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  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bees, , ,   

    Camper full of bees 

    Camper full of bees

    This past Friday, we posted about scams involving campers that usually involve trying to steal your money. However, a family in Texas fell prey to an entirely unheard of scam that also involved a camper. The family was desperate to find a housing solution and purchased a pair of campers to live in at an RV park. They found the campers on a less than reputable classifieds site; I’m sure you could guess which one. The seller told them all the electrical work was new and the plumbing was new, but the family couldn’t check that out since the campers weren’t hooked up to anything. They took the seller at his word. When they got the trailers back to the RV park it turned out the water didn’t work at all. That was after they discovered the beehive that filled the trailer with bees overnight.

    Here is a dramatic reenactment of the discovery.

    All joking aside, after the campers were sold to them, the family found themselves with little recourse. The website they used said they wouldn’t intervene since the ad had been deleted. The seller is said to have stopped taking phone calls from the family.

    When inspecting a vehicle or camper from classifieds sites, don’t take the seller’s word at face value. If they say to trust them, you shouldn’t. It sounds very pessimistic, but unfortunately that’s the world we live in today. On unmoderated classifieds sites, there are tons of con artists looking to prey on desperate people who need something that lives may depend on. Also, if you find yourself on the raw end of a deal like this, you should not only contact local law enforcement to see what can be done (use the non-emergency number), but you can also file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Beware the camper scam this summer 

    Beware the camper scam this summer

    During the summer months, a lot families like to go camping and to do that, a number of families will look online to buy a camper they can tow behind their car or truck. Online fraudsters are acutely aware of this fact and will use their usual tricks of the trade to try to scam you out of thousands of dollars.

    For example a man in Colorado was planning just such a trip and went to the classifieds site most often connected with these scams. He kept making inquiries into various campers that were supposedly for sale and he kept running into similar stories over and over again. The sellers were either claiming they were deployed military personnel, or were getting ready to deploy, or they were getting rid of the camper cheap after the death of a loved one. In every case the seller was looking to get rid of the camper quickly and at a cheaper than normal price. Some sellers even asked him to wire money in order to put a deposit on a camper. This scam is not just limited to the Colorado area and has been going on for some time as this video from two years ago will attest.

    Thankfully, this man was able to recognize the signs of an online scam. In this case the signs were the claims of military deployment, convoluted stories in order to evoke an emotional response, and the wiring of funds. These are scams that have been used since almost the dawn of online retail that you should always look out for. As we and many others always say, trust your instincts. Always walk away from a deal if it doesn’t feel right to you. If you do that, the worst thing that will happen is you get to keep your money. Conversely, if you do fall for these scams, you could find yourself out of money with nothing to show for it.

     
  • Geebo 11:04 am on July 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Microsoft wants to bring broadband internet to rural areas 

    Microsoft wants to bring broadband internet to rural areas

    If you’ve ever lived in a rural or remote area, you probably know how difficult it can be to get internet service to your home. In many cases, your only options are satellite internet, which is prohibitively expensive, or dial-up internet, which should be classified as crime against humanity. It’s even worse if you have children who need the internet to do school work, or if you’re looking for employment. Without broadband internet, it puts people in rural areas at an educational and financial disadvantage. Enter Microsoft. Microsoft, in a coalition with other foundations are working on perfecting a technology that could bring broadband internet to many people who currently can’t access it.

    When TV broadcasters switched from analog to digital signals, it left swaths of open space in the radio spectrum. Some of those frequencies can be used to deliver broadband internet over the air. While this idea has been proposed before, Microsoft seems to be going full steam ahead. Users of the service would need a special antenna and a special modem required to receive the signal and provide wi-fi to the home. Microsoft says they have no intention of becoming an ISP, but would rather perfect the technology before equipping providers with it.

    While this all sounds great, there are of course industries opposed to this technology. Broadcasters are afraid the internet signal might interfere with their transmissions. Industries that use wireless sound equipment are afraid of interference as well. That’s not even taking existing internet service providers into account. A lot of industries are very protective of their current technologies and business models. Anything that can be seen as a disruption to either of those things will almost always result in legal battles. Years ago, the city of Philadelphia tried providing municipal broadband to its citizens. To combat losing business, Verizon heavily lobbied the state of Pennsylvania to limit municipal broadband and they won. Philly never received municipal broadband and Verizon and Comcast now have a duopoly over The City of Brotherly Love. If broadcasters and ISPs were to use their deep pockets to lobby Congress we may never see this technology get off the ground.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    New documents show Backpage’s alleged lies about sex trafficking ads 

    New documents show Backpage's alleged lies about sex trafficking ads

    Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

    Back in May, we wondered what Backpage could possibly be hiding by asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to order Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee to either return, destroy, or refrain from publishing documents the subcommittee received in its investigation into Backpage and its role in the online sex trade. Now, we may have that answer. The Washington Post recently received documents from a lawsuit unrelated to Backpage that allegedly shows Backpage was not only creating and editing the content of their adult ads, but they were copying ads from competing websites and actively soliciting people to post sex ads on Backpage for free.

    The lawsuit was filed against a company in the Philippines named Avion. Avion was being sued by a real estate site for copying their ads. Documents that were seized by the courts in this lawsuit also showed Avion was allegedly copying sex ads from other sites and posting them to Backpage. Avion was also said to contact people who would post sex ads on other sites and promised they could post their ads for free on Backpage. Normally, it costs for anyone to post ads in Backpage’s dating section where the sex trafficking ads are now said to reside.

    So what does this mean for Backpage? Well, for years, Backpage has been protected by the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA protects websites from prosecution when its users post illegal content. However, if Backpage is actively creating, editing, copying and soliciting this content, that makes them de facto publishers which no longer affords them the protection of the CDA. This in turn could lead to any number of state Attorneys General to prosecute the Backpage cabal of CEO Carl Ferrer and co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Most importantly, it could lead to an inordinate amount of women and children being freed from sexual slavery.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Elon Musk, , X.com   

    X marks the spot for Elon Musk 

    X marks the spot for Elon Musk

    One school of thought in online business is to have the shortest domain name, or URL, possible. This way it’s supposedly easier for customers to remember how to find you online. For example, even large companies like Amazon and Google have the shortcut URLs of a.co and g.co, respectively. What about the top-level domains like .com though? In the early 1990s, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, the non-profit organization that oversees domain names, reserved single character domain names for future use. Only a handful that had already been registered were allowed to remain, one of those was X.com.

    Previously X.com was owned by a newcomer to the tech scene by the name of Elon Musk. Yes, the same Elon Musk who currently runs Tesla Motors and The Space-X program. X.com’s original intent was to be an innovative online banking service. Here is a video of a much younger Elon Musk talking about X.com.

    For the record Mr. Musk admittedly wrecked that McLaren and did not have the car insured, but even back then he was rich enough to not need it. Also, he has never been on the cover of Rolling Stone as far as I can tell, but he has been on the cover of a multitude of other magazines.

    X.com eventually merged with another company that became PayPal. It was at that point that X.com then pointed to PayPal’s website. Musk was PayPal’s CEO until he was ousted in October of 2000. Now it is being reported that PayPal has sold X.com back to Elon Musk for an unspecified amount, and who better to have it than Elon Musk? For example, Tesla Motors makes the Model X which is an electric crossover SUV, and he has the aforementioned and much-lauded Space-X program which is a huge innovator in commercial space flight.

    Currently, X.com will only produce an error message in your browser saying the site can’t be reached, however, it will be interesting, to say the least, to see what Elon Musk will do with it.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instant offers, ,   

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers 

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers

    Hot off of them threatening a blogger over fair use of photos (BTW, they backed down after the EFF told them they have no case), real estate website Zillow is testing a new program called Instant Offers. Zillow says Instant Offers can speed up the process of selling your home and make it a lot easier. Basically how it works is, you register your home with Instant Offers and ideally, within two business days you’ll receive offers from investors who are willing to buy your home. Real estate agents, who already have a contentious relationship with Zillow, are saying not only does this hurt their business, but Instant Offers are also not consumer friendly.

    Even though Instant Offers is only being tested in Las Vegas and Orlando, many members of the National Association of Realtors have seen the writing on the wall. The realtors are saying not only does Instant Offers take away business opportunities from them, but they also say the Instant Offers investors are not offering equitable offers to homeowners. The realtors believe the investors are offering a great deal below market value. One realtor has even taken it upon himself to start a grass-roots movement to try to stop Zillow from becoming the Amazon of real estate by launching the website Stop Zillow.

    However, the question that needs to be asked is, is Zillow looking to corner the real estate market nationwide, or are realtors looking at Zillow like newspapers looked at online classifieds before print media’s decline? Only time will tell.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , OneDrive, Skype,   

    Microsoft takes a page out of Photobucket’s book with updates for Skype and OneDrive 

    Microsoft takes a page out of Photobucket's book with updates for Skype and OneDrive

    Microsoft seems to have taken a page out of Photobucket’s book on how to make customers angry with updates to two of their most popular services. The first isn’t so bad, the second is pretty bad.

    The first problem is with Microsoft’s update to OneDrive, their cloud-based storage system. Microsoft now no longer allows users to store their OneDrive folder on non-NTFS devices. That means you can’t store your OneDrive folder on most external devices such as flash drives without formatting the drives to Microsoft’s proprietary file system. Here’s the difference between NTFS and the other popular file system, FAT32.

    As the video says, NTFS is more secure, but FAT is more universally accepted. The other problem is once you format a device to NTFS, it’s a chore to reformat the device back to FAT. Like Photobucket, Microsoft didn’t warn anybody about this update and just flipped the switch at their discretion. Microsoft is famous for trying to get customers locked into proprietary formats that are Microsoft exclusive. They’ll probably claim they made the change for security purposes but many people find their external devices formatted with FAT32 to be more convenient.

    Then there’s Skype. Skype was originally a desktop-only application that allowed users to make video calls to each other on their computers. When it debuted in 2003, it was considered groundbreaking. Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011. In more recent years, Skype became an app that can be used on any Android or iOS device. Skype was great because it did what exactly what it was supposed to do, –it made voice and video calls and that was it. With its most recent update Microsoft added humorous filters and a Highlights section. If that sounds a lot like Snapchat, that’s because it is. It’s basically a straight up rip-off from Snapchat. These new features on Skype are being referred to as fixing something that wasn’t broken. Skype’s lack of features was its biggest selling point. Much like Photobucket again, Microsoft is responding to the complaints by thanking customers for their ‘input’.

    Oh well, at least they didn’t try to charge people $400.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Photobucket   

    How not to treat your customers, courtesy of Photobucket 

    How not to treat your customers, courtesy of Photobucket

    All businesses want to make money. That’s the entire point of a business. The main thing businesses need to make money is customers. Apparently no one told that to Photobucket.

    Photobucket is a photo sharing website and service that has been around since 2003. A great number of their users used the service in order to post photos of the items they were selling on places like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. This is a common process called hotlinking or 3rd party hosting. Photobucket allowed their members to use this feature free for years, as the website was making the majority of its revenue from ads. Now with ad revenue being down all over the internet, no one should bear ill will towards Photobucket if they wanted to increase their revenue stream so they could stay in business. The problem is how they went about trying to make this extra revenue.

    Rather than telling their members they would soon start charging for 3rd party hosting, Photobucket just turned off the switch. Everyone who was using Photobucket to post their photos on 3rd party sites were met with the above image, or a variation of it. To make matters worse, Photobucket said they would allow 3rd party hosting for the low, low price of $399 a year. But wait, there’s more. When social media erupted with complaints aimed at Photobucket, all Photobucket did was post a brief note that said users should review their new terms of service. It should go without saying that users are claiming to be leaving Photobucket in droves. Unless the heads of Photobucket made a bet with Uber to see who could lose more customers, the way they handled this is almost inexplicable.

    If you are a former user of Photobucket, here is a list of alternatives. You may have to check with the other services to see if 3rd party hosting is allowed.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Slate   

    Craigslist has nothing to teach Facebook 

    Craigslist has nothing to teach Facebook

    Noted news and opinion website Slate recently published an article entitled “What Facebook Can Learn From Craigslist”. One could assume by the headline that Slate must mean craigslist can teach Facebook something about Facebook Marketplace, but that’s not the point Slate is trying to make. Instead, Slate makes the questionable claim craigslist has ‘conquered’ its own content moderation, which leads to the question, what moderation?

    Granted, Facebook has had its own controversies lately with Facebook Live being used to broadcast a number of crimes and suicides, and the ever-growing problem of hate speech, however craigslist should not be held up as a shining example of how content should be moderated. In researching this post, it took me literally under a minute to see something racist posted in craigslist’s forum section. That’s not even taking into account the number of news stories that go out almost daily that contain the words ‘beware’ and ‘craigslist’.

    Let’s not forget the 115 victims that have been allegedly killed during craigslist transactions.

    If anything, craigslist could learn from Facebook. While craigslist only has 40 employees, Facebook has hired contracted content moderators to at least try to curb some of the material that goes against Facebook’s terms of service. Craigslist wouldn’t even remove their adult ads section until well after CNN’s Amber Lyon famously approached craigslist founder Craig Newmark, as pictured above, about the human trafficking that took place on craigslist.

    The only thing that craigslist can teach is how not to do things.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on July 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Gas is cheaper this year, but stay safe on the 4th 

    Gas is cheaper this year but stay safe on the 4th

    Gasoline is cheaper for cars this summer than it has been in a long time. Because of that a lot of people will be traveling for the holiday especially since the 4th is close to a weekend. Due to increased travelers, the risk of danger might be at an all time high tomorrow. In case you were unaware, the 4th of July is considered to be the most dangerous holiday of the year when it comes to traveling.

    If you plan on doing any traveling this holiday please buckle up. Also, it should go without saying not to drink and drive. If you do plan on celebrating the holiday with a drink or two, and find yourself incapable of driving, arrange alternative methods of transportation like a ride-sharing service or a taxi. Also as always, alcohol and fireworks are never a good mix. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.

    Boating is also very dangerous during the 4th of July due to increased traffic, but it’s even more dangerous at night. If you’re out boating at night, and an accident or boat failure occurs, it might be difficult to signal anyone with a flare since they may consider the flare as more fireworks.

    Have a safe and fun holiday as we want to see you back here on Wednesday.

     
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