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Showing posts from April, 2008

I'm a Mac ....

All of the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" parodies have been done to death and I'm not really a fan on Mitchell and Webb either, save perhaps for their surprisingly good film, Magicians.  Still, when I came across this on Digg earlier, I thought it worthy of posting.  Great stuff.

uTorrent usage up - Limewire down

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From Torrent Freak 26/04/08:New data on the ever changing P2P landscape shows that the number of uTorrent users worldwide has more than doubled compared to last year. The BitTorrent client is most popular in Europe - with an install rate of 11.6% - and least popular in the United States, where 5.1% of the PCs have uTorrent installed.From December 2006 to December 2007 LimeWire lost approximately 25% of its user base. By the end of 2007, 17% of all PCs in the United States had LimeWire installed, compared to 23.3% last year. Similar drops occurred in Europe, Latin America, and the rest of the world.File sharing has been in the news a lot recently what with the growing concerns over net neutrality, packet shaping practices by ISPs and the ever-present issues of piracy.  I don't consider myself to be a massive P2P user and am very picky - I prefer to think of it as discerning - over what clients I use.  For instance, I've always kept Limewire at arms length for a variety of reaso…

New OGC Logo

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I was amused to see the proposed new logo for the Office for Government Commerce in the comment section of The Times today.  Costing £14,000 (I could have mocked one up in Photoshop for just a snip of that price) the new, sleek, modern logo is great, until turned 90 degrees clockwise.Now I'm back at home, I've checked it out on the Times site who claim that OGC are planning to proceed with it: 

Apparently they are pressing ahead with it anyway. A spokesman for the OGC said (I kid you not) this:
We concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters 'OGC' - and is not inappropriate to an organisation that's looking to have a firm grip on government spend.That's a firm grip, all right!

Chinese web users career towards web domination

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From USA today 21.04.08BEIJING — China, already the world leader in cellphone use, has surpassed the USA as the No. 1 nation in Internet users.The number of Chinese on the Internet hit more than 220 million as of February, according to estimates from official Chinese statistics by the Beijing-based research group BDA China. The government is likely to confirm the leap at its half-yearly report in July.The longtime Internet leader, the USA, which founded and developed the network of computers, had 216 million users at the end of 2007, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The percentage of American users — 71% — still exceeds China's 17%. China has 1.3 billion people, compared with nearly 304 million in the USA. Given the meteoric growth the China has seen in recent years, perhaps this isn’t such a surprise after all. And, of course, from a percentage standpoint, the number of Chinese internet users is still relatively small. Nevertheless, as China continues its single-track path towar…

New Property site promises buyers the lowdown

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From Computer Active 11.04.08:A new website boasts it can give anyone looking to buy a property the lowdown on just about any house, in any street, in any neighbourhood in the UK.Zoopla will go head to head with other property websites, such as will Rightmove, Findaproperty and Primelocation. A host of smaller sites also compete for the homebuyer's attention.However Zoopla says it has the edge by being able to provide value estimates on more than 26 million homes with data taken from the Royal Mail and the Land Registry.Oh great.  Yet another website pitched at sellers and buyers to further clutter up the internet.  But maybe I'm being overly harsh: having checked the site over earlier, it did seem to offer most of the functions that the company claimed.  But much of the data available on a particular property will only be meaningful when compared with data from other properties.  I'm also not sure how much faith I'd put in their 'my estimate' function.  Botto…

Microsoft tries change of tack

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From Time.com - 17/04.08:(WASHINGTON) — Microsoft Corp. has yet to convince Yahoo Inc. to agree to a friendly takeover, but the software company is already hiring lobbyists to help it convince regulators to let the deal — hostile if it has to be — go through.Software company Microsoft Corp., bracing for a regulatory squabble in its takeover bid, recently hired Bryan Cave Strategies LLC to lobby the federal government on the proposed multibillion-dollar deal.Pity poor Microsoft – they just can’t seem to get this deal closed. One minute reports seem to indicate that progress is being made in their bid to acquire Yahoo; the next, they’re back to square one. But whatever the true state of play, you have to admire the typical Redmond tenacity. If one method fails – try another. So what’s next then - a campaign march?

Cable owner impounds 2 ships

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From vnunet.com 14/4/08“Two ships have been impounded in Dubai after satellite images indicated that they may have been responsible for the damage to undersea cables which left large parts of the Middle East without proper internet access.The loss of the cables caused internet access in some countries to slow by as much as 80 per cent, and harmed performance at call centres in Egypt to the extent that the state telecoms company asked ordinary users to stay offline.”I’d not heard anything more [about this story] since news broke of the internet outage in the Middle East back in January. Still, I had not forgotten about it entirely. In fact, I alluded to it in a previous post commenting just how fragile the internet as an infrastructure can be. It’s alleged that the two vessels under suspicion strayed into forbidden waters and laid anchor during rough weather to ride it out. They got a lot more than they bargained for, though, when their anchors snagged submarine cables.  After that, I…

Down Time

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I've returned home to Cornwall for 2 or 3 days of rest and relaxation.  Actually my trip was supposed to be a mixture of business and pleasure although there's been precious little of the former so far.Earlier today I took the opportunity to go for a little Spring-time ramble and, as is often the case with me, my camera went too.  I was home for the Easter holidays about this time last year although the weather is more natural and spring-like for April this time around.  Last year it was uncharacteristically hot; I remember making the point on my other blog that seeing people on the beach and in the water, frolicking about as if it were summer, seemed just plain wrong at that time of year.  Despite the colder conditions this April, it wasn't nippy enough to deter a couple of scuba divers who took advantage of the calm water in Portmellon.  Hopefully it won't be long before I'm back in the water again.  Can't wait!

Charlotte Dymond Facts

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For the text of the ballad of Charlotte Dymond, click HERE.All quotes are taken from the excellent write up about the story of Charlotte Dymond by accomplished crime writer Linda Stratmann.Who was Charlotte Dymond?She was an 18 year old domestic servant who was murdered on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, UK. Her partner, Matthew Weeks, was hanged for her murder in accordance with the law. She was found with her throat cut, having lain undiscovered for several days in a concealed ditch. Charlotte was around 18, an illegitimate child with black hair and pale skin. In addition:Charlotte, ... was attractive and smartly dressed [and] was reputed to be a flirt.When did she die?Charlotte was killed on 14th April 1844. Her ghost is said to have been seen on 14th April in various years, wearing the clothes she was in the day she died.Did Mathew Weeks indeed murder her?Nobody witnessed the murder. There was a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence linking Matthew with her murder. His clothes w…

The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond

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To view my FAQ concerning Charlotte Dymond, click HERE.Coming as I do from Cornwall, I thought it would be appropriate to mention this one. I first learned about Charlotte Dymond during an English lesson at school but have since read much more about it. There is an excellent write up about it by accomplished crime writer Linda Stratmann. There is also a fascinating book published by Pat Munn dedicated to the mystery surrounding the murder of Charlotte Dymond. While some of the conclusions that Munn comes to are perhaps less than logical, it is an excellent read nonetheless.Charlotte Dymond, an attractive 18 year old domestic servant was found murdered near Roughtor Ford on 14th April 1844. Her colleague and boyfriend, crippled farm-hand Matthew Weeks, was hanged for her murder. Her body had lain undiscovered on Bodmin moor for several days before it was found by a search party. The Ballad of Charlotte Dymond written by Charles Causley explains the story of the whole affair far more el…

The Law Actually Hot Picks of the Week

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This week has been a pretty busy one for me; even 'hot picks' are late this time around.  I’ve not been online that much and have not got through much of my habitual reading and listening of the week as my podcast consumption has gone through the floor.  That said, I've not let my finger slip entirely off the pulse of the tech law world and have kept my eye out for some of the week's quirkier news stories.  Here they are: Not News: Virgin Media deny clamp-down on hackers.  This one is kind of news because it’s not.  Allegations broke on the net this last week about the ISP branch of the Virgin Empire being close to reaching agreement with the BPI over the '3 strikes and you're banned' policy that the latter want implemented.  Virgin Media have vehemently denied these allegations saying that they have merely held discussions, as have all ISPs but are far from reaching agreement. 

This concept is so fundamentally flawed, it's almost laughable.  Turning IS…

iPlayer placing undue strain on the internet?

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From The Times 10.4.08"The success of the BBC's iPlayer is putting the internet under severe strain
and threatening to bring the network to a halt, internet service providers
claimed yesterday.
They want the corporation to share the cost of upgrading the network —
estimated at £831 million — to cope with the increased workload. Viewers are now
watching more than one million BBC programmes online each week.
The BBC said yesterday that its iPlayer service, an archive of programmes
shown over the previous seven days, was accounting for between 3 and 5 per cent
of all internet traffic in Britain, with the first episode of The Apprentice
watched more than 100,000 times via a computer."
Let's face it, online video is massive. And now there is a truly great offering for quality UK TV delivered over the internet, it's really catching on too. Viewing on iPlayer grew exponentially in March and there's no sign that the iPlay…

Everyone's Feeling the Pressure

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It's that time of year again. The tension and pressure on us poor law students is so palpable you could almost reach out and grab hold of it. Yes, exams are looming, stretching ahead like a barren wasteland of doom, gloom, hard work, and sleepless night.  And by the time we're into May, sore-finger-itis sets in: our poor hands are left raw and cramping - a symptom of gripping pens too tightly and writing too much in too short a space of time. Revising becomes the number one objective and all of us get more than a little uptight, fraught and tetchy as the days of untold torture unravel. As our tempers get shorter and our patience evaporates, co-habiting with a revising law student can prove a living nightmare.
And let's face it: it's an awful time.  A time when we students can frequently be found in a semi-delirious state, chain smoking with strained, bloodshot eyes and tousled hair, slumped over textbooks and surrounded by reams of paper. And some people reckon that li…

The End of the Internet

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Alistair Croll over at Gigaom has been doing some doomsday prophesising about just how the internet might implode, explode or otherwise end.  Much of it is lighthearted scaremongering, but it's important not to forget just how fragile and potentially vulnerable the internet as a whole is to attack.Some of my favourites:“Massive physical infrastructure failure. If an accident involving a couple of cables in the Mediterranean can make the Internet unusable for hundreds of millions, imagine what an intentional attack could do.”“Someone subverts the Domain Name Service. The Internet relies on DNS. But if someone broke — or worse, subverted — the fundamental way in which we find web sites, we wouldn’t trust URLs any more. Phishing would be easy. Own the DNS and you own the Internet.”Perhaps best of all:“The lawyers get involved. The Internet has been an experiment in free speech. That may be coming to an end. Unable to go after the sites themselves, lawyers go after the hosters and re…

Law Actually Hot Picks of the Week

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Another Sunday, another batch of my hot picks. I’ve no idea whether this will become a regular thing or if it's something more of a ‘passing fancy’. As ever, the same rules apply: what follows is a selection of news stories that caught my eye from the last 7 days.Talk Talk says ‘No No’ to BPI proposalCharles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse has vocalised in the last week his disapproval of the music industry’s proposal to hold ISP responsible for customers who download music illegally. He lambasted the idea, quoting his legal team who advised him that trying to hold an ISP responsible in this way is analogous with trying to “prosecute a bus company that takes a shoplifter the shops”. Talk Talk is the first ISP to have responded to the recent proposals that seek to force ISPs to disconnect users who download songs illegally. Dunstone claimed that “consumers had a right to unfettered internet access” and “it’s not our job to control it”. Good call. 'Web-based applications are…

Good Pirates

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From Torrentfreak.com 24.03.08:If you are downloading stuff you wouldn’t have bought in the first place, according to economist Karen Croxson, you are probably doing the company that created the product a big favor. You, Mr ‘Good’ Pirate, are telling your friends, adding to the media ‘buzz’ and driving up sales.Many pirates say that they would never have bought much of the stuff they downloaded or copied. If you fall into this category, you might be a ‘good’ or ‘promotional’ pirate. Croxson says that piracy is only a threat to sales when people who originally intended to buy, didn’t, and pirated instead. The others - of which there a many, many millions - never intended to buy and these, says Croxson, cannot possibly harm the seller.Croxson’s view on this type of piracy is one that I’ve long agreed with. While these good pirates are technically breaking the law, they cannot be said to participating in an act of ‘economic piracy’ – for want of a better term. In other words, while the…

Trouble on Myspace? Dial 999

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From Gizmodo.com 02.04.08Social networking sites like Facebook, Bebo and MySpace may soon have to carry a '999' emergency link to improve the safety of kids online. In a 73-page draft of a report due to be published on Friday by Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, the sites will have to carry ads for the emergency services so that kids can call if they feel they are being targeted by potential abusers.Experts contributing to the report claimed that youngsters are at risk from 'sexual grooming' by paedophiles, bullying and online fraud.I'm not quite sure how practical and effective this suggestion is, quite honestly but at least the Government are examining the problems poses by social networking for young web users.  Undoubtedly, they want to be seen to be doing something, but whatever the reason, this issue is too important to ignore.  I can't help feeling that better education of the risks involved, coupled with technological advances to help filter or restrict som…

The Internet - Upside Down

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What would you do if you discovered your neighbours were piggybacking on your wi-fi connection? - Secure it?- Call the police?- Pay them a visit with a baseball bat?- All of the above? Or, perhaps, mess with their minds?Well, Peter Stevens from ex parrot chose this latter option. Determined not to let his impertinent neighbours get away with it, he split the network and let his neighbours carry on surfing at his expense on one half while he used the other. Then, the games really began. As well as redirecting his neighbours repeatedly to Kittenwar he "set iptables to forward everything to a transparent squid proxy running on port 80 on the machine. That machine runs squid with a trivial redirector that downloads images, uses mogrify to turn them upside down and serves them out of it's local webserver." The result: random text and graphics appears upside down and back to front.  And, as if that wasn't enough, Stevens made an alternation to the code to produce a blur eff…

Google Custom Time

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In keeping with previous 'releases' by Google on 1st April each year, the internet monolith have this time rolled out a new feature to Gmail: Custom Time. This handy function allows users to send email so that it appears to have been sent hours, days, months or even years earlier than when the user actually clicked 'send'.

Here's how Google explain how to use it: "Just click "Set custom time" from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option."

According to Google, there is an upper limit of pre-dating your mail back to 1st April 2004 - the date Gmail was released.

It certainly looks like a neat feature with a multitude of uses, as borne out by the 'testimonials':

"I just got two tickets to Radiohead by being the 'first' to respond to a co-worker's 'first-…