Uncle's Rant

Friday, July 14, 2006

Do you have a moment to complete this survey?

So tonight I'm at home in my front garden minding my own business and spraying some ants with ant powder when a girl comes running over. Now the road we live in is a little strange in that we've lived here 5 years and we only know a couple of neighbours, the rest would rather not even say hello. So this girl came over from a house just over the road and she approached me in such a manner that I thought she was going to tell me off for murdering the ants but this wasn't the case at all. She explained that some guy had just knocked on her door and had tried to enter her house, she'd pushed him back out but in the process had now locked herself out. Worse still the guy was still hanging around down the road and she was clearly upset by the whole thing. She pointed the guy out to me and I said I'd go and confront him.

Making my way down the street I noticed he was leaning rather forcibly against a car with a woman inside, as I approached he saw me coming and backed away at which point the lady got out of the car, locked it and walked away quickly.
He was a shady looking character with a clipboard, probably middle-aged and a little creepy looking.
I asked him what he was doing and he showed me his I.D. and explained he was doing a survey on transportation. Now as it turned out he seemed to check out ok and his problem was really in the manner with which he conducted himself. For example when I asked him what he was doing he immediately responded with "I'm looking for girls aged between 16 and 35", now what the hell kind of question is that to break the ice with.

Now pushing him to one side I'll get to the point of this rant. We're all told when we open the door to a stranger we must check their ID, right? Well how on earth are we supposed to know what a real ID is and what a fake one looks like? This guys ID stated he was working for Virgin Transportation, but like so many IDs it looked kind of like he'd just printed it out on hit state-of-the-art "dot matrix" printer circa 1989 and then got it laminated before finally sticking the cherry on top by ramming a safety pin through it.

With all this fraud and danger around the public need a new way of ID-ing strangers. With the wireless home just around the corner surely they could soon be given something we could scan to check with a central database.

Next time somebody comes knocking on my door I'm going to open it with a video camera rolling. If they don't mind me filming them, and signing a release form so I can show it the world over, heck I'll talk to them about anything!

Results here, if it ever happens.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Nigerian Scamalot

I've recently had terrible trouble selling a mobile phone on eBay, most of it stemming from a scammer.

Over the last few months I've noticed a real increase in the amount of eBay listings stating at the top in larger than life letters "No Nigerians", or "I will not ship to Nigeria", or "Nigerians are banned from bidding". Until my experience I thought this to be a bit of a racist thing to say. Why would you tar an entire country with the same brush?

On my auctions I rarely ship worldwide but with something like a mobile phone it really does increase your market potential. So in this instance I said I would ship to UK, America, Europe and Australia (notice there is no mention of Africa).

The auction went well and somebody in the USA won.

Shortly after the auction I got an email from the winning bidder which read...

"Hi Mate,
Am the greatfull woman that won your item and i will like to buy this item to my husband in west africa(Nigeria 234020) as a birthday gift,i will like the item to be ship via Royalmail 1st class and i will be paying you via paypal so kindly get back to me with your full name and paypal email address including the shipping cost to Nigeia so that the payment can be made.
Thanks for the business.
waiting for your reply.

Birthday present? Husband? Nigeria? OH NO!

I resonded by saying I would not ship to Nigeria and would only ship to her US address.

A day later another email came through from her/him saying they'd paid and her husband was looking forward to recieving the phone in Nigeria soon. Yeah, right. Then came the icing on the cake, a fake email from Paypal telling me what a wonderfully trustwothy person the winning bidder was.

Now I consider myself to be very careful and wary of such things but I just wonder just how many people they rip-off like this? For the uninitiated it would be very easy to look at that Paypal mail and think you'd been paid.

My point is are these Nigerians spoiling the reputation of every Nigerian on the planet or are they all really this corrupt?

I raise a challenge to any Nigerian to post a comment here and defend yourself and your country.

Go on I dare you!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pling off!

This is a pling. Most people would know it as an exclamation mark, in fact that's how I prefer to know it.

I've only ever heard one other person in the world call it a "pling" and for that I'll forever hold a grudge against him. His name was Norman Byers and he taught me graphical communication at A-level.

Everytime I see an exclamation mark my brain automatically sings "PLING!" at me, you know kind of like you'd expect an exclamation mark to sound if it made a noise.

I just thought Norman was mad but it turns out he wasn't. Driven to insanity by the constant "plinging" in my mind I decided today to actually check it out. Wikipedia has a definition here. It's not until you get to the bottom you'll actually discover the term "pling". According to Wiki a "pling" is the term used in BBC Basic programming. Yes folks "pling" is official.

This explains a lot as we used Acorns at college and it just so happens that "!" is an executable command for programs with RISC OS. Good old Norm always got his kicks by telling us how to load stuff on the Acorns, "Pling Boot" he'd tell us in his usual unexcitable style.

Norman you've "pling-ed" me enough and I'm sick of it.

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