I was reading a story on the Microsoft/Novell deal, where microsoft were stating that linux violates several patents, and threatening anyone using a distribution other than novell’s.
So far, they have not shown any of the patents linux is supposed to violate, nor have they showed parts of linux code which they believe to violate patents. Now, why is this? If microsoft were concerned with protecting their patents, would they not disclose them and have the matters addressed?
More likely, they have no real claim and are merely trying to scare people out of running linux, because after all scaring people away from the competition is cheaper than making your product better.
More interesting however, is that microsoft products do definitely violate patents. This is not just FUD, they have been found to be violating patents in court, for instance the recent Eolas case.
However, most countries simply don’t need to worry about software patents, as software patents are only valid in a small number of countries anyway.
So in short:
Linux might violate patents, microsoft claims but has shown no proof.
Windows does violate patents, proven in court.
It seems there’s a great way to defraud ebay users, and best of all, it doesn’t violate their policy. Sure, it may be immoral but aparrently doing this is perfectly fine according to ebay. So first, a little history, you see i learned of this scam in the time honored way of being suckered by it.
I was browsing through ebay, looking for somewhere i could buy some additional memory for a computer of mine. There were plenty of cheap sellers in the US, but i don’t like to buy internationally because of the various difficulties involved, it is always better to deal with local sellers. So i was presently surprised, to see some fairly cheap (not the cheapest, but not bad) memory being offered for sale that claimed to be in the UK. The item i found was this:
Clearly marked as being in the UK, the seller had loads of them available and the price was reasonable. I read the description, and noted that my motherboard chipset, the VIA K8T800 was listed as known compatible, and that they listed the company name and website, emartbuy – www.emartbuy.com on the listing. I visited this site, and was immediately presented with a choice between USA and UK. Great i thought, they clearly have a UK office and do business in the UK.
So i placed the order, paid for it, and within a few days received the memory. I eagerly put it into my machine and turned it on, and, nothing… The fans were spinning, the drive was spinning, but nothing on the screen. I put my old memory back in, and the system behaved as normal, so i tried again with only one of the new modules inserted. This time the screen came on, and the system started on it’s power on checks. Half way through, it froze and wouldn’t respond to any keypresses. I tried the other modules with similar and often erratic results, sometimes the bios initialization would complete, but i could never boot an OS. Sometimes the system would be able to load the “memtest86″ program, but this never ran for more than a few minutes before detecting memory errors. Frustrated by this, i rechecked the listing and reconfirmed that my motherboard was listed as being compatible.
So i attempted to contact the seller, but to no avail, frustrated i contacted them through paypal. This time they responded, confirming that my motherboard is compatible and asking me to return the defective memory. But here’s where it gets worse. The auction had clearly stated the memory was located in the UK, but when asking for a return this company demanded that i ship it to the US, at my own cost. Nowhere on the original listing had any mention been made of this, and indeed the word “return” in combination with the listing stating the item was in the UK, would imply that returning it would involve returning it to it’s original location in the UK, and not a costly and time consuming international shipping exercise.
This company also only gives you 14 days from receipt of the item in order to return it, yet they freely admit that shipping internationally can take up to 15 business days (that is, up to 3 weeks including the weekends).
They then went on to say that misleading buyers like this is not against ebay policy, and that it’s perfectly ok to demand a return to an arbitrary location that was not once mentioned in the original listing.
So here’s how the scam works:
Find an address in a far away country, somewhere that it’s very expensive to ship anything to (Cuba, Burma, Iraq, The McMurdo Antarctic research station).
Obtain a large amount of broken items that are usually expensive (when working), since broken items are usually worthless you should be able to get stacks of defective junk cheaply or for free. Alternatively, you can ship random junk.
Put the defective items up on ebay, but don’t mark them defective, instead offer a refund or replacement guarantee. Tell buyers where the items are currently located, and wait for the suckers to start bidding.
When someone wins, add some extra to the shipping amount to cover not only the shipping and packaging cost, but also a small profit for yourself, and send them their broken merchandise.
Before too long, you will start getting complaints, but this is no problem because you have a returns policy, the buyer can return the item at their own cost and you’l refund them, so the buyer is mailing you asking for your address. Just give them your far away address, remember it’s not against ebay policy to do this. Don’t forget to request the buyer send the item insured, lest it be lost in transit.
Now with any luck, the buyer will consider the cost of shipping too expensive to bother, and just drop the whole thing.
And just incase they don’t, you can refund them their payment less the shipping cost, so worst case is you make the small profit on shipping, and a small amount of interest while your holding the buyer’s money. And don’t forget, international shipping takes time, so you can hold on to that money for a little while longer and make a little more interest.
I was trying to buy some exotic meat, and i came across a company called Kezie Foods that appeared to offer what i was looking for. I filled out their online shopping cart with what i wanted, and proceeded to the checkout. This checkout required me to register, which is fair enough, so i went to the registration page:
I filled out the details, and noticed the subscribe to newsletters option at the bottom of the form. I intentionally left it unchecked, as i didn’t want to receive extra junk mail.
So, i immediately cancelled my order and sent them a mail demanding they remove my details from their system ASAP and explaining why. To this i received no response, until several weeks later, i received a copy of the newsletter!
Yes, the very same newsletter i explicitely did not want, and clearly demanded they remove me from the list. I have sent them another mail, which i suspect will also be ignored so i will be calling them on monday to complain.