But are there Picard? Are there really four?

Something has always annoyed me about a scene in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the episode “Chain of Command”, Gul Madred tortures Picard to force him to say there are five lights instead of four (a 1984 reference). He tells Picard he can be treated well. Picard asks what he has to do. Madred says to tell him how many lights there are.

Just then, the guards come to take Picard home. Before he leaves, Picard defiantly shouts “there… are… four… lights!”

That doesn’t count; he said four only because they told him he’s going home, so he had nothing to lose by saying four again. If they had not told him he’s going home, he very well might (and probably would) have said five.

Gul Madred stands in front of four lights
Gul Madred trying to break Picard

Picard breaking down
Picard is about to give in

Picard shouting defiantly
That doesn’t count ¬_¬

Google must own you to be corrected

If you see an error in Google Images, you can submit feedback to (ostensibly) have someone check it and fix it, but to do so, you need to submit far too much information, including pretty much every scrap of data that the webpage can scrape from your system. So, sorry Donna Summers, I guess you’ll just have to stay sodomized.

Google Images Errors - Donna Summers Sodomized
Google wanted too much information to correct them, so sorry Donna Summers

World’s Worst Companies

(Explanations to be added later…)

Pathologically, chronically bad companies:

  • Google
  • Rogers (plus Bell and other providers)
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Valve
  • PayPal and eBay
  • RCA (Really Crappy Appliances)
  • EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo (and other big game publishers)
  • Disney
  • Royal Bank
  • Sony

Companies that are bad for only one or two reasons, or for personal beefs:

  • SlySoft
  • Intel
  • Piriform
  • United
  • Rexall Pharmaplus

Remember When that Channel was About…?

It is really annoying when television channels “evolve” to be something other than what they are supposed to be. It is one thing for a generic station to change, but many channels are subject-specific, so changing doesn’t make any sense. In fact when a subject-specific channel changes its subject, it renders the channel’s name meaningless, yet they almost never change their names to reflect their new material. Here’s a few examples:

ChannelFormer SubjectCurrent Subject
BravoHigh culture programs like operas and Inside the Actor’s StudioInane reality shows like Real Housewives of… Pretty Much Everywhere
TLCEducational programs like OperationInane reality shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Sister Wives, 19 Kids and Counting, Say Yes to the Dress, Rich Bride-Poor Bride, Breaking Amish, Storage Wars, Little People Big-World, and so on
Discovery ChannelEducational programs like Inventions that Shook the World , Curiosity, Cash Cab, etc.Inane reality shows like Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush Alaska, Moonshiners, American Loggers, Finding Bigfoot, Amish Mafia, etc.
History ChannelEducational programs about history like Museum SecretsInane reality shows like Swamp People and Ice Road Truckers, and inane non-history (and non-reality ¬_¬) shows like Ancient Aliens
SpaceScience-fiction, horror, and fantasy showsAnything that is even slightly related even indirectly to the appropriate subject matter like the crime-drama Castle simply because it stars Nathan Fillion who was in one sci-fi show for a few episodes before it was cancelled

It looks like the worst offender is The Learning Channel. It has gone from being a specifically educational channel to a pointless reality-show channel with absolutely no educational content whatsoever anymore. 😒

110%

For the past while now, I’ve been hearing a lot of people on television nagging about when someone quotes the line about giving 110% or something similar. It’s happened numerous times in the past year or so where someone would nitpick that “more than 100% is by definition impossible”.

This is absurd. If amounts more than 100% were impossible, then how does tax work? If an item is $10, but tax is 20%, you have to pay 120% of the item’s price, or $12. Is it impossible to pay more than 100% of the price for the item? The government certainly doesn’t think so.

Likewise, if there are twice as many sales as last year, then sales are up 100%, to 200% of what they were last year. Companies regularly report sales higher than 100%. Are they performing magic? Of course not.

Obviously amounts higher than 100% are indeed possible, so what are people nagging about? One explanation could be that tangible, physical objects are limited. For example, if you have 10 boxes, then you can give no more than 100% of them away. How could you give away 150%? Simple: debt. You give all 10, and owe five more. Another explanation is that you can only do up to 100% of your ability and not beyond that. However even that is not a valid reason to complain because you can indeed give more than all of your ability sometimes; just ask anyone who got a surge of adrenaline and performed the impossible (like the classic example of the parent lifting a car off of their child or running faster than they ever have).

Granted, it can end up turning into an argument about semantics, but nagging that more than 100% is impossible is pedantic at best and generally foolish.

I HATE ROGERS!

I friggin’ HATE selfish, greedy, inconsiderate, self-centered Rogers! I’m glad that Ted Rogers died and hope that they rest of those bastard executives die as well. I would be happy to have no phone, Internet, or TV if it meant that stupid, friggin’ Rogers were bankrupt and out of business.

(I will note that I do not know the internal workings of Rogers or Ted’s personal life, and that Ted may actually have stepped down some time before his death at the end of 2008. If so, then it could be that his stepping aside probably coincides with the downward spiral of the company which was not tooo bad up until about the mid 200x’s. If so, then I withdraw my invective about Ted and redirect it toward Nadir Mohamed, the man who took his place, especially since most of the worst degradations and customer abuse occurred directly during his reign, and that as an absurdly generous and undeserved severance package, the company—or should I say, customers—are paying him $16 Million. I would be enthusiast about Mohamed leaving, but as they say, nothing bad ever left without being replaced with something worse.)

Narrow-minded, Self-centered Directors

It seems that film and television directors, especially American ones, are very narrow-minded and self-centered. I have seen countless instances of shows and movies recently where a character checks their mobile-phone to see a message but the text was too damned small to read. What makes it all the more irritating is that the phone is usually large enough on the screen that it could have been legible, but they wasted most of the phone’s screen with blank space.

Apparently directors are not aware that not everybody has a 72″, high-definition LCD flat-screen television or high-resolution “Retina display” iPad. Directors are self-centered and think of themselves and their rich friends and family and forget that many viewers may be watching on small and/or low-definition/resolution screens. They also forget that not everybody will be watching on a 100′ movie-screen or on an iPhone 3″ away, but maybe on 19″ televisions from 6′ away on their couch. Even with good eyesight, the tiny text on the phones in these shows and movies is difficult, and often impossible to read which makes it hard for the viewer to follow the story (let alone for people whose sight is not perfect).

Directors need to put themselves in other people’s shoes and think of how others who are not rich may be experiencing their works. Website designers frequently examine what their sites look like in other browsers to ensure an optimal experience for the maximum number of people, but directors don’t seem to bother at all. This is all the more annoying because fixing it is almost always exceedingly easy, fast, cheap, and trivial. They already often have to make up a fake phone screen to avoid unintended product-placement as it is, so they could easily just make the fake screen contain larger text. Even with actual screens, it should not be difficult to make the text larger and more legible because most devices include accessibility features to assist users with poor vision.

While I’m ranting about the poor choices that director’s make, I’ll add another one: making things too dark. There are few things more annoying to watch than a scene that is too damned dark. I hate having to watch a screen of almost all black with the occasional flash of meaningless bright area, wondering what the hell is going on. It is aggravating to have to turn up the brightness and gamma (and thus wash the screen out) to be able to see what’s happening. This goes for movies, shows, and even video-games. They already went to all the trouble of creating the sets, makeup, and costumes (or models and level geometry) in which to shoot the scene, why would they then make it too dark for anybody to actually see their work‽ That’s just a waste and causes frustration. (Obviously I am not talking about the occasional scene which is meant to be completely dark so that the viewer is not supposed to know what is happening other than through sounds.)

You “Should Of” Listened in Class

I absolutely despise the “Internet Generation”. I know that every generation thinks the next one is a bunch of no-good kids, but the current generation of younglings are just awful. The technological boom that occurred just before they started school has caused them to become very different than previous generations due their constantly being connected to everything and everyone. One of the worst aspects of these kids is that despite having the world’s information at hand, they have grown to be illiterate, uneducated, lazy, and just plain stupid.

One would think that if a person had information on any topic available at any time, they would be super smart because they don’t have to wait to learn it in school. Unfortunately this has had the opposite effect. Young people figure that since the information is always available, then they don’t need to bother learning anything because they can just look it up. That couldn’t be a more wrong way to think.

It presume that they will always be able to look up whatever information they need even though that is not guaranteed. There have been network outages, electrical outages, phone/computer problems, and so on and so forth. Worse, the times when you really need information are the times when you more than likely cannot look it up. If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, trapped in a snowstorm, stuck in a post-apocalyptic world of any of countless varieties, then you cannot just “Google it” or look it up on Wikipedia. Then what‽ How are you going to figure out how to purify water to drink, how to make a battery to charge your phone to call for help, how to make penicillin to avoid dying of an infection? I bet you wish you bothered to actually learn these things now.

Another problem with the Internet generation’s laziness aside from their general lack of knowledge, is their illiteracy. Texting has led to a form of “1337speak” which super-abbreviates everything. Instead of typing out full words and sentences, they type short strings of characters that represent actual words and characters. While this made sense in the early days of mobile communications due to SMS’ 140 character limit or even a little later when phone carriers charged by the byte, it is unnecessary and even harmful today. Children grow up using text-speak at ridiculous proportions. They exacerbate things by not paying attention in school, which means that text-speak becomes the norm for them. It is a wonder they can even read real, full text.

One all too common example of their illiteracy is the Internet being littered with occurrences of should of, could of, and would of. Obviously what has happened is that these youth have heard people use the terms should’ve, would’ve, and could’ve and simply transcribed the sounds that they heard, not realizing that they are contractions for should have, would have, and could have. How on Earth do this kids have grown up, not having heard the un-contracted terms or learned about using contractions in school‽

Some may attempt to explain it as being due to the poster being foreign and English being their second language, however that is a specious explanation because it is quite clear when someone is a native English speaker or not. In most cases, the people who type the aforementioned bastardizations are indeed native English speakers who are simply illiterate. Even accounting for constant-access information and text-speak, there is no excuse for (unintentionally) using flat-out wrong language.

Yet another example of the Internet generation’s illiteracy and laziness is their terrible spelling. Even when they are typing full words and sentences instead of hyper-abbreviations and acronyms, they still spell abhorrently. Granted, they probably don’t pay attention in English class and instead just text their friends, but even that is not an excuse because their stupid phones and computers almost always have a built-in spell-checker these days, so they are just being extra stupid by typing incorrectly and ignoring the spell-checker’s vain attempts to make them sound at least moderately intelligent.

I fear that one day, this incorrect usage may become accepted and even make its way into dictionaries due to common, widespread usage. This thought is particularly offensive and inexcusable. Just because a lot of people do something wrong does not make it right. De facto rules are common, but forcing a change to the rules due to mass ignorance is disgusting.

English has always been a mercurial bastard language to begin with, but this sort of apathetic and blasé attitude towards sloppy usage will only make it twist and mutate into something even more inconsistent and sloppy. Foreigners frequently complain about English being so hard to learn as it is; imagine if it was even less structured! (I used to say that with English, it doesn’t matter how or even what you say, so long as you get your message across, and that may work for an informal language like 1337zp34+, but certainly not for an official language.)

As far as I am concerned, the only acceptable usage for “*ould of” is something like:

I was just wondering; could ‘Of Mice and Men’ be made into—another—movie?

Justin Bieber has Yet to Release an Actual Album

Of all the things I hate, one thing that is near the top of the list is anything that is over-hyped and undeserving. Obviously this applies to people like Kim Kardashian who is rich and famous for no reason whatsoever and has neither done nor accomplished anything. It also applies to Justin Bieber. Bieber is rich and famous for no reason. Some people will attempt to defend that he is a talented singer, but most people, myself included, would argue that is not the case.

Justin Bieber has yet to release an actual album. He got famous in 2008 even before he had released the arrogantly titled My World. That is the definition of over-hype. He was already famous before having even done anything. Worse still, My World was not even a real album; it was an EP. That means it only had a few songs on it; not enough to call it an actual “album”. He then released the unimaginatively named My World 2.0 which while called a studio album only had a single song more than the previous release. He then released a couple of remix, acoustic, and compilation “albums” which merely contain a few of his previous songs, with the occasional new one. He also released a Christmas album consisting mostly of him singing traditional Christmas songs. Finally, he released Believe last year which is his biggest release yet with a “massive” 13 songs. (He has a few singles which of course means a few loose songs here and there mixed with existing songs.)

Justin Bieber is quite rich and famous, yet he has created only a couple of dozen songs. That is only about two album’s worth of music. He even had a documentary film made about him after he had released less than even one full album.

Remember the old days when singers would put out albums with ~20 songs? Remember when they would be rich and famous only if they had numerous hits? Remember when they only released “greatest hits” albums only after they had a full album’s worth of actual hits?

Many people don’t think much of Miley Cyrus either, but at least she earned her fame and fortune by releasing numerous albums with dozens and dozens of original songs (only one or two were remix or compilation albums). She also acted on a show for four years across 101 episodes (counter-intuitively, Disney shows tend to have longer seasons even though the actors are children). Regardless of whether you like her, her show, or her music or whether you think she deserves her fame and fortune, she actually spent a lot of time and effort to earn them; certainly a lot more than Justin Bieber ever did.

At most, Justin Bieber is a flash-in-the-pan, a one-hit-wonder. Unfortunately his sugar-daddy Usher and his agent did a great job of promoting the crap out of him to stupid tween girls, thus ridiculously extending his 15 minutes of fame. If people were sane, fair, and proper, Justin Bieber would have faded away like Rebecca Black.

eBay is riddled with scams and unscrupulous sellers, but neither they nor PayPal will do anything about it

I am sick and tired of eBay. While it is (still) a useful resource for getting items that cannot be obtained locally or for a good price, it has gotten to be quite a horrible place, riddled with scams and fraudulent sellers, especially Chinese sellers.

I was personally bitten a few times (both times by Chinese sellers). One of the them only sent part of order, another one sold me fake, counterfeit garbage.

There are several problems with buying things on eBay.

  • Beware of fakes.

    There are counterfeits on eBay and they are not all single, hit-and-run items; sometimes they are well known, long-running frauds that go completely un-actioned by eBay.

    For example, it is (apparently) well known that buying rechargeable NiMH batteries on eBay is a bad idea. If you see a listing for a pack of eight 3000mAh NiMH batteries for $10, you may want to pass (especially if they are “BTY” brand). Chances are good that the batteries are not 3000mAh, but rather 200mAh or less. Moreover, they may not even be NiMH, they may just be NiCD. This is flat-out fraud!

    The problem is further compounded by the fact that not all items can be immediately tested when you get them. For example, I bought a pack of such batteries, but I did not have the equipment to properly test them. Worse, I already had plenty of alkalines left, so I put the “ rechargeables” aside until I used those up first. It was not until much later that I started using the fake batteries and discovered that instead of lasting longer, they seemed to drain almost immediately. I then researched them and discovered that BTY batteries are infamous for being counterfeit garbage, but by then, it was too late for me to do anything about it.

  • Dispute and feedback periods are too short.

    eBay and PayPal provide the ability to leave feedback and dispute transactions that have problems. The problem is that these periods are far too short. eBay only allows you to leave feedback for an item for up to 60 days from the date of sale. PayPal only allows you to file a dispute for up to 46 days from said date. In this world of International trade and economy, that is just too short and creates the ability for disreputable sellers to engage in certain scams like the “Please Wait eBay/PayPal Scam”.

    Please Wait eBay/PayPal Scam

    If you have a problem with an item you purchased on eBay, you can file a dispute or leave negative feedback to warn others. However when you try to do either (or even leave neutral feedback or less than five stars), eBay and PayPal strongly encourage you to try contacting the seller to resolved the dispute instead.

    If you do choose to contact the seller, you open yourself up to getting totally screwed because a seller (especially foreign ones with long over-seas shipping delays) can politely apologize and explain that international shipments take several weeks and to please wait a little longer. If you wait a little and then contact them again, they will then helpfully apologize again and offer to send another one. After waiting for the replacement, you get tired and contact them again, but again, they say it takes a while to ship and to please wait.

    Eventually, you get sick of waiting and contact them, but it has now been longer than 60 days, and they finally show their true face by ignoring any further messages you send them. At this point, there is absolutely nothing you can do; you cannot file a dispute to attempt to get a refund, and you cannot even leave negative feedback to warn others.

    Sadly, eBay and PayPal refuse to acknowledge that 45/60 days are just too short for global purchases.

  • Reports go unactioned.

    There is a link on the page for each item on eBay to allow you to report listings that have a problem of some sort. The report form contains numerous reasons and sub-reasons and they even give you a report-ticket when you submit it. Unfortunately reports seem to go completely unactioned to the point that some theorize that it is just a placebo and unless the listing is egregiously bad (child porn, body parts, etc.) reports for other reasons get ignored. You can report an item and several days later, see that nothing has changed.

    When a listing is reported, eBay merely sends the seller an email to let them know there is a problem with their listing and to fix it, but apparently the seller is free to ignore the email because there is absolutely no follow up for anything that is not bad enough to be outright pulled.

    The eBay staff may ignore most reports because they figure that the item is expiring in a few days anyway, so enforcing their own policy is not worth the effort. If this is the case, then you would expect that long-lasting listings (e.g., 30-day listings) would be fixed or pulled, and yet they are not.

    This lack of enforcement allows sellers to cheat and lie with impunity.

    • Search and Browse Manipulation

      • Wrong Category Lure

        They put their items in the wrong category to lure people to items they don’t want. For example, a seller may put their item in the category corresponding to a different version of the item than the version they are selling.

        Some are so audacious that they even put low-demand items in a category for high-demand items so that they deceptively show up in search results and email alerts. The first problem could happen by accident (the seller doesn’t realize there are multiple versions), but the second one is usually on purpose.

      • Multiple Version Abuse

        Another purposely deceptive problem with eBay listings which is becoming more and more popular, especially amongst Chinese sellers is to manipulate browse and search results by abusing the multiple-versions option.

        If you have multiple versions of the same (e.g., different colors, different textures, etc. for the same product), you can combine them into a single listing. In this case, when users see your item in the search results, there is a pop-up box that lets you see the options for that product, and when you open the page for it, you can select the version you want to purchase. This is meant to be used for different versions of the same product and the prices should be about the same.

        What some sellers do however is to (ab)use this feature to make a listing of a bunch of expensive items (sometimes drastically different, which eBay policy dictates should be put in separate listings), and then to add an extra, cheap item to the listing. That way, when users perform a search, instead of the listing showing up further down where it belongs, it appears near the top of the list (assuming most users sort results by price, low-to-high). What’s worse is that they arrange the items so that the photo of the expensive item shows in the search results, but because eBay always lists the cheapest item in the listing on the results page, buyers are tricked into thinking that the expensive item in question is available for next to nothing (usually 99¢).

    • Shipping…

  • More to follow…