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Friday, October 03, 2008

Sandals Travel Sucks

So we are not in Antigua.

We might not be tonight.

Sandals booked our flight an hour after our connection was to leave. Without a time machine we were screwed.

Then things got bad. And weird. American Air was a champ. Karen V and your supervisor? Angels. Thanks again. After much work we were at least booked for the next day.

Then they noticed someone booked a local Carribean flght. American has no connection with them so they couldn't do much more than tell us it was there.

Mind you - if they hadn't ... nobody would have.

So we fly to San Juan and head to Liat, the local carrier, to see what is up. They are pretty much as surprised as we are to our predicament.

But we are booked.

It will just cost us $300.

I call Sandals Antigua. I get forwarded to what think was the front desk. This happened this morning too. And nobody picked up. This time nobody picked up.

So I call back. Last I called back I got into a debate which almost certainly sparked our odd booking.

This time I am almost certain someone hung up on me.

So I called the 800 number and got angry with one person and then the next and then a supervisor. At one point I was on hold for not one, not two but four Marley songs.

In the end I was told it was my fault.

All my fault.

Because in June and I think April I got emails that notified me of my schedule change. Apparently without calling them - and I kid you not - they aren't even aware it is happening.

Tip to Sandals: if you are going to send a blind email that will require me to say use a time machine to keep my schedule ... IT SHOULD SAY TIME MACHINE IN THE SUBJECT. That will get my attention.

But what if I had changed emails.

Or as The Girl pointed out - I was blind.

So far today I've disappointed, left on hold, left to a ringing phone, hung up on and ultimately blamed. A fine statement to the true nature of Sandals.

The highest name at Sandals I got was Yoni Epstein. Yoni: your service sucks. This entire setup sucks. And to pay what we have paid Sandals over two holidays and to be treated to and blamed for a $300 scenario is dangerously stupid.

I build software for a living, Yoni Epstein, and I can tell you were I truly responsible for this situation I would have been fired.

And anyone who thinks "blame the customer" is sound policy should be as well.

I haven't even made it to the resort and I can tell you we will never ever do Sandals again. And we don't recommend it to anyone else.

The Girl is opting to pay Liat and just get to beach drinks sooner. I'm inclined to agree as they are probably our best remedy for now.

Sent from my iPhoneIn San Juan

Also, Sandals Sucks Part Two!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Island Bound

So we're packing up and gathering a wealth of entertainment so that we don't go on insane on the long flight to Antigua. This is the follow up to the Honeymoonicane from last year, so we're getting a pretty cheap trip out of the deal.

A bit of housekeeping before I head out:

Apple drops the NDA. Thank god. This was far too wide of a net to protect some of their software patents which was becoming more and more of a detriment to development in general as more developers jumped into the pool.

Nintendo DSi. Sounds good. Might be tempted to pick one up, I never did get a Lite and the one drawback from the model, the lack of a GBA port, isn't an issue since I still have the original DS. On the flipside - I have an iPhone and the camera, web browser and music player simply aren't a draw. The new memory and downloadable content, though, could be a big one.

Hopefully I'll be able to talk a bit more about Dead Space when I get back. I have some questions about No Known Survivors's creation. If you haven't checked it out yet, check it out. There's apparently a $5 coupon at the EA Store for you when you register - and also the grand prize winner is due the Ultra Limited Edition of the game and now a replica of Issac Clarke’s Helmet as well.

The VP debate just ended. A lot of the talking heads are scoring points for Palin. Fine, she didn't make an ass out of herself, but she's still a religious fanatic who couldn't bring herself to admit that global warming isn't man made.

So I'm out for about seven days. I'll have very little access to nearly any kind of modern communcation.

But there will be plenty of snorkeling.

Game Play: Pure

I got a chance to sit down with Pure for a while, toss together an ATV rig and jump into a few races. Pure aims to bring trick ATV racing to the console and the bottom line is that the game hits all the cylinders quite well.

I want to compare it to WipEout HD, which I downloaded and also briefly got a chance to toy with - but that doesn't seem fair. WipEout is trance music, whereas Pure is grunge rock. Pure holds its own by doing something I really hope more racing games try - push the genre by changing the mechanics somewhat. Pure's trick setup isn't just a cosmetic change, but the way you can gather enough boost to nitro your way past your opponents. The tricks need to be properly timed and considered as you come over that hill and "pump the jump" to gather more air - otherwise it's easy to get too tricky and end up flying off your ride.

Graphically the game is pretty dreamy as well. The tracks are full of debris, buildings, backgrounds, the occasional helicopter - with visual cues to look out for alternate routes and hills as well. Frame rates were smooth and the sense of speed was well stocked.

I don't have much to critique on the game. I'm not entirely crazy about the rig garage ... it might almost be too detailed for what seems like just another ATV when you're done - but that feels like a squabble and I'd rather have the garage in it's current state than many other alternatives.

Solid recommendation.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jeff Freeman, Rest In Peace

I noticed an uptick in traffic to Cathode Tan about Jeff Freeman, who I interviewed a while back when I was tracking down parents who were gamers and/or game designers to get their opinions on children and gaming. He gave me one of the most positive perspectives on the matter - that gaming was an activity he enjoyed with his children and something that brought him closer.

Jeff was old school, and he was real and I enjoyed immensely corresponding with him. Seriously a high note in blogging.

Sadly the uptick has a tragic reason: he has passed. According to the obituary, he took his own life on Sept. 24th.

I am shocked and saddened. I know he was greatly respected among others in the MMO community. My condolences to his family on what is simply a horrible loss.

David Foster Wallace On McCain

In 2000, Dave had written a piece on McCain and left several wondering what he would have thought of him now. Salon tracked down a quote from the Wall Street Journal just last May:

"McCain himself has obviously changed; his flipperoos and weaselings on Roe v. Wade, campaign finance, the toxicity of lobbyists, Iraq timetables, etc. are just some of what make him a less interesting, more depressing political figure now—for me, at least. It's all understandable, of course—he's the GOP nominee now, not an insurgent maverick. Understandable, but depressing."

I can't agree more - and that was in May ... before McCain chose Palin as his running mate - a woman who couldn't epitomize more his now desperate ability to throw away earlier ideals for a bump in polls. McCain has proven himself a Bush style opportunist who is willing to go negative (which in 2000 he fought against), play politics with national issues and select a running mate who works against values he supposedly supported in the past. His maverick status is lost on me now - the man simply wants to win. Moderates who are seriously considering voting for the man need to check their scorecards.