Gary D's Take

OK Hackers and Scammers…I Give Up!

OK Hackers and Scammers…I Give Up!

Aug 12, 2012

I recently posted about my annoying Twitter hack. It was just that…annoying….but no real damage done. Now I have experienced a whole new level of irritation…with E Bay.

I have been buying and selling on E Bay for years. I have not only bought and sold the requisite tech stuff but I have even bought and sold cars and boats.

I bought my 23 foot Regal cruiser on E Bay five years ago from a dealer in Coral Gables, Florida. My family and friends have had many great outings and lots of fun on her. Eventually , the second happiest day in a boat owners life comes…the day you sell it! I pulled her out of the slip on Smith Lake more than a year ago thinking I might move the boat to Guntersville or maybe even back to Florida. Time and circumstance have conspired to cause it to sit right here and eventually I decided to sell it.  Since I bought it on E Bay , it made sense to sell her that way…right?

The first auction went to a guy in Tennessee who had to back out. OK…….stuff happens. The next go-round didn’t get the price I wanted…OK. On my third attempt I made the acquaintance of a lovely  gentleman who claimed to be working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. All I had to do , according to the fake email from PayPal that I got, to get the money that HAD NOT been deposited in my account was to send $1500 via Western Union to some bogus shipping company in Kuala Lampur and they would release the funds that weren’t actually in my account. I went through all the necessary fraud reporting procedures with E Bay and Pay Pal and relisted. Things were going well and the boat sold for what I wanted.

The buyer appeared to be a guy from a small town in Georgia near a couple of lakes…made sense. My first communication with my new buyer yielded a surly response demanding things that I was unable and not obligated to do like “test drives” and forgoing the deposit.

My business like response about terms and such stuff netted this reply-

Tnis is not the end of this situation. Crooks like u need to be brought to justice. I’m a police cnief and nave contacted the proper ajthorities.”

Obviously this is the work of a nine year old or another semi-literate hacker in some third world country working off a cell phone. I’m guessing the nine year old.

The net result is I have wasted two weeks, been irritated beyond belief and I have not sold the boat. Am I mad at E Bay? Maybe they could do more to keep out the scammers like my faux cruise ship guy…I don’t know what that would be. Maybe they could do more to keep nine year olds off??? Once again I am not sure how you filter out a determined internet savvy pre-teen with a smart phone.

Some people are hesitant to buy from E Bay because they are afraid of being taken advantage of. I personally have had thousands of transactions over the years and I honestly don’t remember having a bad experience as a buyer or as a seller….till now! I guess the old caveat “Let the buyer beware” gets reversed on E Bay…..”Let the SELLER beware!”

My Personal Hacking Experience

My Personal Hacking Experience

Aug 5, 2012

Although having your social media account hacked (happened to be Twitter for me) is not as devastating as  having your bank account compromised, it teaches a lesson that we should all heed.

When I originally set up my personal Twitter account in 2007, I was “trying it out” and really didn’t take it too seriously. That was the year that Twitter hit a million users. Since then , Twitter has exploded to 500 million users.

I set up my Twitter account with an easy password that I could remember. Five years later, that password has been compromised. I don’t use it much anymore and never used it on anything that I was really concerned about. Since I link a lot of social media together , the “nice” person from Brazil who hacked me also tried to get into my Facebook and some other stuff. I had changed those passwords to stronger ones mostly (I am ashamed to say) at the request of the services themselves. I hadn’t gotten around to Twitter yet (or rather they hadn’t gotten around to me yet)

So far the damage has been minimal.Up until yesterday, I had the pleasure of following 2000+ random people from Brazil (Sao Paulo to be precise) who mostly Tweet in Spanish and Portuguese about rap music. Being the big fan of rap music that I am and being so fluent in Portuguese……I  set out to unfollow these folks. Easier said than done but I managed to find something called Manage Flitter that allows you to mass unfollow people. Great stuff! The Twitter shores are once again safe…..and Brazilian free. Manage Flitter has several built in filters that you can use, one is the “People Who Tweet in A Different Language” filter. Kind of makes me think that this has happened to someone else????

As annoying as this was, no real damage was done. Even if this person had done what I have heard has been done to others, and discussed my “well known” crack addiction or my sexual preferences (or lack of) publicly as me…(every one who “really” knows me is well aware of both those items)…it would still just be annoying. Going through the list of my “new best friends” was sort of entertaining. Along with the rappers and party people were several transsexuals and one real interesting account which is a resource for doctors who need information on the latest techniques for transgender surgery. I am still trying to decide if this was something designed to make me look bad or simply a reflection of my hackers personal tastes.

Who is to blame for my hacking experience? ME! I am a technology and social media consultant..I do this stuff for a living and I am supposed to know better. I screwed up…..Twitter isn’t to blame. Now my Brazilian hacker has some culpability obviously (God love him) but the responsibility for securing my accounts rests squarely on my pointy head. ARE YOU SECURE???? Unless you want to acquire a few thousand “new best friends” or are shopping for some transgender surgery…you had better take a hard look at the passwords and security settings of all your web based accounts. NOW!!

Come On Honey…Let’s Go For A Ride!!!!!

Have you ever uttered these words to your spouse or significant other? When you say it with a certain enthusiasm and a gleam in your eye, it really makes it sound like you are going on a fun and exciting trip.
Sometimes it means, “Honey I am going to quit my nice safe corporate job and jump out on my own. I will be risking everything we have built together and I will disrupt our whole family routine. You are OK with that right?” I’ve done this twice in 16 years of marriage. We are still married. I guess this means that we have a really good marriage right? Yes it also means that I have a really great wife. This is the same woman that has and still does encourage me to buy a motorcycle. One of my buddies once told me, “You mean your wife WANTS you to buy a motorcycle and you don’t have one yet!” The gigantic epiphany that I have gotten out of all this is simple….my wife wants me to be happy because she loves me that much. Now to some, this may seem like one of those DUH kind of statements but honestly do all of you guys have this kind of incontrovertible proof that your wife wants , above all else, for you to be happy and fulfilled? If you do , I hope you realize how lucky you are……if you don’t…..god bless you.

Welcome To The “We gotcha NOW” Network!

I recently changed sell phone providers. (Yes this is the first of many intentional misspellings). Here is my take on picking a wireless provider.They are all equally bad. You WILL have dropped calls, you WILL have phone issues ranging from bad equipment to dead end upgrade paths. No matter which one you pick there will be places where it  WON”T WORK. AND none of them will work worth a flip out in the boonies where I live. Over the years, I have tried everybody but Verizon. Why you ask have I not given Verizon a go? I have several friends who have used Verizon and from their experience, I have concluded that while it may work a little better for the most part they too have the same issues I described above. And since Verizon is unabashedly more expensive than everybody but AT&T, I really don’t see the point. Also I have noticed that like AT&T, Verizon doesn’t work AT ALL at my house. Which brings me to my major criteria for sell phone provider choice…..price. If everybody is equally bad, then you pick the one that gives you a better deal. I had been with T-Mobile for many years but as everyone has noticed, they have been gradually creeping up in price for years. I looked at Sprint and found I could reduce my bill by $50 dollars a month. My daughter wanted a new phone and so I switched. So far so much the same ole stuff but at 50 bucks a month less so I am good.

Interestingly enough, recently I had a major disruption of phone and Internet at my house caused by the air-gap created when the gas company decided to run their new line right through the underground cable that brings AT&T to my house. ( I am working now off a self installed temp service because AT&T has assured me that they will have my problem resolved no later than Monday at 5pm….the cable was cut the previous Tuesday by the way) Before installing the temp fix , I contemplated using the tether on my Android phone to get “a little Internet” little because as I previously mentioned, nobody works well at my house. I couldn’t seem to make it work so I called tech support where I was told they “don’t support” tethering. They were kind enough to offer their “mobile hot spot feature” which would turn my phone into a slow oversubscribed wifi hot spot that would support several devices at a crawl at my house for” just 29.99 a month”. I naturally declined. I have since read posts all over the Internet about the terrible wrong that Sprint has perpetrated on all their customers by stopping free unlimited tethering. GIVE ME A BREAK! Here is my take on it, Sprint…I am OK with you trying to exploit a perceived revenue opportunity as long as you are OK with me… not buying it, waiting for someone to come up with a clever way to get around it (and they will) and making fun of you for doing it.  That’s the American way! I was actually very amused as the Sprint tech support rep and I chuckled together about the “wonderful feature” and the 30 dollar price tag. Her reaction kind of leads me to believe that they aren’t getting many takers? Like Mama used to say, “You might as well laugh” right? Did I have the impression that I would be able to do this when I signed up? Yes. Will I forgo thirty dollars of the fifty I am saving to have it? NO. Am I outraged because Sprint has disenfranchised me from my God given right to tether? Of course not. Will I go back to another carrier because of it? No of course I won’t. This is a business transaction and all they owe me is a reasonable attempt to provide the base service I signed up for…period. Sell phone, Internet and cable TV are not like life liberty and the pursuit of happiness…they are not inalienable rights handed down to us by God. Just like my situation with my buried telephone cable….am I happy that AT&T will take 6 days to come look at my issue and tell me they will take another week to fix it…no I’m not but this is a business transaction so my other option is to take my business elsewhere or live with it… I am not going to be indignant and whine that they have violated my constitutional rights or something equally stupid. So Sprint……although you may think you’ve “got me now”….that will only happen if I let you.


I have been going through some changes lately. I went from working for a cable MSO to a small business partnership now to a CLEC. Why you ask? I guess I am trying to be all I can be. I felt limited at the cable company. I wanted to be more involved in other aspects of helping people use technology to broaden their horizons and better their lives, especially when it came to business. I undertook a bold step and went out semi-on my own only to discover that you can be unlimited in your thinking but limited by things like money and other peoples thinking. Now I am starting a new path at a very forward thinking Competitive Local Exchange Carrier(CLEC). I think the things they are doing and the directions they are going will be a good fit for me. Wish me luck!