Gonzo blogging from the Annie Leibovitz of the software development world.

Author: Bil (Page 1 of 182)

The Model Kit Journey Begins

In the last few weeks I’ve been longing to return to model building. You know those plastic kits you get with all the parts attached to a tree that you would break off, glue together, paint, and feel a sense of accomplishment looking over your completed car, truck, or airplane.

I haven’t built a kit for over 35 years but I have looked at them on the shelves whenever I pass them by. I finally took the plunge last week buying a few kits privately and some supplies to get started, again.

One of the first kits I’m starting is one of my favourites from my youth, Rodan (okay, my fav was Godzilla but you can’t be picky these days as this stuff is hard to come by). These were from a line of kits sold by Aurora in the 70s. The kits were reboxed by Polar Lights and sold in the 2000s.

I never built this monster when I was a kid, so yeah, technically this wasn’t my favourite. I remember building a Godzilla (several times) and maybe seeing Ghidorah (the three headed monster) but don’t remember seeing this one. However the Aurora models were just insane and fun. Also something I remember building were the AMT Gigantic series where it was a giant scorpion and tarantula rampaging a small diorama. Have to hunt those down.

On my last outing buying a bunch of models to get back into the swing of things, I picked up a copy of The Incredible Hulk (the Polar LIghts re-issue). Hulk looks great and the box was sealed so can’t wait to crack this guy open.

As I was paying him for the Hulk we were talking about models and he mentioned he had a lot of them and he was willing to sell them too. As he pulled back a cloth in his garage, I noticed he had a Rodan and a Godzilla. Sadly the Godzilla was already assembled but the Rodan wasn’t. Score!

So thus begins another start at building models. Now that I’m an old fart I have some better sense about how to build and paint these things. When I was a kid I would just twist parts off the tree and paint the model at the end.

Armed with a little bit of knowledge now, more patience, and some tools of the trade I think I’m ready to return. More to come…

Customer Service or Customer fail?

Bought a copy of SketchBook Pro from Autodesk a week ago. I’m very happy with the software (and even bough the version on the iPad as well).

I did not realize there was a new version coming out (version 6) to replace the 5.5 version (there was no pre-announcement on the website, it was just released and announced). I see the announcement for version 6 so figure well, since we bought it a week ago we should just be able to upgrade.

Nope.

Have to pay $30 for the upgrade (the software is $60 so 50% for a new version which is okay for a major upgrade I suppose). Talking to the Twitter *customer care* account, they tell me that rather than giving me a free upgrade or key for the new version (which seems like a simple solution) I should return the software for a full refund then purchase the new v6 product instead.

Wait, what?

I just bought the 5.5 version a week ago. Now I have to go through the process to get a refund *then* turn around and buy the 6.0 version.

Looking over the website the minimum steps I’m going to have to do is:

  1. Submit a request for a refund by contacting support through a form (or if I want to call overseas, no thanks)
  2. Wait for a LOD (letter of destruction) to be emailed to me
  3. Follow the instructions in the letter (not really sure what this entails but I assume “delete all copies of the software” or something like that)
  4. Submit the letter back to them (yeah, really)
  5. Wait for someone to validate my submission
  6. Once validated they begin the process of crediting my purchase (which takes about 3-5 days)

At that point once I get my refund I can turn around and buy version 6 of the software. For the *exact* same price as I paid for the previous version.

This is a seriously broken customer service model IMHO. They have a 30 day return policy so why not a 30 day upgrade policy? I guess since they don’t have it and a company as big as Autodesk this isn’t something that is easy to implement, I’m screwed and have to go through the process of all this to get my refund to rebuy the new version of the software. Why can’t they just give me a key for version 6 to plug in and they can work out the logistics of the upgrade?

Am I being picky here or am I justified in expecting that I should be able to get the upgrade for free (without the nonsense of returning and re-buying the software). While I understand they might not have the facilities in place to support this model, it’s pretty common in the software industry. So maybe they should consider supporting it? Or supporting their customers and not making them jump through hoops. The twitter responses from the customer “care” account are all very generic. “Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback… blah blah blah”.

Not a happy customer right now but don’t think I have much choice.

P.S. Need to start the process now because if step 5 isn’t done within the 30 days (not step 1) you’re screwed.

Sigh.

Update: The chap running the @AutodeskCare Twitter account (where it’s manned 24 hours by people) came through and provided the upgrade without all the red tape. I’m glad it’s resolved and happy that they’re looking to improve their process as a result of it so others might not fall into this trap. I’ll post a follow up on this shortly. Good job Autodesk!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Michael Bay is going to do a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake. Of course the cast isn’t known but here’s the choices that would make it an obvious hit.

Leonardo

Michael Cera because DiCaprio wasn't available

Rapheal

Andy Samberg for comic relief

Michaelangelo

Jesse Eisenberg works for me.

Donnatello

Like you would have a Michael Bay movie without Danny Trejo

Splinter

Bruce Willis, all seeing, all knowing although John Carradine might be a better choice.

April O’Neil

Scarlett Johansson, not Tara Reid

Shredder

Chuck Norris. Why not?

Bebop and Rocksteady

Steven Segal. Does it really matter which one he is?

Jean-Claude Van Damme because he missed out on The Expendables

Other cast members? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list and send it to Mr. Bay’s casting director.

Glamping 2009 – Day 6 – The Long Trip Home

Heading home after vacation is always a chore and a task, and a pleasant relief.

Found DVDs! Days ago we went hunting for V’s DVD collection. We brought it with us to keep her occupied. After all what do you do with a two year old in a car for 12 hours? The set included about a dozen Signing Time DVDs, The Wiggles, a couple of Baby Einstein, and a brand new Winnie the Pooh – Friendship Edition that I bought days ago (as a replacement for her other copy which is worn out now).

Panic sunk in as we thought we lost them. I mean, it’s about $2000 to replace all these DVDs and it’s not something you want to lose (especially after potentially losing my Flip video camera). However as we were travelling home today they magically showed up!

The lost DVDs from the last few days were found courtesy of Mike. I seriously tore that cab apart trying to find them. Then Jenn did. Then her mother. Jenn’s mother who could find virginity at a co-ed dorm couldn’t find the DVD case. All it took was a 16 year old who wasn’t feeling very well to sit in the front seat and say “Are these them?”. Nice.

For dinner it was pizza delivered right to the hotel door. I think the notion of going out for dinner passed in our minds, but passed so quickly that by the time Jenn was paying for the meal, it was just an afterthought. By the way, has anyone noticed how quickly an entire pizza can be consumed by a single 16 year old? I don’t recall being 16 (I think I traded that part of my memory in for a software upgrade) but I swear the only time I could engulf an entire pizza myself was when I was drunk and stupid at the ripe old age of 22. Of course immediately after gobbling down the pasta treat, it came back up (along with the 6 pack I shot gunned).

Kids.

Glamping 2009

Looks like the first photo of this trip doesn’t it? Nope. It was taken about 120 hours later. I guess things never change.

You can view the entire Flickr set for this trip here.

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