Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The pen is mightier than the sword

In May 2016, an odd ad went viral on social media including Linkedin. See below:
Ad as making the rounds on social media

Snopes does not have this researched yet, but I did find a post on Mybroadband (warning they use canvas fingerprinting)"

"When asked about the photos, Samsung provided the following statement:
The alleged typo on a Galaxy Note 10.1 billboard, of course, is fake. Attached is the actual photo from Cromford Road, London as well as the link on Google maps of the actual site below."

Ad provided by Samsung

Channel 24 and Sowetan are adding to the buzz. I guess we will know in a few weeks. Observations:
1) Pen is mightier than the finger just sounds odd.
2) Samsung is going to need to do an after action review to figure out how this went viral without their product line Note 10.1 showing up in the penis version of the picture. Even if this was spoofed they should have caught it, added their product, and re-introduced it.

Movie sound tracks - Dan Wallin

( I had a hard time deciding whether this post should be in Leadership or Perception)

How did the movie Jaws percept the people that watched it? Sorry for the 14 second ad, but here is a Youtube clip of the famous sound. Two notes. Two notes and really bad props.

And it is a movie that changed the world, maybe not set it upside down, but if you are a shark it made a perceptible difference.

Livescience says. "Now, 35 years later, the slogan "Don't go in the water" from the movie has turned out to be a lousy PR campaign for sharks, whose numbers worldwide have been decimated due partly to the frightening and false ideas the film helped spread about them."

Here is a google search. Take a close look at the fill ins, (fill ins are the result of thousands and thousands of previous searches).

Last night I had dinner with Dan Wallin. You may have never heard of him, but he had a very illustrious career as a sound engineer. Born and raised in Los Angeles, after he got out of the Navy he made his way into broadcast radio and eventually the movies.

His focus is more on the symphonies. Should we double the brass. Are the drums coming through. And the technical issues, is there a standing wave, are two speakers out of phase. He delivers the sound. As the LATIMES reports. "The white-haired man behind the sound console is Dan Wallin, or Danny as he is widely known. At 84, he is the oldest working sound engineer in the film industry, yet his ears still rank among the sharpest around, according to his colleagues. He recognizes, often before anyone else, if the trombones should be doubled, if the saxophone is too brassy, or whether the timpani need to be taken down a notch."

The sound carries you through the movie. The music lets you know a stressful moment it about to happen. The music helps you celebrate victory. For the rest of your life, (for the rest of my life), be attentive to the music when you watch a movie and aware of how it percepts you.

Take a couple minutes to appreciate the work of John Williams and the music of Star Wars.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Twitter - She must be really popular - help grow your follower network for "free"

For some reason, I put "free" in the search box on twitter. There are a number of chatbots, (I picked this one because it has multi-lingual exposure)? offering free "followers" if you retweet their offers. des @vaporlove is also a bot. bots begetting bots.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Boy, he sure looks familiar

So I did a reverse image search.

Why did Linkedin serve it up? I don't follow Toby Dodd. Ah, one of my connections commented on the post. Was Toby percepting or pranking? Don't know. Didn't want to invest much time in this, on the surface his other posts seem legit. It is near the 30th birthday of Top Gun.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Half Human - What could possibly go wrong?

UC Davis researchers are injecting human stem cells into pigs. The goal is to create farm animals with human organs. The question of the hour is what if they create a pig, (or sheep), with human consciousness?

According to Boise State Public Radio: "The first step involves using new gene-editing techniques to remove the gene that pig embryos need to make a pancreas.

Working under an elaborate microscope, Ross makes a small hole in the embryo's outer membrane with a laser. Next, he injects a molecule synthesized in the laboratory to home in on and delete the pancreas gene inside. (In separate experiments, he has done this to sheep embryos, too.)
After the embryos have had their DNA edited this way, Ross creates another hole in the membrane so he can inject human induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS for short, into the pig embryos.
Like human embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can turn into any kind of cell or tissue in the body. The researchers' hope is that the human stem cells will take advantage of the void in the embryo to start forming a human pancreas.

Because iPS cells can be made from any adult's skin cells, any organs they form would match the patient who needs the transplant, vastly reducing the risk that the body would reject the new organ."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Self checkout - Safeway Kapaa

5/24/16 Went to the Safeway in Kapaa. The lines were pretty long, but one of the self checkouts was open, since I only had five items I decided to do it.

I had my own bag. It could not register its weight. Five times the override clerk had to say it was OK. And a bottle of Cinnamon whiskey so they had to do the age thing. The red cabbage didn't have a bar code and was not on the list of fruits and vegetables. The override clerk was gone, so we were stuck until a new clerk showed up.

Seven overrides to buy five items. My perception is that anyone with a lot of items is going to steer clear.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Short termism

The long view is in danger of extinction. More and more we focus on the new, new thing. David Armitage and Jo Guldi writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education said, "We live in a moment of accelerating crisis that is characterized by a shortage of long-term thinking. Rising sea levels and other threats to our environment; mounting inequality; rotting infrastructure. Our culture lacks a long-term perspective."

I am not sure it is a crisis, but it is something to be aware of. I am an academic, an educator. We generally believe the three pillars of this life are:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Service
But, I once read an alternate theory that suggested the three pillars are:
  • Gather knowledge
  • Chronicle the events of our time
  • Mentoring
Similar, but different. I write a lot about the events of our time. Most commonly, it is about security, (which is about as short term as it gets), but also cultural events.

One hundred years from now will anyone remember Ashley Madison?  Will it be considered important that some number that hovers around 32 million users signed up for an infidelity web site. The institution of marriage, generally for life 100 years ago, is now transient for many people. (Don't worry I am not getting preachy, I am simply recording an event of our time).

So, what can we do? We can interview real people and document real events. For instance, just yesterday, I interviewed the founder of a small business startup that endured daily adversity for three years, because it is a real event of our time. 

According to the Smithsonian, "In every community — in families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools — there are people who have knowledge and skills to share — ways of knowing and doing that often come from years of experience and have been preserved and passed down across generations. As active participants in community life, these bearers of tradition are primary sources of culture and history. They are, as folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett writes, "living links in the historical chain, eye witnesses to history, shapers of a vital and indigenous way of life. They are unparalleled in the vividness and authenticity they can bring to the study of local history and culture."

Through documenting their memories and stories, the past comes to life in the present, filled with vivid images of people, places, and events. And it is not only the past that we discover: we learn about the living traditions — the foodways, celebrations, customs, music, occupations, and skills — that are a vital part of daily experience. These stories, memories, and traditions are powerful expressions of community life and values. They anchor us in a larger whole, connecting us to the past, grounding us firmly in the present, giving us a sense of identity and roots, belonging and purpose."

And there is guidance on how to go about this type of knowledge gathering. They go on explain the process of the interview. And it really matters in a world of perception management. For various reasons, people are fabricating and publishing stories that are completely false, there are digital identities that don't really exist and very soon, if not now, they will be AI sentient

In a well received keynote I gave several years ago called 12 Laws of IT Security Power, I suggested looking at Google Trends at least once a week. But we want to balance that input to our thinking with something long term and solid. I am an occasional Wikipedia editor, but I bought a set of the last printed edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, (revise that :).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Facebook - suppressing conservative news stories

Gizmodo ran this story, "Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users."

True or false, unknown, but it certainly got people's attention:

ABCnews reports, "A senior adviser to Donald Trump will attend a meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday with prominent conservative leaders in response to a recent report of Facebook’s handling of conservative news stories, a campaign official said today. "

According to The Verge, "Facebook's chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is meeting with Glenn Beck and other leading conservatives this week to discuss allegations of political bias in the social network's Trending Topics section. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Beck said Zuckerberg's office had called him about the meeting, and that he wanted to "look [Zuckerberg] in the eye as he explains."

Whatever the truth actually is, one blogger scored serious buzz, ""We removed this from Facebook because it violates our Community Standards," Facebook wrote me. "So you're temporarily blocked from using this feature."

Here is what Facebook has to say, "The Trending Topics team is governed by a set of guidelines meant to ensure a high-quality product, consistent with Facebook’s deep commitment to being a platform for people of all viewpoints. Our goal has always been to deliver a valuable experience for the people who use our service. The guidelines demonstrate that we have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum. Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period."

The questions of the hour are:
1) Will this be forgotten by next week, or will it grow into a significant issue?
2) Will this have any impact on people's perception of facebook?
I will set a calendar entry to check up on this in about ten days.

5/25/16 Recode runs an update story:
"Facebook said at the time that this was not true. It reiterated that Monday in an open letter to Thune, in which it highlighted an internal Facebook investigation. "Our investigation has revealed no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories included in the Trending Topics feature," the letter reads."

Facebook is making some changes as a result of the investigation. My opinion is this is a tempest in a teacup and the story will sink from the public consciousness.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Is Sofia Real?

Received a Linkedin invite, went to check her out. She has 34 connections and 1 endorsement for various skills. I suspect a bot of some sort.

I wrote a Linkedin 1st level connection and asked if he knows her in real life. Then I tried a reverse image search. In my view the results are not conclusive, though top row, third from the left looks like a possible match, a "beautyblogger" from Mexico. What I still do not understand is just what is possible by doing this. Hit ignore on Linkedin.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Present bias - toilet paper

You can't take a freshman psychology course without learning about the decision process of waiting for a larger return or getting less now. This is often called present bias. There are tons of these studies, but they seem academic, not grounded in the real world.

However, according to TheAtlantic: "To see how often consumers at different income levels take advantage of discounts, Orhun and Palazzolo analyzed seven years’ worth of data on toilet-paper purchases made by over 100,000 American households. They picked toilet paper because it’s “tailor-made” for what they’re interested in studying: It’s often sold in bulk, it’s frequently on sale, and it’s non-perishable and easily storable."

Higher income people spend 6% less per sheet of toilet paper because they buy in bulk at stores like Costco. Lower income people tend to buy four packs at corner stores.

"The argument isn’t that they’re inherently less sharp, but that they become, as a result of their circumstances, more prone to making irrational, present-biased choices. On the other side, there is a body of evidence supporting the idea that those without much money are simply making the best possible decisions they can make, given their crummy circumstances."

Could be, in which case this is not perception management. So, let's look under the hood. The search string "purchase toilet paper" yields 1.4M results and the results are interesting, at least to me:

At the top of the page, both left and right are paid ads. So some companies believe that people buy toilet paper online. The ads on the left are for high end toilet paper. The ads on the right are for what I call airport toilet paper.

The ads bring up the issue of how do you market toilet paper, after all it kind of sells itself. But the paper companies want you to be a repeat customer. According to Slate: "The Scott Paper Company became the first to offer toilet paper on a roll in the 1890s, and its products were marketed under private labels that each had their own advertising scheme. Many used words and pictures to connote luxury, as in The Waldorf and The Statler, two brands named after fancy hotels. Some showed images of ladies in ball gowns or gentlemen riding in horse-drawn carriages."

However, more recently, instead of appealing to the rich, "The preponderance of bears on toilet-paper packaging—along with angels, babies, and puppies—derives from the dominance of the major players in the bath-tissue industry. Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific and Kimberly-Clark together control about two-thirds of the market, and their brand icons—the Charmin bear, the Angel Soft baby, and the Cottonelle puppy—showed up in the United States over a 15-year span beginning in the late-1980s."

The top two organic searches for "Purchase toilet paper" are Overstocks and Amazon. They both carry a brand called "Angel Soft" 2-ply to make a snap comparison. Overstock has 60 rolls for 65.49 with free shipping, 1.09 a roll, Amazon has 60 rolls for 48.25, .80 per roll. Wal-Mart does not appear to stock 60 rolls, but 36 "double rolls" is 15.97 or $.44 a double roll.  The key point, if you buy in bulk you can get below the dollar a roll mark. I will try to walk into a few small stores, or a grocery store and see what they have.

5/24/16 Safeway in Lihue. With Club pricing, 12 double rolls is 9.99 or .83 roll.

At Big Save, 12 "double" rolls are 9.99 on sale, .83 per roll.

One last thing, when I did my search, one of the paid ads was Amazon. What price do they offer, surely the same as when I visited the page via organic search, right? Not hardly. You can purchase premium toilet paper for less than a dollar a roll, but not everyone does.

6/14/16 Home Depot 8.97 for 24 rolls, .37 per roll.  I had noticed the price of toilet paper at Home Depot seemed to be lower. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Climate change - Republican party

I apologize if this appears political. If you read more posts, I simply look for cases where reality and perception do not line up. The Republican party in the United States has been interesting about climate change. None of the candidates for the 2016 election accepted climate research. The GOP has fought President Obama's efforts to make a change. Never the less 2015 was the warmest year on record according to NASA and NOAA.

Meanwhile, despite their perception, islands are sinking:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Laptops and tablets may alter the way we think

Gadget reports: "Tablet and laptop users, take note! Using digital platforms for reading may change the way you think, making you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, a new study has found.

The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought, researchers said.

Scientists from Dartmouth College in the US tested the basic question - would processing the same information on a digital versus non-digital platform affect "construal levels" the fundamental level of concreteness versus abstractness that people use in perceiving and interpreting behaviours, events and other informational stimuli."

The Telegraph reports: "It found that those performing tasks with paper were overwhelmingly more capable of interpreting the meaning of the material, while those using computers would retain particular details.

For example, when choosing between two ways to describe “making a list”, those answering on a computer would select “writing things down”, and those doing so on paper would choose “getting organised”."

Sunday, May 8, 2016

If you get a discount coupon for liquor, does it mean you are an alcoholic?

I was reading an "Ask Slashdot" question about online tracking. Here is one of the comments:

"I work in the micro-targeting business and we love people like you. It is the ones who think they are immune to the work we do that are actually the most susceptible because you'll never see it coming. It hasn't been about in-your-face advertising for at least a decade.

It is about swaying you without you even realizing you are being swayed. Here's an egregious example: One of our clients sells alcohol. They use our data to figure out who has alcoholics in their family and then we send them snail-mail coupons for significant discounts on their products, sometimes even completely free, because we know that alcoholism has genetic and environmental components that family members often share and because 10% of the population accounts for 50% of the industry's profits. [washingtonpost.com] Those are the people they want to sucker in. And guess what? When the data shows that a heavy drinker has stopped drinking, we send them coupons for freebies too. But we don't just mail them out directly, we have them printed up in their newspaper or their magazine subscription. So it isn't obvious that they've been singled out.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the largest industry on planet earth. Facebook alone is valued at 350 BILLION DOLLARS predicated solely on their ability to manipulate people. It doesn't matter how much mental fortitude you have, you will succumb at some point. My company alone has a 10 million dollar budget for pure research in the field of psychology as it applies to swaying people. As the apocryphal saying goes, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time...""

Now you can't believe everything you read, even on Slashdot :) So let's see what we can find on the Internet.

According to Small Business, "Given a 2012 Gallup poll indicating that most Americans surveyed described themselves as regular drinkers, marketers of beer, wine and liquor have a lot of targets. However, alcohol preferences and consumption habits differ based on a number of factors. Age, gender, geography and leisure habits all influence drinking behavior, and businesses may find their largest target markets are heavily influenced by what alcohol they are trying to sell."

Note, the two perspectives do not contradict one another. Large ocean with lots of fish in it, but some fish have higher value to fishermen. Currently men consume more alcohol than women, but women are drinking more and are "percepted" differently than men.

According to Marketing Today, "In fact, the data show that in comparison with the general population, women are more likely to spend more on adult beverages on-premise than last year (30% of women versus 19% of the general population), and more likely to try new adult beverages, then buy them for at-home consumption (42% of women versus 35% of the general population). 

In addition, women are more likely to take "cues" in deciding what beverages to order. Menu descriptions and samples influence 39% and 32% of women, respectively, whereas the same cues influence 29% and 26% of the general population, respectively."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Linkedin Profile Picture A/B test

Saw this on Linkedin. Really smart test. The only variable Nikky changed was her profile picture. Be sure to note the engagement stats at the bottom of the photo.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Rottweilers are from Pluto

We got "percepted" yesterday, or at least they tried. We have a growing Rottweiler puppy, (15 months), that descends from world champions. Not surprisingly he is spirited. So far, I have been able to manage him, but he constantly challenges Kathy, my wife. There is a dog training couple on island that have a Rottweiler.

Yogi at the Dog First Aid and CPR tent at Paws on Parade Kilauea

Kathy, wanted to have him evaluated and get some training other than what we do at home; ok fine. So she filled in a four page application and provided all sorts of insights.

Karen Tolodziecki of Bark Bark Backyard is highly trained, worked with Caesar Millan and Heather Beck and is certified as a AKC Canine Good Citizen assessor. In Yogi's one day assessment they taught him how to run on a treadmill. She sent a video of his first run, that alone is worth the price of admission.

So where is the perception management? During the debrief she led off with, "The problem is that you are trying to use human psychology on a dog." (Kathy mentioned in the application that she had certified in teaching learning disabled, emotionally disturbed and gifted and talented student from K -12). Then off into a canned speech about human psychology that included Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus and they are all still human, how much harder to communicate with canines. During the fairly long speech her husband, RJ, would pipe up from time to time, (while yelling at dogs).

"Good thing you got to us when you did".

"Glad you got here before it was too late"

"It will be at least a year before he can pass his Canine Good Citizen", (Yogi is already an AKC Star Puppy).

I don't mind, I really don't, weapons of influence are part and parcel of daily life, hence this blog. But the theater was not necessary. And it hit Kathy hard, she started saying things like: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Rottweilers are from Pluto, (which I thought was a nice turn of a phrase). Maybe we will start calling Yogi Pluto from time to time, but hard sell was not needed, we are sure bets, we want to attempt Canine Good Citizen when we get back to Washington.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Poor Donna Fey - Sgt. Hayes daughter was raped

I do not unfollow people on Linkedin that often, so it is hard to remember how.

This is a perception management blog and Linkedin is a professional site. I do not unfollow enough that it is easy, but I must. This is what Donna Fey posted.

Before we consult Snopes, what do you think?

While the image was wildly popular on Facebook, not one version of it included any information substantiating its claims. We were unable to locate any news stories or public records matching the details of the rumor, nor any recent records of a retired U.S. Army sergeant named Gregory Hayes. A reverse image search didn't turn up any results for the photograph of the purported Sgt. Hayes, either.

So, with almost no effort we determine the stimulus is false. The rich question is what is/did the author of the fraud intend to accomplish? Must we run out and hate the 2,456 Syrian refuges in the country because two FAKE brothers were implicated in a FAKE and non-existant rape of a non-existant person. But it got traction on Facebook so it must be true. This is clearly in the realm of information warfare. 

32 Million people signed up for a cheating web site?

Since their widely publicized breach, Ashley Madison claims they have added 4 million subscribers. Let's think about this logically. If all the news is bad, that simply can't happen. And trust me the news is bad. Some of the key points in this sordid story are below, but first there are a two perceptions I want to explore:

The first perception is that it is going to stay secret if you give your credit card details, (and they are starting to crack down on gift cards if that is plan B), to an infidelity web site. To a security guy like me, reading about breaches daily, the reality is that not being outed is almost impossible. But somehow the customers believed. Could the famous picture be part of the cause? 

CNN Money reports: Ashley Madison also had offered a "full delete" service that would permanently remove their names from the database if they paid the company to do so. But those names remained on the company's servers and were revealed by the hackers. If it is on the Internet, it is out of your control forever. Forty two former Madisonites joined a class action suit, they hoped they could be John Does, but they are going to have to give out their names. They're suing Ashley Madison for lacking the proper safeguards to protect them from a massive hack that revealed the personal information of more than 32 million customers. Ashley Madison had advertised that its systems were secure and its customers would remain anonymous.

The second is the Fembot , or virtual "girlfriend" aspect. I think we are going to see more and more of this as AI develops. Gizmodo probably studied this more than anyone else: The developers at Ashley Madison created their first artificial woman sometime in early 2002. Her nickname was Sensuous Kitten, and she is listed as the tenth member of Ashley Madison in the company’s leaked user database. On her profile, she announces: “I’m having trouble with my computer ... send a message!”"

It is already starting, for example with a videogame, Huffington PostThere are players who consider LovePlus' three girlfriends -- Rinko, Nene and Manaka -- far better company than any "IRL" lover. And the players can shape their ideal companion with a few taps on the console: The women can be programmed, with their moods and personalities adjusted to suit the desires of the player.

There is also Kari. Expansions include alternate voices and expansion packs, (different names and personalities). Google is experimenting with feeding romance novels to one of their AI platforms. This is interesting because females outnumber males in romance novels; this could lead to a personality that appeals to women. 

This is my original Ashely Madison Post on Linkedin:

The Christian Post reports "From 2010 to 2013, the cheating website's revenue growth was steadily decreasing, but the company suddenly reported a 50 percent increase in 2014. It is worth noting that the firm did not provide any explanation for the sudden surge in revenue. The trail of evidence seems to say that the company is simply lying about a lot of things, the report suggests."

It has been widely reported those sexy women were often fembots, Gizmodo has studied the code and done a number of analyses "To the Ashley Madison “guest,” or non-paying member, it would appear that he was being personally contacted by eager women. But if he wanted to read or respond to their messages, he would have to shell out for a package of Ashley Madison credits, which range in price from $60 to $290. Each subsequent message and chat cost the man credits. As documents from company e-mails now reveal, 80 percent of first purchases on Ashley Madison were a result of a man trying to contact a bot, or reading a message from one."

The problem is, Ashley Madison is at the top of the news. . . bad news.
They have just done one thing that has to be done in such a situation, they canned the CEO. The Washington Post has done a well balanced job of telling that story. The Verge also carries the story with a priceless photo.

Then there is the bounty. You knew you were not secure with a website whose breach will probably cost more than a few marriages and relationships. And human life. And you offer a bounty of $379k? The fanciest car I drive is a Mustang GT 5.0, but I will bet you there are cars that cost over $400k. Ashley, surely you have heard the famous expression, "go big or go home".

And now there is the analysis of the exfiltrated data. Plain text passwords, I can feel my skin crawling just to think of it. And an almost all guy eco system. It is going to take me a long time to wrap my brain around the fact that not one or two deviants, but lot's of guys created fake girl profiles.
My prediction is they are too deep in a dive to pull out. With apologies to the movie Wag the Dog, it would take a war to distract the media. I am keeping notes, maybe this whole story will be good for a paper, or a management of incident response scenario.

 The Seattle Times posts a very touching, heartbreaking, story, an Elegy for John  Gibson, whose name was on "the list" and took his life. An elegy is a lament for the dead. The Inquisitr reports "Pastor and Seminary Professor John Gibson of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, who took his own life when the news became public to his wife and two children."

Brian Krebs reports a cease and desist letter claiming defamation. You can see a copy of the letter here. I am no legal authority, but the way I read the letter is that they are objecting to the term "hacked" being used to describe Mr. Bhatia's actions. I surely do not know what happened, but if this line from Bhatia's email proves to be true, “Also, I can turn any non paying user into a paying user, vice versa, compose messages between users, check unread stats, etc.”, it isn't far from any definition of hacking that I know.

In my copious spare time I am working on the evening program for SANS Boston 2016, Aug 1 - 7. In one sense, this could be a great panel, but the problem is, by then it will be a dated example. Perhaps a timeless theme: Life is short, help someone

Monday, May 2, 2016

Costco Rewards American Express

Our American Express card is about to become useless as Costco did not continue with them. Kathy is working very hard to keep the card at exactly a 0 balance since if you have a credit, you risk losing the money, (we usually overpay our credit card balance so that we get busy or are on travel, we avoid problems).

I logged on to check the balance. The web site told me if I did not give them an updated physical address they would void the card. OK, please do :) In the meantime I got another offer from them for their new product:

My perception is that losing the Costco deal is going to be pretty damaging from a business perspective. Let's see what Mr. Market thinks. The real risk here is that the longer this trend continues the greater the potential damage, if people quit accepting the credit card, Discover, (which is also trailing the S&P 500), could take some market share.

American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card issuer by purchases, is spending more money to attract cardholders and actively seeking retail partners as it works “with a great sense of urgency” to improve results, Chief Executive Officer Ken Chenault told shareholders.