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So, am I Naïve or is there a scam going on that NOT everyone knows about yet?

My son has a phone with him, he receives text messages and ignores them, possibly deletes them.  End of the month, I see $50 in charges for I don’t know what.  I call VW and ask for an explanation, not knowing what it was about and assumed my kids did something wrong that I’ll be responsible for.  Apparently, no, they didn’t even need to be involved for someone to enter MY cell phone number on a web site and for one of my phones to start receiving “Premium Services”.  Please check them out but DON’T give them any information.  This is a scam.  Consider this fair warning.

So, whether or not this can be proven, and it can, a few of the sites clearly state text STOP and they will stop billing you for the AUTOMATICALLY renewing monthly charges then get “conveniently” billed to you cell phone.  And, you can get a refund within 30 (or some number of) days after “signing up.”  I was told by VERIZON WIRELESS who was billing me through them, how it was started, how to stop it via texting STOP to the culprits, what web sites were involved and even phone numbers.  I was also told to BLOCK “Premium Services” right after I STOP and verify the STOP took place.

OK, before going too far I needed to get my hands on the cell phone, send STOP to 5 different services, and 2 used the same code.  Then BLOCK all Services that weren’t specifically required.  I can block texting, “Premium Services”, ringtone downloads, etc. but of course I never thought some of these services existed nor would I want them but they are ALLOWED by default apparently.

This is where it gets ugly…

I thought I would be able to rectify by asking my son why he did this AND by calling support for these web sites.  First, he said he never heard of the sites and never accepted any charges.  OK, so I believe him.  If I don’t believe him, at least I know he doesn’t want the services since he certainly doesn’t want to pay for them  So now I call the number on one site and get put on hold for 20 minutes before the automated service finally asks me to leave a bunch of information and they will eventually return my call.  Not happening.  Next number, “We don’t handle service for those companies any longer.”  But, I can give you a number to call and I can even alert all of the other companies that we DON’T support so they can make proper arrangements.  Great, but still nothing solid.  No more phone numbers to call since no one answered.  So then I sent e-mail to each of these companies explaining that the charges were fraudulent and not accepted by me or anyone with authority to do so.  One sent me a reply that I would receive a refund within 3 weeks.  Again, not good enough.  One sent a response that they are aware of the issue and gave me what appears to be a service ticket market Priority: Medium.

Final play

So when I call Verizon Wireless to let them know we’ve been scammed, the response was less than satisfying.  I was told to pay the $50 in FRAUDULENT fees because VW already paid the vendors.  Oops, their bad.  So I ended with a monthly bill about $50 out of whack that won’t get paid.  I explained that I won’t pay and that they can send me a new bill or turn off my service, but they won’t get another dime for their own mistake.  This long conversation brought me to a wall quickly with no alternatives.  No name, no Manager, no resolution, no new bill, no dropped FRAUDULENT charges, no resolution whatsoever.

Have you ever heard of a credit card company doing this???  I don’t use my cell phone as a credit card.  Yes browsing, yes e-mail, yes phone calls, and sometimes, rarely for SMS Text messages.

Are there any good lawyers out there who need something to do?  Trust me, I’m not interested in the money.  I would like to keep mine, pay what I owe, and would have enjoyed my free or work time back, but I would just like VW to learn from there mistakes and make this right.

Now for the culprits and what to avoid:

Don’t visit any of these sites if you can avoid them.  They are all a scam:

NameURLNotes:
SOLOWwww.solow.com 
Deal or No Dealdealornodealchallenge.comMUTE before you visit
mobile funstermobilefunster.com 
Mobile horoscopeswww.themobilehoroscopes.com 

 

Also, look for the MyServices section of your Verizon Wireless account:

Under “I Want To…”  Go to PLAN, then Change Features.  Way down at the bottom select “Service Blocks

It’s all self-explanatory, but ask VW if you don’t know what these mean.  Following this suggestion could save you $$$ and lots of time and aggravation.  If someone can comment on other Fraudulent Sites or how to avoid these scams through other mobile carriers, please do so.

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Current Multi-blog enabling LINQ to SQL BlogEngine.NET Provider. (Updated 3/12/10)

I have been asked for this code so that we can share the multi-blog solution that has been working for me for almost a year now.  This is the time to check it out and help make it work for yourself and others.  I’m going to continue to “dog food” this here.  Current version of BlogEngine.NET supported by this provider, as of this post, is 1.6.0.3.  Although I need to update my own site(s) from 1.6.0.1.

 

How will I update?

Mine is easy.  Drop in the new DLLs.

If I do a code “diff” and find the Web code to have changed recently (which I’m sure it did) I will copy those specific files to the Web folder.

 

How do you update from a cleanBlogEngine.NET 1.6.0.3code base?
  1. You should download the latest BE.NET code from codeplex and create a folder for the solution. 
  2. Extract the code from the zip into your solution folder. (…and follow the directions for setting up a stand-alone SQL Server Blog)
  3. Copy and unzip the BlogEngine.Linq2SQL.3-12-10.zip folder into the solution folder with the Core and Web projects.
  4. Add an existing Project to the solution, select the BlogEngine.Linq2Sql project.
  5. Verify the References (to project “BlogEngine.Core”)
  6. Add a reference to “BlogEngine.Linq2SQL” from the “BlogEngine.NET” Web site.
  7. Change Target Framework on BlogEngine.NET Web site to “.NET Framework 3.5
  8. Execute the SQL build script “Linq2SqlUpdate.sql” to add schema to support Multi-Blogs.
    • Make sure to run against the Database you created in Step 2.
  9. Assuming you are using the correct connection string, modify the Web.Config
    • blogProvider, membership, roleManager
    • See: Web.Config.xml

For those who like pictures to verify what you’re doing, here are a couple.  I’d rather have an installer but I’m not quite there yet.

Step 3:

Step3

Step 4:

Step4a Step4b Step4c

Step 5:

Step5

Step 6:

Step6 Step6b

Step 7:

Step7

Step 9:

1: <BlogEngine>
2: <blogProvider defaultProvider="Linq2SqlBlogProvider">
3: <providers>
4: <add name="Linq2SqlBlogProvider" type="BlogEngine.Linq2SQL.Linq2SqlBlogProvider, BlogEngine.Linq2SQL" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
5: <add name="XmlBlogProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.XmlBlogProvider, BlogEngine.Core"/>
6: <add name="DbBlogProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.DbBlogProvider, BlogEngine.Core" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
7: </providers>
8: </blogProvider>
9: </BlogEngine>
10:
11:
12: <membership defaultProvider="LinqMembershipProvider">
13: <providers>
14: <clear/>
15: <add name="LinqMembershipProvider" type="BlogEngine.Linq2SQL.LinqMembershipProvider, BlogEngine.Linq2SQL" passwordFormat="Hashed" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
16: <add name="XmlMembershipProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.XmlMembershipProvider, BlogEngine.Core" description="XML membership provider" passwordFormat="Hashed"/>
17: <add name="SqlMembershipProvider" type="System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider" connectionStringName="BlogEngine" applicationName="BlogEngine"/>
18: <add name="DbMembershipProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.DbMembershipProvider, BlogEngine.Core" passwordFormat="Hashed" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
19: </providers>
20: </membership>
21: <roleManager defaultProvider="LinqRoleProvider" enabled="true" cacheRolesInCookie="true" cookieName=".BLOGENGINEROLES">
22: <providers>
23: <clear/>
24: <add name="LinqRoleProvider" type="BlogEngine.Linq2SQL.LinqRoleProvider, BlogEngine.Linq2SQL" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
25: <add name="XmlRoleProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.XmlRoleProvider, BlogEngine.Core" description="XML role provider"/>
26: <add name="SqlRoleProvider" type="System.Web.Security.SqlRoleProvider" connectionStringName="BlogEngine" applicationName="BlogEngine"/>
27: <add name="DbRoleProvider" type="BlogEngine.Core.Providers.DbRoleProvider, BlogEngine.Core" connectionStringName="BlogEngine"/>
28: </providers>
29: </roleManager>

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But why is it now different from BlogEngine.NET 1.5.1.46?

I downloaded it yesterday and Diffed to find out what I need to change to keep up…and it was the “version number.”

So, I guess keeping up with several code changes over the past few months and making sure my version of the Multi-blog capable SqlBlogProvider was in tune paid off, only to realize I’m still one of the very few to implement such a “clean” version of multiblog BlogEngine.NET.  I’ve been working on an Entity Framework provider since this could replace or certainly enhance the capabilities of BlogEngine, but it may really be just another stepping stone to work out a new architecture to support BlogEngine-Like capabilities for .NET 4.0 and IIS 7 using MVC, Entity Framework and perhaps WCF for integration and remote administration capabilities.

At least I’m learning a lot about Open Source capabilities and limitations. Does anyone want to legitimately tackle a Next Gen BlogEngine with me?  Of course, I would not want to steal the branding created here unless there is a parallel effort to create a distinctly separate single Blog, Multi-user system such as BlogEngine.NET and a more scalable, database centric, multi-blog, real-time administration console application.

Design first, Agile methodology, Eat-your-own-dog-food approach with lots of prototyping.

Or I could just use BeerHouse or DotNetNuke, I guess.  Need to go get some additional experience.

 

See Y’all l8r,

Dave (BizTron)

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A few widget improvements

As commented on by BenAmada:

 

I think it would be more ideal to create a new widget that does what you're looking for -- rather than modify the TextBox widget.  Others have asked to be able to output Google AdSense code or other pieces of Raw HTML into widgets.  It never works very well with the TextBox widget.

A new, very simple widget could be created that has a multi-line textbox in it (not tinyMce), and raw HTML would be pasted into the textbox.  I know this widget would be perfect for the AdSense and other Ad people, and sounds like it might fit what you're looking for too.

LiteralWidgetClipHere is a quick Literal Widget created on suggestion since it helps me with one of my own issues.

Thanks “BenAmanda”

 

Widget:

Please try this and let me know if you have made any improvements.  It’s simple and not tested extensively and came right out of the TextBox widget, but without tinyMce and simple required mods.