Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

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

The UK's got it right - government-collected data access for free

January 21st, 2010 3 comments

"A new website,, will offer reams of public sector data, ranging from traffic statistics to crime figures, for private or commercial use.

The target is to kickstart a new wave of services that find novel ways to make use of the information."

Awesome. I had an idea like this for a while back - generic data being available for consumption, but I really don't have any origin feeds that aren't already exposed. I'd just be re-syndicating them. But this would be awesome to have, just think of all the mashups you could create depending on what data is exposed.


Categories: Consumerism, Development

You are an idiot.

January 18th, 2010 No comments


So there's more annoyance polluting the blogopshere, and it's about Facebook's privacy practices again.

They keep your data, even if you delete it. Imagine that!

Anyone who thinks that their data is truly deleted because they click "delete" on anything needs to wake up. YOU own your own privacy. If you don't want it to stick around then DON'T SHARE IT. Period.

I'm going to drop some more knowledge for you, and this one is for free. Expect whatever you say, wherever you say it, to be there forever. True deletion should be considered a BONUS, not an EXPECTATION.



Categories: Consumerism

Apple charging us for apps... more than once?

June 1st, 2009 No comments

This is the kind of bullshit I expect from AT&T for using their network.

Not from Apple.

Apple: seriously? Come on. You've got a phone that can't stay on the shelves. You're making money from apps already. Paying to re-download? Everyone has taken this app store idea and implemented their own... and now Apple has to change their winning formula?

I mean, how much overhead can there be? The apps don't need to be re-moderated. The only cost is a little bit of bandwidth on their servers. Most likely negligible...

EDIT: the original article is gone, a replacement article has been linked, and now it looks like it was only a limited audience.

Categories: Consumerism

I thought Republicans hated spam?

September 17th, 2008 No comments

Today I received an email to an OLD email alias I had used in the late 90's for one of those browser bars that pays you to surf (Spedia) - that address has obviously been resold to various people and companies, but this is pretty nuts. The marketeers behind the McCain/Palin campaign have actually purchased a list that includes that email alias, which means they're not really sending out emails to so-called "targeted" folks. The email alias I had registered has no context related to it; they're just sending out emails to anyone on a list they've purchased.

Pretty weak. I checked the headers too. This is legitimately from his campaign email marketing!

Delivered-To: [email protected]
Received: by with SMTP id b5cs104203wfc;
        Wed, 17 Sep 2008 17:02:21 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id u19mr247318ybb.24.1221696140048;
        Wed, 17 Sep 2008 17:02:20 -0700 (PDT)
Return-Path: <[email protected]>
Received: from ( [])
        by with ESMTP id 6si22813870ywn.0.2008.;
        Wed, 17 Sep 2008 17:02:20 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass ( domain of [email protected] designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
Authentication-Results:; spf=pass ( domain of [email protected] designates as permitted sender) [email protected]
Received: from unknown (unknown [])
	by (Postfix) with QMQP id 4A6E3490F6
	for <[email protected]>; Wed, 17 Sep 2008 20:02:19 -0400 (EDT)
Errors-To: <[email protected]>
X-Bounce-Track: <[email protected]>
From: "McCain Palin 2008" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: Get Your Oregon Absentee Ballot
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
Message-Id: <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2008 20:02:19 -0400 (EDT)

The text of the email?

Your vote in this election is more critical than ever as the polls show John McCain and Governor Palin in a virtual tie. Voting early by absentee ballot or in person is the best way to get your vote counted now and avoid the long lines on Election Day.

... more stuff hoping to rope in absentee votes for their party ...

P.S. If you are not yet registered to vote, please register right away by following this link. [link to]


Please visit this page if you want to remove yourself from the email list. [link to]


Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008

It even has a proper SPF record. So yes, they have officially sent me unsolicited email from an email list sold to them... However, they use Postfix - I'll give them props for that.

Categories: Consumerism

Netflix - the company that actually gives a crap

August 13th, 2008 No comments

You know, Netflix is neat. Not only is their website pretty simple and clean, the company itself seems to "do right" by its customers too. Today is the second time they've made me feel warm and fuzzy being a customer. The first time was when they decided to change their rate plans to be cheaper and automatically started charging me less. A lot of companies drop the price on their monthly rates and you have to re-signup or call and complain, etc...

Dear Michael,

Great news! We're lowering the price of your 3 DVDs out at-a-time plan to $16.99 a month plus applicable taxes. Now you can enjoy Netflix for less!

You don't need to do a thing - except pay less. Your membership will automatically move to the lower price and be reflected in your Membership Terms and Details. The lower price will take effect beginning with your statement on or after July 23, 2007.

Membership Terms and Details:

Your $16.99 plan not only gives you 3 DVDs out at-a-time but you can also watch 17 hours of movies and TV episodes instantly on your PC each month - for no additional charge.

Check it out:

Your friends at Netflix

Now that is cool. But then they've given me another reason to praise them. They're reporting disc shipment issues, and being nice about it, they've just decided to issue a credit since we're technically losing a few days of service. They didn't have to do that, but they did.

I just received this email today:

We're Sorry DVD Shipments Are Delayed

Dear Michael,

Our shipping system is unexpectedly down. We received a DVD back from you and should have shipped you a DVD, but we likely have not. Our goal is to ship DVDs as soon as possible, and we will keep you posted on the status of your DVD shipments.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. If your DVD shipment is delayed, we will be issuing a credit to your account in the next few days. You don't need to do anything. The credit will be automatically applied to your next billing statement.

Again, we apologize for the delay and thank you for your understanding. If you need further assistance, please call us at 1-888-638-3549.

-The Netflix Team

Categories: Consumerism

Windows never ceases to amaze...

June 15th, 2008 2 comments

I think I keep my machines pretty well up to date. I'm fixing up my girlfriend's computer right now, and I finally got all the updates applied except apparently one got missed. Okay, simple enough right?

Step #1: Install .NET Framework 1.0, click "Check for updates" - what? there's another update?

Step #2: Install .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1, click "Check for updates" - what? ANOTHER one?

Step #3: Install .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 security update, click "Check for updates" ...

Really? Why couldn't we have a pre-packaged full install? Why do I have to run this "check for updates" over and over (and why does it take so goddamn long nowadays?)

Okay, looks like that really was the last update and this machine is now 100% up to date. At least for the moment...

Categories: Consumerism, Software

Danger - don't use Tweak UI's "rebuild icons"

February 24th, 2008 6 comments

When I reinstall XP (which I do too often) I always round up my customizations (which I can do in under 10 minutes blindfolded... sigh) with a bunch of tweaks inside of Tweak UI. Normally I never fuss with that "Repair" area, but for some odd reason I decided to click "Rebuild Icons" this time around. It didn't appear to do anything at first until I connected to my machine via Remote Desktop (which is how I connect to most of my machines...)

It had somehow messed up and all my icons in the taskbar, "Save As..." dialogs, desktop, etc. were all in 16 bit color. I even tried installing XP SP3 RC to see if it helped. I followed numerous suggestions about "tricking" Windows into re-caching the icons, deleting the icon cache, etc. Nothing fixed it. Finally, I came across a forum post (well, actually it was the first result in Google but this particular suggestion was the last one I tried) that had the magic fix. It's a simple .reg file that resets some icon settings somewhere. It was the only thing that seemed to do the trick, and I have decided to host a copy of it just in case that link ever goes dead. So, thank you to "wissnx01" at That Computer Guy's forums.

To fix the issue, download this zip file and merge the .reg file inside of it. Reboot (or maybe even just logout and log back in) and voila. Fixed.

Categories: Consumerism, Software

A bad credit score can screw you out of more than a loan...

October 23rd, 2007 No comments

I learned some pretty disturbing news from my friend earlier. Looks like he was turned down for a job he was fully qualified for due to his bad credit. That sounded a little bit discrimatory to me. Someone's previous lifestyle should not affect their future employment. Not to mention how many people have crappy credit. How are people with bad credit supposed to advance? Working crappy pizza jobs for years until their credit score is improved?

Besides, a person in need might even work harder! Most people probably want their credit to improve, I'd imagine.

Something about this really rubs me wrong. Like, write-to-my-senator-or-congressman wrong. We already have things like the Fair Credit Reporting Act and all this privacy around our credit, why should our employer have access to information about how we spend our money? As long as the work gets done, that is all they should care about.

I do agree however that criminal background checks are a good thing. But credit? What's next? We won't be hired if we have poor bowling skills or some other equally personal detail?

Categories: Consumerism

Are you getting the most out of your DVI port?

October 16th, 2007 3 comments

Did you know there are five types of DVI connectors? I didn't. DVI-D dual link, DVI-D single link, DVI-I dual link, DVI-I single link, and DVI-A. Of course, I learned this the hard way, and I bet most people still haven't. I don't have much previous experience with DVI, but now that I have a Macbook Pro and an HDTV, I wanted to connect it at 1080p once I realized I could (using an HDMI port on the TV, not the VGA connection.)

I thought it would be as simple as going and picking up an HDMI to DVI cable. Not even close. After I picked one up at a local shop and brought it home, I realized it was "missing" pins. It would function still, but not at its full potential. I wondered about this and hit up Wikipedia, and sure enough, there are multiple types of DVI connections.

After shopping at five different stores (including the Apple Store and the Mac Store) I realized that nobody actually sells DVI-D or DVI-I dual link cables (or even adapters) which is what is required for 1080p. I had to go down to Fry's in Wilsonville and finally was able to pick one up. 15 feet for $24.99, actually much cheaper than most of the single link options at all the other stores (and those were shorter cables, too.)

Sure enough, DVI-D dual link saves the day. I can now use the Macbook at full 1080p on my 47" Vizio GV47LF, although I have to say the text is pretty small. Using Front Row and watching movie trailers through it using all 47" is pretty neat though.

Categories: Consumerism, Toys