cnet – Verizon Wireless: Yep, that’ll be $2 to pay your bill online

There’s news out that Verizon Wireless wants to charge me $2 every time I pay my bill online using the single pay option. That means, when I get my bill, I’ll be charged a “convienence fee” of $2 for going online and paying on their website. However’ if I pay by check, through the mail, or sign up of auto bill pay, I won’t get charged.

Whaaat???? What kind of nonsense is this?  So you’re saying that it would be cheaper for me to send in my money, as a check, through the mail?

This ranks right up there with Netflix’s price increases…and the nickle & diming airlines…But it makes little sense since they’re giving other options to pay.

Update (12/30/11):  Now according to CNN, Verizon is scraping the $2 due to “customer feedback”. What kind of feedback did they expect from customers?!?

Update (01/16/12):  Got my Verizon Wireless bill. It’s up $1.75 anyways due to “administrative charges”, Fed surcharges, and taxes. What a crock.

Read more on cnet — Verizon Wireless: Yep, that’ll be $2 to pay your bill online | Signal Strength – CNET News.

Spyware On Every Android (And Possibly Blackberry) Phone Out There

Per Gizmodo – Spyware on every Android (and possibly Blackberry and Nokia) phone out there…

If you have any decently modern Android phone, everything you do is being recorded by hidden software lurking inside…

Carrier IQ’s software is installed in your phone at the deepest level. You don’t know it’s there. You are never warned this is happening. You can’t opt-in and you certainly can’t opt-out.

The commercial spyware sits between the user and the applications in the phone so, no matter how secure and private your apps are, the spyware intercepts anything you do. From your location to your web browsing addresses and passwords to the content of your text messages.

This even happens using a private Wi-Fi connection instead of the carrier 3G or 4G connection.

Read more on Gizmodo –> Your Android Phone Is Secretly Recording Everything You Do.

Netflix Changing DVD Service Name To “Qwikster”?

Update: Netflix does a rewind! Abandons the Qwikster plan…

Got an email from, Netflix. They’re changing their DVD service name to “Qwikster”? Really? But the same lousy pricing?

Here’s the email:

Dear xxxx,

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

Dilbert – Stay Out Of The Data Center!

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Posted in laugh, tech. Tags: , . No Comments »

Dilbert – Firewall Issues

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Install Sun Java Plugin For Firefox in Ubuntu

I loaded Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Remix onto my Dell Inspiron. And though it comes with OpenJDK 6, I wanted to load Sun Java 6 Plugin. You can see what versions of java are on your system by typing the java -version command in a Terminal window.

Here are the simple steps I followed [writtern for Ubuntu 10.10]:

Download and Install Sun Java

  • Open Ubuntu Software Center
  • From the menu bar, select Edit > Software Sources, then click on the “Other  Software” tab
  • Enable the Partner repository

  • Click “Close, at which point it should reload
  • Search for sun-java6-plugin and Install

That’s it!

Now, if you go check out the Plugins tab in the Firefox Add-Ons list, you should see Java listed:

And, if you visit this Sun Microsystems Java page, you can run a quick test to see if your Java is working. If it is, you should see a result like this:

ID Theft – And So It Begins…

I’ve written about ID theft before. Never thought I’d experience it, first hand. But I guess it’s bound to happen to everyone, the way they’re hacking nowadays. Found out yesterday, some wonderful slime ball walked into an Apple Store last week, used my SS# and driver’s license# to open a couple of AT&T Mobile Wireless lines, in my name. He also bought a couple of iPhones but paid in cash. I found out because I received a bill from AT&T for the two lines, along with two Welcome packets, thanking me for choosing AT&T.

I’ve never been an AT&T Wireless customer, nor have I ever been in an Apple Store [until today].

Based on the info that was used, I kinda got the feeling some financial institution I deal with had their servers hacked, and info stolen.

500 Internal Server Error

Got a personal website hosted on Godaddy that all of a sudden started giving me 500 Internal Server Error:

I have the domain and hosting at Godaddy – Economy Linux hosting. I use WordPress as the front end. Not the WordPress setup they offer, but I uploaded my own WordPress files, setup a MySQL db, and configured everything manually. I use the site to host family pictures and videos. I haven’t made any changes in a month however all of a sudden I’m getting 500 Internal Server Errors.

During the course of my investigation, I found out it was due to my .htaccess file. The site worked without it, but why? It worked fine before!

Turns out it was the following line in the file:

# disable directory browsing
Options All -Indexes

I commented it out, and everything worked fine. Not sure if it’s a Godaddy issue or an Apache issue. Probably the former.

But I would think it would be prudent to disable directory browsing. However, what’s weird is that I have similar setups with Godaddy, including the Options All -Indexes, and have no issues…yet.

Switch To GNOME From Unity

I know Ubuntu folks are touting Unity as the new desktop theme, but it doesn’t work well on the netbook where real estate is limited. The Launch Pad on the left seems very inflexible. With it, using a web browser [ in this case firefox ] seems difficult. The best option for me was to switch from Unity to the classic gnome desktop.

1. Select Applications from the Launch Pad.

2. Locate and click on the Login Screen icon. Then click on Unlock so you can change the settings.

3. You will have to authenticate with your login password.

4. Select Ubuntu Desktop Edition from the dropdown, for the default session.

5. Select the option to Log in as <Username> automatically and set the login timer to 10 seconds, then hit Close and reboot.

6. After reboot, you should get back to a login window. After you select your username, the taskbar will appear at the bottom of the screen. In the taskbar, make sure the desktop version is still Ubuntu Desktop Edition. Then simply login.

The above steps were written for Ubuntu 10.10, but I suspect they should work for 11.04. However, instead of going from Ubuntu Netbook to Ubuntu Desktop, you have to go from Ubuntu to Ubuntu Classic.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix

Got myself a Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 a while back, for work. I travel from office to office and I use it to remote into my main desktop at homebase. The netbook came preloaded with Windows 7 Starter, which is fine for what I needed to do. I’m not a Linux expert. Far from it. But I recently ran the Windows Update, downloaded and installed Service Pack 1, and basically blew up my netbook. Hey, s#!t happens. Sooo, after I reloaded Windows 7, I decided to also install the Ubuntu Netbook. So I figured I write about my experiences with it here.