Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth Hour in Horsham

Being the Green sort of people we are (we buy local products when available, have a small, efficient car, always take reusable bags with us when we shop and make use of public transpiration as often as we can – if the planet pulls through, you can thank us) my wife and I decided to participate in Earth Hour.

At the appointed time, we turned off all our lights and electrical equipment and then, instantly bored, decided to take a walk around town to see if anyone else was as daft.

Seeing as how this is a humor blog, and pointing out failure is funnier than relating how something actually worked, I was slightly disappointed to notice a difference. A small one, to be sure, but a difference just the same.

Along the High Street, lights glowed from the storefronts of the travel agent's, mobile phone shops and clothing outlets, but Jones Boots was dark, as was Swan Walk Mall, which usually has all its internal lights on for security reasons.

The Carfax was well lit up, but that likely had to do with public safety. Along the pathways leading over Albion Way and through the park, however, many of the streetlights were turned off, provided enough light for safety yet using half the energy. One wonders why they don't do this every night.

The District Council office buildings were suitably dark, though I have to admit I never really paid much attention to them before so they might be like that every night.

One building I do pay attention to is the new County Office building. Whenever I walk by it at night it sits empty, yet lit up as if they are trying to attract the attention of passing aircraft. Tonight was no different.

On a normal night this strikes me as a needless waste of energy, but on this night, you think they'd have at least made an effort, especially as they were one of the entities jumping on the Earth Hour bandwagon.

So, after forty minutes of wandering around town, nodding our heads in approval or tisk-tisking the offenders, we returned to our flat, turned on all the lights and made tea.

I'm all for saving the planet, but get real.

This is a photo I snapped of our block of flats as we returned from our Earth Hour perambulation. No, Grainger LTD is not participating in the event, this is what it looks like every night because all the security lights are broken and the landlord won't fix them. Don't get me started.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sucking Face

I suppose it’s time to stop bitching about Facebook; it doesn’t show signs of going away any time soon and, I have to admit, I’m beginning to find it useful.

Before you think I’m jumping too enthusiastically on the technology bandwagon, let me assure you I still eschew e-books and think Twitter is a waste of bandwidth. Twitter offers only a tiny part of Facebook’s most used and useful feature, but without any of the bells and whistles. It is a redundancy. It should slink away. Now.

But Facebook, despite still being beyond my understanding, is carving out a cozy corner in my heretofore cold heart. It is actually a time saver, allowing me to hit one page and find out what all my virtual acquaintances are up to in one go. That, to me, is the selling point, and why it is the page I usually hit after my Yahoo mail homepage. It doesn’t take as much time or effort as reading though blog after blog and it lets me catch up on everyone. That said, it is a lot more superficial, but these days, that is probably a bonus.

Logging on to Facebook is like wandering into the school cafeteria at lunchtime. You can see groups of people clustered around different tables, some you know, some you don’t. You can overhear snatches of conversation between your friends and friends of friends. You might even sit down and have a word with one or two of them. Then you leave, content knowing everyone is all right and having a good time and that they know that you are as well.

If, however, you’re looking to sit down over a buttered scone and a cup of tea with one of your closer friends, well then, you need to go somewhere else.

A blog, for instance, where you can ramble on for more than 140 characters, make a point, paint a scene, talk about something important to you in a meaningful way and not be forced to reduce it to, “Got dumped on Saturday. Really sucks. :(“

I was a long time coming to blogs, being happy in my Luddite world of HTML, but once I crossed over, I was hooked. Problem is, now that I am firmly settled in the blogshpere, I find they are, like, so 2008. I thought I was being hip, but I find myself, once again, sitting on the trailing edge of technology.

I just read an article claiming that e-mail will be extinct in another ten years. Seems it is being regarded as too old fashioned. The focus, the article claims, is shifting away from instantly sending a significant chunk of information directly to the person you want it delivered to and more toward broadcasting snippets of news to a wide group of people.

Texting, Facebook, Twitter—that’s what the hip young people are using these days. E-mail is, well, so, 2008.

It makes me want to crawl back to my HTML and hide,

F*&%$@G Facebook.

CROSS DRESSING BLOGS -- a word of explanation:

In casting about so something new to write about, it came to my attention that the post on my Life of Writing blog has as much to do with writing as the post currently on my Postcards From Across the Pond blog has to do about being an expat. So, in the interest of buying myself more time (and perhaps gaining a few crossover fans) I have simply swapped them around.

I hope this doesn’t break some sort of blogshere code of honor or anything. I’m not trying to pull a fast one; I’m just too tired to write anything new (in the blog arena) at the moment.

And the best part it, the Sucking Face (book) post, when it goes on my Postcards blog, will automatically be posted to Facebook.

Friday, March 5, 2010

English as a Second Language

I received the following e-mail the other day. The header is heavily edited for obvious reasons, but the body of the letter is word-for-word:

From: Bert Mckinnon: AssholeWithTooMuchTime@OnHis.Hands
To: NotMyEmailAddress@ButIGotItAnyway.Dammit
Subject: Hello
Attachments: (Brunette.jpg) – the sort of photo that comes in a new wallet
How your mood? I very much would like to know you better... I would like to write to you a little about myself... To me of 28 years. I the brunette, very cheerful and beautiful woman... If you wanted me the nobility better can write only to my personal Email.
I hope you to me will write about myself.

Aside from the obvious (this person is tragically in love with ellipses) I’m guessing English is not the native language of the sender. And I have to wonder at the point of such a letter.

How lonely and desperate do you have to be for “If you wanted me the nobility better…” to sweep you off your feet?

And “Bert McKinnon”? What sort of name is that for an Internet temptress? I don’t know about you, but Bert screams “I’m a man” in my world, unless you are a Roberta. But anyone out for a cyber-snog with the name of Roberta McKinnon would do well to adopt a more appropriate nom de plume, such a Sally Cyberslut or Julie I-want-To-Send-You-Naked-Photos-Of-Myself-To-Gain-Your-Trust-So-I-Can-Empty-Your-Bank-Account Smith.

At least she didn’t mention the size of my penis (how do they know?) like many of the mystery women who write to me do. You know, things like “Make your man-tree hard grow so women laughing at you will stop.” I made that up, but it isn’t far off of the mark.

Unfortunately, these are the types of communications that make up the bulk of my e-mail these days. I can’t complain; it’s my own fault.

A few years ago I naïvely thought I could defeat spammers by changing my e-mail address on a regular basis. So I changed my spam-ridden e-mail address to a new one and told all my friends. Many switched to the new address. Some did not. The spammers used both. Not one to give up on a bad idea, I tried this about five times before I admitted defeat. By then I had thoroughly confused my friends and provided a huge target for the spambots.

My supposed saviour, Yahoo Spam Filter, didn’t help. There is a button you can click to notify Yahoo that the letter is spam and the filter will “learn” what is and is not spam and filter out all the bad stuff. In my experience, all the button does is alert the spammers as to where I am because whenever I undertake a campaign to eradicate spam, I generally end up with ten times more.

Worse yet, the Yahoo Spam Filter also sends all my blog comments, which are specifically tagged to go into my IN box, into my spam folder. So I currently enjoy the irony of having to go to my spam folder because, if there is any mail for me, that’s where I’ll find it.

So I am reading a lot of letters from Bert and his buddies these days. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but on the bright side it is often a revelation to discover the extraordinary and starling ways desperate third-worlders with an internet connection and a penchant for larceny can torture the English language in their attempts to woo the gullible and, one has to suppose, functionally illiterate into revealing their bank details in exchange for virtual titillation.

So until Bert and his ilk discover they can make more money robbing liquor stores, or I become wealthy enough to develop my own, effective spam filter (or at least have enough money to hire people to read my mail for me) I’m afraid finding relevant communications will continue to be a scavenger hunt through spam hell.

But those days may be over sooner than you think: I just received a notification from The National Lottery Board informing me that I have won $87,674,287.37 in the National Lottery. I can’t wait until they deposit the money in my bank account!