Unmistakable Marks

Warranted Genuine Snarks

Criminal Activity: Still Illegal!

One of the more irritating things about the Internet is the way that we all just casually accept the way we get thousands of criminals contacting us every day via email. I suspect that this is a boiling frog thing: We used to get advertisements from real businesses, which was irritating but almost certainly legal; we then started getting advertisements from vaguely dodgy business, which was irritating and probably legal; we then started getting advertisements from scammers pretending to be in dodgy businesses, which was irritating, almost certainly illegal, but hard to tell from the previous case; and now we’re all deluged with obviously totally illegal fraud, but we’re so conditioned to the “reality” that spam is irritating but legal.

But it’s not. Fraud is fraud, and if people are trying to loot your bank account, they are absolute, 100%, no-question-about-it criminals, and they need to be arrested and prosecuted. Yes, this isn’t necessarily trivial, it will require law-enforcement attention, possibly some international cooperation, and probably even some real money. But law enforcement does lots of hard things, and it’s not that expensive on a societal scale. And, obviously, the benefits would be huge. I don’t understand why this law-enforcement push hasn’t happened, and neither does Tim Bray:

I just don’t understand how this can be. I got yet another phishing spam claiming to be from Amazon. So peeked at the real URL and it was pointing to “Amazo-check.com”, which lamely attempts to sort of look like Amazon, among other things using its logo. Thirty seconds’ investigation reveals that the domain is registered by Marin Lopez, Calle Albartos 22, Madrid. Mapquest suggests that that should be Calle Albatros, which is in the same postal code. The site is registered and hosted by arsys.es in Spain. Either Señor Lopez is a criminal and should be arrested, or his domain has been hijacked (I doubt it, given the name) and he should either take it down or his ISP should, or he’s a fiction, but someone paid arsys for the registration and they’re the criminal. What am I missing?

Comments | July 9, 2005

What’s wrong with audio magazines?

There’s obviously a certain tension that goes along with producing an ad-supported magazine that reviews products. On the one hand, you’re dependent on the people who make the stuff you’re reviewing both for review samples and for advertising, so don’t want to piss them off; on the other hand, you need to be credible for the reader, so have to say that shitty things are shitty.

Most magazines do a pretty reasonable job of handling the issue. Computer Gaming World writes savage reviews of computer games; Entertainment Weekly rips on big, expensive movies; Car and Driver mocks lame cars. And then there’s the “audiophile” press. There’s nothing inherently nutty or quacky about the audio world — things do sound different, some are better than others, blind testing is feasible and possible, and you can even take measurements to support findings. Fundamentally, audio magazines should be at least as sensible as car magazines.

But they’re not. I subscribed to Stereophile once, and let my subscription lapse when I realized that every single damn review was a positive — glowing, even! — review. It didn’t matter what the product was, or how preposterous its claims were (the supposed audible differences between freakin’ power cables always cracks me up), or even if it totally sucked — it got a good review.

The final straw for me was a review of a $350K amplifier that measured horribly, worse than the typical $200 receiver you can pick up at Best Buy. And what did they say about it?

the SH-833 did what I’d expect of a superbly executed SET amplifier: it had absolute midrange purity, physicality, transparency, and especially delicacy. These are easily the most musically sensual, delicate, wrap-your-musical-heart-around-them, physically and emotionally palpable amplifiers I have ever heard. Getting this level of delicacy, transparency, solidity, and speed in one package is what’s new for me—especially the speed of resolution.

$350K! Horrible! And they raved it about it. That’s not just useless; that’s worse than useless. That’s the consumer research equivalent of reading a Flat Earth Society pamphlet, only less entertaining.

At this point, I suspect that matters are irredeemable, as a sort of Gresham’s Law is in the advanced stages of operation, and the only people who’d consider subscribing to an audio magazine are total loons.

Comments | July 9, 2005

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