come to tour a city when you hate city life? I should have given them a last-minute drag performance, but instead I snapped this photo and plotted weblog vengeance.

As I boarded the plane later I noticed the next flight was in fact for Atlanta, in my home state. Ahh, Georgie, you’re often on my mind. Each time I thank gay god I live so far from your borders.