Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Taking a step back

Not sure I'll be posting for a bit on spam, but I do aim to post the outcomes.

We have a long list of people spamming me, especially to the titanic.co.uk email address which is unequivocally a personal email address for myself as an individual subscriber. Many are from UK companies.

So we have the Huxley / SThree case - we are awaiting reply but expect to sue for breach of contract as they never adhered to their own settlement agreement which they even told the court was agreed.

We have the Deane case, which just got sillier and sillier until his "silver bullet" that I was shareholder and director of the owner of titanic.co.uk, something of a shock to poor Simon (who does own it). They have no defence now, and the ICO agrees we are right, so only issue is what to claim as damages and go to court.

We have a load of others, some I have claimed £5 or £10, some more. Some I have claimed by email. Some I have claimed by recorded delivery letter to registered office. The list is quite long. We have many awaiting any sort of reply.

We have the pre-action conduct directions, which I am trying to follow carefully, and give everyone the chance for ADR via discussion and negotiation before they settle or go to court.

We are also asking a local solictor about this - and I plan to pay for a short meeting to discuss the regulations, how I assess costs as an individual, and if there is a way that costs can be set in stone by a company paying compensation to the recipient under a contract and then itself claiming costs. We need to know what they think is valid, and moral, and will work in a court. There is no intent to rip off anyone here - we want, I want, a fair compensation for the significant hassle and costs caused by spam and I want spammers to be discouraged - all of the objectives of the legislation.

If I can come up for a formula for this  - a way of approaching UK spammers, and issuing a county court claim, which basically makes the whole business model of spam in the UK fail, I will have achieved my goal. I expect some approaches to fail, and even some court cases may not go as planned, but unless someone is prepared to try this then the problem will just persist and grow.

So, over the coming months I expect to issue some county court claims and see how they go, and report back. In the mean time, back to censorship, cats, and other crap.

Update: OMG! Someone just spammed me on a personal email address trying to sell me TPS/MPS screening services.

Well fuck.me.uk Russia

Apparently Russia is to ban swearing on the Internet!

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130729/08564023982/russia-to-ban-swearing-internet.shtml

[You see what I did there, fuck.me.uk is a domain name not a swear word, honest]

It just goes to show what happens when you allow censorship to creep in.

And, of course, nobody is going to invent new swear words, or use, you know, normal words out of context to mean swearing, that could never happen, not in the Russian language. Duck me! that could never happen.

I was wondering if I should set up something for email addresses on some of the more interesting domain names I happen to have. Obviously, to do it right and ensure it is covered by The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 I would have to ensure a contract exists with me or A&A as a service provider and the users of these email addresses. Is their likely to be much call for email forwarding for email addresses @fuck.me.uk and @bugger.me.uk at all do you think? I was wondering if I should do something like £1 a year or something

It would be a shame if your email address was not allowed on any Russian social media site, or will it only be Russian swear words, I wonder.

The ICO agree, excellent

The ICO have a complaint form for spam, here.

I was fooled by question 2c which referenced waiting 28 days after asking someone to stop. What I had missed was that question 2a says to skip that if you have no relationship with the sender.

The ICO sent a helpful response to my query and explained this. I am impressed.

They also stated, very very clearly :-

"Firstly, I would confirm that your understanding of Regulation 22 is correct; that is, if a company sends an unsolicited marketing email to an individual subscriber without their prior consent and/or without satisfying the conditions of the soft opt-in, then they will be breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations."

You don't get clearer than that - thank you ICO. I will be quoting that in future letters and emails to spammers.

Trying to wrap this one up...

I would like to finally bring this matter to a conclusion.

Taking stock here - your only apparent defence to my claim was your
assertion that I was shareholder and director of the company that owns
titanic.co.uk and that somehow this meant I was not an individual
subscriber.

You now know: (a) that your assertion is factually untrue as I am not
shareholder, director, or even employee of the owner of titanic.co.uk,
and never have been, and (b) that the registrant and registrar of a
domain is unrelated to whether the recipient of an email is an
individual subscriber. The regulations define both subscriber and
individual, and this relates to the contract for the relevant
communications services and nothing to do with who owns a domain.

This leaves your only defence defeated.

The facts of the case are that you sent an unsolicited direct marketing
email to an individual subscriber that had not given any prior consent
to the sending of such email and as such you have acted in breach of
section 22 of The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive)
Regulations 2003. Under section 30 I am entitled to claim damages for
such a breach.

I trust that you now agree these facts. They are supported by evidence.

You currently have no defence to this claim. You have, however, stated
that you will not be settling my claim, confirming that discussion and
negotiation has now broken down.

Without prejudice, I am prepared to settle the matter in full if you
make a payment of £10 today.

If you are not prepared to settle the matter today, then I am
considering taking legal advice on the value of my claim. In particular,
the consequences of your breach have now led to some 28 emails being
exchanged. Each email uses resources on my Internet connection and
computer systems, wastes my time, causes distraction and annoyance and
distress, and delays reading of other emails. Significant stress has been
caused by you repeated accusations of fraud and scamming. It also breaks
my concentration, which is important for my day to day work designing
and developing software. As you rightly point out, I own and run a
company so disruption to my day to day work has an impact on my final
income. I see from other successful claims by other people under these
regulations that claimants have won amounts ranging from as little as
£270 to well over £1000. It seems to me that with appropriate legal
advice I may find I have severely underestimated the damages I have
suffered and may be in a position to revise my claim.

It is, of course, entirely up to you whether you want to risk not only a
court case (having now exhausted discussions and negotiations) but to
also risk a much higher claim for damages.

If I do revise my claim, I will, of course, give you time to respond to
the revised claim and an opportunity to resolve the matter without going
to court as per the pre-action directions.

I look forward to your prompt reply, and payment.

-- Adrian Kennard

Monday, 29 July 2013

Junk call tar pit still going

The tarpit is still going - catching a few.

3:44 to one of our mobile numbers

1:40 to one of our mobile numbers

And, apparently, we are going to get free calls - loads of strange CLIs call this one...

30 seconds recording

Some of these are really quite funny. We are trapping around 350 calls per day, by the way.

And section 21

So, not content with breaching section 22 of the The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, they are now trying to breach Section 21 as well, though that would be damages claimed by A&A not myself personally.

Here is the call recording of someone claiming to be John from IT Solutions trying to get an email address for me for some reason. Oddly they call from the number listed in several places as Deane Computer Solutions and one digit away from the fax number listed on his emails from them. At around 1:15 it says "it's just a sales call really".

2:01 WAV recording

What can I say?

Update: He has found my blog at last, and wants the call recording removed.

He admits they made the call "I asked a young/junior member of staff (not me) to call your office to get your work email address, so I could email you at work as a representative of your organisation."

No idea why he wants to contact A&A. The blog is not A&A's and the court action is not A&As. Why would he want to contact my employer? Strange.

Apparently "Your approach and the manner in which you have conducted yourself in public forum is not conducive to a resolution."

Anyone else find a problem with the way I have conducted myself? Just curious...

Check Mate!

On 29/07/13 11:00, Darren Scott wrote:
Mr Kennard,

The domain "titanic.co.uk" is owed not by you but by a limited company for which you are shareholder and director.  If you wish to processed you'll need to have them raise the matter as a limited company.
Thank you - finally! Now I see your mistake.

The domain titanic.co.uk is registered by Dedicated Programs as you can
see from the Nominet whois data.

I am not owner nor director of Dedicated Programs. I do not work for
Dedicated Programs. My connection with Dedicated Programs is as a customer.

I, personally, purchase email services from Dedicated Programs. This is
a simple matter of fact which I can easily prove to the court as I have
the latest bill from Dedicated Programs for the email services on the
email address adrian@titanic.co.uk. The bill is addressed to me
personally at my home address.

I am the subscriber for the email services on the email address
adrian@titanic.co.uk and I subscribe as an individual. I am the
individual subscriber and I am acting in this claim and any court case
as an individual recipient of the email in question.

Now that you see your mistake I trust that you will:-

1. Concede that you are in breach of section 22 of the regulations
2. Cencede that I am entitled to claim damages as per section 30 of the
regulations
3. Apologise for accusing me of instigating a scam or a fraud.

I look forward to your setting the damages claim promptly, unless you
believe you have some other defence.

-- Adrian Kennard Individual Subscriber
Update reply:
Then you might want to get the registrant information updated!
It is almost as if he thinks that the domain registrant is relevant.

Vexatious defendant?

Not sure if there is such a thing, but this really does surprise me now - and sorry that my blog posts are all on the same subject of late - it was too long to post in a comment.

It seems somewhat "brave" to clearly state, and not "without prejudice", how you want to cause the other party as much costs and inconvenience as possible and how you are deliberately refusing to state your actual defence up front!

It is going to be worth £25 court fees for amusement alone.


Mr Kennard,

I have really tried to be patient with you. 

I had hoped:
·         you would file a claim
·         we would request the listing be held in a court near us
·         you would have to travel to weymouth
·         the court in the first session would allow 30 mins
·         you would rock up and present your claim and base it on past success, and your interpretation of regulations
·         the judge would state that given the back ground reading the case would have to be adjourned
·         you would have to travel to Weymouth again
·         you would argue the case again, we would then present a defence.
·         You would loose on one very key fact which you and others over look
·         We get awarded costs. (£275 + VAT an hour for our lawyer)
·         We would ask the judge to challenge previous instances where you have extorted monies from individuals and companies.

We would then go to the online fraud website and submit an overview of what has happened, your self-declared previous successes, point to the verdict of the court and make a complaint

I had hoped this would happened because you incur maximum costs, why, simply because of your approach and conduct during this matter.

If you are serious, get qualified representation.  The UK legal system deserves better respect than you give it.  Judges, barristers and lawyers are qualified to consider this matter, you sir do not appear to be.  Whilst I fully support every man’s right to have his day in court, I do believe they have better things to do than have their time wasted addressing, ill-conceived cases. 

If however you would like me to explain the reasons why you do not have a case, cover the costs of my solicitor writing to you and I will happily engage them to do so.

With this in mind, please do one of the following:

·         Pay the fees, and start claim proceedings
·         Get representation
·         Agree to cover the cost of our solicitor, writing to you.

Regards

My reply...


On 29/07/13 08:38, Darren Scott wrote:
Mr Kennard,

I have really tried to be patient with you. 

I had hoped:
·         you would file a claim
As you should know, I can't just "file a claim" - I have to try to
resolve the matter without going to court as per the pre-action conduct
civil procedure rules, which is what I am trying to do here. Once that
fails I can then file a claim.

·         we would request the listing be held in a court near us
And I can request the case is heard in Reading County Court as would
normally be the case where an individual is suing a business.

It is also possible that the case may be heard by written evidence and
not a hearing anyway.

·         you would have to travel to weymouth
Nope, you would have to travel to Reading.

·         the court in the first session would allow 30 mins
Doubt it would take that long :-)

·         you would rock up and present your claim and base it on past
success, and your interpretation of regulations
I would, of course, present evidence of your breach of the regulations
and my claim for damages.

·         the judge would state that given the back ground reading the
case would have to be adjourned
Why - the case is clear cut - you have breached the regulations, you
have not stated why you think you are not in breach and seem keen not to
follow the civil procedure rules

·         you would have to travel to Weymouth again
Reading!

·         you would argue the case again, we would then present a defence.
Well, you are meant to try and resolve this before going court - so
present your defence *NOW* rather than waiting for two hearings.

·         You would loose on one very key fact which you and others over
look
Which is what - exactly?
State that "key fact" now.

·         We get awarded costs. (£275 + VAT an hour for our lawyer)
Small claims track does not award costs for lawyers.

·         We would ask the judge to challenge previous instances where
you have extorted monies from individuals and companies.
Your email shows that your refusal to try and resolve this matter
without going court is simply vexatious - you are deliberately refusing
to state any actual defence with the express aim of causing me
additional inconvenience and costs as clearly stated above. I will
present your email as evidence to the court.

We would then go to the online fraud website and submit an overview of
what has happened, your self-declared previous successes, point to the
verdict of the court and make a complaint
This is not fraud - it is my legal right as per section 30 of the
regulations to claim damages from you.

I had hoped this would happened because you incur maximum costs, why,
simply because of your approach and conduct during this matter.
Again, you are re-iterating that your actions are vexatious - attempting
to incur maximum costs for me in this matter.

If you are serious, get qualified representation.  The UK legal system
deserves better respect than you give it.  Judges, barristers and
lawyers are qualified to consider this matter, you sir do not appear to
be.  Whilst I fully support every man’s right to have his day in court,
I do believe they have better things to do than have their time wasted
addressing, ill-conceived cases. 
For the sums involved the small claims track of the county court is
perfectly sensible and for which a qualified representative is neither
required, expected or cost effective.

If however you would like me to explain the reasons why you do not have
a case, cover the costs of my solicitor writing to you and I will
happily engage them to do so.
No, you are expected to try and resolve this without going to court.
You are clearly refusing to do so.

Just state your defence now - your reason why you think I am wrong, and
that will (if it is valid) be the end of it.

With this in mind, please do one of the following:

·         Pay the fees, and start claim proceedings
·         Get representation
·         Agree to cover the cost of our solicitor, writing to you.
I would not agree to cover your solicitors costs and would not have to
even if I lost a case against you in the small claims track of the
county court. I am amazed that you think this is acceptable pre-action
protocol.

Your email makes it clear that you are not prepared to resolve this
matter without the case going to court and I reserve my right to proceed
to a county court claim without further notice in due course.

-- Adrian Kennard

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Guardian fights back


The statistics are shocking. According to the Mail, "four out of five 16-year-old boys and girls regularly view pornography." People who are only just old enough to consent to actual sex are allowed to watch it on screen. Parents are helpless to prevent their children viewing pornography on the computers they allow them to keep in their bedrooms at night. It's the kind of massive and complex problem that only a newspaper campaign can tackle.

He makes some good points.

More from the spammer.


Mr Kennard

I could not have been more clear and succinct in my email to you.  Your persistence in this matter further highlights your ineptitude.

However in an effort to humour you, and with a view to prevent you attempting similar such actions as you have alluded to, we would simply make reference to the very same document that you refer too: “The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003”, emails sent and received.

When read in context to your circumstances it will, as has before been demonstrated before the court that your claim is without foundation.

Your prior ability to solicit monies from others is not indication of the validity of your case, nor as we have demonstrated, would prior successes before the courts.  It simply demonstrates that the defended was either also poorly informed, poorly represented or simply opted not to defend the matter and paid you monies, simply to halt your pursuit.

I trust this will bring an end to the matter, and you will cease and desist.

Update: I'll post replies as comments for now.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Finally a list provider is spamming me

So, Thomson spamming me..

I am actually trying to tackle the whole issue of damages here - how do I quantify the cost of receiving a spam or a series of spam - often it can throw me off my train of thought and cause significant stress and annoyance but rarely means paying extra cash to anyone. It costs A&A tens of thousands in spam filtering servers, hosting, power, networking, staff time and so on.

What I am proposing in this reply is one of several tactics I am trying out. The idea here is to make the damages a clearly demonstrable cost by making it part of a contract for the email services (just with me personally for now). This has not gone to court yet, and I have not collected the money from the company yet.

I am open to other ideas - I think £50 is not an unreasonable level of damages, and some other sites tackling spammers suggest that it should be much higher even as a personal claim.

Anway, my reply to latest spam:-
On 27/07/13 18:33, Thomson Data UK wrote:
> Hi Adrian
> 
> We’d love [redacted] to try us as a supplier for business
> marketing data.
> 
> Our permission based B2B UK Data holds just over 695,000 records.  Full
> information fields are included with an email address with every record.
I would love to know how you identify which of the email addresses in
your databases are held by an "individual subscriber" whereby it could
be a criminal offence to send unsolicited marketing emails. You even
have to take in to account cases where an email address may have
previously been that for a contact at a business, and is now supplied to
an individual subscriber.

Notably, you failed with regard to the email address to which you have
sent this email. In light of this please take note of the following.

NOTICE BEFORE ACTION!

You have transmitted an unsolicited communication for the purpose of
direct marketing by means of electronic mail to an individual
subscriber contrary to section 22 of The Privacy and Electronic
Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

Andrews & Arnold Ltd provide spam filtering services to the subscriber
for this email address, and provide compensation to the subscriber for
emails which get past the spam filtering. The compensation claimed by
the subscriber in this case is £50 as per our terms with the subscriber.

As such Andrews & Arnold Ltd has suffered a loss of £50 because of your
breach of the regulations. Under section 30 of the regulations, Andrews
& Arnold Ltd is entitled to take civil action against you for damages.
We hereby claim damages from you for costs of £50.

Should this matter go to court we indentd to rely on your email as
evidence of your communication contrary to the regulations, and a copy
of the contract between the recipient and Andrews & Arnold Ltd as to
damages incurred as well as a statement from the recipient confirming
consent was not given for transmission of such emails.

In light of pre-action conduct directions under the civil procedure
rules for action in the county court small claims track, and in
consideration of the sums involved we invite "discussion and
negotiation" as a means of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), via
email. If we receive no reply within 14 days, or if this discussion and
negotiation does not resolve the matter, we will proceed with a county
court claim without further notice.

Please send your payment to:-

Sort Code 20-16-99
Account   30170666
Reference A1209A-PECN0090

We may report this matter to the criminal enforcement authority for such
breaches. They may take action and involve the CPS as well as issuing
fines. If you choose to resolve this matter promptly with a payment we
will refrain from doing so in this case.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

-- Adrian Kennard Director Andrews & Arnold Ltd UK Company 3342760

Writing code in my sleep

Not sure if I blogged this before but being a s/w engineer most of my life I occasionally find I have been working on code in my sleep.

I have woken to realise I have found a bug which is exactly where I think it will be when I check, having somehow tested changes and debugging in my sleep and reviewed code I had not looked at for a long time whilst in my dreams.

It is scary.

On some occasions I have written code in my sleep, which is the most disappointing thing to realise, as you then have to write it again while awake. Worse is if you do not realise until later that you only dreamed of writing the code and thought that you really had written it right up until you came to use it.

I had a funny today that was almost the other way around.

I had an issue from a customer and I realised that what was needed was a whole section of code that handled cases where SIMs did not authenticate with username or password. I worked out I would have to code the whole system, faking a PAP or CHAP response based on configurable parameters picking what to use as the "faked" username and password and so on.

I had been busy all week and so putting this off until this morning. But finally I put aside some time to code it.

I made a start and was a good 5 minutes in to coding when I realised that there was code already there, slightly later on in the code. It covered it all - a range of options for where to optain a meaningful username and set a default password. It was svn revert time.

Only now do I recall, in a haze that was a week in an air conditioned villa in Greece while the rest of the family sat by the pool in the sun, I had in fact already allowed for this and coded it. Not a dream this time!

All I had to do was point the customer at the config options!

I must be getting old and/or losing it :-)

Pre-action conduct

There is an interesting document that is well worth reading before taking court action. The Pre-Action Conduct practice direction.

It covers what you should do before taking someone to court. I knew the key matters anyway - giving notice of your intentions, providing enough information to resolve the matter, giving enough time (e.g. 14 days) for a response, and so on.

It also explains that a number of specific pre-action protocols exist. The main ones I have ever been involved in - simple breach of contract or collection of a debt are not specially covered by particular protocols.

One thing I was not fully aware of, and I have to thank the letter from Huxley / SThree for pointing out, are that some form of "Alternative Dispute Resolution" should be considered (ADR). Yes, I know saying ADR is somewhat like swearing anywhere near me but this is not quite the same as the "ADR schemes" that The Communications Act insist on for communications providers.

Thankfully ADR is not compulsory. The court may require evidence that the parties considered some form of ADR. They do say "appropriate form of ADR", and so the cost of various forms of ADR are highly relevant.

They also say that ADR and the practice direction itself should not be used as a tactical device to secure and unfair advantage for one party or generate unnecessary costs.

The types of ADR include, at one end of the spectrum "discussion and negotiation", and then go on to mediation, evaluation by an independent body, and arbitration. Pretty much anything apart from "discussion and negotiation" would, as I understand it, cost a lot more than using the court and so be "unnecessary costs", if the claim is for a small amount.

The main thing seems to be that some form of ADR was considered - so always worth - at least - suggesting that ADR by means of discussion and negotiation is offered. At least then you can tell the court you tried.

So, it seems I give them a few more days for "discussion and negotiation" to break down and then take them to court for breach of contract (assuming they are as intransigent as they seem to have been all along).

If I lose the case for breach of contract, at least I can then continue with the case for spam. Their defence to that was quite long, but the good news, due to a quirk of the way we have clueless set up, is that I personally have been paying (albeit 1p per full moon) for email on aaisp.net.uk and aa.net.uk domains for many years making me the "individual subscriber" for those domains. I, personally, as the recipient for those emails, did not give consent for them to spam me. That should mean we still have a good case on the spam case if ever it goes to court.

P.S. I have just written a few follow up emails to spammers as well as Huxley/Sthree quoting pre-action conduct practice directions and it makes one feel very empowered that one is following the processes. I have invited spammers, including Deane Computer Solutions Limited, to consider discussion and negotiation as ADR before I take county court action.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Interesting reply from spammer

Not sure what to make of it:-

Good morning Mr Kennard, 

Many thanks for taking the time to put your concerns in writing.

You do appear to be well read with regards to the various regulations and acts.

That said you are completely wrong. In fact it is you that is committing a criminal act, trying to extort monies from individuals or firms by miss representing the law.

Let me be very, very clear, we have not breached any such legislations.

If you which to pursue the matter, please do so as the last person that did so, attended four court hearings, was found seriously wanting and lost.

That said I have asked that your email address be removed.

I trust that brings an end to the issue.


I have re-read the regulations a few times - it seems very very clear to me - so I have asked the ICO to confirm. We'll see what they say.

Update: My latest reply:-

Invitation to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In light of the Pre-Action Conduct Directions as part of the Civil Procedure rules we hereby invite you to consider resolution of this matter by means of Alternative Dispute Resolution. In light of the sums involved the only ADR process that seems appropriate, and is not likely to represent an unnecessary increase in costs for either party, is "discussion and negotiation" as per 8.2(1) of the directions.

We therefore invite you to provide details of the documents on which you would rely should this matter proceed to the county court small claims track. Based on these documents we are prepared to discuss the matter further to find a resolution without going to court.

In particular, as you have indicated that you believe your actions are not in breach of section 22 of The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, we invite you to provide any evidence that I (the recipient of the offending email) consented to the transmission of the email as per 22(2) of the regulations, or that you obtained the email address during negotiations or sale by you to me as per 22(3)(a).

If I do not receive a reply within 14 days I will assume you do not wish to continue with such ADR and I will have no choice but to proceed with a county court claim on the small claims track.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Where are we with spam now?

Well, firstly, the one court case (against Huxley) is getting silly. They agreed to settle in no uncertain terms and then changed their mind, so I am probably suing for breach of contract which is not very satisfying. If I lose that i can still proceed with the spam case though.

But I have been chatting with other ISPs and we are really seeing an increase in this new type of spam.

  • From UK companies
  • HTML emails
  • Well formed enough to pass spam assassin
  • Sent to somewhat silly and often made up email targets (one ISP said they seemed to be trying whole dictionaries)
  • Showing company name, company address, company number, even VAT number, making it easy to action.
  • Including an unsubscribe link
It gives me the impression that this is some scammers selling UK companies junk mailing, and probably telling them that following some rules means they are legal. After all, company name and registration details and unsubscribe links!

We have had replies suggesting senders believe they meet ICO guidelines and are complying with Data Protection Act rules by having an unsubscribe link. So what?

None of this addresses the Privacy an Electronic Communications Regulations issues that we are trying to tackle. I don't think I am going mad here, read the regs yourself. The regs are pretty clear, you cannot send unsolicited marketing emails to an individual subscriber unless the recipient has consented to you sending or the email address was obtained from a sale or negotiation to the recipient by the sender and it is email about related products and where there was an unused opt out at that time and each subsequent time.

I know that is long winded, but key things from that are:-

  • The recipient has to have notified the sender of consent. If I notified company A of consent, and company A sells to company B, and company B sends email to me then that is not valid as I have not notified that sender (company B) of my consent.
  • Even if company A got the email via sale or negotiation with me and gave me an opt out which I did not use, as sold to company B, that is not valid as company B did not obtain by sale or negotiation with the recipient.
It seems to me that saying that you "bought the list" (even from a reputable supplier) is an admission of guilt - you are making it clear that you, as sender, did not meet the rules for obtaining the email address or getting consent.

The ICO need to make this clear on their web site and tell spammers that it is illegal.

I have had two key issues with trying to get money out of spammers:-
  1. It has to be an individual subscriber. It turns out that I am the individual paying A&A for the email services on all of the A&A domains, so even for "company emails" I am the individual subscriber, and for many I am the recipient of the email. So that is sorted. However, I have many emails to mad- up email addresses at some of my .me.uk domains. This is very clearly an individual subscriber with no doubt. Even the domain has to be registered to an individual. So I'll probably try action for these emails first.
  2. How to asses the damages. This is where I am getting creative by arranging that A&A will pay the subscriber (me) £50 compensation for a spam getting passed the filters. That means A&A have suffered a clear and demonstrable loss as a result of the breach of the regulations. Section 30 says: "A person who suffers damage by reason of any contravention of any of the requirements of these Regulations by any other person shall be entitled to bring proceedings for compensation from that other person for that damage". It does not require that the person suffering damages be the recipient, so A&A can then sue for the £50 damages. Worth a try.
So next step is to action one of the 60 or so warnings sent in the last week. I need to allow the full 14 days I offered in my notice, and should pick one of the more clear cut cases of a .me.uk domain which is an email address I have never used ever (I don't go by the name Rachel, even at weekends) and so did not provide to any list or web site or forum. I'll post how it goes, but it will take weeks.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Kite Griffin Solicitors, Bracknell

We seem to have found some good solicitors.

Both myself, and my colleague Alex, have used them on personal matters and as a company we have now had some advice from them.

As with most people, encountering solicitors is rare, so difficult to form an opinion. Encountering other people's solicitors is less rare and usually one forms an opinion quickly and not necessarily favourably :-)

So far I am impressed.

We had a case a while ago where a Dr Godfrey was threatening legal action against us for defamation allegedly committed by one of our customers via usenet. It was long ago, and we did not even run the usenet server at the time (uunet did). The whole thing caused us some real hassle as uunet pulled our (only) transit feed with no explanation, apparently because of threats they then received. It took most of a day to reconnect it, and only after we assured them the person was not a customer any more (his wife was by then, so it was a true statement even though nothing had changed technically). That is all water under the bridge now, but at the time we did take legal advice (not from Kite Griffin) and the instant reaction was advice for us to disconnect the customer!

My reading of the legislation at that time (and it has changed since) was that if we did something knowing it may have resulted in more (alleged) defamatory comment we could make ourselves liable, but otherwise we were in no way liable as we simply provided the connectivity. So we did not disconnect the customer's line (even though, later on, we did, by agreement, change the name on the account). We knew that disconnecting him would piss him off and more posts would be made, and that he had many means to access usenet at the time, not just via us (so disconnection would not serve to stop further posts anyway).

Now, this time, we have some implication of possible action for defamation from LSM over my blog posts. Not quite outright "we will sue you" stuff, but "talking to my solicitor" and so on. Enough to be a concern.

I was really quite impressed that Kite Griffin's reply was not an instant "take down the blog post" response. They rightly say that this is a specialist area, best resolved without legal action, and amicably if you can, and that they would take a look for us. They have since said that my blog posts seem very fair and unlikely to be a problem. They went in to some detail and provided what seems to be very sensible advice.

This is what we need - not someone jumping to conclusions or suggesting the "safe route" all the time, but giving careful considered advice on matters. They know the law way better than any of us (with our "facebook law degrees"). I can see us using them much more over time.

On the personal matters they seem efficient and reasonably priced.

Finding a good solicitor is going to be really useful, I am sure. And they are really local (Bracknell town centre).

Oddly solicitors don't seem to do a lot of advertising, so I hope a positive blog post like this is good for them.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Talk of censorship gets an audience...


Active choice

I suspect this will not meet the wording they are expecting, but we'll do our bit for offering active choice.

The order page now has :-


You have to choose one or the other - if you choose censored you cannot proceed with the order :-


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Free speech, what does it mean?

As, once again, the nanny state is in the news with Cameron wanting search engines to block specific search terms. That is, of course, crazy, especially as people like google already remove listings for child abuse images when they are identified.

But once again it raises the issue of censorship of the Internet.

To be clear here - I am against censorship of the Internet and in favour of free speech.

I feel strongly that free speech is so important that even the cries to censor "just to stop child abuse images" or "just to stop terrorists" do not justify censorship.

I am however forced to consider what free speech means and why I feel so strongly.

Even though I sucked at history and politics at school, some key messages got through. It is clear that governments want to control their citizens somehow. Some control, and some laws, are good for all, but it is easy to see how that can get out of hand. How control to limit the minority that are not able to work well in a society becomes control of everyone just in case. We see it now, even in a free western democracy that is the UK. We see laws that seem hell bent on making us all criminals for no good reason. We see policies aimed at surveillance and control justified without any proportionality, just with emotive topics like "child abuse" and "terrorism".

I wonder if Randal Munroe can do one of his brilliant statistical comics comparing the number of laws in the UK on various topics with the number of arrests and number of convictions and number of people affected. I bet some legislation would stick out like a sore thumb.

So, if free speech is important, what does it mean. What does a concept of "free speech" mean in practice. And I have personally given this much thought now. I have not gone off and read lots of philosophy on the matter, or even read 1984. I am just trying to work out what it means to me, exactly.

I think I have some kind of answer. The idea is that communication itself should not be "wrong". It should never be an offence to communicate, as such. However, things that are wrong that inherently require or use communications can be an offence.

To try and illustrate what I mean, the classic "shouting 'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre" scenario. Apart from the fact that it probably does not have any impact without some supporting factors (like smoke, flames, or other people running), the theory is that doing so could cause panic, injury, and inconvenience which is wrong and so should be punished. The counter argument is that you are restricting free speech if you are not allowed to shout 'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre.

So which is it?

Well, I think the answer is simple, it is not the speech, not the shouting itself, that is wrong. After all, if there really is a fire and it has not been detected, then it may be considered exactly the right thing to do. So clearly the "speech" is not the issue. That is fine. It is what comes behind it. If a person shouts 'FIRE!' in a crowded theatre when no fire so as to cause panic and injury and inconvenience, then it is that action - the "doing something intended to cause panic and injury" action that is wrong and should not be allowed, not the speech itself that is wrong.

This sounds like a very subtle distinction, but the difference does have an impact. If the speech is always "allowed" then you can never condone gagging people you let in to the theatre as a solution. You have to tackle the actions people take and the intentions they had, not the means of communication itself. If we truly had free speech we would not be allowed to gag the pirate bay or child abuse images at the ISP level.

When you get to child abuse images, you are picking a topic so far at the wrong end of spectrum it is hard to say anything against cries for censorship without being seen as a supporter of something repulsive and wrong. But I really do not feel that the communications or even possession of the images should be the issue here. It is the abuse itself that is the problem and needs stopping. Bear in mind, as the law stands now, a badly drawn cartoon could be seriously illegal to have in your possession even though its production caused nobody any harm, and even if it was produced with no intention to be a child abuse image or endorse or encourage such. We have already pushed this in to the realm of "thought crimes" and perhaps not actually done enough to tackle the underlying issues of abuse.

The current political comment focuses on stopping what? searching for images, not on stopping abuse of children - are we missing the target here? Nothing being proposed adds any more to hinder those abusing children or those that are able to access such images (like they use google to find such images?!?!). All it does it pander to the cries of "something much be done" without really doing anything to help.

The problem is that it is a call for censorship, and that is bad. We need open communications in the world to keep governments in check. The second we go down the road of censorship we are opening Pandora's box. This is not speculation as we have seen it - filters put in place only for IWF blocking of child abuse images are (as far as I know) already being used to block alleged terrorist sites and by civil court orders to block sites alleged of encouraging copyright infringement. Something so far from child abuse images you could not get - copying material for personal use is (as far as I know) actually legal in some countries, and even here it is often a matter of a civil wrong justifying damages, and not an actual crime - yet the same systems designed to stop only the most heinous crimes is being used to stop something considered "OK" by a lot of the population and even some whole countries. It shows how these things get distorted - no system will ever stay as intended, no matter how pure those intentions are.

Thankfully we still have an environment that allows an unfiltered ISP even if major ISPs are bullied. One day we may find that is not the case, and all Internet access will be censored. Who controls the censors - well, that information will probably be censored - the IWF list is, for example, confidential. Of course, in such a world, there is a slight irony: Because of the laws on child abuse images there are encrypted secret networks used by those wanting to find child abuse images (as I understand it) - so they will be the only ones without a censored Internet. The law abiding citizens are the ones suffering censorship.

Out of interest, I wonder if the politicians have stats for how many children suffer child abuse to create child abuse images, and how many children are actually killed by cars. I would bet the latter is massively more significant yet somehow searching for cars on google is allowed.

Politicians need help to understand the most basic technology

ORG have produced an interesting article today
Cameron demands action on child abuse images

"Should we, therefore, care? We should: it is embarrassing for our Prime Minister to stand up and demand a policy that is likely to be of highly marginal impact, and discuss it as if it was of vital national interest, while failing to concentrate on the real answers."

Well said - what the hell is Cameron doing?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Something is wrong on the Internet?

It never feels like the day has properly started when Randall Munroe is late with his XKCD post. I suspect millions of people around the globe are all slightly concerned that he may be unwell.


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Leodis Sports Management Limited - F1 Silverstone 2013

I am very keen to ensure this post is absolutely factually correct, given that LSM seem to be threatening to take action for defamation over my previous blog posts.

We were offered F1 tickets for Silverstone 2013 as a "package" and I thought it would be a good idea as most of the staff are keen on F1.

I spoke to LSM on the phone, and we agreed an "all in" price. I have the call recording of this. They gave the impression that it was somewhat urgent, and sent a booking form to be signed and sent back right away to secure the tickets. I signed and sent back.

The original details, and the telephone call, and the large print at the top of the booking form were very clear - they stated the venue and date, and stated the package price, the VAT and the total. Then there are a list of detailed terms, which is known as "small print" and was in fact print that was very small. This included a statement that a ten percent booking fee would be invoiced at a later date, 4 weeks before the event.

I signed the terms without reading all of them in detail - after all the key matters of the contract had been agreed on the phone - what we were getting, and how much "all in". The figures on the top of the contract were as agreed, good.

I was, of course, concerned, that this was a scam. We had to pay in full up front [except that it wasn't actually in full was it?]; then we were told we would not get the tickets until a few weeks before the event; then this booking fee invoice arrived (which was, in fact 20% of the package price, not 10%); we were told we had to pay before getting tickets. We paid, under duress, obviously; what choice did we have? Then we were sent an itinerary and wrist bands, but not tickets. We were then told we would get tickets on the day. You can, perhaps, see why I was concerned that this was some sort of scam (and I said as much on my previous blog post).

The one bit of good news here is that the tickets were real. When we arrived we got tickets, and breakfast. We got the meal after the event, and so on. The meal was in a private room in the adjacent hotel - that was, apparently, the "private suite" part of the "Grand Prix Race Day". I do not personally believe it was what I was led to expect or that it was particularly good value for money, but in that respect it was not actually quite a scam, so my fears were somewhat unfounded.

I do apologise to LSM if anybody thought it was an outright scam, although I think I did make it clear that it was simply a concern that I had, and not an allegation or accusation, just a fear.

However, we are still left with this "booking fee". On the day we got the invoice we queried it, and were told that it was on the contract. Only when I said I had checked the call recording and the price had been agreed "all in" did I get an immediate email saying that I would get a credit right away. They don't even deny saying they agreed an "all in" price.

Eventually, after some chasing, we got half of the booking fee. After more chasing we are now told that they will not be refunding the rest - that I signed a contract, and that is it; that they did make a mistake charging 20% not 10% and refunded the difference but no more.

My view is that we agreed a price "all in" and they then did not honour that. My view is that they then agreed to credit the booking fee - my email was very specific about the amount and the reason for asking for it back and they agreed to credit. Now they are refusing to.

This is where we get in to opinions to some extent...

I personally cannot see any valid commercial reason for the price quoted not to include the 10% booking fee. It is not like VAT (which they did quote on the booking form) where we may be able to reclaim the VAT and as a business transaction the VAT is irrelevant - the booking fee is always part of what we have to pay for the package. If they can tell me some legitimate reason for not including the booking fee in the "headline" price, then I'll let you know - I just cannot see one.

In my personal opinion, the only reason one puts this booking fee in as a separate item in the small print, and not in the main details on the invoice or the original advert or the telephone call is to catch people out. They admit that other companies have been caught out by this, so they know it happens. We have a call recording of this admission. If the purpose was not to catch people out, why not change the form and processes when previous customers had been? Why keep doing this knowing you are catching people out and annoying customers unless that was the intention in the first place?

In my personal opinion, the only reason to invoice the booking fee separately, later, is to ensure that customers cannot back out - having paid the bulk up front which is, by then, non refundable, customers are stuck and have to pay. Indeed, they have a cancellation allowed up to 16 weeks before the event, but they don't invoice the booking fee until 4 weeks before, ensuring it is always too late to back out.

These last points are my personal opinions here, and I am happy to entertain other possible reasons and welcome LSM commenting on this themselves.

It is a shame - they are clearly concerned over my previous posts - when they said they were going refund the booking fee I explained that I was happy to post a positive blog post about how they were "true to their word" and so on. Sadly they have chosen to take this rather negative view on the matter. Pity.

I hope this post serves as a warning to people to check the small print, always.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Get your email from Yell?

Well, spammers are replying to my emails to them. I have not taken any more to court - waiting to see how we do with Huxley.

However, I am concerned that many are saying that they bought a list from a "reputable list provider", and in one case named "Yell" as a supplier.

Obviously if I had put my email on a list it may be argued that the spam was not "unsolicited". Though I have to wonder what list one could opt-in to where you agree to be sent junk mail.

Then you have the interesting point that if someone else put one of my email addresses in to such a system, that is not me, so not valid. Though they claim to be people that check the emails (emailing them to double check you did sign up), which should avoid that.

Clearly this is a ruse as I did not put the email address on any such list of site. The email address in question is one I never use.

Anyway, to try and thwart that annoying argument I have set up a new email address specially for this, that I will never ever use to send emails and I will never ever put in any web sites or opt in lists.

So, don't email me at adrian@i-hereby-opt-out-of-any-marketing-emails.me.uk

The idea being anyone saying that I opted in to a list gets told to read the email address and think again. No idea if a judge would understand the point here. Maybe one day I'll find out. But it is a clear English statement that I am very much not opting in.

You canna' change the laws of physics, cap'n

So, we are playing with a satellite line from twoway.

They seem to have rather quietly created a rather impressive service. For around £25/month for the lowest residential tariff you can get 20Mb/s down and 6Mb/s up.

It was easy to set up, in fact, after playing in the car park yesterday, today I simply plonked it on the gravel by the office and turned it on and it worked first time before I had even aligned it. A bit of tweaking got the SNR from 2 to 10dB, but it was that easy.

Plug a laptop in, download a file, and see and average over 20Mb/s transfer speed. Wow!

But, those damn physics police insist that you can't go faster than the speed of light, bugger. The round trip pings are around 700ms. Bear in mind that it includes switching delays and the up-link being in France (we think).

This is a problem. TCP does not do 20Mb/s over 700ms. Do the sums. It means 1.7MB of transmit buffer at the sender per TCP session. I checked, and the config on a typical linux box was 128kB. You can put it up, and use window scaling (TCP only does 64KB without it) but that would mean reconfiguring every server on the internet to which you wish to communicate.

The 700ms is a big issue. Consider the normal "go to a web page", which includes a DNS exchange, an initial SYN/SYN+ACK exchange, and then several stages of "slow start congestion window" on TCP to get to filling its tx buffers before hitting a limit of maybe 1.5Mb/s.

So, the service must be doing something special. What you can do is fake the TCP session at both ends, telling the sending server that the packets have, in fact, arrived at the laptop, when they have not. You then send them (reliably) over the satellite link, with your own acks and retries somehow. It means buffering in the network, and is not very nice as the sender gets a false sense of security, but for most practical purposes that is not important. It allows the transmission over the high latency link to be managed in a different way that is fine tuned to allow for the high latency, presumably with selective resends and so on.

Of course, as soon as we get clever and tunnel traffic over the link, we lose that. Hence getting a little over a 1.4Mb/s transfer rates per session. We are being clever as we want to use a mobile and/or slow ADSL link to support the satellite by sending small packets (ACKs, DNS, etc) over the low latency link. This reduces the round trip latency which helps, but still does not solve the whole TCP window and startup issue.

So, next challenge, we have to make a system to do this TCP spoofing logic ourselves. Not a small project, but the rewards should be a stunning service with low latency interactive response time, but high throughput in the middle of nowhere... I'll post when we get the time to do this.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Net firms raided over broadband 'throttling'

Come on BBC. That article is lacks any clue as to what basis legal European Commission competition officials have to raid anyone.

It seems that Cogent have made allegations that must, at best, be commercial in nature, and may amount to some breach of contract, if contracts prohibited traffic shaping. Surely there is nothing criminal, and surely only something criminal could possibly justify any sort of "raid".

The accusations appear to be "alleged uncompetitive market practices by the three firms." and "The "throttling" made Cogent's services appear to be slower than those being run by the European ISPs, it said."

If the ISPs have a contract with Cogent, as many do, that may impose conditions. But ISPs do not have contract with Cogent if they do not want to. If Cogent do this sort of crap, then why would any ISP risk dealing with them.

It is almost worth calling for all ISPs to block all traffic via Cogent. It would be easy to do, and if it is legal, it would put them out of business. I am not calling for such, but surely actions by Cogent that are causing some major ISPs problems, "raids" even, could lead to that sort of action from the ISP community.

If not a contract with Cogent, then, as I understand it, any ISP and anyone running any corporate network or their own firewall, can choose to slow or block any traffic they like based on any criteria they like. It is common, and completely normal, to "prefix stuff" and use other metrics to steer traffic via carriers for commercial and technical reasons. It is not a big leap to shape traffic via some carriers.

If we did link to Cogent directly, we could choose to do so via a 10Mb/s link which would be full and make all Cogent traffic look slow. That is not good for our customers, so we won't do that, but I cannot see it would in any way be illegal and justify any sort of "raid".

If that sort of thing was illegal, then you have all sorts of issues. ISPs could not risk any links getting full for fear they were seen as running an over capacity link to make the carrier look bad. A DoS attack could put you in breach of a law.

Heck, there are ISPs blocking people based on court orders based on commercial interests of copyright holders. ISPs providing services to schools block all sorts of traffic. ISPs shape all sorts of traffic for all sorts of reasons.

As far as I know, whilst ideals of "net neutrality" have been discussed, they are not a legal requirement yet and fraught with complex issues in defining what would and would not be allowed. It is a complicated area, and one to which I do not know the answers.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Free

As you know, I hate TV adverts, and when one just offered me some phone and pad "FREE! for just £25 a month" I just have to cringe.

How long before the local shop are selling a mars bar "Free for just 50p".

It is not FREE if you are paying money FFS. When will people stop lying on TV!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

War on spam

As a friend of mine just put it "International 'viagra' spam is fairly easy to smash with SpamAssassin but the recent proliferation of Legitimate UK companies spam is much harder to filter."

I have to agree - it seems UK companies are buying lists from database suppliers and sending spam. The argument, I am sure, is that it is not unsolicited as people have "registered" with the database supplier, but really, does anyone ever actually sign up to get random spam? I'd love to know what people think they are signing up for.

So far I have been sending polite emails like this :-

You have transmitted an unsolicited communication for the purpose of
direct marketing by means of electronic mail to an individual
subscriber contrary to section 22 of The Privacy and Electronic
Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

This is not a Data Protection Act issue, or an issue with your
"unsubscribe" link - the regulations have been breached by sending an
email without having had a sale or negotiations with me and without my
consent to the email being sent.

You now owe me damages as per section 30 of those regulations. If you
promptly pay £10 in damages I will not pursue you for damages as per
the regulations or report your breach to the ICO so that they can
consider fining you.

I look forward to payment of £10 within 14 days or I will issue a
county court claim against you without further notice.

For your information I have issued county court claims for such
damages in the past, and I have collected damages from other spammers.

Send payment to ...

In general I am not getting a reply. However, sending the same as a letter to registered office has managed one response, from someone offering to send the £20 (oddly, he offered to send to a charity if I wanted?!). So another win.

The problem is that it just means one of my email addresses has been removed. It has not stopped them sending spam generally. What we need is the ICO to set up a few domains with wildcard email addresses, for individuals, and see how much UK spam they get. Then they can threaten the spammers with fines properly.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

On the loo

So, call someone, and they answer whilst on the loo.

Who is more embarrassed?

Does the person say where they are, or hope that "noises off" do not give the game away?

What is the etiquette?

Over centuries etiquette has evolved for almost all situations, but now that we have mobile phones, there are new circumstances that need new etiquette.

Personally, I would only answer a call whilst indisposed if I knew the caller would be suitably amused or understanding of the situation.

Even then, if I do not own up to being on the loo, what do I do if the call goes on too long - wait and not flush the toilet. That raises questions of why I did not say earlier.

I really do not know the new etiquette for this. Whilst I have answered calls, today was a case where someone answered a call from me and I was not sure what to say. I said I would call back.

Comments?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

*

We are trying to get more and more customers on the new VoIP server at A&A.

Most customers with a SIP phone or SIP client are just working, which is good news.

We are, however, trying to move asterisk customers over as well. This seemed to be working, but we are hitting some issues. We're not sure yet if we should use its registration feature to act like a SIP phone, or configure direct incoming calls from our call servers, or configure incoming authenticated calls. Getting asterisk to handle incoming calls is proving to be a real challenge. One of the issues with SIP as a protocol is that the INVITE does not have a setting to say "I can authenticate", so you have to work out from the headers if you want to challenge the caller or not. Getting that right in asterisk is definitely a trick, especially when the call server has multiple IP addresses in DNS. So we'll still working on the finding the right config for that. This plan is to set up asterisk on the bench and work it out next week.

However, even when we work around that, we ran in to a snag. Using asterisk and SNOM phones, we have had an issue this week where the SNOM phone could not put people on hold or allow call transfer.

Mike (my customer) and I have been working on this several times now, so I said we would find it one way or another this morning. After about 3 hours on it this morning we finally solved it.

The symptoms were complicated...
  1. This did not go wrong on a fresh new clean config on asterisk, but we needed to work with an existing large and complex config.
  2. This did not go wrong with all snom phones that are connected, and seemed it may be s/w version related, but not 100% clear and seemed like older software worked.
  3. This did not go wrong with all carriers. Calls from the old A&A call server, and from other carriers worked to the same phones.
  4. This did not go wrong with outgoing calls, even where they go via A&A's new servers.
  5. This did not go wrong on any internal calls on the asterisk box.
  6. This did not go wrong for all numbers on the A&A call server even, some worked, mostly the direct dial in numbers.
  7. When you press hold the phone says something like failed on the screen and drops the call, but the caller gets silence for a couple of minutes before the call clears.
We have finally found it. Well, found what causes it. It looks like an asterisk bug which has always been there.

After chasing a lot of wild red herrings, the final clue was when Mike sent me SIP traces from the phone. I wanted a trace of the failure that caused the phone to show an error. Mike sent me traces several times, and I kept berating him saying that they were just the trace of the call set up, not the hold. Eventually we realised that the snom did not even try to put the call on hold, so there was no trace of that! I was then looking at Supported: headers (not needed for hold) and wondering if OPTIONS could be an issue and all sorts. Holding a call should just work as it is simply a re INVITE with adjusted sdp. It was a while before I spotted the problem on the trace of the call from asterisk to the SNOM. I was comparing the headers for a call that worked and did not. It should be hit me sooner.
(IPs and numbers changed to protect the innocent).

Working:
Contact: <sip:0123456789@192.168.1.1>

Not working:
Contact: <sip:0123456789" <sip:0123456789@192.168.1.1>

How the hell did I not spot that before - I am going SIP blind I think. If the Contact: is broken, it is no wonder the snom cannot send the INVITE to put the call on hold, or a BYE, or anything. Poor thing. It is also possible a different version of snom code (an older one, as it happens) might have managed to parse that mangle.

So, I tracked down the original call from A&A to asterisk, and it looks like the display-name part of the From: or Remote-Party-ID: was the issue. This is put in to the calling number, i.e. the From: header when sent to the phone, or should be! When there was no display-name part, it worked.

Working:
From: <sip:0123456789@172.16.1.1>

Not working:
From: "DK:0123456789" <sip:0123456789@81.187.30.111>

Some experimentation shows it is the colon in the display-name. The RFC allows this in the display-name, unescaped, so it is 100% valid. We use a prefix tag like this ("DK" in this case) for people wanting to see which hunt group was called (hence working for DDI calls). I can only assume we did not use a colon on the old call server. The fact the clean SIP config on asterisk works suggests it is setting of the CLI or CLI name in the config which fails to process the name with a colon in it and generates a display-name which asterisk then fails to correctly escape when sending the call to the snom. Getting rid of the colon fixes it.

Also working:
From: "DK 0123456789" <sip:0123456789@81.187.30.111>

Causing:
Contact: "DK 0123456789" <sip:0123456789@192.168.1.1>

Arrrrrg!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Digging a hole for themselves

Huxley are now telling the court that they did indeed offer to settle, but by mistake they forgot to say that their offer was "Subject to Agreement", and that they since tried to rectify that mistake.

So they have now stated to the court that an agreement was reached and now stated to the court that they did indeed make that agreement without reservation, albeit claiming they made a mistake in doing so. The letter to the court saying agreement had been reached must have been another mistake as well.

Their letter makes the facts clear - they offered to settle and I accepted. So I have now asked the court to change my claim to one for breach of contract whereby they have simply not paid the £30 they agreed to pay, and the letters to the court are my evidence of their unconditional offer and their agreement (telling the court we had reached agreement).

This will be a way simpler case to win - show the judge the letter where they offered, my reply accepting, (contract formed) their letter telling the court we agreed (proof they got my acceptance), and bingo.

Actually, thinking about it, even their claimed mistake does not change things. If their offer included "Subject to agreement", the fact they then wrote to the court saying an agreement had been reached means, well, that agreement had been reached and so the "subject to" is satisfied.

What fun.

Spammers 0:1 RevK, again?

Huxley said they were settling, and even wrote to the court to say so.

No money arrived.

Now they are saying that they need me to sign a 3 page settlement agreement which includes an agreement to remove items from my blog and not post about this or the settlement agreement.

They seem to think that my blog "infers[sic] that we have accepted liability". Given that I posted their letter which clearly states that they were settling on a without prejudice commercial basis, I can hardly see how my blog could imply that they accepted liability. It would have been nice if they had taken responsibility for their actions, but that was clearly not the case.

They think they can buy my silence by paying me the £30 that they had already agreed to pay. They also think they can get me to agree to remove things from any other website, public platform, or portal - as if I had the power to do that!

I have not agreed to the agreement to keep the agreement quiet!

So, lets see them in court! I am looking forward to it.


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Good for the environment?

As several people have noticed, the Dell 3330DN printer offer from ebuyer is a tad special.
  • You buy a printer for £174.99
  • You get a free Ricoh printer as well
  • You claim the £75 cash back from Dell
  • You send the Ricoh to Dell as a trade-in and get a further £100 cash back
So, you end up with a Dell 3330DN printer with toner for -1p.

So the Ricoh printer, unopened, is recycled. It means these Ricoh printers are made and then destroyed without ever being used. Dell even pay the postage for the returned printer!

What's the betting this is Dell claiming on some government scheme for saving the planet by disposing of old printers. That must be good for the environment, no?

To top it off, as a company, if we buy this, we get to reclaim £29.17 VAT in the purchase, but the cash back has no VAT, so we make £29.18 on each printer we buy.

And, of course, what you then do is sell the printer on ebay for some small amount.

What a strange world we live in some times.


Spammers 0:2 RevK

So, the other spammer paid up.


And the solicitors for Huxley have said they have sent £30 by BACS.

What more can I say :-)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Spammers 0:1 RevK

Huxley are settling, £5 for spam and £25 court fees.

The other spammer that said they would pay the £10 I asked for, hasn't. So maybe I'll point out that I have already got money out of spammers by going to court and see what they say...

Monday, 1 July 2013

Silverstone F1 2013

Silverstone went well. We took all the staff that wanted to go (which was pretty much all of them). Fun event for all. Although I don't recommend walking around the whole track in the sun with no hat - my head is killing me (sun burn). I think everyone enjoyed it.


The company that sold it to us have still not refunded the phantom booking fee they agreed to refund, and re-reading their original description of the event it was a far cry from a "private suit" at Silverstone. My overall opinion is we did not get good value for money. That is to say we paid far too much for what we got, not that what we got was not a fun day for all.

It is actually the first time I have done Silverstone. We had some fairly good grandstand tickets. National Pit Straight, not the start/finish line, sadly, but a good place to see some over taking.


The camera worked well. I was not the only one with a 70-200 L USM lens, as you can see. It was a toss up whether to use the x2 or not. I ended up using it for many of the shots. In that light, 140-400mm f/5.6 was fine for getting fast shots. I settled on 1/800th second for most shots as they showed some motion blur on tyres, but were quite crisp. The IS worked even with slower shots. Going to 1/8000th second the cars look stationary, as you would expect. My main gripe is that even with the on-screen zoom on the camera it is hard to be sure which settings are getting the best shots, and taking a laptop to the grandstand was not on, obviously. The tracking auto focus on the 1Dx worked well too. I am pleased with the end result, over 1,000 shots including some of the red arrows display at the start.


We did not see any crashes, which is good... well, not until we had spent ages in a massive queue of traffic on the way back which was entirely down to people looking at a crash on the other side of the road (did not look like anyone was hurt).