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megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
megpie71

February 2016

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megpie71: Avon standing in front of Zen's dome, caption "Confirmed" (confirmed)
Thursday, February 4th, 2016 04:07 pm
This is going to be a regular thing, I think. These are the employers who have bothered to contact me to let me know I wasn't successful in obtaining work with them. I figure they're the polite sorts, so I want to give them a bit of free advertising to encourage this kind of behaviour a bit more widely.
  • Golden Egg Farms (egg suppliers)
  • Fleetcare (corporate/government fleet management & maintenance)
  • Practice Insight Pty Ltd (medical services)
  • Rockingham Psychology (psychological services)

If you have need of any of the services listed above, and you're in the Perth metro area, why not give those businesses a try?
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016 06:53 am
Had a very poor night's sleep last night (had trouble going to sleep due to the heat; woke up during the night overheated and dehydrated, and couldn't get back to sleep for over an hour; got jolted awake again by leg cramps about a half an hour before my alarm was due to go off). I'm currently sitting here experiencing one of my warning signs for gastro-intestinal distress (burping up gas which sort of tastes like bacon as it passes over my tongue). I have an appointment with my Job Active provider at 9am (which I am NOT looking forward to, because they're about as useless as tits on a bull, and they're intended to be this useless as a point of government policy). Oh, and I got another letter in my email from the nice people at Moton Group "offering" me a "job", as well as two email letters from the latest iteration of the "LKT Company" scam (the company has changed its name and now calls itself "Nocturne", and refers to itself as "fast-growing", but the other particulars are pretty much the same).

The signs are not positive. Unfortunately my preferred remedy (going back to bed, pulling the sheet over my head and pretending today doesn't exist) is not available (see: appointment at 9am). So I'll need to head to plan B - bull through things.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Saturday, January 16th, 2016 11:18 am
The fake job scammers are at it again. This time, they're sending stuff out under my email address! How do I know this? Well, I woke up this morning to discover I had an inbox full of delivery failure notices.

So here's the ad body:

scam body )

The bits in square brackets are where the script which sends these things out picks from a list of options to "personalise" the emails. Essentially, one of those options is chosen for each version of the mail at random (where there's only one option, the text itself is optional), in order to bypass spam filters on the servers they're hijacking to get their "message" out (the spam filters are looking for large amounts of similar text; the programs which generate these emails are evolving in lock-step with the filtering programs. If you're ever looking for a good locus for emergent AI, consider the possibilities of email filtering and spam blocking software, and the stuff designed to get around it!).

Now, the email address to check for "more details" varies with each of the letters - here's a list of the selection I have, if you're wanting to know what to beware of:

List below fold )

The Subject lines also vary. Again, here are the ones I have available from the sample of delivery failure notices.

List below fold )

(Incidentally - this is why keeping track of the subject lines and body text of these emails is a bit of a waste of time. The body text is boilerplate, the subject line is randomised.)

On to the scam flags flying:

1) They're offering too much. For full-time work, they're offering "up to" $5900AUD per month, which is $295 per day, or $36.88 per hour, plus bonuses, for largely unskilled admin work. Note the "up to" there - that's the theoretical maximum you could earn in a month. The actual amount you'll be paid is probably much lower, if, indeed,you're likely to be paid at all, rather than having your accounts hoovered out.

2) A lot of the details essential to a standard job ad are missing or skimped. There's no mention of who the company is in quite a lot of the ads (because it doesn't exist), there's no listing of what kinds of skills and experience they're looking for (because the main skill or quality they're after is gullibility). The contact address is a hotmail throw-away account with no reference to the name of the company either (which is a rather severe mismatch to the story of a company which is big enough to be trading with clients in the USA, Europe and Asia, especially given the comparatively low cost of domain names and domain hosting).

3) The economy world-wide is largely contracting. You can hear the economic gloom and doom forecasts any time you turn on the TV or radio, or any time you look at a news article online or in a newspaper. In that kind of economic environment, employment becomes harder to get - there is a surplus of people looking for work, and a deficit of available employment for them to participate in. In such an economy, there is no need for a legitimate employer to reach out to random people on the internet if they're seeking employees. Indeed, most job ads I'm looking at these days say they're only going to be contacting the successful candidates for interviews, due to the sheer volume of replies.

4) Googling "LKT Company" brings up at least two scam warnings already. This is always something of a hint. About the only difference between the current "jobs" being offered and the previous scam is that the amount of money has been increased by $100AUD on each level.

5) They hijacked my flippin' email account to send these things out! (I grant you, that one's a bit of a personal thing). Needless to say I've altered my password. But if you EVER receive a job offer purporting to be sent from megpie71 at yahoo dot com dot ay you, it's guaranteed to be a scam. I don't do HR, and if I did do HR, I would be sending things out under a corporate email address, not from my private email.

There isn't a job open, the money doesn't exist, and if they had anything decent to offer they wouldn't need to be hijacking other people's email addresses in order to pass the message on.
megpie71: Avon standing in front of Zen's dome, caption "Confirmed" (confirmed)
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 08:25 am
I have a ... complicated relationship with the music of David Bowie. For one thing, I'm about ten years too young to remember him at his best. I was too young for Ziggy Stardust, and the one song of his that stuck with me from that period was "A Space Oddity", which to be honest, freaked me out (and still does - I mean, it's a song about a man dying in space, it's terrifying!). So the music of his I remember best is the stuff from his "Thin White Duke" period, which was, unfortunately, his period of proving (as so many people did back then) that while cocaine gives you heaps of energy and drive, it doesn't do shit for your creativity. The eighties had a lot of that, unfortunately. The few songs which stick with me from that period ("Ashes to Ashes", "Blue Jean" and "China Girl") all had the same quality of pretty much weirding me out, while I felt the video clips were a bit overly pretentious in their level of theatrics. By the time I was old enough to really be paying attention to Bowie, he'd already passed his prime and moved into "pop music icon" territory, performing duets of cover versions of sixties pop songs with Mick Jagger and so on. So I think I really missed a lot of what he was "about", so to speak.

As I got older, I could admire a lot of what he was doing in his earlier stuff from a more detached, intellectual fashion - he did some interesting things with theatricality and the concepts of theatre, gender, identity, stardom and so on. Indeed, I tend, these days, to regard a lot of his stuff as almost Brechtian - he made people question concepts which had seemed rock-solid, and showed alternative ways of looking at various ideas which hadn't been previously considered. But I wasn't "there", so to speak, and I really didn't have the same sort of connections to his work that a lot of other people did.

I can admire him as a cultural icon - he was the most successful of the "glam" rockers long-term, and his ability to re-invent his public persona was unparalleled. Indeed, his abilty to re-invent his public persona was arguably a major factor in his long-term success - by the time the public was starting to get bored with a particular persona, he'd already done so, and moved on to something else. To me, in a lot of ways, he fits in the same cultural "box" as Spike Milligan - never quite comfortable with the world as it existed, and always seeking to try and find a way of explaining the way he saw it to people who weren't him.

He was fascinating, but I never really "got" him. I'm sad he's died, but the sadness is like the admiration - detatched, impersonal, and if I'm mourning at all, it's for the loss of another cultural icon, rather than for the loss of a person. My sympathies to his family, and may they find peace.
Tags:
megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Sunday, January 10th, 2016 11:34 am
This is me summarising a certain amount of information from looking for work. One of the things I keep track of is whether a company gets back to me to let me know I've been unsuccessful in my application for a job at their firm (which, to me, seems  only polite), or indeed whether I get any acknowledgement of my application at all. So, the following firms are ones I've applied to in the past three months, which got back in touch with me (even if only via a very generic email) to let me know I'd been unsuccessful.
  • WFI / Insurance Australia Group - insurance
  • Choice One recruiters - personnel
  • Diametech Pty Ltd (trading as Autobahn Spearwood) - car parts and servicing
  • Designtec Commercial Furniture - Commercial furniture
  • Chellingworth (Osborne Park Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge) - car sales
  • Fantastic Furniture - home furniture (largely flat-packs)
  • AMP Services Ltd (AMP Capital Investors) - shopping centre administration
  • Beacon Lighting, Myaree - light fittings
  • Roleystone Real Estate - real estate services
  • Practice Insight Pty Ltd - software development
  • Rockingham Psychology - psychological services

All of the above-named firms have been polite enough to advise me I wasn't successful in my application, which I appreciate, since it takes a lot of the fuss and bother out of jobsearch to know one way or t'other. If you have need of any of the services they provide, you could probably do worse than visit these particular companies.

(To all the other employers I applied to and didn't get a job with: even a generic Seek email saying "sorry, not this time" would be enough to let me know. That you can't be bothered to do something as minor as that... well, it doesn't say much about your attitude toward people who aren't directly handing you money right this moment. I'm posting the names of the ones who do in order to encourage good behaviour.)

One of the other things I track is whether I got a receipt of some kind to let me know the resume I sent off has been received. Mostly, I use Seek.com.au, which provides one of these as a matter of course. Occasionally, however, I have to look elsewhere (sometimes there aren't enough recent jobs on Seek) and hope for the best. I prefer to get the little email of acknowledgement, since it lets me know I haven't just dropped my details into an informational black hole. The following firm does not provide them.
  • OpenRecruiting.com.au - recruiting/personnel

Indeed, OpenRecruiting.com.au purports to be a job board, but they won't let you see the jobs they have on offer unless you have signed up with them. I found a couple of jobs with them through jobsearch.gov.au, and applied via their linked online form (and really, the details of the jobs and the employers were minuscule - no employer name, no real details regarding the position etc) and didn't hear a single thing back. If you're looking for work, well, it's up to you, but I'd advise not bothering with them.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Saturday, January 9th, 2016 09:08 am
This one comes via a slightly unusual route, since I actually applied for the thing directly! Here's the basics: the scammer behind this particular mess decided to take out a total of six ads on the Australian Job Search site (jobsearch.gov.au) - six identical ads, each with the following text:

Ad copy below the fold )

That was the entire ad. They were "offering" a total of 24 21 positions as "Accounts Assistant" - 3 each in Helena Valley, East Perth, Rockingham, Bedfordale, Cottesloe, Madora Bay and Mosman Park (an unusual spread of suburbs - see the digression below). Now, the combination of six identical ads each offering three positions with a completely vague description of what the position entailed, and absolutely no description of what skills you'd actually need to be doing the job triggered my "scam" flags even then, but hey, I had to apply for two jobs that day due to government requirements (it was the week between Christmas and New Year - as you might imagine, the job ads were a little thin on the ground) so I decided to send my resume in.

Perth-specific digression )

Yesterday, an email arrived at my job search address, with the following text:

Email text below fold )

Now, the thing which stuck out for me about all of this is that so far, nowhere along the way have they actually mentioned anything about what the job would entail, or what kind of skills you'd require in order to be able to perform it - this is a regular trait of job scams. I decided to do two things - the first was actually look up Moton Group on google, and the second was to look at their job description.

The google search started the scam radar pinging good and hard, because all the listings for Moton Group are in the USA (Colorado and New Jersey being the two locations which showed up on the first page of results), with nothing showing up in Australia. So I took a look at the job description. And immediately started singing "scam, scam, scammity, scam", because here it is in all its glory:

Job description )

So, we have all the classic scam flags flying in this "job description":

1) They're paying too much for what they're asking for. $40 per hour is very good money. It's very good money for a fully-fledged accountant or business professional. For someone who's supposed to be an Accounts Assistant, dealing with the bookkeeping paperwork (as per the original job ad)? It's almost double the accepted hourly rate for an experienced, qualified bookkeeper - which, you'll note, they're not asking for. For someone whose only qualification for the job is completing high school? It's about double the maximum hourly rate you'd expect.
2) Gratuitous errors in grammar and sentence construction. The job description reads as though it were written by someone who has English as about their third language, and neither of the other two were from the same families. It's sloppy and poorly done - and to a large degree this is deliberate. It's intended to make the reader feel they're pulling one over the scammer, make them feel superior, and make them lower their guard.
3) It doesn't describe the duties or the job skills required. If you've read a job ad recently (and I've read a lot of them) you'll find most of them list fairly specific duties (preparing BAS, drawing up invoices and receipts, reception duties, operating switchboard, etc) and they will almost certainly be asking for specific abilities, qualities, skills and qualifications. By contrast, the job details in this "job description" are vaguer than a lot of political promises.

There's also the "Why do we need Accounts Assistants" and "Why do we not us[sic] a direct account?" sections, which are pretty much direct quotes of other versions of this particular scam I've seen elsewhere. If nothing else, those sections of the job description would have set my scam alarms blasting. If an employer is offering a genuine job, they won't feel the need to justify it, or explain why they're doing things in a particular way. I suspect if I decided to chase up on this job further, I'd find myself being asked to "process" payments via my bank account. Or in other words "open your wallet and repeat after me: 'help yourself'", in a less straightforward format. I think not.

Improper use of Australian Coat of Arms )

Further dodginess )

All in all, if you're looking at an "offer" of a "job" from Moton Group, I'd decline. The only job they're offering in all seriousness is "sucker". (It goes without saying that I'm not going to be filling in their application form myself).

EDITED 10 JAN - Correcting the number of positions offered. Seven times three is 21.
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Friday, January 8th, 2016 08:35 am
So in the ongoing saga of things going wrong that require workmen, the latest instalment is that part of the ceiling of our garage came loose and fell in. As in, the plasterboard ceiling and attached cornices basically dropped about 2 feet in one corner, breaking the plasterboard, and pretty much putting the structural integrity of the rest of the ceiling at risk (according to the workman who came around yesterday to have a look at the extent of the problem - he was expecting maybe a 2 inch drop, apparently). This means we're getting more workmen in today, arriving at about 8.30am.

Fortunately, my being up and dressed to deal with them is not going to be a problem, mostly because for the past few days we've had stinking hot humid weather (high thirties, low forties C and humid with it), and last night I doubt it got much below about 30C. There was a bit of rain at about 4.30am here (I know this because I spent a ruddy awful night tossing and turning trying to keep cool and get some sleep and I was awake at the time) but it wasn't much more than the humidity finally reaching the point of "well, bugger" and condensing out of sheer inertia. Big splats of raindrops, but not enough to seriously wet the paving. We spent most of yesterday with the air-conditioner on, and a fair chunk of the day before, and today is currently looking like more of the same, so it looks like our next power bill (due around the beginning of February) is going to be a hefty one.

I wound up getting up at about 5.30am after a night of attempting fitfully to sleep, so I'm well and truly awake by now, and I've just let the nice man from the ceiling repair firm in to start working (at 8am). They're talking about having to come in tomorrow as well, to finish sanding things down. Yay.
megpie71: AC Cloud Strife looking toward camera in Sleeping Forest (WTF)
Sunday, January 3rd, 2016 08:35 am
We were in luck on Thursday, and managed to get hold of a repairman who came out and fixed all the various problems with our machine. Now, said machine is about 15 years old (I know we got it while we were living in Canbrrra, and brought it back with us when we moved back here) so I wasn't surprised that some of the problems turned out to be purely about age and wear.

So, the reason the machine was spraying water all over the floor was the water valve for the drum had a perished diaphragm. One replacement later, and I have a laundry floor which stays dry (although it still needs cleaning). The reason the drum wasn't turning was that the brushes on the motor which turned it had worn down to about 1/3 their original length. Replaced them, and the motor works fine. The other thing he fixed was the dodgy powder dispenser drawer, which had stopped working months ago. Turns out that one was because we'd inadvertently left one of the transit spacers for the machine (which are supposed to stop the drum from moving about too much while it's in transit for moves) in place after the last move, and that had been banging up against the edge of the tray, and snapped off a crucial little plastic dooverlacky that triggered the machine to recognise the powder drawer was shut or some such. So he replaced that with a bit of putty, and after we waited about 24 hours for it to cure properly (or in other words, no washing on Friday, what a pity, oh my) the whole thing appears to be working just fine.

So we're in a position to get another few years of use out of our fifteen year old machine, and we'll use that to save up a bit more money toward the cost of a new one.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (thunk)
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 08:31 am
My partner wound up with an unexpected windfall. He spoke about it too often where our appliances could hear him. The washing machine has now sprung a leak somewhere in its innards.

Which I wouldn't mind so much, except there's two and a half loads of washing left to go, and neither of them are large enough that I'd be willing to trust them to a laundromat machine. I can't call my mother and ask to use her machine, because hers just sprang a leak earlier this week, while I suspect my partner would have Views about me asking his mother whether it would be okay for us to run them through her machine (of the "oh gods, anything but that" variety).

Either way, the earliest we're going to be able to get the wretched thing repaired is some time next year...

(I told him he was talking about that windfall too loudly and too often!).
megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)
Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 04:49 pm
What happened in the Clementine Ford case was this: a bloke said something abusive about her on the internet, in such a way that it could be linked back to his employer. Namely, he had his employer details on his Facebook profile[1], and Ms Ford brought his online behaviour to his employer's attention. He got sacked as a result of his actions, because his employers didn't want to deal with the negative publicity involved.

Or in other words, this bloke did the online equivalent of yelling abuse at her on public transport while wearing his workplace uniform, getting snapped while doing so, and reported to his employers.

Now, we'd all agree that if someone did something like the second example above, should they get sacked, it was their own silly fault, and they should have behaved civilly in a public setting. We'd agree if a guy yelled abuse at a woman in a public hotel, or a shopping mall while wearing anything with their employer's logo (such as a uniform shirt or similar), the woman they yelled at would be within her rights to report it to their employer, and the employer would be within their rights to sack the damn fool for being too daft to work there any more. We'd agree that if a guy launched into a tirade of abuse at a woman for talking to her friends in the pub, he'd be due at the very least to be barred from being served any more alcohol, and more likely, kicked out by the management.

We readily agree that unprovoked personal abuse in a public context is unacceptable when it's in a face-to-face context, and that if someone does it while being able to be clearly linked to an employer, a professional organisation, a particular religion, or family or so on, then they should bear the social consequences of their actions being reported to those groups. We agree that doing such things while being able to be linked to employers, professional organisations, religions, disapproving family members or similar is something which is likely to fall under the parameters of the Being Bloody Stupid Act[2] - not only do you wear the consequences, but it's expected you're going to wear them politely, suck it up and bloody well deal!

Yet somehow, the apparent expectation is that this bloke (and the many others who do similar things, such as sending abusive and/or harassing emails from their work email accounts), who has done something Bloody Stupid (and Bloody Rude, while we're at it) should be allowed to not only get away with his actions, but that it's positively unfair of Ms Ford to have pointed them out to his employer. That this was somehow an over-reaction, and a vindictive act. That he should not have been forced to deal with the consequences of his behaviour (a behaviour he chose to carry out of his own free will, and which he wasn't, to the best of anyone's knowledge, coerced into by any other person) in an adult fashion.

To be honest, I'm with Ms Ford on this. He brought his problems on himself, and my sympathy is strictly limited.

(PS: Guys, women across the world have already learned this: on the internet, you have precisely as much privacy and anonymity as you can be bothered to carve out. If you can't be arsed to keep your online life strictly segregated from your offline life, then the only damn solution is to ensure your online behaviour is either beyond reproach, or something you would feel positive about defending to your employers, your spouse, your mates, your girlfriend, your mother, your grandmother, your kids, your work colleagues, and anyone else in your offline life who asks about it. Because otherwise, sure as eggs are eggs, your online sins will find you out, eventually).


[1] Strangely enough, not many women feel it's appropriate to have such details publicly available online. The main reason why not starts with "bl" and rhymes with "folks".
[2] Ankh-Morpork legal code.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Monday, October 12th, 2015 11:58 am
In the interests of my continuing mental health, I've had to banish a few words and phrases from my vocabulary. One of them is "should".

"Should" is a word which has disappointment built-in from the start. It's a word used to talk about ideal situations, ideal results, ideal worlds. As such, to someone like me with an anxiety disorder, it's essentially poison for the psyche. Because, you see, one of the things at the core of any anxiety disorder is this: we want the world to be perfect. Perfection implies control.

So to someone with an anxiety disorder (and this also includes the vast majority of people with depression, since the two conditions tend to be co-morbid to an astounding degree) a "should" is not a vague ideal to be used as a general directional indicator. Instead, it is a definite goal, which needs to be achieved (in order that the world be perfect). So phrases like "you should know better" or "you should be able to do better than that" or "I shouldn't need to tell you" and so on aren't just expressions of regret for one single instance - they are clear indicators that we have failed on a comprehensive level to achieve the goals set for us[1]. The world is imperfect and it's All Our Fault.

As you can guess, that kind of feeling doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels.

Then there's the other kind of "should" - the ones we tell ourselves, the ones which come with the invisible tag of "but I won't". "I should stay on this diet... but I won't". "I should Clean All The Things... but I won't". "I should do this disagreeable task... but I'm not gonna!". Again, not only is the world imperfect, and not only is this All Our Fault, but we're also unable to even rely on ourselves to do things. How hopeless are we?

(Something else which doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels).

However, banishing "should" (and its close cousin, "ought to") from your mental vocabulary is a hard thing to do at times. For a start, there's all the externally imposed "shoulds" - the expectations of parents, partners, friends, children, teachers, employers, co-workers, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers and so on. ("You should buy $PRODUCTNAME!") Plus there's all the internal ones, yelled at us by our jerk!brains on constant loop - including the ones which come up as part of the memory tapes bringing up old humiliations to dance on the stage of the Grand Olde Embarrassing Recollection to remind us of what we "should" and "shouldn't" be doing, or have done.

What's the solution to all of this? Well, the one which worked for me was basically stepping back from what I "should" be doing, and asking myself "what, realistically, can I do?" This one works particularly well for the memory tapes. Asking myself "okay, what am I able to do about this problem/issue, right here, right now?" tends to make the tapes suddenly grind to a glitching halt - because usually the answer is "nothing". I can't fix past mistakes from the present. I can make an effort to alter future behaviour, but other than that? There is literally nothing I can do.

This works well for other people's expectations of you as well. I have a lovely little icon (created by Copperbadge a while ago) which reads "Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles". If other people want you to do something, if they think you "should" be able to do it, ask yourself: "can I do this?" Are you physically, socially, mentally capable of performing the task they're asking? (This includes such things as "do I have the skills needed?", "do I have the available spare capacity?", "do I have the available spare time?" and, of course, "do I actually want to do this?"). If the answer is "yes", then perform the task. If the answer is "no", then tell them so - give reasons if the person asking is a reasonable person (unreasonable people don't deserve reasons for your answers, because unreasonable people can't or won't be reasoned with).

By bringing things back from the ideal world of "should" to the actual world of "can I, am I, do I, is this" you wind up being a lot more realistic about your own capabilities, and a lot less prone to stressing yourself out over things which are outside your own control.


[1] You'll note one of the apparent "goals" being set there is fully functional human telepathy. Nobody said the goals of a "should" were ever either realistic or achievable.
megpie71: AC Reno crouched over on the pavement, looking pained (bad day at work)
Friday, October 9th, 2015 07:30 am
Apparently-From: Alex Brook (stripe@alexandra-krumm-beratung.de)
Subject Line: [Bulk] Personal Assistant Needed (part time job)
Reply-to: alex.brook2@aol.com
Addressed to me: No

Scam body under fold )

This is a scam.

Firstly: "Brook Construction Company" doesn't appear to exist - there's quite a few entries in Google for "Brooks Construction Company" in the USA (all in Indiana, according to the map on Google), and one entry for Brook Construction (no "company") in Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador regions).

Secondly: The role of PA is not usually a "work from home" role - or at least, not "work from your own home". "Work from the boss's home", yeah, sure I can see that happening, but it's more likely to be an in-office role. Which means even if this were legit, and even if this were a genuine offer, you'd need to know where the company is based in order to take on the job. (At the very least, you'd need to know the time zone the company is based in - if this were genuinely a US company, as someone in zone GMT+8, I'd need to be working some very unusual hours indeed in order to hold down the job).

Thirdly: If this were a legitimate job offer, it would be on a legitimate job search website. It would not be sent out as a bulk email to random people on a spam mailing list. As always, in situations where economies have contracted and unemployment is high, the power is on the side of the employer - candidates go looking for them, they don't come looking for you unless you have some VERY specialised skill sets, or unless they know you personally and are aware you'd be a good fit.

Legitimate offers of employment generally come from people who have interviewed you - legitimate employers want to make sure you'd be a good fit in their corporate culture, and for a job such as Personal Assistant, there's the need to ensure you're not going to be a poor fit with that particular boss, too.

Fourthly: For a job opportunity, there's remarkably little information about what you're going to be required to do, and how many hours a week you're going to be required to do it. The weekly salary of $350 translates to $8.75 per hour for a standard 40 hour work week (which is, I think, slightly above US minimum wage, but well below the minimum wage here in Australia). So you'd need to know how many hours per week you're expected to work for that $350.

They also don't ask for any skills, and don't ask you to send in a resume. Why, it's almost as though they aren't interested in your skills at all. Which means there must be something else they're after.

Finally: The email addresses don't match up to the offer. The email address this is apparently from is the domain for a psychologist in Germany (and I suspect she's more than a little annoyed about having her email hijacked by spammers). The reply-to address is an AOL throw-away address. If you're dealing with a company large enough for the CEO to need a personal assistant (and let's be honest - the CEO's personal assistant would be a full-time role, not a part-time one) then you'd also expect to be dealing with a company large enough to handle having its own web presence, internal email, and domain.

Don't respond, don't apply, and don't expect to be seeing that $350 per week, either.

(I find with these sorts of things it helps to think of any monetary amounts as the scammer's minimum goal).
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 04:15 pm
I'm not going to go into huge detail about this one (save to note that so far this year, there have been more mass shootings in the USA than there have been days in the year). Instead, I'm going to concentrate on some things which could be tried to stop these things from happening (or at least slow down the rate of them) without necessarily altering gun laws.

Detail under fold )

Now, none of these three things is going to drastically drop the number of mass shootings immediately. If you want an immediate impact on the number of mass shootings in the USA, then it's going to have to be done through gun control laws, just the same as everywhere else on the planet. But in the medium-to-long term, and particularly if you have the NRA and their paid-up politicians remaining as stubborn as ever on the issue, then these measures will help.

So start speaking to the media firms. Start speaking to your political candidates. Start demanding change.

Ignore the idiots who say "it's too soon" - as I pointed out above, you're currently averaging better than 1 mass shooting per day. How many do there need to be before things change? Ignore the fools who accuse you of "politicising the issue. Shootings like this are essentially about power - which means they're political from the get-go. The choice to do something about preventing them is a political choice, I'll grant you - but so is the choice not to.

It's up to the people of the USA to make it clear they don't want to see this happening. And the best way to start is by denying these little dickweasels who want to exhibit their sense of entitlement, their sense of personal power, the attention that they so desperately crave.
megpie71: 9th Doctor resting head against TARDIS with repeated *thunk* text (Head!Tardis)
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 04:30 pm
The bits of Twitter I follow have been exploding in about twenty-seven different directions regarding "Peeple for People".

This article pretty much sums up what it's all about:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/09/30/everyone-you-know-will-be-able-to-rate-you-on-the-terrifying-yelp-for-people-whether-you-want-them-to-or-not/

"Yelp for People" is pretty much the elevator pitch version of the idea. According to their FAQs, they largely envision it being used by folks to be all positive and caring and nice about people they know (in the same way Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are at present). Which, I think, says it all.

Essentially, this is how it would work - someone wants to 'review' you, and so long as they fulfil the conditions, they can do so. What kinds of conditions? They have to be over twenty-one, and have a Facebook account. They need to know your name, the city you live in, and your phone number (or know a phone number they can say is yours). Then they can create a profile for you, if you don't already have one, and publish 'reviews' of you. If someone posts a negative review of you, that review will get texted to your phone number (or to the phone number Peeple has for you) and the onus is on you to respond to that reviewer within forty-eight hours and see whether you can "change a negative to a positive".

(Those of you who are busy attempting to beat yourselves unconscious by head!desk-ing, I sympathise.)

What possible problems could there be? Well, let's start with the idea that *there are more checks on, and privacy for, the person who is leaving the rating* than there are for *the person who is being rated*. From the way I understand things, if I had an iPhone, a Facebook account which said I was over twenty-one, and a plausible mobile phone number, I could conceivably create a Peeple profile for Santa Claus. (I'd love to see whether one of the "thousands" of beta testers they're bragging of actually does this, by the bye. Bonus points if the profile is created by the Easter Bunny). Let's continue with this: once you have had a profile created for you on Peeple, you can't get it deleted - they're thinking about adding this feature in future. They don't have a privacy policy up as yet (that's coming once they release the app). Once your profile is authenticated, app users are able to see both positive and negative reviews for you, and you have no way of removing that profile.

Even getting off the internet altogether won't protect you from these negative reviews.

(Meanwhile, the people behind the app started the day with a locked Twitter account - which they've since unlocked to a degree; have taken steps toward getting a parody account mocking them on Twitter deleted; and are said to be deleting non-positive comments on their Facebook accounts. Nice for some, clearly.)

The system as it is described at present is wide open to abuse by stalkers, abusers, online hate mobs or just people who are feeling malicious on a particular day. It's all the worst possible social aspects of high school, pulled onto the internet and made international.

You can read their version of the story here:

http://forthepeeple.com/#story
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra says "Heee!" (Hee)
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 08:01 am
As many of you will know, Malcolm Turnbull did the people of Australia (as well as his own ego) a profound service yesterday by successfully challenging Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party. He's now the Prime Minister designate, and the country is still a little giddy with relief (or at least, this particular bit of it is).

Some brief explanation for those who aren't aware how a parliamentary system works. Despite what Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were saying yesterday in their press conferences, the role of Prime Minister is not a "gift" of the Australian people. In fact, constitutionally speaking, the role of Prime Minister is actually a very real "gift" of the Governor-General, in that if you read the strict letter of the constitution the GG gets to choose the inhabitant of the role without reference to any external forces whatsoever[1]. By convention, however, the Governor-General usually gives the role to the parliamentary leader of the political party with the functional majority in the Federal House of Representatives. The Australian people, in fact, have their role in the process cease entirely once they've elected their local members of the House of Representatives.

Tony Abbott may have said he was elected by the Australian people. This was an exaggeration at best, since the only people in Australia who had a direct hand in his election are the voters for the House of Representatives seat of Warringah (in Sydney), many of whom would probably vote in a dead emu should one be stood as a candidate by the Liberal Party, and the members of the Parliamentary Liberal Party during a leadership ballot back in December 2009 (by one vote).

In the vote last night, Malcolm Turnbull won the leadership of the Liberal Party by a comfortable 10 vote margin (54 votes to 44) and should therefore be reasonably safe from predation within his own party. The Nationals will probably fall into line (since their alternative is parliamentary irrelevance) and agree to remain in the Coalition, which means the Liberal/National coalition government retains a functional majority in the House of Representatives, and Malcolm Turnbull becomes the Prime Minister of Australia (and about our fourth one in a two year period... it's been a good time for political journalists).

Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister, and while he still holds the office of Minister for the status of Women (unfortunately) until at least the end of the week - Mr Turnbull has said he's not going to be re-shuffling ministries until the parliamentary week is over - he probably isn't likely to get a major ministry in the new cabinet. He remains the member for Warringah, unless he chooses to resign from that role and precipitate another by-election (or unless the Warringah branch of the Liberals get polling results which indicate the aforementioned dead emu will do better).

Policy-wise, Mr Turnbull has indicated his government is going to be very much "meet the new boss, same as the old boss", which is disappointing, but only to be expected at this stage. However, his presence at the helm rather than Tony Abbott's has immediately boosted the Liberal Party's chances of being re-elected at the next federal election (which is still scheduled for late 2016), particularly if their major rivals, the Australian Labor Party fail to either pull a leadership re-shuffle of their own (the current leader, Bill Shorten, has all the personality and political forcefulness of damp newspaper; he might have won on a platform of "at least I'm not Tony Abbott", but only if he were the only one occupying that particular platform) or come up with some policy points which demonstrate an appreciable difference from the Coalition. Given the chances of a leadership re-shuffle in the ALP are currently minimal (the last-PM-but-one, Kevin Rudd, put some nice little traps in place to make re-shuffling the ALP leadership a lot harder than it used to be) it's looking at this point like we can expect to see the Liberals re-elected at the 2016 elections (and certainly we're more likely to see a comfortable win for the Liberals in this weekend's by-election in the seat of Canning).


[1] This has been tried precisely once in the history of Australia as a nation. Google "Whitlam dismissal" for an explanation of what happened.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 07:23 am
TW: unemployment, suicidal thoughts, mental illness

So, Himself got the sack on Monday for being off sick too often (about four weeks over the course of about ten months), but more realistically he got the sack because his boss didn't want to keep employing another technical person now the boss's honeymoon is over. We are now back to the Centrelink/Job Nyetwork "Dance of the Deserving Poor", which is a variation on the Masochism Tango where you scourge yourself for the entertainment of public servants who aren't interested in watching.

I am, quite predictably, not reacting to this well. As in, I'm melting down all over the place. Have an appointment with my doctor today to get a medical certificate for the depression (which is flaring up to the point where I've spent most of the past two days defaulting to thinking very positive thoughts about going out and playing in the traffic) and I'll be hoping to be able to head back to the last Employment Services Provider I was seeing, since I got accustomed to their particular brand of useless and I figure they'd be able to dig the file out of storage.

I'd be happier, I think, if they'd just acknowledge it is literally less likely for me to get a job than it is for me to win Lotto (1 in 85 chance of winning something in lotto, if you buy a ticket; by contrast, I applied for over 100 jobs during the course of 2014 without so much as a preliminary interview resulting) and that the only reason I'm sending out the applications in the first place is because Centrelink demands it. Your tax dollars at work, making work for HR types and recruiting agencies.

I'm going to try and keep these whiny posts to a minimum, because I know people aren't really all that interested.
megpie71: Tips of coloured pencils behind text: "Fandom: we colour outside the lines" (colour outside the lines)
Thursday, August 13th, 2015 07:19 pm
I wrote this a while ago, but haven't posted it before now.

A Possible History for the MCU Obadiah Stane

All feedback greatly appreciated. It's meta-fic - a sort of fictional possible history of how things happened and what could have led to various events and why.
megpie71: Simplified bishie Rufus Shinra glares and says "The Look says it all" (glare)
Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 08:28 am
Okay, this is a scam along the same lines as good old Global Area Gargo. It comes in a couple of different variants, so I've included both the ones I've received here.

Scam body 1 under fold )

Scam body 2 under fold )

Copy 1 -
Apparently from: Lionel Davidson (beauty_stupid_asuka@ybb.ne.jp)
Subject: [Bulk] ´╗┐Job offer - (99939366930)
Reply-To: Lionel Davidson (koritovborys@gmail.com)
Addressed to me: No

Copy 2 -
Apparently from: Driscoll Hammond (cveti72@m-real.net)
Subject: ´╗┐Current Open Position - (89469503769)
Reply-To: Driscoll Hammond (muloyanvlad@gmail.com)
Addressed to me: No (but addressed to the same address as copy 3)

Copy 3 -
Apparently from: Autumn Price (ngxhf205@ybb.ne.jp)
Subject: [Bulk] Fresh job / (083201609023)
Reply-To: Autumn Price (burodevtaras@gmail.com)
Addressed to me: No (but addressed to the same address as copy 2)

So, what are the scam flags?

1) Contact out of the blue with what looks to be a job ad. As always, remember in an economy where the rate of unemployment is higher than 0%, an employer doesn't have to go looking for new staff in this manner. Posting an ad on a job board will usually net them more than enough candidates to be going on with. Here in Australia, the unemployment rate is up over 6%, and has been for most of the past three years.

2) Getting three of these in the one batch of email is a pretty big hint there's something up - someone wants a bite, and they're willing to try and stun people into submission in order to get it.

3) For a job ad, these are somewhat lacking in details - no list of what they're looking for, no list of duties, no details about the rate of pay they're offering, no information about anything.

4) A quick google search indicates the company apparently doesn't exist. There's a "Loyal cargo & Export" based in South Africa, but "Loyal Partner Cargo Service" doesn't show up anywhere.

5) Gmail throwaway reply-to addresses are always a big hint. Registering a company domain doesn't cost much; neither does getting it hosted somewhere. It looks a lot more professional than a throw-away gmail address.

As always - don't respond, and if you must, don't send them any money.
megpie71: Tips of coloured pencils behind text: "Fandom: we colour outside the lines" (colour outside the lines)
Thursday, August 6th, 2015 08:25 pm
So I was digging through my WIP files, and discovered this one sitting in there, all complete and ready to post.

Nesa Conway's Notes for New Staff.

Set in the Final Fantasy VII world, roughly at the time of Crisis Core. Part of my Nesa-verse. Because every workplace has its little quirks and oddities, and sometimes it helps to have these written down.