Category: Internet/Computing

Nigerian Scam Mathematics

Free-money Over the last 15 years or so I have received perhaps as many as a dozen emails frantically explaining that I have millions of dollars waiting for me in Nigeria if only I would help some poor, benighted soul get his money out of a locked bank account. Usually the scam requires I provide my  banking info so that funds can be transferred into my account. What the scammer hopes is that I am greedy or gullible enough to get involved…and then there will be complications that need some quick cash from me to bribe someone or pay for a transfer license, or some such expense.

Of course I’ve never done it. And I bet neither have you.

Why haven’t we? Continue reading “Nigerian Scam Mathematics”

Mac Crash

My 3.5-year-old Macbook Pro went on the disabled list Wednesday.

Symptoms: Normal start up, but then, as the blue screen and desktop icons appeared, so did the spinning beach ball of death…and a queasy stomach.

Interior sirens wailing, I rushed to my not-too-far-away Apple Store where, amid dozens of milling i-enthusiasts, the patient was taken into the back room, and I was told to go home and wait. Two hours later I got the news. “It’s a severe hard disk charley horse. Maybe even a full quadriceps tear,” the Apple Genius said with great sympathy. This made sense to me; I had noticed, over the past couple of months, a not-so-subtle limp and an intermittent tendency to be slower than normal on ground balls to the backhand. Continue reading “Mac Crash”

Evaluating Charities

charity nav logoNow, as at the end of every calendar year, we are besieged by charities asking for support. Incoming mail brims with urgent and passionate pleas. Your phone will ring at dinner time. Even with a “Do Not Call” prohibition installed on your phone number, you can still expect calls from non-profits you have previously supported (and from scofflaw telemarketers calling from Canada). How do you decide which charities to support?

There is a website devoted to answering this question: Charity Navigator.

Continue reading “Evaluating Charities”

H1N1 Phishing

Just arrived: an email announcing the “the launching of a State Vaccination H1N1 Program.”

It commands: “you need to create your personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccination Profile on the Centers for Disease Control website.” Purporting to come from CDC in Atlanta <Centers for Disease Control and Prevention <>, mine actually came fromcdc Peru.

It’s phishing. Trash it without opening the attachment that asks you to, “create your Personal H1N1 Vaccination Profile” by clicking a link that opens a Trojan horse Continue reading “H1N1 Phishing”

How to Fix Intermittent Errors

g4Today my four-year-old Mac G4 laptop began acting its age.

Groups of pixels jittered chaotically in horizontal regiments, sometimes covering the screen. Then, without anodyne application, the problem would disappear. And just as unpredictably, reappear. Further investigation revealed that these video measles increased or decreased as a function of manual pressure exerted on the case.

What I had was a screw loose…an intermittent error…notoriously hard to put right.

When I was in my 20s, I worked with an engineer who had a method for fixing such problems.

For any electronic device with an intermittent problem…

1) Measure the length, height, and width.
2) Add them together and multiply by two.
3) Hold the device that distance above a hard surface.
4) Drop.
5) Now the problem will no longer be intermittent.

Laptop, heal thyself!

Or else.