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Archive for April, 2010

Election Fever

a cartoon by scargill

Update 22/5/2010 – well, I wasn’t THAT far off!!

It’s tough being a Scargill cat

Young thingy

TV Tax

Today, I bought my TV Tax.  Maureen’s been stuck in America for a while now as you can imagine thanks to the volcano and the post has been piling up so this morning I decided to go through and sort out anything urgent.

In the middle of it all were two extremely nasty letters from the Television Licensing Authorities or TITS for short, looking more like something I’d imagine coming from a bailiff…. “Enforcement officers have now been authorized to visit..” blah blah from a certain Michelle Tunstall of the TV Licensing Authorities.

You know what REALLY annoys me the most about this – there are countless channels out there, all supporting themselves with advertising or in the case of Sky with advertising PLUS a monthly fee (which I pay as Sky’s channels in general are infinitely better than the BBCs IMHO) the TV licence is nothing more than a TAX to support an archaic, TINY SEGMENT of the TV scenario – i.e. the all-pervasive BBC.

To ensure the continuation of jobs for the luvvies, they have positioned themselves so that it is impossible to buy ANY TV system WITHOUT being able to watch the BBC and hence be eligible to pay the licence. So if you rip up your aerials and ONLY have a Sky receiver, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to permanently REMOVE access to the BBC so that you could legitimately claim to being UNABLE to receive BBC.  WORSE, because of the I PLAYER, if you have a computer with Internet access they can ALSO claim you can watch it that way. What other system other than something the CCCP or Chinese government might have come up with, could possibly be so all-pervasive as that.

If you think the iPlayer is good – I suggest you get someone to set up a VPN to the USA so you can see their equivalents… top quality USA sci-fi can be had in exactly the same way and THEY don’t pay a TV licence!!

The result of this is that the BBC is not SERVICE but a MONOPOLY and the TV license is not a license but a TAX. We are FORCED to pay £145.00 a year whether we want it or not – OR become a hermit with no radio, no television, no computer, no console…in short, no incoming communication at all.  Are the British public REALLY happy with this? 

Every now and then I try to imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a hospital ward or old folks home with only BBC and ITV to chose from. It fills me with HORROR. You have a choice of sport – in which I have ZERO interest, or soaps about boring people making boring conversations in pubs or working man’s clubs… or you can watch doctor who, in which a succession of testosterone-challenged men wandering around in cardboard cut-outs proving just how BAD acting can be and as for the co-stars – can’t they at least get hold of someone who doesn’t look like they’ve recently been run over by a BUS? We could not produce science fiction in this country if our LIVES depended on it and yet the BBC continues to pay, year in your out for this absolute RUBBISH. The only time they got it right was way back in the 60s when they took on Star-trek and they could not even manage that for very long.

£145 quid DOWN THE TOILET – just another tax, nothing more – it would have been better used contributing to my SKY bill. I hope this upcoming generation has the balls to get rid of this antiquated and unfair mechanism to extract more money from us – let the BBC stand along with the rest on it’s own two feet – they’ve had their share of public support – enough is enough. We should pay for what we want to watch – nothing more.

The Beginning of the End?

Are we looking at the first stirrings of the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it – or will the co-called freedom groups finally now get off their backsides and start ACTING..

http://www.silicon.com/technology/networks/2010/04/22/peter-cochranes-blog-too-late-debill-p2p-is-already-engrained-in-society-39745731/?s_cid=104

The fellow writing it, Peter Cochrane is thankfully one of those few individuals capable of talking about this stuff without devolving into technical gobbledegook…

Peter refers also to this article… http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/apr/08/digital-economy-bill-passes-third-reading

Not sure we’ll get any joy from the next Conservative government if they were in league with this!

Are we seeing the first glimpse of the beginning of the end of the Internet as we know it, I wonder?

http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/news/leaked-acta-draft-treaty-reveals-plans-for-internet-clampdown

Digital Economy Act

I’m sorry – you may think – he just did a blog on this  – well, the more I learn about this act, the worse it gets… so please read on. And what’s even worse, most people I talk to have NO idea this new act exists.

The Digital Economy Act, or the “big boys browbeating government into supporting them and to hell with everyone else” act… is a novel piece of new legislation which states that an ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is someone who provides an electronic communication service that is provided to a subscriber and consists entirely or mainly of the provision of access to the internet and includes the allocation of an IP address or addresses to the subscriber to enable that access.

Let me translate that into English for you. The act therefore affects ANYONE offering free or paid WIFI to anyone else.

That includes but is by NO means limited to:

Parents

FON users

SMEs (ie almost ALL businesses statistically)

The above might include your local shopping area, cafe, hotel, B&B, airport, TRAIN you name it. Everything from the private individual upwards who installs a WIFI router for whatever purpose, from keeping the kids happy to providing a service for customers.

The above people with marked exceptions are no more likely to understand what an IP address is, than I could be expected to know how to operate on a brain tumour.

But it gets worse…. said potential criminals are supposed to notify subscribers (like a FON user would know who his “subscribers” are!) of allegations made by copyright owners that their accounts have been used for unlawful file sharing… and must maintain lists… WHOAH just hold on there, lists?? What, of complete strangers?

This misguided piece of legislation appears to have come into place, being signed by a tiny number of MPs while everyone else had other things to worry about (ie elections) and seems to me to have gone something like this. Big business pressures government to secure protection for the music and related industries to try to stop people ripping off their products.

At this point a little history lesson might be in order… In 56 now and back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, we used to go to record shops and buy records.  I can’t remember the date but Philips brought out something called the musicassette or simply cassette player. It became known as the musicassette because they did a competition asking people what this new mini tape player should be called – and people like me filled in the competition. I still remember receiving the first Philips player and a TON of cassettes as a prize. I’ve no idea if I was the only one – probably not. Any way, I digress.

 

One of the first things that was asked was.. what on earth would you use a cassette player for.  The response was – well, you’d want to record your friends and family singing, or maybe record a meeting or something.

Bollocks- there is a reason the 90 minute tape was the most popular, offering 45 minutes per side. It’s because they knew FINE WELL you’d record one album on one side and another album on the other side.  Is it also I wonder a coincidence that DYMO labels just happened to fit 2 on the end sleeve of the cassette cover.

Anyway, we all know the history – every single person I went to school with had one of these and we all copied each other’s albums and put them on tape – so we could listen to them in the car.

So then the music industry brought out the CD… and NERO brought out the burning software so presumably you could record your friends singing.

Then Sony (who produce records I may add) brought out the Walkman. It must have been obvious at the time that this would produce a very simple way for everyone to record from their CDs to their PC and copy the material to the Walkman… indeed not only was it obvious it was BLINDINGLY successful and so before long we had the file sharers on the web making millions of tracks available to share with others and millions of people started downloading music.

So now it seems the record companies and their friends have decided this is not good enough and somehow got together with the government who then passed a law that makes just about everyone a bona-fide criminal.

Let me be clear, I don’t download lots of music, indeed I mainly listen to Internet radio which once mastered means you’d never listen to the BBC again – but my lack of inclination to download is not because it’s against the law, it’s because I’m now dead old at 56 and most, but not all of the material out there sounds like poo to me apart from Alicia Keys who’s wonderful.

Mobile phones that handle WIFI are now coming out in numbers…. the Microsoft Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry and others.. and because the mobile operators are lying gits, offering unlimited access but then in the small print changing their minds – and because 3G in many parts of the UK is entirely PANTS, WIFI is UTTERLY important to this new generation of information seekers. We like to get our news in cafes and the pub, we do more and more and more things via the internet – and when tablets take off we’ll be doing that EVEN MORE…

And what do we find, an act that is guaranteed if anyone ever gets around to TELLING THE PEOPLE, to turn folk OFF from offering free or inexpensive WIFI…

It is therefore VITAL that individuals and companies GET OFF THEIR BOTTOMS and COMPLAIN about this bill and get it CHANGED. Write to OFCOM and explain why this is completely unmanageable – why it will DAMAGE our country and RESTRICT access to WIFI for completely the WRONG REASONS.

As if Nick Clegg needed any more bolstering after his world-class battering of the other two leaders on TV, he was recently asked THIS question

 

"Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?"

His answer..

"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

Ok, so get onto your liberal candidate and find out what HE OR SHE is doing about this.. in fact, get onto your MP and ask why he or she (as is likely) did not even bother to VOTE on this issue – I’ll save you guessing – they probably didn’t have a CLUE what it was about – but don’t let that stop you asking!

The Lib Dems later apparently qualified the comment saying that they supported most of the bill – so clearly THEY have some friends in big business also.

I don’t know if you’ve thought of this – but regarding the many thousands of people the government now classes as ISPs – part of the deal is that they all LOG what we’re doing. So just as in the McCarthy era or the peak of the CCCP, the government will have succeeded in turning thousands of ordinary people into SPIES – but this time not for the government, but for BIG BUSINESS….. yes, that means that you ISP will know you are READING THIS be it your REAL ISP, your cafe owner, or your friend who’s letting you use their WIFI!

Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act, or the “big boys browbeating government into supporting them and to hell with everyone else” act… is a novel piece of new legislation which states that an ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is someone who provides an electronic communication service that is provided to a subscriber and consists entirely or mainly of the provision of access to the internet and includes the allocation of an IP address or addresses to the subscriber to enable that access.

Let me translate that into English for you. The act therefore affects ANYONE offering free or paid WIFI to anyone else.

That includes but is by NO means limited to:

Parents

FON users

SMEs (ie almost ALL businesses statistically)

The above might include your local shopping area, cafe, hotel, B&B, airport, TRAIN you name it. Everything from the private individual upwards who installs a WIFI router for whatever purpose, from keeping the kids happy to providing a service for customers.

The above people with marked exceptions are no more likely to understand what an IP address is, than I could be expected to know how to operate on a brain tumour.

But it gets worse…. said potential criminals are supposed to notify subscribers (like a FON user would know who his “subscribers” are!) of allegations made by copyright owners that their accounts have been used for unlawful file sharing… and must maintain lists… WHOAH just hold on there, lists?? What, of complete strangers?

This misguided piece of legislation appears to have come into place, being signed by a tiny number of MPs while everyone else had other things to worry about (ie elections) and seems to me to have gone something like this. Big business pressures government to secure protection for the music and related industries to try to stop people ripping off their products.

At this point a little history lesson might be in order… In 56 now and back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, we used to go to record shops and buy records.  I can’t remember the date but Philips brought out something called the musicassette or simply cassette player. It became known as the musicassette because they did a competition asking people what this new mini tape player should be called – and people like me filled in the competition. I still remember receiving the first Philips player and a TON of cassettes as a prize. I’ve no idea if I was the only one – probably not. Any way, I digress.

 

One of the first things that was asked was.. what on earth would you use a cassette player for.  The response was – well, you’d want to record your friends and family singing, or maybe record a meeting or something.

Bollocks- there is a reason the 90 minute tape was the most popular, offering 45 minutes per side. It’s because they knew FINE WELL you’d record one album on one side and another album on the other side.  Is it also I wonder a coincidence that DYMO labels just happened to fit 2 on the end sleeve of the cassette cover.

Anyway, we all know the history – every single person I went to school with had one of these and we all copied each other’s albums and put them on tape – so we could listen to them in the car.

So then the music industry brought out the CD… and NERO brought out the burning software so presumably you could record your friends singing.

Then Sony (who produce records I may add) brought out the Walkman. It must have been obvious at the time that this would produce a very simple way for everyone to record from their CDs to their PC and copy the material to the Walkman… indeed not only was it obvious it was BLINDINGLY successful and so before long we had the file sharers on the web making millions of tracks available to share with others and millions of people started downloading music.

So now it seems the record companies and their friends have decided this is not good enough and somehow got together with the government who then passed a law that makes just about everyone a bona-fide criminal.

Let me be clear, I don’t download lots of music, indeed I mainly listen to Internet radio which once mastered means you’d never listen to the BBC again – but my lack of inclination to download is not because it’s against the law, it’s because I’m now dead old at 56 and most, but not all of the material out there sounds like poo to me apart from Alicia Keys who’s wonderful.

Mobile phones that handle WIFI are now coming out in numbers…. the Microsoft Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry and others.. and because the mobile operators are lying gits, offering unlimited access but then in the small print changing their minds – and because 3G in many parts of the UK is entirely PANTS, WIFI is UTTERLY important to this new generation of information seekers. We like to get our news in cafes and the pub, we do more and more and more things via the internet – and when tablets take off we’ll be doing that EVEN MORE…

And what do we find, an act that is guaranteed if anyone ever gets around to TELLING THE PEOPLE, to turn folk OFF from offering free or inexpensive WIFI…

It is therefore VITAL that individuals and companies GET OFF THEIR BOTTOMS and COMPLAIN about this bill and get it CHANGED. Write to OFCOM and explain why this is completely unmanageable – why it will DAMAGE our country and RESTRICT access to WIFI for completely the WRONG REASONS.

As if Nick Clegg needed any more bolstering after his world-class battering of the other two leaders on TV, he was recently asked THIS question

 

"Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?"

His answer..

"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

Ok, so get onto your liberal candidate and find out what HE OR SHE is doing about this.. in fact, get onto your MP and ask why he or she (as is likely) did not even bother to VOTE on this issue – I’ll save you guessing – they probably didn’t have a CLUE what it was about – but don’t let that stop you asking!

The Lib Dems later apparently qualified the comment saying that they supported most of the bill – so clearly THEY have some friends in big business also.

I don’t know if you’ve thought of this – but regarding the many thousands of people the government now classes as ISPs – part of the deal is that they all LOG what we’re doing. So just as in the McCarthy era or the peak of the CCCP, the government will have succeeded in turning thousands of ordinary people into SPIES – but this time not for the government, but for BIG BUSINESS….. yes, that means that you ISP will know you are READING THIS be it your REAL ISP, your cafe owner, or your friend who’s letting you use their WIFI!

More sun?

tmpCB

Brighter Atheists?

There is a reason why atheists sometimes are referred to as “brights”… According to the American Sociological Association in it’s study published in the March 2010 edition of “Social Psychology Quarterly”, more intelligent people are less likely to be religious.  Young adults who subjectively call themselves “not at all religious” average IQ=103 during adolescence, whereas those who describe themselves as “very religious” have average IQ=97 during adolescence.

I’ll bet that went down well in a country that is largely religious!

Virus – or Viral?

I recently received an email addressed to myself and half of the western world. It began “URGENT!!! PLEASE CIRCULATE to your friends…..” before going on to describe an attachment which would “burn the whole hard disk C of your computer”.

It’s not the first time of course and it won’t be the last time – I’m sure many of you have had these. Nine times out of 10 they turn out to be rubbish and this was no exception. http://www.hoax-slayer.com/black-in-white-house-virus-hoax.shtml

That in itself is not a problem – that’s why we have DELETE keys. Where the PROBLEM lies is this… in sending to countless people in the TO: field, you ensure that each of those people now has the email address of all the others. MORE’S THE POINT, any of those people might have a trojan on their computers, harvesting email addresses – after all, you have no control over the anti-virus or lack of it on their computers! If any ONE of them has such a problem – you’re now on a LIST somewhere.

The solution is simple… in the case of those sending out such messages – having been THEMSELVES the recipient of said message – CHECK before you send the message out – go to GOOGLE and key in the main phrase, perhaps it’s a hoax.  If, after all that you still want to enlighten your friends, send a copy to YOURSELF and BLIND-CC everyone else – i.e. BCC field.  All email programs have this.  That way, the recipients DO NOT get a copy of everyone else’s email – and you don’t risk being very unpopular as the person who’s action put them on a mailing list!

Simples!

What Parliament Thinks of your Right to Internet Access

The Digital Economy Bill

Please Read This

Here is a list of MPs to harrass – the ones one the LEFT voted FOR the Bill, the ones on the right voted against the bill, the rest didn’t turn up. Ask them what about the small businesses who own hotels, cafes etc, are they responsible for what their GUESTS do on their connections? If you were in that position would you simply GIVE UP and close the connection? This bill is a DISASTER for the UK