Archive for the ‘annoying’ Category

Burned by Fido Voicemail Automatic Delete

Monday, May 28th, 2012

I recently went overseas for a couple weeks vacation. To avoid the $2/min (?!) roaming fees, and to stay in psychological vacation mode,  I avoided replying to  voice-mails (and almost all emails). Besides, with the time difference, it would have been very difficult to return calls during North American business hours.

I did periodically check for messages if I found a WiFi on which the 3CXPhone VOIP app on my iPhone was able to successfully make outgoing SIP calls (a lot of public WiFi connections are limited to basic web browsing or throttle a user to too low a speed).

Now, finally getting to today’s topic. I’ve been burned by automatic voice message deletes by Fido. There was at least one voice mail to which I intended to respond when I returned to Vancouver. However, that message has been lost.

Here are the storage rules for the current Fido webpage for “Enhanced” voicemail:

New messages: 10 days from the day you received the message. (After this period, it will be automatically deleted).
Saved messages: 10 days from the day you first saved the message. (After this period, it can’t be saved again).

So… if you leave town for a working week (5 days) plus the two surrounding weekends (2+2 days), you can barely avoid losing a voicemail to the auto-delete if you check as soon as you get home. Isn’t this rather inadequate on Fido’s part? How much storage space do a few voicemails really consume in a world where storage prices have dropped 40% year over year for, well, years?

I hate to say bad things about Fido since I’m on a very good contract with them for my voice and data, and I’m generally satisfied.

There was a time when I considered 3rd party voicemail to save a few dollars per month, but before I could pull the trigger on that, Fido removed free call forwarding from their contract accounts!

The moral of this post? If you use Fido cellphone service, check your voicemail when you travel,  and write down the relevant call-return information!

P.S. If you left me a voicemail while I was out of town, and I haven’t responded, the above is the reason why. Fido simply deleted your voicemail to me.

Block ‘Download Now’ Advertisers in AdSense?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

We’ve been fighting (not literally) to keep various “Download Now” ads off of print-bingo.com because they confuse many end users. I would gladly block them all as a category in AdSense, if I could figure out which subcategory to block without losing too many “good” ads. But, until we have a good way to do that, we are blocking unwanted advertisers by their domain name.

I’ve searched the web briefly for a list of web sites to block… without luck. So, I’m posting our own list of misleading AdSense advertisers in this post.

This is strictly a list of misleading advertisers that have a big “Download” or “Download Now” button and a small amount of semi-relevant text. Many of these are offering 7-zip, PDFCreator, and other open source packages, presumably bundled with some sort of advertising.

If you find this list useful, please post your additions to the list in the comments, or at least post a comment.  If we know that there is interest in this list, it’s more likely that we’ll update it!

I believe that the owners of these websites continually register new domains, so this list will probably need constant updates.

  • wiseconvert.com
  • coolpdfcreator.com
  • facemoods.com
  • downlopedia.com
  • ultimatepdfconverter.com
  • wisedownloads.com
  • go-downloads.com
  • pchealthdoc.com
  • soft.foxtab.com
  • alwaysdownloads.com
  • vgamenetwork.com
  • adlsoft.net

We haven’t done it yet, but I suggest adding a border around your AdSense ad units in the future. I can’t see this problem going away, we’ve already purged these ads once.

Ironically, it was fashionable to color-match borders from AdSense so that the ads blend in just a few years ago!

Once again, please comment if you find this useful… and post your additions.

Update 2014-01-15: After trying to maintain a list, I gave up. These ads keep showing up for new domains and new AdWords accounts. My current practice is to log in once a week and block the entire AdWords accounts via the Review Center. I’ve probably blocked a couple hundred over the last 2 years.

iPhone Camera Stopped Working… so it’s not a perfect phone afterall.

Monday, January 30th, 2012

It took 6 months, but I have finally had what I would consider a non-minor problem with my iPhone 4. The camera stopped saving photos. It would focus, snap the photo, but crash before it actually saved.

Ugh.

It’s surprising how often I use the camera on the phone.

I found this blog post about deleting the thumbnail cache on an iPhone, and it seems to have worked. Also, it links to a neat program to browse the files on your phone. It took a couple restarts of the phone to rebuild the thumbnails, and then the Albums in the Photos app. Perhaps it would have only taken one restart if I had been more patient on the first boot.

I guess it’s time I back up those photos again.

Stolen FedEx Package?!

Friday, October 28th, 2011

After a long hiatus due to an extremely busy period, it’s time to catch up on some blog posts.

A couple months ago I helped someone return their Gateway netbook to Acer for repairs. Acer repaired the machine and sent it back by FedEx Ground Service.

At the delivery, someone dutifully signed for the package.  There’s only one catch, whoever signed for it, walked off with the machine. Yes, the netbook was stolen. It could have been a neighbour, or one of the contractors at the house next door, or one of the city workers who happened to be working on the street that day. Whoever it was, the FedEx driver let some random person who happened to be near the property sign for the package.

The rest of this story took over a month to play out slot games for android.

Initially, Acer was not very helpful, they told us to deal with FedEx for a claim.  FedEx “ran a trace” to try and find the package.  Eventually, a FedEx loss claim was filed; however, it required Acer to relinquish their rights making their own claim. The whole situation was a mess, and it took several calls to Acer support to keep things moving along. Further, I suspect that FedEx would only pay out the minimum $100 coverage that is included with each delivery.  Acer self-insures (i.e. doesn’t buy insurance) on their shipments (this actually make sense given their shipping volume).

In the end, Acer finally took responsibility and dealt with the FedEx claim and shipped a replacement machine (with arguably better specs).

This isn’t an exclusively FedEx problem.  By coincidence, a couple weeks later, a  UPS delivery person let me sign for a package after I got out of my car and started walking towards the house. And no, the UPS delivery person couldn’t have recognized me, I’m rarely the one to receive deliveries.

I’m surprised that stolen packages don’t happen more often – or maybe they do.

The moral of the story? Avoid shipping items to a residential address. Couriers hate residences – they’re widely spaced out (relative to business districts), and often, no one is home.

Free way to trim a WMV File

Friday, August 12th, 2011

The other day I wanted a 5 minute segment from a WMV, Windows Media Video, file. To be more precise, the codecs used are WMA2 for audio and WMV3 for video, according to VLC.

My normal tools of choice for taking clips from video are VirtualDub, and Avidemux. Unfortunately, both of these tools failed on the WMV file. Both could preview the input file, but neither was able to create a new video file that worked. I tried both the fast “copy” method, and the full re-compress method. This didn’t surprise me too much, neither application is known to work very well with Microsoft WMV files, and I think I’ve run into this issue in the past. Both work great for AVI, MP4, and various other files that I’ve worked with over the years.

I really wanted this video clip, so I did some searching for some new tools to use.  I found AsfBin, which is free for non-commercial use. It worked like a charm.  The preview window seems a bit quirky for me, but the resulting file works fine, so I’m happy.