Tobacco v Alcohol

Every year tobacco kills more Americans than did World War II — more than AIDS, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, vehicular accidents, homicide and suicide combined.
· George Will; June 18th, 2009 Washington Post op-ed

Truth-O-Meter

High Speed Rail might be de-railed

It’s very likely that one of the casualties of the mid-term elections will be the high-speed-rail grants.

Representative John Mica (R-FL) who is in line to be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated he wants to re-examine all $10 billion worth of high-speed-rail grants that have already been awarded around the country.

High speed rail service would be an extremely cost effective competitor to increasing air transportation; it would be far more eco-friendly; use less energy; potentially use renewable energy; and unlike airports, high speed rail stations could be in the middle of busy metropolitan areas.

No question the US has to tighten it’s belt and bring it’s spending in line with it’s bank accounts — but investments in long term infrastructure improvements are likely what will allow the economy to rebound and gain a solid footing.

I’d say we need to look at all the spending and make sure we make cuts where it’s waste first — and then weigh the costs and benefits before making other cuts.

As I’ve posted before — we could cut down the salaries, retirement pensions, and health insurance costs for elected official… that’s a good start to savings — and elected officials should get the same “benefits” they approve for the American people.

Originally posted 2010-11-23 02:00:13.

Perpetrating a Public Fraud

On my birthday I sent off my US Passport renewal application via US Priority Mail® because I wanted to insure that my old passport wasn’t lost, and of course the National Passport Center only has a Post Office box.

You can view the tracking information on the link below.

I called the US Postal Service about this (I actually had to make three separate calls, but it’s the post office so I didn’t expect stellar customer service).  The bottom line is they told me that even though this item was mishandled by the post office, and that the delay was not the result of anything beyond their control I was not entitled to a refund.

Read what the post office has on their web site about priority mail… “about 2 days” — 2 weeks (and one day) is no where near 2 days…

Like most “big businesses” in this country, the US Postal Service believes they are above the law and simply do not have to be truthful or honest in their business and advertising practices.

My advice, pay a little more and use a reliable carrier and simply avoid the US Postal Service — it’s no wonder that they’re having a difficult time making ends meet, maybe if they actually cared about consumers.

Personally I’m looking forward to the day the US Postal Service fails and I stop receiving “Junk Mail”.

Priority Mail®

With delivery in about 2 days and affordable prices, Priority Mail service is a great choice for shipping packages and envelopes. It includes Free Package Pickup* at your door. Plus, when you ship online you’ll get special savings and free Delivery Confirmation™.

You can view the tracking information here:

Show tracking information for 9405503699300472497222.

Or you can view it online at USPS.Com (you can confirm I haven’t edited the information):

Originally posted 2012-05-04 02:00:34.

Is Adorama a SPAMmer?

At the bottom of this post are links to the first and second post I made concerning an order I’d placed with Adorama.

Yesterday I recieved an Unsolicted Commercial Email (UCE) from Adorama; apparently they felt it was quite acceptable to subscribe an email address they obtained from Amazon as part of order fulfillment to their mailing list.  While the email did contain an “unsubscribe” link, I never authorized any use of my personal information beyond the fulfilment of my order (and I just terminated the disposable email address on file with Amazon and created a new one).

I have written a complaint to Amazon; we’ll see what action they take (my guess is none, even though UCE is illegal in Washington State as well as California).

I don’t do OPT-OUT, I don’t do business with SPAMmers, and I don’t do business with businesses who support SPAMmers — so at the moment Adorama is back on my shit list, and depending on the action Amazon takes they may be on my shit list as well!

It always amazes me companies that think so little of themselves and the value of their advertisements that they need to force customers to get their junk mail, rather than provide them with the opportunity to specify their interest upfront.  Seems a consistent gauge of a bad company — they do what ever they want, why should they care if it’s legal, ethical, or good for business in the long term.

 

References:

  • California Business and Professions Code Section 17538.45
  • Chapter 19 of the Revised Code of WA, RCW 19.190

 

Previous posts:

__________

POST-NOTE:

Adorama assures me that email addresses obtained from Amazon are not automatically subscribed to their mailing lists.  However, customer’s who place orders directly with Adorama appear to have their email addresses automatically subscribed to their mailing list.  And my address was automatically subscribed because they placed a replacement order for me as part of the fulfillment process of my Amazon order.  From my perspective subscribing any email address to a mailing list without first obtaining a customer’s permission amounts to UCE and it totally unacceptable irrespective of the fact that you include an unsubscribe link in the email — it would have been far more acceptable to include a subscribe link in the order acknowledgement or shipping notice (and allow the customer to decide).

You need to make your own decision as to whether or not Adorama’s actions are ethical (and legal in your state of residence); but for me I don’t deal with companies who feel they may do as they please with my personal and confidential information (and my email addresses are personal and confidential).

Originally posted 2009-01-21 01:00:20.

Do Not Mail Initiatives

In the United States we have a “Do Not Call” list that’s moderately effective at reducing marketing calls for those of us who don’t want them (though politicians notably made an exception for themselves)… but we don’t have a “Do Not Mail” list… and we should.

Organizations like the Direct Marketing Association lobby congress heavily to keep their mail rates cheap and prevent any legislation from standing in the way of their members from killing millions of trees, littering our mail boxes with “junk mail”, and wasting energy to produce – distribute – collect – and hopefully recycle all that garbage.

For several years now legislation has been pending that would greatly limit direct mail marketing (in much the same way as telephone marketing) — write your representatives in Washington DC and tell them YOU want legislation that will give you control over your mail box.

NOTE:  In all fairness, the Direct Marketing Association does offer a “Mail Preference Service” to consumers, and does require that it’s members use those preferences when mailing materials.  However, they make it difficult for consumers to enter their addresses and there are questions as to how effect self regulation has been.

Originally posted 2008-11-01 12:00:03.

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Vista Activation

Over the past couple weeks I’ve had to “reactivate” two copies of Vista; now I did update the video cards and the optical drive (which is likely what triggered it), but interestingly enough, these are the two oldest copies of Vista (the first two computers installed with it).

It’s not difficult…

You try the online activation, it fails.

You call the automated telephone activation system, it fails.

You request a transfer to a Microsoft activation specialist, you read them the codes, answer a couple simple questions, and they give you the activation code which you type in and then you’ve activated.

Hopefully my activation is good for another twenty months (or more)!

NOTE:  While I’m sure that changing the hardware triggered this, I suspect that Microsoft has implemented a more rigorous inspection of the computer fingerprint to defeat bulk copies of Vista by questionable computer manufactures.

Originally posted 2008-12-28 12:00:06.

Seagate Firmware Issues

If you own a Seagate hard drive in the Baracuda 7200.11, or Barracuda ES.2 (SATA only), or Maxtor DiamondMax 22 series you might want to read on…

Seagate has confirmed that a number of issues customers have been seeing in 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, and 1.5TB drives is because of an issue with firmware (it also affects other drives, but apparently is seen most often in the “larger” drives).

There have been a number of write ups on the internet about this problem, and Seagate released firmware SD17 in December 2008 which they believed fixed the problems; and then SD1A in January 2009 which again they believed fixed the problems; but reports indicated that these firmware revisions may actually create one of the very problems Seagate is attempting to address.

The firmware issues can adversely effect the drives performance or it can render the drive totally useless (brick mode).

In an effort to prevent worse PR than Seagate is already suffering for this problem, they have stepped forward to assure everyone that they are working on the issues, that the drives have five year warranties (three for Maxtor), and that they will pay the costs for data recovery service if the drive bricks and cannot be used.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind everyone that Seagate is a California based company; and California has a “lemon law” and fairly strict consumer protection when a vendor advertises products that are supposed to have some feature and fail to deliver on that promise.  It’s unlikely Seagate will allow this problem to spin out of control, the financial liability is simply too high for them (we’re talking about potentially being forced to repurchase almost every drive they’ve sold for the past three years AT THE PRICE THE CONSUMER PAID for it if they don’t fix the problem soon.

You can view more details in the knowledge base article below, and subscribe to updates.  You can also view many rants on these issues by doing a web search.

Originally posted 2009-01-22 01:00:02.

Google +

So I’ve had a Google+ account for awhile, and now I guess everyone else in the world (who has a GMail account — Google hosted accounts are excluded for the time being) can have a Google+ account now.

My questions is…

What do I do with it?

I mean why would I use it verses Facebook or Twitter (or any one of the other useless sites I’ve avoided like the plague)?

Originally posted 2011-09-20 01:00:26.

Windows 7 on a NetBook

Tonight’s project was upgrading my MSI U120 NetBook from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium.

I put the disc in the external USB DVD drive, booted into setup, prepared the 500GB Seagate hard drive (I upgraded the hard drive to 500GB and the memory to 2GB right after I got the NetBook) for a single partition installation using diskpart (I had Acronis TrueImage Home on the NetBook, but I decided I didn’t want to put that on my new installations), and let it go…

Setup did it’s thing; rebooted, started up and then I ran the updates… and to my surprise every single device was functioning perfectly — including the web cam which Windows Vista needed me to install a driver manually for.

The machine even seems to run a little faster — though honestly I had no complaints with Vista; but I just use this machine to browse the web, email, and GPS, often from a cellular data connection.

The Atom N270 processor is is a little light weight for many tasks, but for what I use my NetBook for I’m quite happy with it; and quite pleased with how easy it was to install Windows 7 on the machine.

I really wish I had a touch screen PC to try out Windows 7 on… but that will have to wait until those come down in price [a lot] more.

One word of advice if you’re in the market for a NetBook — make sure that you can put more memory in it, while you may not have the fastest processor around, more memory and a faster hard drive will definitely give you much more performance.  Also, many of the newer NetBooks use a new generation of Atom processor which actually has fairly beefy performance.  But remember, if you need to use your NetBook for long periods where you don’t have access to power — you’ll have to weigh performance against power consumption for longer battery life.  For me, my NetBook is primary used in my truck or temporary accommodations — so power is always near by.

Originally posted 2009-11-27 01:00:38.

Armistice Day

The eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of year 1918 AD marked the official end of German involvement in World War I with their signing of the Armistice in a railway carriage in Compiègne Forest, Picardie, France (near the town of Compiègne).

Dedicated as Remembrance Day by King George V (England) in 1919 and proclaimed Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson (US).  Today is now known through much of the Western World (particularly in the Common Wealth) as Remembrance Day; though the US has celebrated is as Veterans Day since 1954.

Red poppies are often used as a symbol to remember the blood shed; white poppies are often (offensively) used as a symbol to be vigilant for peace.

We should always remember the past, and learn from our fore fathers so that we might leave the world a better place for those who follow.

Originally posted 2009-11-11 11:11:59.