cinamod is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Dom Lachowicz
Member since: 2001-03-19 20:24:07
Last Login: 2009-03-29 14:23:00

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AbiWord, wvWare, librsvg, libgsf maintainer, Gtk/Gnome hacker


Recent blog entries by cinamod

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26 Mar 2009 (updated 26 Mar 2009 at 15:38 UTC) »
More fun with PayPal

Until recently, I've been relatively happy with the service I've been getting with PayPal. I have an account set up to accept donations on behalf of AbiWord. We've received a few thousand US Dollars in contributions from satisfied users and well-wishers, and we're very grateful for their financial support. We've used the money to buy hardware, sponsor meet-ups, fund bug-bounties, patch prizes, and the like.

In the past few months, though, things have started to turn sour. We've gotten more than the usual number of $5 donations, which is curious given the economic downturn that many major world economies are in. Perhaps not-unexpectedly, the majority of these payments have gone through PayPal's chargeback/dispute resolution process, and perhaps more should go through still. I think that we had ~1 chargeback over the past 5 years. We've had about 5 per month these past 2-3 months.

Though well-intentioned, PayPal's dispute resolution process is unnecessarily opaque to the "seller" - little to no information was given to me regarding the nature of the charge-back. The sole exception has been a case where I was informed that the buyer's credit card issuer initiated the chargeback. Given this little information, I can only fathom a few possibilities for the disputes' causes (in increasing order of malice):

  • People are reneging in droves on their donations to a small, volunteer-run project
  • The "buyers" have stated that we didn't deliver an item to them, which is preposterous, given that the account is used as a tip jar
  • People are stealing credit card information, and using the stolen cards to make small donations to a F/OSS project. Why on earth one would do that, and why AbiWord/I would be picked as the target, boggles my mind. Occam's Razor, though, leads me to believe that this is the case.

Besides being time-consuming and (unnecessarily) frustrating (which I'd grudgingly accepted as the cost of using the PayPal service), the chargebacks also sometimes come with fees, making the tip jar cost us both time and money. In effect, we're being both inconvenienced and robbed because PayPal accepted a stolen credit card and then transferred a small amount of money to us, minus their processing fee. Anti-donations, if you will. PayPal is not the one committing the alleged fraud, so I don't expect them to absorb the costs. But neither am I.

In light of all this, I've closed the tip jar and recommend that other F/OSS projects not use PayPal (or at least be warned of our recent ill fortunes), at least until their dispute resolution process is vastly improved.

How you know that your wife rocks:

It's Friday the 13th, and she's giving her PhD dissertation in a few hours. At the last minute, she decides to slip a picture of her holding a sawz-all, looking all psycho-killer like, and the title music from "Friday the 13th" into her presentation.

Good luck Ruth!

Just voted. I've always liked the scantron-ish ballots that Massachusetts uses. It gives you instant results while still providing a human-verifiable paper trail.

Hopefully, we'll be getting some good news on the presidential race and Propositions 1 and 2 in a few hours.

Sent Ruth off to a conference in Germany where she's presenting some stem-cell research. Will meet up with her in Prague in a little less than a week for a long-overdue vacation.

3 Nov 2008 (updated 3 Nov 2008 at 15:58 UTC) »
PayPal Sucks

But you already knew that...

A few weeks ago, somebody donated $5 to the AbiWord fund, which we always appreciate. A week or so later, I got an alert saying that there allegedly was fraud committed and that I need to respond via PayPal's "Resolution Center." Ok, no problem. If somebody accidentally donated $5 and wants it back, no sweat off my back.

I went to PayPal's Resolution Center and clicked on the "Resolve Claim Now" button, which took me to the always helpful "General PayPal Error" page. I tried visiting this page with a few different browsers on a few different OSes, in case the page was only tested with (eg.) IE on Windows. Indeed, the most useful message was from IE: "Stack overflow at line: 80".

I waited a few days, and tried again. Same results. In the mean time, they continue to send annoying emails saying that they need my immediate attention. My account's going to be flagged. Etc.

By now, I've been to their "Contact Us" page 3x. I've submitted bug reports each time, and was even lucky enough to get a response a week after submitting one of them (they claim 48 hour resolution times on their website). Their suggestion was to visit their "Contact Us" page, and submit a bug report. Which is what I did in the first place which caused them to send me that tardy response. Ugh...

I don't know how a company that handles this volume of money can be so cavalier with other people's money. How does a site as ubiquitous as eBay function with PayPal handling all of their financial transactions? It baffles the mind. Caveat emptor.

21 Oct 2008 (updated 21 Oct 2008 at 19:10 UTC) »
Anyone know how to fix this?

Trying to port some C++ code to Visual Studio 2005. It works fine with VS 2003 and G++. Keep yer snarky comments to yourselves :)

The C++ Standard Template Library defines a nice set of algorithms in its <algorithm> header. One of these is std::lower_bound(), which is basically a bsearch. Its prototype is:

lower_bound(iterator begin, iterator end, value_type value, predicate_type predicate)

predicate_type's rules are pretty simple: it's just a less-than operator. For instances of the specified types T1 and T2, it returns true if "t1 < t2" and false otherwise.

In my case, my iterated contents are a complex type, and the value type is an int. There is no requirement that T1 and T2 be of the same type. I define the predicate as follows:

int my_pred(const ComplexType& v1, int v2)
  return v1.field < v2;

In a lame attempt to be helpful, Microsoft checks that if "a" isn't less-than "b", then "b" shouldn't be less-than "a". In doing so, it assumes that the _Left and _Right types are interchangeable as far as the predicate _Pred is concerned, thus screwing me (and more importantly, the C++ standard) royally:

	if (!_Pred(_Left, _Right))
		return (false);
	else if (_Pred(_Right, _Left))
		_DEBUG_ERROR2("invalid operator<", _Where, _Line);

Any thoughts?


Thanks, Hub. I used a functor class. It needed 3 functors:

(type, int), (int, type) and (type, type)

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