Category Archives: Life

Obligatory “Poking at My Blog Again” Post

Yeah, yeah, the cycle that is my usual routine of a flurry of blog posts followed by long silence has finally been accomplished beyond wildest expectations. September 30th, huh? *ouch* In my defense, Facebook and Twitter have been busy ruining any long-form writing skills I may have been developing when I was posting here, well, “more”, while the correct term, seems a little grandiose for this particular web locale, but we’ll go with it anyway.

Anyway, I wish I could claim that big life events from the past 6 months or so were being expressed in those chunks of 140 characters or less, but things have been pretty quiet. Oh, not to say *nothing* has happened, but nothing I’d bore the couple of people who might have forgotten to remove this blog’s feed from their RSS reader with.

Don’t despair, however: as is wont to happen, I occasionally have something to say, and I’ve got a few things running around in my head. I’ll do my best to expand those beyond 140 character chunks and attempt to make them resemble English (with real sentence structure, and everything!). At least to the point where both of you will reconsider removing that RSS feed…

Hearing Loss

I just learned my hearing cuts out at about 14kHz, thanks to this page. As a musician, someone who has been to his share of concerts and a person over 25, I guess this is ok:

It’s fairly common for people who are over 25 years of age to not be able to hear above 15Hz


Musicians have a much higher risk of hearing loss that most people do

I’ve known my ability to hear high-frequency pitches has been diminishing, as even slightly-misbehaving electronics used to drive me crazy, but don’t anymore: in university, I worked in a department that had a slidemaker that when it was turned on, emitted a high-frequency sound that most people couldn’t hear, but I would have to leave the room or suffer a near-instant head-ache.

One of the joys of getting older, I guess, but as a muscian (and music lover) I’m grateful that I can still hear a normal range of tones.

Native Instruments Acknowledges Bug, End of Relationship With Guitar Center

As I previously posted, I was having an issue with Native Instruments’ Kore 2 not being able to operate the way I needed it to, and the way I specifically asked about before purchasing the product. Native Instruments has acknowledged the bug, but this post isn’t about that, even though the ordeal is almost over (by Monday I should be able to move on, keeping in mind that Monday marks the end of the *second month* of trying to get this resolved!). This post is about the amazingly bad way I was treated by my Guitar Center sales rep during our last conversation.

It used to be that companies needed every customer they could get, and would do whatever they could to keep their customers satisfied and coming back. Now, maybe there are companies out there that are so big, and do so much business that individual customers don’t actually matter, and maybe in a slight twist of irony, the negative word-of-mouth that can be spread so easily via the Internet (say, via blogs) is obviated, or at least offset, by the increased business a company can do on the ‘Net, creating this situation in the first place. In any case, I’m sure these guys still work on commission, and whatever they’d like to think looking at their weekly or monthly pay checks, their customers *are* important.

So if you’re one of these, here’s a little tip: don’t tell your customer that he’s not important (actual quote: “sorry I forgot about this, but I see 200 customers a day”), don’t blame your customers or call them difficult (“I tried to work with you, and you changed your mind”), and don’t put your vendor sales reps in a bad light (“I just talked with him, and he said you weren’t interested in working with them, you just wanted to return the product” – this one especially got me, as I spent a *month* waiting for their tech support to eventually acknowledge a bug I knew was there from the first day I used the software). Oh, and I’m not just dumping on the sales reps – the store’s general manager and the district manger (whom I spoke to directly at one point) were both involved in this debacle as well. So after Monday (or whenever this is resolved), I plan never to set foot, or spend another dime, in a Guitar Center store (or website) again. I can’t (and won’t) tell you to do the same, but the next time you do, remember that you’re likely just a number to them, and hope that you don’t need to take anything back. And if you do, I hope you’re treated better than I was.

Edit: The first part of this is here.

Horrible Customer Service (or, The Customer’s Not Always Right)

Although I was hesitant to post this until the matter was resolved, this has been going on long enough. Last December 4th, I purchased a software/hardware music package from my local Guitar Center. As a band, my friend and I spend and have spent a non-trivial sum of money there in the last year or so, and had developed a working relationship with one of the sales guys.  The package in question was Native Instruments’ Kore 2.

I have pretty specific needs when it comes to software of this nature, and I know what it needs to be able to do.  The Kore software version 2.0.0 did not have the functionality I required, and was interested to learn that the upgrade (2.0.1) seemed to have added it (that alone should have warned me).  I called our sales guy at Guitar Center, and asked him specifically if the new functionality would meet my requirement.  He didn’t know, but he promised to ask his Native Instruments rep (NI).  A little while later, he called me back with the news: it would do what I wanted.  I made the purchase, and a few days later (they had to ship me a copy from another store location), I had the product.

I went through the install and upgrade.  In order to get the upgrade from NI’s website, you need to register the product, which I did.  After getting everything running, I started experimenting with the new software, trying to figure out how I could configure the new environment to work.  After several failed attempts, and reading the mostly-unhelpful manual addendum, I turned to the user forums, figuring I was just missing something.  I had noticed, as part of my research into the product, that several NI reps were active on the forums, and I figured a detailed post would allow them to point out where my oversight was, and get me going.  After a few days without any response, I posted a follow-up asking if *anyone* knew what my problem might be.  One response gave me a glimmer of hope, but it turned out not to be the answer.  Note I’m deliberately leaving out technical details here, post comments if you want to know more!

After a few more days of no response, I contacted my Guitar Center sales guy, who suggested I call their support line, and gave me the number.  I called, and after a rocky beginning (“this is not a tutorial line, sir”), admitted that this was something he’d have to talk to their German team about (Native Instruments is based in Berlin).  I should have asked for a ticket number, but forgot.  A week later, having had no response, I once again called Guitar Center, and explained that they hadn’t called me back.  I expressed my reservations about NI’s ability to address their customers’ issues, and asked for him to process the return.  He told me he’d get back to me, but that it shouldn’t be a problem.

Fast forward to the new year: January 4th, a month after my purchase.  Guitar Center is now back-pedalling, saying because the product was registered, they can’t take it back without NI authorizing the return.

Another week goes by, and my call to Guitar Center actually gets me the District Manager for Guitar Center, who, after a few hours, puts me in direct contact with their NI sales rep.  I’m told that the only way Guitar Center will take back the product at this point is if I can get NI to authorize the return.

The NI sales rep promises to look into the problem I’m having, get their tech support to handle my ticket, and if they can’t solve my problem, he’d authorize the return.  Over that weekend, NI tech support actually contacted me – but without any history: their email was basically “how can we help you?”.  Of course, the big music trade show, NAMM, was on this past week, meaning the sales rep was unavailable the couple times I tried to call to put an end to this.

So where am I?  At this point, I’ve pretty much lost any confidence in NI’s tech support.  If I have this kind of problem right out of the box, and they can’t fix it in a month and a half, what does that say for the next problem I have?  (By the way, I should mention that I’m not just missing something: I’ve been using MIDI applications on computers since the late-eighties/early nineties – I think I know what I’m doing)

On top of that, it’s not like I’m fiddling around with this in my bedroom – the package was going to be the center of my live stage rig, and there’s no way I’m taking a product into that situation without understanding what it does and how it behaves.  In other words, trust is important here, and I don’t have a lot of it for Kore’s host capabilities.

The other problem, the one that’s left me the most jaded, is that between two companies, neither one wanted to step up and do the right thing, and still haven’t, even after a month and a half.  The moral?  I’m going to be a lot more careful about the exact terms under which I buy things from that store, if indeed I still choose to continue to spend my money there.  I’ll post a follow-up when this has been resolved.


I’m not a big phone fan – I don’t like to call people, and not a lot of people call me (email and IM mostly serve that function). Still, the phone is a necessity in today’s world, so there’s no escaping it. And like it or not, most of us have a home phone, a work phone and a cell phone, and all of these have voicemail to manage. With all that, and the few calls I get and make, I still get annoyed by some of the limitations I’m faced with in managing these. Enter GrandCentral.

One thing to note, first, however: I got my invitation to the closed beta yesterday, so I’ve had my account less than a day. And while I’ve spent a good deal of time poking around the interface, recording greetings, uploading my contact list, etc, not too many people have the new number yet, so I won’t be claiming it changed my life just yet. The potential is definitely there, though. Read about my initial impressions after the jump.
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