Archive for February 2008

Dish Network Spam

February 24, 2008

Over the last ten years we have used all the various cable and satellite services available. They all have one thing in common. They are overpriced and offer poor programming content. If you like movies, newly released movies, don’t waste your time and money on cable, use netflix. You will be amazed at how far five bucks a month will go.

Before cable we had about six channels and nothing worth watching. Now we have hundreds of channels and still nothing worth watching and we are paying for the abuse.

We recently dumped the cable and satellite services in favor of a new fiber optic service but the programming did not improve. The only consolation is that we are paying about half of what it cost us before and we get broadband internet access to boot.

After we closed our Dish Network account we got several calls from them wanting to know why we closed the account. Is there a diplomatic way of telling someone their service or product is substandard and their prices are too high, or both? And how come they did not already know that?

We use webmail for our email accounts. Webmail allows us to access our email from anywhere in the world using any computer that has internet access. We are no longer tied to the one computer that had our email account and messages and contact list. We are no longer tied to one flakey ISP who takes our email address with him as he goes belly up. Webmail also has an effective means of dealing with spam.

We usually nuke the spam folder on a regular basis but not always without taking a look at the trash it has collected. Who knows, some important message could have been automatically mistaken as spam.

Imagine our surprise when we noted several spam messages had come from Dish Network!

We make it a rule not to do business with telephone solicitors or spamers. These are the lowest of the low when it comes to vendors. We are firm believers in ‘trust but verify’ If you can’t verify someone, they can’t be trusted. Spammers and telemarketers cannot be verified or trusted. They have absolutely no regard for the privacy of prospective customers and usually have the poorest of services and products. We never thought that Dish Network would stoop so low as to join the spammers.

New Opera Browser

February 24, 2008

I read a flowery endorsement of the ‘New Opera Browser’ about a month ago. It was supposed to be the fastest browser around and the Opera programmers had learned their lesson regarding the low regard users have for adware and spyware. This new version of Opera was touted to be the best thing available. Adware and spyware free. So I tried it.

I use several desk top computers and one laptop. The laptop is an ibook so it was not effected by this browser fiasco. My desktops run XP, win98, and various versions of Linux. Only the XP and win98 desktops were effected. Primarily the win98 machines.

After I began using Opera on the win98 machines, these computers had trouble shutting down. There always seemed to be an undisclosed program running in the background that prevented a clean exit. I eventually discovered that I could restore these win98 systems to function normally by removing the Opera browser from the system. Evidently the Opera browser was initiating more than just a browser on startup.

The Opera people have had a long history of pushing adware and spyware onto the unsuspecting. I suspect that characteristic is in their genes and still as virulent as ever.

In retrospect one has to wonder what is in 4megs of software that a clean fast browser would need. That is 4 megs compressed.

Its back to Firefox for me. It might not be as fast or fancy or have a share of flowery endorsements but it does not hang up my win98 machines when I decide to shut them down.

Automatic Software Updates

February 22, 2008

Microsoft (and other software vendors) have been able to redeem themselves (somewhat) by offering free and automatic updates to their buggy software products. Errors and omissions can be corrected without having to go to the local computer emporium and buy additional software packages to correct the sins and omissions of programmers gone wild.

While this seemed to be a magnaminous gesture by vendors initially, it is becoming a royal pain in the ass to have a software vendor take control of your computer first thing after you turn it on in the morning. I could understand such activity if I were running a beta version of the software for evaluation, but the operating system is a full blown, officially released version of highly touted software that commanded a premium price when I bought it. At time of purchase there were no warnings about the vendor becoming a near dependent requiring the use of my computer. Had I know that in advance, I would have opted for something less demanding and more reliable.

Regular and frequent updates to officially released software products say volumes about the competence of the vendor. Sometimes I suspect that the convenience of the update mechanism encourages even less future competence since it is so easy to correct mistakes and omissions. Then there are the updates with suspicious titles like ‘Malicious software removal tool’. What Malicious software? Your buggy operating system is not exactly user friendly either! How ‘malicious’ does the software have to be before it qualifies for removal?

I also own an Apple laptop. Been a proud owner of the Apple for several years. Runs OS X. Apple updates their operating systems too. The last update occured over six months ago. Nothing since then. I guess they are not as concientious as Microsoft. Microsoft seems to offer updates on a daily basis.

LEADERSHIP

February 2, 2008

Seems that no political ad is complete without the candidate staking claim to leadership qualities that are the envy of all. This is particularly true if the candidate has had any military experience. Sometimes any experience at all with the military is enough to set off claims of extreme heroism and leadership.

We voters need to understand that while leadership and the military go hand in hand, military leadership is a special brand of leadership. Leadership in the military is largely created through conscripted followship. Even in a military populated with volunteers, there is threat of punishment for those unwilling to follow orders. This is necessary but it does not give rise to the kind of leadership that is useful in anything but a dictatorship.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear an ex-military candidate for political office make claims of his superior leadership skills.