WordPress Popular Posts plugin and WordPress 4.8.2

When I updated WordPress to version 4.8.2 I accidentally found out that the update stops the WordPress Popular Posts plugin from working correctly. I was working on some optimizations for a WP site and started seeing the SQL errors!

Turns out that version 4.8.2 of WordPress hardens¬†$wpdb->prepare() to prevent plugins and themes from accidentally causing a vulnerability. And given that WordPress Popular Posts hasn’t been updated in a year, this update breaks it.

Given that it is very popular ūüôā and that it may not be updated by the publisher, I decided to check the code causing this problem and replace it with code that works with 4.8.2.

You will need to edit the WordPress Popular Posts plugin as below:

The 2 sections of code are:

// Update all-time table
$result1 = $wpdb->query( $wpdb->prepare( “INSERT INTO {$table}data (postid, day, last_viewed, pageviews) VALUES (%d, %s, %s, %d) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE pageviews = pageviews + %4\$d, last_viewed = %3\$s”, $id, $now, $now, $views ));

// Update range (summary) table
$result2 = $wpdb->query( $wpdb->prepare( “INSERT INTO {$table}summary (postid, pageviews, view_date, last_viewed) VALUES (%d, %d, %s, %s) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE pageviews = pageviews + %2\$d, last_viewed = %4\$s”, $id, $views, $curdate, $now ));

You will need to change to:

//Update all-time table
$result1 = $wpdb->query( $wpdb->prepare( “INSERT INTO {$table}data (postid, day, last_viewed, pageviews) VALUES (%d, %s, %s, %d) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE pageviews = pageviews + VALUES(pageviews), last_viewed = VALUES(last_viewed)”, $id, $now, $now, $views ));

// Update range (summary) table
$result2 = $wpdb->query( $wpdb->prepare( “INSERT INTO {$table}summary (postid, pageviews, view_date, last_viewed) VALUES (%d, %d, %s, %s) ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE pageviews = pageviews + VALUES(pageviews), last_viewed = VALUES(last_viewed)”, $id, $views, $curdate, $now ));

Save the plugin and it should start updating the database correctly.

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Freeing up memory on Andriod

If your Android phone has 1 or even 2 GB of internal memory, you could face update issues and a generally slow device if you install a few apps.

Typically to update apps, Android requires at least 300 MB of free internal storage memory (also called Device Memory). Any less that this amount usually results in an ‘insufficient storage” message.

So what can you do ?

  • Ensure that all the apps installed on your device are really needed. We tend to download apps, try them once but don’t remember to remove them.
  • If you run Kitkat (4.4) or below, you can try moving apps to the SD card. This works for a lot of apps however core apps cannot be moved.
    To check the version of Android on your phone, go to Settings and tap on About Phone and look for the Android version.
  • Clear Cache: Some applications use a lot of memory to store information in the cache. While this helps the app perform better, a lot of times, the information in the cache will not be used again. (for example if you visit a news site, the app will cache the stories you read even though you may never read them again). You can see how much cache an app is using by going to Settings then tap on Apps and then tap on the App of interest, you will see a Cache section that shows the amount of memory this app is using for Cache, you can clear the cache by tapping the button.
  • If moving apps and clearing cache is still not solving the memory issue, you can start disabling some of the apps that come bundled with Android (or the manufacturer) but you never use. This will not only save you a lot of memory but also makes your device faster as it is running fewer apps.
    Google installs a fair bit of additional apps that you may never use. For example:

    • Drive – This is Google Cloud storage, however if you use another cloud storage then you can disable¬†this.
    • Gmail – Again, if you use another email client, you don’t need Gmail to also be running.
    • Google+ – Not many use this social media app but Android still bundles it and it takes a lot of memory.
    • Hangouts – Googles chat app. If you don’t use it you can disable it.
    • Talkback – Same and Hangouts
    • Facebook – Yes many use the facebook app but if you don’t or prefer not to use it on the phone (like me ūüôā ) you can disable this.
    • Any app that is manufacturer based as each one installs a heap of apps that are rarely or never used.

      Note that I used disable not remove because these apps cannot be uninstalled. Still disabling them will give you plenty of free memory. For each of the above apps, go to Settings then Apps swipe to the All tab and find the app in question. Tap on the app and you will see a button named “Uninstall updates”, tap this button first and confirm then tap the “Disable” button. You will notice how much memory you have claimed back.
      If for any reason you want this app again, swipe to the Disabled tab and you will see all the disabled apps. You can then enable and update (via the Play Store)

The menu examples and steps are from Android 4.3 (Jellybean) so they may differ slightly on other versions. Feel free to ask if you have any issues.

Good luck

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Touch pad not responding

If you have a Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and suddenly the touch pad stops responding even though the drivers are there, do check the following:

  • Open Device Manager
  • Expand Human Interface Devices
  • You should see a warning next to one of the I2C HID Device
  • Try to disable the drive (right click over it)
  • Then Enable it again
  • The touchpad should come to life again ūüôā
  • If not, try to reboot and it should work

This has caused me a lot of frustration in the past. The driver continues to fail occasionally  (not sure why) but the above fixes it.

This Yoga 3 Pro was originally running on Windows 8 and upgraded to Windows 10 so am not sure if this is one issue related to the upgrade

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BMW out, Michael Schumacher in!

Even though Formula 1 is supposed to be having a 4 week break, there are a number of major issues happening. The best news is that Massa is recovering well and he conducted an interview with Ferrari on Monday (story).

The shocking news on Wednesday last week that BMW is departing Formula 1 (story) was almost negated by the news that Michael Schumacher will make a comeback and replace Felipe Massa (story). Then over the weekend, the good news that a new Concorde Agreement has been signed (story). And the expected news that Nelson Piquet has been axed by his Renault team (story).

BMW – as all the other car manufacturers – are having a tough time with poor financial results and that is putting huge pressure to cut expenditure and an F1 programme is both very expensive and very high profile and would be an easy target. We saw that with Honda and now we are seeing it with BMW. What is unfortunate in BMW’s case is that unlike Honda, BMW have been doing very well in their first 3 years in Formula 1 and it was only this year when their results were worst than expected. The BMW team set an ambitious target since they decided to take a majority stake in the Sauber team,¬†they have met their targets every year however this¬†season their target was the most difficult and that was to challenge for the World Championship. BMW had a poor start to the season and the changes they did to the car during the season didn’t really give them the¬†improvements they needed and so the BMW board decided to axe the program.
The FIA reacted quickly and blamed FOTA and their resistance to the budget cap for BMW’s exit (FIA statement), however they conveniently ignored the fact that introducing KERS was probably the most likely cause for BMW’s lack of pace and ulimately their exit from Formula 1.

BMW spent heavily on the technology and appeared to have also relied on it to give them an advantage. The¬†other teams¬†proposed delaying the introduction of KERS until 2010 but BMW being the most advanced developer of the technology at that¬†time rejected the proposal. As we know now, KERS didn’t give BMW the advantage it hoped for, in fact only a few races into the season and BMW started to consider running their car without KERS. By now BMW were under enormous pressure to perform and anything they did was a bit too late.

It will be sad to see BMW go as they have shown a lot of promise and there was no doubt that they would have challenged for the championship in 2010 or 2011 at the latest.

Michael Schumacher made the surprise announcement that he will make a comeback and race in Formula 1 again as a replacement for Felipe Massa who was injured at the Hungarian Grand Prix (story). Michael Schumacher’s final race was the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix where he had an amazing race and will be remembered for a long time. His decision to make a comeback after nearly 3 years is certainly an interesting one. Michael doesn’t have to prove anything, after all he is the 7 time World Champion so why did he ? and why did Ferrari even ask him to race ? Ferrari have two test drivers for the team (Luca Badoer and Marc Gene) and standing in for an injured driver is part of their job so why choose Michael ?¬†¬
It makes a lot of commercial sense to everyone involved to have Michael back, there will be more fans attending the races, more merchandise sold and more viewers on TV.
Does Michael risk¬†damaging his¬†reputation ? Unlikley, if he doesn’t do well then it is expected as he has been away for nearly 3 years. In fact, his reputation could be significantly boosted if he does impress so long after he stopped racing.¬†

Ferrari requested from the other teams an exemption to allow Michael to test the F60 despite the testing ban. They have described the circumstances as exceptional and due to those cicrumstances they claim that Michael should be allowed to test. Indeed the circumstances are exceptional but does that warrant breaking the test ban so that Michael gets to test ? Certainly not! Why should Michael be allowed to test the car when the rules agreed by everyone dictate that no testing can be conducted. Sure the testing rules in my view are stupid (see my last blog post) but those are the rules.¬†Jamie Alguersuari had no Formula 1 experience prior to his debut in Hungary and the driver to replace Nelson Piquet (most likley to be Romain Grosjean) will have no Formula 1 experience either. Michael on the other hand has and while he stopped racing at the end of 2006, he actually conducted some tests for Ferrari in 2007 and most recently in 2008 when he tested¬†a modified¬†F2008 fitted with 2009 Bridgestone slick tryes and the car had downforce levels similar to those of this year.¬†If a rookie can’t test then Michael certainly shouldn’t be allowed to test.

In addition, the team already has 2 test drivers¬†and so with the testing ban in place, what¬†are the responsibilities of those two drivers if they cannot race in case one of¬†the regular drivers gets injured or sick¬†? Had Massa’s accident occured on the Friday then Gene or Badoer would have raced in Hungary and beyond!

It won’t be easy for Michael as he has been away for so long and he hasn’t driven the F60 at all so there is learning curve ahead of him but he is positioned better than any new driver coming into F1 and should be able to adjust fairly quickly. Play by the rules, there is no need for the controversy and let your fans enjoy your comeback.

Will he be able to match Kimi Raikkonen ? Not likely in Valencia but if Massa isn’t back soon then it will be an interesting duel between those two.

Finally a best wishes message to both Sebastien Bourdais and Nelson Piquet. While they didn’t deliver, both had tough times and they do deserve a second chance. Hopefully we could still see both in Formula 1 next year.

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Unsafe rules in F1!

First and foremost I would like to wish Felipe Massa a full and speedy recovery. He was very very unfortunate to have been hit by that debris. The latest is that he is recovering well and this is great news.

What happened to Felipe Massa was a freak accident that most probably won’t ever be repeated again however we need to learn from this accident to try and prevent something similar from happening again.

The Formula¬†1 drivers are already planning to discuss ways to protect the driver’s head from flying objects and that is certainly an avenue worth exploring but my concern is the contradictory actions by the FIA in promoting safety yet putting rules in place that reduce safety.

Massa’s accident was caused by a flying spring from Barrichello’s car. Basically something broke on Barrichello’s car and while these things could happen anytime, the chances of them happening when there is a full ban on testing in place is magnified significantly as the teams have only the race weekend to squeeze in a few laps to test new parts as they go through their programme. Had there been limited testing during the season, the chances of this accident occurring is much reduced as the track will not be as busy.

Formula 1 is extremely competitive and the teams want to push upgrades on the car as soon as possible but banning testing while allowing changes to the cars is a recipe for disaster.

A better way is to limit the number of times upgrades are introduced and have a 2-day test session before that. For example, allow upgrades to be introduced after every four races and teams must test those upgrades on track prior to introducing them.

The FIA Safety commission has been asked to report on this accident so lets hope its findings are apolitical.

Another issue that is of concern is the mix of KERS and non-KERS cars. In my view this is very dangerous and we could end up with a big pileup at one of the upcoming races. KERS equipped cars are superior to the non-KERS cars at the start and we are ending up with¬†more cars bunched together at the first turn which increases the chance of cars touching and crashing into each other. In Germany Hamilton and Webber touched, in Hungary Raikkonen and Vettel touched, luckily in¬†both cases¬†other cars weren’t impacted but it only takes one car to spin for a few cars behind to suddenly find no place to go.

First corner accidents have always happened but having two different specification cars mixed together makes the situation more dangerous and certainly goes against making racing safer.

The teams have agreed not to use KERS next season which from this point of view is good (either all the teams use it or no team uses it)  but we still have 7 races to go and while it may sound unfair to the 2 remaining KERS teams, they should agree not to use KERS at the start of a race.

The FIA wanted to ban tyre warmers for next year in order to cut costs and the drivers have been complaining about this as there is a significant difference in the laptimes between warmed up tyres and cold ones. Thankfully it now appears that tyre warmers will not be banned next season which makes a lot of sense.

We need to be sensible when it comes to cutting costs. Motorsport will never be completely safe but lets reduce the chances of accidents rather than increase them.

A¬†comment on Renault’s one¬†race¬†ban, if Renault were indeed found to be negligent by the stewards for knowingly letting Alonso¬†drive with a loose wheel then they do deserve a penalty but to give them a race ban is a knee-jerk reaction. A fine or a points deduction would have been better. Many Alonso fans would have purchased tickets to watch their hero in Valencia and it seems unfair to rob them of that. Lets hope that a good solution can be found.

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Skype intent on keeping their customers unsatisfied

It has been a while since I provided an update on the situation with Skype. I was hoping for a satisfactory resolution however they seem intent on keeping their customers unsatisfied.

As I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, Skype offered me compensation vouchers for the Unlimited World Subscription and the 3 Online numbers I had plus 10 Euros in Skype credit for “for the excessive E-mail correspondence, the forum postings and the inconvenience in general”

On the face of it, the offer doesn’t sound too bad however I have three major issues with the way they are handling this issue:
1. Skype are not upfront about their compensation, they don’t seem to have a policy but deal with each case as it happens. I had to correspond multiple times to get to this stage.
2. Offering 10 Euros in credit for months of inconvenience is really a joke. I have spend a lot of hours over the last 3 months (yes three months) in chasing this up.
3. Skype seem to always consider that they are always right (after you skip through their excessive apologitic tone which is not sincere). Despite sending them their own automated replies, Skype do not recognise that I logged 2 support requests back on the 7th of April and 10th of April. And that is really unacceptable.

I will continue chasing Skype demading a satisfactory resolution to this problem.

Below you’ll find extracts of the communication between me and Skype (it is long but worth reading as I wanted to show how Skype deals with its customers)

First response from (Skype Office of the President)
Note the apologitic tone yet stating they did nothing wrong
… your E-mail has been forwarded to me for further review and clarification. I am very sorry to read that you have had an issue concerning your Skype Unlimited World subscription.

I deeply apologize for the delayed response and the associated inconvenience it has caused you. As you asked for a personal direct contact, we do not have live phone or chat support and all our support is conducted by E-mail. At present E-mail support requests gives us time to deal with you as a customer and each problem more thoroughly, because we have time to search and develop the answers to your different problems and to find out the best solution for you and your case.
Please allow me to explain to you in detail.
As I see from your order records, you purchased the Unlimited World subscription with the order ” xxxx” on July 4th, 2008 for the first time. As it is the nature of a subscription, it was extended automatically as recurring payment via your back then used credit card (Visa ).

The subscription was extended monthly without any hiccups until April 1st, 2009.
After the subscription was automatically extended with the order “xxx ” on April 1st, 2009 ( and you actually had a running subscription ), you unfortunately placed on the April 7th, 2009 manually another Unlimited World subscription order ” xxx”.
With this order “xxx “, purchased by yourself, you changed the conditions of your recurring, almost for 1 year running subscription by yourself. You changed from you Unlimited World subscription for 1 month to a 12 months Unlimited World subscription. Therefore you changed the subscription conditions.
And unfortunately you processed the changing on April 7th, 2009, 5 days after we presented and initiated our new subscriptions. Even though your recurring subscription from April 1st, 2009 was active, and you changed your recurring subscription to a Unlimited World 12 months sub.
As you bought a different subscription, you just are able to purchase the new subscriptions complying with new rules and conditions. The new subscriptions don’t include the online number due to the fact we changed the subscription in April 2nd, 2009, as mentioned above. And their function is different to the old subscriptions. An online number is not longer available in our new subscriptions. The new subscriptions offer a 50% discount on online numbers.

I replied:
Thank you for your response and your detailed email.
Since you have looked into my account in some detail (unlike any of your  support staff so far), I will give you the benefit of the doubt so I will respond to you in detail despite me having explained this situation to support and on your forums (and provide to Peter whom I assume is the one that forwarded this case to you):
You say:
> After the subscription was automatically extended with the order “xxx” on April 1st, 2009 ( and you actually had a running subscription ), you unfortunately placed on the April 7th, 2009 manually another Unlimited World subscription order “xxx”.

Did you question the reason I did this Michel ? Why would I do such a thing  ?
I’ll explain, the reason is that on the 7th of April I received an email from Skype telling me that my subscription was cancelled. The email instructed me to sign up for my subscription again
When I signed up again, I decided to pay for 1 year rather than monthly as it was offering a discount. AGAIN, let me repeat that had it not been for your email that was sent to me telling me that my subscription has been cancelled, I would not have done any of this.

Furthermore, I submitted a form to support concerning this without any response so I went to the Skype Forums and created a post (http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=319901) and one of your moderators (Norman Musgrave) told me that the email I got from Skype on the 7th of April was “In error” and that support will get back to me.
As you can see, this was back in April and as you know, we are now in June and I have heard nothing of substance, just calls for patience and that a compensation programme has commenced for those affected (without any details)
Please Michel, look at my case in more detail and re-instate my subscription as it should have since my subscription was cancelled through no fault of my own.

PS. While I am pleased that you have responded promptly, there are many customers requesting support who don’t get such a prompt response (if any) this despite your automated messages telling customers “Because the majority of requests require research to resolve, it can sometimes take us up to 48 hours to respond, though we make every effort to get back to you as quickly as possible and most queries are answered within 24 hours.”

Skype reponded with:
Again note the excessive apologies yet they keep pointing at me as the one who did the mistake!

I again thank you for your response to your Unlimited World subscription issue.
I really do sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you experienced and the previous responses you received.
You are referring to the statement we posted on our ” Heartbeat ” webpage:
http://heartbeat.skype.com/2009/04/problems_with_autorecharge_and.html We experienced on both days an issue, a technical hiccup with our E-mail notification system. It wrongly sent out E-mails, to a few customers, stating a problem with our auto-recharge ( ATU ) agreement. You, unfortunately received one as well.
 As your subscription was not affected in actual fact, due to the fact your subscription worked properly, even though you received the wrongly sent out E-mail you cancelled your subscription yourself by placing a new order, as we do see from our records regarding your order history and the changes you made, the system states you changed the conditions of your subscription by yourself, manually. The subscription was running without any hiccups, and the next step we can replicate in our system is, that you changed the subscription from a monthly subscription to a 12 months subscription, and therefore the conditions. That is why I provided you with my previous response to your request.
I apologize for the inconvenience you experienced.
Regarding the reinstatement of your old subscription. As you afterwards bought a different subscription, you just are able to purchase the new subscriptions complying with new rules and conditions. The new subscriptions don’t include the online number due to the fact we changed the subscription in April 2nd, 2009. And their function is different to the old subscriptions. An online number is not longer available in our new subscriptions. The new subscriptions offer a 50% discount on online numbers.
Once again, I am really sincerely sorry and do apologize for the wrongly sent E-mail notification, and I would like to provide you with a 12 months Unlimited World subscription.

My reply:
I appreciate you offering me a 12 month subscription however you keep referring to me as the one who cancelled the subscription and I cannot accept that. You are stating that my subscription was not affected in actual fact, maybe that was so but how would I know that when the email from Skype tells me it is cancelled and when your support doesn’t respond ?
After I received the email and after not receiving an answer from support, I went to the Skype Forums as they became my only reference, on the forums, Norman (your representative) clearly states that you have to cancel the old subscription and I went by that instruction.
Again I ask you the question, why would I cancel my own subscription ? In addition, I didn’t change my subscription, once again due to the statement from Norman (your representative) instructing to cancel, I cancelled the subscription and upon subscribing again, I saw that the yearly subscription was attractive so I subscribed to it.
These events were triggered by the cancellation email that was sent out. Having no reason to believing that it was an incorrect message and concerned that my service was cancelled and having nowhere to turn except the forums (you don’t offer a phone number for one to contact support either)¬† I had to take the action that I did. You cannot blame me for your error and I cannot accept your statements pointing at me as the reason for losing my subscription and my 3 online numbers.
Once again I ask that you reinstate my subscription to the state it was in prior to the email that was sent in error.
Finally, in addition to the email you sent in error, have you also considered the time and effort that I have put in to get to this stage due to this error ? It has been over two months of trying to get in touch with someone in charge. You think that I or any of your loyal customers should go through all the time and effort due to an error by you ? Why wasn’t there an immediate response to this issue right after it was discovered ? Why does it take me to post on forums and blogs and look for a contact in Skype that can listen ? Why ? Can you please offer an answer that isn’t just a deep apology? Can you tell me why this has taken so long and what are you doing so that other customers don’t receive the same treatment ? I felt and still do feel treated unfairly and unjustly by Skype

And Skype replied:
Thank you very much for your replies, and I sincerely apologize for the very long waiting time.
1) Once again, I am sorry that our Skype Customer Support didn’t respond instantly or rather in time, and you had to wait for a response to your issue.
You refer to the Skype forum and this specific thread you started: http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=319901
As mentioned in my previous response, Norman didn’t clearly state that you have had to cancel the subscription to reinstate the old subscription. You asked him the following:
” It has been nearly 4 days now since the last update and it is taking way too long. How much longer should I wait before I am forced to cancel my subscription and requesting a full refund ?? ”¬† ” …can you please advise how I can cancel my subscription and get a refund as well as the refund for extra month that was charged to my credit card even though I resubscribed and paid 1 year in full I don’t really want to cancel this subscription but I am really left with no other choice ”¬† ” …I want to CANCEL my subscription and get a REFUND for the 1 year I paid in advance and the subscription payment made for the month of April even though my subscription was supposed to be cancelled. ”
Norman did answer:
” Hello Tim,
You can cancel your Unlimited Plan at any time.
Go to >> Account Page >> Subscription Settings >> Cancel
Cancelation is effective from the next billing date. ”
You asked him, how to cancel the subscription ”¬†xxx ” and to receive a refund of the paid amount. There is now word of ” …you have to cancel the old subscription… “.
2) I am really sincerely sorry for the wrongly sent out E-mail notification, and I understand that you took the action you did because of this E-mail, but Skype in actual fact didn’t trigger the subscription order ” xxx”.
Skype and I absolutely don’t want to blame you for the wrongly sent E-mail notification.
And I again do truly apologize for losing your subscription, but as I explained in my response, unfortunately we are not able to reinstate your old subscription due to technical reasons and due to the new into our system integrated subscriptions. We cannot ” go back ” to the old subscriptions system.
I am sincerely sorry, but please redeem the 12 months Unlimited World subscription vouchercode. I also would like you to offer 3 online number vouchers each for 12 months, and in addition for the excessive E-mail correspondence, the forum postings and the inconvenience in general I want to provide you with 1 Skype credit vouchercode worth 10 EUR:
3) ”¬† Why wasn’t there an immediate response to this issue right after it was discovered ? ”¬† ” …Can you please offer an answer that isn’t just a deep apology ? Can you tell me why this has taken so long… ”
We did respond to this issue on our heartbeat webpage, as soon as we discovered the problem with the E-mail notification. I provided you with the link. And our Customer Support Agents are answering to our customers requests, inquiries and questions as fast as possible. But as you hopefully can imagine and understand, right now we have more than 440 million registered customers, daily over 16 million of them online, at the same time. We are providing every single customer request we a single response. Please understand, that it takes sometimes more time to answer, and not every single user receives an answer within 2 hours or 2 days of the first time request.
I fully understand and I am able to comprehend your disappointment and kind of anger, but you may rest assured, we here in Skype give our best to help every customer, and we would like to see only happy and satisfied ones, especially with our Customer Support work.

My reply:
I would first like to say that at the personal level I thank you for your voucher offers. I want a fair resolution and what you are offering me now seems fair with regards to the actual service that is offered. Although offering me 10 Euro “excessive E-mail correspondence, the forum postings and the inconvenience in general ” doesn’t really account for much of the time I have spent in pursuing this matter and the frustration I endured.
I would like to note the following from your response:
– The thread I created was on the 10th of April. That was after I read the instructions to cancel the subscription. The instructions I gathered from many of the threads on the Skype forum about what to do when a subscription is cancelled.
The section of the thread that you have quoted were from a number of posts from the 27th and 28th of April with Norman responding on the 30th of April.
This was done after I was fed up with the lack of response and I requested to cancel the new subscription “xxx”. That was 20 days after the problem started.
– Updating the hearbeat page with the status. Seriously Michel, do you expect your subscribers to check on that page ? When a serious issue such as an email informing a customer that their subscription is cancelled, an email should be sent out informing them of the error. Perhaps even a call or sms or IM. Did you ask why does Skype have an automated system that sends emails about cancelled subscriptions yet doesn’t have an automated system to send emails when an error occurs ?
– Your explanation for the lack of customer support is weak. Having 16 million customers online or 1 million or 10,000 shouldn’t be treated any different. I am sure you have visited your own forums and have seen the huge amount of complaints from customers requesting support. I was taken by complete surprise when I read that many complaints. Your customer support section needs urgent attention.
– You say “Please understand, that it takes sometimes more time to answer, and not every single user receives an answer within 2 hours or 2 days of the first time request”
Again I remind you of my own case. Here is chronology:
7 April 2009 – I get the Skype email that my subscription has cancelled
7 April 2009 – I request support from Skype
7 April 2009 – I receive an automated email from Skype stating “Because the majority of requests require research to resolve, it can sometimes take us up to 48 hours to respond, though we make every effort to get back to you as¬† quickly as possible and most queries are answered within 24 hours”
10 April 2009 – I send support another reminder as I haven’t heard from Skype
10 April 2009 – I receive another automated email
10 April 2009 – I create a thread in Skype Forums
Between 10 April and 4 May 2009 – I get limited responses from Norman, mainly requesting patience. I get fed up and request cancellation of my subscription
All this time, I did not receive any message from Skype customer support. Norman does not identify himself as a Skype support person.

14 May 2009 – I decided to setup my own blog to make others aware of this problem.
Between 14 May 2009 and 4 June – I get numerous responses from people with similar experience. I also posted my problem on another blog where Skype Blogger Peter Parkes had put a response. As a result, Peter posted on my blog
I contact Peter and he gets you involved and I have been discussing this with you since.
Incidentally, on the 29th of May, I learn about a compensation programme through browsing through the Skype Forums. Again, a company that cares about their customers would have informed all those affected by this problem in a proper way such as email.
This has taken 2 months and what you are offering me is due to the fact that I have been vocal about this and have explored several avenues. From a customer satisfaction, this is not acceptable at all.
The feeling I get from this experience is that Skype intentionally delays its responses and provides little information in the correspondence to eliminate as many complaints as possible then just deal with the few left who haven’t given up.

Skype continue to deny that I logged a support request from the 7th of April and I am pursuing this matter through multiple channels.

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Peace in Formula 1 at last!

While we were hoping for a resolution to the Formula One crisis, I doubt many thought it would happen so quickly. At Silverstone last weekend, matters appeared to be escalating to the point of no return with threats of law suites on both sides. Everyone knew that the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meeting could resolve the matter, no one really expected it! What is even more surprising is that the deal is one-sided with Max Mosley backing down on almost all his demands (refer to the WMSC statement here)

So how did it happen so quickly ?

Mosley’s interview with the BBC calling some members of FOTA ‘loonies’ did not go down well with FOTA and they certainly capitalised on that. Besides, FIA Presidents shouldn’t go to that level particularly one who had his own scandal just a year ago.

The commercial rights owners of Formula One (CVC) were not pleased about the state of affairs and after the FIA announced taking legal action against FOTA and Ferrari, CVC appear to have got seriously involved, so much so that on Sunday Mosley decided to put legal action on hold.

Mosley appeared to be backtracking and FOTA gaining momentum. Add to that, every poll showed that the fans were firmly on FOTA’s side. And comments from Bernie Ecclestone that he ‘feels with the teams’ made the situation much worse for Mosley.

Aware of his eroding support base, Mosley writes to the FIA members asking them for support as a last ditch attempt to save himself. That fails and knowing that he won’t have the numbers this time, he had to accept the inevitable.

So with the threat of a breakaway series now averted and with Max Mosley out of the picture, one would expect the FIA and FOTA to introduce a number of initiatives – both to cut costs and to improve the show.

Some of the questions that will need attention soon are:

Cosworth engine supply ? Is it still necessary ? If the existing 5 teams can supply engines at an affordable price, why have another supplier who can only supply a 4-year engine that won’t be compliant with the current regulations ? Sounds like a waste of time and money.¬† I suspect the three new teams to switch to using engines from a FOTA team

Will Williams and Force India be un-suspended from FOTA ? What about Campos, Manor and USF1 will they join ? FOTA obviously has shown that it is a powerful association and those teams would benefit from being part of FOTA.

Given that the 2010 regs will be the same as the 2009 regs (with some cost cutting measures), will tyre blankets still be banned ? refuelling ?
It will be interesting to see what FOTA and the FIA will do about this. The ban on tyre blankets has been described as unsafe so that could be reversed. Refuelling is a cost cutting measure (both equipment and staff) but tyre changing pit stops will remain. Perhaps it is worth trying as it could spice up things.

Will we see some of the FOTA idea’s for improving the show ? FOTA issued a number of ideas that may now be considered. Ideas such as points for pole and fastest lap are worth considering.

And last but not least, will FOTA’s pledge to provide lower cost tickets and race on popular venues be satisfied ? This is probably the toughest one but if costs can be cut by 50% or even 80% surely tickets can become more affordable! As for venues, well they shouldn’t be chosen purely on how much the venue is willing to pay, it should be based on their established fan base and their facilities.

The relationship between the FIA President and FOTA could have been much better. Hopefully the new President and FOTA will work closer together and give the fans what they want – real racing
 

 

Here’s to a peaceful and exciting Formula One

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Enough damaging Formula One

The deadlines have past and the crisis is now heading to the courts. Formula One is in the headlines for the wrong reasons and the sponsors and the fans have had enough.

Max Mosley continues to treat everyone with no respect or regard – almost as they don’t exist – just to proceed with his agenda.

When FOTA requested an extension to the deadline so an agreement can be reached, Max refused – in the hope that FOTA would split – and was adamant that the deadline stands and an agreement can be reached after the fact (i.e on his terms!). When FOTA remained united and announced its intention to setup a new series, Max responded by delaying the announcement of the entry list for 2010 and proceeding with legal action against FOTA.

Max can’t find reason to delay in search for agreement but he can find reason to delay if he wants to go to court.¬† Why Mr. President ?

Max is calling some in FOTA as “loonies”, thinking that by throwing insults, he can achieve a result. Why Mr. President ?

Max claims that Formula One will die without new blood. What about the FIA Max ? No need for new blood there ?

Max keeps referring to ‘elements’ within FOTA in the hope to splitting it. This hasn’t worked before and given that the 2 teams currently leading the championship are non-manufacturer teams, FOTA won’t split

Max keeps singling out Ferrari and portrays them as the only team objecting to the changes. Why Mr. President are 7 other teams united with Ferrari if they are happy with your proposals ? What obligation do the other teams have to Ferrari ? None. Their obligation is to Formula One and they can see that it isn’t steered in the right direction.

Many fans at the British Grand Prix weekend are protesting against the actions of the FIA and are displaying Maxout banners on the track. Unfortunately you won’t see those on the coverage feed on TV. I will look for shots of those and display them.

Wouldn’t it be great if a few of the drivers can show a Maxout banner before the race or better still on the podium.

We need to use all the means possible to send a clear message to all the concerned parties (the FIA, FOM, the sponsors, the media) that the¬† fans have had enough and a solution must be found. Even if Max can control the FIA and World Motor Sport Council, it is the fans who make the sport and if the fans say that Max should go, then he should. This will ensure that a split won’t happen and that Formula One remains the pinnacle of motorsport.

Max decided to step down in 2004 only to change his mind. He vowed not to seek re-election this year yet he is now saying “What you can’t do is walk away from an organisation in the middle of a crisis”. Max, did anyone tell you that you are the root of this crisis.

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An update on Skype

I want to provide an update on my case with Skype.

I am still corresponding with a Skype contact provided to me by the Skype blogger (Peter) and the current status is that I have been offered a number of vouchers as compensation for the Skype error that caused me to lose some of the features of my unlimited world subscription however I continue getting the impression that the customer is always wrong unless he/she proves otherwise and that really isn’t acceptable.

I will provide full details including the correspondence on on this blog once this issue is closed.

A word of advice: If you are like me have a serious issue with Skype and you are not getting much of a response through Skype Support or the Skype Forums, try contacting the Skype blogger (Peter) – You can read his comment here as well as his contact details. Through Peter I was able to establish a reasonable level of communication with someone at Skype without the delaying tactics.

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What is the deal with Cosworth ?

One must question the FIA’s motives and the way it governs.

When reading the letter from the FIA to the FOTA teams¬†it¬†was surprising to read that “Cosworth have neither the time nor the resources to retune (their engines)¬†for 2010”. Oh really! So why are they allowed to supply engines then ? Why is the FIA allowing two different engine rules for 2010 when they insisted on engine homologation¬†? Why the extra costs when the aim is to cut costs ?

As for governance, in a letter to the FOTA teams back in December 2008, the FIA stated “We have completed the tendering process and are now in exclusive negotiations with Cosworth together with Xtrac and Ricardo Transmissions (XR) to supply a complete Formula One power train starting in 2010. The engine will be a current Formula One engine while the transmission will be state-of-the-art Formula One …”

The letter says that the engine will be a current Formula One engine. Is a 2006 spec Cosworth a current Formula One engine ?

Formula 1 already has 5 engine suppliers (Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, Renault and Toyota) and a 6th supplier (Honda) has engines that comply with the current rules. So why then is the FIA bringing in a supplier that is unable to provide engines that comply with the 2010 regulations ?

Is the FIA willing to go that far just so as to have an engine supplier outside of FOTA. Is this the way a regulatory body governs ?

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