March 08, 2007
For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying to open an account at CitiBank. Mainly
because I currently have a WAMU account and they totally suck (see earlier
accounts here). Last
week, I went in to CitiBank half an hour before they closed, waited for half
an hour and was kicked out. Not so nice, but hey, I guess I did show up kinda
late (though only a bank would have the nerve close at 4pm).
Today I showed up 2 hours before closing and got to see someone right away.
Things were going well, he was typing stuff into a computer in ways that had
me almost convinced he might actually open a bank account for me! Then I
started to hear those annoying Microsoft-y chime-y error noises coming from
his computer. Uh-oh. So today I couldn't open the account because their
computers were fucked.
Tip for bankers: if you want people to give you their money, you should
be nice to them. At least until they give it to you, and preferably
afterwards as well (so you can get more of their money). I can't believe
this is so incredibly difficult to understand.
Tip #2 for bankers: the experience of opening an account is, to customers,
a precursor of what's to come. So far all I know about CitiBank's customer
service is that the computers on which they rely are flakey and that I am
likely to be thrown out at closing if there's a long line. This does not
inspire me to open an account so I can experience more of same.
Finally, does anyone have suggestions for a bank in the states that doesn't
March 11, 2007
I've been travelling a lot lately, some for work and some for
"pleasure", though I would hardly call travelling "pleasing" these
days. I used to go book flights like this:
- for i in orbitz.com expedia.com travelocity.com; do
- open new tab in FF
- go to $i
- enter my details in random craptacular and annoying UI
- wait forever for search results to load
sort the results in some way, requiring another pageload
- compare results in above tabs and choose the flight I want
- go to airline's web page directly
- enter all the information into a crappy UI again
go through 5 or 6 slowly-loading, crappy pages full of ads hawking
rental cars and hotels
- enter credit card information
- buy ticket
Now, with Kayak, I do this:
- go to kayak.com
- enter flight details into a surprisingly non-crappy UI
get results from damn near all flight websites, including directly
from the airlines
use a very non-sucky client-side interface to sort and refine
the results extremely quickly
- go directly to the airline's website
- perform the last 2 steps above
Kayak has made booking flights almost tolerable again. Way to reduce
suckage in the world, guys! Well done!
BTW, for those of you wondering why I try to go straight to the
airline's website even if I use something like expedia, it's usually
cheaper that way.
Anyway, I don't usually do this, but Kayak reduces suckage by orders
of magnitude, so if you book flights EVER you should definitely check
March 16, 2007
I just bought a Pearl to replace my piece of junk Tréo. So far
I'm pretty impressed with it. It hasn't crashed on me once, the Google
mail app for it works great, and the funny keyboard with 2 letters
per button works surprisingly well. Yay for tries. I was thinking of
holding out for an iPhone, but I was super fed up with the Tréo
and I figure 6 months after the initial iPhone release there will be
a better one, plus I'm not sure about the whole contract thing...
What surprises me most actually is how damn addictive the thing is. The
UI isn't super flashy or anything, but it has a fairly appealing
look and feel that grows on you. And being able to chat with folks
on Google Talk on your phone, for free, is damn hella awesome. No
more 5c SMS messages! The other surprising thing is that the phone
is way smaller than a Tréo, and the UI is written in Java,
so I kind of expected it to be really slow. It's actually not bad;
most things are way faster than the Tréo, some things are a
little slower, but overall it's fine.
Plus, it's $10/month cheaper for the BB data plan on T-mobile. Don't
ask me why. I lose my HotSpot access (you know, those stupid
Starfuckers APs that you have to pay for even though you bought a
cup of crappy coffee) but that's ok, because unlike the Tréo,
the Bluetooth modem on the BB actually works (I'm typing this on my
MacBook via BB right now).
In other words, I should have gotten a BB in the first place. I'll
blame drheld for that
one. Though, in his defense, when I bought the Tréo there
wasn't really any way to sync a BB with Linux. Now you can with Barry.
March 26, 2007
Back in the day, before we had the web or AJAX or even computers, calendars
used to be made of paper. In those quaint days, paper calendars would often
have a different picture for every month, or sometimes even every week. What
fun it was to flip the calendar every month to have a new picture waiting
for you. That is, unless you ruined the surprise by looking at all the
pictures in advance when you got the calendar.
These days, we have web calendars and they generally don't show any pictures.
How sad. (Fun fact though: early prototypes of Google Calendar allowed you to
enter a search query, and would show the top few Google Image results for that
query. In practice, few people found this useful or even understood it.) To
remedy the lack of picture-y goodness in modern calendars, I give you
PicasaWeb content calendars.
You can see a random photo from any PicasaWeb public gallery every day. The
cool thing is that this was ridiculously simple to write; it only took me
an hour or so.