Monday, October 31, 2011

The Perfect Storm

A few weeks back, my Twitter account was successfully phished.

Since I have an image of myself as a person who does not enter passwords willy-nilly on spurious websites, cognitive-dissonance reduction has kicked in to assure me that I couldn't have not entered my password on that fateful day. I was at the mercy of the perfect storm.

Let me introduce all the moving parts in this sequence.

About a month ago, I moved to Toronto. Since I figured I'd need to stay connected to the internet, I sniffed out the cheapest smart-phone & plan possible to get me started. My friends were playing a music festival in town, so I let them crash with me for a few days. Since the place was small, sharing beds was inevitable. Since one of my guests is a total shutterbug, there were plenty of photographs taken at inappropriate times, and threats of ruined political-careers flying about.

A few nights into their trip, we were all dispersed within a single pub, mingling with the locals. My friends and I had been using Twitter to stay in touch while we were apart, so when I got a direct message alerting me to a 'funny picture' of me making its way online, I didn't suspect its veracity. I had seen some of the incriminating photos on his phone, so I clicked on the link to see what the damage was.

The phone I've been using is a piece of junk. It's an Acatel 980S, and it's plagued with a grotesque lack of memory, so it regularly flushes the browser-cache to keep things moving. It's not unusual to be logged out of a website I was just using, so when I clicked on the link from within my TweetDeck app and was presented with the Twitter login page, it didn't set off any alarm bells. I wasn't thinking too much about what I was doing, other than pretending to still be interested in the Canuck droning on about how cool Ireland was when he visited as a nipper.

I wasn't on the real Twitter site, and I didn't realize until I had entered my username and password (probably incorrectly, since the tiny screen makes the onscreen keyboard worthless) and hit submit. The error page wasn't quite right. Something was wrong. I went looking for my friend in the pub and asked him if he has sent me a picture. He had no idea what I was talking about. I had just done something incredibly stupid.

Serves me right for being such a rude prick.

From there on, it was actually quite tricky to change my password - I couldn't find the option on the Twitter mobile site, and the regular Twitter site kept redirecting me to the mobile version. Eventually I had to Google 'Twitter password change' to be brought to the page I wanted.

Lesson learned: pay more attention to links you click on. Fundamental of internet-security proven: having different passwords for different services is essential, and in this case I was quite relieved to think that the password I volunteered to the phishers wouldn't get them in anywhere other than my fairly unimportant Twitter profile.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Robocop 2 - Déjà Vu Revue

It's been years since I've seen Robocop 2. The only details I remembered from my childhood is a fight in an arcade, a terrible CG face, and that the main villain is a kid.

So, how did it hold up? Read on!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Thoughts From A Worldly Primate

This post is a blatant ripoff of the frighteningly insightful knowledge-bombs frequently dropped over at Apes In Elysium, which you should be reading instead of this piffle.

The only real-world use I have ever got out of the Irish language is impressing foreigners or talking about them. This is all I ever expect to get out of it. That so many of my peers are incapable of stringing a basic sentence together in Irish strengthens the notion I've held for years that we are pissing away millions of man-hours keeping a braindead language on life-support. This time and money could - and should! - be put to much better use elsewhere. Traditions be damned, keep a few experts trained up and leave it at that.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh... Canada

Note: This is a personal post. If you’re interested in reading about a white dude making post-hoc rationalisations about why he left his homeland, you might get some enjoyment out of the following.

Dear reader, I have joined the growing number of recent Irish-graduates who have emigrated fled from the homeland in search of greener pastures abroad. Eleven days ago I arrived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with no job, no friends, and no idea of where I was going to live. The days that followed were a blitz of e-mails, phonecalls, apartment viewings, and disappointments. It was quite an adventure.

So when people ask me “Why Toronto?”, that’s the short, polite answer – it’s an adventure. I’ve been asked to elaborate a few times since I arrived, but my answer varies every time, so I’m sitting down now to try and tease out the motivations. Here are the first few to come to mind:

It’s closer to the USA 

This is such a stupid reason, but I’m awfully fond of that girlfriend of mine in the States.

I’d move there if I could, but for a dude with no ‘soft’ skills like mine, I’m not an attractive prospect for employers in the US of A, who must prove that the dirty foreigners they hire are so uniquely talented that they’re not stealing jobs from the natural-borns.

Taking time off to see the missus can be awkward when it requires a transatlantic flight, so hopefully moving to the same continent will facilitate some more face-time.

It’s not Ireland

That title might be needlessly broad. Specifically, it’s not Limerick, which is where I’ve been keeping busy for the past few years. Since my work didn’t feel like it was building towards something, I decided it was time to try something else.

With the ladyfriend committed to another 2 years of school and work in the States, it doesn’t seem like there’s a point in starting some new endeavour in Ireland, when the plan is to leave eventually anyhow.

Furthermore, living in Limerick feels post-apocalyptic. People are obsessed with the diminishing supply of jobs. Permanently angry inbred-tribes maraud around in horses and traps, pilfering as they wish from the remaining businesses while the local authorities shrug their shoulders in languid indifference.

Guilt for a privileged existence 

Life was too easy. I had plenty of disposable income (which I'll choose attribute to not-drinking, and not being grossly overpaid), good friends that were consistently great company, and a stereotypical Irish mother who would browbeat me into doing my laundry and cooking for me as often as possible, despite my efforts to live independently (paradoxically, she would then complain about how I never did these things for myself).

When I had settled into a routine of family, friends and work, the only things that would stand out from my day were the frustrations. It’s my hope that by scrapping the infrastructure I had in place, I’ll be happier with my lot in life. Allow me to elaborate on that one:

To be a Self-Made Man

I’m not terribly good at making friends. Not necessarily because of my odious personality, but because of a lack of willingness. The friends I had in college were the same friends I had in secondary school. As the social circle grew through the outreach of these childhood friends, I was along for the ride, but didn’t contribute to the friend-tally.

Part of this is because I’m not terribly sentimental (which is why it tears me up admitting to a fondness for another human being), and my self-esteem isn’t based on how many people come to my birthday parties. The friends I made on my college-course amounted to a mere handful of intellectually stimulating sons-a-bitches, and they were kept separate from my other group. When I went to Pittsburgh Billy-no-mates, I made a few dear friends that I still try to see as often as possible.

Of course, in college, there’s a structure in place that lends itself to meeting people. Wiping the slate clean and trying to build a support network in a foreign city is a whole new challenge, one that should get me excited about just one stranger asking me if I want to meet up again sometime.

On this note, I should note that I already felt a spike of elation when I secured a place to live starting in November, and the few successful social interactions I’ve had so far are all the more gratifying, since it feels like the foundations of a new support-network.

All the cool kids are doing it

It’s somewhat disingenuous of me to say that I’ve left all my friends behind, since they’ve been leaving me behind in growing numbers for the past few years; relocating to various parts of the world in gainful employment, or on a world-tour of the pubs and dives of planet Earth.

If they can do it, why can’t I? And if not now, when?

That’s all the introspection I’m going to allow for now. The tone of this is rather final, considering that I’m over here on a one-year work permit, but my current hope is that - whatever my relationship with Canada over the coming years - this is the beginning of the end of me calling Ireland home.

Don’t be surprised if this blog gets a little travelogue-y as I come to grips with my new city. I might also post some advice and resources for anyone about to follow in my footsteps, so that they can avoid all the social pitfalls I'll be hurling myself into over the coming weeks and months.