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Comment: Re:Always be polite. ALWAYS. (Score 1) 201

by sjbe (#48949279) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

I agree w/ you, but how exactly do you 'fire' customers? Refusing to sell them the product/service in question?

Just just either ask them politely to take their business elsewhere or you charge them a rate so high that it will accomplish the same end. If you have control over pricing you can give them a "go away quote" which basically charges a ridiculous rate. If they pay, fine but then at least you are being compensated adequately. We have a pain in the ass customer at my business and we simply keep raising rates on them to compensate us for the time we have to spend. Sometimes though no amount of money is worth the problems some customers cause.

I have on two occasions however told a customer in no uncertain terms that due to their behavior we no longer cared to do business with them. One was sexually harassing one of my employees and on the other occasion they had someone who simply was rude well above and beyond what his business was worth to us.

Comment: Monopolies abuse those without options (Score 1) 201

by sjbe (#48948731) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

We'd switch to another provider if one was available

There is your problem. They have you by the short curlys and they know it. Doesn't make it right but customers without options tend to get abused.

What I would do after a conversation like that is take it to your Public Utilities Commission if possible. That usually gets their attention. Another option is to call and ask for their legal department (after consulting your own) after very completely documenting what has gone on. That also tends to focus their attention. You also have the option of filing a lawsuit if their legal department won't return your calls. You don't have to actually do anything with it but I can almost guarantee it will get a response.

Comment: Calm in the face of incompetence (Score 1) 201

by sjbe (#48948705) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

If you treat the customer support badly, don't expect good service.

Absolutely. Be a nice person and you'll usually get better results. HOWEVER, it can be very difficult to remain calm when you run into an incompetent support person and most of us have at one time or another. You know the person reading from a script, who doesn't listen to what you are telling them, who is under orders to not really be helpful, incentivized to get you off the phone as fast as possible and doesn't speak the language very well after you have been transferred between 5 different departments thanks to their incomprehensible phone tree. I've run into plenty of support people who have absolutely no idea what they are doing and/or clearly did not have a fuck left to give. If the person I'm speaking to doesn't know how to solve the problem then I expect them to get me to someone who does as quickly as possible. I'm ok with someone admitting they don't know the answer. I'm not ok with them being rude, dismissive, or wasting my time.

Comment: Always be polite. ALWAYS. (Score 3, Insightful) 201

by sjbe (#48948671) Attached to: Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

Sometimes (Often) you really do get a customer that is an a*****e. When doing an adjust or refund we have to put down a reason for it.

While I will agree wholeheartedly that some customers really are a-holes (I've run into quite a few myself) there is NEVER any excuse for behaving as if they are. You behave professionally and politely even if asking the customer to take their business elsewhere. Always. No exceptions. If they get threatening or abusive then you end the conversation or transfer it to someone whose pay grade justifies taking the abuse. But at all times you remain polite even when the customer doesn't deserve it and isn't being reasonable or nice. If you cannot do this then you should not be talking to customers.

A few times corporate called us asking why the paperwork said "Customer is an asshole" Well, which part of that don't you understand? It was later changed to "Code 10"

Customer being a jerk is never a "reason" to give a discount. You either give a discount because you need/want their business or you don't give a discount and let the customer do whatever they feel is appropriate. Management can set whatever guidelines they want. I have *increased* the amount charged to a customer because they were not being nice but I would never give a discount they were not otherwise entitled to just because they were a jerk. That said, there does need to be a way to signal to others in the company that a particular customer is problematic. I've fired customers because they were not nice to people who worked for me. I've also fired people who worked for me who were unprofessional towards customers.

Comment: Technology builds on earlier technology (Score 1) 357

by sjbe (#48948431) Attached to: How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

Oh, and the thing that started it all, the iPod? Sorry, that is pretty much entirely based on a Kane Kramer patent from 1979 called the IXI plastic music box.

Guess what? Technology builds on previous technology. The automobile was a progression of earlier technology. The PC was a progression of earlier technology. So is almost any technology you care to name. Here's the thing. The actual implementation of the idea in a market is every bit as vital and often far more difficult to execute than the initial raw idea. Ford wasn't the first company to build cars but they were the first company to mass produce them in a way we would recognize to this day. Apple wasn't the first company to come up with a GUI but they were the first company to bring one to market in a way that was appealing to folks like you and me. Merely creating an idea is nearly worthless unless you can also turn it into something people can use. Something people want or need. Something that scratches an itch for them. For almost 40 years Apple has regularly figured out how to actually turn ideas into products with wide appeal. The fact that they weren't actually the first to come up with the raw concept is not especially important.

There are almost no non-trivial technologies you can point to in the last 1000 years that did not build directly off of earlier work in some form or fashion. Yes you probably can trace the iPod to work done 30 years earlier. So what? That IXI plastic music box you mention wasn't useful to anyone. The supporting technologies such as flash memory, mp3 encoding, the internet, compact microelectronics, online music stores, etc simply didn't exist in a usable form at that time because the state of the art in technology hadn't gotten there yet. Apple wasn't first into lots of technologies but they regularly have been first to get technologies turned into products that people actually gave a shit about. And that matters. A lot. Apple is the most valuable private company in the world because of that fact.

Comment: Re:What are you planning to do? (Score 1) 164

by sjbe (#48933065) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

The stupid GPS restriction would prevent me from doing that despite the fact that indoor flights pose no hazard to the White House or anyone else except me. There are indoor uses for these copters. I'll bet you can think of some.

GPS doesn't work worth a shit indoors.

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I was in some way arguing for putting GPS on these drones? I don't care about that at all. I'm merely responding to the fellow who seems uncomfortable with the notion of making a product intentionally unflyable in restricted airspace. And the simple fact is that there is a public interest to be considered here which likely outweighs your desire to fly a drone near the white house.

Comment: Re:What are you planning to do? (Score 2) 164

by sjbe (#48933007) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

Are you an American? I ask because I cringe when I see this type of comment from a people who should understand what freedom and limited government is supposed to mean.

Yes I am and I'm also bright enough to realize that freedom does not mean you get to do whatever the hell you want any time you want regardless of the consequences. Freedom does not mean no laws. Limited government does not mean no government. It means we keep government out of things that it has no reason to be involved in. Safety of the public airspace is something the government very much has a reason to be involved because there is a compelling public interest at stake.

We don't use a metric of what I 'need' to do to determine what freedoms I should have.

We do that all the time. We do not permit you to legally drive to work at 120mph because you do not need to do so and it would endanger others. There are all kinds of legal limits on your behavior which balance the needs of society against your desires. Your freedom ends when it impinges on my safety and my ability to enjoy the same freedom and vice-versa. That is the metric.

I don't need to purchase a 64 ounce mountain dew. That hardly means that I should be protected from doing so if I choose to.

If you can explain to me how your purchase of a mountain dew will result in it crashing on the white house lawn or bringing down an airliner then we can pretend that your analogy has any bearing on reality.

I could continue, but frankly if you don't understand or agree with the argument it's pointless to go on. You comment regarding the United States being 'not so different' that China is fairly telling. It's not based in any semblence of reality. Censorship? Political arrests?

You mean like the folks who were arrested and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay often wrongfully and all of them without charges? Like the people we've tortured and innocent people we've killed in the last ten years over two pointless wars? Like the FBI censoring US citizens with National Security Letters? Like the NSA spying on innocent people including those with unusual political leanings? Let's not pretend the US is some paragon of virtue.

I've actually been to China. Spent a fair bit of time there within the last decade. I'm probably far more aware than you are of how restrictive their government is and yes it can be quite oppressive in some ways. Thing is that you can say pretty much anything you want about China and the opposite is often almost equally true at the same time. China is a mass of contradictions, not all of which are obvious or make sense.

Comment: I don't care about DC traffic (Score 0) 164

by sjbe (#48931495) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

You haven't lived in/around DC. Driving a few miles can be quite the chore. 8 miles can easily mean 1-2 hours.

Yes I have spent plenty of time in and around DC. No I don't give a shit if the traffic is bad sometimes. I particularly don't give a shit if it interferes with your ability to legally fly a drone regardless of purpose. If it is that important to you then figure out how to do it in unrestricted airspace.

Comment: Balancing public needs versus private wants (Score 1) 164

by sjbe (#48931479) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

There's no 'need' to consume alcohol, play team sport, have foods with added sugar, own a car, or have the internet either. It's idiotic to look at laws restricting things on the basis that there is no 'need' for the thing they restrict.

It's not at all idiotic to look at need versus wants when public safety concerns are involved. We do it all the time. Every single example you cite (particularly alcohol) has laws relating to balancing public needs versus private wants. Should we permit you to drive drunk just because you want to? You certainly have no need to do so. You might need to own a car but that doesn't mean your needs and wants are free of restrictions. You don't need to own a car without a muffler and so we restrict your ability to own/operate one on public roads. If you want to live in a civilized society you constantly have regulate genuine needs versus wants. You might need a car but you don't need one that is demonstrably unsafe to those around you.

We restricted the airspace in various places for very good and practical reasons. If you think a specific bit of airspace should be unrestricted then by all means petition your government to un-restrict it. However you apparently have no argument for why we should permit drone in restricted airspace beyond mere desire which is not sufficient.

Comment: What are you planning to do? (Score 1, Interesting) 164

by sjbe (#48930987) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

I didn't know that. It actually bothers me that they would intentionally make their product un-flyable in areas to 'prevent' me from breaking the law. Is it a law that they have to do it?

Why should it bother you? What is it preventing you from doing that you would otherwise do? You have no actual need to fly a drone near the white house or in other restricted airspace. Given the safety concerns involved what you want (versus need) to do is pretty much irrelevant unless you can articulate a coherent reason for what you hope to accomplish. And for the record, no we should not by default trust you or anyone else to necessarily make good choices in this matter. I'd certainly be willing to listen to good arguments in favor of flying in controlled airspace but I doubt there are any.

I'm looking at car manufacturers: how would people feel if they governed their cars to the posted speed limits on the roads?

Probably annoyed but for a very different reason. We have nearly 100 years of history of the public being able to control the speeds of their cars but the consequences of that precedent are very different and well understood. Very few people have actually piloted an aircraft, manned or unmanned.

I'm not surprised that a Chinese company took this route: it's par for the course in China to be under the governmental thumb.

Not really so different here. People have this illusion that the government in China is this all pervasive authoritarian entity but in reality it has less control than most westerners realize. Conversely, the US government is more pervasive and intrusive than most people seem to be willing to acknowledge. That's not always a bad thing but it definitely causes problems sometimes.

Comment: Non governmental rule making bodies (Score 1) 164

by sjbe (#48930849) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

It may seem odd that a private club has effectively been given authority to make law, but it has worked quite well for 60 years or whatever.

It's nothing unusual at all. To give another example Congress granted the SEC delegates authority over accounting standards to the Financial Accounting Standards Board which is not a governmental agency but rather is an association of professionals tasked with setting accounting standards for public companies. And they do a very good job of this task. (I'm a certified accountant so yes I would actually know) If they failed in it the SEC could take the responsibility away at any time and by using this group the public gets better results for less money.

This is analogous to the other AMA, where doctors make rules for themselves and any doctor violating these generally accepted standards is likely to lose any court case.

The AMA is a bad example because they are fundamentally a lobbying group for physicians. They do not have any formal rule making authority that I am aware of delegated to them by the government.

Comment: So drive a few miles in the other direction (Score 2) 164

by sjbe (#48930813) Attached to: Drone Maker Enforces No-Fly Zone Over DC, Hijacking Malware Demonstrated

What if you live, say, 20 miles from the capital? If that happened in London it would stop about *15% of the UK population from being able to use one!

And what is your point? Are these people who so desperately want to fly a drone incapable of driving a few miles to an area without restricted airspace?

Fact is while there are plenty of innocent reasons to want to fly a drone, there are virtually no innocent reasons to *need* to fly a drone. Particularly that close to sensitive airspace.

Comment: Re:A scientific hypothesis is not a guess (Score 1) 152

by sjbe (#48917187) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Hypothesis was used in the quote. In fact "theory" doesn't appear at all. So you're arguing against some other statement.

Had you a clue about the scientific process you would know that the word "theory" as it relates to science simply means a well tested version of one or more hypothesis. The words are often used interchangeably though they are technically different mostly in the degree to which they have been substantiated.

Reality doesn't give a crap how words are used.

Engineers and scientists do give a crap how words are used because how they are used matters and affects their work.

You apparently do and are taking umbrage.

"Umbrage"? No. I'm just an engineer correcting someone who is stating something that is incorrect.

Comment: Big city thinking (Score 2) 397

by sjbe (#48916375) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Having lived in NY state, according to NY city people, everything past Westchester is irrelevant. Even Albany (state capital for non US people) is a hick town that doesn't matter.

I've seen that too. I'm generalizing of course and have seen plenty of exceptions but NYC dwellers definitely often think their city is all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips when it's really just another city and not actually amazing to the rest of us. I went to college on the east coast and spent plenty of time in NYC and the folks from NYC were among the most parochial people I've ever met. They tended to think of themselves as worldly when they barely knew (or cared about) anything if it didn't exist in NYC. Most of them couldn't drive and those that could generally couldn't drive well. They had tons of preconceived and almost invariably wrong ideas about what life is like elsewhere.

In their mindset, water magically appears from the tap & the 200 miles a aqueduct doesn't need maintenance, nor do the roads stretching 400 miles to the other side of the state.

That's unfortunately not unique to NYC though it seems to be particularly virulent there. Lots of big city folks act like they think all the food, water, power, and stuff they buy appears by magic somehow and is undeserving of their attention. I had a friend a few years back who was living in one of the bigger midwest cities and he was complaining about how there was "nothing to do". I asked him what he wanted to do that wasn't available in some form or fashion but was in NYC? Major league sports? Good shopping? Excellent restaurants? Public transit? Museums? etc. Basically everything he was complaining about was available but just not quite in the same fashion as in NYC. Not that NYC doesn't have great stuff going for it but it's still just another big city with the same amenities available in most big cities.

I'd rather be led to hell than managed to heavan.