Tag Archives: Internet People

PayPal are evil.


Edit: They fixed it. Thanks for being so scary, internet!

Edited edit: According to the latest post on Regretsy, they have not yet been contacted.

PayPal do bad things. Do a google search. If you can’t be bothered, just know that there is a website called PayPalisEvil, as if you needed more proof. Of course there’s also a website called BertisEvil, but don’t let that tarnish my argument.

Bert (right) has been said by The Internet to be evil. Sesame Street and Ernie (his friend and advisor) deny these claims.

EDIT: also look over here to see what they did to Katrina victims /end edit

The latest and most shocking example of PayPal’s money-grabbing disregard for anything that doesn’t have a dollar sign on it comes courtesy of Regretsy.

The whole shitstorm can be read in detail on Regretsy, which is excellent. This year the site had set up a PayPal “Donate” button to try and help some needy kids and families in the Regretsy community at christmas time. Such was the generosity of the donations that in addition to toys and gifts, Regretsy were actually in the position to send money to the families too.

That is until PayPal shut it down. They decided the Donate button had been used fraudulently by Regretsy and so froze the donated money and the personal account of the site owner, which is all of her revenue from book sales etc. It will be held for six months.

I don’t have precise anatomical knowledge of how exactly having no heart makes you evil, but I’m fairly certain that a pericardiectomy is a prerequisite for a job at PayPal.

EDIT: Scroll to near the bottom of this post at Green Geeks to see why PayPal are wrong according to their own policies.

How can you help?

Regretsy provided this list of every available point of contact that The Consumerist could find. Bother them!

PayPal’s Facebook team are doing a pretty good job of deleting every mention of this posted on their wall, but do keep trying and perhaps something will happen. They’ll be annoyed if nothing else and the Karmic Balance will be redressed somewhat. Be polite, though.

Another good idea and brilliant course of action is to try and get The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to cover this. Their facebook pages are also currently overflowing with links to the Regretsy post. If you’re unfamiliar with either of these shows, please spend a few minutes on YouTube addressing that problem.

This is adorable

EDIT: This is the most adorable call to action I've ever seen.

Please be polite when contacting any of these places. Please and thank you.

Any suggestions or other links are welcome, I’ll stick them up there. Regretsy is a website trying to do some good, PayPal is a company doing something objectively evil for no discernible reason.

EDIT: A change.org petition has been put up for you to sign and vent your outrage into an ordered list.

Seriously, PayPal. You’re evil. Shame on you.

Shame on you PayPal

Shame.

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How to be an internet crazy person.


More and more people are becoming familiar with ways of compartmentalizing their identity online. Almost anyone now realises that a new gmail or hotmail account is free and an easy way of having a new mask for every party, so to speak.

Elaborate web hoaxes are easy to create but where many creators fall down is their ignorance of IP addresses. Having several sock puppet accounts to post comments or edit articles is all very well, but if they all share an IP address it’s a lot of wasted effort and a huge trail of evidence.

Sad Sock Puppet

What a sock puppet may look like

Earlier this year a simple trace of IP addresses revealed the popular Gay Girl In Damascus Blog to be a hoax by an MA student in Edinburgh. Johann Hari, a journalist, was revealed to have a strange web of plagiarism and alter-egos to protect his reputation. He created a sockpuppet in order to edit wikipedia entries that, surprise surprise, shared an IP address with The Independent, his place of work.

Creating a sock-puppet and then failing to change your IP is like opening your front door to a door-to-door seller and smiling politely before closing your door, putting on a hat then screaming abuse at them. It is still obviously, provably you. A less fun analogy is that your IP address is your internet phone number, so let’s learn how to put 141 at the beginning, yes?

The easiest way to be an internet lunatic and master of many sock puppets is to use a web proxy. There are dozens of free ones online, used by school children across the globe to get past their school’s website restrictions because even IT teachers don’t know this basic stuff. HideMyAss.com is the first proxy to come up in a google search so let’s use them as an example.

HideMyAss.com. Now you know how to hide your ass.

All Johann Hari or the creator of Gay Girl in Damascus needed to do was jump on google and use a proxyserver. It’s the simplest thing in the world but they are both n00bs and failed to cover their tracks.

Don’t be an internet n00b AND an internet crazy person. Think of the shame wrought on your family, the titters in your obituary when it’s discovered that you were an utter boob Think of the equivalent-of-blogs-in-the-future where they use you as a quaint example of a naive internet pioneer. Think of the blogs in the present who use you as an example of how-not-to-do-it!

Use a proxy server!

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Online Abuse


The Guardian had a piece on their website yesterday about what to do with sexist abuse online.

A reasonable suggestion from XKCD

XKCD: This will never not be a reasonable suggestion

The Guardian panel provide mostly reasonable suggestions that warrant further discussion. But the first woman, Helen Lewis-Hasteley’s comment about “Why should people pay for you to promote that opinion?” completely misses the point of how the internet works. The advertisers are paying for people to promote any opinion they like, on sites that aren’t moderated at least. On sites that are moderated, advertisers are paying for the moderators to be there so that some sort of order and civility is built into discussions. God knows people on the internet are far less able to be reasonable and measured than people in the street. The internet is like real life except with the thrill of anonymity that sitting behind a screen provides. It removes some of the humanity from others and you feel free to see them as words you hate rather than a person with whom you disagree.

You would never say, if someone were to yell obscenities in the street, “I can’t believe the council are maintaining the pavement for the person to stand and yell abuse.” Of course the abuse online is often more explicit, more threatening and less legal. Helen Lewis-Hasteley does not refer to that type of abuse when she says that advertisers shouldn’t pay, although of course illegal threats are covered in what she says. She specifically says that people shouldn’t be allowed to call her “shrill or ugly or whatever.”

I agree that rudeness is hardly an upside to having an opinion online, but I wouldn’t expect advertisers to stop paying for it any more than I’d expect local authorities to whip the pavement from under the person who pushes in front of me in the bus queue or starts a highly original and catchy chorus of “oi, ginger.” It’s tempting of course, and far easier to do online, but I think general ass-hattery in the form of assuming any woman with an opinion is shrill and ugly and whatever is very different than assuming every woman with an opinion deserves to be raped and beaten.

I think moderated comments online are necessary to a degree but censoring sexism doesn’t make it go away. If you’ve ever run into someone who’s convinced that women run the world, like… Beyonce…

censorship would be counterproductive in the extreme. Confronting and challenging sexism like the woman in the video doesn’t even make it go away. I would never suggest that she stop trying, because that’s an awesome video.

So, violent rape and death threats to women with opinions. Bad. V. bad. Should be removed. Sexist asshattery? Leave it be and point out how absurd it is. If someone tells me to shut up and make them a sandwich when I disagree (it’s funny the first fifty times, after that, not so much) or to get in the kitchen where I belong or any number of stereotypes that died before the commenter was born, I’ll have a word. Several words. A couple of expletives if need be. If we hide stuff like that away, it isn’t a problem and we don’t need to deal with it. Maybe that’s why we do.

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with the fact that every post here seems to revolve around me addressing some issue to do with my chromosomes. One day I’ll go on a website and see some great injustice involving unfair distribution of puppies and rainbows. That’d be nice.

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Local Gaming and Newcastle’s Continued Export of Idiots


I read something last week and haven’t really had a spare minute since to vent my frustration with what Grainger Games got up to at this years Games Media Awards. They basically lived up to everybody’s worst idea of a gamer which is to say a rowdy, laddish inarticulate mess. Conveniently that is also everybody’s worst idea of a geordie.

This is the thing that intimidates people who go into places like Grainger Games. Having worked previously in a second hand games store I know that the the scary gruff men are actually lovely humans who want to help anybody from noob to qualified nerd. I was somewhat intimidated as a wee lass by the men who worked in games stores. I convinced myself gradually, especially having had a job in that environment, that it only appears uninviting and exclusive. When it comes to actually experiencing the community, they’re all people and it’s all good. Apparently the iffy, laddish vibe I get from Grainger Games was not unwarranted.

full of iff and lads

Grainger Games: Iffy and Laddish

Booth Babes! And dwarves. Condoms on tables. I’m not even sure how to prioritize my incredulity. AND everything was bright orange, as if it weren’t bad enough. This only adds fuel to my ongoing suspicion that women are only welcome in the gaming community if they’re half naked. I know that this isn’t true, but  is it hard to find any visual evidence. In addition to this macho-man uniform they were keen to enforce at the event, condoms were strewn across the dinner tables. Should any of the attendees have been overwhelmed by their masculine desire to fuck something, there would at least be no embarrassing rash. This sort of idiotic display of masculinity is exactly what encourages hostility from people who are convinced that girls don’t play games.How could they possibly survive in such a testosterone-charged environment? It’s shit like that that makes me wish I didn’t.

Not only were GG generally offensive in their message, but their behaviour. They have embarrassed the organisers, who posted a message on their website to apologise. They made a complete arse of themselves and the people who were trying to accept rewards. They were the talk of the industry, but perhaps not in the way their sponsorship had intended. Here’s the lovely JamSponge with further thoughts (I got this link from the gizmodo article)

Now, this would all be annoying enough if it were just some random shop. It’s bad form and shitty behaviour from an indy retailer. Indy retailers should be encouraged, but it’s hard to encourage this sort of thing. However, as somebody from Newcastle who regularly shops in one of the several Grainger Games stores about the place, this is just heartbreaking. Recently this region seems to have specialised in the export of idiots. This doesn’t bother me when it’s on X-Factor or Big Brother because it’s not the sort of thing I consume. As far as I’m concerned it’s local shit as opposed to national shit. When it’s something I care about and it’s from my city, which I love, I am genuinely upset. JamSponge makes it clear he has nothing against Newcastle, but I kind of do. We are a gorgeous, wonderful city. Rather than embrace our idiots and smothering them beneath a pillow of brilliance, we kick them out and inflict them on the rest of the country instead. We then jealously guard our treasure and culture like someone’s going to take it away.

Fuck’s sake, man.

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Greyhound: A (recycled) Cautionary Tale


In 2010 I went to visit an internet friend of mine in North Carolina, met with two more internet-friends of mine from Ireland and California and then got on a bus to meet more internet-friends of mine in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The bus journey was always meant to be a long one, seventeen hours, in fact. It turned into something more like twenty-six. In Philidelphia on our return there was something of an explosion (I wish I were speaking figuratively), a dear friend had a panic attack and I sat down with my Moleskine (lol hipster rage) and furiously wrote the following note, previously available at my disused tumblr.

***

This letter is posted here as a direct email address for a customer services department was not openly available on their website. Perhaps that is more telling than the contents of this letter. If you have ever considered using Greyhound buses, please consider this letter a warning.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I wish to complain in the strongest possible terms about the experience I had on your buses last week. On the 24th June 2010 and the 27th June 2010, the experience I had on your buses rivals all others in both discomfort and inconvenience. The journey was from Charlotte, NC to Atlantic City, NJ and then back again.

My experience was noteworthy not only because of the appalling organisational standards of your company, but the repeated mechanical failings scattered throughout my trip alongside the indifference and occasional downright incompetence of your staff. In some instances I would strongly recommend just replacing certain staff members with actual greyhounds. The marketing angle is priceless and they are very easy to train.

My problems began on the 23rd of June when my journey was actually due to begin. Upon arrival at the station we were told that in my group of friends, one group of tickets was ‘dormant’ and that the others were not valid either, leaving us to infer that they too were dormant. It was advised that we ‘reactivate’ our ‘dormant’ tickets, something Alex, Ronan, Frank, Austin and I were only too keen to move forward with.

Unfortunately for us our bus was scheduled for 10:40pm and, despite having arrived more than an hour early, there was nobody at the station, or at the helpline (you should consider a re-brand on that particular service) who had the ability/proclivity to help us with our problem, because it was too late. Offering bus services around the clock but having stations properly staffed only some of the time is a strange way to go about things, Greyhound, let me tell you.

Feeling rather stuck, we asked the woman at your information desk (again, the names of some services need a serious rethink) what she could suggest. We were met with a blank stare and a vague shrug. Helpless, we retreated hoping to reschedule the following day. This was, they had told us, our only hope.

The 24th arrived and we did eventually, as suggested by the dates at the beginning of this letter, manage to board a bus. It turned out that our tickets were not dormant but had been subject to a rescheduling problem within the system. All that was required was some signed forms and ID checks. Nobody the previous evening had been able to tell us this due to the appropriate staff members not being present, otherwise our tickets could easily have been issued and we could have left at the proper time.

We got in line for the 7:45pm bus, already a day late for a 3 day trip, but feeling optimistic that at last we were headed somewhere. This optimism lasted until about an hour after the scheduled time when we were not yet on a bus. This was made worse by the fact that we had no idea why this might be. A lack of information became a theme throughout our journey. When approached for information, a Greyhound staff member unhelpfully said “All you can do is wait!” before turning away and offering no further details. I persisted and approached a different staff member only to be told impatiently that the driver had not yet arrived.

Understandably discouraged by this new obstacle on our journey we waited. Eventually we were saved by the appearance of a flustered looking driver who tried the best he could to manage the crowd and organise himself quickly. All efforts in vain however, as we had already missed all of our planned connections due to his lateness. When we were finally allowed to board he was able to admit only ten of the approximately fifty people waiting in line. All of these people had been allowed to buy tickets for a service that was almost double-booked.  This was also a theme throughout our trip. Thankfully my friends and I were a part of that lucky group and were boarded.

After a few attempted starts the bus departed, only for it to become apparent that the air conditioning was not working. On a packed bus. In ninety degree heat. It became deeply uncomfortable very quickly. This was made worse by a Greyhound reprepsentative reprimanding people boiling in their skins for swearing. She then passed on a message from the driver saying that he must turn back. Understandably, due to the less than ideal scenario and her patronizing and overzealous customer service stunt moments before, the passengers were incredibly angry. The driver pulled over at a rest stop and promised food and drinks from McDonalds for the inconvenience. This promise never materialised but we were all so grateful for the stop that nobody mentioned a thing about it.

After reboarding and arriving in Raleigh we watched a man physically remove the air conditioning unit and replace it with a new one. We were less than pleased with this added delay but appeased by the fact that at least we’d be late, but able to remain at  human body temperature rather than something more akin to a salamander or industrial kiln. This message was apparently lost somewhere along the line and we were transported the rest of the way to Richmond in a refrigerator instead.

Our time in Richmond was less stressful, as the next bus was less than two hours away by the time we arrived. This relief was short-lived as after boarding the driver proceeded to get lost in downtown Fredericksburg for, what another passenger informed us, was an hour and twenty minutes. Not providing directions for your drivers displays an admirable sense of humour, but does nothing for you customer service reputation. Fortunately upon arriving in Washington DC we were directed immediately to a bus headed for Atlantic City, which was delayed for a long time due to traffic. This last matter, I concede, is out of your control.

The driver did decide to liven up an otherwise uneventful journey by pulling over and proclaiming that the bus had broken down. He then started it back up and drove the rest of the way to Atlantic City trouble free. This provided added bewilderment. Perhaps it was a badly received practical joke, or maybe after years of working for Greyhound it is a force of habit. Speculation aside, we were pleased that this was the only noteworthy aspect of our final leg of that journey.

My friends and I enjoyed our drastically reduced time in Atlantic City provided, by your outright failure to organise a reliable service, with anecdotes that were both amusing and literally incredible. We were determined that our return journey would provide no such anecdotes. Our confidence was naive and ill-founded, but it was all we had in the face of a repeat of such a terrible journey.

The journey from Atlantic City to Philidelphia lulled us into a false sense of security. At least, until our arrival when the bus promptly exploded. This epic mechanical failing makes your broken air conditioning and break-downs that occur only in the minds of your drivers appear trivial. None of those are life threatening in the least. I’m sure this seems like a comical exaggeration, provided only to highlight the escalating misfortune we encountered on our journey.

I’m more than sorry to say that this is not the case. Moments after exiting the bus, smoke could be seen to pour from the back-right section of the bus, where my friends and I had been seated moments earlier, only to spread to the other side and for flames to become visible on the underside of the bus. Frank was able to take some photographs before being told to stop by Greyhound staff. Apparently ‘fire’ is where they draw the line in terms of caring about customer interaction. Because of his inability to take adequate photos, Frank also provided a small sketch of this event.

Bus Explosion

Frank is 28.

Frank is an artist.

The sight of a firefighter breaking the window I was seated at moments previously in order to extinguish the dirty great flames that are now spilling therefrom is not one I will forget any time soon, I assure you. So, in terms of providing a memorable journey, you could not have performed better. Indeed, I admire your efforts to ensure such a journey. Rarely is a bus worthy of photographic evidence.

However, when your mechanical failings wander into the realms of ‘life threatening’, I cease to have a sense of humour about them. Indeed, the summoning of the emergency services is rarely a sign of a publicity stunt gone well. I do not accuse you of attempting to bump off customers in the least, but the repeated and persistent failings of your company lead me to believe that they cannot be unrelated. That amount of failure cannot be accidental, can it?

The fact that we had already alighted (no pun intended) when the fire presented itself was of little comfort to my friend Alex, who had a panic attack in the middle of the bus station. The previous occurrence of such an attack had been after a car accident some months previously. This attack was caused by the bus journey you provided, the collective experience of which was comparable in terms of stress to a car accident. It was potentially as life threatening and equally as detrimental to Alex’s health. It did little to raise our opinion of the service you offer so half-heartedly.

Our group’s reaction of pleasant surprise when greyhound staff actually bothered to announce the lateness of our next bus cannot be considered in your favour because it was notable as the exception rather than the rule. Our next buses were late, but by this point we were no longer disappointed nor were we expecting to get to our destination at a time anywhere close to the one scheduled.

It is my experience that customer service is not a primary concern for your company, nor even a secondary one. Public Relations was a concern when my friend was prevented from taking photos of the flaming bus, but your general inability to treat passengers as customers rather than cargo has assured that even this minor concern is viewed in the most cynical light. Had you told him to get away for his own safety then perhaps your reputation would remain somewhat intact, but his lungs were of less concern to you than the potential leak of this information to potential customers. You can be assured that none of us will use your service ever again, and indeed will discourage others from doing so.

Yours,
Mell Moore.

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