I ran into an interesting marketing scam yesterday.  I was working on my computer when I got an IM from my brother-in-law, with a simple link:  [hisname].yoimgz.com.  He’s a pretty savvy computer user, and he and I have done several websites, so I figured he was doing a new website that he wanted me to look at or had discovered a new service, so I clicked on it.  I got a page that said it was pictures for MSN Friends, and asked me to log into my MSN account to proceed.  Didn’t think much of it, so I did, and then skipped through the next three pages of marketing come-ons.  Unfortunately, that was it.  No pictures from my brother-in-law, or website he was working on…  nothing but ridiculous website marketing.  I figured I must have done something wrong, so I tried it again, and got only one page of marketing, with nothing else.  I went back to my IM client to ask him what the site was, and I had been disconnected from my MSN service.  So I reconnected, but he wasn’t online, so I sent him an email.  A few minutes later I was disconnected from MSN again, so I figured they must be having problems and logged out of MSN altogether.

Several hours later, I got an email from my brother-in-law saying that he had gotten a virus a week ago or so and that I shouldn’t follow the link (too late!) and probably ought to scan my computer, which I did immediately.  Nothing.  I also changed my password on MSN, just for good measure.  Since I still had the history, I went back to the website to see if I could determine what they were trying to do (having a fear that they were phishing or trying to install keylogging, etc.)  I found an interesting legal disclaimer (in gray text, below the normal screen parameters so it wouldn’t be noticable) on the site.  Among other things, it claimed it was a perfectly legitimate “upcomming community” and that, among other things, by signing into your MSN account, you authorized them to “spread the word” about this upcoming site and that you would receive your share of the credit.  It goes on further to state that, by “logging in”, you authorize them to:

“temporarily access your MSN account to do a combination of the following:

1. Send Instant Messages to your friends promoting this site.
2. Introduce new entertaining sites to your friends via Instant Messages.”

Unbelievable, no? They go on further to state that by hijacking your MSN account (of course they don’t use this language, but that is what they are doing), they are not agreeing to MSN’s terms of service and are not bound by them as you are, and that they are governed by the laws of Panama.

So, long story short, be careful of links in an IM, and a site called yoimgz.com.  And if you received a text message from me with a link in it (before I changed my password), hopefully you didn’t click on it, and if you did, change your password and let your friends know about this.  Maybe we can catch up to them…

Update – looks like another of my MSN friends has it, since I just got a text from his MSN account and he’s not online, this one with a link to a “realdealzz.com” website, with my MSN username at the first of it.

A couple of interesting articles in the news recently about private equity’s role in financial institutions:

1.  The Federal Reserve is pondering the role of private equity firms investments in big banks.

2.  TPG is facing some blowback after pulling out of a bank deal in the UK.

In the midst of a bear market, recession, and trying economic times, it will be interesting to see how the times redefine the roles of different market players, especially private equity firms.  You know I will be watching…

One of the hardest things to deal with, both in getting experience through a job, and in investing directly, is patience. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to be back in private equity, and happy to have a good job within a stable company (where I don’t have to fund raise), but I’m getting restless again. The grass is always greener, there’s always something better down the road – you know what I’m talking about? Especially as the frantic and frenzied pace that we’ve been working for the past year (getting a brand new company up to speed and setting up all the processes and procedures to ensure smooth accounting for them) begins to slow down and we start to feel a little more comfortable with where we are at and where we are going. So why would I be restless? For one, I still have a house to sell (been on the market for almost a year now – tough market, and it’s tough to make two house payments every month. Makes me feel like I’m treading water with no actual progress.) For another, I think I’m starting to get bored, which isn’t a good thing either. Three, I’m not getting paid as much as most people at my experience level are, by my own comparisons, and the outlook isn’t great either. Tough to become an angel investor if you don’t have the type of job to make the millions beforehand…

Check this out – some startling (but unnervingly accurate in some cases), predictions from 1900

It’s been a while since I wrote here.  Since then I’ve gotten a Palm Centro (love it, mostly because I was able to get the unlimited data plan from Sprint, so I feel more connected now), started using Google’s Apps for your Domain with my main domain and email address (as well as IMAP access for that – also love it, as it helps me delete messages much less, even though I log on in 3 or 4 places with different mail clients on different computers) (as a side-note, I’ve seen that Google’s Apps for your Domain now has a version for teams to create a short-term team collaborative group – also very cool), started using Google Calendars for scheduling, which have come a long way since the beginning, tested out the free version of GooSync, which so far works flawlessly for syncing my phone calendar with my Google Calendar over the air, subscribed to several new communities, including Facebook, Naymz, and Plaxo Pulse (I’ve also been on LinkedIn for a couple years now.)  With all these new, free and improving tools, I wish I was back in a small business so I could take advantage of all of them (instead of in a bank with a closed network that is more afraid of losing control of everything people do.)  I wish these had been available 10 years ago when I was searching for tools that would do all these things and more.  Lots of new stuff to try out – that’s exactly how I like it!  Now I’m looking for a centralized way to manage all these contacts on the various sites, so I can keep my new phone updated with everyone’s contact information, as well as a way to use Google Talk on my cell phone!  Any suggestions?

If you’re new to the blog, welcome.  It’s my random thoughts, put into words, about a variety of topics.  If you have been here before, you’ll notice that I’ve combined two of my blogs into one.  It was getting too much to keep up two different blogs, on two different platforms, with my new job, which takes a lot of time, so I combined them.  I hope you’ll still get a flavor for what I’m trying to say.

I haven’t had a chance to use much new technology outside of work since my move to Chicago, but I did finally break down and buy a Netgear wireless access point. Buy.com had a reconditioned one on sale for about $30, so I decided it would be worth that to cut the wires. I must say I have been pleasantly surprised. Not only did it come right up, detect my network settings, and automatically set itself up, but the range seems much better than my old Belkin wireless router ever was. Plus it has a button that allows you to turn off the annoying big light on the top that flashes with the connection rate – that’s a relief as well! I’m pleased so far, and highly recommend it.

Hello from my new home in Chicagoland. As I mentioned in the blog earlier, I’ve taken a new position back in the world of private equity. It’s really a better position for me personally, and it gets me back in touch with the people and processes that will be important to me when I finally do become an angel investor. However, I’m not rich and have kids to worry about (schools and all), so I’m now commuting almost 3 hours a day besides regular work, which is busier than my previous “boring” job. Its too bad that these kinds of positions are only available in big city locations, and not the small communities that I prefer. That’s the trade-offs we face in this business though.

I started my new job here in Chicago (very busy) and have rented a place here. Since my mobile phone contract is up, I’m looking into service providers. Everyone here seems to use Blackberrys, so I’m tempted to go that route. My company seems to use either T-Mobile or AT&T Wireless as their service provider, and if they happen to provide me with a phone, I don’t want to be locked into a contract that won’t work with the phone, so the others are out I guess. T-Mobile has better pricing plans and optional services (AT&T’s family plan is ridiculous as far as text messaging and data goes, charging you fees for each line of service, whereas T-Mobile has an option to cover all of your phones with unlimited text messaging for the same monthly fee.), but AT&T has better phones overall. (I can’t believe the iPhone has an exclusive contract with AT&T for two years – unbelievable!) T-Mobile doesn’t even have a Treo, although I could risk getting one and try to unlock it and activate it with T-Mobile. Decisions, decisions…

So I’ve accepted a new job, and am moving to Chicago. Should be a good job (in private equity), so it’ll help me along on the way to the eventual goal of being an angel investor. (Much better than the job I’m leaving as far as progress goes…) I hope you’ll bear with me as I move the family and attempt to get settled…