Older blog entries for hacker (starting at number 138)

3 Mar 2002 (updated 1 Jun 2002 at 20:28 UTC) »

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION OF THIS DIARY ENTRY WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE AUTHOR IS A COPYRIGHT VIOLATION.

The Ebay Laptop Auction Fraud Continues

    All I wanted was a laptop so I could work on the road.

  • 1/18/2002
    I won a bid on an IBM Thinkpad T23 laptop on Ebay, sold by a one "Brian Silverman", aka "electro_depot", and overnighted the payment to him in certified funds (as required by his terms) within 5 days of auction close.

  • 1/25/2002
    The payment was received on 1/25/2002 and signed by one "Jena/Tina A. Waterman" and immediately deposited. Based on the terms of the auction, this individual had 2-4 weeks to ship the laptop from this date.

  • 1/31/2002 09:50:31 -0800 (PST)
    Received an email from Brian acknowledging the receipt of the payment.

    1/31/2002 10:19:13 -0800 (PST)
    Requested a tracking number for the shipment.

  • 2/18/2002 16:41:26 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian asking for the ebay tracking number. This number was clearly written on the cashier's check, and on an included note that was shipped with the check, which he recieved and signed for on 1/25/2002.

    2/18/2002 17:11:28 -0800 (PST)
    Responded with tracking number within 30 minutes.

  • 2/19/2002 16:47:17 -0800 (PST)
    Received an email from Brian stating that my Sony Vaio 300 series (PCG-FX370 or PCG-FX390) laptop was no longer available, and asked that I select another model.

    2/19/2002 17:11:28 -0800 (PST)Responded to this email, clarifying that my auction was for an IBM Thinkpad T23 laptop, model 26479LU, not a Sony VAIO.

    2/19/2002 17:53:04 -0800 (PST)Received an email acknowledging the error, and stating that the item would ship "shortly".

  • 2/20/2002 04:57:56 -0800 (PST)
    Responded to last email from Brian, stating that it was now a month after the date of the auction close and over three weeks since he received and deposited my payment into his account. "Where is my laptop?!"

    2/20/2002 06:30:59 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that they're "running the full shipping time" on this item, and that I should be glad to wait the extra time to save the money on

    the hardware.

  • 2/27/2002 12:18:48 -0800 (PST)
    Sent email to Brian clarifying his violation of his own auction

    terms. It is now 40 days past the close of auction. After researching his feedback profile on ebay it became clear that this person has a real problem with shipping dates and times.

    2/27/2002 12:18:48 -0800 (PST)
    Made it very clear that if he could not ship the laptop to meet my deadline of March 4th (I had a speaking engagement in Berkeley, CA), to overnight me a full refund, so I could use the cash to purchase another laptop in time for my speaking engagement.

  • 3/1/2002 09:15:25 -0800 (PST)
    Sent email to Brian with my telephone number requesting that he contact me directly to work out issues related to shipping and delays.

    3/1/2002 18:20:34 -0800 (PST)
    Receive an email from Brian asking for my shipping name and address. He stated that he sent me an email "several days ago" asking for this information.

    3/1/2002 18:58:14 -0800 (PST)
    Requested copies of the original emails sent "several days ago", to try to track down what may have caused the disconnect. Never received copies of his emails. I receive over 400 emails a day, and never lose a single one. Brian never emailed me, this was a delay tactic.

    Demanded refund or laptop by Monday 3/4/2002, or I would initiate an investigation. Also requested a full receipt for the item, if it shipped. Brian's feedback profile led me to believe that he does not provide receipts, and hence no way to secure the manufacturer warantee.

    3/1/2002 19:27:36 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that the "warehouse" was closed on the weekend, and the best way to proceed was to refund my payment by wire transfer.

    3/1/2002 19:30:30 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that a "printout of the ebay auction webpage" is a valid receipt. He also states that he is not late in delivering the laptop (he's 42 days past the close of the auction at this point). He also states that he does $1,000,000 annually in sales, and asks me not to start quoting him federal infractions and IRS tax laws regarding his questionable business practices.

    3/1/2002 19:52:09 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that he could come in on Saturday (3/2/2002) to check on his email, presumably in anticipation of my rapid response.

  • 3/2/2002 09:07:03 -0800 (PST)
    Sent email to Brian: "Do you have the laptop or not? You've had 42 days to obtain the merchandise. Do you have it or not?!"

    3/2/2002 14:29:51 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that these items ship "warehouse-direct" and that they usually have no problems shipping on time (another lie, since his feedback profile has 60% or more of his buyers complaining about incorrect or "epic" shipping delays). He states that he thinks the T23 is in stock, and could ship in 1-2 days. He also states that he can upgrade it to overnight shipping "..if that helps".

    3/2/2002 14:39:34 -0800 (PST)
    Responded to Brian stating that even if he shipped the laptop on Monday, it wouldn't get to me in time for my departure to Berkeley and my speaking engagement. The delays and the transaction in general have caused me to miss two speaking engagements already, and will now cause me to miss a third.

    I request that he upgrade it to overnight shipping, and if possible, upgrade the RAM in the laptop as a complimentary compensation for my troubles.

  • 3/3/2002 12:45:23 -0800 (PST)
    Received email from Brian stating that they cannot help me, and that he will be sending me back my money.

At this point, the scam becomes abundantly clear. He's had my $2350.00/USD in his bank account for 37 days, gaining him interest on my money. In this time, I have seen Brian put identical laptops up onto ebay for sale, and seen other bidders bid, win, and be successfully shipped their laptops, all in less time than I've had, and I still have no laptop, and no money back from Brian.

Based on his current auctions, and this scam he's got running, he's making literally thousands of dollars a month in interest alone on these "sales". I'll bet he double and triple sells the same laptops to different bidders, gains the interest from all of them sending him their money, then cancels out on all but one bidder, refunding their payment, minus the interest he's gained on their money in his account. Some bidders have even waited up to 8 weeks to receive their purchases, all the while, Brian states he's still within his auction terms of 2-4 weeks. Where? On Jupiter?

If I do not receive the exact funds in return on Monday, I will be calling the FBI and the IRS on Brian Silverman. Perhaps they'd be interested in his "$1,000,000 in sales annually". If he's doing that much business, why is it so hard to ship a single laptop 100 miles away? Why is it so hard to provide a valid receipt? Why is it so hard to keep your word without excuses and lies? Well, I'll let the FBI and IRS figure it all out on Monday.

Meanwhile, I'm out one laptop and $2350.00/USD.

I'm pissed. Why does so much "dark cloud" always come my way. I'm a vortex for bad luck.

"Junkyard" LAN
    Crippling and hobbling through spare parts while the movers make more excuses about missing boxes, I managed to get a NetBSD firewall set up, in preparation for the relocation of about 15 or so domains from Rasmus' DSL connection to my LAN here (cable modem currently, while I figure out T1/T3 pricing plans).

    I still don't quite have all the parts needed to do this right, so I'm hijacking an IP from my provider over dhcp right now until I can get my router, switch and power brick back from the movers.

eBay Fraud redux

    The next step, once this fraudulent ebay laptop purchase is settled, is to get a laptop and get wireless back up, then I can start "selling" 802.11b to my neighbors, which is going to be MUCH cheaper than the broadband rape artists around here ($299.00/mo. for 1.5 SDSL, $249.00/mo. for 512/512 cable). If I sell off 128k slots to the neighbors at $50.00/month, I'm doing good, and they're still getting it at 1/2 price.

    I'm trying to sell my DSL router on eBay now too, what a pain, tons of little "micro-charges" they tack on when you create your entry.

Furniture, or Doors

    I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do about a desk. The movers completely trashed it, so I went out and bought a solid-core birch door, 36x80. I'll drop some legs under it, and add some shelves around the sides and back, and still come in sturdier and more indestructable than the original desk. Hrm, drawers..

Then I can get back to billing customers, since that was never taken care of when I delegated it to someone else (isn't that always the case, nothing gets done right unless you end up doing it yourself).

Then I can get started working on the design for the Plucker t-shirts. Anyone want one?

Then there's the job search.. I suppose I should get started soon, but I am so busy travelling this month, and getting things back on track, trying to sweep up the pieces of all my damaged belongings from all over the country, shore up overdue bills, and stay afloat. It's not quite time to start selling the bike or snowboard yet.

...yet

I AM FURIOUS!!
    I decided to clean up the "office" today and connect my LAN back together. It was successfully boxed up in California, and relocated to my new home in Westerly, RI by the movers. I had separately bagged, tagged, and labeled every single cable, power adapter, and dongle/adapter to make sure I knew where it all went when I re-assembled it.

    THE MOVERS LOST ALL OF THEM!!!

I am incredibly angry. Not only did they destroy over $4,000.00/USD of my posessions, causing my "office" to become a pile of cardboard boxes, but they're ignoring my requests for information, which have now become demands for answers.

Now I have no LAN, no network, and a pile of machines gathering dust in the corner with data I need to access on them.

24 Feb 2002 (updated 24 Feb 2002 at 16:12 UTC) »

Executioner Paperback Series Missing Issues Wanted

    I have been unboxing my belongings here, and one of the boxes has my collection of Executioner paperback books in it. I used to read these when I was in my teens. I have quite a few in the series, except the following missing issues.

    If anyone has these missing issues and is willing to part with them, please contact me, and I will gladly pay for the shipping/etc. to obtain them.


      #7: Assault on Soho
      #10: Carribian Kill
      #15: Panic in Philly
      #17: Jersey Guns
      #20: New Orleans Knockout
      #22: Hawaiian Hellground
      #23: St. Louis Showdown
      #31: Arizona Ambush
      #41: The Violent Streets
      #43: Return to Vietnam
      #47: Renegade Agent
      #49: Doomsday Disciples
      #52: Tuscany Terror
      #53: The Invisible Assasins
      #55: Paradine's Gauntlet
      #56: Island Deathtrap
      #58: Ambush on Blood River

      #59 through #74
      #76 through "N"

    I also have several issues of Phoenix Force, The Destroyer, The Butcher, S.O.B's, and Able Team. If anyone has these books lying around collecting dust in their basement, let me know. I want to read them again from start to finish.

Busy weekend, cleaning up around here, building a new desk. Lots of construction and deconstruction going on.

21 Feb 2002 (updated 21 Feb 2002 at 18:12 UTC) »
Prodigy Moving & Storage

    Still fighting the damages here. Every box is a new adventure of missing, broken, and otherwise damaged stuff.

    Filed an incident with the Better Business Bureau. Now I have to file dozens of claim forms. So far, the major items destroyed were:

    1. my very large computer desk (metal hardware ripped right out of the wood in dozens of places, $2,000.00)
    2. a floor lamp (sections disassembled, and then cross-threaded and forced tight with tools upon re-assembly, base broken off from bottom section, $100.00)
    3. my futon (disassembled, hardware removed and then misplaced, $300.00)
    4. my plastic under-office-chair floor mat (shattered, $52.00)
    5. computer chair (vinyl shattered)
    6. blender (crushed, $149.00)
    7. microwave (rotisserie shattered, $75.00)
    8. two vcr's (front smashed in, tops crushed in, $800.00)
    9. printer (top completely shattered, smashed in, $200.00)
    10. 40gb laptop drive (hit dead-center on top with what appears to be a hammer, dented deep, $699.00, lost data, priceless)

    ...and many other things. I also have 4 missing boxes, including my Playstation, and some sculptures that are very important to me. This does not make me happy.

pilot-unix and pilot-link Mailing Lists

    I finally (publically) set up the four mailing lists I wanted to get going.
Cox Cable
    I found out that my shiny new "High-speed" cable internet connection is choked at 256/256. I'm already paying $109.00/month for this "Business" account, so I can have one static address, but I get 1/6th the bandwidth of the people paying $29.95/month. Cox's excuse was that I get a higher "..service and priority" rating and "..no shared bandwidth, you get 256/256, all the time..".

    I don't need service, Cox doesn't even support my platform of choice anyway. To get 1.5/256 and remain on one static address, it would cost me $249.00/month. That's practically a car payment! This is cable access, and this is rape.

    Why is broadband in New England so expensive?!

The eBay Scam
    The level of intelligence of scam artists these days never ceases to amaze me.

    I "ordered" (won) an IBM T23 laptop on eBay on January 18th, 2002. The seller insisted that payment be received within 7 days from the close of the auction. The payment was overnighted to the seller as promised. It has now been over 4 weeks since the close of the auction, and 3 weeks since he received payment.

    I received an email a few days ago stating that they "lost" my auction number (which was clearly written on all my emails to him, as well as the payment check), then he responds with an email telling me that my Sony Vaio was discontinued, and I would have to "re-order" a new model. I distinctly selected an IBM T23 laptop, not a Sony Vaio. My eBay auction ID number still brings up the original record on the eBay site for that T23.

    I emailed him back, and expressed my anger, since I had already missed out on two important speaking engagements without a computer. He said that they always take payment to full terms, before shipping. I can only assume this means they hoard the payments in their account for a full month, so they can get the maximum amount of interest on my money in their bank account, before shipping the product. This is very sneaky.

Woodworking

    Now that my desk and shelving units were destroyed in the move, I am forced to figure out a new way to build a desk to hold all of my books, computers, and serve as a workbench. I went out and bought a solid-core door (not drilled), and am planning on making that the desktop. I will build some bookshelves to mate to the ends as "feet", and then add more shelving along the back of it. Cheaper and much harder to destroy than my previous desk.

    Anyone know where I can get a set of good (free) woodworking plans for things like this? I've build shelving before, rabbet groove, screwed from the outside, fibreboard paneling along the back, etc. I'm wondering if there's a better way to make them more modular.

Almost Everything I Own Was Destroyed

    Safely made it to the East coast, my belongings didn't.

    60% of my belongings shipped ahead with movers were completely damaged, smashed, and crushed. Huge loss. Computer desk completely trashed. Metal hardware was torn right out of the wood itself in dozens of places. Dishes, cups, appliances.. destroyed.

    The only thing not destroyed were my boxes of books. I can only assume that was because the movers couldn't read. Fragile boxes clearly marked as such, with 'This Side UP!' on them were at the bottom of piles of boxes, upside-down, crushed.

    I'm baffled at the amount of damage. When I drove myself from CT to CA in a U-Haul, I didn't even use moving blankets or pack things in foam and newspaper. Not a single item was broken. This time, I made sure to pack everthing very carefully in foam, paper, and with moving blankets. Everything that could have been broken, was.

    Erika thinks this was intentional. This clearly looks maliscious. There's no way they could "accidentally" break every piece of furniture, appliance, dish, cup, and obliterate that 512lb computer desk.

    I'm starting at the beginning again.

    Very angry, very upset.

More on this later, photo-documentary of damages to follow.

5 Feb 2002 (updated 6 Feb 2002 at 06:42 UTC) »
Bluefish Responds
    We have been "warned" by Bluefish not to contact their customers and ask for the sources for their version of an application based on our Plucker source code, covered under the GPL. The response from them was to advise us to:
    "...get legal advice from a US attorney before making any more statements to any of our customers or potential customers..."

    That sounds like fear to me.

    I will be emailing Eben at the FSF in the morning with a full rundown of everything said and done to date, at Tridge's suggestion.

    They have had the sources requested from them by myself on the telephone, and in several emails from community members (incuding myself), and they have refused to provide those sources, both verbally, and in written requests. They also contend that since their use of Plucker is part of a larger "education vertical", and that their customers have nothing to do with the licensing of the "Bluefish solution". I contend that they do have everything to do with it, based on Section 6 of the GPL, which states:

    6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to this License.
    By not providing the sources to their customers and partners, they are imposing more restrictions, and further, by not alerting their customers as to the licensing involved with the "Bluefish solution" (which uses Plucker, a fully GPL'd application), they are hiding the fact that it is using GPL'd code, which they have not followed the license to according to the terms of that license, including re-distribution.
"The Big Move(tm) 2"
    Well, it seems that 95% of my stuff was handled by the movers, the remaining 10 boxes had to be shipped via UPS. Very Expensive.

    I'm crashing at Rasmus' house during the few days of transition before I fly out to handle the relocation of my truck.

    23 months ago, I made this move... in reverse, except I drove West. It's too grueling to return the same way, so I opted for this route. Too much lingers in both places.

Bluefish GPL Violation

    The move against Bluefish and their GPL violation seems to be gaining steam. Many people have replied to me about my original post. The email goes out later today. Mercury Guide will not be allowed to distribute their modified version of Plucker at the Olympics, nor distribute their IrDA kiosks around Salt Lake City to beam the application to Palm users unless they comply with the proper licensing.

    I urge those who are interested in the cause to email James, the CEO, and ask for the source code to their application, which is directly referenced to be based on GPL code (Plucker). Give him a call, email him, fax them, do not let this drop. Phone their San Francisco office (415-775-3697), or give them a Fax with your comments (be professional, 509-561-7934)

    If you call or email, PLEASE take care to be professional, courteous, non-threatening, and quote the relevant parts of the the licensing you reference. We do not want to come across as miscreants or as spamming their mailbox.

    Maybe after the letters Mike and I send today, they will comply. Then again, maybe not, there's a lot of their own money riding on the success of this application, I think. This is a serious matter.

    Feel free to cross-post this diary entry to your favorite discussion forums and lists.

Things with Wings

  • Palmsource (2/5-2/8, San Jose, contingent on a pending T23 in NYC)
  • Flying East (within the week if all goes well, to my new home)
  • Flying West (3/4-3/5, speaking about PDAs and Linux
  • Flying East, then South (3/21-4/1, way south, where the sun touches the water) in Berkeley)
  • Flying East (to once again, begin anew)
All within the next 50 days.

The Other Stuff

    Sleep is still erratic, tinnitus still as loud, back still as tight. Add them all to the pile of hereditary and accident related trauma. There's an impending pilot-link release waiting in the wings too. Need to get situated, get connected, and hunker down and code. CODE!
The Microsoft Delusion

    BBC employees are to be banned from connecting their PDAs to the BBC's computers unless they run on the Microsoft Windows PocketPC 2002 platform.

    An internal email from the company's technology division stated all PDA platforms other than PocketPC are insecure - which will prevent anybody operating a Palm or Psion handheld device from using their PDA at work.

    The email said reasons of security and unusually, the "exposure to users of health and safety risks" left the company with no other choice but the PocketPC platform.

    A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "The BBC has to have some kind of say if people are going to be downloading things from our computers and taking them home."

    "We believe PocketPC includes all functionality and is one the most secure platforms available."

    [my emphasis]

    Employees have until summer 2003 to change their PDAs or refrain from porting them to BBC computers.

I hope BBC was paid well by Microsoft to make that public announcement. I haven't seen any major flaws or breaches where a Palm or Psion handheld PDA was used in some insecure fashion to exploit, steal, or "hack" into any corporate networks... at least none which cannot also be done with a PocketPC.

Microsoft, OTOH, has had at least 3 security advisories per month for the past 4 years, sometimes more.

Stuff

  • Movers arrive tomorrow. Still have to disassemble this desk! More packing remains.
  • Liquid polyurethane foam isn't the best way to pack monitors. Time for Plan B.
  • Truck must be relocated soon also, or donated.
  • pilot-link will have to be released when I'm on the "other side".
  • Am I attending Palmsource in two weeks?
  • Cox Cable better live up to their bandwidth promises.
  • Server relocation must happen promptly.

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