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Timeline of a scam

I received this email about eight yesterday morning to my work account. It’s obviously a scam, but it is a legitimate email coming from PayPal. Correct name, all the links check out. Hm.

First thing I did was search that phone number – it’s obviously the heart of the scam. Sure enough, the first person ever to go looking for that number was two hours earlier. He got exactly the same message, but with a different senders’s name.

Here is the lookup page. I’m the seventh commenter down. At that time, the number had been searched around twenty times.

As of now, the number has been looked up 338 and 42 people made remarks. The messages are kind of interesting. A couple of people called the number and played along (dangerous – there are numbers that automatically charge you a bunch of money when you connect to them). Some people called PayPal.

Oh, yes – I checked the work PayPal account and this message was in it, verbatim, with the proposed transaction. I cancelled it, natch.

Here’s what happened. Let’s say I’m your gardener and I do 5 hours of shitty, lazy gardening for you at £10 an hour. If I know your account address, PayPal has a function where I can send you a message that says, “hello, Yourname. Please send me £50 for my crappy product. Love, Stoaty.” Which seems a reasonable sort of function to have.

Unfortunately, the message can also say, “FRAUDULENT TRANSACTION FOUND IN YOUR ACCOUNT OF 890. 00 GBP, TO STOP OR CANCEL THIS AMOUNT CALL US IMMEDIATELY @ +44-800-058-4853 OR THE AMOUNT WILL BE DEBITED WITHIN 12 HOURS’ and there really isn’t a way for PayPal to tell the difference. They’re well aware of it now (they got an earful yesterday) but I’m not sure what they can do but get rid of that feature.

Oh, look – I’ve just received a less interesting phishing email that *almost* passed the smell test, but the “refund here” button links to something called rebrand.ly and stoaty@sweasel.com doesn’t have a PayPal. Nice try, assholes!

BTW, the correct reporting address is phishing@paypal.com.

November 29, 2022 — 4:57 pm
Comments: 8

I don’t mean to brag…

…but I got a thousand followers on Twitter now. And it only took 14 years, a change in ownership and firing half the staff.

Twitter does seem a little different. The big accounts say their numbers are galloping. Mine are slinking, but seldom moved at all before. Definitely not seen an uptick in ‘hateful’ language. Not as much stuff seems deboosted (hidden under a “click for more” button). And he says he hasn’t actually changed anything yet.

He did urge everyone to vote Republican tomorrow – for the perfectly libertarian reason of a divided government – but you can imagine how the blue-checks have reacted.

So far, none of the people who’ve said they are leaving have, in fact, deleted their accounts. The ones I’ve checked, anyway.

November 7, 2022 — 6:36 pm
Comments: 7

Wait for it…

I’ve been F5’ing it every few minutes. It’s going to happen.

Mood on Twitter is jubilant. People are shouting “learn to code!” and “transwomen are men!” It’s like the fall of the Berlin wall, except pointless and stupid.

I just passed Katie Hopkins in my timeline. Elon Musk has replied directly to Catturd. Oh, it’s pandemonium!

Exit question: what in the heck is a Castro nudist protestor?

Have a good weekend!

October 28, 2022 — 7:35 pm
Comments: 17

Our new stamps

Before January, we have to turn in all our old stamps and trade them for these >>

Yes, that’s a QR code. Well, no – apparently “QR Code” is trademarked, but it’s the same idea. According to the Royal Mail, each stamp will be unique and the idea is you scan it with the Post Office app and you can connect your letter to an audio or video file online or what have you.

Naturally, it’s making everyone’s spidey sense tingle like mad. I can’t work out any way they can use it for nefarious purposes, though.

Well, not really. These are two stamps from a single book. I overlaid them and they are close but not exact. See here.

The green is one stamp, the purple is the other and the dark gray is where they both agree. Presumably a totally different book of stamps would have more differences.

So in theory, if you sent a poison pen letter and they raided your house and found a similar stamp…eh, it’s a reach.

Honestly, it’s probably just some boomer civil servant’s notion of STAMPS OF THE FU-TURE!

The QR reader in my phone tells me it’s a long string of numbers and letters, but I couldn’t find a way to copy and paste them into anything to compare. If I get curious enough, I might do proper scans of some books of stamps and overlay them to see if I can find a pattern.

Can anyone intuit the formula for how many unique combinations there are in a matrix of 16 x 48 binary dots?

October 24, 2022 — 5:08 pm
Comments: 15

I’m sure I missed a few

I don’t like suspense, so let me say up front: yes, I got the power supply installed without too much fuss and yes, it appears to have solved my USB problem completely. So far so good, anyway.

Those numbered things are zip ties, tightly holding the old cables to the frame. They each had to be cut, preferably without nicking the cables they were holding. Yeesh.

Things I know now:

Plug the cables into the power supply first, before you do anything else. The manual says to bolt it into the case first and then plug the cables into the motherboard and THEN plug them in the back of the power supply.

This means pointlessly sticking your fingers into many wkward tiny places to seat fiddly plugs you can’t see. I have circuit board rash on the backs of both hands.

I’m sure any way you do it is a doddle on an airy, well-lighted work bench. Sitting on the floor of a 16th Century farmhouse, not so much. Dark in here, fam.

Because the plugs are individually shaped, you can’t really go wrong. The worst mistake you can make is to leave something out so your rig is under-powered. And even that might not matter, depending on the component.

There is no over-powered splodey error.

The amount of juice coming out of each wire is the same. It’s not special sauce going to the motherboard or the graphics card. Plugs are shaped and numbered that way to idiot-proof the process.

One of these days, I’ll learn to watch a few YouTubes *before* I get stuck.

September 29, 2022 — 5:47 pm
Comments: 6

That was quick

My power supply arrived. Yeah, these people are good.

It’s a monster – hand for scale. It says it fits in an ATX case. Let us hope. But did I install it this evening? I did not.

I was busy chasing a little white rooster round and round my neighbor’s driveway. Damn, that little bastard is quick.

I chased him through blackberry brambles. I chased him through stinging nettles. I am alive with small ouchies.

I never caught him, but I did manage to chase him through a hole in the hedge so he could make his way back to the henhouse. It was well past chicken bedtime.

You know the previous post, when I said only one of those chooks in the picture is still alive? It was him – the little white bastard on the right. He was pushing his luck tonight.

September 28, 2022 — 7:18 pm
Comments: 7

Glut of tomatoes?

Homemade V8! Makes a kickass bloody mary.

Preboil celery and carrots in a little water until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook another 20 minutes with the lid off. Put in a blender or zizz with a mixer. You’re supposed to strain it through muslin then, but that makes it too thin for my taste. I just trawl trough it for chunks (celery is the usual culprit).

According to campbells.com, the proper article is tomato puree plus carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach. But the as long as you have tomatoes and Tabasco, you’re good.

Sorry about yesterday. It was the database on my server. I didn’t even bother to file a ticket. I knew they were working on it and I wasn’t too fussed. I had bloody marys!

Any hardline computer geeks online?

I’m having a mystery problem with my fancy computer. It’s three years old and it’s the absolute highest spec I could afford.

While it was still fairly new, I noticed the USB ports in the front were a little flaky – sometimes cutting out briefly. I assumed that bank of ports wasn’t fully plugged into the motherboard.

Then the ones in the back got a little flaky. Then all of them got pretty flaky. Then all of them got intolerably flaky, stuttering in and out constantly.

So I broke down and bought a PCI card with four USB ports. Which worked a treat. For about a week.

What could make all my USB ports unreliable, even freshly added ones. Would that be (please no) a motherboard issue? Could it be the power supply?

September 22, 2022 — 5:19 pm
Comments: 15

Public service announcement

I put together the newsletter for work. Like most, we use Mailchimp. Every time I access audience info, I wonder if people realize how much data we inadvertently get.

If I click your email address, I get your language, percentage of opens, the percentage of clicks, the location you accessed the email from, your favorite email client and operating system, which issues you opened (every one, back to the beginning) and whether you clicked any attachments or links.

But wait! There’s more!

That’s just the data I get on the Audience Dashboard. If I download signup data as a spreadsheet, I get member rating (I have no idea what this is based on), the time you signed up, your IP, you latitude and longitude(!) – I assume this is of your ISP – your timezone, its difference from GMT, your country, your region and the last time your record was changed.

If I had ever asked for it, I also would have your name, address, phone number and birthday.

Just be aware when you sign up to Disgusting Fetishist Monthly.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

April 8, 2022 — 6:13 pm
Comments: 21

Welp, it finally happened

Believe it or not, I’ve never copped a Twitter ban before. I’ve gotten into a few heated arguments, but I’m not a very aggressive Twitterer in general. In fact, my favorite tactic when the namecalling starts is to remain blandly polite. It drives ’em nuts.

What’s that? The tweet? It was in a thread about Lia Thompson. I don’t mind deleting it; it’s really badly worded. Shame on me.

As hate goes, it’s weak sauce.

So now, to get my account back, I have to give Twitter my cellphone number for a confirmation code. That is so not going to happen.

Comes the exploration of the free online sms services. They give you a fake cell number, you plug it in, you read the number that pops up. I’ve tried dozens of them. Either Twitter tells me the number has been used before, or I plug it in and the verification code never comes through.

I watch other people’s verification codes come through (it’s a shared number) for things like PayPal and DoorDash. I think it just doesn’t work for Twitter. But, strangely, Twitter lets you try about 20 fake phone numbers before telling you to come back tomorrow. I mean, surely the average punter doesn’t have access to 20 phones, so they must know what you’re doing.

Currently, I’m struggling with an app called Phoner that basically gives you a second phone number attached to your phone. It will forward calls and texts to your regular phone, if you like, but you don’t have to give out your real phone. And you can biff it and get a new one from time to time, if you so desire.

But I think I may have to feed it a few coins before it will let me play. I got it at the app store. It looks legit.

March 8, 2022 — 8:23 pm
Comments: 15

So…I bought thing

I’ve wanted a VR headset since VR headsets were invented. In fact, I had one to play with at work, way back when they were new and extra stupid. I loved it.

The Steam one, the one I want, is around £1,000. Not only that, I’d have to sink at least that much into my computer to make it capable of driving it.

Not. Happening.

But I got to talking – okay, Tweeting – with someone who has spent thousands on VR. She said the Oculus one was worth having. It wasn’t nearly as good as the really expensive ones, but it’s pretty darned good for the money.

The money being around £300. For a refurb, considerably less than that. So…I did it.

I’ve only been through the setup and introduction and browsed a few of the apps. The batteries last about two hours and it’s given me a headache (I think I need to upgrade the head strap), but it’s way cool.

Yes. Okay. FINE. This makes me officially part of Mark Zuckerberg’s lame-ass Metaverse. I even had to link it to my phone and my real name Facebook Account.

But. You know. SHINY.

Have a good weekend, all!

February 25, 2022 — 7:19 pm
Comments: 15