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When writing Metro’s customer service, remember: be polite, be specific, and keep it to the point.

October 3, 2011, 6:31 PM

So many people complain on the Twitter about having a bad time contacting Metro’s customer service. Take this exchange from earlier today between @jb_martin and myself, for example:

#WMATA‘s cust srvc dept needs a complete sandblasting from top to bottom…a child could handle complaints better than they could.
October 3 10:23 AM by @jb_martin

@jb_martin @FixWMATA WMATA customer service gives good service as long as you are polite, specific, and to the point. Doing that? #wmata
October 3 10:45 AM by @SchuminWeb

@SchuminWeb do you happen to have the coordinates for the gateway to the parallel universe you’re obviously referring to? @FixWMATA
October 3 12:08 PM by @jb_martin

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has nice things to say about Metro’s customer service department. But if I have a concern that I need addressed, I am polite, specific, and to the point. I do not provide my personal opinion about what I may or may not consider the value and importance of what I am bringing to their attention. Obviously, if I am still thinking about it when I get to a real computer and go to Metro’s comment form to send Metro a note, it is assumed that it is important to me. However, while I make no explicit value judgments, I will try to give an educated guess as to what I believe the problem might be if I can.

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Categories: Social media, WMATA

“…because nobody likes roasted nuts!”

July 6, 2011, 11:02 PM

Oh, did I have a great Fourth of July! As a federal holiday, my office was closed, and so I had the day off. Now for Fourth of July in DC, when you consider that (A) I’m local, and (B) I think the security theater around the Mall is a joke, I don’t normally do the Fourth of July in DC proper unless I have a really good reason.

This year, I had a very good reason to head into DC for Fourth of July. I’ve discussed the YouTube show Is It A Good Idea To Microwave This? before, and they had scheduled a stop in Washington DC on their road trip down the east coast from Boston to Miami. The DC stop was on July 4 at the Washington Monument. And considering I’ve been watching Jory Caron, Jonathan Paula, and Riley McIlwain microwave stuff since March 2008 (the “Sandra” era!), I was not going to pass up the opportunity to meet the folks I’ve gotten to know via YouTube for years. The designated meetup place was on the west side of the Washington Monument at 1 PM, and I was going to be there in plenty of time. Metro from Glenmont to Farragut North, hoof it up the street escalator which was, naturally, stopped (good thing I’m in better shape now!), and then to the Washington Monument on foot from there.

It was smooth sailing for the most part, going past the White House (without stopping), and down 15th Street to Constitution Avenue. There, I was met with a wall of people watching a parade. I was a bit annoyed, as I figured that Jory, Jon, and Riley were already there and that now I was going to be late, despite my best work in getting an early start and such. But I shouldn’t have worried. As I was trying to find someone who looked official to ask about where I could cross the street, I spotted Jon, and with him Jory and Riley. I said hello and identified myself as a fan, and I ended up helping them get to the Monument. We ended up finding a place to cross Constitution Avenue at 16th Street and then backtrack over to almost 15th again where the checkpoint was.

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Categories: YouTube

More swimming, Jimbo Wales, and a new exercise guide!

June 13, 2011, 11:10 PM

Oh, do I have a lot to discuss today. First of all, I went swimming on Sunday, which was an interesting experience all its own. What made it so interesting was how busy the pool was. First, though, I got there early, while maintenance work was still going on. So I got to do something I’d told Mom I’d do for a while now: take pictures of the pool. And here they are:

The "leisure pool" (read: kiddie pool) area. This pool is three feet deep at its deepest, and water is normally flowing out of the top of the mushroom structure towards the back, and water fills the buckets in the right of the photo. The buckets tip over and dump their contents when they become full. There's also a small water slide that's mostly out of frame, but you can see part of it behind the buckets. One of the two "hydrotherapy pools" (read: hot tub) is visible in the background.
The “leisure pool” (read: kiddie pool) area. This pool is three feet deep at its deepest, and water is normally flowing out of the top of the mushroom structure towards the back, and water fills the buckets in the right of the photo. The buckets tip over and dump their contents when they become full. There’s also a small water slide that’s mostly out of frame, but you can see part of it behind the buckets. One of the two “hydrotherapy pools” (read: hot tub) is visible in the background.

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This is why the next-to-last station will show no trains on the inbound display screen, and why no trains on screen is often acceptable…

May 31, 2011, 9:45 PM

So I was perusing the Twitter this morning, and came upon this tweet by FixWMATA:

Inbound PID at Eisenhower during “Peak of the Peak” morning rush. #wmata http://twitpic.com/5500rj
May 31 7:34 AM

FixWMATA's image of the Eisenhower Avenue PIDS
Photo: FixWMATA

What you are looking at is purported to be the PIDS screen on the inbound side of Eisenhower Avenue station.  Other details in the photo seem to confirm this. The concern being raised here is that the PIDS screen is blank.

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So why don’t you just tell us what you really think?

January 11, 2011, 10:02 PM

So I drove to work today, and then going home, I put the phone in my GPS mount and did a Video Journal entry from the driver’s seat. And here it is:

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So the question remains… could William Shatner run Metro better than the current Metro management?

September 22, 2010, 8:56 PM

Right around 5:00, I got an Email titled, “Dude! You made Slate!!!!” I followed the link in the message, and found an article on the online magazine Slate by Justin Peters called “$#*! @SenJeffMerkley Says“.

The gist of the article was to take tweets that people posted on the Twitter and use them as the basis for primetime television show concepts. Creative writing at its finest. The second one used my Twitter feed, of all things, and here’s what they said:

The @SchuminWeb Files
Office manager. Transit enthusiast. World-class detective. Ben Schumin is the man to call when something’s amiss with your D.C.-area morning commute. In this fall’s hottest new suspense drama, the plodding, methodical Schumin will tackle unsolved mysteries (“No underground cell service from Glenmont station to halfway to Wheaton. What’s wrong? #wmata”), investigate horrible crimes (“@FixWMATA Who do you think the thieves are? #wmata”), maintain the peace (“A kid is screaming on the train. Get this little noisemaker OFF MY TRAIN! #wmata”), and generally remain alert (“Note to self: Get off at Metro Center this morning. #wmata”). Co-starring William Shatner as X, the villainous head of the mysterious “#wmata” organization.

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Categories: Netculture, Social media, WMATA

I think I probably know why I blocked this fellow…

April 6, 2010, 11:29 AM

As many of you know, I am an administrator on Wikipedia, and with that comes various extra tools that allow me to roll back vandalism, protect pages, and block disruptive editors. There are occasions when administrative actions get some feedback. Some think I may have been slightly too close to a dispute. Or maybe I protected a page on The Wrong Version. Or maybe I speedily deleted something that wasn’t as clear-cut as I thought. It happens.

It’s the people who get blocked that are amusing. This bit of hate mail recently came across my inbox, from a person named Jim Cooper, from Email address cooper7069@yahoo.com, and with an IP address of 76.123.26.105:

hello, 1st, i would like to say that i really enjoy your website. 2nd i noticed that you went to james masdison university, many of my friends attend JMU currently, and its a beautiful place. 3rd, i like were you state that people should act their age, not their shoe size. i wear a size 15 shoe, so i hope that my age wouldnt show.(haha) 4th, im pretty sure my size 15 shoe with proper force would fit up your ass. (jk) 5th, block me on wikipedia for no reason again and i will make sure that it happens. (lol)

take care.

Sincerly, Jim Cooper

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Categories: Wikipedia

So how would you integrate Twitter into Schumin Web?

March 17, 2010, 9:39 PM

As you may have seen on a recent site update, I have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. I envision using Twitter as kind of a mini-Journal. In other words, stuff that’s not enough for a full Journal entry, but certainly worth a mention. And with the site redesign going on, now is a good time to do this kind of work, rather than shoehorn it in later.

So far, I’ve come up with a footer link for the page. It takes the existing Facebook page link that’s been at the bottom of every page since October and makes it more prominent and pairs it with the new Twitter link. Thus under the row of links with updates, contact, privacy, etc., there will be a new line that says, “Follow The Schumin Web on Facebook and Twitter”, with “Facebook” and “Twitter” in their own logos. Facebook will still be used the same as it always has, consisting mainly of Journal entries and the like. Then Twitter will be like a mini-Journal. Of course, I first have to get into the habit of actually using the Twitter.

So now the question becomes, how do you integrate Twitter into Schumin Web? Considering I envision Twitter as something of a mini-Journal, I was thinking of putting a box of some sort for the Twitter feed there, possibly in the vicinity of the menu.

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Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…

January 20, 2010, 10:47 PM

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. I try to get a little discourse going on a political issue with a known hostile crowd on Facebook, and their arguments become so nonsensical that it finally becomes pointless to continue. But then again, it’s also kinda fun. Most recently, it started with this as someone’s status message:

[Name] is lifting up prayers that this healthcare bill DOES NOT PASS

Okay, so we’ve got an opinion. They want to see the healthcare bill fail. So let’s dig in:

Ben Schumin Why don’t you want to see it pass?

So I’ve started the discussion. Why don’t they want to see it pass? Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get what I really want out of this health care thing (single-payer for all), but it’s still better than nothing, as it outlaws a number of the health insurance industry’s dirty tricks, like denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and recission of coverage. We can then build on this later to ultimately end up where we really ought to be down the road.

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Finally, a caption…

October 29, 2009, 9:30 PM

Finally, I figured out a caption for this photo:

Peabo in Lolcat mode

This is a photo of my friend Katie’s cat Peabo. As you can see, he’s gotten himself into a case of beer. And it only took Katie and I a month and a half to come up with this caption. When she first sent this to me in mid-September, I immediately saw Lolcat potential for it, but couldn’t figure out a caption. I at first thought of “I can haz beer?” for it, but that’s too much like the oft-used “I can haz cheezburger?” line. Katie and I even did a little brainstorming on the phone last night and came up empty.

Then today, Katie sent the perfect caption: “Where’s the beer? I can’t find it, it’s not here!” I ran it through the Lolcat translator, and got, “Wherez teh ber? I cant find it, iz not her!” Then I dropped the second part of it, and put it in the proper Impact font, and on the image. And one lolcat image. Pretty clever, no?

Categories: Katie, Netculture

How many public IPs does Augusta County have?

September 18, 2009, 7:05 PM

So I was talking to my mother on the phone this evening, and we discussed my day, and one of the things that came up was the stuff I did on Wikipedia during my lunch break this afternoon. As it turns out, I blocked an anonymous user for two weeks for vandalism, whose IP address, 216.12.45.78, is registered to Augusta County Public Schools, which is the school district where my mother teaches, and where I went to middle school and high school.

So I just kind of threw it out there to Mom: “How many public IPs does Augusta County have?” Mom was kind of taken back by that question, since we had a little language barrier here. What’s an IP? What does IP stand for? Explaining that was a little difficult, since in the few minutes I had to explain it, I had no chance of getting Mom to understand, though if I had a little longer, I might have had a way of figuring it out.

And now I did figure out how to explain it, after the conversation, of course. Basically, imagine you’re in a neighborhood. Each apartment building has a street address. That’s your public IP address. Let’s take “123 Sesame Street”, for example. Say that 123 Sesame Street has the IP address 123.456.789.000. Then each apartment inside 123 Sesame Street has a number. Thus the behind-the-router numbering of 192.168.x.x. Thus Gordon and Susan, in one apartment are 192.168.1.101. Bob is 192.168.1.102. Bert and Ernie are 192.168.1.103. Maria and Luis are 192.168.1.104. They all access the world by walking through the halls of 123 Sesame Street, and then going through the front doors of 123 Sesame Street. The apartment is your inside IP address, the hallways are your router, and then the door is your public IP. Thus Gordon and Susan’s computer, with a local IP address of 192.168.1.101, goes through the router and accesses the Internet via the public IP 123.456.789.000.

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Categories: Internet, Wikipedia

So what ever happened to the DNA evidence?

July 8, 2009, 8:45 PM

For the past four days, I’ve been having a little fun with my Facebook friends. I’ve been posting status messages with the phrase “DNA evidence” in it without any explanation, and seeing what kind of responses I get. I chose “DNA evidence” as a phrase as a tribute to the use of DNA evidence as a running joke in six consecutive Strong Bad Emails on Homestar Runner. Then it was all explained in the cartoon DNA Evidence.

All together, I posted four “DNA evidence” status messages:

Ben Schumin is going to have that DNA evidence on the desk by nine!

Ben Schumin is not going to make the 51 bus tonight. The DNA evidence pointed to it.

Ben Schumin wonders what happened to the DNA evidence.

Ben Schumin *sigh*… DNA evidence.

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I just realized I never told you about my weekend…

March 9, 2009, 11:38 PM

What fun I had! I got to take a bunch of railfan photos, and I also got to meet the DC area Wikipedia gurus once again.

First, though, I railfanned. I had gotten wind on the Railroad.net forums that Metro would be single-tracking between Vienna and West Falls Church, and with that configuration, that usually means that (A) some trains will be terminating at West Falls Church instead of Vienna, and (B) trains will be utilizing the center track at West Falls Church to cross over to the proper track for single-tracking.

Thus, I rolled on over to West Falls Church, coming down from Glenmont via Metro Center. I caught a train terminating at West Falls Church, and was initially disappointed because the train offloaded at West Falls Church on the correct track. I was disappointed because I figured that they would terminate the short-turn trains on the center track and then dwell there before departing to New Carrollton.

Before we continue, here’s the track layout at West Falls Church:

Track layout at West Falls Church

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Categories: Wikipedia, WMATA

25 random things about me…

January 30, 2009, 7:12 PM

The latest meme around Facebook is posting 25 random things that you might not otherwise know about them as a “note”. And as of right now, I’ve been tagged three times in people’s notes about it. It’s quite interesting reading about all of these different things about people, since while I know many of these people very well, a lot of these facts are things I didn’t know.

With this meme, the rule is as follows: “Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.” Then you’re supposed to tag 25 people in the note, including those who tagged you.

Since I’ve been tagged three times, in deciding whether or not to do this, I had one of those what-the-hell-why-not moments. I will admit this up front – this is going to be hard, since I’ve discussed so much on Schumin Web over the past twelve years, that it’s hard to find stuff I haven’t discussed on here.

So here goes.

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Categories: Myself, Social media

Who doesn’t like a free hug?

September 10, 2008, 10:54 PM

So as far as I was concerned, International Free Hug Day was a resounding success, as free hugs were given to all who wanted them. This was an event that I organized with Anonymous as a flash raid, and so we gave our free hugs on the triangle across from the Founding Church of Scientology, in front of La Tomate. I was out there for three hours, having come straight from work, and Heidi joined in about halfway through. Check us out:

Heidi with my "FREE HUGS" sign  Me with my "FREE HUGS" sign

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