Monday, October 15, 2012

Survey Says: EA Screws Up Again

Tags: surveys, ea, vidoe games

Electronic Arts is arguably the most hated video game company on the planet.  Some of that hate is warranted, some of it is not.  This last weekend, EA decided to tips the scales even more toward the deserved hate end of the scale as they completely botched a survey promotion they were running.

The promotion was pretty straightfoward.  EA put up a marketing survey that granted people a $20 coupon code upon completion.  That coupon was good for games $19.99 and up, which means you could potentially nab a free game after filling out the survey.  So far so good, except that the coupon codes were universal (meaning that they could be posted online for others to use without actually completing the survey) as well as being reusable.  Soon, EA had thousands of codes being redeemed by people that had never taken the survey and codes being reused over and over again by the same people to get multiple free games.  Once EA found out, they shut down the codes.

Luckily, for those that already redeemed their codes (legitimately or not), EA has promised to still honor the orders.  Unfortunately, while EA shut down new redemptions of the coupon code, they continued to leave the marketing survey up that promised the $20 coupon code.  So basically, EA continued to take people's time and data while falsely promising them a $20 coupon code.  As you can imagine, this left a lot of people rightly pissed of.

Some of you may be thinking "So what, people spend a few minutes filling out a survey and think they are entitled to a free game.  Big deal!"  But the amount of time required to fill out a survey and the amount of compensation has no bearing on whether or not EA is basically scamming people.  Even if the survey took five seconds to complete, people are being falsely promised something for their time.  I'd imagine a fairly sizeable lawsuit will be heading EA's way in the near future. 

All EA had to do was shut down BOTH the coupon code AND the survey at the same time and everything would have been fine.  Instead, they apparently would rather ensure their legacy as the most hated video game company in the world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Tags: politics, piracy, copyright, sopa, pipa

I haven't posted in a long time but really feel I need to weigh in briefly about SOPA and PIPA.  These two bills mean well as they are aiming to endonline piracy and protect intellectual propery, two things we should all be behind.  Unfortunately, the bills - if passed into law - would threaten the internet in a variety of ways while doing little to actually stop piracy and copyright/ip infringement.

I'm no lawyer and this topic has been covered by so many websites and organizations that I think the best thing to do is point you to the best article I've found on the issue.  The article was written by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and pretty clearly illustrates the dangers SOPA and PIPA would bring to the internet we know and love today.

Again, let me stress that I am very much against online piracy and absolutely think we need to find ways of preventing people from stealing digital goods, but SOPA and PIPA are not the way to do it. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Being Hacked Sucks

Tags: hacking, wordpress

So starting today, all Squirrelinabox websites that were previously using Wordpress and being hosted at Dreamhost are now moved to my own dedicated server using a custom built content management system that I built from the ground up.  Why?  Because being hacked sucks.

Those that follow any of my blogs, such as Office Humor Blog and Falling Skies Fansite have probably noticed a lack of posts during the last few months.  While some of that is because I've been incredibly busy working on new projects (namely some Windows Phone 7 apps) a big reason I've stopped posting is because pretty much all my blogs that were using Wordpress were being consistently hacked.  For quite some time, the hackers were dropping hidden web pages and html links that were likely an attempt to leverage my websites' "link juice" to try and improve their rankings.  Even worse, most of those pages and links were for things like porn, viagra, illegal software, etc.  which likely hurt my site's rankings in search engines for the keywords they were designed for.

For awhile I did what I could to keep logging in and removing the pages and the links about once a week.  Since I had almost a dozen different sites, this process took quite awhile.  The breaking point came when the hackers (probably different ones) decided that seceretly hiding pages and links wasn't good enough as they started taking down the sites completely and replacing them with web pages that explained that the sites were hacked and gone.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Texas Police Arrest Teen for Online Harassment

Tags: online harassment, Texas

Using the internet just got a bit scarier as Texas police arrested a teenager for online harassment last week. The arrest was made possible due to a new Texas law that took effect September 1 that criminalizes online harrasment via email, text messaging, and social networking sites.

To me, this seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the MySpace suicide case. While harassment should be discouraged, enacting and enforcing a law that seems to single out online forms of harassment is not only unpractical, but as others have pointed out, is likely unconstitutional. Free speech is something we don't take lightly, and restricting free speech online seems like something that should hopefully be overturned soon.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

FTC Passes Regulations That Require Bloggers to Disclose Paid Reviews

Tags: astroturfing, ftc

The FTC has just revised some guidelines regarding endorsements that will directly affect bloggers that participate in paid reviews. Basically, the FTC has put in place some fines for bloggers that don't clearly disclose payments (or free products) they get from companies they review products for.

I, personally, welcome the new guidelines. While I don't have anything against those that do paid reviews, I do think the process should be as transparent as possible. You may be able to post a fair review of a product you've been paid to review, but your audience should be aware of any potential conflicts of interest.

With that said, many people have already begun pointing out some potential problems with the enforceability of the new rules. So far, it looks like bloggers are the only groups singled out, which would leave loopholes for countless other Web-related mediums. What about paid Twitter Tweets, Amazon reviews, or Facebook messages? I'd like to think they would all be covered by the FTC's new guidelines, but nobody seems to know right now.