Crazy Obscure but Believable Internet Conspiracy: Saudia Flight 163

No, I’m not talking about copypasta stories. I’m referring to real, believable stories which have so much effort put into the background and context that they could indeed be real.

I have prepared a case study for you. It is in reference to the tragedy which saw 301 souls perish on Saudia Flight 163 on 19 August 1980. In summary, the flight took off from King Salman Air Base, up until about a year ago called Riyadh Air Base (and in 1980 known as Riyadh International Airport) and a fire started on board shortly into the flight from Karachi, with a stopover in Riyadh, continuing on to Jeddah. The plane diverted back to the airport and managed a successful emergency landing. But the pilots did not stop on the runway or attempt an evacuation, instead trying to taxi off the runway as everyone on board perished due to smoke inhalation. The widely accepted reason for this is that the pilots were incompetent, backed up by the confusion found in the cockpit voice recorder.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Here are some links for reading, since I won’t type a rehash of the entire ordeal in this post:

Alternative Versions of Events

Now the alternative points of views come in. When watching a bootleg of Air Crash Investigation on YouTube, I read the comments as usual. Something caught my eye.

dis guy

I navigated to the URL and read the article typed up by busbysemperfi or Michael Busby, who says he worked in Saudi Arabia at the time. It was published in 2010 and recounts a separate version of events to news articles and documentaries.

Its description reads:

The appalling truth behind the needless death of 301 people in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. From an eyewitness. In 1980, 301 people went to their death in a most gruesome fashion, all for the convenience of a king.

Although there is no hard evidence, the article recounts when he witnessed the incident. Busby’s version of events explains that King Khalid was in a Boeing 747 taxiing to the runway to take off. Allegedly, “Saudi protocol required everything at the airport to stop moving while the King’s 747 was rolling” (2010, p. 4).

Knowledge of Saudi Arabia and how the country works is highly accurate. It appears to me that this piece of work has been authored by a person who has had the experience of living in Saudi Arabia. However, the one minuscule thing that caught my attention was his variation of the word ‘rial’ on page 5. In Saudi Arabia, the typical spelling used is riyal. Other Middle Eastern countries use rial.

His version of events is backed up by YouTube commenter ‘David Schumock’ who replied to a comment on the matter, who even left his email as a point of contact.

mr conspirasy
Some YouTube comments on the watch page of a documentary upload.

The biggest inconsistency I can see between these two sources is the amount of time the plane spent on the runway. David Schumock is the only person that mentions that the aircraft was still for 20 minutes before a ball of flame appeared.

Another set of evidence is some websites claiming the similar versions of events wherein the plane had to make way for a Royal Flight.

The Role of Saudi King was also Discussed in causing delay in Emergency Procedures but Hush Hush Prevailed.

It is so true that so many Pakistani Died about Flight 163 and yet Pakistan Government made a hush Hush over this Incident and also downplayed the cruel role off Saudi king and that of incompetent Saudia Aviation Delaying rescue of almost 30 Minutes when the doors were opened and people just died and burned inside while they could have been saved . (http://web.archive.org/web/20191211192719/https://pakiav.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-pakistanis-were-burnt-alive-in.html)

However, none of these articles mention that a 737 departed and a DC-8 that was stopped as mentioned here.

In addition, we should consider what these authors have to gain from lying about the incident. The most obvious reason is to discredit the KSA and its system of government. The singling out of a ‘Saudi King’ appears to be a direct attack on the monarchy and possibly the image of autocracy.

References

YouTube. 2019. Air Crash Investigation -Mystery of Saudia Flight 163 -SV 163 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq7oA3IG02o. [Accessed 14 September 2019].

Scribd. 2019. Death of An Airplane: The Appalling Truth About Saudia Airlines Flight 163 | Aviation | Aeronautics. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.scribd.com/doc/38040625/Death-of-An-Airplane-The-Appalling-Truth-About-Saudia-Airlines-Flight-163. [Accessed 14 September 2019].

Paki Aviation : How Pakistanis were Burnt Alive in Mysterious Flight 163 Because of Saudi Royal Family . 2019. Paki Aviation : How Pakistanis were Burnt Alive in Mysterious Flight 163 Because of Saudi Royal Family . [ONLINE] Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20191211192719/https://pakiav.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-pakistanis-were-burnt-alive-in.html. [Accessed 11 December 2019].

PPrune Forums (2019). Saudi 163 – PPRuNe Forums. [online] Pprune.org. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20191211195528/https://www.pprune.org/accidents-close-calls/617221-saudi-163-a.html

https://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/1342.pdf

Unique Usernames and People Who Want Them

One phenomenon I’ve come across on the internet are unique usernames and the logistics behind people or businesses wanting to steal them, swap them, or purchase them for themselves. Such examples are Moz, Mozilla, Fred, Cosmic Panda, etc.

In 2007, the ‘moz’ username on Twitter.com was taken by Swedish web user Per Mosseby. At some point in either 2012 or 2013, the username was taken over by an SEO business also called Moz.

I had this happen to me on a lesser known web forum for Google Maps. One day I logged in to find a screen forcing me to create a username, but I already had one called ‘Alexander’ which I thought I would cleverly grab while the forum was new. I typed it into the screen, since I assumed I had already ‘owned’ it and it cannot be given to anyone else (turns out it can).

I was greeted with this:

stealers

Therefore, I can only assume that a Google employee or moderator desired the username and took it from me to use it for his/her own account.

People will go great lengths to grab unique usernames online. There have been times when a large business or public figure will somehow quietly steal the username. For example Fred on YouTube was famously given the ‘Fred’ username, which was forcibly taken from its original owner.

However, sometimes businesses will use diplomacy to try and acquire a username. Web user foszor posted online that when Twitter was new, he took the username Mozilla.’ Time passed, and he was contacted by a lawyer for the business. He had tweeted foszor asking him to send an email, then deleted the tweet afterwards. It ended up being a legitimate dialogue for exchanging the username. In return for giving up ‘Mozilla,’ foszor received “2 t-shirts, 3 buttons and some stickers.”

He also mentions that he had the ‘CBS’ username, and that it was stolen from him without any conversation.

The standard procedure businesses go through to acquire usernames is to contact the site and say that they want their trademarked name for themselves. For example, with Instagram you would have to go through a trademark infringement form.

Here is an interesting article about someone who had his rare username stolen through social engineering.

Saudi Arabia is Changing

I’ve had the unusual pleasure of living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for nine years of my life. Of course, the way us Westerners view the country is a lot different to the way Arabs do. We live in compounds surrounded by high walls and electrified wires with watch towers, they tend not to. Instead they live in houses with… high walls. According to my old Arabic teacher; the higher the walls are, the more important the person living there is.

King Salman hasn’t been seen in public for ages now due to poor health. His reign hasn’t lasted very long. After the death of Abdulaziz in 2015, Salman took over. Now, King Salman has fallen ill and it is thought that he could pass any day now, so the reign has been passed onto another Salman; Crown Prince Salman – who now rules the KSA.

What do the other Arab royals think of it? I’d imagine he’s quite polarising for them. He’s kicked most of them out of their palaces and taken away their money, theoretically to invest in more important things.

The new crown prince has seen Saudi Arabia boast changes mostly aimed at modernisation. Stepping foot into the country for the first time after nine years of living away, I couldn’t believe it. The airport now has shops in it, civilians and women working at the immigration, new glass gateways, and restaurants – all previously unimaginable for the country.

They’ve built over and placed a shop floor over what used to be a bridge over the fountains to the gates.
The architectural design of King Khalid International is a unique one. It’s nothing like the boring metal sheeted airports you get elsewhere.

Incredible, I thought. Later during my stay, I found out that popular Western music artists would be performing in the country; the Black Eyed Peas, Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo, and David Guetta. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to see any of these famous people perform in Saudi Arabia of all places. I managed to see the Black Eyed Peas and Amir Diab, a famous Egyptian singer.

In addition, I thought something was off when I was at the shopping centres in the city. It took me a while to realise, but I saw women working in the shops. “Hang on,” I thought – “since when could women work here?” Turns out that they’ve been able to work here for three years now. However, some archaic and skewed religious laws remain. At the concert, I noticed a security guard leaning into the crowd from the fence and shouting in Arabic at some men. I had no clue what was being said, but it was clear that he wanted them to leave the crowd. After thirty seconds of that, he noticed me and started pushing me and shouting in Arabic. I wouldn’t budge, so he gave up after a moment. Some nearby onlookers introduced themselves to me and then told me that he was trying to separate the men from the women. Crazily enough, I managed to capture some of it on my phone below. It appears that the culture has yet to catch up.

On the topic of Formula E, it was a showcase event for the country to show the rest of the world that it can be like them. It’s the first of its kind in the country, aimed at the international community as if to say “come in, we’re open.” Below are a few pictures I took at the event.

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The city of Riyadh is expanding rapidly. Only ten years ago, it was a tiny city with only two skyscrapers; Al Faisaliyah Tower and Kingdom Tower. Below are some photos from the top of Kingdom Tower (AKA Kingdom Centre).

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Only 15 years ago, all of this land was desert in the outskirts with the roads being paved by steamrollers.
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In the distance is the financial district, it’s all new and only came into existence within the past few years.

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The bridge on top of Kingdom Tower.
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In the centre is Al Faisaliyah Tower.

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Only about 20 years ago, most of the buildings in the photos above didn’t exist. It was all desert with only steamrollers paving the roads now filled with traffic. The country is rapidly catching up with the rest of the world, but it still isn’t a nice place for women to live. Need to get an Uber? You may need to get in a separate one from a woman. The Mutaw’ah or religious police barely seem to exist anymore – if they still do in the capital. They would be men with robes sporting golden lining, armed with swords. They would usually catch out any women who aren’t wearing an abaya or a headscarf.

Strange Method of trying to Extort Money using Combo Lists Uncovered

[scammer]@pnpytur.com says

I do know [old password I used once when I was 12, anyone can find it on the anti public combo list] one of your password. Lets get directly to purpose. You don’t know me and you are probably thinking why you are getting this email?

actually, I installed a malware on the xxx streaming (porno) site and guess what, you visited this site to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were watching videos, your web browser started operating as a Remote control Desktop that has a keylogger which provided me with accessibility to your display screen and web camera. Right after that, my software program collected all of your contacts from your Messenger, social networks, and e-mailaccount. And then I created a double-screen video. 1st part displays the video you were viewing (you have a fine taste hehe), and second part shows the view of your cam, yea its you.

You do have a pair of alternatives. Shall we read the possibilities in aspects:

First option is to ignore this e-mail. Then, I most certainly will send your very own video recording to just about all of your contacts and also just imagine about the embarrassment you will definitely get. And consequently if you are in an affair, just how it is going to affect?

Number 2 solution should be to pay me [absurd amount of money which no one will pay]. Lets refer to it as a donation. Then, I most certainly will instantaneously discard your videotape. You could continue on your lif e like this never took place and you will not ever hear back again from me.

You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

BTC Address: [he put his bitcoin address in here]

If you have been planning on going to the law enforcement, look, this email can not be traced back to me. I have covered my steps. I am just not looking to charge a fee very much, I simply want to be compensated.

You now have one day to pay. I have a special pixel within this e mail, and now I know that you have read through this email message. If I don’t get the BitCoins, I will send your video recording to all of your contacts including members of your family, coworkers, and so on. Having said that, if I receive the payment, I will erase the video right away. If you really want evidence, reply with Yes! & I definitely will send out your video to your 7 contacts. It’s a nonnegotiable offer, so please do not waste mine time and yours by responding to this e-mail.

It’s easy to deal with such a scam, simply ignore the email. The scammer finds your password by looking at combo lists, letting other people do the bulk work for him and then using the password on that list to try (very poorly) to make the threat seem real.

I once believed that this scam was easy to see through, but my computer science buddy Pete told me he was approached by a friend who asked for advice after seeing this scam. The friend was apparently about to pay up before asking my buddy Pete about what she should do.

I was considering sending a response to see what would happen, but if I did that then the scammer would see that me email address is active.

If you’ve received such an email, just ignore it. He can’t do anything except send more emails begging for money.

To protect yourself from these, the only rule you really ever need to follow is don’t re-use passwords and use a password manager.

You can check to see if your password has ever been leaked at https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Bangkok Fury: Reminiscing

In 2016, I went to Bangkok and Pattaya.

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Typically, one would travel to Bangkok for the city life, night life, and all that buzz. Funnily enough, one would travel to Pattaya for the same thing, except there is also a beach there. A thing that has almost always been true about Thailand is that its economy is highly dependent on tourism – a lot of things are targeted at foreigners with lots of disposable income. Over the years, I have noticed the hugely increased likelihood of seeing other foreigners in Thailand whereas there used to only be a few.

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The three displays above are examples of marketing towards the tourist market. The first image is of a food menu I saw in Bangkok; obviously imitating what Westerners would usually go for in a meal, but it also appeals to the local population due to curiosity in what Americans and such usually eat. One easy thing to make fun of is the misspelling of ‘Western Main Cause,’ but I find it interesting just to look at because it reminds you that the person who made the menu probably does not have the same luxuries in technology that we do over here. It is also the determination in the attempt at English shows how important it is that some Thai businesses are able to attract tourists and on some occasions; expatriates.

Soho Town in Pattaya boasts being the first Chinatown there. The interesting thing about this is that it is a recent addition to the city; having only existed there a few years now. There is a massive Chinese presence in Pattaya, especially during the summer where bulk tour groups consisting of hundreds of Chinese tourists visit for cheap. I would think that the existence of a Chinatown is related to this trend, as it must be a popular place for meeting up and doing things.

The lit up London Calling billboard was found in a hot spot called Nana Plaza in Bangkok. Funnily enough, there were actually British people around here. Again, the symbolic link in Western iconography shows the importance of being able to attract tourists for business.

The above photo was something I found humorous. A statue I saw in a hotel lobby in Bangkok and I just had to snap a picture. More than meets the eye – what is the connotation in the statue of a plump woman walking her dog? It’s an impression of the average Western female, of course! The small details matter when you look into them.

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A Holographic Music Visualiser

For my final year, I made a box that can visualise music. But not just any box, it’s a hollow wooden frame with a perspex/acrylic prism. Photos are better at explaining.

It works by loading songs from a SoundCloud playlist and the visuals react to the wavelengths. But there’s more! You can control it using gestures such as swiping left, right, up, and down, and swirling your hand in front of a Flick board connected to a Raspberry Pi. The project was coded in Python and uses Electron for its renderer.

There’s also a 60 second video I made to go along with the final final assignment.

I also kept a blog of documenting the build as part of the project: https://as14acz6.tumblr.com/

Launched a New Blog

April 2018 edit: Took the site down, wasn’t used, but it’s too exploitable. Pyramid schemes suck anyway

Hi-diddly-ho neighbourino!

I’ve launched a Tumblr blog that’s set to give out discount coupons for G Suite. Now that I’ve used the word Tumblr, WordPress has probably blacklisted this blog post from reaching search engines, oh well! Haha.

Anyway, it can be found at https://gsuitediscountcodes-eu.tumblr.com

Only works for users in some countries in Europe and the UAE.

WordPress or Tumblr?

After about a year of using WordPress, very little entices me to stay. You have to pay annually to get your own domain mapped, as I have done. It’s free to do so on Tumblr. You have to pay to remove ads. There are no forced ads on Tumblr blogs. You would even get more control with a Blogger site.

ads tumblr
A free option of Tumblr’s that WP makes you pay for

Here’s a little list I’m about to brainstorm about why Tumblr is better than WordPress:

  • You can edit HTML for free on Tumblr, you have to pay with WordPress
  • There is a greater impression of community with Tumblr, giving you the freedom of choice to ‘reblog’, ‘like’ posts, or follow blogs if you wanted
  • Tumblr is completely free of gimmicks such as paying to remove ads, mapping domains, with the exception of ‘premium themes’
  • Tumblr is easier to use in my opinion, it has just as much flexibility as WordPress, if not more
  • In my opinion, even the ‘personal’ plan WordPress has is overpriced – why should I pay for these things when I can get it for free elsewhere?

So then, why should anyone choose WordPress? If you’re rich or a business; WordPress has more business tools to offer for people willing to pay for them. These are Search Engine Optimisation tools and other ‘plugins’ (like bolt-ons from your mobile phone provider). Oh and there was a Tumblr password leak years ago. Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem if you follow rule #1 of passwords; never re-use them.

Well that begs the question; why did you choose WordPress, Dufus?

Because after having used Blogger, then Tumblr, I felt like a change. Now I’ve experienced all the big three blog sites, I have to say that I feel Tumblr outdid the competition. However; I’ve done too much on this blog now to be able to move, unless I just copy all my posts over. It’d be a long process though.