Is PayPal tricking people into paying with Smart Connect?

I was going to title this “Using my mad web dev skills to fix Paypal change payment method problem” but thought the current title is good click bait.

I’m sure I’ve had this happen to me several times before over the years. The PayPal payment method defaults to Smart Connect, which is usually not my ideal payment method since I’m prone to run a balance and pay 26.99% interest on that balance. After much frustration, I usually give up and leave the payment method as it is.

Paypal change payment link not clickable

Paypal change payment link not clickable

This was my post-fix payment method. Originally, it was Smart Connect.

I went into Chrome Dev to try to see what’s going on. I found that by increasing the input element’s font-size, the link was clickable.

Checking out the link Change input element.

Checking out the link Change input element.

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I could have also changed the padding on the element or probably a host of another things. Something is overlaying the link, and I don’t feel like spending an afternoon debugging their website.

But I’ve got to wonder if PayPal intentionally lets this bug stay to force people to use Smart Connect. I definitely do not have it as a preference anywhere.

JetBlue’s baffling account security quesitons

This is a bit random. I was creating an account on the JetBlue website. They prompt for four security questions. That’s already excessive, but then they’ve got very few viable choices for me, personally. Yes, I know I can make stuff up, but answers to these type of questions aren’t things I should have to write down. Yes, I know I can make up some system so that I remember what the answers are, but…anyway…first-world problem…but this isn’t so much of a gripe as just an expression of bemusement.

  • What is the name of your favorite pet? Whoever came up with this has never had several pets. For first pet, I always put this rabbit we cruelly kept in the basement for a few months when I was 6 or 7 years old. But favorite pet? That’s a cruel question.
  • What is your preferred musical genre? How many people have one preferred music genre, with an assigned label that they would remember to-the-letter? I’m never going to remember “adult contemporary circa 1992”.
  • What is the street number of the house you grew up on? 14. But all responses must have at least three characters. 0-for-3, so far. Need to fill in 4 answers.
  • What time of the day were you born? Gosh, my memory isn’t what it used to be. How many people would know a time that they would be able to enter and recall verbatim? 0-for-4.
  • What is the name of your favorite childhood friend? I don’t know. Manischewitz. I kid. 0-for-5
  • What’s your favorite sport to watch Regardless of your level of interest in sports, how many people can reliably recall what they would have put as a security answer? With all of these questions, I would say that if one can reliably recall an definitive answer 90% of the time, it’s a horrible security question. But I don’t anything about best practices here. I just can’t image that a customer failing to find ANY of the first six security questions easy to answer is what JetBlue or any business wants.
  • What’s the name of the company of your first job?Yay, a question with an answer I can reliably recall, well, assuming I am going with my first post-undergrad job as opposed to my first job when I was 13. So, really, another question that a lot of people might have trouble answering. But I’m 1-for-7 now.
  • What year did you graduate from high school? Yes. Standard stuff there. I’d say it fits that 90% threshold. 2-for-8. I only need 2 for answers to create an account!
  • What is the name of your oldest sibling? Yes. Easy for me. 3-for-9. But how many people have an older sibling? “80 percent of Americans have at least one brother or sister’ according to numerous internet sources. So this question doesn’t meet the 90% threshold, because the percentage of of people without an older sibling is probably somewhere between 40 and 60%.
  • What is the middle name of your oldest child?Does me no good, nor for the quarter of American adults who don’t have children.
  • What was your childhood nickname?Seriously, how many people had one that they could pick? I don’t. I’m 3-for-11 with one question left
  • What is your spouse’s mother’s maiden name?Well, &#($. That leaves me and HALF of all Americans out.

JetBlue, these questions are lousy. Who came up with this? Shame on them for having a normal life, with a spouse and kids, a childhood friend, and a definitive favorite genre of music.

Contrast: Delta

I needed to change my password.

Security Question 1: What was the name of the first school you attended?
Security Question 2: What is your father’s middle name?

Two questions. Quick recall of answers. Done.

DIRECTV win

I’ve got DIRECTV back. When I first moved to my current address, I had DISH, as there was already a DISH satellite attached to a poll rising six feet in the air from my front roof. My most visited blog post remains DISH Network Sucks. I think I may have “cut the cord” briefly but then tried Time Warner Cable…for about a day. The installation process was a disaster. I had heard DIRECTV was better. So didn’t stick with TWC. I went to DIRECTV, and it was terrific.

But then I decided I’d cut the cord again. I took a hiatus. Then I reactivated with a more stripped-down plan. Then I took another hiatus. Then I quit. Initially, I was trying to save money. Later, I decided that all of the TV options were too much of a distraction, and quite a bit too much money. However, I would’ve been receptive to the right deal had the cancellation rep offered it.

So I’d been one of those people who was too cool for cable or satellite TV for about a year-and-a-half. But lately I’ve been wondering why I deprive myself. I’m not happier watching good shows nine months after they’ve aired. I’m not happier only having the option of watching The Daily Show on my laptop…I don’t like watching it on my laptop. I WANT to watch breaking news on the TV when it happens. I LIKE to watch live sports. I don’t like 95% of what’s on, but I can afford the $70/month right now, so, damn it, I’m not going to deprive myself anymore.

I wanted to go back to DIRECTV a couple of weeks ago, but the rep I spoke with would not give me the new customer deal since I had not been an ex-customer for at least two years. Thus, I had another flirtation with Time Warner Cable, whom, as I recently posted, failed to win me over. Today, I visited the vendor selling DIRECTV for Costco. He told me that I should be able to get the new customer deal as long as I didn’t mention the whole being-a-recent-customer thing. In fact, the DIRECTV rep who confirmed my order via phone simply asked if I was currently a DIRECTV customer.

It will be re-installed on Wednesday. 3 free months of HBO and Showtime. (And Cinemax, but, WTF is on Cinemax?) I can watch Mad Men with the rest of the country. I can watch Game of Thrones even if I don’t know what the hell is going on. I can catch up on HBOGO…or I can just read some summaries on the internet. I actually did watch a fair amount of Season One during my last engagement with DIRECTV.

So I’ve missed essentially two entire Duke basketball seasons now. On one level, I haven’t cared at all. Truly. Being a fan just hasn’t been that important. Yet…on another level, I miss being a fan. Being a fan is a lot of fun, and it does take you out of your decrepit life for a couple of hours here and there. (I don’t mean your decrepit life; I mean mine. And I don’t mean my life is decrepit. It’s just the random adjective that popped out).

On that note, I’ve gotten a subscription to MLB Extra Innings for what amounts to something like $5/month. I truly did love major league baseball when I was a kid. I haven’t loved it in at least 20 years, but I feel like giving it a try.

The moral of the story is…let yourself be entertained for Pete’s sake.

Time Warner Cable fail

I almost succumbed to the need for cable last week. I signed up Wednesday night. I picked up a box Thursday morning. I realized Thursday evening that they hadn’t activated it. I got a call Friday morning from a sales rep asking if everything was ok. I said it wasn’t, that I expected the service to have been turned on and wasn’t sure I was satisfied with the deal I was getting. She said since she wasn’t the sales rep I dealt with that she couldn’t help. I asked her why she bothered calling. Then I returned the box and canceled my service. (I should’ve waited until today, in retrospect, since it’s hard to watch March Madness online without a TV subscription service after the 4-hour free pass expires).

Today, I received a call from a gentleman asking about my Time Warner Cable experience. He wanted to be my “personal representative” and said I could reach him anytime via his cell phone. Sounded fishy. Then he offered me a price that was even higher than what I was going to be paying. I called bullshit on him and told him he had just made it more likely that I’ll never get TV from Time Warner Cable.

If and when I decide I want real TV again, I’ll go back to DirecTV.

Vizio Netflix app limits TV series to 100 episodes

Just adding an extra blurb on the internet along with the others that say the same thing, so it may save someone else 20 minutes of their life. On my Vizio TV’s Netflix app, any television show with more than 100 episodes will only have 100 episodes listed. (Examples: Family Guy, Family Ties) It won’t necessarily be the first 100 episodes. There might be gaps here and there. I called Netflix customer support, and wasted 20 minutes with a confused support agent before he declared that he would log an incident. I’m not sure he ever believed it was a legitimate issue. I wasn’t given an incident ID nor did I ask for one. For a company that seems it would want to place a strong emphasis on customer service, I didn’t feel like I received it. Ultimately, I don’t care. My other TV has a Roku box. And this is a First World Problem.

Nexus 7 pros/cons

My assignment for myself is to rattle off Nexus 7 pros and cons for the next 5 minutes. Stream-of-consciousness but attempting to keep my consciousness focused on the task at hand and not wandering so much.

I bought a Google/Asus Nexus 7 1G GB tablet a few days ago, and as astonishing as it may seem, I’m considering returning it. This will not pass for a review. This will not pass as opinion from a tech guru. I am so far outside of the realm of what passes for tech knowledge these days. These are just observations from my point-of-view, where I am the user. I am certain my concerns don’t match those of many, since I can’t find them anywhere, in some cases.

Enough of the preface. 5 minutes. Pros/cons. Go…

Pros:

  • $249 pricetag is reasonable given the complete package
  • Cool to watch video on it
  • 4.0/Ice Cream Sundae a better flavor of Android than the 2.2 on my phone
  • 7″ is the ideal size, in between a cell phone and a laptop, I thought
  • Much longer battery life than phone or laptop
  • More portable than laptop
  • Cooler than any other technology I own

Cons:

  • Doubt I needed to spend $50 more for 8 GB more of memory. The point is to live in the cloud, which I’m comfortable with.
  • Metallic beveled edge is very problematic for my hands. It’s not comfortable as all. The plastic psuedo-rubber that covers the back and creeps up half of the edge is great. But my fingers have to grasp the metal part.
  • I envisioned how comfortable it would be to lie in bed and use it. It’s not comfortable at all. Phone better. Even holding laptop is better.
  • 7″ is actually makes it a tad unwieldy for me. I can’t imagine using a 10″ tablet.
  • Most apps are the same as what appears on my phone, not improvement just to be stretched over 7″
  • Apparently lighter than previous 7″ tablets, but not as light as I think one should be. Give me one as light as a simple e-reader
  • Out-of-box touch keyboard is horrible. Paid for a keyboard app that is too complicated. Actually prefer my 2.2 phone touch keyboard. Still greatly prefer the physical slide-out keyboard on my antiquated EVO Shift (it’s from 2011!)
  • Front-facing 1.3MP camera is pointless to me…I’m not going to Skype, and I do actually want to take pictures.

Ok…that was 10 minutes. I’m not comparing it to an iPad. I don’t give a darn about iPads. I don’t want an iPad. I have been under the impression that I wouldn’t like using a tablet from a tactile and comfort perspective. That comes from playing around with other tablets, including iPads. I’ve given the Nexus 7 a try because it’s supposed to be the best Android 7″ tablet. If this is the best, I’ll hold off.

I think the larger point is that I’m not a techie. I don’t care enough gadgets to feel like I need to have one of these. I really thought it would be useful. I really thought I’d be wowed by what it can do. I’m just not wowed by technology anymore.

I figured I should spend a few minutes using WordPress on the Nexus to see how it feels. It’s uncomfortable in portrait mode. Its uncomfortable in landscape mode. And, again, I’m using an enhanced keyboard. I just can’t see myself wanting to type anything long-form on here. Its not significantly easier to touch type on here versus my outdated phone. Speaking of which…

So let me try using my phone for a minute. It’s so much easier to hold the phone between my palms in landscape mode. So much more comfortable for my thumbs even if through keyboard takes up 60 percent of the screen…

Which is easily remedied by sliding out the keyboard. I think I still prefer the slideout out keyboard on my outdated little phone to the tablet touch.

Give me a 6″ tablet with a slideout keyboard. No one makes that. I think I’ll hold out for that.

A 3-year-old would probably have more fun with my Nexus 7 than I am.
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Satellite TV Round 4?

I just came perilously close to signing up for DirecTV for second contract, where my first run with them lasted three years which included two viewing spans and two hiatuses. Prior to that, I was satellite-less for about a year, had canceled Time Warner Cable before it started due to a terrible installation experience.

Before that, I had Dish, but got rid of it because it only worked with the ridiculous dish-on-a-pole erected on the roof in the front of the house. It had been put there by past tenants, so I inherited it upon renting the house six years ago. Since Dish requires a higher clearance angle than DirecTV, there was no viable location for the dish, so I dumped it. My 7-10-07 post “DISH Network Sucks” is the most-viewed and most-commented-on post I’ve had. Google “dish network sucks” and…well, I used to be on the first page of search results; now I’m on the second. People post their stories. I don’t even read them. But it’s amusing.
So this would be my fourth round of satellite TV service in this house…if I signed up. I’m on the checkout screen. Factoring in the second 12 months’ rate hike as part of a 24-month contract, the various rebates, the Costco cash card, and taxes, I would get what I want, on average throughout the 24 months, for just $54.

And what I want is specifically:
– MSNBC (for shows like Rachel Maddow)
– CurrentTV (for 24/7 liberal Kool Aid)
– AMC (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– FX (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– ESPN (for the occasional sports I care about)
– Comedy Central (for Stewart and Colbert, which I don’t bother watching on the Internet)
– TNT (for maybe 1-3 shows)
– Other (for maybe 1-3 shows that may arise on some other channel at some point)

All of the rest is distraction. And this is what is preventing me from going ahead. $54 is a pretty good deal, I think, for the contentment I will get from having what seems like not a whole lot of television. Still, it is inevitable I’ll watch far more. I don’t have to have a DVR, but it’s free with this deal, and I will inevitably record network programming that I wouldn’t otherwise keep up with now. I’ll find other stuff.

Watching current TV programming can both keep me better connected to the world, not just current events but entertainment that other people are also currently enjoying. On the other hand, watching all that programming gives me more excuses to hole myself up in my house and avoid trying to connect to the world in more meaningful ways.

I imagine I might cancel Netflix streaming, so that would save me an extra $10 a month. I wouldn’t need to spend $1.99 to watch same-season episodes of Mad Men and Dallas, which I’ve done in recent months.

There’s the principal of living without cable/satellite.

Then there’s the live-is-short principal. Why miss out on stuff I enjoy?

I’ll sleep on it.

Mattresses

Soliciting mattress advice. I’ve had my current one for 12 years. It’s probably been no good for my back for at least half of that time. I’m thinking a good mattress is a better investment for myself than just about any other expenditure, especially considering my sleep difficulties (a health issue I have yet to write about; adventures in sleep apnea and CPAP machine masks).

When considering something that’s crucial to my health, something I may use for another ten years, I don’t think it’s worth skimping. If a memory foam mattress is going to be better for my back and overall comfort compared to a coiled mattress, I’ll spend $1500 versus $500. Maybe a foam topper works fine atop of standard mattress. I have absolutely no idea.

I’ve seen in Consumer Reports that Original Mattress Factory scores high for customer service and quality, and I’m thinking of looking there. I was always impressed by the radio and TV ads that the founder Ron something-inski used to do (or still does?) If I knew what kind of mattress I wanted, I might just go to Costco. What I don’t want to do is go to one of the chains like Mattress King that constantly advertises deep-discount sales. Shopping at a place like that seems akin to a car-buying experience. Or, at least, it seems like a bad idea if you have no idea what you’re looking for (as was the case 12 years ago).

Apple stuff and self-confidence

Ever watch an Apple commercial and think, “I’m not hip enough/happy enough/good enough to own Apple stuff”?*

I do.**

* What the correct way to punctuate that sentence?

** I was just going to dump that onto my Facebook wall/timeline/whatever it’s called, but then I recalled that I once had a blog to post my thoughts, and I’ve been quite timid for awhile. Maybe there’s a metablogging post coming.

That is all for now.

Dare I break out the depression tag? Why not. I don’t pay over $100 a year to have a website just so I can post harmless pictures and links to some harmless, silly other blog I have.

And I bought the Petsmart cat tree anyway

Aremids new cat tree-1After I railed on Petsmart for advertising a Black Friday sale on a cat tree that had not been previously sold anywhere, I picked one up Friday morning, anyway. It’s a good price for a solid cat tree, and Aremid has needed a new one. I did not get up particularly early to do this, and there were no lines at Petsmart, so I don’t count this as having observed Black Friday. Just for the record.

Aremid likes.

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