CloudMark

CloudMark / CloudFilter.net – Filtering Legitimate Messages and providing no FBL or JMRP.

The current issue.

Over the last few months, the company I work for has been having issues with a company called “CloudMark” blocking the legitimate messages of our users sent to their clients. This has resulted in emails sent to AT&T, T-Mobile, COX Cable, and others to fail. While I’m happy for CloudMark to have expanded and acquired all of these large ISP customers – it hasn’t been a good experience for other service providers trying to reach users protected by CloudMark.

Our clients are having issues sending legitimate email messages to people at AT&T, T-Mobile, COX, and a few others – and we’ve had zero luck working with CloudMark to resolve the issue permanently. While we have managed to get them to unblock us a couple of times – we haven’t had any luck getting any details so we can cure the source instead of putting a bandage over the symptom.

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Trustpilot Content Integrity Team doesn’t know what a “reach around” is.

We received the following obviously fake review:

I will warn you – this paragraph will describe an obscene sexual act – for those that may not know. I am sure some people do not know what a “reach around” is. If you don’t want to read the description skip to the next paragraph. A “reach around”, in the context of this “review”, is when one man masturbates another man while performing anal intercourse with him. This is inherently obscene, no?

You would imagine that someone responsible for reviewing reports of obscene reviews at Trustpilot would be aware or at least spend the 10 seconds it would take to research the term.

It seems that Trustpilot’s Content Integrity Team doesn’t understand this and has informed me, after flagging this review, that it is in fact not obscene. I wonder how over-worked and under-paid Trustpilot Content Integrity Team members are.

It is absolutely terrifying that the people employed to review flagged content, particularly content flagged as obscene, do not understand what they are reviewing well enough to make an appropriate decision in this situation.

Come on Trustpilot, you can do better. Your failure to handle this properly is, in and of itself, obscene.

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A word of warning about Trustpilot Automatic Invitations

If you are allowing Trustpilot to invite your users to submit reviews you need to be very careful about who and how Trustpilot sends those invitations. The company that I work for uses Trustpilot to collect reviews from customers and recently an individual that wasn’t a customer and had no experience using our services mistakenly received an invite from Trustpilot. Technically speaking this invitation being sent was due to a minor mistake on our end and that’s one of the main reasons I want to provide this warning – so that you do not make the same mistake.

Trustpilot for a time allowed you to simply send a link to an form to invite customers to write reviews. For a few years this worked fine until they decided that they wanted to handle the review invitations themselves. Somehow they believe that by them sending the invitation instead of you – that it adds legitimacy to the reviews. We actually had a warning on our Trustpilot page for a bit after this change warning that our reviews may not be legitimate due to using manual invitations [i.e. links in our email signatures, new order confirmation emails, etc].

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Gravely Pro-Turn Z 52"

Don’t trust Gravely with your money.

You might have read my post about the issue I had with my Gravely Pro-Turn Z 52″ Mower. In the end they offered to send me a hat as compensation for the matter. I asked for a small bottle of touch-up-paint and to my surprise they sent the paint but not the hat.

Well to be honest I wasn’t entirely happy with my experience so I left an honest review of the machine as well as my experience on their site. Here’s an image of the review:

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Gravely Pro-Turn Z 52"

My venture into Commercial Mowing with a Gravely Mower

Update 06/02/2022: See Part 2 – “Don’t trust Gravely with your money.

I decided recently that I am going to use some of my free time during the day to start a small business mowing and trimming lawns commercially. I decided that if I was going to do this I should most likely pick up a commercial grade mower – something that will stand the test of time and handle the rigorous use that a commercial mowing business would place on a piece of equipment.

After quite a bit of research I decided to go with Gravely as they’re made in the U.S.A. and Gravely is owned by Ariens. I have had an Ariens snow blower for many years that has been solid and reliable. I have, fortunately, never had to reach out to Ariens for support as the machine simply works and hasn’t given me any issues.

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WHMCS – Half Implementing Features since 2007

I’ve been using WHMCS as a billing and support platform for web hosting since 2007, for over 13 years now, and as near as I can tell WHMCS was founded in 2005. There have been issues over the years where there was unexpected behavior or unexpected changes during upgrades but every software vendor is going to roll out a bug here or there. Even companies with the best quality assurance and testing are bound to have something slip by – and I understand this.

While I do not and have not ever expected perfection and I do understand that bugs can happen sometimes feature implementation is just poor at best or processes are not well thought-out and planned. The most recent instance of this that has caused me problems is Premium Domain Support in WHMCS. This feature was added to WHMCS in version 7.1 which was released over 4 years ago.

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The Small Business Administration – The Disaster during The Covid-19 Disaster

U.S. Small Business Administration Logo

I’ll start by saying that the company I own and operate has been in business since late 2007. In nearly 13 years of being in business we have never applied for funding through the SBA or anywhere else as we didn’t need it. Personally I absolutely hate owing money be it to a person or to an organization.

I have heard from other business owners that working with the Small Business Administration, or the SBA for short, isn’t easy and that even if you qualify you’ve got a 50% chance of approval. I do know a few small businesses that have SBA loans for business property.

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AT&T Business Internet [u-Verse] – Slow to replace lightning-damaged equipment

Dead AT&T DSL ModemAt the office where I work unfortunately there are no fiber optic options.  Before we signed the lease we reached out to the local ISP that provides fiber connections for our area and confirmed that they serviced the location we were looking at leasing.  The ISP told us they did service our building and we didn’t find out until after we signed our lease and arranged to set up service that they do not actually service this location.  Sadly enough the only option we have here is AT&T vDSL [AT&T uVerse Business Internet DSL].

We experienced some pretty intense storms today / this evening and experienced several very close lightning strikes.  At least a couple of strikes were within several hundred feet of our office and one of them managed to take out our AT&T uVerse DSL Modem.  Being that AT&T has numerous corporate stores within a short driving distance I really didn’t imagine getting this damaged equipment replaced would be an issue.

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If at first they refuse – harass, harass, harass, and threaten! [Updated 07/11/19]

Brick WallIt has been roughly 10 weeks since “The Professor” sent a Cease and Desist letter to the company I work for concerning content on one of our client’s sites. We refused to bow to this individual’s demands and that was the beginning of the harassment.  At this point I count no less than 20 individual messages in my inbox.  The Professor has called the company I worked for numerous times and asked the same questions and received the same answers.

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Goodbye MediaLayer, Rest in peace Gupreet.

Gupreet VirdiWhile I was not close to the founder of MediaLayer, Gupreet Virdi, I was always very familiar with their name and their services.  For the past 7 years MediaLayer has been competition for my company’s premium offerings and they’ve always done an excellent job of maintaining their reputation.  The owner has always taken care of customers first and made speed and reliability priorities.  It is unfortunate that Gupreet passed away unexpectedly and the industry as a whole will miss him as well as his company.

We have helped dozens of MediaLayer customers transition over to our services and while this has been good for our company it does sadden me to know why these new customers are heading our way.  Growth is good for us obviously but I wish there was more continuity planning at MediaLayer so that their customers did not have to scramble to find new services.

I hope that everybody affected by the closure of MediaLayer is able to transition to a competent and reliable provider quickly and easily.  It is my understanding that the MediaLayer servers should remain online for a week or two.  This will give MediaLayer’s customers some time to transition out but I generally would still advise downloading a backup immediately regardless.

Rest in peace Gupreet.

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