TeleBilling Call Back Scam

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I received the following invoice a few days ago from TeleBilling Ltd, showing a total amount payable of £39.50.

Scan of TeleBilling invoice

Scan of TeleBilling invoice

I didn’t recognise the name TeleBilling Ltd. I didn’t recognise the number supposedly called. I didn’t recognise the service that I was apparently being charged for. And I also didn’t recognise the number given as “my” telephone number: Continue reading

Barclaycard expects customers to ignore sensible practices

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I forgot to pay my Barclaycard bill this month. The amount I forgot to pay was massive. Absolutely huge.

Yes, the balance from my statement last month was a staggering £21.28.

Okay, that small amount of sarcasm aside (almost as small as the amount in question), at the end of the day the payment was due and I forgot to make it. It was my mistake, so let’s just get on to the point of this:

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The curious coincidence of ‘Carriers’ and ‘The Crazies’

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Okay, it’s not that interesting – in fact pretty boring – but when it happened, the absolutely amazing alliteration advanced itself into my mind and I just wanted to use it.

Basically, the  complete non-story is that when I gave my nephew a lift somewhere yesterday, he commented that he’d been to the cinema the night before and seen a trailer for a film that was about some kind of virus, but it made him think of zombies due to the what happens to the infected, the way they behaved. He couldn’t remember, at first, what it was called, only that it began with a C.

Knowing that a remake of George A. Romero‘s The Crazies was at some stage in its production (I haven’t kept up, so I don’t know what stage it’s at) I asked if that’s what it was. He said no, then remembered that it was called Carriers – which I hadn’t heard of.

I went to see Law Abiding Citizen today (it’s reasonable; a bit of a stretch and definitely requiring some suspension of disbelief, but it’s reasonable; okay; not too bad.)

One of the previews was for Carriers.

And the next trailer was for The Crazies.

There you go. I said it was crap non-story. I just needed to tell it as an excuse to use the alliterative title.

I appear to have shamed my local paper into censoring me

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It was only a really, really trivial thing – but that’s what it looks like: My local paper have removed a comment I made on their website, and I can only imagine that it was removed because I shamed them.

The news report I commented on is this story about the son of a recent lottery winner. When I read it I noticed the comment that the chap in question wasn’t happy that his “personal life had come out” – the fifth paragraph in the article, which reveals where he lives, and his wife and son’s names and ages. The paragraph before gives his age and what he does. Indeed, later in the article, it points out that he originally claimed to do something else, in order to keep his real job a secret – I imagine most, if not all of the rest of the details I’ve mentioned were also included in what he didn’t want revealed.

The Bristol Evening Post published that information on their website in the very story in which they quote the man as saying he was unhappy about those details being published. Ironic, I thought.

And that’s pretty much what my comment said. I quote from memory, but it was something like:

‘[He] said he was “not happy” that his personal life had come out’ – quotes the Evening Post, while publishing those very details. How ironic.

Today, that comment is gone.

Removed.

Deleted.

Censored.

Some thoughts on munged email addresses

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Note: This post is actually an article I’ve had on a couple of websites for a number of years, originally written shortly after softrock.co.uk became the victim of a very deliberate use of email addresses at that domain in the headers of UCE (aka a “Joe Job”). Now that this blog is up and running, it’s the ideal place for such material – so one quick re-read, check and update later, here it is.

Introduction

Right at the start I should state that I am very strongly opposed to the use of munged email addresses, due to softrock.co.uk having been inundated with non-delivery reports and other annoyances since spammers used softrock.co.uk addresses in the From: line of their junk several years ago. I make no denial of that and do not try to defend the fact that my position is biased against munged addresses as a result of this.

However, please do not let that put you off reading this if you are a user of a munged address, or if you are considering using one. If anything, you should read on because there are some alternative suggestions towards the end of this article, just for you. Please consider using them, instead of your current or intended approach.

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Spoiler space on usenet and mailing lists

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Firstly, what actually is a spoiler? It’s where a plot detail in a film, book, TV show or whatever, is revealed to people before they are able to see the film/show, read the book, etc for themselves. Sometimes a spoiler can be fairly mild, revealing nothing more than the name of a new character, but they can also be very severe, revealing a significant plot point, and spoiling the viewer’s enjoyment if they know what’s coming (hence “spoiler”).

So, then, what’s spoiler space? Well, a long standing convention on Usenet is to employ “spoiler space” when revealing plot details. This is a mutually acceptable approach between those who wish to discuss what they’ve seen (for whom such a discussion isn’t spoiling anything), and those who don’t wish to discuss what they haven’t seen (for whom such a discussion is spoiling things). Spoiler space is simply a couple of dozen blank lines inserted before any comments that include spoilers (with a note above those lines to say what film, TV show, etc is being spoiled). The idea is that people see that bit above the blank lines telling them what is potentially being spoiled below, and decide for themselves whether they want to scroll down and read/participate in that discussion. (The point of the blank lines is to force the actual spoilers down the screen, hopefully off the bottom, so that they aren’t read by accident – good peripheral vision can be a dangerous thing!)

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How to prolong a customer survey

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Yesterday morning I received a telephone call from a company acting on behalf of my bank, asking if I would take part in a customer survey – i.e., would I be willing to answer a few questions over the ‘phone? Normally, I’d say “no” to such things, but for various reasons which I won’t go into here, I chose to say “yes” on this occasion.

So the girl at the company undertaking the survey, who was a very polite, friendly young lady, started asking questions – but there was a problem. The line kept cutting out, mid-question, making it difficult for me to understand what she was asking. By cutting out, I mean the line would go completely silent – no background noise at all – the way some of these call centre systems do when the person at the other end isn’t talking; their end tends to completely mute. That’s perfectly normal, but not in the middle of something being said by that person.

I pointed this out to her, and she switched to another line and we tried again. For the first question, things seemed fine, but then it started happening again, so I pointed it out again, and again she switched lines. The result seemed the same, things were fine at first, but the cutting out soon ensued. This time, though, I decided to just carry on – it seemed likely that if I pointed it out again, it might only resolve the problem for a moment, and it would be back.

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You are here

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And so am I.

While I procrastinate on an ongoing basis when it comes to finishing the new Soft Rock Software website (just look at the awful variation on my logo which is currently there at the top right – ugh!), which is more important than my personal website (which doesn’t even exist at the moment), I’ve decided to install WordPress, and use that as a way to publish miscellaneous ramblings. This is the first, just to start things off.

The sort of things you can expect to find here will be varied, but might include:

  • Examples of my general silliness, some of which you might laugh at, and others stare at blankly thinking “WTF?”
  • The occasional review of something I’ve seen or read – I’m unlikely to review everything, but if it stands out from the crowd (for me) as being particularly good or bad, I might throw up a comment.
  • Useful information? Maybe. I might also consider installing WordPress to use on the Soft Rock Software website and, if so, that’s where generally useful stuff would be more likely to end up.
  • Things that could be described in any way except the ways above, but which I haven’t thought of as I type this? Probably.

This being my first entry, on the first ‘blog’ I’ve set up, it’s hardly surprising that I forgot to include something. I could add this via the comments, but given that other than mentioning that I’ve set it up on my Facebook status (without mentioning a first entry – after all, it doesn’t really say anything useful) I’ve not really publicised it. This paragraph and the next two, then, is the sum total of that edit.

I mentioned above that the reason for doing this is so that I can publish the occasional item while I fail to finish redesigning my business site, and while I have no personal site. It’s probably worth adding that although it might sound like I write a great deal (possibly true, but it’s much less these days, and most of it is disposable rubbish), and that posts will be frequent, in fact they almost certainly won’t.

Finally, it’s worth expanding on my reasons for doing this. What I said above almost makes it sound like I’m doing this as a temporary thing, while the redesign is ongoing, and that having set it up then thought about adding one to the Soft Rock site when it’s ready. The truth is that I had been considering adding blogging software to both my business and personal sites for a while, though obviously, my original plan was to finish the former and start AND finish the latter before doing so. For a brief moment there, I also considered setting up the main riscository.com site (which also doesn’t exist at the moment) as a blog in its own right – possibly as a Drobe alternative (though not as good) now that it’s in Archive mode. One reason I didn’t, though, is because I’m not likely to update it that often, and another is because a newsy type thing has been added to the front page of riscos.info – and we already have various news portals in the RISC OS world of varying quality and quantity of updates. However, maybe I still will, concentrating just on a more limited subset of things; those that are of interest or some relevance to me.

And I now promise not to edit this first post any more. Which statement, in a paragraph of its own, makes an additional paragraph over and above the ones above that form part of the edit – but I’m sure I can be forgiven. 🙂

So there you go.