Cleaning up Facebook “Friend” list

I created my Facebook account in 2007, when Facebook was slowly making its trend in this side of the world. And then I made the worst mistake – adding anyone.

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Do crashbars protect your legs?

I am a motorcycle rider who encountered with a number motorcycle accidents and still in one piece.

Being a high speed fanatic, I read more and more about motorcycle safety following each accident. I explored ways to avoid trouble without losing the thrill of speed. As motorcycle training in Sri Lanka doesn’t commence in a professional way, most of the motorcycle riders have just a set of self-taught incomplete skills and beliefs.

When reading about motorcycle safety online I found a quite interesting thing called the “Hurt Report”. I’m not sure how far these findings of the Hurt Report are valid in Sri Lanka — and practically I experienced that the finding about crashbars isn’t quite true. Well, at least not for me.

It says,

Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.

So what does my experience say? I had a 150 cc Hero Honda Hunk (2011 model). In Sri Lanka it’s an average intermediate level motorcycle with a considerable body weight. When I ride I usually keep my legs close, each in tight contact with the fuel tank. In one of the two encounters where crashbars involved, right side crashbar bent due to direct impact with road surface. I decided to repair it instead of buying a new one – and voilà – it was not only bent, but also fractured!

I have seen many motorcycle owners ride bikes with crashbars just bent due to previous accidents, but this was the first time I saw one actually bent and cracked.

Now, imagine what could have happened to my kneecap if there was no crashbar and I kept my legs open! It’s a horrific feeling. Crashbars do protect – but also important to have your legs closed.

Why should you see a doc

Recently I encountered a little accident and thought I should keep this little note written somewhere. We, Sri Lankan are usually reluctant to go for medical advice when damage appears to be small. “Ah.. it’s nothing. It’ll heal.”, is it? We get most of our medical expenses covered by the government, and for these little things we are less likely to spend a night or two at hospital.

As soon I encountered the scene I rushed to the hospital because I was afraid of serious internal damage to my hand, though the wound looked like just a deep puncture and swelling caused by it. Even few people told me there’s nothing to be afraid of. X-ray was taken and doctors concluded no tendon damage (they took X-ray for a reason, isn’t it?). An overnight hospital stay for free!

Before I am discharged from the hospital I met another man who came to visit a patient. His piece gave me the motivation to write this little note. When he clench his hand, little finger (pinky) stops halfway. It won’t clench unless external force is applied, and when released it will pop back to the previous position as if it was spring loaded.

“What happened?”

“Couple of years ago two of my fingers were accidentally cut by a knife. I went to the local hospital. Doctors wanted to transfer me to base hospital. I refused and told them this is just a minor wound, so basic treatments will do.”

After arguing with doctors, the man had discharged at will. And sustained permanent dysfunction of his little finger. A stupid trade-off when you get everything for free.

If you encounter a physical injury despite of its seriousness appearing to you from outside, see a doctor. Give them as much as information, not instructions.

What now, Mobitel?

Recently I wrote about Mobitel LiveScreen because I was unhappy about the experience.

As soon I published that on my Facebook page (850+ likes), it instantly took vast public attention. So far it reached 13,000+ people without targeted advertising. Given my page’s member base is small, the post made a significant reach. Unless advertised none of my other blog posts ever reached more than 500 people on average. By the time of this writing, I’ve seen more people have started to voice against VAS scams which is a good trend.

Get the message, Mobitel? Lots of people think that you violate proper business etiquette.

Mobitel staff may think I’m a douchebag, but I am certainly not that type. I am a loyal customer who always appreciate quality service (examples available). But when it comes to daylight robbery, I can turn into a real pain-in-ass customer. From the feedback I received from readers, I realize that every Sri Lanakn telco is playing this dirty game.

So, what now, if Mobitel (and other telcos) care to listen?

Value Added Services (VAS) in Sri Lankan telco industry probably have a history over more than 10 years (history that I know of). At that time the devices we used had limited capabilities. GPRS for Internet. No Viber/ WhatsApp/ SnapChat. WAP played God. SMS and MMS ruled.

In that era, downloading a celebrity’s portrait and setting it as phone’s screen background was a real deal. Now some people might be thinking, why can’t you simply download it, crop it by yourself and then set as wallpaper? There were several real world problems with that.

That problems enabled telcos to make some extra profit out of a wallpaper and ringtone business through WAP sites. I remember people used to download wallpapers, ringtones, and even games through WAP sites. It didn’t end up there. Content such as jokes, astrology, religious prayers were delivered to subscribers’ phones as SMS at a fee. This used to be a service that people wanted.

Now it’s 2016. We have Android that supercharged the mobile phone users. Most have smartphones. We have Google that will get us what we need effortlessly. Facebook has a lot of memes that you can enjoy. Lot of free and paid games are out there in Google Play. Almost everything is available for free. Zedge has a plethora of wallpapers and ringtones.

Do customers still want WAP-based entertainment sites? I don’t think so. That era is gone. Unfortunately, telcos such as Mobitel and Etisalat don’t seem to realize this. Or rather, they pretend to be not seeing it. Instead of striving to deliver value to the customer, they desperately attempt to hard-sell the same WAP content – just like Darley road car accessory traders do.

How?

  1. By unsolicited activation of LiveScreen on newly purchased/ replaced SIM cards. These pop ups appear intermittently in a way that ‘OK’ button (meaning ‘I Agree’) could be unintentionally touched.
  2. By directly exposing our accounts to third party content providers to bill us as they wish. So, if a pop-up ad in a web page is touched accidentally, you don’t even know but they bill us on the spot.

(I can provide more detailed logical explanations on why this is not gentlemanly – if you happen to lack of common sense)

Are these telcos too lazy to innovate?

As a customer, I do not see why should I pay Rs. 30/ month to get home remedies via SMS. There is a plenty of Facebook pages that offer the same for free. I do not see why should I pay a WAP site to download pictures of a fashion model when Google gets me there for free. Rather than investing in an innovative service that delivers what customer needs, these telcos have totally ditched the sales etiquette, and they trade off their brand reputation for unsolicited VAS subscriptions.

Telcos,

Why don’t you do some market research to identify what kind of devices people use? I hardly think Android users who have subscribed to mobile data-included packages will have any interest in jokes via SMS. Why can’t you do a little market research to understand what people actually need? I have absolutely no interest in what happens around Bollywood, but there are other things that I’m interested in. As a busy worker, I’d rather be interested in things like road traffic alerts, train delays, freelancing opportunities, etc. Also, it’s worth understanding that SMS is only good for things that need urgent attention, such as breaking news alerts and job search.

Just think about your brand reputation and what customers are ought to do about this next. No more daylight robbery, please.

More on constructing passwords

So, that happened and I had to spend a considerable amount of time choosing new passwords.

I really didn’t write about how I manage my passwords. I thought about writing this tip because it’s a game of battle between convenience and confidentiality.

People choose weak passwords because they are easy to remember. But easy to guess at the same time. People use the same password with many websites so they have to remember only one. However, a stolen password unlocks an entire treasure for an attacker.

Despite there are password management tools available I completely rely on my brain. But how many to remember? I have 50+ things to protect with passwords. Am I going to use a single password for all? No! Am I going to use 50+ different passwords? Again no! This is where you have to balance between convenience and security.

First I add all of my things (machines, routers, encrypted archives, websites) into a task management tool. I don’t remember each of them in hand, so as I remember them I add them to my backlog.

My backlog has several lists.

  1. Physical assets – computers, backups, routers, mobile phone, etc
  2. Office – work related ones, anything that belongs to my employer
  3. Finance – bank, anything that has access to my money
  4. Critical – email, anything that has a serious impact on my privacy
  5. Medium Importance – as it says
  6. Low Importance – I don’t mind losing these accounts
  7. No SSL – websites that are non-HTTPS
  8. Untrusted – websites that I suspect for storing passwords in plaintext

Passwords built for each of these sets will follow a different text pattern that is a synthesised fake word. Want an example? Read about how Google caught Microsoft red-handed and you’ll see a couple of examples there. I synthesise fake words that do not even exist in the English dictionary. Fake words that I haven’t even googled to find out existence. While it’s all echoing in my mind, I don’t even whisper them in the shower.

Next thing is l33t. I make it pAr3!@|ly l33t. Randomly by making sure my new contains upercase, lowercase, numbers and punctuation.

Eight different fake buzzwords –> eight password skeletons –> many number of passwords

That’s how changing passwords work for me. It’s could be several hours of effort. Next steps are training my fingers for the new password, and then following my to-do list to change 50+ passwords, one list at a time.

මතකයේ ඇති සිද්ධියක්… (මිදි තිත්තයි)

රටේ දැන් දැන් සිද්ධ වෙන බරපතල සිද්ධිත් එක්කම මට එකපාරටම පරණ යමක් මතක් වුණා. 2005 අවුරුද්දෙ උසස්පෙළ නිමා කරල රජයේ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයකට යන්න සුදුසුකම නූලෙන් මිස් වෙලා රාජගිරියෙ රසායන විද්‍යා ආයතනයෙ උපාධිය හදාරන්න යන කාලෙ ඇහිච්ච, හිත කලකිරවන වචන කීපයක්.

එක දවසක් අකාබනික රසායනය පිළිබඳ දේශන පවත්වපු මහාචාර්ය වරයෙක් දේශනයෙ කොටසක් ඉවර වෙලා පොඩි අතුරු කතාබහක් පටන් ගත්තා. පොඩි බ්‍රේක් එකක්. කතාව ඒ දවස් වල ජ‘පුර කැම්පස් එකේ සිසු ගැටුම් ගැන. වලි ගැන කලකිරීමෙන් කතා කරපු මහාචාර්යතුමා අන්තිමේ අවධාරණාත්මක ස්වරයකින් මෙන්න මෙහෙම ප්‍රකාශයක් කළා.

“Free education should be stopped now.”

ඒක අවුලක් නෑ කියමු. කැම්පස් වල මිනීමැරුම් පවා සිද්ධ වෙලා තියෙන එකේ එතුමගෙ හිතේ තියෙන්න ඇති කලකිරීමත් එක්ක ඒ ප්‍රකාශය කළා වෙන්න පුළුවන් [සමහරවිට].

තත්පරෙන් දහයෙන් පංගු දෙකක නිහඬතාවයෙන් පස්සෙ දේශන ශාලාවෙ හිටපු ශිෂ්‍යයින්ගෙන් බාගයක් විතර ඒකට අත්පොළොසන් දුන්න. අන්න ඒකට මට හොඳටම රිදුන. (හ්ම්… දේශන වලදි කියන ඔය වගේ දේවල් වලට අත්පුඩි ගහලා සමරන එක සාමාන්‍යයෙන් සිද්ධ වෙන දෙයක් නෙමේ)

යකෝ මමත් ඕකට ආවෙ අනිත් එවුන් වගෙම සල්ලි දීල. කැම්පස් එකකට යන්න රෑන්ක් එක මදි වෙච්ච නිසා. ඒ දවස් වල දැනන් හිටියෙ නෑ මට රජයේ විශ්වවිද්‍යාලයක නොමිලේ ඉගෙනගන්න චාන්ස් එකක් ලැබෙයි කියල. එහෙම වෙලත්, මට නිදහස් අධ්‍යාපනයත් එක්ක කිසිම කිසිම කෝන්තරයක් තිබුණෙ නෑ. තමන්ට අවස්ථාවක් අහිමි වුණා හෝ තමන්ට අවස්ථාවක් අනවශ්‍ය නිසා අනුන්ට ලැබෙන අවස්ථාව නැති වීම පිළිබඳ ප්‍රසාදය පළ කරන එක කොයි තරම් ආචාරශීලීද, නේද?

2006 අවුරුද්දෙ දෙවන වර පෙනී සිටි උසස් පෙළ ප්‍රතිපල නිකුත් වුණාට පස්සෙ මම විවිධ හේතු සහ කලකිරීම් මත රසායන විද්‍යා උපාධිය නතර කරල දැම්ම. ඒ වෙනුවට, මගේ දක්ෂකමට නිදහස් අධ්‍යාපනයෙන් මට ලැබුණු තෑග්ග මම තෝරගත්ත.

 

ප. ලි.

හැබැයි ඉතිං මේ කතාබහ අත්පොළොසනින් සමරපු තැනත් පස්සෙ කාලෙක වලියක් එහෙම ගිහින් තිබුණලු. 😀

Road Accident

A rare mongoose hit my bike’s front wheel few minutes ago while I was riding, just near the entrance of the general cemetery. The shock felt like a severe hit, but luckily that guy survived. I turned back to see any injuries, but the engine’s scream made him run away, even though injured.

This shocked me, because, nowadays we don’t see these animals much around. When I was a kid, it was very common to see them running here and there. But today, a mongoose is a rare sight. I think they’re under extinction.

Although he has survived, I feel bad. May be the poor guy might die within a week. If things are going to happen like this again and again, I give up driving/riding. 😦