Those Five-Star Amazon Reviews…

Fake 5-star reviews AmazonUnless I’m in a really giddy mood and pretty much everything in my life is five stars, I avoid leaving five-star Amazon reviews. That’s so no one will confuse my real Amazon reviews with the fake ones.

How prevalent are the fake ones…?

I have no idea. I’ve heard that Amazon is getting aggressive about removing fake five-star reviews. It could be an overwhelming task.

Sellers are eager to give some of us free products, or – in this case – actually pay us as well, IF we post five-star reviews at Amazon.

Here’s a typical request I received in today’s email:

Hi there,

Thanks a lot for sharing your experience on amazon, which helps all customers a lot!

In order to express our appreciation, we would like to invite you to our free product test activity, you can get them for totally cost-free! 
If you share your experience of a 5-star review on amazon, we’ll send you extra $5.

1. Yoga Pants, perfect for yoga, exercise, dancing, or everyday wear.
2. Vibrating Jade Roller for Face, essential tool to keep your face in beauty, oriental secret!
3. Beard Trimmer Kit, for beard head body & face nose and ear hair trimmer.
4. Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones, Hi-Fi Stereo Sound with Deep Bass, 2020 Handmade Style.

So please let me know if you are interested, I will be more than happy to send you the detailed procedures.

We are the top seller in many categories, we’ll offer you more and more products and wish we could establish a long-term partnership!

Best Regards

Note the emphasis on the free gifts and the cash payment for a five-star review. (Routinely, I delete these kinds of requests. I’m only sharing this because I know some friends are eager for any income they can find. Accepting this kind of offer can jeopardize your Amazon account. Don’t do it.)
Sleazy Amazon review request
Yes, that’s what highly ranked Amazon reviewers (like me) see on a regular basis. And no, I don’t accept those offers.  Never.
So, when you see a product with what seem to be too many five-star reviews – at least a questionably high percentage of them – and the product doesn’t look like people should be that consistently excited about it… beware.
And please don’t think this is an okay way to supplement your income. Amazon has had a legitimate review team – called Vine, and access has been by invitation only.  (I’m wondering if “Ivy” chose that name, hoping to confuse people.)
Note: I wish Amazon gave reviewers an easy way to forward/report sleazy offers like this, but they don’t.

Links I Liked 1

These are some of the articles that interested me today.

Links I Liked - 6 aug 2020

Five-Minute Coronavirus Stress Resets – NY Times – From cool water to hyperventilating, this article includes some easy, fun, and zany ideas.

For breathing, I’m currently testing the Wim Hof method, also featured on Netflix’s Goop series.

Admittedly, the Wim Hof method might be risky for anyone with asthma, breathing or heart issues, health challenges, and so on.

If you decide to try it, I recommend watching the tutorial first, because Wim includes tips you won’t find in his other videos, including his beginner video. (I’m starting with just one 30-breath cycle, and building up, slowly.)

Food Shortages? Nope, Too Much Food In the Wrong Places – NPR article. In many cases, climbing food prices and shortages result more from supply-chain issues, and not actual food supplies. We can fix this!

How a discovery in an Iowa factory led Cargill to work with Goop – Red Lake Nation News.

After discovering that some factory workers’ immunity was really, really good – and it was because they worked at Cargill – the company expanded their R&D efforts to make this resource available to the public. … Be sure to note that Country Life (especially their Gut products) is among the vitamin companies that got on board with this immunity booster.

Lately, you may have noticed my rants about Facebook allowing altered, cruel videos of Nancy Pelosi to remain on their site. But, to be fair, Facebook took down one of Trump’s posts. (CNN article.) I’m not sure they get much applause for that, but I felt like I should go out of my way to be as balanced as possible, as I still avoid Facebook most of the time.

Meanwhile, watch this closely if you’re relocating to work remotely in a different state from your employer: You might owe income tax in two states (CNN article).

And, getting back to bliss… I kind of love this video showing someone building tiny worlds, by hand:

Jobs? Employment? Preparing for the New “Normal”

We’re in a rapidly changing world, and have no idea what the new “normal” will look like. In addition, many people are out of work. And some have gone through two cycles of layoffs/furloughs, now.

Smart people are looking ahead, and covering as many bases as they can. They want to be ready, and in the right place at the right time, when things really start to reopen, and jobs (with good pay) become available.

Here are a few things to consider if you’re at home and hoping for a new or better job in the future.

Can you write?

jobs - employment - new normalShort-term, I’m enthusiastic about writing… mostly fiction, especially short-ish fiction, because that’s what many readers seem to crave at the moment.

There are many resources. Chris Fox is one of the best, as is the Facebook Group he created, 20BooksTo50K. Join it if/when they’re open to new members.

Chris’s Write to Market book is a modern classic. Even if some of the info isn’t entirely new news now, I still tell people to read it to understand the basics of indie publishing.

Also, Chris’s YouTube channel is filled with all kinds of great advice. Just don’t get overwhelmed by it, okay?

Many friends have – like me – been impressed with Neil & Jen Bakewell’s 21-Day Course that takes you from “gee, I’d like to write a book” to actually published in 21 days… if you follow their schedule. (I won’t pretend that it’s easy, but it is something you can do if you have a couple of free hours each day, plus extra time on the weekends.)

If that link doesn’t work, check back in a couple of months. I’ll post a fresh link when the course is open again.

Also, Sterling & Stone provide useful advice, as well.

Can you learn?

So many formal and informal education resources are offering free courses, I can only list a few here.

Ivy league universities and others are offering free courses, and many of them can help you acquire the credentials you’ll need to compete in the new job market. I mean, really, if you’re going to study anywhere (online), why not aim to impress your future boss?

Here are some useful links:

Or, if you’re interested in a creative career, CreativeLive offers free courses every week. They may help you start a fresh career, or build on talents you already have.

Watch trends!

Watch for clues about the future. One way is to read Lifehacker and follow links in their articles. Sure, their articles are useful, but the links can be the real pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. Choose a topic that interests you, and proceed down every winding path you find. (Some will be better than others.)

Here are some mailing lists that can take you even further.

  • Exploding Topics – weekly trending topics (Again, follow the links!)
  • Wunderman Thompson – quirky, but read between the lines to see interesting developments
  • Non-Obvious Newsletter – another weird, sometimes-fascinating newsletter that highlights very odd things. Some get a raised eyebrow response. Others are more connect-the-dots material. And a lot of them are just blink-blink for me. (Meaning: I do not get it. Are they on the same planet as I am…? <- Rhetorical question.)
  • The Prepared is mostly about manufacturing. I read it anyway. Odd, interesting things turn up among the topics and links.
  • Movements is about… well, movement. In other words, transportation, personal and commercial. Understanding where transportation is going (literally and figuratively) can highlight where the jobs will be… again: literally & figuratively.

I’ll add to these lists as I notice fresh, useful resources.  Meanwhile,  Pocket offers specialized articles, and – of course – Medium can be well worth browsing.