Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

YMCA Screws You Just Because They Can

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Ok. I have had just about enough of this:

“Please allow approximately ten (10) days for this change to take effect”

It’s the 21st century folks.  When I sign up for something, your company can instantly make a membership for me.  Instantly, you can take my payment.  You send me an email within 30 seconds.  There is no way it takes 10 days to take me off your email distribution list.   Ok, I can delete a few more emails that you’ll send this week.

But, this example takes the cake:

At the YMCA, if you want to cancel your membership, it takes THIRTY DAYS for them to cancel it!   Oh, and by the way, they will be charging you one more time for an extra month before you are removed from their system.  This is simply them screwing you because they can.  And since you are leaving, they don’t need you to be a happy customer anymore.   I guess when they say, “strengthening community is our cause”, they mean “strengthening the YMCA community by maximizing the YMCA profit.”


Written by Jack Umano

February 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Technology

Ice Cream Sandwich working well on Nexus S

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I have gotten the Ice Cream Sandwich update on my Nexus S that I use with T-Mobile.  I have had it for more than a week and it’s going very well.  Here are my main observations:

  • It’s faster – This is the main improvement.  Everything is snappier.  It responds to virtual buttons quickly and software starts up quickly.
  • It looks nice.  I didn’t have any complaints with the old Gingerbread look.  But, I like this a little more.  Also, the look is more in-line with the tablet experience (we have a Motorola Xoom Android tablet).
  • The apps that are updated for the new OS are … just that: updated.  Good thing.  I haven’t had any problems with any apps on Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Google Plus crashes a lot – This is the main drawback.  The Google Plus app doesn’t crash when I am trying to use it.  But, I often get a popup notice that “Unfortunately, Google Plus has stopped” while I’m doing something else.  I guess it was running in the background but I don’t know why it constantly needs to tell me that it has stopped.

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Written by Jack Umano

January 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Technology

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Healthcare Prices should be knowable

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This should be included next time we legislate patients rights:

It seems to me a patient has a basic right to know what the cost will be before deciding whether to receive services.

Currently, the doctor cannot tell me what something will cost before seeing them. Then, in the very next moment, they make me sign a paper saying I will be financially responsible for all charges.

They could not tell me whether examining my son for an ear ache would cost $50 or $500. They cannot tell me whether my insurance will pay for it. At that point, should I just hope that expenses will be reimbursed and risk having to pay some unknown amount? Or should I just hope that my son will probably get better and take him home without seeing the doctor? One can not make an informed decision.

The doctor cannot get pre-approval from the healthcare company.  And now the latest I have received from my health care provider is that my charges will not be reimbursed because I did not tell them I was going to the doctor.  They won’t pre-approve it.  They just wanted me to call them and tell them I was going.   And since I didn’t, they will not pay for the doctor visit.  UNBELIEVABLE.

Written by Jack Umano

December 12, 2011 at 4:57 am

Posted in Ideas, Philosophy

Web Browser attitudes Toward User Controls

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The browser makers seem to have very different attitudes toward user controls.  Here’s an example:

The Mozilla company has no interest in monetizing your user information.  So, the Firefox browser gives you a reasonably easy way to find the controls for cookies.  Just go to Tools > Options > Privacy.

But Google definitely wants to track you and profit from knowing everything about you.  Chrome puts  their cookie settings behind an unexplained “wrench” icon > Then go past “basics” and “personal stuff” (both of which would be reasonable places to find cookies’ settings) and click on the mysterious and intimidating “under the hood”.  The implication in that name is “don’t mess around with this unless you really know what you’re doing.”

Ok, now you’ve found the settings for cookies.  Let’s look at what the browser let’s you do:

The attitude I get from the Firefox browser is, “You want control of your cookies?  Great. Here’s a list of what they are.  Do what you want to each one.”   Firefox gives you a button to show the entire list of cookies.  You can see who is setting them and delete the ones you don’t like.

The Chrome attitude is, “If you have to have control of cookies, then FINE!  Here’s a button to delete all cookies.  Happy?”  There seems to be no way to view what cookies are set.  Just a “clear browsing data” button that doesn’t let you select which site’s cookies you’re deleting.  This discourages you from deleting cookies since you will lose cookies from sites that you like and want to allow cookies.

I like Chrome for a lot of things.  But, I’m going to keep using two browsers for now.

Written by Jack Umano

November 12, 2011 at 4:44 am

Posted in Technology

Nat’l Debt vs. GDP

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People have complained about the national debt for the last 30 years and longer.  But, it has never really been a problem until now.

Here is a link to a quick graph that you can easily do on Wolfram Alpha.   It is a graph of the National Debt VS. the Gross Domestic Product.  It shows why the current national debt is scarier than ever.  Even though there has been a large debt in the past, it was never anywhere close to the Gross Domestic Product.  Basically, the United States has in the past borrowed money that it was capable of paying off in relatively short order.  Now, the United States is borrowing money that it cannot pay off easily.

Check it out.  Is this an eye opener for you?  I think the United States needs to really focus on the economy and stop meddling in wars on the other side of the world.

Written by Jack Umano

October 12, 2011 at 4:22 am

Posted in Ideas

Why I’m leaving Facebook for Google+

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I submit this as one more in a string of people saying similar things.  I admit that my knowledge here is given to me by various media organizations.  But, nevertheless, it is how I feel:


Facebook started as a company that allowed people to share stuff with their friends.  They gradually changed their policies each year to make all the info that you put into it as public as possible.  They didn’t tell people they were going to do this.  They just did and gave you a complex series of settings to get back to what they originally provided.
Then, they continually opt people into “sharing” functions.  They never let you an opt-in to new functions because they don’t build the sharing stuff for you.  They build it so they can push people into sharing more.  The more people share, the more money they make.


Face book was caught hiring a PR firm to try to create bad press for other companies.  (See the article here)
FB created ways to import yahoo and gmail contacts and then made it impossible to export your contacts and impossible for you to import your contacts to gmail.  They take advantage of other companies openness and then try to lock everyone in.
I’m out.  You’ll find me on Google Plus.  Here’s my profile… Jack Umano on Google Plus

Written by Jack Umano

September 28, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Technology

Has “Best Buy” gone bad

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It used to be that Best Buy had friendly helpful salespeople.  They weren’t always the most knowledgeable but, they were non commission which seemed to make all the difference.  Unlike circuit city and frys, they weren’t pushy and condescending.

Now, I went to Best Buy to buy a Xoom tablet computer.  The salesman brought the head salesman out to lie to me.  He gave me some story about how the Xoom would not work unless I signed up with the Verizon service.  I think they were trying to get me to sign up for verizon service through them.

Then, they acted like I’m an idiot for not taking the service plan.  I understand they make money on those.  It’s fine to offer a service plan but not fine to treat me like I am not qualified to decide.

They pushed geek squad services. They wanted me to sign up right away before they rang it up.  I said I didn’t want any geek squad services and they wanted me to sign and date a piece of paper saying that I didn’t want them.  What!? I don’t have to sign and date something to NOT buy your service.

Maybe the poor customer treatment is the result of a lack of competition now that Circuit City is dead.  They are the only electronics store within 20 miles (maybe more).

Written by Jack Umano

September 16, 2011 at 2:07 am

Posted in Technology