Monday, August 27, 2007

Get a UPS!

I love cheap uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). For the home user, they make a lot of sense. Replacing the batteries in a UPS often costs more than getting a new one on sale, so I just get a cheap one for each of my computers every year. I look for the $20-$40 deals they have at Fry's on a regular basis. My home has fairly dependable power. The outages I normally encounter are short, usually a second or two. That flash of power can be murder on my hard drives over the course of the year, however. For that reason, I go for the cheap, low capacity UPS devices. They work fine for these short bursts. If I needed the sorts of things which could keep me up and running for several minutes, and automatically shut down my machines, I'd go for something more costly, but a $20 UPS per year can save you a $100 hard drive, so I find it an investment well worth making.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Who This?

One of the most annoying things on earth for me is a result of one of the many marvelous technological innovations the market has brought us. All too often, my home phone will ring. I answer it, "Hello?"

"Uh, who this?"

Who this?! What sort of numbskull would actually call someone else and demand their identity? As we have house guests, this problem is becoming more pronounced. My normal reply is "You called my house. Who are you?" Often, even this does not cause the other party to come to their senses. "I saw this number in my caller ID." What you get in your caller ID is not my problem. That's why it's your caller ID and not mine. At this point, I hang up. I have no time for rude jerks who don't know how to introduce themselves on the phone. Are these people so deathly afraid that they may be calling someone with whom they do not wish to speak? If mafia hitmen, government agents or bill collectors are hounding your every step, here's a free hint: Don't call phone numbers you don't know.

One would think that such rudeness would be the custom of the young, perhaps my own age and younger. But no, these people are often old enough to be my mother or father, yet, apparently they have either never been taught manners, or have grown so old and senile as to have forgotten them. This habit appears to have no age boundary. It seems to me that this is a good time to start educating people by encouraging corrective behavior. When someone calls you and asks for your identity, kindly inform them that you are the homeowner and would like for them to identify themselves. If they give you the caller ID excuse, remind them that the lack of message requesting a callback is a good indicator that none is demanded. Finally, if they still persist, reward their persistence with a click and a dial tone.

I have had plenty of strange numbers show up in my caller ID. When I actually decide to call one, I always say, "Hi, this is Robert Wicks. Did someone from this number call me?" Note the conspicuous absence of "Hoodis?," which is how it is normally pronounced, like some word in a foreign language describing some quaint local custom. I introduce myself and treat them with the respect that others deserve. Is a bit of consideration too much to ask?