Posts Tagged 'woes'

Pet Peeve: Voice-Activated Phone System Menus

It’s the wave of the future: hands-free operation of everything, everywhere.  We tell computers what to do and they do it.  Have you even seen any of the Star Trek movies?  Scotty (James Doohan) has been doing this for years.

Well, folks — the future is here, now.

Voice-activated phone system menus — a.k.a “Interactive Voice Response” systems — have been frustrating helping us for years.  It’s more and more common these days to call your favorite business and be presented with voice prompts that say things like “For English, say ‘English'” and so on.  I understand that some customers may *require* this type of setup, but for the rest of us it’s just plain irritating.  Honestly, I would probably prefer a system that gets you to a person *immediately*, you present your request, and they transfer you directly to the queue you need to be in.  Instead, I have to say things like “tech support”, “billing”, “no”, “yes”, or “operator” into the phone — and usually more than once, since the system won’t always pick up on what I’m saying.  Better yet, be prepared for *serious frustration* if you have any sort of background noise!  I’ve had some aggravating and embarassing times trying to navigate a voice-menu while at work, since my co-workers can usually hear me trying to speak loudly enough to be recognized, but not so loudly that I’m being obnoxious.  Repeating “tech support” over and over is especially amusing.

Good times.

What I really fear, however, is the future of these voice-activated menus.  Will my doctor’s office have them too?  Hmmm.  What might THAT look like?…

  • CLINIC: “Thank you for calling the <Your City Here> Family Clinic.  For emergencies, please hang up and dial 9-1-1.  To schedule an appointment, please say ‘Appointment’.”
  • CALLER: “Appointment.”
  • CLINIC:  “I’m sorry.  We didn’t hear you.  To schedule an appointment…”
  • CLINIC: “You’ve reached our Appointment Scheduling line.  Please state the nature of your medical need.”
  • CALLER: Ahem. <whispers> “Herpes.”
  • CLINIC: “I’m sorry.  We didn’t hear you.  Please state…”
  • CALLER: “Herpes.”
  • CLINIC: “Did you say ‘herpes’?  If so, please say ‘yes’.”
  • CALLER: “Yes”.
  • CLINIC: “Thank you.  Please state the type of herpes that you are calling about.”
  • CALLER: <click>

Honestly.  The good, old “press 1 for billing, press 2 for support…” menus are just fine with me.  Would someone please tell Verizon that?


Oh, coffee cups…why do you mock me?

Remember this coffee cup?  The one that was going to change my life forever???  Well, it sucks.  Big time.  Alas, my woes continue…

My wife (bless her heart!) noticed some travel mugs while we were out at Starbucks last night.  I’ve already had a few that didn’t work out so well, but one in particular looked promising.  I took it up to the counter and asked if they would “test” the cup for leakage for me.  They agreed, but the Starbucks guy balked a bit at my request to put hot water in the cup for testing (vs. cold water, of course).  “A liquid is a liquid”, he argued.  Does he not know that hot water will act differently in a sealed coffee cup?  Steam, pressure, and all that??  Schools these days…

Anyhow, the coffee cup passed with flying colors and went home with us.  So far, so good after the first commute-with-the-new-cup.  Meanwhile, the Lamenator9000 (aka, the “previous cup”) went back where I purchased it.  No questions asked, which is a bit strange.  Perhaps they’ll just slap it back on the shelf!?!

Perhaps that’s what happened the first time…

Travel mug woes

My life over the past couple of years has been fraught with one “coffee cup woe” (TM) after another.  Travel mug, coffee cup, beverage container, or what have you — I need them, and I can never find one that suits my fancy.  You see, the issue is that my car (an early 90’s Saab 900 Turbo) doesn’t have cup holder, unless you count the slightly raised rings in the glovebox. <insert picture here>  Those are difficult to use while driving.  Actually, they’re pretty useless while you’re parked too, come to think of it.  In fact, there aren’t a LOT of great solutions for a cup holder in a car like mine.  Rather, I opt to find a good travel mug that won’t leak.

Easy enough, right?  Not so much.

I tried a few Starbucks mugs — typically plastic cups (or mugs) with a threaded lid and a closeable top.  I went through (4) of their mugs before giving up.  They nearly all would leak — some worse than others — and all ended up broken at one point or another.  The “clear plastic around inner plastic” models typically develop a crack between the handle and the lid, and become totally nasty when a little water gets in between the plastic layers.  One of my cups had mold growing.  That’s sick!

One cup to rule them all.  One cup to save them!

I thought I’d found the be-all-end-all of travel mugs.  Those wacky folks at OXO — makers of the Good Grips brand — have a pretty decent reputation.  When I found one of their LiquiSeal (TM) travel mugs, I figured that my search was over.  Nice looking, well-shaped drinking lid, no handle (I don’t like handles on my coffee cups), and virtually leak free!  Observe…

(Pretty handsome, eh?  If I was single again…)

Well, the Good Grips love ended last week.  Let me explain:

Shortly before leaving for work, I happened to glance down into the spout of the travel mug and notice some “crud”, if you will.  Looked like it wasn’t cleaned very well.  Mind you, either my wife or I would handwash this cup every single evening, so it should’ve been fine.  Regardless, I unscrewed the top to drink my coffee that day, with a promise of “looking into things” that evening.  I kept my promise, but I wasn’t happy about what I found!  First of all, the drinking spout had quite a bit of gunk and crud in it.  Using a Q-Tip (TM), I attempted to clean it out pretty well.  Next up, the underside of the lid where the stopper and seal reside.  Guess what?  You can’t unscrew it.  In other words, except for the 1/4″ of space that you have to around the seal, there is no real way to get in there and clean.  Busting out my trusty Q-Tips again, I attempted to clean what I could.  Not pretty.  About 20 Q-Tips later, I still had rings and chunks of dried nastiness falling into the palm of my hand.  Each Q-Tip was covered with brown dried or slightly gelatinous gunk.  Know what?  Amazon reviews tell me that others have been finding the same thing…

I couldn’t use that cup any longer.  (Well…. *that* and the fact that I ruined the lid trying to boil it and loosen the gunk.)  No more OXO Good Grips LiquiSeal cup!

So… I’ve purchase a new cup today, and it looks promising.  It’s the ThermoPerfect 16oz Vacuum-Insulated Travel Mug.  More or less similar to the picture below.

Know what else!  It looks like you can *actually* CLEAN this thing!  A novel idea.

Anyhow, the “verdict” is most certainly out on the new cup, but I have high hopes.