Monday, January 29, 2007

Driving with fish

A major realization hit me about a year ago. People drive on the freeway in a fashion that is similar to schooling fish in the ocean. People tend to try to drive in packs. I think these packs naturally form as a result of our schooling/herding instinct that still lies deep in ourselves. Even in driver's ed, I learned that people will tend to try to drive in packs. I've heard these packs referred to by a variety of names, but ultimately, I think the herding instinct is a holdover when we where fish living in schools, hundreds of millions of years ago. This instinct was almost completely dorminate until billions of us got behind the wheel of a car during the 20th Century.
For example, when you pull up on someone's side in the next lane at about 5 mph faster, there is a pretty high chance of that person slightly speeding up to match your speed. And the same is true in the opposite. If you are ahead of someone that is slowing pulling up on you in the next lane, there is a high chance of that person slowing down to match your speed, usually in your blind spot. Of course, this usually occurs when you need to get into the land into that space they occupy.
I've learned to work around this and use my knowledge to my advantage. I know that powering ahead instead of just cruising ahead will actually cause most others to ignore me instead of trying to join me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SolidWorks Yahoo! Group revival

The story of the SolidWorks Yahoo! Group revival begins way back in Feb 2006. I was looking for new macros that I would use to improve work flow on SolidWorks at my company. I looked everywhere online. One of the places I found was the SolidWorks Yahoo! Group. It was fairly active, with professional participation in discussions about SolidWorks. There was a problem, however.

I tried to contact the group owner, but never got a reply. Eventually, I started looking into why the group was unmoderated. The owner had disappeared; bouncy, bouncy. No one else was assigned to run the group, so the group was left to the elements, those dreaded spammers. Well, the rule with Yahoo! Groups is ownership cannot be transferred except by the owner. Since the owner was bouncy, there was no hope. I forget about the group for awhile. Then, in November, I checked it on a whim. It appeared that SolidWorks users where still actively using the group to post questions and answers.

It got me thinking that maybe, just maybe I could take ownership of this group to revive it. So, I contacted Yahoo! Groups with the following feedback comment:

Are you a... Member

Subject: Other

Type your feedback here: The moderator of SolidWorks yahoo group is not maintaining it, and has a bouncy email address. How does one claim control over a group that is experiencing this kind of neglect by still has large potential value to its members?

I waited for a few days before receiving this boiler plate response:

In a message dated 11/28/2006 11:49:36 P.M.
Pacific Standard Time,


Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Groups.

I have received your email and you are asking on how does one claim control over a group. I appreciate you contacting us and I'll be glad to assist you on this matter. I have checked the Yahoo! Group "solidworks", and it shows that the owner's account was bouncing. However, in as much as I would like to accommodate your request, I cannot appoint a new owner or moderator to the group as specified in the terms of our Privacy Policy. What I usually suggest is for you to contact the Group owner regarding this issue of handing over group's ownership. You may send an email to: In the event that the owner can no longer be contacted, one alternative is for you to create your own group and send out invitations to those people who you would like to join your new group. I appreciate your utmost patience and understanding with regard to this matter. If you have any other concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.


Shelley, Yahoo! Customer Care

Well, the bureaucratic wheels are churning. There was even double-speak that was self-referencial. At this point, I know I have one chance at getting what I want. My reply will have to be forceful and direct, with points with which cannot be argued. Here's my Hail Mary:


Thank you for your reply.

I do realize that there is a Yahoo policy against the transfer of ownership
for yahoo groups. However, in light of this situation with SolidWorks yahoo group, I (as a Yahoo customer) feel that such a rigid and absolute rule on the matter is counter productive to members of Yahoo Groups in general (not just in regards to SolidWorks yahoo group). Though I don't speak for the SolidWorks Corporation, the name "SolidWorks" is a trademarked name whose customers would benefit from having the only Yahoo Group that bares that exact name being made active again. Customers are users that are working, educated professions that seek convenient interaction with other customers of SolidWorks. A new group creates confusion and increases the lack of interest in using Yahoo Groups at all for this purpose.

Also, if the current state of SolidWorks yahoo group is an indicator, with so many groups without reachable owners or moderators, Yahoo Groups appears to be cluttered which makes the over all Yahoo Groups less valuable as a service, in general. As a matter of customer service, I request that you reconsider your policy in regards to the transfer of ownership for groups whose owners are bouncy for more than six months. Moderators should be able to claim a group at that time. If no moderators exist, members should be able to petition for ownership directly to Yahoo. To avoid spammers from taking charge of groups for professional purposes, set criteria for the approval of those petitions.

Matthew Lorono
Santa Clara, CA

The reply I think got surprized me. Yahoo! Groups staff stepped up the plate.

Hello Matthew,

Thank you for
writing to Yahoo! Groups.

We appreciate your comments on this matter and can understand your concerns.

Because your group is not currently moderated, we may be able to appoint a new moderator for the group. If you would like a new moderator for the group, please start a poll using the group's polls feature and list the member names of a few members, who would like to be a moderator, as choices for the poll. Please announce the poll to your group and ask the members to vote on who they would like to be moderator. Once the poll has closed, please email me back and I will appoint the "elected" moderator. I do apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

Gidget, Yahoo! Customer Care

The squeaky wheel gets the grease! This is how we do it! And I even got a reply from some girl with an overly cute name.

So, I left a message on the group asking for volunteers. Two people piped up. Of those two, only one had a history of contributing to the site. So, I put that person up, and myself as the two options in the poll. A month later, I closed the poll and notified Yahoo! Groups staff. I wondered if I would hear from this "Gidget" again?

Gidget (Customer Care),

Per your requirements (see Customer Care email below), I have run a poll for the SolidWorks Yahoo Group to determine a new "elected" group moderator, because the group is not currently being moderated. Two individuals with a history of contributing to the site were self-nominated for this poll. The person with yahoo id maccormackc (Chris MacCormack, who is cc:'d on this email) won the poll results. Please appoint maccormackc as the new group moderator for the Yahoo! Group SolidWorks as soon as possible.

Thank you for your prompt action in advance.

Matthew Lorono

Well, Gidget did not respond back. However, Derek did respond back with the happy news.

Hello Matthew,

Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.

The situation you describe has been completed.

We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused you. Please be ssured that we'll do our best to prevent such problems in the future. If you continue to experience the problem, or if we can be of assistance in another matter, please let us know by replying to this email. If you can describe in as much detail as possible the problem you are having, any steps you take leading up to it, how frequently it ccurs, and the exact text of any error messages you receive, it will help us to provide a solution more quickly.

Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Customer Care.


Derek, Yahoo! Customer Care

Derek was no Gidget, and his response didn't make much sense, but he gave me what I wanted, and that's all that mattered! ;) After a couple of days, Chris and I began to revive the group, adding content, removing spam, banning spammers, approving new members, etc. And
it now appears to be getting the attention it deserves! The main guy at the SolidWorks corporation that manages user groups has just joined and may contribute to the site as well! Kudos!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Looking forward

I'm looking forward to the weekend. Time to just relax. The week has been a bit more stressful than normal, so..yeah..yuk. Time to have some fun.

In other news, my blog is back up (obviously). Yeah. Only took a month for Blogger to fix the issue. But now that I am back up, I'm able to use Blogger's new functions. I don't blog abou blog too often, so yeah, that's enough of that.

Remind me to write about the microwave. arg

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm waiting, waiting, waiting here at the dealership for my car's oil change.

Yup, waiting. ::yawn::