Categories
End User piracy

Virgin Media iTunes vouchers

Virgin Media iTunes vouchers on offer to new customers

Virgin Media making some interesting ground at the moment. It was not so long ago they were in the news for being subjected to more blocking orders re websites promoting copyright infringement. We saw a lot of whingeing on Twitter about this and the traffic to our “how to bypass the Virgin Media filters” post shot up again as it periodically does.

Today the news is about how Sky have been ordered to hand over customer data of people suspected of torrenting movies. Can’t be long before the ask the same of Virgin.

At the same time Virgin have just released an offer of a £50 iTunes voucher for new customers. This is sending out the right signals to end users. Don’t download. Buy.

I’m a Spotify man meself and not an Apple fanboi but that’s a different story.

Categories
Business End User piracy Regs security

Unknown Roku streaming stick on network, Virgin Media, DEAct & Spotify

Roku streaming stick

Interesting one this. A Roku streaming stick has to be plugged into your TV. It’s a bit like a Chromecast but different. One assumes that Joel knows that he hasn’t got a Roku streaming stick plugged into his TV. It must therefore be plugged into somebody’s else’s TV hanging off Joel’s network.

This does bring up the issue of wifi network security and the fact that other people may be making use of others’ broadband bandwidth. Who hasn’t had a look at their wifi settings when in a strange place to see if there are any open networks there. There often are, at least in public places.

This issue to me is further highlighted by the fact that we are coming up to the next general election. At this time 5 years ago the Digital Economy Act was rushed through just before the election. One of the many points landed on the deaf ears of government by protesting voices at the time was the very fact that it was difficult to prove who was actually doing the downloading/copyright infringement.  The rogue Roku of our introductory Tweet reinforces this. The DEAct has still not properly been enacted.

The issues that rights holders where highlighting in pushing for the Digital Economy Act have of course not gone away. I was talking yesterday to a 21 year old recent graduate about where he got his music from. He said it was all downloaded free of charge from online sources. This was despite the fact that his broadband provider Virgin Media has a block on access to specific sites associated with this activity. He said that that none of the people that he knew ie 18-25 demographic, paid for their music.

The blocking orders imposed by the courts on ISPs are not working. I did ask him about proxies and he was very familiar with the technology.  He was very familiar with proxies and had used them. However many were also blocked by ISPs but because sites such as Pirate Bay morph very quickly into similar sites and the kids know how to follow them they never have a problem accessing music.

I asked him what he thought about the fact that if nobody paid for them there would come a time where there would no longer be any record labels. His answer was that bands seem nowadays to make more out of their live shows than they do the out of selling music.

Whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of the situation, it is what it is. I have a Spotify Premium account. It’s a great service.  For the 21 year old concerned £10 a month is actually quite a lot of money. Rob, the trefor.net developer, is a little older at 24. Rob has Spotify Premium. Rob also pays £6 a month for Netflix and doesn’t see why at £10 the music service is more expensive. He has a point maybe.

Now I’m not here to defend anyone’s business model, have a go any ones business model or anything else to do with business models other than to say that business models do change. Clearly the music industry is in the middle of a period of change that they’ve been struggling to come to grips with. Whether this is to do with legacy deals, royalties payable or cost base who knows.

We do hear of bands withdrawing their music from Spotify because the live streaming service doesn’t pay enough for the privilege of carrying their stuff. One wonders what proportion of Spotify’s royalties actually go to the band as opposed to the record label. I took a look at SpotifyArtists but it was either too complicated for my small brain to get around or it just wasn’t obvious.

We ain’t going to solve an industry’s problems in this blog post but I can only say that the efforts and the money spent on fighting online copyright infringement don’t seem to be working, at least based on my own local evidence.

PS I’d never heard of the Roku Streaming Stick before I came across this tweet. I’d get one and do a review except I already have a Chromecast in the port the Roku would use and the kids use it a fair bit.

Categories
End User piracy

List of websites blocked by Virgin Media due to court orders

Taken from the Virgin Media website.

Found this and thought you might be interested. List of websites blocked by Virgin Media due to court orders. No comment really.  I don’t support copyright infringement. Easy to circumvent the blocks though. I wonder how effective they are. Potentially a lot of work for the ISP for little or no return.

Date of Sealed Court Order

Identity of parties who obtained the Order

Blocked Websites

27/04/2012

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

The Pirate Bay

05/07/2012

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Newzbin2

28/02/2013

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

KAT or Kickass Torrents websites

28/02/2013

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

H33t

28/02/2013

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

Fenopy

26/04/2013 and
19/07/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Movie2K
Download4All

01/07/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

EZTV

16/07/2013

The Football Association Premier League Limited

First Row Sports

08/10/2013

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

Abmp3
BeeMp3
Bomb-Mp3
eMp3World
Filecrop
FilesTube
Mp3Juices
Mp3lemon
Mp3Riad
Mp3skull
NewAlbumReleases
Rapidlibrary

08/10/2013

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

1337x
BitSnoop
ExtraTorrent
Monova
TorrentCrazy
TorrentDownloads
TorrentHound
Torrentreactor
Torrentz

30/10/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Primewire
Vodly
Watchfreemovies

30/10/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

YIFY-Torrents

30/10/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Project-Free TV (PFTV)

13/11/2013

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

SolarMovie
Tube+

18/02/2014

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Viooz website
Megashare website
zMovie website
Watch32 website

4/11/2014

Members of BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) Limited and of Phonographic Performance Limited

Bittorrent.am
BTDigg
Btloft
Bit Torrent Scene
Limetorrents
NowTorrents
Picktorrent
Seedpeer
Torlock
Torrentbit
Torrentdb
Torrentdownload
Torrentexpress
TorrentFunk
Torrentproject
TorrentRoom
Torrents
TorrentUs
Torrentz
Torrentzap
Vitorrent

19/11/2014

Members of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America Inc)

Watchseries.It
Stream TV
Watchseries-online
Cucirca
Movie25
Watchseries.to
Iwannawatch
Warez BB
Ice Films
Tehparadox
Heroturko
Scene Source
Rapid Moviez
Iwatchonline
Los Movies
Isohunt
Torrentz.pro
Torrentbutler
IP Torrents
Sumotorrent
Torrent Day
Torrenting
BitSoup
Torrent Bytes
Seventorrents
Torrents.fm
YourBittirrent
Tor Movies
Demonoid
Torrent.cd
Vertor
Rar BG

List of websites blocked by Virgin Media due to court orders. By introducing filtering functionality do you run the risk of accidentally blocking innocent websites? Quite possibly.

Categories
Apps End User fun stuff gadgets google H/W internet piracy

Yes, I Read Super Hero Comic Books

There are far worse things you can carry from childhood to adulthood than super hero comic books (and fewer that look better on your tablet screen).

For me, super hero comic books are just one of those things. I loved them as a child in single digits, continued to look in on them occasionally (and sometimes more often than that) through my teens, and plugged in harder than ever when Frank Miller and Alan Moore took them to the edge of serious dark pop art in my early 20s. I suppose I lost the thread somewhat as my 30s approached, though I am not sure if that was me or the simple fact that both Marvel and DC jettisoned creative storytelling during the 1990s in favor of marketing tricks designed to make every issue a collectible (not to forget to mention doubling the price of single issues…and then doubling it again). Regardless, moving to Paris — a land where reading comic books is less a geek tattoo and more proof of an enlightened mind — hooked me back in kinda-sorta, a side effect of my haunting the English language comic shops in and around the Rue Dante lying in wait for the latest can’t-miss graphic novels by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among many others. And I am sure that is where I would be today — hooked back in kinda-sorta — were it not for the darn things all going digital.

I don’t recall the first time I read a comic book on a computer, though it certainly predates my 2008 Mac re-entry. I do remember, though, how awkward it felt, viewing each scanned page one at a time before moving on to the next page using the → key or the Space bar. I also remember how annoying it was to have to hit the ← key repeatedly to go back to check some plot detail I skimmed past (annoyance that was multiplied by having to then hit the → key repeatedly to return to where I had left off). It all felt so trivial at the start, so “Take it or leave it.” And I left it. For a while, anyway, I left it.

Mostly, I left it. OK, every now and again, usually nipping at the heels of 3AM, I would download some issue in the Batman or Daredevil scheme of things and indulge (won’t say how or from where or whether it was a legal happenstance or not, no way). Just to stay up on the story, you know? Keeping up with the characters, these old friends of mine from childhood/teenagehood/young adulthood..whichever ‘hood I am inhabiting as I barrel towards 50.

And then My Missus brought home the iPad.

Like so many of us, I was tuned into the whispers and rumors of the iPad that were flying thick and furious during the back half of ‘09 and up through its introduction by Steve Jobs in late January of 2010. By the time of that announcement, though, I had driven an iPhone around the town a little bit without falling under its spell, and at first blush the iPad looked like nothing more than an iPhone on growth hormone. Interesting? Sure. Curious? You bet, because it was the birth of a new gadget category (and, naturally, because it was a new Apple product). Necessary? Uh…no. Not for anyone who had access to a computer and/or smartphone, anyway.

Not long after the iPad announcement I was able to put my hands and fingers on one of the first to make it to France. I can slide the apps pages back and forth. Smooth. I can touch an icon and open an app. Expected. It plays music and movies. Hmm. OK. Here you go, and thanks for letting me play with your new iPad. Enjoy. Oh…uh…can you make phone calls with it?

So getting back on track…a first-generation iPad made its way past over the Chez Kessel moat towards the end of ‘10, courtesy of My Missus, who as a publisher had been tasked with starting down the path of developing textbooks for the darn thing. Again, I held an iPad in my hands, and again I swiped the screen from side to side, touched app icons to watch the apps open, and clocked that it could be used to input music and video content. Then just as I was about to hand it back I had the thought, “I can read .pdf files on it, and book files in Amazon’s .mobi format…maybe…YES!”

Digital comic books, most often traded in .cbr (Comic Book Reader) and .cbz (Comic Book Zip), had proved to be a somewhat strange experience on a computer screen, but the iPad looked like it just might be a worthy delivery vehicle for suchness. And when a short google-bing turned up info on Cloudreaders, a free program able to read files in these two file formats (.pdf, too), I was on my way back to regular sustained web-slinging, shield-wielding, power-ringing, bataranging, billy-clubbing, hammer-throwing, repulsor-raying…OK, I’m OK. Can stop that now.

Now I had the means and the method, but what about the content? Well, as I stated earlier WITHOUT ADMITTING TO ANY INAPPROPRIATE ACTION OR BEHAVIOR, at some point I became aware of ways in which a person with an interest in doing so could easily obtain digital super hero comic books and at no cost. Speaking further about that person and their interest, it is a fact that pulp science fiction and comic books were among the very first pieces of “analogue” reading materials to be fan-digitized, to the point now where it is seriously difficult to think of content that cannot be had, ripe and ready for e-reading (and quickly, at that). Just to illustrate, do-do-that-goo(gle)goo(gle)-that-you-do-so-well on the following terms: “Complete Marvel Chronology” and look for links to Internet file-sharing destinations that I AM NOT TELLING YOU TO CLICK-THROUGH TO.

To close, I will share here that I really was (am!) one of those cliched kids whose now-priceless super hero comic book collection fell victim to tragic circumstances. In my case, “tragic” means a parental ultimatum issued: I could sell my comics at our “We’re Moving” yard sale or I could give them away, but there was no way they were being placed on the truck that would complete our summer 1976 family transfer from Chicago to Dallas. I unloaded hundreds of valuable pulpy friends* for $0.07 to $0.10 each on that August day, imagining not for a moment that I might be reunited with them someday down some dusty ol’ digital road (feel free to replace “digital road” with “information superhighway” if you must, because I just cannot bring myself to do so).

*Valuable to me, that is. Despite all of the ballyhoo I offer, my comic book collection wasn’t priceless…most of the issues were in tattered well-read condition, in fact, and fewer than five pre-dated 1970. I did, though, have issues 121, 122, and 129 of “The Amazing Spider-Man”, and you most assuredly did not.

Categories
Bad Stuff broadband End User fun stuff Legal Net piracy

Geo Restriction Means a Pirate’s Life for Me…

Accessing the whole of creation…what is available in my “region” of it, that is.

A regular contributor to trefor.net, we are as always pleased to present insight from James Blessing, the current Chair of the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) UK.

Once upon a time in the west, a man sat and contemplated the state of the world and the marvels that now existed upon his doorstep. With a simple gesture he could now access the whole of creation, every song that’s ever been sung, every work of art painted or love poem written in a moment of teenage angst. And the cats, don’t forget the cats…

Maybe that’s the future, it’s almost the now, but there is a problem that means that “every” gets dropped on the floor and is replaced with the slightly less poetic “everything that we could managed to get the licensing conditions approved for in your country right now, but maybe not next week” and that problems is lawyers.

When I started to think about this article I was going to focus on the benefits of the Internet and broadband, and then I tried to watch a clip from the late show…and then I changed tack. This isn’t the first time — and it won’t be the last — when content isn’t available in my “region”, where geo restriction has reared its head and made it so that if I want to watch content I have to either fire up a VPN to the “right region” and watch the content from there, or I will have to  head over to a friendly Pirate resource and unleash a p2p application. Do you want to know the worst bit about this? The content was being pushed to me by the DailyShow itself.

Sorry, but this video is unavailable from your location

And it gets worse. Wil Wheaton has written a blog about this very topic, in fact, as he’s seeing an ever increasing number of people using bittorrent to download his new show, and he is worried that if it continues the show won’t be renewed. It even pushed me into writing a quick email to Syfy UK (the network that produces the show in the US), but even they can’t get the show:

We instigated proceedings to acquire the UK rights, but a number of legal complications surrounding differences in UK and US clip clearance legislation, have unfortunately prevented us from doing so.

Now here is something that needs fixing. I have no “magic bullet” solution, as there are too many vested interests that won’t have a sensible conversation unless someone waves a stick at them and the politicians seem to be too scared of big media to unleash their sticks. There is an election next year, though, and it sure would be nice if one (or all) of the parties could commit to making an effort to resolve this issue…your local MP could be an excellent place to start!

Editorial note – check out our new site – BroadbandRating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
broadband Business piracy

Kiwi ISP Slingshot promotes piracy amongst punters

Kiwi ISP Slingshot promotes piracy amongst  Antipodean punters – broadband internet copyright infringement

New Zealand based ISP Slingshot is providing pre-VPNed connections so that New Zealanders can watch BBC iPlayer or subscribe to Netflix etc for free. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network in this case allows users to tunnel across the internet so that it looks as if they are located somewhere else. Effectively corporate promoted broadband internet copyright infringement.

BBC programmes are made available to UK license payers on computers tablets and smart phones via iPlayer streamed over the internet. iPlayer is blocked from streaming to non-UK IP addresses on the basis that they are unlikely to be genuine UK residents and thus will probably not have paid their license fee.

Netflix is a paid service but not available in every country around the globe. New Zealand based subscribers wanting to sign up have to lie about where they live. Slingshot provides the IP spoofing, presumably via a proxy based in the UK which can then also be used to access iPlayer.

From a Netflix perspective the issue is likely to be the fact that Netflix themselves may not have the licenses to stream certain content in markets other than those in which they operate.

As a UK BBC license payer I am of course outraged that I am effectively susbsidizing the TV watching of New Zealanders. I can’t see how they have time anyway. One assumes that most of them are out playing rugby  every night.

It’s interesting as this sort of thing is probably legal in NZ. Slingshot takes no responsibility for the fact that customers may have told Netflix porkies about where they live.  It’s the way of the world of course. The internet doesn’t care (much) for national borders, unless you live somewhere the government is trying to control what you access…

Anyway that’s it. Interesting broadband internet copyright infringement snippet methinks.

Editorial note – check out our new site – BroadbandRating.

Categories
broadband End User H/W internet media piracy

The Hump Day Five (9-July-2014)

In line with Broadband Week on trefor.net, the Hump Day Five either benefits, suffers or remains mind-numbingly inconsequential…you decide.

1

Need for Speed HubFourteen years have passed since I arranged my first broadband Internet service in Paris with France Telecom, and yet it is no effort whatsoever to recall that first setup. Is this because I have an elephant’s memory? Well, it could be (because I do), but it is far more likely due to the utter ridiculousness of the Alcatel Speed Touch USB ADSL modem that came with that subscription. I remember when the box arrived, modem and instructions inside, and opening it to find…an aqua-green jellyfish-serpent cyborg!

Holding that creature in my hands — and there really was no way to think of it in any other terms — I could not help but think, “Man, these French people really do have a different way of doing EVERYTHING!” By this point I had been in the country for nearly a year, so this was not an uncommon thought for me (more like one I tripped over at least once a day), and yet…well, I laughed because there really was no other possible reaction. Then I connected the darn thing up — one end of it kchinged via standard RJ11 cable into the T-plug ADSL filter that plugged into the phone jack, the other connected via USB cable to my Dell Inspiron 3700 — and got to work.

2

Not long ago my ISP in Paris (Bouygues) informed me that my 100 M/ps service was being upgraded to 200 M/ps at no additional charge, which would’ve been cause for celebration if the service had actually changed moved out of its actual speed range of 20-40 M/bs.

3

As an American male born in and partially raised in Chicago and later seasoned in New York, I am fortunate to have what is doubtless the top U.S. sports fan’s pedigree (offer arguments to the contary in the Comments if you must, but…well, come on, really?). I can more than hold my own in any beery statistics-laden conversation, am a rabid fan of both the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants, bask in having seen Michael Jordan ascend to the position of Greatest and Most Influential Team Sport Athlete of All Time (and also recall easily the days when Muhammed Ali held that position), am able to maintain the “High Road” in the face of any so-called sports fan from delusionally-skewed Texas or rant-before-they-think Philadelphia, and really don’t take it all that seriously while managing to be dead-serious about it all at the same time.

All of the above accepted as unshakeable truth, when I resolved to move to France back in 1999 I did so knwowing that the whole sports thing would be one of the hardest points of separation. The 5-8 hour time zone difference was something of a factor — though I am a scar-branded member night owl — but by far the biggest obstacle to maintaining my U.S. sports culture was to be the near-absolute lack of interest U.S. sports in France, and thus the complete lack of game-viewing options and opportunities. Horror! Still, in for a penny in for a pound, I let it all go…that is, until I became broadband-connected (see aqua-gree jellyfish-serpent cyborg item above in the first slot). First I got back baseball, via an Internet radio broadcast product called Gameday Audio (and baseball really is at its very best over the radio, anyway, as any true fan will tell you), and that just in time for the Chicago Cubs epic 2003 season which saw them…no, it’s just too painful. Broadband and broadband-connected technologies continued to improve, of course, and just a few years after I got baseball back via radio the floodgates opened with streaming video and — the coup de grace — the introduction of the Slingbox.

So for me, courtesy of a Slingbox I have set up in south Florida (thanks, Dad), broadband means the NFL on Sunday, the World Series, and all of the U.S. sports punditry (and idiocy) I can stand, all just an application click away. To paraphrase Warren Zevon in closing, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

4

Evey morning upon sitting down with AppleKory, one of the very first things I do is check eztv.it for torrents of the television programs I keep up with broadcast the night before. Of course, I won’t say here what I do when I find those torrents. Before broadband, though, this daily exercise was not even possible (though before bittorrent there was KaZaA…and Helllllloooo Skype!).

5

And with that “Helllllloooo Skype!”…

Like 98.6% of the readers looking over these pixels, I am bound to at least one telephone line. Anyone with one of my telephone numbers can pick up any telephone and call me, and if I am not blocking the incoming number for some reason the odds are good that I will pick up. Landline, cellular…I have both (two landlines, in fact). If I do pick up, maybe I’ll even talk for a short while, though with the dovetailing advent of widespread broadband and instant messaging my career as a prodigious telephone talker came to a shockingly fast halt. Why talk, after all, when I can type nearly as fast (and when I am so much more well-written than well-spoken)? And if I do want or need to have a verbal exchange, why use up one of my hands holding a phone when I can instead make the voice connect over my broadband connection using Skype, or Google Hangouts, or whatever-whichever VoIP-driven service I can push my utterances through (and, yes, receive utterances back from) at little or not cost and without having to leave the comfort of my keyboard?

Broadband, baby…it just works.

Categories
Bad Stuff End User piracy security

Website Blocking Report

See if your website is being blocked by ISPs using the Open Rights Group (ORG) website blocking Blocked resource.

Had an interesting tweet this morning from @boggits pointing me at blocked.org.uk, specifically this link. It shows, as is seen in the header screenshot, that three mobile networks: 3, O2 and EE have blocked users access to trefor.net.

My only prior personal experience of website blocking is when the Timico firewall blocked access to the blog. V funny you have to admit but at least I had direct control over that situation and was able to report it to myself myself, if you see what I mean. It was simply blocking access to blogs rather than having noted lots of dodgy content.

Blocking blogs as a blanket act is now a somewhat naive and outdated activity.

None of the mobile networks are blocking access to trefor.net at the moment, as far as I know. Maybe hundreds of people complained. Don’t argue – it could be what happened:). Typically mobile networks block dodgy sites as standard although you can call them to ask for the blocks to be removed:

“ring ring (x20) … hello this is your mobile operator customer service executive here … oh you want the blocks removed (snigger snigger) … certainly sir, all done for you … ”

I had to do it once because the SIM in my laptop was being blocked from accessing the online portal I was using to manage my VoIP account. Also there was a fun scenario where our private APN service was being used to apply policies to corporate network access and I’d deliberately type in porn addresses to show website blocking in action. Jared the IT must have had a few eyebrow raises at that one.

Website blocking by court order for the likes of Pirate Bay haven’t yet been applied as far as I am aware. Someone is sure to point out my mistake if I’m wrong there.

Anyway that’s it on the website blocking front for today. Gotta go to Laandan. Ciao amigos.

Categories
Bad Stuff broadband chromebook Cloud End User fun stuff gadgets google H/W piracy social networking UC

The Hump Day Five (25-June-2014)

On Wednesday Trefor.net’s Editor-in-Chief serves up The Hump Day Five, a weekly collection of short (and not so short) glimpses of the life in progress.

1

Bolting to meet My Missus for a Pay-For-Weekend-Well-Spent swim (the value of which we will immediately negate with a hearty follow-up Mexican lunch), and just realized that my mobile phone charge is at 9%. And being that this is my still-hanging-on iPhone 4 that ‘9’ might as we’ll be a ‘2’ as over the three-something years iPhoneKory has occupied my key right-pocket space I have seen it go from 7% to black so many times…

Is seven the new zero?

2

Despite promising myself I wouldn’t do so, I hung until 02h00 on Sunday/Monday watching the USA-Portugal World Cup match on ESPN via SlingBox, all the way to its bittersweet 95th minute. And in spite of a poor connection and a wildly unbalanced announcer team (Ian Darke = terrific, Taylor Twellman = dead awful), and although France has been my one-and-only International association football team since I moved to Paris in 1999*, I could not help but get caught up in it all. This was helped along in no small measure by social media, as both my Facebook and Twitter feeds were crackling with excitement and the wonderful over-the-top enthusiasm borne of sports spectatorship. Every breakaway, clearance, crossover, save (Tim Howards’s remarkable double-save!), and goal, by the USA or Portugal, had my feeds flying fast. But with that insane last play, with less than 25 ticks left in Injury Time…silence.

Yes, silence. The stunned heartbreak of that gorgeous equalizer — its sheer beauty cannot be denied — led to what may very well be the loudest imaginable Internet silence I’ve ever (not) heard. I have no doubt that goal was replaying on constant loop through the minds of a great many Americans on Monday, I am just as certain it was doing so in a soundproof vacuum.

*No true lover of the “Beautiful Game” will ever forget France’s unbelievablyf*ckingamazing come-from-behind last-gasp victory against Italy in the Euro2000 final, a game…no, an experience that galvanized this transplanted American’s association football fandom.

3

Readers going back three months — my long-term dyed-in-the-wool fans — will remember my enthusiasm for the latest Marvel Studios film, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, and perhaps even the near-pathological (pathetic) need I had to see the film after having to wait 10 days following its release to find my way to the cinema. (And no matter if you aren’t one of those readers, because my preface sentence sets the table for where I am heading, regardless.)

With all of the build-up, all of the hype, the fact that I so thoroughly enjoyed “Captain America: First Avenger” (I expected to hate that first film as the character is an all-time favorite of mine — since I started reading super hero comic books at the age of eight — and just figured there was no way Hollywood could get it right), the scads of terrific reviews I was so careful to scan-without-spoiling, you would think that disappointment was inevitable. Not only was this not the case, though, but the film so deeply captured my imagination that I soon after found myself pondering a newed look in on the comic book itself, figuring the source material for such a great flick might be worth my time.

In days of yore (and up until actually not all that long ago), it was a lot more difficult to find and read back issues of comic books than it is today. In fact, without admitting to anything here or anywhere, I will say that despite my predilection for riding near the cusp of the Internet for lo on 20+ years now, I still find myself utterly floored by the ready digital availability of comic books new and old (and extremely old). A minimal amount of surfing revealed that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was based on Ed Brubaker’s run on the “Captain America” title from 2004-2012, and a single google-bing turned up the following torrent:

Brubaker Cap Torrent

WTF?

4

In less than a year I will turn 50, a number on the age scale that I know is supposed to mean…something. A greater sense of dignity? Less prone to silly excitements? Better perspective on what was and is and will be? Conversations turning ever more towards health issues? Yadda yadda yadda. To all of that, I have to call “Bunk!”, because (1) in my mind’s eye I am not balding, overly thick in the middle, saddled with mild hearing loss, or in need of glasses to read, (2) I feel no less a thirst for life than I did 10 years ago…or 20, and (3) I still get all kinds of giddy in the lead up to putting my mitts on new techy toys…such as the new KoryChrome (Samsung Chromebook 2), which I look forward to running my fingers over for the first time at some point tomorrow!

5

Today is the first day of summer vacation for The Boy, and he is marking it in style, sitting on the couch in front of the TV while simultaneously playing both “Minecraft” and “SimCity 4” with friends on his MacBook, and also looking in on “Clash of Clans” via the family iPad. Now if only he could get his toes engaged in some kind of input manipulation My Missus and I would have one reasonably efficient and well-entertained child! The drums, perhaps?

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competitions End User events fun stuff H/W internet media Mobile mobile connectivity Net obsolescence piracy

Watching the Football

Yesterday a friend of mine in the UK asked me if I was “going to watch the football”, stating his own excitement over the soon-upon-us 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (the official label of the event, if the website is any indicator), and then asking “Have you converted a little? Soccer to you, I guess.”

Sigh.

I actually converted 20 years ago as a direct result of the excitement surrounding the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Of course, the football punditry out there will immediately assume that this American finally clued in that year due to the tournament being held in the U.S. for the first (and so far only) time, however that assumption would not only be disingenuous but wrong too. No, my sports imagination was finally captured by International football in 1994 not because I was swept up in host country hoopla, but because I was living/working/traveling Europe that year and found myself instead swept up in the remarkable national enthusiasm and spontaneous celebrations I encountered in England, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany as the tournament played out. Walking around Namur, Belgium, for instance, on a Tuesday night in early July, seeking out a priced-right-for-a-backpacker dinner, I was left aghast and delighted by the string of cars going by with horns a-blarin’, people hanging out the windows hooting and hollering and waving the Italian flag. The people of one country so unabashedly showing their colors, whooping it up on the streets of another country…what is this International sporting thing, anyway? And then five days later, being fortuitous enough to be in Germany to witness first-hand the crashing out of the Germany team1…I was hooked!

1994. The world turned its eyes and ears to the most commercial country in the world to watch “The Beautiful Game” on television and radio, and only on television and radio. And not a single URL in sight.

When my pal asked me whether I was going to tune into the 2014 FIFA World Cup my knee-jerk first thought was “Will it be available via the Internet?” to which my second thought instantly responded “Are you kidding? Of course.” Sure, I know the games will be broadcast on television, and I am relatively sure the one we have in the main room still works (The Boy watches it from time to time…I think), but it wasn’t until long after I answered my friend’s oh-so-rhetorical question that I even paid a thought to the idea of actually using the device to watch a match.

Football TV

Naturally, the picture the Chez Kessel television delivers is plenty sharp (as so many are these days, we are Triple Play kitted), and something prompted me long ago to wire the sound to come through our stereo speakers (think it was the 2006 FIFA World Cup that prompted that…friggin’ Marco Materazzi, sister-and-mother-insulting classless b*stard), so it isn’t a poor viewing option that had me defaulting to the Internet as my top-of-mind football entertainment resource. It’s just…well…you see…c’mon, you know…it is so much easier to simultaneously Web-out with ⌘+Tab (Alt+Tab for the Windows-fettered readers out there, and whatever-equivalent for UNIX deities and whichever others) than it is via some lap-bound or hand-bound device supplementary to the television.

Addiction. Always lurking, eminently humanizing, and available in oh-so-many forms.

1994. When to the layman “Internet” meant email and bulletin boards and nothing more. The World Wide Web was just starting to poke its head up, and “streaming” was a word relegated to tape data backups.

Without admitting to anything (and there will be no Q&A), I will cagily say here that a long time has passed since I last watched a television program at the time of broadcast (other, that is, than hypnotized channel-surfing-and-staring borne of jetlag). This is not to say that I am accomplishing the impossible, foregoing television entertainment in what is unquestionably a golden age for the medium (too many programs to list, but suffice it to say that I can speak “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, and this Millenium’s “Battlestar Galactica” reboot with anyone…buncha great UK-produced programs, too!). I do, though, manage to forego the starchy advertising that comes with all of the good TV meat on offer, and without littering my shelves and floorspace with DVD sets gathering dust.

Yes, packaged up nice-and-digital and stripped of its impurities, television for me has come to mean the Internet. And I find it a richer and far more satisfying experience for that, too.     ==>Twenty-three minutes into the sixth episode of Season Two of “The Americans” a reference is made to an earlier plot point that I skied past. Pause. ⌘+Tab to Google Chrome. Type “The Americans episodes ” into the Address/Search field. A quick click and read. ⌘+Tab back to VLC. Un-Pause. Good to go.<==     Of course, certain television events practically demand in-progress viewing — cannot-turn-away news events and, yes, some sporting events (though "condensed" recordings can now be acquired after the fact, such as three-plus hour American Football games boiled down to 58 minutes!) — but these have not kept that really big monitor in our flat's central room from looking more and more novel with each passing season. 1994. Televisions were definitively three-dimensional, whereas the scripted programming they delivered to the quivering and drooling masses was two-dimensional at its very best. Which inevitably brings me back to "watching the football". I imagine that as was the case the last time around, La Famille Kessel will ease slowly into 2014 FIFA World Cup action, eventually ramping up interest as the meaning of the games increases (and if France makes a move, as in '06, getting downright rabid about it all). And as that happens our somewhat dusty black Samsung-emblazoned flat-panel Living Room window into the Global Village (clichés flowing thick and furious here at the end) will no doubt once again find its purpose.   1Is there anyone who isn’t German that likes to see Germany win at anything? 🙂

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End User food and drink fun stuff gadgets H/W piracy

(Part of) A Day in the Life

08h14 Woke up (to a sweet small kiss from My Missus…thanks, honey). Got out of bed.
08h19 Open Chrome tab to eztv.it. Locate torrent for and click its Magnet link.
08h19 Confirm torrent download on Transmission.
08h15 Check Notifications on iPhoneKory (within arm’s reach at bedside, of course), to get up-to-speed with what happened during sleep time. Emails, text messages, instant messages, downloads completed, Facebook notifications, Twitter notifications, whether the Cubs beat the Cards.
08h18 Drag self from bed to desk chair and lay hands on keyboard and mouse.

When I took keys in hand this morning I thought I would capture a typical day from wake up to lie down. Not only did I think I could do that, but I thought I could make it compelling reading too, something able to easily transport my legion of readers (crowd? pack? coven?) to that special place where the words flow like wine. Belly-button gazing of the highest order and noblest cause, right?

08h20 Go back to eztv.it. Locate torrent for and click its Magnet link.
08h20 Confirm torrent download on Transmission.
08h21 Leave chair.
08h22 08h22 Get dressed, put on shoes, help make bed.

No. It just cannot be done. If getting a typical day down is already boring me into submission there can be little doubt that anyone who is not me is by this point scrambling madly for their own mouse and keyboard in a desperate attempt to avoid subtle but sure brain death. Or they are reaching for a noose or sharp razor.

Multi-tasking. All of us who these days spend any significant amount of time in front of a computer or tablet speak of it. In fact, nowadays the term rolls off our tongues so easily, one has to wonder just how many of the children born today are working on first-wording it for the delight and/or horror of their parents. I can do this while I am doing that and at the same time I have this going on and that will finish at right about the time this is just getting started and by the end of the day I will have done enough work (and played enough) for three people.

Alt+Tab, Alt+Tab, Alt+Tab, Alt+Tab, Alt+Tab (OSX users, substitute ⌘ for Alt)

So later that same morning I found myself working on this post for trefor.net, checking Facebook, finishing up an article edit and pushing it back across to the client, checking Facebook, writing a bit more into my post, integrating Kat Edmonson’s “Way Down Low” into my music library, direct messaging a friend on Twitter to set plans for meeting up in London next week, using Lightroom to touch up a few photos I took last weekend in my wife’s fantastic Normandy garden, configuring my just-arrived Ricoh Theta (more on that soon enough), slicing-and-dicing my way around airbnb.com in search of a one-night stay in Chartres for a visiting friend, tweaking my post a little more, tagging myself in a Facebook photo, chasing a an alert for a Rolleiflex 2.8F that recently came up for sale on eBay, and googling (via Bing.com) reviews on a new Egyptian restaurant in the neighborhood (a boy’s gotta eat).

Anyone out there want to hear about my afternoon?

Life Day Task

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broadband Engineer engineering piracy

Broadband traffic management – a thing of the past? #UKNOF28

Broadband traffic management, once an essential tool in an ISPs toolkit is beinsed less and less as the cost of bandwidth decreases.

pirate flagBroadband traffic management seems to have been ditched some time ago by the big ISPs. I may be behind the times here. Had a conversation with a couple of senior tech guys at major UK ISPs who told me they had dropped traffic management up to two years ago.

Traffic management at an ISP is basically where the network employs Deep Packet Inspection kit to examine the type of traffic. Bandwidth hogging protocols such as P2P would be throttled at peak times. They did this to save on costs and to improve the experience for other users. A peer to peer protocol will use all the available bandwidth on a broadband line. It only takes a few users to clog up the backhaul of an ISP.

When DPI was originally deployed P2P traffic represented up to 65% of network traffic. DPI equipment was expensive, didn’t scale well and at the higher end of ISP size never provided a return on investment.

Now with the DPI kit switched off the “problem” P2P traffic remains at the same level in real terms but now represents only 4% of total traffic, the majority being video services such as Netflix and YouTube (I assume). One ISP told me that when they switched off traffic management they saw a little blip in traffic volume but it was negligible in the great scheme of things.

This is quite interesting when considered in relation to the “piracy” debate. Although copyright infringing downloads may well be at the same level of a few years ago is it valid to say that people are increasingly resorting to the use of legal/paid for services instead? If so it makes the whole Digital Economy Act farce even more farcial.

Loads of DEAct related posts here if you want to take a look.

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Business net neutrality ofcom piracy Regs

The Copyright Enforcement Enigma

When I was on a panel at the Eight Parliament and Internet Conference last year, I was approached afterwards by an academic – Monica Horten. We had a chat about a few things regulatory (notably ITSPA’s work in the field of Net Neutrality) and she mentioned she had written a book on copyright, called the Copyright Enforcement Enigma.

I eventually sourced a copy and then eventually read it (it took a while as there were quite a few on my bookcase I hadn’t read that had military hardware on the cover, you see). It’s quite an excellent romp through the beginnings of copyright, from printing presses and State censorship all the way through to recent European pronouncements on piracy and counteracting it, along with comparing and contrasting different national approaches to intellectual property.

I’ve always found that the view on copyright, intellectual property and piracy  generally correlates strongly with political views. These range from “you can’t own an idea” on one end of the scale through to basic property and contract rights saying you should have the right to protect and exploit your creations. Obviously the debate around piracy tracks the political leanings with the preferred sanction often generally correlating with that political niche’s view on criminal sanctions and it is good to read a balanced and non-partisan approach to the topic; if it raises its head again I would suggest this book as a good refresher.

In any event, the primary legislation focusing on this issue today in the UK is the Digital Economy Act 2010, which covers the obligations on Internet Service Providers to restrict access of (or even disconnect) some users or some content depending on the will of the court at the time in the face of an army of barristers from various large entertainment companies. BT and TalkTalk sought a judicial review of the legislation as it had been accelerated through Parliament as a general election had been called, but lost. Then lost the Appeal. So there we have it, Ofcom are now front and centre in managing a lot of this stuff.

There’s one out though; if you are an Internet Service Provider with less than 400,000 subscribers, as it stands, you are not in scope for much of the legislation. I am surprised that so far this gaping loophole has not been exploited; after all, surely you could charge a substantial premium for Napster Broadband? A high bandwidth service that guarantees it will never exceed 399,999 subscribers? I am sure the regulator would soon move to close the loophole, but that takes time. And on that note, I am off to find some seed capital 😉

Google+

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End User nuisance calls and messages piracy

How to complain about nuisance calls and messages

pirate flagThe blog is getting a lot of visits to posts about nuisance calls and messages. There are clearly a lot of pests out there.

If you suffer from this you can report incidents to the Information Commissioner’s Office at this site here.

Feel free to leave a comment with any progress or otherwise.

Particularly active numbers are 08000641087 (post here) and 01616626518 (post here)

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bitcoin Business online safety piracy

Bitcoin bet or bubble bursting?

two_pence Mt Gox is dead. Apparently. More than 750,000 Bitcoins missing, so they say.  Rumour mill an’ all.

Careless that, or criminal. Either way someone has lost a lot of Bitcoin (Mt Gox has previous – see here from 2011).

Now could be a good time to invest in Bitcoin. The price has dropped considerably. Mind you anytime could be a bad time to invest in Bitcoin, unless you make a living being successful at roulette.

I’m thinking of buying one. Just the one. Just so’s I can feel part of the action. It won’t be a big investment. I once knew a bookie in my local pub. He had a pitch at Market Rasen races and at one race meet I put a two pound bet on a horse with him. He accused me of trying to manipulate the odds with heavy betting 🙂

bitcoin market priceCurrent price is £295 or so (it was earlier this pm – changed already by the time of publication – gotta move faster – see preev.com). That’s a new washing machine, or simlar. Mrs Davies would say that a new washing machine would be more useful and not depreciate quite as quickly as Bitcoin has over the last 24 hours.

Wives just don’t understand do they?

I’d like to bet that many of the readers of this blog are multi-millionaires thanks to Bitcoin and  here’s me still trying to hack out a living writing blog posts. It could be the answer.

Mind you I do occasionally buy a lottery ticket and I honestly can’t remember the last time I got a single number right. I think there is something going on there. Must be.

I’ll keep you posted.

Mt Gox is dead. Long live Mt Gox.

PS I realise I’m taking a risk publishing a picture of a two pence piece but I think it is in the public interest to do so. The two pence photographed is worth two pence and will be used as part of a transaction to buy something – box of matches1 etc. It may not be possible to do this with a bitcoin.

1 can you actually buy anything for two pence anymore?

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End User piracy

Stolen Oyster Card frozen

pirate flagHad my Oyster card stolen yesterday. No idea how. Might have dropped it but I don’t know. I only found out last night. Tried logging online but couldn’t get in to the account and because it used an old timico email address I couldn’t do a reset.

This morning I tried again and hey presto got the username and password combo right. I’ve changed both. The fact that I could guess the password was no good.

I noted that the b”£$%^d who stole the card had used around ten quid’s worth of credit. Fortunately there is no means for them to automatically top up the card and I’ve locked it now anyway.

I could get the stolen credit reimbursed but

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End User online safety piracy

Indian call centre scammers need to up voice quality

pirate flagYou see before you a partially disappointed man. Not very disappointed. Just partially so.

I’m waiting in this morning so that there is someone in the house when two parcels get redelivered. The phone rang. It was an Indian call centre scammer.

I was only recently pontificating on the fact that I didn’t seem to have had many scam calls of late. This in particular is disappointing because the post about the 08000641087 scam number is amongst the most popular on this blog. Lots of annoyed folk out there.

So the phone rang and I was instantly excited.

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End User piracy

LBM Direct Marketing up to their antics again – 08000641087

pirate flagFunny what data you can gather from search results. Google, GCHQ et al know everything. I can only tell you that LBM Direct Marketing must have a campaign going again.

I know this because visitor numbers to the blog post what I wrote on their pesky telemarketing activities have shot up. 883 visits in the last few days. My own little efforts at big data eh? (or words to that effect). The number of people searching for that term (08000641087) must be a small fraction of those who have been called.

I wonder who they are working for this time. Pests.

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End User piracy

Pirate Bay blocking order lifted in Netherlands

pirate flagAn appeal court in the Netherlands has lifted the court order instructing ISPs to block access to the Pirate Bay website. Apparently the level of filesharing traffic has risen since the ban which was seen to be totally ineffective.

This should come as no surprise. In fact on this occasion I don’t mind telling you I told you it wouldn’t work. It would be quite interesting to see how the Pirate Bay usage has changed since our own court orders were put in place here in the UK.

If anyone has the data let us have a link.

ciao.

Categories
Business internet online safety piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

An evening with Julian Huppert MP – Internet Hero #fundraiser

julian_huppert_mpI’m not in the least bit political. If I get involved on the periphery of Parliamentary discussions and debate it is because I occasionally see MPs trying to implement legislation that doesn’t make sense in our modern internet based world. This is often because MPs have so much information thrown t them that they have to resort to keeping ideas simple so that they can get their brain around them.

Unfortunately when it comes to legislation that touches the internet, and by default touches those of us whose livelihood depends in one way or another (an increasingly large cohort of people) on the internet, the simplistic view often taken by MPs is often at odds with the practical workings of internet technologies.

We end up spending a lot of time and money fending off such legislation, more often than not pretty successfully but usually after great effort and pain. This is because it takes an age for people (MPs) who because of the practicalities of their job have to look at complex issues very simplistically.

I’m all for keeping things simple (stupid) but we also need people in our Parliament who can get their brain around the complexities associated with the internet. What to the layman is a simple network that “just works” is in reality a hugely complex ecosystem. In fact the complex issues faced by MPs often extend to non-technical considerations such as the privacy of the individual In reality it is difficult to separate the technical issues from the non technical as they feed off each other.

One of the few Members of Parliament who does understand these issues is Dr Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge. His background is research science at Cambridge University. Julian has taken a very active participation in internet and technology related debates in the House of Commons and was one of the leading opponents of the Digital Economy Act that was (outrageously in many people’s view) rushed through in the dying days of the last Labour government.

Because of his work supporting the internet industry, last summer Julian was awarded the Internet Hero Award at the annual ISP Association Awards dinner. Since then he served on the Parliamentary Select Committee looking at the Draft Data Communications Bill (Snooper’s Charter) and was highly influential in the decision making that lead to the Bill being killed it off for this Parliament.

We need to keep MPs like Julian in the House of Commons. He is good for the internet. He understands the issues. MPs need to raise a lot of cash to pay for their election campaign. I assume the next election will be in 2015 but much will go on between now and then.

I have agreed to help Julian by organising a fundraising dinner on his behalf. He is a Liberal Democrat but this is not a party political issue. In fact this is a technology blog not a political blog.

Whatever your political beliefs, if you work in a business, or maybe it is your business, that makes its living from the internet it is in your interest to support Julian.

So this is an invitation to you to a Fundraising Dinner entitled “An  Evening with Julian Huppert – Internet Hero”. This dinner, on Tuesday 25th February,  is a sit down job at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall – a totally high class environment if you’ve never been.

At £300 a head this isn’t a cheap do but we have to remember that the idea is to help raise funds to get Julian re-elected. We won’t be stinting on the quality of the food and drink in any case.

You will be in the company of 49 other influential people from the internet industry so it will also be a great night for networking. We shouldn’t forget that it will also be an opportunity to share your thoughts with Julian.

Click here to find out more or drop me a line if you want to talk about it.

That’s all for now. Please help if you can.

Categories
End User piracy

Virgin media filter block post resurgence in popularity

Last year following the court order imposed on the large consumer ISPs requiring them to “block” access to Pirate Bay I wrote a blog post outlining how to bypass the Virgin Media filters and discussing the futility of the court order. I also recently added that the same methods were usable to bypass the BT, Sky and TalkTalk filters.

This week we have seen another twenty or so more domains added to the list of proscribed sites. Yesterday the daily visitor rate doubled to over 1,500 uniques and the trend is continuing today. This blog is one of tens of thousands of sites telling you how to bypass these filters so the total number of people looking for the information must be very large.

I’m not condoning copyright infringement – I’ve written an ebook myself and would be dismayed to think that people would not want to recompense me for my hard work. I am however saying that the blocking order is a waste of time.

Ciao bebe…

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End User piracy

TV detector vans – the truth

Was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on my way to the shops this lunchtime. They were talking about TV detector vans and were there really such things.
Someone came on an said that he used to drive one but that there was no equipment inside, or at least nothing switched on. The TV license people used to use them to scare people into buying a license and they would have a team of people blitz an area checking on addresses that had not been registered as having a license.

We didn’t have a TV until my oldest son Tom was 13 years old and I do recall a knock on the door once from someone who declared himself to be working for the licensing people. I told him we didn’t have a TV and he went away. Simple as that. Check out my other TV license story (previous story about TV license).

Wind the clock forward a few years and one question I have been asked recently is whether you need a TV license to watch TV on tinterweb.

The answer is yes if you’re talking live TV.  However I am not aware that anyone has ever been done for not having a license whilst watching TV in this way.

There are probably two factors in play here. Most people do have a TV license and therefore are already covered. For those rebs that don’t have a license then it isn’t an easy thing to track you down.

The music industry, which is through the Digital Economy Act, going to be sending letters to people it believe has been infringing copyright (ie downloading stuff without paying) tracks down the alleged miscreants from the IP address being used for the torrent. Prior to the DEA it needed a court order to obtain the name and address of the subscriber.

The Licencing Authority can probably source similar information in a similar way from the BBC. It would need separate court orders for Sky, Virgin et al but would find it very difficult to deal with any overseas entity, of which there are many. The effort would have questionable value remembering that the LA doesn’t know who already has a licence and who doesn’t in these circumstances.

This will be an interesting situation to follow as more and more people rely solely on online sources for their media fix.

Tapped and dictated into my SGS4 whilst the boys see if my hard drive really is dead!

Categories
End User online safety piracy scams

Gone phishing

pirate flagHad a wonderful little phishing attempt over the weekend that I feel compelled to share with you. I wonder how many people got this one and what its success rate will be. I imagine these guys are running a business with a dashboard and KPIs. There must presumably be a ROI for them to bother.

They do need a graduate entry scheme though or to employ some former civil servants to get the lingo right because the construction of the email isn’t totally convincing. Did anyone else get this one? I would say “bless em” if they weren’t such thieving [email protected]$%@&^%.

DIRECT GOV

LOCAL OFFICE No. 3819

TAX CREDIT OFFICER: Rodney Williams

COUNCIL TAX REFUND ID NUMBER: 983258661

REFUND AMOUNT: 324.39 GBP

Dear Applicant,

Unless expressly authorised by us, any further dissemination or distribution of this email or its attachments is prohibited.

I am sending this email to announce: After the last annual calculation of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of 274.39 GBP

The dispute follows miscalculations of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) liabilities last year, which DIRECT GOV originally also denied when reported in this space but later admitted affected millions of people. You can now reclaim your over paid tax now by complete the tax return form attached to this message.

After completing the form, please submit the form by clicking the SUBMIT button on form and allow us 5-9 business days in order to process it.

Our head office address can be found on our web site at DIRECT GOV

Rodney Williams

DIRECT GOV Credit Office

Preston

COUNCIL TAX REFUND ID: UK983258661-HMRC

DIRECT GOV denies profiting from tax refund delays which leading accountants claim are becoming more widespread and make taxpayers wait months to get back what they are due.

Copyright 2013, DIRECT GOV UK All rights reserved.

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End User online safety piracy

Credit card – phone line scam from a friend of my sisters on Facebook

pirate_flag_thumbCredit card-phone line scam from a friend of my sisters on Facebook. I’ve just reposted it verbatim as it says everything it needs to say. It does make you wonder what on earth can be done to stop these. If everyone had an intelligent line that allowed you to block number withheld calls that might go some way towards sorting it though scammers would just start using a fake CLI.

An alternative might be to have a voice rec asking you who you wanted to talk to. Anything other than Tref, Anne etc would just go straight to voicemail. Schools should cover this sort of thing in lessons. It goes along with safe internet use.

Anyway the Facebook post is repeated below – the author stated that she wanted it sharing:

 

“Received a phone call from BT, informing me that he was disconnecting me because of an unpaid bill. He demanded payment immediately of £31.00 or it would be £ 118.00 to re-connect at a later date. The guy wasn’t even fazed when I told him I was with Virgin Media, allegedly VM have to pay BT a percentage for line rental! I asked the guy’s name – he gave me the very ‘English’ John Peacock with a very ‘African’ accent – & phone number -0800 0800 152.

Obviously the fellow realized I didn’t believe his story, so offered to demonstrate that he was from BT. I asked how & he told me to hang up & try phoning someone – he would disconnect my phone to prevent this. AND HE DID !! My phone was dead – no engaged tone, nothing – until he phoned me again.

Very pleased with himself, he asked if that was enough proof that he was with BT. I asked how the payment was to be made & he said credit card, there & then. I said that I didn’t know how he’d done it, but I had absolutely no intention of paying him, I didn’t believe his name or that he worked for BT.

He hung up. I dialed 1471 – number withheld I phoned his fictitious 0800 number – not recognized. So I phoned the police to let them know. I wasn’t the first! It’s only just started apparently, but it is escalating. Their advice was to let as many people as possible know of this scam.

The fact that the phone does go off would probably convince some people it’s real, so please make as many friends & family aware of this. How is it done? This is good but not that clever. He gave the wrong number – it should have been 0800 800 152 which takes you through to BT Business.

The cutting off of the line is very simple, he stays on the line with the mute button on and you can’t dial out – but he can hear you trying. (This is because the person who initiates a call is the one to terminate it). When you stop trying he cuts off and immediately calls back. You could almost be convinced!

The sad thing is that it is so simple that it will certainly fool many. By the way this is not about getting the cash as this would not get past merchant services – it is all about getting the credit card details which include the security number, to be used for larger purchases.”

The end – for now…

Categories
End User nuisance calls and messages piracy

08452865284 nuisance call

Just in an ITSPA council meeting and rejected a call from 08452865284. This was a bit of a result as a quick google shows people complaining about answering a call from that number and getting a recorded message.

You may have noticed me posting more stuff like this. I’m going to do it every time I get a spam call for a while as a record for how much I get. Otherwise we have no data on the subject. Lets see how it goes.

Categories
Business online safety piracy

School connectivity and filtering – google translate

Trefor Davies thumbnail pictureDropped the kids off at school today. I don’t normally do it. It’s out of my way and gets in the way of my early morning swimming regime. It’s the last GCSE so it was only fair that the run in would be comfortable. Let the lad get in the zone.

I mentioned that last night I had sent their headmaster an email. This of course naturally sets off the alarms bells but I explained that I am planning a talk on connectivity trends to a room full of headmasters and school IT staff and thought it would be a good idea to chat to a horse’s mouth. Get my drift.

The car heaved a sigh of relief and someone mentioned the fact that the school had added Google translate to their list of blocked sites. The kids were somewhat puzzled at this and thought it might be to stop them cheating with their French translation homework.

I then explained that it was almost certainly because Google translate could act as a proxy to bypass their school filter. They didn’t know this. Oops. It was also mentioned that it took the school 5 days to realise that FIFA13 was out and to block that.

It goes to show that the whole blocking and filtering game is one of a constant war of attrition. It’s too late for the kids to use Google translate now, not that I want to encourage such things (get yer dictionary out). However you can bet your booties that someone in school will have another way around it, expellable offence or not.

To finish off on a different note a school’s connectivity need is changing. These days pupils need to use video conferencing suites to access lessons given by specialist teachers on other sites, in some schools sixth formers get given iPads for use in lessons and at breaks etc etc. These all add up to the need for more bandwidth, just like it is at home and in the office. Gimme a bell. I can help;)

Categories
Business Cloud internet online safety piracy scams

Should we regulate the cloud?

Today I am at a CIO event in London discussing the topic “Too important to be regulated and too important to be left alone” (Forbes) – Should we regulate the cloud?

You could extend this question to encompass the whole internet. Really there is no difference between the internet and the cloud.

When you think about it, as the whole world drags its living and breathing self into the cloud, it is natural that we should expect laws that exist on terra firma to apply to the cloud. There is no reason why they should not. What is illegal on earth should also be illegal in the heavens. The notion of being robbed or assaulted is just as unattractive in cyberspace as it is in the high street.

It is reasonable therefore that regulations should apply.

Categories
End User piracy surveillance & privacy

Golden Eye – not just another James Bond villain

You will no doubt remember the case of evil villain ACS Law where consumers were bullied into stumping up cash with the threat of being taken to court for online copyright infringement. Victims often had no idea of the legality of what ACS Law was doing or where the burden of proof lay and often found it easier to just pay up rather than fight their case in court.

The spectre of ACS Law has been released from its high security bottle, has morphed into a new disguise and is once more on the prowl for hapless victims. The name of this new ghoul is Golden Eye. Just hearing that name should make you shudder.

Golden Eye are trying, through the courts, to compel Telefonica UK  to release personal information about O2 customers so that they can spam them with speculative claims about copyright infringement and perhaps grab a  quick settlement fee. Golden Eye are not the copyright owners, but rather hold an ‘enforcement-only’ license with no specific mandate from the 12 other porn studios who they act for.

The Open Rights Group is trying to intervene on behalf of O2 customers. This isn’t about stopping copyright owners pursuing their legal rights although in my mind it is not easy to provide a high enough standard of evidence to prove guilt here. It’s about privacy. The case is currently at the appeal stage because the judge initially did not sanction the handing over of some of the data saying:

“that would be tantamount to the court sanctioning the sale of the intended Defendants’ privacy and data protection rights to the highest bidder. Accordingly, in my judgment, to make such an order would not proportionately and fairly balance the interests of the Other Claimants with the Intended Defendents’ interests.”

Golden Eye apparently takes around 75% of the revenues collected.

There is more detail on the ORG website. I guess the real point of this post is to encourage you you help ORG with their legal costs in pursuing this case by making a donation. In particular if you are an ISP it is in your interest to stop this kind of company coming along and worrying your customers on a speculative basis.

I have made a donation on behalf of Timico and encourage you to follow suit. There is a “donate”  button on the ORG site and I repeat the link here.

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End User piracy

Alternative ways of bypassing the Virgin Media filter to access Pirate Bay – Google Translate

google translate can be used to bypass Virgin Media web filters to access Pirate BaySince publishing the original post on this subject that described how to access Pirate Bay using free proxy servers I’ve had a few people point out other ways. Some were left as comments on the post itself. Some came in by email.

The most innovative is where Google Translate service is used as a proxy server. Take a look at this link:

That page is the normal Pirate Bay running though the Google translate servers, translating any African on the page to English. Obviously there is only English on the page so it displays like normal.  Apparently, according to “umm hmm” from the TheSlyrateBay.com who fed me the info, this is not a preferred method as it can sometimes be slow and a bit clunky if the Google servers are experiencing high traffic (fwiw).

Many sites have been also set up as proxies to provide easy filter bypass to get to Pirate Bay – some have been pointed out in the comment stream of my earlier post – others will be easily findable online if you look – it won’t be hard.

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gadgets online safety piracy Regs

How to bypass the Virgin Media web filter to access Pirate Bay

How to bypass the Virgin Media web filter to access Pirate Bay

Before you start reading this post, and many thousands have, take a look at Broadbandrating – if you are looking to move ISP then the site will help you choose which one to go for.

Now the post:

Industry colleague Gary Hough left a comment on my blog post on Pirate Bay the other day. He has now written a guest post (tagged on to the end of this one) outlining how easy it is to bypass web filters to access “blocked” sites. I asked myself whether this was a responsible thing to publish. After all it flies in the face of the process of Law and Order and I am not in favour of promoting unlawful activity.

However the process described below is such common knowledge1 and there are so many sites out there providing proxy services used by millions of people that I feel that the story needs to be told in an environment/on a vehicle that promotes sensible discussion of the issue. We certainly need those in places of power to have the opportunity to read about and properly understand the problem.

The issue is not just Pirate Bay or any other site promoting the music downloads that have engendered such emotion within the Rights Holder industries. The issue is the fact that the same process can be used to bypass any web filter. This means that were we to enforce blocking of other types of website – pornography, for example, or sites promoting racial hatred or extreme political views the blocks would be ineffective.

Moreover in encouraging the move underground,