Companies who do right by customers

Despite my nickname as “Bootleg Jane“, when I find a company that earns my trust, I stick by them i.e. I buy products from there. A case (or two) in point: Amazon and the IDM company that makes UltraEdit. About 2 days ago, I had to reformat my laptop due to a botched driver installation of my new HP Officejet J6480 which is a story for another day, (perhaps today?). Sadly, my last ‘file’ backup was over a month ago while my last computer backup was much more recently. However, for some reason, Microsoft made it so that you could NOT recover individual files from a Windows Image backup file. Really odd. Anyway, my biggest hurt was the thought that I would love about $80 worth of new music files I’d downloaded via Amazon MP3. Their policy is to not offer re-downloads of MP3 albums or songs so I was essentially screwed. Nevertheless, I decided to pay Amazon a call and I spoke with a customer service representative named Deepak. Initially, he gave me the standard company line about being unable to help me because of their policy. I tried begging, but he didn’t budge so I requested to speak to someone else. After being on hold for a couple of minutes, Deepak came back on the line and told me that he’d spoken with a supervisor who agreed to release some of the music files to me as a show of good faith (my words). I was over the moon with joy. 🙂 I was prepared with the list of 3 albums that I absolutely didn’t want to lose and sure enough, the mp3 files were available for download in my Amazon digital library after I got off the phone! In a weird twist, it turns out that I didn’t exactly lose my music files because I had transferred some files to my Palm Treo 750 which I can use as a media player and I pretty much had all my music files! I feel bad for not even checking my computer thoroughly, but it’s really nice to know that Amazon will come through for me especially in a genuine case as mine.

In the case of UltraEdit, my case was rather unorthodox. My license for Ultraedit ran out earlier in the year (around May) and I held off on upgrading. However, I ran Secunia PSI and read about a security advisory concerning UltraEdit. All I saw was the word “malicious attack” and I panicked. So, yesterday, I sent a nice email to UltraEdit asking for a patch to “plug” this “security hole” or whatever-it-was. This morning, I received a reply from UltraEdit’s customer service allaying my fears about the severity of the vulnerability. However, they went a step further by giving me a complimentary upgrade to UltraEdit 14.20!! That was so unexpected and I feel fortunate to have made my bets on such good companies. I forked over ~ $45 for a copy of UltraEdit over a year ago and I would do it again because their product (which I use as a Notepad replacement) is solid and can handle whatever I throw at it. So, without further ado, please visit UltraEdit for the solution that’s right for your situation. It’s worth the price tag, but if you are short on cash, check out Notepad ++ which is the next best thing.

Firefox’s instability

Okay, here’s a rant: I’m thisclose to switching to Google Chrome from Mozilla Firefox. As a matter of fact, I would switch if not for the fact that Chrome was responsible for me having to reformat my computer several weeks ago (seriously), I would. However, I’m writing this post because I think I may have the culprit. Caveat: Umm, I know zilch about the innards about web applications, but I can, at least, run unscientific ‘tests’ to narrow down the source of such crashes. Here are the various issues:

  1. When Bitdefender Internet Security 2009  received an update, the antiphishing toolbar for Mozilla Firefox caused Firefox to crash and it even triggered Windows Data Execution Prevention (DEP). So, the solution to this after scouring message boards & Google was to disable the antiphishing toolbar as quickly as I could before DEP kicked in.
  2. Now, my latest firefox issue is sometimes when I simply open Firefox, it crashes instantly. This actually reminds me of Hunter Cressel’s rant about macs where he talks about how it’s really easy to shut down? Yes, that’s exactly my experience with Firefox 3.0.4 these days. I think I need to make a movie titled: “A day in the life of Firefox 3.0.4”. Well, the point (sort of) of this post/rant was to identify (maybe) a culprit in my Firefox crashes: Facebook.
  3. Yes, Facebook. I never put two and two together before, but my latest crash was the last straw. For a while now, I haven’t been able to use the “Take a Photo” or “Make a Video” feature of Facebook and that was a minor inconvenience. Now, sometimes, merely opening the login page for Facebook causes Firefox to instantly shut down. Am I alone in this phenomenon of having Facebook crash my Firefox installation?

Well, I’m putting the last crash report I submitted to Mozilla thanks to the Crash reporting feature built into firefox. Quick tip: You can see all the reported crashes in Firefox by typing “about:crashes” into the address toolbar!

Signature @0x6e63fe39
UUID 5f195df8-f87f-4c18-9b95-b84e02081121
Time 11/21/2008 18:10
Uptime 80
Last Crash 113884 seconds before submission
Product Firefox
Version 3.0.4
Build ID 2008102920
Branch 1.9
OS Windows NT
OS Version 6.0.6001 Service Pack 1
CPU x86
CPU Info GenuineIntel family 6 model 23 stepping 6
Crash Address 0x6e63fe39

Tools of the trade

So, I’m really just getting into the spirit of using add-ins with Outlook. An interesting feature of my life is the fact that my email contacts and my real-life contacts don’t have a huge overlap. I’m somewhat introverted so plugins that tout a huge bunch of social networking features don’t go over too well with me. Nevertheless, I’m currently giving two add-ins I’ve heard much about: Plaxo and Xobni.

1) Plaxo: I’m primarily using this to back-up my Outlook contacts (copied from my Windows Mobile Treo 750 smartphone). One of my nightmares is to have all my phone contacts magically disappear and I’ll have to start adding them from scratch. As of now, I’ve got over 270 contacts and about 10% are really people I talk with. The rest are numbers to services I use like my Bank, et cetera. I’m a little leery of Plaxo because they’ve got a reputation for being a little too trigger-happy with your contact list. However, I made sure to uncheck/check the relevant check-boxes i.e. “do you want to search your Yahoo/MSN/Aol/Lycos/whatever email address book for Plaxo contacts?”, et cetera.

2) Xobni: this one, I’m really interested in because it indexes my Yahoo mail! It also brings some interesting analytics to my usage of Outlook & emails sent and received. I’m rather uninformed about these two tools to talk about them, but I intend on using them for at least 1 month and give a more detailed answer about whether or not they are here to stay (on my PC, that is). 🙂