From Rags to Riches – the Spam Way

I opened a few Gmail accounts a while back – I am migrating from Hotmail to Gmail, though for the life of me I can’t remember what prompted me to do that. Regardless of the reason, I have never checked the Spam box of my Gmail account until today. Imagine my surprise when I discovered all the ways I could be a wealthy woman if I simply follow the instructions in these emails:

1. If I can just help out Mrs.Fatoumata Zongo, the wife to the deceased former Head of Delegation to the World Bank in West Africa, I will get 30% of  US $7 million. Her husband was the linkman between the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries – OPEC and the petroleum sector in a West African country. He died from cardiac arrest, though she doesn’t say whether that might have been just after a bullet or an arrow pierced his heart.

I suggest this because it appears like Mr. Zongo was a bit of a shady character. He seems to have skimmed the money off the  allocated oil quota in OPEC. Mrs. Zongo isn’t all that honest either, and she wants me  to assist her to claim his ill gotten gains. The process appears to be very simple. There are some claim documents that will be processed and sent to me. The documents will be amended to reflect me as the beneficiary so that I can  collect the fund as his business associate. Then, I will keep 30% of the total funds and give her the rest when she arrives  in my country.

Now I have to ask the obvious question – why would I give her the 70%?  She anticipated that question, so she appealed to my humanitarian side – she needs it for the up keep of her only son. Well, Mrs. Zongo, you are very wrong if you think I have both a greedy side and a humanitarian side!

My dear Mrs. Zongo – this is a dangerous game you are playing.  Run, Mrs. Zongo before you and your son also experience ‘cardiac arrest’.

2. The next email skipped the preliminary story and got right to the point.  Mrs. Fatu Kabri wished to solicit my partnership to transfer $20 Million US dollars. She would send me more information and procedures once she received this information from me:
1. Full name……….
2. Nationality………….
3. Age…………….
4. Occupation…………..
5. Phone number………….

I expect the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Kabri ‘s $20 million were not all that honest either. Run Mrs. Kabri before you suffer ‘cardiac arrest’ too!

3. The third email was to notify me that I was a Winner in UKNL of One Million Pounds. All I had to do was Contact Agent Larry William Via his Email address and tell him my:
Full Name:
Contact Address:

Toonaday shark

I had to wonder, how did I win a lottery that I didn’t enter in a country I don’t live? Clearly Agent Larry doesn’t know any of these answers either. Agent Larry also should know by now that One Million pounds is chicken feed compared with what is being offered by his fellow crooks in South Africa.

That was all there was in my Spam Box – three incredibly stupid stories intended to appeal to either my greed or my gullibility. It would all be very funny if the purpose of these emails wasn’t fraudulent, and if some people weren’t victims of the schemes behind these emails.

Think of your Spam Email box as shark infested waters. Don’t even think of going swimming in there!

Unsolicited e-mails, however, are often the initial means for criminals, such as operators of fraudulent schemes, to contact and solicit prospective victims for money, or to commit identity theft by deceiving them into sharing bank and financial account information.
– The United States Department of Justice –

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Manual

There comes a time when all people break down and do the unthinkable: They read the manual.
– Author Unknown –

In our family – I read the manual before I push any buttons, turn any knobs, plug anything in. The Car Guy doesn’t. (This post, How to Boil Water, is a good example of the way we approach these things.) What about your family? Is Manual Reading a ‘Pink Job – Blue Job‘ thing, or do you think it is non-gender specific?

I have a New Camera (Canon PowerShot SX50 HS).  New buttons, new dials, new printed manual. No, not a big manual. A mini-manual – the one that says ‘Getting Started’. This showed me how to insert the battery and memory card and warned me, in 3 pages of tiny type, of all the safety precautions I should follow. ‘Getting Started” assured me that I could take my first few pictures without knowing what all the buttons and dials will do – so I bravely went where I would not normally go, and I took a few pictures. Then I removed the battery and put it in the charger because it was dead. I took that as a sign – the ‘Getting Started’ Manual didn’t really think I was ready to use this camera.

The real manual is a 286 page document stored in a PDF document that is password protected. A password protected document often severely limits certain useful features of a PDF document, and so it is with this one, as you will see in a moment. The document is set up so you can view two 5.5 X 8.5 inch pages at a time on your computer or a single page on iPad or iPhone like devices. So far, so good (though trying to read the manual on a phone is a chore of immense frustration.)

I wanted to print parts of the document and I believed that each two page spread  would print quite nicely on an 8.5 X 11 sheet of paper. The document believed otherwise, insisting that each half a page deserved a full page of paper. End of discussion – for now.


Here is my new camera. The only button that I am very sure about is the one that says ‘ON/OFF’. The rest are a bit of a mystery right now.

2013-Canon PowerShot SX50 manual - 1

Here are the two pages in the manual that explain all the dials and buttons.

2013-Canon PowerShot SX50 manual - 2

This is the same two pages, but edited to show what I understood by the time the battery was charged.

This is one of the more interesting things in my yard right now – dead things from last year. Maybe by the time there are green things and flowers, I’ll have mastered the macro feature!

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Camera – Zoom

I got a new camera a few days ago.  It is the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. I’ll skip right to the photos I took this morning so that you can see why I am very happy with this camera.

This was the view from my back door this morning. The neighbour’s farm buildings are near the centre of the photo (you can barely see the red barn), and the moon was in the sky above them. The sun was just coming up.

The PowerShot has a 50X optical zoom lens with Image Stabilizer. In layman terms, a zoom lens makes far away things look closer.

This is the red barn when I zoomed in on it.

This is the moon when I zoomed in on it.

The camera was set to AUTO mode, and I did not use a tripod. I think that bears repeating – I hand held the camera, and used the full AUTO mode. Point – shoot!

This camera does not come with a memory card, so we bought a SanDisk Extreme SDHC UHS-I Card. It is a ‘fast write’ card that allows the camera to record photos almost instantly. Extreme lens – extreme memory card.

The SX50 HS belongs to a group of cameras called ‘Bridge Cameras‘. They are larger and more feature rich than most ‘point and shoot’ cameras, but are not as advanced as an SLR camera. Bridge Cameras have a single fixed lens that is often, as in the case of this camera, a superzoom lens.

As you can see from these photos, I am back in Canada. Brown grass, no green things in the flower beds yet. The last of the snow melted yesterday. Temperatures still below freezing most nights. The robins arrived a few days ago. The tulips have just poked out of the ground. I think it must be spring time!

Spring means yard work, and that means there are never enough hours in a day!

Speed Liking – Click Your Way to Fame – Buyral Professional Clicking (Video)

Blogging Question of the month from Virginia in New York:

Dear Margy: I am a blogger. When I publish a new post – within seconds, someone presses the WordPress ‘Like’ button. How can this be? They didn’t have time to read the post, so how do they know they like it? Is it possible they read as fast as Santa Claus travels on Christmas Eve?


Dear Virginia – Yes, there is a Santa Claus – but there is no way that someone can read entire blog posts in just a few seconds. I’m afraid you are being scammed by the WordPress Reader. You see, besides showing the first few words of your post (and any pretty picture you inserted), the Reader also lets you ‘Like” and ‘Reblog” that post – without even going to your site!

I know you are going to ask what anyone gains from liking a post they haven’t even read. Virginia, Virginia – your questions just get easier and easier! The ‘Like’ button puts a reader’s Gravatar picture on the bottom of your post and that is the link back to their blog. If you are one of those bloggers who faithfully visits the blogs of those who ‘Like’ your post, then you will go read their latest post!

Now, some bloggers (me included) actually use the ‘Like’ button after they have read a post and they are simply saying “I Like what you have written, and I’d say so in the comments except 43 other people have already said “Nice Post!”  Unfortunately, less scrupulous bloggers are simply “Speed Likers”, and the only way WordPress could thwart that activity is if they take the ‘Like’ button off of the Reader.

Would you like to see another application of Speed Liking? Just watch this tongue-in-cheek video:

Weird is when someone you don’t know goes through all of your Instagram photos and likes them. Then when you click on their profile, there are only pictures of pigs.
– Unknown –


The Idea for this post came from a blog called Mostly Bright Ideas. The blog post was titled “Five Thousand Whats”.

Cna Yuo Raed Tihs? (A Spam Story)

How often have you received this email, or one like it?

Can you raed this? Olny 55 people out of 100 can. If you can read the following paragraph, forward it on to your friends with ‘yes’ in the subject line. Only great minds can read this.

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

ToonadayHow often have you read the email and then sent it off to your friends to show them that you are one of those 55 folks with a great mind?

I’ve received this email more times than I can count, and each time it is embellished a bit more. The one in my inbox this morning told me that it was a test for Alzheimer’s.

Guess what? The email is really just a fun bit of spam that has been floating around the internet since September 2003. Cambridge University (UK) isn’t aware of the research that is referred to in the email. Matt Davis, who is part of a Cambridge group that is investigating how the brain processes language, has explained this email at the following link:  MRC-CBU: The Science Behind the Meme. Matt lists some of the ways in which the original author(s) of the meme might have manipulated the jumbled text to make it relatively easy to read.

In short, you aren’t as smart as you think you are and in fact, you have been tricked into sending spam to your friends. You can’t help but be impressed by how clever some of these spammers are!

No one bill will cure the problem of spam. It will take a combined effort of legislation, litigation, enforcement, customer education, and technology solutions.
– David Baker –

Digital Afterlife – Death and an Exit Strategy

The chief problem about death, incidentally, is the fear that there may be no afterlife — a depressing thought, particularly for those who have bothered to shave. Also, there is the fear that there is an afterlife but no one will know where it’s being held.
– Woody Allen –

I’ve been thinking about Death lately. Not mine, specifically. Others. We’re spending part of the winter in Arizona, and most of our closest neighbours are considerably older than us. I fully expect to see a decline in the number of occupants at any time.

Emergency Services/The Fire Department have been on our street twice so far, but one time was to remove a rattlesnake from a garage and the other was to put a new key in the lock box just outside our front door. The Fire Department seems to only have one daily driver – a big shiny fire truck – so when the truck, and two or three burly young firemen arrive in our tiny cul-de-sac, it is quite the production.

I’ve also been thinking about the Afterlife.  I’m not inclined to believe in Heaven and Hell – not as locales I will be spending eternity in, at any rate. No, I’m thinking of Data Afterlife. Thanks to the Internet, little bits of my life will float around forever – or at least until Google figures out how to put an expiry date on blog posts that detail how much snow there was at the Red House during the great storm of ’11.

In addition to all those bits, there are the websites and accounts that require you to register a username and password before you can access any information. If left unattended, long after you have departed this world your Facebook Account will be sending your Email Account Happy Birthday messages.

Clearly I need to have an Exit Strategy in place. If my ultimate demise is slow enough, I will have time to cancel all those online accounts. But if my death is sudden, as it surely would be if that big saguaro cactus next to my lawn chair toppled over while I was engrossed in reading a book – well, I just wouldn’t have time to react, let alone post my farewell on this blog.

I started my Exit Strategy with a list. First I thought about all the Online Accounts that create a Public Presence. My list included a few of the following (you can likely add many more to this list):

  • Facebook
  • Myspace
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • eBay
  • special interest websites
  • blogs
  • business websites
  • gaming accounts

Then I thought about my Private Accounts, such as:

  • email
  • news readers
  • banking
  • credit cards
  • retail purchases
  • cloud web storage

Once I had my list, I thought about which ones I would want to close down (or have someone close down for me if I did suffer Death by Cactus). The most important one could be my email accounts. If they were hacked in my absence, all the addresses in the account would be fair game to the hacker – and all my friends would receive Viagra Spam.

Any account that had access to any of my banking information should also be closed down.

Any personal information that is stored on the web should also be removed. That would include personal photos and documents.

As for all the rest, I thought about:

  • What content I was willing to leave in the hands of all the insensitive, inappropriate, mischievous people who might take advantage of my absence.
  • Who was going to tell my Facebook friends that I wouldn’t be reading my timeline any time soon?
  • Who was going to say goodbye to all my faithful blog followers?
  • If I leave an account open, how long does it remain the property of my survivors? When does post mortem copyright expire? (This doesn’t actually apply to my content, but it might to yours.)
  • How do I want my online presence dealt with. Do I want all the information removed? Do I want it left online?

Last, but not least, I am working on an Action Plan (if the Canadian Government can have an Action Plan, so can I:

    • I’m making a list of all my internet accounts, with their URLs and my usernames.  I’ll state what I want done with each account. I’ll print this document, then hand print in my passwords and file it in a safe place. I’ll try to keep it up to date.
    • I’ll decide who will carry out my wishes. (I have no problem with The Car Guy or one of my children seeing all my online content.)

That pretty much wraps up my thoughts this week about Death and the Afterlife. How about you?

As for a future life, every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities.
– Charles Darwin –

Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.
– Camryn Manheim –

The VAIO computer ‘on’ button

The instructions for powering up my Sony VAIO laptop are pretty simple. They are found on a sheet of paper that is filed in a folder in the cabinet in our home office. They read:

Lift the LCD screen lid – Press the power button until the power indicator light turns on.

(Apparently I either never read those instructions, or if I did, I forgot them. And really, how much use is a piece of paper in the file cabinet anyhow?)

Unlike many computers, the power button for my laptop is a large button on the right side of the machine. Most laptops have a power button that is under the lid. If a button is under a lid, it can’t be pushed until the lid is opened. If it is on the outside, it says (to me anyhow) you can push me first if you like and then open the lid – which I have been doing for two years and it almost always caused the computer to start up. Almost always.

The first time my computer would not turn on, I ended up taking it to the  repair shop. They charged me $50 and told me they could find nothing wrong.  Apparently they opened the lid before they pushed the ‘on’ button, but they didn’t bother to explain that to me because, well, they assumed I would already know that.

The second time my computer would not turn on, I decided I had better trouble shoot the problem myself and save the $50. In the course of poking and prodding the lifeless little beast, I must have lifted the lid ever so slightly before pressing the power button. The computer leaped into action. It dawned on me then that the lid might have to be lifted ever so slightly before the computer would start, and yes, the instructions in the file cabinet confirmed that.

There are several lessons in this little story. The first is, just because you have done something in a certain way several thousand times, don’t assume you will always get the same result the next time you try it. All it takes is the smallest alteration of one insignificant parameter (in this case the ever so slight difference between a lid that is closed, and a lid that is not quite closed) to change the result. The second lesson is, learn from the mistakes of others – you can never live long enough to make them all yourself. (Don’t thank me, I’m glad to be a lesson in what not to do.)

There are three kinds of men; the ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.
– Will Rogers –

If Sony had a sticker on the lid of the computer that said “open the lid before pushing the ‘On’ button” would I have thought, “Gee, that is a helpful little piece of advice” or would I have thought “Duh, doesn’t everyone know that”?

Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unclutter – It’s UnFriday!

Drat. I missed Clean Your Computer Day – it was February 13. Please forgive me for being four days late in telling you all about the latest cleaning tool in my arsenal. It is called Unning – from the verb un. I know you think that un has to be a prefix, but I think it has the potential to be a rather good verb. Under what circumstances, you ask?

Let me give you a few examples from the unning I did this week, while I was connected to three large Clouds:

– I had some Facebook acquaintances who, it turns out, aren’t really people I would choose to have as real life friends, so I decided I would unfriend them. But not yet – for now I’ve hid them – unfriending seems a bit harsh.
– I had about 200 Google RSS feeds that I never had time to read, so I unsubscribed to them.
– I  had about 250 WordPress Blog feeds that I also never had time to read, so I unfollowed them.

Collectively, all this unfriending, unsubscribing and unfollowing can simply be called unning. Of course, I expect I will be unned in return, but I don’t mind. We all have to do what we have to do.

Unning can be done to things too. I unned my clothes closet the other day and now I have a bag of good, unfashionable, used clothes to take to Goodwill. I unned the book shelf and collected a box of books for the book exchange. I unned the chocolate box and  picked out all the bars that were just past their best before date and I ate them.

Today is Friday, which is a fine day to do some unning, so I propose we call it UnFriday! I’m looking forward to hearing all your stories of how you used the day to unclutter your life!

The Web

Apparently Napoleon Bonaparte said “A good sketch is better than a long speech” and from that we get the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  I don’t know who chose 1000 words – it could be only 10 words, or it could be 10,000, couldn’t it?

The blog Wordless Wednesday encourages photographers to post links to photos that don’t need descriptive words because the photo speaks for itself. That appealed to the lazy side of me, so I chose this photo, which I thought I would call The World Wide Web – a Bugs View.

So far so good, except, does the photo really look like the World Wide Web?  I consulted Wikipedia and they told me that the World Wide Web is “a collection of text documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URLs.” They even included this handy diagram:

This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at // under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.

Certainly looks a lot like my photo, but just to be sure, I enlarged a section of the photo in order to get a closer look.

Yes, my web photo looks an awful lot like the diagram, don’t you think?

So, let me see. Two photos, one diagram and almost 250 words –  I don’t think I’m the Wordless Wednesday type.

Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

Do I plug this into my left ear or my right ear?

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.
Unknown –

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life.

I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does.

I’m not just sitting idly by, though, waiting for the computer industry to fulfill my grand dream. I have piles and piles of other things that I can scan onto my computer. I won’t have to lug out photo albums, slide carousels and file folders full of wedding invitations and birth announcements. I’ll just power up my laptop, click on a year, and scroll down a page of memories.

The 35 mm slides and negs will be fairly easy to scan, as will old prints, cards, and letters. The 110 negs are going to be the challenge. Building my own 110 film holder isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I’m on Prototype 5, and it involves heavy card stock and my sewing machine…

Here are two of the photos I’ve revived in Photoshop Elements. The pictures certainly help me to retrieve the memories in my mind!

A small daughter was seeing life through rose colored sun glasses that day.


A successful launch sequence, lift off and landing!

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson –