Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Persistent scam call from the World Wide Server support team

I get a lot of scam support phone calls, I usually just hang up and block the number using my call blocker.  But sometimes the call is so audacious that I record the call and bung the video up on YouTube.  This caller claimed to be calling me from the 'world wide server' with crucial information about what is wrong with my computer.  This was too good to be true, so I fired up my camera.

I'm never mean to scam callers.  There's a chance they might not even know what they're doing is a crime.  I'm being charitable here, but I've read articles claiming that the lower level callers like this are just one of hundreds of people working in a high pressure call centre environment.  I see no reason to swear at scam callers, but that's not to say they don't often swear at me.

In the scam call from the World Wide Server support team I played along for a bit.  But when the scam caller wanted me to load an executable file on my computer I decided not to risk it.  From this point I stopped playing dumb and started letting the caller know that I did not wish to proceed.  I even listed the technical reasons why his call couldn't possibly be genuine.   This is when it got weird.

When I start spouting technical details regarding using a VPN for security, or running a NetStat command to record the IPs of scammers who attempt access to my network, that's usually when scam callers hang up.  This caller wasn't put off by little things like that.  In fact he wasn't put off by me asking him outright if he was a scammer and had employers for whom he was breaking the law.

In the end I offered to put the phone in front of my radio so he could listen to some music.  My logic being that he could pretend to still be speaking to me, but could listen to some music and have a break for a few moments.  He still persisted.  This was one determined caller!

Watch the video and you'll hear how badly the caller was trying to fill the holes I was picking in his shaky scammers' argument.

Scam support calls - remember this

  • Nobody will ever call you offering you free support for a problem you have not reported
  • NEVER allow anyone access to your computer, no matter where they say they are calling from
  • Don't be freaked out that they appear to have some of your personal details, they would need nothing more than a telephone directory to find this information

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Glenn the Pine Marten, age 51, from Stockport

This is Glenn.  He is a Pine Marten.

Glenn the Pine Marten has worked very hard to get where he is today.  Glenn has strong opinions about how much time teenagers spend staring at screens.  Glenn is a systems analyst and spends ten hours a day analysing systems on a big computer monitor.

Glenn is proud that he is so valued by his employer that he has only been given the statutory minimum amount of annual leave.  Glenn knows that if he did not put in the hours the company would fall to pieces.

When he was a young man Glenn bought a Kit-Kat that was entirely devoid of any wafer.  He knows how much his friends like hearing the story about his solid chocolate Kit-Kat.  He has told the story many times and is well practiced at not letting his friends interrupt him.

A month ago Glenn found out that his financial advisor was criminally incompetent.  Glenn will have to work for more years than some of his friends at the squash club, because his pension scheme has collapsed.

Three days ago Glenn was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the support department of a very well known software company.  Now Glenn has 24 hours to find out what a Bitcoin is otherwise his friends at the squash club will find out about the websites he looks at while his wife is out playing bingo.

Goffy the Seagull, age 57, from Coventry

This is Goffy the Seagull, he is from Coventry.

Goffy was just ten years old when his cousin Patrick snuck him into The Heath Hotel, in Coventry, to watch The Specials.  The Specials had not played in public before and Goffy wanted to see them because at age ten he wanted to be a policeman.  By the time Goffy was age 15 he decided he preferred The Beat.

Goffy doesn't like it when people tell him that seagulls do not exist.  Some people tell Goffy that there are no seagulls, only gulls that live near the sea.  He does not like pedants.  Goffy is comfortable with his identity.

Goffy did not become a policeman.

Six months ago Goffy found out that the endowment mortgage policy that he has been paying into for thirty years won't cover the final payment due on the two bedroom terrace house he shares with his elderly mother.

Goffy is very worried about a doctor's appointment he has on Thursday morning.

Three years ago Patrick had a stroke while playing snooker.  Patrick died.  Goffy misses his cousin very much.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How to sync Korg SQ-1 to sequencer Bastl Kastle synth

I've been tinkering around with my Bastl Kastle synth for about six months now.  This tiny little semi-modular synth is great fun. It has been designed in such a way that it's impossible to patch it up wrong.  I'm still new to the world of synthesizers and mucking about with patching the Bastl Kastle has been a great way to learn.

Making a tune with the Bastl Kastle is something I struggle with.  To be honest I'm not sure this is the sort of synthesizer that is designed for belting out a nice tune.  It's an experimental thing.  But trying to control it in any way that I might find useful, or even repeatable has been a bit of a challenge.

Recently I bought a Korg SQ-1 sequencer so I could run longer sequences on my Korg Volca Bass.  I really love this little sequencer; it has enabled me to do things with my Volca Bass that I didn't think was possible.

Because the Korg SQ-1 is such a versatile device I thought I'd try and use it to run a sequence on my Bastl Kastle.  The SQ-1 has CV out so in theory the process should be fairly straight forward.  But every time I tried I failed.  Eventually I figured out that the SQ-1 needed to be set to 5V CV in order to properly control the Bastl Kastle.  So I made myself a little video to remind myself how to set everything up in the future.

In this video I do a few things that aren't essential to getting the SQ-1 to play nicely with the Bastl Kastle so here's a quick run down of what needs to be done to get the sync working properly.

  1. Use a mono cable to run from the CV OUT on the SQ-1 to the I/O input on the Bastl Kastle
  2. On the Kastle patch from the L I/O to Waveshape. In theory you could patch it anywhere else, but I used the Waveshape port because it appeared to have the biggest impact on the 'tune'
  3. Set the SQ-1 to 5V by pressing the function button and the 5V button at the same time
  4. Tinker to your heart's content.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Guitar FX pedals and other bits for sale

I'm having a clearout of gear I don't use any more.  While I love collecting anything musical I live in a tiny hovel and need more space.  So if you fancy buying any of these pedals get in touch.

All the pedals have lived in a pedal board when in use, so are in good condition.  Each pedal has fuzzy velcro strips on it, it's easy enough to peel off but I've left if on in case the buyers also use pedal boards.  I've priced each item as cheaply as I can.  The prices include postage by recorded delivery.

Ernie Ball volume pedal
I loved this volume pedal.  It's built like a tank!  This is not the cheaper Ernie Ball VP JR, it's the real deal.  New this pedal costs upwards of £175.

Electro Harmonix Nano Small Stone
Tidy little phaser pedal.

Electro Harmonix Freeze
Not sure how to describe this pedal.  You stand on it and it captures whatever sound you're making at the time and sort of loops it.  But it's not a looping pedal, it's a 'sound retainer'.  It might be best if you look at this on the Electro Harmonix website...

T-Rex Fuel Tank Junior
I've only had this a few weeks, and still have the box for it, but as I don't use a pedal board any more I don't have any use for it.  I was seriously impressed by this power supply.  If you've ever had a pedal board set up you'll know how much they hum.  Well this power supply stops that unwanted hum entirely.  This power supply is brilliant, I'm very impressed.  When I bought this I also bought a five metre long power cable, so I'll include that for free.  A five metre power lead makes the world of difference on stage!

Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO-12
This is just a few weeks old.  I bought it out of curiosity but don't really have any use for it.  What an idiot.  The PO-12 is a step sequencer / drum machine / groove box / noise maker.  It's a ton of fun.  I'm selling this with the optional silicone case, hence the price.  This little battery operated synth is a ton of fun!

Dr.FART sequencer
Circuit bent fart machine.  More fun than you might think!  Alas, I have no need for a fart sequencer in either of the bands I play in.  My bandmates have made that quite clear.  This dumb little thing was made by Psychiceyeclix.  A little warning if you're going to look at the creator's website, it may give you a migraine.

Pedal board
Kingsmen pedal case.  I have used this for a few years so it's not brand new, but is in good nick.  Hinges and clasps are fine.  It has stickers on it because this type of pedal case is really popular and at the end of a gig it's hard to tell which pedal board is yours unless you make it look different!

Akai Midi controller
Nice little midi keyboard with an arpeggiator.  I barely used this because Arturia kindly sent me a fancy midi controller to review.  There's more info on this keyboard here.