* Posts by Craig

40 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Mar 2008

Millions opted into UK mobile phone directory



To those wondering where they're getting your number, it's fairly simple, your oh-so-angelic mobile telco is selling your data whether you like it or not.

I use T-Mobile* and I'm getting about a call per week from a company saying "we're calling on behalf of T-Mobile as your contract is coming up for renewal". When you push them they always admit they're third-party companies who have bought my details so that they can resell me a new contract and take their cut.

T-Mobile had a warning about this two months ago when they promised they'd never given my details to any third party. I re-confirmed that I originally signed, and still am, on their no-marketing and no-third party lists. Since I'm still getting spam calls, I've sent them a data protection letter telling them they've been naughty and copied in the Information Commissioner.

*brain-fart of a day when I signed up with them... I don't care who I go with when my contract expires as long as it's not T-Mobile.

Poor management hampers gov IT

Paris Hilton

And also in today's news we already knew...

- not many people like Gordon Brown

- not many people know their MEP's name


- Paris Hilton is not a "good girl"

Seriously... did this come as a surprise to anyone? "Government departments don't do well with IT but if they start managing it better then performance improves" I hope no-one paid for this research...

Please kill this cookie monster to save Europe's websites



... the solution is for browser suppliers to change the default setting for cookie handling to "ask" rather than "accept". This way the great unwashed who think their monitor is their computer will be "protected" from those nasty cookies and will be asked their permission before a cookie is set.

Meets the law, regardless of how daft, protects site owners and gives even the least technically gifted the choice of whether they allow a site to set a cookie.

Or is that too simplistic?

Apple rides fanbois to popularity crown (again)


@Jeff - No suprises

"I bet there's a word in German for it."

Yes, Skoda.

Seagate revs up SATA speed


600MB/s pah ... rubbish

2GB/s is where it's at...


(yes, yes, I know it's 24 SSDs rather than one drive but ... it's just a link... and it is rather good)

Dell settles with 34 US states over consumer financing claims


As usual the lawyers win

$1.5m damages, $1.85m plaintiff legal bill.

Did speaker's statement show he doesn't know what day IT is?


A question that had me thinking

If the MPs' IT systems were like the vast majority of corporate infrastructures with data shares held on storage servers and corporate policies about nothing kept on individual machines, would the police have taken the relevant servers and all storage infrastructure as well? How do the police handle incidents in thin client environments where the "desktop" is nothing but a glorified emulator?

Would we have had the situation where the plod would have turned off the Commons' IT systems to preserve one user's data or would they expect the IT people in the Commons to get all the data including mail, shares the MP was allowed write access to and home area shares?

I'm asking because I genuinely don't know but it seems like a very nasty grey area.

Software update nobbles Sky+ boxes


Glad to see it wasn't me...

Our old Sky+ box in the bedroom (Pace PVR2 with 350gb drive upgrade) has been playing up since last week. I thought it was either the PSU starting to go and not give the drive enough juice or the drive itself. Blue screen error this morning and I thought it had finally gone but following those instructions fixed it.

Auto-standby turned off and the missus told to get watching her drivel on there in case it does finally die.

Google Analytics — Yes, it is a security risk


Admin/hidden pages and Google Analytics

I use Google Analytics on my websites but only on the public, non-https and non-admin sites. Logins to the hidden content are completely separate from the public sites, no links from the public sites, no non-https landing sites and no 3rd party site scripts. Still not 100% ideal but the data I get from GA is useful enough that I'll risk the consequences for my fairly unimportant sites.

Surely adding GA to a global header is lazy and counter-productive, isn't it? How difficult is it to simply have a little script that does an add-on to the HTML published to certain directories? Even the consumer-oriented iWeb has a third party Mac Automator script that allows users to selectively choose what I want to "infect" with GA.



Agggggg.... the horror

Please warn when you're going to put a link to the Daily Mail... Now I've contaminated my browser cache with evidence that I've visited that xenophobic bile-fest.

500,000 oppose Red Arrows Olympic ban


A better reply to the petitioners would be:

"Thank you for providing contact details for the entire Daily Mail readership. You're absolutely right, we have banned the Red Arrows and replaced them with the Hungarian Pink Arrows, a gay and lesbian aerobatics troupe. On completion, we have guaranteed them immigrant status with full rights to steal your tax money.

"Have no worries about the security of your data, we've securely stored it on an unencrypted CD and posted it to our outsourced call centre in Iran via second class post. This will help us with the takeover of England with Sharia law as you'll be the first up against the wall.

"Or alternatively you could just STFU and stop being so bloody stupid."

Noel Edmonds defies BBC's jackbooted enforcers


ctrl-c ctrl-v

There is no IT angle to this story. What is it doing here? I am removing The Register from my bookmarks. Please cancel my subscription. I am also dissatisfied with today's weather. Please make the weather the way I like it. Goodbye.


You'd think Edmonds has a new show on telly or something... I take it that all the other semi-controversies have been done to death now that they're having to resort to TV license protests. Maybe he knows that he's only a year or two away from advertising Stannah Stairlifts.

Reg readers rage at comment icon outrage


A few to start

A "but think about the children/terrorists" icon would be appreciated for all those stories when one of those two excuses are used to deprive us of liberties. Maybe a terrorist holding a child hostage?

Maybe a blue screen of death icon for daft Microsoft bugs?

A pile of money being flushed down the bog for the latest government IT project?

A BOFH icon? Surely someone can design something safe for work and appropriate :D

OMFG, what have you done?



My 2p worth:

- not enough white space. Everything is far too cluttered making the site hard to read. Recommendation: Increase the white-space margins around text blocks

- text font size too small. Found myself skipping bits of articles because I the text size is hard to read, I know I can change the zoom settings but why should I? Have a look at a side-by-side comparison of old v new, the ChannelRegister ones make good comparisons. Recommendation: increase the default text size by 1pt, preferably 2.

- adverts are intrusive and not techy-friendly. As mentioned above, more than a few techy people will read this with FF3 and no-script meaning the only ads you get credited for are the GoogleAds ones. I tried it with IE and the ads are so bloody annoying that it's distracting. On FF3 with no-script, the advert/right column stopped with 6 rows of stories to go, on IE, the advert/right column went below the stories. As also mentioned, I won't punch holes in my security setup to read one website, no matter how good although I don't use Adblock as I know sites have to make money. Recommendation: either use more GoogleAds or similar non-Flash/java adverts OR accept that you're going to lose revenue.

- "don't miss" banner should be at the top otherwise it will be missed by many :)

- icons. Pish. Really... just pish. And that's not Paris regardless of what the hover-over text says. Recommendation, either bring back the old ones or pay for some replacements that fit the new site requirements.

- fixed width. Done to death above. At least change the colour to a less claustrophobic side panel.

Overall: not a great fan of the changes, it just gives the site the image of any other Web2.0 bore-fest regardless of content. You need bigger, better, more readable and suitable for techies who whine a lot :D

Logitech V550 Nano wireless laptop mouse

Thumb Down

@ jubtastic1


You need to remember that this mouse fits into the electronic equipment, software and entertainment exchange rate, not the publicly announced general exchange rate. This is the exchange rate that sees those paying in £s being charged much more in real terms than those paying in $s.

It's not the manufacturer's fault, of course, they have to provide all that extra support for the UK base. That English (US) to English (International) translation is very difficult for their Indian call-centre staff.

How to stop worrying and enjoy paying for incoming calls


Misses the point...

I use my mobile phone a fair bit for my business, the number is on my business cards and clients are invited to give me a call anytime. I get at least 3-4 spam calls a day from other companies wanting to sell me their services, completely ignoring my TPS entry for this phone.

The former I'd grudgingly pay for, the latter I'd strongly object to paying for. If someone wants to dial a mobile phone number to spam me services then they should foot every penny of the cost.

Also "people increasingly want one phone number that never changes". Do they? A mobile number is very distinctive and sets people up to accept the mindset that they are calling a less reliable technology than wired lines, may get cut off unexpectedly or catch someone in a hurry who might be a bit more abrupt in giving a "call you back later, on the train" then cutting you off.

I use Skype regularly for calling friends, my wife does as well, this has NEVER resulted in me coming close to my broadband usage cap. The bandwidth used is effectively so trivial compared to my cap that it is free for all intents and purposes.

Enough of the rubbish. Keep it as it is, if someone wants to call me, let them pay the cost of the call; if they don't want to pay, no-one is forcing them to call. Conversely, why should I have to pay to find out if I want to speak to whoever is calling me?

Burned by Chrome - Fire put out


Para 11.2

Surprised that para 11.2 isn't included in the article:

"11.2 You agree that this licence includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organisations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services."

In short, they can take your data and pimp them to the highest bidder.

Yay for Google's fair and liberal EULA...

Skype ignores PayPal siphoning hijack scheme


Recurring Paypal

There have been enough incidents now with Paypal, eBay, etc. that anyone who uses anything that allows auto-charging via Paypal is either startlingly naive or simply stupid. To make it worse, some people who read sites like this STILL do it.

I have a hardware Skype phone (the Netgear one) for the wife to phone her friends and family who are abroad. She calls one elderly relative using Skype-out but this has a manual credit update where I refuse to store card details on the Skype account and have to re-enter them every time I want to add £10. If someone hacks this account, the best they'll get is about £10.

As said above, t'internet is full of bad guys. Work on the assumption that regardless of how good you are at this IT lark, you will get ripped-off eventually and plan accordingly.

Wi-Fi: You old new smoothie?

Paris Hilton

IEEE Standards Association

I used to be a member of the IEEE Standards Association and this is just another example of why I gave up... The bureaucracy and delays inherent in the approvals system slows down even the most simple of amendments or new standards.

Yes, I understand it has to be "right first time" for a standard to be approved but to take over 3 years to approve simple 802.11 stuff is just pathetic.

Other IEEE standards do go quicker, the massive vested interests in 802.11 stuff means it adds a year over normal speeds.

I have more than a sneaking suspicion that some manufacturers deliberately want to break the IEEE approvals chain so that they can publish their own proprietary standards and screw their competitors.

Paris because even she could understand and approve the stuff faster than the so called experts.

'Googlebomb' blows up in Daily Mail hack's face


@ AC and Moult's Nazi racoons

It does explain why she was hired by the Daily Mail from The Sun...

Let me be the first to welcome our Nazi racoon overlords...

Chinese takeaway biodiesel man in garage explosion horror



As a Scotsman I'm thick skinned enough to not care about someone getting them mixed up. It's especially relevant as there's been more than a few times that I've had enough of the former that it's probably more accurate to call me "scotch" than Scottish.

Not had the enthusiasm or desire to make my own biodiesel yet but at £1.32 per litre of diesel I might start to get tempted very soon.

World's biggest ISPs drag feet on critical DNS patch



A big well done to Zen for getting theirs done so quickly. I ran the test the first time it was announced and it came up with the "safe" notice.

Another reason to be happy wtih moving from BT in my own personal "phorm" protest :)

UK ISPs agree to menace their filesharing users


View from the media

Most of what I've seen and read from the media is effectively "these evil downloading pie-rats are stealing billions of £s from the recording industry". The only alternative opinion I've seen is from the Independent:


Oh, and The Times names the six as: BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse


UK.gov tells throttling petition: Choke on it



Maybe someone should tell them that speed between customer & exchange != customer's bit of a shared pipe from the exchange to t'interweb.

Data pimping catches ISP on the hop


BT & Phorm

Having been with BT since the first trials, I've never had a reason to look elsewhere, their broadband has been good enough and I've rarely had contention issues meaning fast(ish) connections and OK latency.

In January I was called by BT, much like a fair few other customers, and offered a reduction of £4 per month to stay. With no intention of leaving I accepted... Then the Phorm news broke.

I'd resigned myself to waiting until the T&C update when I'd get a chance to grumble at them and get out of the contract. Thankfully, I received an email on Sunday notifying me that my new contract (negotiated in January) was due to start next week. This meant I could still walk away :)

The first BT "retention" guy knew nothing about Phorm and was clearly not willing to believe that BT would do such a thing. 20 minutes later after taking the guy through articles here and elsewhere, including the Guardian as that was the only one of my sources he'd hear of. He then said a mangler would call me back yesterday with my MAC. Yesterday came & went.

Called back today and got another "retention" guy. Same story, he didn't really believe me so I gave him links again... He had a quick read and said "that's not your problem, it's only for commercial broadband". I disabused him of that idea. Then he came out with "all other ISPs monitor you anyway so what's the problem?"

He'd have spent ages trying to keep me until I asked him "Am I out of contract?" "yes" "well give me my MAC".

Goodbyeeee BT, hello Zen.

Women love chocolate more than password security


I'll give you a password for a choccy bar

I've done it before and I'll do it again. I won't promise that it'll actually ever be a password that I currently use, have used or ever will use.

Surely this is just city workers showing how to con a researcher out of a choccy bar...

Information Commissioner: Phorm must be opt-in only


Is it worth anyone left with BT opting into the trial?

Just a thought, but if everyone with technical nouse or half a clue opts out of the BT trial, all that will be left are those who believe BT are good and can do no wrong, the BT plants and those who wouldn't know the difference between dialup and ADSL2+

What about some readers here, with that precious half a clue, recording genuine experiences such as failed redirects, pre and intra-trial latencies and speed, etc.

Also, if you opt-out midway through the trial, what happens when your anti-spyware software deletes your Phorm cookie as part of a regular cleanup? Are you re-profiled and do you get any notice that you've been re-profiled?

This is in regard to the ICO's statement's last para:

"In the view of the Commissioner Phorm can operate Webwise and OIX in a way which is in compliance with the DPA and PECR but must be sensitive to the concerns of users. The Commissioner will keep the Phorm products under review as they are rolled out and his view will be strongly influenced by the experience of those users who choose to participate in any trials and the way in which they are able to make that decision. The Commissioner will also continue to be interested in the dialogue between technical experts and Phorm about the way in which the system operates."

If all they get are Phorm/BT success stories from the trial, they'll probably lose their spine again and can legitimately ignore the techy responses from those who haven't any real experience of the nasty bit of stuff.

just my 2p...

Royal Mail sites hit by downtime cock-up



Their Smartstamp servers were up until around 11:00 then went down to join the rest of Royal Mail. Looks like it wasn't a big-bang failure then but they've taken everything else down, just in case.

UK.gov will force paedophiles to register email addresses


Great idea!

After all, paedophilia being illegal stopped them from doing that didn't it?

Ah, I see the flaw now...

Carphone Warehouse stares down BPI and UK.gov on three strikes


@ AC

A spine? No, more likely a completely money oriented PR spun exercise with a side aim of splitting the technical community in their disgust over Phorm.

They most likely realise that all it would take is one litigious user kicked from their network to force them into a massive lawsuit with all the bad PR surrounding it. "We", the users, don't come into it really, it's all about profit.

That said, his argument is right. If the BPI have evidence of illegal filesharing, let them prove it in court, it's not the ISP's job to police the internet (or monitor/intercept/profile it)

BT: 'We did not let anyone down over Phorm... it was not illegal'

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Reply from my MP

My MP, a very senior Conservative MP*, has replied to me today saying that he is formally raising the issue with the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. He promised to write again when he receives a reply.

It'll be interesting to see how that works out...

* and a nice guy, despite him being a Tory...

Ofcom hits green on in-flight calling


@ those who want to use their phones

I take it you've never been on a rush hour train with a bunch of mobile phone users. It usually goes:



"sorry, can't hear you"

"you can't hear me either? OK, I'll speak up a bit"

"yes, I'm on the train. Sorry, YES I'M ON THE TRAIN"

Then it descends into either useless blether about Shazza's latest boyfriend or how important the caller's latest business transactions have been.

Now put this on a pressurised tin-can with high-powered aircon units and the ever-present loud drone of the engines and it'll be 10 times worse.

Back to the scenario of two people talkiing... great! I do it all the time when I'm on a plane but I never need to talk at the volume that 99% of public transport phone users talk at.

Bit of admission: I do use my phone on the train as it's fairly essential to my business but I rarely, if ever, allow the call to go beyond "hi, I'm on the train, can I call you back when I get to (wherever it is I'm going)?"


Ban it for safety reasons!

Nothing to do with interference from the phones affecting the planes. Simply to stop irate passengers taking mobile phones from teenagers or loudmouthed business people and sticking them where the sun doesn't shine after being subjected to their inane drivel for an entire flight while forced to sit next to them in a seat that a hamster would struggle to fit into.

Ban 'em... ban 'em now.

Net think tank: Phorm is illegal



It's not that obviously illegal with Gmail as Google don't hide what they do and you don't have to email anyone with a Gmail account. If you email a gmail account, you accept the profiling.

BT, et al, give you no choice, even if you "opt-out", your data still goes to the profiler whether you like it or not. Also, if you're a website owner, you have no say in whether your site gets profiled by the system, even if your users are accessing unpublished http addresses which are normally reasonably private.

My site now has a specific disclaimer in the legal notices saying "no profiling".

BT admits misleading customers over Phorm experiments


@ mixbsd

It amuses me slightly to see that 38.18% of Phorm shareholders have Northern Rock shares. Bad money after bad.

I have absolutely no sympathy for people who invest in companies like Phorm which are morally dubious at best.

I have enough money in shares and enough experience to know what are truly dodgy shares, if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. The striking ignorance of some of those posters on the iii Phorm forum makes it seem like Phorm has more than its fair share of "get-rich-quick investors" who usually end up as "get-poor-quick investors."

Top security firm: Phorm is adware



I was wondering if BT, Virgin, et al, might not be hoping to get an undisclosed secondary benefit by making people like us go away to another ISP anyway... typically techies are the higher-end usage people and we're most likely to be the troublemakers with the Phorm interceptions.

If they get rid of the top 1% of bandwidth users then they can skimp on investment, cut services and get even more profit per user from the remaining rump of those who use their 8mbps, 40GB per month £25 connections to download two emails a day and read up on their soaps.

Finally, I wonder what the RIPA situation would be if I changed my business's website to specifically deny BT, Virgin, et al, permission to profile my website.

CPW builds wall between customers and Phorm


@ bobbles31 - banks

I contacted both of my banks, Barclays (personal) and the Co-op (business).

The Co-op got back to me the same day saying that as HTTPS traffic can't be monitored then as far as they're concerned their system is safe. They did say I should push BT for a definitive answer on what ports would be profiled as BT weren't very clear that it would only be port 80.

Barclays took until today to get back to me (from Sat 2nd March) with an apology for the delay, they said the delay was because they needed to consult with BT. Apparently BT has reassured Barclays that HTTPS won't be profiled and BT is satisfied with the situation. They did have a comment that confused me slightly though:

"Whilst this information gathering will not affect your Online Banking service in any way, there could be an increase in marketing related pop-ups which you may need to take action to prevent."

This confused me in a way as I thought I'd get the same number of ads but "targeted". I hope they're not planning on an additional advertising thingy where the Phorm servers in BT's datacentres send additional pop-up adverts. Even they couldn't be that suicidal...

BT targets 10,000 data pimping guinea pigs


@ Alexander Hanff

Hmmm, bit harsh there surely. The AC's browsing will still be sent to Pharm but without the cookie there's no easy way to "profile" the AC and there's no way for Pharm/BT/Virgin/etc to target ads at him/her meaning all that Pharm will get is a bunch of websites that someone, somewhere on BT/Virgin/etc's networks has visited.

Assuming they can't profile without the cookie and SSL stuff is secure from them prying into the content then it goes from a major invasion of AC's privacy to something still illegal but probably less directly harmful to the AC.

Schools warned of chilling 'Strawberry Meth' menace


Why aren't the schools being warned of...

dihydrogen monoxide.


This ubiquitous chemical is being consumed in schools across our nation and NO-ONE IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT

How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection



I've now asked my two banks, Barclays and the Co-op, to investigate this and make sure that my internet banking is safe now that BT has sold all my data to a company that will intercept, analyse and retain my browsing data, including online banking.