Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February: Love Month?

Wow - reviewing the posts shows that this month I've been obsessed with romance and so forth. In google+ I've been a tad more varied, but there has still be a shift of emphasis towards things lovey-dovey with a bit of sex thrown in.

Next month should see a shift of focus to work and finance - with a but of politics.
But I am also actively seeking romance - I seem to be about ready and no longer so vulnerable and needy as I was so ... time to dive back into the waters. This means you'll probably see a few posts about how I'm doing.

So I think I'll draw a line under this now.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Seeking Romance online?

Here's a couple of templates for contact emails.

The first is if you have been approached by email, you are interested, and the email passes the basic bullshit tests. Your first response will set the tone for the ensuing discussion. You want something like the following:
Dear [contact] ;
I am very excited to recieve your email and I am very interested.
However, I have had contacts like this before only to have my hopes dashed.
I have also heard that sometimes people receiving these contacts can unscrupulously take advantage of the person making first contact.
It is in order to protect you as well as me that I want to lay down some ground-rules to remain in force while we get to know each other.
1. Neither of us will ask the other for any money - we both understand that such requests will result in no further contact.
2. Neither of us will send money to the other under any cicumstances.
In addition to this, I would welcome a recent and verifiable photograph of you. The photos you have sent aready are wonderful, but they could be of anyone and taken at any time. It is easy to do: have your picture taken in front of a landmark that I can recognise while you are holding a copy of the local paper for the day your picture is taken. I need to be able to see the headline.
It is usual for the person making first contact to send one of these. Once I have recieved it, I shall send you a similar photo of me.
I feel that honesty is important for building trust in a relationship.
Once point 1 and 2 are agreed to, and the requested photos are exchanged, I feel I will be able to relax more with you.
The more verifiable information we exchange after that, the more we will grow together in trust.
Looking forward to your response;

Notice that the two bullet points will eliminate most scammers from the get-go. It is possible that someone who is genuine will be put off by the suspicion ... but, if so, then you can do without them anyway. The attitude that you are acting to protect the both of you should be inoffensive.

If they don't explicitly agree with the points, insist. The photo is more flexable - there are other ways to satisfy the same demands. But if the contact has a cell phone, though, then they almost certainly have a camera so it is a reasonable request.

Remember - whatever you think of yourself as a "catch", they have approached you - if they are really serious about the contact, then they will provide what you want.

The next one is if you are the person making first contact. Ideally you have already made some contact in social media or other means but you don't have to and you may be reluctant to do this in a public forum anyway. You will certainly have been checking them out online so at the first contact you know more about them than they know about you: it is up to you to make them feel comfortable. The following should be well received by anyone net-savvy:

Dear [target];
We havn't met but I have been following you on [named] social network for a while and, though I have not agreed with everything, I quite like what you have written - especially the ones about [subject]  because [descriptive].
I see from your profile that you are interested in romance and dating - I like you so far and I'm game if you are. Please find my public profile [link] , and feel free to research me online before replying. In fact, I urge you to do this.
I know that lots of these sorts of emails are scammers so I want to assure you that I will never ask for money. If you are interested, I am prepared to send you a recent verifiable picture of me so you know I am really real, and we can arrange to continue this via video chat using [service] or, perhaps, another if you prefer.
It is always scary approaching someone for the first time.

Notice how it compliments the other one - you are anticipating likely suspicions, and responding by being open and checkable. You still need to protect yourself - so do not reveal you phone number or your physical address until the relationship has progressed somewhat. A useful benchmark is to wait for face-to-face meeting and decide after that. Video-chat would count as F2F if you are in different countries.

I've also assumed that your target has openly solicited romance in some other forum - if they have not, then any romantic approach may be unwelcome: be warned. Don't get upset if you are ignored. Don't be in a hurry. Ease up on the pics and personal info. Take no for an answer (no reply = no.)

That should be all you need.
Have fun.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Other Shoe Drops

Email from Natalia today.
She says her travel agent wants 475 euros for fees and visa costs before the 12th of March and what do you know she does not have the money and there is a penalty fee if she doesn't... can I send money?

Well... not before the 12th darling! Anyway, that's very expensive - NZ does not charge Russians for a visitor visa so, apart from Russian travel papers (passport maybe) the fee should have been minimal. There have been a lot of questions anyway - however, as long as she was paying her own way here, they could wait. Hell, she could have been a six-headed gorgon and it would have been OK.

But now the questions demand immediate answer.

You will recall that the only reason I was entertaining the emails at all was that they gave negative results on the basic scam checks? The addy wasn't spoofed, the body text had no hits, and the photo produced only one hit on a Russian dating/facebook thing with consistent information. A quick test showed a human actually reading my emailed replies and checking me out online - so far so good.

After that the inconsistencies add up.

  1. Why did she not finalize my arrangement to send her flowers?
  2. Why not send me the photo I wanted: her outside her apartment in Moscow? (She just ignored this request.)
  3. When the phone call did not work, why not buy a new sim-card - they are 30 or so euros (I checked) and I would have paid for that no problem!

Well - clearly - she is no longer in Moscow, so she can't.
(Her photos were taken in Russia, but they are clearly old.)

Today I did something I should have done at the start - I traced her IP.
Her emails originate on a server in the UK.

More checking: her vkontakte page is no longer visible to the public, but her pictures are now showing up on anti-scam sites like this one. Yep - those are the pics I have all right. I have many more, so I'll have to upload them.

Oh but it gets more interesting - I reran the first pic I tested, the one that had only one hit before? Now it has lots - all for dodgy dating sites and escort agencies - like the ones in the links. You can grab the pic and do your own search if you want. They are actually all the same site dressed to look like different ones.

This sort of thing does make me sad but it was more fun than I thought it would be.
Any women watching and wondering will now know what it takes to get me. ;)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Romance gets closer

I tried calling Natalya on Valentine's Day, but could not get through.
Turns out that her phone can only be called from inside the Russian Fed. This is technically good news. If she was part of an organized "Russian Dating" scam, I'd have been given a phone number I could actually contact right?

I emailed Natalia about it and we will be working out another way to talk.
But also, she says she does not expect me to pay her airfare to NZ! We are almost at the best possible option here ... all I need is a recent photo and that is the last verification needed. Which is great since I'm having a real struggle keeping a level head over this woman.

She also pointed out that she would not be giving me any money either ... it seems she has some of the same concerns. All of which points to her being the real deal. Just need that photo.

I'm so excited I can't keep still!
Dr. Brook Magnanti has a book out, based on her blog. As a result, many of the most useful parts of the blog have been deleted. Which is really annoying! By restricting those articles to the dead-tree form, she has restricted their usefulness: I cannot make a link to a book page when I want to make an example.

By comparison, Bruce Schneier also has a book of compiled articles from his blog - but has left the blog entries up.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Acid test approaches on romantic front

You'll remember Natalya ask if I'd like to visit, and suggested I stay in her 1-room apartment (that is Russian 1-room, which means there is also a toilet, a kitchen, and a bathroom ... so it is a like a NZ bedsit).

Well anyway - I said "Spring" and she got back to me much sooner than expected and says she cannot have me over after all because her parents are staying with her until they can get a new apartment. I'm thinking that this is very crowded for a bedsit and surely they'll find a new place before Spring anyway but what-ever: apartments are quite costly in Moscow, I checked.

Instead she suggests that she comes to me and soon ... now I'm thinking hmmm: I was sort of hoping to confirm a few things first. So I have replied that she is welcome but I want to have a video-chat first, and can she send me a verifiable photograph? If she is genuine and honest there can be little to object about - I've send her my updated photo and she can ask for what verification she likes of me.

This should be the acid test.

  1. She could break it off, in which case it wasn't serious anyway and I'm saved the airfare to Moscow.
  2. She could ignore the request and ask for money to help with her airfare - in which case it is a con-job.
  3. She could send the information requested and we will talk - but she still wants help with costs (I'll play that one by ear.)
  4. She could send the information etc and tell me when he flight will be arriving having got the ticket herself: best case scenario! There is still the back-of-the-mind possibility of an immigration scam but all the really nasty ones will have been disproved in one go.

So... fingers crossed.

New pics

Taken a new pic of me...
I need a shave ... haircut too. 
However, it looked better than I expected so I figured I'd base a new profile pic on it.
Looks better than the old one - what do people think?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Treat her right

I thought I'd share:
Anyone who lives with a woman knows that some times of the month are more trying than others ... we are all adults and we can use words like menstruation and so forth without cringing right? Right!

Anyway: I've wrestled with this for a while and came up with something that actually works quite a lot of the time.

The first problem is to deal with the name. There is too much baggage with practically anything proper so I cast around for something improper that had the kind of spin I wanted and hit on "moontime". I need to know when her moontime is coming so I can be extra sensitive around that time and I may be distracted ... tell her that and she'll keep you posted.

The next bit is that she will be thinking "oh no, my moontime again" or something similar. I've noticed women beat themselves up at the drop of a hat and beating someone else up is really just light relief. The secret is, when the moontime goes from tension to the actual bleed, celebrate.

You may think that's an odd thing to celebrate but trust me it is a great idea.

Have a special evening for her, and don't let her do housework or cooking or anything unless it is something that especially lights her up. No chores. Special dinner - wine - the works. Chick movie - foot massage - essential oils - you know the drill. It's worth making an effort and importantly: don't expect her to put out. Banish that idea - you are being sensitive, selfless, and caring. It's an investment.

And you know what? No more PMS in most cases.
When she feels the tension build she will be all "Oh goody, celebration time." And she'll happily tell you about it good and early so you'll be ready. Sometimes she'll want to do something for you too and that is good because it means it's working ... but make sure she understands that you are OK without and this is her special time no pressures or expectations and you have to mean it.

Even when the PMS is usually pretty bad, this approach makes it shorter in duration. The bonus is that the other end of the month lasts longer, and that is where all this investment pays off big time.

Note: this works if you are a man or a woman with a woman partner - though with two women their moontimes often synchronize and they need to do something special together ... I mean really: I can't solve everything.

That's it in a nutshell, customize to the individual and enjoy.

On the romantic front

I seem to be in the crosshairs of a Russian woman ... yes, the one I thought was a scam earlier.
So far she's passing the reality checks though my worse, untrusting, side points out that scammers can read online dating safety sites too.

I know she reads what I write now, at least sometimes, so.... Hi Natalya!
I'm also interested to find out if anyone else reading this is from Moscow.

I can't help but be excited which I suppose is both pathetic and sweet of me. It's certainly fun so far so even if nothing else happens it's all good.

She's asked me if I want to visit - which is a yes except.... it's 8 degrees and snowing right now.
Perhaps in spring - which is supposed to be a good time to visit Moscow. Anyway - I want a f2f via videochat before I spend $1200 on a return flight. (Maybe I can get work in Moscow and then it's a one way shutupshutupshutup... see what I'm facing? I'm my own worst enemy.) I've kinda wanted to visit Russia for a... there I go again.

Right now she knows far more about me that I do about her. I'm going to have to redress the balance before I make travel plans ... yes yes I know I checked the airfares but that's not the same as planning the trip. No it isn't. Go away.
I've been keeping an eye on other people's use of Ubuntu with my brand of lappy (hp Envy).
Good news: everything is reported working with Ubuntu 11.10 ... that took a while to try out. I've been reluctant to change before April for 12.04 though which is the next LTR.

The example appears to have been a clean install while I'll be upgrading so I'll see how I go.


New technology usually spoils someone's pie. When the bridge was built across Auckland Harbor, a lot of vehicle ferry operators lost their livelihood. There was a toll on the bridge in those days - but the toll was to help pay the the upkeep of the bridge. It _could_ have been set to a bit more than the cost of a vehicle ferry ticket to protect the ferry trade but it wasn't. In fact, it wasn't even thought of. I'm sure it was the same for Golden Gate, Sydney Harbor and other places.

Now it seems certain industries did not see the digital age coming. Maybe - but neither, it appears, did Kodak. Did we pass laws requiring memory sticks to be taken to the chemist to get the jpegs off them? There are camera companies that survived the shift - they just don't make money of film so much these days. Profits take a hit yes, this is economics 101 welcome to capitalism.

So the tech has changed and now profits are down boo hoo cry me a river... I'd be more sympathetic if profits were actually down but even if that were true the artists will still survive this as well, or as badly, as they always have.

We will still have art.

It is the middle-men who have made a living by being a nessisary evil who have to do the changing. Maybe they can now take up a useful career standing around nuclear reactors as radiation shielding? Or maybe, I don't know, maybe they could actually provide a useful service to artists ... there's a thought.

Kill ACTA quick before it breeds!

... better out than in.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Contraception encourages promiscuity ... is an oft-repeated argument. I've sometimes wondered why this counts as an argument againstcontraception but ho hum when I hear it I am reminded of Gulag Archipelago in which Solzenitzen relates how one camp had the mens and womens compounds next to each other. They were separated by razor-wire and a dog run and yet the zeks still managed to get some illicit nookie in. The woman would back-up against the wire while the man braved the dogs.

Considering that dogs, guns, and sharp wire were not enough to keep people apart, what chance has mere laws?

Personally I'd encourage safer sex. The more the merrier. There are so many other things sexually frustrated people could be getting up to that are much more destructive. Let's return to the free love ethos - now without the disease risks.