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06 January 2009 @ 07:33 pm
Just trying to see where this Flock blog post will end up.
Blogged with the Flock Browser
24 April 2007 @ 12:00 am
I recently got a notificatin that I might be a member of a class action suit, Chuck Browning v. Yahoo! Inc., ConsumerInfo.com, Inc., and Experian North America, Inc. Reading the details of the case provided pretty much no useful information regarding what they're being sued for:
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit claiming that Defendants violated afederal statute known as the Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA”),and making claims for unjust enrichment, constructive trust, andconspiracy. Defendants deny that they did anything wrong. The partieshave agreed to this settlement to resolve this lawsuit without a trialand without Defendants’ admitting liability.

As for the settlement being offered:

...choice of either (i) a credit score or (ii) 60 days of credit monitoring. Ifyou choose credit monitoring, and you don't cancel your creditmonitoring benefit after using your code to obtain the creditmonitoring benefit but prior to the expiration of the sixty (60) daysettlement benefit period, you will be billed at the then-applicablerate, which is currently $9.95, for each month that you continue yourmembership. In addition, ConsumerInfo and the Experian Entities have agreed not to make certain statements on particular websites.

This is equally useless, in two ways:

  1. This "free for 60 days, but we'll charge you forever because we know you're lazy" ploy the same thing these companies pay tens of thousands for telemarketing companies to achieve? Doesn't this "settlement" play right into these companies hands? It almost seems like the entire class action suit is just one big marketing ploy on the part of the very defendents themselves!
  2. IT seems to me that the "certain statements on particular websites" is the crux of the whole case. So, I guess the consumer wins after all. But what statements? On what websites? What is this case about, anyway?

To be fair, the free credit report is somewhat useful, though all American citizensare entitled to one free report from each of the three big agenciesonce every 12 months.

To top it off, you have limited optionsin how to respond to the notification of the suit:

  1. Enroll for a benefit (in which case, you waive the right to ever sue any of these companies ever again for any thing).
  2. Do nothing (which automatically includes you in the class, but removes your elegibility for a benefit OR from ever suing any of the defendent companies ever again for any reason).
  3. Object... which means you write a letter stating why you think the settlement is crap, at which point your views will be "taken into consideration" (read, "ignored").
  4. Go to a hearing (read above)
  5. Exclude yourself (this is the only option will allows you to ever sue any of these companies for any reason in the future).

I did a little digging around to see exactly what this crap was all about, and I finally found this:

Kimberly Taylore of Tucson charges in the suit that in early 2003,she visited www.ConsumerInfo.com to obtain a "free" credit report forherself and her husband. She entered her debit card number asinstructed but saw no notification that she would be charged for thereport.

On June 25, 2003, Taylore said she found two charges of $79.95 eachon her debit card statement, each labeled "CIC Credit Monitor Svc." Shecanceled her debit card and dispute the two $79.95 fees. She received acredit for one of the fees but not for the other.

Basically, the entire suit is about the kind of business practices that are actually being employed as part of the settlement action itself! I presume the offense is that they said it was free, but didn't really inform the user that their "free" stuff was really just part of a trial membership from which they must actively unenroll themselves by some later date to avoid being charged for a service.

I've always thought these deals were completely bogus, and it's so easy to see right through these comapnies' crap. I'm amazed that Kimberly Laylore a) fell for it, and b) was so upset that the whole thing ended up in a class action suit.

In the meantime, I'm faced with the question: do I opt for an extra free credit report this year, object that the terms of the settlement plays right into the companies' own marketing ploys, or excluide myself from the case,, on the off chance that some time in the future, I might embark on a litigious journey against one of these companies.. you know, just for the fun of it.

11 April 2007 @ 08:46 pm

This is my first attempt at using Flock for an "integrated" blogging experience. We'll see how this goes.

Here's an image insert:

30 September 2006 @ 04:40 am
So bummed... I just dropped my HP-branded 4th Generation 40GB iPod.  I've dropped it before and was always worried that I might have cracked the screen. Well, this time, I did.

I did some searching around for prices to have the repair work done, prices to buy a new LCD screen so I could repair it myself, as well as how much it would cost to ebay a new one.  As a lark, I decided to see how much it would cost to have the OEM company (HP) do it for me.  I was prepared for steep prices, but... well, this was just plain silly.

Keep in mind that a brand new 80 GB Video iPod costs $350.

Cost to replace the screen?  $320!


I don't know what the hell they smoke over there in India (where my phone call had been routed), but DAMN.

For $30 more, I could buy a brand new one that has twice the capacity, has a colour screen which is 40% larger, and which plays videos!

Or, for that matter, I can replace the model I have for $120.  I can just buy two new ones just like the one I dropped and still pay less than HP wants to replace the screen.  Other companies charge about $80 for the service (including return shipping). I can buy the part myself for $35, which means that the actual LCD screen only costs HP about $20.  So, in effect, they're charging $300 for labour.  To replace an LCD screen.  I found a tutorial that can walk anyone with a box cutter and two functioning hands through the replacement procedure.  If I'm paying someone $300 for labour only, they better be rebuilding my fucking transmission or overhauling my air conditioner's condenser unit.  That's just insane.

Again, I expected the price to be steep, but wtf?

I'm just beside myself.  I have other recourse, so the ludicrousness of it all doesn't actually affect me.  But that doesn't keep my mind from reeling at the fact that some large companies obviously exist on some other plane of reality I have no desire to visit.
Current Location: Kitchen table, again
Current Mood: shockedshocked
Current Music: Ineffable silence
11 September 2006 @ 04:03 am
Like that worked...  Well, the dishes are done.  But why am I still awake?  Moron.
Current Location: Kitchen table... but, why?
10 September 2006 @ 10:11 pm
I'm going to bed early tonight.  I promise.  Nothing like the hideous workweek I've just had to destroy my sleep habits: too many work "days" that didn't end until after 3am.  Even Friday... didn't leave work until 6am Saturday.  Both weekend days, couldn't get my arse out of bed until after 1pm.  Might have made something out of today if I hadn't made the dumb move of putting The Godfather Part II in the DVD player last night at 1:30am.  What the hell's wrong with me?

I still haven't vacuumed in the last two weeks; I still haven't done anything with the bills...  I did manage (in two trips to Home Depot) to pick up a door knob/deadbolt security set and a light switch for the kithcen.  I even managed to install them!  Look at me: Mr Handyman.  Whatever.  Still feels like a waste of a weekend: a doorknob and light switch to show for it.  Oh, and a mighty-fine test results report for the work-folks. 

It's like I work so hard during the weekend, I just can't seem to build up the steam to do anything worthwhile once I get home. I've found myself purposefully stying until 10pm just becuase I feel like I can actually get stuff done there: going through php tutorials, and the like.  I get home, and it's like a wasteland of mental vegetation.  Just sit me in front of the TV with a mug of milk and two Entenman's choclate frosted donuts.  And I don't even have cable!

Whatever, I'm going to have a beer, put on a mellow play list ("Dim Room" seems appropriate), do some dishes, and see when that lands me in bed.

Current Location: Kitchen Table
Current Mood: listlesslistless
Current Music: Ben Neill, "Iceman"
04 September 2006 @ 12:34 pm
So, Brian and i were IMing each other, and he sends me this link:
And these screen shots are killer.  I mean, AMAZING 3D worlds.  We're talking about the game, the predecessors to this game, Sid Meyer's influence on this type of game in the industry (he pretty much invented the Real Time Strategy game as we know it), and I decide to check out a bit more about it.  It's put together by a company named Ensemble Studios.  I check them out, and guess what?  They're based here in Dallas:
I take a look at job postings for Juli, my wife, who is just about to complete her degree in computer-based animation:


I'm thinking primarily of the "World Designer" position.  I mean, who didn't want to be that when they grew up?  "What do you do?  " I Design Worlds".  I wonder if folks who hold that title have signs in their cubicle that read, "Slartibartfast stole my design for Norway".  On your resume, you could say that you used to work for Magrathea, but designing all the crinkly bits and fjords got tiresome, and you had to move on.
Speaking of Magrathea, here's a cool bit I found online:

I quite like their product's logo.  They've put together a real-time solar system exploration engine.  Cool thing (I guess) is that you can make your own solar systems to explore in real time, hence the name.  Anyone who doesn't get the in-joke in the name, well... that's your loss.  Get out more.  Or read better books, at any rate.
Current Location: Kitchen table
Current Mood: dorkydorky
Current Music: odd silence
02 September 2006 @ 06:43 pm
Ridiculous Drill
OK... my roommate, Luke (Well, he's actually a boarder, I guess--I own the house, he rents a room, but he's also a really decent friend to boot), just bought a new drill.  I already had one, but he feels weird using my tools.  Which is odd, since I watch his 65" hi-def screen every night.  Anyways, he wanted a new drill and heard from the reps at Lowe's that Hitachi is putting in a bid for the high-end tools arena.

And I can believe that. But look at this thing.  It's the other side of ridiculous.  This is the drill you  buy to take with you when you go snow-boarding.  Who in their right mind looks at a craftsman's tool and expects neon green tribal markings all along its handle?  The travel box looks like you should cary an Xbox inside it.  I'm all for innovative design.  Alienware has some of the coolest looking personal computers out there.  But c'mon.  This is a tool--one of the few areas where form really should follow function.  I agree that the green rubber tribal markings don't detract from it's function, but c'mon... am I the only one who things this design is not only over the top, but just plane lame?

Design monkeys!!!  I can't believe I have a such a specimin of low-brow, pandering design-monkeyishness in my very own garage.

Please comment.
Current Location: Kitchen Table
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Zeni Me Mamo, Newark Balkan Choir
02 September 2006 @ 01:14 am
So, here I am.

I actually found my way here looking for an old acquaintance who disappeared from a forum I host. "Madouc" was a frequent poster, and then disappeared in early January. She'd had a bad fire at her place some months before, and was recovering from that and then... gone. Never heard from again.  A mutual acquantance from the forum even spent several months in her city, and he could never get ahold of her.  This was a cross-continental journey we're talking about here, so to not reciprocate communication when visiting... well, it was strange.

I was doing some recent modifications to the under-the hood aspects of the forum (The site itself is still in desperate need of updating, and hence why I don't advertise the URL here--it's embarrassing), and I started wondering, as I do every couple of months.. what the hell happened to her? She was such a lively part of our community, and then to suddenly disappear without a trace? I started to fear the worse.

I culled through her posts to see if I could find any clues. They led me here, and I can see that she still lives and still posts regularly.

So, Madouc (or melancthe, as you seem to be known in these parts), I friended you. Do me a favour and friend me back; I'd like to stay in touch with you... find out why you left. Did someone say something nasty, offensive? I have ah ard time imagining you ever being offended, so... no real leads.

Get in touch.

As for anyone else reading this... I'm not entirely sure what to do with this. Most of the real journaling I do, I don't necessarily feel quite like I should share it with the world. Deep inner turmoils that would present me as a big sap, or even worse... emo. So not me. I like to think of myself as witty, engaging, but not emotional or boring.

I've read a bunch of other blogs, and they're interesting in a kind of voyeuristic way, and some folks out there truly have some really interesting things to say... clever, riotous, poignant. I'm not sure if I'm any of those things, but I guess productive journaling and communication with others takes practice. And I guess it takes a sense of having an audience to make this kind of communication meaningful, and I certainly don't feel like I have any sense of an audience right now.

I tried the Myspace thing. I just couldn't get into it. So many things you could do to customise the site, but for me, it was just... who cares? Apaprently no one, because after having the account open for several months, I still don't have any friends. Of course, I never posted anything or modified the site, so why should have any friends? Just a very surreal thing to see: "Tom, you have 0 friends." Something like that could make you cry.
Current Location: Kitchen Table
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: Collection of James Horner piano cues