Skip to main content

The Price of Love

It's Valentine's Day and the first in three years where the weather has been good. I should know, because Valentine's Day for me is normally a busy date in the flying season for my Airads business, as men - and sometimes women - all over the country propose or send special messages - pictured - to their sweethearts with a banner towed by one of my aircraft.

This year, nothing! Several enquiries and for the first time an attempt to pass-off a stolen credit card for a booking. the latter attempt was almost laughable, because my 'other job', as readers may know, involves a specialisation in crime and fraud.

Being suspicious about the telephone transaction for a flight over Bradford, I told the client, who was booking on behalf of someone else - sounds dodgy - I would call her back and then quickly used some subscription-based tools of my own to cross check her details, discovering that she should be 56 years old. As the caller clearly wasn't, I double checked the registered card address, found a related business telephone number and then called the real "Mrs Smith" to double check 'her' authorisation. The poor lady was really quite surprised and concerned to hear she had earlier booked a Valentine's message flight over an address in Bradford for a girl named "Jaan" and I advised the she immediately contact her bank and cancel her Maestro card; probably get on to Equifax too and make sure her identity wasn't being used for other fraudulent transactions too!

I did try and warn the credit card company, after all, I had the bogus client's mobile phone number too but I if you own a Maestro card, there's no way of people like me reporting such a thing and Visa don't want to know either. It's part of the reason why credit card fraud is such big business and policing it is a shambles; there's too much of it happening and so the banks simply absorb it. However, if you happen to be the merchant involved, even if the card authorises, which this one would have done, the funds would have been reversed the moment a fraud was discovered and so its the business that loses heavily and the fraudster that wins.

Ironically, the other job this week was for Greater Manchester Police with a neighbourhood policing message over the city.

Card fraud aside, even my local greetings card shop tells me that while business was brisk this week, customers are seemingly more cost conscious of their choice of cards, "Me to You" love bears et al. So perhaps under Labour even the price of true love is now becoming too high, which may explain yesterday's figures that married couples are now officially in the minority; perhaps because they can't get a mortgage on the cost of the wedding.

Popular posts from this blog

The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …