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Submission + - Verizon Tells Customer To Get A Lawyer & A Sub (techdirt.com) 1

suraj.sun writes: Verizon Tells Customer To Get A Lawyer & A Subpoena To Get An Itemized Bill:

A woman, who called Verizon to try to find out about the $4.19 she was being charged for six local calls, was told by Verizon reps that the only way it would provide her an itemized bill was to get a lawyer and have the lawyer get a subpoena to force Verizon to disclose the information.

Instead, the woman went to court (by herself) and a judge told Verizon to hand over the itemized bill info.

        It is a basic matter of fair business practice that a consumer should be able to contact a utility about a charge on a bill and learn what the charge is for and learn that the charge was correctly applied. The only verification that Verizon's witness could offer that a charge like [the customer's] $4.19 measured use charge was accurate and billed correctly was her faith in the accuracy of Verizon's computer system. The only way that Verizon would offer any information about a past charge in response to a consumer inquiry was to require that customer to hire a lawyer and subpoena their own usage information. By no reasonable standard could this be considered reasonable customer service.

The judge has also suggested Verizon should be fined $1,000 for its failure here, and that suggestion will be reviewed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Techdirt: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20110715/02212815101/verizon-tells-customer-to-get-lawyer-subpoena-to-get-itemized-bill.shtml

Comment Re:You know... that might not be a bad idea... (Score 4, Interesting) 277

Not sure you actually read my post before you replied, or the GGP for that matter. The point was not "let's teach facebook" the point was "Children respond well to material when presented in a format which they associate to (e.g. schoolhouse rock cartoons) therefore, let's present one of the "tough subjects" in a manner that will get their attention."

While we're on the subject though, it should be noted that in the past (my parents' generation) not everyone went to school. Farmers tended to keep their children at the farms because they needed the help getting the harvest in. Therefore you had a self selected population from which you were obtaining your statistics. Your sampling methodology then would not be uniform when comparing grades and such between then and now. If you include those farmers who didn't go to school (my father was a 3rd grade dropout) I think you'll find they'd drop down your average at the 8th grade level dramatically (means disliking values of 0 as they do).

If you consider that IQ tests tend to require an element of knowledge (language for the vast majority of them, and a cognitive framework around math for the non-linguistic ones), and you couple that with the fact that IQ tests need to be re-normed back to 100=average every few years, it rather argues that when you take an aggregate measure of human "intelligence" we're getting "smarter" (doing better on the tests). In the time frame we're speaking of, and assuming the current model of evolution holds, it seems unlikely that's due to the actual substantial increase in the collective human intellect, therefore the knowledge portion of the equation is the only element that can be improving.

There is a well known cognitive predisposition to view the past as being better then the present, and it's easy to fall victim to this tenancy when you don't stop to do your analysis.

Now I realize I've probably just fed the troll, but felt it important enough to make my arguments for the other non-trolls who might be reading this thread, as troll or no, we (as a society) can do damage when we think in the way the parent is exemplifying. Ideally the people represented in forums such as this one (generally forward thinking folks) should be the check against these tendencies.

Are there issues in the education system? Hell ya. NCLB is a prime example, it rewards all sorts of bad teaching habits, incentizes behaviors like teaching the test, etc. In my field of work (Corporate Infosec) we pay a lot of attention to ensuring that reward/punishment systems are in line with the behaviors we're attempting to reinforce, rather then unaligned. I could wish that law makers would spend similar amounts of effort thinking about such things before passing broken legislation. Education budgets are drastically under prioritized (if you doubt this, look at defense budgets vs education in the G20.) All these are points where we can have a useful discussion. A new technique for speaking to children in a manner in which they might absorb some information isn't to my way of thinking one of them.

Min

Comment Re:You know... that might not be a bad idea... (Score 5, Insightful) 277

Why do you find it depressing? I would imagine that any society where these things don't evolve would be on its way to the end.

I expect the generation that went through school after me probably had their parents saying the same things about computers in schools, my mother probably said the same thing when "School House Rock" came on TV, and her parents probably said the same thing about organized education, so on back to the printing press, literacy, and so forth... One can imagine a parent saying "If oral tradition was good enough for us, it should be good enough for our children".

Not all change is negative, not all of it is positive either of course. Change can however stimulate people to think in new ways and consider things that they did not consider in the past.

An oft quoted study in fact measured productivity improvements around change. If a study group *thought* that a change was being implemented to improve productivity, productivity improved. In the case I read about I believe it was "replacing light bulbs with wide spectrum bulbs" the "work people" came in and swapped out the tubes with identical ones and productivity went up for awhile and plateaued and then regressed back to mean levels.

So if doing something new and fresh causes kids to learn, speaking as a parent, more power to innovative educators. If it is only a short term improvement, that's fine too, just be thinking about the next thing down the road.

"Think of the children" - why make learning hard/repetitive/stale when we have choices?

Min

Comment Re:None of this (except the passwords)... (Score 1) 261

If you don't follow the rules it's spoiled. Otherwise you're depending on the vote talliers to be mind readers (does the X mean no and checkmarks mean yes?)

We use paper ballots in Canada for federal elections and the rules are pictographed out very clearly, you put an X in the box you are intending to vote for, you fold the ballot and put it in the box. If you don't do that, it's a spoiled ballot.

Min

Comment Re:So, who's the "customer"? (Score 1) 556

Remember we're talking about a Corporation here, not a person (despite the fact that they are equivalent in the USA, this does not apply everywhere). While I as a person have certain rights in terms of freedoms, it does not follow that Google has the same rights. Under Canadian law they don't and in fact have additional restrictions that a person does not have.

So what may be perfectly legal for you or I to do by ourselves may not be legal for us to do as a representative of a corporation.

Min

Comment Re:So, who's the "customer"? (Score 5, Informative) 556

I'm not telling you anything, but the law tells companies: (http://www.priv.gc.ca/information/guide_e.cfm) which requires commercial entities to follow certain best practices in collecting information that may contain Personally Identifiable Information (including consent for the specific uses to which it is going to be put, retention, encryption, etc)

If you're doing business in Canada it is your responsibility to know this law and Google violated it. Its not about how easy it is to collect the information, it is about ensuring you have the legal authorization to do so. Just because you CAN do something does not make it legal to do so.

Min

Min

Comment Re:So, who's the "customer"? (Score 5, Insightful) 556

I believe what the OP was referring to was:
http://www.priv.gc.ca/media/nr-c/2010/nr-c_101019_e.cfm

In this case it was Google street view cars driving by. obviously in this case the people's whose privacy was impacted had no opportunity to agree to a EULA

Now I will agree that the cases may be completely different, but I think thats what the OP was getting at.

Comment Re:For me, and many of my fellow college students. (Score 1) 697

If they're availble in your neck of the woods, check out TekSavvy. Cheaper for more gb/mo. Depending on where you are, you may have a choice between DSL and Cable too. Best of all, you're not supporting the dualopoly as directly (TekSavvy's a wholesaler, so they still have to buy from Bell/Telus/Rogers/Shaw, but since they charge so much less, you're putting less into the cable/telco pocket). I also find their backhaul to be more reliable and faster then Bell/Rogers.

I've been really happy with them.

Min

Comment Re:Sysadmins VS Lusers, lets get ready to rumble! (Score 1) 1307

I used to be in IT, I'm in Infosec now, which roughly puts me from IT's POV where most users see IT.

The best (from business's pov) reason why you shouldn't be running servers is you weren't hired to do that. They hired IT to run servers. They expect to get economies of scale from this decision, e.g. 1 big VMware ESX server consolidating all the power, networking, backup, etc requirements. Each dept running their own personal pet project servers isn't sustainable over the long run. And who takes ownership of the boring care and feeding aspects after it goes from being a shiny new project. What happens when you have a choice between doing That Ultra Important Task Your Boss Wants Done NOW and installing that annoying security patch.

Let's assume the best of all worlds for the sake of argument. What happens when you transfer to another dept. Who will take over the care and feeding of your pet server? Yep, IT is going to get it to manage eventually, so yes they'd rather it's done right.

For the record, IT manages my servers. Yes I could do it myself. But that's not what I get paid for now.

Min

Comment Re:The real litmus test for this is (Score 4, Insightful) 297

I would absolutely support them. I would sit next to them, and trust my children to them. If there's a terrorist on the plane they're not going to be dumb enough to dress like the one type of person GUARANTEED to get them looked at with suspicion.

BTW, the 911 hijackers wore western style clothing.

Min

Comment Re:Why??? (Score 1) 166

I suspect this was in jest, but I knew a quadriplegic (depending on the vertebra where the cord is damaged, you may get some use of hands. In his case, he had gross muscle control of his left hand, but fine muscle control was nonexistent) once, who had to use an incredibly complex hand control to operate a vehicle.

This sounds like it would be a huge win in simplicating the life for someone like him. You reduce the number of controls he needs from "left, right, acel, brake" to "acel, break, go where I'm looking, don't follow my eyes".

Min
 

Comment My solution in the past (Score 5, Interesting) 530

I have worked for small companies in the past where I was the sole administrator. My solution to this was to store a PGP encoded file on a shared drive with the passwords in it, locked with my asymmetric key and one with a random password. Either one would open it. I put the plaintext password in an envelope, sealed it, signed the envelope and had my boss sign it. The envelope got stored in the company safe and I could inspect it at will. If the seal was intact I knew I was the only one with the passwords and was still responsible for the system. If the seal was broken, it was agreed I did not have any responsibility for damage that might have been caused.

This gave my employers the confidence that they could recover from a disaster (hit by a bus, win the lottery, etc) and gave me the confidence that I didn't have to rule out assistance from well meaning but unskilled bosses when something broke.

Min

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