Category Archives: That’s Pretty Messed Up Right There

Fandango makes it hard to give them money

I use the Firefox AdBlock extension to block a site called one-time-offer.com, which pops up various useless marketing offers in checkout flows.

Fandango has a fairly straightforward multi-step checkout process. The last step of the process contains an image button which concludes the transaction — no problem so far. But the button that concludes the transaction is served up from this scumhole one-time-offer.com site. Which means that if you are blocking this site, as you should be, it is impossible for you to give Fandango money, because you can’t view the checkout button. (I’m assuming it’s also the case that the flow doesn’t work for users who have images turned off as well, and for people who use browsers that don’t support images.)

Could this be any more clueless? Dear Fandango: your brilliant profit maxization strategy is causing your checkout flow to break. Please make it easier for me to give you money. Love, Jeffrey.

Turisti Pay More in Roman Restaurants

Why do Italians charge tourists up to 30% more for their meals?

Diner Beware: Turisti Pay More in Roman Restaurants

“They don’t see it as a crime but as a kind of justification,” said Tegan Shioler, a Canadian chef and sommelier who has worked in restaurants and hotels around Rome for several years. “It is part of the Italian psyche, and I don’t think it is done without humor. Italians are very possessive of their culture, which makes them beautiful. But some Romans disdain visitors, so they humorously justify the fact that to be served is some sort of privilege.”

Enterprise Software Pricing is Junk

The other day I was looking at a commercial tool for a project I was working on. I couldn’t find pricing on the vendor’s site, which suggested to me that the price of the product was “overpriced”. Typically when this happens I feel like somebody’s trying to gouge me or waste my time; this is definitely not customer-friendly. Why does it persist? If sales organizations were somehow punished every time customers skipped over a product because the company doesn’t publish its pricing, I suspect this practice would end.

Counterpoint: I’m sitting in a meeting now and somebody mentioned Kieden, which provides tools for doing search marketing, providing integration with Salesforce. It’s a neat idea, but it was particularly excellent when I noticed they have a published, simple tier-based pricing model that is free for low-volume use. Simply gorgeous. Kudos, guys.

Servicemaster.com Violates Its Own Privacy Policy

When we bought our house last year, it was pretty much perfect except for the back yard, which was a grungy mess. We’re currently investing in some upgrades to the yard. Over the past few days we’ve had landscapers tidying it up a bit and fixing a collapsing wooden fence back there; our hope is to eventually stick un petit hot tub back there so our whole house can scream middle-class California.

Anyway, we had no idea who to call to give us the skinny on how hot tubs get installed in backyards. Carole turned to the miracle of Web search, which uncovered ServiceMaster.com, a directory site of tradespeople and service-types. She filled out a form on the site, giving them some information about us including our address and phone number and a description of what we wanted to do.

After horking up all our personal information, they didn’t return any information about anyone in San Francisco who could answer our questions or help us. But to add insult to injury, within a couple of days we got a telemarketer call from somebody saying they were from LendingTree.com and wanted to offer us a loan on our upcoming hot tub project. Strike three: our phone number is registered with the National Do Not Call Registry.

Yo, Servicemaster.com: you ding-dongs are in violation of your own privacy policy. Until you fix this, no one should give you any of their personal information.

Yo, LendingTree.com: you nit-wits are in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Hopefully at some point soon, somebody who has more free time and a lower irritability threshold than us will sue you. Enjoy!

P.S. We’re still looking for a contractor who works in San Francisco and can do this work, if you know of one, lemme know!

Do Not Run from the Police.

I woke this morning to the sound four or five pops off in the distance outside my window. I wasn’t sure if it was gunshots or whatever, so I went back to sleep. Within a few minutes we heard the sound of a helicopter orbiting our neighborhood, and later a light plane, so I figured there’d been some gunplay. I just hoped that it wasn’t some armed maniac loose in the neighborhood.

We found out later that the CHP had shot a woman driving a stolen car near our house. Apparently they’d picked her up in Concord (like 40 miles away) and chased her all the way to a cul-de-sac on the other side of the freeway from our place; when she got stuck there, she backed up and smashed into some CHP cars, which caused the cops to open fire on her. They took her to the hospital and she died later in the day.

Here’s a map showing how far the chase was. Note that in the middle there is the Bay Bridge, which she must have blew over. The Chronicle story said that there was originally a man in the car with her, who bailed out and got away just before they hit the bridge. Protecting him must have been pretty important, since it cost her life.

Skype Picks a Winner

This sounds like a brilliant strategic partnership: this story says that if you’re using Skype with a dual-core Intel processor you’re allowed to have 10-way conference calls, but if you’re using a competing processor (or, presumably, an older Intel chip) you’ll be limited to 5-way calls. Apparently this is the case regardless of whether the processor you have can actually handle a 10-way call.

I happen to think that if you’re doing 10-way conference calls you need to rethink your conference call strategy. One way or another, this sounds like a really stinky deal for consumers, and it should provide golden opportunities for other platforms (both processors and VOIP providers). It’s another reason why I’m going to take a hard look at AMD next time I need to buy a new CPU.

Update: This story says that AMD’s attorneys are making pointed inquiries into this deal in their ongoing antitrust action against Intel. Whoops.

Update 2: Looks like the 5-user limit on non-Intel chips was an arbitrary restriction after all, and according to this Slashdot article, it’s been cracked. Double whoops.

Ten Reasons Why Pickles Suck

10. They are usually served cold.
9. They are green.
8. They are preserved in vinegar, which tastes like the rot of death to me. (I don’t eat a lot of salad dressings, either, for this reason.)
7. They are bumpy.
6. They often hide in hamburgers and are difficult to remove until you’ve accidentally bitten into one (unlike, say, tomato slices).
5. "Pickle jokes" which are never funny.
4. Unfortunate phallic imagery/symbolism.
3. They have been used to completely ruin potato salad for generations, and they have no business being in there. Same with celery, which tastes OK but is really just used as a way to add bulk to a dish.
2. Pickle relish is one of those foods that is disgusting enough that you have to say to yourself "who was the person who was insane enough to try to eat this for the first time in history?" Sort of like oysters and beer.
1. Made from cucumbers, which aren’t really that great prior to the pickling.