Category: Experiences

I hate Java. I hate Java. I hate Java.

I’ll readily admit, my programming experience is mostly limited to 6502/65816 assembler, some C, and a lot of PHP/MySQL, but I already know that I hate Java.  Why?  It’s simple, really: it doesn’t make any sense at all, and it’s extremely unhelpful when something goes wrong.

This rant stems from working on a Java IRC bot that was torn up and rebuilt by someone for a custom purpose.  I was hosting the bot until it simply stopped working.  It choked up and wouldn’t start after a certain revision, despite working on the guy’s Windows box.  I snagged a newer JRE, and instead of the horrid 12-line error when trying to start it, I get nothing but “IO exception occured.”  Thanks for the informative message, really.  I’m so glad to know that an “IO” (don’t you mean I/O?) exception occurred.  Previously, when I tried to manipulate the code myself, I couldn’t even change it to do the most basic things.  Why not?  Because Java doesn’t make sense at all, especially to someone used to working with C and PHP (you know, real programming languages).  A lot of Java-heads will moan about my opinion or offer up lame excuses for Java, but the truth is that it’s a garbage language that doesn’t make any sense, and from what I’ve read its “standards” change as the Sun JRE releases incrementally move up.  I won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.

What is wrong with some salespeople?

As a small business owner, I get repeatedly clobbered with hordes of attempts to sell me stuff I don’t need.  Sometimes it seems like I’m spending more time trying to run off people who want me to give THEM money than making money myself.  However, I am sympathetic to the plight of the salesperson, seeing how I have to wear that hat as the business owner from time to time myself, and it’s really a tough gig.  Rejection is difficult enough to handle infrequently, and I can only imagine how rough a day slam full of rejections can tax one’s mind.

Two recent incidents, however, make me wonder if some salespeople are asking for the rejection or even the abuse that they receive.  I’ll talk about the short one first; the second one is a bit of an epic saga, a grand adventure into the world of what us Internet-savvy folk call EPIC FAIL.

Someone from some sort of local directory called the shop, seeking my purchase of a listing in their directory.  Our word-of-mouth income is so good (and our experience with other advertising forms has been so poor) that we don’t really need to advertise much at all; our customers are well taken care of, and in return those customers take care of us.  Well, this here salesperson weren’t gunna have nunavit!  Despite my attempts to make it clear that we did not wish to advertise AT THIS TIME, the person didn’t seem to understand what I was saying.  Eventually I was forced to enter “blunt mode” and outright state that “I don’t want to do this.”

This genius had a clever response to my clear refusal.  What was it?  Oh, the suspense is probably killing you.

“So you’re saying that you’re not accepting new customers?”

If your face just slammed into the desk in disbelief, now you know how I felt at that moment.

If she was smart, she would have offered her contact information so that I could call her should I change my mind in the future (which HAS happened in the past).  Instead, she chooses to insult my intelligence with one of the scummiest sales tactics in the book.  What kind of stupid business owner is going to fall for that kind of line?  I can’t imagine anyone who deserves to be in business at all tripping over this lame attempt at forcing a sale.

Just to prove that I understand what’s going on here, I’ll explain how this statement was theoretically supposed to work on me.  When faced with relatively strong refusal, a salesperson may be able to “save the sale” by changing the client’s mindset.  This is actually a very common sales tactic and is apparently extremely popular with multi-level marketing sales.  Note how MLM salespeople don’t approach you saying “wanna sell some products and make money?”  They instead ask a series of questions to which you are generally certain to answer in the affirmative.  The theory here is that if you say an equivalent to “yes” three times, you’ll be more willing to agree to a sale, because you’ve been nudged into an agreeing mindset.  The trick with the question “so you don’t want new customers?” is to extract a denial of that question and a subsequent positive statement i.e. “yes, I DO want new customers” to then inch me back towards the affirmative.  Unfortunately, human beings aren’t robots and business owners know better than to fall for such paltry tricks.  My response was a sarcastic “No, I’m not accepting new customers.” *click* and that was the end of the conversation.  Hint: if you’re trying to sell me something, don’t insult my intelligence.

If you think that’s bad, though, you’d love getting a load of the next sales call I dealt with.  Someone who runs a local sports reporting website (and one that appears very hastily assembled, no less) wanted me to purchase advertising in the sidebars of the site.  The first suspicious part was that site content was rather minimal, and used a WordPress installation that seemed to have been partially broken by someone.  The fabulous claims of a good unique visitor count that this guy rolled off certainly didn’t seem to match the semi-broken nature of the site, and anyone can say that they have thousands of unique visits per week.  The second problem, though, was in the advertising format they were using: it was positively insane.  Ads are formatted sort of like vertical business cards and stacked on top of each other scaling all the way down the blog…on BOTH SIDES OF THE PAGE.  And they didn’t seem to stop, either: though ad placement in the two columns was totally random, there had to be at least 30-40 ads on every page.  It screams “we made this site to sell bogus worthless advertising!” and it looks unprofessional.

The salesman who called was where the real problems began, though.  In general, he did a good job of working around my rejections until I switched from vague business reasons to concrete observations about what he had said and the site which he sent me to examine.  These problems resulted in the quick termination of the call, and one very upset salesman.

Problem 1:  “Here’s what I’ll do.  I’m going to call some of the people that advertise on the site already, and I’ll ask them how it’s working for them.  Once I have that information, I’ll make a decision.”  His response?  “Now that doesn’t make one bit of sense.”  Immediately the alarm bells go off in my head: what I propose makes ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY PERFECT SENSE.  Before buying an ad and blowing all that money, why on earth wouldn’t I try to find some sort of metric for determining how well it works, especially if it’s advertising I already don’t feel that I need anyway?  He tried to convince me that the success of a chiropractor’s ad or a home renovator’s ad might not be the same as my own, and to some minor extent that may have been a correct statement, but if I called ALL of the advertisers and MOST of them found it to be a waste of dollars, doesn’t that speak volumes about the performance of the advertising in general?  He tried to offer me some “success stories” to which I replied that success stories from the mouth of the salesperson don’t mean anything because they can be easily fabricated.  It wasn’t taking much for him to get pretty annoyed with me, but then…

Problem 2:  “You said that you don’t have any computer repair people on the site and that you want one, but I see an ad for ‘Randolph Telephone Company AtomicTechs’ on the site.”  The guy clearly didn’t know how to respond because I caught him in a lie.  He tried to use the silly generic slogan from that ad to convince me that “that’s not the same as what you do!”  Once again, a salesman thinks I’m a complete idiot.  That was the end of the game.

In short, if you’re selling something, don’t be stupid about it.  Understand who you’re selling to before you call, or at least figure it out.  And whatever you do, don’t lie to or belittle the potential customer.  Would you buy anything from someone who belittled you or told you a load of bull about the product?

I didn’t think so.

Time ensures that things rarely remain the same.

At Tritech, many things have changed since even just one month ago. Here’s a spiffy list of such things. By the way, my new favorite word is “terse.” The magic of the word “terse” is that practically all of its synonyms not as terse as “terse.” It’s a self-fulfilling definition! ^_^ So, what’s been going on during my silence, you ask? Read on!

STOP 0x0000007E after upgrading to an AMD platform?

Greetings! This article has been moved to the Tritech Computer Solutions page called Fix for STOP 0x0000007E Blue Screen on AMD Platforms. Please update your links and bookmarks to reflect this change.

(If you get a STOP 0x0000007E error after upgrading to an AMD platform from an Intel platform, i.e. replacing an Intel-chipset motherboard with something like a VIA or AMD or nForce or ATI chipset for an Athlon64, here’s a little hint that’ll help you avoid a complete reinstall from scratch: It’s the “intelppm.sys” driver.)

Guerrilla dishonesty! Thanks, DirecTV!

I ordered DirecTV service for my home a month or so ago, because where I live we have Charter Communications for cable and Charter’s prices are astronomical (and service level significantly lower than what I’m used to.)  It’s unfortunate that Time Warner isn’t the cable provider in the area, because as an ex-contractor for them and as a long-time customer, I felt that overall Time Warner Cable was about as good as a monopoly cable company could get, and while no big company seems to do the customer right 100% of the time, they at least seemed to give half a damn about customer satisfaction and value for the money.  Honestly, I was disappointed that I’d have to move to satellite service, especially with the threat of things like long-term contracts looming.  Yes, you have to commit to a contract with DirecTV, but I understand that it’s a way of subsidizing the equipment installation costs, so it’s not that big of a deal to me.

What is a big deal, however, is the “teaser deals” and impossible-to-understand terms under which the service was sold to me.  I ordered a $40/month package because it was the lowest I could get with a DVR (vital to keep the wife happy, lest I be tormented for the rest of my days).

Imagine my surprise when I receive a bill with a base package price of $65.  That’s before some of the kooky fees that come along with the deal.

Here’s how it works: the sweet deal only lasts one year (12 months), and to get the sweet deal, you have to mail in or electronically submit a rebate request with an apparent 6-8 week wait for processing.  The representative forgot to mention that little detail, and I have to pay the significantly higher bill now, then wait until this rebate is credited back to my account at some arbitrary point in the future.

They really do make it impossible to know what you’re getting into.  You know all the fine print under their packages on their website?  Here’s copypasta of the one for my package (emphasis added):

Offer ends 3/3/09 and is based on approved credit; credit card required. Price reflects an $18 bill credit per month for 12 months after online or call-in rebate, plus an additional $5 bill credit per month for 12 months when you enroll in Auto Bill Pay program and provide a valid email address for the latest news and special offers from DIRECTV. New customers only (Lease required. Must maintain programming, DVR Service and/or HD Access). Lease fee $4.99/mo. for 2nd and each additional reciever. See offer details.

You have to have a credit card, pass a credit check, fill out a rebate form, AND give them access to your account or card, AND be willing to receive DirecTV spam, just to get the price they advertise.

Where did honesty and transparency in business practices go in this country?  Why do I have to jump through 100 hoops just to pay the price that the salesweasels at DirecTV shout about?  Doesn’t this seem a bit dishonest to anyone else out there?  If I ran my computer business the way DirecTV does their sales, I’d be out of business within a few months.  Every major electronics retailer seems to do the same thing with covertly hidden “pre-rebate” pricing and attempts to “add value” in ways that only add value to their wallets rather than the customer’s actual needs.

Let me be very clear: I feel that rebates are a dishonest business practice.  It’s a way to prey upon peoples’ personality flaws that prevent them from successfully and correctly submitting the rebate in order to extract more dollars from them.  Big business seems to be exclusively in the game of extracting as much cash from each customer as possible regardless of the morality of how they go about doing so and regardless of actual customer needs. It infuriates me to no end, and I’m tired of it.

When someone walks into Tritech Computer Solutions, they see each and every thing on my price sheet quoted with the actual final price.  There are no rebates.  There are no ripoff “extended warranty plans” to mess with.  The price quoted is the price paid.  No deception, no distraction, no questions necessary, period.

Why can’t every business work like that?  Dread the thought that a business actually keeps its customers happy and listens to their needs!  I suppose that’s the corruption of trying to pad out your books for the fourth fiscal quarter so your stock doesn’t take a hit!