On Tuesday night, I put my bike up for sale on bikesales.com.au. Within an hour of it going live, I get an email from email@example.com;
Sweet. I was happy to have an early enquiry, so I replied that it was available and advised that they make an offer. I soon received an email from 'Adams Dixon'... Adams? Yes Adams;
Due to the nature of my job and my location i will not be able to come
for inspection am a very busy type as i work long hours everyday,i
don't really think i need to come for a look, because i have gone
through your advertisement and i am satisfied with it so i will call
you when am chanced from work but as of now we can be chatting online
or sending emails.
And can you please confirm to me again that the item is very good
with no fault?
Was Adams trying to sell me a Paypal account? Immediately my ears pricked up and my spider sense started tingling. At this point I was unsure of what the scam was, so I held off passing over my Paypal address;
I do have a Paypal account, yes. I'm happy to accept Paypal.
The bike is in fantastic condition, seriously, like brand new.
If you'd like to call me, that'd be great - 0000 000 000.
In hindsight, giving him my mobile number was probably not the greatest thing to do. I soon received another response;
At this point, I had done a fair bit of research into Adams' potential scam and was well aware of his intentions. The idea is, that they 'pay' you an additional $1000 (advised only through an email) and you are required to forward on the extra $1000 to their 'shipping agent'. I emailed him my Paypal address.
A day went by and no Adams.
This morning, Thursday, I check my mail when I get in and notice a couple of emails from 'Paypal'. The first is hilarious. Subject is 'IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM PAYPAL' and the email is written in comic sans (maybe? my font-fu is not great,) the greatest part is that at the top of the email, Gmail has advised that 'Images are not displayed' and would I like to display images from 'firstname.lastname@example.org' - A security feature with several benefits. I have screen shot it to give you the full effect.
I had also received another email too, an 'Instant Payment Notification' from 'Paypal'. This email was interesting as it advised;
This is to inform you that you are required to send a sum of $900.00 AUD to the address below via and get back to us with the relevant information which you will be provided with after the money has been sent, you are requested to email us the Mtcn (Money Transfer Control Number) , sender's name and address used to make the transfer and the and answer.As soon as we have received these information from you, we will credit a sum of $10,500.00 AUD to your PayPalaccount.Below is the address where the money is to be sent to using western union money transfer.
Agent's Info: David Williams,
7 Iship Yard Building,
There's the money shot, right there. There was more about the requirements on me to make this payment to David Williams in the email, but that was the killer.
There was also a couple of emails from my mate Adams;
And this one;
7 Iship Yard Building,
Please kindly email the necessary details to paypal :the mtcn which
you will be given at the western union after the $900 has been sent as
well as the sender's name and address used to send the money through
western union,so i can forward it to paypal or better still you can
email it to paypal directly.
When doing a WHOIS on the IP address from which the 'PayPal' emails were sent, I found that Adams lives in Mauritius and was sending through Yahoo servers. I sent an email to Adams;
officeemail.net ? Surely you can do better than that.
Not to mention using Yahoo servers.... Terrible. I expected more.
I was hoping I could send him something, so I could attempt to get him as well as the dudes from SomethingAwful.com got their scammer; The Powerbook Prank
The thing that concerns me about this is how many innocent people do get taken by these people.
Lessons to be learned;
- Dont trust anybody. Ever.
- Contact Paypal if you are ever unsure. Their support are hard to get hold of but take security very seriously and will advise you of any issues they can see.
- Dont send money to people in another country unless you are buying something from them.
- Dont trust anybody.
I received an email from 'PayPal' yesterday...
One of the benefits of using PayPal is that we make every effort to alert you to potentially problematic transactions. Our goal is to help you make sound business decisions.
A review of recent transactions indicates that you entered into an agreement with Adams Dixon by requesting money through PayPal, which shows that the PayPal account holder have authorized the payment you received.
We would like you to learn more about this transaction. It is important we know the status of the item bought concerning the information we requested from you, otherwise LEGAL ACTION may be taken against you since you have not replied to the confirmation of payment made to your account by her over time.
However the buyer has already contacted us in other to make report about your non response. We are ensuring to make PayPal a safer place, therefore we need to set confidence on our users. We use proprietary technology - and constantly innovation - to help ensure every transactions are safe.
We strongly advice you to send the money through western union money transfer and send the proof from WESTERN UNION by sending us the MTCN number and also a scanned copy of the paper receipt given to you at the post office or online to prove that the money has been sent in less than 24hours so that we can credit your account by releasing the PENDING payment or you face the consequences of LEGAL ACTION.
We have placed a temporary hold on the funds until the verification is complete.
Case Number : PP-304-718-247
Transaction ID : 0TR19308DU070732T
Response deadline : 18/04/2010
PayPal Email ID PP943
Again, the email was sent from 'email@example.com'. Things to note;
- Why, oh why, would Paypal be forcing me to use Western Union?
- "We strongly advice you to send the money" - Surely Paypal have english staff who can construct sentences better than this... ?
- Why would the response deadline be the same day that the email came through? Ooooh, seems Paypal doesn't get the 'timezone' thing (Sydney is +10, so ahead of almost all other countries.)
- "We have placed a temporary hold on the funds until the verification is complete." - Hold away, I sold the bike to somebody else.
After a few weeks of riding in, I started noticing an old man with a cap and walking stick standing or sitting in a bus shelter in Mosman in the afternoons. He was there almost everyday and after a while he started watching me ride past. The thing was, he wasn't watching my bike, he was looking at me. Immediately I thought 'sour old bastard glaring at us young motorbike riders' and I started glaring back at him (almost impossible to see beneath my helmet and sunglasses.)
A few weeks more went past and one day in an uncharacteristically good mood (doesn't occur often when battling Sydney traffic), I nodded at him. He nodded back. Holy crap, he wasn't glaring at me, he was just watching me. The next day, I nodded. He nodded back.
So this went on quite regularly. One week he wasn't there and I remember saying to Bec "Oh man, I hope he's ok". But he returned after a few days and we continued where we'd left off.
Another few weeks went by like this until about 3 weeks ago when he would start taking his hand out of his pocket to wave at me. So, I have started waving at him now as I go past. I try to watch other riders who go past too to see if they too say 'gday' as they make their daily commute. None have.
So yesterday we progressed again. I stopped at traffic lights about 30 metres from where he was and he started hurrying towards me. I started freaking out! What does he want? He got pretty close before the lights went green.
So, on reflection last night, I started thinking .. What if I have offered this old man something that I can't deliver? What if he wants a relationship with me? What if he only goes to the bus stop to wait for me every day? This became a nice, friendly 'hello' but now I'm scared of what I may have done inadvertently.
Either way, why should I be scared? What is there to be scared of? This is how I want the world to be, more smiles and waves and less frowns and growls. But now I don't know how to handle it. I have thought before about stopping and taking him for a coffee, but now I don't know.
Ergh, what an odd thing to be concerned about.
For the non Aussie readers (heh, see how I used a plural?) our Government (namely Peter Garret) introduced a scheme last year to pay for people's houses to be insulated.
This had multiple benefits;
- People weren't cold... Or hot. So less Air Con and Heating used.
- Industry stimulus. More work
- Made the government look good
This also had a few drawbacks;
- Shonky traders
- Poorly trained workers
Now, one of the options for insulation is foil. Basically, this giant roll of foil sheeting gets rolled out over your ceiling in the roof cavity. Its the cheapest form of insulation and this worked well for the shonky traders as it meant they could install cheap crap and bill the government for whatever they wanted.
Now, my family got the insulation from the government. We opted for green insulation which is biodegradable and non flammable. We got this because we were asked what kind of insulation we wanted. We had a nice guy to deal with. Unfortunately the people who didn't care what insulation they got and had not-so-nice guys to deal with were given the foil insulation.
The government was advised this and they took actions towards training and education of the installers but apparently it was not enough. If you lay foil over a live electrical wire (supplying a light, for instance) and then staple through the live wire, the foil becomes a conductor and anything touching it (say, an untrained teenage installers arm) becomes live. Or, electrocuted.
4 people died, a few of them were teenagers within this insulation scheme's lifetime. A few houses have also since burned down.
Now, the opposition and the unions and multiple other people, associations and pets, have called for Peter Garrets resignation over the 'foiled' scheme as he knew about the risks and was advised against the scheme and several other reasons. Apparently its all his fault.
I want to know, given the inflated industry at the time, how many (trained or not) people have died as a result of foil insulation in the past, prior to the scheme? The media doesn't report on these figures. Also, I want to know, how many of these traders would opt to use the cheapest insulation when they were trying to sell their products? What tradie would say 'nah, don't use the expensive, heavily marked up product, go with the cheapie that I don't make as much money on' ? Yeah not many I reckon. So, likely, prior to the scheme, less foil was used and fewer untrained installers died installing the stuff.
With all this in mind, how can anybody with any brains conclude that the deaths are the sole responsibility of our Environment Minister, Peter Garret? I simple cannot comprehend why he needs to take the fall for greedy tradies in a bloated industry? These were kids that died, not union members or life long industry people, these were 15 - 22 year old kids. Kids preyed on by insulation folk to be paid a minimum wage to do a mediocre job so the boss can bill the government while drinking his VB (beer) beside his pool.
What a joke. What an absolute sham. As usual, I blame the media as much as anybody else. They created so much unnecessary hype from this bullshit.
Please also read John Watson's article 'Insulation fire risk was worse before rebate'.
Ok, I know I have been neglecting this blog for a long time. Thats because most of my technical rantings have moved to Fliquid Studios. But, I needed to share one of the most ridiculous usability failures I have ever experienced.
Well, today I found out that I am no longer required at REA Group (realestate.com.au). It doesn't come as a surprise but it is certainly not welcome.
I have a few things in the pipeline, but the most exciting is the partnership with Michael Little in Fliquid Studios which is a web application development company.
We have a lot of applications we are working on and will plan on launching shortly. I will keep everybody up to date with what is going on.
In the meantime, I plan on just relaxing a bit. Its been a busy few years and having a month off is very attractive right now.
Through my University, I was able to get a bunch of Microsoft development and design software for nothing. This is obviously a vain attempt by Microsoft to lure me to god-awful .Net development or something similar. But, at the end of the day, I am an open source developer and a big fan of the GPL and GNU etc, so I'll stick with my Java and PHP thanksverymuch.
But, while browsing dzone tonight, I happened to notice an interesting article titled "Expression Web 2 for PHP Developers-Simplifying Your PHP Applications".
Well, my first impressions were that it was like a lightweight Dreamweaver. ick. I am a text-editor user. I like IDE's, but when they are IDE's and not pretending-to-be-tech-savvy-drag-and-drop-designers-come-IDE's.
The fact that Web 2 has drag and drop html components. Ergh. Who in their right mind would choose to scroll down a list of available tags and click-and-drag one instead of simply typing '<p></p>'?
Anyway, for an HTML editor, it might be fine. But you dont need anything other than Notepad++ (for syntax highlighting) for coding HTML.
Anyway, I am looking for a new IDE, so I thought I'd give this Expression Web 2 a go (even though the thought of coding PHP in a Microsoft product made me feel a little queezy).
Well, I got as far as this;
And thats it. Wanna know why? Because it wouldnt let save it as a .lib while keeping it registered as a PHP app. Come on, you expect me to consider this a 'serious' development application when I can't register my own extensions? If I select 'php' in the 'save as type' when saving, it either removes the .lib extension and replaces it with .php or it adds .php to the end (ie form.lib.php). And, heres the best part, if I type the php opening and closing tags in and then try to save, it gives me an error saying that because I have php tags, I need to save it as a php file.. ARRRGH!!!!
Searching and viewing the help files gave me nothing. And I'm not going to start giving my libraries a .php extension, sorry Microsoft.
At least now I can try Netbeans 6.5 Beta with PHP support. I hope they dont still force every file you edit to have its own project. So painful. Maybe it's time I wrote my own IDE.