Worth Checking Out This Checking In

, , , , , | Working | May 30, 2018

(Our particular chain of gas stations developed an app that, in addition to sending you discounts for certain items, allows you to “check in” whenever you are at one of their locations. After a certain number of “check-ins,” you get a code for $2 off a purchase of gas. It works via the GPS on your phone, so you don’t have to actually be AT the store to check in just nearby. Furthermore, while you can only use one discount per transaction, there is no limit to the number of discounted purchases you can make in a day, and no minimum purchase required. We have one customer who is some sort of delivery driver, just driving around all day. He comes in several times a day and asks for $2 in gas, presents his $2 discount code, and drives off with free gas. I ask him about it; he isn’t doing anything technically wrong, but I am curious. He says as he drives around, any time he passes one of our stores, he hits the check-in button, and racks up the $2 discount codes. When he has time to stop, he gets another free $2 worth of gas. This gets me thinking. I live pretty close to another of our stores. I discover I can “check in” from my living room. So, sitting at home at night, watching TV, I check in every 30 minutes or so. Next day, I stop and ask for $2 in gas, pump it, then go back in and ask for another $2, repeat, repeat… As long as they are separate transactions, I’m not breaking any rules. I admit, I am taking advantage of the poor design of the app; somebody didn’t think it through very well. One day I go into work and the manager approaches me.)

Manager: “Are you the one who’s been abusing the app?”

Me: “I’m not abusing it; I’m using the discounts it’s offering me.”

Manager: “Well, you’re not supposed to do that.”

Me: “Why not? The rules, restrictions, and limitations are clearly stated in the user agreement. I’m not violating a single one.”

Manager: “That’s just not how it’s supposed to work.”

Me: “Then the problem is with your app, not your customers.”

(It didn’t take long for the app to be changed to limit the number of discounts and frequency of use… and ultimately they scrapped the whole thing altogether. But at one point, I did go an entire month without paying for gas.)

Branching Into Ridiculousness

, , , , | Working | May 13, 2018

(I’m working on a programming project with my uncle, and we’re using a program which neither of us is very familiar with. The details of how the program works aren’t important, but it involves creating and editing “branches” with different versions of a project.)

Uncle: “Were you able to make that new branch I asked you about?”

Me: “No, I got an error message saying I didn’t have permission. I think you need to invite me to join.”

Uncle: “But then you’d be able to change my branches, too, and I don’t want you to do that. Do you know how to make it so you can only edit certain branches?”

Me: “No, but I’ll research permissions and see what I find out.”

(The next day, he calls back and I walk him through protecting a branch so only he can edit it.)

Me: *after hanging up, to my stepdad* “Did he just delegate, to me, the job of protecting his branches from me?

AdSense Versus No Sense

, , , , , , , | Working | March 13, 2018

A couple years ago, I was tasked with buying advertising space through Google to promote our company’s video-on-demand service. However, after a few days, our ads were suspended, because we had to submit proof that we had the rights to use some intellectual property that belonged to movie studios; our ads featured lots of popular film characters. I told my boss what happened, and suggested we go ahead and get in touch with our contacts at the studios as soon as we could to obtain written proof that we could use the characters, My boss was having none of it. The way he saw it, Google was screwing us over, and my job was to get them to immediately reverse their policy-based decision and run our ads.

Unsurprisingly, I was not successful in doing so, although I had a very productive call with Google. They gave me further information and guidelines about their policy, and told me how to get the situation sorted out as quickly as possible. I told my boss about it, but he said that surely I wasn’t insistent enough, and called me into his office to show me “how it’s done.”

Cue the most cringe-worthy moment of my life, during which I sat in front of my boss while he called the reception desk at Google headquarters and (unsuccessfully) harassed the receptionist for 20 minutes, asking to be put through to Larry Page. When he finally gave up, he just told me to do whatever it takes to get the ads up and running as soon as possible, at which point I just followed Google’s guidelines as instructed. Wouldn’t you know it, the ads were up and running less than a day later.

This was one of many crazy things that happened at that company during the time I worked there. They were a very small outfit, yet they always expected to be treated like one of the giants out there — and spent money they didn’t have, accordingly. I smelled disaster coming and quit just a few months after this, and they went bankrupt less than a year later.

Daytime Soaps Make The Young Restless

, , , , , , , | Friendly | January 21, 2018

(My mum is going deaf. To counter this, she opts to put the TV on max volume. The computer is in the adjacent room, and my friends can clearly hear what my mum is watching through my headset. This is annoying for my friends and me, as we can’t hear ourselves think. Mum has opted to stay over at Granny’s tonight. The following conversation happens via a group text.)

Me: “Hey, guys, come on and play games with me! Let’s teamspeak!”

Friend #1: “No offence, but I don’t want to hear what happens to [Soap Character].”

Me: “My mum isn’t home.” *followed by a series of love-related emojis*

Friend #1: “I’m there!”

Friend #2: “Okay!”

Friend #3: “F*** yes!”

All Paths Lead To A**holes

, , , , , | Related | January 4, 2018

(My mother’s a bit behind the times. She hasn’t long been introduced to the delights of the Internet, but has been sucked into the vortex that is YouTube, with their endless, tempting recommendations. She’s also just got the hang of Skype, but prefers to use the text chat function rather than the phone call. It should be noted that she’s a big fan of the Ice Age movies, having seen them all multiple times with the grandkids. One day she Skypes me and we have the following chat:)

Mother: “You’re not going to believe what I’ve just seen on YouTube! It’s so shocking; I don’t know what to say!”

(She sends me the link. It’s Dennis Leary’s song “A**-hole.”)

Me: “How did you end up at this video from all the ice dancing, gymnastics, and opera you usually watch?”

Mother: “Why would anyone want to be this nasty, and then sing about it?!

Me: “Actually, Mum, I think you’ll find that the song’s an allegory. It’s what Dennis Leary thought about American foreign policy at that time. He’s taking the p***.”

Mother: “I don’t understand how someone as brave and nice and funny as Diego could say things like that.”

Me: “Mum, you can’t be serious. Diego’s not real. Dennis Leary is an actor. He can be an a**hole or he can be Diego; that’s what actors do.”

Mother: “Of course I know that; I’ve just never seen anyone proud of being an a**hole before.”

Me: “Mum, it’s not… You know what? Never mind. Just dial down the YouTube for a while. There’s a whole lot of talk show stuff on there you’ll find quite baffling.”

Mum: “Oh, I’ve seen some of those! I saw Kate Winslet and Stephen Colbert being hilarious and showing how Jack could have fitted on that door in Titanic. That would have been a much better ending to the movie! Although, I did see another video about how it’s not really Titanic that sank in the Atlantic after all; it was a completely different ship—”
Me: “Mum, you’ve been sucked into videos about conspiracy theories. There’s no coming back from those; they’re like a cult. I’m ending this conversation before you start telling me how JFK is alive and well and living on the moon with Princess Diana.”

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