Friday, February 10, 2017

Corporate efficiency?

Forum Communications (owners of the Duluth News Tribune) implemented a new “improved” version of the Olive Edition.  This is a program that allows readers to toggle between a facsimile of the printed paper and individual articles.  I sent the following to the person who responded to my help message:

"I do find the new version a lot harder to use.  I prefer the way the Star Tribune is set up.  For example, the Strib version has a section icon at the top left.  Much easier than using the arrows to go back or forth page by page.  Also, when I first opened it, it didn’t automatically set the page to my screen size.  It took a bit of fumbling before had the page size adjusted properly.

"Olive still can’t translate the text correctly.  Most of the articles that I looked at still drop the first letter of a story.”

That paragon of efficiency, Netflix, sent me email that my next DVD would be arriving three days ago!!  Which it had!  Maybe their email system went down.  And that system was most likely set up by some corporation.

I downloaded Stitcher because iTunes was just getting too difficult to use.  I was finding it being less responsive to downloading and playing podcasts.  Even Stitcher has lots of hidden things that don’t work easily and clearly. Many of the operations don’t work as described in the help articles. I think I finally have my podcasts organized that I can download new episodes and can play them offline without a problem.

I’ve been at two different groceries this week where the register system did not work properly.  Fortunately, each had it come on line quickly or had a workaround.

Good old Apple!  I’m never sure what it will take to get a hotspot from my phone working.  Sometimes our iPads or laptops will recognize the hotspot immediately.  Sometimes it will take several minutes and multiple times turning the hotspot off and on again.  As somebody in a coffee shop loudly proclaimed months ago about gas prices: “It makes no sense!”

In defense of the oil companies and all the corporate and locally-owned stations, it does make sense.  Gas is an auction commodity.  Demand goes up, the price goes up.  Demand goes down, the price goes down.  Of course, there is also the seasonal switching of blends that decreases supply, causing the price to go up.

And those much maligned government agencies.  Working as planned.

Our social security checks are always posted to our bank on time.  (The bank does mark the payments as available immediately, but may take many hours to post them to our “ledger”)

If we order a book or DVD from the Duluth Public Library (either from the system or from MNLink*), they send us email within an hour or two of items being available at our branch.

*MNLink is a consortium of the local government libraries that make their collections available to other libraries in the system.  Often an item is delivered to the requesting library within two days of its being returned by the previous borrower.

And snowplowing has gotten better.  Our local streets are plowed several times after a storm and getting around may be a hassle for awhile and driveways may be blocked.  One thing that has improved is that a sidewalk plow generally comes around a day or two after a major storm.  It even makes up for those residents who rarely shovel their sidewalks.

Finally, the Duluth Transit Authority buses are fairly close to on-time even when the streets are not in the best condition.  And oh, yes, those friendly and courteous drivers are Teamsters.