BeThere to Sky Broadband

Given BT have finally updated our street cabinet to support FTTC, my home broadband will soon hopefully be moving form BeThere to Sky. The monthly cost remains roughly the same, but I move from about 8mbit to 40mb. I hope.

Except, Sky own BeThere. So perhaps I’m not really moving – but this didn’t stop BeThere sending me emails and texts (“We’re sorry to hear you’re leaving” etc).

Anyway, while signing up for Sky and talking to their minion on the phone ……

Sky minion: “So, we need to take some details from you for security purposes … what’s your mother’s maiden name? …. What’s your postcode? …… Choose a password ? “.

Five minutes later, when I had to ring Sky back to give them a MAC code I’d written down from talking to a BeThere minion :

Sky minion: “What’s your password sir?”

Me: xxxxxxxx

Sky minion: “That’s not what we have here, what’s your mother’s maiden name?”

Me: xxxxxxxx

Sky minion: “OK, Thanks. I’ll update your password to xxxxxxxxx”.


Encryption / NSA / GCHQ and Open Source software

So, apparently the NSA and GCHQ are able to break some encryption protocols/formats, and have widespread access to Skype / Hotmail / Outlook / Gmail / Facebook etc.

I’m not sure why this is thought to be a surprise. It’s their job to do this, right?

While I’m not convinced the widespread trawling of data has been done with appropriate safeguards in place (it doesn’t sound like it has been) it isn’t that different to how it was an openly acknowledged secret that the state had automated monitoring of phone calls for certain keywords/phrases 10-15 years ago (nuke, bomb, anthrax etc) which no one particularly cared about then.

I’m skeptical that the revelations will have much of an effect on “professional” terrorists – who must have already been aware that anything transmitted electronically could not be guaranteed safe from eves-dropping. The main harm will surely be that the West can no longer claim the ‘moral high ground’ when it comes to surveillance / monitoring / hacking / infiltration – which it used to with states like China and North Korea.

Perhaps the revelations will lead to a wider uptake of open source software (which is presumably harder for a state to infiltrate/backdoor)? Certainly it should now be exceedingly hard for any state to justify using Microsoft Windows in any part of government where the information is classified/secret.




Spam and Comic Sans.

Today, I received a spammy email from an unknown golf club. There was no obvious unsubscribe link or instructions, so I blindly replied with :

Please remove 'xxxxxx' from your mailing list; we've no interest in golf…


They replied with :


But it was actually :

<FONT color=#0000ff size=4 face=”Comic Sans MS”>REMOVED OK</FONT>


comic sans thank you
So I had to reply with :

<div style=”text-align: center;”><u style=”font-size: 144px; color: rgb(245, 236, 0); font-family: ‘Comic Sans MS’; “><b>Thank you!1!!</b></u></div>

Horrible yellow comic sans thing


I fear the intricacies of my reply were lost on them.


Rubbish CV from recruitment company (rant/moan)

Today I received a programmer’s CV from a random recruiter…

Under experience, the most recent entry has a URL provided which points to a login form.  From which I can tell nothing. So, that’s pointless/useless and illustrates nothing.

The second entry under experience points to a Zend framework based site – “I have designed and developed It is a website designed to enable small scale producers to sell directly to the public. The website uses ZF / MySQL / Javascript / jQuery / Ajax and CSS/CSS3”.

Well, he’s scored OK on buzzword bingo from the above.

*Clicks on link*.

*Oh, WTF?*

The site turns out to be :

  • Frames based
  • Contain no real content (clicking on links calls a ‘submitForm(“rah”)’ JS function…. )
  • Be missing error handling (e.g. trying http://sillysite/rah/rah/rah/rah -> PHP exception trace)
  • Clearly based on a quick start tutorial (view -> source etc) due to commented out code embedded within
  • Contain horrible Javascript (worse than mine) (clearly this guy doesn’t actually know how to use jQuery)

From the domain name I can at least discover who the CV belongs to; that seems to be the only benefit of it. But now I know to avoid him.

Oh, and did I mention how under ‘Main Skills’ Dropbox is listed.

So, no, sorry… I don’t think I’ll consider hiring you for ~30k+.

The Post Office

Earlier today, I went to the Post Office in Bromsgrove, to buy some Euros.

The conversation I had with the minion behind the counter is paraphrased as follows :

  • Me: Hi, I’d like to buy $x euros, please?
  • Her: How do you wish to pay?
  • Me: By card? <<waves debit card at her>>
  • Her: We’ll need proof of ID (Passport etc)
  • Me: <<sighs>> Why?
  • Her: It’s an anti-fraud thing, you don’t think like a criminal do you?
  • Me: Errr? <<WTF?>>
  • Her: If you’ve stolen a card, the first thing you do is try and withdraw money using it … blah blah blah fraud blah blah blah ….
  • Me: But, it needs a PIN number to be used…?
  • Her: It’s ok, <<gestures at the card reader infront of me>> – that acts like a cash point. You can withdraw the right amount of cash to pay for your euros using it…
  • Me: <<WTF?>>
  • Her: Now, just put your card in the reader and type in your PIN when requested….
  • Me: <<types in pin>>
  • Her: <<hands over euros>>

I know I’m often a bit dim, but I’m failing to understand the ‘process’. Wasn’t I meant to have proof of ID to buy euros using my debit card?

How is me “withdrawing” cash for her, any different to me paying by card – especially when the process from my point of view is IDENTICAL.