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* Posts by AlfieUK

26 posts • joined 19 Feb 2008

BT's giant new faster broadband boxes blocked

AlfieUK

Wrong area...

Should have used neighbouring borough Islington, particularly Highbury. Our TV/mobile reception is so bad and some areas are conservation (no sat dishes) so some streets only have cable which already means 2 or more cable cabinets (3 on my street) at the top of the street, and during the introduction of Islington's '20 mph zones everywhere' they widened the street ends for ped crossing space leaving loads of space for a BT behemoth box alongside the hot and sometimes noisy cable cabinets.

Supposedly the tall cabinets have a smaller footprint than the older grey VM cable cabinets which are longer than the old green BT cabinets, so looks like they went up instead of across. Should be easy to remedy in the final model.

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FTC settles with scareware scammers on reduced terms

AlfieUK
Unhappy

Blast!

Having removed countless counterfeit 'you have a virus, pay us to remove it' scams from friend's PCs I would have hoped that they would have the book thrown at them for pure and simple theft, i.e. 'obtaining money by deception'.

I believe that in the US this can be an average 12 month prison sentence, usually deferred (with a fine of full earnings from the scam), but would at least make other scammers cautious about such activities.

Another [FAIL] for our overlords protecting the unwary from online scammers :(

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Mobile directory made legal threats to get personal details

AlfieUK

Legislation?

As far as I am aware the 2003 DQ 'liberalisation' only covered land line (technically, all numbers previously offered through BT DQ which did not include non-geo/mobile) numbers, so if that is the legislation that they attempted to threaten the Mobile Operators with then I'm not surprised that they got told to f-off.

If I remember rightly, post-liberalisation, BT adopted a 4-tier system which most of the larger TelCos also use, these are;

DE (Directory Entry, DQ and Phone Book/web listing)

DQR (DQ Only, Provider marketing calls)

XDNC (Ex-Directory no calls, except Provider marketing calls)

NQR (No listing at all, no own Provider calls)

DE, DQR and XDNC entries are obliged to be passed on to 3rd party DQ services, NQR are not. DQ services are legally obliged to honour the tier, so even though XDNC is passed to other services, they are only entitled to tell callers that the number is not listed, they cannot blindly connect a call either.

It's worth double-checking with your provider what tiers they offer and what you're currently classified as.

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Microsoft to bomb Europe with IE-free Windows 7

AlfieUK

Several reponses...

Firstly, the browser itself is not responsible for downloading, it is a UI for web access. The underlying libraries are part of Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) and I don't see how MS can remove those without destroying the functionality of all browsers.

For example, you can uninstall IE on an XP machine and still access Microsoft Update through 'rundll32.exe muweb.dll,LaunchMUSite' (although the Window created is still branded IE which could be removed and make it look like any other Windows Explorer window).

A similar method can be used to provide links to other browsers so the user can click on a link and it will download and install that browser, or browser providers are going to have to start supplying install discs again (which is an additional cost to them).

Secondly, this ruling also doesn't look like it will stop MS pushing new versions of IE out via Microsoft Update, for instance IE8 is currently being auto-selected as a high-priority update in MU. As I use an older version for compatibility testing I don't like it trying to force an upgrade on me.

@Richard Shearn: Similarly, Apple are still pushing out Quicktime and Bonjour as required components with iTunes updates on the PC (having to install then disable all Apple's un-needed software each update is a pain), and occasionally sneak Safari in to be 'updated' even if it isn't already present on the system. On the Mac they are all pre-installed.

Apple have been criticised for this but are allowed to get away with it as they are not considered a monopoly.

Web page designers NOT coding around IEs issues would have helped kill of IE in the past, but not having any browser in a new install is just going to frustrate the PC-illiterate, and they'll likely hit the big 'get IE' button on their desktop first thing.

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Data watchdog clears mobile phone directory

AlfieUK
Unhappy

Harvesting?

I put my name in for my current borough in London (one of the smallest at ~20,000 people) and it said there were multiple people with that name and that I'd have to provide a more complete address to get a match. Possible, as I've lived at 3 different addresses within this borough, although I've never given my mobile number to any company that I've dealt with except the TPS.

I then tried the small out-of-London town that I lived in briefly a few years back, and it said that there were multiple matches there as well. This was a town of less than ~13,000 people, my surname was unique according to the local phone book at the time, let alone my first name-surname combo, and I only lived at one address there (again, I never use my mobile number to deal with companies).

So now I'm wondering if this 'we have several matches, please give us more info' is another form of slyly harvesting info? (I know IF it is legit they would need more info to ensure that they remove the right data, but I never give my mobile details to any company I deal with, I can probably count on both hands the number of people that I have given my number to).

I am almost paranoid about giving any information to a company that I deal with as I know how easy it is for that info to leak out, even those that aren't actively selling it on, and give them the bare minimum to provide the service that I want.

I certainly don't want to give enough unique information to an opt-out service to opt-out as the ICO has shown that it won't protect us if they do accidentally leak the info...so what next?

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Junk email volumes hit high

AlfieUK
Unhappy

Not surprised

I'm not surprised at spam reaching such volumes, I fixed a PC not long ago that had been compromised and was spewing 000's of mails an hour non-stop without the ISP taking any action.

I'd like to see more widespread adoption of Sender Policy Framework-like solutions, where any server receiving the mail can check if the sender is legitimately allowed to use the sender HELO/Return path and dumps any mail that fails.

This would a) block spam at the first non-compromised hop, b) easily identify compromised mailers/relays to be cleaned up/blacklisted, c) stop backscatter to spoofed domains (which is the bulk of my junk mail as a domain 'owner').

Sadly, many ISPs will continbue to do little about compromised users on their network, although I'm surprised that they haven't jumped on the micro-payments solution...seems like an idea they'd love.

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BitTorrent crackdown cops fail to pay music copyright fees

AlfieUK

MCPS-PRS are bottom-feeders

PRS have been chasing small businesses in my local area lately and can be nastily persistent in demanding you pay up, threatening legal action if you refuse. In my view their tactics are a form of intimidation and similar to MPAA/RIAA in nature.

The implication from the outset when dealing with them is that you are breaking the law, that they have full government backing to pursue you, and the more hassle you give them in getting money out of you the more it will cost as they may need to send an inspector round, they may need to investigate previous years infringement, etc, right up to a potential court prosecution.

I saw the Out-Law coverage on the Kwik Fit case from last year, and the charity forced to pay up so kids could sing carols for charity, and knew they were bad news then. Having had them on the phone a few times at work I expect even more aggro in future, they just don't want to give up, even told me our hold music on the phone was a breach, except it's copyright of the phone manufacturer.

I could understand shops playing music for customers having to pay, although I thought that was already covered by PPL, but they want to be paid for any form of music played outside the home; from radio in your lunch break including internet radio, news or talk radio, car radio in a work vehicle which seats more than 1, all the way to hold music on a fricking phone! whether it's the public or employees hearing it.

As others said, the radio stations pay an amount based upon potential listeners in their coverage area to broadcast it, but they want a 2nd/3rd/4th bite at the pie...scum.

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How to stop worrying and enjoy paying for incoming calls

AlfieUK

@David Webb & @ Michael

David, that is how it works at the moment, caller pays for the whole cost of getting the call to the called party (originating + transit + terminating)...in most cases all of these costs are on a per minute basis so you don't have a huge set-up fee up front.

This situation as you say is primarily being driven by the '3' discussion, they want to get into the mobe market without shelling out loads on their own network up front, and they are moaning to try and reduce their costs of handing calls off to the big boys with their large, expensive networks.

The same happened with Indirect Access, Carrier Pre-Select and LLU, rather than build their own network new operators want to piggy-back off the existing networks to build up customer base without much initial outlay.

- -

Michael, some marketeers are already doing something similar with the post. They put the lowest price stamp on the envelope and Royal Mail rather obligingly tries to charge the recipient for the remaining postage, plus a handling fee (£1). !!

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AlfieUK
Boffin

@James

In Interconnect terms its currently;

call cost to dialling customer = Originating cost + (if applicable) Transit cost + Terminating cost

The proposal is for;

call cost to dialling customer = Originating cost

call cost to receiving customer = Terminating cost

...I presume they'll argue over who pays the transit cost where that applies :)

The costs of carrying a call on a 2 switch network will be considerably different to the costs on a 60+ switch network, (not to mention fixed line technology is cheaper than mobe) so where do you set that terminating fee? These costs are supposed to be regulated to represent actual cost in carrying a call (plus a bit of profit), so if you set it in the middle big networks can't recover their costs, and small networks get more than their costs.

BT doesn't charge you to receive calls as they get that money from the originator at the moment, in the same way as currently works for mobes.

The idea behind this methodology was, I believe, to promote network growth, i.e. the closer to the terminating customer that you can handover the call the smaller the termination charge you have to pay, hence you get more profit. This doesn't work the same without fixed termination points such as mobiles, or IP cloud traffic, although that's really a whole different issue.

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AlfieUK
Boffin

Various responses

@Gordon Henderson

Personal numbering is called that because the idea is that you can divert your 070X number to wherever you are, be that a landline, mobile, etc before the days of simple network diverts.

@SynicNZ and others

Agreed, the current termination fee system is purely an accounting task. Back when OfTel started the first round of termination fee regulation on the big 4 they did discuss doing away with it and having a peering arrangement; 'X sent Y 5M calls this month, Y sent X 4.9M, it's within z% difference so no money changes hands this month'. The problem was OfTel had already agree to operators having different termination fees based upon network utilisation, no one could agree the peering variances, and everyone was hanging on to see how the Number Translation Services (NTS) review worked out. The bigger TelCos have bigger costs in providing the network, and are regulated to recover that cost (so no single market loss leaders), but the little guys moan to OfTel that it costs too much to pass big guys calls so can OfTel reduce those costs. It's never going to work well without being a barrier to entry.

@Big_Boomer

Agreed, I'm surprised the Mobe Operators aren't moaning a bit more about this, there's bound to be an impact in usage if people stop answering numbers they don't know because they'll be paying for it. Less calls mean less revenue flow, unused network, etc.

@AC 05/09 10:14

Line rental covers the cost of providing the line to you (amongst other things), so yes you are paying it just for the potential to make/receive calls. Your line rental generally doesn't pay anything towards call costs, making or receiving, it is based upon the Long Run Incremental Cost (LyRIC) of providing a circuit into the network.

- -

VoIP (and other new media type services) was always going to throw a spanner into the current pricing methodologies as they are based upon each network passing call costs on based upon either a predefined network path or a weighted averaging of paths, whereas VoIP does not conform easily to a rigid system, particularly when you have break-out/break-in to different network types during a call.

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Phorm papers reveal BT's backwards approach to wiretap law

AlfieUK

@Lewis Chan

From the last publicised version of how Phorm/WebWise was to work, there are two cookies, one was an 'opt-out' cookie, so by deleting it you would be immediately opting yourself back into the targeted ads system. Another cookie was used to store your profiling info but if you delete that it will be replaced by the Phorm/WebWise system next pass through.

The problem that people should focus on is not the ads themselves, it's the 'man-in-the-middle'-like nature of what Phorm/WebWise does. It sits at the ISP, copying your page requests and responses, sifting them for keywords, which are then used to build a persistent profile.

If you choose not to view on-line ads, or be tracked, then you can take steps to block such actions by the likes of Google, etc, (via AdBlock, NoScript, etc) or use an alternative service (such as Scroogle so not even your IP is tracked), but you cannot avoid the snooping by Phorm/WebWise short of sending all of your traffic encrypted as everything goes through Phorm/WebWise kit at the ISP even if you opt-out.

No real detail has been given about how such data passing through their system is analysed, apart from assertions that they will not keep/use numbers over a certain length (that might be credit cards) and that they cannot view HTTPS traffic. They also promise not to keep data for opted-out customers, although initial reports said the data would still be analysed. There has also been inconsistent data given about how the system works, whether data is actually stored before processing, who will have access to the data at what stage, etc.

Phorm is the new name of a primarily Russian-based company formerly known as 121Media who previously produced software branded as spyware, and a rootkit, which they stopped distributing when the CDT in the US raised a formal complaint for deceptive behaviour.

Do you really want a company like that having access to your data, all of your browsing data, whether you opt-out or not?

Do you also want to use an ISP that has lied about using this system in trials, misled the public as to it's purpose, and now it seems operated without proper legal advice in the early stages?

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NebuAd jettisons PR firm, employees

AlfieUK

Not dead yet...

I think the 2 phrases "considering the adoption of an advertising model that does not require the tracking of web surfers from inside ISPs." and "the company says it intends to move forward with its deep packet inspection technology" mean they are now looking toward something along the lines of seatrotter's comment.

But how can we trust any company that tries this now after the brazen mis-selling of Phorm/Webwise as an anti-phishing tool, and various other statements trying to hide the real risks of what they intend to do and the lack of protection afforded to customers in their data being analysed/mined/off-shored.

The EU should slap UK.Gov upside the head over their inaction so far, and such systems with flagrant attempts to bypass informed consent, or claim public use rights over web data, should be killed off ASAP.

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Congestion charge means less traffic, more congestion

AlfieUK

Surely it proves that it worked?

Considering the '96/7 review on road traffic growth was projecting a low estimate for growth in road use by 26% over 20 years (high was 54%), if various pressures such as increasing pedestrian areas, cost of fuel and the CC have kept traffic growth at virtually zero, then surely it has worked?

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NASA chief: ISS tests for super plasma space drive

AlfieUK

@Trekkies

Nah, not Impulse Drive, they could have called it the "VAriable Magneto-Plasma Impulse Rocket"...the VAMPIR drive! Much more sexy :)

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Hushmail swats code backdoor rumors

AlfieUK

@AC 14:11

I think Paul was saying that if the mail service refused to comply with a valid legal data request then that made the mail service criminals, and would you really want to deal with a mail service that ignored the law ?

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Black hats attack gaping DNS hole

AlfieUK

BT Business Broadband

Via dns-oarc.net;

1. 194.72.9.34 (ns5.bt.net) appears to have POOR source port randomness and GREAT transaction ID randomness.

2. 62.6.40.178 (indnsc71.ukcore.bt.net) appears to have POOR source port randomness and GREAT transaction ID randomness.

...and...

1. 194.72.9.34 (bcn.customer.bt.net) appears to have POOR source port randomness and GREAT transaction ID randomness.

1. 194.72.9.34 (indnsc30.ukcore.bt.net) appears to have POOR source port randomness and GREAT transaction ID randomness.

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Lower VAT could help small businesses amid recession fears

AlfieUK

@Andy Bright

Check your history: in '79 when Maggie came to power VAT was already at 12.5% and then it was raised to 15% to offset the Income Tax cuts. It wasn't until '91 when it was raised to 17.5%, supposedly to offset Community Charge Relief (i.e. reduce 'poll tax' bills, but increase tax for everyone across the board).

Although VAT was originally brought in as a tax on luxury items, there was also a goods and services tax of 8% in '79, 5% was the EEC minimum VAT rate, but the UK had a zero rate exemption for certain items (books, domestic fuel, etc).

The EU currently state that min VAT rates should be 15% with the UK having one of the lowest rates at present, the average is apparently in excess of 22%.

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Top cop brands CCTV a 'fiasco'

AlfieUK
Joke

Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido)

They missed a trick there, should have been:

Visual Images, Detections and Identifications Office

...or, VIDIO :)

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Virgin Media distances itself from Phorm 'adoption' claims

AlfieUK

@Tony Paulazzo

Dept for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, BERR, is the re-formed Dept for Trade & Industry, DTI.

They are responsible for government driven policy in relation to consumers, but I doubt they have much pull on this issue, it's mostly outside their remit.

The reference to regulation that you mention relates to government regulation of big business and hence has no real bearing on Phorm.

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School crossing guards join CCTV panlollycon

AlfieUK
Stop

The lollypop is a STOP sign!

Having worked as a civvie for a UK police force on the Road Traffic Collisions section, and having dealt with the paperwork on a few incidents of lollypop-person abuse, I actually agree with this idea.

I've dealt with instances of lollypoppers being driven around whilst kids are on the crossing, threats and actual physical violence against lollypoppers and even one run over by a bus!

The primary problem we had when trying to warn/prosecute such instances is witnesses. You will usually get a few mums, dads, etc come forward to support the loppypopper but as the alleged offender is more often than not someone on the school run, and/or local and known to them, they often don't want to go ahead with a formal statement and hence cannot be used as a witness for a formal warning or potential prosecution.

I do also agree that some lollypoppers can be a bit over-zealous about leaping into the road when they see a kid approaching, and some forces/councils do train and monitor their lollypoppers better than others, so there also needs to be other work done such as more consistent training of lollypoppers and education of motorists that the lollypop is legally a STOP sign.

Usually a formal warning from the police for 'failing to stop...' is sufficient to make people think twice when they realise that that if they get caught at it again it's a hefty fine and points on their licence.

One option we also used to use a lot for minor incidents is a driver safety awareness course. These are usually run by the local council, the driver has to pay a small fee for it, and it can be offered as an alternative to prosecution (some complain about paying for it but when you point out that the alternative is a heavier fine/points they usually see the sense of it).

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US war robots in Iraq 'turned guns' on fleshy comrades

AlfieUK
Thumb Up

@Lisa

Dick's 'Second Variety' was the inspiration for the movie 'Screamers' <url>http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114367/</url> starring Peter 'Robocop' Weller which specifically mentions 'Autonomous Swords'.

Terminator was later credited as inspired by 2 of Harlan Ellison's teleplays, 'Soldier' and 'Demon with a Glass Hand'.

HTH

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Mobile termination fees go to Competition Commission

AlfieUK

TelCo Charges

@ AJ

Connection charges have always been there just buried in the costings formula for call charges. Whilst you may argue that they do not accurately reflect costs, as they do include an element of profit, for BT they are based upon an OfCom-regulated cost analysis based upon all associated costs of running a network, carrying calls and handing them to other TelCos.

@ this

Termination fees are supposed to cover the cost of carrying the call to the final recipient. The originating TelCo charges these to their customer and hands that money on to the Terminating TelCo.

Having worked in the industry in Interconnect Pricing, OfTel/OfCom have often relied upon being able to regulate BT's charges to control other TelCo's charges where historically the formulae have been based upon BT's network costs.

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US State puts violent videogames under scrutiny

AlfieUK

@ Greg

In the EU it seems to have really been a battle between Government and industry for a while now over who should control ratings.

Governments don't seem to like taking recommendations from Industry (ESRB/PEGI/ELSPA) and use arguments such as stating that these are voluntary ratings, and industry have no set standards.

Industry appear to want an enforceable rating system to avoid the constant cries of 'violent games made my kid a killer', but don't really want Government to control it (possibly, fear of a restrictive system).

The UK system would be a good start, BBFC already rate movies and games, retailers know they're breaking the law selling 18 rated games to kids, parents can see an approved rating on games that they will already know from movies...the problem is then one of educating parents to monitor their kids appropriately and prosecuting retailers who break the law.

I'd much prefer that system than the current EU-spouting about 'banning all violent games from sale in the EU because kids might get hold of them', and it would make video games less of a soft target for the likes of Jack Thompson :)

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Broadband big boys waiting on data pimping

AlfieUK
Black Helicopters

@Mark

AC @ 15:20 has it right, according to info available to date. There is no ad injection into pages, it is existing pages with OIX ads that will be able to target ads at you based upon OIX analysis of the traffic feeds from the ISP.

As others have said, the ads are not the issue. The issue is the wholesale collection of http traffic by the ISP at point of origin and return and then handing it over to a non-UK 3rd party for the purposes of marketing with no way to opt-out of having your data sold and no idea whether that 3rd party is keeping info that they say that they won't use.

The level of information that can be gleaned from your http requests and the returned pages is more than enough to 'de-anonymise' you, particularly as they are getting everything you put across the net. It's a marketeer's wet dream, but equally an identity thief would be rubbing his hands with glee.

This has implications for privacy, breech of EU marketing rules, service levels (i.e. impact on browser speeds), etc, the financial inducement must have been huge for the big 3 to think that they can spin this based upon the 'anti-phishing' functionality being included.

Store cards are a bad analogy as they generally give you something back for having one, the touted anti-phishing function (that exists in browsers already) hardly counts.

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French telecoms chief says 'non' to EU-wide regulation

AlfieUK

@Robert T

The UK Telecoms Ombudsman is Otelo, <url>http://www.otelo.org.uk/</url>. Otelo can consider complaints against any member company and although most fixed line providers are members, less than half mobile providers and a third ISP are.

One of OfTel/OfCom's primary roles is to ensure fair competition in the UK so it is more focused on market-scale issues not individual consumer issues. *and I managed to say that with a straight face* :)

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OFT sends out scam texts

AlfieUK

@anonymous sms

ICSTIS (as was) always said it would be too difficult to keep a properly updated list available, yet OfTel/OfCom have been publishing the Specified Numbering Scheme for years which with a little DB or spreadsheet knowledge can be turned into a nice big list of number types, network operator, charges, etc.

Some web sites even have searchable versions;

<url>http://www.ukphoneinfo.com/section/tci/locator.shtml</url>

<url>http://www.dupre.co.uk/calc.asp</url>

I used to do something similar in a DB for my work colleagues when I was in the telecoms industry, which required practically no upkeep, yet the regulators seem incapable of making this available free/cheaply and easily :(

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