Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Annoying popups on NationalMemo.com

A friend posted a link to an article on NationalMemo.com. I went ahead and clicked the link because I was interested in the article, even though I absolutely hate NationalMemo.com’s website.


If you go to NationalMemo.com, you’ll encounter one of their annoying popups (click to embiggen)
Why do I hate NationalMemo.com? Because of their stupid popups.

I might be more inclined to sign one of National Memo’s petitions if there were a link to it in a box next to the article, but by completely obscuring the web page, I am not only disinclined to sign their petition but I’m also disinclined to even visit their poorly thought out website at all.

And I’m not the only person who thinks this.

If you’re not a web developer, or if you think National Memo’s just not worth the bother, the solution is just that—no longer clicking on links going to NationalMemo.com.

However, tools are available to make NationalMemo.com stop its rude behavior, and doing so really doesn’t take long.

What do you need? Greasemonkey, an add-on for Mozilla Firefox that allows you to add your own bits of JavaScript to any web page you visit, in order to change its appearance or behavior.

If you use Google Chrome, you can try TamperMonkey; it’s supposed to be Greasemonkey UserScript-compatible, but I’ve not tried it myself. If you use Microsoft IE, you can try IE7Pro, but why are you using IE? (Yes, my NationalMemo.com screenshot was done with IE, but that’s because I have Adblock Plus (Firefox) / Adblock Plus (Chrome) installed in the browsers I regularly use, and so the popup National Memo tries to force on me is just blank in those browsers.)

Then you just need to create a quick UserScript for NationalMemo.com. Looking at the source of a NationalMemo.com page, you can see that they have a JavaScript function named lbx_show_lightbox_custom() that displays their popup (which they call a “lightbox”). With the power of Greasemonkey, we can replace NationalMemo.com’s lbx_show_lightbox_custom() function and no longer see their stupid popup.

To figure out how to do this, I googled around some for replacing javascript using Greasemonkey, and I found this very helpful page by Squak Mountain Consulting that explained how to do exactly what I wanted.

Using Squak’s example, I came up with the following UserScript:

// ==UserScript==
// @name DisableNationalMemo_lightbox
// @namespace http://www.davidlauri.com/
// @description Turn off the annoying lightbox that National Memo displays
// @include http://www.nationalmemo.com/*
// @version 1
// ==/UserScript==

// set up the javascript function we want to replace
var scriptCode = new Array();
scriptCode.push('function lbx_show_lightbox_custom(){');
scriptCode.push(' return false;');
scriptCode.push('}');

// put the script in a new script element into the DOM
var script = document.createElement('script'); // create the script element
script.innerHTML = scriptCode.join('\n'); // add the script code to it
scriptCode.length = 0; // recover the memory we used to build the script

// find the first <head> tag on the page and then add the new script just below it
document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(script);

A hint for testing this script on NationalMemo.com is that you should find and delete your NationalMemo.com cookies. They only do their stupid popup once (per day? per week? I don’t know), so if you visit their site first and then set up the UserScript, you won’t actually know if it’s their site deciding that you’ve already seen their stupid popup or if it’s your UserScript disabling their lightbox function.

Was it really worth the time it took to deal with NationalMemo.com’s stupid popup? Probably not, but I had fun finding a solution.

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Sorry about your divorce, Mike


Mike and Lori Turner and their family, from when the Turner marriage was still sanctified
Congressman Mike Turner, on behalf of all teh gayz, I want to apologize for destroying your marriage.

I know you tried valiently to save your marriage, voting in 2006 and in 2008 to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect heterosexual marriage from the queer onslaught.

You can be proud of getting an absolute zero on the Human Rights Campaign Congressional Scorecard, having voted against every issue from the “Gay Agenda™” that comes up in Congress. Alas, your votes against the queers have failed to protect your marriage.

I wonder if your perfect score from the Family Research Council will continue, now that your own marriage is “dissolved.” (Let no man put asunder what God has joined together, but I guess you can “dissolve” it, right?)

Your divorce probably won’t affect your re-election. After all Newt Gingrich can trot out his adulterous wife everywhere and still get invited to say with a straight face on TV that he “believe[s] as the Bible teaches, marriage is between a man and a woman.”

So yeah, sorry again about having finally succeeded in wrecking your marriage. I’ll be eagerly awaiting news of your next marriage.

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

A strange incident on Olive’s patio (plus some food porn)

Today for lunch I headed over to one of my favorite places in Dayton, Olive, an urban dive. I like Olive in large part for the food, of course. I also like that it’s near where I live and work. I like its atmosphere, both its cozy tasteful interior and its cheerful patio. I especially like the people who work there, a friendly hard-working bunch (hi Kim and Sandy and Laura and Betsie!). I’ve been eating at Olive about once a week, more or less, since they opened in the summer of 2011.

Olive, because its building (a former Wympee’s) is small, can be difficult to get into. You definitely need reservations for dinner and also for lunch if you go during peak time, the noon hour. I don’t usually make reservations, though. For lunch I drop by around 1 p.m. and can usually get in with little or no wait. For brunch on Saturday I’m often there when they open at 10 a.m. and never have a wait. Today I arrived about 12:30 and inside was pretty busy but the patio was wide open, so I snagged a nice spot in the shade, at the long table in the foreground of the photo to the left.


Visit Olive on Facebook to see their specials
and lots more food porn
Something to know about Olive’s is that it’s not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. If you’re in a rush, go get fast food. The pace at Olive is laid back. It can take some time for the food, but it’s made fresh from good local ingredients and worth the wait. I’m never in a hurry at Olive because I either have gone with a friend or two and we chat as we wait, or, often as not, I’ve gone alone and brought a book.

A trick, however, that you can use to your advantage is to know what you want and to order it when a server asks what you’d like to drink. Makes things easier all around and speeds up the process a bit. Another trick is to like Olive on Facebook because there you can see enticing photos of their daily specials. Today I took advantage of both tricks. Having seen the special online, the meatloaf sandwich (pictured to the right), I knew what I wanted, and as soon as Laura seated me, that’s what I ordered.

Armed with an iced tea and the latest copy of Granta, I settled in on the patio on this nice spring day and awaited my lunch.

While I was waiting, I overheard some people on the other side of the patio fence as they discovered my gay car parked there (“How cool is that!” they said) and took a picture of it. But that wasn’t the strange incident.

 

The strange incident involved a pair of couples who joined me on the patio for lunch.

The first couple to arrive was two lesbians. One might have suspected from looking at them, but one of them was wearing shorts with a rainbow graphic on them. Laura had set the high top (middle of the photo to the left) for them and the couple they were to meet, but the one lesbian wanted to sit in the sun (table at the right of the photo). No biggie—both tables were open, Laura didn’t mind where they sat, and they helped Laura to move the napkins and flatware.

The lesbians’ friends, a heterosexual couple, then arrived to join them, but oh, they weren’t sure they wanted to sit in the sun. Oh, that’s okay, we can sit back at the high top in the shade, the lesbians said, laughing a bit and explaining they’d just moved from that table. No, no, you want to sit in the sun, the straight couple said, we don’t mind, although the wife said she’d have to get her hat and asked her husband for their car keys.

All this negotiating and maneuvering and fetching of hats took some time, but soon enough the two couples were settled in and I had my lunch.

And this is where the strange incident happened.

I had my book propped open, my sandwich in my hands, my mouth full of delicious meatloaf, and the wife looks over at my table and says, “Oh that table would be perfect for us. Would you mind moving over there (pointing at the high top)?”

Would I mind? Yes, of course, I’d fucking mind. I’m already in the middle of my sandwhich, babe, and why should I move for you?

I didn’t actually say that, of course, but instead said, “Um, I’m already settled here,” but the wife didn’t take the hint. “Could we join you?” she asked. “Um, sure,” I said, and over the four of them came, introducing themselves. The husband put out his hand to shake mine but then realized I was holding a sandwich and not really in a position (or the mood, though he didn’t notice that) to shake hands.

I returned to my reading (trying to ignore their conversation right on top of me), and Laura came out to take their order, a bit surprised that they’d moved yet again. “Oh, here at Olive’s you have to be friendly,” I said, which is true, especially inside where the tables are close together, although out on the patio I hadn’t expected there to be two other empty tables and then have people insist on sitting next to me.

The wife remarked that in Europe people share tables all the time. Yeah, I’ve lived in Europe, so I know that’s true but not when there are empty tables to be had.

The silly foursome chattered on, puzzling over the menu (“What’s a socca?” and “I don’t understand the benestacks”), talking about everything they’d done so far today (they get up early!) and everything they were still going to do. Friendly people but a bit queer, and I don’t mean the lesbians.

I enjoyed my sandwich very much though, as well as the champagne vinaigrette dressing on the salad (usually I do patio herb). Not wanting to be rushed off from my little corner of the patio, I also got a scoop of salted caramel Jeni’s ice cream, which Laura knew is my favorite.

What better way to end this post about Olive than with some food porn? They have tons of food porn on their Facebook page, where I stole the above photos of their patio and their meatloaf sandwich, but the following photos are one I took myself of food I especially appreciated at Olive:


Warm scallop salad

Scallops with pasta

Eggs benedict benestack

Triple layer French toast with cream cheese and Nutella

Alfredo socca with pancetta

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

A.J. Wagner on the issues

Click to embiggen this screenshot
of A.J. Wagner’s issues page:

A year ago I wrote about hijacking A.J. Wagner’s first Twitter account after word leaked of his original out-of-state website for his then-unannounced mayor campaign. Yesterday Wagner achieved some moderate success in Dayton’s mayoral runoff, getting 26% of the very low turnout of 9,869 votes, a result that pales in comparison to Nan Whaley’s 50.31% of the vote but that outpaces that of the incumbent mayor, Gary Leitzell, who got only 23.69% and has thus lost his position as mayor. Wagner thus advances to the general election this November and will likely garner many of the votes that might otherwise have gone to Leitzell.

Last year I wondered about Wagner’s positions on gay rights, including issues such as the domestic partnership registery (since enacted but then under discussion by the Dayton City Commission) and marriage equality. Wagner wrote a column in the Dayton City Paper about what he termed a “marriage registry” (an inaccurate term), and he assured me in an email that he is “supportive of gay marriage.”

I wrote that I hoped when his new mayoral campaign website, designed by the Dayton-based firm Eight Deuce, came out that Wagner would clearly state his position on LGBT issues there.

“site:domain.com query” is a useful Google parameter that lets you search a specific website. A year later Wagner’s new site does not list any position on LGBT issues. Google “site:ajwagnerformayor.com marriage” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com discrimination” or “site:ajwagnerformayor.com gay” and you won’t find a single result.

We queers needn’t feel slighted, however, because Wagner’s “Issues” page has absolutely no substantive content on it, as you can see from the screenshot to the right (click to see an embiggened version).

Why Wagner or his web developer would choose to put a link to his Issues page at the bottom of every page on his website and yet leave that Issues page devoid of content I do not know.

Another interesting item about Wagner’s Issues page is his or his web developer’s choice of name for the page. If you go to Wagner’s website and hover over the Issues link at the bottom of any of his pages, you’ll see the URL for that Issues page, which is http://www.ajwagnerformayor.com/donations-to-the-max/. Yep, you read that correctly—Donations to the Max.

Wagner is not a novice politician. He’s been elected to office before. Heck, he even made it past the first post on the way to the mayor’s office. So perhaps he doesn’t need to explain on his campaign website where he stands on any issues.

And I’m no politician. I’ve never run for any office and never will. While I might naively assume that a campaign website is a way for voters to learn about candidates, a campaign website is really, as you can see from the name “Donations to the Max,” about raising money for the campaign.

Experienced politicians seem to think a majority of folks are fine with that.

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Politics in Dayton—lots of choices but little interest

Plus some comments about selected candidates

Earlier this week Dayton held its runoff elections for mayor and city commission. Lots of people were running (and even more wanted to run but failed to qualify), but hardly anyone cared enough to vote.

Mayor (pick 1)
Nan Whaley 4,965 50.3%
A.J. Wagner 2,566 26.0%
Gary Leitzell 2,338 23.7%
Commission (pick 2)
Joey Williams 6,384 36.1%
Jeff Mims 5,282 29.9%
David Greer 2,230 12.6%
David Esrati 2,087 11.8%
Joe Lutz 1,696 9.6%

Dayton’s population is about 142,000, and only 9,869 people voted in Dayton’s May 7th election. The adult population of Dayton is about 109,596 people, so only 9% of adult Daytonians cared enough to vote.

I wasn’t part of that 9%.

Shocking, I know, and this is the first time in quite a while that I haven’t voted. It’s very simple to vote. My polling place is directly across the street from where I live. But I found none of the candidates running to be compelling enough to vote for and didn’t think it really mattered who won.

However, I did vote in a way that’s almost as important as casting a ballot, by making a campaign contribution. I gave Nan Whaley $50, a drop in the big bucket of $106,502.06 Nan collected so far this year and $32,928.20 Nan collected in 2012.

Plenty of people think that the amount of money involved in politics is obscene, and I won’t argue with them. That people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a runoff election where fewer than 10,000 people vote is insane.

Or is it?

The candidates who pledged to spend less than $10,000 this year (incumbent mayor Gary Leitzell, perennial candidate David Esrati and community volunteer David Greer) and the candidate who couldn’t even raise $1,000 (Joe Lutz) all lost.

Leitzell and Lutz lost absolutely—they will not be on the ballot this November. (Leitzell is the first sitting mayor of Dayton in 50 years to lose before the general election.)

Greer and Esrati technically won the right to be on the November ballot, but I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that neither will win in the fall. Williams and Mims each got more votes than Whaley; Greer and Esrati each got fewer votes than Leitzell. I see absolutely nothing to make me believe that Greer and Esrati are going to do significantly better in the general election.

So the winning candidates know something about elections that the losing candidates do not—given the status quo, money matters in winning elections. Wish that it didn’t at your peril. Even President Obama, given the choice between taking the high road by refusing SuperPAC money or winning re-election, was realistic about money.

 

So why’d I give money to Nan Whaley?

A small reason was that I wanted to see the inside of Michael Ervin’s $1.6 million Oregon District house (formerly the Southern Belle bar). Clever idea to hold a fundraiser there. Good relationship building to gain Dayton mover and shaker Michael Ervin’s endorsement.

A much bigger reason was that I very much appreciate Nan’s support for amending Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin lost her seat in part for her support of this change. I’ve said before that I’m a single issue voter, and I mean it: be supportive about gay rights and gain my loyalty—be stupid about gay rights and I won’t vote for you.

Certainly there are valid reasons for people not to vote for Nan. If the amount of money in politics offends your principles, I can’t fault you. Nan’s push polling was distasteful. And I can understand why some people say she’s been on the commission long enough and that it’s time for a change.

The other choices, however, weren’t ones I could make.

A.J. Wagner, although having expressed support privately to me on gay issues, has not taken a clear public stand on his website and has shown a less than clear understanding of things such as Dayton’s domestic partnership registry.

And Gary Leitzell is someone for whom I simply would not vote, for reasons about which I’ve already written. Add to those reasons one more—at a recent event Mayor Leitzell came up to me, our conversation turned (as it is wont to do when I’m involved) to gay issues, and the mayor told me that gay people could manage without marriage, by, for example, getting health insurance through their employers based on domestic partnership. That’s just not true. My employer, a small non-profit, would like very much to offer coverage to same sex partners of employees, but we’ve simply not been able to find an insurance company that will provide such coverage to us. When Mayor Leitzell did not believe me, I pulled over our company president and CEO to explain how he’s tried, to no avail, to find same sex partner coverage.

I do have plenty of friends, gay and gay supportive, who did support the mayor’s re-election, and I don’t blame them for that. I’m a single-issue voter, but many people are not. Reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately for my friends who supported Leitzell, they were vastly outnumbered, unable to convince 91% of Dayton voters to vote at all and unable to convince 76.3% of those who did vote to vote for Leitzell.

About David Esrati

One friend who supported the mayor’s re-election, however, is not really of the mindset that reasonable people can disagree. That friend is David Esrati. What made me realize David’s mindset, and also made me decide I couldn’t vote for him this time, was a Facebook post in which he told his friends that if any of us had Nan Whaley signs in our yards, we should go ahead and defriend him.

I didn’t have a Whaley sign (I don’t have a yard), but I wondered what David would think if he knew I gave Nan money. Would he defriend me? Not that it would really matter—I’ve been defriended before.

Back in 2010 when David was running for Congress, I wrote “An endorsement, of sorts, of David Esrati for Congress,” in which I said, “David Esrati may be crazy, he may be annoying, [and] he may be unelectable.”

How Esrati conducted himself during this campaign confirms that all these things are still true. He’s still unelectable—his coming in fourth out of five in this week’s election shows that. He’s still annoying—for example, see his blog post “Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny).” And he’s still crazy—that old saying about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results certainly applies here.

However, something else I said in that 2010 endorsement of sorts is also still true—“Esrati makes his opponents more accountable” and “he offers something” to Daytonians. The Dayton Daily News report on this week’s election says that “Leitzell claimed he’d be more powerful as a private citizen than as mayor.” I think something similar is true about Esrati as well.

To explain that, let me mention two emails David sent me last month.

One was to ask me if I was going to update my 2010 endorsement of him. I delayed answering that one because I didn’t want to write something negative before the election, although I was already starting to think about writing something (which has become this post you’re now reading).

The other email was to let me know that the DDN was compiling a list of the Top 50 Thinkers in the Miami Valley and asking if I would recommend him for that. I did not hesitate to write that recommendation. I pointed out that many Dayton Daily News articles originate from posts on Esrati.com—that’s so true that David’s April Fools post this year, “Esrati.com to shut down, Esrati to work for Dayton Daily News,” actually fooled some people.

In my email to Ron Rollins, I also wrote:

Whether or not people like David Esrati or his ideas, there’s no denying that David Esrati is worth paying attention to, that he puts out ideas for moving our community forward, that he encourages participation in thinking about those ideas, and that therefore he is a Top Thinker in the Miami Valley.

Although David Esrati’s not clever about getting elected, as election after election shows, he is rather clever about using running for office as a way to get people to hear and discuss what he says. If you, like so many people, decline to vote for Esrati, I understand—you might not want to throw away a vote. But if you’re one of Esrati’s few vocal supporters, I can respect that as well. Given the overall apathy in Dayton, a political blogger and community activist who cares about Dayton is someone to value (even if he is annoying, crazy and unelectable).

Friday, May 17th, 2013

No, 

Google+

, I do not want to say Happy Birthday

Google+ wants to be just like Facebook.

Like everyone else on the Internet I use Google’s service every day. Gmail for personal and work email, Google Calendar for personal and work calendars, Google Maps, Google News, Google Translate, and, of course, the original Google, Google search.

Google+ wants to be as annoying as Facebook Today I was searching for something, and Google decided to be all Facebook on me.

If you use Facebook, you know that Facebook tells you every day which of your friends have birthdays that day, encouraging you to “write a birthday wish on their timeline.” And now Google wants in on the game.

Sorry, but I’ve gotten into enough trouble on Facebook that I’m not going to get in the habit of visiting Google+ every day and getting into the same issues there.

I do still participate in Happy Birthdaying on Facebook. It’s the least I can do. It takes almost no effort to post Happy Birthday on someone’s timeline, and many people appreciate it.

But the very same person Google wanted me to say Happy Birthday to on Google+ is someone I’d already said Happy Birthday to on Facebook.

If that person would be upset by my refusing to wish her Happy Birthday in multiple places, she can unfriend me (or whatever the Google+ equivalent of that is).

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Prayer: Are we doing it wrong?

or What’s the point of prayer?

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say to you, they have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:5–6

Did you go to church this morning? If you did, I bet you saw someone standing at the front of the sanctuary, praying in front of the congregation.

Which is strange, given that Jesus, according to the Bible, gave us very explicit instructions about how to pray. Praying in front of others is exactly what Jesus told us not to do.

Most Christians have probably heard of the Sermon on the Mount, but if you ask most Christians what Jesus said then about prayer, they’d probably say he taught us the Lord’s Prayer, not that he told us to pray alone in secret.

Perhaps that’s because most Christians haven’t been paying attention on Ash Wednesday (do most Christians even go to an Ash Wednesday service?), when Matthew 6:5–6 is included in the Revised Common Lectionary (all three years—A, B, and C).

More likely it’s because Matthew 6:5–6 is read in church once a year, while every Sunday pastors and liturgists climb up to pulpits and lecterns to pray in public. All churches, conservative or progressive, do this. And it’s not just in church that we pray; in America we pray everywhere, at inaugurations, before city commission meetings, at prayer breakfasts, at football games, on reality TV shows.

And do those of us who pray get our reward?

For an answer to that question, you could ask John Helmberger, head of Minnesotans for Marriage, who this past Monday told the folks he brought to St. Paul to “pray for God to intervene” to stop queer Minnesotans from gaining marriage equality. Helmberger prayed standing in the streets (see Matthew 6:5 above) and got his reward accordingly—gay marriage in Minnesota.

Or you could ask me. I spent many a night as a closeted teenager praying to God to fix me. I prayed in secret (see Matthew 6:6 above) because I had a horrible secret, but God declined to answer my prayers—yep, I’m still gay.

Some might argue now that God did answer my prayers, just not exactly as I asked, instead helping me to see that it’s okay to be gay. Salon.com has a fun excerpt from Kevin Roose’s book, a chapter about how Roose and some other Liberty University students went to Daytona to witness to spring breakers. Favorite prayer: “Lord, let them be nicer to us tonight.” God works in mysterious ways and all that.

And I would answer, no, that’s bullshit. I do not believe that an omnipotent omniscient God hears all prayers and makes decisions about how to answer each one, sometimes in ways we don’t understand.

 

Lots of people do believe in the power of prayer, though.

For example, my church has a Facebook group, and while it’s also used for things such as announcing events or seeking volunteers, it seems lately that its
Click to embiggen to see
some Facebook prayers
primary purpose is for public prayer in the form of Facebook comments.

If you see a Facebook prayer request, how should you respond? You could simply comment “PRAYERS” (ALL CAPS makes it work better). You could opt for the standard “My prayers are with you,” or you could go with the more secular “Thinking of you.” Do make some comment, however, because it’s the least you can do.

The least we can do does seem to matter. In the example to the right, the prayer requester comments at the bottom that she wants to thank everyone for their concern. I don’t know if she believes that everyone’s prayers would sway God to intervene in her situation (some people do believe that), but she did appreciate knowing that people care about her.

Although if typing a one-line comment on Facebook is the least we can do, then there’s certainly more we could do, isn’t there? Sending a card or flowers would have more impact, as would calling not to say “If there’s anything I can do, let me know,” but instead to say “Can I walk your dog or bring you a meal,” concrete actions that would be more powerful than verbal prayers.

And so, despite what Jesus taught about prayer, perhaps the point of prayer is not asking God to do something but spurring one another to do something. If that’s true, then praying in a closet where only God can hear would be rather pointless. The point of prayer might be to let others know what we need so they can help us and to hear what others need so we can help them.

And yet something I read a few years ago suggests there may also be a purpose for prayer done alone. Brown University student Kevin Roose took a semester off from Brown to attend Liberty University so he could write a book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University. Roose returned to his “ultimate, secular, liberal” environment but “still tries to pray every day.” Why? To answer that, Roose quotes Oswald Chambers, who said that prayer doesn’t change things but instead “prayer changes me and then I change things.”

I don’t see myself getting into the habit of praying daily, even though this idea of being mindful of what I could do to improve things (either in my own or others’ lives) doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Perhaps, instead of tossing off one-line Facebook comment prayers (“my thoughts are with you”), a first step would be to really try to have my thoughts be with those who seek prayers and to think about what small step (bigger than a FB comment) I could take to make a difference for them.

Prayer might have a point, but only if we do prayer right.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Ineffective SPAM


Ring, ring! Pick up the clue phone, RingCentral!
RingCentral won’t leave me alone.

On May 6th, Bryan McDonald sent me the following email:

I am doing some research on your company to determine if there is any interest in a cloud business phone system. Your business will benefit from more control, more features and 50-70% lower telecommunications costs.

Fair enough. Technically, because this is unsolicited email, it's SPAM, but it didn’t seem outrageous, so I sent a short reply:

We already use 8x8 for our phone system and have no interest in switching.

So I was a bit annoyed when Bryan McDonald sent another message on May 9th, saying, “Just following up on the last email I sent you about your business phone system.” Yeah, if you’d actually read my reply, you wouldn’t have needed to send a followup message.

So I filled out RingCentral’s online contact form (no use replying to Bryan McDonald), saying again that we weren’t interested in switching from 8x8.

I got a reply back from Rheychelle N, apologizing and saying, “we assure that we will inform Brian McDonald or other account representatives not to contact you anymore.”

Today I get an email from Jenny Lindgren. Surprise, surprise, the email has the exact same text that Bryan sent.

I am doing some research on your company to determine if there is any interest in a cloud business phone system. Your business will benefit from more control, more features and 50-70% lower telecommunications costs.

Um, no. Just no. I’ve set up a filter to automatically delete any messages from anyone at ringcentral.com, which is what I should have done in the first place.

And I’ve also written this blog entry, so people searching for info about RingCentral will know what kind of marketing practices they endorse (hint: the kind that guarantees that people won’t want to deal with RingCentral).

Update 6/24/2013: Today Denny Merrow sent RingCentral’s standard boilerplate SPAM message to the finance director at the company I work for. We’re still not going to buy hosted VoIP services from RingCentral, even if they send their SPAM to each one of our employees.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Facebook scam

I got a friend request today from someone I was already friends with on Facebook.

At first I wondered if he’d accidentally defriended me and was therefore refriending me, but I checked my friends list and he was still on it.

Then I went back to the new profile and looked more closely at the URL, which was https://www.facebook.com/deji.waleola.

No, my friend’s name is not Deji Waleola.

One smarter friend posted on our friend’s original FB timeline about the fake profile.

Dozens of our other friends in common had already accepted this fake account’s friend request, apparently without wondering why this friend had set up a new FB profile or chosen such a strange URL. They shouldn’t feel too bad, though, because lots of people on Facebook do stupid things.

 
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