Slack Data

In the car I hired last weekend, it had a load of built-in tech – Ford’s Sync system – that was quite interesting, not least for the fact that it worked really nicely and easily. Connecting my phone to the car was a doddle, the satnav worked well (and better than my usual stand-alone device in several ways) and it all just seemed pretty easy.

However. It’s obvious that it was designed for a standard “family car” scenario, rather than a vehicle that would be hired to many different users. Which makes sense, but leads to an interesting longer-term problem…

Basically, people are lazy – and don’t think about their data. So the convenience of connecting one’s phone to the car system for hands-free calls etc is great, as is the simple download of the phone’s address book to the system. But if you then don’t delete it when you take the car back to the hire place, it’s all available to the next user. The same applies to the satnav system – ‘recent destinations’ is a goldmine of activity, right down to house number and location. (And I suspect, with a bit of work, one could connect the destination to a phone number in that downloaded phonebook)

It just interests me, how little people care (or understand) about their information. I cleared down the whole car system before I returned it, which took less than five minutes all told. So it’s not much work, but it’s still work, which most people don’t seem willing to undertake.

I’ve suggested to the hire company that it should perhaps be part of the car sanitising process when it’s returned (or before it’s hired back out, whichever) although I realise that makes it more hassle for them, and there’s a lot of different setups in the various cars.

Of course, it’d be better if people cleaned up after themselves – or the car tech had a “forget everything” button/process (although that would still be too much effort for most people) that did the job. But that won’t happen until people realise how important this shit can be, and sadly that tends to only happen by negative paths/occurrences/events, and will always be learned too late.


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…


Low Steppage

Because of the issues with the car last week, it meant I actually got out a lot less than usual.

I’ve written before about my general aims to get out more, walk more and so on – although I do a lot of walking anyway, in comparison to most people.   As part of that, a couple of years ago now I started using the FitBit activity trackers and so on, which allowed me to keep an eye on things.

I have a 5,000-step-per-day ‘target’, which I normally blast through (although some days are closer than others) and average around 50,000 steps per week. Last week, for the first time since getting the FitBit,  I did about half that, and didn’t reach my daily target on most days.

A lot of that was simply that I was working from home, rather than in my office in Milton Keynes. That meant I didn’t go out for a walk in the morning, nor to get lunch and then take the ‘long’ way back to the office – all of which contribute to those totals.

Additionally, I wasn’t feeling great – just a bit burned out, and with this nagging cough (nothing serious, it just keeps tickling and being a twat) it meant I didn’t want to go out as much as I usually do.  And then not doing my usual weekend stuff of going to the cinema, walking round Milton Keynes etc. – it all conspired to make it my worst week in two years.

Of course, my worst week’s activity is still a lot better than that of a lot of people, but it’s annoyed me anyway.


Weather and Maintenance

It’s November, so in the last few days we’ve seen the clocks go back and had some seriously thick fogs in the mornings and evenings. That means people are (or at least should be) driving with lights on and so on – and it also illustrates that plenty of them don’t have everything working.

As usual, I find it utterly gobsmacking how people can drive along – while maintaining the same speeds they’d drive at on dry roads with decent visibility – with broken headlamps, no lights at all, and no foglights.  (And, of course there’s then the ones who leave on foglights well into clear weather, or use them at night when there’s no need at all)

I lost count of the number of – usually pale/grey – cars with no lights at all, in visibility that could be measured in feet, at best. I don’t understand what goes through someone’s head, that whole “well, I can see fuck-all, but I’ll keep my lights turned off, because even though I can’t see, it’s Day Time, so I don’t need lights” kind of process.

Equally, I don’t get how people can consistently drive with a broken/non-working headlamp, and the massively-reduced visibility that gives. I know it happens, that they can just blow without warning – I’ve had it happen. But when it has happened, it gets replaced rapidly – particularly in Autumn and Winter. Even in the poorest days, you (or at least I) still make sure that the car is safe.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case with a lot of people, and it’s a mindset I just don’t get.


Situationally Unaware

As regular readers (what few there are) know by now, this year I’ve been renting a small office in a big building. On each floor there’s ten or so small to medium-sized businesses, so there’s a fair number of things going on at any given time, and deliveries are just par for the course.

What surprises me (still) though is how unaware so many of the people in those companies are. It’s a regular occurrence for delivery people to come up and not find a business, so ask another one where the recipient business is.  And it seems like hardly anyone else knows even who’s on this floor, let alone the others in the building.

All of which strikes me as pretty strange. After all, the people at this end of the building walk past all the other businesses/offices on the way here. Yet they obviously haven’t paid attention to the signs outside the other offices, saying who’s in each one.

I know the names of all the companies – not the employees, obviously, that’d be stalkery – and where they are on this floor. Come to that, I’ve a pretty good idea of all the businesses in the building – if not a precise direction then at least to the point of which floor, and which way to go out of the lifts to get to them.

Surely I’m not the only person who does this? It’s only a basic awareness of stuff around me, after all…


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?

 


All Lit Up

In the office building I share with a bundle of other companies, I find I have my irritations. I know, shocking.

One that regularly annoys me is the way people shove on all the lights – even in public spaces where they’re not necessary – and completely fail to then turn them off again.

At the start of the day, people come in and just automatically turn on every sodding light – regardless of the conditions outside, the time of year, or of anyone else in any other offices.  In short, the entire place is lit up like fucking fairyland – even in the height of summer, when you don’t need the lights on at all.

The same applies in the toilets – again, an area that at this time of year really doesn’t need any illumination other than daylight. But no, on go the lights, and then no other fucker turns them off again.

Of course, I don’t mind people turning on the lights when they need them. What bugs me is that they then don’t bother to turn them off when they leave the rooms/facilities.

But the thing is, everyone pays a piece of the electricity bill. You’d think that would encourage some responsibility, some desire to only use what’s necessary. But of course that’d require some vague sense of altruism, of being interested in something other than self, of just giving a shit about things.  And that’s what’s missing.

Grrrr.