Random Technology

Internet Junk: Spam, Hoax, and Glurge

iStock_000015937985XSmallBefore there was the internet, chain mail has existed. Since the growth of the internet, chain letters and hoaxes have exploded as it became easier and easier to “pass it on” as it has reduced the cost of paper, postage, time, and effort required. As someone who LOVES the internet, I do hate all forms of spam. As someone who value fact over fiction, I hate hoaxes and glurges. The term glurge was invented by, a website dedicated to cataloging and often debunking urban legends. Unfortunately, while the word glurge may be fictional, the phenomenon it describes is not. Glurge is best described as the cloyingly sentimental stories, testimonials and object lessons frequently sent as email or chain letters.

It used to be limited to your email inbox, but not anymore. It is now invading your social media space and it is all over your Facebook newsfeed. Facebook has made it a lot more easy for someone to share this crap to a greater multitude on social media — at least with email one had to actually add contacts to the recipient field, but now all anyone has to do upon seeing a piece of hoax or spam is to press that little share button. Not a day goes by where I do not see some type of hoax or glurge in my newsfeed.

As a upstanding netizen, it can be incredibly time consuming to properly deal with all this hoax and glurge. The objective is always to prevent the spread of misinformation. Usually this is accomplished by going to a site like or, doing a quick search and finding the page with information on the offending item. I then copy and paste the URL and either reply to all in an email or post in a Facebook comment. Given that see about at least 5-10 a day, this easily takes me about 15-30 minutes a day!  Even then people might still call you names for being a bitchy, mean party-pooper (yes this actually does happen to me ever so often). I guess I can understand — what is the harm, especially when it comes to a glurge, when it is just sentimental?

Here are all the ways that spam, hoaxes, and glurges cause harm:

  • They slow down internet traffic.
  • They are a waste of time.
  • They contain illegal content.
  • They often steal copyright content and post them without permission
  • They are often created with questionable motives, for profit and malice.
  • They are often designed to steal money or identity (e.g. phish scams).
  • They are often lies, created to misinform and scare the public.
  • Even if they are created for sentimentality, you are helping the original poster’s questionable motives (usually profit).

Why you should be careful:

  • A 2006 study by Consumer Reports estimated that in two years, Americans spent more than $7 billion on repairs and parts replacement resulting from viruses, malware and spyware. This does NOT even take into account the cost to the Internet Providers who have to pay for all the bandwidth taken up by the spammers junk, or the cost in time, money and productivity to businesses that have to sort through all the spam.
    – See more at:
  • A “like” or “share” on Facebook means you are contributing to Facebook Edgerank. This increases the likelihood that poster gets more views, and once they get a lot of likes and shares, they can turn around and sell that Fan page.
    – See more at
  • If you are not yet convinced yet read this post on Buzzfeed.

Because I love the internet and because I care about my friends and those in my social network, I have been trying to give people facts either by replying with a link or posting a comment with a link. This may have some effect on email, but it is actually a terrible thing to do with Facebook because it actually tells Facebook Edgerank by commenting that this is something that is engaging when what you should be doing is to disengage quietly and only give information to the system.

Facebook Feedback
Select the arrow on the right of the Facebook post to provide negative feedback

Here’s what you should do:

  • When you are on Facebook, give negative feedback by hiding the post, hiding all from a page, report spam, or unlike the page. Do not reward unethical business or poor etiquette!
  • Only like, share, or comment on original comment or information from credible and worthy sources (ideally you have read and checked yourself).
  • When you see spam, mark it as spam. This way, the spam filters can learn from your report.
  • If a friend is forwarding hoaxes and spam, it is very possible their account was hacked and they don’t even know it, so you might let them know if you have the time and if you know them well enough. Most of the time, the best thing to do is to ignore.

What ever you do, DO NOT REPOST spam, hoaxes, or glurges. When in doubt, do a little fact checking or just delete it!



Starting with My Head

I have certainly taken a long hiatus from posting on this site, though not from writing bog posts at all. In fact, this past year I have been quite busy posting on my fitness blog as well as for my TechStylish business (see here for a collection of other posts I have written). The past two years has been a a great journey in adjusting to change and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work in my new life as a mom and stay at home parent.

2013 is gearing up to be a special year for me. I really can’t quite explain why — maybe it is my Chinese horoscope, maybe it is just that it is the last year before I turn 40, and maybe it is because I am at that time of the month. No, it actually started with my hair, of all things.

Here’s how my hair looked at the end of 2012:

Longhair dec 2012
My hair styled and blowdried

ponytail dec 2012
My hair in a ponytail

I have been trying to grow my hair out for the past year. Since I started working out last February, I decided that I would try to grow my hair to be able to pull them into a pony tail, especially since I was running and exercising regularly. I had been sporting a short bob for the longest time and I decided that I wanted to go longer in length. I had been communicating this to my hair stylist and I was starting to get frustrated. I finally was able to grow to my hair to the point that I was able to pull my hair back, but my hair was looking messier than ever. My layers look weird even after a trim. When I brought up my frustration with my stylist, he told me, “Irene your hair has not recovered from your postpartum thinness. I have seen this before — sometimes people never recover.  I am like a chef, I can only deliver good things if I have good ingredients.” Ouch.

That conversation had me near tears but things like this set me into action. I called my doctor for an appointment. I asked for a lab slip from the doctor’s office and scheduled lab work to be done to check for everything, including my hormone levels. I also made appointment with a new stylist that many friends go to I have been thinking about checking out. I researched hair loss, hair styles, and Pinterested a lot. The doctor confirmed that my hormone levels are fine and my hair is growing (follicles are not permanently damaged). Doctor informed me that extended breastfeeding can cause not only a long delay in the return of menses but also a delay in hair growth. My second opinion new stylist told me that it would probably frustrate me to see the baby hairs catch up to all the layers I have, and most definitely pulling my hair in a ponytail was not helping me.

So I decided to chop it all off, and I am not going back to the bob either. I went for the pixie. Yes, even though I do have a round face. I was somewhat inspired by Robin Wright in House of Cards. Here’s a picture of me right after the haircut. You can still see all the stray hair clippings on my face.

Post haircut picture


The last time I had my hair short was a little over 10 years ago, and this time I actually went shorter. A friend of mine told me that my haircut has made me look younger. Her comment inspired me to dig up an old picture for comparison. The picture on the left was taken on a European vacation in June 2002, the one on the right was taken in my bathroom after the haircut. I wore no makeup in either pictures.



There is something about this hair that just brings out a certain aspect of my personality — that “I don’t give a care if you don’t like it” part of my personality. My husband isn’t too fond of this hair, but I am enjoying it more and more. This hair is solving many problems for me. I think it is going to save me 10 minutes from my post-workout shower routine. Since my hair grew longer, the more time I have had to spend styling it, and now I don’t have that problem anymore. I won’t be tempted to pull my hair into a ponytail, since I can’t. My baby hairs will get a chance to catch up to the rest of my hair, and you really can’t see any thin spots in my hair like before. Luckily, my son did like my haircut and that does please me!

Now I have all sort of projects for myself in 2013. Stay tuned!


What I Am Reading: Drive by Daniel Pink

Health Home Personal Strategies

A Small Tweak Can Make All the Difference

After a little more than a year of being a stay at home mom, I was feeling worn down and terrible about myself. Like any mother of a toddler and breastfeeding infant, I was tired. More than anything, I felt like I was maybe not cut out to be a stay at home wife. Sure I was getting better at cooking, I love being there for my children, I did not miss the conflict between work and home that I felt as a working mother, but I was feeling like Cinderella all the time and tired of being a maid in my own house. I was frustrated that I was always cleaning and things keep piling up again sometimes even sooner than I can clean up. I was getting increasingly frustrated at my husband for not picking up his clothes off the floor and into the laundry basket and having to do everything. At least Cinderella had a fairy godmother; my fairy godmother was never going to come. I had to rescue my damn self.

I don’t usually make New Year resolutions but I decided that this year I need to change something permanently. I still have only 24 hours in a day, a son, a daughter, a husband to take care of, but I needed to give more to ME this year. So starting in January, I told my husband that I was going to spend less time on cleaning and start a fitness habit. I gained quite a bit of weight with the two pregnancies and while I didn’t know how I was going to find the time to take care of myself when something as basic as going to the bathroom and taking a shower seems to be a challenge sometimes. Around the end of January I started on my new routine.

Now a little less than two months into this I can tell you that the difference I feel is tremendous. I feel like one of the luckiest women in the world just about everyday. I have a lot more calm and energy at the same time. I don’t have a perfect regime but I remind myself that it is a new lifestyle that I am trying to establish and no lifestyle is perfect. Exercise is the ultimate ME time!

What is it that you would change about your day-to-day routine to make it better for you?



CVHS is Stroller-Friendly Again

After hearing about other ladies with babies in strollers getting kicked out of Castro Valley High School track, I was then kicked off myself recently, so I wrote a letter to CVUSD asking for clarification:

Castro Valley Unified School District
4430 Alma Ave.,
Castro Valley, CA 94546-3104
(510) 537-9534

CC: Andy Popper, CVHS Athletics Director

RE: Al Palacio and Use of CVHS Track

Dear Superintendent:

I am writing you in reaction to an incident today in which I was not so kindly kicked off the CVHS track by a member of your staff Al Palacio.

My husband and I purchased a home in Castro Valley right before Christmas 2009 and moved in January 2010. My son was merely 4 months old then and while I walked around with my son in a stroller I noticed that the high school track was available for public use. Not sure what the policy was for strollers, as it was not explicitly posted, I contacted Andy Popper, whose name I found on the CVUSD website as the Athletics Director. I explained that I was a new mom to Castro Valley with a weak ankle looking to exercise safely and asked Andy if I may have permission to use a stroller on the CVHS track. Mr. Popper kindly replied that I would be welcomed to do so and to enjoy my work out. Given that Castro Valley has so few sidewalks and every time I go out with the stroller I am risking someone hitting me because they are not paying attention, this was quite the heaven sent and made me feel a part of the community immediately. As a result, I always make a point in supporting any effort by the CVHS Athletics Booster, whether it be buying meat in front of CVHS, participating in the races to benefit CVHS Athletics, or just donating money.

I regularly use the track and see other moms do the same, but recently heard from a few other moms I know from Castro Valley Mothers Club where I am an active steering committee member that they were not so nicely kicked off the track. They told me that they were asked to leave immediately and not given good reasons. Hearing of this I wrote Mr. Andy Popper again recently to make sure that using the track in such a manner was OK, and was given the attached short email reply confirming again that it would be fine and to enjoy my workout. I went to the track again on Saturday with my 8 month old daughter and it was then I was ejected from the track by a very stern and somewhat rude Al Palacio who told me all wheeled vehicles are banned from the track and I must leave immediately. I informed him that I had obtained permission from Andy Popper and he shook his head and told me that he doesn’t care and that his authority comes from Castro Valley Unified School District. He said that due to some accidents that have happened strollers are not allowed. This does not make sense to me as your posted sign clearly states “Use field and facility at your own risk,” which I interpret that any accident or injury on the field does not hold CVHS or CVUSD liable.

The reason I am writing this letter is to inform you that your sign posted (see figure 1 below.) is not explicit about not allowing all wheeled things, like strollers and wheelchairs from the track. While is does mention no use of bikes or skates, it is not inclusive of all things with wheels, especially unmotorized strollers and wheelchairs which do not travel at the same speeds.

Figure 1: Photo of Sign posted at CVHS

I know that I am not the only mom in Castro Valley who is confused by this sign. Is it possible to perhaps use the stroller during certain non-peak hours? I had specifically also asked Andy Popper and he had mentioned that as long as it is not during school hours or if there is a game going on that it would be permissible, but perhaps your no stroller policy is so new that the Athletic Director is also unaware? I respectfully request and appreciate an explanation of the policy in writing, as I am also unable to find such information on the CVUSD website. I would also be happy to help publicize your policy to all the mothers in Castro Valley Mothers Club as there are a good group of us who exercise and use strollers with little ones.


Irene Shen


I called the Castro Valley Unified School District a week after I sent the letter. I didn’t hear back from anyone but I was not going to allow that to deter me! I called the Superintendent’s office and ended up speaking to the assistant to the Superintendent, who heard my story and promised to get back to me after another week. A week later, I didin’t hear back so I called again. This time, I was directed to speak with the assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, who told me that she believes that strollers are indeed allowed on the CVHS track, and that the staff member who kicked me out must have been misinformed. She indicated that she will make sure that the policy is communicated and at my request she sent me a short email confirming that strollers are allowed. I forwarded the email to the other moms that I know who also use the track during off hours with strollers, in case they are ever asked to leave the premise while exercising again.

So glad that I will be able to continue my exercise at the high school track! I plan on participating in a 5K benefitting the CVHS Athletic Booster in June!