DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society is now planning its October 2013 raffle for our fall meeting. Last year, the society’s first raffle was its most successful fundraiser of 2012.

Please consider donating a prize (cash, gift certificate or other prize) to help our raffle. Raffle tickets will be sold from July to October.

For those who are not familiar with MFGS, we are a nonprofit 501c society promoting the study of genealogy and genealogical research in the state of Maine, with a special focus on Franco-American genealogy. MFGS has assembled a library of genealogical guides, handbooks, reference sources, family and local histories, and other books and materials for research.

Needed funds help cover the costs to maintain the MFGS library and to add to available resources. We are open for research from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. There is a $3 research fee for nonmembers, but everyone is welcome.

Please contact MFGS at 786-3327 to have your donation picked up, or mail it to 217 Turner St., Auburn ME 04210. If you want to contact me directly, please call or text 777-5721. — Joline Fortier, [email protected]

UPDATE ON ROBOCALLS: Sun Spots recently heard an interview with a Federal Trade Communications official about the difficulty the agency is having in putting  a stop to “Rachel from Card Services” and other computer-generated calls. 

In a previous column Sun Spots passed along the news that regulations would soon require companies placing robocalls to give customers an opt-out option by pushing “3.”

However, the FTC official recommended that those receiving calls not push any buttons and simply hang up. She said that many of these companies are already breaking the law and are unlikely to obey this one and take you off their list even if you do push 3. She said that the callers are looking for any kind of response to indicate the number is valid.

They are making some progress in the fight against these calls, albeit slowly. In April the FTC announced that judges for the FTC Robocall Challenge selected two winners, in a tie for the $50,000 prize for Best Overall Solution to block illegal robocalls. The challenge was designed to help solve this problem by spurring innovation in the marketplace.

Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss will each receive $25,000 for their proposals, which both focus on intercepting and filtering out illegal prerecorded calls using technology to “blacklist” robocaller phone numbers and “whitelist” numbers associated with acceptable incoming calls. Both proposals also would filter out unapproved robocallers using a CAPTCHA-style test to prevent illegal calls from ringing through to a user.

Hopefully, these technologies and other solutions will put an end to Rachel. Meanwhile, the FTC official recommended hanging up any time someone calls and wants to talk about your financial affairs. The offers may sound good, but they are likely to end up costing you.

OOPS: On Dec. 22 Sun Spots told readers that Staples will recycle batteries. They will, but not alkaline batteries, only lithium and other rechargeables. You can put your alkaline batteries in the regular household trash, as wasteful as that seems.

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