Posts tagged “pg&e”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software [] – [Spin in this article is that using computers to manage super-human levels of complex data will have employment consequences.] When five television studios became entangled in a Justice Department antitrust lawsuit against CBS, the cost was immense. As part of the obscure task of “discovery” ­ providing documents relevant to a lawsuit ­ the studios examined six million documents at a cost of more than $2.2 million, much of it to pay for lawyers and paralegals who worked for months. But that was in 1978. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time and cost. In January, Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA., helped analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000. Some programs can extract relevant concepts ­ like documents relevant to social protest in the Middle East ­ even in the absence of specific terms, and deduce patterns of behavior that would have eluded lawyers examining millions of documents.
  • [from steve_portigal] PG&E launches huge paper chase for pipeline data [SF Chronicle] – [You think you have a lot of data to process? Obviously their record-keeping incompetence is just now being surfaced and they have taken on a data task that is beyond human scale. We can create systems that we can't manage!] For the past couple of days, forklifts have been carting pallets loaded with 30 boxes each into 3 warehouses outside the 70-year-old Cow Palace arena in Daly City. Friday afternoon, there were still more than 100 pallets stacked outside the warehouses waiting to go in. "There are 100,000 boxes in there, and you can't believe the papers spread everywhere," one PG&E employee said …"There are records in there going back to the 1920s. "We're looking at all kinds of parameters, and our data validation efforts are going on throughout the service area,…We're doing a 24-7 records search involving at least 300 employees and contractors, and we're working to confirm the quality of our data through collecting and validating our gas transmission pipeline records."
  • [from steve_portigal] Hong Kong, 2011 [Flickr] – [My pictures from our recent trip to Hong Kong for the UXHK Conference]
  • [from steve_portigal] Understanding Culture, User Research and Design with Steve Portigal – [Reserve your tickets now for either Toronto event: a lecture on March 8 and a workshop on March 9. The lecture will focus on culture, insights, and design while the workshop will be a hands-on opportunity to practice synthesizing user research data into opportunities and concepts. Hope to see you there!]

Out in the boonies

We’ve lived in this area called The Coastside for two years now, and I’m amazed and appalled at the lack of infrastructure. I’m not talking about roads and plumbing (though I’m sure those are issues; I just don’t know enough to complain about them). We don’t have sidewalks and we don’t have home delivery of mail. That may be seen as charming; but it’s getting a bit old for me.

We have no cell coverage. I can’t imagine that will change at any point.

Our Comcast cable television is terrible: image quality is consistently bad (with over-the-air artifacts like ghosting common on some very low channels) and audio is low volume and filled with hiss on higher channels. Recently, channel 3 went out completely. Comcast told many residents who called that they wouldn’t regard it as a real issue until they had reached a minimum number of service complaints that resulted in a scheduled technician visit. In other words, if you called in and told them about the problem, they would treat it as a local-to-you problem that didn’t require any action on their part until someone came and looked at YOUR house and eliminated that as the specific cause. It takes several days to get someone to come out and so it took a few days for Comcast to even acknowledge that they had a problem and to take any action to fix it. We pay the same as everyone else (if not more) for cable, and we get lousy service (both the product itself and the customer service).

Our power goes out many times each winter. For an hour, or for 7 hours. You never know, of course. It’s dangerous, inconvenient, stressful. We aren’t supposed to use the water when the power is out. There’s obviously some non-redundant connection that is very vulnerable to wind, wet soil, trees, or whatever. But PG&E is not investing in any infrastructure to develop a robust solution, so we’re stuck with frequent outages that leave a big section of Montara without power. Our power bills in Montara are ridiculously higher than other places we’ve lived.

Our telephone service is sub-par. Caller-ID information is often not received. A year or so ago I found that I would get a busy signal when calling the voice mail number – and that my own callers would often not be able to leave voice mail; instead having it ring and ring. It took a great deal of effort to get someone at SBC to acknowledge and fix the problem (they were out of circuits or something arcane). Last week we encountered terrible static when calling to Montara from outside of Montara. Calls to either of our home numbers from a cell phone or land line located elsewhere would be at best scratchy and at worst, unlistenable. I have reported this to SBC as have many other local residents. As with the cable, it’s being treated like a problem local to our own service, despite the fact that it’s not, but of course, we can only report our own problem. I was informed by SBC that they’ve checked and everything is fine. It’s not fine; my phone service is only semi-usable (I have to shout at my callers that I’ll return their call), and SBC has decided not to act. Of course, we pay the same fees to SBC that everyone else does.

Can you tell I’m fed up?


About Steve