" /> BP's Weblog: May 2004 Archives

« April 2004 | Main | June 2004 »

May 13, 2004

The gravy train ends....

So, this is mostly for the movabletypo folks. I'm not sure how I beat kwc to the punch, but, there will probably not be an upgrade to MT 3.0. For those who don't want to follow the link, all you need to know is that MT 3.0 is only free for a single-author/3 blog configuration. From there, it goes to $100 for 3a/5b, and $150 for 6a/8b. That's before the "introductory price" discounts.

Ergh. Yeah, they've gotta' make a living... but they're also playing in a field full of competition. This kind of pricing might bring them commercial success - or quickly inspire a set of open-sourced imitators who are "good enough". As one with development experience, they're pushing the limit for how valuable I find the features in the tool.

This will make things complicated, though, even for my personal blog, since I've imported old content from a previous site, which thereby increased the number of authors. sigh

May 08, 2004

Gadget Guy - technical difficulties

You can check out or latest comic here. The site's still pretty rough, but you might notice that there's some new content here and here, even though it went up last week.

Sorry for the short post, it's been a long night getting the comic put the rest of the way together. Cheers!

May 07, 2004

Misleading Business Practices?

Reader&quote;s Digest Sucks First of all, Ticketmaster sucks. I've now asked to remove my e-mail address from their lists, oh, about 4 times. Twice using their automated opt-out links on the included e-mail... unselecting all options, and making sure to hit "Yes I'm sure" or the equivalent.

When I kept getting their annoying weekly spam, I wrote customer service. And got a polite reply that it'd been taken care of... well, yeah. Until the next week. Another message to customer service lead to a "you have to wait 24-48 hours for things to take effect". I'm not sure they can do math, since it was over a week later. Nonetheless, I was assured I'd been removed from the list.

Except, I wasn't. I got another message today. A loose read of the CAN Spam Act suggests I might be due $25/incident. More if I could find a way to determine it was willful. Sheesh. Anyone else have this problem with TicketMaster? It would, of course, be much easier to get them to fix their shoddy business practices if there were others willing to help push the issue.

This reminded me of another task I'd been meaning to deal with... J received this apparent invoice from Readers' Digest. If you didn't read it, you'd probably assume you'd requested a Reader's Digest subscription, and forgotten to pay for it. It's all over the place... FEE FOR SERVICE, PAYMENT WITH REPLY WOULD BE APPRECIATED. They even go to some trouble to fake a handwritten note (image on the left - it takes examining the paper very closely to discover this is a fake). Now, mind you, I don't think I've ever received a bill, especially not for $10, or for a magazine, with handwriting on it. But I'm sure it suckers some people.

A little unethical to send unrequested offers? No, this happens all the time. What's terrible here, and I'm sure obvious to anyone who's read in this far, is how hard they went to hide their intention behind a confusing enough exterior to perhaps catch a few people who don't think too hard when they're responding to bills. And, by making it only $10, how many people would think twice if they didn't smell a rat right off the bat?

I guess the one thing it does show is that it can be fun to read junk mail. Can you believe this passes for a reasonable business practice? Sheesh.

May 03, 2004

eGO costs analysis

Many of you have chuckled when I told them the eGO company line that it costs "less than 10cents per day to charge", assuming (as I did) that this was a conservative number, not reflective of California's messed up utility system.

So, since J is moving, and I wanted to figure out real costs because I don't currently pay my utilities, and my landlady has been complaining about our usage, I looked it up.

Spec is that it takes approximately 0.6KWhr (for those not familiar with the units this is 600 Watts for an hour, or, perhaps better, a 60-watt light bulb left on for 10 hours) to charge the battery from empty. I ride my eGO about 8-10 charges per week.

Poking around the PG&E website, I found a calculator for energy costs in Menlo Park. Just pretend its an appliance, like a washer. 0.6KWhr 10 times a week comes out to about $2.73/mo. Not bad for 80% of the energy that I commute with (by comparison, if I drive every day, it's more like $60/mo). And my landlord can quit complaining... as can anyone at PARC were they to decide to be annoyed that I plug in there each day.