Steam support sucks

For those that don’t know, Steam is Valve Corporation’s digital distribution software that’s used for buying, managing and playing games online. If you want to play any modern games these days (at least legal copies), it’s pretty much essential software. However, the customer service and support is almost completely non-existent.

Take this scenario. You get given a present but the item is incorrect; perhaps it’s a book that you’ve already got or maybe it’s a PS4 version of a game when you have an X-Box. You go back to the shop where it was bought, explain the situation and exchange it for something else or the correct version. Some shops might require a receipt but you’d struggle to find one that wouldn’t be happy to do the exchange and keep a customer happy. Continue reading

Quicklinks: crows, climate and computers

There’s an interesting story about crows from the BBC (found via io9) about a girl who regularly feeds crows. That wouldn’t be so remarkable if the crows weren’t now giving her gifts in return. We probably shouldn’t be too surprised. Crows are highly intelligent and have long term memory of people. There are wild animals that can think and feel and reciprocate a person’s gifts. If people had more interactions with animals we would probably hear more such stories. At the moment they tend to be limited to pets.

One of my recent quicklink posts (well… December) mentioned both the need to reduce consumption of meat to reduce (drastically) our impact on climate change and the strong opposition that meets such proposals. In a heartening, though non-binding, move, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have released their 2015 scientific report to the US Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services which explicitly mention reducing consumption of meat due to the effect on climate change. This is covered in Slate.

In the world of computing it seems like we are gradually winning the fight against unnecessary and invasive internet surveillance. Not necessarily because everyone has been convinced but because the people fighting surveillance are a cohesive movement. And then there’s also an interesting piece on how discussion about security vulnerabilities in code can be prevented laws. The main feeling of the article is frustration at how laws prevent important ethical discussions.