Republished Content

Articles marked as 'Republished' were written by me, but first published somewhere else (usually Benscomputer.no-ip.org, the predecessor to this site)

  • Computrend Powergrid 902 Powerline Adaptors

    This was originally published at Benscomputer.no-ip.org
  • Hacking the Computrend Powergrid 902 Powerline Adaptor

    This was originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org in 2009

  • Howto uninstall the Security Tool Scareware package

    A friend recently asked me to take a look at her laptop as it was reporting that it had numerous viruses. When I fired it up, you couldn't run a thing,  but there was numerous warnings about Viruses trying to steal my credit card data.

  • Republished: A basic guide to the Internet for the Simple Minded

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 26 Nov 2009

    There's been something of a furore amongst the PC Brigade about a picture of Michelle Obama that appeared in Google's Image search result. As ever the BBC have launched a debate in the Have Your Say section. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this debate does very little other than highlighting how ill informed a large section of the Internet using populace are.


    So lets dispell a few of the most common misunderstandings that are displayed in the vast array of comments;



    a) Google is not responsible

    Google is a search engine, they neither authored or OK'd the picture. They use software to rank links and images, based on a number of things, including the number of pages that have linked to a given bit of media. They also rank based on relevance to search criteria. What they do not do is 'post' the image.

    The image was posted to a website somewhere on the net by someone, it was not Google's doing. All Google did was to index the page, based on comments made by Google it does sound like the original authors may be linked to malware, but as no malware was found on the host page, there's no reason to remove the listing. Measures of offensiveness do not come into it.



    b) Just because you find something offensive, not everyone does

    Offensiveness is very subjective, so who's going to measure it? I find articles in some of the national newspapers to be quite offensive, especially when they are so clearly biased and ill informed. Do I call for them to be censored? No. Similarly I find the average level of intelligence on todays internet quite offensive compared to the original intent of DARPAnet and the like. Do I demand that 80% of the populace have their connections terminated? No.

    So why should you demand that a third party censor the information that I can consume? Would you be happy if I called for the Daily Mail to be banned, because I believe they publish nothing of worth? Probably not. If you don't like what you see and read, click the little cross in the top right hand corner. Or even just the 'Back' button in your browser!

    Don't waste bandwidth by spouting a load of vitriol about how much you dissaprove of something, and how we should all be 'protected' from it.

    There are customs in other parts of the world that you and I would find offensive, similarly there are things we do that are grossly offensive in other parts of the world. So who exactly is going to define offensiveness. If you are really that concerned, you have three choices - 1) Install something like Net Nanny 2) Move to China or Iran where the work is done for you 3) Call your ISP and cancel your Internet Service. Don't try and create a secret option 4 where you interfere with what the rest of the world sees.



    c) Censorship is a bad thing

    You may believe you have the best intentions, but it is a very slippery slope. First we have 'offensive' images blocked, then the Government decides there are bits of information that are useful to Terrorists. Then it's information that could be useful to paedophiles and other lesser criminals. Before you know it what are we left with? Access to CBeebies and not a lot else. Of course there will always be the Government approved sites, but just like in China, dissidents will be cracked down on in an attempt to sheild the rest of the Populace from 'unsavoury' information.

    Most of us will trade a little bit of freedom for the privilege of not stumbling across child porn, but even that process is not nearly transparent enough. What happens if you are blocked by accident? Or incorrectly categorised, how do you appeal. Hell how do you even know that your site is on the blacklist? The answer to all 3 is, you can't.

    Its a trade most of us are willing to make, but that's as far as it can ever be allowed to go.



    d) The Internet is not a safe place

    Believe it or not the Internet contains a lot of information that could offend or even harm you, let alone your darling children. So why would you let them surf unsupervised?? There was quite a tirade by the head of the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre on BBC Radio 4 last week. Incidentally he came across as very single minded and a bit of a bully, but I guess his heart is in the right place. He was complaining that the likes of Facebook and Myspace won't impliment his 'Panic Button' to allow kids to report anything that concerns them. Facebook and Myspace both claim that they have processes in place that are more effective, but this all misses an important point.

    If you need a button on every website so that your child can report predators etc. it means a number of things;


    1. You're probably letting your kids surf unsupervised
    2. Your kids wouldn't tell you about something concerning them

    Both of these indications are not faults of the internet. They are failings in your parenting skills, kids should not be allowed on the net unsupervised (the age at which they can go it alone is debatable), and if your kids can't trust you enough to tell you about Bill the Pedo on Facebook, try spending some more time with them!

    More to the point, if they don't feel they can talk to you about it, why would they then be willing to talk to an anonymous copper who is more than likely to tell you anyway? The internet is not a safe place for kids. Period.

    If you're letting young children on the net, install Net Nanny or one of the free alternatives. It's really not that difficult.



    Conclusion

    Some people completely fail to understand how the net works, and the dangers that lie therein. Not everyone is technically minded so this alone does not make those people any less intelligent. When these users become truly stupid is when they lets kids run free on something that they do not understand themselves. Or when they begin extolling the virtues of their beliefs and feelings by calling for greater censorship to protect their fragile minds from the nast images out there.

    However, the level of truly stupid is reserved for those that believe that censorship is spelt sensorship. These people appear so lacking in relevant intelligence that they should not even qualify to participate in so important a debate. A simple bit of research before vomiting ones opinion onto the web is a must, and a failure to do so can easily lead to the impression that you are trying to punch above your weight.

  • Republished: A bit of info on the Phorm Debacle

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 5 Mar 2008

    The tech news pages are alive with the news that BT, Virgin Media and Talk Talk are planning to sell its customers browsing information to a company named Phorm.

    BT claims that the new 'service' Webwise is intended to improve the browsing safety of its users. It includes a list of Phishing sites, and warns users when they attempt to connect to one of the listed sites. Newsflash for you guys: FIREFOX ALREADY HAS THIS FUNCTIONALITY. Its nothing new, and of no real benefit if you already have a browser that does this. It's also not a lot of use if you are wary of emails from institutions that ask for personal details.
    Unfortunately WebWise also sends your browsing history (and a copy of everything you send/download on unsecured connections) to Phorms servers where they will profile it and effectively mangle some of the pages you download to include adverts that they believe may interest you.
    This mangling will only happen on pages that run adverts from Phorm, not every site will be effected.

  • Republished: A couple of issues with Karmic Koala

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 05 November 2009

    I reviewed Karmic Koala a few days ago, and though I did encounter a few minor niggles, everything was running quite well. However that has now changed, I've discovered two issues, both of which I would class as pretty major usability issues.

  • Republished: A look at BT's Trial Documentation

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 14 June 2009

    Now, it can hardly have escaped anyones attention that BT ran some very questionable trials of Phorms system. It's been on BBC News, as well as many other sources, including the Governments refusal to take action. This has led to the EU intervening on our behalf, not that much has happened from that so far.

    But most of the media has focused on the RIPA element of it, that is to say the Illegal Interception of the users traffic. Having read the leaked test documentation (Have a look on WikiLeaks), I'd say that there's another element to it that appears to have gone largely unnoticed.

    The original trial involved injecting Javascript into each and every page the user visited (with some unfortunate results on forums), and based on the test documentation, even users who were opted out (not that they were given the opportunity in the trials) would find JavaScript being run on every page.

  • Republished: A look at the Windows 7 RC

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 06 May 2009 (Images sadly missing at restoration time)

    So, being a fairly well balanced person, I thought I would give Windows 7 at least the benefit of the doubt. So after a surprisingly quick download (either MS prepped their servers, or everyone else has been using Bittorrent!), I started installing Windows 7 Build 7100.

  • Republished: A quick look at Webwise Discover

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 06 June 2009

    Well, as I posted in the News links yesterday, Phorm have launched a service called Webwise Discover. It appears that this is largely a front end, allowing the user to further benefit from having Phorm follow you around the internet.

    But lets take a quick look at it;

  • Republished: A suggestion for BT

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 27 October 2008

    Given that BT claim to be creating a network level opt-out from Phorm, I thought I would give them a bit of a helping hand. They claim that although it will be implemented, it's unlikely to be in place by the time the WebWise system is rolled out.

  • Republished: Amazon Kindle DRM Broken

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 23 December 2009

    Amazons Kindle DRM has been broken by an Israeli guy. Quite what will happen next isn't clear though, will Amazon learn the lesson that Apple learnt after DVD Jon cracked the ironically named Fairplay? Or will they move to update and 'improve' their Digital Restrictions Management?

  • Republished: Apple elects for more Vendor Lock In

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 04 June 2006

    It would seem that Apple have elected for more vendor lock-in. It used to be possible to download a Windows executable file to update the firmaware of your iPod, however now you are forced to download iTunes 7 and update through that.

    That may seem like something normal, but the beauty of the old system was us Linux users could extract the new firmware and install it manually, now we can't as Apple don't provide a Linux version of iTunes. This from a company who has already been criticised for Vendor lock in with their Fairplay DRM.

    One day companies will remember that it is the consumer who provides their revenue, and that whilst it may be a small percentage, creating disgruntled customers is never a good idea. Once the world becomes aware of what companies are doing to restrict their rights (DRM, Vendor lock-in etc) these companies are going to find themselves very short of revenue.

  • Republished: Battery Not Charging on SV650

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org Feb 2009.

     

    This page is here as a reference for others experiencing the issues I have been having on my 2002 SV650-S lately.

    SYMPTOM: Battery not charging, so bike refuses to start every so often. Misfire in Idle range but not always on the same cylinder.

     

  • Republished: BT Finally See Sense

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 18 March 2008

    There have been murmers online that BT are planning to do the same as Carphone Wharehouse and make a few changes to the Phorm system, by creating a virtual wall between people who haven't opted in and the profiling hardware. They also intend to do away with the cookie 'opt-out' and create something more in line with the law. I sent BT an email a few days ago asking a variety of questions about the system (I'm on BT and don't like the system one bit) and got the following as a reply

  • Republished: Climate Change affects us in ways you would not expect

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 27 Nov 2009

    It's becoming increasingly clear that Climate Change definitely effects the Human race, but not in ways that you may think. The Australian Government is currently in chaos with a massive Liberal revolt, the cause? Climate Change.

    Many of the Liberals do not believe that man is responsible for the current warming trend (a view, incidentally, I agree with.) and so are refusing to pass a bill through the Australian Senate where the Democratic Government is severely under represented. The end result of this is that the Prime Minister may call a snap election (I don't understand Australian Politics, but this sounds a bit strange!). Even the Liberal leader says that a snap election would harm the Liberals greatly.

  • Republished: Looking at the Digital Britain Report

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 16 June 2009

    Well, the long awaited 'Digital Britain' report is out. It's 254 pages long, and not being at the RSA I haven't had chance to have a full read through yet. I have managed to pick out a few highlights though, and although certain sections made me want to throttle whoever suggested Lord Carter was the right man, he does redeem himself in other areas.

    So lets take a look at the good and then the bad;

  • Republished: Managing Change in an IT Environment

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org Aug 2009.

    Whether it's a full network migration, or simply a change of Server Software, it is essential that any change is properly managed. Some changes occur after the IT department suggest them as the best course of action, whilst some are the result of managerial decisions. Whether it's to cut costs, to streamline the workflow or simply to acheive a more stable system, incorrect management of the change can be disastrous.

    When preparing for the change, many people make the mistake of only planning for the change itself. You need to go further than that, plan the entire migration period. Create contigency plans, ensure that your disaster recovery plans are suitable for use with the new system.

    This article assumes that as part of the change, you are installing a new managed network. If that's not what you are doing, the steps of planning are relevant, it's just that a number of the checks and possible deviations probably aren't.

     

  • Republished: Manual Database Retrieval Script for ZoneAlarm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org Jun 2008 (Note: Attached Script still works at time of Republishing)

     

    I was browsing the net earlier to try and find an answer to whether it is possible to manually download the ZoneAlarm Anti-Virus signatures. For those wondering why you would want to, standalone machines can't access the net to download the signatures, but are still subject to users with CD's and USB sticks. The easy way would be to update ZoneAlarm on a net connected PC and then copy the files from C:\Windows\System32\Zonelabs\avsys\base\ but if you don't have access to one, but do have a Linux Box then the script I have written will fetch the files for you (there are a lot, but they only add up to about 30 megs at time of writing).

     

  • Republished: No Phoul Play Involved - Good Phorm by BadPhorm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 5 May 2009

    A question posed on the StopPhoulPlay blog;

    The more interesting question is this: if the Home Office and the many expert legal advisors we consulted are wrong, how is it that a system such as GMail - which scans emails from non-account holders without their consent to GMail users - is not also an ?interception? and as such not also a prime target of their campaign?

    Unlike Gmail?s webmail service, which is perfectly legal, Phorm?s system is fully anonymous, does not look at email and does not store personal information such as IP addresses. Surely if FIPR/ORG is genuinely interested in a fair debate and the application of law as it sees it, the question merits a response?

  • Republished: Nobody wants Phorm checking their data

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 12 March 2008

    The ISP's may not believe that no-one wants Phorm intercepting their traffic, but Phorms share price certainly seems to have taken a hit since the plans were made public. Someone out there certainly recognises that most people are not going to want this so-called service

    Perhaps this may help motivate the ISP's to fulfil their customers needs rather than chasing the elusive golden penny.

    On the Plus Side, Carphone Warehouse are looking a tbuilding a 'wall' between customers that opt-out and Phorms hardware, so this is a step in the right direction at least. The others may soon follow suit, though comments on the net suggest that these three ISP's have already lost quite a good portion of customers.
    BT are pushing their luck with me, I've sent them two e-mails about this, had one reply that was completely irrelevant to my original communication, and no reply since. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt for now, as there are presumably internal talks happening about the Phorm issue, but they only have so long before I decide to change ISP.