Hey, where'd my porn go?
Vodafone's filtering not a big hit with Reg readers
Letters It is probably an understatement to say that content filtering is a contentious issue. With that in mind, Vodafone could claim it has been bold and brave, unilaterally introducing an adult content filter to its 3G service.
Based on your correspondence, it seems that there have been a few teething problems in implementing the system. But leaving the technical issues to one side, the move also raises questions about the legitimacy of a mobile network operator appointing itself moral guardian of its subscribers. You had more than one thing to say about this one:
I'd be one of the user's asking "hey where'd my website go?"
I refuse to give further credit card details to Vodafone, I've already signed a contract with them for my phone which I had to be 18 to sign, they have my date of birth on record also, as I get asked for it every time I phone them.
As to not having received any complaints about it over the weekend - I'm hardly surprised; when I asked about how to complain about the situation the operator told me they only took complaints via snail mail and would I like the address?!? I've satisfied my need to rant on their website feedback form, and with a solid browsing of Orange's price plans!
Re: Vodafone's adult filter is go I found the Sky mobile site was barred. When asked why Vodafone had barred it I was told that "the news may contain stories unsuitable for people under 18" WTF!!!!
Go is it? Well if they've turned it on I can see no evidence, after reading your article I pulled out my trusty P900, hit google, typed 'porn' and was browsing flesh sites within about thirty seconds.
GO GO VODAFONE!! Our children are safe - phew.
Sword of Damocles
Well, we are trying to find out a little bit more about how this all works, so stay tuned for an update.
News that the EFF is going after software patents it says are too broad seems to have gone down well:
With patents it is clear that the current framework in general is a failure. I have a few friends who work in patent offices and they invariably have insufficient knowledge to know whether there is any prior art. The only way I can see that any form of patents would work would be to require that the patent holder be making active efforts to exploit a patent in order to allow them to enforce it. This would stop people making speculative general patents with nothing more than a hope that they could exploit the gullible and poor with IP demands in the future.
Congratulations to the EFF on this. Really, it is about time a serious organization throws a spanner into all this patent nonsense. The way things are going now, some day somebody is going to patent a method for breathing and then we'll all be in trouble. I support the EFF 100% on this.
First Direct has asked it customers not to use cashpoints less often. We wondered about their motives, and it turns out we weren't the only ones:
Perhaps I've got a suspicious mind, but..
From my understanding banks charge each other 30p when one of their customers pulls money out of another banks cash machine - there was a bit of fuss a bit ago when Barclays announced they were going to directly surcharge the customer £1. The surcharge never really took off, and most banks currently just absorb the cost. They can do this as they're getting a load of 30p's from customers of other banks using their machines - the banks with the best networks make a profit and banks with poor networks manage to give their customers good ATM access for a cost a lot lower than expanding and maintaining their network.
If you're First Direct, you don't have a network of ATMs on the high street however. Every time one of their customers pulls out a tenner, it's costing them 30p and they can't recover this money off other banks. As the fee is the same however much money is withdrawn, I could see why they'd be trying to get their customers to pull out £100 a week, rather than a tenner here and a tenner there. I could be completely wrong, I know FD is owned by HSBC, so maybe HSBC waive the cash machine charge to FD users - but knowing corporate culture I'd have thought HSBC wouldn't pass over the opportunity of getting another divisions money onto their balance sheet.
First Direct pays when people use an ATM machine. Is it surprising they want those that use them most (probably taking out a £10 a day, or a few times a day) to use them less? Seems a company with a clear ulterior motive hiding behind a "security" issue. Sure the fraud happens, educating customers on what to look out for seems a far better approach than a "please can you just use the machines a bit less" approach.
I find it interesting every time a card fraud story comes out, there's 2 things you can count on;
1) Chip and PIN will be wheeled out as the solution to the problem. They did this on BBC news over the weekend, conveniently missing the point that it has 0 to do with cashpoint withdrawals.
2) Where's the useful advice from the banks? Occasionally Which? will pop up and say sensible things, but in my experience no-one I know has been advised to cover your hand with the other when entering your PIN, or to tug at anything attached to the front of the slot (ooh er). Surely this would be better advice than "use them less"?
Chip and PIN involves the use of ATM-style keypads in locations which are far less secure than a typical ATM and are likely to be covered by CCTV, thus representing a much-increased risk of fraud compared with the traditional docket-signing system.
I rather suspect that the banks care not one whit about fraud when they are not responsible for making good the loss, and that the introduction of Chip & PIN has been used as a cynical excuse to transfer liability from themselves to the merchant and/or customer.
Piracy. Another touchy issue. The Beastie Boys CD that apparently installs code on Windows machines seems not to be an isolated incident:
A nasty trick, but certainly not all that new. I'm not a big CD buyer anymore (for all the usual reasons...), but I recently bought two for £3.99 each at my local Asda store.
Anyway I got them home, and the other half discovered that they wouldn't play in the in-car CD player. Smelling a rat, I tried them on the PC. One was unusable, the other popped up a message box it saying it was going to "Update Windows" for me - like f**k it was! I cancelled that immediately. I checked the cases carefully and noticed the warning logo for the evil DRM (not that they put it like that), and the lack of ANY of the authentic Compact Disc logos anywhere. A bad sign.
Incensed by this, I reloaded the discs (I can't legally call them CDs) into my PC (careful to hold down the shift key, and attempted to copy them using Easy CD Creator. One refused, but the other worked without hitch. My first ever ripped disc. I then returned both of the discs to Asda claiming they were unplayable, who refunded my money.
So thanks to their attempts to restrict my use that record label actually turned me into what they were trying to stop :-)
A few thoughts from the floor on the notion that hospitals may not be banning mobile phones for health reasons:
My local hospital (Lister in Stevenage) imposes a ban on mobile phones yet the roof top is littered with antennae from all mobile vendors.
I think many hospitals get extra income or rent in reward for housing these aerials, which have ward and heart patients a few metres below.
The reason mobiles are banned in UK hospitals is to protect the PatientLine phone monopoly which offers premium rate phone services to sick people.
I now live in the US where mobiles are common in hospitals. In a nation where malpractice claims can result in eight figure judgments, if there were a danger, wouldn't hospitals here ban mobiles pretty quickly?
Boots' decision to install Kodak photo print booths has met with a mixed response. Some of you thought we were too sceptical and wrote in extolling the virtues of the digital photo printers. Others were less keen. Seems the jury is still out on this one:
Re "Boots deploys digital print kiosks", I've used the service in recent weeks, and it's actually pretty good. The 29p price only applies to 50 or more prints. For 19 or fewer, it's 49p. The kiosk has an inkjet printer inside - I'd have thought a dye-sublimination printer would've been used, but I suppose an inkjet is quicker. More expensive to run, though.
As you wrote, the kiosk will take Compact Flash Card, but it will NOT take Compact Flash microdrive (e.g. Hitachi/IBM) cards. They're far too thick, and would need to be hammered in - something I didn't want to do. Instead, I copied everything to Memory Stick, and printed them that way.
One point, it's not particularly tolerant to over-sharpened images, as I suspect it carries out a little bit of sharpening prior to printing. Other than that, I'm particularly pleased with it. Saves me having to buy a printer. And the Boots in town is a damn sight nearer than Jessops in the next town. And there's no waiting time either.
The Kodak digikiosks are good, and the print quality is well up to Kodak's reputation. But they aren't problem free.
So far, it's hard to find any information about what can be done. For sundry other reasons, I have not yet tried the claimed ability to print black-and-white or sepia-toned prints, and the automatic enhancement may be no more than "red-eye" reduction.
Two problems, if you do the image editing on your PC at home (and there's some good software being given away with British computer magazines this month):
First, the system doesn't recognise files with a .jpeg filename extension. Maybe it has a 3-character limit? There's no information on filetypes, so it may be only able to read a .jpg -- not a huge problem.
Second, it isn't possible to print a square image, leaving un-printed areas on the paper which can be trimmed off.
Neither of these is a killer problem, and it's trivial to add filler-space to an image, but both can waste a trip.
It's a touch-screen interface, and there isn't an obvious "give-up-and-go-home" option (No images found on the media, remember). It would be guesswork how the average Boots customer would cope, But I do expect to use it quite a bit.
Incidentally, the little info sheet has almost zero info, but a money-off voucher. And the discount for a lot of prints is pretty good.
One other minor problem, but not much to do with Boots. You can get some nice 6"x4" frames just about everywhere. But not 8"x6". So the picture of my father is centred in a 10"x8" frame. It looks good, but it could be awkward. And most people seem to get their prints from film sized at 7"x5"
OK, I like what these things do, but I maybe know just enough to pick out the awkwardnesses.
And if you want a reprint from film, stick the original print into your scanner. These machines read CD-R and floppy disk too.
But the Kodak kiosks suck. I live in the USA, the local supermarket has Kodak kiosks and they are constantly broken, or they won't read the media or...the local Kinko (copy shop) has some very cool Sony kiosks which work great. Bad move Boots...
I can get 15p per 6"x4" print overnight in central London from Klick Photopoint
& check this 9p!!!! per print 6"x4" from Winkflash.com. They come from North America and take 5-7 days but only cost 99p postage!
So, "instant" maybe but for 2-3 times the price? I'm not that impatient.
Good things come to those who wait, or so advertisements for a certain brand of Irish stout would have us believe. With that in mind, we're off to find a sunny spot in which to sit and contemplate passing clouds. Practising patience, you understand. ®