April 8, 2014

  • Chili’s Backs out of Autism Event

    This story has hit the Autism community like wildfire over the past couple of days.

    The restaurant chain had planned on donating a portion of its sales on Monday to the National Autism Association.

    However, it seems there was a lot of backlash from people who do not agree with the National Autism Associations opinion regarding vaccinations and Autism.   So, what does Chili’s do?  They back out of supporting the organization altogether.

    And many wonder why I stay clear of the topic of vaccinations, here’s a prime example:

    Most companies will steer clear of controversial topics as they do not want to alienate a segment of their customer base.

    While I neither agree nor disagree with Chili’s decision, or even that of the National Autism Associations perspective regarding vaccines, this situation highlights a major hurdle within the Autism community that needs to be addressed…

    … the fact that we should all work together and find our common issues to focus on.

    In regards to vaccinations and autism, all I can say is that we just don’t know enough.    For every study that proves there is a connection, there’s another study that disproves it.   I get this from both sides of this highly debated subject, therefore, I can’t formulate a qualified opinion.

    What I do know is that the National Autism Association has been serving the needs of the community in many ways, just like many other Autism organizations.

    What I do know is that they have been working hard on a major campain to address elopement, by providing easy tools that parents can use to help people with identification and locating their child who may have a tendency to run away.  Much of the fundraising campaign with Chili’s, to my understanding, was to help fund this campaign.

    By people ‘boycotting’ chili’s, and this backlash that is being reported – all this did was two things:

    - one – keep the debate going regarding vaccines and autism (which really is just putting the focus on vaccines and not autism)

    and

    -two- show a significant lack of unifying support from the autism community at large – which has been a challenge to begin with for a long time.

    Am I disappointed in Chili’s decision?   Of course?   But can I blame them?  I can’t.   Any business will back out of supporting something when there is any type of negative publicity – whether it’s true or not.   I keep thinking about when companies would pull their support for Paula Dean or Tiger Woods.

    I’m more concerned about the Autism Community in general.   We have to support one another, and find and support organizations that help our families and individuals.

    Each organization I’ve had the pleasure of working with has it’s strength’s  - and we should focus on the Strength’s – and support each other.

    Be kind.

    Until later, be blessed.

April 6, 2014

  • Facebook Mega Millions Scam

    Today I was approached by someone who supposedly represented Mega Millions Lottery.

    They said I was selected to win $5.5 million dollars.

    But that’s where this story began…

    I’m a fan of the Publishers Clearing House facebook fan page.   We all may have that moment and go, “sure, why not?”  … right?

    Well, the fan page on PCH had a status update with a picture that shared for people to leave a comment with (Y).

    So, why not…. so I did.

    Within minutes, a person friended me on facebook.  This person went by the name Patricia Davis.   I checked out their facebook profile and being that I just responded to the PCH status update, I said… “hey, why not” – so I accepted the friend request.

    A few moments after that, a series of messages and exchanges happened through facebook messaging.

    It started off simple enough… “hey, do you know why I connected with you?”

    Then it went to “just send me your address and I’ll deliver your prize”

    Red flags were going off left and right.  And NO, I didn’t share my address.

    What I did do was play along so I can get an idea of how this scam works so I can pass it along to others so they are aware.

    So, here’s what I found out:

    - First, they set up a bogus facebook profile.   This one was less than a couple of weeks old, had few status updates.

    - Second, they search fan pages – like Publishers clearing house’s – and wait for them to post an update where you have to respond in the comments section.

    - Third, they friend as many folks as possible and await for people to accept friend requests.

    - Fourth – they message the person that accepted the friend request and say that they represent Mega Millions (or some other instant winning organization) – and that all they need is an address to deliver the winnings within 3 to 5 business days.

    So far, it sounds almost official.  However, there are a few flags already:
    1 – I’m not a fan of mega millions lottery facebook page, but I do know that particular lottery the winners are determined by a selection of numbers.  Definetely NOT the way they were going about it.

    2 – The persons language was semi-professional.   Something just wasn’t right in the use of their use of the english language.

    3 – if someone does win, each organization has a list of how they will contact people.  No where does it say via facebook message as to notify a winner – especially in this instance.

    But that’s not all…  there’s more to this story.

    As with most situations, I am very hesitant with passing out personal information. Especially Online.  So, I express a bit of hesitation and ask that they respond (or have someone respond) via their official facebook fanpage.  At least that would create a more open and honest dialogue.

    Over the course of 15-20 minutes, this can easily be done.   But it wasn’t.

    So, I let the person know that I am sending a message to PCH’s fanpage to obtain verification of who this person is.  Now remember, this person said they were from Mega Millions (not PCH).   Another red flag at the fact they didn’t correct me.

    I still play along and ask that if I do give my address, what will the next steps be?

    Then, after a few more messages back a forth, the scam is revealed – here’s an excerpt:

    You will be needing a national state ID or drivers license, a green dot card and last but not least faith and confident ok

    Allow me to explain why this card is need ok. This card have a 14 digit code breaker that allows us to have access to you package so the delivery team and I can come over

    For those that don’t know what a green dot card is… it’s a moneypak.

    Now, Money Pak in and of itself is a a reputable business.   But even they have a major warning on their main website page that says to beware of scams:  https://www.moneypak.com/

    I personally don’t use moneypak.com, so I can not honestly say I would fully endorse their business.

    Here’s a few articles regarding scams and the use of green dot cards:

    http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20140406/NJNEWS/304060013/Officials-warn-Don-t-fall-for-Green-Dot-MoneyPaks-scams

    http://www.kpho.com/story/21291286/scammers-now-using-green-dot-moneypak-cards

     

    After the various exchange of messages, I sent a few messages to PCH and Mega Millions, and also contacted my local authorities.

    It’s not the first time I’ve come across scammers, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  The account was reported to facebook, authorities notified – and it’s just another day online.

    Just be aware of this tactic, and be careful with your interactions online.   Sharing this particular incident as I’m sure it could be easy for others to fall prey to this scam.

    Stay safe, folks.

    Until later, be blessed.

March 23, 2014

  • Keeping Xangans Connected – An Idea

    I’m not one to argue the point that there are a lot of folks that don’t like the fact that Xanga changed from it’s proprietary platform to a wordpress based platform.

    The reality is, no one likes change.

    Another reality is that the proprietary platform that we all knew and loved was actually an outdated platform that was becoming increasingly more of a challenge to manage.   One issue was that in order to provide an upgrade, entire systems had to be recoded.  Another issue is that the platform required extensive amounts of memory  - which meant more server space and bandwidth.

    These fundamental issues would cost any business to think about what it needed to do in order to survive and thrive.

    So, the decision was made to upgrade to a platform that was powered by wordpress, and then the next phase – how to pay for it all long term.

    I can share that I understand that this must have been a major decision that had to be made.

    Working on Autisable, we made the decision to keep the site as an ad based revenue site.   It is a decision that is right for the site – as it caters to a specific marketable niche – the Autism Community.   However, Xanga does not have that luxury.

    We all blog about different subjects – not specific niche markets.   This makes it a challenge for a company to invest in advertising for a company.   Another question that needed to be asked is if Xanga is a marketable commodity – and do they have a team that can market to advertisers.   Again, the answer is not only no – but it wasn’t a part of their vision for the site.

    As John shared many times when he provides updates – they do it because they love to blog and interact with people.   They like the community and wanted to keep the site going so that the community can still move forward.

    Now, the tough decisions were made – the site had to be upgraded due to antiquated technology – and people are needing to pay to blog.

    Personally, an average of $4 per month is as simple as one cup of starbucks coffee.   I’m ok with this cost at this time, as I know I’ll be blogging here regularly – and I make enough online annually to take care of it.

    But, what about all the folks who didn’t pay to blog?  What can we do to accommodate them?   What can we do to help keep these folks in touch with each other?

    Of course people who didn’t pay to blog can still subscribe and comment on people’s blogs – but we know that tends to hinder expression in some ways.

    Here’s a thought I had, and I’d like to run it past the community -

    Since Xanga’s Official facebook fanpage is ran by the community (Dan, Maurice, and I) – what if we opened a fanpage tab where people can still connect with each other?   This section on the facebook fanpage would be open to all xangans – like a forum.

    I know that facebook is upgrading their fan pages again – but I think this option will still be available – and we could promote it.

    I also know there are several xanga facebook group pages (Dan and Maurice manage two of them) – but this would help provide a central point where anyone can reconnect and discuss.

    Just a thought on keeping the community together in a more official capacity – while we wait for the site to be continually upgraded.

    Thoughts?

March 19, 2014

  • My Baby Girl

    A few weeks ago I shared about a little about meeting T.O.N.E-z.

    We will be hearing more about him, as he will be a part of the concert series we are working on for Autisable.

    Lately, however, he’s been working rather heavily on his new album, and his latest single called “My Baby Girl.”

    He collaborated with fellow Justified Actor and Singer, Alicia Witt, to create this song that deals with a very tough subject: Miscarriage.

    The song was written from his own personal experience on the subject – and it’s something he and I both have in common.

    There is an obvious stigma associated with subject.   Hopefully by this song being released, it can be an open door for discussion – and to let people know that they are not alone in that experience.

     

    One of our very own Xangans was at the filming of the music video, so stay tuned.  I”ll update this post with the link when it becomes available.

    [ UPDATE:  Here is the link  - http://myxldove.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/complex-t-o-n-e-z-one/  ]

    Until later, Be blessed.

March 17, 2014

  • Where Am I Online

    Over the years I’ve created accounts on other sites on a regular basis.   Not all of the accounts I used regularly, as some I used for branding purposes – and others I created to just check websites out to see how well they work and for general review.

    I’ve used the pen name ‘edlives’ for as long as I’ve been blogging on Xanga, where it was first introduced.   It was used as a means to keep a small level of anonymity.   I also shared much of my faith in the early days of my blogging life, and the pen name carries a bit of that meaning with it – but I digress.

    Gone are many of the sites I used to be on, and others still remain as a shell of their former selves.   But I still remain on several sites.  I still contribute regularly – but only as time permits.

    I do contribute to Howtolearn.com and Technorati.com, and I encourage you to look at those sites if you have the time.  Sometimes I’m asked o write articles for sites and publications that cater to the autism community.

    Over the past few weeks I’ve been able to devote a little time in revamping my personal accounts.   And I think it’s time to do a little reveal as to the major places where most people are online – and where they can connect with me.   It was just time that I looked at what I did online, and refocused where I’m at, and what I needed to focus my time when I’m online.   It was long overdue, but glad I did it.

    So, here are the sites that I’m regularly on if you’d like to connect with me.

    Xanga.com

    - http://edlives.xanga.com  - this is my main blog, where you are reading me now (in case you didn’t know).  I call it my blogging home.   I also blog on Autisable, but will hold off on sharing my specific blog url on that site until the site gets relaunched.

    Facebook -
    My personal account - https://www.facebook.com/joel.manzer  - now I will say I do have a tendency to accept friend requests as I am a constant networker.   However, I do check people’s accounts that want to connect with me.  So, if you try to connect with me through a fake account – be warned.

    My Fanpagehttps://www.facebook.com/brainfriednetwork  - this is where I share just about anything I come across online.  Weird/Mundane.  It’s also where many of my blogs and contributing articles will be promoted.   I do manage several fanpages on facebook, but this one is my personal one.

    Twitter –  http://www.twitter.com/edlives  - when I must I do tweet a few things here and there.

    LinkedInwww.linkedin.com/pub/joel-manzer/5/353/826/   -  do you want to connect with me professionally?   then this is the place.  Be aware, however, that like my personal facebook account – I will look at your account.  After all, there must be a purpose to connect with me on this site.

    Youtubehttp://www.youtube.com/user/JoelManzer    - This is an upgrade from my previous youtube account which will eventually be shut down.   Focus with this account is to share hitrecord projects that I’m a part of (when I can), and also more professional quality videos.

    Hitrecord.org  - http://www.hitrecord.org/users/edlives   – this is a collaborative production company.  I like doing voice overs and this site gives me the opportunity to practice.   I may share some of the results on my soundcloud or youtube accounts – which will be shared via facebook, etc…  Being that I like doing voice overs, I am still deciding what site I want to use the most – as I have accounts on a few sites for that as well. But I’ll save that for a later time.

    Vine.cohttps://vine.co/u/999118920944627712    - I like to do impressions, be silly and have a bit of fun.   I use vine to connect with folks and have a bit of fun in the process.

    Instagram.comhttp://www.instagram.com/joelmanzer  - like my youtube upgrade, this account is actually an upgrade as well.  The previous account is no longer being used.   Sometimes I come across a good picture I’d like to share – so expect those on this site.

    So, the above sites listed are where I’m at usually.   Feel free to friend/follow/subscribe…. you know, the usual rhetoric to say ‘connect with me here as well’

    Until later, Be Blessed.