How spam is made.

th How spam is made. Apparently there’s a spam template floating around the Internetz. Anyone who blogs has likely seen its spawn, i.e., would-be “comments” that sound a lot like other “comments” you received that day. Or the previous week, or year.

That’s because they’re not comments at all. They’re camel noses.

Folks promoting their websites or who are being paid to promote other people’s websites cut and paste chunks of these templates and mass-mail them to every blog extant. Approve them once and they can get into your tent any time they want in the future.

Or, rather, their spam-mails can. If you’re new to blogging, be really wary about which comments you approve. Should the English seem very clunky or the comment off-topic (or a blatant non sequitur), check the return e-mail address/web page attached to the e-mail. You’ll almost certainly see something like “cheap retro Jordan size 8” or “teeth whitening” or “cheap FIF coins.”

Today I got an e-mail from a really clueless spammer who cut-and-pasted the entire freaking template: 2,828 words. Taken together they look like an English-as-a-second-language version of Mad Libs.


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th4 150x150 Swimsuits, gleaning and Christmas in July.For women, there are two kinds of bathing suits: the kind you promenade in and the kind won’t fall off when you dive into a pool/get hit by a wave.

The latter actually happened to me when I was a young teen, down at the Jersey Shore. Luckily my feet were planted in the sand so the suit bottom didn’t have a chance to float off, but for a few very anxious seconds I felt like the little girl at the end of this old Coppertone ad:

July is the best time for discounts on both bathing suits and summer clothing, according to a merchandising specialist at Retail Me Not. Tips for finding good deals on such can be found in my current post at RMN’s The Real Deal, “What to buy in July: Celebrate the best of summer, right in your own backyard.”


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DONNA F For the best FinCon14 price, book by Monday night.Once again I’ve been chosen to present a program at the Financial Blogger Conference, which takes place Sept. 18-20 in New Orleans.

According to the organizer, Phil Taylor, I’m apparently the only person who’s been involved all four years. So I guess it’s really not just me who likes to hear myself  talk.

The “early bird” pricing ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 30. So if you’re a blogger or want to be one, sign up now for the best deal (more on that in a minute).

Or just attend because you’re intrigued by personal finance and/or would like to hear writers talk about what they do.


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th6 Information wants to be free. Writers want to be paid.A post on my daughter’s website might get under some writers’ skins. Not mine – and not just because she’s my daughter.

Why I refuse to have a donate button” helped me clarify something that’s been twigging me lately: the proliferation of “please pay me” buttons on personal websites.

Newspapers and other sites are experimenting with paywalls to recoup at least some of the costs associated with professional writing (and, presumably, professional standards). So why not bloggers?

To my daughter, at least, the pay-to-read mentality comes across “as either grandiose (let’s face it, none of us is the NYT) or greedy.”

“Asking readers for money just seems crass,” Abby writes. In part that’s because she associates pay-me buttons with paid content, aka “sponsored posts,” aka “stuff some company pays you to run.” While she acknowledges that not everyone would feel this way, Abby says she’s less likely to return to a blog with a donate button unless “there is a good reason why the person actually needs help.”

To some extent I can see the purpose of a button: It’s like paying for a magazine subscription. Sites that put out great stuff have writers who put great effort into the posts.

Lots of sites don’t.


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14546594 130417061717 138x1381 Free health screenings. Also: Gift cards and an iPotty.When possible, I try to post free stuff and the chance to win gift cards because these are good ways to stretch the budget. Here are four such opps, all of which could turn out to be great frugal hacks – that is, if you live near a Sam’s Club and/or are lucky enough to win.

(About that “iPotty”: I am not making that up. I couldn’t make that up. More on it below.)

On Saturday, June 14 you can get free men’s health screenings at all Sam’s Club locations that have pharmacies. You don’t have to be a member to take advantage of:

  • PSA (prostate-specific antigen), for men 40 and older
  • Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol
  • Glucose
  • Body mass index
  • Blood pressure
  • Vision
  • Risk ratio

The screenings are offered between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. In honor of Father’s Day, maybe the dad(s) in your life will give you a gift: the opportunity to be in your life longer by being proactive about health.


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