Tuesday, 21 March 2017

#Project52 Week 11

 This week's Photo is some very cute knitted bunnies. In work we are raising money for the Welsh Air Ambulance as our charity of the year and one of the woman has been knitting and selling Easter critters  :)  



I bought 4 of them - 1 each for H and D and 1 for my big niece E and 11 for me too. Each bunny is sat on a egg (Creme or Caramel or MilkyBar). I don't normally get the kids chocolate for Easter as they get way too much but I coudn't resist these cute buns (and it follows on a bit from last week's photo of the demonic Easter bunny in west Wales lol)



Disney's Beauty and the Beast - oh the stereotyping!

**Spoiler alert**

Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere you will know that Disney has just released the live action version of Beauty and the Beast (it came out at cinemas on the weekend). What you may not know is that this is being touted as Disney's first movie with an openly gay character *gasp*

That's providing that you don't buy into the controversy that was the two women with short hair walking with a baby in a pushchair in Finding Dory that is, because you know if your a woman with short her walking with another woman with short hair you must be a card carrying dyke!

But I digress

LeFou, Gaston's erstwhile sidekick and best friend, has been touted across media as Disney's first gay character. The director and actors have all bigged up this very special moment in the movie of some wonderfully gay scene. Weird countries with outdated homophobic laws have banned the movie or given it a higher than PG rating, American religious nuts have boycotted the theaters etc etc etc

So what is this amazing scene? this scene which is catapulting homosexuality into the heart of Disney and family life?

Perhaps its LaFou's declaration of undying love for Gaston as he lays dying in his arms, finishing with a tender kiss? Or maybe a hot and heavy bit of PDA? perhaps LaFou plants a smacker on Gaston's lips and says forget Belle, pick me? Perhaps it's something big?

Nope, it's a ridiculous predictable stereotypical piece of cinematic BS.

Before I give away the "big" ending let me rewind to a part about 3/4 into the movie - it's the part where the villagers storm the castle and the random alive objects in the castle are fighting back. Three male villagers are fighting the wardrobe. Her way of defeating them is to dress them in girls clothing - oh the humanity of it all! Two of the men rush off terrified by the fact they are in women's clothing - dear god wont someone think  of the children? The third smiles and appears super pleased to be wearing Lady's clothes and saunter off. (Yes lets throw a quick cheap laugh in about cross dressing - way to go Disney)

Fast forward to the big scene which is simply there is a ball at the end after the Beast has changed into his rather ugly (sorry dude) human form and everyone is rejoicing in the castle and doing those rather formal dances where they all move in set patterns - like line dancing without the funky cowboy hats.

LaFou is dancing with a woman,  as they switch out dance partners he is suddenly dancing with a man, but it's  not just any man, oh no, it just happens to be the guy who enjoyed being dressed in women's clothing. That's right folks all gay men love the colour pink, cross dressing and getting their hair and make up done! The scene is on the screen for about 3 seconds - blink and you will miss it.

What a total cop out and let down from Disney - there was nothing to it - if people hadn't been bigging it up as a gay scene it would never have crossed people's minds that it was. It is a huge disappointment that Disney in 2017 are promoting gay people using stereotypes and as the butt of a joke - the sort of joke you would find at a 1990's holiday camp on a wet weekend in June with a blue comedian who is amusing to members of the BNP!

The scene doesn't  add anything to the movie - it's just an added bit of fluff that leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth.

Don't get me wrong I actually did enjoy the movie (after the first 15 minutes of mentally going ooh its Hermione that is!), I just wish Disney had actually just had a normal gay couple going about their daily lives without any of the dated slightly (or depending on your views very) negative stereotypes.




Sunday, 19 March 2017

Competition Scams - E-mails

I said a while ago I would put some updated posts on comping, reviews and freebie hunting as people keep asking me about it.

Today I thought I'd put a post about e-mail scams particularly relating to competitions but also a little bit of freebie hunting and reviews too - as always I'd like to point out I am not an expert, that scammers like the flu are forever evolving and changing their tactics and therefore there is always a new scam being cooked up somewhere! Hopefully this will at least help you recognise some of the more common scams.

Firstly, I'd always recommend not using your primary e-mail account for comping or freebie hunting. You can easily make a secondary account at the hundreds of free sites around - personally I would recommend gmail or hotmail over yahoo (just because there is an issue with yahoo e-mails being bounced by some companies running competitions - I have no idea why).

Secondly I would make this e-mail different from your full name, your location or year of birth. So instead of JoeBloggs93@hotmail.com or JoeBLondon@gmail.com I'd  use 09PokemonFan@hotmail.com or so on - the reason for this is simply to reduce the ease of a scammer finding out personal information about you from your e-mail or use it to guess your password (it's crazy but people still use their name and dob or location and dob as their password!).

Scams

You receive an e-mail saying:

This e-mail address has been chosen as a possible winner in xxx sweepstakes /competition / to review a dazzlingly expensive product.

Click the link to see if you are our winner/our chosen product tester

The e-mail will have some variation of the text above. It might have flashing lights or a big bold red box, sparkly arrows or whatever all pointing to a link. Normally the link is a masked URL and the text will not often include the website name or address

Click "HERE" to see if your a winner - with the HERE being a clickable link.

This is going to be a scam - the link will take you to either:

1. an information harvesting page where you will be asked to complete some personal details in order to claim your item - your details will then join a list which will be sold on to  third parties and others so you can be bombarded with SPAM and you will find out your not actually a winner at this time or you will be invited to increase your chances to win by signing up for even more offers and junk.

2. as above but also asks you to sign up to various offers / companies in order to validate your entry - this not only information harvesting for the company but earning through affiliation links too -  a bonus for them as it earns them money

Another variation of this e-mail is the following 3 people have been chosen to win - and it will list 3 names normally with yours in the middle - same process of click the link to see if you have won as above (in case your wondering how do they know my name? You have probably at some point signed up on a site as per number 1 above who have marked you down as a sucker and sold your details on to their spammy mates so they can spam you too - isnt that nice?)

3. If your really unlucky the link will take you to a page rife with malware/spyware which will be downloaded onto your computer - leaving you open to all sorts of nasties!

4. If you open on a mobile you may be taken to a page full of pop ups saying that your system is going to crash, your ID is being stolen and all sorts of other alarmist crap with a 'download now' or 'click here' to fix the problem - again that's a whole world of nasty you don't want to touch.

The point of this is:

DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK - DO NOT REPLY TO THE E-MAIL - DELETE IT

Pretty much all e-mail comp/review scams follow the above.

If it is a genuine win/product review offer it will:

1. come from an e-mail address with the companies domain name or from a PR company. A simple google  of the domain name should let you see if it's a real company or not. A google of the full e-mail address or the persons name and company can also help you identify known scams - there are literally hundreds of people and sites out there dedicated to stopping scammers and people do post these details online - it takes 2 seconds to check!

NB people can 'mask' their e-mail address to make it look like it's coming from a specific  person - this is more  prevalent on paypal refund / bank access scams - however you can check this by hitting reply and double clicking on the email address to see the full address (just hitting reply doesn't work as it shows the address / name given by the scammer rather than the actual address). 

2. Should contain full contact details for the person/ company - usually in their signature. This may not be true for smaller companies or bloggers but at the least they will usually include a link back to their website/blog.

3. Contain specific details about the comp / prize which you can google to find the original competition (or if you use mse or one of the competition sites search to find in the expired comps section). If you can find literally no details of the comp or prize then its unlikely to be real.

4. Usually ask you to reply to the e-mail with your details or call them rather than directing you to click on a link (and generally they will not expect you to fill in an attachment either - if the e-mail comes with an attachment unless your certain where it is from don't open it)

(again there may be some companies that have you follow a link but in my experience they generally don't - an exception to this might be if you are getting an item to review and the company sends you a code/e-voucher to use on their website or to use on another site such as amazon to get the item for free)

5. Not ask for payment
The exception to this will be if:
- the company has specified that p&p or fitting is not included or it is for a holiday or similar where you have asked to make changes to the specified prize which they have allowed but at an additional cost e.g. upgrading a room or if the prize is for 2 people adding an extra person to the booking.

It all sounds like pretty much common sense but scammers are good at what they do - whilst we all know the laughable charitable good Dr from Narobi who has been entrusted with $25 million us dollars that he wishes to share with us is written in awful English is completely  fake, a well written and designed e-mail can actually sucker us in!

If in doubt - check it out!


Seriously, google it, ask in comping groups, ask on forums, ask on FB, ask your comping friends - there are sites and people who dedicate a large portion of their time to sniffing these scams out so make use of their hard work and keep your e-mail and personal details safe.

Comments and suggestions for improvements of  my posts are always  welcome - unless they are about my shitty grammar or writing style which could be improved on but wont be



Saturday, 18 March 2017

Amazon Prime Versus Netflix which one to keep?

I've decided in order to save money I need to drop either my Amazon Prime or my Netflix subscription. So thought I'd try and compare them in order to work out which to keep.

I'm currently paying £7.99 per month for Prime which includes a lot of free delivery, music and videos

Netflix is £5.99 a month (for use on 1 screen at a time only).

Prime

Before Amazon made all the changes for reviewers I was doing a tonne of reviews so Prime was great for the free 1-day delivery. Since the changes I haven't been doing as many reviews mainly because the items available are not as great and the discount for reviewing isnt as big. Add in that the set up they have now about how you can only do a limited number of reviews (it's supposed to be unlimited for verified purchases BUT it the programme they use is pants and half the time it shows purchases  that are verified as unverified and unverified as verified so half the time you cant do more than 4/5 a day)  so where as before I was doing 20+ reviews a week mainly over the weekend I am now doing maybe 5 a month.

Another issue with Prime for me is I cant play it through my TiVo box - I have to play it through my android box and it's a bit glitchy and awkward to use. I also find it annoying that even thought I am paying for a subscription service not all the shows I want to see are free so I have to pay for them!

The good thing about it is there is a decent amount of music you can stream for free - you can also download your playlists - so if you have a limit to your data you can download the music to your device when your connected to wi-fi and listen off line without using your data allowance. I use the amazon music app loads on my mobile. You can also buy music that isn't included as well a bit like iTunes.

Netflix

Netflix has a great selection of original series (okay Prime has some too but Netflix has more). I love the fact that a lot of the shows on Netflix have great LGBT characters - OITNB, Sense8, Shadow Hunters to name a few, plus tonne of really good sci-fi and fantasy series and tonnes of movies. It is built into my TiVo box so no fuss or muss. It can be difficult to find what you want to watch if your watching on the TiVo but easy to find on the laptop.

It's literally just TV and Films no other extras.

I think of the 2 I will keep Netflix and cancel Prime for now - the good thing is that you can cancel Prime and then start up again on the monthly package when you want. In a few months when the holiday is paid for I may well re-sign up!




#PostPost Week 11

This weeks post :)

1.Review from Vipon - a really cute family tree wall decal



2. FREEBIE Perfume sample



3. Review from VIPON - I needed a case for my Samsung S7 so was pleased when this one popped up as I didnt want to spend a lot on one



4. Review from ao.com - a new Microwave and Grill (worth £75! - see my how to review guide if your interested in reviewing for them it's super easy and you can review every 6 months)





5. Win/Freebie - not sure where this came from but it's a nice full size Burt's Bees lippy










Friday, 17 March 2017

Holiday Planning

Holiday planning is in full swing here in crazy cat lady towers!



Now as per usual I am heading off to my happy place in September - Sunny (hopefully!) Orlando.

This year we are going for the last 2 weeks of September and the 1st week of October so a little later than usual for us as we normally go for the first 2 weeks of September, but it falls in time for the fabulous Halloween celebrations as well as the food and wine festival at Epcot

Halloween Decs outside Magic Kingdom
We are doing the trip as cheaply as possible as per usual because I'm broke and the dollar is so bloody awful that the cost of food and shopping is going to be higher.

So far we have booked:


  • Coach travel to London Gatwick - booked for the day before travel £17.50 for all 3 of us :) Paid in Full
  • Travelodge Central Gatwick - booked family room for the night before  travel and includes an all you can eat breakfast £62 for all 3 of us Paid in Full
  • Flights out - with Thomas Cook - booked using skyscanner - cheapest direct flights out at £200 per person including meals and baggage Paid in Full
  • Hotel and Disney Tickets via Disney - we are staying at the Clarion Inn in Lake Buena Vista with 14 day Disney tickets - even though we are going for 3 weeks we don't need to have 21 day passes as we have plenty of other things to do (Hello Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens!) Total cost for 3 adults - £1737 so around £550 each, however over £300 of that is on the Disney tickets so the hotel for 3 weeks is like £250 per  person - admittedly that is 3 of us in a room with 2 double beds. Paid £350 with balance due July
Left to book:
  • Flights home - currently these are looking at coming in around £220 per person with Thomas Cook
  • Coach home from airport - around £25 per person
  • Universal, SeaWorld, BuschGardens tickets - currently around £200 per person for 14 days unlimited tickets to all of them plus free transport out to Busch Gardens
I am also wanting to get Universal Halloween Horror Nights which are around $100 each and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at around $80 each.

Food money we tend to budget around $10 a day - which sounds very low but we also each put in $50 to a kitty and do a big Walmart shop - out hotel room has a fridge and microwave so we will be having breakfast in the room most days and taking snacks and drinks out with us. We tend to only eat one big meal during the day and some days that might be Golden Coral (around $12 at lunch time for all you can eat / drink and damn the food choice is amazing) or Cici's (around $7 any time all you can eat pizza, salad, pasta, desserts and drinks - and there are always vouchers around to use to get a discount there) or it might be dinner at the food court in the mall (around $6) or even a McDonalds ($4). So whatever is left off one day's budget can go towards a nicer meal another day. 

We will eat a few times in the parks as well so we wont be starving

So the budget for food is like £250 each due to the shitty dollar rate - I keep hoping it's going to go up but it hasn't so far boo!

Spending money wise I will be taking as much as I can with me as I like to go shopping and buy shoes and clothes out there - but as I have been there so many times I dont go big on souvenirs so really I'll be taking around £500 spending money and my credit card :) 

I've booked my annual leave off from work and now it's all about paying the balances and and saving!





Thursday, 16 March 2017

Dental Ouchies

I've been a bit quiet because once again I have had dental ouchies.

I had a standard appointment to get a filling done / replaced and when I got there they decided to extract my broken tooth as well. It wasn't painful at the time  but it was uncomfortable - he literally gripped my mouth with hand whilst wigging the tooth and pulling for about 20 minutes with the other.

After the anesthetic wore off though - oh my god! It's not like the pain I had with the wisdom tooth but more like every single part of my lower jaw has been pounded and pounded some more by a hammer!

So, yeah I am not really feeling the love for life right now but it will heal and the pain will fade but until then I am going to hole up in my bed and whimper!