I’m Catholic. With the big C as in “love the Pope,” but really with a small C as in “my parents made me do it.” I start with this to say that I’ve never been much of a church person. But, I go on and off. Over the summer, that was more on than off, because I was staying with relatives and doing my darndest to prove that yes, I am one of those bright and shiny young people who looks forward to church every Sunday morning. I don’t think I was fooling anyone. Continue reading
I get a lot of spam – on this blog, on my work blog, and my corporate website. It feels like the snow that’s still coming down even though it’s March. (When will it stop?!) Most of it is rubbish, utter nonsense that I delete out of hand, easily recognizing it for the gratuitous references to Viagra, work from home jobs, or off-shore e-mail providers.
But, sometimes there’s something about it that makes me stop and pay attention. The way that, even though it’s cold and you wish it would hurry up and get to spring already, perfect snow can still make you think of Santa and Christmas magic. There’s something about them and the way they’re written than makes me think that they can’t all be from a computer program in China. And maybe there really is a long lost Nigerian prince who needs my help. Continue reading
Microsoft recently released a study, Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?, that made me geek out in so many ways. Microsoft’s research team undertook to statistically explain the “give me money, I’m a Nigerian price” ruse that so many of us have seen in our inboxes.
If you’re at all like me, you’ve received this kind of email and laughed at it, thinking othat nly the most gullible person would fall for it. Turns out, you’re right and that’s the point. As Microsoft’s paper explains (in all of its statistical glory), the Nigerian prince scam is designed in a way so as to alienate all but the most gullible email recepients. At first, a con that immediately disqualifies potential victims doesn’t seem to make sense. After all, these types of things succeed because of the sheer volume of them; the emails cost nothing to send and the success of the attack comes in its scalability. Continue reading
The other day, I talked with coworker who is retiring after 50 years at my company. (Can we just take a minute to revel in the fact that anyone works at a company for 50 years? ‘Cause wow.) We talked a lot about how computers had changed the way the company operates in so many ways, from the work that we do to the ways that we interact with each other.
She’s a very nice old lady who was trying to be positive about the changes, but I could tell that, underneath it all, she blamed computers for causing change that she couldn’t keep up with. She said that over the years, she’s learned how to use a number of programs for work, but had never figured out the computer as a whole. Like the way you learn to say “Una mas cervasa por favor” or “Ou et les toilettes?” when you’re traveling – you know the meaning of the phrase, but don’t necessarily understand which word is which. For her, every new program or task was another set of memorized steps – she couldn’t get to the underlying logic of it, nothing was intuitive. Continue reading