Saturday, September 29, 2007

iPhone?

Gizmodo gets it right -- they sum up pretty well why I won't ever be buying an iPhone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Megabus: My experiences

Duh: This has not been approved by Megabus, and is not authored by somebody associated with Megabus.

Somebody on another forum asked if anyone had ridden the Megabus recently. I thought you might like to hear the short version of my reply. Look for more detailed, in depth info, in the near future.

Yeah, I have taken the Megabus many (10+) times from Chicago to Indianapolis and back. This last time I took Amtrak, instead, though.

That was because during my last trip down here, the bus broke down outside of Lafayette, IN, on the highway, nowhere near an off ramp. This was at around 9pm at night. They called for a repair guy who came to fix the broken hose, but couldn't make it work. It took him 60-90 minutes to get there to fix it, and when it was clear he couldn't, they tried to get another bus to come get us. The next scheduled bus was going to stop for us, but broke down in Gary, Indiana, because of problems with the A/C. Then they were trying to get another bus to come get us from Chicago, which is a couple plus hours away. At midnight, when they still didn't have another bus on the way for us, and we were still sitting on the side of the highway, I called the cops, apologized for bothering them for the world's most minor emergency, and asked them what to do. The very helpful lady at dispatch called me back with info on how to get a cab to come get me, and it worked out perfectly. I ended up staying the night in Lafayette, and making other arrangements to get to Indy in the morning.

I was to the point where I was ready to flash a platinum card and say "whatever it costs to get me out of here, make it happen." Probably most people riding the bus don't have that ability, and I have no clue what time the rest of the riders actually made it in to Indy. Best guess at the time was that it would be 3 or 4 am before they arrived.

I've talked to Matt Eggert, manager for Megabus/Coach USA, about this, and when I explicitly asked for a refund, he offered one. Haven't seen it go through yet, and had to ping him a second time for it. This is after I emailed him asking him what the hell happened and what their plan is to fix it when stuff like this happens, and I got absolutely no response.

So, I'm not sure I'll never take the Megabus again. But my confidence in them is not very high right now. Sitting on the side of I-65 for hours, inches from traffic whizzing by in the dark, is not fun. They wouldn't even do anything to get us off the highway and to a rest stop. They don't seem to have contingency plans for when things go wrong, and that's a problem.

The train between Chicago and Indy is nice, btw. $18, and there's an electrical plug for your laptop. It's a bit slower than the bus because it stops more often, though.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OQO Update

Just a quick note to let you know that I got a replacement OQO, and all is well. EVDO fine, no network issues, and it's working great for me on the road. Look for a more detailed update, and review, in the near future.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

OpenOffice to the Rescue!

Last night, OpenOffice saved my life....again.

I've got multiple computers. The main ones are my work laptop, which is huge and heavy, and my tiny OQO, which was out of commission for a bit.

Yesterday, I was tapped to come up with a quick Powerpoint presentation for a potential client. But, I was already at home, and didn't have the fat work laptop with me. So that meant that I had no access to Microsoft Powerpoint.

But, I'm a long-time user of OpenOffice. I primarily use OpenOffice Writer, as a substitute for Microsoft Word. I'm not much of a power user. Spell check, grammar checking, a bit of formatting, and away I go. I often use it to write blog posts (like this one) before pasting them into Blogger. OpenOffice Writer works great for what I need it to do.

I wondered if it would be the same for OpenOffice's Powerpoint-like tool, Impress? Well, I was about to find out, as I needed to make a slide deck fast, and it was the only tool I had at my disposal.

Turns out, it was just what I needed. As far as I'm concerned, it worked just like Powerpoint. Everything operated as expected. A colleague emailed me our PPT template file, I opened it in OpenOffice, built my preso, saved it back out as a PPT file, and sent it on to my colleagues.

They had no issues reading the file I sent them, and they had no idea that I built this with something other than Powerpoint.

And amazingly, OpenOffice is free. If you're looking for a word processor, or even a presentation creation tool, I'd strongly recommend it.