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Alfonso Gómez-Arzola
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I’ve decided to bite the bullet. I’m switching my Google+ activity to my Apps account.

Please have patience with me as I export my Circles from this account and import them to the new account. This means you’ll see a notification that I’ve added you, and —if you fancy keeping me in your circles— you’ll want to take a minute to add this new account to your circles. Once you’ve done that, I recommend you remove the old account from your circles, to avoid sharing posts with that old account.

It’s a hassle, I know. I place the blame squarely on the almighty Google. To keep things easy to handle, though, I’m using two distinct profile pictures of me enjoying my favorite liquid substance in all of the world, my fuel, my precious. So: color photo/drinking coffee/giving you a nasty look = OLD ACCOUNT, while black & white photo/holding coffee mug/pondering my awesomeness = NEW ACCOUNT.

Let’s see how this goes…

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Intriguing trailer.
Random House UK has made a book trailer for +Hugh Howey's excellent WOOL series. Check it out.

This is how +Spotify lost my business — and, worst of all, my respect.

A few weeks ago, I decided I was ready to upgrade my then beloved Spotify account to Premium service. After months of putting up with the ads, it was clear that hours of uninterrupted access to almost ubiquitous music from a more than adequate and ever-expanding library was worth more to me than the $10/mo. price tag. That moment —with the excitement of things to come— was the high point of my experience with Spotify. Once I attempted to use my credit card, it was all decidedly downhill from there.

You see, I use +American Express for all my credit card purchases. (I only use Visa and MasterCard for debit cards.) Among other reasons, I’m loyal to AmEx because they are loyal to me as a customer. They went above and beyond to accomodate my stupidity when I mistakenly used the wrong checking account number to make a large payment towards my balance, even though the mixup resulted in payment coming in a week after the due date. No late fees, no stern letter with threats of objectionable credit reports. They even lifted the temporary hold that their system had automatically placed on my account following the bank’s refusal to honor payment. And all along the way, they treated me with respect and civility. “Hey, you’re only human. Mistakes happen to all of us,” said the customer rep., who by the way was the only person I needed to speak to in order to sort things out.

Needless to say, AmEx have a very loyal customer here, so I was more than elated to find that Spotify purports to accept my credit card of choice. Alas, this wasn’t really the case. As I attempted to add my credit card as a payment method, the Spotify website came back with a Decline error, suggesting that American Express had declined the transaction. I double-, triple-, and quadruple-checked all the information I entered; still the same Declined message. I contacted support, which sent me an email outlining the requirements a CC must fulfill in order to be used on Spotify, so I called AmEx to make sure my account met these requirements (it did). I wrote back to Spotify support with confirmation that everything was A-OK on the credit card front, and that’s when the experience started to get really unpleasant.

The details get a bit long and tiresome, but suffice it to say that Spotify support staff insisted over and over that the problem must be that AmEx is rejecting the £0.01 authorization they make on the account to confirm it is a valid account, even in light of multiple emails from me explaining that this is not the case (both because I use the card with other online services who make these authorizations, and because an AmEx rep. confirmed to me that tiny charges and authorizations like that are not automatically rejected). At one point, the AmEx rep. (during our third —and utterly unnecessary— service call) told me that at this point, the vendor’s course of action should be to contact the credit provider directly and sort the issue out, and not pester the customer with more inane back and forth that is clearly leading only to customer frustration (though he said it in non-snarky terms). Yet when I suggested to Spotify support staff that perhaps they could contact American Express directly, as the problem is clearly between them, they simply refused to do this. Which is odd, because one would expect that for Spotify to support AmEx payments, they must have a service contract with American Express. So why on Earth would they not want to contact their business partner to assist in getting my money into their pockets, I will never know.

Spotify support dedicated every minute of the experience to shifting blame to everything but their own service. They blamed the browser, the credit card company, and myself, and refused —in multiple occasions— to attempt anything that might resolve the issue on their end. Their only course of action was telling me repeatedly that I or my credit card company must be doing something wrong, while ignoring all evidence to the fact that the issue seems to originate in their payments interface. They even contradicted themselves repeatedly, even in the same email, by stating that AmEx must be declining the £0.01 charge, while also stating there was no record on their logs that any attempt was being made to add a card to my account. So which is it?

After searching and finding multiple people (here: are having the same issue (and, worse, finding that their claims are being met with the same ineptitude and refusal to acknowledge Spotify’s problem), I decided to check out the competition.

In the end, I chose +Rdio, who took my money —using my beloved American Express card— in less than one fucking minute. I’ve enjoyed their premium service for a bit now and am looking forward to eventually purchasing a Sonos music system with which to enjoy Rdio’s music library (something I was planning to do with my Spotify account). Spotify attempted to placate me by offering me a month’s free service, showing that they still don’t get it: I don’t want a free fucking piece of candy, I want to be able to pay for a premium music streaming service. Yet, Spotify could sort out this problem tomorrow and offer me three months —nay, a year! two years!!— free service, and I wouldn’t accept, because they have been disrespectful, lazy and disingenuous, and why would I ever want to give people like that my credit card information, let alone engage in a business relationship with them?

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For the love of all that is good and right in the world…


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G.K. Chesterton once observed that Rudyard Kipling, the great poet of British imperialism, suffered from a “lack of patriotism.” He explained: “He admires England, but he does not love her; for we admire things with reasons, but love them without reasons. He admires England because she is strong, not because she is English.”

In the same way, many Americans admire America for being strong, not for being American. For them America has to be “the greatest country on earth” in order to be worthy of their devotion. If it were only the 2nd-greatest, or the 19th-greatest, or, heaven forbid, “a 3rd-rate power,” it would be virtually worthless.

This is nationalism, not patriotism. Patriotism is like family love. You love your family just for being your family, not for being “the greatest family on earth” (whatever that might mean) or for being “better” than other families. You don’t feel threatened when other people love their families the same way. On the contrary, you respect their love, and you take comfort in knowing they respect yours. You don’t feel your family is enhanced by feuding with other families.

While patriotism is a form of affection, nationalism, it has often been said, is grounded in resentment and rivalry; it’s often defined by its enemies and traitors, real or supposed. It is militant by nature, and its typical style is belligerent. Patriotism, by contrast, is peaceful until forced to fight.

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Today I learned that the mythical Google+ migration tool (which is supposed to one day allow Google Apps users to seamlessly migrate their regular Google+ account to a Google Apps-based Google+ account) is not expected to also migrate content (posts, images, videos; see first comment by +Ronald Ho in the linked post below). As somebody mentioned further down in the post’s comment thread, if the only thing that migrates with the (as yet unavailable) tool is connections, I would rather have put up with re-circling my contacts way back when I only had a few contacts and I had little content to lose in the transition.

Now I have significantly more content to lose (most important to me are several old comment threads with insightful contributions by people other than myself) and more contacts to pester (they’ll all have to add the new account to their circles, and make sure to delete the old one to avoid confusion). Not to mention the scores of (mostly unremarkable, yet occasionally interesting) comments I’ve left on other people’s content, which would be left pointing to an account that will seem to have been abandoned.

I guess I’m stuck with this non-App account for Google+. First world problem? Of course. But an annoying one at that.

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After viewing +The Verge’s video review and skimming over the written review, I bought a Nexus 7. I look forward to my very first Android device.

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This issue is very important to me personally. Please sign this petition to tell that the stupidity needs to stop NOW!!

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“Officers should be advised not to threaten, intimidate, or otherwise discourage an individual from recording police officer enforcement activities or intentionally block or obstruct cameras or recording devices.”

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North Korea is unintentionally hilarious.
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