The Ongoing T-Mobile Saga

simcard

A few weeks back, I explained how I tried out T-Mobile’s services by way of receiving aΒ SIM Card for my iPhone. It didn’t turn out so well, as the service was not what I was expecting. After about a week or so of having the SIM card, I returned it.

After returning it (including it being tracked by the USPS) to the address provided, I thought that was the end of the story – I tried the service, and returned it within the return window.

That’s not what has happened.

On August 17th, I received an envelope in the mail from a PO box in El Dorado Hills, California. Upon opening it, I discovered it was a past-due notification from T-Mobile indicating the following –

  1. My T-Mobile Service was now suspended. (OK, well, I terminated the service by returning the SIM Card, so I’m not sure why you’re saying it’s suspended)
  2. The reason that my (cancelled) T-Mobile Service was suspended was due to non-payment of a balance of $152.29.
  3. If I don’t pay the bill, I face the permanent deactivation of my phone service and additional actions, including the account being sent to a collections agency and it affecting my credit.

That’s a bit odd, but OK. And there’s a phone number on the bill. So, I call it. The first call that I make, I erred and had myself muted so the rep hung up on me (oops). I call again, and speak to someone in Meridian Idaho, and he indicated to me that the account was placed at a zero balance due and I would get a bill saying I had a zero balance.

So, that means it’s over, right? Everyone can go home happy and enjoy some fresh orange slices, living happily ever after! πŸ™‚

Nope.

Last night, I received another envelope from the same mailer, but with a different address on it. This one was in Wixom, Michigan. This letter was from a company called Convergent Outsourcing Inc. This letter stated to me –

  1. This is a notice being sent by a collection agency.
  2. A balance of $152.29 is due in full for mobile phone service (again, how is that possible considering that I had the SIM card for at most 10 days – I received it on 6/29, and it was returned to the returns department on 7/9).
  3. If I do pay this debt, they may be able to offer me the option of re-connecting my mobile phone service at no additional cost.

So, I try calling – this time at just after midnight. Turns out their billing department closes at midnight. Fair enough, at the company I work for, the billing department usually closes around that same time. πŸ™‚

I started to write this post actually as I was calling them again this morning to sort this whole sordid situation out again; I was on hold for someone when I started to write this, and got to someone who sounded like she was in the Philippines. To be honest, I was not up for talking to someone in Cebu or in Cainta or in Manila, so I asked for someone in the USA – and was promptly transferred to someone in, as she said “sunny Tampa”

Awesome, I thought, someone in the USA and I can get this sorted out. I started out a bit heated – as one would be considering that they had received word from a previous rep that the bill was zeroed out and then received a collections letter.

She tells me that there is no reason as to why I would have been told that the balance would have been zeroed out and that I owed $11.56 for services as I had the service for almost a month. I asked for her to hang on while I grabbed my mobile to check the USPS tracking on the SIM card return. When I returned, she asked for me to hold for someone in the billing department…OK, I thought you would be able to help, but I guess she transferred me due to my disputing this $11 amount – which I had accepted while I was grabbing my phone.

So, after another 3 minutes or so on hold, I am transferred to Lance to whom I explained my situation, he placed me on a brief hold, and then came back to me. When he did, he said that he was in the process of waiving the fee. I also explained that it was weird that I received this collections letter dated 8/21 but never received a bill from T-Mobile regarding the service. He was stumped to that as well.

He did tell me that the account hadn’t gone to collections as yet (again strange considering that I received a letter from a collections agency) and that the letter actually came from T-Mobile and that I can disregard this information.

From there, the call ended with me asking for his ID and for a confirmation number – he did give me his ID and has told me that the balance would be zero within 48 hours.

I’m going to check this on Sunday to see if the balance is actually zero. And if I get another collections letter from T-Mobile, I’ll be on the phone and raising holy Hell on these people as this will now get even more ridiculous than the situation I’ve found myself in.

Facebook: Fail times 1 million

Seeing that I am about one of about 10 people in the world left without a Facebook account, I’ve done a bit of investigation into the site and found out that there are some major faults with the site, and they have to do with their "recommendations" on how to keep safe.

If you want to play along, their page on safety is here – http://www.facebook.com/safety/

Anyway, they give you these "important safety tips" when using the site, 4 of them make sense, but the fifth one, in bold, makes absolutely no sense if you think about it:

  • Never share your password with anyone
  • Adjust your privacy settings to match your level of comfort, and review them often
  • Be cautious about posting and sharing personal information, especially information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline, such as your address or telephone number
  • Report users and content that violate our Terms of Use
  • Block and report anyone that sends you unwanted or inappropriate communications

Yep, I can totally understand not posting your address and telephone number on the public web, but they say to be cautious about posting information that could locate you offline…so, doesn’t that include one thing that would automatically identify you offline: YOUR NAME?!?!?!?!

Seriously, I can’t think of anything that can’t identify you faster offline than your own bloody name. So, wouldn’t the logical step be to sign up using an alias. Yep, that would be a smart move, but they’ve also put a major FAIL sign on that:

Remember that…using fake names is a violation of the Facebook Terms of Use

So, you can’t use an alias then, can you? However, I guess it keeps someone busy, having to report all of those fake names out there, and deleting their accounts.

Maybe I should stick to just watching random videos of soccer fans singing:

NBC: Not Broadcasting Concurrently with the world

Everybody knows that the Olympics start officially on Friday with the opening ceremony going off on 8/8/08 at 8:00PM Chinese Time (GMT+8) or 7:00AM Central Daylight Time (GMT-5), or at the time that the Today show starts on NBC most days in the Central time zone (for those who may not know it, NBC and all the other networks air their morning shows on a schedule of 7-9AM no matter where you watch it, so viewers in my area are actually watching a show that is an hour old-by the way, for Aussie insomniacs or shift-workers who see these shows on 9 or 10 at 4am or whenever, take a note of the upper left – it usually will say Live EDT or Live PDT there-that’s the sign that it’s been shifted).

Now, most rational people would assume that this would mean that the Today Show, for one day out of, oh, however many thousands of days, would be pre-empted for a live, nationwide broadcast of the Olympics starting at 6AM, an hour before the ceremony started, right? I mean, it’s not unprecedented as people in Australia, Canada, Mexico, and a lot of other countries are going to do the same thing. Heck, here in the States, the AC Nielsen company counts repeat viewership as part of ratings now, so they’d make even more of a killing by playing it live and then replaying it at night (like CBC is doing).

However, Dick Ebersol, along with the NBC programming department have decided that it is far superior to ignore the time of the actual event and air it whenever they feel like it. In this case, 6:30PM CDT has been declared as the time that the Olympics shall start on NBC, three hours later if you’re on the West Coast, a delay of 11½-14½ hours. Thankfully NBC can rest safe in the knowledge that people don’t have access to things where they can, oh, watch the opening ceremony live via legal and, ahem, other methods. πŸ˜‰

Oh wait. There’s this Internet thing. How many people do you think will forego having to listen to whoever NBC have chosen to host the ceremony blabbing over the whole thing (though without Katie Couric it shouldn’t be so bad this time, but Mary Carillo is just as annoying), and find their way to a foreign-sourced broadcast of the ceremony, and have access to it before it even starts broadcasting here? Oh, the irony that the one thing that they love to bandy about to people who want to show old footage of old TV shows – Piracy – is only solution to a problem that they’ve created by ignoring the fact that an Olympic opening ceremony is designed to be an event shared by the world as one.

Remember that the next time you see a clip on YouTube removed "Due to a claim of Copyright by NBC-Universal", will you? πŸ™‚

Oh, and one last thing, here’s a couple of lists comparing who is showing the ceremony live and who isn’t. It must be lonely at the top of Rockefeller Plaza… πŸ˜‰

Nations airing the Opening Ceremony live

  • Australia (something I personally confirmed by calling 1800 777 777 and speaking to Matt on Saturday Afternoon)
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • México
  • Chile
  • Brazil
  • Portugal
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Perú
  • Argentina
  • All of Europe (Eurosport)
  • China
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • United Arab Emirates

Nations NOT airing the Opening Ceremony live

  • United States of America

So much for caring about the viewer – I guess they need to make the money somehow to pay for the billions of dollars they have to pay the IOC…but of course, air the ceremony twice, you can instantly double the advertising revenue. πŸ˜‰

Where did WordPress go wrong?

About a year ago, I was introduced to WordPress as an alternative to Blogger, and it was an attractive alternative – simple to use, and if you needed help, it was straightforward to figure out.

Another thing that was beautiful about WordPress was that it was small – just about 1 meg to download and install on your server.

Something else that I thought they were good at, at least at one point in time, was backwards compatibility – i.e. a new version would come out and the immediately previous one would continue to be maintained (like what just about every other software company – even Microsoft – does).

However, that all changed when it came to version 2.5. Among the little notes they included was that 2.3 would no longer be supported. It’s something I hadn’t mentioned when I blogged about it in the past, but it’s something that is important when you have a large userbase.

What happened to supporting old versions?

Admittedly, 2.6 isn’t very different to 2.5 (well, unless you include the database bloat that is post revisions {Side note – I wonder how long it will be before people are getting warned by their hosts about databases filling up due to all the revisions?}, tons of bugs that didn’t happen until upgrading and the fact that the widgets page is still messed up), but there are people who are satisfied with 2.5 and don’t need to upgrade yet, especially when you have a build that has a ton of unnecessary features and just plain old junk included.

Well, except for the Theme Previews – I like that idea, but that’s really for someone who likes to change themes very frequently, which I don’t recommend doing, unless you’re running a test blog and checking if a certain theme works with a specific version of WP.

Oh, by the way, you can’t turn off any of these new “features” directly through the admin panel. If you want to turn them off, you have to edit the wp-config.php file, which is almost akin to editing the registry in Windows – if you mess something up, you could completely bork your blog. I guess that’s something they must have forgotten about – flexibility in the system.

Anyway, one thing I didn’t notice until now when re-reading the announcement post (which I notice doesn’t have any trackbacks on it…I wonder why that is…) was this line, and I guess you have to pardon the poor English of the writer 😐 –

The 2.5 branch will no longer be maintain so everyone is encouraged to upgrade.

Yep, much like when 2.5 was released, the immediately previous version will be dropped like a hot potato. In fact, in looking through the bug tracking site, I notice that as of right now, two milestones – 2.3.4 and 2.5.2 – have disappeared completely off of the roadmap.

wptraccache While looking at the current Google Cache of the site from July 14th at 1:18AM Central Time (US) (image at right, click for a larger version, because you know that it will change soon), you can see the 2.5.2 and 2.3.4 milestones still there, and still with bugs open. Also, the 2.6 release, which was claimed to have been released a month early, had a due date of the 14th. How does that equate to a month early? Anyone? Bueller? By the way, I find it very disconcerting that, within the space of a single day or so, i.e. 24 hours, 759 active tickets (80% of the total) were dealt with – most of them look like they were shuffled off to another version, as only 204 closed tickets show up on the 2.6 milestone page. Thankfully this major bug was fixed, however. I know that I’ll sleep that much more comfortably now…

That brings me to my question – where did WordPress go so wrong? The first step was paying for something that was unnecessary (the new interface in 2.5), then adding a 200+kb unzipping program, and now adding something that will undoubtedly get people in trouble with their hosts for filling their database up quicker than they ever thought. If you need help, however, you can count on the folks on the WordPress forums to assist you, that is when they’re not demanding information in a way they insist it be (which is really nice when you’re trying to finish an upgrade and the blog is telling you over and over and over and over again that you need to login again, on three separate browsers and after clearing the cookies).

Even when a workaround is suggested, it’s not allowed to be marked as a fix, but a workaround, because it might, on some distant planet, open a security hole.

I gotta say that after one experience of upgrading to 2.6 and finding this bug, I’m not ready to recommend that anyone move to it yet. If you have and it does work without any problems, that’s good news to hear, but if you’re on a blog that’s not on the root directory, you might want to wait, because it seems that these problems occur when in this situation.

Further Reading

If you want some more to read on the situation, check out these posts –

Send my messages, Skype

This is one of those long-time bugs that I’ve experienced with a piece of software that I truly love because of what it can do with your phone budget if you have folks overseas (or just if you have a curiosity about free telephone numbers over there as well), Skype.

This particular bug involves trying to send a text message to a friend who is offline at the time. For some reason, whenever they send me a message and I’m offline, the message comes to me when I get online, but when I try to do it, I get the almost dreaded "Message not sent yet" note on the screen, even after they sign in.

The really annoying thing is that when I am fairly certain that person is online and I send a message with some unsent messages still there (because they didn’t get sent when they came online in the first place), those new messages get stuck!

It’s really fucking annoying and there is no reason that my messages can’t be delivered when both the sender and receiver are online. Thankfully there is one way to solve the problem, but it is quite annoying – calling the person usually gets the messages to go through, unless they are truly offline in which case I get sent to voicemail.

To be honest, as much as I love Skype, this problem is quite infuriating and should be something quite simple to fix, if you ask me. Of course I’m not a software engineer, so there ya go. πŸ˜‰