We wanted to purchase the Kindle book “None of My Business” by P.J. O’Rourke, but instead, Amazon sold us a vocal version. Huh??!! And we wanted to purchase the Kindle book “Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy Book 1)” but instead Amazon sent us (Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy Book 2)”.
It took us considerable time on the phone with Amazon’s Customer Service to straighten out these messes and get refunds. Shame on Amazon!
Anyone who has opened an account has run the gantlet of questions that are used in the event of entering its password incorrectly. (We deplore the use of passwords so when we are forced to create them we use some variation of “dumb idea” or “dongle” (a dongle is a small device able to be connected to and used with a computer, especially to allow access to wireless broadband or use of protected software).) In our case, we have had to provide the answers to such questions as “Who was your favorite elementary school teacher?”, “What was the model of your first car?”, or “What was your mother’s maiden name?” Most recently we had to provide several answers to such arcane questions that we laughed. Fortunately, this is such a widespread nuisance that it has resulted in some humorous suggestions.
It happens so often that it even has a name: “Wrap Rage”. But it isn’t funny. And the main culprit is plastic, which is frequently so strong that it requires a sharp knife and a lot of muscle. Sometimes the packaging is even stronger than the product inside. This situation is perfect for a visit to an emergency room, which these days likely is full of victims of the coronavirus. Frequently the culprit is clamshell packaging, which may be fine for protecting the product inside, but equally fine for injuring the purchaser.
In our earlier days we wrote the software. We, or one or more colleagues, tested it in a variety of ways to make sure that it did what we thought it should do. As time passed the software became more complicated, and the penalties of mistakes increased, so the testing had to become more complicated. In addition, an increasing number of malevolent hackers emerged, necessitating increasingly draconian measures to key them at bay. Even then, the size and complexity of code these days make it very difficult to cover all the possibilities. Fortunately there is a government body, the US National Security Agency, that was doing its mission appropriately.
The old adage “If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is”. That is, it’s NOT true. Crowdsourcing companies promise a lot more than they can deliver. Our previous post proved to be way too optimistic when we tried to get a couple of those companies to actually deliver those views. What we found was that some proxy servers MIGHT do so.
However, it seems that proxy servers are as much of a bag of snakes as crowdsourcing entities. We noted during our experiments with crowdsourcing companies that some of them proposed to use proxy servers, or actually did so, but they apparently did not succeed in adding more than a handful of views. That apparently was because YouTube is too clever, and they disqualified most of the views for a variety of reasons. For example, if the crowdsource operative used a proxy server located in a country other than his/her own (which they could tell if the visiting IP was from one country in one time zone but the time of the computer to which the IP was attached was set to a different time zone), YouTube disqualified those views.
The other challenge is that most proxy server folks want to be paid in Bitcoin. While you can use dollars or credit cards or gift cards at sites like Paxful, they can be pretty expensive.
The bottom line is that many owners of YouTube channels may find it too expensive and time-consuming to boost their view counts via crowdsourcing or proxy servers.
But apparently it is even worse than that. We heard a couple of days ago about one local company that not only hired a bunch of Indian H1B visa-holders, fired their American staff, and replaced them with these imported folks … after they were trained by the Americans. And this noxious practice has apparently been going on for some time, according to the Stateline folks at The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Three months of coder school is not much training compared with that of the better-trained—often in American universities—and more-experienced visa-holders. But why are these American universities welcoming these foreign students? It’s because those students come bearing big funds for their education. (At state universities, it is simply that the international students must pay the same (higher) prices as out-of-state American students.) We have heard that among some of these students it is said that PhD stands for “Parents have Dough”. Interestingly, those international students are more prone to cheat on their exams. Hmmm … does that mean that their future code will be less trustworthy than that of Americans?
We wonder why the big Silicon Valley tech companies have not done a better job on their own of training software engineers. Couldn’t they be hiring “junior” software engineers from the coder schools and boosting their capabilities with on-the-job training. We suspect one reason is that it is more expensive to do that than to hire foreign help. And more time-consuming. And another reason may be that they didn’t do a good job of forecasting their growth and concomitant demand for those software engineers. Maybe the current visa flap will motivate them.
But it may not be the fault of these companies. Americans may too lazy, or too afraid to be “uncool”, to study STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) courses so there is not enough local talent to fill the needs of Silicon Valley. Graduates with strong STEM knowledge are polar opposites to “art history majors” , a term used derogatorily to connote enjoyable-but-low-paying jobs.