Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Spam Frighters

The phone rang the other day and I had the following worrying conversation with .... well perhaps I should disguise the identity of the person involved and just use coded initials. Let's call her "BN".

BN: "I've just had a nice lady from Microsoft on the phone helping me sort out the PC".

Me: "....er..."

BN: "Yes it has been a bit slow recently. She told me all the special codes to put in so she could take control of my PC and get all the problems sorted out".

Me: "...gulp..."

It wasn't long ago that we all laughed at the humorous attempts of spammers and scammers to let them have our passwords so they could help themselves to our banking or credit cards. How we guffawed when a Nigerian General emailed us to let us know about the 12 billion dollars he wanted our help to move into the UK. How we reached for the sewing basket to repair our sides when a Russian Oligarch requested our login credentials to help them move their Gasprom shares. These amusing foreigners were so obvious and crass we could treat them as a rib tickling diversion.

However, things have moved on. The "Microsoft Tech Support" scam is not new but is reaching new generations of PC users who have built up much more confidence with computers and it's just plausible enough to hook in all but the most savvy users. Similarly, the dodgy emails which entice you to click a link and thereby install a key logger or bot script are getting very sophisticated. I've had two in the last week that I *almost* fell for - one an eBay "customer" requesting a link to a finished item and one a UPS delivery exception report. And I'm one of the 12 most suspicious people in the Country!

There isn't an easy answer. All I can suggest is ensuring your virus detection is current and effective (I swear by the free Avast.com ) and keeping your guard up with every email. Let's be careful out there folks!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

New Direction

Well,  I'm astonished to note that this is my third blog post this year! Can I maintain this frenetic pace or will I succumb to Mighty Mo burnout? Will you, my last and most valued reader, now walk past as if I'm Ed Balls or a provincial branch of Woolworth's?

I suppose blogging has moved into a new phase, at least for me. When I was lashed to the wheel of wage slavery in a dysfunctional family business (where I wasn't in the family) my blog posts were a wonderful outlet for the boredom and frustration of it all. They were my Shawshank Redemption, my Messge in a Bottle to the World. My daily struggles with bureaucracy and idiocy were the grit stones in my oyster which fashioned the occasional pearl. My faithful Labrador Collie and Tibetan Terrier  (Messrs Murph & Oz) both thought along similar lines, although in that case I was the much derided authority figure.

Now that I'm joint CEO of a customer facing Upcycling nternet based jargon spouting business myself, the need for creative outlet has diminished. I suppose Lily and Holly have moved into that space and they may have to let off steam in a blog direction now - I will keep an eye open and let you know. 

The other matter which has diverted us over the last few months is moving house. We had scoured the length and breadth of Rightmoves for three years looking for the perfect house and finally found it - 5 miles away. It's in a far more "proper" village than our previous one (which was more "hamlet") and has two pubs, a shop and a windmill. Aside from the stress of doing a full channel 4 style Sarah Beeney makeover of our house to sell it we now have all the concerns of de-Beenying our new residence to drag it back down into the comfort zone. All very  diverting but probably too smug and "pleased with self" for entertaining blog posts.

However another potential for blog direction is the matter of the socialisation of two sociophobes into the fabric of Midsomer Norfolk. There could be sufficient jeapordy and edge to divert my dear reader. I'll keep you, er, posted.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Laugh a Minute

One of the things that's missing from our Television screens today is a good old fashioned situation comedy. Any glint of a funny series is missing amongst the sea of low budget formulaic reality, house, cooking, sewing and baking shows. What comedies there are tend to be crass and slapstick ("Mrs Brown's Boys") or re-commissioned well past their short sell-by date ("My Family").

Fortunately good old BBC4 is there to ride to our rescue with re-runs of classics from the Good Old Days. Having recently enjoyed the complete, sublime series of "Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads" they have followed through with the wonderful 1980's "Ever Decreasing Circles" which is just as funny and sharply observed as it ever was. Written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey ("Please Sir", "The Good Life", "Brush Strokes") it follows the adventures of tedious OCD control freak Martin (Richard Briers) and his long suffering wife Ann (Penelope Wilton ) who hankers after suave and laid back new neighbour Paul (Peter Egan). Martin is a genius invention of the writers and evokes just the right balance of dread and sympathy as he obsesses over trivia and twiddles the curly phone cord to straighten it (what's a curly phone cord, enquires my under 35 reader). It's a "Close Close" and neighbours Howard and Hilda Hughes add colour with their matching knitted sweaters.

But here's the thing. 

In the original showing, I closely identified with the Paul character and was once actually mistaken for him. Now with the lapse of 30 years, I relate much more closely to (and have been directly compared with by certain parties!) the Briers character Martin.

Now I'm dreading the next re-run of "One Foot in the Grave".

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Careful of what you wish for...

I'd love to work upon a farm
Sighed Hols and Lily too
Those farm dogs have such lovely times
Knee deep in cattle poo

They spend all day just roaming free
And sitting up on tractors
They bark and bark at 5 bark gates
Regardless of risk factors 

But wait a mo! What of the night?
They're chained up to a post
They don't have snuggles in the house
And don't get bits of toast

So don't aspire to be someone else
It's not really that clever
Just make the most of who you are
You won't be here forever. 

Friday, 20 December 2013

2013 -What a Cracker

Well what a year that has been! TWTYTW, as the late Robert Frost would have said. Here's a quick rundown of a dramatic year in the life of "us Ogdens" as Big Nana mysteriously refers to us.

The year gets off to a flying start with a new series of "The Voice" on BBC1. To add extra jeapordy Mrs Rine and myself watch this on rotating kitchen stools and spin round to add singers to Team Lil.I.Am and team Holl.I.Am. The long Winter nights just fly by.

This was the shortest month of the year. I must Google that rhyme so I can remember how many days are in each month, although I suppose my phone calendar would tell me.

Talk about rain! My weather app showed Amber warnings of "standing water issues" and on one fateful Tuesday a car drove past me and Lily and completely soaked us with standing water issues. Fortunately we all saw the funny side - well at least Mrs Rine did.

We watched Greg Wallace off of Masterchef present his new TV series on fruit and vegetables and I must say it was the TV highlight of the year. Mr Wallace is a towering presenter of enormous intellect and asks such beguilingly simple yet profound questions such as "What's this vegetable called then mate?". Not since Prof Jacob Bronowski presented his series on regional accents have we seen such quality.

Bit of a thin TV month but at least it let me get to grips with my sock drawer. 

They did several "specials" on Price-Drop TV and I was there with my remote and phone to take advantage. We buy mountains of stuff from shopping channels but as they do free returns we never keep any of it. We get the buzz of real shopping and the sellers dispose of our returns through outlet stores. It's no wonder the British economy is on the up again!

We took big nana on holiday to the seaside. She seemed happy enough when we turned up to collect her at the end of it.

Bit of a disappointment. We had sat down with box loads of Special Brew and £45 worth of Pringles to watch the 2013 Olympics. Who knew that it wasn't on every year?

it's the return of Strictly! Fabulous line-up with Vannessa Feltz and other older contestants who we quickly voted off. They shouldn't be canoodling on TV with impossibly beautiful Eastern European dancers like James Jordan.

The new series of Antiques Road Trip adds to the solid gold TV Autumn! We spend all day buying and selling old things so it is quite relaxing to settle down in the evenings and watch complete idiots doing the same.

Lily doesn't like fireworks so I'll draw a veil over this month.

The last month and my biggest highlight!!!! The Sports Personalty of the Year programme - and guess who was voted to have the biggest and best personality? Andy Murray!!!!

Fabulous year folks. Happy Christmas and may your 2014 bring you all you deserve.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Me No Leica

"Me no Leica" was the wonderful three word review that one critic brilliantly came up with for the rather pretentious film "I, A Camera".

Anyway, I would really Leica to alert you to this stunning piece of news that the BBC quietly smuggled out under the cover of wall-to-wall Mandela. Yes, I hope you're sitting down. Facebook has devised a "sympathise" button as an alternative to the "like" button for use in certain situations. Be still my beating heart. How far we have moved on from the days when people used to "poke" each other.

We've all done it, haven't we? Someone posts a picture of their dog and without reading the story about the poor pooch being run over by a bus we absent mindedly click "like" and look like a heartless unfeeling dickhead. A "sympathise" button would prevent this and let you become a caring, sharing person again.

Well it turns out that Dan Muriello, a Facebook Software Engineer from the "Hackathon", is being a bit of a tease when he says "A lot of people were very excited. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet," he said.

Now before I jump off at a tangent of ranting about programmers being described as "Engineers" and a jpeg being described as a "product" in a complete slap in the face to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, I'd just like to offer the teenage moguls at Facebook another suggestion alongside their "sympathise" button:

It's the "I'm THIS interested in your Selfie/tedious status update/gerbil pictures/re-post of pearls of philosophical nuggets/cry for attention".

No don't thank me.

Monday, 18 November 2013

News from the Stars

Scene: The Ice Palace on Planet Zerxon198 in the Galaxy of Cadberry where the Light-Cruiser Gallifrey has just returned from a 2000 year voyage of inter-Galaxial discovery. The Zerxon198 ruler, Gok1254, is receiving his firstborn son, Gok1256, who led the expedition in search of a new planet to colonise - their own planet was in the grip of terminal decline caused by the over-indulgence in Quantitive Easing.

Gok1254: Hailings, mon loin-fruit of adventuring! And pray let me aurally learn of the planetry summary thy doings hath done these past two millennia?

Son: Can't you just talk like the other Dads, Father? I have had a long and arduous journey and there was a time-drive replacement ship service on the Milky Way.

Gok1254: But sooth dear son-of-sons! What of the new planet you mentioned in despatches on the Unisphere? (nb like the Twittersphere but more intelligent). What of this Green-Blue Planet called - Erith?

Son: It's Earth, Dad. Erith is a hell-hole in the quantum Kentland marches. But the bad news is that Earth is
entirely unsuitable for colonisation. It is peopled by the strangest of creatures who are unintelligent, ungovernable and largely inedible.

Gok1254: But its prospectus in monitorisation looked so promising? What of your visit? It was assumed that the peoples of the Earth would be cloned from this Professor Briancox character of D-Ream? The one with the shiny face and teeth?

Son: No father. We visited on a diurnal inclusion they call the Day of Sat and the populace were mindlessly
worshipping a very unusual deity called Broo-C. It was part of a local ceremony called "Stictly Come Dancing" for reasons that nobody appears to know.

Gok1254: But what entaileth thus?

Son: Broo-C is actually the oldest individual on Earth and has the most distincive chin which has kept growing under a scheme known as "the Re-generation Game". He intones bland wordplay to a camera-device and the populace moans and groans in ecstasy. At that point, two much younger earthlings perform a ritual of ornate artistry around the floor whilst their life-partners look on in feined happiness - they do this to a cacophony of noise produced by the dreaded "Dave Arch and his Wonderful Orchestra" and an embarrassed individual in a pork pie hat.

After this ritual, four great Gods pass judgment from their pulpit.

The first of these, a monobrowed monopod called Horrid, intones a negative mantra concerning "heel turns" and evokes a general mumur of wrath.
The next God is actually a Goddess, the Princess of Darkly Bustling, who always speaks in a rising intonation and is always concerned about the "top line".
Thirdly, the God of Len appears to believe he is in charge because he looks like a cross between the elderly
Broo-C and one of the ritual cavorters, Anton Du-Sickbag. He intones about "illegal lifts" then flashes a "smile" which would kill at 25 metres.
Finally a small Gollum-Creature on the end of the pulpit stands on his chair and screams gibberish to the throng until he actually falls over.

I think you had to be there father.

Gok1254: No way, Hose. What was on X-Factor?