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well now that the holiday season is over (well to some it is, i'm officially writing it off -- santa came and stayed up very late putting things together in my..er...um his garage), let the red ink for the retail industry fly.  i'm talking about the "other" season that is hitting the stores...returns/exchanges.

i'm taking some time off this week and had no other better excuse so my i accompanied my wife to the mall to return some items (note to self: don't buy women clothes).  i was extremely hesitant as i'm a terribly impatient person and completely selfish...but i went...2 kids in tow as well.

the mall actually wasn't that bad -- we got there at the beginning to seemingly avoid the rush (and we did, we left at 1pm and it was a friggin madhouse in the parking lots).  this year i managed to do most of my shopping online, and was grateful for that.  in return, however, i learned a valuable lesson -- pay attention.  yes that's right, the simple lesson.  you see, when i shopped online, i only purchased from stores that had a brick/mortar presence.  my inner voice was telling me that was the safest thing to do in the event of a return/exchange -- simply go to the store and do it there.  i stuck with only big names and recognizable stores to do this.  i simply didn't question that there would be any issue.  alas, there is my naivety.

one of the places i shopped was victoria's secret (yes, i'm married -- but even if i wasn't, and had a lady friend...mucho points with the ladies :-)).  i went online shopped for some things and purchased (remember, my wife even pointed me to the pajamas she wanted).  so that was the first store we went to.  i am guessing you can see where this is going.  the clerk told her "oh, i'm sorry the online store is completely different than our stores.  you have to return it through them."

completely different?  maybe this story should be on !  let's see, i went to victoriassecret.com -- and the name on the store says victoria's secret...heck the branding looks the same to me.  as a consumer, this WAS BROKEN.  i was furious -- as was the wife.  how could such a large retailer not "get it" when it came to purchasing online?  (note: every single other place allowed the returns: sport chalet, tillys, best buy, etc.)  they lost a customer that day.  the online was a convenience sure, but i also payed for that (i.e., shipping).  even if the actual business entities are set up differently, places like that (and that are that recognizable) should have some process set up...call them charge backs, whatever...don't make the consumer suffer.  in our eyes, there is no difference...the store is the store, whether it was online or not. 

that was my only bad experience this season -- but it left a lasting mark -- hey victoria, your thong might be a little too tight -- pull it out and figure out what consumers want, not what is easiest to you...

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heard on some gaming discussion boards:

Personally, I think it is terrible that people who would gladly wait in line for days to get a new PS3 probably complained when they had to wait an hour or so to vote in the elections.

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at the phoenix barcamp i had an opportunity to look at the new nintendo wii console.  the facility has just about every console (except an xbox 360...hmmm).  some of the guys from had one in their office and were raving about it so they showed me the ropes.

i have to say, i was quite impressed.  the graphics looked...hmmm...like nintendo if that makes sense...i still felt i was in super mario land versus some street in project gotham...but i guess it is a different target audience.

playing around with the remote was different...it's a mouse essentially communicating with an infrared bar you put somewhere near your television.  then it sense motion for certain games (we were playing the wii sports: tennis, boxing, golf) and makes the players do whatever.  it worked remarkably well and in the boxing game could give you a bit of a workout even.

the integrum guys commented about making sure we attached the remote to our wrists using the safety tether.  and apparently looking at this site: http://www.wiihaveaproblem.com/show_cat.php?cat=2 that needs to be stressed :-)

it's no xbox 360 in terms of graphics quality or depth of games i don't think, but it is a different audience.

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i've been getting some feedback about finding the correct registration links for the upcoming launch events...

here they are:

if you have ever been to launch event for microsoft in the past you'll know that you usually get some good stuff -- i've not gotten final confirmation of what that stuff is, but trust me, you'll want to be there ;-).

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visual studio service pack 1 has been released. you can get it at the Visual Studio Dev Center. additionally, the sp1 update for vista is released in beta if you are developing on vista.