Let me get this straight… to disable tracking, I need to enable tracking?

This has been my rant about advertising, sparked by Microsoft’s OS tracking and “privacy options” (or lack there of).

I was going through today and checking out the settings in Windows 10. While I was just looking them over I found an option for Privacy. This is something I shouldn’t need to worry about on my personal PC… but Microsoft seems to think differently.

As I read the Privacy settings, it implied that my actions were tracked for Targeted Advertising.  What? Why? Why is my OS (that I paid for) selling my usage for advertising? So I decided to disable the option… I toggle the switch that does this and I get a wonderful alert at the top of the screen.

MS Really? 

So Let me get this straight. To disable my OS tracking me, I have to turn ON 1st and 3rd party tracking (cookies) and ensure that my browser doesn’t protect my privacy?

Lovely.  So to sum it up, to stop your OS from tracking you you have to make sure that your browser can track you instead. That is asinine. This screen should not be labeled Privacy it should be labeled “Privacy violation settings”, you don’t get to “Chose your privacy”. You get to chose HOW your privacy is invaded.  Through your OS or your browser.

All in the name of advertising and targeting apps.  Neither of which I like. Just allow me to customize and control my own PC… I can tailor it to my usage, I don’t need other people doing what they think I want for me, or providing me what they think I’m interested in. If I’m interested in something I will go out of my way to find it.

Side note, found a project that I’m really beginning to like the idea of. This project called AdNauseam. The goal of the project is to make online advertising worthless to advertisers. It blocks and automatically clicks (in the background) each and every single ad it blocks. Advertisers pay for “impressions” and “clicks”, this makes it look like you click on everything, making it impossible to distinguish what YOU are actually interested in because you’re interested in everything (apparently).  Every time it clicks on an ad… someone somewhere has to pay the advertiser for that. By simply clicking on everything you are costing advertisers AND eventually making the advertising worthless for marketing data.  Mind you I am not against advertising a product or service, I am against the mass data collection and storage of user information even in an anonymized way. It is never truly anonymous, just more difficult to connect the dots.

I believe in unobtrusive advertising, advertising that tells me about a product or service without taking over my screen, without playing a video that I didn’t ask for, without un-wanted audio. But advertising has become so obtrusive and invasive I go out of my way to make it useless and block it.  If I had my way anyone who put an “obtrusive” or “invasive” ad on the internet should be fined $100 per view/click.

Advertising costs YOU money. You are paying for the bandwidth, the cpu time, the electricity to light your screen and power your computer. Why should I pay to generate and see advertisements that I didn’t go looking for? If you are a business owner, advertising on websites (and your PCs) cost you resources, and potentially expose your work, and risk security. According to engadget and arstechnica there have been a number of ad based viruses/malware/ransom ware attacks. Even in big firms. There has even been a phrase coined for this called Malvertising

According to the NY Times, on average more than 50% of your mobile bandwidth is sucked up because of advertising. You know that extremely limited data plan that you are paying for through the nose… more than half of that is paying so you can see ads on your mobile device.

In short, intrusive advertising pisses me off. If I go to a site and I can’t block or prevent the advertising. I leave. I encourage you to do the same. If you run a website, consider your impact on peoples lives, and your own image online. I think advertising makes sites and software look trashy and second rate, and I know I’m not the only person who thinks this.

This has been my rant about advertising, sparked by Microsoft’s OS tracking and “privacy options” (or lack there of).  Best of luck to anyone who can stop the insanity which is advertising!

Putting my bank on notice

Earlier this week I finally bit the bullet and decided to buy myself a 3D Printer. I have wanted one as long as I’ve known they existed and I saved up for a long time, shopped around, did my homework and finally on Friday night went online and bought it.  Then I went shopping for all the “extras” that you need to go with it, like the filament(s) and various tools that are needed to keep it working and functional. All was happy in my world.

Today I logged into my bank and saw some really weird activity… I decided to talk to  the vendor and clarify. After a very long and convoluted conversation with a rep that was probably very knowledgeable in their systems but horrible at communication. I found out that my bank declined the transaction. WHAT?!! So I log into my bank, I have more than enough funds to cover it… and find out from the vendor that the transactions were declined and that I need to talk to fraud prevention. My bank has (yet again) decided that my own transactions are fraudulent against me. (This is not the first time… but I’m hoping to make it the last)

I have decided to send the following notice to my bank, I think ALL banks need to see it. I am a hater of phone loops and unchecked automation. (FYI) I LOVE automation… so long as we can maintain and keep it in check/balance. But when people have NO say in it it is foolish and stupid. As a side note I build automation tools for a living… quite successfully. BUT it is NOT a replacement for intelligence, wit, or courtesy. It however can be an amazing tool for those who have them.

Notice to my bank:

You are losing my business. You have an opportunity to fix this, but I doubt you have the ability or desire to do so.

Here is my problem. I work during most of the times you are open, and I have a family with kids. So the time when I spend money is usually the time when {bank} is not open. {bank} seems to have a hyper sensitive fraud prevention unit. When said fraud prevention unit blocks a transaction… there is no way for me as a normal human being to fix the problem. There is no one i can call. There is nothing I can do. I just have to sit there and pray that what I needed was not life critical, and that I can get a hold of a living breathing person during my working hours to fix the situation. The fact that I don’t even get notified is even worse. (The last time this happened I THOUGHT I turned this on..)

Points:

1. You live in a world where most people and businesses do business 24/7 now. People expect, I expect, the ability to do the same.

2. There is nothing wrong with a hyper-vigilant fraud prevention department… SO LONG AS there is a way to fix the situation quickly. By quickly I mean in under 15 minutes. No computer, no AI, no phone tree will be smart enough. I like the fact that you care… but I don’t like the fact that you stop my being able to do business until you decide to get into work… when ever that happens to be.

3. The fact that I can almost NEVER get a hold of a living breathing person is infuriating. I don’t need a brick and mortar office to “meet” someone, I do need the ability to speak to a person and solve a problems intelligently. I don’t usually need to do so, but when I do they almost always are complex and require understanding of what I’m saying and what I’m trying to do, and how banking works. IF I want to do impersonal banking I can easily switch to a purely online bank. If I just wanted to talk to an automated phone loop, I’d… just call you guys.

4. Why are you blocking transactions to established vendors that I regularly do business with? I do business with {vendor} at least on a weekly basis, sometimes almost daily. Why would it come as a surprise that I place an order with them? They split their order into separate “chunks” by vendor and bills them separately causing multiple transactions. I can’t be the ONLY person who has this happen?

So, in short. If you want to KEEP me as a client. Present me with a solution that works for people like me. I like {bank}, but this has happened enough times and at critical times. (Like when buying tires on a car at a garage… for one…) This last transaction has now been held up by more than a week because of the delay, and I was NEVER notified by {bank}, I had to be notified by the vendor that I was declined for the transaction.

You have your mission, if I don’t hear back. Or I don’t hear a good answer I will be posting this notice online and moving on to other business. I’m tired of fighting with my own bank, to get money I’ve already worked for.

The transactions in question (according to {vendor}) are:
Settlement Verification Code: xxx
Settlement Verification Code: xxx
They attempted to charge once and were declined, then tried again the next day. I was told they were declined again. I was also told that I need to ask you why funds were not released.

I await your message or call.
{my_name}

 

If you are a banker or work in the banking industry. Please take note. automation is NOT the key, a call center is NOT the key. People like me want the ability to do business safely, but we want the ability to talk to a SMART person to fix it when something goes wrong, or we need help with something. In general the only reason your average consumer looks for outside help is they can’t do something (like fix a problem), they don’t know how to do something (lack of experience or knowledge, sometimes to even explain the problem), or are investigating before doing something.  These are things MOST banks make difficult if not impossible to get those 3 things easily. IF banks could they would find a new level of efficiency. Those are things that can’t be answered by an online FAQ, automated phone loop, someone who barely speaks your language, or someone who does not really understand the industry.

Just my 2 cents.