Tuesday, June 26, 2012

12 Tips to Stop Smoking Cigarettes Today

I quit smoking cigarettes 12 years ago, in the year 2000. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. Here are some thoughts that might help you.

(1) It's not "you" that wants a cigarette. That's the first thing you must understand. It's the nicotine addiction that is bullying you to light up. The real, inner, higher self wants no part of it. Your personality has been hacked, hijacked, usurped by an alien entity called tobacco.

(2) Cigarettes are like a friend you carry in your pocket. At first, you feel a weird loneliness when you drink coffee or finish a meal or read a book or take a walk -- without lighting up a cigarette.

(3) What's addictive is not primarily the substance -- but the thought that says "I must have this substance." Addiction is a mental compulsion constructed of sentences in your head. As long as you believe that the substance, tobacco/nicotine, "controls" or "over-powers" you, you are a passive victim of a delusion.

(4) The craving is entirely reliant on words in the mind, which stem from traces of the substance in your system. Stop thinking those sentences. When the sentence appears in your mind, realize it is generated not by your self but by the nicotine that is in your system. It's the nicotine talking when you hear a sentence in your mind "I need a cigarette right now." Nicotine must be purged, by abstaining, by quitting, in order to eventually silence its voice.

(5) Once you dismiss those addiction sentences, like clicking on the X of a pop-up ad on the web, you can then pave new neuronal pathways in the brain. You must deconstruct the habit patterns, demolish them, dissolve them in the acid of your new hatred for cigarettes and your new alarm at the damage done to your lungs.

(6) Quit buying cigarettes. If you bum a cigarette, bum only brands you hate, like Camel non-filters or roll your own Tops tobacco. If you give in to a craving, punish your craving with the nastiest cigarette possible. Don't smoke your favorite brand, smoke GPCs or some other horrible tasting garbage. Don't smoke the entire thing. Don't carry cigarettes on you. Throw away your ashtrays. Force yourself to be uncomfortable and unsatisfied when you smoke.

(7) After about 3 months of not smoking, you'll probably wonder why you ever started. Your craving will have vanished. The thought of inhaling smoke will sicken you. You will start hating the smell of tobacco smoke. Second hand smoke will nauseate you. You've been set free from the nicotine demon.

(8) It helps to formulate a new compassion for your life and your lungs specifically. Apologize to your lungs for putting hot, toxic smoke into them over and over again. Assure your lungs that you value them and will start treating them with the love and respect that is due them.

(9) If necessary, use the Buddhist monk technique of contemplating the negative: look at photos of nicotine damaged lungs, read about lung cancer patients, etc. It's not morbid, it's transforming and liberating. It's reality. It's pulling your head out of the sand of denial.

(10) Begin to loathe cigarettes instead of craving them. See them not as a thing to puff and get a tiny buzz, but as enemies, killers, life-shorteners, money-wasters, cruel poison sticks that make your breath, clothes, car, and home stink.

(11) Research herbs that are good for lung health. I am taking an Herbal Forumula Lung Tonic tincture by Herbs Etc. to undo the damage done to my lungs. The herbs are mullein, horehound, grindelia, echinacia angustifolia root, pleurisy root, passionflower, osha, lobelia, yerba santa. Alvita herbal teas are also good.

(12) Personally, I would warn you against Big Pharma medicines, like Chantix, which are reported to have serious side-effects like suicidal thoughts, bizarre dreams, heart problems, violent behavior, and depression.

ABC News "Chantix Dangers"

CNN News "Chantix Linked to Suicide"

FDA "Boxed Warnings for Chantix and Zyban"

Pin It

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shoe Spam on Facebook (again)

Shoe spam is being distributed on Facebook again. Delete it when it shows up on your wall.

Spammers are trying to use your FB wall as a free advertising billboard and you don't get a penny of the profits. Plus, they're doing it without your permission. And -- the links under the shoe photos could be going to virus, phishing, and other malicious sites.

What happens is a spammer will upload a photo, typically of cool looking Nike tennis shoes to their own wall.

They tag the photo with names of people on Facebook that they target as spam victims. This makes the shoe spam photo appear on your FB wall, without your permission or awareness, if you have your settings configured that anybody can post things to your wall (not a good idea). It's a notorious and effective way to spam a lot of Facebook users without much effort.

What makes this malevolent tactic even worse is when unsuspecting friends start posting comments like "Cool sneakers" or "I want a pair" and so forth. This comment activity helps the spam post seem legitimate and it lures your other friends into the spam trap.

God help you if a lot of your family and friends on Facebook get sucked into this, click on the links, go to a phishing site, and end up with their FB accounts hacked or become the victims of identity theft. They will blame it on you.

If you meet it, delete it.

Pin It

Friday, June 15, 2012

What Do Social Media Consultants Actually Do?

A long time friend of mine, who interacts with me on GooglePlus, is a video rant blogger, but is extremely hostile to Social Media, due to all the quacks and deceptive con artists in this field.

Just go to Barnes and Noble and grab a stack of 20 books on social media. Sit down and try to flip through them. They are ALL saying the SAME fluffy garbage. It's all "conversation" and "engagement" and "interactions with customers" -- but in reality they don't give a fig about customers as human beings.

All the social media pundit books repeat the same stupid platitudes without a trace of genuine altruism. They at bottom see social networks as just another ad channel, where you grind out inspirational quotes and sales hype to passive victims.

Automate, curate, inundate, dominate = the chant of the fake social media marketing pundit.

His rage against social media charlatans is valid and I applaud it. But there are legitimate consultants who understand how business can have an effective presence on social networks and achieve their goals.

He asked:


WTF do you Social Media types actually do? Setting up a FB page, or managing a twitter account? Really? I could train a chimp to do that. A high schooler can do that. What do you actually do? Speaking? About what? WTF could you possibly be speaking about? I swear I don't get it.


I speak on the behalf of clients, after doing in-depth research on their business, market and competition. I build their fan base manually and engage with their customers by sharing expertise, links, and genuine concern for their problems.

For my practice, social media marketing is the opposite traditional one-way broadcasting, where customers sit as passive victims of sales message. Social media is where people advise each other and bypass advertising and corporate propaganda. 

Social media marketing is more about customer relations and non-commercial altruism. It is a more indirect, or "Zen" way to sell products, by not selling products -- by convincing people that a business genuinely cares about customers, engaging in conversations about their problems.

 People prefer to do business with companies they know, like and trust. I use social media participation to achieve these goals: based on the core values of social media -- sharing and caring.

What do I speak about?

I speak about the the problems people have solving problems in the field of my clients.

If I manage social media for an organic grocery, I speak about health benefits of brown rice, etc. I tie in with hot news items related to their industry. I managed social media for a law firm and spoke about Casey Anthony and Charlie Sheen, for example.

Most CEOs, owners and managers hate to "get dirty" and deal directly with customers. They tend to be unsociable, isolated, removed from the sales process, and "too busy" to interact with anybody on social media or blogs.

However, if they have good products that help people, I will be a warm, human, caring representative and connect with people, on the client's behalf, so when customers and fans of the business need the product, my client will be Top of Mind Choice.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Black Hat SEO vs Web Users

Tonight on GooglePlus, I had an argument with an SEO (search engine optimization) professional. You should see the sparks flying on this debate. SEO is supposed to be about using legitimate methods to drive traffic to a website. Some practitioners don't see it that way.

Some SEO "pros" are deceptive and use temporarily effective but unethical gimmicks to drive traffic to websites that do NOT deserve traffic.

Google is clamping down on these "black hat" SEO companies, so that search engine results pages are more beneficial to customers and researchers. Black hat techniques are increasingly identified and the websites that use them get demoted or banned from SERPs by Google and other SEs.

The whole purpose of search is to find webpages that deserve to be high ranking based on intrinsic value to users, i.e. high quality, original, relevant content. The SEO guy to whom I stated these basic principles is LOLing me and asking what planet I live on. This pretty much identifies him as a "black hat" SEO affiliate link farm spammer operative.

He said he hoped I was "joking" about what I think about SEO.

Joking? What other kind of search ideal is there?

This is what the web is all about, isn't it? Do you want fly-by-night, spammy, malicious, or criminal websites appearing at the top of search results pages? Or do you prefer that reputable, ethical, benevolent business with a proven track record for quality products and customer service be dominant?

Gaming the system is not in anybody's benefit, right? When you search for a solution to a problem, a product you desperately need, do you want freaking Manta listings with no information about the products a company offers? or page after page of unhelpful directory listings? or link farms full of ads? or article submission spam?

SEO is an interesting topic, but there are many ways to shoot yourself in the foot and do it in a manner that is only temporarily seemingly effective. There are many con artists in this field that is so complex and esoteric to most business people.

Web design, SEO, social media marketing, and website content development can be full of dangers if you don't know much about these fields.

If you ever need some advice, contact me.

steven [dot] streight [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Social Engineering Tricks to Hijack Your Account

Social engineering is the malicious art of using normal behavior patterns against a person, to trick them into clicking on a link or other damaging act. These patterns are known as cognitive bias, human bugs, what normally people normally do without much thought.

One of the most famous examples of social engineering was the "I love you" computer worm contained in email attachments in May 2000. An email with subject line "I LOVE YOU" had an attachment titled "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.text".

The email sender address was spoofed to appear to be sent by an acquaintance, but when people opened the attachment, a worm invaded their network and computers, replacing files with the virus file.

Here's the psychological attack vector: Everybody wants to be loved. Love seems so innocent and pure. People like love letters. Why not open this one and start feeling loved? Ah.....OOOPS.

Social engineering attacks often have a form, a common psychology, that signals something's wrong to the savvy computer user.

That form is along the lines of "Look who's been viewing your Facebook profile" or "OMG this is sickening, check out this weird video" or "LOL This photo of you is really funny" -- then there is a link for the unwary to click.

Social engineering attacks generally focus on something that is claimed to be insulting to you, or somehow refers to your sense of narcissism, security, or dignity.

Today I saw I had a Direct Message (DM) on Twitter from a former friend, Jeff, who I no longer feel friendly toward. So the fact that "he" sent me a DM was suspicious. The message sounded like the typical social engineering phrase: "Hey this user is saying very bad rumors about you...[URL shortener link]."

Notice the bad sentence construction. Note also how it's perfectly normal to feel resentment or concern about somebody spreading false stories, or "rumors", about yourself. This is the "cognitive bias" or "normal behavior pattern" that is being exploited.

Whoever is behind this attack is hoping I'll be angry and click on the link to see what's being said about me. The attacker has hijacked Jeff's Twitter account and is sending this message out to all his followers.

Instead of clicking on the link contained in the message, I just Googled the phrase "Hey this user is saying very bad rumors about you" and discovered that this is indeed a phishing exploit that takes you to a page that asks you to type in your Twitter password and user name, so they can hijack (hack) your account.

See Techie Buzz on "Hey User is Saying Very Bad Rumors About You".

If you want to be a safe and smart web user, take a few moments to learn about Social Engineering, the easy way for bad people to attack innocent victims online.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Arts Partners of Central Illinois Oct. 2012 Promotion

Our marketing campaign for "All About the Arts: The Arts Are Everywhere", spearheaded by Suzette Boulais and Arts Partners of Central Illinois, has reached all the way to the heights of the nation's leadership.

Soon we will reveal the honorable dignitaries involved -- but for now, consider joining us if you're a business that appreciates and supports The Arts in your home town.

CONTACT ME NOW -- if you want to participate in the month long marketing campaign, coinciding with the Grand Opening of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, all through October 2012.

This is a HUGE opportunity for YOUR business to be associated with elite innovators and leaders in the arts and society. The advertising exposure for YOUR company will be of super high prestige and visibility.

This campaign and associated events will be what everybody's talking about in October. Don't miss this opportunity. ACT IMMEDIATELY. Slots are filling up fast. We have room for just a few more businesses, then the door will be shut.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Customer Service Sucks

Overheard at Walmart last night. Guy at checkout counter: "You've got to be kidding. Just go open another cash register and get the change." Clerk: "Sorry but I can't do that." Guy: "Well, you better call a manager over here. There's no way I'm taking $19 of change in coins!!!!"

I keep telling you all: Customer Service is the Achilles Heel of American Business.

Quit whining about declining sales, fierce competition, and customer disloyalty. Beef up your in-store service, customer relations, and social media interactions.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Infographics Suck

Truth about Infographics

Infographics suck. That's right. They annoy me.

They rarely cite sources for their data, they are often hard to read, and they use a lot of fancy formatting to visualize data that is not that big of deal. Infographics are like PowerPoint and PDFs. 

Use them sparingly, not as a crutch for information that is boring or presented poorly -- and cannot be saved by elaborate design flourishes.

I don't understand why people keep linking to infographics images. I find the visual renderings of information to be cheesey and not very helpful. I prefer the plain text, a simple list of points or a concise statement with links to further research.

Charts and graphs can assist in comprehension of things like growth and change, but I find most infographics to be boring, with the text explanations in tiny type.  A lot of fancy and sometimes distracting formatting -- for a little bit of data.

BuzzFeed "Awesome Truth about Infographics"

ReadWriteWeb "6 Reasons Why Infographics Don't Cut It"