Archive for April, 2010

In a total affront to any and all privacy The North Carolina Department Of Revenue FLEW to Seattle to demand Amazon product all records for purchases by North Carolina residents from 2003-2010. Note I capitalized “FLEW” because instead of licking a stamp or using a courier service some enterprising soul in Raleigh figure out how to get a free vacation on you on me by hand delivering the demand letter to Amazon. So not only does the state want to know what you have been reading but they want you to pay for them to find it out while they take cross country flights, stay in hotels and have a nice dinner!

Amazon seeks a declaration that the DOR’s ongoing demand for information that will disclose the names, addresses and purchasing habits of Amazon’s North Carolina customers violates the rights of Amazon to sell, and its customers to purchase, books, movies, music, and other lawful expressive content free from government intrusion into the customers’ reading, viewing and listening choices. These rights are secured under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article I, sections 4 and 5 of the Washington State Constitution, and federal law. The DOR’s demand for the identity of customers who purchased video material also violates the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988, 18 U.S.C. § 2710. Declaratory relief from this Court is necessary to avoid piecemeal litigation or inconsistent rulings in the event other states make similar demands for customer data.

Of course Amazon has turned around and filed an immediate suit to block this request as it flies in the face of any number of court rulings that such information is private however now guess what, we get to send lawyers and their team to Seattle to argue that North Carolina does have a right to this information. Not only are you being asked to provide the state with Federally protected information but your being forced to pay to argue against your own personal rights in a court clear across the country!

The DOR has no business seeking to uncover the identity of Amazon’s customers who purchased expressive content … let alone associating customers’ names and addresses with the specific books, music, and video content that they have purchased,” Amazon wrote. “The collection and disclosure of the customer data … will link those purchases directly to the customers’ names and addresses, exposing their otherwise private reading, viewing, listening and other personal choices to government scrutiny

Please everyone take the time to read this great post on cnet which highlights exactly why North Carolina has no legal right to this information and contact your Representatives in Raleigh immediately. This is not a Left or Right side of the issue debate this is your personal privacy, protected by multiple Federal laws and court cases which the fools in Raleigh don’t seem to care about. While you have your Representative on the phone ask them who went to Seattle, did they fly coach and at what cost, where did they stay and eat and what was the final tally for hand delivering a letter to Amazon.

ACTION ALERT…NC Gov Bev Perdue Demands To Know What you Bought at Amazon

Amazon: NC bid to track taxes violates free speech

To read the full complaint Amazon has filed click here: Amazon v. Kenneth Lay

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This is a reprint or repost from an article by Amy Babinchak of ThirdTier who granted permission for this reprint.

“Dell Inc. will spend $3.9 billion for the technology services company Perot Systems Corp. in an attempt to expand beyond the PC business”

“Dell’s purchase of MessageOne, coming on the heels of its acquisition of EqualLogic in November, may signal that the manufacturer is looking to build its own storage brand…”

“Dell Computer has acquired privately-held Plural Inc., a Web application development and services company…”

“Dell has completed the acquisition of Everdream, a leading provider of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for remote-service management, providing Dell with an expanded presence in the rapidly growing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-enabled managed services market….”

I could go on and on posting news snippets from the last two years that demonstrate Dell’s progress out of its core business of providing great PC’s and Servers to businesses. Dell has purchased 10 companies all of which have nothing to do with making a good computer for you.

Dell has also reduced the sales and support for partners like Harbor Computer Services. Whereas, we used to have a team at Dell that was dedicated to helping us get you the best configuration for the specific needs of your business, we no longer have that team. Support for business sales is dismal and is moving in the direction of Dell’s customers support – off shore and disinterested.

Recently Dell moved it’s assembly plant from Texas to Mexico. With this move, Dell is no longer able to provide shipping time estimates for custom products. Our customers have experienced month long wait times and this unfortunately isn’t something that Dell intends to fix. It in in fact part of their plan to move away from providing custom computers for business needs.

Given the problems we have been experiencing, coupled with the news that Dell is moving its focus away from building great PC’s and Servers, we have decided to begin the move away from using Dell products. After significant research and agonizing over loosing a long term supplier, we have made our selection. We have been a HUGE Dell fan in the past, so this decision was not taken lightly or quickly – it has in fact been somewhat painful.

Our new preferred partner is Equus. Equus is an American business with 100% of its assembly, support and service in the USA. They build computers from Intel components. They are Intel’s 7th largest customer. They have been in business for 21 years. They are employee owned. They have an office in Novi and are headquartered in Minneapolis. We are confident that we have found the right hardware supplier.

Building computers is what Equus does. Support partners like Harbor Computer Services is all that their support department does. They are good at what they do and have been well respected in the industry for many years.

We hope that you will move along with us in the transition from Dell to Equus. We will still be able to obtain Dell equipment for you, but we no longer feel confident in recommending them as the preferred solution. Ted, Diana and Amy can answer any questions and address concerns that you may have. Change is difficult and uneasy but sometimes necessary. This is one of those cases.

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In case you missed the news a Federal Appeals Court ruled this week on if the FCC has the authority to dictate to Internet Providers how the manage the data being sent through their networks. In 2007 the FCC judged that Comcast could not throttle or delay certain types of traffic such as Bit Torrent, a type of file transfer, however Comcast argued the FCC did not have the authority to make such a ruling or issue any fines. This week a D.C. Appeals Court agreed with Comcast that the FCC’s statutory authority does not extend into how ISP’s manage their network traffic or content.

Now on to why this has any bearing on your day to day life or business.

The term Net Neutrality in it’s basic form means all traffic on a public network (Internet) must be treat equally. This means your video watching of YouTube and your neighbors online gaming both must travel across the Internet unencumbered by traffic management which places one type of web use above another. Sounds simple and basic enough right? Well ISP’s argue that for one they need to manage their networks to provide quality service to all customers and if one customer or type of use is putting a strain on the system they need to be allowed to adjust that traffic so all users get acceptable access. Well that also sounds reasonable enough doesn’t it? Thus the problem, should all access be equal or should an ISP be able to control the bandwidth so all users get reasonable performance.

Now for the Dark Side. Let’s say ISPs such as Comcast and Time Warner have certain content on the web. As a Road Runner customer I find I can access that Time Warner content extremely fast but when I try to watch something Comcast is providing I find it’s horribly slow, hmm, is it fair for Road Runner to slow down access to competitive services or product? Better yet let’s say a Road Runner calls up Google who owns YouTube and says, “we need you to start paying for the amount of data people are using to view your content or we will start slowing that content delivery down. Don’t forget Google is saying they want to drop fiber in a couple of cities and those cities are bending over backwards to get Google’s money but what if Google did lay fiber in say Winston-Salem then turned around and only allowed high speed access to Google services and slowed down access to everything else? Well I think it would be easy to argue none of us think either of those situations would be a good idea.

So should we be upset that the courts ruled the FCC doesn’t have the right to say no to either of the above thus giving the FCC carte blanche to be the sole authority on how network bandwidth is provided? To steal a movie line from a great movie , “I Think NOT!” and the reason is simple, the so called Fairness Doctrine and it’s new Obama appointed Czar, The Chief Diversity Officer. Now I’m not going to get all political in this however it should be noted that if the court had let the FCC’s argument stand then there is absolutely nothing to stop the FCC from saying there has to be not only equal access to the networks but the content on the web must also be equal in it’s “diversity”. Now this is a very scary thought that a group of unelected officials could in fact determine if you get to listen to Rush Limbaugh online because there would have to be an equal liberal voice so as to keep the Internet “diverse”. Let’s bring it even further down to the local level let’s say you run a website where you share your political views but to keep things “diverse” you would be forced to have an equal amount of opposing content. Okay you think that’s absurd the FCC could not ever do that however if the ruling had stood they could have in fact done just that. Your church website could have been ordered to put up links to gay websites, local bars, Las Vegas casinos or anything else because everything had to be equal and “diverse”.

Sure, sure the above would have hopefully never happened however by allowing a commission to expand it’s powers beyond what our elected officials have given them we have to assume the worse since who knows what could happen and we would have had no recourse. By the courts stepping in the concept of Net Neutrality is now tossed back to Congress where hopefully we will have public and well as industry input to come up with rules which are fair but more importantly have a system of checks and balances. Should Road Runner be able to slow down Skype because Road Runner sells VOIP or should you be able to watch MSNBC or FOX at equal speeds and who is to be the judge and jury of that is not something we want a few beltway insiders to determine.

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In a case of Wrongful Discharge and Defamation that dates back to 2007 Judge Jeffrey Tureck has ordered BB&T to rehire Amy Stroupe. BB&T has said they disagree with the Judge’s findings and have said they will appeal.

In 2005 Amy Stroupe was hired by BB&T after recruiter her from the Cleveland Couty Sheriffs Department to work as an corporate Fraud Investigator. Shortly after her employment at BB&T she investigated strange loan approvals for a land development company in Mitchell County, Peerless Development Group. It appears certain people involved with the land company as well as the single loan officer who was approving the loans were not following proper procedures so Stroupe’s investigation grew to the point she involved multiple managers at BB&T, county attorneys, tax offices and even the FBI. In 2007 after the loan officer who approved the various Peerless loans was first removed from his position of approving loans and later released Stroupe was first transferred then fired. The legal filings say the actions taken against Stroupe were vindictive for her pursuing one of BB&T’s best loan generators as well as informing outside parties of BB&T’s possible improper actions during the whole process. One should note that five people involved in the Village of Penland development have pleaded guilty to Federal charges.

This week Judge Tureck agreed and order Stroupe rehired and given her back pay with interest. BB&T Spokesman Cynthia Williams said, “"BB&T adamantly denies doing anything wrong and will be filing an appeal in this matter”.

Original Case Filing

If the charges are valid as the Judge has agreed they are it would appear BB&T had no interest disclosing to anyone outside of BB&T of it’s links to North Carolina’s largest fraud scheme ever.

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