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How NOT To Do Business – A Worthless Class Action Suit

I was talking with some friends at work about all the stupid lawsuits we’ve seen which reminded me of the most worthless class action lawsuit I’ve ever been a part of.

Anyone remember Hollywood Video?  Yes, I know they still exist, for some people, but I stopped renting there a long time ago thanks to Redbox and NetflixHollywood Video had a Class Action Lawsuit brought against them back in 2004 for “additional rental charges” (read: excessive and incorrectly charged late fees).  I was one of the affected customers. 

The settlement stated the following:

“A nationwide settlement has been proposed in a class action lawsuit about additional rental charges at Hollywood Video stores. The settlement will ensure that at least $9,000,000 worth of certificates for free rentals at Hollywood Video stores will be issued and redeemed. The settlement resolves several lawsuits over charges for rentals not returned within the initial rental period at Hollywood Video stores.”

I remember finally getting an envelope in the mail with our “free rentals”.  I opened it up and started laughing.  It wasn’t a happy laugh and there wasn’t anything joyful about it.  In the envelope were a few COUPONS, not certificates.

They read as follows (paraphrased, because I don’t remember word for word):

“Rent One New Release, Get One New Release Rental FREE”

What a bunch of crap!  I think I still have them somewhere as a reminder of the levels of greed and idiocy a company can portray.  I wonder if there was ever a class action suit against the original class action suit settlement because I’m pretty sure that they issued that many forced to pay to get free rental(s), but they sure as hell didn’t have $9,000,000 worth redeemed.

Hollywood Video, if you are reading this, I’ll kindly take payment in the form of 6 months free service to Netflix and I’m pretty sure that every other person that took part in that settlement would as well.

Beta Testers Needed for MuvUnder Cover: The Album Art Sleuth

MuvEnum is looking for 20 beta testers for its latest product: MuvUnder Cover: The Album Art Sleuth, which is a Windows WPF application for automatically finding and embedding album art into the following file types: APE, ASF, FLAC, M4A, M4P, M4V, MP3, MP4, MPC, MPP, MP+, WMA, WMV, and WV.

Using Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), we’ve been able to create a unique experience that fits well within the “album cover” concept

To become a beta tester, please send an email that includes your system specifications (OS, CPU, RAM) to beta@muvenum.com requesting to be a part of the “MuvUnder Cover Beta Testing Team”.

Each active beta tester will receive a free copy of both MuvUnder Cover: The Album Art Sleuth and MuvAudio2.

Once we have 20 beta testers, testing will begin. We’ve ironed out a lot of issues with our current internal testing team and hope to have the beta last for only a few weeks.

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment and we’ll be sure to answer it

Here’s a quick sneak peek (user interface subject to change):

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Silverlight 2.0 will include a WatermarkedTextBox (a.k.a. InfoTextBox)

Since I’ve been trying to finish my latest project using WPF, Silverlight 2.0 excites me because I will be able to take a lot of stuff that I’ve done and learned and use it in Silverlight 2.0!  Scott Guthrie just posted a sneak peak into the latest offerings that will be coming in Beta 1 along with an 8 part tutorial taking you through the creation of a sample Digg app. 

In the 2nd part of the tutorial I noticed he included a “WatermarkedTextBox“.  This is an out-of-the-box (OOTB) control which basically adds the fancy faded text inside of a textbox that disappears when you start typing in it, to allow you to forego a label and minimize UI space needed.  In my current project I use the “InfoTextBox” provided by the WPF Bag O’ Tricks which does the same thing.  Having a control OOTB is always a nice thing, especially for those people that don’t know what the heck you would call this type of TextBox and therefore would never be able to find it using Google.

Silverlight 2.0 is definitely some cool stuff.  And for those of you that prefer something other than C# or VB, “Developers can write Silverlight applications using any .NET language (including VB, C#, JavaScript, IronPython and IronRuby”.

Don’t disable Vista UAC system-wide; disable Vista UAC per application

For those of us that find ourselves disabling Vista UAC for the whole system (points finger at self), we now have the ability to disable UAC per application. Thanks to Microsoft KB946932, here’s the solution:

Using the tool and steps below, you may disable UAC prompt for the specific application. This does not disable the User Acount Control feature for the whole computer.

1. Download and install the Application Compatibility Toolkit from this link:Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.0
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=24DA89E9-B581-47B0-B45E-492DD6DA2971&displaylang=en
(http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=24DA89E9-B581-47B0-B45E-492DD6DA2971&displaylang=en)

2. In the Start menu, locate the new folder. Find the shortcut icon for Compatibility Administrator. Right click it and clik Run as administrator.

3. In the left hand pane, right-click on the database under Custom Databases and select Create New, and select Application Fix.

4. Enter the name and other details of the application you want to alter behavior on and then browse to it to select it. Click Next.

5. Click Next until you are in the Compatibility Fixes screen. 6. On the Compatibility Fixes screen, find the item RunAsInvoker, and check it.7. Click Next and then Finish.8. Select File and Save As. Save the file as a filename.SDB type file in a directory you will easily find it.9. Copy the <filename>.sdb file to the Vista computer you want to alter the elevation prompt behavior on.

10. Click Start>All Programs>Accessories. Right click Command Prompt and click Run as administrator.

11. Run the command below:

sdbinst <path>\<filename>.sdb

For example, if you saved the .SDB file as abc.sdb in the c:\Windows folder, the command should be like this:

sdbinst  c:\windows\abc.sdb

It should prompt: Installation of <name> complete.

Now do this for each program that annoys the heck out of you with UAC and you should be good to go. This really helps if you share your computer with other users since UAC cannot be disabled on a per-user basis. You get to keep your kids safe (read, “protect them from destroying your computer”) and you get to keep your sanity!

Windows Vista x64 black screen after login, workaround

I’m currently using Vista x64 with a nVidia-based videocard with dual monitors and have run into the following issue:

 I work on my machine, then I lock it.  Later I come back and type my password to unlock it and I get to stare at black monitors with only the cursor showing.  Previously I would have shutdown the machine (power button does this gracefully) and then start it back up.

 Yesterday, I found a workaround while trying a bunch of different things, since I had a couple of Visual Studio 2008 instances open among other things:

  1. Lock your machine again (Windows Key + L) or (Alt+Ctl+Del, then L).  At this point, you still won’t be able to see anything, but your cursor should technically be in the password box for your login.
  2. Now, type your password, hit enter, and your desktop should come back they way it should have when you first unlocked it.

Update 04/04/08 – You may have to repeat these steps a couple of times to get it to work.

Annoying, but at least now I don’t have to restart my computer everytime I get the BSOD (Black Screens of Death).