Monday, October 31, 2005

Scary Customer Service Tales : Attack Of "The Waygoner": Bad Customer Service w/ Wegener Media: An Apple Upgrade & Repair Business in South Carolina



This is the story of one of the worst customer service experiences I've ever experienced.

I purchased a PowerBook G3 Pismo G4 550 Upgrade from Wegener Media in September 2005.

First, I'll provide a review of the upgrade:

(As I posted on XLR8YOURMAC):

Date Submitted: 9/17/2005
Rating (1 to 10): 4
Manufacturer: Other Brand
Rated Speed (CPU/Cache MHz): G4 / 550 Mhz
Max Speed (CPU/Cache MHz): (not cpu speed adjustable)
Cache Size: 1MB L2
Mac Type: Powerbook G3 2000 / 400Mhz

Comments: I bought a PowerBook Pismo upgrade from Wegener Media in my home state of South Carolina last week. Previously, I had purchased upgrades with success from FasterMac and directly from PowerLogix.

This was my 3rd separate ownership of my most favorite computer made by Apple - The Pismo.

Before the upgrade, I was actually very pleased with the 400Mhz G3 speed in both Panther 10.3.9 and Tiger 10.4.2 (all updates applied)

Performance in 9.2.2 was always very good and this system played Virtual Game Station perfectly.

I had all the other premium upgrades as well with 1GB of low density, heatshielded PC133 RAM and a 7200RPM 16MB cache Hitachi Travelstar Enterprise Edition 2.5" hard drive (consumer drives have 8MB cache)

I also had a custom DVD+/-RW slot loading bay drive.

Before the upgrade, with XBench, I scored an average of 88.

After the upgrade, I scored an average of 45. (Yes - a decrease) I think this was related to the nature of the upgrade, as I did not realize a noticeable speed decrease, in fact most things like iTunes decoding, etc were MUCH faster.

But, I have to be honest - this upgrade was disappointing ... it's hard to know whether this was just 10.4.2 hanging on me or what because I upgraded to both right around the same time - but after about 20 minutes of use I would get freezes and beachballs just doing routine stuff like uploading on websites, and opening folders on the desktop, etc.

After 5 weeks of having the upgrade; it finally failed on me.

I am a certified Apple Tech and I actually took extra precautions to cool this processor (by having a fan in place of the modem card) - but this processor and the process and means to cool it were insufficient. Other companies - such as PowerLogix - provide a more elegant system of cooling. These companies should all use thermal pads instead of making end users use CPU thermal paste.

My "new" heatsink provided was very sloppily soldered and was insufficient cooling for the hotter upgrade.

Maybe I just got a bum processor, but as I said - I've had several of these upgrades and performed several upgrades similar for clients - this is the first I had bought from Wegener Media because the price of $199.99 was impossible to beat.


_____________________________________________
I obviously wanted my money back and wished to return the processor.
_____________________________________________


Philip,

I just received a call back from our credit card manager. They'll run the refund on it, though it will take about 36hrs to go thru. So you should see it soon!

Thanks,
David


*** NOTE: NO MENTION OF RESTOCKING FEE***


"Please don't assume that this is our fault. We have a dozen people who work hard to provide support for people around the world, and in this case we worked much more than normal due to your lack of properly labelling your package.

Your refund will be processed shortly, now that we're able to connect the purchase with your name. However, since it has been over 60 days, there may be a delay on the refund--credit card systems usually don't allow a refund after 60 days. Because of this it will probably have to be processed manually and a check will be sent. This will take a few more days before you receive your payment."


Thanks,
David


*** NOTE: NO MENTION OF RESTOCKING FEE***


[NOTES] I want to note, I did NOT pay with a credit card. This was a bogus excuse to delay this transaction as much as possible. I paid with a PayPal balance payment. I was in one of the VERY FIRST 100,000 to sign up for Paypal. I taught "How To Use eBaY" at a local technical college and I'm often applauded for the vast knowledge and inner workings I have of eBay and the Paypal payment system. Paypal payments and Paypal based shopping carts (such as Wegener Media's online shopping cart) have NOTHING to do with credit card companies. I made sure that I called Paypal to see if my balance had been reversed through a credit card in some manner. Nope.

I initiated this "refund process" at exactly 30 days past purchase - while the processor was freezing (Before a total failure) - hoping to remain within warranty.

I called Wegener Media to set up an RMA. The secretary (who's name was Kandi) told me that management (Dave Wegener) handles RMAs and that he would call me back later THAT DAY!

No call.

(One week passed.)

I called again. I was told the same thing again.

(One week passed.) (Now at 44 days past purchase)

I called insistently asking to set up the refund. I managed to speak at length with Mr. Wegener. During this conversation, I mentioned that I had placed an unfavorable review at XLR8YourMac.COM.

He commented,
"I used to write for them!"


As far as I am aware, XLR8YOURMAC has always been run by ONE person. Mike Breeden.

This was a lie I picked up on immediately.

Here is the REAL REASON my refund wasn't provided in 60 days.

This is what Mr. Wegener was SUPPOSE to do for the refund; by just making two clicks:



Anyway, after another week of dilly dally from Wegener, I finally was able to set up an RMA. I mailed the package back first class with delivery confirmation, my name, address, phone number, and RMA number on the outside of the package, it reached Wegener the next business day which was a Monday. (Now at 54 days).

9 days passed. (Now at 63 days)

I called to check if they received the package - which I knew they had.

Wegener Media made a really big deal out of me not labelling the package right. Well ... that would be a valid complaint had we not thoroughly discussed my email address and business name. Honestly, I must have cleared this up with the secretary for a good five minutes. Besides, is Wegener having SO MANY returns that they don't know who is sending them what? If they issued me an RMA (with a specific #) shouldn't they be expecting an RMA (with a specific #) from me? We're talking about a VERY small South Carolina company here; not a corporate giant.

I get the "refund through credit card in 36 hours" email (above). Refund came 4 days (75 hours later).

Let me back up for a moment. Mr. Wegener told me in a recorded phone conversation that if he could not process the refund in 36 hours, that I would just get a FULL REFUND via a paypal payment directly. I even agreed to accept the 2.75% deduction Paypal would charge me for processing the payment.

Was this the end? Nope

I was charged a 25% restocking fee on $199; which is what the processor cost. Original price was $349 - the price before I returned the processor core to Wegener Media. So, my refund was $49.84 short. Which is actually a weird 25.06%!! I guess he rounded up a few cents!

Mr. Wegener made note of his lengthy and VERY wordy policy page. Located here

He made the statement that he was following policy.

Here is the completely unintelligible policy:

We refund the purchase price of items returned 1. with authorization, 2. in good working condition, 3. delivered according to our policy stated, minus a 15% restocking fee. We do not refund shipping charges, insurance, or other fees. Customized installations or customized projects are eligible for refund ONLY at our discretion, and at a rate of our discretion. Non-defective product returns of in-stock items may be accepted for store credit within 20 days of purchase only at seller's discretion, and are subject to a 20% restocking fee ($20 minimum). Under extraordinadary circumstances, non-defective product returns of in-stock items may be accepted for cash refunds within 7 days of purchase at seller's discretion only, and are subject to a 30% restocking fee ($30 minimum). Items which are returned as defective but found to be non-defective are subject to a 20% bench test fee ($20 minimum) and all shipping charges.


Did you get that?

Mr. Wegener has referred me to his attorney to collect the $49.84 in small claims court. Which is exactly where I plan to take this. I just wanted to publish my "research associated with this case" here for your reading pleasure.

[UPDATE] * Two years later on May 9 2007, Wegener Media refunded my $49.84 with interest to make ammends, I accepted the refund.


Better Business Bureau Report For Wegener Media



Owner: Mr. Dave Wegener
Business Classification: Computers-Dealers

Customer Experience:

Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered and unresolved complaints. The company has resolved some complaints presented by the Bureau, however, the company did not respond to other complaints.

The Bureau processed a total of 10 complaints about this company in the last 36 months, our standard reporting period. Of the total of 10 complaints closed in 36 months.

These complaints concerned:

2 Sales Practice Issues
1 Delivery Issues
1 Product Issues
1 Refund or Exchange Issues
2 Customer Service Issues
3 Service or Repair Issues

They were closed as:

2 Resolved
8 No Response

This report is actually worse than it appears here as Wegener Media has moved twice since the first complaint was filed (of the 10 listed) Wegener Media actually has (3) separate reports at the BBB of South Carolina website with a total of 11 complaints that are known. The BBB only has a (3) year reporting period. Wegener Media claims to have been in business since 1990.

There's not much you have to do to appease the BBB. Having any unresolved or no-response complaints at the BBB is beyond irresponsible; it's almost criminal, in my mind.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who's had a bad experience. Google is littered with comments [such as below] in forums, reviews, and BLOGs (only searching the terms "Wegener Media")

Neither of these two experiences (below) are part of the BBB report:

Before I purchased, they got back to me within the half-hour. after they got my money, they ignored 4 emails and 2 phone calls :mad: take your chances


" ... it has been a disaster. I wouldn't do business with Wegener Media. Their quality control is disastrous (they could easily have checked all three of these problems before sending the laptop back); they are unwilling to have re-repairs shipped under the same terms as the original (if you pay for rush shipping on the first repair, then necessary re-repairs should also get rush shipping, but they insist on ground). They do not keep promises about when they’ll call back; repeatedly saying what they’ll do and then doing something slower and not saying anything until I call.


This is also found in the Apple forums:

"To add insult to injury, I found a company I thought sounded reputable (Wegener Media, www.wegenermedia.com) and sent my PowerBook to them to repair.

They sent back my PowerBook with a new screen, but totally f-ed up the case, bent up the side around the DVI port, and stripped out the case screws. It also won't sleep/wake anymore when I close the lid; this worked fine before and was not related to the accident. They also sent it back in a loose box of mixed peanuts and bits of trash; I'd sent it to them in a clean box with solid foam.


Now, I want to touch on something that has been bothering me for over a year about this company. Theft! I have reason to believe that Wegener Media has purchased the two items from me below, only to offer them on their own website. I have had these items on my site for almost 4 years.



There is ONE notable difference about MY drive upgrades though. My bezels have been original (for the most part) - making the PowerBook look original. Whereas Wegener Media's pictures try to hide the fact that the bezel looks like CRAP on their upgrades.

[UPDATE] May 9 2007: I no longer offer the Pismo upgrade on my site.

Here is a better example of what an upgrade from Wegener Media looks like:



As for the mouse, I originally found this as an "alternative product" to Jack Campbell's The Mouse.

I called it the ProMouse Plus.



One issue Mr. Wegener has made: I recorded our phone conversation without his consent and therefore broke the law.

Before, you as a business owner, accuse anyone of breaking ANY law, be aware of what the law actually says. In the case of recording phone calls, these laws vary state by state. Here is the law in my state, found in the FixYourThinking Reference Section in the right hand column:

Simply; one party notification. This means, in a court of law, that only one person (the callee or the caller) has to know the conversation is being recorded.

THE END ... hopefully ... well ... it seems people keep posting comments ... keep 'em coming ...

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Protest Tool For The Nano Scratchers?


As reported by ENGadget

So you don’t think that posting your thoughts to a public SMS sign is enough of an attention-getter? How about trying the “Tool for Armchair Activists,” a combination cellphone, voice synthesizer, and bullhorn that converts incoming text messages into (loudly) spoken public discourse. The system’s designer, UK-based Troika, claims that it “allows the armchair activist to shout out its [sic] rants and protests in the comfort of his living room.” We used to think that a big part of protesting was actually taking the time and energy to show up somewhere for your beliefs, but now we know that you’re just as dedicated to the cause by shouting robotic-sounding epithets at The First Family from a glorified P.A. system attached to the White House security gate...


I realize this is a little off topic, but very relevant to the theme here at Jackwhispers. Often, protesters think they have rights - such as free speech, when protesting - when in fact - the 1st ammendment was created solely as a RIGHT to redress the government.

In the picture - this seems to be a telephone poll or power poll - these are private property - owned by

1) The utility that put them there

2) The business or home owner

or

3) The government / city easement


Part of the effectiveness of protesting is a human body - showing effort and dedication to your cause.

As a business owner, I'd make sure I had proper permits for my weapon of choice and blow it off. Or maybe put a 25 pound magnet on it and make it screech - annoying everyone that went by, placing a poster beneath it - indicating the identity of the "cause of the screech".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jackwhispers Recommends 10 Of These Each Day!



As part of the move of JACKWHISPERS.COM to this blog - I am also moving the picture hosting to this website. By clicking on the items in the sidebar you help support this website. There will be a few more of these kind of posts over the next few weeks so please just bare with me!

FixWords: reciprocity & kernel



I believe that one's vocabulary, tone, and communication ability carries one further in life than; good looks, knowledge, and even common sense. One who can communicate; both speaking and listening (which means; understanding what you hear), can rely on others to make up for the weaknesses they may have. By communicating ideas, a leader; can truly lead:

Today's FixWords are:

RECIPROCITY & KERNEL


kernel

Here is the defintion for kernel from the online dictionary Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernel_(computer)

You may have heard of the kernel in technical discussions of OSX. You may have also seen the words: "Kernel Panic" on the rare occasion that OSX completely crashes.

The OSX Kernel is essentially a key that allows access to the hardware of a Macintosh or PowerBook. Look at the kernel as the key and the hardware (such as the motherboard and it's components) as a lock. In order to open that lock, see what's inside, or access the hardware's contents, you must have a kernel.

The most interesting aspect of using this type of hardware access is it's portability. Usually, a computer that can have Linux installed (such as a Mac) uses a kernel to create an abstraction of the hardware it is being used on. This way, Linux (which is based on another operating system called UNIX) can use a universal set of instructions to perform certain tasks.

By abstraction and universal set ... I mean to say that ... Linux (type) operating systems have a commonality amongst them in the way they are set up. If you can get Linux onto a device, you can use these commonalities, accessed by a kernel that is created (as the key). The kernel, once created, eliminates (for the most part) the need for drivers - instead, Linux will rely on its ability to access components due to the standards common to devices with computer chips such as USB, Serial, CDROM drives, etc. (** this is a very loose definition)

Being able to use a kernel for access to a "universal hardware" set is one reason Apple can make the transition from PowerPC processors to Intel processors easier.

The only downside to using this form of programming and hardware access is that it makes the system incredibly large and complex on complex systems (such as the Mac). It is complex because it is less laymen and more technical; less visual and more mathematical.

Let's time travel; back to OS 7-9, for a moment. Remember the days when there were just a few extensions in the system folder? Remember when, if you had any knowledge of the OS whatsoever, you could easily remove a problematic program and it's extensions within literally a minute? Mac OS 7 through 9, had a system folder that contained several hundred components. The Mac OS X System is hundreds of thousands of files. The 100's of components from OS 9 are broken into many many subcomponents.

With a kernel based system you can no longer do this. Kernel extensions (called; dependencies) are scattered all over your hard drive - even in hidden or invisible files and folders. Each "dependency" is just that - dependent on the other "parts" to run your system. Now, removing even the smallest component, even if unrelated, to your program or task, could crash your whole system. Logic would say that this would make the system more crash prone. In fact, it's just the opposite. While the kernel does have these 'dependencies' - it can dynamically construct paths. The mission of your operating system after all is to run and to secure your data - the kernel is written so that these two tasks: to run / to secure are foremost. The kernel will try it's best, even if other parts of the system (the dependencies) are weak, missing, or corrupt. If the dependencies don't have enough integrity due to missing or corrupt files, or failed hardware ... you get a "Kernel Panic"

I hope this didn't get more confusing, as I explained the definition.



I've been using this word more in recent weeks and it is rather fitting to the previous word:

reciprocity

The Webster's dictionary defines reciprocity as:

reciprocity (as in "reciprocality") noun : a relation of mutual dependence or action or influence

Here's a great song with the word reciprocity" in it. This is where I first heard the word and then added it to my vocabulary in 2003:

When You're Good To Mama ~ Queen Latifah (from the Chicago Movie Soundtrack)


When You're Good to Mama

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm taking suggestions for a "No more Dvorak petition" ... to stop reporting on Jack Dvorak!



John = Jack



In between my duties (of my "other life") - I'm writing up a petition at PETITIONONLINE.COM concerning John C Dvorak - asking mac and technology websites NOT to publish any more of his stories. If you have any ideas or suggestions for wording, feel free to post them.

I hadn't thought of this until a friend mentioned it to me yesterday: Jack is a nickname often used for John - usually when there is a I, II, or III in a family.

ROUGH DRAFT

"As a community of intelligent computer users across the globe; we see Mr. Dvorak's continually off base, and irresponsible journalism as sensationalist and self serving. We, as computer users ask various internet websites to participate in a ban on mention of Mr. Dvorak or any opinion he publishes in print. As Mac users, we see Mr. Dvorak as a pariah used only as a pawn in competition against Apple. His predictions of death to Apple technologies and Apple Computer itself, is a real threat to Apple financials and fair Apple trade.

John Dvorak's op-ed pieces are often filled with non factual elements, used solely to incite the target audience into an emotional response.

If Mr. Dvorak had a disclaimer that of his intentions or purpose of his editorials to drive traffic to his own website or to a publisher of his articles; his editorials might have entertainment value. Often, financial analysts pick up on Mr. Dvorak's comments and noticeably affect Apple technology acceptance and sales."

Therefore, we the undersigned, commit to the following:

1) Not patronizing any advertisers of sites that promote John C. Dvorak articles.

2) Not visiting sites or articles directly linked on technology sites written by John C. Dvorak

3) Not commenting in any forum about John C Dvorak so as to reduce his visibility and influence

AND

4) As webmasters refuse to publish any further links to stories that discuss John C Dvorak editorial pieces

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Headless Horseman Rides Again & "The No Mac Site Dvorak Pact"



Several emails have begged the question: "Why didn't I cover the "Mac Biased Media" article John C. Dvorak published last week?

Readers, this guy is a moron. He is an unintelligible and incoherent writer. He also writes stories, on occasion, just to drive hits to his website - knowing he can always do so by angering Mac users.

Therefore, I will report this story by providing you with the best story coverage I found; from MacSlash.

But ... see my footnote AFTER the quote:

As reported by MacSlash:

This is too rich. John Dvorak, that paragon of journalistic integrity, is crying foul on pro-Apple reporting in the mainstream press. My favourite line: "This reality is not going to change. In fact it will only get worse as technology coverage is handed to newer, less-qualified observers who simply cannot use a Microsoft Windows computer." Aside from the starry look I get at the prospect of an entire profession breaking the shackles of a lousy computing platform, let's examine the source. His own bias against the Mac is well documented, so it's kind of funny to hear him complain that nobody else agrees with him. In my mind, the mainstream media isn't making nearly a big enough deal about the problems with Microsoft. After all, not only is the company a convicted -- and scott-free -- monopolist, but their software platform is increasingly expensive to use and raddled with security holes. What kind of Mac-obsessed, overwhelmingly biased media would let that story go?


Ironically, last Halloween; I reported on Mr. Dvorak with the story: The Headless Horseman's Identity Revealed. This gives more credance to my theory - he surfaces with particularly bad stories right around Halloween.

I will be mailing all of Mac News outlets over the course of the week - asking them to ban stories from John C. Dvorak and to discuss nary a word of him ... ever again. Any good points (which are few and far between) that Mr. Dvorak has ever made are borrowed from his own Google search talent and BLOG / comment forum theft.

I will also bring a petition to petitiononline.com to ask for signatures of those who commit to not reading anymore of Dvorak's silly diatribe.

Jack Classic: Trick Or Treat: The Headless Horseman's Identity Revealed



(ABOVE) This is John's most famous picture - where he poses to not hear his critics. I always thought it looked like he was lifting his head off.

If any of you have ever read a column by John C. Dvorak, you'll know what I'm talking about here. If you haven't read any of his work, maybe you saw him on TechTV's tech industry topic debate show, Silicon Spin. And if you still don't know who he is, you can Google the name.

This guy has as many bad stories about him on the internet and as many damning comments as Satan. In fact, I think Dvorak is the only person I know, that is so well known for being disliked in the Mac Community.

Here's a brief, and no where near complete, history of John Dvorak's career & comments:

Booted from MacUser Magazine for [from editor] "Routinely poor editorial insight"

Booted from TechTV for poor ratings & low advertising revenue generated during show + multiple "disagreements with management and fellow show hosts"

Dvorak has wrongly predicted Apple would be out of business in 3 years; 4 times

Dvorak has wrongly predicted the death of firewire, the 1st generation iBook, the iPod, the iLife Suite, and OS X
**Please don't correct me on firewire - it is far from dead although not included w/ recent iPods


Most recently he criticized Apple for hoodwinking the public and causing "Pandora's Box" to be opened by releasing the U2 Special Edition iPod.



** Followup: The U2 Edition iPod ended up being such a success that Apple made the iPod Video in black and a Nano in black and has followed up with sveral OTHER successful Special Edition iPods

It should be noted that after reviewing over 100 stories by Dvorak that he used the cliche, "Pandora's Box" 12 times. Indicating, he has little new to write and that he may just be filling in stories like Mad Libs.

So, I have come to the conclusion that John C. Dvorak may actually be the Headless Horseman. I refuse to believe that there is a head on that body when the hand moves to type or use a pen. I believe this even stronger now that I found this picture:

A couple of times a year he releases an "Apple is Dead" story because he KNOWS that it will push up his reader totals. It's like sweeps week. He'll peeve as many Mac fans as he can because he knows not only will they flock to read his story (to prove him wrong), but they will also tell everyone they know. He also knows that just before the holiday push is when management considers where to trim to maximize profits during the holiday season.

Aside from this freakish revelation, he is a very annoying liberal democrat that rants on his BLOG about meaningless political items often.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tech Companies Spend 2% Of Revenue For Litigation, But What Does Apple Spend?



This pretty much speaks for itself. It does beg the question though; what does Apple spend yearly, defending and prosecuting lawsuits? My bet is far more than 2%!!

As reported by Slashdot:

Tech Companies Swimming In Lawsuits

"A new survey shows that the tech industry places third after healthcare and energy companies in the number of lawsuits it deals with. It states that an average tech company faces 42 lawsuits currently, more than the insurance industry!" From the article: "An average U.S. technology company currently faces 42 lawsuits vs. 37 lawsuit for an average company. The tech industry places third, after healthcare and energy companies, in the number of lawsuits it deals with ... Needless to say, that's quite expensive. Nearly a third of these companies spend more than 2% of their gross revenue on legal expenses, according to one of the largest surveys of corporate counsel in America."

ParaNANOia?



I think Apple made an honest effort to 'recall" anyone's iPod who felt is was unduely scratching. Now comes this lawsuit:

As reported by iPodNN.com

Apple sued over nano scratches

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Apple Computer over the iPod nano's suceptibility to scratches. The Red Herring reports that Jason Tomczak has filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple Computer on behalf of all iPod nano owners, demanding that customers get their money back as well as a share of the company’s profits on the music player’s sales." The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California in San Jose on Wednesday, October 19, 2005, according to the report. The lawsuit follows numerous discussions of Nano complaints around the Web, media reports about its increased susceptibility to scratches compared to previous generations, and Apple's acknowledgement of an LCD flaw with a small set of iPod nanos.

In the complaint, Tomczak says he rubbed a paper towel on his Nano front cover and "that alone left significant scratches." In addition, the suit charges that the Nano screens "scratch excessively during normal usage, rendering the screen on the Nanos [sic] unreadable, and violating state consumer protection statutes… and causing Plaintiff class members to incur loss of use and monetary damages."


See Jackwhispers previous mentions for more indepth detail:

Apple Makes A Creative Recall

I'll Scratch Your iPod Nano If You'll Scratch Mine

The Windshield Scare of 1954/ The iPod Nano Scare of 2005

Of course this lawsuit will be added to the Jackwhispers Your Rights, The Law & Litigation reference section soon.

I'm Starting A Mac Virus Hunt Contest? I Meant ... I'd Like To Start It, Not Actually Start It.



As reported by MacSlash

Virus Hunt Ends...Wait, It Never Started!

When we posted earlier about Wil Shipley's $500 Mac virus bounty, we left out one important fact: he was merely floating the idea, not actually launching it! Seems we weren't the only ones who went crazy at the word "go" -- although his putative deadline came and went Sunday night, Shipley was swamped with responses. The result? He has three potential Mac viruses, and some investigating to do. Whether he pays out the $500 is uncertain...


See this associated JackWhispers Story: Viruses On The Mac Like Herpes??? How Delicious!

Also see: A Jacked Up Virus & Mac Fanatics Cause iVirus

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mac Fanatics Cause iVirus!

A Virus Called The Blues ~ New Orleans Music Clinic


* Originally posted in March of 2004 and updated twice over the course of the year. Many of the articles that were posted to Jackwhispers before the site redesign and subsequent reader increase of almost 3000%, remain relevant. A story about a possible "Malware vulnerability" on the Mac platform popped up right before Halloween 2004. Read below:

Over the weekend, Apple made an official statement about a new threat that Symantec had "exposed" concerning Mac OS X.

Here is the story as reported by MacMinute:

Apple: 'Opener' malware not a virus

November 1 2004:

Apple has denied that the malicious code dubbed "Opener" is a virus, Trojan horse or a worm. However, the security community disagrees, saying that while the program is not an immediate threat, it is a worm because it attempts to copy itself. "Opener is not a virus, Trojan horse, or worm," Apple said in a statement. "It does not propagate itself across a network, through email, or over the Web. Opener can only be installed by someone who already has access to your system and provides proper administrator authentication. Apple advises users to only install software from vendors and Web sites that they know and trust."


Here is the original FYT Story:

One of the many things I like about the Mac is that there isn't much worry about computer viruses. In fact, only recent viruses have even made an impact on the Mac side of email. Both the SOBig and MyDoom viruses filled my Mail.App inbox. (SoBig to the tune of 200-300 an hour for 72 hours straight) Alas, my Mac and Mac network was not infected, it was a just pain to have to read and delete so many subject lines. You think that's a lot ... well it was ... eventhough I get about 800 junk emails a day.


One of the ways I TRY to prevent email spread viruses is by asking that people not keep my email address in their address books. Many people don't pay attention to this on eBay. If they bought something they liked from me, they add me to their MS Outlook/Entourage address book. Usually, I can trace an email spread virus back to a recent eBay customer.

Most email you get nowadays isn't actually SPAM, rather; it's a hack into your inbox. Hackers have found that a legal way to have fun at hacking is to hack your email.



An article on Slashdot really got me to thinking of a new threat in the virus attacks. I believe this one could soon make it to the Mac. After all, there are as many fans of the Macintosh platform, as there are haters. There are some that dislike Macs so much, that they would do "something" to "show us a thing or two about how Macs suck". Does that sound kind of like "gang talk" to you? Well it is. A recent story has indicated that the most current strings of viruses may be perpetrated by a new type of gang, a modern gang; a "cyber gang" if that shoe fits. Experts believe that viral computer attacks may be one upping the other; just to show who's the top - who's better - and which gang is better. Communications between gangs like this most likely carry on anonymously through internet telephony or even chat clients like AOL Instant Messenger. These gangs most likely use Linux; the most recent attacks have been directly on Microsoft and a company that the Linux community loves to hate called SCO.

I post regularly on Slashdot. Whenever there's a story about Apple or the Mac platform; HUNDREDS of posts iterate hatred for Macintosh users and the "blind loyalty" they seem to have. There are geeks out there that I'm sure would love nothing better than to "show Mac fanatics a thing or two".

Scenario: One "cybergang" uses Macs - they try a virus on the Windows platform. The other "cybergang" uses PCs - they orchestrate a virus on the Mac platform.

A lot of critics say, "The Mac market share isn't big enough to spread a virus." To me; telling me something isn't necessary, isn't feasible, or that I'm not capable of doing it; makes me; want to do it even more.

This week's FYT Conspiracy Theory: I have always believed that large software companies, like Microsoft have insiders that are bribed by AntiVirus companies like Norton. I have always believed that there's some sort of secret Area 51 at Norton that actually creates some of these viruses. They seem to pop up right when profits are dipping at the virus software companies. I have always believed that if Apple were to ever start to encroach on the marketshare of the PC world TOO much - "the powers that be" at Intel and Microsoft would smirk if a virus popped up on the Macintosh platform.





The internet represents the greatest form of free speech in history. The world is becoming addicted to the power free speech has. Words and technology in today's society can be much more powerful an influence and a much greater addiction to prey on than drugs.

I don't find any fortune in the fact that Macs haven't had a virus attack, I only find the delay comforting. Let's not tease fate and think the Mac platform is immune. (Eventhough; Apple is very quick to address security flaws. There are fewer holes in the Mac OS than Windows.)

A slashdot article on the rise of Gangs using computer viruses instead of guns

[UPDATE] On April 8th 2004 a company called Intego that makes the Macintosh virus software Intego Virus Barrier made a press release that a Trojan Horse virus has made its way on to Macs. Just about EVERY website has now debunked the claim saying A) It's not even a virus (which it isn't ... nor is it a trojan horse) and B) This type of vulnerability has been around for years and is in and of itself benign because even though the virus code is there it cannot be executed.



Apparently, people have unknowingly downloaded files that look like MP3's - the virus is contained in the ID3 tag or the information tag that tells the artist, title, and track data for the song.

A very sharp eyed reader at MacRumors noted this graphic on the Intego website:


Can you say... "shameful marketing ploy"? Here's some interesting information from the who is record for the Intego.com website:

INTEGO
10 rue Say
PARIS 75009 FRANCE

Domain Name: INTEGO.COM

Administrative Contact:
WHITE, MARYCLARE (3167502I) mcwhite@intego.com
10 rue Say
PARIS 75009 FRANCE
33 1 55 07 27 27 fax: 123 123 1234

Technical Contact:
White, Maryclare (MW5519) mcwhite@TRANSEO.COM
Transeo


FOOTNOTE:

I found it quite ironic that most of the artwork and pictures I could find, through Google, about computer viruses; show Macs or Apple Computers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Hard Return: Man Returns Hard Drive Because He Never Got It!



As reported by Engadget:

Florida man buys hard drive, ends up with box of old batteries

[A Florida-area man claims to have been sold a box] that was supposed to contain a new Maxtor 300GB hard drive, and was instead filled with two D batteries and a “rusty yellow battery pack. Speculation is that either a foreign factory worker has some sticky fingers, or that a Staples employee is pulling some shady warehouse shenanigans (Retail employee theft? We'’ve never heard of such a thing!).


If companies refuse to honor a reasonable warranty (30 days unconditional or product does not perform as package states) then I have sometimes carefully packaged my old unit (of the same kind) taken it back, exchanged it for an identical item or gift card, and then returned that item to the store (or another store that carried it, if they wouldn't process it for me.)

Things like this happen quite often. RFIDs will stop this kind of thing eventually. RFIDs should also be able to track the full process of the sale from factory to distributor to buyer. So, a return such as this could be investigated all the way up the chain of manufacture and sale. In this case, if no "channel tampering" could be determined by the RFID, then the customer would be faulted (and arrested for fraud).

A store could easily eat this hard drive (because it was most likely $80 or so after rebate)

Staples corporate would have been wise to just keep this guy mum and appease him, ask him to sign a waiver, then investigate him.

When people such as this gentleman report this kind of thing to news outlets - something always smells funny to me. Competition? Vengeance? Fraud?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jack Classic: Are You Calling Me A Dummy?



This Jack Classic comes to you today because of this recent headline from MacMinute:

Jobs biographer to deliver keynote address MacFair 2005:

Jeffrey S. Young, author of "iCon Steve Jobs: The greatest second act in business history," will make his first public appearance in front of the Macintosh community since the book's publication at the Southern California MacFair 2005 on Saturday, November 5 at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California. This is the book that Steve Jobs tried to ban. Prior to the publication of the book, Apple pulled all of the books from the publisher John Wiley & Sons, from its Apple retail stores. Young's keynote address is titled: "What's Wrong with Steve and Right with Apple." His live presentation will begin at 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, November 5 and is open to all general admission attendees of the SoCal MacFair.


What kind of Mac "expo" or "Apple fan get together" has a hated author; keynote? I certainly would protest this event if I was in California. Read below to see if you should too!

Are You Calling Me A Dummy?

Cat Out Of The Bag ~ Michael Angelo


Listen to it & buy from Cat Out of the Bag

You know, I don't see what people see heavy handed about Steve Jobs telling Apple Stores to remove all the titles by Wiley & Sons press... because it plans to come out with an unauthorized & inaccurate biography on the life of Steve Jobs.

Many are stretching this into a pattern that is growing at Apple about being "Big Brotherish" like Microsoft - referring to the Rumor Site lawsuits and to the crackdown on the peer to peer network distribution of OS 10.4 developer prebuilds.

Wiley & Sons is the popular publisher of the Dummy Series of books. I have NEVER liked the demeaning titles called:

[SUBJECT] For Dummies

Believe it or not, quite a few people have never heard of such a book ... I have always found it insulting to a customer for them to find a book in a store that implied they are a dummy!

__________________________________________


As reported by MacMinute:

Apple Stores pull Wiley books over Jobs biography

Tech book publisher John Wiley & Sons says Apple has removed all of its titles from the company's retails stores in retaliation for an upcoming biography of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The author of "iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business," Jeffrey S. Young, said Wiley's books disappeared from Apple Stores last week after "a month of increasingly contentious discussions about publication of the book," according to the Mercury News. "It became increasingly clear that Apple was not happy with the publication of the book," Wiley executive Kitt Allan said Monday. "Recently, the meaning of that became clear when Apple told us that our technology books were immediately being pulled from their Apple retail stores. But, of course, Wiley stands behind our authors."


__________________________________________


Quick Semi-On-Topic Rant:

As for the San Jose Mercury News being the source material for this interview in the report above ... what the heck has happened between Apple and The Mercury News? They are becoming as bad as TellOnApple.org about insulting Apple and Apple Fan intelligence. Apple fans in the area should cancel their subscriptions. Besides, a relative of mine says it's more bias than the LA Times and isn't a good paper anyway!

Recently, the San Jose Mercury News was one of the first papers to side with Think Secret and The PowerPage - by writing an open letter to the judge in the case - stating that bloggers are journalists and have the 1st ammendment right to publish Apple Trade Secrets.

Of course, Jackwhispers readers know the facts:

1) Neither Think Secret or The PowerPage are BLOGs - they full blown commercial websites

2) Think Secret cannot, by law, report SPECIFIC information due to the UTSA


3) Think Secret is partnered with the former Apple resellers who are filing suit with Apple

4) The PowerPage & Think Secret are related in some way

5) The 1st Ammendment was originally meant as a law for redressing the goverment and does not truly grant free speech

6) The Think Secret lawyer at the EFF has a longstanding beef with Apple over iTunes and is the lawyer for an Apple hating website called downhillbattle.org

__________________________________________


Honestly, I wish Apple would have pulled the Dummy Series of books a long time ago and just kept David Pogue and O Reilly's How To Books.


I forsee a lot of customers in the Apple Retail Stores this Friday - possibly the biggest crowds EVER for an OS launch event. I'm glad none of the potential shoppers will have to look on the shelf to see the word "Dummies"!

[UPDATE] A post on Slashdot also brought up an interesting point ... the title conciously and subconciously portrays Jobs as a con man with the word "iCon" as the title.

Foggy Blogging Being Flogged


As reported by Slashdot:

"Senator Richard Lugar (R.-Ind.), a co-sponsor to the Free Flow of Information Act 2005, has said that he does not expect bloggers to receive the protections proposed by the shield law under consideration. From the article: 'Are bloggers journalists or some of the commercial businesses that you here would probably not consider real journalists? Probably not, but how do you determine who will be included in this bill?' The bill is supposed to restore the Free Press in the US, Lugar said. But how can that be when there's no definition of 'journalist'?"


I don't consider myself, Think Secret, AppleInsider, or MacMinute; journalists. My only protection, as far as I see it, is the truth. Think Secret is not protected by the constitution ( or the shield law ) because they report corporate trade secrets; which is the traffic of stolen property. It is equated to nothing less than fencing.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hating so many ... liking so few?

As this BLOG starts to get become more recognized I find that my critical emails indicate that Jackwhispers is a "whining and complaining site".

True? Possibly. There's not much news in praise, but if praise is necessary, here are some sites I recommend:



NEWS & TIPS:
XLR8YourMac.com
MacSurfer's Headline News
Apple History
MacMinute
ENgadget
MacRumors

SALES:
APPLE.COM (not meant to be a joke)

SERVICE:
TECHRESTORE

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Easy To Use & Upgrade Discontinued ...



Apple quietly discontinued the eMac yesterday.

I found this quote in the MacRumors forum:

Good Riddance...

You got the [Mac]mini that does as much or more now, get a monitor for $120, and you got something better than the eMac now


Actually - the MacMini is so much less than an eMac:

Notebook Hard Drive vs Desktop Hard Drive
Laptop Hard Drives are 4200RPM & 5400RPM / Desktop Drives are 7200RPM & faster

Notebook Optical Drive vs Desktop Optical Drive
Laptop optical drives are not available at retail and are months behind in technology & speed

One RAM slot that is inaccessable vs 2 easily accessable RAM slots
Max RAM on MacMini is 1GB vs 2GB on eMac / MacMini takes 10 minutes to add RAM vs eMac 2 minutes

Airport extreme hard to add vs eMac's easy to add slot
Same as RAM - extremely difficult and possible damage if you upgrade

The CRT on eMac were some of the best displays I have ever seen.
Color separation and response time on LCDs are no where near CRTs

There are no all in ones under $1299.99 anymore.

Personally, I think Apple could get away with a $799.99 LCD version of the eMac

Maybe we will see it again around "Intel inside" time.

...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Crumb From The Crust Of The Apple Pie


* photo credit: Robert Sorbo/AFP/Getty Images & MSN CNET


Microsoft Pays Real Networks 3/4 of a Billion

The day that Apple announces record quarterly revenue of $430 million, Real Networks announces a one day profit of $761 million after Microsoft has agreed to a court settlement.

Real Networks blames Microsoft for bundling Windows Media Player into the operating system for declining marketshare (and profits).

I say, Kharma is what hit Real Networks. Last time I looked The Rhapsody Music Store was losing money and was 4th in marketshare, behind the iTunes MusicStore's #1 spot of 86%. Not much in that #4 spot percentage ... maybe a crumb from the crust of the Apple Pie. (Incidentally, MSN's Music service is usually rated better than Real Rhapsody)

Another spin on this that readers may find interesting ...

Apple could easily make the same argument. Out of all the media players; Quicktime is BY FAR the best quality and most feature rich. I would imagine if Apple even suggests the subject of a lawsuit with Microsoft; Microsoft suggests the discussing the future of "The Mac Business Unit" at Microsoft.

Effectively, Microsoft kept a weak player from sinking. It's a shame that Apple will have to continue the headache of dealing with Rob Glaser; REAL CEO.

After all "ANAL" is the first part of "ANALYSIS"

$ $ $ $


As reported by MacMinute:

Apple's stock takes a dip

October 12 - Apple's stock price took a nose dive after the closing bell yesterday, reports Reuters. "After the closing bell, shares of Apple Computer Inc. slid almost 11 percent to $46.15 in after-hours trading on the Inet electronic brokerage system after the computer maker reported quarterly revenue that fell short of Wall Street expectations. It closed on Nasdaq at $51.59, up 2.4 percent."


The "Wall Street expectations" were solely based on higher iPod sales. But were those estimates for THIS QUARTER???

Apple reports on a different fiscal schedule than many companies and frankly I believe it is a contrbuting factor here. See, Apple's 4th Quarter of 2005 ended September 24, 2005. This included the months of July, August, and September. Apple's first quarter 2006 will include October, November, and December of 2005. The iPod Nano (which analysts included in their "estimates") was only released September 6, 2005!!!

I think "analysts" included iPod Nano sales for the full quarter which was expected to be about 3 million. Instead, for the reporting period, Apple shipped about 1.5 million Nanos.

I also have to make a [ JACKWHISPERS REDUNDANT COMMENT ] : The past few weeks have slowed iPod sales considerably due to the Rumor Mill proclaiming Video iPods. So folks, yes, Apple had a great quarter ... in fact, it was a record revenue quarter (in every sales aspect) but, look what happened to the stock ... were rumor sites (as I have suggested) partially to blame?

Here are some details of the quarter for reference:

Sales:

• 1,236,000 Macs sold
• 6,451,000 iPods sold
• 602,000 of the Macs were Desktops (PowerMac, iMac, eMac, Mac mini, Xserve)
• 634,000 of the Macs were Portables (PowerBooks, iBooks)
• More than a Million iPod nanos were sold within 17 days of its release.
• Mac OS X 10.4 revenue is approximately $35 million per quarter

Notes:
- Intel Based Macs still expected by June 2006. "Very cool" PowerPCs in the pipeline.
- iTunes Music Store Market share > 80%


That leaves 20% +/- for all other Music Stores with Napster being #2 with about 10%.

[UPDATE] Here is an interesting take on the financial results from The Register UK - concerning Gil Amelio (former apple CEO)

Ebert & Roper Give Apple Rumor Sites Two Thumbs Down




Found in the Macrumors forums:

[Analogy of the movie inustry vs Apple Rumor Sites] BUT...they do NOT go after rumor sites like AICN because it ONLY alienates fans and pisses people off. Plus, you’d spend your entire time filing lawsuits instead of making movies if you went after every rumor site out there.


But ... rumors concerning movies often encourage people to buy merchandise and to go to the movie. Movies are also previewed for critics ... Apple products are NOT previewed months in advance for critics. (At least ... not for critics/beta testers to publish "reviews") Rumors about Macs often discourage or delay purchases.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Other Side Of OtherWorld Computing: The True Story Of OtherWorld Computing And CEO Larry O'Conner

OWC


I have seen a disturbing pattern developing amongst a very popular Apple reseller in the Mac Community; Other World Computing. Larry O'Conner: Other World's CEO; is nothing short of the King of Acquisition as far as getting good deals and good contracts to pass along to his customers. I have bought literally thousands of dollars from Other World Computing over the years. Recently, I started to rethink my opinion of Mr. O'Conner, the way he does business, and my patronage.

First off, and this is honestly my biggest beef ... his sponsorship. Internet sales for Other World are enormous. Other World advertises on just about every Mac website I visit. Other World even sponsors my favorite Mac website: XLR8YOURMAC.COM. He is a big advertiser on DEALMAC.COM as well. (Another favorite of mine)

But, I have also seen sponsorships of Think Secret. Think Secret hurts Apple in every aspect of the word; not helps. To sponsor content there is abominable. A certified and authorized Apple reseller could also be construed as a source that feeds these rumor websites. Did you hear that Small Dog and PowerMax?

Second, I have had two problems with orders (out of around 50) where things went completely the opposite of the way they should go. One incident occurred when I ordered some USB wireless adapters back in January of 2005. Pictures (very small), full model number, and description were on the website upon order. Instead of receiving wireless adapters, I received wireless routers. After over an hour on the phone with limited customer service, I was able to get a return authorization approved. My RMA email stated that I needed to pay for return shipping. I called again and told them that my paying shipping costs was unacceptable. Long story short, I ended up speaking with Larry O'Conner directly through email a few days later and getting the issue resolved. Yet, I was still belittled with the excuse that staffing at the main store was limited due to employees being at MacWorld Expo in for the week and told that the description and picture were correct; the model number was incorrect. (Like it mattered and said so insistently like I was one who made the mistake.)

In case you think I'm an idiot because I couldn't tell the difference by the picture, here's the Belkin 6130 Router I received (top) and the Belkin 6050 wireless adapter (bottom) The pictures on the OWC website were 20% of this size:





Third, The Roadtrip. I did a story on the Roadtrip last year upon it's introduction. It's just lame to call a competing product the same thing. See, The Lame Game Of Using The Same Name for more details.



(Following links above will also provide readers with a great history of OWC)

Fourth, I noted that OWC was selling DVForge leftover merchandise. While this gave a lot, of credibility to my story about DVForge going out of business - I also see it as endorsement of Jack & Company and the carnage he brought to Apple and 3rd party Apple developers.

That brings us to today ...

A couple weeks back, I saw the press release for the Newer Technology NuStand Mini. This is an acryllic stand for your monitor that fits over the Mac Mini. Sounds cool right? It's $39.99 + shipping! Still sound cool? It's an acryllic file sorter you can get from ANY office store for less than $14.00! Still sound cool?




The worst thing about the product page is this statement:

NuStand Mini
Newer Technologies presents another in its line of innovative accessories for your Mac mini.


This exact same stand is sold by another manufacturer for much less (see www.plasticsmith.com)

Of course, Other World Computing's website is called MACSALES.COM.

See what Apple has to say about that:

The Mac Trademark

1. You may not use the Mac trademark standing alone except to denote or refer to the Apple Macintosh product line.

2. You may use "Mac" in your product name, company name, trade name, or service name provided your name satisfies the following criteria:

a. Your product is not a computer, computer system, or operating system software.

b. Your product is Mac compatible or the third party business is associated with Mac based computers.

c. "Mac" is used in combination with another non-generic word.

Acceptable: MacVenus MacCharlie

Not acceptable: MacCharleston MacSales

d. "Mac" does not appear more prominently than the rest of the name in size, color, or typeface.

e. Your name does not suggest a false association with Apple.

f. Your name is not confusingly similar to any trademark owned or used by Apple.

g. You acknowledge that Apple is the sole owner of the "Mac" trademark and that you will not interfere with Apple's use or registration of "Mac" alone or in combination with other words.


Apple actually uses the name MACSALES.COM as an example of a name you cannot use.

Finally, I wanted to address the talented, but "badboy hacker" employees at Other World.

Soon after iDVD came out; I remember OtherWorld releasing a utility that allowed Mac Users to utilize external drives to burn DVDs from iDVD. Essentially, you could buy one of Other World's External Drives and get a hack that allowed you to burn DVDs externally - a feature that Apple locked out of iDVD, but included in DVD Studio Pro. Good reason or not, valuable utility or not, and my personal opinion of the usefulness and immense value the utility has; put aside - it was not cool to undermine Apple in this way. iDVD is such a compelling reason to get a new Mac or to get the feature of DVD burning built in ... that many would opt for such upon purchase. When potential buyers heard of this utility, I am certain it cost Apple sales (but gained sales for OWC). Apple eventually sent a cease and decist and OWC complied.

I have never been able to find out whether Ryan Rempel, creator of the amazing utility; XPostFacto, that allows OSX to be installed on 7500-9600 Macs, is employed by Other World Computing. All indications are; yes, he is. This utility certainly sells processor upgrades for OWC. Again ... good reason or not, valuable utility or not, and my personal opinion of the usefulness and immense value the utility has; put aside - this has had a significant dent in the sales of new computers sold by Apple. I have used this utility personally on well over 100 Macs in my time as an Apple Technician. I have also made the association that this is one small reason Apple made the switch to Intel - to reduce the Apple processor upgrade market into nothingness.

Readers may think the last point, of useful software hacks being irresponsible to distribute; nitpicky. In a way it is, but it does illustrate a point that I find common to CEOs such as Larry O'Conner, Jack Campbell, Bill Palmer - they often bite the hand that feeds them and damned be the competition ... in business ... all tactics are fair. I say that because any of the other competitors could have released these utilities ... ANY! They chose not to though, because they are contractually bound, kharma aware developers!

See other stories on OWC by clicking on the OWC tag below.

Jack Classic: You Got To Be Real!



I thought I would post this Jack Classic because of today's $761 million dollar payday payout from Microsoft over antitrust issues with Windows Media Player and Real Player. (story to follow tomorrow)

You Got To Be Real! Real Networks Reputation REALLY On The Line

* originally posted July 29, 2004 *


Got To Be Real ~ Cheryl Lynn

I never have thought too much about Real (as in Real Networks) - the compressed internet video content delivery competitor to Quicktime. I've always thought the business model was questionable. The Free Realplayer is only free if you read ads, go through a very tedious registration and download process, and THEN get content that is about half the quality of Quicktime.

I hate to watch a movie trailer in REAL format. First of all, it doesn't even always play. Second it loads a cache file on to your desktop labelled as a .rm file. It's annoying to have throw these files away.

Compare these two movie trailers:

REAL (The Village) : REAL stream of The Village

AND

QUICKTIME (The Village): Quicktime Stream Of The Village

Beware, if you are on a PC or aren't using a pop up blocker in your Mac's browser. Real.com is FULL of pop ups. The website also installs spyware onto PCs.

In a little surprising move, Real announced this past week that they have used a hack to allow songs downloaded from Real's Music store to work on the iPod. Here's snippets from two news stories that should explain what's going on:

[UPDATE] - In an e-mail sent to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser suggested that the two companies form a "tactical alliance" against Microsoft in the digital music business. But if an alliance with Apple could not be struck, Glaser hinted that he might form a partnership with Microsoft to pursue "very interesting opportunities," according to the New York Times. Glaser reportedly asked Jobs to consider licensing Apple's Fairplay digital rights management technology to RealNetworks to allow users of the RealNetworks music service to play their digital music collections on iPods. In exchange, RealNetworks would make the iPod its primary device for its music store and for the RealPlayer software. ~ From MacMinute

[UPDATE] - "We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod, and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods." ~ Official Apple Press Release

Real uses the Hymn Project hack to acheive this. What kind of reputable company does this sort of thing?

The "technology" is called Real Harmony. It's more like Real Low Downy!

If you've ever listened to a Real Music Store song vs an iTunes Music Store song - thre is a quality difference. Apple's songs are much crisper and have higher treble response than Real songs. THIS IS one of the main reasons Apple doesn't want someone like Real - users may not remember which store they got the music from when playing it back. They might even associate a poor quality download with Apple or iTunes.

** Real has several names for it's Music Store: Rhapsody and Listen.com **


[UPDATE] Real CEO responds:

"RealNetworks has now responded to Apple's statement on its Harmony technology, which allows songs purchased from Real's online music store to be played on iPods. Real says that "consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod." The company goes on to say: "Apple has suggested that new laws such as the DMCA are relevant to this dispute. In fact, the DMCA is not designed to prevent the creation of new methods of locking content and explicitly allows the creation of interoperable software. We remain fully committed to Harmony and to giving millions of consumers who own portable music devices, including the Apple iPod, choice and compatibility."

"Harmony follows in a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility," Real says. "There is ample and clear precedent for this activity, for instance the first IBM compatible PCs from Compaq. Harmony creates a way to lock content from Real's music store in a way that is compatible with the iPod, Windows Media DRM devices, and Helix DRM devices. Harmony technology does not remove or disable any digital rights management system."



Note the statement, " independently developed paths " - this is an untrue statement, at least from what i've read. I've been following this very closely on Slashdot and it's a common sentiment that Real used Hymn, a program which strips the Digital Rights management from iTunes store songs, to assist in the devlopment of this program. Eventhough HYmn is open source, it would be a good time for an open source developer to make a case about rights and recognition under the GPL.

[UPDATE] Jackwhispers editor note: I wanted to add this rather insightful post from an anonymous poster on Slashdot.

"RealNetworks was hypocritical to demand Apple free up its iPods when its own Rhapsody song shop doesn't support Macs,""

HipBILLcritical



Excerpt from BillPalmer.net:

But the real kicker is that the bank's website, which once upon a time was rock solid, has become almost as much of a joke as the rest of the overall banking experience. The site goes down for "scheduled maintenance" every single Saturday evening and doesn't come back up until Sunday afternoon at the earliest, sometimes being down all day Sunday. And because this apparently isn't enough time for them to get done whatever they're doing behind the scenes, the site is more and more frequently down randomly during the week. Like everything else about this bank, it gets worse with every passing month.


This comes from the same person who is the webmaster at macmischief.com and a contributor at 2guysamacandawebsite.com ... neither site is updated regularly ... in fact MacMischief hasn't been updated in over a month. There have only been 18 updates this entire YEAR! (And to nitpick, the site offers nothing unique or breaking as far as news. His blog entry was one of the first in almost a month.)

Hmmmmm ... contradiction???

Followup with this Fix Your Thinking story: BillWhispers

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fix Your Thinking in the BLOG 100



Fix Your Thinking was chosen as part of the CNET BLOG 100.

The honor is is nice ...lol, but I got a crappy tag line.

"Among the plethora of Apple blogs, this one is not a standout but is worth the time for true fans."


Thank you to all the Fix Your Thinking readers that nominated this site or for C/NET choosing this site ... in a way that wouldn't stand out!

It actually is an honor to be right up there with iLounge, MacMinute, and Think Secret. Do you hear that advertisers?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hello, what's your name?



Locate Cellphone Calls <-- only click if you want to follow up and investigate this scam.

While on the topic of cellphones, I wanted to pass along information of a very clever scam that is making the rounds. My hometown has the largest penetration of cellphones in the country with almost 79% of all adults 16 and older having cellphones. This scam is particularly acute in my area and is spreading internationally.

Essentially it's a scam for cold calling cell phones to obtain your name and number.

Cellphone companies do not publish the numbers of their users, so companies have started to pop up that cold call number blocks to obtain this information "fraudulently".

Example: Area code + a known exchange number for Cingular + random last four digits ranging from 0000 & 0001 to 9999.


The "cold caller" then inquires like this: "Hello, may I speak to Sereda" (or some other uncommon name)

You say: "Sorry, you must have the wrong number."

The "cold caller" continues: "This is 555-555-5555 isn't it?"

You say: "Yes"

The "cold caller" continues: "What is your name? You are not Sereda Tuskavana?"

You say: "No, I'm Jack Whispers"

The "cold caller" hangs up, writes your name and number into a directory and then sells those numbers to the high bidder on their website.

So, just remember, never give out your name if you have a cellphone

The Cingular Logo Should Reflect An Amputee



Cingular gets Real for video

In a boost for Real Networks, Cingular said it would use the company’s video streaming software in a video service to be announced later this year. Cingular will also use Real’s RealArcade gaming software for downloadable games. The announcement comes as competition for cellphone video technology heats up. Verizon’s V-CAST is powered by Microsoft’s Windows Media technology.


So, if Cingular is a partner with Apple and Motorola over the ROKR line of cellphones; using an Apple Technology (iTunes), then why would Cingular not choose a BETTER standard like many Japenese cellular companies have: Quicktime?

It boggles my mind why companies would want to be so shortsighted as to not support Mac Users - typically wealthy influential creative types and hollywood types that embrace Macs also promote it subtly.

I believe the Cingular logo should look like this instead, because sometimes I don't think the head is on this little orange guy!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The claims between competitors ...



Bill Palmer made a press release on Thursday concerning iPod Nano "loading" - over the last 24 hours I have received several emails from varying sources asking me to post this:

From Bill Palmer's LoadPod website:

"LoadPod, the nation's leader in iPod loading services, came into existence in May of 2004 when iPodGarage.com Publisher Bill Palmer began searching for an iPod loading service that he could recommend to his readers. But because the iPod loading industry hadn't been invented yet, he decided to go ahead and invent it, building his own service from the ground up with the customer in mind."


From The RipDigital website:

RipDigital is a New York City-based LLC founded in 2002. The company provides CD conversion services to consumers, DJs, radio stations, hotels, restaurants and other entertainment and hospitality industry customers making the jump to digital music.


[ REDUNDANT JACKWHISPERS COMMENT ] RipDigital is the #1 service rated in the June 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics. LoadPod isn't even rated or mentioned as a "loading service" ( 9 other services are rated )

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Windshield Scare of 1954 / The iPod Nano Scare of 2005

iPod nano scratches

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Hysteria of 1954

The summary is that in 1954, some people started reporting tiny pits, chips and dings in their windshields. This prompted other people to carefully examine their windshields and, lo and behold, they found tiny pits, too! All kinds of culprits from cosmic rays to atomic bomb test debris to vandalism were considered, but the fact was that those defects in the windshields were always there, it's just that people had to look really closely to see them.


*** attributed to MacFanDave from the MacRumors forums

All Jacked Up


A reader pointed this song out to me and said I should post it. I like it!

Here's a link for the song at the iTunes Music Store:

ALL JACKED UP ~ Gretchen Wilson


All Jacked Up

Reading Between The Lines That Aren't There: How A Delaware Court Ruling May Affect The Outcome Of Apple Litigation Against Rumor Sites




As reported by Slashdot:


Your Rights Online: Court Rules in Favor of Anonymous Blogger
Posted on Friday October 07, @02:35AM

"The Delaware Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision requiring an Internet service provider to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger who targeted a local elected official. Judge Steele described the Internet as a 'unique democratizing medium unlike anything that has come before,' and said anonymous speech in blogs and chat rooms in some instances can become the modern equivalent of political pamphleteering. 'We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously,' Steele wrote."


I used to love Slashdot, but it was bastradizing the constitution such as this that made me leave - never to post there again.


The comments associated with the post are littered with a few that are trying to relate this to Apple's litigation against rumor sites to divulge information about sources of leaked trade secrets.

I am shocked that a judge would be so cretin in his decision and ruling - eventhough the case actually DOES relate to the protection provided in the constitution. Politcal speech is fully protected under the constitution. This case was about a blogger speaking of a local politician. I am pleased with the decision, but not the reason for the ruling, nor the way it is being construed.

"We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously"

I wasn't aware that that the 1st Ammendment said that. Need proof?

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


I don't see a right to speak anonymously.

This ruling, which was applied to political free speech can NOT be remotely tied into Apple's request of the courts to divulge trade secret leaks. Think Secret, AppleInsider, and The PowerPage do not report news of national security, political meaning, or even "need to know".

Trust me, these Apple rumor sites are milking this for all the press they can get. Frankly, it disgusts me.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Taking Advantage Of The Apple News


I received an email last night that I thought worthy of addressing:

Jackwhispers,

Your site isn't updated as often as it used to be. I remember you criticizing several sites that aren't updated regularly in the past. Don't you think that's being a little hypocritical?


Actually, eventhough it doesn't show, I'm spending about an hour of my 18 hour days; at this point, transitioning Jackwhispers completely to this BLOG.

So, while there doesn't seem to be frequent updates, the Jackwhispers BLOG is actually being updated every day.

That said, I accept the critique and should have this transition completed by Mid October. I'll try to post some of the features such as JackWords, Jack Classics, JackLooks, or Con-versations soon.

Lastly, in partial defense, there isn't a lot of controversial or newsworthy scams making the rounds in the Mac Community at the moment. Which is actually a good thing.

I do have a promise to readers though:

I am working on a story that will be far more controversial than anything I reported on Jack Campbell, Jason O'Grady, or Bill Palmer. It will focus on a very well known and respected Apple Reseller and it's CEO. Stay tuned for more juicy details. As always ... I have to verify and then reverify my information before I publish it.

Thank you again for your patience while I grow this site and my other business ventures ...

Philip

Jackwhispers editor

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rumor Has It: Apple Doesn't Like Rumor Sites



By The Time It Got To The Other End Of The Room:
Interesting Notes About Mac Rumormongering and It's History


Recent Apple lawsuits concerning leaks of information on the internet prompted this editorial. I have to admit, I like to read www.macrumors.com. A lot of intelligent people post there and a lot of inquisitive people ask great questions there as well. That said, it is my opinion that rumor sites sometimes HURT Apple. They most certainly have effects on Apple's retail prices. These lawyers and web site combers cost big bucks. I would say the MAIN focus of Apple's attorneys are rumor sites.

Here is a link to a previous lawsuit about rumormongering in the Apple Community

Another reason I started this site was because I wanted to alert buyers and sellers to some common pitfalls within the Mac Community. Pitfalls, that if we all avoid, give us more time and more energy, also to mention; money saved.

Mac Rumor sites are often a hot topic around this time of year. Several of the better known sites: MacOSRumors, MacRumors, Think Secret and AppleInsider come out with their predictions. Often they summarize what they have been saying for the past few months. During the times, just before Expos - Apple sales almost fall flat. Last January (2003) expectations were SO HIGH for new things to come from Apple, that it was reported, after, as a major disappointment to keynote attendees.

This expo is being reported in a simailar fashion. Expectations were for a new device from Apple. There were high expectations for a new line of speedbumped G5's. Some rumor sites even had people expecting a surprise G5 PowerBook release.

I admit that I read a certain Apple rumor site every day. Sometimes, I read it several times a day. The reason; out of all the rumors sites, it's the only one with a conscious. It's the only rumor site that regularly reminds readers that they should
never put off a purchase, take most rumors with a grain of salt, and also does a rumor rating. Before and after a "big rumor period" MacRumors will give a breakdown of who was right and who was wrong.

Apparently, Apple rumormongering is a big business. It's one of most hit topics on Google around expos. Apple advertisers pay high dollar to be featured on rumor sites. Personally, I avoid any retailer that advertises on a rumor site; OTHER than those promoted on MacRumors. Still; they tend to overlap.

One of the biggest fiascos in the Mac Rumor Community is the site; SpyMac. In the the summer of 2001, SpyMac perpetrated an elaborate hoax - "An Apple PDA: iWalk". The "iWalk" was a pure fabrication as a publicity stunt. Although, the whole time, and still to this day, it isn't refuted it was a hoax. Another interesting point about this site; they have very rude, very obnoxious moderators. These moderators troll the web and look for any post that has a disagreement with SpyMac; then turn any topic, in a forum; off topic.

SpyMac also claims that they are now a Mac User Group. To my knowledge; a Mac Users group can not participate in the subject of rumors; at least publicly. In November 2003, several articles popped up on SpyMac, that were made by moderators, talking of rumored Griffin Technology accessories. When confronted about the issue; SpyMac claims that any
post by a moderator, or in its forums, do not make it a Rumors Site. Well, if that doesn't; what about the name?? (hello....it's SpyMac)

One thing is for certain. The webmasters behind all the Mac Rumors sites know what their audience wants. They also are very talented web programmers. SpyMac, in particular, is one of the most elaboarate sites within the whole Mac Web Community. The look and feel of that site makes it seem credible for just about anything they could publish. I don't see how anyone could trust their information with this site after the "iWalk" fiasco. (In order to participate in the "SpyMac Network"; you have to register. )

Before the old JackWhispers site was taken down, I had posted a quote in the quotes section:

"The shiniest used car in the used car parking lot, is usually; the lemon"


That quote is the sentiment of this website conveyed perfectly. I don't claim to have a pretty site here. It isn't layed out optimally. Some parts aren't written well. Over time I hope to correct that. But, rumors sites lure you in with flashy graphics, forums, and that "you heard it first" feel.

Most rumors hurt Apple. They hurt not only its sales, but its stock price. Look closely at the trend. Notice anything? Look at how Apple stock prices have been affected around expo times; January, May, July. Typically, Apple has posted it's worst quarters in January. This ties in to the rumors sites. Rumors sites are the most active in November and December.

Now back to the quote. What if a company that would like to start making 3rd party Apple applications or hardware - read all the rumors sites? Say none of the rumors came true; mostly, as MacWorld Expo on January 6, 2004. What if they felt they should delay their product or software? The rumor might still come true ... right? What if they delay their game, and then are bought out by a larger company that ceases the development of that game for the Mac Platform; as part of the restructuring of that company.

(Can anyone say Halo?)

"Part of the reason Halo has been delayed for the Mac is that we are waiting for better hardware on the Mac at a consumer level- rumors sites have indicated we may see that soon" ~ Bungie Rep


Another reason I chose to do this story is its relation to Jack Campbell. Jack was a longstanding member, with a big profile at SpyMac. In March of 2003, Jack launched MacWhispers.com. This site was often criticized for blatantly inaccurate rumors. It was also a rather unique spin on rumormongering. Jack claimed his source of information was the raw materials and suppliers of components to Apple. If true, this would have been coercion. MacWhispers (as with all of Jack's sites) and SpyMac are some of the most beautifully laid out sites on the internet. SOME people might even think Apple sponsored them.

(Following the link above will also help you understand MacWhispers/JackWhispers redirection and provide a little history to this site)

At best, Mac Rumors sites are bordering on libel. Apple often has to send cease &
decist letters to these sites. How much do you think that costs Apple every year? Consider; this is a cost that NO OTHER computer maker has. Dell doesn't have a rumors site. HP doesn't have a rumors site. The PDA industry is just about the only comparison. There are a lot of sites that prerelease PDA specs and pictures. BUT, and there's a big "but", these sites have a miniscule following and have little, to no effect, on sales.

I have good insider knowledge, myself, that one rumor site MAY have pissed Steve Jobs off so MUCH, that he got angry enough to destroy the flat panel iMac at its introduction - we would have seen it SIX MONTHS earlier.

Around expo time; in the summer and winter - many sites dabble in Apple rumor-mongering to get hits. These sites are USING YOU as a consumer and stealing thunder from the established sites. My advice: If you have to find out ahead of
time - visit www.macrumors.com OR visit a site that lays all Mac News out in a headline style posting: MacSurfer

A breakdown of Mac Rumors sites:

MacRumors.com: provides the most fair and balanced rumors - best forums
Great rumor wrapup - tries to avoid inaccuracies - updated often

MacOSRumors: shuts down if there's no news/ficticious reader emails. Posts ficticious "server was down" messages if no news - poor writing

AppleInsider: Accuracy in question - new owners - updates rare. Used to be premeir rumors site - similar problems to MacOSRumors

Think Secret: Nick DePlume (alias for Nick Ciarelli) - usually amazingly accurate - may be coercing buddies with complainers - mostly created as a revenge site by the disgruntled

PowerPage: Posts rumors for hits - ficticious rumors.

LoopRumors: no longer published - mostly inaccurate back in biz but not accurate; mostly a hoax Appears to have been published as a publicity stunt

MacWhispers: used to be Jack Campbell's Rumor site, no longer published MacWhispers "force resigned" from the web - now redirects to Jack Campbell's Technically True BLOG (that hasn't been updated in two months)


Advice to Mac software and hardware developers - have a policy of "no comment". Also, maintain strict Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) with your employees & suppliers. If you don't protect your items from the prying eyes and radar ears of
the rumor sites - you may just find YOUR product released by someone else; capitalizing on your niche.

[UPDATE] MacOSRumours was offline for more than 3 months. They didn't have the dirt to report. In their time of being MIA there were accurate rumors from Think Secret & MacRumors.com, but I would imagine that the lack of news acquistion on the part of MacOSRumors kept it down. If they would have chosen the old path of just making rumors up, they would be completely discreditted. As The Apple Turns did a story on this a week ago. Funny, when I went to ATAT I found this article too.



Since the posting of this story, MacOSRumors has returned, but almost never creditted with a good scoop any more. AppleInsider has been back in full swing and has had a pretty decent track record so far. They don't REALLY report rumors though, just seem to recycle others speculations. Think Secret continues to post anything that can harm Apple. Macrumors continues to be the site with the top information and best analysis and opinion site. [This is due to it's reader focus and forums]

_____________________________________________


There isn't much going on this week on the technology or Apple related scam front. At least there's nothing that I find interesting. I've noticed that I'm not the only one who doesn't have news to report. The typical Mac News websites would have you believe this has been a busy week.

I suppose a headline that caught my attention this week was Sony's announcement that no new Clie PDAs will be released in the US for calendar year 2004. For those of you not familiar, the Sony Clie is a handheld unit that uses the Palm OS. In my opinion they have been WAY ahead of the curve - innovating in the PDA market. My feelings are if Apple made a PDA - it would closely resemble the Clie.

Notice how I reported the news vs how MANY other websites reported it:

Out of the examples here, I think MacMinute came the closest; "Sony To Halt Handheld Sales In The US".

What you have here is a case of there being no news this week amongst the Mac Web, so you have headline theft. The story originated on Slashdot which was reported incorrectly to begin with.

The actual news was that Sony was releasing so many new products that it was surpassing demand for components. In particular, OLED and LCD displays. The Clie PDAs use a significant number of high end small LCDs (display screens). Sony is about to ramp up volume production of the PSP and Sony HDAV. The PSP is Sony's Playstaion portable device to compete with the Nintendo Gameboy. It is being touted as the biggest potential product launch in history. With the Playstation already being Sony's current bread and butter, you can see why they may want to hold off on other less successful product lines. (Eventhough the Clie is marginally profittable too)

Any of these headlines would make you think that Sony is going to stop selling their original and highly integrated PDAs for good. In fact, the Sony CEO said they plan to reintroduce Clies in the US in early 2005.

Many Mac news websites, during slow news times, just make headlines up. I would say the most guilty party is The PowerPage. O' Grady's PowerPage used to be a great site with lots of current and original information. Now, when news is slow, or hit totals are low, the site just participates in headline theft from Slashdot or a website called Mobile9.com. Then there are sensational journalism stories that are isolated compalints blown into universal problems that "could ruin Apple if they don't fix it" - a common ending statement in these stories. Occasionally, there are some reviews mixed in - but usually these reviews are are for products that are 4 product cycles old. Recently a review of a bluetooth headset was given. It was a really good review. Problem is: The headset had been out 8 months and a new model had come on to the market 2 weeks PRIOR to the review.

When most Mac news websites post a complaint about a video problem; the hypochondriacs come out of hiding. The PowerPage, in particular, seems to have a following of hypochondriacs. Another site, MacRumors (which is a very good site) relies on the hypochondriac to keep news flowing.

So what do I expect here? Should websites just not report anything? No, there's lots of stuff to report on slow days. MacCentral often reports product releases as news. Until recently, these "product releases" labelled as "press announcements" didn't carry a picture, it was just a hyped up wordy product pitch; sent directly from the manufacturer of the product. These "press releases" smell especially fowl because it seems like MacCentral may be getting paid to publish some of them. For instance; Epson releases a new LCD projector. A long wordy "press release" shows up on MacCentral about a product that has nothing really related to Macs and certainly has no new groundbreaking feature set or price point. What's the motivation to posting a story like that? Who cares? Here's who: the editor that gets a loaner projector or advertising dollar "considerations".

"I create news on websites"


I often create news on websites. I try to post to 4 websites every day in various forums. Often, I try to correct stories or add a different perspective to them. Some of those forum posts make it to my Slashdot Journal, some make it here. I use other website's forums as a way to microadvertise my opinions and my website. My website, in turn, advertises for my sales and auctions. I try to get attention by positive word of mouth, and by curiousity of the difference in opinion. I also try to add elements to this website that draw visitors for other things than just whining about problems or needing something. There are few Mac-centric websites that I know of that have a compelling reason to be on them other than forums. I would say the best website on the internet for Macs and related topics is XLR8yourMac.com It's not beautifully laid out. The website occasionally has blatant advertisements, but the main advertiser; Other World Computing, often has a quick blurb, that is posted like a friendly email. I think it's a unique approach to advertising and because I like the site and don't think it's websmaster/site owner is an ad whore, I patronize Other World Computing - sometimes - even if they are higher.

"I bring hits to websites"


I may be having delusions of granduer here. Yes, my narcissitic side comes through every now and then. So, that was your preface. I believe some of my comments in various forums get others to post and participate. The problem is, usually my posts are an opposite point of view. (Not intentionally, just my honest view) Again, you can reference last week's story.

So, what has my honest, carefully researched opinion gotten me? Well I've been banned from posting on three websites. If I create news and I bring hit totals higher and my "opinions" aren't refuted, then what would I be banned for? Well, often, webmasters are "self proclaimed Gods". They take no criticism. They make no improvements. They make no mistakes. After I did a story on PaypalSucks.com my IP address was banned so I can no longer post on the website. Interesting how this website doesn't ban people who obviously have mental problems and multiple personalities. Last week I was banned from The PowerPage. I had an instant message conversation with Jason O Grady over the issue - he was the rudest, most foul mouthed, baby of a person, I think I've ever chatted with. Of course, I was banned from posting on PDABuzz after I pointed out that the contest that was held in December on the site, was a fake. It still was never disclosed if any of the winners (who weren't actual participants in the contest) got their prize.

These webmasters must take me for an idiot. In fact, Jason O'Grady [of OGrady's PowerPage] called me exactly that. All one has to do is; mask their IP address and post away, or simply post from another location. If I find a story horribly inaccurate (which is often) on the site, I'll just register under a different IP and name and make my voice heard. Of course - now this story will make it into Google searches. Hopefully, an advertiser or two (that contributes to the O'Grady website) will see it. I hope that they will take note of the information here.