Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why I am a new fan of AAA

I've had a piece of mail sitting on my desk for about 3 months. (this may explain my need to purge, but I digress...) The mail was from AAA, and it was an offer waive the $17 enrollment fee. I've been meaning to get to this and become a AAA member for months (this limited time deal expired in mid-September) but for some reason I never got around to it.

...and boy, did I feel stupid about never getting to it today.

Early this afternoon, I went to our garage and tried to unlock my car from the remote on my key. Nothing.

I unlocked my car by physically inserting my key into the lock on the car door. When's the last time you've done that?

I tried to start my car, but... nothing. Nothing at all.

Apparently, *someone* (who shall remain nameless) forgot to turn off the lights when we came home Thursday night. The battery was dead.

Luckily, Dick was getting his car from our other (rented) garage space, and was driving up the block towards me. I managed to signal him, and he pulled his car inside the garage my car was stuck in.

We hooked up our jumper cables, but alas, just a click, and nothing more.

Again, and again, and again...

We figured the battery was probably dead.

So, as I've mentioned, I've been meaning to join AAA for just such an emergency. We figured there was no time like the present.

I signed up online (although I no longer had a code to waive my enrollment fee) and immediately called them to see if they could send someone over to check my battery. At this point, we assumed that a new battery may very well be order.

We had read on the AAA site that it would take 2 days after enrollment to be able to use our membership. That would be okay, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

And I'm glad I did! The nice woman at AAA (Dottie was her name) was oh-so-helpful and friendly. I told her that I had signed up for my membership no more than 5 minutes earlier, but she said that would be fine. She called a tow-truck in my City, and told me he would be here in less than 15 minutes.

The AAA truck came, the guy took out his heavy duty battery charger thingy, and voila... my engine turned over on the first try!!


He suggested that I drive my car around for at least 30 minutes before turning off the engine (which I did), had me sign a piece of paper, and was on his way.

So there you go.

I have plenty of blog posts with rants about companies and bad customer service.

It's so nice to write a post about a GOOD customer service story.

Thank you, AAA!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Great Purge of 2010!!

The Great Purge of 2010 is in full-swing!! I'm being fairly ruthless this time. We moved into "His 'n Hers Condos" almost 7 years ago. I'm getting rid of anything that been in our basement since then that we haven't used or missed.

Dick and I made two trips in my MINI to the Goodwill donation center over the weekend. My parents (the Wonder Parents) came yesterday and today and helped me clear out 3 more carloads in their Rav4. They also brought home a full carload of stuff that they wanted to sort through, give away to friends, etc.,

There's a really good reason why we're going through such a serious purge right now, but I'll have to wait a few more days to spill the beans. :)

I came across some really funny items today that I couldn't resist taking photos of before sending them off.

Cell phone, circa 1995

Here's a cell phone from 1995 or so. It wasn't mine - it was actually my ex-boyfriends. I think he gave it to me when he bought a new one, in case I wanted to have one (I never did use it). It's just so old and HUGE!

Sony Walkman, circa mid to late 1980s

My old Sony Walkman! Wow. I can't even remember when I first got it, but I'm thinking mid to late 80s. It was cutting edge technology at the time. :) I thought it was ironic finding this today, as I remember reading that Sony just stopped making the Walkman earlier this year.

My Tomato!

This was my Little Red Tomato - it was my trusty camera all throughout high school and through ALL of my color guard years - both marching and teaching, I think. I had it for YEARS, and really loved it. Lots of memories with this little camera.


My parents had kept a few boxes of our childhood toys in our boxes. (My poor parents - I'm sure they were hoping they'd eventually have Grandkids to give these toys to.) One of the toys in the box was this old Jaws game that I remember getting as a Christmas gift in 1977.

Green Day Ticket Stub 1995

One of my favorite little finds today was this ticket stub from a Green Day Concert in 1995. My sister and I went to see them together in Berkeley. This was the third time I had seen them in concert that year. I have some amount of pride that I have physical proof of being a Green Day Groupie way back in 1995. I also love that the tickets were only $10!

There's still a lot more purging to do within the next few weeks. As one of my Facebook friends said, "OMG! How much stuff have you been hoarding?" :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Beef with Intuit

This is not the best way to start a Monday...

I use Quickbooks for the Mac as my accounting program for my small business. Doesn't everyone?

I don't use it for much more than writing invoices and receiving payments. Pretty basic stuff.

The last time I bought a copy of Quickbooks was (apparently) 3 years ago, when I bought Quickbooks Pro 2007 for the Mac.

I bought a new MacBook Pro a couple of months ago, and ever since then, when I launch Quickbooks, it told me that I need to register my product online and until I do, I have 15 times in which I can access my account. Presumably, after I register it, the 15-uses limitation goes away, and I'm free to use the program that I paid for 3 years ago.

Seems simple enough. (Except for the fact that ALL of my other software programs work just fine on my new mac, and I don't need to re-register ANY of it.)

So, this morning, it seems I was down to my last 8 uses or so. When I clicked to register (Which i've done before) it gave me the error that it was unable to launch the registration application (or something along those lines) then it quit out of my app altogether.

Fine. I'll call Intuit Customer Support, and have them register my app so I an use it again. Not a problem, right?

So, the customer service guy tells me that my version of Quickbooks isn't compatible with my new OS. Mind you, it worked fine over the last few weeks after I couldn't register it - it just opened the app and told me I had X amount of times I could still use it without registering.

Customer service outsouced-from-India-Guy tells me that I'm going to have to upgrade to the latest version - Quickbooks 2011 for the Mac.

The price: $229.00.

Um... excuse me?

First of all, that's the upgrade price (turns out there is no upgrade price - you buy the full software each time you need to "upgrade")?! He then offers me a 20% discount plus will throw in one month technical support.


In the meantime, I look up Quickbooks on, and find this review:

owned Quickbooks 2007 for Mac and have used it for years. I am a registered user with Intuit. For the past few months, I got a message that I needed to register the product and that it would be good for only 30 days. This made no sense since I was a registered user and the "register online" option did not work. Finally, one day while I was working, I quit the application and tried to relaunch it. The message came up and would not launch. I called Intuit to help with the registration. I got a tech support in India who had passible English. He confirmed that the product was registered. He asked what system I was using. I was up to date with 10.6.4. He said that was the problem since Quickbooks 2007 was not being supported in 10.6, but only with 10.4 and 10.5. and would not work. I told him that it does work in 10.6 and I have been successful with it for months since upgrading to 10.6. He clarified that it would work only 15 times in 10.6 before the registration would not work. I found this to be incredible. This means that Intuit has written script to make the software not work after 15 times with the newer operating system. In some ways this seems illegal to me. It is one thing to say software is not supported with newer systems, it is another to purposefully make it not work when, in fact, it does work. I use Quickbooks basically as an accounting program and not for creating tax returns. As such, I don't need the most recent version. The tech person further stated that I had to buy the 2011 version and that it, too, would not work after 2014. Again, I'm flabbergasted. Intuit is purposefully making their software not work after a specific period of time. I am livid. I bought the newer version since I had to complete records for a number of clients but felt I was being forced to buy something I did not need due to planned obsolescence.

In general, 2011 seems identical to 2007. I don't need the newer features. I did notice that during reconciliation that often the program added incorrectly.

So, according to this review (and I'm experiencing ALL the same problems) Intuit will make my copy of Quickbooks obsolete after 3 years of using it. I don't think it mattered at all that I just updated my OS - this would have happened in 3 years, regardless. (Yes, I did verify that with service rep guy on the phone).

So, now I'm pissed off. However, I have a lot of stuff on my plate at the moment, so I just roll with the stupid, expensive upgrade.

Here's the thing: like the amazon reviewer above, I only use Quickbooks for two simple functions: invoices and receiving payments. I don't *need* to upgrade every 3 years for additional updates, etc., I am not given a choice, though, if I want to continue using it after 3 years.

The kicker: yes, I get one month free technical support, but after the first month, I will be charged $24.95 AUTOMATICALLY to keep that service going, unless I cancel it before. (Which you bet I'll be doing)

Let's recap:

After 3 years of buying/using this product, I can no longer access my files without "upgrading" for $229.95.

I will also be automatically charged $24.95/month unless I put a note in my calendar to cancel it before the first month is through.

Seems like a huge racket to me.

I admit, I'm playing the game, though. I don't have the time to try to figure out another solution at the moment, and just need for my accounting software to work.

At some point, (after my 3-year lease is up next time) maybe I'll explore other options. Maybe I'll go back to writing my invoices manually in MS Word like I did 15 years ago.

I hate crap like this.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter 7!

Here we go again!

This morning, I saw the 11:30am matinee showing of Harry Potter 7 with my parents.

Ever since the very first Harry Potter movie came out, my family and I (whoever is able to make it) have gone to the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland to see the movies on their premiere day. We've also done the same for each of the new Star Wars movies and any of the Pixar films.

The theater is so great in so many ways: it's an gorgeous, old theater, but with updated systems so the screen, sound and even seats are new-ish. One of the biggest perks for us is that even though we go on opening day, this theater is never busy (not really sure why). This morning, I arrived 45 minutes before the first showing, and I was second in line! Can't beat that.

The movie was fantastic! We all really enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warming Hut Hotties Training Video

I know it's been almost two weeks since the last time I posted! Sorry about that. I have a lot of photos and thoughts to post, but somehow, they never made it up.

We had a Warming Hut Hotties Reunion gathering last night, which was just wonderful. Linda, our fearless and amazing leader hosted the gathering, cooked amazing food, and even found time to make memory videos of the 3 Day walk.

Today, she posted yet another video - a compilation of photos from the 24 weeks of training before the event. I joined the group the first weekend of August. I think most of these photos are from the period of time that I was with them.

It gives an amazing summary of the walks we did, stairs we climbed, and gorgeous sites that we saw. Waking up, and getting started as early as 6am, walking anywhere from 12 miles to 20 miles a day.

Thank you, Linda, for everything that you've done and continue to do for this incredible group - I'm so proud and happy to be a part of the Warming Hut Hotties! :)

2010 Training from WARMING HUT HOTTIES on Vimeo.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor...

My neighbor Carol just delivered a homemade apple pie, made from apples from the tree in her backyard. Yum!

Baseball and Homemade Apple Pie! It's going to be an All-American night!

And on that note, be sure to get out and vote tomorrow!