Archive for October, 2008


the now of synth music

Thanks to Tea in the Yahara for pointing me toward an article I somehow missed during my own perusal of Wired. It’s about a new instrument called a ReacTable that allows one to create different synth beats, sounds, amplitudes and frequencies.

Not sure where I could buy one of these, locally, but this would, be an excellent way to spend a few hours/days/weeks.

Check out the video here…


the unauthorized biography of reinhold messner

One of my all-time favorite albums is The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner by Ben Folds. So much so that I almost flew to North Carolina last September to attend it.

Fortunately (and expectedly, since it was done for MySpace), the entire event was filmed and is now being presented on MySpace.

Click here to view the entire show, along with interviews with the band and Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie. (Apparently, he’s a fan.)

Here’s the YouTube version…



How long do you think it’ll be before all of the .com websites become .gov?


of montreal in milwaukee – this is what you’re missing if you let this band come and go without checking them out

For longer than a month, I’ve had a set of 4 tickets to see Of Montreal in Milwaukee last Sunday night. Unfortunately, the plans changed for my daughter’s birthday party, and I was unable to attend Of Montreal.

However, my friend went to the show and said it was fantastic. I hit him on gchat to ask him what I missed. This is what he wrote:

me: well?

friend: dude
I don’t think you want me to tell you
it was nuts
completely insane
no live horse though – so you didn’t really miss much
me: i do want you to tell me.
what happened? how long did they play?
friend: we were trying to figure that out after
probably like 80 minutes or something to that effect
I’m hoping to get to a blog post about it sometime tonight but here are some notes I made last night…
– budha style masks and cloaks – pick up a container and he pops out.

– cardinal (priest) with a nun putting stilletos on him and massaging
his feed while he condemns a giraffe with a thumbs down

– kills himself by OD.  then gun.  (maybe be some others?).  then
hangs himself.  They actually do put him on a gallows and kick out the
stool while he has not only the rope around his neck but also
something attached to his back.

– roller skater (guy, right?) with shaved legs and a bra

– “skin suits” from a couple of pairs.  one with some pubic hair.

– a fist fight

– wild west scene with a poker game and shoot out.

– war scene with fatigues

– “giant man” where one person comes out with a big head.  two others
with one giant arm each and other two have legs.  joined in center

– centaur

– pose-able people are positioned (in “compromising” positions, of course)

– bring him out in a coffin covered in shaving cream (?)

– with very red lighting going on stage they appear to be rubbing oil
all over him.  with the next song there is a lighting change and you
realize they painted him red.

– there’s the main stage.  on the left side of it there are two levels
– 1 with keyboard (etc) player – top with a drum kit.  on the right
side there is only a top level (another drum kit).  the middle has a
screen that they change/setup behind before revolving it.

– he’s basically naked for 3/4 of the show.

– cover Teen Spirit

– 3x screens at back/top of stage with images, clips, etc going

me: where were you sitting for this spectacle?
friend: dead center.  probably 6th row or so (with many people standing in front of row 1)
me: was it sold out? did you sell the tickets?
why didn’t i go?
friend: it was not sold out – or at least, if it was – it sold out after we went in
There’s a lot of reviews of a lot of shows out there. But I’d never really read one that included the bizarre, yet vague, imagery of this gchat conversation.
Hope this helps you to decide that you should certainly see Of Montreal as soon as you can.

where is the love?

Anyone noticed that since the dawn of email, no one signs off with “love” anymore?




customer service lessons from directv

It’s been awhile since I’ve weighed in on customer service issues/lessons, but they’re relevant, because we’re presently working on our site’s customer service capabilities (and because they’re critical to our site’s success).

At the same time, I had an amazing customer service experience with DirecTV today that absolutely boggles the mind.

When I originally subscribed a year ago, I was given a promotional package rate that lasted for a year. I just noticed on my last bill that the rate had expired, and my bill was now $30 more and back to “normal.”

Figuring it was worth a shot, I called DirecTV to see if I could reinstitute the promotional rate. My first phone call was to a guy who said I could not have the promotional rate any longer, but he could give me $5 off my next three months. That’s better than nothing, I thought, so I took it.

But I still had a question… Why not just cancel and resubscribe to get the promotional rate?

My second call was as a non-subscriber. On that call, I found out the promotional rates so that I could compare them to my current rate. Turns out they’re the same as they were when I subscribed a year ago.

My third call connected me to what I learned was the “existing customer” department (the same people I had spoken with on the first call). I asked them if they could save me the hassle of cancelling and resubscribing with the new promotional rate. The woman told me no, but she could give me a $10 discount for the next 6 months.

I told her that the discount sounded good, but I’d get a bigger discount by just cancelling and resubscribing. She recommended that if I was thinking of cancelling, I should talk to the “win-back” department. Apparently, the “win-back” department specializes in those who are threatening to cancel.

In speaking with the “win-back” rep, I learned that if I cancelled, I’d have to pay a $120 cancellation fee. I explained to her that if I cancelled, I’d have to pay $120, but I’d save $372 for the next year by renewing for the promotional rate – a net gain of $252. She told me if I cancel, I’m still a customer, so I wouldn’t be eligible for that rate, anyway. I explained that I would simply have a family member subscribe, so they’d be the new subscriber. She wasn’t a fan of that suggestion.

In a momentary show of weakness, I resigned myself to the discount the prior woman had offered and asked the “win-back” woman for the $10 deal. She said that I had already accepted a $5 off for three months deal, and that she couldn’t go into the system and add another one. Naturally, I asked her to delete the $5 then, so I could get the $10 deal. She said they can’t be deleted once added. Lesson here obviously is not to commit to an offer with DirecTV until you’ve called enough and spoken to enough people to have heard all the options – and then hope you can find someone aware of the best option you heard so they can institute it.

Having all this information, I thought I’d give the customer service management a chance to cut through the muck, so I called again… as an existing customer. Before I could get to management, I had to explain to the first line of defense what I was calling about. After telling him this story, I wanted to confirm my cancellation fee. He told me it would be $250. When I told him the “win-back” woman said $120, he said well, that may be a rate she can give you, but I’m in the “existing customer” department, and this is the best I can do.

I thought it was odd that different departments could behave differently, and he said they don’t communicate and is unfamiliar with their powers. At this point, he deferred me to the management.

When I finally reached a manager, I explained everything I had learned, which was:

  • I should cancel my current subscription
  • My wife should, at the same time, subscribe at the promotional rate (the subscription follows your name, not your address, so she could subscribe at our same address)
  • There would be a cancellation fee of $120 or $250, depending on who I talked to (which made me wonder if I could actually do better than $120 if I spoke to the right person)

He confirmed all this and added that 90 days after I cancel, I am eligible for new customer promotions again. So basically, I could do this every year and go back and forth with me and my wife alternately signing up as a “new” customer.

He then also confirmed the $250 cancellation number, but that he, too, didn’t necessarily have the powers of the “win-back” department (seemingly, the most powerful department in DirecTV).

Given all this information, I’m inclined to go with cancelling my subscription, while at the same time having my wife subscribe at the same residence. Some would argue $200+ over a year is not worth the effort, but this situation is, to me, so ridiculous that I feel I owe it to myself and DirecTV to exploit this silliness.


dr. dog? really?

Developer Jim just recommended to me the band Dr. Dog. While Jim insists that he is both a doctor AND a dog, I’ve found no evidence that supports either contention.

Jim’s other contention, though, seems to be absolutely true – this is a really solid band, and I can’t wait to hear more from them. The songwriting is really good, and they’ve someone been able to find their own sound in this era of a million bands all competing for the same ears.

There’s a really good chance you’ve heard this Philadelphia band, based on the number of prominent bands they’ve toured with. In two short years (neither of them leap years), they’ve opened for or played with The Raconteurs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Strokes and The Black Keys.

Take a minute to check out this video for “My Old Ways.” A good song and an excellent video…

This video’s a bit freakier. The song’s called “The Ark.” Good song, odd video…

October 2008
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