Technology … a security risk or not?

Is life so hectic in the fast lane that some folk cannot even waste time putting their Pin numbers into the card machine?

I mean, how long does it take to punch in four or five digits? Four or five seconds?

I was recently taken aback at the supermarket when I was asked to place my card on the machine, tap it and go. “Is that all?” I asked incredulously. “No Pin number required?” “Not for the amount you spent today.
“If it had been over R200, we would have needed your Pin.”

I left the shop in shock and pounced on the supermarket manager standing in the entrance. “Why suddenly no Pin number?”
Turned out he was cross too…but with his bank.

“They never asked my permission,” he said. “My Pin has always been my security. It’s all very well to say there’s a R200 limit on Tap and Go, but if I lose my card, or leave it in the machine, the finder could quickly go to half a dozen shops and run up a R1 000 of my money.”

Another supermarket manager with banking knowledge told me that the banks are aware of that possibility.
That’s why multiple Tap and Go purchases will require a Pin number. Also, he said, if clients prefer they can set a limit of their purchases to as little as R50.

The public’s response to Tap and Go has largely been defined by age. The Centennials, born 1996 and later, are more accepting than the Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.

A future shocker for the older generation is that paying for shopping by tapping a smartphone at a contactless point of sale is also in the pipeline, but won’t happen until the special phone and the relevant app required, are both readily available.

Fresh from the sea

A generous Langebaan fishing friend presented us with a whole fresh white stumpnose big enough for four. We’d often enjoyed this fish cooked by him at his home but a DIY scenario required some advice.

So we hauled out our ancient, food-bespattered copy of Free from the Sea by Lannice Snyman and Anne Klarie. First published in 1979 by Don Nelson, this book and Lannice’s equally successful 1983 Braai in Style have each sold more than 150 000 copies to help thousands of South Africans make a tasty fish supper or a braai worth eating.

Just seeing Lannice’s name on the cover made me feel sad. Cheated almost.

I had seen Lannice and her husband Michael at a wine launch in Constantia in late February 2010 when both seemed in good form and health.

A few weeks later I would read with shock of her death on Sunday May 9 at the age of 63. Behind her very public image she had been privately losing the battle against stomach cancer.

Fortunately for us, the fish had been gutted and scaled by the fisherman. That meant we only had to concentrate on making Lannice’s tangy bacon and mushroom stuffing while a good friend who also loves fishing, closed the stumpnose with toothpicks (no darning needles around) and decorated the skin with slices of tomatoes, onions and basil flowers.

A white sauce flavoured with the stock from the oven-cooked fish produced a delicious result, thanks to Lannice.

Feeling foggy

This year’s Langebaan full and half marathons on April 21 were dominated by heavy fog which blanketed the lagoon and the West Coast National Park.

I know because from 7.15am I was shivering at the gate of our weekend cottage, near the park’s entrance, to cheer on three runners doing the half.

Even when I heard the thud of approaching feet, I couldn’t see a thing.

Not till the subdued light of a 
motorbike pierced the fog and dimly lit the tarred road for the first five leaders.

By the time my three friends had passed the gate, the visibility was marginally better but the runners would have to wait till they turned in the park for home to appreciate the beautiful sunny morning and the tranquil lagoon in the distance.

What I didn’t expect was that our dogs had been attracted by the amplified music coming from refreshment stations and had decided to investigate.

Mitch, the black Lab, found me at the gate and quietly lay down to watch the passing runners. Nine-month-old Peri, always ready for an adventure and the hope of food, was having a ball jumping around the team manning the refreshment table at the top of Black Mamba Hill. Dragging her reluctantly home without a lead was only one kilometre, but it felt like 21.1.

Rain glorious rain

Wasn’t the rain last Wednesday marvellous? It brought out all sorts of positive reactions in people around me.

Two were rushing off to buy rain gauges… so in future they would know exactly, and not just guess, how much rain had fallen.

For others the rain all day reminded them of their long ago July school holidays when it poured day after day for three solid weeks… or so they insisted.

Somehow the passing years had not softened their views. I vividly remember during my school hols growing to hate the persistent rain. I was almost daily forced to play indoor table tennis with far superior players when I knew I could beat them on an outside court!

Work up a sweat

Instead of calling the bathroom the “John” rename it the “Jim”. You’ll feel so much better saying “I went to the Jim this morning.”