Friday, February 26, 2010

Phone Scams

Phone Scams

Good article on local phone scam:

Commonly called the "Grandparent's Scam", or the "It's Me" scam, this fraudulent plea for money is targeting the elderly in our local area.

Typically, the victim gets a phone call from someone claiming to be a relative. The "granddaughter" has supposedly been arrested and needs bail money. Of course, it's a lie, and any money sent will be stolen from the compassionate grandparent.

Easy to see through? Only the naive fall for it? Think again. These scams are common for one reason: they work. Good scammers have the ability to persuade and convince...otherwise they'd be out of business.

The Hermiston Herald article interviewed Umatilla County Sheriff Lt. Gen Diehl. The officer had some good tips:

Recognize the scam.

- Do some research
- Develop a questioning attitude
- Be alert to email fraud

Get a phone number and contact the caller.

If the call is on the up-and-up there should be no problem in getting through to someone who actually knows all the details of your account.

- Verify the caller's name and position
- Verify the purpose of the call

Email scams frequently include an internet link to a website. It's safer to avoid clicking on the click. Rather, type or copy/paste the address in to your web browser manually. Fraudulent links will often disguise the name of the link, making it appear to be legitimate.

The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice:

Ask yourself some questions.

- Who's calling and why?

The law requires telemarketers to give you information about the call:
- The name of the caller and their company
- The purpose of the call (what are they selling?)
- Say "No, thanks" and hang up on telemarketers who don't give you the required information.

Red Flags

- Fast talkers
- High pressure

Legitimate businesses give you time and written information before asking you to commit to a purchase.

Don't carelessly use the word "OK".

Fraudulent callers will ask you to confirm private information that they should already know.

If you say, "OK", they can later claim that you approved a charge.

What time is it?

Legitimate businesses call only between 8 am and 9 pm.

A seller calling earlier or later is violating the law and you should report them to the FTC.

Do you want more calls like this one?

- If not, tell the caller not to call again.

Once asked to not call, telemarketers who call again are violating the law and you should report them to the FTC.

Bottom line: You're pretty safe if you are the one to initiate a call to a business. If you get a phone call from a "business" out of the blue, chances are good that it's a fraud, or at the very least, an unwanted interruption to your day. Tell them "No, thanks" and hang up.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Throwing Up

Be warned. This post is going to be gross. Leave while you can, but if you can stick with it to the end, you'll be stronger. And the original post from Jon Acuff at Stuff Christians Like is even grosser and more effective.

Throwing up.

Jon's a braver, stronger, humbler man than I. He admits that he struggles with a temptation that is taboo in our society...taboo but overwhelmingly prevalent.

After a 500-mile long road trip, horrendously vomiting every 45 minutes from food poisoning, Jon is able to compare how vigorously our bodies reject bad food, with how our minds and emotions play with sin.

Thanks, Jon, for the rough, but real reminder.

I've found Covenant Eyes a great help on my laptop and iPod, as well as Bsecure, a filtered browser.

The comments are worth reading, too.

Shared Nursery

Redoing your house? Planning for a new child? showcases some simple, inexpensive, but awesomely practical and attractive decor and furniture ideas.

Shared Nursery Tour

Several key objectives:
1. Accentuate space and emphasize simple and low-cost.
2. Buy second-hand furniture.
3. Small children need small beds.

Great article!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Toyota: "There's been a lot of talk..."

I just finished reading a full-page advertisement by Toyota, explaining the recall of some of its vehicles: RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Avalon, Camry, Highlander, Tundra, and Sequoia.

"Folksy", informal advertisements made by huge corporations always seem suspect to me. I smile inside and try to translate the simple "facts" of the advertisement into what the corporate suits are really thinking.

Here's the actual words of the advertisement, with my translation and comments in parenthesis. (No thanks necessary. I do this as a public service and to drum up traffic for my blog.)


Tri-City Herald, Sunday, February 7, 2010
Section A, Page 4

There's been a lot of talk (tweets, email, facebook, blogs, rants, cussing, jokes, and threats of liability suits) about the recall.

Here are the facts (translation: statements considered benign by our 129 lawyers and legal assistants) for our customers (Actually, we're writing this to the investors and stock owners that really drive all our decisions.)

Over the past few days (Editor's note: The recall was issued October 6, 2009...a casual search on shows a news article about the problem, dated September 30, 2009. That's not a "few days"...that's FOUR MONTHS! That's at least 120 DAYS!), there has been a lot of speculation (and believe it or not, some of the speculation has actually come from people other than our own CEO's and dealers!) about our sticking accelerator pedal recall. Our message to Toyota owners (translation: investors and stock owners) is this - if you are not experiencing any issues with your accelerator pedal (and you probably will, otherwise we wouldn't be spending a Camry-load of cash for these advertisements), we are confident that your vehicle is safe to drive (as long as the accelerator pedal does not stick, making your vehicle unsafe to drive). If your accelerator pedal becomes harder to depress than normal (and it probably will) or slower to return (and it probably will), please contact your dealer without delay (as in, "Pull off the road, NOW! and call AAA!").

At Toyota, we take this issue (translation: potential for criminal and civil liability charges) very seriously, but I want to make sure our customers (translation: investors and stock owners) understand that this situation is rare (so rare that we have to publish a full-page advertisement in every major newspaper to reach every single person that can read English) and generally doesn't occur suddenly ("suddenly" is very relative, you understand?). In the instances where it does occur, the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes (panic might be a helpful element in this situation).

1. We're starting to send letters this weekend to owners involved in the recall to schedule an appointment at their dealer. (Editor's note: Then why are you putting full-page ads in every newspaper?)

2. Dealerships have extended their hours - some of them working 24/7 - to fix your vehicle as quickly as possible (This actually is the best thing that has happened for our dealerships in a long time...think of the potential customer volume!).

3. Trained technicians have begun making repairs (as opposed to the untrained engineers, vendors and buyers who supplied us with the faulty parts in the first place).

We've halted production of these models this week (Let's the Kentucky plant alone, with 400,000 vehicles rolling off the line every year, losing one week of production means...7692 vehicles that don't get assembled. That's almost 2% of our production...yeah, we can afford that.) to focus fully on fixing this problem for the vehicles that are on the road. (Editor's note: Does that mean that this week, all your floor workers are sitting in focus groups, discussing the problem? What are your workers doing this week if they aren't assembling Camry's?)

Our entire organization of 172,000 North American employees and dealerships personnel has been mobilized. (Editor's note: This is a blatant mis-use of the English language. "Mobilize"? Soldiers are "mobilized". Red Cross rescue teams are "mobilized". "Mobilize" means to MOVE! "Mobilize" would mean that your employees and dealers have booked a flight to Japan and are gathering together into huge work groups that MOVE! You haven't mobilized your've "directed" or "re-organized" or "sent a memo to"...anything but MOBILIZE!) And we're redoubling ("redoubling", implying we've already doubled our efforts and it didn't work) our quality control efforts (translation: we've fired our design and purchasing staff) across the company.

Ensuring your safety is our highest priority (Uh, actually, it's turning a profit...unfortunately, unsafe products eventually cost us a lot of money, although in the short run they work pretty good...look at China's export program!). I will continue to update you with accurate and timely information (Editor's note: Does that mean more full-page advertisements, or just letters to dealers and owners?) about the status of the recall in the days and weeks ("Days and weeks" in "past few days"? Just how many is "a few". Judging by the rapid response you've shown already - 120 days - "the days and weeks" probably will equal a year or so...right?) ahead.

Sincerely (You understand that all letters must end with "sincerely", don't you? It doesn't really mean too much.),

Jim Lentz (and all 172,000 employees and dealers who have been "mobilized")

President and Chief Operating Officer
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.


Read the facts:

"Now more than 400,000 vehicles roll off the assembly line annually thanks to the efforts and dedication of more than 7,000 team members."

"Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) in Georgetown, Kentucky is now Toyota's largest production facility outside of Japan."

"Toyota is justifiably proud of this technically advanced 7.92 million sq. ft. manufacturing complex that has infused new life into the commonwealth of Kentucky by creating over 20,000 jobs including those at TMMK and throughout our growing community of suppliers."

"Toyota Reports January Sales
February 2, 2010, Torrance, Calif. - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported January sales of 98,796 vehicles, a decrease of 8.7 percent over last January, on a daily selling rate basis."

Direct Employment, 35,838
Indirect Employment, 165,9581
Direct Investment, $17.4 Billion
Vehicle Production, $1,117,511
Purchasing, $29.9 Billion
Toyota, Lexus & Scion Dealers, 1,502
Vehicle Sales, $2,217,662

Certain 2009-2010 RAV4
Certain 2009-2010 Corolla
2009-2010 Matrix
2005-2010 Avalon
Certain 2007-2010 Camry
Certain 2010 Highlander
2007-2010 Tundra
2008-2010 Sequoia

"In the event that a driver experiences an accelerator pedal that sticks in a partial open throttle position or returns slowly to idle position, the vehicle can be controlled with firm and steady application of the brakes. The brakes should not be pumped repeatedly because it could deplete vacuum assist, requiring stronger brake pedal pressure. The vehicle should be driven to the nearest safe location, the engine shut off and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance."

"Separately from the recall for sticking accelerator pedals, Toyota is in the process of recalling vehicles to address rare instances in which floor mats have trapped the accelerator pedal in certain Toyota and Lexus models (announced November 25, 2009), and is already notifying customers about how it will fix this issue. In the case of vehicles covered by both recalls, it is Toyota's intention to remedy both at the same time."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ohm's Law Explained

Ohm's Law Explained

Four essential attributes form the core of electron movement:

  • Power to do work (P)
  • Current Intensity (I)
  • Electromotive force (E)
  • Resistance (R)

One way to visualize these attributes is to imagine electrons in copper wire. If one end of the wire has an excess of electrons, the electrons will exert a force, moving toward the end with a lack of electrons. Thus, electricity begins with a certain Electromotive force, a difference in potential that "pushes" electrons in one direction.

Electromotive force, however, encounters some difficulty in moving electrons freely in every situation. Some materials resist electron movement more or less than others. This opposition to electromotive force is called actually limits the number of electrons that can be "pushed".

The combined effect of resistance upon electromotive force results in a specific number of electrons actually flowing. This flow of current is called Current Intensity, or simply current.

Finally, as current intensity flows in our wire, it generates heat, which is a form of energy, or the power to do work. We can use that power to ignite a cigarette, illuminate a light bulb, or turn a motor.

The four attributes of electricity can be remembered easily with the word, "PIER":

  • P: Power
  • I: Intensity (current flow)
  • E: Electromotive force
  • R: Resistance

Each of the four attributes is measured differently:

  • Watts (measures power)
  • Amperes (measures intensity, or current flow)
  • Volts (measures electromotive force
  • Ohms (measures resistance

It is interesting to try to imagine the number of electrons represented by the words, "One ampere":

6,241,509,480,000,000,000 electrons flowing each second!

The relationship between these attributes can be expressed with two mathematical equations:

I = E x R

P = I x E

The first equation says that Current Intensity (I) is the result of Electromotive force (E), controlled by Resistance (R). One ampere of current intensity results from one volt of electromotive force in a circuit with one ohm of resistance.

The second equation shows that Power (P), or the rate at which work is done or heat generated, is the result of current Intensity (I) driven by Electromotive force (E). One watt of power is the result of one ampere of current intensity driven by one volt of electromotive force.

Our first equation can be placed on a chart, under the column headed "I":

-I = E x R  

The equation is placed in the "I" column because, as it is written now, it solves for current intensity. There is a dash in the first cell under the column "P" because this equation does not include any factor for power. Now we will concentrate on rearranging our first equation to solve for the remaining attributes.

Basic rules of mathematics allow us to rearrange equations as long as the original relationship remains equal. Dividing both sides of the equation by R results in a new form of the original relationship:

I = E x R

I/R = E x R/R

I/R = E x 1

Simplifying the result and flipping sides gives us an equation that solves for E:

E = I/R

-I = E x RE = I/R 

Next, starting again with the original equation, we can divide both side by E to solve for R:

I = E x R

I/E = E/E x R

I/E = 1 x R

R = I/E

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E

Thus far, using just one equation, we've derived three different ways to mathematically express the relationship between Power, Intensity of current, Electromotive force, and Resistance. Now we can start with the next equation, the Power Equation:

P = I x E

It can be directly placed in the second row, under the column headed "P", because it solves for Power:

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x E      

Dividing both sides of the equation by E results in:

P/E = I x E/E

Simplifying and flipping sides gives us a new equation, solving for I:

I = P/E

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E    

Starting again with the Power Equation, and dividing both sides by I, creates a new equation solving for E:

P = I x E

P/I = I/I x E

P/I = 1 x E

E = P/I

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -

A dash is placed in the last column of the second row because this equation has no factor for Resistance.

We've used both equations, rearranging them to produce six different ways to mathematically express the relationship between Power, current Intensity, Electromotive force, and Resistance. Or, to put it in terms of actual units of measurement, we've developed six different equations to calculate watts, amperes, volts, and ohms in a circuit. If we know two of the factors, we can calculate the other two. Amazing!

But wait...there's more!

We can substitute one of the equations for part of another equation, creating an entirely new equation:

We know that P = I x E, and we know that I = E x R, so we can substitute E x R for I:

P = (E x R) x E

This is the same as saying:

P = E x E x R,

Which is the same as saying:

P = E2 x R

We now have a new expression for P, using just the factors of E and R:

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R     

If P = E2 x R, then dividing both sides by R will give us an equation solving for E:

P/R = E2 x R/R

P/R = E2 x 1

P/R = E2

If both sides of the equation are equal (and they are), then the square roots of each side are equal (and they are)!

E = √(P/R)

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R) 

Again, a dash is in the third row under the column headed "I" because this equation has no factor for current intensity.

To use this equation to solve for R, divide both sides by E2:

P/E2 = E2/E2 x R

P/E2 = 1 x R

R = P/E2

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R)R = P/E2

We've exhausted the possiblities of this equation, so let's return to our two original equations and see what can be substituted anew:

P = I x E and E = I x R

Substitute I x R for E:

P = I x (I x R)


P = I2 x R

This equation can be placed in the last row under the column headed "P":

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R)R = P/E2
P = I2 x R     

Solve for I by dividing both sides by R:

P/R = I2 x R/R

P/R = I2 x 1

√I2 = √P/R

I= √P/R

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R)R = P/E2
P = I2 x RI= √P/R-  

A dash in the last row under the column headed "E" shows that this equation has no factor for electromotive force.

Solve for R by dividing both sides by I2:

P/I2 = I2/I2 x R

P/I2 = 1 x R

R = P/I2

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R)R = P/E2
P = I2 x EI= √P/E-R = P/I2

Each of our four factors has three different equations, for a total of 12 equations derived from our original two.

-I = E x RE = I/RR = I/E
P = I x EI = P/E E = P/I -
P = E2 x R-E = √(P/R)R = P/E2
P = I2 x EI= √P/E-R = P/I2

Simply amazing!

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