Posting has been light as my attention has been held by a rebuild I’m doing of the whole site. It’s fairly near completion now, but I’m going to be testing a few things “live” (as it were) so please feel free to ignore any unusual or odd posts that materialise should things not work as intended 🙂

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PayPal scam warning:

Doc Searls posted this little tale:

I finally got eBay’s fax to take the latest round of documentation requests required by no other online ebusiness provider I know of. The result, apparently, was these two emails:

Your PayPal Account has been Restored

Your PayPal Account has been Limited

So I called eBay, found that my account was, indeed, finally okay. (Which is wonderful. I can finally buy that espresso machine.) And they had no record of having sent out another account limitation notification.

Then I noticed that the email wasn’t to me. It was to the address on the Cluetrain site, which gets forwarded to each of the four co-authors. Being a public address, it attracts a lot of spam.

I also noticed the email was in HTML. I have a no-HTML mail pref set at my eBay account.

The source of the email, I saw, was in Brazil.

The email instructs the user to confirm their email address, credit card, and account ATM PIN. Of course this isn’t quite possible on a PayPal account – at least not in the way the email instructs.

So I’m sure the spamscammers are expecting a few recipients to fail with eBay and to instead provide the requested information in an email reply.

I’m sure none of us are that dumb, but I’ve come close.

At eBay’s request, I forwared the mail to their fraud department.

Worth watching, any PayPal users out there.

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Respect 2003

The London Respect festivals have become an annual affair over the last few years, and they’re usually good for an afternoon’s entertainment. The main theme is anti-racism, a coming together of the diverse peoples that make up London, and as this year is the tenth anniversary of the murder of Steven Lawrence, the venue moved to the Millenium Dome in Greenwich rather than one of the North London parks as it has been in the past.

[View of Crowds at Respect 03]

What about the dome as a festival venue? (Briefly…) Pros: interesting structure, shelter from both rain and harsh sunlight. Cons: bad light, concrete floor. Overall: OK, although I’d personnally prefer a park.

As you might expect, such an event is generally seen as an opportunity for evangelism by pretty much every left-of-centre and fringe group from the Unions to radical would-be eco-terrorists and animal liberationists via the the usual collection of lefty paper-sellers and student organisations. Have a look at the bottom of this post for a list of all the fliers and leaflets I had thrust upon me over the course of the afternoon – quite an interesting selection of groups and campaigns.

[Public NME on stage]

Although there is a large focus on politics at an event like this, that isn’t the whole story. There is music, and art, and comedy and food and fun. The musical highlight for me was PanjabiMC‘s bhangra set on the main stage prior to the speeches. It was good to see Public NME playing – Respect is usually an opportunity to see some older hip-hop groups, in the past the festival has been graced by the likes of Run DMC and De La Soul – but the rig didn’t quite seem able to deliver, and the performance felt a bit distanced, so we ended up drifting off to the comedy tent where we ended up spending most of the afternoon. Highlights here were Junior Simpson and particularly Gina Yashere.

[Two people on a robotic elephant]

Just wandering round a festival like this is entertainment in itself. I liked the two characters on the robotic metal elephant cruising around playing drum and bass beats myself, but there were lots of other characters floating around. (Not to mention lots of scantily clad beautiful people – enough to keep people of any persuasion in eye candy for the afternoon.) As always the food and beer were hideously expensive, but then the event is free as a whole.

[Respect means to you...]

One nice idea was the area set aside for people to scribble their thoughts on respect and stick them up on a set of boards. There was a right mixture of stuff up here, some serious, some not, and passing later when it had all been cleared away I wondered what had been done with it all.

Here’s that list of leaflets. URLs have been added where I have them. No conculsions should be drawn as to my personal views, these are listed purely for colour, and I have included every leaflet that I was handed.

  • Rupture – techno-anarchist samizdat! Apparantly associated with www.randomartists.org, from whom I also received a leaflet.
  • Animal Aid leaflet about cows milk production. Here’s a quote: “The routine suffering of dairy cows and their calves is one of the biggest and dirtiest secrets of the modern farming indstry.”
  • “Target the Racist Rags” demo leaflet – targeting the Daily Mail on the basis of their asylum seeker coverage, Revolution, the “Socialist Youth Movement” have called a demo for the 26th at the paper’s offices.
  • A nice anthology titled “The floor would tremble if your feet could touch it” – poems by the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2002, produced by the Poetry Society and the Foyle Foundation.
  • A Ramblers Association leaflet. Nice piccies of lovely green British contryside.
  • A Palestine Solidarity Campaign leaflet.
  • The Bowl 2003, a festival at Crystal Palace Bowl on 26th and 27th July.
  • KIXA – Central Power for health of Body and Mind. Saw these guys doing a martial arts display, smashing thin bricks and stuff. They were giving out leaflets that rather made me think of cult literature for some reason. A visit to their website brought up a page refuting accusations of culthood, written in a style that rather made me feel that someone, somewhere was protesting too much…
  • Tourism Concern – responsible tourism. Where does the money you spend on your foreign holiday end up? Who benefits from tourism? Who loses out? Stuff like that.
  • A Public and Commercial Services Union promo flier.
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The State we’re in

Patrick Nielsen Hayden points us to this Guardian article on how the UK has become little more than a vassal state of the US. It lists seven points illustrating how the UK is limited by its relationship with the US. The gist of the first five points is that we are helpless without them – our ability to protect ourselves or to wage war is contingent upon the support of the US government – but it is the last two which really made me feel angry at our spineless government.

We already know that Blair and co are not prepared to stick up for the British citizens kept locked in the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, and now Blunkett has kindly arranged to extradite anyone to the US “without any need to produce prima facie evidence that they are guilty of anything” (Quote from the Guardian article cited above). Needless to say, the US has made no such commitments in return.

I’m still shaking.

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The antiquated ventilation system that they try and pass off as aircon in my office is totally crap. It is so stuffy I feel like I’m going to suffocate any second now. If this goes on I’m going to walk out, it’s ridiculous. You can’t work properly because it’s so stuffy you can barely think. Combined with screenwork all day and it’s headaches and short tempers all round.

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After four days in the ever-so-laid-back south west, getting back to London was a bit of a shocker. This was further compounded today by the Victoria line shenannigans which hit during the evening rush hour. You’d think they planned stuff like that, you really would.

Blog Rule – Can Weblogs Change Politics?

Sounds like yesterday’s voxpolitics seminar was reasonably interesting, I wish I’d been up for it but after the journey back yesterday evening I didn’t feel like a madcap dash via the tube (see above) with my pack. In fact, I just wanted a shower, and a nice quiet evening (Devonian weekends are usually alcohol-fuelled, and this was no exception).

There’s plenty of coverage everywhere else, though, so here are a few links for the vaguely interested who haven’t already read about this: Nick Barlow, Alison Scott, Tom Coates (post, notes), and that’s all I’ve bothered to read so far (OK, I did read Orlowski’s take too). Surf it up, there’s plenty out there. I’m not going to comment seeing as I wasn’t there, but I detect a certain amount of mixed feelings on this, possibly due to the potential scope of the topic and the limited time available for the debate?

Coming up…

Firstly – belated online congratulations to Glenn and Craig for their affirmation ceremony the weekend before last. I will get around to posting some pics eventually. Ditto for the Devon and Cornwall trip.

Secondly – I just finished working my way through Brian Stableford‘s 6 book future history. As a whole, I was impressed, and as I type I honestly intend to post something a bit longer about these. Anyone interested?

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[Valid xhtml 1.0!]

Although there’s actually still a bit of work to be done. The pages are still being served as text/html. Change that later. The rss feeds aren’t quite finished either, and they are being served incorrectly as text/xml. And then there’s Necho 0.1 to think about 😉

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Long weekend

Off to Devon later for a nice break. Blogging will probably be even lighter than usual.

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A Random list

Things to do (blog-related) that I have been putting off for ages:

  • Update blogroll – there are lots I read that don’t appear, and several on the list I never touch
  • Actually participate in blogdom rather than continue my extended lurking
  • Fix sendmail so that I can reliably send and receive email 😉
  • Blog my migration from SuSE to Slackware, as I have been meaning to for bloody ages, as this might actually be something that might be of use to someone. Vaguely.
  • Come up with some new layouts as I’m sick of this one. Something simpler?
  • Buy a domain, just to confuse the three people who have blogrolled me.
  • Get a job that doesn’t bore my tits off
  • Remove the terrible photo from my about page, and possibly some of the more identity-revealing info there. Yes, I know this sounds a bit strange coming from someone who puts their personal thoughts and rants on a public website, but I like being inconsistent – it keeps life interesting, OK?
  • Post a few more SF posts?

I’m in a strange mood tonight.

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