Scammers, Spammers, Tricksters and Trolls

Hardly a week goes by when we don’t get a call telling us we’re about to get done for tax fraud or threatening to cut off our internet if we don’t pay up. Then there’s the tirade of texts and emails about dodgy activity on accounts we don’t hold or failed transactions on accounts we do – pay here, pay now. If we didn’t know any better, we’d have sleepless nights fretting the bailiffs might come a-knocking.

Then I started receiving abuse from some loony toon in the States about an image I used in a couple of posts here in Pansyland. The woman claimed the picture was of her, posted without her consent. Except, of course, it isn’t of her. It’s a picture of someone I once knew who died in tragic circumstances. My abuser also alleged that posting her picture made me complicit in a campaign of hate and revenge porn by a former squeeze. Except, of course, the image isn’t remotely saucy. It’s just an old picture from happier times.

It’s hard to unpick my very own little troll’s backstory as her written English is so poor. It’s just a rambling, incoherent rant, really. Anyway, apparently she’s reported me to the ‘sheriff’ (what, of Nottingham?) and threatened to have me arrested by the CIA. I’ll do ‘jail time’ as the Americans call it, if I don’t take the image down. She’s used several channels to have a pop – email, here on the blog, Facebook. At first it was quite menacing but after a few days it just became an irritant. She clearly needs help. Listen up Martha, it ain’t you. Go see a shrink.

Report, block, delete.

And For My Next Trick

We’re currently living next to a building site. A local developer is chucking up a few more bungalows, like the world really needs a few more bungalows – affordable housing for the cash-strapped, yes, more well-appointed dwellings with double garages for the well-heeled, no. It’s a lost cause and we’re resigned to it.

While a big, butch workman swinging an even butcher mechanical digger was busy excavating a trench for a new drain, he ripped out an underground communications cable, cutting phone and broadband lines to every house in the street.

Oops!

This is during a pandemic with people trying to earn an honest crust working from home, doing their bit to keep themselves and the economy afloat. Head-scratching all round by shuffling workers in hard hats and a ‘wasn’t me, gov’ vacant look on their red faces.

Engineers from Openreach* armed with tools and sensors rode to the rescue, plugging us back in the very next day. I call that a result. It’s a temporary fix, though. The cable can’t be re-buried until the new drain is finished. So the builders have protected it from further damage with a tatty old upturned wheelbarrow. Very hi-tech. What are the chances?

And for my next trick – no water and no electricity?

* For the uninitiated, Openreach is the company that manages much of the UK’s fixed-line telecoms infrastructure.

Spamalot

I’ve been plagued with spam comments ever since I started this blogging malarkey – nearly 370,000 so far. Just like Domestos and germs, my spam filter kills off 99.9% of ’em so I don’t have to. I used to get an eclectic mix of spam – the collective weaknesses, desires, vices and foibles of humanity laid bare, blended with endless machine-generated auto-babble. These days the slut and smut stuff is mostly absent, and I generally just get pseudo-clinical gibberish, all targeted at a single post from way back in 2012. Here’s an example:

Decrease of a stage of hemoglobin at males up to 120g/l, at girls up to 110g/l is possible. This can imply dependence on male breadwinners, abandoned opportunities for paid work, and exhaustion that extracts a physical and psychological toll. The former is shown, for example, in exams for cutaneous sensitization, whereas the latter is proven in impairment of the power to resist infection erectile dysfunction for women Correlation of preoperative depression and somatic percepRecommendation #2: tion scales with postoperative incapacity and quality of life afer Collecting data concerning the preoperative characteristics and lumbar discectomy. In the course of therapy, the following duties are solved in every particular affected person: fi reduction of exacerbation; fi selection of adequate primary remedy; fi reduction of the danger of development of complications; fi decreasing the danger of side effects in the course of the course.

The post in question is Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum. It caused quite a stir at the time, I’m pleased to say. Has the post been deliberately targeted? Who would do such as thing? Who knows. But anyone searching online for the forum will often find my ancient post on the first page of Google – the sweet spot for any website – just below the entry for the forum itself. Perhaps all these spam attacks are keeping it there? Happy days!

Cops and Robbers

The deluge of GDPR emails has finally dried up, thank the Lord. For the uninitiated, GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. It’s the latest wheeze from the European Union intended to strengthen the law about the collection, privacy, security and retention of personal data. The new rules are fairly straightforward, if a little OTT – like so much that comes out of Brussels. I’m all for protecting the little person from the exploitation of corporate bigwigs but I can’t help thinking the reputable will comply, the disreputable won’t bother and those squeezed in the middle will be bewildered – think brown owl trying to chivvy up the girl guides or some poor sod juggling the mailing list of a local am-dram society. I doubt it will stop nuisance calls from India or spam emails from God knows where. A case in point was the mailshot that recently dropped into my inbox from a US company. They were trying to flog me such must-have products as a concealed ankle holster perfect for a sneaky armed robbery, a decorative bracelet knife because Saturday night’s alright for fighting and a magnetised holder for the loaded pistol I keep under the sink next to the Fairy Liquid (that’s a joke, obviously). Every trailer should have one. Did I subscribe to this crap? Nope. Did I unsubscribe straightaway? Yep. Will it make the slightest bit of difference? Not a chance.

If you like to see my own half-cocked GDPR kinda-compliant privacy thingy, you can see it here. Happy reading.

Happy as a Ring Tone

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After a two year love-hate relationship (more hate than love), I’ve dumped my smarty pants Samsung phone. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Well, it was more knackered than me and needed feeding twice a day just to keep the lights on. Not so smart, after all. In any case, my stumpy little fingers struggled to get to grips with the tiny touch screen – I was forever firing up fancy apps that I neither wanted nor understood. Tales of my idiocy even reached the Capital, as evidenced by the birthday card I received from my sister-in-law last year (above).

Sorry, Samsung, I just don’t love you anymore. Time to move on.

When I popped into town to browse for alternatives, the arsy child with the bugger-off face at the Virgin Media shop was less than helpful so I decided to dump them too. I can do that. I’m the customer. Step forward a well-known supermarket chain with a doddle-to-use website, cheaper tariffs and no hidden extras. Its core business may be going down the pan along with its shareholder’s dividends, but its phone offer is crystal-clear. Now I have a brand new Nokia Lumia and, so far, it’s more love than hate. I’d never understood why the nation’s yoof was so glued to their smart-arse phones that they would walk into lamp posts and trip over the homeless. Until now, that is. I was so impressed that I got Liam one too. Now we sit for hours, side-by-side ignoring each other. I guess that’s what you call progress.