Hacked Off

So it has been an annoying period. About two months ago I received an email saying words to the effect of “We have your password, email ID etc. Send around a thousand dollars in Bitcoins or we will start releasing embarrassing pictures of you to all your email contacts, social networks and what have you”.

I did not worry about this of course, as I am quite capable of publishing embarrassing photos of myself myself! In any case, the password they quoted was one that I had not used on email or any of the social networks for many years so no problem.

Then this week. Firstly Airbnb sent me a note to say my email address had been changed and did I make the change. I followed the links provided to say that it was not me but then they asked my to login using the old email address and a password. The password had been changed so that did not work. I posted a message in Twitter to Airbnb and mentioned all this. I am waiting to hear back.

And then bookings.com sent me a note asking me to check my password change and confirmation of a hotel booking in London for GPB 350. This was followed by a cancellation charge of GBP 167. Interesting, me checking into a hotel in London when I am sitting in Singapore! Bookings.com had a very helpful operator who managed to sort a solution out. Kudos to them.

I then tried to access my hotels.com account and the password was marked as wrong and/or the email address. Clicking forgot password resulted in nothing so I contacted hotels.com and received the following note,  noting the same thing, that my email address had been changed. I am waiting for them to give me some customer service but the one thing I am missing to get them working is my Aussie mobile – the SIM Card is in Manila! They did send me a helpful email saying that

“This is to acknowledge your email. Please be advised, our policy is not to disclose any information once you failed on our security verification. For us to proceed with the investigation, we need you to provide the correct email address or phone number, or, you may call us and our colleagues will glad to assist you.”

Of course they do not give you a phone number to call.

So, the scores?

  • Airbnb @airbnb – they have almost helped me so 5/10
  • Booking.com @bookingcom – full marks, brilliant service 10/10
  • hotels.com @Hotels.comASIA – I have booked many rooms through them but posting messages has not helped. I have just had a chat sessions, still not sorted but a “Specialized Team” will contact me – 3/10 (at the moment as I have free nights I cannot access)

Well that has been a Saturday wasted chasing all this up!

Update – 8 March 2019 – hotels.com has been repaired finally. So far it looks like all dodgy attempts to screw something free out of me are from Jersey DS!

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Swine Flu vs Credit Crunch Recession

For the last night or two the markets were down. The ASX fell, the Nikkei shed value, the FTSE dropped and Wall Street was shaky. However, it was not the recession, the credit crunch or the recent usual suspects but rather Swine Flu that was causing the drop.

So all the stimulus packages and the spending of money to stimulate economies obviously is unnecessary. All we needed to overcome the global financial crisis was some Swine Flu – a couple of weeks of this and the fears of recession will be well forgotten as the recession becomes yesterday news.

Hmm, maybe Malthus was correct after all.

ANZAC Day – 2009

PICT7169 It’s ANZAC Day today. This day is Australia’s (and New Zealand’s) main day for remembering the sacrifice and contribution Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women in particular made to preserve and protect our way of life, our freedoms and our belief in the equality and mateship of us, one and all. Like my earlier post about Tom the Junior woodchopper at the Easter Show, today is a day that with very little effort you can hear and feel the Australian spirit.

We went into the ANZAC Day March in Sydney today. I was thinking of heading in to the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph as well but didn’t quite make it for that.

I defy anyone to stand at the March, watching the old Diggers, sailors and airmen marching past, and not have a lump in the throat, or at least moist eyes. Such pride still from these folks, and indeed, such kindness and gentleness together. One or two show a little of the larrikin still, in the way they walk or wave or some of the things they say. There were those who were recognised as brave, with Distinguished Service Medals and such, but most were just ordinary blokes who were asked to do extraordinary things and who just did them.

You can see the mateship still, you can feel the mateship, it is palpable. The sacrifice of these people, the loss of part of their life, their youth – in many cases, their life. Most of these folks lost the part of their life that I enjoyed, they lost the fun of being a young bloke. But also it is important to remember what they achieved. PICT7282

They gave us the feeling we have as a nation today – they gave us our “can-do” attitude. No matter how hard the task, no matter how tough the challenge, we can rise to meet it. They gave us our freedom, and stood tall and proud, drawing a line in the sand that said “this is who we are, this is what we believe, cross this line at your peril”. The diggers, the cavalry, the seamen and the airmen, the nurses and the supporting staff, they all contributed so much to what we are today.

It is impossible to hear a pipe band and not feel the goose-bumps, the shiver down the back. Hear the pipes and watch the chests of all around swell – such pride, such strength, such a debt owed.

Vale Pop.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

One-in-10 video gamers could be addicts – Technology – smh.com.au

In what I could best describe as a “well dur!” moment, apparently US research has discovered that One-in-10 video gamers could be addicts – Technology – smh.com.au. When I read this article I thought (well, apart from “well dur”), that the researchers had missed the obvious comparison – namely – how many kids “lie, borrow money from their friends or dodge work” to play or watch any other game as well.

I must admit, if I cast my mind back to my childhood, given the option of wiping up the dishes or dodging that to play football outside with my friends, well, it was a no brainer!

So, better perhaps than finding that “one in 10 video gamers could be addicts”, better to find that “one in 10 kids will find some way or other to avoid doing some work that they do not want to do!” Of course, the other 9 kids are just a little slower in thinking up the excuses.

Coffee

I’ve liked coffee since I was about 14. Being Australian and having grown up in Australia, coffee was introduced to us from Europe. As a result, I prefer the slightly bitter European style coffee to the rather dish-watery American style. Europeans seem to have had more patience and as a result, the ability to wait a little bit longer for that cup of coffee.

Sydney has changed a lot over the last few years in particular with Coffee Shops expanding their business into the lobbies of most tall buildings in the CBD. In this respect, Sydney is similar to much of Asia.

I remember Jeffro asking me at one stage if I wanted to go halves with him in the cost of a Cappuccino machine for home. I declined at the time, even though I had spent many years searching for the perfect Cappuccino ((currently that cup of Ambrosia is held by an Italian restaurant on the Akker Brygge in Oslo – close to the most perfect cappuccino I have had anywhere)) as to have a coffee machine at home would mean there was no reason to go out anymore.

My office here has a coffee machine. I don’t think it’ll be any threat to a good barista as you take a cup, press the button that says “cappuccino” and wait for the machine to grind and gurgle. The resulting brew tastes not quite like a cappuccino should.

What could be more pleasant than heading off to a coffee shop, sitting with pleasant company and sipping a wonderful brew that has recently been discovered to be healthy for us, packed as it is with anti-oxidants. Hmm, I sometimes wonder if I should eat more oxidants so that I don’t waste these anti-oxidants.

Fortunately, as the machine at the office produces coffee that the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would be proud of, then the coffee shop is not under threat nor is my desire to go out for a good coffee. As the service technician for the coffee machine here noted when he was called out for the third time in a month and someone noted that he needed a lot of tools to fix a coffee machine,

I don’t know why you all bother with these expensive machines. Give me a $10 kettle and 43 beans. When I want a really nice coffee, I go to the coffee shop.

Hmm, in the words of Niles of Frasier fame, “Double Cappuccino, half-caf, not-fat milk, with just enough foam to be aesthetically pleasing but not so much that it leaves a moustache” ((From the episode A Midwinter Night’s Dream)) .

Chicken Wars

“It’s the chickens Mulloes … they don’t like it up ’em” or similar words came from Jack Africa, one of Doug Mulray’s morning radio show character voices from many years ago. I saw Chicken Wars on Christmas Eve.

We’d been to Coffs Harbour with Mum to buy her the surprise Christmas present of Mamma Mia (and more of that later) and were currently on our way back to her place. We stopped at Woolworth’s at Nambucca Heads for the rest of the makings for Christmas lunch (Thomo was cooking and therefore looking for an easyoption or two). As we walked through theFruit and Vegetable section of the Supermarket we noticed that there were no barbecued chickens. None in the hot food keepers or the big display case. There were, however, many birds rotating in the big chicken cooker.

We shopped.

As we had everything Mum said she was going back to the chicken counter to see if the chickens were cooked as she wanted one for Toby. They were cooked and being unloaded to the display case. There was also a rugby scrum of about 20 people wanting chickens. Elbows and shoulders were being used to great effect and more than once was heard, loudly, the expression “I think I was next!”

The classic line came from one woman however who, after managing to shoulder herself to the front of the scrum, got her chicken fresh from the roaster and exclaimed “goodness – it’s so hot!”

Well hello – what do you expect – it was straight from the Roaster after all!

Seems the Co-op Supermarket in Macksville ran out of hams and had to phone around the region to see if they could beg, borrow or steal more. They had also ordered 300 chickens for Christmas Eve – not bad for a town of 7000 people.

Oh, and yes, we got Toby’s chicken as well – although no chicken wings as both Nambucca Heads and Macksville had sold out of them.

Settling Back In To Oz

So I have the new job and that is starting to move along nicely. I’ve started the Business Development side of things and the new office is terrific – it is quite nice being back in the city of Sydney. I’ve also been catching up on old mates as well.

Now we found somewhere to live – although a little more expensive than we really wanted to pay – still, I think that is partly the problem with the way the housing market works in Sydney at the moment, Seems that there is a supposed rental property shortage although I am not so sure. The agents are opening a rental property for "inspection" for 20 minutes and then taking multiple applications. This is maybe causing an artificial shortage where everyone is chasing the same properties and other properties are remaining vacant.

We used a small agency who did not do this 20 minute inspection malarkey and found a place – we move in on Friday (well, rather we leave some clothes there and go back to mum’s to collect the rest).

The location is Summer Hill which is nice and only 15 minutes by train to the city.

Life slowly returns to normal.

Walk Like An Egyptian … To The Buffet

I would not have believed it had I not seen it. Mind you, I spent time in Cairo and I can’t remember seeing it there. However, here in Saudi Arabia I can now tell the Egyptian guests at the hotel restaurant.

It is the buffet.

Spending a lot of time in the restaurant at the hotel (like almost every night) we get to see lots of different guests. The interesting ones were the Egyptians. They come to the restaurant to eat from the buffet (soup, salads, main courses and dessert). They are the only guests I have seen who walk straight in (not worrying about selecting a table), and fetch a bowl of soup. They then bring this back to a table, put it down and head back to the salad bar. They then load up a plate with salad and bring that back to the table. Then it is back to the hot foods and load another plate up and carry that back to the table. At this point there is a variation as some now will sit down and proceed to eat from all three plates whilst others will select some cakes from the dessert area before sitting down to eat.

Apparently, according to the locals, it is only Egyptian guests who are like this at a buffet. So, the walk is a constant traipsing between food and table.