Google Clarifies Their Location-Tracking Policy Help Page To Put Some Spin On The Fact That They Were Tracking You

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 17, 2018 by itnerd

You might recall that AP blew the lid off the fact that even if you disable location tracking in Google apps, you’re still being tracked anyway. Well, according to a new report from AP, Google has altered the web pages that relate to location tracking. Before the change, it used to say among other things that once you set the setting to off “the places you go are no longer stored”. But now it says flipping the setting off “does not affect other location services on your device” and that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.” Google fessed up to the change in another document making the claim that it was simply making things more clear for its users. In other words, nothing to see here. Move along.

In any case if you don’t want Google tracking your movements, I would take a look at this article from PC Magazine which gives you instructions on what you need to do regardless of what device you are using.

 

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A Final Update On Our Horrific Customer Service Experience With Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica

Posted in Commentary on August 17, 2018 by itnerd

I’ve received a number of emails from people who were asking about our rather shambolic experience with Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica. Which apparently isn’t unique to us. Specifically if we really made the switch away from those brands and did any of those companies finally do the right thing and help my wife get the problems with her eyeglasses sorted.

Let’s start with if we made the switch away from those brands. Thanks to the intervention of Rudy Project we ended up at Spectacles in North Toronto which is an eyeglass shop that has an excellent reputation. Between the two of them, my wife and I have two new pairs of sunglasses on order:

  • For me, I chose the Rudy Project Traylx XL sunglasses which are big enough to ensure that wind and dust stay out of my eyes and my contact lenses don’t dry out. On top of a photochromic lens that goes from light to dark depending on the lighting conditions, I also chose a lens that enhances contrast in trail environments. The former will be used for cycling and the latter will be used for cross country skiing.
  • In the case of my wife, she chose the Rudy Project Zyon sunglasses. These have a prescription insert which allows her to have her eyeglass prescription dropped into the sunglasses. Like me she chose a photochromic lens that goes from light to dark depending on the lighting conditions, and a lens that enhances contrast in trail environments. Again, the former will be used for cycling and the latter will be used for cross country skiing.

Both sunglasses should be in our hands late next week. When they arrive, I’ll put up a post about it complete with pictures.

My wife also needed new eyewear as well as her inability to wear her Oakley eyeglasses comfortably is what started this nightmare. In the end she settled on eyeglasses from a company called ic! Berlin. They are known for making eyewear that is well engineered and is completely screwless which means that not only can the glasses be completely rebuilt if required, but they are highly durable. The folks at Spectacle demonstrated both and I have to admit that we were floored by what we saw. My wife ultimately settled on a model made of titanium which means that it would be insanely durable. It also meant that they were also insanely expensive. With the lenses which are photochromic as well as being thin and light, she dropped $1700 on these glasses. Now that’s not an insignificant amount of money. But my wife and I are firm believers that if you want quality, you have to pay for it. And it also highlights how much money Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica are losing by not providing quality customer service. She’ll be getting her new glasses in about 10 business days.

In the process of getting my wife’s eyewear sorted, Spectacles informed us of something that surprised us. When my wife got her Oakley eyeglasses from Lens Crafters, they supposedly gave her lenses with an anti reflective and scratch resistant coating. But when the rep from Spectacles examined them, she could find no evidence that there were any special coatings on them. At best, my wife had polycarbonate lenses that had some anti-glare properties. You can imagine how that made my wife and I feel, and it reinforced our feelings about Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica. Which is even more negative than we already did. At this point I’d really like to thank Rudy Project and Spectacles for helping us with this as they really stepped up to the plate here in fantasitc fashion.

Now onto the utter mess that Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica customer service is. My wife actually got an email from Luxottica Canada yesterday which said this:

Unfortunately we currently are unable to provide any parts for this model. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may be causing you. 

If you haven’t already done so, feel free to reach out to one of our local retailers as they might be able to assist you in placing an order or offering other options for you.

For any Oakley model, please visit the following link to see availability and place an order to be shipped directly to your door: https://ca.oakley.com

Thank you for your understanding. 

Best Regards,

Luxottica Canada after Sales Service Center

My wife was less than impressed with this response. So she replied with this:

Dear Luxottica, Thank you for your unhelpful advice.

One of the first things I did when I started looking for a replacement part for my Oakley prescription glasses is to walk into the Oakley store at the Eaton Centre thinking of they would stand behind their brand and assist me.  Only to have their staff immediately say that they do not handle prescription glasses.  My second and third stop was to head into two Lenscrafter locations, both of who had called Luxottica and were informed that they will only ship to the customer and not to retailer.  I then called 7 different Luxottica toll free customer numbers with no resolution.  I now accept that Luxottica, Lenscrafter and Oakley have no intention of providing any after Sales service especially in Canada.

Apparently, I was told in one of the calls that they would ship to the US if the part was available the day you were lucky enough to call and get through. I would have been a happier customer if you just said from the beginning “We do not provide any replacement parts.  We don’t care about you after you have purchased our product.”  It would have saved me wasting my time over the past 3 weeks and getting absolutely nowhere.  I am happy to report that I have removed my name from all Lenscrafter email mailing lists, have told at least one person per week about my bad experience and in a week or so I will be dumping my Oakley glasses and will be proud owner of ic Berlin eyewear purchased via an optician that is not owned by Luxottica as they are a company that proudly stands behind their product.

For the record, that is my wife being moderately kind. I’ve seen her light people up like a Christmas tree in a bonfire when she’s really mad. Which she has been during this whole nightmare. So the person on the other end of that email should consider themselves fortunate that they got off easy. One thing that I will point out is the cost of bad customer service. On top of the posts that I’ve written about this incident, my wife is telling her friends and co-workers about this incident. I’m pretty sure that this will alter the buying decisions of some people to push them away from Luxottica brands. Of which there are many.

Back to this email exchange. She got this almost immediately in response to her message:

I am so sorry. Your letter made me sad. You can be assured that I did my best for your yesterday. I even sent an email with the picture of your pair of glasses to the supervisor of the stocks bank and eventually went personally to see him. He went through all the ear socks bags and none of them with your model. We were both sorry. We actually have none is stock. 

I feel less sad as I write these words to you.

I know these are not great moments for you but I want to wish you a lovely and smooth weekend.

With my sweetest cheers and my very best regards,

I am not sure we totally buy this response. We both also feel this response is a bit over the top. After all, I seriously doubt that this person is “sad” about my wife’s response to her. If she were truly sad, this person and whomever they report to would work to find a solution to my wife’s issue. But they didn’t so we take this for what it’s worth, which is not a whole lot. In any case, that was the last avenue that we explored to get this issue addressed. Thus we’re done.

One thing that several people asked me is if any of these companies responded to the posts that I have put up. Well, other than a Tweet from the Lens Crafters Twitter feed, no they have not. But I have reason to believe based on the analytics that I get from WordPress that they are aware of these posts and they have chosen not to respond. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica. They don’t take care of their customers after you hand over your hard earned money. Thus they are companies that don’t deserve to get your hard earned money in the first place. There are other companies out there that are much better on that front. Thus I would recommend investing some time to find them and do business with them. Maybe if enough people did that, then Oakley, Lens Crafters, and Luxottica would come to the conclusion that customer service is important.

UPDATE: Dan Levy made a very important observation about the response from Luxottica:

 

 

Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L Luxury – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on August 17, 2018 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of my week long review of the 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L luxury and I think Hyundai has a competitor in this space that stands out in more ways than just looks. It drives well, has a very good interior and a fair amount of tech. One thing that I need to circle back on is the drive mode button. It has three modes:

  • Eco absolutely dulls the drive experience to save you gas. From what I can figure out, it saved me about 0.1L on a 20KM drive. On a longer drive it will likely save you more gas.
  • Sport hangs on to gears longer and the exhaust sounds louder so that you can get every last HP out of the engine. It also tightens up the steering to make the Kona more sporty.
  • Normal is a balance between the two.

To be honest, I kept it in normal mode outside the time I experimented with the other settings as normal works pretty well. It’s main competitors are going to be the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-3, Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, and Fiat 500X among others. But I think that the Kona is going to get a lot of looks from people looking for a sub-compact SUV given what this vehicle has to offer. Assuming that they can get past the looks which some might see as polarizing. At least that was the feedback that I got during my week with it. Take my advice on this: Judging this car by only its looks would be a mistake because you’d be missing out on a great looking package if you did.

My final fuel economy was 9.3 L/100KM’s which is pretty good considering that I made liberal use of the 2.0L engine’s torque while driving in a mix of city roads and highways, not to mention rush hour traffic.

The 2018 Hyundai Kona starts at $20,999. The 2,0L Luxury trim level that I drove this week goes for $27,499. It tops out at $31,999 with a 1.6 turbo engine and fully loaded.

Hyundai has a strong contender in the sub-compact SUV space with the Kona. If you’re in the market for a sub-compact SUV, head to your nearest Hyundai dealer and test drive one. I think that once you get past the looks, you’ll be driving away with one in short order.

Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L Luxury – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on August 16, 2018 by itnerd

The 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L Luxury is a sub-compact SUV packed with healthy amount of technology in it. Let’s start with the safety aspects of the vehicle:

  • It has a back up camera with excellent clarity and a great range of vision. It also has lines on the screen to help you to position your car when backing into a parking space or parallel parking. Plus there’s rear cross traffic alerts and back up distance sensors to make sure that you don’t hit anything.
  • You get autonomous emergency braking which will bring the Kona to a stop if it detects an object in front of it, and you take no action to avoid said object.
  • Blind spot monitoring is included. Not only does it warn you when you are about to do an ill advised lane change, but it also alerts you based on distance and relative speed.
  • One real highlight is that lane departure warning and assist functionality is included. It is one of the better systems that I have tested lately and I say that because any steering corrections that it makes are gentle and don’t freak you out. Plus if it has to make an audible warning, it does so in a way that doesn’t freak out you or your passengers.
  • There’s an attention assist feature which monitors your driving and will suggest that you should take a break if it thinks you are getting tired.
  • You get automatic headlights so that you never forget to turn the headlights on or off.
  • Six airbags are standard.

The only thing that is missing from all this safety tech is tire pressure monitoring. While not required here in Canada, it is odd in 2018 to see a car without it.

The Kona also comes with a lot of technology to make life easier for you:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included which is important as there’s no built in navigation. That sounds like a negative. But it is not because most people I know who have access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in their cars never use the built in navigation system. Thus nothing is likely lost by its omission. It gets served up on an 7″ screen which is extremely sharp, has great contrast and is viewable in all lighting conditions. The infotainment system user interface was easy to navigate and didn’t display any lag whatsoever. That was completely in line with other Hyundai products that I’ve tried recently.
  • There’s a six speaker audio system that sounds good as I had no complaints when I was listening to radio or tunes from my iPhone. You can serve up AM,FM, audio from your phone via USB (which will also charge your phone) or Bluetooth, or SirusXM Radio.

The final part of this review will tie up some loose ends and I’ll give you my closing thoughts on the Hyundai Kona. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Mission Workshop The Spec Laptop Sleeve

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 15, 2018 by itnerd

The Spec is a fully-padded laptop sleeve designed to be used on its own or paired with any of Mission Workshops rucksacks or cargo packs—specifically the Fraction, Sanction, Fitzroy, Rambler, Vandal, or R2/R6/R8.

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The top flap can either be left open for easy in-and-out use or can be folded closed for more secure storage. It is fully lined, and features an exterior pocket ideal for an iPad, cords, or other small accessories. The Spec is made from either our burly and light HT500 fabric (Black and Gray) or 500D CORDURA (Black Camo).

Available in two sizes: Size small accommodates most laptops up to 13” Size large fits most laptops up to 15.5”

Small dimensions: 14” x 10” x 1”
Large dimensions: 15.5” x 11” x 1”

Created out of the desire to build gear as tough as it is beautiful Mission Workshop has always been about passion and product. Utilizing nothing but the very best materials, researched designs and stylish looks Mission Workshop sets the standard in utilitarian bags and beautifully tailored apparel made from performance fabrics. Made to endure, guaranteed forever.

Review: 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L Luxury – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on August 15, 2018 by itnerd

The interior of the 2018 Hyundai Kona 2.0L Luxury is a utilitarian but well put together one that I believe you will like. Let me walk you through the interior.

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The door has all the controls for the mirrors, plus there’s space for a bottle in the map pockets. The catch is that the doors are largely made up of hard plastic which gets dirty.

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The seats are leather and heated. The drivers seat is power adjustable as well. It was easy for me to dial in my seating position and be comfortable while driving.

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To the left of the steering wheel are the buttons for the electronica overseers. You can also see the dead pedal which is handy for long drives.

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The steering wheel is heated and leather wrapped. It has buttons for the infotainment system as sell as the cruse control.

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The gauges are bright and easy to read. There’s a monochrome TFT screen that allows you to place the info that you need in plain view.

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The Kona comes with push button start which is located to the right of the steering wheel.

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There’s a 7″ touchscreen for the infotainment system. Below that are the HVAC controls. The middle part of the dash is made of a soft touch material. Everything else around it is hard plastic.

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The shift lever is leather wrapped, and you also have buttons for the heated seats, steering wheel, as well as AWD lock and the drive mode button.

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Below that is a cubby that has two 12V outlets, and aux jack as well as a USB port. It holds an iPhone 7 Plus with ease. Above that is a second cubby for storage purposes.

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You get a pair of cupholders and you can also see the parking brake.

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The cupholders hold a Starbucks Venti sized coffee with ease.

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Underneath the armrest is a deep storage area.

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There is a decent sized glove box that’s lit.

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Above you is a powered moon roof with a manual sunshade.

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The back seats fit thee kids or two adults. I’m six feet tall and I could sit behind myself with a tiny bit of room of space for my knees and feet.

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If you don’t need to seat three people, you can use these cupholders which are in a flip down armrest.

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There is a tiny window in the back which does help with visibility.

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The cargo area is surprisingly big and it includes a privacy cover. Folding down the 60/40 split seats gives you a flat surface to load your 65″ TV into.

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The cargo area fits our weekly shopping with space left over.

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Plus there’s under floor storage to boot.

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To the right is another storage area for small items.

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There’s a handle to close the hatch without getting your hands dirty.

So I will say that there is a lot of hard plastic inside the Kona. But to me, I think I know why. The people who are part of the target market for this vehicle are not only going to be in the city, but they will likely be doing stuff in the outdoors as well that may mess up the interior. Thus having hard plastic makes the interior easier to clean and it ensures that it will survive for years. I didn’t note any rattles or squeaks. And it all appears to be put together well.

The next part of this review will cover the technology in the vehicle. It has a fair amount of it. Tune in tomorrow to find out what the Kona has to offer from a tech perspective.

Guest Post: Innovative Ways to Incorporate A Culture Of Cybersecurity Into Your Business

Posted in Commentary on August 15, 2018 by itnerd

By Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security

Cybersecurity is a prevalent issue that’s received increased attention in many companies lately. And no wonder, since it’s continuously been a hot topic brought to the spotlight by the significant data breaches of the past few years.

The good news is that there are plenty of solutions that can help stop cybercriminals in their tracks. The bad news is that many companies don’t take the necessary precautions because they lack proper cybersecurity practices. That leaves them wide open to all sorts of malicious attacks. In prevention, businesses should first build a security culture from within, while ensuring they retain a strong security partner from outside the organization. Here are three steps to creating a culture of cybersecurity.

Aim to Disrupt

If your company’s security culture is at a low level, you’ll need to put in extra effort to change it for the better. That means you’ll have to be disruptive and work on improving the existing cybersecurity mindset of every individual you employ. The ultimate goal of this process is to give the power of knowledge to your employees and spread awareness of the common cybersecurity issues. Without awareness, it’s pointless to hold employees accountable for maintaining security. Humans will always be the weakest link in any system, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on cybersecurity education.

Engage Employees through Education

You can make sure your employees will go through the cybersecurity education process smoothly by making it engaging. Want to teach them all about Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Email Account Compromise (EAC) scams and how to recognize them? Don’t settle for a PowerPoint presentation they’re sure to forget next month.

Instead, make sure they have something to do while they learn —such as organize a competition or let them try getting into the hackers’ shoes. That way, your employees will have a better understanding of what they need to do to maintain security. By helping them learn actively, you will ensure that the knowledge they acquire lasts. No matter how strong your training, remember that it is never foolproof.

Invest to See a Return

Everything you invest in to improve your company’s cybersecurity practices should pay off down the line. If it doesn’t, then it’s ineffective. However, some things are always worth an investment. For example, creating a secure development lifecycle (SDL) is likely to have good ROI. An SDL will cover all the activities you need to perform for each system or software release, which can improve the effectiveness of your cybersecurity practices.

On the other hand, using services that prevent threats from ever reaching you can be even more beneficial. This primarily holds true for forms of attack that traditional defenses, such as firewall and antivirus, can’t stop. Phishing is the cause of 95 percent of data breaches, and with Area 1 Security’s Area 1 Horizon Anti-Phishing Service, you can be sure that any email, web, and network phishing attacks will stop before they become a problem.

We’ve reached the point where cybersecurity has to become an intrinsic part of all business processes. The organizations that fail to make it so eventually find their weaknesses exploited by cybercriminals. To prevent this, build a security culture within your organization and invest in solutions that can minimize or stop threats completely.