Friday, 20 December 2013

Trying to phone Sony

The wonders of the telephone. The miracle of menus. In the last couple of hours I have collected a large number of telephone numbers for Sony in the Netherlands. But when I need support for my new Sony VAIO laptop, it all comes down to the special "VAIOlink" phone number. 
However in order to be allowed access to this number, one has to type in a serial number. If you don't type in a serial number or you get it wrong, there's no option to actually get a human on the line. After trying five times the phone and getting unceremoniously kicked off the phone, I eventually wandered through all kinds of other menus on other Sony telephone numbers, which always seemed to come back to that one number which needed a serial number. Even if I said I was interested in purchasing a NEW Sony laptop, I still got through through to the same machine that wanted me to enter a serial number for a laptop I hadn't even bought yet! Catch-22!
So eventually I tried hitting buttons at random to get through the menus and finally got onto somebody from a completely different department of Sony (televisions) who told me a neat little trick. If your serial number doesn't work, then just type 12345678# 1234567#. And that works. At last I managed to get someone on the phone on that magic VAIOlink number who actually confirmed that my serial number is correct, even if the telephone system won't accept it. but this takes hours and it's interesting to note that Sony has abolished virtually all ways of getting in touch with the human being unless you know the secret code or, in this case, the hack.
But unless Sony wants its customers to be driven totally crazy before they manage to get anyone on the phone, I would recommend checking your phone system. If it was made by Sony, that is certainly not a recommendation.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Black Pete and Haji Firuz

Holland, along with parts of Belgium and Germany, has an alternative to Christmas. It bears similarities to the Anglo-saxon feast (an old man with a huge white beard and a red cape), but in Holland it is called Sinterklaas and is celebrated from mid-November to 5 December. It's based on Saint Nicolas, the forefather of Santa Claus and he comes from Spain with Moorish slaves instead of from the North Pole with reindeer.

The slaves have become Black Petes which some consider racist (certainly the politically correct and some foreigners). The Black Petes most probably do have their roots in slavery, but the Moors were more slave traders than slaves themselves and the way the feast has been celebrated for the last few generations, the feast is anything but racist. With a deeply rooted tradition of toe-curlingly infantile rhymes disguising pithy truths that are otherwise left unsaid, with chocolate letters and spicy cookies, it's enormous fun and deserves to be regarded as world heritage. But there have been minor protests in the last couple of years and I can understand Americans especially being confused by this display of black-face.

Anyway, suddenly some Professor from the University of the West Indies has apparently been commissioned to "investigate" for the UN. But before she even started she condemned the feast and said it should be banned. That's one sure way to unite the Netherlands as never before. A Facebook page dedicated to preserving the feast got 1.5 million likes in only one day. Our professor was interviewed on the Dutch news and commented that the Dutch should just adopt Father Christmas and abandon Sint Nicolaas. Even UN diplomatic circles are now apparently embarrassed by her insensitivity and if anything encourages and evokes racism it is this stupid professor from Jamaica by the name of Verene Sheperd.

BTW - there are many similar festivities and there is even an Iranian feast based on the same mix of characters with black-faces - Haji Firuz - and that is on the world heritage list. (Not to mention the Washington Redskins.)

You would think a Jamaican professor would be more worried about gays being murdered in Jamaica (and Iran) than in combatting a festive celebration of diversity which does have its roots back in the 17th century with young slave-boy servants. But let's enjoy this feast and focus on solving more serious problems - wars, a global economic crisis , the abuse of women and gays and growing extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism in the world. 


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

LinkedIn? Link Me Out!

This is so embarrassing!
For years I have avoided the temptation to check my email address book in LinkedIn, but today I succumbed. I was on LinkedIn to accept a request from someone I knew and this time I did click on the "check your address list". The comment "Your email is safe with us! We will not store your password or email anyone without your permission" was reassuring. It came up with a page on which I could see eight possible connections. I unchecked seven of them. They were people I would not consider emailing a request to connect on LinkedIn because I didn't know them well enough - occasionally not at all - and there may have been one I wouldn't want to connect to on LinkedIn. Unchecking seven took an age, which should have been a warning, but having succeeded, I went ahead and clicked on "Add connections". Only then did I see that this wasn't a page with only eight possible connections. I could have scrolled down and found several hundred more.
My email software is set to add everyone I have mailed to my address list - it can be useful. But hence my desire to check through the LinkedIn list and hence also my rough estimate of one in eight I would want to connect to. But I ended up asking several hundred people to connect, many of who I don't even know. Within an hour I had about thirty acceptances, many from people I have never heard of. That is strange, as I tend to want to have met someone face to face or have intensive electronic contact before adding them to my LinkedIn network. I even received an automatic reply from but also some from people wanting to know whether and how they know me. I know the feeling. Now I know why I receive so many requests from people I don't know, some even through the info address of my software company.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that there is a recommendations page on LinkedIn. I get a page with four connections/skills I can choose to recommend. I can recommend all or each individually. I assumed the connections page was similar.
So how do I undo the damage? Will LinkedIn please unlink the people I don't know and send a bunch of flowers to everyone who got spammed? And also forward this blog to all of them?