…the more they stay the same. So Windows Spaces Live became WordPress, and Windows Live updated its Writer blog writing program to look more like Microsoft Word (which begs the question, why not incorporate it into Word?). The format is completely different, though. Draft blog entries and entries that have already been posted no longer appear, making me wonder where they went. Why is it that all tech companies have this annoying habit of completely reinventing everything with new iterations of the software program or web site? They assume that users will be happy with the changes or will soon learn how to use the newer version. Yet history is littered with product experiments that failed miserably. New Coke, anyone?
Posted by M.G. Edwards on October 30, 2010
Spaces Live is shutting down and asked bloggers if they want to migrate to WordPress.com. Like any obedient customer, I said yes and migrated the World Adventurers site to WordPress.com before Spaces Live terminates my account. Microsoft said it would fully migrate the blog, but only the past year moved over to WordPress! The rest seems to have disappeared into the Great Internet Recycling Bin. Yikes.
Good thing that I archived all of my old blog postings offline, or I would have lost them. I may repost some of the oldies but goodies. If I hadn’t done due diligence archiving posts over the past half decade, I would have been quite distraught over losing about five years’ worth of postings.
Thanks a lot, Microsoft, for warning us bloggers ahead of time. Hopefully WordPress.com will treat us better.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on October 6, 2010
OK, it’s Microsoft’s turn to be the target of a rant. I’ve been trying to post a blog entry for several days using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser, but it wouldn’t let me sign into Spaces. Every time I did, I got an error message. I finally tried to log into my MSN Spaces account using Google’s new Chrome browser, which I downloaded as a backup browser (just for moments such as these). Guess what? It worked. I successfully logged into my MSN Spaces account using Chrome. Of course, the problem surely must have been caused by user error. (Me, the tech novice. It’s my problem.) I must have done something wrong, right? It’s not Microsoft’s fault, no, never. Microsoft would never own up to having browser or server issues. Would it? I doubt it.
The attitude of most Microsoftees I know is that users need to conform to the Microsoft way, not the other way around. Face it, Microsoft — your Internet architecture is so complicated that it may be too complicated, resulting in annoying bugs and crashes that turn off users. I’m not writing anything ground breaking — Microsoft’s bugs and complicated interfaces are well documented — but I had to blog about this since IE is preventing me from posting blog entries to MSN, a division of Microsoft. Anyway, here is my first blog entry in days using Google’s Chrome browser. I can’t format the font or do all the fancy stuff IE lets me do, but at least I can log in and post an entry. Score one for Google.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on October 8, 2008
What a fiasco. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Seattle SuperSonics’ move to Oklahoma City. How does a team that went to the NBA Finals in 1996 leave town just a decade later? Should the blame go to Sonics owner Clay Bennett, an Oklahoma millionaire who bought the Sonics, pledged to keep the team in Seattle, and then made a half-hearted attempt to work with the City of Seattle to keep them there? Should blame go to the City of Seattle, which renovated the Seattle Center years ago into the smallest arena in the NBA, then balked on expanding it or building a new arena, and let the Sonics walk away for $90 million in cash? (Where is Slade Gordon when you need him?) Or should it go to NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners who voted with their pocket books and moved yet another franchise to another small U.S. city a la the Memphis Grizzlies? All of them should share in the blame. Special mention goes to Mayor Greg Nickles, yet another of a long line of subpar Seattle mayors who can’t figure out how to turn Seattle into a world class city because they’re too busy spending money on studying problems. The 2012 Olympics, ghost freeway ramps, the Monorail, the Seattle Commons, the Seattle Viaduct, airport expansion, Boeing’s empty, former headquarters building, the NASCAR speedway, the 520 bridge, the overpriced light rail line that terminates one mile short of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Heaven forbid if anyone from Seattle is ever elect to a national office. The entire country would be like, well, Seattle. Dysfunctional and bumping along because Microsoft hasn’t left town.
Seattle can spend another decade and millions of dollars trying to woo another NBA franchise, and the NBA can lose out on television revenues from the nation’s 12th largest viewing market. The only winner in this deal is Oklahoma City basketball fans. Enjoy the Sonics. Hold on to them; fill Ford Center even when the Sonics remain sub-.500 year after year. Or you too will suffer the same fate a la the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets (which almost moved to OKC).
Well, at least there’s the Mariners. No wait, they’re in the cellar. Seahawks? Huskies? Who knows. It’s a tough time to be a Seattle fan. I predicted several years ago that the Seattle would not win another championship in any sport for decades. Looks more prescient by the day.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on July 5, 2008
We found out last weekend that region 4 DVDs, South America’s format, don’t play in any of our region 1 DVD players. We went today to a local electronics store to look for a multi-region DVD player. All of their players were region 4 DVD players. They claimed that the DVD players played region 1 DVDs (North America), but we didn’t have a region 1 DVD we could use to test the players and verify their claims. We only have a couple of options if we want to play local DVDs–buy a local, region 4 DVD player to complement our region 1 DVD player or order a multi-region DVD player from the United States. We could search the entire continent for a multi-region player, but we might as well buy one from the states with U.S.-style plugs and 110v power. It’s easier to convert across countries than to buy electronics from smaller countries such as Paraguay. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get electronics overseas due to export restrictions and shipping addresses. The best option would be to go back to the U.S. to buy one, but we probably won’t go back to the U.S. for awhile.
The DVD regions were developed to limit piracy, but the reality is that it does little to stop piracy. The DVD pirates simply burn millions of copies of region-specific DVDs to flood the market illegally. It puts more burden on expats to buy multi-region DVD players. Computer DVD drives are multi-region–why do DVD player manufacturers insist on continuing to sell region-specific players? I think it’s time to ditch the region system and standardize formats across regions. It makes sense, and I highly doubt that it would exacerbate already rampant piracy. I understand manufacturers’ concerns about not wanting to contribute to an already difficult problem, but they also need to understand that expats spend a lot of money needlessly finding ways to play their media across a myriad of different countries, regions, continents, and formats. There’s nothing wrong with the DVD player I have–I bought it when regions weren’t an issue–and it’s silly to have to buy another one because the format is different in South America.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on August 11, 2007
My wife and I sat down to watch a video for the first time since I can remember. We watched "The Devil Wears Prada," a cute movie about the cutthroat fashion industry. While the movie was fun, I was more impressed by Netflix.com. I signed us up for Netflix, the online video rental site, because we don’t have a motor vehicle here in Virginia and don’t have easy pedestrian access to a video store. Plus, I suspect that we won’t have access in Paraguay to a good, convenient video store stocked with English-language Hollywood videos, so I thought that Netflix would fit the bill. If you already use Netflix, you know the drill. You make a list of videos you want to see, rank them, and Netflix will ship them to you based on the subscription plan you choose. After you watch one, you mail it back in the free mailer Netflix provides, and Netflix will send you your next video. While the price comes to about $3.00 per DVD, not exactly a bargain, it’s worthwhile to subscribe to Netflix when you are living overseas or don’t have easy access to a video store. Plus, with 75,000 titles, it’s fairly easy to find movies you want to watch. Most video stores carry far fewer titles. Of course, a search for the movie "The Honorary Consul" turned up empty, but I was able to find "Moon over Parador" on Netflix (both movies prominently feature Paraguay).
I remember times when I would walk around the New Release section of a video store and scratch my head looking for something to watch. Friday nights were especially trying. I could always find copies of "Vampire Girls from Mars" and its ilk, but who wants to waste money on leftover videos? I would much rather go online, make a list of videos I want to watch, pick them up in the mail, send them back by mail when they’re done, and pay by credit card. So, I’m sold. Netflix should work out just fine.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on March 18, 2007
Last month my son started attending preschool at a Montessori School in Seoul. He absolutely loves it. Although he initially had a bit of difficulty interacting with some children, because he likes to play a bit rough (he loves to "rough house"), he settled down and now is playing well with the other children. His two teachers use the Montessori Method developed by Maria Montessori in the early 1900′s to help him learn, a method to which he has adapted well. Originally developed to assist special needs children in Rome, the Montessori Method empowers children to learn at their own pace, teaching them personal responsibility, sensitivity to others, and progressively challenging curricula. Teachers act more as guides than instructors, helping children on a more of an ad hoc basis than does traditional education. While Montessori schoolchildren range in age from preschool to high school, the program is especially effective with younger children like my son. My son was already well on his way to knowing his numbers and alphabet, and he can spell some basic words, including his name. However, since he began attending a Montessori school, he has already learned to spell some complicated English words, including the long form of his first name. The teachers have also channeled and honed his artistic skills, helping him learn how to paint and draw with improved technique. He’s well on his way to making beautiful art.
I think that Montessori schools are an excellent educational option for preschool-aged children. I also believe it’s a good program for older children, although I don’t have firsthand experience with Montessori’s youth programs. Montessori schools can be expensive, which is a primary reason why most children do not attend these schools. However, if you have the money and the opportunity to enroll your child in a Montessori school, I highly recommend investigating this option. We plan to continue our son’s Montessori education when we’re back in the United States. Unfortunately, our next destination, Paraguay, does not have an English-language Montessori School. We’ll make do with what we can find in Asuncion.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on September 17, 2006
Dear Reader, I made it home from my father’s funeral late Monday night. I was supposed to go back to work today, but I fell ill while traveling home and am home sick today. It’s a severe cold. I have a headache, sore throat, and I’ve been coughing a lot. I hope I feel well enough to go back to work tomorrow. I was fine when I left America, but I started getting sick on the trans-Pacific flight to Japan, where I caught a connecting flight to Korea. I went to the store to buy some cold medicine and some new vitamins. After getting sick while on my way to a funeral, I decided that I need to take better care of myself.
As you may have heard, Dell Computer is recalling faulty Sony laptop batteries. I checked to see if the Dell laptop I recently purchased uses one of the faulty batteries. Although my model was one of the ones with faulty batteries, I had upgraded to a longer-life eight-cell Cadmium battery. As a result, I don’t need to replace it. What a relief! Like many others, we’ve had difficulties with Dell customer service, and I wasn’t looking forward to relying on Dell to replace the battery. I try to use Dell as little as possible now. I thought it interesting that the faulty Sony batteries are made in Japan, a place typical known for the highest quality. Where was my battery made? Korea. That’s right–Korean-made Dell laptop batteries are safer than Japanese-made laptop batteries. That’s a little fact that I’m sure will make the Koreans happy. Thanks, Korea! When I upgrade our old television to a new one, I’ll definitely have to think about buying Korean.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on August 23, 2006
With all my rants against airlines, you would think I would never fly again. Unfortunately, when you’re a World Adventurer, you have very little choice but to be dependent on these mindnumbingly frustrating airlines to get you where you want to go. Otherwise, you would find yourself sailing on a slow boat to China. Tonight my wife booked tickets for my family to travel from Seoul to Shanghai, China over the Chuseok (Mid-Autumn Festival) holiday. The price is over $800 per ticket! I repeat, $800. It’s a 2.5 hour flight. 868 kilometers separate Seoul and Shanghai. That’s 539 miles. That’s half the distance between Seattle and San Francisco. When was the last time you paid $800 to fly anywhere in North America? If you live in Europe, when is the last time you paid $800 to fly anywhere in Europe? You haven’t. Asian air travel is ridiculously expensive. We would have liked to visit Japan, which is very close to Korea, but we might as well have traveled to Australia or Thailand. It’s virtually cheaper than crossing the East Sea to Japan. If you think the high ticket price just because we will travel during a holiday weekend, consider that tickets to fly the week before, during off-peak season, cost just $75 less. About $725.
Why is it so expensive to fly internationally in Asia? Domestic flights are a bit more affordable, but international fares are absolutely aggregious. Two words–landing rights. Asian governments offer national carriers preferential treatment and allow them to dominate their major airports. Korea does it, but it is not alone in this respect–most Asian governments do likewise. Incheon International Airport, which serves Seoul, is dominated by Korea’s two major airlines, Asiana Airlines and Korean Airlines. Foreign airlines such as China Eastern and JAL fly in and out of Seoul, but they collectively control less than one quarter of the gates at Incheon Airport. Asiana and Korean control entire hubs. In addition, some major foreign carriers such as Delta Airlines must co-share with the Korean majors because they can’t secure landing rights for their aircraft. Asian airlines take advantage of this competitive advantage by charging outrageous rates for their airline tickets. Certainly, the quality of their service and the staff is top notch. Asian airlines are well known for offering the best service in the world. (Who doesn’t want to be served by a beautiful Korean air hostess in mid-flight?) Honestly, like many Americans, I would much rather sacrifice this award-winning service for a modestly-priced ticket. I prefer discount airline tickets. That’s why I’m rooting for Jeju Air to succeed and expand internationally to other East Asia destinations. I don’t need to fly from Seoul to Shanghai non-stop on a Boeing 777 in 2.5 hours for $800. I’d rather fly on a Jeju Air Bombadier jet to Jeju Island, transfer, and arrive in Shanghai in five hours and pay $350-$400. I can use the money I save to buy an overpriced Starbucks cappuccino while in transit.
In times like these, I wish I still worked for Intel and still had corporate jet privileges. There’s nothing like driving to a county airport, flashing your company badge, bypassing any security checkpoints, boarding a small corporate jet, eating freebie snacks, and jetting off close to your destination. When I left Intel, it was scaling back corporate jet privileges for employees and cutting some flights (who knows, maybe the corporate jet program has been discontinued because of high fuel prices and Intel’s recent struggles–I wouldn’t be surprised). It sure was nice to have the privilege, if even for just a brief time.
Posted by M.G. Edwards on July 18, 2006