Denon, Incompetent or Fraudulent?

Denon is now selling a 5 foot Ethernet like cable for $500.00. Either Denon’s engineer’s are totally incompetent for designing a digital audio link that requires a $500 cable to work over 5 feet or, Denon’s marketing and management are jumping on the take money from gullible audiophiles bandwagon. Either situation is very bad, you don’t want to buy incompetently designed or fraudulent products.

denon1Take a look at the data sheet, it is completely devoid of electrical specifications, all it has is the usual range of pseudo-scientific marketing phrases. The biggest laugh I got from the data sheet is this bullet point. “Direction marks to indicate correct direction for connecting cable” and the picture shows a double headed arrow printed on the connector shell. The symbol clearly shows that you can connect the cable in either of the two possible ways making the symbol completely unnecessary. Another laugh is their labeling of the strain relief bushing in the head shell as a “bush”. Sorry Denon you don’t even have a firm grasp of the English language, a bush is plant type not a strain relief device.

I am very disappointed in Denon and in my opinion they have become snake oil salesman. I recommend that people do not even consider buying any gear from these hucksters. Any company willing to stoop this low is one to stay far away from if you value your money.

This article about the cable has some spot on observations and reasonable reader comments. My favorite phrase from the article is this, “Not made of solid gold and unicorn hair then”.

Good stuff from the blogs I read and an admin note

First the administration note, do to blog spam driving me nuts I’ve decided to close the comments on old posts that attract blog spam. If you encounter an older post with closed comments that you would like to contribute to, send me an email using the address that is at the end of every page at my main site. Assuming your contribution is relevant I’ll manually add it to the comments of the post for you. If it’s irrelevant I’ll reply explaining why I am not posting the comment.

Now for the good reads from the blogs I read:

Blake has posted an excellent round-up of the real discrimination going on in the ridiculous ID/Creationism vs. Science non-debate. Science After Sunclipse » Creation, Power and Violence

I mentioned it in previous post but now the NCSE has fully launched their Expelled Exposed web site. Check it out for the excellent information on the topic.

Bob’s post this week is a must read for anyone involved in hiring IT consultants, The Truth About IT Consultants.

Via Mark from the Denialism blog I wound up at this three part series, Contrary imaginations. – By Daniel Engber – Slate Magazine.

And last but not least, Tim’s post Scientists 2, Teens 0, Journalists -2, points out the two silly reports this week trying to make it seem like kids are smarter than adult scientists. Please people, join the reality based community and keep your rational thought processes in place. Contrary to what TV wants you to believe, it is extremely rare for a child to make a useful contribution to the advancement of knowledge. In fact other than Emily Rosa I can’t think of a single case and her contribution was not a giant breakthrough on a complex topic just a bright child pointing out that some of adults are too easily falling for magic tricks and thinking they are real.

A real test of super speaker cables, maybe not

I read in Swift that one of the outrageously expensive sets of speaker wires where going to submit to a real test. There is no rocket science involved in determining if a person can hear a difference between audio products. The ABX Double Blind Comparator System isn’t exactly new technology and when used in a properly controlled test yields excellent results. The problem is that most manufacturers don’t seem to want to do good tests , instead they depend on reviewers and not necessarily applicable technical measurements.

The next week I read about more developments in the process and it was looking like the people making the claim for the big money cable where backing out. However the next section of Swift gave me hope this would go forward. Randi had done something I hadn’t seen before, he changed the wording of his challenge rules to address the complaints of the reviewer, Michael Fremer.

To those readers who are unfamiliar with the JREF challenge here’s a few important points about it. People often make claims for things that have no plausible scientific explanation. The JREF has put up 1 million dollars US as a prize for any person who has made such a claim, has gotten the claim publicly known via the media and can demonstrate the affect to the JREF. The claimant doesn’t have to explain how anything works all they have to do is show that it works. Both the claimant and the JREF have to agree ahead of time on a test that demonstrates the claim. If the claimant passes the agreed upon test the JREF hands over the prize.

For the claims made by this audio reviewer this should be a very simple and straight forward test. The claim is that the reviewer can reliably tell the difference between the ultra-expensive Pear speaker wire and normally priced speaker wire. A simple controlled double blind listening test will be all that is needed to decide the matter. So if the reviewer and manufacturer are truly sincere about their extraordinary claim they will now go ahead and start discussing a simple test.

Sadly this post, BLAKE WITHDRAWS, has just gone up at the JREF. The manufacturer is pulling out before even hammering out a simple test procedure. This says to me that the manufacturer isn’t all that certain of their claim.

Some more reading about audio cables:
The Truth About Cables – AxiomAudio
Interconnect and speaker cable whitepaper
Speaker Cables from Blue Jeans Cable

From Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News:
Un-Sound Advice About Cables
Top Ten Signs an Audio Cable Vendor is Selling You Snake Oil
AudioQuest Responds to Top 10 Snake Oil Article
Thiel Audio Interview on Cables
Cable Distortion and Dielectric Biasing Debunked
Skin Effect Relevance in Speaker Cables
Speaker Cable Face Off 1
Speaker Cable Reviews – Faceoff 2
Speaker Cable Faceoff 3

HUD tracer legal scam

A friend of mine received the letter pictured below (click to enlarge) and asked me about it.scan0229-small

Searching around for American Data Services I found this post on the Snopes forum and this blog post. Basically this is a perfectly legal scam to get 10% of a refund that you may be owed when you refinanced and ended the HUD/FHA insurance from the original mortgage.

The people and companies sending out these letters won’t actually help you get the refund in any significant way but, they will take 10% of the amount up front to tell you to contact HUD. The better thing to do is to check the HUD database yourself and get the refund without paying the fee.

Because it is legal to try to get people to pay for this un-needed tracing service, it has also become the basis of some of the get rich quick scams on the internet. Anyone who does this should be very careful because if you represent yourself as having any affiliation with HUD/FHA you will be prosecuted be the government.

More information is available at About.com here and here, as well as this press release from the FTC.

CAM, DCA and double standards.

There are an excellent set of blog posts by Orac and Dr. Novella today.

Dr. Novella’s post, The CAM Double Standard, causes me to fear for the future of health care in the U.S. I really hate that we taxpayers are shelling out money to anti-scientific research through the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It sure seems to me that a lot of people want to take us back to the 19th century for our health care model. Read his article for the worrying details.

Orac posted “Clinical research” on dichloroacetate by TheDCASite.com: A travesty of science, it is his latest update on the, too long running, DCA is a miracle cure crap. I feel so badly for the patients and their loved ones who are grasping at straws with DCA sold through the BuyDCA website.

Reading through these posts and the linked pages I spotted a quote that can be an example for those trying to determine if something is bogus. A good way to spot bogus claims is to simply use a dictionary. The term I encountered is “aerobic oxygen”, without even looking in a dictionary I was pretty sure that adjective doesn’t go with that noun. Looking up aerobic on Webster’s site gives:

Main Entry: aer·o·bic
Pronunciation: “er-‘O-bik
Function: adjective
1 : living, active, or occurring only in the presence of oxygen

So the definition for the phrase “aerobic oxygen” is, oxygen that is active, or occurring only in the presence of oxygen. Clearly any thinking person will see that is ridiculous.

Over at Wikipedia they say:

Aerobic is an adjective that means “requiring air” (where “air” usually means oxygen).

This gives the phrase a definition of, oxygen requiring oxygen, or, oxygen requiring air. This is equally silly, perhaps the purveyors of “aerobic oxygen” mean something else but if they do they should really look up the correct adjective in a dictionary.

Nope, I just did a Google search for “aerobic oxygen” and the second two sites are clearly frauds looking to confuse prospective targets by mis-using the English language. The third result is an FDA notice from 2003 entitled “Cyber Warning Letter to Aerobic Oxygen USA”. Sadly, this FDA letter seems to be just a notice for them to change their site a little so that the fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act becoming exempt from FDA regulation.

BTW – the first site in the Google search gives a malware warning, thank you Google.

May 15th No Gas foolishness

This e-mail is going around:

Don’t pump gas on May 15th, in April 1997, there was a “gas out” conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight. On May 15th 2007, all internet users are to not go to a gas station inprotest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places. There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the internet network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up. If all users did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take$2,292,000,000.00 (that’s almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companyspockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May15th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry forat least one day. If you agree (which I cant see why you wouldnt) resend this to all yourcontact list. With it saying, ”Don’t pump gas on May 15th”

In the words of Penn & Teller this is Bulls hit! (FCC friendly version 🙂 ).

Simply changing when or where something is purchased has very little impact on the base economics. Whether you buy gas on the 15th or, 14th or, 16th doesn’t significantly affect any oil company. What has an effect is reducing actual consumption so, if the originators of this chain mail really wanted to have an impact on oil prices they’d ask to make 5/15 a don’t use any gas day.

In addition to this not passing the business common sense test, there is also this outright misinformation:

in April 1997, there was a “gas out” conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

The US DOE keeps track of gasoline prices and provides the data in an excel spreadsheet. Examining the US Regular All Formulations Retail Gasoline Prices excerpt for 1997 shows:

Date Cents per Gallon
Mar 03 121.5
Mar 10 120.6
Mar 17 120.0
Mar 24 120.4
Mar 31 120.0
Apr 07 120.3
Apr 14 119.9
Apr 21 119.9
Apr 28 119.5
May 05 119.3
May 12 119.3
May 19 120.3
May 26 121.2
Jun 02 121.5

So where is that 30 cents/gal drop? There is a slight dip of 2.2 cents/gal centerd in May but that’s a far cry from 30 cents/gal.

See Also:
Snopes Article

U.S. Retail Gasoline Historical Prices

Independent Gasoline Price History adjusted for inflation

Crude oil price 1947 – 2006 in 2006 dollars

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A great day for rational people and a bad day for the frauds

This is one of the most encouraging stories I’ve read in a while. Philadelphia PA is enforcing a law that was passed decades ago prohibiting fortune telling for profit. Far too many gullible people lose money they can’t really afford to these con-people. I think shutting them down is the right thing to do.

The AP story is here and a larger article from The Philadelphia Inquirer is here.

Now if only we can get this local law to become a federal law we can hit the frauds where they hurt, their wallets.