Who’s the brains of this gang?

I’ve received something like 30 copies of this pump-and-dump scam spam over the past two days, all identical except for the forged sender names:

Alright, let’s get right to it…

We’ve been out of touch for a while. I’ve been very busy looking for the next big stock that has the potential to explode and it took me months to find one.

If I can be honest, this one came to me as a god send. I got lucky. I have this friend who works at a law firm in NYC and we’ve known each other for a very long time.

Long story short, he told me that his firm is about to finalize a big takeover by a multibillion corporation. They’re buying this tiny company that is now trading at just around 10 cents a share.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard him say that they’re paying somewhere between $1.30 and $1.39 for the company. The deal is closing and being announced mid next week.

I could get into what the company does, but who really cares right? All we need to know is that they are in the high tech industry and that this is going to be a huge buyout.

I recommend you buy shares as soon as possible today and wait it out until you get paid over $1.30 next week. The way takeovers work is that they will just credit this price per share, in cash, to your brokerage account and in exchange will take the shares that you bought at just pennies.

I may never have another tip like this, so cash in on it while you still can.

Did you notice anything peculiar about this message?

The guy needs you to buy this do-nothing stock so you’ll artificially drive up the price for him, he can dump his holdings before the inevitable price correction, and he will walk away with a nice little profit while you get screwed.

Only one little problem: he forgot to mention what stock it is he needs you to buy.

I didn’t edit it out of the quoted mail so as not to give free publicity to the scammer — it was simply never there!

I have to chuckle at the idea of the scam-master paying good money to hire a spambot-herder to get his message out, and paying for millions of e-mail messages that are absolutely useless to him.

Spammers.  You can’t live with ’em, and you can’t kill ’em.  Yet.

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A slur in time

An aphorism of which I have always been particularly fond states that “isolationist” is a term created by imperialists to denigrate noninterventionists.

With the advent of President Donald Trump, a new version suggests itself: “populism” is a term created by authoritarians to denigrate democracy that thwarts their agenda.

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And now for something completely different…

1994: Citing the factoid that there are “more gun dealers in America than gas stations,” Bill Clinton announces new regulations that result in four out of five existing Federal Firearms Licensees nationwide losing their licenses, on the basis that they are hobbyists and not bona fide commercial entities. The act is lauded as the harbinger of a new and hopeful age in which violent crime will be reduced.

2016:  Barack Obama pledges to require any private gun owner who sells an arbitrary and explicitly unspecified number of guns per year (sometimes as few as “one or two”) to obtain a Federal Firearms License. The act is lauded as the harbinger of a new and hopeful age in which violent crime will be reduced.

Big-government socialists: whipsawing your life on a whim and a pretext, with vain promises to get it right yet one more time.  (They’ll never get it right.)

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ChannelMaster DVR+ Announced

Earlier, I blogged about the abysmal quality and user interface of the ChannelMaster CM7400 Over-The-Air DVR.

Last week, I received an announcement from ChannelMaster for their new DVR+ product, an upgraded unit for the same application. There are a few differences:
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Error: Fatal Error in Error Reporting; Please Report This Error!

If stupidity came in styles, like prose and poetry do, this would be a Stupidity Haiku:


Better yet, if stupidity were music, this would be a “round,” like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.

(In case it’s not obvious to the non-technical reader, this “bounce” message was returned for mail sent to Postmaster@cox.net.)

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Here are two current model First Alert™ smoke detectors, placed as someone might mount them on their bedroom wall. What’s wrong with this picture?


Answer: The smoke detector on the left is mounted in an improper orientation.

That’s right—according to the instructions, which are very specific about this, this smoke detector is to be mounted only in the orientation shown to the right: logo inexplicably sideways, with all visual features presented asymmetrically.

What has happened to a manufacturer’s pride in his product? Is it even rational to believe that it was technically impossible to design the guts of this detector in the proper orientation to work, while simultaneously constructing a cover for it that doesn’t immediately do violence to everyone’s most primal aesthetic sensibilities? Is the company not even ashamed to have its own corporate logo running in an awkward direction on its own product for absolutely no logical reason?

Of course, as a consumer, the final insult in this product is the curse of being forever judged by every future houseguest to be a doofus-class handyman who doesn’t even care enough to mount a smoke detector “correctly.”

Next time I’m in the market for life safety equipment, I believe I’m going to pass on buying any product made by a company whose whole design ethic fairly screams, “We just don’t care.”

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Review: ChannelMaster CM7400 OTA DVR

Though I’ve been a technology careerist my entire life, I’m not one of those consumer types who just has to replace older gear that is perfectly adequate to my needs simply in order to have the newest gadgets. So it wasn’t until a couple months ago, when my long-suffering VCR began failing, that I began looking for a digital video recorder (DVR).

To further cement my image as a dinosaur, let me mention that my TV service is over-the-air (OTA) exclusively. First off, I’ve never lived anywhere where cable (or pizza delivery) was available; and as for satellite, I subscribe to the philosophy of Fred Reed, who once observed that “if the good lord chose to make idiots, that was his business, but I wasn’t going to pay thirty bucks a month to look at them.” The Phoenix area has a plethora of digital OTA stations and networks, and they do for me just fine.

For whatever reason, those of us looking for an subscription-free OTA-capable DVR have really only one choice available in the marketplace, and that’s the ChannelMaster CM7400. [Update, 4/2014: This is no longer the case. The TiVo line now records OTA, and is so much better.]

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