It is Obvious

Chris Rick has got altogether too much to say

Have you got a big brother?

Posted by chrisrick13 on September 20, 2012

It is obvious: they are not out to get you

When I was running an active company or two the Postman used to like me.  They had a sweepstake in the sorting office for the round with the address with the most mail on given days and he nearly always used to win.  Never offered me any of the winnings though.  There was a long run stretching over many years where post came through the letter box every day.  I was writing software for direct (junk) mail so I felt obliged to take the junk mail that came at me.  It was my proud boast that I could assassinate anyone by causing so much junk mail to arrive at their house that they could not open their front door and would therefore starve to death.

Now I’m out of it I put my name on the lists that stop me getting mail and phone calls and e-mail.  I even thought of putting myself on the dead-list which is a great way to turn marketing material off but thought it might tempt fate too much.  The major mailers in the UK use the lists, but foreign companies do not.  However for simple cost reasons and my efforts I get almost no junk mail through the letter box.  Postie is happy enough as his bag gets lighter and lighter.

The focus has switched to e-mail.  My ISP filters my email.  It filters more than I would like it to, but for a while I checked the spam and marked stuff I wanted each month.  I’m happy now that I don’t miss much.

I also filter.  If anything gets through that I don’t want again I ‘create message from filter’ -> trash, marked as read.  I distribute junk I want to another folder via filters marked as read and I can visit it if an interest arises.  Otherwise it is kept for a while and then automatically removed.  It is a pleasant enough experience.

I have thought of another extreme policy.  I could junk all mail that is not from someone I know and then maintain a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn.  If anyone wants to contact me they can via the social networks and I get all the mail from people I know.  I might go there except that I would have to put HMRC and a few other undesirables into my known list.

Mostly I don’t get junk mail that is not of interest to me.  (The exception is via my androgynous name I used to get offers to increase the size of bits of my body…some of which I had and some of which I didn’t or at least not to any great extent.  I wonder if they mailed everyone in the universe as I can think of no reason why they might target me.)  So I suspect that junk mailers out in the wild world are running their own filters.  They know me.  They know I am not interested in cars, sofas, or clothes.  They do know that I will look at financial stuff, books for sale and cheap flights to Oz and the USA.

So out a lot of organisations that are building up a lot of information about me.  Experian know more about me than I might want them to, but I have stopped one fraud because of them.  HMRC know more about me than I want them to, but I run a clean tax regime and have no interest in evasion so I don’t care.

Here is something scary that occurred while writing this entry.  Last week in my efforts to learn Portuguese I bought the Dummies book as it had a CD so I could listen to pronunciation.  A few minutes ago I got an e-mail from a holiday company I have never heard of before offering me cheap flights to Portugal!  But it’s OK, I fooled them, I’m learning Brazilian Portuguese.

So if I’m ‘legal’ then having just about anyone knowing anything about me is not going to hurt me.  It will hurt if bad guys get hold of the information though.  So for this widespread knowledge about me to be at least neutral I need to have a high bandwidth path to people who can do stuff about it when there is a problem of any sort.

As it stands the bandwidth is low.  For example when I looked at my Experian report and found someone using my name living in Clapham was trying to open a bank account in my name it took most of a morning before I could find someone who could understand what I was saying let alone take an interest.

The agency of last resort is getting a newspaper interested so that they will ask the questions of organisations with the threat of wide publicity…and you know what I think of the media.

Perhaps there is a job opportunity here.

It is obvious: they are not out to get you they just don’t care.

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