Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Twitter Enigma

Love it or hate it, Twitter is really a pretty amazing thing.

I’ve been using twitter for a little over a year now, and I’ve gone through phases ranging from daily use to weeks without tweets. Overall, I’m a fan and I think it’s a “cool” technology.

Granted you’re always going to have the annoying too much information or 100-tweets-a-day type of annoyances that really nobody likes. But, you also can really do some cool things.

Example 1
I posted a “tweet” regarding my frustration at Best Buy for canceling my order for a $9.99 52” television. CNN reporter Abbi Tatton, searching Twitter, finds my tweet and looks up my contact information. I am then interviewed and referenced on a CNN airing of “The Situation Room” and also countless online news sites that seemingly feed from CNN. A mild 15 minutes of fame that is then followed up by a radio interview about the whole situation. The entire thing started because I posted a tweet – and that is just amazing to me.

Example 2
Yesterday I had a pretty creative idea for Google Voice, a service I have been happily using for about 6 months now. I thought it would be pretty cool if Google Voice had the capability to set a wakeup call. This would be set just like any other alarm, and then maybe even have the wakeup call go to different phones on different days.

Surprised at myself for actually coming up with a good idea, I post a tweet directly to Craig Walker (co-founder of GrandCentral and top dog at Google Voice now) about the wakeup call idea.

He replies: “@vanberge love this idea”

So, very possibly this functionality may actually make it into Google Voice some point down the road… All because of Twitter. I was able to directly pitch an idea to the person that can do the most with it. Simply amazing.

Like I said – love it or hate it, Twitter makes some pretty cool things possible. Here’s to hoping for a wakeup call functionality to show up soon under my Google Voice settings page.

Driving Test

Today on a blog post, I happened to see a link to take an online driving test (the written portion).

There wasn’t any signup or email required – So, for fun I decided to see how well I’d do.

Umm…. I passed… ?

Could you pass a driving test?

Created by Auto

Now, to be fair here – I didn’t Google for any answers, and some of them were pretty frickin’ obscure questions. Like “How far away from a Stop sign should you park” and “how far behind a firetruck should you drive” which I think are stupid. Oh well… I passed. C+ is GG for me.

District 9 iPhone iPod Wallpaper

I have created a lame wallpaper for iPod and iPhone using mspaint.exe, copying, pasting, stretching, skewing, and a bit of detailed brushwork. It took me about 5 minutes to complete! But, it looks pretty nice as my iPod wallpaper.

***Update – had to clean it up a little with GIMP…  Paint kept effing up the edges***



Best Buy $9.99 HDTV Saga Continues – The Paul Smith WJR Interview

This morning, the Best Buy $10 Television saga has continued for me.  Apparently the Paul W. Smith morning news show from “AM Superstation” 760 WJR News/Talk radio wanted to speak with me.  This station is based out of Detroit Michigan.  I was glad to have the chance to talk about my experience – and personally I just CAN’T BELIEVE how this has blown up. First an interview with CNN report Abbi Tatton; and now a local Michigan news radio tycoon. It feels like I’ve become the spokesman for the public in the “public vs. Best Buy” HDTV craziness.

Anyway… I asked the producer if I could record the interview using my Google Voice account, and she replied “Certainly!” – Listen in below if you want.  Skip to about 1:30 in for the interview to start.

The Best Buy $9.99 TV Saga

Today has been inexplicably one of the strangest most random days of all time.

I can think of nothing else to do than to simply run down the course of events in a detailed ordered list fashion as seen below:

  1. I receive a phone call at approximately 5:20 AM, which wakes me up with a “something must be wrong” type of feeling. Not the most pleasant start to my day, but it was my brother Vanbergs on the other end of the call. His tone quickly displaced my worry; he had a sort of giddy excitement about him as he explained to me the deal of a lifetime. Vanbergs continued on, explaining that Best Buy had a ridiculous pricing error on their website for a Samsung-52″ Class / 1080p / 120Hz / LCD for $9.99. Yeah… 10 Dollars. Being half asleep, I stumble around trying to find my wallet and I quickly order one of these televisions at the wildly discounted rate. I then wake up my wife and ask her to verify that I am A:awake and B:not hallucinating. She concurs, and I proceed to order a 2nd television at the same rate for good measure. Happiness ensues as I french press my morning coffee.
  2. Roughly 2 hours later as I’m just getting settled in at work for the day, I check Best Buy’s website and notice my orders have straight up disappeared from the web based order management page. Chatting via IM with my brother, he has seen the same thing and we fear our orders have been quickly deleted and canceled. I researched online a bit to find Best Buy’s heart wrenching and soul crushing terms of service. They had specifically planned for some such error to occur on some day, and their terms of service technically reserved them the right to cancel and refund any order that fell under a pricing error category. With a nearly 2,000 dollar mis-mark; I was pretty damned sure this order was not going through. Therefore, I post the following tweet via Digsby: Looks like Bestbuy already cancelled my order for TWO 52” televisions at 9.99 each. #bestbuy dang you!!!! – And I begin to think I have no chance.
  3. Shortly after that “Tweet” – I receive an email that I was POSITIVE had to be fake… See below:

    Hi Eric,

    I saw you on twitter complaining about the 52 inch HDTV offer. I work for CNN and wondered if I could talk to you about what happened? Did your order actually go through and then get cancelled? If so, you got closer than thousands of other people

    I’m at 202.XXX.XXXX if you want to chat.

    Thanks for your help,


    Abbi Tatton

    At first I had no idea who this person was. So, I Googled her name to find that she’s a reporter for CNN’s “The Situation Room” program… Then I start thinking about this – and I run it past my brother, Vanlandw, and my Wife to see if this is even remotely possible to be legit. A reporter for CNN happened to find me by searching through posts on Twitter? Seemed a little bit fishy to me; but the general consensus was that as long as I don’t reveal any personal information, what harm could it cause? In the end, I replied to Abbi’s email giving her a brief account of the events and then called her right after hitting send.

    Turns out this whole thing was real…  She was very nice and pleasant over the phone – she asked me how I found out about the deal, if I was able to actually make the order, and if I had actually received any notice officially from Best Buy, and other odds and ends. I gave my honest answers as she took notes, and I forwarded her my order confirmation emails that I had gotten from Best buy. It was a short interview and really I wasn’t thinking too much of it at the time.

    She ended up calling back, once to confirm where I was from and once again to verify my correct name spelling with the capital “B” in VanBergen. At this point, she wasn’t sure if it was going to make airtime or just be an online story.

  4. Chouse, myself, and the rest of our coworkers go eat a free lunch for our employee company picnic. I had a burger, a hotdog, and a lemonade.
  5. Abbi sends me a follow up email to let me know they did decide to do a short airtime segment on their program in the 4pm hour. Conveniently, I had an all-staff I.T. meeting right through this timeframe from 3-5pm. I quick contact my father on my cell phone (which, has a rapidly dying battery) and plead for him to DVR CNN for the 4pm hour – he obliges.
  6. My phone dies, and I have ZERO knowledge or contact with what’s happening with my TV orders or CNN. What a long 2 hours.
  7. I return to the land of internet after our meeting to find an email from Best Buy saying that my order(s) are a mistake and will be canceled shortly. I had figured this would happen, but for some reason I was still holding on to a small shred of hope that my order would slip through the cracks. Finally being faced with the latter was surprisingly disappointing, considering deep down I KNEW it was going to end that way
  8. I get home, call my father, and find out that CNN did air the story about Best Buy’s TV fiasco and they DID actually mention my name and the points my phone interview. Mickeyvb is kind enough to play the segment for me over speakerphone and we share a laugh as father and son.
  9. Now I feel that I must see this video. A desperate search ensued between myself, Vanlandw, and finally Chouse who had also DVRed CNN during that time frame. Chouse saved the day, using his blackberry to record the segment on TV and email it to me. I immediately posted it on youtube, shared it on Google Reader, and also posted it on Facebook.HERE IS THE VID!!!
  10. At this point, it really starts to hit me how strange the day had been. And all I can really do is laugh at the situation. I also found out later that my Wife’s uncle had seen the show live on CNN, and called her to ask “Hey, can your husband get me a TV ??”. What a strange day. I decide to watch “12 rounds” to cap the day off. 3 stars out of 5 just cus it has Tevon in it from the Shield.

In conclusion, I feel like this day has been utterly crazy. Even re-counting these events now I almost feel like I’m watching a Donnie Darko sequel. My thanks to everyone who helped me out today. Vanbergs for the tip, Chouse for the DVR and vid, Mickeyvb for being my father, Vanlandw for your support and vanhood, and to TWITTER since that is pretty much what started this crazy chain of events.


One final note – Abbi sent me a last email commenting on the “wolf man”… 🙂

thanks for all your help! did you hear Wolf ask “what about Eric?!”

see, the Wolfman cares


Abbi Tatton


I did some updating recently…

WordPress is now 2.8.3
Also updated TwitterTools and this Panorama to the latest versions.

I must admit though, I’m sort of debating whether or not to even keep a personal website/blog anymore…