My first bad ebay experience from happyapple-devices

Opinions in this article are just that, my opinions.

Decided on October 9 to purchase an iPhone 5S from ebay business seller happyapple-devices.  Used Best Offer and paypal to complete the transaction.

The phone is described as:

Apple iPhone 5s ✔️Unlocked ✔️32GB Space Grey ✔️LIKE NEW CONDITION ✔️WARRARNTY
12 MONTHS WARRANTY AND 5 FREE ACCESSORIES – AMAZING

With description:

Seller refurbished :
Like new condition, and bezel shows no light typical wear and tear, and bezel surround is great condition. 12 months warranty plus 5 free accessories – USB Car Charger, Data Sync Cable, New Box with instructions, Sim Tray Removal Tool, Screen Protector and Cleaning Cloth, plus recorded delivery.

Link to the actual item sold via ebay.

Unfortunately when the phone arrived it was obvious that it was not ‘like new’.  It was in a very good almost excellent condition – certainly Grade A – but not ‘like new’.  There were some minor scuffs on the bezel, and a couple of dents in two corners – not major. However the screen and back is perfect.

The first thing I tried doing was charging it with the supplied ‘new’ charging cable – 2-3 hours later, phone still wouldn’t turn on. Crap! I thought I’d bought a duff phone. Then when I tried to unplug the charging cable – the end came apart in my hand exposing the electronic chip and circuity within these lightning cables.  I thought I’d try the daughter’s iPad charging cable and it did successfully charge the phone and it turned on OK. Yay!

Then I tried to raise the issue with the seller happyapple-devices.
Oct 15, I open a ticket with ebay on the item to highlight the inaccurate description and broken power cable. I included photos of the corner dents in the bezel as proof.

20151015_200915 20151015_200951

These guys tell a great story on customer service:
“We care about our customers and your experience.”
“Amazing customer services via phone, email or even text message.”

My experience is that these claims are entirely superficial and these guys could not care less about your experience.

I received a phone call from happyapple-devices the next day – keen to resolve the situation. Eventually we agreed that it would be appropriate (and cheaper for them and me) to re-grade the item as Grade A (instead of like new) and they would refund me £20. He would also send me a new “apple original” charging cable.

Then came the killer line from happyapple-devices: “The system won’t let me perform the refund while the ticket is open.”  He asked me to close the ticket so he could perform the £20 refund.  Not knowing any better – I’ve never had to do this before – I thought I needed to close the ticket to proceed.

I closed the ticket.   ProTip: Don’t close the tickets people until you’ve actually received satisfactory resolution to the issue.

It’s now 3 weeks and 2 days later and I still have no paypal refund. I also have not received a new cable.

Basically, my interpretation from happyapple-devices is a big fuck-you.

All I can do in response is warn others about their behaviour and file a complaint with ebay. When I post this I’m going to leave them negative feedback (also the first time I’ve done this to any seller) and if I can, link to this article. ebay UK already has my complaint (acknowledged by ebay twitter team) – but it may take a while to get a response.

 

Google renames as Alphabet

August 10, 2015. Today Google announced that it was renaming itself as Alphabet.

The internet did a collective WTF! and nobody seems to understand why.

I believe this makes sense from an Antitrust perspective.

Today, google has to move cautiously to avoid getting accused of anti-competitive behaviour or using its leverage to benefit its own products. Something it is not always successful at. Microsoft learned this lesson at great cost at the hands of the EU.

If Google moves search into a child company (called Google) and makes all new product development as sister companies – critically – not under direction or control of “Google”, then they can no longer be accused of anti-competitive behaviour.

Of course, Alphabet will need to ensure some form of arms-length interaction between the sister companies. In doing so, Google (or Alphabet) can most likely avoid antitrust investigations into the future.

Amazon Prime isn’t all that fast

I’ve decided to build myself a new computer. I haven’t done this in about 10 years, so there was a fair amount of reading and research to understand all the latest components, processors, chipsets, and compatible RAM.

Because this is likely going to have to last me a while, I wanted to go big. Very big. More on that in the next article as I intend on documenting the build.

I also wanted to buy all of the components from Amazon due to Amazon’s excellent customer service should anything go wrong.

On Friday 5th May 2014, I started ordering. Amazon offered me a free trial of Amazon Prime during checkout.
Excellent, I’ll get everything faster. Well that’s the theory anyway.

It is now Wednesday 10th September (evening) and I have 4 of the 6 items delivered. Everything was in stock when I placed the order. Why aren’t they here yet?

The CPU (Devil’s Canyon i7-4790K) was ordered from Ebuyer because Amazon had no stock and was saying 2-4 weeks, so I sucked up Ebuyer’s £8 delivery charge to Northern Ireland. It arrived the next day. Well done Ebuyer.

Amazon Prime, however, I don’t think will be having the trial converted to a purchase.

Menshn stats and where they came from.

You may have noticed, if you have been following my twitter feed, that I have been posting some Menshn statistics recently. You may also be wondering how I came by these numbers.

 

  Someone sent me a message on twitter pointing me to the URL: menshn.com/data/chat.php (which shall remain unclickable for reasons that will become apparent).  This web page basically dumps the last 20-30k “menshns” out in a semi-structured html data format.  In total (at time of writing) it dumps 31MB of data. So you can see why I’m not making it a link. I’ve no desire to overload their systems.

Upon looking at the “View source” on the menshn.com homepage, it seems that they use this to back end the automatically updating feed on their homepage.  

If you watch the traffic generated by your browser – you can see it making a request every 4 seconds for https://menshn.com/data/chat.php?roomid=*&lastid=73405

So, now we know where my source got the link from – seems if you don’t supply any arguments, it just dumps everything it has. And so, with such a dataset we are able to do some metrics.

First up, I parsed all the data out to produce a simple ID,Room,Name,Message text file – just to prove to myself that I had understood the data set and was parsing it correctly.

Next, I built into the parser, metric building. Count the unique users, count number of posts/menshns, count number of rooms/topics, etc.

From this I have the top line information: 

Number of active users: 218
Number of active rooms: 224

Breaking this down further to “Top 20” lists, I get:

20 Most prolific users:
 5752 janemcqueen
 3240 CosensV
 2019 Chriss
 2011 BlackAdder
 1569 PoliticsBlogorguk
 1520 Xlibris
 1106 DavidX
 783 JOSHBHJ
 782 Louise
 717 EdenFisher
 704 JayMcNeil
 666 Grist
 588 TinderWall
 401 RV
 384 Bozier
 373 jeanprytyskacz
 348 MikeARPowell
 285 Silaz
 251 Rabbs
 239 Europe

And

20 Busiest rooms:
 6361 //ukpolitics
 3216 //gaymarriage
 1252 //religion
 1014 //assangecase
 877 //olympics2012
 717 //judaism
 673 //uselection
 663 //atheism
 642 //mormonism
 585 //davidcameron
 527 //civilliberty
 479 //reshuffle
 474 //mittromney
 415 //corbyelectio
 394 //capitalism
 315 //twitter
 295 //falklands
 224 //louisemensch
 208 //philosophy
 204 //catholicism

Growth metrics are easily obtained by performing the same test at different times. In my case, they were 3.5 days apart. Leading to the conclusion posted on twitter:  

 

If you really want to see all the menshns, rather than overload the menshn server – you can obtain my parsed analysis of the dump at http://pgregg.com/test/menshn/menshnchat.txt

I’d welcome comments on this. For the record – none of this information was obtained via a “hack” and no illegal acts were committed in the gathering of this information.

 

 

Defamed by Menshn owner Luke Bozier

Today in my twitter feed, I saw this:

 

 

Now I know that the above is a fake/parody account, but it is funny to follow regardless. So I clicked on the link to see what it was about and was horrified to see Mr. Luke Bozier (the real one) make specific allegations that I am behind the lukebozer.com web site.

At the bottom of the page is:



Mr Luke Bozier is mistaken.

I have emailed Mr Luke Bozier asking for an apology and a retraction.

Screenshot of email to Luke Bozier

Comment: Upgrade cycle madness

It is getting near that time of year when the world goes mad for the next revision of the iPhone.

That annual elation when the faithful can upgrade their awesome^H^H^H^H^H^H^H, sorry, now old and crappy iPhone 4S for the shiny new OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!  NEW iPhone 5. And your life is complete.

On the other hand, there are those (I approximate, half the Apple citizens) who are mid-way through their 24 or 18 month contracts and are torn between needing that shiny new phone and buying out their contracts to get it, or having to suck it up and wait.

A few years ago, I would have agreed that the devices were getting exponentially better and there was a clear benefit to having the latest mobile device but I believe that is no longer true. The power of the devices are reaching a point where they can do almost anything you would want them to. Quad core CPUs – in your *phone*. I think the next huge leap will be in battery life, but, I digress.

Much like PC upgrade cycles. Businesses used to religiously replace their computers every 3 years. There was always a clear benefit to this and we all loved getting new computers because they were so much faster than the one before.

But that stopped being true* about 3 years ago (*unless you are a gamer). Word processing isn’t any faster, email isn’t faster, the Web isn’t faster. Generally speaking – the computer you bought 5 years ago is still pretty damn good.

Companies are realising this also and 3 year replacement cycles became 4 year replacement cycles mostly due to budget cuts. Then 4 years became 5 years as they noticed “hey, this still works great”.  I believe the new standard PC replacement cycle will be 5 years.  I think this was already true in the average home. As an aside, this business change is what is hurting the likes of Dell and HP right now.

So, back to our shiny mobile phones. Can this continue? I don’t believe so. There will come a time – and I think for Apple it will be 2013 – when the iPhone owners realise that their phone is still bloody awesome and the iPhone 6 isn’t such a great incremental step as before, and that maybe, just maybe, they don’t need this to complete their lives.

By 2015, I believe, I hope, that we will be happy with our devices and we won’t need to keep paying the annual upgrade tax just to have the latest shiny. The shiny in our pocket will be awesome, and it will remain so for a couple of years. We should be happy with our devices for at least 2 years – maybe 3.

We had a dotcom bubble. It burst in 2001. We had a financial bubble. It burst in 2008. We are in the middle of a mobile bubble. I believe it will burst in 2015.

None of the mobile device makers want this to happen. I’m not sure the phone companies would like it either – they still want to extract their £35 or $50 per month out of you for the next 24 months.  But you, the consumer, the guy with the cash in his pocket, should care. You are paying £800 or $1200 every two years for that shiny slab of metal in your pocket. You probably wouldn’t spend that on your primary computer that could last 5 years.

Disclaimer, I use a 2.5 year old HTC Desire that is just begging to be upgraded – but I’m holding off as best I can to see what happens post iPhone 5 in the market. I aim to choose a phone that will last me 3 years.  And if there can be any encouragement, it is this. I’m only paying £10 ($16) per month for all my minutes, texts and unlimited data plan.

Leaving Menshn for good

I’ve decided to close my Menshn account, folks. It’s over.  After four weeks of micro-menshning and meeting great friends and colleagues (largely not on Menshn), I’m off. It’s been amazing but it never provided the community feeling it once promised.

So I’ll be posting my rants on twitter and my blog instead, and I’ll be blogging more here and writing for a range of other channels.

Friends can email me via the usual address, add me on Facebook or connect with me on twitter.com, where my username is pgregg.

So to my hundred (automatically assigned) followers – see you around – it’s (mostly) been a pleasure, but largely a technical disaster.

Menshn: Another password design flaw

Ok – so I forgot my password on Menshn, again, and went to reset my password. Normal email address+token thing – except I noticed another problem.

Menshn emails you a link in the form:

pwreset.php?e=email@address.com&c=8chartoken

At least they are not emailing plain text passwords again. But, I noticed that the token link can be used both multiple times, and it does not expire.

Requesting a new token to be emailed to you invalidates earlier tokens – however it remains the case that the most recent pwreset token stays valid.

Ooops. Bad Menshn, bad. Back to the naughty corner for you.

At least clear the stored token when the user uses it once (and ensure you don’t accept blank tokens).

Menshn DNS is a (technical thingy).

So Menshn changed their DNS and stopped their site working for a number of users.

Users pointed it out and Menshn did what Menshn does and blamed everyone else but themselves. I call it the Apple Defence. Or #You’reHoldingItWrong.

What Louise probably doesn’t know is that whoever is advising her*, plainly doesn’t know the first, or last, thing about DNS.

*assuming she has an advisor, perhaps Bozier, as no geek worth his (or her) salt will ever say “technical thingy”.

No Louise, DNS migration does not take 24 hours. It is not the fault of the other ISPs. It is your own fault.

Now Louise and Bozier have both blocked me on twitter, but I’m a magnanimous chap – in the words of Sid [Ice Age] “I’m too lazy to hold a grudge” – so I’ll tell them how to fix it next time.

DNS records have this little number attached to them called a TTL – or Time To Live. Normally the domain TTL is 86400 seconds, or, as you’ve found, 24 hours. This number is entirely within your control. It is the number *you* give to other ISPs when they ask for your zone information. So when their systems receive that data, they can, rightly, assume that the data is good for the next 24 hours.

Thus, when you are planning a domain/DNS change – what do you do? You lower the number to an acceptable outage window, e.g. 60 seconds on your original DNS zone(s) servers. Further, you need to do this at least 24 hours in advance of the change to allow the existing longer TTL records out there to expire.

Thus when you switch DNS servers, or server IPs, your maximum outage window is the new lower TTL.

Welcome to the Internet. It’s a technical thingy.

Louise Mensch, MP, brands me a spammer.

So after my latest round of tweets with Corby MP Louise Mensch nee. Bagshawe, she has effectively called me a spammer and forbade me from tweeting her any longer (or I’ll be blocked). So be it. I won’t tweet her any more.

She has invited me to email her – but why would I do that? That just makes everything private – and I can be more easily ignored in private.   I did highlight the latest copyright infringements on Menshn to her, however that has yet to be rectified on the site.

So, since I’m now apparently a spammer it is time to question Ms. Mensch’s understanding of a few words.

1. Democracy. You would think a Member of Parliament would get this one right. Apparently not.

We’ll take Wikipedia’s opening paragraph:

Democracy is an egalitarian form of government in which all the citizens of a nation together determine public policy, the laws and the actions of their state, requiring that all citizens (meeting certain qualifications) have an equal opportunity to express their opinion.

 

2. Censorship.

Again, lets take Wikipedia’s opening paragraph:

Censorship is the suppression of speech or other public communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body.

3. spam. (using lowercase because Hormel trademark requests the capitalised version remain for the lunch meat product).

Again with Wikipedia:

Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media…

So, I’m not quite sure what the metaJesus thing is all about – but basically I’m a spammer.

All my messages (see previous blog posts), including *everything* on Menshn and tweets has been critical comment. Pointing our flaws in their web site, security, and actual Copyright Infringement. Not complaints; and most certainly not spam by any definition.

Is there a lesson here? Yes. If you talk about something that Mensch doesn’t want to talk about or hear, Louise will define your message as “spam”, delete, block or otherwise censor you. Thereby enabling Menshn to claim they do not censor (except when they want to).

Ironic however, that Louise doesn’t want me to tweet her, yet does invite me to comment via email – which is closer to the definition of spam!

Perhaps one of her Corby constituents will pass her a dictionary. It appears she may have use of one.

I will not be tweeting this message to Louise or I’ll be blocked from her twitter feed also, but please feel free to let her know yourself.

I’m also done with Menshn. I am obviously not welcome as my preferred topics of conversation are not catered for.