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Obvious scam site is obvious

So I'm on the lookout for a replacement ride-on mower. Marte still works, for now, but the deck is cracking at the point where the uprights that connect it to the mower itself are welded in. I don't have the tools or competence to fix that, at best I could try to patch it...well, bodge it more likely. The point is that the mower is really on its last legs and should be replaced with something that, you know, works.

A bit of Googling found me this. A ride-on mower for €745 which has been subsequently reduced to €372,50.

Okay, these things usually retail for around two grand (upwards!) so the €745 price could only make sense if it was a stock clearance of old models that somebody wanted to get rid of.
But flogging that for €372? Sorry, that makes alarm bells ring.

The first thing that seems unusual to me is the Amex logo at the bottom of the page. Because of the higher rates (that the vendor pays) and the fact that it is "an American thing" and thus not a default part of a card handling package offered by banks (that would offer Visa and MasterCard support); support for Amex may be found in the big cities but otherwise is pretty rare. Most of the time I see a sign about Amex, it's saying that it is not accepted.

So, then, who is behind this? The contact page goes to a contact form (which also gives an email address).
How about a phone number? The FAQ gives the following bullshit excuse:

Nous ne sommes malheureusement pas actuellement en mesure de prendre d'appels entrants, afin de garantir de meilleurs temps de traitement des demandes écrites.
Or in English, they are sadly not in a position to take incoming calls in order to assure the best treatment of written requests.

Okay, so how about an address? The "Mentions Légales" and "Conditions générales de vente" do not identify the vendor (this is, I believe, unlawful!); and also (in the mentions) gives a contact email address at another domain "jardinarea-com" (note the dash).
It is worth noting that the conditions of sale were last updated on the 1st of January 2022.
Why is this important? Because a quick look at Whois shows the site was registered on the 19th of March this year. It also shows that all of the contact information has been redacted for privacy. The site is registered with Hostinger which looks like a cheap hosting provider.

Verdict? Easy - if it looks too good to be true, it is. My bullshit filter kicked in right away, and my attempts to find out who is behind this have only confirmed my suspicions. I won't get a lovely new mower for a mite under four hundred euros, instead I'd have handed a few hundred euros to a scammer.

Thanks, bye.

 

Oh, and Jardinarea.com is a copy-paste site that appears to be selling heating wood, registered about a week earlier (with a different host). I wonder how many scam sites this person/group have created?

 

Watching the tree cutting

The man will be coming tomorrow (unless bad weather). As it is likely to take place while I'm not around and I'm interested to see what/how the tree is actually taken down, I have pressed my Lapsecam into service.
I made a little box out of black plastic, pieces of plastic salvaged from the wrapping that my headphones came in held together with hot-melt glue.

Lapsecam
Lapsecam

The plastic box is for two reasons. Firstly to provide some measure of protection against light rain, and also to hide the fact that the flash LED blinks very brightly whilst the image is written to µSD.
The unit is currently (mostly) sealed. So I hope that it is facing in a good direction. I could have had it wait for the first minute or two for a WiFi connection to serve up what it was looking at prior to the timelapse behaviour, but I didn't want to spend all day coding and testing that. I'll just set it running when I go to work and hope for the best.

 

Bribery

Isn't it interesting how the Tories, who have spent a decade and a half providing tax breaks to their rich mates whilst stripping public services to the bone (and then beyond) are now promising lovely things if you just vote for them once more.
All of the talk about stability and a safe pair of hands with the economy need only look to Sunak's immediate predecessor and what she did to the economy. To all of the Prime Ministers in this reign of Tory mismanagement and what the folly of Brexit has wrought in economic terms. Let's not talk about the literal actual shit in the rivers, or the towns that can't drink their tap water.
Sunak has the audacity to say that if Labour should win, hard working families will pay the price. The Tories have been screwing over the lower paid workers for years. It's in their DNA. Granted, the current Labour party is more to the right than usual, but still, it's left of the Tories.

If that's not enough to get you to vote anybody but Tory, then just remember, they're working their way through the morass of ineptitude. How would you like to see Jacob Rees-Mogg in Number Ten? Or Grant Shapps?

 

Doctor Who - Life in Finetime

This contains mild spoilers.

It's been a bit of a mixed bag, and we shaln't talk about the weird Beatles episode or defeating the Big Bad with the right power chord (who'd have imagined that an entity capable of stealing the world's music (yes, a concept as ridiculous as it sounds) would have such a weakness); or the obvious plot issue of once we know who the old lady is, how come she's able to stay exactly seventy three feet away even as Ruby is travelling on a high-speed train.
But, then, you aren't supposed to pay too much attention to details in Doctor Who or it'll all fall apart.

This week's episode is Doctor Who does Black Mirror with a healthy dose of sarcasm. The primary face we see, for pretty much the entire episode, is Lindy, a pretty blonde with a big hair band who lives within a bubble, in the most literal sense...

Lindy, Doctor Who
Lindy Pepper-Bean, in Doctor Who "Dot and Bubble"
© BBC Studios / Bad Wolf.
...to the point where she's pretty much unable to function without her bubble telling her to walk forward, turn left, walk forward.
People are so utterly dependent on their bubbles that they can get eaten by giant person-sized slugs. We don't ever really see these slugs actually moving because, well, they're slugs. Maybe the slowest killer creature to ever feature in an episode of Doctor Who. And yet they're still able to dine on everybody because they all live in their private little bubbles so utterly unaware of the world around them. It takes a lot of coaxing from Clara 2.0, sorry Ruby, to get Lindy to drop her bubble and actually look around... and when she does, she's so traumatised by what she sees and unable to process what to do that she simply puts her bubble right back up and starts singing along with one of the people she's following...while sitting there right beside her coworker who is being devoured.

However, unlike the Black Mirror that it is trying to be, it lacks weight. It isn't tense or scary, it's all a bit silly, and too silly to act as a serious satire. If you have watched Black Mirror, you'll know that you could easily use words like "grim", "negative", and "dystopian". The episodes are not so much entertainment as dire warnings about what a future could be like if you take something that's around today and push it into the absurd. There is therefore a strong sense of negativity. Of course, the target demographic of Doctor Who would probably struggle with a Black Mirror dose of helplessness. Sure, the Doctor has been dark and the Doctor has been scary (are you my mummy? and whatever you do, do NOT blink) but it's all been in the context of sci-fi rather than allegory or warning. Add to this a messy plot which tackles the dangers of AI (especially sentient ones) and people utterly lost in the bubble of social media and classism and... oh come on, just pick one and run with it.

Like in 73 Yards, the Doctor doesn't feature much in this episode. I believe this was due to scheduling conflicts with something else Gatwa was filming at the time. Of course, a mostly Doctor-less episode of the Doctor requires a much tighter script. Lindy is perfect as the self-obsessed vapid rich girl in her bubble, there's no problem with her. It's more about the direction of the episode in general, it seems to have tried to be too many things at once, and not really succeeding.

The ending, however, is both powerful and incredibly mean-spirited. We're supposed to take some degree of interest in her plight, will she be guided to safety? Will she even be capable of existing without her bubble? Will everything turn out well? She's the lead of this episode, it's her story, and it turns out that she is a massive arsehole; just demonstrating that even in the future and another planet, humans are bastards. But, then, that's been a bit of a theme so far this season. Instead of any connected Big Bad narrative (other than that old woman popping up in various places) it has been disjointed episodes where we are the bad ones. The Doctor has always been there for humans, but you can't help but wonder if he's getting to the point where he wants to say "Stuff this, I'm off to Trenzalore, you're on your own now".

So as the survivors head off, having rebuked the Doctor's offer of help, heading off to almost certain death, you can't help but not only not care, but wonder why you just wasted forty-odd minutes caring about this girl's helplessness. The nasty twist ending feels like a bit of an arse-pull to tackle a subject that we all knew was going to crop up at some point.
Doctor Who has done some brilliant episodes blending sci-fi with reality and educating in the process to some of the harsh realities of our world, such as the Partition of India. The topic raised at the end of this episode is a serious one, which is an issue for many people today. It deserved a better treatment than a mere cruel twist ending.

I think it says a lot that, ultimately, we end up rooting for the slugs.

 

 

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John, 2nd June 2024, 22:57
Just to highlight how effective advertising is: 
 
It wasn't until I was watching the adverts in The Piano just now I connected your Amex with American Express! 
 
I vaguely knew it was something "American" nad financial - is it just me?
C Ferris, 3rd June 2024, 09:41
Don't you have Farm shows in France - give you a opportunity to see the ride on Lawnmowers. 
 
Perhaps riding to work on a Lawnmower / tractor :-))
jgh, 5th June 2024, 19:31
Just earlier today I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognise. I let it go to voicemail. The message was: 
"This is Barclays. Please contact us on 0xxx-xxx-xxx and press 2 to speak to us." 
 
ubggre off. I'm not going to ring some random number on the basis of some random stranger telling me to. 
 
Rick, 5th June 2024, 20:37
I've had somebody try to call me, twice, from two different phone numbers in Brest. I'm going to guess it's the same outfit as twice from the same town is a bit odd. 
My bank's headquarters are in Brest, but I'm not expecting any call from them, or any particular reason for them to want to call me. 

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