Sunday, 23 April 2017

The plot thickens...

Unbelievable...

Today I decided to try something else with the Apple TV. I set up another Apple ID with iTunes store account. I then family shared my normal Apple ID to that.

I logged in as the new Apple ID and played episodes via the family sharing.

First episode fine.

Next episode - wants my iTunes password before playing...

And before someone asks, I also tried fixed IP config IPv4 only already.

Next step: physically swapping for another Apple TV

Update: didn't help - Apple TV using my account asked for iTunes password on playing one of the episodes. Arrrrg!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Cursed apple

So where are we with my Apple TV saga...

They are referring to "engineering". That is it...

Latest things I tried...
  • Change apple ID, so if any machines I forgot are trying to log in then they will not know new apple ID.
  • Only have my Mac, Phone and Apple TV on the new Apple ID
  • Turn 2FA back on
  • Turn off home sharing, just in case
  • Log off iCloud, just in case
  • Again, confirm payment details, and actually buy a film on the Apple TV
Guess what - not helping. Still asking my iTunes password, around every hour, on play of episode, or rewind within it. Randomly will not even show episode with "unexpected error" requiring restart.

This is what makes pirating movies easier! If I pirated movies I would not have this hassle.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

I expected better

I had an interesting exchange with a customer this evening.

His internet has been down for an hour and he texted our "Major Service Outage" number saying so and saying he "expected better".

I'm not sure what to say to that - if we really have a customer that expects that a fault, which they have not even reported, is fixed within an hour, out of office hours... What does that mean? If we really have people with that expectation I am tempted to try and sell to them. I expect it will be many thousands of pounds a month for such a service, with multiple redundant leased lines, diversely routed, and a lot of 24/7 active monitoring and staff. I suspect we could do it, for the right price.

Of course, that is not what we normally sell. So if one of our customers expects that they have a serious misunderstanding as to what they have purchased. I try to be honest in what we sell, so I am worried that someone expected more.

At the end of the day things calmed down. I was unhappy as he "abused" our MSO system. It alerts many staff for what could be a major outage. In the evening, not so bad, but middle of night, not good at all. Either way it is staff that are not at work and trying to spend time with family. The reaction from staff that do get the alert was not good, and I took over and was, I have to say, rude...

As per the web pages on this, I was rude. You are asking for a rude reply if you abuse the MSO system! That is what we say!

It turns out he read of the MSO text details on the status pages, which does not have as many caveats. We need to fix that. It is clear it has to be "multiple lines" and so was clearly abusing the system. It was not as clear as the main web page on this. So we can be clearer, I conceded. We'll fix that. Sorry.

Ironically, this fault looks like it may affect 3 lines. It is even an "incident" that TT have spotted. So ironically not something we need to take any action on as it is all in hand. The issue is that this person did not know it was impacting more lines. Our aggregate systems do not spot three lines going down together as that is too few to recognise as a pattern. Good news is it should be fixed soon.

I hope the mix of rude and reconciliatory messages was the right level in the end. We'll see. At the end of the day, expecting a line issue to be fixed within an hour of *not* reporting a fault is special, in my opinion - and I'd be happy to sell such services for the price they deserve...

Let's hope this line is sorted soon.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Talking to apple support

I went through the iTunes email based support, took ages, and no help.

So I called 08001076285, as they suggested, to get support. It is a horrid voice based IVR thing. So I have to say my serial number the first time. This time I said my case number.

Oddly, they are actually very pleasant, so well done on that. I have a dread of calling any tech support normally. I hope our (A&A) tech support does not create the same sense of dread for customers. We have no call gate!

On the first call I explained the issue, and what I had tried. Eventually they suggested one thing I had not ("restoring" via iTunes and a cable). So I have done that now, and hence another call.

I am tempted to publish the call recordings (and annoying hold music). I will have to change my security questions first :-)

Basically, I have tried everything so far...
  • Changing password
  • Turning on two factor authentication
  • Turning off two factor authentication (twice now)
  • Removing all devices from account and starting again
  • Turning off family sharing
  • Factory resetting (many times)
  • Restarting using iPhone, and using manual setup
  • Using cable to "restore" the Apple TV via iTunes
  • Upgrading, many times
Still broken.

They think "something somewhere is asking for an iCloud password, or something" and that is upsetting it.

I removed all devices from my apple ID already, if this is what it is that is mad. I have just logged in to two iMacs and set new passwords. If that solves it Apple are fucking stupid! No way a third party failed login attempt should break my Apple TV. Just broken logic there Apple!!!

P.S. If this works I should do a more controlled test - what if someone just used my apple ID and wrong password, would that break it? If so Apple really are broken!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Julian Huppert - Cambridge

I have met a few MPs, and Julian is (was) one of them (see wikipedia).

The party he stands for is the Lib Dems, and the area is Cambridge.

I have met him, and discussed several policy issues with him. Overall he is sensible in my opinion. More so than many MPs and way more so than some MPs or the PM.

He is educated, understands science, and even rides a bike!

I was not really in to politics until some of the more recent stupidity that started to affect me and my customers. So far Julian has been quite sane in the discussions on the many issues that have come up, and so have the party for which he stands.

Now, some would say this sounds like a mediocre endorsement - but please, those that know me -  this is far from mediocre - I do not endorse someone lightly.

Julian is someone with which I feel that I could have a sane debate, and would listen to my views. If I lived in Cambridge, regardless of the party for which he chose to stand, that would be good enough. He should represent his constituents, and I am confident he can do that. He has integrity and sincerity.

Right now, in politics, we have some crazy shit going down, and the Lib Dems actually seem to be the only ones being vaguely sane right now.

Even if you are not massively in to one party or the other, if you live in Cambridge, please do look at the candidates and take Julian seriously. If nothing else, he is one of the few who could be in parliament with some decent education and understanding of science.

So, if you can, vote for Julian in Cambridge. A voice of reason in these troubling times.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

PGP usage

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) has been around for quite a while now, and the GNU code for it (GNU Privacy Guard, or GPG) is free.

Amongst other things you can encrypt and/or sign emails using PGP.

Unfortunately it has yet to catch on for a common usage. We use it a lot in A&A. We sign the emails we send in almost all cases and have done for decades (I like how I can say "decades" now when referring to A&A). We are just starting more comprehensive encrypting of emails we send as per another blog post.

But it is still uncommon. It is not properly supported in almost any common email clients. I use thunderbird and there is a good plugin (enigmail) which works well, but still a plug-in. It puzzles me a bit as to why it is not a lot more standard in major email clients yet, after all this time.

Of course, one of the big problems, is the "trust" of keys. There is (deliberately) no central authority. Sadly, a central authority model, like that used for https, is way easier for end users. They could automatically trust an email claiming to be signed by their bank because it would be signed by a chain of authority their email client knows to trust. This is the same as the way you can go to https for you bank and know it is them.

There is an email system for this, S/MIME, but even support for that is complicated and not simply included in major email clients, as far as I can see. It also has the problem that individuals want keys, and a central authority model makes that a pain and probably involves paying to have your key signed.

I do think some organisations could do more to encourage PGP. It would be great if Companies House, for example, would sign company keys as a service that is part of managing company registrations. They already have security measures, and they could use the fact they can trust a signed company email as an added feature in dealing with companies. That may encourage more companies to check signatures, and maybe even use company key signed emails as signatures for contracts.

You still have the issue with individuals, but again, organisations that already do security checks, like banks, could easily include key signing. It would be a way to advertise their bank as a source of trust.

Anyway, enough of solving the problems of the world for a moment, the main reason for writing this is that I have to assume more people are using PGP at last...

How do I know? SPAMMERS!!!

I am seeing more and more spam that includes a PGP signature block or a PGP public key block in the spam email. These are usually broken or bogus, which is silly, but they almost certainly look close enough to get an improved anti-spam checking score, and give an impression of more credibility to people.

That would only happen if people really are using PGP more. So, interesting times.

Of course, if people do use PGP more, then spam checking can start actually checking signatures and trust chains, as part of the scoring. Get enough people using PGP, even if only for signing, and we could ultimately eliminate spam (ha!).

Monday, 10 April 2017