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If you fly to Orlando and think about getting a Mears shuttle, you might be interested in what happened to me :

 – at the airport : even if it was in the afternoon, there was more than one hour of delay (!!!) to get a shuttle, which then managed to wait at various other places like 300 meters away from the spot I waited for it, before going to the hotels – all this took another hour (!!!) before I could reach my hotel, for a grand total of *2 hours* lost !

 – from the hotel : since it was a shuttle launch day, Mears decided it could not fulfill its contract and that I should ask for a refund. After explaining on the phone that I had paid for a round trip and wanted the deal fulfilled, they managed to send another shuttle – which I found out at the airport was *not paid* by Mears, and which costed me another $50.

At least this was money well spent, because unlike on Mears the driver went from point A to point B in less than 30 minutes.

Morale of the story – if you want to blow $80 and spent valuable hours waiting for a possible pickup, take a Mears shuttle. If you want decent service in Orlando, take a cab.

If you don’t believe me, go to yelp and read the reviews. Don’t stop on the 5 stars, which might as well have been written by Mears employee since they are so 

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Buyers of Garmin Frictionless Mount, beware !! The one I purchased, while a genuine Garmin product, is of very low quality. It is loosing its screws quite literally – and even after I tried to screw them back.

The worst is that mount is so frictionless that it slides quite easily. It did when I opened the door, in a slope, which resulted in my brand new Garmin 265WT GPS falling on the groud, denting the case.

For now on, I think I may avoid Garmin products. Too unreliable.

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Found in a shop : decoration for wedding cake on sale at 9.9 Eur. A killing deal if you want the newlyweds behaded.

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Martinique, FWI – comparable to a typical US city

People talk about Martinique as if it was a violent place, with a high homicide rate.  I do not feel unsafe in Martinique – no more than when I travel to the US. Of course, there might be more crime than in mainland France or in Europe, but we are located in the American continent, and thus we may need a different frame for comparison. So let’s take the good ol’ USA.  Martinique taken as a whole *is* comparable to a similar sized US city.

Let’s look at the stats – 398 733 inhabitants in 2009 according to Wikipedia, with a 2010 estimation at 402000 according to the Encyclopedia Britannica – let’s say 400k. 19 violent deaths in 2010 (gun + knifes) according to the official stats and the press. Divide that by 4 and it gives a 4.75 homicide rate per 100k.

If you look at Wikipedia for the US stats on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States, you’ll see there is a 5.4 homicide rate per 100k in 2009

So Martinique is no more violent that a typical US city – in fact it’s even less !

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Google voice and Callcentric

If you travel around, google voice is good but incomplete. They only offer browser-centered services – which is nice, but sometimes a real handset is what you really need to use.

Also, you can’t easily be reached by SIP clients : they no longer respond to invites for calls to SIP:+1{insert GV number}@sip.voice.google.com

But both issues can easily be fixed for a small amount of money. My solution? A “dirt cheap DID” from callcentric.com, linked to my google voice account, and a hardware SIP adapter I carry with me. $2.95/month, no billing for incoming calls.

Yet there is a catch – some of their numbers do not work! For example before my current number I had (619) 489 1447 and when I tried to link it, every day during 3 days I had the following message :

Exception thrown by server-side application: java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: com.google.grandcentral.util.PhoneFormatter$InvalidPhoneNumberException: Invalid Phone Number: 

Huh?? The phone number *is* valid, I know because I tried to call myself. Anyway it was solved when I took a different number. So if you are trying to link a callcentric number, be ready to give it up and take another one if it doesn’t work 😦
I really hope I’ll soon have a way to register my SIP hardware to google voice, and receive direct SIP calls too. I’m not asking for the calls to be sent to the PSTN at a cost to google – if I can just receive them on my SIP hardware when I travel, it will be fine!

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Google support – no integrated username

For some reason, google support is a survivor of a past time when google services had their own nicknames architecture, ie you can use a nick with google support that’s not your gmail name. That may be a good thing. But also, there’s no place to either edit or transfer your username, and that’s a real problem because you’re stuck with it in many ways.

For exemple, at the moment, my own nick is stuck to my google-apps account – like my google voice number – and can’t be transferred to my gmail account. There’s a person that complained about a typo on google forum, and the official answer was they could sign their post the way they wanted but the nickname was fixed. Really????

So many people use google voice that the number issues may change someday. But fixing nicknames in google support doesn’t seems to be high on the priority list. And that attitude towards users is just nasty. Telling them to look the other way will not fix the problem.

Why do I care? Because if you want to be active in an online community, you want to create some continuity between your contributions. A nickname is exactly that – if it bound to your email, it’s like going back to usenet times. I haven’t posted a lot on google support, but after spending some time exploring gmail and google voice issues I felt like contributing. If all my contribution will be bound to some new nickname and I can’t change it again in the future, why bother??

Hence my suggestions :

 – if you can’t use the google-wide way to maintain nicknames, and if editing nicknames is too complicated, make a simple button where a user can delete its own nick and thus reclaim it with a different account (a delete might be easier than a whole process to check whether a nick is free or already taken and ask the user to pick up something else or offer suggestions)

 – if you can’t find anyone at google to do that, I’ll be glad to spend a day or two to fix that problem for free, because I care about that but apparently no one else does 😦 I’ll use that opportunity to also try to interest someone in fixing the google-voice migration problem ASAP. You can’t really imagine having the phonenumber you give away to everyone being bound to your email address.

 – if nothing is possible, just externalize that to yelp or quora who do a good job. Google can’t do everything successfully, there’s no shame in that.

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Some days are better than the others.

Today my 3 weeks-old brand new GPS got dented due to a failing Garmin mount, noticed that someone had scratched the passenger doorhold of my car which was fully repainted 2 weeks ago, realized the iPod adapter I purchased from Motors Solutions on Amazon 6 months ago was not working with the exact model of car radio I had (but it was mentioned!!) and finally found out that OSX-Server could not take a domain name change, and that I would have to reinstall it from scratch if I wanted something stable- which would be an easy thing if it didn’t live on a set of encrypted partitions (the equivalent of french HIPAA provisions – I take work at home so I encrypt everything). 

Awesome-not !

If the next few days are not bright and shiny, I’ll ask life a refund for my whole week.

But the is at lest one good thing there: OSX-Server is a goner. I wasted too much time on it. No wonder why Apple will only have one Lion and is dropping the X-Serves. Truth is painful.

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