* Posts by rob hindle

22 posts • joined 19 Mar 2009

Almost entire EU now violating Brussels cookie privacy law

rob hindle

The blind leading - who?

If I have Google Analytics on my site it is my responsibility to ask user’s permission. A lot of website owners with analytics installed may not know it's installed (the website designer did it as contingency for when the client asks for stats). Even if they know they have GA will they know it uses cookies? I assumed it would but only confirmed that just now.

The ICO have implemented this requirement on their own site. It’s intrusive and basically says accept or the site won’t work. If every site were to do what the ICO have it would make a laughing stock of the web – and the moron legislators who thought up this crackpot scheme.

I just checked the EC website, they do drop cookies (ec_exit_survey, EuropaSearchSessionID) but don't ask permission.

This is a case of the blind not even able to lead themselves.

The legislation just needs to say - at installation or first use (or even start of session) browser software must explicitly ask the user whether cookies should be allowed, if the user says no then switch on the cookie blocker.

MIRACULOUS new AIRSHIP set to fly by 2013

rob hindle

Or a mix of H and He

If you were to blend cheaper hydrogen with the helium it would it be inflammable? presumably at a certain percentage yes, below that no. A bit like how the 80% nitrogen in the air mitigates the propensity of the oxygen component to react with flammable substances.

If a H/He mix was "safe" with a high H content the overall cost would reduce and venting gas more affordable (and indeed, the capital cost of filling the airship initially would be less).

Virgin outsources techies, pulls plug on Trowbridge call centre

rob hindle

The problem is...

It's increasingly difficult to "vote with your feet", all the big operators are the same. And if a few hundred do de-camp the operator just says "good, those are the demanding customers, expensive to support because they actually expect to get what they paid for! If we make them our competitor's problem our cost base goes down, our competitor's goes up."

From the operators perspective it's an advantage to use overseas call handlers with poor English language skills not just because they can pay peanuts and don't have to deal with annoyances like employment legislation but also because they know that we will only place a support call to a rubbish help desk as a final resort.

Supercomputer charts killer tsunami's course

rob hindle

What about the pacific islands

First reports of the tsunami said the wave would swamp small pacific island communities where the land can be only a metre or so above sea level.

No news since. Have they been forgotten or were the forecasts overly pessimistic?

Google blames bug for Gmail deletions

rob hindle

Paid Gmail

what about http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en-GB/business/index.html

Gmail users howl in anguish at 'disappeared' accounts

rob hindle

What about google Calendar

I was in the forums a few days ago and there even paying users complaining that their calendar data had gone. Is this related? (pre-dates the Gmail story). Or do the problems only get aired when 150,000 users are affected?

Revisiting the Calendar forum just now I see there are odd individual data loss reports going back a long time. And on reflection my Gmail lost the contents of a recipient group list back in November. I didn't complain - just recreated the list. How many other such problems go unreported?

On balance the verdict seems to be that the Google properties are not a "safe" home for your data and that the 0.08% figure quoted represents only a tiny fraction of the number of users adversely affected over, say, a 12 month period and on Google accounts rather than just Gmail accounts.

Adobe Reader browse-and-get-pwned 0day under attack

rob hindle

Spam promo of 3rd party pdf alternative

I got several like this yesterday (2 versions with different download addresses but both resolving to the same URL). Sender name given as Adobe Support or Adobe News

"Adobe is pleased to announce new version upgrades for Adobe Acrobat 2010.

To upgrade and enhance your work productivity today, go to: http://www.adobe-acrobat-new-download.com"

(the other address: http://www.official-adobe-software.com)

Adobe don't publish any email addresses on their website so can't advise them of the spam.

While I'm not "a friend of Adobe" (with particular reference to their policy of translating already high USD price to GBP price by changing the currency symbol) nor do I have any time for a spam-promoted alternative. And who knows what malware it may include... At least the official product only contains bugs and vulnerabilities! And at least we get to hear about them and Adobe will probably release patches.

Three is voted the best UK network

rob hindle

Everest but not Kinder Scout

BBC news story today - Mobile phone coverage provided up Mt Everest - but I can't get a signal on the A57 west of Sheffield

Jobs dubs Google's 'open' Android speak 'disingenuous'

rob hindle

locked into the playground or free to roam?

I'm delighted with my £80 (if you try hard enough, list is £99) San Francisco Android PAYG. £400 for iPhone PAYG just ain't going to happen for me. And I'm bright enough to calculate that the alternative of iPhone for £99 plus £35 a month for 2 years on contract comes to £929 - and at that cost I'd need to take out insurance adding a bit more to the price.

Maybe if you use a mobile a lot and can justify £35 a month on contract just for the calls iPhone becomes competitive but for me £10 a month on calls/data is fine - I'll have had 2 years use for a third of the iPhone cost. If I write off my S-F or have it stolen I'm not stuck with the contract, and a repIacement phone is only £80.

If iPhone is so great why are people jailbreaking it? Those are the guys who made the wrong purchase, they need Android.

Alternatively if you go Android but want to play safe then don't root the phone and just stick with your service providers walled garden app shop.

As a developer maybe the Android platform is more fragmented than Apple but I can publish anything I want, I don't have to pay the apple tax nor seek their approval.

This is Mac vs PC all over again, same issue: choose between paying a premium for being locked into the playground or free to roam, more risks but more choice, more benefits and cheaper. And after 20 years of Mac/PC which business model has proven the most popular?

Ofcom imposes new rules on silent callers

rob hindle

TPS is a confidence trick

TPS does nothing. They have the power to impose fines that are intended to ensure compliance (up to £5k per call to a TPS registered number and I think imprisonment is an option not only for the MD of company making the call but also for the individual employee).

An FOI enquiry found they have NEVER imposed a fine of any size or any other penalty.

If they get enough complaints about a particular company they write a polite letter asking them to take more care about who they call.

I think TPS complaint monitoring is subcontracted by the ICO to an organisation funded by the marketing industry.

It's not even that easy to file a proper complaint as the calls are usually "number withheld" (or more recently to get past those who have such calls blocked by their telecoms supplier for example, some seem able to use a faked caller ID). Ask the caller for their name, company name, address, phone number - at best you get: "Can't give you my name because of the data protection act" but commonly they know the reason people need that is to log a TPS complaint so they end the call.

TPS is basically a confidence trick, the authorities being seen to do something but prefer to look after the interests of the marketing industry than the electorate - after all we only get one vote every 5 years, the marketers get to entertain MPs and make donations to political parties every day of the week.

On a similar note, junk emails, a marketer involved told me he'd once accidentally sent a mailshot to his list of people who had explicitly requested no further mailings from him - it generated no complaints and more business than any of his mailings to opted-in addresses. That's why marketers regard TPS registratrants as "good prospects", we get fewer calls so are more likely to respond and the only downside risk is an ineffective TPS complaint.

I don't bother completing TPS reports any more, it just means each junk call takes me time and effort.

Read the TPS web site - worded to emphasise the downside (!) of blocking unsolicited calls (that you might really want some of those calls!).

The con-artists have also got in on the act, there are companies who charge £££ to block your sales calls. All they appear to do (apart from taking your money of course) is register you with TPS.

Also there are all sorts of clever devices to help you block these calls - but why the heck should I pay £££ to prevent someone invading my privacy? I got a phone for my convenience not theirs.

Nominet chief tells domainers to grow up

rob hindle

I have a solution...

The problem is that there are a vast number of desirable domain names being held awaiting a buyer. The cost of holding them is minimal. Using them for spammy websites full of sponsored ads probably covers the cost and makes the universal experience of the internet worse. Genuine businesses struggle to find a useful name having instead to use a lengthy one or resort to a non .co.uk domain.

A solution would be to scrap domain renewal fees and replace them with a bond. Suppose for each domain name you hold you have to make a deposit of, say £100. (About 10million UK domains?) Nominet costs would be covered by interest earned on those deposits. There would be no need to pay renewal fees so admin costs would be lower. The risk of "real" registrants accidentally losing names because they forgot to renew would disappear. Web designers would make sure the name was registered to and paid for by the site owner not themselves. There would be a disincentive to hold large numbers of names.

I'd like to go further and impose a "code of conduct", non compliance resulting in forfeit of domain name and bond such that some quality control could be imposed on content to get rid of sites comprised solely of sponsored ads - but devising a reasonable set of criteria would be difficult.

Penalty for silent calling goes sky high

rob hindle

the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property

There's no point whatsoever in increasing the penalty, just impose the one that''s already there a few times rather than, as with TPS penalties never. The only "benefit" from this increase is that the politicians can be seen to have taken action, however if they actually implemented any of the fines it would be damaging to marketing businesses who perhaps help the political parties out with some contributions.

As regards number withheld blocking - it's pointless, I'm getting calls with faked callers numbers, I've seen just a long string of zeros as CLI and last week I got a 6 digit CLI (looked like Cardiff STD code plus a bit).

Why not legislate so the telecos could operate a free blacklist and blocking service and instantly route all such calls to a premium rate sandbox. (The spam callers limit the ring-count so they don't trigger answerphones - making their calls even more frustrating as you rush to the phone for an update on Aunty Mabel's emergency hospital admission and it stops ringing before you get there...)

TPS results in fewer calls but still 4 in the last week (and I've been on the TPS list for many years).

Can't we use human rights legislation "the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property"?

I can't even get a domestic use premium rate number to use on communications with organisations who will regard me as fair game as a result of contacting them.

Free postcoders bang on Ordnance Survey door

rob hindle

Ordnance Survey

Neil Barnes wrote: "Blow the postcode - How about all that Ordnance Survey mapping data? Now that's something I want..."

And you can have it (well, mapping at 1:50000) , and it must cost a lot more to maintain than PAF


Unused phone lines to be taxed for rural broadband

rob hindle

Which telecom provider will get the money?

Call me a cynic but my guess is that BT would use any dosh they got to prioritise service upgrades in areas already covered by competitive Cable services. If the money really did get to proper rural areas - not wealthy London commuter belt but in the, as usual, disregarded "North of Watford Gap" I'd not mind making a small contribution.

My guess is that first on the list for upgrade will be Hambleden http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/30/rake_broadband/

Passing through Treasury and admin little of the money collected will end up being spent doing the job on the ground - and the providers will overcharge for however little work they can get away with.

Telecoms reform tabled as EU plots spam clampdown

rob hindle

spam phone calls

@john loader: "Not the ones the TPS can stop" - just which are those?

I've been registered with TPS for years and I still get calls from "reputable" UK companies including what I believe is a BT subsidiary. And Npower last week. TPS complaints are handled by a marketing industry body. I got info using the FOI act from the Information Commissioner. Nobody has ever been fined (penalty is up to £5000 per offending call made). Persistent offenders just get a "please stop calling TPS numbers" letter.

Businesses are more important to Government than individuals, they generate more tax revenue and party donations.

I think our best chance is if there were a 'phone company who offered a spam call blocking service with a blacklist of "bad" numbers. Even blocking "number withheld" calls has stopped working, the callers are currently using numbers consisting of all zeros and I'm sure they'll be working on how to "fake" the caller ID - possibly selecting the numbers to use from the TPS list.

BT to push fibre to 1.5m more homes and businesses

rob hindle

what areas are prioritised by BT?

I'd put money on them prioritising areas already well served by Virgin - I'm very happy with my Virgin Cable TV, Phone, 20MB b/band. (Granny's watching streamed foreign TV, Kid is playing multi-user games, Wife is Video Skyping, I'm doing some PHP/mysql online development work).

BT would love to turn up in "Virgin territory" and offer cheaper fibre on the back of Govt. subsidy - but I'd not move, I've had the dubious pleasure of doing business with BT before, never again. Virgin do suffer from a help desk staffed with morons but name any big provider of any "service" that doesn't have that problem.

As regards "unlimited broadband" frankly I'd prefer honest metering or capping to the otherwise inevitable "tragedy of the commons", there will always be some greedy buggers crying foul if they can't spend 24 hours a day maxing out the line capacity downloading pirate movies, why shouldn't they pay per GByte?

Please don't eat your horse, EU asks owners

rob hindle

Are the drugs a real problem?

Is this a real problem backed up by proper objective scientific analysis of drug residues in the flesh of slaughtered healthy horses (not those that have been killed or died naturally of illnesses and therefore possibly subject to significant recent medication) or just an untested "it must be true" hypothesis? There are people with vested interests: those farmers who produce horse meat intended for human consumption and the businesses that provide disposal services for horse corpses not going to human food.

I recall at the time of the UK Govt. "Protect and survive" leaflet we were advised that it would be perfectly safe to consume animals killed in the nuclear holocaust. That sounds pretty risky to me (but post holocaust I guess our outlook might not be too great anyway so contaminated food better than none).

And aren't most farmed species subject to considerable medication? a flock/herd/whatever large group of animals in close proximity are prone to spread infection rapidly throughout the group so will have been given medication. And what about organophosphates in sheep-dip? They make farmers sick, don't they (the organophosphates not the farmers) get into our food too?

Junk email volumes hit high

rob hindle

Only 90% who are they kidding?

Set a catch-all address on a domain and there's a good chance you'll get a lot more than 90% junk, I've seen cases where not only do spammers send to every common forename @ but also to all 4 letter combinations @.

I think many of those never get spotted by the people who provide these low figures of only 90% because they get blocked before hitting spam filtering. Also the figures are probably distorted as they come from the likes of messagelabs whose users are a pre-selected bunch of relatively sophisticated users and big spenders, not the small businesses who've never even heard of messagelabs and use much less sophisticated spam filtering.

At one point I set the catch-all for a high visibility domain name to a gmail account - it ran out of space in a week (that was when Gmail could only store 1GB - about 250,000 messages if I recall...).

If that's a common experience I guess most of the internet "backbone" bandwidth is being used for spam. Everything would be faster and cheaper if spam could be killed.

Tough on e-vehicles, tough on the causes of e-vehicles

rob hindle

UK led the world in electric vehicles

Not sure if this is still true but a few years ago our fleet of electric milk-floats made us leaders in battery vehicles. But yes this is just another bit of political headline grabbing.

Commuting by push bike is faster than bus/car but I live in a hilly area, arriving covered in sweat means a shower and change of clothes and then there's the secure storage problem for the bike once you arrive.

I drive because the bus service is unreliable - and I'm close to routes with allegedly a bus every 10 mins or more. It's unreliable because there are too many cars causing congestion so bus intervals can be 30 mins. For longer journeys I don't use the train because it costs more than driving (certainly for a family of 3), station parking is expensive and insecure. If I've got heavy luggage a taxi to the station adds a lot to the cost, bus dumps me a good half mile away and both taxi and bus add 30 minutes to the journey time compared with driving to the station.

Long distance by coach is cheap but can be slow and there are no parking facilities at the coach pick-up, not even proper drop-off facilities.

What is needed is integrated thought-through plans not addressing the bit of the problem that's going to play well with the electorate (to the idiot in the street it reads like "Government is going to give you £5000").

Individual bus routes should be auctioned - having 3 companies serving the same route in competition is stupidity. Part of the deal should be a service committment with a no-strike deal with the union.

Electric cars do nothing to help reduce road congestion and only shift the pollution problem to power generation facilities and battery manufacture/disposal. I believe there may even be a problem with the supply of the metals used to manufacture batteries - stuff like lithium, nickel, cadmium.

Incentivise commuter season tickets - but with a distance limit. It is just plain stupid that housing is so remote from workplaces, I knew someone doing a 5 hour daily commute, Birmingham to London: car to station, train, tube. I used to live in Bourneville, Cadbury's built housing for all categories of employee and for the related community like teachers and doctors all within about 3 mile radius of the factory. That meant many could walk/cycle to work, decent bus service and not much traffic so those that needed to drive, e.g. doctors making house calls, could do so.

The only losers from making public transport usable are car makers, road builders, and the petrol supply chain. What Government loses from fuel duty it will make up from speed cameras - reduce congestion and we might actually get to the position that it's possible to pass a speed camera travelling in excess of 30mph!

Tory 'terror' affair shows danger of ubiquitous surveillance

rob hindle

Does nobody face the consequences?

"there has been considerable damage to national security already as a result of some of these leaks"

If this statement to the police by the Home Office is not true then hasn't the offence of "wasting police time" been committed? I look forward to the author being charged with this offence.

If not then false claims can be made with impunity in the hope that occasionally the subsequent fishing expedition by the police may turn up some evidence, not necessarily relevant to the original claim and use that as justification for the action. Suppose the police search had turned up some sexually explicit material in this case - I bet we'd all have heard about it.

Wacky Jacqui spanked by husband

rob hindle

What else did he need?

Has Jacquie claimed on her expenses for Kleenex tissues - a possible accessory for solo viewing of porno films

PRS v YouTube: No UK vids, but royalty row runs and runs

rob hindle

Rights free internet radio cahnnel?

PRS phones every business it can identify in UK and asks if they have a PRS license for listening to the radio at work. I've come across a couple of small businesses locally (a sandwhich shop that opens 2-3 hours a day for example) who've been done.

example: a charity in Astley, Wigan were told they needed a licence costing £230 p.a. to play music in their kitchen.

Is there an internet radio channel that plays exclusively non-PRS music, give those young struggling unsigned new musicians some air-time or old recordings out of copyright?

Small business has it hard enough already, especially just now - I wonder how much of the money PRS gets this way is gobbled up in "admin fees" and how much gets to musicians. PRS' highest-paid director received £425,000 in 2007. They reportedly spent about that much on a new logo recently.

If I listen to the radio at work I expect the broadcaster to have paid musician's royalties - fair enough but it seems like PRS wants to charge twice, once for broadcasting and then again for listening.

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