Sunday, September 8, 2019

Fake and Counterfeit Academic Degrees Are Everywhere: How to Spot Them

 The proliferation of online degree programs, many of them legitimate, has encouraged some groups to offer fake degrees to anyone with sufficient money. Here are just a few ideas to help employers avoid hiring people who present fake or counterfeit degrees or certificates as a means of getting a job or a promotion.

First, what is a fake degree? A fake degree is a diploma (such as an MA or PhD) that has been purchased from a degree mill that is not a genuine college or university and that requires little or no academic work. Give me $100 and I'll send you a PhD in Interpersonal Counseling or Social Accommodation Theory. For an extra $50, I'll send you a set of transcripts listing all the courses  you took to qualify. And for another $100 (I'm just making all these numbers up as examples, since prices vary), I'll send you the dissertation you, uh, "wrote."

I don't want to be sued, so I'll keep these tips general and simply state that these are  red flags, if not screaming evidence.

1. Find the school's web site. In the United States, virtually every college and university's online presence has an .edu (for "education") domain. If the place your candidate got a degree from has a .com (for commercial) domain, be very suspicious. The same caution holds for .org domains.

2. What is the university's web site URL? Oddly enough, many of the questionable sites have the word "university" as part of the URL, as in www.riverbottomuniversity.com.

3. Go to the university's web site and read some of the text. If the text appears to have been written by a non-native English speaker, be very cautious. Here are some examples:
+ "comprehensive curriculum that prepare you to face"
+ "interested in obtaining high level of education and expertise"
+ "Earning a doctoral program, adds credibility to your academic profile"
+ "Develop Expertise that are Essential for Successful Career in the Long Run."
+ "Dissertation: For successful completion of doctoral program, it is must for students to complete their research work...."

4. Admission requirements. Are there objective, third-party assessments required for admission? SAT, LSAT, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT? What are required scores? If there are no or only pro forma admission requirements, be suspicious.

5. Graduation requirements. Read the requirements (or call the institution) and find out if credit is given for "life experience" or "career accomplishments" so that the number of required units is lessened or eliminated. How many classes and units are required? Is there the possibility of waiving some or all of the required work?

7. Is the institution accredited and if so by whom? There is actually a Council for Higher Education Accreditation that lists the credible and authoritative accrediting organizations.  https://www.chea.org/.The  United States Department of Education also accredits American higher education institutions. See the site at https://www.ed.gov/accreditation?src=rn.
Go to the institution's web site and search on "accreditation." There should be ample evidence of accreditation by one or more of the legitimate organizations listed on CHEA.

8. If  you are still in doubt about the genuineness of your candidate's degree, have him or her come in (or video conference by phone using Skype or WhatsApp) and discuss a paper or two or the dissertation submitted for the degree.

9. Other resources to help evaluate the quality of a higher education institution. (Listed for information only; not endorsed or guaranteed.)
https://www.geteducated.com/diploma-mill-police/degree-mills-list
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unaccredited_institutions_of_higher_education
https://thebestschools.org/magazine/online-college-vs-diploma-mills/

A Counterfeit degree is a certificate copied from a real degree (from a  genuine, accredited institution of higher learning), with a faked name, degree, date, etc. If you suspect that your job applicant does not really have the degree claimed, in spite of sending you a photocopy, call the institution and ask.

Unfortunately, you just can't be too trusting these days. 
If you know the techniques for interviewing people suspected of plagiarism, you can often use them profitably by interviewing a  job candidate or employee, also.

+++



Saturday, July 27, 2019

DOSS Touch Wireless Speaker Investigative Review

If you have not read my previous review of the DOSS Touch Wireless Speaker, I recommend you look at it for an overview of  the unit. This review includes the results of a set of "Bass Performance" tests, designed to discover how to get the best bass from the unit.

Background: Bass sounds are at the lower end of the audio frequency spectrum. The lower the bass sound, the larger the size of the sound wave. To generate a low-frequency sound wave in a speaker, the size of the speaker and the amplifier power needed to drive the sound must be big. That's why you see 250 watt amplifiers and 15-inch woofers. So how can the dinky 1.5-inch speakers in the DOSS Touch unit have any hope of producing a deep bass sound?

The answer lies in the way sound waves can propagate. In brief, if you are a tiny speaker that by itself cannot produce a sound down to, say 40 Hz, then you get help from the surface you are sitting on. In other words, since sound is just vibrating air, the little speakers can vibrate a relatively large surface and the surface will act similarly to a woofer. That's what a "passive radiator" does: it radiates vibrations from the dinky speakers to the surface where the speaker is sitting and the surface vibrates at a much lower frequency, creating a richer bass than the unit by itself can produce.

Okay, okay. So just what effect can placing the unit on various surfaces have on delivering better bass? Here are the results of my own, highly subjective testing. The table shows the degree of bass enhancement provided by each surface or setup, with better bass being indicated by more plus (+) signs.

Music: "What a Feeling" from Flashdance

Bedroom Floor, upstairs, laminate: +++
Bed, bedroom: ++
Bathroom, tile floor: ++++
Bathroom, tile floor, DOSS Touch positioned facing a wall, 8 inches from wall: +++++
Kitchen, Quartz counter top: +++
Open room, DOSS Touch suspended on a 2 foot by  2 foot piece of 1/4 inch plywood: ++++
Open room, DOSS Touch suspended on 2 foot by 1.5 foot plastic storage bin lid: ++
Laminated particle board desk, facing listener, 1 foot from edge: ++++
Laminated particle board desk, unit facing wall, 8 inches from wall: +++++
Listener lying on back, DOSS Touch placed facing listener at bottom of rib cage: ++++

Conclusions
The bounce created by placing the DOSS Touch about 8 inches away from a wall, facing the wall provided the richest, best bass response--and that is a great sound. Just by itself the unit puts out a surprisingly rich low frequency range, entirely unlike the screech and slap "music" put out by the previous generations of tiny speakers.

The other notable discovery is that a listener can truly feel the music by placing the DOSS
Touch on the ribs, so that the base of the unit is over the last two inches of the rib cage. As noted above, that experiment earned a ++++ score on our evaluation.

Random tips:
To turn the unit on, press and hold the round button on the back until you hear the first of three chimes. Then release the button.

For first time paring, put your phone or tablet in Bluetooth ON mode. Then turn on the DOSS Touch. Your phone or tablet will show all the available Bluetooth objects. If you don't see a listing for DOSS Touch right away, click on the Bluetooth address, such as FC:58:FA:EF:C1:DD and soon the name DOSS SoundBox will appear and connect. Next time, pairing will be quick and automatic and the SoundBox will play some tones to let you know that is is connected.

Note that the DOSS Tech will automatically connect to the last device when  you turn it on. So, if you want to connect it to a different device, you must first disconnect the previous one. So, to change from your phone to your tablet, first disconnect your phone.

To increase volume, use your finger to wipe around the blue circle on top in a clockwise direction. When you hear a beep, the DOSS Tech is at full volume. It should be  quite loud. If not, you must increase the MEDIA volume on you phone or tablet.

I've been using the DOSS Touch SoundBox regularly since I got it and I continue to be impressed by the music it renders. When you can't listen to music on your home system, such as at the beach, in the park, on the lunch tables at work, this unit is worth your serious consideration.

Still recommended.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth V4.0 Portable Speaker Review

This is a review of the DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth V4.0 Portable Speaker with HD Sound and Bass, 12 Hour Playtime, Built-in Mic, Portable Wireless Speaker for iPhone, Samsung (Black).

Talk about exceeding expectations, this DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth speaker was a pleasant surprise out of the box. I had begun to wonder--that is to say, I had come to doubt--whether any small speakers could put out decent midrange music, much less, any sound that one would identify as bass. I  had been to many Consumer Electronics Show expos, where 20 or 43 vendors all featured those tennis-ball sized speakers and swore that the music was fantastic (it was almost always acid rock so no one could tell whether or not it was any good). One booth had daisy chained a dozen or more of those itty bitty speakers together, in hopes, I suppose, that the combination would produce both better volume and better sound. But the result was, "BZZZZT. Thank you for playing. Next!"

I am also quite skeptical of product reviews since they can be faked to support one's own product or criticize a competitor's product. (And often, the most negative reviews seem to reveal that the person condemning the product didn't follow the directions.)

But all that to say that I really wanted to get a small, stereo, portable, Bluetooth speaker that I could carry easily and connect to a phone or tablet. So I did a bunch of research. Reviews, specifications, thinking, and doing some decision making activity all led me to take a chance on the DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth speaker. According to the specifications listing, the unit contains  two 1.5 inch, 6 watt speakers (for a total of 12 watts) and a 2.6 inch passive (bass) radiator. The unit weighs 560 grams or 19.75 ounces (19.6 on my postal scale). While there is no necessary correlation between weight and sound quality, if you have had any experience with those little, mostly plastic speakers for your phone or PC, speakers that if you sneeze will be blown off the table, speakers that produce pretend music, then the attention-getting weight of the DOSS Touch Wireless speaker unit creates a feeling of hopefulness. "There just might be something here that actually works," I thought.

And I was right. Whether you want to play "What a feeling" from Flashdance, Beethoven's Emperor Concerto (even at low volume), Elvis' "His Latest Flame," Pharrell Williams' "Happy" with crisp top-hats on the drums, "Far Away" by Libera, with its high vocals and cathedral acoustics, the DOSS Touch Wireless Bluetooth speaker unit will do it justice.

 OF COURSE, the sound won't match what your $3,000 home entertainment system can produce, but the sound is very, very good I think. No doubt your home entertainment system rolls down the bass to 40Hz or even lower, and up to, say 22,000 Hz. The DOSS unit specifications lists a range of 100 to 18,000 Hz. Not 20,000? Well, most men by age 35 can't hear above 15,000, and even if you can hear tones that high, there isn't all that much up there.

Signal to noise ratio is listed at greater than 55 decibels.

I haven't listened to the fancier units, so they may or may not reward the extra cost. But this 12 Watt Bluetooth unit will allow you to enjoy those 50-song YouTube mixes, or the radio, or your downloaded music all day long.

Recommended.


Sunday, July 21, 2019

OneOdio Studio DJ Monitor Stereo Over the Ear Headphones Review

I had been using some inexpensive, on-the-ear headphones for quite a while, when I took on the project of finding and sharing some "action-adventure" music with a friend. In order to let him hear the true sound (and feel) of the music, I needed better sound reproduction. I searched Amazon up and down and compared features and reviews before deciding to give a try to the OneOdio Studio DJ Monitor Stereo Over-the-Ear Headphones.

Out of the box, I was quite impressed with the flexibility of the phones, but my main concern was the sound. Would it be any good? Answer:  To my 68-year-old ears, it is excellent. Rich, satisfying bass was my number one consideration, and the OneOdio Studio delivers. The higher sounds are crisp and clear also. No doubt the 50mm drivers have a lot to do with the bass quality.

In addition to the beautiful sound, these headphones are amazingly feature rich:

  • The audio cable is 9 feet long, so you can plug it into the phones and to your TV.
  • One end of the audio cable has a 3.5 mm plug and the other end of the cable has a 6.3 mm (1/4 inch) phono plug. Now here's the flexibility: Plug the phono plug into the headphones and the 3.5 mm plug into your phone, tablet, aux out, amplifier, iPad, notebook PC, or desktop PC .  Or, plug the 3.5 mm plug into the headphones (yes, there are both jacks on the phones) and the phono plug into your amplifier, mixing board, turntable, guitar, keyboard, or other device.
  • More flexibility. Plug into the headphones into the left ear socket (the 6.3 mm phono plug) and another cable into the 3.5 mm plug on the right side of the phones and you can share the signal with another pair of headphones.
  • A short cable with a microphone in it is also included.
  • The soft, over-the-ear cushions are very comfortable for long-term wearing.
  • The headphones are apparently designed to be worn on top of the head, but I adjust mine down and sometimes wear them behind the head.
Perhaps the $300 headphones sound better than the OneOdio Studio headphones, but if you're in the market for some very satisfying, comfortable, high-quality headphones (with 50mm drivers, no less), these are to my mind--make that, to my ears--an excellent choice.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Alpatronix CX102 QI Wireless Charging Pad Review

A just-too-quick wave filled the charging socket with sand on my wife's Samsung Galaxy S7. We tried to blow out, shake out, tap out, and pick out the sand, but the port was just inoperable. We went to the wireless provider store, where, after some further ineffective attempts to fix the socket, they suggested a new phone. Then one of the reps said, "Why don't you just use a wireless charger? They are only $40." I thought that was a good idea, but wife nixed it.

When we returned home, I went to the local wireless store, where they offered a brand-name wireless charger for $60. I declined and went home to Amazon. After several hours of research, I bought three Alpatronix CX102 chargers. I have all three installed and working. They are well designed, well made, attractive and, of course, functional. And they are among the lowest priced chargers currently available. The descriptions of these chargers are often confusing, so here is a brief clarification:

1. Wireless chargers are called wireless because you don't need to plug the phone in to anything. You simply place the phone on the charging pad and the phone will charge. The phone must have an internal, inductive charging capability. Samsung and Apple phones as well as many others have this capability. You can  google your phone withe a question to find out if it supports wireless charging. (Does my Xoompa phone support wireless charging?)

2. The charging pad must be plugged into a USB wall connector, which is not supplied with the pad. You can use the wall adapter that you use every day to charge your phone. The Alpatronix CX102, like most of the other charging pads, comes with the pad and a USB cable.

3. Speed of charging is determined by the wall adapter and by the phone's capability. If you have one of those swap meet $5 adapters, you will get a 5 watt charging speed on most any phone. If you have an iPhone, and if  you use the Apple adapter, you will get a 7.5 watt charging speed. If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone, you will get a 10 watt charging speed. Selection and switching are automatic.

4. To use. plug the USB cable into the charging pad and into the adapter and then plug the adapter into a wall outlet. A green light will come on, indicating that the pad is ready. Place your phone on the pad. The green light will begin to flash. When charging is complete, the green light will return to a steady glow.

I've been using the CX102 for only a couple of days, so this review will need an update at some point. But so far, these units work as well as the higher priced pad I bought first. And the Alpatronix comes with much better documentation.

So far, I highly recommend them.

According to the packaging, the Alpatronix CX102 meets the Qi (pronounced CHEE) open interface standard for wireless power transfer, the FCC standard for conformity and the CE European standard for safety. And it comes with a great warranty.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Channellock GLS-3 Griplock Plier Set Review

I've been using Channellock tools (needle nose pliers, wire cutters, linesman's pliers, and water pump pliers (aka slip joint wrenches) for about 50 years. They are excellent in quality, design, and usability. They are my go-to tools.

While watching a repair show, noticed some repairmen recommending Knipex pliers for their grabbing ability. The guys were salivating over them because of their ease of use and quality German manufacturing. So I did a little research and discovered that a set of three 7, 10, and 12 inch pliers is about $90 on Amazon. Then I discovered on YouTube some video reviews for Channellock pliers, a set of 6, 10, and 12 inch pliers for $29. I love the design, with the angled head and the cut jaws that allow an unslippable grip on bolts and nuts.

So I ordered the Channellock set. The pliers are an amazing bargain and they are lighter than the old, flat jawed versions. The pliers are very well made (in the USA), and they feel great in my hand. Like the Knipex models, the Channellock pliers feature the cut jaws that allow a positive grip on angled work. Grab one of these and you can imagine removing that water pressure reducer, tightening that air hose coupler, or installing the new shower head in the bathroom.

I like these so much that I'm thinking about ordering a second set, for jobs where it is necessary to have two pliers on a tightening or loosening job.

Highly recommended.



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Beware of Avas Flowers--Why I Will Never Use Avas Flowers Again

I was totally fooled and conned by the Avas Flowers web site, from beginning to end. I wanted to send someone flowers from a local florist in Garden Grove, California, so I googled "Garden Grove Florist" and the "Avas Flowers Garden Grove" web site came up. This is the first deception. There is no Avas Flowers in Garden Grove, California. The Avas company simply displays a fake web site with the name of the city that the searcher typed in added in. So if you searched for "Tustin Florist" you'd get a fake web site with the logo "Avas Flowers Tustin" displayed. It turns out that the Avas company is just another flower drop shipper like 800Flowers or ProFlowers. Avas is just an order taker that forwards the order to a real florist nearby the city you choose, adds a substantial markup and lets you pay them.

The second deception was in the offer of "Free Delivery." When my order was completed, the final billing screen said "Delivery: Free" but there was a $15 "Handling Fee" added on, which was not disclosed until the last moment. Can you imagine, "Free oil for your oil change [but there's a $100 pouring fee]"?

The third deception was the size of the bouquet. On the selection screen, I chose a bouquet labeled $43. When I went to the next page, there was a "Choose the size" option, with the radio button preselected on a more expensive size. The choices all appeared the same on the screen, so it was not clear how big a bouquet I was choosing.

Deceptions four was that I paid extra for a "large greeting card." The bouquet was delivered with half a sheet of plain, folded paper, no cardstock, no envelope, and the words broken in half at the ends of the lines.

Deception five was that I chose three balloons at extra cost. The bouquet was delivered without balloons.

The $43 bouquet was about the size of a $30 bouquet elsewhere, and with the extras and "handling fee" added, cost me about $80.

Caveat emptor: buyer beware.

"Free delivery from Avas Flowers of  Garden Grove." Yeah. Right. And did I mention that was with a claimed "online only" discount of 45%?

That's what I get for clicking on an ad in the search results. Not anymore.