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Tuesday, September 29th, 2015, 8:12 am

Getting Soaked in Beer at EasyJet flight When EasyJet Staff Foolishly Gives Plenty of Alcohol to Heroin Addict

Confrontational, loud, rude passengers are not all that unusual. What’s more unusual are serial offenders (with the police at their back), who barely make it through airport security, smuggle illegal amounts of tobacco through the plane (by their own admission), have a history of severe drug abuse (the worst drugs that exist) and who enjoy the service of sales-happy flight attendants who serve them unlimited alcohol on a plane, despite already seeing abusive and antisocial behaviour.

My wife and I happened to have been allocated seats next to the worst type of person. Worst possible! I never thought it was possible for such a person to even board an airplane (especially in such a state). We were constantly interrupted for hours and the staff hardly cared at all. To make matters worse, then gave him a lot of beer, which he repeatly spilled on my wife (seated next to him) and myself (2 seats away). She got soaked and so were her sandals, bags, clothes and so on. A 5-hour journey next to a non-stop talker (sometimes to himself) heroin addict (by his own admission) can be very unpleasant.

If that’s not bad enough, EasyJet staff refused to take responsibility for this. All they seemed to care about was making money by selling beer. As much as possible! They were unhelpful and they made an effort to even blame the victim of this, as if it’s not acceptable for the customer to make a complaint about 1) failure to identity potentially problematic passengers; 2) failing to reallocate seats once abuse was reported (probably too late at this stage as much damage has already been done; 3) serving a lot alcohol to an already-abusive passenger, who based on the smell of his breath was already drunk when he got on board.

EasyJet not only gave a terrible flying experience (worse we even encountered) but also attempted to distance itself from responsibility and and paint the sufferer as the problem, probably for fear that admission of guilt would make the company liable for other such complaint.

EasyJet is a horrible company. Not will you get what you pay for; you’ll get a lot less and then be blamed, too. Better not to fly at all then to fly with EasyJet.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015, 8:32 pm

TechBytes Episode 89: Back on the Air

TechBytes 2015

Direct download as Ogg (2:14:03, 59.0 MB) | High-quality MP3 (30.7 MB)

Summary: An episode which focuses on the rise of Chromebooks, serious issues pertaining to privacy, media bias, and the demise of Windows

This is the first show to have been recorded this year and hopefully the resumption of TechBytes as a weekly of bi-weekly show. We are hoping to facilitate live broadcasting of the show as well (coming soon). The show officially turns 5 in just 4 weeks from now.

We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows.

As embedded (HTML5):

Download:

Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015, 10:05 am

Militarisation and Privatisation of British Police

G4S and TAU in Manchester

The above photograph was taken by me less than a day ago. It was captured near Town Hall (Manchester). I could not help taking it because it was such a poetic illustration of what had gone wrong with UK policing, especially in recent years.

In British newspapers, not to mention blogs, one dominant theme this week is a massive round of layoffs, potentially affecting over 20,000 cops. It smacks of austerity. There are no police cutbacks, however, just privatisation. Tories want to do to the public sector, police included, what they have already done (to some degree) to the NHS. Enriching already-rich private companies like G4S and Serco seems to be the goal here.

For the uninitiated, TAU is like militarised police in Manchester (here they are beating up nonviolent teenagers), so seeing them parked right next to the G4S van was just priceless.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015, 9:01 am

PayPal Steals Money and Runs (No Real Support Mechanism)

I never chose to use PayPal. I did, however, choose to use eBay nearly a decade and a half ago (eBay is not perfect either, even for technical limitations and lack of APIs). For almost half a decade I was among the very few eBayers who were sending cheques, basically refusing to set up a PayPal account, but eventually I gave up and accepted this villainous entity, which based on this latest news is going to remain a necessity for all eBayers, even after the companies separate/decouple (almost exactly one decade after the buyout). PayPal is generally a very greedy and nasty company. It even bans accounts and potentially confiscates money for political purposes. It’s a foe of FOSS, it’s a proponent of some truly horrible new laws, and nobody should forget what it did to the likes of Wikileaks.

I have just become a victim of PayPal’s bad systems and bad service as well. I lost money due to their error and they’re not even fixing it, they’re just wasting time, probably hoping that I will lose interest in pursuing this any further. I already provided all the necessary details to the vendor, which after a couple of days said that this issue was at PayPal’s end and that PayPal needs to be contacted. What I didn’t quite know is how much trouble this would be. First of all, PayPal tried to bounce me back to the vendor (playing ping-pong basically) and then replied very slowly (days apart) without taking any action, just wasting more time and taking another day… and another day… now almost a week. These people don’t seem to want to be held accountable to their own mistakes and their own server glitches.

If possible, avoid PayPal. By any means. Companies like PayPal deserve to fail.

Update (3/9/2015): Over the past 10 days or so I’ve nagged PayPal on almost a daily basis to rectify this matter. Earlier today they even tried playing ping-pong again (referring me back to the vendor), but after hours of nagging they finally rectified the matter. It wasn’t worth the time. To just issue a just correction worth several pounds I had to spent a very long time and do a lot of legwork. Here is the final message from PayPal:

Dear Roy Schestowitz,

Thank you for contacting PayPal via Twitter. If you did not initiate this contact, please let us know immediately by replying to this email.

I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to locate those account credits and would be happy to assist you further.

From reviewing your account, I can see that 2 credits in the amounts of £2.78 GBP each were issued to your PayPal account balance today (transactions [redacted] and [redacted]).

_____

Prior to these credits being issued, you had received £10.00 GBP from [redacted] (transaction [redacted]), which left your PayPal account balance at [redacted] GBP. After those credits were issued to your account, they brought your account balance to [redacted] GBP. You then received £10.00 GBP from Annette Trevelyan (transaction [redacted]), which has left you with a current balance of [redacted] GBP.

If there is anything else that I can assist you with, please let me know.

If you would like to reach me directly, my telephone number is [redacted] and I work Wed, Thur, Sat and Sun from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Central Time. In addition,please feel free to contact PayPal’s Twitter Support Team at askpaypal@paypal.com if you have any questions or concerns or if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
PayPal Twitter Support
PayPal, Inc.

Copyright © 1999-2015 PayPal. All rights reserved.
PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A.
Société en Commandite par Actions
Registered Office: 5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg
RCS Luxembourg B 118 349

Friday, August 14th, 2015, 8:38 am

Synergy for Expanded Workspace Without Extra Cables

Quad head

IF ONE looks for a laptop with a graphics card that has more than one output, the outputs often cannot be used concurrently, so for instance, my work laptop can either use an external display via HDMI or via VGA, not both at the same time. How does one easily expand one’s workspace? Get a budget Chromebook (15-inch Acer in this case), install GNU/Linux on it, extend the display to an external monitor (28 inches in this case), then connect to the other (primary) laptop using Synergy. Voila! Quad-head laptop (see above). There are no excuses anymore for not choosing laptops over desktop.

Friday, August 7th, 2015, 11:11 am

Debunking the Alleged ‘Necessity’ of Facebook

Bathroom

One of the alleged “reasons” for Facebook registration is sharing one’s personal photos with family and friends, or at least view some. It is, however, quite antisocial to require a friend, peer, parent or sibling to give away a lot of personal details to a malicious company just to be allowed into the walled gardens of this company and view photos that this company has nothing to do with (not even copyrights).

Several years ago Rianne and I set up an album in this site, obviating the need for some privacy-infringing Facebook account, which practically helps spy on both the uploader and the viewers, who are supposed to be “friends” and thus not massively spied on. Later this week the album will have had half a million views, showing (we hope) that even a decentralised platform can host one’s photos and receive views from one’s connections, without the need for a massive surveillance network masquerading as ‘social’ media.

The only sad thing is, Yahoo! recently destroyed the slideshow part of our gallery by buying a company that had provided this third-party service for years (in the form of JavaScript), silently taking out all the code and server resources only months later (we estimate this happened half a year after the acquisition). Browsing photos more rapidly has therefore become harder and we are hoping to find a replacement some time in the future (none has been found yet which is fit for purpose). By buying this company, which is sad for a lot of people except perhaps the staff, Yahoo! basically broke the slideshow functionality in tens or hundreds of thousands of Gallery 2/3 Web sites. It is another legitimate reason to hate Yahoo!

Saturday, August 1st, 2015, 10:19 am

When Mozilla Puts an Advertising Network at the Very Heart of Firefox

IT IS no secret that Mozilla has been planning to put ads inside Firefox. This is a very controversial decision, so Mozilla is apparently still experimenting with it, mostly promoting its own products and services. Today, however, I saw one of my ‘speed-dial’ buttons (linking to Twitter) spontaneously replaced with Mozilla ads, some of them “sponsored” and some proprietary software (like Pocket). I took screenshots to serve as proof of this and here are four examples.

firefox-ads

It might not be long before Firefox spies on the users, transmits user data to Mozilla, and then Mozilla sends targeted ads for whatever product/brand exists in the market and looks for clients. Mozilla would be utterly stupid to do such a thing, for the media (not just users) would definitely strike back. If Mozilla needs more sources of revenue, this shouldn’t be it. The negative publicity would induce greater losses than the temporary gains (from sales of advertisement slots).

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