Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fun with Hertz car rentals, part 3 (it ends well)

If you've read the last part, I had just arrived at my hotel in Kyparissia late in the night, slightly fuming. Well...

Next morning, saturday, around 10:15 somebody called my mobile phone. For some reason I didn't notice, but only got a text notification of a missed call an hour later. I called back; turns out this was the Kalamata airport Hertz office. "Your replacement car has arrived; you can pick it up anytime."

I arranged to come by around 16:00 in the afternoon, and from here on everything went smoothly. Now I'm driving a white BMW Mini convertible, and the roof and windows work just fine.

In the end, obviously I'm quite happy that a replacement car was driven from Athens to Kalamata and that I can now continue with my vacation as planned. The path that lead to that outcome, however, was not so great...

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fun with Hertz car rentals, part 2 (or how to waste more vacation time!)

If you're reading this, the last act in this drama (see the previous blog post) was that in Patras a friendly employee from Hertz picked up the rental car to bring it to a repair workshop. A bit later than planned, but nevertheless. Now the story continues.

  • About 20:00 the same day I get a phone call from the same lady that my car was ready, and we could meet in about 20min next to my hotel so I can pick it up again. That sounded great to me. Some minutes later I saw the car coming.
  • Of course I wanted to try out the repaired roof / window immediately, so we did that. Opened the roof, closed the roof. The passenger side window did not close; precisely the same phenomenon. Oops.
  • I tried a few more times on instruction by the Hertz employee, with the result that the window got stuck at half height and did not move anymore even after shutting down and restarting the ignition. Since it was stuck on the wrong side of its rubber seal, also the passenger door did not open anymore.
  • The visibly nervous Hertz employee calls her manager on the mobile, who arrives after a few minutes. The manager opens the passenger door with application of force. Afterwards, and after restarting the engine, the window slides up again.
  • We have some discussion about a replacement car, where I point out that I paid a lot of money for having a convertible, and really want one. I agree to come to the office thursday morning to sort things out.
  • Next morning, Thursday, at the Hertz office, I'm glad to learn that a replacement car will be sent. Of course, I'm now leaving Patras, so the car will have to be sent to a station near my next stops.
  • We discuss this and agree that I will pick the car up tomorrow (Friday) afternoon in Kalamata (which is only about 80km from my Friday evening hotel in Kyparissia).
Oh well. Glad that things are somehow sorted out. I spend the rest of the day visiting a Mycenaean castle (1200 BC), a Frankish castle (1200 AD), and re-visiting Olympia, spend the night near Olympia, and then start towards Kalamata through the mountains via, e.g. the excavations of ancient Messene. Sometime on the way I realize that the Kalamata Hertz offices (according to the website) are closed 14:00 to 17:00, so I plan with arriving there around 18:00. That's ample time since they should be open 17:00 - 21:00 (search for Kalamata here).
  • Arrive 18:10 at the Kalamata city office. Nobody there, and there's a sign on the door saying "We are at Kalamata Airport."
  • Drive back the ~10km to the airport (which I passed on the way before). Arrive there around 18:30. The entire airport is already closed for the day. No Hertz employees in sight.
  • Call the Kalamata office. First response, "We closed half an hour ago." When I start explaining my problem, the lady on the phone says "But your car has not arrived from Athens yet!" I point out that I have to go back to Kyparissia, quite some way, today. She doesnt know when it will arrive, but says something about late evening. 
  • I tell her I will now get dinner here in Kalamata, and afterwards call her again.
That's where we are now. Just as a reminder, it's now Friday evening, and the problem has essentially been known to Hertz since last Sunday.

  • Tried calling the Hertz Kalamata office again around 20:45. No response, after a while some mailbox text in Greek. 
  • Drove back the 60km to Kyparissia, arrived at the hotel 22:00. Will call Hertz again tomorrow.
Update 2: Yes, Hertz knows my mobile phone number. It's big and fat on my contract, and I also gave it again and reconfirmed it to the employee at Patras. So, one could assume if something goes wrong they phone me...

Update 3: It ends well. See the next post.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Fun with Hertz car rentals (or how to waste vacation time)

So, I decided to get myself a rather expensive treat this summer. For travelling the Peloponnes I rented a Mini Cooper convertible. These are really cute, and driving around in the sun with the roof open felt like a very nice idea. I'm a Hertz Gold Club customer, so why not go for Hertz again.

I picked up the car in Athens, all looked fine. The first day I had some longer driving to do, and also the manual was only in Greek, so I decided to drive to my first stop and check out the convertible roof there. OK, with some fiddling I found and read a German manual on the BMW website (now I know where to find the VIN number, if anyone asks :), opened the roof, enjoyed half a day in the mountains near Kalavrita.

Afterwards the passenger side window didn't close anymore.

It turns out something was already bent or damaged inside the door, so the window was sliding up on the wrong side of its rubber seal. At some point it can't move any further, so the electronics stops and disables the window. The effect is perfectly reproducible, and scratch marks on the rubber seal and door frame indicate it's been doing that already for a while. Oh well.

  • Phoned the nearest Hertz office in Patras. After some complicated discussion in English they advised me to contact the office in Athens.
  • Phoned the Hertz office in Athens. I managed to explain the problem there. They said I should contact their central technical service office, since maybe they know something easy to do. 
  • Phoned the central technical service office. There the problem was quickly understood; a very helpful lady explained to me that most likely the car would have to be exchanged. Since it was Sunday afternoon, they couldn't do it now, but somebody would call me back on Monday morning 9-10.
  • Waited Monday morning for the call. Nothing happened. 
  • Phoned the central technical service office, Monday around 13:00. They asked me where I was. After telling them I'm going to Patras the next day, they told me I should come by their office there.
  • Arrived at the Patras office tuesday around 17:30. I demonstrated the problem to the lady there. She acknowledged that something's broken, and told me she'd come to my hotel the next day between 11:00 and 12:00 to pick up the car and bring it to the BMW service for repair. 
  • Now I'm sitting in the bar of the hotel, it's 12:30, no one has called or come by, and slowly I'm getting seriously annoyed.
Let's see how the story continues...
  • Update: 13:00, friendly lady from Hertz picked up the car. Fingers crossed. Made clear it's a long rental, so delaying makes no sense. Wants to phone me either in the afternoon or tomorrow morning.
  • Update 2: The drama continues in the next blog post.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lab::Measurement 3.550 released - port to Dist::Zilla

With the release of Lab::Measurement 3.550 we've switched to Dist::Zilla as maintenance tool. If you're not involved in hacking Lab::Measurement, you should essentially not notice this change. However, for the authors of the package, Dist::Zilla makes it much easier to keep track of dependencies, prepare new releases, and eventually also improve and unify the documentation... At the side we've also fixed Issue 4 and Lab::Measurement should now work out of the box with recent Gnuplot on Windows again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lab::Measurement 3.544 released - support for Zurich Instruments devices

I've just uploaded Lab::Measurement 3.544 to CPAN. This is our first release containing support for Zurich Instruments equipment, in particular the ZI MFLI digital lock-in amplifier, via Simon's Lab::Zhinst package. Enjoy!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Upcoming talk in the Regensburg physics colloquium

If you're in Regensburg, please come to the physics colloquium next week (15.5., 16:00st, lecture hall H34)! See the linked PDF for the full talk announcement.

"Millikelvin transport experiments on carbon nanotubes - nanoelectromechanics, spectroscopy, and more"

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Testers wanted for Gentoo Perl 5.24.1 stabilization

We want to stabilize Perl 5.24 on Gentoo pretty soon (meaning in a few weeks), and do actually not expect any big surprises there. If you are running a stable installation, are willing to do some testing, and are familiar with our Gentoo bugzilla and with filing bug reports, then you might just be the right volunteer to give it a try in advance!

Here's what to do:

Step 1: Update app-admin/perl-cleaner to current ~arch.
I'm deliberately not supplying any version number here, since I might do another release, but you should at least have perl-cleaner-2.25.

Step 2: Make sure your system is uptodate (emerge -uDNav world) and do a depclean step (emerge --depclean --ask).

Step 3: Download the current stabilization list from bug 604602 and place it into your /etc/portage/package.keywords or /etc/portage/package.accept_keywords.

Step 4: Update your world (emerge -uDNav world), which triggers the perl update and the module rebuild.

Step 5: Run "perl-cleaner --all"  (you might also want to try "perl-cleaner --all --delete-leftovers").

... and make sure you file bugs for any problems you encounter, during the update and afterwards! Feedback is also appreciated if all goes fine; then you best leave a comment here on the blog post.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lab::Measurement at the DPG Spring Meeting Dresden 2017

As nearly every year we'll present a poster on Lab::Measurement at the spring meeting of the German Physical Society again. This time the conference is in Dresden - so visit us on upcoming 23 March 2017, 15:00-19:00, poster session TT75, poster TT75.7!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gentoo LiveDVD "Crispy Belgian Waffle", FOSDEM 2017 edition

So, FOSDEM 2017 is over, and as every year it was both fun and interesting. There will for sure be more blog posts, e.g., with photographs from talks by our developers, the booth, the annual Gentoo dinner, or (obviously) the beer event. The Gentoo booth, centrally located just opposite to KDE and Gnome and directly next to CoreOS, was quite popular; it's always great to hear from all the enthusiastic Gentoo fans. Many visitors also prepared, compiled, and installed their own Gentoo buttons at our button machine.
In addition we had a new Gentoo LiveDVD as handout - the "Crispy Belgian Waffle" FOSDEM 2017 edition. For those of you who couldn't make it to Brussels, you can still get it! Download the ISO here and burn it on a DVD or copy it on a USB stick - all done. Many thanks to Fernando Reyes (likewhoa) for all his work!
Finally, for those who are wondering, the "Gentoo Ecosystem" poster from our table can be downloaded as PDF here. It is based on work by Daniel Robbins and mitzip from Funtoo; the source files are available on Github. Of course this poster is continous work in progress, so tell me if you find something missing!