Is Your Twitter Account Safe?

You see it happen from time to time: twitter accounts that suddenly send out a strange message. Mainly in the form of a Direct Message. And then, suddenly, it happens to you. Today, at around 10h30 CET my twitter account sent out DMs containing the text ‘This you????’ and a link. Let me tell you: it is not funny. You feel, and probably are, responsible for it and maybe people trust you enough to click on the malicious link. Fortunately, some of my followers replied immediately with questions and warnings, so I could act quickly, albeit too late to stop the DMs.

Anyway, I have learned something from it, which I think is good to share. So here are my five tips which I hope will prevent you from experiencing the same thing:

  1. Make sure you have a password that Twitter considers to be ‘Very Strong’. Use upper and lower case character, use numbers and use special characters all in your password. Make sure it is at least 8 characters long.
  2. Change your password regularly.
  3. Do not enter your account/password combination on other sites. Use the Twitter oAuth functionality.
  4. Regularly go to Settings > Connections and verify if you still want all these applications to have access to your twitter account.
  5. If you find out: immediately let people know what’s going on. Apologise, explain and thank them for warning you.

Stealing Vending Machine

Right. Again I lost a coin to a machine. And it wasn’t even a gambling one. It was one of those regular coffee vending machines you find in office buildings all over the world. One of those machines that give not very good coffee in exchange for some coins. We have several in our building, where roughly 600 people work. The machines are exploited by an unknown company. At least, unknown to the users. There is no contact information for the owner of the machines. At least not visible. Normally, I use one of those chip-keys. You plug it in, throw some cash in the machine, and it adds to your balance. Then you can use the balance to buy the coffee. Nice technology, but… it doesn’t always work as expected. About 4 times in an 19 month period, it failed to add a coin to the balance. And I did not get the coin back. In total I probably lost the not schocking amount of 3 Euro. Small enough not to be bothered. Until you start doing the math, with some assumptions of course.

So, say I’ve lost about 2,50 EUR in a year’s time. And assume that I am not alone, but that this happens to roughly 50 percent of potential machine users (600 in the building, meaning 300 that have a similar experience). For our building, that means 300 x 2,50 = 750 Euro per year. Then assume this nameless company has roughly 100 similar clients, not unimaginable in the Paris/Ile-de-France area. That means 100 x 750 = 75.000 Euro per year of pure extra income.

Or am I just being paranoid?

Twenty Years Ago, Yesterday And Today

Yesterday, 20 years ago, was my 17th birthday. A Saturday that I remember rather well. Maybe even best of all my birthdays. There was, in the early afternoon, some of the family over in the house, and maybe even a friend or two. Actually, it was not really special, because probably we had already celebrated it on the Friday night before. You know how that goes at this age: you’re in a bar with friends, clock strikes 12 and there is another reason to have more fun. Anyway, back to that Saturday. The phone rings, a fixed line as mobile phones were still heavier than an elephant and mainly used by drugs dealers, and since it was my birthday, I pick it up. A friend, obviously calling me to congratulate me. Nice, but there was something in his voice. Then he aplogized: he had something to say, even if it was my birthday. The father of one of our friends, part of our group, had died that morning. The worst thinkable birthday gift you can get maybe, but, it was obviously not about me. The guy whose father died, was 2 years younger than I, and it is totally horrible if you lose your dad at that age. I cannot imagine the feeling. And since he was my friend, the birthday fun was over. Not that I cared very much for my birthday anyway, but this was it: the brithday absolutely had no significance anymore. Who cares about a cake and presents when a friend just lost his father. So, wherever you are Jan, we lost contact along the way, but I still remember that day. Just hope we were there for you then.

And then, the next day, 20 years ago today, everything turned around. It was one of the greatest days in modern history. The unthinkable, which was at that time actually to be expected, happened. Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I can vividly remember being glued to the tv, watching the gates open and Mr Mandela walking out, iconic fist in the air. History in the making. Afterwards, he proved to be a truly great man. With these events happening, who cares any longer for their birthday? Sure, I like a bit of attention, and I like to get gifts, but sometimes, I think back to that weekend 20 years ago. And then I realize there are quite a few things that just matter more. And I am glad to have witnessed this one, even if it was far away behind a tv set.

So, if you think of giving me a (belated) birthday present: thank you, but don’t. Bring some flowers to the final resting place of a lost loved one, or donate some money to a charity. For instance the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

A Nomad I Am

I am a nomad, it’s official now.

In a temporary place I live,
To move to the next place soon.
And after that another one,
Of which I know I’ll leave it anyhow.

I enjoy being a nomad, I know now.
Moving from place to place,
Home to home, country to country.
Taking with me new experiences
along the way, new habits, new culture.
Always growing and learnig somehow.

No more fixed places, the world completly open.
Opportunities everywhere.
A nomad I am.