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Digitalk with Colin Thakur: Thanks for All the Phish

Digitalk with Colin Thakur: Thanks for All the Phish

It’s the Sardine Run when the sardines fascinate, charm, tease and irritate the hell out of us, much like those dancers at Teasers… not that I have been there.

This fishy season brings me to Vibhav Ramcharan. He sure can tell a good fishing story. One of the brightest Durban University of Technology IT graduates of recent times, Vibhav Ramcharan inherited his father’s not too insignificant fishing skills. Both father, Rabin, and son have a wonderful, easy going, laid back, almost horizontal personality which I suppose is a trait necessary for fishing. I have heard countless stories of the number and size of the fish Vibhav caught and stored especially for Uncle Colin. One snoek was even a metre long. As this child literally and figuratively grew in front of me, I believed him.

Which bring me to my real point, however decimal it maybe. If someone on the internet tells you a story about how you will get rich and it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. It is fishy and definitely NOT TRUE. Nobody on this planet will give anybody that kind of obscene money, or fish. I received the following as I was writing this column. HELLO AND PLEASE WITH ALL DUE RESPECT I VIEW YOUR PROFILE HERE, MY SPIRIT ASK ME TO CONTACT YOU FOR THIS MY LATE HUSBAND GENUINE FUND AMOUNT $8MILLION US DOLLARS WHICH I WILL LIKE TO INVEST IN YOUR CARE FOR ORPHANAGE HOME IN YOUR COUNTRY AS I AM DYING OF CANCER. YOU WILL GET 30% FOR YOUR WORK AND THE REST WILL GOES TO ORPHANAGE. TILL I HEAR FROM YOU FOR MORE DETAILS. MRS ANNY KAZI. These folk try to get money from you by asking, for example, a small deposit to activate the transfer – but what they are really after is your identity. They use this to impersonate you and carry out criminal activities using your name. Phishing is a computer term the geeks use to describe fishing for an identity. Let’s take the word “phoney” and the word “fishing”, and swap the first few letters. There you have it: phishing. I bet you will not forget this word now.

Let’s try to get smarter during the Sardine Run. Remember, there are real sharks on the Internet. Why would Mrs Kazi give you $8 million? Use your common sense and skills. Banks and even the South African Revenue Service does not EVER use the internet to request you to update your details. So never reply. If in doubt, call the bank by looking for the number listed on a letterhead or directory – NOT the number quoted in the email. If you are lucky enough and get sardines, use fresh lemons with them. If, however, you, like me, are still waiting for a Vibhav, you may as well take some chilli powder and salt and just eat the lemons.

On a very happy note, my Vice-Chancellor at DUT, Professor Ahmed Cassim Bawa, receives his second Doctorate this week. This time, it was honorary one for humility and service to mankind from the Durham University. Durham is the United Kingdom’s third oldest university – behind Oxford and Cambridge. Prof Bawa obtained his first academic Doctorate from the self-same university. What an incredible honour to be recognised by your alma mater! Sometimes, just sometimes, the really good guys get richly deserved honours. I made this comment when he joined DUT. “A rising tide lifts all boats. By Professor Bawa agreeing to join DUT, the tide will rise….” Well it is Spring tide, Professor Bawa, and may the almighty bless you. The KZN community thanks you for guiding DUT through turbulent currents. Alas, my wife; a postgraduate student, is asking from the study, “What have you, apart from that ridiculous phoney column, you done academically?” Phew! So you see, Prof Bawa has embarrassed many mere mortals into post-graduate studies.

Therefore, you will be pleased that this is my last column, for a while, as I pursue some necessary academic matters. Besides, I have received that letter mentioned in the middle of the column and I think I deserve some luck so maybe, just maybe, I may have a few million dollars after all. So cheers and thank you for all the phish. And happy surfing.

 *This edited article was published in the East Coast Mail and Dolphin Coast Mail.

Pictured: Colin Thakur is the Director of the iNeSi e-Skills CoLab at the Durban University of Technology. He is a digital activist keen on upgrading the e-skills of the nation to enhance the quality of life. He lives and subscribes to the mantra One-person-One-connected device.

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