Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fraud on Ebay

Recently, I upgraded my iPhone from a 3G to a 3GS and was planning on selling the 3G on Ebay.  After listing it then going through the bidding process, a user named “charlesgaulle” had won.  Immediately after the auction ended I noticed that this person was from France and my auction explicitly stated that this was to only be sold to someone living in the UK.  Also, the person’s name (Branson Jean) doesn’t even match the username, which is when I started getting suspicious.  Even though he was outside of the UK, I decided to go ahead and calculate shipping to France.  Once I had the shipping number, I sent him a message through Ebay detailing the new total including the updated shipping.

The following day, I received an email (that looked to be) from PayPal telling me the funds had been transferred, but the total was £20 more then I had requested.   This was weird, but even more concerning was that “PayPal” said they were waiting for me to ship before they would put the funds in my account.  Checking my PayPal account, there was absolutely no record of funds being added to my account.  Now that I was skeptical of this entire transaction, I went back to my email and checked the header on the email and sure enough it was fraud.  Here’s the from address in the header: <>.

Going back to Ebay, there seems to be absolutely nothing that I can do.  I can’t report the user as they are no longer registered on Ebay.  Also, Ebay’s reporting system is abysmal.  It’s a tangled web of links that never lead you to what you want.  The closest thing to reporting anything about a member was “Threats of Bodily Harm”, so I submitted my complaint there.

A few days later and I’m still receiving all kinds of fake emails from PayPal, Ebay and “Branson Jean” trying to get me to ship the product even though funds still don’t exist in my PayPal account.  The frustrating thing about this whole thing is that Ebay is basically washing their hands of this.  You can see hundreds of the same types of fraud all over Ebay by just looking at descriptions of iPhones that are listed:  People relisting because of ‘time wasters’, auctions explaining that people trying to fraud others shouldn’t bother as “they have seen it all before”, etc.

I find it very disconcerting that Ebay is allowing this to fester because there are very few rules to stop this fraudulent behavior and they don’t give users an easy and straightforward way of reporting it.  Because of this, I’m not going to use Ebay for anything until they clean things up.

O2 Data Frequently Drops

I know that much has been made of data and connectivity problems on AT&T in the States, but I’ve found O2 to be just as bad, if not worse.  About once per day, even though I have full bars and am connected to 3G, my iPhone is unable to receive any data.  Loading webpages doesn’t work, refreshing mail doesn’t work, connecting to the App Store doesn’t work, etc.  This occurs for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time and can sometimes occur multiple times per day.

During the latest outage (today at around 1 PM GMT), I asked 2 co-workers, 1 with a 3G Blackberry and 1 with an iPhone, to try to access a webpage.  They were also unable to do so, even though both had 3G access and full bars.  I understand that this could be a problem with the cell tower, but this happens almost every single day, and not always at work.

Why are cell providers so incredibly awful?

Browsing the web is for saps.

Do you have a specific set of webpages that you browse to every day?

I do.  I used to have all of these sites bookmarked and placed into specific news folders in Firefox or Safari.  Right-clicking on a folder would present the option to ‘Open All in Tabs’ and all of my favorites would be right there for me to filter through.  This was easy to setup and I had all of my regular pages a couple of clicks away.  This system, while it works, has a couple of flaws, the most annoying of which is you have to actually browse to the page in order to determine if it has been updated or not.

Enter RSS

Recently I discovered the power of RSS along with RSS readers.  This changes the ‘pull’ system I was used into a much more manageable and easily aggregated ‘push’ system.  Now, when I want to check the news, I go to Google Reader and all of these favorites are organized by tags.  Each tag shows how many unread stories I have right at the top and clicking on a tag gives the aggregated feed with my unread stories on top, making it easy to see what’s new.

Why Google Reader?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Google’s RSS reader is not the easiest to use.  However, once you get a feel for how it works, it’s much better then most (all?) of the other RSS readers out there on the Mac.  The 2 that come closest are NetNewsWire and NewsFire, both of which have issues.

NetNewsWire offers syncing with Google Reader, which is nice.  However, the interface is pretty bad and I’ve heard some horror stories about syncing with Google Reader.

NewsFire, on the other hand, has an excellent interface, which makes it easy to use.  However, it doesn’t offer any syncing capabilities.  This is a deal-breaker for me as I browse the Interwebs both at work as well as on 2 machines at home.

Sticking with Google Reader

If you are someone who generally browses on 1 machine, I would highly suggest NewsFire.  Until NewsFire adds some kind of syncing support (hopefully with Google Reader), I’m sticking with Google Reader, which isn’t a bad thing.

WordPress Security Threat

It’s been posted all over the internet as of late, but I’d like to remind everyone of the security threat to WordPress blogs:

WordPress 2.8.4: Security Release

How to Keep WordPress Secure

From the above links, the way to keep yourself safe from this attack is by upgrading.  Make sure you back your DB beforehand.  The easiest way to backup your DB is via this plugin:


The sooner you upgrade, the sooner you are safe from this exploit.

UPDATE Sep 7, 2009 – I found a good article from John Gruber of the Daring Fireball on Security and WordPress:

Regarding WordPress and Security