Mac users steered to pricier hotels

So if you’re a Mac user to get the more expensive hotels. Very smart. I am honored to be perceived as the more affluent.

On Orbitz, Mac Users Steered to Pricier Hotels

Orbitz Worldwide Inc. has found that people who use Apple Inc.’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% more a night on hotels, so the online travel agency is starting to show them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than Windows visitors see.

The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information—in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac—to start predicting their tastes and spending habits.

This is one site I will avoid shopping. Sorry, I’m a bloody cheapskate.

Doing cold calling right

BusinessBalls.com has a good article on how to do cold calling:

Cold calling typically refers to the first telephone call made to a prospective customer. More unusually these days, cold calling can also refer to calling face-to-face for the first time without an appointment at commercial premises or households. Cold calling is also known as canvassing, telephone canvassing, prospecting, telephone prospecting, and more traditionally in the case of consumer door-to-door selling as ‘door-knocking’.

More often, I’m annoyed with cold calling.

Microsoft / Danger lost all T-Mobile customer data

Microsoft’s subsidiary Danger lost all their customer’s data in server failure. Any contacts, photos, calendars, or to-do lists that haven’t been locally backed up are gone. Microsoft’s reputation is sure going down for this, it’s a major failure.

Letter from Microsoft / Danger to T-Mobile Sidekick customers:

T-MOBILE AND MICROSOFT/DANGER STATUS UPDATE ON SIDEKICK DATA DISRUPTION

Dear valued T-Mobile Sidekick customers:

T-Mobile and the Sidekick data services provider, Danger, a subsidiary of Microsoft, are reaching out to express our apologies regarding the recent Sidekick data service disruption. We appreciate your patience as Microsoft/Danger continues to work on maintaining platform stability, and restoring all services for our Sidekick customers.

Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device – such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos – that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low. As such, we wanted to share this news with you and offer some tips and suggestions to help you rebuild your personal content. You can find these tips at the T-Mobile Sidekick Forums (http://www.t-mobile.com/sidekick ). We encourage you to visit the Forums on a regular basis to access the latest updates as well as FAQs regarding this service disruption.

In addition, we plan to communicate with you on Monday (Oct. 12) the status of the remaining issues caused by the service disruption, including the data recovery efforts and the Download Catalog restoration which we are continuing to resolve. We also will communicate any additional tips or suggestions that may help in restoring your content.

We recognize the magnitude of this inconvenience. Our primary efforts have been focused on restoring our customers’ personal content. We also are considering additional measures for those of you who have lost your content to help reinforce how valuable you are as a T-Mobile customer.

We continue to advise customers to NOT reset their device by removing the battery or letting their battery drain completely, as any personal content that currently resides on your device will be lost.

Once again, T-Mobile and Microsoft/Danger regret any and all inconvenience this matter has caused.

[via Techcrunch]

T-Mobile customer database stolen?

These kind of things always scare me. I never could trust saving my card number into any online services because of this.

Unconfirmed Reports of Massive T-Mobile Breach

Early reports indicate that hackers have penetrated the T-Mobile U.S. network and stolen proprietary operating data, customer databases and financial records. According to a post on insecure.org, the hackers have claimed to be auctioning the pilfered data to the highest bidder. T-Mobile competitors, they say, turned them down.

There are no details as to how the hackers achieved the breach, but they did post code to show that they did penetrate the T-Mobile network.

T-Mobile was the target of a masssive 2005 hack, in which Nicholas Jacobsen was charged with unauthorized network access by the U.S. Secret Service. According to published reports, Jacobsen had access to all the information about T-Mobile’s 16 million U.S. subscribers.

T-Mobile subscribers are also the frequent target of e-mail and text messaging phishing scams.

UPDATE: There is no mention of a security breach or incident on T-Mobile’s Web site. We spoke with T-Mobile Saturday night, and they were unaware of the reported incident. They were looking into it, but stil have not provided a formal response.

From: http://blogs.channelinsider.com/secure_channel/content/data_security/early_reports_of_massive_t-mobile_breach.html

Why I joined Media Temple 2 years ago and now am leaving

I previously set up a blog with one of those cheap web host that probably stores like a 150 websites in one server. The price is low and the service I got is alright, typically a one day response time which I am fine with. It was until that low-cost web host start insist on me having one of those VPS plans that I started to turn away. I couldn’t afford the VPS back then and I wasn’t that keen to let them suspend my account due to high activity.

So I was pretty determined to get a good host and stay there for the next few years. Changing hosts is such a chore. Media Temple has a lot to offer:

  • Professional looking: A professional made website with good design and nice pictures of servers. I gotta admit that at one point of time I actually thought their servers look like that.
  • Supports large websites: Media Temple hosts multiple huge websites that I go to. Today they host 9rules and Django Project. And they load pretty quickly. Of course those are under their premium plans but I thought that they would offer me something roughly on par.
  • Marketing gaga: I’m totally into the marketing term “grid”. Even though Media Temple’s Grid Service is not the same grid computing I later understand, the term “grid” was a key deciding factor. Back then I did not understand the term. It just sound like one of those plans I should be having.
  • Designer control panel: Media Temple actually has a wonderful control panel. I’m sick of CPanel and was looking for something fresher. Media Temple’s control panel is almost like a designer panel. And well, the demo control panel also loads quite quickly.
  • Transparency in hosting: Media Temple also has this RSS feed where they reveal incidents of their clusters. This is a huge plus to me. I see the transparency of the hosting provider. I like that level of transparency and they keep updating their customers with rather detail ongoings.
  • Customer centricity: Media Temple has generally positive reviews and does a lot of damage control around the web. This appeals to me. It appears that they’re listening.

So I signed up for Media Temple’s Grid Service thinking that it’s the end of all my worries. But it rarely is the case as I explain below:

  • So what if it’s professional looking: This just means Media Temple hire good designers and have the revenue to do so. A good design invites people but is hardly representative of the level of service they provide.
  • So what if it supports large websites: Media Temple is likely to have place much of their technical resources in these large websites. Media Temple has a stake in maintaining the online time of these websites as they placed their logos on these sites and has become closely associated with them. If you ain’t going to be paying for some of their really expensive services, I doubt you get anything close to that level of dedication.
  • And yeah I believed the marketing department: Well, the word “grid” is totally meaningless. In fact I feel kinda stupid believing it was the holy grail or something. “Grid” turns out to have lots of problems and these includes slow database access which mattered greatly to me.
  • So what if there’s a designer control panel: Designer control panel that is slow, may I add. I found it crawling. When you really need something like accessing the database with phpmyadmin, you will realized how many clicks it takes to reach there. You can’t open a control panel page into a new tab also and that’s bad usability. Control panel takes longer than it should and I pretty much given up using it. The demo control panel does not reflect the speed of your control panel.
  • So transparent but no improvement: Sure they post lots of issues and are still rather transparent. But it just took too long for them to fix their problems. Having an RSS feeds detailing the server faults makes customers slightly more forgiving but what I want to see is a change. It’s almost like someone recognizing his/her mistake and apologies but commits the same thing all over again. After a while, I realized no news is good news. Media Temple have some issues with their vendor Blue Arc and somehow these issues affected a portion of their customers. They took a long time to resolve. I am not sure to what extend it has been resolved.
  • Customer centricity non-existent: I wrongly assumed the level of support from Media Temple judging on the way they perform damage control. Media Temple support is rather poor. They take long to reply and complained that my database activity is too high on several occasions. The database analytic tool that they provide reveal no spike in activity. I mailed them and they insisted that I should check their analytic tool to resolve issue. Want to know how it feels like talking to a wall? Try Media Temple.

Ultimately, what mattered more than webhosting support is not having the need to request for support. Today I hardly request for support because I just don’t need it.

And that is what I call great service.

[If you are interested in Slicehost, consider using my referrer link. Thanks!]