Charles Schwab, Epic Fail

Written: January 5, 2019

I’ve been doing business with Charles Schwab as my IRA account for many years now, and they’ve done a fantastic job, until now. I wanted to make a transfer from Charles Schwab to my bank account, so on Thursday I sold a security, kind of expecting to have the cash ready to transfer on Friday, maybe Saturday the latest. To my complete shock the funds are not ready to transfer until Tuesday, huh?

I went online at schwab.com and used their convenient Chat feature to talk with a representative about how to get the cash from the security sale ready quicker, in order to transfer it to my bank, but they only reply that he had was, “Wait until Tuesday”.

In the past when I sold a security it seemed like I could transfer the cash to my bank account much quicker. The Chat support guy couldn’t really help me to get funds ready to transfer any quicker, so after the Chat session ended I tried their online survey, however look what happened when I submitted their survey:


To those of you who are not technical, this is an error condition when a user submits a form but the web server doesn’t know what to do with the form results. In a word, epic fail.

How in the world can a trusted company like Schwab have an online survey form that cannot be submitted? It’s almost like they really don’t want to hear any feedback in their survey, what a sad state to be in.

Of course, for a small fee, I could fix their broken online survey system in under an hour. Let’s hope that Schwab web support can be alerted to their online survey failure and get it fixed quickly. I did leave an email message for my local Schwab advisor telling him about my sad saga, so maybe this story will have a happier ending.

Frontier FIOS Tech Support was Right

Written: December 23, 2018

At my home office we use Frontier FIOS for Internet, what that means technically is that Frontier has routed a fiber optical cable to my curb, then up to my garage where there’s this white box mounted on the wall that converts the optical signal into Ethernet, aka the ONT box. For many years I was using an entry-level plan that offered download and upload speeds of 25/25 Mbps, although now when we have three devices streaming Netflix, and a few YouTube channels streaming that our network was getting quite sluggish. Simple problem to solve, just upgrade.

The folks at Frontier had a plan with speeds of 50/50 (Download/Upload) for only a few dollars more per month than my old, now obsolete 25/25 plan, so I upgraded. I’ve never used the Frontier-supplied WiFi router, instead opting for a Netgear Nighthawk router just because I read good things about that router online. For the 25/25 plan the Netgear Nighthawk router was just fine, however with the upgrade to the new 50/50 plan I noticed that the Netgear router had much slower upload speeds. At first that kind of bugged me, so I would contact tech support at Frontier and complain about the slow upload speeds, then they would do some magical “line refresh” and somehow my upload speeds neared 50 Mbps, but only for about 24 hours or so, then back down to a very slow 6 Mbps upload speed.

On Saturday we had a Frontier technician visit the home office and declare that, “all is well with our equipment, so it’s your Netgear router that is slow. Try this Arris router to see if it works faster.” I was really unconvinced that it was my Netgear router, so I did some Google research to find out how to make my router upload faster, trying a few things unsuccessfully:

Reluctantly I then swapped out the Netgear router and used the Frontier supplied Arris WiFi router. Wow, now I had 50/50 speeds with the new router, however the Arris router had no parental controls, which is something that I wanted to continue using for my network. A bit more Google search for Frontier-tested WiFi routers yielded an article that tested and recommended six different routers, so my eye was attracted to their recommendation on the Netgear R6700 router, because I knew that Netgear allowed me to filter content quite easily.

A quick look at Fry’s and Best Buy located similar model numbers to the Netgear R6700, and then to my delight I found a used R6700 on Craigslist and negotiated a price of just $60.00, sold. At home the router swap was pretty easy, because I was already familiar with how Netgear allows setup.

Netgear R6700

The new R6700 router did a firmware update, then I rebooted my computer and ran a speed test, showing me great 50/50 speeds:

Speedtest with Netgear R6700
Speedtest.net

Instead of paying Frontier a $10/month service fee for using their Arris WiFi router, I now own a $60.00 Netgear R6700 router that runs quite fast and supports content filtering. I also learned that Frontier tech support was right, it was my old Netgear Nighthawk router that was slowing my uploads way too much.

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How Quora Handled Their Data Breach

Written: December 3, 2018

Literally every week we read online about yet another data breach at a company that we trusted to protect our login credentials, name, address, phone number, and possibly our very sensitive credit card information. Today I received one of these “I’m sorry” email messages from a company called Quora, and they provide a place to raise and answer questions on any topic. I think that Quora did a decent job of alerting me, so I’m including their full email below:

Dear Daniel Payne,

We are writing to let you know that we recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to our systems by a malicious third party. We are very sorry for any concern or inconvenience this may cause. We are working rapidly to investigate the situation further and take the appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in the future.


What Happened
On Friday we discovered that some user data was compromised by a third party who gained unauthorized access to our systems. We’re still investigating the precise causes and in addition to the work being conducted by our internal security teams, we have retained a leading digital forensics and security firm to assist us. We have also notified law enforcement officials.


While the investigation is still ongoing, we have already taken steps to contain the incident, and our efforts to protect our users and prevent this type of incident from happening in the future are our top priority as a company.

What information was involved

The following information of yours may have been compromised:

  • Account and user information, e.g. name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization data
  • Public actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotes
  • Data imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)

    Questions and answers that were written anonymously are not affected by this breach as we do not store the identities of people who post anonymous content.

What we are doing
While our investigation continues, we’re taking additional steps to improve our security:

We’re in the process of notifying users whose data has been compromised.

Out of an abundance of caution, we are logging out all Quora users who may have been affected, and, if they use a password as their authentication method, we are invalidating their passwords.

We believe we’ve identified the root cause and taken steps to address the issue, although our investigation is ongoing and we’ll continue to make security improvements.

We will continue to work both internally and with our outside experts to gain a full understanding of what happened and take any further action as needed.


What you can do
We’ve included more detailed information about more specific questions you may have in our help center, which you can find here.


While the passwords were encrypted (hashed with a salt that varies for each user), it is generally a best practice not to reuse the same password across multiple services, and we recommend that people change their passwords if they are doing so.

Conclusion
It is our responsibility to make sure things like this don’t happen, and we failed to meet that responsibility. We recognize that in order to maintain user trust, we need to work very hard to make sure this does not happen again. There’s little hope of sharing and growing the world’s knowledge if those doing so cannot feel safe and secure, and cannot trust that their information will remain private. We are continuing to work very hard to remedy the situation, and we hope over time to prove that we are worthy of your trust.

The Quora Team

So, I was able to reset my password pretty quickly:

Then I could choose my new password:

I don’t like having my private data breached, but it looks like Quora spotted the trouble, communicated what I should do, and let me quickly change my password to regain a secure identity. Well done Quora.

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New Website for Local Author

Written: November 23, 2018

I first met Kathryn at a Tualatin Chamber of Commerce networking event and then helped develop a consulting business web site for her. Just recently the purpose of the site was changed to become an author site, so I created a totally new look and replaced all of the content. Here’s the new Home page:

KD Scott, home

It’s popular now to have your Home page use a banner image that fits the entire web browser width. The photograph in the banner helps to create a mood, then the opening text on top of the photograph has a READ MORE button as a compelling event for visitors to click.

Mobile browsing is always important, and this site is responsive and it looks great on a mobile device:

KD Scott, mobile

The Contact page lets a visitor fill out a form, then sends an email to the owner, all while protecting the identity of the owner email address. It’s a best practice on the web to never publish your email address, because that allows spammers to harvest your email name and quickly add it to their lists of un-wanted email messages.

KD Scott, contact

We used WordPress, so the owner can login and maintain their own site without always having to ask a web developer like me to make updates.


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