December 2010 - Posts

Come to the MVP Summit and run a 5k - yes YOU!

Back in the days when I worried about the lack of documentation in Managed DirectX I met a guy called Jason Olson who worked at Microsoft and was also interested in Managed DirectX and blogged about it at 'Managed World' - some of you old timers may remember it - heck he even has a link from that good old ZBuffer site ;-)

Several of us that know Jason have often given him a lot of grief because he struggles to actually finish a game. Over design is a problem that many of us suffer from but Jason is, I'm afraid, a terminal case. I think he's still working on the API architecture and the coding standards for the first Xna3way ;-)

While those of us who call him a friend have given up on him changing and think he'll still be writing Tic-Tac-Toe in the old folks home we are all rather more impressed with his recent fitness and diet changes. Jason's a big guy - has been since the day I first met him - and this year he's done a solid job changing that. I think he's down 50lbs+ and working out more than I do - he even sounds convinced about eating healthy which is something I've never managed to do ;-)

A couple of weeks ago he dropped me a note asking about running a 5k and what I thought he should do to get there. I told him what I tell everyone - as long as you have a proper pair of shoes and you train for it then anyone can run a 5k (or 10k, half marathon or whatever you want!). I told him I'd happily run with him if he wanted company too.

Then Chris Williams (another 1/3 of the XNA 3 way) chimed in - he ran a 5k earlier in the year and was thinking about another. He'll be in Seattle at the end of February for the MVP Summit and a plan was hatched....

There's only one 5k the Sunday before the summit and its at Seward Park  - - Chris, Jason and I will be there and we'd be happy for any of you to come along too. Its the one on the 27th February - entry here.

Pretty much anyone without health or injury problems should be able to get to a 5k in 8 weeks - here's a very well known plan Couch to 5k that will get you there. There's plenty of others. All you need is a decent pair of shoes (those tennis shoes you've had for 5 years don't count - get yourself to a running store let them help you out).

If you are worried about being slow then don't worry - most 5ks have entrants from those who run the whole thing in 16 minutes to those who take over an hour to walk it with their kids or grandparents. Nobody will notice or care if you alternate running and walking if that's what it takes to finish. Save enough energy to run the last 100 yards because that's where your cheering friends and family will be with cameras and hopefully cowbells and honestly its amazing how you find extra leg energy when you can see the finish line.

So if you are coming to the MVP Summit, you live in Seattle, you know me, Jason or Chris, you've always wanted to run a 5k or you are an experienced runner who was looking for something to do that weekend then sign up and drop me a line. No obligation to run with anyone - go at your own pace and then cheer in those behind you. I'd recommend you sign up ASAP - I find $30 and a 2 month commitment to be a great motivator!

Posted 26 December 2010 08:47 PM by zman
Filed under: ,
Dear KMart, you suck. Love The ZMan. xxx

Christmas eve, J is busy making me a birthday cake and I finally have time to blog about my double marathon. But before Christmas starts and I have to be nice to everyone I need to rant about KMart and their terrible online service.

At J's office they have a 'giving tree' type of thing. You know how it works - folk who are down on their luck can put gift requests on the tree so that they have a reasonable Christmas. At J's work they support a woman's shelter.

I always like to find something for the kids - they rarely ask for anything crazy and its usually easy to find a simple request like 'a lego car' and blow them away by getting them a metric ton of legos.

This year we had a request for a pink dump truck so ordered this on the 1st of December.

Pretty cool for a little kid I expect. We also ordered this

because - who doesn't need more lego bricks?

KMart had a good price and both in stock so we ordered from there and they shipped on the 2nd and arrived on the 7th - plenty of time for the 13th which was the delivery deadline.

Except they shipped the wrong colors for the extra blocks and that is where everything went bad.

I sent a message through their website. No confirmation of getting it - nothing for 24 hours. So I found an email address and tried that - nothing for 48 hours. I sent a 3rd message which was a little more 'to the point' and pinged their twitter account and this time got a reply about 18 hours after the email (on the 11th December). I know its Christmas and everyone is busy but 4.5 days to reply is terrible. But maybe they understood the urgency and were sending out a replacement.

NOPE. I got the usual form letter built up of small cut and paste phrases that some idiot manager thinks sounds professional but really sound patronizing. Let me share some samples with you.

Thank you for contacting Kmart Personal Shopper! regarding the order XXXXXXX. I am glad to assist. I apologize for the inconvenience caused regarding the normal color instead of pink you received for your order item which you placed under the Order XXXXXX. I also understand that you have received incorrect item. I'll be glad to help you with your concern today. Normally we check all the items before we ship. However, I'm not sure how this has happened. It's a very rare issue and I'm sorry it happened in your case. We will always stand behind our products and will help you to resolve your concern to your satisfaction. I once again apologize for the inconvenience caused to you in this regards. If you have any questions regarding this issue or with any issue. Please feel free to email us, so that we can help you further.  We thank you for your patience and cooperation. We are here for you! Please reply should you have any further questions. We value your business and look forward to serving you in the future. Have a wonderful day!  I appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience.  We want to make you happy. Take our survey to tell us how we are doing. Look for great bargains throughout the store and find Kmart exclusive brands like Thalia Sodi, Joe Boxer, Route 66 and Jaclyn Smith.  Make sure you're registered at for emails, so we can stay in touch! Happy Holidays!

Buried in the middle of that is

I have requested a UPS call tag to be released immediately. This is a free service where you have to do nothing expect keeping the item ready for UPS to pick up from your door steps. You will also be contacted regarding this issue within 24-48 hours with further details and provide you the details of your pick up service.

Well I suppose after 4.5 days its better than nothing eh? They don't offer to send the correct replacement but I've already driven to Target purchased the right item and its already on the way to the people who organize the thing.

So I wait 48 hours and I hear nothing. I wait another 48 hours and hear nothing. So I drop them another friendly email on the 15th December and hear back on the 19th December - seriously apparently 4 days is normal turn around time for them. Was it an apology, was it an explanation??

NOPE! They had forgotten all of our previous conversations and need to know what it is I want to return!

Thank you for contacting understand that you received the wrong item in your shipment. However, since there was more than one item on this order we need to know which item your did not receive and a description of what you received instead so we may make arrangements to have it picked up and sent back to the warehouse. Please advise. We will be awaiting your response.Look for great bargains throughout the store and find Kmart exclusive brands like Thalia Sodi, Joe Boxer, Route 66 and Jaclyn Smith.

At least I didn't get too many cut and paste insincerities this time! I reply the same day with some choice words and the information they want and of course hear nothing back until the 22nd December - I admit to being impressed with their 3 day turnaround!

Thank you for contacting regarding order XXXXXX. Please accept our apologies for the confusion regarding the item you received wrong. I understand that you received the regular colors set instead of the item #004W377418110003 Description: Large Bags, Alternative Colors. We are making arrangements for the the wrong set you received to be picked up by UPS, and returned to our warehouse. You will receive a confirmation email when our arrangements have been completed, typically within 5 business days. Still have your packing slip? Make sure to put this in the box. If you don't have the packing slip, just include a note in the box with your order number, and reason for return clearly visible. This will ensure that you receive proper credit. Also, if you no longer have the original box, that's okay, any box will do. You will receive an e-mail notifying you of the credit to your account once your return has been processed. We want to keep you as a customer. If you choose to place a new order in the next few days, please respond to this email with your new order number and we will gladly remove the shipping charge. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Thank you for choosing Kmart. We do appreciate your business. Enjoy the rest of your day! Your opinion counts. Take our survey to tell us how we're doing. Make sure you're registered at for emails, so we can stay in touch! Look for great bargains throughout the store and find Kmart exclusive brands like Thalia Sodi, Joe Boxer, Route 66 and Jaclyn Smith.

Does any of that look familiar? It should do - because its almost the same as they sent me on the 11th.

So expecting another 4 days I do nothing with the box and and so am very surprised when at 10am yesterday (23rd December) the UPS guy catches me pre-shower and tells me he is here to pick something up! I have nothing ready but he leaves me the tag and I can have them pick it up any time.

Any bets on how long before I see my money back?

This story was in the Seattle Times yesterday "5 years after Kmart merger, Sears remains a tough sell" - well guys maybe if you would treat your customers better they would buy more. I know its pretty unlikley I'll be trying this again!

So now I have got my ire out on the internet I am free to wish you all a jolly good Christmas (or whatever excuse you need to buy presents and have a good time with your friends and family).

See you in 2011!


Posted 24 December 2010 11:37 AM by zman
Filed under: ,



This Blog