Marketing by terror

I’ve mentioned Android webjacking before, but here’s another example. Things like this are not usually “viruses” on your handheld device, but rather malicious code embedded in a legitimate website by unscrupulous advertisers.

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First, this exploit makes your phone buzz like a hornet that’s just been pinched in a vise, and locks your browser. No going back. Second, vulgar sites? No, actually this popped up when I was trying to leave a comment at retailcomic.com. I trust the site not to hide exploits like this on purpose.

 

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The claims on these “warnings,” along with being written in questionable English, are absolute lies: “If the problem can not be resolved immediately , the viruses will spy your phone, and destroy your SIM card, delete all your contacts.”

Now I’m just following the trail to see who’s behind this.

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Looks like someone is hawking an app (surprise, surprise):

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A comment at the app’s site complained, and the developer responded; notice the salutation “Dear,” usually seen on Nigerian scam emails but certainly a red flag that the app developer is not a native English speaker.

 

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Despite the apology and denial of malicious intent, I would be very suspicious of apps that are advertised in this way.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Income by deception: they’re not even trying any more.

Have a look at a few screenshots from my Android a couple of days ago:

 

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Hilarious joke collection. OK, I’m always up for a new laugh or two. But beware: popup ads like this are rarely honest or ethical, and often sleazy and deceptive. Let’s see:

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Starting to smell a rat, but let’s just go down to the next level:

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Well, the joke’s on me – and anyone who clicks these links. This transcends the concept of clickbait, which usually offers some kind of content in order to get people to the pages where ads are displayed. Now they’re eliminating the middleman altogether.

And people wonder why fake news gets such traction.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Doctors: Then and Now.

It’s tough to find a doctor you can trust.

I’ve written before about Dr. Max Jacobson, a New York City physician that my mother loved dearly, and I was delighted to have had some personal experience with such a famous (or infamous, or notorious, depending on whom you talk to) character.

Subsequent searching turned up a little bit about Max in a book called Schmucks with Underwoods, Conversations with Hollywood’s Classic Screenwriters by Max Wilk:

“Have you ever ead Erich Maria Remarque’s novel Arch of Triumph, the one about the Paris hotel where arll the refugees are living? Well, there’s a character in there, a doctor, a German refugee, living in Paris, and in order to keep himself alive, he’s performing abortions in dirty kitchens… you know who that doctor really was? Dr. Max Jacobson… the same guy who is now in New York!”

The notorious Dr. Feelgood?

“The one and the same Dr. Feelgood!” said [Billy] Wilder. I knew him extremely well – in Berlin, he was my doctor. Talk about writers in exile! Here’s this doctor, in exile, he cannot get a diploma, so he performs abortions… You know how old this guy is today? He has to be in the early 70s! But what a difference from his days in Paris, eh? Whenever he comes out here to L.A., I see him . Or I meet him on planes, he is accompanying Mr. Cecil B. DeMille to Egypt, because Mr. DeMille is going to do a new version of The Ten Commandments, during which Mr. DeMille has himself a heart attack, but Dr. Feelgood pumps him full of his amphetamine magic shots, so Mr. DeMille can still climb ladders and shoot the scenes – with maybe 6,000 extras all standing around!”

And there is also a list of other famous show business and political people who were the patients of the same Dr. Max Jacobson, ranging from our late president Kennedy, with his bad back, to Alan Jay Lerner, and Tennessee Williams, to a raft of other such celebrities, all of them devotees of Dr. Feelgood’s little satchel full of magic elixir shots.”

That last sentence reminded me powerfully of the lovely story by C.M. Kornbluth, “The Little Black Bag,” a follow-up tale in the world of “The Marching Morons.” If only we had such doctors…

As an add-on, in the linked article I mentioned “a New York publication some time before 1968;” thanks to the miracle of the Internet, it turns out that the relevant article from New York magazine was actually published on February 8, 1971 – so I was close. Nobody who ever met Dr. Max could possibly misunderstand to whom “Doctor C” referred, and I remember people in my home discussing the article with much amusement as almost all of our visitors were either patients of or familiar with him.

But back to reality, the first doctor I ever knew was Dr. Arthur F. Anderson, my pediatrician.

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This photo is of Dr. Andy, as he was lovingly known to his patients and their families, was taken at his retirement celebration in 1967. He was an immensely kindly gentleman who always put me at ease, made me airplanes out of tongue depressors and rubber bands, and wrote with a fountain pen full of bright blue ink.

In an oral history of Dr. David Annunziato, an Amityville-based pediatrician who passed away in 1995, I found this little tidbit:

I had great teachers. Bill [William] Dock was the professor of medicine. Charlie [Charles A.] Weymuller was the professor of pediatrics. And Charlie Weymuller, though he was a quiet man, apparently knew everybody. You know he knew [Rustin] McIntosh at Columbia [University College of Physicians and Surgeons], [Luther Emmett] Holt [Jr.] at NYU [New York University], Sam [Samuel Z.] Levine at [Weill] Cornell [Medical College]. The man he told me was the smartest pediatrician in the world was a man I only met once, and he was at Lenox Hill [Hospital]. His name was Anderson.

That could be no one else but Dr. Andy; I had my tonsils out at Lenox Hill Hospital in 1954, and I’m pretty sure that he was watching over my case if he himself did not perform the surgery. Which makes it obligatory that I cross-post something from my Live Journal, because it’s relevant to Dr. Andy and Dr. Weymuller, and much better than what I could reconstruct here.

March 21, 2009

Memories come in the strangest ways.

Brooke McEldowney, in his webcomic Pibgorn, just finished up a story arc that lasted a few days short of two years. That’s not as tortuous as Freefall time, but still a good piece of slow-paced fiction.

The new arc which began last Tuesday is entitled (Note to Jef Mallett: Yes, that is an appropriate use of the word) “Pibgorn and the Volcano on 77th Street and Park Avenue.” Forum members immediately brought up satellite images of the intersection, and it turns out that Lenox Hill Hospital sits on that corner.

I grew up in New York, and that rang a bell. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out why it was familiar, aside from the tragic recent death of Natasha Richardson). Was it where I was born? Nah, that was Lying-In Hospital, converted in 1981 to luxury condos (note the baby tondos still adorning the façade).

It just came to me. It’s where I had my tonsils out when I was around three. Unlike Bill Cosby and his ice cream, my memories are different. I remember being alone, shots, and starvation.

When you’re three, you hate shots anyway. Somehow, my beloved pediatrician, Dr. Arthur F. Anderson, managed to avoid being associated with needles, choosing instead to send his evil henchman, the sadistic Dr. Charles Weymuller (in actuality, probably a very nice man) to my home for the requisite torture sessions in which my delicate heinie was violated with ten-foot red hot pokers. But in the hospital, I have this memory of an endless line of nurses armed with jackhammers, marching into my room like clockwork every five minutes to give me shot, after shot, after shot. It was probably only one, but hey, I was three, and alone in a strange crib in a strange place. I still don’t especially care for needles.

Compounding the torment was the fact that they refused to feed me. I was so happy when they finally said I would get some chicken noodle soup. Well, if there was any chicken or any noodles in the soup they brought me, it must have been strained out by the underpaid kitchen staff to supplement their meager salaries, because “broth” would have been too generous an appellation. That hospital stay was not fun.

I was so hungry when I finally got home… they fixed me mashed potatoes with butter, and I was so famished that in my haste I accidentally bit the finger of whoever was feeding me.

And I hadn’t thought of these things for at least 30 years…

In the ensuing years I’ve had numerous other physicians, some better and some less so; bedside manner matters, but a doctor’s interest in you as a person – his or her willingness to address your issues above and beyond the 8 minutes per patient that seems to be standard these days – is critical. A couple of  bright stars stand out: I was privileged to have Dr. George Van Komen, a superb and caring physician, as my primary care provider for a time, and my current doctor is not only a physician but also a friend, which counts for a lot.

But I still miss Dr. Andy.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Beware the Zeus virus (No, you’re not infected)

I’ve written about scams that get you to call a phone number and help bad guys access your computer before. Here’s another variety you need to be aware of.

My wife’s computer has had this happen twice in the last few weeks (click the image for a larger view):

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Chrome is locked up – you can’t close the tab, click away, or do anything else except kill the browser in Task Manager. A computerized voice repeatedly intones, “Your computer is infected. Your data is being stolen. Call this number for support…” You can imagine that this would be very frightening to someone who is not computer-savvy, and a lot of people will fall for it.

Just to see how the scam works, I called the number (855-335-8826 – don’t call this number) and got an agent with a foreign accent (sounded Indian or Pakistani to me) asking how he could help. Putting on my “geezer voice,” I told him that my computer was talking to me and telling me that my data was being stolen.

  • Agent: “Have you downloaded anything lately?”
  • Me: “No.”
  • Agent: “I will direct you through a couple of steps so I can access your computer and help you fix this problem. Look at your keyboard in the lower left – do you see the Window key? I want you to press that key, together with the letter ‘r’. [Note: he wants me to run a program.]
  • Agent: “Type the letters ‘hh’, then a space, then the letter ‘t’ in the ‘open’ box. Then press the “OK” button.

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  • Me: “Ok, I did that.” [This is what I get]

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  • Agent: “Do you see the little question mark in the upper left hand corner? I want you to click that and select the option that says “Jump to URL.”

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  • Agent: “Now type this in the box: ‘www.support.me’

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  • Me: “OK, I’ve done that.” [This is what I get]:

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  • Agent: “I will now give you a 6-digit code to enter into the box. Your number is 925837. Please type that into the box and click ‘Start Download’.”
  • Me: Do you really think I’m going to allow access to my computer by a bunch of scammers? Get a life. *click*

What’s going on here is that if I had entered the number, I would have given complete control of my machine to a random scammer, and from that point he could have

  1. Stolen sensitive data like passwords, contact lists, or financial information.
  2. Infected my computer with malware
  3. Taken control of my machine and woven it into a spamming botnet.
  4. Other things more horrible that I wish to contemplate.

There are websites out there that tell you how to remove the “infection” that causes this popup; most of them exist to shill programs like Zemana, Malwarebytes, and HitMan Pro. Free versions of these are legitimate, but don’t be conned into buying “Pro” versions unless you really need their features. Others may ask you to download their own proprietary removal tool. Be wary of such sites.

The key here is that if you get the “Zeus” malware popup, NEVER CALL THE NUMBER. You’ll just be opening yourself up to fraudsters who want to do very bad things to you and your computer.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An Essay for Mrs. Malaprop

“A malapropism (also called a malaprop or Dogberryism) is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical, often humorous utterance… The word “malapropism” (and its earlier variant “malaprop”) comes from a character named “Mrs. Malaprop” in Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play The Rivals.” (Wikipedia)

Some examples of malapropisms are:

  • “illiterate him quite from your memory” (instead of “obliterate”)
  • “she’s as headstrong as an allegory” (instead of alligator).

A friend of mine recently posted this gem on Facebook; I had seen it before, but yesterday it rang a bell and I thought I’d just get it out here with its corrected version for future reference.

TRIGGER WARNING: If bad English offends you, look away now!

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Ow! Ow! Ow!

In text format, the monstrosity reads:

Acyrologia is the incorrect use of words – particularly replacing one word with another word that sounds similar but has a diffident meaning – possibly fueled by a deep-seeded desire to sound more educated, witch results in an attempt to pawn off an incorrect word in place of a correct one. In academia, such flaunting of common social morays is seen as almost sorted and might result in the offender becoming a piranha, in the Monday world, after all is set and done, such a miner era will often leave normal people unphased. This is just as well sense people of that elk are unlikely to tow the line irregardless of any attempt to better educate them. A small percentage, however, suffer from severe acryrologiaphobia, and it is their upmost desire to see English used properly. Exposure may cause them symptoms that may resemble post-dramatic stress disorder and, eventually, descend into whole-scale outrage as they go star-craving mad. Eventually, they will succumb to the stings and arrows of such barrage, and suffer a complete metal breakdown , leaving them curled up in a feeble position.

The only way to stop the pain is to read the paragraph in its proper form:

Acyrologia is the incorrect use of words – particularly replacing one word with another word that sounds similar but has a different meaning – possibly fueled by a deep-seated desire to sound more educated, which results in an attempt to pawn off an incorrect word in place of a correct one. In academia, such flaunting of common social mores is seen as almost sordid and might result in the offender becoming a pariah; in the mundane world, after all is said and done, such a minor error will often leave normal people unfazed. This is just as well since people of that ilk are unlikely to toe the line, regardless of any attempt to better educate them. A small percentage, however, suffer from severe acryrologiaphobia, and it is their utmost desire to see English used properly. Exposure may cause them symptoms that may resemble post-traumatic stress disorder and, eventually, descend into full-scale outrage as they go stark-raving mad. Eventually, they will succumb to the slings and arrows of such barrage, and suffer a complete mental breakdown , leaving them curled up in a fetal position.

I’ve written before about “Word Crimes” – one of Weird Al’s best efforts ever, and that’s saying something because just about everything he does is delightful.

The Wold Floof has Broken.

Two bees, or not two bees.

When I was younger I was enamored of flying, having learned how at Key West Naval Air Force base thanks to a brief stint as a military dependent. Flying lessons were at that time affordable, and I took the opportunity to learn how to solo a Cessna 150, and later at Hill Air Force Base Aero Club, a PA-28 140. After I turned 23 and lost dependent status, flight time became prohibitively expensive, so I never got my ticket – but I sure loved the experience.

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During that time I was subscribed to “Flying” magazine and read it religiously, drooling over the new Mitsubishi twin-engine planes that looked so beautiful, and one of the monthly features was “I Learned About Flying from That” – a humorous but educational look at the odd sorts of things that crop up.

I share with you here a portion of one that I always remembered, and which thanks to the eternal memory of the Internet, has been preserved for posterity.


Ridiculous things can happen when you least expect them. It was a beautiful, smooth CAVU day and I leveled off at 8,500, cranked the trim, settled back and opened a stick of chewing gum. It was all very peaceful, but while part of the gum was sticking out of my mouth, a bee landed on it.

I exploded the gum as far as the windshield. This must have put the bee in a bad mood, because he did an immelman and came at me out of the sun. As soon as he got me in his sights, he was joined by another bee.

I wade a rather haphazard attack with a folded low-level chart, but the situation deteriorated when the bees made a flank attack up my trouser leg.

By this time, I imagined I was sitting on a whole nest of bees and began looking for an airport. In answer to my screaming into the mike, a pedantic voice told me wind direction and velocity, barometric pressure, runway, and then, to report downwind. I was hoping for a straignt-in approach, so I began to shout about bees.

Of course, the tower said, “Repeat.”

I supposed I sounded something like “Blah blah blah, Comanche, two bees…”

“Comanche Bravo Bravo, go ahead.”

“Negative Bravo Bravo. Bees. I’ve got two bees.”

“You’ve got to what?”

“Seven-Five Pop has got two bees!”

The tower somehow got the idea that I wanted to use the facilities, and cleared me straight in. I went literally buzzing up to the wire fence beside the terminal, leaped madly out on the wing and took off my pants. Not until there was a burst of applause from a Girl Scout troop did I realize how totally I had been routed by the emergency.

Now bees are on my checklist, just like birds.

From “Flying” magazine, October 1972. “I Learned About Flying from That,” No. 389, by Guernsey Le Pelley

Full text here: https://books.google.com/books?id=aMXZoqvRpaIC

I could tell you about the time that I was at about 10,000 feet practicing cross-control stalls in a Piper and learned exactly why one should be aware of this danger by going into a dead spin, but perhaps another time…

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beware of “Pet Care” texts or emails

Scam Alert-stamp

Over at a post about working over a Craigslist scammer, I got a few comments about a particular scammer that’s working the “pet care” angle. I thought I’d respond to his email address and see how it works.

I wrote to jamesbrenard1@gmail.com: “Someone said you were interested in pet care. Where are you located?”

Here how the drone responded:

Hello and how are you doing?

Glad to read from you and since you were refereed by CARE, I feel comfortable discussing this opening as it concerns the comfort of my fur babies who happens to be the only babies i have presently but hoping for that to change soon. My name is James and my wife’s name is Maha, I contacted Care i needed a Caregiver so am trusting their judgement. I am relocating to your neighborhood from Canada. I recently got a contract with a company on a private research job and i’ll be in charge. My wife is 6 months pregnant, she was in a little accident few weeks ago so am a little indisposed and this is going to be a big change in my family so we want everything to move smoothly and stress-free, so i am going to have a limited time for our fur babies and this is where i hope you come in and help.

I need someone to work 4 hours in a day for an 3 days in the week, someone that is mature whether young or old, loves pets, reliable, attentive, honest and punctual. You will be taking care of 2 Dogs, Billy a yr old Australian Terrier and Misty a 4 years old German
Shepard for any three days of your choice excluding Sundays and will have to take them on a walk at least once a week, give them a bath, brush their hair and make them comfortable while we are away. I can handle the feeding but the rest i wont be able to do, so you can work for us as long as you want. I plan on getting 2 fishes on the other hand; one is a Fancy Goldfish, while the other is an Auratus Cichlid, we’ve never had fishes but i wish to have the very best care for them so i’ll need advise on names that you think will befit them. I trust you can do this for us.

Our arrival date will be on the 28th of January and we’ll be having a face to face meet on the 29th the day after our arrival. I will be offering you $415 weekly,and also will be needing your services for 4 hours at any suitable time of yours. Bonus will be paid if there are any overtime, If you believe you are fit for this position in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable and good person, I will instruct my financial clerk to pay for the first week before our arrival so as to secure your service in advance and to show our commitment on our part. 

My financial clerk will require this information to be able to make out a check to you;

Full Name:
Full address with Apt Number:
City, State and Zip code:
Phone number:

I await to read from you soon.

Warmest regards

Note a couple of things:

  1. This bozo has no idea where I live. Even if legitimate, he or she could be living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I might be responding from Key West, Florida.
  2. The promise of advance payment. Anyone who “bites” would be sent a check of this nature: Secret Shopper Bogus Check
  3. The next thing that would happen is that the criminal would send too much money and ask the victim to wire a large part of it to someone else via Western Union. Of course, the check is bogus, your money is gone, and you’re on the hook to the bank for the full amount – including possibly facing criminal charges of your own for negotiating false documents. That doesn’t happen often, but some banks and police departments are anal-retentive enough that it has happened, and will probably happen more often in the future.

I sent the drone a fake name but a real address… and never heard back. I wrote back once saying “Hey, what happened? You were going to send me a check to get Pet Care started. Did you change your mind,? Should I still be looking?” but never had a response. Either he somehow twigged that he was being played for a fool, or simply had moved on to a new victim.

At any rate, watch out for this individual and any others using the same ploy.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.