Do NOT fall for this hoax call

Young tensed young Afro businessman with telephone receiver against white background
Beware of fraudsters trying to scam you.  Photo source: Dollarphotoclub.com

Not everyone phoning you is your friend.  Especially if the call is from someone telling you that your Microsoft Windows computer is connected to their server and contains viruses that need to be corrected.  In fact, the person on the other side is most probably part of a major scam trying to obtain enough information about you to enable withdrawing your money into their pockets.

I have received such phone calls from unidentified sources at three different occasions during the last 4 months.  In all cases it was a person speaking English with an Asian accent.  The last call was earlier this week.  Mr Fraudster started off by asking to speak to the owner of the Windows computer that is connected to their servers over the internet.  His tone was aggressive, explaining that the computer contains a virus that is now affecting their server and the virus needed to be removed.

Luckily for me I had a few advantages over this fraudster.  Firstly I do not have a Windows computer, I prefer Mac.  Secondly I have 30 years experience in the computer industry and I know technical jargon about computers that this idiot probably has never heard of.  So I asked the guy to give me the IP address of the computer he was referring to.  Without trying to explain the exact technical details, every computer connected to the internet through the Internet Protocol is assigned an IP address that uniquely identifies that machine on the internet.  All IP addresses have a similar format.  The guy answered by giving me a 5-digit number.  I started laughing and told him the number he gave me was not a valid IP address.  He then swore at me with the usual f-word combination and abruptly ended the call.

This is a very well-known scam.  It is thoroughly documented on the Snopes.com website under the heading “Microsoft Impersonation Scam” (click HERE for further details).

You may not have computer technical background, but rest assured that if there is anything wrong with your computer affecting internet usage, your own internet service provider (that should be known to you) will deal with those issues, if any, and also rest assured that your computer is connected to the servers of your own service provider and not to some suspect Asian sounding guy’s servers.

Microsoft has issued a statement advising customers to “simply hang up if they receive a call of this nature and not to respond to any communications from these scammers.”

Please be careful and do not get caught by these fraudsters.

Author:  Johan Vorster

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You need to know this about Apartheid

Both sides of the Apartheid divide has strong opinions and all have a valid point – what is needed now is EMPATHY

Stop HateSince 1994, the issue of race relations has been a trending topic in the formal and social media in South Africa and with good reason: many lives had been affected by the Apartheid dispensation. The key issues are mostly being viewed from totally different perspectives, depending on whether you were “previously disadvantaged” or not. I am going to refer to the latter group of people collectively as “black people” for ease of reference. Many black people feel that white people should recognise and admit that apartheid was wrong and that they should apologise for it and the fact that they were beneficiaries of the system. Many white people, on the other hand, feel that they are and were peaceful law abiding citizens, they personally never did anything to hurt or disadvantage anyone and that it is unfair to blame the apartheid system on them. They are also suffering economically at the moment and were not receiving undue privileges. They also feel that black people must “get over it” and move on and start contributing instead of moaning.

I would like to tell you a personal story that had a profound impact on my perspective on this topic, even before the public debate started. This is something that happened to me whilst the Apartheid government was still in power and the ANC as an organisation was still banned in South Africa.

During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was involved with a company that sold computer systems to farmers and agricultural corporations, one of them being the Venda Agricultural Corporation. During my many visits to the capital of Venda, Thohoyandou, I met a black consultant and we became friends. I have not had the chance to obtain his permission to identify him, so let us just refer to him as Josh. Josh and I liked each other and eventually he invited me for dinner at his home in Thohoyandou. We agreed that we would build our friendship by learning each other’s culture and the invitation to his home gave him the opportunity to expose me to the African way of socialising.

I was embarrassed that he knew more about Afrikaans poetry than I did

At the required time I arrived at his home for my dinner appointment. Josh also invited an old friend of his to join us for dinner. He was a Venda man working in education. Let’s call him Frank. Frank was an impressive guy with a wide general knowledge. He also knew some of the Apartheid politicians personally. What impressed me most was his knowledge about Afrikaans language and culture. He knew some of the poems of A.G. Visser and I was embarrassed that he knew more about Afrikaans poetry than I did, being and engineer who was mainly interested in mathematics and science at school.

We had a typical African dinner – the men eating outside (with their hands) and the women and children inside. I had to “braai” the meat because us white guys were known to be much better in that department, whilst the rest of the food was prepared by Josh’s wife. After dinner, us men sat outside under the African stars and discussed the tense situation in our country. Please be reminded that we were still under Apartheid rule and we were well aware that the discussions had to be kept private and confidential.

Then quietly Frank asked me to please tell him about my first job interview. I felt that I was able to show off about my first interview because it took a whole day and it was exhausting. Whilst I was in matric I had applied for a bursary to study industrial engineering at the then steel manufacturing company Iscor and had been shortlisted for interviews. When I arrived at Iscor early morning, I had to complete a number of psychometric tests, IQ tests, aptitude tests and questionnaires of all sorts. After lunch I was called into a room where a group of seven people interviewed me. They asked me a lot of difficult questions and I was exhausted afterwards. A few weeks later I was informed that my application for a bursary was successful and I was appointed at Iscor before I finished my matric. Frank did not interrupt me once but he also did not look as impressed as I thought he should have been, listening to my colourful recollection of a difficult interview.

Frank asked me a question that would change my whole view on Apartheid from that day on

Then Frank asked me a question that would change my whole view on Apartheid from that day on. He asked me permission to tell me about his first job interview. Of course, I was interested, if only to compare notes. He said he was a young unemployed rural black guy and he wanted to work in the mines to earn some money. So he was routed to a specific mine where he arrived one morning for “interviews”. There were a lot of black men there, from different age groups, some as young as he was, some already “madalas” (older men). They were instructed to remove all their clothing and strip to the bone. It was hugely embarrassing for most of them, amongst others that in African culture it was impolite for a youngster to look at an older man whilst he was naked. However, none of them had any choice if they wanted to be employed. They were then lined up naked in front of a long wooden counter and were instructed to put their penises onto the counter. A young white guy with a white jacket then approached them with a ruler in his hand. He then pressed very firmly onto every guy’s penis with the side of the ruler. If a drop came out of your penis, you were given an injection and told to take a hike. If there was no drop, you were hired. Frank said there was no drop from his penis and he got the job.

I was literally speechless for a few minutes. Then I found myself apologising. I apologised that I had such an impressive first interview and he was treated worse than a dog. I apologised that he had to re-live those most embarrassing moments that were clearly hurtful to him in order to open my eyes. I felt ashamed and sorry as if it was me who did this to him. When tears eventually came from my eyes he did not cry with me. He touched me and said that we were going to make this a great nation together. He told me that white rule was coming to an end, but we should all take hands and work together to make this a great nation. And that it would be hard. It would never be easy. There was too much pain already for it to be easy.

Frank did not carry any hate in his heart

On that day, I realised that Apartheid deeply and profoundly hurt millions of people. It deprived them of humanity, it deprived them of education, of living a free life and having a fair chance to have a normal middle class life, maybe owning a decent place to live, having a decent job, having a normal family, watching sport and enjoying the good times with your friends and family and going on a nice vacation once in a while. The sort of things that white people were having. And yes, although until this day I have not wilfully and intentionally done something to hurt any other person, including black people, I was a beneficiary of an inhumane system and I am sorry and ashamed for all the appalling things that took place under Apartheid, although I did not cause it myself. I was bewildered by the fact that Frank did not carry any hate in his heart.

We need to stop hating people who are different from what we are

I agree with Frank that we can make this a great country. I also agree with him it will never be easy. On both sides of the colour divide, there is a lot of work to do. Real leadership will be required to manage us out of here. A lot of changing of attitudes need to take place. I do not want to lecture anyone on what needs to be done, I am not qualified to do it. What I am qualified to do is to participate in a positive manner in building our nation and making our country a beautiful place for all. I think a very important thing we need in our country at this time is EMPATHY. We need to show more understanding for our different cultures and backgrounds. We need to stop hating people who are different from what we are. Do we really understand and respect each other’s cultures? Do we really want this to be a great country? It starts with ordinary people like Frank and I. And you.

Author: Johan Vorster
2016-01-19

What you need to succeed: Focus

9200249_origThe well known South African golfer and golf presenter Dale Hayes  said that he has never in the history of golf seen a hole go to a golf ball.  You have to actually hit the golf ball to the hole – that simple.  Any golfer will be painfully aware of this simple truth in putting skill: the challenge of golf is to aim your shot at the target, the hole, taking into consideration the distance and the obstacles of slope and green speed.  If you do not aim your shot at the hole you will simply not hear that little sound of victory when the ball drops into the hole.  You have to aim at your target.

You cannot get lost if you do not know where you are going

This is also true in life.  I have come across this brilliant quote that you will see in the picture: “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.”  For this to be true, in the first place, you need to have a target.  Do you have targets or defined goals in your life?  Hopefully so.  Some people seem to live aimlessly – they do not really have a plan, they live from moment to moment.  There is another saying that you cannot get lost if you do not know where you are going.  And if you do not now where you are going, staying just where you are is always a safe choice.  But a very poor choice.  Because if you do not move you will fall behind.  That is life.

We need to set goals and targets for ourselves. This must happen on a daily basis and on many fronts.  We need to decide where we are going.  When you plan your life, in general, your career, your retirement, your next holiday, your next big assignment at your place of work, your week, your day today or tomorrow, you need to set yourself targets.  And then the most important thing is to aim at it.  You have to take actions, do stuff, move from where you are towards your target.  And you fill find in life that many times you miss your target at first.  Sometimes we even have to redefine our targets.  But the odds of success go up dramatically when you have targets and you aim at it.  That is called purposeful living.

Set targets, aim at them

Nowadays a lot of people are getting depressed about circumstances around them.  Politics, the economy, war and confrontation, health problems, financial trouble, so many things can steal our happiness.  But what I have found is that when, in the midst of all those negative factors, you set yourself targets and you aim at them, and when you spend your energy to achieving those targets, you will live a life with tens of thousands of moments of achievement.  In this manner the negative aspects become less depressing, more manageable.  Set targets, aim at them and see how your life will become purposeful and enriched.