You’re doing a great job

I’d just like to say a huge ‘well done’ to all those people who are stockpiling, ready for the end of civilisation.

Seriously.

I’ve just been to do my normal weekly shop, and found the shelves bare.  Not just of the items we’ve been hearing about: sanitising gel, toilet roll, and pasta – no, the stores are now out of meat, milk, cereals, potatoes, bread, eggs, flour…

People are stocking up now, and planning to keep topped up by getting regular deliveries.

It is now at the point that every delivery slot is pre-booked for two weeks.  Planning ahead, you see.

So, again, I say well done.

Congratulations on making sure that you are safe.  No need to worry about anybody else, as long as YOU are okay.

Only….

I’m the one that is supposed to be making those deliveries.  And I haven’t got anything to eat.

Oh dear, I guess I’ll have to take the Government advice, and stay at home.  Which means, of course, that you can only eat if you go out and re-stock – but there won’t BE any stock, because the delivery drivers are staying home and being as selfish as you.

Whoops.

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Cookie woes, yet again

More and more often, on my phone and on my computer, while looking something up on the internet, I get told that I have to ‘make a choice about cookies’.

For those who don’t know, don’t care, or just can’t remember – a cookie is a teeny tiny text file that is stored on your device by somebody else, so they can watch where you go and build a detailed profile of you and your activities.
This profile is then used for many, many purposes, ranging from targeted advertising to political electioneering.  (Yes, the data collected is used to personally target election promises at you!)

I’ve complained about cookies before, many times, and things have changed a little – there are now laws about them.  It is no longer legal for websites to just put them on your system, they have to have your permission to do so.

Yay!

Yeah… This post is complaining about the way they do that.

A common method is the pop-over.  You arrive at the webpage you want to look at, and just as you start to read, the entire window is darkened, and a new window comes on top of it, asking you to click on ‘accept’ before you continue.

If you simply click, you give them permission to store dozens of cookies on your system – and not just them, you also just agreed that anybody can store a cookie on your system.  Yep, you just agreed that the Nazi party can store the location of the missing gold bullion on your computer, making you an accessory to war crimes… But not to worry, at least you can read about the Cardassians now.

The interesting thing is if when you actually refuse to ‘accept’ the cookies.  You are always given a way to refuse them – although refusing the cookies usually means you are refused entry to the site – so take a look at it sometime.
A common outcome is that you are allowed to choose which cookies to allow.  You have the option of refusing targeted ad cookies, sometimes you can refuse what are known as ‘analytics’ cookies, but always, always, you are told that you cannot refuse ‘required’ cookies.

The last time I looked at what was ‘required’, I was amused to note that the major ad targeting and analytics firms had their cookies listed in the ‘required’ category.  So you think you are refusing to allow them, but you are really giving them permission to do what they want.

And here is the really annoying bit.  There is no way, at all, ever, of not getting any cookies on your system.  If you fill in their pop-up, and tell them that you refuse cookies…

They put a cookie on your system to record the fact that you refuse to give them permission to put a cookie on your system!

If, like me, you have your system set up to reject all third party cookies, then you will be asked every time you visit website ‘x’ you will be asked if they can store cookies on your system.  NO MATTER what answer you give, they will try to store a cookie, find out that they can’t, and complain about how their website will not work as intended.

To which I say ‘good!’  Because the way their website is ‘intended’ to work includes getting as much data about me as it can, and selling it.  Analytics cookies are supposedly there so they can improve the site – by which they mean find out which pages are most popular so they can charge more for the adverts on them.

It’s third party cookies that are the problem, almost universally.  You visit, for instance, your banks website.  If you log in to check your balance, then the website will make use of a cookie to record the fact that you are an ‘authorised’ visitor.  This is good.  But they will also try to put a cookie on your system from Google.  Google is not the owners of the website you are visiting, but are a ‘third party’ to the transaction, with you and your bank being the first two parties.

Once Google have the cookie on your system, then every time you visit any website that utilises Google services this cookie is used to record the visit, in detail.

Once Google have their cookie on your system, everything you do on the internet is recorded!

(Although Google are pretty much the largest, there are many other companies out there doing the same thing – I’m not picking on Google, I’m just using them as they are the most well-known.)

All I want to know is: why is it so hard for us to have the privacy we deserve?
Every time a law is passed to give us this privacy, businessmen find a way around it, and never once stop to think that that is the reason the law was made in the first place!

Rant over.

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Militant Vegans – why?

Every week, we have friends to dinner.  And every week, we go to them for dinner.  So what? I hear you say.  Well, the friends in question are vegetarians.

It’s not easy, but every week I manage to come up with a meal that we can all eat.  Usually, this means doing two separate main items – one meat, one not.
Conversely, my friends will cook meat for us when we go there.

We work around each other, as any decent people would.

Which is why I’m so annoyed at the militant vegans.
They choose not to consume animal products.  Fine.   That’s their choice, and I will support it. (By consume, I mean eat, use, or wear.)
But they also insist that nobody else should consume them either.

Why?

You have made a choice – but why do you think you have the right to force that choice on others?

Read more…

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What a load of *****!

In the news today is a story about Tesco being sued for pay disparity – or sexual discrimination.
Apparently, men working at the distribution warehouse are paid £11 an hour, while women on the shop floor (Supermarket shop floor, not factory) are only paid £8 an hour.  Shock, horror!

Only…

They are paid £8 an hour in the store, whether they work on the tills, in the petrol station, stack shelves, pick for home deliveries, or move cages in the ‘warehouse’ at the back of the store. Read more…

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More adventures on the web

You have probably heard of eBay – the website where you can buy or sell virtually anything.

If you can use it, of course.

I first used eBay around 20 years ago, and both bought and sold items on it.  I created my account, set my password, and happily continued to use the site – without issue – for years.
Until they were hacked.

The hackers got a lot of information: names, addresses, email addresses, maybe even credit card numbers.
What they didn’t get was passwords.

(Passwords are always encrypted.  I’ve run a few websites, and if a user forgot their password, I couldn’t tell them what it was – because even I couldn’t read it!  )

EBay’s response?  Lock user accounts until the user allowed ebay to contact them with a new password.  By text, to a number they didn’t have; by phone, to a number they didn’t have; or by another option I can’t even remember it was so pointless.

I still cannot access that account.

So I created a new one.  Which I haven’t used yet – and probably never will.

You see, within a couple of days of creating the account, eBay told me that there was ‘suspicious activity’, locked the account, and told me to change my password.

I did.  Then I changed it back.  Then they locked the account again.

I tried to contact them.

They do not have an email address!  You can telephone them, I believe, but I’ve read online that you can be on there over an hour.  You can also use a thing called ‘live chat’, or use an online help thing – all you have to do is log on…

Yep.  If you can’t log on, you have to log on to get help logging on.

I did find an online form that is supposed to go customer services, so I asked them why they keep locking my account, and pointed out that if they didn’t want people to use the site, they should close it down.  And if they did want people to use the site, they should allow them to log in!

I wonder if I’ll ever hear back from them…

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Service Please

For the last few months, I’ve been trying to find somewhere for our little dog to stay while we go abroad – and I keep on hitting the same wall.
It’s a wall that is not confined to that little corner of the world, either, as I keep hitting it in other areas too.

Read more…

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Why?

Modern living involves giving your contact details to almost everybody you have any dealings with.  Even the smallest relationship will involve a request for your name, location, and email address.
You already know my views on this…

Today, though, I’m talking about how that information is used, and how stupid the people using it are.

My partner has just moved in with me.  We hired a van and moved all the furniture last week, and we have set up mail forwarding with the Post Office.

Any mail to my partners old address will now be redirected to their new address, which is mine.
Today, a letter arrived here with no name on it, just the address.  It’s from the Post Office, and it’s an advert for mail forwarding…

Why?  What possible sense is there in spending money telling me about a service we just used?!?!?!

Do they think we’re going to move again?

And yes, it is just an advert – it is not a receipt, or an acknowledgement.  It makes no mention of the fact that we have just used the service, and has no name on it – neither mine nor my partners.  It is, however, marked ‘Private and Confidential’ for some reason – though why an advert should be Private is beyond me!

No.  My address has been added to a database and marked as ‘interested’ in mail forwarding, without a single thought being given to the fact that A) We obviously know about the service as we’ve just used it, or B) the fact that this is the address mail is being forwarded to.

The only word is stupid, surely?

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I’m depressed now…

Today was a good day.

Today, we spent over three hours in the Travel Agents, during which we arranged a two week all-inclusive stay at a hotel in Cyprus.  During that time, we will stand on the beach and make our vows to one another.
We will arrive in Cyprus as an engaged couple, and leave as a married couple.

We then had a nice lunch, and reflected how happy we were.

Today, I told my betrothed, was the third happiest day ever – including the future.
After a pause, I was asked what were one and two.

Well, number two, obviously, is the day we got engaged.  And number one?  That is in the future – the day we get married.

After we had enjoyed that moment, I realised something – and I’m now very depressed.

What did I realise?  It’s simple.  My wedding day will be the happiest day of my life.  Everybody knows that.

Sadly, though, it leads to an inescapable conclusion.

It that’s the happiest day of my life, then it can only be downhill from there!

My best will be behind me, and every day after that will be sadder.

I’ve condemned myself to a life of misery, haven’t I?

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A great invention

I’ve thought of a great invention.  Something that we could all really use.

We all, now, have access to the internet in one way or another – even if it’s only by going to the local library – so wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of global interconnection of all the available information.

I’m talking about some method whereby people like you and I could just type in a short question, and have the answer appear on the screen within minutes.

Read more…

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Barking up the wrong tree

I got an email today from a website called bark.com.  Their business is ‘lead generation’, and they want me to use their services…

‘Lead generation’ is basically a service where they charge for a list of potential clients.  In their email, they say that they are different to other services as they ‘check that leads are relevant’.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Read more…

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