Visiting the Moravian Caves

So I am back in the land of the real Budweiser. I have been here for a week and a half now, and during the weekend, it is always apt to explore some of the local cultural attractions and riches. As the plan went, we visited the world-famous Moravian caves (Moravsky kras).

Still based in Brno, we took the train there at around nine in the morning. First had an espresso though, which is also good.  But the Czech’s make it way too soft, just like their faint beers. Quantity over quality, so it apparently goes.  The conductor, a lady, in her four-ties, looked quite fashionable: fancy shoes, skirt and jacket. It made me think that their policies are quite liberal. Turns out later she was just not in uniform. As  she stamped our train tickets, I was confronted with reality: where I had been over the last couple of days, in time and space.

After an hour or so, we got farther away from the railways, hopped on the bus, heading to the caves. The public transportation in Czech is quite different from what I’m used to.  The trains are just plain old-fashioned. Often still steaming around. But the bus we were on, was actually pretty good. Very comfortable as there were cotton chairs, like we seemed to be in a coach. And as a matter of fact, we were going on a long distance trip, an excursion, so that was fairly convenient.

As always, when you go on adventure, there should be some adventure. So well, we got off a the wrong stop. In the middle of nowhere! Had to walk for two kilometers and finally ended up at a tourist information office. We tried so hard, but couldn’t explain as none of us speaks Czech and their English happened to be very poor. The map we had in our hands got turned around all the time but we still didn’t understand how to reach the caves. After a while and after basically giving up,  we were so lucky, because these people offered us a ride! We were in the total opposite direction, so were very fortunate that a helpful and benign Czech brought us to our highly-anticipated destination.

Our guided tour would start at eleven, so we still had some time to explore the kart region. The landscape is hilly, surrounded by deep valleys, streams, caves, gorges and high trees. All very impressive. Actually, the kart area is the birthplace of modern karstology and speleology or caving. Although the distance between the many caves in the region is not that big, little trains and cables help you move between them. The trains are called “pleasure” trains, but we doubt if you have much pleasure in them.

After a hot chocolate – I had the Cioccolata Bianca Alla Nocciola, a white hot chocolate with nuts – we were all set for the Punkva caves. The Punka caves are part of a large cave system created by the water courses that have flowed for millenia from the north in the karstified limestone region. The caves were discovered in stages in the years 1909–1933 by Professor Absolon’s group of speleologists. We walked through mighty underground spaces and corridors decorated with stalactites and stalagmites as far as the bottom of the world-famous Macocha abyss. The abyss is an impressing and whopping 138,7 meters deep! So what is really interesting about the Punkva caves compared to others? Well, that it comes with a motor boat ride, that takes you along  to the Masaryk Cave. That was simply amazing and pretty unique I guess.

We still had some time when finishing the tour, and as it was over noon already we went to the local restaurant. Had a tasty cordon bleu accompanied with a Pilsner Urquell to end the beautiful spring day with. On the way back, memories filled my head.

Belevingswereld

Vandaag wil ik het kort houden. Ik wil gewoon stellen dat de belevingswereld van vrouwen veel “lokaler” lijkt,  dan die van mannen.  Waarbij ik gewoon wil generaliseren. Dat is wat ik vaststel wanneer ik bijvoorbeeld een gesprek voer met iemand van het andere geslacht. Het kan volgens mij perfect verklaart worden met de evolutietheorie. Mannen hebben het natuurlijke instinct. Wanneer ze gingen jagen, is hun bereik altijd al groter geweest. Hun interesses zijn niet voor niets andere “vrouwen”, voetbal en auto’s. Zaken die met competitie, sport en adrenaline te maken hebben. Vrouwen daarentegen zaten vroeger thuis, aan de haard. Bij het gezin of de kroost. Ze hechten veel meer belang aan nauwe relaties. Ze zijn emotioneel, houden van drama, spanning en avontuur. Je voelt aan dat hun belevingswereld kleiner is. Ook vandaag nog.

Lingoes

Sometimes you run into some very decent, plain good, old school and extremely functional software. I think Lingoes is one of those fabulous software. It is a great piece of technology and is unbelievably convenient to use.

So here some positive words as it is a great product.

So what is it? Well, a dictionary! Or let’s call it a full-blown dictionary. A life hacker tool.

Actually, it comes with all the functionality you ever wish for. Popular dictionaries and thesauruses it supports are Wikipedia, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (4th), Collins COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary (4th), WordNet English Dictionary, MacMillan English Dictionary – American, Le Nouveau Petit Robert de la langue française 2007 and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. It supports cross translation over 80 languages, full text translation over 43 languages, zoned word translation, clipboard text capturer, words and texts pronunciation and online dictionaries like Google Dictionary, Jukuu English Sentence, Google Web Definition and so on. Additionally, the dictionary also features extra tools like a currency converter, weights and measures converters, international dialing codes, time zone converter. There is a periodic table included, a calculator, a base 64 encoder and MD5 algorithm generator. There is information to be found about abbreviations and irregular verbs.

Woah, that’s just impressive! A fantastic integration with the Web too.

Finally, the new version comes with integrated cursor translator (Ctrl + right mouse button). So basically, with selection of word or sentence in, say for example Internet Explorer or anywhere on your screen by the cursor, it will translate as many as 23 languages of text in your native language.

Here’s how the software looks like. Mini window, straight-forward and user-friendly.

It’s only for Windows, but should definitely be ported to other OS too!

Huurwoningen.nl en scammers

Huurwoningen.nl zijn uit op geld en het is overspoeld door oplichters.

Toen ik me registreerde op hun website werd dat al vlug duidelijk.

In de eerste plaats zijn ze uit op je geld (vieze SEM’ers ook trouwens!), omdat je om de contactgegevens van een verhuurder te weten te komen, je je niet alleen dient te registreren. Nee, er wordt ook ineens gevraagd naar je bankrekeningnummer. Vanaf je die invoert, en op OK klikt ga je ermee akkoord om hen 35 euro van je rekening af te halen. Je krijgt een Javascript popup te zien, maar die kan je niet annuleren. Je kan niet meer terug, je kan enkel OK bevestigen. Zulke praktijken zijn volgens mij niet zo eerlijk.

Een tweede punt is de inhoud van de site. Huurwoningen.nl lijkt meer een verzameling (aggregator) van aanbiedingen van diverse  makelaarssites. Zelfs aanbiedingen van Kamernet.nl vind ik erop terug. Het enige lichtpuntje is dat er af en toe ook particuliere vehuurders te vinden zijn. Dat gezegd zijnde rechtvaardigt absoluut niet het inschrijvingsgeld van 35 euro – bij Kamernet is het overigs maar 10 euro en oké, bij Directwonen vragen ze een maand voor intermediaire kosten.

Maar nu komt het: er zijn scammers actief op de website in kwestie.

We kwamen een zeer aantrekkelijke woning tegen. Teilingerstraat 35B. Pal in het centrum van Rotterdam. Foto’s zien er geweldig uit. Ideaal. Dit kan toch niet waar zijn?

We maken kennis met Song Chine. Zou het om een Chinees gaan?

Hello,
Bedankt voor uw interesse in mijn appartement. Helaas heb ik niet geschreven in het Nederlands, want ik spreek niet zeer goed en is beter te schrijven in het Engels. Als u problemen met het begrijpen mijn boodschap in het Engels, aarzel dan niet om contact met mij opnemen in het Nederlands, en ik zal mijn best doen om al uw vragen te beantwoorden. First of all I’m sorry for the late reply but I had a lot to work and this is the time I could give you a message. From the site add, you could see, that the apartment located in: Teilingerstraat 53 B, 3032AS, Rotterdam .  It is located on the 3nd floor. I am looking for someone to live in it, as soon as possible, because my company has won the auction for a project, in construction, for a building that will rise up in Firenze, Italy. I am a civil engineer, so my accommodation period in Italy will be about 4 years. The renting period is from 2 months up to 4 years. As a result of this I want to rent, for this period, at this price and also to find the perfect person for my apartment. I`m the owner of the apt and it’s like in the pics. The apartment is furnished, but I have the option of sending all my furniture into storage if you want to bring your own (no extra costs). The rent for 1 month is 650 Euro, but you must to deposit 750 euro/ 1 month 650 Eur + safety deposit of 100 Eur if anything is broken in the apartment during your stay i will keep the deposit, in total 750 Eur including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, air conditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator). You can move in the apt in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys but I hope that we will find a solution.

Thank you for your interest and I will look forward to hearing from you soon.

With Respect,
Song Chine
Via del Pallone, 4
Firenze, 50131    Italy
P.S. Please tell me if this is what are you looking for and reply my only if you are truly interested in the apartment.

Waarop ik reply:

Hi Song,

Thank you for your e-mail.

We are very interested in this offer!

Can we arrange a meeting to visit the apartment anytime soon? I’m currently still in Czech Republic but will be back during the weekend.

Please let me know if you’re available then.

Thansk & Regards,
Kris

Waarop hij antwoord:

Dear Kris,
Thank you for your reply but the matter is that I’m in Firenze already, a beautiful country Czech Republic. I can deliver you the keys at Czech Republic.
Like I have inform you before, the price you shall pay for 1 month of rent + deposit will be 750eur with no extra taxes to pay. The money, I want to receive it monthly to my bank account, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money to my bank account. The apartment is ready for you, you will need only to receive the keys and the contract to check it, and see if you like it. Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are after. In order of that I have found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way you will receive the Keys in less than 2 days, if you move fast as well. The solution is provided by a company called Global Logistics which is similar to FedEx, TNT or UPS, which will handle both payment and delivery of the Keys. I have found a procedure that will allow you to pay for the rent of the apt only after you will receive the keys of it and through this way you will see it and decide if you will stay in the apt or not before I receive my payment. Please click on the link bellow to the Global Logistics website to see how we can complete the deal safely and fast directly from the website of the company where the procedure is explained: http://globalogisticweb.de.be/
Let me know if you are interested please because I really need to take care of this matter.
Thanks

With Respect,
Song Chine
Via del Pallone, 4,
Firenze, 50131 Italy

Zo zo, hij heeft al een oplossing gevonden. GlobaLogisticweb.de.be – website bestaat ondertussen niet meer. Wat een een rare website: een bedrijf dat een gratis .de.be registreert? En hij spreekt over Global Logistics Service? Dat stemt niet echt overeen met die website. Oogt me ook niet zo professioneel. En vergelijkbaar met TNT, FedEx en UPS? Nooit van gehoord! Even in de broncode duiken van GlobaLogisticweb.de.be leert me al snel dat er een iframe ingeladen wordt van de Global Logistic co dot com variant.

Toch maar de interesse opwekken bij onze Chinees.

Hi Song,

Thank you for your swift response.

I understand your hurry, but I have to think it over.

Could you please confirm the following: the rent is 650 euros but including everything it becomes 750? Or does it become 750 because of the insurance in case something is broken?

Please confirm accordingly.

Many thanks,
Kris

In het kort een antwoord ontvangen:

Dear Kris,
The rent is 650 with all utilities included. The rent become 750 only for the first month for the insurance if anything is broken, i have this deposit of 100 Eur.
I hope now everything is clear . If you want to know the steps how we can complete the delivery i wait your answer.

Thank you
Song

Mij een beetje proberen gerust te stellen door zijn adres niet te vermelden. Ik voel me absoluut niet op mijn gemak.

Hi Song,

Yes sounds interesting and is clear now. Please let me know what the next steps are to complete the delivery.

Can I phone you? What’s your phone number?

Please let me know.

Kind regards,
Kris

Oh, ook even opzoeken wat die Globalogistics juist is:

Using our service is easy. All you have to do is register with us. Once you have registered to us we will take you step-by-step through the entire process. The seller ships to the buyer after the exchange provider has the confirmed funds. When the buyer gets and approves of the item, the exchange provider releases the funds If the item is never delivered, the buyer gets his money back. If the buyer is not satisfied with the item, they may return it to the seller. The seller gets the item back, the exchange provider returns the money to the buyer.

Maar toch maar even hem overhalen om meer details bloot te geven want het begint écht interessant te worden. Laten we het spel meespelen.

Hi Song,

We are pretty sure that we’re going to take the apartment: the place looks really beautiful and is located in the center!

Just wondering if you also have washing machine and dryers installed?

You may post the keys to the following address:

(address)

Please let me know your phone number so that we can discuss further.

Thank you for your consideration.

Many thanks,
Kris

Onze Chinees antwoord:

Dear Kris,
Yes in the apartment is a washing machine and dryer .
I want to inform you that Global Logistics will hold the money until you will confirm to them that you like the apt and keep the keys. If you don’t like it, you only have to return the keys to them after they will refund the money to you and they will deliver the keys back to me on my expense.I will need to inform you the steps about how this service works and how we can make it happen. You will only have to deposit to Global Logistics Service for 1 month of rent + deposit – 750eur – so they can proceed with the shipping, and you can receive the keys and the contract. Like I said, I will pay for a 2 days delivery so you will receive the Keys and the contract signed by me right away. I will explain to you step by step how this will work:
1 – To start this transaction i will need to know your full shipping information, full name, full shipping address to proceed with this deal ( you already sent this data to me ).
2 – I go to the Global Logistics Office and leave the Keys and the contract in your name as the intended receiver.
3 – They will check the envelope to see if everything is OK with it and also the legal papers that will come along with the Keys.
4 – They will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the Keys and the papers in their custody, in which you will be told that they have the Keys and that they checked it.
5 – At this point you will have to go to a Western Union Agent Location and make a money transfer deposit on the Global Logistics agent name assigned with this transaction for the amount we agreed, the total amount you shall deposit is for 1 month of rent + deposit.
6 – After you make the deposit you will have to send the info about the money deposit to Global Logistics (Reference Number, sender’s name and address)
7 – They will verify the payment information and if everything is in order they will deliver the Keys and the contract to you .
8 – After you receive the package, You will go and check the apt and in 2 days you must contact them and tell them if you keep the apt or not, if everything is in order you will instruct Global Logistics to release the funds to me. If you don’t like the apt they will send your money back and you will send them the keys and the contract to them to return the package back to me on my expense.
I will pay Global Logistics Service for the shipping and you will pay Western Union for the Money Transfer fees.
Now i must know for sure if you agree because here are a lot of peoples interested to have this apartment rented and i want to know for sure what i must tell them. If you agree what i suggested i will tell them that my apartment is already rented and i will keep it for you. If you agree then i must have all the shipping details so i will be able to make all the arrangements for the Global Logistics delivery.

With Respect,
Song Chine
Via del Pallone, 4,
Firenze, 50131 Italy

Oké. Ik weet genoeg.

Meer evidentie! ‘t Is altijd iets met die “Logistics”.

De laatste e-mail:

Hi Song,

That sounds good. Thanks for clarifying this.

Actually I happen to be on a business trip in Italy in a week or so. Can we possibly meet there. It would be perfect, as you can then hand over the key. That would be really helpful I think and I get to know you in person.

Also, please hand out your phone number so that we can talk to each other.

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,
Kris

Uiteraard geen antwoord meer mogen ontvangen van deze frauduleuze Chinees.

Maar ik heb heel de situatie wel gemeld bij Huurwoningen! Het verbaasd met ontzettend dat zij geen procedure hebben om dergelijke scammers te melden. Dan maar gemaild:

Dear Huurwoningen,

Today we believe we came across a scam on your website.

It deals with the following advertisement: http://www.huurwoningen.nl/huren/rotterdam/101136/teilingerstraat/

The renter presents himself as “Song Chine”. He introduces himself as someone who moved to Italy very recently. Additionally, he is the only one that has the key to the apartment. He therefore asks to wire money to a dubious service called Global Logistics: http://globalogisticweb.com

Please take appropriate action.

Thanks & Regards,
Kris

Tot op heden is daar geen gehoor aan gegeven.  Overigens lijkt Huurwoningen.nl geplaagd te worden door scammers zoals uit volgende screenshot blijkt:

 

Mij vang je niet zomaar.

Update 1: in alle nieuwe aankondigingen, bij bezichtigingsinformatie staat het volgende bericht:

LET OP: Maak nooit geld over naar: “Globalogistic” of de “Western Union Bank” als de verhuurder vraagt om geld over te maken om erna de sleutels geleverd te krijgen. Krijgt u deze vraag, stuur deze mail door naar info@huurwoningen.nl

Update 2: Huurwoningen.nl reageert:

Beste Kris,

Wij van Huurwoningen.nl proberen hier tegenop te treden, maar het is erg moeilijk. Elke keer gebruiken ze een nieuw ip en zijn moeilijk te traceren. Wij hebben nu al meer dan 100 ip adressen geblokt en het schijnt te helpen, het worden er steeds minder. Dankzij de meldingen van onze bezoekers kunnen wij snel verhelpen.

Omdat het plaatsen van woningen gratis is, zal dit probleem zich altijd blijven voordoen, wij houden elke toegevoegd woning in de gaten en zullen direct optreden als we een melding krijgen.

Mvg,

Team Huurwoningen.nl

Send button in Outlook disappeared

A while back I opened my Outlook 2003 to go through the daily routine of checking my e-mails.

There was a pile of e-mails that I had to answer.

Opening an item, formulating an answer in my head, I try to click and reach out for the oh-so-famous reply button. Here comes the clue: it had disappered! Gone.

For those who know CTRL + ENTER: proceed. Doesn’t bring back that magical button though.

Here’s the solution:

Rename the outcmd.dat file to outcmd.old. Then restarted Outlook et voila!

To find outcmd.dat, perform a “Search” from the Start button, but be sure you select the option to look for hidden files and folders (Tools > Folder Options >View > Files and Folders > Hidden Files and Folders > Show hidden files and folders). Or, you might try looking for C:\Documents and Settings\”user”\Application Data\Outlook\outcmd.dat

There you go!