Firmly Entrenched in Microsoft Trap

Firmly Entrenched in Microsoft Trap

Microsoft is automatically checking computers for valid windows. It is done by means of a Windows update for Windows 7 (update KB971033). If you check your windows updates on your computer, you can see if you installed this update. If you’ve chosen automatic updates, this file will be on your computer. Then if your windows software is suspect, an automatic notification is sent to Microsoft, your screen turns black and a message appears on your computer screen – bottom right. If you are conscientious or curious you may be inclined to click on the icon you see in your toolbar. That’s the bait to get you to buy another edition of Windows. Don’t do it! Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you! If you proceed, you cannot cancel the order! You will be stuck with a very expensive edition of Windows.

 What you Can Do:

If you are positive that your present windows edition is genuine, you have your original software, and you know or can find your product key sticker (on your computer); then backup your computer, do a clean boot (if you are not familiar with this, you can find instructions online), reinstall your windows, and activate by entering your product key (be sure you type it exactly). The message will disappear and all will be well. If you don’t have Windows software, buy from a local store.

 What I Did and the Consequences:

I proceeded with “getting genuine online”, through, thinking I was safely ordering from Microsoft Store. Not the case! I contacted customer service within 24 hours requesting cancellation of the order. The customer service agent took down all information, told me there is no record of the order at Microsoft Store, and gave me a reference number. Since then, Microsoft has emailed me the product code and the invoice, I’ve received the kit, and my credit card has been charged. Everything indicates it was a Microsoft purchase, even the address it was shipped from. I’ve called every customer service number on the Microsoft and Windows website, spoken to agents from all over, including a supervisor, and nobody can find the order in the system. I have to compliment the customer service agents here. Although I called dozens of times, I was never put on hold for a long period of time and they all tried their best to help. I praise their cordial, friendly service and I understand that they are confined to working within the constraints of the authority they are given. I am upset at Microsoft not at them. I cannot return the package as I cannot get a RMA number (return authorization) and my request to cancel means nothing.

 I could ask my credit card company to dispute the charge but I’ve decided not to proceed. I received the product I ordered and I will bite the bullet, pay the bill, and accept responsibility for my own actions. This blog is my expression of how I feel about this particular issue and hopefully to warn anyone else who could get caught in this Microsoft trap. Now, I’m tired of this whole thing and I am putting it to rest so I can get on with things that are much more important.  

Don’t be tricked by Microsoft into buying into “getting genuine” online

Recently, my computer screen went black and a message appeared in the lower right corner “you may be the victim of software counterfeiting”. It puzzled me as I had never seen this before and I wondered if it could possibly be a virus. After a lot of searching on the internet, I discovered that Microsoft had a “Windows genuine advantage” program, now renamed “Windows Activation Technology” and the message on my computer was this new technology at work.

Okay, I thought, not a virus. I’ll “get genuine now” by clicking on the link provided. That way, I thought, I won’t lose anything on my computer as I’ll be provided a download that will fix the error. That was my first mistake! Thinking I was dealing with Microsoft Store (afterall it was Microsoft’s program), I completed a purchase request for Windows 7 Home edition. To my surprise, I was advised that the product would be shipped to my address. I realized that meant a clean install and I would lose all my files anyway.

Almost immediately, I telephoned the Microsoft customer service number and advised the customer service representative that I was cancelling the order. She could not find any record of my order on their system so she gave me a reference number and advised me to call back when the charge appeared on my credit card statement. Thus began a long saga of telephone calls to ALL the customer support numbers, including the WGA number on my invoice. There is still no record of my order!

The get genuine package was shipped to me! I haven’t used the software. I  don’t need it, I don’t want it, but I’m stuck with it. Everything I’ve received i.e. the invoice, the email confirmation of the order with the product key, the shipped package and my credit card bill, all indicate that it’s from The package was even shipped from the Microsoft warehouse in Ohio. I an unable to return it as I need a return authorization number to do that. I am told by all the numbers I called that this is not possible when there is no order in the system.  There are no other numbers that I can call to to contact the vendor (if indeed it wasn’t Microsoft store).  I’ve reached an impasse and my next step will be to file a dispute with my credit card company.

You may wonder what I did to fix the problem on my computer. I had no choice left so I did a clean boot, reinstalled my original Windows disks I got with the computer, and entered the product key I found on the back of my computer. Voila! Windows validated and the message disappeared. My computer is clean, my screen is blue once again, and  I am happily using my computer.

I’ve learned a lesson from this experience. Microsoft wants to curb piracy of their products which I understand. However, the only suggestion they offer to fix the message on the screen is “to get genuine now”. I believe this is for their own benefit and not the user’s. A simple suggestion that the user buy windows locally, do a clean boot, and install a new windows program would solve the user’s problem. As Microsoft accepts no responsibility for a purchase through their program, this should be a listed alternative.

The other surprising thing I discovered is that no one asked me where I got the windows program I was using, not even the Windows Genuine Advantage support person, and I wasn’t asked anything at all about possible counterfeiting of my installed Windows. I thought that would be the first thing they would do since they state anti-piracy as the intent of their program.

In summary, I want my readers to understand how this “get genuine” thing works and I want you to know that you can solve the problem without reporting to Microsoft. Good luck to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

Website Penalty Update

I am happy once again with Google search! I received a reply today from Google stating they reviewed my resubmission request and revoked the manual action against my website. It helps to know that even large companies like Google are reasonable when honest submissions are sent to them. I feel vindicated and pleased with their response .


Google – Flattered and Annoyed at the Same Time

This is my blog about search engines penalties.  Has your website ever been penalized? Mine has and I have some feelings that I want to express in this blog.

There is a manual action against my website,  Canada Shopping Links, by Google and it appears that it may be delisted from their search engine results. I am flattered that the gigantic Google picked up very small, innoculous website for this action. I feel important!

At the same time, I am annoyed that Google is monitoring the internet and setting the rules for webmasters everywhere. There are numerous articles in Google webmaster tools that tell webmasters what is expected from their websites. I tried reading their guidelines and resubmitted my website for reconsideration but most of the articles go beyond my understanding. I am waiting to hear back from them.

My website, Canada Shopping Links, is a very small website that I developed while I was still working. It is a tool for Canadian shoppers who want to shop online with Canadian retailers. As I am retired now, it is my hobby and I enjoy working on it in my spare time. I am no web expert, simply a person who decided to learn HTML and then put it to use in some way. I made a guide (directory) for Canadians so they could more easily locate retailers located in Canada. As search engine results show websites from everywhere, there is some difficulty in getting Canadian results only.

Google tells me that I have unnatural outbound links on all my web pages. It is true that my web pages consist of links to other websites but it is what the site is  all about! In my opinion, they are not unnatural in that the links are all legitimate and in no way are they connected with link farming or payment for links back to my website. I know what reciprocal linking is. As I was learning in the early days, I ended up  unwittingly participating in reciprocal linking. When Google alerted me to the fact that this wasn’t a good practice, I cleaned up the website and Google lifted it’s action against Canada Shopping Links. It was a time when the internet was much smaller and we all had a lot to learn.

I’ve tried to be a good, little webmaster but I cannot rely on search results to help me get the word out to Canadians.  We have many great retailers located in Canada and we can shop within our own borders if that is our preferenceI have decided to simply do what I can to promote my website and let the chips fall where they may. With this blog, I am asking anyone who reads this to please help me keep my website alive by telling your  friends about us and/or posting a link to

Visiting my Aunt in The Home

Today, I visited my mother. It was a hot day and her apartment is shaded and always cool. I knew we could sit outside and not have the sun blazing down on us. My mother, who is 85 years old now, was happy to see me and we enjoyed a nice lunch together before deciding to take a little trip to “The Home” to visit Mom’s sister, my aunt who is in her late 70s. Before leaving, Mom had to prepare a little bag of Skore bars, homemade cherry cake, and of course, another cotton t-shirt that my aunt would surely love.

My aunt suffers from a little known lung condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and is on oxygen. She also recently lost her husband and shortly afterwards, had a fall that caused fractures in the vertebrae. As a result, she could no longer stay alone in her apartment and decided to enter “The Home”. It wasn’t easy to get in there but finally on May 1st, she was accepted. Prior to entering “The Home”, she was extremely ill, anxious, irritable, and could hardly get from her bedroom to living room without struggling for breath.

When we first arrived, my aunt was lying in bed and resting. She’d had a lovely lunch, she said, and was taking it easy. She was happy to see us and we started chatting about this and that. My Mom gave her the little bag and my aunt was happy to see the little treats and t-shirt. She told Mom to put the things on her side table and she would put it away later. We then started talking about other people in the home and my aunt realized that one of Mom’s old friends was just down the hall from her. She jumped out of the bed, pulled out her oxygen, and high tailed it down the hall. She came back, told Mom to come on, and escorted her to the friend’s room. I stayed behind and my aunt came straight back, smiled, and hurriedly put on her oxygen. She did not show any sign of being out of breath, which to me was marvellous, considering how she had been only a little over a month before. A short time later, Mom returned, commenting that her friend has suffered memory loss and couldn’t remember her or their old friendship.  My aunt, seeing a little sadness in my mother’s eyes, decided to show us things in her room. With quick motion, she jumped out of the bed, hopped over her oxygen hose, and headed to the little fridge. Mom and I looked at each other in amazement and broke into laughter. My aunt laughed along with us and pulled out an assortment of things in her little fridge: Skore bars, little finger like bars, cookies, cheese,  jams, and so on. “Would you like one?” she would say as she smiled happily, thoroughly enjoying our entertainment. Then returning to the bed, she once again put on her oxygen.  She happily told us how she attended church services in the home, how she was able to walk to the dining room, and how she and the other residents tried to help others who are less fortunate. What an amazing woman!

Documentarie and Reports on Television today.

What happened to the days when television documentaries were based on fact and not conjecture? I’ve watched several of these once respectable broadcasts in the last little while and I’ve been amazed at the way the stories are presented.

One documentary on CBC was a report on anxiety which discussed the basis for using medication in some of these situations. It was full of supposition and opinions and there was very little that was factual about it. I noticed one thing they spoke about was that medication was used for the normal condition of shyness. Well, they must have never experienced shyness themselves! I used to be very shy in my teens and it was painful. You are not enjoying life or experiencing good mental health when you are afraid to speak. There may not be any basis for the shyness but if  you can’t overcome it, I see no reason why medication should not be used. Fortunately, for me, I was able to to come out of my self when I started working but I know many others who are still painfully shy adults.

As usual, I find a lot of decumentaries these days are based on sensationalism instead of pure, hard facts. Pick out the worse about something, exagerate it, and show only the one side of the story! Make no wonder, mental illness has such stigma attached to it! Psychiatrists are apparently so plentiful that you can almost pick up the phone and get seen right away. And I am sure that the drug companies are trying to take the business away from them. Of couse, I am being facetious but that seems to be the way these programs are pointed.

If a doctor can assist a mildy affected patient, instead of a psychiatrist, then I see no harm in doing so. Often such treatments are temporary, as it was when I had postpartum depression after the birth of my son. and treatment is discontinued when the condition is under control.

If low dosage meds can control symptoms, a family doctor can assess it without referall to a psychiatrist. Psychiatric care is expensive and time consuming, and still the patient requires medication. Let’s let our specialists take care of the intensely ill patient and our family doctors can take care of the milder ones, be it physical or mental.

This is just one example of today’s journalism but there are many more. You only have to turn on your tv or radio to hear the reports. Let’s not make the mistake of voicing the opinions given on these programs as fact.  We can never know who suggested the story or if there was a hidden agenda behind the scene. We have to stay alert, watch to see if both sides of a story is told, the good and the bad, and determine for ourselves just what the facts are! Lets not be puppets who allow opinions to become our facts!

My website: Canada Shopping Links

Canada Shopping Links, is my personal website. The website was started several years ago while I was still working. Initially, some friends and I, started the site as a business with the hope of generating a healthy income by providing advertising for Canada’s retailing sector. At the time, the internet was in its infancy and there was no reasonable prospect of finding Canadian exclusive content without spending a great deal of time on the search engines. That is exactly what we did to obtain the names of Canadian businesses who wanted to be listed in one central location. It took many hours of research to obtain sufficient information to start the shopping directory. As time went on, however, the retailers came to us with their information and we included it on our site. The income generated was insufficient to maintain the website as a business but there were lots of visitors who simply wanted to know where to shop. We disbanded as a group and I became the sole owner of a “not for profit” site.

I am retired now and often think about closing down Canada Shopping Links as I do not have the interest I once did. However, it is my baby and I just can’t delete it! I do get a check from time to time from the advertisers but never any large amount. Maintaining it, is now one of my hobbies! I refer to it often when I want to do my online shopping with Canada’s online businesses. I feel a connection with their struggle to promote themselves and to get Canadians to shop online.

So, if you are Canadian and you like shopping, please bookmark the website, I’d love for you to visit!

The Game Of Life

Tonight I played a mindless game. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses and it’s simply a dumb game that requires only that you match at least three same coloured objects. You get extra points if you match more than that and there are other ways of getting points at well. Although there are other people playing the same game, it doesn’t require any thought and your mind is free to wander wherever. I said to myself “why do I bother to play?” It requires you to be quick at hand but your mind is not engaged. I am bored to death of it but yet I still play.

Well, it is actually an analogy to life. We are constantly striving to connect with our inner selves, our families, and other people we meet. It’s the game of Life and we have to play whether we want to or not. I’m very tired of this game and I’ve decided that I am not going to play by the rules anymore. I see people doing this every day and I want to try it. I am going to do the opposite of everyone I meet:

  1. If you smile at me, I am going to frown.
  2. If you say hello, I will say goodbye
  3. If you try to start a conversation with me, I will grunt with offence
  4. If you say thank you when I hold the door open, I will let go and it can slam in your face.
  5. If you think you know what I am thinking, I will make sure you know what is actually on my mind: e.g. Haven’t you got eyes in your head? Can’t you see me wiggling? I have to go pee!”.
  6. If you tell me you have a problem, I will tell you how great my life is.
  7. If you ask me to go for coffee, I will look at you as if you don’t have a clue.
  8. If you tell me my hair looks good today, I will tell you the truth about your stupid hairdo.
  9. If you say you love me, I will tell you to get lost.
  10. If, after all this, you can still say you like me and mean it, you win the game and I lose.

Now why would I put myself through all this simply to become a loser? Because losing is sometimes the way to really win! By experimenting with the “other me”, I’ve discovered an offensive, miserable and dark side and it’s not the side I want to be on. No, the real “me” can smile, be polite and considerate, and sometimes tell little while lies to spare someone’s feelings. If that is a sin, then so be it! It is who I am and who I want to be.

Garage Sale

Yesterday, I went to a garage sale. Yessireee, the fascinating world of bargains and deals. My friend J. told me about this particular sale and we decided to hit the big time. I picked up J. and we arrived ten minutes before the doors opened. We were the second ones in the lineup and J insisted that we stay right there. No waiting in the car for us! Freeze our buns off, if necessary, but this was the perfect spot to ensure we got to the bargains first. The doors opened and we, a bunch of other ladies, and some men, rushed forward to the best looking table. As we tripped over people in our headlong dash, I  spottted a lovely ceramic clock.  Lovingly, I lifted it up, admired the pretty white flowers, and felt the adrenaline rush. It was mine for the taking! Hm, the price on was $2.00. I offered the lady $1.50. Behind me, I heard a squeaky female voice say, “I’ll give you $3.00 for it.” “Sold’ said the vendor. Now, that got my goat and I turned to give the buyer a piece of my mind. There she was, all 4ft. 6in. of her, smiling broadly, and exclaiming excitedly over her clock as she shuffled away using her walker.  Her 80+ years and her positive attitude stopped me in my tracks.  So ended my jubilant rush for the bargains on that table!

The next table had mostly clothing and it was mobbed by the mass of people. Finally, I got through but I wasn’t interested in buying clothing. But look at the mess! Clothing all over the place! The next thing I knew, I was folding pants, sweaters, shirts and dresses and putting them in neat little piles. The lookers were grabbing the folded items and rushing to pay the vendor. My, I thought, business is great here and the clothes are quickly disappearing. Suddenly, I realized what I was doing and colour rushed to my cheeks as I sneaked a peak at the very, happy seller. Whew, she hadn’t noticed me afterall. I could get away from there with no one the wiser.

Next was a bake table with lots of goodies. Nothing there for me, all made with sugar! I headed to the side and saw a silent auction table. No bids on anything yet so I quickly made the first bid of $2.00.  Off to the next table, which was loaded with good stuff but there was a big red sign “For Auction”.  I asked about it and sure enough, there was an actual auction in about 20 minutes.  Off to the registration table I went, signed in, and received my #4 auction sign. Auctions are a lot more exciting so I was finished with the garage sale. I found J., who was still busy as a bee, scouting out the best deals. She was equally as excited about the acution and she became #5. Off to the snack table for a hot chocolate, back to the silent auction (where I discovered I was outbid by $20.00) and then a quiet, sitdown while awaiting the auction.

There were gift certificates galore up for auction, coca cola, pepsi, beer, barbecue stuff, gift baskets, and much, much more. My particular interest was the gift certificates. While waiting, I daydreamed about food and wine, overnight stays in various hotels, lovely dinners in restaurants, fancy clothes, and abundant food from the grocery stores. I was poised with my #4 in bright orange paddle by my side. I was a little shy at first and I let the first items slip by me. Then, a $10.00 gift certificate for the bake shop! “We’ll start the bed at $2.oo”, the auctioneer said. Up went my #4, $3.00 from the back, up went #4, $4.00 from the side, I kept #4 raised, $5.00, $6.00, $7.00, and then “Sold to #4, the nice lady in the peach shirt for $7.00. Items were displayed, bids were made, and I was often outbid but I kept at it, raising #4 to bid and lowering it to stop. What fun I had! We were there about 4 hours and I ended up with two more gift certificates, a $25.o0 value for flowers, obtained for $7.00, and a $20.00 value for a Chinese Restaurant for $8.00.  What excitement! What fun! What joy! Absolutely loved it!

Did I mention that I returned to the bake table during the auction? No, well let me tell you about that deal. The banana bread was calling me so I decided to buy one at the price of $3.75. Well, the lady told me that she was now selling them for $2.00 each!” Only $2.00, give me 2.”  It’s okay about the sugar! I’ll just have to be careful!

So ended my day! I proudly took my bargains home and enjoyed  a piece of delicious, homemade, banana loaf!