Is PayPal run by a bunch of monkeys?

Last week, I got locked out of my PayPal account "for security purposes." What this means is that I can no longer use my PayPal account until I go through a tedious verification process that will take up to 2 weeks. In the meantime, I can't buy anything with PayPal, and recurring transactions automatically fail.

PayPal's account verification process is senseless, and I will never use recurring PayPal payments for business transactions ever again (and you shouldn't either). Here's why:

PayPal's Account Verification Process

Why did this happen? I created a second PayPal account to use in testing an app. After creating the account, I transferred $1 from my regular PayPal account - you know, the one I've had open for 10 years. Well, this move triggered something at PayPal, and they limited my account. To get my account reinstated, here's what has to happen:

  1. Change my password
  2. Update my security questions
  3. Wait for verification of my location, by waiting 7-10 days for PayPal to send me a verification code IN THE MAIL. (PayPal has an alternate phone verification process, but they couldn't verify my location with that.)

Flaws in PayPal's Account Verification Process

Aside from the fact that I'm annoyed that my account got locked in the first place, I present several flaws in their current account verification process:

  1. If I'm a hacker who is logged into a PayPal account, how it changing my password going to solve anything?
  2. Also, if I'm a hacker, how is RESETTING my security questions going to help?! If anything, I should be challenged to ANSWER them, not reset them. This defeats the purpose of security questions.
  3. If I happened to be out of town for a while, or unable to check mail at the address on my PayPal account, I'd be screwed, since that's the only way to complete their verification process. What if my address were out of date?

Why I will never use recurring PayPal payments for business transactions ever again

You see, when PayPal decides to limit your account, any recurring transactions - you know, any payments that are processed monthly - straight up fail. You'd think if you had pre-existing recurring transactions, PayPal would run them, since they were set up before there was any "suspicious activity" on your account. Nope. Instead, several critical subscriptions for my business have now been cancelled. This includes my Springloops SVN subscription that I use to manage and check-in all of my code, a mission critical service for me (there were others, too). What a joke.

I thought it would be nice to use PayPal to manage recurring subscriptions when it's available, so I could manage recurring transactions all in one place. Instead, this little incident makes me realize that I can't even depend on PayPal for that. As if I didn't already hate PayPal enough, this puts the icing on the cake.

So the moral of the story is, if you run a business and charge recurring payments, don't even bother providing PayPal as an option. You and your customers will only end up getting screwed.

    Why the Verizon iPhone won't be any better than the AT&T iPhone (It's not the network)

    People across America are excited that Verizon Wireless is getting the iPhone. AT&T has been blamed for network problems that prevent current iPhone owners from being able to do just about anything on their wireless network, like making a phone call. But I'm not so sure Verizon will be all that better, and I blame the iPhone itself.

    I seriously think there's a fundamental problem with the iPhone itself, and how it is made.

    Let's face it, there's a reason cell phone makers have never built a cell phone with the same type of materials Apple has: reception problems. If you look closely, you'll realize that the majority of people who complain about AT&T's network problems have an iPhone. People with other types of phones don't complain nearly as much about getting dropped, or not being able to place a call altogether.

    When it comes to data speeds and connectivity, if you try to complete the same action on an iPhone as with any other smartphone (on the same network), there's a good chance the other phone will finish first. This happened to me the other day. I was with a buddy in downtown LA and went to check traffic on my iPhone with Google Maps. I couldn't get anything to load. (Same with my iPad, by the way.) Absolutely nothing. Zilch. He pulled out his Windows-powered Samsung Focus and Google Maps and traffic loaded instantly.

    For this reason, I am skeptical that the iPhone on Verizon will perform significantly better than its AT&T counterpart.

    I'm not saying AT&T doesn't have their issues. They do, and they have plenty. But I think Apple's problems are far worse than anyone would like to think.

    (This problem extends to other Apple products, as well. Anyone who has used a Mac laptop knows that the range on the internal wireless card is far inferior to other laptop makers due to the metal casing. And yet, somehow, Apple has managed to dodge blame for that as well. While Apple makes "pretty" products, their aesthetics come at a price.)

    I base my reasoning on my own hunch and experiences, and no published facts or statistics. I'd be interested in hearing what you think.

    Update: Here's more proof.


    I want to start this post by saying that I'm a fan of cops. I respect them greatly for what they do, and the police in my area are extremely fair and honest in their dealings with people who reciprocate respect. I've been called a snitch before. I've also helped solve a case or two with footage from my outdoor office security cameras.

    But when it comes to officers conducting speed traps, especially with cops on motorcycles, I hold a completely different opinion. Catching a speeder who is clearly driving reckless and endangering lives (or those who speed around schools) is one thing, but cops who hide out, waiting for a driver who is slightly over the speed limit is another thing. And that's what's been happening this week in Tustin, a quiet little town in the heart of Orange County.

    Yesterday I was driving to my office and received a citation from the "random taxation crew" (don't worry, mom, I wasn't driving any faster than you normally do). I wasn't driving recklessly - I was just doing my normal thing, as most people do (very few people actually drive the speed limit - they're absurdly slow for today's day and age). The only problem was, there weren't many people around, and I was a sitting duck.

    In the last 24 hours, I have seen at least 5 people get pulled over by motorcycle cops.

    If this were a normal routine - cops nabbing people all the time for speeding - it would be one thing. But they clearly have a campaign going on this week to ticket as many people as they can.

    My beef is with the lack of inconsistency. If you're not going to enforce something on a regular basis, don't bother enforcing it at all. Rather than stopping upstanding citizens who are going through their normal routine, why don't you go fight the real crime that happens all the time in the alleyways and dark corners of your jurisdiction?

    So to be a "good neighbor," I decided I'd hang a sign warning drivers of the upcoming speed trap.

    Who knows how long it will last, but if I can help one honest person avoid a ticket, it will have paid off.

    iPhone faux pas

    If you use a touchscreen phone, chances are you've sent a text message saying something you didn't intend to say, thanks to the sometimes overly ambitious auto-correct.

    Recently I've tweeted some iPhone auto-corrections that I've come across, and some friends have @ replied with ones they've encountered. Here are a few:

    psd --> LSD
    iOS --> UPS
    podcasting --> Piccadilly
    awwwwwwww --> seedeater
    swimmer --> Weinberg
    hahaha --> habanera

    But none of these beat the list published by in November. Check it out.

    The moral of the story is... always double-check your messages before sending, or your recipient might be a little confused.

    Have you encountered any strange or memorable auto-corrects? Share them in the comments!

    Wanted: English translator for Chinese electronics manufacturers

    One of the best parts of buying small electronics straight from China is the joy of trying to understand the product packaging. The words make sense, but they're never in the right order for the English language. It's like they use Google Translate to get their copy into English, rather than hiring an interpreter. 

    Here are a few shots off the box of a remote control helicopter I got for Christmas.

    And if you haven't seen them yet, last year I posted a few shots from the box for a remote control plane here that I think are even funnier.