Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This site is officially closed, but the story continues at my other site.

Please go to

Thank you for your continued support.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Best Hacking to Date?

It was rumored this week that the latest company to be hacked into was Staples.

Honestly, I am not surprised as I mentioned that this would happen back a few months ago.

Apparently, the company has the authorities looking into this hacking, but has not made any official announcement regarding any hack on its credit card system.

The word is that the affected area was the northeastern part of the U.S.  This would mean possibly that the areas would include New England and possibly New York and further.

Since no other details have been given, I am not going to speculate on the scope of the hack, but I expect that Staples will release that information soon hopefully,

However, it should be noted that Staples has been the only company that has not formally come out and admit to being hacked after it was announced publically by a third party security blogger.  This leads to a couple of questions:

·         Why is Staples reluctant to admit to the hack? 
·         Are they afraid of losing sales?
·         Are they afraid that their stock price will plummet on the formal news as other companies have already have happen?
·         And most importantly, are they afraid it will be over for their company?

While I can’t answer any of these questions, it should be of no surprise to readers of this blog that Staples is in denial of any hack to their company.  After all, Staples is known for their underhanded ways of doing business and of course all of their lies.

I expect to report back in some future post when more is known about this hack, but until then we are all left sitting on our hands.


To those of you who follow this blog through the Blogger service, this message pertains to you.  This site is at

For those who go to the above mentioned site, this will be the LAST post to that site.  I have been thinking about ending support for this site since the WordPress version has caught fire.  However, my answer was made much easier over the last few weeks for the following reasons:

·         Microsoft has discontinued support for Microsoft Live Writer, which was the main program that I used to post to Blogger.  Many of the add-ons haven’t worked for months so the posts got no exposure through Facebook or Twitter.   
·         There were only 2 known followers to that blog site.  Supporting 2 followers is impractical given the time it takes to make a version for Blogger.  If I had more followers, I may have continued to post to that site.  It just is not practical.
·         Finally, Google search only shows my WordPress entries and not the Blogger posts.  It is ironic for an application owned by Google doesn’t even show up in their own search results. 

So overall unless you stumbled upon the blog, you would not even know it existed.  I feel that the time saved in transferring the blog over will allow me to spend more quality time in the WordPress version.  Hopefully, no readers feel slighted by this elimination.  All of the posts will remain on this site until either Blogger is closed down or they decide to close my site down due to inactivity.

In a way, I feel sad about ending that site as this is where it all began but I believe it is the best for everyone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

More Hacking for Your Enjoyment (Part 2)

WARNING: The following blog post contains adult content that may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is highly advised.

This is a story that I was once told by one of the Staples techs never to tell but I feel now is a good time to tell it.

Back about 6 years ago (approximately 9 months before I was forced out of the company), a father came in with his teenage daughter (probably 15 years old) to have some technical work done on her computer. At first this seemed just like every other repair request that is done in our store.

Later that day when the technician started to check out the system integrity, he came across the pictures folder. Interestingly enough, the teenage girl had the setting to show all the pictures in the folder set to large icons.

At this point, the technician clicked on the first picture to enlarge it and discovered something shocking. Here was a picture of that teenage girl displayed in all her naked glory. Yes, she either took a picture of herself or somebody else took a picture of her. The technician and I looked at each other in complete disbelief in what we were seeing and quickly went to the next picture. The next picture was even more disturbing. It was a picture of a teenage guy in his fully exposed birthday suit. At this point the technician looked at no further pictures and decided to quickly continue on with the rest of system integrity investigation.

Disclaimer: I honestly don’t know what the policy of Staples is/was at the time regarding child porn, but I know that it should not be acceptable under any circumstances. Whether the technician should have notified management on what he saw on this machine is debatable, but there was no question of its legality. I also don’t know if the proper authorities should have been contacted over what was on the computer in question. Let me say that I don’t know if this had ever happened before this but if it had, it was never brought up in any discussion. I would also say that I don’t know what the policy of any other retail repair company’s policy is regarding this matter.

The next day when the father and daughter came back in to pick up the laptop, it was obvious from the girl’s expression on her face that she might have realized that something was very wrong with what she had been doing on her computer. Something inside of me was almost tempted to blurt out to the father to say something like “we saw your daughter and a guy naked on her computer”. However my better instincts told me not to say anything like that as I would presume that the girl would never see her next birthday.

Of course this story leads me into the topic of all the celebrity hacking of naked pictures from Apple iCloud services. While some celebrities have denied that the pictures are real, others have said that they are, while a third group has remained on the fence neither confirming nor denying the truth of the pictures.

Like the teenage girl mentioned above, these celebrities certainly should have known better than having pictures of them floating around in the internet despite the fact that they should have been protected in a cloud environment. With so much hacking going on, it was only time before somebody would start hacking cloud services.

While celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence have come out to say that anybody who looks at the pictures are creating a “sex crime”, this is nothing but hypocritical behavior especially since she is the one who posted the pictures online in the first place. To have anybody think otherwise would be stupid.

A week after the first group of celebrity hacked pictures were released; Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook introduced the world to Apple Pay. This new system is supposed to create a sort of virtual wallet for your credit cards on your smartphone so that it would be easier to pay for purchases at retail stores. From what I have read is that this system uses a fingerprint password system on the smartphone to activate the wallet then the customer waves his phone over or around the retailer’s cash register’s pin pad.

While this sounds great in concept, there are 2 major problems that I would like to bring up. The first is that the fingerprint doesn’t have to be a “live” fingerprint meaning that anybody who has access to that fingerprint could use it to access a possibly stolen phone. Of course given the recent problems with the most recent iOS upgrade regarding fingerprint technology, this doesn’t seem as foolproof as it possibly could be or maybe ever be. I expect somebody to be able to hack and workaround that system very soon.

The second problem is the waving of the smartphone over another unit. Anybody who might be nearby could possibly pick up the signal as it is being transmitted from phone to pin pad thereby capturing the credit card information before it is processed. Since many companies have unsecured Wi-Fi access, it probably is the same system that is used to transmit credit card information meaning that a thief may not even have to be close by to steal somebody’s information.

Which finally leads me to this point: Staples is one of the first companies to want to adopt this new Apple Pay system. Given all of the problems with Staples in the past, do we dare trust them to have a secure payment system with this idea? My thought is that no way they can be trusted given their wretched past.

Overall, Apple Pay sounds as safe to use as iCloud. Why not combine the 2 and do full body scanning in the store that way nobody could steal your personal information? On second thought, there would be no more privacy to give up. I really don’t think Staples would really go for that no matter what stupid things they do.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

More Hacking for Your Enjoyment (Part 1)


Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a couple of new security hacks.

One is the celebrity hack of the Apple iCloud system, which I will discuss next time and how Apple will be bad for Staples. Along with that I will discuss the Apple hack itself and the whole privacy thing relating to images. I will say right now that that post will have a reader warning because of the content of the post. I am just preparing the readers now for what could be a possibly offensive post.

Anyway, the subject of this post is the hacking of Home Depot.

As someone who once worked at the late competitor Horny Quarters. Oops, I mean Home Quarters. I will discuss in a future post why I call it Horny Quarters, but for now on with the comparison.

Like Home Depot, Home Quarters was a home improvement store that specialized in virtually everything you need to build, remodel, and maintain a home or other structure. These types of stores carry everything from nails to lumber to appliances. Of course, if you did not know that already, you probably live in a box.

It has been reported that Home Depot was hacked back in April of this year and was not discovered until a couple of weeks ago. This means that several months had passed where this hack took place. It has just been reported up to 56 million cards could have been put at risk, which possibly makes it larger than the attack on Target last year.

As a 7 week employee of Home Quarters as a cashier, I noticed that transactions varied in size from just a couple of dollars for a person buying a hammer and nails to someone buying what seemed to be endless amounts of lumber and other assorted products that added up costing thousands of dollars at the checkout.

Cash was a rarity for form of payment, however, as well as checks both personal and business. Most of the transactions were made by credit card. The majority of the cards were business cards, but about a quartet of the transactions was made by personal credit cards.

Any way you look at it, the hacking of credit cards at a home improvement store could be a boon to anybody who successfully hacks the system. It was not uncommon to have sales in excess of nearly $50,000 in transactions after a 5 or 6 hour day. Of course a longer day would bring that number up by another few thousand dollars.

The biggest problem that I saw as a bad trend with most of the business transactions was that most people didn’t care how much they were spending and really never cared how much they were being charged for any of their items. This presents the scary situation that these same people never check their credit card statements for any possible fraudulent usage.

I believe that is this type of ignorance that creates a hack attack like this to last as long as it did. Add to this the fact that most companies don’t have antivirus software on their machines nor do they update the software on a regular basis and you have the perfect recipe for the type of disaster that has plagued Home Depot, Target and others.

Overall, the hacking will never end as long as systems go unprotected and I still believe that Staples will get hacked eventually if not sooner.

Unless of course it has happened already and they are too ignorant to realize it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Future Mergers?

A couple of weeks ago, Staples announced their quarterly earnings.

Most of the transcript that I read sounded more like the type of gloom and doom that was expected from the company.

Sales are not as good as they have been.

The company wants to shut about 140 stores by year’s end.

The company is shrinking the floor space of their stores as they try to downsize their footprint in the retail world.

And finally, the company is not using weather as an excuse this last quarter for its dismal performance.

So with so much bad news, isn’t it funny that a little bit of sarcasm was injected into the last quarter’s report conference call?

Simply put, one caller wanted to see if putting a Starbucks into Staples stores might help improve traffic and make people want to shop there.

Certainly such an idea should and was laughed off as some sort of joke but truth be told that the company has to do something to help it try to survive in the future.

After this report came out, the company’s stock took a smaller hit than normal, but was still down. However over the last couple of days the stock has gone up to nearly $13/share. So what is happening with the company?

It seems as though Credit Suisse thinks that a Staples/Office Depot would be great for both companies. They assume that the stock would go up to $30/share and that the remaining 2 companies would work great together.

However, I don’t believe this for one moment. The truth is that a merger was denied by the federal regulators last time and I don’t think it would happen now either, so all these people are going on false pretenses of something that could never happen. I expect that the bubble will burst soon in this stock sending it plunging below $10/share very soon.

It may come as late as next earnings report as it seems that the back to school season looks more like bust than a boom.

Why do I say that you ask? Here are some of my observations locally (of course without stepping into a Staples store):

· The Staples ads have been awful this BTS season. People dancing and jumping around just made me nauseous. Nothing was memorable in any of the ads. Target and Walmart ads were no better and quite forgettable.

· Plenty of knapsacks and lunch bags still available at Target and Walmart. This is a sure sign that kids will be using last year’s gear for another year. Unfortunately, this year it seemed that licensed products were quite limited and seems to be a repeat of merchandise of years past.

· Plenty of general school supplies like pens, pencils and paper. Again, it seems parents over bought last year so they have plenty.

· One stop shopping. Forget the ads as everyone seems to be price matching everybody else.

· It seems that from the ads that Staples got rid of that horrible shopping pass that they had the last couple of years. Who really would pay to get a discount? Hopefully that never comes back again.

I don’t believe that any of the stores will have a great back to school season as it seems even this late in the season there is still more than plenty of product on the shelf.

Maybe a Starbucks/Staples/Office Depot merger might be a better idea.

Or maybe not.

Update on Market Basket:

Last time I said that Arthur T. Demoulas wanted to buy the company. Well, since then, he bought the company for $1.5 billion and it seemed almost immediately that the company came back to life.

Our family visited the local store this week and found the store about 70% restocked, but there were many products on the shelves that were at or near their expiration dates. I believe that it will be about another couple of weeks to get new products on all their shelves. However, it seemed nice to shop at a store where employees actually like to work unlike companies like Staples. Market Basket is a model company where the employees are actually happy on their job and it definitely shows.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Market Basketcase

Welcome to the Family Feud Retail Edition!

On one side we have Arthur T. Demoulas (ATD), former CEO of grocery store chain Market Basket.

On the other side we have Arthur S. Demoulas (ASD) who terminated his cousin ATD and has taken over the company.

Well, all would be all good if ASD didn’t want to make some major changes to the company.

First off, let me say that up to about six weeks ago, our family would make the 20 mile trip to the Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford Maine. The trip was well worth every time as the savings were significant. Along with the 4% discount that the company offers on most items, their prices were lower than any of the competitors.

The store was always extremely busy and always had about 2/3 of their registers open during the day.

That was until hell broke loose.

About six weeks ago, the employees started picketing the store about how the company was being operated.

They wanted customers to sign their petitions to give to the board of directors.

I was tempted to sign their petition as they were telling me their gripes.

Amongst their gripes was reduction of hours, change of benefits, and pay cuts.

However it was the last thing they said was the deal breaker and that was that the company had intended to close the Biddeford Maine store.

At that point, I walked inside to start my shopping with my family.

So what was wrong that made me not want to sign: at no point has anybody EVER said that the Biddeford Maine store would ever be closed especially since this store was one of the largest and more profitable stores in the chain. It was also the only one in Maine and has only been open for about a year and occupied the former Lowe’s location.

So my thought was this employee was embellishing his gripes by a falsehood, therefore he wanted to make his story seem even more sad.

However, walking through the store, it was obvious with many empty shelves especially in the dairy and produce sections that fresh products were not going to be available. Overall, we spent about 20 minutes in the store getting a few items and waited nearly that long at the one cashier that was open. Our family decided not to return until everything is settled with the company. And of course, shelves restocked again.

Of course, in that time nothing has been settled and at the time of this writing the following things have happened:

· ATD has offered to buy the company but the board has rejected the offer.

· Part time employees have been eliminated in the local stores and full time employees have reduced hours to compensate for the loss of business.

· Rallies at the home office in Massachusetts by both employees and customers have fallen on deaf ears.

· Employees have been told to get back to work or they would be fired.

· Job fairs were set up to hire new replacement employees.

Overall, this is a very troubled company with employees and customers both fighting against ATD and the board of directors. It seems that neither side is giving in and no end is in sight.

Now, you are probably asking yourself, why am I talking about this company on a anti-Staples blog?

The answer is very simple.

During the last 3 years of my existence with Staples, while the management didn’t change, much of how the company was run did.

Most of the effects applied to full-timers like myself were, but also many applied to the part-timers as well. Amongst the changes were (as of 5 years ago):

· Full time hours were cut from 40 hours per week down to 37 ½ per week. (no notice given)

· How vacation time was allocated and accrued despite agreement at time of hire (again no notice given to the change).

· Benefits reduced at slightly higher cost, not including that when I went on COBRA the benefits went up by a percentage greater than 3000% (not a typo). Of course there was warning about this which is why I cancelled.

· Raises during the last 3 years amounted to less than 25 cents total for the entire time. This was when the company was still expanding and managers were still making sizable bonuses while hourly employees got crap.

There is however one major difference between Market Basket employees and Staples employees and that is that Staples employees could not under any circumstances picket or rally at the stores or at the home office. Doing so would lead to immediate termination.

Since neither company has union employees, it appears that Market Basket is heading in the same direction that Staples is heading in. The big difference is that the management at Staples has not changed whereas the management at Market Basket has. Also customers did not rally in support of the losses that Staples employees were getting because the Staples employees never spoke up because they knew if they did they would get terminated.

Unfortunately, for both companies, it is the management that holds the employees hostage. They can either live with it or they can leave at their own free will.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for me, I had the choice made for me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What the Hobby Lobby Case REALLY Means

A couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court made a ruling in favor of the company Hobby Lobby regarding birth control. In essence, the court decided that the company can prevent women in having 4 types of birth control medications based upon the company’s religious beliefs.

Now I have never been to a Hobby Lobby store nor do I ever plan to. The nearest one to where I live is over 75 miles away and the one in state is nearly 100 miles away. Like the company Chick-fil-A, they are not open on Sundays based upon their religious beliefs.

The big problem that I have with the Hobby Lobby case and one that really can’t be ignored is that this case could be interpreted as giving companies (any company whatsoever) to establish what type of healthcare that any of its employees can receive regardless of what type of care that the employee wants or needs.

Let me reiterate this: your employer will be able to determine what kind of healthcare you can receive and if they don’t like it, well tough luck.

This was exactly what happened to me back when I worked at Staples. I was out of work for nearly 3 weeks when I had a work-related (yes, I said WORK-RELATED) illness. During the time I was out, I received a letter from Staples stating that if I didn’t follow their rules regarding my healthcare, I would be terminated even though those “rules” were never made explicit in any paperwork that I had ever received during my employment with the company. When I brought the letter to the management, they just laughed at the letter as if it didn’t matter at all.

The bad thing is that apparently it DID matter as I was terminated less than 9 months later after my health did not improve and they got tired of dealing with me.

So now you are probably asking yourself, why didn’t I sue the company?

The truth is that I went through the proper channels to get a resolution despite the fact that I didn’t have a lawyer and had to represent myself in a very bad case. What was worse was that neither the state nor federal government did their job properly, which forced my case to be ultimately dismissed and having Staples get away with all the lies that they had built up against me over the years. I will be explaining all of this in further detail in future blog posts.

So, overall, my belief is that Staples along with any company now basically has free rein to allow/disallow anything regarding healthcare that they want. As long as you are under an employee’s health plan, they can do what they want and like with Staples, they don’t even have to tell you ahead of time.

Certainly this is not a result that any employee should be happy about especially those at Hobby Lobby and Staples.