Tuesday, February 28, 2017

WiFi Passwords the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLX

Router Information plate, sometimes but not always location of WiFi password
The word "hacking" seems to be in the news quite a bit these days... yet only a few people seem to remember that a hack is supposed to be a good thing... but we digress. Apparently some people don't know how to find wifi passwords, and that's pretty frustrating. If you're one of them, what do you do? Well, chances are pretty good you'll look on the 'net -- but you probably don't want the quality of advice you'll get from James Wiley, who penned "How to Get a WiFi Password" for the folks at Techwalla.

For starters, Wiley thinks the only reason to want a WiFi password is because...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Downspouts, the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLIX

Not the way to use a splash block if you want to protect the foundation
Today's example of utter stupidity is somewhat different from the usual name-calling and snarkiness we employ here at the Antisocial Network. Instead of calling out, by name, some greedy freelance writer spreading bullshit on the internet; we're going to feature a real-life example of an anonymous dumbass doing something utterly stupid out in the real world. Here's the story:

One of our staffers was walking the dog past an apartment complex in suburban Indianapolis recently and spotted something truly stupid. What he saw was probably done by the maintenance man at The Fort Apartments. Take a look at the picture to the right.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Squirrel-proofing the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLVIII

squirrel baffle on bird feeder pole
You know those click-bait images that show up everywhere these days -- like "the government of [your location here] doesn't want you to know about this one simple trick..." and similar crap? That's bait-and-switch, and it's far from the first time it's been used on the internet. Back when content farms were running wild and people could rake in the bucks for the most trivial crap, people like ParaGod at InfoBarrel.com were everywhere, dumping out crappy content like "Bird Feeders Squirrel Proof Can Preserve Bird Seed And Save Money." Talk about your keyword stuffing: that title doesn't even make sense!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Drilling for Oil the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLVII

rotary drilling rig
There's a former oil-company geologist on staff who, from time to time, rails about the public's utter ignorance of how the oil and gas business works. Sure, ExxonMobil and BP make boatloads of bucks, but the real fact is that it's the mom-and-pop operators who hold the leash on people like Scott Pruitt, not Shell Oil. One of the reasons they get away with it is that people like eHow's Jason Chavis are ignorant about the business, as Chavis proved by writing "What Is Oil Drilling?" for the mother lode of misinformation.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Linear Feet of Space, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCLVI

linear feet of shelving vs total volume
We have, frankly, lost count of how many times eHowians have proven ignorant of the concept of "linear feet," especially if we throw in the terms linar yards and linear meters. For some reason -- stupidity, think -- these people just can't seem to capture the essential nature of a linear foot. Take, for instance, Soren Bagley, who tried to explain "How to Calculate Storage Space Using Linear Feet" for the mother lode of dumbassery, Demand Media (now known as Leaf Group). Apparently that English Lit degree wasn't much help...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Slopes and Area, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCLV

calculating the area of a tilted plane or sloped surface
While most of the truly mind-bendingly dumb stuff on the internet hides in political arguments on social media, the Antisocial Network researchers prefer to stick to the insidious rubbish in the world of "how-to" and "informative" posts by greedy people when looking for their DotD candidates. You know, instructions published by people who don't know how to carry them out, information cut-and-pasted by people who didn't know how to spell the topic before googling it, and so forth. Or, to be specific, the kind of mind-rot found published to eHow by one James Wiley in "How to Calculate the Area of a Sloped Surface."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tundra for Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCLIV

tundra biome
Look, Frederick: no trees!
Old-timey television host Art Linkletter had a program called "Kids Say the Darnedest Things" (Bill Cosby resurrected the concept in the '90s). The show featured clips of kids making unbelievable claims and saying truly stupid -- but cute as heck -- stuff. When those kids grow up, however, unbelievable claims and truly stupid stuff aren't cute any more. Take, for instance, Leaf Group's Frederick S. Blackmon, whom we found attempting to explain "What Causes a Tundra to Form?" on their Sciencing.com niche site (it used to be at eHow -- why doesn't that surprise us?)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Charging a Battery the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLIII

Car Battery Charger hookup
Sometimes one of our research team will read through an online post, think "OK," and move on to the next one -- only to realize a moment or two later that there was a kernel of dumbassery buried in the text. That happened recently when one of the kids was browsing the work of longtime eHowian Larry Parr: she came across one of Parr's posts titled "How to Charge a New Car Battery" at Leaf Group's niche site OurPastimes.com. And about two articles later, she suddenly realized that Larry's a dumbass...

Monday, February 20, 2017

Shorten a Table the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLII

Self-appointed freelance "experts": you gotta love 'em, especially the ones who claim to be "award-winning." You always wonder, what awards have these people won? the award of having mommy put your latest artwork in the Amana Gallery when you were nine? Whatever the case, we try to never fall for the self-hype. such as that claimed by "award-winning designer" Gina Samarotto (who's also a freelance journalist? and has time to win design awards? s-u-u-ure...) when she attempted to impress people with her design skills in "How to Lower the Height of a Table" for Leaf Group's TheBump.com.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Wonders of Plywood, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCLI

Back in about 2011, Google changes their search algorithm to give lower value to content farms. As a result, places like Associated Content, helium, BrightHub and Squidoo withered and died. perhaps the worst offender, eHow, managed to stay afloat by tightening their "standards"; although any tightening was mainly in the area of format -- not content quality¹. Much of their earliest content, rubbish vomited up by total incompetents, remains online -- as is obvious from today's DotD entry, Andrew DeWitt and his amazing "Advantages of Plywood."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Same Oil Misinformation, Different Dummy - The Freelance Files DCCL

parts of an oil rig for drilling
It's been quite a while since our staffers 1) skewered some idiot from HubPages.com and 2) raked some fool over the coals for misinformation about the oil business. Today, we're gonna rectify that long silence: the victim of the day is some character who publishes his "hubs"under the handle tjar12, but a little googling finds he's a guy by the name of Tim Archbold. We have no idea why he thinks he's knowledgeable about "Oil Exploration and Drilling - How is Oil Found?"; but the sad fact is that he isn't...

Like so many others who attempt to explain the black box that "makes our gasoline," Archbold peppers his long and rather convoluted article with bits and pieces of misinformation, erroneous assumptions, and incorrect factoids. We decided the easiest way to perform our skewering is to address (some of) the mistakes one by one, so here goes:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tubular Locks, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCXLIX

Keyhole for a tubular lock
The keyhole for a tubular lock
There's no doubt about it: here at the Antisocial Network we get a lot of headaches attempting to read the ridiculous content of some of our DotD candidates. While some of them make mistakes because they simply don't have the background necessary to write about their topics, a few seem to live in a place where "alternate facts" are perfectly acceptable. Take, for instance, eHowian Alec Preble: one of his favorite tricks is to provide a general (and probably wrong) "solution" to a specific question, while citing an offline reference. The English BA pretends to know "How to Install a Tubular Lock" when in reality he has no idea how to install a lock at all.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Find Your Altitude the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCLXVIII

It never ceases to amaze our researchers just how... let's be nice and say "clueless" some of the freelancers out there actually are. Some, we suspect, are willfully ignorant; a category that seems to include many who "answer" questions at eHow.com. We think that may be why today's DotD candidate, Jonra Springs, chose to address "How Do You Measure Altitude?" in a rather clumsy (and not terribly accurate) fashion. Then again, it might simply be because Springs knew even less than the person asking the question.

Now for our money (which isn't much), the person asking that question isn't looking for instructions on using an altimeter -- but that's what they got. Sadly, Jonra couldn't even get that right, rolling out such ludicrous claims as

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Camry Cooling, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DCCLXVII

replace-radiator-cooling-fan
Yup, just slap your wrench on, right Emile?
You find ectoplasmic beings roaming your house, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters, of course! You discover that the radiator fan on your car doesn't run, who you gonna call? Well,as far as we know there's no "fanbusters" out there, so you're probably going to look for an auto mechanic. We know we'd prefer to get our DIY car-fixing advice from someone with grease under his nails than a guy who thinks he's a "professional writer" because he published in a student newspaper... but eHow let Emile Heskey (not the footballer) pretend to help you solve your problem in "The Cooling Fans Won't Run in a Camry." Bad choice, eHow...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Maps, Grids, and Coordinates, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCLXVI

reading map grid coordinates
One of our founders worked for many years making maps. By his count, he's probably pumped out several hundred thousand big sheets of paper and/or digital representations of the earth, both its surface and subsurface features. Along the way he learned quite a bit about map projections and coordinate systems. To be blunt, he says he forgets a helluva lot more about those subjects in a single day than Sciencing.com's Tasos Vossos ever knew. Should you need any proof of Vossos' unfamiliarity with the topic, look no further than "How to Convert Map Grid Coordinates to Latitude and Longitude."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Dummy Attacks Roofs - The Freelance Files DCCXLV

reverse gable dormer roof
As the Antisocial Network research staffers wander the internet looking at the stupid things freelancers say for money, they come upon many an instance in which it's hard to tell whether the writers botch information because they're ignorant or because they're lousy writers. In the case of Tyler Lacoma, the guy claims to be a professional writer, so his misinformation in eHow's "What Is a Reverse Gable Roof?" must be a result of his ignorance. Right?

Lacoma, who's here for the second time, blows his answer by the eleventh word in his introduction (75 to 100 words, mandated by eHow's style guide):

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gas Appliances, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCXLIV

gas dryer connection
Where's the "return" line, Kurt?
It's not unusual for our researchers to run across a stupid question while wandering the pages of eHow or some other niche site published by Leaf Group (the former DMS, or Demand Media Studios¹). We all know it's possible to answer a stupid question without being condescending or, worse, stupid yourself. Apparently Kurt Schanaman isn't so good at answering stupid questions, though, as he amply demonstrated while explaining "How to Tell an Electric Dryer from a Gas Dryer" for the mother lode of misinformation, eHow.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mars Facts, the Dummy Version - The Freelance Files DCCXLIII

comparison of Mars and Earth
A lot of our staffers here at the Antisocial Network are, to be honest, nerds. Not the kind who call themselves "software engineers" because "programmer" is too short. No, they're scientists. And although the current presidential administration seems hellbent on making certain that the citizenry is kept ignorant of scientific principles, they're not gonna give in. That's why we keep harping on scientific literacy, and keep pointing out freelancers faking their way to a small fee. People like self-described "business writer" Eric Bank, who claims a B. S. in biology but sure wasn't using any of it when he wrote "How Big Is Mars Compared to Earth?" for eHow.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Opening Wine Bottles the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCXLII

cutting the capsule on a wine bottle
Perhaps the most common reason for freelancing dumbassery that our staffers run across is the writer's failure to understand a question he's supposed to be answering. Although we can understand unfamiliarity with high-energy physics (though without knowledge, why would you write...), but unfamiliarity with common, everyday tasks is more difficult to explain -- though we suspect it's just garden-variety stupidity. Submitted for your consideration today is Charlotte Johnson as she fumbles her way through "How to Open a Plastic Wine Bottle Cap" for Leaf.tv (formerly eHow).

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Judge's Paneling the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCXLI

Judges Paneling with mismatched fake wood floor
One of the ways TV set decorators show viewers that a character is wealthy is to show rich wood paneling in the guy's study or library. That's not a design feature you find in the average suburban home, after all. If you wanted to install it yourself, you'd need to know what it's called -- and the answer is, sometimes, "judge's paneling." If you asked about DIY judge's paneling, however, you might well run into someone else who didn't know the name; though that didn't stop eHowian Tracie Harris from pretending to explain "How to Install Judges Paneling." Never mind the missing apostrophe...

Harris opened by telling her readers,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ounces and Tablespoons, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DCCXL

tablespoon ounce
Sometimes the crack research team at the Antisocial Network can see where misguided freelancers went wrong in their misinformation, but other times it isn't so simple. Take, for instance, the time we ran across Leslie Renico of Leaf.tv (formerly eHow, in case you didn't know) and her woefully inadequate attempt to explain "How to Measure Dry Ounces to Tablespoons." We'll grant that the title is stupid to begin with -- "measure"? why not "convert"? -- but nevertheless, the screw-up is entirely on Leslie.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Miter Saws, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DCCXXXIX

compound miter saw
If you read through the kajillions of posts on eHow.com, you might come to the impression that almost everyone who searches the internet is looking for help in "troubleshooting" something. Well, at least the ones who aren't looking for porn or information about the Kardashians (those are different, aren't they?). The problem is that, if the seekers ends up at eHow, they're not gonna get much help -- they're likely to end up finding junk like Patrick Nelson and his post, "How to Troubleshoot a Compound Miter Saw."

Monday, February 6, 2017

Starter Relays, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DCCXXXVIII

Typical starter motor circuit -- the magnetic switch is the starter relay
Self-appointed freelancers: you gotta love 'em. Well, at least you love 'em if you're the Antisocial Network and you think it's fun to expose their dumbassery to the world. Take, for instance, "professional cook, baker and writer" Amrita Chuasiriporn, who somehow convinced herself) and eHow) that degrees in Spanish and culinary arts qualified her to inform her readers about automotive electrical systems, beginning with her laughable discussion of "What Is a Starter Relay?"

What, indeed? Well, as Chuasiriporn tells us in her introductory paragraph,

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Refinishing Oak, the Way of Dummies - The Freelance Files DCCXXXVII

oak is open grain and looks ugly when painted unless the grain is filled
Unfilled oak grain (left) vs. filled (right)
If your home was built anytime between about 1970 and 2010, chances are pretty good that at least some of the cabinetry is oak, probably with a light finish. Besides being fairly unattractive, that style is quite dated, so many a would-be DIY redecorator wants to take brush in hand and repaint the suckers. Good on ya, folks! The problem, of course, is that painting oak isn't as simple as painting pine, so who you gonna ask? the internet, of course! With luck, you won't run into Matt Smolsky trying to explain the procedure at TheBump.com (a Leaf Group site, formerly Demand Media) in "The Best Way to Paint Oak Cabinets."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Setting Fence Posts the Dummy Way - The Freelance Files DCCXXXVI

plumb and brace a fence post
Braces set at right angles, Amelia...
There are two different kinds of people in the world: the ones who've built a fence and the ones who haven't. If they have any sense, when people in group two decide to join group one, they'll buy a book about how to build fences. If they don't buy a book, however, they'll find themselves at the mercy of internet freelancers -- people who, though they're not part of group one, write fence-building instructions anyway. That's how you end up with half-baked articles like the one Amelia Allonsy posted at SFGate.com, "The Best Way to Set a Post for a Shadow Box Fence & Keep it Straight."

Friday, February 3, 2017

Linear Feet of Lumber, the Dummies Version - The Freelance Files DCCXXXV

You know how retailers pipe music through the speakers that is scientifically chosen to make you buy more? We've sometimes thought that as our researchers look for internet stupidity we should be playing Bob Dylan in the background -- especially the lyrics, "You're an idiot babe / It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe."†  Well, there are plenty of people out there so dumb we wonder how they remember to breathe, and one of them is eHowian David Robinson. David's contribution to the stupidification of the internet? "How to Calculate the Linear Feet of Boards."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Linear Feet, the Dummy Way (Again!) - The Freelance Files DCCXXXIV

window film
Our editorial team just realized that yesterday marked the second anniversary of the first time we awarded the Dumbass of the Day, to some twinkie on eHow who performed a woefully inadequate job of describing radiometric dating. The people at Leaf Group have moved it to Sciencing.com now, but it's still stupid. But we digress... we've seen a bunch of repeating themes in the eHow world over those two years, and one of them is the contributors' failure to understand the concept of linear feet. For some reason, they all think that it's the straight-line measurement of something, and repeat offender Charlotte Johnson follows suit in "How to Calculate Linear Feet for Windows."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ceiling Hooks the Dummies Way

a ceiling hook with a toggle bolt
Unless you live in a monastery or the dorm in a military school, chances are fairly good that one day you're going to want to hang something from the ceiling. It makes no difference whether it's a mobile, a swag lamp, a plant or something entirely different, it'll need support. And that, friends, is where a ceiling hook comes in handy. Just don't try to follow the ridiculously stupid instructions serial DotD Greyson Ferguson wrote for eHow (now Hunker.com) in "How to Put Screw Hooks in the Ceiling"...