Category Archives: Human Rights

SUBSCRIPTION, PERPETUAL LICENSE, EXTENDED WARRANTY, AND EXTENDED SUPPORT

Four of the most underhanded schemes merchants have used to rack up profits on the vulnerable consumer. 

Subscription and Perpetual License  

About fifteen years ago Norton allowed you to buy their anti-virus software as a one-shot deal for your personal use. Significantly, they offered upgrades in order to fix bugs often shortly after you’ve acquired the software. In addition, they sometimes offer upgrades which contain new features that they feel could improve your user experience. This kind of upgrade is usually offered at an additional cost. The drawback for this moneymaking frontier was that many people did not take the upgrade because they didn’t feel that the upgrade would make  that much difference to their current user experience, or they saw it as an unnecessary expense. As a result of Norton’s inability to profit from this feature, they began to push subscription, and did so without appropriately informing consumers.  

          Indeed, I purchased the Norton software for a new Microsoft computer I had acquired. At the time of the purchase, I wasn’t informed that it was on a subscription basis. Also, I didn’t know that Norton would hold onto my credit card number and would later try to auto-debit my account two years later. However, at the time when they tried to charge my credit card it had already expired. Furthermore, for want of a better choice of words, they had rigged the software to stop functioning properly after a two-year time frame.  At this point because of the chaos the software was causing, I came to the determination that the best thing to do would be to uninstall it. But Norton had made it so that the software could not be easily uninstalled, and offered very little help when I reached out to their support center for help. In fact, at one point while working with a representative, instead of uninstalling the soft, the representative deleted all of my songwriting audio files off the computer. I eventually was able to download a software off their website that helped me uninstall the software.Ultimately, I never used their software again.  

        A class action suit was brought against Norton and because I was once their customer I received a letter regarding a possible share of the settlement. However, when I filled out the form for my possible compensation instead of complying,  Norton simply used my personal information to try to recruit me to start buying their products again. I never received any compensation. 

        In 2009 while I was an undergraduate student in college, I was able to buy a student version of Microsoft Office from the college bookstore at a one-time payment of $89.00. When I was in Graduate School, the college sent me an email saying that Microsoft was trying to figure out how to give students Office 365 for free. Students soon learned that the way they would do this was through the use of Microsoft OneDrive. In the beginning I ignored the emails I received from the college, simply because I believe there had to be some kind of catch to it. However, I later recognized the convenience of my being able to pull up documents I created at home while in the library at school, and vice versa. Ultimately, I decided to make use of the offer.   

         About a month after I had earned my Master’s Degree, I was trying to engage a document that I had created using the 365 app, when I received a message telling me to buy a license in order to access my documents. In fact I was locked out of the software and would not be able to access my documents unless I started a subscription. I was very irritated. The reason why I was irritated is because Microsoft neglected to mention that when you graduate from college you will have to buy a license. Had they told me that in the beginning, I would never have used the software because I was quite satisfied with the version that I owned. In fact, I think Microsoft knew exactly what they were doing. What better way to rack up profits if not by disallowing students the use of their documents after they graduate college until they purchase a license. It is not typical that students get a job within a month after graduating from college. So at this point I feel that Microsoft behaved like a snake. My workaround, was to simply uninstall the 365 app and go back to using my own version. 

           Unfortunately, Microsoft wasn’t the only company who took students on a head-trip. Computer companies like Dell and Apple also pressed their luck in ways such as pretending that they were offering you their hardware at a discount, even as they were offering it to you at the exact same retail price they were offering it on the market. I know this for a fact because I did my research. Anyway, I am deviating. This is a topic for another blog.   

          In thinking about Microsoft Office, I offer that the inner workings of the softwares are already stretched to the limit, and because of this, much of the so-called upgrades add no value to the consumer’s user experience. There is just not much more ways Microsoft can change it and claim that came up with something new to improve the user experience, and left as is, there would be no more revenues for this software, which most people would have already owned.  As a result in order to attract buyers, Microsoft began dangling 365 at the price of $9.99 per month. The idea is to give  you a manageable way of paying for the software, but if you are not mindful in ten years you will have given Microsoft $1,200.00 of your hard earned money. Besides, if Microsoft has 1 million subscribers,  they stand to make around 1.2 billion dollars in 10 years. So this idea of giving you a new way to manage to pay for the software is just a new kind of neoliberalism moneymaking frontier for companies like Microsoft and others  to rack up profits. Indeed, the younger generation who are just starting out and have never owned this product before are really at a disadvantage. 

        The upgrade Microsoft 365 is simply a rearrangement of the fields that were in the previous versions. This rearrangement makes it difficult for people who are familiar with some of the previous versions. The  only two notable new features are the ability to dictate rather than write, and the ability to read back to you what you wrote. Still, the ability to dictate has problems. For example, it often writes down something that you didn’t say, and sometimes backs out something that you did say and replace it with something it thinks you should say. Also while dictating you have to pay strict attention, because the microphone only engage for a short period of time, and so if you look away that might be the time the microphone chooses to stop recording, and you could end up with a whole paragraph of spoken words unrecorded.  

           The other feature is it’s ability to read back to you what you write. This feature makes it easy to find your mistakes. However, even as these are some decent features, offering software on a subscription basis is a disadvantage to the consumer, because as described above, in the long run it would end up costing way more than it should. 

             Another company that has began offering it’s software through perpetual license is Avid. Avid is a company that sells music making softwares such as Protools and Sibelius. Avid’s products are used by a majority of musicians filmmakers and music producers. Back in 2003 when Digidesign/Avid introduced  Protools version 8, it was offered at a one-time cost.  Today you cannot buy Avid’s software unless you buy it on a perpetual license basis. Like Microsoft and Norton, Avid wants you to believe offering you a perpetual license is an affordable way for you to own the software, but as I said before this kind of transaction will end up costing the consumer a lot more money in the long run, and allow these companies to rack up billions of dollars in profits.  

           Two years ago I considered upgrading the Avid software, but to do so I had to buy a brand new dongle for $60.00, even as I already owned one. The reason is they changed it out because they have decided to sell you effects processors with the so called upgraded software. Upon buying the dongle and trying it out I was very disenchanted with the very buggy Protools version 12. Aside from this it came with a shopping basket and although I found the shopping basket cool, they put that basket right in the spot where an important drop down field used to be, and that annoyed me. In addition, the extension of all the effects were changed, and they now offered you very little effects. In fact many of the ones that once came with the software, you now had to purchase. (as mentioned before the need for the new dongle.) Indeed, the shopping basket was the stealth reason for the shopping basket.   

        Moreover, Autotune an effect processor, which cost me over $450.00 was rendered useless because of the fact that they changed the extension of the effects in this so called new version. To use the new version I would have had to upgrade the Autotune and buy Avid’s effects in order to have a good experience using the software. As I said before the effects came with the older versions. I saw this as clearly a money-making scheme, and I was livid. At the rate the software was being offered, I would have ended up spending thousands of dollars if I were to upgrade. Aside from that, I would have to get a new computer and a new midi-interface hardware. I soon realized that Digi 002, Protools 8 and Mac OS X 10.3 the version I have owned since 2003 will have to be the best combination for me at that point. I will have to be satisfied with this for a very long time, because I will not allow them to break my pocketbook with their perpetual license and the buying of effects that were once included as part of the package. 

Many online digital music platforms are also asking for subscription.  

 If you have their app on your desktop, you know what I mean. Every time you try to listen to a song you own. You get a pop up blocking your pathway to your song, which shows you more pieces from said artist and asking you for subscription. This is very annoying. You have to know how to get around them to prevent accidentally signing up. To their credit though, these companies also allow you to buy a song or album at a one time fee as well.   

Extended Support 

 Extended support is another money-making frontier that companies use to try to rake in income. Today every company that sell you hardware will try to attach extended support to your purchase. However, the consumer has the option to take it or leave it. On the other hand, Avid package their Protools software whereas the support is a condition of the software. In other words, the consumer must buy support for the software if they want to purchase it.

If you own an Apple or a Microsoft computer, then you know how annoying it is when they cut into your routine to upgrade the software on your system. Now think of Avid as either of these companies whose software often have bugs in them which need immediate fixing to improve your user experience, and the question becomes why should you purchase support in order for this company to tell you how to fix its buggy software? This brings me to extended warranty

 

Extended Warranty  

Nowadays you purchase an item for as little as $20.00 and a sales representative will ask you if you want to buy extended warranty. Years ago depending on the product warranty would sometimes go into ten years. But again some one came up with this idea to steal your money by trying to ingrain in your head that your item will break quickly and you won’t have any recourse but to get a new one. While it is just a scam in order for them to rack up earnings. I often wonder if they give the representatives who manage to convince a consumer to buy extended warranty a percentage of that sale towards in earnings. 

Finally, if you as consumers allow companies who has adopted these neoliberalism money-making frontiers like the ones I have described above, to continue to thrive then we should consider the following scenarios: Perpetual license/subscription; extended warranty/extended support for your home furnishings, clothing, bed linen, toiletries etc., because they might just start asking you for subscription for these items next. Indeed they are already deep in some of our pocket books with extended warranty/support on home appliances, kitchen appliances motor vehicles etc. The companies mentioned are not the only companies that have adopted these money- making schemes. This has actually become the norm for a majority of merchants who sell these kinds of products. 

 

 

 

 

       

                   

Kids poisoned by Lead in Flint Michigan

Lead Poisoning of children and legionnaires disease: a case of Environmental Racism in the City of Flint Michigan.

The governor thought it more expedient to allow the children of the working class poor of Flint to drink poison rather than risk a deficit in the budget.

The governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder had to be shamed into action by the national media, regarding the lead poisoning of Flint’s children. However, he continues to do nothing substantial to alleviate the problem. The one thing that he seems to be doing and very well is blame the failure that precipitated the crisis on the management originally appointed by him. What kind of leader blames his staff for is own lack of oversight? The fact that Rick Snyder knew about the lead crisis well before it went national and did nothing about is criminal. He must be held accountable

Rachael Maddow holds town meeting in Flint
Continue reading Kids poisoned by Lead in Flint Michigan

Flint Michigan Lead Poisoning Crisis

Source: Flint Michigan Lead Poisoning Crisis

Flint Michigan Lead Poisoning Crisis

Residents Poisoned by Drinking Water in Prominent City

The Town of Flint decided to switch its drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River. River water needs to be treated before consumption, because it tends to have high levels of lead not normal for human consumption.  Nevertheless, Rick Snyder Governor of the state of Michigan allowed the water to be consumed without being treated. Over the two-year period that span the water switch, healthcare officials began to notice high levels of lead in the blood stream of their patients. They were suspicious of the drinking water and they, along with other experts, brought their concerns to the attention of the governor’s office. But the environmentalists there told them the water was perfectly safe to drink; therefore they should “relax.” Recently, the governor and his staff have come to acknowledge that there is a problem with the water. Today the city of Flint has no clean drinking water and is relying on charitable institutions and companies like Wal-Mart. Notably, the government should have also been providing water but was not.

Some cities in the state of Michigan have been going through some financial crisis, and as result the government is low on financial resources. However, the governor had the option of asking for aid from the Federal Government and from FEMA.  But it seems Mr. Snyder was apparently too much of  a self-righteous partisan to ask the Democratic,  GOP despised President Obama for help. It is not until he got shamed by the national media that Snyder decided to ask for Federal aid. Aside from the lead poisoning,  there have been 87 cases of Legionnaires disease in Flint, of which 10 people have died.

If Snyder thinks that he would  bankrupt the state by providing water for his working class constituents, he should wait and see how bankrupt the state will become as a result of the funds that he is going to have to pay out in lawsuits to compensate for the lead poisoning and Legionnaires disease if it’s also linked to the contaminated water supply.  The people of Flint human rights have been violated, and as a result they should ask Mr. Snyder to step down or call for his impeachment. After all, some might say what he  and his environmentalists have done is practically criminal.

 

On the other hand, you could put this lead poisoning incident under the heading of Environmental Racism1. Most of the people affected by this are black working class people. Would Snyder have acted faster if they were not minorities? Would Snyder have made sure the water was treated for consumption had it not been for minorities? This is a tragedy, and at a time when we have been trying to raise awareness about environmental racism.

Rick Snyder’s Anti-Democratic Policies

Rachael Maddow Discusses Flint water crisis

Hilliary Clinton on Flint Water Crisis

Snyder pressed for action on Flint Water Crisis

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-timeline-of-the-water-crisis-in-flint-michigan/2016/01/16/cc4d32a2-bc63-11e5-85cd-

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/10/10/missed-opportunities-flint-water-crisis/73688428/5ad59bc19432_story.html

Jail Time for Petty Larceny Should Be a Humanitarian Concern

There was quite a bit of criticism recently, over the escape of a shoplifting suspect while in police custody. People snickered and made snide remarks that accused the cops of being negligent. Furthermore, the authorities shut down the subway system for a couple of hours to hunt for an adolescent in handcuff that posed no danger to them or anyone else. I do not condone stealing however the sad thing about this was that no one saw this from a humanitarian point of view. The fact is that the job market today is very tough which contributes to many people being unemployed  and therefore unable to sustain themselves or their families financially. As a result, some brave sole might think that stealing is his only option to feeding himself. Everyone was concerned that the suspect got away. In my opinion this man was being treated like someone who had committed a more serious crime.

As someone with humanitarian values, I question why he was put in handcuffs to begin with. I think there is an imbalance in the criminal justice system when cops slap speeding drivers with a ticket, but give petty larceny offenders a record by making them do jail time. Who poses more of a threat to your well being a shoplifter or a speeding driver? Then there is the question of the thousands of dollars that it might cost taxpayers to keep someone locked up for stealing a $20 item. The only individuals that benefit from this is for profit prisons. Indeed, the neoliberalism capitalists who owns them get to fleece the government through subsidies in the form of monies paid to keep them locked up. Moreover, they also  profit from the  outsourcing of the labor of their prisoners. In contrast,  prisoners are paid only  pennies on the dollar for their labor. As Michele Alexander puts it: it is the “New Jim Crow.” Indeed, when analyzed from  the other end of the spectrum, you see  that the life of someone has been ruined over a petty larceny. The offender will now have difficulty in finding work after his eventual release, and will not be able to provide for himself or his family. You have rendered him useless to himself and society and in a way have set him up to become a repeat offender.

Federal Appeals Court Decision More Like a Repub. Flub

 

On Monday, November 8, 2015 President Barack Obama’s plan to protect up to 5 million people living in the United States illegally from deportation was voted down in a ruling from a New Orleans-based federal appeals court.

A ruling like this shows how far the GOP will go to try to protect their sovereignty. After Obama put forth these immigration changes, they swore they would prevent it from coming to fruition. So this is just the beginning of their attempt to roll back the process state by state. Still, this could potentially hinder their bid for the White house; for in order to win it they will need a substantial portion of Latino votes and they just showed them that they are not willing to work with them in this important capacity. Indeed, I fondly await their next move. Maybe they will try to “gerrymander” the Latino’s to get them to vote for them like they gerrymander a number of districts to try to hold a majority congress…forever? Fortunately, they can do neither of these things.

 

Court

Nurse Kaci Hickox Sues Gov. Christie Over Ebola Quarantining

Kaci Hickox,  the nurse that was quarantined after her return from  serving in a region in  Africa that was greatly affected by the Ebola virus,  has filed a lawsuit  against the Governor for his use of the measure. In my opinion, being a little inconvenienced for a few hours, does not  merit a law suit.  At the time we were all being cautious about preventing the virus from spreading to this region. Relatively, as an a healthcare professional she should have embraced any effort that might help prevent the spread of the disease.   I would like to know what happened to that chivalrous spirit, which led her to put her life on the line to help care for the Ebola patients in the region in the first place. Indeed, she needs to draw upon that same spirit of chivalry instead of being  so mean-spirited.

Besides, she should realize that she is suing the state, not the Governor, and is actually asking taxpayers like herself to foot the bill. If Ms. Hickox wants wealth she  should simply work for it. It is not like she suffered any physical harm, and any mental harm is likely a bruised ego. I hope she comes to her senses and withdraw this petty lawsuit for whatever claims she hatched up; for cynics like myself will only asses it as being inspired by greed.

Cops That Behave Like Pigs

Because of the new age of videos on cell phones, more and more outrageous acts on civilians, by police have been coming to light:

  1. Walter Scott being shot in the back while running for his life from police;
  2. Samuel Dubois killed because of a cop’s bruised ego;
  3. Freddie Gray Dies in police custody;
  4. Cops shoot man who carried a BB gun; he intended to buy while in Wal-Mart;
  5. Police car mows down mentally ill suspect;
  6. Moments leading up to Eric Garner’s subsequent death.

Moreover, not only do  the videos show police behaving badly, it shows that their actions are overwhelmingly against African American Males. Still, no matter how outrageous the actions of the cops in question, they are always backed up by some Police Chief’s statement that their actions were simply a part of doing their job. The fact is that they are all part of the union, or what I would prefer to call a “fraternity” that answers to no one but themselves… you know “see no evil, do no evil…I got your back,  that kind of mentality.” Why should any union be that powerful?

Most egregious are some cops behavior towards children. For example, in these videos whereas the cop tries to arrest a bikini teenage African American female at a pool party: Bikini clad teenager girl arrested, and recently gave a summons to this child for jay-walking: Police body slams teenager for Jay walking. Indeed,, they seem to be constantly trying to arrest Black women’s babies for every little stupid thing. Also, when they try to make these unfounded arrests they want the child to go with them without any resistance. What planet do they live on that they think anyone naturally endowed with instinctive reaction, and will naturally react negatively in the face of adversity, is not going to flinch while being ruffed-up by them?  The fact is that a cop often ruff up a civilian for no reason other than that he got his ego bruised, because he gave a command and it was not immediately complied with.

It certainly seems that the more videotapes capture police behaving badly, is the more videotapes capture police behaving badly. For example, in the case of the jay-walking incident mentioned earlier the  Stockton PD public information officer of California where the incident occurred said this: “If people would comply with lawful orders from law enforcement officers and not try to grab or take away any of our weapons, force would never have to be used.” First of all the investigation was not even complete before this rat starts making allegations about a child trying to maneuver a cop. Ultimately, he was setting up the public, so that they will begin to get an idea of how this one is also going to play out… no reprimand, but the usual talking points “just a cop doing his so job.” With comments like this how does anyone expect the selves-anointed Lords of the human race to tone down their behavior? How do you expect that their outrageous actions will not continue to be captured on videos? It is almost as if they enjoy the spectacle.

The fact is that many cops show off a power…akin to being anointed; but by whom, the fraternity that shields them in times of their wicked deeds? It is high time that cops realize that wearing a badge, ‘makes them not’ the Lord Jesus Christ … ‘makes them not’ persons that must be obeyed. It is high time that police, especially those who have been behaving like pigs and treating other humans like pigs, get some appropriate training. They must be trained on how to police within minority communities. They must be trained on how to recognize when some things are just petty, and should be left alone rather than cause its escalation. Samuel Dubois, Eric Garner, Walter Scott… all murdered over petty issues. Police must begin to learn how to diffuse a situation before it gets to a baton or a bullet. They must be taught to deal with children with more of a parental touch rather than being a bully trying to subjugate. Lastly they need to learn to temper their bruised ego rather than react because of it.

Peace

Cops That Behave Like Pigs

Because of the new age of videos on cell phones, more and more outrageous acts on civilians, by police have been coming to light:

  1. Walter Scott being shot in the back while running for his life from police;
  2. Samuel Dubois killed because of a cop’s bruised ego;
  3. Freddie Gray Dies in police custody;
  4. Cops shoot man who carried a BB gun; he intended to buy while in Wal-Mart;
  5. Police car mows down mentally ill suspect;
  6. Moments leading up to Eric Garner’s subsequent death.

Moreover, not only do  the videos show police behaving badly, it shows that their actions are overwhelmingly against African American Males. Still, no matter how outrageous the actions of the cops in question, they are always backed up by some Police Chief’s statement that their actions were simply a part of doing their job. The fact is that they are all part of the union, or what I would prefer to call a “fraternity” that answers to no one but themselves… you know “see no evil, do no evil…I got your back,  that kind of mentality.” Why should any union be that powerful?

Most egregious are some cops behavior towards children. For example, in these videos whereas the cop tries to arrest a bikini teenage African American female at a pool party: Bikini clad teenager girl arrested, and recently gave a summons to this child for jay-walking: Police body slams teenager for Jay walking. Indeed,, they seem to be constantly trying to arrest Black women’s babies for every little stupid thing. Also, when they try to make these unfounded arrests they want the child to go with them without any resistance. What planet do they live on that they think anyone naturally endowed with instinctive reaction, and will naturally react negatively in the face of adversity, is not going to flinch while being ruffed-up by them?  The fact is that a cop often ruff up a civilian for no reason other than that he got his ego bruised, because he gave a command and it was not immediately complied with.

It certainly seems that the more videotapes capture police behaving badly, is the more videotapes capture police behaving badly. For example, in the case of the jay-walking incident mentioned earlier the  Stockton PD public information officer of California where the incident occurred said this: “If people would comply with lawful orders from law enforcement officers and not try to grab or take away any of our weapons, force would never have to be used.” First of all the investigation was not even complete before this rat starts making allegations about a child trying to maneuver a cop. Ultimately, he was setting up the public, so that they will begin to get an idea of how this one is also going to play out… no reprimand, but the usual talking points “just a cop doing his so job.” With comments like this how does anyone expect the selves-anointed Lords of the human race to tone down their behavior? How do you expect that their outrageous actions will not continue to be captured on videos? It is almost as if they enjoy the spectacle.

The fact is that many cops show off a power…akin to being anointed; but by whom, the fraternity that shields them in times of their wicked deeds? It is high time that cops realize that wearing a badge, ‘makes them not’ the Lord Jesus Christ … ‘makes them not’ persons that must be obeyed. It is high time that police, especially those who have been behaving like pigs and treating other humans like pigs, get some appropriate training. They must be trained on how to police within minority communities. They must be trained on how to recognize when some things are just petty, and should be left alone rather than cause its escalation. Samuel Dubois, Eric Garner, Walter Scott… all murdered over petty issues. Police must begin to learn how to diffuse a situation before it gets to a baton or a bullet. They must be taught to deal with children with more of a parental touch rather than being a bully trying to subjugate. Lastly they need to learn to temper their bruised ego rather than react because of it.

Peace