Tag Archive: News Items

Less Spam Today

Strangely post on February 26th, 2010
Posted in Internet Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Map of Waledac infections

Map of Waledac infections

I had about half the usual quantity of spam this morning.

Maybe this is a consequence of Microsoft’s action against a huge list of domains which have been thought to be controlling thousands of computers in a botnet?  Dubbed Waledac, the botnet is thought to have  chucked out 1.5 billion spams from ~90k computers controlled by 277 domains.  They reckoned in 18 days last December ~650 million spams went to Hotmail alone….

Microsoft called the technical and legal action Operation b49.

See a news items:



Most ‘experts’ reckon it’s a small reprieve (as do I), but it’s better than nothing.  As it’s said,

Do Nothing, and Nothing Will Happen

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French prisoners Ride Tour de France

A Week is a Long Time in..

Peparing for the Tour de FranceQ.  In What?

  • In prison – yes obviously
  • In politics – yes
  • In a relationship – well yes, especially the past week for me
  • In Between News Items….

Yes! That’s the one!

Last week it was announced to the world that 196 convicted French prisoners are going to cycle this years Tour de France route.  See the Reuters News item here which originally reported the story: What could possibly go wrong?

It’s an enlightened bit of prisoner rehabilitation.  The 196 inmates plus 124 obviously fit guards are doing the 17 stages, stopping in towns each night that all have a prison, but staying in hotels.

Now contrast this with the report last month about the shocking state of French jails (Prison guards’ strike hits packed French jails).

In fact, there is no contrast.  It’s the French guards who are protesting about the poor state of things, with five to a cell etc.

Taken in this context, the cycle ride does not sound so strange now, does it?

Today the Ride Sets Off

Penal Tour de France pedals offMany news organisations have reported the start of the run today.  They are all using the same copy, many using the same images as well.


FILE - This Wednesday June 4, 2009, file photo shows a pack of convicts, joined by their jailers, preparing to take the start from Villeneuve d'Ascq to Valenciennes, northern France, of the prologue of the "Tour de France Penitentiaire" for the jailed. Most days, they live behind bars. But last week, a pack of convicts, joined by their jailers, a police escort and a string of support vehicles, embarked upon the inaugural two-week, 2,200 kilometer cycling trek across the Gallic countryside, organized by French prison administrators. (AP Photo)

Penal Tour de France pedals off

They all report that 194 prisoners are doing the ride compared to the fact that they all reported that 196 were going to do it last week.

So what happened to the 2 men? !!

Did they, as all the news outlets so humourously remarked, go on a “breakaway sprint” which “are obviously not allowed”?  Or maybe they feared they’d have to cycle through Mulhouse which has this interesting cycle lane to negotiate.

Keeping cycle lanes clear of parked cars is a problem the world over. This design from Mulhouse in France provides a self enforcing solution; yellow bollards have proved to be much more effective than yellow lines at deterring illegal parking. Picture from Warrington Cycle Campaign

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Sincere Words to Ignore

News Items

The only news item missing is that from a premiership football club at the wrong end of the league regarding the future employment status of it’s manager…

@AmazonThere have been two news items in the UK today that must surely have everyone either rolling their eyes in the air, or laughing down their sleeves, as to say that we’ve seen it all before is itself a bit of a cliche.

News Item Number One

GCHQ DoughnutAgency denies internet spy plans

“GCHQ is not developing technology to enable the monitoring of all internet use and phone calls in Britain, or to target everyone in the UK.
Similarly, GCHQ has no ambitions, expectations or plans for a database or databases to store centrally all communications data in Britain.
The new technology that GCHQ is developing is designed to work under the existing legal framework.”
– GCHQ statement

News Item Number Two

HarrietHarman: ‘I don’t want to be PM’“I don’t want to be prime minister and I don’t want to be leader of the party. It’s simply not true and under no circumstances would I want to be a candidate.”

Now Let’s Vote!

Do you think?

  1. Both statements are true?
  2. One or other statement is true?
  3. Neither statement is true?


If you answered 1 or 2, I don’t believe you or you are extremely young or gullible.

It’s going to be fun watching this awkward squirming moment in history pan out….

As an aside: I wonder if Harriet, if it all ends up as it appears, will use some of her experience gained as legal officer for  The National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), to roll back some of the draconian measures that have been implemented by the government that she’s been part of and voted with at almost every moment?

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ID Cards, Twitter, SAS, Terrorism and Security

Two news items today confirm the inadequacy of any security system made by man.  After all, once a secret is out, it’s no longer secret.

We have the simple human error of losing something combined with the natural inquisitiveness of human beings.  Both these absolute facts of life should drive a big hole through any plans for National ID Cards as a means of improving security!

What are they?  Oh yes!


Some servant of the State has (again!) lost a laptop.  This time it contain personal and operational details of the elite SAS, heroes of history, books and film, a force of last resort.  See Laptop with names of SAS men is missing: A laptop containing the names of SAS soldiers and their top-secret training exercises has gone missing, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.  This is pretty poor stuff but you know, who hasn’t lost something precious?  It’s easily done.  In this case, it’s the keys to the armoury, almost.


17-year-old Mikeyy Mooney, a  computer programmer, almost brought down Twitter over Easter, the service Wildely beloved of Stephen Fry.  He said he did it out of boredom to send users to a website which he was trying to promote.  (See article here).

Mooney’s activities are not dissimilar to almost every website owner in the world.  We all want more hits! Ha Ha.  He had the skill and Twitter, in their openly-connected arrogance, left doors open so that anyone with that skill could walk right through.  It’s highly reminiscent of Microsoft.


You can’t make a totally secure communication system.  To pretend so and blame one’s failings on a third party is disingenuous.  The key word is communicate.  As soon as I speak, people hear my mind.  If I don’t speak, my secret is my own.  That’s the fundamental dichotomy.  It worked in the old days before computer, newspaper and print.  Before papyrus scrolls even.

So to trust our whole country’s security to ID Cards, bought in supermarkets (yes really!), a system that’s fallible, run by humans who are fallible, is (my word of the day) bollox.

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Not all Pirates Win, but Most Do!

Two news items this week display the different fortunes of different sorts of pirate.

T´ Jolly Roger, aye.

Jolly Roger

First we have a Pirate ‘washes ashore with cash’ from Monday when the Somali pirates en route home from collecting their ransom for the Sirius Star super-tanker capsized.  Most swam ashore without the loot, one kept the loot and drowned – his family now have $150,000 drying on washing lines…

The Pirate Bay in Makarska, CroatiaSecond, we have the statistics produced by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) who have said that the music Pirates win music download battle.  This is something that I’ve mentioned several times in these pages i.e. the issue of copyright theft, usually with reference to Crawling Chaos.  However, it extends far, far beyond this.

Initially, (and still is), it was a case of everyone wanting (and being able to get) something for nothing.  This has effectively made all music totally disposable as it’s seen to be value-less.  This is confirmed by the IFPI estimate that 95% of music is un-paid-for (copied) nowadays.  Bizarrely, when the word “pirate” is bandied around it is usually applied to Joe Public.  In reality though, Joe Public is increasingly made to pay for these “free” downloads of cracked music and software by various social engineering means….  e.g. for anyone that’s checked or used these places, it’s becoming common for users;

  • to be “registered” (whatever that means)
  • to pay a premium for “pro” download speeds (whatever that means)
  • to pay to maintain the “service” – “to our customers”… ditto above …
  • to “check out our partners” – which invariably lead to shadier and dodgier places

I’m sure many people have seen this stuff – and all to get “free” music or games.  So the real pirates are increasingly big business – the type of big business that doesn’t pay taxes and the type that usually asks you to pay for protection.  The type that trancends national boundaries and will do anything to extort money from everyone.  Moving with the times, they’ve now bought up the script kiddies who’ve grown up, to control the computer botnets, corrupt software and infect everyone with trojans, worms, keyloggers and other malware to siphon off cash from anyone.  A wonderful delivery method is through software (or music) that people will willingly download…. Today’s latest is that 3 million have been hit by a windows worm!

So the pirates are the big mafia types, in no way different to the cut-throats of old.

As with everything in life, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and someone will have to pay somehow at some point.  And like the Somali pirates found out, sometimes the costs are pretty high.  For music, it’s performers and the public, the old model has changed, just don’t expect everything to be always present, ready to consume, in future.  Sustainability is a term usually applied to “the environment” but equally, it applies to everything in life, including music production and choice.  It applies to having sustained easy access to a PC and the internet.  Even these simple acts are becoming more fraught with technical and political obstacles being raised to counter the “terrorist threat”.

All these things, while being different in their effect or original intention, are all connected to the whole “computer thing” because that is the delivery method.   Like the air, we all have to breathe it.  If you want to access the internet, you access it via a technology not a device, because the same underlying technology is behind all devices from mobile phones to internet banking servers.

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