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Comment: Re:I wouldn't trust non-professional reviewers (Score 5, Insightful) 248

by SkyLeach (#42397931) Attached to: Amazon: Authors Can't Review Books

This is idiotic at best, blatantly bigoted at worst. Collective reviews are changing the dynamic of consumer reporting. The only time that reviews wind up being skewed and unreliable is when something hasn't really been sampled and reviewed by many people.

Consider Google Maps reviews on restaurants. As a consumer I have found them highly valuable in avoiding restaurants that are poorly run and provide substandard food. The same is true for products that I should avoid on Amazon and other online retailers.

I do find that the higher the degree of intelligence and education required to understand and appreciate a product (examples: a book or technical item) the more it seems that the reviews are skewed by the individual competence of the reviewer,but that doesn't make the reviews worthless merely potentially misleading.

When I am reading consumer reviews of products, especially, movies, books and games/apps, I take this into consideration and look for telltale signs of ignorance in the review itself.

Google

+ - Google Wallet Strong-Arming customers?->

Submitted by
SkyLeach
SkyLeach writes "Google wallet, the payment utility behind all android and Google account purchases, is in the business of strong-arming customers for their merchants.

For more than a year, ever since getting my first Android phone, I have been working to get my Google wallet account unlocked. Unfortunately it seems that the only way Google will unlock my account is if I reverse my claims against one of their merchants and I don't even know which one.

In September of 2010 I was surprised to find my checking account missing $500. I was quite surprised to discover that the charge had come from Google. At this time I had no type of Google services. I didn't own an Android phone and I had never purchased any services from Google or from any of their affiliates.

As any credit card or debit card user would have done, I went to my financial institution and had the charges reversed. I then proceeded to have a new card issued since it was clear that my credit card must have been stolen and used without my consent.

Almost a year later I purchased my very first Android smart phone, an HTC Evo 3D with Sprint. After a few weeks of use my wife wanted to purchase an app. I, of course, proceeded to set up my payment method in the Google app store (this was before it was called Google Play). Much to my surprise I found that all of my transactions were refused. I contacted Google payment services (not yet called Google Wallet) and, after being asked to prove my identity, was greeted for the first time with my first copy of their policy concerning charge reversals.

To my great astonishment and anger, Google has a policy that if at any time any person with a Google account reverses a charge for any reason that person's account, linked to their email address, is locked down forever. You cannot get a new account. You cannot choose a new payment method, you cannot do anything at all. In spite of the fact that my Google email has been my primary email since 1998 (more than 14 years) and is linked to hundreds, perhaps even thousands of online accounts and is practically essential to my online identity I am barred forever from using it for any kind of financial transaction... including redeeming gift cards.

Now understand that if there had been some kind of abuse or fraud I may be able to understand this, but that is not the case. Google will not reveal the name of the merchant who attempted to charge me $500. In spite of a few dozen attempts to get information, they refuse to take any action whatever to resolve the situation. I am only given an email to discuss the matter, no phone number. I have not been given any kind of information on the transaction or any way to resolve the situation other than to go back and pay the original charge.

This is blatant abuse of power. They are holding my entire account hostage in an attempt to force me to agree to charges about which I am denied any knowledge.

They provide no customer service other than email, and all responses are little better than form letters. It is blatantly obvious that whoever reads these emails barely skims them before simply cutting and pasting a pre-written response.

In the end, it seems that Google's policy is that the customer is always wrong and that the merchant is always right."

Link to Original Source
The Internet

+ - Ask Slashdot: What was your favorite web comic of 2012? 3

Submitted by skade88
skade88 (1750548) writes "Its that time of the year again! You guessed it! Its time to do another year-end best-of roundup! Today's topic is web comics. What was your favorite web comic of 2012? Feel free to use the following categories or make up your own.

1) Best overall web comic series of 2012. (Any web comic that produced content in 2012)

2) Funniest web comic of 2012. (This one represents the single funniest comic of any web comic series.)

3) Best art in a web comic of 2012. (Web comic from 2012 with the most amazing art ever)

4) Web comic that was most relevant to you in 2012. (This one is even more subjective than the others)

I will post my choices along with why in the comments. I can't wait to see y'all's!"
Privacy

+ - Give us your personal data or pay full fare

Submitted by
ebh
ebh writes "Noted in an AP story about how fees make it difficult to compare air travel costs, is how the airline industry is moving toward tailoring offer packages (and presumably, fares) for individuals based on their personal information. Worse, "The airline association said consumers who choose not to supply personal information would still be able to see fares and purchase tickets, though consumer advocates said those fares would probably be at the "rack rate" — the travel industry's term for full price, before any discounts." Now, about those Amtrak upgrades..."
Government

+ - Congress, at Last Minute, Drops Requirement to Obtain Warrant to Monitor Email-> 1

Submitted by davidwr
davidwr (791652) writes "Before passing the Video Privacy Protection Act Amendments Act, the Senate dropped an amendment which would require the feds to get warrants before looking at mail older than 6 months that is stored on a 3rd-party server.

This means the status quo, dating from the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, remains."

Link to Original Source
China

+ - World's Longest High Speed Rail Line Opens in China->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Today China continued rolling out the future of high speed rail by officially unveiling the world’s longest high-speed rail line — a 2,298-kilometer (1,428-mile) stretch of railway that connects Beijing in the north to Guangzhou in the south. The first trains on the new route hit 300 kph (186 mph), cutting travel time between the two cities by more than half."
Link to Original Source
Science

+ - Chronic Alcohol and Marijuana Use During Youth Can Compromise White-Matter Integ->

Submitted by delishfruit
delishfruit (2641851) writes "Chronic use of alcohol and marijuana during youth is associated with poorer neural structure, function, and metabolism, as well as worsened neurocognitive abilities into later adolescence and adulthood. This may be due to biological and psychosocial transitions occurring during adolescence that impart increased vulnerability to neurotoxic influences. A study of longitudinal changes in fiber tract integrity associated with adolescent alcohol and marijuana use during 1.5 years supports previous findings of reduced white-matter integrity in these youth."
Link to Original Source
News

+ - FDA Closer to Approving Biotech Salmon, Critics Furious->

Submitted by delishfruit
delishfruit (2641851) writes "A controversial genetically engineered salmon has moved a step closer to the consumer's dining table after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday the fish didn't appear likely to pose a threat to the environment or to humans who eat it.
  AquAdvantage salmon eggs would produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. If it gets a final go-ahead, it would be the first food from a transgenic animal — one whose genome has been altered — to be approved by the FDA.

 "

Link to Original Source
Privacy

+ - Lax SSH key management a big problem

Submitted by cstacy
cstacy (534252) writes "Tatu Yionen, inventor of SSH, says he feels "a moral responsibility" to come out of retirement and warn that a "little-noticed problem" could jeopardize the security of much of the world's confidential data. He is referring to the management (or lack thereof) of SSH keys (i.e. "authorized_keys") files. He suggests that most organizations simply allow the SSH key files to be created, copied, accumulated, and abandoned, all over their network, making easy pickings for intruders to gain access.

Do you think this is a widespread problem?
How does your company manage SSH keys?"
Ubuntu

+ - Ubuntu Unity In 2013 Will Be All About Mobile: Mark Shuttleworth Swapnil Bharti-> 2

Submitted by sfcrazy
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, has shared his plans for 2013. It was clear from the Nexus 7 initiative that Ubuntu is eventually looking into the mobile space more seriously. Google created the cheap device Ubuntu was looking for wider testing and development. The initial builds of Ubuntu for Nexus 7 also showed that despite popular perception Unity is far from ready for the mobile devices. In fact quite a lot of 'controversial' technologies introduced in Unity don't fit on a mobile devices such as Global Menus or HUD.

So there are many challenges for Mark — redesign Unity for mobile, which may upset users again, get Ubuntu app developers to redesign apps for Ubuntu mobile, get top developers to write apps for Ubuntu... Is it all feasible when companies like RIM or Microsoft are struggling or is Ubuntu becoming a me too company which is not brining anything new to the table and is simply trying to claim a pie?"

Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists Construct First Map of How the Brain Organizes Everything We See

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Our eyes may be our window to the world, but how do we make sense of the thousands of images that flood our retinas each day? Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the brain is wired to put in order all the categories of objects and actions that we see. They have created the first interactive map of how the brain organizes these groupings."

Comment: In reply to many of the comments and OP (Score 1) 513

by SkyLeach (#42039775) Attached to: Dutch Cold Case Murder Solved After 8000 People Gave Their DNA

While it is true that government databases identifying the DNA of every citizen would reduce crime and increase convictions, it also means a great many other things. Here are two of them.

1.) Police would get very lazy very quickly. DNA would be used as the "de-facto" proof of guilt, in spite of the fact that DNA is shed by everyone all the time. An ex boyfriend gets accused of rape and since his DNA is there he's automatically guilty. A store gets robbed and the man who hasn't bathed in a week gets charged because his DNA is the "most prevalent" around the register. He probably should have used Dial.

2.) Just because our government is mostly benign now doesn't mean it will always be that way. When social and economic upheaval occurs a great many things can change. Imagine, if you will, a government run by neo Nazis. Suddenly they have DNA proof of, not only the Semitic groups, but all of their offshoot genetic cousins as well. Or perhaps someone develops a gene targeted disease and gets their hands on the government database. for my closing, one word: Gattica.

As to the man accused of rape in the Netherlands, I am curious if he was just trying to play innocent, trying to turn himself in, had forgotten about the rape, didn't think of the incident as rape at all, or if he is innocent and somehow got his DNA involved through some other means than direct collection from the victim. After all, it does seem a bit moronic to give one's DNA if one has committed rape (or any other crime) and hasn't been caught.

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