Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Musical Pitch, the Dummy Version

brass instrument relative sizes
From the annals of the Antisocial Network's musical research section comes today's DotD story. Now we must admit that we don't delve into music very often, probably because the vast majority of musical freelancing is reviews, which are opinion instead of facts. But every once in a while we run across someone making a bogus claim about the science of music (frequencies, wavelengths, that sort of stuff), which is what we have today. Let's see what Aaron Charles (Lundstrom) told the readers of eHow when he attempted to answer that age-old question, "What Instruments Have the Highest Pitch?" (now moved to OurPastimes.com)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Excel Graphs the Dummy Way

linear fit line in Excel with equation
As our staffers wander the internet in search of greedy freelancers to pillory, it's fairly common to come across "how-to" posts that misinterpret the question and end up giving the wrong answer. Today's (returning) DotD nominee, eHowian Amy Dombrower, did just that. Oh, sure, she provided a method that works, but we're almost certain she didn't understand the question of "How to Graph Linear Equations in Excel 2007."¹

Dombrower managed to find some excruciatingly detailed instructions somewhere that will actually allow you to plot a graph of a linear equation, and reworded them so that they might have worked if she had understood the mathematical principles of linear equations in the first place. It's a pretty safe bet the J-school grad didn't study much math, though, given her initial definition:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Getting Level on the Level with Dummies

Carpenter's levels, beam levels
See? the vertical vial is on the end, Dawn
Our research staff are humans, which is to say that sometimes they let some of the dumbassery they uncover slip by. That's what originally happened with today's DotD nominee, a piece written by Dawn Sutton for Demand Media's eHow (now under the umbrella of Leaf Group) titled "How to Check the Level for Plumb." The content looked fine in the first reading; but something nagged at our researcher until he went back and looked again -- and it is, indeed, dumbassery.

We ignore the rather weird construction of "check the level for plumb" because that's the OQ's problem, not Sutton's (it should probably have been "a level," not "the level"). Whatever the case, at first reading Sutton, whose MSW work very likely didn't include wood shop classes, appears to have found an authoritative source to explain something she knows nothing about. Her instructions are,

Saturday, January 28, 2017

File Conversion, the Dummy Version

an example of a .CSV file -- note the commas
See the commas, Amy?
If you're someone who spends a lot of time massaging data, you're probably well aware of the frustration of moving files in and out of multiple applications that "don't talk to each other." If you never use any software other than MS Office, you can stop reading now... but if you work with any technical software at all, you're probably familiar. Although lots of technical software can read CSV files -- "CSV" stands for comma-separated values -- some are flummoxed by other file types. Watch as Techwalla¹ contributor Amy Dombrower attempts to explain "How to Convert a DAT File to CSV," but fails.

Oh, sure, Dombrower gets started right by explaining what .DAT files could have inside:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Dummy Describes Bottled Water

We have to admit that we've never quite figured out why some people insist on drinking bottled water. For one thing, when a sixteen-ounce bottle costs $1.29, the price per gallon is over ten bucks (some of the same people will drive ten miles out of their way to save 2¢ on a gallon of gas), for another most of the "fresh, pure water" comes out of municipal supplies. So why not drink from your own tap (unless, of course, you live in Flint)? Apparently, some folks are afraid of chemicals, so they asked -- and Dawn Sutton of Leaf Group's Sciencing.com sort of answered -- "What Brands of Bottled Water Contain Chloride and Fluoride?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tectonics and Magma, the Dummy Version

Mantle convection cell diagram
Though many college students poke fun at "rocks for jocks," a remarkable number of liberal-arts majors take Geology 101 as their elective science course (physics and chemistry apparently being too "hard"). Sadly, a lot of them don't remember what they learned -- enough of them that as the Antisocial Network staffers search for random scientific inaccuracy, one of the words they search on is "magma." It's cropped up again, this time at the newly-minted Sciencing.com -- Leaf Group's¹ rebranding of science topics from eHow -- where Angela Libal attempted to answer "How Does Pressure Affect Plate Tectonics."

It only takes one paragraph for Libal to run afoul of the facts as geologists know them:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Calculating Runoff the Dummy Way

surface runoff types
To misquote Lewis Carroll, "Oh frabjous day!" We discovered a new Leaf Group¹ niche site where lots of the Antisocial Network's old friends ply their trade. It's called Sciencing.com, and our very first DotD candidate is repeat offender Jack Ori (also known as Stephanie Silberstein), who we found pretending to know "How to Calculate Surface Runoff." Although Sciencing's version is supposedly copyright 2017, the Wayback machine at archive.org has versions at eHow dating back to 2013. Oops...

Monday, January 23, 2017

True a Bike Wheel, the Dummy Version

Mavic Cosmic Elite Bicycle Spokes
If we had to choose one single thing about internet dumbassery that drives our staffers nuts, it would probably be the DIY articles that go into great detail about defining terminology but neglect detailed instructions for the steps. That's why we've brought back Nichole Liandi of the Demand Media (now Leaf Group) stable of freelancers. Today. Nichole's going to explain "How to Tighten Bike Spokes" for their niche site Trails.com. Well, sort of...

Nichole's been here before, having accumulated six previous DotD awards at three different Leaf Group sites, one of which already demonstrated a tenuous grasp on cycling. As usual, the history graduate (not the history of cycling, we suspect) found and reworded a reasonably accurate source. According to Liandi, the steps are simple:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cloning a Laptop the Dummy Way

bulk transfer of files between computers is easy with a data transfer cable
In case you hadn't noticed, no matter what you're measuring half the people in the world are below average.¹ It's amazing how insulted some people get when we say that, which we suspect is a proxy for locating the below-average half. Be that as it may, its a safe bet that half the freelancers writing about computers know less than average -- and today's DotD is a case in point, as Dianne Christensen-Hermance demonstrates a rather tenuous grasp of technology in the eHow post "How to Transfer From Laptop to Laptop" (now appearing² on the niche site Techwalla.com).

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Measuring Screens the Dummy Way

Screen Diagonal
There are some truths in this world that are simply unavoidable. One of those truths it that there is no cure for stupidity. Oh, you can cure illiteracy and lack of education, but stupidity? it's in their genes. We know that because we see examples of this incurable condition almost every day. Take, for instance, eHow's Kristi Roddey, who demonstrated just how dumb you can be and still earn a BA in journalism when she penned "How to Calculate a Screen Diagonal."¹

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weathering and Igneous Rocks, the Dummy Version

different igneous rocks have different weathering rates due to mineralogy
It saddens us here at the Antisocial Network to see stupid answers to simple questions, which is one reason this blog exists. It saddens us even more to see stupid people plying their trade on the internet for money, the other reason this blog exists. When it comes to stupidity, however, we think nothing could be dumber than "answering" a question when you have no idea what it'a about. That's precisely what eHow's Amanda Rumble did, however, when she accepted the challenge "Why Does Basalt Weather Faster than Granite?" (for some weird reason, now at Hunker.com). Of course, her desire to make a fast fifteen smackers had nothing to do with it.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Find Map Coordinates the Dummy Way

map coordinates
Unfortunately, we haven't kept track of how many truly dumbass posts we've come across that deal with reading, making and interpreting maps -- we haven't been sufficiently granular in our topic descriptions (Note to intern: get on that! [intern's reply: Done!]). Unfortunately, maps appear to be as big a black box to the average "communications" or journalism graduate as the household electrical system. Well, at least to eHow's Chad Buleen, whom we caught explaining "How to Get Map Coordinates"¹ -- at least to the best of his limited knowledge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mean, Median and Sample Size: the Dummy Version

sample size vs population
One of the things we've noticed quite often while searching the halls of eHow for bogus freelance jobs is that DotD candidates may do a fairly good job of rewording some very specific information while completely missing the point of the question they're supposed to answer. Say, for instance, going into detail about the habitat and growth habit of Solidago canadensis while neglecting to mention that the flower's color is the source of the name for goldenrod paper. Such is the case of today's candidate, repeat offender Jack Ori (sometimes known as Stephanie Silberstein), caught attempting to explain "The Effect of Sample Size on Mean & Median" for Synonym Science.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Diesel Injectors, the Dummy Version

Cummins 6BT 5.9-liter 12V engine
We took a little poll at the office and learned that no member of our staff at the Antisocial Network has ever owned a diesel vehicle. Heck, some have never owned a gasoline-powered vehicle, either -- "Uber rules!" the kids tell us. Back to the original point, though: none of us has ever performed a tuneup or done any other mechanical work on a  diesel engine, including the 5.9-liter Cummins Diesel 12V, the one used in larger Dodge (later Ram) pickups. That being said, eHow's Greyson Ferguson likely has never done any either, but that didn't stop him from publishing "How to Set Injection Timing Marks on a 5.9 Cummins 12 Valve."¹

Monday, January 16, 2017

Interstellar Distances, the Dummy Version

measuring a parsec, the definition
In case you haven't noticed, more that a few people think that a "light year" is a measure of time. Such is the level of scientific illiteracy that infests society... Sadly, while Americans obsess over the measurements of bubble-butts and the value of the bling stolen from Kim and Kanye, the "other guys" are pulling ahead in STEM like a Harley Fat Boy pulls ahead of a Razor scooter. And people like Joan Whetzel aren't helping, at least not when they infect the internet with drivel like Joan's HubPages post "From the Earth to the Sun."

In her previous appearances on these pages (twenty-two times to date), Whetzel's become the poster child for a lack of attention to detail, poor proofreading skills, and rampant scientific illiteracy. This particular post is no different from her others, opening with prose like:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Digital TV Signals, the Dummy Version

digital converter box hookup for analog television
If you've been in a second-hand store in the past few years, you've probably noticed the large number of big ol' television sets that are available. Not everyone has bought a flatscreen, after all, and those who have often think "I know, I'll donate it to Goodwill!" Of course, a lot of charities no longer accept those huge rear-projection models like everyone used to have in the basement. But if you're wondering whether one of those is a great bargain, you have to take the 2009 Analog to Digital switch into consideration. In other words, you might ask, "Can Analog TV Receive Digital Cable Signals?"¹ With any luck, you won't find the answer Mandi Titus posted at eHow...

Oh, Titus got the basics right, informing her readers that,

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Platinum and Palladium, the Dummy Version

platinum vs palladium
We just love it here at the Antisocial Network when journalism grads start lecturing people on technical stuff. Since so many of them carefully avoided ever taking a single science course after high school, their grasp of even the rudiments of science would be charming if it weren't so infuriating. Take, for instance J-school grad Kimberly Johnson, who we found at Leaf.tv explaining, sort of, "Palladium Vs. Platinum Rings" (relocated from eHow in the Leaf Group reorganization).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cups and Ounces, the Dummy Version

Measuring flour using a common kitchen scale
If you're one of the people that thinks the metric system is confusing, you really should consider the mess the imperial system makes of itself. Take, for instance, the unit known as the ounce: it's used both for a unit of weight (sixteen ounces per pound) and a unit of volume (128 ounces per gallon). The confusion there is probably because the liquid measure is a "fluid ounce." but people are too lazy to say the whole phrase. Never mind that the US fluid ounce isn't the same thing as the British ounce... Anyway, when ti comes to converting between ounces and another unit of volume, it helps to know which ounce you're talking about -- not that Charlotte Johnson of Leaf.tv (formerly eHow) would be any help with her post "How to Calculate Ounces Vs. Cups."¹

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Cutting Gemstones the Dummy Way

cutting or faceting an emerald
One of the Antisocial Network staff researchers was prepping for Leaf.tv week; which basically means "looking for bullshit" on the site. A lot of the website's devoted to food and makeup, topics where we're fairly weak, so she was simply googling random terms. When she googled "circular saw," she was flabbergasted to come across the term in a post by Brendan McGuigan: not only are carpentry projects rare fodder for Leaf.tv (a niche site for women that repurposes old eHow content), the title of McGuigan's piece is "How to Cut Rough Emeralds" (they've taken away Brendan's byline, but not the stupidity).

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Shoe Size Conversion the Dummy Way

converting shoes from Euro to US Sizes
If there's anything in the world of clothing that is more confusing than the mishmash of women's clothes departments -- juniors? misses? petites? -- it's the whole shoe size thing. What on earth does a shoe size of 10½ mean, anyway? We asked an Antisocial Network staffer what it all meant, and he admitted that he had no idea. Apparently it's a trade secret... To make matters worse, you can now buy shoes with "Euro" sizing. Instead of the familiar 7, 8, and 9; these shoes are sized 39, 42, 45, etc... Well, we looked to Leaf.tv for help and found that multiple DOTD winner Alicia Bodine had written "How to Convert a Euro Shoe Size to a US Shoe Size." Her only problem was that, unfortunately, she was full of it.

Just as she did her other five times, Bodine started tossing around the bull almost immediately:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tanning Beds, the Dummy Version

home tanning bed
A favorite trick of the self-appointed freelancers at eHow, the Demand Media website, was to search the available topics for keywords related to their supposed areas of expertise. The website's rather strange architecture sometimes placed how-to articles in unusual places, which is probably how the question of "Instructions for Wiring a Tanning Bed" ended up in wellness instead of somewhere a person with at least a rudimentary knowledge of electrical work could attempt to answer it. Money being money, however, Krista Raye fired up that BA in English of hers and jumped right in. She shouldn't have...

Raye, however, took on this challenge, informing her readers that it is the tanning bed buyer's responsibility to

Monday, January 9, 2017

Making Corundum the Dummy Way

Synthetic red corundum ruby
As our researchers wander around the internet looking for abject stupidity published by self-appointed freelancers -- and let us tell you, finding it isn't all that hard -- we watch certain topics mainly because we have in-house expertise. So when we learned that Leaf Group (formerly Demand Media) shoved a lot of jewelry topics into their Leaf.tv site, we figured it was only a matter of time before we found some stupidity about minerals. It was... and here's Neal Litherland to do a lousy job of answering the question "How is Corundum Made?"

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hair Dryers and Dim Lights, the Dummy Version

brownout. not power surge
In what we suspect is one more attempt to defeat those pesky Google updates, the folks at Demand Media not only started separating our their eHow content into various niche sites (e.g., Techwalla.com), the company recently changed its name to Leaf Group. In honor of this change, this week we'll feature legacy DMS dreck ported from eHow to Leaf.tv, a site that (according to the DMS entry at wikipedia, is a company that produces "high-quality content for women"). We're starting simple, with newbie Andrew Hazleton and an article entitled "Why Do Hair Dryers Cause Power Surges?"

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Siphons: the Dummy Version

Siphoning a Waterbed Mattress
Remember waist-length hair (on guys), paisley-print shirts and bell-bottom jeans? Yeah? Well, you're either a throwback millennial or someone who survived the sixties -- either way, you probably have (or had) a waterbed. The two biggest problems with a waterbed are filling and emptying the darned thing, so it makes some sense that someone would come to the internet to learn how. We'd rather, however, that someone who knows how to empty a waterbed would answer them, as opposed to junk like "Siphoning a Waterbed" at TheBump.com, written by Alec Preble.

Because he has to (it was required at eHow, who sold his article to TheBump), Alec explains that

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hard Drive Recovery, the Dummy Version

laptop hard drive HDD
There is nothing -- and we do mean nothing -- more frustrating for computer users than discovering the hard drive in your laptop or desktop has gone belly-up. We know that for a fact, because it's happened to us several times. Fortunately, there are people out there who can help you, though you should be prepared to pay, and handsomely, for the service. Unfortunately, the kind of people who can help you do not include the likes of Nichole Liandi, whose eHow article "How to Fix a Crashed Hard Drive"¹ migrated over to Techwalla somewhere along the line. Still stupid, though...

Oh, Nicky (or is it "Nichy"?) certainly comprehends the misery:

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Making a Frame the Dummy Way

what a box joint really looks like
Most of the Antisocial Network's awardees from good ol' eHow¹ could have avoided the (dis)honor by simply passing up questions about stuff they didn't know. Some, however, have compounded their error by answering questions that, frankly, make no friggin' sense. That's what we found for today's honoree, newbie Daniella Lauren, who attempted to address the topic of "How to Join Wood Frames"²... and failed miserably.

Lauren, whose educational background is in history and elementary education (fields where they apparently don't teach wood shop), started out by telling any readers who wander by that

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Paper and Insulation, the Dummy Version

thermal conductivity
We like a good joke from time to time, and one of our favorites is the one about mankind's greatest invention. One person answered "the wheel," one answered "fire," and the dummy answered "a thermos bottle." When asked why the thermos bottle, the dummy answered, "It keeps hot things hot. It keeps cold things cold. How does it know?" Well, it's for sure that our old friend Lexa W. Lee couldn't help answer that question, as she proved in her post to Leaf.tv, "What Makes Paper a Good Cup Insulator?

We've seen Lee's work before, and this one's in keeping with her typical pattern; citing what she considered an authoritative reference in her very first sentence:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Onyx, the Dummy Version

The freelance contributors to the Demand Media group of content farms have long been derided for their weak grasp of basic facts, especially in science and technology. Apparently paying college liberal arts and journalism grads who aren't making enough as baristas to write STEM content doesn't quite work. Take, for instance, "retired" professional trainer Marie Mulrooney of Leaf.tv (a "retiress" whose profile picture looks about 23); back for her third award in "How to Clean a Black Onyx Ring."

We won't argue (much) with Mulrooney's instructions, since they're pretty much reworded directly from some website that sells jewelry. Of course, the instructions reinforce the idea that onyx is "porous," which is utter bullshit in a mineralogical sense. What the jewelers actually mean is that the polished surface of a cabochon or other cut might start looking cloudy if it gets too wet too often, but that's no problem in reality.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bathroom Sconce 101, the Dummy Version

bathroom vanity with sconce lighting
Our Antisocial Network staffers absolutely hate it when they come across some freelancer pulling that old bait and switch in their writing. You know what we mean; like titling a piece "How to Win the Lottery" and then filling it with information about where lottery tickets are sold... crap like that. Today's DotD candidate is Sara Shea of Catalogs.com, who pulled a bait and switch by titling her piece "Installing bathroom sconce lighting." After the title, though, she said nothing about installing. Period.

Well, we take that back: she did refer to an eHow title "How to Install a Wall Light," but for some reason her link ito that content redirects to an SFGate post on how to hang a chandelier in a two-story foyer, which we submit is not the same thing... but we digress. Shea has a lot of boilerplate crap about the history of sconces, including such useful information for would-be bathroom decorators as

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Horsepower and Speed: the Dummy Version

Probably nothing an internet freelancer does gets our attention faster than answering the unanswerable question. Donald Rumsfeld and his "unknown unknowns" aside, some questions are either so vague or mindless as to be unanswerable, and some simply don't give enough information to allow a useful answer. Today we'll take a look a multiple DotD winner Chance E. Gartneer (an anagram of his real name, we presume) and his alleged instructions (originally on Synonym Science, since moved to Sciencing.com) for the nonsense topic "How to Convert Horsepower to Miles per Hour."¹