WOW #47

Telephone

The Word Of this Week is a word that we all know – or should; it’s

Phishing

Phishing Trip

Ring……..ring……..ring……..
Son – Hello
……..(one second……..(two seconds)……..(three seconds)……..(four seconds) click
(Boiler room – 50 voices in background)
Strike one!
Paki – Hellooo….is this Mr. J. Smith?
Phone is in the wife’s name – Mrs. J. Smith
Strike two!
Son – Yes
Paki – This is the security Department of Visa (Sure it is 😛 )
There are three credit cards in the house, and they are all MasterCards
Strike Three!
Paki – There has been suspicious activity on your Visa card. A few minutes ago, there was a $600 transfer to Western Union. That is often a sign of online fraud. Did you make that transfer?
Son – What are the last four digits you have on that card?
……..Click Yerrr Out!

Sorry! The suckers aren’t biting today – and tell your cousin, the Prince of Nigeria, to stop sending us those get-rich-quick emails.

Remember, folks – TANSTAAFLThere Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – and there’s always someone ready to try to take away a lunch that you’ve already paid for.

Be alert!!
We need all the Lerts we can get. 😉

You’ve been selected to receive money – Sure you have

You’ve won a prize – in a contest you don’t remember entering

Buy a ticket for this foreign lottery – they just change your dollars to rials before they steal them

You’ll get a bonus or gift if you buy now – see TANSTAAFL

They aggressively claim that you owe money on your taxes – no civilized country’s tax department would approach you in this way, or demand payment in prepaid iTunes cards 🙄

The phone rings once, then hangs up – if you have call-display, do not call an unfamiliar number back. It will direct you to a pay-per-minute site

They say that you’ve been the victim of a fraud (see above) – they’re just after your banking information

They offer to fix your computer – they will download all your financial information

They’re selling an extended warranty on your car – talk to your dealer, face-to-face, rather than some unknown on the phone

They won’t answer your questions (see above) – don’t let them deflect or refuse. They have all the answers…. until you ask an inconvenient question

They’re collecting for a charity you’ve never heard of – then why would you donate?? Real charities don’t demand your credit card number over the phone.

They threaten to have you arrested – There are laws which prevent governments and organizations – even collection agencies – from doing this. Just hang up

They want personal information, like Social Security numbers – for identity theft and fraud. If they called you, never give it out.

They’re collecting a debt you don’t remember – you have the right to a mailed copy of any claim. Demand one!

They claim to have kidnapped someone you know – Some scammers now use social media to find the names and whereabouts of your friends and family members, and use that information to impersonate kidnappers and demand ransom money. It may sound terrifying, but it’s most often fake. Definitely don’t pay them anything. Instead, contact your friend or relative immediately, and report the call to the FTC/CRTC or the police.

They want you to invest in something – Unless it’s someone you know, they get no dough!

They just want to confirm your debit or credit card number – this is the fastest way to get defrauded

They want you to make an immediate decision – even if it’s something you want, pressure = fraud. Hang up and do your own research.

The call looks like it’s coming from your own phone – hackers claim that they’re from the phone company, and just want you to verify those magic numbers. Don’t do it!

They’re too friendly – It’s nice to talk to nice people….until they steal you blind. Beware of unknown callers who seem really, Really friendly.

It’s a jungle out there. Keep your eyes on your fries – and your wallet, and online data. 😳

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Flash Fiction #159

Mammon

PHOTO PROMPT ©Jill Wisoff

 

MAMMON INC.

Buddy Bob was railing about politicians, and how they interfere with our lives, especially financially – laws, rulings, regulations, taxes, duties, levies, tariffs – control our every move, and milk us dry.

I told him that he was right – in a way – but it all started here.  Politicians are just the mouthpiece, the head of the ventriloquist’s dummy.  This is corporate America, the center of the real power behind the throne.

You don’t think Donald Trump got elected on his intellect and wit.  Those aren’t telephone lines coming from those castles; they’re marionette strings, pulled by the puppet-masters.  Speak Donald!  Dance Donald!

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Book Review #15

robert-a-heinlein

The Book – Robert A. Heinlein

The Author – William H. Patterson Jr.

The Review –

This is the second of a two-part complete biography of one of the most important, seminal authors (not merely of Science-Fiction) of the 20th Century.  BrainRants made me aware of Part 1 last year, and recently, another blogger reminded me that book two was available.

The complete title is, Robert A. Heinlein – In Conversation With His Century.  That needs to be remembered when accessing library or bookstore web catalogs.  Enter only ‘Robert A. Heinlein,’ and you get, We have 800 listings for Robert Heinlein, which one did you want? I want the one written by Patterson.  The sub-title of Volume 1 was ‘Learning Curve.’  The sub-title of this Volume is, ‘The Man Who Learned Better.’  It covers his career from 1948 to 1988.

For someone like me, used to reading novels, with their character development and plot twists, reading this tome was a ….learning curve. Were it not for its subject, it would be as exciting as reading a telephone book.  (Remember those?)  But this was a man who met and talked to Presidents and Prime Ministers; who awed, and was adored by, astronauts who went into space and walked on the Moon, and scientists who put them there, and a probe on Mars.

I see why those with little intellect, or lives of their own, hang on every video-provided nuance of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” The author casts a very fine net, down to what Heinlein had for breakfast on particular days. Scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and toast on April 17, 1957.

The ‘Rich And Famous Lifestyle’ of a profoundly successful author is not all that we might imagine – or rather, it’s far more than many of us would want. Not only did Heinlein (and many like him) have to keep grinding out grist for the publishing mill, but he had to keep in constant touch with lawyers, editors, publishers and agents.

He had a New York agent, a California agent, and a European agent. There was an agent who failed to promote Heinlein’s work.  There was an over-zealous NY agent who invaded the California agent’s territory long-distance.  There were editors who revised his works without his permission, or even his knowledge in a couple of cases, completely changing the thrust of a story.

Agents sold rights to stories they were not authorized to do. Publishers printed work they had not paid for. He lost money twice in the movie industry, when projects collapsed.  One studio used creative bookkeeping to withhold payments for a successful movie, while another simply pirated his idea, and retitled it.  Which brings us back to the lawyers.

Back before the internet, he had to deal with most of this at the speed of ink. When he moved to Colorado, he was on a party-line telephone with six neighbors for over a year.  One of his later notes said that he finally had to give up helping fans with theses, term papers, and dissertations.

He corresponded with other authors, giving and receiving commendations and inspiration for story lines. Occasionally, he would pen a promo or review for another writer.  While he pumped out a stupendous amount of prose during his working life, it was far overshadowed by the mass of mundane, unpaid writing he had to do.

‘All You Zombies’ is considered one of the greatest short-stories ever written. A time-travelling hermaphrodite becomes his/her own mother, father, and child.  It was written as a submission to Playboy Magazine, who turned it down – because of the implied sex??!

As a way to give back to a country he cared very much for, Heinlein did at least two important things. He promoted and supported NASA, and the space program.  While many civilians complained about the waste of money, Heinlein knew that every dollar invested in NASA returned $14 to the economy – and that was even before the Silicon Valley bubble, powered by the newly developed micro-processors.

He had had a variety of medical afflictions over the years, and had a very rare blood type. His life had been saved at least twice by transfusions provided by the Rare Blood Association.  He established grassroots blood donor clinic organizations, and he helped make the likes of Rare Blood, and the American Red Cross stronger and more efficient, donating both expertise and money.

While the book could seem dry and tedious, the life of the man it revealed was just awe-inspiring. I am glad I spent the time and patience.  I highly recommend the pair.

Screw You

SDC10824 SDC10822

This is another in the series of ‘Old Shit I Own.’ Do any of you know what this thing is, or what it was used for?  It’s another piece of long-lost memorabilia I discovered in the protracted Autumn Housecleaning.

The younger ones in my readership may find this hard to believe but, there was a time, not that long ago, when homes were not provided with numerous electrical outlets – or power points, or even wireless recharging of all those indispensible electronic gadgets.

This is a screw plug. It was used in rooms of homes where there might not be even one wall-socket electrical outlet.  You unscrewed the light bulb from an overhead fixture, screwed this in instead, and had a place to plug in things like my Mother’s washing machine, which rolled out to the middle of the room on little wheels.

Double socket

The problem then was, all work had to be done during the day, or the room would be dark. That problem was quickly solved by the development of the above little gadget.  You could screw the bulb back in to see what you were doing, and insert the socket on the other side of the Y.  I used one of them for a while, until I managed to install a light fixture over my basement workbench.

I know I am truly older than dirt, and born and raised out on the frontiers of the universe. I was too young to do so, but I have seen people using telephones which were a big box on the wall, with a speaking funnel on the front, and an earpiece dangling from the hang-up hook on one side.  You picked up the earpiece and turned a little crank on the other side, which attracted the attention of a real, live, operator.

CFL Bulb

Edison’s incandescent light bulbs, with an output of 60 watts or more, have been outlawed in Ontario, and replaced with CFL Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, or now the LED style which produces more light and less heat, and save power. The only thing more ancient than incandescent, may be wall sconces with flaming torches – and you can’t plug a radio into one of those.

Out Of Touch

The good little New York, Jewish son called his momma every day while she wintered in Florida.  One day, in the middle of a conversation, he realised he couldn’t hear her.  He began clicking the hang-up button, and shouting, “Momma!  Momma, are you there?  Can you hear me?”  A technician, obviously aware of a problem on the lines, cut in and said to him, “I’m sorry sir.  You’ve been cut off.”  He replied, “I know, but should that affect my hearing?”

I don’t know how you “connected” people do it.  We were cut off from reality for a couple of days, (no smartass comments, please) and I was amazed at what I’ve grown used to, and reliant on.  The third novel of the Jack Reacher series arrived as an e-book, from the library.  The wife downloaded it to her laptop, and proceeded to put it on the son’s old Kobo, so that I could read it at my convenience.

The Kobo accepted the download, and she directed it to present it for reading.  “Restarting,” and then, nothing!   She plugged it back into the computer, but the computer wouldn’t even recognize it.  Took the little pin out, and poked it in the Reset hole in the back, poked it in the hole twice, three times, pushed it in and held it for ten seconds.  Did I mention, Nothing??!

Took it over to the electronics store.  The “Expert,” who was only a fetus last week, did exactly what we had done and then shook his head.  Apparently, the Kobo site mentions, “bricking,” where all the programs, and downloads, and commands, somehow run together, and jam the unit.  Even leaving it for six months for the battery to run down for a cold reboot, might not unjam it.  We decided to buy another one.  We thought of trading up, but decided to take a brand-new copy of the five-year-old tantrum-thrower.

We took it home.  The wife downloaded the Kobo library program to it.  It said, “Restarting,” and froze!  Damn, damn, damn!!!  The wife went to lift her laptop, and couldn’t hear the fan running in the cooling pad.  (See damn, damn, damn, above!)  Back to the electronics store the next day, for a no-charge replacement, and a $25 cooling pad.  Third time’s the charm, and I’m finally reading Reacher.

I took the wife to a Podiatric appointment Monday.  When we got home, she tried to phone the daughter.  No dial tone!  That meant that somebody, whose name is ME, had to ensure that every phone in the house is firmly on the hook.  Sometimes, the cats order pizza, while we’re out.  All phones a-okay, must mean it’s a Bell problem outside, so the wife punched in 611 on her cell phone, to reach Bell.

The home phone is Bell, but her mobile plan is with Telus, so she got the Telus office.  We’ve had problems with Bell services before, so we know the drill.  Again, ME, went around the house and unplugged all the phones except the last one used, (we know that one works!) including the DSL computer modem.  She dialled 310-BELL, and prepared to play the game.  Unplug all phones, including computer feed.  Done!  Plug back in a phone you’re sure works.  Done!   No dial tone.  The problem’s probably outside, but Bell has no other complaint, or work being done in our area.

The computer feed was working, but the phones weren’t.  How, and why unplug it?  Imagine two pipes, coming to a tee, and feeding the same tap.  Okay, then why unplug the computer?  That line may be affecting the phone line.  We need you to be home.  When would it be convenient to send out a tech?

We have appointments Tuesday and Thursday.  Could you come on Wednesday?  Sure, no problem.  The son works midnights, and hopes to sleep all day.   And if the problem’s  outside, why do we need to be home?  Bell might have to enter the house.  Okay, we hope to not see you on Wednesday.

We went to a chiropractor Tuesday morning and Costco in the afternoon.  When the son got up Tuesday evening, he told us that Bell had fixed the problem externally, and then rang the doorbell about 2:00 PM, which set the dog off, which partly woke him up, to hear the one phone ringing.  He trudged down the hall to the computer room, and heard the dog barking on the phone.  The repair tech was still outside.

We asked for a specific day and time, for a specific reason.  It was nice to get our phones and computer back a day early, but, while it was super-efficient, it was bureaucratically unreliable.  Just as we were preparing dinner, the phone rang.  It was Habibi – sorry, “Kevin” – wanting to clean my ducts.  Oh joy!  It’s a good thing we’re on that Do Not Call List.

We don’t Facebook.  We don’t Twitter, and we can live without telemarketers.  I was only without my blog, and the internet, for a little over one day.  No reading others’ posts, no comments, no likes, no online crossword, no definitions, no translation, no MapQuest, no researching arcane trivia.  I was going mad, I tell you, MAD!  For a disconnected old curmudgeon, apparently I need a lot of connecting – but I’m not getting a Bluetooth.  Even Putin thinks they’re gay.

Now that I’m back online, anybody got a comment?  Wanna click my Like button?  Anybody??  I’m feeling very lonely, and unloved, and disconnected over here.