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Journal Journal: AT & T continues cutting customers' rights

It appears that AT & T's last encounter with consumer unfriendly didn't teach them much about how not to do things. I just received an update to my cellular TOS that included the following clause:

Your phone ... may be used to purchase goods ... using your [phone] or online. ... Subject to our policy for lost or stolen Equipment, you are responsible for all Purchases made using your Equipment.

The lost or stolen policy is as follows:

If your wireless phone or other device ("Equipment") is lost or stolen, you must contact us immediately to report the Equipment lost or stolen. You may be responsible for all charges incurred on your phone number until you report the theft or loss.

With SIM card technology they use, if done properly (or more exactly underhandedly), you may not realize your phone is compromised until you get the bill a month later. I understand that if you give your phone to your kids, AT & T needs to hold you responsible for the actions they do, but this goes too far. Credit card companies and the like have ways to challenge charges, so should this.

The full TOS can be viewed here


Journal Journal: Supreme Court sides with Microsoft Over AT&T 122

The Supreme Court today sided with Microsoft in a patent case filed by AT&T. The case centered around whether selling Windows overseas infringed on AT&T's patents that are in Windows. Microsoft argued (pdf) that since the copies being sold in Asia, etc. are only made from a copy of a master disk sold to OEMs, that it can't be considered a supplier and should have no liablity for what happens to the software.

Microsoft had argued that the software was not technically supplied from the United States because overseas manufacturers of its computers made copies of the software from a master disk and installed those copies into the operating system.

Microsoft said it could not be considered a supplier since the copies, not the original software, were in the computers built abroad.

Now, while I support the weakening of software patents in general, by this logic, would that mean that MS's patents don't apply to those that use pirated copies of Windows?

User Journal

Journal Journal: What gas companies don't want you to know

There is a known secret all gas sellers know but don't want you to know. When you pay for gas at the pump, you may not be getting the gallon you think you are getting. The problem is this, gasoline, like all liquids responds to temperatures by expanding or contracting. When temperatures are lower, gasoline is more dense, when it is higher its less. The amount of energy gas contains is based on this density. Wholesalers and the government have known this for years, thats why there is a standard for determining the power of gas - 1 gallon is 231 cubic inches at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

But this standard is thrown out the window at the gas pump. Gas thats 90 degrees at the pump could have expanded by about 2-4%. This may not seem like much per fill-up, but thats estimated to cost Californians alone $450 million. This also works in the consumer's favor in colder climates, where temperatures are regularly below that 60 degree standard. Gas companies have fixed that issue in Canada by passing legislation allowing fuel retailers to install pumps that adjust for the temperature difference. They don't like taking things the other way though. When Californian consumer groups attempted to get these pumps installed in California, the pump manufacturer suddenly canceled its plans to sell the equipment there, after regulators approved it.

The problem: Gasoline expands as it gets warmer, becoming less dense. But most American gas pumps dispense the same volume -- 231 cubic inches per gallon -- and don't compensate for temperature. That means a gallon of hot gasoline has less energy than a gallon of colder gas.

The cost: One study estimated that Californians would save $450 million if gas pumps compensated for temperature. Consumers across the country would save $1.7 billion.


Journal Journal: Gates: Vista Most-Used Software

With an amazing 1 percent market share, Bill Gates is confident that "Vista's the most-used piece of software there is in the world, and so it has this incredible impact as people talk about how it simplifies things that they've done." Gates also seems to really enjoy the Mac vs. PC ads - from the interview:

GARFIELD: I want to ask you one more thing: Those Mac ads -- how do you feel about the John Hodgman character?

GATES: I can't comment on someone else's ad.

GARFIELD: OK ... but he's you.

GATES: Yeah, I'm not gonna comment on someone else's ad.

GARFIELD: OK, well, Bill Gates, thank you so much for joining us.


GARFIELD: Can I just have a clean goodbye?



Journal Journal: Kinkos has your number 2

CNN is carrying an article about a "new" (or rather, newly disclosed) way to get your personal information.

Now, experts are warning that photocopiers could be a culprit as well.

That's because most digital copiers manufactured in the past five years have disk drives -- the same kind of data-storage mechanism found in computers -- to reproduce documents.

Now, I understand needing to store an image in volatile memory for the duration of a job, but storing it on a magnetic hard drive indefinitely to my mind serves no purpose.

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