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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Struan said...

How easy it to find ourself being caught out. Tonight I was writing a some stuff about online security and decided to check and see what I had said about myself on Friends Reunited. Needless to say I have now taken much of it off, and was indeed wondering about if were possible to remove my account completley! Just a shame that cleaning our google trail isnt as easy. Sobering to thnk that once a mistake is made it is very hard to fix it.

David said...

So much for, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog! :-)

Julie said...

It is really amazing how easy it is to get sucked into the cons that are on the internet. The internet can be really usful for things such as downloading etc. etc. the only problem is the hastle that comes with it if it all goes wrong. At least you can say you've learnt from your mistake!!

David said...

It is especially easy to get "sucked in" when you are greedy and stupid! :-)