Archive for the Venting Category

BT dumps Phorm

Posted in Venting with tags , on July 6, 2009 by Apollo

Insidious online snooper Phorm has been ditched by former key player BT.

BT may have made some mistakes in the past, but this at least is one of the company’s better decisions.

The controversial Phorm system tracks users using DPI (deep packet inspection) to analyse their viewed content and habits, and target them with relevant advertising on subsequent pages.

BT carried out secret test using the system in 2006 and 2007, but without customer’s consent, and this is now being investigated by the European Commission which considers the UK government failed to protect its citizens online.

BT, which received complaints from its customers about Phorm, said the decision reflected its need to conserve resources as it prepares to invest £1.5 billion in its plans to provide a next-generation, super-fast broadband network for 10 million homes by 2012. Privately, BT bosses have become increasingly concerned about consumer resistance to advertising based on monitoring their online behaviour, and specifically about the backlash against Phorm.

The two remaining players, Virgin Media and Talk Talk still control about 75% of the UK broadband market: Virgin Media is reported to still be interested, due to the services it offers, but is now less enthusiastic with regard to to Phorm as its reputation slips; and Talk Talk is reported to have stated that it is watching, but would only implement the system on an opt-in basis, but has stated it has no time-scale in place for deployment.

One of the nastier aspects of the original Phorm system is that it was configured as an opt-out service, in other word, you were automatically rolled into it whether on not you wanted to be, and had to deliberately register your desire not to be tracked and targeted by the system.

Losing BT, its original partner in crime, and provider of secret tests carried out on unsuspecting BT customers, is a significant event, and Phorm is burning significant finds without making returns. If the backlash continues, then even though it is winning funds on the basis of future advertising returns, continuing delays and the unpopularity of being associated with the brand must just see it go belly up before it can make a profit and sustain itself.

Fifth Gear’s fraud reporter

Posted in Tagged, TV, Venting with tags , , on July 4, 2009 by Apollo

Ugly female ghostSad to see another episode of Fifth Gear with Johnny Smith still bringing the quality of the program down.

Even the other presenters used the expression “run out of talent” as we saw the lacklustre Smith destroy yet another Smart Car, as he rolled his “wheelie car” onto its roof. Even when his more talented co-presenter landed his larger wheelie car on Smith’s car, he failed to crush Smith’s roll cage with the additional weight. Sadly, some real design failures going on there.

Unfortunately, unlike an earlier incident in a previous series, where one of the other presenters managed to end up with a broken foot after his modified Rascal van had an off, Smith managed to thwart the assassination attempt, as the crew had done an unacceptably responsible job on the Smart’s roll cage, and rather than collapsing in the incident, it stayed complete and protected him.

I guess we can thank Health & Safety for this mistake, and no win no fee claims, which even he would have been able to use if he had been killed.

We were then subjected to his excruciating attempts to be clever, as he tried to make some funny remarks while driving the Ghostbuster’s car.

Laugh? I nearly stopped sticking pins in my eyes just stop the tears so I could see ECTO 1.

The funniest part of the whole thing was the fraud presenter had chosen to invite a psychic to partner him during the piece. A fraud accompanied by a psychic – appropriate or what?

Typical of the pathetic attempts he makes to present a report was the hackneyed and clichéd scene he put together using low-light cameras shooting in the dark in a supposedly haunted room.

That must have taken all of nearly a second to dream up, and then he adds to the insult to our intelligence by trying to convince us that everyone’s really really scared, and that strange things happened in the room.

Please Fifth Gear, just give him the order of the boot, and your standing against Top Gear will take an immediate rise.

Fred Pearce – What’s you point caller?

Posted in Transport, Venting with tags , , , , on June 11, 2009 by Apollo

Red LamborghiniI’ve no idea if Fred Pearce is a Green Loony, or suffers from SFB (shit for brains), but I wonder just what the point of his Guardian article, mocking car maker Lamborghini, under the heading of Greenwash is.

If we accept that cars are one of the great evils of our time, throwing out tons of various pollutants and hastening the end of the world in the great global warmer burn-up, then it makes senses to target car manufacturers and expose the various levels of pollutants their products pile out into the atmosphere. We probably have to accept the same complaint against cows as well, as they pass tons of methane into the atmosphere – yet there are no tables comparing the various breed, or taxes on the farmers that own them.

Does it make sense to single out Lamborginhi?

Perhaps giving someone like Fred Pearce a platform like the Guardian is not really such a good idea, as he can hijack for his own personal agendas, rather than globally relevant matters.

While the volume car makers produce millions of cars globally, and rather than do something that would cut pollution, are propped up by things like government funded car scrappage schemes – paying car owners to scrap a perfectly good old car, and replace it with a shiny new one, thereby keeping car manufacturers in business, while ignoring the environmental insanity that says producing a new car to replace an existing old car also produces more pollution than continuing to run the already manufactured older car – minority specialist manufacturers like Lamborghini (even if grouped together with their peers) only produce a few thousand cars in any given year. Even if their vehicles produced ten times the emissions of an ordinary car, their number (and perhaps more importantly, usage)  are simply insufficient to make any other than a negligible contribution to global warming.

In truth, most of these cars spend their lives in garages or museums. Most of the owners bring them out only at weekends and special occasions, even the well-heeled look to the single figure miles-per-gallon figures their expensive toys return. In the past few years, I have seen one Diablo and one Murcielago actually on the road, or parked at a house near me. The only Countach used to sit in a car museum year on year, until it closed a few years ago. Even when they’re on the road, many of these cars only register a few thousand miles in any year, and many cover only a thousand, being sold on after ten years with 10,000 miles or less on their odometers.

I’m not even going to venture far into America, where the multi-millionare celebrity rubbish seems to have a garage with at least 20-30 cars from stables like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin etc etc. Those cars aren’t going anywhere far or fast – not unless the owner lives in them and drives them 24/7. They probably waste more water as their slaves wash them, and more polloution from the waxes and polishes they use to keep them ready for the media to come and film them, and worship at the altar of their god-like owners.

No, I’m afraid the only reason I can see for Fred Pearce running his story and putting the boot into Lamborghini for daring to announce that it was making a gesture at environmental concerns (and it had to, as its customers and fans would expect it, whether or not it made any real difference – and there is the small matter of the company being owned by the Volkswagen Group, which does make lots of cars, and doesn’t want anything adverse in its catalogue) is that he harbours deep seated feelings of jealousy and resentment of Lamborghini, and has the tool to express that to a wide audinence, in the hope of winning some popularity amongst those with the same problem.

Fred Pearce would do better to just come out and say he disapporves of Lamborgini, call for it (and presumably any other similar make) to be consigned to the nearest scrapyard, and get on with writing the much better, more balanced, and usefull Greenwas articles that I found he had written in the past.

Personal issues should be kept for blogs (yes, like this one), and editors should be more careful with what they allow their contributors to publish.

The dopey dongle

Posted in Tech, Venting with tags , , , on April 29, 2009 by Apollo

I can’t believe I’m alone in thinking that the USB dongle must be one of the most badly designed, if well intentioned, devices ever to be plugged into a laptop.

I’ve usually managed to avoid these items by generally going with PCMCIA options when adding things to laptops, but recently had to add a wireless mouse, which needed the inevitable dongle, dangling almost 4 centimetres outside the edge of the laptop body. I just knew the inevitable would happen.

Things were fine for a while, but eventually you grow used to these things, and I discovered it wasn’t only moving the laptop that could be a problem, but also things around it. The first dongle bend wasn’t too bad, and was easily remedied, but had proved the principle for problems.

The second event was more serious, and was simply a “real world” event when the laptop was moved, and the fact that dongle stuck out so far mean it caught and ripped out at an angle. It basically disassembled itself, and the USB section was all but ripped off the PCB. Fortunately, being mounted on the end of the board meant there was little to be damaged, and after a little re-engineering, glue, and solder, things were back together again – and working fine.

Third up was potentially the worst case, and with the best of care, a drop will happen, and did, soon after the first repair. Because the repair was stronger in some respects than the original USB fitting, and in this case the USB plug was slightly bent out of shape. Cue a repeat repair, and a little bit of delicate metal bashing and all was well again, but there little doubt that repeating this damage was not going to go on time after time with no ill effect, so although it means dragging a wire around, an extension will have to be used to avoid this in future.

It seems silly that the standard solid long dongle design persists, as it seems bound to get damaged at some point in its life.

I just picked up a free USB wireless dongle – same dopey design which sticks out of the laptop for almost 5 centimetres. Fortunately, I don’t actually need it.

These long USB dongles just seem to be crying out for some sort of intelligent redesign, or even just a simple hinge.

If they could be reduced in size, which doesn’t seem impractical given what is visible on the board (I reckon the length could easily be halved), it would help, although I suppose the antenna needs are likely to mean they would never shrink down to the size of the Bluetooth USB dongles which can be fitted and almost forgotten, as they only extend about 5 millimetres from the socket.

Oh well, I’ll just enjoy my cordless mouse… with its cord!

Conman David Blaine caught out

Posted in TV, Venting with tags , on September 25, 2008 by Apollo

Looks like I was right the other day, when I fingered David Blaine’s latest supposed “stunt” as nothing more than yet another of his cons dressed up as… well, I don’t know. He doesn’t do illusions, he doesn’t do magic, he just hoodwinks people.

His latest money-spinner was a claim that he would be hoisted by his heels over the Wollmann ice rink in New York on Monday, and that he would remain that way until Wednesday night.

I said it was rubbish, a rubbish idea, and a rubbish claim – don’t take my word for it, I can’t stand the guy, even looking at him is enough to irritate me, let alone his smug, condescending, arrogant and insulting approach to everyone.

See what his fans said on the BBC:

But some claimed they had been duped into believing Blaine would remain inverted for the entire 60 hours.

“I am totally unimpressed,” said one onlooker. “If his name hadn’t been David Blaine I would never have come.

Blaine shrugged off criticism during the stunt, telling one interviewer that he was “not going to pee all over myself”.

No, leave that pleasure for the rest of us, you’ve been doing it to us for long enough, we deserve a chance to get out own back.

Ach, he’d probably video it, and sell it to a fetish site.

More boring that watching dried paint drying

Posted in TV, Venting with tags , , on September 19, 2008 by Apollo

I’ve always thought the most pathetic so-called illusionist in the world, the insipid and insulting David Blaine, was good for nothing other than offending anyone that he conned into watching him, as his “feats” were such blatant fiddles (and have had their “how-to” shown by proper illusionists, presumably similarly unimpressed), but I was wrong, and although he won’t be hanged the right way to make his next three-day sopor even vaguely relevant, Apollo’s cat came up with a suggestion for making the thing a bit more interesting:

Inspired by the cat’s thoughts, here’s my suggestion for making David’s 3 day special more interesting:

Some worship him, I really don’t know why, his magic is far from impressive, his attitude is far from endearing.

I can only assume he knows the right people, and who to give shares in his ridiculous takings. An undated entry in one of the Blaine-worshipping sites stated he made $6 million from performing street magic in a year. If that’s the case, then I can only say he’s overpaid by about $5,999,999 or so.

If he was actually going to be hanging upside down for 3 days, there might be a chance of something hemorrhaging – other than the wallets and cheque books of any gullible mugs around him – but he’ll have some sort of fiddle organised so he’s not really hanging there for 3 days, so there’s no chance of an outcome.

Conned by American Inventor

Posted in TV, Venting with tags , , , , on September 14, 2008 by Apollo

Last year we (non-satellite viewers in the UK) were treated to the second series of American Inventor. A rather dire presentation of a few worthy people insterspersed a morass of others that have no idea about what an invention or business is, or with any finacial brain cells between their ears – if the riduculous amounts of tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars that they claim to have spent on their ideas is to be believed. Not only they, but their families need looking after by psychiatrists or guardians.

We’re currently being treated to another series, and after I had a look at the show’s background was disappointed to see that we’ve been shown the only two series in reverse order. What we saw last year was shot in 2007, and the current offering is from 2006! The only good thing found was the concept seems to have been dropped.

I likened the first (second?) series was something akin to “car crash TV”, and as the presentations rolled up in front of the judges it was less a case of “What’s next?”, and more of “Oh no! What Now?”, as a series of largely deluded individual strolled in, sometimes with their similarly deranged (brainwashed?) families in tow. You just wonder which one is going to mow the judges down in a bloodbath, or alternatively is going to collapse and drop dead from a heart attack or stroke when they’re turned down.

It’s a real shame – if the producers had just vetted the applicants seriously, instead of for entertainment value, there could have been a good show here, and not a travesty where success was more dependent on hard the applicant might cry and plead about being peniless, living in a carboard box, and having sold the kids off to slavery – and sent the partner out (or gone out) on the street to make some money for food.

I think there are two great surprises associated with this show.

The first is that Peter Jones was not only associated with, but is said to have been party to its creation. Even though there was the chance of picking up a good business investment somewhere along the line, listening to him speak about business would suggest he’s not that intersted in quite such a longshot.

The second is that I’m watching a show produced by smarmy creep Simon Cowal, who has made millions by doing nothing other than getting a cut of money earned by others in the name of celebrity – something they should pay for privilege of, rather than having ordinary people fund for their worthless hides.