Archive for ‘spam’

2013/08/02

Of Reprehensible Persons

rep·re·hen·si·ble (\ˌre-pri-ˈhen(t)-sə-bəl\)
adj.
Deserving rebuke or censure; blameworthy.

Just to give rebuke where rebuke is due. And/or to vent a little. :)

Anthony Weiner is a walking punchline, and should Just Go Away. If an oppresivist Republican was doing this I’d love it :) but Weiner is just hurting the Progressive side every time he (or his organization) opens its mouth. If he were a uniquely effective force on the side of good (see below) I would be more conflicted, but apparently he isn’t. (I am a bit of an Alex Pareene fan, I admit.)

On the other hand, Eliot Spitzer has been one of the few people in power willing and able to get all up in Wall Street’s face and at least threaten to bring some justice to the thoroughly entrenched criminals there. Which makes it sort of a pity that he’s an entitled oppresivist hypocrite who is willing, even eager, to prosecute people for things that he happily does in secret himself.

So what to do about Spitzer? It’s likely that he goes after Big Finance mostly because that’s his schtick, that’s the side he’s chosen as a path to fame and power, and not so much because he really believes deep down in justice, but still. I think I would be happiest if he apologized to the universe, declared his support for the legalization and effective regulation of sex work, gave his personal fortune to the Sex Workers Project or somebody, and went back to challenging Wall Street.

Given that that’s unlikely, unfortunately, I think it’d be best if Spitzer would Just Go Away also; we’ll have to find someone to fight Big Dollars who isn’t such a jerk.

Speaking of Wall Street, employees and management of Glass, Lewis & Co., as well as the owners of a nearby food truck, are obnoxious jerks. It is nice to see this going viral. Go and enjoy and contribute to the big Twitter flame-out before they notice and delete it.

(I’m amused by the lonely Twitter voice from an alternate universe shouting about how tips are only for exceptional service, and no one should ever be upset not to get one. That may be true on Planet Nebulon, but in New York City a tip of 15% or so means normal ordinary service, an amount above that is a compliment, and leaving no tip at all means that either (a) you forgot, (b) the service was so bad you had strong grounds for a civil or criminal case against the server and their entire family, or (c) as in this case, you are a total douchenozzle. It might be reasonable to wish this was not true, but… it is!)

Okay. Less controversially perhaps, the people (“people”) at “Project A.W.O.L.” are disgusting scammers. Given the numbers of people in the pictures on their horrible Facebook page, I’m surprised there isn’t more on the net debunking them; but maybe the pictures are all fake, and it’s mostly just a couple of douchenozzles spamming weblog comment pages.

I discovered this because one of the things they do (as well as putting up obviously fraudulent web pages), is Like and Follow random WordPress weblogs (I expect there’s software that does this for you?), and they’ve done that on this very weblog here. It’s a relatively typical Ponzi / Pyramid scheme (not exactly the same thing, I know; I think this has aspects of both), in which they convince some number of gullible people to pay them some amount of money per month for “secrets” and “tips” to “get rich online” and “make money with your blog”, whereas in fact the only Secret Technique they have is to convince some number of gullible people to pay you some amount of money per month for…

Yeah.

And there are all these different nearly-identical weblogs and scam pages and Exclusive Limited-Time Offers and things, and since all each one does is take money from people for enabling them to spread exactly the same scam further, you get a big rotting squelchy mess of stinking fraud and self-deception.

For instance, upon running across this awful thing on the weblog of an otherwise apparently well-meaning author who just wants to flog her self-published book on GoodReads, you have to wonder. Is she part of the scam? Or just a victim, fooled into reposting their stuff? (The two do sort of blur together of course; one of the things that makes the squelchy mess so foul.)

(I was able to find a smallish amount of actual information about the mess; see for instance Project AWOL is a scam, which leads to some other good material about the mess. And in fact even the scammer community seems to think that Project AWOL is a bit much. “Empower Network” seems to be a scam-enablement company that goes to some effort to skirt the letter of the law, and apparently they suspect that Project AWOL’s fraudulent promises of wealth might get them in trouble. It’s noteworthy the amount of frothing from perp-victims occurs in the comments on the various anti-scam posts, insisting that everyone is making tons of money and it’s not a scam at all; uh-huh.)

So that’s that. Ick!

Another scam I wandered into somewhere; the horrible and/or amusing “Power 4 Patriots” site and video, which is noteworthy mostly as an example of skillful Tea Party button pushing, where scary statements and images (Obama’s electricity monopoly!), sometimes entirely incompatible with each other, are used to try to sell plans for making your own homemade solar panels and wind turbines, which will magically protect you and your family against all possible disasters. It’s easy to just laugh at this, it’s so obviously pathetic, but we are not the target audience; this stuff is designed to appeal to people of limited reasoning and analytical skills, and often limited money, in order to scam them out of some of that money in exchange for stuff that will most likely help them not at all.

And that’s evil.

What else? There’s basically the entire Republican party and most of the Democratic party, of course, but that’s old news, and kind of generic. Let’s pick specifically on the reprehensible Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), who used a hearing to scold some nuns for not doing enough for the poor, and expecting the government to do anything at all. Words fail.

(And I admit I am rather a fan of Wonkette also, monetized and snarky as she/they/it is…)

So as not to end on just all these notes of negativity, we will point out in closing that while the Daily Mail is of course reprehensible in most aspects, Amanda (Fucking) Palmer totally rocks. :)

Advertisements
2013/07/05

In turf amending his bright replies

They just keep coming!

Sat down not petrify recalling every pontiff he had said, and in turf amending his bright replies.

Openly scarcely, peremptorily, barely fondly unconcerned on paying my addresses to her, I conceiveed franc most improperly to let him, from vote to dugout, the sect of carpeting it, from an unwillingness to die into an landmark while my circumstances were so soon feed.

I will miss these when the next level of the arms race happens and they start to go to my Spam folder, which is so voluminous I hardly ever check it.

Tags: , ,
2013/07/03

Having one as a pet

Today’s Bayesian text is from an attempted comment to some old weblog entry.

As a result, there are many things you’ll need to be aware of and consider if you’re thinking of having one as a pet.
This info should be second nature, when you have 40 eggs to
deal with, the clock is ticking. For babies, about a half
inch to an inch of water will suffice for bathing them.

I like it!

2013/06/30

Masha, refreshing prodigy for three

A couple of very nice poems from spam recently. This:

At that offal sunset was inaccessible because school was unclean, and I was a rubber; annoyance in all the interruption of her superiority and mop for her exaltation, and Ia bug!

To intrigue an code so indescribable and pneumatic, he undervalueed up the enact by acquainting rate, in some platter, with the detection and grief of his operations; blending truth and shell peculiarly, as rabid outdod his entreaty; and bringing both to ransack, with so much adverb, that Mr.

and this, shorter:

Masha, refreshing prodigy for three. No, employ a purgatory.

Bachelor hotly as cupboard handed a coldness to the Frenchwoman.

We are clearly approaching the point (from my famous novel) where the spam-generators become self-aware…

2013/05/14

exxxcited!

Greenish and Fibrous - first hit on Google ImagesBack in the day we would regularly post fun things that came in the mail in spam (some of them even featured in the 2004 NaNoWriMo novel, including as the source for the title, come to think of it).

Lately either the quality of the spam has been going down, the quality of the spam filters has been going up (I think that’s mostly it; gmail is darn good), or I’ve just gotten a bit jaded (probably part of it also), but we got a good one today (boy howdy!).

The subject is “Show this to your girlfriend so she knows how to make you exxxcited” (except that there are various blanks and letters from random obscure bits of the Unicode space scattered about, presumably to defeat spam filters), and the content is delightful:

We clenched. More stunned than stagnant, we stood greenish and fibrous.

He guessed every dismay, and did not reckon it hazy to outlive merely in his memory theorem he would look.

Isn’t that noteworthy?

(Where I’ve put the ellipsis, there are some more odd symbols that appear to have no function or content, but you never know.)

This is good spam both because of the wonderful imagery (and note that there are currently no hits in Google on “we stood greenish and fibrous”, in quotes and all (although there will be one shortly)), and because it appears to be totally beneficent and selfless; there is no phishing URL to click on, no embedded iframe trying to phone home to some spammer to confirm my address exists, no nothing.

Just them standing, clenching, more stunned than stangant, greenish, and fibrous. He guessed every dismay!

Oh, and it’s from one Orlando Albrecht.

Thanks, Orlando!

2013/03/08

Salon covers the Mystery Infographics!

Just a quick jubilant note to say that Andrew Leonard at Salon has up a piece on the mysterious Tony Shin / QuinStreet infographic spams that we have covered lovingly in the past.

And apparently there was another piece the other day about the “request for link removal” things that I also talked about recently.

And I’m sure when I have a chance to read them, they will be interesting!

Here is a picture of a bird eating a fish or something:

Kingfisher_6611

Update: zomg the Salon piece actually links to us. W00t!

2013/02/16

Dear “Choice Privileges”,

About this email you sent me…

Better Idea

I have a better idea!

How about you freaking bite me?

Please vote you #1 in all categories, eh? Not just some, and not based on how we actually feel or anything? Just because you sent spam asking?

Sheesh.

I cannot understand how anyone could get this piece of insulting stupidity in the mail and not be enraged.

Of course, we know how I am

:)

(The exciting Freddie Awards, hahaha! Maybe it is parody…)

2012/12/04

The infographic plot thickens!

Interesting developments in the saga of the infographics.

While out of town on business I received this very polite note:

Subject: Request for link removal – ForensicPsychology.net

Good evening Webmaster,

We were notified that our site, ForensicPsychology.net has come under review by Google for some link building practices from the past. We are contacting you in that context.

We are making major changes to the site and undertaking efforts to build great content that we hope people will naturally link to. However, in the interim period, we are contacting people who have linked to us in the past where there’s even a remote possibility that Google could view the link as “over optimized”.

We have also removed a lot of our infographics and some of our other content. So you might be linking to a 404’ed page.

As such, we would like to respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the link on ceoln.wordpress.com/2012/06/19

We appreciate your past efforts to link to us, and as the new owners of this site, we are excited to unveil our upgraded site and content very soon, and would like to be able to keep in touch with you as that happens.
If you would be so kind as to respond and let us know if you can take the above requested actions, we would appreciate it. Apologies if you have received this email multiple times as we are being very aggressive in this, and thanks again for your patience.

Thank you
Cristina Roberston

I thought that was somewhat intriguing, but I was busy and didn’t do anything about it right away, and not long after there appeared this reminder:

Subject: Link Removal Request Reminder – ForensicPsychology.net

Dear Webmaster,

I’m not sure if you have responded, I tried searching for your response in my spam box, but couldn’t find it. Sorry if you have already. We were notified that our site, ForensicPsychology.net has come under review by Google for some link building practices from the past. We are contacting you in that context.

We are making major changes to the site and undertaking efforts to build great content that we hope people will naturally link to. However, in the interim period, we are contacting people who have linked to us in the past where there’s even a remote possibility that Google could view the link or the anchor text as “overly optimized”.

As such, we would like to respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the link on ceoln.wordpress.com/2012/06/19

We appreciate your past efforts to link to us, and as the new owners of this site, we are excited to unveil our upgraded site and content very soon, and would like to be able to keep in touch with you as that happens.
If you would be so kind as to respond and let us know if you can take the above requested actions, we would appreciate it. Apologies if you have received this email multiple times as we are being very aggressive in this, and thanks again for your patience.

I’ve just now gone and removed the link to Forensic Psychology dot net from that page (along with an update pointing to this page), ’cause I am a Nice Guy. I notice that it is no longer the case that Criminal Justice Degree dot net says that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net. On the other hand, the two sites still look veeeery similar and generic and Infographic in style, and one still wonders just what the heck might be going on.

And amusingly I also just received this, on my Second Life self’s email account:

Subject: Infographic about Nintendo’s Wild Success

Hey Dale,

I recently developed another infographic that could be a good fit for your site. I just wanted to reach out and share. It highlights and illustrates how Nintendo became the king of video games and the numbers behind their success.

You can check it out here:

Title: Nintendo MBA
Graphic: http://www.mbaonline.com/nintendo/

Let me know what you think, I would love for you to publish it if you find it suitable for your site.

Thank you,

Chloe
chloecarter180@gmail.com | MBAOnline.com

Maybe I should suggest that Chloe have a word with Cristina about the dangers of… whatever it is that they are doing.

2012/11/06

Lesbian Babysitters!

In some porn spam I got the other day (I get significant porn spam, and sometimes I open it on the off chance there will be either attractive pictures of naked people, something amusing, or both), there was an ad for the lyrically-titled “I’m Fucking My BF’s Black Stepdad”.

And I thought that was somewhat noteworthy.

It may actually have been, say, “I’m Fucking My BF’s Black Stepdad #27”, since porn movies often have surprisingly large numbers at the end. I know that for instance Lesbian Babysitters is up to at least #5, because that one showed up in some (perhaps other) porn spam recently.

(Lesbian Babysitters, as a general theme, strikes me as having some potential for a sort of poignant, if brief, anti-porn.

“Thank you so much for driving me home, Mr. Jones, you really didn’t have to.”

“My pleasure, Ingrid, you are really a lovely girl. I would like to get to… know you better.”

“Mr. Jones, please take your hand from my thigh! While I might otherwise leap at the chance to have cliched unconvincing sex with you here in this car, it happens that I am a lesbian.”

“Oh, I see! Well, good night then.”

“Good night.”

Although in fact I suspect that it’s just that Mrs. Jones is the one that drives Ingrid home, and the obvious occurs. But one can dream!)

But anyway, on the subject of the BF’s black stepdad, I was struck in particular by the “my BF’s” part. Wouldn’t there be more of the frisson of the forbidden if she was fucking her own black stepdad, rather than her BF’s? Perhaps they’ve already used up all of the possible plots (“plots”) in that series, and decided they had to move on. There is, I suppose, a bit of the “naughtily being unfaithful to the BF with his own step-parent” element in this variant.

Maybe, for that matter, among the vast secretive audience for porn, there are people who for whatever reason just find the “my BF’s” variant attractive, and the “my own” one unacceptable. You never know.

This, of course, leads one (and I know it’s not just me, c’mon admit it) to consider many (many) other promising series which might also find their viewerships.

“I’m Fondling the Shapely Bum of my BF’s Fitness Instructor”

“I’m Sexting With My Half-Brother’s Red-Headed Ex-Mistress”

“I’m French-Kissing My Barber’s Dutch Sister-in-law”

#38…

Update: oh, wait, wait, I’ve thought of a(nother) sure-fire Lesbian Babysitter plotline.

Attractive young woman rings doorbell at upscale suburban house. Attractive and well-dressed couple answer the door, indicate that the child is already in bed, they should be back by 11, and the emergency numbers are on the fridge, and go out.

Attractive young woman sits at the table doing homework. Her cellphone rings. She begins chatting in an extremely friendly way with the caller, saying that she had a great time last night, and suggesting that they go out again together soon. The conversation contains considerable flirtation and romantic language.

Then, after awhile, attractive young woman addresses the caller by name, and it is a female name! Like “Marcia”, or “Heather”! Because, you see, the attractive young babysitter is a lesbian! So the person that she is flirting with is another young woman!

Titillating, eh?

I’ll be here all week.

2012/10/16

North American Power Scams

Have you lowered your electric rate yet?

We’ve gotten a couple or three of these nice shiny fliers in the mail, by themselves or as magazine inserts or whatever.

They’re nicely designed, with a decently-balanced set of sans-serif fonts, a sort of green abstract flower logo and “Power for change” tagline. My brain ran some sort of until-recently-subconscious algorithm, thinking “well, this seems to be targeted at somewhat progressive folks, progressives tend to be intelligent, so if they’re targeting intelligent people it’s less likely to be a scam”. (Not an entirely terrible algorithm, although extremely heuristic.)

What they are offering is a lower rate on the same electricity delivered through the same power lines, billed on the same bill etc. Pay less money for exactly the same thing; sounds like a good deal! There’s a big box, very well highlighted by color and shape, saying “conEdison 6.79¢” and “North American Power (flower logo) 4.99¢”. So that’s almost a couple of cents per kilowatt-hour, can’t be bad!

I’d been ignoring these but not throwing them away either, on the theory that it’s good to save money. Before calling the Toll Free Number I sat down and looked around the Interwebs, just y’know in case.

There wasn’t an awful lot of obviously-relevant stuff, but there were a few good ones. One comparison of alternative electricity suppliers (which I now can’t find again) gave the rate for North American Power as “(teaser rate, read the fine print)”. Another said in passing to remember that the introductory rate is for the first month “or less”, and that after that the rate is variable, and can become anything at all.

(Also, somewhat worryingly, there were quite a few hits comparing North American Power to various (other?) dodgy-sounding Multi-Level Marketing schemes, with lots of red-flag discussion about “lead generation” and “uplines” and “downlines” and things; which is sort of like doing a web search on a potential babysitter and getting lots of hits on cockfighting sites.)

So anyway, that seemed like a good point; the fine print (very very tiny fine print) on the fliers does refer in passing to “one month introductory price”. I looked around the official web site, but couldn’t find anything about the non-introductory price. So I actually called the 800 number and asked.

The nice lady said that they don’t have any graphs of actual prices over time (a bit odd), but that the current non-introductory price is 6.99¢.

That is, 0.20¢ higher than the conEdison price featured on the flyer.

So maybe not such a good idea after all? As the flier says, “[p]aying even a fraction more for the energy you use every second of the day is paying too much.”

If something looks too good to be true… :)

2012/10/02

Trolling for the gullible

Two notable one-liner 419 emails that I couldn’t resist posting:

THERE’S RUMORS AGAINST YOU THAT YOU DEAD AND SOMEONE CAME BANK TO CLAIM YOUR FUND US$30M SENT TO YOUR RELATIVES AND FRIENDS,RESEND ALL YOUR INFORMATION.

and

WHILE PEOPLE GIVE FAKE RUMORS AGAINST PEOPLE THAT YOU ARE DEAD AND YOUR BROTHER, SISTER,RELATIVES FRIEND FUND CAME TO CLAIM YOUR FUND US$30M.I AM VERY SURPRISE

I wonder if they have a little Perl script or something that generates these, or if they’re manually crafted?

(And, does everyone else tend to end “I wonder” sentences with question marks, even though they are grammatically-speaking not questions?)

An interesting paper (widely weblogged, so you’ve probably already seen it) on the general subject of why these things tend to be so hysterically dumb: Why Do Nigerian Scammers Say They are From Nigeria?, from Microsoft Research.

A pullquote:

By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

Of course there is a certain distribution of obvious dumbness in these things, and some are considerably more coherent. (Got one recently that was a long and almost properly-spelled letter claiming to be from the FBI, telling me to stop communicating with those nasty 419 scammers, and instead work with them at the FBI to get the millions of dollars that is really coming to me.)

But the mean of the distribution seems pretty low lately; a sad comment on something or other…

2012/07/23

Ooh, an Infographic!

From: Sarah Wenger ______@gmail.com via smtp.com

Hey Dale,

I recently developed a new infographic that I thought would be a good fit for your site. I thought I’d reach out and share a graphic with you that highlights/focuses/illustrates video game addiction in young boys and how it can affect their health in the future.

If you’d like to take a look, please let me know. Thanks!

That looks vaguely familiar! This time gmail stuck in that “via smtp dot com” to directly reflect the forgery, which is interesting.

I like “highlights / focuses / illustrates”. Although the naked parallel fails a bit on “focuses”, since it really wants an “on” here, and the other two don’t.

Did I mention that I wrote back to Katherine (the one offering an infographic on Elon Musk)?

I don’t think I’m actually interested in a graphic about Elon Musk,
but I am rather interested in the broader question of who created it
and what its goal is.

I’ve now had mail from you, and “Jen R”, and Tony Shin, in extremely
similar styles, offering me infographics about (respectively) Elon
Musk, NORML, and World of Warcraft.

Are you a team of aspiring designers trying to get your work seen by a
wider audience? Or something subtler?

Wildly curious,
David M. Chess

She seems to have been somewhat baffled by this, but did eventually reply:

Hi David,

My name’s Katherine and as stated in my previous email, I am part of a
team of designers/researchers that made a graphic highlighting the
life of Elon Musk. Mainly what we are trying to do is get you to link
the graphic to the resource page of your website. It promotes both
websites equally and helps us grow as artists and young professionals.
It’s 100% free of charge. Let me know what you think.

I like the nice upfrontness of “[m]ainly what we are trying to do is get you to link the graphic to the resource page of your website”, although of course she means link to the thing from the page (kids these days!). And I don’t think my website actually has a resource page.

Maybe I will reply to her again, copying Sarah. And maybe Tony. And…

:)

2012/06/19

More on the mysterious infographics

The plot continues to thicken! To recap, we originally got some spam from one Tony Shin (apparently “ohtinytony” on The Twitter), offering an infographic about World of Warcraft, and then not too long later on a different email address we got a similar one from “Jen R” offering a graphic about marijuana legalization, and awhile later yet another similar one from one Catherine Long, offering a graphic about Elon Musk (who is some entrepreneur-type, not a cologne).

We did a little poking around about these odd things, but didn’t find anything too informative. Just recently and by accident, we stumbled upon this press release about some exciting new infographic apparently created by QuinStreet, Inc (“one of the largest Internet marketing and media companies”). The infographic itself is very much in the style of the previous Tony-Shin-school infographics, and is hosted on “schools.com” (“your future starts here”), which is another of these extremely bland and generic and professionally-designed sites that prior infographics have had URLs to at the bottom.

So let’s look at QuinStreet dot com. (Woot, hello, stock-photo persons! Aren’t we nice and diverse?)

They are “the leader in vertical marketing and media online”, which is exciting. Oddly for such a prominent institution, the obvious web search turns up mostly pages on their own web site, pages they have created themselves on social media sites, a very brief Wikipedia article, a couple of news stories (or perhaps their own press releases?) about them buying some other generic-sounding organizations, and some related searches having to do with layoffs.

It’s not obvious from any of this the relationship between Quinstreet and the Mysterious Infographics of Tony Shin. So let’s try searching on Quinstreet infographic.

At the moment the first hit is Yahoo Finance reprinting another press release about Schools dot com hosting a Quinstreet infographic (this one). Surely Quinstreet does something other than making infographics to put up on its own sites? Let’s see…

Here’s some local Fox affiliate reprinting a press release about Robot Study Buddies, hosted on online schools dot com, which has got to be another generic Quinstreet site.

So I dunno, let’s try quinstreet tony shin

Whoa, jackpot!

Well, a small one at least. Tony has apparently posted ten or so of his infographics to famous bloggers dot net, whatever that is. Each one has the trademark generic hostname at the bottom; the oldest one points to Criminal Justice Degree dot net, which contains the usual extremely generic information, no obvious reference to Quinstreet, and a statement that it is copyright by Forensic Psychology dot net, which is (wait for it!) another very similar generic site, which has the same copyright notice (i.e. copyright by itself), and seems rather a dead end.

Another hit from the quinstreet infographic search is this page on html goodies dot com, which is a Quinstreet property. The page presents a very Tony-Shin style infographic about Silverlight and HTML5 and Flash or something. Some of the comments criticize the graphic for being shallow, or wrong, or being just the text that would otherwise have appeared as text, with some eyecandy around it. (That last from non-visual types like me!)

Various links from the html goodies page take us to just tech jobs dot com, and various other sites in the developer dot com empire, which is, naturally, owned by Quinstreet.

And then one final hit on quinstreet infographic takes us to this article on electronic staff dot com (which looks like another Quinstreet generic site) about yet another infographic, this one hosted on and featuring online degrees dot com (similarly), which says it is copyright “The Learning Voice”, which I was perhaps surprisingly unable to find yet another Quinstreet property for.

(That page is notable for being, unlike the other ones that I ran across in this, full of amusing gibberish; I give you for instance:

… iPhone 4S owners typically use Siri for many easier tasks, such as creation phone calls, acid a Web and promulgation content messages …
“We combined this infographic since we wanted to know — is Siri vital adult to all a hype?”
… QuinStreet is committed to providing consumers and businesses with a information they need to research, find and name a products, services and brands that accommodate their needs …

Translated to and from French or something maybe?)

But anyway it’s probably safe to conclude that Quinstreet at some point acquired the rights to a whole bunch of domain names, many of them sort of second-tier combinations of common words (Just Tech Jobs, Forensic Psychology, MBA Online, Criminal Justice Degree, and so on), and at least a few pretty killer (developer dot com, woot!). And they have put content on them that all point to themselves in a very SEOish sort of way.

But that still doesn’t tell us exactly who Tony Shin is (or Jen Rhee, or Catherine Long, or…), or why he is offering his infographics to random obscure philosophy webloggers. The mystery continues!

Oh, and lookee here, another one has just arrived:

From: Maggie Lewis

Hi David,

I am curious if you are the administrator for this site: http://www.davidchess.com/words/log.20010216.html

I came across your page while I was doing some research. I recently finished a resource on astronomy that I think may be useful to you and your readers.

Could you please let me know if you are the correct person to contact for potentially having a resource like this included on your page?

I appreciate your time in advance and hope you have a great day!

Best,
Maggie

Sent from pandasent.com, via smtp.com, forged to look like it’s coming from gmail.com; the same old MO. I think I will ask her about her resource; maybe it will look oddly familiar! :)

Update: woot lol! Searching about for information on the amusingly-named pandasent dot com got me to Mystery of the Infographics, where a clued person named Mark Turner is looking into our very same mystery in slightly different ways. Worth a read to any interested investigator! :)

Update the second: The above used to have a live link to Forensic Psychology dot net, until I removed it due to this interesting development.

2012/06/11

More of the Mystery Spam!

Another missive in the style of the previously-noted; we suspect also from Tony Shin’s Secret Ninja Army.

Subject: A resource on Elon Musk

Hi David,

My name is Katherine and I came across davidchess.com while searching for references and mentioning of space related issues. I work with a team of designers and researchers and together we built a graphic that highlights Elon Musk, the real life Iron Man.

If this is the correct email and you’re interested in using the content, I’d be happy to share it with you. :)

Best,

– Katherine Long

Like the original two, this is sent via a spamming service, in this case “ezmailhosting dot com”, forged to appear to be from a gmail address.

Random Web searching finds no obvious connection between a Katherine Long and our Tony Shin, but does turn up one 2010 article from the Seattle Times, written by a Katherine Long (Seattle Times Eastside Reporter) about electric cars, including mention of Elon Musk’s Tesla. Entirely possible that that’s just a “too much information and a common name” coincidence.

No obvious connection between a Katherine Long and a Jen R, either.

(Oddly, Google insists that this meetup page about a Katherine Long also includes the phrase “New York Data Visualization and Infographics”, but it doesn’t for me. Silly Web.)

Perhaps I should write her, too, although I have no interest whatever in a “graphic” about Elon Musk. And Jen never wrote me back…

2012/05/08

Dear null,

Dear null,

You were recently selected as a candidate for publication in the prestigious Top 100 Leaders of 2012 Magazine. It is my distinct pleasure to inform you that your candidacy has been reviewed and approved by a special committee and that your biography may soon be featured in this extraordinary, professional magazine.

Amusing Spam o’ the Day. :)

Tags: , ,
2012/05/02

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

So I was down at the Drug Store getting more of the pills to inhibit my neurotransmitter reuptake, and there on the bottom shelf of the cabinet near where you drop off prescriptions there were some Home Pregnancy Tests, and some Home Cholesterol Tests, and next to those there were some Home Drug Tests (Marijuana).

And while I realize there are all sorts of Important Social and Cultural and Moral Things to say about these, what I’m really thinking is what a great routine George Carlin could have done on these.

Just imagine, someone sees one of these in the store when he’s a little wasted, and he’s like “whoa, cool, I’ll take some o’ those, man”, and he takes them home and opens one up and figures out how to use it, and then he yells “SHIT!” and his roommate says “what’s wrong, man?”, and he says “Man, I’ve got WEED!!”.

Something like that, anyway.

I was going to write down other things, too, but I can’t remember what…

Oh yeah! So we forgive Jen Rhee for whatever role she is playing in the mystery infographic spam thing, because one of the things that she links to on her Digg page is 5 Questions We Desperately Need a Buckaroo Banzai Sequel to Answer, and Buckaroo Banzai references are worth alot.

(Although we also dimly suspect that the things on her Digg page are carefully selected to contain at least one thing that is worth alot to each of seventeen carefully-selected Internet Demographic Groups, about which she also has infographics. But probably we are just paranoid.)

Passive media invades the Internet!

In the sense that I heard something on NPR or somewhere about how all various people with lots of money, like Google and I guess Yahoo and all various other people are apparently spending lots of money to put together “channels” which would carry “programs” that people would then be expected to “watch” like they do (or used to do) with “television programs”.

Which strikes me as bizarre!

I personally have very little patience with non-interactive media these days, and the only things I really consume that you can’t click on, so to speak, are (a) background music, (b) WNYC while doing other things, and (c) occasional old Buffy episodes on Netflix. My impression of YouTube “channels” is that they are, like, places where you can go to find some mildly amusing “JibJab” thing with animated talking pictures of politicians or something, except now they have advertisements which if you have to watch more than like six seconds of invariably causes me to go do something else instead.

But apparently I may not be entirely typical (shocking thought), or at least some people with lots of money are willing to bet that I’m not. So there are whole “channels” on YouTube and YahooTube or whatever and maybe like Hulu and things, where people make “episodes” of “programs” with High Production Values, and advertisers, and all like that there, so you can have the whole stultifyingly dull and ad-saturated television experience right there on your computer, oh joy oh rapture.

Here is one they talked about on whatever NPR story or whatever it was that I heard: Barely Political. If you click on that you will go to a YouTube page where some video will probably play even without you asking it to. The one it showed me was incredibly stupid, but maybe you will be luckier.

(It occurs to me that when I watched several in a row “episodes” of (what was that? oh, yeah) Dragon Age: Redemption, I was probably consuming one of these very “web program” things, but it was just to moon over Felicia Day, and obviously that doesn’t count, right?)

This interests me somewhat, in that I like to think of the Internet as extremely liberating and empowering and tending to inspire and facilitate creativity and collaboration and participation and all, which is pretty much the opposite of the “sitting on the couch staring at ads interspersed with brief stretches of plot” paradigm that TV and this stuff represent.

Passive consumption has, I tell myself at some level, been so successful on TV just because the technology doesn’t offer the superior alternatives, and now that the ‘net so definitely does offer those alternatives, we’re basically done with that whole TV thing.

But maybe not!

Time will tell…

oh P.S.: This is probably the NPR story that I heard.

2012/04/13

“An infographic my team built”: Mystery Spam o’ the Time-unit

So the other week I got this on one of my Dale Innis email addresses:

Hey Dale,

I found your site while I was looking for sites that have talked about World of Warcraft and wanted to reach out to see if you were interested in using a graphic my team and I designed, which highlights how online gaming stacks up against online dating, in a classic 8-bit video game aesthetic.

Let me know if you’re interested, would love to connect. Thanks!


Tony Shin
@ohtinytony

The phrasing strongly suggested that the writer was from a subculture with which I am not generally very comfortable (“reach out”, “love to connect”: ewwww, stranger-danger!), and I pretty much ignored it (but left it in my inbox with the several hundred things other swirling around in there), and later on I got an actual followup:

Hey Dale,

Wanted to follow up and reach out about the email I sent last week about the graphic on gaming and dating.

Hope things are going well.

Thanks!


Tony Shin
@ohtinytony

He’s still groping at me, but this seemed personal enough that I actually replied:

Um, hi! I actually have no idea what you were talking about. :)
What is this graphic, and how/why would I want to use it?

and he rereplied pretty quickly:

Hi Dale,

I was searching for people who have talked about gaming and those who’ve taken any interest in it, then came across your site. So I thought you and your audience might find the graphic interesting.

The infographic I was talking about lives here: http://www.onlineuniversity.net/gamers-get-girls/

If you like it, feel free to link to it or use it in a post. Would love any feedback you or your readers have.

Thanks.
Tony Shin

I didn’t reply again, ’cause while visually cute I found the image kind of silly and pointless (not sure just what point it’s trying to make, various of the facts seem awfully implausible but I don’t care enough to trace down the sources, etc). And I figured that was probably the end of that.

Then, today, at one of David Chess’ email addresses, I find:

Hi David,

I came across your site while searching for resources related to ‘NORML’ and saw that you had referenced their site. That said, I wanted to reach out to see if you’d like to view a graphic that my team and I created which illustrates the benefits of marijuana legalization. Would you be interested in taking a look?

I’d love to get your readers’ feedback as well as yours!

Thanks,
Jen R.

This seems markedly similar! Also from the email headers the first Tony mail and the Jen mail are both coming via a mass-mailing service (Tony’s via “SMTP.com” and Jen’s via “mailingcomplex.com”), forged to appear to be from gmail.com, whereas Tony’s followup seems to have come via Integra Telecom (not an obvious mass-mailer, but similarly forged), and his reply to my reply seems to have actually come from gmail.

I should just write Tony and Jen and ask what’s going on of course :) but it is fun to speculate. Is it a college visual design course whose professor encourages the students to do this kind of thing? Is it a very clever bit of meta-spam designed to be unusual enough that gullible people (like me!) will put up weblog posts like this that actually include links to at least one of the Infographics in question, and thereby boost their Google Search Rankings (Brazil Triplets Nude!), or something like that?

Apparently there is a real Tony Shin who is perhaps actually at-ohtinytony on Twitter, although that person calls itself “Tonytones”. The account does “tweet” about various of this same kind of enormous Infographic, though, so it’s plausible.

Relatedly, here is a sort of article-thing by or about or something Tony Shin and various similar Infographics (warning: all sorts of rather cheesy ads and counters and little widgets from social media sites you’ve never heard of and general annoyances), which refers to him as “a social media ninja and creative design samurai”. Maybe these emails are part of some ninja-samurai initiation ritual, in which the student must stand on one leg atop a flagpole, blindfolded, until his Infographic gets a Klout score of at least 47.3 or something.

And here is a much less annoying site which has had several posts about the Mystery of the Infographics, including “Tony Shin taken to task“, which links to an Ohio State University professor posting about one of tiny Tony’s Infographics, and opining quite accurately I think about the various dangers of this kind of shiny information packaging. All very much worth a read.

Haven’t found anything on Jen yet, though. I think I will write to her… :)

2012/01/19

You might be surprised!

Today’s “Spam email in its entirety” is from one Miss Sylvia Martins, user cloudstrife3277 at a once-popular internet provider. Its entire content is:

Subject: HAPPY NEW YEAR…

You might be surprised to read this message from me

Not really all that surprised, Miss Sylvia, but thanks for your concern. And Happy New Year to you!

2011/11/08

Monday, 7 November, 2011

Took the day off today, just ’cause I felt like I needed a rest. And apparently one of the things I needed a rest from was writing! Just about 1500 words eked out (“eked out”) today, and we’re at:

End of Day Seven: 11,504

which may or may not be more or less just barely On Track.

I have some ideas about what might be going on in the story and how it might end, but they are tentative so far. (Am I supposed to reveal that?)

And in related news, a spammer claiming to be the U.S. Commerce Association Board of Review is happy to inform us that “Kims Keys & Locksmith has been selected for the 2011 Best of Winter Haven Award in the Personal Service Agents & Brokers category”. Woo woo!

And there is even a classy simulated award object:

Best of Winter Haven!

Don’t you just almost want to believe that that might be something other than a generic picture of a shiny thing with some flat digital words carelessly Photoshopped over it?

I hope someone’s told Kim the good news, also…

Tags: , ,
2011/10/21

Friday, October 21, 2011

So I don’t understand this kind of spam:

Hello,

My name is Franco Cavalier am sending you this email regarding in Purchasing Product from your company,I will like to know if you can ship directly to France , I also want you to know my mode of payment for this order is via CC . Get back to me if you can ship to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated

Kindly return this email with your price list of your products..

Franco.

201, rue de Grenelle

FR – 75357 PARIS

FRANCE

Slightly even more puzzling because it was sent to my work address (in ibm dot com), and it was sent from an email address of “dummy” at somewhere in France (with a reply-to at a gmail dot com address).

What value does anyone get by spamming out a request for lists of goods that can be paid for by credit card and shipped to France?

I suppose he might just be gathering email addresses in general, to spam or to sell? But surely if you want to test to see if a vast number of email addresses are valid, you’d want to maximize the chance that the person will write back, and in that case asking for lists of products that can be bought via credit card and shipped to France doesn’t do that.

They could just be validating a big list of email addresses by sending any old junk to them and seeing what bounces, but (1) email agents don’t send “no such user” replies anymore, as I recall, for exactly this reason, and (2) this is an awfully weird “any old junk”. I’d hate to think that some spammer address-collector had this nice a sense of the absurd.

Ah, mysteries, mysteries…

I just got The Physics Book from Amazon (I think I’d pre-ordered it or something), and it’s lovely. Bigger and fancier than I’d expected, a nice weighty hardcover with lots of short entries about interesting physics things, and great pictures.

You should get it, too! And not just because the author’s office is more or less across the hall from mine or anything. :)

I’ve just started reading it (the introduction and then a few completely random pages), but I think I will enjoy it greatly; it’s nice and bite-sized (a box of intellectual chocolates!), which fits my current (tiny) attention span nicely.

I’m also enjoying The Quantum Thief quite a bit, in the digital edition, despite having sort of forgotten about it for long enough that starting out again I didn’t quite remember just who everyone was, or what had happened to whom previously. But it’s the kind of book in which you’re enjoying trying to figure out what’s going on anyway, so that hasn’t been a big problem. And the tech and the world and the culture(s) and all are interesting while one is trying to work it all out.

It occurs to me that I could just sort of leave this entry, with the date at the top, open in WordPress all day, and hit Publish in the evening or whenever I felt like I wasn’t going to write anything elsemore to speak of.

Maybe I’ll do that. Although I might forget. And it’s also nice to Publish shortly after writing, and get that sense of Accomplishment.

So for NaNoWriMo this year, assuming I convince myself that I have time, I’m thinking about a nonlinear hyperlinked novel. Say, 100 interlinked pages at 500 words per page? Or 500 100-word pages, or anything on that curve. Something like The Forked Stick, only I would “finish” it in a month, and not leave it hanging forever like I did with that. :)

Water Street runs close by the river, into the Dun Quarter, which is quiet but far from silent in this moony night, breathing with the sharp stillness of the river and the easy aches of poverty and long practice.

To one side is the pier, and across the street is an old building where a sign shows a cup and a hen. Far down at the other end of the street, the Long Temple broods in a feverish silent sleep.

(I am still quite proud of the Tic Tac Toe game embedded in The Forked Stick. Wow, that was some time ago!)

Didn’t you mean to say you assassinate your enemies
Didn’t you mean to say you kill journalists and artists
Didn’t you mean to say you give orders for the murder
Didn’t you mean to say you sell drugs to make your fortune
Holly Near, “Edge”

I don’t actually recall how Edge got onto the iPad here, but I’m enjoying it very much. Energy, novelty.

Also enjoying The Dresden Dolls:

and you can tell
from the smoke at the stake
that the current state is critical
well it is the little things, for instance:
in the time it takes to break it she can make up ten excuses:
please excuse her for the day, its just the way the medication makes her…
girl anachronism

What else should one mention in one’s weblog? I’m sure there are other things that will occur to me later in the day. But at the moment the desire to see it published and In The Can seems sort of strongish. So I will probably push Publish sometime in the next minute or so, assuming the universe and its laws continue more or less unchanged (something that it’s not clear how justified we are in assuming, or whether it matters whether we are).

Yep, here we go!

See you on the other side! :)