Don’t Use!

December 4, 2008

My dear mother just fell victim to a phishing scam from  As a result, was able to hack into and steal her entire contact list and email everyone on this list.  My mother had to email an apology to all her contacts.

Rather than explain what happened, I thought I’d reprint an edited version of her email.  It’s chock full of info — now I know where I got my Proud Geek-ness from!

Dear Friends,

I sent out an email two days ago, asking you to join and it seemed a little strange. I did some online searching and apparently this is some kind of phishing scam. Here are some links to information about the scam. You may want to alert your address book to the scam!­reunioncom-will-scrape-your-­address-book-then-spam-your-­contacts­reports/0/348/RipOff0348286.­htm

Here’s the information from this one:

This company should be banned from the Internet. Here’s what happened to me last week. First of all, let me explain that I have been a member of for about 5 years, and it is a very reputable site that does nothing illegal or objectionable.

So when I got an e-mail about in my Hotmail Inbox, I thought it was similar. WRONG! I signed up for the free service, and started typing information into my ‘Profile’, which was quite inclusive, although you could pick and choose what information to give. Here’s what they did: the idea is to keep you online long enough for them to get into your e-mail account and literally STEAL your entire CONTACTS LIST!

How do I know? Luckily, two of my best friends were online at the time, and one sent an e-mail, and one called me on the phone, asking me ‘what’s up with this invitation to join me on’ I hadn’t been on the site for more than 10 minutes and they had already hacked my e-mail!

Here’s what I did: I immediately deleted all the information I had typed in, logged out, and left the site, and my Firefox preferences prompted me to remove all my personal information from the previous session. It was too late, unfortunately, so I immediately contacted every single person on my Contacts List with a note of apology and explanation that I had been inadvertently, innocently been raided by this disgusting company before I had even finished my profile, and that in no way had I given them permission to contact my friends. I told every person to report the e-mail that they had received as a ‘Phishing Scam’ and then put the original message into their Junk Folder. and delete it.

(For those of you who don’t know what Phishing is, it’s a devious and much more effective cyber variation on the old ‘fishing expedition’ trick, wherein someone asks you a lot of personal questions in order to get something they want: your name, address, even your social security number, and then on to your whole ID.) Hotmail allows you to report any suspicious e-mail as a Phishing Scam; I don’t know about other sites, but Ã…OL makes it very difficult, it seems you can only put it in Spam,which still allows the perp to continue scamming other innocent people.

Anyway, after I did that, I went back into, and sure enough, all my info was still there. I searched around for a way to cancel my membership, and sure enough, the only way is to call the toll free number given, be put on hold forever, and only that after you navigate your way through endless prompts. I am so enraged at these people there is no way to express it. Since my info’s been out there, and even if my membership’s canceled, a whole lot of other people have it, I’ve been getting a lot of junk mail about ‘guess who’s looking for you’, ‘guess who’s got a crush on you,’ etc. etc. I trash them all.

This definitely should be a matter for the FCC, since they are using the Internet to steal people’s information nationwide, maybe even worldwide. Don’t fall for it under any circumstances. Join (((competitor’s name redacted))) instead: you’ll be glad you did.


If you get a Wall message saying the following, DO NOT VISIT THAT SITE listed in the Wall message!!

has anyone messaged you to let you know your facebook pic was just featured on [site URL removed]

If you do visit that site and enter your log-in information and other information, that site will then “harvest” your facebook friends list and send them spam, fill your in-box with spam, and charge your cell phone $9.99 a month.  Yes, that bad!

The following websites seem to be involved — avoid them at all costs:,, and …  [Update 1/12/2009: Also, ]

A blog, Play This Magazine, has an excellent explanation of what happens if you do log in and let it steal your information.  Raises the hair on my back and sends shivers down my spine …

Here’s a picture of what this wall post looks like:

EDIT: If you DO visit this site, you won’t be able to leave that page or even close your browser!  If that happens, and you’re using a PC (not Mac), press CTRL-ALT-DEL, select “Task Manager,” click on the “Process” tab, and find your Internet browser listed in it (“Firefox.exe” for Firefox, or “iexplore.exe” for IE, or “netscp.exe” for Netscape).  Select that on the list and click on “End Process,” and say “Yes” to the warning.

On a Mac, press option-Apple-Esc.  That’ll bring up a “Force Quit” dialog box. Choose your web browser (Firefox, Safari, whatever), and press the “Force Quit” button.  (Thanks, Jenny!!)

So much for the thought that if you just stayed at home, you’d avoid being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Some new granite counters being installed in kitchens (and some bathrooms!) have high levels of radon, caused by decaying uranium (which, of course, is radioactive in its own right).

Hmm. Two things come to mind:

  1. Forget Iran and North Korea. Anybody who has a high-end kitchen can manufacture nuclear weapons without leaving his/her kitchen.
  2. We no longer need microwaves.

And now a study says arsenic in our tap water may have contributed to a higher prevalence of diabetes in our population.

Geesh. Honey, let’s eat out tonight?

Last December, I enthusiastically blogged about Wisp Flameless Candles by Glade. At that time I said it was wonderful how we could have something that looked and smelled like candles, and yet was safe to have around kids.

No Wisp Flameless CandlesWell, no longer. I can no longer recommend Wisp Flameless Candles.


Ah, the glass containers break much too easily. They shatter into huge shards, and when they shatter, they don’t just shatter. They jump all over the place!  I dropped one a month or two ago, and it shattered on the tile floor so explosively that a shard jumped up higher than me and then hit my head.  I’m bald, and thank goodness the shard must’ve hit me on its dull side. And last night, I cut my finger while cleaning up glass shards from another one that my daughters broke.

I can only imagine what would’ve happened had one of my young daughters tried to clean up.

So, I can no longer recommend those flameless candles.

Just be careful when you dispose of yours. And leave a comment if you know of a safer flameless candle.

When I got onto my computer, I opened Facebook — and saw a friend’s status message that said:

woke up at 5:35 am… thanks to earthquake, that shake in Indiana

Earthquake status message on facebook

Whoa, an earthquake? In Indiana?! I sent that friend a wall-to-wall message asking if it was a meteorite strike rather than an earthquake, like what happened in another part of the USA the day before. No, it was indeed an earthquake, she said, and a 5.4 magnitude earthquake at that.

CNN soon confirmed it. A 5.4 magnitude earthquake took place in Illinois, and was felt as far away as where my friend is in Indiana. There are photos of damage. CNN has (at this moment) even stripped its home page to the bare basics to make it load quicker because so many people have been “hitting” CNN’s home page for news.

CNN earthquake article screenshot

I’ve heard of people using the social features of the Internet to share news.  This is similar to when people use Twitter to get out of jail in Egypt.  But this is my first time I’ve heard of a major news story from a friend via Facebook before I heard of it elsewhere on the news.

Getting word out about something newsworthy on a national scope, and having friends hear about it first before the news even report it? That’s something new, and that’s certainly something powerful.

Folks who are in the earthquake zone, keep us updated via your Facebook status messages, willya? And hope all is well at your homes and elsewhere.

Wanna make sure your laptop has enough juice to last all through the DC-to-LA flight? Bring extra batteries, but just make sure you aren’t running afoul of new FAA restrictions on bringing batteries onto planes.

Thanks to a helpful Yahoo tech blog post, I’m able to make sense of the restrictions. I’m surprised I haven’t seen this news elsewhere in the blog-a-verse.

In a nutshell:

  • Alkaline and nickel batteries (nearly all of our non-rechargeable AA / AAA / C / D / etc batteries) aren’t covered by these new rules.  So, it’s ok to bring many of these batteries in your checked luggage (the luggage that you check through and which is stored in the plane’s ‘belly’) as well as in your carry-on bag (the bag you carry onto the plane with you and stow under a seat or in an overhead compartment).
  • Lithium-based batteries (especially the popular li-on batteries) are what are covered under the new rules.
  • You can’t bring batteries with more than 8 grams of lithium content. But nearly all li-on laptop batteries — even the long rectangular ones — have much less than 8 grams of lithium content. Only the really large, lap-sized, all-day batteries have more than 8 grams of lithium content.
  • The Yahoo tech blog post has a very helpful explanation on how to calculate whether your laptop batteries have less than 8 grams:

How do you know how much lithium is in a battery? An 8-gram battery equals about 100 watt-hours of power. Now, your battery won’t say how many watt-hours it provides, but it’s easy to do the math. Look on the bottom and you’ll find a voltage rating and a mAh (milliamp-hours) rating. Multiply these two together and divide by 1,000. That’s your watt-hours. In the (big) battery I’m looking at as an example, it offers 11.1 volts and 7,800 mAh. Multiply and divide by 1,000 and you get 86.58 watt-hours, acceptable under the new rules.

  • Any batteries with lithium content cannot be stored in your checked luggage unless it’s installed in an equipment (like inside a camera or laptop). Loose / spare batteries have to be carried onto the plane in your carry-on plane.
  • However, you can bring a maximum of two batteries that break the 8 gram rule — but, combined, these two monster batteries cannot have more than 25 grams of lithium.

Also see FAA’s safety tips for when you’re carrying several lithium-ion batteries. These tips were actually very helpful for me — I hadn’t realized that just letting these batteries rattle around in your bag could be dangerous. Whoops.

Happy trails!

Facebook LogoIf you’ve been a Facebook member long enough (or if you’re popular enough), chances are you’ve already gotten a request to approve a “Secret Crush” from a friend.

In a word: DON’T!

(Well, I know “DON’T” is actually two words. Just listen, ok?)

When you approve this request, you’re then asked to download and install an application onto your computer. This application actually installs an adware program, potentially causing numerous pop-up ads to appear on your screen. In addition, this program could expose your computer to other scams and malware programs.

So, if you’re a Facebook friend of mine, don’t send me a “secret crush.” Tell me directly via Facebook email. Better yet, send me a Facebook video email. But remember, I’ve got a boyfriend who I’m in love with and who I’ll celebrate my 11-year anniversary later this month. So, stay away.

Thanks, MarketWatch.

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