Archive for the ‘Experiences with Companies’ Category

* Interesting quality of a Springer book

Posted on May 13th, 2015 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


SpringerRecently I bought a book: “Introduction to Reconfigurable Computing” by Christophe Bobda. It is about computer architectures and regarding the content interesting and useful (at least for me). However Springer did not fail to surprise me regarding the quality of the book and I was astonished to see Springer dares to distribute a book like this. So far on almost every page I found misspellings and grammatical mistakes. I am surprised that in the 7 years after the book was introduced initially and for more than USD100 less in my pocket, Springer does not see the necessity to do a proof reading. This book is way below the mark that I expect from any publisher.

Just let me give you a few examples. First my absolute favorite so far:

  • Page 63: “Figure 2.48. Pipeline Reconfiguration: Mapping of a 5 stage virtual pipeline auf eine 3 stage.” An interesting mix between English and German.

Those I just found by skimming through the pages a few minutes ago:

  • same page: “With pipeline virtualization, an application is pipelined implemented on a given amount of virtual resources.”
  • Page 62: “The NISC [92] processor consists of a Controller and Datapath on which any C program can be executed on it.”
  • Page 73: “…in some extend…”
  • Page 58: “The DNA Matrix 2.46…” this should be “The DNA Matrix (figure 2.46)”
  • Page 57: “…the domain bit manipulation ( DBN) node provides…” Do I have to tell Springer where to put a space around brackets? And even in 2007 sentences ended with a full stop.
  • Page 56: “The Pprogrammable…” Where is the second p coming from? A spell checker would have been useful here.
  • Page 55: “…an external processor that can be used to configured”
  • Page 54: “…the connection between PES…” “PES” does not exist, but “PEs” does. “PES” is a new abbreviation and misleading.
  • Page 48: “Xililnx” the company is called “Xilinx“.
  • Page 41: “connexion”: This word is rarely used in English (even in 2007).
  • Page 41: “Local bus segments span four cells whereas an express bus segments span eight cells”. Either it is “an express bus spans” or “express bus segments span”, but not a mixture of both.
  • Page 37: “…wasting too much LUT-resources”. Since LUT resources (without a hyphen) are countable it is “many” instead of “much”.
  • Page 23: “Many systems in high-performance computing were built with farm of FPGAs on different boards.” What does the author want to say here? Something is probably missing. Apart from that “high-performance” is wider than the text width, which happens many times in this book and does not look as if someone took care in creating the book.
  • Page 9: “‘Pragmatic problem studies predicts gains in computation speeds…”. This is a citation from a paper written by Gerald Estin in 1960 and it just needed to be copied from the original source, which does not contain the grammar mistake.

So I contacted the representative of Springer for northern India asking him, why for so much money and so much time passed this book was not edited properly, if at all. After a week and a reminder a reply came as follows:

Hi
We have forwarded this query to the editor and awaiting his response.

Regards

After waiting for a month and again reminders, the reply changed to:

Hi
Can we have a call to discuss this. Let me know when it is convenient.
Regards

During the call the representative said that Springer is sorry that the book “slipped” through the editing process. A refund can be offered. This reply is unsatisfactory. What I had preferred is a guarantee that this mistake does not happen again and what steps haven been undertaken to increase the quality and to prevent such mishaps. Apart from that, I would like to see a reprint of the book as soon as possible, which replaces my copy.

Concluding I just can say, that I have learned that Springer does not guarantee a satisfactory level of quality (anymore) and if a book slips through the quality assurance process, then Springer does not care much. The suspicion arises that Springer, once a trustworthy publisher, falls prey to the greedy business of quantity before quality like so many others earlier. For my part, I am very careful what I buy from Springer. Without extensively checking, I will save the money and trouble. Especially if Springer books are worth hundreds of dollars. And who wants to buy a car which, despite it works and brings you from A to B, is leaking, if it rains. From Springer’s point of view you are responsible to do the patch work or live with it after paying a nice pile of money. Nice business model…

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* insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Posted on September 19th, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I wanted to book a flight at one of the webpages which are suppose to compare the travel fare of many different airlines and spit out a list with the cheapest, fastest (or whatever your preferences are) connection. The companies behind these webpages earn provisions and if the customer selects additional conveniences such as taxis, hotels, etc.

One of the companies seemed to have figured that it is best to scare customers and offers an insurance to be protected in case the airline goes into bankruptcy.

Insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Insurance against airlines going bankrupt

Well, I would like to suggest a few more “insurances”:

  • Midair plane failure (i.e. plane falls down like a stone in mid flight)
  • For US bound flights, I am pretty sure we can find something to be insured in case the plane is kidnapped and flown into a building.
  • Insurance in case the life vest does not inflate.
  • Insurance against garlic and/or onion like smelling co-passengers.
  • Insurance against brain damage due to the constant offering and advertisement of expensive refreshers in low cost airlines.
  • Insurance against meteor showers.
  • And many more…

Ideally all these insurances are enabled by default and a customer has to go through the whole list removing the ticks manually.

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* a scammer on craigslist

Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I sold my cycle online and I put it on several online classifieds such as craigslist. Ronald Olsen contacted me, asking details about the cycle and seemed to be very interested in buying it. During the conversation his German went from bad to worse and at one point in time I wrote that he could write in English, if that is easier. His reply was:

Thank you for your reply,i dont know you did not really understand German.. lol

Surprisingly German is my mother tongue and I can understand it quite well. After some time, he continued telling me that he is working for a company called AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd and that he is currently offshore Taranaki Basin in New Zealand on Kapo project. He was ready to send me a cheque in the overnight express mail so that I can ship the cycle to his son who is currently studying business and law at the University of Bremen and is at the top of his class. As a suprise Mr. Olson wanted to gift the cycle to his son.

Everything made me suspicious and I searched the Internet for similar mails. Well, surprisingly there is a Ms. Sandra Crisell working for the same project and the same company who wanted to buy a car for her son studying at the Australia National University (ANU) obviously on top if his class. Unfortunately for Mr. Crisell her letter was published on the web site of the Department of Internal Affairs of New Zealand.

Apparently the scam would work like this:

  1. Interested in the car/cycle/etc.
  2. No additional work for the seller, since the buyer is taking care of shipment, customs, etc.
  3. Suddently problems with the shipping company is reported stating that the shipping will only come and pick up the item, if they are paid upfront. The company needs to be paid via Western Union. So the buyer asks, if it is alright, if the price for the shipping is added to the agreed selling price of the item.
  4. Buyer confirms that the amount has been transfered via PayPal.
  5. Buyer informs about the problem with PayPal stating that PayPal froze the money since the amount of transferred money differs from the agreed buying price.
  6. Buyer comes up with a solution that the money transfer for the shipping company needs to be completed, before the seller sees anything of that money.
  7. If the seller initiates the transfer to a so called agent in e.g. China, the money is gone and the seller has still the item.

I just can recommend to check out parts of the received mails in search engines and look for similarities. Also a good idea would be to check Scamdesk which tries to build an index for scammers and thieves.

Here is one of his last mails for your reference:

Thank you for your reply,i dont know you did not really understand German.. lol, am interested in buying the bike, .Please I am buying it for my son who is on top of his class in University of Bremen, and am so proud of him .I want it as a surprise package to appreciate him towards his achievement and to be delivered before my arrival. I anticipate that I’ll have a Certified Check issued out to you from my bank, I’m in no rush with you till funds are cleared in your bank which takes only a day. You do not need to bother yourself about the shipping costs. I’ll instruct a Shipping Co Agent for pick up at your door, when you must have gotten your cash at hand to come and pick the Bike for me. I worked with AWE New Zealand Pty Ltd and now we are currently offshore Taranaki Basin in New Zealand on Kapo project. Please text me back Your name as you want it written on the check, such as your physical address Address (not PO Box) City, State, Zip. I will send the payment via Overnight Express Mail Delivery, you can consider selling the item, Please delete the ad as soon as possible. I do not mind if you can send more pictures of him for the proper.
Thank you, GOD Bless.
Ronald.

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* german department of education login form

Posted on July 22nd, 2013 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Recently I applied for a login to the web site of the Department of Education of Germany. More precisely of North Rhine-Westphalia, a state in Germany. Below the space in which a user is asked for the password, it says:

Due to security reasons the following characters are not allowed: < > ” \ % ; ( ) & +

(link).

Account opening web site of the Department of Education of North Rhine-Westphalia as seen on 22/07/2013

Account opening web site of the Department of Education of North Rhine-Westphalia as seen on 22/07/2013

Since when is security improved, if the set out of which a user is able to select characters, is reduced? Despite the fact that the set is still very large, it is obviously fabricated fact. In reality the administrators of the web site were too lazy or not paid enough to implement another way to protect the web site from SQL injections and other nasty web site attacking mechanisms. They should have thought about another excuse.

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* mc flurry

Posted on April 6th, 2012 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Usually I do not go to these eateries in which someone can eat the whole menu back and forth and from left to right without getting the satifaction of having eaten something. Just the pain that slowly evolve in the corner in which the stomach is located, signals that physical limits have been reached. Either that or the emptiness in the wallet tells the same.


After a long time, I went to Mc Donalds on New Bell Road in Bangalore and since I like ice cream, I ordered a Mc Flurry appetizingly displayed on posters all over the place. Compare the Mc Flurry that I got with the one in the advertisement. Is there even a distinct similarity? What did I eat there? I am loving it!

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* sbi – inter city charges

Posted on October 3rd, 2011 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies, India.


My friend paid cash into my bank account maintained at the State Bank of India (SBI) IISc branch from an SBI branch that is not even 500m away. For that transaction I paid Rs.25 inter city charges. As far as I know, Mathikere is still in Bangalore. I complained to the IISc branch, but the lady at the desk told me that this is the new fee structure that came into affect on September 1st.

So paying in cash that generates revenue for the bank is now also charged to create even more revenue for the same bank. That makes transferring money between branches of different banks across the continent is much cheaper (current cost Rs. 5, NEFT) than at the branch of the same bank just around the corner. Many people in various platforms and forums started to complain about this new fee structure giving all details about their transactions. What happens, if I pay let’s say Rs.1 into a more or less randomly selected bank account (e.g. one of the poor chaps in the forum). Will they also deduct Rs.25? For me it cost only Rs.1 which I have plenty of (just yesterday a neighbor gave me Rs.575 in coins which he collected over the year). But how many Rs.24 has the receiver? Does anybody have the bank account number of the SBI CEO?

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* dell chat expert

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


So, my laptop broke and I was searching for a new one. I was interested in a Dell laptop and had a few questions especially regarding international warranty and the possibility to return the license of the preinstalled Windows 7. Since it is legally not very sound to sell something and after the completion of the purchase, you are informed about your rights and privileges, the Windows end user agreement contains the following paragraph even in bold:

By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them, do not use the software. Instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine their return policy for a refund or credit.

Wikipedia: Windows Refund

I asked the Dell chat experts about their return policy and an international warranty for the Vostro business line. The Dell Expert was aware of that particular paragraph of the license and the quote that was sent to me later, mentioned only a preinstalled Ubuntu 10.10. Also the international warranty was discussed and concluded that I have to transfer the tag that comes with the machine, to the new country before I am leaving the current country.

After that I contacted the Dell chat again, but this time it was the sales department for the main stream XPS line. And here is the protocol of that chat:

Session Started with Agent
Alex: warranty of xps 15z -> international? cost of laptop without preinstalled software
Agent: Welcome to Dell India Chat! My name is XXX and I will be your Dell.com Chat Expert. I can be reached at xxx@Dell.com or via phone at 1-800-425-xxxx Ext-yyyy How can I help you today?
Alex: Hey, I just have 2 small questions: 1) the warranty that comes with the xps 15z does it cover repairs world wide? meaning if i go to e.g. germany and something happens, will i be able to call the german support and get it repaired?
Agent: it is by default with 3 year complete cover
[This was nicely copied from the web page stating “3-year XPS Premier Service with 3-year CompleteCover” and did not answer the question at all.]
Alex: yes, but it says nowhere, if it is covered world wide
Agent: where you will get international warranty
Alex: at dell for instance?
Agent: but once you go to some other country , you will have to customer care to transfer the tag number
Alex: k, that is not a problem, is it?
Alex: is it possible to transfer the tag of the xps 15z to dell in germany?
Agent: you will have to contact customer care for this query
Alex: k, another/last question: how much will the price be reduced, if the xps does not come with any pre installed software. according to the license agreements, which i have to reject, the manufacturer has a policy in place to return the license. however a lot of work could be avoided, if the laptop does come with anything installed
Agent: please contact 1800-425-4026 / 080-2506-8026
[So he does not know. Customer care most probably will answer questions only after I became a customer.]
Agent: it will come bydefault with operating system , window 7
Alex: so the license says abnd i am citing from it: “by using the software, you accept these terms. if you do not accept them, do not use the software. instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy.” so that i am doing and asking for the return policy so that i know, if i get any difficulties, AFTER i spend almost Rs.70000
Agent: sir the os you will get along with the machine is the original version , even you will get the drivers for the same , and there is no option to buy the system without the os
Alex: that is fine. so i have the right to send it back as the license of windows 7 says. so i want to know, if you are aware of the return policy that dell MUST have in place (again according to the license cited above) and what is the procedure for that. if you never heasrd anything like that, then dell is clearly violating the license and i wont buy it form you
Alex: see, i want to know these things before i spend so much money. so that in the end, i have all the trouble
Agent: if any damage happens or if anything wrong happens you can make complaint against it , but there is no cahnce for such situation
[What is he telling here? I am slowly loosing my patience.]
Agent: all we give is the license version
Alex: k, it seems you are not getting it. i am not asking for a pirated version. ever heard about other operating systems apart from windows? i am citing from the license that comes with your genuine windows. clearly according to the license which is a legal statement, it is the responsibility of dell to have a return policy for that particular software in place. and i thought i am talking to an EXPERT who knows what you are selling. you are wasting my time. thanks for making it so clear that i will not buy from dell and i better invest in some other company. if you do not even know what you are selling, i do not even want to know, how the customer care people are AFTER i spend my money.
Session Ended

So in the end I did not buy from Dell.

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* microsoft’s fear for supernatural powers

Posted on June 5th, 2011 by Alex. Filed under Experiences with Companies.


Due to my annoying mouse and power cord untangling adventures I experienced every day when I shifted my laptop from my room to lab and vice versa, I bought a wireless mouse designed by Microsoft. By running over the pages of the Terms and Conditions that came with the mouse out of pure boredom, I tripped over this paragraph explaining, under what circumstances the warranty voids:

"This Limited Warranty shall not apply, if the Hardware Device is damaged by Acts of God....

If a supernatural power decides to destroy my tiny wireless mouse, Microsoft ensured that they do not have to pay for it. It might be hard for a customer to prove that if the mouse breaks, it was not caused by God. A supernatural power should take care of Microsoft and put some brains into the legal department of that company. In any case: Congrats! Nice move, Tinysoft. Let’s hope, my mouse will remain insignificant enough.

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