March 2017

Uber had a rough month in the media. A former female engineer exposed their culture of sexual harassment and Newsweek best highlights a dozen other problems with the company. Rationally, knowledge of these might be enough to impact one's use of the app. Much of their behaviour is really not cool. But I continue to ride with them. I can't really justify it, but Uber retains a high enough level of motivation and ease - the two factors you need to impact in behaviour change. That is, until this week. An Uber trip that was fine until I got out of the car, when the ride wasn't terminated by the driver. I realised five minutes later, took a screen shot and cancelled the trip (automatically paying the full fare as it was at the time I cancelled). A disappointing experience, but one that could be easily corrected when I sent Uber the screenshot. Sadly, more than a week and eight emails later, as well as several attempts on social media - I still have not been refunded that portion of the trip. Here's how a driver's mistake becomes an incompetent company cheating a customer. An infuriating loop of scripted responses quickly shows how poor their system is. Particularly when none address my actual problem, and are always condescendingly signed off with how much they appreciate the time I've taken. When I finally get through to a human, I'm told "the fare you were charged is within our estimate for the trip [...

I had a great idea. Based on an old blog post, I intended to remove all unnecessary uses of the word "that" from Wikipedia. I created an account called removesthat and got started. Using the random page feature I spent an hour finding dozens of inappropriate uses of "that" and deleted them. He was dismayed to discover that his granddaughter did not know what coal was. became: He was dismayed to discover his granddaughter did not know what coal was. It makes the writing more concise and saves five bytes of bandwidth on every page load. Once I'd done a few thousand I was going to write up the stunt and see if it could get some traction in PR. It was going to be a fun side project to kick off the year. But less than an hour after my first edits, they were reverted: I attempted to point out Mean as custard's arbitrary decision making and the irony of indiscriminately reverting all changes, but ultimately I ended up dealing with a troll. And you shouldn't feed trolls. (Interestingly the Washington Post has covered this user before!) I guess not every idea is a good one. All I got out of it was this crappy blog post!...