Category Archives: Business

PayPal, I’d like to use my password manager

After news broke of the eBay security breach, I updated my account passwords for eBay and PayPal1.

With my trusty password manager, KeePassX, I cloned my current PayPal entry in preparation to generate a new password. To my horror, I saw the following password requirement pop–up:

Screenshot: PayPal change password screen

I’d like to use much more than 20 characters, and not be able to easily type my password. Kthxbai. :)


  1. PayPal is owned by eBay Inc. 
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We’ll do our best, but you can’t please everyone

I meant to post this insight from Marco Arment last year:

Some people will find things to complain about. [...] You will never please everyone. You will never win that battle.

We’ll do our best in customer support, yet it’s inevitable that we’ll interact someone who is extremely upset with us.

Our patience and grace can win their hearts over; I’ve seen it many times, and we usually post it internally to remind ourselves why we carry on. (We call them “hugs”.) After a follow–up response, the customer apologizes for their crankiness, grateful for our help.

That’s why we’re some of the best in the industry. :)

In unfortunate and rare circumstances, when they’re angry and continue to berate us, it’s super helpful to know that we can regroup with our coworkers internally, analyze the situation, and decide that we can’t win ‘em all.

“Can’t win ‘em all? What does that mean?”

Our replies to that particular person will no longer help, and we close the email. If they show a change of heart and send a follow–up reply, we’re happy to revisit.

For what it’s worth, I assure you we do as much as we can before we get to that point.

If this interests you, we’d love for you to work with us, especially since we always need Happiness Engineers. :)

Bryan Villarin

March 12, 2014

Considering I’m not actively promoting my photography, the Zenfolio email notification that I sold a print is a great way to end the day. Thank you, sir! You know who you are. :)

Don’t trust Amazon’s automotive part finder

Several months ago, I ordered a FRAM CF8392A Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter for Amy’s 2009 Toyota Corolla. Amazon’s part finder indicated that it would fit the car.

After checking FRAM’s official site, the correct one is the FRAM CF10285 Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter.

Sadly, I didn’t read the Amazon customer reviews for the CF8392A; at least one person left a comment that it would not fit a 2009 Corolla.

Another bummer — I can’t sell the brand new filter (which won’t fit our cars) on Amazon:

Please note: The item for which you have attempted to create a listing is a restricted item.

I’ll list the FRAM CF8392A Fresh Breeze Cabin Air Filter on eBay soon enough, but hopefully someone contacts me directly for it. :P

An excerpt from a cool post by Kelly Sutton, co–founder and CTO of LayerVault, on working remotely — my emphasis in bold:

Although many investors and founders poo-poo the idea of remote work, I’m convinced it can make a better company. A remote company is more resilient to internet downtime in the office, U.S. federal holidays, and more. Remote employees get to live their own lives on their own time, and produce better work as a result.

If you’re a founder and not hiring remote, you’re limiting your results.

My thoughts on NMX BlogWorld 2013

Brett Kelly and Bryan Villarin

Almost one month has passed and I’d say it’s a good time to share my meager notes of my experience at NMX BlogWorld 2013 in Las Vegas.

  • If you aren’t able to help a visitor with their super–specific question(s), give at least one takeaway so they don’t leave empty–handed. For example, someone’s blog was focused on browsing sites securely, and an Incognito window with Google Chrome was new to them. That was nifty.
  • For the most part, most attendees are shy. If someone glances in your direction, and they’re a few feet from your booth, introduce yourself or say “hello”. You never know.
  • WiFi will not work consistently.
  • Keep your laptop and phone charged.
  • Save a few relevant Twitter searches for the event/conference.
  • Bring business cards. I didn’t, and I won’t make that mistake again.
  • Carry a couple pens and pocket notebook.
  • After seeing a panel of speakers, open your notebook and write for 5–10 minutes about anything that comes to mind. Do the same thing at the end of the day. (This is also useful for everyday life.)

I also met Brett Kelly for the first time ever in real life and we took a photo. He’s super cool. (He spoke at “Productivity Power Panel: Learn the Tools, Tactics, & Workflows of Highly Productive Bloggers”, and I’ll post my notes from that separately.)

Overall, I had a great time working at the WordPress Happiness Bar in the exhibitors’ area with several other fine Automatticians, and I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future.

The MPAA studios hate us. [...] They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them. [...] They use our support to buy these laws.

The next SOPA by Marco Arment. A fine read, with major points everyone should ponder—myself included.

I just want ice cream (a review of Mother Moo Creamery)

I’ve visited Mother Moo Creamery in Sierra Madre twice. While each visit brought spoonfuls of goodness to my mouth, it was overshadowed with bouts of service inconsistency and mathematical error.

The first visit was good. I ordered two scoops (cinnamon and chocolate) and got a heaping bowl which seemed to contain four scoops. Awesome.

After I paid and received my change, I realized that the employee had only broken my $20 (two fives and one ten). I ate my ice cream inside and waited until the other customers left before informing her of the error and paying.

The kicker: she didn’t seem to realize what she did wrong, even after I explained.

My second visit was yesterday afternoon. A lone employee was cutting strawberries, and a few customers enjoyed their ice cream at the tables. My girlfriend ordered two scoops in a waffle cone, and she was charged $3.50. I ordered two scoops in a bowl (cup?), and was charged $3.50.

One (or two) scoops from Mother Moo Creamery

I glared at the tiny cup size, clarifying that I’d ordered two scoops (cinnamon and coffee chocolate). I could technically see two scoops, but we told her that a two scoop order in the past has been much bigger — big enough to fit in a paper bowl.

Nope. We were mistaken. The employee insisted their sizes were smaller than most places.

I stared at the paper menu on their wall, and noticed the “official” pricing of their products:

  • 1 scoop (with an tiny drawing of one scoop): $3.50
  • 2 scoops (with a tiny drawing of two scoops): $4.75
  • Waffle cone substitution: $1.00 extra

The employee seemed unfazed, so I gave her a five dollar bill, expecting 25 cents in change. But, I received $1.50 in change.

By her logic, I ordered one scoop?

My girlfriend should’ve been charged $5.75, and I should’ve been charged $4.75.

I shouldn’t be confused at an ice cream shop. If I’m compelled to write a blog post about your customer service, your employees need to be retrained on your item costs, serving sizes, and pricing.

I’m not complaining as a disgruntled customer, but as someone who wants your business to flourish. Since this business is still new, I’d rather give them a chance to make things right for future transactions. Consistency.

I want to enjoy ice cream, not argue about correct portion sizes and arithmetic errors.

Additional notes:

Give 'em the duds?

I took engagement photos for a couple a few weeks ago. We had a blast and they loved the photos. I knew they loved the photos because I let them chimp[1. Viewing photos on the back of my camera] a few times.

That was probably a bad move on my part.

While my contract doesn’t entitle them to get every single photo I took, they’re politely asking for all of them. You know, for posterity.

I already deleted a lot of the bad ones:

  • blurry
  • underexposed
  • duplicates
  • mid-blink or non-flattering photos

There’s a few left that I haven’t deleted, but I’d rank them between 1-2 out of 5. Not worthy.

I can’t think of an appropriate response or metaphor to help get my point across.

Wait, what’s your point?

Trust me, you don’t want all the photos. I don’t bat 1.000. Additionally, I wouldn’t want to be associated with those mediocre photos.

Any suggestions (for now or future encounters)?

Review: Kingston Technology ValueRAM warranty replacement

One of my two Kingston ValueRAM 2GB sticks seemed to be causing blue screens in Windows XP. After running with one stick of memory for almost a month, I concluded the other was defective.[1. I separately tested both sticks of memory with Memtest86+ 1.70 (via Ultimate Boot CD 4.11). But, the latest version of Memtest86+ is 4.00. I was five versions behind. Maybe if used that version, it might've definitively found errors. Oh well.]

I requested RMA service with the cross ship option (just for kicks).

Time line:

  • 3/22/2010 8:04 PM – Requested RMA number
  • 3/26/2010 1:33 PM – RMA request processed
  • 3/26/2010 4:34 PM – Memory shipped via UPS Ground from Anaheim
  • 3/29/2010 11:40 AM – Memory delivered

Summary:

  • It took three business days for my RMA request to be approved (the RMA page said it’d take two business days).
  • Kingston Technology shipped my memory locally, so that only took one business day.
  • I didn’t need proof of purchase/receipt since Kingston’s ValueRAM has a lifetime warranty.
  • The new memory stick is a bit shorter.

Other than the extra day waiting for my RMA request, the whole process was painless. If I went with standard replacement, it’d take a few more days waiting for them to receive my defective memory. I didn’t mind the temporary hold on my credit card.

I think it’s safe to say that you can be confident when buying Kingston Technology system memory.