T-Mobile Deploys Link Condoms and Dumbs Down with Phone Only Customer Support

t-mobile logo tmobile

T-mobile is now using some type of ridiculous “spam guard” service for text messages that we are receiving on our phone.

Links are now about three times longer than a normal URL.

They include these ugly, unreadable codes that raise all types of privacy and security issues.

All the while, T-Mobile remains oblivious. Perhaps even misguided in thinking that these so called “link condoms” are going to be well received as the solution to the spam problem on the T-Mobile network.

Well, T-Mobile: Link condoms are impactful and are certainly not celebrated by users in our company! Not only that, but we do not appreciate the way in which you rolled this out.

In total silence with no notice or lead time of the change…

t-mobile text message spam guard linkprotect cudasvc

This started with our T-mobile business lines about two or three days ago. And continues to the present time.

At first, we thought our phones were hacked.

But all phones at the same time? Unlikely.

Then we thought T-Mobile was hacked again. Not too far fetched given T-Mobile’s recent troubles.

Anyway, T-Mobile started implementing this spam guard service without notifying us of a change to our account.

We spent hours trying to track down the issue.

The linkprotect.cudasvc.com domain name is registered to Barracuda Networks and having URL links rewritten like this means a privacy issue caused by T-Mobile’s short-sighted decision.

Domain Name: cudasvc.com
Registry Domain ID: 1597775951_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.corporatedomains.com
Registrar URL: www.cscprotectsbrands.com
Updated Date: 2017-05-13T05:04:22Z
Creation Date: 2010-05-17T22:53:55Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2018-05-17T22:53:55Z
Registrar: CSC CORPORATE DOMAINS, INC.
Registrar IANA ID: 299
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: domainabuse@cscglobal.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.8887802723
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited http://www.icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
Registry Registrant ID:
Registrant Name: Barracuda Hostmaster
Registrant Organization: Barracuda Networks Inc.
Registrant Street: 3175 Winchester Blvd
Registrant City: Campbell
Registrant State/Province: CA
Registrant Postal Code: 95008
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.4083425405
Registrant Phone Ext:
Registrant Fax: +1.4083421061
Registrant Fax Ext:
Registrant Email: hostmaster@barracuda.com
Registry Admin ID:
Admin Name: Barracuda Hostmaster
Admin Organization: Barracuda Networks Inc.
Admin Street: 3175 Winchester Blvd
Admin City: Campbell
Admin State/Province: CA
Admin Postal Code: 95008
Admin Country: US
Admin Phone: +1.4083425405
Admin Phone Ext:
Admin Fax: +1.4083421061
Admin Fax Ext:
Admin Email: hostmaster@barracuda.com
Registry Tech ID:
Tech Name: Barracuda Hostmaster
Tech Organization: Barracuda Networks Inc.
Tech Street: 3175 Winchester Blvd
Tech City: Campbell
Tech State/Province: CA
Tech Postal Code: 95008
Tech Country: US
Tech Phone: +1.4083425405
Tech Phone Ext:
Tech Fax: +1.4083421061
Tech Fax Ext:
Tech Email: hostmaster@barracuda.com
Name Server: a3.verisigndns.com
Name Server: a2.verisigndns.com
Name Server: a1.verisigndns.com
DNSSEC: unsigned

So what this means is that T-mobile through a third party (Barrcuda Networks i.e. linkprotect.cudasvc.com) is now tracking your links.

Now when you click a link, a third party database is checked and a record of your text message links are created.

That is T-Mobile taking liberties with your data, not disclosing the practice and not offering a way to opt out!

So much for T-Mobile’s privacy policy.

Good luck T-Mobile defending yourselves against any wisenheimers who want to file a complaint with the government or lawsuit in the courts for alleged privacy and/or security incursions by T-Mobile.

T-Mobile is really opening up a can of worms with respect to the implications to privacy and the possibility of hacking and sharing of customer data with undisclosed third parties.

Seriously T-Mobile, where is the update to your privacy policy??

Where is the notice of the changes to your privacy practices related to users who are impacted by this “helpful” link condom service?

We called T-mobile late last night, but the outsourced support was clueless about the issue. And somewhat annoying. So we just hung up and thought that we would try again during normal business hours.

We looked for a way to report the issue to T-mobile on their website. And while the website says you can send a message, their preferred option is to call T-Mobile.

The only other option we could find was to help T-mobile generate free content on their website “community”. Which is basically a self-service tech support forum where amateurs and other clueless people with nothing better to do can sit around chatting, giving bad advice and waste time. The community website is very corny and goofy looking. A wannabe social media website that is highly regimented and difficult to navigate.

So we reluctantly called this morning and spoke with one gentleman that was quite pleasant. However he was not aware of the issue. And very politely offered to call us back after researching it on his end. He wanted to schedule a time to follow up call.

As nice as he was and as good as he was at his job, who has time for that?

We just wanted a way to report the issue and go on about our business while T-Mobile rethinks their unprofessional product release of harmful features that were not expected, requested or desired.

We find it quite presumptuous of T-mobile to think they have a right to keep us on the phone and help them report/fix their own problem.

We have no problem opening a trouble ticket, but according to the second rep we spoke to in the morning (she was extremely polite and professional as well) this is no longer possible.

Not only is T-Mobile using a “link condom” on our received text messages, T-Mobile has erected an impenetrable wall between their customers and T-Mobile tech support.

And the whole time, T-Mobile is expecting its customers to endure being placed on hold, transferred and called back. All because the customer was trying to help them with their business.

A fine reward, indeed.

Which is a business model that is so 90s.

After many years as a T-Mobile customer, it may be time for greener pastures.

Making it harder for customers to report problems is not a company that fits into our business model.

And expecting customers to endure long support sessions on the phone. Well, T-Mobile, we have our own business to run.

T-Mobile created the problem and T-Mobile should take all the time they want to fix it.

We don’t.

And we shouldn’t have to invest any more time than reporting the issue.

Otherwise we are victimized twice.

We did not expect much from outsourced T-Mobile customer support. So no further comment on that interaction.

However, we wanted to emphasize again that the two customer service reps we spoke with (during business hours) are five star. And we know that they are doing their job and were trained as true professionals.

Our complaint was the manner in which this spam guard, “link condom” feature was released.

We are also complaining about our inability to open a help desk or trouble ticket that allows us to send information to T-Mobile without all the hassle of trying to explain a technical issue and wait endlessly on the phone.

A press release, recently implemented T-Mobile’s Scam block is described as an act of benevolence for customers and a way to secure the T-Mobile network and guaranteeing our “safety”: https://newsroom.t-mobile.com/news-and-blogs/scam-block.htm.

Well no.

Just no.

Implementing this globally without notice or a way to opt out is beyond comprehension.

UPDATE:

While we were writing this blog post, we received two unwanted calls from T-Mobile reps trying to induce us into investing even more time in helping T-Mobile to further diagnose and report the problem.

sorry charlie

Sorry, Charlie.

We have already done that after investing many hours root causing the issue on our end. Which ends up being T-Mobile being irresponsible in pushing out a change without fully assessing impacts.

Just hurl and wait for what happens.

Hey we are learning here right?

Who cares if we affect and confuse customers!

We can get them on the phone for free to pick their brains.

Sorry.

My invoice to you for my wasted time is in mail.

I will expect payment in 30 days.

Yeah, right!

We spent a number of hours confirming the issue, but there is no longer a way to easily report technical issues like we can with other companies. With T-Mobile we used to be able to create trouble tickets without having to explain technical issues to customer support.

And besides, wouldn’t T-Mobile want to have the issue explained by the customer (in their own words)? Instead of being colored by someone that works at T-mobile customer support or T-Mobile technical support?

In our business, hearing directly from the customers (i.e. “the horse’s mouth”) with a written record in their own words is pure gold.

Seems that this new approach to dumb down customer support is a veiled cost reduction plan by T-Mobile. We think that this is going to backfire. And we believe that there is still a wireless provider that we can find who understands the value of listening to their customers and providing as many ways to report problems as possible…

Amazon Associates Reporting Interface Changes Are Horrible and Wastes This Affiliate Hours of Time

A message today to Amazon Associates support:

quoteCan no longer download reports for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Not good to remove stuff (with no notice) when you decide to upgrade to your new (but not better) reporting interface.

Many of the “generated” reports are delayed and not even downloadable.

Completely one-side changes and you forgot about the user.

Thought Amazon has lots of fancy servers to save reports.

This is beta quality and we do not want to be your testers. We expect more.

We love Amazon for many things, but when you push out stuff like this, it tarnishes your brand. :(

Why would we send such a message?

Look at this:

20170430 amazon associates reporting limitations update changes downgrade

I hate when companies dumb-down their service or user interface.

The probable logic from some minion or outsourced “talent”:

quoteHey Amazon, you are spending a fortune buffering/archiving reports for your publishers/affiliates.

Ding, ding, ding.

So let’s dump the database.

Brilliant!

We can form a narrow queue and process reports one at a time.

All from some remote back office.

There is no rush and we only have to do this when our affiliates ask us nicely for such things as an earnings report.

Don’t worry, affiliates will not need earnings reports that often.

So go ahead and turn the screws on ‘em.

So here it is! Isn’t it super trick, cool and of course very “modern”. Gotta keep the user interface current, right?

See how much money we saved you, Amazon?

Now remember: If you want us to actually test the new interface, that will be extra$$.

Don’t worry, we did not ask any Amazon affiliates what they thought about the new interface before deploying.

So absolutely zero complaints.

We LOVE it!

Gold stars for us…

Dweeb.

The problem developers of the new reporting interface created is that the reports are no longer generated in real time.

Amazon says that reports can take “minutes” to generate.

As if that were even in the realm of acceptability (it is not), “minutes” is a gross and rather disturbing understatement:

20170430 amazon associates reporting slow processing preparing

That is more than 5 hours of waiting!

And no, we were not sitting in front of the computer for these 5 hours. We worked on other tasks and came back periodically to check progress.

Not good.

Are we unreasonably impatient?

Not wanting to wait 5+ hours and counting for some stupid Amazon Associates reports of our declining commissions?

We have many reports to review. Across individual months or multiple years.

Had we been given notice of the interface changes, we would have downloaded what we needed and never looked back.

The Amazon reports for the Associates program, now only report a few months back.

Lame.

And the downloadable reports in CSV or Excel format do not even work.

First you have to wait for Amazon to “generate” the report.

Then you have more waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting.

We have been waiting for the past 5 hours, refreshing the page periodically and many of our reports are still “generating”.

Ridiculous.

Hey Amazon: Stop messing with Amazon Associates. Many are publishers and influencers and you are only setting yourself up for responses from peeved bloggers who can no longer make a buck with Amazon Associates.

Note:

We have previously seen this “downloadable-reporting-scheme-in-order-to-save-a-few-bucks-on-hosting” attitude.

But that time it was PayPal.

The same nonsense.

Let’s not save reports on the system directly.

Let’s not make them easily accessible.

Only allow your valued customers to download reports after jumping through hoops and then after waiting some back-end processing. For a long wait time and the fail.

Let’s be honest. This is the same cost savings move that charred Paypal with many complaints.

Right now PayPal is hosting two reporting systems while trying to figure their stuff out.

PayPal is threatened by strong competitors and some pretty good alternatives.

Amazon, on the other hand, feels more secure and just cuts over 100% to the “new” system, like a thief in the night. With no way for long time users to get access to lost features, unavailable reporting and the expected “usability before deployment” testing.

If this is the direction Amazon is going (by making such one side upgrades that save them money and cost users time and convenience), then Amazon must not really need that army of affiliates they were so well known for (and which helped build their company).

Moving on…

Made $40K Ridesharing with Uber & Lyft – Tell All – Nothing Held Back

ride sharing profit hacks

Here’s the deal…

A guy driving around in his car decides to call his friend.

The driver has a brief conversation with his friend about all the stories he has been hearing about the extra cash the friend has been making.

Anyway, the guy driving the car decides to go visit his once broke, now flush, friend.

His friend’s name is Kahlil. Don’t snicker, but that name is kinda weird to me. It might be just me, but it seems like “Kahlil” is spelled kinda funny. But let’s not digress.

This is a cool story, so read on…

The backstory (not really detailed in the video) is that Kahlil is now out of debt and instead of being driven out of his mind by creditors, he now drives for dollars — and has paid off all of his debt.

40K rideshare driving

Sweet deal for Mr. Funny name.

But how did Kahlil do this??

Well, Kahlil drives for Uber and Lift, which are two of the biggest ride sharing apps on the planet.

Unless, of course, you live in China.

But that’s a story for another day…

Meanwhile, dude #1 finds out that all you need is a car and a smartphone to make some cash.

And of course, this ridesharing business is not for everybody. This is because you need to pass muster with the ride sharing services.

Like they do not want to find out about you crashing cars and junk.

Speaking of junk, your car does not have to be brand spanking new, but you can not just show up for the ride with a flip phone and a beater!

No, seriously.

Don’t do it. :)

http://www.freshbot.com/go/ride-sharing-how-to-video/

Of course, it would not be a great opportunity to make money unless these ride sharing apps had at least some minimum requirements. For instance, they are not going to let you in on this money program if you are a bad driver!

Would you ride with you? If you did not know you? You must be a reasonable driver.

click here to watch video

Bottom line: Ridesharing is a great money making opportunity. But you have to know the insider tips to do it right.

So the bulk of the how to make money ride sharing video is the interview with the man, the mission, Kahlil. Dude #1 asks Kahlil all kinds of questions about his finances and new job driving.

No, it is not at all awkward at times!

Yet if it is awkward, it is only because how often do you really ask your friends about money?

Would most people tell you the real deal about a gig that pays so well?

Even still, what is clear in the video is that Kahlil knows his stuff. And even better he shows you everything that he does.

And I mean everything.

Kahlil really bares all and he holds nothing back.

I hate superficial interviews and only half the formula for making money videos.

If I am going to spend time out of my day to learn a business, then I want all the information.

And no cheap games.

So this method for how to make money ride sharing is quite refreshing.

Ok?

Ok.

So here’s the deal.

The intro video is free. And the detailed video is about twenty bucks, but it is totally worth it if you are even the slightest bit curious about how the ridesharing business really works.

I have to warn you though…

Be prepared to get super pumped over this great money making opportunity.
After watching the video, you will have everything you need to be successful from day one.

Be sure to post a comment after watching the video. I want your feedback. Can you match my humor and wit?

click here to watch video

Well its only funny if you are making real money with a cool ridesharing gig.

Driving is fun.

Getting paid to drive, well that is legendary.

Cruise on, my friend.

I like this…

http://www.freshbot.com/archives/2016/12/12/wordpress-website-for-an-author/

WordPress Website for an author

Here is a WordPress website for an author:

The WordPress website is under WordPress security by Covertise.

Message to Fiverr on sharing of Customer Data with Google and Facebook


A message to Fiverr in the same vein as what was posted about ooma.

These companies just do not get it.

So they abdicate important technology decisions to lazy software developers.

Fiverr is not the only one doing this, but this Google grab is getting ridiculous and good companies are falling for it hook, line and sinker.

Why would Fiverr wittingly or unwittingly help Google to gain more data about their customers?

In short, Fiverr can exchange customer data with Google to gain the benefits of free and fully tested web software packaged up nicely in “cloud based” libraries. And then companies that do this can later claim, we did not know we were sharing customer data with Google. All the while they save money on development by taking the Google handout at the customer’s expense.

Want to know why your SEO is no longer working.

All your bases belong to …

Lame.

I can not log into Fiverr with my browser of choice.

Fiverr has “upgraded” the website since we last logged in. Which has really dumbed things down.

Your website now requires information sharing with Google and Facebook.

Seriously.

By “leveraging” the hosted libraries from third-parties, you are selling out your users.

Do you realize that you are sharing your customer information with these third parties?

We do not do business with Google and much of what we use Fiverr for with respect to online marketing is not something we want disclosed to third parties. Especially Google.

You need to rethink your whole development model in partnership with Google hosted libraries.

And we can not log in using Mozilla Firefox latest.

We like Fiverr services and have been using for a long time, but you now have an unacceptable website which abdicates key parts of your business (software libraries) to third parties, especially Google.

What if Google’s libraries go out of service? Your website like many others will be crippled.

Good luck with that.

And no, I will not be providing more details or give you free consulting.

Figure this out with your lazy development team.

Walnut Creek Web Designer – Videos

Video marketing is an important element of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Watch these videos for hiring a web designer in Walnut Creek, California which is located in San Francisco Bay Area, specifically the the East Bay or Contra Costa Costa County.

Walnut Creek Web Designer
Web Designer Walnut Creek
Web Designer in Walnut Creek

Keep in mind that YouTube is owned by Google so it is great for SEO, but YouTube is not the only marketing channel for videos…

How to get rid of Google APIs

From Reddit:

quote

I have a few questions about googleapis.com and how to block privacy-endangering web software. I am a backend software developer and Debian user, but I have no real clue about today’s web software; so when what I write is a bit naive, please don’t hesitate to correct me.

The motivation for this is that if Google runs unwanted code in chromium (as is being discussed widely right now), I should better assume that it would run unwanted code in my browser and that using Google’s web software in any case supports excessive data collection and user tracking that I don’t want. I want to stop that.

Frankly, nobody seems to care anymore about privacy.

If you complain or want to retain your privacy rights, you are marginalized, cordoned off and denied access. Or people will say Google is not the only one doing this, blah, blah. Problem is Google is the worst, having gone so far in collecting data, the fight for privacy is all but over.

Pick up a piece of technology and you give up your right to privacy. Do you doubt this? Well then, just stop for a moment and read the privacy policy for your latest app download or that popular website that you visit.

For the vast majority of users, scoring “free” technology is far more important than privacy. Google has proven this again and again with their business model.

“Cool” technology that is free?

Nope.

Google is selling all that data they are collecting to private companies and possibly to certain governments.

Oops.

Why would the government be interested in what people do online?

Nah, we must be nuts for thinking such things!

How to get rid of Google APIs

Short answer, you can’t.

Even on the Reddit website where the question was asked, the Reddit web designers have decided to use Google APIs.

But it is not just Reddit…

Almost every website uses Google APIs to host content.

It is so prevalent that it must not be an accident. Lots of smart people working at Google.

google logo

Google now sees all and is moving to expand Google Glass into contact lenses and wearable tech.

What is outrageous is that companies, that are in direct competition with Google or their business model, are willingly sharing subscriber information with Google.

Is your company relying on Google servers to deliver:

  • javascript
  • fonts
  • code libraries
  • advertisements
  • web statistics
  • analytics
  • videos
  • mobile websites
  • engagement tracking
  • email
  • android devices
  • voice and voicemail services

If you are using any of the above (you are), then you are sharing vital information with Google about your person, your business or your customers.

If you are a business and are selling out your customers like this, then who cares if you can get away with it…

Right?

Read a detailed example about a company sharing information with Google about their subscribers and their activities.

Here’s a question: What if, God forbid, Google servers are hacked or otherwise interrupted?

Where is that disaster plan?

On that day, much of the Internet and many websites will go dark.

Here is another question: What if Google wants to charge for using their servers at some point in the future?

Here is a hint, it will happen when there is no easy way for web developers to go back to self-hosted apps or content. It has already happened with mobile apps (think app store controls) and it is gradually happening with web apps and hosted content.

Do you actually know where this is headed?

Just what exactly is the logical conclusion to all of this?

What to do about Google APIs and the impacts to privacy?

Pretty pointless question at this point, because nobody seems to care.

The pull of cool or free technology is too great.

However as a web developer, you can take a stand in your little world of websites and network of websites.

It would require you taking extra steps to ban Google from the websites you develop and manage. This is not easy, because Google has their hooks into almost everything. Web templates which grant you “speed to market” are embedded with Google spyware. As is WordPress and most WordPress themes and frameworks.

Wait a minute…

Did we just slip up and type “Google spyware“?

Oops.

Totally meant to type, “Google APIs“.

Sorry about that!

Back on message for what to do:

See the list above for the “helpful” services Google offers for “free”. Yes you will have to source real solutions and not rely on free solutions from Google, who gives with one hand and takes with the other.

Now do you think, privacy is dead??

Big companies like Google and Facebook quickly monopolizing the Internet

Posted by “Harvey Wasterein” on the Jon Loomer’s blog – http://www.jonloomer.com/2014/09/17/facebook-custom-audiences-no-scraping-uids/

quote

I have noted two types of marketers or marketing commentators – there’s the Moz crowd who seem effusive about everything the big boys do and report it to us with baited breath, implying that we should go along too. Thus Moz and those like them were busily telling us, without any intelligent or dare I say ethical considerations, that putting your mug on your posts and google+ profile and anywhere else was GREAT because it proved authorship and would get you higher rankings. The fact that the powers that be are raping the internet for all your info, including running facial recognition algorithms, made absolutely no appearance in their breathless praise for getting in on the authorship SEO express. Edward Snowden appears to have made little inroads in the cogitations of these kinds of marketers.

Those kinds of marketers, the first kind, run around telling us that anything the big boys do is fine – they’re THE RULES, the law. These people then start telling us that these rules are ethical no less, not because these people have deep philosophical understanding of ethics but rather because they are the sort inclined to kiss arse and call it ethics.

The other kind of internet marketers – a group I’m inclined to support – are altogether more guerilla style and less respectful of these entirely limited and highly contingent demarcations of ‘ethics’ and what is ‘proper’.

The reason being, almost everywhere you go now on the net you meet closed doors, gateways, rules telling you first and foremost that you’re not allowed to do this and not allowed to do that. The big boys meanwhile are becoming much more aggressive in demanding things from you – several times recently I have been unable to sign up for a service because they demanded – DEMANDED – my mobile phone number before being allowed the privilege of giving them money to do business with them

The internet is global and huge but its domination by a stable of large players has created the entirely false impression that we’re all facing tremendous competition and difficulty in simply marketing something. The truth is that they’re falsely closing down the opportunities left, right and centre. You don’t have this feeling when doing door to door sales where huge opportunity exists is you just get off your arse and go out there. The same feeling is increasingly being removed from the web by large, self-interested corporations and replaced by a ridiculous sense of narrowing opportunities – ridiculous because the net is in fact so big.

So Jon, while I would agree that pragmatically one should probably desist from this practice in order not to be banned, privileging Facebook’s self-serving movements in this area as ‘Ethical’ is just one ass-kiss too far in my book.

I would add that it is beholden on marketers as it is on other IT professionals to imagine the traffic opportunities available in a more distributed P2P system – innumerable local internets, local communities digitally connected, no centralising ISP or centralising online service monopolising all the traffic, keeping all the logs or dictating what the rules are for reaching out to others. Greater internet sovereignty and great opportunities.

Those who stand on the sidelines and cheer for the way things are and every development along that way as if it is inevitable or desirable should step back and critique that side. They are involved, even though marketers like to think they’re just after the money so forgot the other stuff. But insofar as they are IT professionals or citizens, they are involved and can shape the net. Indeed they must shape it. The alternative is monopoly.

Intent by Google and Mozilla Cronies to Deprecate HTTP

A suggestion on the Mozilla Dev forum aims to deprecate HTTP in favour of HTTPS. Has it really come to this? Browser devs dictating the protocols we use? Of course, it is all in the name of freedom.

http://www.i-programmer.info/news/86-browsers/8494-intent-to-deprecate-http.html