Entries Tagged as 'Shit List'

One of the upsides of the internet…

One of the things that the internet allows almost everyone is the ability to express their opinion in a venue that others can “hear”.

Just do an internet search on almost anything you can think of… you’ll find reviews, comments, rants, and sometimes raves!

While you rarely know anything about the individual who wrote the posting, from a well thought out post you can gather some important questions to get the answers to before making a decision, so as a tool for an informed consumer the internet can be invaluable not only in locating the “best” prices, but also in finding the “best” products and “best” vendors!

It only takes a little effort to learn a great deal about any good or service you’re considering — it’s totally up to you whether you make an informed decision or just wing it.

Originally posted 2008-12-30 12:00:06.

Beware of vendors that support SPAM!

I’ve know for a very long time that many websites that sell goods and services to consumers also sell (or trade) the email addresses they register.

SPAM (Unsolicited Commercial Email – UCE) is when any entity sends you an email soliciting money for goods or services that you have not specifically requested.

Thus, when one company provided email marketers your email address (without your express permission) they are supporting SPAM, and companies that support SPAM are no better than the SPAMmers themselves since they are making money from SPAM.

But how would you know who sold your email address?

That’s easy, for years I’ve provided each vendor I do business with a unique email address which tracks any and all mail back to them.

Recently I found that a company I purchased a couple items from — CDR DVD Media ( www.cdrdvdrmedia.com ) sold or traded my email address to an email marketer.  What’s really funny in this is that CDR DVD Media uses Yahoo! (a company that purports to oppose SPAMming and hold it customers to high anti-SPAM standards) to process orders (so it appears it’s easy for Yahoo to talk the talk, but maybe they should walk the walk and actually adopt a ZERO tolerance policy against SPAMmers and their customers that support them — oh right, that means Yahoo would cut into it’s revenue stream, and they really probably only want to prevent SPAMming from free customers).

My policy (and I recommend it become you policy) is that you NEVER do business with SPAMmers or companies that support SPAMming.  Of course, I warned of the growing problem of SPAM/UCE over 15 years ago… and it’s easy for any and everyone to see now what burying your head in the sand does to prevent greedy marketers from breaking the law (yeah — SPAM is against the law in a number of states; and often SPAMmers steal services to send out their message).

Originally posted 2009-07-31 01:00:24.

Facebook

First, I don’t get Facebook, to me it’s just a site where people who don’t have a life try to pretend the do… but even if you are “into” Facebook, I’m not sure why anyone would have  invested in the Facebook IPO… let’s look at the ethics of Mark Zuckerberg (co-founder of Facebook).

The predecessor to Facebook, Facemash was populated with pictures that Zuckerberg obtained by hacking into system that had private dormitory ID image… something that should have gotten him expelled from Harvard, or thrown in jail.

Then, he went on to launch Thefacebook, and he did that by misleading a three other students into helping him build it.  Then Zuckerberg refused to give them a share of what they’d worked on, until the three filed a lawsuit (it was settled out of court).

So with a person like that at the helm of Facebook, why would we be the list bit surprised that they may have overstated their value and may have only disclosed their actual valuation to large investors (we’ll have to wait for the SEC investigation to finish to know what actually happened).

And yet millions and millions of people “trust” Facebook with their personal and confidential information — even though Facebook doesn’t really provide any controls over how that information might be used.

My advice, dump Facebook now.  Whether we’re talking about the stock you may have been conned into purchasing or the social network your use makes a very few people very wealthy off of.

Originally posted 2012-05-29 02:00:47.

Sam’s Club Discover

I was at Sam’s Club on the first of this month, and they had a promotion going on that you’d get a $40 instant credit on $100 (or more) purchase if you applied for and were accepted for a Sam’s Club Discover Card.

It was a no brainer —  what I was going to buy was $120, and the $40 instant credit would pay the fee for renewing my Sam’s Club card (NOTE: the renewal fee was excluded from the $100 minimum purchase).

GE Money Bank (the issuer of the Sam’s Club and Walmart Discover cards) issued a stated on the second of the month (the day after the charges); and had my statement to me less than a week after I’d opened the account.  However, I just received the actual card today.

Like with most credit cards you needed to call a toll free number and enter just about every piece of personal and confidential information you’d provided when applying for the card — at what seemed like the end of the activation, I got a message to please hold that I was being transferred to customer service.

After almost five minutes on hold, a very cherry woman come on the line, ask me how my day was and immediately launched into a sales pitch — I cut her off and told her whatever it was she was trying to up-sell to me, I wasn’t interest… that their system had kept me on hold for nearly five minutes to just try and sell me something I wasn’t the least bit interested in, and then I told her I wanted to close my account.  She responded that I’d need to look on the back of the card for the number, and I told her I wanted the number from her.

She gave me the number, and I hung up and called.

The automated system answered immediately, forced me to hear all about my account balance and due date — presented a myriad of twisty little turns to finally get to a customer service representative.

I told her I wanted to cancel; I told her why — she started to sputter out some apology and ask me to reconsider and I told her I didn’t care about her time, but I was tired of wasting my time and I just wanted the account canceled now.  The call was disconnected.

I called back; and same thing, a very long hold.  By the time that I actually got to talk to a customer service representative I’d been at this for over half an hour — and I pointed this out to her, and told here that I was in none to good a mood — that she would cancel the account, and I didn’t want to hear anything but it was done.

I wrote an electronic message to Sam’s Club on their web site after all this was done telling them what a poor reflection GE Money Bank was on their reputation.  The reply I receive (almost immediately) was just an apology, and told me what a valuable customer I was.

Right — GE Money Bank had been telling me what a valuable customer I was all the time on their automated system… but the bottom line, they didn’t value me as a customer — they wanted to treat me like a schmuck who’s time was totally worthless.  Clearly a company that didn’t value my time — or value me as anything but a potential source of revenue.

I’ve always considered Sam’s Club as low rent compared to other warehouse clubs such as Costco — and they continue to reinforce that image time and time again.

Costco selects American Express (which I consider to be thieves and liars — but they at least do pretend to respect their customers) for their credit card; Sam’s Club chooses GE Money Bank (how much more low rent can you get).

I don’t do much business at Sam’s Club; and I certainly won’t be increasing the amount of business I do there… but I certainly won’t be doing any business with GE Money Bank — and personally I think they tarnish Discover Card’s exceptional customer service.

Originally posted 2010-09-16 02:00:55.

Public Storage

Public Storage has a $1 first month special (you do still have to pay the administrative fee) that sounds on the surface to be a great deal.

However, what they don’t tell you is that you’re probably not going to be able to get the size you reserve, and they’re going to try and soak you for additional charges to provide you with two or three units that fulfill your storage requirements.

I’m going to recommend you try other storage facilities first; simply because many of the others also have deals (most give you the second or third month free); but all the others seem to be much more honest from the first contact about what size units they have or will likely have.

NOTE:  The Public Storage I’d made a reservation at did call me back while I was on the road to tell me they had a unit come available; of course I was on the road and they only gave me a couple hours to respond.

Originally posted 2009-04-23 01:00:59.

A season of peace on Earth…

and good will toward men.

Hardly.

It would truly be the most wonderful time of the year if there were peace; even if the peace were momentary, but especially if it were lasting.

Christmas in the US is a commercial holiday, filled with greed and consumerism.

The religious zealots who co-opted a pagan holiday have a longer history of violence than peace — so when they try and tell you what the true meaning of Christmas is… ask yourself how many people who don’t share their views must die so that they can have their reich.

The emporer has no cloths.

In the US we don’t only have freedom to choose our religion; we have the freedom to choose to be free of religion and all the oppression that history shows it brings with it.  Make your choice known.

For background on Chrismas, you can view Wikipedia

Originally posted 2009-12-25 01:00:55.

Promise NS4300N NAS

I’ve been a reasonably big fan of Promise in the past; their PCI IDE cards worked well, their PCI SATA cards worked well, their 16 Channel SATA2 RAID5 PCIe cards worked fine, and their NAS box seemed like a really good buy.

When I first got the box almost two years ago it worked fine; it had a few issues (like the lack of hard drive spin-down, even though there tech support insisted it had it)… but in general it was a reasonable buy.

A week ago I invested in some 1.5TB Seagate SATA2 drives to upgrade my Promise, their web site indicated that the new firmware that was just released supported the drives so I felt fairly confident in buying them.

Well, the answer is, you can four 1.5TB drives in the box, but you cannot use more than three of them in a RAID array… seems like maybe they never tested it with four drives (wow — a four drive NAS not being tested with four drives).

What happens i that you can build out all the drives, put content on them, but when you reboot — the box complains of file system errors and the only thing you can do is start over — losing the content of your RAID (I hope you haven’t depended on your RAID actually being fault tolerant… if you have you’re SOL).

I figured yeah, this is a bug, I’ll just file a trouble report with Promise and get an ETA on a fix.

I submitted the trouble report (after having to go through way too much of a hassle to setup an account there), got a confirmation email that indicated I’d get a response within one business day…

Let’s see, that’s been almost a week ago — and I don’t have an ETA on a fix, I don’t have any response from them (not even one that says that they’re looking into it — aware or it — or anything).

Let’s face it, if a vendor can’t meet the low-bar expectations they’ve set by actually providing a reply within one business day, what confidence should I have in them that they will ever be able to actually fix the problem and maintain reasonable quality.

All I have to say is that I’m glad my last two RAID controllers came from one of Promise’s competitors — and I guarantee you my next RAID controllers and NAS boxes will likely not come from Promise!

Originally posted 2008-11-20 12:00:04.

Just Say No To Adorama

I wanted to buy a couple filters for my camera, and I’m fairly picky about just what brand of filter goes on my lens.  My preference is Sunpak and Quantaray (Quantaray is made by Hoya) — both Japanese manufactured, and solid glass construction with multi-coats.

I looked up prices, and found that Amazon had a good price on a Sunpak kit with both of the filters I wanted in it; so I looked at the buy options, Amazon was a little more expensive than a couple of the other vendors they listed, but with free shipping it was just about a wash and I prefer to deal with Amazon and avoid Amazon merchants.  The only problem was, Amazon was out of stock, and of course no way to know how long it would take for them to get stock.

I guess I just wanted to be done with it, so I clicked on the link to buy the item I wanted from Adorama

I have to say,  Adorama was fairly quick about shipping out the filters, and their shipping price was fair; but when I opened the bubble envelope inside was a clear plastic bag with an invoice and two Tiffen filters rather than two Sunpak filters.

  • NOTE:  Tiffen is US made, and they may be believe their manufacturing technology is great; but I’ll pass on it.

At first I thought I’d made a mistake and ordered the wrong thing; but then I noticed I could read the itemized invoice through the plastic bag.  First line on the invoice was a Sunpak filter kit with the Sunpak number; the next line said kit consists of (hmm… Sunpak sells the two lens in a package, the vendor doesn’t assemble it — but I’d have no problem taking two individually packaged Sunpak filters for the price of the kit, provided they were the Sunpak filters that were supposed to be in the kit); the next two lines listed out Tiffen filters, descriptions, and part numbers.

So much for even thinking I’d made a mistake, and so much for even thinking it might have been human error on Adorama’s side.

I don’t have a problem with a vendor being out of stock of an item I ordered; and I don’t have any problem with them substituting an equivalent or better item (with my permission — I get to make the call whether it’s equivalent or better); or advising me that there will be a delay; or refunding my money.  The key really is the vendor needs to contact me and advise me of the situation and the options they’re comfortable with. 

What Adorama did was bait-and-switch; only they didn’t have me participate in the switch so it was just out right fraud.

Personally I don’t do business with companies who think so little of their customers that they believe they can do what ever they want when ever they want…

I, of course, contacted Adorama (still no reply — and we’re moving in on a week).  I contacted Amazon, I’ve actually exchanged email with them twice on this matter, and they’ve ask that I wait until after Monday before they will take any action.  And I’ve contacted my credit card company; who were appalled at a merchant doing what I told them they had done, so I don’t expect having any problems getting a favorable resolution to this.

One of the reasons I felt it would be “OK” to purchase from Adorama (breaking my policy of avoiding Amazon merchants when ever possible) was that Ken Rockwell, who maintains a great web site on photography (and other things) had listed Adorma on his site as a vendor, and I had hoped that they had the same high standards as Ken (he also lists Amazon, B&H Photo Video Pro Audio, J&R, and Ritz Camera /Wolf Camera — all of which I tend to trust).

I’ve ordered a set of Sunpak filters from Amazon, and I’ll just be content to wait until they get them in stock, which will probably happen before Adorama sends me a pre-paid return shipping label.

__________
 
For your reference, I’ve include links to the two Japanese filter manufacturers I prefer (again I find Hoya branded filters expensive, and you can get the exact same product at a lower price by buying a store or generic brand that’s made by Hoya). 
 

__________

NOTE:

Please read the complete follow up before making any decisions on Adorama.

Originally posted 2009-01-04 12:00:16.

No Flash

I’ll start by saying that my view of Flash is that it’s total garbage – completely unnecessary – and a huge security hole.  Before I dive too deep, here’s what Adobe says about flash on their product page:

Adobe® Flash® Player is a cross-platform browser-based application runtime that delivers uncompromised viewing of expressive applications, content, and videos across screens and browsers. Flash Player 10.1 is optimized for high performance on mobile screens and designed to take advantage of native device capabilities, enabling richer and more immersive user experiences.

What the hell is “richer more immersize user  experiences” supposed to mean?  Is that the way to say that the vast majority of sites that use flash on their first page are done by idiots who don’t know how to build a standards based web page and think that annoying glitz is all that people care about?  I dunno — but the whole spiel reeks of a load of crap to me.

No one has ever (successfully) explained to me why they feel they need to use Flash.  Does it actually do anything that can’t be done in a standards based way that doesn’t require that you update a crappy plug-in almost as often as you change your underwear?  Any one got an explanation as to why Adobe feels that they need to us a download manager and update manager that further pollute your machine?  Wait, maybe it’s because Adobe engineers are nearly as clueless as their target audience.  I dunno — seem like more crap from Adobe.

Flash is just crap — and it’s from a crappy company that lives in the past and tries to sell over-prices products to clueless individuals who don’t understand what they’re doing.  I dunno — maybe Adobe should just be used as a synonym for “crap”.  It would fit; some Adobe huts look a little like a huge pile of dung; and Adobe and it’s software share more than a slight resemblance to a huge pile of crap!

I have (on several occasions) republished a Flash video by embedding it in a post – but I certainly would rather provide a link to a h.264 or MPEG4 video in a standard container that didn’t require individuals to install any proprietary trash on their computer to view or hear it.

Join me in moving forward to make the web a “NO FLASH” place… just say no to flash.

FLASH

NOTE: One of my good friends tells me that I shouldn’t just rant on how horrible Flash is without presenting a solid argument.  I don’t, in fact, have to substantiate my opinion — my feeling is that Flash is such a huge pile of crap that it wreaks such that anyone who’d understand the argument already realizes it’s crap — and those who are clueless are hopeless… but, I’ll present a link to Wikipedia which describes what Flash is, and I’ll emphasize that anything legitimate that can be done in Flash can be done using open standards (that require no browser plug-ins) in HTML4 with JavaScript (ECMAScript) with some work, and allegedly they can be done much more simply in HTML5.  And for those with only a basic understanding of JavaScript you can find free and open source JavaScript foundations and widgets to help you build a web site that works on virtually any browser (or degrades nicely) and doesn’t require a huge stinking pile of crap from Adobe.

Flash (aka ActionScript) on Wikipedia

Originally posted 2010-10-21 02:00:39.

Home Depot Online

In many respects Home Depot was a pioneer in the home improvement store industry.

Originally started in Atlanta in the late 70’s; four stores (recycled building from JC Penney’s failed attempt to enter the pharmacy retail segment) they build a chain that used technology for inventory control, checking out, ordering, stocking…

Now enter the new millineum where many brick and mortor retailers have figured out if you can use your online (web) presence to help customers purchase items and manage your inventory you can increase profits and lower costs.

Well… I wanted some shelving units — and I found pretty much what I wanted at a reasonable price.  But low and behold, I couldn’t elect to order it and pick it up at a local Home Depot store (I can do that with the competitor Lowe’s; or with Wal-Mart; or with hundreds of other companies)… they actually want me to pay for shipping.  Expensive shipping, and it’s not like their delivery service is going to bring those heavy items upstairs — so all I get out of it is having to wait.

I don’t believe they should only offer in store pickup; they should offer both home delivery and in store pickup (just like Lowe’s).

Not only does it save money for everyone to do in store pickup; but it allows me to manage my time better (I don’t have to wait around for a truck line to make a 350 pound delivery).

Why?

Let’s see now… who’s web site will I be clicking the “BUY” button on, and who will be getting my money.   One last bit of advice to Home Depot, you might want to close some more stores, because with this type of “exceptional customer service” you’re probably going to find yourself without customers.  Of course they started in store fronts of a failed venture, so they certainly should understand where it all can end up.

Originally posted 2009-02-15 01:00:35.