Posts tagged ‘etiquette’


Everything’s perfect with those Auckland systems, nothing to see here

28.11.2014

I contacted Auckland Airport through its Facebook on Tuesday over the matter in my previous post, and got an immediate reply from someone monitoring its social media. She tells me that she will ask them to furnish me with an urgent response. I am still waiting. It’s a bit of a worry when this is an airport’s definition of urgent. If your plane is three days late, don’t worry.
   Maybe I am very behind the times when it comes to Auckland. After all, this is the biggest city in the nation and its conventions must drive the rest of the place. I began seeing a lot of red-light runners there some years back, and this novel custom has made it down to Wellington now, where we are ignoring red lights with increasing frequency. Dunedin, watch out: we’ll be exporting it your way soon, as it is the new way of doing things. My Auckland friends all kid me when I observe the no-intersection-block rule from the road code: ‘Ha ha, we can tell you’re from Wellington.’ Get with the programme, Jack: the road code is optional.
   Today, I was asked by one Auckland-based organization about whether I attended an event or not in May, which had a cost of NZ$30, and this was, naturally, overdue.
   I don’t understand why this organization fails to keep records of who attends its events. But apparently this failure is my fault.
   I responded, ‘I don’t recall if I attended but I can tell you that I never received an invoice.’
   Their response, ‘As per below, I note an invoice was sent to you on the 19 June 2014.’
   Well, no.
   I never received it. And I can prove I never received it.
   It is not my fault that they use MYOB and, from an earlier experience, they have trouble sending overseas, where our server is located. It is not my fault that their (and presumably, others’) DNS servers in New Zealand are woefully behind the times—something else we already know. Do they seriously think I would hold back $30?
   My response: ‘I’ve attached a screen shot of the emails that arrived around that period with attachments. This is the first I’ve seen of your invoice.
   ‘I see your invoice is generated by MYOB. From what I understand, their server does not resolve some email addresses outside New Zealand correctly, so that will explain why it has never arrived.’
   Now, folks, remember the modern custom is never to take the other party at their word, and fire back something where they can visualize you are sitting on a much higher horse.
   Always believe in the superiority of your technology over the word of a human being, because computers are perfect. We know this from Google, because Google is honest and perfect.
   This will ensure greater stress, because remember, stress shared is stress doubled, and we can all get on the Auckland bandwagon.
   Incidentally, I have offered to pay because I support the principles of this organization. I realize they could forward invoices willy-nilly to people, but I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt. We’re nice like that in Wellington. I’m such a sucker, keeping those intersections clear and stopping at red lights. How very quaint of me.

The above was the most sarcastic blog post I have ever written, so no, I don’t believe Auckland has a monopoly on this behaviour.
   Recently, however, I’ve been wondering what’s the etiquette when you receive a bit of bad news.
   I had received some from Hastings recently, and my response was along the lines of, ‘I quite understand. All the best to you,’ albeit with a bit more embellishment.
   I did not know of the context to this person’s change of heart, and there was no point to force the issue when a decision had been made.
   I found myself on the other end recently when a very good friend asked me to help a friend of hers (in Wellington). I initially was enthusiastic—till it dawned on me that if I took on yet another company in a mentoring role, it would be very unfair on two that I was already helping, one of which was a recent client at Business Mentors New Zealand.
   That time really should go to people who are earlier in the queue, and I had to draw the line.
   I wrote back, explaining the above in as polite a fashion as I could.
   I haven’t heard back. This could be due to an email issue, which is always possible, or the silence is intentional. Given that prior emails were working, then I’m going to lean toward the latter, but without shutting my mind to the former.
   Would you reply? I’d like to think that one’s paths could cross again within our very small nation, and you may as well keep the blood warm. Or should we not waste our time, given that that one further email really is of no practical, immediate purpose, and it’s implied, within our very casual, laid-back country, that “it’s all good”?

In the meantime, I got in a submission for the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. As it was under urgency, and I only finished reading the bill after 11 p.m., after getting back and eating dinner late, it’s not the best submission I’ve done (and probably the briefest). However, I was somewhat buoyed to discover the following day that my concerns were the same as those of former GCSB head, Sir Bruce Ferguson. Rest assured my day is not spent pondering the etiquette of modern electronic correspondence.

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Tumblr says: death to Pokémon haters

16.06.2011

There was an interesting graphic on Tumblr today:

which is an opinion. I don’t see anything wrong with it. I do not care for Pokémon, but it’s not as though it’s a reality TV show with whining contestants, the Wellywood sign, or Arial. Still, it’s not the end of the world.
   The abuse that this got was amazing. At the time of writing, there were 236 notes, including many wishing death on the creator of the graphic, accusing them of having a childhood in which they must have been abused, or simply telling them to go forth and multiply.
   Recently, I made this one, which wasn’t as unpopular, but I was surprised at the reaction:

The point: computers are tools, don’t get stuck with established thought, and use what you want.
   That’s not how Tumblr users took it. There were philosophical teenagers either saying accusing me of showing off how I use ‘the internet’ differently (how Word or Arial qualify as ‘the internet’ I am not sure) or philosophizing that the better known names were market leaders precisely because they are so good.
   The philosopher was the interesting one, given that he may be too young to have ever tried WordPerfect or Quattro Pro, while I don’t know of a single typographer or graphic designer who prefers Arial over Helvetica.
   It’s one thing to criticize from a place of knowledge, quite another to assume you know all the facts at 17. Heck, I’m more than twice that and I still don’t think I know it all. If a Linux user tells me that his OS is quick and efficient, I’m inclined to believe him (Jaklumen comes to mind), because he obviously knows something I don’t. I haven’t used Linux lately, and I’m not going to shoot down someone who has demonstrated that he’s an intelligent and courteous individual.
   The internet, ladies and gentlemen, has continued down much the same path we had before. And those of us who thought today’s teenagers might do a better job than we did are misled.
   Just as any other era, there’ll be some amazing kids who’ll come to the surface and be true leaders. They will be more internationally minded, because they have come into a world where global connectedness is a reality, not a dream. Hopefully they will be better able to reverse the growing rich–poor gap because, by the time of their adulthoods, they will either be aware of better tools or the gap will be that much more severe.
   But, there’ll also be the masses for whom being loudmouthed and opinionated is standard behaviour, just as there was in every generation before. The difference is that more people have a voice.
   Maybe this is yet another reason for Facebook’s fall: those sick of not only privacy invasions, but seeing behaviour they don’t particularly like take place on their own walls. It seldom happens to me—wall privileges are not granted lightly in my case—but the majority of people have their Facebooks wide open, not distinguishing between groups of friends.
   The sort of trolling that YouTube is infamous for is, in fact, everywhere, and I recall having a moan about this four years ago on this same blog.
   In the 1990s, when businesses first flocked to the ’net, many of us were people impressed by the telex or BBSs, and loved the idea of doing international business more efficiently. But by the turn of the century, certain people who were not schooled enough to get their poorly argued opinions publicized had the tools at their disposal.
   I don’t begrudge this, because the freedom of speech is a great thing, and if it allows us to have an accurate snapshot of where society can pick itself up, then all the better.
   If the best writers and thinkers get more followers, it could well inspire those who aren’t as well regarded to pick up our game.
   For those willing to give reasons for their disappointment about an issue, it allows those who oppose that viewpoint to get to the heart of a problem and resolve it.
   Though we’ll continue to need a strong stomach or reasonable general knowledge to look at some of the stuff on the web, where caveat lector will be increasingly the rule on free-for-all websites:

Funny, but also sad.

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Posted in culture, internet, technology | 4 Comments »


Duck Duck Go adds a Lucire bang

03.12.2010

Aside from writing a branding report today (which I will share with you once all contributors have OKed it), I received some wonderful news from Gabriel Weinberg of Duck Duck Go.
   Those who are used to the Duck will know that you can search using what he calls bangs—the exclamation mark. On Chrome, which has a minimalist design, I have set my default search engine to Duck Duck Go. But what if I wanted to search on Google?
   I can either do what is built in, and what Google suggests, by beginning my typing in the search box with the word Google. Or, I can simply add !g to the end of the query, which, I might add, is something you can do from Duck Duck Go itself, too.
   Of course, Google would prefer that I put all searches through them, but having Duck Duck Go as a default isn’t a bad idea.
   There’s a huge list of bangs that you can use at the Duck Duck Go website, which include !amazon (which will take you directly to an Amazon.com search), !gn (for Google News—this one is a godsend, especially for Chrome, which has made it much harder to search the news section, even if programmed into the search settings), !video (for YouTube), and !eb or !ebay (for Ebay).
   I’m glad to announce that Gabriel has taken on board a few of my suggestions for motoring and fashion publications, such as !autocar, !vogueuk, !jalopnik, !randt (Road and Track) and !lucire (had to get that one in).
   We’ll announce this on Lucire shortly, but readers already saw me announce, on Thursday, a nip–tuck of our Newsstand pages. That’s not really news, so I chose to complement it with a few other announcements.
   Since we were already fidgeting with that part of the site, Gabriel’s announcement prompted me to do some changes to the search pages, which were woefully out of date.
   The community home page was last designed four years ago, and that time, we just shifted the content over. Never mind that that content was also out of date, and included some letters to the editor that are no longer relevant. It had a link to the old forum, which only results in a PHP error. So today, I had all the old stuff stripped out, leaving us with a fairly minimalistic page.
   I didn’t plan on making a blog post out of it, so I never took screen shots of the process. But at left is one of the old page from Snap Shots, and long-time readers will recognize this as the website design we had many years ago. When we facelifted other parts of the site, this was left as is: it’s old-fashioned dynamic HTML and hasn’t been moved over to a content-management system.
   The new one may be a bit sterile (below), but it takes out all the extra bits that very few used: the Swicki, the Flickr gadget (we haven’t added anything to it since 2008), and a complex sign-up form for the Lucire Updates’ service. It’s been stripped to basics, but it now includes the obligatory links to Twitter, Facebook, Vkontakte and the RSS feed.

   Which brings us on to the search pages. These also have the updated look, but, importantly, I fixed a bug in the Perl script that kept showing the wrong month. Regardless of whether it was March or December, the script would show January:

   This is probably nothing to the actual computer hackers out there, but for a guy who has used an ATM only three times in his entire life (mainly because I lacked the local currency), this is a momentous occasion.
   It was one of those evening-tweaking cases where it was simpler for me to do it myself than to ask one of the programmers, and I managed to remedy something that had plagued our website for 10 years.

   The searches revealed a few strange links from long-expired pages, and here is where we might get in to a bit of discussion about online publishing.
   Once upon a time, it was considered bad form to have dead links, because people might point to them. Even more importantly, because a search engine might, and you could get penalized for having too many.
   This is why we’ve kept some really odd filenames. The reason the Lucire Community page is at lucire.com/email is that the link to a free email service we provided at the turn of the century was linked from there. Similarly, we still kept pages called content.htm, contents.shtml and editorial.shtml, even though these pages had not been updated for half a decade.
   There are now redirects from these pages, which were once also bad form as far as the search engines were concerned.
   But, given that search engines update so much more quickly in 2010, do we still need to bother about these outdated links? Will we still be penalized for having them? Should we not just simply delete them?
   If you look to the right of this blog at the RSS feed links, you’ll see some dead ones—there were more, but I have been doing online weeding here, too. It almost seems to be a given that people can remove things without warning and if you encounter a dead link, well, you know how to use a search engine.
   To me, it still seems a little on the side of bad manners to do that to your readers, but one might theorize that few care about that any more as many sites revamp on to CMSs to make life easier for themselves.

A side note: earlier this week, when weeding through dead links at Lucire, we noticed that many people had moved to CMSs, with the result that their sites began to look the same. Some put in excellent customizations, but many didn’t. And what is it with all the big type on the news sites and blogs these days? Is this due to the higher resolutions of modern monitors, or do they represent a change in reading habits?

PS.: The search script bug was fixed by changing $month[$mon] to simply $mon. Told you it was nothing, though I noticed that the site that we got the script from still has the bug.—JY

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