Internet Forum Trolls – it’s my problem apparently!

I luckily don’t deal with too many trolls… but when you do its makes your blood boil, especially so when the forum admins condone the utterly reprehensible behaviour.

The background was that I’d bought a new Logitech Harmony Ultimate (which gives you a Harmony Ultimate Hub and a Harmony Touch universal remote). About 3 weeks after I bought it it failed with the LED on the HUB flashing red and the unit was unresponsive until is was restarted. I thought this was a glitch so restarted the Hub & Remote and it fixed itself.

The problem was only fixed for a little while until it returned.

When the Hub & Remote failed again I decided to see if this was a problem for only myself or was a wider problem. I went to the Logitech support forums and noted that I wasn’t the only person with the problem. Indeed I think I was post number 6 with atleast 4 people saying they were having similar problems.

Given this it seemed to be a known problem (and as of now we have ~30 people with similar issues) I decided to post to the forum with a “me too” in hope of help.

Things went slow for a while. It appears that even though these are the Logitech support forums they don’t seen to actively monitor the forums… what a FAIL!!!! I resorted to a Twitter poke and a post to our local Whirlpool forums to get some action.

After the Twitter prod we got some focus on the issue from Logitech and also from some Logitech support forum troll called “rhachey“. Rhachey seems to be one of those people who think that their worth in life if dictated by the number of posts (on topic or not) that they write on the internet regardless of whether those posts are useful or on topic.

What made me fume more was that the idiot posted pretty much saying “I haven’t bothered to read what you wrote BUT what is your problem?”. Mind you this was on page 3 of the forum so there were no more than 20 posts describing various people’s problems but the troll couldn’t be bothered reading the onerous number of posts describing the problems but, apparently loving the sound of his own voice, they had to respond to the thread with posts that added ZERO value.

I admit that in my response I “went the troll” and that got pulled up by the admins. Here is the exchange!

Them with the title “Keep it Courteous”

Your post was removed because it violated the “Keep it courteous” section of the User Guidelines.

Everyone wants to have a positive experience while on the Forums – please make sure that you are not detracting from any other user’s experience. In particular, please refrain from posting anything unlawful, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, indecent, lewd, harassing, threatening, harmful, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable or injurious to third parties. Your opinions are always welcome, but personal attacks and harassment in the Forum, including through the Forums private messaging system, are not acceptable.

Thanks for your help in keeping the community a friendly, productive environment for all members.

OK, maybe I over stepped the mark so I responded to the admin

OK, I’ll keep it courteous… but that other guy is just a troll!

Apparently not

rhachey is not a troll and has helped hundreds of people on these forums.

OK, so this troll (and I still think they’re a troll) has over 15,000 posts on a support forums as a NON PAID participant and has helped, in the admin’s words, “hundreds” of people… that’s still the best part of 14,000 posts that have not “helped” people. I interpreted the trolls post as non helpful in my particular case in my response to the admin.

Well, in this case he is NOT helping, and he has admitted he didn’t bother to read the thread before responding and his posts are adding ZERO value to the discussion. That’s a troll in anyones book.

For everyone’s sake please tell him to stay out of this thread as it doesn’t concern him.

Well, here’s where the Logitech forum admins lose the plot… apparently it’s MY problem for posting the problem! WTF!!!

You came to this site looking for help, I suggest you accept what help is given and be respectful about it. As rhachey stated, too often people hijack a thread and to read through a complete thread everytime to see if it actually has something to do with that thread can consume a lot of time.

I think the Logitech forums admins finally got it when I responded as they’ve not got back to me yet

Yes, I came looking for help, not posts of ZERO value and admissions of people who respond haven’t even bothered to read the short (3 pages) of posts for the problem before they reply with a useless non response.

 Oh well, it looks like the other guy is a protected species and is seems post quantity rather than post quality is what counts… ok, I’ll play by your rules.

Why do multinational, multi Billion dollar companies, allow trolls on their support forums to hijack legitimate support requests and why do these same companies allow their forum admins to become beholden to forum trolls who’s only rasion d’etre is to to increase their forums post counts?

NEWSFLASH morons – no one cares how many posts you’ve had on a random internet forum! Get out of your mother’s basement. Met some people. Do some stuff. Travel. It’s very sad that your existence is defined by the fact that you’ve written over 15,000 posts in a support forum for company that doesn’t even pay you!

Logitech – pull your forums admins into line and tell them to keep the forums trolls (and post number sluts) under control. Your products are decent but you need to stop your forum admins and random internet fuckups hurting your own brand!

And fix the problems with your Logitech Harmony Ultimate (Harmony Ultimate Hub and a Harmony Touch universal remote) as you’ve got alot off pissed of customers!

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Mantra on Murray, Perth, Australia

I was back in Perth for the week and after my last stay at the lack lustre Duxton and previously the site of the world’s most expensive beer, the Sheraton Four Points, I decided to give another hotel on our Perth list a try. Of this year’s shortened list I chose the Mantra on Murray.

First impressions – the location is decent with many bars and restaurants close by and a 15 minutes walk to the office, but the impressions of the hotel itself once you get inside were not stella.  It was very easy to tell this wasn’t a classy hotel. The reception desk office area oddly had two rather larger industrial air conditioners jury rigged in the middle office area – looked very dodgy. In hindsight I know why there were there. More on that later!

Checkin was efficient and I was on my way to my room in less that 5 minutes.

Up in the lift to the 4th floor and the lift doors open to heat that would not have been out of place in a blast furnace. It was uncomfortably hot and no wonder they resorted to the portable air conditioners in the reception area.

Initial impressions of the room were that it was ok. On the largish side with  two seater couch & coffee table, desk, double bed and a small galley kitchen.

Two downsides that quickly became apparent

  1. the room just wasn’t clean enough
    • The bed side table wasn’t cleaned and had rings from whatever was placed there from the previous occupant
    • Massive smudge, that looked like a handprint, on the window
    • Carpet needed a much better vacuum
    • The previous occupant’s hair was still on the tiles in the shower YUCK!!!!
  2. the air conditioning unit (one of those reverse cycle contraptions) that was mounted under the window was the most complicated thing I’ve ever tried to set. In the end pretty much all I could do was set it to be always on at the lowest temperature. But that said it had a mind of it’s own and started to turn on and off randomly later on in my stay.

The bed was ok but the pillows were cheap and nasty and I needed to use 3 to get any support. My sleep was ok but fitful throughout the week.

On the plus side the shower, despite being an in the bath type and the extra human hairs :), had excellent water pressure and temperature. Made it very easy to wake up in the shower.

Checkout efficiency was similar to the checkin and was completed in 5 minutes and I was on my way to the airport without a hassle. Notably the hotel staff didn’t ask if I enjoyed my stay – maybe they get too many negative comments.

All in all, the Mantra on Murray would be a decent 2.5 or 3 star hotel… but I’ve already booked the Four Points for my next trip :)

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Giving Foxtel the flick

I’d been a Foxtel satellite customer (as I live in an apartment building) for thirteen and a half years and I’ve seen the cost of my subscription go up ~50% over that time with no noticeable increase in the quality of the programming. A couple of month ago I got the yearly “regrettably we’ll need to increase your monthly fee” e-mail which would have seen me paying ~$70/month for a service I watched for less than 20 hours a month. I decided to call time on my subscription and search for an alternative.

I had a quick look at a local IPTV service called fetchtv that is resold through a number of ISPs but that just seemed like a cut down Foxtel service that was still going to cost me ~$35/month for only a handful of channels. The value just wasn’t there.

In the past I’d looked at Internet streaming services such as Netflix & Hulu. You can view some of the Netflix and Hulu content in Australia but a majority of the content is “Geo Blocked” meaning that you need to be in the US to stream the movies and TV shows. Hmm, that seemed like a problem, but a quick Google search provided a simple and elegant solution.

There are a number of services you can subscribe to that fool the US-only streaming services into thinking your Australian internet connection is actually a US internet connection. If you google “Smart DNS” you’ll find services like Unotelly, Unblock-us, getflix, overplay and a plethora of others. Some services concentrate on getting you access to just Netflix & Hulu, while others try to open up as many streaming services as possible (and not just US services, but UK, Nordic, NZ etc as well). Most services allow you some sort of trial period so you can try them all and choose whichever one you think is best for you.

To use the SmartDNS you need to change the DNS servers your desktop/laptop/tablet uses by either changing the DNS setting on each device or you can change the DNS settings on your Internet router so they apply to all your devices. I made the change on my router.

To test your SmartDNS is working by trying to watch some of the free content on Hulu or Netflix. If you can watch half a dozen different shows then your SmartDNS is working.

Having free stuff to stream is good, but if you want access to most of the Netflix and Hulu content you’ll need a subscription to each of the services. This then throws up the next roadblock – to subscribe to these services you need a US address and a US credit card.

Getting a US address is simple. Open up Google Maps in your browser, choose your favourite US city and zoom in until you find a house you’d like to virtually move into. Write down the address, including the Zip code for future reference.

Getting a US credit card is just as simple. Again, Google is your friend, just search for “Virtual US credit card”. I ended up using a service called Entropay which allows you to load money from your Australian credit card into your shiny new virtual US credit card.

Once you’ve got your virtual US credit card and address you can sign up to your streaming service. Hulu gives you a 2 week trial and Netfix a month so you can try them before committing to parting with your cash. After the trails both Netflix and Hulu are each $7.99/month.

If you’ve done all of the above you should now able to stream your favourite TV shows and movies to your desktop/laptop/tablet.

But how do you get these movies and TV shows onto your telly? If you Google “movies streaming appliance” two appliances will pop up near the top of the results list that fit the bill. The first is the Apple TV and the second is a family of appliances from Roku. They both do pretty much the same thing so I went for the unit that had been more recently updated which were the Roku units.

There were 2 Roku units I was looking at: the Roku 2 and the Roku 3. The Roku 3 is the faster, better speced unit but it only has HDMI outputs and since my trusty Pioneer A/V receiver doesn’t support HDMI I went for the $10 cheaper Roku 2.

Buying a Roku for delivery to Australia may be an issue as well. You’ll need to buy from a seller who will ship internationally or use a freight forwarder like comGateway. I found a brand new still in sealed box Roku 2 on eBay for a reasonable Buy-It-Now price from a seller who was happy to post to Australia and a week later I had my Roku 2 in my hands.

One thing to note is that the Roku 2 came with a US 110V-only power supply so I had to purchase another power brick from Jaycar that cost me $30.

Setting up the Roku was easy. You’ll need to create an account on the Roku website that you connect your Roku player to. I plugged the Roku into my A/V receiver, powered it up and a couple of minutes later the Roku was up and running. Firstly you’ll need to connect it to your home Wifi and then it downloads the latest software updates and reboots.

Roku has this notion of “Channels” that are synonymous with applications on an iPad or Android tablet. You will see the Netflix and Hulu apps are preinstalled and all you need to do is connect them to you Netflix and Hulu accounts you previously created. Once the accounts are linked to your Roku you can watch your movies and TV shows on your TV.

Streaming video does use your internet download quota so you’ll need to be on a decent plan with your ISP. Streaming will use somewhere between 0.5 to 1 GB/hour so I upgraded my Internode plan from 200GB/month to 400GB/month for an extra $10/month.

So, let’s do the sums to see if I’m financially infront.

What would Foxtel cost me over 2 years?

Foxtel over the next 2 years would have cost me:

2014 $72*12=$840

2015 (assuming $2 increase per month) $74*12=$888

Making a total 2 year cost of $1728.

What’s my new setup going to cost me?

Once off costs: Roku $120, Australian Power supply $30 for a total of $150.

Monthly costs: Hulu $8, Netflix $8, SmartDNS $4, increased Internet download quota $10/mo = $30/mo, so total for 2014 is $360 and if we assume 10% escalation for 2015 the cost will be $396.

That adds upto is a total 2 year cost of $906.

Doing the sums will show you that I’ve saved $822 over two years… not a bad little saving!

So what are you waiting for? Get rid of your absurdly expensive, poor quality programming Foxtel and start streaming!

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Tai Hing, East Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

At a loss for somewhere to have lunch after visiting the Hong Kong Science Museum, I started up my trusty TripAdvisor app to see what restaurants with a decent rating were close by. Up popped Tai Hing in the New Mandarin Centre a couple of hundred metres away from where I was so off into the hot, humid, smoggy day I went.

Tai Hing, as I eventually found out, is a chain of around 45 restaurants around Hong Kong who’s main menu items are roasts – several different type of roast pork, roast goose amongst others.

I went to this particular restaurant 3 times during my 2 stays in Hong Kong each time having different combinations of their roast pork and roast goose (I love goose!).

The quality and price can’t be beaten and service is really fast. The combinations of  pork, goose & rice, along with a cold drink came in at around HK$70, which is just a shade over AU$10.

Highly recommended.

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Duxton, Perth, Australia

I’d stayed at the Duxton once before, probably about 5 years or so ago. After that stay I vowed never to stay there again as I did not leave with a good impression of the place. It was dated and dirty.

Fast forward 5 years and after a couple of colleagues said that place had been done up I thought I’d give it another try.

You can’t fault the location, next to the Concert Hall on St Georges Terrace near where it becomes Adelaide Terrace. Its a very nice setting.

The hotel had definitely been done up a little since I was there last time, but the way to tell the age, and the quality of the refurbishment, of a hotel is to look at the bathroom. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and be happy with the result, nor can you do up a hotel room without a major renovation (think pull it out and rebuild) of the bathroom. Unfortunately, that’s what they’ve done at the Duxton as the bathroom was there in its dated glory. Old taps, old shower and shower curtain and dated vanity. Very disappointing.

I was only in Perth for 26 hours so I didn’t have a chance to use any of the facilities of the hotel and I don’t think I will on my next trip either as I’ll be staying somewhere else. The Sheraton Four Points, even with the extortionary beer prices, is still probably a better appointed hotel in the rooms.

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