July 10, 2010

Paypal Pending Balances

According to the PayPal user agreement:
10.7 Reserves. If you receive Purchase Payments, PayPal, in its sole discretion, may place a Reserve on funds held in your Premier or Business Account when PayPal believes there may be a high level of risk associated with your Account. If PayPal places a Reserve on funds in your Account, they will be shown as “pending” in your PayPal Balance. If your Account is subject to a Reserve, PayPal will provide you with notice specifying the terms of the Reserve. The terms may require that a certain percentage of the amounts received into your Account are held for a certain period of time, or that a certain amount of money is held in reserve, or anything else that PayPal determines is necessary to protect against the risk associated with your Account. PayPal may change the terms of the Reserve at any time by providing you with notice of the new terms. 
 What this doesn't say is that PayPal will also deny you the ability to earn interest on those funds while they are held in reserve.  Because Holden Web is organizing DjangoCon we currently have a substantial balance (which will soon disappear once the outgoing starts). So PayPal have decided that they can place $20,000 on reserve, thereby refusing me the right to earn interest on that money.

Naturally the "notice" I received just said that the funds were being held on reserve until further notice, and when I inquired about this the "explanation" I received didn't explain anything at all: it simply pointed me to the user agreement and suggested that I could find out what information they had used in the decision-making process by taking out a subpoena. Definitely not cool. In terms of customer service PayPal are scoring about 1 out of 10 here.

July 7, 2010

Death by Oracle

This is probably not an original idea. I am not one of those who complain about Oracle's acquisition, as a part of Sun Microsystems, of the MySQL mark and the associated software. Larry Ellison is plenty shrewd enough to make money out of open source - OK, maybe not as much as from proprietary, but when you are Larry Ellison you might figure you are getting close to enough anyway. Or maybe not.

But suppose someone evil in the Ellison empire were to decide to bury MySQL for ever, it strikes me that all they would have to do would be to bundle it under the Oracle installer. This gargantuan framework with basic Java look-and-feel and often totally inadequate error handling (disclaimer: I have little recent experience of Oracle, but I have used their products since 1986 or thereabouts and would be surprised if things had changed radically) would be quite enough to deter anyone who hadn't already forked over huge amounts of money for the software behind it. A free software release would simply not be worth the pain.

July 1, 2010

Progress, Of a Kind

Remember all the stuff that visionary management guru Peter Drucker was enthusing about in the 1980s - about how markets will appear and disappear, and collaborations will form to meet them and dissolve as the market disintegrates? Only after 30 years has the information technology industry been able to come  up with systems that stand some chance of meeting the requirements of such markets. Boy, are they enablers. Who wants to know what the vendor wants us to believe, when we can ask actual customers among our social networks?