October 29, 2006

Blade Runner documentary

Excellent Blade Runner documentary on Google Video of all places.

Fascinating, well-made, delivers all the goods including a scene never shown before.

If you're a fan of this movie, this documentary is worth it.

Posted by brian at 08:52 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2006

This call may be blogged for quality assurance purposes

Time, 16:15.

I call 1-800-310-2355.

AT&T recorded man's voice: Welcome to AT&T Customer Service.

AT&T recorded woman's voice: Para continuar en espanol, oprima el uno.


AT&T recorded man's voice: The AT&T family of companies may have lower prices and special offers available exclusively online. Visit A T T dot com for details.


I'm here to get you to the right place. To get started, I need to get your phone number. The number I got for you from Caller ID is: 8-5-8-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x. Is that the number you're calling about today?


AT&T: Sorry, I can't tell whether you said yes or no. To hear that number again, say, repeat that.


AT&T: Sorry, I still can't tell whether you said yes or no. When you called, I collected the number 8-5-8-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x from Caller ID. Is this the account you're calling about?

What you need to understand is that the number AT&T claims it obtained via Caller ID is not the number I was calling from. This made me wonder all kinds of things. Like, whose number does AT&T think I'm calling from, and why does it think I'm calling from that number? I mean, what broke? What bug in the AT&T infrastructure caused it to make such a fundamental mistake? And, how often, I wonder, when I call people, does Caller ID issue the wrong number out to people I'm calling?

This is what I was thinking, and wanting to ask. But I was dealing with a voicebot, probably a TellMe[tm] brand of voicebot. So I decided to mess with its head and see where it would go. I pressed # again.


AT&T: So that I can direct you to the right place, I need the phone number you're calling about. When you called into this system, I collected the phone number you're calling from in Caller ID. Is this the phone number account you're––


AT&T: Okay. In a few words, I need to know why you're calling today. You can say things like, "I'd like to pay my bill!" or "I want new phone service!". So. Go ahead. Tell me the purpose of your call.


AT&T: Sorry, I didn't catch that. Tell me why you're calling today in a few words, like, "I need to move my phone service." Okay. Go ahead!


AT&T: Let's try this another way. I'll list your four options, simply choose the best one. If you're calling about your bill, your account balance, say, "billing" or press 1. To add, change, or cancel services, say ––


AT&T: So that I can send your call to the best place, I need to know the general reason for your call. For any questions about your bill, or billing concerns, or, if you'd like to make a payment, or get other––


AT&T: If you're calling about your bill, your account balance, or payments, say, "billing", or press 1.

. . .


AT&T: Is that correct? Say yes or no


AT&T: Please say yes or no


AT&T: I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Please say the word yes or no.



AT&T: Okay. What can we do for you today? Please tell us the nature of your call.


AT&T: I'm sorry, I did not understand.


AT&T: I'm sorry---


AT&T: I'm––


AT&T: I still don't know what--


AT&T: I still--



AT&T: Okay, can you tell me why you're calling--


AT&T: Okay . . . is this . . . a business call?


(long pause)

AT&T: [in a rather dejected tone] I'm sorry I'm having so much trouble.

(real long pause)

Time: around 16:20

AT&T woman's recorded voice: For quality assurance your call may be monitored or recorded. If you do not wish to be monitored or recorded, please inform your AT&T customer service representative.

[Begin cheesy muzak featuring corporate perky piano lite pop elevator Late 70s or maybe early 80s ABC After School Special style with the occasional Kenny G saxophone treatment added in]

AT&T woman's recorded voice: All customer service people are busy.

[Muzak continues]

AT&T woman's recorded voice: Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is very important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.

[Muzak continues]

AT&T human: Hello, this is [insert random name of tired, wanna-go-home AT&T employee, or outsourced telecenter cubedweller working on behalf of AT&T], how can I help you?

Me: I'm calling to check on the status of the phone line I ordered for my business. I ordered it a few days ago via the AT&T or SBC website, and it is not clear whether the order went through. First of all, the website sent an order confirmation email to me stating that the unit cost of adding a single business line was zero dollars and zero cents, and that the total price of the order was also zero dollars and zero cents. Somehow I don't think that's the case.

AT&T human: Heh heh heh. Probably not.

Me: Well the main thing is, I'd like to know if this order actually went through or not, and when we can expect a phone person to show up and install the phone line.

AT&T human: Let me look you up in our records.

(long pause) AT&T human: Sorry, our system is really slow right now. It's been slow all day.

(long pause)

Don't know what's wrong

One moment

Have you noticed how customer service representatives everywhere, no matter whether it's a telephone company, a car rental company, a hotel reservation desk, an airline rep, no matter what, is always talking about how slow their systems are? Did everyone switch over to web-based interfaces or something?

(5 minutes of silence)

AT&T human: Ok what I am going to do for you is transfer you over to one of our senior specialists. Due to the nature of your order we cannot check on the details of your order, we need to have you call another department.

Me: B-but, I'm only ordering a phone line, nothing fancy.

AT&T human: Let me transfer you over to one of our senior specialists who can check on that. And if we get disconnected, lemme give you the number to call: 1-800-310-2355.

Nooooooooooooooooooo! Wait! That's the number I called in the first place! Waaaaaaaaiiiiiitttttt!

[click] [silence] [cheesy muzak] AT&T woman's voice with mildly-Texas accent: Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is very important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.

Time: 16:25.

[cheesy perky muzak continues]

AT&T woman again: Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is very important to us. A representative will be with you shortly.

[back to cheesy muzak]

Time: 16:26.

A pattern emerges. 59 seconds of muzak. Then the recorded voice. Then back to the muzak. Minutes go by.

Time: 16:39

[Still listening to cheesy muzak and then being told how my call is very important to them.]

At this point I hang up. And call 1-800-310-2355 all over again.

Time: 16:40.

AT&T recording: Welcome to AT&T Customer Service. Para Espanol omprima etc etc etc.


Okay. In a few words I need to know why you're calling today. You can say--


AT&T: One moment while I connect you . . .

[pause] For quality assurance your call me be monitored or recorded. If you do not wish . . .

How can things get so bad, I wonder.

Posted by brian at 12:48 PM

October 14, 2006

Who is Dave Matthews?

Kottke recently linked to a blogger named Rachael who asked, "Who is Bob Dylan?" Seriously, Rachael apparently doesn't know who he is. Reading the comments following her blog post is a hoot on multiple levels. But the bottom line remains: someone who's never heard of BOB DYLAN!?

But then, I was reading Lefsetz today. I love it when he does box office reports, complete with snarky schadenfreude (for instance, here's his four-word comment on "Gigantour," featuring Megadeth, Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Smashup, Sanctity, Into Eternity, and Overkill, all of whom sold only 1899 tickets out of a 10322 capacity in Uniondale, NY: "obviously not that gigantic"). Sure, too often he slips into oh-it-wasn't-like-this-in-the-SEVENTIES mode, but he's still worth reading.

Anyway, one of the shows Lefsetz reported on was the Dave Matthews Band, which recently sold out two nights in Charlottesville, VA, and is, he says, the "biggest road band in America".

And I thought, I don't own a single Dave Matthews Band album, and I know absolutely nothing about his music, his history, who's in the band (I assume there's a Dave Matthews), or whether I'd like his music. I wouldn't even know where to begin (well, besides AMG).

And I realized that on Eventful right now, of the 50 hottest performers for whom people are demanding events, I've only heard of, let's see . . . . four, yes, only four (4) of them.

So I'm gonna cut Rachael some slack.

And I'm looking for suggestions on where to begin with Dave Matthews (not that he's even comparable with Dylan, but...)

Posted by brian at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

October 01, 2006

Wait, let me see if I got this right

You're saying that the Bush Administration was warned about bin Laden two months before 9/11, and then again in the presidential daily briefing one month before 9/11, but they did nothing, or chose to do nothing, and you're saying that Habeas Corpus has just been eliminated with some crazy back-dating legislation designed to protect the Administration from War Crimes trials should the Democrats get enough votes in the midterm elections to gain enough seats in Congress to be able to hold hearings and expose all the crap the Bush Administration has been up to since Bush was inaugurated in January 2001, at which time, by the way, he told the American people, indeed, he declared to the world, that he solemnly swore to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" but has done just the opposite since that time, and wait, you're saying that the White House's own website search tool yields 758 results containing the phrase "protect the American people" but that there is only a single, as in one, as in uno, search result at the White House's website for the phrase "protect the Constitution" and it isn't from any important government report or document and it is not from a quote from Bush or other Administration bigwig but rather is a comment from one Rachael Brand, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, who participated in the "Ask the White House" Q&A session in March 2006, where she says "we take seriously our oath to protect the constitution" in the same sentence she proudly touts the anti-Constitutional USA PATRIOT Act's renewal by Congress, and wait, you're saying that the entire Iraq war is a sham, planned for years by the perps at Project for the New American Century, and that the Bush Administration has been lying about the reasons for this stupid, utterly wrong, and unbelievably expensive war since the beginning, and wait, you're saying that companies friendly to the Bush Administration are experiencing record profits, many directly as a result of the Iraq war, and you're saying that if when Republicans say something, they're projecting and if what they say is a verbal attack, it should be interpreted as an attack on themselves, and that they and the talk-radio flaks on their payroll use this technique day in and day out as a kind of Jedi mind trick and that instead of the media calling them on it day in and day out, the media is fooled by it, or chooses to accept it, day in and day out because the media has sold out to the Republicans, and wait, you're saying that the Republicans are now pushing a bill that would create a loophole in the First Amendment of the Constitution that keeps church and state separate, so that they could make it easier for the establishment of, well, let's face it, a state church, and wait, you're saying that there are Republican members of Congress who say one thing but do the exact opposite, like, tout "family values" over and over again but prove over and over again through their actions which they try desperately to hide but once in a while get found out, that they wouldn't know a family value if it hit them over the head, and wait, you're saying that if it's a war on drugs, why aren't tobacco and alcohol also targets of that war because after all, they are drugs too, so like, either ban the whole lot of them, or legalize the whole lot of them, but to do anything in between is hypocritical, and wait, you're saying that GM killed its electric car program and even went so far as to destroy thousands of electric cars it had leased to customers, and then pushed to get Congress to enact laws that would make it possible to get a tax deduction on Hummers precisely because they're hulking gas-guzzling trucks, and wait, you're saying the heads of the two companies that make almost all the election voting machines in the U.S. are run by loyal Republicans and that there are myriad irregularities in the past two elections in states across the country, and that these same companies make other devices such as ATMs and Vegas slot machines and that those devices undergo rigorous security checks, tests, and verifications, but the voting machines for some strange reason lack any such safeguards from fraud, and wait, you're saying that the United States is experiencing the most dangerous media consolidation in its history, preventing there being a broadly-informed public, and causing instead there to be a widely-ignorant public served daily with inane "reality" programs that are the furthest thing from reality, and wait, you're saying that the Bush Administration is counting the American public to believe in fear, and that only Bush can protect the people, and that they're claiming that any effort to rid the country of the stranglehold that the Republicans have not only on the three branches of government but on the very Constitution itself should be perceived as unpatriotic, and wait, you're saying that gas prices are conveniently coming down just before one of the most critical elections in U.S. history, at a time when more and more people are beginning to wake up and smell what the Republicans have been shoveling at the American public for decades, and wait, you're saying that the Bush Administration is wiretapping American citizens without any warrant or court order, and imprisoning thousands of people worldwide in secret prisons without any legal representation, due process, or the slightest semblance of justice, and at the same time, pushing for the "reinterpretation" of the Geneva Conventions and the promotion of torture, and wait, you're saying that the Bush Administration puts pro-business, anti-environment people in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency and has done little to actually protect the environment, and wait, you're saying that the Bush Administration is anti-science because to accept factual data and measurements from direct observation would rattle the faith-based electoral base who continue to ignorantly believe the president is a "good man", and that there is widespread corruption inside the Bush Administration regarding the scientific advisory process, and that any fact or finding that might conflict with or otherwise jeopardize the Bush Administration's real motives must be hidden, falsified, or otherwise ignored so that they can "stay the course"?

Is that what you said?

So, like, if even one fortieth of that is true, and I suspect more than one fortieth of that is true, then why would anyone with at least one functioning neuron in their brain even consider actually voting for a single Republican candidate or Republican-pushed initiative in November?

Posted by brian at 10:35 AM | Comments (3)
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