Rip-off report

I started shopping for a network-attached storage device several days ago, after a hard-drive failure on my main home computer wiped out most of the stuff I’ve done in the last year. All of the major online retailers had basically the exact same price of $399, so I decided to buy it from Amazon. I’d done some of the research for which make and model I should buy on my Android phone, and the very day that my package arrived from Amazon, my Google Now showed me this:

I’d never heard of Mutin Store, but the price sounded right. I verified that it was actually the same product, then canceled and returned my Amazon purchase, and ordered the one from Mutin Store. Right after I placed the new order, I got an confirmation email, which said that they were getting the shipment ready and that they’d charge my credit card once they sent it out.

I didn’t think about it again for a couple of days, when I wondered if they’d emailed me a tracking number and when I’d get my package. I tried to log in on their site and they said they had no record of my account. That’s when I started to get suspicious. I looked online for any other reference to Mutin Store and found this Reddit thread from the same day, asking whether their super-cheap offer of Philips Hue lights was too good to be true. Of course, the redditors shot down that deal, and I knew right away that I wouldn’t be getting the NAS that I’d ordered from Mutin Store.

I checked my credit card statement online and found that they hadn’t charged anything yet. (I figure that their plan was to wait until their unfortunate victim completely forgot about the purchase, then a month or two later hit them with a fraudulent charge way higher than the inital order price.) Regardless, I canceled that credit card immediately, which has been a bit of an annoyance for my wife Sarah, since it’ll be about 10 days before our issuer Citi can get us a new card. I’ve also lost a couple of weeks of enjoying the original item I purchased, since I already sent it back, and the new one that I reordered from Amazon hasn’t yet arrived. Also, sometime in the last few days, the Mutin Store site has been taken down.

Now, I admit that I should have been suspicious from the get-go. Online store you’ve never heard of? Check. Prices that were less than half of the market value of the item? Check. I never should have put my credit card into that site. However, the pseudo-endorsement from Google gave the site an air of legitimacy and made me artificially confident. I would have thought that Google Now wouldn’t give me a price alert for a site that was an obvious rip-off. So the lesson learned is this: just because Google says that a site is offering an item at a good price, don’t automatically believe it.

Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 12th, 2017

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A free lunch

I'm off to hit 46 local merchants for free birthday goods and services.

Bart knows how to birthday.

I don’t get as many birthday freebies as Bart Simpson does, but I think that I’ve signed up for more than most people. It takes a special kind of shamelessness to show up to a restaurant and only order what you’re getting for free.

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on May 18th, 2016

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What’s so awesome about Sublime Text?



Sublime Text lives up to its name — working in this editor truly is sublime. Far better for me than Notepad++. Jeffrey Way of Nettuts+ has put together a great series of video tutorials that show you how to use all the power of this amazing application. But here’s the highlights from my perspective.


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Posted by Curtis Gibby on February 18th, 2013

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Like using a shotgun to kill a fly

For years, I’ve been using programs to replace small snippets of text in my programming. I type


and the program outputs

cd /var/replicate/Replicate/trunk/app

and hits enter for me. This is much faster than typing out the whole path (even with Bash tab completion), or password, or chunk of code (whatever I happen to have in that shortcut).

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on November 15th, 2012

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The Force flows through all things

Since my kids recently watched the Star Wars movies for the first time (in preparation for our family Halloween costumes this year), I’ve become acutely aware of its influence on our popular culture.  I’ll see some reference to the Force or to Darth Vader, and think, “Audrey would get that now, but she wouldn’t have understood it a month ago.”

Just how popular and pervasive is George Lucas’ epic sci-fi series?  I watched five TV shows just today that referred to it.

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on November 11th, 2012

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HTML5 form inputs in CakePHP 1.2

At work, we’re building out a mobile version of our replicated sites.  As anyone who’s used an iPhone or Android browser to fill out a web form knows… using an iPhone or Android browser to fill out a web form is really annoying, and it’s best to make things as user-friendly as possible.  That’s why I wanted to leverage the power of HTML5 form elements to minimize that annoyance.

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on July 28th, 2011

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The breakdown: WIRED magazine, June 2011

This year, I got a subscription to WIRED magazine for Christmas.  It’s been a couple of years since I had a magazine to read every month, and I noticed something this time around that seemed indicative of a wider change in the journalism industry: more ads.  It appeared that every other page in this magazine was advertising content rather than editorial content.  No longer was I the consumer and the magazine the product.  Instead, I was the product and advertisers were the consumers.

By the time the May issue came in the mail, I was annoyed enough that I started ripping the all-ad pages out of the magazine and complaining about it on Facebook: “Curtis Gibby just ripped out 10 of the first 16 pages in my new WIRED magazine because they were useless ads on both sides. Who says print journalism is dying?”  A couple of people took notice of my post, and I thought it would be interesting to expand on the subject when the June issue rolled around.

And now it’s time for a breakdown

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on June 3rd, 2011

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Tweaking Firefox tab colors, part 2 (The Firefox 4 edition)

Colored tabs in Firefox 4 - not very colored anymore
Just when I got used to my new tab colors described in my previous post, Firefox 4 was released and broke what I’d done.  I could still see a teeny difference between my green, yellow, and red tabs — a 2-pixel strip at the top of each of them.  But most of the tab was the default chrome — nice-looking, but not what I wanted.
So I started looking for a solution that would let me change the whole tab’s color in FF4, not just the top of the tab.  I downloaded Tab Mix Plus, which did work in Firefox 4, and reverse-engineered the CSS that it added to the page.  I found that it was adding a background-image to the tab’s CSS, like this:

background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(bottom,rgba(10%,10%,10%,.4) 1px,transparent 1px), -moz-linear-gradient(#a6dfa6,#8dd68d) !important;

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on March 31st, 2011

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Creating on-the-fly MP3 playlists on the NMT

I bought the excellent Popcorn Hour media server a couple of years ago, and I’ve always loved the job it does on my video files, especially with the equally fantastic YAMJ that rebuilds the video jukebox every time I get a new TV show or movie.

But I’ve never really gotten the NMT to play well with my audio files — it doesn’t handle standard playlist formats like .pls or .m3u, so you’re stuck playing one song at a time unless you can figure out its own insane .jsp playlist format. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Curtis Gibby on March 1st, 2011

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CSS woes at eBay

I don’t generally pay a ton of attention to web typography, but I must have it on my mind after building a new backend for our replicated sites.  I spotted this on an eBay order confirmation screen this morning:

Yes, that’s three different fonts for three different headers… on the same page.

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Posted by Curtis Gibby on January 14th, 2011

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