Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter issue number 010508.

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GRINS & GIGGLES:

"Home Means Nevada"

 

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God was missing for six days.  Eventually, Michael the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day.

 

He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

 

God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Michael, look what I've made."

 

Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

 

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put LIFE on it.  I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

 

"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.

 

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth, "For example, Northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while Southern Europe is going to be poor.  Over here I've placed a region of stifling hot temperature, and up there is a region of fierce cold.  Over yonder is an area of arid desert, while over there is a lush and humid rain forest."

 

The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a mountainous desert region and asked, "What's that one?"

 

"That is Nevada, the most glorious place on Earth.  There are beautiful mountains, canyons, passes, lakes, rivers, and exquisite prairie land. The people from Nevada are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they are going to be found traveling the world.  They'll be extremely sociable, hardworking and high achieving,and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace.  All who come across them will admire them.

 

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? How are you going to balance that?"

 

God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the loudmouth, whiny-assed, arrogant people I'm putting in California"

 

[thanks to Roy Howard for this one]

 

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CYBERSPACE ALERT:

  How would you like to test your firewall's effectiveness? There is a nice little utility at Steve Gibson's web site that will do this for you. It's called LeakTest and it very simply tries to contact Steve's web site when you run it. This is the same thing that the new, more sophisticated programs do behind your back. Read the following, in Steve's own words:

 

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LeakTest is a safe and small (27k bytes), completely benign "chameleon utility" which can be used to simulate the presence and effect of Trojan horses, viruses, and adware/spyware running in your computer.  It simply and quickly tells you whether it has been able to slip out past your firewall's outbound Trojan/Virus/Spyware protections and establish a standard TCP connection with our NanoProbe server.

 

and...

 

LeakTest pretends to be an FTP client application which attempts to connect to port 21 (FTP) of one of our servers within the grc.com domain.  It verifies the connection by receiving a short string of 13 random characters, then it immediately disconnects.  The server connected is not a true FTP server, it is simply a custom-built component of our forthcoming NanoProbe technology.

 

NO DATA OF ANY SORT IS EVER SENT TO US, AND NO RECORD OF ANY SORT IS MADE OR RETAINED OF YOUR USE OF THE PROGRAM.  We have no ulterior motive of any sort.  As with ShieldsUP!, this is a pure public service.

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  In my book, Steve Gibson is The Man when it comes to internet security. He looks at your internet connection the way a hacker would and then applies his considerable expertise to put a stop to it! If you are concerned with your system's susceptibility to background "leaks" of personal information, then you should head right over to LeakTest and get yourself a copy. Then you'll know for sure if your firewall is leak proof!

 

http://grc.com/lt/leaktest.htm

 

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MEATSPACE ALERT:

"Area code 809"

 

  Apparently, this email is flying around again warning people not to call into the 809 area. This was originally reported in 1996 by Internet Scam Busters.  Here's the latest info on it:

 

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The "809" scam has many permutations but they all involve a message to you (either by email, phone or pager) that you immediately call or fax a number in the "809" area code or some other area code in the Caribbean. Examples of why you should call or fax the phone number include avoiding litigation, receiving information about someone who has been arrested or died, winning a wonderful prize, or getting a job.

 

The "809" area code is in the Caribbean, yet most people are not aware that they are making an international call when they dial the "809" area code, since you simply dial 1-809-xxx-xxxx to make the call.  No international codes are required.

 

The problem comes from the fact that some phone numbers in the "809" area code are "pay-per-call"

numbers (such as 900 numbers in the US) - but there are no legal requirements that callers be informed that they are being charged extra in the Caribbean.  When you return one of these "pay-per-call" 809 calls, the scamsters try to keep you on the phone as long as possible, and you may be charged very high rates for the call, reportedly up to $25 per minute.

 

It is difficult to get credit for these charges if you do get scammed since you did make the call, and resolving the problem involves getting credit from international phone companies.

 

Since there are now many area codes in the Caribbean, this scam is no longer confined to just the 809 area code.

 

You can see the original issues about the 809 scam at:

 

http://www.scambusters.org/ScamBusters8.html

 and

http://www.scambusters.org/ScamBusters9.html

 

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TRUE STORY:

A Cinderella Sari Story

by Amy Marchand Collins

Merriam, Kansas, USA

 Joyce Schowalter, story editor

 

In 1998 the Association for Global New Thought launched the first "Season for Nonviolence," honoring the principles of M.K.  Gandhi and Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr.  The Unity Church of Overland Park was a sponsor in the Kansas City area, and I was on the leadership team.  Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, Arun Gandhi, who with his wife Sunanda carries on his grandfather's work, accepted our invitation to come speak.  We organized a dinner and fund raiser in his honor.

 

Because team members had traveled to India, I knew they would wear clothes purchased there.  I wanted that look, too.  The afternoon before the dinner I ventured to an Indian grocer rumored to carry saris.

 

In the store I found the saris -- which were simply flat pieces of fabric.  I had no idea how to put one on.  I asked the manager if someone could show me.  He indicated a woman, "My customer will help you."

 

Embarrassed, but driven by the knowledge that the dinner was hours away, I explained my request and its purpose.  She questioned: "Do you have a petticoat?  Blouse?  Sandals?" I had none.

 

What happened next amazed me.  She said, "Come, I will lend you a sari." Minutes later, I was driving behind her, her teenage daughter in my car in case I got lost.  At the house, I was led upstairs.  She opened drawers and boxes, pulling out a dazzling display of silk saris.  Only one was off-limits -- her wedding sari!

 

I chose a deep green silk sari accented with real gold.  She found a blouse in a similar color, and a green petticoat with a drawstring waist.  The drawstring anchors the fabric, which is pleated and tucked into the petticoat.

 

She began to fold, pleating the silk and draping it around me, anchoring it with a few safety pins.  She showed me how the pins held the pleats in place, so I could put it on to wear for services the next morning.  Next she produced beautiful gold and pearl jewelry: earrings, necklace and bracelets, as well as a bindi, the decorative accent worn in the center of the forehead.  A pair of sandals (that fit!) completed the ensemble.

 

I felt exactly like Cinderella!

 

In the grand scheme of things, it matters little how I was dressed for that dinner.  Yet I was deeply touched at the trust and generosity this woman displayed to a stranger.  How easy to ignore my request or just tell me what I needed to purchase.  Instead, she invited me to her home and dressed me from head to toe.  She sent me on my way with hugs and well wishes, with no apparent concern about when she would see her precious things again.  Although I consider myself to be both generous and trusting, I wonder if I would have done the same, had our positions been reversed.

 

I remain deeply grateful for the opportunity to wear her sari, and for her example of generosity and kindness.

 

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FUN SITE:

"Conk! Network"

 

  They bill themselves as "The Online Network for Fun People (tm)" and they mean it. The stories they dig up (or make up) are sure to tickle your funny bone. If you were one of the millions that saw The Blair Witch Project, be sure to check out their parody on Conk! TV [The Scary Thing In The Woods].

  Here's a sample news story:

 

Place It Directly Over The Opening, As You Would A Blown Tire Patch: - A manufacturer-paid study of the new birth control patch published in the Journal of the AMA says it's just as effective as the pill.

 

http://www.conk.com/

 

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GREAT UTIL:

"3D Screensavers"

 

  Most new computers these days come with an advanced 3D video card installed. This is great for playing the latest, greatest First Person Shooter games or flying through the skies in your own personal aircraft. But what if you're not into the entertainment aspects of your computer? Isn't there some other use that you can put that cutting edge hardware to? (You came to the right guy, my friend!)

  Of course there is. One of the best ways to "show off" that new machine is to put some fancy 3D graphics on the screen and watch as peoples eyeballs bug out! Click on over to 3D Gaming World and check out their selection of advanced screen savers. They have aircraft, aurora borealis, meteors, planets, snow globes, (my favorite) The Matrix and many more.

  Be aware that if the screen saver requires OpenGL, then you must have a Voodoo card (from 3Dfx).

 

ps

  Don't be surprised if your friends want copies

 

http://www.3dgw.com/ss/ss.php3

 

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HARDWARE:

Playing "keep up"

 

  If you are planning on upgrading your Windows to a newer version, do youself a favor and make sure that your hardware is up to snuff. Microsoft maintains a website with Hardware Compatibility Lists for each operating system, including their latest attempt (Windows XPerimental). You can get the HCL for Window 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000 and XP here:

 

ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/services/whql/hcl/

 

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SOFTWARE:

InoculateIT AntiVirus W9x/NT FREE

 

  Computer Associates is offering this as a service for PC users in order to significantly limit the damage caused by viruses to PCs. The increasing prevalence of viruses and the growing numbers of desktop computers has led to this initiative.  Virus protection is an integral part of the PC and should not have to be purchased separately.

 

http://www.cai.com/antivirus/personal/

 

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QUICK WIT:

 

  Master your past in the present or your past will master your future.