Grammer and the Internet

Saw this on Facebook today and it brought a collection of things to mind. In light of Weird Al’s recent “Word Crimes” video, I thought I’d share them, in no particular order.

10455964_827037680648557_6012720283440707969_n

OzyMillie - Revenge of the Language Oriented

That's The Way I Roll

 

Editors

CRW_jay_a_reaction

Post Comments - spelling

Chuck-and-Beans-misspell-something-Shoebox-Blog

 

Of course, things can get complicated the deeper down the rabbit hole you go:

effect_an_effect

 

Remember:

Strongest Compulsion Editing

Lastly, before you get your knickers in a twist, I know how to spell “grammar.” I’m just employing the conventional wisdom expressed above to increase my exposure for this post. I’ll be curious to see how many people don’t read this far and take me to task for misspelling it in the title.

Old_Wolf_Thpt

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

The Chalk Mark

You’ve probably heard the story in various incarnations. An old Navy chief, an engineer, an auto mechanic – you name it – he’s called in to diagnose a problem with some sort of engine or device. He puts a chalk mark on the machine showing where to make the repair, and sends a bill for $10,000, most of which was for knowing where to put the mark.

I always thought this was an urban legend, it appears that there may be some truth in it, if an article at the Smithsonian is to be believed; obviously no source is above scrutiny, but I know that the Smithsonian does its best to be accurate, factual, and scientific in its reporting, hence I thought it was worth sharing.

Steinmetz

Charles Proteus Steinmetz circa 1915 - Wikipedia

From the Smithsonian Article:

Before long, the greatest scientific minds of the time were traveling to Schenectady to meet with the prolific “little giant”; anecdotal tales of these meetings are still told in engineering classes today. One appeared on the letters page of Life magazine in 1965, after the magazine had printed a story on Steinmetz. Jack B. Scott wrote in to tell of his father’s encounter with the Wizard of Schenectady at Henry Ford’s River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

Ford, whose electrical engineers couldn’t solve some problems they were having with a gigantic generator, called Steinmetz in to the plant. Upon arriving, Steinmetz rejected all assistance and asked only for a notebook, pencil and cot. According to Scott, Steinmetz listened to the generator and scribbled computations on the notepad for two straight days and nights. On the second night, he asked for a ladder, climbed up the generator and made a chalk mark on its side. Then he told Ford’s skeptical engineers to remove a plate at the mark and replace sixteen windings from the field coil. They did, and the generator performed to perfection.

Henry Ford was thrilled until he got an invoice from General Electric in the amount of $10,000. Ford acknowledged Steinmetz’s success but balked at the figure. He asked for an itemized bill.

Steinmetz, Scott wrote, responded personally to Ford’s request with the following:

Making chalk mark on generator    $1.

Knowing where to make mark         $9,999.

Ford paid the bill.

The story fits well with what is known about Steinmetz, a mercurial genius of engineering. Unless we can get the plans for Professor Waxman’s time machine, there’s no way of verifying the story, but this iteration of it has a ring of truth.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

My First German Scam Email

The phishermen are casting a wide net.

Here’s my first phishing email in German, with headers:

Return-Path: majorapp@bronco.websitewelcome.com
Received: from imta34.emeryville.ca.mail.comcast.net (LHLO
imta34.emeryville.ca.mail.comcast.net) (76.96.28.168) by
resmail-po-420v.sys.comcast.net with LMTP; Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:17:57 +0000
(UTC)
Received: from bronco.websitewelcome.com ([192.185.82.92])
by imta34.emeryville.ca.mail.comcast.net with comcast
id SdHw1o0041zWx2w0adHwbd; Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:17:56 +0000
X-CAA-SPAM: 00000
X-Authority-Analysis: v=2.1 cv=P/wD2Ewu c=1 sm=1 tr=0
a=KztXjUqHRyz9kbsNwKbgzg==:117 a=8FReB3YSAAAA:8 a=C_IRinGWAAAA:8
a=GGcpBh7Jt_oA:10 a=trIDVAjzH2wA:10 a=rKpt8qlD2zIA:10 a=aYsrNlUn7DwA:10
a=IkcTkHD0fZMA:10 a=cc8bsT4k8mMA:10 a=srLljQ7VAAAA:8 a=QpSK2HJ8AAAA:8
a=QAZS5B4ip-KZLdxwkisA:9 a=8PHepCJaBy8WvsX-:21 a=QEXdDO2ut3YA:10
a=_W_S_7VecoQA:10 a=6xz8xM_uv-EA:10
Received: from majorapp by bronco.websitewelcome.com with local (Exim 4.82)
(envelope-from <majorapp@bronco.websitewelcome.com>)
id 1X72cF-0004OT-QT
for [redacted]; Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:17:55 -0500
To: [redacted]
Subject: Amazon.de Kundenservice
X-PHP-Script: majorappliancesinfo.com/ for 93.93.69.158
From: accountcheck@amazon.de <accountcheck@amazon.de>
Content-type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Reply-To: accountcheck@amazon.de
Message-Id: <E1X72cF-0004OT-QT@bronco.websitewelcome.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:17:55 -0500
X-AntiAbuse: This header was added to track abuse, please include it with any abuse report
X-AntiAbuse: Primary Hostname – bronco.websitewelcome.com
X-AntiAbuse: Original Domain – comcast.net
X-AntiAbuse: Originator/Caller UID/GID – [3638 32003] / [47 12]
X-AntiAbuse: Sender Address Domain – bronco.websitewelcome.com
X-BWhitelist: no
X-Source-IP:
X-Exim-ID: 1X72cF-0004OT-QT
X-Source: /opt/php54/bin/php-cgi
X-Source-Args: /opt/php54/bin/php-cgi /home/majorapp/public_html/wp-content/themes/twentyten/images/headers/sistems.php
X-Source-Dir: majorappliancesinfo.com:/public_html/wp-content/themes/twentyten/images/headers
X-Source-Sender:
X-Source-Auth: majorapp
X-Email-Count: 9
X-Source-Cap: bWFqb3JhcHA7emV2eW9zMjticm9uY28ud2Vic2l0ZXdlbGNvbWUuY29t

Wir brauchen Ihre Hilfeaufgrund der steigenden Zahlungsausfalle mittels Lastschrift- und Rechnungszahlung,
ist es in Zukunft leider nicht mehr moglich, eine Zahlung bei Amazon.de mit diesen Zahlungsarten ohne hinterlegte Kreditkarte zu tatigen. Daher ist es notwendig, dass alle Kunden eine Kreditkarte als Zahlungsmittel hinterlegen.

Sollten Sie bereits eine Kreditkarte hinterlegt haben, bitten wir Sie, die bereits hinterlegte Kreditkarte zu verifizieren. Sollten Sie noch keine Kreditkarte besitzen, legen wir Ihnen gerne die Amazon VISA-Kreditkarte ans Herz. Nutzen Sie zur Verifizierung bitte den folgenden Link: Zum Sicherheitsverfahren – http://amazon.acountingdatacheck.com (Notice that this is not a valid Amazon.de URL)

Bitte beachten Sie, dass Sie Ihr Amazon.de-Kundenkonto ohne hinterlegte Kreditkarte in Zukunft nicht mehr nutzen konnen.

Mit freundlichen Grußen,
Ihr Amazon.de Kundenservice

In short, they’re saying that I can no longer use my current credit card and need to add a couple more. The bogus link takes you to a bogus Amazon page
bogus
where you get to divulge all of your credit card and banking data.
Please be careful out there. So many evil and unprincipled drones want your money, and will stop at nothing to get it.
The Old Wolf has spoken.

Comcast: they’re as evil as you thought they were

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Recently a sound file has gone viral, in which a Comcast customer “service” rep brutally disallows a customer from disconnecting his service. It’s painful to listen to.

In the wake of this event, a redditor who used to work for Comcast explained pretty clearly why agents have a financial incentive to do this, and why Comcast has such a deservedly bad reputation. Read the post and judge for yourself:

edit: I think this thread (the OP) got removed/deleted from /r/television[1] … interesting.

I’ve been an employee of Comcast for almost the last 9 years, as an SBA in BI, NE&TO, Customer Service and Marketing. I worked for Comcast Corporate (meaning the headquarters in Philly) so I dealt with all of our divisions and regions for the US, because of my position I was frequently in budget/planning meetings and was handling data for subscribers for the same, I’ve seen down to the penny the monthly earnings for years, I know how much goes to tax, how much is pure profit, I know what the total payroll cost for the company is, etc – I wasn’t a high level executive or anything, I’m a data analyst, I analyze [things]. I left the company a few months ago, so I’m not really worried about saying anything here (I also never signed anything requiring me not to disclose anything I’ve said or am about to say.)

When you call into the IVR (the 1800 comcast that makes that annoying clicking noise) and you answer the prompts (1 for cable tv, 2 for high speed internet, etc and then 1 for new service or 2 for a problem etc etc) you get routed to a specific department.

When you call in to disconnect, you get routed to the Retention department, their job is to try to keep you. The guy on the phone is a Retention Specialist (which is just a Customer Account Executive who takes primarily calls from people disconnecting their service.)

If I was reviewing this guys calls I’d agree that this is an example of going a little too hard at it, but here’s the deal (and this is not saying they’re doing the right thing, this is just how it works). First of all these guys have a low hourly rate. In the states I’ve worked in they start at about 10.50-12$/hr. The actual money that they make comes from their metrics for the month which depends on the department they’re in. In sales this is obvious, the more sales you make the better you do.

In retention, the more products you save per customer the better you do, and the more products you disconect the worst you do (if a customer with a triple play disconnects, you get hit as losing every one of those lines of business, not just losing one customer.) These guys fight tooth and nail to keep every customer because if they don’t meet their numbers they don’t get paid.

Comcast uses “gates” for their incentive pays, which means that if you fall below a certain threshold (which tend to be stretch goals in the first place) then instead of getting a reduced amount, you get 0$. Let’s say that if you retain 85% of your customers or more (this means 85% of the lines of businesses that customers have when they talk to you, they still have after they talk to you), you get 100% of your payout – which might be 5-10$ per line of business. At 80% you might only get 75% of your payout, and at 75% you get nothing.

The CAEs (customer service reps) watch these numbers daily, and will fight tooth and nail to stay above the “I get nothing” number. This guy went too far, you’re not supposed to flat out argue with them. But comcast literally provides an incentive for this kind of behavior. It’s the same reason peoples bills are always fucked up, people stuffing them with things they don’t need or in some cases don’t even agree to.

Comcast wasn’t always that bad, I watched the steady decline over the years I was there – and the attitude that is pervasive in customer service flowed over into the other departments like a cancer. There is a giant propaganda machine at Comcast focused on the employees, they send out emails and brochures and have the bigwigs come in to talk about things like why net neutrality is bad and encourage the company (via emails to every employee) to speak out against it.

I left because the culture there is disgusting, there is nothing redeemable about the behavior, and it’s just headed in a worse direction. The people who try to advocate for customers are liquidated.

I say it as a loyal Comcast employee for almost a decade, if you have Comcast – get out now, you’re just wasting your money. They’re going to increase your bill 3-5% twice a year, it’s part of the annual budgeting process even though our costs actually go down. The internet business (as in, high speed customers) is almost purely profit, and it’s turned down on purpose like everyone here already knows. Comcast has DOCSIS 3 capabilities and the infrastructure to support it in most major areas (this means gigabit speeds, by the way) – it can be activated simply by pushing the proper bootfiles out to the modems. This can be evidenced anywhere they have competition, they can respond overnight.

If there’s not a serious change in legislation or regulation, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

(take this with a grain of salt, I’m not going to post anything personally identifiable, if you don’t believe me – you don’t have to. edit: Not that it’s really proof, but here’s a post[2] a year ago where I respond specifically mentioning that I’m a Comcast employee (at the time) )

edit: adding a TL;DR

TL;DR - Comcast provides heavy incentives for this kind of behavior, it’s been on a steady trend heavily towards this for years, the entire corporate culture is toxic and there is a pervasive ‘us against them’ attitude. Also the profit margin is insanely big. You shouldn’t do business with Comcast.

Of course, Comcast is publicly apologetic, but one would expect no different.

This is pretty scary. /u/txmadison’s comment about regular billing increases is spot-on; I’ve been a Comcast customer for over 15 years, and my bill has more than doubled since I first signed up. I also need to check my bill carefully to see if they’re stuffing spurious charges on there. I definitely need to make a change, but my disincentives are two:

  1. My area has limited options; 20 miles to the north, Google Fiber is doing big business, but not in my town *weeps bitterly
  2. I’m not that excited to change my email address, which I’ve had for over 15 years.

That said, I think the time has come. I don’t like the idea of being systematically abused by a corporation that has so little regard for its customers.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

A shout-out to Weird Al Yankovic – Word Crimes

I make misteaks when I’m writing. But I try not to make big ones, and I do my best to correct them when they occasionally crop up.

ten artist chirtmas list 5

These gigantic erasers have been around since I was a kid in the 50s; fortunately I have never needed one that big. Whilst typing, I can’t ever seem to spell “friend” right the first time; it’s just a quirk, I suppose.

That said, I am always gobsmacked when I see people confusing loose and lose, or their/there/they’re, or its/it’s. Maddening. I tend to be a descriptive linguist rather than a proscriptive one, knowing that languages flow like the mighty Mississippi river over time, and that usage is king – but there’s a difference between colloquialisms and ignorantisms (that last is a neologism.)

Now comes Weird Al, with his second music video in a stream of 8, released one each day. I’ve always loved his work, and this one immediately rose to the top of my favorites list because of the subject matter, near and dear to the heart of a linguist.

I’ll let Al speak for himself.

And now the Old Wolf has done spoke.

How Blog Spam is Generated

I’ve talked about blog spam a lot, because I get a lot of it here. Akismet takes most of the pain away automatically, for which I love them, but the occasional piece of camel ejecta filters through which I must designate as spam manually.

I happened to browse the comments on another blog post today, and I found the following script core, posted by a less-than-careful blog spammer. Something went wrong, and instead of delivering a single randomized comment, the entire database was posted. I thought this was interesting, because I have received/seen pieces of this script in my own blog and many others.

I’m sharing it because I thought you might find it interesting as well.

{
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view},
if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web
owners} and bloggers made good content as you
did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than
ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
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or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know}
{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
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{could|can} write next articles referring to this article.
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days|nowadays|today|lately|as of late}, {yet|but} I {never|by no means}
{found|discovered} any {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing}
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{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made {just right|good|excellent} {content|content material} as {you did|you probably did}, the
{internet|net|web} {will be|shall be|might be|will probably be|can be|will likely be} {much more|a lot more} {useful|helpful} than ever before.|
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I am sure this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} has touched all the internet {users|people|viewers|visitors},
its really really {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}
{article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} on building up new {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}.|
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{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!|
Way cool! Some {very|extremely} valid points!
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{and the|and also the|plus the} rest of the {site is|website is} {also very|extremely|very|also really|really}
good.|
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{once again|yet again} {since I|since i have} {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved as
a favorite} it. Money and freedom {is the best|is the greatest} way to change, may you be rich and
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{In addition|Additionally|Also}, the blog loads {very|extremely|super} {fast|quick} for
me on {Safari|Internet explorer|Chrome|Opera|Firefox}.
{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
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ideas in {regarding|concerning|about|on the topic of} blogging.
You have touched some {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious} {points|factors|things}
here. Any way keep up wrinting.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey}! Someone in my {Myspace|Facebook} group shared this
{site|website} with us so I came to {give it a look|look it
over|take a look|check it out}. I’m definitely {enjoying|loving} the
information. I’m {book-marking|bookmarking} and will be tweeting this to my followers!
{Terrific|Wonderful|Great|Fantastic|Outstanding|Exceptional|Superb|Excellent} blog and {wonderful|terrific|brilliant|amazing|great|excellent|fantastic|outstanding|superb}
{style and design|design and style|design}.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would
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The reason I ask is because your {design and style|design|layout} seems different then most blogs
and I’m looking for something {completely unique|unique}.
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hey there|Hello|Hey} would you mind letting me know which {webhost|hosting company|web host} you’re {utilizing|working with|using}?
I’ve loaded your blog in 3 {completely different|different} {internet browsers|web browsers|browsers} and I must say this
blog loads a lot {quicker|faster} then most. Can you {suggest|recommend} a
good {internet hosting|web hosting|hosting} provider at a {honest|reasonable|fair} price?
{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come
together|get together} and share {opinions|thoughts|views|ideas}.
Great {blog|website|site}, {keep it up|continue the good work|stick with it}!|
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It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to
{far|more} added agreeable from you! {By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give
you a quick heads up. The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem to be running off the screen in {Ie|Internet
explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}. I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting}
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{thought|figured} I’d post to let you know. The {style and design|design and style|layout|design}
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{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
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{Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}!
{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
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{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time}
now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go ahead and give you a shout out from {New
Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!
Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!|
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{site|blog}!|
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{I think|I feel|I believe} {that you|that you simply|that you just} {could|can} do with {some|a few} {%|p.c.|percent} to {force|pressure|drive|power}
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{I’ll|I will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
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{A lot of|Lots of|Many|Numerous} {other folks|folks|other people|people} {will be|shall be|might be|will probably
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{Hi|Hello}, i think that i saw you visited my {blog|weblog|website|web site|site} {so|thus} i came to
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to} find things to {improve|enhance} my {website|site|web site}!I suppose its ok to
use {some of|a few of} your ideas!!\

As you can see, the script is designed to leave randomized comments in other people’s blogs, usually with an embedded backlink to improve (supposedly) one’s own search results at Google or Yahoo or Bing or other search engine services.

The mouldy camel droppings that do this need to find a different planet to live on, if you ask me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Coney Island, July 4, 1946

M0movUs

That’s a lot of people. Made me think of similar pictures of crowded beaches in China – the linked ones are of China’s Qingdao Huiquan Beach. The brochure photo probably looks a lot different:

crowded-beach-2

But when it’s hot in the City and you want to get away, that’s the price you have to pay. I grew up in New York in the 50s and I don’t ever remember visiting Coney Island when it was that massively crowded, but this was, after all, a holiday shot.

♬ When the sun is shining  brightly
And there ain’t no ice cream cones,
It ain’t no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones. ♬

The Old Wolf has spoken.