Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The inventor of StaticOff is mad at me and seems a bit unstable


I was on Youtube, checking out a video a friend had sent me. One of the "related Videos" was a commercial for StaticOff Zapper Stopper. The StaticOff is a metal plate that you attach to your wall. You're supposed to touch the plate when you enter the room to discharge any static charge you've built up, thus avoiding a painful shock to friends and family. The commercial makes it look like the plate is grounded, which makes sense given it's intended function.

I found the product to be exceedingly silly for a few reasons.

It requires you to touch a specific object when you enter a room. This is inconvenient. I can see it making some sense if it's installed next to a light fixture, but even then, that only helps if you enter the room and happen to be flipping the light switch. My last apartment had pull chains in almost every room, so there was no location where it would make sense to install such a plate.

Static shocks aren't that hard to avoid. Your choice of clothing is a major factor. I tend to wear cotton around the house and will wear slippers or go barefoot. As a result I rarely get a static shock in the house, even during the Winter when the home is quite dry.

A properly humidified home will drastically reduce opportunities for static shocks.

Now, if you have shag carpeting throughout the house, wear rayon socks when walking about and wool sweaters with rayon undershirts, I can see the potential use of special plates installed throughout the house for you to discharge. That said, a good pair of house slippers and a few sweat shirts for wear in the home strikes me as a far more practical and economical method of avoiding static shock. This has the further advantage of leaving your walls intact.

It was with these, and many other thoughts, I made the following comment to the Youtube video:


March 14, 2008

All this does is provide a grounded surface. You STILL get a static shock, it's just discharged on the plate instead of some other random object. Touching a metal doorknob will accomplish the same thing.

The Inventor Responds

I'd thought that was the end of it. Four days later I logged into my Youtube account again and found I had a couple messages from StaticOff.

Mar 14, 2008, 09:00 AM

Your comment regarding StaticOff

Your comment is 100.00% wrong, ahs(sic) nothing to do with reality, and I believe shows extremely poor judgment: You set up your mind with hardly a clue as to the facts.

First, for the facts: Assuming you have sufficient technical background to understand the following:
The StaticOff touch points are electrodes are connected to an internal high impedance circuit that is in turn coupled to a non-linear device, which is connected to ground. The combination provide a slow, controlled discharge of the static charge. The RC constant of the circuit provides a very short but very important time delay, that allows you to get sufficiently close to the electrode without getting zapped, unless the charge level you carry exceeds 97 KV.
While this may happen, it is extremely rare -- it was the highest we were able to create and maintain on our bodies using a 150 KV source at extremely dry conditions. Normally, between 40% and 17% relative humidity a person does not collect more than 40-50 KV, and below 17% this number climbs to about 75-80 KV.
Therefore, when properly using the StaticOff device, YOU DO NOT GET A STATIC SHOCK. (using properly means touching the touch points, rather than the grounding screws).
The static shock you get when for example you touch a door knob, is due to the speed of discharge. The air ionizers and turns real fast from a good insulator to a good conducting path having but a few ohms. The charge of several thousand volts is discharge at a great rate, controlled by Ohm's law. While the amount of energy is small, the speed causes the pain.
When you use the StaticOff device, the speed of discharge is greatly reduced. The circuit characteristics allow you to get close and touch the electrode without a spark. Thus there is no static shock.

Now, I hope you will have the integrity to publicly admit your error outright, or buy the product, test it, and THEN admit your error.
And yes, I do take offence (sic) when someone who has no idea of the facts calls my invention and product a sham.

I wanted to give you a chance to correct things yourself, without humiliating you by exposing your ignorance. I expect that you will do so in the next 124 hours.
Shalom Wertsberger
Inventor, CEO, StaticOff

The first thing I noticed was the very hostile tone of the message. I'll admit, I was less than generous in my original post, but Shalom's response shows a considerable amount of aggression. It's been my experience that being polite generally gets better results. The overt hostility in phrases like "You set up your mind with hardly a clue as to the facts" leaves me disinterested in what he has to say. If he really had the facts on his side, would he REALLY be this hostile and angry in his reply?

The technical detail in his message certainly sounded plausible, at least to a layman such as myself. Touch the plate for a few seconds to painlessly discharge any built up static. Even if it works, I still consider it a silly, inconvenient waste of money, but I think the same of a lot of the products advertised on late night television.

It was the open hostility and challenges to my intelligence that caught my attention the most. I again wondered, if he really has the facts on his side, why would he bother stooping to such lowbrow tactics? I've dealt with some shady salesmen over the years and my gut reaction is to question the legitimacy of anyone using Shalom's tactics.

Another response from the Inventor

I'd like to point out that Shalom's 124 hour deadline gave me over 5 days to respond, but "Shalom Wertsberger" chose to post his next message in only 4:

Nobody's comet,

You have not found sufficient courage or decency to respond to my previous message inviting you to correct (or at least argue for) your ignorant and stupid remarks regarding my invention.

Since you failed to show basic integrity, I posted a comment, trying to correct the damage you caused by your irresponsible remark, and let the world set their opinion on you as the pompous, ignoramus and indecent coward that you are.
What a disgrace to Edmond Halley!
Shalom Wertsberger
Inventor and CEO, StaticOff.

Notice the greeting. My Youtube username is "HalleysComet" a reference to the stellar body named for Edmond Halley. Shalom Wertsberger starts off literally calling me a "nobody" because I hadn't responded to him quickly enough. That's hardly the way to get people to do what you want. Again, an issue that could have been resolved through patience and civility is instead approached with outright aggression. The entire message just berates me for not having responded to his post as quickly as he would have liked. He rants and raves and through the tone of his writing I can almost see him foaming at the mouth as he thinks of various ways to insult me.

More Youtube Posts

Finally he made a youtube post and I posted a reply:

March 18, 2008

Your comment is 100.00% wrong.
The StaticOff touchpoints are electrodes, connected to a high impedance circuit that includes a non-linear device. The combination provides a slow, controlled discharge of the static charge.

I privately provided you with opportunity to withdraw your dumb comment. Since you did not, I hope everyone will see you what you are.

And yes, I took offense.

Shalom Wertsberger
Inventor, CEO, StaticOff

The above post was not actually posted as a reply to my comment, but as a reply to the video itself.

No one is going to buy, or not buy, the "Static off" because of one lone Youtube comment, but your hostile tone in responding to my first post will leave people with the impression that you're trying to cover up a lack of facts with anger and aggression.

Why not just state where I'm supposedly wrong in a polite, educational tone? Why stoop to personal attacks? It hardly leaves the reader with confidence in you or your company. How do you respond if a customer wants to return a defective unit?

I start Digging

I can't help but wonder how such an angry, aggressive man runs his business and conducts himself with his family. He clearly thinks being a condescending jerk will get him his way. I decided to do a bit of digging.

I quickly found the StaticOff Blog. It only has a few posts, but it links to TheForecaster.net's review of the StaticOff The article contains two choice quotes from Wertsberger and his partner Shai Levite:

"It’s not snake oil," Wertsberger said. "It's a real solution and it works."

"It's just like any other medicine," added Levite, who used to suffer from static shock.

So, they're insisting it isn't snake oil and comparing a high tech grounded metal plate to medicine. Something tells me the folks over at The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe would join me in saying these quotes raise a few red flags.

One of the first Google hits for Shalom Wertsberger was a link to the "About Us" page on saltamar.com. The company name is Saltamar Innovations and their web site describes them as:

... a patent firm specializing in obtaining patent protection for the software and electronics industries. Our experience in those fields allows us to thoroughly understand the invention and provide you with the best possible protection.

The Patents

The Saltamar Innovations site mentions having 18 years of experience in software patents. Oddly, I didn't find any links on their site to patents that they'd filed. Patents DB however gave me a listing of patents filed by Saltamar Innovations.

Here are some examples:

Interacting augmented reality and virtual reality

A combination of interacting virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) system is provided where the system automatically switches from VR to AR when the user selected viewpoint coincides, within tolerance, with the observable AR viewpoint. The invention discloses an apparatus adapted to provide easy access and automatic switching between AR and VR, and method thehrefor.

Basically, this is a patent on situationally switching between virtual reality and a HUD. It was filed in 2001 and granted in 2006. Cyberpunk and computer gaming fans will notice that this boils down to a few drawings depicting an idea that's been around for at least a decade or two before the patent was filed. It even sounds suspiciously similar some of the technology described in the Sci-Fi classic Dune.

I wonder if anyone has patented "An immersion virtual reality (VR) environment attached to a life support system, allowing the subject to remain in VR indefinitely."

Call management via television

A telephone call management system and method are disclosed, allowing for call review where a voice mail message being recorded for a specific telephone may be played on a television associated therewith during the time it is being recorded. Optionally, the call may further be retrieved and rerouted to the user telephone responsive to a command entered via the television distribution gateway, and any call may be recorded responsive to commands entered via the gateway.

The patent was filed in Filed on 2002-07-02 and issued on 2007-10-02. The Jetsons depicted video phones decades before the filing. I wonder if the patent holder has tried to get royalties from the folks who make computer controlled conferencing and voice mail systems.

This is another patent that's not really an innovation. Playing a phone call through a Television and providing a video interface for managing and playing back phone calls are hardly innovative concepts, nor were they such in 2002.

While many of the patents were legitimately inventive, Saltamar Innovations filed a fair number of "inventions" that typify why so many developers want software patents abolished all together.

Return Volley from Shalom Wertsberger

An hour or two after I posted my response to his comment, Shalom Wertsberger made another Youtube post:

Your comment is 100.00% wrong.
The StaticOff touchpoints are electrodes, connected to a high impedance circuit that includes a non-linear device. The combination provides a slow, controlled discharge of the static charge.

Shalom Wertsberger
Inventor, CEO, StaticOff

You'll notice that he rewrote his original response, taking into account my comments about his hostility. He also deleted his original post and my reply, removing the public evidence of his aggressive and condescending attitude. If I hadn't copied and pasted the comments into this Blog Post, they'd have vanished down the memory hole.

In the end, my brief encounter with the aggressive inventor of the StaticOff left me with the image of a hostile man in need of Anger Management therapy. I feel sorry for his family and business partners. I also find myself questioning the legitimacy of his product's claims, given the deranged attacks he used to defend the invention.


Anonymous said...

It kind of reminds me of that guy you were dealing with on here awhile back-andrew something.

that is no way to conduct biz either on the personal or professional level.

I wonder if they are in cohorts?

Corey Welks said...

Interesting comments about this invention Staticoff on your blog which I came across when researching the product as I am considering ordering one of the "stoppers" after seeing it advertised on TV. I am going ahead with ordering it because I believe it may work around my home which is heavily carpeted and stop us shocking our toddler every time we pick her up . If I owned instead of renting I would instead tear up the carpets. I will let you know if the product works.
I noticed two things, you talk about people who patent ideas or items that have been around for some time - I think this is common practice when people refine an idea or realize that they could market and sell a product which others have just talked about. It raises the whole interesting subject of copy right, patents and how effective they really are.
The second thing which demonstrates how lucky we are in this country - we have the freedom to blog, make websites, reply to blogs, criticize products and then make money for one's self and the manufacturing by advertising the product - the google. Not many countries we could do this in.
I'll keep you posted about the static once I get the Staticoff product.

Matthew Miller said...


You're renting, but you're going to spend $10.00 per light switch to replace the light switche covers in the apartment? How many covers are you replacing? I sincerely hope the landlord is reimbursing you for the cost of these devices.

I also find in interesting that when I viewed your blogger profile it listed one solitary profile view and said your account was created in March 2008, the same month I first posted about StaticOff. Given the rampant Blog Spam posts you see then searching for StaticOff online, please forgive me for suspecting your post is astroturfing for the product and not a comment from a genuine potential user.

Corey Welks said...

Mathew - thank you for your email. I indeed wish I was a spam blogger because I am sure that is an easier way to make money than driving I 95 each day, delivering legal documents.
You seem to be involved in a mission here - I joined the blogger profile as your blog says one can only write to you with a blogger profile and my search for staticof showed your blog. Your blog also talked about you tube which I also just joined. Pardon my lack of knowledge of the vlog world but what exactly is astroturfing?
As for the static light swtiches, on line they are not $10 each but then again with the shipping and postage they nearly are. I ordered two, one for my daughter's playroom and the other for the den.
And thanks for the tip about the land lord.

Matthew Miller said...

Wikipedia has a great definition of Astroturfing: "Astroturfing in American English is a neologism for formal public relations campaigns in politics and advertising that seek to create the impression of being spontaneous, grassroots behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass AstroTurf."

Having employees post fake reviews of a product online is a common form of astroturfing, although lately the term has been used more in connection with political campaigns than with business.

I apologize for my suspicions about your motives.

As for being on a "mission" I just didn't like a random stranger spewing a bunch of insulting nonsense at me. When someone attacks me my reflex is to research them, hence the StaticOff posts on my Blog.

Back when I used Wordpress to manage my Blog, I got a LOT of Blog Spam. Upon seeing a lot of StaticOff related advertising posts on other blogs, my gut reaction was to respond, as I know how annoying it is when someone posts an ad for their own wares on my own Blog. If you want to place an ad on a site, pay for an ad, don't post to someone's blog expecting free advertising.

Posting what amounts to an advertisement on someone's blog or discussion forums is often referred to a "Blog Spam" or "Spam Posting" and most Blogging engines have tools for filtering out such posts.

The reason you need a Blogger account to post to this blog is because of all the Spam posts I had to delete before I put this restriction in place.

Anonymous said...

That's suspicious

Corey Welks posted March 21, 2008 11:34 AM
Shalom Wertsberger March 21, 2008 11:48 AM

Why would they comment just a few minutes apart? This blog has almost NO comments.

Why would Welks talk about how he spends his day serving people legal papers?

Does Welks work for Wertsberger???

Was the crack about serving legal papers up and down 95 a threat?

I think you were right about astroturf. I think Welks is either Wertsberger's employee or just another account for Wertsberger.

Anonymous said...

Ohh My Goodness Gracious Me -sprung and not only do I work for statioff but I also saw the fifth gunmen when JFK was shot and I was in the studio when they shot man landing on the moon. Mr Conspiracy man get a life and why post under Anonymous - Opps check the time - this may be posted as the same time as the staticoff factory staff leave work.
By the way Matthew - if you are reading this - got my staticoff the other day - they work, at least for 30 minutes before I have to discharge again - but its a little like pavlovs dog theory.
And look I signed under anonymous too