Friday 28 October 2011

Solution for the Global Tech scam?

Getting really fed up with the interruptions to my working day caused by calls from the Microsoft Windows Global Tech scammers. They phone up and try to convince you that your computer is infected (by getting you to look at the Event Log, which they reckon will scare you).

They ignore Telephone Preference Service registrations.  They claim to be operating from Baker Street in London but the phone calls sound as though they're coming from a very long way away.  A legitimate company working in the UK would not be making unsolicited sales calls to a TPS registered line.  The scammers don't take any notice of polite requests to desist from making these nuisance calls.

They offer to help by taking control of your computer, in return for a credit card charge.

Since we can't send a jolt of current back up the line to them, another solution is needed. It seems to me that the credit card companies are the critical link and by accepting payments for the scammers, they are facilitating the scam.  If people who've been caught out then report the scam to their credit card company, we may see some progress (and fewer annoying calls).

There's more useful information about other peoples' experiences on the Conflict International site (the blog is closed for comments).

You can register your phones with the Telephone Preference Service free of charge at - don't be misled by others who offer you a paid service that purports to do the same thing.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Deranged phishing spam

Just received this piece of garbage from someone ostensibly in Iran - why do they even bother?

From:* Rt Hon David Cameron MP <>
*To:* undisclosed-recipients:;
*Date:* Tue, 27 Sep 2011 15:27:05 +0330 (IRST)


Our ref: MasterCard/5404/FCO
Your ref:...Date: 27/09/2011


I am The Rt Hon David Cameron MP,Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service British Government. This letter is to officially inform you that (MasterCard Number 5404 xxxx xxxx xxxx) has been accredited with your favor. Your Personal Identification Number is 7121.The MasterCard Value is £2,000,000.00 GBP (Two Million, Great British Pounds Sterling).

This office will send to you an MasterCard that you will use to withdraw your funds in any ATM MACHINE CENTER or MasterCard outlet in the world with a maximum of £5000 GBP daily.Further more,You will be required to re-confirm the following information to enable;The Rt Hon William Hague MP First Secretary of State for British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). begin in processing of your MasterCard.

(1)Full names: (2)Address: (3)Country: (4)Nationality: (5)Phone #: (6)Age:(7)Occupation: (8) Post Codes

Rt Hon William Hague MP.Secretary of British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
Tel: Tel: +(obscured to prevent anyone calling it)

TAKE NOTICE: That you are warned to stop further communications with any other person(s) or office(s) different from the staff of the State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to avoid hitches in receiving your payment.


Rt Hon David Cameron MP
British Prime Minister

Thursday 15 September 2011

Blogger on iOS

Well done to Google for releasing a Blogger app for the iOS platform. It promises to synch between devices, which will allow users to create and edit blogs on the go as well as when sitting at a desk.

Only two cheers out of three, because at the moment it's only designed for the iPhone (and presumably iPod touch) screen factors, and not the more user-friendly appearance given by the iPad. But it's still very welcome, and has just been used (on the iPad) to make this posting. :-)

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Goodbye, PO Box 37

For the last many years, my company's had a PO Box number and dedicated postcode to separate personal from business mail, and avoid the need for customers or correspondents to write out a 56 character address. The basic service, including delivery to a street address, originally cost £100 for 12 months, but this has been creeping up - £104, £106, £108, £112.30, £115.70, £120.30, £125.70, £125.75. The odd amounts indicate that there must have been some science applied to the increases.

However, the latest billet doux from Royal Mail increases the charge for the next 12 months to a nice round £200. At that rate I can afford to discontinue the service, reprint business cards, notify the few correspondents that used the PO Box, and still be £150 per year better off. And that's probably what Royal Mail wanted me to do. Goodbye, PO Box 37.

Friday 22 July 2011

More platforms than Clapham junction

It used to be professional IT that had to cope with a large variety of platforms and operating systems, but innovation in recent years, particularly the development of web services, means that individual users are likely to meet an increasing number of very different environments, even for fairly simple requirements. For every one of these, there are issues of familiarisation, protection and authentication that need to be addressed.

At the start of the home computing story, we could store data locally and back up our key files to a floppy disk, or later something like an Iomega drive. Now we have a bewildering array of possibilities including very large capacity home network attached storage. I'm just getting to grips with the WD My Book Live which has 2 Tb capacity and a price less than £100 before you add VAT and delivery. That's less than £50 per Terabyte! If you prefer online storage and don't have a capped broadband deal, the likes of Microsoft's Skydrive, or the Apple iDisk (part of the current offering) or the forthcoming iCloud, may be even more attractive.

Skydrive is well worth getting to know because it supplies free storage and Office applications - all of a sudden we have a real document sharing and update environment for private users, something that in the past was the province of the better-organised professional IT shop. I suspect that things that I've been able to introduce to corporate projects through the innovative use of Sharepoint will rapidly become commonplace for groups, clubs, societies- anyone with a common purpose and the need to maintain documents together.

But just think what this means in terms of the number of platforms for home computing - you don't have to be an extreme case to use Windows and/or Mac systems, iOS or Android or Nokia smartphone, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Picasa, MS Office or Open Office, and maybe a Kindle reader. That's before we've thought about your e-mail system, your choice of browser or browsers, various plug-ins such as Adobe Flash and Adobe Air, Twitter, Windows (MSN/Live) Messenger, Facetime (on Apple products), online banking (card reader to give additional authentication), a multiplicity of online shopping platforms, Skype, Wordpress or Blogger. And you'd be mad to venture out on the Internet (particularly using a PC platform) without virus protection. Your data is important, and you should have a strategy and the facilities to back it up (see above). Every one of these does useful work, but every one of them also needs to be maintained and can carry a burden in terms of time if not of expense. Why does Adobe have to pester me to agree with its terms every time it updates one of its plug-ins?

I don't think there's any good and easy answer to this one. The big suppliers would like to make us dependent on, loyal to, and advocates of their offerings, but no one offering is ideal for all purposes. I use Microsoft Office on PCs (2003), Mac (2011), and now Skydrive (360). Each has its differences or subtleties. We're just going to have to learn to understand the quirks of the different platforms and to discourage (by voting with our feet) the ones that are least easy to use and maintain.

Wednesday 30 March 2011

No to 'Outbound telesales'

At home, we seem to suffering a new spate of unsolicited sales calls - spam telephony, if you like (or don't). Even though both of the numbers are registered with the Telephone Preference Service (, the companies that are doing this just don't care. They're calling on what are clearly long distance circuits, with pre-dialling (sometimes several seconds delay after you answer before a human voice comes on the phone), and connect you to someone with a distinctly non-British accent, who doesn't know who they're really trying to contact.

This can be dangerous. Even when the caller identifies the name of the company she or he represents, there's no way to know whether or not this is for real. Someone called me today, she said, on behalf of a company whose services I've used for years. But she got the number of years wrong, and that says to me that she was doing the telephone equivalent of phishing.

I don't want to give any details to an unknown caller to enable them to offer me 'advice'. Nor do I do want to invite a high-pressure salesman into my home just because they happen to have 'someone in the area' next week; what area, planet Earth?

Telephone companies are bothersome at best when they phone to try and sell something. When they ask you at the end of a 20 minute call, "by the way, the contract is for 18 months, is that all right?", that doesn't feel like trustworthy practice. When you say, "I'd like to see the offer in writing", and they say it's only available today over the phone, is that a strong reason buy anyway? And if they send the key details, and they're in grey 4-point on the back of the brochure, is someone trying to hide something?

Frankly, I can find the products I want using Google, a newspaper, or even a flyer through the post. And then visit the website or make the call to Inbound Telesales, knowing who I'm calling, to do the deal. That's exactly what I did regarding buildings and contents insurance recently. Outbound Telesales is only for things you don't really want. Be brave - don't tick the box allowing them to contact you.