Friday 12 August 2011

Thought Picnic: Will Experience Win Out?

Proximity helps ability

Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder, it could also make you forget and the corollary of which appears to negate that practice does make perfect.

I learnt to ride a bicycle at 9 during which time I had a few accidents and even learnt to ride with my hands off the handle-bars.

Continuous activity in a sphere of expertise does create a fixing in memory but it does not necessarily present total recall.

Familiarity is borne of doing the same thing over time and it is lost if that activity ceases or no particular goal directs what you do.

Recall requires presence

Decades afterwards after a wobble and a few accidents on my bicycle, I gained the confidence again to ride but never really the daring to take my hands of the handle-bars.

I find the same problem with a number of instances of telephone interviews I have had recently, when I was actively doing the things I am certified and commended for the theory, detail, expertise and experience flowed from the tip of my tongue without hesitation, I could guarantee moving to the next stage and was left with the option of taking the opportunity or not.

The breaks from that activity on which I have honed my teeth are showing up in my stutter and parrying off of the questions, I cannot fully remember and honestly say I am unable to answer whilst the technical detail seems to evade the fluency I am accustomed to.

Maybe experience will win out

In the end, what one relies on is the wealth of experience that at least suggests one knows what one is talking about because one has really done it before, given the opportunity to ride that bicycle again, there is no doubt that after a wobble or so a relatively smooth ride beckons.

The question remains whether enough has been done to make the difference without which it would be back to the original sketches and foundations of what one had built a whole career on – when one asks will that chance to shine come again?

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Thought Picnic: Only on your terms and yours only

Dastardly people

As I read the story in three parts, I had hardly been through half of the first when I began to feel my blood boil. The abuse of trust, the sense of betrayal, the dishonest duplicity and treachery for which words still fail to convey the disgust to the level that one should.

Online, through social media networking forums we portend to establish relationships and in the process hope that the people we meet can become friends and friends indeed.

There are many that will become friends, having nurtured acquaintance through interaction and created bond of trust on which we might begin to stake a lot more than we would dare to offer to strangers.

Turn-coat chameleons

The online communities where the Internet persona does reflect the person rather than a schizophrenic detachment of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the same body allows us to drop our guard such that we trust but fail to verify leaves us innocent, naïve and sadly vulnerable too.

There are people that have earned respect by reason of their views and opinions; we hope that when we meet them in person they are no different but greater figures of admiration worthy of more respect.

It cannot however be said of all who appear to command an audience that belies public sainthood but private devilry.

Whose promises are not worth much, whose character is rubbish and have a demeanour that makes a diabolical version of Machiavelli easier to befriend and trust to personal hurt.

Trust but always verify

For all the engagement one can have towards the prospect of working with these people, there are a few strict rules we need to follow in order not to have our fingers burnt.

Always obtain independent references concerning these people, not only from observers but from those who are colleagues with the person.

Never enter into a gentleman’s agreement of just the shaking of hands without legally binding contractual terms that must be signed and delivered, if possible notarised – these people are neither gentlemen nor ladies, they have no spoken word that can be their bond.

If you have nothing in writing, you have nothing to rely on and you have no case when the issues come up for review – trust but verify. If those people are honest, truthful and credible, having any of the views documented should never ever be a problem.

Always keep a copy of all correspondence and ensure that whatever ideas they are selling to you are if said to be approved by their line management are confirmed from their line management before you act.

Only on your terms

Never change whatever status, condition, situation or circumstance you are in for a prospect that does not look legally enforceable from the moment you are at crossroads where a decision needs to be made.

Never be blackmailed into taking an offer that you are not entirely comfortable with, if they want you they should sort out their end of the bargain rather than inconvenience you with the uncertainties of where you stand.

You have more leverage in demanding the formalisation of your contractual terms before commencement than after you have resumed because that situation after you are on-board becomes less of a priority.

Pragmatism over patriotism

Do not let the opportunity to work amongst your people becloud your judgement of the circumstances you might encounter, the price is high enough leaving your comfort zone, do not raise it higher by allowing patriotism to trump pragmatism.

If you are a gambling person, don’t show your hand until enough is on the table to call your bluff. Be prepared to walk away from an untenable situation and do it resolutely; do not be held to ransom.

I would have preferred to write a more direct indictment of the person(s) concerned, but this is a shot across the bow and the torpedoes are being loaded in the tubes for which there will be no counter-measures and that is a promise, threats are so passé.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Social Engineering: For the avoidance of Mrs Mary Williams

This is not for me

I just got an email with the subject Dear Customer: I would presume whoever is addressing me does not know my name; the email portends to be from MoneyGram with the email address of which immediately indicates that it is really not from MoneyGram.

I will humour myself by reading the email and you will find my comments inline in parentheses, it will just pertain to the content of the email, I will not do much technical analysis to ascertain the genuineness of this email.

From Office Of The Money Gram Money Transfer. Accra-Ghana Republic / Address No 450 Ring Road Accra-Ghana.

[Now, I would have thought this would come from the office of the MoneyGram Money Transfer Bureau, emphasis on Bureau, which might be in Accra but is it not the Republic of Ghana?]

Appearances of deception

[The genuine MoneyGram Money Transfer website is the one in this email does not exist.]


[Yes, that is a Ghanaian phone number but I doubt I will be calling it.]


[Now, I have a second email address and this is in a Chinese domain.]

Dear Customer:

[These people do not know me, here again I am being addressed as Dear Customer.]

The letter

Be inform[ed] that we have been giving [given] and [an] instruction by, Hon Ado Seth, DP Ministry of Finance Accra Ghana to start sending to you $5000usd everyday through money gram money transfer, Until your total amount sum ( $1.2 Million us Dollars, AID FUND) one million two hundred thousand united state dollars is completely transferred to your custody .

[I really cannot be bothered with correcting this, too many errors in this paragraph, I could do with a transfer of $5,000 into my custody and eventually my bank account everyday but I will settle for Paypal donations to made though clicking on the Donate button at the top right of this blog.

But read this, I am over a period of 240 days supposed to receive the sum of $1.2 million in daily deposits of $5,000; I suppose a vulture is a patient bird but I doubt it will wait for the egg to be laid, incubated, hatched and the full lifecycle of the bird to carcass before it feeds.

The poor Ghanaians whose aid pornography pictures have moved aid agencies to sympathy to donate to their plight are not going to get sight of the aid, it is about to be drip-fed $5,000 a time into the account of Dear Customer, Yours Truly.]

Affected by an avoidance

Today our department have affected [Why can’t they avoid affording the misuse of affected for effected?] your first transfer of $5000usd to your name, Transfer Reference below.

[Indeed, they need to be reminded of my name which they never knew before.]

Sender First Name=Dr Victor

Sender Second Name =Ike

Amount=$5000.00 USD



[Who is Dr Victor Ike?]

Contact Dr Victor Ike, Foreign Operation Manager on the below address, to issue to you, your Fund Clearance Certificate and give to you your Money Gram Transfer Control Number to pick-up your first payment of $5000 us dollars.

[So, Hon Ado Seth (Don’t be deceived by titles, this man is hardly Honourable by any stretch of the imagination.) in corrupt enterprise with Dr Victor Ike are in this together and looking further down, the latter is the Foreign Operation(s) Manager at MoneyGram in Ghana – Interesting.]

Dr Victor Ike{Foreign Operation Manager Money Gram Accra Ghana}

E-mail {}

[And though he works in Ghana he has a Chinese email address.]


She’s a scammer


Mrs Mary Williams.

[Mary Williams? Cheers? Maybe I am being pedantic here but you cannot without knowing me end up closing an apparently formal letter with Cheers. Who the heck is Mrs Mary Williams and to what do I owe this random windfall from three unknown people in Ghana?]

Like they say, if it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t worth your while. To close, I just attempted a search on Mrs Mary Williams and before I finished typing, the suggestion of “Mrs Mary Williams email” was offered by Google and well, she appears to have a reputation for scamming people.

Mrs Mary Williams, please go take a running jump off Fort Elmina, you’ll be doing yourself the greatest favour.