Thursday, June 19, 2014

Amazon Fire Phone In Canada, When and With Who

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Yet another smart phone platform launched yesterday (June 18th) with a press announcement on par with Apple or Samsung.  Amazon's Jeff Bezos announced the Fire Phone.  Pre orders have already started the official launch date is July 25th.  Amazon's Fire Phone will be launching just in the United States and only available on AT&T.   

This hasn't stopped many this side of the 49th parallel looking for an alternative to the androiPhones that occupy ninety percent of the smartphone market from wondering when the Fire Phone will launch in Canada and if only one carrier will be able to offer the Fire Phone which one will it be?  

Answering these questions will come later rather than sooner unfortunately.  Amazon's digital products such as streamed music, movies and TV shows are not available in Canada due to intellectual rights issues.  It would make no sense to sell the phone if the content is not available.

If it is the intention to keep the Fire Phone on one carrier only per country like Apple did during the early life of the iPhone then it could make for interesting wagering. Rogers would be the the most likely candidate.  Canada's most popular cellular carrier was also the first with the iPhone and Android.  

Bell can't be counted out, they were the only carrier to snag the Palm Pre, we all know how that turned out but they were carrier that was willing to take a chance on a new smartphone platform.  

There is a chance although a slim one that one of Canada's newer regional cell carriers such as Mobilicity or Wind Mobile will pick up the Fire Phone to finally vault one of the struggling carriers over the one million mark, but for Amazon thy would need an agreement with a national carrier if they are to have any chance at success in the market that Apple and Google already dominate.  

Despite the growth of the smartphone industry in the past decade it has been unable to support more than two platforms.  Prior to the introduction of the iPhone Blackberry and to a lesser extent Windows Mobile were the two big dogs in the pound.  In the early going after iPhone hit the scene, Blackberry went to second place and Windows Mobile became road kill.  Then after the rise of Android, it was Blackberry that became left over kibble in the food bowl.  

Amazon will have to deliver something nothing short of spectacular just to be a viable competitor to iPhone and Android. To get to that point in Canada Amazon will have to get all their digital content products into the Canadian as soon as possible.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Things I Have Told The "Microsoft Support" Telephone Scammers

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One scourge of modern life that has been plaguing anybody with a wireline or cellular telephone in the past couple of years has gotten calls from somebody speaking with a heavy accent working in a boiler room call centre somewhere in Asia claiming to be from Microsoft support to report that their home computer is infected with all kinds of malware.  The scammer tells the potential victim to look in the Windows event viewer and tells them that everything marked with a red X is caused by viruses.  The scammer collects a credit card number from the victim and then instructs the victim to download a "remote access removal tool" which turns out to be malware as well.  

Getting these calls and getting sick of it, I have told the scammer that I own a Mac, even though I don't the scammer didn't know that I was lying.  That was over a month ago.  Some of these scammers don't accept that as an answer and will insist that their computer is badly infected  and they need to let them into your computer and charge you for it.  

If telling them that using your using an operating system that doesn't come from
Microsoft isn't enough to get you off the scammers' call list.  There are some things you can tell them that will help get out some of the frustration from getting all these scam calls and have some fun at the scammers' expense.  

"I'm so glad you called I keep getting a message that says illegal call from ID 10 T". Most of these scammers have some technical knowledge and most likely would know that ID 10 T is a geeky way of calling somebody an idiot.  The scammer will ether get mad which you can tell them to get a real job and hang up the phone.  Alternatively they will stay on script and try to continue with the scam.  You can tell them to get a real job and hang up the phone.

One I have been waiting to try is picking up the phone and answering "FBI Cybercrime Investigation Unit, This call is being recorded for quality control".   This may not scare the hard core professionals pulling off this scam but the for the beginner might get scared off and hang up.  

It would be worthwhile to tell the scammers that your hearing isn't very good and ask them to e-mail the information they have about your computer.  If they do e-mail you that e-mail with the complete message header  can be turned over to the FBI or RCMP to assist them in their investigations of these international frauds.  

The problem with these telephone scam operations they are using inexpensive VOIP systems that costs next to nothing to make hundreds of calls from Asia to potential victims in North America.  One remedy that will hit them in the money maker is to make up an excuse to put them on hold.  Making scammers sit on hold probably won't cost them a whole lot but if making one operator in the boiler room sit on hold will slow down the ability to make calls, making it harder to find the poor souls who get sucked in and hand over their credit card numbers.

As much as it would make it a better world of these scammers were put out of business tomorrow, that unfortunately isn't going to happen.  These boiler room operations can and will spring up anywhere.  The only thing that will slow down this scam is educated computer users who simply will not fall these scams.  Yes there are creative ways that to tell them that you are one of those who will not fall for it.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Most People Overpay For Online Downloads And Subscriptions

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Most content online have fixed prices such as eight dollars a month Netflix or sixty dollars a year for Xbox Live for subscriptions or single downloads much as iTunes $1.29 per song.  Unknown to most people who key in their credit card numbers to access online content, they will end up paying much more than they think.

Many carry a balences on the same credit cards that they buy online downloads and subscriptions.  When someone uses a credit card carrying an outstanding balence the interest starts adding up the very second that Netflix charges the credit card account to collect their monthly fee or when the buy button is clicked on to start a download from iTunes.  

Relief from paying credit card interest on your online subscriptions and downloads may be as close as your debit card.  CIBC and TD have added Visa debit onto their Interac debit cards.  CIBC customers who have the advantage debit  card and TD customers who have a newer access card with the picture of the green chair can pay for online content with those cards.  Add your CIBC or TD debit card to your online accounts as if it's a Visa using the expiry date on the front of the card and the security code from the back of the card.  RBC customers can get a separate card for online purchases called the Virtual Visa Debit that provides the ability to pay through Visa but take the money from a chequing account.  BMO and ScotiaBank customers don't currently have this option, but there are reloadable prepaid Visa cards available through convenience stores and other outlets.  One of these reloadable prepaid are purchased, and can be reloaded using vouchers purchased at the same outlets that the reloadable Visa and MasterCards are sold, one thing that sets the reloadable cards apart is the ability to pay through one's own bank.  Through the traditional teller, ATM or through online banking.  The reloadable prepaid account  is set up as a payee on your bank account just like any other credit card account.  Using one of the many alternatives to one's traditional credit accounts will save a lot more money than they realize.