Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Yes, playing World of Warcraft is work!

Well, I never though I could say that, but it is true. I am playing games for testing purposes, honest!

I am running WoW to try and test the fixes to IPv6 connectivity to Blizzard.

I am very pleased to say that I have finally found someone in Blizzard that cares. He is trying to get things sorted and I am helping by testing.

It is making progress, though, TBH, my iMac is being slightly odd as well and needed a reboot. However I have some IPv6 working to Thunderhorn realm in World of Warcraft now.

It is a hard job for people within any organisation to champion IPv6. The "benefits" are hard to quantify other than saying "further proofing" which seems so vague at the moment.

The actual routing has changed, as it is now via HE rather than NTT and Telia, but this issue seems to be, as I suspected, a simple config issue in Blizzard. The ongoing challenges are ensuring IPv6 is taken seriously. We know a failure of IPv4 would be taken seriously but the support tickets had no way to progress when it was only an IPv6 issue. Thankfully ISPs and content providers have an IPv6 mailing list which helps the right people communicate.

As ever, I am more than happy to help, even if confidentially, with that. We know what we are doing down to the bytes in the Ethernet packets to BGP and upwards. We have over a decade of experience of this at all levels. So I hope we can work with Blizzard and maybe even see A&A have some really good connectivity to Blizzard and anyone else forward thinking enough to embrace IPv6.

Do feel free to join the A&A guilds, AAISP Broadband (alliance) and AAISP Darkside (Horde) on Thunderhorn realm.

I now have two level 100 characters, and my grandson is playing as well as (apparently) his headmaster at school! I think reading the quests and understanding what they say could be a good learning aid.

Update: Working now!
Update: And not now - intermittent, but may be a sign that they are working on it - yay!
Update: I think they may have it fixed (Friday 19th)

Saturday, 13 December 2014

"Squirrel Man" - the most ineffective super hero ever!

"Roofing Man" - my hero!
Did Bracknell Forest Council mis-sell their services?

We had a slight problem - a squirrel in the loft. I posted a while ago about this. I managed to work out what the noise was and where the bugger was getting in. But what to do about it?

Well, like most people, I expect, I have not really had to deal with anything like this before. If you look up pest control you find a lot of companies out there, and like many tradesmen it is not always obvious how you can get a good job and a sensible price and not ripped off one way or another.

However, I checked the local council. I would not expect them to necessarily be the best or the cheapest but they should get the job done for a fair price, I would have expected. I should be pretty safe from being ripped off, or so I thought.

I spoke to them, and yes, squirrel in a loft, no problem. That is one of the more expensive ones to sort, £150, and is three visits. It seems it was in no way an uncommon problem for them to sort.

Well, the squirrel man cometh, and, well, he puts down some poison bait. But he makes if very clear that this won't actually sort the problem! It may sort one squirrel, but another will come along. We will have to get a roofer to sort the hole where he gets in! Well, I cannot be certain if it is the same one or not, but the bait was eaten and the squirrel was still making a noise in the loft a week later. His answer, on his second visit, was to put down more bait, but again, making it clear this will not sort the problem. This time the bait is not touched, but we still have a noisy squirrel in the loft!

Finally, the roofing people we contacted were able to fit us in and find and fix the hole that was letting them get in, for £80. We scared the squirrel out of the loft first. And that should sort the problem.

My concern here is that I am not sure how the man from the council has, in any way whatsoever, actually helped with sorting this problem. The problem is solved by the roofing man. Rage man from the council said that simply putting down poison will not stop the problem of squirrels in the loft - so why does he even do it? Why does he even exist? What have I paid the council for - doing something which will not solve the problem that I went to them to solve.

I cannot see how that is not blatant mis-selling. When I called they should have said "You need a roofer to sort the hole, we can't do anything that will solve the problem", and not taken my money. Instead they took my £150 over the phone and have done nothing to solve the problem. How is that not a scam?

Interestingly they also did not tell me of my statutory right to cancel, and have not in fact come back for their third visit. I cannot help feeling I have been ripped off by Bracknell Forest Council.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Unfiltered advert!

We ran an advert in Linux Voice magazine recently, which included the title text "Home::1 BROADBAND, F*CK FILTERING". It was meant to be a bit of a play on words both as "We don't want filtering", but also on the type of material that filtered by default by large ISPs. I am more than happy to be criticised for it being in poor taste, and I apologise for that. Thankfully most people did find it amusing.

However, to our surprise someone raised a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority!

Even though a tad bad taste, we were a bit surprised by this. But if gets odder.
  • The complaint was that it was irresponsible as the readership included children?!
  • The complaint was submitted with a photograph of the advert. But what is extra strange is that it was not one taken by the person complaining, but was one taken by one of our customers who posted a link to the picture on an irc channel. That channel has quite small readership, and is almost entirely existing customers as well as people with a sense of humour and a place of definitely adult conversation at times.
We have no idea who it was that complained, though the ASA screwed up quite badly as they left the EXIF data in the photo. Had it been taken by the complainer, we would have been able to work out where and when it was taken very accurately. As it happens we traced it to the customer that took it, and we were able to confirm it was the same picture he posted in the irc channel.

The ASA clearly have no clue on handling personal information!

Another thing they have no clue on is copyright law. Obviously we are not lawyers, but they were emailing around, i.e. copying, a photograph of a magazine. The photograph was copyright of the photographer (our customer) who had not given permission for the complainer or the ASA to copy it. The subject of the photograph is a magazine, which is likely at least in part to be copyright of Linux Voice. And finally the advert that is the subject of the picture is our copyright.

Now, the usage in this case may possibly come under the "fair usage" exceptions in the copyright act, I am not sure, but when we pointed out the copyright issues to the ASA their reply was rather bizarre! They said that they were using the photo :-
  • Not for commercial purposes
  • Not disseminating it any further other than for our reference and ASA council
  • That the ad itself was "public domain" anyway
None of these are valid excuses for breaching copyright. If they were, then copying a CD (public domain) for a mate (not disseminating far) for free (non commercial) would be fine under copyright law. At no point did he suggest it was fair usage or that it was covered by some other legal loophole allowing it. It suggests ASA have no clue at all on copyright.

They also had some interesting points on confidentiality - they said the case was confidential. We asked on what legal basis that was the case (half expecting there to be some law on the matter) and they basically had nothing. No contract or agreement with us. No legal requirement. Their only suggestion was that if we published anything then they would not take any further comments from us in defence of the case, and that publishing could prejudice the case?! Anyway, that being their reasoning, there is no reason not to publish their ruling now.

I'd like to thank the guys from Linux Voice as they were helpful in addressing this. We think it is their first ever ASA complaint too.

Anyway, the good news is that the complaint was not upheld. Linux voice is not a children's magazine, surprise surprise! Of course, the whole thing is rather daft, as most of these sorts of cases are, even if upheld - by the time we got the complaint we had finished running the advert anyway!

I include the PDF here journalistically for criticism, comment and review.

2014-12-12 Adjudication (Final)-1.pdf

So, our advert is not filtered either - yay!

Mind you - I do wonder if we should run an advert in "unfiltered", the Scottish Malt Whisky Society magazine. I'll have to ask.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion

This is a statement one hears from time to time, usually in some debate or disagreement. In many cases, with questions and topics both big and small, it is true. Many things are a matter of opinion. There are even legal frameworks ensuring people are entitled to faith and worship to protect some such rights.

The problem is that it is not always true - not all issues are a matter of opinion, some are a matter of fact and in such cases you are not really entitled to a wrong opinion, well, any more than you are entitled to be insane.

Of course, saying this (even without saying "insane") will get the reply "well, that is just your opinion" and that makes it somewhat hard to progress any sort of debate.

The good news is that opinions can change. This happens all of the time. I hope we can all agree that it is a good thing for all concerned for disputes to be resolved where possible. Unresolved disputes can lead to anything from a broken friendship to global war, so resolving disputes is good, surely.

When there is a dispute it normally means that the parties have differing opinions. Of course, in some cases, the opinions really do not matter, and have no impact on anyone else, so the debate need not actually be resolved and one can "agree to disagree". There are however cases were an unresolved dispute causes further problems for parties concerned, and so resolving it is a good idea. Resolution is, ideally, by rational debate - with both sides explaining the rationale behind their opinion, and considering new factors from the other party, and ultimately one or both parties changing their opinions. Ideally, the outcome being that both have the same opinion in the end, or at least compatible opinions allowing the matter to be settled.

So, where does "everyone is entitled to their opinion" fall down? I think a good start is considering cases where this does clearly apply.

  • There are cases where some issue really is totally and purely a matter of opinion because there is simply no right answer. "What colour should I paint the bedroom?" is perhaps a good example.
  • There are cases where there may be tests and rules that help establish which answer is better than another, and may help form a consistent opinion, such as "You'll want a light colour in a bedroom". However, even these "tests" or "rules" are often a matter of opinion in themselves, and you end up with a question of what criteria should apply to deciding what is the right answer.
  • Some questions have plagued man for so long that philosophers over the millennia have written at length on the ways to consider the right answer. Some times we think we know the answer, but even then there are issues over whether there is a "right answer", such as "Is it wrong to kill a man?" - well, if you are the executioner for a court where there is a death sentence, maybe it is or maybe it is not. What if not killing that man today causes a million people to die tomorrow?
  • Some times the criteria for testing the answer are clear cut, well established, agreed by all. It could be that he criteria is framed in the question. In such cases, a right answer, or at least a way to test if one answer is better than another, can be agreed.
  • Some times the criteria are clear, but the answer cannot be tested until later. This can be the case on deciding a policy for something. Only later can one say that it was perhaps not the right policy to have chosen.
On these last point, a good one would be "What lottery numbers should I pick for next week's draw?". This does, itself, carry assumptions in the question such as "assuming the UK national lottery", and "assuming I want to pick valid numbers for which I could buy a ticket", and "assuming I want to maximise the money I make". Of course there are questions like "Should I buy a lottery ticket?" as well.

So, the answer is a "matter of opinion" at the time, but you cannot really say "in my opinion the answer is 1, 1, 1, 1, 1" as that is not a valid set of numbers. It is a wrong opinion if that is the opinion you have, and provably so - just go try and buy a ticket with those numbers! You cannot stand there in the shop and insist "I am entitled to my opinion, and that is my opinion, you can't say I am wrong, give me my ticket". Well, you can say it, but we are back to the "entitled to be insane" comment from the start of my post. You have to agree that you are not really entitled to that opinion, and that an opinion can in fact be "wrong".

Of course, even when you are considering valid sets of numbers, there are "tests" for one set being a better choice than another. All number sets are equally likely, but the lottery organisers have said that some combinations are picked by people more often, like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or combinations that make patterns on the card, or values 1-12 and 1-31 as people base them on dates of birth. So picking 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is a "bad idea" because, if that is the winning draw, it will be shared with loads of people. You should pick the least common sets (which they could not publish as next week they would be the most common sets!).

However, ultimately, there is a "right answer". The actual drawn numbers, when they happen. Ironically, if the draw turns out to be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, then that was the "right answer" even if shared with thousands of people, as it is the answer that gives the most money.

So opinions can become "wrong", in hindsight, but we are "entitled" to have had that opinion at the time. What gets in to "insane" is stating later, "no, I was right to pick 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6" when the draw has now happened and was not that set of numbers and you won nothing. You have to accept that, once the facts are know, your opinion can turn out to have been right or wrong in hindsight.

The problem comes when people try to challenge demonstrable facts with contrary opinions and their only argument is "everyone is entitled to their opinion".

I think we can all agree how we "test" which lottery numbers were drawn and hence how we can test if the opinion on which will be drawn turns out to be "right" or "wrong". But some people do not understand that there are plenty of "tests" that exist for other things. We have centuries of well established scientific method in terms of testing things and establishing things to be fact. We also have well established principles for statistics and probabilities. So even when something cannot be proved, such as proving a negative, we can assess the likely best and right answer.

Some times the answer depends on the question, and there is opinion on what is in fact the right question. Knowing the right question makes the right answer easy to find. "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" should be an easy one. But you have to make huge assumptions about the question, and the assumptions dictate the answer. Even agreeing that at some point in the past two "not quite chickens" mated and laid an egg that hatched in to an "actual chicken" based on some criteria for defining what is and is not a chicken. But if the question is "any egg", then there were things laying eggs long before chickens existed, so "the egg" came first, it just wasn't a "chicken egg". So you clearly, for the question to pose any conundrum, we mean a "chicken egg"? "Which came first, the chicken or the chicken egg?". Well, depends what you mean by "chicken egg" - how do you define that? If you mean "An egg that contains and hatches in to a chicken", then that first egg came before the chicken in to which it hatched. If you define "chicken egg" as "an egg that was laid by a chicken", then the chicken that laid it came before that egg. The question always has a simple "right answer", but the problem is that there is no "right question", and which question you should ask is a matter of opinion. One perhaps has to go back to considering why the heck anyone is asking such a daft question in the first place!

In a FaceBook debate yesterday the question of whether mediums are fake or not came up. People likened it to religion (which is deliberately untestable) and spouted the "everyone is entitled to their opinion". The problem is, just like lottery numbers, the claims of a medium can be tested. Even something as simple as a locked box that only the dead person knew the combination. There are lots of people that die, and many take secrets with them that can be tested. There are prizes that have been put up and never claimed. So unlike religion, this issue is much more like lottery numbers. But the "test" is massively biased to the mediums - they only need one irrefutable case ever and they prove their claimed skills are real. To assert that they are fake then we have to have no cases of them proving to be real, which is a hell of a "test" to pass. But it does pass - we have never had a case where any of these prizes have been claimed, so mediums are fake. It does not get simpler than that.

We also have people that can do the same "show" as a medium, that are just as convincing, that have practiced cold reading, and are happy to explain how they do it and explain how it is just a trick. It is like any magic trick nobody can explain and so people believe is real - except that one day the trick is exposed and explained and now everyone knows it is just a trick and how it is done. Cold reading is that! It is a trick that you can learn to do, that you can read about, that you can see done and see explained. The trick is exposed and so know you know it is fake and a trick and you can stop believing that it might possible be real magic now.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Medium

Whilst I am probably a "large" these days, that is not what I mean.

I am actually starting to get annoyed by people that are friends of relatives that are spouting crap (on FaceBook, where else?!) suggesting that somehow "medium shows" are somehow real. There are people that have been suckered by cold readings and think there is communication with the dead somehow!

Cold reading is very clever and there are well practiced people that can do it one to one, and those that are perhaps less capable that do it with a large audience (where they can start by picking the people they talk to from a group, which is one step easier). It really is clever stuff, and makes you think the reader has knowledge that they could not have.

Cold reading can be really entertaining done as part of a magic/illusion show. It is impressive. But as any professional magician will tell you, it is a trick, a good trick, but a trick. Read the wikipedia article. You can learn to do it yourself if you want. There are books on it.

What worries me is not only that some people have been suckered in to this themselves, which is sad enough, but there are others that know it is all fake and somehow think it entertaining to see people in the audience clearly fooled in to thinking they have a message from a dead relative. People moved to tears, even. And that this is somehow "entertainment"! This is nothing short of exploitation, and somewhat distressing to see. They don't even finish with "only kidding", and somehow it is quickly forgotten by those present that they start by explaining that it is only for entertainment purposes.

That final point - that they tell you it is for entertainment only - is forgotten to such an extent that one person posted that they have never heard any medium say that. It would be worrying if they did not as the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951 (which repealed the Witchcraft Act 1735) makes that a criminal offence which they only get around by saying it is not real and is only for entertainment. Yes, we have been trying to stop vulnerable people being ripped off by charlatans since 1735!

There are prizes sat waiting for anyone that was genuine and did talk to the dead - obviously never claimed, because it is all bullshit.

Whether you believe in fairies, unicorns, star trek or some sort of deity, in your spare time, I don't really care, but don't think this crap is real when they say themselves that it is not and when it is easily explained by cold reading techniques that are well documented.

Being entertained by seeing someone else fooled and emotional when they have lost a loved one, is somewhat sick if you ask me.

But I am sure there are shows that are entertaining, and not exploitative, maybe. If there are, and you enjoy the show, then great, but don't be fooled in to thinking any of it is real, like any magic show.

Have fun!

Update:

The debate has raged on, and one of the key points raised is the notion that this is at all like religion. That believing in a medium is like believing in a god, and a faith and everyone entitled to their own belief. I have to say strongly that this is not the case with a medium claiming to talk to the dead. Unlike most religions that are carefully designed to avoid questioning or testing of the religion, the idea of talking to the dead is very much something that can be tested. It is possible to test if someone comes up with information that only a dead person would know - even something simple like a locked safe that only the dead person knew the combination, but by any number of similar and properly testable means. This is a testable claim and there are many prizes for genuine mediums to claim if they can pass such tests. So this is not a vague matter of faith or belief - it is a matter of testable fact. Next time you talk to a medium claiming they are real - ask them, on stage, why they have not claimed the prizes offered? If they say they do not want/need the money, ask why they have not claimed it to donate to a charity - why deny a charity $1,000,000 if they are genuine?

Update: All rational discussion has clearly ended...


Quiet?

Well, I have several things brewing which will make some good blog posts - but they are better posted as the whole story when finished. One on spammers, one on TPS, and one on the council, at least :-)

As for Blizzard, they have stated that they do support IPv6, and even emailed me for a tcpdump. They then ignored me again and again! They have changed things which has removed the delay as they now send a firewall response to the IPv6, so still broken. Oddly the first reaction to my blog on the IPv6 mailing list was :-

The good old "lets make a uninformed news article to force them to do 
something that nobody cares about" post. I don't see any signal there.

Which is odd, as I did not consider myself "uninformed" on this at all. Also odd, as on the IPv6 mailing list where Blizzard announced the IPv6 support originally you would think it was not something "nobody cares about" either. Oh well.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Blizzard drop IPv6 support?

Whilst the rest of the world are adding IPv6 support, Blizzard seem to be dropping it.

That is the only conclusion I can draw as they have a number of realms not working on IPv6 at present, and still have the setting default to unticked.

IPv4 addresses have run out, and already ISPs are struggling with messy systems like Carrier Grade NAT. IPv6 is the current version of Internet Protocol and once again brings the Internet back to the way it was designed. For gamers this means less messing with the traffic, either by their own router, or systems within the ISP.

Looking at this in more detail, and looking at a similar forum post from someone else back in October, it seems that they are using SLAAC assigned (MAC based) IPv6 addresses for servers. This is just lazy, and means that any change of hardware can cause the address to change. I can only assume that has happened and they have failed to update server IP lists or DNS to use the new address. They should probably manually assign IPv6 addresses.

If it had been the IPv4 address not working, they would find a way to fix it.

The problem is that they are totally uninterested in fixing this, which, to me, means that they HAVE WITHDRAWN IPv6 SUPPORT for World of Warcraft. They closed the ticket I raised (EU47550106) as "resolved", even when it clearly is not. They have simply ignored at least two forum posts (they suggested I post to the forum when closing the ticket), 12365247226 and 12844094863.

It is a real shame. I was impressed when they launched IPv6 support a few years ago. They were ahead of a lot of people. Now we see FaceBook, Google, and lots of content via IPv6. Even large ISPs are finally planning IPv6 deployment (A&A did it 12 years ago). The Internet is finally growing up, except for Blizzard. Poor show.