Monday, December 31, 2012

VentraIP 2012 end of year bargains, but not for all

When a business makes an offer, it needs to be very careful about the exact wording of the offer. And especially so if it’s sent out by mail when the wording cannot be retracted as it might if the offer appears, say, on a web page where it can be edited at any time.

I’m an existing customer of VentraIP with website, starting from mid-2012 when they made an offer that was too good to refuse, and I’ve had website hosted with them since then (and going very well, no issues whatsoever).

I receive their regular marketing e-mails, and was very happy to read the following one that arrived in the early hours of Boxing Day (26/12/2012):

Email Header

Hi Tony,

We made it!

Looks like it wasn't the end of the world after all, and as promised we're holding a massive sale celebration to see out 2012.

75% off new web hosting services

You and your friends, family and colleagues can purchase any new Economy or EconomyPLUS, Multi-Account and Multi-AccountPLUS or Business and BusinessPLUS cPanel hosting service and take 75% off the first invoice. Simply place your order via our website and use the coupon code 75OFF to apply the discount.

More than 50% off 1 Year EasyTrust SSL certificate

Grab a new EasyTrust SSL certificate for just $24.95 for 1 year when you place your order via our website and use coupon code 25OFFSSL.

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and cheers to 2013.

Kind regards,

Cheyne Jonstone
Chief Executive Officer

This was something I’d been waiting for, an offer similar to the one that I’d taken advantage of on mid-2012, so I jumped online and started the ordering process, I wanted to sign up for the same sort of deal as previously, paying up front for three years of web hosting.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the following web page:


(The yellow highlighting and question mark are mine.)

Compare the above wording with that of a VentraIP offer made earlier this month which in part reads:

80% Off New Hosting Services!

Santa Bear is feeling very generous this Christmas, and this year he has a coupon for 80% off the first invoice for any new Economy, Business or Multi-Account cPanel web hosting plan for up to 1 year.

To take advantage of this extra special offer, simply use coupon code SB80 when placing your order online.

You’ll notice immediately (since I’ve highlighted it in red) that this offer made earlier in December clearly does not extend past one year of hosting. I examined the Boxing Day offer very carefully, and could find No such phrase, so before starting off the ordering process I certainly didn’t expect there to be any such restriction.

I raised an eTicket explaining the above points carefully and precisely.

Subsequently I’ve had a couple of e-mail interactions with VentraIP staff, who claim that the offer is for up to one year of web hosting and don’t agree with me that the wording does not state this restriction. (They gloss over the fact that it says “You and your friends, family and colleagues can purchase any new . . . cPanel hosting service and take 75% off the first invoice.” where I’ve highlighted the key term in red.)

In one of my e-mails, I asked to be put in touch with VentraIP CEO Cheyne Jonstone himself, to no avail. I’m still waiting, but not holding my breath.

My philosophy is always to ask to go straight for the the top person in the organization, but the dragons guarding the door very rarely let that happen!

Hell, I’m running a business myself and as CEO of that business I will always let any customer or prospect get in direct touch with me to discuss my software and services. After more than forty years in the IT business I have no doubt whatsoever that rapid and effective communication with prospects and customers is one of the very top attributes of a successful organization.

Communication, communication, communication! … Equates to Service, service, service!

In this case, all I’m after is for VentraIP to admit that their Boxing Day offer was deficiently worded, and that they should have been more careful.

Cheyne, that e-mail went out over your name, so I await a call from you. And when you do call I’ll happily update this post with your view on these matters.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The premise is … I’m getting even madder

I was reading this IBM Redbook today, and it didn’t make a good first impression:


I really love IBM Redbooks, but not at all the way that this one starts off. Integrating cloud systems with on-premise systems? You don’t say!

The Redbook makes lots of incorrect statements, such as this gem (one of many) on page 5:

Monitor and manage resources in a standardized way across on-premise and off-premise resources.

Then today there was this article in Climate Spectator concerning the stand taken by  Australian senator John Madigan:

In his concern for the potential health effects of wind turbines, Madigan has put before parliament a series of amendments to the Renewable Energy Act. These would suspend the accreditation of a wind farm to create renewable energy certificates if it creates “excessive noise”. He defines that to be when the level of noise that is attributable to the wind farm exceeds background noise by 10 dB(A) or more when measured within 30 metres of a household or business premise.

Within 30 metres of a household or business premise, really? (I wasn’t aware that a premise can be location-based, were you?)

What have these two got in common? Surely you already realize what I’m getting at? If not, take a peek at this post of mine back in April 2010 and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

Unfortunately this particular mangling of a beautifully bizarre language goes on every day like the above two examples. We see it a lot in Australia due to the roll-out of our National Broadband Network and use of the term whose acronym is FTTP

So I must trudge wearily on, trying to make sure that the final “s” is used wherever necessary.

I know, I know, I should do something better with my time, but it gets under my skin and irritates me intensely, so I scratch and scratch and therefore need to do something about it.

So my campaign struggles on -- based on the premise that if I continue to highlight this sad matter then at least a few people might see the error of their ways.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Suffer Not the Little Ones – Monsters and demons on the Internet

Not my usual sort of post. Reading the following feature article on MakeUseOf I quickly decided that I simply HAD to point you all towards it for your careful consideration.

Without further comment:

Unfortunate Truths about Child Pornography and the Internet

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Aussie 8-year-olds learning atomic structure and the Periodic Table

Before I joined IBM Australia in 1970, I spent most of the 1960s teaching Chemistry, General Science and Mathematics to older high school students.

A couple of times at the start of each year I would take classes of junior grade kids newly arrived from primary school. I always admired their freshness, openness and willingness to learn – that is, before years of high school regimentation wore off some of that freshness and keenness.

After more than forty years in the IT industry, I am attempting to undertake a broad-brush relearning of all things scientific, on various aspects of physics, chemistry, life sciences, cosmology, climate science and other things that have developed so much over those four decades and still intrigue me.


This includes wondering about how high school science teachers go about things these days. So I was extremely interested in a segment earlier this evening in the 7.30 program on ABC Australian television.

Physics and chemistry are the bane of many a high school student, but what if we're pitching the ideas to them too late? Can eight-year-olds absorb atomic theory? One teacher has asked that question in a bold experiment at a Brisbane primary school. And he says it shows young minds are much more advanced than we think.

Read the transcript and watch the recording here… Weird science reveals more advanced students … I think you’ll be surprised, or even a little amazed.


How to install CDBurnerXP (and WinSCP) without Open Candy

CDBurnerXP is free and very good software for burning CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks, but unfortunately the default installer installs OpenCandy which troubles some people.

Cranial Soup, for example, states:

They claim to be doing something noble, but the only thing sweet about OpenCandy is the sales pitch to naive developers that might just fall for it, tricking them into thinking it is somehow different than the typical common adware/spyware. … A lot of developers do seem to be biting the bait, but no matter how you slice it, it's still adware/spyware, and to me it stinks worse than the old fashioned kind.

The WinSCP program ( a free SFTP, SCP and FTP client for Windows) gives its reasons for including OpenCandy:

WinSCP uses OpenCandy advertising module in its sponsored installation package. By using this version of the installer you support WinSCP development. Thanks you! [sic] If you do not want to support WinSCP development in this way, you can always use the other ad-free installation package.

The OpenCandy module shows at maximum one ad and only during the installation. WinSCP application itself does not contain OpenCandy and does not show any ads.

OpenCandy is advertising application. It is similar to Google AdSense, except it displays advertisements in installation program instead on a website. These advertisements promote another software packages. The advertisements are selected by providers of software being installed (in case of WinSCP it means WinSCP developers). When user installing a software (WinSCP) chooses to install promoted package, revenue is generated and shared between OpenCandy and software providers (WinSCP developers).

The Wikipedia article on OpenCandy provides a partial list of software that uses OpenCandy, and states:

OpenCandy has attracted criticism because of privacy concerns. Past versions of OpenCandy were considered adware by Microsoft Security Essentials as they "may send user-specific information ... without obtaining adequate user consent". OpenCandy have claimed that this is because another company used OpenCandy without the formal warning in their EULA.

Well, as a software developer and vendor I can understand the supposed benefits of OpenCandy, but I wouldn’t use it myself and am not so happy about Windows installers that use it.

I’ve been using CDBurnerXP for a number of years, but only today came across its somewhat obscure option to avoid using OpenCandy. (Perhaps I’ve missed this option because it was only recently added, does anybody know when it appeared?)

Image (A) shows the regular CDBurnerXP download page, where I’ve placed a bubble to show the relevant link that’s very easy to overlook:


Clicking on the link “More download options” leads to an alternative download page, as shown in image (B), with the trimmed-down installer links circled:


WinSCP has a similar installer that omits OpenCandy.

I wonder how many other programs offer a bypass like this. While OpenCandy is fairly benign, it can be an unwanted intrusion on your Windows system, so bypassing it should be a universal option.

Monday, December 03, 2012

She’s Arnold Pointer’s pet Great White Shark

A friend of mine just emailed me the following amazing photos:

image00331  image00441
image00551   image00771

What inspiring affection by the huge beast, truly an uplifting tale coming to us over the Internet tubes for our enlightenment and edification.

Now I know that Great Whites are capable of being much more than just primitive, mean chomping machines, so I can be far more unconcerned about dark shapes when I’m out surfing along Victoria’s coast.

The trouble is… Well, see for yourself: Link1 and Link2 and more going back to year 2007/2008 -- why do these persist, don’t people have anything better to do with their time?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Recommended personal copyright statement for all Facebook users

I just came across the following recommendation for ALL users of Facebook:

For the reasoning behind it, see Facebook debunks viral hoax that it owns users' content

I wonder how many Facebook users have even considered this aspect. Would they have the same concerns. Do you (and why)?