Archive for the ‘Alec Difrawi’ Category

The Pathological Liar & The Internet Infrastructure

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Wouldn’t a pathological liar feel more secure in hiding their identity through the internet infrastructure?

While many will find extraordinary freedom in the Internet, for others the Internet may only feed into mental obsessions.

The Internet opens windows for copying identities, creating unique meanings, and then ditching these. It allows for the creations of whatever perception and with the ultimate opportunities for deception. It allows for the distortion of our own images or for the coping of another’s lifetime.

If as a pathological liar you are obsessed with and convinced of your lies, the Internet seems the ideal place to exist. Threats and legal action against such a person will be difficult if not impossible to carryout.

Research attests that easier and better lying occurs over the Internet rather than in person. In person, physical reactions to human lies make the phenomenon more obvious. But deception through the Internet occurs even when we try to avoid it.  Consider the instances where you communicate over the Internet and find the receiver oblivious to your intended tone.

Some signs of a pathological liar include obsession and distance from humane associations. A healthy author may attack even the worst of people through exposing some of the good that could have been (with their creativity or brilliance for example). They often attempt to reason why this individual grew to be so and then they often show pity for the lost soul.

A pathological liar on the other hand, will be disposed to only attack. They will not be able to identify with the human behind their villain. Thus the villain (to them) grows relentlessly more monstrous.

For the pathological liar, the Internet must be an awesome tool. It allows them to control feedback they wish to avoid, it grants them whatever illusion they can draw. The Internet provides endless sources for a mind that knows no limits to lies.

Be safe.

Related Articles:

Online Deception and Lies – The Reasons

Study: Lying comes easier on the Internet

Why People Are Better At Lying Online Than Telling A Lie Face-To-Face

Free Speech vs. Illegal Speech

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Freedom of speech is a true phenomenon across the (uncensored) Internet.

In countless ways the Internet allows us to discuss unbound topics and target distant audiences. It enunciates voices that otherwise may remain silent. It shares. It brings perspectives to new points allowing for research, discussions, and visuals as never before.

But through the same awesomeness, the Internet advances piracy and fact fabrication. It brings these issues of fraudulent and stolen work into new extremes. It alters the righteousness associated with free speech. It attests that not until the Internet phenomenon was the freedom of speech contemplated without the accountability of speech.

Should there be punishments for illegally published work on the Internet? Should there be restrictions or limits? Is the real punishment not defining your own judgment? Is the real tragedy misunderstanding?

Creating a Conspiracy

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

There are many reasons to create a conspiracy. Maybe you’re interested in harming a reputation, maybe you’re bored. You could sincerely become convinced of the conspiracy you created or you could be doing it for personal fulfillment. For whatever the reason, we strongly encourage you to consider other options. Conspiracies can be manipulative, undermining, and unbearably destructive. And the ways to spread them are countless. Outlined is one of these ways:

Utilize the Internet

  • For better or worse, it allows you remain anonymous

Create a fraud exposing website

  • Declare to be a fraud exposer and others will be less likely to accuse you of fraud

Attack appropriate companies and entrepreneurs

  • Companies with growing consumer bases
  • Not widely popular and trusted names
  • Polite enough to resist hiring a hit man

Create compelling fraud theories

  • Remind the reader that the company is in business to make money
  • Make as many connections as possible even when they seem impossible
  • Reopen old scars, no one learns from their own mistakes
  • Explain actual starting steps, confirm to new consumers that the scam has begun

Repeat theories until they become facts

  • Create different online profiles to self-publish these
  • Write complaints on as many consumer sites as possible

Call to action

  • Tell the reader that they’re lucky, they could have been a real victim
  • Remind the reader that it’s their duty to protect others
  • Help the reader, show them the best places to complain (AG offices, TV stations, and the BBB)

Return to the fraud exposing website

  • Post links for more information on the scam
  • Post links for more information on how to protect others
  • More credit to the website means more credibility for the website

Related Articles:

How to create a conspiracy theory: 4 easy steps

Three steps to building your own conspiracy theory

Online reputation management

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Online reputation management

Protecting one’s online reputation – personal or professional – is extremely important in this day and age. The power of the Internet should never be underestimated. Dissatisfied customers, bitter co-workers and disgruntled employees alike have the potential to seriously damage one’s image on the web.

In order to protect one’s reputation, it is crucial to exercise self-control and censorship when posting content to the Internet. Social networks are an easy place to get carried away and share comments or opinions that might later be used against a person.

One should never forget that content published in an online platform such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs can be viewed by anyone: This means potential employers, recruiters and clients. Most networks are directly associated with one’s name and will come up in an online search.

Many forget that content posted online cannot only be found, but it has the potential to stay there permanently.

Personal censorship is an easy thing to control online. If it seems like something that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to one’s reputation, it is probably best left unsaid. But what other people have to say about a person or business on the Internet is an entirely different and much more difficult situation to manage.

The beauty of the Internet – and its inherent danger – is that anyone has the power to post anything they want. This means that satisfied clients can rave about a business or its products, whereas cynics and disgruntled customers can just as easily blow off some steam in a blog or review.

Businesses should monitor such online conversations to find out what people are saying about them and to discover which issues need to be addressed. After determining which comments could turn into potential problems, the next step is to resolve them.

A common solution in dealing with online criticism is to simply delete the comments. Although this might be an easy short-term answer to the problem, it’s not always the best idea. In doing so, this conveys to the online community that a person or business has something to hide.

The best thing to do in this situation is to respond to the critical commentary in an apologetic and understanding manner. The customer is always right, and unfortunately, this translates to the social sphere as well. Most dissatisfied clients will appreciate the time and attention they received with a response to their issue, which may even lead them to remove the comment and gain a new perspective on the issue.

Another way to respond to negative online comments is through a blog. Creating a blog with one’s name in the URL will create favorable search engine result pages (SERPs) when people look up the name of a person or business. This will help to push some of the negative content down on the list of results and keep the blog at the top.

Blogs also give the receiver of negative commentary a chance to defend him or herself in a respectable and legitimate online platform. Frequently updating the blog will help the positive content to be viewed before the criticisms. Google responds well to fresh content, and by tagging keywords that are relevant to the issues that need to be resolved, the content of the blog will be more visible in search engine results.

Ideally, all potentially reputation-tarnishing issues online could be resolved via direct communication with the person or organization that originally posted the comment. However, there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who are bitter and quick to jump at the opportunity to criticize.

If a problem can be solved through an apology or explanation, this is the best way to handle it. When you’ve exhausted all other avenues, however, the best way to increase your positive presence online is to create new, engaging content.

WORKS CITED:

Berline, Amanda. “How To Protect Your Online Reputation” Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/01/online-reputation-protect-leadership-careers-networking.html Accessed 10/17/11

Carracher, Jamie. “4 Ways to Protect the Reputation of Your Small Business Online” Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/10/15/protect-small-business-reputation-online/ Accessed 10/17/11

Weinberg, Tamar. “Manage Your Online Reputation” lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/357460/manage-your-online-reputation Accessed 10/17/11

Steve Jobs’s death provokes Internet scams

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Whenever tragedy strikes, Internet scammers are close on the trail with a new ruse to reel in the unsuspecting.

Fraudulent donation funds followed the natural disasters of the Haiti earthquake and the Japan tsunami. Amy Winehouse’s death in July prompted a slew of fake Facebook pop-ups. Most recently, Steve Jobs’s passing has given virtual conmen new fodder to work with.

Within just a few hours of the news breaking about Steve Jobs’ death last week, cyber criminals were hard at work littering the Internet with new scams. Facebook is a popular platform for such fraudulent activity, targeting users that are click-friendly and unwary of being duped.

One such Facebook scam involving the Apple co-founder announced the giving away of 1,000 iPads in commemoration of Steve Jobs. As with most scams on Facebook, users are asked to click on a link which then shares the post on their wall.

In order to be eligible for the iPad drawing, people on Facebook were redirected to an advertising site. Each time a visitor went to the site, the scammer’s earnings increased.

Another variation of the Steve Jobs scam asked users to complete an online survey before they could receive their free iPad or other Apple device. The survey required sensitive personal information, such as birth dates and even credit card numbers for shipping purposes.

The deceptive sites also infected computers with malware when users clicked the links. Some of these websites worked on commission, and with an increase in traffic, came an increase in revenue.

Most Internet scams work in the same fashion: They get people to click on links, share the post with others, and give away their sensitive information.

The Better Business Bureau put out a warning against the Steve Jobs Internet scam, and they urged people to be suspicious of any posts advertising free products and asking users to complete online surveys, especially those on Facebook.

Scammers often target Facebook users because of their click-happy and social nature. Facebook is considered to be somewhat of a community where friends share things. If a friend shares a link for free iPads, most assume that they can trust their judgment and sign up for the free stuff as well.

It’s unfortunate that evildoers out there prey on unsuspecting and trustworthy Internet users. To use someone’s death for monetary benefit is a disgraceful act, but it continues to happen each time a newsworthy event occurs.

Facebook has 800 million users, and in the eyes of scammers, they’re all potential prey and sources of income.

In order to steer clear of such situations, it’s important to follow a few key guidelines. Don’t ever give out credit card numbers or personal information, be wary of anything that looks suspicious, and above all, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

WORKS CITED:

Hart, Janet C. “BBB: Watch Out for Internet Scams Related to Steve Jobs’ Death” BBB http://charlotte.bbb.org/article/BBB-Watch-Out-for-Internet-Scams-Related-to-Steve-Jobs-Death-29901 Accessed 10/11/11

“Steve Jobs’ death spawns scams” channelnewasia.com http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/technologynews/view/1158287/1/.html Accessed 10/10/11

Reebok to refund $25m to consumers over deceptive ads

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Reebok to refund $25m to consumers over deceptive ads

Some things are just too good to be true. Among these is attaining a state of physical fitness without any exercising.

Reebok, which claimed that their EasyTone shoes strengthen and tone muscles in the legs, thighs and buttocks, announced last week that they will be refunding $25 million to consumers who purchased the footwear on or after December 5, 2009.

Over the past twenty years, the US population has suffered increasingly from poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. In a nation where one-third of adults are obese, Reebok built an advertising campaign for their EasyTone shoes on the American desire to get the benefits of exercise without having to do the necessary work.

The “balance pod technology” featured in the soles of the EasyTone footwear was developed by former NASA engineer Bill McInnis, who currently serves as the Head of Innovation for Reebok.

Over 18 months, McInnis developed the EasyTone system, which features rounded shoe soles that use natural instability in every step to force the wearer to use more muscles to achieve balance. EasyTone sneakers are intended for walking only, and Reebok discourages consumers from using them for sports, as injury is likely to occur.

Although Reebok was the first to incorporate the balance pod technology into their footwear, New Balance and Skechers also make use of a similar system.

Introduced in 2009, Reebok had one of their most successful product launches with the EasyTone and its advertising campaign. In 2010, the toning footwear became extremely popular and opened up a $1.1 billion market that included shoes, flip-flops, and apparel.

Playing on the notion that sex sells, Reebok’s EasyTone ads featured women in short shorts and well-formed derrieres, claiming that the shoes were proven to lead to 28 percent more strength and tone in buttock muscles and 11 percent more in hamstring and calf muscles when compared to regular walking shoes.

The ads targeted women that live busy lifestyles and little time for a gym membership.

After various studies challenging the advertisement claims, the Federal Trade Commission announced that there was no evidence to support Reebok. Research by the American Council on Exercise concluded that the toning shoes did not lead to increased muscle activation or energy expenditure.

Some consumers have even reported that they suffered from various injuries due to wearing the EasyTone shoes, such as shin splints, twisted ankles and sore muscles.

In response to government interaction, Reebok reached a settlement with the FTC and agreed to refund up to $25 million to people who bought the EasyTone shoes. Those eligible for the settlement claim are able to fill out a form provided by the FTC and Reebook for a refund.

Reebok footwear that features the balance pod technology includes EasyTone flip-flops ($60), EasyTone walking shoes ($80 to $100) and RunTone running shoes ($80 to $100).

Reebok’s advertising campaign was ingenious: It appealed to the American desire to have an attractive body, yet catered to the fact that our culture is busy and lacks time or motivation for a gym membership.

Reebok compelled thousands of consumers to flock to retail shops everywhere and purchase the magical shoes. In the end, Reebok learned a difficult and expensive lesson – one that will cost them fiscally now and a lowered reputation in the future.

WORKS CITED:

Aviles, Kay. “A Quick Glimpse on Reebok’s ‘EasyTone’ Sneaker” International Business Times http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/223345/20111002/a-quick-glimpse-on-reebok-s-easytone-sneakers.htm Accessed 10/3/11

Freeman, Hadley. “Reebok EasyTone: the shoes that undermines all fitness advertising” theguardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/blog/2011/sep/29/reebok-easytone-ftc-fine?newsfeed=true Accessed 10/3/11

Skidmore, Sarah. “Reebok to pay $25M over toning shoes claims” The Associated Press http://www.suntimes.com/business/7932713-420/reebok-to-pay-25m-over-toning-shoe-claims.html Accessed 10/3/11

Facebook and Spotify: Two, together

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Facebook’s been gearing up to take on the biggest challenge of all: your taste in everything.

The social media giant is growing older and maturing. With 800 million users worldwide, it’s still the top site of its kind, but some changes may be due to its need to stay relevant and compete with the Google+s of the world.

Unveiled in June of 2011, Google+ now has 20 million users – still a far cry from the global domination of Facebook, but its numbers are steadily climbing.

Some changes to Facebook are simply aesthetic – a new “Top Stories” feature, extending the 500-character post limit to 5,000, and an overwhelmingly up-to-date news ticker about all Facebook friends’ activities all the time.

Probably the most important change to Facebook, announced on September 22nd at the F8 developer conference in San Francisco, is their partnership with almost a dozen different music services – including Spotify, Slacker Radio, Soundcloud, Earbits, Vevo, Rhapsody and others.

Launched in 2008 in Sweden, Spotify has gained massive popularity in the past few months, thanks in part to its promotion by Zuckerberg. The new partnership will surely further the music service’s success and possibly establish them as the social media music service of choice.

Integrated to Facebook’s Open Graph app platform, Facebook users can use Spotify to share songs and playlists with friends in real time. Endorsed by Zuckerberg as an excellent way for users to make new musical discoveries and further share interests with friends, Spotify is indeed the most prominent of Facebook’s new batch of musical partnerships.

Facebook users can expect to see play buttons to start popping up on their pages, seamlessly connecting them to music shared by friends and allowing them to stream it on the spot.

Instead of developing their own music service, Facebook decided to be a host to others. By not having to deal with licensing and expansion, the service can continue to focus on its number one priority: growing its user base.

There has been some controversy surrounding Facebook’s partnership with Spotify, but the biggest debate has been over Spotify’s new necessity for users to belong to Facebook in order to create a new music account.

When a user goes to the Spotify page, they are required to have a Facebook account and are prompted to create one if they don’t already. Similar to the game service Zynga’s growth – which was linked to the success of the social network – Spotify is now connected to Facebook in more than just sharing music.

Before their partnership with Facebook, Spotify was its own entity and required no connection to another service. But, now one cannot exist without the other; It’s become a symbiotic Internet relationship.

Whether or not Spotify will rise to such web stardom as its new partner will depend upon Facebook users’ abilities to willingly accept the new integration. At this point, however, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before Spotify does assume a leadership role in the music streaming industry, eventually ousting competitors like Rdio and Grooveshark thanks to it being Facebook’s default music service of choice.

WORKS CITED:

Butcher, Mike. “Controversy as Spotify requires new users to be on Facebook first” TechCrunch http://eu.techcrunch.com/2011/09/26/controversy-as-spotify-requires-new-users-to-be-on-facebook-first/

Roettgers, Janko. “Facebook teams up with Spotify, Turntable.fm to let users share music” Gigaom http://gigaom.com/2011/09/22/facebook-teams-up-with-spotify-turntable-fm-to-let-users-share-music/

Warren, Christina. “Spotify Comes to Facebook” Mashable Entertainment http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/facebook-music-spotify/

Fear-Mongering Debt Collectors

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Debt collectors can call at any hour of the day. Any number associated with your name is fair game and demanding that you pay, perhaps multiple times per day, is the next step. Some debt collectors even go so far as to threaten with lawsuits, involvement of the authorities, or even violence.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the Better Business Bureau sent out a recent alert warning people of such illegitimate and harassing debt collectors. Consumer fraud, which includes debt collection scams, is consistently among the top ten complaints received by the BBB.

Some of the debt collection agencies are legitimate businesses, but they occasionally mistake a person’s name or even go after those who have had their identities stolen. In such scenarios, the debts are real but do not belong to the person being called. Sometimes, these agents can be so convincing and threatening that people will pay just to bring an end to the harassment.

Often times, the debt collectors possess real information such as telephone numbers, proof of actual debt and even social security numbers. This is usually enough to convince a person that they do owe money, especially if they’re already in debt and can’t keep track of which accounts are which.

Avoiding these situations is as easy as knowing consumer rights, according to the article. It is a law that a debt collector must provide written proof of the debt owed. This usually translates into a letter, physically sent through the US Postal Service, not an email or outlandish claims over a telephone.

As a consumer, you should always demand written proof of any debt in question. One should never give out personal information to a third party before confirming that it’s legitimate via their bank.

It’s also within consumers’ best interests to regularly check their credit scores and reports via their bank or a legitimate company. They can set up alerts, get identity theft insurance and even debt counseling, all for a miniscule monthly rate or a small credit deducted monthly from their account.

Harassing calls can be intrusive and even scary, but one should never give in without written proof of the debt and knowledge of personal debts. Before giving any information, money or even time to debt collectors, make sure you always use a legitimate source for information. Whether it’s your bank, the BBB, or another agency is your call, but always use at least one.

iPads and Other Technologies Enter the Restaurant Industry

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Technology has been used to improve customer service since the beginning of business. It’s made its way into grocery stores via self-checkout systems, at banks’ ATMs and even at airlines’ boarding pass kiosks.

One sector of the economy that has been somewhat sluggish to implement new technology, though, has been the restaurant industry.

According to a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, tech-savvy restaurant owners around the country are challenging this trend. Stacked: Food Well Built – a three-location restaurant in California – provides an iPad on every table to create a more efficient and technologically advanced restaurant experience.

Customers can use the tablets to create their own combinations of pizza, burgers and salads by dragging ingredients with their fingers across the screen. They can also fully order the food, alert their server, or pay via the device, as well.

The use of iPads allows for fewer servers, faster food delivery, better service and less of a wait time for food. According to the National Restaurant Association, only 2 percent of full-service restaurants currently use such technology for ordering or payment at the table.

Advanced technologies in the restaurant business will take a while to catch on, mainly thanks to the high initial investment cost of the technology. At $500 per iPad, restaurant owners and managers might shudder at the thought of multiplying that by the number of tables they have, plus extra minor equipment costs.

The iPad, however, isn’t the only cutting-edge tech device that’s finding its way into the restaurant industry. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune article, restaurants have started branching out significantly thanks to phone apps: guests can pay their bill, order food ahead of time, or see their wait time, all from one unified app. They can even opt to have their receipts emailed to them after their meal.

The growing use of technology in restaurants isn’t without its drawbacks. Implementation of these expensive technologies means that any given establishment will shed employees, and those who are put out of work won’t necessarily be qualified for the jobs that increased tech sales will create. Furthermore, those who are – for the sake of argument – over 30 may not be on board with the fact that there will be significantly less face-to-face interaction with the staff at restaurants.

No facet of the world can escape the changes that technology is bringing. Every industry, regardless of size or spread, will be drastically altered. Some industries – such as the restaurant – will be slow to adapt, but in a few years’ time, the world will probably be surprised to see what kind of changes have taken place at its favorite eateries.

Old Newspapers for Biofuel

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Have you ever glanced down at your newspaper over a morning coffee and wondered, “Maybe I can turn this into fuel…”? Well, if your answer is yes, then you are in luck. According to a recent article in USAToday, it is quite possible to produce butanol from newspapers with the help of a bacterial microbe.

In the process of consuming newspaper, the microbe excretes butanol, a biofuel that can be substituted for gasoline. The microbes are specifically attracted to the cellulose wood pulp that is used to make the paper.

This bacterial microbe is nothing new. It was discovered a few years ago, and its potential to produce ethanol was realized by scientists. But the recent discovery of its abilities to make butanol is something new and different. Butanol is actually better than ethanol because it does not require any modifications to fuel gas-powered engines.

In addition, butanol behaves similarly in gas mileage performance, whereas ethanol accounts for a 27% loss of energy per gallon of gas. These days with the price of gasoline hovering around $4 per gallon, a 27% amounts to about $1 more per gallon, so it makes a big difference.

You may be wondering why I am taking the time to report on this subject, and I will tell you why. Our natural resources are slowly but surely dwindling away. Whether we like it or not, there is only a certain amount of oil left in the world, and at some point, we will run out.

It is extremely important to explore new avenues of energy production, and the more we can find, the better off we will be in the future. This bacterial microbe kills two birds with one stone. Newspapers are either discarded or recycled, and they require time and energy to do so. The microbe eats something that we normally just throw away, and produces an energy source in the process.

It remains unclear just how scientists will put the microbe to use and if the butanol will ever serve as a widespread source of energy. The popular trend of alternate energy these days is electric or hybrid cars, which is also a valuable replacement for the traditional and time-honored use of gasoline.

Either way, I’m a fan of those little newspaper-eating bacterial microbes. Anything that eats our trash and gives us something good in the process is a winner in my book.