Monday, 28 April 2008

Caught in 2 Scams - e-buying is dodgy!

I have gotta warn you... recently I have been caught in 2 online scams!


I bought something online from a company called REDSAVE - ( When I made the purchase I was unwittingly signing myself up to a monthly membership and they charged me £19.95 a month until I finally twigged and submitted a cancellation form. The bank were fully aware of these conmen, but as I had apparently agreed to their Terms and Conditions when I bought the product they were technically making a legal deduction from my account! I did a bit research and followed advice from Martin Lewis’s site. I threatened them with Small Claims but ended up cutting my losses as this would have cost me more money and time. It cost me over £60 which was more than the item i bought.

Dont get caught - these guys have to be avoided and have been on the BBC Watchdog program. Try to buy online using a Credit Card (not a debit card) and CAREFULLY read the T&C of online stores that you don't know well and trust.


I have just tried to sell a digital video camera on eBay and the winning bidder turned out to be a scam asking me to send the item to Nigeria. They seem to have a very sophisticated system in place. Firstly a genuine bidder was outbid at the last second, then I got a fake email from what looked like eBay (Named Service@ saying that the payment had been made. The actual email address was (not actually eBay) and it was sent to me so quickly I became suspicious it had been automated by a computer just as the bid won. I contacted the buyer through eBay saying 'Sorry, but I suspect you are a scammer, please contact me to discuss' and got a dodgy response from 'Clara Wood' at that read like this;

"Hi Mate,

I write to inform you that I have made out a quick payment of xxx Pounds to you for this item number (xxx ).So

check your mail INBOX OR BULK FOLDER for the confirmation mail from paypal .Get back to me immediately if you receive the confirmation mail from paypal.I want this item shipped through FIRST CLASS ROYALMIIL INTERNATIONAL SIGNED FOR to my Friend who works with the German Embassy in Lagos Nigeria.Below is`her name and address that you will have to send the item to:



Send the shipping details to me tomorrow soon as you ship it so that i can forward it to her.

Kind Regards,


PS: due to how urgent My`friend needs this, i decided to pay you Extra Money for the international postage for this item, as I will be leaving for New York,so make sure`you`post it out tomorrow to her then you get back to me with the tracking"



It's also tricky to get rid of a false winning bid quickly as eBay insist that you try contact the buyer and give a set amount of time before any more action can be taken. Meanwhile the genuine bidders who could have bought the item were bidding on other cameras on eBay, while mine was still unable to be sold. I had to cancel the sale through eBay which was fiddly and took some effort. The second place bidder whom I contacted and told about being outbid in a suspicious way went on to buy someone else's camera, and so I lost out.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Become a Twitter and ditch the internet!

So as I sit here with my cup of Alta Rica black coffee and await the arrival of 1120 new Drum n Bass tracks (courtesy of Jinpow) I thought that despite an absence of internet connection, I’d write something up in Word and add it to the Blog at the next available opportunity. (So here I am)

Recently I’ve moved house and do not have Internet access at home. I am arranging a new connection with BE Broadband who can offer [for £18 p/m] a scary 24MB connection down a BT phone line using the new ADSL2+ technologies. I am actually slightly surprised (for some unknown reason) how easy it is to get Internet access without having it yourself. Internet is available most days at most places and mostly for free.. Lucky me!

The advantage I have found of not having it at home is that you actually do what you have to do when you get chance, instead of spending hours piddling about doing very little. A while back at a ‘how to improve your business’ course it was suggested that to manage time online better you could check your email at 2 designated times a day – say one in the morning and one at night - to save endless checking back – just in case you have a message waiting. Personally I am finding it more and more difficult to extract myself from the web, but perhaps I work at a computer too much and have to much free time!

At the moment I do not have TV either, and a similarly pleasant phenomenon exists, by which I do not watch stuff just because it’s on - I watch DVDs I have bought or that have been recommended… and I now seem to have LOTS of extra time too - time to draw, time to read, time to make videos, time to think about what is in them, time to extract my brain from the ever increasing media-network and world of advertising that TV and internet bring. In fact so much time I have devised and am performing a live performance piece at the Crowd6 gallery in Bearwood this Friday. Online communication quickly became much duller and a bit pointless after a brief break from it - once I actually retracted my senses back from the vortex… The Viz profannysaurus defines a ‘porn vortex’ as “A dimension where time has no meaning, encountered when looking for left handed web sites on the Internet. One could fall into a porn vortex and emerge ten minutes later to discover that three days have passed.”. I am suspicious that a similar vortex exists for the rest of Internet & TV. Spookily I seem to have anserwed my question raised two posts ago..!

Online social communication seems to have gone nuts recently. Twitter is the latest addition to my growing arsenal of accounts I have. With Twitter you can update your current status every hour, presumably so a stalker can pin point you more exactly. So why would anyone want to know where you are or what your doing or what you want to say at any point of the day? Twitter's premise is that 'What are you doing?' is a vital question that must be answered many times daily. This service will presumably be superseded by a government system which will update this momentarily for you.

Are we soon going to start seeing people wearing T-shirts with a digital display of their changing status printed on walking around? Saying that... when I was 18 I was very keen on wearing homemade shirts that displayed how I felt on them. I had one that said ‘I’ll be back, I’ve brought my axe’, another that claimed ‘I am become postmodernism’, one that stated ‘Paranoid, Depressed, Lonely’ (with a little tick-box by each one) and another that pleaded ‘Go easy on me I’m trying to scrape a degree’ - but I suppose that’s what being an introverted, artistic teenager is all about, ey?

There is of course growing fears that more and more of our personal info online is a bad thing, a very, very bad thing if it falls into the wrong, and mostly invisible, hands of paedophiles, politicians and marketing men. So why are we so eager to create our own online profile?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

In the studio with Jazz Thrash Assassin

Spent 3 days in the studio recording the new Jazz Thrash Assassin (as yet unnamed) 2nd EP and living on coffee, bananas and Mozzerella & Ham slices. This is the second time we've dropped into Robanna's to record with the sound engineer Miguel Seco who seems to get and like what we do. The tracks we chose are; Prick, School of Random Thought, Schizophrenic Love Song, Sneezing Drum and The Answer.

The tracks are our usual mish-mash of styles veering wildly from smokey-jazz to blood-splattered metal, mostly topped with a piss-poor sense of lyrical humour. First day drums went down swiftly followed by my bass parts (which I'm mostly happy with apart from being a bit 'slapped out' in the funk section of School of Random Thought), Guitar and vocals went well second day. Third day more screams & vocals and keys go on. The mixing is yet to be done, but the EP should be available for download soon!

Recording is always a bit tricky to start as the tracks inevitably sound different stripped down to their separate instruments and slowly layered back up (usually drums, then bass, guitar then keys & vox last). Mistakes become painfully obvious, although the studio is the best place to chop em out or rerecord em, and you suddenly appreciate bits never noticed other people did before, cos you were busy concentrating on your own stuff. There's also parts that you never learnt properly ('shame on you!') or always forget, that become stumbling blocks in the process. The best part is usually when the vocals go on, and people get excited about how the track is finally going to sound. School of Random Thought (or Dr. Guitarbett as it's been known) is my fave, closely followed with The Answer, which now has a wicked tempo change only heard by the lovely folk in Manchester last gig. Schizo's mellower-than-mellow keys are also sounding amazing. Prick is sadly sounding the weakest of the batch, which as it's usually our big finale, is a shame but hey - we couldnt get in the orchestra and gospel singers needed!

Recording is always a bit weird compared to rehearsing and gigging because there's only the music and none of the usual stupidity/moshing/dancing/screaming/exercise routines/masks and other chaos that usually ends up in the JTA live shows, and the final version usually varies quite a bit from the original lo-fi demo knocked up in Dr. G's Garage Lair. It's also a great opportunity to sit and listen and talk objectively about what works, what maybe needs tweaking and what should be emphasised in the mix. You can also do fun things not possible on stage like double up guitars and vocals to make it super beefy, or add effects or switch sounds more accurately. I also realised quite how much you rely on cues from other instruments and how much you play off each other. Something that I liked was that there are parts in most of the songs, that are always left to improvisation by at least someone in the band, meaning you get an slightly unpredictable but original performance at every gig!

Here's Pork Rind Grind feat. Sharon Format from the JB's gig in March;