Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Greedy and stupid...

Greedy and stupid... not a good combination.

The irony is that I had just finished doing a version of Struan's Bebo lesson with my daughters when I nearly did something very stupid myself. One of the girls had been invited to join Bebo by a friend, so I thought it was time to talk about the issues with them. I fired up Bebo, and there on the opening page was a picture of a boy from their school. A quick trip to 192 meant I was able to show them what was probably his address and some stuff about the person that was probably his dad. Then back to Bebo to have a look at the people he listed as friends... Very quickly they started telling me why what he had done was stupid. Job done I thought and I decided I'd earned myself a bit of fun.

Darth Tater's iPod
Darth Tater's iPod,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
I have mentioned my favourite Christmas presents here before. {Hint: Look at the picture!} Mostly I have been ripping my CD collection to the iPod but recently, on the recommendation of the Gadget Show, I subscribed to Wippit and joined the download revolution. I worried that I'd miss the CD packaging and iTunes et al were not cheap enough to convince me to go without the booklets etc. However, although Wippit doesn't have a huge selection, I got more than my money's worth within the first week, so I was learning to live in a world without CDs.

Why then is this post called "Greedy and stupid?" and where is the "irony"? Well, just after warning the girls about Bebo I decided to check out an MP3 download site I'd come across. I can't remember where I saw it, but I think it was a banner ad on another website I use. The prices were stunningly good - 10 cents per track and 99 cents per album! A quick look about at the selection revealed a ton of albums I'd have been happy to download at ten times that price. "Brilliant!", I thought... that was the greedy bit.

What about stupid? Well, I was sold. I registered on the site, using a "spare" email address that I keep for that purpose (one I can get rid of if the spam gets out of hand). Then I decided what albums I'd buy first and got out my credit card. I discovered at this stage that you couldn't just buy one album. What you had to do was send a bundle of money which you could then use as credit for future purchases. It seemed like a lot of money to send without trying it out first, but I noticed the amount box was a drop down menu. I wondered if you could send less. But no, the drop-down box revealed the equivalent amount of money in Rubles. Rubles? Yes, Rubles - it was a Russian site!

I'm ashamed to say that it was only at this point that I stopped to think more carefully about what I was about to do. I was about to send my credit card details to a Russian site that I knew nothing about. Stupid! The irony was of course that having just warned my daughters about the dangers of the Internet, I was on the edge of doing something dangerous and stupid myself.

A quick check of the site on Google was interesting. There seems to be a division of opinion on whether the site is legal or not. Some argue that since what they are doing is legal in Russia, there isn't a problem. However, it seems to me that if a company in the UK tried to do what they were doing, it would definitely be illegal. So it may or may not be legal to buy from this Russian website, but I think that whatever the legal position is, it doesn't feel moral.

Opinion also seems divided as to whether it is safe to give them your credit card details. Some say yes, some say no. Either way I didn't care since I'd already decided to walk away from the site.

So, the next time I get on my high horse and start a rant about teenagers not thinking about the consequences of what they do online, I hope I remember my brush with the Russian MP3 provider and try to be a bit more sympathetic.

Oh well, back to Wippit!

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Colin helps with the painting
Colin helps with the painting,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
The marking is finished and handed in to the office (phew!) and the kitchen is painted... almost! The ceiling isn't light enough so it will need re-done. ...And one of spring clips holding the recessed light in place sprung out and disappeared somewhere so I will either have to cludge something together or look for a replacement light. ...And I've still to finish the cornice. But apart from that, it's done. :-)

Now I should be able to get on with other work and maybe even some blogging.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Time to think

Drip edge
Drip edge,
originally uploaded by Mikey720.
I'm still on holiday, so I suspect it will be next week before I get around to a more on topic post.

What I should have been doing while on holiday is marking. What I've mostly been doing is painting, so here are some paining related stories...

First of all I painted a sort of porch bit at our front door. There I was, up a ladder, listening to my iPod when my wife the English teacher and daughter number 2 arrived home from the shops. I took one earphone out to hear what they were saying. When I went to plug it back in my ear, I discovered I had dropped it straight into the tin of black exterior gloss I was holding. Scunner! What is it with me and earphones? (Read this post and see the Darth Tater photo for the full story of what happened to myfirst set of earphones.) I managed to clean up the earphone with white spirit, but the foamy bit that goes in your ear was wrecked. Thankfully Koss give you a couple of spares with the earphones, so I was able to plug myself back in without any further financial outlay!

I have now moved inside and I am painting in the kitchen. While I work inside I generally listen to the radio, but just for a wee change I decided to listen to the director's commentary on a couple of DVDs that I've not heard yet. My wife the English teacher will suffer watching endless Star Trek films with me, but draws the line at watching them with the commentary on! So there I was, painting away and listening to the Nicholas Meyer talking about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and thinking that he seemed to be a bit of a numpty (allegedly - just in case Mr Meyer's lawyers are reading) when he talked about needing time to be creative. He said that the money people in the film industry didn't always seem to appreciate this. He said something along the lines of needing to spend time in the bath, staring at your toes, because that's where the real work is done. Brilliant!

Am I working while writing and reading blogs? Am I doing educational stuff while paint the kitchen? Sometimes I'm just staring at my toes, but sometimes I'm doing real work.

Whatever else I'm doing, I have to stop now and get back to painting the kitchen!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A new addition

Colin and Blue
Colin and Blue,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
We have a new puppy! After much "discussion" we decided to call him Colin. Blue loves other dogs, but having one invade his home is a new experience for him. They don't look overjoyed to be together in this photo, but in general they seem to enjoy each others company.