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I Don’t Believe It!!

Posted by boghound on August 24th, 2013

UK Connection Speeds Increase 64% Annually

The latest research carried out by the British Internet watchdog Ofcom revealed that average speed for urban households is 26.5Mbit/s, while rural homes are lagging behind at 10MBit/s. About 20% of households can currently boast super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s. As such, home broadband speeds are estimated to have increased by 64% within a year, though rural households are growing not that fast.

According to the results of Ofcom’s research, the average download speed for an urban household in May 2013 was about 26.5Mbit/s, while rural areas showed almost 10MBit/s. In the meantime, the difference between the two has increased since the watchdog conducted similar research two years ago.

Despite the fact that average connection speeds were increasing in rural areas, the problem was redoubled by the lack of superfast services and slower ADSL. Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack said that taking into account the fact that the average household currently owns more than 3 types of Internet-connected devices, subscribers are now demanding more than ever from their Internet service providers. The ISPs are responding by upgrading subscribers to higher speed services and launching new superfast packages.

Pollack admitted that the UK people are yet to see the full effect of government measures to improve Internet availability in rural areas, which should also help to increase speeds. Ofcom also expects that 4G mobile will also have a positive effect on mobile broadband availability across the country. It should be noted that average British connection speeds have increased fourfold since the watchdog first published its speeds data five years ago.

About 20% of households today have super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s, up 8% a year. The organization singled out network upgrades to Virgin Media’s cable service as a major driver of faster fibre services that had managed to double speeds for many people. Indeed, the research revealed that Virgin’s “up to” 120 MBit/s service offered the fastest download speeds with an average of 113 Mbit/s. At the same time, BT’s “up to” 76 MBit/s have shown 61 MBit/s. Finally, Plusnet’s “up to” 38 MBit/s delivered almost 34 MBit/s.

Hopefully, the United Kingdom will soon be entirely covered with fast broadband access points to make lives easier.

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Oh Dear!…Firefox Not Playing The Game?

Posted by boghound on August 24th, 2013

Advertisers Angry with Mozilla

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is not happy with the open source browser Mozilla’s anti-tracking features. Although it is perfectly normal that Internet users are concerned about companies spying on them, the outfit has been attacking Mozilla on the grounds that it insisted on defending the people’s rights to control the use of cookies on their systems.

Apparently, if your browser refuses to hand over all your personal information to advertisers then there must be something wrong with it. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is a trade organization representing marketing and advertising companies across the US and Europe. After the outfit received much abuse for its stand, one would have expected advertisers to have given up and waited for the dust to settle on this privacy debate.

However, the IAB placed a full-page advert in Advertising Age calling for users to stop Mozilla from hijacking the Internet. The ad insists that you can only find what you want online with the help of advertising cookies. The outfit believes that Mozilla is going to eliminate the same cookies which enable advertisers to reach the proper audience, with the proper message, at the proper time.

In fact, Mozilla lets users control cookies and stop them from websites they haven’t actually visited being dumped on the system. Instead of eliminating cookies, the browser is providing users control over annoying advertisements for stuff they don’t want. However, the IAB claims what Mozilla is doing isn’t in the interest of privacy but rather about helping some business models gain a marketplace advantage and reducing competition.

And this is said about Mozilla and its open source coders, dedicated to overthrowing the man with free coding. It is hard to believe that Mozilla is helping someone play monopoly, because the whole point of Mozilla was to kill off a Microsoft monopoly. The Interactive Advertising Bureau claims that Internet users already have control over whether they receive interest-based adverts through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program, which is something new, as the program in question appears to be designed to promote better advertising rather than helping users out.

Apparently, this is just a huge PR own goal of the kind which is usually only tried by the entertainment industry against pirates, while the users might want to download Firefox and disable all cookies after reading the ad.

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Every Cloud??

Posted by boghound on August 24th, 2013

Apple Keeps Losing Market

It might remain invisible, but Apple keeps fast sliding towards a state where it would end up with the same share of smartphones market that it has for personal computers. Although many reports claim that Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer, such claims don’t really shine any light on how enormous or competitive the market really is.

According to the latest research, Apple accounts for only 13% of the smartphones on the market – moreover, this number keeps falling. For example, last quarter it was 16%. In the meantime, Samsung has a larger market share than Apple, while the rest of the market is mainly occupied by other Android devices. Indeed, Google’s Android OS has increased its global market share to almost 80% in the 2nd quarter of 2013 from 70% at the same period in 2012.

The worst result was shown by BlackBerry, whose market share dropped to 3% from 5% last year, falling even behind Microsoft – the latter is now number 4 in OS share. The industry observers admit that the main reason Apple is still doing so well is because its iPhones are so much more expensive than Android gear, which means a higher profit margin. If you exclude subsidies from phone companies, you will figure out that an average iPhone cost $710 last year, which is almost $300 more than the average smartphone.

On the other hand, that higher price tag is also denting mass sales, with the experts estimating that the company’s 2nd-quarter profit was $6 billion with an operating margin of 33%. Now compare that to Samsung’s profit of $5.6 billion with a 19% operating margin and make a conclusion.

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U.S. Wants Total Web Control!!

Posted by boghound on April 6th, 2013

Streaming Services Can Be Prosecuted

After the US Congress failed to monopolize the worldwide web with absurd laws like SOPA, it didn’t give up. The politicians were recently presented with the option of making streaming of copyrighted material a full pledged felony.

Of course, the music industry has never been the only one interested in destroying BitTorrent – movie and TV studios have the same goal, having been fighting against P2P for almost a decade. Although crackdowns happen and thousands of users find themselves plunged into copyright lawsuits, illegal file-sharing still keeps on thriving.

So, the American government finds itself in a difficult position, particularly after the web turned out to be a living organism having its own will and no tolerance for manipulation and censorship. In order to tackle the problem, the “six-strikes” legislation was enforced – a program intended to “educate” American citizens about copyright and its violation.

However, people are only being taught that downloading and uploading of copyrighted material online is against the law, but nothing is said about streaming. In the meantime, the number of streaming services increases every day, which becomes a huge problem. The U.S. Register of Copyrights believes that there must be a way to tackle this problem. Since law enforcement can go after the distribution of copyright content, they can also pursue them in a meaningful way as they are felonies rather than misdemeanors. Thus, streaming, no matter of what content, is a misdemeanor. If there is unauthorized streaming happening, particularly in a profit-driven kind of way, how does one get at that activity if the best that they can do is pursue them for a misdemeanor? That’s what the U.S. Register of Copyrights is asking about.

The representatives of a Swedish anti-piracy outfit which tried to banish The Pirate Bay out of Sweden also admitted that streaming is a growing problem for the industry. The creators believe that it is largely irrelevant what kind of technology is used as long as they lose sales, so legislators have to solve this problem. Despite the fact that streaming services have nothing to worry about at the moment, some of the experts warn that a storm might be coming soon.

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He Saves The Day!

Posted by boghound on March 29th, 2013

Cold caller saves pensioner’s life

A cold caller saved a pensioner’s life when he rang her while she was having a stroke.

They are one of the biggest sources of irritation for people who find themselves at home during the day.

But for 84-year-old Jessica Robbins a cold caller attempting to sell her solar panels became an unlikely hero when he rang her while she was having a stroke.

Simon Shepherd, 25, who was in the second day of his job at an energy firm in Tamworth, Staffs., called an ambulance for Jessica Robbins when it became clear she was struggling to breathe.

When he rang the pensioner on March 12 Mr Shepherd initially asked how she was “doing today”.

To his shock, Mrs Robbins, who lives on her own, said she believed she had just had a stroke.

“She told me she was lying face down on her living room floor, unable to move,” Mr Shepherd, from Tamworth, said.

“She said she couldn’t breathe properly and I just felt sick. It sounds strange to say but it sounded like she was dying. A lot of people make bizarre things up to get us off the phone but I knew that this was something different.

“She couldn’t breathe properly and sounded panicked – terrified. She told me she couldn’t move and thought she’d had a stroke.

“An elderly woman living on her own is all alone and it’s terrifying circumstances to find yourself in. She’s someone’s mum, someone’s grandma, a neighbour and there was no one to help her.”

Mr Shepherd stayed on the phone to reassure Mrs Robbins before ending the call. He immediately told his manager, Craig Siviter, who dialled 999. He asked for an ambulance to be sent to Mrs Robbins’ house in Walsall, in the West Midlands – around 15 miles from the company’s offices.

Mr Shepherd then called Mrs Robbins again to tell her an ambulance was on its way.

Paramedics entered her flat with the help of a neighbour and found Mrs Robbins lying on the floor. She was taken to hospital – where she made a full recovery.

She said: "I am very grateful to the young man, he was very good with me on the phone, he went above and beyond for me.

"My father had a couple of strokes like this but I’ve got the feeling back and I’ve got the young lad to thank for that, and the ambulance service."

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Those Canadians??

Posted by boghound on March 23rd, 2013

Canada Still Sues Canadian File-Sharers

Nine years ago Canada saw its first major lawsuit filed by BMG Canada Inc. and a number of other music labels against some Canadian file-sharers. The entertainment industry asked the ISPs to reveal the names and addresses of the suspected infringers. This case became a milestone for other copyright lawsuits which were filed afterwards and set the frivolous balance between privacy and copyright. BMG’s request was denied.

Since 2011, a number of similar cases emerged, and a couple of them were of great importance. Such behaviour could be explained by the affinity of the US for such cases, where a bunch of anonymous file-sharers are brought to justice. In case ISPs want to cooperate, the alleged infringers are forced to either settle for a certain amount or go to trial. Although the effectiveness of such approach has been debated in certain circles, the Canadian legal system seems to catch up to these methods and is ready to apply them.

Talking about the BMG case, despite the fact that BMG appealed the court decision not to force ISPs to reveal personal details about their subscribers, the Federal Court denied its appeal. This ruling resulted from the company’s failed attempts to provide with hard evidence of the violation. In addition, the court pointed to the fact that BMG couldn’t prove the necessity of involving ISPs, because details of the alleged infringers could have been obtained from iMesh or KaZaA.

Another similar case started a couple years ago, with Voltage Pictures LLC suing at least 34 alleged file-sharers. The company filed a motion where it requested the names and addresses of the defendants. In result, the motion was granted, because the Federal Court claimed that pirates shouldn’t hide behind IP addresses.

Late last year, NGN Prima Production Inc. also filed a lawsuit against a number of anonymous copyright infringers. The studio asked the court to force ISPs to release their subscribers’ names and addresses, and by the end of the year the motion was granted.

As you can see, it turned out that this method of dealing with copyright violators is slowly but surely becoming the easiest and most effective way of giving copyright owners what they want, regardless of privacy concerns and ethics. Not so good for the Canadians, though.

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Good Business Plan??

Posted by boghound on March 23rd, 2013

Computer Error Killed T-shirt Business

One of the popular online T-shirt selling companies that had offices in the United Kingdom has recently been knocked out of business. It reportedly was a computer error which resulted in it advertising the company’s wares on Amazon glorifying rape, murder and sex crimes.

Design company Solid Gold Bomb seems to have lived up to its name. Nobody expected that dozens of T-shirts with offensive slogans like “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot” or “Keep Calm and Kill Her” would appear on Amazon.

The T-shirts were sold on Amazon, but the retailer has now suspended the company’s account after an uproar that saw Solid Gold Bomb accused of making money from domestic violence. The company was set up in Melbourne by Michael Fowler. Its founder told in the interview that he was completely oblivious to the outcry until he saw the news on the company’s Facebook page.

Before the accident Michael Fowler was receiving 300 to 1,700 orders per day, but since the scandal broke, his sales plunged to as few as 3 the very next day. Fowler admitted he might have to shut down his venture in a few days. The founder has plastered Solid Gold Bomb’s official site with an apology message, and explained that this happened due to a “computer error”.

Reportedly, the story was the following: Fowler created a range of parody “Keep Calm” T-shirts and wrote a “three-line script” which was supposed to harness electronic dictionaries and verb lists in order to automatically generate phrases for the T-shirts. As a result, he ended up with thousands of various options on Amazon with the help of what is claimed to be a “100% automated process”.

The problem is that Fowler didn’t realize that the process in question could create offensive T-shirts or that any of them were on sale until the scandal blew up. Once he knew about the situation, he cancelled orders he had got for the T-shirts since that day.

He issued an apology message to explain the situation and promised that as a father, husband, brother and son, he would have never promoted a product like that (which seems logic). Fowler claimed this was never his intention and he was extremely sorry for the trouble this carelessness caused.

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Microsoft + Tax = No!!

Posted by boghound on March 21st, 2013

Microsoft Owes $1 billion in Europe’s Taxes

It recently turned out that Steve Ballmer had skimped on paying Danish taxes called Danegeld. The latter is what civilized nations pay to the government in order to make sure that they don’t get invaded by Vikings. They say that the last person in England who avoided paying these taxes was Aethelred the unready, and it didn’t end well for him.

According to the local press, Microsoft owes the Danish Treasury about a billion dollars in what appeared to be its largest tax avoidance case. In the meantime, the country’s government is trying to work out a way of getting its paws on its money without having to pillage New York, like it did plain old York. If Denmark manages to squeeze the cash out of the software giant, it could finance a new super hospital, build the next Silkeborg Motorway or pay salary to 15,000 teachers.

Everything started when the software giant acquired the Danish IT outfit Navision. Microsoft set the price of the rights to the Navision program much lower than the market level and finally let its Irish subsidiary purchase the rights of its Danish subsidiary.

In other words, the value of the Danish company was made too small to be taxed. Indeed, if the software company had its way it would get a refund. The statistics say that Microsoft’s Danish subsidiary previously earned $11 billion, which means the taxes due should be almost $5 billion plus interest of $0.8 billion. But Ireland taxes are much lower than those of Denmark.

In response, Microsoft claims it has obeyed all the rules, but the company received a nasty surprise after it got its tax bill and a following Danish investigation. Apparently, the software giant has done a sterling job to hide its money from the tax authorities for years now and managed to exploit every loophole it could find. Nevertheless, with most European countries short of cash, and other tax payers bled dry, multinational corporations are supposed to finally be told to stop being bludgers. Let’s see if there’s any result.

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We Control Your Browser!!

Posted by boghound on March 19th, 2013

US ISP Will Hijack Subscribers’ Browsers

Since nobody in the United States thought it was a good idea to reign in the entertainment industry, it is currently acceptable for an Internet service provider to hijack a suspect infringer’s browser.

One of the largest American providers, Comcast, has explained how it is going to deal with its subscribers under the new “six-strikes” legislation. After 4 notifications the broadband provider will hijack Internet browsers of suspected serial pirates with annoying pop-ups. As you can understand, this will effectively make it impossible to browse the web, and the pop-up will only go away after the subscriber resolves the problem with a Customer Security Assurance representative.

Like other Internet service providers, Comcast starts out with alerts to inform its users that their account has been used to infringe copyright, sending out emails containing details of the suspected infringement. However, after 4 warnings, the repeated infringers will enter the so-called “mitigation phase”, which means that their service will be interrupted by the ISP.

It is still unclear how the subscribers will manage to resolve the problem and what they will have to do. In the meantime, Comcast points out that the infringers won’t lose their account under the copyright alert program – in fact, they just won’t be able to use it. In addition, the ISP assures its subscribers that the browser hijack system has been tested for years, and it is supposed to work smoothly. It seems that the company believes its technology is unsinkable.

It turned out that this technology has been used to alert the users when their computer is infected by a malicious bot. However, it hasn’t been tested against a subscriber who fought against it. The ISP can be asked to hand over IP addresses of serial pirates if they fail to stop infringing. In fact, this move of Comcast will mean an end to the Open Wireless Movement, which has been allowing subscribers to share their access to the Internet with neighbors or complete strangers.

Industry experts admit that this measure is unlikely to be effective. What is more likely to happen is that people will switch to VPN providers and BitTorrent proxies – real infringers know how to avoid detection. Still, the move proves that the owners of automatic weapons have more freedoms in the United States than Internet users.

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Correct Grammar?….Not in Mid-Devon!

Posted by boghound on March 17th, 2013

Council bans apostrophes from all street signs to avoid ‘confusion’

A council has sparked fury from residents after banning apostrophes from street signs to avoid potential confusion.

Mid-Devon District Council said its new streets had not contained apostrophes for many years but the policy was now being made official.

Residents and plain English campaigners criticised the move, but the council said apostrophes could only be found in three street names in the district.

It added that Beck’s Square and Blundell’s Avenue both in Tiverton and St George’s Well in Cullompton were all named many years ago.

Andrew Lacey, of Mid-Devon District Council, said there was no national guidance that stops apostrophes being used.

But proofreader Mary de Vere Taylor from Ashburton said the thought of apostrophes being removed made her shudder.

"It’s almost as though somebody with a giant eraser is literally trying to erase punctuation from our consciousness," she said.

"To me there’s something terribly British and terribly reassuring about well-written and well-punctuated writing.

"Some may say I should get a life and get out more but if I got out more and saw place names with no apostrophes where there should be I shudder to think how I’d react."

Ms de Vere Taylor said while she accepted language had to evolve, she felt the council’s decision was a backwards step.

Steve Jenner from the Plain English Campaign said punctuation including the apostrophe was one of the basic rules of language. The council’s decision as "nonsensical", he said.

Mid-Devon Council declined to comment further and did not elaborate on who might be confused by the use of correct punctuation.

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