Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Osborne MCSD Certification Books

Before I rant about these books let's hit something I have really liked about them. They have a lot of digital content that comes with them. The key piece of that is a digital copy of the book, which let's me use it in many other forms than just reading it. I can have text to speach tools read them to me. As they read I can follow along and have them force me to pay attention and keep a decent reading speed.

Even though I am going to have negative things to say about their practice test software later, I like that they include practice tests.

I had a company I worked for a while back buy me a copy of one of these books. I will never buy another one. I check them out from the library if they have them to just get a different perspective, but won't rely on them primarily for taking an exam.

The text of the book is full of "bugs." What I mean by bugs is inaccurrate code and text that is not so much typos, but just plain wrong. This is one of the problems I have with the practice tests. Mostly with the answer key. This include the digital tests and also with the chapter reviews. I have to say that the bugs in the text of technical books in general is pretty bad, but these books have out done the rest at being buggy.

The other problem with the practice tests and reviews are that they are too rudimentary.

Another problem with the text is that many of their examples stop short of being useful. In many instances they show a limited example. They give no explanation of the parameters or anything else in the example. They just move to the next example of another concept.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sneaky Way of Getting Your Credit Card Information

I ordered some flowers online a month or so ago. At the end of the process there was a link asking if I wanted to try an online reward program. I have been involved in trials before and have seen them take my credit card information. At the end of the trial periods they begin charging my card. So you either have to watch very carefully and call cancel before the end of the trial period. That being the case, I have stopped doing trial periods that take my credit card. If I don't like the product after the trial period I would rather the contract end. Anyway, I did the trial, since as far as I could tell they didn't take my credit card.

This month I was looking over my credit card bill ad noticed a charge from online reward company. I tried logging into their site to try to find out how they got my credit card information. My login wouldn't work. I clicked the forgot password link o have them send it to me. It never showed up in my email. I then decided to call them.

The good news is that I got someone on the phone right away. If you take this service know that the at least answer the phone if you have a problem.

I explained the situation to the lady that answered and asked for my money back and my account with them to be canceled. The lady refused to refund my money at first, told me that it was in the link that I had clicked stating that I would be charged something at the end of the trial period and rushed me through to canceling. When she was done she asked if there was anything else. I slowed her down and asked if there was a form where I had entered my credit card on their site. After trying to pull information out of her for a few seconds I gathered that they had pulled my card from the site I ordered the flowers from and in the trial agreement they had put something about it being okay for them to use my credit card from the other site. I told her that sounded shady to me and at that point she agreed to give me back my money, as a "courtesy". I then told her that I wished she had given me my money back at the beginning of the conversation like I had asked and saved us both some time. She explained that she can't give refunds to everyone that calls and cancels. By the way, I called just a few days after the trial period ended. It wasn't like I was using the service for a full month after the trial or several months and then wanted my money back. On the other hand, I didn't read the fine print and am grateful that I didn't have to pay for my mistake.

This service may be a good service. For what I used it for in the trial period it was better than I would've expected. I got the check for the $15 they promised me as a rebate on another purchase very quickly. Just know that when you click to sign up for the trial that you are giving them your credit card, which was not obvious to me and I believe is slippery way for them to get people to sign up for a trial.