Monday, 27 February 2012

Who the hell do they think they're kidding?

One of the wonderful things about having a Gmail account is that about 95% of the spam that gets sent to me is intercepted by Google, and stuck in a spambox until such time as I get around to flushing the collected crud down an electronic drain (a Spambox? Spam cage? Spam trap? OK, Now I've a mental image of a tin of spam with legs, hooves, a tail, and a pair of red-tipped horns, snorting in vexatious anger at the walls of a deep-fat fryer!). However, occasionally, on or two bits of spam get through, masquerading as legitimate email.

One such example occurred last night, as I was recovering from a strained (strained or sprained? Yeah, I could never work that out either.) neck muscle - just a muscle, thankfully. Seems I'd slept awkwardly yesterday after getting home from work, the result being a head that couldn't turn in either direction without shooting pains down either shoulder.Work weren't too happy with me - it's bloody difficult to get a standby driver on a Sunday, but if I can't move me head, how can I drive? Catch-22. It's still a tad sore now, but at least I can move my head around. Anyhow, back to the spam.

So, an item of spam got though the great Googlewall. Google, who make their money through advertising, obviously don't want spam getting through; it's bad for their business. So they made the Googlewall pretty effective. But, like everything in this world, it's not 100% infallible, so the occasional flyer gets through. Some are amusing ("Buy Pills to give you a ten-foot rod!" Um. And a place at the circus, perhaps?), others not so. And some, like the one yesterday, are just asking for ridicule. So here it is.

to:     [redacted]
date:     27 February 2012 05:23
subject:     Webmail Account Owner

Dear  Webmail Account Owner,

We are currently carrying out a Maintenance/Upgrade Process on  Webmail accounts, to complete this process you must respond to this email immediately, ( and send the below details:

GENDER...........................................                 USER NAME............................................        PASSWORD............................................  we are very sorry for the inconvenience we are making you pass through this period. please fordward this information back to us so that we can carryout the upgrading/maintenance.

This process we help us to fight against Spam Emails. Failure to summit your password, will render your email address in-active from our  Webmail system.

NOTE: Your email will not be tampered with or changed, without this you wont be able to recieve email & send mail, the upgrading/maintenance need to be carry out within one week.

Thank you for using   Webmail Service

 Webmail Technical Support
Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved!

Strictly speaking, it's not exactly spam; spam is trying to sell you stuff (unsolicited commercial email). This one is, while being unsolicited, not trying to sell me something. It's trying to steal something instead.

This was, instead, a phishing scam attempt. You can tell that right from the start, where they call you "Dear Webmail Account Owner" and then ask for your password. A legitimate company with whom you do business will always use your actual name in their mailings to you (for example, PayPal always uses your actual name in their comms); further, no legitimate biz asks for passwords in an email. Ever.

Second, and this is so silly it's pitiful, I don't know who "" are, but I have not done business with them, ever; my email comes through Google, and has done for some time.

Third, the patter (the wording they use). They're trying to coerce you into giving away personal details, by using an old "we're here to help" playbook entry.

So, they imply that it's a personal and confidential matter that should stay personal and confidential. Since it's neither of these things, being an attempt to commit identity theft, it's only fair to show their sad, lazy, criminal attempt to the world. And this is precisely what I'm doing.

As to the last line "Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved!" Really? Prove it in court then, you sad sack of [bleep!]. I'll have a charge to stick to them, if they have the balls to do it: Breathing In A Public Place.

Can't say fairer than that, can I?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Wasteful, harmful to the environment, and it just lost them a customer.

I've been using a Braun PocketGo P-60 for a couple of years now; it's been an excellent razor for fast shaves when I oversleep (do NOT try to wet shave with a safety razor when in a hurry - it gets messy!), or when I run out of razor blades (not unknown!).

However, like most electric razors, the foils, the bit between your skin and the cutting heads, tend to wear out, and require replacing.

Imagine my absolute disgust when I found out today that, not only do they not supply replacement foils, that they apparently suggest that such a replacement, if available to the public, would cost £25?! Given that the original razor cost the princely sum of less than £20, this is a rip-off of the highest order; further, while I acknowledge that they have a two year warranty, it requires you to post the complete razor back for a warranty foil replacement - and the postage alone for a parcel is restrictive, and this not cost-effective for most of us. It also deprives those of us who use one razor, from having said razor, for however long it might take Braun to get around to replacing the foil and posting the damn thing back to us.

The end result is that most of us will bin a perfectly good razor for the want of what is most likely in reality an item that probably costs Braun less than a quid (at unit volume costs) to create (a strip of coated tin foil with holes in it).

I find their attitude wasteful, environmentally-irresponsible, high-handed, and totally contrary to how I expect responsible businesses to behave.

I also was under the impression that companies were required to keep spares (consumables, even), on hand for customer repairs, but apparently this is not the case - they only have to repair or replace within six months, according to the Sale of Goods Act information that I've looked at today. So, even our laws are not working for us. That's something of a longer-term fix to be looked at.

I the mean time, you want it from the horses' mouth? Fine. here's their OFFICIAL response to one of their (probably former) customers (I've corrected her spelling mistake in this quote, by the way):

Susie (Official Rep) July 06, 2011 07:49
Hi Barry and thanks for getting in touch.

Unfortunately I don’t have good news for you... Since the replacement foils normally cost around £25, it is not cost effective for the stockists to sell a foil for our Pocket & Go / Mobile Shavers which cost around £18, and regrettably foils are not available to buy anywhere. I am sorry to have to disappoint you, but at least you can stop looking!
This reply, and others, can be found in context here:

The attitude of Braun, a Procter & Gamble company, beggars belief. The end result for me, is that while it may be inconvenient to me in the short term, Braun just lost another customer, and I'll be making hard choices on whether to purchase any other P&G products and brands in the future, until such time as they mend their irresponsible ways.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Pet peeves # 284638101735 (etc.)

One of my pet peeves is when people park something that's obviously not a bus, on a bus stop. People park their cars, vans, and often bloody great trucks on bus stops. Especially after 6pm, as if bus stops magically stop working after that time.

The fact is, at no time should you park anything other than a bus on a bus stop. They're not time-limited, day limited, or in any other form of part time operation;they're "24/7", to coin a phrase.

The clues to it being a bus stop are first, the flag. It's obvoius, so as to allow members of the public to know where a bus is likely to stop to allow passengers on and off the bus.

Second, the road markings. There is, in the vast majority of cases, a big yellow-painted dash-marked 'cage' or 'box' that marks out where buses are intended to stop, and on many routes in London, there are often red lines to show that no-one else should be stopping there.

Finally, there are two words painted there as well, these being "BUS STOP".

Why is it, then, that so many of you act like damned ignorant amateurs, and park on bus stops? It surely can't be financial gain, as you can be fined for parking there, and TfL's rather good at chucking around those fixed penalty notices; it can't be lack of training, as it's a component in the Highway Code, and you're required to learn that as part of your driver training and testing (it's part of the current theory test, in fact).

So what the hell is it with you amateurs who park on bus stops? Can't you think, for one moment, that you may be preventing a disabled person from boarding a bus? Or making it more difficult for an elderly person? Surely you lot can't be that far up yourselves to even consider the problems your parking is causing to the flow of traffic?


Then I sincerly hope that those of you who are so self-centred and selfish that you park on bus stops get a fine, four flat tyres, and a rear-end shunt, all at the same time, for your sheer absolutely arrogant attitude to the bus travelling public.

Have a nice bleeping day.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Welcome to Snofu'12...!

Well, it's finally arrived here in the south London area, and while it does indeed look picture-postcard nice, it's cold, slippery, and a nightmare to drive in.

Yep, welcome, therefore, to Snofu'12!

This is the hard stand outside my flats, about an hour after it started to snow.

At the time, it was blowing west to east, and not really that much of a big deal; the flakes were small, seemed fairly dry, and weren't sticking to my clothes. at this time, I reckoned that the warnings were over-hyped, given what happened last time.

 This is the main road around the corner from my flats. As you can see, the road was well gritted. again, thoughts of another over-hype were in my head.

This is three hours later, around midnight or so. Hmm. Time to re-evaluate the warnings. Look at the main road. the gritting hasn't happened for a while, and there are two sets of tracks where tyres are cutting a path in the snow in both directions.

 A little better at the traffic lights, but not by much. This is when I hit the sack.

This morning. The main road looks a lot better, so it seems like the gritters got out again, thankfully.

But look at the hard stand!

Remember last year? Not quite as bad, but close!

Looking to the junction again; yeah, miles better than this time last year. It appears the local council got it right this time.

Mind you, it's only taken them close to fifty years to get it right first time, this time, and with government prodding and poking along the way. Shouldn't have to be that way, but at least it worked this time!

And now a picture postcard scene, from out of my bedroom window - enjoy!