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I got hacked again this past week.  I had the week nicely structured to stay in my office and get lots of work done.  Things I had been trying to complete for the past couple week.  This is the second time I have been hacked with this computer and I have only owned it for 3 months.  So the first hack involved someone diverting my email for 6 hours.  I could not get it back, but I stopped the diversion (I think) with the help of ATT.  Who knows what information was transmitted other than a lots of what is really spam.

Ok, so then I start getting these phone calls from “Microsoft Windows” noting errors they are receiving from my computer.  Now most you recall that Microsoft used to ask if you wanted them to be notified of errors, but since everyone said yes, they now just do it automatically.  Mostly the “Microsoft Windows” guys left messages on my cell phone since that is the number registered with Microsoft.  I picked up the phone one time, but the “Microsoft Windows” guy could not tell me which of my computers was sending the messages (I have more than one).

But that did not stop the calls which have accelerated of late.  So I get another call that I answer (from a number in Washington state) from “Martin” with “Microsoft Windows”  who, without accessing my computer, knows over 9,000 errors had been sent, starting the day I bought the computer.  He also knows the software serial information, computer serial numbers, etc., all of which he can recite over the phone and ask me to check to verify he is with “Microsoft Windows” because otherwise he would not have that information.  And then he notes that because the 25 digit codes for Windows 8 is not visible, “Microsoft” will cause a key lock on my computer – a message that I again could verify without him accessing the computer.  And of course that’s how he tries to convince me he is calling from “Microsoft Windows.”

NOTE:  Miscrosoft DOES NOT Call you – it is a scam (see the internet).  So I have the hacker on the phone.  He emails me his info (of course he has my registered email like everything else), which I note says pcsync.org, not “Microsoft Windows.” I asked and I was suddenly disconnected.  And within the hour, the computer is locked.  Clearly the acceleration of calls was because the hackers knew about the key lock because they installed it and they want to get to the last minute.  Now Martin called back about 20 times in the next 2 hours trying get me, but the number he left is not valid (despite his website listing it). And of course he will fix the problem for $239 plus whatever else he can sell you.  That’s the hacker scam – create a problem than get you to pay to fix it.

And when it locks – the result is a window that asks for Startup password – which Microsoft will tell you, indicates you have been hacked.  Except, then Microsoft says they need the 25 digit code for the operating software to fix your computer.  “But you need to get that from Dell” even though Dell only loads the software – you need to register it with Microsoft to make it work.  So I called Dell, and the first person says sure they can give it to you, but the second “no they need to send CDs.”

OK they are both wrong.  With Windows 8.1 the code is not on your computer if pre-loaded.  And of course Dell does not give you a recovery disk when you buy it.  Dell knows about the code.  So does Microsoft.  So an hour plus wasted there with two good organizations who clearly do not communicate.  So I am shut out of the new computer and the email.

Good news though is that maybe 10 years ago I was advised by Gateway (the old cow computers) to use iyogi.com to fix a prior issue.  So 13 hours later and lots of time with Amit, we are sort of back up running.  And of course iyogi knows about the code issue that Dell and Microsoft mis-advised me on and told me the story above.  And yet we both wondered how pcsync.org (the hackers) was tracking my computer error messages to Microsoft from day 1?  Have they hacked Microsoft?  Dell?

And the next day one of my friends, in talking about this says – “Hey wait, I keep having pop-ups for pcsync on my computer also.”  And later in the day, another says the same thing –“ pcsync is on mine too.”  And neither has a Dell – but they do have Microsoft Windows 7 or later.  And makes me wonder, who is taking responsibility for protecting the consumers here?  Clearly the computer manufacturers do not take responsibility.  Maybe they can’t.  Microsoft doesn’t appear to either, so that leaves us . . . . . vulnerable.  Mr. Gates you have a great operating system, but this problem costs us lost productivity, money, time, irritation…even when you have all kinds of anti-maleware and anti-virals on your computer.  If the hackers can get in day 1, how do you stop that?  And apparently the maleware doesn’t see it (hint).

So the questions:

  • Does “Microsoft Windows” know about this?
  • If so, why have they not fixed it?
  • Do the computer manufacturers know this issue occurs?
  • Why have they not talked to Microsoft about it?
  • Why doesn’t the maleware address it?
  • How are they getting in?
  • Is Microsoft hacked – perhaps the biggest hack of all?
  • And why have the internet police addressed pcsync and their ilk? It is all over the internet!!!!!

Clearly the penalties for hacking are not nearly severe enough.  And from a law enforcement and cyber security perspective, we clearly lack the resources to protect individuals, so beware!

And if you see pcsync – call iyogi or someone who can help.  Quickly!!


I worked for a while in rural North Carolina.  I confronted two issues there that are instructive. The first was that many people did not value education because for the most part they expected to do menial labor activities on farms or in construction.  They figured they did not need much education. That was the adults!!  Kids in such situations have little hope of succeeding academically when their parents do not value education, and in some cases may either ridicule their efforts or at least be un-supportive of same.  The second was the idea that the “guys” who could not work anywhere but needed a job should get a job with the “city.”  Wow, I’d like to hope we are past both of these, but the Census statistics clearly show we are not on the education part at least.  Census data indicates that when you look at educational spending, per capita income, graduation rates and unemployment rates, the bottom 10 states are:

North Carolina

Tennessee

South Carolina

Nevada

Kentucky

Alabama

Mississippi

West Virginia

Louisiana

Arkansas

All but Nevada (#35) are in the bottom 12 in spending per student and the academic achievement of their students appears to indicate the efforts are inadequate.  For the most part these are largely rural southern states, so my experiences 25 years ago may be no different now. Kids see low wages, higher unemployment and figure what does education get them?, so it perpetuates the myth of their parents. Or maybe it is not a myth afterall?  Interesting these are primarily the states with the highest number of students in poverty, lead my Mississippi’s whopping 71%.  All are over 50%. All among the states with highest rates of food stamp recipients.  So the kids are living the low income expectations.

Where I currently am I periodically interact with inner-city kids. No surprise, there is a similar mindset – the kids see their future as minimum wage jobs that require no skills, or the expectation that the violence of their surroundings will catch up to them (crime, welfare, etc).  None of their expectations require education (although it is surprising how sophisticated their understanding of all of these issues are), so many do not pursue learning with vigor after 10 or 12 years old. Skipping school, suspensions, lower scores and grades are common.  Too many parents do not encourage their kids and the mindset creates deterioration of urban schools. Periodically I have students who are actively trying to escape the stereotypes, but they will confirm that school is not a priority for far too many  inner city kids.  No surprise they learn this from their parents who are often underemployed or lack good employment because they never obtained the education needed to escape the neighborhood. 

In both cases the problem is lack of employment expectations. The kids look around them and figure they have no hope of escaping the minimum wage, limited skill jobs. Unfortunately our job resurgence indicates that these are the jobs we are producing the most on far too many areas.  In the past 2 years, the State of Florida suggests that 90% of the jobs created are minimum wages jobs.  The local casinos are advertising for hundreds of jobs – as waiters, kitchen help, maintenance, etc. most starting at or just above minimum wage rate.  The hospitality industry is full or low wage, limited skill jobs. So is agriculture in rural areas. The problem is the message sent to kids?  Education is not rewarded, so why bother.

So what does this have to do with utilities?  Utilities are everywhere and inn every community. Education affects utilities because as technology grows, we need better job skills from workers.  Gone are the days of hiring people to dig ditches that may not need to read, write or do math.  We are computerizing everything.  As a result all of our jobs, regardless how much labor may be involved, need skills.  Utility field people are the face of the utility.  We need qualified, employees to can represent the utility well, not uneducated, ignorant people who can’t answer questions or who cannot communicate with the public about what they are doing.  The question is how to solve this problem especially in rural areas where education may not be valued. 

First, we need to get into the schools.  Not colleges, but middle schools.  That is where many students appear to be lost.  They get to be 16 and drop out.  Hanging out, not working, gangs, crime, drug cultures, etc all appear to be “easier” than going to school and then working to earn a living.  We need to create value in all of our jobs.  Certainly not all jobs need a college education, but  a high school diploma with basic abilities to read, write, do math and communicate to the public are needed to create value for us. We need to impress on rural communities and inner city kids that we provide desirable jobs and encourage them toward us.  That may mean internships, student efforts in schools, tours, and lots of interaction with teachers.  It takes time, but may be worth our while on many levels.  

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