More stupid from Bell

I received a call today from Bell. They were pushing their three-in-one bundle of home-phone, satellite TV, and Internet. Once I could get a word in edgewise, I told the guy I wasn’t interested. At that point he hung up on me. That’s Bell, keeping it classy.

So I called the Bell customer service number to tell them to stop their telemarketing calls. Four levels deep into their telephone system maze, I had to listen to a promo for Clara Hughes’s ride across Canada. It’s a great cause, but when I’m trapped in your phone system, it would be wise that you not throw your good deeds into my face and waste my time, okay Bell? I might get the crazy idea that you really don’t give a crap about the cause and are merely using it to make money.

I finally got through to a real live person, and she was so singsongy, I’m still not convinced she was a real person. I asked that they no longer have their telemarketers call my number. She asked if I meant that I wanted their telemarketers to stop calling, or all telemarketers to stop calling. Seeing the trap, I quickly explained clearly that I didn’t want them calling me, because she otherwise would have shuffled me off to the do-not-call list, and Bell would have kept calling me. All told, she apologized and promised three times that Bell’s telemarketers wouldn’t call me any more. I was tempted to ask for how long, but I didn’t. Nor did I explain that their telemarketers were acting in a way that does Bell no favours.

Is it really so difficult to understand, Bell? Simply don’t bug me and don’t act like an asshole when you contact me. If you follow these simple rules, you won’t have to apologize. Make no mistake, pissing me off and then apologizing doesn’t make it all better.

Oh, check out this pearl from the “just because you say it, doesn’t make it true” department of the Bell web site:

How does Bell commit to their customers?


Yes, delight. Simply put, that’s our mission: To delight you with the products, services and customer support that we provide to you every day.

Talk about clueless. I’m sure they have all sorts of high-cost consultants, but they still don’t have anything resembling a damned clue. Delight is the farthest thing from my mind when dealing with these jokers.

Oh the spam

In my last post, I mentioned that I was cranky. It’s true. I confronted more evidence of it today. Believe it or not, spam is pissing me off. Normally I just ignore it, but in a mood like this, I get annoyed at it.

The comment spam filter caught this beauty:

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is not that great, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Frankly, I don’t care about search engine optimization. And the suggestions given are ridiculous. Seriously, the text should have a 5% keyword density? One of every twenty words needs to be a keyword? Suggestion, I laugh at thee. If I were forced to use one keyword in every twenty words, it would surely be blow me. Oh, that’s two words. I should need it only every forty words, then!

And yes, I did not include the site name and URL … but rather a sequence of furious capital ‘X’ characters.

Upon reading just the first line, the response that popped into my head was,

Hello comment writer, I noticed that you need to go fuck yourself.

Like I said … cranky.

Silly spammers

I’ve just recently decided to let Googlebot and the other search engine robots in so they can index Seeking Another Alien Shore. Why not? As a result, I’ve started getting comment spam. The spammers’ automated system leave spam in the form of post comments.

Frankly, it’s weird.

An example is supposedly from Darrin Ropac, at a web site almost called I say ‘almost’ because I changed the domain to so you don’t mistakenly click it, and I don’t get the reputation for harbouring spam URLs from visiting robots that see it. I’d think it exceedingly unlikely that people would click the link of an unknown commenter who posts a ridiculous comment. I must be wrong because spammers wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Why do I say the comment is ridiculous? Decide for yourself. This is the comment:

This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. This is extremely nice 1 and gives in depth information.

The sentence structure is a mess and the person is trying to sound far smarter than they can write. The worst part is the context, however. It was a comment on the OoCQotD post about how Chewbacca can poop wherever he wants.

How would you like some in-depth information about that?

Print by e-mail

A few months ago, Hewlett-Packard announced a new line of printers that allow printing via e-mail. I’m not exactly sure how it works but it must print the attachment of any e-mail message it receives. Printing the e-mail message itself doesn’t make much sense. The comments on the various news stories I saw often brought up how the printers would be targeted with spam in record time.

That’s certainly true if you allow wide-open access to the e-mail address the printer would have, but you’d be silly to allow such access. Some posts even suggested that HP themselves would get in on this to sell more toner. I thought that was a step too far toward conspiracy theorist territory.

I was wrong.

According to Computerworld’s article, “HP partners with Yahoo for targeted ads,” the people over at HP have lost their fracking minds:

The company also sees a potential for localized, targeted advertising to go along with the content. While testing its ePrint Web-connected printers, HP ran two trials where consumers received content from a U.S. national music magazine and major U.S. newspaper along with advertisements, said Stephen Nigro, senior vice president in HP’s Imaging and Printing Group.

Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly clear. How did consumers receive this content? Did they print it themselves? Was it sent to them and just popped out of the printer without being requested? In the former case, I expect what appears on the page to exactly represent what’s on the screen. If it’s not, the printer isn’t doing its job. And the latter situation better not ever happen to me.

The most laughable comment, clearly indicating that Nigro has his head up his ass is,

“What we discovered is that people were not bothered by it [an advertisement],” Nigro said. “Part of it I think our belief is you’re used to it. You’re used to seeing things with ads.”

We may be used to it, but that’s merely a sad commentary on the current state of advertising, not a reason to extend it into new areas. That they’re doing this shows how far HP has fallen. They were the cutting edge of printing technology, and now they want to cash in on ads because their test group “isn’t bothered” by them. How about aiming a little higher than simply not bothering people?

Don’t think it ends there, either. Ho no! They also figure that they can use the printer’s IP address to get at least a rough idea where you are, and tailor ads to your location. Of course they assure us that they’ll keep our privacy in mind. Tell me another one.

The only way I can figure this working is if you must subscribe to whatever information is sent to you. The article mentions having the printer automatically print the morning paper for you at 7 am every day. That sounds all futuristic, in a 1960 sort of way, but surely the newspaper isn’t going to send you the news for free. Will it be cheaper to print the paper yourself than to have it delivered? Don’t bet on it. HP and Yahoo need their share of the revenues. And you’ll pay for the privilege of printing the ads. Lucky you.

For goodness sakes, why do I want my daily news printed on paper in this day and age?

I’ll pass, thanks.

I looked into how the printer does its magic. According to a article:

The way the ePrint platform will work is every HP ePrinter will be given a unique email address that allows users to send print jobs to their printer in the same way they would send an email message.

Once sent, the email containing the document or photo to be printed is forwarded to an HP datacenter, where the email message is prepared for printing, and then forwarded on to users printer about 30 seconds later. Of course, your printer must be turned on and connected to the internet in order to successfully print.

So all your print jobs are sent to HP on the way to your printer. Forget about printing anything of an even a mildly sensitive nature. I see that this makes it much easier to configure, but sacrifices security.

I’ll definitely pass. It’s a gimmick for which I can’t even imagine a use.

We know you don't want spam, but…

Whenever you sign up with a site on the web, you usually get spam. The better sites allow you to opt-out of e-mail ads when you register, but most only offer that option when you get the first spam message.

Microsoft isn’t known for their warm customer service, and they seem to have no interest in cultivating such an image. Case-in-point is a message I received today from Samantha Goldman. She’s Director of Customer and Partner Experience with Microsoft Canada.

The message begins:

Dear Rick,

You may not know this, but your contact preferences do not allow us to send you e-mail communications about valuable Microsoft product offers, services, and events that might benefit you.

So let me understand this. Since I signed up for an account, they, by default, feel free to send me spam. I therefore change my account settings to stop the spam. As a result, they send me spam to inform me that I configured my account so they don’t send me spam. And while they’ve got my attention, they thoughtfully include instructions on how I can change the settings to allow them to send me spam.

Fuck off, already. How clear do I need to be?

Imagine that a friend of yours works the evening shift and he’s up in the middle of the night. He likes to call you so you have to tell him not to call you in the middle of the night. It’s ridiculous that your friend thinks his behaviour is acceptable because he knows you sleep at night, but you’ve taken care of it. How would you then react if he called in the middle of the night to ask if you’re sure that you don’t want him to call in the middle of the night?

Same thing. A message informing me how to change my settings to allow spam is spam.

My first thought was that I need to write Ms. Goldman and suggest that since she thinks her message was a good idea, I am directing her to remove any account information they have on file for me, as well as any other information. But really, why bother? If they don’t get it, they won’t understand any explanation of why they have their heads up their asses.

What I’ll do instead is log in and change my contact e-mail address to her e-mail address, or some other Microsoft address. Spam me all you want!

Postscript: Damn it. They make you confirm an address change by sending a message to the new address and requiring that you click a link in the message. Oh well, I’ll just have to be satisfied with creating a temporary e-mail address, changing my contact address to the temporary address, then deleting it. Done and done.