All These Hacks, But Why Should I Care?

In 2002, I had my first exposure to computers with the most basic computer class called “Computers,” where we played games on Mavis Beacon to improve our typing. For many, that would be our last formal education in the world of computing. But look around, in 2016, 84 percent of all stock trades are by high frequency computers, and 86 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 carry around smartphones, the examples of technology and computing integration are nearly endless. Unfortunately, wherever there is money, you will also find those who want to exploit and take advantage of the system. No one ever got robbed at an ATM until ATMs existed and there were no hackers until the Internet and computers existed.

People have always been terrified of being robbed, but being hacked? Many people and businesses still regard hackers as nerds who live in their mother’s basement. But again, it’s 2016, and times have changed, and bank robbers may make the local news, but hackers are making the national news, just look at the recent headlines. But let’s say you aren’t a presidential candidate or never had a MySpace account, you have probably been a victim, but just didn’t pay attention to it. In February 2015, Anthem, the second-largest health insurer in the United States, was hacked, potentially exposing approximately 80 million members’ names, dates of birth, social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. According to Anthem’s website, the perpetrator’s identity is still undiscovered. In 2014, hackers obtained the names, passwords, email address, physical addresses, and other information from “a large amount” of eBay’s 148 million active members. Need more examples, in the past 4 years, Target, T-Mobile, ScottTrade, JP Morgan Chase, Home Depot, AOL, Adobe, Tumblr, Evernote, Linkedin, and Snapchat have all been hacked, and the list goes on and on.  You can see the biggest data breaches here represented by visually pleasing bubbles.

But, those are all big companies, and sure, though they are losing your information, that’s on them, and hacking won’t impact me in my day to day life, right? Wrong. The reality is that anything that is connected to the Internet is vulnerable, that means your smartphone, your smart TV, and even your car.  In July 2015, a Wired editor volunteered to be the victim of a car-hack. As he drove a Jeep Cherokee down the highway, two programmers took full control of every computerized function within the vehicle, the entertainment system, the dashboard, the steering, the brakes, and the transmission. Chrysler, with the help of the two programmers, has since released a patch to correct the exploit, but other exploits are surely coming.

Unfortunately, short of going off the grid, it isn’t possible to avoid being a victim in the current computerized world. However, the best defense for both businesses and individuals alike is to be proactive. Stop ignoring those updates on your computer (or notices from your car company to return to the dealership to have a patch installed), be skeptical about the email you receive, and change your passwords. In fact, read this guide from Carnegie Mellon about choosing good passwords. For businesses, be smart about what you store electronically and give very real thought to how that information is stored and protected.

And . . . Boom Goes the Toilet

When you are most vulnerable is when you need to feel the most safe. The bathroom is no exception, I assume, it’s the reason that the doors lock. A person will spend, on average, 14 days a year in the bathroom, according to this ABC News article from 2001. (Seems a little high, but whatever). So imagine the trauma Angela Wright felt when the toilet in her home, on which she was sitting, exploded in November of 2014. Apparently, the sewer lines in her neighborhood were being cleaned with high pressure hoses when the explosion occurred. Not only was Ms. Wright sent flying into the air, covered in whatever, but she has an estimated $14,000 in damage to her bathroom, which apparently hasn’t been repaired. Ms. Wright has since filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore mayor, two city council members, and two city contractors.

I can only imagine that whenever she sits on a toilet, probably for the rest of her life, she has to wonder if it will explode when she flushes. I will say that from the photograph, it does not appear that anyone was sitting on the toilet or that she would have been violently ejected since the mess doesn’t seem to hit the toilet seat lid, but it’s disgusting regardless.

Hoverboards Catching Fire

Hoverboards are a completely needless product. The only cool thing that anyone has done on a hoverboard was this Halloween costume.

3P_HS1

Otherwise, the only reason to have a hoverboard is to post photos of your feet on social media while riding it. These arguably less nerdy Segways cost between $150 and $600. Unless you have money to burn, you should not buy this product. However, if you do feel particularly opulent, it may be safer to literally set your legal tender aflame and not buy the board. According to various sources, the hoverboards are catching fire, literally. It is unclear as to the cause of the fires, but there are reports of flames occurring while the hoverboards are charging. Other sources report hoverboards catching fire while being ridden. Timothy Cade reported that he had ridden the board less than 100 feet before the hoverboard locked and caught fire. Cade doused the board with water, but it reignited. Interestingly, Cade requested a refund from the company, Greegear, and he had already ordered a replacement from a different company. We applaud Cade’s optimism.

However, we here at Abnormal Use caution consumers to be wary of the hoverboards. Let’s just them them to the Back To The Future movies, shall we?

Disappointing Settlement Reached By Subway

Avid Readers, as we are sure you recall, we first reported on the class action lawsuit against Subway back in 2013. Basically, the lawsuit alleged that Plaintiffs’ “12 inch” sandwiches from Subway were shorter than 12 inches, and that’s evil.  Two and a half years later, the 11 named Plaintiffs, represented by a collective 10 law firms, have settled with Doctor’s Associates, Inc., the franchisor of Subway Sandwich Shops. The fact that the franchisor’s name is Doctor’s Associates, Inc. is easily the most surprising thing in this lawsuit, by the way.

As a potential member of the class (someone who purchased a 6 or 12 inch sandwich from Subway between Jan. 1, 2003 and Oct. 2, 2015), we could not wait to find out what we were owed for this injustice. We hoped it would be like when Red Bull had to admit that it did not actually give you wings and had to send all of the class members who opted in free Red Bull. We actually did opt in, but we still haven’t received our Red Bull, but that’s not the point. With this Subway lawsuit, we hoped that we would all receive free subs at a minimum.

DRUMROLL………..

And a class member, we are set to receive . . . nothing. Apparently, Doctor’s Associates will make changes to its practices to ensure that the length of its sandwiches is as advertised. So, unless you are one of the named Plaintiffs or one of the 11 firms representing them, you are getting nothing. The named Plaintiffs will receive no more than $1,000 each.

Wait, we almost forgot, someone is getting paid, just not you or me. The 11 law firms will be reimbursed their attorneys’ fees, costs, expenses, and a class representative service award (which we can only hope is a button for their lapels) not to exceed $525,000.

Welcome to the Space . . . Ham.

Close enough. Number 23, Michael Jordan, best known for defeating The Nerdlucks in the 1996 American Classic Space Jam. Jordan is also known to some for being one of the best basketball players ever, for scoring 38 against the Utah Jazz with the flu, for being the first athlete billionaire, or for owning the Charlotte Hornets. Between 2009 and 2010, MJ made approximately $55 million dollars from various endorsements, including Gatorade, Nike, and Hanes. However, they were not the only ones using his image. Dominick’s supermarket, a Chicago-based supermarket chain that closed in 2013, also was using MJ’s name and number to sell steaks with this ad, and now MJ wants his cut.  According to the Chicago Tribune, MJ has already won the lawsuit against the now defunct Dominick’s, and he seeks $10 million dollars in damages.  We shall see how it turns out, but we here at Abnormal Use would be flattered if a steakhouse or steak sales person wanted to use our likeness.

CSI: Chicken Tenders

Earlier, when we covered the KFC deep fried rat situation, we warned you to be skeptical, and at least for now, we were right. Apparently, Mr. Dixon, who made the allegations regarding the rat-looking chicken tender, did, in fact, retain a lawyer. That lawyer turned over the disgusting piece of chicken to KFC for an independent lab analysis, which determined that the breaded mystery meat was, in fact, chicken. Apparently, KFC now wants an apology.

So who won? Mr. Dixon was ultimately wrong, so we suppose that KFC technically won, but that is one ugly piece of chicken. We would think that KFC would take this time to apologize for serving chicken that so resembled a rat that an independent lab had to verify that it was, in fact, chicken.  If you want to find out more about these issues and KFC, you can click here, here, here, or here.

KFC May Face Potential Lawsuit For Allegedly Selling Man A Fried Rat

If you have been paying attention to social media of late, you have no doubt heard about Devorise Dixon and his KFC rat.  If you are slightly braver, then you have seen the pictures, which can be found here.  And if you don’t have short term memory loss, then you are skeptical.

Recently, Mr. Dixon took to social media, posting the image of the rat and claiming, “I went to KFC bought a 3-piece chicken tender! As I bit into a piece of it I noticed that it was very hard/tough and rubbery! Which sent this deep chill throughout my body. I looked down at it and saw that it was a cooked rat!!! Made me feel sick! Never new chicken was shaped like rat’s and had tails! Bought this from KFC on Wilmington and 120th in the shopping center! WATCH WHAT YOU EAT PEOPLE ARE SICK OUT THERE!” [His typos, not ours.]

As all viral horror stories go, the story exploded.  According to Mr. Dixon, he received a fried rat in his chicken fingers order from a KFC in Watts, California.  Additionally, Mr. Dixon has claimed that KFC apologized to him and that the manager admitted he was served a rat.  Mr. Dixon believes “IT’S TIME FOR A LAWYER!!!”  He also encourages people to “BESAFE DON’T EAT FAST FOOD !!!” KFC took to Facebook and stated that it was investigating the matter and at this time had no evidence to support Mr. Dixon’s claim.  Additionally, KFC claims it is aggressively trying to reach Mr. Dixon.

Immediately, skeptics took to debunking Mr. Dixon’s claim, including this image, the poster of whic believes that the whole thing is bogus.  Regardless of whether or not his claims are bogus, Mr. Dixon has catapulted into Internet fame.  We will always remember Anna Ayala, who you will remember more famously for alleging that she found a severed finger in her Wendy’s chili. While we wait for this story to develop, check out this list of the 10 fast food lawsuits.

Thoughts On The Lawsuit By Josie Harris Against Floyd Mayweather

Pay-per-view king and boxing champ Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. is certainly a polarizing figure. He is 48-0 in his professional career and largely considered the best pound for pound boxer in the world. He is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and his last two fights shattered previous pay-per-view records. As such, he seemingly has more money than he knows what to do with. He doesn’t wear a pair of boxers or shoes more than once, he color coats his luxury cars to match his mansions, travels with a Duffle bag full of money, and keeps over $123 million in a single bank account (though surely that number has grown considerably after the Pacquiao fight). In 2013, Tim Keown wrote an amazing article for ESPN on Mayweather titled “The Last Great American Prizefighter,” which provides a more exhaustive look at Mayweather’s life. However, Mayweather also has a significant and well-documented history of violence outside of the ring, including a 2010 incident of domestic battery against Josie Harris, his former girlfriend. In 2011, Mayweather pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in order to avoid a felony battery charge and found himself sentenced to 90 days in jail. He was released in August of 2012, and the matter thereupon ended. That is, until April 2015, when during an interview with Katie Couric, he claimed that he never kicked, stomped, or beat Josie Harris, but that he did restrain a woman that was on drugs.

It seems that Ms. Harris does not agree with his characterization of events. According to CNN, on May 5, 2015, Ms. Harris filed a civil suit in California state court against Mayweather claiming defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. In her pleadings, Ms. Harris alleges Mayweather entered her home and began punching and kicking her as she slept on the couch. She also denies that she abused drugs and that it was not his purported attempts to restrain her that caused her injuries but rather the beating he inflicted. Apparently, she seeks $20 million dollars in the lawsuit. At this point, it may just be best for someone with Mayweather’s track record to put his money to good use and pay Ms. Harris.

Mosquito Magnet, A Tale of Secondary Attractants

At first blush, this product already sounds like the worst. Who, besides Dr. Hammond, wants more mosquitoes? However, what the name doesn’t reveal is the product’s benefits in the war against the enemy. According to its website, the Mosquito Magnet battles against these relentless and dangerous pests and functions as a trap that uses carbon dioxide, heat, and moisture and a secondary attractant to lure the bugs to their death. Secondary attractant? That’s vague, right? The website lists three different attractants, Lurex3, R-Octenol, and Octenol, which according to the product details, are all EPA-registered.

However, while the Mosquito Magnet may thwart the backyard pests, its fumes are not for human consumption. Earlier this month, a lawsuit was filed against Woodstream Corp. and Accessories Marketing, who are both allegedly involved in the manufacture of the Mosquito Magnet. According to the lawsuit, in 2012, 46-year-old Mary Jo McCool was found dead in her pool minutes after installing a Mosquito Magnet. The lawsuit alleges that McCool’s death was caused by the fumes of the Mosquito Magnet and further alleges that a police officer who was subsequently investigating the death became light headed and dizzy while kneeling next to the trap. He then began to gasp for air before making it to the interior of the home. According to Theodore Leopold, the Plaintiff’s attorney, McCool was subjected to the fumes, which caused her to fall into the pool and drown.

A quick Internet search did not find any other lawsuits against the company for the product or any CPSC recalls, other than a 2006 leaky hose recall, related to the product. While I have no experience with the Mosquito Magnet, I do celebrate anything that aids in our fight against them. Further, it would seem that such a claim may be difficult to prove as no one actually witnessed McCool immediately before falling into the pool. However, as summer approaches, we remind readers to steer clear of inhaling anything named Lurex3.

Video Games Make Kids Do Bad Things

Like spending thousands of dollars on a parent’s credit card on microtransactions.  The problem becomes is the issue of whether it is a parent’s fault for failing to monitor the child, teaching the child to know better, or setting up parental controls. Or is it the game developer who knows the psychology behind the hook? Or the console manufacturer who links one’s credit card to the user’s account?  Well, we may never find out, but it is the subject of Jeremy Hillman’s social media post.

Hillman’s son played Fifa 15,  a soccer game made by EA Sports which sold 2.66 million copies in 2014 in the UK alone (according to the ERA). The game features microtransactions. While controversial and typically frowned upon, in-app and in-game purchases are wildly successful.  It’s the reason you saw three “free-to-play” iPhone app commercial during this year’s Super Bowl.  There are many clever ways that game developers use in-game purchases, be it energy in Candy Crush or cooldown timers in Clash of ClansFifa 15 allows players to use actual money or in-game money to purchase groups of players, like virtual packs of baseball cards, but that once purchased, the player can use during game play.

According to Hillman’s post, his son attempted to purchase several “player packs” in Fifa 15 costing around $100 but allegedly had not received them.  After talking with Microsoft about a handful of $100 purchases, Hillman was asked to confirm numerous other  charges to the tune of $4,500.  Hillman admits that “[his son] became addicted to the game, spending $100 was as easy as clicking a button, there were no barriers, and it didn’t feel like real money even though it had a dollar sign on the screen.” Further, Hillman says he has taken responsibility for his part, which as I see it includes not understanding what his child was playing, not catching months worth of other charges, and not using the parental controls, among other parenting missteps.

However, Hillman wants Microsoft to be held accountable for failing to protect him from his son.  “If there’s a lawyer out there that wants to start a class-action against Microsoft and force them into compensation and adopting a better policy, I’ll happily sign up.” Hillman’s best idea is instituting a system like iTunes, where the user must enter a password every time he or she makes a purchase.  Alternatively, Hillman suggests that the console maker (not game developer or credit card company) should flag an account for suspicious behavior and require some confirmation, as “[b]anks and credit card companies regularly do this.”  I would think that people who have suffered overdraft fees as a result of boilerplate click-wrap may disagree, but I digress.

I regret that microtransactions exist and agree with many of the articles (just Google microtransactions ruining games) that contend they robbing games of the fun they initially offered.  However, they generate immense sums of money, and thus, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It will be interesting to see how parents, like Hillman, and companies, like Microsoft, will adapt to the inevitable future.