Reg Readers hail NTL abusive message

Not so keen on 'spam-free' email plans

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Letters An old skool-style hack caught all our attention this week: poor old NTL woke up on Monday to the news that someone had recorded over their standard customer service message with a less polite alternative. The message asked callers to "f**k off and leave us alone".

A novel and interesting approach to customer relations that should be nurtured and encouraged, you said:

Great!! Maybe this will inspire a rash of honest answerphone messages. Like those competitions on telly that are so obvious that if you were born yesterday you'd know the answer to ("What Letter follows next in this sequence A, B...? a) C, b)Jack Lemmon c)A Cruiseliner") could greet you with:

"Thanks for lining our pockets by dialling a premium rate number, there's a chance you MAY win but you're more likely to just die sad and alone and penniless".


Hi, I think this could be the first sighting in the wild of a truth virus.


I feel I have to point out that people have got the wrong end of the stick on this. The telephone message was not a hoax at all but the real thing. NTL are merely articulating the message that they have been giving their customers for years.

I look forward to BT jumping on the bandwagon and updating their customer service helpline message along the same line.


I don't understand why people are so upset about this message. Surely in this age of denial and spin NTL should be commended for actually telling the truth?


Next, a company called Jeftel stuck its head over the parapet and claimed to have a solution to the problem of spam email. Really, it should have known better:

Robert Barr needs to take off those rose-tinted glasses and listen to Matt Sergeant. I'll take the politeness and gladly shove it.

How is a proprietary system the HOLY GRAIL?

Let's all go out and buy this wonderful new product, and let those pratts that fall for this marketing twaddle chat via their email in private whilst the rest of the human race passes them by.

Good grief!


So this Jeftel system lets you send email directly from machine to machine, rather than through public servers? So how will my machine know where to send an email to?

Hmm..it'll probably need to ask a server, most likely owned by Jeftel. So this new, revolutionary, secure email system will work by routing all email through servers owned by one company, instead of letting any old riffraff run their own SMTP server?

You've got to wonder why it took someone so long to think THAT one up.


Isn't this what we already have with a Linux/Unix host running the usual stuff that comes with it, and having a DNS record of its own?

Even from the Windows mailserver we have here, using the british program from paul Smith - VPOP3 - much of our outgoing mail goes by SMTP-Direct - the MX record is looked up and the mail pushed straight to the advertised mail server for the recipient usually in my case the server in their building or their workstation.

What is it that is new, and why if the £25 is for convenience have they followed Microsoft et al in taking something well-known and making a secret version of it? Pity.


I was going to give them the benefit of doubt, but the major flaw is this: They don't provide source code or specifications of any kind.

How can we possibly trust them to:

  • Not be spyware (forward our emails to them, etc...)
  • Not use flaky encryption algorithms
  • Not use a completely flawed protocol

Their website lacks essential details, that would be needed to convince anybody vaguely interested in security.

There are people far more paranoid than me, and there are people who understand a lot more about security than I do. I'm sure Bruce Schneier would have fun with this one...

Kind regards, Florian

If you have permission addresses, i.e only allow incoming mail from a defined list of addresses, you achieve the same result, without the need for the sender to have additional technology!

The case study, MD sending to secretary, hmmmm, they will more the likely be on an internal mail system not using SMTP/Internet mail at all....

Nice idea, good luck to them, but it will probably not work out ...and if it does take off, the virus writers will just write viruses for it!


I don't mean to be negative but isn't this just msn messenger without the messenger bit?

Another way to look at it is like a postal service which costs more but has no postmen so you have to deliver your own mail! If both parties have to be online at the same time then I don't see how this can possibly work!

Nice to see someone thinking about the problems with email but I doubt this is the solution. Cheers Dave

Andrew Orlowski went to the In the City convention last week and spoke to music industry bigwigs about digital music, filesharing, DRM etc. We ran a full transcript of his speech. In the intro, our editor suggested that some of those in the audience might actually have listened to him. A likely tale, you said:

Dear Reg,

Its nice to see the publication of Andrew Orlowski's sensible views on the future of music and file-sharing, and how the two can actually go hand-in-hand towards end-user happiness, and extended corporate greed - a touching speech. Not only does it pacify both music fans, and the record industry, but it gives off a lovely sense of social harmony aswell.

Too bad then, that it was published a mere 4 hours after Andrew's own article about John Kennedy, and how he just "can't wait to sue file-sharers". Clearly our friend Mr. Kennedy was keeping an open-minded perspective throughout, advocating the suing of 12 year-olds and grandads and all that. Therefore I'd like to take this opportunity to nominate Mr. Kennedy for the inaugural "Comical Ali award for unfathomable stubornness in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary". Its a little long-winded, I know, and it might be difficult to inscribe on a trophy, but I think it accurately captures the message being directed.

I know that I personally cannot wait for the personal area network, and I dearly hope that somebody takes the opportunity to 'bluesnarf' Mr Kennedy on a bus or a street somewhere, possibly donating him some music in the process. Or maybe even some sense!

Regards, Martin

Lastly, the mobile phones on planes debate refuses to die. Today we have two new submissions; one questioning readers' (and our own) statistical competence, and another responding to a correspondents fears about phones on planes being used in terrorism:

Hi there,

This is in reply to the mistake basically all people writing in about the cell phones on planes story made:

For instance this guy: "The flip side of the research being that over half of the 1200 people questioned would rather travel on planes that didn't allow mobile phones... Stuart"

No, that is not the flip side, that's an assumption. The fact that perhaps 40% of the persons asked would PREFER to able to use the cell phone does NOT entail that 60% have a problem with other people using theirs. It CAN mean that they would prefer not to be able to use it themselves, and it CAN mean that they don't really care either way. It makes NO statement whatsoever regarding the number of people who think they'll be annoyed by the increased usage. It is a fairly reasonable guess to say that the people who would prefer not to be able to use a cell phone do so because the usage irritates them, but it's still a guess and of course we don't have any idea about the number of people who'd prefer not to etc.

This is fairly obvious and I really don't see why you printed like 8 letters without at least pointing it out.

Regards Moritz

Well, Moritz, we didn't need to, because we knew that someone would write in and do it for us...

What a load of crap. Yes, mobile phones were used but it was the alarm function of the phones that were used. So the mobile phones were basically low-tech timing devices. If you want high-tec devices then contact the Libyans, they do very accurate long delay devices as used by the IRA when they nearly got Maggie in Brighton all those years ago.

See this article on the Scotsman.

But one more dud - the 14th bomb - went undetected for 12 hours until a mobile-phone alarm sounded amid luggage that had been taken from the bombed trains to a police station. The alarm was rigged to trigger the detonator but the bombers had mistakenly set it for 7:40pm instead of 7:40am, when the other devices exploded on the trains.

Checking facts before spouting sh*t is always a good idea.


But Dave! Where's the fun in that? ®

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