Sun is shinin, weather is sweeeeeet, yeah…

Well, it was for the most part – with the notable exception of the deluge that I encountered on my (pedestrian!) trip from Beckenham post office to my flat a few days ago. Caught in t-shirt and shorts in the downpour, all I could do was chuckle with amusement as I strolled back home – entering the building at the same time as one of my neighbours, I caused him no end of amusement.

Well, you dress for sun, you get rain – who’da thunk it? Welcome to the English summer! But the weather has been glorious for the most part, and with the lengthening days my mood lifts exponentially – and my mind turns to leisurely pursuits.

And in that respect, I’ve been totally sucked into the English culture – as soon as the clouds break, we want to go abroad! What a bizarre cultural phenomenon – mind you, last year’s wintertime trip to Australia delivered a huge shock at both ends of the trip, so there’s something to be said for enjoying the seasons as you’re accustomed to them, and not rocking the boat… 🙂

Work continues to burgeon, keeping me off the streets and at my desk. I’m still selling the car, though, as it’s a case of just too little, too late. But I’ve got my beady eye on a few potential lower-cost replacements; we’ll see how it pans out. And *if* the bloody thing sells at all – it’s been advertised for a few weeks now, and I only had calls from 4 potential buyers (two of whom turned up, then never called again!), and a few dozen canvassers trying to get me to advertise in their publication. If I’d a tenner for every time I said “bugger off!” over the past few weeks, I wouldn’t have to sell the car at all!

Ah, but there’s a bank holiday weekend coming up, and lots to do with it. As well as finishing off a few bits of work, I’ll be dusting off the mountain bike, pumping up its flabby tyres and heading out to find a park that’s not overrun with families, there to scratch and tear around the woodland paths to no purpose but screamin’ good fun! There’s more, but it’s classified – I could tell you, but then, er…. well, you’d know, and it wouldn’t be classified anymore, would it? (note to self: find a different cool movie line to quote!) Apart from anything else, I need to eke out the happenins, or I wouldn’t have enough material to update the website more than once a month. Oi – none of that!

There’s plenty of other news in the world at the moment, anyway, not least the US forces pulling out of Falluja in Iraq – I’d imagine after the carpet-bombing of the last couple of nights, the people of that unhappy place will be breathing a collective sigh of relief. Bush must be sick as a parrot just now, digging for Kofi Annan’s phone number in his trashcan…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, President Blair in his infinite wisdom has announced that he’ll be handing the decision making on possibly *the* most complex document ever to come out of the Brussels political super-computer to the great British public, in the form of a referendum on the EU constitution. Now that’s an interesting thought: without serious widescale education as to the content and potential effects of said document, I can’t see how that could work. Tony trying hard to set himself up as a global statesman, methinks, with an ill-advised manoeuvre that can’t do him any good – interesting that he’ll allow a referendum on this, but not on whether we should go to war without evidence or aggression to start the proceedings off…

Finally, as a follow-up to last week’s diatribe, this article on the BBC website tells of the first man in the UK to be arrested on suspicion of “phishing”. Nail ’em up, I say! Crucifixion’s too good for ’em….!!! 🙂

And on that happy note, I shall wish you all a very happy and hopefully reasonably sane May Day bank holiday weekend. Hopefully with more of that summery-type weather….

Security issues…

I’m sure nobody missed me, really. I just couldn’t be bothered posting anything; what little gossip or happenins I had, I didn’t feel like sharing. So sue me… 🙂

To anyone who was worried – I’m fine, just lazy! Been working hard, playing a bit, and generally getting on with it. One of the projects that’s been keeping me busy is the Harlem Globetrotters’ UK Tour – and I’ve been rewarded for my hard work with a few complimentary tickets! My siblings went to see them in Dublin on the weekend, and apparently they rocked. Cool – I’m seeing them in Wembley on the 25th, and it promises to be a hell of a show!!!

On the subject of the headline above, something that’s been troubling me recently is the increase in levels of spam – not only the rash of under-the-counter prescription drugs, or e-mails offering women penis enlargement, or any of that, but the ‘phishing’ mails. These are e-mails that are designed to get you to enter your account and password details, believing that they are from your bank or other secure source. Most notably, Halifax customers were hit by this one, but eBay and PayPal are others who’ve been spoofed in this way.

I feel moved to comment. Here it is, folks: there is no way that *anyone* who holds secure information about you is going to ask you to verify it through e-mail! Another point I have to make is that e-mail is not secure! I’ve seen people send credit card details through e-mail, without realising that it’s a transparent form of communication. Should it be intercepted, your card is compromised. Take note.

Some of these e-mails direct you to a link which is a spoofed version of the genuine website – if you get an e-mail from your bank that says “Click this link to go to our website”, IGNORE IT and use the address you always use for your banking.

VIRUSES: there are two ends to this one. The first is the genuine virus attack, and I would say that the best advice is to spend a couple of quid on a decent virus protection program and keep it constantly updated. Apart from that, if you get an e-mail from someone you’ve never heard of, entitled “Your details” or “What do you think?” or any other familiar approach, it’s likely to contain a viral attachment. It’s like safe sex – without abstinence it’s virtually impossible to be 100% protected, but take precautions and you at least have a chance! Oh, and similar to ‘phishing’ is the spoof e-mail from Microsoft, offering you an update (“Download this attachment…”) – get real! Microsoft don’t send e-mails to everyone on the planet warning them of security risks – why should they?! Its a virus….

On the other end is the hoaxes. You’ll get an e-mail, usually from a friend who’s been hoodwinked by this particular ‘chain’ – it names a file that’s a normal (usually dispensable) component of Windows, and it tells you to delete it at once if you find it, because “THAT’S THE VIRUS”. While harmless, this is desperately irritating, and people hurry to e-mail everyone in their address book to tell them that they’ve found this virus on their PC, so they’re all more than likely infected. And so on, and so forth. Do yourself a favour: before wantonly deleting harmless files from your computer, do a search in Google or wherever to see if this is a real virus alert. If you get to Symantec’s website and find it’s a hoax, you’ve saved yourself a bunch of time and embarrassment.

Final word: this article on the BBC website came as a real eye-opener to me! Someone doing a survey at Liverpool Street station found a huge number of people willing to share their computer passwords… Now, I’m pretty certain that a fair number of those people gave false passwords, but the story is hair-raising, to say the least. My password to everything is “banana”, by the way – feel free to scour my e-mails, drain my bank accounts and suck the life out of my credit cards! Happy Gullible Day!!! Sheesh…

Well, that’s all I have to say in this particular rant – just had to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening – normal service (i.e. pointless rambling drivel) will be resumed shortly.

Banished to the 8th Circle!

Heh – this is an interesting little gem that my mate Stu sent through the other day: calculate to which level of Dante’s Hell you’ll end up being posted. Mine is a nasty level 8…!

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Eigth Level of Hell – the Malebolge!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Low
Level 2 (Lustful) High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) High
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) High
Level 7 (Violent) High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Very High
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Moderate

Take the Dante’s Inferno Test

Well, there you go – there were a surprising number of level 2’s among the people who took it, but I guess I’m just that bit more malicious than I am lustful. Who’d’a thunk it…?? 🙂

Ireland was a blast; despite my moaning about having to take my work over there with me, I didn’t manage to get *any* work done at all. Never mind – I’m hard at it now! We had a good time recording with Julien, with a couple of tracks well on the way to being masterpieces – er, sorry, mastered – by the time we left. Watch this space in the coming weeks for a music download or two, once they’re complete.

What are all you people doing in my house? Get out, ye hoors!