Archive for March 7, 2018

MoviePass Puts Out A Lame Statement After Epic Blowback

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

Earlier this week I spoke about MoviePass who were proud of how much they track your movements in ways that aren’t listed in their privacy policy. I’m guessing that the blowback was epic because via The Verge, they put out this statement:

At MoviePass our vision is to build a complete night out at the movies. We are exploring utilizing location-based marketing as a way to help enhance the overall experience by creating more opportunities for our subscribers to enjoy all the various elements of a good movie night. We will not be selling the data that we gather. Rather, we will use it to better inform how to market potential customer benefits including discounts on transportation, coupons for nearby restaurants, and other similar opportunities. Our larger goal is to deliver a complete moviegoing experience at a price anyone can afford and everyone can enjoy.

I might be missing something, but it sounds like they’re looking for a way to monetize the data without selling it. How does that work precisely? I don’t get it. It truly sounds like spin that they hope will make this go issue go away. But it won’t.

Oh, here’s a pro tip. Lifehacker has instructions on how to stop MoviePass from tracking you and deprive them of the cash that they don’t deserve. Assuming of course you really want to use this app at all.


DRONE VOLT Deployed In Germany Thanks To A Partnership

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

Germandrones has established itself as a specialist in professional drone technology, thanks to the development of a unique VTOL (vertical take-off drone) called Songbird.

The Germandrones Songbird UAV combines the benefits of multi-rotor and fixed-wing UAVs: due to its vertical start and landing capabilities, the Songbird does not require a dedicated runway and thus considerably reduces the risk of damage to the UAV or payload. Its excellent flying properties also allow operation at high wind speeds up to Force 8 (18 meters per second). Its ease of transport, tool-free assembly, long service life and low operating costs make it a very interesting tool for all users who want to cover large areas or long distances.

During 2017 the powerful German security and services group CONDOR invested into Germandrones to support its development. Since 1978, CONDOR has been a specialist for security solutions in Germany. The company employs 950 people and has a vast network with 15 branches spread out across the country. CONDOR offers a wide range of services, ranging from airport security and logistics to dangerous sites. CONDOR serves clients with various UAV solutions, from sales and maintenance to worldwide inspections including oil- and gas exploration. CONDOR has been named as one of the 3 most innovative suppliers in the world by DEUTSCHE BAHN AG.

A win-win agreement

This agreement will enable DRONE VOLT to distribute its flagship products, the HERCULES and AERIALTRONICS PENSAR ranges, via the CONDOR / Germandrones sales force.

At the same time, DRONE VOLT will expand its catalogue to include the Germandrones Songbird, a product that perfectly complements the Group’s existing offer.

The two partners are already considering how to expand their initial agreement and the synergies that are to be considered.

For more information go to



Android P Developer Preview Hits The Streets

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

Google today launched the first Android P developer preview which available for download now at

Some notes on what’s on offer for download:

The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and the official Android Emulator. Unlike last year, there is no emulator for testing Android Wear on Android P.

Interesting that there’s nothing there to test Android Wear devices. I guess that has something to do with the fact that Android Wear devices pretty much got hammered by Apple Watches in the marketplace. Or they haven’t gotten around to it yet. Who knows?

But I digress.

Why should you care? Here’s what Android P…. One has to wonder what food item that will be used to market this OS…… Popsicles perhaps?…… Has going for it:

  • Android P offers support for “the latest edge-to-edge screens with display cutout for camera and speaker,” with a new “DisplayCutout” class for outlining the size and shape of a notch on an Android device. Seeing as Android device makers are copying the iPhone X and its notch.
  • Indoor positioning APIs so that your phone will more accurately grab a location indoors.
  • Enhanced notifications
  • Multi-camera support
  • HEIF image support
  • Restricted access to the mic, camera, and other hardware
  • Open Mobile API for NFC payments and secure transactions

Expect this OS to ship sometime in Q3.


#Fail: Amazon Alexa-Enabled Devices Laughing At Their Owners

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

From the “you can’t make this stuff up department” comes the news that users who own Alexa-enabled devices have reported hearing strange laughter coming from the device without having interacted with it first. Here’s what The Verge had to say:

Over the past few days, users with Alexa-enabled devices have reported hearing strange, unprompted laughter. Amazon responded to the creepiness in a statement to The Verge, saying, “We’re aware of this and working to fix it.”

As noted in media reports and a trending Twitter moment, Alexa laughs without being prompted to wake. People on Twitter and Reddit reported that they thought it was an actual person laughing near them, which can be scary when you’re home alone. Many responded to the cackling sounds by unplugging their Alexa-enabled devices.

In case you’re wondering what it sounds like, here is an example:

Very creepy if you ask me. As if our AI overlords are plotting against us humans. Hopefully Amazon fixes this before they exterminate us.



BlackBerry Is Suing Facebook, Instagram And WhatsApp

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

BlackBerry is suing Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp for infringing on their messaging patents. Seriously, this is really happening. Here’s the details from Reuters:

Litigation over patent infringement is part of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen’s strategy for making money for the company, which has lost market share in the smartphone market it once dominated.

“Defendants created mobile messaging applications that co-opt BlackBerry’s innovations, using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features,” Canada-based BlackBerry said in a filing with a Los Angeles federal court.

“Protecting shareholder assets and intellectual property is the job of every CEO,” BlackBerry spokeswoman Sarah McKinney said in an email. However, she noted that litigation was “not central to BlackBerry’s strategy.”

The lawsuit followed years of negotiation and BlackBerry has an obligation to shareholders to pursue appropriate legal remedies, she added.

Hmmm… The words “patent” and “troll” seem to spring to mind upon reading this as given the fact that over the last few years the company has sued a bunch of companies over patent infringement, that this seems to be a great way to make money for BlackBerry despite what they say. Facebook is going to fight the lawsuit and I expect this to drag on for years with the only winners being the lawyers as I am not sure that anyone else will “win” in this situation.


Is netTALK On Its Last Legs? [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 7, 2018 by itnerd

From the “I can’t believe that I am still writing about them” department comes netTALK and the continued frustration of their customer base. When I last wrote about netTALK, I wrote about the fact that netTALK wasn’t porting numbers out of their service when people wanted to change phone companies. It’s now been brought to my attention that their problems seem to go deeper than that. I’ll start with Twitter. Now this usually the part of the story where I show you some tweets and how the company has chosen to respond. Except that company isn’t responding to tweets at all. And any tweets that they put out are few and far between and are of a marketing nature. The only thing that’s out there are frustrated customers who have taken to trolling netTALK. Here’s an example:

An “F” grade isn’t good to say the least. I managed to track down the rating on the BBB website and found that when it comes to netTALK the BBB has this to say:

  • 223 complaints filed against business
  • Failure to respond to 47 complaints filed against business.
  • 69 complaints filed against business that were not resolved.
  • Business has failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.

That’s a huge red flag and a sure sign that they are likely not the company to deal with if you want phone service.

But there’s more. There’s the Twitter feed of netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides. He spends more time tweeting about space and sports than about his own company by several orders of magnitude. And when customers send tweets his way looking for help or complaining about how they’ve been treated, there’s no response from him. That suggests to me that he’s not interested in dealing with this customer service and public relations disaster that is in progress.

Speaking of public relations, this company doesn’t seem to have any to speak of. I have checked their website and there’s no PR link which would lead you to PR contacts, press releases or anything of any sort. Ditto for investor and financial info. That’s weird, You’d think that they’d want to get some press so that their name gets out there. Especially seeing as they appear to have announced (but not shipped as far as I can tell) a new product called the ezLINQ which is a combination of a WiFi Router with VoIP capabilities. I had no clue this product existed until I tripped over it while researching this story. And further research turned up only handful of news about it that took some effort to find. That too is weird. Due to the lack of a clear path to a PR department within netTALK, I was forced to resort to Twitter to try and get a comment from them of any sort. After launching a series of Tweets at netTALK with the requests being that they help a customer that reached out to me for help and that I be put in contact with someone who can speak to the company’s issues, I got this back:

Hmmmm. Direct message the COO of netTALK? Ok. I sent him a DM with a request for comment and I will update this story if/when I hear back.

Perhaps the final thing that shows me that this company has one foot in the grave is that I just got an email chain from a netTALK customer who I first wrote about in the story that I linked to above who filed an FCC complaint about not being able to port her number is still having issues doing so and it appears that the company is making zero attempt to help her. Now at the same time I pinged netTALK to get a comment, I tried to push her issue at the same time. This was their response:

I am watching that situation and I will update you with the results, or lack thereof.

Another data point: I am still getting emails from customers in a similar situation. Two or three a week. So it’s clear that this woman isn’t an isolated case. And anytime you see a company not responding to customer requests for assistance, that’s usually not a good sign. Thus it is suggests to me that netTALK might be on its last legs. If that’s true, I suspect that those who have done business with them may wake up one morning and find that they have no phone service and no way to get that resolved. Or they may want to take proactive action and port their phone number out of their service and find like many others who have tried that they can’t do so. Or not even get a response. And by the time it’s over, consumers will have lost money, phone numbers which are part of people’s identities will be gone, and a whole lot of frustration will ensue. In other words, it’s not going to be a pretty scene with the consumer being hurt the most by this. Now I hope that this isn’t the case as I don’t like to see companies disappear and people being affected in a negative way as a result of that. But in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I just get the sense that this is the direction that we might be going when it comes to netTALK.

UPDATE: netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides responded to my DM and requested that I email him. I did so with a list of questions and I am awaiting a reply. If/when I get it, I will post it here. 

UPDATE #2: I now have a response netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides that I would like to share with you. I started out by introducing myself and explaining that I’ve have reviewed the DUO and I covered the outage that Canadian netTALK customers had. This was his response: 

Yes, I do recall that. That was definitely a tough time for our customers. Luckily most stuck by us. We’ve made many great improvements since then. The biggest was an end to end upgrade to our entire network. The service is phenomenal now. 

The next question was regarding the fact that people have emailed, tweeted and the like their frustrations with netTALK. Generally around getting to their support group, and specifically with porting their numbers out of their service. I’ll start with the support:

Generally speaking overall customer satisfaction has greatly improved (response times, “first touch” resolutions, and even our self service tools have been great). 

I think you should see a reduction in the amount of customers reaching out to you. As of last week, we re-organized and greatly reduced the amount of clicks to get to support (over the years, our sites grew and the customer path to Support became overly-complicated). Customers can now send us a message directly from (self help and message us directly from the messenger), message us from their account when signed into the CONNECT portal, from our app, and email us at – they can interact with us from any of those mediums (including email) and the entire history stays in sync. I spend a considerable amount of the day speaking to customers in these channels and can attest to this. 

If you’re a customer of netTALK and you need help, I would try what he suggests above to see if they can resolve your issue. I’d also like feedback, positive, negative, or otherwise, on your experience as I think it’s important to close the loop on this.

Then when it came porting numbers out of their service:

In terms of port-outs on the VoIP side, as long as all the customer information matches, the winning carrier can always assume the number no matter what. Everything needs to match exactly, or else Neustar or the losing carrier (whether it is netTALK or one of our resellers) will have to reject it. It is just the way telecom works but it is a good thing bc you don’t want someone else stealing your number (more on that below). 

In terms of port-outs on the Wireless side, same concept applies but T-Mobile (our underlying carrier) places additional safeguards due to the fact there are bad actors which actively highjack cellular numbers to get access to bank accounts, etc. (more info here: Forbes article). Until the industry as a whole, gets together with a common and streamlined solution, some customers may face delays. That being said we have grown this product significantly over the past year, and this is generally not an issue. (If I had to guess, I would say less than 5% face delays)

Finally, he ended with this statement:

We continue to grow our business and improve our services. We have new mobile apps launching soon and have had an overwhelming response with our ezLINQ pre-orders. I can send you a sample as soon as it is available. We also have some pretty big announcements coming out shortly.

I’ll be replying with a request for a sample of their ezLINQ product and I’ll be watching for those announcements. But I’ll also be watching to see how netTALK moves forward and if the packet storm of emails and tweets that I get about this company subsides over time.

I am also trying to work with Mr. Kyriakides in terms of the woman who can’t port her number out. She’s really frustrated and I’d really like to help her if I can. So if I can broker something that leads to a resolution of this issue, I am willing to do that. Stay tuned for updates. 

UPDATE #3: netTALK COO Nick Kyriakides provided me with a second response in regards to the BBB: 

Also, regarding the BBB, we are not a paying member of the BBB. It is more effective and efficient to go through us:


I also checked the BBB and the 223 complaints. That is a running tally from the year 2009. We have had a couple million users cycle through since then. But I do wish it was zero. 

Finally two other things:

  1. I originally listed Nick Kyriakides as CEO. He’s actually the COO. #Fail. I’ve corrected that. 
  2. The netTALK customer care team will reach out to the customer who is having trouble porting her number to see if they can resolve that issue. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE #4: The woman who had issues with netTALK that I wrote about in this story has had her issues with netTALK resolved. Though I can tell you from the emails that she sent me, she was left with a very bitter taste in her mouth. And I have to admit that it shouldn’t take the involvement of someone like me writing a story like this for a company to resolve a customer issue. By the time that happens, something is seriously wrong with the universe. Regardless, I want to thank Nick Kyriakides for working with me to resolve this issue.