NCIX Declares Bankruptcy – My 15 Year Story of a 20 Year Journey For Netlink Computer

NCIX began as a typical player in the booming 1997 computer hardware era and quickly grew to rival and arguably best all competition in Canada as one of the largest computer hardware companies while other competitors went out of business in a segment many felt was unsustainable.

For me the story started around 2002 when I was still in post secondary at BCIT but as I began writing this I couldn’t help by deviate from back in 1997 when I was 13 and was excited to get my first computed which would be the one that would set me on the path to the IT industry from a very young age.

Going Off Track – My Computer History

I used to go to the famous area of Richmond on Bridgeport Road where all the computer stores were, of course there were areas in Broadway in Vancouver too.   My first computer that I remember proudly as a Pentium 75Mhz with 8MB of RAM and a large 1GB HDD made by IPC (a local Vancouver manufacturer) ironically from a place in Whiterock (they had the best deal I knew of at the time).  The second computer I owned came from this area of Richmond (the name of the retailer eludes me but I believe there is now a textile or paint supplier in the same building!).  In Richmond I remember Cici from Canada Computer aka cancomputer.com who went out of business around 2004-2005 (a different company than today’s Canada Computer which is ironically taking over most of the old leases from NCIX).  Canada Computer was always good to me so I shopped quite a bit there.

Back On Track

Getting back on track to 2002, I bought a few parts in Vancouver from a place called ATIC but then heard about NCIX, their price matching and friendly service.  I actually still have one of the first items an old 80GB IDE Hard Drive with an NCIX label from back then.

So essentially since 2002 I’ve been a customer of NCIX that has purchased a LOT of equipment from them and have probably built dozens of computers from them.  Their prices and service were great, albeit I knew they had the typical restocking fees that the oldschool retailers did (an accepted part of business since I’ve never needed to return anything because I always knew what I was buying and what I wanted).  My experiences were generally very good but I will comment on the few issues I had, around 2006 during boxing day I had to keep following up on some Optical Discs I had bought that weren’t delivered to me.  A few times I bought SATA cables from them and was shocked to find broken connectors in them, the staff at the Langley store was somewhat unpleasant at these exchanges insisting “these are all brand new”.   Now that I think about it, it could have just been left over molding from production especially since looking back at the cables they don’t seem to be of the highest quality for sure.  Fast forward to the last few years I noticed their prices have increased, they had less stock, things took longer to get, longer to ship and once I ordered an item online by mistake and told them right away (but they still shipped it and replied after I got the product and made no offer to resolve the issue).  Still, these weren’t deal breakers but I did notice as they expanded their retail front that the prices and service were slightly decreasing especially on my favorite site directcanada.com and two other similar sites they ran.

The sign of the end

One of their flagship stores in Aberdeen Center (Richmond BC) closed down and at that point I didn’t suspect much (a lot of stores close down there because the rent is super high).  But over the last 2 years or so I saw the decline of the Langley and Surrey store, the shelves were in disarray, there were few staff members and almost no stock on the floor (not an issue for me still) but I couldn’t help but say each time “are you guys closing?”.  I’ve never paid attention to the NCIX forums but happened to browse it when I placed my last order the other month (an order still not fulfilled and one I don’t believe will be with the amount of customers saying they’ve waited weeks or months for refunds for non-delivered products).  The Surrey store closed around Nov 18th suddenly just a few days after I picked up a few power supplies (at that point when I was in the store and was told they turned their phones off and that’s why no one answered my calls I was suspicious). I  saw a list of closures on the NCIX forums, saw a deleted thread on Redflagdeals about them going bankrupt (presumably and upsettingly because NCIX was a Sponsor of RFD).  However a more thorough search showed their other locations were up for lease and were being taken over by competitors such as Canada Computers.

Why Did They Go Under?

From what I’ve read and suspected initially is that the expansion with so many extra stores did it and I read further that management believed more in retail than online ultimately killed them, on top of internal and customer service issues, things compounded fast and it’s all spilling out on social media with disgruntled customers and ex-employees.  I’ve personally known a number of NCIX employees and they all had good things to say about their experience but this was in the pre-2012 days.

It appears cash flow issues related to the retail expansion and apparently a completely unsuccessful expansion into the US (full of complaints) is what brought it down.  The price and stock issues I believe were just a symptom of the larger issue of cash flow and losses due to unprofitable brick and mortar stores.

NCIX-Closing-Down-Bankrupt

NCIX-ComplaintsNCIX-Complaints1

Why Am I Upset?

I’ve been a loyal customer for over 15-years and right until the end the ownership of NCIX never made any announcement whatsoever, and to this day they are still taking orders and collecting money.

NCIX-Areeb-Yasir1

This is where I get upset and would say that I would never do business with any new company under that same ownership/management in the future.  It also seems this was completely avoidable if the management had heeded internal and external suggestions about improving and increasing the online shopping experience. My only complaint is that you couldn’t search by price or sort items by price.  Even with the bankruptcy I believe they could have continued to succeed and restructure by being online only or just a handful of very small stores for sales and online order pickups but at this stage with the amount of negative attention generated and my own situation I don’t think it could be successful.

The other part that is disappointing is that while I do suspect many complaints about the ownership to be true, there are also racial undertones to it which seem to stem from a time long before the complaints started.  And for that reason I do believe some claims may need to be taken with a grain of salt aside from the facts of the customer experience going horribly wrong in recent months and years.

Non-Existent Service in the CryptoCurrency Business Will Have Long-Term Impact

Right now the crypto market is red hot and like any market that’s so hot, company’s at the time often forget that customer service is for the long-term and that by not treating the customer right, eventually enough will move on.  Crypto company’s won’t be feeling the pinch right now, but once a downturn hits is where we will see this play out in my opinion.

I’m speaking from my own experience, frustration and concern here.

I have dealt with many different company’s and most of them will NEVER reply to you.  Even worse most of them don’t have a simple contact form, e-mail address, phone number or built-in support system (I guess in all fairness it’s like getting help from PayPal only a bit worse).

A sampling of random experiences and exercise in patience.

Coinbase

It took a long time to get “verified” enough to even make a purchase with their high fee system but it is a quick, expensive and easy way to get into crypto once you are verified.  However one thing I was unhappy with is that you cannot purchase directly to your own personal wallet (I don’t like leaving money in exchanges because of MtGox, Bitfinex and other hacking incidents where people lost real money).  All I ever got was an apologetic generic reply and nothing more.  If you’re having serious issues it is unlikely this company will ever help you so there is the real risk of their mistake or other problems costing you time and money.


Josie replied:

Gatehub

I sent them USD in order to exchange for some Ripple but without my permission they converted it into EUR so I lost money on the conversion and wire.  The reason I sent USD is because they said it was for USD and to top it off the bank was in Lithuania (a little scary to send to an unregulated market and does set off some alarm bells and concerns).  This is typical of the crypto industry and I do think it will come back to bite and haunt them.

I did ask Gatehub to make it right but never received any response after a number of weeks.  Even to verify my account it literally took a number of months to even get a response and to complete the process.  During these bullish times anything will fly because there are only so many alternatives but all bets are certainly off after that point.

Poloniex

Poloniex is one of the biggest exchanges out there but you can find complaints all over reddit of people not being able to verify their account for months.  I uploaded my information only to be sent through a third party verification process.  This required me to use a live webcam that perfectly captured the details of my ID live (who has a webcam these days let alone one that would get the crazy macro shot they require!).  The process told me the details weren’t clear enough, even the sending a selfie with your ID method was not supported.  And if you didn’t get it right at that moment or even if you had no webcam you can’t even try to verify yourself again for several hours.  Needless to say I’ve moved on and so have many others.

Kraken

I simply won’t trust them, initially I didn’t know who they were but somehow I was signed up without my knowledge or consent.  I kept getting so much spam from them I didn’t even realize they were any sort of legitimate company.  The fact that they essentially marketed themselves through spam and forcefully signing up clients makes me not trust them at all (even less than many other firms).

Coinmama

They aren’t cheap but I will give them this, they were quick with verification and when there are issues they reply usually within a number of days with an actual human response.

What Does This Add Up to?

Customer service in the crypto world is non-existent and so is the trust factor and reliability of many of the companies involved.

A very nervous and frustrating experience even for veterans and those who understand crypto, my level of trust in these companies is quite low.   They don’t even have phone numbers or addresses for the most part and those that do you can never get to a human usually.

When things work fine you shouldn’t have a need to contact these companies, but when there are issues it is very likely you will be ignored regardless of the issue, or any reply is not helpful or may come weeks or months too late.

 

The Best Purchase I Ever Felt Good About

I was looking for an old CPU on eBay and I had no idea that this seller was so highly involved in the community and helping to mentor and train people of different backgrounds.  This is definitely one of those “feel good” purchases that I won’t forget but when my CPU came with that piece of paper saying thank you and showing us more about what their firm is about I was very impressed and glad to support such a useful and noble cause.

Thanks and best wishes to the GoodWillRetech Team!

 

Two Of The Craziest Mining Rigs I’ve Found For Sale!

s-l1600

Unsecured Mining Rig Made With Plastic Piping!

I really can’t believe I’ve found people who have made mining rigs like these.  Imagine that these rigs on average cost minimum of a few thousand or more to build and they are selling these to hold your precious GPUs (Graphic Processing Unit Cards!).  The picture above is literally some kind of plastic piping which the cards sit on, there is absolutely nothing from stopping it from falling off by itself!

My favorite is the trend of people selling rigs made out of plain wood!

 

woods-l1600

As I think everyone knows wood is combustible and these GPUs make a lot of heat.  You would almost think it’s a joke but they are too for sale on eBay.  Now I give some of the sellers this, that the design is good looking and functional but why on earth would you risk a fire by using plain old wood from your local Home Depot?

There are other rigs I’ve seen that look like modified bread or shoe racks and even coffee tables.  They all have pros and cons but it really is downright scary that some of them are completely unsecured and a true fire hazard.  As a test I put some of my GPUs in a server rack and after just a few minutes the glass door and metal housing was actually quite warm to the touch.  Imagine prolonged use against wood or plastic that may melt?

 

Ethereum’s Issues Stem From the Basics

Ethereum is certainly #2 in the market capitalization only second to Bitcoin but it doesn’t mean it’s as easy to use.  In fact I suspect my recent experience is what is keeping it from rising, Ethereum makes me nervous and reluctant to use it everyday. As someone who has used the client’s/wallets for both I find Ethereum’s is cumbersome and at times impossible to use, thus preventing the user from using it to do any transactions at all.

Imagine if a simple eTransfer or Wire from your bank took over a week to initiate?  That’s way too long and beyond the purpose of the infamous but in practice non-realtime transactions in the cryptoworld.

I spent nearly a week syncing 4 months of blocks!

I needed to do a transaction in Ethereum and opened up my Ethereum Client which slowed my whole computer down and ultimately wouldn’t update past a certain point.

I consider myself an above average user who is good at troubleshooting issues.

I updated to the latest Ethereum client and that still didn’t fix it.

Some users suggest deleting the “chaindata” folder and that didn’t fix it.

Eventually I decided to do delete the whole “Ethereum Wallet” folder (never do this without backing up your keystore files safely).  Also be aware that this folder “Ethereum Wallet” is not where your keys/wallet data are stored.  In Linux they are stored in “~/.ethereum/keystore”which is very misleading when you have a “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” (which is not where your wallet data or keys are stored).  I stress this because I came across many who had sworn off the Ethereum Coin and team because of this confusion where they lost their keys and ultimately their investment and coins.

The solution was to delete “~/.config/Ethereum\ Wallet” but the fun didn’t stop there.  It was updating so slow through the missing blocks that it felt like I was mining the entire blockchaining (you could literally count 1 by 1 as it was processing or sometimes it would take minutes on a single block).  I’ve been able to sync the whole Bitcoin or Litecoin Blockchain more quickly and without or much impact on my computer.

I decided to switch the chaindata for Ethereum to SSD it did speed things up but not significantly and still took about a day to catch up and my computer still did slow down.

What I Learned About Ethereum

For all of its features I think the team is out of touch with getting the basics right first, as evidenced by the “Parity” fiasco where through no fault of the users people have essentially lost or have 160M worth of Ethereum coins frozen and lost presumably forever.  I have never seen this with another major coin.

Nor have I seen or experienced the confusion on basics of why their client is so complex.  Why does it use another program geth to sync the data?  Why are there so many different choices, fast sync (which didn’t help speed things up for me), a MIST client and so many different confusing and unnecessary choices and complexity?

I like how I can just download the Bitcoin client or Litecoin client and it works simply, there’s no guessing or confusion.

When it comes down to it, if someone with my background is having to troubleshoot and it slows me down from doing transactions, or I fear my coins could randomly be lost it doesn’t bold well for Ethereum’s future.  I don’t mind leaving other wallets running but Ethereum just takes too much computing with SSH so it’s not practical.  I will consider Ethereum a wise investment with some risks I’ve highlighted above but for any cryptocurrency to truly be accepted and successful it must be secure, fast, reliable and easy to use (something which most cryptocurrencies still fail at if not for the reason that you require the whole blockchain to keep your money in your own possession or have to rely on dangerous uninsured third party exchanges or services that are often hacked).

As we can see below this is not a sustainable practice for cryptocurrency going forward and I will be posting more about how I think the future of crypto will be significantly different than we currently see.

Screenshot-Ethereum Wallet-19

Bitcoin – I Don’t “Get It”

This may sound strange coming from a CEO who owns and uses Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency through multiple businesses that accept Bitcoin each day.   But I still really don’t understand Bitcoin on a practical level, the technical part is understandable but for how long will the current model of currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin work?  Do not get me wrong, I am long on crypto still but what that means in the coming years and decades is probably going to be vastly different than the current model of today.

What Is A Confirmation And Why Does It Take So Long?

What I’m referring to is when you send or receive currency there are varying opinions of what it means to actually “confirm” you have it.  But even before that people who have sent and received cryptocurrency know it is actually quite slow.  It can easily take a number of minutes and even after that point it is recommended you wait for a certain amount of confirmations.

It’s quite simple, these crypto networks with multiple nodes have to talk to each other, this takes time for them to all be in sync or agreeance with the blockchain.  Once that happens you get your first confirmation, however this can be a number of minutes and still doesn’t absolutely guarantee you have the money in your wallet.

The current system is nearly impossible to use as a daily transaction/banking experience.

I’m used to using cash, debit, credit or even services like PayPal.  It is all fairly instant (although sometimes it can take several seconds for debit or credit) but once the payment is approved and the merchant is notified instantly, they knew they have their money.  Imagine waiting for even a single confirmation for cryptocurrency while in line at a supermarket?

Why does the problem exist?

It’s quite simple, ironically it’s the one huge negative side effect of distributed, decentralized cryptocurrencies.   There are other drawbacks too such as what happens to banks if they are DOS’d but this hasn’t been a huge factor so far in crypto’s history.

What other risks exist?

My biggest fear is that in the future a powerful organization or entity may eventually be able to reverse engineer or find another way to attack the blockchain and algorithm of some cryptocurrencies.  This would essentially spell disaster, chaos and the end of that currency.  It would be the equivalent of the destruction or infiltration of a fiat currency’s central banking and distribution system.

One other issue with the blockchain

Everyone knows the safest way to hold crypto is with your own wallet because exchanges are routinely hacked and coins are stolen, it is more risky to keep your coins with a third party wallet (essentially the equivalent of an online crypto bank).  The problem lays with the issue at this moment that those deposits are not insured (although I believe Coinbase and a few others may have some insurance).  This may change in the future and exchanges and currencies that are insured will definitely rise above the rest.

What is the solution?

This may draw the ire of a lot of hardcore crypto users but there has got to be some sort of central authority, body or “top-tier” network similar to root DNS servers on the internet that can serve and validate transactions on the blockchain.  There must be some sort of physical organization between the nodes on the blockchain.

Is there a current solution to this problem?

Ripple/XRP solves this problem by essentially verifying transactions instantly and keeping all the currency in essentially an online global wallet (there is no such thing as paper wallet or traditional on your computer/device wallet).  The advantage is that you don’t have to store hundreds of gigabytes of blockchain data (and growing) like Bitcoin and other currencies.  Ripple has the benefit of also being endorsed by major financial institutions which is a first for digital crypto that I’m aware of.

I haven’t done further research but currencies like XRP I believe are the future, things can be done anyway technically and Bitcoin, Litecoin and similar blockchained coins can do this if they change some of their decentralized model.  I expect there will be more infighting and similar splits as the Bitcoin Cash that emerged from the Segwit update as the industry matures and expands.

Disclaimer

I hold positions in multiple cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Ripple and have given my true opinion of both in this article.

How to disable Google Fonts on your website

The problem check the source code by viewing your website.
Click “View Source”

Then click the link on any “.css” at the top or search for “googlefontapis.com”

In the .css file you can see this:

#before doing any of this backup your original .css

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

This is a problem and what stops your site from being viewed in China!  Since CSS files are usually called first before even displaying html this is why your users think the site is blocked or why you may falsely believe your site is blocked when it is simply the CSS font URL call that is causing it.

How to fix it:

For each Google Font Api download it as a file for example above manually entering this into your browser.
Or you can use this command in Linux:

wget https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800
Save the file as “compevo-google-css.css” or whatever you like:

Inside the file you will see the following:

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

#########

for each url download the font manually:

Based on the above I made a quick script to help:

for font in `cat cssgoogle.css|grep “.ttf”|cut -d “,” -f 3|awk ‘{print $1}’|sed s#url\(##g|sed s#\)##g`; do
wget –no-check-certificate $font
done

#will download all the fonts like below

https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf
https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf

#comment out the original

@import url(“https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,800”);

#add the following modified code to the top of the original css file:
Change the paths to suit where you downloaded these .ttf files:
#in general you are going to be searching and replacing “https://fonts.gstatic.com/s/opensans/v15/” with “/some/to/your/ttffonts”

@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: italic;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Italic’), local(‘OpenSans-Italic’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/xjAJXh38I15wypJXxuGMBp0EAVxt0G0biEntp43Qt6E.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 400;
src: local(‘Open Sans Regular’), local(‘OpenSans-Regular’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/cJZKeOuBrn4kERxqtaUH3aCWcynf_cDxXwCLxiixG1c.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 700;
src: local(‘Open Sans Bold’), local(‘OpenSans-Bold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/k3k702ZOKiLJc3WVjuplzInF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}
@font-face {
font-family: ‘Open Sans’;
font-style: normal;
font-weight: 800;
src: local(‘Open Sans ExtraBold’), local(‘OpenSans-ExtraBold’), url(/design-2017-zf/assets/css/EInbV5DfGHOiMmvb1Xr-honF5uFdDttMLvmWuJdhhgs.ttf) format(‘truetype’);
}

Issues with Buying from China

I’ve been buying things from China for years both in person and online and can tell you there are both very honest people, companies and also just as many if not more who are not honest. Herein lays what I believe is one of China’s biggest issue to sustainable cross-border e-Commerce in my opinion and experience.

One of the biggest issues still exists today on say Aliexpress, you want to buy a pair of pants for your kids or wife, or a carpet. They show you fantastic looking pictures and my wife asks if I think it’s a good idea. My answer is always “If the picture they show is really what you get and the other specs and sizes are correct then yes”. I’ve gone for an advid consumer to a skeptical one who tends to buy more locally or from more trusted sources and known brands for certain items.

The first time I remember encountering this was buying a nice Hello Kitty for my daughter. What we received had a completely different design and outfit. The seller as per normal from China “apologized and promised a discount next time”. This is what scares me about their business model. I replied and said they have to give us a discount now or there won’t be a next time. They broke my trust by sending the wrong item and then expected future business without making this issue right. This has happened enough times from eBay and Aliexpress that I rarely buy anything because the hassle of disputing and trying to get your money back is just not worth it especially since so many items are not as pictured or even the correct size or of horrible quality. You end saying for the time and hassle there are no savings there’s no point in ordering anything.

For example if I’m looking for a certain make and model and electronic and the seller is known to sell authentic goods then I have no issue buying it because I know I’ll get exactly what I expect and paid for with no hassle (usually……… more on this later). So this is how I’ve proceeded, generally with good luck knowing that there are fakes of almost every electronic, obviously some things are more or less likely to be faked.

The impetus for this article started when I first embarked on a journey to buy a popular Chinese phone the One Plus 5 with 8GB/128GB in September. I tried to buy it from GeekBuying ( a highly recommended site on internet forums ) only to be told that they won’t honor the price and randomly want more money. The amount they asked for actually became more than purchasing from other sellers at the time.

Here is what happened at GeekBuying and they refused to honor the price and then proceeded to offer a discount code that actually made items cost more.

Thank you for shopping at Geekbuying.
We are so sorry that the Oneplus 5 A5000 cost has increased. Really apologize about this embarrassment situation and we hope that you agree to make up the difference $25 and we can continue the shipment as soon as possible.
Please note that the extra difference is already with 20% discount which Geekbuying takes the partial responsibility.
Would you like us to send you the email link to pay 25$?
Looking forward to your early reply.
Inconvenience regretted.

Cecilia
Customer Service Representative
Geekbuying
www.geekbuying.com

Asking around on Reddit and searching showed this is a common practice at least with phones with Geekbuying. I had to open a PayPal dispute because they would not provide a refund when I asked for it.

GeekBuying.com Price Increase Scam from chinaphones

 

So what next – I tried GearBest.com

GearBest is also a highly recommended place to buy mentioned all over the internet so I paid $539.99 from there.  It has now been 34 days and I haven’t received the phone.  Attempts at getting answers from them just refer me to “check the tracking and wait” essentially even though their 22-25 business days period has now expired.  Some have accused GearBest of giving out fake tracking numbers and hoping people don’t follow up on their orders.  I think this may be possible, I was given a tracking number from Singapore Post, it shows an item arrived in Canada about 3 weeks ago but Canada Post has no record of it at all.  It’s really not normal for Singapore Post to take this long.  As a final resort I’ve opened a dispute with Paypal to which there has been no response for.  Fearing this is truly a scam I’ve shown everything to PayPal and am awaiting their decision and I truly hope their buying protection works.

I never imagined this would happen to me or that I’d receive nothing at all with a potentially fake tracking number.

Customer service from most of the sellers of I’ve had issues with in China has been either unresponsive, unhelpful or even rude.

So what now?

This experience has kind of been the tipping point of my opinion of dealing in ecommerce with Chinese sellers.  The level of trust, honesty and service is woefully lacking and I believe is a huge threat to China’s business going forward.  If these sellers want a long-term sustainable business they simply have to change their ways as buyers like me are completely turned off and moved away from buying items from China for fear of being scammed and the hassle and frustration that goes along with it.

A lot of the manufacturers do not seem to be interested in knowing that their so-called resellers or distributors are not being honest or fair.  In fact when complaining about issues from both to OnePlus and Vorke, neither company replied or commented at all.

This kind of practice is simply unsustainable and if people like me will no longer buy from China others will follow.  It’s only a matter of time before fake reviews, blog posts and forums will catch up with unscrupulous companies and it unfortunately taints the entire industry and hurts everyone.

I’ve learned my lesson I will definitely not buy from other websites unless someone I personally know can assure me their experience has been good.  I will continue to stick to eBay and Aliexpress but will continue to be careful and try to buy as little as possible.  Whenever possible I now favor a more local seller who I trust over an overseas seller.

China’s eCommerce is still maturing and to put it in perspective there was a time when eBay was full of scams too.  It takes time to get it right but hopefully this happens sooner than later.  As always in general, buyer beware of internet reviews and recommendations and this will continue to change the online marketing landscape and trust factor.

IoT (Internet of Things) Security Issues Increase

IoT (Internet of Things) is simply a fancy way of expressing that we have more devices online and connected to the internet than ever before when compared to my favorite tradition of Desktop PCs, Tablets and Phones. With the advent of embedded computing becoming more affordable, powerful and easier to develop than ever using tools like Raspberry Pi based on the ARM platform, this means we have a plethora of new devices and embedded, internet connected devices added to every day things we use.

Common examples of these are new cars, alarm systems, video cameras/surveillance systems, fridges, stoves, home locks, lights, watches, medical equipment and so much more.
The security issue with these devices is more challenging and complex than ever before for both the end user and businesses using them.

There is no doubt or anyone in denial that it’s an issue and the privacy, security and financial risks can be quite high. Security in general works on the basis of weakest link and it is arguable that a random internet connected device in your house or business poses an immense security risk with some of these devices having little to no security or out in the wild vulnerabilities.

These devices are certainly not impossible to secure, in fact the majority of them are easy to secure but it’s simply not the forefront or priority of most device makers or developers. Because of this devices are often completely unsecured and don’t even need to be hacked, sometimes they run a telnet,ssh or web daemon which can be accessed with no password or a dictionary password like admin/admin root/root or with just a username. There are others which cannot be easily updated which have vulnerabilities that end up being found later and exploited. Even more difficult some of these devices are physically inaccessible and installed in appliances and other devices where it can be harder to update them. A lot of companies would be reluctant to push out updates because often if the update failed it would render the device useless without physical intervention.

We can only hope standards emerge in the industry where updates will be easier, standard and guaranteed but this is unlikely to happen. Even with companies who use these products and recognize it is an issue there is only so much planning that can be done for devices that are not easily managed or accessible.

The only practical solution today is to try to firewall and physically isolate IoT devices where ever possible to reduce the risk (but for a lot of companies this is not easy or practical). At the end of the day more advanced network planning and management will be required and so will hardware firewalls play an ever increasing role in trying to prevent and detect attacks to these devices.

Trading Cryptocurrency Emotionally Is Good For Me and Bad For You!

With all the hype of cryptocurrency driving all of the coins it creates both opportunities and risks depending on where you’ve bought in and your emotional state.
Emotional buying is for example hearing Bitcoin has hit $6000 USD and then buying it worrying that it is your last chance. In reality buying into new highs doesn’t leave a lot of room for comfortable declines which is why I never buy new highs but patiently wait for a strong pullback. But we must always remember the famous proverbs of “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy”, “Be Greedy When Others Are Fearful”, “Sharp Rises Are Often Followed By Sharp Corrections”, “What Goes Up Must Come Down” which depending on the time period in general means manage risk, do not trade on emotion, and be prepared that markets can turn either way without warning or in a sudden bearish or bullish trend. If all goes wrong just remember “Buy Low, Sell High” of course as simple as these terms are very few of us actually do or achieve such simple sayings as the end result is often more complex based on a lack of discipline or abundance of emotion.

I fully agree with the many parties that say cryptocurrency is extremely risk, volatile and does trade like the stock market with even less safety and regulation. Therefore my approach is to treat such trading as extremely high risk stock investment with the goal of limiting risk and exposure.

In the case of Bitcoin if you look the chart for the past few years it has been extremely volatile and has had numerous crashes. A lot of people made a lot of money by holding and believing in the long-term value, but just as many lost huge amounts by panicking and selling off at the bottom. At the end of the day the best of us cannot always predict that we know the top or bottom of a market. Instead it is important to look at the fundamentals. Bitcoin is still #1 by market cap today, unless it were specifically banned around the world or the entire network or blockchain itself was compromised there’s no reason to panic based on this kind of emotion. I echo a similar sentiment when people rush to the markets when Bitcoin is the news when things are flying high is when you have the most risk. Before some of you think I’m suggesting to be a contrarian on a fundamental market I’m just saying you shouldn’t fight the trend or the market but be sensible. If you’ve made your own research or belief that a currency is in a bullish upswing then wait for an opportunity such as the “sharp correction” that has been the trend with large rises in cryptocurrency.

Stick to your plan unless the fundamentals have changed so unless Bitcoin has been banned around the world or the blockchain has been compromised or some other fundamental value of Bitcoin has been eroded it doesn’t make sense to dump it on a sharp decline (well it’s good for me and other holders) but for yourself it would probably disastrous.

I am mainly quoting Bitcoin but whenever I watch the charts of the top currencies by market cap I see a very similar trend usually, that often all currencies will be diving or climbing at the same time as a generalization.

The above strategy is only for coins that you have reason or proof have real value and long-term viability. If you have invested in a new ICO and could realize a large profit shortly after I would sell a large portion of that position and continue to hold. In that way you’ve maximized your profit and limited your risk exposure.

I’m going to give you an example of when I bought into some Litecoin. I noticed a sharp decline that eventually hit 5% Monday morning just after midnight and keep watching it. Once the market hit -5% and climbed to -4.5% I bought without regret even though I observed later on the day the decline hit as high as about -8-10%. Obviously buying lower would have been better but in recent trends I’ve seen fast recoveries I was happy with the likelihood that Litecoin would recover my 4.5% discount and more in a few days and it has currently risen to +5.89%. Not a bad spread for less than 24 hours! I think the key is not to be greedy and try to plan what the purpose is.

In my case I am watching some of the top 20 coins in market cap and looking for the chance to trade some Litecoins as they go up and some of the others decline to maximize profit and minimize risk.

Going back to the point of the article is that try not to be emotional when buying or selling, but know that everyone’s actions create an opportunity on either side.

Good luck to all of my fellow traders and please share your thoughts and strategies in the comments!

Disclaimer I am by no means giving out financial or trading advice and am simply giving my opinion, experience and rational for my personal decisions.