Attention all disabled people. You officially oppose net neutrality. Thank you, Verizon.

So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You walk into a place, $guy you don’t really know proceeds to play twenty questions with you. Then, when it comes time for you to get yourself some service, $guy figures it’s his turn to speak up on your behalf. Now, if you’re like most people, the difference between the service you expect to receive and the service $guy thinks you’re after is approximately the difference between Sarah Palin and an honest to god university graduate. Problem is, $guy figures you won’t mind in the slightest–I mean after all, he’s just doing you a service, right? Meanwhile you get to spend the next while undoing his help, then actually making the arangements you were planning to make–entirely independently, and quite probably while $guy looks on like you’d just kicked his dog down two flights of stairs.

Now, take that scenario, stick the internet in front of it, and pretend $guy is a placeholder for someone like a Verizon. Then, pretend you’ve rolled out of bed and discovered that you’ve been positioned, thanks largely to Verizon speaking on your behalf, as being entirely against any kind of notion of the FCC being able to tell companies–ahem, like Verizon–not to break the damned internet. See, the difference here is we’re pretending. PRoblem: Verizon isn’t.

Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea. But groups representing disabled Americans, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation of the Blind, and the American Association of People with Disabilities are not advocating for this plan. Mark Perriello, the president and CEO of the AAPD, says that this is the “first time” he has heard “these specific talking points.”

Considering the NFB is usually the first in line to scream bloody murder if something’s not exactly on the level insofar as blind folks are concerned, you can probably figure out approximately how much actual input from blind, deaf and disabled people Verizon actually heard before crafting that memo. But like $guy in my example, Verizon figures you won’t mind–they’re just doing you a service. Now just pay no attention whatsoever to the fact that service may or may not boil down to their own interests, but you know…

And sometimes, law enforcement is an ass.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a one of these. So clearly, somebody somewhere’s due, right? Right. IT’s time to pick on a combination of the US education system and US law enforcement again.

Pennsylvania’s probably an awesome place to visit. Hell, it might even be a moderately decent place to live. But if you’re not the popular kid in school, one wonders how decent a place it is to grow up–particularly when your attempt at doing something about the local schoolyard bully ends with you being the one in possession of a criminal record thanks to wiretapping and disorderly conduct charges.

A Pennsylvania teen, who claimed to have been bullied constantly (and ignored by school administration), made an audio recording of his tormentors using a school-supplied iPad. He brought this to the school’s attention, which duly responded by calling the cops… to have him arrested for violating Pennsylvania’s wiretapping law.

From the source article:

[The student’s mother, Shea] Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says Milburn defended the teacher’s response to the classroom disturbance.

So, for those of you keeping score at home. Kid’s getting picked on. Kid tells mom. Mom says “record it, bring it to the folks in charge”. Mom hands kid a recorder, then calls the school–because, hey, yall have a problem. School gets the cops involved, kid ends up arrested for–as it turns out, following the expected procedures.

“Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know […] Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.”

Yep. And it was. Just one problem. They done brung you the wrong kid. Now who wants to tell me the system’s not broken? I’ll wait…

WTN v 2.0, now with less breakage.

So there is news on the personal front that I’ll get to eventually. But at the moment, I’m up to my eyeballs in geek. The simple explanation why is actually to Google’s credit. The site fell victim to an apparent run-in with a significantly tricky spot of malware. It came in courtesy an exploit in a plugin I no longer use on this site, about a day or two before that exploit was supposedly patched against. It resulted in fun times with google, as they got twitchy about the site any time someone dared come within five miles of it. I took my time with removal, but the thing with a problem like that is once it’s in, it’s in. So every time I’d find something to clean, it would come back somewhere else.

I eventually ended up scrapping the platform entirely, backing up the data (here we go with me being paranoid about backups again), and starting over from the ground up. And now, 8 years of blog posts, comments, and random mockery lives in version 2.0 of this significantly less busted platform. I’ll go into more detail on exactly what plugin is to blame and why you should run far, far away from using it if you’re a WordPress user later. But for now, suffice it to say all things have been cleaned.

Things you’re likely to find in version 2.0:

  • Hopefully slight increase in loading speed. I’m told the site was slower to load than it should be previously. I think I’ve found and killed the cause, but I’ll be keeping an eye.
  • An online calendar, for things I’ll be up to in the near to way far off future. Because sometimes things happen that don’t get posted about. And sometimes I just need a reminder to stop freaking being lazy.
  • Several fewer plugins attached to the site. There was a bunch of extra, useless code kicking around the old version that I haven’t touched in probably a couple years. It was taking up space, and I hate things that take up space. It no longer exists.
  • Probably not noticeable to you, but I’m sure appreciating: a much smaller database. The old database was 120 MB when it was retired. The new one? Try 21 MB all told. That probably won’t last for too long, but it’s nice while it does.
  • And lastly, the option of receiving each individual post by email, rather than just the daily updates. Because on the rare occasion when I post something, it almost doesn’t seem worthwhile to wait for the single midnight update to send it to the folks what read this thing. You’ll still have that option if you want as well, but now, it doesn’t have to be the only one.

I’m still finding the occasional kink, like duplicated content that shouldn’t be duplicated. But, everyone’s here, and no one was lost in the kerfuffle, so I’ll take the duplicated content. And if it breaks too horribly, I do still have the old site on an out of the way strip of hard drive where it can’t be easily located, and it’s healthy enough to survive long enough for me to pull off whatever’s missing. All told, this has been a mighty fine way for me to flex skills I’ll need in the near future. And that leads me into my spot of personal news–which will be an entry later. For now, I’m off to sleep so’s I can finish unbreaking WordPress. But we’re up, we’re online, we’re malware free, and as soon as Google catches on I won’t have to stare at the reminder in Webmaster Tools. Now, where’d I put that other piece of code…

The day kindness stopped being politically correct. Or: What are you smoking, Calgary?

We’re heading for another winter that’s supposed to suck, according to folks, in a few ways. So it seems vaguely appropriate that this happened at the end of last winter, which also ended up sucking in a few ways. A Calgary school bus driver ended up running into a problem way too many vehicle owners get to deal with when it’s minus freezing outside. Specificly, her bus decided it’d quit with this whole starting business. Twice. The first day it happened, she shrugged it off and trusted the company she works for to send another bus. Didn’t happen, so kids were either late for school or, well, didn’t show up. So the second time it happened, she decided to show a little initiative.

Kendra Lindon, who drives for First Student Canada, said her bus wouldn’t start on Feb. 11, and dispatch told her someone else would be sent to drive the route. That never happened, and the kids were left stranded — they either missed school or were driven by parents.

When her bus failed again the next day, she was skeptical when dispatch again promised a replacement. Several other buses had also failed, and she was covering several routes, and she worried about the students waiting in the cold.

So Ms. Lindon asked another bus driver to pick up some of the students, and then took her 2005 Cadillac Escalade to pick up some others.

She picked up five kids, although she had only four seatbelts. Then she picked up another boy, one she’d known for a long time, on crutches with no hat, no gloves and just runners on in what Environment Canada confirms was -26 C wind chill. To make room for the injured boy, two of the other boys jumped into the back of her SUV, where there are no seatbelts.

Good on her, you’re probably thinking. Give the girl a raise, was roughly what I was thinking. What I wasn’t thinking, but clearly what folks over in Calgary were already heading for, was to hand that girl a good solid firing.

Look, I know there are rules for a reason. And for the most part, I agree with it. I mean I still think some of them are just plain meant to be broken, but I know the general logic behind it–not to mention, you know, a few that are just common sense. But for every rule, there has got to be at least one exception. Preferably more, because hey, rules that can’t bend are the very first to break. But here’s the thing. If I’m in her position, and I know the company didn’t actually send someone to cover my ass the last time it happened, I’m not going to be altogether inclined to just kick back and trust the company to cover my ass this time–particularly if the company already has me covering off for someone else. Okay, so they have a policy against using your personal vehicle for transportation on your regular bus route. Fine and dandy. But -26 degrees should *probably* be an exception to that rule, more or less.

After the new bus arrived, the kids thanked her profusely and Ms. Lindon drove back to her school bus, which a mechanic was just getting started. She then picked up her usual group of elementary school kids — including her son Cody — and went to her job at the school he attends, and where she works as an assistant.

While at the school, Ms. Lindon received a call from the school bus company and was told to come with her bus to the headquarters “as soon as possible,” where she was fired, because it was against company policy to pick up children in a personal vehicle. She said no one had ever told her that.

Not sure how far I’ll trust the idea that no one told her it was against policy, but hey, we can run with that for lack of anything else. Even if it was, and someone did tell her that, she’s hardly the first person to decide freezing ass cold is a valid exception to the rule against that. Hell, I’ve had bus drivers around here who’ve missed my stop completely by accident drop everyone else off where they needed to be, then drive me pretty much straight up to my front door because it was freezing freaking cold, and I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules as well. But in that case, the driver screwed up, and while I could have easily found my way back home from wherever, he decided it wasn’t worth freezing to do so. In Calgary, he very probably would have thought about that twice. But, you know, at least he didn’t use his personal vehicle. What are you smoking, Calgary?

I’m… too ‘Sexy’ for my name.

People who decide they absolutely despise their given ame aren’t exactly uncommon. Hell, people who decide to do something about it are equally not entirely all that uncommon. But some of the choices folks will come up with kind of makes you wish it were. Take Sheila, for instance. She absolutely hates her name. She’s going to court to have it changed. Her preferred one? Sexy.

“I wear Victoria’s Secret clothes all the time,” she said. “I was like, ‘Shoot, I’ll just go for Sexy.”

If that doesn’t work?

“If it’s not Sexy … then I might go for Sparkle,” Crabtree said.

And that right there is what’s wrong with the world today, kids. When you’re 15-year-old daughter, who you’d expect to be the more likely source of an idea like that, comes out and says she doesn’t have a clue what the problem is, you know someone’s taken a left turn at loony. Oh, and just in case you thought there might have been some hope for salvaging the situation… nope.

An Ohio lady legally changed her name from Sheila to Sexy in court just after 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“That was the last piece I needed for my life to feel complete, kind of like a puzzle,” Sexy Ranea Crabtree told the Daily News. “That’s all I needed, to get rid of that ugly name — thankfully I’m rid of it for good!”

The world just got a little bit more braindead. Is it too late to get off?

Once more with feeling: Default passwords are bad. Not kidding.

If you’ve been reading this thing for any amount of time, you’ll probably notice I tend to come up with all manner of very strongly worded opinions. Particularly in the neighbourhood of geek things. Like, for instance, when it comes to folks who set up a piece of hardware–like, say, a router, or a server–and decide to leave the default password in place. So your state-of-the-art Lynksys router, which you’ve had for all of 24 hours, has become a hot spot for the local script kiddy and the mass amount of software he’s employing even as I’m writing this so he can expand his porn collection–and all because, well, you didn’t follow the first rule of basic security. Change the goddamn password. That goes double if you run a website for a school district, and its default login credentials are, uh, well, only slightly above no login credentials at all.

A Texas school district is learning the hard way about website security basics. If you’d like to keep your site from being compromised, the very least you can do is reset the default login. According to a post at Hackforums, the Round Rock Independent School District of Austin, TX was using the following name and password for its admin account. (h/t to Techdirt reader Vidiot)

hacked – idiots used default login/pass

u; admin
p; admin1

Needless to say I’m not exactly world’s most qualified hacker, and if it were me on the delivering end of all of that, I figure it’d take me about a minute to gain access. Provided I was 1: doing it manually and 2: not trying very hard. I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb, here, and disprove the theory that you get what you paid for. Whatever the school district paid the folks what set up and apparently didn’t maintain the website, I’m making the offfer right here–not, you know, that I figure it’ll go anywhere, but hey. Take the amount that supposed third-party company brought in. Divide it by 2. Now, write me a check for that amount. Stick it in the mail. Upon receipt, I’ll hand you a website infinitely more secure/stable than that hot mess. No? Well, I tried. In the meantime, for the love of all things holely somebody please provide SharpSchool with a better selection of passwords. Because clearly, they’ve got approximately nothing.

In which my former employer loses its mind. Again.

Every once in a while, I actually miss working at Dell. Not necessarily because I could see myself still doing that exact same job 7 years later, but for what it was, the job was something useful. Besides, I got a ton of free software out of the deal, which never hurts. But I have a pretty good feeling if something like ended up on my desk, I probably wouldn’t be doing much in the way of, you know, working there for much longer.

There are times when big brands with “social media people” might want to teach those junior level employees to recognize that using one of the standard “scripted” answers might be inappropriate. Take, for example, if you’re Dell and a new report has come out suggesting that the NSA has pretty much compromised your servers at the BIOS level with spy bugs, then, when someone — especially a respected security guy like Martin Wismeijer — tweets at you, you don’t go with the standard scripted “sorry for the inconvenience” response. But, apparently, that’s not how Dell handled things this time (thanks to Mike Mozart for the pointer).

Nope, instead, a complaint that your server’s been bugged by the NSA before Dell handed it off to you nets you this response:

Thank you for reaching out and regret the inconvenience. Our colleagues at @dellcarespro will be able to help you out.

Okay, now, granted the only server I deal with is the one this site’s sitting on, but somehow, I’m pretty sure the guys getting paid to deal with servers for way more important reasons could probably do without the standard punt script to the Twitter version of India’s tech support queue–who very likely won’t actually be able to help anyway, and that’s if they’re even allowed to do anything other than deny the existence of any kind of NSA involvement whatsoever in the first place. But, on the bright side, no innocent customer pictures were publicised in this customer service manglement scheme…

Always read the fine print. Or the whole print.

It’s nearly (yes, okay, I know–still 4 months away) Christmas time again, so time to break out the vaguely Christmas themed posts. And by vaguely themed, I mean this little bit happened in December of last year–but, you know, life and things. A teenager in the UK was doing a little online shopping. He had his eye on an Xbox, and his mind on tossing up 450 pounds for it–just under $750 US at today’s exchange rate. Which would have been absolute awesomeness in a can, considering how quickly they were flying off the shelves at the time. Just one problem, though. The Xbox he paid for wasn’t the Xbox he received.

Despite the listing stating it was a photo of an XBox One Day One edition console, Mr Clatworthy said he’d expected to receive the console as it was listed in the video games and consoles category on eBay.

He instead received the photo in the post on Monday, with it having ‘thank you for your purchase’ written on the back.

Remember all those times people warned you to always read the fine print? Yeah. … About that. It could probably stand a few more repetitions.

I now pronounce you legally croked.

I can’t say as I’ve ever had to go cleaning up a government snafu of this variety, but two people in a short amount of time don’t get to be so lucky. In Calgary, Tamille Holloway showed up for a doctor’s appointment only to be told she wasn’t supposed to be breathing. No explanation on causes, theories, or exactly who’s ass would be in a sling for gumming up the works, but there it was. The flesh said she’s very much alive, the paperwork said not even.

Skip across the border and all the way to Ohio. Here, Donald Miller got a lesson in what happens when you decide to up and skip out on child support payments. And what happens, more or less, is the government–or your ex-wife–decides to up and have you declared dead. He was in court to try and untangle that hot mess, but as Murphy would have it, death declarations–at least in Ohio–have a statute of limitations and he’s apparently well past it.

Never let it be said that governments and exes can’t team up to put a right royal screwing to your life. We should probably aughta rewrite the expression. Hell hath no fury like a government with amnesia or an ex with a grudge. I just hope if it ever happens to me they’ll invite me to my own funeral. I mean, they’re not gonna get much out of me for benefits, so they may as well let me mourn alongside them.

The only Heartbleed left now is the NSA.

So pretty much everything exploded this week. If you were paying attention, you were probably warned not to go near things like your online banking site, or pretty damn near anything that advertises itself as having a secure connection. This is because of a pretty lethal bug in the software that provides that secure connection, in several cases, that pretty well rendered your secure connection worse than no security at all. There’s a pretty nice, if a little technical, explanation for it written up by the guys I’m paying for the use of this server, but the cliff notes version is the hole’s a few years old, and can provide someone who knows what they’re doing with access to pretty much any information stored in the memory of a server with the buggy software. So if someone knew how to take advantage of that security hole, they could potentially have access to usernames, passwords, creditcard numbers–basicly anything that happened to be in that server’s memory at the time.

There’s an updated version of that software in the wild now that plugs this security hole (note: not that anything on the server uses secure connections at the moment but I’m running that updated software now anyway), so as people get around to applying it that should be much less of a holy hell what in creation have I done kind of problem. Which is awesome, for guys like you and me. A little less awesome, though, for guys like the NSA.

The internet is still reeling from the discovery of the Heartbleed bug, and yesterday we wondered if the NSA knew about it and for how long. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that the agency did indeed know about Heartbleed for at least the past two years, and made regular use of it to obtain passwords and data.

While it’s not news that the NSA hunts down and utilizes vulnerabilities like this, the extreme nature of Heartbleed is going to draw more scrutiny to the practice than ever before. As others have noted, failing to reveal the bug so it could be fixed is contrary to at least part of the agency’s supposed mission:

Ordinary Internet users are ill-served by the arrangement because serious flaws are not fixed, exposing their data to domestic and international spy organizations and criminals, said John Pescatore, director of emerging security trends at the SANS Institute, a Bethesda, Maryland-based cyber-security training organization.

“If you combine the two into one government agency, which mission wins?” asked Pescatore, who formerly worked in security for the NSA and the U.S. Secret Service. “Invariably when this has happened over time, the offensive mission wins.”

So when the smoke clears, the NSA will have at least a little bit less access to John Q. User’s data–at least until they end up mandating another hole in some other layer of security software. But until then, it looks like the fine folks at stalker central will end up being the only ones dealing with a case of heartbleed when it’s all done and dusted. Now if it was only that easy to switch off the exploits they helped introduce.

In which tech failures happen in 3’s.

Things have a tendency of getting all kinds of eventful up in here. Particularly when they don’t *really* need to be. If it’s not family making, breaking, remaking, switching up and then completely forgetting about plans in the span of 5 minutes, or things bouncing in just about every direction except the one you want them to go on the education front, it’s technology conspiring to do all manner of screwing with your head, and your whatever you were planning to use that technology for. And because epic failings must be had in 3’s for reasons no one can figure out, when the fun gets going, everyone gets a turn.

My warning was the laptop. I’ve had it for it’ll be 2 years about now, and the only problem I’ve ever had with it was a failing fan. I knew the fan was going for several months, but could never find a place where I had the time, the energy and the money at the same time so it could be delt with. When I had the time and/or energy, there were financial things needing to be shoved out of the way before they came round to bite us in the ass. I actually delayed my run at college by a bit in hopes I could put together all 3 in a reasonable amount of time, or that it’d sort itself out and we’d be golden in time for classes to actually start. It looked like it was gonna do exactly that, and things were falling into place for me to start the course I’m in the middle of now, so I was starting to breathe a little teeny tiny bit easier about it. It could hold out long enough for us to get hands on money, which should come just before the Christmas break, we were thinking. Which would have been amazing timing, if it had worked out that way. School’s out, send the laptop off for repairs, hopefully have it back maybe a week after school gets back in session in the new year. And just when I was comfortable with that plan in theory, the thing gave out completely. Two days before class started, and if I’m lucky I could get the thing to give me half an hour before it shut down to avoid overheating. Well now. There goes careful planning.

I should have probably taken that as a sign that I maybe aught to just back everything up on every machine I own, stick it somewhere central like, and hold out until I could replace the equipment wholesale. While I was dealing with the laptop, I was seeing signs my desktop, also known as the primary machine I use for pretty much anything heavy, wasn’t gonna be much longer for this world. It hasn’t gotten critical yet, but it’s inexplicably shut down on me a few times, I’ve seen pretty freaking unrecoverable blue screens more often than I’d like, and it’s having to work harder at doing things I know it could do without breaking a sweat not entirely all that long ago. This one, at least, I could more easily expect. It’s given me 7 years, and a lot of wicked heavy usage–most of this site was born out of that machine, for starters. It’s not completely toast yet, but I’m not liking its chances for seeing its 8th year. Plus, it runs Windows XP still and, well, let’s be honest–while the machine could probably easily run 7 instead (it shipped with Vista initially), I’d just be replacing it shortly anyway. So before it puts me in the same situation the laptop just tried to, it’s on its way out. Bright side: the machine I’m replacing it with actually has a little bit better specs. I’d be slightly jealous, if I wasn’t just told I could take it for myself.

I mentioned things happening in 3’s, and did they ever. The first sort of warning I got that made me think the desktop might be in slightly worse shape than it turns out it is had actually more to do with the external drives I keep connected to it. I do a lot of things with music, TV shows, movies and the like. So I keep some pretty large external drives around–unless you wanna get fancy, a lot of what I plan to collect won’t fit on your average internal drive. At one point I had 3 connected, and was talking about adding a 4th down the road. Across those 3, I had quite a few years of music, videos, backups from other drives, random things that I hadn’t gotten around to sort and put where they should be. So basicly a crap ton of stuff. Two of those drives flirted with failure of the highest order. And one of them needed two attempts before it finally just irreparably met its maker. I managed to pull most of what I needed off the drives before they went, and can get my hands on the rest once I figure out what needs to be gotten and then remember where I got it from the first time. But the way they were readying to go lead me to believe maybe the desktop was on its way out quicker than I’d like it to be. The drives would show up for a while, then either I couldn’t actually access one, or the other would disappear entirely. But I could plug them both into another machine and at least mostly do what I needed to. So that was a thing to deal with–particularly given if the desktop had went as quickly as I was expecting, I still didn’t have the laptop back and fixed so that might have slightly caused problems.

So now, the laptop’s mostly working as it should, the desktop’s on its way to being replaced and I’ll be needing to rebuild my video library. Again. All told, not entirely too bad for a season or two in the life of a semi-crazed geek. And I should be relatively clear of tech issues for a good while. I wouldn’t say no to another 7 years of mostly smooth operation. And hey, maybe by then I’ll be doing something that actually allows me to pull a wad of cash out of my wallet and emergency replace pretty much everything that has ever come apart on me on 24 hours’ notice. Hey, a geek can dream, can’t he? But in the meantime, I suppose I should go reformat my brain. This forecasts to be another intensely crazed week on the education front–which I should probably actually write about before I’m completely done with it. Eh, maybe in the spring.

Honest officer, I’m not growing weed. Smoking it, however…?

I’m starting to think maybe Tim Marczenko would have had an easier time of it if he’d just admitted to going for a stroll through a Durham area forest to check up on how his pot plants were doing. Sure it might have landed him in maybe a little stretch of legal hot water, but it probably wouldn’t have made him come off quite so much as though he’d maybe been enjoying a little too much of the end result. Instead, he took a sort of different path. He played the searching for Bigfoot card.

A Toronto man claims he was harassed for walking through thick brush in Durham region by a police officer who accused him of being a pot grower.

Tim Marczenko denies the claim, saying he wasn’t growing dope, he was investigating sightings of Bigfoot.

“He asked me, ‘What are you doing out here?’ I told him I was investigating a Bigfoot report and he said, ‘Wow, you’re a terrible liar,’ ” said Mr. Marczenko. ” ‘I know it sounds crazy but I’m not lying about it,’ I said. He kept telling me I was lying about the situation.”

Funny thing, that Bigfoot line, Tim. Couple guys used that one before you. They’ve probably got court dates coming up here shortly if they haven’t had them already. It’s almost like you folks up and got your fix from the same place…

Copyright strikes again. Same guy, same download, 3 lawsuits. Who’s taking bets?

I can’t even laugh at Comcast for this, because surprisingly, while it’s definitely a broken, broken thing, it’s not actually *their* broken, broken thing. For a change. A copyright monitoring agency (or, as I like to think of them, undiscovered copyright troll) discovered the IP address of a Comcast customer was attached to a torrent they were spying on. So they turned around and sued the as yet unknown owner of that IP address for copyright infringement. Then, because why not, they sued him again. And again, for good measure. Because the same IP address showed up 3 times, somebody decided there aughta be just as many suits. Or, as the still unidentified defendant in the things figures…

Torrent Freak and the defendant speculate that he was sued three times in the hopes nobody would notice, thereby increasing the chance of getting a subpoena from at least one of the three Judges.

Sorry, DSL Reports, but had to minorly edit the section I quoted—-the plaintiff was probably speculating, but more likely on how to screw the unknown sucker over a little more. Oh, and, should probably appologise to the plaintiff too while I’m at it–all 3 suits ended up before the same judge. If any one of them had a chance on their own, the 3 of them together more than likely pretty much just sunk. Unless the judge is a completely brainless idiot, which now that I think about it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Okay, forget I said a word. Sooner or later, I’d like to think, copyright folks will learn…

H2O is wicked evil dangerous! Related: the US education system strikes again.

I know, old story is old. But on April Fool’s Day, the last thing you probably want to be known for is being a town full of fools. Which probably means the last thing you want to do is flip your everloving lid when a couple of morning show DJ’s make the announcement that dihydrogen monoxide has been reportedly leaking from area taps and residents should use caution. And yet, in fort Myers this past April, the locals up and did exactly that, with the station they were on immediately and indefinitely suspending the DJ’s in question for broadcasting that water has been detected in the city’s water supply. And there was at one point discussion of possible felony charges for calling in a false water quality issue–further cementing that the administration in the fort Myers area is officially no more qualified to run the city than any of the folks happening to have called the thing in. Folks, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yes, even people who’ve been put through the US education system. And then some fool or fools go off and pull one of these and all that doubt just kind of takes off in that there other direction. I mean I get these two got all technical fancy on you. And sure, okay, they maybe aughta not do that, or maybe be a little more gentle about it–you’re new to all this, I can see. But isn’t that why folks like the guys at Google invented things like, you know, Google? When in doubt, look it up. Or better yet, take 5 seconds and glance at the calendar already. And for the sake of all things sane, don’t dare let any of that dihydrogen monoxide get anywhere near you–it may very well impair what’s left of your otherwise amazingly good judgement, and well, we just can’t have that. You’ve already been doing so well.

In Terrorland, quoting Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a problem.

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten around to mocking the US’s nervous twitch when it comes to anything that has the slightest potential to come within a solar system of terrorism. Thank you so very much, Techdirt, for saving me from withdrawal and giving me this.

First, from the increasingly stupid United States of America, a story of how a teen’s life got flip-turned upside down. You see, he was just on the playground where he spent most of his days, minding his own business. You know, chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool and sometimes with this friends he liked to be shooting some b-ball outside of the school.

WAIT. DID HE JUST SAY SHOOT AND SCHOOL IN THE SAME SENTENCE? ARREST HIM! Once you’re done laughing, know that that’s exactly what happened to 19-year old Travis Clawson because a doctor’s office called his voicemail to confirm an appointment, heard the above line, thought he was shooting people outside the school and called cops. Who arrested him first, then spent the 20 seconds it takes to realize it’s the theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. No word on whether Carlton showed up to dance and everyone laughed at him.

Once you’ve had time to properly reorient your brain, I’ll let you consider this for a minute. Let’s assume, just for the sake of argument, the receptionist what made the phone call was… how can I put it… TV stupid. Let’s also assume, being that she’s TV stupid, she’s not once even by accident overheard that damn theme song. Can probably also assume she’s got a bit of a hearing issue, but I’ll let you decide to make that leap all by your lonesome. The Techdirt article takes the position that this could have probably been resolved by about a minute and a half of questioning. I’m going to take things slightly further–say, saving the cops the driving time. Receptionist has this guy’s phone number. gave the info to the cops, obviously. So, uh, rather than lock down an entire school district to find one innocent 19-year-old who *isn’t* TV stupid, why not just call the kid’s cell? You know, actually hear–and maybe record–the voicemail greeting for yourself. Then you, without having to leave the comfort of your own office, can decide he’s quoting TV theme song lyrics and that’ll just be that right quick. Of course this is probably also why I wouldn’t cut it in law enforcement, the blind guy thing notwithstanding.

Also: 3 hours to search a locker? Tell me it required congressional approval and to take the kid to a secure facility so he can hand out the combination code. Please?

Rob Ford gets the remix treatment. I may or may not still be snickering.

So. When you’ve escentially been cornered and forced to admit to smoking crack by way of every single one of your denials blowing up in your face, you pretty much can’t go any lower, right? Of course not. It’s when your public life, scandalous as it might be, becomes the very material worthy of a snerkwhile remix that you pretty much can’t go any lower. See also: Rob Ford yesterday, versus Rob Ford today. Very quite probably the best kind of spin ever put on a Rob Ford the Crackmayor story. And I didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It’s not embedded, so RSS and email types should have no problem grabbing it. stream and/or download the thing at will–I don’t think it’s covered under copyright.

Hat tip to KiSS 92.5, who actually put this thing together. I only wish I coulda been there for the mashing.

Update: And right on the heels of this one, a remix of Ford’s crack confession hits Youtube. This one’s an embed, unfortunately, so if you’re reading this by way of RSS or email you’ll need to click over to the site and smack play. but it just might be worth it. You may suck as Toronto’s mayor, but you’ve got a future in what passes for modern music, Rob old chap.

You know your skills are in demand when…

So. I mentioned once or twice my end goal being putting the geek abilities that result in, among other things, the existence of this website on paper. Someone asked me once what I’d use as an indication the skills I’m looking to prove I have and expand on are ones that would be in reasonably–meaning reasonable enough to pay for–demand. Until recently, I wasn’t entirely sure–beyond the fact that just about every organization of just about every size needs IT help these days, even if some of the smaller ones tend to outsource those needs to someone not actually covered by them. And then, the media handed me a benchmark. Thanks, Dawson College.

A student who used to attend that school found a bit of a flaw in their information portal. That flaw made it possible for anyone who’s anyone to get their hands on student information that didn’t need to be gotten hold of by anyone who’s anyone. The student brought it to the attention of the school and the company who developed the software they use. As thanks for his efforts, the school expelled him. contrast that with the folks what developed the software–who had the option of charging him for trying to hack their software, and instead offered him a job. Measurement of demand established. That it had the grannies over at the Globe and Mail sticking their necks out so the folks over at Techdirt could lop it off at the shoulders is what ya call an added bonus.

My end goal is to walk away from my education with the ability to do escentially what this student accomplished. It helps that the college I’m staring at seems to be a little more with the times–hell, their website is entirely powered by wordPress. And if the job postings that end up landing in my lap aren’t evidence enough I’ll be able to at least get people to talk to me when I can put this junk on paper, the fact the guys he supposedly broke the law to help out didn’t see it that way and wanted to pay the man just about solidifies it. If nothing else, it decreases the likelyhood of my being expelled for trying. That counts for something, at least…

How to confuse the automated bus stop announcement system: fall hopelessly behind schedule.

If you’ve spent any time in Ottawa at all, you’ve probably had reason to step foot on its public transit system. If you’ve done so at any point since somewhere around 2010, you’ve more than likely gotten to experience their automated stop announcements. Occasionally, as good as the system is, it’s been known to take a day or two off. At first, I just figured it was temporarily being unstable. Tap the driver on the shoulder, tell him/her it needs a swift kick, it eventually sorts itself out. Now, I’m thinking maybe a small part of the problems might be related to a tiny handful of confusion. Specificly, I sincerely wonder if maybe the system just hasn’t got the slightest idea where the driver is in relation to where he should be and eventually just says “Screw you, bud. You’re on your own.”. After tonight, if someone from OC Transpo were to hand me that kind of explanation, I’d probably buy it.

We were coming back home from grabbing a couple things. One of the buses we were supposed to catch was supposed to be to the stop we were at by a little after 6. We’d planned our trip home escentially with that in mind, figuring okay, a little over maybe 45 minutes later and we’d be home and have most of the crap we brought with us put away. Awesome. That still gave me time to catch the start of hockey–priorities, you know. The bus that was supposed to show up at we’ll call it 6:10 didn’t show up at 6:10. It did, however, show up at 6:30. Also known as about 9 minutes before the one we’d pretty much resigned ourselves to waiting for. Annoying, but you deal. We caught it, got comfortable, and crawled our way away from the stop at something a little bit more than a snail’s pace.

We’ve suffered slow drivers before. Not quite 20 minutes late slow drivers, but definitely the slow type. That’s nothing entirely too irritating on the surface. May and I noticed the stops weren’t actually being announced. Okay, a little more annoying, but the system’s been known to sort itself out after a while. Besides we were stopping so damn often we both had a fairly accurate read on where abouts we were to begin with. Still not entirely too concerning. About 3/4 the way to where we needed to get off, I got up and tapped the driver on the shoulder. Told him the system needed a swift kick.

If you’re a bus driver and you’re reading this, here’s a hint from a guy that sometimes relies on the automated stop announcements. When a guy that sometimes relies on the automated announcements taps you on the shoulder and lets you know the automated announcements aren’t actually announcing, the correct answer is not, in fact, “they’re coming through just fine.”. Yes, the guy we had behind the wheel here tried that. He got the snarky equivalent of no not really. I’m not entirely sure what if anything he actually did, except whatever he did made the announcement system repeat what it thought was the stop the bus was coming up to. Only one problem. The stop it announced was both very much behind us and at the very beginning of this bus’s route. And that was the only time we heard the system go off for the rest of the trip until we changed buses 20 minutes later (it should have taken 10).

Buses that were running the same route we were on were passing us like we were standing still. I can’t be entirely sure the driver ever actually managed to not be behind schedule even after we got off. I can be slightly more sure we just found an easy way to accidentally confuse the hell out of an automated system. And all it took was falling hopelessly behind schedule. Somebody somewhere really aughta file themselves a bug report…

At least the NSA knows where its info is. Human Resources Canada? Not so much.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware the NSA’s having a heart attack over Edward Snowden and what he’s already handed over to reporters–nevermind what he could still hand over to reporters now that they and the UK have stepped things up a knotch. Whether you agree with Snowden or the NSA, at least you can give the NSA that they know exactly where their info is, who’s got access to it, and what they’re doing with it. Our federal human resources regulators, on the other hand? They know it’s out there somewhere.

A lost USB key may have potentially exposed the personal information of about five thousand canadians.

An employee at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada lost the memory device back in November.

The department says there’s no hard evidence that the USB stick had been used for any fraudulent purposes.

The federal privacy watchdog is investigating.

Personally I’d almost rather it be our version of the Snowden soap opera, but hey, whatever works. Of note, though, I don’t see anyone standing up to charge the former owner of that USB key with aiding the enemy, or any other brand of treason under the sun. I do have to guess someone’s officially got a new job by now, however. Hopefully not working for RBC.

Hell hath no fury like an insurance company misinformed.

Things I didn’t know: Manitoba’s car insurance is government run. More things I didn’t know: Manitoba’s government-run car insurance company can mysteriously and based on no actual confirmation accidentally declare you dead. A mighty fine way of getting out of work, or paying your taxes, or showing up for jury duty. But if you’re George Johannesen and intending to take a trip stateside, being dead can tend to have a rather cancelling effect.

The paperwork he received from MPI last week was addressed to “The Estate of George Johannesen” and informed him his drivers’ license had been cancelled the previous month. Since then, he’s apparently been driving without a valid license.

For a dead guy, that wouldn’t pose a problem. But Johannesen is still very much alive.

His enhanced drivers’ license also allowed him to enter the U.S. He won’t be able to make it down there now — he was thinking he might visit during the holidays.

Bright side: if ever he wanted to make damn sure his employer meant what they said with regards death benefits…

Because who needs building codes, anyway?

Beautiful thing about those there developing countries. Development isn’t just restricted to their economy. their regulations are also up for negotiation. So if you play the right cards and/or know the right people, you can get in on the ground floor of even that platform. What does that mean? Well, lack of common sense is perfectly excuseable, for one. It becomes perfectly fine to say you didn’t know you needed fire exits. Or even a decent sprinkler system. I mean–everything will take care of itself, right? People know how they got in–they can get out just as well. Well, except for when the 3 extra floors you probably shouldn’t have built come back to bite them, but who’s counting? Clearly not the two Bangladeshi business owners and one from Brazil who figured this was an awesome idea. I wonder who a guy’s gotta sleep with to land a gig like that. I could use the money. Building codes? So 90’s.

Piracy, with a side of malware.

I’m one of the many who’ve followed pretty much every one of Demonoid’s attempts at rebirth after a shutdown for copyright or other reasons, so when I saw a notice from some very generous members of Demonoid’s community that said they were bringing the service back as Demonoid2 or D2, I was more than a little curious. And more than a little teeny tiny bit skeptical. Apparently, with good reason–for the few minutes it was actually online, it was malware. But, because it amused me anyway, have the email I received in its barely edited entirety (links need fixing, y’know). If you got a similar email and thought about doing the clicky clicky, 1: good on you for not (you didn’t, right?). And 2: it’s deader than dead now, so clicking on it’s safe. Where safe = “This page cannot be displayed”. And now, because I can, the “Welcome to your new Demonoid!!!!!” email.

Sent: May 8, 2013 12:25 AM
To: my@email.removed (I hate spam)
Subject: Demonoid rises from the ashes at last

Dear Demonoid Community Member,

We have all read the same news stories: The Demonoid servers shut down and seized in the Ukraine. The Demonoid admin team detained in Mexico. The domain snatched and put up for sale. The Demonoid trackers back online in Hong Kong, but then disappearing.

We all wanted to believe that Demonoid would be resurrected once again; but it seems that these events have spelled the end of Demonoid as we have always known it. We all waited to see if Demonoid would return, though its now clear that this time its really gone.

Now for some good news: The heart and soul of Demonoid lives on! Through an amazing sequence of unlikely events, the data on those Ukrainian servers has made its way into the safe hands of members of our community and has now been re-launched as

Invitations to return are being sent out only to existing Demonoid members, which is the reason you have received this email. For the foreseeable future will remain a semi-private site and no new invitations to join will be issued until we are certain that the system is stable. To login, click here and authenticate using your old Demonoid username and password.

Demonoid may be gone, but the community lives on at d2! Welcome home!


I’ve been outsmarted by educational stupidity.

This has been sitting over here since October, because I just, honest to goodness, could not find an appropriate way to mock the hell out of it. Even now, I’m having trouble stringing together a post that adequately describes the level of stupid that pours out of this article. This hot little mess has managed, I have no idea how, to overpower my ability for mockery. And all it took was a school teacher, an iTunes account and a topless photo of–I’m going to guess–herself to do it.

Because in 2012-2013 all the cool kids are doing it, a school in Anderson Indiana has taken to issuing iPads for staff and, presumedly, student use. At some point, this particular school teacher came into possession of–or, more than likely, was involved in the creation of–a neck-down photo minus a shirt. I’m guessing the photo was of this teacher, but the article isn’t altogether clear on that part. This teacher, at some point after that photo came into existence, had the school iPad at home for whatever reason. When it came back to the school, that photo was on it. And when some of her students, who presumedly had entirely legal and not quite so pornographic/sexual reasons for making use of the iPad, came across this photo, they were suspended.

And the common sense part of my brain just caught fire. I get 0 tolerence. I don’t think 0 tolerence is overly helpful, but I get the idea behind it. And I get the idea behind a school taking a position this one did on illegal or at least otherwise questionable images in the hands of kids. But, see, here’s the thing. The kids didn’t exactly go out and capture this image themselves–either from the wider internet or snapping the shot directly. That much was already easily established. And yet, rather than firing the teacher who stuck the image on a school issued iPad, they suspended the students who found it. And in so doing, very quickly proved a match for my ability to properly lable the stupid.

It’s entirely possible the teacher didn’t know what she was doing, or maybe didn’t quite grasp the notion that when she hooked a school issued iPad up to her computer, with her iTunes account and other such info on that computer, she would more than likely be syncing everything she’d normally have on her own iThing to the school’s iPad. That wouldn’t be a far stretch to make–Apple’s rules for what will and won’t sync depending are more than a little convoluted at times. But if anyone should be nailed for it under a 0 tolerence policy, you’d think–be it intentional or not–the teacher would be the one to buy it. But then, this is probably why you don’t work for this particular school. At least we can hope the teacher will be just a tad bit more careful next time. Or, in Andersonspeak, maybe now those kids’ll know better than to go looking at random pictures on a school iPad. Yeah, that doesn’t work for me either.

Friends don’t let friends rent from Paramount Properties, part 2: this is not the apartment you’re looking for.

This is the second in a series of posts on why Paramount Properties in general, and Greenbank towers in particular, is bad for you. If you’re contemplating a move to Ottawa, or moving from somewhere within Ottawa, this company should be avoided at all costs. For more information, beyond what will be in these entries, just ask.

Moving into a new place is hardly ever fun. there’s the making sure you didn’t leave anything behind in the old place–I’ve done that about half a dozen times already, the making sure you’re not having to chase half your services all over the countryside and then some, the criss-crossing–and, subsequently, the uncrossing–of just about every scheduling wire known to exist, and all this before the first week of your move is over with. The last thing most people want to be adding to their laundry list of moving related foolery is the nailing down of your property manager so you can therefore nail down an equally lengthy list of problems with the new place that need to be addressed–especially when most of it was supposed to have been addressed, or scheduled to be addressed, already. That was us, at around the beginning of October.

the fun actually started before the official moving day, although most of that fun was–surprisingly–out of the property manager’s hands. Before we could move in to the new place, the guy what lived there needed to get his crap and get out. Problem: he had no bloody idea when he’d be doing exactly that. He’d give the manager one date, then change his mind a day or two later. So actually finalizing things was a bit of an exercise in migraine. Still, we knew there’d be problems with the apartment–mostly because we were warned the guy what lived there before us had absolutely no problem whatsoever with not, you know, looking after the place.

When we went in to see the place, to say it was a bit of a war zone was putting it nicely. The door to our storage room was off its frame, and leaning against the wall inside the storage room. Several–meaning most–of the light switches were missing outright their fixtures. there was a hole in the wall of one of the bedrooms. Closet doors were damaged. The screen to our patio was off. The place needed desperately to be painted (that part they told us before we moved in). The list goes on. We were told, before we even moved in, that either before we moved in or shortly after, the property manager would get someone in there to fix things up. Promised, even, that yes, manager lady knew it’d be a wicked hot mess, and it’d be taken care of pronto. It’s why we had no problem signing paperwork, and making arangements so that when, finally, the place was actually vacated, we could move our crap in.

Due to the nature of how things ended up happening, we didn’t get moved in until the day before someone else was scheduled to move in to the old place. So naturally, they didn’t have a whole heaping helping of time to go on a fixy fixy binge before we got our hands on the place. Not helped by anything was the fact when the guy what used to live there took off, he took the keys for the place with him–so priority numero uno became let’s make it so we can actually, you know, lock the place when we leave. That part, at least, we didn’t need to go chasing a fix for–swap out the locks, bring the lock from the old apartment down to the new one, replace the lock on the old unit, bing bam boom have a lock see ya later. It was the rest of it that we got to go fishing for.

The day after we moved everything in, I went to the rental office myself. Here’s the laundry list, in its finalized form. You said it was bad, you were right–this is how bad. They’d get someone in this week, manager lady told me. As soon as humanly possible, but we’ve had a lot of moves, she said, so you might need to wait a bit. We waited a bit. The week, if we’re being honest. No one came knocking. we still had a hole in the wall. We still had no storage room door. Oh–and we found a couple more surprises to add to the list, which was done when I went to ask manager lady why that list hadn’t been touched yet. I got much the same, complete with an I’m sorry I thought it was done already, and she’d have it taken care of this week, as soon as possible but definitely this week. Not holding my breath, and the thought starting to nibble at the outer edge of my mind that we’re kind of pushing the boundaries of legal territory (keep in mind, by this time we’d started speaking with a lawyer due to the last episode), we were prepared to have this drag out until we found somewhere else to move to–we’d started looking pretty much by this point as well, largely as a result of part 1. The money we paid into that place, and it looked almost like someone decided to throw a going away party, then went away before the cleanup crew got there to bill them.

A second week went by. No repair person. No phone call about a repair person. Supposedly the repair person was telling folks he’d been by, but the state of the apartment said no he damn well hadn’t. This time, manager lady was prodded in writing. We got the same general response back. Now, this *was* getting into legal territory. Legally, the landlord has about 2 weeks to address any concerns or issues with the apartment after a move. They were pushing three. And in writing, that was pointed out to them. Once again, repair person would be by this week, as soon as possible. No, that wasn’t going to work. Not unless there was going to be issues upon issues. Repair person was going to be by no later than the next day, or holy hell would there be issues upon issues.

Repair person indeed *was* by the next day. And, much to my shock and amazement, most of what was there actually did get fixed. Somewhat. We had a door to the storage room again. We had working closets. He had to replace the screen for the patio–but we had a screen for the patio. We still had a hole in the wall, but he did come back later on to fix that. Oh, and proper light switches for a change. Well, mostly. He ended up not fixing a few of them, as we’d find out later on, but by then we’d just given up on the whole idea. The place still hadn’t been repainted, which was the one thing they wanted to do shortly after we moved in–because, they told us, this is what they do with all their units in between tennants and if they had the time, it would be done already. And there were still a few things on that list that just generally went untouched, but again, we’d given up with chasing them for it. We were done with this hot mess, whether it was done with us or not. As it turns out, that was probably the smartest move we’d made since this entire soap opera started–we’d see proof of that shortly after we’d moved everything out of that unit.

Paramount Properties, and Greenbank Towers, talked up a good game. But where it came time to translate that into actually getting things done, they passed the buck, dragged their feet, and generally just put off what, at the end of the day, we were paying them for. If they even had documentation that said we were in there to have these things addressed, almost no one read it–confirmation came again after we moved everything out, and will be explored in another entry. They’ll tell you what you’re hoping to hear, show you a sample of the things you’re looking for. But after you sign the papers and everything’s settled, Paramount Properties is not the apartment you’re looking for. In a future entry, Paramount finally starts to show us what they’re all about, for real–and we get the feeling we’re not *really* as welcome as they tell you you are. But as for now, two very good reasons to maybe bump Paramount Properties down a knotch or 5 on your list of possible living arangements. You can, and should, do much better. I’ll even give suggestions, if asked. No one running a business this shot deserves your, or anyone else’s, money. Not even sweet-talking ones.

Friends don’t let friends rent from Paramount Properties, part 1: The Rent Kerfuffle.

This is the first in a series of posts on why Paramount Properties in general, and Greenbank towers in particular, is bad for you. If you’re contemplating a move to Ottawa, or moving from somewhere within Ottawa, this company should be avoided at all costs. For more information, beyond what will be in these entries, just ask.

I’ve been around the block a time or three when it comes to apartment shopping in Ottawa. Almost always, the top 5 includes at least one building from Paramount Properties. Everything about them from the outside looking in sets off at least a dozen awesome alarms. The places are usually fairly decent, the staff will usually let you play 20 questions, it’s kind of like you’re dropping in to say hello to a friend. Then you go and move in.

Due to situations with the former roommate, I had to go on a hunt for an apartment in July of last year. Due to some very interesting cock-ups by that self-same former roommate after becoming my former roommate, there suddenly became an opening. It was sharing an apartment in Greenbank towers, a property owned and maintained by Paramount. I moved over there, with May, at the end of August. We’d already made arangements to move at the end of September into a larger apartment (she had a one-bedroom at the time), and the folks over there seemed perfectly fine to go about the idea. About a week after I moved in, things got nifty.

Paramount Properties allows you, like most places do, to set up preauthorised debit for your rent–the better not to have to chase down your landlord with your hand out and beg them to find 2 minutes to take your money, my dear. For 3 months, that system worked as designed. From June, right through August (remember, May had this place before I moved over), there be no problem. Come time for September, there be problems. Rent is due on the first, and usually comes out by then. It being we were dealing with a weekend and labour day and the like, we expected to maybe see it come out a little later. So by about September 6, it still hadn’t come out. We go tap on the property manager–the second one in a year, but I’ll get to that in another entry. “Hey, manager lady? Take your rent, please.” “We’ll take it,” she tells us. “Holiday and whatnot. It’ll come out, promise.”

We give it until around the 10th or 11th. Tap tap tap. “Hey, manager lady? You still haven’t taken our rent.” “It’ll come out. Give it a bit.” “Look. We have it. It’s like right here. Paying you will take 45 seconds. Then it’s done.” “We’ll take it out. Just what with the holiday and all. Give it a bit longer.”

It’s the 15th of September, by this point. Legally, we’re now officially late with the rent. Not a good place to be, if you’re us and in the middle of a lease and not planning on packing up and moving right the bloody hell now and three quarters. We’re getting a little bit twitchy. We go back to the rental office. “Okay. Look. It’s been two weeks. We’re staring at the prospect of being branded late. Take. Our. Goddamn. Rent.” “Yall have automatic debit. It’ll happen. Put your bank card away–we’ll take it. I’m on the phone with the guys what handle that today.”

By this time, we have school things starting up, so our time, energy and money is about to be diverted to much more fun and interesting prospects. Of course, by this time, tuition money hasn’t come in just yet, so part of that diverting is to invent varying degrees of financial creativity so as not to end up needing to slap a deferral on top of everything else education. We gave up trying to prod the landlord at this point. They’d either take it, or they wouldn’t. And if they didn’t, it would become part of the diversion–they’d just have to wait their bloody turn, now. We had things to do, and just ran out of time to sit on a property manager. So we up and went about our business for the rest of the month. No word from Paramount. We paid what needed paying at the beginning of October. We paid the rent on the new place in the beginning of October–I’ll get to the issues with the new place in yet another entry. We didn’t set the new place up for automatic debit, given the issues we ran into in September–which hadn’t yet been resolved by then, so to avoid a double payment coming back to bite us later, just no thank you please. That was done. No mention of the rent for September, which we still didn’t see come out. We weren’t bringing it up again, and neither did they. So the rent money went temporarily to tuition.

First two weeks of October, we didn’t hear a word. We were getting things sorted out for school, and getting ready to head out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend. Chasing a landlord who we’d previously offered to pay was not exactly up there on our priority list. So we did what we did and would circle around to that hot mess later. Except they circled around to us first. And, on the 15th of October, they started making noises about rent we hadn’t paid. Not rent we’d offered to pay and they’d asked us to wait on–but rent we hadn’t paid. The back and forth went on over the phone initially, with Paramount deciding on the 15th that yes, we owed rent, and yes, we’d pay at least half of it right then and there. Being not made of money, being that the month was half over, and being that we had school to pay for, oh–and being that we’d already made several attempts to pay them, we didn’t have that money handy right then and there (see: schooling, paying for). And this is around when we learned our property manager had amnesia.

The conversation started out innocent enough. Just calling to let you know we don’t have your rent for September, all that lovely stuff. We asked what happened to Paramount taking it out of the account. They tried and couldn’t, says manager lady. Maybe we should get hold of our bank, just in case something went sideways on their end. Hey–it’s happened before, so I was willing to give Paramount the benefit of doubt. That, was a mistake. In the span of about 10 minutes, we learned 3 things. Thing the first: your bank logs *everything* under the sun–whether it’s a successful something under the sun or not, so if John Q. cheapy says he up and tried charging your face off, and he did actually up and try charging your face off, the bank can usually tell you he tried–and why he didn’t succeed. Thing the second: The folks over at Paramount aren’t very good liars–they didn’t do a damn thing, and it showed after the afore mentioned 10 minutes (to cover our asses, we called a second time with pretty identical results). Thing the third: It’s been an aweful goddamn long time since I’ve had to, but I can still call someone out left and right if and when I need to–especially if you’re gonna decide today’s an awesome day to screw with me.

So it’s back to Paramount we went. Hey, lady? Yeah. About that problem at the bank. Feed me another one. Then, it got interesting. She still insisted there was a problem taking rent out in September. I should probably point out none of the info changed since August–when they were perfectly capable of making money disappear. She still insisted that we pay at least half of it right then and there (see also: money, not made of), and wasn’t entirely all too excited about the prospect of backing down from that–or being told that she’d get rent money whenever we get tuition, since the former had to go to cover the latter and, since they weren’t altogether too concerned with taking the former when it was due, they could damn well wait now. But the really fun part’s what happened next. Like it was a thing she practiced in the mirror that morning, and completely with a straight face, she said we should have made alternate arangements to have rent paid in September. Now, I’m gonna let you stop right here and go read a couple paragraphs up. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

May and I both thought she might have been smoking something. We both explained to her, more than once, that we tried paying the thing directly–in bloody september. And, taking care that our poor manager may be suffering the early onset of amnesia or something, we reminded her that we approached her in september on a few occasions to pay the thing manually. We reminded her that she up and said no. repeatedly. We reminded her we persisted. And, we reminded her she still said no. She was highly uninterested in hearing any of it–going so far as to say we knew this needed to be paid, and this was our responsibility. Uh. Yeah? Whatcha think we were trying to do, here, chicken little? We certainly tried not to keep our money.

It got to the point where property manager wanted a sitdown with myself, May, her, and her manager. Both she and her manager were still under the mistaken impression they’d be getting money from us. Since now we were over a month late, and we weren’t overly large fans of what we were apparently heading into, before we did anything else we decided to go legal. Not full on legal, per say. But lawyers were contacted, advice was saught, and decisions were made. We put everything in writing, in an email to the folks at Paramount–specificly, to the property manager with a copy sent to her manager. We explained this is what we were told, this is what we responded with. We were told to wait, we offered to pay it manually, and we were still told to wait. Repeatedly. And it was explained to them that, on the advice of a lawyer, we wouldn’t be attending that there sitdown meet and greet. Oh, and by the way, you’d still be getting your rent money as soon as tuition funds come in and not a minute sooner, but thanks for trying.

They backed down almost immediately after getting that email–only mentioning the outstanding rent once, at the beginning of November, and being pointed right back to the email we sent them (see also: amnesia, suspected). And, when tuition funds came in later on in November, we gladly went back down to the rental office, and this time, manually paid the damn rent. But by then, they’d cluster fucked the situation so badly that we weren’t entirely sure they wouldn’t pull something similar in 6 months. Any trust, any professional level of respect, that might have been there beforehand was shot. They got crooked, and when they were called on it, they got greedy. And when they were called on that, they doubled down–there was no room whatsoever for the possibility they screwed this one. They flopped, then tried pinning the blame for the flop on us.

That wasn’t all that lead to us deciding not only to never rent from this company again, but to make as many people aware of this company’s business practices as humanly possible. But, it was a mighty fine start. And by the time anything else happened, we’d already decided we weren’t sticking around there any longer than we had to. In the next, hopefully not quite as lengthy entry, another significant contributing factor. How to ruin a professional relationship in 30 days–by not actually dooing your job.