Archive for October 2021


Afterpay wants my account details (even though I don’t have an account) to investigate its own activity

19.10.2021

Usual story: go into the Facebook advertising preferences, spot organizations that I’ve never dealt with somehow possessing private information about me that they’ve uploaded to Facebook.
   One noticeable one was Afterpay, both its Australian office (no reply on Twitter) and the ‘Afterpay USA Business Manager’ (the US office did reply).


   I’ve never had an Afterpay account. I’ve seen their TV commercials. One of the Lucire crew attended Australian Fashion Week, although I registered him before Afterpay became a sponsor. So how does this company have my details? How does anyone?
   The US office asked me to go into DMs on Twitter. And as this is (a) public policy and (b) their replies look copied-and-pasted, I doubt I am breaching any confidences here.
   My first DM:

Hi folks, I don’t know if I can tell you any more than what was in the Tweet.
   Somehow you have my private information and according to Facebook you uploaded it to their site for your marketing purposes.
   I’ve never dealt with you so how you have any info on me is a mystery.
   Obviously it would be nice to get me off your lists and off Facebook.

   Their first reply was this. From here you can already tell they didn’t read my first message.

Hi Jack,

We would love to investigate this for you.
   Before we do, we need to verify your identity to protect the privacy of your account.
   Can you please confirm:

* Your full name
* The mobile phone number registered to your account
* The address registered to your account
* Date of Birth
* Email registered to your account

   Polite reminder: It is essential you maintain the personal information we hold on our systems – this means keeping things like your current mobile number and email address updated, and updating your home residential address when you move home.
   We collect and handle personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy (afterpay.com/en-au/privacy-…).

Thank you,

   My reply:

Hi there, that’s the thing, I don’t have an account with you, so you shouldn’t have any of this. Could you please just search for my name and delete anything tied to it? I can only assume you’ve bought someone else’s list.
   Obviously I’ve seen you in TV commercials and to my knowledge that’s the sum total of our contact.

   The next one was positive:

Sure! I can search your name to see if you have an account with us.
   That’s your full name?

   Me:

Thank you, and yes!
   I won’t have an account though, and if I do, that’ll be pretty suspicious since I’ve never signed up …

   This morning, we were back to square one:

I would love to investigate this for you.
   Before we do, we need to verify your identity to protect the privacy of your account.
   Can you please confirm:

Your full name
The mobile phone number registered to your account
The address registered to your account
Email registered to your account

Thanks,

   Three minutes later:

Hey Jack,

Without verifying your identity in order to protect the privacy of your account, we can not provide any account details.
   If you don’t want to provide any requested information via this chat, you can email us or give us a call to discuss this matter directly.
   Please contact us via +1855 289 6014 or use the link below to email us:
help.afterpay.com/hc/en-us/artic…
   I hope this was helpful! Please feel free to reply to this chat if you have any further question or concern.

Have a great day,

   You can tell what I’m thinking here:

We are going around in circles here. I don’t have an account so how can I provide information tied to an account? Can you please explain how you would do this?
   Please see your message at 1.47 p.m. GMT. You said you would use my full name, which you have, to see if I have an account with you. What was the result of that?
   I’m betting you came up blank …

   I tried their link and none of the options really apply here.
   We know that an unethical US-owned company operating in Australia did once obtain my private information through Lumino, the dentistry franchise, and I accordingly kicked up a big stink about it. And as Afterpay is Australian, are they somehow connected?

Updates since original post
Afterpay, October 20, 1.33 p.m. GMT:

Upon further investigation, I was not able to match your name: Jack Yan to any Afterpay account.

Have a good day,

   It took two days for them to realize this, despite my saying so from the beginning. My response:

Thank you, this is what the original Tweet was about. It’s precisely that I don’t have any relationship with Afterpay that makes this perplexing.
   Now that we’re on the same page, hopefully you can finally start dealing with my original Tweet.
   What I asked there was: why you have uploaded private information about me to Facebook? That’s what they’re claiming—both you and your Australian head office did so over a two-day period.
   This means you must have some info about me and as I do not have an account with you, I would like to know how you got it.
   And as Facebook claims you have uploaded it to their platform, I would like you to remove it from both their and your databases.
   Trust me, if this was routine, where I could have just used your FAQs and your website, I would have done so.

   I’ve yet to hear from privacy@afterpay.com over this matter but I only contacted them today.
   Since they have obstructed for two days it makes you wonder what they’re hiding. Over in Australia they’ve already done this:

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What I do when someone uploads my private information on to Facebook

14.10.2021

I can’t be the only person who does this. This is one of the few things that I do on Facebook. Removing off-Facebook activity is another.
 

 
   1. Let me check my Facebook advertising preferences. Who has been uploading my private information to Facebook without my permission? Hmm, Ramp, @rampcard, that’s new. I’ve never heard of you.
 

 
   2. ‘They uploaded or used a list to reach you.’ I never gave you my details, so the fact you’re uploading them to a platform I disagree with offends me.
   3. Therefore, I’m going to click ‘Don’t allow’ for both these options. You can’t show me ads, and no one can use your list to do so, either. And I’m just going to click ‘Don’t allow’ for the second option just to limit things more. (The graphic is after I’ve done both.)
 

 
   4. Just to make sure I never hear from you on this platform, I’ll block your page as well.
 

 
   There are dozens of companies I’ve had to do this to. Netflix and Spotify were big offenders, but so are some of our government departments. Even places I like and shop with: if I haven’t given you permission, then you’ve earned yourself a block. I don’t want to hear from you via Facebook or Facebook products. Own goal is the applicable football term here.
   Very few T&Cs around the place mention the uploading of private information to Facebook like this. There’s usually some mention of the like buttons and what they do, and tracking by Facebook Pixel, but not this.

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Posted in business, internet, marketing, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


台山阿伯返鄉下講英文

12.10.2021

This is one of those things I have to note down otherwise it’ll get lost to time. And you won’t see this mentioned during ‘Chinese Language Week’ here.
   In the old country (台山, or Taishan, China), when my father was a boy in the 1930s and 1940s, there were some whānau in the village who had been to the United States, where his paternal grandfather had settled. When conversing with them about their experiences in foreign lands (specifically, 金山), they said a few things that confused him then, but as an adult it all clicked.
   One was when they spoke of their travels to 金山. They claimed, ‘船頭打鑼船尾聽唔度.’ As a child, Dad would think, ‘Wow, that ship must have been massive.’ He knew that if someone had 打鑼 in one village, the next village could hear it. Conclusion: the length of the ship between the bow and stern must be greater than the distance between two villages.
   As an adult, ‘The buggers tricked me. No wonder they couldn’t hear 鑼 at the bow of the ship. They would have travelled in the hold!’
   The second one was in response to, ‘What are movies like?’ I imagine cinemas were thin on the ground during wartime, so he could only ask those who had been to the US. Their response, ‘打煙塵.’ Hitting smoke and dust? (Note that these have to be pronounced in Taishanese, not Cantonese, and definitely not Mandarin, for this story to make any sense.)
   Again, as an adult, who wound up grasping English better than many Anglophones, he realized the old 台山阿伯 had seen westerns, where they fought Indians, or more specifically, Injuns.
   The third one was, ‘What’s it like speaking English?’ The reply: ‘婀籮心.’ He never figured that out as a child—it sounded like gibberish. Again, when older, having learned English, he realized what they meant: all the same.
   Bear in mind those early travellers, or immigrants who were returning to visit the old country, wouldn’t have had great jobs and learned little English. It isn’t surprising in this context that they had pidgin phrases, ones they could fool a boy with.

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Even if they don’t delete you, people are deactivating their Instagram accounts

11.10.2021

I probably should have included this in yesterday’s blog post. When Lucire first lost its Instagram account, I searched for Instagram deactivate on Twitter. Sure enough, there were others in the same boat. However, on subsequent searches, these were far more frequent:

   I’m not being selective here—indeed there was an earlier search that had far more people claiming to have deactivated their Instagram accounts.
   I’m not that surprised, considering I went from a three-updates-a-day user to someone who posts once every two months or so. Others must be in a similar boat.
   What does surprise me is how these Facebook, Inc. sites claim growing user bases when I never hear of anyone joining among my circles. I only hear of people leaving or having left. A lot of my friend requests on Facebook are from bots.

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For once, the US media were on Facebook’s case (they’ve more cohones than their government)

11.10.2021

For once, you didn’t need me to point out the unethical happenings of Facebook, Inc. when the mainstream media actually cared.
   First we had the Murdoch Press run ‘The Facebook Files’ in The Wall Street Journal, which I heard about from the incomparable and insightful Bob Hoffman on the 26th ult. The WSJ begins:

Facebook Inc. knows, in acute detail, that its platforms are riddled with flaws that cause harm, often in ways only the company fully understands. That is the central finding of a Wall Street Journal series, based on a review of internal Facebook documents, including research reports, online employee discussions and drafts of presentations to senior management.
   Time and again, the documents show, Facebook’s researchers have identified the platform’s ill effects. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn’t fix them. The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebook’s problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself.

   Other exposés include the fact that Facebook ‘shields millions of VIPs from the company’s normal enforcement … Many abuse the privilege, posting material including harassment and incitement to violence that would typically lead to sanctions.’ I guess promoting human trafficking and genocide falls into this protected category as well, which goes to show I’ve been doing Facebook wrong all these years—no wonder Lucire got kicked off for a week.
   They also know Instagram is toxic, that they promote interaction and who cares if it’s harmful content(?), that the company does little when porn, organ-selling, state suppression, racism, human trafficking, and inciting violence, and it’s a big medium for anti-vaccination content. More has been added to ‘The Facebook Files’ since I was sent the link in Bob’s newsletter, including news of the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who was anonymous at the time.
   Haugen also went on 60 Minutes, garnering headlines for a day, but as I told one friend, with the opportunity to use two diphthongs in a word:

Slide through as usual. Mark and Sheryl control the show, have a lot of shares, and think they will weather it as they always did. Mark will continue to ignore subpœnæ. The US government will continue to lack cohones since candidates on both sides are suckered into believing that Facebook really has as many users as it claims.

   And yes, we got Lucire’s Instagram back, and I am happy—for the sake of our crew and everyone who has ever created for us. The response from Facebook is full of the usual bollocks, which is no surprise. I wrote on the Lucire website:

   Their email states, inter alia, ‘You can’t attempt to create accounts or access or collect information in unauthorized ways. This includes creating accounts or collecting information in an automated way without our express permission. And based on your account’s recent activity, our systems have detected behavior that violates one or more of our policies.’
   It is nonsense, of course, since there’s absolutely no proof. We’ve asked Facebook to furnish it to us, including the alleged activity and the IP address that it came from.
   What information was allegedly collected? What was automated?

   All I can think of is that I have accessed Instagram on the desktop. Oh well, I’ll just stop using it. Or that a couple of the team were online at the same time. With that in mind, fashion editor Sopheak Seng now alone has the keys and that’s good enough for me. Instagram interaction: down again for the 2021–2 year then.
   I haven’t posted much on the Facebook issues since there were far more important things to do, namely getting the Lucire template working for the Wordpress (news) section of the site. Now it’s pretty much done, I’m quite happy with it, though I wish the server load were lighter.

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Posted in culture, design, internet, media, New Zealand, publishing, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


Switching Lucire’s home page over to the new template

07.10.2021



Lucire’s online edition home page: out with the old (top), in with the new (above).

I switched over Lucire’s home page to the new template today. I’m going to miss the old one, since it had the effect of a bled page, something that’s de rigueur for a fashion magazine.
   As outlined in my previous post, it’s just something we had to do to move with the times, and to make life easier for those browsing on mobile devices. I recognize the irony here, as someone who doesn’t tend to use cellphones having to design for that very medium, but then I’m also a realist.
   Once I get a bit more confidence hacking the theme from HTML Codex, the bled effect might return.
   I made some calls on what to include this time round. The social links are gone—recent events have just made them too discouraging. (The Facebook ones disappeared years ago.) The top image has been replaced by a slider with three images. The little graphic featuring the latest issue of Lucire has also been removed, only because we couldn’t figure out where it would go in the new template, but it might make a return sooner rather than later. In terms of appearance, there are fewer lines, though this is more down to convenience and working with someone else’s CSS; again, they might make a return at some point. The dotted line separating the footer from the body has also gone for now.
   As every web publisher knows, no template is set in stone and there’s ongoing evolution.
   It’s partly a shame to bring to an impending close a template entirely programmed by me. Since Lucire started, it was built on my code, the first issue done on Notepad. But HTML Codex has done a good job with its stylesheet, it would be foolish to reinvent the wheel. Many of the old pages with my code will still exist (since, other than one article, we don’t redo old HTML pages), and it’ll take months before we shift all section indices and the news pages over. I am looking forward to the changes, and that’s always a good sign.

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After eight years, a new template for Lucire’s online edition

04.10.2021

Those were two pretty intensive days but Lucire’s web edition now has a new template. Before you head over there excitedly expecting all change, it only exists on two pages so far, and they are of the same article but in different languages.
   The look itself is not that different, either: we wanted to stick fairly close to what we had, but updated for the 2020s to handle mobile traffic.
   Surprisingly, the outgoing template was created in 2013 with some concessions to mobile devices, and was partially responsive, but as those of you who surfed to Lucire on mobile knew, it did not cater that well to them. One big issue was the use of HTML tables (the old-fashioned ones), which would play havoc on cellphone browsers unable to grasp at just what size type should be displayed at.
   I kept hoping there would be technology that would straighten all of this out—there was in the 2000s with Bitstream having devised a solution to show reduced pages—but the pace of change isn’t as fast as you might think when it comes to web stuff. Of course not, when companies with monopoly powers dominate in the US, and affect a lot of the world.
   That old template was tweaked briefly in 2015 (shifting the subsidiary column from the left to the right) and it is remarkable that something that old managed to keep us going all this time.
   Over the weekend I began developing a cellphone-friendly template with a single-column layout. The trouble was that when I finished, I noticed it was utterly devoid of character. That was the trouble: I was designing more for the cellphone than the web, and the smaller medium doesn’t lend itself well to creativity.
   For the first time in Lucire’s history, I opted to get an open-source template from HTML Codex as a starting-point rather than create it myself. The result is quite a departure from theirs, but the underlying code and stylesheet are theirs, and, rightly, their credit appears in the footer.
   This first story also marks the second time a Lucire article has appeared in French online. It has been taken from the second French issue of Lucire KSA.
   There are both up and down sides. The obvious up side is that the template works remarkably well on a desktop screen and on a phone, but not without some substantial tweaking (hence the hours put in). Unlike my single-column layout from the weekend, it still has character. For better or for worse, the result is based on one of my designs.
   The big down side is that the stylesheet file is 180 kbyte in size, versus 17 kbyte with mine. Some of my CSS specs wound up in the big one. It also has to call a bunch of Javascripts, including one Jquery and a Bootstrap bundle. I will put parts of the page template into virtual files for the server-side includes to summon, but for now, with the hard coding, it’s about 10 kbyte larger than my effort.
   Kudos to the original template developers, whose efforts have saved us a lot of time, and I look forward to tweaking things further as this new look becomes the norm.

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Posted in business, design, internet, marketing, publishing, technology, Wellington | 1 Comment »


October 2021 gallery

01.10.2021

Here are October 2021’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month. Might have to be our Instagram replacement!


 

Notes
Chrysler’s finest? The 300M rates as one of my favourites.
   The original cast of Hustle, one of my favourite 2000s series.
   Boris Johnson ‘wage growth’ quotation—what matters to a eugenicist isn’t human life, after all. Reposted from Twitter.
   For our wonderful niece Esme, a Lego airport set. It is an uncle and aunt’s duty to get decent Lego. My parents got me a great set (Lego 40) when I was six, so getting one at four is a real treat!
   Publicity still of Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me. Reposted from Twitter.
   Koala reposted from Twitter.
   Photostat of an advertisement in a 1989 issue of the London Review of Books, which my friend Philip’s father lent me. I copied a bunch of pages for some homework. I have since reused a lot of the backs of those pages, but for some reason this 1989 layout intrigued me. It’s very period.
   Fiat brochure for Belgium, 1970, with the 128 taking pride of place, and looking far more modern than lesser models in the range.
   John Lewis Christmas 2016 parody ad still, reposted from Twitter.
   More on the Triumph Mk II at Autocade. Reposted from Car Brochure Addict on Twitter.
   The origins of the Lucire trade mark, as told to Amanda’s cousin in an email.
   More on the Kenmeri Nissan Skyline at Autocade.
   Renault Talisman interior for the facelifted model.

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