Friday, May 14, 2010

Shit, xbox!

What's up you handful of unsuspecting followers of a dead blog? Why haven't you been culling your RSS feeds?

Don't be a Douche must be more than calling out douchebags, if it is to be anything. At any rate, I've been unanimously criticized for unchecked negativity, and having no reply to that as well as a lack of drive in the first place, so I didn't write that anymore. Thinking of maybe doing a "where are they now" thing sometime soon, but that's it, promise.

Today, though, I want to record in this hallowed place a recent experience with customer service for Microsoft Xbox live! It begins a few days ago, when my Xbox that needs to talk to the internet in order to play media files on my local network was trying to do so, when it was revealed to me that my live account was suspended! This meant, ultimately, that the xbox itself had become useless, online or off, as I couldn't use the local user account associated with the suspended live account. Means no downloaded games (bought and play many), no saves or achievements for games I physically own, and no media files. (!!) . Used another device to watch Shutter Island, which was pretty good, came back to the problem this morning.

When I tried to login it said I was lacking a payment option, took me to choice between "new credit card" which is obvious, and "cancel" which aborted the entire login process. I use a prepaid credit card to buy 'microsoft points' for online content, and used some of those to extend my current prepaid card based live membership for 3 months on February 1. They went for the renew on May 1 and the $27 charge didn't go through. No big deal, I enter the code on my 12 month card I bought last month, expecting this to happen sometime soon.This is where it gets weird: instead of not furnishing me the service (3 more months) when they found out Mastercard would not extend me the credit, they took it upon themselves, with no permission or disturbance of service or notice that I was on a tab. They are a now holding me, my xbox,, hundreds of dollars in purchased content and my $70 prepaid card hostage for that $27 debt, which can only be paid by credit card and soon or they nuke all my shit.

So I gave them a call! 51 minutes with Kurt, call centre guy, who to the very end only said two things: "your only option is to enter a new credit card number", and "the system won't allow me to do that". This was a shock to me, expecting something more like "sorry, that was automated and I see you've paid for your next year another way". Not before getting him to admit that he could but won't fix my problem, I moved on to the next rung! Chris, call centre supervisor, was saying the same stuff in a more forceful tone. I had been marked hostile, though seriously was being really calm about everything. One hour, ten minutes with Chris, trying to explain my problem by repeating and reposing the question: "on what basis does your company presume the right to extend credit to me and enter into that kind of relationship without permission or notice, let alone solicitation?". Never attempted an answer, started referring to the Terms Of Use "cover your ass" policy where the company can do whatever they want with my shit, and told me explicitly that there was nobody in the office with the authority to override that bullshit. That was about 45 minutes, and I guess he forgot by 1:10, because it was then that he transferred me to that person, upon being asked directly this time. Got about 20 minutes of the same stuff from Dave, call centre manager before I had to go out and my phone was plugged in, so I took a number and said I'd call back.

I probably won't. I'll get back in line, put money on that card, and pay the man. I could write about this for ages though, and I'm right on this for sure, but it's $27 and they're coming in heavy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't be a douche, CPAC!

     I could have chosen any one of the blazing douchebags who participate at the Conservative Political Action Conference (hence the communal title), but I'm choosing this one. Because he said some of the most ridiculous things, because he's got such potential to gain so much power in the near future, and because he's just a really smug little bastard.

It's Marco Rubio! He's a republican candidate for the United States Senate, and he gave the keynote speech at that wacky circle-jerk of a conference. He's a Catholic, a lawyer, and "the future of the GOP", according to many talking heads from that side of the fence. Furthermore, his keynote was a doozy: opening with (SHOCKER) an Obama/teleprompter joke I won't quote and some weather talk, here are some of my favorite parts:

"I am privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in all of human history. There's never been a nation like the United States, ever."
"our rights come from God, not from our government" (I love it when politicians say this, negating their entire careers)
"when was the last time that you heard news accounts about a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?"
"the U.S. Senate already has one Arlen Specter too many." 
"Americans do want leaders that will come to Washington, D.C. and work together to get things done" (What? Nobody told you GOP runs on cooperation now?)
"Let's eliminate double taxation by abolishing the taxes on capital gains, on dividends, on interest...Let's significantly lower the corporate tax rates"
" greater risk to this country than the risk posed by radical Islamic terrorists" (not even this one?)
"we will punish their allies, like Iran" (this one got cheers, to the point he had to ask them to stop. I don't have a quip, that's fucking terrifying)

Like I said at the beginning, most of this stuff was pretty unanimous at that show. It's Rubio with the big long keynote, Rubio who overreached and said some extra-dumb shit, and Rubio for douchebag of the day, though. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

DBAD: Mark Madsen, Utah Senator

This rather harmless looking daily douche is Mark Madsen. He was elected to the Utah senate for who knows what ridiculous reasons, and he's here on my blog because he's pushing a new law making Martin Luther King day also John Moses Brown day.

I'm just going to address my opinion on this move first, and then move on to a demonstration of its absurdity. This appears to me to be built on a dual foundation. Primarily, a thinly veiled sentiment against black people, in the sense that by associating MLK day with rifles in the minds of citizens of Utah, he's making sure everyone knows what happens to uppity members of minorities. Secondarily, he's engaging in the age old practice of promoting and expanding the notoriety of one's own religion. Madsen and Browning are/were both mormons, and our friend here has expressed pride in that. Obviously one of these is abhorrent and the other merely unethical from his position, but aside from that, neither of them are good enough reasons to institute a state holiday.

Check it out:

- perhaps the most outstanding proponent of civil rights in American history
- spearheaded a unique and peaceful movement to equalize America
- awarded Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Nobel Peace Prize
- assassinated at 39

- A brilliant and very successful firearm designer and manufacturer
- invented the gas-operated machine gun
- engaged in polygamy (surprisingly only 2 wives, considering his status)
- outspoken racist
- died of heart failure in his son's office, at 71

Don't be a douche, Mark Madsen. That's -ridiculous-.

(h/t Think Progress)

UPDATE: Madsen's got his tail between his legs on this one in less than 48 hours. Apparently lots of people are pissed, but he can't tell why, as he's both still convinced on the dates appropriateness, AND never cared what day JMB was honored on. Fun times.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't be a Douche, Henry Aubin!

So I was reading some news tonight, as is my custom. I stumbled across a link to a Montreal Gazette opinion piece entitled "If Arrogant Nationalism was a Sport, Canada Would Win Gold". I don't want to reproduce the whole thing here and pick it apart, because it's really not worth the space, but just so you get the idea I'll give you the opening line, which he thought important enough to reside in it's own exclusive paragraph:

"The Olympics are supposed to be uplifting. So far, the Vancouver Olympics have been anything but."

Awesome. That's not overly general, exaggerated or inflammatory at all, is it? He goes on to accuse Canada of overspending on Olympic excellence (even this year we are underspending our competition per capita, something we're famous for), quote Coubertin (and your mom) in his "not if you win or lose, but that you play the game" speech, bash our hockey ladies for picking up 18 points against Slovakia (who happened to beat neighbor Bulgaria 82-0 in a pre-olympic exhibition.. and what about the huge ovation we gave the Slovak squad? This is not peewee hockey, people, and even those kids know to do their best every minute on the ice), and all but accuse us of cheating for not allowing US atheletes on unfinished courses and tracks in September.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for some healthy criticism, especially when it is directed at a nation, and especially when that nation is the one I must live my life in. I know blind patriotism is toxic, I live right next to the longest shared border in the world, with the country that would really win the "gold" for that. This ridiculous piece of trash is neither healthy nor criticism. It's a bunch of incoherent babble from someone with clearly personal or political motives, but without the balls to state them. The kind of article one might suspect would have popped up no matter how hard everyone worked to make these games turn out right.

Why all the vindictive bullshit, Mr.Aubin? Am I to believe you're just really stupid, and actually believe any of this crap is founded in reason? I won't. Isn't the international press doing a good enough job being unfairly critical of us? Don't you have any of that "undying Olympic spirit" you keep accusing us of lacking for wanting medals? Get a life, man.

New Format!

Ok, so I haven't been writing here in a while.. but it's been for a good reason! I wrote for a while, and even though nobody was reading, I was still embarrassed at the blogs lack of rhyme or reason, focus, regularity, and pointedness.

The website's name is "Don't be a Douche". As was roughly the original idea, from now until as long as I can manage, I'm going to be calling out one person per day. One person who, over the last week or so, has earned the title, if even just temporarily, of douchebag. More importantly, one person who has earned my advice, which shall interminably be to NOT BE that douchebag. Kapiche?

Thanks, and also please expect a visual redesign, which I would love some ideas for :)

I'ma go write the first one right now, it'll be fun.

Friday, January 29, 2010

URL Hacks!

Hey, so I'm posting these here as much for my benefit as for the benefit of anyone else, but check it out! I've been getting more interested in URL hacks for various purposes as I happened across them from time to time, and know enough now that I want to drop them all in one place. A big hat tip to Lifehacker, as well as to others who linked me to some of these too long ago for me to remember specifically who.

Download Youtube Videos:

- prepend "youtube" in any URL for a youtube video with "kick" or "pwn" as in ""

- switch out the "Y" in "Youtube" with a "3".

These 3 hacks all achieve the same thing, namely an opportunity to download any youtube video. Rad! Check them out, they each have their ups and downs, different formats available, and other features.

Use the URL shortener without installing anything:

Go here, and just drag that bookmarklet up to your browser's toolbar. Once it's there, just hit it any time to get a URL for wherever you are at that moment. Trust me, it's a URL hack, it's just tucked into this bookmarklet (maybe I should do one of these on bookmarklets!)

Grab and edit screen caps of websites:

- Just add "" in front of any URL

This one is especially new to me, and especially awesome, especially if you're into sharing stuff on the internet, especially. It pulls down the image and imports it into Aviary's totally excellent editing software, all in the cloud, so you can get exactly the image you want by the time you get to the downloading stage. FN RAD.

Break the Paywall:

This one is a little more finicky than the others, but works for viewing articles at WSJ, Financial Times, and other sites with stank-ass paywalls. I'll just link you to Digital Inspiration because they've gone to the trouble of embedding a bunch of youtube videos that show you how, and I don't want to.
- In most cases you can just search the title of the article you want and view it through google's cache.

Search Google Images by Color:

Append "&imgcolor=colorname" to the URL of your completed google image search, switching "colorname" with the color of your choice of course. Works like a charm.

hat's it for now, but there's a ton of more nichelike, specific URL hacks out there if you're into looking for them. If I run across any more worthy of a mention here, I'll come back and edit the post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mom and Pop Need More Advice than Sympathy

I read the news today, like many others, that Duthie Books on 4th Avenue here in Vancouver is closing its doors for the last time this year. Also like many others, I initially responded to the extremely sympathetic and non-constructive piece I read with empathy for its owners and outrage at the system in general for allowing "our" Vancouver landmark bookstore to die out completely, location by location. With media ranging in its stance from simply not coming up with any ways the businesspeople involved could have handled things differently to suggesting directly that there was no way, it seemed rather "open and shut", that there were no other ways to think about it. To further exacerbate this, papers are quick to point out that X big box retailer and Y internet market are to blame. However, after a little thought, I have come full circle, and believe that there can be no logical basis to feel sorry for this business or any other who falls victim to changing times.

The way I see it, there are two possible conclusions to come to here, both more reasonable than simply writing the issue off to evil collusion of multinational and "greed machine" government, as you see in the comments of the aforelinked Globe and Mail article. The first, and most likely, is that the charm of this mom and pop store is simply outweighed by the organizational structure and purchasing power of larger stores, and convenience of online outlets. That's not a good or bad thing, it would just indicate that it's what the people want. Sad, but true, those big round chapters discount stickers excite us more (pain in the ass as they are to get off of your new books) than the good conversation of an invested shopkeep.

The other, and more amicable of the two, for me, is that these organizations hold potential as well as standing advantages that could carry them well into the brave new world of big box books and internets, leveraged in the right ways. They could have:

- engaged in the community by promoting literacy for kids, bringing people together for events, and getting involved with local authors to really represent Vancouver

- booked sweet authors for signings and readings, and marketed those well

- inspired and mobilized the sympathy of their customers, before they had the shut-down article to do it in

- Built up their own internet business, if only for soft services: reccomendations, chatter with regulars, a healthy twitter feed and a blog, etc

- Really paid attention to their regulars, finding out why they are still coming and how to impress these reasons upon others without becoming intrusive.

- Chosen a different location than kits for their hold-out last store (this is no doubt the priciest of all of them, and the spot with the most competition)

I could go on, and maybe some of these have been tried to some extent, but that's not my point. My point is that this business was charged with having what it takes to continue to survive in the same system that allowed it to begin, and it didn't. RIP, pour out a little liquor for your bookstores that passed away, but in this economic time of change and fervor it was nobody else's fault they didn't see this one coming and do something about it. I see too many of these "oh poor me" mom and pop stories, and I'm at the point now where you might say I'm "desensitized".