Today, I was thinking about my long-delayed plan to reimplement the Easterbrooks' "Catholic Calendar" page, and I got to thinking I should start with the easy bit, the daily Bible readings. I make a little WWW::Mechanize script to TokeParse the daily readings at usccb.org. Their HTML isn't really super-semantic, though, and I already see some future dates where they do odd things, and while I can handle the special cases, I thought I might as well ask them to be more standardized.
I sent them an email to the address listed on one of their main contact pages, but it bounced instantly. I decided that rather than give up, I'd call them on the phone. I got a human, who direct me to their MIS department. The woman in MIS was very friendly and helpful. I told her that their mailto: link and text didn't match, and she asked what I'd had to email about in the first place.
I told her about my script and said I'd like to help them fix their templates, or even set up an RSS feed. She'd had people ask for RSS before, but wanted to know more about it, so I explained how I used it and how it made life easier. She directed me to someone else, so I sent some more emails and finished up with the impression that this might happen. It will be pretty cool if I get to do some (pro bono, probably) consulting for the USCCB!
It was nice to talk to people who were interested and polite, after so many emails-into-the-abyss sent to the Easterbrooks.
I also received my new phone. It's a Motorola V180, which I picked because it was free (with a contract) and supported by iSync. It's not really well constructed, and its menus are not, out of the box, really convenient. Still, it seems to be exactly what I want: it's a phone that can place and receive calls, as well as sync with my Apple address book.
I did encounter one really annoying issue. My mother and sister have the same first and last name, but different middle names. iSync does not seem to sync middle names or initials, so they show up as "Heide Signes" and "Heide Signes-1". I'd rather not have to put their middle names in the "first name" slots in Address Book, but I might, for the sake of my sanity when dialling.
[ Update: I opened this entry to respond to my own question, only to find that my question wasn't here. I wonder if I screwed up while posting. How odd. The question: is there a way to make this phone act like my other Motorola phones, and collect address book entries by person, so I pick a person, then a number. The answer: yes; set "display" to "primary contact." I figured that out about thirty seconds after posting. ]
While I'm editing this entry, I thought I'd note one other nice thing. This phone's iSync is not wireless, as this is not a bluetooth phone. I figured there'd be some weird cable included with the phone. Then I realized that there wasn't, and I knew I'd have to buy an insanely expensive "sync kit" that would be a stupid-to-usb cable for fifty bucks or something. As I grumbled, I saw a tiny rubber stopper on the phone with the USB trident on it. I found a spare miniusb-to-usb cable and lo! iSync synced. Motorola sells the cable, which can be found under v180 accessories, and charges a not-ridiculous (but not cheap) $20 for it.