* Posts by Mike

8 posts • joined 13 Aug 2008

US lawmakers put Canada, Spain on piracy 'watch list'


Spain? Que?

Well in Spain we get TV shows, if we do get them at all, with months or years of delay. The only way I have of watching the current season of Rescue Me is via torrents - the season 3 & 4 DVD packs were not even released here! I can now only listen to about a 10th of what a UK-based listener could on Spotify, thanks to...the record labels and their stupid geographical restrictions. We pay software at a huge premium over US prices. The claim is always "taxes" - yeahright, VAT being 16% in Spain, it doesn't account for something being twice the price in Euros as in USD.

For the final nail in the coffin, Spain levies a "digital tax" on EVERY device sold that has storage capable of holding media, or capable of copying copyrighted material. Note that I say "capable", not "destined to". A typical DVD has about 70 Euro cents in tax applied, an inkjet printer 8 Euros, while I just paid over 3 Euros in tax for the DVD unit in my new MacBook Pro.

Before placing Spain on some piracy list, they should reveal how much they are earning from these mandatory taxes.

BT OpenZone: Is it or isn't it?

Gates Horns

So, is it good or is it bad?

On one hand, BT says that business users should not be concerned about the change, as OpenZone traffic is low priority, only a fraction of the available bandwidth, blah blah. OK so they're saying - our OpenZone signal is really crappy, don't worry about paying visitors bogging it down....wait....did I say paying? Paying customers being told that the OpenZone signals they will be paying to use are actually very crappy, low priority, blah blah... anyone see the irony here?

Jaw droppers of 2008 - what they'd rather you forgot

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Faceparty - one to remember

In the current state of 2.0 niceness and being polite and caring about your (L)users and so on, reading the response by Faceparty to the users moaning about not getting something free on top of what was already free in a speedy manner was enlightening. The example messages they show are clear proof, and getting sued? No wonder, I would have gone off to the zoo too! Kudos Faceparty!

Merchants and punters cry foul over Verified by Visa


The problem is in the implementation

You can have 15-factor authentication, but as long as the auths are fixed, scammers -will- figure out a way to get and use them.

In Spain, my bank implements the method by sending me a random 6-digit number via SMS to my mobile phone, which I must have previously registered in person at my bank. It's very difficult to steal mobile phones over the internet, which makes the process fairly secure, and doesn't use a static password or code.

On the other hand, a MC card I have was only asked for the CCVC -again- as the verification method, which seems very stupid and pointless.

The problem lies in the strength of the third factor. Another bank for example uses a physical plastic card with a grid of 50 4-digit random numbers, and on the verification page, you are asked for one of the 50 codes at random. Unless the scammers find a way to steal plastic over the internet, it's a fairly secure approach too.

Scammers making '$15m a month' on fake antivirus


They sure stopped AllOfMp3 from taking payments...

It's curious that they could stop what they called a Russian mafia from getting paid with credit cards, leaving people only with stupid coupon systems that were next to impossible to buy - which led to the ultimate shutdown of AllOfMp3. However, they cannot stop this real mafia from getting 15m a month? I mean, VISA and MC must know they are processing transactions for these scammers right?

Ah, I get it, the real antivirus lobby is nowhere near as powerful as the RIAA & Co.....

Scotland Mountain Rescue turns on Ofcom


Mountain Rescue radio discipline

Francis - I came a bit past your time, when we had the 80MHz Philips sets (not sure if they've moved on, this was circa 1993). From my four years in a Mountain Rescue team in the Peak District, I can attest that the radio discipline we used was quasi-military, keeping everything short, concise and to the point, with very strict protocols, and someone writing down what was said in a log (yes, pen & paper!). Thus, the excuse that Mountain Rescue uses up so much spectrum or that we somehow 'waste' it is bollocks, excuse my French.

To me, this is someone's private agenda to give themselves a medal for raising OFCOM's 2009 revenues, even at times of crisis. Fund raising was one of the hardest things we did, and it took us years to get enough money to buy a 4x4 ambulance, as an example - and they want to waste it on licensing?

Finally, Rescue teams only use radios during training exercises and shouts, which (OK, stretching things a bit) could be considered emergencies - wasn't there a provision in telecomms law that allows anyone the use of any communication device on any frequency in case of an emergency? I'd love to see a judge who sentences a member of Mountain Rescue for using his radio during an emergency situation.

iPhone 3G isn't necessarily

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What you say is true - just that the analogy against the 'old' networks is not true. The old networks gave everyone a ticket that told them in which turn they could talk, like a queue at the supermarket's cheese stand (this is TDMA with a slotted ALOHA). Thus, everyone talked the same language, just that they talked in a very orderly fashion one at a time.

In CDMA, everyone talks at once - each with his own "language", which only him and the cell understand. Everything else is just noise. Wait a minute. Noise. There is a factor of basic radio physics that the modern all-computer-no-soldering-iron wizzkids forget, called Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). A radio receiver CANNOT hear anything that is below its sensitivity level when the SNR is too low. Thus, as more users get onto a CDMA cell, more noise, more desensitized everyone becomes, and so on. The problem is not trivial particularly in busy cities, when cell density cannot be too high. No amount of lab work and theoretical models can break the basic laws of physics.

Cheers, and thanks for posting an insightful comment.


None of you guys get it - it's the technology!

3G uses CDMA, which means everyone is sharing the same spectrum. If there are 300 people using the same cell, then that's 1/300th of the available brute speed (currently 7.2Mbps per cell) that can be offered - including voice AND data. Voice calls take their chunk of the spectrum too.

This is why some articles that pretend to do an accurate analysis of the iPhone 3G's speed (or any other 3G device for that matter), based on the fact that "we had full signal strength" or "were sitting right under a mast" are fundamentally wrong. They have no idea with how many other users they are sharing the spectrum.

I explain more on my blog: http://the.firehou.se (first post).


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