D4D

There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing

Archive for the category “People”

Current Scams

At the moment, there are a couple of interesting (and fairly well-crafted) scams going around.  I’ve seen/received all of these in the last week or so.

Firstthe ‘we know what you’ve been up to‘ scam email.

It says something along the lines of “I know what you’ve been up to – when you were on that porn site (it’s noticeably non-specific on details) I loaded a screen-grabber to your machine, so we could record your ‘activities’“.  Some of them also have something like “We know your password for the site was [whatever]” – the password is usually an old one that they’ve taken from a record including your email address, and gambles on people using the same password across multiple sites. (In fairness, most people do exactly this)  And then it asks for a ransom “or your shame will be available for all to see” It’s pretty basic, but is apparently enough to scare a certain sub-set of people (AKA gullible idiots) who so far have forked out around $250,000 to the scammers.

Second – and there are two types of this currently bonging around – are the HMRC scams.

These basically draw on the whole paranoia about HMRC losing payments, or trying to take the business owner to court.

I’ve had umpteen emails about “Your payment hasn’t gone through” along with attached links or forms to fill in – always a pretty damn good clue that it’s a scam.  And again, they’re all ridiculously non-specific, don’t mention a company name/details, or what the payment is supposedly for – another warning sign

The second type, which is a bit nastier, is the phone message – I’ve had a couple now, with a message saying “We’re issuing a warrant in order to discuss this matter with you“, and sounding a lot more official.  Still no details though, or anything about what they’re wanting to discuss. (I know, in theory GDPR would also stop them from discussing, but that’s a side point for now)   However, they show the phone number – in my experience, calls from HMRC and the like come through a switchboard, and usually show as “Unknown Number” – and a quick search on that number provides more than enough evidence that it’s a scam.

 

Of course, there are plenty of other scam emails out there – it’s just that these are the ones I’ve noticed specifically this week, and particularly after having received a couple of the “HMRC” calls yesterday and today, so I thought I’d write a bit about them.

Lead Developer 2018

This week I was in London during the week, attending the 2018 Lead Developer conference.  I’ve been before, both in 2016 and 2017 (so I’ve only missed the first one, back in 2015) and this year was as good as the previous ones. It’s gone from size to size, and this year had 1,100 delegates – which also meant that it’s outgrown the QEII centre, so this time we were at the theatre in the Barbican centre instead.

I had decided this year that I couldn’t be arsed with frantic travelling, so instead went down to London on Tuesday afternoon, checked into a hotel in Islington (so I had plenty of opportunity to keep up with walking and so on as well) and stayed for two nights.  On the Tuesday I also darkened the doors of Mac and Wild, where I had a truly ridiculous (and rather excellent) off-menu burger. Following the first day of the conference I also walked to Mere (again – and I hadn’t remembered I’d done much the same thing last year until I re-read the post from then) and back.

On the Thursday, once the conference was done, I walked up to where I’d parked the car, and had dinner in Wahaca up there before driving home.  This had been planned, as it meant I left London just at the time that England started their kickyball match in the World Cup, which meant that the roads were comparatively much quieter than usual, and that the drive home was pretty easy.

Along the way, I’ve also been able to complete a full working week, allbeit crammed into three days rather than five. It’s been pretty tough, but at least it’s all done now.

After this weekend, things calm down a lot – and I honestly can’t wait.

Bourdain

Last week, I was as surprised as everyone else to hear that the chef Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.

Bourdain was a huge influence on the catering world – you only have to read the many obituaries (including this one) to see the influence he had, and the respect in which he was held.

Depression and suicide are bastards. They make you think you’re not worth anything, make you think the world won’t miss you, make you insignificant. They’re lying bastards.

Twitter and Facebook have been full of people expressing shock, and making depression and mental health a subject to speak about, to help remove the stigma around it all, and make more people aware of how prevalent these things really are.

If nothing else good comes out of the deaths of celebrities, then at least it’s making people talk, making mental health normalised and spoken about.  And that can’t be a bad legacy really, can it?

Property Inspection

One of the other things that came up last week was the annual property inspection and safety check by my landlord.  It’s my sixth year in this house, and I don’t mind the safety checks at all.  (Yes, they’re a legal requirement, but still, I’m happy for them to happen)

Getting them done is always a pain in the bum – every time I leave them a note to say please make sure the cats aren’t allowed upstairs, or trapped upstairs when they leave.  Every year, they’re upstairs and closed in the bedroom.   I get it, they’re not cat people etc., but jesus Fuck, is it really that difficult?

Anyway, this year, I decided to stay home while they did the checks, and now I can see why it all happens. They just leave doors open, no thought of anything else, get the jobs done, and then bugger off. I’m not surprised, but it still just strikes me as being a bit slack.  Or maybe I’m too tense/stroppy about these things. I don’t know.

On the other hand, it also meant I got to finally meet my landlord. Again, six years in the place, and we’d never met.  So it was good to do that, and for both of us to be able to put faces to names and so on.  (Well, I think it’s a good thing so far. He might just decide I’m a disaster area now, and get rid of me come November…)

But all’s well with the house, too.  A couple of small maintenance things and so on, but nothing urgent or needing lots of stuff done.

And at least the bloody cats weren’t trapped in the bedroom this time.  I class that as a win.

Utterly Unsurprised

At the moment the media is full of the story about Cambridge Analytica, and it’s use of Facebook profiles/data in order to (allegedly) provide personality profiles and feedback to campaigns such as the 2016 US Presidential Election.

Personally, I’m more surprised at how shocked and amazed most people are about this.

Facebook has never really been about being useful to people – it’s always been a marketer’s wet-dream, getting people to voluntarily enter information about themselves, as well as about their interests, social connections, preferences, brands, and so on.  The ‘social network’ thing was effectively a mechanism to make things work better for advertisers and marketers – it drew people in, it made them happy to give up their data, and their ‘reward’ was to connect with other people.

In the case of Cambridge Analytica, they appear to have taken the submitted data and linked profiles (as well as the ‘friends of friends’ profiles, which is pretty dodgy as they didn’t consent to it themselves, but again, I’m pretty sure that was part of Facebook’s allowances at the time) and then made use of that data for their own uses.  Which isn’t – or at least shouldn’t be – Facebook’s problem.  Supposedly the data from Facebook ‘wasn’t meant to be shared with others’, but that’s pretty tricky to word. If a vendor has sold me something (regardless of whether that product is data, goods, services, or whatever) and I’ve paid for it, then it’s mine to with as I will.  It’s no longer the vendor’s responsibility.  Otherwise we’re saying “I bought a car and drove it at people, it’s the vendor’s fault, they shouldn’t have sold it to me“, which is frankly fucking ridiculous.

There’ll be a lot more of these ‘stories’ to come out now, from any number of different data providers/handlers.  Now Facebook are in the media’s gunsights, they’re going to have a tough time getting out of it.  (And bearing in mind the ubiquity of Facebook logins on other sites for things like commenting, etc., it’s going to be quite the shitshow, I suspect)

All told, though, it’s just utterly unsurprising – except for the apparent shock of so many people who seemed to think that Facebook was some kind of benevolent ‘let the world stay in touch’ thing, with no cynical over-arching purpose, budget, plan, or activities.

Darwin Strikes Again

I can’t deny, there’s a certain part of me that is quite happy with Darwinism, and the way idiots seem to find new and exciting ways to take themselves out of the genepool.  (And before anyone asks, I’ve been reading the Darwin Awards for years!)

Today’s news carried the story of an American couple where one was killed “as a YouTube prank” because he believed that a thick book would stop a bullet. So he put said book over his chest, and got his partner to shoot him.  Yep, you read that right.  (It’s also worth noting that the book was only 1.5 inches thick. So, not very.)

Bear in mind, when people are testing firearms, one medium that’s used to fire into is a block of telephone directories. (You can see an example here on YouTube, and there are many others)  So a book that’s less than two inches thick? Yeah, no chance.

As it turns out – unsurprisingly – the guy died.  His girlfriend – the one he persuaded to make the shot – has now been jailed for six months, although as the story says, the sentence is actually pretty lenient, as it’s obvious that the entire plan was made by the now-deceased, and his partner was just an idiot who believed he knew what he was talking about.

Yes, it’s a sad story, but at the same time it’s also a story of pretty epic stupidity…

Staying In

Today, I chose to stay home rather than driving in what was supposed to be terrible weather. I made the choice when I was about to leave for the office, and there was a significant amount of snow coming down, at which “Sod that!” became the decision.  (This is also related to the fact that all roads from my place to work are uphill, and last time it was like this, the roads were paralysed because dickheads couldn’t drive up them safely)

As it turned out, the warnings – for this area, at least – were unfounded. I could have got in OK, and got home.  We’re an exception to the rule, admittedly – but I would’ve been OK.

All the same, I’m glad I stayed home. I’m happier to have been here, rather than the regular checking for weather changes, and wondering whether I’d get home or not (with the news having been suitably hysterical about the entire thing all day)  so all told it’s been a lot easier on the mind than doing the travelling.

I’ll almost certainly go in as usual tomorrow and Friday, although we’ll see what happens on each overnight, and re-assess based on that.

 

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