Why can’t Microsoft do anything right?

Are you running 5-year-old Windows XP on your computer?

Microsoft just annouced the consumer release of the new operating system, dubbed Vista, is delayed until January 2007. Just to miss Christmas.

There have been no fewer than four Mac OS X releases since Windows XP was launched, and each one was a big improvement.

With all the billions in the Microsoft piggy bank, why are they so hopeless at almost everything?

mac mini

Seriously, Windows users should switch to Apple or Linux. You can buy a Mac mini for US$499 (street price).

Newsvine – When do Vista delays become disdain for the customer?

Worst American airline?

graphThe big American airlines are likely doomed to extinction. It may be impossible to run a full-service national airline in the USA.

I flew American Airlines recently and concur that their service is crappy. American flys more unhappy passengers than anyone else.

Most annoyingly, American (and most airlines) are adding unexpected fees to delay the inevitable bankruptcy.

Baggage restrictions have been tightened supposedly because of fuel savings if we take less luggage.

Really?

On American you can take 2 bags each weighing up to 50lbs. If you check only 1 bag weighing 55lbs they immediately want you to pay a surcharge. If you resist in anyway (fuss with the bag for a minute) they give up on the extra fee. This scenario happened to me on all 3 AA flights.

Airlines ignore their luggage rules as they ignore their carry-on limits. It’s just another way to get you to pony up more cash.

I have little respect for big airlines. The sooner they are displaced by leaner upstarts, the better.

With so many big airlines suffering, will you? – Sep. 15, 2005

enticing third world youth to smoke

angry guyTravelling through South and Central America in 2005 I often saw fresh-faced, attractive, very young people handing out free cigarettes. In Guatemala I even saw free cigarettes available on the counters of convenience stores.

smoking

Be sure you do not own any stock in tobacco companies.


Big Tobacco Is Accused of Crossing an Age Line
By GREG WINTER, NY Times, 2001

Sara Bogdani had just turned 17 last summer when she slipped into a short skirt and started working as a Marlboro girl.

While the rest of her high school friends spent their vacation laboring in
restaurants or lounging at home, Sara donned a red hat, a T-shirt with a
cowboy on the back and a knapsack full of Marlboros and other Philip
Morris cigarettes.

Then she hit the streets of Tirana, the capital of Albania and her
hometown, offering a smile and a free pack to anyone who professed a love
of smoking and looked, well, almost as old as she was.

“As long as they weren’t 14 or something, it was O.K.,” Sara said in a
telephone interview, noting that a co-worker was also 17. As for her
bosses, “they were just glad if you gave out all the cigarettes,” said
Sara, who now works with an antismoking group.

Just as it is in the United States, giving cigarettes to teenagers is
illegal in many countries, including Albania, where Marlboro girls stroll
the streets. But while the practice has all but disappeared from American
cities, it goes on with striking regularity in many developing nations,
and Philip Morris is far from the only tobacco company that the World
Health Organization has accused of crossing the line in trying to entice
those underage with free cigarettes. …

Enticing Third World Youth; Big Tobacco Is Accused Of Crossing an Age Line – Free Preview – The New York Times

travelogue – Mexico is a crappy country

Rick\'s mugWhen I say crappy, I mean crappy for ME — a gringo traveller.

This phrase — Mexico is a crappy country — started to ring true after I was overcharged US$20 by an otherwise lovely hotel manager. Then duped by an otherwise friendly taxi driver into taking 2 cabs instead of the one large vehicle I had requested.

Now I write this after spending 4-days on a pristine island paradise here. This land has great potential. But it is woefully underdeveloped for the most part. It is astonishing how far it lags behind big neighbour, the USA.

Seems to me Mexico has most of the worst attributes of the first and the third worlds. It’s expensive — but there is no recourse available to the customer when wronged. (Except to blog the culprits.)

A (bad) muffin cost more here than in Canada — and the bakery salesgirl systematically shortchanges you. Yeesh.

Wages are perhaps 15% of those in Canada. Yet prices are the same for most things. Where is the money going? Not to pay Mexican taxes, that’s certain.

A woman I met on a kayak tour was suffering buyer’s remorse. She recently retired. Her husband died last year. The sharks met her arriving at the Cabo airport. She bought an expensive condo from that first salesman.

In Mexico you are vulnerable if you are recently arrived, elderly, if you don’t speak Spanish.

It ticks me off.

I’m one of the few who feels that the best thing happening in Mexico is the inevitable domination of McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Applebee’s and the ilk. Efficient companies with fixed prices & quality control.

Mexico is a crappy country for the long-term traveller.

I wish I was in Laos.

Next travelogue on this trip >> Island of Women

warning – Mexican Dental Vacation

Many travel to Mexico to get dental work done. They walk around reeking faintly of clove.

I had fillings done a number of years ago, very happy with the cost as is almost every tourist getting work done here.

This time my needs were more complex: root canals, post, crowns.

There are now so many dentists in Mazatlán catering to gringo teeth that I had trouble deciding which to visit. The Inn at Mazatlán concierge recommended English speaking Dr. Gilberto Cardenas Saucedo.

He did 2 root canals over 3 appointments. Saucedo’s work seems good to me. But ultimately I was disappointed.

As is so often the case in Mexico, there was confusion over the cost. I thought I was getting a post & crown as well. Later he informed me I was getting the root canals only. I paid about US$210 each for the root canal. A post & crown would cost about another US$300. This cost is not much less than I would pay in Canada. And you have absolutely no recourse in Mexico if the job goes wrong.

My mistake was not getting a stronger referral before choosing a dentist. My mistake was not getting a quote in writing before starting the job.

I still believe in Mexican Dental Vacationing. But next time I will do more homework first.

UPDATE: This price for a root canal turned out to be quite competitive. But other dentists are much more up front with total costs for their work than Dr. Gilberto Cardenas Saucedo.

Next travelogue on this trip >> Mazatlán old town.

warning – The Inn at Mazatlan, Mexico

The Inn at Mazatlán is one of the best resorts in town, no doubt. It’s been my home in Mexico since Katrina first took me there over 20-years-ago.

It is not a perfect resort. None are, of course.

One warning to would-be condo investors in Mexico.

Consider the “carrying costs“.

I paid C$5000 for 1 week a year for 23 years. My “condo Fee” started at US$75 / week / year. Very reasonable.

But when my annual bill reached US$400 for that week, I walked away from my unit, unable to sell a time-share with such a high condo fee.

My brother bought a unit at the Inn at Mazatlán about the time I walked away. His condo fee started low and is now well over US$400. He is starting to have doubts.

Fact is, you can rent a week at a 4-star resort in Mazatlán for US$400.

Be sceptical of pretty people and pretty condo pitches in Mazatlán. Things can only get worse for those who own at the Inn. Americans may be required to get a passport to travel to Mexico by 2007. Many will stop travelling to Mexico. Money will get tighter here.

This will further stifle business in Maz, still disaffected from the decrease in travel from the USA after 9/11.

If you have plenty of money, I recommend the Inn at Mazatlán — but it is cheaper to rent as you go.

The Inn at Mazatlán official website

Inn at Mazatlán

30 years of personal computer market share figures

Interesting long article explaining why almost everyone today suffers from Windows monopoly malady. How did the worst operating system get entrenched on your computer?

graph

Check the link below for the blow by blow.

Total share: 30 years of personal computer market share figures : Page 1