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2010

It’s hard to cancel Wall Street Journal Online

Link: It’s hard to cancel Wall Street Journal Online: ""

Who would think that an august publication like the Wall Street Journal would pull something like this: I was paying for access to their online edition. I decided to cancel it. Their very rich and sophisticated web site lets me change just about anything, but there's no mention, anywhere, including FAQ and help, on canceling.

Oh, and wait, there's more: there is an 1-800 number to call. But guess what, they too can't cancel. They have to forward you to someone else, and wait again, who then tries to talk you out of canceling. Geez.

JetBlue: Summary cancellation

Link: JetBlue: Summary cancellation: ""

I was supposed to fly from San Fransisco to Boston today. Monday (2 days ago) I got an email from JetBlue saying, more or less: "Sorry to tell you, but your flight has been canceled. Please call 1-800-xxx to make a new reservation or get a refund." No explanation of why. I was taken aback, but I guess it happens all the time. After spending 30 minutes on hold, I was able to make new plans which had me leaving a day early (yesterday.) Back safe and sound now.

To JetBlue's credit for the moment, they are waving all change fees and more importantly, any fare differences. From their web site it seems like the flight was canceled due to 'weather.' While indeed tonight at 10pm we're supposed to be in the middle of a blizzard here in Boston, on Monday, when they canceled, the weather today was predicted to ok. I guess they have better weather forecasters than the weather channel!

When news breaks, we fix it

Link: When news breaks, we fix it: ""

That was the old slogan of Jon Stewart's Daily Show. This morning, while I was in a meeting, my cell phone reported the following 'breaking news' from CNN:

"- An explosion at a Connecticut power plant near Hartford has caused "mass casualties," authorities say."

Pretty scary. What was it? What's going on? Well it turns out, now, 6 hours later, that "at least 5" people died, and 12 injured. Still a serious accident but how can CNN justify that kind of sensational report sent out on their 'breaking news' text message?

I was talking this weekend to someone with a lot of experience as a journalist and he said, to my surprise, that news organizations don't even bother 'fact checking' stories now. Gone are the days I remember from 'All the President's Men' when every story had to be confirmed independently by one, maybe two other sources.

Sophsiticated (odd) paywall at the Wall Street Journal

Link: Sophsiticated (odd) paywall at the Wall Street Journal: ""

So I am trying to decide whether I should renew my subscription to Wall Street Journal online. I read an article hear and there in the journal probably every day but certainly not the whole paper. So I've been paying a little more attention to what that subscription gets me.

Here are some interesting findings:

If I go to www.wsj.com (not logged in) and click on "Apple's iPad Changes the landscape for App makers" I get a partial article with a message that I should subscribe if I want to read the whole thing.

If I go to google and search for "Apple's iPad Changes the landscape for App makers" I actually see the whole article!

If within that whole article, I click on the print link, lo and behold, I only get to print the first paragraph. (Of course I could print the full article myself without using the print link.)

On the other hand if I go to www.wsj.com and click on Kim Strassel's article in the opinion section, I get the whole thing without needing to log in.

Pretty fancy. Are they over thinking it?

Wolfram on Computable Knowledge

Link: Wolfram on Computable Knowledge: ""

Stephen Wolfram is a genius. (Ok, he's also a bit grandiose, self-promoting and arrogant, but I think he's amazing. Kind of like I feel about Ray Kurzweil, another genius IMHO.)

Wolfram|Alpha is his latest product, and it's a fascinating experiment. I can only imagine the work that has gone into it, both the Mathematica foundation and the data collection, cleansing and organization. In my own experimentation with the site, I have had mixed results. It's still growing up. I see the promise, and I am rooting for it. But for now it isn't that useful, for me, anyway.

Wolfram has written a very long and interesting treatise on Computable Knowledge as he calls it. I won't try to excerpt or summarize it. For people interested in mathematics and computation, or in Stephen Wolfram himself, it's worth reading. I really enjoyed it.Technorati Tags: mathematics, stephenwolfram

Originally posted on Jul 14, 2009. Reprinted courtesy of ReRuns plug-in.