Category Archives: My soap box

Scary PayPal Scam

This screenshot is of an email I received today. As I have used Paypal in the past [some years ago] and as the so-called transaction info. is addressed to an ‘Andrea’, I did have a moment of total dislocation. Had the scammers hacked my financial information?

And then I thought to look at the sender:

edwards5078jcb@gmail.com

I’m pretty sure that Paypal, the real Paypal, doesn’t use gmail to communicate with customers! Nevertheless, I did get a fright so I thought I’d share this scam so no-one else gets a fright…or god forbid…clicks on one of those nice, official looking links.

Why not? Because those links will not lead to anywhere good. They could lead to a site that downloads a trojan to take over the computer, or they could lead to a bogus Paypal page where they’re asked to enter their ID and password. The ID and password will fail, of course, but the scammers will now know how to access that Paypal account. Lose-lose.

If you even suspect that an email might be a scam, don’t click on any of the links! Danger Will Robinson. Danger!

As to how the scammers found me, that I don’t know. Did they send out millions of emails all addressed to women of different names in the hope that a few would hit the jackpot?

Or is there a database out there that contains my email address and first name but not my last name? That sounds a bit far fetched. I mean if they knew my email address and my first name, why would they not know my last name?

Or…given how often we’re asked to provide our email address, did some algorithm go through the data here, on this blog and profile me?

A quick check revealed that I’ve written twelve posts [counting this one] that are either about Paypal, or mention Paypal. Another check showed that ‘Andrea’ has been mentioned in 16 posts counting this one. One of those posts is actually about the singer Andrea Bocelli, but that’s still a lot of identifiers. Curiously, the one thing you won’t find on my blog is my actual email address. So how did they find me?

I may never know how these scammers do what they do, but I know one thing for sure, the person who owns the email address used by the scammers has been hacked. After I publish this post I’m going to email him/her and show them the same screenshot that you have seen. After that it’s up to them to work out how the scammers managed to hack their gmail account and use it to farm out scams to other people. Sadly, this person really doesn’t have anything to hide, not any more.

cheers,
Meeks


Why I just told the PowerPal technician to go away

Trigger warning: rant ahead

PowerPal is a free service offered to Seniors to allow them to monitor their electricity usage. Given that we’re on fixed incomes while electricity [and gas] prices soar, being able to see how much electricity our appliances use is very helpful. Free is good too. But as they used to say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. 😦

What is the price you have to pay for this free service? Geo location, that’s what.

For anyone under…50? GPS and geo location are so ubiquitous that no one even thinks about the security/privacy aspects. The truth is though, that Google – via Android mobile phones – can learn all sorts of things about us simply from knowing where we live…and where we go. That information is then shared with shadowy companies that aggregate that data to provide profiling data to big advertisers. That’s why advertisers send you all those strangely precise ads.

Those ads rake in big money, and ALL of the tech companies get their snouts in the trough, but Google and Facebook are two of the worst offenders.

I cut Facebook out of my life completely, and I tried to do the same to Google, but it’s simply not possible, not unless I move to a desert island and communicate by carrier pigeon. So I have a Youtube channel [Youtube is now owned by Google], and I have an Android [also owned by Google] mobile phone, but geo location is NOT enabled on that phone.

Mobile phones are the new black…

I was really looking forward to controlling my electricity consumption a bit better, so when I read about PowerPal on the Seniors newsletter, I jumped at the chance. Today was the day the technician came to install the hardware. I watched [fully masked] while he attached the lead from the hardware to my electricity meter. Then he helped me install the software on my phone. And only then was I informed that the app would not work without geo location enabled.

I won’t lie. For one awful moment, I stood there, silently debating whether turning on geo location would really be that bad? After all, everything was set up ready to go. And the technician said that geo location only had to be on when I wanted to check my usage…

And then reality hit home. Was I really going to turn geo location on and off every time? Of course not. I’d probably do it for the first week or so, but after that I’d either forget to turn it off, cave to convenience and keep it on, or simply not use the bloody app because it was too much of a hassle. In the meantime, Google would be able to track every move I made. Nah ah. Not gonna happen.

I know what most of you will be thinking right now – ‘This is paranoia.’ ‘Why would Google care about you?’ etc etc etc. And you’d be right. Google has no reason to care about me. I’m totally unimportant, and my life is completely boring, but that’s not the point. The point is that geo location would be one more piece in the jigsaw puzzle needed by the algorithms used by the ad networks to profile me.

Now let’s take it one step further. I’m completely unimportant, but what about my contacts? Do I know someone hiding from an abusive partner? Could a small, digital connection to me bring that person into danger?

You laugh. Ho ho, fiction writer syndrome.

Don’t be naive. Nasty people are happy to pay for apps that allow them to track their victims. Maybe not in our comfortable, middle class world, but they are out there and so are the algorithms that vacuum up every scrap of personal data we give away because…we have nothing to hide.

I don’t have anything to hide either, but maybe someone I know does. Maybe that someone is only a friend of a friend of a friend, but where’s the guarantee that a bit of throw away information won’t do them harm? Or what of the kids we’re so proud of. Do you really think that only nice people look at the photos of our kids and grandkids?

Of all the bits of information we give away daily, geo location is one of the most critical because it provides our physical location in the real world. That may not worry you; it worries me. So I told the technician to uninstall the hardware and the app.

The poor guy left so fast he must have thought he was dealing with a crazy lady. Then again, he looked to be in his early twenties. A child of the information age. Immortal. Invincible. Totally unconcerned about his privacy or online security because…it can’t happen! Right?

Okay, that’s me done. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. If anyone knows of a way to monitor energy consumption without selling my soul to Google, or paying an arm and a leg, I’m all ears.

cheers,
Meeks


Australia – May 20, 2022…and beyond.

The Offspring tells me that hashtag #scomonomo is trending on Twitter. That gives me great joy.

For international visitors, or those who have never been on Twitter, ‘scomo’ refers to Scott Morrison, the man who went to Hawaii while Australia burned, the man who justified his absence by remarking that it wasn’t his job to ‘hold the hose’ – i.e. fight those fires like the mostly volunteer fire fighting crews across Australia.

‘no mo’ stands for ‘no more’. As of last night, Scott Morrison is no longer the Prime Minister of Australia. Voters rejected him, and his corrupt coalition government across the length and width of this wonderful country of ours.

The graphic below describes the election result in visual terms. The link below the graphic will take you to one of the simplest and best descriptions of our system that I’ve ever come across:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-22/election-how-labor-anthony-albanese-won/101087904

What makes me even happier than #scomonomo is the way it came about. Australians all over Australia voted for Independents rather than the two, major parties, and there’s a decent chance we’ll end up with 16 – SIXTEEN – independent representatives in the national House of Representatives. And a great majority of them are women.

Women who demand action on climate change.

Women who demand a national integrity commission.

Women who are an integral part of their communities and truly reflect the wants and needs of those communities.

Women who want a decent future for their children.

Woman who are standing up and telling those middle-aged, self-important, ego-driven, white, male, politicians in Canberra that we’re sick of the mess they’ve made of our country.

And one last thing. All these Independents are going to breathe new life back into our democracy because they are not beholden to a ‘party line’. They don’t owe party political faction leaders any allegiance. They are free to vote for or veto policies that do not reflect the people who elected them into office. That is huge.

Here in the West we seem to have forgotten what democracy actually means. It’s not about nationalism, and it’s not about elites. Democracy is about ordinary, every day people having a voice and being heard. it’s also about those people being served by the representatives they elect into office.

Service, a word that’s been forgotten along with ‘integrity’.

The representatives of the people are there to serve us. Not corporations or other vested interested or themselves. They are there to serve the people. Full stop. Period.

Will it actually happen, or do we face yet more broken promises and unfulfilled dreams?

The Australian Labor party will form the new national government of Australia, but they will likely have to consult, and co-operate with, the Independents we-the-people have chosen. If they don’t, they won’t get anything done.

I hope the start of Albo’s [Anthony Albanese, the new Prime Minister of Australia] victory speech is a sign that Labor has learned to serve:

‘…and on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in full.’

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a message from the Indigenous Peoples of Australia to all Australians. It is one of the most beautiful documents I’ve ever read:

‘We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. We call on all sides of politics to support a First Nations Voice to Parliament, so that we can finally have a say on policies and laws that affect us.’

https://ulurustatement.org/

I believe that all Australians need to commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart so that all of us can finally move forward, as a real nation.

I also believe that we, the white Settlers of Australia, need our First Peoples, desperately. They have been here for close to 60,000 years, and what they don’t know about this strange, harsh, beautiful land is not worth knowing. If we give them the respect they deserve, they may teach us how better to live in this land. How better to face the terrible changes yet to come, because make no mistake, even if the whole world were to stop greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, we will have to live with the damage already done for generations to come. We will need all the help we can get. From science and our First Peoples.

Finally, after years of inaction, there is hope.

All my love,
Meeks


So you think humans can’t destroy the world? Think again.

My thanks to Anonymole for bringing this video to my attention. Please watch it all the way through as it details how one man could, and did, knowingly destroy millions of lives, not to mention the atmosphere…for money.

I honestly thought I could no longer be shocked by human behaviour. I was wrong. Corporate psychopaths like Midgley abuse the whole, god damned world. When will they get the justice they deserve?

Meeks


A song for our times

While exploring songs by Amaranth – thanks Matthew! – I stumbled across this one on Youtube:

According to Wiki:

Within Temptation is a Dutch symphonic metal band founded in April 1996.’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Within_Temptation

I don’t know about you, but this is my kind of music…driving rhythm, powerful melody, glorious voices…and if you watch all the way to the end you’ll see what I mean about it being a song for our times.

Meeks


Thank you, Woolworths! Paper bags!

My shopping in the boot of my car

Right from the start of this pandemic, one of the two largest supermarket chains here in Australia has been leading the way when it comes to innovation.

  • First they got online shopping with a contactless home delivery service running smoothly.
  • Then they set up a ‘Direct to Boot’ service that allows me to order online and have someone bring the shopping out and deposit it straight into my boot. Quick, efficient, NO CONTACT! And free.
  • Today Woolworths gave me something I’ve wanted for years – paper carry bags.

We’d all just become used to taking our own bags with us [for shopping] when the pandemic hit. Since then, if you wanted contactless shopping you had to accept the old plastic shopping bags. I have about a million of them stashed away. Now, at last, I can have the convenience and peace of mind of contactless shopping without the guilt of all those damn plastic bags.

Seriously, I’m just about jumping for joy. I haven’t checked the composition of these paper carry bags yet, but I’m hoping they’re made from recycled paper. That would kill two very big birds with one stone.

And in case you’re wondering about the strength of these paper carry bags, have a closer look at what I bought:

What’s inside the bag?

This first bag contains butter, yoghurt, and…ta dah…chicken thigh cutlets in the big paper parcel. Yes, the chicken is inside a single use plastic bag inside the paper, but it’s still ‘leaky’ stuff, and quite heavy, but the bag held up without a single problem.

The second closeup shows fruit and veg – not in individual single use plastic. Brilliant. Again, not a problem at all:

Fruit and veg

The best part though, is what happens once those bags are emptied. I’m going to fold them up and put them straight into the recycling bin. Easey peasey. 😀

Seriously, Woolworths deserves to be congratulated on all the innovations it has implemented these last two years. I hope the other supermarket chains take notice and follow suit.

Well done Woolies!

Meeks


Music of Ukraine – Jinjer

Rather than posting the complete video of this song, I’m posting a vocal coach’s reaction to it.

Warning: Do NOT eat or drink while watching this video.

You like?

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..


The Music of Ukraine [2]

Another exceptional video from Khrystyna Soloviy :

It’s a great song but the visual are truly inspired.

cheers,
Meeks


Practical advice about how to survive a nuclear blast

I never, ever, thought I’d be writing a post like this, but the man in this video – Beau – makes sense. Forget the hat, the beard and the accent. He’s distilled real, practical information from a number of sources, and if you watch the video, you’ll realise how deceptive appearances can be:

Before deciding to share this video I scuttled around trying to find out who this Beau character is, and whether I should listen to him. Is he some mad survivalist who’s plucked a bunch of survival tips from thin air? Or is he someone who actually knows what he’s talking about?

For starters, Beau is a nickname and his real name is Justin King. So…is he putting it on?

”For the record, my accent is what you hear on most of the current videos. I do, at times, play it up still. Beau is a nickname, and the whole thing kind of started as a gag when other journalists found out I had an accent.”

https://www.reddit.com/r/BreadTube/comments/anlbgb/lets_talk_about_beau_aka_justin_king/

That sounds a bit like me and Meeka. I can live with that. But what is Beau, aka Justin King, about?

In his ‘About’ page he says ‘The discussions of a southern journalist who is tired of a lack of common sense’. Is he? A journalist?

According to the FCSR [Florida Citizens for Social Reform] ‘Justin currently serves as the Editor of The Fifth Column, The Pontiac Tribune, Sleeper Cells, and is an outside adviser to Greed Media.’ Okay, so he is a journalist, but what kind of news outlets does he work for?

According to the Media Bias/Fact Check website, The Fifth Column is ‘left biased’ and the reporting is factually ‘mixed’:

The Media Bias article goes on to say:

‘The Fifth Column is a news and opinion website that publishes from a mostly progressive perspective. According to their about page “The Fifth Column provides you with insights that aren’t available on other news outlets. With a focus on long-form journalism and exclusive reports, The Column strives for excellence in adversarial journalism. Our exclusive reports find their way into one of our unique sections.”

The website lacks transparency as they do not disclose ownership and article authors do not have detailed bios.’

So the Fifth Column and Justin King are Left Biased. Tick. Can definitely live with that, but the real question is still ‘how factual is the advice’?

I found the answer to that question on the www.ready.gov website. Almost every thing Beau/Justin King talked about in his video is in the official, US government info sheet on what to do in case of a nuclear attack. The only thing I didn’t see was the info. about conditioner. Everything else was there, but as a way to communicate vital information, Beau’s video does it better. Much better.

So…having done my due diligence, I feel justified in sharing Beau’s advice with you. Chances are none of us will ever need to put any of this advice into practice, but knowing the facts never hurt anyone. By contrast, ignorance kills.

hugs,
Meeks


Music from Ukraine – Khrystyna Soloviy

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that until 2014, I’d hardly heard of Ukraine at all. Even now, I know very little so I decided to learn. But where to begin?

Then today, I read a BBC article about young Ukrainian musicians becoming the voices of their country: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-60586817

Music has always been one of the things that make human beings worthwhile, so what better way to get to know Ukraine than through its music?

May I introduce, Khrystyna Soloviy.

If you liked this song, please go onto Youtube and share the song with those you love. And if you learn something wonderful about Ukraine, please, share it with us.

Meeks


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