Archive for March, 2007


Its never nice when it happens but it looks like I’m a victim of fraud. A while ago I sold my old Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop on eBay so I could purchase one that was more suited to my needs. There was nothing wrong with the machine, it had served me well, but it was time for the drive to be wiped and for it to find a new home.

Like many people I figured eBay would be the best place to sell the laptop and indeed purchase a new one, so I took a photo and listed it. After a few hiccups where Nigerian scammers attempted to get me to send the laptop to Lagos I sold the laptop to a local person (relatively speaking anyway) who requested to be able to pickup after paying for the item. I agreed to this and so after receiving the payment in a completed state via paypal I provided my address for him to collect. He did so the next day.

Things started to go wrong a few days later when paypal put a hold on the funds that had been sent to me in the sale for “Investigation”. While rather unusual I have known this to happen before, especially with larger payments and as such wasn’t too concerned and decided to see what came of it. I did hold off leaving the buyer feedback in case there was a problem.

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse some weeks later when I got confirmation from paypal via e-mail that the funds had in fact been reversed and I was both without laptop and payment. Only recently have I spoken to paypal and found there is categorically no way to recover the funds through them and that the buyer used fraudulent means to transfer them to me in the first place.

This leaves me in a nasty state of limbo. I want to take more action but feel I’m rapidly reaching the end of the line in what I *can* actually do. I’ve got eBay to place an unpaid item strike on the users account, but this has only served to get me my final value fees and listing fees back, a mere £15 compared with a £400 sale. Contacting the buyer proved useless; no response was received to e-mails and the phone number listed turned out the be a Keighley take away shop.

I noted however that the buyer had logged onto and used his eBay account because he had bought further items (laptops and computers) from other sellers, no doubt intending to defraud them too. I contacted one seller (who sold an expensive item to him before me) and was told that the sale was in fact OK, but I decided to leave negative feedback in order to warn other sellers about this individual. I also made a note of the other sellers who had sold to him in case I needed to contact them, after all if he’d defrauded a whole lot of us then we had strength in numbers. Surprise, surprise within hours of leaving the negative feedback the buyer made his feedback private. So he can log on and access his account when it suits him, but not read my messages which were there for him also – clearly a fraud.

The problem is where to go from here. I could contact the police, but with such a low (relatively speaking anyhow) priced item they are unlikely to investigate the case, at least not to a point where I get the money or the laptop and its likely to use up a fair whack of my time speaking to them and filling in forms. An insurance claim is useless as I intended to sell the item – it wasn’t stolen from me in the direct sense – so they haven’t have any interest in it. The last option I considered was a debt collection agency as I have a name and address for the individual, but I can’t be sure if the details are correct and all agencies have fees associated with them and I could stand to lose yet more money if they cannot trace the buyer.

All suggestions and comments are welcome of course, but it looks like I’ve lost the laptop with no payment and thats really not a nice situation to be in, in fact I’m rather unhappy and annoyed to be honest 🙁

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What goes around

Everybody has heard the phrase “What goes around, comes around” but there is one thing I never thought we’d see the mass return of – chain e-mails. First we had chain letters, then when everyone went mad over Hotmail and MSN Messenger we had chain e-mails. The latter certainly promised bad luck if you didn’t send them on, but I believe both carried some form of text strongly encouraging you to not break the chain.

Well, they are back! Not in letter form, not even in e-mail, but in the form of facebook notes. A lot of them have been altered to suit the format of facebook (mentioning walls etc.) but they are certainly the same old chain mail kind of thing. The wonderful thing about this re-incarnation is that is shows how many people actually *want* to take part. With e-mails everyone got one, like it or not, so it was a real pain if , like me, you resented the deluge of “Fwd” e-mails appearing in your box. Now though you only see peoples forwarding work on the feed page and so you can ignore it if you want. As such, I was amazed at how many people are taking part in this.

I really thought that these were just some school kid idea of a way to avoid doing homework in the evenings but clearly not. All I can say is there must be an awful lot of university courses that either are not being engaged in fully by students or that aren’t giving students enough to do!

The one downside of it all is that people using the notes to do some serious blogging are finding their readers have their feed aggregation page polluted by such messages and as such are not reading the good blogs as often as they might, or even not at all as the chain type notes tend to be long and the thin format of the facebook pages mean that a lot of scrolling is required to get past them. This perhaps is something facebook should address, but quite how they would I’m not sure. Maybe they could just display a summary on the feed aggregation page and so reduce the need for scrolling and also making it easier to see the more serious posts on offer.

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Brilliant few days

Hard work but brilliant would be the one line summary of my stay on Burnaby these last few days. I traveled to the East coast late on Sunday morning and was already hard at work by 2pm. Having a boat is wonderful but there is a lot of work involved in getting her ready for the sailing season.

This year, the to-do list looked something like this:

  • Take off winter covers
  • Remove old varnish off deck rail
  • Sand deck rail
  • Varnish deck rail (3 coats)
  • Rub down lower half of the hull
  • Paint anti-foul onto lower half of hull
  • Paint the black waterline
  • Polish the top half of the hull
  • Repair broken water pipe on starboard water tank
  • Fix bangs and scrapes in top half of hull

Every job brings us one step closer to being ready to sail though and its a superb feeling. Being away from daily life was also very enjoyable. Friends will have to pinch themselves to believe that I didn’t actually touch a computer during my nearly 5 days away, and my phone was off except for when I switched it on to call Heather on occasion. All this means I’m much less stressed and clearer in my head about what I have got to do and how to go about doing it. Running a business isn’t difficult, but without a good break the workload can be confusing and overloading.

In the evenings we had some nice sunsets and as ever I had my camera on hand. I’ve taken a few shots and will try to get them online for all to see soon.

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Boat work

Its that time of the year again when I help get Burnaby ready for the next sailing season. Theres lots of work to be getting on with from painting to polishing but as always its fun because its one step closer to getting out on the sea again. As usual this means I won’t be contactable for the next few days, but hopefully I should return rested, less stressed and more productive. I hope to take a few pictures on the coast as well 🙂

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Boat Work Sunset

Boat Work Sunset

While working on the boat we had a beautiful sunset ot two so I thought I’d try out my tripod and capture one of them on camera

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Norm is blogging

Although regularly using facebook notes to express his thoughts and feelings, Norm hasn’t previously had a proper blog. Today however marks the first day when he has a place on the web to call his own. You can check out Norman Ralph’s blog here and if you know Norm and blog yourself then please update your blogrolls. I’m hosting it for him on my server and have added a few plugins for additonal, improved and spam-free functionality and a placid, clean looking theme to get him off the ground. I wish you every success with your blog Norm!

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Home with family

Starting this weekend I’m back home with my family. Its been three months since I was last back in St. Albans and its nice to take a break from the daily grind in Leeds and catch up with things back here. Just today alone I had a meal with my parents and chatted to a few friends on the phone who I hope to meet up with in the coming days. I had a tripod delivered to the house this morning (bargain on amazon) so I hope to be able to take some time out and work on my photography as well. As ever contacting me will be a little more sketchy than usual so please bear with me if I take a little while to get back to your e-mail or return your call. I hope everyone else has a good Easter break wherever you might be.

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Busier at the end of term

You wouldn’t believe it but its true, I’ve seemingly been more busy after term has finished than during it. I’ve been filing lots of notes and lecture slides, planning my revision schedule and catching up on a bit of reading. This is of course not mentioning the various bits of work I’ve been doing for clients.

Already I’m looking forward to summer when I will have more time on my hands and can not only get a little more done but also relax a little bit too.

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Gateshead Jazz Festival

Last Sunday I headed up to Gateshead with Dave Falcus to take in a couple of concerts and the Gateshead International Jazz Festival. It was a superb day and an action packed one at that.

We drove up to Newcastle and had lunch in a small but enjoyable pub on a road just off from the Tyne river and then did a bit of sight-seeing. I took the opportunity to take some photographs and enjoy some of the views from some of the vantage points around the city. For architecture Newcastle is an amazing city and an enjoyable one to walk through as you take in the sights of tall, well constructed Georgian buildings. There are lots of small and interesting places you can explore and having the company of Dave who used to live in Newcastle was very handy for this.

We went to two concerts at the sage concert venue; first off was Andy Sheppard and his wonderful skills as both a saxophonist and a composer. I’ve only recently gotten into his music in any serious way, but it was great to see him play live and has prompted me to go in search of more of his music. While I only own onw of his albums and haven’t many tracks from others the sound of his playing is unmistakable and gabbed me in the hall the moment he began his set on stage. It was a great concert and one I’m sure will leave a lasting impression in my mind.

The second concert was Branford Marsallis and was clearly a popular event simply based on the number of free seats in the hall (read none). I need not go into how superb Branford Marsallis is as a musician but what was particularly impressive was the band he had going for the concert. His quartet really is a musical feast and makes for the perfect evening of jazz. The set was just the right length (being at the end of the evening) but the quality of playing was quite simply stunning from everyone on stage, especially the pianist and drummer who both pulled off superb solo performances in true traditional jazz style.

After all the concerts we stayed behind to get some CDs signed and then drove back to Leeds. By the time we returned home it was gone midnight and we were pretty shattered after all the travelling and walking around but it was a trip well worth making.

For those interested I took some photos during the sight-seeing parts of the day.

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Holst : The Planets

I enjoy classical music but it doesn’t form the bulk of my music collection. One collection of classical music I am particularly fond of however is Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”. The music takes you on a magical journey of war, peace, mystery and serenity all wrapped up in a package we are all familiar with – our solar system. I first heard The Planets as a child on vinyl and have enjoyed it ever since.

It was therefore with great pleasure that I was able to see my first ever live performance of The Planets at the town hall in Leeds, performed by the Leeds University Music Society orchestra. Heather and I got tickets at the last minute but I’m so glad we did as the performance was breathtaking. I knew the music practically note for note but even so I was still amazed by the sound. It filled the hall and the orchestra really used the building to the best possible advantage. Jupiter is my favorite piece and was played to absolute perfection. You could have heard a pin drop when it ended – everyone was so caught up in it.

My favorite part of the whole concert however had to be Neptune, right at the end, where a choir sing a set of notes that fade out that are really rather desolate and haunting. They made use of the concert hall however in this performance by the choir filing out while still singing and then walking along the corridors at the top so although getting fainter by the second it seemed to be filling the room more. Magic just doesn’t do this performance justice.

I must praise the Music Society orchestra for their superb level of skill and commitment. This was quite simply the best charity concert I have ever been to and I will most certainly be supporting them in their classical music efforts next year.

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