Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Term

I was chatting with someone today and called them "Snarky Dark"

They always have something pessimistic and sarcastic to say on their comments on blogs...

I like it.. Snarky Dark.  Dark Snark.


What's Comcast Up To?

So I got a notice in my mailbox that says I need to contact Comcast before April 6th and let them know how many TV's I have that are not on cable boxes.

They say that for me to continue to get a sub-range of channels, I need a box on these TV's.  No extra charge they say.  Once they found me in their database...  (for some reason my only phone # didn't come up with the 3rd party they've contracted with to carry out these communications) I've got my adaptors coming.

Now all I have to do is once I receive them, hook them up, have Comcast initialize them once connected, and away I go.

My normally suspicious nature makes me a basket case when things like this happen.  Why?  I remember some years ago when my "cable provider" distributed a "survey" asking what channels we, the subscribers like.

Afterward, it seemed that the channels that were upvoted by many people, were then put on their own additional entertainment tiers and we were then charged more for our "favored" channels.  That's why I'm nervous. 

I'm waiting for this extra information to bite us in the back side later on down the road.  Bookmark this post and wait.  I'm a gambling man.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Travel and Your Passwords

How often do you change passwords? Once in a while? Sometimes? Never?

In theory, one should change their passwords every 6 months to a year. In practice many never change their passwords because it's just too much trouble, but changing your passwords is one proactive method for protecting your online accounts, financial data and other personal information.


Concerns When You Travel
When you travel, public computers are a great sand trap for keylogger software and spyware. A multitude of users have access to the computer and you never know who's been on it last.

But you're probably thinking that these computers have password controlled access and you have to be a hotel guest to use it. Sure, but web bots can find these systems, or a disreputable user might have a network drive out on the internet that he can access his malware from and install it. For the general user, it seems insurmountable to break a login screen. To the professional, it can be a matter of minutes with the right software.


Travel Security Tips
When you know you're going to travel, change your passwords before hitting the road to online accounts you know you'll be accessing. Change them back when you get home.

If you end up using an account you weren't planning to while you're on the road, change them to something new when you get home.

When you're done using a public machine LOG OFF properly. Don't just close the window with the X in the upper right corner.


What Kind of Passwords to create / use?
When creating passwords, try using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and or symbols with a minimum of 6 characters.

You want to make it as complicated as possible to break while still being able to remember it.

One common piece of advice is don't use things that are related to you: Birthdays, anniversaries, initials, etc..

I create sentences to make my passwords. Today is Monday the 31st or TiMt31st. Ok, that's too many t's, but you get the idea.

It's up to you to create some simple first defense to your sensitive information because if you don't, you only have yourself to blame if someone happens across your unprotected account, and I don't want you regretting any lack of action on your part and saying, I should have listened to Bruce.

It's your financial information online or on your computer. Protect it accordingly.

image: freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Comcast And The Most Inopportune Advertising

So I am trying to contact COMCAST because my cable reception was pretty iffy.  So I am already somewhat miffed.

While I am on hold, it probably isn't the best time to try and advertise to me an additional service to tack onto the system that's presently ticking me off.

Do ya think?


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Word Of Warning To New New Real Estate Agents

It's been a few years since I got out of the real estate business and canceled my real estate license. You'd think that once you got out, you're out.

Nope.

To this day I still get loads of junk email from all these prospective business partners who have all kinds of good information to share with me.

First off, if you're going to be spamming people as a real estate professional, you should try your own domain you lazy twits. Hotmail and gmail business offers just look terrible and don't inspire anyone. - Well, at least not me.

Secondly, once you scrape the real estate association list of realtors, or buy them from the associations, you ought to do it more than once every few years. For example, Jerry AT The TallGroup seems to think that despite my using their opt-out links in their emails for the last few months consistently, that I still want their emails. Boy, do they have a surprise coming. That's because violating the spam email laws can land you a fine of up to $10k. Hope it was worth it.

IF YOU ARE THINKING OF GOING INTO REAL ESTATE:

First, you're nuts. But if you have an in, more power to you. But what ever you do, set up your email or new domain account before you jump in.

Brand yourself by using your name as your brand, but whatever you do, go make an email account that you want to give to the different associations you are forced to sign up with and pay dues to. (You see, even in an iffy economy, all the associations with their required annual education restrictions guarantees that the backing associations will still do well, regardless of the individual state of business. Nice, huh?)

I recommend Yahoo or Gmail for signing up with the associations. I leave out AOL because they filter some mail before it even gets to you and you may never see it.

If you don't plan ahead, you'll be getting 10 to 20 wonderful business offers every day AT EACH email you've used, for quit a few years to come. Yea... you see, my problem was that I used one email, then thinking I'm being smart, changed it to another. Now both are getting spammed regularly, years after the fact.

Maybe I should make a list of the spammers and publicize it... let you know who the unprofessional, desperate entities are... hmm. I like that.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why I Like Photobucket Over Flickr

I just tried uploading a bunch of pics to Flickr. I've liked the service, but found out their free service limits you to 200 viewable images. Meanwhile, Photobucket doesn't.

Flickr won't let you put video out there, Photobucket does.

I didn't look to see if there is a bandwidth limit on Flickr. Photobucket has a 25Gb monthly limit, so for most, that should be fine.

Of course, regardless of the service, you can always get around the limitations by upgrading to their pro services!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ACDSEE, You Suck My Back Side

ACDSee, your accounting department / ordering process stinks.

In January, you sent me an email offer you can't seem to fulfill. 3x on the phone you said you'd contact me to take care of the problem. Helloooooo!?

Your online ordering system is asinine with no clear cut instructions until you screw up and then you get the red print or error. Only by making errors do you get the full gist of what is required.

I've tried ordering things 4 frakking times now, and your effing accounting department has put a kabosh on my name because they don't like my mailing address that I use with all my credit / cash accounts. Their online purchasing system continues to fuck it up. And calling you 4x doesn't seem to help either.

On top of this, they've blocked my name so the system won't even accept my certified paypal account that has cash in that account.

In the end, the online supervisor says they can't process my order due to complications with the address I use for running my business... They wanted me to change the business address I associate with my company for "24 hours" so they can process my order. You're kidding me right? Change my entire business infrastructure for one company... yea, right. Bullshit to you ACDSee.

I get it. You're so effing big, with 25 million customers that I don't count. No problem... Open Source GIMP it is.

Thanks for shedding light on this issue.







Sincerely, an ex 10 year standing customer.
--
Bruce

PS: Despite this going on to 3 months of banter and no one calling me back, the folks on the phone were very civil and tried their best to work with me, but they were stumped by their dumbass purchasing department.

Bah Bye Acdsee... bah bye.

Monday, March 9, 2009

When I Say "Understood" - It Really Is


It's rarely a good thing when I reply with a single word, basically, "Understood." It's not bad either, but usually, it means I see the brick wall and I stop here.

I picked up this phrase after watching a show called DUE SOUTH starring Paul Gross who played Constable Benton Fraser.

Fraser was a wood-lore savy Canadian Mounted Police officer, attached to a Chigaco police precinct, for reasons that we don't need to explore at this juncture! (LOL). But the character infected me. I've most notably picked up two terms from the show that seemed to not only stick with me, but I tend to use.

One is "Thank you kindly." I use that all the time these days. It's a nice way to say thanks and it stands out.

The other phrase, I rarely use, is "Understood." Fraser used this catch phrase to reply to people who made no sense, was in the wrong or was just damn moot to the point of the situation. When there was really no point in arguing with someone, or he was on to something beyond what was being said, he tended to reply with this infamous, short, one word reply, "Understood."

Here's an example I can come up with: Fraser might be talking to a bad guy with a gun. He's asked him to put the gun down. The bad guy might say something to the affect that no, he's here to rob the store. Fraser would then say, "Understood", but with the intent that it's moot to try and talk him out of it, but that he (Fraser) will be disarming him in some form in the immediate future, but there's no reason to go into that now.

It's classic, it's meaningful and says that there is so much more going on in my head, but what is the point of me even going there? Whether it 'is understood', or 'what is understood' or 'understood by whom', it just says - "fine."

I've learned a long time ago that sometimes, trying to make your point with some folk is meaningless and a waste of everyone's time. When they're set in their ways to the point of using stubborn emotional blinders to any other process, I just don't see the point. It's better to just have an understanding and move on. Trying to get someone else to see your point when they are NEVER going to change is more frustrating than anything else.

And that, is why you sometimes see or hear my one word response, "Understood", in our conversation. For those who know me, if they care, they inquire. For others, it's a sufficient end to the conversation. "Nuff said, as it's been put.

Thank you kindly for hearing my rant.

Palo Alto Strikes Again - Thank You Daily Post

I seem to like picking on Palo Alto, CA.  Previously I've mentioned how they have this wonderful park up in the mountains - it's big, it's scenic, it's connected to the wildlife in the region... but oh, you can't go in unless you are a resident of Palo Alto.

That's because back when other cities had a chance to pitch in and provide funds for the land, they didn't.  So the Palo Alto infrastructure struck back at everyone by saying since we paid for it, no one else can use it.

Palo Alto also started looking at some plan to charge non-residents fees to park in their city.  That would also include the non-residents who own businesses in Palo Alto, but don't live there.

Now the latest fun I'm having with Palo Alto...  which some around here use the term affectionately, Shallow Alto, is that over the last few months they were looking to build a new police station for their cops.  It was projected to cost $80 million.  Fine, I get that.  But wait!  After all this time, something was being overlooked.

My new favorite newspaper, called the Daily Post ran an article last week titled "Mystery Floor May Help Cops" points out that there's been this 3rd floor of the present police headquarters that is empty...  and has been empty since the building was built back in 1968...  crickets...  10,000 square feet of empty space, just waiting to be occupied.

Palo Alto doesn't seem to want people to come to their little neck of the woods and doesn't seem to think there's a limit on their spending.  Or their vision of advancement is obscured.  How do you miss an entire floor of a building?  Eh, I'm not involved in the process.  I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation.

For now, the Daily Post is my fav paper.  They're been calling out local municipalities on various issues.  Red Light Traffic Cams that cost the city $6k a month for each intersection to run.  Or that the Yellow Light time frames at these interesections seemed shorter than the national recomendation.  Or how they've been outing the income of city officials in different locations.  I liked the list from Palo Alto.  Street Sweepers making $72k...  librarians - $100k...  the paper is a fun read.

I hope more people pick it up and read it.  The only short coming is that the paper doesn't think it needs a website... so we can't visit it vicariously through the web... sorry.  I'd like to see them be able to monetize an online existence.  I'd be there everyday.




Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making AOL Uncluttered

Pondering Dropping AOL E-mail?
If you've ever pondered the idea of dropping your AOL email because you're sick of the junk in the box, but not sure if you want to try another provider, there is a way to control the influx of crap to your in-box and suddenly make your AOL email semi-useful once again!

What I've Done:
I have a particular email address I've set up that is specifically designed for interaction with 5 email addresses only and it's wonderful. No junk, no spam, (Ain't that the same?) no unsolicited offers to enhance my male talents or my wallet or my career.

Just plain old fashion communication with the persons and entities I choose. Ahh. It's good, and it does have it's drawbacks, but the empty in-box sure is nice to see.

How'd I Do That?
This method is direct from the E-mail interface, but I'm sure you can find this same option under the AOL application. That's how I initially set this up, via that 'application'.

Once you're signed in on the Email Web Interface,

Near the Upper Right corner,

  • Click on Settings
  • Find Spam Controls on the left side,
  • There's an option called Spam Filters by Address.
  • I've chosen the Custom option.
    • In Custom, I've added specific email addresses to only receive email from.
    • Type in an address and click on the '+'.
Walla!

This function does work. I've had it set up under one particular address for the last year and only received 1 email all year long. The email I want. With this setting, nothing gets put in your spam folder either. All but your permissioned email addresses get bounced.

Is There A Downside?
Hell yea! It's AOL. Everything has a downside these days doesn't it? More to the point, you need to know the email addresses of people or entities that will be sending you email and you'll have to interact with your email settings folder every time. If you don't have many of either, it's a low maintenance way of controlling the noise in your in-box. I love it.

Is This A Reason To Stay With AOL?
Hell no! I've converted to Gmail's unique system of E-mail organization and I love it. Everyone that's taken a gander at it that I've sent there has also touted it as a godsend. If you have a lot of email from various sources, GMAIL is the best way to tackle and track it all.

At first, I didn't like it because it was "different" and people in general don't like different. But in this case, different is not only good, it's dang efficient in how it handles email strings, sorting, labeling (As opposed to folders) and retention methods. Not to mention Google's Gmail gives you a ridiculous amount of disk space to use for your email.

Right now I've used 103 Mb of my 7,047 available MB's. You do the math.
http://mail.google.com

Remember, I've set up several AOL accounts for my junk or specific purposes. And maybe they haven't noticed, but anything of any importance gets forwarded to my Gmail account. Ha!

Not to mention right now, I get error messages EVERY TIME I log into AOL. Sigh. It's almost like they want us to go away.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bowflex Recall

Wow, haven't seen a recall on such a widely advertised item before, but for you Bowflex fans, here it is:

The
Bowflex® Ultimate 2 Home Gyms are being recalled because the horizontal seat rail is designed to be latched in a vertical position for storage. If the seat rail is not manually latched, it can fall unexpectedly on the user or a bystander, posing a risk of serious injury.  18 injuries have been reported so far.

This affects ~ 78,000 units... a few more than their 68,000 home gym recall that took place in December of 2007!

The injuries are not minor, as some have required stitches or staples.  Ouch.

What's the saying?  If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger. 

For additional info, you can contact Nautilus at (800) 259-9019 or visit www.bowflex.com

Source:  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission