Eventful week

First off, I’ll give you one in a little nutshell one of those good news/bad news deals. I found a job with RGIS Inventory, which is good. The bad news is that it pays $8.00/hr and is part time. I expect no more than 30 hours per week on the average, about the same as my unemployment benefits. The only advantage is it isn’t slated to run out next August.

So I’ll need a second part time job to supplement it. I consulted Craigslist.org. I found some freelance copy writing ads there that looked for all the world like some employers in Columbus needed some copy rewritten. I emailed an answer, attached my resumé and a link back to my WordPress blog, and waited for their reply.

That was almost a mistake, because an autoresponder that called itself Debbie Taylor mailed me right back with a link that landed me on the Freelance Home Writers page, a slick-looking page with a green border and a picture of a thoughtful woman wearing glasses on it. Made me sick to see it, because all the scam warning signs were there. The unrealistic amounts of money to be had, another picture of a call center operator with a headset and the slogan “Operators Are Standing By” if you go deep enough into it and the nagging question: Where are they getting the money to pay for the web page and the operators?

Some additional investigation confirmed my suspicions. Other hapless folk took the bait, and now they are dealing with unauthorized charges made to their credit cards.

Why in the world was I expecting anything else from Craigslist? Brother, here’s your real sickness of the Internet. Blogs like mine, however drama-laden they may be, are still the sting of a mosquito compared to traps like this laid out for desperate job-seekers. I’ve already done my part against Freelance Home Writers. I’ve filled out a complaint against them at the web site of my state attorney general. Thankfully, I didn’t lose any money, but I complained on the basis that the best you can say about Freelance Home Writers is they are a technical school with a job placement service, and have no business advertising like an employer with openings to fill.

Heck! Even a real technical school knows when to stop charging you tuition when you’ve learned all you need to know.

So now I’m thinking I can still make this freelance writing thing work. All I have to do is find this little known information for which this scammer is soaking its suckers for $50 a month. After some research I found this site called Freelancer.com. Here, it is free for employers to advertise for all kinds of freelance workers from multitudes of disciplines, and free for said workers to sign on and bid on jobs.

They only time Freelancer.com charges is when an employer chooses a freelancer and the freelancer accepts the job. $5.00 or 10% of the earnings, whichever is greater. I’ve already won one job, where I have to write a bunch of 50-word descriptions for each of a chain of hotels in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. And for money that makes that scam site sound even more false.

There’s a good bit I want to tell you about my personal economics right now  but I’ll stop right here. God just answered your prayers to make me stop.


Half a job

Well, I do have good news to report today. I was just hired by RGIS Inventory Service. I just completed my paid training this morning at a Burlington Coat Factory on the east side of town. The supervisor liked my experience 4 years ago with WIS International and took me on yesterday.

Take that, o ye naysayer side of my mind that accuses me of getting off on persecution. I know and appreciate when good things happen.

The bad news is that this is a part time job that will probably work me 30 hours a week on the average and will not net me enough to pay for my car or my cable service. I will need another part-time job to supplement it. I’ve already looked into Craigslist for some writing gigs with some business blogs. I emailed out some resumés and told them to look back here for a good example of my writing skills.

Already I got back email from an automailer linking me back to slick sites that I hate so much. It’s the classic trap laid out for job seekers, promising weekly earnings into the thousands of dollars (Baloney!) and the pay-to-play system I hate so much. An introductory 7 days at $2.98 followed by monthly charges to your credit card of $49.95. And for what? Old information relisted from other places like Freelancer.com.

The sad part is the best Craigslist can do is remove their ads when we flag them, and wouldn’t know squat about the false ads without honest folk like you and me, and the ads only come right back every other day or so. It’s getting to be a full-time job flagging false help wanted ads from scam artists, and I don’t see anyone stepping forward to pay me to do it.

I need to set a bigger natural enemy against them than the mosquito I would be flagging their ads for removal. I wonder if it’s possible to report them to my state attorney general to get them sued or prosecuted. Does the fact that I didn’t fall for the scam disqualify me from tipping off the AG?

I’ll definitely have to look into that.

Lexmark loses a customer

I have bought my absolute last Lexmark printer.

I bought my last cartridge of ink for my Lexmark X2470 All-in-One printer remanufactured from an eBay based store called InkSmart. When I installed the cartridge, there was a sticker on the plastic wrapper that warned me that I would get pop-ups from the printer driver program still claiming that the cartridge is empty. Just ignore it and keep printing, the manufacturer of the cartridge said. Sounded fair enough.

The new printhead got through only a few pages and then completely stopped all at once. This is weird because the printer makes black out of a combination of yellow, cyan, and magenta ink, which is bound to be used at different rates. When the whole printhead gave out, all three colors at once, I figured it had to be some kind of a software microchip kind of thing ordering the printer to go on strike until it gets a real, authentic Lexmark cartridge.

I searched to web to see if Lexmark was indeed using such anti-counterfeiting countermeasures, and sure enough, they are. When a company named Static Control Components started manufacturing a chip that tried to fool certain brands of Lexmark laser printers into allowing use of their toner cartridges, Lexmark sued them for copyright infringement under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998. Here’s an article that tells about all their chicanery.

I didn’t buy a cheap printer just to get legally or electronically locked into buying printer ink that cost more per ounce than imported Russian caviar. I’ll throw away my Lexmark printer before I’ll ever buy another Lexmark One cartridge!

Can you suggest a printer/copier/scanner combo of a different brand that I can buy in the near future?

When the refund comes

Spending myself silly

Once again, I pulled up the checkbook program in my PDA and immediately wrote out all the automatic and mandatory charges. Among the mandatory charges are some $86 to bring my electricity up to date, and $103 to catch up my student loan payments. Already, I’m down to some food money and the rent and the heat.

The student loan people had sent their tele-collectors out after me, and I promised them the amount they were seeking, which leaves me to wonder what I might’ve done for rent and heat and electricity had yesterday’s paycheck not been as generous as it was. It turned into a prime example of how desperation in the days before a paycheck comes will turn into more desperation in the days before the next paycheck comes.

When the refund comes

When my tax refund comes, Number One on the agenda will be to pay off the balance of my loan to (I did not) Think Cash. This will put a final end to the $90.23 out of every paycheck going to greedy, predatory userers and start some $65-$70 out of every paycheck going to my church, the way it should. If I have money left over for the refurbished computer, I’ll get that.

This year is going to be sooo different. No more stupid mistakes involving fee-based credit cards and Internet payday lenders. This year, I start giving God what belongs to Him.

Javascript and scare tactics

Recently, I got the crazy idea to learn Javascript. The people at w3schools.com claim that Javascript can be easily picked up by anybody with a good working knowledge of HTML. And perusing through the lessons, it does seem easy. I saw how I can declare variables and do arithmetic with them, manipulate strings, put the computer through counting loops, and so on.

How useful Javascript is for a guy like me who only wants to entertain people with a couple of blogs is another debate for another day. One thing I have found out that one can do with Javascript is make an alert box, one of those official-looking boxes that seem to spring out of the operating system.

If people knew how easy these were to make, they wouldn’t be so quick to take them so seriously.

I seem to have hit upon one of the deceptive tactics used by the scoundrels who write the rogue antivirus “scarewares” that bilk so many people out of their money. With one of these alert boxes, it’s a piece of cake to convince a computer user that their PC is infected and well on its way to running off to join a botnet.

Another thing I saw on YouTube is a video from Fireworks Tutorial that purportedly shows an really simple way to remove Antivirus 2009.

I’m not sure how truthful this video is. It claims that Antivirus 2009 operates by showing the user an exact copy of the Windows Security Center that is supposed to tell the user what antivirus software is handling the virus protection chores. In Antivirus 2009’s copy, the virus protection is “not found”.

You can’t pitch a program into the Recycle Bin that’s currently running. According to the video, Antivirus 2009 keeps itself from being recycled by keeping a simple, do-nothing process called “av2009.exe” going in the background. Find this process in Windows Task Manager and kill it, and you should be able to delete the program.

I don’t think it’s that simple.

Winning the replacement IIIxe

I’ve won the replacement Palm IIIxe on eBay, and it’s going to cost me $7.99 plus $7.50 shipping. I was the only bidder. A very good price, to be sure, and it only underscores the futility of picking one out of my pocket, if indeed such a thing has happened.

Good luck trying to sell the one you took from me, buster! It is my personal policy not to buy more or better stuff than I can tolerate losing, and that policy is going to win the day.

Still, the $15.49 I spent today worries me. It could be the fluttering butterfly that can cause one thing and the next and the next until finally I get a financial tornado that wipes out the January rent payment. Already, in the transfer of my money over from one account to the next, I let the bank officer put me on this Points deal that starts a savings account that transfers $25 per month over from checking, and I don’t know for sure if I’m going to be getting that much of a raise this month.

Incidentally, it’ll be my two year anniversary in two days. My annual review comes up. Wish me luck.

Palm peril

This afternoon, as per my custom, I drove to the Screens at the Continent to see City of Ember. On the drive southbound on I-71, I felt around my pockets and found that my Palm IIIxe PDA was missing.

I went back to Auditorium #8 and searched the front row where I had been sitting. It wasn’t there. It had gone where gravity could not take it, and was presumably in the hands of someone who had a drug-dealing fence in mind for it. Shame I can’t be there to see the guy getting bitched out for trying to turn in a worthless, outdated piece of junk instead of the iPhones and Blackberries he was probably sent after.

I mean, who uses the Palm IIIxe anymore?

But the Palm could still yield several hundred dollars worth of information about me. It did not contain my Social Security number or my birth date, so I need not worry about any new credit card accounts materializing with my name on them, but the Owner page does have my bank account number. Time for damage control. Better go straight to the bank and move my money to a new account.

Then I went to eBay and plunked down a $10.00 bid on another IIIxe. There’s 7 hours left on that auction, and I expect to win.