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Farmville Addiction Leads to Baby’s Death

Today a severely depressing story of a baby that was shaken to death for interrupting his mother's Farmville time.

A normal parent knows interruptions happen and can deal, but someone suffering from an addiction is different. They're obsessed and nothing else is as important!

The Mashable article says this:

Needless to say, it is Ms. Tobias — and not the game itself — that is responsible for the death of her 3-month-old son.

While this is completely true, I don't think it's right to say that Farmville was not involved and bears none of the responsibility. The game, is fun, engaging, bright and feeds into people's innate needs to build, organize, nurture, and escape (all signs of addictive games), but worst of all, Farmville punishes you for not playing. When you stop playing, your animals and crops die.

At some point, the people who make Farmville had a meeting to decide how to keep people playing the game and came up with the death idea. To be fair, maybe they didn't realize how this would lead many people into addiction, but it has and that fact is pretty obvious by now.

Even Mashable agrees:

FarmVille, named one of the “worst inventions” in recent decades by Time magazine, has more than 60 million members, most of whom access the game through Facebook (Facebook). Some players have found it so addicting that they’ve lost their jobs and racked up debts north of $1,000.

In the end, what company owns up to this and apologizes or changes their ways even in the face of deaths and misery that they had a hand in causing? Instead, they'll blame the user saying that it's totally their responsibility for becoming addicted. So the only choice you have is to handle it yourself.

You have to manage or completely avoid games that are (allegedly) built addictive. Just do a search for "name of game" addictive and if there are pages and pages of results, you just might want to steer clear.

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Answer a Phone Survey – Get Cheated

Telemarketer
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

I've always debated things like helping jaywalkers, buying magazines at the door, and listening to telemarketers, but I think that I've finally come up with a common solution. Don't pick up anyone on the side of the road. Don't buy anything at your doorstep that doesn't involve cash and girl-scout cookies. And definitely, never, ever, talk to someone selling something or doing a "survey" on the phone.

The Consumerist is running a story about a warehouse worker who took a phone survey and was fired for it. It turns out that the shady company on the other end remixed the phone call recording to make it sound as if he answered "YES" to questions like "are you authorized to make phone plan decisions for your company" and "do you want to switch to Thieving Scumbag Phone Service Inc?"

It may not be fair to the people who are honest, but there's just no way for you to know who is and who isn't safe to deal with so the only logical choice to to stay out of it entirely. Check out this advice from a prior phone survey industry member on how to permanently get out of the call listings.

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Story of Gaming Addiction

Gaming
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.5 [SRC])

This is a heartbreaking account of someone's battle with gaming addiction. Posted here so I can look it up later.

This pretty much sums it up.

"I hated level 40," she said with a sigh. It was the first time we'd spoken in eight years, and she had never forgotten the night I spurned her advances in favor of gaining a level in EverQuest.
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5 Minutes Posing as a 14-year-old On Social Site

Facebook
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

A police official in the UK signed up a new account with a girls name and used data and a photo that suggested he was a 14 year old girl.

Within 90 seconds, a middle-aged man wanted to perform a sex act in front of me. I was deluged by strangers asking stomach-churning questions about my sexual experience. I was pressured to meet men with whom I'd never before communicated.

If you plan to let your kids use sites like these, you have to know what they're getting into. Make sure you have the name and password to their account (being friends with them is not enough) so you can see what they see and talk to them about it. Also bone up on safety precautions like learning the proper way to secure your account.

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Beware the Inevitable Haiti Earthquake Relief Scams

Beware of spewing garbage

As always happens with current events and especially with relief and aid efforts, scammers come out of their holes to steal money meant for the unfortunate. E-mails and social networking messages will start pouring in and fake relief websites have popped up already. Avoid scams that only make scammers richer and donate only directly to major organizations (such as the Red Cross) or at least do your research first.

The Better Business Bureau has a listing of charities that are in good standing at http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/

For more information about the scams, see the Ars Technica article on the subject.

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H1N1 (Swine Flu) Myths, Facts, and Governement Negligence

Swine Flu!

The CDC says swine flu is everywhere. A CBS investigation says it's not. How do you know who's telling the truth? Well, try looking at the evidence.

According to Dr. Mercola of mercola.com:

  • The CDC has stopped testing for Swine Flu so how would they know how wide-spread it is?
  • The CDC has a long history of conflicts of interest between makers of vaccines and regulators of vaccines.
  • "the U.S. government has granted vaccine makers total legal immunity from any lawsuits that result from the new swine flu vaccine"

And a little more detail on that last one:

The most problematic aspect of the PREP Act is that it removes all financial incentive to make a safe product.

In fact, vaccine makers now have a negative incentive to test it for safety, because if they are aware of problems, then they could potentially be held liable for willful misconduct!

As long as they can prove they "didn't know" of any problem, they will not be liable for damages. Hence it's in their best interest to know as little as possible about the adverse reactions it might cause.

Before you get hyped up about this "pandemic" and rush out to get the vaccine, maybe you should do a little more research. I'm not suggesting there's some conspiracy theory here, just that if what the article says is true, we already know that poor regulation leads to tragedies and abuse and the Swine Flu issue may be just one more example.

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Control Your Online Banking With Twitter. Seriously!?

This is a great idea!
(Image source is unknown)
With tweetMyMoney, you can monitor your account balance, deposits, withdrawals, holds and cleared checks with simple commands. And, you can even transfer funds within your account. It’s all available on Twitter, 24/7! And, the best part is, our tweetMyMoney service is free!

(Emphasis mine)

Hello Twitter banking, goodbye money.

Why anyone thought this was a good idea, I don't know. Granted, you can't transfer money to OTHER accounts, only "within you account", but someone who breaks into your twitter account can still get a lot of information about you and move your money around causing you serious overdraft fees.

The issue at heart here is that getting information about your account and moving money around only requires the security of your Twitter account (which isn't to say much). How many people put strong passwords on their Twitter like they do the bank? How much effort does Twitter put into their security?

I think the idea of alerts to your phone is kind of cool, but maybe the bank should have set up its own Twitter-like messaging service instead of using a public one that's a big fat target of bad guys already.

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Veterans Affairs Phone Scam

Beware of traps
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

Sadly, traditional phone call scams still work particularly against those of the previous generation that never had to distrust any callers. This one is targeting military veterans:

"America’s Veterans have become targets in an inexcusable scam that dishonors their service and misrepresents the Department built for them," said Dr. Gerald Cross, VA’s Under Secretary for Health. "VA simply does not call Veterans and ask them to disclose personal financial information over the phone."

Remember that people who call you could be bad guys. Before giving away any sensitive data, find out how to reach them through ONLY public phone numbers available on the official website or in a phone book NOT using any numbers they give you.

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Watch What You Post or Find Your Facebook Used Against You

Facebook
(Image used under: Creative Commons 2.0 [SRC])

Here's another example of how someone's Facebook profile was used against them (First example here).

"If you are alleging that, as a result of an accident, you have not been able to enjoy life the same way and there is a photo taken after the accident showing you skiing or exercising … that could be relevant," the civil litigation and intellectual property lawyer said in an interview yesterday.

Well duh. If there are cases where people's personal diaries have been subpoenaed, I guarantee you an online record like Facebook is fair game.

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Countrywide Settles Predatory Lending Suit for Almost 9 Billion

Predatory lending
(Image is in the Public Domain)

All I can say is "good". There needs to be consequences for companies that manipulate people for greed.

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