New blog

All new content on my restarted blog is here

Saturday, April 7

High res Brum at last

  • Amongst new high-resolution photo coverage updates for Google Earth for England are:
    Northamptonshire, Nottingshire, Berkshire, Peakdistrict, Birmingham (where the new developments like Selfridge's were absent), Greater Manchester, Avon, Gloucestershire, and Lincolnshire.
    Also included were Sydney Harbour and the Matterhorn.

  • Google Earth Blog

Spam? Where art thou?

Blogger's little Bot is telling me it suspects my blog might be Spam.

Until a human can have a look it's making me enter Word Verification every time I edit something or post (until Tuesday I s'pose).

So where are the tell-tale signs of Spam on my blog I'm wondering?

How can you tell?



Just received (Monday, day earlier than I thought)


Your blog has been reviewed, verified, and cleared for regular use so that it will no longer appear as potential spam. If you sign out of Blogger and sign back in again, you should be able to post as normal. Thanks for your patience, and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

The Blogger Team
Nothing as to why but a quick scan of other blogs suggest either images and links were the key thing alerting the algorithm (but I'll never really know, OR that someone 'alerted' them :{

Tesco's so-called accessibility has made something of how accessible it is — and with good reason, it is the best UK Supermarket website.

It's competitors have quite rightly been criticised for their lack of effort (although,'s last redesign and how it happened caused negative changes to it's accessibility according to some experts).

But what is the point of creating an 'accessible' website if people can't buy anything? This is the case for up to ten million British people with basic bank accounts.

BBC Radio Four's MoneyBox reports [ Listen to this item (RealAudio) ] that several years after first alerting Tesco, they are still refusing to accept payments using Visa's Electron card.

Back in 2005, the program reported that due to the Halifax's decision to switch basic bank account customers to Electron, they could no longer use it with a host of retailers such as Boots, M&S, B&Q, Argos - and Tesco. (Sainsbury + Asda do take Electron).

The Halifax's response was that 'as only 20,000 Cardcash customers regularly shop online, it does not consider this to be a huge problem'.
The Government is encouraging, and in some cases forcing, people to open basic bank accounts.

Because of the way supermarkets have carved up the country, many people do not have a choice — they have to use Tesco.

What this means, MoneyBox reported, is that car-less disabled people are 'forced to ask others to pay on their behalf' for online shopping with Tesco.
Said one daughter of her housebound mother, "it robs her of her independence".
So we have people who are doing exactly what the Government wants:
  • they are using online services
  • they don't drive
  • they run a basic bank account
and still they can't get anywhere.

Tesco does not have an explanation as to why they dont take Electron payments. Since these are debit cards, there is even less reason why they wouldn't take them.

MoneyBox characterised their attitude as "unexplained unwillingness".

They also noted that Tesco's press people now realise that there is no reason why they can't take Electron payments, but also that they've had few complaints.

Every little helps!

Here's your chance to do something — contact Tesco and tell them to start accepting Electron (they could do this TODAY).

Net is 38 years old today


Tony Long

1969: The publication of the first “request for comments,” or RFC, documents paves the way for the birth of the internet.

The Internet has a diameter of about 10,000 pookies. Here's a layout showing the major ISPs.

April 7 is often cited as a symbolic birth date of the net because the RFC memoranda contain research, proposals and methodologies applicable to internet technology. RFC documents provide a way for engineers and others to kick around new ideas in a public forum; sometimes, these ideas are adopted as new standards by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

One interesting aspect of the RFC is that each document is issued a unique serial number. An individual paper cannot be overwritten; rather, updates or corrections are submitted on a separate RFC. The result is an ongoing historical record of the evolution of internet standards.

When it comes to the birth of the net, Jan. 1, 1983, also has its supporters. On that date, the National Science Foundation’s university network backbone, a precursor to the World Wide Web, became operational.
  • The first ARPANET link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute on 21 November 1969.

Bytes · Big easy smokes Google - Google's free website optimizer -'s strategy

  • Google has updated, sorry expedited, new maps of New Orleans after the Katrina 'airbrushing' incident, which led to questions in the US Congress.

  • It's launched a free Website Optimizer.

  • GeoIQ have released a service for generating heat maps on top of Google Maps.

  • has launched an obscure, anti-Google campaign [TV Ad link]

    Apparently I've seen it but I can't recall it at all (we seem to have a surfeit of obscure. weird ads at the moment - consequently less impact). Can't recall seeing anyone handing our Ask buttons in 'Che Guevara-like dress' either. They even plastered the slogan "free the information" onto the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and have you seen any coverage?

    The campaign was described as 'risky' by the Wall Street Journal, primarily because it isn't clearly branded and web users don't like being duped. The landing site isn't clearly branded either.

    Such is Google's domination, especially in the UK, that Ask admit that they have "little to lose" despite.
  • Q&A With's Gary Price
  • Ask's strategy does seem to chime with the current suspicious (paranoid?) Zeitgeist around Google. On John Batelle's Blog, he was corrected on what Google new Mac version of Google Desktop actually does:
    John, I'm with you on the fear that big organizations, however well intentioned, will ultimately abuse the trust placed in them. Since your clickstream, search history, credit record, phone calls and emails all traverse corporate - or government-controlled - networks, they're vulnerable.

    But in the case of Google Desktop, this product sends no data to Google unless you specifically request it to. You can't accidentally send your hard-disk contents, or even an index of your PC, to Google.

    From the Google Desktop Privacy FAQ:
    1. Does Google Desktop share the contents of my computer with anyone?
    No. Your Google Desktop index and copies of your files are currently stored only on your computer.
    2. What does Google Desktop do with the information on my computer?
    Google Desktop stores copies of the items it finds on your computer's hard drive ... Your Google Desktop index and copies are currently stored only on your computer ...
    (Though that word "currently" makes it sound like it may not always be true!)

Thursday, April 5

Chimp-o-matic + other slow widgets


Had to lose yet another widget..

Chimp-o-matic, which served up hot,delicious Bush-isms ...

.. only tooo .. sl.. oo.. ww.. l .. yyy . . .

and when the rest of your sidebar is a-awaiting on it, well I'm sorry hunny but bye ...

Absolutely fabulous widget.. as was World WebCams (weep) ...

Lesson: build a widget, better make sure you can cope when it gets taken up (or why bother really?).

Wednesday, April 4

Fashion and The Noose

Before everyone gets too carried away with Iran's propaganda coup

Just remember that they execute gay teenagers in public.

United States v. Gary McKinnon

This is appalling.

Hacker faces US justice after extradition appeal fails

· Cyber-terrorism charges could lead to life in prison
· Judges express distaste for American handling of case

Duncan Campbell
Wednesday April 4, 2007
The Guardian

The British computer hacker who spectacularly cracked the Pentagon system and embarrassed the American defence establishment now faces extradition to the United States, where a prosecutor has said he would like to see him "fry".


The judges said in their ruling that they were unhappy with the US handling of the case: "We make no secret of the fact that we view with a degree of distaste the way in which the American authorities are alleged to have approached the plea bargain negotiations."

  • He has a website - thankfully linked from by The Guardian.
  • Wikipedia entry
  • McKinnon has admitted in many public statements to unauthorised access of computer systems in the United States including those mentioned in the United States indictment. He claims his motivation, drawn from a statement made before the Washington Press Club on May 9, 2001 by a group of high level ex-military and civilian sources known as "The Disclosure Project", was to find evidence of UFOs, antigravity technology, and the government suppression of "Free Energy", all of which he claims to have proven through his actions.[7]

    In his interview with the BBC he also claimed that "The Disclosure Project" says there is "extra-terrestrial and origin and [they've] captured spacecraft and reverse engineered it." He also claimed to have downloaded a low-resolution image of "something not man-made" and "cigar shaped" floating above the northern hemisphere. He said that unfortunately he did not manage to get a screenshot or recording of the image because he was "bedazzled" to see the image, could not remember the capture function in the software RemotelyAnywhere, and that he was "cut off" from his connection.[8]

    Bournemouth's 'deaf and dumb' election ban

    Dorset Echo
    Council condemned for offensive election notes

    CHARITIES have criticised a council for using offensive terms such as "lunatics" and "idiots" in election guidelines.

    According to the notes for candidates issued by Bournemouth Borough Council "lunatics and idiots" were disqualified from standing as councillors along with "deaf and dumb persons".


    Cllr Ron Whittaker said: "People do often think that councillors are idiots but I have never seen it in print before".


    Following enquiries from the Daily Echo, the council has now amended the document.

    The deputy returning officer Matthew Pitcher said that the terms were included in error because they are legal terms.

    He said people defined in law as "lunatics and idiots" or "deaf and dumb" could still apply to be councillors.


    Matt Pitcher, electoral services officer, said it was a mistake and
    that the terms were taken directly from election law dating back to

    "Of course such language is certainly not acceptable today," he added.

    "The terminology used as part of our election pack to candidates was
    unfortunately taken directly from a piece of election law which dates
    from 1766 but is still current today.

    Did their Web Team get it right though?

    Top brands not showing up on mobile searches

    Brand Attention


    There is a severe lack of Mobile Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) among FTSE 100 companies, with many top firms having no branded content on their first page of search results, according to new research.

    The study, conducted by SEO brand protection and mobile search firm Brand Attention, looked at keyword search results based on the average results from two key words closely tied to the company's online description, products and services.

    Commenting on the findings, Howard Furr-Barton, managing director of Brand Attention, said:

    "When inputting a company name into, the research reveals 7% of FTSE 100 companies' homepages do not appear in the first page of search results. A startlingly high figure, but low in comparison to 93% on Google Mobile Web UK.”

    "With 94% of online users failing to search beyond the first page of results (Forrester Research), this highlights a major visibility problem for the UK's leading companies," Furr-Barton added.
    The study revealed that nine in ten (90%) of FTSE 100 companies have homepages listed as the first search result when searching by company name online, compared with only 5% on Google Mobile Web.

    Tuesday, April 3

    Dept. Homeland Security want Internet Masterkey

    Heise Zeitschriften Verlag

    30.03.2007 13:09

    The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to have the key to sign the DNS root zone solidly in the hands of the US government.

    This ultimate master key would then allow authorities to track DNS Security Extensions (DNSSec) all the way back to the servers that represent the name system’s root zone on the Internet. The “key-signing key” signs the zone key, which is held by VeriSign.

    At the meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Lisbon, Bernard Turcotte, president of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) drew everyone’s attention to this proposal as a representative of the national top-level domain registries (ccTLDs).

    At the ICANN meeting, Turcotte said that the managers of country registries were concerned about this proposal.

    When contacted by heise online, Turcotte said that the national registries had informed their governmental representatives about the DHS’s plans. A representative of the EU Commission said that the matter is being discussed with EU member states.

    DNSSec is seen as a necessary measure to keep the growing number of manipulations on the net under control.

    How to disable web filter software


    I had a comment following up a previous post about the Web filter, SurfPatrol. A local council had just installed it.

    Web filters have a terrible rep. Largely for what's called 'inappropriate blocking'.

    Because artificial intelligence isn't that advanced - lots of claims about reading flesh tones like the one on the right - sorting out one site from the other is often not as sophisticated as you might think. Basically, it does boil down to the words in the site.

    So, firstly, mistakes get made. Hilarious mistakes and Breast Cancer site blocking type mistakes.

    But, secondly, the lists Filter (AKA Censorware) companies compile of categorised sites are proprietary - you don't get to see under the hood - and they are well-known for, for example, including sites which criticise them in those lists. The Register has discovered itself blocked in that way.

    The other point is that companies are American and may/may not carry over those cultural values into those proprietary lists.

    What this means is that with the best will in the world, you cannot avoid inappropriate blocking when you buy these products. And this can have unintended, negative consequences .. like .. blocking rape-crisis, blocking sex education, blocking drugs counselling, blocking Nazi sites from history students.

    As you might imagine, gay and lesbian sites get hit disproportionally hard — 'collateral damage'.

    People, especially Councils, really don't want this but there's no real way of avoiding it although 'whitelists' are a big help.

    The other area where Filter companies have been heavily criticised is for their marketing - their playing on fear to make money (they are extremely profitable and the market is growing). Cybersitter, for example, notoriously put out marketing within hours of the Columbine Massacre.

    Needless to say, the War On Terror™ has proved similarly profitable. The CEO of Surfcontrol was recently quoted as saying: "I'm not trying to pick up on an emotional chord, but there are probably cyber terrorist cells inside companies, I don't mean some disgruntled employees ..."

    So what do you do?

    All the advice you will read on kids and the web comes back to supervision and parental engagement — as well as describing filters themselves as 'only partially effective'.

    Filters are never spoken of as anything but a support and offering reassurance - and the Filter companies play very heavily on the latter (for companies they offer legal reassurance).

    Computing Which? has the following top tips for protecting children online:

    • Keep PCs in a shared living area — not a child's bedroom
    • Supervise children's online activities
    • Encourage children to discuss any unsavory content they've found
    • Warn children about the potential dangers of chatrooms
    • Use parental control software but don't over rely on it
    • Change your parental control access password regularly

    • To which I would add: Teach them what's an advert
    However, if you are effectively monitoring people's (not children's) web use anyway - isn't that the best policing? If you know your web use is recorded? One of the side-effects of buying censorware for a network is that web use in general drops off. This isn't necessarily a good thing.

    This side of managing web use is always the forgotten bit - managing self-censorship. If you are a public body you really need to be simultaneously reassuring people that - no- we don't mind you accessing rape crisis sites and - yes - we want to be told if our Web Filter's blocking this and, yes, it's confidential.

    Managing web use isn't and can't be just about technical solutions.

    And how to disable filtering? See Peacefire and/or

    This is the last point — smart kids can get around it.

    Sunday, April 1

    Not as good as the Viagra one

    Google announces free in-home wireless broadband service

    "Dark porcelain" project offers self-installed plumbing-based Internet access


    The Toilet Internet Service Provider (TiSP) project is a self-installed, ad-supported online service that will be offered entirely free to any consumer with a WiFi-capable PC and a toilet connected to a local municipal sewage system.


    Home installation is a simple matter of GFlushing™ the fiber-optic cable down to the nearest TiSP Access Node, then plugging the other end into the network port of your Google-provided TiSP wireless router.


    Interested consumers, contractually obligated partners and deeply skeptical and quietly competitive backbiters can learn more about TiSP at

    Trickle The #2 Royal Flush

    Download speed (max)

    8 Mbps
    (10X basic DSL)

    16 Mbps
    (20X basic DSL)

    32 Mbps
    (40X basic DSL)

    Upload speed (max)

    2 Mbps

    4 Mbps

    8 Mbps





    Actual speeds will vary, depending on network traffic and sewer line conditions. Users with low-flow toilets may simultaneously experience a saving-the-environment glow and slower-data-speed blues.


    Is Google TiSP safe and reliable?
    Google TiSP ensures reliable throughput through the power of fiber, which has been proven through extensive research to effectively facilitate consistent data flow with minimal latency. And you can rest assured that under no circumstances will the TiSP system ever expose your privates.

    whoops ....

    Not Found

    The requested URL was not found on this server. There are so many reasons that this might have happened we can scarcely bring ourselves to type them all out. You might have typed the URL incorrectly, for instance. Or (less likely but certainly plausible) we might have coded the URL incorrectly. Or (far less plausible, but theoretically possible, depending on which ill-defined Grand Unifying Theory of physics one subscribes to), some random fluctuation in the space-time continuum might have produced a shatteringly brief but nonetheless real electromagnetic discombobulation which caused this error page to appear. Or (and truth be told, this is by far the most likely scenario) you might have reached a page that we meant to create but didn't get around to it, since this year's April Fool's joke got hacked together at the last minute, more or less the same way this one did. And this one. And this one, and this one, and this one...

    NYT survey's Google's move into traditional media

    The New York Times has published an excellent review of Google's move into the offline ad market. What's the strategy?

    Google is building a TV ad sales team, have radio and print in beta, and their recent purchases for video game advertising, YouTube and other buys show they are building a company that really wants to be an all-encompassing media company. The NYT is one of the major media brands using them.

    The most profitable area is thought to be likely to be TV, especially with trials of demographically targeted cable ads to individuals.

    The area they're having the most trouble is Radio. There they are:

    suspicious that its technology-based approach will turn their business into a commodity and take away the relationships with advertisers that stations have spent years building.
    Which is an interesting reflection of other comment about how the Google brand is morphing into Big Brother, with comment pieces quoting Sun Tzu as an anti-Google strategy source. There are thousands of 'Victim of own sucess?' stories.

    The piece concludes that Google has ad technology competition and, at the moment, it's offline ad share is tiny. So no need to panic yet then.

    ABC1's head downmarket - online

    Hitwise's Heather Hopkins has been looking at

    How does the profile of offline readers of newspapers compare with online readers?

    Her points seem to reflect some of the recent changes in UK tabloid newspaper websites:

    There are opportunities for Print Media websites to diversify their online audience by targeting lower income groups, groups with younger children and those in the Group Rural Isolation
    But I was most interested to spot:
    Groups that are less likely to pick up The Sun from the newsstand are more likely to visit the website
    This is slightly less true of the Mail, as well.

    She has a hunch
    "This also has something to do with people not wanting to be seen on the Tube with The Sun, but being happy to enjoy the content."
    Ah. Class-consciousness is alive and well.

    I sometimes look at the Sun website. Not for the Tits, just to see what it's saying as it's so important. I don't look for The News, just to see What News they're reporting, and how. And just what they're doing with the site.

    Things like their changing attitude to Race and Gays is interesting as well as what campaigns they're running (same with the Mail). It's not that I wouldn't be seen buying it...

    Host not found

    Hari Kunzru writes about the harsh realities of internet censorship in an essay for PEN, published in the Guardian.

    He starts by placing us in the [Libertarian] context in which much of the superstructure of the Web has been perceived.

    "The net treats censorship as damage and routes around it." John Gilmore.
    Then brings us back to the material reality.
    It's used by people sitting in real offices with real doors that can be broken down by all-too-real police.
    Kunzru documents how information access is controlled by large companies and how this plays out.

    Even in markets with no overt state censorship, the threat of legal action may be enough to take controversial information offline, a tactic frequently employed by corporations against critics or whistle-blowers.

    We appear to be moving towards a world with a privatised knowledge infrastructure.

    Anyone watching the growth of Censorware would have to agree.

    Best April Fools ever

    "Grow Your Own Viagra" Craze

    Independent | Posted March 31, 2007 07:22 PM

    A spokesman for Wyevale Garden Centres, which has 106 UK branches, said: "At first, it was just a trickle of inquiries, but now stores are virtually being besieged each weekend."

    "We have had men buying dozens of the plants and, at one store in Croydon, there were men old enough to know better fighting over the last remaining trays."

    The latest gardening craze was triggered by a discovery by a 55-year-old furniture restorer, Michael Ford, on his allotment.

    He was always experimenting with drinks made from different plants and one day he tried an infusion from his winter-flowering heather.

    He said: "The effect was almost immediate. I had to stay in my potting shed for an hour or so before I could decently walk down the street."