Category Archives: Crazy Stuff

See crazy stuff I have encountered

MSC Meraviglia Internet Speeds [its not all bad]

I recently enjoyed a 7 day cruise around the mediterranean (from Barcelona) with MSC aboard the MSC Meraviglia, a massive, massive cruise liner, 4th largest in the world at the time of writing carrying 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew.

Obviously with running various  online businesses I was very concerned about the internet access on board at sea as I need to connect to various servers and web sites during the time on board.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that MSC offers various internet packages for its customers so they can still access their social media, emails and other internet services  whilst on board.

MSC provides 300MB satellite connection available for shared use by its customers*.

Below is a couple of speed tests I made on my iphone and as you can see the connection is pretty decent.

*So sure, 300MB connection shared amongst 6,000 people is a scary prospect, but MSC “wisely” puts a price barrier and bandwidth limit on the packages they offer which prevents passengers abusing/hogging the connection. Result being: decent speeds all round.

I opted for the “Premium” internet package at €89.90 which offers up to 4GB of bandwidth. I ran out of bandwidth by day 5 and merely topped up with another €26 for another 2GB and that got me through the whole cruise. I pretty much had facebook and email on all the time onboard and was not really being too careful what I was viewing. Obviously if you try and stream netflix or movies, then the bandwidth is going to accumulate quick.

SIDE WARNING: If you take your mobile phone on board, MAKE SURE YOU TURN OFF THE CELLULAR/3G/4G SERVICE otherwise your phone company will charge you stupid amounts for any internet access.

Below is a message I got from my provider in Spain each time we went out of range of land based connections and as you can see its ripoff prices for internet access through satellite.

NOTE: In Europe, since 2018, you can enjoy free internet roaming but that’s only for land based connections, not offshore satellite which is a different story altogether.

Paypal Is Expensive

I just went to convert £529.45 to Euros in my paypal account and noticed that paypal was offering the exchange rate at €1.14, when my currency ticker on my desktop is showing €1.17, a difference of 3 euro cents.

So I checked xe.com and transferwise.com to compare rates and was taken aback at how much paypal is “skimming” from the exchange.

See my screenshot mash up of the different rates.

Basically paypal is making a shit tonne of money on currency exchange I suspect even more expensive than high street banks.

Bizarre, Antiquated Renewal Method From My Firewall Company

I just wanted to write this more out of frustration than anything because I cannot believe how some companies deal with their clients. Even in the US which is supposed to be at the forefront of technology they are using things like “telephones” to communicate and asking clients to “phone in” and give their credit cards “over the phone” which anyone should know is one of the most insecure methods of paying for anything.

Anyway, to cut a really long story short, I use a certain software firewall product for one of my production windows servers. Its an excellent product, there is no doubt but MAN, the customer service from this company is antiquated.

The software license on this product has expired a couple of weeks ago, I did not get any notification, thats fine I guess, but really I would have expected their system to send me a polite reminder saying that the license is coming up to expire rather than me having to rely on remembering it.

So when I realised that it had expired, I quickly  logged into their “customer portal” and raised a support ticket to ask them how to renew because there was no way on their web site or within the portal for me to make a payment or renew the license.

Here is the ticket thread for your amusement (and mine).

You need to read it in reverse order starting at the bottom to understand the thread.

bacl-to-the-old-days

Do not use Network Solutions for Domain Registration – They Suck

This is an open letter/post to all of those who are thinking to use Network Solutions to purchase their domain name(s). Its also an open letter to the Network Solutions Managers, Owners, Shareholder etc highlighting the absolute failings and poor customer service I have received from Network Solutions.

Before I start, let me say without a doubt, that Network Solutions SUCK. I have spoken to their customer care representatives and spoken to their managers and the service on a business level simply, sucks. I will never ever use or recommend Network Solutions again and will do whatever I can to put off people using Network Solutions. If I ever win the euromillions lottery jackpot I will allocate a few million of it to take down Network Solutions or put such a dent in the PR that they will have a really hard time.

To begin, I have recently been asked by a client to consolidate all their 400+ domains names into their godaddy account (also not the best registrar but thats a another story) as they have been using various registrars over time to register different domains and they are finding it hard to keep up, so having all their domains in one place allows them to work more efficiently to manage their domain names.

The client gave me the Network Solutions login credentials to initiate the transfer from Network Solutions over to Godaddy, so I logged in, and performed my usual tasks when transferring a domain name.

1. Changed the registrant and contact details and contact email for the domain name to mine so that I would receive the EPP transfer request.
2. Unlocked the domain name from within Network Solutions control panel.

I have done the above thousands of times throughout my domain management career.

Within 30 minutes I received this automated email saying that the admin contact had been changed.

ns-change-of-admin

So to ensure that my details were in fact registered as the admin, I did a whois check on the Network Solutions web site and confirmed my details were updated and subsequently requested the EPP code.

I waited 24 hours for the EPP transfer code from Network Solutions. It never arrived. I checked my spam folder on the server, I checked the spam/junk folder on my computer, the email from Network Solutions was nowhere to be found.

So to be sure, I whitelisted networksolutions.com on my server spam filters and requested the EPP transfer code again.

Same thing. It never arrives. Usually this type of thing arrives within minutes, maybe a few hours, as its usually on an automated system.

By now, 4 days have passed so I realised that perhaps I should raise a support ticket with Network Solutions and ask them whats going on. So I proceeded to raise a support ticket inside the Network Solutions control panel on 20/8/2013 to received a replay a few hours later saying:

Dear Craig Edmonds, I apologize for the delayed response. Based on your inquiry regarding the domain {DOMAIN}.COM, please be informed that only the Primary Contact in the account can request for domain transfers. In order to properly assist you, we need to first authenticate the Primary Contact?s account access as you have submitted this request as a non-listed contact. Since this information is sensitive, please inform the Primary Contact to call our Customer Service Department at 1-888-642-9675 for immediate assistance.

If you believe there is an error, please refer to the records in our WHOIS database to view the Account Holder information for this domain name registration: http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/whois/index.jhtml. I hope this has resolved your issue. If you have any other questions about this issue, please contact our Support Center and refer to Service Request # 1-692334072.

A Specialist will be happy to further assist you and ensure that we completely resolve your issue as quickly as possible. Thank you, BENJAMIN045 Technical Support Specialist Network Solutions US/Canada: 1.866.391.4357 International: 1.570.708.8788 (c) Copyright 2013 Network Solutions, LLC. All rights reserved.

Their response is saying that only the “Primary Contact” in the account can make the request. For those who dont know, domains names have several contact types: 1. Registrant Contact 2. Administrative Contact 3. Technical Contact 4. Billing Contact.

I was listed as the Registrant contact and the Administrative contact so was not 100% clear on what “Primary Contact” meant because when transferring domains, its usually the “Administrative Contact” that is the primary contact for a domain and thats where the EPP transfer code goes. However it seems this is not the case with Network Solutions, they seem to have their own rules.

So I called up Network Solutions from Spain to the US number they provided in their response in order to clarify what “Primary Contact” meant. After 15 minutes it was explained to me that the “Primary Contact” is the name and company details on the Network Solutions account, not the domain name and in order for me to receive the details, I would need to EITHER:

1. change the details of the “Primary Contact” on the Network Solutions account to mine and then request the code again
2. send in a signed statement on corporate letterhead and a photo id of the named contact on the “Primary Contact” details

Only then could I request the EPP Code, so I went with item 1 and items 2 would require me to make several phone calls and emails adding more time to the already prolonged process.

After visually confirm that my details were now in place on the “Primary Contact” within the Network Solutions control panel, I proceeded to request the EPP transfer code again which arrived after a few hours.

WOOOOHOOO! Progress!

ns-auth-code

I was glad that it was so smooth so proceeded to login to my clients Godaddy account and initiate the transfer. I received confirmation from Godaddy that the transfer for the domain had started and that I would need to wait for the request to be approved by Network Solutions.

However, and this is where the real problems start, around 72 hours after initiating the transfer request, Godaddy sends me an email telling me that Network Solutions has denied the transfer request and that the process is now cancelled. As the registrant and administrative contact, I never received any confirmation or authorisation request from Network Solutions asking my permission to transfer the domain, Network Solutions simply denied the request and terminated the transfer process.

ns-godaddy

So all the work I have done so far has been for nothing. So I thought perhaps it was a mistake so initiated the transfer request again with Godaddy, double checked inside the Network Solutions control panel that the domain name was indeed unlocked and I was indeed listed as the registrant and administrative contact (just in case I missed it). I also did a whois check again to make sure.

Lo and behold, 72 hours later the domain transfer was denied again. At this point I am starting to get a bit annoyed so contact Network Solutions again via an expensive international phone call and am told that when someone logs into the Network Solutions control panel and updates the who is contact email address, the domain name is automatically locked. This lock is not the normal transfer lock as the domain actually appears in the control panel as being unlocked,. No, this is an internal lock put in by Network Solutions to prevent outgoing transfers.

I was then informed that I would be updated by ticket and a few minutes later I received the following.

Thank you for contacting Network Solutions Quality Processing Department. We are committed to creating the best customer experience possible.

We have received your request to remove the Transfer Lock on your domain name(s). In order to remove the lock we must first validate you as the rightful contact on the account.

· Since your name is registered to an organization please supply a signed statement requesting the lock be removed from the applicable domain names. Print the request on Company Letterhead, or provide a Business License, Company by Laws, or trademark papers. Please also include a photo copy of your state issued ID or Passport. The signature on your ID should match the signature on the request.

Please fax this information to 570-708-0171. Upon receipt, validation will occur and the lock will be removed within 24 hours.

Do not reply directly to this e-mail, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Service Department. For your convenience, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-642-9675. If you are calling from outside the U.S. or Canada, please call 1-570-708-8788.

I called them back and explained that its a ridiculous request as the details they are asking for can easily be forged therefore negating any credible request, however I was told that is their policy and the only way to get it removed would be to send in the documents they are requesting.

So I succumb to their request and decide it probably best just to comply, make the effort to raise the documents, find a fax machine and send them the details to Network Solutions and then move on.

So I proceed to create the letterhead, write the fax with the request, take my passport and proceed to the nearest copy centre to get a copy of my passport and send the fax and passport copy (as I do not have a fax machine as its 2013 and there is a thing called email which I use on a daily basis).

The guy in the copy centre tells me that the number receiving the fax is not working. So I ask him to try and again, same issue. I ask him to try a third time thinking “third time lucky” and still the fax would not send. The guy in the copy centre explains that maybe I should try later, so I return back home.

A few hours later I go to a different copy centre and ask them to send the fax. Same thing. Fax number is not working. So again I ask the lady there to try and try again. Same result.

I live in Marbella, Spain and its the month of August which is high summer here and its sweltering. Sweat is pouring off me, I am annoyed, hot and bothered as I am not able to send the fax to Network Solutions, so return home again to give Network Solutions a call to ask them for another number or email address I can send to.

So, once again, I make an expensive international call to Network Solutions to speak to someone who I explain the situation to and if he could kindly give me another number so I can send the documents, only to be told that its not his department and that I need to phone another number. 10 minutes of my life I cannot get back.

So I call the number 001-877-307-1435 and speak to a Network Solution “Customer Call Specialist” called “Aaron” and explain the situation again and he puts me on hold for a bit, comes back and explains what I already know and I explain again that I cant send the fax, so he says the magical words to me “No problems, we can do it over the phone, I just need to verify your security questions in the accounts”.

I am like…”errr what security questions?” I told him this is my clients account and do not know where the questions are. Aaron says more magical words “No problems, what I can do is verify you by calling you on the number listed in the Primary account contact details”. This would work as my number is listed, so one call, and Aaron was going to get the lock removed. BRILLIANT!!

So whilst I was waiting for his call I looked inside the Network Solutions control panel for security questions. I did actually have to do a google search “where are the security questions inside network solutions control panel”…and finally found them and changed them to ones that I know.

Unfortunately though, I had my damn iphone on “do not disturb” mode, so did not hear the phone when Aaron called so a few minutes later i picked up my phone and noticed some missed calls. I was like “FFF************CCCCCKKKKK”.

So another call to Network Solutions and luckily I got straight through to Aaron and i explained that my phone was on silent however I can answer the security questions but he said “Its okay we will do the phone verification again”. So I hung up and waited for his call and received the call no problems and he told me that “I have manually verified you now so within the next 48 hours the lock on the domain name will be removed”.

We discussed the EPP code again and he said it will be resent and I asked Aaron if I would receive a notification that the the lock would be removed, so that I can then initiate a transfer at Godaddy again. He confirmed that I would. I thanked him thinking that, that was that.

30 minutes after speaking to Aaron, I receive the following email:

Thank you for contacting Network Solutions Quality Processing Department. We are committed to creating the best customer experience possible.

We have received your request to remove the Transfer Lock on your domain name(s). In order to remove the lock we must first validate you as the rightful contact on the account.

· Since your name is registered under an individual account please supply a signed statement requesting the lock be removed from the applicable domain names along with a photo copy of state issued ID or Passport. The signature on your ID should match the signature on the request.

Please fax this information to 570-708-0171. Upon receipt, validation will occur and the lock will be removed within 24 hours.

Do not reply directly to this e-mail, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Customer Service Department. For your convenience, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-642-9675. If you are calling from outside the U.S. or Canada, please call 1-570-708-8788.

Sincerely,

Lori G.
Quality Processing Specialist
Network Solutions
registrar@networksolutions.com

You HAVE to be kidding me right? I just spoke at length with someone at Network Solutions about this and was told the domain would be unlocked, in addition the account is regsitred to my company NOT an individual….so I simply put it down to a system error on their end and awaited the email confirmation that Aaron promised me.

Thats was 27th of August, its the 31st of August today. More than 48 hours.

So I create yet another a ticket (because you cant reopen closed tickets) inside the Network Solutions Control Panel explaining the situation AGAIN and feel that it would also be better to also back it up with a phone call, so make yet another call to Network Solutions and speak to “Fershell” and explain the situation, only to be told that I need to fax the documents. I did explain that the fax number they are giving me does not work,s o after a few minutes of being on hold she tells me that I can fax the documents to hosting@networksolutions.com.

Errr..in order to email these documents, I would need to scan them right? I dont have a scanner. Fershall explains that I can only either send them by fax or email, there is absolutely no other way, so fortunately, being the owner of an smartphone I had a bright idea to take a picture of the documents with my iphone, email the pictures to myself, download them and then include them in an email to Network Solutions.

So thats what I did and called Network Solutions again and managed to get through to Fershell. He asked for a contact number and he would call me as soon as he finds the documents I had mailed.

So within about 2 hours I get a call from him saying that he has received the documents. So I say “great, so the domain name will be unlocked within 24/48 hours?”.

Fershell tells me “no, sorry, its a holiday on monday next week so the earliest it can be done is tuesday”.

So I waited three days and received the notification from Network Solutions that the domain had been “unlocked”. I then proceeded with the transfer as normal and my client now has it in their account.

So what should have taken only a few minutes, took DAYS to sort out as well as time wasted with me trying to send faxes, send emails and costly international calls to their support team.

I will never, ever use or recommend Network Solutions to anyone.

[SOLVED] Too many authentication failures using Transmit and SFTP

Yesterday and today, I was trying to connect to a new clients server using SFTP with my mac FTP software Transmit on my mac book pro which is running Mountain Lion.

I opened Transmit, entered my new sftp details given to me by the server manager, and received the error below, which I have never ever seen before.

So I checked with the clients server manager and he confirmed he was able to connect from his pc to the server with my credentials no problems. So of course I checked, double checked to make sure I was entering the correct login details and confirmed that my ip was not blocked or anything like that.

Then I tried the same login details on a windows machine on a different network and my other mac. They were connecting just fine so in the end I figured that it must be something on my own mac that causing the connection problem.

So, then I opened up “console” (Applications > Utilities) to see what it was logging and when I was trying to connect with sftp through transmit, console logging was giving me the error “Received disconnect from <remote_server> 2: Too many authentication failures for <user_name>.

This message kind of makes it looks like its the server is kicking me out. But its not the remote server, in the end I have figured out that its in fact the ssh identities on my mac.

The fastest remedy for this was to simply flush all the ssh identities on my mac using the command below in terminal (Applications > Utilities)

ssh-add -D

After doing that, I was then able to connect Transmit using sftp (without key authentication).

So thanks to the following pages for helping me identify the issue and a remedy.

Fixing the Heroku “Too many authentication failures for git” problem
SSH returns “too many authentication failures” error – HostGator

Seriously Sick Spammer Using Kids Cancer as a Guise

Well just when I thought spammers could not get any lower on the scum ladder, I have received an email to my inbox just now titled “Children’s Cancer Institute Australia – Privacy Policy”.

I have donated to some Cancer charities in the past whilst trying to do my “bit” so thought it was in relation to that, so my heart fluttered for a moment and decided to read it to see what it says.

However on closer reading, I can see that its a spammers attempt to send me email about their very own spam services, nothing to do at all with the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia.

Below is a screenshot of the email I have received and the headers are beneath that in case any of my hacking buddies fancied doing some good for once and taking these people out of business.

If Interpol is watching, please take these sick and disgusting people down.

Just click on the image below to enlarge.

Return-Path:
Delivered-To: craig@123marbella.com
Received: from smtp27.gate.ord1a (smtp27.gate.ord1a.rsapps.net [10.130.4.27])
by store170a.mail.ord1a (SMTP Server) with ESMTP id A071B2A007B
for ; Thu, 7 Jun 2012 06:17:58 -0400 (EDT)
X-Spam-Threshold: 95
X-Spam-Score: 0
X-Spam-Flag: NO
X-Virus-Scanned: OK
X-MessageSniffer-Scan-Result: 0
X-MessageSniffer-Rules: 0-0-0-11518-c
X-CMAE-Scan-Result: 0
X-CNFS-Analysis: v=1.0 c=1 a=kfJZJuxRF8EA:10 a=46tWmEpMgUUA:10 a=IkcTkHD0fZMA:10 a=9IpI6odXBaEA:10 a=QfySvo-rAAAA:8 a=EmUa72ekAAAA:8 a=n4IzhgBxAAAA:8 a=Lz8LGXbsAAAA:8 a=qHWKkvlrePIQylN55w8A:9 a=QEXdDO2ut3YA:10 a=_W_S_7VecoQA:10 a=tXsnliwV7b4A:10 a=KyjqtotWpLIA:10 a=kgAGQwDXVyQELCiJ:21 a=MPbhsAD6HDM8snIW:21
X-Orig-To: craig@123marbella.com
X-Originating-Ip: [202.91.7.27]
Received: from [202.91.7.27] ([202.91.7.27:2496] helo=smtp.portplus.com)
by smtp27.gate.ord1a.rsapps.net (envelope-from )
(ecelerity 2.2.3.49 r(42060/42061)) with ESMTP
id DB/F0-07614-5DF70DF4; Thu, 07 Jun 2012 06:17:58 -0400
Received: from Tiffany2 [192.168.1.18] by smtp.portplus.com.au with ESMTP
(SMTPD-11.01) id 8b05000008914d39; Thu, 7 Jun 2012 20:02:55 +1000
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2012 20:02:55 +1000 (EST)
From: enenlymbatulan@yahoo.com.ph
To: craig@123marbella.com
Message-ID: <827781839.129039.1339063375404.JavaMail.Administrator@Tiffany2>
Subject: Children's Cancer Institute Australia - Privacy Policy
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Mailer: ColdFusion 9 Application Server

Spanish Company Fined 200K EUR For Sending Out SMS Spam

Spain has made it clear that it will not tolerate breaches in user privacy by slapping a publicity company called Ocio Factory Time with €200,000 due to a large-scale campaign it ran on behalf of a game show. So massive was the scope that almost 36 million SMS spam were sent to mobile phone users despite the lack of consent by the majority. The message contained a plug for Rico al Instante which airs on the Antena 3 network.

The recipients quickly made their displeasure known to authorities. In the month that followed, the Spanish agency that governed users’ privacy protection got over three hundred letters complaining about the matter. They were very unhappy about being pestered to send a text in order to be considered for a spot as a game show contestant.

The message was meant to tempt recipients by brandishing a figure of €200,000 as the possible prize for lucky texters. The only thing required, it said, was to text the keyword to a certain number at a charge of €1.42 – an amount equivalent to a cup of coffee.

The game show began to air in January with Antena 3 engaging the services of Zed Worldwide for the production. Zed was renamed Ocio Factory Time afterwards. An SMS campaign was created to help spread awareness about the show’s launch, with the total number of messages reaching 35,976,137. Authorities began investigating it for probable violations as early as November. In its own defense, the company maintains that no law was broken and the targeted users could have easily opted out from receiving messages further.

In fact, they argued that the messages were designed such that 99.8% could stop inflow of messages, and that the rest, consisting of 8170 texts were devoid of the blocking option.

This extremely low number when compared to the total resulted in a small percentage of offending messages. According to them, this serves to prove that regulations were honored.

However, the Spanish authorities did not accept this argument. They said that the actions of the producers resulted in two gross violations. Hundreds of letters of complaint received by the agency proved that consent were not given in these instances and hence the company was forced to pay a fine of €50,000. Additionally, the messages that did not contain an opt-out clause were deemed to be sufficient to exact another €150,000 fine.

These hefty fines have actually been lowered from what was originally suggested. Atty. Miguel Cobacho who practices law in Spain noted that the amount is the heaviest sanction imposed in the country’s history for the offense. According to him, publicity companies will be more careful about their activities now that they know the fines they could face.

While the company can still make an appeal in the Spanish courts, for the moment, the game show producer finds itself out of luck.

Cracking Social Network Idea Worth Billions!

First of all let me say that I have not written this but thought it was brilliant and thanks to The Borowitz Report for such an entertaining piece. Its an oldie but a goodie!

Introducing the Hot New Social Network, PhoneBook

A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it’s called PhoneBook.

According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and even the much anticipated Google Buzz in a cloud of dust.

“With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,” says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook’s creators.

“When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,” Fruber explains. “Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.”

Another breakout utility of PhoneBook allows the user to arrange face-to-face meetings with his or her friends at restaurants, bars, and other “places,” as Fruber calls them.

“You will be sitting right across from your friend and seeing them in 3-D,” he said. “It’s like Skype, only without the headset.”

PhoneBook will enable friends to play many games as well, such as charades, cards, and a game Fruber believes will be a breakout: Farm.

“In Farm, you have an actual farm where you raise real crops and livestock,” he says. “It’s hard work, but it’s more fun than Mafia, where you actually get killed.”

Skype 411 Scams Be Wary

I think by now most of us that are using the internet for some time, know about the Nigerian 411 Scams. You know the ones that involve a fictitious lawyer sending you an email saying they are representing a fallen African dictator who has $10 million in their briefcase and they want to send it to you as long as you send your bank details to them etc. They then proceed to clean your account via identity theft.

Well today I just received some thing new but familar and along the lines of the above.

Its a skype invite from someone claiming to represent skype and that I have won 1,000,000 GBP.

Below is a screenshot of my skype console and whats noticeable about this scam message, apart from the fact that its too good to be true, is that a free live.com account is being used rather than a skype account which is a clear indication of a scammer.

So, if you see such requests, then simply block the request and also report it.

Never ever give your personal details to strangers, they will find a way to fleece you dry.