Category Archives: Uncategorized

Screw you, Yelp.

A few days ago I received an email from “Yelp HQ” informing me that my review of Case Handyman & Remodeling had been flagged, and after review, they decided that my inclusion of the links to the detailed remodeling entries on my blog were “promotional” and violated their terms of service. An excerpt from the email:

“I’m writing because your review of Case Remodeling of Austin has been flagged by the community, and after evaluation, our Support team has determined that the review violates our Terms of Service (http://www.yelp.com/static?p=tos). Because personal accounts cannot be used in any promotional manner, the links to your blog that you’ve included in your review are problematic and will need to be removed.”

Naturally, I sent a response:

Hi Miranda,

I’m curious what aspects of the Terms of Service have been violated? I re-read the Terms of Service, and the Content Guidelines, and could not really find anything that pertains to my review. I linked to the detailed remodel information at the end of my review because it is too much content to post in a Yelp review; it includes day-by-day breakdowns, a lot of detailed information about the kinds of dysfunctional communication and interaction I had with Case Handyman &
Remodeling, and many photos.

The “promotional content” part of the Yelp Content Guidelines seem to specifically address people who post links that promote their own businesses and such. I am hardly doing that, but rather am instead providing more information and context for other Yelp users. Again, I simply do not see how this violates the letter or the spirit of the Terms of Service.

Of course, just because Yelp emails you, doesn’t mean that you have the privilege of emailing them back:

From: “Yelp Team”
To: XXXXX@gmail.com
Thanks for emailing Yelp.
Unfortunately, you have reached an email address that is not in use.

And now I offer a fun little challenge: try to find the email address of someone at Yelp that you can write about this. No luck? Yeah. You have to use their web form. Fuck that. If you email me, threatening to remove content that I provided for free for your site, then it’s not really right to make me jump through hoops and fill out CAPTCHAs just to respond to you. In the spirit of making a good-faith effort, I even tried tweeting @Yelp, to no avail.

So, that’s it. That’s my last Yelp review. Others who want to use Case Handyman & Remodeling or deal with Ed Dudley and get screwed, you can thank the nice folks at Yelp HQ for removing my review that could have spared you pain.

You know what the real irony is? The real irony is that the person who flagged my review is probably someone associated with the business itself. Good job, Yelp!

For reference, here is my review in full. You can decide for yourself if it is “promotional” in nature about my blog:

I’m currently using CASE for remodeling about 800 sq ft of my house, including building a brand new roof, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, and deck. Thus far, the construction quality and timeliness of the project have been OK. Our construction manager José and his crew do a pretty good job, but some of the subcontractors have left a bit to be desired. On the plus side, they at least showed up on time and got the work done (for the most part).

The financial side of the project is a completely different story. We were initially led to believe that this would be a fixed-bid contract with potentially a few change orders if they discovered things that needed to be fixed along the way. Well, as it turns out, despite the fact that we demolished half of the house and rebuilt from the ground up, there was still a tremendous amount of unexpected work. We are currently a whopping 30% over the contract amount and at change order #23. (I could have bought myself a very sweet car with the overages that we’ve had.)

During the initial discussion phase of the project, Cliff Zoch (who was the remodeling consultant we worked with) indicated that CASE really preferred to do fixed-bid contracts and pooh-poohed the “industry standard” practice of lowballing the inital contract to earn business and making back profit margins on change orders. Well, based on the progression of our project thus far, that is exactly what is happening to us.

We still have about 3 weeks left on our remodel, and I will update this once it is complete. I am also blogging my remodel at https://pwang.wordpress.com/category/remodel/ and I have a fairly comprehensive overview of our project at https://pwang.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/project-overview/. I have posted many pictures and I detail the joys and travails of our ongoing project, including interactions with various subcontractors.

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Eye drops in newborns

Our Bradley Class assignment for this week is to come up with our birth plan, and as part of that, I’ve been doing some research and reading about the eye drops they put on newborns almost as soon as they are born.

The “eye drops” are an antibacterial agent that prevents gonorrhea or chlamydia in the mother from causing and infection and possible blindness in the baby. Hospitals used to use silver nitrate, and now they use Erythromycin.

In my searches, I have found some people questioning the efficacy of Erythromycin in preventing such infections. Whatever the truth is about that, it’s entirely irrelevant in our case because from what I can tell, there is simply no reason to do this procedure on an infant whose mother does not have these STDs.

I found some web pages making the argument that since the vast majority of mothers actually get reasonable pre-natal care that tests for these STDs, and they get treated before they give birth, the entire practice is relatively pointless. Regardless of the financial and legal reasoning behind hospitals’ decisions to maintain this practice, it’s clear to me that it’s just another unnecessary routine that we will explicitly avoid in our birth plan.

Here are some of the resources and links I found:

Newborn Baby Eye Drops Explained

Newborn Procedures (including a section on eye ointments)

Wikipedia entry on Erythromycin

Google Answers thread about Erythromycin

Tagged

With a little help from my friends

We’re nearing the end of our remodel project and will soon have a post-mortem meeting with the general contractor. I’d really appreciate it if those of you with blogs would help me increase the ranking and visibility of the remodel portion of my blog by linking to me. Here’s the raw HTML of a sample blurb:

My friend <a href="https://pwang.wordpress.com">Peter Wang in Austin</a>
is <a href="https://pwang.wordpress.com/category/remodel/">blogging 
about his house remodel</a>. He is using 
<a href="https://pwang.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/project-overview/">CASE 
Handyman and Remodeling of Austin</a>.

 

And here’s what it will look like:

My friend Peter Wang in Austin is blogging about his house remodel. He is using CASE Handyman and Remodeling of Austin.

IT Consultant Erotica

A friendly bird dropped this idea in my head. So, ask and ye shall receive…

“There would be tangible benefits to a collaboration,” she said, standing up and moving to his side of the table. “I have never let any strategic partner down.”

“But… I fear that my legacy infrastructure…” he stammered.

She bent down and purred in his ear, “Let me worry about compatibility. And if you want a service-level guarantee… Well, let’s just say there are assets I can leverage to…”

She cast a knowing glance over her shoulder, towards the hem of her black miniskirt, stretched taunt between her flexed legs.

“… to lower my TCO.”

She met his hungry stare. His mouth hung agape. Her value proposition was undeniable, but decades of managing a complex, mature infrastructure had honed his instincts. Turn-key solutions always had a hidden cost center.

“I’ll have to check with my compliance.. and the numbers guys..”

She stood up abruptly and let a small laugh escape from her immaculate, red lips. “My solution can unlock your organizational silos, and you know it. I’ve integrated many verticals, some much larger than yours – I assure you – and my clients are always satisfied.”

He shook his head.

“I’ve invested a lot in my current hardware,” he said defiantly. “I’m wed to the damn thing. If I keep this in-house, I’ll fully recoup my investment and retain the expertise…”

“The expertise that crafted your existing solution? If you’re so happy with the in-house talent, then why are you here, in my office?”

“I…” His voice trailed off.

She walked over to him, and said flatly, “You don’t want compliance. You don’t care about compatibility.”

She took off her glasses and placed them on the table.

“You have business needs, right now. That need to be placed in skilled, experienced hands. I know what you’re thinking. ‘She’s just like the rest. They waltz in with a fancy Powerpoint but once you’ve signed, the implementation falls flat. Once you deploy, she’s gone.'”

He nodded. She smiled, sympathetically, at his honesty.

“I assure you, it won’t be like that.” She unclasped her tight French bun and her long, blonde strands fell around her shoulders.

“You came to us because you were referred by a previous client. You know we are the best of breed. We will provide as much – or as little – documentation as you desire. And as for my hidden cost centers that you’re so worried about…”

She knelt down beside him and looked up, meeting his desperate, tremulous gaze.

“Those little cost centers *are* my value proposition.”

The land was our land, this land’s now Goldman’s

(Apologies to Woody Guthrie)

Chorus:
This land was our land, this land’s now Goldman’s,
From Alaskan oilfields, to farms in the heartland
From regulators, to politicians
Goldman trades these commodities.

I worked my whole life to save some money,
And buy a nice house, for me and my honey.
I signed some paper, from the mortgage company,
Goldman made it a security.

They bought computers, they paid some math geeks,
To build some models and formulae in Greek.
They paid for ratings from Barron’s and Moody,
Goldman got insured by AIG.

Chorus

I was told to trust in the invisible hand,
“The wealth will trickle,” said that great man Reagan
“Don’t need the gov’ment, or regulation,
Goldman prefers markets that are free.”

From my Roth IRA, to my 401(k),
To my father’s pension, from a lifetime of pay,
From our city’s coffers, to the nation of Iceland,
Goldman won trades against everybody.

Chorus

As I was stopped on a crowded highway
I saw above me a Gulfstream jet plane
I saw beside me a gold Mercedes
Goldman buys these with impunity.

People are angry, and I understand,
From California, to the New York Island.
Our banks are failing, Fed’s out of money,
But Goldman banks profits quarterly.

Chorus (x2)

Win-Win-Win-nie Pooh Bear

To the tune of The Kinks’ Lola:

I saw them in a wood, a hundred acre or so,
Was a Rabbit, and a Piglet and a Winnie-the-Pooh
P-o-o-h Pooh Bear
He was stuck in a hole lookin’ for some honey
I asked him his name and in a raspy British voice he said “Win-nie”
Win-Win-Win-nie Pooh Bear Win-Win-Win-nie Pooh Bear

Well I’m not the world’s most physical guy
But when I squeezed him and pulled I nearly put out my spine
Oh my Pooh Bear Poo-poo-poo-poo Pooh Bear
Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
How his addiction to that honey got so out of hand
Oh my Pooh Bear Win-Win-Win-nie Pooh Bear

50 New Ways

Eric Weinstein just asked “What are the other 45 ways to leave your lover?”

I humbly submit my (first?) batch of 20.

20 Ways to Un-friend Your Lover

“The statement is clearly true,” he tweeted me.
The proof is simple if you approach inductively
I’d like to get your help (or at least a retweet)
What are the forty-five ways to leave your lover?

He said it’s not my habit to be wrong
Furthermore my tweets cannot be amended once they’re done
So I repeat myself, and ask y’all about the song,
Can you give me three more ways to leave your lover?
Forty-five more ways to leave your lover…

Hop on Air France, Lance
Catch swine flu, Apu
Reset her iPhone, Jerome
(There’s an App for that)
Get a new Prius, Gus
You won’t need to refuel much
Send a rude tweet, Abideep
Just get yourself free

Scribble on her wall, Paul
Deface Herspace, Ace
DE her gear, Amir
(or sell it on eBay)
Succumb to Bad Horse, Joss
(Congrats on the Emmy nods)
No need for a spiel, Neil
Just get yourself free

Bail out her bank, Hank
Promise in vain, Barak Hussein
Take a moment of Zen, Ben
Just ease it quantitatively
Refi Alt-A, Jay
Don’t need to disclose pay
Walk out your home, Noam
And get yourself free

Lie about your bomb, Saddam
Drink till they love ya, Dubya
Waterboard her clique, Dick
Or shoot them in the face
Question her vote, Mir
You don’t need to show fear
Spew a bunch of swill, Bill
Televise it nationally

(Edit: improved last line)

Gettin’ along like cats and dogs

Last night we had a breakthrough in our domestic politics: Jane and Trinity shared a bed! We were hanging out in the study room and Jane had taken over Ttinity’s doggie bed. After a while, Trinity joined her in the bed, and Jane didn’t seem mind one bit! Perhaps one day they will actually cuddle…
Kaylee is still a little freaked out by Trinity but she is getting over it. She is now fine with being in the same room, as long as she has a high spot or an escape route available.

Low-height, ADA-compliant urinals

Didrik Pinte is visiting Enthought this week from Brussels, and he posed a great question about the urinals in our bathroom: “Why is one of the urinals so low?” A little bit of Googling revealed this gem: Plumbing Fixtures ADA guide

But that’s doesn’t really answer the question; why would be the ADA stipulate that “accessible” urinals be no more than 17″ off the ground? Are handi-capable men expected to aim a ballistic stream from a seated position?