My email identity thief is at it again

February 11th, 2014

FTR, you *CAN* be sued for outing a creeper on the internet

January 29th, 2014

twistpeach@LiveJournal recently published a 100% awesome journal entry, which went viral, about her experience with a creeper at Arisia 2014 and what she did about it. There is so much good in what she did, and what she wrote about it, that if you have anything to do with SFF Fandom, and probably even if you don’t, you should go read it right now if you haven’t already.

However, I feel I must take issue with one thing she wrote in a follow-up journal entry:

3) There was much discussion of libel and slander in the discussion of the deleting, which honestly made me laugh. I support anyone who doesn’t want to host a discussion of my blog on their blog. But the idea that someone who DOES wish to host this discussion might be in legal trouble for slander is ludicrous. First of all, I don’t have to prove that my version of events happened (even though I have ample evidence and witnesses to do so). Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false. And the blog alone includes confirmation from the Arisia con chair of my report.

I have two concerns with spreading this kind of information to people who might have experiences similar to twistpeach’s and need to decide after the fact what to do about it. First of all, “Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false,” is hardly a universally true statement. Second, whether or not you actually committed slander or libel, you can still be sued, and it can cost you a great deal of time, money, and stress extricating yourself from such a lawsuit.

Before I go into more detail about these concerns, there is one thing I want to be absolutely, 100% clear about. I think that outing creepers like twistpeach’s did is absolutely, positively the right thing to do. I am in awe of her for doing it, and I think if more people with similar experiences reacted similarly and outed the perpetrators, there would be fewer of them and less social acceptance of their actions.

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Another reminder of why I so “love” Paychex

January 1st, 2014

Because I am a boring old fuddy-duddy, I was spending the minutes leading up to the New Year trying to reconcile my 2013 medical flexible spending account (FSA), i.e., to match up the FSA transactions listed on the Paychex web site with those listed in my financial management software and confirm that there were no incorrect transactions in either location.

Alas, after several passes through the transactions, there were, in fact, several that I couldn’t reconcile, and even taking those into account, the reconciled balances were not matching up. However, rather than make yet another pass at trying to make them come out even, I decided to go watch the ball drop with my kids.

When I came back to my office, I had been logged out of the Paychex web site due to inactivity, and the transaction history page I’d been looking at was wiped clean. It wasn’t even available in my browser cache, because the Paychex web site is *shudder* entirely implemented as a Flash application. “No problem,” I said to myself. “I’ll just log back in and bring up the data again.”

Alas, when I logged in, I discovered that the web site had rolled over to my 2014 FSA, and none of the data from the prior year was accessible any longer on the site. Read the rest of this entry »

Update on the Macular Degeneration Association

December 19th, 2013

A rotten start to my week, courtesy of, yet again, the Boston Public Schools

October 28th, 2013

To: Maria Vieira, Assignment Specialist, Boston Public Schools
To: Evelyn Adario, Assistant Director of Envrollment Planning and Support, Boston Public Schools
To: Denise Snyder, Senior Director of Welcome Services, Boston Public Schools
Cc: Boston City Councilor John R. Connolly
Cc: Boston City Councilor Mark Ciommo
Cc: John McDonough, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools
Cc: Boston School Committee

Last night, in preparation for visiting a BPS family resource center this morning to prove my daughter’s residency for the exam school entrance examination, I sat down at my computer to figure out which of the three centers would be the least time-consuming for me to visit.

I dutifully typed their addresses, from the ISEE letter I received late last week, into Google Maps and calculated public transportation routes and estimated travel times from my home to each FRC and from each FRC to work. All three are, of course, inconvenient to reach from Brighton, but the one in Dorchester seemed to be the least inconvenient, so that’s the one I planned to use.

This morning, I typed the address for the Dorchester FRC into my phone and set off on my way. However, when I arrived at the location identified by my phone from the address in the letter, there was no FRC to be seen.

In fact, the FRC was miles to the north of where I was standing, because the address in the letter was wrong:

letter

The ZIP code of the Dorchester FRC is 02125, not 02124. Read the rest of this entry »

Das Keyboard comes from behind for the win

October 5th, 2013

I recently received a package from Metadot, the creators of Das Keyboard. It contained:

T-shirt, magnet, note pads, note of apology, daskeyboard Space Pen, daskeyboard pens

Here’s what the enclosed note says:

Jonathan, We're sorry we messed up! Please accept these goodies as our thank you for being honest and patient with us. Das Keyboard

The day before, I’d received another package from them, containing a brand new Das Keyboard.

From the “We’re sorry we messed up!” you might suspect that there’s a less positive back story leading up to the seemingly happy ending, and you’d be correct. But I told the ending first for one simple reason: what Metadot did at the end made up for everything that came before, in a way that most companies nowadays just don’t seem to understand. Yes, they made a mistake (quite a few of them, actually), but they acknowledged and apologized for it, they didn’t make excuses, they fixed it, and they went the extra mile to show they were sorry.

Here’s the whole, long story… Read the rest of this entry »

Why does dealing with the Boston Public Schools always have to be so unpleasant?

September 23rd, 2013

To: Acting BPS Superintendent John McDonough
Cc: Boston School Committee
Cc: City Councillor Mark Ciommo
Cc: City Councillor and mayoral candidate John Connolly
Cc: Mayoral candidate Charlotte Golar Richie
Cc: Mayoral candidate Bill Walczak

Dear Superintendent McDonough,

Why does it have to be consistently so painful  to deal with the BPS administration? Some of the many examples I’ve recently experienced…

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Herb Chambers Honda of Boston tries to charge me $942 for an $118 repair

September 22nd, 2013

September 22, 2013

American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Honda Automobile Customer Service
1919 Torrance Boulevard
Mail Stop: 500 – 2N – 7A
Torrance, CA 90501-2746

Attention: [name elided] at 800-999-1009 ext. [extension elided]

This is a followup to the attached letter which I sent you on August 2, 2013, about which we subsequently spoke by phone.

To summarize my previous letter, the back-lighting for the A/C controller for my 2007 Honda Odyssey (VIN [elided]) had not worked since the vehicle was new. I asked you to cover the cost of fixing the problem, even though my Odyssey is out of warranty, since the problem was present from when the vehicle was new.

On the phone, you told me to bring the Odyssey to a dealership and get an estimate, and then we could discuss further whether Honda might be able to cover part of the cost of the repair.

I had Herb Chambers Honda of Boston (1186 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02134) look at the problem while I was also dealing with a dead battery there. They gave me an estimate (see attached) of $942 plus tax to replace the entire A/C switch panel. This, frankly, is patently absurd, so I went home and did some more research on my own.

I was able to buy a quality, warrantied, used A/C controller on eBay for only $74.99. I was able to install the new controller myself in a half hour. Assuming a 100% markup on the cost of the replacement part and an hour of labor at $60 per hour, Herb Chambers should have been able to do the repair for $209.98, over $700 less than the estimate they tried to gouge me with.

But it’s even worse than that. Read the rest of this entry »

Canceling my previous recommendation for NoMoreRack.com

July 31st, 2013

I recently recommended a flash charger for cell phones and other devices, being sold by NoMoreRack.com for a great price.

I stand by recommendation of that particular product, but I find it necessary to withdraw my recommendation for NoMoreRack.com.

They strongly encourage their customers to recommend their site and products to friends and relatives, and they give customers a $10 credit for each referral that results in at least one purchase. However, they don’t mention anywhere in the various screens urging people to refer others to their site, or in the emails that get sent out whenever a referral credit is generated, that these credits expire after 48 hours. Other credits they give occasionally display the expiration date prominently, which suggests that the concealing of expiration times for referral credits is intentional.

Their inventory doesn’t change often enough for anybody but a shopaholic to be likely to want to buy something from their site within 48 hours of every referral credit. Therefore, their business model for finding new customers is apparently predicated on (a) actively concealing how long referral credits are good for and (b) not actually paying out most of the referral credits that are generated, since they expire before they can be used.

This is an incredibly shady and dishonest business practice which borders on fraud. I don’t do business with companies that do stuff like this, and I discourage others from doing so.

Since Diallo Mamadou Oury is so insistent on sharing my personal information, here’s some of his

July 30th, 2013

I have no idea why Diallo Mamadou Oury, who lives in Dakar, Senegal, insists on using my email address to sign up for services and web sites all over the Internet (previous postings). But since he apparently feels entitled to share my personal information without my consent, I have no compunctions about sharing his. Here’s an email message that landed today in my inbox:

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