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Monday, June 27, 2001
The MacHack conference went very well, and I was pleased to have attended. One thing I did learn though is that I am not as young as I used to be. If you look at the conference schedule, you will see that the hours are quite unusual...although maybe not for programmers. Many events begin at midnight and continue until dawn, and some people have even succeeded at staying up the whole time (I, however, did not.)
I got to meet Steve Wozniak (the father of the Apple II) and Jef Raskin (the father of the Macintosh). Lots of very juicy inside tidbits of trhe origin of the Mac and anectdotes of Steve Jobs. Although I prefer WWDC as conferences go, this one is quite a bit freer, less goose-stepping to the party line, and a lot of student participation. Although I did not submit a hack this year, I definitely shall next year. I plan to have a slideshow ready of MacHack soon.
In a style similar to South Park (both in animation as well as music), the MacHack team game up with this cartoon video, which I think you will like(QuickTime format). Here are some articles from the conference as well: MacHack Keynote, The Woz Fireside Chat, Problems with MacOS X, The Hack Show, Awards Ceremony.
Bastards, Part Two
As my web site had been up and down for over a week, I received only five responses to my inquiry as to whether I should go after "the bastards" (all of the responents said yes). Well, in the meantime, a different set of bastards have risen to the surface, who I did end up fighting.
The MacHack conference was held at the Holiday Inn - Fairlane in Dearborn, Michigan, which is less than an hour from where I live. Originally, I had not planned to stay at the hotel, but given the long hours (the keynote began at mignight and ended at 6AM), I thought it better to stay the night. So I made reservations (for non-smoking, of course), and got one of the last rooms, as it had filled up. I picked up my room key at 9PM or so, but I did not bring my bags into the room until after the keynote. It was around 7AM by this time, and I was ready to crash. However, I hadn't been in the room five minutes before I noticed the stale smell in the room...yes, you got it, they put me in a smoking room.
I was pissed, but too tired to fight, so I went back to the lobby telling them their error, hoping that there was an open non-smoking room. Of course, there was not. So I turned in my key, told them I will not stay in a smoking room, and was ready to drive home. And then they tell me that they are charging me for the room I had not been in for five minutes. Suddenly, I was no longer too tired to fight. After my TGIF experience, there was no way I was backing down. Sneaking me into a smoking room in the hopes I won't notice is bad enough. But to pay for it? I don't think so.
I made a pretty good scene, told them that I was going to call my attorney and sue them. They must have assumed I was bluffing since the cost of the room is less than an hour at a lawyer's office. What they did not realize is that I am more than willing to throw three or four times the cost of the money to fight this. For me, the price of accepting the injustice was far more than the measely $119.65 I had been robbed. I would rather fight and lose than quit. Hell, if they have to spend more than the $119 just to defend the suit, I would consider that a victory. I made phone calls, sent email, notified everyone from the Holiday Inn corporate offices to the MacHack organizers themselves.
When I spoke with my attorney, he suggested I go via Small Claims Court. I rejected that option because in Small Claims, I am not allowed to be represented by counsel. And frankly, I want this to be as expensive for them as it is for me. Also, it looks a lot scarier to get a letter from an attorney than just from me. If everyone was willing to fight an injustice even when it was not cost-effective, maybe these hotels won't engage in such practices.
And just as I was getting excited by the prospect of actually taking this to court, Holiday Inn corporate caved in. They apologized profusely, stating that it was not their policy to put non-smoking reservations into smoking rooms, even if the hotel is filled. They said that they will happily refund me and that there is no need to pursue this legally.
Moral of the Story: If you're willing to go to war over a principle at any cost, chances are your opponent will be the one to find it cost-ineffective to continue fighting you.
Monday, June 11, 2001
Many of you emailed me noting that my site was down much of last week. It seems that John Homer (my current domain host) is changing hardware and updating his server. I have brought my Journal and resume back up, but the rest is down probably for the next week. I'll keep you informed how that progresses.
Where There's Smoke ...
Those of you following my ongoing story about wanting to inhale without risking lung cancer, I have received the following response back from the Michigan Citizens for SmokeFree Air:Dear Mr. Hoyle, it would appear that TGIF in Ann Arbor is in clear violation of our PA 242 of 1993 (M.C.L.A. #333.12909, Sec 12905 (2) where it states in part "A food service establishment with a seating capacity of 50 or more that is not owned or operated by a private club may designate up to 50% of its seating capacity for smokers. A Food service establishment that designates seating for smoking shall clearly identify the seats for nonsmokers as nonsmoking, place the seats for nonsmokers in close proximity to each other, and locate the seats for nonsmokers so as not to discriminate against nonsmokers." By having the smokers in the party seated and smoking in the nonsmoking section, they have effectively used more than the 50% seating for smoking and also discriminated against you as a nonsmoker.
I would suggest a call to the local Board of Health code enforcement division, which number I do not have for Washtenaw County. I am forwarding your e-mail to 1) Orlando Todd, Clean Indoor Specialist with the Michigan Department of Community Health and to 2) Kimberly Elrod, with the Smoke-Free Environments Law Projects (located in Ann Arbor) who may be able to render additional assistance.
I am also forwarding by mail information on our organization. -Marx Cooper- Director
So what do you think? Should I pursue this? Or am I overreacting? Let me know what you think by email: Click here if I should GIVE UP, or Click here if I should RUN THOSE BASTARDS INTO THE GROUND. (Adding text to the email is optional.) I will let you know the poll results on my next update.
In addition to MacHack, I will be attending the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology conference in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of July. This will have made the fourth conference I will have attended in a two month period of time.
Eastman Kodak Update
Congrats to my former co-workers on their sucessful move to Building 205. Dan Kuchta updated me on the results, and it looks like everyone is getting settled in. He also informs me that long-time Windows lover Vinnie is dealing with the scandal of his wife getting a G4 Macintosh to use for video editing. Heh heh, sounds like trouble in paradise. You know what they say: Once you go Mac, you never come back! ;-)
Monday, June 4, 2001
Big Tobacco vs. Big Bad Jon
Yup, it happened again. This time, it was the management's fault.
This past week I was again in TGI Friday's having my usual Peppercorn Burger, and a party of about 12 were seated next to me. It was a little after midnight and I was eating and working on my portable (which I now take with me to dinner each night). I began to smell the stench of cigarette smoke coming my way and saw where it was coming from. It was the party of 12, almost half of them smoking, dead-smack in the middle of the non-smoking section. Given my last experience, I decided to go through official channels and pointed it out to my waitress. She went and found out that (get this) the night manager had given permission for the party to smoke in the non-smoking section. In fact, as a party, they had asked for smoking, but the night manager was closing down that section, presumably to get out soon after their 1AM closing time.
The waitress apologized and asked if I wished to be moved. I said that I wished to speak with the night manager. Five minutes later, he comes to my table and introduces himself as Tony. He confirmed that he had indeed given permission, and it was a recent policy by the store manager, Michelle Bruce, that after 10PM to allow seating of smokers in the non-smoking section. I was apalled. He was very apologetic, offered to reseat me many times, but had absolutely no intention of moving the smoking party out of the no smoking section.
Furious, I paid my check, and walked out. The next morning, I called the TGI Friday's home office's 800-number to complain, as well as see Michelle Bruce herself during my lunch break. Michelle took responsibility and said that this was indeed her policy, and she was sorry that it bothered me and that she would not do it again. Since I do not put much faith in the words of a manager dealing with an irrate customer whose business she would simply be happy to not see again, I am planning to take this matter up with the Board of Public Health here in Washtenaw County. Although Ann Arbor does not have as an advanced Indoor Clean Air Act that Monroe County, NY has, I am pretty sure that TGI Friday's is in violation of the local Public Health Code, and I am planning to pursue this as far as I can go.
Next Time I move (which will be no sooner than Summer 2002 it seems), I will make sure that the my new location has an Indoor Clean Air Act.
Another WWDC has come and gone, and I received a lot of very useful information, especially for Carbonizing applications. It seems that Apple doesn't have their heads quite as far up their rectums (recta?) as I though. I am still holding out hope that there will be some changes in the UI within the next year, but I think it will take several months of low adoption to make Steve Jobs see that point. Not nearly as many fun things this year: no Apple Masters (perhaps out of respect for Douglas Adams?), no party at the Tech Museum, no give aways, not even a hardware session. last year's WWDC broke its previous record attendance with 5300, but I do not believe they had quite that many this year. Although, there was a very nice WWDC leather jacket that I received, which is selling very well on ebay right now. It was also good to see Marty, Joe, TJ, Mike Levine, Michael Wu and William. I am already confirmed to go to my next conference: MacHack.
It seems I celebrated too soon the result of my speeding ticket. On Friday, just hours before my drive to the airport to go to my first conference, I received a certified letter from the Ann Arbor that my speeding ticket from last March has been re-issued! I had never heard of such a thing, and I called to ask about how this could be when my case was dismissed. It turns out that in Michigan, traffic cases which are dismissed are done so without prejudice. When a dismissal occurs, the officer involved has five days to give a reason as to why he missed his court appearance (in this case, a funeral), and if acceptable, the trial can be reset, which is what happened to me. My new court date is July 11.