Thursday, 7 October 2004: Either kids and teens are becoming masters of the art of B.S. (and I don't mean Bachelor of Science here) or there are just some severely naive parents out there. Get a load of this...
I was reading an article in the Kane County Chronicle today entitled "A $5,564 shocker" right on the front page. It concerns a 17-year-old girl from Batavia and her mother who were shocked to receive cellphone bills from a two-month period totalling, yes, $5,564. These bills were assessed in late 2003 and early 2004 because the daughter had been using the cellphone to call her boyfriend in Germany who is a U.S. soldier (he's now in Iraq).
What kills me is that the mom isn't mad at the daughter (she was grounded for a month and must repay her mom), but she is more mad at the cellphone company for a few reasons.
- The cellphone company did not warn the family about overseas calls
- The company was unable to tell them the total of the bill until the billing cycle ended
- The company refused to give them more than a single billing cycle to make the payment
- The company threatened to use a collection agency if they did not pay in full
- The company refused to give them a break because the calls were to a serviceman
Yes, there is some good reason to be angry with the cellphone company. I wholeheartedly agree with #1, 2, and 3 above. I think cellular carriers need to figure out a system where billing can be determined in the middle of a cycle (especially in cases of unauthorized use — someone using without permission like this instance, a stolen cellphone, or a cloned cellular identity). It should be no more than a matter of reprogramming just a little bit so your computer system can read files in the middle of a cycle. Hell, if a regular phone company can do it, why not a cellular company?
The only reason they discovered this is because the daughter was also using the landline phone to call him and, when those calls racked up, AT&T shut down their phone service until they were able to speak directly to one of the homeowners. The parents became suspicious and tried to check their cellphone bills as well (why #2 above is a concern).
However, I'm still miffed about the mom's disavowal of her daughter's own responsibility in the matter. The girl is 17 for God's sake! The quote from the mom was, "Now I know that these kids had no idea what kid [sic] of bill they were creating. They were just being young and naive, just assuming they could talk on the phone like they did at home."
What, you regularly have to dial in intercontinental access codes when you make calls at home? That's part of your "just like at home" phone-use routine?
Or, how about this gem from mom, "My husband and I knew nothing about these calls in the middle of the night." Now, I could argue that the daughter was trying to hide her calls by making them in the middle of the night, but that is negated by time zone differences. Germany is, I believe, eight hours ahead of the Central Time Zone. She's just calling when it's a reasonable hour in Germany. Yet, wouldn't a parent be suspicious if their daughter was up that late on a phone? Cellphone reception, especially overseas, would be spotty and I can't imagine that whispering would work well. Wouldn't you ask a question or two about what was going on? Or wouldn't you want to know, after having a full charge on your phone the night before, why the battery meter now reads a lot lower?
Younger people are more aware of technology than older people, for the most part. I'm amazed by some of the computer work I've seen from 12 year olds. Kids' and teens' levels of tech savvy never ceases to impress me.
Even I knew better than to try to make long-distance phone calls without permission from my parents from about the age of 6. If the girl did not know any better, I would say that's the parents' fault.
My advice, put a lock on the phone. An access code for anything that is not local (landlines can do this) and a password on your cellphone would work wonders.
I'm ranting. I'm sorry.
Wednesday, 6 October 2004: My money says the FCC is quaking in their boots right about now.
Howard Stern has signed a deal to take his talk show to Sirius Satellite Radio. Why? Because he will be able to truly speak his mind as Sirius (and other satellite radio providers like XM) are not censored at all. Yikes, now that is a scary thought. We all thought Stern was off color as it was. I can't imagine what he's gonna be like now.
The deal was for five years and $500 million. DANG! That's a ton of dough for anyone, even an athlete, and it's being paid to an on-air personality.
My question is, where is Sirius getting the money? They don't have sponsors as satellite radio is supposed to be commercial free. Yes, there is a subscriber fee. But, in the five years that Sirius has been around (yes, that number struck me as odd, too), they have yet to make a profit considering their subscriber base is only 600,000 strong. Analysts say that just to come close to turning even a tiny profit, Sirius would need at least 1.3 million subscribers. What happens if the listener base doesn't make the switch to Sirius like the execs are hoping? Sure, some will. But will it be enough? And what happens if they don't and Sirius goes under?
Oh, the possibilities.
Tuesday, 5 October 2004: Ask and ye shall receive.
One of the most oft-requested (read: two people have e-mailed me) additions to this site is a page that cross lists some of my movie reviews by my rating. Some people have asked to be able to see what movies have been ranked by yours truly as the creme de la creme. Well, now you have it. The Best of the Best page is now up and lists all the movies in my Movie Critique that have received four-and-a-half and five star ratings.
Just a note, the page only lists the movies by title, not by review. Just click on the title to read the review.
I've been contemplating a Worst of the Worst page as well, but that's another project, another day. We shall see.
Don't say I never did anything for all of you.
Monday, 4 October 2004: I am having a really tough time dealing with the fact that we are already in October. This year has just been unreal in terms of how fast it has passed by. Hell, we're already starting up week 5 of the NFL season and the regular season for baseball is done and gone (as are the Cubs' chances). It's just sick how quickly it has all gone by.
I would also like to wish a farewell to Chip Caray, one of the Cubs principle broadcasters. He is leaving Chicago to join his dad, Skip, as a broadcaster for the Atlanta Braves. I wish him well and will miss his voice as I watch the Cubs play.
Sunday, 3 October 2004: I hate when this kind of crap is pulled. Today, the Sunday sale ads came out and everybody is advertising the DVD release of special and limited editions of Shawshank Redemption and The Untouchables. Both have already been released in regular editions and I own both. Studios do this all the time. Heck, some movies out there, like Army of Darkness, have three or four versions available on DVD.
Usually, I refuse to buy into these special editions once I already own a copy, but Shawshank Redemption is my all-time favorite movie and I am pretty sure I would actually watch the bonus features and listen to the commentary unlike all my other DVD sets. You see, I'm not a big fan of many of the extras that are available on DVDs. Save for deleted scenes, alternate endings, and blooper/gag reels, I just don't like to watch the additional garbage. There's just not enough time in the day. Shawshank, on the other hand...