Imagining new year’s resolutions

Steve Jobs

One of my new year resolutions is to stop “putting things away in a safe place”. Cor! The hours wasted hunting for handbag, purse, car keys or laptop which have been hastily hidden in case some opportunist should break in and grab them while we are on a dog walk.

So far it hasn’t happened, yet I remain obsessed about hiding my handbag. Safe places include behind a bathroom towel, among shoes in the wardrobe or in the linen cupboard. I’ve never resorted to shoving anything into the deepfreeze but who knows…
The latest items to be put away safely have been lost for three weeks. And they’re not even valuable. They are Stylus A and Stylus B which I intended trying out on my new tablet.

I call them A and B because I am not sure of the plural of stylus – “styli” is the preferred plural over “styluses” as the word is of Latin not Greek origin, but if stylus had the Greek form “stylos”, then the plural would be “styloi”. For simplicity, I put both in an envelope marked “Pens” and tossed them into my overnight bag for Langebaan. And that’s the last I’ve seen of them.

Which is why I am deftly using my fingers typing this column on my Samsung tablet knowing Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, would approve. “As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead”, he said on hearing of Microsoft’s plan for a tablet with a stylus.
In Walter Isaacson’s comprehensive biography of Jobs he tells how the brilliant but explosive designer insisted Apple make a tablet without keyboard or stylus, calling for a multi-touch feature to process multiple in-puts at the same time. A crude prototype was produced in six months.

In Matthew Lynn’s Sunday Times article recently, he described how 20 years ago, when Jobs returned to Apple, he launched the iPod, iPad and the iPhone which made Apple the biggest company in the world.

“Yet five years after his death….Apple is about as innovative as the village council… Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a fantastically creative entrepreneur. A Facebook-Apple combination, with Zuckerberg in charge of the combined entity, could dominate the 21st century”.

What a thought!

Phishing for passwords…

Some shoppers are in for a bitter surprise when they discover that a recent email supposedly from the Standard Bank announcing a R6 900 payment for UCount rewards, is a fake. Even worse, if as requested they have divulged their password and PIN number to register for this payout, their bank accounts may have been looted.

That nearly happened to us over the New Year. The email looked an authentic banking document, supported by the familiar logos of the nine stores involved in UCount rewards. At the bottom of the page came the reassuring words: “Standard Bank is a licensed financial service provider etc…”

Our dream ended sharply on noticing the misspelling of the email address: “ibsupkk5port@standardybank.”. We didn’t think the banky would like that. Nor the cheek and cruelty of the third email that came from””
We hastily changed the passwords and checked the bank accounts.

Phoning the Blue Route branch to report the suspected phishing was not an option – more than 52 branches have the same share call number. Instead we were first in the queue to hear confirmation from the charming assistant that the bank would never ask for 
personal banking details by email; that UCount rewards were not paid out that way; and yes, this act 
of fraud had already been reported.

All we needed was a new credit card with different PIN numbers.

When many householders have overspent at Christmas, this unexpected R6 900 bonus would have been a godsend, particularly with expensive school uniforms to be bought. Instead it was a crafty and mean example of phishing to obtain user names, passwords, credit card details and, indirectly, money, disguised as a trustworthy entity in an email.

A pecking good gift

Bergvliet High School’s adult education programme last year provided me with a simple home–made present which proved a great deal of fun. It was a bird feeder made from two small pine cones, rubbed with something (peanut butter probably) then rolled in bird seed.

I hung both up at Langebaan. One over a busy bird bath and the other in a tamarisk. Nothing happened for hours. Then a curious weaver bird came to investigate the cone above the bath. Next thing he was hanging upside down eagerly trying to peck off the seed.

It was slow, hard work. So he tried to speed things up. He stood on the branch and with his beak cleverly pulled up the string from which the cone was dangling, trying to land it on that branch. Every time it fell off and swung temptingly beyond his reach. He tried repeatedly without success. It was very funny to watch.

We never saw one bird at the other feeder, but both cones were cleaned by the following day. I’ve brought them back to Tokai to recharge with seeds and will watch carefully what happens next…

Trimming the weed

After some hiccough over the contracts, the council have finally cut the metre-high weeds and grass on the Keyser River path. What a relief. It just needed a match or a cigarette butt to set off a terrible fire.

Take and go

Zsa Zsa Gabor who died recently (1917 – 2016) was known for her sayings. “I am a marvellous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”