Friday, November 27, 2009

Sir Valence

It's quite incredible, the bond between our ruling elite and the media conglomerates. It's almost a chemical attraction. One has to wonder just how far you will let them go.

Finally, some MSM attention is being directed at the upcoming surveillance society that we're all being pushed towards. Virgin Media have announced publicly that they are going to inspect everyone's internet traffic in an effort to identify "unlawful file sharing".

Just to be clear, this means that if you're a Virgin customer, you're now paying to be spied upon by your ISP, and they have just given up any pretense of common carrier status. I'm sure other large ISPs will be next. Even if you are totally innocent and have never even considered file sharing, your traffic is being explicitly monitored.

Doesn't that make you feel all safe and warm inside?

Given that someone has stated that certain types of file sharing are unlawful (certainly not me or the majority of my peers, but someone somewhere) one has to wonder, what is the next thing they will determine is unlawful? How much money does one have to pay to move an activity (copying a file) from unlawful (I got this file from site A) to lawful (I got this file from site B)? What about "I already own this album, so I'll listen to it" (legal), back it up (dubious), download it from some website (illegal), or a torrent (here they come to disconnect your family internet connection).

The time has come to make a stand, and I'm standing up.

I will not purchase any more media that has been RIAA or MPAA or BPI certified. I will not vote for any candidate that believes these people have a right to dictate how my internet connection is used.

Make your voice and your wallet count. Join me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To be, or not to be

My current internet provider is Be Internet. They're not super-cheap, but they're not insanely expensive either. I've been with them for nearly four years now, and they're bloody brilliant. This endorsement does not come with any kickbacks from them, although if you are persuaded then I'll be happy to formally introduce you.

The reason I raise this is because they've been in the tiny minority of people who, while moving house over the last month, have promised and then delivered. They gave me a date for connection, they connected me on that date, they sent me an email saying I was working, I plugged in my modem and I had a connection. Hallelujah.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


A big shout goes out to the owners of the open wireless access point somewhere in my vicinity. You've allowed me net access where Vodafone failed.

Given the near-magical turnaround on my land line, I've got high hopes that we'll be able to get a proper connection to the interwebs up next week, potentially even for my birthday. That would be a fantastic outcome. In the meantime, I'll undoubtedly make use of the local access point for some light surfing and email. Given that it's someone else's connection, I'll endeavour to keep the traffic low.

One may wonder if this activity is legal, and my current take is that it is - barely. Security of wireless systems is taken seriously by every third party provider in the country now. Every other access point in the area which is in a default configuration is locked down. This leads me to believe that anyone who has an open wireless access point has done so deliberately with the intention of being a good Samaritan for folks like myself. I intend to do the same when my network connection arrives, although I'll undoubtedly try and put in place some traffic shaping so that MACs which are unknown get a small slice of the available pie. Given that access is therefore implicitly granted, I'm not in contravention of the aforementioned act.

One has to wonder how society will react in future as connection to the Internet becomes more (and eventually, totally) pervasive. Being without a connection, even for a day, disrupts my usual routines - I'm unable to look anything up online, place food orders, check email. All of these things that are now comfortably second nature (not rationed, not carefully doled out) become glaring issues. I'm sure the same could be said of phone access over the last few decades, although that's mitigated somewhat with mobile phone access. I've purchased a 3G dongle to ensure that we have some form of connection across the 5 computers in the house, but when that fails to find a network we're back at square one. At least we can fall back to dial up now that the phone line is in place.

My child will be part of the first generation born where the Internet isn't just there - it's everywhere. How cool will that be?

BT phone home

I'm rarely in a position where the effort of a large corporation surprises me. I've had situations with various companies in the past where I've been left thinking, "Is this really how you treat your customers? Is everyone going through the same pain and problems using your service? remind me again what I'm paying you for?"

Today, the big corporation finally bit back. BT have connected me up to the phone network in a little over a week from my first request, and a little over two days from where my ire was noticed. This is nearly a fortnight faster than the previous date I was given. To say I'm gobsmacked would be an understatement, and I'm thoroughly impressed with their customer service.

As a technically savvy bloke, I'm probably more aware than most of what's actually required to connect up a phone line and transfer a number around. At the end of the day though, I really shouldn't care - all I want is to be able to pick up my phone and hear a dial tone, and I can do that now.

Big thanks to David and Colin, and to the BT engineer who arrived on my doorstep at precisely 8am this morning. Good work, fellas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A new hope

After my obscenity-laden rant on Monday, I felt much better. I assumed that nothing would occur after said rant other than my blood pressure reducing to a sensible value, especially given that I have a regular audience of - well, not many people at all.

However, railing at the wind seems to work sometimes - especially when certain readers are able to talk to certain people who obviously have the ability to make things right.

On Tuesday afternoon, while traipsing boxes from one house to another, I had a call from an excellent chap called David at BT, and our conversation essentially boiled down to "how can we make this right". the order for December got cancelled, and a new order is now in place for the end of this week.

This is utterly fantastic, and I take back all of the hideous dark ranting in the previous post - it may have been justified and it may have got some results, but there's no need to lump everyone working for such a huge company in together. It's good to know that they can pull it out of the bag when it matters.

One can only hope that everyone who has similar issues gets a similar resolution. Oh, and also, one can hope that this time the date they've given us will actually stick.

Oh, and if my brother is reading - dude, you're a star. Add another one to the stack of favours you're owed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Useless bastards

Update, as of 19th of November - BT did good. please read the following posts for the details. I'll leave this post here as a reminder to myself that rude language is uncalled for.

That's right, BT. You are a bunch of useless timewasting bastards. If I could legally kill you all, I would.

If I didn't need your landline for a decent internet service, you know what? you could rot in hell.

So the story so far: I ring up the day after I confirm my house is in fact my house. Pretty stressful, but you know, I've been expecting a bit of stress - house purchasing is supposed to rank right up there with the best of them.

I get a very helpful chap who organises my phone move. Unfortunately for me, the phone line in the new house is still active, and they apparently need to give some legal notice period before we can switch from our old house to our new house. The kindly gentleman gives me a selection of new phone numbers to pick from, because I'm not able to take my existing number with me. We arrange a date, a fortnight away (26th of November). I ask for ex-directory, which is fine. The gentleman explains that if I can persuade the old house owners to disconnect their line, then we can simply ring up and confirm a new date. I am left with a not-too-disgruntled feeling.

So, the next day, my heavily pregnant wife rings up the old house owners, who confirm to us that they have indeed disconnected the phone line. Taking them at their word, I decide to ring BT back to arrange a newer date.

Oh, can't do that, says the new girl - Carla, from Leicester. Even though it's most likely someone from India, because BT don't actually employ anyone who LIVES in this fucking country, by the looks of it. So - can't do that, the engineers would have to cancel your order and rebook it. the earliest they could move it to is the 23rd, and it would be a load of hassle, so please, just fuck off and stop bothering us. Of course, that was not what she said word for word - the politeness and appeasement was simply dripping from the conversation, but in essense, that's what she means.
So I say, that's fine - three days forward is better than no days, right? please, cancel my order and rebook it for the 23rd. Oh, and can I have a reference number for this call please, CARLA. Thanks.

Oh, no, I can't give you a reference number. tell you what, sucker - I'll ring you back, she says. So I wait. Holy of holies, 30 minutes later, she does ring back - and she's even got a new booking number for me. Yes, your line is disconnected in the new property. I can't confirm the date, you'll have to wait for the engineer, but it should be around the 23rd. No, I can't confirm the number.

So I'm thinking ... bollocks. this hasn't been arranged, has it. She's basically lying to me.

Nicky gets a whiff that we're not getting anywhere, and decides to go to bat. She spends 90 minutes on the phone (so far we're up to about 3 fucking hours just to get our phone service moved from one house to another, which I KNOW FOR A FACT is as simple as entering two numbers in a database somewhere and pressing "activate".) They can't find any trace of the previous order number (surprise surprise) so we get a new one. And this guy promises point blank to my pregnant wife that we'll be connected on the 18th.


Or is it?

Of course it fucking isn't, this is BT we're talking about. Useless shower of bastards.

Today, email arrives. A new order number that we've never seen before. Our phone service will be connected on the 2nd of December (that's right, three weeks after I tell them I want to move house). A different number to the one I've been told about. And they haven't tracked that I want to be ex-directory.


seriously, if Virgin weren't so shite, you'd be down a customer, but they're nearly *nearly* as bad as you are, and BE internet are just wonderful, I'd hate to give them up.

There may be a short delay in service.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life's a funny thing

First antenatal class this evening. Fairly informative, but the imagery left something to be desired. If I wanted to see pictures of naked women in pain, I could have got them for free on the Internet.

Still, if my other half learns enough to conquer her fear, then it's a good thing ;)