Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Duplicate vs. Replacement

My drivers license qualifies as a government-issued photo ID card so that I am allowed to go through TSA at airports. TSA scrutinizes all IDs that pass in front of them and it was mentioned to me at one point that the corner of my license has laminate peeling off and that might cause some TSA workers to not accept the ID. When I could, I should get a replacement license.

I did that today. Before going to the DMV, I checked the web site to see what I needed to bring. The web site explained that duplicate licenses cost $5. I thought that having a duplicate might be a good idea. Keep it with my important documents should my wallet decide to spontaneously combust or end up in the hands of someone who shouldn't have it.

I went to the DMV and was pleased that no one was there in line. I went straight to the window. I explained the laminate was starting to peel off and TSA tipped me off that I should get this fixed so they don't hassle me at airports. The clerk said no problem and told me to go wait by the cashier for my name to be called. She took my old license.

Before going over to the cashier, I asked for a duplicate as well since those are only $5. She looked a bit confused and told me that's what she was doing. I explained that I wanted my current license replaced, but a duplicate as well since it would be handy to have a backup copy of my license. She said that I can only have one duplicate. I said, "right, replace my current license and give me a duplicate." The clerk next to her chimed in after a while and explained that a duplicate is a replacement.

No it's not.

I asked how I can get a duplicate. I mentioned the FAQ says I can get one and it's $5. They told me that's for lost, stolen, or damaged licenses. I said, "so it's really a replacement then?"

Yes.

Yes, I am confused by this poor word choice. Using duplicate in this context is ok since my new license is an exact copy of what I had, but the FAQ needs to be more clear. The context implies that you can get a duplicate of your license for $5. Maybe replacement is even a poor word, but it would have made it more clear. What they really meant to say is:
If your license is lost, stolen, or damaged, a duplicate can be issued to you for $5. If you have your damaged license, you must surrender it to receive the new license. If you wish to make any changes to the information on your license at this time, regular processing fees apply.
Now, after all of that, they didn't even charge me the $5 processing fee. Score!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Regions Bank Sucks

That title should drive Google search results high. I hope that someone at Regions customer service finds this post and is able to make some changes at the bank. I cannot believe how hard it was to change one piece of information on my loan account.

Back in 2004 I bought a car in Marietta, GA. I financed the car and the financial department at the dealership offered me 3 different loans. One was from a bank I had never heard of, but its interest rate was really high. The second one was through Audi Financing. But the best interest rate came from another bank I had never heard of called AmSouth. I thought, "well, it's just the car loan. who cares what bank has it?" I went with AmSouth at 5.9% interest.

Shortly after, I received an envelope in the mail from AmSouth that included a bunch of paperwork as well as a loan coupon book to start paying back this loan. Each month, I would write a check and tear out the coupon and mail it to a PO Box in Birmingham, Alabama.

In the front of the coupon book was a slip of paper that had this text on it (or close to it):
Want to save a stamp?

Fill out this form and include it with your next payment to set up automatic draft payments from your checking account. Your loan payments will come out on the due date and you won't have to worry about mailing it in each time.

Routing Number:___________________________
Account Number:___________________________
Signature:________________________________
So I filled it out and sent it in with the next payment. Each month on the 17th, they draft my account for the loan payment amount and I don't have to worry about it. This little form was all they wanted to set up the automatic monthly draft payment.

Sometime after setting this up, AmSouth was acquired or merged with Regions Bank and became the new Regions Bank. My automatic payments come from REGIONS now instead of AMSOUTH when I look at my statements.

Skip to now. I have been moving my checking account over to ING Direct, which means updating things that are automatically paid from my account. The most important thing is the car payment, but it's been the most difficult thing to take care of.

Last week I called Regions customer service and was greeted by a recording that said they are closed. Call back between 5 AM and 7 PM Central time to speak with a representative.

I called back the next day and got a representative. I explained that I was moving my checking account and needed to change the account they were drafting from for my loan payment. Looking back on the call now, I think the guy was confused because he was probably thinking my checking account had been at Regions (I've never had anything at their bank, except this car loan). He told me he can't do that on the phone, I would have to come in to a branch. I said I live in Hawaii and that's not really possible so he then asked why I was living in Hawaii. Way to stay focused. He said he would have to mail me a form that I could fill out and send back to Regions to change the draft authorization. I asked if there was a faster way and he said he could fax m the form, so I gave him my fax number.

After waiting two days, nothing showed up. I was expecting the fax, but even now, more than a week later, nothing has arrived via mail. I called back.

I had to explain the entire situation again, the representative apologized and put in another request for the form to be faxed and mailed. I asked if there was any way to verify that it had been sent. She said, "no, you'll just have to wait."

Waiting a day, no fax. I call back and say this is now my third time calling asking for this form. The guy apologizes and says he'll make sure the request goes through. I'm on hold for a while and he comes back and says it went through.

Waited until today and nothing has shown up. I call back, this is now the fourth time. I get some lady in the Memphis call center. She is totally confused by this request. She first tells me I have to change it with my bank. What? No, you guys are the ones who are taking money from my account. You are who I sent the form to anyway. I explain it again and she gets it (I think). She does say that the form has to be sent to me by mail or fax. I explain that I've requested that three times now over the past week and nothing has arrived. She apologizes and says she will verify it went through. OK, sure. She does that and then tells me that if it doesn't arrive in 20 minutes to call back and ask for her and she'll see what's up. OK, I can do that.

30 minutes later, I call back. I get some lady and ask to speak to who I was speaking to before. The new lady kindly informs me that Regions has NO WAY to transfer calls between call centers or operators. Huhwha? Why did the Memphis lady tell me that? The new lady also goes on to tell me that a form request like that takes 24 hours, not 20 minutes. Is the Memphis lady or the new lady correct? What's going on here? New lady also empathizes with me telling me she used to live in St. Something and knows how difficult it is when you live outside of the states (NEWS FLASH 1959: HAWAII IS NOW A STATE!). I say that Hawaii is a state and she says, "I know, and I lived in a territory." But I think you missed my point.

Basically this call goes nowhere. While on hold at some point, I look up Regions branches that might be close to my parents because I will be visiting them in a couple of weeks. There is one a few miles away. I ask if I can take care of this request at a branch (remember on calls 1, 2, and 3, they told me to go to a branch) and she tells me that the branches have the same level of authority as the phone bankers and they won't be able to do any more for me. So basically I'm stuck. There's no way for me to update the account on the draft.

I decide to try a different angle. I ask if I can discontinue the automatic draft payments. Can she do that for me over the phone? She tells me that doing that will require mailing or faxing me a form that I will need to fill out and get notarized. WHAT? She tells me it's for security reasons. But the form I used to start the draft was nothing like that. Why all these hoops now?

She does tell me she can put a stop on the draft payments for 6 months, but that will cost me $36. WHAT? What are you even talking about now?

She puts me on hold again and somehow the call gets dropped. Ooops. I guess she was getting tired of talking to me.

I call back, now the sixth time. I get a guy this time and explain the entire situation over again. I decide to skip the part about changing the account they are drafting from. I just want to stop the draft payments. Just let me mail in paper checks from now on. Is that even possible? To my surprise he says yes. He has the form, fills it out, asks what effective date I want, and puts in an order for a new loan coupon book to be mailed to me (but, as previously established, Regions is incapable of mailing things).

It took six calls and hours of wasted time. What you just read was the summary. I do not understand why Regions is this way. I have only ever dealt with the telephone bankers and I have only ever had this loan account with them, but if the branches are anything like the phone service, I can't imagine ever considering banking there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Become a Hater Of

Dear Facebook,

Facebook is a huge waste of time, but I still look at it. I read the things people post and the things people become fans of and the pictures they tag themselves in. WHY? None of this is at all useful to me. Why is it so captivating?

The 'Become a fan' thing on Facebook is somewhat interesting to me. For example, I can become a fan of Linux (which I am) and then everyone who has friended me on Facebook will know that I am a fan of Linux. Again, complete waste of time because everyone I have friended on Facebok, except for childhood friends who I've found again, probably knows I already like Linux. And even if you don't, you can see where I work and probably deduce that I like Linux more than I dislike it.

You can look at my list of Pages and see which ones I have become fans of. I am a fan of Chick-Fil-A, xkcd, Linux, LEGO, They Might Be Giants... the list goes on.

But in order to build a good representation of the type of person you are, I think Facebook should offer a system that is the opposite of becoming a fan of something. I want to build a list of things I hate. On the main page when I see one of my friends become a fan of, say, mayonnaise, I can turn around and add that to my hate list. David hates mayonnaise.

And making a group on Facebook and setting the title to "People who hate George W. Bush" or something stupid like that and then having everyone become a fan of that group is not the same thing as I want. Give me a little link called Hate and put it right under the Become a fan link.

Facebook, please make this happen as it will help me continue to waste time on a daily basis.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Changing Banks and Other

I've been needing a local bank account for a while now. The only checks I write are for rent and the people who get that check really don't like the fact that my checks are drawn on a credit union based in Massachusetts. To me, it doesn't matter. The checks go through and I have a Visa check card and since life takes Visa, I don't care where my money is stored.

I asked our property management company if I could set up an EFT or draft or whatever it's called for rent. They said no and I looked around their office and noticed there only stacks of paper. No computers. No calculators. Not even file cabinets. Just stacks. Nothing modern could be found. I figured they had their ways set in stone, so I wasn't going to push the issue.

On a couple of other occassions, they reminded me that I should have a local bank account for rent and utilities. I guess they have to wait a while for my check to clear and they don't like that. In an effort to stay on their good side, I put a note on my mental to do list to get a Hawaii bank account somewhere. Then I never got around to actually doing it.

Until recently. ING Direct opened a cafe (not a branch) in Waikiki recently and it got me thinking about getting that local account. I went to investigate at the cafe.

The cafe is sort of like a StarBucks and a ING Direct logo store. You cannot do any banking with a person here because ING Direct is all online. They do have free Internet and computers you can use to log in and bank at ingdirect.com. I asked how many people in Hawaii use ING Direct and they said over 25000 just on this island. But it's not a Hawaii bank, obviously. However, much like people here think that Long's is from Hawaii1, people think ING Direct is from Hawaii or either heavily invested in Hawaii. The rent people like it. Haha, fooled them.

So I opened an Orange Savings account and an Electric Orange checking account. Now I just need to get my paychecks to start going there and then get EFTs moved over to there. I didn't stop to think when I was doing all of this: DECEMBER! Worst month to be changing banks. Why didn't I think this through?

And speaking of thinking things through, I need to borrow a place to cut some wood, sand it, and paint it. Maybe a corner of your backyard for some hours? I can offer beer, booze, other drinks, food? This is a problem with living in Waikiki...I have no yard or garage. I know one person in Honolulu with a house and he lives in Ewa and he works on the weekends, so that doesn't really work for me. I also know that Jorge Garcia has a house because he blogs about it a lot, but (a) I don't know him, I only pointed at him at Whole Foods and then blogged about it and (b) I doubt I could use his backyard.

I don't even have a common yard at my condo building I can use! All I want to do is cut a a 14"x16" piece of wood, sand it, and paint it.

Karen and I have not yet gotten our xmas tree, but we have decorated some. More accurately, Karen has decorated and I have observed. But observing is a critical piece of the decorating process.

Oh, and if anyone reading this wants to lend me some space for this random project, please email me rather than posting a comment. Pull up my blogger profile to get my email address. That's the View my complete profile link under my picture on the right.

1 http://archives.starbulletin.com/2008/08/13/business/story01.html

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Car Stuff

Today I got a new safety inspection done on the car because mine expires every December. I also took the opportunity to get an oil change and fluid check done. The last time I had that done was March or something like that.

Most states that do safety inspections or inspections on vehicles tie them to the birth month of the registered owner, much like the vehicle registration. Makes sense because then you just do all the car stuff one month each year. My birth month is March, but my Hawaii inspection expires every December. Why? That's when I got the first inspection done when I moved here. Hawaii inspections are done on all vehicles that operate in the state, even ones not registered in Hawaii (for example, military people can bring their cars here and keep them registered in their official state of residence, but they still have to get a Hawaii vehicle inspection). Because of that, the inspections aren't really tied to anything but themselves. Get one whenever, just every year.

I'm looking at the original inspection paperwork and it says I had 60530 miles (97414 km) on the car when I moved here. When the inspection was done today, the new mileage reading was 62837 (101126 km). That's right, I've only put 2307 miles (3712 km) on the car in the year we've been living in Hawaii.

There's just no where to go. We took the car to Maui and drove the road to Hana. I've driven around the island many times. But most of the driving is around downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.

I think I will be taking the car out more to run it up to full speed, which I can do on H-3, then turn around and come back.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tilted Twister

Probably the coolest thing I've seen built with the Lego Mindstorms NXT set. The builder has posted source code, building instructions, and a 3 minute video of his Tilted Twister solving a Rubik's Cube:



Information is available at tiltedtwister.com.

#fedora-townhall

The last townhall meeting for the Fedora Board elections was held today on #fedora-townhall. It occurred at 5:00 AM in my time zone, which is a bit too early for me to be coherent, so I was not present for that debate.

If anyone has any questions for me, email me or find me on IRC.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fantastic Day For Fedora

Today is one of the most exciting development days for me ever on Fedora. Why?

libdhcp has been removed from the distribution.

It no longer exists. It's a dead.package. Likewise, libdhcp4client and libdhcp6client are gone since they only ever existed for libdhcp. It took too long to get rid of these, but whatever, they are gone now.

Any bugs opened against libdhcp will be marked as CLOSED WONTFIX (because we don't have CLOSED DONTCARE).

That is all.