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Like Frankenstein, the case of the curious charge from Enterprise is back alive....

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a curious charge of $40 from Enterprise (read the post for background). The gist of it is Enterprise Rental Car stuck me with a fee that they could not substantiate. They claimed I ran a toll while driving one of their cars and that they've:

decided to pay the fine for medecided to charge me a 33% "admin fee" for that privilegedecided to wait several months before notifying decided to charge the fine + admin fee to my credit card.So I did what anyone should: I called them to dispute it. Didn't get anywhere with them so I filed a dispute with American Express. After a couple of disputed charges, Amex ruled in my favor and I thought all was done. Well, guess what? It's not! Apparently, Enterprise really wants their money. So they've decided to send me another notice (with no mention of our prior entanglement)decided to change the fine from $30 to $25 (no reason given)decided to call it a "parking fee" (that's wh…

Ink jet printers for home use or spawn of Satan?

If there is one piece of electronics that I absolutely hate, it's home printers. In my experience, they just don't work. Every single one of them that I have bought (HP, Lexmark etc) have all been crap. They never work when you need them to. The worst, I think, is HP. First, the POS takes 2 cartridges and HP, in their bureaucratic fashion, have made it so the printer doesn't even print if you don't have both cartridges in place. Really? How deliberately diabolical is that? Imagine, it's late on a saturday night and you really need to print a black-and-white document and the printer says "Sorry, you don't have color ink so I won't print your black-and-white document!" I mean really? What jerk came up with this innovative way to piss off consumers? Why should a printer refuse to work because 1 of 2 cartridges is empty? I remember in the old days, if your printer took both color and black cartridges, it'll use the color to print black documents a…

My gameday experience at FedEx Field

After going to FedEx Field to watch the Redskins 2 Sundays ago, I have to say I don't know what all the fuss is about with the gameday experience at FedEx Field. Every year, Sports Illustrated ranks FedEx Field amongst the bottom in terms of gameday experience. And anecdotal evidence, from radio talk shows, seems to suggest that going to watch a game at FedEx Field is akin to sadomasochism. And even I have wondered about the sanity of the 90,000 fans that pack the stadium every Sunday. So this Sunday, I decided to try it for myself. See how bad it is. Worst case scenario, I'll have 1 more reason to hate Dan Snyder.

So first things first, knowing that I hate traffic, we decided to take the Metro. I figured that'll be better than paying $30-40 to park and sitting in traffic after the game. Unfortunately, even though the stadium is only 12 miles away from my house, it takes 1 hour by Metro on a Sunday afternoon. Can't really blame that on Snyder but will it kill Metro to …

The curious case of the $40 charge from Enterprise

Occasionally when we have to travel to NJ, we rent a car from Enterprise. Their closest location is within walking distance of our house and their rates are so cheap even having to keep the car for a couple extra days (since they do not open on Sundays) doesn't make it as expensive as renting from Avis (which tries harder by opening on Sundays and costing almost twice as much).

Anyway, Lara rented a car from them in March. Put the EZ Pass on the dash and drove the car to and from NJ. Fast forward almost a month later, I get a letter from Enterprise. The gist of it was "Hello, the car you rented 4 weeks ago got a citation from NJ transit for $30 for running a toll. We have done you the favor of paying the citation for you and have billed you an additional $10 for that pleasure. Please visit our fancy schmancy website to automatically pay with your credit card. Or we will bill it to the credit card you paid with."

That's $10 for a $30 "charge" (I'll get t…

WalMart, is this really necessary?

On most login screens on the web, what are the 3 form elements you typically see:

usernamepasswordcheckbox so the site can "remember" meRight? These 3 things are virtually synonymous with login. So much so that you can tab from one field to the other without using the mouse (at least I can). Anyway, so I ordered something from Walmart and to pay, I was required to sign into my Walmart account. Here's Walmart version of the universal login dialog. See if you can spot the odd item and the piece of switchroo that'll make the North Korean soccer team proud:

"Sign me up for Email Savings and Updates"....Really Walmart? You think people want to think about subscribing to mailing lists when entering their username/passwords? How many people have accidentally clicked the button hoping to make the website "remember" them only to find themselves receiving junk from Walmart?

Testing vs Testing

What's wrong with this menu control:














You've probably seen it a few times. You hold down Ctrl and select all the choices you want. Simple, right? Sure it is. But what happens when the menu has over 1300 options? Imagine trying to select Barrow, Alaska and 3 counties within MD. It's a nightmare.
But the funny thing is the developer probably doesn't see anything wrong. Why? Because  he tested the site using a much smaller datasethe just picked from the first few options to test his queryhe lives in Anchorage, Alaska :)I doubt that he went through a test case that included picking multiple choices from different sections of the dataset. 
yes this is a blog without babies or politics :)

Does SharePoint 2010 run on Vista?

This ought to be a simple Yes/No question. Either it runs on Vista or it doesn't. If it doesn't, that's just in line with what we have with SharePoint 2007. You need a server OS to run it. The twist is SharePoint 2010 is 64-bit only. So to even evaluate it (which you certainly ought to before you recommend it over the 2007 version), you need Windows 2008 64-bit server with Hyper-V. Yikes!

Anyway, prior to this week I had accepted this fact and also that I'll probably not get an evaluation copy anytime soon (since I don't have the server OS or Hyper-V). Anyway, I found out this week that the RTM version of SharePoint actually supports Windows Vista and Windows 7. Imagine my joy. So today, I tried to install it on my 64-bit Vista laptop and the instructions I found are on this page: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee554869(office.14).aspx

Take a minute to open that link and just peruse the instructions. I'll wait....You back? Can you believe that? Microso…

Simple solution to immigration???

I wrote this awhile ago but never posted it. In light of the Arizona immigration law...

What's the maximum occupancy of the United States? I am sure you can't answer that because the question doesn't even make sense. There's no such thing as the maximum occupancy for geographical areas. So why is it that when it comes to immigration, some people act as if there's a maximum occupancy for the country.

I am not saying let's throw the border gates wide open and let everyone in. But you only have to go to Tijuana to see why immigration can never ever ever be enforced. If you live in abject poverty and you know that a better life is just minutes away (in fact, you can see that life outside your window), will anything prevent you from trying to make it across? Even if the penalty for illegal immigration is death, it'll still be more profitable to try. Because there's a chance, no matter how minuscule, that you will make it across. So spending billions of money o…

Status Bar in Chrome

I switched to chrome a long time ago but for a while I've noticed that the status bar on my laptop never shows. It's been bothering for a few months but never really found the solution. I google'd it but no quick solution came up. Today, I stumbled on the solution. If you have the same problem, just press F11 (switches to full screen mode). You should now see the status bar. Press F11 again to switch out of full screen mode. Don't know how long it's been broken since I installed chrome about 2-3 versions ago (have since been upgrading instead of full installs).

Repeated sex abuse by priests: Help me understand

I don't understand it. I know there's probably no grand conspiracy by the Catholic Church to abuse kids but what I don't get is how the Church did not immediately defrock accused priests and remove them from the Church? How can they allow these guys to be transferred from one parish to another where they are guaranteed to be in contact with innocent children? I understand that organizations don't like bad publicity or exposure to lawsuits. So even if you didn't want to hand accused priest over to the police, I get it. I don't condone it but I understand how someone might think dealing with the issue quietly is the way to go. But why not defrock these priests? Why allow them to keep working for the Church and keep exposing the Church to future legal problems?

I understand forgiveness but I also understand human nature.
Related articles by ZemantaCatholic Church decided not to unfrock priest who abused deaf boys (telegraph.co.uk)1985 Document Shows Pope Resisting …

Repeal & Replace; $2000 strip club expenses

Search the web for "repeal and replace" and you'll find that it's the GOP's latest mandate. They want to repeal and replace the healthcare bill. Ignore the merits or lack of merits of the law for a minute and think about this: there's no mathematical chance that the GOP can get the law reversed. They just don't and won't have the numbers. And that's not coming from me. That's from those who know. People like David Frum, a right-wing republican who has since been disowned by the right-wing movement. So why then are the GOP using that phrase as their rallying cry? Because people are inherently stupid and will believe anything. Provided you shout loudly enough. So yeah "Repeal & Replace" has no legislative legs but it'll get some republicans into office.

Second, recently GOP chairman Michael Steele came under fire for some spending by the GOP. Specifically, because the GOP paid out an expense claim for less than $2000. Turns out…

The stupidity of systems

A couple of weeks ago, I called the customer service at PayFlex. PayFlex is the company used by my employer to manage our Flexible Spending account. Usually the threat of losing unused money kept me away from participating in the plan. But since I was gonna have kids last year, I participated. So on December 31st, I realized that I had some money ($43.34) left over in my account. Well it was 10pm and everywhere was closed on New Year's eve. So I went online to CVS and bought qualifying items using my PayFlex debit card. The receipt was time stamped 10:49pm. Boy was I lucky to have remembered before midnight.

Forward several weeks later and I get an e-mail from my company's HR person saying I still had $43.34 left over. After I got over the shock, I searched my hotmail account and luckily I still had the order confirmation from CVS. I pdf'ed it and uploaded it to PayFlex. Thinking that was the end of it, I checked this morning and low and behold I still had $43.34 left over…

Retirement of the baby book

Several months ago, I wrote about the baby book and how it's become ubiquitous in our living room. What's the baby book? Read all about it. Anyway, a few weeks ago we decided to conduct an experiment (I suppose a hazard of having both parents with science background is being subjected to numerous "experiments") to see if we can go a day without using the baby book, keeping the babies alive and managing to remember who's pooped and who hasn't (seems like the first few months of parenthood is consumed with tracking your babies poop schedule. And of course taking photos). Well the experiment turned out to be a success for 3 reasons:
the babies are old enough now to convey hunger (the ceaseless crying is a big clue in figuring this out)Toni is super regular with his #2 activities. Every morning after the first meal...let's just say Toni requires 2 diaper changes each morningboth babies have started switching from baby formula to craving for finger foods. In fa…

To:, Cc: and Bcc:

Occasionally, I get an e-mail that makes me think people are confused by these 3 features of e-mail. For example, someone will send out an e-mail that clearly meant for a single person but they'll put everybody in the To: field. How do I know the e-mail is meant for that person...because the opening salutation ends in the person's name (for example: "Hello Kevin" or "hey John", or simply "Jack"). If the e-mail is meant solely for Kevin, why include everyone in the To field (unless you are trying to rat out the recipient)?

To be clear, this is how you use these fields: To: Include the primary recipient(s)Cc: Include the secondary recipient(s). There's no expectation that these guys will respond. It's just a courtesy notification. Say you want to applaud a team member by writing an e-mail to his/her boss. You Cc him/her so he/she is aware but is not expected to respond.Bcc: This should be obvious. If you are in the Bcc, you should never never …

Writing on the wall?

A few years ago, there was a remarkable show on NBC called "The West Wing". It was set in the white house and based around the presidency of a democrat. It was about national politics and all the machinations that go on in Washington DC. The show won 8 Emmy awards in its 7-year run so it wasn't that bad.

Anyway, this morning as I heard about the loss of Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts to a republican, I wondered how Jed Bartlet's staff would have handled the race. Knowing that the democrat's candidate in such a must-win election was running a lackluster campaign, I can just see Jed Bartlet dispatching Toby Ziegler and Josh Lyman to go to Massachusetts and straighten things out. I can see Josh moving in, taking over the campaign and telling the local people how stupid they've been. I know it was just a tv show but I can't imagine that Obama's people didn't see this coming from afar. If they didn't, that's just proof of their lack of und…

Why should homeschooled students participate in school activities?

If you decide to homeschool your child, should he/she be allowed to participate in school activities? I think the answer is no. Now I know there's a lot of reasons why a parent will decided he/she can do a better job than the school. But if you've made that decision, why should you be allowed to pick and choose which school activity you want your child to participate in? Specifically, I am talking about high school football players that are homeschooled and thus at a disadvantage when it comes to college recruiting. Well guess what? Tough luck. If the school isn't good enough for your child academically and your solution is to take him/her out of the school (instead of augmenting what the school does), why should there be a spot for you on the school football team, debate team or other extracurricular team? That's some other kid's spot you're taking up.

I especially like this parent's reason for homeschooling his children:
The Douglases, who are devout evang…

Is Nigeria capable of democracy?

They say democracy is the best form of government. And truly it is. But is there some level of maturity needed for it to work? Or do countries like Nigeria just have to work their way through the "growing pains" of early democracy? It's easy to look at America's democracy and wonder "why can't Nigeria just work like that?" Why can't there be respect for the rule of law? Why can't people just do things are logical?
Anyway, in today's Nigeria, the president (Yar'Adua) has not made a public appearance in 49 days! That's 49 days without anyone hearing from or seeing the president of a country of over 150 million. Even after the US puts Nigeria on a terrorist-prone country watch list. Even after armed gunmen attacked Togo's players en route to a country that Nigeria has sent its best 23 soccer players and officials. Even after there's public outcry for him to show his face.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't follow Nig…

Odds and Ends

I haven't really been paying much attention to politics. So I can't really write a full post about that. Except to say that I am really disappointed in the democrats and their leader, Obama. Apart from giving a bunch of banks free money with no strings attached; spending oodles of money on vague recovery projects in imaginary districts; pushing through a non-reformative Health Care Reform and giving sub-par gifts to visiting heads of state, what exactly has Obama accomplished in 12 months in the white house? What have the democrats done with their majority if they still had to kowtow to Lieberman on the so-called health care reform bill? Where's the reform if all you've done is force everyone to buy insurance (hooray for insurance companies) or pay fines? If people's health care choices are still tied so strongly to their employers? Where's the reform without any sort of public option? Anyway, enough about politics.
In technology, Google, in a move to kneecap t…