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  • The phantom hotspot market
    coffee shops have a few soft chairs When I choose a seat I ll usually pick a soft chair if it s available But I wouldn t pay for it If the coffee shop decided to offer soft chairs only for an additional charge I would disregard the soft chairs as an option and therefore I would consider that coffee shop to have only regular chairs The soft chair attraction would be lost and I d be inclined to go to a different coffee shop that let me sit in a soft chair for free For some reason many locations have decided to contract their WiFi service out to a national provider that wants you to pay for it If I want to use WiFi at Starbucks for example I have to pay T Mobile 40 per month 10 per day or 6 per hour I assume Starbucks gets a cut of this and they get to put WiFi hotspot stickers on their doors to draw customers in For Starbucks this is simply another profit channel Meanwhile T Mobile makes a killing as their cost per location is almost zero my apartment s 1 5 Mbit DSL connection is only 35 per month and it came with a free wireless router And I m paying retail If I bought a monthly subscription I would completely subsidize the cost of one hotspot But what if I really really needed internet access on my laptop when I was away from home Well I d have a few options I could always get a dialup account for 10 per month that would work anywhere with a phone jack Or I could get a laptop cellular card for 119 and pay T Mobile 30 per month or 20 if you already have their voice

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/110 (2016-04-30)
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  • The Great ISP Debacle
    queue Second Verizon Idiot Can I have your DSL phone number M phone number SVI Where is that M Pittsburgh SVI We don t service that area here This is Texas You re supposed to call 1 800 567 6789 Let me transfer you significantly worse music with instructions telling me to troubleshoot my DSL modem by going online Yet Another Verizon Idiot Can I have your DSL phone number M phone number can t they keep track of this between departments YAVI I m sorry you have to talk to Order Status M I already did They transferred me somewhere else and then I was transferred to you YAVI Sorry I can t help you on hold again in another 15 minute queue I wish this was an exaggeration In the long period between my Comcast disconnection which happened right on schedule at least they got something right and the Verizon activation I knew I couldn t go without internet access at home I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for a dialup service for one month I wanted to get connected as quickly as possible and I just wanted a standard PPP phone number with a username and a password no stupid software no stupid dialers and no stupid proprietary logins Having been out of the dialup world since 1998 I really had no idea what was out there so I just called NetZero 6 00 PM Me I d like a basic dialup account I d like it to be activated immediately so I can use it tonight And I absolutely can t install any software I just want a standard PPP connection with a username password and phone number Can you offer that NetZero Sales Idiot Yes M Without any software Just a standard username password and phone number NZSI Yes M When can it be ready NZSI In a few minutes M credit card number 7 00 PM Me I still can t connect and I activated my service an hour ago NetZero Sales Idiot In India It takes 1 2 hours for new accounts to activate 9 00 PM Me My account is 3 hours old and it doesn t work yet I was told that it only took 1 2 hours When will it be ready NetZero Support Idiot You need to install our special software We ll mail it to you M I was told that I didn t need any special software and that I can connect with a standard PPP connection and a username password and phone number NZSI That s not true M Then this service is useless to me your sales department lied to me and I d like to cancel my account transfer to Order Cancellation which has an amazingly long hold time So far it was the standard bad customer service situation But nothing could possibly prepare me for Quondra She is the single worst customer service employee I have ever spoken to even

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/109 (2016-04-30)
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  • Wal-Mart
    all of your shopping at Wal Mart and spend only 150 per month Assuming you purchased the same items you d probably save significantly more but I ll be conservative You re saving 50 per month Where does it go You can put it into savings where it can collect interest and work toward a larger investment improving the future economy and your quality of life You could spend it on additional items that you wouldn t have otherwise purchased improving the current economy and your quality of life Unless you use it to purchase an LG computer monitor Or you could buy big sandwiches for 10 homeless people improving the current economy and their quality of life Regardless of how you spend or don t spend your extra 50 the economy and someone s life will probably improve somehow Consider the effect this would have if everyone in an entire town was suddenly saving 50 per month especially in a small town with lower average cost of living and lower average salaries than most cities After all Wal Mart is most severely criticized for moving into small towns And I m just one person Imagine the effect on a large family if their grocery expenses were cut by 25 50 especially if they didn t make much money Censorship Wal Mart advocates and practices censorship most notably in the music they sell If an album contains offensive language s p f c cs mf t etc or content Wal Mart will only carry a clean version in which the artist has conveniently silenced or changed any bad words so that innocent children will have absolutely no idea what was originally said and will therefore remain young and pure forever But I can t really fault them for this Wal Mart is not providing a public service They re a privately owned business and they can choose not to sell whatever they want If I operated a retail store I d refuse to sell anything from offensive brands such as Monster Cable Retail dominance While the exact number will vary by source nobody refutes Wal Mart s intimidating dominance of all retail sales Any product that can be sold at retail must be sold at Wal Mart to reach a large customer base This can have some negative effects Monopolies are rarely beneficial to anyone except their owners But Wal Mart doesn t have a monopoly yet and as long as they reasonably don t I don t have any problem with their retail power So far they ve used their power for some good causes Computer game retailers tried to convince publishers to reduce the size of game boxes The old boxes occupied large amounts of shelf space and were mostly empty very few contained more than a CD jewel case The video game publishers quietly refused for years and slowly a significant percentage of video game sales crept toward Wal Mart The critical difference was that unlike previous

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/108 (2016-04-30)
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  • Valentine's Day Letter
    about me We need to talk about where our relationship is going Alone I wouldn t have built this arsenal I just found myself getting jealous I knew you were fooling around with Iraq and I only wanted you back Iraq abuses you takes you for granted Iraq didn t even have weapons of mass destruction I knew it wasn t a good relationship to begin with But sow your wild oats I thought Eventually you ll feel bogged down You will return to me But now you re looking at Iran Iran was building nuclear weapons you said Iran is oppressing her people But I build nuclear weapons I oppress my people What does Iran have that I don t I am spontaneous fiery and shaped like an hourglass We never do anything alone anymore Remember when we used to snuggle up watch a movie together and then spend the whole night talking about disarmament Now all you want to do his hang out with your buddies Of course I ll talk to you you say Just let me invite four of my buddies Japan China those guys don t understand me not like you do I want intimacy

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/107 (2016-04-30)
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  • Joel On Software
    to anyone willing to read it and everyone so far has given it glowing reviews If any of my friends were programmers I d give copies as gifts Too bad all of them are law students This book needs to be widely read and shared The full title technically is Joel on Software And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers Designers and Managers and to Those Who Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck Work with Them in Some Capacity The title itself is an incredibly accurate description of the book s contents It s mostly about the art and practice of good software design but contains a lot of other relevant articles as well Fortunately you don t have to rely on my vague descriptions to get a taste of the book Joel On Software is based unsurprisingly on a website called Joel On Software Most of the book s sections are based on site articles sometimes verbatim I originally found the site from a link to Joel s User Interface Design section which has actually become a separate book that I also recommend Start your Joel reading experience with The

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/106 (2016-04-30)
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  • International Solitaire Society Condemns Microsoft Solitaire 6.0
    of Solitaire One reality of Solitaire reflected by the Solitaire Assistant was the presence of somebody looking over your shoulder and telling you which card to put where According to Microsoft Solitaire 6 0 comes with a many other new features The AutoPlay feature anticipates moves a player intends to make thereby increasing productivity InstantHelp will allow Microsoft troubleshooters to remotely control the PC to assist players when they are stuck InstantHelp can also help consumers install other great Microsoft products Automatic Updates can automatically patch the massive security flaws in the game Microsoft will also reward successful players and console failing players by popping up a bubble offering a free NET Passport and changing the default search engine to MSN com Some senior members of the ISS disagreed with the group s condemnation splitting off and forming the independent People s International Solitaire Society a new organization that rejects the parent group s archaic and anti social view of Solitaire The People s International Solitaire Society believes it is time for Solitaire players to embrace technological innovations such as the internet and friends The United People s Front of Solitaire a radical Solitaire group that the United States government

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/105 (2016-04-30)
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  • Royal Dansk Butter Cookies
    they have a light overall taste and consistency without any surprises You can always count on the round ones to be slightly pleasant These need to stay in the lineup unchanged some people who walk near the huge cookie tin won t be daring enough to try the advanced varieties The Square Ones These introduce the taster to the sugar topped butter cookie variety Cookies apparently don t contain enough sugar in the dough so this variety has additional sugar fused onto the top surface The result is a pleasant taste but with a very rough texture These are also the thickest variety so eating them is relatively strenuous It s a good idea that could use some tuning Since the primary drawback is a high mass I suggest that Royal Dansk change this to a thinner more cracker like variety The Pretzel Ones These are always the first to go It s not hard to see why these have all of the benefits of a fused sugar top but with about two thirds of the mass of the heavy Square Ones These are the pinnacle of butter cookie development and need to be kept exactly as they are The Swirly Ones As far as I can tell these are just the Round Ones with a more interesting shape that results in a better texture The complex shape crumbles more smoothly for some reason making these the most pleasant to eat It seems like the flavor is slightly lighter as well although this could simply be a psychological effect of the better shape These are also a crucial element of the butter cookie lineup The Crappy Ones I m not sure what Royal Dansk was thinking when they put these into the tin between the good varieties Dangerously similar in

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/104 (2016-04-30)
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  • Microsoft Word
    do not want that image to move itself automatically every time I edit the text near it Why is this so difficult When I insert an image into a document I want it to behave in the same way that most images behave in most documents Why are Word s default settings so far from this Do you like toolbars Let s make them customizable But really when you think about it the menu bar is a toolbar too So let s give the menu bar a little grippy control on its far left side just like the other toolbars That way when you drag it the menu toolbar will move just like the other toolbars Fantastic except that it s only a few pixels away from File the most commonly used menu for most users So if you miss File with the mouse by a few pixels and drag downward the same way you d normally operate the File menu you pull the entire menu bar away from the window and leave it floating around in the document area or worse bound sideways to the left edge of the window Does anyone ever do this intentionally I ve certainly never seen it happen Menus sit at the top of programs For the 3 people who might want to move this one is it worth annoying the rest of the user base If the feature must be kept why is its control so easily activated accidentally Microsoft Word is primarily used for two tasks business documents and school papers As a recent graduate I have a lot of experience with the latter Since this is a primary use of the program you would think that Microsoft would cater to it Most high level classes for example require you to turn in papers with page numbers These page numbers must be in a particular position and often require your last name to be next to them Usually they should not start on page 1 Sometimes there s a cover page or two in front of the document s logical page 1 so you actually need the page numbers to start on page 3 but label it 2 Just try to do this with Microsoft Word It s possible I think but I ve never seen anyone spend enough time digging through dialog after dialog to actually find out how to do it Why aren t common tasks easier Most professional typesetting packages allow users to cite sources dynamically within academic papers For example a free package allows you to make a list of citations with predefined fields such as Author Title etc and refer to them by simple short names in the text It builds the bibliography automatically from this list in any style the user wants based on the fields It s easy to say I want this in alphabetical order by the author s name in MLA format I think it s even the default which makes a lot

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/103 (2016-04-30)
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