Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Post 2015

Two years ago I posted after reading Chris Kyle's American Sniper. Today I finished watching the Clint Eastwood-directed movie. Today I'll share a few thoughts.

First, there's no way a two hour movie can fully capture the thoughts in the book. And it's rare when a movie captures well the spirit of the source material. The movie here is a heavily abbreviated version of the book's story. It also takes the usual artistic license to embellish the drama, or outright create it where there might not have been any.

Still, Eastwood made this movie knowing things Kyle could not have at the time Kyle wrote his book. The most important one being that Kyle's life would end in early 2013. And this is a powerful tool in story telling. Some writers will tell you that the hardest things to write are the beginnings and endings of a story; with the death of Kyle, Eastwood got built-in ending, and I think he uses it to good effect. Where the book was a slice of Kyle's life, describing some of his youth and life in the military, Eastwood's movie seems more a cautionary tale about war and the different ways it can effect people.

The combat scenes are good, except that I don't remember them being described in much detail in Kyle's book. But it's when Eastwood moves away from the book as scaffolding and fills in the blanks where it picks up it's best points. The movie does a good job replicating the eerie intimacy a sniper has with his targets, being farther away from them yet able to see more through scopes than the troops that are closer.

And when the actors are showing Kyle's estrangement from civilian life when he returns home, they're giving us something Kyle, who rarely comes across in his book as anything other than calm and in control, could probably not share as well as his wife could.

There's also something clever done as each of Kyle's tours is introduced. The equipment shown evolves with the passage of time. Early on we see Hummers, by the end, we see MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush protected) trucks and drones.

Unfortunately, it's when the movie casually tries to keep itself tied to the book that it falls. Kyle wrote with conviction about his friendships and his love for his fellow soldiers. The movie doesn't really bring into focus any of the peripheral characters. Even if they weren't made of cardboard we see so little of them that we don't really develop any affinity. Some film critics felt this same way about Kyle's wife, Taya, but I thought the actress did pretty well here with the moments she was given.

Aside from the biographical value of the film, I think the best message to be taken from the film is that war affects people in many ways. Sebastian Junger's book, War, also talks about this. Although PTSD is a more common term now, we're still learning a lot about it and how to deal with it.

One of the reviews I read said that although the film, like Kyle's book, is wrapped largely in jingoistic gloss, it is slyly also a an anti-war movie. "Slyly"? If you need a movie to convince you war is a terrible thing, you're an idiot. But aside from that, there are indeed a couple moments where I thought Eastwood challenged some of Kyle's beliefs. In his book, Kyle is proud to be a redneck of the "god, country, and family" philosophy, and this is mentioned too in the movie. But there is a quick scene where a more pensive teammate questions the US efforts. And I like the way it was portrayed; the actor doesn't spout off some speech written by some liberal ivory tower resident. Instead, when Kyle tells him the enemy is savage and evil, he simply responds with a non-committal, "Ok." And the delivery of his response was perfect, seeing it in print can't do it justice. It was said in a resigned tone, as if he knew he wasn't going to change Kyle's mind but also that while some of what Kyle said was true he had doubts about the US approach.

The movie finishes on the note that it should. In the same way that Unforgiven refused to revel in the act of killing, American Sniper ends quietly, with images that are respectful and yet deeply somber.

Friday, May 08, 2015

A TrueCar Experience

I'm deviating from my normal subjects to share an experience that might be useful for some people. I purchased a car through TrueCar and this is my review of the experience. When discussing the auto industry, I don't know how you can fully relate the experience without some profanity, so if you can't hack some colorful language, please don't read this.


Let me start first by saying I don't expect a business to run at a loss. But don't take advantage of my decency, and also don't blame me for the car buying model which has been around since before I was born and has a history of controversy. The salespeople that complain about consumer attitudes are sort of like the shyster lawyers that complain about the way they're treated...you guys are sleeping in the beds you made.

The Old Way

Buying my first car, back in 1990, was a grueling experience. Visiting dealership after dealership I endured a litany of lies and deceit. The process was almost the same at all of them. I would go in, get a test drive, then get pounded on sometimes for hours while we talked about a price. Then I would get frustrated and leave, without a car.

Then I would later see the same car I wanted advertised in a dealership newspaper ad for the same price I originally said I could pay.

In other words, car sales folk are right up there with lawyers when it comes to being lying sacks of shit (not all of them, but a high percentage of the ones I dealt with...maybe I just got unlucky and didn't get to work with all you angelic sales people out there). I'm sure most of us have heard these great lines:
  • We really want to see you in that car
  • I really want to be your salesman
  • That car won't be here next week, you have to buy it today
  • I can't sell it for that, but we're not far from a deal
  • Boy, this is your lucky day
  • I'll run it by my manager
  • Have you heard of rust proofing?
  • I'm losing money on this deal

 

The Three Battles

When you buy a car, you are potentially engaging in a three stage war, where some or all of the following apply:
  • The price of the vehicle being purchased
  • The value of the trade-in
  • Financing/warranties

The New Way

Thanks to the Internet, the average consumer can go into battle better prepared. There are many resources to help you not only find a good vehicle but that can provide information on pricing of both new and used vehicles and the current interest rates. But it doesn't solve everything; not until you can configure and buy off the internet and get a fair value on trade-in all via the online shopping basket will it ever fully remove the dirty human element.

But even though my recent experiences with buying a car are still disappointing in ways, I think it is an improvement. And TrueCar is a big part of that, essentially taking the pain out of the first battle. You identify and configure the car you are interested in at the TrueCar site, then get to decide which dealers you will send your data to (my favorite part, because you can pre-screen out dealerships that are too far away or that aren't in your price range), and then engage those dealers.

TrueCar wasn't the first to recognize that people didn't enjoy the hours-long pounding they were taking in car salesmen's offices. GM's Saturn line sold cars with a firm sticker price. And dealerships like Texas Direct Auto and CarMax work with no-haggle pricing you can see over the Internet.

The Verdict

TrueCar did its part well for me in my last purchasing experience. I got a quote in advance from a participating dealership that was honored without argument. Note that the initial quote you get from TrueCar may not be fully accurate, and TrueCar also puts language on your quote saying it is an estimate. If the dealership doesn't have an exact match for your configuration, you may get an alternative of the same trim that has some different options, and you will pay for those options, but your sales person should be able to send you that updated TrueCar quote via email before you even visit the dealership.

So if TrueCar's goal was to save me the headache of the first battle, it succeeded. If its goal was to bring more transparency into the auto buying process...well, that's debatable. Car dealerships are still sleazy and still try to go cheap on your trade-in and still try to push an extended warranty at an inflated price until you say you're not interested and then they'll cut the price on it so deeply it's practically an insult.

There's also the whole debate over what a dealer's cost really is. Between discounts for volume buyers, dealer holdbacks, and other corporate incentives, there are still many unknowns in the car sales game...well, unknowns to you, that is. In fact, TrueCar has evolved over time and is different today than it was a couple years ago when it used to list the dealer cost in its quotes. There are some great articles online about the trouble this caused it with dealerships (at Forbes.com, Inc.com, and Slate.com) and how the company has since modified how it operates.

My salesman actually showed me a dealer invoice slip that indicated my TrueCar price was several hundred dollars below dealer invoice, but you know, with PowerPoint I can balance the US budget too, so I'm not putting much stock in that. The finance guy said the dealership was losing $3000 on my purchase, but the TrueCar price was $3000 below the MSRP, not the dealer invoice, so one or both of them are likely, ahem, exaggerating. If they were indeed losing money on the deal, the only logical reasons for it I could think of were 1) they weren't losing much and 2) I bought a 2015 model not long before the 2016 models would show up, so they wanted to move inventory or 3) they really weren't losing money (the Inc.com link in the last paragraph notes that after TrueCar changed its approach, dealership gains on a vehicle sale increased). Either way, I had nothing to do with that price, it was determined by TrueCar (or TrueCar and the dealership together), so the dealership complaining to me about the price is silly.

Ultimately, while I'm no fan of lying salesmen, I do not think anyone should work for free, so I'm ok with TrueCar trying to quote a price that's fair to both parties. And again, it really did save me the hassles normally associated with the first battle.

Other Voices

If you do a little looking around on the Internet you'll find other testimonials and opinions of TrueCar (tons actually and mostly negative, at ReviewOpedia.com, hackingthebank.com, highya.com, and carbuying.jalopnik.com [very useful review] among others).
 
One bit of feedback that made sense to me was from a guy that said you can get a better price than the TrueCar quote if you're willing to fight. In this way I suspect TrueCar prices are like CarMax prices: you could do better, but then, you'd have to wear body armor and bring brass knuckles to the dealership. I don't have time for that, but it's interesting to note that essentially what's happening is you're paying a TrueCar fee for the convenience of not getting kicked in the balls all afternoon long. Whether that's worth it to you or not is really up to you.

I also don't have time for haggling over the trade-in. Every dealership I've ever been to except CarMax will always lowball you. You have to fight them though. At least get their second or third offer. You might ask, "Why don't you just sell your car to CarMax?" Because if I can get a decent offer on the trade-in, I like the tax savings it gives on the new car by essentially lowering the sales price, and the dealership will handle the necessary paperwork. And although I could work around it, I also like the convenience of driving myself over in the old car and swapping it for the new one and not having to drive down in two cars or have a friend drive you or whatever you end up doing. Of course, if you can sell your old car for thousands more somewhere else, then go for it because that should be better than the tax savings.

Another concern voiced about TrueCar is that there may be collusion with some dealerships. I don't know if this is true but since there are some veils up in the background that I can't see past, there could be something to it. My salesman mentioned that his dealership has a good relationship with TrueCar and they sell a lot of cars through TrueCar. That doesn't mean there's anything illegal going on, but take that as you will.

Some testimonials also claim that not all dealerships will honor the TrueCar quote as well as mine did. In the end all you as the consumer can do is recognize that knowledge is power and use every tool you can to be educated about purchasing. For me, it worked well enough that TrueCar will remain in my toolbox.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Synology hacked by bitcoin miners?

More Fun with the Diskstation

After I'd made several posts in the past about my adventures hacking the Synology Diskstation, I got away from messing with the device due to several factors. First, I've been dealing with family issues that were more urgent and important than the device. Second, the client I was working with developed a different method for backing up their files so I didn't need to perform the remote backups anymore. 

A year later, I logged into the Diskstation to check on updates, as I'd not run any in a while. Synology updates the DSM software frequently and the update option in the control panel usually finds a new version. This time, there was no indication there was a new version available. This was very strange since I left my version, 4.2-3211 out of date on purpose due to bugs encountered in subsequent releases.

I then went to the Synology website and found that I was indeed several versions behind that the DSM software was up to version 5. I figured that perhaps my tinkering with the Diskstation caused a problem with the update. Or perhaps the Synology guys had read some of my posts and said, "Ok, we'll make sure your device is dropped from notifications. No updates for you!" 

Not a problem! The Synology site has a download page where you can get the update file and then manually update your device. But when I tried to perform the manual update I got an error saying "Field value is invalid". Those Synology guys must have really hated my posts, right?

The reality is much worse. The Internet is filled with pinheads. Crafty tech-savvy pinheads. There was an exploit from some hackers that found Diskstations and put processes on them to turn the servers into zombies doing mining/farming work for bitcoins. Older versions of the DSM software are vulnerable, and one of the signs of this is that it breaks the automatic update capability. 

Thank goodness the Internet is also filled with crafty good people. I found a post [Arinium Blog] at Arinium Blog that discussed the same issue I had. The fellow there had the same version of the DSM and was having trouble upgrading. He did not identify the hack as being the issue, but he successfully identified there was a problem with 4.2-3211 and that upgrading manually to 5 wasn't working. His solution was to tinker a bit and go to 4.3 before going to 5.

The bitcoin hack is referenced in the comments section of the post. One of the responses references a dialog with Synology where the exploit is noted. The Synology support team suggests two options:

  1. Shut down the Diskstation. Pull out the hard drive, replace with a single spare hard drive, and then update the DSM. When finished, shut down the Diskstation again, reinstall the original hard drives, then start up. 
  2. The other way is to reinstall the DSM software. There is a link in the post to instructions on how to do this. 
I didn't like Option 1 since it was a bit of hassle, getting a spare hard drive and messing with taking the existing drives out. Option 2 involves a mildly arcane exercise of pressing the reset button on the back of the Diskstation, then doing it again within 10 seconds and then doing some checks after logging into the station.

I instead did something else:
  • Download the oldest version of the DSM 4.3 (in my case 4.3-3776)
  • Download the latest version of DSM 5 
  • Manually update to 4.3
  • In my case, the Diskstation behaved a little oddly, like it wasn't taking the update, but then it rebooted on its own and came back with DSM 4.3 so it must have worked
  • I then manually updated the Diskstation to DSM 5
This all seemed to work at successfully updating the DSM software, but it did reset a number of settings. I had to reinstall several of the applications like Audio Station and I had to reapply DDNS settings. I'm still working to configure some things. And I'm noticing so far that my old nemesis, the Diskstation's refusal to sleep, has returned. But reviewing the process monitor shows the new version of Audio Station is running the indexing process on the media files, so perhaps this will pass when it is done.

Your mileage may vary depending on how badly your system was compromised. Some of the posts indicate people had to do more tinkering to get things straight again, but I'm glad I was able to fix it without having to fiddle with hard drives.

In any event, a big "thank you" goes out to Ari, of the Arinium Blog for his post. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Annual Memorial Day Post 2014: When the Truth is the Casualty, it Hurts Everyone

This is a day to remember our veterans and fallen heroes. The one I mourn the most for is a warrior we often forget, not just in the military or in IT but in all life. This warrior's name is Truth.

The truth is a simple but beautiful thing, if you allow yourself to accept it. It is the understanding of something with complete clarity, totally free of bias. It's something that is not subject to argument, it does not take sides, it brings us answers and as the old adage says, it sets us free.

Such a wonderful thing should be revered, even cherished. We humans instead fear the truth. We bury it under our weighty bureaucracies of politics and pettiness. We worry about the burden of individual accountability it brings and we spent more energy deflecting the truth than it would take to accept blame and issue a reparation for a mistake. We've turned lying into an art, an art that in some professions is lucrative.

There's an affliction of lying that's pervasive in human culture. It's probably older than prostitution, but I often use that convenient scapegoat of the Vietnam Conflict as a recognizable symbol to describe it. It was common in Vietnam for American "leaders" to only want to pass good news up the chain rather than the truth. No one wanted to lose a job, so they kept telling their bosses, "Everything is good." Tangible things like body counts became the superficial manifestations of managerial dog treats.

Does that sound familiar? If you work in any modern company, it probably does. In Vietnam, the cost of such institutionalized lying was a meager sixty thousand American and countless more Vietnamese lives. In Corporate America, the cost is a numbing level of inefficiency. I see it in every company I've ever worked for or dealt with. It's not that companies can't be profitable even with the inefficiency. Many are. They have to be to survive. But they could be so much better. Responding sensibly to the truth would improve many lives and jobs.

It appears however that we will be unable to overcome our fear of the truth. Our politicians continue to come across like a bumbling litany of clowns and in our companies I rarely see "leadership" serious about identifying real opportunities to improve and engage trans-formative measures. Serving clients and workers becomes less important than protecting management. What a shame. This is how we use the freedom our veterans died for?

I can understand why people fear the truth. Another old adage says, "The truth hurts." But it hurts because it scrubs away the fester left by lies. We can give lip service to our fallen troops until the end of time, but when do we make moves to be better than we are, to make a society that would truly honor them?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Second Thoughts on Having a Personal NAS

A year ago I finally took the plunge and joined Amazon Prime. What a happy prison it is. Good discounts, fast shipping, and lots of incentives to buy an Amazon Kindle tablet. But that's not really what I wanted to write about. It's fallout from being in the happy prison that has caused me to question whether my approach to having a personal NAS is a good idea.

So here's what's happening: I'm now buying a lot of ebooks from Amazon. I've got a Nook HD+ tablet so I also buy them from Barnes and Noble. I also have found my way on to some nice free ebook mailings. And I have digital magazines on Zinio. And comics on Comixology. And more ebooks on Steam, and some on Humble Bundle, and some more from Groupees and still more on BundleHunt. I also have a few loose ebooks on my local drive, managed by Calibre.

Do you begin to see the problem? In a world where technology is supposed to make life easier, I now have several more accounts and passwords to remember, and the sad truth is I'm probably not going to read but half of those ebooks, and that's being optimistic.

"So wait," you ask, "isn't this exactly why you got the NAS? To put all that content in one place and be able to access it from any device?" Well, sort of. The effort involved in transformation of that data from the commercial cloud to my personal cloud is sort of a pain in the ass. It's more effort than memorizing ten passwords.

When I use Amazon's cloud service for storing my MP3's or Microsoft's SkyDrive or DropBox for a commercially provided network storage, it's really convenient. Security, infrastructure, capacity and maintenance are all someone else's problem. I do get the point of the personal NAS: I have full control of my content and if Amazon goes out of business (unlikely) or Microsoft decides to pull the plug on SkyDrive or change it into something else (less unlikely) then my content is still safe on my own hardware. Not to mention that if any of the data is sensitive such as client information, it's better on my own device than on someone else's.

But for non-sensitive materials, I'm not sure having a personal NAS is really that big a deal. I love the Synology Diskstation I have, but it wasn't free. And it's not free to maintain, although as you've learned from my last several entries, harnessing additional functionality was really cool.

I think what I need is for someone to write a consolidation app that pulls all of this together. In the meantime, I've got a Frankenstein of a storage approach. And you know what? Even with all their problems, the happy prisons that Amazon and Steam give me for all those books, music, and games are awfully comfortable and I'm glad to have them.

The Best Bonus I Ever Got

I know I complain a lot on the blog about IT management. Well, in my opinion, IT management asks for it. Just like lawyers do when they send our society on a downward spiral to hell on riptides of lies and blame deflection.

But this post will be different. I promise. Today, I'll talk about the extra bits of cash compensation employees get outside of their base salaries. These have been far and few between in my career, so maybe this will also get to be a blessedly short post. Apologies again in advance, for some salty language that might follow.

The first bonus I got didn't come until about five years into my career. A lot of that had to do with the crappy company I worked for, but a lot also had to do with me being an inexperienced and poorly managed resource. Anyway, it was a day cruise given to my team for working hard. I appreciate the gesture, but it was on the lame side as rewards go. And I didn't like how only half the team got to go and in retrospect consider this a managerial mistake. Some of the newer team members weren't included (in what I would bet was a cost-cutting move). I felt that was not a smart way to handle team morale in an effort about raising team morale. But it's the thought that counts, so I count it as a bonus even though it sucked in more ways than one. Shit, sorry, I was supposed to be positive in this post. I'll try harder on the next paragraph.

The next bonus was much better. It came in my sixth year with my first company. I had moved to a new, smaller, team and I was doing a much better job of being useful as I'd become more experienced. I also had a more laid-back supervisor and a pretty reasonable manager. My team received an end-of-year bonus of about three thousand dollars. Not enough to buy and island and retire, but nothing to sneeze at either. What is so damn goofy is that I worked less hard for that bonus than I did for the day cruise.

I switched to contracting for a while and bonuses are typically not part of the compensation structure for hourly employees, so there's nothing to report until I switched back to full-time work about 1999. Then I got a variety of bonuses. An annual performance bonus could be between two thousand to five thousand dollars. A spot performance bonus I got was three hundred dollars.

I bounced back and forth between full-time and contracting for a while after that but didn't get another bonus until I was again full time and had a manager that appreciated my work. I killed myself for more than a year straight of overtime and got a spot bonus of a thousand dollars.

I think it's fair at this point to note some lessons I've learned about bonuses. Your experience may be different. In fact, I hope it is. I hope you've done significantly better.
  • Bonuses are usually but not necessarily tied to company profitability
  • Bonuses are highly dependent on your immediate superiors and their superiors
  • Bonuses are a very subjective thing.
    • At one company I got almost no bonuses until the end, and I was working less hard than I did in the earlier years. Some employees told me of bonuses they got for putting in a mere hour of overtime. Now that's the kind of consistency that earns employee trust!
    • At another company, bonuses sometimes came with formal recognition in the form of "President's Awards" or "Outstanding Performance Awards". These were REALLY ridiculous. It's not that some of the people getting them didn't deserve them. The problem was that the significance of the achievements earning these awards were all over the map. Some people got them for working hard on a specific important project, even though the teams on that project might have had several deserving people. Or two people might get awards for working on different projects, even though one was a multiple month or multiple year effort and the other was a one week commitment. It all came down to who had the manager that liked them, and in the end, I think this hurts morale more than it helps. Getting no recognition really hurts when you give your heart and soul for a long time and when you really make a difference. I'm not sure what the answer is for this bullshit though because for the people that deserve it, it is nice to see them get something.
  • Don't depend on bonuses. They're not guaranteed. Hold their feet to the fire in salary negotiations. If you get a bonus, great, but either way you will get the salary.
  • IT shops are pretty barren when it comes to bonuses especially when the company treats IT like a cost center. For sales and a few other divisions, bonuses may be a more legitimate part of the compensation structure.
  • If you want to work in IT and get bonuses, find IT shops in companies where an annual bonus is universal to the pay structure. For example, one of my clients was a trading firm, and everyone, even IT, got significant bonuses (like 20-40% of the salary, a concept that is completely alien to me!).
So which of the bonuses above was the best one? I am thankful for them all, but the answer is, "none". The best one didn't come from management, it came from my users. One of my clients had a legacy system that had (and still has) a terrible user interface. They were suffering greatly on having to enter data one row at a time, spending multiple man-days of effort each month. I added a simple import capability so they could massage their data in Excel and then import it through cutting and pasting. Did it work? A few weeks after the feature went live, I got this from them:

That's right: a modest $25 gift card, for a place that makes food that's mostly not on my diet. It's the best bonus I ever got. Why? Because as Jeff Atwood would say, it showed that people were using my software. It showed that my work improved lives. What makes this bonus great is not even the $25, but the kind comments from my users on the card it came with. 

Now I'm sure there are managers looking at this and saying, "Gee what an asshole that Bernard is. How could that meaningless shit be worth more to him than a thousand dollars?" Man, if you're a manager saying that right now, I pity you. You have completely missed the boat on how to do your job and how to be a leader. And I pity even more your subordinates.

Oh shit, I'm supposed to be positive! Ah, ok, well, I took the card and had a nice date with my wife, eating wings before a movie.

And for any overly literal pinheads reading this, no, this doesn't mean I don't appreciate monetary bonuses. But really, this kind of recognition is truly special and particular to software developers in the same way that a compliment to a chef or an artist means as much emotionally as the money. The chef gets a paycheck either way, but if he knows his clients were enriched by his cooking, he has a sense of purpose fulfilled. And this really is where IT management really needs to get a better understanding of how technical people respond to feedback.

We really don't give a shit if you praise us for good attendance or being on time to meetings. We do like pizza, but throwing a pizza party isn't really doing much for morale. When you use metrics like how many SOX audits we passed or how little we were penalized for dress code violations, you're just drawing attention to the parts of the job that suck. 


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Craftsmanship is Dead

Sorry in advance for the negativity but I just encountered something that has really pissed me off. Also, apologies in advance for salty language, but what I'm about to show you doesn't deserve professionalism. Again: WARNING, FOUL LANGUAGE FOLLOWS.

I complain about software developers misunderstanding their job as "easy" mostly because they're lazy bums that don't want to do a complete job. But developers aren't the only half-assing bastards out there.

I'm still living in my first home and I am regularly appalled at the shortcuts I've seen the builders take in making this house. There are places where the most fundamental of building constructs, the 90 DEGREE RIGHT ANGLE, were built incorrectly. Good grief, how stupid do you have to be to mess up a right angle?

When I look in the attic, it's just a head-smacking collection of hacks and patches. And I paid money for this?

Yesterday I replaced a garbage disposal unit that went bad after 14 years. This Whirlaway 191 1/3 horsepower unit is not what pissed me off. It was dirty but 14 years in a day when everything is disposable is not bad, and really it was just one of the blades that went bad, the rest of the unit probably could have soldiered on a couple more years.

But the part that got me was when I went to remove the existing power cable so I could transition it to a replacement Whirlaway 291. The power cable's ground wire had not been fastened to the ground screw on the old unit. Wow. Really? The guy that installed this was that lazy? He just cut the ground wire so it wouldn't be in the way, connected the other two wires, and plugged it in. Not a care in the world about any possible power surge or electrocution. Fucking asshole!

And it gets better! When I took a look at the plug to verify the larger prong so I could trace it back to the exposed wire and connect it to the proper wire PER INSTRUCTIONS, this is what I find:

Yep. Take a close look at those prongs. Just look at it. Yes, that's right, the lazy fucker filed them down so he wouldn't have to worry about whether he had the right wires connected. FUCK ME. I thought this kind of bullshit was supposed to exist only in the realm of Tim Allen jokes.

Yeah, I know, there are dozens of professional electricians out there that will say, "Oh, you're making too much of a big deal about it. This is low voltage bullshit that won't hurt anyone."

Except...THIS ISN'T ABOUT VOLTAGE. This is about doing a COMPLETE, THOROUGH and CORRECT job! This is about the simple task of following instructions handed down by the professionals that made the garbage disposal unit. Was it really that hard that the contractors couldn't do it right? Would it really have taken that much longer to do it to specifications? To be, oh, I don't know...SAFE?

Here's the kicker...the guy that did this is not just lazy, he's stupid too. Because he didn't file down the ground prong, filing down the other prongs doesn't make a difference...the ground prong forces you to put the plug into the socket correctly. So I'm left to think this guy filed down the prongs out of habit.

It turns out the wires were connected correctly, but the evidence points to this being a stroke of luck rather than the product of professionalism and preparedness.

Holy shit. I paid for this shit. This entire thing is just fucking embarrassing. It brings me such comfort to know this house was at least partially built by zombies.

You know, in the past I've withheld names to protect the not-so-innocent. But I can't take it anymore. The only thing that will make me feel better is the truth. I bought this house from PULTE, owned by BILL PULTE, a so-called MASTER BUILDER. The fact is that Bill Pulte never touched my house, it was one of the thousands of contractors he's got working for him that he's never even met (decision-consequence gap, bitches!). So there you go. When you're looking at houses, remember what I told you. But I wouldn't be surprised if other builders were cutting corners too.

CRAFTSMANSHIP IS DEAD.