Sunday, May 22, 2011

Facebook doesn't get it!

I've recently been getting tons of emails from a group on Facebook. It appears that anyone can add you to a Facebook group. Then it is up to you to opt out of that group or opt out of the emails from that group. This is opposite of what it should be. This is why I don't like or use Facebook much.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

If Smart Meters are so smart, why can't PG&E just turn them off?

If Smart Meters are so smart, why can't PG&E just turn them off for those customers who don't want them?

I've been following PG&E's near-criminal heavy-handed installation of their smart meters. In the Monterey area, hundreds of their customers have objected to having these smart meters installed. In other areas of California, dozens if not hundreds of customers have complained that their electricity bills went up once these smart meters were installed, even though they did not have any change in their electricity use habits. Both PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission dismissed the claims of these customers. PG&E always treats customers like we are idiots.

Now, in just the last couple of days, PG&E has admitted that 1600 of their Smart Meters were indeed defective and have been transmitting incorrect information, resulting in overcharges to those customers. In today's San Jose Mercury News, there's a story about a couple who has been refunded $1400 for the overbilling by their Smart Meter. The husband has a technical background and was able to prove that the Smart Meter had overbilled them.

In the Monterey area, hundreds of their customers have objected to having these smart meters installed. PG&E has only recently backed off a bit from force-feeding these customers. Their latest solution, however, is pretty ludicrous. If you don't want a Smart Meter, then you can opt out, but only at a very high price -- $135 up front and $20 per month after that.

If Smart Meters are so smart, why can't PG&E just turn them off?

Here's a thought. If PG&E is paying so much to install these things, and they have the ability to wirelessly transmit data -- why doesn't PG&E do something good for a change, something that gives back to their communities? Why doesn't PG&E help bring free wireless internet to their communities that also helps them collect the data that these Smart Meters purportedly collect?

I am a fan of La Quinta and Hampton Inn hotels

I am a fan of La Quinta hotels, because of their friendly service and policy that allows dogs of any size at no additional charge. La Quinta is a truly pet-friendly hotel chain, as opposed to other hotels that advertise themselves as "pet-friendly" but then surprise you by allowing only dogs that are under 25 pounds. That's hardly truthful advertising.

Ever try to check into a hotel, and it takes the staff 30 minutes to get you into your room? I find that incredibly annoying, particularly since you've just spent 12 hours fighting your way through airports. You are tired. The better hotels already know you from your frequent guest program, and they check you in quickly.

Ever stand in line at a hotel while the clerk chats on the phone, or perhaps the clerk helps you, but then answers the phone while you are waiting? Find that incredibly rude and annoying? I have a story with a good ending for once. At the Lacey, WA La Quinta one evening, I arrived after a long drive. I had spoken on the phone to the clerk, who reserved a room for me. When I came through the door, she was on the phone, and I groaned inwardly, expecting another long wait to get my room key. Instead, she looked up, and handed me the key and the folio. I did not have to give her my drivers license, passport, birth certificate, fill out any form, etc. She had gotten all that information from my La Quinta Rewards information. Not only that, but this hotel had put out freshly baked cookies and chocolate-dipped strawberries for their guests! I was impressed.

I'm also a big fan of Hampton Inns, because the rooms are almost always in good shape (no mildewy shower curtains), the rooms are generally spacious and clean, and the staff is generally professional.

I've stayed in Motel 6 motels in the past for a couple of times, and they are generally what I call "suicide" rooms. Stay in a room like that, and you want to commit suicide.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

PayPal violates its own rules for web security!

I don't understand. I don't get it.

One of the biggest warnings that Paypal and other financial institutions puts out is "never click on links that are embedded in emails." To do so is to invite the possibility that you click on a fraudulent email with a fraudulent link.

Yet, PayPal has been sending me this email, telling me that I should click on an embedded link to verify my account. This is a valid Paypal email and the link is also valid. But what the heck?!