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

Category: Blog (Page 1 of 17)

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.


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.


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.


Michael Cera because DiCaprio wasn't available


Andy Samberg for comic relief


Jesse Eisenberg works for me.


Like you would have a Michael Bay movie without Danny Trejo


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

April O’Neil

Scarlett Johansson, not Tara Reid


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.

Personal Blog Reboot Version 8.1

No, this isn't me. Not yet anyways.Meanwhile, back at the farm…

Back again after several. No wait, many. No, that’s not right. Countless. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, here I am with my personal blog after countless re-starts. My technical blog, Fear and Loathing, is humming along swimmingly. Posts come once a week or two as they usually take me a few hours to put together (screen shots, sometimes I even have to write code for them). However this is my space. For me. To vent. To bitch. To complain. To generally get peeved at the world and wonder why are we here and what’s life all about?

Welcome to my personal blog. A place where I can stand up on my vanity soapbox and tell the world what’s wrong with it (or what’s wrong with me, which will be more likely the case). Like everyone, I need a place to vent and blow off steam and I need to keep the Evil Bil side of things living here and somewhat under control, rather than bleeding all over at Fear and Loathing (although Evil Bil does creep into posts over there too). That’s the place to learn crap (or hear me vent for entirely different reasons, mostly related to Microsoft). This is the place where Bil 2.0 hangs his hat.

My partner in crime has rebooted her personal blog as well over at Princess Prose. She’s already been doing a great job with posts and content and I’m already jealous. Of course now it’s not a race to see who has the most content but who ends up with coolest WordPress Plugins.


bilblogI am a geek, not a nerd. Let’s get that straight. I identify a difference between the two. Geeks are the guys who know stupid stuff, have blogs, work in the industry (but usually not too deep into it), and while we do tend to look at normal mundane Life 1.0 things with a twinkle in our automated eye we don’t show up to Star Trek conventions decked out in full authentic Klingon gear.

Nerds are the other guys.

These are the ones that you do see dressed up to the nines at any given convention (and sometimes just dressed up for the hell of it, like because it’s a Sunday). Nerds are the ones that work in think tanks or technical places so secret you need a retinal scan to get into the bathrooms. Nerds are the ones who have never kissed a girl (not counting virtual worlds) and their biggest life long accomplishment is a level 90 Death Mage (is there such a thing?) in World of Warcraft.

I started life in the art space then sometime in the mid 80s moved into technology. That in itself is a journey to be shared another day. I still find ways today to bridge the gaps but my artistic side has dwindled to a dim shadow of what it once was due to lack of care and feeding. Someday I will return to it. In the meantime I consider myself an amateur photographer who just like taking pics (mostly of my daughter Vista) and a guy who writes software. You can check out my pics on my Flickr page which fills up with pictures of V and other stuff as fast as humanly possible.

My day job is with technology and SharePoint (which is the general cause of my angst on my technical blog and the occasional headaches at night). I also come up with at least 1 new project idea every week and furiously create some code then shelve the idea for a long time (sometimes forever). This is my ADD shining through, although I’ve never been diagnosed with it officially, you just know it’s there. Waiting. Watching. Hoping to rear it’s ugly head and create a new folder full of ideas and then just as quickly as it appeared, it moves on. Watch for a projects page to appear here sometimes in the near future with links to all the goings on around the wub-wub-wub that I’ve created and continue to breathe life into. There’s a bunch of them and sometimes I can’t even keep track of them all.

Like I said, I’m a geek not a nerd. And damn proud of it.


BSOD anyone?This blog is now the amalgamation of several other blogs and hopefully my last stands on personal blogs. My technical blog has been going on for nearly six years now and personal content here has been migrated from the past ten. Hopefully I’ll stick to this, keep track of the data files, and not create yet-another-unmaintainable-mess of a blog. My original bilsimser.org site has posts (dating back to 1999) which have been moved here; CDX posts, a library for C++ DirectX Game Programming that I wrote a book on back in 2000 on are scattered here (mostly around the release and the book); My Sims (the EA game) posts from when I wrote a whack of tools in the early 2000’s are all here (mostly with broken links and shattered images); and a few other projects thrown in for good measure.

So there’s content here but be warned. Some of it is contextual to when it was written (and where) and there are plenty of broken or missing image links (even though the text will refer to “see image below”). Also most of the imported (all?) is not categorized. I’ll find time over the next few years to try to pull it into categories and hopefully that dismal empty excuse of a tag cloud can take some shape.

BTW, doing a quick scan there’s a lot of weird content. Weird as in “What the Hell was I drinking when I wrote it?”. Like an idea for a zombie FPS game back in 2004. And various rants about social media, SharePoint, Scrum, and other Micrsosoft technologies before they were what they are today.

Look and Feel

This is the bare bones theme for the sight and I’m good with that. I keep trying out different themes (mostly from the very awesome Free WP Themes site).I’m happy with bare bones for now but be warned. I’ll get into a mood and try out themes so objects may change as you’re viewing them. If they do, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

As with everything I do there are evolutions. I try things out, I swish things around, and land on something I like until the next best thing shows up. Jenn did craft me up a custom background for my twitter page to which I’ve received several comments on it. Maybe I’ll hunt her down to get me to build a custom theme, although this one is working for me now.

Going Forward

First Steps

They say a journey starts with the first step. This isn’t my first step and frankly I don’t even know where we’re going or what direction I’m even facing right now. All I know is this is where I am and welcome you to stroll alongside me as we discovery the universe and all it has to offer. Good, bad, and ugly.

Welcome to the desert of the real.

Wrapping up the blog

Hi guys,

Just wanted to say that I’m going to be wrapping up the blogging on this site shortly (but not the site itself). Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to blog on a regular basis so I’m just going to turn the news here into a static page. I do have a list of things that I’m going to get to someday on this site and the software here. Namely:

  • Updates to the current tools with the latest expansion packs
  • Whatever little Sims 2 capabilities I can add in (probably only to SimExplorer, not looking to build any new tools)
  • Add whatever technical specs that are not available on the Sims 1 formats that I can

I don’t have time for any Sims 2 tools, but from what I’ve seen out there, there are plenty of smart guys doing great stuff with this right now. These days my focus is now on doing some work with Microsoft products (and some public speaking at user groups and events across the country) and some new game development. I’ll still plug away at the Sims stuff as I can find time but can’t commit to any schedules or tools these days. In the meantime, enjoy what’s here and keep on Simming!

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