Archive for January 25th, 2008

Alltel Tells Father They Won’t Waive ETF For Soldier Deployed To Iraq Unless He Dies [Early Termination]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Consumer Interest

Them's the rules. Mark writes in,

My son recently was deployed to Iraq. His cell phone carrier is Alltel. Prior to leaving for Irag, he cancelled his cell phone coverage before the completion of his 2 year contract commitment. As his father, I telephoned Alltell, explained the situation and asked Alltel to have the $200 early termination fee waived. Alltel explained they only waive the $200 early termination fee if the party is DECEASED.
Seriously, that's just messed up.

Mark, check out this post about Alltel's policy for those serving in the military. Even if they refuse to budge on the ETF, they should be able to hold the account in limbo for 18 months without charging any fees.

(Thanks to Mark!)

RELATED
"A Document Alltel Looks At When You Want To Cancel Cellphone Service"


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Alltel Tells Father They Won’t Waive ETF For Soldier Deployed To Iraq Unless He Is Deceased [Early Termination]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Consumer Interest

Them's the rules. Mark writes in,

My son recently was deployed to Iraq. His cell phone carrier is Alltel. Prior to leaving for Irag, he cancelled his cell phone coverage before the completion of his 2 year contract commitment. As his father, I telephoned Alltell, explained the situation and asked Alltel to have the $200 early termination fee waived. Alltel explained they only waive the $200 early termination fee if the party is DECEASED.
Seriously, that's just messed up.

Mark, check out this post about Alltel's policy for those serving in the military. Even if they refuse to budge on the ETF, they should be able to hold the account in limbo for 18 months without charging any fees.

(Thanks to Mark!)

RELATED
"A Document Alltel Looks At When You Want To Cancel Cellphone Service"


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Patent granted on smartphones, everyone sued

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Technology

Filed under:


What would you do if the US patent office gave you the go-ahead on a far-reaching, non-specific application filed for a "mobile entertainment and communication device"? If your answer was that you would immediately draw up lawsuits against almost every major electronics manufacturer that even looked at a smartphone funny, you get a cookie. Yes folks, as impossible as it is to believe, the holders of the aforementioned patent have just sued Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sprint, AT&T, HP, Motorola, Helio, HTC, Sony Ericsson, UTStarcomm, and Samsung... amongst others. So eager was this company to sue, in fact, that legal papers were filed a day before the patent was granted, and subsequently had to re-submitted. The real sucker-punch here is that the patent simply combines a list of prior technologies jumbled into one product, a practice which has recently been ruled against by the Supreme Court. Still, we doubt it will stop the holders from trying to nab a few dollars in settlements, staying the work of real innovators, and generally making a mockery of our patent system. Bravo!

[Via Slashdot]

 

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SmartQ T5 flash player gets updated, taunts us from afar

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Technology

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We thought the SmartQ T5 was a solid little player with decent codec support when we first spotted it back in August, but SmartQ's gone and updated it to the T5-II Deluxe Edition, featuring a new video chip that supports TV-out, AV-in, and the RMVB codec, which supports 1024x576 video. Unfortunately, the screen resolution remains at QVGA, but the actual panel's also been bumped up to display 16.7 million colors. Too bad we probably won't ever see this bad boy in the States -- why is it we only get the crap?

[Via thegadgetsite]

 

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Alleged Gibson CEO Possibly Responds To $10k Contest Story [Responses]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Consumer Interest

con_gibsonmysteryceo.jpg Brand new Consumerist reader Mosten posted a comment including the following response that's allegedly from Gibson's CEO regarding the $10,000 prize they never made good on to an NYC hip-hop artist. We have no way of verifying whether this response is legit, but thought it was worth sharing for those who are following the story.

"I will investigate this issue and get back to you as soon as I get the facts. Since its Friday it will probably be early next week [hopefully Monday].

I will tell you that Don Pitts is no longer with Gibson and has not been with us for some time.

I have no personal knowledge about this issue and I personally approve all promotions for the company. We have a formal system where any agent of Gibson needs to present a promotion, its benefits and its cost. This then needs to be approved by a least two people before it comes to my desk. We do take these commitments seriously, and we have very strict internal processes to insure we deliver on our promises.

Regardless, I will get to the bottom of this and we will get you what was legitimately promised.

I do not know who you talked to other than attempting to contact Don, but we do have people on the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week to solve any Gibson related issue [1-800-4-GIBSON]. While they do not have the authority to send you $10,000 worth of gear on the spot they are literally less than a minute from my office and should/could have resolved this in a very short period of time. If you had an unsatisfactory conversation with anyone else at Gibson, let me know so we can insure that this will not happen in the future.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to address this problem."

Henry E. Juszkiewicz
Chief Executive Officer
Gibson Guitar Corp.
309 Plus Park

(Thanks to Mosten!)

RELATED
"Gibson Screws Musician Out Of $10,000 Worth Of Equipment"
(Photo: Getty)


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Tesla Roadster gets wrecked by the feds… in the name of safety, of course

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Technology

Filed under:

It's shots like these of the Tesla Roadster getting pwned passing those federal safety tests that make vast government bureaucracy worth it, don't you think? A full gallery over at AutoBlog.

 

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This Week’s Best Posts [Highlights]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Uncategorized

Happy Friday, lifehackers! Busy week? In case you missed anything, here's a digest of this week's most popular posts:

  • Lifehacker's Exclusive Line of Productivity Software
    "Not only do the editors here at Lifehacker feed your head with a feast of posts every day, every once in a while we put our programming chops to good use and build custom software for our readers."
  • How to Suck Less at Photoshop
    "Screencaster Donnie Hoyle says you suck at Photoshop, and offers a few hilarious NSFW tutorials that contain some naughty words (so don't watch 'em in front of the children)."
  • Top 10 Free Download Managers
    "Whether you do your downloading via BitTorrent, FTP, or plain old HTTP, efficiently sucking files down from the cloud onto your hard drive takes the right tools."
  • Reasons (and Ways) to Avoid Buying Just-Released Gadgetry
    "Productivity blog Put Things Off lists five reasons why buying new tech the minute it's released (*cough* MacBook Air *cough*) is a bad idea."
  • Learn to Profile People
    "Machiavellian psychology suggests that if you profile people around you, you'll be less inclined to be involved in personal conflicts."
  • Install OS X on Your Hackintosh PC, No Hacking Required
    "Now you can install Leopard on your non Apple hardware about as easily as installing Leopard on a Mac--no command line hacking required."
  • Jailbreak the iPhone 1.1.3 Firmware for Third Party Apps
    "Third party iPhone app lovers who also want the latest and greatest Apple firmware rejoice, as iPhone hacker extraordinaire Nate True has released a new jailbreaking application for the recently released iPhone 1.1.3 firmware."
  • Design Your Own Desktop with KDE 4
    "One of the best things about KDE 4, the newest release of the mainstream Linux desktop manager, is something it doesn't do--force you to adapt to its way of running a computer desktop."


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NYC’s New High-Tech Public Bathroom Is Freaky, Robotic [Tourism]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Consumer Interest

I am a magic space toilet machine For years, New York City was a grim place to be when you had to use the bathroom, since there are almost no public facilities (not counting Starbucks). But earlier this month the first of 20 high-tech pay toilets opened in the city, in Madison Square Park just north of 23rd Street. Now the next time you visit the city and need to answer nature's call, grab a quarter and head over there to experience the strange combination of a $100,000 prison cell/car wash/elevator/Louvre. It's the cheapest "experience" you'll probably find in the city.

When the $.25 is inserted, the doors close verrry slowly to give plenty of time to everyone:

What follows is possibly the longest and most awkward 20 to 30 seconds of a person's day. The door slips open like an elevator, but then it stays open, to accommodate those who need extra time getting in. Meanwhile, men and women in suits walk past. It is very difficult to look inconspicuous in a bathroom on a sidewalk in New York with the door open. There is just nothing to do but stand there. And the delay will not please those who are in distress.
Once inside, you can't hear the city because of the heavily dampened walls. There's a pyramid-shaped skylight to let natural light in—that's the Louvre part, which we guess means you can pretend to be a giant taking a poo in the shopping mall underneath a Paris musem. There's a black button that dispenses up to three 16-inch strips of toilet paper, a couple of distress call buttons, and the soap squirts out pre-mixed into the water for more efficient hand-washing.

When you leave, a weight-sensor built into the floor confirms that nobody is inside, then the entire room is washed and sanitized by a robotic arm.

"Greetings, Earthlings. Your New Restroom Is Ready." [New York Times]
(Photo: Getty)


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New York Expands Countrywide Class Action Suit [Lawsuits]

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Consumer Interest

con_countrywideatm.jpg Today, New York City and state expanded their class action lawsuit against Countrywide Financial Corp. to include two more company officers, twenty underwriters (including big investment banks like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch), and two accounting firms. "We will pursue every avenue to ensure that those who defrauded investors are held accountable for their actions," said the NYC Comptroller.

Executives of Countrywide "cashed out to the tune of almost $700 million" while borrowers lost homes and the value of investors' shares fell sharply, [NYC Comptroller] Thompson said in a statement.
"Countrywide's underwriters had a duty to investigate whether Countrywide was acting honestly," [NY State Comptroller] DiNapoli said. "Instead, the underwriters and accountants enabled Countrywide to release false statements."
"NY expands Countrywide suit with more defendants" [Reuters] (Photo: sbfisher)

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MovieBeam hardware gets hacked for shell access

Posted by Ry on Jan 25 2008 | Technology

Filed under:

Judging from the fairly consistent stream of comments on our "MovieBeam is dead" post, there are quite a few of you out there looking to hack your now-defunct MovieBeam hardware -- which strikes us as a somewhat quixotic effort, but then again, so was the entire MovieBeam enterprise. Anyway, it looks like some solid progress is starting to be made, with a dev wiki up and running, and instructions for getting into the hard drive, netbooting, gaining shell access, and even running custom code posted up. It's all at the read link, for those of you still chasing the dream.

 

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