Sunday, March 15

My Iranian friend Taghi Amirani describes his meeting Presidential candidate Barack Obama last October in Londonderry, NH.

I fear the stories of radical Islams in Iran, but I also have some great friends from Iran, and I know their country (like all countries) has wonderful people.

I look forward to the day of secular states with equal educational rights for all people, including both boys and girls, and an open press and internet so all people can learn unbiased truth from each other.

Yet while I wait for change in other states, such as Iran, what changes do I need in our own country? The biggest change I want is the further decline in xenophobia, and increased interactions across different peoples.

When I read posts such as that one from Taghi, it gives me hope.
12:23 PM

Friday, March 6

How to hack credit cards. (I post this about once a year or so.)

I just got the following voice mail message:

"Hello, this message is from the Card Services Security Department in regard to possible suspicious activity on your account. As a benefit, we monitor your account for fraudulent activity and need to verify some recent transactions. It is important that we speak to you as soon as possible to ensure continued use of your account. Please return our call to 1-800-383-0618 at your earliest convenience. Thank you for choosing Card Services."

When I called that number, it asked me to enter my 16 digit credit card number, my home phone number, and my birthday.

So if you want to hack credit cards, just setup your computer to leave the exact same message -- but with a temporary anonymous phone number you control -- on the answering machines of thousands of people.

When they call you back, give them the same prompts as above. And maybe throw in a question about their social security number as well.

Then capture that info, along with the name on their callerID, and use that info to place false charges against their card and/or to open up new credit accounts.

Banks, are you listening? Do *not* leave messages as above, as you are simply training your customers to become victims of credit card scams.

Do not ever leave a voice mail with a phone number for consumers to call. Instead, ask them to call the number on the back of their Citibank (or whatever) Mastercard (or whatever). That way you will train your customers to only call your actual number as opposed to any random number someone leaves on their answering machine.
6:09 PM

Tuesday, March 3

Bush Freudian slip. Is it evil to find this humorous? :) But of the thousands of Bush youtube videos over the years, including speeches given while drunk, the most interesting one to me was a video comparing his excellent verbal skills while governor compared to his very poor vocabulary and speech when he was president. I'd not be surprised if Bush had one of the largest declines in quality of speech (and thought?) during a presidency. (And I'm sure many folks are looking forward to some screwed up speeches by Obama too!:)
7:29 AM

Monday, March 2

Facebook killing blogs? I just spent some time going through my blogroll list of friend blogs from a couple years ago. Half of my friends are no longer blogging.

I wonder how much Facebook status updates, and to a lesser degree, twitter, are killing the desire to blog? Facebook status updates are of course much briefer than a blog, but they are so easy to do, and the newsfeed is such a simple place to in one place see what your friends are up to. (And unlike most blogs, Facebook has your status updates available only to your friends, vs. to anyone on the web.)

8:43 AM

Sunday, March 1 released our iPhone travel application today! Please try it and let me know what you think, especially if you have any suggestions. (Thanks christian and billo.)
10:00 AM

Monday, January 12

Fake Amazon Reviews. What to do about them? I'm finding more and more of these fake reviews on Amazon, where it appears that the company who makes the product gets several people to post glowing but fake reviews. I've discussed this with several friends, many of whom have also encountered this. This depresses me, as I used to think the best part of Amazon was the reviews. You can read through the most negative reviews (in addition to the most positive) to get a sense of possible negatives of a product which otherwise gets "glowing" reviews. And also perhaps trust the "Real Name" reviews a little bit more than ones posted with just a screen name, but I'm finding even the Real Name reviews are often shills.

I wonder if there are already fake review services popping up on the web. I could even imagine some offshore company offering to post fake Amazon reviews on your product. You could pay $5 for each fake review and $10 for each fake review using a "Real Name".

What solutions might Amazon bring to this?

Possibly the number of orders and money spent by a customer should factor into the "weight" of their reviews.

I did see an amusing attempt by one frustrated review reader -- he created an Amazon "tag" called "fake reviews from company shills" -- HAHAHAHA. However, it has only been used on a few products so far.

Maybe to publish this approach more widely, someone could crate a Firefox plugin called "Amazon Cleaner" which simply created a browser button to tag the current review as a shill? (Of course, this could be used by a company to mark all positive reviews of competitor products as shills. Damn.)

Other ideas?
6:17 AM

Monday, September 29

I've been getting lots of spam from different companies using email services. So I just called cvent at 866-318-4358 and asked for their Chief Privacy Officer (CPO). The woman on the phone was very elusive, and asked if she could remove my email from their list. When I said no, I wanted to speak with their CPO, she instead gave me the email address I asked if their CPO had a name. She covered the phone receiver and I could hear her whispering to someone next to her. Then she said "Dwayne Sye". I asked if he had a phone number, and she said she could only give me his email address. Hmm.
10:35 AM


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