More mail scam

Here is another classic of its genre. Note the very serious threat in the middle of the envelope. This is totally unnecessary,  it is there simply to intimidate and frighten the receiver.  It also demands on the front of the envelope “to be opened by addressee only.  PEASE RESPOND WITHIN FIVE DAYS” So what can be so important? It’s nothing more than a car warranty scam. Importantly,  I don’t even own the car anymore,  it was sold some 7-months ago.  Yet the letter warns me of all the dire consequences of breakdown and unexpected Expenses. Another clue it’s a scam,  … Continue reading More mail scam

Hate Mail

One thing I’ve grown to hate in my last 9-years in the USA, and increasingly in Austin as I’ve lived at the same address for 7-years, is the scam and fake mail that arrives at regular intervals. There are those “official” looking envelopes that include seals, official government like crests and demand attention and immediate opening and often a response. I got a letter today from the Worth Finance Corp. They apparently have offices all over central Texas. They at least got my information from Transunion Credit, who pre-screened me. Right at the top of the letter it says “It’s … Continue reading Hate Mail

Someone knocking at the door

We had a spirited discussion over coffee today about the whole NSA data collection fuss  and sparked by the continuing refusal of the UK Government to accept there is a case to be concerned,  even if you have “nothing to hide”. Think of it this way.  You are sat at home,  there is a knock at the door.  You answer  it’s that nice man from the NSA,  he says “excuse me,  we’d like a few minutes of your time,  can you just write down every phone call you’ve made in the last 3-months, what time of day you made the … Continue reading Someone knocking at the door

Facebook socialgraph

Yesterday the menu bar on my browser facebook page changed. I realized I’d been given access to their new SocialGraph feature but didn’t immediately realize the power of it. I tried it out a few times, did some obvious searches and went back to work. Then late yesterday evening I came back to it, tried a few more things out and then suddenly, it was 3:05 a.m. The power of this is truly awesome. With power comes responsibility, in this case the responsibility lies with facebook users. Remember, when you are not paying for something, YOU are the product. So, … Continue reading Facebook socialgraph

Can’t get enough Fiber

So, it’s formally announced, Google Fiber is coming to Austin in 2014. This is potentially a great announcement. The focus will be on the speed, which in my view is wrong. It should be on the affordability and open access. For the most part, as I’ve blogged numerous times, Time Warner Cable is more than fast enough for most homes, its just uncompetitively priced for most, and not affordable for many. I’ll be especially interested to see how they do this, right down to if they lay new cables underground, using existing or new carrier pipes; hopefully it wont just be more optical cable … Continue reading Can’t get enough Fiber

How Turbo tax is keeping taxes complicated

As we head towards US Tax season and the whole circus that surrounds it, I am as always bewildered how complex and how much effort has to go into filing your annual personal taxes, so much so, I’m behind and won’t be ready again. Worse still, for Tax Year 2012, I have my personal taxes and 2x businesses taxes to file. Like so many things, Americans make, and thus assume taxes have to be complex. Businesses make marketing campaigns out of tax refund checks, you can get everything from interest free payments “until you get your refund”, to payday loan … Continue reading How Turbo tax is keeping taxes complicated

Free and Freedoms aka the Instagram drift

Update 12/18 7:15pm: Instragram explains. I don’t think it will change my view, we’ll see. For context, from the late 1970’s until, well probably 2002 I spent a considerable time arguing for free software. Free as in rights, not as in beer, as early as 1985 I had a letter in Computer Weekly on the topic. Over the last few years, the explosion of free “as in beer” software has been staggering, everything from Facebook, and the google empire. Increasingly the amount of advertising is making the apps unusable, and their claims of ownership over your personal information, and the content that you create … Continue reading Free and Freedoms aka the Instagram drift

Apps, bad for your kids, worse for your privacy

I’ve argued this position from first hand experience for about 18-months. Apps in the stores both iTunes and Android have the ability to collect and direct information collected to unapproved websites. In a couple of instances, insisting on this has got me more trouble than I wanted. Now days it’s much more common for an app to ask for permission and for people to accept and install without reading the permissions requested and thinking through the consequences of that. So it was interesting to see this in relation to the way adults let kids use this technology. Just last night … Continue reading Apps, bad for your kids, worse for your privacy