jordan.terrell
Just trying to make sense of things...

Magazine Subscriptions via Amazon.com

Thursday, 9 April 2009 10:28 by jordan.terrell

In late December and early January I subscribed to a few magazines related to building electronics/embedded hardware and I did so via Amazon.com.  My experience has been --- less than ideal.

Upon placing the order, Amazon said that it would take roughly 2 months to receive my first issues.  Pretty standard for subscribing to periodicals.  However, for 3 (SERVO Magazine, Nuts and Volts, and Everyday Practical Electronics) of the 4 subscriptions I have still not received them.  The one subscription (Circuit Cellar) that I have started received has already missed sending me my March issue – I have the February and April issue.  I contacted Circuit Cellar customer support about this and they said they would get the March issue out to me immediately.  No big deal.

For the other subscriptions, I contacted Amazon Customer Service and they informed me that I could not deal directly with them to resolve these issues and proactively gave me contact information for the magazine distributors.  I didn’t like that fact that I couldn’t deal with Amazon, but at least I didn’t have to go hunting down phone numbers and email addresses for the distributors.

I contacted the two distributors via email and I did not get a response for a couple days.  The first one for Everyday Practical Electronics asked me to confirm my address.  Once I did, the next day I got an email saying that they are looking into it and they should get back to me in the next 5 to 7 days!  And that’s business days!  Not the response I expect.  The other distributor for SERVO Magazine and Nuts and Volts never even knew about my subscription and said that it would take another 6 to 8 weeks to receive my first copies.

This strikes me as a poorly setup and run operation between Amazon and these distributors.  I don’t know if by some random convergence of events I was the one person who was affected by this, if this is endemic to these few magazine distributors, or if this affects the entire network of distributors that sell magazines through Amazon.  All I know is I was looking for a simple way to subscribe to some magazines – so much for that!

Caveat emptor!

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The Secure Site You Visit Could Be Compromised

Tuesday, 24 February 2009 10:47 by jordan.terrell

And you might never know it.

You need to watch the video on this page - it has a lot of techno speak, but it can show you what to look out for.

My recommendation is that you never go to a site that you would care if it got compromised (banking, social networking, etc) on a public or work network, or using a public/semi-public proxy service, like Tor.

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The Crisis of Credit

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:29 by jordan.terrell

You’d really have to be living in a cave not to know that there are issues with the global financial markets.  Albeit a bit off topic for this blog, I found a video that was very interesting and very informative – it does a good job of explaining how it all came about and what all the lingo like “sub-prime mortgage” and “collateralized debt obligations” are.  Check it out!

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History of the Internet

Thursday, 12 February 2009 12:54 by jordan.terrell

I just saw this really cool video on the History of the Internet.  Check it out, and be sure to click “Watch in HD” at the bottom right of the video – it looks much better if you do.

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I’m Not Dead; Just Busy

Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:53 by jordan.terrell

I just wanted my handful of readers to know that I’m not dead, and nor is this blog.  I’ve just been really busy since the PDC (as a result I will probably not provide a review of the PDC – more on why to come).  I’ve been learning a lot of things, some of which are outside the historical scope of this blog – more on that to come as well.

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Shout out: Lynn Langit

Friday, 14 November 2008 07:59 by jordan.terrell

An associate of mine and I were at the 2008 PDC, and we were talking very frivolously about different ways that we could “liberate” the Surface PCs that were littered all around the L.A. Convention Center.  We should have know better – Microsoft puts spies in with all the attendees. It’s really hard to spot them too – cause they're developers, just like us!  One of those spies intercepted our “liberation” plans - a Microsoft employee that goes by the name of Lynn Langit, or as many know her by her “spy handle” SoCalDevGal. Interestingly enough, she did seem to think it was cool that we were willing (not really) to go to such great lengths to obtain a Surface – so much so that she seemed to want to participate in our little operation, giving it an air of official Microsoft business as it were.  But I think this was a ploy to gain our confidence, and keep their precious Surface PCs safe.  Well, played Lynn – well played!

I wanted to give Lynn a little unsolicited plug – she’s working on a book now: Smart Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server 2008.  Even at the PDC she was slaving away at the final touches.  I haven’t read her first book, but I’ll keep an eye out for when this when I’m at the book store.

Watch out at the next PDC, spies like Lynn are bound to be lurking around!

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“Steak Restaurants Near Staples Center Los Angeles”

Monday, 20 October 2008 15:31 by jordan.terrell

Amazing!  Three years ago I went to the 2005 Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.  One of the nights my manager took me to a really good steak house, and since I’m going again this year I thought I might check it out again.

One small problem – I didn’t remember the name of the place.  I just knew that it was near the Staples Center.  When I searched for it on Google, it was the second one on the list.

More and more I’m amazed at how well Google can shred the text of your search into meaningful information.

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“Entering the Stronghold”

Thursday, 16 October 2008 10:31 by jordan.terrell

This is a bit off topic for me, but it is truly a rare thing to find a song, especially one that was put together by tracking in on a computer, that you just can’t stop listening too – and be just as excited to hear it as you did the first time.  Personally, I really like classical songs that have been remixed, or have a very modern or almost techno sound to them – yet still remain true to their classical heritage.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve found one of those songs that I can’t stop listening to:

Entering the Stronghold

You don’t have to pay to listen to it, although I would gladly do so.  Enjoy!

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Jennifer Spencer Photography

Wednesday, 24 September 2008 23:25 by jordan.terrell

I guess it is about time to break the silence (I haven't posted in over a month) - you know how it is, life gets busy.

This is a little off-topic for me, but I wanted to point everyone to my sister's photography web site.  My sister and I spent the evening putting together an updated version of her site - not bad for one nights work, if I do say so myself.  I'm sure I've got some minor browser compatibility issues to work out, but all and all, I think it looks good.

Oh, and I think she is very talented, and I'm not at all bias!  If you live in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area and you need a photographer, you'll never find anyone else who is as determined to make her customer's delighted.

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Mixed Experiences Using Twitter

Sunday, 10 August 2008 01:50 by jordan.terrell

I've been using Twitter for a little over a week - and as you can no doubt guess from the title of this post, I've had mixed experiences.

I've managed to pick up a handful of useful links to software development resources.  Plus, I like how many of the mainstream blogger's "Tweet" when they make a blog post - it's kind of like real-time RSS.

However, I have noticed a less than desirable signal-to-noise ratio.  Whereas most of the blogger I follow publish software development related content, following those same people on Twitter has thus far yielded dissimilar content, and out of context chatter.  For example, if you are following one person, and they "@reply" to another person you are NOT following, you only hear one side of the conversation - much like trying to overhear and understand a phone conversation that you can only hear one side of.  I've also noticed that since Twitter is closer to a near real-time communication medium, it tends to better enable heated debates, even outright textual fights - I've already had to "leave" (no longer follow) one person for this very reason, just to avoid this noise.

Having said all of this, I think there is much realized and future potential with this platform of communication.  I think Twitter would benefit from things such as tagging, being able to associate a Tweet with a URL (instead of having to include it in the body of the Tweet), increasing the permitted size of a Tweet to ~250 characters, and the ability to create, join and subscribe Tweet groups.  This would allow one to both publish(if a joined member) and subscribe to something like the "ALT.NET Tweet Group" or "Rhino Mocks Tweet Group".  Twitter etiquette would encourage people to stay on topic when posting to a group.

Perhaps my suggestions goes against the grain of what Twitter is all about (following people's daily on-goings), but if you think of RSS, it too came from humble beginnings as well - but now we tag, we TrackBack, and we Digg, Kick, etcetera.  This has created a very vibrant blog ecosystem, while still maintaining its grassroots heritage.

Regardless, I'm going to stay of Twitter for now - if I continue to see a degradation in the signal-to-noise ratio, I may just tune out...

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