Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ivory

Watching antiques roadshow.

They have a spot on ivory. Antique ivory can be traded, new ivory cannot. Clearly killing elephants for ivory is bad and wrong and should be stopped. Even so, ivory from an elephant from 100 years ago is not something that affects elephants now. That elephant would have died by now.

The debate was on the idea that even old ivory feeds the ivory trade, and that old ivory should be destroyed to try and stop the trade.

Am I missing the point here?

If you destroy old, legal, ivory, you make it rarer. If I learn anything from watching the antiques roadshow, it is that rarer items are more valuable.

If old ivory is destroyed, it must make what is left more valuable and ultimately makes ivory (even new ivory) more valuable, not less. That has to promote trade in ivory, not reduce it!

What am I missing here?

What a strange phishing email


I understand the pretending to be from Lloyds and phishing but why pick ebilling@bt.com as the sender. How is that in any way associated with Lloyds.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

ACE inhibitors - magic cure or annoying itch?

I have been on 2mg/day Perindopril for a month for slightly high blood pressure. It is a very low dose.

What has changed?

1. I can now get drunk (if I want). For maybe a year now I have not been able to get drunk without fear of a debilitating headache all night. Since being on these, I can now, confidently, get drunk. Even (whilst a whisky shipment is delayed) drinking glayva and southern comfort again, as I used to. I try not to get drunk all the time, honest, but it is so much nicer knowing that I can if I want to. The headaches really were bad.

2. I have now got psoriases, apparently as a drug reaction, which is not worth the hassle - so have to go get something else instead.

Why me!?

There are other medications that they can try, and we'll see how it goes. Shame.

Seppuku

Seppuku (切腹, "stomach-cutting", "abdomen-cutting") is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. [wikipedia]

I was recently referred to an interesting page on the idea of Corporate Seppuka: https://www.cryptostorm.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=2954

A number of companies, when faced with orders to become a real-time participant in ongoing, blanket, secret surveillance of their customers, have pledged to refuse, and if necessary wind up the company. Indeed, several recent cases have happened as listed on that site. I am impressed.

As people know, at A&A, we take this stuff seriously, but it is probably worth clarifying a little. If ever we got such an order I don't have the money to just wind up the company the day we get an order, and it would not be fair on customers that would need to find another service, or the staff that need jobs.

So what would happen?

Well, firstly, we have the canary of sorts. Anyone can ask me in irc if we have any "black boxes", and I will happily confirm that we do not. I hereby re-confirm that is still the case. We are assuming that the law cannot compel me to actually lie, especially where it is key to our business and so such a lie would itself be criminal fraud (lying for some gain).

This should mean that any such order is no longer "secret" at the very least. I am sure people would post quite quickly if I refused to answer.

It would probably be a good clue if we started trying to raise money for some unspecified legal challenge.

Of course, if an order is not actually secret, we'll tell people exactly what is happening and when, and what we are doing about it.

Would my staff know?

Of course, depending on the order, my staff may not know as I may not be allowed to tell them. However, they do audit the data centres, and have orders to remove anything not recorded correctly on the equipment database. It is therefore quite possible that some expensive black boxes would be connected, briefly, and then suddenly being very publicly sold on ebay by my staff. I would be powerless to stop them as I would be subject to a gagging order. Ooops.

But what then? Would we really install black boxes?

Not if we can help it. I am very keen that we would not. Any such order would take time. We'd start with challenging the order in the courts. There are many resources we can use and people that would help. This would delay matters at the very least. If what we are asked to do is breaching EHCR, as mass surveillance has been shown to be in the past, we should be able to delay matters a long time.

Whack-a-mole!

We'd also look at fragmenting the parts of the company - something we keep considering for all sorts of reasons. E.g. making a wholesale and retail part and so on. A bit like what BT do, but with actual separate companies. This would make an order on what then is only one of the companies harder to be effective. Indeed, the company with the order may suddenly not actually have any network equipment under its control. Obviously a judge may not be happy with what would effectively be delaying tactics, but as long as what we do at each stage is legal, we can do it. It would mean that the services the company offers would be a mix and match set of companies, contracts and network equipment. Any company ordered to monitor can be swapped out with another new company that has not had any such order, re-assigning contracts and selling equipment as necessary. It should be possible to make it a game of whack-a-mole.

What else?

There are then interesting possibilities with encryption. Sadly the technology is not quite as cheap and simple as we would like yet, well, not to scale up, but it is getting there. It ultimately becomes possible to offer a higher grade of service to customers where traffic is encrypted (in another country) and sent to kit at the customer site where it is decrypted. This could be done with us having no tracking to associate traffic with customers or for the company doing the encryption to know either. Indeed, we have already considered steps that do not involve expensive encryption but just involve several distinct companies in such a way that no one company knows enough to associate a specific customer with specific traffic and DPA prevents these companies telling each other the missing pieces. That would not stop a targeted investigation against an individual suspect, which is fair enough, but it stops mass surveillance and trawling data later.

Would we every wind up things?

We already work in the hardware development of the FireBrick, and sourcing or developing in-line encryption systems is a potentially sensible business proposition for us, and one we could expand. If we can no longer, in good conscience, sell broadband because of such orders, we have areas we can move the business in to, and wind down the compromised business (probably sell it off). Just that it could not happen over night. Not quite Seppuku, but a step in the right direction.

Of course, in the mean time, if any monitoring box did exist, it would be very easy for it to be DDOS'd, and for deliberate random traffic to be sent to it to create vast amounts of mis-direction data.

I hope that explains where we stand, and at least puts off any authority from trying anything with us. With any luck we stay small enough to be no concern.

Friday, 17 October 2014

I never did study history

How did I miss this from a few weeks ago?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/11129474/Extremists-to-have-Facebook-and-Twitter-vetted-by-anti-terror-police.html

Just read that and think about it...

"They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders."

Barring someone speaking in public, no matter how extreme you think they are, can never be a threat to democracy? It is essential for democracy to exist that there is free speech; that all of the views, no matter how extreme, can be expressed. If those views are so compelling and popular that they actually sway the vote of democracy then it is democracy are work, not democracy under threat!

If the only views that can be expressed are those filtered by the existing establishment, then there simply cannot be democracy.

As I said, I did not study history, but 100 years on from events that started some pretty big wars, and ultimately led to the creation of things like the convention on human rights, we are seeing British politicians trying to abolish those basic rights and destroy free speech and democracy.

I have to say (while I still can) that I now think Theresa May is a threat to democracy!

I am not one to go for conspiracy theories, but we know, and can see, that the hype over terrorists is terrorism itself. It is scaremongering to change our views. Terrorism causes a fraction of the deaths and injuries of cars, but is used as a lever to make sweeping changes to fundamental rights. Put things in perspective. Terrorists are criminals and need appropriate action, but we do not need to abandon basic rights to free expression in the name of terrorists. If we do, they really have won.

I know people don't normally say who they vote for, but I will say that I have always voted Conservative before. This is largely because I have not really considered any of the parties to be that much worse than the rest. As the saying goes, no matter who you vote for, the government always get in. Conservatives have been quite good for small businesses in the past, and that is what I stuck with. But now, with statements like this, I really cannot, in good conscience, vote Conservative. I don't know who I will vote for, and I'll consider it. Please don't try and push me one way or the other.

Make up your own mind - do you really want to live in a police state where even the most basic of rights to express your views and opinions is restricted by the state?

Targeted adverts?

A few days ago I went to ledhut to buy some "bulbs".

So now, I am seeing adverts for ledhut everywhere, especially FaceBook. This speediest page has there adverts for ledhut on it. THREE!


I have to wonder what the hell is the point - I already know of ledhut, and I have actually purchased from them. I have purchased all that I need from them, and if I need more I know where to go. Wasting advertising space telling me something I know already seems a total waste of money!

What seems even more crazy is advertising the same things to me three times on the same page!

I suspect someone has sold them on the idea of targeting adverts.

No wonder people get annoyed by this :-)

MTTC

It is bad enough Virgin abusing the term "Fibre", and BT often talk of "fibre broadband" as well, but this latest abuse is just taking the piss.

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/10/devon-uk-village-gets-80mbps-broadband-via-bts-4km-microwave-radio-link.html

http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/6666-microwave-link-helps-northlew-in-devon-go-superfast.html

The good news is that this is providing a fast Internet service to a remote village. Believe it or not, I personally suggested this to BT a few year ago, and got very blank looks from them. There are places where a long fibre run is very costly but a microwave link is viable.

The quote from BT is: "This is just one example of many of an innovative approach to bringing fibre based broadband to remote communities - and that innovation will continue."

He is using "fibre" as if it means "fast". If he means "fast" why not just say "fast"?

I would hope the ASA don't allow them to market "fibre broadband" to these villages, or sell as FTTC!

Having said that, I suspect BT plc are selling services to us for addresses in these villages, as FTTC. I will have to check. We'll have to add a note on our web pages about this I expect and query it with BT.

I have no problem with the service - MTTC is going to be very good, just don't mis-describe it.

I'll post BT's reply.