goods and services

Sign of the times

Perhaps the recent mandatory switch to Chip and Pin credit cards in the UK wasn't merely something designed to wind up the proportion of the populous of Britain who can't quite reliably grasp which way they should be inserted into the never-hidden-from-public-view chip reader. Whilst the Poorhouse would dispute that they couldn't be easier to use - not having to put them in a slot reader and not having to remember a PIN are 2 ways in which we'd venture they would be easier to use - it does at least prevent the sort of potential fraud that John Hargrave from Zug went out to test.

Real life spam-be-gone

Carrying on from yesterday's venture into the evils of unsolicited credit card applications, the Poorhouse feels it right to alert the citizens of the UK to the Mailing Preference Service.

This is a free service (funded by the direct mail industry - which might have some bearing on some of the lies on the site about how virtuous and thoughtful all these companies are - but it is supported by Royal Mail) that allows you to make it known to all and sundry that you do not want to come home to a letterbox full of unwanted and random envelopes tempting you into, say, applying for a credit card you can't afford. Simply sign up with your name and address and in a few months apparently you will see approximately a 95% reduction in "personally addressed unsolicited sales and marketing direct mailings". The Poorhouse has taken advantage of this service and, whilst 95% might be pushing it a bit, there does actually seem to be some sort of reduction. The security of the site is a bit minimal, so if your enemies just love junk mail then why not play a mean trick and sign them up to prevent them taking advantage of all those "great offers" too?

Identity theft is too easy

Identity theft- the "hi-tech" crime of our times. But is it actually remotely hard to do? Perhaps not. Take the following as an example of how ridiculously easy it can be.

Every home dweller is familiar with receiving a pile of bad-for-the-environment credit card applications you never asked for or wanted. You get a glossy leaflet about how much money it won't cost you, a prepaid envelope, a half-filled in form and, if you are especially lucky, a free pen. Sometimes it even says "Priority Application" or something equally as discrete on the envelope.

Feed the starving artist

Nice pearNice pearThe Poorhouse is as proud as 12 peacocks prancing to be associated with Tess' (web) portfolio. We would greatly appreciate it if any wealthy (UK) graphic design bosses would like to pay her a pile of money without supervising her work too closely. With both education and a history of employment on show, how could it possibly be the wrong thing to do? She may not speak her vowels quite correctly what with heralding from New Zealand - to be fair she can (mis)pronounce them in several languages - but then when was the last time a company went bust on that aspect alone?

The Poorhouse considers her CV far too self-modest with such talents as published Christmas card poetry going unsung. As a special bonus to entice you in there is a top quality flash game involving defending the earth somewhere on the site.

(Please note that any design deficiency on the site you are currently reading is in no way attributable to her.)

BANG!

Example of recreational cleaner useExample of recreational cleaner useIt's a sad maxim of today that not every cleaning liquid inspires a cult. One such absconder from this rule of thumb is the fantastic - even if like the Poorhouse you've never used it - Reckitt Benckiser's Cillit Bang.

Why such a silly name? Well, because apparently upon application to LIMESCALE, RUST (strangely seemingly emenating from a rubber hose) or GROUND IN DIRT amongst other such filth-objects BANG and the DIRT IS GONE. Cillit…well, who knows, but it does sound slightly dirty.

Name aside, what really grabbed attention are the wonderful adverts, starring fictional character "Barry Scott". In more recent times he has joined up with his lovely friend Jill and together they have explored new ways to use Cillit Bang. The adverts were so appalling that it initially led many to question whether they were for a real product, but it turns out they were and moreover one you can probably get at your supermarket. But there's more...

Double audacity


Not normally one to break into the furore of cutting-edge multimedia development, the Poorhouse recently was "playing with sound", as one does, and found a cool free GPL program which was plenty powerful enough for at least amateur messing, and most likely the more pro podcasts too. This program was Audacity, available via Windows, OS X and Linux-type systems.

Amongst its many varied features, it can record from pretty much any sort of input, create, splice, combine etc. multitrack recordings, apply effects (such as adjust-pitch-without-tempo, remove static hiss, echo), works with numerous file formats and accepts plug-ins to enhance its feature set further. Thoroughly recommended, although of course editing sound live does require a half-decent computer if you don't want to go make a cup of tea between each button press.

Peppered by Cheney

VP shoots republican donor shockVP shoots republican donor shockA couple of weeks ago one of the Bush administration took their lust for shiny guns and brutal violence a little further than even usual and personally shot someone. US Vice President Dick Cheney - possibly the second most powerful man in the world - got confused between the quail he was on a hunt for, and Mr Harry Whittington, one of his pals who was also after shooting said bird.

In the words of Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the Texas ranch they were hunting on: "The covey flushed and the vice-president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by God, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good".

Beard artistry

Artist at workArtist at workWhat does true entrepreneurship look like? Well, here's an example.

German ex-rock-concert-promoter Marco Figgen, moved to Thailand in search of spiritual fulfilment only to "accidentally" lose all his money. Dazed, confused and possibly not (just like The Poorhouse) not au-fait with the Thai welfare system, he had the only possible logical thought in the situation. Whilst counting his blessings, he noticed her had a wholly-impracticable lengthy beard amongst his resources. The next obvious step was to invest in some paint (not oil based - turpentine doesn't help beard strength out at all) and become the world's only known beard artist. Cruelly described by the international news agencies as "hardly Van Gogh" he makes his living using his unusually lengthy facial hair to make these pictures priced at 8000 baht upwards and is currently exhibited at the JND Gallery in the Soi Day & Night in South Pattaya

The musical POWAKADDY

Someone over at eBay (one favourite work skive site - if you don't mind making a financial loss each day) - clearly trying to sabotage their own sale was kind enough to include a delightful ebay-themed song as part of the advert.

It seems a "classic" Backstreet Boys has been usurped by Weird Al Yankovic to produce a song which simply by virtue of its mention of Mr William Shatner is clearly above the parapets of averageness.

Seeing as the listing will no doubt be deleted sometime soon (although I am pleased to report it was successful - everyone except one person in the world has missed out on the opportunity to buy a POWAKADDY for just £120) a Flash version is attached...all being well.

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