What a difference a company makes (Enterprise Rent A Car versus Hertz)

On these pages I’ve talked a lot about my experiences with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and their, in my opinion, bizarre ways. That said, I strongly dislike ‘difficult’ customers, and really try my best to be as reasonable and cooperative as I can be. The level of disrespect coming from so many of us these days towards people in the service industry is awful, truly awful. Beside human decency and mutual respect (one day that might be YOU making soy lattes!), don’t you want to be greeted by someone happy to see you? Other than at Best Buy and Guitar Center, two of the worst run stores I know, I always tried to foster a good relationship with every place I frequent.

Unfortunately, at Enterprise it hadn’t worked! Even though I never complained about the many times waiting for 45 minutes, even though I showed up on time for a reservation every single time, I always took whatever car they offered me, dealt with nothing but employees answering the phone while they were talking to me, renting there for what must be twenty years by now, at least 20 times a year, whenever I show up the look at me like I’m a pain in the ass! All because of one thing really: my refusal to answer the pathetic question (that the employees feel visibly stupid about asking, mind you!) of whether I was “100% completely satisfied with their customer service”!

When they first started asking me, I tried to engage in constructive dialog; I explained that Hertz did it better in my opinion, that a reservation there meant a car was set aside for me and things like that. That they didn’t ask me every single time if I wanted to get insurance, who my carrier is, how much my deductible. You know, stupid, time wasting BS, because they should know after hundreds of rentals that I carry my own! Here’s the kicker: I always explained to them that I don’t care about the customer service, I came because they’re adequate and cheap! I would ask: “Have I ever complained? I keep coming back don’t I?” My only request was to stop asking a question you don’t want to hear the answer to, especially to a regular like me. Every few months they change the whole crew at every Enterprise location and the whole dance starts again, because the little information that the old manager might have collected, was lost again in the transition. As I write it down I get a little nauseous inside….

The newest manager stepped in a few months ago when he overheard one of the new employees going there with me, and again I explained how I thought Hertz just does it better, but that I’m not complaining because I don’t care. He started arguing with me, trying to tell me that his other customers told him Hertz is terrible etc. etc. etc.  So now he’s giving me major attitude and telling me I’m wrong, but deep down, I can tell he IS listening. When I ask him if it is good customer service to ask the same question that you don’t want to hear the answer too every single time it might have made sense! From then on, when I walk into the branch, I see the faces of the employees change: it’s fucking hilarious, like I’m a pain in the ass! But, the manager if he’s there steps in, or whispers something to the person who’s helping me: “Don’t ask him THE question! Don’t try to sell him insurance!” Hallelujah, it worked!

Stil, I take great care to treat regular folks with respect and there’s a part of me wondering if I’m being unreasonable. Compared to literally half the others I see renting it Enterprise, I’m a saint. From rudeness, inability to even come up with $100 deposit, no credit card carrying, ultra-picky assholes, to complete idiots making pickup drivers wait for 20 minutes the range of BS they have to deal with is crazy. I don’t want to be difficult…

So how about Hertz? Last Friday I went to pick up a car for the weekend. I’ve been giving them more and more of my business, sometimes at higher cost than Enterprise, simply because when I show up they have assumed I’m gonna be on time and have a car ready! What a concept! They tried to sell me insurance one time, I told them I will never need it, they put it in the computer and never asked me again, not even when I rent at an airport somewhere else! I’ve rented from them enough to get “President’s Circle” status (20 rentals per year) so I asked Josh over there how many other regulars are in that category. He told me about 20, but that I’m by far the easiest! How about that? They are happy to see me come in! I’m on time, not picky about exactly which car (and they always offer me almost whatever I want, even when I pay the lowest economy rate) etc. etc. Damn it, I’m not crazy after all!


Dead End

Where do I begin…….over the past few years I’ve had occasional serious discussions with some of my neighbors, about the economy, politics, war and other important topics. What I’ve found is that sadly, very few of them are not what could be labeled ‘conspiracy theorists’. It’s amazing, but from seriously believing not just that the US government organized 9/11, but that there is conclusive evidence, to spouting the typical right-wing propaganda we hear so often, it’s clear that they have dug in, holding their positions like we’re in WWII Europe.

The one thing I have the most problem with is the systematic dismissal of ALL big media and last night it came to a head with one of them. To clarify my position: I do NOT believe everything I read in ANY medium, but in my 20 years of actively following many sources, from many places in and outside of this country, I’ve found both the NY Times and LA Times to be very valuable sources. Excluding their clearly marked “opinion” pieces (something so many these days can’t seem to separate from the news they bring), they’ve both earned respect. Certainly I trust their information a lot more than any one person and I cannot imagine how someone can disagree with that. In talking about the perpetual wars in Iraq and elsewhere, my neighbor again questioned my statement that I have talked to soldiers who have fought there. My last girlfriend’s entire family is in the military, and over the years I’ve talked to many return veterans in various places about the topic, so yeah, you could say I’ve gotten first hand accounts. Still, my point is that I’m not going to accept the analysis of even the bravest soldier. I’m going to listen to what generals and captains are talking about when it comes to strategy, and while there is some value in personal experience, it’s ludicrous to think to think a single person knows better than the collective known as the NY Times about what exactly is going on in the big picture.

So my question to my neighbor was: do you honestly believe that there is a single person that’s a more reliable source of information than one of those respected newspapers? And if so, who is it? Of course he couldn’t and thus wouldn’t answer that question, instead started to call me stupid for buying into the ‘big media hype’, again asking me for names of the soldiers I talked to! Mind you, these are not people he knows anyway, so I asked him to stay on the discussion. He kept saying: so you trust one guy who wrote an article over a guy who’s had his boots on the ground there? I tried to explain again that the NY Times is not one person, and its trust has been earned by 160 years of thousands of people bringing us information! They haven’t always been perfect, and I completely understand the possible corrupting influence of money, but they wouldn’t be selling papers (=making money) if they hadn’t proven to be a valuable source! That’s why I read a Dutch paper every day as well and watch as many independent documentaries and interviews.

I write all this down, not to make my neighbor look stupid, but because I’m worried. I’m worried that misinformation will penetrate our lives with a vengeance, and THAT’s far more dangerous than terrorism. I woke up this morning, checked that awful thing called Facebook and found my neighbor had posted his account of what happened. He didn’t use my name but literally called me an idiot for believing ‘big media’ over ‘the men and woman who are actually fighting the war’, which is a complete misrepresentation of what I tried to say. My point was about ONE person versus the NY Times as a source; the whole military is a completely different thing. Of course he had to include that I’m not a natural born citizen, blah blah blah. The guy is certainly not the smartest person I know, but he’s not dumb enough to be harmless and this is how shit escalates.

I’m gonna say it one more time: I believe the LA Times and NY Times sources of news and information about as good as any we currently have in the world. To rely only on one source (Fox news I’m looking at you!) is the stupidest thing you can do, but we CANNOT throw away what we have in these institutions. At least, not until we perhaps find a different or better way. It’s good that people are waking up to corruption, but we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater!

The other cheek

I’m mad, not only at the terrorists of the world, but also and, dare I say, perhaps even more at the people who keep insisting we should do more bombing in the Middle East, many times literally in the name of God. Is that what Jesus would do?

Let me tell you a story about literally the only time in my entire life that a grown man, one much stronger than me, punched me in the face as hard as he could. I was out with a friend in the city of Leiden, a nerds just like me, when we were approached by 3 guys with their girl friends, out for a night on the town just like we were, and probably somewhat drunk as well. I was doing what, believe it or not, was regularly common in university towns like that on a typical night: urinating on a public square. I saw the others coming, but didn’t expect one of them to get in my face. At 19, I had never been in a real fight in my life, and certainly wasn’t macho by any standards, unlike the guy who approached me. He was obviously trying to impress his girl, yelled some profanities at me and got closer. I told him I wasn’t looking for trouble, that if he wanted to piss there, I’d just leave, and out of nowhere he hit me on the side of my face! I did not see it coming AT ALL, when my head returned to its proper upright position, and I realized what had happened the adrenaline kicked in.

Luckily I had not fallen down, because that had most likely led to him kicking the shit out of me; instead I looked him right in the face, I will never forget, trying to look as brave as I could. There was NO way that my friend and I could have taken on these hoodlums without some serious injuries, and my instincts kicked in. I said nothing and just walk away backwards, while looking him right in the eye, as if to say: “Are you serious?”, knowing that this wasn’t anything personal against me, so him going after me would be very unlikely. Amazingly, it worked. There was no escalation and something that may have turned into hospital visits, ended with nothing more than an aching, bruised cheek. I still had all my teeth and learned a valuable lesson, not from theoretical speculation, but in our cold hard reality.

In thinking about what happened in Paris, reading all the things people wrote about the attacks and what needs to happen know, what stands out the most is the suggestion that we need to destroy Isis by going over there and blowing it up. Unfortunately, very few have the courage to admit that our attempts to fix ‘situations’ in the Middle East have directly caused the anger that fuels the desire to strike us in any way they can. When Hollande states that now it’s war, I find that quite insulting. What do you mean now? We’ve been blowing up villages, roads and who knows what, including many innocent people, for YEARS AND YEARS. Just because all the destruction happened so far away from home, it doesn’t mean that France and really any country that’s a member of NATO has not been AT WAR.

Really, we’ve been trying to tell Arabs how to live since the fucking crusades, for hundreds of years. Telling them our God is better than theirs! No, that our God is the ONLY one. The most fucked up part is that we don’t even live by the rules of the One we claim to believe in!

It’s very dangerous these days in our politically correct world to discuss this, but we NEED to put some perspective in the matter, and in the grand scheme of things, 130 dead people is insignificant. I say it many times, every year in the US alone 35000 people die in a car accident, yet nobody is afraid of driving. In the grand scheme of life, what the terrorists did in France, compared to the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people WE killed in their part of this world, is merely a punch on the cheek. And what did Jesus say about cheeks again?

Listen, here’s the bottom line: you cannot destroy anger with violence, unless you’re willing to kill every possible chance of new recruits. Every time we drop another bomb in Syria, some kid somewhere gets talked into signing up for ISIS. It’s not an army in the traditional sense, it cannot be defeated in a traditional way! The oh-so-common rhetoric that comes from the hawks at Fox News and so many that watch it that terrorists hate us because of our ‘freedom’, is flat out wrong. They want to get back at us, because we have the nerve to go to their land and tell them how to live. The fact that they use propaganda and various other narratives to rile people up to actually blow themselves up does not change the fact that if we were to NOT meddle in their business, they would have no feeding ground for their hate against us; they would not be able to recruit very many to blow themselves up to ‘get back at us’.

In closing, I want to talk about fear, something that’s already a huge problem in the US. There are two kinds: the rational kind which protects us from danger, clear and present danger which should be mitigated or avoided, and the irrational kind. The latter is actually something that’s getting out of control. Whether we talk about food and how some people have talked themselves into major eating disorders afraid to eat perfectly good common foods like butter and beef, or being killed randomly on the street. Driving is perhaps the most dangerous common activity but do people try to limit the amount of it they do? No way! They will drive halfway across town to save $20 on a fifth TV they don’t even need! Let’s be honest: the chance of someone getting killed by an American bomb in Syria are infinitely greater than the chance of any of us getting killed by a terrorist. To allow the latter to chance the way you conduct your life in areas not related to how your government is going to address the problems is irrational and probably will only lead to making things worse.


Boy, how times have changed! When I first moved to Los Angeles 23 years ago, I was shocked by the things people took for granted when it came to food: some of the most horrid jarred pasta sauce I had ever tasted was turned into a ‘home-cooked’ meal by adding meat, and the first pizza I had, at Little Caesar’s, was so bad, as poor as I was, I threw most of it away! Seeing ‘homemade’ at restaurants to begin with, as if the typical housewife was a better cook than a professional one, made me very curious to say the least. Don’t get me wrong: Holland wasn’t exactly a culinary wonderland either, still paying the price for all the demonizing of basic foods we’d experienced worldwide in the decades before, but at least the Pizza was generally quite good. For years I would rather not eat the pies from all the major chains here and go hungry than partake in the greasy, salty cheesebombs with disgusting crusts that would show up at rehearsals. To this day, being on the road with guys that grew up here, and hearing them give opinions about what is great pizza gives me chills….

But, times change, and there really has been a revolution in food quality in this town; old players pushed out, new ones kicking ass. Proper Neapolitan Pizza joints are popping up everywhere and the major players had to step up, so when I read that Domino’s had improved, I decided to give them another chance. After an exhausting weekend, finding out I get free delivery through Shoprunner, I ordered a ‘Brooklyn’ style x-large pie with ham from Domino’s online, a 16″ delivered for $13.34. Their site is pretty cool actually, with a progress report in real-time, showing the name of the actual person making your food! You see when it goes in the overn, when it comes out, when it leaves the store. But best of all, it wasn’t bad! There’s better ones out there, no doubt, but it was enjoyable and certainly inexpensive, properly cooked, with not too much cheese and logistically brilliant. Color me impressed!

Jazz Bot

In the many discussions about artificial intelligence and robotics I’ve had with people over the years, many of which were musicians of course, a common expectation voiced was that it would be a LONG time before our jobs would be taken by the machine. It seems hard enough to get a computer to talk like a human being, although many rapid advances lately are fascinating enough, but getting a collection of electronic parts to learn how to play Jazz, how to improvise and play with others, seems downright impossible to most. If one were to analyze what goes into attaining that skill for a human, something that arguably many of us could never even, one would find thousands of hours of practice, deep philosophical analysis and seemingly endless exploration. How in the world could you ‘program’ a machine to do that? Except, it’s not going to be done through traditional ‘programming’ and that’s why I think we will be (un)pleasantly surprised sooner rather than later..

You see, learning how to play music is done much more through a process of conditioning, by doing along with others who already know how to do it, where to place that note; it’s done by listening, and then internalizing in a way that does not require, or mostly doesn’t even involve rules and regulations. And that’s exactly how these ‘artificial’ jazz players will grow: through machine learning. I expect the results to be quite astonishing quite soon actually. Imagine having the ability to absorb all solos that Charlie Parker played, to train your neural network the intricacies and range of Coltrane, not in a lifetime like a human, but in the 5 minutes it takes an advanced A.I. to listen to the same.

It’s exactly the kind of paradigm shift Kurzweil described years and years ago; the mimicking of natural learning processes, with the added advantage of electronic processing speed. It’s been proven to work, nowhere more obviously as when one of Google’s machines, and this is really true, taught itself to play and master several classic Atari games! You read that right: it was not even explained the rules of the games, or what the controls did, it just started playing and eventually taught itself to play it better than any human ever could! Interestingly it was not able to figure out all the games, it had its limitations. There must have been some basic ‘instincts’ like a desire to score points, in order to steer it towards victory; the analogy to what’s in our DNA is more than a coincidence. We’re getting to the basic structure of the universe here…..

Master Debaters

Finally some fireworks in a political debate! I’ve watched about two thirds of it now, and as far as I’m concerned, Kasich is the only one that could be a good president. As a matter of fact, I would probably pick him over Clinton, if I were allow to vote that is…. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First off, as much as the selection of candidates resembled a clown car more than a legitimate political party, I very much agreed with the sentiment that some of the questions asked by the moderators were even more ridiculous and inappropriate.What the fuck? Don’t get me wrong, I believe most of these guys up there have absolutely no business being president, some for outrageous reasons, but that’s still no excuse. It’s most certainly lowered my opinion of CNBC by a lot and makes me feel good about my decision to stop paying for cable.

But, on to the actual politics at hand. Ben Carson? Seeing him struggling with numbers in his head, desperately trying to remember the ‘math’ behind his tax plan, showed very clearly that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Most of the ideas for taxation from the Republican party are of course pulled out of either thin air, or the source of our least favorite kind of air. Simplifying the tax code to three pages is actually a wonderful idea, and one that would benefit the middle class and poor people alike! There is simply no way for that to be possible without taking more money from somewhere else: either rich people directly, or from the businesses they own! The AMAZING part is that people voting for these clowns believe that they really take the interest of the regular folks to heart. I think it’s time for Democrats to go for it, accept the offer, draft legislation and show the constituency that the GOP is NOT actually in favor of it.

Let me set one thing straight: as a foreigner who gets information directly from ‘the other side’, I can promise you that Obama has NOT given other countries a worse opinion of the USA or made it look weak. This is a BS argument and as a matter of fact, his election, at least in Europe, has actually restored some faith in this country.

The final thing I want to say is that in watching these poor guys regurgitate their carefully studied arguments, I realized that they don’t even know how wrong they are! Let’s face, half the country can’t keep its own finances in order, let alone understand what it means to run a land of 310 million. I do believe that some of them, actually think that their plans would work, that their party cares about the little guy. Carson, Cruz, Rubio are just too stupid for the job, plain and simple. Then there are those like Jeb who are just part of the big machine, who do their duty for the party, the status quo. Corporate hawks like Fiorina, who will spew lies like there’s no tomorrow are the worst. Rand Paul means well, I agree wholeheartedly with him on some points, but he’s also not quite smart enough to makes the points his instincts lead him to. Watching the argument between him and Bernie about hungry seniors makes that abundantly clear.

And then there’s Trump! You know, he’s a bully, but in a strange way, I would say he’s not nearly as bad as he seems. In the end, he knows how to get stuff done! He’s a realist and one not afraid to speak his mind, which is quite refreshing and needed in this time of PC. In some ways, he’s a lot like Putin and sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

Right now, I believe it’s time to look inward, to examine how we treat each other, how we take care of our infrastructure, how we make sure to fortify the foundations our society is built upon. The simple rhetoric that growing the economy is going to lead to more jobs is not applicable to the highly automated future we’re moving towards, in my opinion. I agree with Repubs that we have an entitlement problem, that there is a large subset of the population who’s not very interested in contributing. I disagree with the (non-)solutions they suggest so often. I agree with the GOP’s opinion that we have too much government intervention in areas such as soda cup sizes and ‘healthy’ versus unhealthy foods; more personal responsibility is drastically needed. Let’s hope we can work this out….

Dell XPS Tech Support

Who would’ve thought? After swapping around SSDs and RAM in my Dell XPS 18 a few times, I guess I hadn’t tightened the tiny Torx screws that hold on the back panel very well. Taking the thing out of its case the other day, I realized there were only 3 left in there, out of the 11. So, I chatted with Dell XPS support yesterday, and 24 hours later, today on my doorstep there they are, overnighted free of charge, two full sets of them! I’m impressed!

Craig’s List Poetry

From the Boston edition of CL’s “Missed Connections”:
“I met you in the rain on the last day of 1972, the same day I resolved to kill myself. One week prior, at the behest of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, I’d flown four B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-eight bombs. How many homes I destroyed, how many lives I ended, I’ll never know. But in the eyes of my superiors, I had served my country honorably, and I was thusly discharged with such distinction. And so on the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I found myself in a barren studio apartment on Beacon and Hereford with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame permeating the recesses of my soul. When the bottle was empty, I made for the door and vowed, upon returning, that I would retrieve the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the discharge I deserved. I walked for hours. I looped around the Fenway before snaking back past Symphony Hall and up to Trinity Church. Then I roamed through the Common, scaled the hill with its golden dome, and meandered into that charming labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. By the time I reached the waterfront, a charcoal sky had opened and a drizzle became a shower. That shower soon gave way to a deluge. While the other pedestrians darted for awnings and lobbies, I trudged into the rain. I suppose I thought, or rather hoped, that it might wash away the patina of guilt that had coagulated around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I started back to the apartment. And then I saw you. You’d taken shelter under the balcony of the Old State House. You were wearing a teal ball gown, which appeared to me both regal and ridiculous. Your brown hair was matted to the right side of your face, and a galaxy of freckles dusted your shoulders. I’d never seen anything so beautiful. When I joined you under the balcony, you looked at me with your big green eyes, and I could tell that you’d been crying. I asked if you were okay. You said you’d been better. I asked if you’d like to have a cup of coffee. You said only if I would join you. Before I could smile, you snatched my hand and led me on a dash through Downtown Crossing and into Neisner’s. We sat at the counter of that five and dime and talked like old friends. We laughed as easily as we lamented, and you confessed over pecan pie that you were engaged to a man you didn’t love, a banker from some line of Boston nobility. A Cabot, or maybe a Chaffee. Either way, his parents were hosting a soirée to ring in the New Year, hence the dress. For my part, I shared more of myself than I could have imagined possible at that time. I didn’t mention Vietnam, but I got the sense that you could see there was a war waging inside me. Still, your eyes offered no pity, and I loved you for it. After an hour or so, I excused myself to use the restroom. I remember consulting my reflection in the mirror. Wondering if I should kiss you, if I should tell you what I’d done from the cockpit of that bomber a week before, if I should return to the Smith & Wesson that waited for me. I decided, ultimately, that I was unworthy of the resuscitation this stranger in the teal ball gown had given me, and to turn my back on such sweet serendipity would be the real disgrace. On the way back to the counter, my heart thumped in my chest like an angry judge’s gavel, and a future — our future — flickered in my mind. But when I reached the stools, you were gone. No phone number. No note. Nothing. As strangely as our union had begun, so too had it ended. I was devastated. I went back to Neisner’s every day for a year, but I never saw you again. Ironically, the torture of your abandonment seemed to swallow my self-loathing, and the prospect of suicide was suddenly less appealing than the prospect of discovering what had happened in that restaurant. The truth is I never really stopped wondering. I’m an old man now, and only recently did I recount this story to someone for the first time, a friend from the VFW. He suggested I look for you on Facebook. I told him I didn’t know anything about Facebook, and all I knew about you was your first name and that you had lived in Boston once. And even if by some miracle I happened upon your profile, I’m not sure I would recognize you. Time is cruel that way. This same friend has a particularly sentimental daughter. She’s the one who led me here to Craigslist and these Missed Connections. But as I cast this virtual coin into the wishing well of the cosmos, it occurs to me, after a million what-ifs and a lifetime of lost sleep, that our connection wasn’t missed at all. You see, in these intervening forty-two years I’ve lived a good life. I’ve loved a good woman. I’ve raised a good man. I’ve seen the world. And I’ve forgiven myself. And you were the source of all of it. You breathed your spirit into my lungs one rainy afternoon, and you can’t possibly imagine my gratitude. I have hard days, too. My wife passed four years ago. My son, the year after. I cry a lot. Sometimes from the loneliness, sometimes I don’t know why. Sometimes I can still smell the smoke over Hanoi. And then, a few dozen times a year, I’ll receive a gift. The sky will glower, and the clouds will hide the sun, and the rain will begin to fall. And I’ll remember. So wherever you’ve been, wherever you are, and wherever you’re going, know this: you’re with me still.


    • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers



post id: 5237173491 posted:

iO 9 Ad Block

After thinking and reading about it more last night, I decided to write a little more about what is in my opinion the most interesting new feature of iOS: Apple allowing AdBlockers. The consequences are much further reaching than one might initially realize and here’s why: it’s all part of the Big Fruit’s plan to control you! That’s right, I said it!

Let me explain. When the internet was first envisioned and designed, it was all about standards; HTTP for instance allowed anyone with a standards compliant browser to access the same information, without the need for a proprietary program, while still allowing much flexibility in the consumption of the device. Laptops or desktops of ANY brand could access ANY information and service. What a glorious concept, and it worked amazingly well too. When new form factors came to be, all the needed was an Internet Browser and the world was at their disposal. It’s kind of a like a standard formulation for gasoline or motor oil: any car that sticks to the standards can run on fuel from any brand.

And then Apple had a great idea: let’s not cooperate with all other tech companies in expanding capabilities of the standards (HTML5 etc.), but create our own infrastructure. Let’s try to provide as much functionality on our platform that can NOT be used on another, and the App Store was born. Of course simplicity was its main selling point and on that front it certainly delivered. If you can only buy gasoline from one brand, your choice of where to pump becomes a lot simpler doesn’t it? Never mind that that first iPhone didn’t do half the shit others did at the time, it was moron proof and anyone can figure out how to point at what he or she wants. All of a sudden, Apple was in the middle of almost everything you do, controlling just about every aspect.

Of course the rest of the tech world wasn’t gonna sit by idly and kept developing. Google jump on the App bandwagon and created its own proprietary world, as people all over sang the praises of simplicity! At the same time, forward thinking engineers all over the world pressed on improving standardized protocols and methods, in the original spirit of the internet, but most businesses put way more effort into developing Apps for the big two platforms, than into creating a portal that can be universally accessed. You see, for super high-performance things like games, there’s no way around getting native optimized applications, but there are many many examples in which we the people would have been much better off with a proper website.

So where are we now? 8 years after the introduction of iPhone, more than 80% of smartphones in the world run Android, Apple is below %15 and Windows Phone, arguably the most elegant and modern is stuck in single digits, with miserable app support! With all this bitching about ‘the man’ keeping the little guy down, this time we’ve clearly done it to ourselves! You can buy a perfectly modern Lumia for under $100, but we’ve gimped its capabilities by supporting Apple, and now it’s about to get worse.

You see, allowing AdBlockers is a direct attack on Google, which makes its money from ads, but it also hurts the companies doing the advertising. Who would pay money for serving a message that doesn’t get delivered? So what is the solution? Forget about advertising on the web, make an App for the iPhone, because that’s where the AdBlockers don’t work! In turn that leads to less development for the World Wide Web, which leads to less functionality for possible new competitors until they ‘catch up’ in the app department, or exactly what the original inventors of the internet tried to prevent!

As I write this I’m just amazed at how quickly this is already coming to a head. The path towards this was laid out while ago, and the oddest thing is how quickly Apple has turned into the bad guys from 1984 they so famously warned us for! The bottom line is that proprietary stuff is something that should be avoided as much as possible. Apple has already proven repeatedly it often bets on the wrong horse (G5 cpu anyone? Firewire? 3.5 inch screens?) and now we find people invested in that eco-system limiting themselves because they’re trapped; and it’s only starting…..

The Pencil

No more lowercase i necessary, Apple will now bring you the pencil! It’s so amazing, it doesn’t even need an eraser! Never mind that Jobs said that if something has a stylus, they didn’t make it right. Never mind that artists want to use industry standard apps like Photoshop (which runs on the Surface Pro beautifully I might add), we’re making them learn new ones! Even though Microsoft has already shown it’s certainly possible to run a desktop-strength OS on a truly mobile device, the big Fruit is doubling down on insisting iOS the the way to go; exactly as I have predicted by the way. So while Windows users can now utilize Premiere Pro, Sibelius and Pro Tools in their world, Apple customers are still learning new programs and enduring a wildly different experience at home than on the road. Oh right, Apple makes things easier for us……….

Anyway, I’m tired of regurgitating the same points; there was one thing, largely overlooked by most, that was, in my opinion, the big bomb shell dropped during that latest Big Reveal. You see, Apple will now allow Ad Blockers for mobile Safari in the App store! I’m still amazed at how many people are to this day not aware of their existence on desktop browsers, but, as I’ve written about on these pages before a few times, in my world it’s hard to venture onto the Internet without them. The benefits are clear: not only do they remove all that utterly distracting visual litter, they also reduce the load on your machine and your connection, sometimes dramatically so. Most web pages themselves consist of little more than text, and it’s the circus of ads that takes all the processing power (Flash anyone?) and bandwidth. Especially on older/slower computers it can make the difference between owning a paper weight or  a functional machine believe it or not. For that very reason alone, I believe the makers of this crap deserve the hard time they’re about to get….

But what could this seemingly small change of policy mean? Amazingly enough, it was a Dutch show that prompted me to write all this. In DWDD, regular Alexander Klopping was invited to discuss this topic, because this is a show run by people who recognize the value of quality newspapers and journalism, and understand the current way we finance it. We need to collectively, for the greater good, support rabid investigation, independent and unrelenting, on ALL subjects, even the ones we might not personally be interested in. We can leave it up to commerce, the American way, because the ‘free market’ will ‘automatically’ weed out the weak players. But with Fox News as the flagship result for such a policy, there’s no need to explain how that’s a bad idea….

So the ignorant masses find out how easy it is to block all advertisement, people will have to subscribe to newspapers in large enough numbers. Here’s the options for the New York Times:

One thing is very interesting: getting a printed paper with a full subscription does not necessarily cost more than not getting one. That’s strange no? It’s a LOT of paper and delivery added on! So I wonder: are there ads in the digital version? I bet there are, but since they are so easy to defeat, advertisers pay less, am I right?

Now let’s do some math: according to Wikipedia the New York Times had 2013 revenue of almost $1.6 Billion. All digital access costs $455 per subscriber per year, so it would take 35 million people go all digital, assuming costs stay the same. They would probably go down if no print was necessary, plus keep in mind: this is without needing any advertisements, with all revenue coming for subscriptions. This means no need for the infrastructure of selling ads, a much leaner company even less susceptible to outside influences! Or, it would take 100 million people paying $3 a week…… or, if I can really dream, what if American collectively decide it’s worth turning into a national asset: for $5 per citizen in tax per year, it could be run! Sounds like a great deal to me.

Speaking of great deals: as I watched the great reveal of the 6S Plus, all I could think of was Zenfone 2 $199, 6S Plus $749…… $199 versus $749…… even if the prices were reversed, I’d still prefer the Asus, but that’s because of my specific needs. There’s just no reasonable justification for spending almost 4 x’s the money unless you’re wealthy, and that’s the problem. Buying something to achieve some status, when you really can barely afford it in the first place doesn’t make you look good, it makes you look stupid. Put that Zenfone 2 next to a 5S and you know what I mean!