Sweedie’s Tech is here!

I really enjoy reading about technology so I figured I might as well write about it as well. Hence, I started a new blog: http://sweediestech.wordpress.com

If you’re into technology, you should definitely check it out!

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Customer Service, a Thing of the Past

This week, one of the funniest and at the same time most disturbing stories went viral. This is the short version of the story: N-Control is a company that creates gaming accessories, specifically an add-on for hand controls to increase the accuracy in games. The accessory itself has gotten a lot of attention in the gaming media and it had gotten a lot of preorders from anticipating gamers. One customer had preordered one product for himself, was charged for it, never received it on the date promised, and never got any notice about why or when it was going to arrive. He contacted the company via their costumer relations email address and what played out from that point is nothing less that astonishing. Paul Christoforo, a man who is the president of his own PR company called Ocean Marketing answered all the emails himself. The problem was that he was being incredibly rude, cursing, calling the costumer names, and just being as unprofessional as one person could be. He even threatened to take his order himself and sell it on Ebay. After trying in vain to go above Christoforo’s head, he decided to forward the email conversation to one of the biggest gaming website; Penny Arcade. One of the main people behind the site chimed into the conversation, and Christoforo continued to be abrasive, abusive, and simply rude. Meanwhile Penny Arcade published the whole email conversation on their website for millions of people to see, and the internet immediately fought back. During the course of two days Christoforo’s career was ruined, his inbox flooded, his phone number, address, wife’s name, criminal record, and steroid use were outed. He was ruined, and rightfully so.

READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE

This whole debacle reminded me of my own experience with incredibly bad customer service.

A few years back my partner and I bought a Polaroid TV during black Friday. The TV was great… for a few months, but then the problems started. The TV started to turn off by itself, and after a while stopped working all together. We called Polaroid and after a lot of fighting we had a technician come out to fix it. The problem was that when he fixed it he somehow screwed up the screen so that it was all blurry. Seeing how much trouble we had getting to the point of having a major problem fixed, we decided not to go any further with the screen problem. We lived with it for a few months, until the TV broke down in the same way again. It just wouldn’t turn on. At this point we were naturally quite frustrated that we had to deal with these people once again. After many phone calls and frustrating interactions Polaroid agreed to letting us send the TV to them and have it repaired. The problem was that we had to find a box big enough to fit the TV in ourselves, they would not send us one, or pay for one. We reluctantly did this and paid about $20 for the type of box we needed and sent the TV to them.

A few weeks passed and we never got the TV back, nor heard anything from them, so we started calling customer service time and time again to try and get an update. At this point Polaroid had just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and it was almost impossible to get someone on the phone. The few times we did get a hold of someone they had no answers about our TV, and could not authorize a refund. I went to Walmart where we bought the TV to try and get a refund and they pretty much laughed in my face. We finally got a number to one of the customer relations supervisors and she was the person we had contact with from that point on. The problem was that she had no answers either, and after about three phone calls , and a few voice mail messages to her, she informed us that if we did not stop calling she would file harassment charges on us. Funny, a customer representative filing a harassment charge on a customer that has been robbed on their product by the very company she represents. At this point we felt like we were never going to see the TV again nor receive a refund so we did the only thing we could do: we went to the press. I contacted our local news station and they were very interested in this story and decided to help us out. They contacted Polaroid directly to get an answer and when this was done we received a check in the mail within the matter of days, including the $20 we put down on a box to send the TV to them.

It is such a similar story to the whole Christoforo debacle simply because as soon as he got caught and outed to the public his whole tone changed. Apparently it’s ok to treat customers like shit as long as nobody else knows about it, but as soon as the public finds out these companies are apologetic and want to do the right thing. It’s disgusting and shows the incredible decline in customer service quality that so many companies show these days. These are two extreme examples, yes, but how many times have you been put on the phone with someone that barely speaks English? Or have no idea whatsoever what they are talking about? Or are just plain rude? It is time for all of us to out these people and show every company that it is not ok to treat their customers this way without any type of repercussion.

I Plead the Fifth, Don’t Detain Me Bro

National Defense Authorization Act. Just taste those words for a moment.

Now that you’ve experienced what a pile of shit tastes like, let’s get down to business. For those of you who do not know what this act is, here is a small breakdown for you.

In 2001, immediately following the 9/11 attacks, an amendment to the (now) 48 year old NDAA was made. This amendment was called “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists”, or AUMF for short. What this amendment did to the NDAA was that it granted the President of the United States the authorization to use any force necessary against those who either planned, or was involved in the September 11 attacks. Under this act any terrorist suspect is allowed to be held indefinitely without a trial, this is why there are people in Guantanamo Bay that have never had a trial. Included in this bill was also the authorization to wirelessly wiretap any suspect at any time, whether inside or outside of the United States. Related to this, the USA PATRIOT Act (aka The Patriot Act) was also passed shortly after the attacks. This act granted law enforcement agencies the right to search any phone calls, any email, any communication whatsoever foreign and domestic, regulating financial transactions foreign and domestic, and it also expanded the definition of the word ‘terrorism’ to include domestic terrorism. Now, fast forward to December 15th 2011 where the US Senate approved an add-on bill to the NDAA that not only maintains the authority to hold a terror suspect indefinitely without a trial, but now also includes the little change that that said suspect can be an American citizen.

These are the exact words from the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

How anyone can say that the 2011 provision of the NDAA is not unconstitutional is beyond me. It’s right there: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury. 

The United States has also promised to keep up the treaties established by the Geneva Conventions, of which the third and forth branches talkes about “Grave Breaches” against the treaties. These Grave Breaches include: willfully depriving someone of their right to a fair trial if accused of a war crime, unlawful transfer, confinement and deportation. So not only is the United States breaking the laws of its own constitution, but it is also going against the treaties established by 149 countries during the Geneva Conventions with the passing of this bill.

I really shouldn’t have to say anything else beyond what I have said about this whole thing, but knowing how some people are going to defend this unbelievable infringement of freedom to the day they die, I think I need to say some more things. The main argument people have when defending this bill is the exact same argument that people had about the Patriot Act: “If you’re not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about”. Well, who is to say what is wrong and what is right? I think most people have a pretty basic understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong: Working is right, stealing for a living is wrong. Helping people is right, hurting people is wrong, etc. But what about the more murky subjects, such as protesting? Of course I’m talking about Occupy Wall Street as it is the biggest protesting movement out there. A lot of people seem to think that the OWS movement should not have the right to be out protesting and will do anything to stop it. However, probably an equal amount of people think that what they are doing is excellent and that they should keep the protesting up. In this case, who is to decide what is right or what is wrong? The answer is of course that the people with the power are the ones who decide, and I think most people know what they have decided. With that said, what is to say that an American protester is not all of a sudden considered a terrorist?

There are some horror stories coming from people being detained at OWS camps all over the country, police brutally beating them, hurting them, and then detaining them for the maximum allotted time a person can be detained for with just misdemeanor charges, without any chance of getting out regardless of bail having been posted or not. These stories are so unbelievable that it’s hard to believe that they are not coming from North Korea. Simply reading these stories makes me think that these peaceful OWS protesters are already considered as being terrorists and enemies of the state. What if that actually is the case? What if the government all of a sudden tells the protesters that they will be considered as being terrorists if they show up to protest? Will you still support this act that is already passed by the senate and signed by the president?

All of a sudden the term “I plead the fifth” has a whole other meaning.

Rick Perry Confuses Me…

So, Rick Perry has a new ad out in which he is extremely offensive to both the gay community and the military. What makes his ad even more reprehensible is that his staff managed to disable the comments section on youtube so that no one can voice their opinions about the ad. Luckily his staff forgot to disable the ratings functionality and with over 300,000 dislikes (compared to the ~8,000 likes), the public’s opinion on this ad is pretty clear. What confuses me about Rick Perry though is that while I feel like going to his house with the sole purpose of spitting in his face, I would most likely end up doing much dirtier things to his face as well.

Because, irregardless of his political views, Rick Perry is fucking hot to me. I’m a gay man and while I am merely 25 years old I am only attracted to men well above 40. Most people immediately make the assumption that it has something to do with money, believe me it does not. I just don’t find younger guys attractive at all. I like my men to be more mature, masculine, and preferably gray haired. It’s just my preference, and unfortunately Rick Perry fits that description to a T. I also have a thing for suits which only further increases my attraction to him. It’s like an internal battle between my big brain and my smaller brain. Luckily my big brain wins out because as excited as my penis gets whenever I see a picture of him, the minute he opens his mouth the excitement turns into anger. I guess there is such a thing as aggressive sex, but I generally prefer to be on the subordinate end on the aggression (TMI I know).

Anyway… To sum up: while I feel like punching the guy in the mouth, I also feel like putting my penis in there. I’m so confused…

Ps. In case you haven’t seen the ad, this is not it, but it’s funny:
 

The Fascist State of America

Put your tiny foil hats on for a bit, I just need to get something out. Recent events have truly made me think that this country is actually going towards a totalitarian fascist state. I know it’s a cliche by now, but sometimes it really feels as if I’m living in a Orwell novel. Let’s start with the most obvious thing that happened recently, the crackdowns on the Occupy Wall Street camps around the country.

The crackdowns have taken place all over the country, and they have all had a very similar pattern. They all happened at night, with no previous warning or demand for protesters to leave, and they all happened by force. On top of that there have been reports that the Department of Homeland Security have participated in a meeting with 18 mayors from all around the country to discuss how to suppress the protesters. Unless it’s not clear, that is against federal law. Going a little deeper and looking at specific events it’s pretty clear that police did everything in their power to suppress the protesters, most likely not by their own will or thought, but by orders from their superiors. Pepper spraying non-violent defenseless people that, sure, were occupying a space, but did not show any signs of force whatsoever. In fact one of the biggest mantras of these protesters is peace, not force. Or the use of tear gas to clear people out, some that hit people and severely injure them. I know that some of you will shake your head and say that these people had it coming, and that they are just lazy bums that wants a hand out, and all I have to say to you at this point is open your eyes. It’s very clear what the OWS movement is after by now, it’s not about getting a handout or the inability to get a job, it’s about three very specific things. 1) To hold the banks responsible for their very large part in the economic crash. 2) To minimize the growing inequality gap that exists in the U.S. (i.e. save the middle class from vanishing). 3) Get the money out of politics. This mainly refers to the fact that corporations can now donate as much money as they like to any candidate they want, and in effect buy a candidate. Money apparently rules everything, so with enough money, big corporations can buy themselves any type of freedom they like to have. Which gets me to another point. How is it that it’s ok for people to camp out in public waiting for stores to open for black Friday, or to go and see the new Twilight movie, or a Justin Bieber concert, but not ok for people to camp out in protest of the wrongs that is going on in this country? Well, the answer is very simple to me, even if the answer is truly fucked up: Capitalism. The occupiers aren’t camping out to buy anything like the other groups of people are. It’s clear what this country is going towards, and it’s not the rights of the people, but the rights of the corporations, so of course every effort to suppress a movement that is against that will be taken.

But enough about the OWS situation, there is enough information about that for anyone to find, and if you don’t want to find it then keep your eyes closed and forever be a sheep. There is something else that I really want to talk about and that is something that happened this past weekend. It’s not really a big deal, that is, unless it wouldn’t have become such a big deal. A girl tweeted (to her staggering 65 Twitter followers) that she said mean things to the governor of Kansas in person. See, not a big deal right? It’s what happened next that is the big deal. Somehow someone in the governor’s office sensed some fowl words being said about her boss, and decided to bring it to the girl’s boss’ (i.e. her high school principal’s) attention. The principal called the girl into his office and demanded that she wrote the governor an apology letter and told her that she had put the whole school and the state to shame by tweeting what she did. Really? First of all, she is an 18 year old girl tweeting to 65 of her twitter friends… no one cares. Second of all, she has the right to say whatever the fuck she wants about whoever the fuck she wants. What’s funny to me is that the person in the governor’s office that contacted the principal has as her main job to monitor negative comments that are being said about the governor on social media sites. It’s like some type of gestapo lap dog sniffing out teenagers who disagrees with the governor’s policies. Well Ms. Lapdog, sniff out this: GOVERNOR SAM BROWNBACK IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE AND SHOULD NOT BE IN OFFICE. Are you gonna call my mommy on me? Stupid bitch… Sorry, back to the point. The fact that a governor has someone that not only monitors social media in order to find negative comments about him, but also goes to such an extent as to pretty much intimidate anyone that expresses their views to retract and apologize is just first hand fascism. I guess Kansas is the new Sicily…

Ok, pull down your foil hats even further now because here comes the big one. Within a minimum of 20 years there will be devices out there that can read our minds. This is not a joke, nor is it a crazy conspiracy theory, it’s fact. If you don’t believe me just click on this link: THIS ONE, RIGHT HERE!!! Sure, it does not say anything about any projection of true mind reading being finalized within any specific time frame, but just think about it. If today’s technology is so good that it can recreate images a person is looking at using only readings of that said person’s brain activity, it’s 99.999999% certain that within 20 years the technique will be perfected. Why do I bring this up? Well, in 20 years you won’t have anyone scanning the social media web for ‘disloyal’ teens, you will be scanning buildings for disloyal thoughts. And anyone with those thoughts better watch out, or your boss will call you into his office…

If you take away some very fundamental rights, rights that America and most of the developed countries, are based upon such as the right to protest, the right to free speech, and in the future, the right to free thought… then what is left is a fascist state almost identical to the one George Orwell predicted would come true in 1984, just a couple of decades late. I could go on and on about other things that show big signs toward this type of state becoming a reality, but I’ve already ranted on for over 1100 words, and frankly I’m tired.

Death Comes When We Least Expect It…

Today I visited the DMV. As always on Saturdays the place was packed so I expected to reside there for a while. I decided to take my (shitty) smartphone out to check my facebook and other social sites to kill some time. That is something I wish I would not have done. I had no notifications, but one of my friend’s post caught my eye. He had written Rest In Peace followed by one of my other friend’s names…

At first I thought it was some type of cruel joke, and I almost wrote an angry comment on the post telling him that death is not something to joke about. But before I had come that far another similar post from another friend popped up. This is when I realized that what I had thought to simply be a cruel joke may actually be reality. Only a minute after I read the second post I received a phone call from one of my best friends from Sweden, currently residing in NYC. The call was filled with tears and the confirmation that what was written on facebook was in fact true.

This is only the second death of someone that I have known for a long time that I have ever experienced. The first one being my aunt. This was different though, this was someone that was about my age, healthy, and an all around lively person, whereas my aunt had battled lung cancer after years of smoking so in a sense you had some time to prepare for that loss. I did not know how to react, all I knew was that I was very confused. How can a perfectly healthy 27 year old suddenly die from cardiac arrest?

I was never incredibly close to the man who passed away, but I did spend a lot of time with him, and he was an essential part in the group that used to hang out together back in Sweden. The thing I liked most about him was that he was always 100% himself. When I first met him I was somewhat put off by him and his manners, he had always been a very sarcastic person and enjoyed getting a laugh on other people’s expenses. I actually thought that he sort of had it out for me in the beginning. However, when I actually got to know him I realized that his jokes were applied to everyone, not just me, and that he was indeed a very wonderful, incredibly smart, and a really loving person. He would always put a smile on people’s faces and he was always one of the central forces in our group of friends. He never explained his jokingly ways, he always had the mentality that either people got him right away, or they would figure him out later once they actually got to know him. There are not enough people like that in the world.

Sadly we now have one less of those people. You did have a big impact on my life, and you were an essential part in my teenage years and was a big part of forming the man I am today. Even though we haven’t spent much time together since I moved to the U.S. I have always been able to look back at all the laughs we had and the great times we all shared during those years. It’s funny how I always expected you to be part of that whenever I returned home… and now you won’t be. Wherever you are right now, know that you left a lot of people who love you behind. Tonight I drink Fernet in your honor. R.I.P.

Bin Laden is Dead, Now What?

Numerous conspiracy theories, a deep recession, and ten years later, Osama Bin Laden has been found and killed. So, let’s take a look at what this really means. First of all, it’s a great boost of confidence to the people of the U.S. It’s something that people have been waiting for ever since the twin towers fell that September 11th morning. Second, this will bring some type of justice to the families of the people who got killed in the attacks, and it will also bring a sense of justice to the American people. Furthermore, this will bring a sense that the two (or three if you count Libya) wars this country is engaged in have some type of legitimacy to them. Up until this point many people have had no real idea why the U.S. has been engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and while many questions still remain about America’s engagement in Iraq, the fact that something concrete has actually been done brings a sense of victory to the mess that has been these two wars. When the troops start retracting back home later this year, they will do so with a sense of victory, not a sense of abandonment.

With all that said, I can’t help but wonder about two major things. Number one, what will the retaliation be? These Talibans haven’t been happy with the U.S. so far, this will only anger them even further. With all the extra security measures that is in place I doubt that there will be another terrorist attack anytime soon, however I think that there will be a lot of angry Talibans tomorrow and they will find a way to express that anger. Number two, now that one of the biggest elements of the American people’s anger is gone… will more attention be paid towards (maybe) more significant things? Will focus be turned away from the feeling of being nonsecure and the fear of the boogyman that has been terrorism and instead turned toward things that may be more immediately threatening to society? There will always be people that wants a lot of defense and focus on military, but maybe a few people will turn nationally and see what is wrong inside the country, and shine a light on the domestic terrorists that is the people that brought this country into a recession.

I’m hoping that this focus on fear and not feeling secure because of what a few crazy arabs did will go away. Fear only leads to stupidity and the making of big mistakes (Iraq is an example of this). A sense of urgency over a situation is different, but being scared can only lead to bad things and bad decisions. I’m really hoping that the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death will rid the American people of this fear that has been dominating people’s everyday life for the past ten years. This is a good thing, and I don’t say that about news of people that just died often.