Bruce Willis ousts Deep Purple for Eurovision title

But which is more of a threat to humanity?

Letters It's always good to know you take us seriously, and this reader's practical application of the recent ban on the word solution made all hacks at Vulture Central sit back and sigh with a collective 'Aw, bless'.

I have followed your proposed banning of the word "solution" with some amusement recently... Although amusing, I hadn't actually found the word annoying me... Until today...

In reply to a suggestion I had emailed the boss recently I received an email saying "Your solution driven response gratefully rxed".

WTF does that mean exactly?! If I remove the words "solution driven" I don't find I have lost any meaning from the sentence!

And what on earth is marketing speak doing mixed up with "rx" the technical abbreviation for receive!

Needless to say I replied along those lines to the boss and provided a link to your previous letters page!

For Hire: Experienced programmer, available from Friday 2nd March 2007

Top job that man there.

Away from the back patting and into the battles. Andrew Smith's first hand account of his struggle with PlusNet drew wrath and messages of sympathy in equal, though plentiful, measure. A selection:

Interesting article. I too have had lots of issues with slow speeds caused by shaping which resulted in me moving out of Plusnet. However it looks like you fucked up the MAC process yourself resulting in your final sting in the tail.

Next time, use your MAC promptly. Delays always cause problems.

As a "consumer journalist" I am surprised you did not see the main error of your article. I sympathise, with your struggles: the internet is still a minefield and its all to easy to get confused by complicated contracts and how the industry works.

Please allow me to clarify some things.

The issue regarding the MAC keys and OfCom is that in the past if a customer wanted to move to a new ISP, like today, he would need a MAC key from his old ISP to give to his new one. Previously, before Ofcom stepped in, some ISP's would charge the customer for providing a MAC key. This procedure has now been stopped. ISP's cannot charge for MAC keys. Indeed Plusnet do not charge for MAC Keys - and as far as I know they never have done in the past either!

What clearly happened to you is having deferred payments in place. There are charges involved in setting up your broadband connection. The charge comes from BT to the ISP who then has to pass it on to the customer. On top of this Plusnet (like many other ISP's) can also provide the customer with a router or modem to use to connect to the internet. The connection charge and the router costs are often absorbed by the ISP as part of your subscription, but if you don't stay with the ISP for long enough they wont have received enough money from you to cover these costs. All Plusnet wanted from you when you asked to leave was to get what was left of the "dept". They could, I guess, just lock you in to 1 or 2 year contract preventing you from leaving but they don't. You can leave when you want so long as you pay back what you owe.

Once you pay back what you owe, Plusnet will provide the all important MAC key, free of charge.

Yes its a fine detail but its a significant one. Your entire article seemed to be based on the Ofcom stuff, which is pretty irrelevant with regards to Plusnet as they have never charged for MAC keys any way!

However, many of you had your own tales of ISP woe:

I'm glad to see that PlusNet are not as shit as they used to be ;^) Like you I endured months of bad service but stuck with them, the final straw was when we moved house and they connected us in the new flat, but then disconnected us after three days and denied that the connection had ever moved. They wanted a "reconnection" fee to put the line back. I told them that we would leave and was hit with the weirdest definition of notice in the world. Firstly they wanted a 30-day "notice" period for an account that they admitted was already deactivated. Then, because the 30-day period expired between two billing dates (and seriously, when would it not do?) they wanted a further 30-day period because "that is their procedure". After quite a few shtty emails explaining how they could insert their procedure where it would do the most good they backed down and "only" extorted a single 30-day fee. Feel free to use my name and any details in a future story - and you can quote me that they are incompetent money-grabbing bastards. Afterall I saved all of their emails incase they would be needed in the future.

Thank you for your PlusNet article - it's high time that this unscrupulous ISP got a prominent roasting. An ex-customer has published a *very* revealing new blog if you ever want more ammunition. Read it open-jawed at:

Good luck with your new ISP!


This is what chargebacks are for

Banks vary on how they deal with them but both Abbey and Barclaycard (the two I use) are extremely good.

As soon as the complaint is made (goods/services not provided, charges take without authorisation or through misleading authorisation) the money is returned to your account, it can be given back to the retailer but not until the full procedure has been completed - and the burden of proof is on the merchant not on the card holder.

Its a nice thing to know - maybe I'm a little too willing to use it - but I find it an easier step than issuing a court summons.

"Refund it now or I will initiate a charge back, and if you protest the charge back I shall see you in court" is down right obnoxious - but it gets results!


Interesting story. I own SAQ Internet, we have seen it all in the ISP business (we started in 1996!). Most of our customers are SMEs rather than home users and we tend to have a philisophical approach towards people leaving us, sometimes, suitably chastened they come back. Given the tough commercial situation on the Internet, I can sympathise with PlusNet's actions (= make every penny you can from ADSL). However, from the point of view of customer relations I think they are perhaps unwise to follow the path they do (we certainly don't). Concerning Ofcom, frankly, the biggest bunch of overpaid useless twats I have ever come across. They do exactly zero for the smaller ISPs. Hatred is too weak a word to describe our feelings and the feelings of other ISPs towards this bunch of bastards.

Hackers this week cracked the Xbox 360, allowing other operating systems to be run on the platform. So what?

Hi John,

I can think of few exercises more pointless than trying to run Linux or any other OS on a games console. May be if this effort was directed in a useful direction then the problems that plague mankind might have been nothing more than footnote decades ago.

IT is plagued with assholes, this kind of thing just personifies it.


In other security-related matters, an RFID security presentation due to take place at a Black Hat conference this week was pulled after card manufacturer HID Corp said the hacking tools due to feature during the presentation violated its patents. Hmmm. A move just asking for a conspiracy theory...

"But the manufacturer of the cards, HID Corp, said the hacking tools due to feature during the presentation violated its patents."

Jesus, no shit Sherlock. Bet would-be hackers intending to break into RFID based security systems won't try to mess with HID's patents again. That'll learn 'em.

All joking apart, I'll now do all I can to make sure that HID Corp's products are blacklisted when I'm next due to put out tenders, even if they're OEM components of someone else's offering. Any business that prefers to hide behind legal aggression rather than fix exposed weaknesses in its products doesn't inspire much confidence.

I don't really care whether the reasoning behind a legal onslaught is bruised egos, a chronic inability to understand the wider implications or a desperate need to cover up major defects in the affected products. However, if one is intending to purchase a security system, it's safest to assume the latter.

Regards, Mike

Hello John,

It would be interesting to compare the reliability of RFID building entry systems with that of the traditional approach, i.e. trusted doormen who know everyone by sight. There's problems with both of course. However, once an RFID system is thoroughly hacked then every building using that system would surely be open to all, and you might not even know it.

Besides, you won't get a cheery Good Morning out of an RFID system unless someone glues a hacked sound producing greetings card to the door frame. And it would still be saying 'good morning' when you go home in the evening.


For goodness' sake, they need to start holding these things in Cuba or somewhere instead. The urge to suppress information is practically a kneejerk reaction.

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