Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Few Short Words About That Referendum

We started work on series 4 of Modern Life Is Goodish this week.

Obviously, I didn't wait until Monday morning to give it any thought - I started a new run of Screen Guild gigs last month (and the next one is this Friday) so obviously I've been mulling over new ideas for a wee while now... but collectively, Team Goodish - or at least a few key players - gathered together on Monday morning for the first time this series. We have our office back. There are deadlines.

All we have to do now is remember how we do it. We will. I'm sure we will.

Of course one topic of conversation inevitably came up. The referendum. It's been impossible to avoid these last few weeks and - since we hadn't seen one another for some time, everyone was keen to discuss it. It is, after all, a vote that will shape all of our lives one way or another. At least for a year or two when we'll get another chance to vote for our favourite new soap star at the TV Choice Awards 2017. But for now, the 2016 vote shapes our lives.

Is mentioning it crass? Or is pretending I don't know about it weird? I don't know. But if you want to vote, it's all here.

I'll have details on some recording dates for series 4 soon... in the mean time, the second of three compilation episodes goes out tonight. At 10. On Dave.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Phishing, Smishing.

I received this text a little while ago. I've been receiving texts like it once every two or three weeks for a wee while now.

I know it's a scam. It's been well documented that this sort of thing is doing the rounds... but what doesn't seem to be so well documented is what I'm supposed to do with it.

For those that don't know, this is what's known as a phishing scam. Or, seeing as it's sent via SMS message, a smishing scam. In any case, the key fact is that it's basically an attempt to commit fraud.

When someone falls for it they click on the link contained in the text... which takes them to a website that looks exactly like a corporate,  Apple website.

It's a very convincing clone... and if you'd clicked on the link believing the message to be genuine, there isn't really any reason to suspect that it's not legit when you land here.

So I imagine plenty of people end up surrendering their Apple ID and password to the crooks responsible.

In some cases that would give them the ability to spend your money.

I used to see what I could see about who had registered the domain and when. This is what I found...

As you can see, it was registered via on  May 14th 2016. That's today.

Using a site with a dot BS domain seems rather fitting, although it turns out that the BS actually stands for the Bahamas.

It claims it was registered by someone called Peter Dawson although I'd be highly surprised if they were foolish enough to use their real name.

I don't really know, but from the outside looking in, I reckon it's fairly likely that a Peter Dawson has paid for it... it's just he's someone who'd fallen for the scam previously and is, as yet, unaware that his account has been compromised...

If the text had come from a number I'd know how to report it.

But it doesn't. It comes from an account called 'WARNING'. It's impossible for me to reply to. Or to block. Or, it seems, to report. Apparently the only course of action available to me is to delete it.

Which doesn't seem very satisfactory to me. It's not very community minded, for sure.

If someone tried - but failed - to mug me in the street, I can't imagine many people advising me to just ignore it. Because surely they're the sort of person who'll move on and try and mug someone else. Surely we should report attempted crimes, not just successful ones.

But that doesn't seem to be possible when someone tries to mug me via my phone. Ignoring it and deleting the text is, I'm told, the only thing to do. I don't even have a way of preventing those responsible from sending me more of the same. It's only if I fall for it that people will do something.

When I get spam emails I know how to block them. Or how to block emails that are like them. I know that, even if an email is lying about where it came from, someone, somewhere is able to follow the chain and work out where it really came from. I assumed the same would be true with text messages.

It seems not. It seems it is possible for someone to send thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of texts to people without anyone being able to unravel where they originate from. Is there a good reason for this route to my phone to exist? Is there a sensible way of shutting this path down? Are there buttons I could press that would mean I could only receive text messages from identifiable sources? If there isn't... um... why isn't there? I guess there might be a reason. Is it achievable? Wouldn't less people end up getting defrauded if it were?

I know a handful of vulnerable people who would absolutely fall for this. Certainly I know one person who's fallen for a similar scam that arrived via email. It just seems a little odd to me that the phone companies provide this route to us - but don't have departments devoted to preventing this sort of abuse of the system.

Have I been given bad information or is there genuinely nothing for the community minded soul to do about this?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Goodish Hits 1

I blogged a wee while ago about starting the new season of Screen Guild shows and telly warm ups... which is a sign that work on series 4 of Modern Life Is Goodish is about to begin in earnest.

Series 1, 2 and 3 all started in the autumn and I expect the same to happen with series 4 - although it might be a little later than normal as we're starting work on the shows later in the year on account of me wanting to have some proper Dad-time with the Gorbaby.

But, in the meantime, the nice people at Dave have crafted a series of three highlights episodes, the first of which goes out tonight at 10pm.

Episode 1 features the best bits of series 1, next Wednesday's will feature the best of series 2 and who knows what they'll do the week after that? (I do. And I'm sure you can guess.)

It's fair to say that my stuff doesn't always lend itself to being chopped up... there are too many connections and threads. For instance... there was a section in series 1 that involved an ad van turning up at a petrol station. It got a really big reaction... but in order for it to make sense, you'd need to see about 75% of the episode it's in. At which point it doesn't really feel like a compilation. So obviously that isn't in it.

But there are also plenty of other bits that work just fine in isolation - and I'm impressed with the way they've managed to structure the shows so that separate threads are maintained in different ways. And more than anything else, it leaves me feeling very proud of just how densely packed each series has been.

Well that and, "blimey, my beard is much greyer now and that was only three years ago."

There are some not-been-on-the-telly-before bits in the shows, including a Found Poem in the first episode.

It's on tonight. 10pm. And for the next two Wednesday nights too. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Competitive Spirit

Yesterday was a day for unleashing my competitive spirit. In the morning I was recording this...

... yes, I have Pointlessed. I was paired up with the brilliant, John Shuttleworth. I'm a huge fan - a show of his at the Buzz Club in Chorlton back in 1990 or 1991 remains one of my all time favourite gigs. A thrill.

And in the evening I was recording the first show in a new series of Taskmaster.

It's hard to say which one brought out the biggest competitive streak in me... but I suspect it's Taskmaster.

Of course it should be Pointless. After all, we were playing Pointless for charity. (In my case for Shelter). Which means that Pointless isn't pointless, whereas Taskmaster most certainly is. But somehow, the pointlessness of the Taskmaster tasks makes me even more desperate to do well. Oh dear.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I ordered something from Amazon yesterday. It's being delivered today. I don't want to end up trapped in all day waiting... but luckily, Amazon provide delivery tracking information on their website. And looking at this, it seems my delivery is imminent...

I mean, it must be, right? Because it's already travelled quite a long way from A to B and now it's got the even longer journey to make from B to D... but it's already got as far as C and that's, what, 85% of the way there? 

As it goes, I know the depot's only a couple of miles away so they can't be more than 5 minutes away according to this. I'll stay in. I'll wait.

Well I would do if I hadn't seen this before. It looks like this all day. Sometimes they deliver at 9 in the morning. Sometimes at 9 at night. It doesn't matter when it's turning up. The minute it leaves the depot it appears as "almost there" and it remains "almost there" until it's, um, there. (And sometimes, they run out of time and don't deliver to us at all, actually.)

So what's the point of the graphic? In what sense is my delivery being tracked? Once it's left the depot, nobody is able to track its progress. So wouldn't this be a bit more honest? A bit more binary?

Isn't that a bit less suggestive of progress that hasn't actually been made?

I know this isn't a big issue. I know that if you're looking for a stick to beat Amazon with there are far bigger sticks available. But it seems like a counter-productive trick to try and pull. Because it's so obviously a trick. And tricks are dishonest things to try and get away with. When a business transparently tries to flim-flam its customers, don't they just end up with customers who trust them a little less? Aren't they just sowing seeds of distrust? 

"Amazon? Oh yeah... they're the guys that think I'll fall for the progress-bar trick... you want to watch them... they're shifty buggers..."