Forward This Blog To Everyone You Know

Just a few minutes ago I received an email from a friend:

90# on your telephone

I dialed ‘0’ to check this out, and the operator confirmed that this was correct, so please pass it on.. (l also checked out snopes.com. This is true, and also applies to cell phones!)

PASS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW

I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician (could also be Telus) who was conducting a test on the telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up.  Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.

Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number.

I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local jails/prisons. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE…

The GTE Security Department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW.

After checking with Verizon they also said it was true, so do not dial 90# for anyone !!!!! PLEASE HIT THAT FORWARD BUTTON AND PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!

Anyone who’s been around the internet, or even been receiving email, for any amount of time will immediately recognize this for what it is: an email hoax.

Even without the parting admonition “PLEASE HIT THAT FORWARD BUTTON AND PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!
“, there’s plenty of internal evidence that “Delete”, and not “Forward”, is the button you need to push.

For starters, the message is not signed. Who wrote it? Who got the call from AT&T (or Telus, the Canadian telecommunications provider; apparently the author isn’t sure where they live)? How would someone in many local jails/prisons get their phone number? Are prisoners now allowed to willy-nilly wander around and make random unsupervised phone calls? Okay, maybe they can, but still… And GTE’s Security Department wants one person to share this information? If it’s that big a deal, why doesn’t GTE get the word out? Oh, yeah…they haven’t been around since 2000.

I hate getting these things in my inbox, for the simple reason that people I know forward them to me, and it despairs me to think I have friends gullible enough to believe those sorts of letters. My sister used to forward three or four a week to me.  By way of reply, I’d forward her to the appropriate Snopes page debunking the info in her forwarded messages, and add as a signature, “If you get an email asking you to pass it on to everyone you know, it’s probably bullshit.” Eventually she wised up and started asking me before forwarding anything on, and finally stopped cluttering people’s inboxes with that kind of junk altogether.

It’s one thing to make a family member feel a little foolish, but I have no particular desire to be derisive to certain friends, even if they should know better. This doesn’t, however, include my damn fool co-worker who forwards me variations of “Obama is not a citizen!” emails every other week. I did Snopes back a reply to the current forwarder of the 90# letter, but I think for general purposes I’ll just post the following, as it appears at About.com:

Here’s How To Spot An Email Hoax:

  1. Note whether the text you’ve received was actually written by the person who sent it. Did anyone sign their name to it? If not, be skeptical.
  2. Look for the telltale phrase, ‘Forward this to everyone you know!’ The more urgent the plea, the more suspect the message.
  3. Look for statements like ‘This is NOT a hoax’ or ‘This is NOT an urban legend.’ They typically mean the opposite of what they say.
  4. Watch for overly emphatic language, as well as frequent use of UPPERCASE LETTERS and multiple exclamation points!!!!!!!
  5. If the text seems aimed more at persuading than informing the reader, be suspicious. Like propagandists, hoaxers are more interested in pushing people’s emotional buttons than communicating accurate information.
  6. If the message purports to impart extremely important information that you’ve never heard of before or read elsewhere in legitimate venues, be very suspicious.
  7. Read carefully and think critically about what the message says, looking for logical inconsistencies, violations of common sense and blatantly false claims.
  8. Look for subtle or not-so-subtle jokes — indications that the author is pulling your leg.
  9. Check for references to outside sources of information. Hoaxes don’t typically cite verifiable evidence, nor link to Websites with corroborating information.
  10. . Check to see if the message has been debunked by Websites that debunk urban legends and Internet hoaxes (see below).
  11. . Research any factual claims in the text to see if there is published evidence to support them. If you find none, odds are you’ve been the recipient of an email hoax.

Tips:

  1. Virtually any email chain letter you receive (i.e., any message forwarded multiple times before it got to you) is more likely to be false than true. You should automatically be skeptical of chain letters.
  2. Hoaxers usually try every means available to make their lies believable — e.g., mimicking a journalistic style, attributing the text to a ‘legitimate’ source, or implying that powerful corporate or government interests have tried to keep the information from you.
  3. Be especially wary of health-related rumors. Most importantly, never act on ‘medical information’ forwarded from unknown sources without first verifying its accuracy with a doctor or other reliable source.

Now, forward this blog to as many people as you can, so we can start keeping our inboxes clear of this crap!!!

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Is There A Computer Doctor In the House?

Alrighty then, here’s my predicament:

Last week I started getting little messages from my computer that one of the hard drives in my RAID array was failing (I have 2 250GB drives in a RAID 0 array). It didn’t look like I would be able to save it, so since I’m running Vista Ultimate, I used their Complete PC Backup and Restore feature to back up my entire hard drive onto an external USB drive; programs, settings, files – the whole shebang. I ended up with a .vhd file of almost 180 GB.

I settled the issue with my hard drive, built another RAID array, reinstalled Vista, yada, yada, yada, and went to restore the whole shebang. But Vista said, “Backup file? What backup file? I don’t see no backup file.”

Now, you gotta understand what’s in the backup file that I stand to lose. Not just your typical personal stuff like irreplaceable documents, photos, videos, my iTunes library (including the applications I bought for my iTouch), financial info, several GBs of Disney park music I’ve collected over the past year and was in the process of burning to CD, but also hundreds of buckaroonies worth of downloaded software that I don’t have physical disks for. “Well, why didn’t you back that stuff up?” you may ask. “Shut up,” I may answer. “I did back that stuff up, but now I can’t access it.”

I did some research on the problem, and found scads of people saying how wonderful Complete PC Backup and Restore is, and how easy it is to use, and I began feeling like an abject failure because I couldn’t do it. Then I started reading comments by people who were having the same problem as I was, so I perked up.

A couple of the options suggested:

Download and install Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, which has a feature called “Vhdmount” which, when coupled with a certain registry hack written by a MS engineer, allows you to mount the .vhd file as a virtual drive, from which you can access whatever files you want. I couldn’t make it work.

Use a program called WinImage, which also allows you to access and extract individual files with a .vhd file. It crashes on me every time I try to use it. There’s also an option for restoring a virtual hard drive to a physical drive; I get an unexplained error when I attempt this.

Download and install Microsoft Virtual PC, install a virtual machine, and mount the .vhd file as a secondary drive, from which you can extract whatever files you may want. Unless I’m doing something wrong (which is very probable), the maximum secondary drive capacity is 127 GB, and as I mentioned, mine is larger than that.

So that’s my need for a CD. Best-case scenario is a complete restoration from the backup file, but if that’s not going to be possible, I’d like to be able to pull certain files and folders out and salvage as much of my shit as I can.

So, Loyal Reader…any suggestions?

Read The Directions? Ha!

I’m composing this entry slowly but surely on my iTouch. Why not my trusty PC? Well…

If you follow tech news, you know that Microsoft has made public the current beta installation of Windows 7. I’ve been reading good things about it, particularly from an online friend who’s very enthusiastic about it.

Now, if you know me at all (and after all our time together, I would think you do), then you know I jumped on this right away. I made my way through three beta releases of Vista, so when it was finally released, I felt very comfortable with it while everyone else was complaining.

The Windows 7 beta is download only, and apparently Microsoft was overwhelmed with requests causing some server issues. But even when things were supposed to be moving smoothly, I still had problems. Off and on for three days I attempted the download (the file is close to 2-1/2 GB, by the way), but it would stop after less than 400 MB were downloaded. After a few days it dawned on me…Firefox is my browser of choice, and most MS sites won’t play nice with it. Sure enough, once I switched over to IE, my download problem ended.

The next step in this undertaking is burning the downloaded file – an .ISO file – to a DVD. My disc burning program of choice is Roxio Creator. I tried three separate times to burn the installation disc, receiving three different error messages. Of course, being the way I am, the thought of checking Roxio’s manual or online help never crossed my mind. Instead, I contacted my online friend, who suggested ImgBurn, a freeware burning utility. I downloaded and installed it, and on the second try, I had my installation disc!

(The first time I jumped right in and tried burning the disc after merely glancing at the instructions. Apparently I skipped a vital step.)

So now I’m ready to start installing the beta. My first thought was to install it on one of my external drives, which, of course, didn’t work because you can’t install an operating system on a removable drive. Huh. Who knew? Everyone but me probably.

Luckily, the hard drive on my Dell has a 10 GB partition, so I can install it there, right? No, because the beta requires at least 16 GB.

So we stick another partition in then. Of course, I’ve never actually partitioned a hard drive before, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

I searched Vista’s help pages and found what I needed, but the procedure they outlined didn’t work. For me, anyway.

Feeling frustrated, I searched Download.com for a freeware partitioning utility, found one that looked promising, and in no time at all I had it downloaded and installed.

The instructions looked simple enough, so I jumped in balls first: slid this here, renamed that there, and I was ready to go. All I had to do was reboot and I’d be ready to install Windows 7 on my new partition.

That was the last time I saw my desktop alive.

It boots to a certain point, and refuses to go any further. I’ve run diagnostic tests, checked the boot sequence, even bought it a nice glass of wine, to no avail.

I can get it to boot into safe mode, though, and the hard drive looks like it did before I started messing with it, but that’s the most I can do for now.

Hopfully a good night’s rest will do it some good. Tomorrow at work I’ll do some Googling and see what kind of help I can find.

And this time, I’ll be sure to read the directions.

UPDATE: The third System Restore did the trick. Yay! Now to proceed very carefully…