Moron Approaching

I got something to say here. To the drivers of vehicles on the streets of Victoria, get your heads out of your collective asses.

It’s not that hard to be a safe driver, and yet, there are lots of examples of stupidity by careless and clueless drivers. Since I am now a regular cyclist this trend scares me, and I know it scares Sox too.

My Friday commute home was a prime example of what makes me irate. 3 incidents in a 10 minute ride.

The first was as I was climbing a hill on Esquialt Road and approached Tyee, an SUV passed me with their right turn blinker on. No big deal since there was lots of room for them to get past me and make the corner. Stupid lady driver stops and looks back through her vehicle at me. She was wanting me to pass her on the inside. I had to stop and wait on the uphill. Why do people think this is a god idea? Pass a cyclist then stop on a busy road to let the cyclist pass them? Yeah, good idea moron.

The next incident was by a cab. Again on Esquimalt I approached Dominion the stupid taxi driver started to pass me with his turn signal on, I saw this and began to wonder. Sure enough cabbie turns in front of me, cutting me off, forcing me to grab the brakes. I yelled at him, something along the lines of “what the fuck are you doing”. One of the fares in the cab then gave me the finger. I was pretty displeased by that act, so I read the plate, and started reciting it over and over the rest of the ride.

The last incident was at the 4 way stop by my house. When it was my turn to go I noticed another car aproach the stop. Before I knew it they were taking a left turn to end up in the same direction I was going (I was going straight). I yelled Hey at the lady, and she didn’t react. I yelled again and finally she looked over and was shocked that I was there (she ended up driving down the center of the road for a bit).

In none of these incidents was I in any real danger but this is only because I was on the lookout for these moronic episodes. I just hope my luck won’t run out. All it will take is one slip up by me or someone else, and I will have a much more somber post here.

If you drive, please be aware of cyclists. Don’t do stupid things around them. Give cyclists the room on the road they deserve. Don’t pass a cyclist that is approaching an intersection. Slow down a little and let them have the right of way. It won’t cost you any real time on your trip, but it will cause less stress for the cyclist. Share the road. There is plenty of it out there for everyone.

Phishing Support

I could go fishing here

Who here has heard the term phishing before? In a nutshell, an unscrupulous person tries to trick you into divulging personal information to gain access to accounts you hold. Quite often this is to try and break into your eBay, PayPal, of even Bank Accounts.

One of the key things to look for in a suspected phishing attack, is that the sender of the message matches the correct url. If you receive an email from, and it tells you to login to your muddylaces account, but the url provided goes to, you should not do it. Pretty simple you would think, but some people have found bugs in popular web browsers, and this can mask the true url. These fakes sites are often very official looking replicas of the original site. They could mimic the bank’s website, tricking you into thinking you are logging in there when really the fake site has just collected your account number and pin. Scary thought.

How do you avoid falling into this trap? You can do a few things. If you are instructed to login to your account at website y, open your webbrowser, and manually type the url for y (ie, do NOT click the link in the email). If you really want to click the link, ensure that the destination to arrive at really is the correct place. Using bookmarks is a good practice too. What’s the difference between and Subtle, but easy to miss.

With this in mind I will relate a strange story. Last week one of my credit card’s sent me a mailing telling me that they had just released their first ever website for managing your account. It is the normal stuff like seeing what charges are outstanding, seeing your current bill, etc. I signed up, gave my email address, and used the site a couple times. Let’s call this company smartcard, and assume their website is

checking out the fishing hole

Yesterday I got an email saying my latest statement is ready. I opened the email, and the contents made me curious. The sending email address was Hmm, that is not the domain I created the account on. In the email it quotes the last 4 digits of my credit card. All links to the companies website end up going through, and most of them seem to have some kind of tracking token (most likely to see which link I clicked). It’s weird, everything in me says it is a phishing message, but it arrived right when my paper bill was mailed to me. I haven’t clicked any of the links either. Perhaps the is just a redirecting service. Perhaps this email really is what it says, and everything is on the up and up.

As as test I entered and into the browser url. Empty web pages are returned. This is another red flag for me

Let’s examine the 2 scenarios.
1) This is a phishing attempt. I am doing the right thing by not clicking the links. I should just delete the email, and maybe wait to see if it happens again next month.

2) It is legit, and from smartcard. If this is the case, then I really don’t want to be using their website. This is bad web practice. It screams bad idea to me. It screams phishing attempt. If I were to receive a phishing message, how do I then distinguish between it and this email? What other bad practices are they using? I want to write to customer support and tell them just how bad this is. I can’t trust them anymore.

Please note: I have changed names and url’s to protect myself (more or less). No need to inform people who I bank with.

Surreptitiously Copyrighted

It amazes me to no end how greedy and stupid record companies have become, and how ignorant they seem to be of the facts. Why would any company or store knowingly punish their customers?

If you haven’t been following the online uproar recently, Sony has released a bunch of CD’s that contain more than just music. These CD’s surreptitiously install evil software onto windows machines even if the user declines this. The software opens up backdoors into the computer, and hides itself from the operating system. This introduces huge security vulnerabilities, and many also consider this spyware. Sony claims that they do nothing with the data they receive, but my thoughts are that they do nothing now. This is all in a misguided attempt to prevent people from ripping the music and sharing it. Yes, they are trying to prevent the people who actually bought the music from using it the way they want to.

I spend a lot of money on music, only so I can be treated like a thief? I buy a product, and the seller assumes I will do the worst with it? Backwards in my mind. Some CD’s get it right though. Bonus material on a disc, and access to content online using the CD as a key are a couple ways to entice people to purchase the CD. I have several CD’s like this. Very nice. That is the way to treat someone.

The latest thing I have read about is record companies shutting down websites and software developers that distribute lyrics for songs. I’m sorry, but that is asinine. The record companies claim they are infringing copyrights. Read here for some background. While I understand that songs and music are copyrighted, whatever happened to treating customers respectfully? I don’t see how these lyrics providers could cause less albums sales? Quite often lyrics aren’t provided in CD’s. Band websites quite often don’t have this information. Why can’t a third party provide it? Someone clue me in to why record companies feel this threatens them and their industry?

I like supporting the artists, but I hate supporting crap like this. Most of the money that I pay for a CD does not go towards the artist. Some of the money that I pay will go towards badly designed DRM, and lawsuits. That sickens me. Almost to the point where I want to stop buying CD’s. Do you think the record companies realize this? I doubt it. Frustrating.

As a photographer I also have to consider my own artwork. I know I would feel disgusted if people were stealing my products. However, I would never pollute my products with something to destroy someones computer. I wouldn’t try to shut down peoples interaction with my product because someone might do something wrong. I recognize it is a thin line, but I think that record companies are on the wrong side. Unfortunately it is going to take something big to make them change their ways.

Unfurled Protection

give them the stink eye

With a glare in my eye, I stare them down. It is raining, and as I walk back to work from the car and I try to stay dry. I have no umbrella, and I am starting to get wet. Then it happens. I approach someone, each of us not wanting to step from under the protection and get wet. Yet, the person I pass has an umbrella in the up position.

Why do people insist on walking under the awnings when they have an umbrella? I had more than one person force me to step out into the rain as we passed each other. Does this make sense? Why have the umbrella unfurled if you are under an awning? Why force others to get wet when you have some protection to keep yourself dry?

Grr, yet another pet peeve due to peoples inconsiderate nature.

Automatic Mistakes

Don’t mess with someone if it works. I try to take that to heart.

This morning Suede and I entered our usual $starbucks for our Friday drinks. After ordering I noticed they had gotten a new espresso machine. It is one of the automatic machines that all the Barista needs to do is add beans to the top. The machine, grinds them, tamps them, then makes the espresso shot. The old machine the Barista measured out the epresso, tamped it themselves, then extracted the shot. More labour intensive for sure, and more prone to mistakes. I can see why they went to the new machine.

Unfortunately for me the Americano’s from these machines taste nothing like the ones from the labour intensive machines. The flavours are more watered down, and the drink isn’t as hot.

To top it off, Suede just MSN’d me to mention that the muffins we get from our usual Friday morning breakfast spot are not the ones we ordered. We asked for Raspberry, and we received Cranberry. Bad start to our Friday.

Servicing Change

Will Work for Peace

So yesterday my truck was in for regular servicing. While it was there I asked them to look into a few oddities that are starting to drive me nuts. The brakes were making some funny noises, and any time I hit a bump the suspension would make a rattling noise.

Around 4:10 I get a call and they did the regular maintence, but I need to fix my front brakes. The rotors were pitted, and the pads were needing replacement. My options for the rotors were outright replacement, or I could get them to machine down the rotors. With the pitting that might have left them rather thin, and needing replacement soon any way. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to take chances with the parts or the vehicle that stop me. The rattling was linked to leaking front shocks, and some worn out bushings in the rear sway bar. I told them to fix the brakes, and hold off on the shocks and sway bar. I will also need a new battery some time soon too. Over $580 later I had my truck back. Once the brakes had bed in a little it felt great.

I work hard so I can spend the money I make on things that I like and need. I love my truck, and as much as it pains me to spend that kind of money on it, it is one of those reasons that I work. Today after leaving work I got hit up by a panhandler. Normally I tend to keep walking and not pay any attention. As I passed this gentleman, I noticed that as he was asking for my spare change he was lighting up a smoke.

I have seen this many times. Panhandlers begging for money while they are eating a McD’s cheeseburger (granted someone may have just handed it to them). I was a little miffed at the guy tonight. I work hard, I pay my bills, my taxes, and even find some money to donate to charitable causes that I believe in. Something about this guys priorities struck a nerve.

I kept walking and didn’t give him anything, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I would like to think that if I was ever hard up for money that I would give up the unnecessary things in life. If I smoked, that definitely would be one of them. I have seen what cigarrettes do to someone, and to the bank account of someone on a fixed income. I know addiction is a tough thing to break, but if I had to choose between eating and smoking …. well, there really is no choice is there?

Pushy Foundation

X marks the charity

Here is a rant that has been brewing for a while. I was pushed over the edge last Thursday night, so here it is.

Telemarketers. Annoying, interrupting, persistent, rude and pushy.

Last night I faced the worst of them. The Canadian Liver Foundation. They called, I answered, the lady started her spiel, and right away I said I had no money to donate right now.

The lady replied that they weren’t looking for a donation right now, and continued talking. As she was babbling away I heard her mention she was looking for $200. Once again, I told her I had no money to donate right now. Again she said she wasn’t looking for money right now, and asked if two weeks from now was better. 😕 No it wasn’t.

I cut her off to tell her that I don’t give money to people over the phone. I despise telemarketers, and refuse to encourage their behaviour by giving them money. She launched into a diatribe on how it was the most effective way of communicating with people (getting into their wallets really). I said again, that I had no money to give.

She relented and asked that if she sent a pledge form for $60 would that be better? Again, “No, I don’t have any money to give you at this time.”

She tried another tactic. This was their 35 year anniversary. Could I spare $35? All together now: “No, I don’t have any money to give you at this time.”

Now she was just getting pushy, so while she was talking I just said, “You interrupted my dinner, and I must get back to it. I am hanging up now.”, and I did.

The stupid part is that as a child I was taught to not be rude. Hanging up on someone while they are talking is rude, and I don’t like to do it, but the telemarketers prey on that. They just keep talking no matter what I say. The only recourse left to me is to hang up. I know that the people I talk to on the phone are just trying to do their job. They may not want that job, and may be doing it because they really need money.

However, I still maintain that I do not give to charities that cold call me trying to hit me up for cash. There is only one charity that I give to, and they did not call me, I pledged money to them. The only other charities I support are Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the Canadian Diabetes Society, both of whom pick up clothes. They simply say they have a truck in the area, and want to know if I have something for them to pick up.

Anyway, back to my rant. If I ever were to consider donating to the liver foundation, this eperience has certainly turned me off of them. I vow to never give them money EVER! Too pushy, too annoying, and they have no respect for me.

Scruffy Detector

photoshopped streetlight
You know, in my life I have been fortunate enough to witness stupidity that really makes me think. Just today I was in Thrifty’s buying some lunch supplies, and while I was paying for my groceries, a scruffy looking gentleman walks out. As he goes through the security device, it beeps, and I realized that he had a large backpack on. He heard the beep, and he kept walking. Someone behid the counter called out “sir. can you come back sir”. The guy kept walking right out the front door.

The security device detectors are pretty much pointless to someone who is intent on stealing from the store. In almost all cases, the checkout counter is a good ten feet away (not talking just Thrifty’s here), so someone who is stealing can walk through it, and get out of the building before any staff member can really do anything about it.

In the case of Thrifty’s the guy walked out the front door, then sprinted away. A couple of Thrifty’s staff members chased after him, but he was gone, gone, gone.

Another time a few months ago I was in Sport Chek in the Bay Centre. I was browsing for some pants, and stumbled across a guy stuffing a shirt up his shirt. He knew he had been caught, and pretended to look at the shirt. He was acting very nervous and jittery. I walked away, pretending not to see anything, then went to find a staff member. In a flash the guy had disappeared, and before I could find someone, I heard the detector at the front of the store go off. What did the staff do? Nothing. They didn’t even notice that it had gone off. In a previous visit, after buying some shoes from them, when I walked out, the detector went off. I turned around, went back to the counter, and got the checout girl to deactivate their security device. Dude stealing a shirt gets away unpunished, yet me, the paying customer gets held up.

Their security system punishes their customers, but does NOTHING to stop or slow down people intent on stealing items.

Another time I walked out of the Bay in Mayfair mall, and again the clerk had forgotten to deactivate the tag. Their sensor went off, but I was already out in the mall. I turned around to go back in and realized that no staff member was even looking in my direction. Why bother wasting my time to go back into the store. I kept walking.

The rant is almost over I promise. One more quick little snippet.

While standing in line at Future Shop one day, someone who had just purchased a couple CDs was walking out of the store talking to a friend. Their security sensor went off, but the guy didn’t notice since he was talking to his friend. One of the clerks called out to him asking him to come back into the store, but he kept walking since he didn’t hear anything. The clerk never went after him, and she kind of just shrugged her shoulders. Good security system.

It all boils down to companies punishing their customers who follow the rules, yet are actualy innefective when it comes to punishing/thwarting those trying to circumvent paying.

I could go on and tie this in to copy controlled cds too. I can’t though. I have to go pick up Sue, then go watch the Canucks. Maybe more later though/

Garbage Fluid

out of place pine branch

2 truck related items this morning.

The first item shouldn’t need to be voiced, but I will say them anyway. The bed of my truck is not a garbage can! Numerous times I have parked my truck somewhere, only to return and find someone’s garbage tossed into the back. Beer cans, pop bottles, gum wrappers, and empty drinking cups are only a few examples. Are you really that lazy? 99% of the garbage found has come from when I am parked downtown. This means that the dumper is pretty close to a garbage can. It can’t be that much of a hardship to carry your refuse another block or two is it? Frustrating.

The other item, is that while returning from yesterdays boarding trip, I had a weird sensation at one point. I sensed something was up with my truck, so I scanned the dash board to see what was wrong. No red lights, or warnings (except the low washer fluid), and the temp and oil pressure were fine. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw it. The odometer read 100000! Weird. It was pretty cool to see it at exactly one hundred grand, but the circumstances were a little odd. One 123 km’s more, and I will have driven the truck 100000 kms myself. Not bad for a 98. Oh, and I booked it in for its next servicing (not that you care).