mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Umm, no, i don't think I'll be getting mom THAT...

I buy a lot of stuff online, so I'm subscribed to a lot of advertising newsletters from companies who want to sell me stuff - I stay subscribed because sometimes they have good deals. And of course, every time a holiday rolls around, they suggest that I buy their products for that holiday. But this Mother's Day suggestion from Philips - the second item - doesn't really seem appropriate.

It would be a memorable Mother's Day, alright... (you may have to refresh a few times to get the link to work).

I don't think Mother's Day and "bonsai bikini line" should ever refer to the same product.

Screenshot of the email is at top of post.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Top down, chrome spinning?

This weekend was one of the first really nice weekends of the year. I was driving to the gym on Saturday in my truck, windows down, backpack rap blasting on the stereo, and thinking, man, it would be awesome to have a convertible.

And then I started thinking - maybe I should buy one.

I've been toying with the idea of buying a second car for a while- something fun, for occasional driving.

My thought is that I could buy an '83-89 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible cheap - I've seen running ones go on eBay for <$2000. I picked that year range because if it's 20 model years or older, it's considered old enough to get Historic plates in the state of Maryland, which drops registration fees by about 75%, plus means I don't need to get it smogged.

I'm thinking it wouldn't add much to my insurance, and parts would be cheap, since it's the same components as pretty much every Chrysler made in the 80's and 90's.

My first car was a LeBaron - a hand me down sedan, complete with vinyl roof. It was dorky, but it beat taking the yellow bus or getting a ride from mommy. It's not the, umm, most exciting car, but most of the other convertibles from the 80's are harder to find because so few were sold (Infiniti M30, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Celica), cost more (because they are made from more desirable cars like Camaros or Mustangs) or are expensive to fix (Mercedes, Saab).

But it mostly comes down to if I can pry open my wallet. I'm generally resistant to spending money on anything fun. There is absolutely no financial justification for this - it's spending money on something I hope will be enjoyable, but it's going to cost me money. Part of me thinks I should let myself spend money on things that I enjoy - that I deserve to treat myself for my hard work. But for the most part, I try to live frugally - I eat cheap, I try to pick up extra overtime and extra cash from reselling stuff, I don't buy expensive electronics or travel or much else beyond the necessities. I feel like, even though my job is fairly secure, that I should try to stockpile as much cash as humanly possible just in case. But at some point I need to start doing things I enjoy, and that means spending money.

But I'd be surprised if I can convince myself to actually go through with this. Which may be because it's a bad idea, but also because I think I'm completely incapable of spending money if I don't have to.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


So we had a meeting today at work about the pending reorganization of the IT department at the college I work for.

And I know about as much as I did after the meeting as I did before.

We were told last month that there would be major changes in the department, but weren't told what they would be, officially, until today. Of course, the rumor mill being what it is, we had a pretty good idea about the broad parts of the changes. I was hoping today's meeting would have some more specifics, but it didn't.

I know I have a new director. He's got a pretty good reputation, so that's good - not that I had any serious problems with my current director - I'm not really important enough for it to matter who is 2 levels up from me.

As far as what this will mean for me, it's hard to say, because nobody knows the specifics of how the department will be reorganized or if or how any major changes will occur in terms of structure. It's possible some good will come out of this, but the cynic in me figures that I'll end up getting screwed somehow.

One thing that concerns me, long-term, is that the focus of current management seems to be more on people, on relationship building, and I seem to be pigeonholed as a tech person. Which means that I'm probably not going anywhere career-wise.

The irony is I'd much rather be doing management or business process stuff. I know enough about technology that I can generally figure out what needs to get done with enough head-banging, googling, and asking questions, but it's not really what I enjoy. I have an undergrad degree in business as well as an MBA, and I'd much rather be doing more high-level stuff than writing batch files, but it seems like I'm not going to be anytime soon - which means I probably won't be getting promoted anytime soon.

But we'll see.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Some assembly required...

I work in IT, which means that part of my job is breaking down how to use a computer to people who aren't necessarily familiar with them. For phone support (which, thankfully, I don't do much of anymore), that means walking people through things that I do without thinking, and it means trying to use terms that don't require any knowledge - reminding oneself that to someone who barely knows how to use a PC, terms like "system tray" or "quicklaunch toolbar" are pretty much useless. When writing documentation, this means remembering to assume nothing, and to use lots of pictures and screenshots and complete step-by-step instructions so the instructions are conveyed as intended.

I wish furniture manufacturers would use the same thinking when writing instructions for putting furniture together. I spent an hour or two last night trying to put together a pair of deck chairs, while cursing the whole time. I bought them probably a year and a half ago at an end-of-the-season clearance sale, stuck them in a corner, and forgot about them. I decided that it would be nice to put them together so that 1)I could actually use them - I'm hoping to finally get my back yard fenced in this summer and actually spend some time back there and 2)so I could use the space in the corner of my family room for something other than partly-assembled outdoor furniture. So I unfurled the mass of packing material and dug out the instructions.

The instructions were only a page, and step one was basically "use a bunch of parts to attach this part to that part - the parts including a shim plate, bolts, nuts, nut covers, bolt covers, and washers. It included a thoroughly useless diagram. So following the instructions, I put the bolts into the holes, stuck the nuts on the end, and cursed a bunch, because I couldn't figure out how to go from there. If I tried to move the bolt, it just spun in place, and if I tried to move the nut, it stayed in the same place. And in the process I managed to tilt the chair and smack myself in the head.

Finally, with the help of a cheap socket set I got free after rebate years ago, I hit on a strategy - hold the bottom of the nut with the socket wrench, and use one of the little toy metal wrenches that came with it to turn the bolt. It worked, and I got the chairs together, although I'm still not entirely sure I didn't assemble them backwards.

This may be completely obvious to anyone who knows anything about constructions - and it would explain why each chair came with two cheap baby's first wrenches. But I don't, and it is a stupid assumption to assume that anyone who buys a set of patio chairs knows anything about using tools. Instructions like this need to tell you not just what you need to do, but how to do it. They need to test instructions by having people with no experience try to put it together and see if they can.

Then again, patio furniture isn't exactly a reoccurring purchase, so companies can probably get away with this kind of thing. Still, they shouldn't, and retailers shouldn't put up with it - it leads to very annoyed customers.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In defense of denim...

Lileks has an excellent takedown of George Will's anti-denim rant. Evidently, George Will and Dan Askt hate my pants.

I'm a casual dresser. I'm at work right now, eating lunch at my desk, and I'm wearing jeans, a polo shirt, and a pair of Adidas sneakers. Because I work in desktop support, it's not unusual for me to have to move equipment across campus or crawl under someone's dusty desk unplugging equipment. So it makes sense to wear something durable, and something that I don't mind if gets ripped or dirty.

I can't remember the last time I wore a tie. I had to buy a jacket last year for a funeral - before then, the last time I wore a suit was to job interviews when I was in college. I'll even confess to occasionally engaging in a behavior that even many of Lilek's commenters regard as evil - wearing sweatpants in public (although usually it's while coming back from the gym and stopping at the grocery store or Target).

I've liked some of Will's political columns. But while I'm pretty conservative on things like economic policy and national defense, I'm pretty small-l liberal - think libertarian - on social things, and that includes things like dress and hobbies.

Will also disparages video gamers in his column, despairing that adult gamers are allowed to vote. I'm not a gamer - I don't play anything more intense than an occasional game of Wii Bowling - but if that's what you enjoy, I don't see a reason you shouldn't be able to just because you are old enough to be drafted. If anything, I think it's a sign of progress that video games and the technology that underlies them have gotten so good that they can be entertaining to someone in their 20's or 30's.

Now, I'm a big believer in personal responsibility - I hold nothing but disdain for, say, homeowners losing their homes for taking out mortgages they could never pay back. But if with freedom comes responsibility, the inverse is also true - with responsibility comes freedom - and that includes the freedom to wear sandals and shorts where I want, and to spend my free time playing video games if I so choose.

The fact that people wear jeans or play Halo isn't, to me, a sign that our culture is failing, but rather the opposite - that people have a level of individual freedom that they didn't before, freedom to enjoy life the way they want. That, to me, is exactly what's right with America.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something shitty to come home to....

So I had a long day at work today - had to be in a 6am to haul and set up equipment for the benefits fair that our HR department does every year. Worked 'till 5, went to the gym for an abbreviated workout, then swung back to work to disassemble everything.

So I get home and am looking forward to eating some dinner and passing out. Walk across my tiny front lawn to grab the newspaper, walk into the house.... and notice the smell of, umm, fecal matter. I look at the cat and ask her if she pooped somewhere she wasn't supposed to. She doesn't answer. So I walk up the stairs and through my beige carpeted first floor hallway.... and then look down and notice brown footprints. Ohh no.... I look at the bottom of my New Balance sneakers, and confirm the worst... I'd stepped in dog shit, and tracked it all over my light-colored carpet.

My next-door neighbors have several dogs, and I've seen them on my lawn on occasion, so I'm pretty sure that they are probably the source of the frequent presents I find on my front lawn. I don't have any proof, though, and I'm not a confrontational person, so I don't really want to say anything to them. But I'm really pissed off right now.

On the plus side, one of my Christmas presents this year was a Bissell SpotBot, and it seemed to have done a pretty good job on my trail of shitstains. I still need to scrub the hell out of the bottom of my gym sneakers, though.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A dog-gone disappointing move by the pres..

I was watching the CNN coverage of the Obama's new dog and have to say that I'm disappointed that he didn't adopt a shelter dog.

I'll admit that as a fiscal conservative, I'm not a fan of most of his policies - but if he had adopted a dog, I would have acknowledged it as a good move. Instead, I think he missed an opportunity to do some good for a cause that means a lot to a lot of people, and for animal welfare in general. They got a Portuguese Water Dog based on it's hypoallergenic qualities, but I would imagine that if the Pres really put his mind to finding a shelter one to adopt he could have - PetFinder lists 13 as of my writing of this post. What are the odds that a shelter wouldn't jump at the chance to make one of them have a forever home at the White House (well, OK, a 4 to 8 year home)?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kind of agree with this (somewhat tasteless)PETA Ad - and this Best of CraigsList post by a shelter manager. Buying an animal from a breeder or pet store means one less home for a shelter animal. Millions of perfectly healthy animals are killed every year, while people are buying animals that bred specifically to be bought.

The CNN coverage I watched today had someone say "this is America, people can choose to buy an animal or adopt one". That is true, but I do think people should think about the consequences of buying over adopting - and I think a popular president giving some publicity to shelters instead of to breeders would have been a great move (and probably made a lot of pet-owning conservatives think a little more highly of him). Instead, he passed up an opportunity to do good for the easy way out, and I think that is a shame.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The oddest auction system I've ever seen...

I'm a bit of an auction enthusiast. I've been buying stuff on eBay for nearly a decade, and selling stuff on eBay for almost as long. I also go to in-person auctions whenever I can, usually in the hopes of finding stuff that I can resell on eBay or at hamfests. I was an econ minor in college, so I'm always interested in markets, and auctions are generally one of the best examples of a completely efficient market - bringing a buyer and seller together and coming up with a price.

My mom, while somewhat internet-savy, doesn't believe in buying stuff online. She also doesn't cook as much as she used to, and has been eating quite a few Stouffer's Lean Cuisine meals. They are running a promo where you enter codes from the package, which give you points that you can use to buy stuff at auctions they run on their site. Since mom knew I buy and sell online, she gave me her account info and asked me if I wanted to use her points.

I looked around the site (registration required to see much of anything), and it is the oddest auction setup I've ever seen, for a couple reasons. It's basically designed in such a way as to eliminate all the advantages of a traditional online or brick and mortar auction.

The first thing that makes it odd is the lack of transparency. In an in-person auction, you see what the guy next to you is bidding, and adjust your bidding accordingly. On eBay, you see what the current bid is and how much more you need to bid to beat them. Yes, I realize there is more to eBay than that - the person could have a proxy bid set up, so you may need to bid higher, and many buyers snipe - bid at the last second - so you don't always know how much competition you have or how much they are going to bid.

But the Stouffer's site just has a place to put a bid in. You don't know how much other people are bidding, so you can't adjust your bid according to market prices. You have absolutely no frame of reference. You can't look at previous auctions and see what stuff has sold for so you have an idea of the market price, and you can't look at what the auction is currently going for to incrementally increase your bid. If you won - or lost, you have no idea if it's because you were one point high/low or 1,000.

The other thing that makes it challenging is that you aren't bidding in a recognizable currency. On eBay, if you want to buy a Wii, you know what they sell for in stores and can adjust your bidding accordingly. If you are bidding on a Wii in Stouffer's Points you have no frame of reference - how many points are in a dollar? What is the maximum number of points you should be willing to pay?

I realize there are auctions that mirror the first scenario's lack of transparency - sealed-bid auctions, for example, where potential buyers don't know how much their competitors are bidding. But I can't think of anything comparable to the second.

I haven't bid yet, mostly out of fear that I'm going to blow way too many points. Which is probably silly, since if I don't bid the points go unused, and it's not like if I bid perfectly I can do much with the leftover points. To Stouffer's credit, if you bid and lose, you get your points back, so there isn't any risk. Still, I consider myself an auction veteran, and this system confounds me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So many questions....

From the time I turned 18 and went away from college, the amount of time I spent living with the parents went down sharply - I spent the summers before my sophomore and junior year there, but I worked and at one point took night classes, so I didn't see much of them. A few months after graduation, I ended up having to move back in with them - but a few months later, I got wind of an opportunity back in Baltimore, working for my old college. I picked up, moved out, and haven't been back since.

Well, that's not completely true. I'm back several times a year to visit for holidays - including right now for Easter.

For the past almost 3 years, I've been completely on my own - own house, no roomates/housemates. I'm chronically single. About the only living thing I have contact with from when I get home to when I leave for work is my cat, and as long as she's got food and occasionally a lap to curl up in, she doesn't really care what I do.

Which makes it kind of weird and annoying to be at the parents, because they do care what I do. I'm chronically being asked questions - when are you getting up? what do you want to eat? what time are you going to bed? are you going anywhere? I'm not used to having to plan things in advance, or answer to anyone. I've been answering most questions with a noncommittal grunt, which probably doesn't help things.

I understand the need to know schedules and the like when you have an extra person temporarily in the household, and I'm probably letting it get to me too much. But after being on your own for a while, you forget the advantages of not having to answer to anyone else, not having to plan the next 3 days worth of meals, wake-up times, and bedtimes in advance.

Of course, this may be part of why I'm chronically single. And if I ever did find someone, would I be willing to answer her questions?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Presenting iAnthony...

I decided to try my hand at another blog. I stole the idea from a few coworkers who were doing similar things. It's a one-photo-a-day site, which I figure I can now take photos for now that I have a shiny new iphone.

presenting iAnthony.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Easter in scenic NJ...

Well, I'm back in NJ - left a little after 1, was at the parents by 5 or so. It was actually a nice drive - warm enough that I had the windows cracked most of the way, not too much traffic, nice clear skies. It's days like this I actually like driving, although I was kind of paranoid every time I passed a bridge abutment or tree-strewn median that would have made a perfect police hiding spot - I really don't need another ticket on my record.

It's nice to see the family, and I like Easter - it's during nice weather, it's short enough that I don't go stir-crazy, and it involves ham. I need to fix my mom's computer while I'm up here - she got a virus. I'm also debating about going to an auction about 45 minutes away from the parent's house on Saturday - it doesn't look too great, but some of my best deals have been from auctions with little description.

I drank a ton of coffee today - 2 large cups before leaving Baltimore, and two more large cups on the drive. I still feel a little jittery - I don't know if it's nerves about being in NJ - especially since I had a car accident the last time I was up here - or just all the coffee - plus two giant donuts and some candy - that I ate on the drive back.

I also need to try not to think about work for a few days - I've got a few major projects looming right when I come back that I don't want to think about. I also feel bad that teh kitty is by herself - although she doesn't seem to mind ignoring me when I'm home, so I think she'll be OK under the capable cat-feeding skills of bsom.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Scenes from work, but did you pet it edition...

mad anthony: Check out these Sphynx kittens. I think they are pretty neat.

coworker: You know, I used to date a girl who had one of those.

mad anthony: So you dated a chick with a hairless pussy? Score!

(from doing a little reading on the web, it looks like Sphynx are actually pretty rare - there are only 4 up for adoption on PetFinder in the whole country. Also, the are evidently quite a bit of work - you need to bathe them regularly, they get ear infections, ect. And part of the reason I like having a cat is because I'm lazy and they are low maintenance)

Work again...

It's been one of those days.

We're in the middle of a major project at work that I'm heavily involved in. I wanted to take tomorrow - Holy Thursday - off, so I would have an extra day to drive to NJ and spend with the parents. I didn't want to mess up the project, though, so I asked my boss to verify that we wouldn't be doing anything on Thursday before taking the day off and telling the parents that I had.

So today I get an email that we are, in fact, migrating a few people, one of them being a very high up person in our department. So I email the parents that I won't be coming home until Friday, email my boss' boss and say I will be coming in and make sure it gets done.

So then said person and the higher-up come to my office, say they are moving it up so I can take Thursday off. So the good news is I get to take tomorrow off. The bad news is I look like a complete lazy-ass to some very important people in the organization.

The thing is that I'm not sure how I better could have handled this. I could have done as much as possible in advance, taken off, and hoped for the best, but I wanted to be around if something went wrong - both to fix it and to learn from it, as we are still ironing out some details. I could have not mentioned to the boss' boss that I was planning on being out, and just came in. That would have made me look good - but not let me take tomorrow off.

I guess I need to pick between family and work, and I'm not really sure what to pick. I don't see the 'rents much, they are getting up in years, and I want to spend time with them while they are still alive. At the same time, I want to move up at work, and being the kind of loyal person who is always available and never lets life interfere with work is pretty much the only thing I have going for me, and now I don't even have that. I'm not the smartest person at work, or the best at dealing with customers, or the hardest working, and I do want to move up eventually- but I've probably destroyed any chance of that ever happening.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Never get car industry news from someone who can't spell "Acura"..

Via WSJ OpinionJournals' sarcastic "everything is spinning out of control! feature comes these "exclusive pics" of foreign cars parked in and leaving a GM technical center in Michigan.

First of all, the article states that the photographed lot is The parking lot is private for visitors, people doing business at the facility and for others, but it was easy to see the cars through the fence - which, if I understand correctly, means the cars could have belonged to vendors or other non-GM employees. Also, it's not unusual (and is chronicled in such books as Taurus) for car companies to buy competitor's vehicles to compare them to their own.

But the biggest thing is that the magazine doesn't seem to realize what a foreign car is, or what brands GM makes. My favorite one is this one, which includes the caption Many foreign model cars are parked at a private parking lot in the GM building. From left: Acua,[sic] Saab, Saturn, VW, Hummer, Chevy, Buick, Ford and Mercedes. So out of 9 vehicles, 5 are GM brands - Saab, Saturn, Hummer, Chevy, and Buick are all GM brands. Or there is this pic, captioned with We see an American- made truck leaving GM! Of course, it's right behind a Nissan. Actually, except for the older XTerra in the pic, the other vehicles I can make out are all GM's - to the left of the Silverado behind the XTerra is another Chevy full-size truck - either a Silverado, Suburban, or Tahoe - and in front of that is a Saab, which is also a GM brand.

I'm not a big fan of the auto bailout, but I also think that some of the attempts to find scandal are finding things that aren't there. This seems like one of the silliest of them - but what do you expect from someone who can't figure out that there is an R in Acura?

Monday, April 06, 2009

The end of the chronic new car buyer?

Last year, when car sales were starting to slow down, I was talking to my dad (who drives a 1998 Plymouth Voyager with !30k miles) about slowing car sales, and he went "of course car sales are slowing down - when I drive down the road, it looks like everyone already has a new car". He had a point - I often wonder what's wrong with me when I drive around and see people way younger than me rolling around in way nicer cars- early 20-somethings in Beemers and Escalades.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the decline of the chronic new car buyer. It profiles two people who always buy new cars - sometimes several a year. Even some of these people are starting to wonder if that's a good idea, as people in general are keeping cars longer and the number of people trading in cars that are a year or two old has declined sharply.

But even more interesting than the article is the comments, some of which blame the chronic car buyers for the current economic problems, for the focus on consumerism, and even accuse them of having mental problems.

Now, buying a new car every year or so isn't a great financial move. And if you are financing it, especially if you are trading in a car that you owe more on than it's worth and rolling it into the new loan, then you are throwing away money. But the people in the article sound like they can afford it. They've decided that buying cars is something they like - a hobby - and that they are willing to spend money on it.

Yes, chasing a lifestyle you can't afford is bad. But there is nothing wrong with buying a new SUV or a big house or a flat-screen TV or a Starbucks Latte - if you can afford it without going into debt or taking money away from something else you would rather spend it on.

So where do I fall into the new car buying thing? When it comes to vehicles, I'm torn between two forces. One of them is the fact that I've always been a car enthusiast - as a kid, I had a Motor Trend subscription, a giant collection of Matchbox cars, and an ability to recognize pretty much every vehicle on the road. So I want to have a cool, enjoyable car. But I'm also a cheapskate - I tend to keep things until they absolutely need to be be replaced, and I have trouble bringing myself to spend money on things that I don't absolutely have to.

So right now I'm driving a nearly 3 year old Ford Ranger with ~38k miles. While I sometimes find myself on car company websites, checking pricing, I know it will be a while before I can bring myself to replace a perfectly functional vehicle. I've told myself to not seriously consider another vehicle for at least two more years - at which point I may consider buying a second used vehicle - something sporty and fun - instead of a new car. But I'll cross that road when I come to it.

Feel-good, do-nothing lawmaking

Last month I went to a gun auction. As they were running through the pre-auction stuff, they mentioned that people would not be eligible to purchase a handgun unless they had a card saying they had passed a hunter safety class (or other, more difficult to obtain documents like a gun dealer license or be a retired police officer). I didn't have one, so I turned around and left.

I'm hoping to buy a handgun in the near future - I want something small and cheap for occasional target shooting. There are a bunch of people from work who usually organize a cabin trip in the next month or two, so I wanted to get it soon - which meant I had to look into getting it fast. I figured it would be hassle.

Turns out it's not. You can actually get it online just by watching a half-hour online flash presentation, and then print out a PDF of my certificate. So I completed it today at work, running through the video while I waited for PC's to finish imaging or rebooting.

The video is there, according to the website, in order to meet the requirements of the Maryland Gun Safety Act of 2002, which requires people to take a gun safety class.

Now, I'm pretty libertarian, especially on stuff like gun rights - I would love to see things like concealed carry in Maryland, which I know will never happen. Still, it's hard to argue that making people take a gun safety class before purchasing a gun is too much of a restriction - it is good for people buying a gun to know how to use it. But the online class is useless - it doesn't teach much beyond the obvious ("don't point a gun at anything you don' want to shoot"), and there is no accountability - no test or other proof that you actually learned anything.

The law sounds good in theory - let people buy guns, but make sure they know how to use them. It sounds great to say that people who have purchased a handgun have had to take a gun safety class. But the class itself is pretty pointless, and nobody really gains anything from it. It's the kind of law that sounds good, but when you look at what it actually consists of, is entirely pointless.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

iLove my new iPhone

For the last year plus, I've been telling pretty much everyone I know how much I want an iPhone. Well, my pleas finally reached someone at work important enough to give the OK, so on Wednesday I became the proud user of a 16gb iPhone 3g in black.

The iPhone replaces my previous smartphone, a Verizion (HTC) VX6700 Windows Mobile phone. The VX was problematic - it would freeze pretty regularly. I would sometimes have trouble answering phone calls - I'd hit answer and nothing would happen. It's tiny internal memory ran out a few months ago and I stopped getting emails. It would randomly decide to lose all it's sounds unless I rebooted it.

Compared to the VX - with it's fold-out keyboard - the iPhone is tiny and elegant. I don't feel like I'm carrying a brick in my pocket. I haven't had it long enough to say how well it works - I loved the VX at first - but so far it's been smooth. It's intuitive and easy to use. It has lots of cool features. Web browsing seems somewhat better than the VX. Exchange integration works well, as does gmail - although I can't say how the VX would have done with exchange, since we are currently in the process of migrating people - my account was only moved last week. I can actually easily bring up the camera - on my VX, it involved multiple buttons instead of just hitting the camera icon on the iPhone.

I plan on using the hell out of the iPhone - web browsing, email, phone calls, maybe download a few games. One thing I probably won't use it for, though, is music - I already have an iPod Classic 80 gig refurb that I use for music. I like it because while it's nice, it's sturdy enough to stand up to gym use. While I'd hate to see anything happen to it, it would still be preferable to the world of hurt I would be in if I broke my work-owned iPhone, thus preventing my boss from calling me every morning to see how late I'm going to be to work, or to ask me a question I've already answered.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sorry, I didn't get a chance to check my voicemail...

The NYT has has an interesting article on the increasing unpopularity of voice mail. I admit I fall into the category of people who frequently don't bother checking their voice mail. I'm not too bad about checking my work land line, but I've had ones sit on my cell phone for weeks before I've noticed them.

But while the article give a lot of hypothesis of why people don't check their vm - email and text messages are faster and easier to respond to, voice mails are often long and pointless, young people are used to and demand instant communication - it doesn't go into the biggest reason I don't listen to voicemails - I usually already know what they say.

See, voicemail came about at the same time as another nifty invention - caller ID. And pretty much every cell phone has it. Luckily, my desk phone at work has it too. That means that I don't need to listen to voicemails, because I usually already know who they are from, and often why they are calling. Sometimes I may not answer a call because I'm busy, or because I need to finish something so I can give the person a better answer. Sometimes I know it's something I don't need to listen to - like when I get robo-calls from a company I signed up to do consumer testing with several years ago - right before I switched positions at work to working days, killing my ability to go do consumer testing during the day.

Obviously, part of the reason for the decline of voicemail is that cell phones are available all the time, so not being home is no reason to miss a phone call. But I suspect that caller ID is also a big factor - people aren't listening to voicemail because they already know they are from someone they don't want to talk to, or that they already know they have to call back.