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Birjees Hussain: It’s convenient, but be careful
December 07, 2018
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Someone sent me a really amusing picture the other day. It was actually two photos side by side. One was taken in 1918 and the other in 2018. The 1918 picture was of a street scene with people dotted around with their heads down reading newspapers. The present day picture was the same street taken a hundred years later, again with loads of people with their heads down also reading. But the difference between the 1918 picture and the 2018 one is that whereas in the former people were reading newspapers in the latter they were all reading something on their electronic devices.

So things have changed a little bit since then. In the old days and by that I mean even as late as in the early 90s, we had only three real forms of communication. A letter which was posted, picking up the phone or leaving a message on an answering machine, similar to today’s voice mail, if they had one.

But the voice mail is slightly different from the answering machine in that, in order to be able to receive it, you don’t need a physical answering machine. Unlike having to purchase one you just need to subscribe to a third party service. In the old days, if someone didn’t have a machine, you’d just have to keep trying them again and again. It was actually made more difficult and a little easier at the same time back then, depending upon if you were the caller or the recipient of the call. Because there was no caller ID or notification that someone had tried to call them they couldn’t call back even if they might have wanted to. Moreover, as a constant caller, no one would have known you had tried them 20 times so you didn’t look like a stalker.

Now of course you have multiple ways to get in touch with people and a multitude of ways in which to be snubbed.

You could email, ring, leave a voice mail, send a text message, WhatsApp them, send a message on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Instagram and Tweet them. If all of these fail you could try calling their mobile again and again and again in which case you run the risk of being labelled a stalker and being blocked, not just once but in as many ways as there are modes of communication.

Being labelled a stalker, though, is the minimum risk you run from careless use of technology. In other words, there are some seriously huge ones that can ruin your personal and financial life, if you are not careful with how you use technology or social media.

Last week, we heard about how a leading multinational hotel chain was hacked and information relating to 500 million guests worldwide was stolen. Can you imagine all those emails, mobile numbers and credit card details being out there? The latter is the worst loss.

I guess the risk of being hacked are pretty high unless you are using a secure network both on our laptop/PC and your mobile devices. That’s why I have never had a credit card. I know too many people whose credit card information has been stolen and bills racked up. It seems some banks issue credit cards to customers without their consent. If the customer doesn’t want it he or she has to go to the trouble of having to cancel it which I think is outrageous. It’s seems far easier for banks to issue unwelcome credit cards than to cancel them.

I am also super careful when withdrawing cash from a cash machine. If I see or sense anything out of the ordinary in or around a machine I do not use it and look for another.

Now the other day I accidentally deleted a video from a mobile device. I needed the video and searched the device file manager but couldn’t find it. I Googled the problem and found a thread in which someone had exactly the same problem. They suggested downloading a specific App from the device app store and swore that it recovered their videos. In fact, it did find the deleted video on my device but there was a proviso which the thread did not mention. In order to have the deleted video restored the App needed a small payment of Dh21.

I thought okay, since I urgently need the video, I shall have to pay so a friend kindly keyed in his credit card! But we hit a wall half way through the payment process. For some obscure and weird reason, the app wanted us to key in my Gmail password!

Now why on earth would they want that? No one does. So we aborted the operation.

I did find the video on my device. It turned out that I hadn’t deleted the video after all. I had accidentally moved it to a hidden folder. Just goes to show that, unless you do a factory reset, when you delete stuff from your electronic devices, they don’t actually get deleted.

Good job we didn’t proceed!

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