Amazon Customer Banned for Returning Faulty Goods

A self-confessed Amazon addict has had his account banned and gift card balance seized after returning a number of items which he insists were faulty. Greg Nelson, a computer programmer from the UK, bought 343 items from the online retailer over two years, returning 37 of them on the grounds that they were faulty, damaged, or not as described. The frequent returns have resulted in him being blocked from any future purchases from Amazon, losing his gift card balance in the process, despite what Nelson claims to be fair grounds for sending the offending items back.

“As a previously fervently loyal fan of Amazon who has been a customer since 2002, I understand that it is trying to protect its business – however I find its actions in this situation totally egregious,” Nelson told The Guardian. “I could understand if there were evidence that I had somehow tried to abuse the system, but I haven’t. Of course, Amazon can refuse to serve whom it likes, but surely it cannot legally keep gift card balances and other purchased goods which have already been paid for by the customer – despite what any potentially unfair small print might say?”

Nelson has tried repeatedly to contact Amazon about the matter, but the company’s customer service department has only responded with a default response, refusing to re-open his account.

Amazon refused to discuss Nelson’s case specifically, but confirmed that Nelson’s account will remain closed.

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for the millions of customers who shop with us,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “In a tiny fraction of cases we are forced to close accounts where we identify extreme account abuse. This decision is only taken after we have reviewed the account carefully and tried to work with the customer over an extended time period to resolve any issues.”

 

Chrome Extension Caught Stealing Bitcoin

The Bitcoin exchange portal Bitstamp warned users over the weekend that a Google Chrome browser extension had been caught stealing Bitcoin and users should avoid the BitscoinWisdom Ads Remover extension that at the time still was available in the Play store. The good news is that Google since banned the app from the store, but you’ll probably still need to remove it from your browser yourself if you were a user of this extension.

The Chrome extension was caught stealing Bitcoin when users made transfers. The extensions malicious code would redirect payments made to their own Bitcoin address instead of the intended target without the user noticing anything until it was too late. What Bitstamp discovered was later confirmed by Bitcoin app developer Devon Weller.

The method used to steal your Bitcoin is essentially very easy. Bitcoin addresses, sometimes referred to as wallets, use a very long string in order to identify themselves. That’s something that is both hard to remember and difficult to enter. After all, it’s about money and you wouldn’t want to send that to the wrong destination. QR codes can solve this with ease as you’ll just have to scan a code presented with your smartphone that contains a Bitcoin app and you’re good to go. This is what the malicious browser extension took advantage of by simply replacing displayed Bitcoin QR codes with their own in the displayed website.

On further investigation, Devon Weller discovered that the code only targeted users of the Bitstamp, BTC-E, and Hashnest Bitcoin services.

This isn’t the first time that the same extension has been caught doing so. Back in July last year, Reddit users reported similar issues with the same extension. We can only hope that it is gone for good now. This also shows that you should be very careful what browser extensions you install, they might do more harm than good.

Elon Musk Bans Venture Capitalist from Buying Tesla Model X over Blog Post

A venture capital investor has been banned from buying a Tesla Model X by company CEO Elon Musk. Stewart Alsop, who has a history with Musk, wrote a post on Medium entitled “Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself,” in which he detailed how he and others had been invited to an event to showcase the Model X electric car, which was slated to begin at 7pm.

Every member of the crowd had paid a $5,000 deposit on a pre-order for the Model X, and was expecting to be given a test drive of the electric vehicle. After being made to wait close to two hours for Musk to show up – sans apology – Stewart was given a token to determine his place in the queue for his test drive: no. 1344. After calculating that he would have to wait until about 2am for his go in Model X, Stewart chose to go home, instead writing his critical blog post.

“You should have apologized right then, but you didn’t,” Stewart wrote. “You have our email addresses, since we’re all the people who put a $5,000 deposit on your new Model X. When I was invited to the launch event, I was excited to hear that I could drive to the factory and see and touch a new Model X, even if I’ll have to wait another 3–4 months to actually get mine.”

Instead of apologising, though, Musk threw his toys out of the pram and banned Stewart from ever purchasing a Tesla Model X. In a follow-up Medium post, entitled “Banned by Tesla!“, Stewart revealed: “Dear @ElonMusk: Thank you for reaching out to me. I heard from our phone conversation that you feel that my post, “Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself”, was a personal attack on you. I also hear that you are not comfortable having me own a Tesla car and have cancelled my order for a Tesla Model X.”

“It’s funny because I wasn’t acting in my old role as a press pundit critiquing companies and their executives. I have done that a lot over the last 30+ years and am used to having CEOs of companies get upset with me,” Stewart continued. “In this case, I was actually just a customer who felt he had been ignored at an event designed for customers and ripped off the odd post about that event.”

It seems that Stewart and Musk aren’t entirely strangers, though; the pair were involved in discussions over PayPal funding back in 1999, according to Techly, a deal Stewart chose to walk away from.

Musk appeared pretty apathetic over the whole affair, tweeting:

Whatsapp Was Temporarily Banned in Brazil

One day after a court order in Sao Paulo banned the popular social messaging app for the entire nation of Brazil, WhatsApp is back in action across the country. In a decision that is likely bringing relief to the 93 million strong user base of WhatsApp in Brazil, Judge Xavier do Souza ruled that it was “not reasonable that millions of users be affected by the inertia of the company”.

In a nation where phone bills and contracts are often prohibitively expensive, many Brazilians make use of messaging apps such as WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family, both locally and abroad. It came as a shock then, when as of midnight on Thursday, local time, a 48-hour ban came into effect on the service across the country’s network providers. The ban came courtesy of a judge in Sao Paulo, who, as a result of WhatsApp’s refusal to hand over data pertaining to a gang member on trial over criminal actions, opted to issue a nation-wide ban on the service for 48 hours as a sanction.

This did not go down well with the online community, both in and outside of Brazil, with many taking to social media to show their outrage at the court’s actions. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg released a statement decrying the blocking of the service and pointing people towards Facebook’s own messaging service.

Tonight, a Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for more than 100 million people who rely on it in her country.

We are working hard to get this block reversed. Until then, Facebook Messenger is still active and you can use it to communicate instead.

This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online.

I am stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.

We hope the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course. If you’re Brazilian, please make your voice heard and help your government reflect the will of its people.

-Mark Zuckerberg

Meanwhile, WhatsApp’s rival services, most notably Telegram were enjoying a large influx of users courtesy of the ban. Telegram alone reportedly gained as many as 1.5 million users from the blocking of its rival, causing their registration servers to choke under the sudden load.

While the ban was eventually overturned by another judge, it is worrying that a country that is commonly seen as an ally of net neutrality has the ability to ban a service nationwide on the ruling of a single judge, with no known consultation. Hopefully, both the country of Brazil and the rest of the world will take note that attempting to ban their citizens from such services unreasonably will not go down without a fight.

15,000 Hoverboards Confiscated After Safety Scares

Hoverboards, the new cool thing to have, have already been deemed illegal by the British government. But in the newest step on what some would consider the government’s war on fun, after testing many of the hoverboards being imported into the UK, have deemed the popular vehicles to be unsafe and potential hazards to their owners. As a consequence, 15,000 (or 88% of) hoverboards , most of which are manufactured in China, have been seized at UK ports by inspectors.

Since October, the importing of hoverboards has been under strict scrutiny by UK inspectors, following the National Trading Standards reported that: “Many of the items detained and sent for testing have been found to have noncompliant plugs without fuses, which increases the risk of the device overheating, exploding or catching fire.” Scary stuff for an item many would consider a fun gift for their children.

“Our teams at sea ports, postal hubs, and airports have seen a significant spike in the number of unsafe ‘hoverboards’ arriving at national entry points in recent weeks and are working around-the-clock to prevent dangerous items from entering the supply chain,” said Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards, in a statement. “Protecting consumers from harm is our top priority and our Safety at Ports and Borders teams are preventing thousands of these unsafe items from being released onto the market every day.” – Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards

And while hoverboards have skyrocketed in popularity thanks to celebrities being seen riding the device and it even being included in one of Justin Bieber’s music videos. Hoverboards have also gained somewhat of a rap sheet recently, with one being cited as the cause for a house fire in Louisiana, one exploding under its rider’s feet in Alabama and the New York Police Department declaring them illegal, under threat of a $200 fine.

The fact is, with no main company producing hoverboards and stiff competition between Chinese manufacturers trying to secure western market share, the ideas of quality control and safety are ignored, as even if there are problems, they are unlikely to reflect back to the manufacturer.

If you’re someone hoping for a hoverboard this Christmas, or looking to get one for a family member or friend, does the safety risk and legality of hoverboards put you off, or are you glad that now at least new hoverboards entering the UK are subject to safety standards?

UK Privacy and Apps Under Threat

Let me just jump on my soapbox for a minute with regards to this subject, according to reports, the newly elected Conservative Government wants to again reintroduce the Snoopers Charter, sorry, I mean the new fangled “Investigatory Powers Bill” which if enacted would allow the government and security services for example M15 access to everyone’s communications.

To add insult to injury the plans would also make end to end encrypted apps for example Snapchat and WhatsApp technically illegal, unless a backdoor is installed or communications are handed over. All in the name of terrorism and extremists, now I am not being flippant and I am aware that groups such as IS exist, but I do not believe everyone’s communications should be spied upon.

This bill if passed would also require all ISP (Internet Service Providers) to retain all information on every citizens browsing habits, sites which are looked at and information which is sent, with the aim of making this information available to the security services.

So what do the tech experts believe? They have stated that these laws are draconian, anti free speech and would put the whole Internet at risk from hackers. Who would be able to crack any backdoor laid before them by the powers that be. Opposition includes Tim Cook who is the boss of Apple who said citizens should be entitled to a private life; academics from MIT and the UK have both dismissed these proposals as a disaster.

So what can we do about it? The only thing as citizens we can do, make our voices heard, I believe there should be a limit to what governments can collect, innocent people should not be spied upon in their own homes, I do think we need to track for example suspected terrorists movements, but I think in order to be under surveillance, you need evidence and a court of law to approve this, not simply cart blanch can we have your data and monitor everyone.

The mantra for governments is quite clear, “let us spy on you or you can only use certain communication tools approved by the state”. I think it would be impossible to ravage the internet of encryption, but I do think this bill is designed and will be able to collect more information on everyone.

I have started a petition on this over at change.org if you are interested in checking It out, link is below, will it work?  Hell I will be damned if I am going to lie down quietly and let the state turn into a whole new animal which polices everyone, which notion is brought to you by the good folks in China, North Korea and Russia among many.

Petition at Change.org

Thanks to BBC News, Huffington post  (who plan to encrypt their website further) and Facebook trends

Image Courtesy of automation

 

 

No Packing Heat With Your Cab To Go

Since its inception in early 2009, Uber prides itself on being at the forefront of both convenience and also cutting edge technology which has made the relatively mundane task of requesting a cab as simple as ordering a Mocha Choca Latte (I checked and as long as I don’t put “Ya Ya” at the end, this does not infringe a Lady Marmalade lyric) Anyway, by tapping an app to request a cab, Uber has expanded into 57 countries and has generated over 8 million users and counting.

But as a recent policy change shows, Uber would like its cab drivers and also customers to be more approachable and has subsequently placed a “No weapons policy” within the Legal section of its terms and conditions. This certainly differs from Uber’s previous stance which stated in April 2015 that it was fine to carry a firearm as long as the country or state law permits it.

So why has Uber had a sudden change of heart? Well as is often the case with an unexpected policy change, it’s more reactionary and is in response to an Uber driver who shot a man who was firing a pistol into a gathering of people in Chicago.

From a spectators point of view it’s interesting to see two very different worlds collide, one which is up to date tech and the other fairly primitive. Uber would have made this decision to avoid any potential incidents like the one in Chicago, but the effectiveness of this policy change may be questionable considering Uber cannot influence or monitor both drivers and customer’s actions.

Thank You Uber for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of misiongeek and BizPac

Cheater Faces In-Game Death Penalty

Guild Wars 2 is a popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) which is sold over 3 Million copies worldwide. It’s also one of the places where usage of exploits is not tolerated. DarkSide, in-game character faced sweet justice after he was caught playing by unfair means like teleporting, survive coordinated attacks by other players and dominate player-versus-player combat. After other players complained and submitted proof videos, Security lead Chris Cleary executed the character and deleted all the avatars linked to the account. All the other accounts owned by the same player are were shut down.

“We do not need to see it in-game, sometimes good video evidence is enough for me to track down who it was. In this case, the video was enough for me to find out who it was and take action.” said Mr Cleary “Oh yah, he’s also banned” 

YouTuber Shazbawt has posted a video named ‘RIP DarkSide’ showing the last moments of the character. He is stripped in public then waves and kills himself by jumping off a high bridge.

If cheaters are served justice in similar way that comes with Humiliation, some day there won’t be anymore. This move was appreciated by fans as “That’s pretty gangster” on the forums and it is actually pretty cool though. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

Thanks BBC for providing us with this information.

Turkey Seeks to Ban Minecraft

After an investigation held by the Turkish Social Policies Ministry, it has now been confirmed that the country is seeking to ban the wildly popular sandbox phenomenon, Minecraft, on the grounds that the game is “too violent”. The news was broken by Turkish news outlets Hürriyet Daily News and LeaderGamer.

The Ministry’s report on Minecraft and its supposed violent content has been sent to the country’s legal affairs department, along with instruction to ban the game, but the decision rests in the hands of the Turkish courts.

The report reads (via Hürriyet Daily), “Although the game can be seen as encouraging creativity in children by letting them build houses, farmlands and bridges, mobs [hostile creatures] must be killed in order to protect these structures. In short, the game is based on violence.” Bizarrely, the report also claims that the Minecraft’s content would cause children “social isolation” and that the online function would result in internet bullying, which begs the question, why not just ban the internet, then?

In common with the rest of the world, Minecraft is huge in Turkey. One of the best-selling children’s books in Turkey last year was a Minecraft-related title.

Source: Kotaku

Ad for ‘Thinnest Smartphone’ Banned in UK for Sexualising Women

An ad for “the world’s thinnest smartphone” has been banned in the UK. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), said that the ad was “likely to cause serious offence” due to its “sexually suggestive” nature.

The ad in particular, for the Kazam Tornado 348, was banned by the ASA after they said that “much of the ad focused entirely on the actor in her underwear, including scenes that featured several close-up shots that lingered over her breasts, buttocks and lips.” The commercial seemingly focused on the woman a little too much, with not many references to the actual product itself. The ASA added that “the focus on the woman bore no relevance to the advertised product.”

The manufactuer of the phone, Kazam, said that the ad was only making reference to someone getting ready to go out and struggling to find their phone because it is too thin.

What do you think? Watch the ad below.

Source: The Verge

Hotline Miami 2 Creator Tells Australians to Pirate the Game

Jonatan Söderströmm, co-creator of video game Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, has told Australians that, if they want to play the game, they should “just pirate it”.

Hotline Miami is the latest victim of Australia’s draconian video game certification system, in a list that boasts such luminaries as Grand Theft Auto V and Syndicate. South Park: The Stick of Truth was also banned certain scenes were removed.

Söderströmm’s advice comes from an e-mail, screencapped by a reddit user. Ben Kuchera of gaming website Polygon confirmed the e-mail’s authenticity. In response to a potential customer, dismayed at Hotline Miami 2 being refused classification in Australia, Söderströmm wrote:

“If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release.

No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!

Peace”

Source: Kotaku

Reddit’s Technology Community Takes A Beating

Reddit is a huge community made up of thousands upon thousands of subreddits, and given that the website often claims the (self-given) title of being “the front page of the internet”, drawing around 110 million unique visits last month alone. So when something rocks that community, it can make a pretty big wave for its users and those who rely on those communities as a source of traffic and / or as a source of entertainment.

Out of the default subreddits there are but a few dozen default subreddits, this honour is bestowed on the best and most popular sections of the site, meaning that you’re automatically subscribed when you open a new account, or that the content from that sub is shown in the front page news feed for users who are not logged in, casual visitors if you will. However, due to recent actions of the moderators, Reddit.com have stepped in and removed /r/technology from the list of default subreddits. A similar action was taken against /r/politics a while back and visitor figures plummeted and any sites linked there also saw a big reduction in traffic, so this is a pretty big deal given that /r/technology is one of the most popular subs around.

Some of the moderators of the sub were using software to filter our keywords and remove stories, a common thing on many websites and especially on Reddit, but it’s the lack of transparency on the matter that raised some eyebrows. The AutoModerator bot was culling any content that contained the words anti-piracy, SOPA, NSA, Snowden, Bitcoin, CEO and more, meaning huge amounts of content were being filtered away, despite the obvious technology related nature of the topics.

“The mods directly responsible for this system are no longer part of the team and the new team is committed to maintaining a transparent style of moderation.” said Pharnaces_II, one of the subs community moderators.

“If you (/r/technology) can manage to look past your petty squabbles, add new moderators (there needs to be a significant increase in active mods), and function as a team we might consider adding you back.” added Reddit in relation to the banning.

The tool has been tweaked, the configuration page has been made publicly viewable and most of the moderators have been given the boot, with the ones remaining posting “We messed up, and we are sorry”. Unfortunately the whole situation seems too little too late and the community has been dealt a massive blow by the owners of Reddit. It’s going to take a lot of effort to repair.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

German Judge States Nokia Should Be Granted Injunction Against All HTC Devices

A German judge has ruled that Nokia should be granted an injunction against all HTC handsets running Android. Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann of the Munich I Regional Court found the devices to be in violation of a broad patent related to a method for transferring resource information across Bluetooth or NFC according to a report from FOSS Patents.

HTC is in between a rock and a hard place in Germany following the ruling. In the event the company can’t come up with a chance to appeal, Nokia could then enforce the injunction which would put a stop to all sales of HTC devices running Android.

And to make matters worse, this isn’t a temporary injunction like we’ve seen so many times before. If Nokia is eventually successful, they would be able to keep the offending devices off store shelves indefinitely.

A victory here could have far-reaching ramifications for other handset makers as well. That’s because the broad patent essentially describes a method used by handset makers to transfer data between devices. True, there’s still Wi-Fi as an option but near-field communication and Bluetooth are both commonly used among Android devices.

This is the second favorable ruling for Nokia against HTC this month. Previously, Nokia won a case that would have required HTC to remove devices from store shelves but HTC made a change that circumvented the infringement. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not HTC can make similar changes this time around to once again thwart Nokia’s injunction.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Battlefield 4 Banned In China

Electronic Art’s favourite multiplayer shooter game, Battlefield 4, has been banned in China starting this week due to the supposed discrediting of China’s national image in the futuristic plot line. The game is now deemed as a threat to national security in China.

It is said that the Chinese Ministry wants the game removed from physical shelves as quickly as possible, as well as all local online vendors. The Chinese ministry also wants the game uninstalled from consoles and PCs, as the game is now deemed illegal.

“Battlefield 4 is an illegal game, with content that endangers national security, and is all about a cultural invasion. Battlefield 4 relevant available downloads, patches, news, and other requirements [shall be] deleted within 24 hours.” the Chinese ministry stated.

The banning is based on the Battlefield 4: China Rising expansion pack that contains four maps on the Chinese mainland, new vehicles, new high-tech equipment, and ten new assignments. The plot consists of a fictional war in China stirred up by Admiral Chang who is out to topple the current government. Eventually, China and the U.S. team up to fight a common enemy.

News of the banning follows a report made by Chinese state-run newspaper China Military that said Battlefield 4 “smears China’s image” and is a form of “cultural invasion.” The country’s biggest social media website, Weibo.com, is already censoring out “ZhanDi4,” the Chinese translation for Battlefield 4. ZDNet reports that online users are still passing Battlefield 4 around via peer-to-peer download links.

The law office of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP submitted a class action lawsuit against Electronic Arts in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit is on behalf of Electronic Arts common shareholders, and claims that Electronic Arts allegedly issued “materially false” and “misleading” statements highlighting the purported strength of the company’s rollout of Battlefield 4.

Thank you Tom’s Hardware for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of

Dead Rising 3 Xbox One Release Banned In Germany

Dead Rising 3 for Xbox One will not be released in Germany, at least not at launch. A Microsoft representative has announced GameSpot today, confirming a report from Gameswelt that said the game would not come to market in that region.

“Dead Rising 3 will not be released in Germany as part of the Xbox One launch lineup on November the 22nd having been unable to attain an age-rating upon review by BPjM (Bundeprüfstelle für jugendgefährende Medien), the country’s entertainment software self-regulation body,” a Microsoft representative said.

Nobody knows exactly what specific content in Dead Rising 3 has kept the game from getting the approval in Germany or that Microsoft plans to submit an altered version of the game. The fact is that the original Dead Rising and its sequel, Dead Rising 2 are also not available in Germany, so the “tradition” still continues.

“We are unable to comment on the ratings process or the subjective content standards, but we can say the rating was determined following a detailed review of the game,” stated Microsoft. “While Microsoft is disappointed with this decision, we respect the views of the review panels and have withdrawn Dead Rising 3 from Germany’s Xbox One launch line-up. Beyond that, we have no further comment.”

Taken into account that Xbox One titles are region free, gamers in Germany can still play the game by importing it from another market.

Thank you GameSpot for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of GameSpot.

Kid Attacks Mother For Unplugging His PS3, Judge Bans Him From Gaming

Racine County in Wisconsin has just had a very unique court ruling. The local judge has banned 17 year old Jeffrey Ehlers from playing video games after he launched an attack on his mother.

Jeffrey is said to have been raging and swearing at the game he was playing (unknown which game), his mother indicated that he should stop and when he failed to listen she unplugged the console. At this point Jeffrey attacked him mother for unplugging his console.

Not only has the judge banned him from playing video games, but he was also tried as an adult and charged with disorderly conduct. If Ehlers is convicted then he could face up to 90 days in prison for his actions.

Do you think this is fair? Personally I think it’s pretty fair, but we’d love to hear what you think of this unique court ruling.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6Fr1ZjCTzqU[/youtube]

Thank you PCGMedia for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of PCGMedia.

Using Hands-on GPS While Driving In Californa Is Now Illegal


The lawmakers in the state of California have passed a new law which made it illegal for one to check their hands on GPS systems while driving in the hopes it will prevent most of the chances of accidents. This way drivers will not be distracted by driving, similar to how talking and texting while driving is banned.

However, there are certain issues while addressing this concern, while texting, talking and using hands-on GPS is deemed illegal, there are certain activities which could cause a distraction while driving such as changing the radio station, talking to passengers, eating, etc. is still considered legal. This way it would not be practical to make a single law to ban each activity while drives, but again a blanket law simply cannot be put up.

Studies have found that many distracted drivers often find a different way to distract themselves while driving to pass the time.

There have been cases where drivers argued that using the hands-on GPS should be allowed. But the court did not agree to him despite agreeing to certain oddities and therefore told that its the job of the lawmakers to decide what to so about it.

The law doesn’t completely stop one to use the mapping system, but it should be setup in a way that it can be used hands free. Technically it makes you touching your mobile devices to access the navigation system as illegal. That being said, having a hands-free mapping software can help to dramatically reduce to distract a driver.

There are certain loop holes, such as many new cars with built-in touch only GPS systems that are legal to be used in California. But eventually, one wouldn’t be surprised if the manufacturers will integrate voice-controlled devices in their GPS units. It should be noted that a voice-controlled devices would be considered as a distraction.

Via: TechSpot