Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gail Mortenson: AP Wire Story

I have a confusing set of thoughts about an Associated Press (AP) Wire Story that I just received in one of those email newsletters, and I'd like to share that confusion with you. 
First of all, though not necessarily the most important point in this blog post, the story is about how one Gail Mortenson who does some kind of freelance editing work here in DC filed a request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in July to require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to forward email messages to their, let's say, substitute/replacement/competitors. 
But before I characterize the story, let me note that I wanted to try to find the source so that I would not be ignoring copyrights if I were to post it on this blog.  First it had been sent to me in a newsletter -- I hope the publishers of this newsletter requested permission -- although they may have distributed a finite number of copies, I would bet that it wouldn't qualify as a reasonable definition of "a limited number." 
Next, when I put Gail Mortenson into a search engine to find the source of the story, I noticed that Gail has now been launched to a new status in notoriety.  All the "sharing" services had pointed to some reference to this article, most of them publishing it in its entirety.  Did any of these people buy rights to reprint? 
I tried to find a direct reference to the AP wire and I spent a great deal of time chasing links.  I found a site where I could buy reprint rights from AP, but none of the rights really seemed to qualify as "reference in a blog post."  Surely weblog posting has not now become a form of "print media."  With the number of readers that I attract, the appropriate licence would probably be "email to friends, colleagues and/or group."  That's my own hybrid of two available categories. 
I could probably "technically legally" post with advertisements and relative impunity.  But I'm not interested in doing what's "technically legal," I'm interested in doing what's right.  That having been said, I'll touch on the essence of the story -- I don't want to refer to it -- I might have to post an advertisement that runs counter to the interest of the sponsors of this blog. 
I truly sympathise with the plight of anyone who is in the situation where they have lost touch with revenue sources, but then that means that I also sympathise with the ISPs who would then have to contribute to the financial health of their competitors after losing their primary customers.  That would at least be very embarrassing, albeit often earned from the kind of conduct that sends people packing. 
Based on my recent experience trying to escape a defunct outfit called "Highstream,"  I have to say, "Good Luck."  I still haven't been able to get a refund from them for the 3 months of service that I didn't get after they abandoned me.  I got a postcard within days of the date when they planned to ditch on their customer base announcing that I would become a PeoplePC customer.  It would appear also that PeoplePC belongs to Earthlink (now if not always?). 
I didn't want PeoplePC:  They have a memory-hogging dialer program that only runs under certain versions of Microsoft Windows, and certainly not under Linux, where I was able to use Highstream under both platforms.  That's not what I would call an "acceptable substitute" of "comparable value."  Tough luck if you have to buy a new computer with resources necessary to use the dialer and switch operating systems, because that's our plan for you.  You have a week to react at which point you'll have to start paying for something you don't want.  I don't think so. 
So I started my own "forwarding" process.  I started looking for a new ISP.  I use mostly plain text ("vanilla ASCII") and have the occasional medium-sized download, so dialup is easily sufficient for me.  All I needed was a cheap dialup service, so I found one called CheapDialup.net and the service has been excellent. 
Only one problem, but not from CheapDialup.net -- the other day my bank account was billed for a month's service of PeoplePC -- a service that I not even considered for more than 3 months -- and had certainly not used.  Fortunately, I started having suspicions after I cancelled my Highstream account, so I had platform personnel at the bank annotate my account in case such an event may occur. 
I think PeoplePC is about to get a valuable lesson:  They should have to pay for that lesson; I'd like to suggest that they buy new computers for their easily-acquired customers, computers equipped with enough memory and disk space to accomodate their dialer, and loaded with a compatible operating system.  I suggest Vista -- after all, it should be a version that has a reasonable amount of support before the clock runs out on it. 
Anyway, if I can't get this much cooperation (refraining from charging me for a service that I haven't used, refunding me for the balance of unused service after cancellation as guaranteed under our contract and "opting me out" of an unacceptable and rejected "replacement/substitute" service), then how are they going to get ISPs to forward email?
One step that I would like to suggest for the community, though, is not intimately linking account logons to email addresses.   I suppose that the assumption is that there is some "stability" in an email address, just as you'd expect people who buy their homes to live at a fixed location. 
I'm not sure either is a valid assumption anymore.  You can lease a domain for a certain length of time, but surely there are a number of cases where prior rights have been claimed to owners' domains.  And if "market volitility is here to stay" with the wide range of financial products offered in combination with a generation of "Internet Speculators" or "Day Traders," then I suppose we can also expect a lot of mergers and acquisitions in these cycles of consolidation and dissolution. 
And another thing:  It's OK to want what's yours, but don't be so eager to charge somebody for something -- they might not have bought anything. 

A Little Bit of Everything : Online Job Offers; Legitimate or Not? : Update

My colleague Roger Guisinger sent me research on the first fraud I detected, along with the note, "Glad you asked." I got another one of these today myself (2007Oct31Wed08h01m39sAEDT-4) and from Roger's research I remembered the "Defrawy" or "Al-frawy" (I shouldn't have to get this criminal's name right -- he can't seem to use the same one twice), but I'd forgotten Brian Egelton, the likely-fake signatory to the "too-good-to-be-true offers."

My last spam-scam was particularly stupid because (1) it plunges straight to offer language, which never happens without at least a phone screen, and (2) it was an administrative position with a salary way off the bottom of the scale for a techie like me.

These guys are really evil: I can't think of anything more despicable than choosing those whose greed extends no further that to want to work for a living as a target for fraud, except maybe the exploitation of children -- but when you think about it, anybody who would defraud the honest worker would probably not wince before before stealing candy from a baby -- or robbing the child of something yet more precious.

I'm hoping that this email post will properly attribute the cited post to my fellow Blogger blogger.

Blog: A Little Bit of Everything
Post: Online Job Offers; Legitimate or Not? : Update
Link: http://read2educ84life.blogspot.com/2007/08/update-online-job-offers-legitimate-or.html

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Photo Credit: John Throckmorton Sr. & Jr.

User [ernie.cordell] at The Quotations Page has sent you the following quotation:

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll buy a funny hat. Talk to a hungry man about fish, and you're a consultant.
--Scott Adams Dogbert; Dilbert cartoons

Comment from ernie.cordell: Just in case you weren\'t sure . . .

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Ernie Cordell
Software Production Specialist
E-mail: ernie.cordell@cdumail.com
Personal Web Pages: http://www.geocities.com/ecordell

ITtoolbox Blog: http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/pm/theghost

Monday, October 29, 2007

China touts crackdown on tainted goods

In everything from toys tainted with lead-based paint to problem food products and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, The "Made In China" label has begun to cause concern in the international markets. China mounts a defense, pointing to remedial action, even the execution of an official accused of accepting bribes to let faulty merchandise pass.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Quotation from H. L. Mencken

User [ernie.cordell] at The Quotations Page has sent you the following quotation:

All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
--H. L. Mencken

Comment from ernie.cordell: This message should go to our troops in Iraq . . .

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Text sklurging

Text sklurging

I found a supposed profile of myself on the 'Web yesterday, and I wondered where it found its origins. I searched the site which produced it and found three entries with the same or similar name. One fellow I knew about -- there's a guy in Alabama in the insurance business who has the same first and last names as I. Even worse for establishing my identity, there's a guy who lived in my home town with that much in common with me. Given my experience, I have to cringe when I hear the phrase, I know who you are.

I found the explanation that I quote below in its entirety. Some might find it shocking, some may find it boring, but a lot of people are using the 'Web as an authoritative source for a number of purposes. Without understanding what necessitates the caveat below, that can be a particularly dangerous practice. We are all aware of the journalists who get into trouble by not verifying the reports of their sources, but what about employers and credit agencies? What if they all were to say, I know who you are.

The dangerous practice with the most horrendous consequences can be described as follows: Using an automated process where human judgement is required. I've seen all the "intelligent engines," and as a matter of fact, I've designed and programmed a few before current software engineers had graduated to pacifiers. As smart as you can make them, they are still error-prone: And the decisions they are asked to make more and more frequently tend toward those of the variety that ruin the lives of innocents. Whenever people see someone sleeping in the street, you will hear the public wisdom on how it came about: Laziness, drug abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, lack of education, etc. Nobody considers the steady downward spiral of the hard-working, sane-and-sober, trained and educated (I distinguish between the two) productive member of society whose personal or credit information has been exploited by criminals. Granted, these cases are probably the fifth part of the explanations given above, but they exist and deserve separate treatment.

The way most people witness this fall from grace is this: A coworker, friend or acquaintance "starts to have a few problems." Maybe it presents as an economic infirmity, perhaps the symptom is unemployment, but then our attentions turn to whether our hair is combed or how well garment and armor covers our posteriors and the person with problems slips from view. Maybe weeks pass or even months, but our paychecks are still arriving at the bank, so we pay little note elsewhere. Other friends of the besieged individual begin to grumble that they "helped him out" but so-and-so didn't appreciate their help or repay their personal loans. After slipping from view, the depersonalized individual may vanish altogether if you don't have an intimate connection. If you're close, you'll be searching your repository of explanations for why someone with talent, skill, expertise and work ethic can suffer such a horrible fall. If you're not close enough, you'll probably say, It's the economy, stupid!

Economic trends are usually too large and sweeping to sufficiently handicap the industrious and the resourceful -- that's why the market-state explanations don't fly with most people. We all have our anecdotal stories about how grandpa pulled himself up by his bootstraps during the depression. But inaccurate or untimely information can cripple individuals, armies or gigantic corporations: Anybody remember Enron?

I usually call the "extraction of textual data for processing by an 'intelligent engine'" text sklurging. It's not a technical term, but it accurately reflects the computational gymnastics of juggling character data until you've picked up keywords and forced them into a certain context. This passes for intelligence among the unsophisticated. Once your personal information has been manipulated in this way, you'll wish that you'd just sold your social security number to the artful dodger instead. By the time anybody is aware that there is any problem, it is already too late. From the perspective of the credit-seeker or prospective employee, everything is going fine until one day when everyone loses faith. A deal was just a little too hard to close, a credit application is rejected -- daily, routine events on the surface of a catastrophe looming. Friends realize what is happening when the victim has no paycheck and no place to live. What happened? they ask, Has he just lost it? I can't believe he blew that interview.

The truly independent will find some way to 'take matters into his/her own hands,' and will prevail -- or disappear completely. For the average person, the loss of one paycheck hurts -- by the time five paychecks go by (10 short weeks to erasing you from society), it's no longer a topic for discussion. The passage of time is measured by the gladiators and ignored by the spectators. By the time that social welfare agencies show up, all the evidence has been destroyed -- not that they do such a great job of investigating the crime scene. Better to think There but for the Grace of God go I, because that's more accurate than basing your analysis of homelessness on the annoying beggar who's always bothering people for change -- he's probably using his proceeds to float stock while the poor take the blame.

One of those text sklurging programs that "put your resumee into a standard format" took a version I tailored according to a friend's specifications and made me an employee of one of the clubs to which I belonged. By the time the final product came around, the omissions, insertions, all-out errors and various sorts of mangling produced a resumee that took longer to edit than it would to write a new one -- at the terminal. I shudder to think how many people saw it before I was able to correct all of it. I'm a technology proponent, but a little horse-sense goes a long way in deciding which is the solution for a class project and what parts of business process should be automated.

In a market where recruiters claim they can't find any qualified American workers yet they confess that they don't have more than 10 seconds to spend on each resumee, I think we need a whole lot more horse-sense and a lot less help from rule-based thinking.

Read the statement below and see whether you might be slightly concerned:

How did ZoomInfo get this info?

<meta name="Keywords" content="database,resume,expert,recruiter,recruiting,web site,company descriptor,job titles,occupation,management,biographies,lead generator,headhunter,research,targeted,information access,extraction,natural language processing,artificial intelligence,education,location,press release,SEC filing">
How did ZoomInfo get this info?

How does ZoomInfo create its profiles:
Our patented semantic search technology continually crawls the Business Web – the millions of company websites, news feeds and other online sources -- and extracts business information using natural language processing and extraction algorithms. ZoomInfo then automatically organizes the information into fresh, comprehensive, objective and easy-to-read profiles. And because our data is automatically generated using the world's most up-to-date source, the Internet, we deliver the freshest information available. ZoomInfo also allows users to edit existing profile information or to add new profiles. Information sources are clearly marked on each individual profile.

Please note:
ZoomInfo does not fact check its profiles and aggregation errors are possible. Additionally, ZoomInfo does not verify user-submitted information. Errors to your own profile can be corrected by updating your information Other errors or inappropriate content can be reported to ZoomInfo using our support form

Who is ZoomInfo?
ZoomInfo is a business information search engine used to quickly find information about industries, companies, people, products and services. ZoomInfo's semantic search engine continually crawls the business web to identify company and people information, which is then organized into fresh, comprehensive and objective profiles.

Learn more about our technology

What is my ZoomInfo Web Identity?
Anyone who can be found on the Web has a Web identity. Some people, like famous athletes or captains of their industries, have a comprehensive Web identity. The rest of us may have only a minimal one or none at all. No matter who you are, ZoomInfo allows you to take control of your Web identity by allowing you to create or claim your ZoomInfo profile. Your profile can include your career history, education, affiliations, Web references and contact information - all in one place - for recruiters, business associates and colleagues to access. Now, when others search for you, you can have some control over what the Web says about you. Take control of your Web Profile today!

So, why would I want to be found on ZoomInfo anyway?
Let opportunities find you! Millions of people use ZoomInfo to find old friends, colleagues, business associates and talent. And since ZoomInfo profiles show up in Google, Yahoo! and other search results, having a ZoomInfo profile allows you to increase your visibility on the Web and to control your personal brand by creating an accurate, up-to-date Web profile that can be found all in one place and edited regularly. Allow colleagues, recruiters and job opportunities to find you. Update your profile today!

The information in my Web Profile is wrong. How can I fix it?
ZoomInfo collects information from many public sources including Web pages, press releases, SEC filings and directories. This information may be incorrect or out-dated and, because of the complexity of the Web, we may also make errors when we extract the information.
You can correct this. By claiming your ZoomInfo Web Profile, you can take control of your Web identity and update your own Web Profile. Make sure your Web Profile is up to date.

I can't find myself on ZoomInfo. Does that mean recruiters can't find me either?
While ZoomInfo scours the Web for people references, we may have not found enough information to create a Web Profile for everyone. However, you don't have to be left out— create your own Web Profile and allow your friends, colleagues, recruiters, business associates and job opportunities to find you.

Wait, isn't this an invasion of my privacy?
Our service provides information about people, and thus each individual's privacy is of utmost importance to us (read our privacy policy). We only create profiles with information that is already available to the general public through any major search engines such as Google or Yahoo, and focus on a person's professional achievements, much like a resume. We also give our users control over their own Web Profiles —you can choose to edit or even delete information in your profile. Once you have claimed your Profile, you can take control of what others can view. Claim your profile today.

Can I remove my profile from ZoomInfo?
If your information changes, or if you no longer want to be listed on ZoomInfo, you may update or delete the information by logging in with your username and password in and making changes. To be completely removed from our directory, you may also email your request to delete your information using our support form at or by contacting ZoomInfo by telephone or postal mail using the contact information shown at the bottom of our privacy policy. If you want to remove your Web Profile completely, please send the link to your Web Profile in an email to remove@zoominfo.com.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I just saw it on CNN.com: U.S. women sailors die in base shooting

Sure would like to know the details of this incident.
Ernie Cordell
Software Production Specialist
E-mail: ernie.cordell@cdumail.com
Personal Web Pages: http://www.geocities.com/ecordell
ITtoolbox Blog: http://blogs.ittoolbox.com/pm/theghost

Click the following to access the sent link:

U.S. women sailors die in base shooting - CNN.com*


*This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Careerbuilder puts phishing prevention off on its users

I got the following message, "apparently" from the sender below, purporting to offer me a job on the basis of my CareerBuilder Profile. The contact even mimics the kind that a legitimate employer requests with a candidate via Careerbuilder. Once upon a time I used to receive those legitimate contacts from CareerBuilder. These days, this is all I get: It could be ten of ten of the last ten varieties of scams on the 'net.

So I went poking around at the CareerBuilder Site and probably the best link that I found is the one I associated with the heading of this article (Click the Title of this posting). I went through all kinds of engine-saavy search gymnastics to try to find a place at CareerBuilder where I could send this message for analysis and potential anti-scammer action. You'd think CareerBuilder would care. Well, what I found would lead me to believe otherwise. Wake up, CareerBuilder, if you want to stay in business, you'll learn that you can't put protection off on your users -- your Customer Base. It won't be long before Employers seeking employees find out that there's too much network traffic devoted to fake contacts for their legitimate requests to be fielded. Then it's bye-bye CareerBuilder. I'm sure I'll shed a tear.
Message from Job Poster
Hello Ernest, my name is Luciano and I represent Italy-Dreams lt., a travel company
from Italy - Europe,we are searching for a agent to represent us in the U.S. I came
across your resume on CareerBuilder.com and would like the opportunity to discuss
employment with Italy-Dreams.

We have some outstanding opportunities available, and based on your qualifications,
it appears you would be an exceptional candidate.

Resident of US.
1 hours free time within the work days
Job Description
Most of our customers prefer to pay us with personal or business checks or by wire
transfers and we do not have an account in U.S.A that will clear this money. Here in Italy
it takes 4-6 weeks and 25% to clear one single check, and 2-4weeks for a wire transfer.
This is way we need your asistance.

Your work will consists in receiving payment from our US customers and making further
payments to our main office or to one of our regional affiliate departments.

Agent's commission is 10% from each transaction.

Each transaction will be made only after prior notification by phone call or e-mail.
This is 100% legal and you don't have to pay any taxes. You are not required to have any
extra knowledge or to be experienced in this business and this occupation can endow
additional income to you and your family as it will not require more than few hours per week.

If you want more details on joining our part time employees or for an immediate
start please fill in the application form below, copy and send-it via email to

E-mail programs can easily mistake important messages for junk mail and automatically put
them in the trash. To ensure our emails are delivered to your inbox without interruption, add
our e-mail address to your address book.

Please correctly fill in the fields below:

<All the information thieves typically seek>
Regards, Luciano Brasco
Italy-Dreams lt.
E-mail: italy.torino@hotmail.com
Telephon: +39 011 234 14 679
Fax: +39 011 829 31 126
We are really sorry and we sincerely apologize if this message caused your any
This email was sent by: CareerBuilder.com
8420 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago, IL, 60631 USA

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Washington Post: Taking a Whack Against Comcast (and the woman uses a hammer, no less)

Just when I've just about lost all faith in humanity, somebody comes along to restore it. Naturally I don't advocate violent crime, but I wouldn't weep too much about a little more reaction from a public that is served less and less each year (month, week?) and charged more and more. At least she didn't file a frivolous lawsuit: The price tag on that is easily as high and it takes a little bit out of all of us, if not in monetary units, in the dwindling of our independent national character. It's not as though she didn't try to resolve the issue personally first -- the next stop is an arbitrating authority, right? But she didn't sit and whimper or skulk off to let some third party (technically legal paid assassins) take care of her business for her -- she acted. What was the criminal act here? We have myriad agencies milking us for every nickel and dime they can, knowing full well that all they have to do is charge less than it would take to hire a lawyer who can prevent the robbery. I don't think there's much danger I'll steal the thunder of the Post article:
Sometimes truly American virtues arise in outlaws who -- by dint of heroic but questionable endeavors -- display the mettle of the national character.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Bring the Buffy Musical Back to the Big Screen

Soon we'll have men in black demanding payment for the music played at kids' birthday parties. For the love of God, let go of your legalistic inclinations for a couple of moments and let people have some personal liberties with what you've already used to collect billions in advertising dollars. Is this really about licenses, or is it just somebody's perverted desire to regulate human behavior?
After a year of successful screenings around the country, the Buffy Musical, a big screen interactive version of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More with Feeling", was told that they were no longer allowed to license the show. FOX, owners of the rights to the television show, announced that they were pulling the rights...

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