Wednesday, 25 February 2009

More Sun and Snow

Waking up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to fly off to the French Alps once again. More snow and more ski! Friends have been going and they all come back with the same report “this is the best I've ever seen it!”

Unlike any other time I've been the weather this season seems, for want of a better word, ideal. I wont bore you with tales of me trekking across glaciers, avoiding avalanches, instead, I'll tell you about a Sunday, out in London in what I can only describe as Arctic conditions.

It was freezing! We decided to head out and take a long walk, taking pictures along the way, we never expected such cold winds but by the time we realised what we were in for, it was too late. So on we went taking pictures and finding cafes along our path.

Unfortunatly, at the same time, my Macbook's hard drive died on me but thanks to backups, not a lot was lost. I've only just got a new drive in and the Canon software installed so I could download the pictures from that weekend, the results:

Slightly uninspired but here for your judgement.....

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Amazingly I get a lot of spam, yes I know that I'm in the minority here and spam is just not a problem for the vast majority of internet users. I feel sorry for the legitimate pharmacist or hand bag seller or former ousted minister who desperately needs help in getting access to his multi million dollar fortune. These people just can not get a break as their emails are often mistaken for spam and are ignored.

I would like to bring to your attention one such guy, he almost slipped through the net but as I was clearing out my spam folder, I thought I'd take the time to read what one Kevin Qu had to say.

From: "kevin Qu"
Subject: RE: JOB OFFER

Hello Sir/Madam,


My name is Mr.Kevin Qu and I am a manager of Beijing Richman
International Trade Co.,Ltd China, there is an opportunity of home
base business, and I am contacting you because we are now in need of a
Payment Representative in the United kingdom. So I would like to offer
you a part time job as our payment Representative and you can earn
between 1,000 - 3,000UK pounds in a month depending on your Speed,
Accuracy and Devotion to your work.

My Company needs a financial representative in the United
kingdom who will serve as our Agent in processing any of our funds
made out to us by our UK Customers and Clients this is because We make
lots of supplies to some of our clients in the United kingdom for
which I do come to the UK to receive payment & have it cashed after I
supply them raw materials.And that is why we seek your time and
assistance because Its always too expensive & stressful for me to come
to the UK to receive such payments twice in a month.

1. Receive payment from Clients
2. Deduct 10 percent which will be your percentage/pay on
Payment processed.
3. Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any
of the Offices you Will be contacted to send payment to (Payment is to
Forwarded either By Money Gram / Western Union Money Transfer).

10 percent from each operation! For instance: you receive
1000UK Pounds on our behalf. You will collect the money and
Keep 100UK pounds (10 percent from 1000UK pounds) for yourself!
At the beginning your commission will equal 10percent, though later it will
increase up to 12percent!

No you do not have to; all necessary transfer fees should be
deducted from the Balance after you must have cashed and
deduct your 10percent of total money Received While finish cashing.

You do not have to go out as you will work as an independent
contractor Right From your home / office. Your job is absolutely legal.
You can earn up To 3000-4000UK pounds monthly depending on time
you will spend for this job. You do not need any capital to start.
You can do the Work easily without leaving or affecting your present Job.
The employees who make efforts and work hard have A Strong Possibility to

become managers.
Anyway our employees never leave us.

18 years or older,
Legally capable,
Ready to work 3-4 hours per week. With PC knowledge
E-mail and internet experience (minimal)
If you are interested in our offer, and would like to work
for Beijing Richman International Trade Co.,Ltd

Kindly fill the application below.

First Name________________ Middle Name_______________ Last
City ____________________State ________ __________Zip
Telephone Number______________________Personal cell phone
Number______________________Gender ____________ Marital
____________________Age _____________ Nationality
you a U.K. citizen or otherwise authorized to work in the

Please note: only interested applicants should respond. And
check your email back for response within 24 hours...... and i will
like you to reply your EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION FORM to this email
address below


Mr.Kevin Qu

Beijing Richman International Trade Co.,Ltd
Registered Nos. 01424399 and 2355834

Now, at first glance I thought “I love my job, I'm not looking for another one” but then I realised that potentially I can make a lot of money with very little effort!

What sometimes happens is that a cheque is sent to you, you deposit it into your account and because of the way the banks work, it will show up in your account before the funds are actually cleared. Of course, you will get a bigger reward if you act quickly and transfer the funds via western union within a day or so. This is all well and good until you learn (in about 5 working days) that the cheque you deposited has bounced and you've just paid out from your own money.

The problem is that old scams like this make it incredibly difficult for people like the sender of this email to be taken seriously. Personally, I think the guy here put in a fair amount of effort. For example, the website is indeed for a textile company in Bejing, and is managed by Mr. Kevin Qu. The guy who sent me this email went to the trouble of creating a email address that looks like it could belong, alas it is different from the one on the website.

A few pointers to the guy who sent me this email:

  1. is the email the ligitamate company use for enquiries, why would they ask you to send applications to a email?

  2. Spelling and grammar, yes you are making this out to be a roughly translated email but even so, take a moment or two to scan though the email before you click 'send'.

  3. So, you would like me to make payments via western union, clearly you have the technology so why on earth are you making 2 trips to the UK a month? Get your clients to use western union, or better still, an international bank transfer! This is what I call a spam plot hole.

  4. Reading the headers of the email, I see you are using 3G broadband from the UK perhaps this is why your trips to the UK are so 'expensive' and 'stressful' perhaps wait until you are back in China before sending me a job offer, this way you won't have to use

Quality scams that require the scammer to put in an iota of effort, is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Sun, Snow and Santa

It's been a while since my last post and though I've been making an effort to read a number of blogs, even comment occasionally, I've really dropped the ball when it comes to updating my own. For this reason, I sit here in the back of a cab tapping away at a keyboard while zooming to the airport.

This time of year is traditionally a busy one for me mostly because of work (I manage a team of elves) but also because this is the time of year most people call me to catchup. We meet up for dinner and talk about the great advances we've made over the past 12 months.

This year has been a pretty static one, just like this time last year, I still live in the same place, have the same job and am still single. That's not to say it's been a boring one, I feel like a lot has been done, it's just that non of it has had a traditionally major impact in my life. Small things like cycling great distances or passing my driving test have marked this year as unique.

Also, a number of cousins, friends and my sister have given birth so this has also been a good year to be with family and lots of shopping at mothercare. All that being said, I'm about to jump on a plane to take me away from it all and into the French Alps.

This is a trip I've been looking forward to for a while, I want to ski! We have a great tradition this time of year, we all get away from family and the stresses of work to meet up in a small place out in the mountains, drink to absent friends, eat until bursting point and take in the dramatic mountain scenery.

After lighting some candles on a real Christmas tree, New Year's eve quickly rears it's head. A few fireworks, more food and more drink, we head our separate ways and back to what now passes as normal for my life.

I look forward to 2009, with luck I'll be kept busy. Rest assured, I'll make much more of an effort to update the blog more often, I just hope there are people out there who still check it when I do.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Touched By His Noodly Appendage

It's odd, people often talk about faith and the lack of evidence in god in a hand-wavy matter-of-fact way but it's quite difficult to fully grasp what this means. Most can be presented with facts and figures but all that doesn't really sink in as there are too many intelligent, respectable people telling you otherwise.

A few years ago I stumbled upon a site which blew that all away and showed (granted, in a fairly indirect way) the strength of the evidence by proposing another hypothesis that also fit the 'facts'. It all started in 2005 when the Kansas school board held a hearing to decide on whether or not intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution theory in the classroom.

The argument here was that there is as much evidence in intelligent design as there is in the theory of evolution. This is, of course, a complete fallacy! Sure, Darwin hasn't been proved entirely and the existence of god has not been disproved 100% (completely proving a negative is impossible as any experimental scientist will tell you); but the evidence for evolution and against intelligent design is overwhelming, to the point where it seems ridiculous to put the two on anything approaching an even keel.

Now part of the problem of putting intelligent design on the curriculum is that most religions have creation theories that have an equal weighting in evidence is the Christian one (as proposed by the Kansas school board). So which one to teach? At this point a completely new and unheard of theory came to light, with an open letter written to the Kansas school board, urging them to consider the flying spaghetti monster as a valid theory. As the letter shows, there is as much (factual) weight behind this as there is in a Christian god.

And thus, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was born. What's really worth mentioning is the correlation between pirates and the average global temperature, genius!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Fog Lights Off

It's rare but from time to time, I come across a great idea that's so great, so useful that I can't imagine how life was like before it. The other day, I saw just that. While waiting for a bus I noticed a police car pull up at the lights. They has a scrolling message board stuck on top by the flashing lights; as the car behind pulled up, they must have been slightly blinded by the fog lights as, on the board, they put up “fog lights off”.

The guy took notice, turned off his fog lights and they all went on their merry way. Imagine, if you will the unlimited crime fighting possibilities that this will bring up. As the car drives by they could put up the message “could you please stop mugging him” or “that knife looks a bit threatening”. Perhaps as they pull into a cafĂ©: “coffee, black, 3 sugars”.

They shouldn't stop there, this could have more social benefits when displaying sighs like “is that shell suite really necessary” or “your trousers really don't go with your jacket”..... It is great to see the Metropolitan police trying out new things to make this city a better place.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Eyes Down

I keep going back to a local restaurant because (and this is the main reason) the food is good. On top of that, a nice service is a good bonus. Now, I rarely send things back as I'm well aware that mistakes are made in the kitchen and I don't need things to be just so, in fact at times a mistake can improve a dish!

The other day, I was in said restaurant and while waiting over 30 minutes for our main course to be served (they were hosting a party and understaffed) I ordered a pineapple juice. It arrived warm, by this I don't mean room temperature, I mean warm! I managed to get the waiter's attention as he was standing by the bar, it was quite definitive; I waved my friends saw the wave, he saw the wave, even the barman saw the wave.

As the waiter makes his way over, I look forward to sipping on a cool glass of pineapple juice soon. A he approaches the table, he lowers his gaze, ignores us and walks on by. I was baffled as to what just transpired, much to the amusement of my friends, how rude.

Sure, we've all spotted someone in the street, someone you really don't want to speak to, so you avert your eyes and walk on by hoping the person hasn't seen you; but this is something else, I was left telling my disbelieving friends that I swore he saw me....

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Year of Creativity (So Far)

This is going to seem like I jumped on the band wagon after the fact but that's just not true! I was an avid follower of a blog titled hermitguide, it wasn't about anything in particular but was always an interesting read. The author (Graham Nunn, who has been seen on more than one occasion lingering about these pages) would muse about mugging old ladies (no not really, it was a joke, he did not actually go out and do this!) and gave the world the excel dance all this whilst he was writing a three-times-a-week web comic ('doormat picnic').

I think that this was too ridged and didn't really take advantage of what it is he can do with photoshop (it's like paper and an infinitely big set of crayons). So 43 days ago, he launched 'Once Around the Sun', with the massively ambitious plan of posting one creative 'thing' a day for an entire year!

His efforts range from the comic to the serious, he sometimes sticks to common themes, sometimes topical or sometimes utterly random. We have the photo-realistic, we have the artistic and we also have the outright surreal, and everything in between! It's a great blog, which I hope you take the time to check out, believe me, it'll be worth it.

Bookmark it, take some time to go through the previous entries and then perch your self on the edge of your seat as you see what happens next...