Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Haunted PlattInfo Kiosk Gives Up The Ghost

(C) 2017 Luke T.Bush


The screen is black again.  No more outdated ads from the past.

As I've discussed before the PlattInfo kiosk on City Hall Place came back to life last month with limited functionality.  This outdoor kiosk -- one of three -- was part of a computerized system that was supposed to provide details on various Plattsburgh City businesses through its touchscreen.  The entire system has spent most of its existence dead and useless.

The freelance software engineer who wrote the proprietary software for the system, Jesse Feiler, hasn't responded to my email requests.  I've been trying to find out what went wrong after thousands of taxpayer dollars were poured into the chrome tombstones.  Recently I did get a reply from Paul DeDominicas, Director of Community Development, regarding what was and was not going on with PlattInfo.

Months ago the kiosks got a new slap of paint to cover up the rust.  When the City Hall Place kiosk came back to half-life it appeared an attempt was being made to reboot the system.

In his email reply Paul said the City Hall Place kiosk must have mysteriously reactivated itself without any prompting.  It's reactivation wasn't part of any plan to repurpose the system.

He wrote:  "At this time, there is not a push to update the system as it was installed.  The system was purchased through a grant program which required the system be in place for a certain amount of time.  The grant period expires in the fall of 2017.  The functionality of the system needs to be examined and the conversation needs to focus around what can the system become now that smart phones/apps are so prevalent. One of the ideas in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is to provide some public Wi-Fi spots downtown.  The system could be repurposed to assist with that project.  Though nothing has been determined at this time."

Maybe the ghost in the machine will haunt us once again before this fall, giving us some entertainment for the money spent, more glimpses into the far past.  And if the kiosks become part of a new wi-fi system the city better hire a techno-exorcist.

If It Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, Google It

(C) 2017 Luke T. Bush


"Did you read that article about a new drug that has the drug companies worried?"

Article?  I didn't see an article; I spotted something else.  I picked up a copy of the January 24 edition of the Press-Republican to verify what I had seen.  Yup, there it was on page A3, running down the length of the right hand side: "Drug Companies Fear Release of the New AloeCure."  Headline, byline, pull quotes -- but it ain't any news article.

With breathless hyperbole the ad proclaims: "Analysts expect the AloeCure to put a crimp in 'Big Pharma' profits."  Really.  Please name two independent analysts.

But that's not all!  "Doctors call it 'The greatest health discovery in decades!'" 


I spoke to the person who had mentioned this "article" to me, explaining it was really an advertisement formatted to look like a news story.  I pointed to the tiny print at the top of the ad, just below the date and page number: PAID ADVERTISEMENT.  Another scam.

Scam is a strong word.  But once again like previous pseudo-articles the PR has published for other shady companies there's more fine print at the bottom:  "THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION.  THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. RESULTS MAY VARY.  ALOECURE IS NOT A DRUG."

Standard disclaimer.  Carpe diem.  You're on your own.

Among its various uses AloeCure is touted as a better way to soothe intestinal discomfort without the nasty side effects of Big Pharma drugs like Prilosec that can result in bone and health damage from overuse.  And there's also another great AloeCure benefit.  By eating fatty foods your brain can get clogged up just like a drain when grease and fat are poured down it.   But have no fear!  "The acemanan used in AloeCure actually makes sure gut healthier, so healthy bacteria flows freely to your brain so you think better, faster, and with a larger capacity for memory."

Because I already think better without ingesting AloeCure I decided to do some Googling and see what the real story was.

AloeCure is also hawked on TV.  The Infomercial Scams website says that AloeCure is marketed as a dietary supplement thus avoiding FDA oversight.  AloeCure is basically rebranded Aloe Vera juice that can be bought for a lot cheaper at a GNC store.

And there's more fine print: "Shipping and processing fees are non-refundable. After the 30 day guarantee period is over all sales are final. Returns may be subject to a re-stocking fee. Returned packages require a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) number to ensure accurate processing."

According to the Infomercial Scams site there have been numerous complaints about AloeCure customer service treating callers rudely, AloeCure billing unsatisfied customers after they canceled their orders, and the company refusing refund requests despite its risk free trial offer.  More complaints can be found at other sites like here.

There are some customers who say AloeCure works for them and are satisfied with the product. That aside there problems like the lousy customer service, overbilling and fighting for a refund.  Here's an excerpt from one critical comment at the Infomercial Scams site:

"In this case, where my brother was terminally ill, he was certainly not looking for continual shipments. He simply wanted to try one case, and the taped conversation about his intentions was very clear. But they have ignored our request for a full credit in spite of all common sense pointing to the obvious."

How many readers take the time to personally evaluated dubious ads published in the Press-Republican?  Many probably don't because they think:  "If it's in the newspaper it must be true."  Especially if they assume what they read is an article.

For shame, Press-Republican.  Like a manure spreader your paper is a scam spreader.

Shouldn't you be investigating scams instead of promoting them?

Friday, January 20, 2017

City Hall Dog Park

A matter of respect.  As I've said many times before it's not the dog, it's the pig on the other end of the leash.  Take Pride, Plattsburgh City!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Publish What You Preach

(C) 2017 Luke T. Bush


Why does your local newspaper suck?

One main reason is that most papers are owned by a chain that is only interested in profits, not journalism.  Staff and quality is sacrificed to appease the great stockholder gods.

You can tell when the staff has been cut to the bone.  Call it the gaping newshole syndrome.

Newshole refers to the amount of space that can be devoted to publishing articles.  When things were going great the newshole was tight, plenty of advertising.  Ads took priority over news.  Sometimes an article would be cut to fit in another ad.

But the market has changed.  Lots of room now.  The local daily, the Press-Republican, sometimes uses oversized photos to dominate the page, filling in for the lack of print material.  Fewer reporters means less copy generated.  Or is the PR changing itself into a newer LIFE magazine?

This gaping newshole reflects the rise of internet advertising, including Craigslist which provides a cheaper alternative to the local classifieds.  In desperation the Press-Republican ran a display ad today taking a shot at  Craigslist.  The ad's centerpiece is a photo of some young maniac wearing earrings and a baseball cap, his tongue sticking out sideways. 

The ad text reads: "We don't know who Craig is... ..but his list seems pretty shady.  Press-Republican  Classifieds that work...honestly."

Yes, the man behind Craigslist is a young crazy out to rip you off.  Of course you can only trust your hometown newspaper when it comes to advertising.

Sure.  As I've blogged in the past the Press-Republican runs display ads for products of a dubious nature such as a pill for improving your memory.  At first glance the ad looks like a headlined article.  But if you look hard you can spot ADVERTISEMENT in tiny letters at the top.  For elderly readers -- the usual targets of these ads -- they will have to ask Superman to use his microscopic vision to discern the small print.

The article goes on about all sorts of health claims, its product the answer to your ailment.


Caveat emptor, sucker.

Friday, January 13, 2017

You'll Be Soyry

One of the major green consumers of soy-based wiring.

© 2017 Luke T. Bush


I just love all green products.  For example, take my low-flush toilet – please.

An invention intended to save water.  Less water per flush means a great benefit to the environment.  And if the water system becomes privatized, it means greater profits for a greedy corporation.

I enjoy the way my low-flush unit saves so much water.  Unlike a real toilet – one sitting, one flush – to prevent clogs I have to break my throne time into multiple segments.  Too much material at once and unsanitary water floods the bathroom floor.  So I have to flush five or six times.  A multiple flush procedure avoids twenty or more whams on the toilet plunger to get things flowing again.

The march to green product supremacy continues.  As reported recently in the local daily (news)paper soy-based Xmas lights were used to light up the Big Tree downtown. 

The Big Tree owes its continued existence to being decorated for the holidays each year.  Environmentalist and former mayor Dan “Axeman” Stewart wanted that tree chopped down because it was blocking the view of deteriorating buildings in the area.  Xmas lights kept the blade at bay.

The tree is impressive, perfectly cone-shaped like the heads of certain city leaders.  It looks great without the Xmas lights.

I noticed the other evening that some of the lights were out.  Why?  Thank the hungry squirrels.

Rodents just love feeding on soy insulation and components.  Major auto companies like Honda are facing class–action lawsuits from customers who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to get their cars running again. Of course if cars don’t run that’s less harm to the environment: less pollution created, less fuel consumed.  How environmentally-friendly can you get?

In the meantime Plattsburgh City can’t afford new lights so it’s cut-and-splice back together time.  That’ll save big $.

One option is coating the tree with predator urine to scare away the squirrels. Sounds olfactorily delightful. Of course if this option doesn’t work that means more money pissed away.

Soy-based wiring is indeed green – as in greenbacks.  The lawsuit against Honda stated:

"(The automaker) has turned this defective soy-based insulated wiring into another source of income for Honda and its dealers by charging aggrieved vehicle owners for repairs or parts to deal with the adverse consequences …that Honda should have covered under warranty in the first place."

Go green.

When December rolls around make sure to hug your Xmas tree adorned with soy-based lights.  Be careful not to disturb the squirrels – or the rats.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Devil In The Details?

Technicality Could Block Trump From Swearing In

By Sue Doe, Ersatz News Service

A little known rule pertaining to the swearing-in of a new president might keep President-elect Donald Trump from gaining control of the White House.

The Founding Fathers wanted to prevent any unqualified “boy kings” from assuming the presidency after seeing the ensuing disasters with young rulers in Europe.  As reported Trump has stubby fingers and small hands.  The size of his hands must meet the requirement set forth by the swearing-in rules.  The hand he places on the special ceremonial Bible must at least fit the rough outline of an adult hand imprinted on the cover.

DC insiders claim Trump’s organization is trying to suppress this critical detail from the public.