Archive for the ‘fail’ Category

BBC iplayer “loophole”.

September 1, 2016

Everyone has their $0.02, and so do I.

Since the fanfare-like announcements in recent weeks I was mildly curious. Today, as I type, I am downloading Series 2, Episode 5 of the BBC documentary series “Inside The Factory”.

At no point during this process have I needed to prove I am in possession of a valid TV Licence. I didn’t bother clicking on the part of the page where it says “I have a TV Licence”, I just needed the pid (Programme ID) from the URL bar.

Citrus Lime of Ulverston

December 30, 2015

Please stop sending password reminder email messages which contain the user’s password. Email messages are liable to be transmitted over non-encrypted connections, which may allow a third-party to intercept the message.

You claim “Not only are we offering a cutting edge Retail System, but the expertise and knowledge to drive all our customers forward to develop and grow their businesses.

I say: Risking the confidentiality of your client’s customers is a poor way to do business.

You need to change the system so that a temporary password is set for the account, and the user needs a second piece of information (date of birth, postcode etc) to reset the account password.

Please let me know when you’ve sorted this out.

ST Professional Plumbing And Heating responds to security concern with “blah blah”.

February 12, 2015

(See attached image)
Suppose you are concerned about your fancy internet-connected home appliance. You might have seen that film in 1995 called “Hackers”. Therefore, you voice your concerns to the supplier. If your supplier was a professional, the supplier might say that every precaution is taken to reduce and mitigate the risks. The supplier might even say there is a report available from an independent tester which shows the security of the system.

On the other hand, I present the example shown here where the supplier (that’s ST Professional Plumbing And Heating of Flookburgh, Cumbria) say “blah blah” to your concerns. They seem to think that you must ‘take their word for it’ in their arrogance. I wonder if they are suggesting that the average man on Clapham Common is unable to understand and consider the risks.

I will not be employing them, ever. I ask you to consider the nature of the company you are considering employing in the future. It’s not national security at risk. It’s your personal security, and when you are in your own home it is your castle. I believe that when you are in your own home, you need to put the security of your family and yourself first.

As a side-note, I would expect that the people in charge of national security have probably got it sussed by now.

2015027_ST_Professional_Plumbing_And_Heating_responds_to_security questions_and_fails

A sorry little tale of how it took two months to get a warranty replacement.

May 2, 2014

In the middle of June 2013 I ordered and received a Kingston brand 32Gb USB drive. It arrived a few days later, after verifying it was legitimate and fully-functional I used it in the usual way. It arrived formatted to NTFS, and I seem to remember re-formatting it to FAT32 for compatibility reasons.

5/2/2014: Part-way through saving a TV show on to the drive, the drive just stopped responding. I tried using the drive on several computers and operating systems. Not recognised. Under linux, the lsusb command did not list the drive. I contacted the seller and was told to send the drive back and a replacement would be dispatched.

17/2/2014: I enquired about when to expect the replacement drive. The following day I received a reply confirming a replacement drive had been shipped.

5/3/2014: I enquired again, as I have not received the drive. The following day I received an apologetic reply, confirming a second replacement drive would be dispatched.

17/3/2014: I reported that the second replacement drive has not arrived. The following day I received an apologetic reply, and the seller asked me to give the Royal Mail a few more days

28/3/2014: I reminded the seller that the second drive has still not arrived. This is a Friday, so I did not receive a reply until Monday. The seller apologised again and confirmed that a third replacement drive would be dispatched.

1/4/2014: Drive arrives by Registered Post. Perhaps they ought to have used Registered Post the first time?

I don’t know what has happened here. Does my post man have light fingers, or can two parcels disappear in two months? I did take the precaution of reporting the missing mail to the Royal Mail. There might be a problem. Even if there isn’t a problem, it protects me where some legal documents are considered “served” if posted correctly without requiring a signature upon receipt.

Obviously I’m not expecting to receive anything like that, but I still think that ten minutes on the telephone to the Royal Mail’s investigation team was time well spent.

I am not going to name the seller. They may have:
(a) Lost two drives to the Royal Mail.
(b) A poor organisation that none of the drives were ever dispatched until 31/3/2014.
(c) Decided to take the chance that I would not pursue the missing drive, and not dispatch it. If this is the case, they decided to send the drive on 31/3/2014 because I had complained about it so many times.
One of these possibilities is beyond the control of the company, another is a deliberate connivance to defraud.

This month’s FAIL award goes to … Carol Clothing Urquhart!

November 26, 2013


This post relates to an event which occurred on November 23rd 2013, Ulverston in Furness. There is an annual town festival called “Ulverston Dickensian Festival“, which was on-going on that day. Just for emphasis, the event’s organisers expect 25,000 visitors to descend on a town which normally houses about 12,000 residents. In short, it’s a busy event. I feel it has become too busy, and I probably won’t be going next year.

Perhaps part of my decision not to go next year is based on an encounter with an aggressive violent thug who seems to have some association with Carol Clothing Urquhart (based in Ulverston, apparently).

The reason why I’m writing is to say: If you are going to an event where you will be in a public place, with a large number of other people, then do not be surprised if some of those people are taking photographs. (My informal estimate was that about one in four people were using a camera on that day)

Further advice:

1. If you don’t want to someone to take a photograph of you, then just ask. Don’t try and launch a shouting match with me, because I’ve got enough experience to realise that you have lost all rational thought by the time you open your mouth. If you are aggressive toward me, then I will stand my ground because I’m not scared of bullies. Never have been.

2. Don’t send your thug over to me to threaten “I’ll have you on your back”, because I will continue to stand my ground. I also recognised that because he opened his mouth first, then his threats were baseless. Perhaps he (image below) was scared of what all the other members of the public would think about if he was foolish enough to assault someone. He was certainly scared of the possible consequences later on when he apologised to the police constable who attended the scene. No time wasted there in back-tracking. Hmm.

3. There is no general prohibition against using cameras in a public place. I do not need to ask your permission. If it were prohibited, then the extraordinary number of privately-operated CCTV systems would be illegal overnight.

4. Don’t threaten someone and later apologise. It is better, and more likely to be received positively, when you approach the subject in a calm and considered way.

I believe my use of a camera in public is fair and reasonable, even if the attending officers failed to realise that it is normal and expected that people will use cameras at an event like this. The surprise expressed by Cumbria Police on this subject is also cause for concern on my part.
I will continue to shoot photographs in public places, given the ‘fair and reasonable’ rationale as stated.
All correspondence in relation to this post will be considered for publication.

There is a second award in this category for society as a whole, where some people are so sensitised about this subject that all rational thought is abandoned. As a society, that represents a great failing.


After all this, the photo I shot looked better in my mind’s eye and it looked awful once I was able to view it on a reasonable-sized screen.

Greased Lightbox


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Wendy Webb, of Barrow-in-Furness, oh dear!

August 15, 2012

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I have decided that I feel very sorry for you.
I’m talking about you, just in case it’s not clear. Your birthday is 5th May, probably. You might have blocked me on facebook, but I had bookmarked your profile page prior to your actions. I do things like that sometimes, when I can see the dung flying towards the fan.

I feel very guilty that a person, or persons unknown, seem have taught you:
(a) Everyone in the world owes you great respect.
(b) You are allowed to treat others with contempt.
(c) The solution to criticism is to (forgive the metaphor) run upstairs to your bedroom and slam the door shut … then to come out a few hours later and pretend nothing happened.

It is over-due for you to learn these three things are wrong. Perhaps it might have been your mother ‘Angie’ or father ‘Rodney’ who made these mistakes – I don’t know.

(a) If you want people to respect you, you need to respect yourself and others. If someone is trying to help you, respect them and yourself by considering what they have to say. Chances are good that this helpful person is not trying to belittle you, or commit some grevious sin against you.
(b) If you tell someone to (quote) “stop being stupid and talking a load of shit” – it demonstrates that you have no respect for yourself (rule a) and it undermines any credibility you might have had in the past. As you have said that, any respect I might have had for you is irrevocably destroyed.
(c) You had your tantrum on July 9th this year because I gently suggested your administration of the group “Barrow Things Wanted” may be improved and enhanced by actually publishing _all_ the group rules and guidelines. Referring to parts (a) and (b) what you actually did was throw a tantrum, and then quietly edit the group document a few days later. To me that seems like such a long-winded effort, when a shorter alternative would have been to say “That’s a decent idea, I’ll consider that”. I know that, in the long run, you would feel better about it too.

(I know you edited the group rules a day or two later, I have several friends who are group members. They found the whole episode amusing and tragic at the same time.)

Assuming the red mist has not descended by now, I want you and everyone to know that I have more than enough information to defend myself against any legal action you might be considering.
A quick question, and on the same subject, have you heard of The Streisand Effect?

I am also concerned about the foul language you use in you facebook messages, and I might suggest that it is not compatible with your self-proclaimed position as “full time single yummy mummy”. Children learn to swear in their own time, you don’t need to teach them gutter language first.

I am also aware that facebook does not like their platform being used for sending abusive and offensive messages.

I have spent a considerable amount of time learning about management techniques, while I’m not an expert I am in a position to comment from a knowledgeable point of view. If want people to follow rules, then you need to ensure those rules are known by everyone. It’s very poor practice to withhold rules, then to have the screaming ab-dabs when it all goes wrong(1).

(1) There are several other people I know who would benefit from this advice.

Over the years I have received many critical comments and complaints, but I’ve learned from all of these. I know I am a better manager and person because of it.

This month’s FAILs.

February 10, 2011

Sony executive tweets one of the PS3 master keys. See how quickly that image gets deleted.
Do-gooders want to abdicate their parental responsibility by not supervising their children’s internet access. Moments later they change their mind.
I won’t comment about Kevin Butler’s ill-advised tweet.
I don’t know what mumsnet were thinking. They wrote:

Some 95% of pornographic content viewed in this country comes from servers operated by British-based companies – so a default network filter could be extremely effective…

There is no source provided for the (probably fake) number of 95% – as wikipedia says “[citation needed]”.
The statement demonstrates a fundamental failure to understand the concept of filtering, as it doesn’t matter where the servers are located. They can be in the UK, they can be in one of the former Eastern Bloc states, or they can be under my bed.
I’ve had a quick look around the site today, and there’s no mention of this filtering campaign now. There seems to be a lot of helpful and positive information on there.

Tackling piracy – entirely the wrong way.

December 10, 2010

On November the 24th I wrote a little analysis of a local piracy prosecution, and despite the risks of involving private companies in the affairs of criminal law[1], it seemed to be a reasonable conclusion.
There was a preponderance of evidence of wrong-doing, equipment and supplies which suggested it was more than personal use[2], and evidence it was an on-going practice.

On the other hand, there is the actions of a UK company called “ACS:Law”, which have not gone to plan.
It’s far too easy to fall in to the trap of slinging insults and all the rest, but I’m trying not to do that. I think this is illustrates the risks of having private companies involved in (allegedly) criminal proceedings. My understanding is ACS:Law may have presented what they would call “evidence” which was based on speculation and guesswork. Tragic.
The speculation was that the account-holder of the internet service to a particular residential address, was the actual user at the time.
The guesswork was that “the work” being made available was what ACS:Law thought it was, because they did not download the entire and complete file to check.

Yes, stealing copyrighted works is bad, but this isn’t the way to deal with it.

Edit: The full judgement is here.

Nearly forgot:
[1] Risks of private involvement in criminal proceedings. Have a google for “RLP letter”, and then be prepared to spend some time on the Consumer Action Group forums reading all the horror stories.
[2] I bought a spindle of 100 DVD+R discs. It’s more cost effective for personal use and costs nothing to store until required.

Open letter to Bandridge, about their product support.

March 18, 2010

To whom it concerns,

I was genuinely surprised to read in an email from yourselves that you consider “product CPL4201 is already to old to support Windows 7”. This falls far short of the high standards of workmanship and quality I would expect from a world leader such as yourselves.

I bought this USB to serial adapter cable about five years ago. Prima Facie five years ago nobody would have known that Microsoft were going to launch Windows Vista and subsequently Windows 7. As these versions of Microsoft’s very popular operating system were advertised to the general public, developers like yourselves would have had advance notification and technical details long before the general public knew anything about it.

A moment’s casual research on ebay reveals there are innumerable USB to serial cables available, many of which advertise full compatibility with Windows 7. So there’s no real technical prohibition to prevent you from cobbling together a driver for a single Integrated Circuit which does all the heavy lifting for you.

I now feel I have no choice in the following actions:
* I will never again buy any product with your name on it.
* I will not recommend to any-one else they purchase any product with your name on it.

You have sullied your reputation by refusing to make a reasonable effort to prevent your products becoming obsolete in a very competitive marketplace. I also believe that a significant number of these devices will finish their lives prematurely in land-fill, thus contributing to the larger electronic waste problem.