Apps End User mobile apps spam

WhatsApp spam

WhatsApp spam endemic

whatsapp spamAaaargh just received my first WhatsApp spam message. I don’t even use WhatsApp though I do have the App on my droid. It’s getting uninstalled right now.

The spam originated from someone who created a group , added me to it, sent the spam and then removed me from the group. Must be a machine in play there.

An App must truly be labelled useless if all it does is serve you with spam.

I also still get phone call spam. I spent much of this afternoon getting my Snom M700 DECT system working. Wasn’t totally straightforward as it isn’t a Voipfone supported device but they have some great engineers and we got it sorted.

So now our home phone number points at two Snom DECT handsets (kitchen and TV room), a Yealink (conservatory/office) and on the CSIPSimple App on my mobile. I was just running through the ringtone options with the family when a son told me my mobile was ringing. This was somewhat confusing as so was the phone I had in my hand. Trouble is I was trying out a ringtone when it happened so little old me got confused initially.

I eventually did answer the Snom only to find it wasn’t a sales call from the subcontinent but a survey (from the subcontinent). The caller told me he was from a company called UK Surveys, or simlar. I asked him where in the UK he was and told him I didn’t trust him so he put the phone down on me. Oh ok.

I told the family that these calls would start getting less frequent as I would be implementing call barring where the inbound number was withheld. This raised a chorus of complaints on the basis that the call might be important. My view is if a person doesn’t have the courtesy to tell me their number they don’t deserve to be answered.

Anyway we are now a landline-less household. The home number is virtual. It is the way of the future present. I am now also WhatsApp-less. A truly uninspiring experience. At least WhatsApp spam is no longer going to be receivable on my phone.

See previous tome on WhatsApp. If you get WhatsApp spam they have a page on the subject that isn’t massively helpful.

PS I realise some of might not consider one spam message to be “endemic”. I do.

PPS I’m back. Hols are over. They were great. Now I need to get some work done and lose some weight.

Bad Stuff End User scams spam

HMRC scam spam

HMRC scam spam forwarded to my accountant

Thought you’d appreciate this public service service announcement re HMRC scam spam. Got the following email text notionally off HMRC and with lots of links:


You can’t afford to miss your payment deadline

If you submitted a self-assessment form in January, your second payment instalment is due on or before 31st July.

Filing your return means you’ll know how much you’ll need to pay, making it easier for you to plan ahead and put money aside.

Here’s a short video clip explaining ‘Paying HMRC – Self Assessment’

Take a look at the following YouTube videos to find out about key dates regarding Self Assessment and details of how charges are calculated. Each is only a couple of minutes long.

Self Assessment: Tax return deadline dates (HMRC YouTube)

Self Assessment: Payment deadline dates (HMRC YouTube)

Self Assessment: Tax return late submission penalties (HMRC YouTube)

Self Assessment: Missed payment charges (HMRC YouTube)

You know it makes sense.

I thought it was a bit odd as I don’t pay my personal tax by instalments so I just forwarded it to my accountant without clicking on anything.

Lo and behold the accountant came back and said trash it it’s a HMRC scam spam (I like that phrase – not sure it accurately describes the email but it rolls poetically off the tongue so it’s in.)

It’s second nature for most people these days to distrust dodgy looking emails but you can get caught out. That unwary moment. The dropped shield etc etc etc.

Anyway gotta go and pick up a hire car as the Jeep is in being mended (again). Tomorrow we are off to York to film some pigs for If you didn’t see the last video you can catch it here. This one’s going to be similar but totally different.

You heard it first on…

PS loads of scam stuff on this site – check it out here.

Bad Stuff End User spam

Our records show you work in shipbuilding

Multiple spam phone calls in one day and how I hate being called Mike

It all started as I left the tube, just after 8am on Tuesday. The phone rang. No one calls me at that time of day.


The kids have hurt themselves or the office is on fire (metaphorically). Usually something bad.

So I answer..


Ominous pause..

“ ‘ello.. is that Mr Daly??”


“Im calling from ‘Some random posh sounding solicitor’s name’, our records show that you have been involved in an accident and are entitled to compensaaaation” (Yes… at least 5 a’s..)

Now, I agree, its a failing on my part that I just can’t hang up on these calls. I figure if I’m rude then I’m just being unpleasant to someone who, probably, doesn’t like the job but needs it to keep house and home together and doesn’t need me having a pop at them.

“No, I haven’t had any accidents so, no I’m not…”

“Oh, but we have an insurance application that..”

“No, really I’m not interested, please don’t call me again.”

“Thank you….. Bye..”


Click.. burrrrrrrrrrrr.

michael dalyAbout an hour later, the phone rings again..

I’m expecting a call from someone, no idea where they are based, so this could be it..


Ominous pause..

“Goooood morning Mr Daly, my name is Phil1, Im calling from the pension clinic2, are you aware that there have been changes to pension regulations, and we’d like to offer you a free pension health check”

“Yes thanks, I have my own financial advisor who I’m happy with so I don’t need your help.”

“Yes, but as I said its free and will only take a few minutes to take some details and we promise not to steal all your money”3

“No.. Really, no… please don’t call me again..”

The next one Lunch time-ish..

Now this one was a blocked number, and I know that you probably shouldn’t pick up a blocked number call, but my Mother-in-law blocks her outbound number and the last time she called during the working day, well.. let just say it was a good job I took the call.

“Hi, Is that Michael?”

“yep, who’s calling?”

“Hi there, my name is Kelly4, and our records indicate that you are entitled to a PPI claim for a mortgage you had in….”

“No, I have never had PPI…”

“Yes, many people think that but mortgages were mis-sold before (Some previous date), so if I could just take some details….”

“No thank you.. Good bye..”

By this point I’m just a little narked.. Then the next one takes the biscuit.

“Hi, is that Mike?”

Now, I hate being called Mike. You may as well call me George. Mike is not my name. It has NEVER been my name. The only person who gets (got) away with calling me Mike was Grandma and that was because it came with sweets or cake, and by the time cake and sweets stopped she was too old and fragile for me to get worried about it.

Even my teachers got ignored when they called me Mike.

Apologies to all the Mikes out there, there is nothing wrong with the name but its just not mine..


“Oh er.. can I speak to Mr Daly..”

“Speaking.. “

“Oh… er… OK.. Im calling from (wherever), Our records show…” (here we go again) “ that you

have worked in industry and may be entitled to compensation”

“NO, I have never worked in industry..”

“You have never worked in industry?”

What I want to say is;

“Well yes.. clearly I have, but not in the kind of industry you mean”

What I actually say is;

“Define Industry?”


“What do you mean by ‘industry’?”

“OH… our records show that you worked in shipbuilding”

I see the link – I used to work for a company that owned (among 30 other businesses) a shipyard..

“NO, I have never worked in shipbuilding.. Thanks for the…”

She hung up on me..

Thats a new one.. 🙂

Cue the tweet that triggered the invitation to write the blog…spam phone calls

I’m now a bit fed up.. the next call..


“erm.. hello, is that Mr Daly?”

“yep” (Blimey, that was terse.)

“Hi, this is Sarah from…”

“Sorry, Im busy, I have had enough today, I don’t care what you are selling I’m really not interested”

“Oh, ok.. Im sorry.. Just to let you know, that I have the quotes we discussed last week,”

(you remember the call I was waiting for..)

“…shall I just email them to you?”

A very large helping of humble pie, an apology and a quite pleasant discussion about cold calling.

But it’s not really cold calling. They must have my number somewhere, I must have forgotten to tick (or un-tick) the box that said please don’t bother me. So not reading the small print properly somewhere has caused this. Unfortunately I have no answer. There is no great reveal coming about how we all solve this problem.

None of us has the time (or, frankly the inclination) to read the 70 page list of T’s & C’s before we click the “I agree…” button because they are written in some arcane legal language that we just can’t read, without taking a course on British consumer law so we can understand it… (breath… ) so what we actually need is better protection from the regulators.

Most of this crap is some kind of scam. The goal is to get you to pay for a service that you can probably get for free if you do a little bit of work yourself. So its not actually illegal.

If only there was some kind of list.. Oh wait.. there is..

The telephone preference service is supposed to help you get out of this stuff.

Am I registered? – yep.

Does it work? – Nope.

Because somewhere, some time ago, I accidentally ticked (or didn’t tick) a box that enabled one organisation with iffy morals to sell my phone number.

So how about a bit of crowd sourcing?

Lets share all the random calls we get on a site, so we can add the calls to our block lists. I think there is even an idea for an app in there somewhere.

I think I know someone who can help with that.

1Could have been Phil, I didn’t hear properly..

2Could have been… cant remember that one either..

3I added the “The We promise bit…”



Michael is the Engineering Manager at Cloudflare, having previously designed, built and managed infrastructure and networks for Nominet, Mercedes Benz and Virgin (amongst others). When not at work, he can usually be found with his family or with a guitar in his hand.

Anything written here is his own work, and has nothing whatsoever to do with his employer. Follow him on twitter at @michaelscloud.

Business fun stuff spam

How to market online

Or online marketing marketed offline

The good old fashioned postman dropped some good old fashioned snail mail through my letterbox. I’m working from home today so excitedly picked the mail up off the floor and flicked through it.

One was addressed to “The lovely person who lives at…”. I gave it to son 2 to open as he was disappointed that there were no letters for him personally. “It’s a £130k cheque” he exclaimed excitedly (no strikethrough).  Nah. Only joking.

The letter was an invitation to “join the online community for Lincoln”. I sighed and put it in a pile of other junk ready for recycling.

Then it occurred to me that hey, here was a website trying to drum up business using traditional direct marketing methods. The website was called

Now I don’t know which B@$!&rd business has sold them my address. Maybe no one as the letter wasn’t addressed to me personally. Shouldn’t be allowed to spam me anyway.

Then I thought “what an expensive way to recruit new website users” and “how inefficient”.

Just goes to show how much money it really takes to get your stuff seen these days. The holy grail is free viral online marketing but that very rarely happens. When you are actively promoting something you get visitors to your website. When you stop this the visitors stop, or at least there are fewer of them. This is why you see lots of online affiliate marketing websites advertise on TV. It’s big bucks. The more visitors you want the more you have to actively promote the site.

This costs money in the case of it’s money spent on direct mail. It’s also probably money spent with a marketing agency. The letter tells me their site has been featured in the Guardian, Sunday Times, Woman & Home and BBC News. It is probable that this exposure was down to time spent pitching to journalists (one assumes). Money.

Woman & Home tells me who their audience really is, as perhaps does their mode of address. Personally I already have as many social media platforms as I can handle, probably too many as G+ isn’t doing anything. Without looking at it seems to me that Facebook already serves the same purpose as streetlife.

I won’t be signing up with streetlife. Call me a miserable git.

On the upside streetlife have now got themselves some major free exposure on 😉 As I finish a tune enters my head: Streetlife, there ain’t no place I can’t go…

Bad Stuff End User security spam

Can you confirm your company name is self?


Was sat on the terrace around the pool yesterday when the phone rang. It was a Birmingham number – 01213540949. I’m not sure I know anyone in brum and toyed with the idea of not answering. I was after all going to be paying for the international leg.

I clicked on the green bouton (for the pool twas in Marseille) and took the call.

‘Hello sir, can you please confirm your company name is “self”?’ I did a double take. Self??

Oh god. I asked who had sold them my mobile number. It is a new one. Then I realised it must have been EE. The b*&^%$£ds. The girl on the other end of the phone said she worked for some kind of yellow pages organisation. 118 something.

She repeated the question. ‘can you please confirm your company name is “self”?’ You can imagine the rest of the dialogue. There may be a company somewhere called self. Lots of people work for them as you often see the name in company receptions’ visitors books.

Unfortunately this is more likely to be incompetence on the part of EE rather than them selling my number. How can personal mobile phone details be given to a directory organisation for inclusion as a business number. The bigger the company the less competent their customer care becomes. This is likely to especially be the case with Ee who are probably still desperately trying to merge Orange and T-Mobile before being merged themselves into BT.

The girl promised not to put my name in the business directory. I’m not sure what advice to offer if you see an incoming call from 01213540949. It’s going to be spam but if you ignore it you might end up in a 118 directory somewhere as a company called self. Or shelf. Or shellfish. Or anything really.

01213540949 – you know it doesn’t make sense.

Lotsa posts on nuisance calls on this blog – check em out here.

End User social networking spam surveillance & privacy

fling flung over twitter

Fling – adult social network – I’m not supplying a link

Somewhat surprised that Twitter let this ad through. I’ve been pushed a promoted tweet by “fling” three times in the last few days. There’s nothing in the ad to tell you what fling is. Just looks like an odd way to push photos.

It’s only when you click to go to their website and are faced with a wall of nude photos that you realise what it is – an adult social network. For adult read porn. I find this quite distasteful of Twitter. I also find myself in the unusual situation of saying “Facebook would not have allowed that ad” although this is not based on any knowledge of fact.

You can see from the featured image in this post that the ad says “Send your snaps to 50 people around the world at random”. This must surely be something that the Advertising Standards Agency would want to take a look at. It’s something that kids might inadvertently click on. After all it suggests something like Instagram.

Fling must have some money to spend if they’ve pushed the ad to me three times. Unless I’m considered to be of a “certain demographic” which could be a bit worrying. Makes you wonder what data mining is being done by Twitter.

An individual is pretty helpless in this situation. We need the social networks as they have become part and parcel of our everyday lives but seem to have little control over what those networks might do with our data1. It feels to me that governments should start taking a much tougher stance with these guys.

Lots of posts on the subject of surveillance and privacy elsewhere on this blog. Check them out in the surveillance and privacy category here.

1 eg class action against Facebook for privacy breach & Facebook admits to tracking non-users

End User Regs spam

Electoral register online makes opt in to open register default

Electoral register online makes opt in to open register default – they are trying to make money out of spammers

I have just finished filling in my  details for the electoral register online.  I don’t know why I have had to do this. Kid3 has also had to but Wife1 and Kid2 have not. Wossthatallabout? The bumpf they sent says “For all sorts of reasons, some people will not match against existing records (!?) and therefore cannot automatically be transferred automatically to the new register. For example, they may have moved home since the record was last updated, or there may have been a difference in the spelling of the two records“.

Well I haven’t moved home for 17 years – since Kid3 was born and it isn’t as if Huw Trefor Davies is an uncommon name, innit?!

It didn’t take me long to fill out the electoral register online stuff but it would appear that you do have to take care when it comes to the government. They set as default that you want to join the open register. In leaving the box unticked you are giving them permission to sell your details to anyone who wants to spam you.

This is not setting a good example. No wonder the Telephone Preference Service  doesn’t work when you have your own government making it easy for people to get hold of our details and to say that you opted in. I didn’t give them my phone number or email address as contact info. If they want to send me something they can do it by mail. I don’t trust them to not give these data to the spammers as well.

Loads of spam related stuff on this site – follow the spam category here. Also check out this post on Tesco spam more expensive than ham. I like the meat variety of spam.

broadband End User spam

Virgin Media Broadband Spam

Broadband Spam by Virgin Media – aka junk mail.

A week or three ago I whinged to Virgin Media on Twitter about their broadband spam. In other words they keep sending me junk mail pitching their broadband packages. I’m sure they are very good but sorry boys, if I want to look at your stuff I’ll do it online. The guy (gal?) at the end of their Twitter account promised he would take my details off their mailing list.

Alas twas a vain promise. Yesterday I got some more junk mail off them. I’me sure there must be a way of complaining about this. I can’t use the old send the junk mail back in the reply paid envelope because they don’t provide one. Maybe I’ll stick it in an unstamped envelope and send it on to Richard Branson. A few of those and they’d soon get the message: “Oy I keep getting junk mail off this bloke Tref. Doesn’t he know I already have Virgin broadband, TV, phone etc etc etc? Also I had to nip to the post office and pay the unpaid postage before finding out it was more junk from him. Who can I complain to?” Or words to that effect. I imagine. Probably.

One assumes Richard Branson uses Virgin, unless they aren’t in his area. They don’t bother providing services to areas of low population densities such as vast country estates, farms, villages and so on and so forth (just trying to avoid too frequent repetition of the etcetera word).

Having read umpteen mailings from Virgin (I am in the business – I don’t normally read junk mail) one has to admit that consumer broadband services are getting cheap. As a non TV watcher I’m not tempted by the TV bolt ons. Surely people can get everything they need on BBC1 and BBC2, oh and Yesterday although the adverts are a nuisance on the latter, aren’t they?

In the interests of research I did take a look at the Virgin Media website. Their broadband spam does work in raising awareness. It amazes me how much these people must spend on marketing and I wonder how much of your monthly subscription that accounts for?!

The big message seems to be in the bundle. A common thread in the pricing is the fact that you always have to add a telephone line rental to the total. It would seem to me that this function is rapidly becoming obsolete, other than to carry a broadband line but that is another story.

End User spam

Junk mail register

The junk mail register – start at the bottom of the post for the whole history


7th July Virgin Media

Virgin spam

5th July – Policy expert (aaargh more insurance – you guys are the lowest of the low)

policy expert junk mail

Update – latest junk is from Legal and General on 21st & general junk mail

castle cover insuranceWhilst spam is pretty minimal now I notice I’m still getting lots of junk mail through the letter box. Virgin Media are big culprits but there are many others. I’ve decided it would be interesting to keep a log of who is sending me stuff. You never know where it is going to go.

halifax insuranceThis post is the beginning of this log. Yesterday (only noticed this am) had mail from Halifax Insurance and Castle Cover, both for home insurance. Our existing cover must be coming up for renewal. The annoying thing is that some b%$£”rd must be selling this information to these insurance companies. I’m sure it should all be opt in.

A this post evolves something may come out of it. Maybe a letter to the Information Commissioners Office. Ve shall see. I realise that people have to make a living but in my mind people that send me stuff I haven’t asked for are the lowest of the low and I wouldn’t dream of buying from them. They must be thick skinned and presumably must have a business case for spending the money.

I’ve begun to send their contents back in the reply paid envelope if they have included one. None of this morning’s batch did but I did notice that they all have an “if undelivered please return to” note on the back of the envelope. I’ll be taking more care about opening this stuff so that I can send it back. If only I had confidence that this feedback loop worked but I doubt it.

Ciao. Hasta la vista baby.

End User spam

616 spam comments in 24 hrs

Just done a bit of an experiment. I deleted a load of spam comments from the blog yesterday at 6am and this morning gone back in and counted the little critters again. In just over 24 hours I’ve picked up another 606 spam comments. There may be some legit ones in there but they ain’t gonna be seen amongst the dross (sorry yawl).

It’s basically around 25 spam comments an hour. We never see spam emails any more, at least not when using gmail. This isn’t entirely true as I do get crap from “seo experts” who address me as “Hi” and quote the “can spam act” in the footer. They always get labelled as spam (may have mentioned this before but it’s an ongoing situation).

I’m sure the 25 spam comments an hour far exceeds the rate of spam emails when we used to get them. Although this spam is mostly captured (Akismet) you do have to occasionally remember to permanently delete it or it would start filling up the server.

In the way you used to get quotes about the size of the global email spam problem it would be interesting to look at the equivalent stats for comments.

The pics below show zero comments initially then 616 a day later. There is something very satisfying about pressing the “empty spam” button. It’s a bit like driving down a clear motorway when there is a 10 mile tailback going the other way.

I wonder what the clickthrough rate for a spam comment is. Must be infinitesimally small. You would have to be paticularly stupid to click on one of the links.

screenshot showing zero spam commentsspam606-642

Other spam related posts:
Louis Vuitton spam
London Book Fair 2014 – unsubscribe spam
Spam blocking strategies

ecommerce End User spam

London Book Fair 2014 – unsubscribe SPAM

Yesterday I took delivery of a book: “History of the Welsh Baptists from the year 63 to 1770”. I had to refer to this post for the exact dates – I’m on my way to Manchester, the book is at home and the acknowledgement email cuts the title off at the number 6.

I’m happy enough with the book although the paper has a distinctive odour. Much of it is fictitious rubbish sourced from medieval tracts. It serves a purpose as I am interested in Welsh Baptists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries1, particularly from the area between Caerfyrddin and Castell Newydd Emlyn 🙂

The book is a photocopy of an abbreviated English translation of an early Welsh text but it has done the job for me. It’s a print on demand job from India. The service was good.

This morning I woke up to an email from someone called

Business mobile connectivity phones social networking spam

1951 exhibitors at #MWC2014

sgs5_thumbYesterday when I signed in for Cloud Expo Europe the guy handing out the badges pointed out a “win an iPhone 5s free draw” for visiting the Telehouse (might have been Telecity – I no longer have the card) stand. All I had to do was take a scratchcard along and see if I’d won.

I duly scratched off the silver scratchey off bit and found a number between 1 and 9,999. Looked like a pretty low chance of winning. In exchange for almost certainly not winning an iPad I was probably going to have to let them scan my badge and stick me on a spam list. Considering also I am not an iPhone fanboi I declined the offer and didn’t specifically head for their stand. It’s a problem, getting people interested in looking at your stuff as opposed to someone else’s.

This morning I wondered whether Mobile World Congress had finished. After the flurry of “exciting” product launches (the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the, erm…) things have gone quiet.

Today is the last day, apparently. At MWC2014 there are 1,951 exhibitors. One thousand nine hundred and fifty one!!! How on earth do you stand out amongst that lot? There must be a much easier way of getting seen.

The web is the only answer. These big shows have to be replaced by website interaction. Ok I hear the argument that says the benefit of going to a trade show is the networking. That can easily be done at specific networking events over a glass of lemonade and a canape. Not too many canapes of course – you will want to do your own fair share of talking:)

Trefor Davies,, not in Barcelona.

PS I hear that half the SGS5 RAM is taken up by its Android firmware load!

Business security spam UC

Selling your contact information – who does it?

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to in life post Timico is having a cleaner inbox. I don’t get spam using Gmail and the platform very kindly filters most commercial mails in to a tab called “Promotions”.

This I love. I do look occasionally and note that the mails are typically from rewards membership accounts and their ilk. I am ok with this.

My Timico mailbox, RIP, used to get tons of unwanted rubbish from companies I had no interest in and who

Business online safety security spam

Gmail update – Google+ comment

gmail_updateGot an email yesterday from Google about a change to Gmail. Everyone probably got the same mail. Certainly the mainstream media made big news of it, in the tech sections. When you are sending an email from a gmail account you will now be offered Google+ account holders as recipients of the mail.

One site, whose name is oft misspelled, even published a post on how to change your settings to stop people from being able to contact you via Google+. This would appear to me to be a blatant sop to search engine rankings – a big part of the email I got was all about explaining exactly this so the repetition of this info seemed particularly unnecessary. Whoever gets news out first attracts the visitors so it’s dog eat dog out there in the www.

Anyway “starting this week, when you’re composing a new email, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients, even if you haven’t exchanged email addresses yet. Your email address isn’t visible to your Google+ connections until you send them an email, and their email addresses are not visible to you until they respond.

I’ve tried but I can’t seem to get it to work. I guess “this week” must mean “next week” or at least from Monday onwards.

If someone from outside your Google+ Circles emails you then the mail gets filtered into the “Social” tab in your inbox. In my case this means it is unlikely to get read because I never look in that tab. I don’t look in the “promotions” tab either unless I’m expecting a particular mail – eg a password reset.

The tone of the online commentary about this “feature” is in the vein of “Google trying to increase/stimulate Google+ usage” and also all about privacy.

In my mind this is a very useful feature. I want people to be able to get hold of me. The principle is no different to your telephone number. Unless you want to be ex-directory anyone can look up your number. Of course there is the concern about spam but Google has a fantastic antic-spam engine and if it turns out to be “legitimate” spam from a business then this gets filtered into the “promotions” tab as previously mentioned. You can also label a sender as being a spammer which I frequently do if the email addresses me as “Hi”.

So all in all I think this is good. Except as I mentioned it doesn’t seem to work for me! That’s all folks.

Business online safety spam

Google blocking Microsoft Office365 mail as spam

I note from Twitter this morning that Google is blocking some emails from Microsoft Office365  to Gmail recipients as spam.

The message reads: [ 1] Our system has detected an unusual rate of unsolicited mail originating from your IP address 

I note also that the ip address is ascribed to AS8075 (ours is AS8607  fwiw – pretty contemporary) otherwise known as Microsoft Corporation. This address has been identified in the past as a source of spam – check out Project Honeypot. That link also displays some example mail messages that are clearly spam – “loans available”, “Attention ATM card beneficiary” and so on.

I sense a wry smile as you read this. Global commercial internet wars! “Google tries to shut down Microsoft email”. I suspect though that there will be no malice aforethought here. Managing mail platforms is a 24×7 job. As an email service provider you can’t afford for your server IP addresses to be blacklisted because of some customer generating spam. It might not even be that customer’s fault. It’s almost certainly an infected PC.

spam attacksMicrosoft will have a huge team of people managing their email platform. That spam was identified is also a testament to the Google anti spam capability which is widely considered to be the best in the game.

The pic inset is an old screenshot depicting incoming spam attacks – the legitimate mail has had to be amplified x10 so that you can actually see it. Fortunately the vast majority of the spam never makes it to the desktop.

IP addresses blacklisted as a source of spam don’t usually stay on the blacklist for very long – 24 hours maybe but it can certainly be a nuisance for those trying to send or waiting to receive emails.

I don’t think email has a long term future in any case or at least it is going to have niche applications (spam etc :)), but lets not get into a lengthy debate.


Business Regs spam

A cold call from Ideal Solar Solutions to someone signed up with the TPS

Cold call from Ideal Solar Solutions to someone signed up for TPS

Ideal Solar Solutions Ltd are based in Derby. They rang me at 10.27 this morning to try and sell me something, or at least to say that they were in the area on Monday and it would be good if they could arrange to come around to see me.

Actually they wanted to see both meself and Anne. Experience must tell them that decisions on big capital spend items such as solar panels are not made alone.

Unfortunately for them Anne was not around but also unfortunately I recorded the whole conversation – just to make sure that I got the name of the company right etc.

Their website is here. It’s got all their contact details.

Thing is they shouldn’t be calling me. I told them that I was signed up to the Telephone Preference Service and that I would be reporting them to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

They and their ilk are a blight on society. I realise that they are trying to earn a quid but don’t they understand how difficult it is to make sales with cold calling like this. Far better they did a sensible Google Adwords campaign and attracted people actually looking for solar panels. It would meant that the poor telephone sales girl who was clearly reading from a not particularly well written script didn’t have to endure days of fruitless calling speaking to people who didn’t want to talk to her and  who might report her employers to the ICO.

When calling me they withheld their number but if you need solar panels you can call them on 0844 472 2941. It’s on their website. Give em a ring. They haven’t asked you to call but I’m sure they won’t mind.

I note that they carry the logo of the CPA (Consumer Protection Association). The CPA needs to update its Code of Practice, assuming they have one – I couldn’t find it on their site, to include not calling people who are signed up with the TPS.

The recording of the call is here if you are interested. They didn’t ask me to record it but there again I didn’t ask them to call me. It’s a bit noisy but hey… I was recording off the speakerphone of a dect phone. You do hear the occasional ping – it’s my Chromebook – I was in the middle of a hangout with my daughter.

Business spam Weekend

Tesco spam – more expensive than ham!

Tesco spam more expensive than ham.

It’s the weekend so I thought we’d have a bit of fun. Just been to Tesco to get a few staples – bread, milk, custard. As ever I left with far more in my trolley than what was on my list.

Passing the tinned meats section I spotted some spam! I haven’t had any spam since I was a kid, other than the crap that gets caught in my spam filter. When I was a kid spam was the everyday meat “replacement” for those of us who lived in shoeboxes on the central reservation of the M4 (etc). Now spam is priced as if it were luxury goods!

The two pics inset show the price of spam and the price of tinned ham on the shelf next to it. Spam is £1.99 for 340g (58.6pence per 100g) whilst the tinned ham is only £1.89 for the same weight.

spam at TescoThe ham doesn’t look particularly appetising mind you but there again neither does the spam. I still bought a tin.

Tesco spam – just about acceptable but only for old times’ sake.

Having bought the tin I am willing to let someone else have it if you can persuadeham me your need is greater than mine. I will need a postal address. Addresses that don’t mention shoeboxes will be ineligible.

PS fwiw Tesco have 25% off wine if you buy six or more bottles. We have a party coming up so I bought a few bottles of Heisdieck Monopole blue top. The bottles were down from £30 to £15 with a further 25% off making them £11.25 each! At that price I don’t even have to like the stuff.

Loads of spam related stuff on this site – follow the spam category here.

Business spam

Louis Vuitton spam

Just emptied around 1,600 spam comments – good ole Akismet. Lots of it is for Louis Vuitton stuff.

I’ve never thought about buying anything from Louis Vuitton. Paying more than twenty quid for any sort of bag seems excessive to me. I was in a taxi in London on Friday and we passed the Louis Vuitton store. The driver said that apparently they just spent £60m on a shop refit! Shows how much profit there is in handbags.

Just took a look at their site – they do a lovely line in men’s clutch bags from £590 though you can pay a lot more. It’s not about the money though is it? 🙂

Business online safety spam

spam blocking strategies

Trefor DaviesI am pretty aggressive in protecting my gmail account from unwanted email. The Timico mail is beyond redemption after years of attending trade shows although my strategy of signing up as The Reverend or Lord Trefor Davies seems to be working. Any mail or phone calls I get for one of those titles gets shoved straight in the bin.

The main problem I have with my account is people wanting to sell me SEO or web development services. Often these emails come with elaborate messaging in the footer telling me that this is absolutely not spam and that they provide an unsubscribe function. However they usually can’t be bothered to find out my name and address the email as Hi. On this basis I tell Google that they are spammers. It gives me pleasure.

I’ve started to add similar emails to my block list on my Microsoft Exchange account. This morning someone I have never heard of from a company I have never heard from invited me to hook up on LinkedIn. I ignored it. This afternoon that same person has sent me a generic mailer addressed to “Hi”. If he went to the effort of looking me up on LinkedIn he might as well have gone that extra step and added my name into the email!

Ciao baby…

Apps Business mobile apps spam

Slightly disappointing email from Microsoft :) #joshfire

Just had a slightly disappointing junk email from Microsoft. I don’t normally bother opening this “legitimate spam” that pushes a company’s products but the subject line for this one was “Proud partners of the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia”.

You might guess where my thinking was here. Maybe it was a free draw for a trip to Australia for the Lions Tour. I’m in I thought, clicked and downloaded the pictures. The disappointment came when I read the following:

“Your First Windows 8 app in minutes

Joshfire is an online tool that Microsoft have partnered with to enable you to create a free and simpler than ever Windows 8 app for your business. Simply select a template, then add your existing sources of online content – Flickr for photos, YouTube for videos, blogs, social feeds and so on.

Even better, for the next 6 weeks Joshfire is free. And what’s more, if you’re one of the first 250 to create an app with Joshfire, we will give you a lovely Microsoft British & Irish Lions commemorative toy. ”

Am I alone in thinking that the Microsoft marketing is somewhat off the mark here? A there can’t be that many people developing apps for Windows 8 and B is a lovely commemorative toy the right incentive?

Well as I write this I’m changing my tune from contemptuous disappointment to idle nay vague curiosity so that I can see what it’s all about. After all I do have a Windows 8 PC and a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 phone. I just clicked on the “Create your first Windows 8 app” link. Oops. Got the following screen:

joshfireMy vague curiosity changed back to a disinterested disappointment. No lovely commemorative toy for me eh? Also ah well! I will make it on another Lions tour some day. I went to South Africa on the last one with the Commons and Lords Rugby Club. Had a great time.

Ciao baby.

Business spam


pirate_flag_thumbI like to occasionally click on the unsubscribe link on unsolicited emails, ie spam. It makes me feel better even though I know it isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to the amount of crap that comes through to my inbox. Sometimes I block the user and sometimes I even respond to them telling them to go away.

I’ve done it on a number of occasions with recruitment firm ComputerFutures who send me no end of rubbish. Including one “consultant” who said he was going to be in North London and would I like to meet for a coffee. I said it was a bit far to come from Newark. I’ve tried unsubscribing from their list as well as individually asking their people to take me off the list but to no avail. The last time was this week when I threatened the sender that if I got another email from his company I would ask all my friends in the industry to blacklist their IP addresses. Probably not hugely ethical but so far I haven’t had another peep from them!

Today  I was merrily blocking and unsubscribing when  I got a  mail from Amanda at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It wasn’t addressed to me personally, ie none of the old familiar Hi Trefor, hope things are well. It was just  “Good morning”. No name (no pack drill either fwiw and whatever one of those is).

Amanda was offering me a “free taster session for her 1 Day Telephone Prospecting Masterclass”. This seemed particularly not well targeted, me being a CTO and all.

I replied to her asking where she got my email address from and got a reply saying she “captured data from a search which includes Companies House, Dunn & Brad Street etc”. There really is no hope for us all. These mailing lists get recompiled from scratch on a dynamic basis. As soon as you unsubscribe from one someone else goes ahead and puts together another and there is no way you can stop it.

I’m pretty sure the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce are a good bunch of people and Amanda is just doing her job but it is a shame there is no way for people to have better targeting. It almost makes Google, Facebook et al seem like good guys. Like it or not at least I am sometimes interested in they chuck my way because as often as not it’s based on my search history.

Amanda does need to adopt some best practices mind you. She offered no unsubscribe link for example. I told her this in a reply and copied one of our sales guys in so that he could give her a call and sell her something. Seemed like the right thing to do. If she becomes a customer I’ll delete this post. Can’t have people writing stuff like this about our customers now can we?

Ciao baby!

Business spam

Does this person come from the double glazing industry?

Enterprise Management 360 along with Gartner and IDC will be distributing a comprehensive research on Building bridges with real-time Optimized Data Center Infrastructure Management with key content from Emerson, a leading infrastructure Management Industry

You have been selected out of 100 executives you will also have a No Obligation opportunity to speak with an industry expert to discuss any questions or possible solutions that can help your organisation to maximise your Infrastructure Management.

Please do email me if you have any questions.

Like most of you I get more than my fair share of “legitimate” junk email. I occasionally spend a few minutes unsubscribing from lists but I know it is a futile task. My name is out there. I am a marked man.

It is usually easy to spot true spam should it make it past the trap. This one however is one of the legitimate junk mails that looks like genuine spam.

The text has been lifted verbatim including grammatical errors. How can a business hope to win customers if this is how it speaks to prospects. No name – just Hello. No Obligation opportunity to speak with an industry expert! No unsubscribe link. I wonder how they chose my name out of the 100 executives. Must have been a chance in a million hundred.

I allude to the double glazing industry in the title but I suspect I am being most unfair to the hard working folk in that market sector. I don’t even know why I bothered to write this post but it tickled my fancy and it has given me a break from writing some really interesting stuff on SIP trunks. I have remove the links to protect the innocent.

PS for a No Obligation opportunity to talk about SIP trunks go to the Timico business website – there is a chat line there. Tell em I sent ya 🙂

Business olympics spam

Unsubscribe UKTI

I’ve just unsubscribed from the UK Trade and Industry mailing list. I think I must have got on it from being at the Global Business Summit at Lancaster House during the Olympics. They need to improve their data base. I’ve just been spammed with an invitation to “Business Hindi for Beginners”.

Previously it was “Meet the Sports and Infrastructure Expert: Russia, Brazil and Israel” and before that it was “Business Japanese for Beginners”. Then it was “Financial, Professional and Business Services Roadshows for the ASEAN region (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia)”.

Maybe I’m being ungrateful because I did have a good day at Lancaster House. I guess it underlines the importance of accurate mailing list demographic data. Never mind. They’re gone now.

End User security spam

Automated spam calls to mobile – what to do

unwanted automated phone callsThe scam business continues. Just got what I think was another PPI mis-selling call via automated call to my mobile. The originating number was 07588034908. I was expecting a call and was just trying to figure out if this was it at the same time as answering the phone so I missed the first half sentence. I just caught the words “to claim your compensation press 5” so I hit the cancel button.

This is the first time I have had an automated phone call. I stayed with some friends in the USA once and they never used to take a call at home until the person had started to leave a voice mail so they knew who it was. They got so many automated calls it had become a real nuisance.

It started to get like that here to the point that the ICO has begun to address the problem. It may be that the ICO makes headway but I’d like to bet not. The law is complex with many areas where it is not easy to prove guilt. It is also difficult to know whether you have given permission for your number to be called by accidentally not unchecking a box at some stage of an online registration process. The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) certainly doesn’t seem to be effective.

There is more info on this subject on the ICO website here. It covers unwanted marketing calls, texts and faxes and tells you what is and isn’t allowed and what you should do if you get these unwanted communications.

I just registered the above phone number as the source though often these are pre-pay sims where the operator doesn’t know who the owner is. I rang it back but it is obviously just a machine making outbound calls. If we all register incidents as they happen we may at least make some progress.

The PPI mis-selling compensation industry may not be outside the law but the methods used to drum up leads must surely be pretty borderline.

End User spam

I wish there was a global unsubscribe button

It’s that time on a Friday afternoon when a young man’s mind strays off the subject of work and onto lighter matters.  Spring has arrived. Benevolent lovely spring that prises open daffodils and encourages birds to raise their bright eyed heads to the sky in full voice. Girls smile and bring gladness to the heart.

In my email inbox a message arrives.

Dear Trefor,

I am following up on my email from last week that you might have missed first time around. I wanted to invite you to come along to our ‘Kofax Customer Connect Event’, with keynote speaker Derek Miers, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research on WEDNESDAY 18TH & THURSDAY 19TH APRIL 2012 at Westminster, London, UK.

Attend this event to learn how your organization can benefit from Capture Enabled BPM initiatives and take part in our interactive and lively speed workshops, where you drive the agenda.

If you don’t want to miss out, but can’t get the budget for travel approved Register for our Capture Enabled BPM Launch event as an online participant and guarantee your place on this first of a kind event.

Kind Regards,


Dear Jenny

Where on earth do you guys get your mailing lists from. I almost certainly did not reply to your email from last week for a number of reasons.

  1. It was unsolicited and one of many similar mails I get every day that I by and large treat as spam and ignore.
  2. I have never heard of Kofax
  3. I have no idea what Capture Enabled BPM is (though I do now because in the interest of scientific research I have scrolled far enough down the email trail – and it is of absolutely no interest)

All the best


PS I wish there was a list of databases that have my email address on it so that I could systematically unsubscribe from them all instead of having to do it individually. I’ve stopped leaving my business card at exhibitions because of all the unwanted mail it seems to generate.

Note I’ve left the original links from the email in in case any blog reader wants to go –  looks like there’s a free dinner – I bet Kofax is a generous company. There is no info at all on timings other than the date – it’s at your own risk:)

Right back to birds, gladness and, oh, my presentation preparation for our customer event. Have a good weekend 🙂


Engineer online safety security spam

Akismet is a seriously good spam catcher

Akismet is a seriously good spam catcher. I just took a look at the comments it has trapped recently. Not clicked on any of the links but there is a wonderful range of products being pushed:

pre-workout supplements, SEO, LA Weightloss (to offset the pre workout supplements presumably), healthy food ideas, free online background checks, pharmaceutical delivery service, wedding photography, kitchen appliances, custom cabinet design!, Scottish mountain biking, a bar in London for stag nights.

Some of the comments appear to be quite carefully crafted responses the the post – as if they really are relevant. Anyway I’ve just deleted 103 of them. Sorry if yours was a genuine comment and is not approved. Keep em coming 🙂

Business mobile connectivity spam

08452860706 keyword has attracted 346 visits to in September

The search keyword  08452860706 has attracted 346 visits to this month.  This was a surprise because the most popular keywords by far relate to FTTC.

08452860706 takes people to a blog post concerning mobile spam from a company called DXI Easycall. It would appear that this problem is fairly prevalent and presumably unpopular.

These visitors, none of whom have visited the site before,  don’t stay long though – 21 seconds compared with the site average this month of 1 minute 44 seconds.  Just long enough I guess to find out the culprit and move on.

Apps End User google spam

Gmail Priority Inbox – why wouldn’t you use it?

My email experience is a divided one. I use Microsoft Outlook for work stuff and I use gmail for play. Actually that isn’t entirely true as uses gmail but that is a kind of hybrid work/play site.

New in at Google is the Gmail Priority Inbox which prioritises your mails for you. Google’s anti spam service is probably the best in the business and I never get spam on (in all fairness the service used by Timico is also pretty good but I never get spam using gmail).

This is because Google has such a fantastic antispam engine and because it carries so many mails on a daily basis that it learns very quickly what is and isn’t a spam mail.

This same learning process is applied to the new Priority mailbox service. When I signed up for the service Google ran a test on existing emails in my inbox and to my amazement it was spot on. It deprioritised mails from Facebook, for example, and marked blog comments awaiting moderation as important.

As I use it I know it will also get better.

Google ad over.

End User mobile connectivity ofcom Regs spam

mobile spam

I was spammed on my mobile yesterday.  That is to say I had a cold call from a computer trying to sell legal services for those involved in motoring accidents.

This was extremely irritating – I can’t imagine anyone likes being suckered like this. I have checked and there doesn’t seem to be a telephone preference type service for mobile numbers.

The originating number was 08452860706 which is operated by DXI Easycall, a hosted contact centre business. You

Engineer internet spam

Anti spam best practice

You may have noted the spam theme of my posts this week.  This is because we are in the process of upgrading our anti spam capabilities. The management of spam is a hugely complex process and involves many factors contributing to a scorecard against which an email is rated.


There is a general set of principles that the industry could apply that would make it a lot harder for spammers. Unfortunately many ISPs seem to the fairly lenient with their customers about how they set up their email services and are prepared to accept mail from poorly configured mail servers.


For example most spam comes from compromised Windows computers at residential or business premises.  When a host connects, ie when a mail is being set up for sending, it should perform a HELO with it’s fully qualified domain name (FQDN) as specified in RFCs (industry standards or standards in waiting).  The sender sometimes lies and presents a fake or incorrect HELO string, which can be used to judge the validity of the sending server. The string given at HELO time should have forward and reverse DNS that matches. 


Additionally, the reverse DNS of the sending host could be considered.  If there is no reverse DNS, it’s very unlikely that the mail is legitimate, and should be rejected.  If the reverse DNS makes it clear that the sending host is within a DSL pool, ie at the user premises at the end of an ADSL line rather than an ISP’s mail server, this could also be taken into consideration when it comes to scoring.


A genuine Reverse DNS might look like whereas a corresponding ADSL based DNS, (and therefore likely to be the source of spam), would be where the x’s represent the ip address.


Another technique in the fight against spam is to rate limit emails from users. In other words to apply a policy controlling a maximum number of emails an individual can send in a day.  A rate limit for a residential user might be 200 mails a day for example.  It is unlikely that the residential user will send more than 10 or 20 mails in a day.  A compromised machine may, however, send thousands in the same time period. The rate limit would prevent this. 


Customers with a genuine need to send more emails than the limit can easily be accommodated.  The limit is there to protect the user rather than to stop them sending emails. The spam being sent would normally be caught here anyway but this technique does at least minimize the load on spam filters.


The factors taken into consideration in spam scoring systems are not normally made public domain because to do so would just help spammers.