Category: Opinion

Why UPS and Fedex are kicking the USPS’ ass

We received a notice from our mail carrier last month, on January 18. They “made an attempt to deliver a package.” I question the attempt, since I was home all day due to the weather, and by the time the mail was delivered, I had cleared the walk and driveway – but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and pretend they actually made an effort instead of just driving by with the package in the truck.

The notice gave me two options – I could go down to the local post office and pick it up after the 19th, or request redelivery. Since the post office in question is not open when I can usually get there, and is horribly slow and understaffed, I went online to request redelivery. Their site says “For same day service, online requests must be submitted by 2AM CST Monday – Saturday.” Fine, so I put in my request on the 18th, request redelivery on the 19th, and all should be well, I should get my package on the 19th.

Had that been the case, you wouldn’t be reading this.

I get home on the 19th, check the front steps where I requested the package be left. No package, although UPS left some. I go check the USPS website and find an update has been made to my request. It’s at the local post office and will be redelivered on the 20th.

Obviously, it wasn’t.

I wait a few days, and finally, on the 25th, I can get down to the local post office and pick it up – I figure by now, it’s got to be back there since it’s been a week since the first attempt. I talk to their counter person, who tells me its not there and its not his fault. Odd that this is practically the first thing he says. He says that the people who the USPS contracted out to run their redelivery system have no idea how the post office actually works. “Maybe the package is out on the truck today,” he offers. Turns out that my local post office doesn’t have carriers, so when they receive a redelivery request, they have to send the package back to the main postal center downtown to have it reinserted into the mail stream.

January 31. Still no package nor any further updates, no new slips… nothing. The walk has been clear most days. I decide to call the USPS and find out what’s going on. They have a voice response system. It’s horribly slow – not sure if it’s always that slow, or if it’s just a today thing. I do finally get an actual person after repeating operator over and over. And to their credit, the gentleman I spoke with was very nice. Useless, as they don’t have any information about the package. But at least he was nice. He said they showed it would have gone to a different station – the one downtown. So either they gave me the wrong form or gave him the wrong information. I call the number for the station he gave me. It went to one postal employee’s voicemail. I left a detailed message with the slip number and my phone number. I honestly don’ expect a response.

Finally, February 2. THe package arrives. No call back from the person whose number I called, which is about par for what I would expect.

TL;DR: From the evidence I’ve seen, they made an attempt to deliver on the 18th and then let it sit for over 2 weeks until I finally starting tracking it myself. UPS or FedEx would have been here every day until it got delivered and told me what was going on. I can’t imagine that next time I need to ship something, I’ll consider the Post Office at all.

Google Top Bar

I’m kind of suprised that Google doesn’t customize the links in the top bar of their sites based on what you actually use.

For example, I never click on the “shopping” link. I would bet Google has the data to back me up on this. Why not replace that with one I use daily… like “Reader”?

This seems so obvious that I’m sure there’s a good explanation for it, but I don’t get it.

Another Plan for Facebook

I’ve been thinking some more about Facebook. I spend a fair amount of time on their site but what do I really get out of it, especially that I can’t do elsewhere? I mean, I can post pictures to Flickr, status messages to Twitter, longer pieces here. A lot of what gets posted by my friends there is stuff that appears more important than it probably is.

I think what Facebook does well is connecting people. I’m thinking that if I can tie my other accounts back to Facebook, so that (as an example) when I post pictures to Flickr they automagically alert to Facebook. If I got that all set up, I would get the benefits of simplified sharing without having to actually log in to Facebook… and if I don’t log in to Facebook, I don’t get their cookie and they don’t track me all over creation.

Guess I know what I’ll be doing the next few days.

Why I Don’t Trust Facebook (And What I’ve Done About It)

You may have heard that Facebook is contemplating yet another set of changes to their privacy policy. The part that concerns me most is that they will extend your Facebook login to pre-announce you to other sites when you visit them. So, if you visit Yelp after logging in to Facebook, Yelp can read your Facebook login and recognize you without you having to log in to Yelp. On the face of it, it seems pretty cool – and I can certainly see the utility of it.

But here’s the catch. I never authorized Facebook to give that information. In fact, they’ve been pretty much told not to – between opting out of Beacon and being told not to include my information. I’m reading this as “even though you told us not to share your information, we’re going to anyways with this group of trusted third party sites.” In this case, I imagine “trusted” means “well-paying.” Certainly, I can opt out of this sharing – and I have. But who’s to say that, 6 months from now, Facebook will offer a tier of even more trusted third party sites access to my information? I’d really like it if Facebook would stop trying to figure out ways around their own privacy policy.

I understand that this is how Facebook makes money. I don’t begrudge them that. When it comes down to it, it’s how Google makes their money too. And Google has certainly had their share of privacy fiascoes – Buzz being the latest. The difference is, overall, I trust Google to handle my information. When they screw up, it doesn’t come across as malicious, just bumbling. I don’t get the same vibe from Facebook – see Beacon for the most glaring example.

So, what can we do? Well, the easiest way is to just close out your Facebook account and not use their service. However, I do like the convenience of their service and the fact that most of my friends are on there makes it very convenient. What I’ve done (after updating my privacy settings, of course) was to move Facebook to its own browser. In this case, I used Prism, which comes out of Mozilla and Firefox. Prism is a single site browser – it can be configured to only go to one site, like Facebook. There are other options, of course – the Fluid browser on Mac, for example. I chose Prism because it maintains a separate collection of cookies from the other browsers. Fluid shares cookies with Safari. With the purpose I have in mind, shared cookies defeats the whole point.

Now Facebook lives in its own little world. And all is okay, until the next time they decide to expand their reach.

Yield To Vehicles Turning Right – Why Is This So Hard?

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Okay, this happens pretty frequently so I’m going to bitch about it… why are drivers headed north on Burncoat Street and turning left onto Mountain incapable of understanding that they need to yield the right of way to southbound vehicles turning right onto Mountain?

From the RMV handbook:

When making any left turn, you must first yield the right ­of­ way to any…

  • Oncoming vehicle
  • At least one out of every four times I go through there, the idiot turning left has already decided to go because the car in front of him is going.

    Of course, the whole area is a clusterf*ck anyways. Drivers on Mountain St routinely block the intersection with Burncoat. The folks who decide that they’re going to make two lanes of traffic, coupled with their competition who decides to block two lanes of traffic. The lights that aren’t synchronized, causing the aforementioned backups. The apparent randomness of the left-turn signal from Mountain St onto Rt 12 southbound. The people who think it’s a good idea to make a left from whatever-that-little-street-is-named just west of the bridge over the tracks. (Yes, I see Google calling it West Mountain St. Not buying it.)

    I think the Worcester Police Department could probably balance the city budget quite easily if they stationed an officer around there and wrote tickets for every violation they noted. Might want to bring a few extra ticket books for that.