Archive for May, 2006

NSA, Redux

NetWizard recently took the plunge and requested his NSA record, as I did earlier this year. Unlike my response, his is “neither a confirmation or denial” that such records exist. Why?

It’s pretty simple. He specifically mentions [a] “List of all phone records collected by the NSA from telecommunications companies under my home and cell phone number specified above”. The NSA, understandably, refused to confirm or deny the existance of ANY “records collected… from telecommunications companies”. No-brainer, really.

I’m sure if he tries again with a more generic FOIA/PA request, he’ll get the standard “no records” response.

I’m not saying this is a good thing, just explaining the way things are, in the hopes that some of the many people advising him to appeal might see this.

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on May 28th, 2006 | Comments Off on NSA, Redux

(Why) I (Heart) FedEx

I was awoken this morning by a phone call – several phone calls, in face – from Federal Express. Some might be irritable at being woken at the butt-crack of dawn by a phone call from a delivery service, but not me.

I wrote earlier of my horrible experience getting a piece of computer equipment delivered by DHL. Well, I got an RMA for the original piece and returned it; my warranty replacement was shipped FedEx. Alas, I’ve moved since the original piece of equipment was shipped, six months ago, but despite a note from me, the supplier shipped to my old address.

That could have been a problem, but the Federal Express driver knows I don’t live there anymore, and was not only nice enough, but cares enough about customer service, to call me before beginning his route and find out my current address. That sort of thing is why I like FedEx.

It’s not the first time they’ve done something like this; when I lived where I used to, I was “early” on the regular delivery route, and the place where I worked was near the end. If they tried to deliver at my home and I wasn’t there, they’d just drop the package off at my work address instead, without being asked. (Nevermind that I often wasn’t working, but was out grocery shopping for something; it’s the thought that counts.)

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 24th, 2006 | Comments Off on (Why) I (Heart) FedEx

Scamming Scum

A couple weeks ago, a kid knocked on my door, trying to sell me a subscription – a six-month subscription – to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press newspaper, whose continued existance is less than certain. It doesn’t really matter; I don’t want the paper. The kid was nice, very polite and pleasant, made a good sales pitch and everything, but I still said no.

Would I, the kid wanted to know, at least sign a note saying he’d been polite and professional, so his boss would have proof he was doing his job? It seemed suspicious to me; in the newspaper business, nobody cares if you’re polite; your job is to sell papers, and that’s the only performance metric of importance. But what the hell, I figured. I said yes, and he handed me a blank form. “Just print your name and sign at the bottom,” he said, helpfully.

What he didn’t offer was that I was signing a blank subscription order form, and he presumably thought I was too stupid to notice. I wasn’t, though; I put down a fake name, and scrawled an illegible signiature. That was it, no address, no phone number, no nothing. He smiled and thanked me, and that was that.

Until a few days later, when there was a paper laying on the doorstep. And the next day, and the day after that. I knew exactly what had happened, but I played dumb and called the paper, explaining that they’d started delivering to me, and I didn’t know why. Okay, they said, they’d make sure it didn’t happen again.

And it didn’t… until Sunday, when the big bloated Sunday paper showed up on my doorstep, en route to the recycling bin.

That Tuesday I got a call from the paper, asking for the fake name I’d put down. “There’s nobody here by that name,” I told them. Oh, they said, is this 1200 Slugsite Way? Yes, I said. Was I sure there wasn’t anyone here by that name?

No, I insisted, there was nobody here by that name, but it did sound suspiciously close to the fake name I’d used when one of their salespeople had wanted me to sign a blank subscription form as proof he’d made a professional sales presentation…

Net result, I’m no longer receiving the newspaper, I don’t – obviously – have to pay for the copies that were delivered, and the jobless number in the city just rose by one.


Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General | on May 23rd, 2006 | Comments Off on Scamming Scum

DHL, Redux

So there I was, just about to head out the door, when the bat-phone rang. I ran and answered it, thinking it might be a phone survey, someone trying to sell me a new driveway, or something else important. Nope, it was some sullen-sounding customer service representative from DHL.

She wanted me to know that they had a package for me at the hub – the Airborne Express next-day-air, Saturday-delivery package they failed to deliver on Saturday and subsequently lied to me about a lot on Tuesday, after again failing to deliver it to my address. Did I want to drive over to the hub and pick it up, or should DHL just return it to the shipper? This, I was pretty sure, was something I’d cleared up with them on Tuesday; apparently not.

Well, I said, as much as the package was very important to me, seeing as how it was supposed to be here a week ago, high-priority and all that, I was absolutely disgusted with the way that DHL had failed to provide even the most basic service expected of them, and doubly disgusted with the way I was lied to, repeatedly, by their employees…

…”So we should send it back?”

She didn’t sound surprised, or upset, or even like she remotely cared about the ridiculous way I’ve been treated by her company. No offer to, you know, try and “make it right”; no interest in what they’d done to upset me… just the hallmark apathy of DHL.

Yes, you incompetent ninnies, return the stupid package already.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 18th, 2006 | Comments Off on DHL, Redux

Reliable Remailer User’s Manual

Some time back the TCUEC website resurrected the Reliable Remailer User’s Manual” that’s was unavailable on the web for over a year. Amid the continuing news of the NSA’s data-collection endeavours, privacy, anonymity, and the obfuscation of traffic analysis is more important than ever.

The right to privacy: use it, or lose it.

Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on May 17th, 2006 | 5 Comments »