Wachovia building imploded with controlled demolition one block from my home!

This morning at around 8:15am the old Wachovia Building on 615 Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia USA was imploded using controlled demolition techniques. This was filmed from North Avenue just east of Piedmont Road. Check it out!


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Often, Big Companies Suck when compared to Smaller Ones

I have a new employee starting on Friday and needed a new computer. Generally I like to buy from Dell because they keep all system info online for future retrieval. So yesterday (Monday, June 21st, 2004) I went online to Dell’s Outlet and selected a pre-built system and requested it to be shipped Fedex Saver (3 day) on my account. (I know, I always do things at the "last minute", but that’s because prior to the last minute, something else is always urgent!) So if it shipped on Tueday it would arrive Friday, no problem (the new employee is technical and will be tasked with setting up their own machine.)

Well, I go online to make sure it shipped, and notice it is "in process" with an estimated ship date of July 8th, 2004 (13 days after I need it)!!! I left an email message just now, but my expectations they will expedite it are less than 1%, and I’ll probably have to cancel the order and find something else locally.

What reminded me to check the shipping status was an email from NewEgg, which is where I placed an order after placing my Dell order for a really nice monitor to go with the new system I ordered from Dell. Contrary to Dell, NewEgg emailed me a shipping confirmation with my Fedex tracking number showing that my order will arrive tomorrow, a day early!  I selected NewEgg partly because they had a really good price, but primarily because their CNET rating was very high, and boy did they prove why!

This whole experience reminds me of a similar one about two months ago when I decided to buy a digital camcorder. After searching CNET for the best combination of price and rating I settled on buying from PCandPlasma (has anyone ever noticed how ALL online and mail-order camera stores are located in New York City? But I digress…)

After getting the annoying but ubiquitous (from a New York City online retailer) phone call saying they need to talk to me before shipping my order, and then attempting to hard-upsell me on cheap yet expensively-priced tchotchkes (which didn’t upset me as I went shopping for a low price, and the low price stores all do it), I stressed to the sales rep at PCandPlasma that my order absolutely had to arrive within three days.

I got everything within two days.

But PCandPlasma didn’t have everything I needed in stock so I went over to SonyStyle.com to pick of the remaining items, most importantly a tripod. I placed the order online, and then checked it the next day.

It hadn’t shipped.

I called, and found that their staff really couldn’t tell me exactly when it would ship because had different warehouses and couldn’t easily tell what was where. Sony’s customer support rep told me she thought it would arrive in time, and that she would call me back to confirm (to her credit she was very nice, but she also didn’t call back.)

I needed on Friday as I was planning to travel on Sunday. Guess what? It didn’t arrive on Friday. I checked online and it hadn’t even shipped. So I emailed and requested the order be cancelled (I didn’t call because the prior call took 45 minutes on hold to speak to someone.)

As an aside and not directly related to the core theme of this post, on the next day, Saturday, I went to local Wolf Camera to pick up the needed tripod. (Unfortunately the saleman there didn’t think to upsell me to a tripod with fluid head for video, even though I asked if the one I selected was okay for video. Who was I to know at the time what I really needed? I didn’t learn that until during and after the trip! Funny thing was he was on commission and the tripod I ended up getting from another salesman was $180 instead of the $30 I bought from him. Duh!)

When I got back from my trip, I found that my Sony order has been delivered on Wednesday. Not only had there not been any chance of getting it by the prior Friday, they didn’t even pay attention to my request to cancel! So I had to then go to the trouble and expense of sending it back (to be fair the accepted the RMA with no hassle though I wonder if PCandPlasma. But then I’m only conjecturing because of the hard-upsell.)

So the bottom line is this: If you want and/or need fast service, forget the big guys. They are either too big with disjoint processes that can’t serve you well if they try, or they are simply too big to care. Go with the small scrappy companies for whom your business is their lifeblood. They are the ones who will bend over backwards to make sure you get what you need, when you need it.

Off to Microsoft TechEd San Diego 2004

Well, I’m off tomorrow morning to San Diego for Microsoft TechEd San Diego  May 2004 tomorrow to meet with some vendors and partners, and to say hello to old friends and new. San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world, so I’m sure I’ll have a great time just being there.  However, I doubt I’ll have the time or energy to update my blog while I’m there (I’ll be a Mission Beach instead….I wish!)

Also, I’d love to meet any .NET bloggers who will be at the show.  If you get this and will be at the show, track me down on my cell phone at (redacted ;-).  I’m taking my video camera with me, so I’m looking to use up some film on some good stories. :-)

FREE VB.NET 2003 Standard Edition

Paul Vick posted about VB @ The Movies. Check it out as Microsoft is giving away a free not-for-resale copy of Visual Basic .NET 2003 Standard Edition to anyone in the USA or Canada who views and rates five of their movies.  This is very, very cool. Pass it on to anyone you’d like to get started programming in VB, like a student you know. (I just wish MS decided to offer VB.NET standard for free download moving forward so students and others wouldn’t have any financial reason to avoid VB or .NET)


Offer good thru September 30th 2004 so hurry.

Video Interview about the “My” Classes

As I just posted, I was inspired by Channel 9’s video interviews so decided to get a digital camcorder to film interviews with our vendors about their products for posting on Xtras.Net.  However, when I get the opportunity I’ll interview anyone related to the .NET development and post those interviews on my blog.

Case in point, one of my first interviews was with Joe Binder, the program manager at Microsoft for the “My” classes in VB 2005 that I blogged about a few days ago. Anyone familar with Channel9 will note that I learned a lot from studying their HTML and Javascript! :)

Without further ado, here’s Joe (video is just short of 10 minutes long):

Well…..I thought I was going to be able to post it INLINE, but after many hours of trying, a combination of dasBlog and Javascript conspired to keep me from it.  Anytime I tried to post anything to dasBlog, it would strip required syntax from my JavaScript.  I tried updating the underlying XML files, but it wouldn’t recognize it (actually it did for a while, but then it stopped.)  The other problem was Javascript wasn’t recognizing a DIV tag as an offsetParent and hence the Javascript I so carefully scarfed failed!

Grrrrr!!!  Sometimes I really hate programming!

If anyone knows how to help me debug either the dasBlog problem or the Javascript issue, it will be *greatly* apreciated.

Anywho, rather than providing inline, there is a hyperlink to the video here.

Inspired by Channel9

Back at the beginning of last month Microsoft launched Channel 9, and I was completely inspired by their video interviews.  Being a “database“ guy, I’ve never really gotten excited about things like graphics, imaging, charting, etc. and that included video.  That was until I saw Channel9 and thought “Wow, these videos are really cool!  We could do the similar interviews with our vendors talking about their products!

It actually reminded me of a DevDays several years back when a Microsoft exec whose name I can’t exactly remember (maybe it was David Vascovitz; does that sound familiar to anyone?) told a story about how his mother never understood his job nor did she appreciate computers one iota.  That was until he brought home his laptop containing digital pictures of his mother’s grandkids!  After that, she demanded he get her a computer!  You can see absolutely no value in something until one day — bam — you find out it can do something cool for you and then you want one!

So anyway, I scouted for a digital camcorder and selected a Sony DCR-TRV950 and took a trip down to the Visual Studio Connections conference in Orlando, FL last month.  While there I wasn’t able to film any of my vendors (only one was exhibiting, and I think I caught him off guard or he was too shy to get in front of the camera!), but I did get a chance to interview several other interesting people in some “practice“ runs.  I’m about to post one of them next, and when I have a chance to edit and produce a few more, I’ll post them as well.


D-I-Y Steadycam

I noticed Richard S. Tallent, II referenced a do-it-yourself steadcam project by Johnny Chung Lee of Carnegie Melon University, which was ironic for me as I went looking at digital camcorders today.  At first I thought Johnny was making a joke, but after reading the page it looks real (great video clips shown using it.)

Maybe the guys at Channel 9 will make one and add to their arsenal!

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