Category Archives: Random stuff

Credit card fraud – why does it still exist?

This evening I discovered that one of my credit cards had been used fraudulently for the third time this year. Bad luck for whoever it was (presumably) online shopping at various retailers, apparently all the charges were automatically declined. I hope they gave a real mailing address :-). I maintain a hierarchy of exposure and this card happens to be the most exposed but still. It cannot be beyond the wit of man or woman to solve this problem. So why hasn’t it been solved?

I guess the answer is obvious – economics. No doubt credit card companies can estimate their losses to fraud in any year. Actually, I am not sure who carries the losses – retailers or the credit card company – but I guess it is the same in the end. Presumably the calculation goes like this: if the loss from fraud is less than the loss of business from tightening up use of credit cards to prevent fraud, let’s live with fraud!

Credit card fraud is one of those “victimless” crimes. I am not exposed to fraudulent charges as long as I cannot be shown to have been negligent (I guess). Whoever ends up swallowing the loss must think that it’s worth it. Retailers want to reduce the friction to sales as much as possible. Implementing secure credit card technology would no doubt be a massive increase in friction, opening the door to other forms of money transfer (Bitcoin anyone?).

Oh well. The only strategy that makes sense is to use cards in a hierarchy of risk where the card used in the riskiest situations is never used for regular payments otherwise you end up constantly going around websites updating payment information every time some idiot uses a stolen credit card number. But this shouldn’t be necessary – it’s plain wrong to accept crime as inevitable, especially when it can be prevented by technical means.


Ektachrome back from the grave

Interesting story here about Kodak’s plans to bring back Ektachrome film. It seems that the pendulum is swinging once again. Movies are being shot on Super 16 film, vintage movie lenses are being hunted down just because they are so imperfect, anamorphic lenses are being used on film again to get the unique grain effects etc. I used to find film fun but nerve-wracking. The photo above was shot on a medium format film camera a few decades ago – no automatic white balance available there! This could have been Ektachrome or Fujifilm Velvia. I printed the original on Cibachrome and then scanned it many years later – the Cibachrome is still in pretty good shape. Can’t believe I actually had the patience to hand print color reversal stuff. No plans to switch from digital even though I have a bunch of quite decent film cameras kicking around. It’s too much like hard work.

I noticed the smell of unprocessed film when I was looking for old XR headsets the other day so I decided to find the source. Turns out I had some Ektachrome, Velvia and Gold (print film) in a camera bag used for an old Canon AE-1. The print film expired in 1992 so probably isn’t that usable by now – the others must date from the same era.

There’s always a bigger boat…or two

It came as a bit of a surprise at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that the 147 foot yacht here is regarded as barely even mid-size! Apparently this is a bit small to hold all of the required toys so one of these might be needed as an addition:

This is a support yacht and it’s where you keep your helicopter (or two if you want to do heli-skiing properly apparently), submarine, jet skis, tender, guests that you don’t really like etc etc. The idea is that it races ahead so that, when the owner arrives, everything is set up and ready. It seems that this is actually a cost-effective solution to a problem that extremely few people have. Whatever, it is an impressive piece of engineering in its own right and that giant crane looks like it could lift anything.

Definitely worth visiting this boat show – it’s totally mind-boggling in its scale.