Introduction About Site Map

RSS 2 Feed RSS 2 Feed

Main Page | Blog Index

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 if you have any questions or concerns or if we can be of further assistance.


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


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.


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).

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015, 8:24 am

Moving the Whole Neighbourhood Away From BT and BT Openreach Lines (Updated)

IT HAS been nearly four months since a serious REIN issue developed here in this neighbourhood. It took me over 20 hours on the phone before BT sent out an engineer (I wasn’t the only one complaining) and perhaps 40 hours on the phone (set aside other forms of correspondence, many visits from engineers, and the suffering from a poor connection for many months in a row) to send out the Precision Test Officer. Much of it was gradually chronicled in the following posts:

Dumping BT isn’t quite a solution because it’s the BT Openreach line that has an issue with it. It doesn’t matter if one moves to a different ISP, the cables stay the same. My neighbours who experience similar issues and complain about it are not even with BT as their ISP. So we need alternative cables, e.g. Virgin. A couple of days ago I responded to BT (see the latest in the third link above).

Virgin is now polling/asking (by post) the whole area if there’s enough demand for fiber-optic connection. I think that they already have some infrastructure in place, based on what the precision testing officer told me. BT Openreach wiring here cannot be trusted anymore, and there is no imminent remedy, not even hope of a fix.

If I get my way, we might be able to get new wiring from BT’s competition here. That will help resolve the issue for good, I hope, helping a lot of people…

And later on the connection got so bad that I escalated this to the highest BT managers with the following strongly-worded message:

We have just been disconnected SEVEN times in a 30-minute period. This is not acceptable and I cannot accept closure of this issue. If need be, I shall work to have alternative cables introduced in our neighbourhood and lobby all my neighbour (using letters) to dump BT for good, showing them how poorly the company has dealt with this issue that I first reported nearly 4 months ago. I have detailed documentation of this case, so facts are on my site. It took more than 3 months to merely send a precision testing officer out!

Yesterday I spent half an hour with BT on the phone. We’re still trying get get alternative wiring/cabling (alternative to BT Openreach), whereupon we can finally leave.

Judging by some reactions that I received online, other people in England and even in Scotland had similar experiences with BT and only by dumping BT’s cables have these problems been ‘resolved’. This BT monopoly on the cables (BT Openreach) needs to end.

Update: BT Retail sent the following message.

Hi Mr Schestowitz,

I’d like to thank for your emails and time you have spent with me on the phone it was very much appreciated and I’d like to thank you for your patience with the issues you’ve faced.

The Future
I’ve closed your complaint as we discussed on the phone. If you have any other problems, please get in touch on [redacted] or [redacted] using PIN 1089. Or you can email my team at [redacted]

For anything else our Customer Services will be happy to help on 0800 800 150. Or why not take a look at our website Alternatively for any issues with your BT services the Technical Helpdesk are available on 0800 111 4567 should you need them.

What we’ve done…
You reported you were facing issues with your Broadband in that it was intermittent, dropping connection multiple times per day. After multiple tests and engineers have been out heavy REIN interference was suspected. A REIN trained engineer and both a Precision Test Engineer have both surveyed the area but were unable to locate a source for the interference.

Currently legislation exists in the form of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations (Statutory Instrument 2006 No.3418). It ensures that when new equipment is placed on the market in the UK it mustn’t cause interference to radio services and telecommunications networks. Conformance being indicated by the affixation of the CE mark.

Unfortunately in most REIN cases the source of the noise is not a device that is causing problems from new, but has degraded during its life such that it generates excessive noise in the order of 50dB (100,000 times) higher than when it was new, and met the EMC regulations and was CE marked. This excessive noise is usually due to components failing within the power supply, but unfortunately the equipment still appears to operate normally to the owner.

We’ve talked about such issues with BIS and Ofcom in the past and they all agree that there’s currently no legislation that we can use to stop this interference being caused. The EMC regulations are a market entry requirement to allow free movement of goods around Europe and hence only apply when equipment is first sold and so has no application to in-life issues that subsequently occur.

In most cases when such issues are bought to the attention of the owner of the faulty equipment they are co-operative and will take action to repair or replace the equipment causing the problems. However in a limited number of cases (like this one) that co-operation is not forthcoming and then there is currently nothing that BT or anyone can do. It is for these cases that new legislation is required. Ideally any new legislation should allow an enforcement authority to issue a suspension notice (something along the lines of Article 43 of SI2006: 3418) to the owner of the equipment that is causing the interference.

I hope this helps you understand our position better, and why this has been a lengthy process. As the engineers have confirmed that they are unable to locate the sources of the REIN in the area they’ve had no choice other than to close off their investigation and with this there are no further actions we can take.

I’d like to thank you for both your time on the phone and the understanding of the situation.


Due to the issues you were facing and as we discussed I would like to credit you half of the Broadband cost for the 4 month you have been facing these problems. You will see a single credit on your next bill of £44.25. This is in full and final settlement of your complaint as we agreed.

Many Thanks

Executive Level Technical Complaints
BT Retail

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, 8:54 am

Amazon Says I Need to Sue in Order to Merely Find Out Who Uses Their Own Facilities (AWS) to Attack My Site (Update)

AWS logo

OVER the past few days I spent a lot of time (never mind emotional impact) pressuring Amazon, having already spent a lot of time battling DDOS attacks which rendered my biggest site inaccessible. After much stonewalling (I had to repeat my request about 5 times only to receive useless replies or no replies at all) I got a message. It took a very long time and much strongly-worded nagging and I finally got a reply (after a day and a half of silence) saying that Amazon cannot “release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law” (i.e. start legal action).

So in layman’s terms, my site got attacked by Amazon servers which were rented out to an Amazon customer and when when I ask Amazon who is doing this (so that I can take action) they say they cannot tell me and that I must go to expensive lawyers to do so, wasting both time and money in a courtroom.

I have secured evidence of the attacks by now. Tomorrow I may visit some local attorneys, provided any of them might even know what DDOS means (British police certainly didn’t understand what I was talking about when I took my complaints to them).

Here is Amazon’s reply in full:

Hello Roy,

I apologize that you are not satisfied with the communication that you have been receiving. I’d also like to apologize that you were not told that our privacy policy does not permit us to release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law. I am sure that you understand that there are laws we need to follow and I would also like to thank you for reporting this as we take security very seriously.

Please forward the subpoena documentation to:, Inc.
Corporation Service Company
300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304
Tumwater, WA 98501
Attn: Legal Department – Subpoena

The request should include the IP address(es) as well as an exact, accurate timestamp, including the timezone, associated with each address.

I apologize for any inconvenience caused by privacy laws. I can assure you that the matter is being dealt with by our specialized abuse team.

I hope that this is helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Best regards,


In short: Waste of money and time in order to find out who’s engaging in abuse, which is very much ridiculous. Amazon is just covering its own behind in case of lawsuits from the client over revelation of identity. Since the abusive servers are Amazon’s I suppose I can just start legal action against Amazon itself, both for DDOS and for refusal to respond to my questions regarding accountability.

My response to Amazon was as follows:

Unless Amazon is willing to settle, I am going to sue Amazon, not waste time and money sending a subpoena. The attacks on my site came, on numerous occasions, from servers owned and operated by Amazon.

Amazon, moreover, repeatedly stonewalled my requests to find out who is accountable, both inside Amazon and in its client/s, whom it is unwilling to unmask despite acknowledgement of abuse (AWS staff already confirmed this in writing).

Please provide me with the address to serve legal papers to, as I am going to sue Amazon for damages, misconducts, and waste of my time.

In the mean time, I shall continue to publicly shame Amazon for this abusive behaviour, in various social media sites and my own e.g.

Just because you rent out computing resources does not exempt you from accountability for how these are used.

Updated (29/7/2015): Amazon AWS has just replied to me. Almost ONE MONTH late. I think I know now who knocked the site offline. Bad publicly (online) probably caused this belated reaction from Amazon. To quote AWS:

Dear abuse reporter,

We sincerely apologize for the delay in addressing this abuse case. Our customer has confirmed that the party responsible for this traffic has modified their crawler appropriately. If you’d like to prevent them from crawling your site in future, you can add the following directive to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: revivebot
Disallow: /

If this problem recurs, please open a new abuse report with timestamped logs showing the unwanted traffic. We will make every effort to work with you and our customer to reach a solution.

Thank you for your patience and attention to this matter.

AWS Abuse team

Monday, June 29th, 2015, 12:50 am

HP Chromebook 14 Keyboard and Other Low-Quality HP Equipment

WHO thought that a hardware company like HP cannot make a well-working low-budget laptop? Despite positive reviews, only 6 months after buying HP Chromebook 14 an entire section of keys stopped working or works intermittently (intermediately causing huge nuisance!), making it almost impossible to type sentences. This is the hallmark of bad connections/wiring — the hallmark of cheaply-made keyboards with lousy components (my Palm PDA keyboard only had this kind of issue more than a decade after I had started using it). HP’s hardware quality control surely is lacking, or maybe HP puts its brand on poorly made hardware put together by low-paid labour with cheap/shoddy components (which would cost a lot in the long term, if a buyer falls into it).

According to numerous responses in this first thread I found (didn’t search for any particular brand, but HP Chromebook 14 gets mentioned a lot), quite a lot of people experience the exact same hardware fault (same keys too) in months-old HP Chromebook 14. Rubbish quality seems to be the culprit. This sure sounds like a manufacturing issue that is systemic. Nothing gets spilled and the keyboards are treated gently. It’s just poor quality build and maybe — however sadly — this is where HP is heading. That’s s shame because a lot of computer equipment in our house is HP-branded (keyboards, mice, printer, tablet, laptops). We bought “HP” we because we though it would assure reliability. Only 2 weeks ago my HP laptop charger just popped and burned (smoke, no fire), necessitating an expensive replacement because HP has some kind of proprietary (hard to find) connector.

I have lost trust and am losing respect for HP.

Real-time Posts

Retrieval statistics: 23 queries taking a total of 0.332 seconds • Please report low bandwidth using the feedback form
Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
|— Proudly powered by W o r d P r e s s — based on a heavily-hacked version 1.2.1 (Mingus) installation —|