Category Archives: Wibbles

A place to rant about stuff.

How to lose a customer, ASDA

I’ve been doing my grocery shopping online for quite some time using Tesco, and have been very happy. I decided to try out ASDA’s offering, prompted somewhat by an attractive voucher offer – so I placed an order for delivery today, applied the voucher (it was successfully accepted and applied by their website), and got the confirmation email.

An hour after the delivery slot selected, no delivery, and no contact from ASDA. I phoned their customer services, and was told the order had been cancelled because I used an “invalid voucher”. This would be the voucher they created and distributed, which their website confirmed was acceptable and applied to my order. Not only that, they didn’t bother to contact me at all to inform me they were cancelling the order – so I would have been sitting waiting all afternoon for a delivery which was never to show up.

Not what I’d consider a decent first impression. Back to Tesco I go – I shan’t be using ASDA again. Now if I could just find an option to delete my ASDA account, or at least remove the card details from it (which I don’t recall authorising them to store)…

Vodafone, why you no activate new contract SIM?

Vodafone have always been really good for me – a solid, reliable network and good customer service. That’s why both my personal phone and my wife’s phone are on Vodafone contracts.

Over a week ago, though, my wife’s phone stopped connecting to the network. I spoke to Vodafone, and they explained her SIM card was “too old to be updated” (granted, it was many years old), and manually did something to get it to reconnect, but said it needed replacing, and sent out a replacement.

When I received the new SIM I phoned to activate it – that seemed to go OK, but it never actually worked, and the phone could not connect with the new SIM. I phoned back 24 hours later, and was told the activation failed, and they went through the process again; it failed that time, too.

Continue reading Vodafone, why you no activate new contract SIM?

We shouldn’t arrest criminals anymore?

What the fuck?

From a BBC news story, the grandfather of a murdered youth argues that anti-social youths should not have been arrested:

The grandfather of a Luton cyclist killed in a “targeted attack” has said arrests at the scene of the death will not ease growing tensions.

Seven youths were held for public order and drugs offences at a temporary memorial for Delaney Brown in Vincent Road, Luton on Wednesday night.
Delaney Brown Senior said the men “need counselling, not arresting” but police said “appropriate action” was required.
At a community meeting on Thursday, Mr Brown’s grandfather said police should have called community leaders to the scene.

I’m sorry – these youths were hanging around, drinking, possessing drugs (allegedly) and acting in an anti-social manner, and hurling rocks and bottles at police, and this man thinks they should not be arrested, but should be “counselled” instead? What the actual fuck? If you act in that way, you should, nay, must be arrested. Emotional tension after a gang member was murdered (apparently in a dispute between two families, if previous stories are to be believed) does not excuse such behaviour.

US wants to extradite UK student Richard O’Dwyer on bogus claims

Richard O’Dwyer, a 24-year old UK student, started a website when he was 22 which carried links to external sources where people could watch U.S. TV and movies online. The website in question, TVShack, acted as a search engine, allowing people to search user-submitted links. None of the allegedly copyright-infringing content was hosted or uploaded by the site or by Richard.

Now he is being targeted for extradition by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has decided to make O’Dwyer its prime target in its battle against digital copyright infringement. O’Dwyer has been charged with criminal infringement of copyright, and conspiracy to commit criminal infringement of copyright. Each carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Richard is a UK citizen, his website was not hosted in the US and the alleged offenses were not comitted on US soil, so what fucking right do the US have to try to demand he be extradited?

In general, search engines are not responsible for the content of external sites they link to; sites which carefully moderate al user-submitted content can sometimes be considered more responsible for the content which remains, as leaving it there could be construed as an approval of it. However, the “content” in this case was simply links to material elsewhere; there is no clear direct infringement case to answer as far as I can see.

Even if it was agreed that Richard’s website aided the distribution of copyright-infringing material, hauling him to a country irrelevant to the actions in question to face charges which could lead to up to ten years in jail? Seriously, what the fuck?

The Guardian reports:

However, the US authorities became concerned about a site linking to content often still within copyright. To sell a counterfeit CD or DVD of a copyrighted work is an offence, as is deliberately uploading such a work to the internet.

American customs officials, after campaigning from industry bodies, contended that linking to such items on other sites (as search engines and others automatically do) would also be covered by such laws.

This is a contentious interpretation of the law, even in the US, where linking has in some court cases been regarded as protected speech under the first amendment. Part of the reason for the huge backlash against proposed copyright laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect [Intellectual Property] Act (Pipa) was that this provision would come under attack.

O’Dwyer says he hadn’t really considered the legality of his site – he didn’t know much about copyright, and knew he was only posting users’ links to material hosted elsewhere – but did comply with legal notices from publishers asking him to remove links, on the few occasions he received them.

So, for a minor transgression, the US want to be able to haul him out of his own country to the US, and face potential way-over-the-top prison time? (He was already held in Wandsworth prison whilst awaiting bail.) Long-term prison time for a minor offense committed by a young student? Really, US, really?

I really hope the UK doesn’t allow this to happen. The US ICE need a quite simple response to be provided: Fuck Off. However, apparently home secretary Theresa May, who must clear all UK/US extraditions, has already given her approval to it. His appeal therefore now depends on a high court hearing, due later this year.

There is a petition to the UK home office to stop this extradition.

Charles Carreon sues charities. I think he’s a dick.

FunnyJunk is a website which publishes funny images. Many of these images are stolen from various sources – including hundreds stolen from TheOatmeal. When Matthew Inman, owner of TheOatmeal called out the owner of for hosting lots of stolen comics, including a lot of Matthew’s material. The owner of deleted some of them, but a large number still remained, some with attribution removed to hide the fact they’d come from TheOatmeal.

Matthew just left it at that, and the remaining stolen comics continued to be hosted on FunnyJunk without attribution or permission.

Recently, almost a year later, Charles Carreon, a lawyer who became famous in the 90s after successfully litigating, served papers on Matthew representing FunnyJunk, demanding that Matthew remove “false statements about FunnyJunk” from his website, and accuses Matthew of using SEO practices to attempt to come up when people search for “funnyjunk”. (Er, yes, a page written about FunnyJunk will indeed appear in search results for “funnyjunk” – that’s not SEO trickery or any negative action, that’s how the Internet works.)

Worse, though, he also demanded payment of $20,000 to be made! Er, yes, good luck demanding unsubstantiated amounts from a fellow citizen; as a lawyer, I’m sure you’d know that Matthew has no obligation to comply whatsoever, until you take a case in front of a judge, and get awarded damages; how you could substantiate that level of damages I’m not quite sure.

In response, Matthew launched a fundraiser, intended to raise the $20,000 demanded, which would then be donated to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation, two worthy causes. The $20,000 was raised in around an hour, and ballooned to an incredible sum of over $186,000 at time of writing – that’s an incredible achievement and something Matthew can be proud of.

Charles Carreon apparently took offense, though, and told a journalist at MSNBC that he “has sent a request to disable the fundraising campaign”. So, he wants to prevent the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation from receiving over $90,000 each? That seems like something that’ll make you popular.

Amazingly, he decided to go on and launch a lawsuit not only against Matthew, but also against IndieGoGo, the company hosting the donation appeal, who are uninvolved in the whole original bitchfight. That wasn’t dickish enough, though; he also decided to sue the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, who have no involvement other than being the intended recipients of the fundraising results.

Seriously, dude, what the fuck?

I can’t find better words to summarise the situation than these by Ken at Popehat in the link above:

Yes. Charles Carreon, butthurt that someone had leveraged his douchebaggery into almost two hundred thousand dollars of donations to two worthy charities, sued the charities.

Charles Carreon, I think you are indeed a grade-A douchebag. I do hope nobody will ever consider hiring you to represent them in future, except perhaps to unblock their toilets with your tongue. Matthew Inman, I’d like to buy you a beer.

How on Earth do I contact Adsense support?

Some time ago, I had a Google Adsense account, which was separate to my main Google account (as they weren’t linked back then).

It didn’t seem possible to move the Adsense account to become part of my main Google account, so at some point I signed up for Adsense again with my main Google account, intending to then close the other one; that signup was rejected, because I already had an account.

I’m now left in the position where I have an account I can’t access, because the email address used for it is associated with my main Google account, so when I try to log in, I get logged in to my main Google account instead, where I am simply told of the rejected application.

Can I contact Google to get this sorted? Hah! Their ugly help pages mention I can contact them, but not how:

(From their How can I contact AdSense support? “support” page).

Seems the only way is to post on their public AdSense forum, cross your fingers and hope for the best. I tried that months ago, with no luck.

Oh well.


EDIT: I did eventually find a link in a random forum post to a form to submit to indicate that I had no access to the old account and wanted it dropped in favour of the new account: – I submitted the form, and fairly soon after, I received an email indicating that it had been done. So, it was eventually sorted, but the whole process was harder than it needed to be, and customer-unfriendly.

Virgin Media – quit adding adverts to On-Demand stuff

At home we have TV through Virgin Media, with “TV XL”.

As part of the package, we get on-demand TV shows and music videos, but recently Virgin have started adding adverts (for example, for FilmFlex) to the start of the videos. Sorry, what? We’re paying a fortune for the service which includes on-demand stuff; don’t add adverts to it. If we were getting it for free and it was subsidised by the adverts, fair enough, but we’re paying for it, so just show us what we ask for, without adding crap.

Time to call them up I think.

LulzSec hacked the UK census? Says who?

This afternoon there’s been a lot of speculation based on this pastebin post, which claims to be by LulzSec, and warns:

We have blissfully obtained records of every single citizen who gave their records to the security-illiterate UK government for the 2011 census

We’re keeping them under lock and key though… so don’t worry about your privacy (…until we finish re-formatting them for release)

Myself and the rest of my Lulz shipmates will then embark upon a trip to ThePirateBay with our beautiful records for your viewing pleasure!

It’s gathered a lot of attention, including a report on The Register, SC Magazine, V3, but with nothing to actually suggest it’s true.

LulzSec’s Twitter stream disclaims any knowledge:

I’m not seeing “we hacked the UK census” on our twitter feed or website… why does the media believe we hacked the UK census? #confusion

Not sure we claimed to hack the UK census or where that rumour started, but we assume it’s because people are stupider than you and I.

Just saw the pastebin of the UK census hack. That wasn’t us – don’t believe fake LulzSec releases unless we put out a tweet first.

Anyone in the world can copy and paste The Lulz Boat ASCII art and general lighthearted theme. Smarten up, check the feed first. #AntiSec

Looks like someone decided to make up a rumour, and it’s been circulated widely by the media.

Of course, I wouldn’t have actually been at all surprised if it did turn out to be true; this is the UK Government and Lockheed Martin we’re talking about, and LulzSec have shown their ability to hit some pretty big targets in the past

iPhones can’t receive vCard contacts via SMS?

I’ve just been sending a phone number by SMS as a vCard to a friend’s iPhone, and after two attempts, both of which were successfully delivered to the phone, according to the delivery report, he didn’t receive them.

A bit of Googling would suggest that the iPhone just silently ignores incoming vCard contact details. Seriously, what the actual fuck?

How many hard drives?

Just how many hard drives and other bits of kit did the Government waste our money on for their stupid, ill-conceived and now abandoned ID cards scheme? "The government destroyed the final 500 hard drives that contained the national identity register…"

In total about 500 hard drives and 100 back-up tapes that contained the details of around 15,000 holders of the ID cards were magnetically wiped and shredded.

Even if they were going to store a buttload of data on each individual, 500 hard drives for 15,000 people? Seriously?

I’d hate to know how much taxpayer money they wasted in total on this hare-brained scheme.

The taxpayer copped a £400,000 bill for contractors to delete the data collected during the scheme, which was brought in by the previous Labour government.

Part of the cost included the Identity and Passport Service writing to those few people with an ID card to tell them that it was no longer worth the plastic it was printed on.

How much does it send 15,000 letters? I’m sure it shouldn’t cost much to safely destroy hard drives (or, better and less wastefully, securely wipe them then donate them to some computing charity or auction them off…).