Are there any customer-friendly technology stores in the Netherlands?

Ugh. The other day I placed an order from TakeItNow.com, an online reseller of computer accessories. Actually, I thought of placing an order so I called ahead of time since it was a bit confusing on the site. I asked if they had two items: a 160GB laptop drive, and an UltraBay Slim drive housing to plug the drive into the DVD drive slot on my Thinkpad. The guy said yes. So I asked if I could pick it up today. And then he changed his answer to say that he could order it and it would take 1–3 days. I had to think about it but he mentioned I could place the order on the website. If he had it in stock, it becomes more of an impulse buy and it would have been done quickly.

So after a bit of thought I placed the order on the site. I was busy doing lots of other things that day, but after  a while I contacted them to ask why I never received any confirmation from them. I was told that I could call in for that confirmation. A while later I came back to my pc to see that an email arriving confirming my order and all was well.

Fast forward three days. I hadn’t heard anything else. Going up to the website it didn’t look like anything had been done, so I called them. No answer. So I emailed instead. Next day I get an answer that says they haven’t done anything because they are waiting for me to confirm the order with them.

Why do they even bother with a website if placing orders via that site mean absolutely nothing. Why couldn’t they tell me they needed confirmation from me when I placed the order. In fact, in the final email response they mentioned they needed a 10% deposit before they could order the laptop drive. Again, this was in the final email 6 days after I placed the order.

Has anyone had any luck purchasing anything from TakeItNow? Are there any resellers of technology goods in the Netherlands that are worth bothering with???

Listening to On The Road…

Today is perhaps the last full day I get to spend in my apartment for a while. For the next few, I will be teaching classes in our Netherlands office, as well as in Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Oslo, Bangkok, back to Singapore, then off to Denver, Seattle, Calgary, and Tucson. In preparation for that long trip, or joined set of three, I am listening to another trip from 60 years ago. A trip taken by Sal Paradise through the US. Its the Matt Dillon recording of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Listening to the story, I wonder how much of it is true, how much is just made up. I wonder because I don’t have the types of experiences that Jack’s characters have. I wonder if this is because I am mostly going for work, or if Sal is just of collection of many people’s experiences. I wonder if a trip like that is possible today, or limited to 1940’s America. It’s interesting listening to the stops he makes as I have seen so many of them. From his start in Patterson and New York City. Up to Bear Mountain to catch the beginning of Route 6. Over to Chicago and Denver. A brief glimpse of Truckee, a place I have spent a bit more time in, particulary dinners at Rosies and the other restaurants nearby. The recording is just getting through Sacramento and on to San Francisco as I write this. So far, the road’s traveled are as much a character as Sal, his friends, and the cities they encounter. The roads like routes 6 and 66 are the parts that are completely foreign to me. When I have seen much of the US, it has been by the major highways that were built a decade after this book, or flying 30,000 feet above. If I have been on ‘the road’ it has been in my own car, not in the borrowed seats of a friendly passer-by. I was always taught that putting my thumb out on the road was a quick way to dying a horrible death. I don’t think that this is making me want to try that mode of transport, but I am longing to see that part of America. The crossing of middle America, and through the small towns forgotten by the major interstates. But such a trip is a little further away from me now that I am living in Europe. Is that trip possible here? Was it done in Kerouac’s time? Is there a ‘On the Road’ of France, or Germany?

Recommendations on Singapore, Melbourne, Canberra, or Sydney

At the end of next week I am traveling again. This time I head to Singapore for a week, then Melbourne for a week, Canberra for a week, and Sydney for a week. Not really sure what I want to do while I am there (apart from teach a few Captaris classes). Does anyone have any recommendations for me? Is there anything I have to do while I am there?

Looking out to July, I am also heading to Oslo, Bangkok, and a return trip to Singapore. Recommendations for Oslo and Bangkok would be great too.

Why do the French even bother…

When I first arrived in the Netherlands office I was given a 2004 Peugeot 305 SW to drive until the new leasing contracts were worked out and I could order my own car. Over the course of the next few months, I also found myself in rentals from Renault and Citroen. Simply put, these cars suck! I don’t even know why the French bother building cars anymore. Take this Peugeot. Its about 2 years old and has low mileage but if drives as if it has done the Paris Dakar rally a dozen times. It rattles, shudders, and plods along threatening to fail any moment. Thieves recognize the car as easy pickings (based on personal experience as well as police accounts). Even the company names seem to be synonymous with “crap” for most people I have talked to. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule, but generally it seems to be true.

Well, finally I have been able to get rid of this piece of junk. My new car got delivered on Friday. All the “features” that annoyed me to no end with the Peugeot are nowhere to be seen in this new vehicle. Ahhhh: Volkswagen Golf 2.0 FSi 4Motion. This thing is sweet. Not quite as fast as the GTI I had in the US, but then cars are FAR more expensive here…I couldn’t afford it. Do I need 4Motion, VW’s four wheel drive technology? Not really. Do I need Xenon headlights? Probably not. Do I need any of the other features of this car? I don’t think so. But the car sure is fun to drive.