What a week!

It’s been a busy week over at LOUIE Central. I wish I could say I was spending more time on production of the documentary, but there have been a variety of distractions.

Mold and mildew were an unexpected diversion this week. I discovered that the closet of my very crowded living space had some serious mold problems, so I’ve been doing a lot of re-organizing as I try to remove the invasion of the spores. In the process of moving things around, I found a lot of forgotten documents. As I’m temporarily sleeping in another location as I’m still trying to re-organize amongst the chaos, I’ve noticed that I have less sinus congestion, so there are some good things I’m discovering by this unexpected turn of events.

On the day of New Year’s Eve, I posted something on my problem with Circuit City and Vonage. After sending letters to the vice presidents of these organizations, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Department of Consumer Affairs, it looks I may have some resolution on the issue. A few days ago, I received a phone call from a member of the Vonage “Executive Response Team,” so I should be receiving a refund in the near future.

In the meantime, thanks to this thing called the internet, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one that experienced similar problems with Circuit City and Vonage. A fellow frustrated consumer experienced similar problems with these companies in Colorado, and shared their rant at My3Cents.com, which looks a great resource for folks to complain about less-than-honest companies. My3Cents.com is one consumer resource I will definitely be bookmarking for future research.

It is frustrating when I have to spend more time trying to fix something that should have been fixed with a simple phone call. Before I wrote these letters to complain, I spent approximately two hours on the phone, trying to resolve my problems with clueless and/or powerless customer service representatives from two different companies. Hopefully, I can avoid this kind of nonsense in the future, but I know that if I run into similar problems with other companies, I can follow the same strategy to get results.

On a happier note, I spent a few days at the MacWorld expo in San Francisco, one of the great annual events for tech-media users such as myself. Unlike previous MacWorld events, there was nothing new from Apple Computers (or Apple Inc, as they now like to be called), that gave me any significant techno-nerd envy. The biggest news at MacWorld was an overpriced “iPhone” that uses what I consider a less-than ideal cell phone network. The other big product from Apple was a device that connected computer video with the television, which unfortunately only works on HD television sets. It seemed kinda strange that one would need an HD TV to be able to watch a low-res YouTube type clip with this device, but what do I know?

I saw a lot of great new products at this event. The latest Toast has more options for burning DVDs and CDS, including a means of transferring Tivo programming. I’m seeing more devices that allow folks to use their iPods as audio recorders. I saw some cool video goggles that will be be great accessories for camera operators, as well as personalized 3D video viewing. I saw some great demonstrations for the new Epson flatbed scanners, which seem to do a better job of scanning slides and negatives than some of state-of-the-art film scanners from just a few years ago.

Like other MacWorld events, it was a great schmoozefest where I ran into a lot of friends, and learned more methods of mastering these computer devices that I use to assemble my media creations. As the learning curve for computers and new software seems to be a perpetual cycle, these events provide some wonderful shortcuts.

Tonight, we are expected to have record cold temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area. Walking the city streets, and watching the TV news, I see constant reminders that there’s far too many homeless people in the area that need shelter. Coming from an event where the new standards of HD TV are showcased in such a dynamic manner, it seems very awkward that the American public will soon be forced to purchase new televisions in a time when so many people can’t even afford to pay for simple food and shelter.

Next week, I hope to spend more time assembling this LOUIE documentary of mine. As everything I ever shot for this project was in standard definition, the pressure is on to finish this film before this HD standard becomes the new mandate…..

And so I continue….

UPDATE: It looks like my problems with Vonage and Circuit City have been resolved. I encourage anyone else with similar problems to write their own letters of dispute, and send ’em directly to actual executives at the companies you have problems with. Email will work, but I happen to prefer actual paper when it comes to these types of situations – it’s harder to ignore!

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