Saturday, April 15, 2006

Electronic Arts Missing CD-Key Hell

I'm too tired fighting them to tell the whole story right now, but yesterday I received a purchase from EA (bought at the EA online store) and the CD-Key was missing from the back of the manual (the designated location). So far I've spent about 4 hours, 3 phone calle, 2-emails and 1 fax trying to get a CD-Key. And guess what? I still don't have a CD-Key so my game CD is merely a coaster at this point.

So far I've received no reply from the fax and a different answer from each e-mail and phone call. The answers range from we can't do anything, to be sure to keep your your CD-Key in a safe place (which I have never had), to "send us the manual."

Come on folks, it just shouldn't be this difficult for a legitimate user who can document their purchase to rectify this situation! BTW, there is no direct phone line I that can find for the EA Store -- it all goes through EA support and is passed on to the store. It appears that their warranty is worthless because you can't get through to them to even get an RMA and I'm not sending anything back without documentation and authorization.

Funny, but I've done nothing wrong. I received a defective product, and now I have to jump through oh so many hoops. This experience cleary tells me there is a major problem at Electronic Arts. I see this as a deeply flawed support system and corporate culture. I venture to say that they've already spent more in support costs than they made from my $20 purchase. It is a lot to lose over $20. Of course, I've already spent more time and energy than I should have on it. If this were my customer, I would at the least have sent them a new copy of the game with a call tag to return the defective one.

Not only that, but we all know that they could simply call or e-mail me with a CD-Key. That would solve the problem. But for fear that I might be a pirate, they are cutting off their proverbial nose to spite their proverbial face. Funny but they have all the documentation of the purchase since I bought it from their store. What I'm not willing to do right now is send back my manual back to an address with no person or department designation. That was just one of their many requests, which came late today, after I had already faxed them scans of the front and back of the manual -- a project that took me close to an hour, since I'm not set up to fax.

Those who know me know I'm computer literate and Web savvy. If I'm having this trouble, I can just imagine what happens to some poor kid. Is the plan for me to give up and buy another copy if I really want it? I wonder how many people do just that. This seems to be a company in disarray and entrenched in a stance that we are all pirates to the detriment of its legitimate customers. Of course, no company can sustain that attitude towards its customers forever. I'll really think twice about any more of my money ever going to EA again.

Update: 4/15/2006

This morning there was a CD-Key in my e-mail inbox. I'm certainly mollified, but it still took an awful lot of effort.

Vista has a surprise for pirates!

I see Microsoft is moving forward in their war on Pirates. I say good for them!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Does Your Wi-Fi Hotspot Have an Evil Twin?

I'm not sure what I was doing mid-March, but I missed this entirely. If you use WiFi and haven't heard of the Evil Twin yet, then you need to read this.

One more thing to look out for.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Buy's 'Geek Squad' Accused of Pirating Software

I know I risk whatever journalistic karma I might have by citing Fox News, but this was just too good to pass up.

It seems Best Buy's vaunted Geek Squad has been using software they didn't buy. At least the evidence was strong enough to get an injunction in Federal Court.


Google, eBay and Amazon to Build Own Internet?

Easy now! It's all speculation, fueled by articles like the one above, where Investor's Business Daily's Reinhardt Krause opines that, now that the telcos have gotten permission to extort more money from sites that generate loads of traffic (irrespective of the fact that we, the users, have already paid for the bandwidth once) the "Big 3" sites will simply build their own Internet.

There are huge chunks of radio spectrum up for auction soon. Google could probably afford to do this alone, but will almost certainly combine with the others, and perhaps more partners are in the wings. The rumors say they'll put up a national wireless Internet access system. In reality, it will most likely exclude thinly populated areas, just like everyone else does when their grand plans are detailed. Even so, wouldn't it be nice to see the telcos stuck on their own spit and roasted over the lost income?

This is one to watch.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Microsoft releases critical Internet Explorer patch

None of my computers received this patch automatically yesterday. I was unwilling to wait, since so much doesn't work without ActiveX. I went ahead and got the patch yesterday evening using Microsoft Update.

I learned a lot about how many programs use ActiveX for one kind of Web access or another theses past few weeks. I wish we could all do without ActiveX but life without it is miserable in Windows. Trying to figure out what needs to go into the Trusted Zone if ActiveX is turned off in the Internet Zone is no small task. I never could get the Microsoft site to work even though I made everything that came up blocked there as "trusted".

Intel's chip management system has security hole

This could be really serious or simply a theoretical attack vector. My best guess is that it is serious and that we will be seeing a lot about this in the next week or two.


Free Anti-Virus for the Mac OS X

I run ClamAV on all my Linux machines. I have not bothered to try it on Windows boxes, though there is a Windows port and binaries available. The main reason I run it on Linux is to prevent my inadvertantly infecting the Windows machines on our LAN and those belonging to folks who have me work on them. I frequently transfer files back and forth to these machines and it is possible I might infect them without this precaution.

Mac OS X users tend to feel safe from malware, but this is an illusion. Exactly how much danger they are in is definitely debateable and the actual danger is probably relatively small. Even so, if I were you, I would run AV software as a basic precaution against any danger that might arise.

ClamAV is free, open source software. It is of a high quality and well maintained. It is very frequently updated. It also does not take much in the way of computer resources. Frankly, there is no reason I can see not to run it. I have installed and used the Mac OS X port, though only for a few hours. It seems to work as well in OS X as in Linux.

Click the link above and check it out. Be safe.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

geekmeet06 Wiki!


Last year, Leo and I had a brainstorm at the same time. And I just remembered it.
It seems like Geek Meets are the perfect use of a wiki. So, what did I do? You ask yourself. ;)
I created one! :)
It even has an RSS feed (copy and paste to your aggregator, you DO use an aggregator, right????), and it is totally free! What more could you ask for??? Oh yeah! People contributing to it!
I've got a to do list, a wish list and the website info. So, check it out, change it. Go wacky! :)
What's a wiki???? The grandfather of all wiki's has an explanation, of course.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Webaroo takes the internet offline

This reminds me of what AvantGo does for PDAs, only for laptops. I'm downloading it now to give it a try.

"The software works by downloading sections of the internet to a portable device. Webaroo's servers then scour the internet to create relevant packs of information from which users can choose.

'Once you download web packs or websites onto your mobile device, you can search them anytime, anywhere without a connection,' said a statement on the Webaroo website.

The company provides packs on topics including news and sports, as well as information on major cities such as London and New York.

'As mobile use grows, consumers want to be able to do more with their mobile devices,' said Webaroo chief executive Rakesh Mathur."

Build Your Own Linux Supercomputer Cluster

It will forever be a joke among the show's listeners and my other friends that I once experimented with running a cluster of 486s. (Thanks to all for only using kind humor. No one has ever been mean to me over it.)

I am not enough of a programmer to pull that off, but I had a lot of help. The link above will take you to an article at detailing basically how mine was done, though things have advanced since then and that is reflected in the article. If you've ever had a curiosity over it, or just want to run your seti totals up, you can do this. It is not easy, but neither is it beyond a dedicated hobbiest with a friend she or he can talk into doing the heavy coding. You do not need specialized hardware or matched machines. Just a few old Linux boxes and some sort of problem to apply the finished product to.


Intel Pentium D 805 is a bargain basement processor

This was posted at The Inquirer during the show, today.

Basically, the Pentium D 850 is Intel's last generation dual core. If you build a machine around one, nobody is going to faint at the specs. Even so, it is much less expensive than any comparable dual core chip and gives tremendous bang for the buck. The article points out that you can build a very powerful dual core box for very little money, compared to other solutions. I found the idea attractive and think those of you who lean toward rolling your own might want to read this.


White Paper Repository at The Register

Okay; I realize most of you don't get quite as excited over IT industry white papers as Peter and I do. However; they are a good way to learn about what is going on and what some folks think will be going on in the reasonably near future.

The Register has started a repository of such papers. You have to sign up for it, but there are several teasers linked to from the link above that you can read without signing up. I just got done with one about how businesses will likely go slow in adopting Microsoft Vista. Don't worry; they're not all that obvious. You might want this url as a resource. I do.


Giant retro microphone PC surfaces

If this doesn't bring a smile to your face, nothing in computing will. This is not a case mod, but a complete case made from scratch. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 09, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 04-09-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 04-09-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.