Get Stuffed, Officeworks!

I had occasion to purchase a new router and a couple of USB network cards from Officeworks in North Sydney a couple of days ago. Total cost: around $285. Not an insignificant purchase -and not exactly small in the ‘bulky packaging’ stakes, either, with each component coming in its own giant cardboard box. Carrying the things around loose was not an option -but neither was being given a carrier bag for the purpose, for at Officeworks, you are told at the checkout that you can “purchase a carrier bag for 20c if you like”.

Having no other practical means of transporting the goods, I reluctantly made the bag purchase, but I emailed them as soon as I could:

Your stupid policy of not providing carrier bags unless you charge an extra 20 cents (on top of the $285 I’d just spent) has lost you a customer for the last time. It’s green tokenism, and very annoying. Change that policy or, slowly, go bust. Your choice.

I wasn’t honestly expecting an answer to that, but today one came in… and a more egregious example of “corporate double-think-speak” I find it hard to imagine:

Dear Howard, Thankyou for your feedback.

At Officeworks we also care strongly about the environment. As result of our commitment to the environment Officeworks has introduced many changes to the way we do business. Where we used butcher paper as packaging within our cartons (for customer deliveries), we now use air bags that are made from recycled plastic that can be recycled with other plastic waste. The air bags use less energy to produce and are more easily disposed of. In each of our Retail Stores we also now sell a recyclable plastic bag made from natural corn starch & soy inks, which are 100% biodegradable. Customers are also able to purchase a blue “enviro” multi use bag, proceeds of each bag sold are donated to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to establish a private nature reserve in one of Australia’s last great natural areas – the remote Gulf of Carpentaria in Northern Australia. We recently introduced “Planet Ark” printer/copier cartridge recycling in all our Retail stores and a pickup service for our Phone/Online Business customers in capital cities. At Officeworks we are continually looking at ways we can work with the Australian community in reducing our impact on the environment.

I hope that I have been of assistance and please let me know if I can be of further help.

I suppose you could feel warm and cosy at the thought of my 20c bag purchase going to help the Gulf of Carpentaria… but personally, I’d just like to get my fairly expensive purchases home from the shop in one piece without being gouged for a charitable donation I’ve not freely chosen to make for myself.

Anyway, my reply:

Dear Shane: Your email doesn’t help at all, and I think you have found some new dictionary definition of the word “assistance” with which I was previously unfamiliar. You’re spouting green-y marketing twaddle when what I want is actual, practical assistance in transporting purchased goods from the shop.

When I pay $300 for a pile of electronic devices that all come in their own bulky packages, a carrier bag is a *necessity*, and to be charged 20c for the privilege of getting one is *insulting*. You can donate what you like to whatever greeny charities you like, but don’t inconvenience me while you’re doing it.

The equation is really very simple: keep spouting this sort of marketing feel-good rubbish, or retain me as a customer (by *giving* me a carrier bag when the value of my purchase warrants it). I fear you have chosen unwisely. (And I get to shop elsewhere as a result).


Or, in the pithier words of this blog post’s title: Get Stuffed, Officeworks! And since they’re owned by Wesfarmers, who also owns Coles and Harris Technology (to name but two), that’s quite a few shops I shall be avoiding at all costs in the future.

(It’s not that I’m anti-green. I just hate tokenism. In this case, the D-Link USB Nano network adapter measures about 3.5cm long -about 1¼ inches. It comes, however, in a box 21cms long, complete with multi-lingual warranty booklets, plastic inserts and plastic shrinkwrap. Plus a full-sized driver CD (with paper-and-plastic sleeve) that consists of just 56MB of actual content. With products packaged so extravagantly, Officeworks is just targeting the wrong people with its ‘no carrier bags unless you cough up the dosh’ policy, as far as I’m concerned.)

Fedora 16 (Alpha)

The first alpha release of what will eventually become Fedora 16 has been released -I got my copy from here (update: that link is obviously now to the production release DVD of Fedora 16!).

The default artwork for the release (see left) is, to my eyes, frankly alarming -well, if not alarming exactly, at least not very good! It’s only a wallpaper change away, but I do wish Fedora would stop trying to theme their desktops to match their fairly arbitrary choice of version codename (in this case, Fedora 16 is codenamed Jules Verne, as in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Yeah, I think it’s a bad idea for a desktop theme, too!)

And I’m still not convinced by Gnome 3 (initial horror with Fedora 15′s implementation of it gave way several weeks ago to keen enthusiasm, but that has since been replaced by indifferent dislike… there’s nothing much I’ve seen in Fedora 16′s implementation that counts as a major improvement). Otherwise, there’s the usual software-stack updates (Firefox is at version 6, for example; and you get 3.4.2 of LibreOffice thrown in), but most of the changes are, I think, under-the-hood stuff and aren’t likely to revolutionise your Linux life!

I have successfully tested a Gladstone-prepared 11g Release 2 installation on the new release. There is the usual pile of software the OUI claims doesn’t exist (click Ignore All when prompted, because they do). There is also the expected ‘Error in invoking target agent nmhs of makefile‘ problem during the linking phase. The workaround here is to run the script in your Desktop directory which Gladstone will have created for you (just navigate there with Nautilus and double-click the shell script when the linking error occurs, then click Retry in the Oracle Universal Installer. It’s plain sailing after that).

Interestingly, one of the reasonably significant changes made in this release (enough to get a mention in the release notes, anyway) is that, by default, a Desktop directory is no longer created for you during installation. However, Gladstone is hard-coded to write its fix-up script there, so a /home/<username>/Desktop directory needs to exist: create one before you start if you need to.

Of course, there can be no guarantees: what works in an alpha release might be broken by any subsequent beta, let alone the final, finished distro. But since it’s working right now, a revised, Fedora 16-aware, version of Gladstone is downloadable from the usual place.

Incidentally, I have not tested a 10gR2 installation on Fedora 16, and won’t be doing so. As was mentioned in various discussions on this blog lately, 10g Release 2 is out of mainstream Oracle support these days, and I don’t therefore propose to spend any more time on it from now on. So Gladstone may or may not work for 10g: feel free to give it a whirl, I guess.

Links and things

I noticed last Friday that all my links from this site to the various documents and downloads I’ve made available over time (things like the Gladstone script or my menagerie of Kickstart scripts) were no longer functional.

Well, they were functional if you happened to have a Gmail account and were logged in at the time, but that’s not the way it was supposed to work (and, indeed, wasn’t the way it actually worked until recently).

I don’t know what caused the change: you’re supposed to be able to share Google Docs files to outsiders, which was all I was doing. Perhaps signing up to Google+ changed something? Who knows.

Anyway, I couldn’t have a situation where downloads appeared to be locked behind a paywall, so I’ve signed up to Dropbox and dropped all my files into the public folder there. I now have to work my way through articles and blog pieces going back quite some time to make sure the new links work. The ones on the Downloads page definitely do and I’ll track down all the others as I can. If you find any that don’t work in the meantime, just leave a comment here and I’ll sort it out ASAP.

Update: 27/1/17: most links now are to Dizwell’s own ‘OwnCloud’ installation, at the URL.

On a completely different note, Scientific Linux 6.1 has finally been released (it’s been in beta for a while). Good news for those of us who like our Enterprise distros free and timely!