You look like one of them, but talk like one of us

Archive for the category “1BEM”

Second Thoughts

As I wrote a while back, I’ve signed up to the NSPCC’s “Climb the Gherkin” challenge in about eight weeks’ time. It involves walking (or, if you’re a lunatic, running) up the 38 flights of stairs inside the Gherkin in London to get to the top.

It’s fair to say, I’m having some doubts and second thoughts about the wisdom of it. It’s a lot of steps…

I’ve looked it up – because I’m an idiot – and now know that it’s over 1,000 steps to the top, and that’s making it all a bit real. There’s a lot of me to lift up that many steps, and really not many places where you can get to train or prepare for something like that.

I’ll still go, and I’m sure I’ll complete the challenge. It’s just that it might destroy me along the way…

Security Stupidity

Every so often, I’ll see a scenario that just leaves me utterly gobsmacked. Sadly, they’re usually based around security of some sort – for whatever reason, it’s something I’m generally pretty tuned in to, and aware of.

Yesterday’s one was an absolute blinder – and caused by a complete lack of thought/awareness.

While I was walking at lunchtime, the person in front of me was paying a bill over the phone. Using hands-free, so it was all done out loud.  (I don’t quite get why some people use hands-free for conversations on mobiles while walking – particularly when they’re still holding the mouthpiece to their mouths anyway. People be weird)

That wasn’t so bad – he was entering the card details using the keypad, so in that aspect it was fairly secure. Not how I’d have chosen to do it, but hey, I’m not one to judge.

The bit where it all went tits up, though, was that the payment line then reads the numbers back to the user, as a confirmation. “If this is correct, press 1“.

It’s a scenario where the developers etc. have thought about how to confirm the card data, and it makes sense to read it back. They’ve just not seen the real-world situations where people then do these things in public, on hands-free speakers. But it meant that – were I a bad person – I’d have all of that guy’s card information (it even read back the CV2 validation number) which I could have made use of.


And in case anyone’s wondering, I did tap him on the shoulder when he’d finished the call, and explained that he really should get that card changed ASAP. If I could hear it, or if he does that on a regular basis, then the card is compromised, and it’s only fair to make him aware of it.

It’s up to him, of course – but the fact I told him his card number, expiry date, and CV2 (correctly – I really do need to get out more) certainly seemed to focus his mind somewhat…

Leap Day

It’s February 29th, Leap Day

Only four years ’til the next one…

Desperate and Gullible

It was interesting yesterday to see the BBC’s piece about the growing prevalence of ‘online rental fraud’ – basically, where a fraudster/criminal advertises a rental property for a great price, and people then pay a deposit for it without ever seeing the property – because it’s a great price in a sought-after area.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Yep – the fraudster doesn’t own the property, doesn’t represent the agents, and has no real connection to it at all. They’ve just grabbed photos, submitted the ad, and then people pay the ‘deposit’ into an account named by the fraudster.

Now, while I think it’s pretty scummy, I can’t help but also see it as more of an idiot tax. You’ve got to be pretty desperate – and pretty fucking dim – to put down money without seeing the place you’re renting, particularly without ever meeting an agent/agency/landlord etc.  I know that these people are good at getting people to believe they’re valid, and that there’s this urgency – but really, it’s still taking advantage of people too dumb to look at a deal and think “what’s wrong with this picture?”

Maybe that’s harsh. Maybe not.  For me, it’s hard to feel real sympathy for someone who just leaves themselves open to this sort of shit. Take a look at what one victim says in the article…

[He] said: “I was willing to take the flat without a viewing based on the location, just on the price of it.

[I felt] anger, disgust, I was really disappointed. I was thinking, ‘Wow I’ve spent money I couldn’t afford and what’s happening to me right now? I’m in a nightmare and I can’t wake up’.'”

I think the worst part, probably, is that now it’s been mentioned by BBC and on TV, it’s something that other scammers will look at and thing “Oooh, that’s a good idea”, so it’ll become even more prevalent…

A Remembrance of Shitbags Past

Yesterday, I got a call from an agency about a new job role – ‘Lead Developer’, great salary and good upcoming projects. It sounds like a fantastic role, and the company in question certainly know the value of buzzwords and marketing when it comes to this kind of thing.

Sadly – well, amusingly – it was for the same job/company as I worked for in Summer 2014.  I didn’t write much about it at the time, because it ended up going down the route of taking legal advice etc., so wasn’t worth causing extra hassles by writing here and naming/shaming.  (Not least because the owner of the company, known around here as ShitCo, wouldn’t feel any shame whatsoever)

It was not a good job – and was probably one of my worst jobs in the last decade. Not least among the issues was having taken the job on a salary offer of £x (and that was the salary on the contract , when it eventually appeared) but then the company deciding to pay me £10,000 less.

Coupled with working idiot hours and so on, yeah, it wasn’t a good role or time at all.

I ended up leaving after three months, with no notice (although my contract did say that was OK within the initial trial period) and nothing lined up to go to. Not that that’s ever stressed me out, as regular readers will know – and indeed, I was working two weeks later, at the contract I’m still working on now.

So yes, speaking to another agency about why I wouldn’t be interested in that role was entertaining – the agency couldn’t understand why they were looking for a fourth ‘lead developer’ in less than a year, but our conversation made things somewhat clearer for them, it’s fair to say.  And the words “lying” , “scheming”, “disorganised”, “manipulative” and “unholy motherfucker of the first order” never even passed my lips.

Home Security

Over the last couple of years, I’ve walked round the village fairly frequently, just for extra exercise (and also, you know, why not?)

Over the last couple of days (the days between Christmas and New Year, which I saw someone call “the festive perineum”, which amused me more than it should have) while doing that route, it’s made me think about just how easy people make it for potential burglars, just by advertising that they’re not home.

No lights, curtains open, even stuff left outside the door.  It’s really quite gobsmacking.

After all, it’s not like time-switches are rare (or expensive) – they’re the easiest thing to use to at least make a house look occupied. Yet even that simple thing seems to be beyond so many people. I (kind of) get it, if you’re in 355 nights out of the year or whatever, that it might not be something you bother with. But it’s not like the Festering Season comes as a surprise – and if you know you’re going to be away, why not spend a tenner and at least get a couple of timeswitches so you can put on a radio/TV and a light?

Maybe (hopefully) these people have never had a break-in, have never known that icky feeling that someone else – someone uninvited – has been in your home, has gone through your things. Let alone that that person has then taken some of those things, and you have to figure out just what has gone.  I hope that’s the case, but it’s still no excuse for being complacent about it (in my opinion) and leaving oneself open to the chance of that happening.

It’s no excuse for complacency, but then, people so rarely seem to need an excuse to think “It’ll never happen to me”. Until it does – and then it’ll be everyone else’s fault.

Pushing the Limits

Over the last year in particular, I’ve been more and more interested in Michelin-starred restaurants, and have been to a few, as well as other high-end places that don’t have stars.

One that fascinates me is The Fat Duck, which re-opened this year after a major refit and refurb. However, regardless of that fascination, there’s no chance I’ll go – primarily because I just think their attitude currently is horrific.

For one thing, you pay upfront – the full price of the food, at the time of booking. And that price is exceptionally hefty – £255 per head, no less. That’s nothing short of obscene – while I’m sure it’s a remarkable one-off experience and rah rah rah, I could go to the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse in London and have the full 10-course tasting menu.  Twice.

Bear in mind, currently the Fat Duck has no Michelin stars. That’s worth remembering.

The attitude doesn’t improve when you start to read their terms and conditions, and even more so with their FAQs.

Among those, there’s a number of gems…

  • You can’t get a table for one – the smallest is a two. And they won’t change that for anyone.
  • You can’t arrive early and have a drink at the bar. There’s no bar. (I get that the place is small, but still)
  • There’s no waiting list, or notification if someone cancels. You’ve just go to keep on checking on the website. That’s it.
  • If you cancel the reservation and they can’t rebook the table (or if you cancel with less than 28 days to go) you don’t get your money back. Only if they can rebook the table do you get a refund.
  • On top of that £255 per head – and a minimum of two people, so we’re already on £510 – they add a ‘discretionary’ 12.5% service charge to the bill. Plus, of course, any extra drinks, wine, etc.  Even if you’ve only paid for the food, that’s an extra £63.75. That’s just taking the piss.

And all that, without even a Michelin star to its name.  That is one hell of an ego at work.

So no, much as I’d love to go and experience it, the Fat Duck can fuck off.

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