Archive

Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

GoDaddy SSL cert limitations - 10 domains? Not really.

February 14th, 2017 No comments

Just a quick heads up, if planning on buying a UCC cert (totally overpriced!) that claims 10 domains - you actually only get ten FQDNs total - use them wisely. Consider this example, only covering five domains:

  1. a.com
  2. www.a.com
  3. b.com
  4. www.b.com
  5. c.com
  6. www.c.com
  7. d.com
  8. www.d.com
  9. e.com
  10. www.e.com

This is why we use things like CloudFlare and Let's Encrypt. Depending on your needs. It's 2017, who actually needs to buy SSL certs anymore?

Before my customer purchased the certificate I had to ask, since "domain" means something different to me  (you know, an actual domain) and this is what support told me - I verified this after the fact. Now as she states "the primary covers both [www and non-www]" - you can squeeze in an 11th host, but since I needed the domains fully covered, I could only use it for five domains either way.

Categories: Consumerism

Facebook Messenger and the illusion of privacy

August 27th, 2014 No comments

There are a lot of people who continue to spread the FUD around Messenger, and it is making me crazy.

Anyone who thinks they have privacy on a third party service needs a reality check.

As Scott McNealy said in 1999, "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it." Anyone who still believes using a service someone else owns (especially for free) entitles them to privacy is sadly mistaken. Most services will try to do the right thing, but there will always be a chance of an accidental data breach or hack, even from the most trustworthy services. You can only hope that the company wants to do good by the consumer.

Simply put, if you don't control it, you can't expect it to be controlled for you.

There are two primary complaints I've heard during this whole Messenger debacle.

The first is that Messenger terms now allow them to spy on you and you can incriminate yourself by using it. First, companies are required to comply with law enforcement if they want to do business in this country. Second, if you are doing anything illegal, you shouldn't be discussing it on something someone else owns anyway. This has always been the case with your telephone, text messaging, etc... that's just common sense.

The other complaint is about unrestricted access to your camera and photos and contacts. Once again, that's nothing new - you authorize your apps all the time for access. Let's take some popular apps for example: Snapchat? You probably authorized it for camera, photo album and contact access. Apps need photo album access to be able to get past photos. They need camera access to take pictures/videos inside of the app. Instagram? You most likely authorized those for camera and/or the photo album too. You probably authorized LinkedIn to your contacts. You most likely authorized the original Facebook app to your camera and photo album (otherwise you can't post any images from inside the application!) - you probably even authorized it to access your contacts.

I feel bad for Facebook having to deal with such unoriginal claims. Yes, it sucks to have to install yet another app, but they have reasons for it and it works well in conjunction with the original Facebook app. It's free, and it isn't a space hog, so there's no real "cost" associated. Battery drainage is the only complaint I consider to be reasonable.

Just remember - nothing is truly private. Even your encrypted end-to-end messaging - someone can take a screenshot or save it and share it. It comes back to what Jon Voight said in Enemy of the State, "The only privacy that's left is the inside of your head."

Categories: Consumerism

Verizon and Frontier have your password - just FYI

February 5th, 2011 No comments

It was weird to see a company nowadays still have your password stored somewhere plaintext.


Categories: Consumerism

Mozy stops "unlimited" plan... and I mosey on

February 1st, 2011 No comments

I've been a fan of Backblaze for a long time, and prefer it and recommend it over Mozy time and time again. Mozy was the golden child for a bit, but now the prize goes to Backblaze, with its more efficient backup client, faster network speeds and same price. I've been using Backblaze for over a year by itself on many machines and have been quite happy. For the sake of redundancy though, a couple months ago I decided to subscribe to Mozy as well, just out of paranoia.

Due to the fact that their service always uses over 100 megs of RAM, and seems to continuously get stuck on certain files, I was planning on getting rid of it soon. Today's announcement made this decision even easier though, as now they've decided to go the way of other companies with tiered pricing models. With how cheap technology continuously gets, any company marking prices up really pisses me off.

So, I give a profane salute to you, Mozy, as you have now joined the ranks of companies I feel personally displeased with, and definitely will not recommend (not that I really did anyway.)

Even AT&T (one of the main companies I despise) let people grandfather in their unlimited plans, and cell networks take a lot more beating than a backup service with hard drive prices going down every day. Adding more servers to a rack is a lot harder than adding cell tower capacity. That type of "next month you'll be forced to change" does not sit well with me.

Dear Michael,

Thanks for being a valued Mozy subscriber. For the first time since 2006, we're adjusting the price of our MozyHome service and wanted to give you a heads up. As part of this change, we’re replacing our MozyHome Unlimited backup plan and introducing the following tiered storage plans:

50 GB for $5.99 per month (includes backup for 1 computer)
125 GB for $9.99 per month (includes backup for up to 3 computers)

You may add additional computers (up to 5 in total) or 20 GB increments of storage to either of the plans, each for a monthly cost of $2.00.

While this policy takes effect for new MozyHome customers starting today, your MozyHome Unlimited subscription is still valid for the duration of your current monthly term. In order to ensure uninterrupted service, you'll need to select a new renewal plan.

Categories: Consumerism, Software

Netflix jumps on the fleecing bandwagon

November 22nd, 2010 No comments

If you've read some older posts, I have praised Netflix for multiple reasons:

  • Great service
  • Easy-to-use, feature-rich but not overbearing website
  • Fast delivery times
  • Actually reduced the price of my plan voluntarily

Today I've got some bad news though. I just received an email notifying me that my plan will increase $3/month. Normally I wouldn't be as vocal, but this is on top of the deals they've made with studios to delay releases ~30 days. Netflix claims it will receive huge discounts and the press release for Fox says it will more of their library to be streamed. It's obvious the studios are supposedly hoping this ~30 day window will encourage consumers to rent/buy DVDs normally. Most sites I've read think it will just cause piracy to rise. I'm inclined to agree.

While the movie delay originally annoyed me, it wasn't enough for me to get too angry over. I'm so busy most of the time that 30 days passes me by in the blink of an eye. I don't believe Redbox has that restriction in place, so one could go rent a movie immediately from them still if they wanted.

However, now they are increasing costs on me while delivering less service. That I can't keep quiet about.

So with a heavy heart right now, I have to -2 Netflix. I kept the original movie delay -1 to myself. But now they get both negative marks at once for this new move. I really need to start a point system.

Categories: Consumerism

Our credit system is broken

September 11th, 2010 2 comments

I got some results back on my credit report.

Choice items such as:

  • Length of account history is too short.
  • Too long since most recent account established.

What the hell? Don't those basically contradict each other?

But wait, there's more:

  • Too many recent inquiries.
  • Length of account history is too short.
  • Too many accounts with balances.

Sounds like I am being encouraged to open a fresh account, because my "most recent account" was created too long ago. But too many new accounts dings me, on the flip side. I have too many accounts at the same time though. It's a catch 22.

However, the major complaint I have is that applying for loans/doing any sort of shopping that requires someone to pull your credit winds up hurting your credit score. This isn't anything new, but I simply do not get it. Shopping around and applying to things should have absolutely nothing to do with your score. That is like being charged 25 cents for looking at a carton of milk at the store but not buying it. Or having to pay to window shop - before you know whether or not you can even afford what you're looking at. Your credit score should only be altered when your credit situation changes. Not for simply checking to see if you can save money by refinancing or shopping for auto loans.

Unless you are extended a new credit line or something else, there should be no change in score. Especially nowadays with so many companies offering specials that require you to apply, shopping for a refinance (which can be turned down easily) costs you points on your credit score. Shopping does not mean you're actually receiving anything.

Also, I am told that "inquiries within the same industry within the same 45 day period only counts as one pull". I call bullshit. I am sure they're still counting each one somewhat.

While I do believe a credit rating system is valuable in some form, ours definitely needs to be overhauled. With the economy moving so slowly, people are looking for various ways to get more money out of their home or car, applying for more credit cards, etc. Regardless of the approval, it is messing with your credit just for shopping.

Suggestions

  • Having your credit pulled should have no adverse affect on your score. Period.
  • The time ranges need to be adjusted. "Too long since your latest account was opened" - that's a new one for me. Really contracts the hell out of the "Length of account history is too short" notice.
  • Consistency across different bureaus - some tell me I don't have enough accounts. Some tell me I have too many. It is like trying to please a committee - you can't please everyone all at once.

I've had credit being built for 10 years, a couple different credit cards, bank accounts and loans. By now I should be receiving no negative marks for anything I've done relating to too many accounts, not enough accounts, too much time, not enough time, etc. However, it seems like raising the number takes an infinite amount of time, but lowering it happens almost immediately when your credit is pulled.

Once again, a sincere disappointment with how a system is run. I also do not see the reasoning behind some of the rules, either.

Categories: Consumerism

The Trifecta with AT&T

June 2nd, 2010 No comments

Today AT&T reported a bunch of data plan changes, perfectly aligned with screwing over people when iPhone OS 4 comes out.

OS 4 will give us tethering ability with AT&T. Of course, that comes with an additional cost now. If you want to "officially" tether with AT&T, you'll have to switch to one of their two data plans, and THEN buy tethering on top of that. Instead of your $30 for unlimited, you'll be paying $45 for only two gigs of bandwidth, vs. $30 currently for unlimited. Or $35 for a measily 250 megs.

They claim that 98% of its users fall within those tiers. Sounds like they're giving 98% of us a way to save a few bucks, right? Wrong. What people are overlooking is the fact that those statistics don't include the fact that you will be TETHERING. As in, your computer will be transferring data, and you're already accustomed to a much heavier data consumption through that medium. Think of how those little widgets on your laptop grab information off the net every so often, or a single Youtube video could easily be 20+ megs. It does add up, and ultimately anyone who wants to tether with AT&T should use it sparsely - otherwise, they'll be paying $10/gig for your overages.

I'll give AT&T some credit - their marketing geniuses and social engineers are gaming this system well - using the upcoming iPhone and OS for service type changes, some of which require contracts, some don't - helping them limit the impact on their network in creative ways while making you think you're getting a better deal. I especially like the fact once you drop out of an unlimited contract you can't go back, and they're trying to sway you out of it by not changing your expiration date if you drop down, and "allowing" you to switch back and forth between the two plans. Oh, and new iPad users? If you don't have a plan by the time OS 4 launches, you'll be subject to these new limits.

Let's face it - AT&T's network can't handle the iPhone. It's a blame game that ultimately both could be doing better at. I'm sure the iPhone could change it's tower-hogging style behavior, and I'm sure AT&T could be deploying all these upgrades they keep telling us about faster.

For me, if I do decide to go with the next iPhone, I won't be buying it with a contract. I'm going to stay a free agent, and not get locked in to a new agreement, and not buy their joke for insurance (monthly fee and still the cost of buying a refurbished unit for the deductable?!) - and I am getting closer every day to switching over to maybe the Evo 4G on Sprint - a hybrid solution with a limited 4g network around the area. Sprint and Verizon seem to have a much more reliable network, and since this device is still primarily a phone, voice calls do count for something. Sprint's at least would afford me faster WiMAX when I could get it, and openly promote the device's ability to share the connection with up to 8? devices.

I haven't investigated the fees, but when I can't go a single day without a dropped call, and I try to find landlines to fall back on where I can instead of my phone, something has got to change.

Categories: Consumerism

Netflix++

May 26th, 2010 No comments

Once again I have to show praise for this company. In a time where everyone is cutting corners they are giving proactive discounts when they totally could not bother with even notifying me about a delay.

We're Sorry Your DVD Shipment Was Delayed

Dear Michael,

Due to a technical problem, your DVD shipment was delayed and will ship on Wednesday, May 26th.

We pride ourselves in delighting you, and we've let you down. We apologize, and we will issue a 10% credit to your account in the next few days. You don't need to do anything. Your credit will automatically be applied to your next billing statement.

Categories: Consumerism

AT&T takes a shit on us again?

May 22nd, 2010 1 comment

Wow - two headlines in the same amount of weeks worth screaming about.

They're increasing ETF fees on all devices that actually matter and put any strain on their network. They've reduced fees on "basic and quick messaging phones" - which aren't anything that anyone cares about anymore.

"... the ETF will increase to $325, and be reduced by $10 for each month that you remain with us as a customer during the balance of your two-year service agreement."

Do the math: if you ride out your contract until month #23, you still owe them $95. You can never break even until you've gone out of your contract. I bet this will stay in effect for next year's iPhone refresh (assuming the pattern continues) - which means larger ETFs/upgrade costs for people who want to upgrade to the next iPhone after the 4G. All of us folks who plan on getting an iPhone 4G will be agreeing to these new terms (assuming we buy into a contract.) AT&T's got virtual crack with the iPhone (and iPad, I suppose) - they rope you in with two year agreements but release a new device each year... it would be so great if Apple got out of their damn agreement with AT&T.

Will have to weigh the options - I might be out of my contract soon anyway and it might be cheaper to buy the phone without a contract. Assuming I even stay with AT&T.

Ref: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=17951

Categories: Consumerism, Toys

AT&T is at it again!

May 14th, 2010 No comments

The empty promise fairy is here again.

Remember when AT&T didn't have MMS support, and kept delaying it? "Later this summer" - finally delivered September 25th. Over two years since the original iPhone launched on AT&T's network and MMS support was on just about every phone imaginable.

Or when they would have upgraded capacity? I can't tell anything. Lately it seems I get dropped calls almost 100% of the time.

What about tethering support? Still haven't seen that... the Engadget announcement says "soon" back in November 2008. Tethering support was official in iPhone OS 3.0 in June 2009. "Official" carrier support in the US? Still not an option (unless you jailbreak, etc.)

Now, in the midst of a new iPhone launch this summer they've got another announcement that will make everyone think "our problems will be solved!" - but if history is any guide, it's just a properly timed announcement to gain confidence in a competitive market. The iPhone is an extremely extensible product, but the service lately has literally had me thinking about jumping ship. Sprint and Verizon both have a decent array of phones, and their coverage out here is quite good in comparison; Sprint also offers their hybrid 4g/3g options too.

Anyway, time will tell. It's a shame that Apple is so crippled by AT&T.

Categories: Consumerism