Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Rain In Spain

About to head out of the office to stop by the homestead, throw together the last aspects of packing and then head to O'Hare. We're going to be stopping over in London and then off to Spain for about a week - which is insane amount of time to be vacationing for us. We're bringing a similarly insane amount of audiobooks and movies to counter the 11 hours of flying (for one way) ahead of us.

The rain in Spain, by the way, apparently does not fall mainly in the plains. It's well dispersed and we look forward to possibly seeing some of in the small city and nearby towns.

Keep the country safe, peeps.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Steam Resolution

So first there was this and then there was that.

Now Valve has issued (or at least told the Better Business Bureau they have, honestly I haven't checked yet) a refund. Course, I had to go to the BBB just to get Valve to respond after they directed me to their terms and agreements. Which is fairly ridiculous. I've worked for various consumer-orientated businesses over the years, from a fairly seedy little viatical sales shop (google it, not my proudest hours) to a major retailer. The amount that the "customer is always right" is actually pretty amazing.

For instance, at my last job we got a call from the "special support line" that the customer support staff gives to the truly obstinate. With enough momentum this can actually get to the President's Office - and they wouldn't even have returned my phone calls as an employee. This person was very upset that we hadn't somehow coded in special logic to understand the fact that his PO Box had special dispensation to allow deliveries.

Completely irrational? Totally. Pointless? Yes, at this point the shopper had already been delivered his goods courtesy of the nice customer support rep. Annoying? Certainly.

The guy still got a personal call from a project manager. Why? Because business works best at the speed of good opinions. An good referral can make you more money than a refund in the long run. Look at Valve - because of their handling of this I'm more likely than not going to just erase Steam off the hard drive and never buy another Valve product again ... at least certainly not for the PC (remember, if you buy the disc you still have to go through Steam). How many me's does it take to offset the cost of a $50 purchase ... even if Valve themselves didn't get the money back from Sega?

Valve wants to be a software reseller. They should look into the retail business and realize what that actually means. The "screw the customer" approach might be funny on Clerks or Wonder Falls but in reality it is pretty bad for business.

Oh yeah ... and when I called Sears to cancel the dispute over the charge, they tried to keep me on the line to sell me extra features. WTF? I'm trying to do the responsible thing here and then get back to work and this guy wants to sell me rust-proofing? Why is being a consumer such a pain in the ass these days?

Update: This was the "customer support" response from Steam:

As requested, we have processed a refund to your account.

This is a one time gesture, and won't be repeated.

We are working with Sega to resolve the issues you experienced.

Your confirmation number is: 126204578075991621

Your bank or credit card issuer will return the funds to your account - please allow 3-5 business days for the funds to be posted.

Please note in the future that Steam purchases, per the Steam Subscriber Agreement, are not refundable - this refund was issued as a one-time customer service gesture.

Darn right it won't be repeated. I don't believe I'll be allowing myself to stumble into that problem again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kung Fu Election

Hilarious. Completely hilarious

Oh right, The Oscars

We've evolved Oscars Night carefully over the years into a finely honed excuse to drink with friends on a Sunday. This year the WGA strike really threw a curveball at us though because nobody seemed to realize it was on until it was, well, on and all.

As usual, I've seen none of the movies yet. It's sad but the reality is that most Oscar nominees are the kind of movies we're very willing to wait on DVD. So the Oscars are usually mixed drinks and wild guessing about movies we have no real idea about - mostly only fun in a group setting.

Adobe's AIR Goes Gold

The New York Times covers Adobe's release of AIR into the wild. Model Metrics gets a few blurbs in the process and a front row seat on the launch page.

Going gold is excellent for us as we've (and by we, I mostly mean Jason) been fighting with rolling betas since AIR was Apollo. A solid runtime gives us more reliability to send stuff out into the wild.

The big talking point here will be "browser versus the desktop" since AIR takes browser based development, adds a lot of functionality and throws it all into a cross-platform cooker. I'll be honest and say I don't really see the battle as a battle. Some things I'll want to have as integrated pieces within a website and that will be Flex. Some things will have requirements Flex can't support (like offline data work or system level access) and those things will be AIR. One of my angles, for instance, is to build apps that access one's organization continually outside of the browser. So that will be an AIR app that someone can always access without having to login through Firefox, for instance. Some things, though, will just be rich content associated with established pages, hence they'll be Flex.

I've rambled about Flex and AIR before. I've never been a huge fan of Flash, largely because the development environment rubs me the wrong way. Flex, though, only uses Flash as an endpoint. The development is more akin to HTML/Javascript except it's XML/ActionScript. So basically like AJAX development but with a real compiler and variable types.

So huzzah to Adobe.