If brains were dynamite, you might just have enough to blow your nose.

Archive for the category “1BEM”

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.

Ghost Town

ScroogeAccording to the BBC, today is the peak day for travelling around the Festering Season. Schools break up, companies close down, and people piss off on holiday – so there’s travellers alongside the commuters and so on. Supposedly, there’ll be more than 13 million journeys of at least 20 miles, which makes it even less of a joy than usual. (Which seems about right for the Festering Season, but then, I’m a cynic)

That figure’s an odd one though – journeys of at least 20 miles? Does that even qualify as a journey these days? In my head (which we all know is a strange place at the best of times) 20 miles is barely a trip, let alone a journey.

Round here, it’s been weirdly quiet all week – regardless of whether it’s on the roads, in town, or in the office, a lot of people seem to have already stuffed off. Which makes it all very peaceful. I suppose it’s easy for small companies (2 or 3 people at most) to take longer breaks and so on.

As it is, I’m working right through ’til the 24th (as usual) and so are the companies I’m working for at the moment. I don’t mind – but then, I’m not travelling, or doing much over the Festering Season.


For Your Safety

You know, I for one am getting really tired of the government phrases “It’s for your safety” and “it’s for your security”, which are getting bandied around more and more.

This week it’s been used about blocking flights to and from Sharm El-Sheikh because of an alleged – but unproven – bomb in the hold of the plane that crashed in the Sinai desert last week. It’s also been used in discussions about monitoring everyone’s internet traffic and holding those records for at least a year, and in revelations about MI5 monitoring every domestic phone-call in the UK for the last ten years.

Governments like people to be scared – and more and more, we seem to be happy to let the government take these measures ‘because it makes us safer’. It doesn’t, it just gives up more information to the government – and all in the name of ‘safety’.

Basically, it’s shit.

[I know, I need to think more about this and write more. But it’s a phrase that bugs me every time it’s used]

Privacy Breach

Yet again, today there’s a story about another place revealing a confidential list of customers in emails – and as usual, in what’s known as a Corbett round here (courtesy of a certain Irish marketing person) it’s looking like the leaker sent the email using CC instead of BCC.

In this case, the information is even more sensitive than usual, as it’s people who’ve used a particular STI clinic in London, and may have also revealed their HIV status.  Oh, bloody whoops.

It amazes me how often this seems to happen – and how easy it should be to fix.

The first answer is, obviously, train people.

But after that, it’s about defending against laziness and stupidity.  But even that’s pretty easy.

All it really needs is a block on recipients in CC.  If you’re sending an email and it’s got more than (say) 10 addresses in the CC field, it simply asks if you’re sure you want to send it with those people in CC rather than BCC.  That’s an email-client thing – but is easy to do.

It can’t be that difficult – my own email clients all already ask if I want to send an email with no attachments if the message contains keywords like ‘attached’ or ‘CV’, after all.

A similar thing could be done on the mail-server as well – put in a rule that if there’s more than [defined limit] of addresses in the CC, it doesn’t send without an authorisation, an acknowledgement that this is OK.

There will still be the odd blithering fucktrumpet who manages to send out a whole mailing-list in CC (or even To) – but at least make it harder for them to do so.

Surely that’s not asking too much?


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