Friday, January 2, 2009

UPS Drops the Ball in Washington - Black Eye for Brown

I'm writing this post reluctantly because UPS has been my carrier of choice both as a shipper and receiver for many years but their performance the past few weeks has been awful. We had some snow in the Puget Sound area in December 2008 and some services were briefly disrupted. This was not a disaster; virtually no power outages, no fatalities and very few road closures. The mail was delivered every day and the shopping malls were open. UPS deliveries however came to a virtual halt.This is January 2, 2009 and I'm still waiting for packages, most shipped before Christmas. We had a small delivery today of 4 boxes but the bulk of a large shipment that I need to fill a PC order is still missing. I checked the tracking numbers again and most of the missing boxes are listed as ''in transit'' with 1/2/2009 as the revised delivery date. I decided to call and ask about the situation. The rep at 1-800-PICK-UPS told me that all the packages should be delivered today because that's what the tracking...

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

FIOS - Verizon - Vonage - Comcast

I signed up for Verizon’s FIOS Triple Freedom bundle a few weeks ago. Triple Freedom includes TV, Internet and Phone. The TV and Internet part of the bundle seems to be pretty good. Compared to Comcast, the Internet is a little faster the TV has many more HD channels to choose from. But compared to Vonage the phone part of the bundle was disappointing. There is no problem with the quality but the limited services and web control panel were an issue for me so I'm going back to Vonage for phone service.Verizon offers only three features with their bundle and any additional features cost extra. While it's nice to have caller ID, call waiting and voice mail, the most important feature for me is call forwarding or SimulRing which is included with Vonage at no additional cost. With SimulRing, I never have to worry about forwarding or un-forwarding calls to my cell phone. All incoming calls always ring both my land line and my cell phone and I can choose which one to answer when I'm in...

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Go.Google - Trojan - Malwarebytes - link replacement

There seems to be a new malware player that hasn't been very well documented yet. This Trojan replaces hyperlinks in Internet Explorer so that when you click on a link you are redirected to a site of their choosing (or an error page). I think the links contain a code that gives the creator of the Trojan a pay-per-click reward. At least this one has a motive.By the time I got the PC with this Trojan, it had been infected with hundreds of spyware items and the AVG antivirus was compromised. After a couple of passes with SuperAntiSpyware, SpyBot and AdAware the PC was behaving normally except for the redirected links. I manually removed or renamed dozens of suspicious files in the System32 directory, removed all suspicious files with HijackThis, checked the Hosts file and monitored activity with Process Explorer and still couldn't get rid of the Trojan. I also installed Bit Defender after reading some articles stating that they had discovered such a Trojan a few months ago. It turns out...

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Outlook 2007 Security Alert - Exchange

A customer e-mailed today about an Outlook Security Alert that was showing up on one of their workstations. I used Remote Desktop to log in to the PC to check on the error.Since this was one of my customers using my hosted Exchange service I first checked the certificate to make sure it was from our Exchange provider. It looked fine, so I clicked the 'Yes' option and all worked well. The problem was that the alert box still came back each time they open Outlook. After a few minutes away from the issue, I realized that the problem must be in the Outlook settings because we're not using encryption and shouldn't need a certificate at all. I reconnected with the PC and went to the 'Security' tab in the account settings, unchecked the 'Encrypt data....' box and the warning went away and stayed away.I know there are lots of different causes and solutions to this but most are related to the Exchange Server setup. Since this is a hosted service, the best solution was a quick fix on the client...

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Advanta Bank - credit card - rate increase

I guess blogs tend to evolve. This is supposed to be a technical site but sometimes one just needs a soapbox to shout from and vent some frustrations. Here's one now.I just received a notice from Advanta Bank that my interest rate will be going up next month. When I signed up for this account, I was offered a fixed annual rate of 7.99%. The new rate is going to be 22.59% plus variable rate index. According to Advanta, The Variable Rate Index for any billing cycle is chosen by us from among the London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBORs) published int the Wall Street Journal's Money Rates section during the three (3) months prior to the month which contains that billing cycle's Billing Cycle Closing Date. So I'm figuring they can pick the highest of the past 3 months and add that to the 22.59% and (based on a quick Internet search) that is about 3%.So, 7.99% to 25.59%. My first thought was that I had misread the notice and that it must be for default accounts or special advances or someone...

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