Gray Flannel Dwarf

1/3/2007

Clearwire looks kinda cloudy.

Well, I’d been hearing the ads and even gotten something in the mail for Clearwire, I thought I’d look into them.

Off the bat, I found it odd that, although 1) I got a flyer in the mail and 2) they show my town in the coverage area, entering my ZIP on their site says service isn’t available. Having dealt enough with services not being available in the past, a red flag went up… and I began to investigate some more.

Didn’t take long to find this website and forum which shows a few people aren’t happy. What’s more interesting about that site is not the number of complaints, however… it’s the number of vehement shadow puppets who argue that people get what they deserve for not reading their contracts, etc.

While I don’t deny that people should read their contracts, it seems a lot of the complaints revolve around port filtering, traffic throttling/shaping and general service issues around anything not going through port 80. Interestingly enough, however, there is nothing on the Clearwire website about this, other than a section labeled “Excessive Use of Network Resources”… under which it is Clearwire’s “sole discretion” what such usage is.

I’ve read a lot about them throttling P2P, despite its advantages for, say, downloading linux torrents. Not cool… and it appears that people can’t use their third-party VOIP providers over the service either… and conveniently enough, Clearwire does offer their own VOIP service. A novel entry into the world of “net neutrality”… and certainly, searching their website, you won’t find much which specifically mentions “P2P”, “bit torrent”, etc. Shady.

I noticed they have a Business plan, which is about 15 bucks more a month and appears to offer little more than a static IP and a few email addresses/megs of diskspace (what business uses provider-hosted webspace these days?)… but based on what I’ve read, why do I get the feeling that much of my work — where I use SSH, and generally do plenty of stuff on ports other than 80, would trigger throttling? I have quite a bit of leeway allowing me to work from home, but it sure appears that this would be wholly inadequate for my VPN needs. I’d venture to say it barely qualifies to be considered “broadband”.

I could go on talking about some of the other stuff that looks lame, like the fact they offer a mere seven-day trial. That’s hardly enough to know whether something will work for you, and just long enough for you to find out that it won’t — a few days in. But anyway, I’m smart enough to both read their terms of service, do my own research… and eventually decide on my own that this service looks like a real piece of crap.


Tags: , , , , , — cswiii @ 2:55 pm

2/20/2006

Blue media outlets need to clean up their advertising.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as… well, Pie.

Listening to Air America online this weekend, I noticed two irksome things. The first one is the fact that listening to the radio stream while advertisements are played opens browser pop-ups referring to the ad in question. That this happens over and over again — and thus, if you leave your computer for a while, there are twenty new pop-ups for the same thing across your computer monitor — is something of an annoyance. This said, however, it’s a revenue stream that Air America needs, and seeing as it was for a reasonably useful product (internet-based teleconferencing for business), I don’t have such a huge problem with it.
The other ad I heard a lot is problematic to me, and Air America isn’t the only one that seems to be ensnared. Read on…

The other ad I heard a lot on Air America was for the questionable See Clearly Method. One doesn’t have to be an optometrist to know that it’s more than “weak eye muscles” that cause bad vision, and nevermind that the concept is based on a readily debunked 1920s theory, See Clearly operates under the premise that people can miraculously improve their vision… all while having a disclaimer with holes large enough to drive a car through. Another article published by Columbia university takes a more open-mind at the approach, but even one of the most pragmatic doctors interviewed stated:
(All emphasis in the following quotes is mine)

“It’s not just can we peel back your power,” said Press. “It’s for someone who is -1 or -2 and who asks ‘Can I do away with my glasses?’”

…and any such claim is certainly muted by the advertisers of See Clearly.
So why is Air America taking advertising dollars from questionable businesses… and thrusting these ads upon its listening audience?
So, okay. Maybe there are some See Clearly believers out there. Maybe there is a grain of truth and/or hope in their claims. Thus, I guess I could’ve even let this one issue go, however… if I hadn’t read Raw Story today and seen an advertisement about “Americans getting free weekly checks from the Canadian Government!” that went to this dubious webpage. (I removed the referral credits in the URL)
Now of course, the old adage probably holds true… “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” However, I did some research on these claims. Sure enough, it didn’t take long to find some more realistic information…

I suppose what I truly dislike about these programs is that they were tax structures, and those inevitably turn out to be disastrous.
Then, speaking as a proud Canadian who thinks we overall have a superlative capital market, I just cringe when I see U.S.-based Internet marketing of these so-called Trust Programs.
Let me say that, with respect to the latter, I believe there is a direct correlation between the frequency of stock promotion by unlicensed promoters and the probability of fraud.
Many of these securities are businesses that will fail (or materially disappoint) as soon as interest rates in Canada move a level or two higher, or commodity prices fall a level or two lower, or the fast-paced Canadian economy starts to slow.
In other words, there is a level of risk here that traders are failing to recognize.
I think the authorities in the United States would do the world a favor if they were to clamp down on so-called investment newsletters that are stock touts for these “Canadian Royalty Trusts”.
Every cycle is the same at the top. Usually it’s the Canadian penny mining stocks. At the top they have moved from 25 cents a share to $2.50, or maybe $7.50 or $17.50, and then after the broad market bear sets in they fall quickly to less than 25 cents.
What bothers me is that it is not part of the Canadian culture that creates these financial disasters; it is typically (and I mean no disrespect to the country) American stock promoters who are working out of places like Orlando FL and Phoenix AZ and Las Vegas NV, but mostly via shell companies incorporated in places like Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, and Panama (– Note the list is alphabetical). I speak from years of experience with these people.

Or this posting…

Be that as it may, the income Royalty Trusts have NOTHING to do with Canada’s social programs and are NOT (I repeat) NOT guaranteed by the Canadian Government.

…which reproduces a quite pertinent Globe and Mail article on the topic…

What’s laughable is how the 12% Letter offers up yet another example of the cockeyed view Americans have of this country. But there’s a serious side to all of this, too. With its idealized picture of income trusts as a government-authorized investing bonanza, the newsletter highlights the way in which some investors in Canada misunderstand trusts. It also plays into some of the criticisms that the anti-trust crowd have raised.
According to the 12% Letter, income trusts are being referred to by some financial types south of the border as the “Canadian royalty checks program.” Readers of the newsletter are advised to think of trusts as an example of the great social benefits of being a Canadian.
“You probably already know that Canada is famous for its huge social programs — like free health care, the Guaranteed Income Allowance (otherwise known as ‘The Allowance’) and federal training and employment programs,” the promo for the 12% Letter says. “What you may not know is that there’s a unique situation right now in Canada that is allowing Americans to fund part or nearly all their retirement.”
The 12% Letter is written by Craig Walters, a former equity analyst and currently the managing editor of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, which is based in Baltimore. Those of you who are familiar with the wacky and wild world of investment newsletters will have an idea of what we’re dealing with here. There are headlines about investments offering the moon and stars (43-per-cent bonds, for example) and breathless prose about opportunities.
The information about trusts — sorry, the “royalty checks” program — is a bit, um, garbled. But it does capture the gold-rush mentality that took hold of the trust market just before Finance Minister Ralph Goodale made it clear the government was taking a hard look at the trust sector.

So okay. There are scams everywhere, I know, a sucker is born every minute, etc. However in this instance, in a timeframe of less than twenty-four hours, I’ve seen two questionable business claims that are barely a step up from snake oil salesmen, and both have been seen on left-leaning media outlets.
While there is the question as to what degree of control Raw Story had over these ads — their third party ad agency might not have the scruples to leave such scams out of their rotation — the larger question still remains unanswered: Why are we seeing questionable ads which employ dubious practices appearing on the media outlets that we all read? Sure, “buyer beware”… but isn’t the left supposed to be mindful and protective of the masses, not a predator thereof. Likewise, shouldn’t such a courtesy be extended by the media outlets which promote left-leaning viewpoints?

7/28/2005

Telephone tags

I ended up getting one of those SMS.ac invites from my wife yesterday who inadvertently spammed everyone in her Yahoo mail list, thanks to the scheming techniques used by SMS.ac to “add all your friends” to your contact list there. In other words, you give them your yahoo (or hotmail) info, they login to your mailbox, and while “updating your contacts”, sends invites to everyone on the list.

Also note that this is done before one even fully activates an account.

And then there is this, from their terms of service page:

How Much Does It Cost?
* Each day send up to 5 FREE SMS (text messages) from the Web to mobile phones for 30 days. (A Only)
* $0.25 per mobile text message sent or received for B, C, D, E, and F (and A after first free msgs for 30 days).
* You may send STOP to 57413 to stop any of A, B, C, D, E, or F messages at any time.
* Free to receive messages by email. All charges occur on your mobile phone account.

A-F are different “levels” of users, with “A” being only known friends, etc.

However, note that you pay, after 30 days, for all messages received… and from what I’ve heard, you get ads too… and of course pay for those (although they are probably classified within B-F).

So… expect to be bitchslapped if I received these “invite” emailings from any others amongst you.


Tags: , — cswiii @ 11:21 am