Category Archives: Milwaukee

Barcamp Milwaukee 7 Attendance Postmortem

This is my way-late postmortem on the seventh annual Barcamp Milwaukee, held every year to celebrate geeks everywhere and bring people together to discuss and learn from one another about all the things they make and do.

There was only one ugly bit for me this year, during the late, late overnight hours, that kinda screwed up my Barcamp rhythm to the point where I knew I’d not be able to stick around for the full day on Sunday. It was in the form of a drunk attendee that apparently ran out of people to “talk to” overnight. He was wandering the building, and kept drifting back to an area where I was working with a young woman on a Linux problem she was trying solve. Now, I can’t speak for her, but my impression was that she didn’t feel particularly safe with this guy wandering the building, tripping all over himself, carrying beers around, blasting music in the commons downstairs, and so on. He told me the 3D printing guys all vanished–gee, I wonder why–so we were all he had left to talk to. Grrrrrreat it was not.

I’d love to see a reminder that people not be allowed to get drunk-stupid at future events. I had a beer or two earlier Saturday night, so I’m not being a prude about it, but excess… is usually excessive.

As for the sessions… I enjoyed the Artemis bridge simulation software time quite a lot. Hard to believe that’s all one developer’s work. There was a ton of 3D printing going on. Got into an OpenBSD session discussing it and its heritage, got an impression of the state of the apparently-barely-existent game development industry in Milwaukee (not great), learned a bit about cable hacking, sushi rolling, and spent some more time around people interested in the Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects/hardware. Even helped a few people with some hardware/software issues (mostly Linux-related) outside of sessions in the coworking space. The “Nerdy Derby” car racing was a real highlight and treat to watch this year, too, with tons of interesting entries. And finally, I got to knuckle down in a corner and get some work done of my own, as I do every year; it’s a tad anti-social, perhaps, but highly productive time for me!

If you have kids, you should try and bring them to the Sunday “Kids Camp” next year. I keep meaning to bring my own, but Barcamp always ends up being in a bad weekend for my kids (October’s a busy month for us in general). It’s a kids event still finding its legs, but it’s a nifty way to get your kids into making, presenting, learning, and having fun while doing it. I suspect it will break away from Barcamp and become its own event at some point, but for now, you’ll only find it at Barcamp Milwaukee.

Barcamp Milwaukee is free, every year, relying on sponsors for meals, t-shirts, etc. They really want you to come and help make it better simply by sharing what you know. Of course, if you’re able to sponsor, or know someone who can, that’s another awesome way to get involved.

So, summing up: I had a good time, despite bailing early on the second day (and missing Immy’s lunch cater, which saddened me greatly). Most sessions were informative. I never seem to come away feeling like I’ve learned a lot, but I do always come away feeling reinvigorated about learning more than I already know–a net-positive, I think, for the event itself and for me.

Special thanks to the Bucketworks crew for all they do, and to Pete Prodoehl in particular. I understand this may be his last time herding Barcamp Milwaukee’s many cats, and I can’t say I blame him.

Until next October, I guess.

There’s Something About “Mary” (and Colder’s)…

“Mary” takes time–on Easter Day, of all days–to give us her apparent best: a curt yet carefully constructed point of view regarding our post Colder’s of Grafton – Beware The Sales Stalker:

Classy.“Mary”, you certainly do make a valid point about us being losers! In a retail sense, as consumers who’ve spent money at Colder’s expecting to be treated honestly, fairly, and with respect, we are indeed huge losers so far! And so are many other people who have given Colder’s their hard-earned money at one time or another. We’re all big losers because we shopped at Colder’s!

As for getting a life, “Mary”, that really got us pondering! Who might have less of a life and more urgently need to “get” one: people raising awareness of a company ripping off consumers, detailing shoddy customer service and their experiences so others don’t make the same mistakes, or employees who willingly take 100%-commission jobs and then reduce and demean themselves chasing down shoppers like the filthiest of lawyers chase down ambulances? We prefer to remain in the non-stalking, pro-consumer, down-with-crap-companies camp, thank-you-oh-so-very-much.

We then wondered: could someone be considered a big loser lacking a life if they spent part of their Easter Sunday leaving comments like yours, above? Any insight there, “Mary”?

At least you didn’t call us extortionists!

“Mary”, it’s perfectly OK to disagree with us. Really! However, a tip, if you don’t mind one: if you really want to have an impact, some actual substance to accompany the grade-school-variety name calling might help you establish your position and even ‘win’ the discussion.

For example: what about our observations and opinions lead you to believe we have no lives? What is it that you feel really, truly makes us big losers? If you work for Colder’s, or have some other less-direct affiliation with them, that alone is OK; we definitely don’t hate you or anyone else for just that, at all. There’s really no need to take any of this personally, either, “Mary”. What parts of our very real observations, opinions and feelings about our Colder’s experiences bother you so much, and why?

As it stands, “Mary”, you’re apparently calling us names like some kind of self-indulgent, insolent child for pointing out–truthfully and honestly, by the way–that we don’t like to be treated badly. Do we want to be literally hunted like so much prey in the case of the Grafton Sales Stalker when we visit a Colder’s store–or any retail store? No, thank you, we do not. Do you?

We previously wrote:

[…] we have absolutely no interest in buying from someone that doesn’t respect us, our space, or our time to shop at our own leisure. We can’t check out items in the store when we’re feeling eyes burning into our backs as we’re standing there. We feel like meat.

Reading that, your get-a-life/big-loser comment really doesn’t make any sense–to us, anyway–unless you’re the stalker or are otherwise just trying (and failing) to defend the stalker, Colder’s itself, or both.

Do you believe being treated like that as a customer is acceptable? Would you honestly appreciate that as a consumer? Is such behavior appropriate for any salesperson? Would such a technique get you to spend a lot of money with that salesperson and their store/company? Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, “Mary”?

So please, do feel free to try again, “Mary”. Really. We’re listening and want to hear what you have to say, assuming you actually have more to say. While we have stated many times that we value every comment we receive, some are ultimately more–or less–valuable than others. Try to make your next one really count. OK, “Mary”?

And again, reiterating: We absolutely recognize commission sales jobs can be hard. We know a lot of good people work them. Many because they have no choice. Others because they’re good at it. And some people even like it. We do indeed recognize and respect the work and people out there doing it. But in the case of the Grafton Sales Stalker, we’re confused about how throwing all dignity and self-esteem out the window is even remotely worth whatever money she might make from it. We’re not laughing at this person. We feel sorry for her. Such extreme behavior is embarrassing to watch. It seems so…desperate. Unnecessary. Rude. It’s very uncomfortable for us as shoppers. It does not make us want to visit Colder’s Northshore in Grafton or any other retail establishment that has employees behaving like that. We have avoided the Grafton Colder’s many times because we just don’t want to be accosted by that woman yet again. We’re convinced she drives away more sales than she makes, stalking people like that.

By the way, “Mary”, before we forget: we were completely unable to reach you at the “” email address you provided. Maybe just leave us your email address next time? Thanks again for your comment, “Mary”!

More Colder’s Customer Disservice

Another dissatisfied Colder’s customer.

Milwaukee‘s original article–posted just last month–asks the question:

Guess which company is more likely to get repeat business from my family and me?

The article compares/contrasts two recent customer service experiences had by the writer, with both and our Milwaukee-area Colder’s Furniture. Amazon handled things well. Colder’s–surprise!–did not:

Amazon — which resolved the issue within a few hours — or Colder’s, which finally dropped off a table without the leaf and a chair that was broken en route and “repaired” with glue that was still so wet when the furniture was delivered that the piece broke off when I brushed against it? (No, the delivery guys did not disclose the problem.) And then did not return our calls? And when I finally went to the store myself and demanded action, ordered the wrong leaf at least twice? And then told me the replacement chair had been delivered when it hadn’t been and did not return my call when I tried to follow up just a few minutes later after talking to my dad? And then, six months to the day after the furniture was delivered, finally came up with a chair that matched the set, but was not the requested captain’s chair (the kind with arms)?

Just guess.

No need to guess. Wet glue? Six months later, and still got the wrong merchandise? You would logically think there’s simply no way any company could be so incompetent and unwilling or unable to get it right. But we’ve had “The Colder’s Experience”. Others have, too.

Something Less Is Not A Deal

This same family was also unnecessarily berated by Colder’s staff, another apparent hallmark of Colder’s customer-service program:

Colder’s […] customer service rep berated my sister when my dad’s new furniture didn’t arrive for more than an hour after the store called and said the deliverers were on their way

So familiar. It’s happened to us, and it’s apparently happened to far too many of you, too (and is still happening). It’s almost amazing that anyone is surprised anymore.

Bad customer service increasingly seems to be the rule with Colder’s–rather than the infrequent exception from even the best businesses. Sketchy sales promotions, bad customer service… it’s just not worth it.