Category: Technowotsits

Pipex/Tiscali Support Is a Joke

Back around June 2009, Tiscali took over the running of my old Pipex network.  And whereas before I was averaging around 2400Kbps, it all suddenly went pear shaped and dropped to less than 600Kbps for a few days.

Upload/Download Speed Over Time

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Random calls from overseas telephone numbers (03598815400011)

It happened to me last night around 12.30am.

It was my mobile number this time.

The phone rings twice, and then the call drops.

By the time I get to the phone, there is a missed call from 03598815400011

That is a number from Bulgaria and more than likely, a premium rate number.

I had a quick check online to see if there are any other reports on this number and low and behold, there are plenty. It does however appear to be a new number in use.

I was amazed to read some of the comments on one site and a few of the questions
I have listed below:

“How do they get my number?”

“Why are they ringing me at that time of the morning? I’m not likely to answer”.

“Why do they only let it ring once, I will never be able to answer the phone that quick”

Some people just don’t seem to understand when they are about to be conned even when it jumps up and bites them on the nose.

They didn’t “get your number”.

And the reason why it only rings once is because they don’t want you to pick it up and answer it.

(If you do, that costs them money and they don’t want to actually spend any money, they just want to make as much as possible).

Here is a copy of my reply I posted in reply to one comment.

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Pipex trashed by Tiscali : Avoid Pipex at all costs, it’ll save you in the long run

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of...

Image via Wikipedia

A few months back PIPEX changed my fixed IP address without warning. Ok, so I lost a few days in fault finding a few network issues when a few things stopped working because of the IP change. The fact that PIPEX changed my IP wasn’t so much an issue, it was the fact that they never told me about beforehand. For operational reasons, I understand that sometimes an IP has to change, it just can’t be helped. So I really wouldn’t have minded. But to be not told beforehand is just bad business practice and causes a lot of unnecessary work. But PIPEX’s ineptitude doesn’t end there.

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Why You Should Never Use Your ISP For Business Email

This is a partial extract from an article I’ve written for another website.

You can find the full article available here (PDF | WORD | OOD)

Why you should never use an ISP Mail address for Business

As a member and contributor to various Anti-“spam” forums, this is a subject that often appears.
Now unless you have some technical understanding of how mail works, it is not surprising that many people are not aware of the pitfalls surrounding email.

This document will discuss the issue of using any ISP for email, and examine the various other options available.

The title was intended to be contentious in order to provoke the reader into understanding the concept of why it is potentially harmful to your business not to understand the effects of not controlling your email. It must also be made clear that there are good ISP’s out there with which you could have no problems what so ever, but the points raised below still hold true for ANY ISP.

Contact Email Addresses on your Web Site.

Most companies will provide an email address on their web site as a means of contact.
There are a couple of main reasons why this can lead to problems.

  • Masses of “spam”.

  • Users unable to send mail to the address.

  • User sends mail, but it’s not received by you.

Getting No Replies to your Mail?

Imagine you have received an inquiry from a customer.
You send a reply, but never hear anything back.
You send a further reply, but still nothing back.

Or imagine you send out a newsletter from your own ISP mail account.
But you have a really low return rate.

Does this mean that your customers are just not interested in you now?
(Then why would they contact you in the first place).
The chances are that the customer never received your mail in the first place.

You can find the full article available here (PDF | WORD | OOD)

Wi-Fi Theft

Two people have been cautioned for using people’s wi-fi broadband internet connections without permission.

Neighbours in Redditch, Worcestershire, contacted police on Saturday after seeing a man inside a car using a laptop while parked outside a house.

He was arrested and cautioned. A woman was arrested in similar circumstances in the town earlier this month.


Official Wi-Fi LogoThere are those who would argue that leaving your broadband connection open for others to share is harmless. Providing you have locked down access to machines on your internal network, what is wrong with giving away bandwidth that you are not using?

Some argue that drive-by users who enter illegal porn sites, or send massive amounts of spam would be hard to trace and that the owner of the network would held liable for any actions by these free loaders.

Wi-Fi Planet – Securing your Wi-Fi Connection

intelligentedu – 5 Simple Steps to Securing your Wi-Fi Network – Secure your Wi-Fi Traffic Using FOSS Utilities


From Wikipedia – Wi-Fi Social Concerns

Measures to deter unauthorized users include suppressing the AP’s service set identifier (SSID) broadcast, allowing only computers with known MAC addresses to join the network, and various encryption standards. Access points and computers using no encryption are vulnerable to eavesdropping by an attacker armed with packet sniffer software. If the eavesdropper has the ability to change his MAC address then he can potentially join the network by spoofing an authorised address.

WEP encryption can protect against casual snooping but may also produce a misguided sense of security since freely available tools such as AirSnort can quickly recover WEP encryption keys. Once it has seen 5-10 million encrypted packets, AirSnort will determine the encryption password in under a second.[10] The newer Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and IEEE 802.11i (WPA2) encryption standards do not have the serious weaknesses of WEP encryption, but require strong passphrases for full security.

Recreational exploration of other people’s access points has become known as wardriving, and the leaving of graffiti describing available services as warchalking. These activities may be illegal in certain jurisdictions, but existing legislation and case-law is often unclear.

However, it is also common for people to unintentionally use others’ Wi-Fi networks without explicit authorization. Operating systems such as Windows XP SP2 and Mac OS X automatically connect to an available wireless network, depending on the network configuration. A user who happens to start up a laptop in the vicinity of an access point may find the computer has joined the network without any visible indication. Moreover, a user intending to join one network may instead end up on another one if the latter’s signal is stronger. In combination with automatic discovery of other network resources (see DHCP and Zeroconf) this could possibly lead wireless users to send sensitive data to the wrong destination, as described by Chris Meadows in the February 2004 RISKS Digest. [3]

In Singapore, using another person’s Wi-Fi network is illegal under the Computer Misuse Act. A 17 year old has been arrested for simply tapping into his neighbor’s wireless Internet connection and faces up to 3 years’ imprisonment and a fine.[11]

Subaru Unveils New Boxer Diesel

Turbo-diesel flat-four claimed as world-first

Subaru's turbo-diesel boxer
Subaru’s turbo-diesel boxer

Subaru said it’s about to unveil what it called the world’s first horizontally-opposed
turbo-diesel engine.

The company will be debuting the engine at the 77th Geneva International
Motor Show next month, along with an entire, all-wheel-drive drivetrain.

Subaru said it “believes passionately” in its boxer engines which are more
compact than in-line units and provide a much lower centre-of-gravity. This
reduces body roll for safer cornering and also enhances handling precision.

Due for its first vehicle application early next year, Subaru claimed its
boxer turbo diesel to be a highly rigid unit with low levels of noise and
vibration, eliminating the need for a balancer shaft. Other benefits include
compactness and strong pulling power at low engine speeds with high-rev throttle-response.


Knowing Subaru’s experience at getting the most from an engine I wouldn’t
mind taking one of their cars with this engine in it for a test drive.
I still remember the first time I sat in a Subaru. It was my bosses car
who I considered to be a quiet peaceful sort of guy, until he put his foot
down and threw me into the back seat nearly breaking my neck in the process,
(well that is what it felt like at the time).
And the noise that most Subaru’s make is second only to that usually heard
from most V8’s in America. 

Can’t wait to see what this new engine sounds and performs like.

Don’t forget to head over to PistonHeads to
check out more of the latest news and trends.
Cracking site, great bunch of members.

The Problem with Programming

There is a very interestesting interview with Bjarne Stroustrup over at


Bjarne Stroustrup, the inventor of the C++ programming language, defends his legacy and examines what’s wrong with most software code.

In the 1980s and 90s, Bjarne Stroustrup designed and implemented the C++ programming language, which popularized object-oriented programming and influenced numerous other programming languages, including Java.

C++ remains the archetypal “high level” computer language (that is, one that preserves the features of natural, human language), and it is still used by millions of programmers. Many of the systems and applications of the PC and Internet eras were written in C++. For all that, the language remains controversial, largely because it is notoriously difficult to learn and use, and also because Stroustrup’s design allows developers to make serious programming mistakes in the interest of preserving their freedom.

Pop over to  and read the complete 3 page review.  You can add your comments to the many that are already there.
Failing that, you can pop over to the site and join the excellent discussions over there.

McAfee’s complete list of predictions for next year:

Update: Viruses coming to a screen near you soon –

McAfee's complete list of predictions for next year:
1. The number of password-stealing websites will increase using fake sign-in
pages for popular online services such as eBay.
2. The volume of spam, particularly bandwidth-eating image spam, will continue
to increase.
3. The popularity of video sharing on the web makes it inevitable that hackers
will target MPEG files as a means to distribute malicious code.
4. Mobile phone attacks will become more prevalent as mobile devices become
'smarter' and more connected.
5. Adware will go mainstream following the increase in commercial Potentially
Unwanted Programs.
6. Identity theft and data loss will continue to be a public issue – at the
root of these crimes is often computer theft, loss of back-ups and compromised
information systems.
7. The use of bots, computer programs that perform automated tasks, will increase
as a tool favoured by hackers.
8. Parasitic malware, or viruses that modify existing files on a disk, will
make a comeback.
9. The number of rootkits on 32-bit platforms will increase, but protection
and remediation capabilities will increase as well.
10. Vulnerabilities will continue to cause concern fuelled by the underground
market for vulnerabilities.

ISP's should hopefully take the lead in educating their customers about the potential
dangers of connecting via their networks. It won't happen but I long for the day
when ISP's become accountable for the damage that their customers cause. Only then
might they take note and take the action that would reduce the problems we see today
and will continue to see a rise of in 2007.

Mobile phone companies have the ability to use hardware to prevent or at least
reduce the effect of Viruses, only cost and the 'impact' on their profit margins
could deter them.  Far too many companies see it as a 'non-value added process'
when it comes to investment in the infrastructure required to halt the spread of
For many years, most ISP's were quite happy to let the weaknesses in the OS's take
the majority of the blame when in fact it is the users that ultimately shoulder
the responsibility of ensuing the security of their machines.
If you sent an email to 1000 users with the subject of "This is a virus, do not
open and execute", you can bet that there will be a percentage that will still open
it and still run it.
If you sent the same virus but said "This is a free picture of a top celebrity doing
something they shouldn't" an even larger percentage will open it.

I've often seen the analogy of buying a new car and not being able to drive it
off the forecourt until you have proven you have the required insurance and qualifications
to be able to legally do so.  Whereas I don't think there is a need for every
PC owner to sit an exam in order to be allowed to use the internet, ISP's should
ensure through regular education and updates the need for vigilance and caution
when using the network.
I would like to see the day when the ISP and/or user is held accountable for the
damage caused to my network because of the actions of the user.  Maybe then
people will take due care when they know they can be held liable.