Archive for November, 2006

Tele-spammers get slightly smarter

On the whole, I don’t get a large amount of telephone-spam – people cold calling trying to sell me things – apart from some persistent company trying to get me to buy a new kitchen.

But I got a call recently that went through to my voice mail with the following message “This is James from your collection service, please called 0871 2089407”, the caller-display was 0871 2409000.

For anyone not familiar with UK area codes, anything beginning with 08 is a non-geographic number, not currently classified as a premium-rate number. As such the regulations appear to be somewhat lax.

Calls to 0871 numbers are, however, charged at approx. 10 pence a minute. I have no doubt that calling this number would entail a long wait going through some automated switchboard, turning a tidy sum to the crooks who run this scam.

I’m not the only person to get calls like this, so I bet someone’s making a lot of money off this.

Ofcom (the UK telephone regulator) appears to be in the process of reclassifying 0871 numbers as premium-rate (see FAQ 10), so hopefully the happy muppets behind this scam will be out of business soon, but in my experience they’ll be off onto something else soon enough to fleece money from people.


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November 23rd, 2006

I can see clearly now

A year ago today I had LASIK surgery correcting myopia (short sightedness) of around -3.8 in the left eye, and -3.5 in the right, as well as a mild astigmatism. One year down the line my vision is still clear, my right eye slightly sharper than the left, but I don’t need glasses for anything anymore – even such focus-critical tasks like photography.

Before the treatment I had several visits to the clinic to determine my suitability, which including having eye drops to dilate the eye, and having my corneal thickness measured with a probe (a very strange sensation indeed).

The procedure itself is unpleasant rather than painful, and over within 20 minutes or so. I decided against taking a mild sedative, and although it was at times hard work – trying to focus on a red dot when it was so out of focus it was the size of a beachball – the ophthalmic surgeon performing the treatment was very professional and I was kept informed during every step. One word of warning – if you can’t handle the smell of burning hair, this isn’t for you. 

I was driven home by a good friend and driven back the following day by another for the post-op review, looking a bit worse for wear with swollen eyes and a minor corneal scratch that didn’t bother me in the slightest. One all-clear later I was driven home as I still wasn’t able to pilot a car.

I suffered about a week of mild discomfort, with bright lights being a problem, as well has having to use eye drops regularly. Even so, I was legal to drive within two days, and one week later my vision seemed to be pretty much normal.

My pupils were on the border-line for being too large when fully dilated, which means I suffer from halos around bright lights at night, including street and car lights, but it have lessoned over the year and doesn’t pose a problem any more, or I’ve just learned not to notice it any more.

The one problem I suffered from the longest was dry eyes, for at least six months I carried around eye drops (meant for users of contact lenses) to moisten my eyes. Certain environments – smokey or air-conditioned for example – still cause my eyes to dry fairly rapidly, but I always keep some drops in my jacket in case I need them.

All in all, I view it as being a complete success – having worn glasses for 27 years before the surgery, I won’t say my life has transformed, but I will say that things like being able to wake up seeing clearly, sleep without having to remember to take off my specs and have a wide choice of sunglasses available have had nothing but a positive effect on my life.

If you’re thinking of getting LASIK treatment, I would give it a hearty recommendation, but go to a reputable clinic and get a second opinion from another, your eyes are precious and it’s a fairly major intrusion upon them.


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1 comment November 15th, 2006

Greek personality test results

The Oracle
33% Extroversion, 100% Intuition, 27% Emotiveness, 57% Perceptiveness
Heuristic, detached, and analytical to a fault, you are most like The Oracle. You are able to tackle any subject with a fine toothed comb, and you possess an ability to pinpoint nuances and shades of meaning that other people do not have and cannot understand. Accomplishment and realization of ideas are, for you, secondary to the rigorous exploration of ideas and questions — you are, first and foremost, a theorist. You hate authority, convention, tradition, and under no circumstances do you accept a leadership role (although, you will gladly advise leadership when they’re going astray, whether they want you to or not). Abstraction and generalities are your interests, details and particulars are usually inconsequential and uninteresting. You excel at language, mathematics and philosophy.

You are typically easy-going and non-confrontational until someone violates one of the very few principles that you deem sacred, at which point you can fly into a rage. Although you possess a much greater understanding of process and systems than the people around you, you are always conscious of the possibility that you’ve missed something or made a mistake. You don’t tend to become attached to particular theories, and will immediately discard mistaken notions once they’re revealed to be incorrect (but you don’t tolerate iconoclasts who try to discredit validated theories through the use of fallacies and bad data). Despite being outwardly humble, you probably think of yourself as being smarter than most other people. That’s because you are. In fact, in your dealings with people your understanding of their motives is so expansive that you know what they’re going to say before they say it, and in world affairs, you usually know what is going to take place before it actually does. This ability would make you unbeatable in debates if only you were a little less pensive about your own conclusions, and a little more outgoing.

Famous people like you: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, John McWhorter, Ramanujan, Marie Curie, Kurt Godel
Stay clear of: Apollo, Icarus, Hermes, Aphrodite
Seek out: Atlas, Prometheus, Daedalus

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 99% on Extroversion
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You scored higher than 99% on Intuition
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You scored higher than 99% on Emotiveness
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You scored higher than 99% on Perceptiveness

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I don’t know if I’m particularly oracular, but I like to be avuncular.

November 3rd, 2006


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