Sunday, December 23, 2007


A friend of mine sent me this, and I thought it was pretty funny. It didn't take much time either.

See Warren Redlich Scrooged.

And make sure your sound is on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More problems with iPhone activation

I just posted last night about my problems with my iPhone. At the end of that post I mentioned that I was next going to activate two more iPhones (one each for my associates - and yes, there really is a business purpose in mind). I thought it would be quicker to activate the next ones because I had gotten past the creating an account problem with AT&T.

Nope. It's taking longer, and there is no end in sight.

I got that e-mail message 8 hours ago now. For some reason my second iPhone is not activated yet.

Of course I called AT&T customer service, and they were absolutely no help. The rep insisted there is no such thing as an iPhone activation specialist at AT&T, even though I talked to Darameli last night who told me she was an iPhone activation specialist for AT&T. The rep gave me a number for Apple customer support. They're not open until 6 am Pacific time. I will be in court this morning so I don't think I'll get this resolved for maybe 20 hours.

So far I'm really unimpressed with the quality of customer service at AT&T and Apple. This is really a let-down as far as Apple is concerned. I don't expect much from cell phone companies, but I expect more from Apple.

I should stress that I deliberately started this process last night, at night. Why? Because when you switch over your cell phone number, it's supposed to take about 6 hours (not 8 or 20). By doing it at night, this prevents me from having problems with calls during the day when I make money using my cell phone. The whole purpose of my doing it that way was defeated by incompetence at AT&T, Apple, or both.

Here's a simple message for both of them. I am your customer. You are supposed to care about what I think. So far this year I have spent in the ballpark of $5000 on Apple products, and just signed up to spend in the ballpark of $8000 on AT&T service over the next two years. Why on earth would you do this to a customer who is trying to pay you lots of money?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A bad iPhone experience with Apple and AT-and-T

See the picture below to start getting a sense of my frustration with Apple, AT&T, and my new iPhone.

That screen is not in any of the iPhone commercials I saw. No one at the Apple store told me that I needed "an AT&T pre-approved credit check code" before I'd be able to use my iPhone.

I am outraged that there is no way for me to resolve this without going to an AT&T store. I hate going to cell phone stores. [Note that the issue was eventually resolved on the phone - I think -- see below. I began writing this while on hold.]

Apparently this happens to anyone who has never had an AT&T account. Strangely, I did not see this in any of the iPhone ads I saw on TV. It wasn't mentioned in any of the many e-mails I got from Apple encouraging me to buy an iPhone. I didn't see it when I browsed Apple's website to learn more about the iPhone (which I did several times).

One very frustrating detail here is that no one at the Apple store told me about this. Had they told me that, I could easily have walked to an AT&T store or kiosk in Crossgates to get the pre-approval.

The one bright spot in this experience was an AT&T "activation specialist" named Darameli, who somehow made it work. She created a "pre-account" for me and that allowed her to get me the code I needed. By resolving this issue (well, I'm still waiting for some final e-mail confirmation from AT&T, but ...) she removed the urge to drive to the nearest AT&T store and throw an iPhone through their window.

Now here's what gets me, and why I would advise any investor to stay away from stock in AT&T. This has to have happened before. Apple has sold over 1 million iPhones. If 10% of the customers have never had an AT&T account before (and that has to be a conservative estimate) then 100,000 people have had this problem. From talking to Darameli, she has encountered problems like this before, and has had to deal with angry customers like me. I was bouncing off the walls before she calmed me down. I screamed at three customer service reps before they finally got me to her. The process took an extra 45 minutes because of this idiot snafu.

After 100,000 of your customers have had this problem, wouldn't you think management would have found a way around this. If just one executive had sat in Darameli's chair for one day, this problem would have been fixed the next day. It doesn't have to be the CEO. It could be the COO, the CFO, the General Counsel, any member of the Board of Directors. There's a lot of possibilities here. This was my first experience with AT&T as a customer. It wasn't a good one. What a tremendous opportunity to build customer loyalty right from the get-go. Instead, it's a big chink in the armor.

Now let's be clear about something. I should not need a pre-approved credit check code. I am a long-time Apple customer. I have bought several Macs over the past few years, including at least two in the past year. And I just bought three iPhones at a cost of $1500 (including the 2-year super-duper warranty for each. It should be a pretty safe bet that I can afford the monthly payment on the cell phone account.

What does AT&T gain by doing this? How many iPhone buyers (at $399 a pop these days) are going to fail a credit check? Maybe some, but I'd bet it's a small percentage. What does AT&T really lose if someone can't pay their bill anyway? The marginal cost of an extra customer is trivial in this business. Can't anyone at AT&T do that math?

I'm not letting Apple off the hook here. But I have years of experience with Apple and they've been pretty good all this time.

And you know, now that I think about it, my first cell phone was with Cellular One. They were taken over by Cingular. And Cingular became AT&T. So I did have an AT&T account before. These guys are idiots.

After completing my post, I did a little digging. Over three months ago someone made a similar complaint on a very prominent blog: Michael Huffington on the iPhone.

And here's another one from back in June: MacRumors on the iPhone.

Another one from July 4th: Mobilewhack on the iPhone.

I also looked at the video on the Apple website about it. The guy tells you it's really simple, and you can do it at your own pace. I started the process 90 minutes ago and I still haven't gotten the confirmation allowing me to activate my iPhone. Keep in mind that I have to activate two other iPhones and can't do them until I get the first one done.

Update: It took a total of 2 1/2 hours to activate my iPhone. The next two should be quicker. And I've gotten two marketing messages from AT&T so far. Nice.

Further update: See my next post about more problems with iPhone activation.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Interesting Albany trivia

Did you know that Albany, in 1870, was the 20th largest city in the United States?

Check out this table from the US Census Bureau. Albany's status dropped quickly, and by 1910 it was the 50th largest city, even though Albany's population had grown substantially in that time.

Troy was in the top 50 back in the late 1800s as well.

Buffalo, #11 in 1870, is holding on to #50. It peaked in status at #8 in 1900.

Read more at this page from the Census Bureau about the largest cities.

Great tidbits:

In 1810, Albany had more than twice as many people as Brooklyn.

In 1800 Albany and Schenectady were tied, but then Schenectady disappears from the list for 1810 (did they put them together?)

Cohoes was #97 back in 1870

Albany seems to have peaked (in status) in 1840 at #9. You could argue it was really #8 since Brooklyn was counted separately from NYC.

Can you imagine Albany being the 9th largest city in the US? Chicago was #92 at the time.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Guilderland - Appointments in January

At our first Town Board meeting as new councilmen on January 3rd, Mark
Grimm and I will be asked to vote on many appointments for various
Town positions. In keeping with our campaign pledge to open up
government, we wish to publicly solicit applications for those positions.

They include membership on the Economic Development Advisory Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board, and the Industrial Development Agency. There are also several part-time attorney positions, including the Town Attorney position, and attorneys for the zoning and planning boards. More information on the Town's boards and committees can be found at the Town website:

If you are interested and feel you are qualified for any of these openings, please send us your resume and a brief statement on why you think your appointment might help improve Guilderland. You can e-mail to, or fax to my office at 518-862-1551. Thank you.

--- Warren Redlich

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Albany Sheriff Cracks Down on Gambling and Marijuana

The Albany Sheriff is really cracking down on the bad guys these days. The Times Union had a couple of articles on November 29th about his team nailing a gambling ring, and another about them bungling a marijuana operation.

In the gambling story, the Sheriff successfully protected the public from four dopes who were engaged in a gambling conspiracy. The story is filled with dollar amounts that are probably inflated for dramatic purposes. Even if you believe them, the "gambling ring" had $1.7 million in bets over a 4-month period, entirely on sports. If the bookie is getting two percent, that's a whopping $34,000 in profit. You can't get much more than that since anyone can gamble online anyway. I do feel much safer knowing that a team of investigators spent so much time protecting us from these dangerous men. And I can still blow my money on QuickDraw.

Next we find out that a team of investigators was cutting down marijuana plants up in the woods in Berne. For some reason they're not wearing uniforms, but instead they're wearing camouflage. So some guy and his dog happen by and there's a confrontation, the guy's dog attacks a detective. Another officer finds a gun and shoots the dog, mostly taking off the detective's thumb in the process.

So I'm reading all of this and I'm wondering ... why are they wearing camo? Why is this operation so secretive? I can't help but suspect that maybe they weren't planning to destroy the marijuana. Maybe, just maybe they were either going to sell it or smoke it. Or both. Now even if I'm off base on that, isn't it nice to know we've got a team of officers in the woods going after about 100 marijuana plants? Makes me feel safe, that's for sure. If it wasn't for them, one of those plants might have stolen a car, driven to a local high school, and then been smoked by a poor teenager who might die 50 years later from lung cancer -- if Bush and Hillary don't get him killed in Iraq first.

But we can all feel a little safer because Albany District Attorney David Soares is prosecuting the poor bastard who owns the dog. You remember Soares. He's the one who opposes the drug war and criticized law enforcement's role on a trip to Vancouver (who paid for that anyway?) a couple years ago. Strangely he's not criticizing the cops on this one. You'd think he could connect the dots ....