Life in the orchestra pit of a musical

Most people’s jobs involve some repetition. If asked to imagine some of the most repetitive and boring jobs, working on an assembly line or in a garment factory sweatshop would likely come to mind. The idea that well-paid professional musicians might have one of the most repetitive jobs would likely come as a surprise, because playing music is seen as a quintessentially creative endeavor and being creative is surely the opposite of boring.
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Internet scammers target me with a new strategy

I tend to be fairly good at spotting internet scams. I also never click on any attachments or links that are in emails or texts unless I was expecting them or I can be sure it is genuine because the email also contains a personalized message that could not have been generated by a bot. I also tell everyone that I delete unread any link or attachment that is unaccompanied by such a message. But even after being told that, people seem to be so anxious to forward things that they find interesting, that they fire them off that I still keep getting such emails and texts that are promptly deleted.

Then there are those scam messages where the sender’s name is someone you know and they claim that they are stuck in some foreign country where their passport and wallet were lost or stolen and they urgently need money to get home and asking you to help by wiring them money. That is an obvious scam but I have read that elderly people have been persuaded to send money to people they thought were their stranded grandchildren.

Yesterday I received the following message

Just reaching out. Hope you are keeping safe on this pandemic?

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Nice example of good sportsmanship

This took place on September 13th.

A Spanish athlete is being applauded on social media after he sacrificed a top tier win in the 2020 Santander Triathlon to give it to a competitor who took a wrong turn on the course.

British athlete James Teagle was on course to win third place in the competition in Spain last weekend when he made a mistake metres from the finish.

Diego Méntrida overtook him but noticed the error and stopped to allow Teagle to cross first.”He deserved it,” Méntrida said later.

This is what sports, indeed all areas of life, should be like.

However did they figure that out?

We know that big companies collect vast amounts of data on us based on our online presence and know our likes and dislikes in the minutest detail. So it is not surprising when we get emails recommending products for us to buy. But I was struck by an email I got from Amazon recently that said “Hello, Mano Singham, We have found something you might like.”

And the recommendation was … my own book.

I initially thought this was satire

The pandemic has cut deeply into the airline business and they are seeking to lure people back. Surely one of the most bizarre attempts is offering people the opportunity to buy tickets to fly to nowhere, i.e. where the plane takes off, flies around for a few hours, and then returns to the airport.

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is looking to launch no-destination flights that will depart from and land in Changi Airport next month, in a bid to give its ailing business a lift.

Sources told The Straits Times that the national carrier is working towards launching this option for domestic passengers – dubbed “flights to nowhere” – by end-October.
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Does ignoring those annoying robocalls help reduce them?

We all get pesky robocalls and each one presents a problem. If we do not recognize the number, should we answer? Ignore? Block the number?

Apparently, the answer is that none of these actions make much of a difference.

To better understand how these unwanted callers operate, we monitored every phone call received to over 66,000 phone lines in our telephone security lab, the Robocall Observatory at North Carolina State University. We received 1.48 million unsolicited phone calls over the course of the study. Some of these calls we answered, while others we let ring. Contrary to popular wisdom, we found that answering calls makes no difference in the number of robocalls received by a phone number. The weekly volume of robocalls remained constant throughout the study.

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The long journey of my new computer

My current laptop is getting pretty old, close to eight years. That by itself does not bother me since I use it mainly for writing, email, and the internet and do not really need any of the fancy doodads that manufacturers keep adding on. But it has started to show disturbing signs of being about to kick the bucket, such as the screen suddenly going dark and then getting the ominous ‘black screen of death’ message in about eight different languages saying that some mysterious problem had occurred and that I needed to hit a key to reboot. While it has been rebooting, I have been told that this is a sign of an impending hard disk crash and that one of these days, it will never come back to life.
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