Sunday, May 11, 2014

City of Atlanta Sued Over Use of Watershed Department "Secret" Billing

From the Fulton County Daily Report. May 2, 2014:
Lawyers this week filed a potential class action against the city of Atlanta, claiming the city illegally charges its own Department of Watershed Management to use the city's infrastructure—payments that are passed to customers as "secret" bills that are essentially extra taxes.
The money goes to the city's general fund, according to city records attached to the case filed in Fulton County Superior Court.
"The Franchise Fee Ordinance is illegal, because under Georgia general law and the City of Atlanta Charter, the city of Atlanta may not charge a franchise fee against its own publicly owned water department as if Watershed Management was a separate, private, third-party utility such as AT&T or Comcast," says the suit.
It was brought Wednesday for two property owners by former Court of Appeals Judge Irwin W. Stolz Jr., James W. Hurt, Robert D. Feagin and John F. Woodham. Hurt, of Hurt Stolz, is listed as the lead counsel.
City attorneys would not comment on the case because the lawsuit has not been served, said city spokesman Carlos Campos.
The plaintiffs' lawyers have successfully challenged the city in other areas. Stolz and Feagin beat the city in long-running litigation about the city's former occupational tax. The lawyers' suit, which reached the Georgia Supreme Court on appeal by the city, resulted in a ruling that the tax was an unconstitutional precondition to practicing law. They won $6.1 million in attorney fees, or one-third of the $18.3 million in refunds for attorneys who paid the tax.
Woodham, in a one-man challenge, stopped the city of Atlanta from using public school bond revenue for the Beltline project. The project, which is underway, is a planned 22-mile loop through the city. That case too went to the state Supreme Court. The justices ruled that using $900 million in school bonds violated a constitutional provision that school funds can only be used as "necessary or incidental" to public education.
Woodham entered a new fray with the city in February when he filed a motion to intervene in the $278 million bond issue intended to fund construction for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. Woodham and former Fulton Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore represent a group of pastors and residents of the area where the stadium is to be built. 
The lead plaintiffs, two property owners in Atlanta, ask for the fees to be eliminated and seek a $58.8 million refund of the charges, which they say started in 2009, plus attorney fees.
The suit says that in addition to charging Watershed Management franchise fees for using the city's water pipes and rights-of-way, the city also demands payment in lieu of taxes for the use of pumping stations, water production plants and sewage treatment plants.
The suit says of the payment in lieu of taxes, commonly known as PILOT, that the "City of Atlanta has no authority under state statute, local law, the city of Atlanta charter, or the Constitution of the state of Georgia to assess a fee constituting 'payment in lieu of taxes,' against its own tax exempt property, operated by one of its own departments."
One of the laws the plaintiffs cite to support their case, O.C.G.A. § 36-35-3, says municipalities cannot take "action adopting any form of taxation beyond that authorized by law or by the Constitution." The suit maintains the franchise fees and PILOT charges are illegal taxes.
City of Atlanta documents attached to the lawsuit show both sets of fees were voted into ordinance in 1998. They went into effect in 2009, according to the suit. The ordinances cite other cities that apparently have the same fee structures in place, including Dallas, Los Angeles, Memphis and Philadelphia.
The case is Steven J. Newton, SJN Properties and Freda M. Stokley v. City of Atlanta, No. 2014CV245692. Judge Robert McBurney is assigned the case.

Read more (Requires a Subscription) http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202653552018/Atlanta-is-Sued-Over-'Secret'-Water-Fees?slreturn=20140411135620#ixzz31QgEtDoW

Friday, May 24, 2013

Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T Internet Services

Share! Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T Internet Services http://j.mp/attfraud

AT&T is engaging in some "Gotcha Capitalism" and since they are lying to me, it has become a point of honor to pursue the matter. 

In these matters, if everyone just accepts their activities, then they will persist and expand their activities accordingly. Since I am well versed in Internet technology and procurement of Internet service, it falls to me to pursue this, since most people would never recognize until later, if at all, that they had been lied to. And since the amounts are relatively insignificant, there would not be a lot of will for customers to pursue the matter. If the customer is are non-technical, how could they even argue their case with AT&T, much less concisely express what transpired in such a way that would motivate AT&T to redress or compel an attorney to champion the issue? 

The good news is that most of the time devoted to writing this letter, I was stuck on hold with their company, and so otherwise incapable of performing other tasks, besides taking detailed notes about the call. 

I have drafted a "transcript" of the calls with their company to resolve the matter. I have summarized the long format, attached, here in this letter. 

At the minimum, I am lodging a complaint with the FCC and with the Ga PSC. I also think it may fall into the purview of the FTC, FBI, State Attorney General's office, and perhaps even the State House Technology Committee (sic). 

What do you recommend?




Dear FCC, FBI IC3, Georgia PSC, FTC, and Georgia House of Representatives Science &Technology Committee,



I would like to bring to your attention an instance of Intentional Fraud and "Bait & Switch" by AT&T.

The call centers are located in multiple states, so this issue will fall under the purview of Federal authorities, in addition to the State of Georgia.

They refused to reverse the transaction, or to make good on the terms they offered, and have forced me to accept something different from what I originally purchased.

I have a claim for Bait and Switch, since what I purchased is not what I was told I was buying.


I was not allowed to return the product to restore myself before they misrepresented the purchase. 


This amounts to intentional fraud and misrepresentation.

Claim Summary : 
I was sold an upgrade to my existing aDSL line from 1.5mbs to 6.0mbs for an additional $10 per month on my statement.The account had not been modified since  since 2005 or 2006.
AT&T changed the amount such that the actual increase was $25 per month higher.

There had been an ongoing $15 credit applied monthly to my Internet billing. This had been offered as an incentive to win my business from Earthlink. This discount did not have an expiration.

After receipt of the next monthly bill,  I discovered the $15 monthly credit was removed from the account during the upgrade.

Then, AT&T used intimidation and threatened to bill me retroactively for the $15 monthly credit  since they argued there should never have been an ongoing discount with no expiry.


I offered two forms of resolution. They could either restore my account to it's status prior to the change, or they could honor the bargain I was told during the sale, that the discount would continue as it had done. They refused both alternatives.

Ultimately, AT&T did replace a $15 monthly credit to the account, but this $15 monthly credit will expire 12 months from the date of the call with AT&T. The original $15 monthly credit did not expire. These are very different discounts. I informed them of my intention to lodge this complaint despite this attempt, since what they are offering is not substantively what they represented at the time of sale.

On May 24th, I discovered the account was additionally limited by a 150gb per month data usage cap. Usage over 150gb/month are billed at $10 for each 50gb.

My original DSL account did not have a cap on the plan. The CSR pitched the uVerse products as an alternative to DSL. I had seen in fine print that uVerse had a data cap of 250gb. She confirmed this. She also confirmed that my DSL did NOT have a cap. Therefore, I proceeded with the upgrade transaction.

During our call with AT&T on May 24th, 2013, the company refused to remove the cap from my Internet account. They refused again to restore me to my old plan before I was intentionally duped into buying the new plan.




Full Story:  A few weeks ago on April 11th, 2013, I contacted AT&T to explore various options for my account, including the following: to increase the speed of my DSL line, remove the Landline and enable a "naked" DSL line, or simply cancel the account and move to another service provider.

Years ago, BellSouth issued a standing discount to my bill that amounts to a $15 a month discount off the DSL line. This was to win my business from Earthlink, who had botched my account so severely that they lost my business though I was Mindspring Customer #224, yeah that far back. The discount extended by BellSouth was not a limited time discount associated with a bundle or a contract. The discount has been on my account for around nearly 5 years.

During the call a few weeks ago, I was told that the discount could not be offered if I dropped the landline to select a "Naked" DSL plan. Instead, she could increase my line speed to 6.0 for an additional $10 per month on my plan, implying the discount would remain, since normally the increase should $25 per month for the enhanced services I was purchasing.

Last night, I received the latest bill since the changes were made. The bill was dramatically higher. The DSL portion of the bill increased by approximately $25. Upon closer scrutiny, I noticed that the Discount had been removed.

This afternoon, Today, May 6, 2013, I contacted AT&T to address the discrepancy with my billing where upon I reached with Joy in the Chicago business office. She stated the Customer Retention department extended the offer and made the changes, so they would have to service my inquiry. She dropped the call in an attempt to transfer me, after 15 minutes on hold.

I called back, and started the process from scratch with  Miss Johnson in Nashville TN who is in the Customer Relations Department. She stated thatAT&T no longer offers these bundle discounts. Furthermore, the discount I was enjoying was for only for a limited time.

I stated this was not the case and that the discount had been on my account for several years, and was not associated with a bundle, package, or limited in any way in terms of duration, nor has it ever been renewed, since it never expired.

She then offered to restore a discount in the equivalent amount, but that it would be for a limited time. I then replied that I would like my account restored in terms of the plan and the discounts to how it was configured before their department changed it a few weeks ago.

She denied this possibility, stating that she could not honor what had been offered since the original discount had expired. I explained again, that the discount had no expiry, and was in full force and effect when I called a few weeks ago and approved the upgrade to a faster line for $10 more per month. I also indicated that at this point I would need to draft a complaint to the FCC for Slamming and Misrepresentation. She then put me on hold for 33 minutes while she sought the authority of a person in "Leadership", which must be a new corporate euphemism for her manager or supervisor.

After around 30 minutes on hold awaiting someone from a HIgher Authority to intervene, she came back and said, "If I had a way I would it but I can't restore your account to the way it was. That discount should only have endured for 6 months.  But, we are not going to go back and charge you for all that time you should not have the discount." Not only was the discount not limited to a specific time frame as she alleges, but she also applied intimidation by saying they could go back and bill me for all that time, but they are going to be nice and not go back and do so, which is how I heard it when she said "we are not going to go back and charge you for all that time you should not have the discount.".

Over the past several years since the discount has been applied, I have had several instances of contact with BellSouth and AT&T to revisit my services and review any new offerings they may have available. At no point was I told that the discount had an expiration. I was told on multiple occasions that if I made changes to the account the discount would end, and therefore I refrained from taking any upgrades. However, when I approved the upgrade changes a few weeks ago, I did confirm with AT&T that the discount would persist on my account as it always had.

Heather Team Lead Customer Relations Nashville joined the call after 33 minutes of hold time. I read this entire letter to her. She offered to apply a credit for the discount to my bill, but 'the discount would expire after 12 months and that I would need to sign a contract with them to even get the discount.'

I replied saying that "This is not all acceptable. I was offered a enhanced DSL service for $10 more a month. I made sure the representative was aware of the nature of the standing discount, and that I did not want to change the account if the discount would end. Furthermore, she agreed to this discussion, and never made any mention of the discount going away, an expiration date applying to the discount, or that I would need a contract to enjoy the discount.All that was said was that I would have my DSL line speed to 6.0 for an additional $10 per month. If you are unable to honor what your company represented, then I will have to proceed with the complaints, as well as publishing this complaint via Social Media to a wide and public audience, since this amount to lying to your customers, and perhaps could be classified as Slamming, since we are being placed into a new and more expensive plan without agreeing to the terms that were originally offered to us."

She then had to get DSL Rentention to go to work re-establishing the discount. This portion of the call took another _____. She would come back with periodic updates, one of which was that the DSL team was being blocked by their own system from re-establishing the discount, and they were seeking out their Team Lead to proceed past that point.

Ultimately, they claimed to be unable to honor the deal that was originally offered, a DSL line speed increase for $10 additional to my account without an expiration to the discount or a contract.

Team Lead Heather eventually gave me a $46.40 credit to offset the removed discounts back to the time of the change to my account, a 50% line discount with no contract for six months, and an $8 per month discount to my land line for twelve months.

I said that while this is a step in the right direction, this remedy neither restores me to where I was before the changes were made to my account, nor provide me the terms of the agreement that were made when I was sold the upgraded service. So in either case, I told her that I accept these for the time being, but they do not constitute a conclusion to the claim I am making.

The entire call lasted around two hours.

Fri May 24th 2013: In regards to an email notification that I had exceeded my 150GB data cap, I contacted AT&T Billing at 1-800-288-2020. I reached a CSR named Termina, and recounted the entirety of this letter, and inquired as to why I was never informed a data cap would be placed on my account when I switch to the 6.0 DSL. She was cordial and helpful, but otherwise unable to personally resolve this issue. Hitherto, my prior 1.5 DSL plan did not have a data cap. She put me in touch with the Technical Department, but the Tech CSR dropped the call. Termina was still on the line, and shared that the Tech CSR had expressed a negative attitude and was otherwise unwilling to help, and was therefore not surprised that the call was dropped, and that she would reach a Supervisor in the Technical Support department.

After several minutes, Tech Support Supervisor Abiyah took over the call. I had to recount the entirety of the story. I discovered that AT&T began placing data caps on new DSL lines,s he was unsure of the exact time frame, somewhere between 12-24 months ago.  Therefore she unable to change the status of the account and remove the cap. We did discuss the possibility that account be notated that the customer should be credited for overages if I were to call in and request. But, that annotation would only appear on the Tech Support view of my account, and not on the billing department's view. Therefore, she had to bring the Billing Department on the line in a conference call to proceed with the issue.

#Atlanta #AT&T, #bellsouth #charter #CLEC #telco #comcast, #earthlink #FBI #FCC  #FTC #georgia #internet #ISP #sprint #telephone #verizon #Slamming #Fraud #Fail #folllowmefridaydontsaymaybe


@ATTCustomerCare @att @CNNMoney @ClarkHoward @MSNBC @foxnews @11AliveNews @wsbradio @CNBC

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Remove Buffalo NASNavigator2 from Mac OSX Lion

Buffalo appears to be very good at releasing very good hardware with lackluster software. This diagnostic tool appears to be a normal application, until you start to notice it is running all the time, and hogging resources when it is not in use. Bear in mind, this app has no other function than to run and diagnose Buffalo NAS devices, and there is no need whatsoever for it to run on it's own in the background without the user being able to disable it.

Once the user has discovered this is the case, they will attempt to uninstall the application. While it may appear it was removed, the user will soon enough discover this application is still in place, running in the background, needlessly hogging resources. The only reason this is not an actual virus is that it is not actually harming the system beyond soaking up power and CPU time from the user.

This may work for other versions of OSX, but since Mac changes many things with every new release, I can only vouchsafe this is a solution for removal of the Buffalo NASNavigator2 application from OSX Lion.

Before doing this, be sure you have backed up your system, just in case!

1- Open a Terminal. To do so, launch the Terminal application from /Applications/Utilities

2-  Type in:


sudo find / -name 'NAS*' -print

You will be prompted for a password after issuing a command prefixed with sudo. Simply enter in the same password you would normally use when running "Software Update..."

3- You should then see the location of the application:


/Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/NasNavigator2.app
4- The easy way to remove it is to simply open the finder and go to the folder in step 3, then highlight and remove it.  Otherwise, type from the terminal: 
sudo rm -rf /Library/PrivilegedHelperTools/NasNavigator2.app

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Fundraising: Cries From The Flood Waters - Kinship Circle In Thailand For Animals


Dear Friends, 

Seven hours ago today, I received a final confirmation today that I will joining a team headed for Thailand to perform Disaster Recovery for Animals. There appear to be Tens of Thousands of animals, household pets, clinging to any dry patch they can scrabble onto. When 

While the Kinship Circle is financing much of the operation, it would wonderful if we could raise enough money from my own contacts to offset related expenses that Kinship would otherwise have to pay. 

I sprung for the flight as a starter! 

Now I would like to ask you to lend a hand in whatever you are able and help this Mission succeed. 

If you would like to donate, please visit: http://kinshipcircle.org/donation/#online

To clarify the intention of the donations: 
1- Fill in the blanks on the donation page
2-Towards the bottom, there is a box titled Donation Focus
3-  Insert into Donation Focus "Bryan Grant Thailand Deployment"

That should earmark the funds to offset my own expense for the mission! 

Done and done! 

Thank you so much for your interest! 

Please do share this with your friends so more people will learn about the work that Kinship Circle does at home in the USA and abroad.


Thanks!!

Bryan "Beau" Grant, Director/Founder, SE Pet Rescue Railroad
Social Media posting,  Flood Wading,  Dog & Kitty Saving Disaster Responder for Kinship Circle
Skype: Malacandra


Post your Pet Rescue Urgents to the SEPRR! 
“If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
—St. Francis of Assisi

There is a press release below and a PDF Press Rlease for the AP/Media is here: 
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE: USA nonprofit @kinshipcircle deploys overseas to save animals in Thailand's historic flood  http://j.mp/kinpresskit 

Read more about the mission in Thailand!
Animals Struggling As #thaifloods Deluges Bangkok  Support Needed. Situation Dire. http://bit.ly/uyx6G9 #petrescue via @kinshipcircle & @seprr


For those who want to have a feel of the scope here are some preliminary numbers that have come in tonight, although not be taken as certain statistically: 
  • 1,000 monkeys stranded in one Buddhist temple
  • Another temple filled up with an estimated 1,000 dogs, when floods first accelerated.
  • A shelter in our forming coalition of Thai and international animal relief organizations had 400 dogs dropped off in a single “delivery”...on top of dogs, cats and monkeys already housed there.

For Immediate Release
Please share our Thailand field report & photos, using the share button at top of page:http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/thailand_floods/notes1.html

Below (and attached) is our press release. If you are able to distribute this in any way, please do so. Kinship Circle’s Animal Disaster Aid Fund is depleted from Japan earthquake aid, which concluded as recently as September. We need significant support to help Thailand’s poor animals. Thank you for supporting Kinship Circle, which is an all volunteer organization with no paid staff -- likeminded people who hope for a less violent world, and a better home to all who share this planet.

Thank you!

###################


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Photo: Kinship Circle Disaster Animal Response Team, Thailand Flood 2011 / Ione Lexie Cataldo
Cries From The Water -- Kinship Circle In Thailand For AnimalsUSA nonprofit Kinship Circle deploys overseas to save animals in Thailand's historical flood.  

Bangkok, Thailand -- It might take Noah's Ark to save them all. Dogs bark from rooftops. Animals are submerged chest deep. The skin rots, if underwater too long. Others paddle toward any surface taller than the water. Clinging to a tiny refuge, their howls and cries punctuate the night.

Kinship Circle Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) works with Thai NGO Save Elephant Foundation and various local groups and volunteers to run an emergency shelter in southern Bangkok. Teams from the U.S. and Canada are in Thailand for several months to also help with field rescue, food-water drops and animal transport.

Thailand floods accelerated shortly after Kinship Circle, a nonprofit that specializes in animal advocacy and disaster rescue, returned from Japan -- where animal relief lingered months beyond a mass earthquake and tsunami, due to deserted towns near Fukushima's damaged nuclear plant.

When the group's executive director, Brenda Shoss, learned about Thailand's worst flood in 75 years, she decided to activate. "We viewed satellite maps with a water mass that stretched from Ayutaya down across Bangkok, a city of millions. As one district pumps out flood waters, another fills. Some say the sewage-filled water won't recede for months. We saw 10 or 15 dogs perched on the same roof, marooned on porches, floating in cages... Monkeys, dogs, or other creatures crowded into Buddhist temples. They all want to live. The generous Thai people, including monks, feed them as best they can. But more help is needed for animal flood victims."

Kinship Circle seeks public support for critically needed supplies and to send disaster-trained volunteers to assist with emergency sheltering and field rescue.

DONATE TO THAILAND ANIMAL FLOOD RELIEF: www.kinshipcircle.org/donation

DROP OFF DONATED SUPPLIES AT BANGKOK EMERGENCY SHELTER: Thai Watana Panich Press
919 Bang Pu Industrial Estate
Soi 11B
Praek-sa rd. Muang District
Samut Prakan

DONATIONS ARE VITAL TO:Send disaster-trained volunteers for emergency
sheltering and field rescue.


Acquire key supplies such as:
    -   URGENT! LARGE & MEDIUM SIZE CAGES
    -   Fencing Materials
    -   Truck, 1-ton dually 6.6 litre 4-wheel drive
    -   Ball Hitch, to pull trailer and boat
    -   Catchpoles: 4 & 5 ft
    -   Slip Leads
    -   Human First Aid/Medic Kit (for boat rescue)
    -   Sturdy Work and/or Bite Gloves
    -   Muzzles, various sizes
    -   ID Collars, snap-on with write-on surface
    -   Veterinary Medicines
    -   etc...
    
TO VOLUNTEER FOR THAILAND ANIMAL FLOOD RELIEF:INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERS ONLY*   REGISTER NOW for Kinship Circle Disaster Animal Aid:
    www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/volunteer
*   Contact Bonnie Morrison, Disaster Management Director: dancnfeet1@hotmail.com

THAILAND RESIDENT VOLUNTEERS ONLY*   Volunteer Information Line: 087-186-3804
*   Paisaran ("Patty") Pholsomsuk: mawin_4@hotmail.com
*   Tim Gorski: timgorski@hotmail.com 

###

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:Brenda Shoss, Executive Director, Kinship Circle
314-795-2646 / info@kinshipcircle.org

Patricia Jones
718-651-7187 / pellen325@yahoo.com


Field Notes & Photos About Animal Disaster Rescue In Thailand:http://www.kinshipcircle.org/disasters/thailand_floods/notes1.html

KINSHIP CIRCLE KINSHIP CIRCLE is a nonprofit that promotes animal protection and freedom by rallying voices worldwide to seek legislative, industry and societal reforms for animals. Our primary focus is investigative research and action campaigns to end cruel practices or enforce/enact animal laws. Kinship Circle advocates education as a pathway to change. We produce literature on over 50 topics for use in humane education settings, student projects, presentations, letters, articles, press kits...
KINSHIP CIRCLE DISASTER ANIMAL RESPONSE TEAM is is a specialized faction within Kinship Circle that activates for animal emergency aid. Our response teams reflect a wide range of training and certification in areas such as search and rescue, field first aid, veterinary care, crisis sheltering, fire and water rescue, large animal rescue, technical rescue, wildlife rehab...and more expert skills. Some disasters we've deployed teams to include: Thailand floods; Hurricane Irene; Japan earthquake-tsunami-radiation crisis; Brazil floods-mudslides; Chile earthquake-tsunami; Gulf oil disaster; Haiti earthquake; Iowa floods; Hurricanes Gustav and Ike; Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.







Friday, December 24, 2010

Outlook 2011 Another dead end for workforce productivity.


For anyone hoping to use use Outlook on Mac, be warned. Sync does not exist unless you have an account on an Exchange server. Furthermore, they actually went so far as to remove sync functions for calendars that previously worked on mobile devices. 

As of the date of this article,  Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 for all intents and purposes does not sync to anything but Exchange accounts.

According to one thread, It appears that Microsoft’s own licensing constraints have barred developers from writing apps to connect to Outlook2011 for Mac, we have to wonder what fool is driving the bus over at Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit?

If you would like to read their excuses, Microsoft does provide a verbose and lengthy page full of excuses why they hyped a product, but left out a core functional component that very many users find critical to productivity. At least this time around, Microsoft tried to offer an explanation for their inept and mysterious ways. 


Why in the world, when releasing a new Outlook would anybody every want to sync to a mobile device from Outlook without using Exchange? *Sarcasm* 

Symbian, IPhone, Android, Windows Mobile (wow? really?), and Blackberry will not sync except in some cases to the contacts database. Tasks, Calendars, and Notes do not sync to any device or SaaS/Cloud Service like Gmail. 

iPhone users appear to be out of luck.  Michael Cook in Austraila commented, "I would have preferred that Microsoft had placed a large ORANGE sticker on the rather empty box say "Warning: This product will cripple your calendar synchronisation process with your iPhone."


Symbian and even Windows Mobile will not sync to Outlook 2011. 

Specifically, according to Microsoft,  Calendars, Notes, and Tasks are not synced. No word on whether Categories are synced, but given the other lacking functionality, it is safe to assume they skipped the sync of categories as well.

If you wish to sync a Blackberry, it only allows sync between Contacts and you have to PURCHASE 3rd party software from PocketMac.  “It’s here – BlackBerry owners can now synchronize data from Outlook 2011 to almost any model of BlackBerry,” Tim Goggin, VP of Sales & Marketing said. 

Don't believe the hype. A related article states, "Be advised that synching capabilities are limited to only contacts because Microsoft has restricted which items software developers can access. Additional syncing capabilities such as calendars, tasks and notes have been promised to arrive soon. How soon? We do not know. Hopefully these details will be disclosed soon."

At least this time, we had the foresight to not install the software before doing a lot of research. 
Who in their right mind perpetrates this on the users? Yet, Microsoft has never been known to deliver robust products with streamlined code base that will not bloat your system with each new update, updates which are required practically every other week to ward off bugs that Microsoft shipped as Gold release software.
The sad truth is that most users never know the difference since they do not usually have the savvy to try new and alternative software. And why should they be expected to have this savvy as users? Their job is not being an IT guru. They have other work they were hired to perform, and are usually stuck drumming their fingers on their desk while the Blue Wheel of Death spins around and around just perform basic tasks such as looking up a file on the hard drive. Typical users just accept a sluggish and insecure user environment as the norm and wonder why they can't get more done in a work day.
So as long as Microsoft is able to woo the CIO's of the world, we are all stuck in the mud with slick looking software that simply does not perform very well and costs a bundle to license and manage all those licenses.
Since the US Corporate workplace still turns on Microsoft's substandard productivity software and self-employed people must use mobile devices with sync capabilities to remain productive and responsive to their clients, no wonder we are in a recession.





Friday, May 07, 2010

Howell Mill Hell, gridlocked eternity.

Two years later the dust has settled on the controversial Howell Mill Hell Road improvement projects. 


After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, over one year of construction, repeated news coverage, and a small cottage industry of blogs following the story, here we are two years later. Traffic is as bad or worse than before the city "improved" the intersection at Howell Mill and Chattahoochee


Why? The plan they invested in was based upon a design from the 1980's, that was later scaled down in the early 1990's, then mothballed. Instead of doing any new research for growth trends, they simply took the plan out of storage, dusted it off, and sent the boys to work tearing up the road. 


I write this article because it is high time that we take our district in hand. It is currently choked by traffic, it's value reduced by the congestion, and the poor design of the corridor. Reference the Bank of America ATM machine... or the Einsteins and Wendy's.. all of which force you to access their businesses by crossing up to three lanes of busy traffic at a clogged intersection. They could have had access to the Howell Mill District Shopping Center, and thereby been able to use a traffic light. Reference the entrance to the Starbuck's and Verizon that is so narrow that you have to either stop traffic to make a right, or hit the curb to make the turn.  How about the Firestone and Arby's? No light access, even though the new light is right there next to the property. 

The City appears incapable of doing anything to remedy the situation even though we have the only SuperWalmart in the City limits and Piedmont Hospital West across the street.

Let's form our own Howell Mill Corridor TAD and Planning Unit to gain the ability to accomplish it's own projects using it's own funds raised from the property taxes. Perhaps we should form our own City? No, I am kidding, but seriously a TAD is very feasible.


As another example of engaging the public then simply burying the results, read the report "Upper Westside LCI Concept Prioritization Exercise" calling for "street car/trolley loop along Northside Drive/Marietta Street/Howell Mill Road and the Surrender of Atlanta Park at the intersection of Howell Mill Road and Marietta Street" as the resident's highest priority. This report was published in June 2005! Five years later, nothing has been done. How about a discussion of at least allowing a private trolley to operate? We do not necessary need the City to pay for all of this! So excuses about budget shortfalls are just shortsighted. 


Yes, it does look a bit nicer with new paint, fresh asphalt, a slight change in the lanes, but in no way does this expenditure address the problem. It does amount to yet another example of poor planning and wasteful spending by our city officials. 


And they we're made well aware of this before they ever broke ground, even hosting townhall charettes complete with Georgia Tech and Georgia Conservancy planning pundits to give the dialogue some sense of credibility. At the end of the day, none of the results of the research and public input were used to forge a plan that would be sustain the coming growth. We are just lucky, in an ironic sense, that the economy fell on it's face, since the 3000+ zoned units that would use that intersection are now on-hold,  pending the much-heralded economic recovery.


For my part, I took the time to develop a proposal, and shopped it around to various people such as Jim Borders at Navarre Properties, City of Atlanta Streets (Nursif Qadir), Jud Ready, Clair Muller, Feliciana Moore, Mayor Franklin, various NPU-D officials, and former Mayoral candidate Mary Norwood. Scott Taylor at Carter, the folks at Selig, and Winter Properties were all given a copy. Ask Selig what happened to their Development Impact Fees they paid to the City of Atlanta when they were approved for the Howell Mill District Project. Practically not one dime was spent to restructure the Howell Mill Corridor to accommodate one the largest developments in Atlanta besides Atlantic Station or the Georgia World Congress Center's expansion, the latter faces into a neighborhood overrun by crime and potentially endangers visitors to our city, since we have done nothing in the past four years to address this obvious problem. I digress, which is an all too easy thing to do in this City. There are just too many easy targets that are hard to ignore.


The concept of improvements included solutions for Howell Mill intersections from Collier to Chattahoochee Industrial. A major component features a traffic circle providing three lanes of continuous flow around the two blocks at the intersection of Howell Mill and Collier over to the Willie's, and giving direct access to Northbound 75 without the need for much of the volume to ever use Howell Mill. 


The City officials confused this plan with a plan referred to as "the Howell Mill Bypass". I had not heard of that proposal when i draft the Howell Mill Traffic Circle, but there are only minor similarities. 


 The only one who was ardently opposed was Mr. Borders. He thought that retail would suffer unless two traffic was available. I wonder what he thinks these days, now that the traffic is parked both ways on the two way road? Now that Smyrna-Vinings residents clog our streets taking the back way home to Cobb County? Now that his company's properties are not suitable for so-called liveable development owing to the smog, noise, congestion, and gridlock that encircles Navarre's holdings at Howell Mill? 




If you are interested in actively working on pulling together a Howell Mill TAD composed of residents, commercial property owners, and business owners, then please contact me at 678.389.9903 or bgrant@conviviagroup.com


twitter.com/bryangrant



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Brown Shirts" imagery over-reaching? Think again. We are better than that America. Far better.

So the news is breaking, along with windows, right now that Democratic officials' offices in five separate locations over four days have been  vandalized. Mike Vanderboegh's blog is calling for people across the nation to vandalize property as an act of civil disobedience.


For those of you who thought it was over-reaching to invoke rhetoric of brown shirts and KristallNacht imagery, I have unfortunately been vindicated. The news is now breaking that we had our very own tiny attempt at a KristallNacht. From Alabama, Mike Vanderboegh, has called upon people to break the windows of Dem officials' offices. 5 offices in 4 days have had bricks thrown through the windows. Congressman John Lewis was spat upon and racially heckled this morning as he walked in Washington DC. Sarah Palin has called upon the public to "reload", labeling locations with gunsites where elections should be "targeted". "If Brown can't do it, a Browning can" is on a billboard in Massachusetts. Others have received death threats.

Congressman Bart Stupack (D) labeled baby-killer by Neugebauer (R) during congressional session, today used his misbehavior as a fund-raising tool, after he publically apologized for his inappropriate comment. Hypocrite. If he is so passionate about his comment, then he should "grow a sack" and stand by what he said, instead of offering apology then taking an about face with his speech to supporters! He needs to sit down, take a Ciallis, and shut up.







Apparently  MikeVanderboegh has not bothered to look the actual meaning of "Civil Disobedience":
" Refusal to obey civil laws in an effort to induce change in governmental policy or legislation, characterized by the use of passive resistance or other nonviolent means." Dictionary-answers.com


Breaking windows happens to be an act of violent vandalism, not Civil Disobedience. 


For those of you who did not manage to attend sixth grade, Kristallnacht was so named since it was "the night of broken glass" when Hitler incited German youth to break the windows of Jewish Shop Owners. 
Different target. Different group of haters. Fewer windows. A far more impotent leader. Similar feelings. Similar hate. Similar, albeit far more weak, danger. The good news is that vandalism is still enforced by the rule of law as a crime! The good news is Mr.Vanderboegh remains in the fringe. Here is a sampling of his ranting: 


"They do not, it is apparent after the past year of town halls and Tea Parties and nose-diving opinion polls, hear you SHOUT. They certainly do not hear the soft "snik-snik" of cleaning rods being used on millions of rifle barrels in this country by people who have decided that their backs are to the wall, politics and the courts no longer are sufficient to the task of defending their liberties, and they must make their own arrangements." 


..."So, if you wish to send a message that Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows.


Break them NOW.


Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats.


But BREAK THEM.


The time has come to take your life, your liberty and that of your children and grandchildren into your own two hands and ACT.


It is, after all, more humane than shooting them in self defense.


And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary." Vanderboeghs's Blog




So fine. The government no longer represents the people. This is news? This is different than when Bush or Clinton were in office? Remember Janet Reno's troops burning Waco, attacking Ruby Ridge, or pushing an MP5 machine gun into four year old Elian Gonzales' face? Name me a president you could trust.. how far back in time do you have to go? Yet, somehow our nation has endured without hateful, corporate funded fascists pointing fingers at their political opponents. We can handle commies and socialists without stooping to shameful behavior that is far less than we are as a nation.



Machiavelli's first rule of statecraft dictates that to rule a population the ruling class must manufacture differences within the population, and polarize the governed based upon these differences. Baby-killers v pro-life. Illegal immigrant v citizen. Rich v. Poor. Working voter v. welfare recipient. Pro-health care v. private health care. Global Warming v. denial of Global Warming. Fascist v. Free. Socialist v. Free. Communist v. Free. If you don;t like socialism, remove all the corporate incentives we give to businesses in the form of tax breaks! Remove all those farm subsidies! Freemarkets are wonderful, until it takes the pork off your own plate. 


If all these people are so hell bent on a revolution, what do you propose to replace our system with? If you do not have a better plan, simply attacking what we do have with nothing to relace it with will make matters far worse than they are now.




Are we so weak and disempowered that we will guide crackpot extremists and corporate special interest funding groups guide our agenda with hate? 



We are better than that America. Far better.