11/24/09

Post transaction scammers

I don’t use this blog for rants; I prefer to do that in comments section right next the writer’s piece. But this online retailer scam is breathtaking in its breadth and audacity. Here’s the short of it and links to the article and the congressional information.

Article summary and link:
“Ever wonder if those last-minute offers on e-commerce sites for coupons and savings are actually legitimate? According to the Senate Commerce Committee, they are actually coordinated efforts to dupe consumers – to the tune of $1.4 billion.

“The committee on Tuesday released a report that slammed online marketing companies Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty for selling unfamiliar membership programs to consumers who are in the process of buying products on trusted Web sites.

“Entering the e-mail address actually signs consumers up for membership programs through companies like Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty, but many consumers do not read the fine print that explains this arrangement. Credit card information is pulled from the original purchase page. [Emphasis added!] Most do not know they have agreed to these services until the monthly charges show up on their credit card statements; most between $10 and $20.”

Congressional report key finding and link:
*Using aggressive sales tactics to enroll consumers in unwanted membership clubs is a billion-dollar business. Affinion, Vertrue, Webloyalty and their e-commerce partners have earned over $1.4 billion in revenue by using aggressive tactics to charge Internet shoppers for club membership programs. Since 1999, Internet consumers have been enrolled more than 35 million times in Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty‘s membership clubs. In June 2009, there were 4 million Internet consumers currently enrolled in these three companies‘ membership programs.“

Partners Paid Over $10 Million (and link):
1-800-Flowers.com 
Buy.com 
Classmates.com 
Columbia House
Confi-Check 
Expedia/Hotels.com 
Fandango FTD
Hotwire 
InQ Intelius 
MovieTickets.com
Orbitz 
Priceline 
Redcats USA 
Shutterfly
Travelocity 
US Airways 
VistaPrint

11/23/09

Saving a shot from Zurich, at night ...

Photoshop filters are great. But then the height of my photographical ambition is a great postcard.
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11/22/09

Why Google's work is interesting and useful ...

My grandfather shows up in a Google search in a Google-digitized book on the Chicago Medical Society.
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Why I froth on about Bryant and May ...

Christopher Fowler’s series about two aging London detectives is a treat to read, or listen to as I do. Much fun in Fowler’s knowledge of the city. I have high hopes of seeing Connery and Caine reprise their Man Who Would Be King film partnership playing these guys. From Fowler’s blog:
“Whenever I do a signing in a bookstore, there’s always someone in the queue who will say something like ‘Did you know there’s a statue of Mercury hidden on top of a fish shop near here?’ And I’ll set out to find it, and discover why it’s there. London’s peculiarities are peppered through all my books, and the most unbelievable parts of the stories are often the truest. I make up very little of the background material.”

Johnathan Livingstone Seagull with a twist ...

Kiwi style. Check out this video. Excellent!
Screenshot2009-11-22at10.01.30AM.rKTMxiElyN0b.jpgKiwi!

11/16/09

Acquiring November light 5 ...

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11/9/09

Ex opere ...

Not sure how this came up last night.

Ex opere operato: From the work that is done. A term defined by the Council of Trent to describe how the sacraments confer the grace they signify. Trent condemned the following proposition: "That grace is not conferred 'ex opere operato' by the sacraments of the New Law" (Denzinger 1608). Literally the expression means "from the work performed," stating that grace is always conferred by a sacrament, in virtue of the rite performed and not as a mere sign that grace has already been given, or that the sacrament stimulates the faith of the recipient and thus occasions the obtaining of grace, or that what determines the grace is the virtue of either the minister or recipient of a sacrament. Provided no obstacle (obex) is placed in the way, every sacrament properly administered confers the grace intended by the sacrament. In a true sense the sacraments are instrumental causes of grace.

Ex opere operantis: From the work as it is done (by the worker). A term mainly applied to the good dispositions with which a sacrament is received, to distinguish it from the ex opere operato, which is the built-in efficacy of a sacrament properly conferred. But it may refer to any subjective factor that at least partially determines the amount of grace obtained by a person who performs some act of piety. Thus in the use of sacramentals or in the gaining of indulgences, the blessings received depend largely on the faith and love of God with which a sacramental is employed or an indulgenced prayer or good work is performed.

Acquiring November light ...

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11/6/09

"Regulation can never cure the disease of excessive risk."

Great quote in a helpful interview. Not that I don’t believe in regulation.
“You also can’t excuse Alan Greenspan for handing out free money to Wall Street every time the big firms screwed up over the past thirty years. It gave them incentive to double down on their risky bets until of course they double-downed so much the system blew up.” Charlie Gasparino

11/5/09

Gloucester fishing in the day of sail

My grandfather James Campbell fished out of Gloucester and Boston during the 1880s and 1890s, according to my cousins Jim Campbell and Father Louis, family memoirist. I found the photo below in Joseph E. Garland’s Gloucester on the Wind, credited to photographer Martha Rodgers Harvey, from this collection of photos of Gloucester’s fishing fleet in the days of sail. Compare with the painting by Winslow Homer, Gloucester Schooners and Sloop, dated about 1880.
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Note from the revolution: ebook readers and applications

So, as noted yesterday, I need to revise the matrix on ebook readers. This gives me a chance to rave and rant briefly.
* On the rave side, in this revision, Stanza wins. And it is a winner. Try it on your ‘puter if you don’t own a ‘pod. Stanza’s ability to convert web documents into ebooks, with its bookmarking and annotation tools, is big. Bigger yet is Stanza’s lack of DRM, digital rights management, limits, which I scored heavily. Others might disagree with this weighting.
* Which leads to my rant about DRM. It’s simple: If I can’t sell a tune, book, film, app, whatever that I have purchased, then I don’t own it in the first place​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​; I am merely leasing its use. So all the DRM types out there are, for me, categorically wrong headed. This is particularly true of books, which we are used to giving, lending, donating, and reselling as part of any given book’s life cycle. Resale of property is an inherent trait of ownership. Those media vendors that mess with that piece will not succeed ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​finally. On the other hand, the first place (my guess is Amazon but why not eBay?), that lets me resell my s. And make a pile of geld.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
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11/4/09

Note from the revolution ...

Today I revised and reposted a chart analyzing the current generation of ebook readers. Stanza, mentioned, is not a reader but an application for use on a ‘puter or ‘pod. Unnoted in my analysis is a terrific feature, whereby Stanza will pull in text from a website and recreate it as an ebook for use on ‘puter, ‘pod, or kindle. I have sized the screen shot below to my ‘pod. Note that the font size can be enlarged; this shot displays my preference. Anyway it’s a deal-maker ingredient for any ebook reader or app. (That said. I have to revise the chart again.)

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Fontainebleau Forest with friends ...

We had a fine walk with Ruth Anne and Paddy on our visit to F√©ricy. My shot didn’t do it justice. See Claude Monet’s The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest, 1865.
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Lead like the great conductors ...

Jim Campbell published this link to a Ted Talk on Facebook.

“An orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating perfect harmony without saying a word. In this charming talk, Itay Talgam demonstrates the unique styles of six great 20th-century conductors, illustrating crucial lessons for all leaders.”

More on ebook reading devices and programs ...

Well the revolution is here. Maybe four ebook reading devices were announced in the last week. I think they are all trying to get positioned before the Apple Slate shows up in the spring. Here’s a revision of my analysis sheet. It’s not comprehensive; it includes the main contenders.
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