Monthly Archives: February 2004

Completion is nearing

I'm still building a new master drive; because their restore was incomplete, I have to merge several sets of backups with the restored files in order to generate a complete step. That should take me until about noon. Then I'll do a few test update steps, put up the new articles officially, update the newsfeed, auto-process for bad images, and then do an experience update.

Watching them do the restore process I thought of so many little useful utilities to speed up what they do, as well as integrating the process with their website to improve customer relations. I'm always surprised how incredibly inefficient most processes are. A few years ago I lived with a machinist who's specialty was process design for tooling; he had similar comments about his industry.

Anyway, point is, everywhere you look there are interesting and profitable businesses waiting to be started. Of course, that also ignores the pending economic crash in the United States… After all, at this point the US is a failed economy that's supported almost entirely by a foreign slave trade.

I've been thinking a lot about George Bush's tax cuts, and the more I think about them, the more I think I might understand them. Because they're weird. Given the financial bashing that the poor and middle classes are getting right now, it's somewhat reckless politicially. Now, I have argued in the past that he doesn't care because the poor people's vote doesn't count anyway, and when they do vote, they vote like they're told. However, I'm not sure that's the whole story.

One of the things that makes America unique (or at least a “leader”) among Western Nations is that it has a disturbingly low rate of savings (ie. people don't have money in the bank). When you talk to traditional economists, this is something that worries them much more than Bush's deficit. It basically means that you either have to face monstrous and total financial collapse from an economic hiccup that you have no shield against, or you have to run a pyramid system (ie. use poor countries for cheap labor and so on).

Clearly a pyramid system eventually fails — we're already seeing that. The US knows it has to be able to pull out of that game if the world really goes to war (or the slave-countries climb out of that work camp). Thus, the US government must improve the savings of American civilians. One economic group consistently saves money — the wealthy. It's how they stay wealthy. They shelter and protect their wealth. Now, that's bad, because it keeps it out of the economy, but it's also good because it provides a much needed buffer as well. If you look at Bush's budget, he's also introduced tax cuts for anyone (in any demographic group) that puts away long-term savings (I guess because introducing a living wage is too much to ask).

I wonder this about a lot of the US's bizarre actions lately:
are they acts of desperation, rather than acts of greed?

Don't stop ranting!

Let's play conspiracy for a moment.

The view (yesterday) from our window. In the background (where the top of my skull is basically) is where Rachel goes flying from, and at night (if it's clear) you can see Niagara Falls from here (the city, not the waterfall), as well as some cities in New York across the lake.

Before I do any work on the restored drive I'm mirroring it. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice (that's where I'm at), shame on me. Fool me thrice, well, then it moves past shame to something far more degrading.

This is not my new drive array, honestly. That said, I'm reconsidering the wisdom of a RAID-5 solution both for here and for IAM. I'm leaning more toward a RAID-1 (mirrored) solution, or, if money allows, a 01/10-type solution (mirrored with striping) because drive bandwidth is already one of our bottlenecks.

In terms of the whole Janet Jackson thing that totally monopolized the media for the last few days, let's take a look at what else has been in the media that got “replaced” by the boob… Hmm…. Could it be the budget?

Bush's record setting $2.4 trillion, “fiscally responsible” (his words, not mine) $521 billion deficit (with an additional $400 billion expected over the next year) — and that's on top of the $1.7 trillion deficit he's already built up — budget was released yesterday (more, more). It of course has huge increases in military spending (and that doesn't include the “emergency” billions he's expected to ask for — Iraq is still not in the budget). Bush's explanation for this fiscal disaster? “It's because of the terrorists!” (I'm not kidding; read the articles).

Not only is military spending way up, but, in what Senator Kennedy is calling the “most anti-family, anti-worker, anti-health care, anti-education budget in modern times” (more), he's slashed everything from local police budgets, employment equity for women, alcohol abuse programs (giving a good excuse to use the word “IRONIC”), literacy programs (more irony), education programs in poor neighborhoods (38 separate education programs were “terminated” as Bush seems to be enjoying saying), fitness programs, scholarships, native rights, and lots of small programs like organizations documenting the black history in America (more).

He's even cut a half a billion dollars, eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency's clean water programs, and another nearly half a billion from the Center for Disease Control (more). And you know all this moon mission bunk? Oh, that's being done by telling NASA that they have to scrap $10 billion in other programs (more).Let's see. He's also cutting the Agriculture Department, Health and Human Services, the Army Corps of Engineers, and on and on and on.

Oh, but he did make permanent $1.1 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy. Yay.

In other Janet-related news, lots of people were injured and killed by jocks partying after the Super Bowl (more). But who cares, that's normal sports behavior, right? It's healthy… I know when I have to choose between nipples and murder, I always choose murder. Clear Channel, one of America's largest broadcasting conglomerates, agrees (PDF), calling for tighter censorship on all media that enters the home (including cable and other paid subscription services). What, the company that just got fined $755,000 for indecent broadcasts (more) is calling for a media police-state? Nice.

And if you want to veer off even farther into conspiracy-land, ask yourself why is Cheney all of a sudden taking the fall for the neo-con mistakes? Saira just pointed out to me that he's the perfect patsy — everyone thinks he's the devil incarnate, and he's about to drop dead anyway. He's on, what, his seventh baboon heart now? So here's how it plays out — Cheney takes the fall, and dies before he can be investigated, conveniently making all this “disappear” from the public mind. Either Kerry or Bush (childhood friends and fellow members of the Skulls) will take the next election, this all will be forgotten, and it's business as usual until the four horsemen make their appearance later this year.

See you in hell! There's a BBQ scheduled in my torture chamber already.

"Thanks" Bob…

So here's my new update on the drive. This afternoon Bob had told me that barring an act of God, he could think of no reason why my data wouldn't be ready. As I'm leaving I called him to let him know I was on my way, and then, when I'm ten minutes from pulling into their parking lot, I get a call from Bob saying “we got to 98% and then started getting errors so your data won't be ready today.”

“Why not?”, I ask.

Bob of course has no explanation for me other than “there were errors”, so I ask to speak to someone more technical. He tells me that he's technically qualified. This is the guy that types half his emails into the subject line, and gave me incorrect information about RAID types when I asked about other options. Anyway, I tell him that I don't believe he's technically qualified and that I am extremely unhappy with the service I'm getting. I demand to speak to a different sales rep or a manager.

“I'm the only person you're going to be talking to here,” he tells me.

After multiple mistakes, being repeatedly misled about them, and an apparent chasm in communication coupled with a “you'll get it when you get it” attitude, at this point I'm starting to feel like I'm never getting my data back and, especially given Bob misplacing my payment records the day before almost forcing a double-payment, that it's being held hostage. I tell him that if 98% is copied, to just close my case and give me my drives back and I'll deal with the 2% loss.

Then he starts yelling at me — “This is your fault you know! If you weren't pushing us so hard to get your data back you wouldn't be in this predicament!”


From the first day I walked in there I'd been asking for expediated service (which is advertised on their website). I made it very clear every time Bob mentioned a delay that I was more than willing to pay in excess to get the data back sooner rather than later, but even though I asked at least three separate times, each time he refused to even talk about the subject. I don't know if they don't really have that service, or if Bob was just refusing for some reason, but it wasn't cool at all.

Anyway, a few minutes later I pull into the parking lot. Apparently Bob had split after my phone call and wasn't there any more. Because I was obviously pissed off, I was handled by Scott, their “senior consultant” who I assume must deal with most of their damage control. I'm sure he's heard a thousand customers complain about the recovery process so I think he took that aspect of my complaint with a grain of salt, but I don't think he was too happy to hear that Bob was actually blocking me from talking to others there. Not that I expect anything to come of it…

So now I have my drive here with I assume most of the data on it (my initial checks show most of it). I'll probably take one of these Lacie drives I picked up for the video editing machine and set them up temporarily for this for the short term… Definitely not happy with how this was handled! That said, it appears to be over though, and in combination with my local and remote backups, I've really lost very little data. Hopefully late tonight I'll run a few tests. I can't think of any reason why there won't be an experience update tomorrow, and then images the day after.

Oh, and as a general “PS”, their security arrangements really suck. Last night when I was there picking up the CDs (of the wrong files), they left me at their front desk for an extended period with no one around. There are no cameras, and their computer is left on after hours logged in to an admin account, and their files room was also open and unlocked and not on camera. Anyway, not that I have any interest in breaching their security, but I just thought it reflected even more unprofessionalism.

I'll compile this all into an article, along with everyone's first and last names and the company information as soon as I've had a chance to double-check all my facts, times, and so on. Monday probably.

.45 time

Here's the latest drama with my restoration.

This morning they eventually agreed to ship me the essential missing files via same-day courier (after first trying to claim that I had made a mistake). When I asked them about the rest of the data, they told me “it'll be done when it's done”. At that point I was pissed off enough that I didn't follow that extreme unprofessionalism up right then.

I called back in the afternoon to ask whether the CD had been shipped. They said, yes, it had, and offered me a tracking number. However, they couldn't remember who they'd used as a courier company and told me they'd call me back with that info.

About half an hour later they did so. I asked when the rest of the data would be done. He told me that it might be done by midnight. Given that it's only about 170 gig of data total, and he'd told me on Monday that the transfer was already in progress, I was kind of confused. Copying that much data should take less than an hour. Hell, even copying it off CDs would only take about six hours. So I demanded an explanation as to why it would take so long.

No one knew.

Eventually I got a response that they'd “just passed the 150 gig mark” and my data would probably be done soon and that they could call me at the end of the day to let me know if I could pick it up. I explained that if I had to drive there during rush hour it would take an hour and a half and calling at the end of the day wasn't going to work.

They'd told me I could get my tracking number from my online report. Even thought I'd just been told the exact opposite, they'd noted in my online report that as of about four hours ago the transfer was complete and that I could pick it up. Their tracking system is bizarre — anything they give you makes it get labeled as “recovered and approved by client” and similarly misleading messages. The whole thing is strange, with fragments from emails pasted in at random, some relevant, some irrelevant.

The impression I'm getting is that their sales staff is wholly disconnected from their technical staff and that the communication between the two is poor at best, to the point where sales staff end up lying to the customers due to ignorance. I do not believe that my sales admin is fully computer literate (like I said, who types their email messages in the subject line?), and I am becoming increasingly unhappy with how this is being handled by them. Ignoring requests, not returning calls, repeatedly missing deadlines, repeatedly telling me something is done when it's not, and so on. The apparent technical incompetence (me having to explain to them how to restore data) really put it over the top though.

From a lauded ISO 9001:2000 company I'd have expected better…

Anyway, I guess I'm headed up there again shortly.


Since people are really liking the Necromancer (“Satanic”) one, here's a closeup of all of them: