Vale of tears

I like JetBlue a lot, so this isn’t by any means an overall slam… but I’m astonished at their ineptitude when it comes to doing business on the Internet, given that they bill themselves as the web airline. Unlike EVERY OTHER vendor in the travel business, they don’t appear able to send you a confirmation email after you buy a ticket — which means no confirmation number unless you write it down by hand. Uh, I don’t think so. And if you call them to get a replacement email sent, it might take 24 hours or not get there at all. They claim they get caught in spam filters a lot, but that convenient excuse just makes them look more lame. Dudes: if Southwest can send me email without fail, you can too.

Since we’re getting rolling on a rant here… have I mentioned the curious case of the post office with no mailboxes? It’s the only one I’ve ever seen, and of course it’s in beautiful downtown Sunnyvale. Instead of mailboxes, they have these lovely antique brass slots in the wall, each of them only wide enough for one small envelope at a time. They’re carefully labelled “Sunnyvale letters”, “Out of town letters”, “Sunnyvale flats and bundles”, and “Out of town metered mail”… which leaves out stamped large envelopes going anywhere other than Sunnyvale. For those, you’re apparently supposed to stand in line behind a dozen septuagenarians who appear to have nothing better to do than ask questions about sending mail, until you get to the front of the line and are allowed to HAND your envelope to the nice postal worker who will promptly toss it into a bin. The thing that irks me the most about all this absurd time-wasting rigamarole is that they justify it in the name of homeland security, when most of the other towns near us have drive-thru mailboxes.

Other things I learned this week: don’t use DHL as your shipping option with ThinkGeek, because if they can’t deliver your package they’ll just give it to the USPS; if your computer is stolen or otherwise fubar, you will fervently praise the majesty that is IMAP; and don’t believe guys in pinstriped trousers when they whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

One bright spot in a vale of tears: our kick-ass designer Torrey has ported our chat interface look and feel over to Adium with Dojo! Now you can experience the thrill of our superlative text bubbles while your text fades in gently. Oooh!

OpsBoy strikes again

Troutgirl: There are two paths to becoming a VC…

OpsBoy: Does one of them involve being bitten on the neck by another VC?

Troutgirl: What do you call a mullet on a bald guy?

OpsBoy: A bullet. Nothing in front, but a party in the back.

Rifkin: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

OpsBoy: I’m sure it’s just a trick of the light, but every time you say something like that you get just a little bit whiter.

Korea photos up

Sigh. Another thing the Mac is better at is syncing with the Treo. I sort of gave up on the Linux box at the point where I had to figure out manually which USB port to mount as /dev/pilot… but on the iBook, it was butter.

So my photos from Korea are all up on the Flickr. Mine are mostly just snapshots from the Treo; Timboy’s are better quality and more visually appealing.

Wifi busted

Ever since my trip to Korea, the wireless on my Linux lappy has been wacked out. It drops the connection like every 5 minutes, even when the router is right in front of it and every other machine in the room is reporting 100% signal strength. The issue seems to be that the box does not see the connection at all, not that it detects signal but can’t connect. Therefore, once the signal gets dropped, attempts to reconnect via iwconfig will fail. Sometimes hibernating makes things better; but sometimes it results in a “No such device” error on ifup. Rebooting always causes the machine to detect wifi signal again, although it goes out 5 minutes later. I have not made any software or configuration changes recently that should affect the wifi subsystem. What do you guys think… is it my card? Antenna? Kernel modules?

Meanwhile, my new and unloved iBook is sitting here with perfect connectivity, power management, and shiny lickable buttons on its gorgeous apps. It even autodetected my wireless printer last night. It’s hard not to project a certain smugness onto the damn thing, although I realize that’s utterly moronic.

Since my last go-round with a Mac, I’ve found a couple of new projects that rock. I’m using Adium instead of Fire now, because I can’t resist the silly ducks. My previous emacs was a bit too prone to crashing, so I’m trying out Aquamacs. And of course NeoOffice is the answer to the curses of anyone who had to use OpenOffice under X11 on a Mac.

Weak Powerpoint

I don’t think I’m the very worst speaker in the known universe — uh, except when I’m compiling the software upon which my preso will be based for the first time an hour before I’m scheduled to speak, sorry OSCON peeps — but I am forced to admit I am the very worst slide maker of all time. My slides just look like TOTAL ASS. They are beyond fugly. I’m genuinely embarrassed to make them publically available, they’re that bad.

I’m particularly mortified because all my friends are Mac-users and of course they have those gorgeous Keynote presos with the super-fly templates — and they are not shy about rubbing it in. I use OpenOffice, which I’m guessing has very basic presentation tools anyway; but then I make things infinitely worse by my putrid color sense, utter inability to snap to grid, and retarded comprehension of layers.

Sigh. I might have to cave and buy a Mac just for Keynote and iTunes. Grump.

Hangul Day in Seoul

Happy Hangul Day from Seoul! I was chuffed to find that the people still recognize their unique linguistic heritage in their hearts, even if it’s no longer an official holiday (the South Koreans had too many and had to drop some).

I’ve been here (actually about to come home in the morning) on a week-long bus tour with my mom and Tim — because really, is there any better way to spend the most crucial week of your young startup’s life than on a bus tour of Korea with your mom? Seriously, this is my mom’s 60th birthday year, which is a big deal in Korea because it’s considered one full turn of 5 12-year astrological cycles. Children are supposed to give their parents lavish gifts on this birthday, and this is what my mom wanted… so here we are.

Plus, it gives me a chance for a little recreational detox since anything imported costs a freaking fortune here. Coffee is unbelievably expensive — like $4 – 8 for a (small) cup, depending on whether you’re at a Dunkin Donuts or a posh hotel. No refills either. And good booze is like $15 per shot. And I never saw a single diet soft drink, so I even had to give up the aspartame. On the other hand, I did develop a small flirtation with a type of Korean soft drink flavored with pine needles, which Tim found a bit too reminiscent of the stuff you use to mop your kitchen floor.

Korea and especially Seoul are completely different from the last time I was here, as a teenager. It’s a global Pacific Rim city now, like Los Angeles or Tokyo, and thus a lot more comfortable than it used to be for visitors. On the other hand, there was a certain unique charm to Seoul in my girlhood… heavy military presence, civil defense alarms, incessant tear gassings, noodle-delivery boys on bicycles, washerwomen who insisted on ironing your underwear, lack of hot water 18 hours a day, and total unavailability of imported goods. The only thing left over from those days seems to be the rock-hard mattresses.

Will upload photos when I get home tomorrow, if I can figure out how to sync my Treo on Linux. Otherwise, enjoy the last vestiges of the world’s only former linguistic holiday.