I Wish To Buy Some Malware Please…

Good morning. I wonder if your could help me. I want to buy some malware, please.

My in-law’s birthday is coming up and he’s a big fan of computers and video games and mobile phones. I want to get him something that he’ll appreciate and that he can use for years to come.

I’m not worried about the cost, as long as it doesn’t go over the top. I’ve got a budget of $ 200 as this is a significant birthday and we want to make it memorable.  I looked in JB HiFi and the Apple store but all they seem to have is headphones or Bluetooth speakers – I want something a bit more high-tech. I’ve read that malware can reduce unwary people to financial ruin and gibbering madness, and I thought that this would be nice.

Actually, I have no idea what it actually is. Is it a book or something or a tape that you play?  Can you get it on vinyl, because I know he has a record player…I’m sorry if I seem a bit vague, but I didn’t get a chance to talk much to the lady from India who said she was the Technical Department of Microsoft when she rang the other week. After I could not find the thing on the computer that she wanted me to press she just started crying and rang off. I would like a second chance to make her day.

 

 

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Facing The Book – The Experimental Results

The no-Facebook-feed experiment has been completed. One month of not scrolling down the newsfeed – the only contact being Messenger all through August. Now we’re on the 1st of September and here is what I’ve discovered:

  1. I did not collapse weeping or shivering at any point of the month. The hold that Facebook had on me was not such as to constitute a classical physical addiction. There was no cold turkey – not even a lukewarm chicken.
  2. I was as informed about the general local, state, and federal matters as I would have been had I been reading the feed. Radio and magazines filled the void in the month as far as immediate news is concerned. I did not need to read about the Edict Of Nantes on any medium, so I did not need it on the net.
  3.  I did miss out on news of a more personal nature – people nowadays take to the feed to alert their immediate social group and I very nearly missed out on a very important occasion. Luckily I was alerted and the occasion met…but complete divorce from social sites might be awkward. At the very least one would have to take an old-fashioned newspaper and read it carefully for the hatches, matches, and dispatches.
  4. The amount of time that no-feed freed up for other activities was amazing. This is as much a condemnation of myself before as it was of the internet mechanism. After all, I was the one sitting there wasting time – not the makers of Facebook. They were cramming every minute of every hour with what they hoped would prove productive advertising.
  5. Other activities saw a great deal accomplished – models built, tools cleaned, fences mended, essays written, photos taken. The house looked tidier and was so earlier and earlier in the day.
  6. Visits were made to friends physically, rather than electronically. This cost money, petrol, and time, and was overwhelmingly rewarded with personal happiness.
  7. Visitations from people who annoy me were reduced to a bare minimum. I still got Indian scam calls, of course, as these were inevitable. I got a few pamphlets and shill sheets in the post. And there was always the radio advertisement for a car yard and a dental implant surgery that clog up the old-time radio. But I was not bombarded by politics, propaganda, folly, or fecundity all month. A most refreshing time.
  8. I got to sleep at a decent hour. Or as decent an hour as the bastard cat would permit. I want a cat-proof fence down the middle of the bed.

So…what to do? Now I am free to re-commence my Facebook activity – or curtail it – or close it down entirely. I know the benefits and perils of each course. I think the best decision for me is:

  • Keep the line open. I use the Messenger function and several activities I quite enjoy are carried by Facebook in ancillary groups. No sense cutting my nose off to spite someone else’s face…
  • Open the feed for a limited period of time. And that is an exact use of the language – I shall dedicate a 45-minute period to Facebook during each day. I’ll use that FB-Time to read messages, send out replies, post column links, and read the general feed. But the last-named activity will be kept for the last, after all the others are done. If the earth-shattering news of your lunch is not within the 45 minute limit, I shall never know of it. This last month has shown me that I will never grieve for it.
  • I shall place a number of individuals upon a private notice list. If they break forth into Facebook annoyance again, I shall simply take no further notice of them. They’ll not suffer indignity through this, and neither shall I.

Really, it was so simple – yet it took a month for me to see myself and how foolish I had become with the social media site. Now I can go back to it with pleasure and reserve my folly for other fields.

Either Tell Me The Entire Story Or Keep Silent

This is an essay that will echo instantly with those of you who follow each other on Facebook or other social media sites. Personal, face-to-face, over the dinner table  communicators may also recognise the sentiments expressed.

When someone relates a story, they do so for one of three reasons:

  1. They wish to clearly describe a situation and to obtain a rational response from the listeners.
  2. They wish to instil a sense of sympathy amongst the audience.
  3. They are trying to con someone out of money.

All three of these are valid exercises and we applaud them. What we do not approve of is the vague half-announcement that tells only one DRAMATIC – OMIGOD – OMIGOD part of the story and then leaves the hearers to guess at or plead for the rest. This is known in the advertising and prostitution businesses as the come-on, and it is generally up to no good.

We’ve laughed at the term ” vaguebooking ” for this sort of thing on social media. It can also be done over a dinner table or an office desk. In all cases it is an unfair and unhelpful. But what is one to do about it?

Well, take a leaf from Mr. Literal – the Viz Comic character who takes every single statement at face value…even if it is spoken from the other end of the body.  When someone tells you half the story, accept it and act accordingly.

If they tell you that they are leaving for Peru…because…send them a hasta la vista card. And then wait until you get a postcard in return from Lima. Likely the next message will come from Lismore…

When they post that they just can’t…you quietly accept that they just can’t and move on to talk to someone who just can.

If they cry poor or sad or sick or jailed, do something to help. But let them say it clearly or not say it at all. Social interaction should not be a 19th century guessing game of emotion and sensibilities that’s broadcast to every hacker and hoon on the internet.

Promoting The Causes

Last month I watched  people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.

I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention  – not on the causes – but on them?

Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.

Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.

What Do You Do When…

  • When Facebook is not an option: When you have committed yourself to a month of no FB to see what the effect on your life will be.
  • When you do not want the latest toy that your toy retailer has put out on the shelf because your current toy is working just fine.
  • When the motion pictures on offer at your local cinema are too juvenile for words or too politically correct to stomach.
  • When every new trendy drink costs $ 20 and every new trendy food in the restaurant costs $ 50.

Answer? You blink twice, knock the water out of your ears, and come to your senses.

  • Firstly, you do things that do not involve Facebook. Hobbies, for instance. Or reading. Or writing. Or visiting friends. Or going for little trips. The things you did before you first bought one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s nickel bags.

You’ll have time for things that you ran out of time for prior to Facebook eating your day hollow. Or to put it in another way, you can call into a bar for a drink and walk out again or you can live in a bar and venture out for brief periods. Same bar, different life.

  • If you are playing with your toys so hard that the wheels fall off and all the paint is gone, you may need to get new ones at regular intervals. If you are not, the old ones can serve a great deal more time than you’d think. The money you save using the old ones can be put to other uses.
  • A motion picture is someone with millions of dollars in the bank telling you a story for ninety minutes while you sit in the dark and cringe at the price of a chocolate ice cream. The story may be well worth the telling and well worth the seeing  – if the story teller and the tale are good. If they are new, they gain a whole dimension.

If the tale is not new – if it’s a re-hash of something you saw in a comic book in 1957 – or if it’s so puerile as to suggest a Little Golden Book worth $ 4,000,000, you are perfectly justified in giving it a bye rather than a buy. With ninety extra minutes and the price of the ticket and the chocolate ice cream in your pocket you can immerse yourself in the best of new or classic literature and feel a lot more adult for it.

  • At the end of spending from $ 70 to $ 120 at dinner time you are entitled to feel both full and foolish – but in some cases you’ll only get the latter. Some restaurants do, indeed, see you coming. And then they see you off.

You need not spend that much to feed yourself, either at home or on your travels. You need not eat badly, unless you’ve fetched up at a country town that has nothing on offer at all except a blood pit pub. If you’re going to be on the road, take an emergency pack of beer, soup, crackers, sausage, and cheese, and  even if the town has closed for the night you should be able to go to bed fed. If you are in a strange city look for a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Greek restaurant and eat what they cook.

If you are at home, consider the advantages you have – your own pantry, your own icebox, your own cellar. Your own expertise at preparing something that you like. Your own schedule. Do not sacrifice these for those fast-food lights winking down the road.

Ensuring Privacy

Establishing and ensuring privacy in the modern world is more difficult than it used to be. We are subject to enquiry and observation in nearly every aspect of our lives. People have written in to the BGA Advice Bureau seeking ways to reduce this – we are happy to help. Here is a list of practical measures that the householder can take to increase and maintain their privacy:

  1. Do not put a number on your house. People who wish to find you based upon your physical location use this to pinpoint you. If you talk your neighbours into adopting the same measure, the entire area can be impossible to decipher.
  2. Maintain several names. Give one in one location and another at a different venue. Keep a notebook to accurately record who you are at any one place. Do not deviate.
  3. Avoid using banks to store money. They always take far too great an interest in you once you lodge funds with them, and they can be coerced by the Taxation Department into telling about it. A large safe set into the ground is he best alternative, though you’ll need to pay for the safe in cash and haul it home and imbed it yourself. Place no faith in mattresses as cash receptacles.
  4. Pay for everything you buy in cash. If the item is too expensive for this method, consider stealing it or going without.
  5. Use false names on the internet. They should not be spectacular. And never post anything that is so offensive or controversial that the media watchdogs batten upon it.
  6. Act strictly in accordance with all laws – including traffic laws. This will attract no interest form the police and unless you are selling doughnuts, they will take no notice of you.
  7. When you go to confession, get the priest to tell you his sins.
  8. Vacation in-country, preferably in town, and possibly in the house.  No travel, no passports or documentation.
  9. Marry someone who is very secretive, but never ask them why.
  10. Wear unobtrusive garments bought from goodwill shops. Make no eye contact.
  11. Become Vice President of the United States.

 

The Rise Of The On-Line Booster

If you would like to read about ” boosters “, I can suggest no finer book than ” Babbit ” by Sinclair Lewis. It may seem a little dated to some, but then anti-American propaganda never really gets old if you find the right readership. You may be just the fellow traveller who would appreciate it. Paperback versions are readily available, and Dear Old Sinc does get some good lines in there.

I am reminded of it when I get responses via email to these columns. A fair few of them seem to suggest that I can make a fortune by following their formulae for search engine success and/or marketing. I suspect that few of them really have read what I wrote – that this column is not selling anything – nor buying it either.

It almost seems as though they have turned the old saying back to front and are urging me to stick my business in everyone else’s nose…

Fine, if I was trying to market a feel-good book on how to feel good or a successful program on how to be successful…but I am actually operating a personal pillbox from which I can mow down my enemies. When I run out of enemies I mow down friends. Hey, the machine gun bullets are not fussy…

If you have had the misfortune to be attacked and destroyed by this weblog column consider yourself lucky – when you lie down and bleed you will not attract further fire. It is only the heroic that get another fusillade.

Far worse off is the person who I praise. When you put people on a pedestal they are visible to more batteries and will attract heavier ordnance. The spotlight of fame is a merciless one.