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You can take that to the bank

So how is this for a crazy story I heard about via the online grapevine: some crooks in America built a fake ATM machine and stuck it on a wall on a busy street. People went up to this machine, stuck in their electronic banking card, punched in their pin, and then got a message on the screen that read: “System error – please call your bank branch.”

And of course, the machine swallowed their card. Just think about the genius of this wicked con story. You go up to a machine, unsuspecting. You insert your card and type in your pin. Then you think something has gone wrong and you have to call your bank. You have no reason to believe there is any wrongdoing so, yes, while you are annoyed that the machine gulped down your card, you don’t realise you have just been robbed. Or are about to be robbed.

What happens now is that the con artists have your card and your pin number. They simply walk on over to the real ATM machine down the road and withdraw your cash. By the time you actually call your bank they have withdrawn your full daily allowance. At a few hundreds cards a day and we are talking substantial loot. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight

Selling the Internet

The Internet is a fascinating place, er, space. I have been online since day one, well, you know what I mean. And I have seen some funky stuff going on in cyberspace. Back in 1993, when the Internet first began to make news, myself and a bunch of hyperactive computer nerds took the streets in an effort to evangelise this new world. If was a tough gig.

But it was filled with inspired adventures and light-hearted moments. I wanted to touch on some of those moments in today’s column as I was reminded a few months ago of how fast the world has changed (and is still changing).

A friend of mine recently told me that her husband thought he had broken the Internet. I remember over 10 years ago people calling us up saying that wanted to buy the Internet. The most common phrase we heard was “We would like to Internet”. So, let’s go back a short while and see how colourful our world has become.

Let’s start off by pondering over the famous chicken and egg equation. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight

Hot spots actually

I got to tell you a hot story. Well, er, a hot spot story actually.I am sitting here at Heathrow airport and voila, my WiFi enabled laptop picks up a hot spot provided by T Mobile. I have a bunch of e-mails in my outbox so I am keen to go online, sync up my laptop with our mail server back at IS via my VPN client (ie, with a secure encrypted “tunnel”) and then the e-mails will be on their way.

I have a little bit of time before my connecting flight so I figured I would also work on my latest column. Ok, so the hot spot story. Well, you put in your credit card number etc. and you get one hour of wireless Internet access. Sounds perfect.

I have just over an hour to spare before my next flight. So, I sync up, the e-mails hit the Net and then I do a bit of thinking about a bunch of stuff and then I decide to get something to eat. Ok, I am back. Had a quick bite. But, wait a minute, when I fire up my laptop again and go online it tells me I only have 20 minutes of online time left with T Mobile. And this got me thinking. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight

Networking power and Corporation Community

Ronnie AptekerPulling power. Buying power. The power in numbers.

Today’s column is all about the power of networks, and networking. The opposite of networking is not working, as a wise man once said to me.

Have you ever walked into a store and asked for a cash discount. And how about a bulk discount?

Not so easy when you are on your own. But if you knew of someone else who wanted to buy the same car, say, then perhaps you could go to the car dealer and ask for a better price if you purchased two new vehicles instead of one. And perhaps you could now go and find a few more friends who want the same car.

As your network of liked-minded buyers grows, then so does your leverage. Networking is all about leverage. Both offline and online. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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