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A Modern Christmas Carol by Mitch

Twas the night before Christmas in faraway Japan

Christmas in Shibuya

Christmas in Shibuya (Photo credit: jpellgen)

One Jewish boy was still working with aplomb and elan.

He tried to clear his dashboard of servers of red,

While visions of sashimi swum round in his head.

He raised his head up from his screen on occasion,

To see some of his colleagues showing true dedication.

There were no reindeer atop Rakuten’s roof,

But our hero knew later he’d enjoy 80 proof.

An eighteen year old would bring great delight,

Which is odd, as alone he would spend this here night.

And then, the thought did enter into his mind

Of a place where likeminded company he’d find.

His carriage would not be pulled by eight reindeer,

But the Japan Rail train out of the station so near.

From Shinagawa Seaside he would go forth,

All the way to Shibuya, no pole but points north.

Where bars and restaurants filled with the cheer

Of dozens or scores of patrons with beer!

Izakaya is where he will make his own way,

To imbibe with his tribe after a helluva day.

A night of good food and good drink lay alee,

He thought to himself with more than slight glee.

Or maybe, he thought, as his head he did knock,

I should follow my diet, and go for a walk.

The streets of Tokyo, aglow with festive light

Held many a vision for his sheer delight.

Still and all, though enjoy himself this night he would,

His mind was focused on back home – where his family stood.

Theresa and Aaron, Gilad, Gingit, and Jake

Danced in his mind as a pause he did take.

Before going out for food and for drink,

He’d head to the hotel for a Skype he did think.

But alas, the time zone didn’t work in his favour,

And let the fam sleep as their rest they should savour.

But after his food, a drink or two and a walk

He’d head back to his room, with his family to talk.

And so we can end this Christmas tale, which rings true and not tall,

To you all a good night, and Merry Christmas to all!

Skype Collaboration Project, and quick tips to detect Phishing scams

skypeA few days ago I posted a quick post called Free Skype Premium for a year! and I got a few interesting questions about the voracity of the offer.  Some of you were worried that it was a scam, and believe me I am the first person to say you should be skeptical.  However before I posted about it I checked it out.

As one reader noted, the first thing I look at is the domain name.  Behind all of the mess of incomprehensible much, every URL you browse to on the Internet will begin http:// or https:// and will be followed by child domains, sub-domains, and eventually the parent domain – for example I might, if we were larger, have a page with the URL http://we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well.  The actual domain is directly to the left of the first (really the third, but I don’t count the two in http://) slash.  So while a phishing scam might use http://24.200.34.12/we.all.love.mitch.garvis.ca/And?Wish/himAndHisFamily/?Well the first slash is after the numbers, which means that it is a scam.

Unless my domain name itself has been compromised – if someone has actually hijacked the DNS (Domain Naming Service) of garvis.ca they cannot create a child domain to it… so they could no easier use http://scam.garvis.ca than I could http://garvis.skype.com.

The link to the Skype offer was https://collaboration.skype.com/promotion/?cm_mmc=AFCJ%7C1250_B1-_-11129583-1225267.  To the left of the first slash is collaboration.skype.com.  This means it came from Skype.

imageNow let’s look at the next objection I got.  ‘This page does not have a Skype logo on it, it doesn’t have Skype’s (or Microsoft’s) branding or look and feel.  That is a big red flag.’

That is something that you would definitely take pause at… the only thing on this page that looks remotely like Skype is the colour they used for the top line.  While this is a good observation, it is something that I throw away when determining the legitimacy of the page.  I have examined hundreds or more phishing schemes and hijacked sites, ranging from banks to credit cards to e-commerce sites to the White House and United States Department of Justice.  No matter how good the look and feel might be, they cannot get beyond the technical – if the domain name is right, then either the domain itself has been compromised… or it’s legitimate.  In truth, most phishing scammers spend more time on look and feel because they understand that most of us would look for that first… if they wanted to hijack your Skype password, they would spend the time to make the site look legitimate, including the colour scheme and logo.

The next concern was that we entered our e-mail address, ticked the appropriate box, and clicked on SEND… and nothing happened.  We didn’t get an e-mail right away (or even ten minutes later) as we were promised.  Actually we were not promised that… we were told to ‘Look out for the voucher codes coming to your inbox in the next 48 hours…’  Well most of us are not that patient, and we assume that while some sites do claim it will take that long, we should really be getting something in the next fifteen minutes.

We shouldn’t be so impatient… especially when out of the blue someone offers us something for free.  In fact, I posted the article just after 1:00am on December 18th (EDT) and received the e-mail at 10:27am on December 20th (EDT)… so in fact it was closer to 58 hours than 48.  Okay, no problem… It was later than they promised, but it came.  Thank you Skype for giving me a free service that I will absolutely use, and I forgive your slight tardiness Smile.

image

imageAs I had been promised in the original invite, I saw this screen – my vouched was successfully redeemed.  However it did say that it would take no more than 15 minutes, so it could still be a scam, right?  Well a few seconds later the bottom-right corner of my screen popped up with this Notification… and I knew I had gotten what I asked for.  Thank you Skype, I will use the Premium services well!

Free Skype Premium for a year!

It looks like this is legitimate, although I will keep an eye out and let you know immediately if it isn’t.  Microsoft is giving away Skype Premium for a year.  Simply submit your e-mail address, and you will receive a code.  Click on the link for more info!

http://microsoft-news.com/get-premium-skype-features-free-for-one-year/

Lync up to Skype… and Skype up to Lync!

Ever since Microsoft bought Skype I have been getting questions about where it fits.  We got our first indication earlier this year when we all got notifications that Live Messenger was merging into Skype.  Obviously there was no need for two different services that did essentially the same thing… but Lync was a different story.

Unlike Skype, which is a completely cloud-based service, Lync can be installed on-site, and is proprietary to an individual company.  While that company has the option of connecting its Lync to the outside world, it can be secure in the knowledge that its information is proprietary and stored securely.

None of that is going to change, but today Lync has been given the ability to talk to Skype.  So now the Enterprise richness of Lync has the global reach of Skype without surrendering its control.

Is it mandatory?

Of course not… for this to happen your Lync administrator needs to actively enable Lync-Skype connectivity.  You still have the option of staying private.  Once they have done that, your Lync users can connect to Skype from either Lync 2013 or Lync 2010, including any of the 2013 mobile clients.

As for Skype users, they will need the latest Skype client, available from www.skype.com.  As of launch this connectivity will be supported from the Window sand Mac desktop clients, but other options will be made available as other clients are updated.

So what are you waiting for folks?  Lync up!

For full details from the product team, read the blog article here.

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