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Almost Sakura

So I was sitting outside in the sun yesterday (blah and raining today) when I noticed the cherry trees were almost in flower. Last year the cherry blossom was on the 18th of April. Looking at the video on last year's entry, it looks almost like that now. A few days perhaps? Thus making the onset of spring being some two weeks earlier this year.
I think I saw a swallow. If so, they're pretty-much on schedule. [UPDATE: afternoon: yes, the swallows are here...]

In Japanese, the festival of "contemplating the Sakura" (cherry blossom) is called "Hanami".
Here is a photo of some of our cherry blossom that you can contemplate ☺ :

Sakura 2011


Do I look stupid?

Earlier I received this:
Email header
Dear Friend,
I will be very glad if you do assist me to relocate the sum of $6,200,000.00 us dollars into your personal bank account, this will be for the benefit of both of us.
This is a genuine business transaction only I cannot operate it alone without using a Foreigner according to the laws guiding my bank, that is why i am contacting you in this manner to help me stand before my bank as the beneficiary to claim this fund into your bank account, for assisting me to actualize this better opportunity, you will be entitled to have 30% from the total fund while 70% will be for me, as a matter of fact, what i need is your maximum cooperation and to provide a valid bank account where my bank will transfer this money for the benefit of you and I. By indicating your interest on assurance of trust I will send you the full details and how this business will be executed.
Most importantly, please I will advice you to keep this business proposal as a top secret between you and me. Or delete it immediately in your email box if you are not interested in this fund transaction business. Your urgent response to this mail will be highly appreciated.
Best regards,Mr. Adibou Marcel .Z.

Yeah. I'm sure.


I had, temporarily, set up a catch-all account on my heyrick domain to recover my old IMDb account, as IMDb confirmed the address was at my domain, but they wouldn't tell me the actual address so I could set it up again. Well, I'm in, and I've pointed myself at a working specific address.


UPS spam (as seen on my phone)Linked to this message is a zip file. Inside the zip file is an .exe file. I passed it through VirusTotal, and the file was detected as the Chepvil trojan, though the following missed this: Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, McAfee, and Symantec (formerly known as Norton?).

The major antivirus products may well have let this in!
Microsoft's antivirus spotted it exactly. And while the biggies missed it, the fact of what it is and how it arrived leads me to believe it is a genuinely tainted file.
You can read the VirusTotal report here.
There is information on the UPS/Chepvil campaign here.

HSBC spam (as seen on my phone)The attached form is a giant mess of encoded text. This is to stop it being examined until it is too late. Given I don't even have an HSBC account, it is of little interest to progress further...

HM Revenue and Customs spam (as seen on my phone)Now this in an interesting bit of psychological manipulation. Given the recent cock-up by the tax handling of the British tax office, it stands to reason that if you're not one of the ones being hung out to dry for the "oh, we forgot", then you might be one of the ones due a repayment.
The attached form links in to all sorts of bits of the HMR&C website (, I have no doubt it looks correct and professional on-screen. It actually looks (from the commenting in the file) that they have taken the real search form and modified it for their nafarious purposes... which are:

  • Please enter your name and address as you have it listed for your credit card.
  • Cardholder Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Mother Maiden name
  • Address (which as a bit called "State / Province / Region" - what, not County?!)
  • Phone Number
  • Bank Name
  • Debit / Credit Card Number (card logos from ""!?)
  • Expiration Date
  • Verification Number
  • Password

Really - is it not obvious that this is a data grab attempt? I can pay money to you with only a name and IBAN code - all the rest is irrelevant for making a payment. But for ripping you off, if you reply to this form, you''ll be handing all your details on a plate.
And no, the details don't go to to HMR&C, it is sent to which seems to be a nice little hotel down near Biarritz... one would suppose with a compromised server.
The funny thing?
The initial form code is:
<form style=MARGIN: 0px" name="processForm" onsubmit="readFlash(); setOptimCookie();" action="" method="post" ? <form>
<input type=
blah blah
I don't figure what the second form is supposed to be, but I figure that lingering question mark (I've highlighted it in megenta) is supposed to be "/>", thus... fail!

Which is a shame, as I suspect people that fall for something that obvious deserve all the chaos it causes.

And finally...

Incomprehensible spam (as seen on my phone)There was a time when spam made sense. Okay, it might have been Russian brides and penis extensions, diazepams and viagra... but still. At least it made sense.

I know, for a fact, that my phone is capable of many encodings. Here's a brief list, and don't concentrate on the mass of "No" entries, for European covers many of the world's languages, and Cyrillic covers several too, and...

African scripts (Egyptian, Cambodian...) No
Arabic script No
Armenian, Georgian, etc No
Azerbaijan (Latin) Incomplete
Bhutani No
Braille No
Canadian Nunavut No
Cherokee No
Chinese Yes
Cyrillic Yes
European (French, German, English...) Yes
Greek Yes
Hebrew script No
Indian scripts (bengali, tamil, etc) No
Japanese (kana and kanji) Yes
Korean Yes
Pakistani No
Russian Yiddish Script No
Thai Yes
Vietmanese Yes
It seems to cover the common European languages and the common Asian languages. These, given it will cover America/Canada, probably cover the target market for Android devices. However, given the Jewish influence in America, I find it strange that there does not appear to be any support for Hebrew. Likewise, in today's world, Arabic is notable by its absence.

For comparison, my PC did everything except the African scripts, and Cherokee. This includes Indian, Nanavut, Braille... Try your capabilities!



Lessons will resume shortly. I figured, given the events of 11th March, there were other things to say.

Speaking of which...


Fukushima vs Reality

Say what you like about the way the Japanese handled the situation, the basic facts of the matter are:
  • Everything is not already
  • Not much happened, really
The media damn-near led us to believe that a massive mushroom cloud will appear over Fukushima, a bright flash and Tokyo will be vapourised, nothing from Japan is safe to eat, nor is pretty much anything from that side of the pacific, but it is all moot for the April rains will bring radioactive fallout that will poison us all, and if we don't die of that, the nuclear winter extinction event will get us.
Okay, I am exhaggerating slightly. But still, there are articles in the newspaper about radiation reaching France. We all know about the special flights laid on to repatriate foreign nationals. And we all know that spinach from near the reactor is deadly. "near" being defined as "Japan". I'm sorry, WTF?

An old reactor took a brutal onslaught of natures fury. A lot of stuff went wrong. 50 people, now national heroes (and rightly so) stayed behind to tame the situation while the authorities got everybody else to up sticks and move. This was mostly a precautionary measure, I should add.
Those are the facts.
Other facts are that so far, I am not aware of any of the 50 workers dying. I believe 2 burned their feet due to incorrect footwear. I am also not aware of any of the people from the evacuation zone dying of radiation related illness. Yes, at times the radiation levels were high. And yes, the iodine released can affect the thyroid. But it is preventable (iodine supplements mean the body can safely reject this additional source) and it is mostly treatable if it is caught in time. Japan is not a third-world country, I'm sure their medical facilities will be able to spot such a thing.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the tsunami has topped 10,000.

Other facts. The dangerous material has a half-life of eight days. A person at work who I offered a HiChu sweet to asked "is it radioactive?". I could have thumped him. But I didn't, he was bigger. I do not plan to stop eating my HiChu. Because it would not be in a company's commercial interests to ship out lethal products. Notwithstanding the half-life of eight days would mean from the moment of the contamination of the source material to the product entering my body would have to fall into this time frame. If not, the radioactivity has diminished to half of what it was (half-life, right?). Another eight days, half of that. And so on. In practical terms, by the time a product is created, shipped out, bundled up, sent to France on a big palette, unpacked, listed in Satsuki, then purchased, and finally parcelled up and posted to me... I cannot imgine any additional radiation that might have been present would even be detectable at the time I come to eat it. Add in the additional complication that it is produced during nuclear fission. Which we don't have, the reactors are hot and still a danger, but they have been, I believe, brought out of "critical" (that doesn't mean "danger alert", it is the parlance for "reactor in operation"; I would assume related to the concept of "critical mass", go Wiki I can't be bothered explaining that one...).
Another fact. There were raised levels of radioactive elements in the tap water in Tokyo. This is not surprising as the place was doused with something utterly ridiculous like a thousand litres pushed out every second. I don't recall the exact rate, but it was phenomenal. So yes, if anything escaped, it would be around.
However, the media was being disceptive when they screamed "twice the legal limit". This isn't a lie, but it is hardly the truth either. The reading of the tap water in Katsushika peaked at 210 Becquerels per litre, and it was 190 Bq/l the following day. This was indeed twice the legal limit of 100 Bq/l... for babies. Japan has a ridiculously low limit in this respect (perhaps conservatively so following the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?). For adults and children, the limit is 300 Bq/l, so the water was considered safe for them. In much of Europe, the limit (with no distinction based upon age) is 500 Bq/l. Another thing is these limits are based on a yearly quantity, so 100 Bq/l a year, or 200 Bq/l for six months, adds up to be the same. Which is about a hundredth of the dose of one dental x-ray.
And that same is easily drowned out by background radiation, and positively nuked (if you'll forgive the crass pun) by extraneous factors such as passive smoking and air pollution.
One final fact. We have developed extraordinary methods of detecting radiation. We can trace and model the radioactive cloud as it circles the globe. This does not, however, mean that it poses a risk. To give you an idea, we are also capable of detecting water vapour in the atmosphere at levels you can neither see nor feel. Yet with all this sophistication for much of Western Europe (can't speak of elsewhere), you can't rely upon weather forecasts beyond a couple of days. Perhaps our problem is too much information? In any case, most of our recent nuclear debate has been guided by a lot of people who have an agenda to push. Science has no agenda, truth and reality have no agenda, but much of what I've seen recently has.

Actual reports of the recent detected dose can be found at (or see Google translated version).

Are you still reading? Are you with me? If so, please explain what all the hoo-ha in the media was about. Who were all these so-called experts dragged in to make so many dire predictions? So much time and so much concentration for a secondary event that is fairly minimal in comparison to the tsunami. Entire towns washed away, high schools full of kids obliterated in seconds. And we got endless live streaming direct-to-the-cortex updates of a nuclear reactor gone awry. There might have been a story there, but ultimately, there wasn't much. The big story? The one we should have been caring about? Sidelined in favour of panic and fearmongering.

If you ask me, the coverage of this event ought to be the undoing of much of the news media. Oh, sure, some media now are running articles asking what all the fuss was about, and the interesting We should stop running away from radiation viewpoint on BBC News' website; but the fuss was their trade only a week before. For shame. For shame.

Aside: A "Becquerel" is a measurement of emitted radiation; while a "Sievert" (mentioned in my previous entry) is a measurement weighted to provide an indication of the effect of said radiation on the human body.
There are other measurements, "greys" and "rems", but I won't be mentioning those.


Do NOT annoy your smartphone!

So the other day I phoned mom while at work, chatted, and she hung up at the end of the call. I can only imagine that my clothes were slightly damp, enough to set off the touchscreen of the phone, for in something like three seconds, it had written and sent mom the following text:
My Motorola DEFY sent this itself!
I don't speak Phonian, but I would imagine - smileys notwithstanding - that the message is less than polite.
And, to add insult to injury, it then called her right back!

Hmmm, a phone with attitude? What next? Will it refuse to take a picture with a message on-screen saying "crap composition"? Will it discard my emails after telling me "you're boring"? It is connected to the internet, so will it hit the white pages and then phone random people in the hope of fixing me up with a girl? The mind boggles...


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