JOURNEYS…

To avoid forgetting anything, I wrote up a list, each item in itself proving to be a journey. These journeys all connected with technology.  I needed a structure, something I could see, refer to, add to, (things kept slipping my mind…so much going on) and as each item was actioned, I wanted to see it marked up as ‘started’, or, scored through as ‘done’.

I deal with security updates as soon as I am alerted.  I also scan my system to see if I’m all up-to-date. I can mark that one as…….  Continuing task – done for now.

A friend seems to have disappeared off my radar.  An email I sent about a month ago has not been returned, I think this might be good; but, her home phone number no longer connects.  She was treated for a serious illness a few years ago.  An internet search brings up old information.  Inside, I am on an emotional roller coaster. I mark this search as ‘started’, (journey to be continued).

Ransom malware has caused major, major, seizures of computer data, disrupting  UK  Health Services and many business systems.  It’s a concerted worldwide attack.  Technology and security experts talk about maintaining the security and integrity of computer operating systems.  An important security patch was available from March.  What the circumstances may tell us is, that this is too complex an event to be resolved by a concrete answer. This is marked ‘Stay Aware’

Try as hard as I might, sending a money gift securely to a new baby,  living abroad,  has proved exasperating. There’s no obvious reason given to me from a list of possibilities suggested by the company.   Mum sends  new information.  But, the website continues to stop the transaction.  However, because the latest information is correct, the company can tell me that there is a security issue with the account to which I am trying to send the gift.  Keeping the link closed is protecting accounts from potentially being compromised, including mine.  Wow! Am I glad of that!  What a journey this one is.   Task marked ‘Started’     (… problematic).

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PILLAGE!

It defied any logic I could think of.  An email informed me that my monthly fuel bill was increasing by nearly 101%  in a few days’ time.  Ouch! The day before I had an email apologizing for not advising me in advance that an increased debit had been taken from my bank account to pay for it.   I phoned the company. What superhuman patience and effort was required to wait to speak to someone, someone, who was not very helpful.  She was probably fed-up taking the flak from an army of very irate customers  who, likely, had the same experience.

The huge deduction was being taken ….wait for it………………..in preparation for when my current billing arrangements expired in three months’ time and I would automatically be transferred to a [bog] standard higher variable tariff.  Wha-a-a-t!!

In business, not good business practice, I have heard of “Do it then apologize after”.  This was a blatant example of it, an absolute abuse of trust.

Whatever happened to the regulation that requires advance notice, (about fifteen days I believe) of end of contract and best renewal offers.

Today’s letter, the one I should have got sometime before my account was pillaged,  described in general outline how the increased deductions had been calculated for everyone.  So, back on the phone today trying every trick in the book to get an answer to one of my calls.  It was too late to stop my bank account losing an extra large debit, but I have stopped the following two from happening. In the interim, I will formally request a refund of the engorged credit I have on my fuel account.

I have emailed my concerns and made a formal complaint about these spurious and dubious management business practices.

POWERFUL WORDS

Some of you from BCUK may remember Guinevere Glasford-Brown. Since those blog days, she has become a published author and got a Best Book review from The Times Literary Reviews as well.  Last week I heard she was in Brussels.  Also, last week, I heard she was safe.  I breathed again.  Atrocities are painful to hear about, and heaven only knows, we have heard about so many; too many. When you know of someone who may be caught up in an atrocity you are seized by an indescribable, awful sensation, which, muscles you did not know you had, hold down.  Guin was fortunate in her travels, others were not.  Since arriving home, she has written about some of her post trauma feelings on her Facebook Page, to get her feelings out.  Her words talk of her irritation with  family, they indicate her anger and emotional pain at what has been done to people….to people by people. Her words are powerful.

What Guin says applies to all the atrocities we hear of, be they of large groups or individuals, such as the Moslem shop-keeper in Glasgow who was murdered because he wished his customers and Christian friends a happy festival.

It is so sad, so sad.

 

MOOC OVER

Mooc over….the final  statistics were amazing. 21,000 people throughout the globe participated.  The total number of full time students at Dundee University, Scotland, this academic year  is 17,500.  For six weeks, ( the length of the course)  the mooc more than doubled the university’s student population.  What a triumph for Dundee University.  Mooc questions and comments were totalled up, the final numbers being enviously fantastic.  The ‘Educators’ who are members of the departmental academic staff, including the professors, were very active in encouraging us in our tasks and answering queries. The live interaction was terrific.  Every week, at the end of the unit, there were mooc video seminars when our forensic queries were answered in more detail.  The facial reconstruction feature was brilliant; we students  got to do it.

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The departmental staff have extraordinary busy and demanding working lives and they gave up a huge chunk of it from May this year, to develop the course and then to interact with their short term course intake. Rumour has it that the course, the forensic sciences in Identifying The Dead, will run again in 2016.

 

 

What is a mooc? It is a free of charge massive open online course. Participants can, if they choose, buy a certificate of attendance, at nominal cost, but not till they have completed a certain percentage of a course. If you want to, and you live where it might be possible, you can book for, and pay to take an examination.  While these courses do not count towards a higher qualification, they are accepted for continuous personal development, if what you learn is relevant to your profession. One of our local pharmacists is currently doing a relevant mooc, which, just happens to be with Dundee University too.  He is very impressed with the quality of his course.

I am dabbling with another mooc, which in contrast to the first one, is nowhere near as dynamic. But then, can criminology be as lively as the forensic study of identifying the dead?  I have not yet seen much Educator activity, though with week two starting,  you never know what might happen. The numbers of participants are not anywhere near comparable as the Dundee University mooc.  They are substantially lower.  As I have a few distractions coming up, I may have to bow out of this course about half way and maybe pick  up where I leave off, another time.   One helpful feature is, the courses are always there to continue on with, in silence, or, you can wait till a course is interactively offered again.

 

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FORENSIC SCIENCE AND HUMAN IDENTIFICATION

I am doing a massive open online course, (mooc) with Dundee University in Scotland. It lasts for six weeks. When I first heard about it, ten thousand people had already signed up. Massive in name and massive in number.  I like to think I might have been number ten thousand and one.

 An event I went to at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August this year informed me about moocs and in particular, this one.  The course is called ‘Identifying The Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification’.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, (if you drink tea).  I  was a week late starting and have now caught up.   We are now beginning week three and I intend to stay with the time line; you won’t hear much from me while I am keeping up with it. This course has fired up the brain cells, (much needed) with new and interesting learning; a great combination!  The science of real forensic investigations is not like what we see on television programmes such as CSI, Lewis, or, Waking The Dead. It is educating me, and ten thousand others, about what the forensic science specialists actually do and how they collect and collate the provision of evidence.

At least decade ago, a director  of a forensic laboratory in Scotland, said, that if he were seeking trainee forensic scientists he would look for candidates who had studied a science subject, such as physics, or chemistry, in depth, because they would have the desired academic rigor.  The candidates can, he said, be trained in forensic investigation to accreditation standards once in situ. There were then, and are now,  many students taking forensic sciences courses, which the professor described as ‘scientifically superficial’ and which,  are unlikely to take the students into the realms of the specialised scientific forensic work that the experts are expected to perform.  From what I have learned so far with the mooc, I can understand why that may be so. 


WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

A replacement credit card automatically arrived for one which had not expired and was not due to expire. It had features I  never had, that I did not want, and an alien name style.  This definitely merited a phone call.

Once I had bypassed the system menus, it was, said the voice, a  busy time, (late Sunday evening must be popular) and there was at least a ten minutes wait. About two minutes of the wait was taken up with a lesson on avoiding telephone fraudsters and tricksters.  Music and apologies followed on, sequentially.

Various bits of security were dealt with; there was no problem re-issuing a card without the pesky features – yes I could opt out of those.  OPT OUT…… Great trick…they impose and the customer has to dispose.

“As my present card is in date, is it necessary to issue another one?” I asked.

It was necessary to issue another one, as the unsolicited replacement will have cancelled out the card I already had.

To have another card issued in the name style I wanted, (and always had) I would need to write in with proof of identity…..!

“excuse me – I did not change my name style, you did.  I want you to restore it”. 

Agreement was reached.

BE AWARE -PHISHING EXPEDITION

Phone rings.

Faint voice, which was crossing continents “Hello  Ma’am”

….”We have heard you had a motor accident two years ago. That is right isn’t it?”

Note… No specific type of motoring accident is given and the question is phrased for me to be tricked into their lair.

I respond with a question of my own…. who gave you that information?

“Your insurance company Ma’am.

and what information were you given?

“We have heard you had a motor accident two years ago. “That is right isn’t it?”

I’m not answering your question

Him –  insistently stating…..It is right isn’t it Ma’am?

I am not answering your question

Him- hurriedly, “Thank you for your time; goodbye”

AND SO ENDED A PHISHING EXPEDITION.

NOT ENOUGH SECURITY

We are exhorted in endless ways to be security conscious, are we not? …YES WE ARE.

Don’t do this, don’t answer that, we won’t  phone you, we shall never ask you anything personal etc. etc.

I received a phone call. The guy asked for me by my surname, introduced himself with a first name and told me he was phoning about an issue I had raised about [nameless] bank. So that we could discuss the matter he would first need to go through security with me; so saying, he launched into the first (and last) personal question .

Giving me a first name was not sufficient for me, though he evidently thought it was.

No, he couldn’t tell me anything more without going through security with me. And, if I was refusing to clear security with him then he could not give me any information.

One sided security here, ringing all the alarm bells. If  the call was being recorded, I wanted it to be recorded that this call was unsatisfactory. Like a good girl, I was keeping to the security rules and keeping mine safe. Surely, for his part to confirm his status to me, information could be given about when the issue was raised at least and perhaps who may have dealt with any call relating to it. (Those were my questions).

The answer: you’ve probably guessed it – not without me going through the [ bank’s] security, with which, given the nature of the call, I was not going to oblige. Obviously tetchy, he said, in that case he would have to write to me.

I offered to phone him. Yes, I could have a number to call him on but, (there’s always a but isn’t there) ” I am between two floors and you might not get me.”
  
I await a letter.

MANY KIDS ON BOTH SIDES HAVE PAID THE PRICE

Whoever kidnapped the three Israeli teenagers in Hebron and murdered them had every intention of setting off a ‘perfect storm,’ whatever the repercussions. The kidnappers appear to have coldly calculated that it was worth it, to foment trouble on a grand scale. Irrespective of the awfulness of what had happened, the spokesman for the family, an uncle, was supremely considered in his pleas for no more killings. To paraphrase him, he believed no religion tells you to murder in its name. How I and countless others wish his words had been heard and abided by.

However, repercussions there have been. During protests against Israeli authority in Gaza, a boy, Muhammad Durin was killed.

Following the murder of the three Israeli boys, an Arab boy, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was abducted and murdered in what appears to be a reprisal action. Repercussions upon repercussion continue as I write this post. Israeli politicians have denounced the reprisal attack as strongly as they denounced the original three murders that set off the train of events. As if there was was not enough grief, Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s cousin was detained by the police and sported the physical signs of it.

It has been announced by the Israeli police that there have been several arrests of Israeli citizens in connection with the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir; the conundrum remains that no-one has been detained for the murder of the three Israeli boys.

The foment has been stirred into violence from the ground up, just as had been intended by the attack on and killings of the three Israeli teenagers.

An Israeli friend posted the following, after the discovery of the the bodies of the Israeli teenagers and before the abduction and murder of the Arab boy.

“Many other kids from both sides have paid the price of ancestral crimes and I really hope that they and the boy Muhammad Durin that was killed in a protest last week are the last in a very long list of unnecessary victims…”

This says everything I want to say, more eloquently than I could say it. I wish it had been the last word on the awful killings; I fervently wish it will be.

LET’S SEE YOU WRIGGLE OUT OF THAT ONE!

If you’re going to be a ‘fixer’ for cash – and not that much either – then you definitely have to make sure you don’t get your jeans singed in the conflagration you’ve created, nor should you dump them in a nearby bin. Incidentally, I am rather surprised you did not notice you had dropped your cell phone in the ruins, during your haste to depart the scene of crime.

Is it any wonder then, the law caught up with you and your mates, and rather swiftly too. You could hardly deny the phone was yours, but you did. You even said that you’d lost it and someone else must have dropped it at the site of your criminal activities.

The jeans…well, it was a bit difficult wriggling out of ownership of those. There were some tell tale signs of burns on your legs, in the same places where the jeans were ‘singed,’ and by the way, your DNA was all over the inside and outside of them.

You, your mates, and the guy who paid for the job, got your just desserts. judgement_542375