Teamviewer Scam

Mumma Cat got caught up in a "Teamviewer scam". Someone called her claiming to be from "the ISP", saying something about them working for BT, TalkTalk and some others. They then said "your computer has over 500 viruses on it, because you don't have any protection". They then got her to turn her computer on and download Teamviewer. The scammers then get remote control access of her computer and show her something that "confirms the problem".

A quick look on t'internet shows lots of people saying the same thing. Apparently the scammers call back, and start asking for money to fix the problem. It's unclear if they install keyloggers, viruses or botnet software on your computer - we're taking no chances.

Fedora 13 Servers

It's time for some upgrades to Coofer Cat. I've bought a new machine, and intend to run Virtual Machines on it. For this, I'm going to use a cut-down Fedora 13 installation as the KVM hypervisor, and then build another Fedora 13 system as the web server for the site (I'm going to use other VMs for other jobs, like maybe an Asterisk phone system).

One problem with Fedora these days is that it's primarily a "desktop" product. That means, the default installation adds X Windows, Gnome, and countless tools you wouldn't need on a server. There are "spins" available that do different types of installation, but I couldn't find a "server" install.

To cut a long story short, I've been stripping a Fedora install down to the bare bones. It's got most stuff removed, but has things like RPM, Yum, SSH and a serial port console. I've attached two lists of RPMs - one for a minimal system, the other for the hypervisor. I'm sure there are more packages I could remove, but this seems pretty decent to be going on with. Hopefully this'll save someone else some time if they want to do the same thing...?

Upside-down Plants

I got an email from these guys today telling me about an upside down planting solution. I don't know if the photos are all completely legit, but it looks like the plants they've grown are quite happy upside down, even getting their leaves to bend upwards, whilst the flowers grow downwards.


The Times Hides From The Internet

From June, Rupert Murdock is taking a risky gamble. He's not only hiding his newly designed news site behind a 'pay wall', but also getting it removed from Google (and others). In short - unless you know about it already, and you're prepared to pay for it, you won't see it (old site, new site - both devoid of any coverage of this at the moment).

This is important for a handful of reasons. It could turn out a number of ways, many of them are quite bad for News International. The most obvious thing that will happen is that you won't see the Times or the Sun in Internet search results any more. I suspect most people probably won't be too bothered about that ;-)

Secondly, the online readership of the Times will dwindle. It'll only be a few select people who honestly believe they're getting something from the Times that they can't get anywhere else. Personally, I think that's a tough one - a large proportion of daily news is reported by just about everyone, and then re-reported in umpteen free publications the next day. It's only the "big scoops" that differentiate one news source from another, and those sorts of stories just don't happen all the time. Even if you had the most elite investigative journalists in the world, and produced one scoop every week, that news isn't going to be of interest to everyone at the same time, and it is going to get re-reported by every other news source anyway.

Thirdly, with a sharp decline in online readership, the online costs of the Times are also going to shrink. This could result in an self-sustaining solution - just enough loyal subscribers to pay for the infrastructure of the site. I'm not sure how feasible that is, but it's certainly possible.

Lastly (and I suspect what's intended), other news sites may try the same thing. In theory, this could create a 'critical mass' of the primary news sources becoming 'pay walled'. If that were to happen, then you have competition on which one people want to use. However, it only takes one reputable news source to stay free (eg. the Guardian), and the whole system collapses. In fact, there's motivation to stay free - you'll scoop up all the roving news consumers, and their associated advertising revenues (as demonstrated by the Guardian, and their hugely successful online presence).

Personally, I don't see how this is going to be any great loss to the Internet, or any great gain to News International. However, it's true that Rupert Murdock is about a million times richer than I am, and he didn't get that way by being an idiot. I guess we'll just have to wait and see who's right about all this.

The Digital Economy Bill

The BBC surveyed people around the world, and found that 75% of UK adults believe Internet access is a fundamental right. They also found out that people in Russia, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt believe they have greater freedom to express themselves on the Internet than we do. Yes, we're worse than some third world countries in this regard.

All this puts Lord Mandleson's proposals in the incorrectly named Digital Economy Bill into perspective. He wants to disconnect people's access to the Internet, yet 75% of us think we have a right to it. Not really surprising, but he's rather out of step with public opinion.

As usual, the Pirate Party offer a more representative view.

My Nokia N900 Smart Phone

Last week I got a Nokia N900 phone (to replace my goodness-knows how old Motorola K1). It's quite a chunky phone, but the slide out keyboard makes typing more than a text message quite easy - which is obviously something you want to be able to do on a smart phone (if you're a touch screen keyboard junkie, then you can do that too, but it's typically much slower). The N900 also comes with a stylus, which you don't always need - but it is handy when you're browsing web sites or whatever

I got things like access to my Yahoo! mail account working really quickly. I even got my works PC syncing with the phone so I get my calendar in both places. I did spend a while scratching my head because the phone wouldn't sync properly after working fine the day before. It turns out all I needed to do was switch it off, remove the battery, replace it and turn on again. Obviously not a great solution in the long term, but got me going again.

Some seemingly obvious things aren't possible on the N900 (yet?). For example, there's no easy 'tick box' to stop the phone vibrating every time you get an email. I ended up editing /etc/mce/mce.ini, which requires root access and lots of geek knowledge. Not exactly a "feature for the masses". The same is true for the alarm clock - you can't stop it vibrating when it goes off - which pretty much negates any benefit to having a soft alarm tone to wake you up gently. Also, if you hit "snooze" the alarm sort of 'disappears', so you can't turn it off very easily.

I had a proper play with the maps and directions software. It's actually pretty good. It downloads the maps from the Internet, which is both good and bad - it's good, because it's more accurate than our TomTom, but bad because it'll cost a fortune to use abroad. It's no where near as usable as the TomTom though, although it does do a fairly similar job. Hopefully Nokia's new-found map-related focus will sort this out soon.

I've got a few other niggles with the software, although I'm hopeful that it'll improve gradually over time, as Nokia seem to be releasing updates every so often.

All said and done, I'm very pleased with it. Moving to a smart phone has been really handy, and I'm glad I did it. The N900 is a bit more 'tinkerable' than something like an iPhone, so suits me rather well.

The Government Wants to See Your Children Naked

You can't opt-out of the full body scanners at Heathrow and Manchester now. That means, if they select you, you have to give someone you can't see a good look at your naked body. It's only a matter of time before someone gets sacked for posting those pictures online. Remember, the person watching the scanner is a £10/hour security droid - not exactly the most trustworthy demographic.

One to think about if you've got children. We Brits seem paranoid enough about paedophiles and perverts - now you've got Government sanctioned one.

This was a joke. Not so much any more, eh?

Change We're Not Allowed to See

A friend posted this on facebook. It's a light piece about an ill-advised idea from Nu Labour to get the community spirit involved to photograph things that Labour have done that we all think are great. They were angling for shiny hospitals, schools and the like. The rest of us seem to think otherwise. You can upload pictures into their Flickr group.

After a swathe of pictures were removed from that group, a couple more sprang up. Change we are not allowed to see is the obvious one, but also Caught in the Act of Flickr-ing is another one on the same lines.

By the looks of the stories people are posting, the paranoia about photography-is-terrorism is out of control. There's a part of me that wants to put this to the test. Shame I'm a terrible photographer :-(

The Brüno DVD - Good Film, Bad DVD

We bought the Brüno DVD a while back. We got the player setup last night and watched it. It's characteristically cringe-worthy, and the cage fighting scene is really something to watch. It's another nice comment about the USA, the media and the audience :-)

However, I'm really upset with the DVD itself. You put it in, and for 2 minutes get told that you're going to burn in hell after being subjected to a life of poverty if you so much as think about lending the DVD to your friends, let alone copy it. If that's not enough of an insult, you then have to sit through 10 minutes of trailers before you even get to the "play movie" option.

It's clear to me that the (Hollywood) film industry is even more broken than the music industry. Universal Pictures (and others), if you're listening (which it's clear you're not): I don't want to PAY to watch adverts. By all means give me some trailers on the DVD, but don't make it impossible for me to watch the film without seeing them. Surely you can just put another option on the main menu called "see some trailers" - that gives me a choice - you know, "choice" - that thing consumers crave?

I seriously doubt I'll be buying many more DVDs because of the general degradation of the medium, and this "final straw". I still want to watch good films at home, mind you. They just won't be on DVD.

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