Next of Kings

I haven’t got Nigerian spam for a long time. I changed email addresses, and Gmail is really good at filtering these things out. That said, I saw one today as I was cleaning out my spam box that made me grin.

Most of it is the same old recycled garbage; this one kindly includes a list of fraudsters that I must immediately stop dealing with if I am to “get my fund of 5 million dollar.”

It has been proposed that these scam letters are deliberately written in horrid English to trap only the most gullible, but I haven’t completely bought that theory. A lot of these scam letters are boilerplated and must be passed (or sold) from scammer to scammer. In my past experience, a lot of the Lads from Lagos don’t even speak English but are using templates and auto-responders, because even if I respond to their hook with a “sod off, mate” they come back with something like “thanking you for your esteeming response, your fund is ready! Just send the $299.00 US Dollars Only fee for processing…”

Oh well. This one’s out there, just in case anyone Googles for it.


Attention Inheritor,

I am Mrs.Melina Belak, a US citizen, I am one of those people that took part in receiving Inheritance funds and Lottery funds from European banks even from many lottery organizers, ATM card and Compensation funds etc few month’s ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid different fees paid out while in the United States trying to get my funds from those banks, ATM CARD And Compensation and lottery organizers but all to no avail. I decided to travel to West Afrian Nigeria, with all my compensation documents, and I was directed by the IMF Director to contact the reconciliatory Barrister Frank Daniel who is also an attorney, A USA citizen and a member of the UNITED NATIONS & IMF COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE currently working with IMF in the WEST NIGERIA and I contacted him and he explained everything to me. He said whoever is contacting us through emails are fake. Barrister Frank Daniel personally directed me on how to claim my Inheritance or Lottery payment.

Right now I have received my compensation funds of $5 million dollars Moreover, Barrister Frank Daniel, showed me the full information of those that are yet to receive their Inheritance or Lottery payment and I saw your email address as one of the beneficiaries, that is why I am contacting you to stop dealing with those people, they are not with your fund, they are only making money out of you.

I will personally advise you to contact Barrister Frank Daniel, he will assist you as he is a very religious man with the fear of God.

Compensation Award Office.

Name: Barrister Frank Daniel
Private Email: barfrankdaniel12@gmail.com
Office Email Address: Compensationoffice@yeah.net
Phone Number: +1 (315) 294-0440

Listed below are the name of fraudsters and banks behind the non release of your funds that I managed to sneak out for your kind perusal which they are more with out your acknowledgment .

1) Mr. James B. Comey Jr
2) Ms. Carman L. Lapointe
3) Mr Ban Ki-moon
4) Mr. Dan Rochas (I.M.F)
5) Mrs. Tanner Williams
6) Robert S. Mueller, III
7) Mr Jim Ovia: Zenith Bank Plc In Nigeria
8) Dr Godwin Emefiele
9) Ibrahim Mustapha
10) Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde
11) Micheal Edward
12) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
13) Mrs. Sherry Williams
14) Mr Wilson Norman
15) Dr. Patrick Aziza Deputy Governor – Policy / Board Member
16) Barrister Ucheuzo Williams
17) Miss Donna Gwen
18) Frank Edward (ATM DEPARTMENT)
18) John Rob
19) rita johnson
20) Ms Becky Donald
21) mr john will
22) ms.rita johnson
23) mr. walker dickson
24) Peter Michael
25) George Mankarious
26) Emile Mutambo
27) Dr. Robert Mooma
28) David Weyne Mutango
29) James Morgan
30) Larry Moore
31) Gloria Momoh
32) Col. John Muguh
33) Uiku Mavzer
34) Eng. John Momoh
35) Dr. Aaron Momodu
36) Barrister Michael Moss
37) Efcc Chairman. Ibrahim Musterfa Magu
38) Miss Esther Emmanuel

CONFIRM YOUR DETAIL BELOW TO AVOID WRONG DELIVERY OF YOUR FUND WORTH $5 MILLION DOLLAR.

1. Full Name…………………………….
2. Residential Address………………………..
3. Phone Number……………………….
4. Fax Number…………….
5. Next of Kings…………. Charles, William, and George, if I’m not mistaken
6. Sex………..
7. Age…………………..
8. Nationality………….
9. Country………………….
10.scan copy Id………..

Please reconfirm the above address to avoid any wrong delivery of your fund s far.

You really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them, it is not in anyway with them, they are only taking advantage of you and they will take all from you until you have nothing to Give. The only money I paid after I met Barrister Frank Daniel was just $350 for the Endorsement Fee, take note of that if you are not in any way related to this funds do not reply.

Thank You and Be Blessed.
Mrs.Melina Belak
2507 Catalina Dr, Orlando,
Florida, 32805 United States  (Currently an empty home for sale)
SORRY FOR THIS MESSAGE in spam IF FOUND, PLEASE MOVE TO INBOX (right…)

Be careful out there. In case you hadn’t gotten the message yet, there is no money for you in Nigeria. There is no fund. Never send money via Western Union or Money Card or any other way to an unknown person, no matter how good it sounds. You will lose your money, and you will be giving your personal information to criminals.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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IT is an expense. IT doesn’t make money for the company.

I saved this from over at reddit some time ago, and I’m sharing it here because I thought it could use wider exposure. This post is largely for IT professionals, of whom I know a fair community, forgive me if it doesn’t seem relevant.

On the other hand, if you’re a manager or a director responsible for IT¹, you may want to read this with some care.

A question was asked, “Isn’t there a live sandbox environment² you can freely make mistakes in before you jump in the actual live databases or whatever and make changes? If not, why not?”

A comprehensive answer was posted by redditor /u/catherder9000, which I have only bowdlerized a little, and I hope the author is not mortally offended.

It is all about scale.

(Sort of like how this post could have been summed up in 2 sentences, but enjoy it anyway!)

Lets say you work at a company that is a large small business (40-50 million revenue yearly, 100-200 people). Your IT department is a 1-3 man team, because “you’re an expense” …most business people think only sales people make them money. Don’t worry that you can’t make money if things don’t work, only sales makes you money.

Now lets pretend your last major upgrade to the servers was accomplished with a $75,000 budget. Getting that budget with the equipment you demanded was required was hard fought. Some corners were cut on “not absolutely necessary” things, things like a second slightly smaller and slightly slower server to run as a mirror of the first one, a server where you could do all your testing on. That “saved” the company $30,000, right? You just like to spend money, you never make the company any money.

Then, a year later you have something that absolutely has to be done to the server. You are pretty sure it will work, your outside support people are confident it will work, you have no server to test it on because all your other servers are much too small to handle it or are already tasked with other “critical” services. So you go with your best judgement and go live with a big change during the wee hours to cause the least interruption.

1 AM STUFF GOES BAD.

Now you’re scrambling. By 5AM you’re in a frantic attempt to get back online before major business starts, nothing you or your vendor have tried has worked, they’ve called in a half dozen of their T3’s and developers all to no avail. People are rolling in, things aren’t working. Calls are happening. Pages are going out. 6AM, the owner rolls in. His stuff isn’t working. You’re now thinking about reverting to last night’s backup because the changes you were told would work without a hitch were nothing but a giant frozen boot to the face hitch. People are getting really frantic about not being able to do business, nobody can order anything, nobody can sell anything, nobody can maintain inventory, nobody can do anything but sit around with their thumbs in their ears and surf the web. You’re just an expense, you don’t make the company money.

6:30AM, you make the decision to give up attempts at fixing and instead roll back to the last backup. You start the restore telling everyone “this should be resolved by 9:30AM everyone we have is on it and a full restore should take 2 or 3 hours tops.”

9:35 rolls around, 9:40… 10:15 the backup fails at the last point. What the…? How the…? This is impossible! You make some calls, you explain that you have to attempt rolling back to the offsite backup, yes you understand that will lose the half the day’s business and everything will have to be manually entered when the system is back up. You’re given the “Well for pity’s sake get it back up what do we pay you for!?!” (The go ahead. They have utmost confidence in your abilities.) You start the other restore. It works, but was much slower than the onsite one because fiber is only so fast. 3:00PM you’re back online, things seem to be stable again.

3:30, nobody in IT has slept in 32 hours. You’re called into a meeting with management. People want answers. You explain that you were assured everything would go smoothly by the vendor, you tell them that you were confident on your role in the upgrade as well. What should have been a 2 hour downtime during the night turned into a 17 hour ordeal. It was an unforeseeable incident. You mention that, “Had we had a working test environment to try this on first, we would have discovered the problem and avoided it.”

Nobody wants to hear it. Everything is about reentering the previous day’s sales, orders, receivables, inventory adjustments, etc. 4:30 the business day is basically a wipe. The downtime has cost the company a couple of hundred thousand in lost business for the day. You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Nobody learns from it other than yourself, a few other people in IT, and the vendor who “has never seen this problem before”.

dt990808shc0

Your request for a new sandbox server is declined. Your request for a 2nd local backup server is seen as “another” frivolous idea.

You’re just another expense, you don’t make the company any money.

Welcome to IT.

The Old Wolf has been there.

¹ IT = Information Technology. You know, the computer or data-processing department that doesn’t make any money. When things are going well, they wonder what they pay you for. When things go to hell, they wonder what they pay you for.

² A sandbox is a separate place, a mirror of your computer systems, where software can be tested without impacting your production machine. If things go bad, no harm no foul.

Winter is Coming, whether HBO likes it or not.

Winter is Coming.jpg

This beautiful painting by a 13-year-old girl, who just happens to have some autism to deal with, was posted at the arts and crafts site, RedBubble. She called it “Winter is Coming.”

Lawyers at HBO, afraid that this image and its appurtenant title would do irreparable harm to their beloved Game of Thrones¹, sent a takedown letter, which RedBubble  – sadly – immediately complied with.

I’m not so charitable. HBO is a douchebag, and these lawyers are douchebags. They can all go sit on a cactus. Sit down hard, on a cactus, and spin.

cactus

You see, lawyers and corporations think they can patent or trademark anything to “protect shareholder value.” Well, winter is coming whether they like it or not. It will arrive on December 21st this year.

What are you going to do, boys and girls: sue the calendar?

Grow up and get a life.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ With respect to George R. R. Martin, whose work has inspired a huge following, I’ve never seen the show, and couldn’t get past Chapter 1 of the first book. It just didn’t resonate with me.

Fred Rogers, the quiet radical

rogersshoe

I have long loved and admired Fred Rogers. He’s so good and genuine  that he’s generated numerous memes and cultural references, the one below from Sandra and Woo:

2016-08-29-0816-the-divine-comedy-page-14.png

Today I stumbled across an informative post on reddit from user /u/MiltownKBs. There’s a lot of stuff here that I didn’t know, and I thought it deserved a wider audience.

Mr Rogers – The quiet radical. He didn’t go on marches, he was not confrontational, but nevertheless he had a ground on which he stood and he wanted to do something about it.

“a quiet but strong American prophet who, with roots in progressive spirituality, invited us to make the world into a counter-cultural neighborhood of love,” – Michael Long, author of the book, Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers.

He worked from a steely social conscience. He used his program, with its non-threatening puppets, songs and conversation, to raise provocative topics such as war, peace, race, gender and poverty with his audience of preschoolers and their parents — patiently guiding them across the minefields of political and social change.

Examples: This one is one of my favorites … The puppet King Friday XIII was posting border guards, installing barbed-wire fences and drafting passersby to keep out those fomenting social change. “Down with the changers!” he proclaimed. “Because we’re on top!” This was 1968 and was aired as part of a weeklong series on conflict, change and distrust. King Friday’s declaration of a national emergency to preserve the status quo is a political statement. It is not a plot line merely to entertain children. It’s the idea that when we resist change, it’s because we want to maintain our position. In the end, the neighborhood was saved, but only through the bold civil disobedience of King Friday’s subjects. People who want change are often labeled as troublemakers.

Rogers was an uncompromising pacifist, and when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted nationally in 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, he used his first week of programming to share his antiwar beliefs.

Rogers opposed the nuclear arms race, and in 1983 he developed Neighborhood of Make-Believe episodes in which King Friday appears confused and downright silly for calling for an arms race with a neighboring community. When Friday orders “one million and one parts” that he imagines to be weapons — they are not — he uses funds designed to support music in the neighborhood school. The neighborhood is appalled by this crass act.

At the beginning of 1984, the Presidential Task Force on Food Assistance, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, reported that it could not find evidence of rampant hunger in the United States. Rogers did not appreciate the report, and by the end of the year, he broadcast episodes highlighting the presence of hunger and addressing the need to combat it.

In 1987, at the height of the cold war, he traveled to Moscow and appeared on a Soviet children’s television show called Spokoinoi Nochi (Good Night, Little Ones).

Rogers was committed to racial diversity, and not long after inner-city riots erupted following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rogers introduced the character of a black police officer keeping everyone safe in the Neighborhood.

In 1975, 14 years before an African American woman would become mayor of a major U.S. city, Rogers created the character of Mayor Maggie of Southwood, played by African American actor Maggie Stewart.

He wore an apron and ironed clothes on a mid-day broadcast set in a house, when most men would have been at work, modeling a revolution in gender roles. The puppet Lady Elaine Fairchilde anchored a newscast long before Barbara Walters did, and she rocketed into space a decade before Sally Ride broke the glass stratosphere.

In 1983 he arranged for Lady Aberlin, played by Betty Aberlin, to sing a quiet song (“Creation”) in which she refers to God as “She.” A fact that was not lost on the protestors of the time.

Rogers and regular cast member Francois Clemmons, an African-American, dipped their bare feet in a wading pool on a 1969 broadcast, when bitter conflicts over legally segregated swimming pools were still being discussed.

Rogers became a vegetarian in the early 1970s, saying he could not eat anything that had a mother, and in the mid-1980s he became co-owner of Vegetarian Times. In 1985, Rogers also signed his name to a statement protesting the wearing of animal furs.

When politicians in the 1980s spoke of welfare recipients as lazy and unworthy of government help, Rogers portrayed hard-working parents who still couldn’t afford all that their children wanted or needed.

Rogers broadcast public-service announcements on helping children deal with news of war and other tragedy, and he advocated for legislation that would allow at least one parent in a military family to remain with his or her children rather than be deployed.

The Old Wolf has reposted.

 

Business Loan Scam

I apologize to my readers if this blog sounds like a broken record at times, but the dangers from scammers and fraudsters is real – and the more information available, the more likely that someone doing a web search will come across it and save their money or their information.

2015-08-31-1441027541-9677105-021913_robocalls_600.jpg

I’ve talked often about robocalls; here’s a good article from Consumer Affairs.

“[Scammers] have raked in millions of dollars with schemes like the business loan pitch. The recorded greeting says something like “congratulations, your business has been approved for a $250,000 loan.” If you stay on the phone long enough to talk to a live person, that person will try to get information from you that can be used to steal your identity.”

Got one of these just now. I pressed “1” to find out how the scam worked, and got someone who was virtually incomprehensible; he sounded like a Dane with his mouth full of Knödel.¹ His first question, in rapid-fire Mongolian, was “What is the annual revenue of your company?” When I asked him who was offering me this loan, he hung up.

Be careful out there. If it’s a robocall, it’s almost certainly a scam.


¹ A Dane sounds like a Norwegian with his mouth full of Knödel (which is a very heavy, thick dumpling). So this gives you an idea of what I was hearing.

Even the best cartoonists repeat now and then.

I grew up on Peanuts™. I learned how to read with the first Peanuts book that appeared in 1952, and read them voraciously as other volumes were published. Over time my collection was sold or given away (heresy!), and when I came to my senses decades later I began collecting them again.

peanuts-1952

The challenge with the original books was that Schulz was very selective about what he allowed to be anthologized, and many of his strips vanished from the public consciousness. Happily, later arrangements with Schulz and his estate allowed the entire collection to be republished either by Fantagraphics (beautiful but very expensive) or online at GoComics (colorized but free.)

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the GoComics edition, and read it faithfully and daily. But recently I came across a strip that rang a loud bell:

peanuts-bread-and-budder-sandwich-1

I remembered this strip clearly, but something about it seemed “off.” When I finally had some time to do a deep search of the internet, I was able to find the one I remembered:

peanuts-bread-and-budder-sandwich-1

Same gag, re-drawn, slightly different punchline. According to comments at the GoComics site, there may also be a strip where Linus tells Lucy that if you cut a PB&J sandwich, all the flavor runs out.

Why the re-do? Could be any number of reasons. Maybe Schulz liked this punchline better and wanted to see it published. Charles M. Schulz created a total of 17,897 Peanuts strips; maybe he just forgot he had done this one and the idea stuck in his head, so he “re-created” it. Maybe he was stuck for an idea on a given day. Whatever the case, if this is the only true duplication of a gag that he ever did, that’s a prodigious feat.

Other cartoonists repeat occasionally (and not just re-runs for vacations or filler.) I’ve seen one or two examples, but most of them keep coming up with fresh ideas (or in the case of some comic strips, not-so-fresh ideas) for years or even decades. Schulz was undeniably one of the masters of the genre, and an inspiration for countless cartoonists who followed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Protect yourself from ransomware

It’s still big business for crooks, most of whom have switched from the “Nigerian Prince” letters because it’s a far easier way of generating money.

your-money-or-your-data

An employee gets an official-looking email about an invoice or a spreadsheet. They click on the link. Boom: all your data is encrypted, and you have to pay 2 Bitcoin (about $1,500.00) to get it back (and sometimes you don’t.) You lose business, and the ultimate cost ends up being much higher.

There are two main lines of defense against ransomware: Backup and Education

1 – Backup

If you’re not backing up your files, you’re vulnerable to data loss, which can cost you big time.  Many people back up their files manually to an external drive. And that’s good, but there are problems with this system.

  • It’s hard to remember what files have been modified on any given day
  • It’s easy to forget to do your backup
  • A local disk is susceptible to theft or damage, or can fill up.
  • You can actually back up corrupted files if you’re not aware of when the infection took place. The nasty thing with many ransomware viruses is that they start to encrypt your files, and only give you the popup warning after the process is complete.

I recommend a cloud-based, dynamic backup system; I use Carbonite™ (and I’m not a paid shill for the company.) For the roughly 11¢ per day that the service costs me, I do whatever I need to on my computer and sleep well at night, knowing that if there’s a disaster of any sort – ransomware, hard drive crashes, fire, theft, you name it – I can get my critical data back. I once had a hard drive crash without backup, and it cost me over 3 grand to have a forensic data specialist retrieve my files (a ripoff, Seagate would have done it for half the price, but that’s another story.)

2 – Education

Educate yourself, and educate your friends, family, and employees. People click on things without thinking, and that’s never been good computing practice. It’s more important than ever to be careful about links contained in emails.

Have a look at this selection of emails that I received just this week:

Subject: Payment Information

Good afternoon. Thank you for sending the bill.
Unfortunately, you have forgotten to specify insurance payments.
So, we cannot accept the payment without them.
All details are in the attachment.


Subject: E-Mailed Invoices Invoice_6F839240

Please find attached your latest purchase invoice.
**************************************************
Any queries with either the quantity or price MUST
be notified immediately to the department below.
**************************************************
Yours sincerely, Sales Ledger Department
Tel: +44 (0) 4215 189 115


Subject: Urgent

Our accountant informed me that in the bill you processed, the invalid account number had been specified.
Please be guided by instructions in the attachment to fix it up.


Subject: Urgent Alert

We have detected a suspicious money ATM withdrawal from your card.
For your security, we have temporarily blocked the card.
All the details are in the attachment. Please open it when possible.


Subject: Delivery status

Dear Client! Our delivery department could not accept your operation due to a problem with your current account.
In order to avoid falling into arrears and getting charged, please fill out the document in the attachment as soon as possible and send it to us.


Subject: Invoice for 893547 21/11/2016

This email confirms that your goods have been dispatched. Please find attached your Invoice in PDF format. Please note this document will only be sent in electronic form.


Subject: Attention Required

Our HR Department told us they haven’t received the receipt you’d promised to send them.
Fines may apply from the third party. We are sending you the details in the attachment.

Please check it out when possible.


Subject: E-Mailed Invoices Invoice_CE576080

Please find attached your latest purchase invoice.
**************************************************
Any queries with either the quantity or price MUST
be notified immediately to the department below.
**************************************************
Yours sincerely, Sales Ledger Department
Tel: +44 (0) 5458 175 571


Subject: Please Pay Attention

Greetings! Informing you that the contractor requires including VAT in the service receipt.
Sending the new invoice and payment details in the attached file.
Please open and study it as soon as possible – we need your decision.


Subject: Insufficient funds

Dear info,
Your bill payment was rejected due to insufficient funds on your account.
Payment details are given in the attachment.


Subject: Important Information

Dear info, your payment was not processed due to the problem with credentials.
Payment details are in the attached document.
Please check it out as soon as possible.


Subject: Please Pay Attention
Dear info, we have received your payment but the amount was not full.
Probably, this occurred due to taxes we take from the amount.
All the details are in the attachment – please check it out.


Subject: Please note

Your tax bill debt due date is today. Please fulfill the debt.
All the information and payment instructions can be found in the attached document.


Subject: Urgent

Dear Client! We have to inform you that payments for contractors’ services were insufficient.
Thus, we are sending the report and the amount details in the attachment.


Subject: Order #9406386

Dear info, sending the receipt for the order #9406386.
You made it last week. Please check it out as soon as possible.
The receipt with all info is in the attached file.

Every single one of these came with zip file as an attachment. And every single one would have downloaded ransomware to the computer of anyone who was careless enough to open the file.

There are some red flags here:

  • My company address is “info@abc.com”, and most of these emails start out as “Dear info.”
  • The English in many of these emails is unnatural or grammatically wrong.

And yet people will still open these emails, and still click the attachments. If businesses take data security seriously, every employee will be given training on how to recognize data threats.

Please be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.