We’re Air Canada. It’s not our problem.

I’m waiting at the airport in Toronto to catch an Air Canada flight to New York which was supposed to depart at 6:15 pm. We were here early enough to get exit row seats.

At 6:00 pm the agent said that there would be a half hour delay because of a ground problem at Laguardia. A few minutes later she announced that they were boarding and they might arrive a little earlier than they thought.

A few minutes later she announced that the flight was cancelled, and everyone could line up to have their boarding passes swapped for an 8:30 pm flight.

When I went up there I was told that there were only a few seats left on the 8:30 flight and it became fairly obvious to those of us in line that Air Canada just didn’t want to bother to fly two flights into Laguardia when they could make do with one. So what if they inconvenienced a few customers.

When I asked for their Customer Service number to complain I was told by an agent named Anne that I could "write to Mr. Milton". I commented that he probably wouldn’t care about my problem, and she said "no he wouldn’t."

It’s great to know as a customer that when you purchase a seat on a flight expecting in good faith that the flight will actually run, that you can’t in fact depend on that. Even better to know that the people who run the airline don’t really care about the customer. And best of all that the customer service line folks know the airline doesn’t care about you, and they don’t really care about you either.

There was no apology given. Just a "take it or leave it"attitude.

It’s unfortunate that this is the kind of thing that passes for customer service on "Canada’s airline". I guess that explains why airlines like WestJet are doing so well.

And to think the only reason I didn’t fly out of Buffalo this time for one quarter of the price was because I thought that Toronto would be faster.

My mistake. And one I won’t make again.

Now it would be nice if someone from Air Canada would even consider commenting. But I won’t hold my breath.

Update: So we finally get on the plane an they announce thatto make up for our inconvenience bar service will be free on the flight. So when the flight attendant finally gets to me I asked for two drinks, only to be told that it’s one drink per customer. I explained that free means free, and the flight attendant told me that they didn’t mean that. They meant to say one drink per customer. Once again, it’s not their problem.

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January 6, 2008.

If proposed legislation continues, January 6, 2008 is the day that Net Neutrality ceases to exist in the United States:

Absent network neutrality, network operators could dictate to customers which Internet services they could access, and at what quality. Customers of Apple’s iTunes music store, say, might find their downloads slowed down, or blocked completely, if Apple refuses to pay a transaction fee to their ISP. Users of the Vonage Internet phone service might lose their dial tones if their Internet provider wants to sell its own brand of phone service. The Internet might become more profitable for network providers, and less useful for everybody else.

If this legislation continues, that is also the day the open communication and collaboration of the internet stops.

Yes plenty of people will yell you that the telecom companies have to pay for their network somehow. Even though we are all paying already they want some of us to pay twice. Or many times.

These operators sat back while companies like Google made the internet valuable. Then they jumped in with a little blackmail:

Pay us to use our pipes or else.

So how are they different than the so called "patent trolls"? Actually they sounds like racketeers.

Is it really too late to stop the insanity?


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Factoid of the day.

According to USA Today, US airlines lost 10,000 bags a day in 2005:

The rate of lost suitcase reports per 1,000 passengers on flights soared 23% from a year earlier, according to recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Among the reasons: a surge in the number of passengers, airline budget cuts, backed-up flights and tighter inspections of luggage.

10,000 bags missing. Every day.


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Windows XP Home? That old thing?

Did you just buy a shiny new state of the art, latest and greatest PC with Windows XP Home on it? Perhaps the place that sold it to you forgot to mention that Microsoft won’t be supporting Windows XP Home after the end of this year. Mary Jo Foley has the scoop:

Arstechnica points out that mainstream support for Windows XP Home Edition is set to expire on December 30, 2006. There is no free extended support for consumer products under Microsoft’s lifecycle policy. So that means users who want support, including security updates, are going to have to pay. Guess that’s one way to convince (?) users to upgrade to Windows Vista, which is due out in the latter half of this year.

Generally companies try to have the replacement available before they discontinue support on the previous version. Maybe they’ll offer you a free upgrade for your trouble, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.



New shoes.

For years I’ve been a faithful Rockport customer, always buying the same brown suede shoes. Last year the soles of both shoes in one of my pairs broke, splitting in half. The shoe store explained that they were defective, and Rockport would replace them free of charge.

I sent them in, and Rockport sent me a brand new pair of shoes as a replacement. But they didn’t replace my brown shoes – they sent me a new pair of black shoes. They honored their guarantee, but they showed little respect for my choice as a customer.

If I had wanted black shoes, I would have bought black shoes. But I bought brown shoes. And they sent me what was convenient for them, even though I had the misfortune of purchasing their defective product.

Today Rockport lost a customer. I bought a new paid of Nunn Bush shoes. They were virtually identical to the Rockports, and I paid less for them.


If it ain’t broke…

Intel is changing the logo it has used for 37 years:

Intel Corp., whose marketing made its computer chips a household name, is changing its logo for the first time in 37 years.

The dropped “e” in Intel will be shed in favor of a swoop around the company’s name with the tag line “Leap Ahead.” The “Intel Inside” phrase, a fixture since 1991, will be dropped, Santa Clara, California-based Intel said yesterday.

As the Business 2.0 Blog points out, Intel has the fifth most valuable brand in the world. “Intel Inside” was a well done and often imitated brand. I’m not sure why they would give that up for “Leap Ahead”, which sounds so generic that it doesn’t say anything at all to me.


I had to learn it on the street.

Joel Spolsky, he of the definitive blog on software development, isn’t happy at all with the state of Computer Science education these days. And his biggest complaint is aimed at schools that teach only Java:

Instead what I’d like to claim is that Java is not, generally, a hard enough programming language that it can be used to discriminate between great programmers and mediocre programmers. It may be a fine language to work in, but that’s not today’s topic. I would even go so far as to say that the fact that Java is not hard enough is a feature, not a bug, but it does have this one problem.

I was educated as an electrical engineer, and had only the most rudimentary of computer science courses, but before I went to university I worked for a while for a computer company writing software. This was before PCs, and I learned a fews different assembly languages, some proprietary languages, and C. What I did learn, I had to learn on the street, without formal training. I was fluent in binary, hexadecimal, octal, and powers of two. So university just built on that.

I always had a desire to know what was going on under the hood, so C was perfect for me. But there are times these days when Java fits the bill nicely, especially when I want to work on more than one platform. And sometimes other programming languages are the answer.

Joel may go overboard a bit, but he has an excellent point. If you don’t the fundamentals, then you can’t make the best choice of language or structure to use in a particular situation. Sometimes C is the right language to use.

After all, somebody who has only learned Java will be unable to make use of any new platforms that appear until someone else writes a Java Virtual Machine for it. They’ll never know the joy of making hardware bend to their wishes by writing a device driver. And they’ll never be able to squeeze every last drop of power and capacity from their machine.

Then again, it is nice now and then to have Java take care of everything for you. It would be nice to forget about buffer overruns for a while.