Friday, November 20, 2015

You said you were a friend...

Minding my own business, doing my own twitter thing... and you followed me. Since I always look at someones timeline before I follow or follow back, I naturally checked you over.

Sure, you were cute. But we all know real beauty comes from within, and your posts seemed to be thoughtful and caring, so I followed back. The fact you were married, with children, had no bearing on anything. Over time, we exchanged the odd tweet but we never really talked a lot.

One day out of the blue, you started blurting out some family personal problems to me in DM's, which needless to say took me by surprise a little bit. I guess my reputation for keeping confidential things confidential, preceded me. I listened with a sad heart as you described events, and offered bits of advice and support here and there. At the end of it, I know you felt like the weight of the world had been taken off your shoulders, even if for just a day.

Over the next while, we talked more. I would use my word twists to help let you smile and laugh, and eventually you ended up telling me that you wanted to be my friend, wanted to get to know me, wanted to know all of the things that happened in my life and what made me be the person I am. You also said that you never wanted to hurt me. Eventually, you even told me you had a crush on me, and I laughed a little bit over that. I made you feel safe, because part of the things that I told you, dealt with my ex wife and the abuse she put me through and how she cheated on me... and that was something that I had never done to anyone and would never do to anyone.

We played a lot of word games, and it was fun. Those were after all, just words in direct messages. Time passed, and we eventually met in real life. At first it was a bit awkward but during our coffee or lunch meets, there was never any form of contact, other than hugs. Things carried along for quite some time, and I never once deviated from my morals.

We went from having word fun, to literally a dead stop, almost overnight. And that's cool. I get it. And then you started to shy away from the friendship we created. So I put a stop to it, unfollowed you and forced you to unfollow me. Shortly after that you started to email me, often with no content other than a title for the email. You said "it can't end like this"... and you followed me back. Clearly, since I am obviously such a glutton for punishment, I followed you back as well, and we had some more direct messages. And a few more meetings in real life. This is when the real you, started to become clear.

What I saw was a person that was afraid I would spill the beans and a person that had more interest in protecting her private life. And despite my telling you for like "forever"... I am not that type of guy. You finally seemed convinced, at which point you just shut down again. You had your jollies, you had your fun, and it was over. I sent you a DM just after your birthday, belated and all. Mine is just a short time after yours and I got... nothing.

It was at that point that it finally dawned on me... I'd been had. You got what you wanted.... a little bit of excitement at my expense. So much for your promise that you would never hurt me. The devastation of that caused me to stop using twitter for a long period of time. I of course, did that unfollow thing again with you, and the rest of your family. And since coming back, my online time has been quite low. I am extremely leery of new people following me, and I am a lot less helpful to other people that I know. For the most part, I know they are not out to use me like you did but as the saying goes, once burnt twice shy.

I know you still troll me. Today I was informed by a little birdie that you went private on your account. When I went to look, twitter also told me you blocked me. A little bit of an over kill, don't you think, my dear? :) I mean after all, going private does the same thing.

I have found out you are much more egotistical than I realized. Looking good, taking those never ending selfies, having people say how cute you are... Those are the things that are important to you, not friends. A friend that never did any harm to you, never spilled the beans about you... and you stabbed both in the heart and in the back.

I'm creating this post, because I want you to know that you mean nothing to me anymore. I feel sorry for the people that are around you, including your family. Man, if they only knew...

Unlike you though, I am... not ... that ... guy. .. .. I remember at one point, you told me the only reason you were on twitter was because of me. I would suggest that it maybe its the right time to close your account. You think you are safe from prying eyes, the ones that are watching over you to see if you pull the same stunt with another guy.

I think you were just looking for some innocent thrills. And you got those, big time. Despite your best efforts into trying to make it more, I also think that you got frustrated because I didn't give in.

Remember, I told you... all I have left in life is my morals. I suggest you try getting some. It's a much more joyous feeling, compared to being self centered and only concerned about how you look.

As a side note to others reading this... take a moment and remind yourself... don't be like this to your friends. Because real friends, don't do this.


Several people have commented that since my friend didn't keep their word, then why should I? And that is a good question. My biggest concern is for others that will fall prey to the same trap I did. No one should be subject to the heartbreak of someone professing to be a friend, when clearly they had ulterior motives. Of course, part of this is my fault as well, for getting sucked into something that I should have known better on. I honestly thought that the friendship was real. A few people have made guesses on who this person is and up to this point I have neither confirmed nor denied. I was told at one point that she would leave twitter. Which is perhaps the best solution... put more effort into being that loving wife, for the sake of everyone. Then there would be no reason to spill any beans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Scam Phone Calls

Ah yes, the topic we all love to hate, with a passion...

Over the years, the poor excuse for humans that make these calls, seems to have grown at an exponential rate. And over the years, the various telephone companies have taken your complaints about these calls, and it would seem like nothing is ever done.

The various telcos all offer the same wide range of excuses... "if we block that number they will just use another one" or "it's coming in from over seas so there is nothing we can do about it". And I am sure you have heard a lot more. It's my very humble opinion, that you are getting lied to. And here is why...

First of all, you need to understand a bit about the phone system. There really isn't a lot of difference between cell phones and landlines, they all operate in the same basic principle.

Way back "in the old days", phone exchanges had no computers to control them. The system was a design of mechanical switches and relays that would take each number you dialed on your rotary phone, and step through those numbers to connect you to your call. Quite often, if you were calling a number that was in the same exchange that you were in, you only needed to "dial" the last 4 digits. So if your phone number was 555-1234 and the person you were calling was at 555-2345, all you needed to dial was 2345, and you would be connected.

As the system grew, dialing all 7 digits was a requirement, and with those changes came the recognition of touch tone phones, and computers to control the connections. As with every industry around, computerized exchanges were a major game changer for the communications industry. Neat things could happen, such as caller identification (CID), three-way calling and call waiting. The software in the computer could send the number of the person calling (called ANI or Automatic Number Identification) during the 'silent period' between the first and second ring. Phones with a CID could then display that phone number and name. This is why you always had to wait until after the first ring, to see who was calling.

Along the way, the phone companies and software makers however, got lazy. Really lazy...

The presumed that the information supplied by the "calling office", would always be accurate, always be correct... after all, it was a closed system, and nobody ever thought about what would happen if that information was hacked.

Times changed, technology changed, equipment changed, and the internet and cell phones appeared in the mix of that technology. Yet, the way to identify that same information, never kept up with things.

Computers advanced, and the UNIX type operating systems started to change over into the various forms of FREE open sourced licenses for the multitude of LINUX type operating systems.

This allowed the creation of server machines with such a wide range of features, those software developers came up with a way in their programming languages to determine and confirm the IP address of the connection being made by users into that same server. And if the IP doesn't match the one identified in the incoming connection, the server would refuse to allow it to happen.

This... has been a standard in the LINUX and "server" world for a long long time now. Anyone that has ever played with a LINUX type server system, will see these connections being refused in the system log files, or the system administrator being sent alerts or messages, at which point they could take other options to ban those connections. Naturally, much depends on just how the administrator wants to control their system.

The point being, it can and is being done, if a very free and very powerful operating system.

Yet despite the technology being available, the software for the phone companies has not progressed at all in this area.

The latest scams seem to be using a method that will "spoof" that ANI/CID information, so that the number that appears is from the same exchange that you are in. These scammers will say they are from Air Miles, or a hotel chain, or a credit card company, etc.

In this case, these are called "intra-office" calls, because they (supposedly)  come from the same exchange. One would *think* that the computer in the same exchange could easily test to see if the calling number is indeed the number listed. But nope, that's too difficult to do. In several cases, we have even had our own number appear as the number the call is coming from. Which of course, is impossible.

Other scams have had numbers appear to be from the police, or the government, or even from Microsoft (to fix that virus you have). These calls are classified as "inter-office" calls, because they come from external exchanges. Which of course, could be any where in the world.

Yes, it would take a few more lines of code to signal back to that exchange "hey, is this really your number?" but... its only a few more lines of code.

If the LINUX type operating systems have the smarts to be able to do this, then why are not the multitude of phone companies fixing their software? And the answer to that, is really quite simple...

In Canada, the CRTC has not ordered the phone companies to make the required changes.

"It would be too hard" ... "There are too many players in the field" ...

But it's really not that hard. All it takes is some balls to stand up to the big players in Canada, and the rest of the world too. They can easily mandate that all calls must be verified within the next year. And they can mandate that calls that do not provide the required verification must be dropped within two years. This would allow for those in backward civilizations to get on the band wagon.

One would think that the phone companies, with all of the consumer complaints they get about these, would be begging the CRTC to order this to get done. But no, that also, is not happening. And some will point out that it's not really the CRTC's mandate to look after this. But it should be. Anyway, with that said...

There is however, some good news in this. Perhaps for you. Certainly not for the phone companies though.

Since CID is not guaranteed to be accurate, you should be asking YOUR provider why you are paying for it. Some phone plans include "all features" for one price. Those companies will be a little harder to barter with. However if you are with say, TELUS... where you get charged for each feature or group of features, this is very easy. Just complain. Loudly... and ask for money off of your bill until they get it fixed.

In our case, its 5 bucks a month. If everyone on TELUS (or any other provider) would complain then you will be hitting them in THEIR pocket book. And if you all do this, the financial loss to them will be huge. And you know how they hate to lose money.

If the law doesn't mandate that they fix this, perhaps the financial loss will encourage them to get off their butts and finally.... do the right thing.

Isn't it about time?

Friday, May 1, 2015

No support for Charities you say?

In a report by the Edmonton Sun, a partial quote follows:

"If there's no bottom line, then there's no money that goes to charities. We won't make donations to charities," Mawji said, using the Stollery Children's Hospital and the University of Alberta as examples of where the losses will be felt.

If you don't like what this group are saying, I've compiled a list of the names and office numbers, should you so desire to voice your opinion to them directly. My suggestion would be to simply say:

If your organization is going to refuse the fine and deserving charities in this city and province, then I am sorry but I will never support you or be associated with anything you will ever do.

In all cases, I urge you to be polite, but firm. As much as you may be tempted to curse and swear and scream and holler, it is most important that you demonstrate that you are BETTER then they are.

Tim Melton - Chairman of Melcor Developments 780-423-6931
Ashif Mawji - CEO of NPO Zero 587-409-4299
Doug Goss - Lawyer (net shows multiple possibilities. Anyone got the right number?)
Paul Verhesen - CEO of Clark Builders Edmonton 780-395-3300 Calgary 403-253-0565
John Cameron - CEO of Keller Construction 780-484-1010

Please note. These phone numbers were acquired by an internet search engine, and they may not be accurate. Please advise me, and I will make any necessary corrections immediately. And my deepest apologies to anyone that may get contacted due to an incorrect number.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Alberta Elections 2015

We have seen this over and over in Alberta politics.Both at the local level and the provincial level. Clearly at the national level as well, but that part seems to be way out of our control. What we DO have a chance of controlling, is our own province.

And we must take that control back. It would seem that WE have forgotten, that politicians are elected to represent US, the people. Yet time after time, the appearance has been that those with the most money, win.

This is 100% wrong. Because "most money" generally has meant piles of donations from corporate interests, and those of the rich.

Alberta election laws must be revamped. And I am going to push hope the next government will make some sensible changes for future democracy.

Some of the things I would like to see changed are:

  • Fixed election dates
  • Donations limited to people. Not unions. Not corporations.
  • A low cap on the amount donated. Say $500.00 max.
  • An equal limit on advertising by all parties.
  • Maximum limit of aired tv commercials and newspaper advertising. Perhaps no more than 10.
  • Accountability in election promises. No more excuses. No more "but I wasn't aware".
  • Recall legislation.
  • FULL disclosure in government expenses. No more hidden funds.
  • All expenses to be searchable via the web. No more than a 30 day delay.
  • No more "hiding" behind FOIP rules. WE are the taxpayers. WE have a RIGHT to know.
  • Mandatory public candidate forums. All candidates are required to evenly contribute to the cost of holding these debates. All forums must be held no later than 2 weeks prior to the election. Community halls are NOT that expensive, especially when costs are shared. And of course, all candidates will be required to attend.
Now, some may say "but you can't limit spending" and I have to ask why? If everyone has the equal opportunity to save for a restricted known amount of dollars on advertising (signs of course, are exempt), then we have a much better chance of a more level playing field. This will allow for a better planned distribution of funds for things like signs, pamphlets, paying for volunteer parties to honor their commitments in helping out their chosen ones, etc.

Nothing will change, unless we... the people... speak out. If there ever was a time when voting was needed by all the people, this election IS that time. Please vote.