Updates from November, 2017 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:53 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: pay phones,   

    Pay phones are still making money 

    Pay phones are still making money

    There was a time, for those of us old enough to remember, when payphones were everywhere. Shopping malls would have banks of them, busy intersections would have them on the corners and most public places like restaurants would have at least one. Pay phones were the lifeline to home and safety in a world without cell phones. Fast forward to today when finding a pay phone is about as easy as finding Bigfoot, but did you know that pay phones are still making a lot of money?

    According to tech blog Motherboard, pay phones in the US and Canada are still making hundreds of millions of dollars even though the profits have been declining steadily over the years. However, the Motherboard post seemed to gloss over the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Who’s still using pay phones?

    A lot of people in rural parts of the country where there is no landline or cell phone service are still using pay phones as in many cases it’s their only way of communications. In neighborhoods with a high immigrant population, pay phones are still popular because in most cases it’s cheaper to use a pay phone to call their home country than in it is to use what we might consider a regular phone. Then there are those who just don’t feel the need for a phone. With all the ways we are able to communicate today, how many of us even use the phone function of our cell phones?

    While pay phones may be a relic of the past, to a lot of people they are a still a vital lifeline.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Beware of lockbox rental scams 

    Beware of lockbox rental scams

    Reports have come out of the Treasure Valley section of Idaho where a new rental property scam has been taking place. The new scam starts out as the usual rental scam with the scammers copying a legitimate real estate ad then pasting it on to less than trustworthy classifieds sites. However, the scam takes a new twist when it comes to accessing the electronic lockbox used to secure the property for realtors and landlords. Specifically, the scammers have been targeting lockboxes given out by a company called Rently.

    Here’s how the lockboxes are normally supposed to work…

    Unfortunately, victims of the scam then give out the Rently access code to the scammers. The scammers then get access to the property and are able to show it to prospective victims like they own the property which makes it easier for scammers to ask victims for money in the form of non-existent security deposits and the like.

    If you’re looking for a property and end up needing to use one of these electronic lockbox devices, don’t ever give out the security access code to third parties. Also, you may think that since this scam is happening nowhere near you it can’t affect you, but if it’s happening in one area of the country there’s a good chance it could be happening in multiple locales.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Sen. Al Franken calls for regulation for sites that can’t police themselves 

    Sen. Al Franken calls for regulation for sites that can't police themselves

    It seems that Senator Al Franken isn’t done with the big three tech companies just yet. In a speech he gave this past Wednesday, Franken still had deep concerns about Facebook, Google and Twitter after they gave vague and unsatisfying answers during the Senate hearing about the Russian political ads on American social media. The Senator claims that these companies are unable to control the unchecked influence they have and suggested that regulation may be required for companies that can’t police themselves.

    While Senator Franken is considering regulation against Google, Facebook, and the like, he may want to consider regulating a couple of other sites that have shown they can’t police their own yards, so to speak. Of course those sites would be craigslist and Backpage.

    While Facebook may have accepted foreign money for American political ads designed to influence the 2016 Pesidential election, craigslist has a long and ever-increasing body count. That’s not even mentioning the number of sexual predators that continually use craigslist to find new victims. As for Backpage, their history of being unable or unwilling to stop the human trafficking that takes place on their site is well documented. Even newcomers like OfferUp and LetGo have been having their own issues with customer violence and scams. While moderation may not be able to stop every crime on these sites and apps, it would go a long way in stopping a majority of them. Since they’re all unwilling to monitor themselves, maybe it is time for the government to intervene in order to protect the customers these other services refuse to.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: free delivery, , , ,   

    Target offers free delivery while closing stores 

    Target offers free delivery while closing stores

    Retail’s favorite holiday is fast approaching, Black Friday. That time that used to announce the start of the Christmas shopping season the day after Thanksgiving, which has now even encroached into the holiday. In order to compete with online retailers that they’ve been losing ground to for years now, some stores are offering certain perks.

    Target will be offering free shipping for their online orders for the holiday in an effort to try to battle for that coveted ‘last mile’. Again, the last mile is considered the most expensive part of any home delivery by retailers. The question is, should Target be offering free delivery for the holidays when they’re set to close multiple locations in the new year?

    Will the promise of free delivery for the holidays be enough to turn Target’s profit margins around? It’s highly doubtful as it seems like they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. It almost seems like it’s too little too late for Target as they waited too long to try to compete with the much larger competition of Amazon and Walmart.

     
  • Geebo 9:55 am on November 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , RV,   

    BBB reports uptick in Facebook Marketplace scams 

    BBB reports uptick in Facebook Marketplace scams

    The Better Business Bureau has recently reported that they’ve received an increased amount in complaints about Facebook Marketplace. Specifically, the complaints the BBB has been receiving are about big-ticket recreational vehicles like RVs and trailers.

    The scams work the same way that they’ve been working on craigslist. The seller will set up a fake Facebook profile and list an RV for sale. They’ll have some story as to why they’re selling the RV like they’re out of the country or they’re deployed in the military. Then they’ll try to have you pay for the RV with some form of unusual payment such as wiring the money or paying with prepaid credit cards or gift cards. Both methods of payment are virtually untraceable.

    Again, this is just another symptom of the larger problem of classified ads on other sites not being moderated. Facebook moderates their site for all sorts of content violations yet they’re taking the hands off approach when it comes to Marketplace. Then again, what do you expect from the company that took foreign currency payments for American political ads?

     
  • Geebo 10:10 am on November 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Prime members largely reject Amazon Key 

    Prime members largely reject Amazon Key

    Previously, we’ve discussed the service offered by amazon called Amazon Key. This service would allow Amazon deliveries to be left inside your house after Amazon Prime members would pay for a smart lock and a security camera for around $250. This would allow delivery people temporary access to your home to leave your packages inside the home. Amazon will be rolling out the service this week to 30+ cities this week but will it be a successful launch.

    According to tech blog Recode, it will not. They polled close to 8,000 people and according to Recode’s numbers, a majority of Amazon Prime members would not buy into the Amazon Key. Most of these Prime members cited security concerns as the main reason they would not enter the Key program. Non-Prime members were also polled and they also said that they found the idea of allowing strangers into the home unappealing. That’s not even taking into consideration liability problems that could arise from strangers being in your home if they injure themselves or if a pet were to attack or get loose.

    In a culture that has largely sacrificed security for convenience, it’s refreshing to see that not everyone is willing to forego common sense for self-gratification.

     
  • Geebo 10:07 am on November 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , The Internet Association   

    Tech firms reverse position on anti-trafficking bill 

    Tech firms reverse position on anti-trafficking bill

    It seems that something good has come out of the lambasting the US Senate gave tech companies last week over the Russian ads debacle. While that particular problem has no resolution, the senate inquiry has seemed to spark a change of heart for tech firms in at least one area, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

    This is the bill that would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that has allowed sites like Backpage to avoid prosecution for their role in the sex trafficking of women and children. Previously, tech giants like Google had opposed the bill fearing it would open them to potential lawsuits even though the amendment to the CDA specifically targets sites that bad-actor websites. Now, The Internet Association, which represents such tech luminaries as Google, Facebook and Twitter, has reversed their opposition to the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

    While it may not have been done out of the goodness of their hearts, but more to try to get Congress off their backs, this is still an important step towards the bill becoming law. Without as many allies, Backpage’s support is now crumbling. We are now several steps closer to seeing protections enabled to prevent girls and women from being trafficked on sites like Backpage and hopefully the successful prosecution of those who have profited way too long from their victims’ suffering.

     
  • Geebo 8:57 am on November 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Colin Stretch, , , , , ,   

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe? 

    Are cowardly CEOs afraid to face Congress over Russia probe?

    Not pictured: Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page

    This week, Congress continued its probe into alleged Russian influencers purchasing ads on the internet’s three top platforms, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Rather than appearing themselves, the CEOs of each company sent their legal counsel in their stead. Yes, that’s not unheard of for businesses to send their legal representatives to Congress, but we’re talking about these companies taking money from foreign entities that might have influenced the outcome of the 2016 election.

    While Congress by and large can be tech-illiterate, at least one Senator seemed to hammer the point home that these companies probably knew who they were taking money from. Minnesota Senator Al Franken showed everyone just how unwilling these companies are to divulge the truth.

    Senator Franken put forth a poignant argument to Facebook’s legal Counsel, Colin Stretch…

    “People are buying ads on your platform with roubles. They’re political ads. You put billions of data points together all the time. That’s what I hear that these platforms do: they’re the most sophisticated things invented by man, ever. Google has all knowledge that man has ever developed. You can’t put together roubles with a political ad and go hmm, those two data points spell out something bad?”

    Stretch replied: “Senator, it’s a signal we should have been alert to and in hindsight–”

    But Franken cut him off, asking whether Facebook would pledge not to publish a political ad paid for in North Korean won. As Stretch demurred, Franken interjected fiercely: “Please answer yes or no, sir. You’re sophisticated. You’re the chief legal counsel for Facebook. Please answer yes or no.”

    Of course, Senator Franken did not get a straight answer out of Stretch. Instead the counselor hemmed and hawed his way through a non-committal answer.

    However, the question remains, why weren’t the CEOs there to answer questions directly? What exactly are they afraid of? Perjury perhaps? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t comment on the hearings until the day after Stretch’s testimony on an earnings call.

    “I’m dead serious,” Zuckerberg said. “I’ve directed our team to invest so much in security on top of the other investments we’re making it will significantly impact our profitability going forward.” That investment will include hiring at least 10,000 new employees to focus on security and enforcement. CFO David Wehner later clarified that many of those new jobs won’t be full time but rather contract positions at partner companies.

    “Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits,” Zuckerberg said.

    Which doesn’t address the problem at hand at all. Zuckerberg was then said to have handed off the remainder of the call to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

    Facebook was the biggest offender in this story having served up alleged Russian ads to at least 125 million American users. Considering the entire population of the US is 323 million, that’s not a small percentage of potential voters who saw these misleading ads. That’s more than enough people to sway an election one way or the other. If protecting the community is more important than profits, why take the foreign money at all for American political ads? Facebook can claim hindsight is 20/20 all they want, but there were accusations of Russian political meddling even before these ads appeared on Facebook. So how could accepting Russian currency for American political ads not throw up a red flag?

    If you don’t think the CEOs of this company aren’t cowards, please think of this for a moment. Even Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer eventually appeared before Congress. So when the CEO of a company that reportedly makes money from the sexual slave trade in this country appears before Congress and these other CEOs don’t, it goes a long way in showing just how scared of Congress they probably are.

     
  • Geebo 9:07 am on November 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , walmart parties   

    There ain’t no party like a Walmart party 

    There ain't no party like a Walmart party

    If you’re the country’s largest retailer, but you’re losing ground to online competition, what do you do? You throw a party of course. Walmart has announced that in their run up to the holiday season will be holding ‘parties’ in their Supercenter stores in November and December. These parties, to be held on three separate weekends, will have increased stock at the stores with thousands of product demos.

    This is another attempt by Walmart to take advantage of what Amazon can’t do. One of the problems with Amazon is that you can’t have any hands on testing with the products before you buy them from the website. You have to rely on sometimes unreliable user reviews. Whereas with Walmart, you can actually go into a physical location during these parties and inspect the merchandise.

    The problem for Walmart is, that even with increased stock they won’t have the selection that Amazon wields. Walmart could very well find themselves in the same place that Best Buy found themselves in. Meaning that people will go to the stores to check out a certain piece of merchandise than order it from Amazon. Many consumers say that Best Buy is the best Amazon showroom there is and Walmart could find themselves in the same predicament this holiday season as more people continue to turn to online shopping in order to avoid the holiday crowds.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on November 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Particularly violent month for classifieds 

    Particularly violent month for classifieds

    The month of October was pretty brutal month for the users of classifieds websites and apps. A few of the stories that stood out were the murder of a former policeman and the shooting of a newlywed couple. All the victims believed they were meeting someone to buy or sell something through online classifieds, but instead lost either life or limb.

    It started with a robbery turned murder in Mesa, Arizona, when a man was shot and killed by someone posing as a person who was selling a high-end laptop on OfferUp. That was followed up by the murder of a former Tennessee policeman who thought he was meeting someone to buy his car from craigslist. Bizarrely, an armed robbery set up through LetGo took place at the same site where the officer was killed. Then the month ended up with a newlywed couple from Virgina, being shot and maimed during an OfferUp meeting.

    A number of these transactions took place in broad daylight in public places;. That doesn’t matter anymore as criminals have adapted to the old suggested safety precautions that used to go towards keeping people safe. The best way to keep yourself safe is to insist on making the transaction at a local police station. Many police stations now welcome these transactions so they can be completed in a safe environment.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel