More stupid technology predictions

I really wish that writers would stop creating lists of “obsolete technology” that is based entirely on what they personally use.

I first responded to one such article almost 9 years ago in which a list in the New York Times, of all places, listed a number of “Gadgets You Can Get Rid Of“. Included on that list were desktop computers, cable TV (depends), point and shoot camera, camcorder, USB thumb drives, and digital music players. Of all of those items, how many are still around? ALL OF THEM! Yes, even digital music players and point & shoot cameras.

And almost 8 years ago I responded to an article called “15 current technologies my newborn son won’t use“. And on that list? Wired home Internet, dedicated cameras and camcorders, desktop computers, remote controls… You get the idea. All stuff that is still around even today.

So since it’s been quite a while since I last tackled something like this, let’s go through a list I found of… 35 “Common Objects That Will Be Completely Useless In Just A Few Years“. Because Paige Steinman thinks that what she doesn’t use won’t be around in a few years while displaying a profound inability to think about contingencies – what will you do when the technology fails? I’ll skip over the ones on which I have no disagreement.

1. Keys

Just like workplaces have chips or use other technology to sign in each day, pretty soon homes will rely on similar functions, whether that be key fobs, fingerprints, or Bluetooth technology.

Yes and no. The issue with digital locks is they don’t work when the power fails or the batteries die. I have a digital lock on my back door. And on the walk-in door to my detached garage. Both have key backups. Because if their power fails, I still need to be able to get into my house.

And if you’re response is “well just keep an eye on the batteries”, imagine you’re gone from home for a week and come back to find the batteries died while you were away, and never gave any warning before you left. Now imagine that lock has no physical key backup and no way to enter the code since… the batteries have died.

2. Parking meters

Many cities have already begun to implement online options for parking meters, where drivers can log onto an app and pay their parking fees right from their cell phones, and that trend is only expected to catch on.

They’ve actually started to accept credit cards. Most paid parking garages and lots now accept credit cards for payment. I don’t expect apps to be the primary way people pay for parking anytime soon. I don’t know of any here in Kansas City that use an app or accept an app.

3. Side View Mirrors

Today, more and more cars come with the option to use cameras that show the driver what is behind them, instead of traditional rear view mirrors. Some predict that car dealers may give the side view mirrors the same treatment, letting drivers use video cameras instead, and helping them avoid those dangerous blind spots.

Vehicles aren’t getting rid of mirrors. Yes a lot of vehicles do include cameras along the sides of the vehicle – they tend to also be more expensive – but they still include the mirrors and will always include mirrors. Since it’s a lot easier to glance at a mirror than a camera display. And you can do that without taking your eyes off the road!

Seriously if you think regulators are going to allow cameras in place of mirrors, you’re sorely mistaken.

4. Passwords

Experts predict that in the next few years, using scans of thumbprints or even our own faces will take the places of passwords. And unlike written passwords, it is pretty hard to forget either of those things.

Yeah… no. And what “experts” are predicting “in the next few years” that passwords will be… gone. It isn’t happening. While biometrics methods of authentication will continue to grow, passwords won’t be completely displaced. Fingerprints can be duplicated – the Mythbusters demonstrated that – and facial recognition can be fooled as well. High security settings will still use passwords as one part of a multi-factor authentication setup.

Plus not all devices allow for biometric entry. Imagine that! I don’t have biometrics on my desktop computer, for example. And not everyone can use biometrics for authentication.

5. Headphones with cords

With the introduction of Airpods, Apple solidified the death of corded headphones once and for all.

Many said the same thing about wired keyboards and mice, yet both continue to persist on the market, and both sell quite well. Because neither require batteries, for one. Same with wired headphones.

Airpods won’t replace my $200 headphones. Airpods won’t replace wired headphones at all. Especially since I can’t use Airpods or anything like that due to problems I have with my ears. And I have wireless headphones that I use at work. I prefer the sound I get from my wired headphones I use at home.

6. Wallets

With new programs like Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, soon enough having a wallet will be unnecessary.

Two things you’re forgetting: forms of identification and insurance. You still need a wallet for both. IDs aren’t going to be phone apps. And while proof of auto insurance is available in phone apps – I have GEICO specifically – health insurance hasn’t gotten there yet.

And I don’t expect government-issued IDs to ever be there.

8. Pennies

In the foreseeable future, those little copper pennies might only be available in our memories.

The only way this would actually happen is if we got rid of coins entirely and printed currency with face values of less than a dollar. There was once a time where that happened, but I don’t expect us to return to that.

10. Cash registers

In a short while, the cash register itself will be added to the list of everyday items that are totally out of date. And anyone who has been to a farmer’s market or boutique lately has probably already noticed.

The cash register has merely assumed a different form. Technically speaking, a cash register is a “point of sale system”. And it started assuming a different form even before the end of the 20th century.

11. Phone Chargers

Yes, folks, she thinks everything is going to be charged wirelessly.

Thank goodness, some tech experts say that phones might soon be self-charging. Although so far no one is exactly sure what that might look like, phones could soon come with the ability to charge just by being connected by WiFi or by other wireless means.

Wireless chargers are way too slow and way too inefficient compared to wired chargers, and they will never be at parity simply due to the physics involved.

Instead the portable chargers are going to become more common than they already are. They’re already everywhere, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of households have several of them.

12. Drivers License

Instead, we are saying that the future might not mean that teens will receive a physical drivers license. Instead, these documents might be available online. And who knows, will self driving cars coming out, we might not need a license at all.

And what happens if your phone dies or you don’t have an Internet connection? This is why wallets and physical cash won’t go away either. Making government-issued identification “available online” only is just asking for trouble in that regard as well. I mean, what if your phone dies and you get pulled over on your way to get it repaired or replaced?

14. Video cameras

With video recording functions on just about every phone, everyone has a built-in camcorder right in their pocket that is not nearly as bulky as an old school video camera.

The camera on your phone is also quite limited in its capability, since it’s locked to one aperture and focal length. Zooming in on your phone is a digital zoom, not an optical zoom – and no, they are not the same.

Until phones start coming with optical zoom capability, dedicated cameras aren’t going away. Plus the sensors in camera phones are smaller than even in point & shoot cameras, meaning low-light capability will never be as good. And there’s also the fact the camera is just another app, meaning other apps could interfere with trying to record a video.

15. Lines

Standing in a never-ending line might be one of the most frustrating experiences. And do not even get us started about those lines that truly never seem to move an inch. But instead of being one of those people who cuts the line, maybe in the future we can cut lines out entirely.

Again this is a case of something merely changing form, not going away. For example, many government offices give you the ability to wait in a virtual line – e.g. the Johnson County, KS, Treasurer’s Office via QLess.

16. Printed Books

The fact that actual physical paper books are becoming less popular should come as no surprise, as bookstores have been closing down at a pretty alarming rate. But pretty soon, we could be in a whole new world where one has to “turn on” a book rather than opening it up. And that’s a pretty scary story.

Which is why we’ll never get there for a lot of different types of books. Reference books being one. I also have the physical copies of several e-books I also own, such as Stunning Digital Photography by Tony & Chelsea Northrup.

Plus printed books don’t require a power source.

17. Paper

There was once a time when thinking about paper as obsolete would have been seen as absolutely ridiculous.

We’re still in that time. We will never be able to completely get rid of paper, and it’s shortsighted to even consider such a possibility given all the ways paper is used today. You might not use it much anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be “completely useless”. Especially since physically writing stuff down is better than typing it in a phone.

18. Digital Cameras

Oh not this again.

We are going to go ahead and guess that it has a lot to do with smartphones, and the fact that now everyone has a surprisingly capable camera prepackaged into their phones. Some of the cameras in smartphones have even surpassed the quality of your average digital camera. So when it comes to digital cameras, take a picture. It will last longer.

Again camera phones have a fixed aperture, so you can’t control depth of focus and the amount of light to the sensor. Software can mimic depth of focus, but it isn’t anywhere near the same as doing that with a physical lens. Digital zoom in a cell phone is not the same as an optical zoom. Plus the smaller sensor means it won’t function nearly as well in low light.

Plus the digital camera has GROWN in popularity in recent years. Photography has become more popular as a hobby, and while a camera phone will get you started, you’ll fast run into its limitations: again, fixed aperture and focal length, and the smaller sensor.

19. Hard Drives

Was anyone even technologically up to date in the early 2000s if they did not have their own personal hard drive to lug around? We think not.

This wasn’t even close to commonplace.

Instead, anyone who wants to back up their information no longer has to carry around a big hunk of metal. Concepts like the Apple Cloud or Google Drive will take care of all of that without any of that heavy hardware as people move forward into a new era of computer memory storage.

So long as you don’t lose your Internet connection. Again that’s the one thing so many seem to forget about the “cloud”: what happens if you lose your Internet connection?

23. Needles

And now her ignorance really shines through. I’m pretty sure she’s likely already been yelled at by doctors and nurses for this.

For years, scientists and other medical professionals have been working on developing an alternative to vaccinations through injections.

Okay she really needs to read about vaccines. I’m not a medical professional or vaccinologist and even I know how wrong this is. A lot of vaccines are intra-muscular: they are injected, via a needle, into muscle tissue. Some vaccines administered are orally or nasally, but those are the exception.

Beyond that, to say that vaccines may be administered via an alternate route doesn’t mean needles are going to be “obsolete”. I hope a few doctors and nurses have metaphorically (or even physically) slapped her silly for this. There is still plenty that will require needles, since it’s the only way to administer via the intravenous pathway.

25. DVDs

How long has the death of physical media been predicted?

With streaming services like the aforementioned Netflix, along with Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Go, DVDs have become obsolete, and overall just unnecessary.

What if you want to watch something that isn’t available through any of the online services? I have quite a bit on my media server that isn’t available anywhere online for free or as part of a subscription service. So I’m not at the mercy of what the online services decide to make available and when they decide to pull it.

And courtesy of it all being on my home network, even for what is available online, I have better video and audio quality compared to online streaming. Plus it doesn’t rely on my Internet connection, so it’s always available. And as I also have the physical copies, I can still watch it even if my server isn’t cooperating.

And the same for CDs.

This also means I can copy those files off onto one of my laptops or a USB drive to take anywhere I may want to watch them.

27. Television Remotes

Many devices like Apple TV and Roku allow for users to download a remote control onto their cell phones using apps.

And universal remotes have existed for quite a long time. Remote controls allow you to control a device remotely. This is yet another case of a new form adopting an existing function, similar to the point of sale system or “cash register”.

28. GPS Devices

People are no longer plugging in a GPS device on long road trips, but instead they are using their phones for Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, or other apps. And when it doubt, many cars now come with built in GPS devices.

GPS devices have the benefit of not needing to rely on an Internet connection to determine your location. While they may not be necessary in a lot of places, they are still invaluable devices for those who travel or live in places where a good data signal to a cell phone isn’t available – perish the thought, I know.

30. Check books

That is because people just are not writing checks anymore like they used to. At work, many businesses are utilizing the direct deposit option, erasing the need for checks. Otherwise, sites like PayPal or apps like Venmo have made it so that exchanging money can be done in a way that is much easier and no longer requires anyone whipping out their check books.

Not everyone accepts online or electronic payments.

So while check books have mostly gone the way of the dodo, checks (bank drafts) have not. For example I still use checks periodically, but I have them printed and sent through my banks bill pay service.

31. Long distance charges

It might not be long before long distance calling charges are a thing of the past. More and more often, cell phone carriers are including at least a few minutes of long distance calls to their phone plans.

In the 15 years I’ve been an AT&T customer (the first few years of it with Cingular), I’ve never paid for long distance. If your cell phone plan does not include long distance calling, then change it. Even prepaid cell phones should allow long distance minutes as if they were local minutes.

34. Thumb drives

Again with the cloud!!

So why is something that is so useful and easy finding itself becoming useless? Well, the only thing easier than carrying around data in a pocket is not carrying it around at all. By that we mean that new technology like cloud storage makes it so that thumb drives are no longer necessary.

There’s a simple question: what will you do if you don’t have an Internet connection?

Thumb drives make it stupid easy to carry data with you. This is sometimes necessary for times where you won’t have a (reliable) connection to your cloud storage. Plan for it. Thumb drives are stupid cheap anymore.

Prove you’re not cheating

This was from Reddit’s AmITheAsshole forum:

Me (34m) and partner (33f) went on a holiday to Bali with two of her friends and their husbands. On the second day the girls went shopping, the husband’s went for a massage and I stayed around the pool. Turns out these massages had a very “happy ending” and somehow their wives found out.

My partner then started to question if I was with them, I laughed it of and told her I was at the pool. After talking to her friends she started questioning me again. I asked if the other men said I had, she said no but maybe they’re covering for me!!! I refused to answer anymore question I had done fuck all wrong. We never spoke that night and I stayed away from the rest of the group, who seemed to be over the whole thing and was having a great time now!!!

I remembered I had all the signed receipts from the pool for all the food and drinks I had charged to the room and all had the times on. Absolute proof that what I said was true, I decided not show her them. If I did it would have eased her mind and we could of moved on and had a good holiday but why should I!!! The next day she was moody with me, having quiet conversation with her friends and then ongoing questioning to me which I refused to answer as I already had. Later that night I asked her one more time if she actually thought I did and she said she didnt know. I booked a flight and left that morning earlier than planned leaving her behind.

Am I arsehole for not just proving my innocents and easing her mind? I did nothing wrong but then again I know her friends was putting doubt in her mind.

EDIT: So I’ve had to add this because a lot of people presume I just booked a flight a fucked off. I never we had a discussion about it for a while and come to the mutual decision that maybe it’s best we had some time apart, a hotel room isn’t the best place to be during this type of stuff. Since we was only in Bali for five days that was an easier option.

And he’s absolutely NOT the asshole in this. That anyone disagreed with that notion, and the consensus labeled him such, shows a massive fault in logic as pointed out in the comments, such as this:

Your partner doesn’t trust you.

Showing her the receipts wouldn’t change that. It would just show that she was wrong.

While the OP could prove his innocence this time, what if the next time there is an accusation (and there likely will be given what occurred) and he doesn’t have timestamped receipts? There’s also the question of whether the girlfriend would’ve actually accepted the evidence or otherwise found some way to explain it away.

Because people are strange like that.

In my article on “micro cheating“, I said this: “The mere thought or insinuation that your significant other is cheating can be enough to completely erode your trust in them.” And with the above post, the trust is completely gone. The OP expanded that the friends who were “inside her head” she sees only a couple times a year, yet they held enough sway to push the girlfriend to essentially jettison all trust in him. Because that’s essentially what happened, even if she won’t admit it.

Going back to my article on “micro cheating”, I continued with this:

They, in turn, will lose their trust in you with the mere allegation and their defense against it. Because now your partner will wonder how anything he does will be interpreted by you.

This is why innocence should always be presumed and never have to be proven. This is why it’s fallacious to demand someone prove their innocence rather than you proving their guilt. When it comes to infidelity, it destroys trust.

The only thing the girlfriend had was the word of the two wives. A mere allegation. Nothing else. Despite the two guys who openly admitted to getting a “happy ending” at the massage parlor saying he wasn’t with them. Yet with that mere allegation, the girlfriend demanded the OP prove he wasn’t there.

He has the receipts this time, but next time he may not. He could prove his innocence this time, but next time he might not be able to. Remember, suspects aren’t arrested and convicted for lacking an alibi, but on evidence proving they were at the crime scene. In the above situation, the girlfriend didn’t even have that, but did have assertions showing the boyfriend wasn’t at the massage parlor and had the boyfriend’s alibi.

Yet on the mere assertion he might have been there from two people who definitely weren’t there, she accused him of cheating.

Trying to prove one’s innocence becomes tiring very quickly. I have personal experience on that. Especially since the tendency in the face of being proved wrong is to double down, not admit fault. In other words, when presented with the receipts, what can be expected is the girlfriend to somehow manufacture a way for her allegation to still be true despite the evidence to the contrary.

That is why I’ve said numerous times the mere allegation of cheating is enough to destroy a relationship. It becomes a continual battle wherein the boyfriend will now need to always prove he isn’t cheating, and the girlfriend will always wonder whether he is.

My advice to both would be to break up.

Japan isn’t an argument for gun control

Article: How Japan Has Almost Eradicated Gun Crime

Whenever someone mentions Japan in the context of gun control, there’s always a quick test I do on an article to determine whether it’s going to make a viable argument. And it’s quite simple: look for “General Order”. If that phrase isn’t in the article, the author is being disingenuous.

“General Order” refers to General Order No. 1, the first order given by Gen. Douglas MacArthur following the Japanese surrender. With regard to gun control, this paragraph is of note from Article I:

The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters further orders its Commanders in Japan and abroad to disarm completely all forces of Japan or under Japanese control wherever they may be situated, and to deliver intact and in safe and good condition all weapons and equipment at such times and at such places as may be prescribed by the Allied Commanders indicated above.

In other words, the Allies ordered the Japanese disarmed. Since the whole idea of a surrender is to, also, make sure your enemy can’t come back at you. We also occupied Japan for about 7 years following the surrender to ensure compliance with all Allied orders. And we were using them as a military staging ground for the Korean War during the latter years of that occupation, but I digress.

Along with the complete disarmament of the Japanese (with exception to the police forces), the Allies also rewrote Japan’s constitution. If you look at the Constitution of Japan from that era, you’ll notice one thing missing: no protection for the right to bear arms.

So with Japan starting with a clean slate and having a new Constitution that doesn’t protect the right to keep and bear arms, is it no surprise that they don’t have anywhere near the gun problem as the United States or… any other country for that matter? Seems pretty straightforward.

But it also means Japan can’t be used as a model for gun control in the US. Since we are never going to get to complete disarmament here. Nor should we try. Though plenty of people on the left are definitely trying.

Another slight variation

And for accessibility (without the character manipulation):

i am aware ******** one of your passphrases. Lets get directly to point. absolutely no one has paid me to investigate you. You don’t know me and you are most likely wondering why you’re getting this email?

i placed a malware on the xxx vids (porno) website and there’s more, you visited this site to have fun (you know what i mean). When you were viewing videos, your internet browser started out working as a Remote Desktop having a key logger which provided me with accessibility to your display and also web camera. Just after that, my software collected your complete contacts from your Messenger, social networks, and emailaccount. after that I created a double video. First part displays the video you were viewing (you have a fine taste lmao), and next part displays the recording of your web cam, and its you.

You get not one but two options. We will understand these options in aspects:

First alternative is to neglect this email. in this situation, i will send out your actual video clip to just about all of your contacts and thus visualize concerning the humiliation you experience. and definitely if you happen to be in a relationship, exactly how this will affect?

2nd alternative will be to pay me $1979. Let us refer to it as a donation. Subsequently, i most certainly will right away remove your videotape. You can go on your daily routine like this never happened and you will not hear back from me.

You will make the payment by Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search ‘how to buy bitcoin’ in Google search engine).

BTC address:

[QR code that translates to 15HjorJv19mpYKMP7Jjj59wPPPC882FAfF]

Scan the QR code with mobile to get the address.

if you may be making plans for going to the law, very well, this mail can not be traced back to me. i have dealt with my actions. i am just not attempting to charge a fee very much, i simply prefer to be paid. You now have two days in order to make the payment. i have a special pixel within this e-mail, and now i know that you have read this email. if i do not get the BitCoins, i will definitely send out your video to all of your contacts including close relatives, co-workers, and so on. Nevertheless, if i receive the payment, ill destroy the recording immediately. This is a non-negotiable offer therefore do not waste my time and yours by replying to this mail. if you really want proof, reply with Yup! & i will certainly send your video to your 10 friends.

So, yeah.

DotTune for a Sigma lens

Tuning the autofocus is one of the major benefits to owning a Sigma lens. My camera is a D7200, and it allows for AF fine tuning in the body. Calibrating the lens to the camera is important for sharp and accurate auto-focus.

The reason for this is simple: there are two autofocus sensors on your DSLR. One is used by the viewfinder, and the other is your camera’s sensor. (This is where mirrorless cameras have the obvious advantage.) Fine tuning the autofocus on cameras that allow it is about bringing those two sensors as close to parity as possible. If the viewfinder sensor isn’t calibrated to match the camera sensor, you’ll end up with pictures that may look sharp enough, if they look sharp at all, but not as sharp as they could be.

So how do you bring them into parity?

The “DotTune” method I’ve found to be the fastest method for doing this. But in my initial attempt with it, I was having a hell of a time and getting some wild values. Why? In large part because I was actually trying to measure the distance to target using a tape measure to the sensor-plane indicator on the camera body. And, it turns out, the distance scale on the lens isn’t… entirely accurate. (Insert ID4 meme.)

So while DotTune works great, it doesn’t work when you need to rely on a specific focus distance according to the lens. Instead, the method requires some… tuning. Specifically to step 2 of the process: “Establish critical focus in Live View”.

Remember that tuning your autofocus is about bringing your viewfinder’s sensor into parity with the camera’s main sensor. Why this has to happen with each lens is beyond me, and why Sigma and Tamron’s lenses require it at multiple points on the lens is also beyond me, but…. moving on. Live View let’s you determine at what point the camera says you’re in focus for a particular distance. So when establishing critical focus using Live View, you need to check the distance scale on the lens.

Then it’s just a matter of adjusting the distance, closer or farther back, engaging the autofocus each time, until the the distance marker lines up to what you need. In the above picture, I was lining up for 0.7m. As you can see, I’m a little too far back, so I needed to steadily move the camera closer to the target until the autofocus set the lens to about as exactly on 0.7m as I could get.

Note: when you adjust the camera distance, make sure to move the lens focus ring to infinity, and if you’re adjusting for infinity, move it to <1m. This way you’ll know that you’re at the right distance when you engage the autofocus in Live View.

Since this was now “critical focus” for that focus distance, the rest of the DotTune steps followed from here, using the “AF fine tune” to determine the tuning value for this focus distance.

After I confirmed values for the needed focus distances (not really worrying about infinity at this moment), I programmed the lens using the Sigma software with the determined values and delete the “AF fine tune” value saved for this lens.

Then it was a matter of repeating steps 2 to 4 to confirm the programmed values and adjust accordingly, dialing in the values if needed until a half-press of the shutter on step 4 produces an instant, solid dot at each focus distance.

One thing to note, obviously, is that Sigma’s numbers for tuning and Nikon/Canon’s numbers aren’t equivalent, so the numbers from the camera should only be used as a starting point for dialing in further. But it should get you in the ballpark. In my instance, the numbers for 0.4m and 0.7m were close enough that the half-press gave an instant, solid dot confirming the adjustment. Doesn’t mean that’s the optimal setting, and I could dial it in further if I really wanted. However the 1.5m number I initially set (+15) was too high according to the viewfinder sensor, so I pulled it down to the number you see above and that worked.

Taking some test shots afterward worked great as well, and that’s ultimately what matters.

Can’t wait to try this on my 150mm-600mm!!! (Yes, that’s sarcasm…)

Worthless endeavors

Recently I received the below from a guy named “Bryan”. I’m willing to bet he won’t see this, since I highly doubt he’s actually seen this site, or looked up statistics for it in any venue, or he would’ve known the fruitlessness of his request before even making it.

Hi,

I am writing to you as we are trying to build up our connection and network with other top websites in the industry like yours.

We would like to pay for a link placement on one of your existing pages.

It would be a great help to be a part of your site! If you are interested it would be great to hear from you with a thought on price.

I can arrange payment to you ASAP.

Hope to hear from you.

Definitely sounds like a form letter. I feel like sending a snarky response asking for $10,000 or some silly number that’ll easily get him questioning whether I’m serious, but I’ll just ignore this one again like most of the rest. He’ll probably send a follow-up in a few days asking if I’ve seen his e-mail, in which case I may send a snarky response back. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve told off someone whose come knocking like this.

As I’ve said several times, there is no point in anyone asking me for any kind of advertising or paid content. This blog on average gets about 100 hits per day and has never gotten more than a thousand hits in a day across the entire 10+ years it’s been around. I don’t make any money with this blog – all hosting costs are offset but not overtaken significantly by the Amazon Associates and eBay Partner Network programs (see required disclosure to the right). And I don’t have any intention of making money with this blog either.

Which is why I always find it hilarious when I receive form-letter solicitations for it.

Disputing a debt won’t make it go away

Of all things regarding “debt relief” that piss me off, none do so more than false advertising and demonstrably false claims. I’ve addressed a lot of claims from “debt relief” programs in the past and the false claims they make, such as “you have a right to settle your debt for a fraction of what you owe”.

So let’s tackle this one from “American Debt Enders” and their “Debt Dispute” program. I just saw an ad for it today, but looking at Archive.org, this appears to have been around since October 2014, first called their “Credit Shield Program” (or “Alternative Debt Relief”) before changing the name to “Debt Dispute” in March 2016. The latest incarnation of the program (as of this writing) says this:

This approach to debt relief requires debt collectors to provide proof that a debt is 100% Legal, Collectable, Valid and Verified, or Cease Collection Efforts!

Debt Dispute is not a “Debt Settlement” program, modification, or negotiation.

At least they removed the claim about their program being “FTC Approved” (yes, they actually claimed that), but kept the idea that their program “requires debt collectors to prove that a debt is 100% legal, collectable, valid and verified”.

So you sign up, hand them notices from debt collectors, and they’ll make those debts go away or you owe them nothing? Yeah, no. As we’ll see going through the fanciful claims they make, they are promising a lot that just isn’t possible, making demonstrably false and wildly misleading claims.

* * * * *

So I spent a little time going through their website to figure out how this program works. Up front it’s apparent this program is only for debts that have only just fallen into collections and for which you are still within 30 days from receiving first communication from the collection agency:1

When a consumer enrolls in the Dispute Program, they give authorization for a representative to communicate on their behalf… Because the client has appointed the authorized representative to do so, the representative will put together a dispute under various laws that pertain to the collection of debt. The authorized representative will serve it as a notice on the debt collector within the 30 day dispute time frame as stipulated in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

So… basically they’re just sending a letter to the creditor within the 30-day time frame. Okay… So if you’re outside the 30-day statutory time frame, I guess you’re out of luck with this program. But do you really need to hire a firm like this to dispute your debts with your creditors? No. It just takes understanding your rights plus a little initiative, and keeping your expectations in check.

The dispute is witnessed by a notary and sent to the debt collector registered U.S. Mail return receipt requested, also done by a notary, to ensure proper record of the dispute by a state official. This process is known as a notary presentment. The entire process takes between 18 and 24 months to complete. The cost is about half of the cost of any debt settlement program.

Notaries aren’t state officials, for one. And notary presentment is unnecessary here. It is added expense with zero additional benefit. USPS Certified Mail® with Return Receipt is what’s generally recommended and all you need. In other words, you can easily do on your own what they’re going through a notary to do.

And just given that they say this program is available only for those still within the 30-day statutory time period, has anyone actually taken advantage of this program? I’m very much doubting that.

* * * * *

American Debt Enders explains their dispute program through a two-part article series. Before going into those articles, there’s something I want to point out. The two articles were written in May 2016. About 18 months after they first started offering their “Debt Dispute” program. Keep that in mind given the wild claims they make in those articles.

The first of the two parts doesn’t really provide any elaboration on the program, though at the end they do say this:

The following information must appear on all notices for collection sent to a consumer. “…unless you dispute this debt within 30 days of receipt of this letter, we’ll assume the debt is valid.” Please notice the word Assume. If all debts were valid without assumption than their [sic] would be no need for any laws governing the rules for dispute.

Federal law is what allows them to assume the debt is valid if you don’t dispute it within the 30-day statutory period.2 Federal law also provides that the failure to dispute the debt cannot be construed as an admission of liability.3

This implies a burden of proof and who has it. If you dispute the debt within the 30-day period, Federal law puts the onus on the debt collector to demonstrate the debt is valid and the amount claimed is correct, while also declaring they must cease all collection activities while attempting to validate the debt. After that 30-day statutory period, the burden of proof falls to the debtor to demonstrate that the debt is not valid (paid off, forgiven, wrong person, etc.) or the amount claimed to be owed is not correct. But the debt collector no longer has a statutory obligation to stop collection activities.

This is why it’s important to get a debt dispute to the debt collector within the statutory time period. It puts the burden of proof on the debt collector, and keeps your options open for further disputing the debt even after they’ve returned validation.

Moving on.

Can I get harassing creditor phone calls to stop. The answer is yes. Again, a well crafted dispute program will have this aspect as part of the program. However, we can tell little Johny to play nice in the sandbox and even punish him if he does not, but he still may not listen. Some people actually benefit in cash and large sums of it, if the creditor continues to call after you have followed the law and told them to stop. Again, a well crafted dispute program will have this as part of its program.

It’s actually a simple written letter you need to get them to stop calling you. You don’t need a “well crafted debt dispute program” to invoke that. Indeed my letter template includes it. Now while it’s possible they’ll ignore your written request, they open themselves up to liability doing that, under both Federal and State law. And debt collectors have time and again been successfully held liable through the Court.

Bear in mind that such liability does not erase the debt they’re trying to collect.

What happens if the debt collector simply says go jump in a lake, and ignores your requests for verification? This is an excellent question and one which is often asked. If the creditor does not respond, they have in fact violated your rights and invalidated the debt themselves. This is a home run for you.

If the debt collector does not respond to validation, they have not violated your rights in the least unless they attempt to continue collection while there is an unresolved debt dispute in play.

It’ll also be rare that a debt collector will not return validation. Bear in mind as well that there is no statutory time limit to how long they have to return validation. So they haven’t “invalidated the debt themselves”. The law only requires they cease collection activities while the dispute has yet to be resolved.

And it is possible the validation request will cause a debt collector to not bother. It’s most likely to happen with debt accounts that have been passed between several debt buyers, since that increases the likelihood even the original creditor no longer has record of it. It actually happened with one account I had a long while ago. Where instead of validating the debt, the debt buyer sold it off to someone else – yes, they can do that under the law.

And it hopped between a couple debt buyers, each one not returning validation when I disputed, before one of the buyers actually bought back the account and initiated communication on it as if they had never seen it before. So I had to remind them in writing that I’d already disputed the debt. Never heard from them again. And I don’t believe the account went anywhere after that either as I don’t recall ever receiving any communication from them or anyone else about it.

But if you’re talking about a debt that has newly fallen into collections, expect them to return validation.

What happens if the debt collector provides proof of the debt, and their right to collect it? While this is a rare occurrence, you are not charged any fee for the work done on your behalf for that debt, and your assigned attorney will come to a settlement on that debt.

Rare, my ass. It’s happened nearly every time I’ve exercised validation.

Do not delude your readers and prospects into thinking that sending a §1692g validation request will almost always result in never hearing from the debt collector again. To say such is absolute bullshit and may qualify as fraud given the services you offer, even despite your “100% guarantee”.

What Happens If I get sued? Sometimes debt collectors do not respond and they may even be as bold as to file a lawsuit against you. Because this action and many other actions against you are violations of federal law, we have an organization that will assist you in holding the debt collector responsible which usually results in the suit being dropped and the alleged debt forgiven. The aforementioned process is done outside of court through notification and negotiation.

The lawsuit or any other collection activity is a violation of Federal law only if it interferes with a debtor’s statutory right to debt validation. But once they file a lawsuit and the debtor is served with the summons and complaint, everything to dispose of that lawsuit must occur through the Court, contrary to your assertions.

There are a few details here that many don’t realize. First the lawsuit to enforce the debt will be filed with your creditor as the plaintiff, not the debt collector – e.g. Capitol One Bank v. Kenneth Ballard4. This means if you believe the debt collector violated your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, you must file that lawsuit separately naming the debt collector specifically as the defendant. Your answer to the lawsuit cannot allege Federal or State law violations by the debt collector since the debt collector is not the plaintiff.

Many are quick to dismiss, or flat out ignore, that the debt collector and the creditor they represent also have rights under the law, including the right to the Court to enforce the debt. And FDCPA violations by a debt collector do not bar a lawsuit by or on behalf of the creditor to enforce the debt. Too many think otherwise. And too many articles say otherwise, in one way or another, with it all generally boiling down to FDCPA violations voiding debts. One article I encountered even said that a “small clerical error is enough to get your debt completely erased.” No it isn’t.

Now is it possible to get a judgment against a debt collector that surpasses the amount attempting to be collected? Yes. But don’t bank on it. It typically requires some rather egregious conduct.

On top of any actual damages (demonstrable losses such as lost wages, reimbursements for injuries such as “psychological distress”, etc.)5, statutory damages are capped at $1,0006, depending on some details about the violation(s) in question7. You’re not getting anything at all if the alleged violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error8 regardless of any losses or injuries sustained, or was conduct performed in good faith based on any advisory opinion or publication by the CFPB9. And even if there is a pattern of misconduct for which a United States District Court awards damages, those damages are unlikely to be enough to overtake the debt, and your lawyer is more likely to win out on it than you, since plaintiffs aren’t supposed to profit through a lawsuit.

So this means if a debt collector does turn around and sue you rather than responding to the dispute, you’re entitled to reimbursement of all losses associated with that, which does not include the amount the debt collector alleged is owed, which can get rather costly for them. But that doesn’t stop the lawsuit from continuing. And, again, you’re entitled to nothing if the debt collector can show their actions were the result of a bona fide error.

And if the debtor has someone representing them to the debt collectors, violations of the FDCPA actionable through the Court are unlikely to occur since they shouldn’t be talking to the debtor directly. That is, unless whomever is representing the debtor tries to stonewall discussions, in which case the debt collector has every right under the law to seek them out.10

As such, I very highly doubt “the suit being dropped and the alleged debt forgiven” is a common outcome. I’d be surprised, actually, if it’s happened at all.

Bear in mind, too, that the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2017 that the statutory definition of “debt collector” does not apply to debt buyers, and so debt buyers are immune to most (if not all) of the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. And you have one calendar year from the date of the alleged FDCPA violation to file a lawsuit.1112

* * * * *

Time to inject some reality back into this. So what happens when an account falls into collections?

The collection firm will initiate contact with you. They may try calling you first, but you will always receive notice in the mail pursuant to 15 USC § 1692g(a). Once you receive that written notice, you have 30 calendar days to exercise your statutory right of debt validation. Note: 30 calendar days to postmark the dispute letter. This is your chance to dispute the debt either in part or in full. And you should always dispute the entirety of the debt initially. You can always dispute the exact amount further. Send the dispute letter via USPS Certified Mail with a Return Receipt.

After they receive the dispute, they must cease collection efforts until they resolve the dispute by providing documentation that proves the debt is real and the amount claimed (or some portion thereof) is valid. And what they must provide to validate the debt isn’t much and has already been clarified by United States District13 and Circuit14 Courts.

There are three outcomes possible from a validation request:

  1. you never hear from the collector again,
  2. the collector provides documentation showing the entire originally-claimed amount is valid, or
  3. the collector provides documentation showing only part of the originally-claimed amount is valid.

Again, there is no statutory time limit to how long the debt collector has to return validation. And how quickly they return with validation will depend on several factors.

If they come back with (2), then you can negotiate payments on the amount, or decide to try to dispute the amount further, countering with any documentation you have. And, again, contrary to what American Debt Enders falsely asserts, it isn’t “rare” this happens.

But what if they come back with (3)?

Obviously the debt collector may only collect what they’ve validated. But American Debt Enders implies they cannot collect any of it – “provide proof that a debt is 100% Legal, Collectable, Valid and Verified, or Cease Collection Efforts!”. That they must validate the entire originally-claimed amount and cannot collect any lesser portion thereof even if they can show the lesser amount is valid.

And that is not true.

* * * * *

If you fail to dispute the debt within the statutory time frame, the debt collector can take that as reason to believe the entire claimed amount is valid and they have found and contacted the right person. So if you’ve fallen outside the statutory time limit and want to dispute the debt, can you still do so? Absolutely. What you lose, however, is the statutory obligations the debt collector return validation and cease collection activities while validating the debt.

Now if you believe the amount the debt collector claims you owe is higher than the amount you actually owe, then you can certainly try to dispute the amount further by providing documentation to that effect. After all, you should never pay more on a debt than what you actually owe according to the contract.

But if the amount the debt collector original claims isn’t correct, is the collector now barred from collecting any of the amount claimed? Absolutely not. The amount that is demonstrated to be owed is the amount they will attempt to collect.

And that is where American Debt Enders strays into false advertising.

A debt collector is not required to cease collection efforts on the entire debt if they cannot demonstrate the validity of 100% of the amount originally claimed. They must cease collection efforts on what cannot be validated, but can continue collection efforts on the remainder. This is why it’s important to dispute the debt in its entirety up front as noted above. But disputing the debt in its entirety does not mean the debt collector must then validate the entire amount or none of it is in play.

* * * * *

American Debt Enders also seems to gloss over is the fact a debt collector always has the right to take you to Court.

Well they don’t entirely gloss over it. They do get the terms horribly wrong, though: “Provision for an Attorney in your State to answer a subpoena if you are served one from any of your creditors.”

Where they say “subpoena”, they clearly mean a “summons” or “lawsuit”. Now it isn’t uncommon for lawsuits to be improperly served. But contrary to what they claim in another article on their website,

First, the [summons or lawsuit] problem. Not to worry. Did you know that most [summons or lawsuits] can be discharged without you ever going to court! Yes, because most are improperly served it is an easy matter to discharge them. So, you can solve this problem by making a free phone call to a consumer advocate who is knowledgeable in this area.

there is no way to get rid of that without going to Court.

Since, for starters, “going to Court” doesn’t mean just being in front of a judge. There’s a lot more that occurs at Court that doesn’t involve a judge and courtroom. In fact, most of what happens at Court doesn’t involved a judge and courtroom.

Second, you can’t get rid of anything from the Court served to you, whether a subpoena or summons, without you or someone representing you going to the Court to provide some kind of answer to it. When I was demonstrably improperly served in a case of mistaken identity for a foreclosure, an “affidavit of identity” was my “answer” to the summons.

Once your creditor takes you to Court, your options shrink dramatically. The only way you’re getting away from that lawsuit is if you don’t actually owe the alleged debt. You can certainly dispute the validity of the debt, especially if you’ve failed to get them to accept documentation showing you owe only part of what is claimed. But whatever part is shown to be valid and still outstanding is what you’ll ultimately owe, including Court costs and attorneys fees, with a Court judgment backing it up.

* * * * *

So how to wrap this up…

Let me put it this way: anyone who tries to sell you on a program that promises to just magically make your debts go away is lying to you. As such, American Debt Enders is lying to you. That they once claimed their program is “FTC Approved” shows they are not above making fraudulent claims to reel people in.

Their “debt dispute” program won’t do what they claim. That the program is only available to those still within the 30-day statutory time frame dictated by Federal law also makes me wonder if anyone has actually taken advantage of that program. Since by the time most are seeking out debt relief programs, they’re likely well beyond that statutory time period.

So, yeah… If you have actually been through their “debt dispute” program, I’d love to hear from you. But be prepared to provide documentation as I’m not going to accept mere assertion. Since given everything I know about debt collections and the laws governing it, along with my own experience with debt collectors, there is no possible way the claims that American Debt Enders makes can come to fruition.

Going through their “debt dispute” program, or any debt relief program, won’t result in your debts just magically disappearing. And anyone who tries to tell you that theirs will is selling snake oil.

References   [ + ]

1. Credit Restoration and Debt Dispute – American Debt Enders
2. 15 USC § 1692g(a)(3) – “a statement that unless the consumer, within thirty days after receipt of the notice, disputes the validity of the debt, or any portion thereof, the debt will be assumed to be valid by the debt collector;”
3. 15 USC § 1692g(c) – “The failure of a consumer to dispute the validity of a debt under this section may not be construed by any court as an admission of liability by the consumer.”
4. Case No. 09CY-CV13306, Missouri 7th Judicial District (2009). This was when one of my creditors sued me.
5. 15 USC §1692k(a)(1) – “any actual damage sustained by such person as a result of such failure [to comply with the FDCPA]”
6. 15 USC §1692k(a)(2)(A) – “in the case of any action by an individual, such additional damages as the court may allow, but not exceeding $1,000”
7. 15 USC §1692k(b)(1) – “the frequency and persistence of noncompliance by the debt collector, the nature of such noncompliance, and the extent to which such noncompliance was intentional”
8. 15 USC § 1692k(c) – “A debt collector may not be held liable in any action brought under this subchapter if the debt collector shows by a preponderance of evidence that the violation was not intentional and resulted from a bona fide error notwithstanding the maintenance of procedures reasonably adapted to avoid any such error.”
9. 15 USC §1692k(e) – “No provision of this section imposing any liability shall apply to any act done or omitted in good faith in conformity with any advisory opinion of the Bureau, notwithstanding that after such act or omission has occurred, such opinion is amended, rescinded, or determined by judicial or other authority to be invalid for any reason.”
10. 15 USC §1692c(a)(2) – “if the debt collector knows the consumer is represented by an attorney with respect to such debt and has knowledge of, or can readily ascertain, such attorney’s name and address, unless the attorney fails to respond within a reasonable period of time to a communication from the debt collector or unless the attorney consents to direct communication with the consumer;”
11. 15 USC § 1692k(d) – “An action to enforce any liability created by this subchapter may be brought…within one year from the date on which the violation occurs.”
12. “That language [of §1692k(d)] unambiguously sets the date of the violation as the event that starts the one-year limitations period.”, Rotkiske v. Klemm, 589 US ____ (2019)
13. “No provision of the FDCPA has been found which would require a debt collector independently to investigate the merit of the debt, except to obtain verification, or to investigate the accounting principles of the creditor, or to keep detailed files.” —Azar v. Hayter, 874 F.Supp. 1314 at 1317 (N.D. Florida, 1995)
14. “[V]erification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed; the debt collector is not required to keep detailed files of the alleged debt. Consistent with the legislative history, verification is only intended to “eliminate the … problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid.” There is no concomitant obligation to forward copies of bills or other detailed evidence of the debt.” (internal citations removed) —Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F. 3d 394 at 406 (4th Cir., 1999)

Same scam, different day

This one came to me with the subject line of a password obtained from a data breach.

And written out so this can be indexed by search engines, without all the changed text:

FINAL WARNING

Do you really think it was some kind of joke or that you can ignore me?

I can see what you are doing.

Stop shopping and fucking around, your time is almost over. Yea, I know what you were doing past couple of days. I have been observing you.

Btw. nice car you have got there.. I wonder how it will look with pics of your dick and face…

Because you think you are smarter and can disregard me, I am posting the videos I recorded with you masturbating to the porn right now. I will upload the videos I acquired along with some of your details to the online forum. I amsure they will love to see you in action, and you will soon discover what is going to happen to you.

If you do not fund this bitcoin address with $1500 within the next 2 days, I will contact your relatives and everybody on your contact lists and show them your recordings.

====================================

Send 0.2 bitcoin (i.e. approx $1500)

to this Bitcoin address:

[QR code – Translates to: 1JQymC63oneHdXbKtdcDqgS1Jjm2eTZoxy]

Scan the QR code with mobile to get the address.

====================================

There are many places you can buy bitcoin like Bitstamp, Coinbase, Krakenetc. Register, validate your account.

If you want to save yourself – better act fast, because right now you are fucked. We will not leave you alone, and there are many people on the groups that will make your life really bad.

So same scam, different day.

Contributed content

There are two things about this site I’d hope were obvious to anyone who’s actually looked at it: 1. It’s a personal blog that 2. is pretty heavy with political and opinion content. Which means that I can readily tell in most situations that someone sending me a solicitation has not actually looked at my site, despite always claiming to have done so.

So being that this is, again, a personal blog where yours truly posts opinions (and personal projects), it should be quite obvious that soliciting me to actually write for this suite is fruitless. But I guess something being obvious isn’t always obvious enough. Such as with Rebecca Schmidt: (site link not in original e-mail)

Hello Kenneth,

My name is Rebecca and I’m writing because I’d like to contribute something to your site.

I currently write for Her Aspiration, where we put out information to help and give people relationship advice and dating advice.

Based on what I’ve seen of your site, I think it could be valuable to your readers. It would also give you a boost to your audience, since I’m certain my followers would come to your site and start a conversation there. This could work out for both of us and lead to exciting opportunities down the road. I would like to check if you do link placements into existing articles as well? As I am open to get more articles and link placements with you as we go along.

If this sounds appealing to you, I’d love to have a conversation about how we could make it work. Look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Rebecca

“Based on what I’ve seen of your site”? Probably none of it.

Especially since, I’ve already explicitly said I won’t post content contributed from others since it would go against the title and modus operandi of this site, not to mention the domain name. So now I’ll make it explicit again: I will never post content to this site contributed by someone else.

Still trying

This one has an interesting twist:

The entire e-mail is just one large image. And this one plays on the data leaked passwords I’ve seen previously, hence the redaction. But otherwise it’s more or less the same idea behind it.

Now it’s stupid easy to generate text in this fashion, so don’t think this tactic grants the e-mail any level of legitimacy. This isn’t the first such e-mail I’ve encountered. But the mix of letters with accents did make it impossible to OCR. So bravo to the scammers for that. If I feel like it, I may try to type out the thing later.

Makes me wonder how many of these e-mails end up in front of blind individuals, since if any OCR I’ve tried is messing up, any text to speech can’t be having fun with these either.