Friday, April 22, 2011

Microsoft Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe) phone scammers

The local newspaper ran an article about the recent spate of scam telephone calls who tell you your computer is infected with a virus and offer to "help" you get it disinfected.

Internet scam reports increase

Since reading this article, I have taken three calls from these folks, two on Saturday, 16 April 2011 and one today (Fri, 22 April 2011). Each time it is a man with an Indian accent -- "Ronnie", "Shane", and "Jack". Each asked if I have a computer with an internet connection and told me it is downloading viruses and infecting my hard drive. Ronnie and Shane said they were from the "Technical Department of Computer" in Newark, New Jersey. Jack said he was from "Tech 4 PC Support" and gave me a phone number of 631-456-4455, which appears to be an unlisted number in Suffolk County, New York on Long Island.

All three calls had the Caller ID information blocked. The first two hung up after I asked them for their phone number. After each call, I hung up and phoned *57 to capture the caller information at Comcast for potential use by law enforcement.

After the first call, I phoned the county sheriff and filed a report and also filed a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, as recommended in the newspaper article.

I kept the third caller on the line a bit longer to find out more about the scam. He had me use Windows-R to pull up the Microsoft "Run" dialog and then "eventvwr" to open the Microsoft Event Viewer. Then he had me go to the "Windows Logs", "Application" pane and look at all of the "Error" and "Warning" lines.

These are all pretty normal entries in an uninfected Windows system, but the scammers hope that the user has never had occasion to use Event Viewer before and is awed that the scammer would know about these errors on their computer.

The third caller asked me to open Internet Explorer and go to "", which I declined to do.

On the next call, I may try putting the phone on speaker and recording it, as these folks have done.

Fake tech support call scam

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finished reading "Freedom and Federalism"

I just finished reading "Freedom and Federalism" today. This book was written by Felix Morley and published in 1959. I have had it on my "to read" list since at least October 2003. Ron Paul cites it favorably in his book, "The Manifesto: A Manifesto."

It sat on my bookshelf for several years until I began to read it in earnest in June 2010. I read a chapter here, and chapter there, intermingled with reading many other things that caught my fancy along the way.

I thought I'd quote a few thoughts from the final few pages that jumped out at me.

"Individualized liberty... is an elusive flame, continuously rekindling, in unexpected places and among all sorts of 'trouble makers,' regardless of the will and generally contrary to the wishes of Big Government. And to seek the source of this flame is to find it, with Saint Paul, 'where the spirit of the Lord is.' "

"... the founding fathers put restraints on government so that the governed might be free."

"Without faith, the Constitution falls. Whether or not our Federal Republic will be maintained is therefore at bottom a moral issue. It depends as much on the churches and synagogues as on the legislatures and the law courts. The growth of Big Government goes hand in hand with the loss of Big Conviction."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A letter from the Battle of the Bulge (1944)

My father's artillery unit shipped to Europe and engaged Hitler's armies in the Battle of the Bulge. Fortunately for my family, my father did not deploy with his unit due to a minor medical condition, so he missed being involved in this battle.

According to Wikipedia, "The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes Mountains region of Wallonia in Belgium... For the Americans, with about 500,000 to 840,000 men committed and some 70,000 to 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed, the Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle that they fought in World War II."

Battle of the Bulge, Wikipedia

I just read for the first time today a letter written to my father, George Starr, by an army colleague, Jim, from Belgium on Friday, 29 December 1944, about two weeks into the six-week Battle of the Bulge.

I know nothing about the author, except that he served with my father, but it seemed to me that his firsthand words on the glory and horrors of war are worth sharing with the world.
Dear George:

Received your letter today in the first mail we have had in days...

We have been in combat for some time now and have met with some measure of success, and, up to the present, a share of the glory that goes with it.

Ours was the first Division of the Third Army to penetrate the Reich... and we played no little part in the fall of Metz [France]. After that affair we fought our way across the Moselle [River] and clean to the Saar River near Mertzic, and that turned out to be a rough little party. If any of your friends have any idea the Siegfried Line is a pushover, take it from one who has been there, it's plenty rough going.

Well, George, we have sat in on some pretty rugged scraps since we started, but the one we are on now turned out to be the granddaddy of them all. We marched up here to Belgium to help throw a kink in Von Rundstedt plans to sweep all before him and drive on to the coast... We stopped him in front of us... For two days we held and then an airborne division moved in to help us...

Before any reinforcements could get to us, we were encircled but good and we were given an ultimatum and two hours in which to surrender. With the American spirit, it was rejected and the fight was on.

Right now what is left of us are Heroes and our praises are sung to the skies, but take it from me our Bn [Battalion] paid a terrific price for that piece of Glory.

I've been under counter-battery fire before, but never hope to be subjected to what we went through ever again. There are scenes seared in my mind that will take time to erase.

At one time, besides being under artillery fire, the Krauts were putting mortar fire down on us from a patch of woods about 500 yards away. I had the battery broke into two platoons of two guns each, firing them in different sectors to plug a break through. At the same time, we were swapping machine gun fire with the Kraut infantry with our 58s, and at the same time Captain McCain and I each were directing fire from an M7 [howitzer] apiece on four Mark IV tanks and an 88 [mm] AT [anti-tank] gun that were firing direct fire at us at a scant 200 yards. The 88 and three of the tanks are burned-out hulks -- mute testimony of the accuracy of my gunners.

Then came Heinic [Heinkel?] bombers and fighters and they bombed and strafed us, but we are still here and a supply route has been opened and troops are coming in to bolster and relieve us. For six long days, we were cut off and the Krauts threw everything in the book at us. Our ammunition was dropped to us by parachutes once. I was down to five rounds of H.E. [high-explosive] and it's an awful feeling.

Right now as I sit here writing to you we are being bombed, not right on us but all around us the fragmentation and incendiary bombs are falling. I guess as soon as sufficient forces get here we will be relieved to go to some quiet place and lick our wounds and reorganize and fill in the gaps and perhaps get a rest.

You can be proud of your old outfit now, George. We have made a place in history for ourselves, but while some will be telling their friends that they have a son or husband in the 420th or CCB, there will be many nursing a broken heart cause some of the officers you knew are not coming back, and likewise many of the men you knew -- five of my best sergeants are gone.

Maybe I seem like a crank, George, but my mind and heart are full of what is around me.

Regards to the Boys -- Jim