Abandon All Fear

What nobody else seems to be saying…

Archive for the ‘Anecdotes’ Category

Why I Have Not Been Posting

Posted by Lex Fear on October 24, 2009

So, abandonallfear.co.uk is confined to the Internet archives, and there has not been a post on here for 6 months. Perhaps part of it is because I lost the passion for heated debates, playing devils advocate and a raft of other things. I let the .co.uk domain slide because my paranoid side wanted to avoid a future fight with any companies that would seek Abandon All Fear as a label – I just can’t be bothered to get into a war of ‘I was here first’. Secondly I don’t really care if people find this blog or not. Over the last year I’ve been reassessing what’s important to me, and aside from a record of what I think, and a record of a contrarian view out there amongst the hubris, I care not for the events and opinions of the current era.

But I feel I will be drawn out soon to comment on the state of Churchianity. You see, I’ve been trying to mainstream. After resolving personal difficulties with the church in general and coming back to God, in a sense, I’ve been attempting to bridge my controversial viewpoints and social commentary to a public real identity twitter feed. What that means is, or rather what I’ve discovered is, that the need I have to mock and rubbish the sacred cows of society is a core part of who I am I can’t get away from. But recently I’ve also discovered that it just won’t work, I’ve realised that there is a need to have a split online personality. Some friends and acquaintances are just not ready for either truth, or ideas that challenge their lives and careers.

There’s sometimes a need for anonymity, a prophet is not accepted in his hometown, and perhaps it’s because people are not ready to accept truth from those they have some kind of relationship with. It’s far easier to accept truth and wisdom from an anonymous source outside your social circle – perhaps because changing your mind over something need not necessarily be looked upon as an embarrassing turn around by people who are close and in the know. Perhaps it provides another voice with which to feel allegiance with, that you are not alone in your ‘extreme’ thoughts and can feel a bit more normal.

I guess there’s a need for Lex Fear, not because the world needs Lex Fear, it’s just me that needs him. A persona to vent about the things I see that drive me nuts. And if you agree with what Lex says, then that’s great, if you don’t then don’t worry, it’s nothing that in any way will affect how you live or who you mix with.

Posted in Anecdotes, Churchianity, The Purpose Missing Church | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

[Soul Searching] Vapours

Posted by Lex Fear on May 25, 2009

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.

I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.

What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.

I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind.

The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.

Solomon, Ecclesiastes

A while ago I was discussing politics and the recession with a friend. I was doing what I considered my dutiful task of informing him of how all the decisions of Gordon Brown, since ZaNuLabour rose to power 12 years ago, have led to the bubble in house prices and the subsequent eonomic collapse. But my friend then asked a pertinent question which caused me to consider my very purpose.

If the Conservatives had been in power, would things have been different?

And the very truthful answer to that is, No.

It’s not just a political thing, it’s not just that ZaNuLabour stole Tory policies. It’s the old cliche that absolute power corrupts absolutely – greed, extravagance, gluttony, apathy,  envy, pride and anger. What have we not seen in recent days? There are very few people – and politicians are people – who did not fall into the trap of thinking the good times were never going to end. Everyone was happy to turn a blind eye to the injustices, to the corruption, the expense claims whilst the money kept rolling and the price of their house kept rising.

What would have been different? Nothing. And it’s this answer which has formulated my cynicism and means I will never have absolute faith in politics.

That’s not to say I don’t believe there are individuals who appear at times who see all this and really do want to change the system, but all too often they either fall to the dark side, or they find themselves being chewed up and spat out by a great machine which is fueled by the ignorance of man.

You think our politicians have learned from this boom and bust? You think things will be difference because they are putting rules in place to stop it happening again? Let me tell you that most of them don’t even know how to prevent it, or don’t really care, and of those rules they do make… they will be ignored by future generations just as we have ignored the rules and the lessons of the past.

So why bother even blogging about this, why bother discussing it? The most reward that any of us can get is the option to say “I told you so”, because we all lose. The truth about teamwork is that the team moves forward at the pace of it’s slowest member, and the same is true of humanity. For all our scientific innovations and discoveries, we cannot solve the problem sin. When I use this word, sin, I refer to human failings, things which are inherent in our nature which cause evil – deceit, selfishness, murder, greed, sexual desires, war… but instead of acknowledging these we redefine them. (The idea that someone would have sexual relations with a 10 year old disgusts us and strikes us as immoral, but the boundaries of sexual morality are being increasingly eroded. As adults fight for more sexual freedoms there is nothing to stop this becoming socially acceptible – all that’s needed is to redefine what constitutes being an adult. For instance at 10 years old in England, you can already be tried for a crime as an adult – why can’t you be considered sexually aware?)

But I digress. I have questioned why I should rail against something which cannot and will not be stopped as long as there is an unsanctified human race. A human race of which 1/3 does not even acknowledge God’s existance let alone as Lord. (And of those that do acknowledge and worship God, how many of them are truly taking a stand against corruption and not partaking in it?)

The truth is, I have lost the drive to blog about politics and world affairs, to question the system. I still hold strong political beliefs but since there is no longer any difference between man and pig, I no longer see a purpose in it.

Instead, I’ve taken some time to reflect on blogging, and I am going to go back to my roots in blogging about Christianity and experience – that means I’m still going to post the odd consumer post but I see my primary purpose in apologetics.

It may be something to do with having made my peace with the church.. or at least the church I now attend. It may be something to do with reading and listening to the arguments of atheists more.. which provides me a source of great mirth and sometimes deep thought.

Of course my co-author Hudson has a lot to say about politics and anyone else can be free to join and write for AaF about these topics, but I have said enough, and will now focus on something which is close to my heart.. and I guess, in that way, I’m being true to the subjects I’ve always posted on.. those that are important issues for me.

Posted in Absolute Power, Anecdotes, Apologetics, Bollotics, Financial Terrorism, Metablog, Morals & Ethics, Realpolitik | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

[Scammy] How Defraud eBay Users – Courtesy Of Paypal

Posted by Lex Fear on March 17, 2009

I have been meaning to discuss this one for a while, but it only just popped back into memory recently whilst I was looking through some old emails.

I’m writing this to warn you of the systematic failure of Paypal customer service and how this creates potential for easy, undetected scamming and profiteering opportunities for eBay power-sellers by abusing low-usage eBay users.

Last year I gave up eBay for good. I gave it up after I received 1 negative feedback having achieved in 2 years over 50 positive. The negative feedback was not warranted – it was retaliatory, from an eBay power-seller going by the trader name of notebookspares, offline company name: Rolta Limited, email address: hanspals@hotmail.com. I found a bunch of linked websites too, from googling their phone number: 0208 561 3960 – I wonder how many scams they are running?

I put up this power seller’s details as a warning to other potential buyers – particularly to buyers who do not do hundreds of trades a day and have a large feedback cache. I have copies of all correspondence and other details regarding this transaction, if requested.

Last year I received retaliatory feedback for posting negative feedback after not receiving an item from notebookspares (Rolta Limited). I posted the negative feedback after I’d exhausted all possibilities with Paypal resolutions.

You see, one day early in 2008 I had ordered an item from notebookspares, but on failing to receive it or any communication within 2 weeks I tried eBay’s contact form, then I tried emailing direct and finally a phone call leaving a message – all to no avail.

Since it was now outside of the time limit for escalating no item/no response, I went through eBay to get to Paypals “Item Not Recieved Dispute Resolution Centre”. Despite the power-seller, notebookspares , not being arsed to return my messages or calls, a day later he responded to confirm that the item had been posted and signed as recieved. News to me.

So I took the Proof Of Delivery he provided, plugged it into Royal Mail website and found that it referred to a delivery to a completely different name and address. No other details were provided unfortunately. Sounds like an honest mistake right, either notebookspares had provided the wrong POD, or they posted to a wrong address. Anyone would be able to detect this and make amends – Paypal however didn’t check the POD provided and now wanted to close the dispute.

Therefore, I escalated it, I complained that notebookspares had not bothered with any correspondence and had now provided an incorrect POD. It took 3 weeks for Paypal to respond, in that time, they still had not checked the POD with Royal Mail online, instead informing me that since the power-seller, notebookspares, had provided a POD, the resolution was now closed. I was livid.

Note: The POWER-SELLER had provided POD, so there was NO DISPUTE! It doesn’t matter that the POD was to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NAME AND ADDRESS, the POD had been provided, so PAYPAL concluded there was NO DISPUTE.

Despite escalating this again, stating the facts of the matter again (POD was wrong name/address, power-seller notebookspares, had not responded to any hails), 4 weeks later Paypal concluded once again there was NO DISPUTE – they didn’t even bother to gather facts from the interested parties.

I should mention at this point, I did contact Royal Mail, and attempt to find out where the parcel got delivered and obtain a refund this way, but Royal Mail requested more details about the delivery than I had to give. Which left me with the same problem, notebookspares would not respond to messages or requests for information which Royal Mail needed, and Paypal would do sweet FA about it.

The only thing I had left was the power of democracy, which, like real democracy, is weak. I left a negative feedback on notebookspares. 1 negative feedback against 1000’s of positives, which affected his feedback score NIL. Not satisfied with being an asshat, notebookspares immediately left retaliatory feedback that wasn’t even anything to do with the service or item, which of course brought me down to about 95% positive. I complained to eBay directly – but guess what – they couldn’t give a shit.

Finally, receiving no further correspondence or recourse from Paypal, notebookspares or eBay, I refused to settle my eBay fees which were around the £10 mark- which got my account suspended. The item itself was worth £25, so I made a loss of £15. eBay tried to recover the fees by threatening court action, but I dealt with them like I dealt with my gym recently (for another post, another day) and they chickened out.

Since it was such a small amount, I didn’t bother reporting the fraud to the police (apart from reporting it to the press, what else would they do?), but I did write to eBay and threaten to call in the police. I got no reply from eBay so why bother reply to their emails asking for their fees?

So, hopefully you can now see the potential pitfall?

Here’s how the scam works – Paypal practically endorses it by design!

If you are a power seller, like notebookspares (Rolta Limited) was, and you have built up a large number of positive feedbacks, here is your chance to make a bit of extra profit on the side!

Every now and then, take an order from a low-level user (50 feedbacks or less) for a small item (£50 or less), when you have recieved payment through Paypal, deliver the item to another address you use and get you POD from Royal Mail.

When the buyer inevitably complains using Paypals resolutions, provide the POD – it doesn’t matter what NAME, ADDRESS or SIGNATURE is on the POD, as long as a POD exists, Paypal will close the case and you have made yourself a tidy little profit on the side.

When the little buyer leaves negative feedback, you can devastate his score by RETALIATORY FEEDBACK. eBay will do nothing about retaliatory feedback so you are SAFE!

Paypal and eBay will turn a blind eye to this as long as you are generating a big revenue for them, so this is not for the little guy – power sellers only.

Just make sure that you don’t do this too often as it will eventually effect your feedback score, but if you do it once or twice for every 100 buyers you have yourself a nice little racket!

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Anecdotes, Bad Company, Buyer Beware, Holding Actions, Justice & Mercy, Profiteering, Technology, Untouchables, Wealth Creation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

[Web Pointing] This Is Very Cool

Posted by Lex Fear on February 21, 2009

I’ve finally managed to wrest control of abandonallfear.co.uk from Lycos to my current domain provider and am now able to keep it for the next year or so, and point it towards this blog.

What is really cool is that doing a little test on google leads me to believe that any old pages that have been indexed at abandonallfear.co.uk with a p=? number eg. “abandonallfear.co.uk/p=123” will automatically redirect to the full corresponding page on abandonallfear.org.uk.

This must mean WP keeps all blog pages indexed via page, number and long-name rather than rebuilding the index for each option you select. Interesting.

Posted in Anecdotes | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

[Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes] Teething Problems

Posted by Lex Fear on February 1, 2009

So I had to go pick a theme that doesn’t show the post author, and since we now have two authors on the books I’ve had to do theme change.

Why am I not using a customised theme instead you ask? Because underneath this domain it’s ‘just another WordPress blog’ which has limited theme choice, and this is because I’m being a cheapskate.

The other issue I have is loss of comments. I’ve been doing some housekeeping and updating my older content and noticed that I have lost the comments for all my posts which originally started on blogger. I apologise to longtime followers from the early days, I have no way of now getting these back (without painstaking recreation of each one from the old content).

Ce la vie.

Posted in Anecdotes, Blogidarity, Metablog | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Culture War: A Sense of False Security

Posted by Lex Fear on February 16, 2008

What’s the deal with corporate security procedures when dealing with customers these days? Is it just me who finds most of them not only tedious and unnecessary but actually not very secure at all?

Take Zopa for example. If I forget my password then I have to go through a 7 step procedure to offer my email, name, postcode, dob, first school and place of birth. All of these are public information that can be found by doing a bit of digging. This is just to get Zopa to email you the link to the password reset form. So if someone did get hold of all this information and input it into the webform, they would still have to bypass my gmail security to get the password reset email. What does this mean? In reality it’s Google doing the security part, Zopa is simply offering an overly elaborate stalling tactic.

Even then, is your password even safe? Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror demonstrates that simply using "Password1!" as your password is more secure and infinitely harder to crack than something like "saMejus9" which can be cracked in 140 seconds! And yet, some websites don’t even allow you to use special characters such as !&$~% for your password.

So I’ve started taking my own subversive tactics, from things I’ve picked up from various sources to my own twisted paranoia, that I use daily in the culture war that is being waged against us by the government and corporations through passive and predatory systems.

Who Am I Talking To?

Lately, I’ve found banks and untility companies call me up and attempt to use a faux security procedure to verify who I am. This is one of the dumbest layers of security you can imagine because it achieves exactly the opposite, namely:

  1. Anyone can call your number out of the blue and say they are from Bank or Utility X and want to make sure you are who they say you are. Once they have this vital information they can call the real Bank or Utility X and get easy access to your account.
  2. Why call your number to speak to you if they’re not sure it’s you? You don’t walk into a Utility X branch and ask the teller to verify you’re standing in Utility X do you?

My tactic is to absolutely refuse to do this. You’re protecting your own interests here. When they say "I just need to verify it’s Mr Fear I’m talking to…" and then ask for my DOB or some other detail, I ask them if this is Utility X and how can I be sure. If they stay on the line then I’ll simply ask them for the same details: "You tell me my DOB/Postcode etc…" If they refuse to do this then I simply tell them I can’t trust them to be from Utility X and hang up.

The only time I’ll comply is when I’m expecting them to call me. Eg. I rang up and told them to call me back.

Who Are They Selling My Data To?

I recently discovered a neat trick for use with my Googlemail account (I have no idea whether it works with other email accounts). If you have a gmail account dots (.) and anything after a plus (+) in your username are ignored.

alexfear@gmail.com can become:

  • alex.fear@gmail.com
  • a.l.e.x.f.e.a.r@gmail.com
  • alexfear+blog@gmail.com

This is useful when signing up with services online. You can set your email client or googlemail account to filter any email sent to these addresses into different folders. It will then be easy to see which companies are selling your details to spammers.

My Mother Was Glad She Married

As discussed above, details such as your mothers maiden name, first school and so on can easily be found after a little digging, which is why when I’m asked to provide these on signing for a new service, I like to be a little creative (and get a laugh at the same time). That’s why my mothers maiden name could be:

  • Ineverhadamother
  • Imanorphanyouinsensitivedolt
  • Sorrycouldyourepeatthat

In reality you can use creative lines for any kind of password. Try to imagine someone asking you the question over the phone and saying back the line with an inflection making the call-handler do a double take.

If you’re signing up with a human, and they tell you, you can’t use that as your mothers maiden name, lower your tone and reply deadly serious "That is my mothers maiden name."

Cash For No Questions

Yep, paying by cash for services. Sounds like conspiraloonery now, right? Well how about if I told you that when you buy a TV (or anything capable of picking up a TV transmission such as a computer) by credit or debit card, that your data is passed on to Crapita Business Services Ltd, who then file it in their database and cross-reference it to see if you have paid their extortion TV licence fee. This is regardless of whether or not you will use it, or if you are a non-Television owner who bought it for a family member or such.

When you pay by cash for an item like this, they will ask you for your name and address details. Give them a false one instead if you value your privacy, don’t trust these companies to act lawfully or ethically. I could be wrong but the law only states they must pass on your details to Crapita, not that you have to supply the correct details.

Junking the Junkers

Remember the days before spam, when junk mail was all you had to worry about. There’s little fight back against spammers but there is something you can do to waste time and hurt the finances of junk mailers.

A lot of junk mail comes with a prepaid 1st or 2nd class franked envolope. When you get one of these, strip all your junk mail of identifying details and numbers (tear bits off if you need to) then stuff as much of it as possible into the envelope, including the original envolope and whilst ensuring it can still be sealed. Then post it.

I have no idea of the estimated cost of processing return mail for a company, but if you add it to the cost of disposing ofyour envelope and frustration for the person who’s job is to process the replies, you’re getting a small ounce of satisfaction. If everyone did this I can imagine that the cost would start to run pretty high.

I particularly enjoy sending a heavy reply envelope packed with junk, because there’s always the possibility they will be asked to go to the despatch office and pay extra for an overweight letter.

Your Dog Has Expensive Tastes

I haven’t done this but apparently it works for trees too. Apply for credit cards using your pets names’. Run up huge bills and simply don’t pay.

References

If you’re too shy to use some of these tactics but would like to, then there are sometimes other ways of making you talk getting what you need. I can’t promise the usefulness of the links below but they do contain a lot of information and support:

Rip-off Britain is a useful site for consumers with help and guidance in getting your money back and dealing with unscrupulous cowboy companies.

Consumer Action Group offer similar support as Rip-off Britain and is mostly forum based.

Bug Me Not claim to offer registrations for websites that force you to register, they also share discount codes and disposable email addresses.

The Consumerist has a Guide to Fighting back (article linked).

Powered by Bleezer

Posted in Anecdotes | 6 Comments »

[Fearisms] What Do You Fear?

Posted by Lex Fear on June 2, 2007

Fear is a powerful, unpleasant feeling of risk or danger, either real or imagined. – Wikipedia.

All of us experience fear at different times for different reasons, it has the power to take over and control our thoughts and actions. It can affect who we are and who we become. Fear comes in many forms: mortal, and psychological.

Abandon All Fear exists as a testament to overcoming fear. It is a statement, a statement of truth about standing up against intimidation and the dark powers and principalities. It is about speaking truth, regardless of cultural sensibilities. It is about the experience and journey, of being an overcomer.

Fear of God doesn’t mean living in the shadow of a judge or higher power, it means being filled with a higher power and fearing nothing else on this earth.

Posted in Anecdotes | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

[Resolutions] Foolish Words

Posted by Lex Fear on May 16, 2007

This is a sidestep from my usual rant.

This new year I made 1 resolution. My resolution could be viewed as foolhardy, unwise and uninformed. It felt that way anyway. Even as the words left my lips, I felt uncomfortable and had no way of backing it up. Nevertheless the words had passed into the air, and were out there. They were verbal deeds. My declaration?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anecdotes, Civil Disobedience, Dark Side of the Light, Justice & Mercy, Morals & Ethics, Non-Compliance, Takeback, The Purpose Missing Church, Wealth Creation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

[Fallible Design] How I Went From Intellectual To Dumb

Posted by Lex Fear on May 6, 2007

There seems to be a wave of anti-theism spreading across the interweb these days. Either that or I’m just reading the wrong sites. Regardless, it’s inspired me to recount my own conversion from being an enlightened, smart, intelligent being, to an unenlightened, stupid, dumb theist.

Anti-theism can come in other forms but it usually takes the form of evolutionism. So I will try not to point out the obvious irony that Creationists consider human beings to be of higher intellect, value and potential whereas evolutionists consider human beings to have evolved from less intelligent species. This will be the first part of a series.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anecdotes, Apologetics, Fallible Design, Religion & Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

[Vista Flop] Watching The World Pass By…

Posted by Lex Fear on May 4, 2007

… and not blogging about it is easier than I thought. I’ve plateaued and I can’t seem to muster the motivation to start a topic.

But it’s not like I haven’t been busy. I’ve been writing a lot of letters recently- which I will post later. I’ve also been experimenting with GIMP (which is the open source alternative to Photoshop). I’m aiming to spice up the graphics and interactivity on the website a little if I can.

I should mention how the Vista upgrade went. It was part of the offer from PC World when I bought my Packard-Bell (or as Mrs Fear would correct me- our Packard-Bell). Windows Vista Home Premium took about 3 or 4 hours to uprgrade and I have to say it was disappointing at first.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anecdotes, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »