Real exciting sounding huh? Well, check out the video and you'll be amazed how well this thing gets around. After slipping as badly as it does, it still manages to stay upright and keep going. That is really a breakthrough in robotic science!
I've had a Yahoo! account practically as long as I've been on the Internet. I've practically abandoned the mail because of the amount of spam it recieves every day, but I still use it from time to time and it has a lot of historical and nostalgic value due to the e-mails that are still in there.
I've also used my account for the Yahoo! Answers service to help spread information about credit freezes and avoiding scams like lifelock. I'm guessing that last one is why I got a generic letter like this:
Your account has been suspended.
If you feel there has been a mistake, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most likely, your account was suspended in violation of Yahoo! Answers community guidelines. Click here to read the full guidelines
In the meantime, feel free to browse Yahoo! Answers
* Back to Home
Ok. I'm pissed, but I'll give them a chance to explain themselves and I sent them this:
guidelines. First, I've done nothing that would violate any reasonable
guidelines and second, the link to your guidelines doesn't work. Third,
I need you to re-instate the account and provide a reason for why you
suspended it in the first place (assuming this isn't a glitch in the
There was a quick exchange where they mentioned that they can't investigate without knowing the username I was complaining about. Oops. After that, I get this:
Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Answers.
We appreciate your inquiry about your suspension from Yahoo! Answers
and/or the deactivation of your Yahoo! ID. We reviewed your case, and
decided that your account is not eligible for reinstatement.
Once an account is disabled for a violation of the Terms of Service, the
subscriber to the account will lose the ability to log in and access the
account and its contents (including email and content stored with any
other Yahoo! service). The account also will not be reactivated.
Should you choose to create a new Yahoo! account, we invite you to read
the Yahoo! Terms of Service and Yahoo! Community Guidelines to help
ensure your new account is not deactivated.
Yahoo! Terms of Service:
Yahoo! Community Guidelines:
Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Answers.
Yahoo! Customer Care
For assistance with all Yahoo! services please visit:
Yeah. That's not going to work for me. My response (based in part on a very interesting article from the Consumerist that I read yesterday):
You nebulously say that I have violated something in your terms of service with no justification, no explanation, and no recourse what-so-ever? And I'm supposed to guess which part of your TOS I allegedly violated and try again, abandoning the account I've held with you in good standing for over 10 years?
I'm appalled at your complete lack of customer service in this regard. Even if I were to believe that I had legitimately done something wrong, how can you terminate an account with no warning or second chance? I expect that you will cite some technical difficulty in managing second chances, but I assure you it's a trivial process that I can teach your database admins to implement if you'd like.
However, I don't expect you to be moved by simple logic so instead I offer this: If you intend to let this situation stand as-is, I will make sure that I tell my story. I am active in the Internet community and will submit this debacle to sites such at The Consumerist, Slashdot, Digg, and more, giving each the chance to hear what Yahoo! is really like.
Further, I intend to write to Google offering to be a spokes person on their behalf, using my story as an example of why they are the better choice in all things. I'm sure they'd be interested in having another nail for the coffin.
I will give you a period of time to respond to my request before taking any such action and I welcome you to prove me wrong and actually settle this in a reasonable manner. If so, I expect a justification for my expulsion AND immediate reinstatement of my account. Once I am actually aware of what provision of your TOS you claim I violated, I can make adjustments (if necessary).
Now let's see what happens.
Not surprising, but I'm baffled that I was right. Yahoo responded with a form letter:
I've written an e-mail to "The Consumerist" hoping that they'l take an interest in this story or at least provide me with some advice on how to proceed. Sure I've got ideas, but I'd rather leverage the experience of the pros if possible.
Not getting much traction with some of the things I've tried, but I'm going to file a Better Business Bureau complaint and see what happens. Should be interesting.
And their response:
The case has been reviewed and has now been forwarded to the business for their response. This business has until April 30, 2008 to respond to your complaint. You may contact our office after April 30, 2008 to check the status of your complaint.
Mua ha ha ha! Forwarded to them for their response. So there.
Though they told me that I wouldn't be able to access my e-mail I checked today and it turns out that I can. Since I didn't try it before, I can't tell if was able to get to it all along or if this is somehow related to my BBB complaint. If I find out for sure, I'll post it.
The BBB has noted that I said I didn't accept their response, but the BBB has closed the case anyway. Not surprising.
Next, to Google:
If you are interested in promoting bad press about your competitor, I would be happy to be a spokesperson on your behalf. People should know that a company that treats customers as Yahoo does is not worth getting involved with.
You can read about the entire issue here:
My Advice to Others
When something like this happens, complaining to the Better Business Bureau and consumer protection sites like the Consumerist for publicity are good, but won't probably help. Yahoo has the right to deal with whoever they want and, at best, you can argue that as a company that so aggressively entices people to use their services, they have at least some measure of obligation to treat people fairly, but that's a stretch.
In the end, the best possible thing you can do is avoid using Yahoo! services for anything. There are plenty of alternatives out there and I, for one, have no interest in spending time with a company that's willing to drop me at any time for no valid reason at all.
Lest one think of torrents and illegal downloads at the same time, it's worth reminding the public that torrents are just a file distribution system and one that has many legitimate uses. For example, one IT department used torrent technology to distribute a set of system patches and upgrades in just four hours. The same patch would have previously taken over 4 days!
Lifehacker has an interesting article about managing your online reputation. They talk about how to tell when new information about you surfaces (setting up a Google alert) and how to amend or respond to negative information. There are also ways to artifically improve the way you're viewed online (your own blog).
It's a good read for anyone who's concerned about what people will find when searching for your name online.
A while back we were hearing stories of teens setting ringtones to frequencies that most adults couldn't hear. Now the tables are turning and there are some people who are using the same technique to chase young people away!
While very funny and an ironic twist on the ultrasonic ringtone idea, it has some legitimate drawbacks that are leading some to call for the devices to be banned.
The £500 Mosquito device has been installed at some 3,500 locations across the country since it first went on sale in January 2006. It emits an irritating, high-pitched sound that can only be heard by children and young people up into their early twenties, forcing them to move on.
(H/T to Slashdot for the link)
In what is perhaps the dumbest move eBay has ever made, they are planning to eliminate the ability to leave negative or neutral feedback. Positive feedback is already pointless with a horde of robotic responses left only for bragging rights:
Would Buy again!
Fast Shipping. Excellent Seller!
What does any of this mean? NOTHING. If you want the real scoop, it used to be only the negative feedback that would give it to you. Besides, if you DO get scammed, it's not like eBay will do anything about it so the negative feedback was the only thing that would protect you.
There are already plenty of cases of adults or college students who have lost jobs and dropped out of school due to MMO gaming obsessions. Now we're going to unleash this on our kids?
If you're thinking of letting you kid play an MMO, be very careful about what game you choose and be sure to set limits on how and when they play.
This is so very cool. I believe memory is the keystone of intelligence and it's what makes your life worthwhile. After all, what is the point of living if you can't remember anything?
The man, who has not been identified, was also tested on his ability to learn lists of paired objects. After three weeks of continuous hypothalamic stimulation, his performance on two learning tests was significantly improved. He was also much more likely to remember a list of unrelated paired objects with the electrodes turned on than when turned off.
(H/T to Digg.com for the link)
I'm not so sure we're ready to start messing with nature like this. It didn't work so well the last time, and that was just selective breeding.
For what sounds like a scam if ever there was one, MissingMoney.com appears to be legitimate. The team over at Lifehacker have had a rush of successes listed in their comments after their first post of this service and having tried it myself, I was actually able to find an unclaimed rebate in my name!
I found a record with one of my old addresses and clicked the link they gave me. It led to Washington State's web-based unclaimed funds service.
I had to create an account with Washington state's unclaimed money department, but that was a simple process. There was a point where they ask for a SSN, but they give you the option of providing it offline (which I thought was a nice touch).
Afterward, they asked me to submit any kind of record that shows that I lived at that address (which I did) and it was a done deal. In theory, I should get my money in a while. I will update this page at that time. Of course, if you do this, make sure that you're not providing sensitive documents as proof (I think I sent a bill with account numbers blacked out or such).
Update 2 – According to the state unclaimed property site, my family has almost 10 claims! A few are for over $50 too. This is fun! I wonder how soon missing money will be hooked into all the states?
Update 3 – Got my rebate. It's for just over $30. Pretty neat.
I've always thought this could be done though I figured it would have to involve a light electric field and a fabric of some kind. Either way, it's going to make it pretty easy for military types to sneak around at night now itsn't it?
From the, "that's freaking brilliant!" department, someone figured out that there's a phone tone that means "vacant circuit", or in layman's terms, there's no phone here. When an automated dialer gets that, they erase the phone number from their records so they don't waste their valuable time and money (as if ours wasn't). So what he did was download the tone from the Internet and put it as the first thing on his answering machine.
As long as you don't belong to a school system or work for someone who uses auto-dialers, this is pretty cool.
Information about the coming USB 3 format is now available. Of course it's far faster than the previous version (about 10 times as fast), but the important nugget is that the connector is backwards compatible with USB1 and 2. That means that you can plug USB 3 devices into older systems and you can plug your old devices into USB 3 solts. That's pretty cool.
(H/T to Slashdot for the link)
This story of a couple who shined a green laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter is interesting. According to the article, they were just having fun flashing them into the sky like giant light-sabers (which sounds pretty fun to me). Unfortunately, it hit the cockpit of the helicopter which must have diffused and spread the light (or else this couple has some killer aim to be able to hit the retina of a helicopter pilot at 500 feet).
And apparenlty, I'm not the only one who's noticed this connection.
(H/T to Slashdot for the link)
If you believe that life exists out there, it's easy to see why programs like SETI have been created to try and gather evidence. Now there's an effort called "Active SETI" that's no longer content to wait for signs of life, it's broadcasting signals directly to other stars that are likely to contain similar lifeforms to us.
The problem is, there are some who believe that doing so puts us all in danger. Without knowing who or what is out there, what their capabilities are, and what their intentions are, we could be inviting our own destruction.
Rather than sound paranoid, this is very sound advice. If you drugged and blindfolded and were then released somewhere that sounded like a city, would the first thing you did be to yell, "hey, hey! I'm over here! HELLLLLOOOOO!!!"
You could be in any part of any city in the world. This is a stupid action to take.
It's a little light on content at the moment, but I think this has potential. If you can't remember what something is called, you can hunt it down visually via connections to other pictures that are related or part of it.
They may have found a way to modify regular skin cells into working like stem cells. Having another source that is easier to get, far more plentiful, and lacks those nasty moral issues would make the technology thrive. Let's hope for the best.
(H/T to Slashdot for the link)
There's been a recent report about the Typo-squatting problem where they talk about mistyping a popular website name can get you served with a fake site full of ads, malware, or porn.
They mention the McAffee SiteAdvisor software that tries to alert you if you're on a site that probably isn't what you intended, but I offer this simple tool instead: Google. Set Google to your homepage and from now on, whenever you would normally type a site name into the address bar, hit the "home" button and type it into Google's search box instead.
If you mispelled it, Google will correct it and the first or second link will probably be the page you meant.
Substitute a different search engine if you must.
Caspian just released a paper documenting the research showing the causal link between RFID implants and cancer in lab animals. The reason they issued this report is because of the recent news press about the issue. They wrote and issued this report because "a lot of misinformation about the cancer research has circulated since [the original cancer research] was published". Damage control by Verichip perhaps?
In almost all cases, the malignant tumors, typically sarcomas, arose at the site of the implants and grew to surround and fully encase the devices.
That's not subtle is it? Neither is this:
Either VeriChip and the makers of HomeAgain actually don't understand the difference between a benign fibroma and a malignant fibrosarcoma," noted Dr. Albrecht, "or they're deliberately lying to the public. Either way, it's clear they can't be trusted. We hope our new report will set the record straight.
Check out the "Recent Industry Misstatements about Implant-Cancer Research" section near the bottom of the page for specific examples of lies/ignorance told by chip makers and CASPIAN's factual rebuttals.