October 2007

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It seems most anything that the government touches turns to crap. Any idea successfully implemented in private industry no matter how great it is will turn to a pile of stinking poo when the government gets near it. Credit Card purchases, online travel booking, globally accessible email turns into crap by way of the government purchase card system, DTS and NMCI.

Well the disease of inability to do anything, especially actually… doing work has begun to spread to companies we deal with as well. Some would say that government contractors have been inept for some time but I fear it is getting much worse.

I have been attempting to purchase two MacPro computers from Apple since early September. The order was supposed to be finalized with Apple’s governemt contracting group in mid September. Well here it is November and I still have no computers. I do not even have confirmation that the sales number I was provided, FOR THE SECOND TIME, is correct. No one will call back, staff is getting moved around with the fiscal year change. The whole system is a mess.

I hate to say it but Dell has their act together. A colleague ordered three Dell PCs through our same contracting group at work and I can say that those PCs are installed and running RIGHT NOW. They may not be running well, or as best as a Dell can, but they are still there.

My MacPro only exists on paper and in my dreams.

I know Apple has always had trouble dealing with business sales, and I suppose government sales go along with it. I just don’t understand why they would neglect this sector and do such a terrible job with the staff that they do have. To make my purchase I worked with the Navy agent in the government sales group. Well he was terrible, could not keep track of this simple order, and at one point lost the order until I contacted him. He was then moved over to the Army team, so screw the Navy. I would think the sales agent would make sure the order was being filled before cutting off all his account ties. Call me crazy for thinking I should finish what I start. I currently have a new sales agent working the issue, I can only hope it is resolved soon.

For further purchases I will either have to go through a contractor or order through an Apple partner such as CDW. I wanted the custom configured machine but the system in place at Apple just doesn’t make it easy enough to support that. The cost to me in my billable hours that have been spent working this purchase have not been worth it. I love the Macintosh and it is what I use at home and professionally. I jumped at the chance to get the Dell I was given off my desk but even I can only do so much.

Come on Apple, these are government employees you are selling to here, they aren’t known for backbreaking labor. If Dell makes it easy and you make it so hard that a devout loyalist just says “screw it” who is going to win?

So I got home last Thursday to find my Wii alerting me, beckoning me to come listen to what it had to tell me. I hurried to turn on the TV to find what Wii wanted to tell me. This is when I learned of the new Wii Remote Jacket, or the Wiimote condom. I can say that I was very impressed by Nintendo’s loyalty to its customer base to supply these to existing owners of Wii Remotes. I immediately got on my iMac and placed an order for 4 new shiny jelly jackets. Well it turns out that most of the US came home from work Thursday to find their Wii calling out to them and did the same thing. When I submitted my request to nintendo.com the confirmation of order page failed to load, my guess being that the actual back end script to process the order pooped out. Checking my nintendo.com account showed that I had no orders. I sent Nintendo an email allertring them of this problem and went to bed. On Friday I discussed the issue with my fellow Wii owning co-workers and they had the same issue. Nintendo let me know that they were aware of the problem and hoped to have it resolved before the October 13 ship date. Hopefully they do. I think what would have been a better user experience would be if you could have processed the order on the Wii. I mean why not, if it has internet access and it knows its serial number, why should I have to enter it into a text box. Really Wii should have been able to handle the whole thing, they could have queried the Wii, asked it how many Wiimotes it currently had configured and then sent than many jackets to my registered address. I still commend them for giving them out for free, but it could have been automated a little better.

Maybe I’m an Idiot

Google is too smart for itself, or at least too smart for me. When I travel abroad Google likes to automatically redirect me to the Google it thinks I really wanted. This means www.google.com turns into Google in the language of the host country I am in, such as now it automatically redirects to http://www.google.co.jp/. I am sure they thought this was a nice feature for people who are not in the US to be directed to the Google they can more eaily interect with but for me it is really difficult. Luckily there is usually a link on the bottom the says “Google.com in English” which puts me back to www.google.com in English where I wanted to go originally anyway. It seems that Blogger which is now a part of Google does not do this, or I cannot find the link, and it should be obvious when most of the page I am writing this in has strings like, “によって下書きが自動的に保存されました”. So it should stick out. It does point to Blogger.com’s good clean design that I can still use this page even though I can read nothing on it except my login name and the title of the page at the top.