Erasing Your Background

Listen up! This is required reading for all Crack Team agents. A sharp agent in the field1 has documented how to remove yourself from all background check web sites. This is your first step in erasing your background and living off the grid!

Actually, this only goes so far. An employee from one of the companies in that list offered the following informative comment:

All of this data is public data. The data itself isn’t going away, opting out just makes people who want to find it have to look a little harder. As an example, I live in Washington State. The state provides a site to search through public records. From here I can directly see my marriage license and the land I own.

What these sites do is take all of this publicly available information (address history, phone numbers, marriage records, death records, criminal history, etc…) and consolidates it. Some sites with more success then others. Often this data is quite vague, and it can be very difficult to actually tie a record back to a specific person. The amount and accuracy of data on these sites is dependent on how “active” you are to the public eye. Get married a lot, have multiple crimes, there’s a pretty good chance the data on you will be quite full. But if you have a fairly low public footprint (young and single with few addresses and no criminal record) the data my be somewhat spotty, especially if you have a fairly common name.

The common name thing is a bit of a problem for me. Looks like when it’s time to go underground to escape the bad guys, I’m changing my name to James Smith.

  1. Note this comes from someone with the handle LawyerCT. []

Canceling Netflix – And They Don’t Care

After over a decade of patronage, I am canceling my Netflix account. Yes, price is a factor – they are raising my subscription fee by 40%. But I have a pretty high tolerance for this sort of thing, already paying $20/month for Tivo,1 and keeping Netflix despite having a “free” streaming video source in Amazon Prime.

What irks me is that what attracted me to Netflix at first, and held me all these years, was how they catered to film buffs. This has ended. Example: for years, I’d rent the Harry Potter movies to prepare for the sequel, and really enjoyed watching all the extras. I’ll admit, I’m a huge Potter fan, so I appreciated that Netflix made available the extras disc. With great disappointment I discovered that for Deathly Hallows Part 1, only the rental version of the disc is offered. This version has only the movie and a personal invitation from Netflix to go fuck yourself. I’m kidding about the invitation – they couldn’t be bothered. I’ve been seeing an increase in these rental versions, which have zero extras, but tons of trailers and commercials that you can’t skip.2 The Deathly Hallows rental includes a 6 minute commercial for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I can tell you that if you’re on the fence about visiting that wondrous place, being forced to watch a 6 minute commercial may resolve you to boycott it.

And I’m not being melodramatic when I say they don’t care. For one, their subscriber base has gone from 10M to 25M in the last few years, so they assume they’re doing the right thing. If you want concrete proof, go to their cancellation page. They threaten to charge you for discs you don’t return within 7 days, and let you know that even though you’re paid up through the month, you won’t get a partial month refund or even be allowed to continue streaming until it expires! But the most callous part is that they don’t even ask you why. No short answer box, not so much as a multiple choice question with lame answers. And there’s no other form on the site for critical feedback. They really don’t care why you’re leaving.

Well, good riddance. In place of Netflix, I’ll start renting from Amazon or PPV, and even though it will cost me more, I’ll make a greater effort to see films in the theater.3 With the money I save, I’ll invest in a nice collection of films on BD, which I frequently find on sale at SlickDeals. I think I’ll start with the Harry Potter Ultimate editions…

Update: I’m not the only one, as Netflix has revised their projections for this quarter downward, causing their stock to tumble. Sounds like they already factored in the massive subscriber exodus, which proves my point that they don’t care about it.

  1. Although now that I’m on Cox cable, that will also be canceled when my contract is up. []
  2. Well, you can with some software, which you can read about here. []
  3. Note that all major theater chains allow you to buy premium discount tickets in bulk (50+), typically for less than $9 each. I go in with friends and split it. []

Has Someone Stolen Your Light?

Roger Ebert has been railing against 3D movies because, amongst other things, you’re only getting half the light on the screen. And in some situations, it can be 85% darker. Now he’s discovered that it’s bleeding over into 2D films as well. The primary culprit is Sony (big surprise), who has built a popular 3D-ready digital projector with an interchangeable lens system.1 You have to change the lens to go from 2D to 3D and vice versa, and thy have made this a complex process that requires more skill than your average projectionist has. It’s so complex and time consuming that even Sony Studios didn’t remove it for an industry screening of The Social Network in their flagship auditorium. But either way, what ends up happening is that they put he light-reducing 3D lens on, and then leave it on for 2D pictures! At the end of his article, he quotes Mike Humphries of Geek.com, who shares how you can tell if you’re getting screwed:

  • The title of the movie listed by the theater will have a “D” after it if it is being shown on a digital projector (Note: Fandango will write “digital projection” to make it clear.)
  • If you are in a D movie, look at the projector window when seated. If you see two stacked beams of light it is a Sony projector with the 3D lens still on.
  • A single beam of light means no 3D lens, or a different make of projector that doesn’t have the issue
  • If you see the two beams, then get up and go complain. You paid good money to see the movie, so make a fuss until they either give you back that money or remove the lens. Seeing as that’s an involved and time-consuming process, expect a refund.

I realize most won’t leave, but it’s good to know. I used to lean toward the showing with the digital projector, but now I’m going to think twice and try to find out which of my local theaters have the Sony’s and are too cheap to properly configure them between shows.

  1. As some commented there, you can have a single lens 3D system with a filter, but apparently it’s much easier to raise and lower that filter than it is to change the lens on a Sony. []

D&D Online Now Free

While I’m doing my best to avoid even casual video games, I recently discovered that the D&D MMORPG is now free. Apparently, they make money by selling optional equipment, characters, etc.. It sounds like they’re allowing you to pay cash for game gold, which of course you also earn in game. It’s 3.5 based, so all that knowledge (assuming you haven’t forgotten it all after moving to 4.0) won’t go to waste.

The best part is that by selling directly to gamers, it should cut down on Chinese prisoner gold miners. I know Blizzard is too greedy to cut off China, home to an estimated 80% of their gold farmers, but you’d think by now they’d set up servers for US only players, verified by credit card ZIP code and IP (with no proxies allowed). I hear it’s gotten so bad you need an addon to strip out the gold adverts in the chat stream…

This is not Lords of Acid (or even Praga Khan), but it’s the first new thing in years to make me think of them. Clearly they influenced the remix. The good news is that LOA is supposed to release a new album this year. The bad news is that you probably missed their March tour with My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

Richard Vission & Static Revenger – I Like That (Adam F Dubstep Remix)

The most famous covert organization in the world.