Archive for the ‘Hall of Shame’ Category

MyRealBox and Modomail Follow-Up

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Let me get Modomail out of the way first: Shortly after I wrote that I was giving up on Modomail, an inexpensive paid mail host, the service apparently gave up the ghost. The domain no longer responds, and hasn’t for over a month. It’s just dead. Several SFNL readers wrote me to tell me that they got burned, too.

Meanwhile, the company that bought MyRealBox, Messaging Architects, apparently did send out messages warning its customers that it was requiring them to respond or lose their accounts. Several SFNL readers sent me copies of the messages. I don’t know why I didn’t get mine. Apparently, though, the company used the BCC (blind carbon copy) approach to sending out what must have been hundreds of thousands of messages. It doesn’t surprise me, really, that they didn’t reach me. I was getting tired of MyRealBox’s frequent outages anyway.

In case you missed last month’s newsletter, here are the stories I’m talking about.

Microsoft’s WGA Comes Back to Life, Unbidden

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Microsoft’s sad attempt to fight software piracy at the expense of its ordinary end users continues to leave me cold. For the second time since last year, Microsoft released a new update of the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) Notifications code that attempts to install on your system as part of the Windows Update process. This is the case even if you have previously told Windows Update that you do not want to receive the WGA Notifications update.

Microsoft’s only excuse is: But hey, this is a new and improved version of WGA Notifications. We know this helps no one but Microsoft, but since we’ve spiffed it up, that means we no longer have to pay attention to the fact that you said you didn’t want to get this code in the past — twice! There was a time when Microsoft was a much better company than this. It truly is a shame that Microsoft is treating Windows users this way.

For more information on how WGA Notifications appears in Windows Update, and how you can prevent this version from installing, read this article from a previous Scot’s Newsletter.

MyRealBox Kills Accounts

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

MyRealBox, the free email service once provided by Novell’s NetMail development team, was totally mishandled by Messaging Architects, the company that purchased NetMail from Novell on January 30.

After years of reliable service, my three MyRealBox accounts went dead without warning a couple of months ago. And there’s no way to get them back. I used one of those accounts as my primary subscription account for hundreds of newsletters and websites. The inconvenience is huge. I don’t even have a list of every site I registered to with my MyRealBox account. And worse, I advised SFNL readers several years ago to grab a MyRealBox account — and I know many did.

I’m piecing together what might have happened, based mostly on a terse message box that appeared on the MyRealBox home page a couple of months ago. I saw the box for the first time when I visited the site after my accounts were closed. The message noted that the time was up for notifying MyRealBox that you wanted to continue your account. All of my messages to customer service to find out about this went completely unanswered. Apparently, Messaging Architects posted a message on its home page warning MyRealBox account holders to contact the company in some fashion or have their accounts revoked by such and such a date. As a POP3/SMTP user of MyRealBox, though, I never had a reason to visit the company website. Messaging Architects apparently didn’t even bother to send an email to its users — or if it did, the message was so spammy it never showed up.

Look, I can understand that the service was free and that nothing free lasts forever. But Messaging Architects might have at least given non-Web-mail users a fighting chance. Even 30-days’ notice with no option of keeping your account would have been more reasonable.

Add Messaging Architects to the Hall of Shame. It belongs there permanently, with no opportunity of parole.

Modomail Messed Up, Too

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Late last year, I similarly lost a paid-for email account provided by a small email host called Modomail. Again, the service was stellar for several years. I never had an outage with Modomail that lasted longer than a few hours. My uptime was almost perfect. The service cost something like $25 a year. But one day, one of my two Modomail accounts went totally dead. I was still within my annual pay period by several months. But the account stopped recognizing my login. Since my login was saved in my email package, and was used every eight minutes by the software, nothing had changed on my side. (For you Mac cynics, this actually happened prior to my switch to the Mac.)

Numerous email messages to Modomail’s customer service went unanswered. Eventually, I gave up on the account entirely. There was nothing I could do.

Once the contract period expired, the account was deleted and I was able to create a new 30-day free account with the same email address and the same login and password information. That account worked just fine (though I let it expire). My other Modomail account will expire at the end of the month.

Good riddance, Modomail.

I’ve moved back to email host FastMail.fm for several inexpensive, low-annual-fee POP3/SMTP accounts.