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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

WinPatrol First to Create BirthdayWare

When WinPatrol was first released it was created mainly for friends and family.  At the time, I stayed pretty busy working on unique programs for Microsoft, Gateway, Epson and was working for Capital Cities/ABC when Disney took over the company. WinPatrol was just a hobby while I worked on other fun popular programs.

vidtouricon                    astro_pic                mtvlogoqkwlogo                 microsoft

etvglow            mnflogo


oldprograms     destination

Working for a variety of companies was fun. My Windows programming experience meant I was in high demand and I was able to play with new secret equipment. While it was never published I created one of the first DVD players as a project for Gateway. It kept me busy enough that WinPatrol didn’t seem as important as it turned out.

I never expected how much crap would start appearing in the Startup programs list and how popular WinPatrol would become. If I had known at the time I would have patented the concepts used by WinPatrol and could have retired by now.  Ironically, a lot of the work I did for other companies would be considered disposable startup programs like my Epson Ink Monitor and my Gateway Warranty reminder. At least when possible my startup junk would exit once performing its function.

WinPatrol was just a program I created on the side for my own use. Instead of just giving WinPatrol away for free I came up with something called “BirthdayWare”.  Once a year on my birthday WinPatrol would display a example of a programmers ego.


birthdayware

 

It was a lot of fun to receive Email from WinPatrol fans but soon the volume of the Email was overwhelming.  I was pleasantly surprised and confused when birthday Emails started to come in on the day before my actual birthday.  I finally noticed the first greetings were from locations like Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and other sites where the date had already changed. WinPatrol has always been very popular in Vietnam. ( btw, The Email listed above is no longer valid.)

In addition to the large amounts of Email, I discovered WinPatrol users were making a serious error. Many fans took the time and effort to create animated greeting cards to wish me a happy birthday.

 

nogatorUnfortunately, back in those days the sending of a greeting cards was a popular method to distribute adware and spyware.  Essentially, in the process of thanking me they were infecting themselves with adware. If I opened their well intended greeting card I would also get infected.


After a few years of fun, I was forced to disable the birthdayware feature and did without the personal celebration.  Some long time users still continued to wish me a Happy Birthday even without the reminder and to this day I still receive birthdayware greetings.

date

Next month on November 19th we’re going to celebrate, not my birthday, but the 14th anniversary of WinPatrol or Scotty’s Birthday. There will be prizes and all the special treats I can think of between now and then. Stay turned for all the fun.

flashband

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Greed Creates Common Deceptive Practices

It continues to amaze me that companies build an entire business plan based on tricking consumers. Companies like the one listed below know they’re being deceptive yet have continued to run a company based on fooling consumers into thinking they’re already doing business with their company.

In this case, the company Domain Registry of America gets a list of domain names that that are due for renewal. They send a letter to the customer “implying” that they currently handle the domain name and include threats their domain name could be lost unless they send in a renewal fee. Instead unless you pay attention they’ll steal business away from your current domain holder. The threats in this letter work well and Domain Registry of America has made an entire business based solely on this deceptive practice. They do acknowledge renewing is a switch but they send their letter so far ahead of time they hope you’ll get theirs before a notice from the company who already serves you,

 domain

Obviously, from the prices below Domain Registry of America is not providing me with any special discount. Their rates are over triple what I would normally be charged by the company who handles my domains. They charge me $10.95 a year. This is blatant case of deception which has been going on for years. It’s not illegal, just an example of greed.

domain002

They’re not alone in their tricky malicious practice. Chance are great you’ll also find a letters in your mail warning you that your vehicle warranty has expired. While you may never have done business with their company they’ll still want you to renew a warranty with them.

Another examples of this kind of greed are companies who want to include you in a “Who’s Who’s” book of some kind. Naturally, along with including you in their Who’s Who book, they’ll want to sell you a copy.  Even if it’s not required most people will still buy the book. If you’re a small business you may also receive an official looking state document that claims you must post a copy of your employee rights. Their version will naturally comes on beautifully laminated paper which isn’t required in most states but not illegal to lie to you.

Another company trolls the patent office and when it sees you have a new patent they will send you a nice copy of your patent with an offer for some beautiful patent plagues. They’ll use an official sounding name to imply it’s a service of the patent office. Their version will set you back a little but look nice on your desk or wall. I was actually pleased when they tried to trick me because I had a few Gateway patents with my name on them. I had forgotten all about it.

bbb My all time favorite is the Better Business Bureau who will call encouraging you to be a member for over $300 depending on the size of your business. They call me at least once a year and tell me they had a report from one of my customers praising our work.  While I am confident our users love us I don’t believe for second that once a year a customer goes out of their way to report positive comments.
According to a number of state Attorney Generals office the grading system used by BBB favored members over non-members.

So, read your mail carefully and be sure what you’re signing up for is legitimate and come from the actual company and not someone using deceptive practices. Ultimately, this form of greed only helps one company and that’s the United States Post Office.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Greed Creates Common Deceptive Practices

It continues to amaze me that companies build an entire business plan based on tricking consumers. Companies like the one listed below know they’re being deceptive yet have continued to run a company based on fooling consumers into thinking they’re already doing business with their company.

In this case, the company Domain Registry of America gets a list of domain names that that are due for renewal. They send a letter to the customer “implying” that they currently handle the domain name and include threats their domain name could be lost unless they send in a renewal fee. Instead unless you pay attention they’ll steal business away from your current domain holder. The threats in this letter work well and Domain Registry of America has made an entire business based solely on this deceptive practice. They do acknowledge renewing is a switch but they send their letter so far ahead of time they hope you’ll get theirs before an notice from the company who already serves you,

 domain

Obviously, from the prices below Domain Registry of America is not providing me with any special discount. Their rates are over triple what I would normally be charged by the company who handles my domains. They charge me $10.95 a year. This is blatant case of deception which has been going on for years. It’s not illegal, just an example of greed.

domain002

They’re not alone in their tricky malicious practice. Chance are great you’ll also find a letters in your mail warning you that your vehicle warranty has expired. While you may never have done business with their company they’ll still want you to renew a warranty with them.

Another examples of this kind of greed are companies who want to include you in a “Who’s Who’s” book of some kind, Naturally, along with including you in their Who’s Who book, they’ll want to sell you a copy.  Even if it’s not required most people will still buy the book. If you’re a small business you may also receive an official looking state document that claims you must post a copy of your employee rights. Their version will naturally comes on beautifully laminated paper which isn’t required in most states but not illegal to lie to you.

Another company trolls the patent office and when it sees you have a new patent they will send you a nice copy of your patent with an offer for some beautiful patent plagues. They’ll use an official sounding name to imply it’s a service of the patent office. Their version will set you back a little but look nice on your desk or wall. I was actually pleased when they tried to trick on me because I had a few Gateway patents with my name on them. I had forgotten all about it.

bbb My all time favorite is the Better Business Bureau who will call encouraging you to be a member for over $300 depending on the size of your business. They call me at least once a year and tell me they had a report from one of my customers praising our work.  While I am confident our users love us I don’t believe for second that once a year a customer goes out of their way to report positive comments.
According to a number of state Attorney Generals office the grading system used by BBB favored members over non-members.

So, read your mail carefully and be sure what you’re signing up for is legitimate and come from the actual company and not someone using deceptive practices. Ultimately, this form of greed only helps one company and that’s the United States Post Office.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Verizon uses your Physical Address for Advertising

Verizon has announced a new service update it admits will benefit advertisers more than customers.  Obviously it’s meant to increase Verizon’s revenue.  It used to be you could get free services in return for targeted advertising. Now Verizon considers it a bonus feature to use my physical addresses for ads.

“…Verizon will soon participate in a program that will improve the ability of advertisers to reach our Verizon Online customers based on your physical address. The goal is to provide online ads that may be more relevant to you.

This program uses your address to determine whether you reside in a local area an advertiser is trying to reach.”

verizon 


“This advertising program uses your physical address to help advertisers deliver ads to websites you visit while using Verizon Online. This program allows national brands and local businesses to tailor offers, coupons and incentives to your local area. Because the ads can be geographically directed, they may be more relevant to you.”

In addition to adds on Verizon websites, the following can be found in their Privacy Policy…

“…cookies may be placed and used by advertising companies to collect information about your visit to our websites and may be combined with similarinformation obtained from other websites.”

If you’re a Verizon customer I recommend reviewing their privacy policy and follow tips that allow you to opt-out of this new feature
http://www22.verizon.com/about/privacy/policy/#cpni

Click below to Opt-Out
 optout

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