Finally settled on a new layout

My rekindled love for blogging has also meant i’ve been spending time tinkering with my blog layout and the colour scheme trying to get it just how I want it.

For the last few weeks I was rocking an awesome theme, to be fair it was the best one i’ve ever had, proper ticked all the boxes…. apart from the fact once I started delving in and altering a few things I realised the guy who made it was a moron and had obviously coded most of the template files with his knees.

The structure of everything was a mess. I was very sad :'(

So, I started the hunt for a new WordPress Theme (you’d have thought i’d have one of the ninjas at work make me one haha) and it reminded me about how hard it was to find simple blogging themes nowadays that focus on the written content rather than huge header images and image slideshows and junk.

…Is that because no one writes old fashioned blogs any more?

I get that a picture is worth a thousand words but I often visit blogs and they’re using premium themes that are built to focus on large imagery that accompany the published articles, and the authors simply use some crappy stock image because if they don’t they break the layout of the page.

So is there really any point in having that as a main feature of the theme?

We did some work for a lady recently who was a travel blogger, and because of what she blogged about she needed large images to be part of her articles else the images of the places she visited wouldn’t get across to her readers – however not everyone blogs about “visual” things so there really should be more choice of themes out there for the rest of us! :)

Anyway, after 20 minutes or so I saw this theme, liked that it was fairly bare-bones and installed it. All credit to Per Sandström for making a great theme that is easily customisable and is made for bloggers!

Hurray for simplicity!

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SCAM – Data File Google Winning Batch: UK/111/GWIN/GUK

Dave spotted this in our spam box from anagalski@iimcb.gov.pl with a reply to address as owenhookson09@gmail.com – as if “the CEO of Google” would have an email address like that!

“You have Been Selected as a Winner for Using Google Services. Find attached E-mail with more details.
Congratulations,

Sincerely.
Mr. Owen Hookson.
CEO GOOGLE UK.”

And its another attachment jobbo – look at this beaut;

1

2

Here is the original file

Its of course – a Scam – stay away folks and if you see anything like this in your inbox forward it me so I can have a giggle :)

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Website owners beware – terrorist attacks on your websites too

Its hard to ignore the current disputes between ISIS and the rest of the world. Every news program and social feed contains links to videos and articles about this horrible ordeal, and it looks like its now also spread to the digital world.

I was messaged by a customer who said that their website had been hacked. When I visited the website I was greeted by the message;

Hacked BY MuhmadEmad ./we are peshmarga

MuhmadEmad seems to just be the persons name, but peshmarga (peshmerga) is a term used by Kurds to refer to “Armed Kurdish Fighters” which – as far as I can work out – should be people on our side, so im really confused as to why they would hack a little wordpress website that has nothing to do with this conflict.

I’m still looking into exactly what happened but it seems to have been a Gravity Forms exploit of some description – some files within uploads/gravity_forms/tmp were VERY dodgy so they’ve been downloaded for closer inspection and removed from the site.

Ive also updated all the plugins, themes and the wordpress core. Passwords for all wordpress user accounts, FTP and MySQL users changed too.

If you’re having trouble with a hacked website then contact me through twitter or something and ill help as best I can.

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Disturbing thoughts about 9/11

Im sure by now we’ve all heard at least one conspiracy theory surrounding 9/11 and what actually happened on that day – even theories about why it actually happened – but until recently i’ve never really thought much into any of them as they are after all, just theories. However thanks to some research a couple of friends and I have been looking into I actually took a step back for once, and embraced one of those theories as truth – and I instantly felt sick to my stomach…

Almost immediately after the event happened on September 11th 2001 people starting claiming it was a setup, or it was a controlled explosion etc and the general background story associated with all these theories was that it was linked to some kind of insurance claim or something – but it all sounded so ridiculous and personally I lost interest in them. I accepted that it was “terrorists” and they did it because they were crazy religion-orientated bastards.

Zooming to the present day and as I mentioned earlier me and some friends have been obsessed by a number of theories that basically turn most of what we all know and believe on its head. Watch the Zeitgeist movie as that does a better job of explaining it all than I ever could.

One of these theories suggests that 9/11 was simply an exercise to get the US people (and the rest of the world) to back a war in Afghanistan so that (in short) someone at the top of the ladder could get to the oil and other resources in Afghanistan and make a sh!t load of money.

Again – watch the Zeitgeist movie first before you start calling me a complete nutjob.

The reason this theory made me feel physically sick is the fact that this would mean the people that died in those planes, the buildings and then in the rescue attempts afterwards did not die as a result of a terrorist attack, they weren’t killed so someone could directly claim off their insurance (this would also be gross tbf) it meant that all those people were murdered by someone – probably arranged over email – who used their deaths as leverage in a business deal.

The idea that it might not have been terrorists is actually more sickening than what we’ve been lead to believe is the truth.

Whether it is true or not I guess we’ll never really know, and I don’t know if I believe it was all controlled explosions rather than planes being flown into the towers, but the actual reasons behind why it actually happened are something that has left me feeling intrigued and disturbed in equal measures.

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Hacking the Verismo from Starbucks

I’ve been wanting a home pod coffee machine for a while now, but everyone you speak to has a different opinion on which is better, and to be honest its all based on whichever one they’ve owned so ive taken most reviews with a pinch of salt.

I had been eyeing up the Tassimo machines as they had Costa coffees and lots of hot chocolate flavours but they were very bulky and for anything that looked half decent you bloody paid for it! Then i kind of lost a bit of steam for the whole thing as I looked into it all more and more and there were lots more machines coming on to the market – it got swamped and I got bored!

A few months later we were visiting a customer of ours who specialise in domestic appliances and noticed they had started selling the Verismo from Starbucks, a Pod coffee machine licensed by K-FEE and that boasted lots of different types of coffees which all looked great! We walked out with 3 machines – each with 90 delicious pods to use!

$_12One of the Verismo machines took a spot in my kitchen at home and we very quickly used the initial 90 drinks we got with it so i started shopping around for more pods for it and found myself on eBay and was presented with some very interesting finds.

I found some “Espresto” pods for sale, they are made by the same company behind the Verismo machine – K-FEE and from the encouraging description on the eBay listing it seemed like these pods may fit my machine and I may have just found a way of stocking it without breaking the bank!

The pods arrived, I held one next to a Starbucks one – and guess what? They are identical! This means that things like milk pods can be sourced cheaper, and also you can get hot chocolate pods which are something Starbucks dont offer for the Verismo system – they taste great too!

I instantly ordered loads of milk and chocolate and even one of their coffees to try and its all good quality stuff – the range of pods available to me had opened up!

On one of the listings for the Espresto pods it also mentioned “PodPronto” which turns out to be a machine sold by Tesco and – again – licenced by K-FEE – so low and behold, the pods from that fit too!

Tesco_Podpronto_Latte_Coffee_Pods_157.6G_8_Serving__76528_stdSo now, not only can i buy cheaper milk and coffee pods on eBay i can also walk down to my local Tesco and buy their pods – even cheaper!

I’m investigating if any other machines have pods we can use, and i’ll keep this post updated – im sure they make other machines for other people so shouldn’t be hard to track down.

[UPDATE] I have been informed that Tesco are discontinuing their PodPronto machine  – so get all the pods from your local store before its too late!

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Chill the hell out about “Your Data”

Every single day I hear a news report about how some new app is stealin your interwebz or how some new “thing” poses a danger to information stored about you on the web, and within offline systems like the NHS.

This morning on the radio they were talking about a new scheme that the NHS are starting to roll out that allows the data from GP’s (your data! :P) to be used to improve healthcare and help improve medical research.

Its worth noting at this point that your personal identity information IS NOT part of this data – only anonymous info about your medical history that is presented to them without being tied to you or any person.

The radio presenter interviewed a few people who said that due to their “unusual” medical history, anyone looking at their data would be able to identify them without the need for it to have their name or anything next to it.

I’m genuinely amazed people put up a fight with stuff like this. Why wouldn’t you want the info from your doctors being shared with the hospital? And shared with researchers that might be able to tell you you are going to get cancer at a certain age as they’ve been able to build amazing algorithms that analyze your family medical history, spot trends and report things before they happen?

Its being able to harvest, analyse and utilise “data” that has brought us into the amazing technological age that we live in today. Google can assist you in your day-to-day life just because of the data you give them when you use their services. They’re not spying on you for sh!ts and grins, they are trying to make your experience of using their services mind blowing so you tell your friends and keep using them!

It may just be me, but when I search Google on my laptop for a company that i’m going to visit – then get my phone out and Google Now has already loaded a tile up so that with one click, I can load navigation to the place I just searched for – my mind is blown every time. This is an example of Google “spying on you” and as you can see, its not scary at all :)

Don’t get me wrong, there are bad guys out there that do want to trick you but if you stick to well known apps and websites and ensure you have virus protection and scan for malware on your PC – and only install apps on your phone from the Google Play store you should be OK.

The next time you hear a news story about some big company stealing info, texting adverts to your mates behind your back or recording your private conversations without you even realising (Facebook messenger!) get in touch with someone who is in the know before you start ditching amazing services and products from awesome companies.

PS Facebook Messenger is fine too – stop being dingbats!

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2014 Yahoo! Email Lottery SCAM

Wow. I find the constant “evolving” methods used by scammers to extract money out people a continued source of major LOLs.

The most recent Style of 419/email scam i’ve encountered is this beauty, from mr.swart.johan@outlook.com (nice to see Microsoft are still providing these knobheads with email addresses to use, first Hotmail and now Outlook.com – when will you clamp down, MS?)

Anyway, it appeared like this – all official and sh!t;

Email Lottery Scam

And the attachment was quite clearly a word document (no threat on its own) so i opened it;

wow_yahoo_lottery

It definitely looks  authentic, don’t you think? :P

Its a sad state of affairs when such a badly designed POS like this can actually scam money out of people – but the fact is it WILL!

If you get anything through on your email like this, first remember

“If its too good to be true THEN IT PROBABLY IS”

Secondly, remember branding guidelines – no multi million/billion dollar empire would allow their main logo to be SQUASHED like at the top of this document! Also Yahoo’s logo changed from that about a year ago!

I know all these things because I’m in this industry, i keep up to date with changing branding and stuff as its an interest of mine, and also i have a tiny degree of common sense that looks at something like this and, without question, files it under B.

If you are unsure or would like something looking into then please contact me either through here or through work and the team and I will happily advise and assist you in being able to spot these scam and how to officially report them.

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Struggling to decide on direction

My head is literally bursting with opinions and conversations that I feel I need to unload somewhere and I figured it would help me to write some of them down on my faithful blog, but when I start to write I just go on and on and on and on and before long I realise what I’m writing no longer reflects the initial subject I was writing about – and I just save it as a draft and forget about it.

I just read two of them now and they both end up sounding like the beginnings of some new age scripture written by some crazed anti-society nut.

Maybe that’s what I am. Hah.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to pull bits of them together pretty soon, I probably won’t include so much of the crazy stuff, maybe I’ll post them in the future when my opinions don’t get me into trouble as much.

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Internet killed the [everything] star

I often hear people talking about how “the internet has killed the high street” and to be honest, i’m getting really sick of it!

The internet didn’t kill the highstreet – they did that all by themselves!

In actual fact the high street could massively benefit from the internet if the town centre businesses started using it more to their advantage! Take Argos for example – they could have quite easily given up when the internet started picking up pace – as no one wanted their catalogs any more! But no, instead, they modified their business model and embraced the internet – now their “Click and Collect” model is being copied by Tesco, Asda and everyone else in-between.

The internet has also made things like fashion, and the ever changing face of it, more accessible to the world. People know what their favorite celeb is wearing as they see it on twitter, and if the high street stores could react as quick as online stores do – they could still be in with a chance of getting the sale. People still like to try clothes on after all!

The main issues as i see them are as follows

  • Not enough help from the councils and governments – give people free shops for 3/6/9 months and see if they can make it work. They’re all sat empty, so why not?
  • Business overheads – someone who employs 10 people cant compete with someone who sells from their bedroom – not a lot can be done to fix this apart from the bricks and mortar retailers making their offering better!
  • Being idiots – Making silly choices, bad advertising decisions and generally being crap at running a business. I have friends in business and they all do well – its because my friends are not idiots.

Financially, the economy is on the rise and things are starting to look peachy again – if you have a business idea, if you want to open a shop selling something and its burning a hole in your head – then just go for it!

What are you waiting for? :)

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