November 2010

Virus warnings usually a hoax

Time & again personal & digital bandwidth is soaked by well-meaning friends alerting you to a virus is almost certainly a hoax.

Today’s email warned my of a Christmas Parcel Delivery Scam – with duped folk calling a premium rate phone number at a cost of £315.  The scam was shut down in 2005. (That’s five years ago folks!).

Crimestoppers has received reports of a viral email discussing a scam that informs victims of a bogus parcel delivery and charges them a premium rate for the phone call to retrieve the phantom parcel.

We can confirm that this scam was in operation until 2005.

In December 2005 the premium rate number 0906 661 1911 was shut down and the operator of the number was fined £10,000.”

No doubt it’s operating in other countries.

Here’s how to detect hoaxes, & find out about scams… Copy the email’s subject line into google. Add ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ as appropriate. Press Search. (Go on, you’ve done this before!)

Chances are that the first half dozen results on a ‘hoax’ search will include the excellent Snopes, or one of the anti-virus services: Sophos have an extensive directory of hoaxes.

So before you waste your own time forwarding a scam+hoax email to your address book, take a moment to Google it.

Public service announcement ends

My phone was *already* smarter than my satnav

Google’s blog announces local recommendations and takes my smartphone one step further beyond my satnav.

Now, my satnav is in theory a smarter bear. It networks with other users to give realtime, high definition traffic updates. Trouble is it’s only networking with other users of the same service – and that means there isn’t critical mass. Sure, it works well on motorways – but it’s struggling with the trunk roads that I prefer to travel on. There just aren’t enough users to give even a 425-line picture of local traffic. Last year I saw an A road closed for 6 hours: nope, nada, niente on my SatNav’s HD service – it reckoned the road was open all the time.

So what’s the alternative? Why, my trusty smartphone. I ran a back to back test on a 4.5 hour trip to Liverpool. The result?
SatNav wins out on managing motorway traffic – spotting it & routing you around it. On A roads, the smartphone wins out. It’s so much faster at recalculating routes, and in a different league when it comes to finding local information. & since my smartphone is an HTC/Google Nexus 1, adding local preferences to my information could be a great help/

The usefulness of results is going to depend on how smart the social engine is – when I’m in a part of the country that only my preferences’ friends’ friends’ visit, for example. That’ll be interesting. Last FM have managed that trick with my eclectic music tastes for years, so it’s certainly possible.

Critical mass shouldn’t be a problem (a final bye-bye to my satnav, then).

Blurring the boundaries of privacy could be the greater issue though.

Web-savvy strategy

Will Rowan provides consultancy to grow businesses with web-savvy strategy.

Strategy isn’t about technology: never has been, never will be. Strategy for digital business is no different.

“It’s about people, process, behaviours, and how they change. Right now business, web & marketing communities are full of hints, tips and whirring technologies:
useful, if you remember that tech is only a means to an end – an enabler which will change colleague and customers’ behaviour.

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