quality isn’t job one somewhere!

I have a GM mini-van that needs a fortune in repair work. I go online to see what’s up with this problem and find out it’s all over the place (note items 25 and 78). GM built a zillion cars with the 3.4L V-6 engine and they have a defective part. The amazing thing is that GM isn’t doing anything about it systematically. Two observations:

  1. Isn’t the internet the heat? When the dealership tells you you have a problem, five minutes’ work on Google will tell whether it’s a defect or reasonable wear and tear.
  2. I used to be work for a major computer firm in the data storage division. My full-time job was trying to get our warranty costs down and customer satisfaction up. At least half of our 7-figure/month warranty bill was due to customer satisfaction repairs (i.e., the unit is okay but we’re replacing it to keep the customer happy). I’m astonished the GM would consciously anger so many customers by not doing the right thing.

Apart from this repair the mini-van hasn’t been all that bad. Nobody is ever going to be passionate about a mini-van, but it hasn’t been a complete turkey. The computer had a problem that stumped the dealer for a while, and the door fell off once, and as you can see from the list of TSBs above, there’s a handful of piddly problems inside the passenger compartment, but it hasn’t been that bad.

The problem isn’t with the car, just its manufacturer.

VOIP ‘n’ stuff

This Kerry Garrison tells how to build a full-featured PBX for less than $20 using rubber bands and other things you already have laying around the house. There is also a nice list of free office software. I noticed this Ultra@VNC because I keep telling myself that I need to use VNC, since there is still a Windows box in the house. But it’s easier just to ignore it and wait for it to go away. (From the free office apps it was only a click and a jump to MacMP3Gain, which looks so useful that I think I’ll actually give it a try.)

ruby or java?

Decisions, decisions. I’m trying to write a small program to help my son learn to do subtraction. (His problem–today–is borrowing, which these days is called “regrouping.”) It is a trivial sort of GUI program and I’m trying to decide whether to learn Java UI programming with Swing, or Ruby/Tk. Swing has the advantage of including anything I could ever possibly need and working out of box. Ruby/Tk isn’t nearly as all-encompassing … but … let’s face it: Ruby is 10x the language that Java will ever be. (Hence groovy.)

Update: I never got around to this and he figured out how to subtract. Sort of. But it’s interesting to see all the hype about Ruby (due to Rails) and watch the Java types freak out about it.

Social Democracy with a human face

Now this story is something to keep in mind the next time someone tells you about the advantages of the European-style social democracies…

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing “sexual services” at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

(Kudus to Pejman.)

UPDATE: apparently this story is fake but accurate. (1 Mar 2005)

Garage Band

I’m building a case for us to buy a Mac Mini so I can fool around with Garage Band. I was talking to someone here who (unlike me) actually has a clue about music about Garage Band. He’s enthusiastic, of couse, but since I’m clueless he wondered what I would do with it. That led me into a discussion of Lileks’ bleatophany. The Star Trek tunes are the. Best. Tunes. Ever.

(Of course, the case I’m building doesn’t mention GarageBand. It focuses on how we could use iMovie to make iDVDs of our wonderful kids for distribution to assorted friends and family. Duh.)

How Nerdy Am I?

Not even two standard deviations! Woo-HOOO!


I am nerdier than 88% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

(Kudus to Bates Line)

Update: it occurs to me that 50% might not be the mean, nor that the percentage distribution tracks a normal curve. D’oh!

video mini-review: X-Men 2 United.

I do 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer every night, watching something or other I got from the library. The past couple of days it has been X-Men 2. Now, I was never a fan of the X-Men, or for that matter, Marvel comics. I was always a DC-type of guy and Batman was my favorite. The Batman movies weren’t all that great, and they got worse with time. But I liked the Spider-Man movies okay.

Anway, the X-Men wasn’t operating that level. It was okay to watch. I especially liked the scene where one of the characters pilots the advanced jet through about 20 tornadoes caused by the character “Storm”. CGI forever! But beyond that, whatever. I give it 2 stars (out of 4).