Category Archives: Rants

Rants of the hour, day, week, month and year. a lot of these will most likely be about technical things, too.

PC Doctor Dave

So, My girlfriend and myself are in the process of moving in together, which is great. My girlfriend runs her own business which does Graphic design, Web design, Web development and App development (Mostly iOS). As she has recently moved from the Isle of Wight, we wanted to get her business listed around the local areas to Pewsey to promote that she is there. The local website is run by a company that repair computers and “do web sites” (shiver). This is not a good thing if you’re in a similar business around Pewsey.

Gemma tries to fill out the form on the site for the listings and this fails, oh dear… next up she tries emailing the address on the website, and that bounces.. hm. O.K. email the maintainer of the site(PC Doctor Dave), the email goes through, Excellent! or so we thought until about 3 hours later when he responded…  Gemma was told that she could not be listed on the site, because she is in direct competition with him…. oh dear, well that’s not good.

By the time I got home from work, Gemma was not in a great mood with this, so I pointed out that there is law against that, the Competition Act 1998, Now, we didn’t want to put Gemmas business in jeopardy, so I come to the rescue. Today I sent an email for listings for Hosting, Web development, Network installation and PC Repair, This is even more in competition with what he does, as I also repair PCs. Fast forward a couple of hours and I get a response, telling me No, I’m not listing you because you’re in competition with me… Great, so not just a grudge against a single person, just anyone that might be a threat to his business. I have responded to PC Doctor Dave pointing him to the 3 sections of the Competition Act 1998 that I could be bothered to find that he is in breach of, there’s probably more of them, but I think 3 will do as a first pass.

I am currently awaiting response from PC Doctor Dave, I have given him until close of business tomorrow to respond before I forward the email to the Office of fair trading and to our local MP in Pewsey. We’ll see which option he chooses.

Website Blocking (copyright infringement)

This is a subject that boils my blood everytime it comes up. Why do they not get it.

Thank you to Ofcom who have actually stated: ‘ It’s not about technology, technology can always be circumvented. It’s about incentives, we put the technologist back in the box and started to look at why people do it. It’s about how you change the incentive structure, It’s not a technological thing.’ Absolutely spot on.

Now, I have in the past downloaded movies, music & TV Shows, and I will continue to do this out of ease. Let me put it this way. for me to download a film legally, I have a couple of options, in which I can watch the film only once (or a set number of times) – let’s not get started on the fact that most of them that do this don’t even work on my operating system of choice [Linux]. This is also expensive, costing about 50% of actually buying a DVD or Bluray, so, why not do that, and watch as many times as I want? well, I don’t want to goto the shop, I have fast Internet, I can download a bluray in fairly short time (faster than going to the shop, buying it and coming home). Now, let’s look at P2P or even other methods that might not be legal. there’s a single page where I can go to find the movies, the music and the TV Shows, which is a huge benefit, now this could be split into 3 different pages / sites / whatever. sticking with Movies, we have a page for those, I can see very easily which ones are popular (how many people downloaded it), which ones are new (generally they’re dated) and I probably already have an idea as to what I want to watch. One click and I’m done an hour or 2 later, I can watch the film. in some instances, I can watch the film while it’s being downloaded too, just to make life even easier.

The quote from an audience member from Warner argued; just because it’s hard to enforce the law didn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enforce it.

Well, they can arrest me, they can take me to court, they can sue me, but let me say one thing before they try, I buy a LOT of movies, should they try this, then what incentive do I have to ever hand my money to them ever again? I used to download a LOT of music, and equally I purchased a LOT of music, too. since I stopped downloading it, I don’t buy it either. my collection has just stopped some years ago and hasn’t been updated since. so, they’re not getting any money of me anymore, but it’s ok, because I’m not downloading any, either.

I’m not saying that it was right to download the music, but me downloading 5 tracks for every 30 I purchased is surely better than purchasing none, right? and now with movies the same is happening.

Warner, Sony and all you other movie producers, are you listening? I will HAPPILY pay money every month to LEGALLY download your movies. without protection on them so I can only watch them a set number of times. I download movies because it’s convenient, it’s on my system ready to watch on my TV, I don’t have to go buy a disk, I don’t have to wait days for a disk to arrive from purchasing online. Instead of trying to STOP people from downloading movies, why not LET them download movies from your own sources, this means the person downloading knows the movie is what it says, it also means YOU make more money (that’s what it’s all about, right) make it easy, make it convenient people will do it. piss people off, we’ll take our money else where. it’s not the downloaders that are losing you money it’s your own head-up-your-own-arse way of thinking. stop doing it, there is money to be made, open your eyes and you’ll see it.

End of rant – work to be done!

Changing Banks

Well, I’ll be changing banks in the next couple of weeks, and maybe this is a good thing.

Let me explain what the final straw was. A friend & I were in town, I needed to go and change my address to my new address, so I handed my friend my card, and told him the address. he went into the bank, and came out 5 minutes later with the address changed.

OK, So it didn’t quite happen like that, I went into the bank, and I changed it, however, anyone could have done it, to any address. I handed over my card, I told the clerk I wanted to change my address, told them what the address is, and that was it. They did not ask me to confirm my old address, they did not ask me to enter the PIN for my card on the machine, they didn’t ask for me to confirm my name, D.O.B. they didn’t ask for any proof of the new address at all, No driving license or passport. So they did not confirm in any way what-so-ever that I was in-fact the legal holder of said card.

On their web-site under changing address, there’s a form which you fill in, and take to your branch – well, I didn’t do this, apparently that would be too much effort, and as I just proved, you don’t need it, anyway. here’s what the site says: “Please don’t forget to sign the form as we can’t carry out your request without a signature.  We use the signature to verify your identity against signatures we hold for you. Please take along one government issued document and one additional supporting document to confirm your details.  Please refer to the personal information and your identity leaflet for details of which documents are acceptable.”

None of this was followed at all in the local branch, I’m absolutely amazed that I managed to change my details, without any form of ID, and nothing with the new or old address’s on. If anyone can suggest a bank to use, at this point my ears are open. – This bank was the Halifax, by the way – at top of town in Basingstoke, Opposite the Sony Centre.

I Hate RPM!

I really really hate RPM Based systems, I cringe every time I step near one. Granted, no where near as much as I do every time I use a windows system, but it pains me more and more every time. First of all, I feel for anyone coming from windows that thinks they wish to try Linux, and decides “Redhat is the way to go” because that’s what business’s use. it’s wrong, Please don’t do it, pick something like ubuntu, mint, or almost anything based on Debian (even Debian itself is quite friendly in my opinion). Business’s use Redhat because there’s a support contract and they can get bugs fixed fast, that’s the only reason I can see.

So, on to my rant about RPM systems, why do I hate them? Well, I run monitoring software called Nagios, this has a remote package called NRPE, this allows me to run scripts on remote systems for monitoring and works very well. This package is found in the repository called “EPEL” (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) hosted by the folks at Fedora.

I am unable to update my system because RPM system is broken. I commonly have an issue with installing something like webmin on a fresh Debian install, it would be nice if it was a little better, but it’s ok, I do the following:

dpkg -i install webmin*.deb

This results in an error that I do not have packages installed that it requires, no problem, the following command is what I want (and it tells me!)

apt-get install -f

This downloads and installs the packages required, and then installs my webmin package, great.

Now, lets see about RHEL, we have YUM, ok, I want to update my system, so I run “yum update” this chugs away and eventually comes back with:

Error: Missing Dependency: nagios-plugins = 1.4.15-2.el5 is needed by package nagios-plugins-disk
Error: Missing Dependency: nagios-plugins = 1.4.15-2.el5 is needed by package nagios-plugins-load
Error: Missing Dependency: nagios-plugins = 1.4.15-2.el5 is needed by package nagios-plugins-users
Error: Missing Dependency: nagios-plugins = 1.4.15-2.el5 is needed by package nagios-plugins-procs

Here, I grumble. but ok, quick search for nagios-plugins 1.4.15-2.el5 on google and I find the package, but interestingly the package I downloaded was from the EPEL repository, so, it’s there! why did it not find it? Anyway, ignoring that issue, I try installing it, I alerady have an older nagios-plugins installed, so I run the following:

rpm -Uvh nagios-plugins-1.4.15-2.el5.x86_64.rpm

This results in the following:

nagios-common is needed by nagios-plugins-1.4.15-2.el5.x86_64

Was it not by the older package? or does it mean I have an older version? who knows. Anyway, I run “yum install nagios-common” and that’s now installed, from EPEL, great. So we try rpm -Uvh nagios-plugins-1.4.15-2.el5.x86_64.rpm again, and this time I get the follwing:

error: Failed dependencies:
nagios-plugins = 1.4.13-11.el5 is needed by (installed) nagios-plugins-disk-1.4.13-11.el5.x86_64
nagios-plugins = 1.4.13-11.el5 is needed by (installed) nagios-plugins-load-1.4.13-11.el5.x86_64
nagios-plugins = 1.4.13-11.el5 is needed by (installed) nagios-plugins-users-1.4.13-11.el5.x86_64
nagios-plugins = 1.4.13-11.el5 is needed by (installed) nagios-plugins-procs-1.4.13-11.el5.x86_64

But, wait I was trying to update those packages, it just couldn’t find the one I’m trying to install here. Despite it being in the same place in the repositories! By this time I can feel my blood pressure starting to rise, which is never a good thing. I also keep saying to myself “on Debian, I just run apt-get install … and it does it” anyway, I have to run RHEL for work purposes, all my servers at work are actually running Debian, however, for building we run RHEL to be “compatible” with our customers. Except, we can’t be because it won’t update! So now I have to download the other packages manually, and install them, manually, because it can’t find them.

I’m starting to get annoyed with this, and if it was my own system that I did not need for work, it would have been changed to Debian long ago.

All I can say, is that I feel for anyone that “Tries” Linux and goes for an RPM solution. This is not the first time I have had this issue, and I have even had the issue within the main repositories with packages. It’s annoying, It’s frustrating, and I can’t get rid of it. I just HATE it!

Given a choice of package managers, I would opt for Portage followed by Apt, both are incredibly good and I have very few issues with them.

Bored of Internet idiocy…

Right, I haven’t posted for a while mostly because I’ve been busy with work, social life and moving house, however I’m completely fedup with the idiocy from some ISP’s, media, and people.

IANA have handed out the last /8′s of IPv4. and it couldn’t come sooner in my opinion. I’ve been using IPv6 for many years now, have IPv6 when I’m at home, this is native. I have it at work, this is currently tunnelled, but only because of Mikrotik ROS not supporting native IPv6 over PPPoE on 4.x builds. I even have it on my laptop when I’m sat in a pub. I have helped friends and family get IPv6, and everything on it just works.

Why is it, then, that ISP’s “have no plans” to implement IPv6 still. stop complaining that IPv4′s have run out and you don’t know what to do, IPv6 has been around since 1996, it works well and I have systems that _only_ have IPv6 address’s. Don’t use “there’s no routers on the market that do it” because there is. Billion have one, ZyXEL have one, Comtrend have one. they’re all priced at or under £50. what’s not consumer about them? if you want more, then OpenWRT and DD-WRT DO have IPv6 support, and can be flashed onto many routers, if you want to put the boat out a little, Cisco support IPv6, as do Routerboard.

it is of my opinion that there is absolutely no excuse for not offering IPv6 to consumers, if the consumers don’t want to use it, that’s up to them. Ipv4 is LEGACY it is the OLD Internet. IPv6 is the CURRENTLY used Internet Protocol. so, come-on people, pull your fingers out and get it done. I will not be buying any devices that do not support IPv6 anymore. this includes Routers, VOIP Phones, Printers and even Set-Top Boxes – yes, they have ethernet for their “Interactive” services. if they don’t do IPv6, they will not be used.

For now, back to work…

Spam Emails

I’m sure I’m not alone in hating Spam emails, but we get used to all these common emails for extensions of genitalia and performance enhancing drugs and we quietly discard them, because it doesn’t matter how hard we try, they’re still going to squeeze through occasionally. However, I do not give my email to companies, I, infact create [email protected] for all dealings, thus knowing where “Spam” emails come from. Unfortunately, my domain had spam before I owned it, so stopping some of it really is impossible.

What really ticks me off, is when and email comes to my real email address and is a “marketing email” from a company I have never given my email address to. I have dealt with the company, but only in cash and in person. However, the owner of this company is also a member of a club that I attend. This makes me think that he has taken my email from the confidential systems that are part of that club. I have asked politely that he removes me from his mailing list to no avail and today received yet another SPAM email from him.

At this point, I decided to take things a little further than a polite note asking to be removed, and have sent an email quoting The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (No. 2426) Section 22 to him. I have also quoted Data Protection Act 1998 (c. 29) Section 7 and Section 11, demanding that he removes me from his list, and informs me as to where he retrieved my details from. I’ll be honest, I’m a little fed up with this particular individual, and I’m not too fused about pissing him off a little. However, as he is running a business, and part of my grudge is personal, He and his company will remain anonymous on here.

My problem with this is I take Spam coming in quite seriously, I work hard with companies to reduce the amount of spam they receive, I help out various networks to identify where spam is coming from and where email lists are obtained, so for someone that I know to be doing it I find Very frustrating.

Supplying customers with what they want.

A few months ago, I asked an internet provider,Timico, with which I have a co-location server with if they would supply IPv6 on their network. They told me there were currently no plans to implement it. OK, fine, I’ll use another method, Tunnelling. This is fine, there was a way around the problem, and everything worked fine.

Today, however there was a BBC Article explaining that IPv4 was going to run out soon. well, this isn’t news to me, but reading further into the article, there was news. From the BBC Article: “Unless more ISPs and others start to adopt IPv6 those delays could start to hit general web browsing, fears Mr Davies.” Now. Mr. Davies is Trefor Davies, the Technical Director for Timico. Hold on a moment. Timico told me they had no plans for IPv6. so what’s he talking about?

I have done a small amount of digging, and on Trefor’s personal blog, on the 25th February (only a few weeks after I was told that there were no plans to implement) he said that IPv6 is almost running on the Timico core network. So, why is it not available to their customers, and why have they delayed it this much. I have been using IPv6 for some time now, long before my blog stream started. To start with it was Tunnelled and now I have Native at home, though I’m still Tunnelled at the office, mostly due to some firewall restrictions.

Anyway, My problem with this is that Trefor is quoted saying that people need to move to IPv6, well, they do, but why should he be saying this when the ISP that he is a director of, does not offer it to their customers. My Chosen ISP at home (AAISP) does offer IPv6, they also offer it tunnelled or native, and have done so for a very long time. I have emailed Trefor, and Hopefully he can let in some light about his comments and why he thinks he should be able to say what people should be using when he doesn’t offer what he says they should.

possible updates depending on Trefors response. :-)

Becomming a Communications Provider because of the DEB

I am no longer a “Subscriber” to the internet. I am instead a “Communications Provider” but, what does this mean?

Well, it means I provide some form of Communications to other people at no cost to them and with no contract. In my case I offer Open Public Wifi access for free. It has users using it, and all woks well. I have also made my ISP aware that I am a Communications Provider (infact, it was their idea). There are a number of reasons to do this, the biggest is just to prove how stupid laws can be. The New DEB pretty much makes you guilty of downloading before you’ve even thought about doing it but only as a “Subscriber” (which I now am not). Now, I haven’t downloaded music or video’s, etc for many years. and neither have I bought any. The thought of going to the shop to buy a disk with music on when I’ve not heard any of it and don’t know if I will like it is ludicrous. 5 years ago I downloaded music, if I liked it I went and bought it, if I didn’t like it I quietly discarded it, I don’t really see anything wrong with this. would you go and buy a car without test driving it? would you buy a house without viewing it? no, you wouldn’t. Anyway, I don’t agree with a “guilty until proven innocent” and I dislike being declared “Guilty” on an assumption. I have a network with 10 PC’s why do you think it’s me that’s downloading? could be any of the other people. It is for this reason that I have moved to be a Communications Provider.

I don’t intend on doing any downloading, and maybe I’m making myself automatically guilty by putting myself down as a Communications Provider, but they’re going to have to really prove that *I* was doing the downloading. Given I host public access wifi, good luck with that one. What I’m actually doing is sticking up my middle finger at Labour, and showing them why the law doesn’t work, and why they shouldn’t rush these things through just because there’s an election going on. There’s more important things to worry about.

I think what annoys me the most about this whole thing is the Music Industry, By which I mean the record labels, think they’re losing money, well the artists I saw complaining about people downloading had such shite music I wouldn’t even use it to wipe the dogs arse with. The artists that appears to agree that downloading music could be OK if you could some how monitor it, or limit it, and that it was “The way of the future” are the ones that have good music. The pattern, ah, that’s right, if you write good music people will pay you anyway, if you’re shit people wont. I’m betting everyone that downloaded the music of the complaining artist probably quickly discarded it straight after.

Anyway, back to the point, there are ways around the DEB, and I’m only mentioning one of them here. I’m not the only one doing this, and some ISP’s are advising people do. keep in-mind that an ISP isn’t going to want to send you letters telling you they’re going to disconnect your internet, this would be complete corporate suicide. I advise anyone that can to put themselves down as a Communications Provider, and show the government what’s wrong with their system. Note you can be a Communications Provider even if you just offer the internet to anyone in your own house that is not the “subscriber”, you don’t have to open a network up for public access.

SIP Abuse from Amazon EC2

Ok, so I’ve been slacking again. Actually, I’ve been busy. Recently our VOIP server was receiving a SIP registration attack. the source IP was one from Amazons EC2 Network. having blocked them on the firewall at my end-point, the attack continued to try and send data to my system. I followed protocol, and sent an Abuse report to Amazon EC2. The abuse report contained a graph of the on-going data, seen here:

bbip24890245

It also contained a cut-down of the logs, showing which IP from their network was attacking our system and an explanation of what was happening. This was also CC’d to my ISP, I don’t normally CC them in on abuse reports, as when sending them for SSH attacks there’s alot of them, however, this isn’t the first time it’s happened from the Amazon network, and the data usage was incredibly large. and persisted even after blocking on the firewall. Fortunately for me, My ISP (Andrews and Arnold) give me a lot of control over my lines, including routing tables specific to IP’s that I have allocated and in this instance it took un-routing the subnet from my lines before the traffic stopped (though, according to someone at my ISP, the attack continued for some hours after un-routing the subnet).

Anyway, I received a response from Amazon today, they quoted the IP Address of my server that the attack was going to and had this to say:

Thank you for submitting your abuse report. There was no single customer using the source IP address(es) during the time you provided. This may be due to the fact that we do not own the IP address(es), the time or time zone you provided was incorrect, or there were multiple customers with instances running during the time and IP address(es) you specified. You may try re-submitting your report with a different time if you wish.

What that reads to me is “I didn’t actually look that closely to the logs and ignored most of the information that told me the time-zone in which your network is using, I also don’t know how to read logs, and assumed the IP address was a different one from what you had quoted” I have responded, telling them of their mistake. I have told them again which time-zone the logs are in, and I have told them again which IP Address they should be looking at in the logs. Today, the entire Amazon EC2 network has blocked access to my VOIP Server. What this means is that if there is anyone using Amazon EC2 legitimately for a VOIP server, they can not directly call our numbers.  I doubt this actually happens very often anyway but the least I expect from a company like Amazon when sending in an abuse report is that they actually give it to someone that has more than a single brain cell and doesn’t know what a computer is.

We’ll see what happens with this, but I’m not hopeful, and will never recommend Amazons EC2 service to anyone.

J