What The Hack ?

As some of You, venerated readers, may know I use a free webmail account to be approachable. It is the simplest, free variant. The job is easy, send and receive emails. I do not mind the advertisements, it is all acceptable. I do not use an email program (outlook, Pegasus, Thunderbird, Sylpheed) anymore, it is all done via the webmailer, via the website of the company, in my browser. This, fortunately, works in any browser I may choose.
Yesterday or so I received an email from the security departement of the company whose service I use, autogenerated. It informed me that someone, or somewhat, had tried to connect to my email account via a third party email program or the application the company provides for use on an iphone / smart phone. It did not work, says the email, because the option to use an imap or pop server is deactivated standardly. I used the provided phone number to the help desk and talked to a young man who confirmed that, simply put, someone (or somewhat) had tried to get access to my email account. It would be a good idea to change my password now.
What I dutyfully did.
I do not know exactly where or when in setting up an email connection via an email program the password is asked / used or set – but chances are very good that my – now former – password is “known”, since it was unchanged since 2001. Well, never change a running system.
Now I feel the urge to change all passwords – yes, I want strong, new passwords, glitzy, shiny and surrounded by the air of invincibility, Arnold in his prime !

Safety First

Pointless, boring story ahead.

The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.

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They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.
They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.

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They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.

Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
“Thank you.”
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.