In Memoriam Robin Gibb

Robin Gibb passed away at age 62.   Apparently all the younger generation knows about the Bee Gees is their disco period.   How said.  Long before the disco era the Bee Gees were legends, at times rivalling the Beatles.  Here’s a little playlist I’ve thrown together, based on their Golden Oldies I could find on Youtube.



Trying to wake up this dormant blog…


Could Fake Steve Jobs Go to Jail?

Online impersonators could be fined up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail according to California Senate Bill 1411, which Governor Schwarzenegger has just signed into law.   The new law is  meant to protect victims of cyberbullying, malicious impersonation – says  Senator Joe Simitian, the Bill’s author on his homepage:

“E-personation,” said Simitian, “is the dark side of the social networking revolution. Facebook or MySpace pages, e-mails, texting and comments on Web forums have been used to humiliate or torment people and even put them in danger. Victims have needed a law they can turn to.”

A recent New York Times story, “As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up” (December 5) provides a disturbing example. A mother, distressed by her son’s emotional withdrawal, learned he was being ostracized at school because “the kids say I’m saying all these nasty things about them on Facebook.” Though he hadn’t created a Facebook page, his mother found a page with his name and picture. “Someone had forged his identity online,” the Times reported, “and was bullying others in his name.”

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


Mashup of a Different Kind: Pink Floyd & The Bee Gees. Stayin’ Alive In The Wall.




eBay is a Dangerous Place for Sellers

Sony PRS 505Bias warning: I am the “suffering party” in this story, so am obviously biased.  But I let the facts speak for themselves, and you draw your own conclusions…

The day the new Kindle was announced I sold my trusted old Sony e-Reader on eBay.  To my surprise it got bought within an hour of listing it, with the Buy Now option. I figured this was urgent for the buyer, so I did what good sellers do: rushed to ship it the same day.  What a mistake… I should have lazily sat on it…Sad smile

Apparently it wasn’t that urgent for the buyer.   After repeated delivery attempts by UPS, he asked them to hold for pickup, then for a later delivery date.  11 days later, as shown by UPS tracking they shipped it back to me.   Buyer emailed me, asking to ship it back to him.  I did better: attempted to intercept the shipment, turn it back to him while it was still in NJ, close to him. I also asked buyer to pay for the extra UPS charge, which he refused.  He holds UPS responsible, claiming them negligent. ( An interesting term to use, if I may add… doesn’t negligence start by not asking the seller to delay shipment when you just bought a $159 item and don’t plan to be at home for weeks?). Then buyer did not respond for 3 days, by which time it was too late to turn the shipment around, it was well on its way back to California.  I called UPS, of course they claimed to have played by the book, and any additional shipment would have to be paid for again.

The package back here felt like a hot potato: it was no longer mine, I wanted to send it back to the buyer, but at his cost, which was the original term of the sale.   I’ve never been in a situation like this, me wanting to close the loop, the buyer apparently not caring too much – he would take days to respond to my emails.  We reached a stalemate:

  • He maintained it was all UPS’s fault and would not pay any more for shipping
  • I maintained I had not been part of communication between UPS and him, if he thinks UPS was wrong, he should not try to hold me accountable

sutton assholeIn hindsight, it was a stupid situation, I should have paid, not because he was right, but just to get him out of my life – this hassle was already costing me more than $20.  (Those who read Bob Sutton’s No Asshole Rule know what I mean.)

I wanted to break out of the loop of redundant emails.  I wanted to bring the case to eBay’s Resolution Center – but was surprised to find that it was only available to Buyers, not Sellers.   Then I sought contact to eBay – no way, Jose!  It’s close to impossible to find either a phone number or chat link to eBay support. eBay Twitter team got back to me though, and in the meantime I found an outside link, which I share now, since it can come handy to anyone.   eBay Customer Support reaffirmed that I was right:

me: do you have access to UPS tracking info or should i paste here?
eBay: You can paste it here. Has he file any case yet?
me: no, he has not filed. frankly, i am sick of being threatened and i wanted to open a case but discovered sellers can not.
eBay: That is correct in this case seller’s cannot file a case but in this situation you as a seller already did your part we just need the tracking.
me: so should i just wait till ha pays the new shipment? i mean it is his item now but sits here in a box
eBay:  Yes…Ok I have noted the tracking number & if he files a case just respond with the tracking number so our Resolutions team can see it. Like I said you did your part as a seller.

(Obviously this is a shortened version of the full transcript which I have on file)

Finally the buyer opened a Resolution Center case. What followed was a repeat of the previous week’s email exchange: we said all the relevant facts in the first email exchange, but he kept on topping it with new emails,  repeating the same few (irrelevant lines).  Buyer actually had one final proposal: I should ship by US Mail, instead of UPS and he would pay on receipt.  But given all that happened and how he misrepresented the case, the last thing I wanted to do was set myself up for another loss, by picking a less trackable carrier and opening up the chance for another “not received” claim, so I refused.  After several more email rounds reality  hit me:  his strategy was to bury the facts in all the rubbish email so deep that the eBay reviewer won’t dig down multiple layers.  So I sopped responding, finally asking him to stop the email-bombs and just escalate to eBay finally.  It was obvious that we were not adding any value, and any further rounds would only further cloud the facts.  Finally I found an obscure link that allowed me, the seller to escalate the case, and that’s what I did.   End the email flood, let eBay decide.

rubber stampThe result shocked me.  eBay fully refunded the buyer, closed the case, without any explanation whatsoever.   Now, of course I am shocked, since I am involved… but as a reminder, eBay has previously acknowledged that:

  • – I did everything I was supposed to, as Seller
  • –  Buyer did not, and had no case

Talk about case, the very title of the case is fraudulant: “Item not received”  – or I guess technically it is correct, since it does not say “not sent” .. just “not received”, whether it was in buyer’s intention or notSad smile

I am deeply disappointed.  Perhaps naively, but I expected a reasonably unbiased review of the case.  eBay is a market, and as such it needs both buyers and sellers.  But now I am led to believe their Resolution Center process is nothing more than a rubberstamp for buyers.

Now I am at a financial loss in a number of ways:

  • lost the original purchase price
  • market conditions changed (new readers appeared on the market, mine is less sellable
  • I had to pay for the original and return shipment

To top it all, buyer is now out defaming me with a bogus eBay feedback:

tried to cheat me out of my money ebay stoppeTo d him the worst seller. bad ebayer



  • Buyers: A deal is not a deal. If you have buyers’ remorse, just don’t accept delivery, then file an “Item not received” claim, eBay will side with you
  • Sellers: You’re at risk.  Check out Craigslist.
  • Myself: Wise up.  Read Bob Sutton’s book again.

Update: Buyer’s account is no longer active with eBay.  Why am I not surprised?  But I am stuck with the defaming feedback, and simply don’t have the time to start with eBay beaurocracy again:-(


A Whiter Shade of Pale by Apple (Leaky iPhone and More)

This is the Week of Leaks: first and foremost Wikileaks, and now the iPhone Leak.  No, I’m not talking about the disappearing signal (aren’t we bored of the iPhone antenna stories yet?), this is leaking white light as reported by

Apparently, the back light from the iPhone display screen is leaking out around the edges of the glass and seeping through the back of the white phone, according to a person familiar with the manufacturing process.

So it appears Apple can’t make a white iPhone – for now.  I actually think the black one is more elegant, but of course it’s a matter of choice.  HTC can claim to be first, since their white EVO is now available – but is it really white?

Not really…this is a black phone with a white back – a rather tasteless combination, if you ask me.  If you want white, go for the true white, which is what the iPhone design is – if they can ever manufacture it.

All this white-mania makes my head spin, to the point I can’t pick to most fitting tune.  Is it:

Both recorded before many of our readers were born. Enjoy Smile

Related (?) post:

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Fring’s Popularity BackF(i)ring

FringHooray, iPhone users can now make video calls on 3G, even to other platforms, say Skype, but using the popular Fring app.  Or not…

The new option proved to be too popular, overwhelming Fring’s servers.   This morning Fring announced suspension of support for Skype.

The biggest losers are Android users on all carriers but Verizon, which apparently has an exclusive deal with Skype, preventing all others from offering the Skype app via the Android marketplace.  For them, the workaround has been to use Fring to connect to Skype.  Until now Sad smile

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Only in California: Electronic License Plates May Turn Your Car Into a Billboard

hiding license plate Here’s proof that  Governments’ creativity in finding new revenue sources is unlimited, reports The Merc:

The California Legislature is considering a bill that would allow the state to begin researching the use of electronic license plates for vehicles. The move is intended as a moneymaker for a state facing a $19 billion deficit.

The device would mimic a standard license plate when the vehicle is in motion but would switch to digital ads or other messages when it is stopped for more than four seconds, whether in traffic or at a red light. The license plate number would remain visible at all times in some section of the screen.

Note: the bill is not passed yet, and it’s only about a feasibility study. And guess who would fund the research: the company that would make such licence plates, San Francisco-based Smart Plate.

Forgetting all technical details, visibility and driver distraction issues, a few questions that naturally come to mind: just whose car is it?  ( yeah, I thought so…) Who gets to decide what ads to display or not, and more importantly, who receives the revenue?

accenture Of course once the license plate is electronic, new opportunities about – just look at this research by Accenture, the global Consulting firm:

  • RFID
  • Toll Plazas
  • Parking
  • Fleet management
  • Police monitoring..etc.

The last point raises the possibility of another arms race, just like what we’ve seen with radar detectors, between those wishing to hack the system to fake/shield  their license information and law enforcement…

And here’s the business that would certainly benefit: body shops.  Bumper repair prices would sky-rocket, and so would the number of low-speed, bumper-to-bumper accidents.  You know, when the driver behind you has the urge to click the ad you’re displaying. 🙂

Oh, well … while you wait for the 2-year research to conclude, you may wish to implement your own solution. (hint: iPad + velcro)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Helping UPS

I think UPS needs help finding my place, so I’ve printed a map for them:

ups map

They obviously don’t have a map and are trying to deliver my package from Amazon by way of Sacramento, or perhaps a nice coastal trip up to Seattle and back.  That’s the only logical explanation for them to schedule delivery for June 22nd, when the package arrived in San Pablo on June 17th.

Now, with my map they know I’m only 41 miles away.  And I feel good, having saved them all that extra gas.  🙂

Related posts:


How to Enjoy the World Cup Without Vuvuzela

vuvuzela No, we have not become a sports blog, but when technology comes to rescue millions of soccer-fans, we can’t remain silent.  And by not remaining silent I don’t mean blowing our own horn Vuvuzela🙂

The Vuvu has caused quite a kerfuffle at the World Cup this year. TV networks and broadcasters are fed up, those live at the stadium are in danger of hearing damage ( this thing creates 130 decibel noise, which is above the human pain threshold), the FIFA is considering handing out free earplugs to dampen the noise.

While we can’t help those in the stadium in South Africa, there’s a very simple solution to the rest of the world following the game on TV or the Internet.  You need a device that has an equalizer: better TV sets do, if yours does not, try to hook audio to your Sound system, or use a computer.

EqualizerThen all you have to do is filter out (reduce) the 300 Hz range – apparently all Vuvus shriek at this frequency.

If you don’t have access to an equalizer, you may try fighting sound with sound: an online company claims to generate noise-cancellation sound that is “ a wave with the same amplitude but with inverted phase to the original sound.  The waves combine to form a new wave, in a process called interference, and effectively cancel each other out -an effect which is called phase cancellation

Warning: we have not tried the anti-vuvuzela filter and can not make any claims to its efficiency.

Update: more options @ GigaOM .

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)