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News tagged: Oddities


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by Karl Bode 04:43PM Friday Aug 01 2014
Comcast was forced to cancel a promotional event at a Senator's home after the Kansas City Star pointed out the dubious ethics of a Senator directly helping sell Comcast services. According to the Kansas City Star, Comcast had planned to host an event at the home of Kansas Senator Julia Lynn to demonstrate Comcast's home security and home automation services. "We can control everything … remotely from our iPhone or iPad, even on the Senate floor!” Lynn gushed in the original press release.

Lynn previously helped push through a bill on behalf of Comcast that would limit Comcast's community broadband competitors in the state of Kansas. When pressed on whether not a Senator should be helping to advertise a cable company's services, Lynn simply stated that she thought it would be a nice way for her to help understand how security services work:
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Lynn said she thought the Comcast demonstration would give her a better understanding of how security technology works. "If there is a venue to do that as a state senator, what’s the problem with that?” she said.
Of course most of the politicians and telecom employees that let giant telecom companies literally write state law don't see a problem with that, either.

40 comments


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by Karl Bode 11:02AM Tuesday Jul 15 2014
Ryan Block and his wife Veronica Belmont simply wanted to cancel their Comcast service, but as the now-viral recording below illustrates, Comcast simply wouldn't allow it. According to Block, this call actually begins some ten minutes into the process of trying to get Comcast to cancel service.
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by Karl Bode 04:25PM Thursday Jul 03 2014
Not to be outdone by the family that sent money to Comcast for seven years for an alarm system that never worked, an 88-year-old woman in Florida has paid Comcast for TV service for thirteen-plus years -- without ever receiving a working signal. A local Florida news outlet (via the Consumerist) notes the woman's development switched from Comcast to Charter service (apparently included in her rent) back in October of 2000, but Comcast kept billing her $29 a month for the next thirteen and a half years. When approached about the error by her grandson Comcast initially said they'd only provide a six month refund ($174). Once the issue received news attention Comcast stated they'd offer a full refund.

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by Karl Bode 04:18PM Thursday May 29 2014
Comcast's latest Xfinity ad is raising some eyebrows among Reddit users. In it, a Comcast spokesman has random gamers try Comcast's broadband service, while claiming it provides the "speed real gamers need" while delivering lower latency and no buffering (we'll just ignore those Netflix issues). The problem? The game Comcast has supposed gamers trying in the ad (Trials Fusion) can't actually be played over the Internet.

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by Karl Bode 05:35PM Friday May 09 2014
"Since the FCC seems to have no problem with this idea, I've (through correspondence) gotten access to the FCC's internal IP block, and throttled all connections from the FCC to 28.8kbps modem speeds on the Neocities.org front site, and I'm not removing it until the FCC pays us for the bandwidth they've been wasting instead of doing their jobs protecting us from the 'keep America's internet slow and expensive forever' lobby," NeoCities creator Kyle Drake stated on the Neocities blog (via Ars). It's unlikely to bother the FCC, but the protest over the agency's latest neutrality failures is at least amusing. The full post is well worth a read.

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by Karl Bode 09:06AM Friday May 09 2014
Wireless hardware manufacturer MediaBridge recently thought it would be a good idea to legally threaten an Amazon and Reddit user for a negative review of one of their Medialink products (specifically this one). The result wasn't particularly surprising, with Redditors then flooding the company's products on Amazon (and some other, unrelated competing products) with one-star reviews.

While the original Reddit post and MediaBridge letter has since been deleted, MediaBridge told the user he was engaged in an "illegal campaign to damage, discredit, defame and libel Mediabridge and/or to engage in other tortious, wrongful, and/or illegal conduct directed against Mediabridge."

In addition to criticizing the quality and cost of the router, the user claimed MediaBridge was covertly selling another company's router under a new brand for significantly more money (which seems to be true), and faking Amazon reviews (something others have wondered about but doesn't appear confirmed).

In a statement, Mediabridge doesn't seem particularly apologetic for the fracas:
quote:
"It’s our sincere belief that reasonable people understand that not only is it within our rights to take steps to protect our integrity, but that it should be expected that we would do so when it is recklessly attacked. The reviewer has since changed his review completely to remove the libelous statements, but unfortunately not before having an army attack us on the internet."
In the end which would have been the more productive path from a brand perspective: offering the best products you can and treating consumers well while being honest? Or acting generally like a bully and threatening users simply for talking on the Internet?

61 comments


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by Karl Bode 05:54PM Friday Mar 28 2014
An Indianapolis grandmother is telling local news outlets that someone has hacked into her AT&T U-Verse cable box, and has been sending lewd and suggestive comments to house residents. According to Indianapolis Fox affiliate Fox 59, police have visited the home and confirmed that someone has managed to gain access to the cable box and used it to type harassing messages to the residents (the full video has plenty of entertainment value). "I want this man out of my life," says the grandmother. "I want him to go to jail." AT&T says they're investigating the complaints.

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by Karl Bode 06:04PM Wednesday Mar 05 2014
For years now, the UK government has given lectures on Internet morality whenever and however possible, forcing ISPs there to implement pornography filters that force broadband users to opt out, frequently filter entirely legitimate websites, and can usually be bypassed by anyone with a modicum of technical know how. With that going so well, conversations are now currently underway in the to extend the porn filters to include government-determined "extremist content."

Given this righteous attempt to legislate morality, it's a bit ironic then that a scandal has broken out in the UK after Patrick Rock, a top aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and a chief architect of the country's porn filters, was arrested for possession of child pornography.
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by Karl Bode 07:27PM Tuesday Feb 18 2014
T-Mobile last week sent out an email promotion to Blackberry users urging them to upgrade to Apple's iPhone 5S on T-Mobile for no money down. It's really fairly tame fare for T-Mobile, whose CEO John Legere has been taking to Twitter the last few months to almost mercilessly mock competitors (with a special eye on AT&T) while engaging in some overdue industry price disruption.
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by Karl Bode 08:26AM Thursday Jan 16 2014
Two researchers recently discovered a way to send a text message communications using freshly-evaporated vodka. According to Ars Technica, the scientists used specific concentration levels of the vodka to represent bits 1 and 0, and then transmitted the lyrics of "O Canada" between two points twelve feet apart. A receiving unit was able to read out the message as it detected the concentration of vodka in the air rising or falling over time. While not likely to change your home communications anytime soon, researchers believe the "molecular communication system" could be used as a niche tool in nanotechnology, or in cramped spaces (allowing sewer robots to communicate).

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by Karl Bode 02:41PM Wednesday Jan 15 2014
While there's no shortage of studies examining consumer satisfaction, research firm Marchex has added a new wrinkle in analyzing which companies wind up with the most users swearing at them over the phone. According to the firm's latest study, satellite companies take top honors in being the most curse-inducing, with one out of every 82 calls resulting in users cursing at the company.
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by Karl Bode 02:19PM Monday Dec 09 2013
The cable industry has historically tried to argue that cord cutters either don't exist or are so lame they aren't relevant. That same industry, as it faces a very real trend of growing user defections, has now launched a strange new media campaign intended to change the mind of intended cord cutters.
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by Karl Bode 09:12AM Thursday Nov 14 2013
Speaking before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy yesterday, Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, insisted the NSA has absolutely no idea how often it collects data on American Citizens. What's more, Litt proclaimed it would violate citizen privacy to try and do so.
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by Karl Bode 08:12AM Tuesday Oct 01 2013
Yesterday we noted that a glitch in Verizon's website was allowing Verizon Wireless customers the ability to upgrade their handset without losing grandfathered unlimited data. Verizon has traditionally waged a quiet war on grandfathered unlimited users, restricting many plans, upgrades and other features unless they choose to go to metered plans.
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by Karl Bode 10:28AM Monday Sep 30 2013
Back in 2009, you'll recall that former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio headed to prison to serve a six-year prison sentence for cooking the books and insider trading. You might also recall that Nacchio claimed he was being punished in part because Qwest (now CenturyLink) was the only US telco to refuse to participate in the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
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by Karl Bode 08:54AM Monday Sep 30 2013
Updated: This glitch has already been fixed by Verizon. User spike010101 See Profile writes in: "Verizon's website is currently allowing customers to select their unlimited plan when going through a device upgrade. I myself have taken it all the way to the checkout area where you enter your credit card details and submit the order, and have a friend who has completely gone through with an order."

The news is curious in that Verizon has been waging war on grandfathered unlimited users for several years now, using every tactic possible (most specifically device upgrades) to try and push those users on to metered plans. There's some additional discussion about this over at Howard Forums and at Droid Life.
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by Karl Bode 10:17AM Thursday Sep 26 2013
The MPAA, RIAA, AT&T and Verizon have joined forces to "educate" California school children on the details of copyright, ignoring things like "fair use" -- lest it confuse the toddlers. Wired has a report on the curriculum the coalition is pushing on California schools for grade one, grade two, grade five and grade six (pdfs), all of which is about as nuanced as you might imagine.
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by Karl Bode 02:35PM Tuesday Sep 17 2013
Last month a widespread malware attack on the Tor network used a Firefox exploit to send the personal data of Tor users to an IP address in Reston, Virginia. While it was already believed that this IP address belonged to an FBI subcontractor working on the FBI's "computer and internet protocol address verifier" (CIPAV) spyware iniatiative, a new Wired report confirms that the FBI in court has acknowledged they controlled the servers behind that attack on the Tor network.
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by Karl Bode 08:55AM Wednesday Aug 21 2013
Things haven't gone particularly well for porn copyright troll Prenda ever since the organization pissed off a Judge who had started noticing the outfit was engaged in all manner of sleazy behavior operating under the umbrella of a vast maze of shell companies and organizations.

Said sleazy behavior allegedly includes everything ranging from extortion to identity theft, and last week TorrentFreak revealed that Prenda had taken things one step further: they created a honeyput offering the very files they claim to protect in order to lure people into downloading them, then demanded cash from those users.
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by Karl Bode 02:07PM Monday Jul 15 2013
There are plenty of things that can cause interference with wireless networks (faulty ATM, lights or signal boosters), and you can now add beer fridges to that list. Using "software robots" to scan network performance logs, The Herald Sun says that engineers for Australian telco Telstra identified a strange signal that was disrupting cell service "several neighborhoods." After driving around using "Mr Yagi" antennas to seek out the origin of the signal, the engineers wound up at the source: the motor of a beer fridge in one man's beer refrigerator. "We just look at them all and go after the ones that are worst and approach it that way," says Telstra. "There's no particular focus now on beer fridges."

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