The Anonymous Widower

Why Did You Cancel Your BT Direct Debit?

I picked up the phone and a believable voice asked the title of this post.

As there was no number visible on the phone display, I said that I hadn’t cancelled it and said, that I’ll check with my bank, before I put the phone back in its cradle.

It rang immediately, so I picked it up and told the caller to Fuck Off, as no company like BT would react like that, after I’d told them, I would check with my bank.

The phone rang about four more times and I suspect they had control of it, so I didn’t use it, but conteacted my bank on my mobile. The BT Direct Debit was still there.

An hour or so later, I rang a couple of friends to check my phone and the phone appeared to be working fine.

On checking with BT, they told me it was a well known scam.

The strange thing was that the call came on the day before my BT bill was due to be paid.

So as the scammer, had my phone number, name and billing date, it sounds like someone had read my details in a BT database.

One thing though the helpful girl from BT told me, was that if you cancel your Direct Debit to BT for any reason, you’ll get an e-mail.

So if you haven’t received an e-mail saying you’ve cancelled, it would appear that you haven’t cancelled.

Bloodly scammers!

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 1 Comment

Is Wi-Fi Becoming A Curse?

I usually only switch wi-fi on when I need it, on my Samsung phone. And when I don’t, I switch it off immediately.

Yesterday, I forgot to switch it off and this morning as the bus went through the Angel, the phone had switched itself to an O2 advert and it was trying to get me to install fourteen copies of updated apps.

I immediately, switched wi-fi off and didn’t install any updated apps, as in fact, I only use one app and that never seems to update itself.

How many people just update all the apps, they’re asked to do and inadvertently load a piece of malware, that empties their bank account?

Remember, it is in your phone service provider’s interest that you keep updating, as this generally increases your bill.

I also have no financial details on my mobile phone. Anybody who does, deserves to lose all their money!

 

 

 

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | 6 Comments

Mobile Signals

When I was on the excursion on Gran Canaria, that I wrote about in A Tour Of Gran Canaria, I was getting an excellent mobile signal all the way, despite at times being amongst mountains that were nearly two thousand metres high.

Yesterday, I was in Victoria station and I was trying to use the Internet to find out, where my train left. The Internet signal was like one of Donald Trump’s speeches – utter tripe!

I think for reasons of safety, that all train stations and bus stops, should have a top-rated mobile signal.

Some years ago, the office at my stud in Newmarket had a dreadful signal.  So I pointed a parabolic aerial at the nearest mast and rebroadcast it in the office.

Problem solved!

If I was an MP, who won the right to put a Private Members Bill through Parliament, I would make it the law, that all bus stops and train stations had a mobile signal, of the same quality, I was receiving high up in the mountains of Gran Canaria.

Or are the Elite waiting until a fourteen-year-old girl is raped and murdered because she couldn’t phone her parents for a lift, after getting lost on her bicycle?

 

November 15, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

The Evil Devices In Our Midst

I recommend that my readers, if there are any out there, read this article on the BBC, which is entitled ‘Smart’ home devices used as weapons in website attack.

It would appear that last Friday, that a company called Dyn suffered a denial of service attack. The attack and its effects is described in on Wikipedia.

The reasons behind the attack are still not clear and it could be in support for Wikileaks or in my mind just to prove it can be done.

But I doubt it will have any repercussions for the average John and Jenny, unless they want to buy something on eBay say!

To me, as someone who believes that in his day, he was a world-class programmer, I think that we haven’t seen anything like the end of evil minds working their wicked spells on the Internet.

Suppose you use an App to access your bank account or pay for your taxi on your phone.

How long before you’re sitting in a coffee shop, library or railway station, happily surfing the Internet and a message comes up on your phone, asking you to download the latest Taxi App say? Except that it won’t be!

You innocently download it and within minutes your bank account has been emptied or your credit card has been maxed out.

For that reason, I and other programmers I’ve spoken to, will never load an App that needs any financial information to my phone.

Any web site with your financial information, should only be accessed from a totally private connection.

We cannot be too careful.

When I started to use my American Express card for contactless payments, I noticed some strange payments without any recognisable name on my statement.

So I challenged them with Amex and they refunded them.

But they kept coming, until I realised that they were for a branch of a well-known store that had setup its tills wrongly.

In all this, Amex had been puzzled too and one of their security experts had talked to me. He told me that the level of fraud on contactless cards was less than they had expected, something which seems to have been confirmed by the lack of hard stories of fraud on contactless cards.

A policeman told me, that the limit of thirty pounds is not enough for the average card criminal, who like to deal in thirty thousand pounds a hit.

He also felt that as many contactless transactions are on CCTV, that intelligent criminals think they could be a Get Into Jail Quickly card.

As other more reliable payment methods like face recognition become more common, I feel that in the future, there will be no need to store any financial details on your phone, that can be hacked.

But until that happens, there will be no obvious financial details on my phone.

Certain details like passport number are hidden in the phone, in case of loss abroard.

 

 

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , | 1 Comment

Will Crossrail And Its Class 345 Trains Set Mobile Connection Standards For The UK?

Search for “Class 345 trains 4G” or “Class 345 trains wi-fi” and you find reports like this on London Reconnections about the Class 345 train.

This or something like it, is said in several of these reports.

According to the accompanying press notes both free wifi and 4G services will be delivered on board, as will multiple wheelchair and luggage spaces.

It would be very embarrassing for London’s flagship multi-billion pound project, if it wasn’t correct.

So it would appear that I could board a Class 345 train at Shenfield and watch a video all the way to Heathrow or Reading.

But where does this leave Thameslink?

Their Class 700 trains have been designed without wi-fi, 4G and power-sockets as I said in By Class 700 Train To Brighton And Back.

But at least Siemens felt that the Department for Transport, who ordered the trains, were out of step with reality and  appear to have made provision to at least fit wi-fi.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Class 707 Breaks Cover and it describes the Class 707 train, which is a sister train to the Class 700. This is said about the two trains and wi-fi and toilets.

Thameslink (or the Department for Transport which ordered the trains) decided not to include Wi-Fi in the Class 700s, a questionable decision that has now apparently been reversed. Fortunately, Siemens had included the technology framework in the design so, hopefully, the upgrade will not require too much effort. Suffice it to say that South West Trains has included Wi-Fi in its specification for Class 707s.

Reversing the story, Thameslink Class 700s are all fitted with toilets. However, South West Trains has decided not to include toilets in its Class 707 specification given that the longest journey time is less than one hour and their inclusion would reduce the overall capacity of the trains.

So it appears that Siemens may have future-proofed the trains.

This article on the Railway Gazette describes the third fleet of the Siemens trains; the Class 717 trains for Moorgate services. This is said.

Plans for the installation of wi-fi are being discussed with the Department for Transport as part of a wider programme for the GTR fleet.

So at least something is happening.

But how close will mobile data services get to the ideal that customers want.

  • 4G everywhere from the moment you enter a station until you leave the railway at your destination station.
  • Seamless wi-fi, so you log in once and your login is valid until you leave the railway.

It will be tough ask to achieve, as it must be valid on the following services.

  • Crossrail
  • Thameslink
  • London Overground
  • London Underground
  • All train services terminating in London.

And why not all buses, trams and taxis?

On a related topic, I believe that for safety and information reasons, all bus and tram stops and railway stations must have a quality mobile signal and if it is possible wi-fi.

One life saved would make it all worthwhile.

 

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Starting To Program Again!

I have had, this idea for a mobile phone app and as before my stroke, I was a more than capable hack programmer, I think I might program it myself.

I notice there are systems that allow the creation of apps, that work on all platforms, so feel that this would be the way to go, as if it’s one thing I hate it’s having anything to do with Apples and their alien money-grabbing ideas.

I don’t even like the fruit!

Any help would be appreciated!

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Computing | , , | 4 Comments

Why I Won’t Use Uber

I don’t use taxis much at all.

I did in Blackburn on Saturday, as one was there, when I came out of Ewood Park and as trains to Preston, are fairly infrequent, I felt it might be quicker than finding a bus and I might catch an earlier train. I didn’t!

Other than that since the first of September, I’ve used taxis perhaps twice to come back home after arriving late at night in a rail station, just to save time. I usually get them off the rank at the station.

I use a mini-cab perhaps twice a year, to get to and from my son’s house on Christmas Day, which I book personally at the office around the corner from where I live.

The reason for this low usage is also because I have a dozen or so bus routes within two hundred metres and four of these are all night routes. And as London buses are ideal for parcels and shopping, when coming home with bags, I rarely need a taxi.

I would also put taxis in that category of wasted money, which is better spent on something more enjoyable like a proper lunch, rather than a drink and a banana.

But the main reason, I don’t use Uber is that it’s an app and I don’t want to put any apps on my smart phone, which I use exclusively for the web and to send and receive text messages.

I also don’t like giving my e-mail address and mobile phone number to companies or individuals willy-nilly, as so many companies like to send me unsolicited messages.

I’m certain, that apps will be the next security hole, that will be targeted by fraudsters.

As Uber has created lots of enemies for itself, I would put the Uber app at the top of the list of innocent trojans to get control of your phone, as fraudsters would like an app used by lots of users in insecure places.

People would also be much more careful with a financial app from their bank, financial advisor or credit card.

I think it is true to say, that in London, I am annoyed by traffic congestion which slows the buses and creates more air pollution.

Uber is helping to make this worse, as there are more and more mini-cabs in London.

Last week, I was on a bus that took an hour to get from Upper Street to Monument at ten in the morning, when the timetable says twenty-three minutes.

So I very much back Boris, who wants to limit the number of mini-cabs.

 

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

When No Doesn’t Mean No!

I hate spam e-mails, cold calls and text messages I don’t need.

I am very careful, to whom I give my communication details.

No-one gets my mobile phone number since I gave it to John Lewis, so they could deliver a parcel and an hour later I got a call on it trying to sell me a service to check my PPI status. I only had one issue on that and I sorted it myself.

Courier companies do get annoyed I won’t give them my mobile phone number, but as I’m generally in, what’s wrong with a landline?

What really annoy me are companies, where I’ve bought something on-line and despite saying I want no marketing calls or e-mails, the e-mails keep coming through in a flood.

One of the train companies is a bad serial offender and as I sometimes buy long-distance tickets with them, I have to give them my e-mail and other details. They recently sent me two e-mails; one of which said I might like to travel with my partner and the other that I might like to go and see my mother or other family. The first would have been offensive and truly hurtful to some and as my only family is in Walthamstow, which is Freedom Pass territory, the company did themselves more harm than good.

But increasingly, I’ve found a way to get good priced tickets for shorter journeys, both in and out of London and say between two stations anywhere in the UK.

And that is to buy the ticket after 16:00 on the previous day at the ticket machine at my local Overground station. At least Transport for London only send you targeted e-mails on subjects you have requested like weekend engineering works. And of course no-one has developed an automatic machine that senses your mobile number or e-mail address!

What is needed is a site like the Telephone Preference Service, where you can register your e-mail to stop marketing e-mails.

There is also a marketing opportunity for someone to see up a train ticketing site, for those who need to take trips out of London.

1. Such a site would generally sell out and return tickets from London.

2. It would also sell extension tickets from Zone 6 for Freedom Pass holders. At present you can only do this from a Ticket Office or one of London Overground’s excellent machines.

3. It could also find you a nice day out on say next Thursday, linking to the weather and the sort of place you’d like to visit.

4. It could be geared to Londoners and tourists alike!

In some ways the site would be a clone of the London Overground machines, which are Internet terminals anyway!

When will innovators realise that one person’s annoyance is another’s business opportunity?

March 23, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Get Rid Of The Dreaded O2More?

Every so often, I get a spam text message on my mobile phone from O2More.

I do what they say to stop them and send a text message saying STOP to 20502, but still they keep coming.

I’ve now decided the only way to stop them is to cancel my account with O2.

September 4, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

A Design Crime – How Not To Design A Connector

This is the connector to get power and my computer connected to my Samsung Galaxy S5.

How Not To Design A Connector

How Not To Design A Connector

Note the flimsy cover that clips over the orifice.

I doubt that it’ll last the life of the phone.

There is no excuse for crap design! Except perhaps in a piece of sit-upon sanitary ware!

Isn’t it about time, that all mobile devices had the same power connections?

August 7, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments