Category: My Writings

Moon Studies

Moon Studies

I used the Nikon Coolpix P900 camera to take pictures of the moon, here is an example:

August Moon

I then had the idea of using the moon as a backdrop to create some different images:

Moon Tree

The above image was created using Adobe Photoshop and Topaz Labs Impression. I wanted a soft effect on the moon as this helps remove the noise (a side effect of zooming into the moon). To create the tree, I used a brush to create the silhouette of the tree; it is all about making sure the tree is placed in the correct place; I was going to add more trees but felt one was enough.

To create the tree, I used a brush to create the silhouette of the tree; it is all about making sure the tree is placed in the correct place; I was going to add more trees but felt one was enough.

Face of the Moon

In the above image, again I used Adobe Photoshop and also Topaz Labs Impression to create the soft pastel appearance. I also used Topaz Labs ReStyle to alter the colours to the warm hues. I wanted to create an image based on the crescent shaped moon seen in various forms of media such as television, cartoons, etc. Also in some media, the moon is depicted anthropomorphically.

I wanted to create an image based on the crescent shaped moon seen in various forms of media such as television, cartoons, etc. Also in some media, the moon is depicted anthropomorphically.

I used selection techniques to create the silhouette of the face, which was placed on the moon and positioned. The end result is a crescent moon represented by a face. Indeed this is a subject I will explore further.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the images. If you would like to buy any of the images used, there are various prints available via 500px, DeviantArt and other sites, all links found under the heading Work For Sale on the right of your screen.

5th Anniversary of ‘Thunder Thursday’

5th Anniversary of ‘Thunder Thursday’

This iconic image is a video still taken during the infamous ‘Thunder Thursday’ thunderstorm event that happened 5 years ago on June 28th, 2012, the image shows lightning striking the Tyne Bridge that spans the River Tyne between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead in North East England. The fact that this day is still remembered shows the impact and enormity of the thunderstorms that hit many parts of the UK during that day.

The supercell thunderstorms were caused by cold air riding over very warm humid air; this caused the warm air to surge upwards, creating large thunderclouds. This video will explain it:

The storms produced a large amount of rain, large hail, numerous lightning strikes and even a tornado. Here are a collection of videos to give you an idea of the storm that hit the North East of England with Newcastle and surrounding areas being worst hit:

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North has stood looking over the A1 and A167 roads and East Coast Main Line (Railway) since 1998, therefore next year (2018) will mark the sculptures 20th birthday, let us hope that there is something special planned to celebrate this milestone. The sculpture was designed by Antony Gormley.

According to Gormley, the significance of an angel was three-fold: first, to signify that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to an information age, and third, to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_of_the_North

Here is a documentary of how the Angel of the North was created (the volume is not great so you may need to increase it):

A perspective that we rarely see, the Angel from above:

The Angel of the North is quite a sight when up close and due to its distinctive appearance and size it can be seen from miles around:

Completed in 1998, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across.[1] The wings do not stand straight sideways, but are angled 3.5 degrees forward; Gormley did this to create “a sense of embrace”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_of_the_North

My Photos:

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

The Angel of the North

Angel

Lone Angel

Love it or hate it, the Angel represents reflection of the past and will remain ever present in the future ahead, which is important in these uncertain times ahead. It is a symbol of peace in many ways.

Finally, I found these wonderful films on YouTube that show the reactions to the Angel of the North in Gateshead, some people love it, while others are not so keen, which is definitely fine with the greatest respect to them.




Further reading:

Gift Card and Voucher Scams on Facebook

Gift Card and Voucher Scams on Facebook

There is scam going around where you are offered a £300 gift card from ASDA if you comment, like and share with your friends. Similar scams involving Pizza Hut, and Starbucks have also been going around Facebook too.

Once again, scammers are looking for people to share these scams and even enter personal information such as email addresses, etc which get sold on; these email addresses then receive lots of spam (junk) emails. Some of these spammers get commission be sending you to another site. According to the website Naked Security:

If you read the small print on the offers page it becomes clear that the so-called offer of ASDA vouchers have nothing to do with the supermarket at all, and is not officially endorsed. Furthermore, the small print reveals that they plan to share the personal information you share with them with other direct marketers who may use it to email you and send you junk mail in the post.

http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2011/10/21/shop-for-free-at-asda-free-asda-gift-card-facebook-scam-spreads-rapidly/

A few things to do to avoid such scams:

  • Research into the companies who are supposedly offering this gift cards or vouchers, it would mention such as giveaway on their websites. If there is no mention of a giveaway then it will be a scam,
  • £300 gift card is a large amount to give away, it is too good to be true. The usual saying, “if it is too good to be true, it usually isn’t”,
  • Do not enter any personal information that is asked such as name, addresses and other details. These scammers pray on people who are vulnerable, especially during special times of the year where people are looking for expensive gifts, such as the festive season.

If you see this scam being shared by your friends or family, it will appear on your Facebook timeline. Send a warning to your friends to be more vigilant and report the scam to Facebook.

Read more on the website:

http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/

Related articles

Scam calls that claim to be from Talk Talk

Scam calls that claim to be from Talk Talk

TalkTalk

I received a call recently from a man claiming he was from TalkTalk to inform me that they had found errors on my phone line and they would help me fix the problem. It does sound quite convincing since the caller used my name. I let the caller proceed in which he asked me if I was sitting near my computer. I stopped him and explained that he was a scammer and then hung up. I am one of many people who have received these calls recently.

Unfortunately, many people fall victim to the scam because the caller will use the account holders name, address and account number, therefore trying to sound genuine. The scammer will then ask to put a code into your computer which will enable him or her to access your computer remotely. Here is a snippet from a Which? member where the scam cost him £5,000:

After accessing my PC remotely, he said I was entitled to a refund of £200 for the problems I’d had. Using remote access software, he directed me to my Santander online bank account, where it appeared that he had credited £5,000 into my account in error.

The caller told me to send the money back, which I did using MoneyGram. But I have since found out that it was a scam. He had directed me to a copycat website. Is there anything I can do?

http://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/phone-scam-talktalk-broadband-customer/

TalkTalk are reassuring people that no financial information was taken when customer details were stolen last year. Here is another snippet from the thisismoney.co.uk website:

Luckily, no sensitive financial information, such as bank account numbers, was taken in the latest TalkTalk scandal, but to a conman that does not matter. With convincing patter like this, they will be able to trick their way into the trust of many households.

That’s what happened to 62-year-old Graeme Smith in February. He was duped out of £2,815 by fraudsters who cold-called him and claimed to be from TalkTalk.

Graeme, a semi-retired HR consultant from Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, was convinced there was a problem with his computer as he had been receiving a lot of spam email.

So when the fraudster called he thought it made sense. The conmen told Graeme they needed to solve a problem with his computer, but that TalkTalk would pay him £250 in compensation for the inconvenience he had suffered. A list of banks appeared on his screen and Graeme was told to select his own.

Somehow the fraudsters managed to get his bank, Santander, to send a password to Graeme’s mobile phone. He was then tricked into handing this over to the fraudsters, who used it to empty his account.

TalkTalk refuses to pay him compensation – though it did waive a £169 charge to leave his contract. Now Graeme plans to take them to court.

‘TalkTalk may not have handed my bank details to the fraudsters, but it’s their fault I was placed in that position at all,’ he says.

Graeme had no idea how the scammers got hold of his details, but he assumes that they were obtained from a previous data breach.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-3302475/Beware-scammers-claim-TalkTalk-Listen-call-reveals-fraudsters-dirty-tricks.html

Similar scams where callers claim they are from BT-Internet or from Microsoft Windows are also common and people do fall for them. They claim that there is a problem with your computer and that they will fix it.

They ask you to enter a code into the computer, if you proceed, the scammer can see what is on your computer and even control it; that is a scary thought.

Here is another snippet from the thisismoney.co.uk website that explains how a scammer named David can gain remote access to a computer:

He [David] tells me the information he has about my computer comes from Microsoft Windows: ‘We have been informed by Microsoft that someone is trying to hack your computer.’

He directs me to turn it on and then gives me a series of instructions to get the ‘Start’ menu to pop up.

Things get confusing when I point out I don’t have the operating program Microsoft on my computer because I have an Apple Mac. (Apple uses a different operating system). David is quickly back on track, though, and gets me to open a website, http://www.support.me.

The screen is virtually blank apart from a square grey box in the middle. It says: Support Connection. And in the middle there is space to type in a six-digit code.

It all looks legitimate. But if you type in the code the person on the other end of the line can get access to your computer.

That means from anywhere in the world someone can see exactly what is happening on your screen. They can search through your files, download programs on to your computer to spy on what you’re doing and which keys you press if you do online banking, and put viruses on your computer that will render it useless.

Luckily, they can’t do this unless you give them access, and that can be done only by entering the code into the box. That’s what David wants me to do next.

‘When you bought the computer, there was a six-digit code provided to you. Can you input that code?’ David instructs me.

I rack my brain for the code. Of course, no code exists – it’s just another attempt to win my trust. Who would remember a code from a computer bought years ago?

He’s trying to lower my guard for the next bit when I tell him I can’t remember ever getting a code.

‘It doesn’t matter. I can provide you with one,’ says David – and he reads one out.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-3302475/Beware-scammers-claim-TalkTalk-Listen-call-reveals-fraudsters-dirty-tricks.html

Here is a screenshot of the support me website mentioned above:

image

Once you enter a six digit code, the scammer can take control of your computer to read your files or install viruses or other malware; it is truly scary.


Social Engineering

This scam comes under the term ‘Social Engineering’.

Social engineering can be elaborate and is generally highly convincing, with approaches usually made by somebody you trust or in authority. It is sometimes made more believable by snippets of information which the fraudsters already have about you.

Private individuals and businesses can both be victims of social engineering.


So what can you do to avoid being scammed:

Here are some tips from the Get Safe Online website:

  • Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs, or ID numbers
  • Be very careful that people or organisations to whom you are supplying payment card information are genuine, and then never reveal passwords. Remember that a bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password via email or phone call.
  • If you receive a phone call requesting confidential information, verify it is authentic by asking for a full and correct spelling of the person’s name and a call back number.
  • If you are asked by a caller to cut off the call and phone your bank or card provider, call the number on your bank statement or other document from your bank – or on the back of your card – but be sure to use another phone from the one you received the call on. If you cannot access another phone, be sure to hang up for at least five minutes before you dial out, or call a friend (whose voice you recognise) before making another call.
  • Do not open email attachments from unknown sources.
  • Do not readily click on links in emails from unknown sources. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from the email.
  • Do not attach external storage devices or insert CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs into your computer if you are not certain of the source, or just because you are curious about their contents.

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/social-engineering/

Further reading: