FCC Warns Consumers “Yes” Phone Scam

The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers about a new scam that is hooking consumers with just one word: Yes.

According to the FCC, the scam begins as soon as a person answers the phone. A recorded voice or an actual person asks: “Can you hear me?” And the consumer responds, “Yes.”

“The caller then records the consumer’s ‘Yes’ response and thus obtains a voice signature. This signature can later be used by the scammers to pretend to be the consumer and authorize fraudulent charges via telephone,” an FCC news release said.

Officials Warn Consumers About Phone Scam

“According to complaints the FCC has received and public news reports, the fraudulent callers impersonate representatives from organizations that provide a service and may be familiar to the person receiving the call, such as a mortgage lender or utility, to establish a legitimate reason for trying to reach the consumer,” the news release said.

Teresa Thomas, 49, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, said today that she’d received a similar phone call about a month ago.

“The person on the other line sounded like a young woman. She was giggling and she said: ‘Oh, I didn’t expect you to pick up! Can you hear me?'” Thomas said. “Which, of course, if someone asks if you can hear them, I said the logical thing and I said ‘Yes.’ And she proceeded to talk.”

Thomas said she soon realized that the caller was a recording, hung up the call and then blocked the phone number. The next day, she learned of the scam on social media.

The FCC advised consumers to immediately hang up if they receive this type of call. It also said that if consumers had responded “Yes” to a similar call in the past, they should keep an eye on all financial statements for any unauthorized charges.

Thomas said that she’d been checking her credit-card and bank accounts and had reported the incident to the Better Business Bureau.

“I have not seen anything negative happen from that but it’s just good to be aware,” Thomas said.

The FCC also shared the following tips:

1. Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Let them go to voicemail.

2. If you answer and the caller (often a recording) asks you to hit a button to stop receiving calls, just hang up. Scammers often use these tricks to identify, and then target, live respondents.

3. If you receive a scam call, write down the number and file a complaint with the FCC so we can help identify and take appropriate action to help consumers targeted by illegal callers.

4. Ask your phone service provider if it offers a robocall blocking service. If not, encourage your provider to offer one. You can also visit the FCC’s website for information and resources on available robocall blocking tools to help reduce unwanted calls. Consider registering all of your telephone numbers in the National Do Not Call Registry.

ABC News’ Whitney T. Lloyd and Kelley Robinson contributed to this story.

2017 Winter Free Fishing Weekend

DNR News

Grab a fishing rod and enjoy some of the finest fishing Michigan has to offer during the 2017 Winter Free Fishing Weekend, set for Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18-19. On those two days, everyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

During #MiFreeFishingWeekend, the DNR also will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several of these locations will host official 2017 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events perfect for the whole family.

Michigan has celebrated winter’s #MiFreeFishingWeekend every year since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and 11,000 inland lakes – Michigan and fishing are a perfect match.

“There’s nothing better than bundling up and heading out on the ice for Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend,” said Jim Dexter, DNR Fisheries Division chief. “For those avid anglers, we encourage you to take someone out who has never experienced winter fishing to show them how simple and fun it can be.

Official winter #MiFreeFishingWeekend activities are being scheduled in communities across the state to assist with public participation. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others. A full list of these events can be found online at michigan.gov/freefishing.

Workplace automation: Separating fiction from fact

Workplace automation: Separating fiction from fact

Director, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI); Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

The idea that robots could replace humans in the workplace dates back to science fiction writers a century ago, and it has been a recurring theme in political life for almost as long. Back in 1964, US President Lyndon B. Johnson created a national commission to examine the impact of automation on the economy and employment. Automation should be viewed as an ally, not an enemy, he said at the time. “If we understand it, if we plan for it, if we apply it well, automation will not be a job destroyer or a family displaced. Instead, it can remove dullness from the work of man and provide him with more than man has ever had before.”

A half century later, technology has advanced at breakneck speed—who back then could have imagined the legions of robots at work today in manufacturing, Amazon’s drone shipments, or the artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms now being used to detect cancers? Machines today increasingly match or outperform human performance in a range of work activities, including ones requiring cognitive capabilities. Yet while the technology has changed, the issues that were such fraught topics 50 years ago have not. Will robots replace humans in the workplace? And if so, how quickly?

In that context, it is important to separate fact from fiction. The McKinsey Global Institute has just published a report on automation and its potential effects on productivity and the global economy, part of ongoing research into the future of work. It is based on an analysis of more than 2,000 workplace activities across 800 occupations, and 46 countries accounting for about 80% of the global economy.

Among our findings is that almost half the activities we pay people about $16 trillion in wages to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated using currently demonstrated technology. The most automatable activities involve data collection, data processing, and physical work in predictable environments like factories, which make up 51% of employment activities and $2.7 trillion of wages in the US and are most prevalent in sectors such as manufacturing, food services, transportation and warehousing, and retail.

But here’s the twist: More jobs will change than will be automated away in the short to medium term. Only a small proportion of all occupations, about 5%, can be automated entirely using these demonstrated technologies over the coming decade, although the proportion is likely to be higher in occupations in middle-skill job categories. But we find that about 30% of the activities in 60% of all occupations could be automated, and that will affect everyone from welders to landscape gardeners, mortgage brokers–and CEOs; we estimate about 25% of their time is currently spent on activities that machines could do, such as analyzing reports and data to inform decisions.

As companies deploy automation, we thus need to think more about mass redeployment rather than unemployment, and also to think about people working alongside machines and the skills that will be needed for the workforce of today and tomorrow—skills that will include a much closer interaction between humans and machines in the workplace. They include capabilities that are inherently human, including managing and developing people, and social and emotional reasoning.

It’s quite instructive to look back at how the economy has continued to prosper—and people have continued to work—since the 1960s, even as the workplace itself has been reshaped by technology. New jobs that could not have been imagined at the time, such as app developers or MRI technicians, have replaced obsolete ones like switchboard operators. That’s a pattern we have seen since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, when more than 60% of Americans worked on the land; today’s it’s less than 2%. Could things be different this time?

Like President Johnson, we see that automation could make a major contribution to productivity and prosperity. Our research suggests that future automation could raise productivity growth globally by between 0.8% and 1.4% annually—which can make a meaningful contribution to global economic growth and compensate for the demographic headwinds of aging populations, although by itself is not sufficient to meet the aspirations of faster-growing emerging economies such as India or Indonesia.

For companies around the world, automation will also offer the potential to capture substantial value—and not just from labor substitution. The technologies enable higher throughput, enhanced quality, better outcomes, greater safety, and the opportunity to scale up or adopt new business models.

Just because the technical potential to automate a workplace activity exists does not mean that it will happen anytime soon, however. The pace and extent of automation will depend on a range of factors of which technical feasibility is only one—and there are still some important barriers to overcome, including the ability of computers to generate and understand natural language. Other factors include the dynamics of labor supply and demand. If there is no shortage in the labor market of cooks, it may not make business sense to replace them with an expensive machine.

The benefits for business are relatively clear, but for policy makers the issues are more complicated. They should embrace the opportunity for their economies to benefit from the productivity growth potential and put in place policies to encourage investment and market incentives to encourage continued progress and innovation. That includes modernizing regulations to meet the speed of progress. At the same time, they must evolve and innovate policies that help workers and institutions adapt to the impact on employment. This will likely include rethinking education and training, income support and safety nets, as well as transition support for those dislocated. Above all, a focus on the skills needed to thrive in this new era will be paramount, so that automation does indeed remain an ally. Not to be forgotten is the lesson from history that innovation, investment, and growth create demand and jobs that may once have seemed like science fiction.

Even ducks are employable…

Business Insider Story & Video:  A South African vineyard employs a flock of 900 ducks to keep its grounds in pristine condition

They race to work every day!






Goodbye honey, got to go to work at the vineyard…






Story by Tony Manfred and editing by Ben Nigh, Apr. 2016


We have a new baby eaglet! Congratulations Harriet!

One of two baby American bald eagles broke free of its shell and was captured chirping Saturday morning on a live-stream of their nest that has been viewed by millions.

Eagle mom Harriet and mate M15 welcomed their offspring, known as E9, or eaglet 9, at 7:33 a.m. ET, according to the real estate company hosting the webcam.

Eagle Cam Live Feed

The 2016-2017 season is the fifth season Dick Pritchett Real Estate has provided the live look into this Southwest Florida nest. This season we will again catch all the action using three cameras that film the birds 24/7 and stream live video directly to this site.


Camera #1 is positioned six feet above the nesting tree and is equipped with night vision or infrared light, which emits no actual light. Nor does it make any noise. The birds do not see or hear anything coming from the camera. Camera #2 is located approximately 60 feet from the nest and has the ability to capture images of the nest action outside the view of Camera #1. (See diagram right for picture of cam locations) Both cameras are environmentally friendly, non-intrusive and positioned to offer the best view of the nest and birds while preserving the pristine beauty of the nest and their surroundings.

A third camera (Cam #3) is installed closer to the north of the pond, to capture activity happening around the pasture and in the pond area.

•The original adult bald eagles pair, known as Ozzie and Harriet, had been coming to this nest since 2006. After Ozzie’s passing in the early fall of 2015, Harriet & M15 bonded in late fall of 2015. This is their second season as a mated pair at this location.
• While spotted most months out the year in the area, they officially reside in this nest between the months of October and May.
• The nest sits 60 feet above the ground, in a Slash Pine tree. In the Spring of 2016, the nest detrioriated and completely fell apart. This season, if they re-build, will be a brand new nest for this couple.
• The nest camera faces South East.
• The pair relocated the nest from across the street to its current location for the 2006-2007 nesting season. This nest is labeled LE026-B of the Florida State Monitoring Program. It has been monitored at this location for 8 years.

Allband Partners with Local Anchor Institutions

Resident Churches Receive High Speed Internet

Allband Communications Cooperative is proud to announce the partnership with three local anchors in the community. Beaver Lake Community Church, Calvary Baptist Church and Spratt United Methodist Church in Lachine are now hooked up to the Allband fiber network, providing the organizations with high speed Internet.

The local telephone and Internet provider has been furnishing services to the economically distressed and underserved area for almost 10 years. When founder, John Reigle, learned there was an unassigned area of northeastern Michigan that had no access to telephone and Internet, he developed a purpose to help. Allband’s primary mission is providing 911 and broadband services to residents who do not have options. The miles of fiber provide reliable and life-saving advanced communications in one of the most economically distressed areas of Michigan.

The churches are now equipped with access to one of the most advanced networks in Michigan. Fiber to the home technology provides vastly higher bandwidth and faster connection speeds, meeting increasing future data needs. Fiber is also safe, transmitting data through light and immune to interruption, making it the easiest service to manage for the user. The addition of this tool will allow the churches to provide opportunities to local residents. Access to Internet can potentially encourage new careers, educational advancement, business growth and connectivity throughout the area.

Allband is donating the 100 mbps download speeds Internet to Beaver Lake Community Church, Calvary Baptist Church and Spratt United Methodist Church upon a mutual agreement. The agreement will contribute to Allband’s mission to bridge the digital divide of our rural community and improve the economic development and quality of life of our community.

Allband Communications Supports Senate Bill 399

General Manager Ron Siegel Provides Testimony

The Telecommunications Association of Michigan (TAM), has been active in the efforts to support Senate Bill 399. Senate Bill 399 will help promote broadband investment by limiting the fees and conditions counties impose for right-of-way permits. It will standardize the permit fees that county road commissions charge telecommunications providers for projects in the right-of-way of a county road. Currently fees vary widely across the state.

The telecommunications industry was the only industry group participating a state legislative committee hearing earlier this month. General Manager of Allband Communications Cooperative, Ron Siegel, was part of the testimony, sharing Allband’s experience with the permit fees and conditions during fiber optic network expansion. Ron Siegel applauds the efforts of the state and counties to come together to work through the barriers that prevent investment and widespread telecommunications. The standardization of the county fees will encourage Allband’s continued network growth to provide high speed fiber optic internet and telephone access to more residents throughout Northeastern Michigan.

Allband is committed to working with all levels of governments to work through obstacles preventing broadband investment. Working together to coordinate the expansion of broadband will produce opportunities in our area and provide a gateway to the new age of communication and digital life in our communities.