Thursday, July 03, 2008

Using Ad Block Plus to Go Straight to a Game

If you're a fan of Flash games, but hate seeing all the clutter around them, here's a good way to cut straight to the chase using AdBlock.

First, go to the page where the game is. Look at all that junk!

Next, open up the AdBlock interface and look for the link ending in "SWF" that looks like it's the game.

Open that up, and copy and paste the link into your address bar, and voila:

The great thing is that the game will now take up the entire browser screen, and you'll avoid all that crap surrounding it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Modest Telemarketing Proposal

So the phone rings while I'm doing dishes around 6 o'clock, while I'm trying to finish dishes before my wife gets home so she can start supper (man I'm a great husband.) So I remove the gloves (make fun of me if you want) and check the call display. It's an 800 number. You know where this is headed. It's gonna be a telemarketer. I have a compulsive need to answer anyway, because if I don't and they don't leave a message, I start to get worried I missed something important.

They ask if I'm Thomas Robertson, I say yes, and they say that they're contacting citi Mastercard holders about an exciting offer for medical leave credit insurance or something. I didn't let them finish - I knew I wouldn't be interested, told them and said to remove my name from their callers list. (Hey, I figure it's worth a shot.)

The thing that really gets me though, is that they were obviously referred by my credit card company. And it wasn't even the credit card company that called me - just one of their 'partners'. So basically, they're selling my information to these people directly, or taking a cut of the sales. This really infuriates me.

Why is it that when I go to a free website where I'm asked to give my email address, 90% of the time it will say "we will never sell your email address or information or share it with any third parties" but other services that I sign up to be a paid customer with feel it's okay to share my information? And the ones that do, at least they offer a link explaining it. Most places you sign up with over the phone don't even give you that opportunity.

So this is what I'm doing and I'm proposing. First, I'm calling citi and telling them to remove my name from all of their marketing materials and to inform their 'partners' to do likewise. And I'll tell them that if I receive a marketing call from them ever, I'll cancel my account with them. Simple bargain.

Part of me wants to take this one step further. I'm pretty sure that ANY company I give my information to over the phone or by form, I'm going to tell them the same bargain.
If I get a telemarketing call from them or one of their 'partners' I'm canceling my service with them. If we put as much pressure on 'offline' businesses as we do on online ones, maybe they'll stop this invasive and annoying practice of selling my information.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rogers Doesn't "Support Linux"

So I'm having trouble with Internet connection last night. Basically, pages are sporadically not loading up. I recently installed a wireless router, so I thought I'd plug the computer directly back into the modem. Reset the modem - still no Internet. So, I thought I'd boot into my Ubuntu partition to see if it's an OS issue. Same issue in Ubuntu. Okay, so it must be something to do with the modem. I reset it once more to no avail before I try Rogers Technical Support.

After the ridiculously slow voice-activated menu system "Okay, Technical Support for hi-speed Internet. Did you mean Blackberry, Wireless, Hi-Speed..." (I kid you not) I get through to someone.

"Hi, I'm having a problem with my Internet connection. My computer won't receive a network address from the modem."

"Ohay sir (for some reason he said 'okay' like this*) can I ask what version of Windows you have?"

"Oh, I'm in Ubuntu Linux."

"Ohay sir, we actually don't support that Operating System."

"Um, okay. I could start into my XP partition then." (I didn't want to get into a fight about it.)

"Ohay, could I ask that you do that then?"

So I started the long process of rebooting into Windows. During the 5-minute process (I have a lot of crap that loads automatically. I want it all to load, but it takes a long time) I get asked about 10 times "Ohay, have you rebooted yet?" to which I responded "Still waiting. I'll let you know when it's booted up."

So finally, I tell him I'm booted up, and it's still not receiving an IP address from the modem.

"Ohay sir, I'm pinging your modem and the communication is fine to it. Can you try unplugging your modem for 10 seconds, then plugging it back in."

So I did this, and this time, for some reason it works. It may have been that I didn't leave it off for enough time last time.

So my question is, why could this problem not be resolved in Linux? Unplugging the modem and plugging it back in? Could he not at least have tried that option while in Linux? Pity Joe Consumer who bought a cheap Linux box from Walmart, or Ubuntu pre-installed from Dell, only to find out that Rogers won't even try to help him with his Internet connection.

So finally, I ask him what he thinks the problem might have been.

"Do you have a firewall?"

"No, I have Windows Firewall turned off."

"Ohay, well I think you might have a firewall."

"No, there's only one, and it's turned off. And I had the same problem in two OS's, which leads me to think it's not an OS issue."

"I think you might have a virus."

"But it was the same problem in Linux. How could I have the same virus in Windows and Linux? You know how almost impossible it is to even get a virus in Linux?"

"You never know these days, sir."

I really didn't feel like fighting him. He has his job to do, whatever.

But Rogers: you suck. As soon as I can find a reasonably priced alternative ISP, I'm gone. It's just a matter of time.

*About the 'ohay' in case anyone's wondering. He was a native English speaker - I'm not trying to make fun of another culture or anything. I just believe that this 'ohay' was his own annoying little 'thing'.