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Slashback: Livermore, Privacy, Nixieness 194

Slashback's amplifications and updates tonight include more on Best Buy's worst practices for data security, how the proposed Federal government restructuring will affect Lawrence Livermore labs,a long-overdue Maglev for those of us outside France or Japan, and even more on building Nixie-tube toys. Read on for the details.

Fancy titles attract bigger budgets. SeanAhern writes: "Following up on last week's Slashdot article about LLNL's role in the new Department of Homeland Security, it turns out that LLNL will not change its role or change hands. Instead, LLNL may become a 'center for excellence,' essentially taking on a research role for the new Department. More information can be found in a couple of articles around the press."

Why not just shout it cashier-to-cashier? jqcoffey writes: "A while ago it was discovered that Best Buy was using wireless LANs to transmit cash register data back to accounting servers. The problem was it was UN-encrypted data. They turned them off for a while and now, according to this Computerworld story, they are back on."

Maglev for the Maglevians! LighthouseJ writes: "The Hampton Roads Virginia paper, the Pilot recently reported that my current school, Old Dominion University, recently installed the very first maglev train in the United States on the elevated track already built the previous school year. This train won't go that fast (40 mph) compared to the bullet trains that travel at 300 mph, but at the same token, it won't be traveling that far. The service has been scheduled to start September 1st.

There is some information I have about the maglev that's not mentioned. First, the school is in a rectangle, with the maglev built in the center length-wise. It connects the main campus with the new construction happening across the major road, Hampton Rd and has 3 stations planned now with more to come as the track may extend in the future. They are building more housing, education and meeting places, and the maglev will facilitate safe transportation across that road for students and faculty."

Can this really be the first Mag-lev train in the U.S.? A nifty project regardless.

When a Rolex just isn't good enough. fixitsan2 writes: "I know this thread has been gone over before, when it appeared at the start of February, but ironically, about the same time as the thread ended a group was started on Yahoo!. Not only was it a fast-growing newsgroup, but the technical standard is extremely high. Covering all aspects of building nixie tube clocks as well as other nixie devices including safe power generation, and all display methods from direct drive to multiplexing, as well as lots of circuits and tube sources.

A quick look at the welcome page will give you a fuller idea of what gets discussed."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Livermore, Privacy, Nixieness

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  • Backyard maglev (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CanadaDave ( 544515 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:03PM (#3725824) Homepage
    I made a Maglev train in my backyard.

    Check it out here [monorails.org]

    If it's down, then it's probably been slashdotted.

    • Must have missed the maglev part, or you are doing something amazing to pull it off with no electric wiring on the track, and 2 -12 volt batteries!
      • I don't need batteries. It's all done with permanent magnets and jet propulsion. I figured if a kid can build a nuclear reactor in his backyard, I should be able to build a Maglev.
    • Not a maglev, but that is an awesome acomplishment! Now if only you can talk your neighbors into adding on to the system!
      • I don't think they'll go for it. It's already caused my property to lose half it's value! I'm getting kind of tired of driving that thing in circles too. I may turn it into a roller coster [geocities.com] as soon as I get some time.
    • I made a Maglev train in my backyard.

      Nice, except that you didn't. A Maglev train is magnetically levitational, and you can't get this by building a track out of wood. Unless you've found some way to make wood magnetic and didn't mention it on your "building of the monorail" pages.
  • by CanadaDave ( 544515 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:09PM (#3725852) Homepage
    There was a great article in the latest IEEE Spectrum magazine on Nixie tube clocks. Fortunately for you nixie-heads out there, it is also available online:

    http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature / un02/nixi.html [ieee.org]

    • Thanks for this, I decided to read this story as it was the first I'd actually heard of a Nixie, and I was hoping some post somewhere would help to explain what one actually was...

      So are these Nixies still made? It sounds as though most of the people doing stuff with them are reclaiming old ones from scrap and things. And do they only have ones with numbers on? I suddenly have hankering for a Nixie terminal display!!

      I especially liked the bit in the article about the bloke who made an alarm clock with them- considering how the tubes apparently run off ~200V, and the old cliches about the way most people turn their alarms off when they wake them in the morning...

  • by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:11PM (#3725869) Journal
    That makes me really, really glad that I refuse to sign Best Buy's electronic signature pads and tell them to let me sign paper instead.

    I know about the arguments that claim that it's just as easy to steal a receipt or carbons, but making it as easy as pulling up front with a wireless card? No, thanks. And yes, I do shred my receipts when I'm done with them.
    • by CanadaDave ( 544515 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:26PM (#3725951) Homepage
      Your level of paranoia is a little strange, and somewhat contradictory. If you are doing any signing whatsoever, then that must mean you are using credit cards; however, credit cards are probably the most insecure method of exchanging money in the world today, after cash of course. All someone needs is your name, credit card number and the expiry date, and they are home free. Forget about the signature. Gas stations no longer require signatures if you "pay at the pump," nor do on-line retaileres. If you really want to be safe, get rid of your credit cards. Use debit cards. Or if you feel that your PIN may be transmitted insecurely over the air waves (which it wouldn't be in Best Buy's case), your last resort is to use cash.

      You also assume that someone is willing to reconstruct your signature into an image from some garbled-looking digital information. And then they have to learn how to copy your signature at least decently (which would be hard to do, because your signature would probably be pretty messy. Have you ever tried writing on those pads? It's a bitch). Which brings me to another point. Do you think those 15 year old cashiers even look at your hand-written signature to see if it is yours? Not likely. So even if someone got a hold of your credit card, they wouldn't need to have parked outside with a 802.11 card and a laptop and sophisticated software to learn your signature...they could just put anything on the dotted line and the cashiers wouldn't blink!

      • by jkusar ( 585161 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:39PM (#3726010) Homepage
        This second paragraph makes a very good point. In fact, at many of the retailers near me, you don't even have to hand them the credit card, you can just swipe it yourself.

        My boss often gives me his credit card to make purchases. The only time I've ever been asked was when I was trying to write his name on the slip. I usually just sign my own name and they hand the card right back. I've even used several ladies cards and never been asked. And I know I don't look like a Kimberly!!

        Oh well, at least most cards have a zero-liability guarantee for unauthorized charges.

        "If at first you don't succeed, erase all evidence that you tried!"
      • If you really want to be safe, get rid of your credit cards. Use debit cards.

        Whoa there buddy. Back the truck up some.

        Credit cards have laws protecting holders against fraudulant charges up to $50 dollars (I think.) Debit cards just allow the thieves direct access to your personal savings without limit. Sure, you can contest the charges, but it's a hell of a time to get the money back.

        At least with credit cards, you can contest the charges BEFORE your money's missing.
        • by Yohahn ( 8680 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @09:25PM (#3726225)
          Almost right. If I remember correctly, debit cards make the owner liable for the first 500$ stolen. Credit cards make the owner liable for the first 50$ stolen.

          You have a lot more to risk with a debit card.

          Details here:
          http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news /cnsprg 98/crook.html
          • Is the debit card liability limit a federal or widespread state law, or merely the banking industry's halfhearted attempt to convince people they're safe to use?

            My bank sent me a debit card [google.com] about 5 years ago, live, pre-activated without my authorization. I wouldn't accept it because I consider them dangerous -- it's too easy to see one's cash drained and then a long and difficult period of fighting with the bank over what charges are legit and what aren't.

            At least with a credit card its the bank's money and they have a real interest in seeing that the fraud is investigated. When it's MY money that's gone, nobody has an interest in it but me.
            • Initially the debit card liability limit was the banking industry's attempt as you describe. I don't know that it's Federal Law yet either, although I suspect so since Clark Howard [clarkhoward.com] stopped campaigning against them on air.

              Even so, you still have a lot more to lose with a debit card. Someone steals your credit card? Report it stolen, pay $50, fini. Your credit report isn't impacted, you get a new card, life moves on.

              Someone steals your debit card? Now you're screwed. Sure, you can report it stolen and only be liable for $50, but that money is gone from your account and the bank has up to 10 business days (M-F) to restore it. Hope you don't need any cash for those 10 days. Or to write a check. Or have any bills already in the mail. Because there's nothing you can do - except maybe borrow cash from a credit card and pay those exorbitant finance rates. If a check bounces then you get hit on your credit report, along with getting hit with additional fees. Get them reimbursed? Maybe. Depends on your bank - they aren't under any requirement to reimburse you those fees. And how much more paperwork is that going to be?

              Fact of the matter is, no matter what your bank says, credit cards are still safer than debit cards. If you can't handle a credit card and keep spending yourself into debt, fine, use a debit. But otherwise avoid them like the plague -- they're only good for the bank. Not for you.
      • Do you think those 15 year old cashiers even look at your hand-written signature to see if it is yours?

        Years ago when I worked in retail, I used to check the signatures. I used to make people show me their id if the signature area on the card was not signed.

        I used to LOVE when people would comment "But if I sign it, then if someone finds my card they can see how to copy my signature!". Really? Nice try fucknut, but if you leave it blank and someone finds your card, they can sign it in their own handwriting and not have to go through the hassle of learning to copy yours.

        That ususally resulted in them giving the "oops, didn't quite think of it that way" sigh, followed by them signing the card....

        Maybe readers of /. do that too, and if so, i would love to hear a legitimate reason for leaving the strip blank (Note, blank, not writing "CHECK MY ID" in the space).
        • my father has 'check id' written in that space, he says that he has only been asked once for id when using the card. I belive it was at the phoenix zoo...

        • Maybe readers of /. do that too, and if so, i would love to hear a legitimate reason for leaving the strip blank (Note, blank, not writing "CHECK MY ID" in the space).

          Actually, this is probably wrong - "CHECK MY ID" is not a valid signature. I say probably, because I can only find a few passing references, such as this one [sdsds.com] (look at item 7). The problem is, your signature on the back of the credit card acts as a legal signature on the contract saying that you will pay any charges made with the card. Without the signature, the transaction doesn't have the legal authority.

          99 times out of 100, the clerk will not look at your card, or ask you to see the ID. That one time, however, the clerk will refuse to take an unsigned card, and you'll call the manager, and the manager will say "That's store policy, sign the card", and you'll have to sign or use cash.

          However, it does seem perfectly legal to sign the card, and then write "CHECK MY ID" after the signature or under it. That is small comfort, because most credit card thieves will use your card where an ID is not required (like online), or make some convincing looking fake IDs with your name and their picture before going on their shopping spree at Best Buy.

      • He is NOT paranoid and I follow the same practice of always signing on paper. In the US, the federal statutes limit liability for credit card fraud to $50 if you report fraud or a lost card within a reasonable time after its discovery. For debit cards, the statutory protections do not apply but most banks will contractually limit your liability to $50 is the account agreement.

        The method may be insecure, but in this case there are external safeguards to mitigate the risk. If you sign on paper, then it is easy to prove a signature is not yours. Good luck proving that digital signature is a copy and that you did not actually sign the pad.

        Besides, you know the saying -- If you aren't paranoid, you just don't know what is going on.

        • Can they get your signature anyways? Whether it's on paper or not? Why go to the trouble of sniffing an 802.11 transmission? Why not just grab your wallet and look at the signatures on the backs of your credit cards, etc.

          Wow, you Americans must have it pretty lucky down there if you are only limited to $50 for credit cards. I've known people who have lost thousands. Although I have no idea what time frame they reported the stolen card in, so it's moot anyways.

          • If they grab paper, they have to go through the trouble of forging the signature. Even the most careful tracing can be detected by a good handwriting analyst. A digital signature on the other hand is susceptible to being copied perfectly limitless times.

            Even tough this thread started with sniffing wireless transmissions, we both know that these electronic signatures have to be stored somewhere and that storage medium has to be connected to a computer which most likely is attached to a network .... well, you see where this is going. You may recall that a while back a cell phone company here (Verizon) had trouble keeping its customers confidential information confidential [slashdot.org]. I don't want to find out that in addition to my credit card #, name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of birth, etc. that now someone has an exact, freely reproducible copy of my real signature. My signature is my last line of protection.

      • Hardly. I used to work in the credit card industry (my company was acquired by Red Hat in early 2000).

        Personally, I don't care about whether anybody uses my signature for credit card fraud. My exposure is much larger to other kinds of fraud, which a stolen signature would open up.

        As others mentioned, credit cards have statutory limits on the user's exposure to fruad - debit cards, on the other hand, are covered by regulations covers forged checks. Additionally, contesting charges is a much more difficult process than with credit cards.

        Signatures are valuable in far more realms than credit cards - they are the only legal authentication for many kinds of legally binding documents and I, for one, don't care to have someone else learn to sign my signature.

        Paranoid? Perhaps, but I have a good amount to lose. I only have to be a little more paranoid than others with large exposure - "I don't have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you."
        • "Signatures are valuable in far more realms than credit cards"

          Then why do you go about signing credit card receipts (which I assume you do because you make no other assumption otherwise in your post), when the signature is so valuable, and is the "only legal authentication for many kinds of legally binding documents"? Sorry, that's where I lose you. Any old cashier could take your signature if they wanted. So please, explain your point more clearly for me...if in fact I am missing your point.

        • Signatures are valuable in far more realms than credit cards - they are the only legal authentication for many kinds of legally binding documents and I, for one, don't care to have someone else learn to sign my signature.

          Yep, I use a distinctly different signature for credit cards as opposed to contracts. It doesn't directly protect me legally, but if I were said I signed a contract I didn't and it looked like the chicken scratch I use on credit cards and every other document signed looked drastically different I think a jury might at least entertain the thought it wasn't mine. I still could have signed it fraudulently to begin with, but they would have that hill to climb rather than the, "he just changed his mind after the fact."

          I don't worry so much about credit cards. I've had friends get a lot of grief because of identity theft, but it always got sorted out in the end. Plus, credit cards have protected me from unscrupulous merchants. It involves organizing a bit of documentation, but it's fun to nail the bad guys.
    • "That makes me really, really glad that I refuse to sign Best Buy's electronic signature pads..."

      I'm not worried. Every time I sign on one of those things, it looks NOTHING like my signature.

      (serious! go try it! it's like signing a glide point!)
  • We don't have bestbuy her (UK), but from all their problems, its a wonder people still shop there
    • Re:BestBuy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 )
      "We don't have bestbuy her (UK), but from all their problems, its a wonder people still shop there..."

      That's because those of us that are satisfied Best Buy customers don't want to argue with people who require a salesman to show them which Compaq to buy. You can imagine how that convo'd go, right?

      "That stupid Best Buy salesman had no idea what a hard-drive is!"

      "err, why did you need a Best Buy salesman to tell you what a hard drive is?"


      "Hey! All I'm saying is..."

      "Look those salesman making $8 should know everything there is to know about what I want! I mean if they don't know what a hard drive is, why are they selling there anyway?"

      "Fair enough, but if you know so much about what you're looking for, why do you need their help?"

      From there the f word is used alot. Heh. You can see why none of us want to rush to Best Buy's defense. Most of the reasoning I've heard so far is typical of any retailer, not just Best Buy. They just had their bad straw drawn at Best Buy.

      • way to sterotype.
        I do not need to know what a hard drive is, or how to change one, but a great many people do, and BestBuy Technical people should at least know the basics, but they can seldom answer basic HD questions. A good example of this is when I went to one a few years ago, and want to purchase a 10G HD. I asked the guy behind the technical counter if they had any, he said "No we only have 8 Gig hard drives, but since windows can't partion above 8Gig, so it doesn't matter"
        I said "Its not for Windows"
        with a smug attitide. he said "No operating system can see a hard disk larger then 8 Gig"
        At which point I just turned and left.

        Send data unencrypted is a nother perfectly valid camplaint against best buy.
        As is there secuity methods.

        Of course this is the same place that told me HDTV can store twice as much data then a CD.
        I still haven't figured that one out.

        • "with a smug attitide. he said "No operating system can see a hard disk larger then 8 Gig"

          You have really high expectations of a guy who makes $8 an hour.

          I mean seriously, I used to be a salesman, I know for a fact his job is not to be knowledgable. His job is to make sure you leave money behind before you leave the store. You should never depend on 'expert' advice from the guy that you are buying from. Nobody has ever gotten a BS degree and went on to sell computers.

          If you need to know what type of RAM your computer uses, look it up. If you need to know whether or not you want a Radeon or a Geforce, then go to www.tomshardware.com. If you want to know which way to the hard-drive aisle, then you may ask the guy in the blue shirt.

          I'm not telling you this to say "You're dumb and you don't know how to shop at Best Buy...", I'm telling you this because no retail chain trains their salespeople to dispense facts, only incentives to buy. Take any of these stories about Best Buy, go through in Notepad and replace 'Best Buy' with 'Circuit City', and guess what, you get a believable story.

          The only knowledgable sales people I've ever met sold video games.

    • Its the same reason people shop at Fry's or anywhere else -- when you balance the equation of convenience, location, price, selection, staff, policies, and so on, for many things it balances out to be pretty much the best option, sometimes the only option.

      I try to avoid it if I can, even going to more upscale shops, but even when customer service isn't Best Buy Awful, they're still ingratiating college drop outs who are just training for the big league of automobile and photocopier sales.
  • When we get Shenmue 2 state site, or for anyone who has played the Japanese or European versions, take a look at the numeric display in the elevators. It appears to simulate Nixie tubes.
  • by jkusar ( 585161 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:19PM (#3725903) Homepage
    I was amazed when my friend showed me all of the places that have unsecured networks. For example, the FedEx building next door to where he works has such a powerful broadcast that if you stand by a window in his office, you can pick up their network.

    A simple drive around town, and you can pick up 15 to 20 unencrypted and unsecured networks. Not to mention all of the ones that use cheesy WEP encryption that is really not that hard to break. When are people gonna learn...?

    "I used to have a sig, but it took up too much space so I got rid of it!"
    • I wrote a paper and did a presentation in grad school on wireless network security in North Los Angeles. I used real data too.

      Me, my car, a GPS and a Vaio laptop running Netstumbler.

      I came up with real scary numbers of unsecured sites, especially around the commercial/office areas of the West San Fernando Valley.

  • I wish there was a Maglev in Boston... grr, the T sucks. It even stops for cars and traffic lights on the green line! Does anyone else know of a subway that ass backwards? Maglev would sure speed up my trip from Allston to Back Bay...

    • I'll have to agree with the poster

      For spring break my friends and I decided to head over to boston (lovely lovely city). When we saw the T (and all 4 colors), we were a little shocked. Coming from New York City with one of the world's largest subway systems, we do know quite a bit about train transportation in major metro areas. But the T was like nothing we expected.


    • The Green Line is a light rail transit (LRT) system. LRT systems, by definition (as least according to APTA [apta.com]) run at street level and are designed to move with local traffic. As a consequence, LRT trains often stop for cars and traffic lights.

      You find the same thing on LRT lines in Portland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco (MUNI, not BART), St. Louis, Dallas, etc.

      The Red and Orange lines in Boston (and NYC's subway system) are rapid transit lines that run on exclusive rights-of-way with minimal headways. That may be a little closer to what you were expecting.
  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:23PM (#3725939)
    so is that data not encrypted, or is encrypted by the evil socialist conspiricy that is the United Nations?
  • to snoop some names and stuff from the transmissions? You're not bypassing any security features...

    I think the way to deal with this is to come up with a big list of what people have bought at these places, print them out, and mail them to the CEO saying "you might want to fix this."
    • i'm no expert on anything... but i believe the rule is you have to have their permission. not just not be blocked out.
  • Best Try is a joke (Score:2, Informative)

    by peterdaly ( 123554 )
    A few months ago I went to Best Try's site at 4 in the afternoon to be greeded by a "running maintainance" page. Ever since then I've had the feeling their tech support people we inept.

    This should not suprise me, as I have yet to have a good experience in their store. The salespeople are, and look, clueless. I have thown them for a loop too many times with questions like "how much does the item in the end isle display cost, there is no tag". I have never waited in line there less than 10 minutes, and the "anti-theft" thing goes off every 10 people or so; the guy with who looks like a thug (who's polo shirt doesn't fit) then has to check reciepts. It is all just a ploy to eliminate shoplifting, like the very visible camera monitor you have to walk around to get into the store. The place is run like the don't trust any of their customers. Not a place that makes you feel welcome.

    It short, it is auwful. If there was another major electronics store in the area (closest "equal" class competitor is an hour away) they would not get any of my business.

    I aviod them at every opportunity. Too bas they are the only place I can find certain items around here.

    • by entrager ( 567758 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @08:58PM (#3726083)
      I worked for Best Buy for almost a year. I was a salesperson in the computers department for about 4 months and then I transfered to the service desk. Working there was a truely eye opening experience. I had no idea the retail business was such a sham! Some examples:

      1) The sales people don't know squat... everyone already knows this, so I won't spend any more time discussing it.

      2) In Best Buy land, Performance Service Plans (PSPs) are the most important aspect of a sale. For those that don't know, the PSP is the extended warranty. As a salesperson there, you are under EXTREME pressure to sell as many PSPs as possible. Raises, good treatment, etc. all go to the people that sell the most PSPs.

      3) Often times, managers will encourage employees to pretend that an item is out of stock in order to prevent a sale when the customer expressed their intention to NOT buy a PSP.

      4) Some salespeople will encourage customers to shop elsewhere if they aren't intending to buy a PSP. This includes both other Best Buy stores and competitors. Since stores are ranked based on PSP sales (as a percentage of total sales), it benefits one store to have a non-PSP buying customer buy from a different Best Buy.

      5) Some salespeople will flat out lie in order to sell a PSP. Telling customers that the PSP covers more than it actually does is very common.

      6) The sale of accesories along with a PC/TV/Stereo makes the company WAY more money than the sale of the actual product. Keep this in mind. The stores are also ranked on this number. Once a manager tried to convince me to buy 2 of our most expensive UPS systems at our store and then return them at a different store. This would have greatly boosted our numbers and lowered the other store's.

      7) Never bother getting a rain check at a Best Buy, you probably won't get a call back (unless you already have shown interest in a PSP).

      8) Never have anything repaired at Best Buy, their repair department is unorganized and over-priced. The people working on your equipment are also usually under-qualified.

      In summary... Best Buy is a great store, as long as you don't mind clueless salespeople and being harassed about service plans. Your best bet when buying something there is to tell them you want the service plan, and then change your mind at the register. Customers that want PSPs get good treatment, but once you'r at that register, there's nothing to keep you from not buying it.

      Also, be prepared to have a manager speak to you when you decline the service plan. Pleasantly refuse, and you should have no problem getting through.

      NOTE: All of the above comments applied to the store I worked at, and many others I've been to. There ARE exceptions though. I know of one "clean" Best Buy in Denver, the manager there is a straight shooter.
      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @09:48PM (#3726333)
        My brother-in-law was an operations manager at a couple of the bigger stores in Minnesota (where they have their Corporate Death Star Headquarters).

        Everything you said about this I've heard him say, along with a continuing battle to keep the employees from either ripping the store off themselves or doing it in cooperation with the customers. Considering most of the employees look like they were recruited from a reform school, none of it surprises me -- disgusts and insults, yes, surprises, no.

        He's out and very grateful to be out.
        • Well no wonder I can never pass the phone-in interview then. I've been trying to answer like an honest psychologically balanced person, when they want sharks who'd steal from their own grandmas.
          Mainly I wanted to work there because when they have MIR on HDs you can get them at or below the cost of an OEM bare drive usually at least with an employee discount. It's nice having extra cables and mounting hardware for when you're trying to hack rounded cables or build something geeky.
      • Often times, managers will encourage employees to pretend that an item is out of stock in order to prevent a sale when the customer expressed their intention to NOT buy a PSP.

        I can't tell you how many times I've gone to Best Buy's computer department to buy something like Ethernet cables, printer cables, etc. and went away empty because they were "out of stock."

        Knowing this I decided last year to take my business elsewhere while looking for a 21" monitor, but I decided to drop in on Best Buy to check their prices. Lo and behold, they had what I wanted and I inquired about buying it. Out of stock. We hadn't even gotten down to PSPs or anything yet either!

        Perhaps it varies from store to store, but the one here in Lexington, KY is so pitiful you'd think the world supply of copper and silicon was completely expended.

      • 7) Never bother getting a rain check at a Best Buy, you probably won't get a call back (unless you already have shown interest in a PSP).


        Tell me about it... I did finally get a TV I put on raincheck, but I had to just about grab the section manager by the balls and force it out of him. After a couple weeks I called daily and visited the store at least once a week.

        After about 6 weeks they managed to "lose" my raincheck and claimed that there were now about 5 people ahead of me for the same TV. I convinced them otherwise, got the TV that day, and an additional 10% or so off an already low price.

        Was it worth it? Hell no. Sadly, Circuit City and the other big box electronics stores suck just as badly.
        • Yeah, after hearing all this, I don't think I'll ever set foot in a Best Buy store. Why the push for PSP plans? I suppose it's just to con money [ripoffreport.com] out of customers [ripoffreport.com]. As far as I can tell [ripoffreport.com], they're [ripoffreport.com] useless [ripoffreport.com].

          I agree about Circuit City--I went in their store once and it sucked. They're also the pushers of Divix [ripoffreport.com]

      • In Best Buy land, Performance Service Plans (PSPs) are the most important aspect of a sale

        Moe: Jabs the crayon up Homer's nose
        Homer: DEFENSE DEFENSE
        Moe: "Hmmm - almost there"... jabs it a little further
        Homer: "Extended warranty! How can I lose?"
        Moe: "Ah - that's just right."
    • by dietz ( 553239 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @09:05PM (#3726113)
      the "anti-theft" thing goes off every 10 people or so; the guy with who looks like a thug (who's polo shirt doesn't fit) then has to check reciepts.

      Let the record show: you do NOT have to stop and let that thug check your receipt. You have paid for your merchandise, and you are free to leave. They do /not/ have a right to search you just because you are in their store and their obviously-flawed security gates went off. If you listen, you'll notice that's why they always ask YOUR permission to search you: "Can I have a look through your bag?" Say "no thank you" and keep walking.

      If they want to search you without losing a lawsuit, they need to see you pick up some merchandise and then not lose sight of you until you leave the store without paying for it. Anything less than that opens them up to a lawsuit, and THEY KNOW THIS. Just say "no thank you" and be on your way. If they put up a fight just tell them to call the cops if they think they have a case. I've only had that happen to me once at Walgreen's at 3am, and even those dipshits knew they had no right to hold me.

      This also goes at Fry's where they check everyone's reciept. I've found the exit-door employees are actually much, much nicer when you say "no thank you!" politely when they ask to see your receipt. They all know that there's nothing they can do to you and generally will say "okay, thanks for coming in, have a nice day!" or something similar, which is a lot more than I get normally.
      • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @09:16PM (#3726177) Homepage Journal
        "Let the record show: you do NOT have to stop and let that thug check your receipt."

        Yeah!!! Fight the power!! Don't let those guys glance at your receipt! Give 'em hell! It'll only ruin the nice man's day and add conflict you wouldn't normally have!
        • I didn't say "give 'em hell". I said to politely say "no thank you". Only once have I ever had any conflict about it, and I always get out of the store faster.

          Especially in Fry's where sometimes they expect you to WAIT IN LINE while they look at your receipt. Fuck that.
          • "I didn't say "give 'em hell".

            Understood. The reason I said that was that you referred to him/her as a 'thug'. Thought you'd appreciate the feedback explaining why I responded the way I did. :)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I had this happen to me at a best buy. The security guy *blocked my way* and would not let me pass out the door without seeing my reciept. I told him no, get out of my way, etc, but he would not let me pass. I finally gave in after about 2 minutes, came back the next day and returned everything, and never went back.
      • absolutly.
        I don't stop at ANY receipt checker, whether its best buy, frys, or costco.
        I won't stop if there alarm goes off either.
        I will not give up my rights, and time just becauses some infernal machine hoots and beeps at me.
      • Naturally, I received a response saying that "the store said that this did not happen." I haven't shopped there since.

        December 26, 2001

        Richard M. Schultze
        Chairman & CEO
        Best Buy Co., Inc.
        7075 Flying Cloud Drive
        Eden Prairie, MN 55344

        Cc: Allen Lenzmeier
        Best Buy Retail Stores

        Dear Mr. Schultze,

        I am writing you in regards to the events that took place today, December 26, 2001, at Best Buy #516 (Alpharetta, GA). First I would like to mention that I don't usually write letters to executives such as you concerning the conduct of low-level employees, but I felt that the events that occurred today warranted such action.

        I received two $25 gift cards for Christmas this year, and went to visit my local Best Buy to redeem them. I purchased several DVD movies, as well as a computer cable. My total, after the gift cards were applied, was approximately $65. To my knowledge, retail companies issue gift cards not only for the assurance of a future purchase but also in the hope the customer will purchase other merchandise beyond the amount to be redeemed. I did exactly this with no reservations and came away pleased with my purchase.

        As I am sure you can imagine, the store was an absolute zoo due to the holiday season, and the lines at the registers where backed up across the central aisle and spilled over into the music section. As I was exiting the store another customer about seven feet ahead of me set off the alarm, I, however, continued through and as the alarm did not activate so of course I felt that there was no reason to remain on the premises. At that time, a loss prevention employee ran out of the store and demanded to see my receipt. This particular employee, whose nametag read Josh, has in the past demanded I show him my receipt a good majority of the times he is on duty heedless of what I had just purchased and without the reasonable doubt that activating the security gates may imply. Out of these dozen or more "checks," this employee has not once found anything but the items listed on the receipt inside of my bag. Such dogged persistence to search my purchases with no justifiable reason has made it difficult to interact with him not only as an employee but as a person as well.

        Today, I had just waited 20 minutes to check out, and another 10 minutes for the clerk to locate the BestBuy.com order I was picking up; I was in no mood to be made to wait a third time. Knowing that there was no reason whatsoever for the employee to continue to subject me to such scrutiny, I chose rather to inform him that I was leaving instead of submitting once again to his suspicions and started walking off towards my car. He continued to pursue me, at which point I became upset that this harassment was still taking place. Rather than maintain a civilized approach to the situation he proceeded to stand in front of my path and grab at my bag. After "bumping" me with his chest and pushing me with his hands a verbal confrontation ensued, during which the employee stated to me "Why don't you go fuck yourself". Following this, I was trying my best to simply escape the situation, since I knew that if he continued to markedly provoke me in this manner, I might lose my temper. That was the last thing I wanted to happen; especially in light of the fact that it was the day after Christmas and I simply wished to enjoy my day off from work with my younger brother. He can independently verify my account if you deem it necessary.

        As I was trying to leave, the employee grabbed my shopping bag and refused to release it. In accordance with my desire to avoid any further escalation, I was able to forcibly regain the bag by pulling it out of his hands. By this time, a store manager and several other employees began to approach us in the parking lot. Seeing as none of them had witnessed the event or the actions of the employee, I turned and began to walk to my car, rather than have the confrontation continue with more accusations and yelling. As I was leaving "Josh" continued to yell after me, and the manager called me an "asshole" behind my back before telling me to "never come back." There is simply no excuse for this type of behavior from any retail employee, and certainly not from a Best Buy employee.

        In order to demonstrate the extent of my patronage, I have included several documents. First, I have attached a report generated from my Microsoft Money file that details all of the purchases I have made since August using my debit card. According to the report, this total is just over $2,000. Since I only use my debit card about 50% of the time, I have included copies of a number of receipts that I have just been able to locate from around my apartment. As you can see, I am a frequent shopper, and I make multiple purchases per week at your Alpharetta location. I stop by almost every Tuesday to purchase the newly released DVD movies that have recently been made available to the public. As a matter of fact, this is the reason I went shopping in your store today... to pickup a movie I had ordered from BestBuy.com as well as two others that I wished to purchase. The statement the manager made to me that I should "never come back" is disappointing to me.

        I know that as an executive, you have many priorities that occupy your time, but I felt that this situation is of such magnitude that it demands the attention of yourself or someone who is directly involved at a district level.

        I hope you are able to use this information to improve your customer service, and in through that customer service, improve the customer relationships that are so important for Best Buy to continue to succeed in the marketplace. Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your time. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how this situation can be resolved.


        • If a store employee runs out after you and physically grabs your purchase out of your hands, an appropriate response would be to open your mouth and start yelling "HELP! POLICE! I'M BEING ASSAULTED AND ROBBED! HELP! POLICE!" as loudly as you possibly can, while pointing at the employee.

          I guarantee you that:
          1) This will get the attention of everyone within hearing range, who will all stop to stare at the altercation. That generally will make the employee pretty damn uncomfortable with what they're doing, although of course they will try to act like you're some kind of lunatic. Knowing that everyone is watching will, however, force them to adhere to some minimal standard of decent behavior.

          2) This suddenly puts a whole different spin on how the store has to handle the situation: instead of being on the offensive, claiming you're some kind of bad customer, they're on the defensive, trying to fend off the accusation that their employees assault their customers.

          Although, to be honest, any employee who physically grabs my shopping bag out of my hands is in danger of being hit: That *is* assault around here, and I *do* have the right to defend myself, and if they actually physically fought a bag out of my hands I would be likely to defend myself before stopping to consider the situation.

          That's the danger of such employees: they pick on the wrong person and they may find that they've chosen to assault someone who has faster self-defense reflexes, suddenly the police are involved, and it won't be the customer who gets arrested and sued.

          Now that the store has told you, "Don't ever come back," make sure to tell all of your friends about it so they know that the store doesn't want people like you as customers, so they obviously must not want any of your friends as customers either.
          • Do one higher than that. Don't make any noise--just walk to the nearest phone, call the police, and get the guy arrested. Then the people there will be afraid to steal anything from you or falsely accuse you of anything...and it is stealing. You paid for the merchandise, so it is now your property, not the store's.

            If you do that, just be sure everything in the bag is on the receipt--sometimes the cashier accidently misses scanning everything--just like sometimes they double scan stuff...it'd be embarassing to get arrested if you're the one that called the police. ;-)

      • My local Best Buy uses transparent bags for small items. The store exit guard would be able to see easily the contents of the bag.

        Still, the store has the "burden of proof" of catching you in the act.
      • They do /not/ have a right to search you just because you are in their store and their obviously-flawed security gates went off.

        Just a quick FYI for any Aussies out there who think this might work for them, it won't. The laws are different here. A very brief summary is at the ACLU's website [angelfire.com].
    • "The place is run like the don't trust any of their customers..."

      I've got stories about stupid Best Buy salesmen. I totally agree that they are awful. However, Best Buy has two things going that I really like:

      1.) Their return policy is awesome. Any time I want to buy something (like a DVD burner or a vid card), and I have concerns about whether it'll work or not, I buy it at Best Buy because I have a month to sort out whether it'll be worthwhile or not. I've only needed to take advantage of that policy once.

      2.) I've had good luck with their prices. I wouldn't say they are the absolute lowest, but they are usually low enough that it's worth the trip.

      These two points alone negate most of the complaints I hear about Best Buy that'd make me not want to shop there.

      However... this unencrypted cashier business does bother me. Where I live, there are all kinds of ways people try to steal identities. Best Buy is giving them too big of an opportunity here. It wouldn't be that hard to sniff the airwaves and pull out credit card #'s etc.

      Fortunately, though, Slashdot's attention to it will likely mean they'll hop on that right away. But who knows.

      I won't stop shopping there, but I will only use my credit card there instead of my debit card. My credit card company is far more responsive to theft than my bank is. (Ironic, isn't it? My credit card is loaning me money...)
      • Fortunately, though, Slashdot's attention to it will likely mean they'll hop on that right away. But who knows.

        Who knows indeed....

        Corporate Flunky: Sir, it looks like the geeks at slashdot have exposed our technical ineptitude. The rest of society, which loves and respects their opinions, has boycotted us. We're bleeding money like a stuck pig.

        CEO Schulze: Well shee-it, looks like we're done fer. Get Wally on the phone, let's see if I can sell off some assets and salvage something from this shitstorm!


        Wait, isn't Wally dead? Nevermind.
    • Best buy doesn't trust their customers. Which is ok by me considering the amount of money they lose to shoplifting even with these insane security procedures in place. As long as they treat me ok (which they do when the inevitable security buzzer goes off) everything is fine.

      BTW, they don't treat their employees any better - as a matter of fact worse. Friend of mine works for the tech department there. All employees (except for some managers) must be patted down before they leave the store. Despite this people try to steal stuff on a regular basis - the latest one I heard was someone stole 14 laptops (and got caught..). The lengths people go to steal stuff from the store is amazing, even customers. One guy snuck in a cable cutter to try and snip the cables on the laptops. He made it to the door..

      I was buying a new reciever, and mentioned that I needed a TOSlink cable for my CD changer. The sales guy grabbed one for me, and I didn't take too close a look at it, except to make sure it wasn't a MONSTER cable.

      When I got home and started to hook it up, I realized I was now the proud owner of a six foot, silicone insulated TOSlink cable, with gold plated optical connectors. Guess that will teach me to pay attention to what the sales droid drops in my cart.
  • Wireless Inventory (Score:2, Informative)

    by MikeD83 ( 529104 )
    "The company does, however, use wireless LANs for inventory and stocking operations. " I have worked at three different retail companies: Sears, Staples, and Target. Each one of those companies uses a wireless lan for inventory scanners. I'm sure my experience is not coincidence. What point is the author trying to make there?
    • the point is that Sears, Staples, and Target don't broadcast credit card information, nor the digital signature they get form those damn big brother pads over the air un-encrypted for any schmuk to snag.
  • Sorry timothy, but hemos got first post(ed story) [slashdot.org] on you about those trains. ;)
  • Maglev side-effects? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've always wondered what magnetic fields strong enough to levitate a train do to the watches, hearing aids, and pacemakers of passengers?
    • Most likely negligible. An efficient system wouldn't put magnetic fields into the passenger compartment--it would be a waste. I wager anything that leaks can be blocked by a fairly thin ferro-magnetic shield.

  • In future all credit card numbers are to be encrypted with Rot 13, which is particularly secure for numbers ;-)

  • Best Buy's worst practices for data security

    *Comic Book Guy* Worst practices ever!
  • WVU [wvu.edu] has had the PRT [wvu.edu] for a donkey's age. Sure it doesn't float, but it got my drunken ass around campus, to and from football games, and out to tutor engineers with ease.

    Truly neat stuff.

    Of course, getting stuck on one packed with students on a hot day sucked, but that's what deodorant is for anyway...
  • Hey I saw an article on how to make a rail gun out of a ruler, a couple of strong magnets and some pinball balls. I'm too lazy to do a search just wanted to say I saw it somewhere, more than likely here.
  • The maglev train is a good thing for ODU as the school is just to close to downtown Norfolk for comfort. Something like this might have kept me from getting my bike stolen and spared me the "enlightened comments" from the campus police as we drove around the more shady sections looking for it. On the plus side, my renter's insurance paid for a brand new bike, even better than the one that was stolen!
  • Drive to your nearest Best Buy and change the price of the GeForces to $0!!!

  • Instead, LLNL may become a 'center for excellence,'...
    I hear they're a shoe-in for the next annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
  • To go with all the other best buy bashing, they're also guilty (IANAL, but IMHO) of false advertising.

    Just go in and say you want to try the new XYZ video
    game that's only for PC before you buy. Heh. Tell them you want to try that new audio cd, dvd, electric razor, george forman grill, or any of a number of other products.

    Or just do it without asking.. Then watch yourself get banned from the store. I hate false advertising. ;)
  • Uh Oh... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Russ Steffen ( 263 )
    Not only was it a fast-growing newsgroup, but the technical standard is extremely high.

    And pointing this out to slashdot, you just ensured it won't stay that way for very long.

  • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Tuesday June 18, 2002 @11:34PM (#3726835) Homepage Journal
    The Black Mesa Federal Research Facility [sierra.com] had a maglev train, at least, until it was destroyed by aliens from planet Xen.
  • It's been over 10 years since I went to disney world, but don't they have a maglev train in "tomorrowland"?
    • Disney World doesn't have a maglev. But Team Rodent did propose to build a high-speed maglev line from the Orlando airport to Disney World, bypassing all competing attractions and hotels. Their competitors screamed, and it didn't get built.

      This new campus maglev is silly. There's no reason to build a maglev to go 40MPH. Then there's the problem of maintaining a one-of-a-kind system, which is why London's old maglev, from the 1980s, was scrapped.

      • ...it's just not a very useful one. The WEDWay PeopleMover in Disney World--now renamed the "Tomorrowland Transit Authority"--isn't called a mag-lev, but as it uses linear induction motors and no wheels, it's a low-speed relative. (And it bears no relation to the PeopleMover that used to be at Disneyland.)
  • a group was started on Yahoo!. Not only was it a fast-growing newsgroup
    A Yahoo Group is not a newsgroup. It is a mailing list burdened with Yahoo cruft for people who don't have the time or knowledge to set up a proper mailing list. Newsgroups are read with a NNTP agent, something that doesn't seem possible with Yahoo groups.

    Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI