Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam…Lovely Spam, Wonderful E-mail and Telemarketing Spam…

We’ve all likely had about a hundred calls from “Rachel” at “Cardholder Services”. This telemarketing-robocalling scam has been around for years. Several of the vermin perpetrating this garbage were shut down, but others have taken up the call, so to speak, and “Rachel” lives on. Apparently there are quite a few idiots out there who will give out their credit card number to the piece of excrement cold-calling their phone. There is indeed a sucker born every minute.

I’ve reported every instance to the FTC

https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx

and of course all of my phones are listed with the Do Not Call Registry. Sadly, there is one little problem: Criminals don’t seem to care about breaking the law by robocalling, nor do they seem inclined to take the time to see if my number is on the DNC or not. The cads.

Robocalls are a subset of the wider universe of criminal behavior taking place on our communication wires and airwaves. In this cesspool, I include robocalls, junk faxes, spam emails, hacking of banks, stores, and other financial operations even including the treasury of my own state. The miscreants range from lone, bored teenagers creating crude phishing emails from “Bank of Amerika” to boiler room operations here and abroad, to massive hack attacks on our financial infrastructure. The scariest endpoint is having one of these rogue operations take control of a power plant, which is at least theoretically possible via the ‘net; I don’t want to think about the consequences of that one.

The question we are all asking is this: Why isn’t someone doing something about it!!??

Someone is, but the effort isn’t even close to adequate. Both in government and industry, experts are trying to keep ahead of the criminals. The technology of our networks themselves makes it possible to cover one’s tracks to the point of being invisible to law enforcement. Thus, hackers, telemarketers, and other thieves can ply their trade without fear of discovery. There is even a “dark internet” hidden from those who don’t know how to access it, where what happens on the internet stays out of sight. Supposedly one can buy weapons, drugs, and other stuff you don’t find at Amazon.com. Perhaps most importantly, the politics of the situation perpetuates it. Many, if not most, of the major internet hacks come from China, and are most likely government-sponsored. Ditto for Russia. There are telemarketing sweatshops in India that call via leased VOIP lines here in the US, and show up as spoofed (faked) numbers on your caller ID.

I’m particularly upset today over a message from the “IRS”, informing us that we owe $4,785 dollars and are in violation of some statue or other. Calling the number in the message (generally a bad thing to do) connected us to a boiler-room operation staffed by people with a very clear Indian accent. No racist connotations here, children, but that’s the accent they had. They keyed their scam by telephone number, and were quite confused when I gave them the direct line to the real IRS. More on them in a moment.

It is a sad state of affairs that criminals have access to more and better technology than their victims and our protectors.

There are a few common threads here. First and foremost, this garbage is all perpetrated by criminals, hoping to separate the suckers from their money. And because their marks are either stupid, greedy, or both, many of them actually respond, thinking they are getting something they are not entitled to have, such as Viagra without a prescription, their share of a Nigerian prince’s ill-gotten oil money, a no-interest credit card, and so on. Fear of the IRS is a corollary which can get the weasels in your electronic door as well. Caveat emptor, as always.

I’m not a Big-Government supporter by any means, but this is an issue where our leaders have failed us. Yes, some of the criminals have been caught, but many more jump in to take their place, and most of these newer and nastier vermin are located overseas, immune from prosecution. Add to that, the carriers themselves, phone and broadband alike, are either too overwhelmed to do anything about this inundation, or are simply satisfied to receive the fees from the bottom-feeders or those who resell the service to them.

The Internet is supposedly an international operation, and “solutions” such as isolating Russia or China, or Nigeria from US traffic would hurt more people than it would help. (Well, OK, maybe cutting off Nigeria wouldn’t be a tragedy, but I digress.) Still, I DO think there should be sanctions based on the criminal traffic coming from a particular nation.

So, we come back around to what we peons can do about all this. We can try to recruit our Congressmen to get to work on this issue. Ultimately, that is how we will have to fix the problem. In this case, it takes a government to stop the juggernaut. In the meantime, the only thing left for us victims to do is to report, report, and report. Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry, and tattle on anyone who violates it. Forward spam emails (with headers) to a service like SpamCop, which will find and notify the ISP involved. Get the telemarketer’s phone number from Caller ID, and trace it down, using Google to start. In other words, Fight Back!

I did track the phone number from the IRS (Indian Robbing Scoundrels) to its VOIP provider, and that particular number was shut down. I’m sure, however, that the Banglore Bad Guys were able to crank up another US number within a few moments maximum. Just like smashing a cockroach; a dozen skitter out to take its place.

Perhaps the saddest commentary is from the IRS (the real one) itself. Its website has a link for reporting scams such as the one attempted on us. The first question:  “How much did you give the scammer?” There’s a sucker born every minute, I guess, and criminals are very adept at finding them.

via Blogger http://doctordalai.blogspot.com/2014/12/spam-spam-spam-spamlovely-spam.html December 30, 2014 at 03:14PM

Yosemite Slam

Yosemite Sam, character copyright Warner Brothers Studios, image courtesy of  dailyinspires.com

I’ve been a lover of Apple products from almost the beginning. My very second computer was a Mac Plus with a whopping one MEG (yes MEGABYTE) of RAM. (My first computer was a TI 99 that didn’t do much but hey, it was a computer!) I’ve since owned or been responsible for the purchase of well over one hundred Apple Macs, not to mention an equal number of iPhones and iPads, half a dozen or so iPods, and even a Newton. I keep hoping for Apple to get into the PACS/EMR game, as their approach to an interface would hopefully provide us with the usability and friendliness so sadly and sorely lacking in the current offerings.

While some might accuse me of being an Apple fanboy, and willing to swallow anything and everything they deliver, I must go public with a huge complaint.

My brand-new Macbook Pro Retina came with MacOSX 10.10, code named Yosemite, after the park and not Sam. It has not quite been trouble-free. In particular, it is affected by some WiFi bug that causes a random disconnect on the average of every five minutes or so. When this happens, one has to turn WiFi off and then on again, and this usually resets the problem.  I will anticipate doing this about 5 or 6 times while writing this piece.

This issue has now been reported thousands of times on multiple threads on the Apple Support Community bulletin board. Apple has released a few updates and we are now on 10.10.2, but still no WiFi joy. If you google the issue, you will find thousands of additional reports.

There have been other Apple issues of this magnitude over the years, such as the infamous iPhone 4 antenna glitch, wherein touching the metal band surrounding the phone which WAS the antenna shorted it out and limited the range of the internal radios. It didn’t take Apple too long to fix this, mainly by giving away bumper cases (large rubber bands) that insulated the antenna from the user’s grubby, moist paws.

The WiFi debacle, however, has not merited a response from Apple, nor will you see much mentioned about it in the mainstream Mac Media (MacLife, etc.) which depend on Apple’s goodwill for their livelihood. For some reason Apple has chosen to neither acknowledge or fix this issue, and some others associated with Yosemite. The consensus is that Apple shoved 10.10 out the door too quickly, perhaps trying to keep things current with the last hardware release. All I know is that the WiFi reception, which is rather critical in a laptop, sucks, and it isn’t getting fixed. The crowd posting on the Community board has offered numerous solutions, erase this, redo that, go into the guts of the OS and tweak thus-and-so…and none of them work for any period of time.

Frankly, I’ve had some intermittent WiFi problems with various Macs and iPads over the years that I haven’t been able to document, but task me none the less. I’m convinced, for example, that my wife’s original Macbook Air disrupted other user’s WiFi, but I could never get that to happen consistently. Given the fact that the WiFi protocols are out there to be matched by the folks that make the routers and receivers, there really shouldn’t be a problem, right?

But there is. It has been said that President Obama chose Joe Biden to be his Vice President as an insurance policy: no one would even consider impeaching Mr. Obama because we would then be left with Biden as Commander in Chief. (Excuse me while I wait for the nausea to pass.)  Similarly, Apple knows quite well that Microsoft is its insurance policy. Having Windoze 8.1 installed via Bootcamp on my same Macbook Retina, I can tell you it is absolutely horrid to use, having been written more for their Surface tablet (which I’m told is also a dog) and not for a run-of-the-mill keyboard/mouse setup. It is splashy and colorful, and full of features that do nothing but get in the way of actually using it. For me, and most Mac aficionados, switching completely to WinBlows is a complete last-ditch resort, which won’t happen unless MacOSX reaches the point of total shut-down.

Still, Apple, and CEO Tim Cook, need to realize that they are testing the patience of their users, especially those of us who use these (formerly) wonderful machines for mission-critical and even life-saving applications. Sooner or later, someone will step into the void you are creating with your indifference toward a really serious problem.

Fix this. Now. Please. Next time, I won’t say “Please”.

via Blogger http://doctordalai.blogspot.com/2014/12/yosemite-slam.html December 30, 2014 at 02:47PM