Saturday, 30 May 2015

Anti slamming service

The new OFCOM rules on migration (from 20th June) eliminate "Migration Authorisation Codes" (MAC) and allow migration that is "gaining provider led". This means a provider can migrate the phone line or broadband to themselves.

We will get a notice of this, and have 10 working days before it happens. We tell our customer, and if they do not respond then the migration goes ahead.

Simples!

Well, yes and no.

For a start there is "slamming". If someone has one of the services, e.g. phone line, they would already have in place the billing, and know the phone number and postcode, so could just migrate the broadband to them. Obviously they are meant to have an order from the end user customer for this (though defining who can make such an order is complex). They may have an "um, sounds interesting" on a call recording to the line from someone as a "proof" that the migration is valid.

I really hope slamming will not happen.

But then there are mistakes, and that is perhaps more likely. Someone mistyping a phone number or postcode on an order and it matches, so the migration goes through. And who pays for such mistakes?

Yes, we have to send our customer a notice, but that could easily be missed.

So, we are planning to launch an "anti-slamming" service!

This is a tad complex, after all, OFCOM have tried to stop this in the General Conditions stating
22.19 Where paragraphs 22.16 and 22.17 apply, and without prejudice to the generality of paragraph 22.18, a Losing Provider shall not require, in particular, the granting of consent by it, nor the provision of any information (such as a MAC) by it to the End-User, in order for a Communications Provider Migration to be put into effect. 
So, asking for "consent" is not allowed. This means we'll be taking a set of "standing instructions" to reject all migrations. No consent requested at migration at all. So we comply.

We'll be adding a link / option on the control pages to allow customers to make such standing instructions. The email we send when we reject a migration will include a link to revoke such instructions and so allow a migrate to go ahead in future if wanted.

Of course the whole thing is a can of worms anyway - if our customer has more than 10 people working for them then we can reject it anyway and none of the rules apply - and there are services that will not be easy to migrate simply because they have no "phone number". It will be fun.

P.S. Just added link to control pages for customers to select or cancel this now. We have announced on the web pages, status pages, twitter, and Facebook now. Within minutes, on a Sunday afternoon, we have over 50 lines set up for anti-slamming and after an hour over 1% of our lines have it enabled.

Monday, 25 May 2015

SEO scum?

So, a friend of a relative had some company design a web site for her new business. It was a simple web page.

Now, companies doing this are fine. They can do a good job, and the site in question looks fine as a really simple "shop front" web site to provide company details, a few pictures, etc.

There are, of course, a load of "self design" services that exist and could probably do just as good a job for way less money or even free.

Anyway, this is where the underhand part comes in.

They designed the site and then they tried to sell her search engine optimisation (SEO) for yet another fee.

Now, SEO is an odd business. At one end you have the simple matter of ensuring the web site is well written, contains all of the right things technically (headings, meta tags, and so on), to ensure it is correctly and hence prominently listed in search engines. A well designed web site does all that anyway.

Then there are the "tricks" - the less ethical methods that involve basically trying to trick the search engines in to highly ranking the site, at least for a while. I guess these have value to some, but it is a tricky business.

Well, this particular web design company has done a couple of odd things...

1. They registered the domain in their name, not the customer's. That is a tad naughty if they did not explain this. It makes it hard, or even impossible, to move the site to a new provider if unhappy with their service.

2. They added this to the pages:

    <meta name='robots' content='noindex,follow' />

What does that mean? It tells search engines not to list the page at all. It is the total and utter opposite of search engine optimisation. It is telling search engines to totally ignore the site.

To put that on the page and then "sell" SEO to the customer is really underhand, in my opinion. The SEO they sell may simply mean removing that one line!

Our advice? Get out! In this case they can get the corresponding .uk domain and use that as a new site. As a new company it seems that will work fine, and maybe the .co.uk will come up one day.

Why do people think it is OK to run a business like that - it may not actually be illegal, depending on the terms agreed, but it is underhand and devious as far as I can see. Not the way to build a loyal customer base or get referrals!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

When to give up?

I start to wonder.

I see so much stupidity in government, especially after the election, where things like banning encryption seem more and more likely to be taken seriously. I see Australia seem to want to ban teaching encryption - it's 1991 all over again.

I see more and more police state happening. Monitoring all that we do, just in case we become one of those terrorists that are marginally less dangerous than bee stings. Then we have the latest crazy idea of repealing the Human Rights Act. It is just unbelievable.

I mean, seriously, can anyone point to any single part of the Human Rights Act that, if repealed, would be better for me, or anyone I know or care about, either directly or indirectly?

It is really hard to see how that could happen - to benefit me, I'd have to be Hitler or something, wanting to detain people without trial and such shit.

A friend of mine said that obviously the Human Rights Act is "inconvenient" and that is why they want to repeal it. I pointed out that it is meant to be "inconvenient", especially to tyrannical dictators. It is certainly meant to be "inconvenient" to those that would like to deny me those basic human rights. That is the point!

I was really bad at history at school, and now it seems to matter. Maybe they'll just ban teaching history in schools - that would avoid the inconvenient truth of why the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act came in to force in the first place.

Anyway, I was wonder.

I am 51 now. Do I eventually decide that it would be easier to shut up, install the telescreen so I can be watched all day, and be a good citizen of the police state? Or do I try and find a sane country and emigrate, and would that even work? Or do I keep trying to speak out and trying to make a difference until I drop?

Friday, 22 May 2015

Stressed

The last time I was stressed at the unfairness of the legal system was when we had an ADR case. For those that do not recall (!) the arbitrator basically found in our favour (that we had not broken the contract) but still insisted we paid money to the customer and that we wrote off a load of outstanding invoices that post dated the complaint, oh, and also that we paid the arbitrator for this madness. I got very cross.

I know life is not fair, but some things in life have the scope and possibility to be reasonably fair, and the legal system is one of those things that should at least try for that aim.

Well, today I am facing a similar annoyance as this bozo in Scotland suing use for £3k, even though the service was fine, and even though we limit our liability (something we point out on the order form itself). He is just trying it on.

It seems that we have no way to get this resolved without someone going to Scotland for a hearing, even to dispute the jurisdiction of the case - where the key reason for doing so it to avoid a trip to Scotland. It seems cheapest is probably to engage a solicitor in Scotland and that we are unlikely to get our costs for that even if we win. This is all in spite of the fact that the case is plainly bogus as the pursuer (claimant) is a newly formed company created after all of the events in the claim and with which we have never had any dealings.

It is almost as if Mikey Mouse, the magic castle, fairyland could issue a summons and force someone to go to the cost and hassle of defending the case. Why don't courts have some option to at least question the basic validity of the claim without having a hearing - even if we had to pay the judge a fee to look at it for us before considering a hearing. That would be sensible for stupidities like this.

The court say no - we have to either admit the claim, or say we will go to the hearing. The solicitor suggested it is worth trying too reach an out of court settlement. That just seems wrong.

Heck, the guy did not even bother with any notice before action or threats or try to negotiate, yet this breach in process is just ignored - we have to go to the hearing.

Last time I got wound up I did come up with a somewhat hypothetical idea that would be morally wrong, and somewhat psychopathic: What we need is a sort of hit man clause in a will. Well, not quite actual hit man, but something whereby money goes to a company that specialise in hounding someone - taking all legal (or untraceable) means to make someone's life hell. Bogus court causes. Starting rumours. Anonymous tips of child abuse, fraud, terrorism, whatever. Just everything to make someone's life a misery as a parting gift if they are still alive. OK, it is hypothetical, but it would feel great to say that you are "adding someone to the list" that is in your will and that park that anger and annoyance.

The problem is that I am too nice to actually come up with something like that. Shame.

OFCOM being very special

Got an email claiming to be from OFCOM, subject "Service Charge Modified", email Cc myself and someone called brian21@gmailgmail.com, and starting "Dear User Windettj1". It goes on to say an area code and the new pricing point.

Does that look like a scam or spam of some sort? Obviously.

Well, no, guess what, it is genuine, and really is from OFCOM. So I asked what was going on.

The explanation of the "Dear User Windettj1" is: "June has made changes to Andrews & Arnolds SCs, hence it is her user name that appears on this e-mail".

OK, but I am not June, so why send me an email saying "Dear User Windettj1"?

The explanation for the brian21@gmailgmail.com is even odder: "When NMS was migrated all e-mail address were randomly scrambled, brian21@gmailgmail.com is a scrambled address"

I'm sorry, but WTF?

  • Why "scramble" email addresses?
  • Since when is brian21@gmailgmail.com in any way "randomly" scrambled. gmailgmail.com is a real domain, so that is probably a real email address. Are OFCOM deliberately leaking other people's email addresses? Or are they making up email addresses to create annoying backscatter to innocent parties? Or are they copying random third parties with emails that should be sent to us?
  • Why include a random scrambled email address in the email anyway? It just makes no sense!

They don't offer any explanation - it is like they deliberately made a system to send total nonsense to people, and when asked about it they just explain how total nonsense it is, as if that was what they intended all along.

It is like having a conversation with the mad hatter?!

And these people regulate our communications industry in this country.

3D print show

Went to the 3D print show in London yesterday - it is on today and Saturday too.

My first impression is that it is rather disappointing in size - I was expecting bigger. They even sell 3 day passes! 3 hours was more than enough.

The main reason I went was to see things in action, obviously, and there were plenty of printers working, and lots of print samples to look at and touch. I went because we got a Maketbot Z18 a while ago. After the Replicator 2 we had high expectations and it turned out to be crap so it was sent back. Markerbot were there and assure me it is a lot better now, but the easy option of simply buying the next model up from the same supplier was missed, and I was already at a 3D print show now.

So, things of note...

A seriously big printer! Seems they sell to universities and artists. Very cool if you are in to that sort of thing. I can't see it being something we can sell as a service well though. Shame, as it would be rather fun!

Very impressive to see something that big working well, and some of the sculptures they had on display were very good.

A printer that uses paper! Yes, it works a sheet at a time, pressing and gluing it to the sheets below, and cutting an outline, ink jet full colour printing over the cut edge, and depositing glue for the next sheet. Eventually you end up with a block of paper. You pull off the pre-cut blocks of paper around the edge of the print and are left with a full colour solid paper model which needed no support printing or messing about. Recycle the waste paper, maybe varnish the artwork, but the results were impressive, albeit perhaps a bit slow.

A magnetically attached flexible print bed mat. The idea being you print on it directly, but can lift the mat off the base and it flexes to allow the printed artwork to come off easily. We may have to get one of these for the Replicator 2 that we use.

There were a lot of stands doing consumables, and everybody's PLA was better than the others. Rovosavvy have a new line in PLA which they claim is of the highest quality - no impurities, very close tolerances on size, etc. But they are doing it in 10kg reels, which, as you can imagine, will not work well. Mostly the filament is fed from the extruder pulling it off the reel. So they have a novel approach of using these motorised dispensers that have a tension triggered microswitch that reels off more material. May have to get some of these :-)

I did eventually find the printer I was actually looking for - the WASP. It is a delta printer using three fixed motors to drive the 3D, and one floating extruder motor. It does a 200mm diameter base and 400mm high. And what can I say, a delta printer just looks cool. With very few exceptions, almost all of the printers were traditional X/Y/Z printers, some with moving bed, some enclosed, and a variety of sizes, but delta printers were much less common. One of the cool features of this printer is the visibility of the ongoing print - which is much better than the more traditional arrangements.

The fact that three of the motors are fixed also allows much greater speed - they claim up to 1m/s even, and they did have one printing pretty fast on the stand.

So I suspect this will be the next one we get.

There were several other things. Several contract printing companies, some of which are very impressive. There were a few very expensive and very impressive printers. Only a couple of dual head printers. Some full height people scanners. One hand held stereo scanner. To be honest I expected to see more scanning stuff and was a bit disappointed.

There were also laser based printers that pull print from a pool of resin - very precise, but small area. There were CNC machines that milled things from a block of solid wood. Lots of different things to see, but still not a very big show. If you are in London, it may be with the £20 or so for a ticket.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Right When Tested

We had an interesting fault on a line in Nottingham last week, and for a change I have something nice to say about BT!

The first engineers decided it was a REIN issue (Random Electrical Impulse Noise), which is basically some sort of interference. So an engineer was dispatched to investigate the REIN issue. Hw spent some time testing at the exchange and cabinet and DP and tracked down the cause, which was, it turns out, the lift in the flats.

This is not the first time we have seen a fault like this, and the engineer said he had seen cases like this himself. He then called us to confirm in detail what the issue was and that he had found it. The end user is contacting the building maintenance people now to sort it.

But this means it was correctly diagnosed as a REIN issue, and BT engineers actually tracked it down to a cause which outside our customer's premises, and BT's side of the master socket, but not their fault as such.

So well done to the competent engineers on the ground - many of them are good and technically able.

Of course, the rest of BT lets that down, sending the fault back as "Right When Tested; IP/SP Network Connection;Line tested ok by BT engineer at customer premises".

Well, actually he demonstrated it failing at the end user premises, and explained it to the end user in detail as well as calling us (their customer). It was wrong when tested, ie. breaks every time someone uses the lift. Also, it was definitely not the "IP/SP Network Connection", we did not cause this.

So once again it looks like we will have to spend time disputing a charge for an engineer.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Age of Empires

Well, anyone who played back in the day would have concluded that Age of Empires II (2) was the one to play - the III was not any good, but II was. With the Forgotten expansion, obviously.

It was fun, but at the house we played on some whacky network that was a wireless link from Reading on Tele2 which caused hassle as I played against a neighbour on the same system but the way it worked, even though we had real IP addresses, it did not allow people not the same LAN segment to communicate, which was crazy. We had do to some special ARP and/or route logic to work! Yes, it was that long ago...

It was something of a game we'd play at Christmas.

I had no idea that it is all making a come back, and, apparently, there is now an Age of Empires II HD, on Steam. They have redone all the sprites in higher definition and colour. It is meant to be windows only but it works under a wine steam install under my 5k Mac, and, well, FFS, it works! Well worth the £19 or so.

So maybe I'll play a few games.

What fun.



P.S. couple of quirks on the Mac, as usual with wine - the message box is black on black or something, so you type blind, and the stuff that does steam things generally does not work, but the game works, and multiplayer works, and I trashed James (KE55ARD, Also known as: SON GOHAN, kappa, Ailuj, TOP 3 PLAYER WORLD, DIETER HACKING, Hi Im Good, Hi im God, riot pls, rip in peperoni) on my fist multiplayer game. I was killing him, converting him, and building a wonder all at once, so sad.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Meaning of life

We all like to think we have a place in the universe and that our life has some meaning, or at least some impact on the world.

Unfortunately time is vast - and in the tens of billions of years that the universe will live on, at the end of the day, nothing I do will have any impact. Nothing the human race does will change the eventual fate of the universe, whether that is collapsing in to a singularity or spreading thinly in ever expanding space. We don't matter. I don't matter. Bugger.

OK, let's be a bit more focused - and think of now, today, this week, this year, just my lifetime. That is, perhaps a good start.

Unfortunately space is vast - and it really does not make any difference, even today, what happens on this rock. There are a hundred billion galaxies each with hundreds of billions of stars. We don't matter. I don't matter. Bugger.

Clearly I need to be a bit more focused - think of here and now. Do I make any difference? Now, maybe, I do. Phew!

But then comes along the idea of a "multiverse" or "alternate reality", as sci-fi writers tend to call it. The multiple worlds interpretation of quantum physics. It seems that most sci-fi series touch on it eventually, even Star Trek. One series, Sliders, which I am watching on iTunes at the moment is based entirely on this idea. It is an idea in physics that the universe is constantly branching in to alternate realities, copies of itself where some quantum decision is different. Sliders is based on the idea that one can travel between these realities.

What this means is that if I have a choice, A or B, and I make that choice, there is an equally valid and real universe where I made the other choice. There is another "me" in that universe. In some ways this seems nice - if I make a wrong choice I can perhaps console myself that somewhere in the multiverse there is another version of myself that made the right choice. Sadly it works the other way too - if I make a right choice, somewhere I also made the wrong choice.

This means my choices do not matter. It does not matter if I choose A or B. The multiverse ends up with a version where I chose A and a version where I chose B. The outcome, in the multiverse, is the same. It matters not from which branch of that multiverse I am looking back at my choice to see if it was the right one. There is a version of me in each branch looking back. Once again I don't matter. Bugger.

This must give philosophers a problem too. In history, Newton caused problems with his theories on force and momentum. Consider snooker balls on a table - he says that you can work out where there will go exactly. The position of everything in the universe can be predicted based on where it was and how fast and what direction it was going (and its mass). It does not matter if you are predicting the orbit of a planet or the collision of atoms, the outcome is deterministic. Such a theory means we have no free will, that the universe will follow a path in to the future that is predictable at the atomic level and that there is ultimately no choice. A fatalistic viewpoint, which was understandably unpopular, especially with the church.

Quantum physics came along and gave us back some hope - it allows for truely random things to happen and a world that is not deterministic. Although, arguably, we don't control those random things, it does mean we can perhaps allow some free will.

The idea of a multiverse means that even if there are choices, all of the choices actually happen, and then end result of the set of universes that exists is no different whatever choice we make. That is almost as bad as a fatalistic view of the world.

Anyway, back to the meaning of life.

If we get really focused (or is that blinkered) and think of here, and now, and this universe only, do I make a difference?

I feel fortunate that I think I do - the choices I make every day have an impact on myself, my family, my friends, my staff, my customers, and even readers of my blog! I can choose to live my life making choices that are good. Doing the right thing. Making a difference in the world, albeit an insignificant difference in the grand scheme of things, but a difference that is beneficial. That gives meaning to life.

Whilst I may be fortunate, we can all make some difference. Even if you only have the power, here and now, today, to make one person smile, you can choose to do that and give your live some meaning.

Happy Wednesday!

P.S. No, I am not depressed - just been watching too many episodes of Sliders. :-)
P.P.S Slightly moved by some of the comments I have got via various means. Thank you all.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Strange court summons

Sounds like I may learn a few more lessons, as, for a change someone is trying to sue us!

What is weird is that we have been trying to actually sue this customer for not paying for ages, and the big issue we have is working out who they are! They have a "name", but it is not something ending in Ltd, and we don't know a company number. Indeed, rather lax on our part, we do not know what legal entity they are. All their letters fail to say what they are either. We have a procedure for checking new customers, but it sounds like this one may have fallen through the cracks.

Now, they only owe about £300, but we were getting nowhere with this and it was looking a lot like we would have to write it off. Then, out of the blue, we get a summons, from a Scottish court, for nearly £3000. They are claiming service was not working and that there are some consequential losses. In practice, the service was working fine, but even if it was not we make it crystal clear that we only offer a money back guarantee and limit our liability. They have not spent that much in total with us by a long way. This is not just stated in the contract but one of the items ticked on the order form and confirmed on the order confirmation and initial invoice, and in the info pack we send.

But apart from simply defending a daft court case, and sending a counter claim, we have a load of other fun things on this one...

1. The company making the claim, with the same basic name but now as a limited company, was only formed last month. This is later than all of the events for which they are claiming. I would hope that this fact alone can get the case thrown out! It almost seems like they created a company just so that they can sue us!

2. They have never sent any notice before action, or said what amount they were after (even on their dodgy letterhead), and the last letters we have had (refusing to pay our bills) predate this company being created even.

3. Our contract says that English courts apply. I wonder if that is valid and if that allows us to get the case thrown out.

In practice, next step is checking with our solicitors (which will have a small cost for us), and trying to get this case chucked out.

Oddly, it seems Scottish courts are way more efficient as they already have a hearing date listed for next month, only in Scotland!

I'll keep you posted.

P.S. pursuer confirmed company number, so we have written to court asking for it to be struck out, but have meeting with solicitors anyway so will be checking if that was the right thing.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Politics

For most of my life I have not been "in to" politics at all, but over the recent years I have found that there are things that affect me, my family, my staff, and my customers. Basically, politics matter. This is something that is quite hard to get over to the younger generation sometimes.

One of the biggest recent turning points for myself was David Cameron making the most amazingly uninformed talk that was basically suggesting banning encryption. I was really quite shocked. I really expected some clue from our leaders or at the very least those that advise them. You cannot expect politicians to know every area of industry - but why make speeches about an area of industry without getting the advice to make a speech that makes sense.

The election has been a bit of a surprise. A friend of mine, Julian Huppert, lost his seat. This was a real shame, regardless of "party politics" Julian was one of the few people in parliament that had some clue about science and technology. That was a real shame, and I hope he stands again. The surprise is the Lib Dems being virtually wiped out!

It was no real surprise that Theresa May was on the rampage, even before the majority was declared, suggesting that the "snooper's charter" may finally be pushed through. "Nanny state" may be here at last, and that is a whole new battle for all of us. As an ISP it has huge technical issues, but there are, of course, huge moral issues which we all face with this.

Which party would I want in power? I really do not know that any one party makes sense. I'd want smaller government that remembers it works for us and is not there to control us. I'd want evidence based legislation that is proportional and reasonable. Do any of the parties offer that?

So I worry about the next 5 years.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Should've got Office::1

The cobbler's children have the worst shoes!

It is true in any industry, and to some small extent our office is no different. We actually have loads of connectivity including half a dozen ADSL lines, FTTC, some fibres, and even a link to a virgin cable connection.

Sadly, yesterday, the main fibre link we use for everyday connections broke. A fibre is normally very reliable and nice low latency making it ideal for VoIP. Obviously our whole office runs on VoIP. This should be no problem, as we have the FTTC set up to back up all of the connectivity quickly and easily. Indeed, we have a schedule of testing the backup every month.

But this is where the cobbler's shoes come in! When it comes to designing our network for customers we have loads of redundancy, services like Office::1 with multiple lines and fallback, multiple lines in to BT and TT and transit and peering, and so on and so on. But when it comes out our own office, things are not quite as tidy as they should be... We have been messing about testing VDSL and ADSL on new routers and TR069 and config, and so on, and have been using some of the lines, including an FTTC line, for such things. This meant that the scheduled backup checks had been stopped while we did that testing.

Unfortunately this meant we did not have the clean config all set up to just switch to backup - it was still set up with various test routing and stuff for the router tests. Also, to be frank, I had forgotten how exactly we had the back up configured. It ended up taking me a good half hour to get the core connectivity for VoIP and other systems sorted, which is plain stupid and I was kicking myself for forgetting the way we had it planned originally.

Simply accessing the Internet was not the big issue, of course, but making things like our VoIP work, and our fixed IP addresses which are used for lots of things internally, meant that it was a lot of hassle losing the main fibre link like this.

Of course, several people said "Should have got Office::1". And indeed, if we had, it would have "just worked". I am quite pleased that this is the reaction from people - it should be when your Internet breaks because you did not have the backup set up properly :-)

But then it gets interesting, and this is always a sobering exercise as it really helps everyone in the office appreciate the plight our customers go through when there are faults and delays.

The FTTC line, which the availability checker confidently lists as up to 80Mb/s, was synced at 3Mb/s. Yes, I mean THREE Mb/s. It is not entirely clear why BT had done this, but it was the result of the line being set on a silly low speed profile - possibly DLM reacting to all of the testing we had done. The testing did not rely on speed at all, and so we kind of had not noticed this until we tried using it. Sadly, even though this is a simple setting in the cabinet DSLAM, BT want an "SFI engineer" to fix it, which is mad. We booked one, somewhat under duress, for this morning. Of course when the time came the engineer did not arrive, as they had cancelled the appointment, after the point of no return (for no apparent reason). We finally got them to agree to sort the profile without an engineer "within 2 hours", but sadly, what that seems to mean is that after around 1:55 they finally passed the issue to "Openreach" who will now sit on it for two days, we expect.

No problem - we have a spare ADSL line not being used for the ORG testing, that'll do 20Mb/s, which is more than enough. Except, when we tried it, it turns out to be lossy, even after cranking up to interleaved 9dB margin, and managing 13Mb/s. The 13Mb/s would have been fine, but the packet loss and dropping sessions was a pain.

Then we found more fun - it looks a lot like these ZyXEL routers have the same bug as the BT ones where a PPP restart causes VPNs to stop working until you unplug and replug the Ethernet lead. That would not be so bad if not for the fact that the ADSL kept dropping and reconnecting. So I spent half the morning walking to the router and replugging the Ethernet.

But hang on - why were we having issues today? This happened late yesterday afternoon and a fibre is on a nice SLA (something like 7 hours). We reported the fault around 6pm so why were engineers not on the case over night?

Well, the answer, it seems, is that BT parked the fault over night because of confusion over contact details. They wanted a contact for each end of the fibre, and we gave them that, but it is the same contact for both ends. This makes sense - even though the contact is notionally "on site", one end is a data centre which means calling us so we can call the data centre to let someone in and escort them. So that end being a staff mobile was fine. The issue was the same contact for the office end, which is where the member of staff was located (or near by) so also made sense. They did not tell us there was an issue, but just waiting until we chased up at 7am. Having finally restarted the fault they did fix it just after lunch. Seems it was an issue with a bend (broken glass) in a fibre patch link at the exchange!

So now we have the fibre back, yay! but a silly slow FTTC, and an iffy ADSL. It does rather shows the importance of backup lines used just for backup and kept on-line all of the time so their condition can be constantly monitored - very much the way we sell the Office::1 service.

I'd obviously like to apologise to people trying to call us today - calls were mostly working, but
occasionally had some issues.

As ever, lessons to learn.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Defamation

The defamation act is very clear that stating something that is substantially true is not defamation. This makes sense, as nobody should be in trouble for stating the truth in any civilised society.

I recently attended an industry conference, and one of the speakers presented a very interesting talk on the possible abuse of a grant process that could have wasted some £600k of public money. He was very very careful to state the facts, information he obtained from public records, and present them clearly. He was careful to not even express his own honest opinion on these facts (something that is also allowed by the defamation act).

I was rather surprised to find that the speaker has suppressed the video of his talk - well, that is his right, to some extent, but the talk was to a forum that pretty much allows any member of the public to register and attend, so was something of a public speech, I feel.

What concerns me if that he is somehow under some pressure to suppress what was said. That would be worrying.

What I also find rather worrying is that some of the comments on twitter are adamant that my understanding of the law (that the truth is allowed) is some how naive and not reality.

It seems to suggest some chilling effect - that people cannot rely on the fact that what they are saying is true as a basis for stating it, and that somehow it could cause "hassle" even if technically correct. I was even told "when do you show your defence? is that before or after you file for bankruptcy? i forget." which suggests some massive chilling effect on this.

This is not right!

In a civilised society nobody should be afraid of stating the truth. Whatever the law says, the fact that there is a perception that one cannot safely state the truth is a problem which needs addressing.

Am I wrong?