Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Monday, 2017.09.25
Like a glass house of cards.

		Patron at The Market, 1/5/2002

2006.11.27

Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

I’ve been fighting a number of battles over the past 6 months or more. I’ve also let a few dings go unanswered. Like the General says, you have to pick your battles. It looks to be time for releasing some of these into the wild. As I found with Cherubim Foundation, some folks just don’t respond to common sense, fairness and decency until they realize the rock they’ve slithered under has been turned over, exposing them to the light of day and the view of the world.

Today, the rock I’m flipping over is the one under which Eric Jensen and his business, Jensen Musical Instruments, are hiding. This leech, Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments, robbed me of $2,000.

Last February, I signed a contract for a custom built electric cello and put down better than half the money. I had done my home work and researched a number of potential vendors over the course of 3 months before deciding on Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I consider myself a pretty sharp Internet buyer and have never lost so much as a dime due to a fraudulent transaction conducted over the Internet. I’ve been shopping on-line for over 8 years. The BBB said Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was good, a number of professional musicians credit Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on their CD’s and I had a good conversation with Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on the phone where we discussed instrument options and such.

Even so, just how many crooks bank on getting rich by flipping phony electric stringed instruments? The electric cello niche has to be pretty damn small. It’s a small market and if you run a bad deal your reputation will suffer. Or at least it should. That’s the purpose behind this post. I doubt I’ll ever seem my $2,000 again, but I sure don’t want Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments sucking on anyone else.

But the Internet wasn’t the problem. Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments could have ripped me off just as easily if he had a shop here in Denver. But he is in Seattle which complicates the idea of making a visit. The leech no doubt had this in mind as he negotiated the theft of my $2,000.

Follow the links to learn the details about Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I have an attorney working on this to explore the consequences of the leech having conducted such a transaction over the Internet, across state lines and such. I’d like to shut down his web site (which I won’t link to) but until I get some kind of judgment this doesn’t look to be possible. Does anyone know anything different about shutting down a web site?

So you know, I have since acquired an electric cello. It’s a beautiful 6 string instrument from Ned Steinberger. The Steinberger was my second choice only because the vapor-instrument from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was pitched as having a few bells and whistles which I liked a little better. In addition, the non-existent Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments vapor-instrument was alleged to be slightly smaller and thus easier to travel with (a major purpose for acquiring an electric cello in the first place.)

The Steinberger cello is a beautiful instrument and the customer service from both NS Design and their recommended vendor was outstanding. The Steinberger cello deserves its own post in the near future.

By the way, did I mention that the leech which stole $2,000 from me was Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments? What the leech doesn’t know and certainly doesn’t care about is that this is money from Janet’s life insurance policy. Money I set aside exclusively to bring music back into my life. The fucker stole blood money and may his wretched business life suffer the curse of psychotic customers until he returns my money and re-reimburses me for my expenses. I tried to do business on your terms, leech, but you failed. So now you are doing battle on my terms. Cash only, leech.

[Edit History]

2007.03.07

See update post:

The Paper It’s Printed On

2006.08.18

In-Flight Internet Abandoned

I’m not surprised by this:

Boeing is scrapping its in-flight high speed broadband service because of lack of interest from leading airlines.

The discontinuation of its Connexion service will cost the plane maker $320m (£169m) in one-off charges.

There are probably any number of reasons, vaguely encapsulated by Boeing’s reason of “Regrettably, the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected.” Specifically, I’d venture the following:

  • It’s yet another thing the airline has to support, which adds to their cost.

  • Focusing on a computer screen for the duration of a flight is tiring on the eyes, even for the few times I have attempted to do this. There are enough headache causing things about air travel. No need to add another.

  • Airplanes are just not good places to focus on work. Anything from turbulence to interruptions by flight attendants passing peanuts and beverages to row mates getting up to go to the bathroom make it near impossible to keep a decent train of thought going if you want to write an article or work on software code.
  • Security rules have made the prospect of pulling out a laptop during a flight increasingly inconvenient. I can foresee a day where laptops in the cabin will be forbidden.

  • For a lot of people, there just isn’t enough space to open a laptop. If you are my size (6′ 5″) it is flat out impossible. The few times I’ve been able to open a laptop and do some work for an hour or more it has been because the seat next to me was open allowing me to use that seat’s drop down tray.

These, and I’m sure other things I’m not thinking of at the moment, push “Internet Access” down on the list of desired amenities during an airline flight. Criminy, these days I’m just delighted, as I’m sure are others, to keep the clothes on my body without security confiscating them.

2006.06.17

Modern Day Marshalsea

While on a recent trip I found myself short of cash. “Not to worry,” me thinks. “A convenient cash advance from my credit card and all will be set right.” And so it was, until I got my credit card bill. I hadn’t done any kind of cash advance for years, as in 15 years. Having learned early about the black pit that is “Credit Card Debt,” I vowed to myself as a young lad never to fall into that dark, unholy place again. Since that day, I’ve paid my credit card balance in full each month.

But there are new rules (new to me, anyway) about cash advances. Not only do you pay a “fee” for the cash advance transaction, $20 in my case, but the damn thing is subject to immediate and Draconian finance charges. Check out the APR put in place by a simple cash advance:

Ouch

It would seem with the recent changes in bankruptcy laws (aggressively lobbied for by the banking and credit card industry) and the ability to jack interest rates to such obscene levels, the credit card industry has successfully pilfered the signage above the very gates of Hell: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” All the more reason to be mindful of the benefits of hard work and grateful I can pay my balance in full each month.

2006.06.12

Michael Yon Still Fighting HFM, et al.

I purchased a legitimate print of this photograph, Strength and Compassion, from michaelyon-online.com and have it on prominent display in my office as a reminder of why we are fighting, what we are fighting and what it takes to be successful. The story behind the moment captured in this image of Major Mark Bieger carrying a little girl named Farah is particularly compelling. As a consequence, I have a small stake in preserving the integrity of this image as desired by Michael Yon. I therefore view the use of this image by HFM, in the manner in which they have done so, to be personally offensive.

[Edit History]

2006.06.19 – Sweet. Never underestimate the power in an Army of Davids.

2006.06.11

You Don’t Belong To You

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

A new state law that would allow Floridians to block access to their credit histories could be superseded by one of several federal proposals now working their ways through Congress.

Consumer advocates say one of the federal measures in particular would eviscerate the state “security-freeze” law, which was designed to protect credit files from identity theft.

I’ve been an advocate for such a credit report freeze for a long time. Credit checks are a critical link in the chain of events leading to identity theft. Anyone attempting to use your personal data to acquire a credit card, cell phone account or plethora of other items and services typically has to clear the credit check hurdle. In my experience, this has largely been regarded as a mere formality, something to breeze through on your way to acquiring that wicked kuel widget. If the vendor hit a credit lock, the bell would ring and stop the transaction.

I have not had my identity stolen, but I do have an Evil Twin. Some deadbeat dad with almost the same name as I (different middle name.) Since first becoming aware of this cretin during my first semester as an undergraduate, its been periodic waves of cleaning this bum’s stain off of my life. I’ve been sued by hospitals for Evil Twin’s unpaid medical bills, chased by the State of Alaska for child support to the tune of $40,000 (I have no children), harassed by a correspondence school in New York for non-payment of course materials and bunches of other bill collection issues. Some of Evil Twin’s slime ended up on my credit report and it took two years of effort to clear the record.

Had I been able to lock my credit report, this piece of the headache would have been prevented. The time measured in years it takes to clear a credit record is more than offset by the relatively infrequent delay in completing large item purchases (the ones that typically require a credit check.) And that’s all it is, a delay. I have every confidence the vendor will be interested in my money even after waiting a week or two.

But unfortunately for you and I, the credit card companies are not particularly interested in our pain and suffering. That’s all just collateral damage under the bridge in the name of maximizing business profits.

The Industry wants to limit the opportunity to freeze a credit history to those victimized by ID theft or those who have good reason to suspect their personal financial information has been compromised.

“The Industry” isn’t interested in preventing our suffering but they are willing to let us close the barn door after the horse has run off. Consider this: Its as if “The Industry” has control over all the doors on your house and by default all those doors are unlocked. This is so they can walk in when they please and entice you with nifty bobbles and shinny trinkets. They cannot do this if you control the locks. However, if your house is robbed and everything of value cleaned out, “The Industry” is gracious enough to let you lock the doors so that vast stash of nothing you have won’t be stolen.

I suspect most of the population has a purchasing strategy that doesn’t go much beyond their brain stem and can be summed up as “See shinny object. Bite.” But then there’s the rest of us who give due consideration to our purchases. A minority who are capable of independently determining what are our needs and what are our wants. Believe it or not, we don’t need advertising to discriminate between the two.

Many consumers may not realize how inconvenient a freeze on access to their credit records can be until they try getting quick approval to finance a purchase, said Anthony Dimarco, vice president of the Florida Bankers Association.

“My biggest concern is if a consumer signs up for a freeze, then goes shopping at a department store and wants to get instant credit approval to buy something,” he said. “Suddenly, reality raises its head. You can’t unfreeze your credit instantaneously. The person may realize that’s not really what they want.”

That’s your biggest concern, Mr. Dimarco? First may I suggest some mouth wash because your breath stinks when you make such feeble attempts to tell us how we should be thinking about this. Secondly, your assertion reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about what at least some of your customers want. Those who are diligent about preserving the integrity of their credit history and who choose to make the effort to lock their credit report, are not the type to find themselves in the middle of a department store blindly signing up for instant credit. Rather, myself and others realize there is a far greater chance of some criminal attempting to get your instant credit in my good name. That’s what reality’s head looks like to us. And preventing that, Mr. Dimarco, IS what I really want.

[Edit History]

2006.08.02

Amy Alkon reminded me of another aspect to this issue. In addition to being particularly insensitive toward actually preventing fraud, “The Industry” would also rather you do the leg work for them in tracking down the deadbeats. Its implied in the description of what I’ve had to battle with in regards to my Evil Twin. A company is owed money by Evil Twin. Some butt hole flips open the phone book, looks up my name and says “Oh, look! Evil Twin is in the phone book!” and they initiate the machine to start hammering me for Evil Twin’s delinquency.

Sometimes I wish having a thought was attached to the pleasure/pain centers of the brain such that logical thoughts had a pleasant sensation whereas illogical thoughts had all the comfort of giving birth to a water buffalo through the nose. Note to “The Industry” bill collector butt holes: Deadbeats are not responsible enough to maintain their own phone number and such so just move along.

Alas, all I can to is rant, for sure as water buffalos are big, “The Industry” isn’t likely to care. In fact, they would care greatly if some legislation with muscle was in place that dinged them mightily for not fact checking. “The Industry” would undoubtedly vigorously fight such legislation. No, they would much rather I go to great lengths to prove the negative, that I am NOT Evil Twin. Having done that, they move on to the next poor soul listed in the phone book with the same name as the deadbeat. You would have an easier time convincing me that I am short than convincing me this is anything other than deliberate strategy.

2006.04.02

Spilling The Beans – Cherubim Foundation Update IV

“It is…due to circumstance beyond our control that Cherubim Foundation is closing it’s doors,” begins a letter to donors from the Unfounding Board of Directors for Cherubim Foundation. I haven’t received this letter. It was sent forward by a friend who did. So far no one in my family or Janet’s family received the letter. Apparently what we did wasn’t worth recognizing and thousands of dollars donated over the years doesn’t count. Whatever.

The polytope that is Cherubim Foundation’s demise is difficult to hold in one space and grok the gestalt. Probably not worth the effort, actually. A few of the facets, however, are particularly shinny and merit a closer look by anyone considering starting or participating in a nonprofit organization. Likewise, there is much that can be learned from this experience which may help other organizations facing similar challenges. The veils of diplomacy and secrecy are no longer needed in this story so lets just tip over the bean jar and have a look at the circumstances they couldn’t control. (more…)

2006.03.16

Taking the “e” Out of e-Commerce

These good people deserve a plug for making me laugh. I’d ordered several Zoe Keating CD’s and this is the e-receipt that was sent. Normally I barely glance at these things, but this one managed to make the transaction a little less electronic.

Thanks for your order with CD Baby!

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make
sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that
money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Monday, March 13th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby.  We sure did. 
Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year".  We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
the little CD store with the best new independent music
phone: 1-800-448-6369  email: cdbaby@cdbaby.com
http://cdbaby.com

This is also where you can find the excellent tunes from David M. Bailey.

2006.02.22

Cherubim Foundation Update III

I knew the Board had handed Judy Holland unprecedented powers as part of their feeble efforts to find an Executive Director, but this is unbelievable. Ms. Holland is listed as Cherubim Foundation’s Founder on the Colorado Nonprofit Association’s web site (original screen capture here), presumably for the past 8 months. I noted previously they seemed to loose track of when Janet actually passed away. But to loose track of who actually founded the organization? A lot of people are owed an apology. Wow.

Colorado Nonprofit Association Listing for Cherubim Foundation

2005.12.15

Cherubim Foundation Update II

I have begun work to codify the business model which had proven successful for the first six years of Cherubim Foundation’s existence but elusive to new members of the organization. This will include components that worked, triage of those that didn’t and possible remedies to those weaknesses. Clearly, Cherubim Foundation’s transformation since Janet’s passing has exposed many of these weaknesses and as such will provide valuable insight into strengthening the business model. This will likely take a while as there is considerable material to work through. With plans to release under a Creative Commons license, I anticipate having a first draft ready for public review late in 2006. It is likely that at about the same time I’ll make a determination on whether or not to start a new organization in line with the vision Janet and I held for Cherubim Foundation.

Meanwhile, it seems the Board of Directors for Cherubim Foundation isn’t interested in taking responsibility for their decisions or answering questions. They wouldn’t do it privately and they’re not going to do it publicly. They’re quitting. Funny, the Board builds a wall while I press for answers until I’m spent. Tape a weblog note on the window to the world and the whole thing collapses. When it was eight fending off one lone voice of concern it was no doubt easy to wrap themselves in patronizing platitudes. How things change when it becomes eight against hundreds. Thank you all for your support.

Rather than do the work to move Cherubim Foundation toward a successful future, a process made significantly more difficult by their failure to correct bad decisions rather than having made bad decisions, they’re quitting. The latest missive follows with my comments included in-line. (more…)

2005.12.08

From the Just-Between-You-Me-And-The-Cube-Farm Department

I never assumed I was alone in detesting the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) phone tree systems which are becoming ubiquitous when calling companies of just about any size. I was delighted to find that a gentleman named Paul English maintains a list of keypad cheats called “The IVR Cheat Sheet“.

While I begrudgingly submit to having to learn yet another way of negotiating the information age’s equivalent of walking across hot coals (i.e. the phone tree), my concern for this latest “advancement” goes deeper. Namely, if I wish to discuss a bill with my insurance company, for example, I am forced to say my account number and social security number loud enough for the machine to understand me across a voice line. (This assumes I don’t know the cheat codes.) The required volume needs to be sufficiently loud enough such that anyone within 20 feet or more is going to hear me recite my account information. And if the machine doesn’t understand, those within hearing range will benefit with the repetition of sensitive account information. In order to protect this information, I now have to secure my environment, which is not always possible. Such IVR systems are decidedly less convenient and less secure.

This point is, not surprisingly, omitted in a response to Mr. English’s cheat sheet by Angel.com, a leading provider of on-demand IVR solutions. Angel.com has released their own “cheat sheet” for the business which use IVR products. Tip number two reads:

Do not hide the option for callers to speak with a live agent. No matter how useful your IVR system is for customers, there will always be a segment of customers who prefer to speak to a live agent to resolve their issue.

Prefer? It should be a requirement that account information must be keyed in via the telephone keypad. Several provision of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) were put in place to protect patient privacy. Most generally this applied to hospitals and doctor’s offices. I see no reason why insurance companies shouldn’t be accountable for providing the same level of privacy to their customers.

[Edit History]

2006.03.09

A related story on the problems of speaking aloud from Peter Cochrane’s blog, “Snooping on a BlackBerry fool”, and a discussion on Bruce Schneier’s blog.

2006.08.13

Updated link to Paul English’s “IVR Cheat Sheet“.

2005.11.04

Cherubim Foundation Update I

Someone sent along a copy of the new brochure for Cherubim Foundation. Is anyone in the office proofreading? Are they paying attention to any details? Janet died in April, folks.

It also incorrectly lists Fresh Squeezed Books as supporting the organization. Fresh Squeezed Books does not support Cherubim Foundation.

[Edit History]

2006.02.22 – A printing of this brochure from a month earlier actually had the correct date for Janet’s passing. The incorrect date was an intentionally modification. The first printing had its own problems, however, including trademarked material belonging to another organization used without permission. Hence the second printing.

2005.10.14

Once more unto the breach, dear friends – Cherubim Foundation’s Future

I’d like to start with a brief measure of your moral and ethical fortitude. Imagine you are coming out of a store and you see a car pull out of a parking space and smash into another car. You watch as the car drives away, making note of the offending driver’s easy to remember vanity license plate. As far as you know, you are the only one to have witnessed this accident. How would you respond? Would you call the police? Leave a note on the damaged car? Or would you just get on with your life and not get involved? Image the same story, except you recognize the damaged car as belonging to a friend you had met while shopping. Now what would you do? Your response to these scenarios will help put what follows in context.

This past August I was on an island in the South Pacific, relaxing into a little space to clear my mind and find some peace since Janet’s death in April. The month after her death had required my full attention as I worked to provide a memorial for family, Janet’s extended and impressive network of friends and any members of the public who wished to show their respect. Concurrent with and following this event has been a depressing solitary process of disassembling what remained of Janet’s life – her cremation, her psychotherapy practice, her business interests, her bank accounts, her medications, her clothes and uncounted smaller changes that if nothing else reminded me she was gone. Sorting through many, many thoughts and memories on Kaua`i, what emerged were five or six key areas I wanted to focus on in hopes of rebuilding a foundation for the future. (more…)

2001.08.10

From The Moving-From-Cubes-To-Boxes Department

Apparently, former dot-com workers are crowding homeless shelters. Gee, lessons learned: Profitability is a good thing, on-line shopping carts don’t have cranky wheels and venture capital isn’t as real as spare change for a cup of coffee.

RANT MODE = ON

Due to a year long struggle with Java Zen’s (now) former ISP, I have switched to Qwest (Queer Way Everyone Seems to Talk). I heard it would be bad. I knew it would be bad. It is bad. Two weeks later, Qwest (Quickly Whack Every Single Trouble-ticket) still doesn’t have it right. Add to this their shoddy handling of the Code Red worms which keep shutting down Java Zen’s Cisco router (Cisco gets a ding for this, too. In fact, ding Microsoft while your at it since the worms only affect their products. There’s a reason I run Apache on Linux. “Hey Qwest! Pitch the Windows and get a real operating system.”) Short story: Java Zen doesn’t have a static IP address and until it does, you would have to get really, really lucky in guessing the DHCP assigned IP. How much free time to YOU have?

RANT MODE = OFF

Have a nice day.


All content copyright © 1994 - Gregory Paul Engel, All Rights Reserved. The content or any portion thereof from this web site may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written consent of Gregory Paul Engel. Queries may be sent to greg dot engel at javazen dot com.

Page 2 of 212

No posts for this category or search criteria.