Showing posts from March, 2008

Weekly roundup

There’s a lot making the news recently that I’ve felt the need to post about in the last 7 days, but haven’t had the chance. So, there’s nothing else for it but to release another ‘round-up of the week’ with 5 hot picks of unrelated, random stories that have caught my eye.ICO re-states preventative not hard-line enforcement role - From 19.03.08 The ICO said that it would concentrate more on the avoidance of this risk than strict enforcement of the law. "We are not seeking compliance with the law as an end in itself," it said. "Making our vision a reality means minimising data protection risk for individuals and society. The law is the main tool we have at our disposal to achieve this, but we go further and promote good practice.""We cannot address all areas of data protection risk equally, nor should we attempt to do so," it said.Maybe the ICO feel they are trying to do too much - to be all things to all people. Perhaps, they feel, you can’t wh…

Macbook Air Parody

I expect most people have caught the Macbook Air ad on TV where it's seductively withdrawn from an A4 envelope to reveal its slenderness.  In this parody, we're shown that the Macbook Air isn't the only computer that can be housed in a large envelope nowadays.

Forget Sugar - Donald Trump's the Daddy

I've been reading a lot in the last couple of days about Nicholas De Lacy Brown - the first contestant to be voted off of the British version of 'The Apprentice'.  Firstly, I should point out that I didn't watch the show, and I doubt I'll even bother catching it on iplayer.  There seems to be a general consensus of opinion out there as to how Nick B presented himself - pretty damn badly.  He didn't do himself, or the legal profession any favours at all.  So what exactly did the blawging community make of it?Lacklustre Lawyer wisely observes: "you can tell that this was a person who has spent a huge part of his life trying to be someone that he isn't".Lost London Law Student recalls his Wednesday night viewing: "Then there is the apprentice with Nick the prick. A toff, who was actually quite good at art."And Law Minx pitched in with "Speak NOT to me of this utter, utter TW*T!!! What he doesn't have and will never have is a flair…

Ofcom paves the way for mobile flight calls

From 26.03.08Ofcom has given the green light for airlines to install mobile phone masts in aircraft following an extended consultation period.The regulator stated that it has no objection to passengers making mobile phone calls, provided that the safety of the aircraft is not affected.However, the technology will still need to be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority.Ofcom acknowledged that there could be other issues to mobile phone use on aircraft beyond aircraft safety."Some of the responses to the consultation also raised concerns about passenger welfare and the potential for discomfort, anti-social behaviour and 'air rage'," said Ofcom in its Mobile Communications Onboard Aircraft report.Isn’t the prolific use mobile phones on public transport bad enough already? You can’t walk on a bus or train at any time of the day or night now without getting an earful of conversation from an over-enthusiastic phone user…

More Facebook trouble afoot?

From 25.03.08Security researchers claim to have uncovered a new wave of attacks in which profiles on Facebook are used to post images of child torture.The attack was reported by Chris Boyd, director of malware research at FaceTime Communications.Boyd claimed in a blog posting to have discovered multiple instances of the attacks in which accounts were stolen and used to post photos on other pages."I am still trying to process this, but one of my close contacts has confirmed there is someone going around either hijacking, hacking or phishing user accounts on Facebook, then randomly uploading pictures of child torture to their funwall," he wrote.I really wanted to put the series of Facebook-related posts to bed by now. It seems like I've been blogging my feelings about the social networking site and other news stories relating to it all too frequently in the last few months. That said, there's a lot that merits discussion when it comes to the darker side of F…

Google Moon

From Scenta 3.3.08: In what's being described as the most wide-scale advertising attempt ever known, Google is planing to "brand" its logo into the surface of the moon so that it is visible from Earth, although presumably via telescope rather than to the naked eye.
The web giant is said to have paid the US government an estimated $1 billion for the rights to the lunar land.
I came across this story last week and initially suspected it might be another Google April Fools. Apparently not, though. I guess this scheme is somewhat in keeping with Google’s light-hearted and rather maverick corporate image. But the moon, seriously? Isn’t it a touch excessive and unnecessary? Google has become synonymous with the internet; there can hardly be a single person left in the civilised world who isn't aware of Google. However, with such a large market share in internet search and advertising, maybe Google are looking for a new customer base - extra-terrestrial web users. Yeah, tha…

Facebook Developments

From 19.03.08: Facebook is to introduce new controls allowing users to create privacy distinctions between friends, family and colleagues.The features will give users more control over who sees information stored on their profile pages, choosing which friends can view photo albums, mobile phone number or email address.Thank God for small mercies. This type of functionality should have been built into Facebook from the word go. For me, this addition is too little, too late, especially given the massive number of users that Facebook now enjoys. The thing I find increasingly concerning is the fact that so many people consider themselves perfectly safe on Facebook; they just don’t see any risks. They consider it a safe place to be and are happy to throw up all manner of personal content with little or no regard to the consequences.Facebook has been in the news a lot recently. An instant messaging (IM) feature is soon to be rolled out to users allowing real-time collaboration o…

Calls for net addiction to be universally recognised

From 19.03.08Excessive gaming and email/text messaging should be added to psychiatry's official guidebook of mental disorders, according to an article in this month's American Journal of Psychiatry.Withdrawal and an associated sense of anger or depression when users cannot reach a computer, the constant need for better equipment and the feeling of social isolation and fatigue are all signs of technology-related mental disorders.The conditions are difficult to treat because internet addiction is "resistant to treatment, entails significant risks and has high relapse rates".I think many of the bloggers out there are all net addicts of varying degrees.  Some are more predisposed to it than others, of course. Still, I don’t count myself as a suffer - I just like the internet.  I can stop any time I like. No, seriously - I can.

Porn deserves same respect as Hollywood movies

From Torrent Freak 18.03.08:The legendary Ron Jeremy has had enough of video streaming sites such as YouPorn and PornTube, that host pirated versions of his epic movies for free. Jeremy says adult content deserves the same respect as Hollywood’s majors do, and is happy that Vivid Entertainment is going after these sites.The public needs to understand that piracy is killing the adult industry, Jeremy said: “What harms the industry is the Internet. “Now Vivid is suing them, while demanding the same treatment as his colleagues in Hollywood. You wouldn’t see YouTube play a full-length feature of a Steven Spielberg film. But they think that it’s just porn so they can get away with it. So now Vivid is striking back. Piracy is piracy, whether the film is PG, R or X. We deserve the same respect.”Now the world is firmly in the midst of the digital creative-content era – of which the internet plays a massive part in distribution - piracy and abuse of IP rights is at an all-time high. This is la…

The grape slip-up

From BBC News 17.03.08: An accountant who claimed he injured himself by slipping on a grape in a Marks and Spencer car park has lost his High Court bid for damages.Alexander Martin-Sklan, 55, from Golders Green, north London, was claiming £300,000 over the incident in his local store car park in June 2004. He said a piece of fruit found on his shoe after the fall could have been picked up inside the store or car park. The judge ruled in favour of the retail giant which was contesting the action. I nearly choked to death on a grape once so I appreciate better than most just how hazardous this fruit can be. But slipping over because of one? Seems like the claimant didn’t even know if the grape was to blame or not. Maybe the mushy mess he found on his shoe after he bit the dust wasn’t actually a grape at all – perhaps it was a big ground beetle.So the judge didn’t find in his favour? Wow, I certainly didn't see that one coming.

Weekly Roundup

From Personal Computer World 14/03/08: "Broadband speeds don't live up to hype" (and since when was this new?)Only one in 25 people subscribing to broadband services claiming data rates of 'up to' 16Mbits/sec get the full rated speed, according to a new survey. Just over seven in ten people with 512Mbit lines reported getting full speeds, with the figure trailing off to 23 percent at 4Mbit, 15 percent at 8Mbit and 4 percent at 16Mbits.Is anyone surprised at this? Actually, call me a cynic, but I thought those figures were pretty good considering the shocking state of the broadband market. The timing of this story is bit ironic, really, given that an email from ’10 Downing Street’ dropped into my inbox on Friday morning. It was sent to bring my attention to the Government’s response to an online petition I signed on requiring ISPs to advertise the ‘actual’ download speed a customer can expect from their broadband package, not a theoretical maximum. Unsurprisingly…

Newspapers soon to be a thing of the past?

From Personal Computer World 14/03/08:The younger generation of internet users are more likely to avoid traditional print media and get all their news online, according to research from comScore. Meanwhile, heavy newspaper readers are more likely than average to engage with traditional print news brands online.But the internet represents a significant opportunity to extend and improve existing news brands and reach out to new consumers with living, breathing, real-time content.Just because print circulations are declining does not mean there are fewer news consumers. In fact, just the opposite is true.For the past several years, I’ve relied increasingly heavily on the net to keep up to date with news. Save for the odd train journey, say, I never actually buy a hard copy newspaper now – and why would I? You can get the same content for free, faster, in a format that’s vastly superior, doesn’t degrade or get dog-eared and is readily searchable with a couple of keystrokes. As if that was…

'Rate my Cop' website causes a stir

From 9/3/08:Police agencies from coast to coast are furious with a new website on the internet. has the names of thousands of officers, and many believe it is putting them in danger.

Kevin Martin, the vice president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, agrees. "Will they be able to access our home addresses, home phone numbers, marital status, whether or not we have children? That's always a big concern for us," he said.

Creators of the site say no personal information will be on the site. They gathered officers' names, which are public information, from more than 450 police agencies nationwide. Some listings also have badge numbers along with the officer's names.

Rebecca Costell says, in a statement, that the site helps people rate more than 130,000 officers by rating them on authority, fairness and satisfaction. She adds, "Our website's purpose is to break the stereotype that people have that cops are a…

Young females making the net their own

From The Times 09.03.08A recent study by the Pew Internet Project in America on teens in social media found that blogging growth among teenagers is almost entirely fuelled by girls, whom it describe as a new breed of “super-communicators”. Some 35% of girls, compared with 20% of boys, have blogs; 32% of girls have their own websites, against 22% of boys. Girls have embraced social networking sites on a massive scale, with 70% of American girls aged 15-17 having built and regularly worked on a profile page on websites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook, as opposed to 57% of boys of the same age. Girls will browse, take a real journey around the site. Social networking has really captured a young female audience. Matthew Bagwell, editor of My Kinda Place: “I put this down to girls being open to communicating, having longer attention spans and more widespread interests. We have to be inventive and diverse in our female content. Boys are easier, they will download pictures from galleries…

Illegal downloads revisited

Today, I finally got around to listening to the podcast of Charon QC interviewing Geeklawyer regarding the proposed legislation to target internet users who download content illegally. The podcast raises a lot of interesting points. Geeklawyer, as ever, had some deeply seated views on the issue, many of which echo my own sentiments documented in my February 16th post. Most notably, as well as the technical and logistical difficulties in requiring ISPs to monitor their customers’ downloads, the prospect of banning a person from the internet – something that is fast becoming an increasingly vital utility - just because, say, his son inadvertently downloaded a couple of dodgy MP3s is grossly unfair. As I commented in my aforementioned post, someone who flouts a ban on hosepipes during a hot summer does not have his water supply cut off at the mains.Geeklawyer particularly pointed to the fact that the ‘problem’ complained of is based on flimsy and nonsensical arguments. The content produ…

Wasting police time – US style

Have you ever forgotten where you parked you car? Chances are, you probably have at some point or another. It’s an easy thing to do at times – particularly when you have a lot on your mind and you’ve parked in a multi-storey car park, say. Less easy to do when you park in a street with definite landmarks around you but even so. Some people can manage it.But have you ever been so convinced it’s not where you left it you’ve called not only the local authorities to see if it’s been towed and but put through an emergency call the police also? Then, when the police finally turn up and drive round the area with you trying to spot it, you’ve suffered the ignominy of having to admit that there is your car, untouched and undisturbed, right where you left it in the next street over from the one you were looking in?No? Well, just such an incident happened this week to a certain person I know all too well. He was the host I mystically referred to during my Philadelphia trip in December 2006 as M…

Serial Spammer loses appeal

From Virus Bulletin 07/03/08: US spammer Jeremy Jaynes, the first spammer convicted in a felony case, has had his last appeal against the conviction, brought on freedom of speech grounds, turned down by a Virginia supreme court.After a 2003 spamming spree accounting for several million messages in a two-month period, Jaynes was convicted under Virginia state anti-spam laws, which specify a maximum of 10,000 emails in a day before the case reaches felony levels, and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment. The case preceded the introduction of federal CAN-SPAM regulations.You’ve got to hand it to him for trying that line of defence, I suppose. But he and his legal team must have always known that it was going to be a long-shot. Let’s face it: the argument that a conviction against his spamming antics was an infringement to his right to free speech was never going to stick, regardless of what angle it was approached from. Not even in America.Spam is widely regarded as one of the banes…

Nintendo Wii helps burns victims

From Computer Active 26/02/08:Burns victims and those with hand injuries are being offered time on a games console to help with their recovery.The Nintendo Wii is being used in hospitals across the south east of England after doctors found it could help bring back flexibility to these patients.This is because it makes users act out all the physical movements involved in sports such as tennis, golf and boxing.I’ve never been a particular fan of the Wii, from a technological standpoint at least. It’s certainly inferior to the much better offerings out there such as the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Still, as a console it can be a lot of fun and, of course, is dramatically cheaper. And if it helps burns and other victims into the bargain, then great – I’m all for it.

Call into Starbucks for a .... kidney?

Take 1 Starbucks, add two women - one, a kind, benevolent character with a kidney to spare and the other, a sick, polycystic kidney disease sufferer, mix them together and you have a whole new kind of service being offered at everyone's favourite coffee shop.  Yes, Starbucks worker, Ms Andersen offered regular customer Ms. Ausnes her left kidney when it was discovered the former was a blood match. Certainly over and above the line of duty for a worker who, ironically, is said to have taken the job largely because of the corporate health benefits the company provided.Ms. Andersen, 51, has worked at Starbucks for more than four years quipped: “My husband said, ‘Next time someone comes in and says they don’t feel good, don’t give away another body part.” The duo are set to go under the knife on March 11th.  You can read the full story here.

Privacy Act?!? I’ve never heard of it.

The other day, my girlfriend forwarded an email on to me, one that she was surprisingly eager for me to read. It turned out it was an email concerning data privacy and how it related to driving licences. When I discovered it originated from her somewhat notorious ‘Uncle John’ I should have probably smelt a rat. Thinking she was showing me because of my penchant for this type of thing, though, I was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt.Anyway, the subject line read: New Drivers License and the Privacy Act. “Privacy Act - - I’ve never heard of it”, I snapped, worriedly. Was I really this ignorant? Had the existence or, even worse, the passing of such an Act in England and Wales occurred without my knowing? For someone who likes to feel that they have their finger at least partially on the IT and privacy law pulse, if this should have passed me by unawares, I was going to look like a prize turkey. And that's putting it mildly.A quick search on Google for privacy act allayed m…

Urgent need for internet security review

From Computeractive 21/02/08:The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has announced a follow-up inquiry to its Personal Internet Security report.It is taking the measure after its “disappointment” with the way the Government dismissed the vast majority of its recommendations last October.The report, published in August 2007, called on the Government to take strong measures to protect against internet crime. It branded the web as a “playground for criminals” and made 23 recommendations it said would help instill public confidence in the internet.They included a kite mark scheme for internet service providers and security software. It also wanted to make software manufacturers legally responsible for security flaws and establish a central e-crime police unit.These recommendations were dismissed by the Government, which led to Committee member Lord Erroll accusing it of "putting its head in the sand".The Committee plans to release its new report soon after EasterGoo…