Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Phishing for wealth

Yours, to be precise.

Every couple of months, there’s a new article in the newspapers of the latest phishing scam involving your bank contacting you by email, and requiring you to click on some link in order to update your details, or to help recover your data, or to reactivate your expiring personal access code card etc.

Anyone who’s sensible would know there’s a scam behind it. Just like anyone who’s sensible would know there is no rich Nigerian that’s dying to give you their money if you help him/her smuggle the wealth out from wherever they are. Right? Right?

Sensibility apart, knowing how scams and spams work – one should never click on any link and should delete those emails – eventually, hopefully, they will go away. But how long will it take for them to stop pestering you?

I personally have received 6 such phishing email in the last week alone. 6! That’s pretty much once a day. It all started a few weeks ago, with about an email per week, which I duly forwarded a copy to my bank and then deleted. Suddenly I’m seeing more and more of them, and it’s getting annoying. Very annoying.

Seriously, how did the scammers get my email in the first place? Just randomly? But if so, how did they match that to the right bank that I’m banking with? I have no received any email purporting to have came from other banks that I am not customer of.

Does this mean I can assume someone in my bank has sold email database of some sort to unscrupulous muppets? Or does this mean the security system in place for data management of my bank is fundamentally flawed and if so, why are they not doing something to improve it? Then again, I guess once the emails are at the hands of the scammers, they’re going to try to spam it over and over until, well, whenever.

I certainly hope not many people have been conned over such phishing expeditions. In fact, nobody should! When in doubt, contact your bank by phone or in person. The sooner the scammers are unable to make any stealth getaway with your cash, the sooner all this will die off. (And/or they’ll go away and try to figure a new way to do away with your money.)

Until then, remember, (1) don’t click any link in the email, (2) forward a copy to your bank, (3) delete the email, and (4) when in doubt, check with your bank personally.

Phishers – Go. Away.

Back to school for the unemployed


A couple of months ago, the Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe announced an initiative for the currently unemployed to return to education in order to retrain and upskill the labour force in this country. In the last few weeks, the details were announced. In total, 2500 places are open under the Labour Market Activation scheme, of which 1000 of them are at postgraduate level and 1500 at undergraduate level.

In Dublin, the following universities and institutions have places on offer:

  • University College Dublin
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • Dublin City University
  • Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Institute of Technology Blanchardstown
  • Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology
  • Institute of Technology Tallaght Dublin
  • National College of Ireland

For more information, please have a look at this page on the Higher Education Authority website of which there are links to FAQs related to both the postgraduate and undergraduate level free places (the files are PDF files).

For a list of postgraduate courses, click here.
For a list of undergraduate courses, click here.

Please note that some institutions are running information evening (e.g. National College of Ireland on Wednesday 19 August) while some require applicants to contact the relevant departments directly. As the majority of the courses will begin in September, it is prudent that anyone who’s interested start looking into this scheme as soon as possible. Moreover, some courses are allocated on a first come, first serve basis and places are limited. Good luck!

Ps: if you are on Twitter, you should follow Education Ireland.

Shortlisted : Cliffs of Moher

A few months ago, Mo wrote about requests by Moher Man on supporting the Cliffs of Moher into making it one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Looks like Moher Man’s hard work have paid off, and it had been a very successful endeavour, for Cliffs of Moher is now officially one of the 28 shortlisted wonders for final round of voting. The voting for the final 7 will take place over the next two years (vote here!) of which the winners will be announced in 2011. So there you go, a long time yet, but it also means plenty of opportunity for you to push the cliffs into top 7!

The Cliffs of Moher is of late magnificently featured on the big screen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Think of the scene when Dumbledore and Harry were on the quest for a horcrux hidden in a cave. Yup, that’s Cliffs of Moher right there. Pretty awesome, right?

Ryanair’s website maintenance notice


This is an important notice for all passengers of Ryanair who intend to travel in a couple of days’ time. Ryanair is running an upgrade to their system which will see the website closure for 10 hours, of which during this period there will be no online check-in service, nor reviewing and/or amendment of existing bookings, nor booking of new flights.

The system closure will be in place from 8pm, Wednesday 24 June until 6am, Thursday 25 June.

(Technically speaking, apart from online check-in, all other services are available up to 10.30pm on Wednesday 24 June, but to play it safe and not having to worry if your reservation goes awol or not, I would just avoid going near the website at all during that 10 hours period.)

This is the press release from Ryanair and don’t be alarm that the times shown here are different – all times mentioned are based on GMT on the website/press release and remember that daylight saving time is currently in place.

Ryanair travellers from other countries should check the relevant sites in order to obtain the right time notification. E.g. closure for French site : 8pm GMT to 5am GMT which translates to 10pm to 7am local time. And if you need help with time zone conversion, here’s a converter that you can use.

Travel safe.

Are you the next Irish Apprentice?

Alright, a bit of a late notice/reminder for you if you’re looking for a job with a little of the media glam thrown on top of it. Get cracking at your CV – right now! – and you may find yourself battling it out to be one of the finalists for the Irish edition of The Apprentice.


Oh yeah, Bill Cullen is looking for an apprentice again, and in the climate of recession right now, I’d reckon plenty of people would try their chances on this. You have just ONE more day (the closing date is tomorrow, Friday 8th May 2009) to work on your application, and you can apply online here.

Good luck folks!

The quest for employment

This is one of those scary real life videos, which is not even about reality tv show. Instead it highlights the real problem during times of economic downturn. Previously, practically most of the convenient shops in town would have signs at the window offering casual/full time employments. Now, a single sign at one shop window for just a few days could evoke a line of over 500 applicants!


In fairness, the ratio for this particular employment interview session is about 1:5, given there are about 100+ positions to be filled for 3 new Londis stores. Quite a normal rate. I guess the surprise factor is actually seeing queue of this magnitude instead of a more traditional discreet interview appointment system favoured in this city.

I fear we have not seen the last of such open call interviews (while the number of jobs offered keeps on dwindling over time). Hard times people. Hard times.

Yup, no more free online check-in!

I knew it! As I suspected last month, when Ryanair announced the intention to abolish desk check-in, there’s going to be a sneaky reintroduction of web check-in fee. Well, there is no way they’re not going to exploit this now that everyone’s obliged to check-in online.

What do you know – it’s coming at €5 per flight per passenger!

There will be some phasing out of desk check-in service between now and October, with huge penalties in order to discourage anyone from going near those desks at all. For the whole shebang and gooblydooks on this, read this press release. Frankly speaking, how can this web check-in charge be “savings” that can be passed on to the passengers, I don’t know.

Of course, this spells more profits for Ryanair. They can finally charge EVERYONE again for check-in fees, not just non-EU/EEA travellers or people with luggage to check-in. In fact, this means you are actually paying them to do the work yourself! Without any designated airport desks, they also need not employ so many staff anymore so I expect some of them may be seeing their P45s sooner than they’re expected to. Ryanair would probably cite recession as an excuse for that or something.

I need a better paying job just so I don’t have to fly with Ryanair anymore.

More Ryanair "fun"

Ryanair is clearly desperate to stay in public eyes and certainly believes in the mantra “no publicity is bad publicity”!

Last week, it was all about abolishing desk check-in service. Earlier this week, they went on blogger bash fest. And today, what that comes in as “breaking news” on Irish Times and BBC is the plan to introduce charges to use toilets on board! Whoa! What’s next? Charging a pregnant woman because she’s clearly carrying “extra passenger” with her?

You know, I’ve always defended Ryanair’s to my friends with “have no expectation and you won’t be disappointed” and “what you see on the tin is what you get” but it’s getting harder and harder to side with them. I’ve fly often with them and so far, so good. (Touch wood!) But sometimes, extreme measures like this really made me go, blah…

If I can afford it, I would choose to fly with different flight operators but until then, I’d just chalk this to another of their madness that I’m going to shrug off. Not that I’ve ever use their toilets on board come to think of it. Afterall, I only fly with them for short-haul (2 hours max) flights and I never really like the sorry excuse of a small, usually disgusting, cabin that’s being passed off as lavatory. That also explains why I could never understand why anyone sane would go for a tryst or attempt to join the so-called mile high club in one. Seriously unclassy.

The Big Switch!

The Big Switch

This should really have been blogged last week but while it was on my radar, I’ve been up to my eyes with a gazillion and one tasks to complete. (In fact, this switch is also on my to-do list.)



An electricity service provider that promises substantial saving on the crazy utility prices, no thanks to the years of monopoly that ESB had.

To be honest, I am a bit annoyed with ESB at the moment, as I’ve just received our latest household bill. They had just up the rate of electricity unit (with effect from January 2009) from €0.1597 to €0.1640! At time of recession and economic downturn, and where the price of oil worldwide had came down (they previously sought for the green light for an increase on the premise that oil price was too high), this is really quite unacceptable.

At the heel of the receipt of this bill, it reminded me of the Bord Gáis’ The Big Switch that I saw through an announcement on their website. I’d wager you have heard all about it too, even if you’re not already a current customer of Bord Gáis, given it was written up well on the Irish Times’ PriceWatch, they’re advertising it everywhere (including Facebook!) and everyone is talking about it. The changeover is really quite simple – just sign up for the switch and Bord Gáis will take care of everything else.

As pointed out by the Irish Times, consumers who change over their provider from ESB to Bord Gáis stand to enjoy a saving of up to nearly 24% – that’s a lot of money that you and I can do with in our own pockets right now. I’m switching mine with immediate effect, well, after reading and understanding the terms and conditions involved of course.

Ryanair and no desk check-in?

Ryanair has been in the news a good bit again this week, and for a change it’s not about yet another attempt on hostile takeover of Aer Lingus or advertisement infringement etc.

Instead, they’re introducing a new fleet of flights that allow in-flight mobile phone calls. Well, of course, this is a service that comes with a price (check this press release) and is currently available only to Vodofone and O2 customers. To be honest – can people really not wait till they arrive at their destinations to make further contacts etc? The plane is the only mode of transport where I don’t have to hear incessant ring tones of phone calls and text messages coming in (personally I keep my mobile on silent at all time), and I can also do without hearing one sided conversation (for some reason, a lot of people increases the decibel when speaking over the phone in comparison to talking to someone while seated side by side).

Never mind. I don’t think this will be a major issue since most people probably wouldn’t be too keen on paying the exhorbitant fees. Afterall there is a reason why people are flying Ryanair despite all the grumbles about their charges and service – they’re the cheapest option to fly in/out of Dublin to European destinations. Therefore money matters.

Another piece of news that I just saw on BBC is their plan to scrap desk check-in service. I can’t find any details yet from their website, but it certainly raises a few questions.

Currently, online check-in service is only available to EU/EEA passport holders with hand luggage. Other international travellers and anyone who has luggage to check in must pay additionally for desk check-in service. Already this is obligating many to travel light (which is not a bad thing to be honest) and it’s also rather unfair that international travellers be charged more by the nature of their citizenship.

Now, if the desk check-in is to be abolished:

1. Travellers who have hold luggage must check in online then drop off the luggage at bag drop. I’m imagining chaos with this if the tags were not put properly etc and there is need for someone to man the bag drop anyway, so how is this different from having desk check-in?

2. Will this be a sneaky way to re-introduce some kind of online check-in charges to all travellers at some stage in the future?

3. What happens to international, non-EU/EEA travellers? Can they now suddenly avail of online check-in whereas previously they can’t (for reasons unknown – or the faible “it’s for security purposes” without further explanations) or will they just not able to travel with Ryanair anymore?

I guess only time will tell what Ryanair’s full plan is. They are always full of surprises and implement radical changes, enough to confuse anyone who doesn’t travel regularly with them. Frequent travellers on Ryanair know full well what the score is and I’d imagine by now have benefited in the experiece to become one of the most unflappable air passengers in the world.

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