* Posts by Christopher W

98 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Jul 2009


The Police Chief's photo library mixed business, pleasure and flesh

Christopher W

Re: Everyone Wakeup!

Ah, when networks were simpler things...

Many years ago, winpopup and net sends were a commonly employed tactic for clandestine comms between users, particularly for students during lessons. One morning, a domain-wide net send was issued, as occasionally happened through boredom, using a (foolishly unlocked) generic domain account on a PC adjacent to our zone in the IT room.

Little did the issuer know that at that moment, the moderately-IT-literate Business Studies teacher, in a nearby classroom, was presenting one of his prized projector PowerPoints. This was abruptly and unceremoniously interrupted - much to his annoyance, and amusement of the class - by a cheery "good morning!" alert dialog and full-blast ding.wav through the room's PA.

Said teacher stormed in to the IT suite and made a beeline for our area; the machine which issued it was of course sat on a login prompt as it was not being used. The IT admin subsequently decided to learn about group policy management.

Later that summer, mouse balls suddenly started going for a swim in the pond...

Janet pulls open network info for good after DDoSers exploit it

Christopher W

Re: Borked and Broken.

Go home AC, you're drunk.

Kim Dotcom slams 'dirty ugly bully' Uncle Sam as extradition hearing ends

Christopher W

Re: @Christopher W

Not at all, some of Uber's practices are just as disgusting. It's why I don't use them. ;-)

Christopher W

Re: Both Ways?

I've issued takedowns for the record company I worked for using eBay's VeRO programme. I had to make a second eBay account just for the VeRO work which was weird. It also required a little research and some correspondence with eBay because it was a little tricky to fill out the forms correctly.

However, eBay's system does work. I successfully issued takedowns for ripoff merchandise featuring some of our groups' copyrighted photos - we recouped 100% of the infringing sales from the seller because he knew he'd been caught and wanted to avoid a day in court. (A full-time band merchandise seller. Selling shonky goods. Who "didn't know" the image was copyrighted. Yeaaaahhhhh.)

And this is the real problem - the current framework strictly requires the copyright holder or authorised agent to contact and issue the takedown request, just like DMCA. All you as a good samaritan can do is inform the copyright owner and encourage them to use the VeRO programme (or applicable takedown process) to issue the cease and desist.

For some, unfamiliar with their own rights and abilities, they either don't realise they can do this or have become so disheartened with the current state of affairs that they just don't care any more, which is a great shame.

Christopher W

MU provided filesharing tools. People used those. That is not inherently illegal and I use similar tools from other providers myself.

What MU did was knowingly permit people to also use their tools for purposes that fell foul of various countries' intellectual property laws. They did not abide by the legal process established for ISPs and hosting companies to remove content found to be infringing.

They actively worked to obfuscate copyrighted material, make the DMCA process very difficult to go through for copyright holders and make it as difficult as possible to actually get material completely deleted from their servers (they often just removed the link to it, thereby just hiding it and allowing the uploader to create a new link and re-share it).

They had an internal search engine where employees could search through and download this material from people's accounts, and emails obtained as part of court proceedings confirm employees knew full well what they had and what they were doing. Plausible deniability only goes so far.

They sold paid accounts for priority and express downloading and returned a portion of the money to the uploader - so both the uploader and the service provider were directly profiting from breaking the law, and they did all they could to carry this on for as long as possible. Unethical, immoral and illegal.

Christopher W

Why not? He's broken laws and enabled others to do the same, he's profited personally from breaking various countries' laws. Are you saying that copyright/intellectual property owners and content creators are owed less protection or right to redress under the law than individuals consuming content? In the UK the police under the POCA powers would have rightly seized all of his assets.

It wouldn't be so bad if MU had abided properly by the DMCA and Safe Harbor frameworks, but they wilfully ignored it and therefore became wilful infringers, something courts look far more dimly upon.

It's the domino effect. If you leave something like mass digital piracy checked, it quickly becomes completely unmanageable as we saw last decade. The scale of Schmitz's profiteering from ignoring the rights of other individuals and companies became hard to ignore, and curbing his company's behaviour became more and more important. His actions were having a measurable, deleterious effect on the market and ecosystem: not just less money being made, but fewer artists coming through the system and ultimately, less music, film and other media being brought into the world.

There was a ring of several particularly bad offenders, but MU along with Rapidshare were by far the worst for a few years. MU was the most obvious target because he made himself the biggest target (physical size quips notwithstanding). He's the modern day classic fraudster, a digital conman.

In my younger, more naive years, when I was a normal Joe Bloggs consumer, originally I was concerned about how the US pursued Schmitz and MU (even though he was obviously no angel). However, having worked in the independent music sector, which was hit hard by last decade's upsurge in piracy, I witnessed, and had to deal with, piracy's effects first-hand. Over time my opinions changed accordingly and I have actual experience behind what I say.

I keep in contact with other people from similarly small indie labels and discuss this stuff periodically. The problems definitely haven't gone away, just lessened slightly. Fortunately now there's better tools in place for people to once again legitimately enjoy music and films, but overall the market is still much, much smaller than it was in 2000, even taking into account things like how people's listening habits have changed and the methods they use to watch TV.

There's a key difference between dumb filehosts and the companies like Megaupload whose primary profits came from distributing copyrighted material. Music, film and games have an intrinsic monetary and cultural value over and above (for example) an ASCII art text file or picture of your dog, though all of those things enjoy the same protection under intellectual property laws. However, the cost to produce a movie or record an album is vastly more, and by reducing its market value to zero, you irreparably devalue it in the eyes of those who would otherwise pay a fair price to enjoy it.

Instead of paying a few quid and enjoying the films and games, customers become simple consumers of content - hoovering up everything they come across with no regard for its value. Once that happens, it becomes a horrible race to the bottom as society effectively declares that all the things they enjoy are not actually worth anything.

Eventually the supply of quality entertainment just dries up. Crowdfunding and a handful of self-released albums only go so far to filling that void when nobody's willing to put down the money to support not just the creation, but the marketing, retail and distribution infrastructure on which everything depends.

Christopher W



The reason this is a problem for copyright holders is that most don’t file DMCA notices against a link, but against a file. However, Megaupload would not remove the actual file and, instead, just disabled the link. To the filer, it would appear that the takedown notice was successful even though the file still remained, it’s just that the known link was disabled.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that a copyright holder can do about this, especially a smaller one. Megaupload, before its closure, got to keep files infringing files available to pirates and save on storage costs all the while appearing to be compliant with the DMCA when, in truth, they were not.

Or Ars, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/01/why-the-feds-smashed-megaupload/:

Megaupload employees apparently knew how the site was being used. When making payments through its “uploader rewards” program, employees sometimes looked through the material in those accounts first. "10+ Full popular DVD rips (split files), a few small porn movies, some software with keygenerators (warez)," said one of these notes. (The DMCA does not provide a "safe harbor" to sites who have actual knowledge of infringing material and do nothing about it.)

Employees send each other e-mails saying things like, “can u pls get me some links to the series called ‘Seinfeld’ from MU [Megaupload]," since some employees did have access to a private internal search engine.

Employees even allegedly uploaded content themselves, such as a BBC Earth episode uploaded in 2008.

The sheer overwhelming weight of empirical evidence gathered, documented and reported on by reputable news outlets over the past decade puts it beyond doubt that they were knowingly infringing and facilitating IP infringement on a wide scale.

Christopher W

However, it's been proven that Megaupload barely even paid lipservice to the Safe Harbor DMCA provisions of US law whilst claiming to comply. Their own staff were uploading and sharing copyrighted material knowingly in breach of international copyright and licensing laws and statutes.

The other services you mention do all have functional, and fairly compliant, DMCA-compliant takedown procedures. Megaupload, on the other hand, made it as difficult as possible to request a takedown - and basically ignored them or stalled when they received them. They also made it childishly simple for people to download pirated material using automated tools if they plonked down a few dollars a month for premium accounts, which is how they directly profited from piracy and defrauded the copyright owners. They were not unique in doing this, but the sheer scale and audacity of Mega's antics was what put the targets on them.

By volume, Mega were the primary party enabling mass infringement for many years, something Schmitz personally gained from in a massive way. His extravagant, extrovert lifestyle raised many eyebrows, and he played fast and loose with civil and criminal law in his personal life outside of the discussed copyright and fraud charges. (I remember watching some videos of him illegally streetracing on Streetfire...)

He's just not a very nice person. A libertarian profiteer in it for personal gain, irrespective of the consequences for anyone else.

HPE's private London drinking club: Name that boozer

Christopher W

The Packard Bell Tavern ("The Bell")

The Whitman Arms

The Spirit of Enterprise (bonus: bar staff nicknamed "Enterprise servers")

Le Megan et Boursiers (to the tune of The Waggon and Horses, yes it's a stock price pun in French, yes it's a stretch)

I could go on, but I'm off down the pub

Vodafone exceeds own upper broadband speed limit to hit 80Mbps

Christopher W

Until very recently, it was the same for me. Stuck on sub-3 meg whilst streets either side were enjoying their upgraded cabinets or Virgin Media superfast (they never cabled our street).

They FINALLY upgraded my cabinet - over a year and a half after enabling the exchange - and I was on it quicker than the tax man on an incorrect self-assessment.

Word of caution - check the Openreach Superfast checker frequently. Someone I've spoken to was connected to a cabinet which was upgraded - but closed to new customers the day FTTC was enabled on it as Openreach hadn't provisioned enough capacity. So, for about 6 hours, they could have technically ordered it... But missed the window. They're still stuck on ultraslow broadband.

Christopher W

Re: Ah but wait a moment...

Not my Steam downloads :-). If I download at 70 megabits per second, Steam seems to reflect, pretty much, 70 megabits per second in its own speed indication. It's very slightly lower but I'm putting that down to protocol overhead.

Steam also essentially tallies with independent OS speed meter apps (hooking into NDIS) and a bandwidth meter running on my router's interface, rendered in real time through its web interface.

AIUI, to be able to accurately indicate an effective uncompressed download speed for compressed files... which I think would be useless... Steam would have to either 1) know the exact compression ratio or 2) know how far through it was in the compressed files it's receiving with some kind of index or lookup table, which would be impossible or extremely technically difficult (i.e., not worth bothering with) to accomplish.

BBC bypasses Linux kernel to make streaming videos flow

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

'All TVs' = 'all cheaper TVs'. Most important word in that sentence omitted. Sod's law.

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

Some (quite expensive) consumer sets will downscale internally to the panel's refresh rate whilst advertising a higher one.

There's a history of TV panels starting out (or being repurposed as) PC display panels - which will run at (probably) 60 Hz, unless they're more modern 100 or 120 Hz (...and even if they're advertised as 100, I'm not even sure they're natively 100 - quite possibly native 120 with some on-chip conversion!).

Taking this into consideration, 50 Hz countries are in the minority in light of global market forces which has always frustrated me. However you look at it, TVs and PC displays are made to a price point which doesn't usually include native support for 50 Hz and its higher rate multiples.

Also, consider the amount of legacy panels still in use in the UK - 720p or 'budget' 1080p panels in budget TVs which are now probably at least a decade old. They are all 60 Hz simply due to the economy of scale to manufacture one type of panel for worldwide use and throw a cheap deinterlacing and frame rate conversion algorithm in for non-NTSC markets.

Most people won't have a true 100 Hz panel in their house. People are still buying budget TVs en masse from Tesco for crying out loud, and those are all made-in-PRC specials which ALL use 60 Hz native panels.

As an aside, anything shy of a 600 Hz refresh rate is useless for true cross-standards use as it will always involve awkward, unequal frame rate conversion (and native capture at high, but not super-high, rates causes other issues with flicker from lighting etc). I agree with those who are frustrated that 600 Hz wasn't adopted as an UHD requirement. (600/24, 600/25 and 600/30 all leave no remainders, the first ideal refresh rate.)

http://www.rtings.com/tv/learn/fake-refresh-rates-samsung-clear-motion-rate-vs-sony-motionflow-vs-lg-trumotion has an interesting table showing fake vs. true panel rates. You may be surprised how many panels in models from big box manufacturers don't have refresh rates that match their advertised maximums.

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

All TVs sold in the UK with flat panels have 60 Hz native panels. The image processing chip inside is internally interpolating the broadcast 50 Hz content to the panel's native refresh rate, irrespective of how you supply it with signal.

You need to spend orders of magnitude more - £3k, £6k - to get a panel which can natively run at 24, 25, 30 Hz (i.e, frames per second) without poorly done image processing. These are usually Grade 1 or Grade 2 broadcast panels like Sony's BVM and PVM series of broadcast monitors.

If you consider the image processing capable by a decent consumer GPU, versus the limited horsepower in your TV's silicon, I'd rather watch TV through my GPU (which I do thanks to an HDMI cap card) than watch it straight through the telly. TVs often do a a cheap bob deinterlace to get it to 50 Hz too, and then interpolate to 60.

And then, even being fed 50i, they can still go nuts and momentarily show progressive frames (which is incredibly jarring to watch when it happens) because it thinks it's showing film (25psf) content, until the image processing realises its mistake and reverts to TFF interlaced video.

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

Except to get a projector which natively supports 24 Hz, you'll have to flash a substantial wad of cash. Most projectors are internally 60 Hz, particularly if they're LCD or LCoS. Even then, all but the more expensive DLP projectors will likely do pulldown or interpolation - their internal image processing will just look nicer.

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

When most (all?) TV panels and their image processing run natively at 60 Hz, and all these widgets also output at 60 Hz... Just let one device do the fps resampling.

My 60 Hz-native Samsung TV (admittedly old, but a good quality panel) does horrible things if you feed it 25 or 50 Hz, so it only gets fed by a PC through HDMI at 60 Hz. The NVIDIA GPU does an excellent job of interpolating iPlayer content.

Resampling 50 -> 60 is easier than 60 -> 50 (+1 frame every 100 ms will be almost imperceptible...) I don't imagine pixel rise/fall lag can even really keep up with that unless you have a VERY expensive panel.

I don't even think graphics cards do it this way anyway, a decent GPU should utilise some form of frame interpolation. TBH I'd rather have my GPU do this than my TV.

Christopher W


SSM, any-source multicast and RTP is used extensively for audiovisual content and node synchronisation. IP Studio at the lowest level breaks down all AV streams into 'grains' of each data type - audio, video, control. You also need to preserve relative synchronisation of multiple cameras' input frames, (what's called genlocking to a reference signal) and preserve this correlation of the resultant IP streams right through to the vision mixer step.

I wonder if absolute guaranteed delivery is more critical for speed of delivery - you don't want to lose a *single* frame of video in a broadcast system, I know I'd rather run a slightly larger time and data overhead and know I'm receiving everything. And once you're at the multi-gigabit level, gains to be had from UDP might seem insignificant compared to your available throughput and UDP's inability to retransmit.

There's significant requirements through the IP Studio system for synchronisation of various component streams, and coordination of the grain streams, so it's possibly more efficient to just use TCP.

The R&D white paper documenting the CWG POC is an interesting read if you've not seen before: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp-pdf-files/WHP289.pdf

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

They're rolling out 50p on the iPlayer. It's been available for some 'channels' of content for a quite a while now. Go check out the Russian F1 Grand Prix highlights programme in HD - 2908 kbps of 50p.

Christopher W

Re: This is why I love the bbc

From the BBC blog:

"We’re currently testing the HTML5 player with:

• Firefox 41

• Opera 32

• Safari on iOS 5 and above

• BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 and above

• Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge on Windows 10

• Google Chrome on all platforms"

It's down to browser support for the features they want to use rather than your choice of OS. Have you tried it in Chrome on Linux yet?

Weird garbled Windows 7 update baffles world – now Microsoft reveals the truth

Christopher W
Paris Hilton

Downvoted for accuracy?

Not by me. AC, you the real comments MVP.

(Paris can tell the difference, unlike some of these commentards)

Parrot drone pwned (and possibly killed) with Wi-Fi log-in

Christopher W

Re: See time travel does exist

I could have sworn the same thing. These drones are fundamentally useless unless you don't mind them crashing out the sky mid flight. I thought all these vulns were being discussed not long after they came out...

Sorry we called you a fatty, say Kiwi spies to Kim 'Slim Jim' Dotcom

Christopher W

Re: to be fair...

Sadly he's so greasy though that nothing sticks for long. We need to make him stand naked in a prison courtyard while someone turns the high pressure hose on him.

Kim Schmitz has always been a horrible, repellent individual. No "champion of the individual", no libertarian standardbearer for individual rights and freedoms as some mistakenly thought him to be, he's just a freeloader with wanton disregard for civil society. He profiteered off the backs of many with no regard for the implications...

Game pirates 'donate' compute power to Bitcoin miners

Christopher W

Yes they are, they're making clear profit by not having to purchase a legit copy.

Six charged over StubHub e-ticket heist for Elton John gigs

Christopher W

I have my main card numbers and (strong) passwords committed to muscle memory by now, are you new to the Internet?

Christopher W

Seems that

Don't Go Faking My Card!

...Saturday Night's All Right (For Scamming)...

I guess Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service

Christopher W

The Vole giveth, and the Vole taketh away

With the API now canned, and SkypeKit on a temporary death row reprieve, Skype needed to do something to allay the concerns of broadcasters who begrudgingly have to use it.

AIUI, CatCall Mk. 1 is little more than a slightly custom version of single-account Skype client on a PC-in-a-box with 'pro' breakout - but still analogue. There's still no pure digital throughput (something like multicast H.264/PCM output or even Livewire audio) so you still have to put up with D->A->D conversion into your workflow, and it can't support multiple concurrent sessions or more than one account simultaneously. Hardly ideal for anypne lwrger than a local radio or TV station.

Though of course you could buy one for each account, you hear the sales rep say... Only a couple of grand each, they say...

I believe they are working on an improved second iteration, but they'll probably want to flog a few more of these first.

Three's money man reveals UK mobe firms' dark pricing dealings

Christopher W

Re: A lot of common sense there

And this is what sensible bears do - I kept my awesome grandfathered tariff with T-Mobile for six years because I just replaced handsets on my own initiative.

I'd rather spread the phone over a 0% credit card than owe the network more and get less, especially as they never offer quite as generous an allowance, if you do a direct comparison with a package's nearest SIM-only neighbour.

Devs SLAM UK.gov's JavaScript-astic, 'shoddy' security education website

Christopher W

Re: regarding the size of the javascript.

Lest we forget, that's also a Flex abomination... Wait until uk.gov sites start asking you to install 'browser plugins' to enable such advanced functionality as page changes, and link clicks. Probably about a year off at most given this latest effort.

Facebook app now reads your smartphone's text messages? THE TRUTH

Christopher W

Re: Lazy people to blame, as usual

I'm all in favour of more secure accounts. I just find it hard to believe that they'll be competent enough to activate or even understand how two factor works if they still struggle to read SMSes ;-)

Christopher W

Re: Lazy people to blame, as usual

I can see a future where Android provides a nice and sealed off two factor auth method... provided you credential with a Google account - or share your other account details with them! </cynic>

Christopher W
Big Brother

Lazy people to blame, as usual

If you're aware of it, most clueful SMS apps in Android will present a toaster notification when you get a new message so you can read a 2FA verification code and tap it in with very little inconvenience. (ChompSMS does this quite nicely and has options to adjust on-screen display for what remnants we have left of our privacy.)

Frustratingly though, as usual, we all have to blindly accept a blanket read permission simply because people can't be arsed to go into their text messages to get a six digit code. What's the point of two factor if you're allowing an app unsupervised access?

This is also an excellent highlight of Android's frankly shit permissions model. I'd dearly love to be able to selectively deny permissions to an app to invoke certain functions or system calls (optionally reenabling it later) but nope - vaguely descriptive catch-all categories are all we get.

The more clueful devs are beginning to list reasons for why their apps request permissions, this should be a mandatory requirement for every app, viewable by all potential punters and completely granular. Apps should also not crash out if part of a call is denied access (they should trap it and just return a null, perhaps with viewable message explaining what's not working) but this would need to be baked into the AOSP core. And can you imagine the software community rewrite carnage...

At least our security model is moderately translucent, unlike Big A's black box (which GCHQ are gleefully busy exploiting)...

I've seen the future of car radio - and DAB isn't in it

Christopher W

Re: Well....

It might interest you to know that a number of stations' DAB broadcasts are actually straight out the desk - no processing applied. Seems counterintuitive initially, but actually you realise it makes sense because most broadcast processing is done to overcome the limitations of FM (preemphasis to counter the high noise floor, 15 kHz frequency response, prevent overmodulation).

With DAB, as long as it fits into its mux bandwidth, anything goes. A/Bing DAB and FM signals on a good system (with a good bitrate station, sigh) will reveal the higher frequency response on DAB.

There's a separate argument about finding a decent quality station on DAB... Classic FM (if you can force yourself to listen to it) is essentially unprocessed on DAB. Compare it with FM and see what you think.

Christopher W

Re: In 2014?! A new service "offering" 48Khz?!?!?

Not necessarily. If it's AAC-HEv2 then 48 kbps is a good compromise and more than sufficient for FM-quality audio. AAC-HEv2 at 48 kbps is subjectively identical to MP3 at 128 kbps; it's also far more efficient and quick to buffer and play.)

When you're sat in a resonant metal box with a two litre combustion engine up front and road noise from all around you, are you really going to hear those subtle transients on that piece of Brahms you just put on?

There's a lot of hysteria and much of it is unfounded. I've been waiting for cars to have SIM slots / integrated 3G for almost ten years now, BMW can't bring this to market soon enough (plus Omnifone have an impressive catalogue of major and indie labels' repertoire, meaning this is officially A Good Start). What they need to do is get enough rich early adopters onboard so they can recoup on their capex on the data packages, then they can drop the subscription price...

Data caps be damned, AT&T says providers can pay for mobile broadband

Christopher W

Re: What a CROCK

Ah, but whilst the net cost of the data itself once the infrastructure is in place might be less than a penny, you still have to pay for the capital outlay, the building of the masts, the configuration of the infrastructure, the hiring of network admins to keep the thing running... When mobile networks become 100% autonomous with self-healing systems, then I'd expect data costs to drop. Until that point I can understand why a company would seek to claw back some of its investment!

This doesn't excuse some of the methods they use to attempt to claw back said investment... In the UK, Three have made a big play for customer opinion by basically making their 3G (and 4G) data uncapped and unlimited usage for what is a marvellously reasonable price - £15 a month. You're throttled if you're in the top 5% of customers in the country by data consumption, but some people apparently do in the region of 1 TB (yes, terabyte) per month with MyFis and it works great. I did 18 GB through my phone last month! And to add to that, they just announced a roaming arrangement with a US carrier which allows you to roam and use voice and data for no additional cost over your tariff... Actually groundbreaking!

Change is coming, it's just slow to arrive. Perhaps lots of Yanks will begin to sign up for UK mobile service then permanently roam in the States ;-)

XBOX One SHOT DEAD by Redmond following delivery blunder

Christopher W

Re: The EULA is in force

Not quite: when buying DVDs or games, you still own the physical media but you only ever own the licence to use the software contained therein (which can be revoked if you exploit the copyrighted material outside the terms of your licence).

Ownership of the Intellectual Property remains vested in the copyright holder; this forms the basis of international copyright law. (Example: the licence text around the edge of every music CD or software DVD). I

Small, but important distinction. :)

(Mine's the one with the IP Law textbook in the side pocket)

Leaked photos of iPhone 5C parts portend ugly Google legal battle

Christopher W

Unsophisticated buttons?

They'll fit right in with the unsophisticated UI then!

Give them a cold trouser blast and data centre bosses WILL dial up the juice

Christopher W

Re: Heat? What heat?

Ah, but what happens if the cooling fails or runs suboptimally? The warmer it is to begin with, the less margin for error you have. This happened where I work recently in a smaller apps room, and it's amazing how rapidly those temps shoot up. Temporary cooling was promptly installed and crisis averted, but it makes you realise just how many BTUs those servers chuck out.

Monitoring onboard, chassis and CPU temps, even in a room at ambient 12/13 celcius, with your boxen throwing out air warmed to (sometimes) 40 celcius, the cool molecules get very excited quite quickly.

That, and a lot of gear has inefficiently designed / clogged inlets, is in a very hot rack behind a door or is obscured by messy cabling...

Canuck rumps resist Street View arsebusters

Christopher W
Thumb Up

Re: Well aimed

Shame Street View's recent visit to Manchester was slightly more prudish: http://imgur.com/a/s2vhw/all

BT's 'six-month free broadband' offer is a big fat FIB - ads watchdog

Christopher W
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Re: New legislation required - or Darwinism in action?

Awesome idea. I had a similar idea - any ad for a service offering should have a traffic light-style mandatory display, in a defined legible font and size, which clearly lays out total monthly commitment, total annual cost and minimum contract period, to be shown on screen (be it on TV or online) for at least a defined minimum amount of seconds. For radio ads, they could do spoken smallprint like for insurance / mortgage ads but with a defined reading speed.

Pisses me off too how people still seem to lack awareness about TCO, or just fail to adequately consider it which is bizarre when you consider the significant overall cost of these services.* "The phone was free even though the contract's £35 a month. But I got the phone free!" But did you cost out buying the phone sim-free on a 0% APR credit card, signing it up to a SIM-only tariff where the subsidy can be put into cheaper monthly cost? Thought not.

* No wonder the country's in so much debt. **

** And the answer to this problem is, of course, 42

Christopher W
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Re: Try Talk Talk

To their credit, BTO's direct employees I've never had problems with. In fact when my ISP booked an SFI engineer improperly, the guy who turned up was just a standard engineer - with SFI experience and knowledge - and fortunately he had the tools, the wherewithall AND THE COURTESY to fix my problem anyway.

When I had a Kelly Comms subcontractor out, he was so keen to get to the next job and earn more commission that he effectively left the job half finished - with his termination equipment still on the line! - whilst he went to the exchange to presumably do two jobs at once. Even then, the problem wasn't fixed and I had to push him to rewire around a 50 year old hardwired GPO termination block and fit a new drop cable to the master socket.

Surprise surprise, when the problem recurred three months later, the BTO engineer stripped his work out, checked the overhead drop cable from the pole into my property then fitted a new prefiltered NTE5. Line's worked at max efficiency ever since.

I've always had good service from the BTO engineers, in Birmingham / West Mids at least they seem to mostly be experienced guys who are more pragmatic in their approach, probably due to the amount of shit they have to deal with caused by third parties and subcons. I had far more problems with the VM engineers during my office's protracted and VERY painful 100 Meg cable broadband installation.

Christopher W

Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

AIUI "Annex J" (wires-only PSTN access is) conflicts with BT's USO for providing voice and emergency service access. To disconnect the pair from the voice services for a pure data service without the usual crosstalk / interference problems could open them up for liability should customer attempt to dial 999 later.

That said, this situation may have changed now and it may in fact be ok to supply Annex J. However from a technical standpoint Annex M is superior to Annex J where supporting LLU ADSL2+ services are available.

If you're canny and find a provider who lets you pay upfront for a year, you can get some pretty decent line rental deals (a tenner month sound good?) Primus' Saver package, with appropriate referral affiliate site discounts applied on the web site - or deft haggling over the phone - will get you into that price band. If you go with a loss leader telecoms company as part of a double/triple/quad play package, you can sometimes get near those prices too.

BT Openreach's per-customer final mile access fees are so high I wonder how some of these companies actually make any money (or justify continuing in business given the potential to make such a loss...!)

Ever had to register to buy online - and been PELTED with SPAM?

Christopher W

Ah, spam.

I used to use OtherInbox to protect myself against exactly this kind of problem -- not just spam, but that middleground "bacn" which you don't hate receiving but which does clog up inbox arteries.

Amusingly I once had to supply an email address to download a WordPress plugin (the plugin was useful, so I caved) from MaxBlogPress. I supplied a brand new address on my OI account just for that... And within a day, I was receiving a dozen spam emails. I called out the MBP author on Twitter and emailed over with evidence of the unsolicited spamming - all of which was flatly and vehemently denied.

Until we can hit a button to electrocute the legitimate sender of an email when they send spam to us, this problem will persist unmitigated. SPF and DK have been shown to only slightly curb the influx of spam. I run a particularly aggressive combination of multiRBL and whitelist setups paired with tuned SpamAssassin and fail2ban on my busiest mailserver and it ditches about 95% of unwanted email -- but yet it still persists. And the amount of 'bacn' is so high now with every company fully committing to their 'online marketing campaigns' that after a while, if the boss maintains his habit of sticking his primary email address into every email form he comes across, there's not much you can do to prevent the influx.

I wish there was a unified, globally recognised mechanism for instantly unsubscribing - it would be the best elements of a good listserver combined with a protocol-defined mechanism for silently (or with confirmation message) unsubscribing from all mailing lists. It would require headers to be set defining the message as a mailing list which would then enable options in all mail clients which would need to support these parts of the spec. Never going to happen though. Oh well. Time for the pub.

HSBC brands EVERY Apple iPhone 'an insecure PC'

Christopher W

Rapport? Repugnant

Bloated, inefficient, insecure and wholly unnecessary. Trusteer's known for having done deals with some of the UK's major banks (and some overseas) to push their Rapport security software. It probably works OK on an unprotected machine with no antivirus/internet security package but I've only ever seen it cause problems on a patched, protected machine.

Usually on those machines there's some fundamental loss of functionality - inability to access the Internet, error messages or crippled behaviour. Guess what fixes it? Removing the Rapport software. Terrible piece of sloppy programming which achieves nothing except infuriating the user.

Drew's Cookie Jar - psst. want a forum upgrade

Christopher W

Oh hello...

This looks like it could be fun. Count me in.

Compact Disc death foretold for 2012

Christopher W

Such utter tripe

Such utter codswallop. So the CD is dieing, just like vinyl? They'll always exist, there's means to publish smaller numbers for niche / cottage labels via duplication (as opposed to replication of pressed discs in a plant) but that tipping point of 1,000 discs will always mean there's a market for CDs. Once you get into low thousands, cost per unit is so comparatively minimal (like oldskool DVDs) they'll remain a viable distribution method for some time. Unfortunately it's the warehousing aspect which incurs most cost; we could almost halve the cost of our CDs if we could minimise the warehousing aspect free, it's what sucks up most of the wholesale price and results in us getting a very small return.

CDs are just so darned cost effective when you scale... Also, do not underestimate the twofold demand through by scarcity and the (more and more) 'deluxe' sensation of having full artwork, a CD and packaging to fondle. Intangible MP3s just don't get me excited like a hotly-anticipated CD album arriving in the post. (even though I might download it beforehand)

Sauce? I work at a record label. If anything, we're increasing the amount of CDs we're pressing over the next 12 months.

BT and F1 legend punt miracle diet in Twitter hijack

Christopher W

Not just big companies

I have several accounts, one of which was compromised and used to spam out links to a Rusky site of some disrepute. Twitter's automated systems noticed the breach and locked the account (sending me a link to reactivate and specify a new password) -- thing is, my passwords are never simple words, they include mixed case letters and also numbers. My shortest password is 11 characters long.

The Twitter automated message said that there was potentially a breach via a third party app granted access -- but on the affected account, only TweetDeck and HootSuite were given access. So, either TweetDeck, HootSuite or Twitter have some kind of undisclosed vulnerability which allows people to randomly compromise accounts through them... Or the Ruskies have developed MIND READING tech! In Soviet Russia, Twitter use you etc

Mine's the one with the one-time pad in it

Twitter update: @regsecurity – The Reg bags imposter

Christopher W


Now that you're apparently embracing the Twitters, does that mean el Reg's social media policy will be updated to stop rampant crossposting of identical articles across multiple twitter accounts? (reghardware, regsecurity, regmedia, regmusic etc?)

Mine's the one with the self-penned styleguide in the left pocket

Skype gulps group app as it is swallowed by Microsoft

Christopher W


A friend of mine who runs an indie hosting service has a perfectly capable skype-to-asterisk bridge set up... I helped him bug test. (granted, it ain't native though)

Phone-hack backlash BBC in embarrassing headline gaffes

Christopher W

Shurely shome mishtake

i frequently find myself reaching for the "Contact the Editors" page to inform them of misspelt words or poor grammatical constructions. It's really very disappointing.

I had English Comprehension, English Language *AND* grammar lessons at school. I grew to love my engagement with my mother tongue and I feel pretty confident that I can both speak and write to a high, consistent level with minimal errors. I certainly take pride in the fact that I can use their, there and they're appropriately (and the same for its / it's / its' - SERIOUSLY, IT'S NOT THAT HARD). The plague of hyphens slowly infesting written British English is a particular bugbear too... Hyphen-this, intersected-that! Unnecessary and illogical in some cases.

The old gem I always wheel out in these situations is a crudely handwritten sign outside the village where I grew up: "TRACTOR,S TURNING"

Mine's the one with the Oxford Super Compact Pico Pocket English Dictionary in it

Cloud iTunes DESTROYS music business FOREVER!

Christopher W

@Mark 65 re: variable quality

Hardly, stop trying to provoke me into an argument. ;-)

I'd rather that people could buy FLACs, with appropriate 300dpi artwork (or ALACs in Apple's case) and have that copy available everywhere. I have no problem with people having music they've purchased available on all devices, it's the scenario of Match being used for nefarious purposes I have a problem with.

Ideally I'd like a service which built on what AllOfMP3 offered - you pay for the quality you want; the premium for FLAC, the lowest for 128kbps. However I'd have it so you could optionally buy the FLAC then have the service transcode to MP3 / AAC on the fly for mobile devices, or you could download a LQ copy as AAC or MP3 for your MP3 player but always have the master FLACs available. It's certainly feasible as Apple have shown, because this is almost exactly what they're doing (just with one fixed bitrate and no download of the lossless original).

Also I'm still sceptical as to how much labels (except for the Big 4) will actually earn from this.

I regard myself as outside of the music industry, it's clusterfucking itself into a bloody mess with the way it's going (and has been for a decade now). I wish the industry had jumped onto Napster and produced a legitimate model and service based on it, that would've been incredible and we probably wouldn't even have the issue of multiple siloed stores.

Certainly we wouldn't have the issue of digital sales being counted as physical sales, which would have knock on effect of digital music being cheaper (and closer to its actual retail value, as I see it.)