Posts tagged ‘commentary’

My hometown just got slashdotted

The Death of PayPal

Years ago when PayPal offered the option to notify me of policy updates I took it. The notices had been a minor annoyance since then, but nothing to actually worry about – until the last one.

The new policy is that items offered on eBay with PayPal must accept all forms of payment PayPal accepts – including credit cards, and furthermore you must in no way indicate a preference for certain payment types. In order to accept credit cards, one has to upgrade one’s PayPal account, whereupon a fee is charged on all transactions, credit card or not. The credit cards I understand – the credit card companies charge fees, so those have to be passed on. Its the parasitic infection of all transactions that bothers me.

Now, it happens that I personally already had this kind of account; I was selling an item I didn’t have great hopes of finding a home for, and didn’t want to scare away the buyer. It was partly my own fault for not specifying payment type – the main problem being that I didn’t realize that a straight-up credit card payment was possible through PayPal. But I did have the option (then) and chalked it up to a learning experience.

Being denied that option, however is the kind of corporate BS that I don’t take, so I canceled my PayPal account.

Strangely enough, a little latter I browsed an article about the downfall of PayPal, which all started when they got bought by eBay. It was certainly reassuring to know I wasn’t alone in seeing a problem.

A little while later, I saw deeper in the latest issue. eBay is double dipping. By forcing everyone to the fee-bearing accounts, they make a percentage of every sale, twice. To be fair one is for a listing service and the other is for a payment service, each of which carries it’s own costs. But the lesson of communism and it’s ilk is that super-concentration of power leads inevitably to corruption, and the heavy-handed policy changes of PayPal-eBay have just that scent of greed.

The only constant is change

I went to buy groceries today
The ambulance had come for an old women
just on her way in.
Or just on her way out.
I think it was the spirit of my grocery store.
Aged and feeble, telling the paramedics her condition,
not quite with the last breath.
But the exit door is waiting.

They’re closing down my grocery store. It won’t be until about easter, so I may get a little time of being able to walk down and pick up my fruits and vegetables yet this year. After that, it’s either the car, a long walk, or finding a passable bike route.

EULA for a DRE (Digital Recording Electronic) voting machine.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction (and really the only interesting bit is at the end.) It is, however, based on very real concerns about voting machines with no audit trails, a rather grave matter to anyone familiar with digital failability and tamperability. If you are interested in this issue, I suggest http://www.blackboxvoting.com

IMPORTANT: READ CAREFULLY: This Big Voting Machine Company End-User License Agreement (“EULA”) is a legal agreement between you (a city, state, or distributor) and Big Voting Machine Company for the Big Voting Machine Company product identified above, which includes computer software, hardware,and may include associated media, printed materials, and “online” or electronic documentation (“VOTING MACHINE”). The VOTING MACHINE also includes any updates and supplements to the original VOTING MACHINE provided to you by Big Voting Machine Company. Any software provided along with the VOTING MACHINE that is associated with a separate end-user license agreement is licensed to you under the terms of that license agreement. By installing, copying, downloading, accessing or otherwise using the VOTING MACHINE, you agree to be bound by the terms of this EULA. If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, do not install or use the VOTING MACHINE; you may, however, return it to your place of purchase for a full refund.

The VOTING MACHINE is protected by copyright laws and international copyright treaties, as well as other intellectual property laws and treaties.

1. GRANT OF LICENSE.

This EULA grants you the following rights:

  • To install and use the VOTING MACHINE for public access pursuant to any national, state, or local election.

2. DESCRIPTION OF OTHER RIGHTS AND LIMITATIONS.

  • Limitations on Reverse Engineering, Decompilation, and Disassembly.
    You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the VOTING MACHINE, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.
  • Separation of Components.
    The VOTING MACHINE is licensed as a single product. Its component parts may not be separated for any other use.
  • Rental.
    You may not rent, lease or lend the VOTING MACHINE.
  • Trademarks.
    This EULA does not grant you any rights in connection with any trademarks or service marks of Big Voting Machine Company.
  • Support Services.
    Big Voting Machine Company may provide you with support services related to the VOTING MACHINE (“Support Services”). Use of Support Services is governed by the Big Voting Machine Company polices and programs described in the user manual, in “on line” documentation and/or other Big Voting Machine Company-provided materials. Any supplemental software code provided to you as part of the Support Services shall be considered part of the VOTING MACHINE and subject to the terms and conditions of this EULA. With respect to technical information you provide to Big Voting Machine Company as part of the Support Services, Big Voting Machine Company may use such information for its business purposes, including for product support and development. Big Voting Machine Company will not utilize such technical information in a form that personally identifies you.
  • Termination.
    Without prejudice to any other rights, Big Voting Machine Company may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the VOTING MACHINE and all of its component parts.

3. COPYRIGHT.

All title and intellectual property rights in and to the VOTING MACHINE (including but not limited to any images, photographs, animations, video, audio, music, text, and “applets” incorporated into the VOTING MACHINE), the accompanying printed materials, and any copies of the VOTING MACHINE are owned by Big Voting Machine Company or its suppliers. All title and intellectual property rights in and to the content which may be accessed through use of the VOTING MACHINE is the property of the respective content owner and may be protected by applicable copyright or other intellectual property laws and treaties. This EULA grants you no rights to use such content. All rights not expressly granted are reserved by Big Voting Machine Company.

4. U.S. GOVERNMENT RESTRICTED RIGHTS.

The VOTING MACHINE and documentation are provided with RESTRICTED RIGHTS. Use, duplication, or disclosure by the Government is subject to restrictions as set forth in subparagraph (c)(1)(ii) of the Rights in Technical Data and Computer Software clause at DFARS 252.227-7013 or subparagraphs (c)(1) and (2) of the Commercial Computer Software–Restricted Rights at 48 CFR 52.227-19, as applicable. Manufacturer is Big Voting Machine Company

5. EXPORT RESTRICTIONS.

You agree that you will not export or re-export the VOTING MACHINE to any country, person, entity or end user subject to U.S. export restrictions. You specifically agree not to export or re-export the VOTING MACHINE: (i) to any country to which the U.S. has embargoed or restricted the export of goods or services, which currently include, but are not necessarily limited to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, or to any national of any such country, wherever located, who intends to transmit or transport the products back to such country; (ii) to any end-user who you know or have reason to know will utilize the VOTING MACHINE or portion thereof in the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; or (iii) to any end-user who has been prohibited from participating in U.S. export transactions by any federal agency of the U.S. government.

6. NOTE ON JAVA SUPPORT.

THE VOTING MACHINE MAY CONTAIN SUPPORT FOR PROGRAMS WRITTEN IN JAVA. JAVA TECHNOLOGY IS NOT FAULT TOLERANT AND IS NOT DESIGNED, MANUFACTURED, OR INTENDED FOR USE OR RESALE AS ON-LINE CONTROL EQUIPMENT IN HAZARDOUS ENVIRONMENTS REQUIRING FAIL-SAFE PERFORMANCE, SUCH AS IN THE OPERATION OF NUCLEAR FACILITIES, AIRCRAFT NAVIGATION OR COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL, DIRECT LIFE SUPPORT MACHINES, OR WEAPONS SYSTEMS, IN WHICH THE FAILURE OF JAVA TECHNOLOGY COULD LEAD DIRECTLY TO DEATH, PERSONAL INJURY, OR SEVERE PHYSICAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE.

LIMITED WARRANTY.

Big Voting Machine Company warrants that (a) the VOTING MACHINE will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying written materials for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days after first election held after receipt, and (b) any Support Services provided by Big Voting Machine Company shall be substantially as described in applicable written materials provided to you by Big Voting Machine Company, and Big Voting Machine Company support engineers will make commercially reasonable efforts to solve any problem. To the extent allowed by applicable law, implied warranties on the VOTING MACHINE, if any, are limited to ninety (30) days after the date of election. Some states/jurisdictions do not allow limitations on duration of an implied warranty, so the above limitation may not apply to you.

CUSTOMER REMEDIES.

Big Voting Machine Company’s and its suppliers’ entire liability and your exclusive remedy shall be, at Big Voting Machine Company’s option, either (a) return of the price paid, if any, or (b) repair or replacement of the VOTING MACHINE that does not meet Big Voting Machine Company’s Limited Warranty and that is returned to Big Voting Machine Company with a copy of your receipt. This Limited Warranty is void if failure of the VOTING MACHINE has resulted from accident, abuse, or misapplication. Any replacement VOTING MACHINE will be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer. Outside the United States, neither these remedies nor any product support services offered by Big Voting Machine Company are available without proof of purchase from an authorized international source.

NO OTHER WARRANTIES.

TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY AND ITS SUPPLIERS DISCLAIM ALL OTHER WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT, WITH REGARD TO THE VOTING MACHINE, AND THE PROVISION OF OR FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT SERVICES. THIS LIMITED WARRANTY GIVES YOU SPECIFIC LEGAL RIGHTS. YOU MAY HAVE OTHERS, WHICH VARY FROM STATE/JURISDICTION TO STATE/JURISDICTION.

LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.

TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT SHALL BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY OR ITS SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF VOTING INFORMATION, INACCURATE COUNTS, REPLACEMENT ELECTIONS, MODIFICTION OF RESULTS BY AN OUTSIDE PARTY, OR ANY OTHER PECUNIARY LOSS) ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE VOTING MACHINE OR THE FAILURE TO PROVIDE SUPPORT SERVICES, EVEN IF BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. IN ANY CASE, BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY’S ENTIRE LIABILITY UNDER ANY PROVISION OF THIS EULA SHALL BE LIMITED TO THE GREATER OF THE AMOUNT ACTUALLY PAID BY YOU FOR THE VOTING MACHINE OR U.S.$50.00; PROVIDED, HOWEVER, IF YOU HAVE ENTERED INTO A BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY SUPPORT SERVICES AGREEMENT, BIG VOTING MACHINE COMPANY’S ENTIRE LIABILITY REGARDING SUPPORT SERVICES SHALL BE GOVERNED BY THE TERMS OF THAT AGREEMENT. BECAUSE SOME STATES/JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY, THE ABOVE LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

Cross-pollination

NationStates seems to be cross-pollinating with LiveJournal. It has a general community (), as does my current region, . For an up to date list, check the nationstates interest.

NationStates also seem to be doing so well that the steadily climbing nation and region counts (nations was growing at something like a thousand a day) on the main page were scrapped in favor of a mcdonalds-esq “over 25000.”

A sad day: So long Hogshead, it was nice knowing you.

A friend just passed on the news that Hogshead Publishing is pulling a Michal Jordan and “ending on a high point.”

Some of their innovative titles:
Nobilis
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Puppetland
Pantheon

Most of the orphaned titles are being passed on to new owners. See the web page for a complete list.

Why AOL sucks, reason #1,859,394,239.

(I hope I didn’t underestimate)

I used to like Mapquest.

Besides being a pretty good map, they had this incredibly cool feature where you could switch to an aerial map of the area shown. Very handy for putting real-world scale to the lines you were looking at, and just getting an idea of what to expect in general.

Yesterday, it was broken. Instead of showing me an aerial map, I got misdirected to my.screenname.aol.com, which then produced about a dozen error messages because I don’t have a bloody scream name.

I notified Mapquest of this problem. They replied (to their credit, in a record-breaking feat of response time) that there were no plans to correct the problem. They then proceeded to push AOL.

I’m taking recommendations for a new map, especially with aerial photos.

Again?

“Postage is 37 cents.”

or so proclaims my returned mail. It used to be that they would at least wait a few years between rate raises, so people had a chance to find out. Now they just write on your mail. I suppose they will be taking after gas stations next:

Postcard: 0.23 (9/10)
Letter: 0.37 (9/10)
Priority: 3.85 (9/10)

Yanked Again

A history (from memory, I could be wrong):

1) Got an install CD from WOW! – “the first online service for windows 95″ (then a pretty new OS) It was the first time I had seen a fixed monthly rate for the internet. Signed up for the free month, and shortly realized that I wanted an Internet Service Provider, not an Online Service.
2) Used WOW to research real ISPs. Ended up deciding on Internet MCI. Ordered installation diskettes, and canceled WOW before I paid anything.
2) Internet MCI sold to Cable and Wireless.
3) Cable and Wireless said that Internet MCI didn’t fulfill their contract for the move. And apparently, C&W wasn’t making any money either. So they sold their accounts to Prodigy.net (which used to be an online service, but is now just an ISP with a web portal.)
4) Prodigy.net announced that it is either selling to or becoming (not sure yet) SBC Yahoo Dial.

Huh. That was fewer steps than I thought ;^)