When Dinosaurs roamed the earth and expected to pay for their bus fare with a bit of grubby change from their pocket

This week I received notification that I was having difficulty logging in to Facebook.

Nope. Not me.

Immediately you suspect that someone is trying to hack your account but  before doing anything rash it is always advisable to give the email a good glance over to make sure that it, in itself, looks to be genuine, like some of the fake emails that purport to be from Paypal advising you of your recent costly purchase, quite frighteningly these can look pretty genuine, unlike in stark contrast the scam attempts from people purporting to be the National Bank of Uganda informing you of your $1,000,000,000,000,000 inheritance and to urgently send instructions of a clearing account.

The Facebook email looked genuine enough but then I noticed the address at the bottom of the email:

1 Hacker Way

My instant reaction was to assume that this too was perhaps a fake email but following a very quick Google search of Facebook HQ it turns out that this genuinely is Facebook’s address.

Seriously ?????

Apparently, it is a well-publicised event on the internet, this nerdy, geek-inspired address. I must have missed that particular commotion but to my mind, as a massive global organisation, giving yourself a slightly dubious sounding address is a bit like giving yourself a funny but really stupid email address as a teenager and then continuing to use it as you become an adult.

‘fattybigtits@xxxxxxx.com’ springs to mind. Someone I know once genuinely had this as his email address. It was only as he tentatively began searching for his first proper job that he started to realise that it would probably be a good idea to create a new email address ….immediately.

Anyway, to conclude this particular part of the story, I promptly notified Facebook that It wasn’t me and they (or rather a computer programme) replied, thanking me and telling me that my response had been duly noted.

I guess, at some point, we have all been guilty of some kind of internet fakery, whether it be to religiously photoshop and edit our photos to show us in a more complimentary light or providing only the most wonderful highlights of our life on Fakebook.

My guilty admission is that when logging on to hospitality WiFi (e,g, at hotels, airports and the like) I prefer to give false email addresses so that I am not inundated with spam from their various mailing lists.

Sometimes I make them up and sometimes I use emails that I have heard being used in films e.g irasexira@hotmail.com (as used by Seth Rogen in the 2009 film Funny People), for I naturally assume that these cannot be genuinely active addresses.

These are innocuous enough fabrications, of course, but in reality, cybercrime is a very serious and growing threat that is only likely to become even more advanced. Criminals have always been one step ahead of the game since crime is a very lucrative business.

Such is the current and frequent occurrence of cybercrime that the FBI have their own Cyber Division task force to focus on combatting it and just this week one of the largest financial organisations of cybercrime were shut down and those involved were arrested by US Departments of Justice.

The organisation, Infraud Organization (must have been an in-joke), was responsible for dealing in $530million worth of data and cyber-contraband thus far.

So, how do we really protect ourselves from any such event of online hacking whether it be on social media sites or financial information?

In truth, we probably can’t, not completely. Most cybercriminals will be far more advanced in their knowledge of technology than your average user and whilst the average user is very small fry, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen to any one of us.

I know that when my brother and I introduced our late father to the world of the internet so that he could keep in touch with us via email and Facebook and do some shopping on Amazon and Ebay it was a truly troubling prospect. My father, his debit card, a laptop and his very minimal knowledge of how to use a computer was the equivalent of a vulnerable person roaming the very worst neighbourhoods alone after dark, in short, it was positively asking for trouble and I’m sure you all know someone very similar.

Unfortunately,  there are no signs of any let up on how dependable we will continue to become on computers and technology and since older traditional methods of communication and payment are dying out quicker than the generations that have become so accustomed to them, it is likely that I will soon have to start looking to my three-year-old niece for help with current technology.

My recent trip to London was an eye opener in that you can now no longer pay cash for your fare on a bus in Central London. You either need an Oyster card, a contactless debit card or a London Travel pass or Bus and Tram pass in order to be able to travel.

Apparently, this has been the case since July 2014, but living in France as I do and not often taking a bus in London it has taken me until January 2018 to discover this. I must be quite the country bumpkin. Fortunately, I have both a UK and a French contactless card so my embarrassment as a total dinosaur was spared!

And just what is Bitcoin and why the sudden hype about it?

Bitcoin was the first example of cryptocurrency created by an unknown person or group using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency was formed in 2008 as a digital-based payment system.

It is, it has to be said, a confusing and difficult currency to follow in that it is entirely unconventional. It does not require banks, it is not tied to a Nations economics and thus does not fluctuate in respect of political or financial trends as a conventional currency does. It does, however, fluctuate based on its own trends and conditions, those as a new and somewhat unreliable currency perhaps, but one that has certainly spiked recent interest. In previous years the currency has been volatile and unsurprisingly it has been up and down like a fiddlers elbow but more recently in 2017 Bitcoin suddenly hiked in value bringing about a growing widespread curiosity and of course those wishing to jump on the bandwagon.

I was surprised to read recently that just 1 Bitcoin is currently valued at €6,970.34 Euros. The smallest unit of a bitcoin is called a ‘satoshi’ which is one hundred millionth of a bitcoin (0.00000001) and thus one satoshi is the equivalent of €0.0000697034 euros but what was perhaps more concerning, as I waded my way through a crash course in the evolution of Bitcoin, is that it is fast becoming a widely accepted method of online payment even though most of us have never heard of it or can even begin to understand it.

Is this what my grandparents felt like with the introduction of the decimal currency back in 1971 I wonder?

My stepson remarked to me yesterday that his friend had paid for their upcoming travel to Paris, booked online, by using Bitcoin. Having recently watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2, I was reminded of their references to ‘units’ and it made me think about the future and whether there will be a single global currency known simply as units or tokens or maybe even Bitcoin if it survives, and if so, what sort of payment method can we expect. Will it be biometric e.g. fingerprint recognition or retina scan? If so, will biometric payment methods create a whole new wave of horrific crime where people will effectively be butchered for their body parts instead of simply having their wallets nicked out of their back pockets?

It sounds like something from a future dystopian science fiction film, but in many instances, science fiction is fast becoming science fact, such are the huge advancements of technology and the general social acceptance of these advancements.

If any further proof of the above statement were needed, Elon Musk’s latest adventure has been to launch a Tesla Roadster, complete with spacesuited mannequin called ‘Starman’ in the driver’s seat, into space.

The launch occurred on 6 February 2018, 20:45 UTC where the Tesla and its inhabitant were launched into space using a SpaceX designed Falcon Heavy Rocket.

The car was fitted with cameras to beam live images back to Earth of the Tesla’s amazing journey.

Credit: SpaceX

“Last pic of Starman in Roadster on its journey to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt,” wrote SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk on Twitter

The second stage of the Tesla’s journey was for the Falcon Heavy to launch the car into deep space where it will continue to float around for an undetermined amount of time. Perhaps for all eternity or until some enterprising team of experts find a way to retrieve it.

Apparently details such as  “Life on Mars” by David Bowie was on continuous loop on the stereo and the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ were visible on the dashboard screen (until such time that the power runs out that is). Also, circuit boards and parts within the car’s engineering were manufactured and stamped with ‘Made on Earth by humans ’.

NASA’s description of the ‘dummy payload’ as detailed below.

Credit: NASA

It is, of course, a delightfully amusing stunt to see a shiny, cherry red Tesla Roadster floating in space with planet Earth dwarfed in the background but it is also a stark reminder as to the staggering achievements of SpaceX and their new Falcon Heavy rocket, currently the worlds most powerful operational rockets which are capable of launching payloads deep into space.

Once again we are acutely prompted of the now blurred edges between science fiction and science fact.

I sigh heavily. I do truly feel completely out of touch with the advancing world around me and as such can only return to my thoughts and feelings in many of my previous blog posts that I am clearly getting old and starting to feel very out of place in this modern world.

From a purely selfish perspective, I pray that the next three decades or so do not advance at the technological pace that the previous three have. I would like to still barely recognise the planet when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Having said that, it’s amazing to think that as a race we can achieve such spectacular advancements in the realms of technology and space exploration but everyday life still grinds to a complete halt when we receive just a few centimetres of ‘debilitating’ snowfall in our own habitat.

Oh to spend the rest of my days in blissful ignorance, surrounded by those people I love,  living the barefoot lifestyle in wooden huts in Phang Nga Bay with a shoebox full of Baht and a lifetime supply of Raventos Cava.

The Virtual Recluse

P.S. To my darling husband…..see, I DO listen occasionally.