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Monday, 28 April 2008

Karoo ignoring users (part 3)

The day is almost upon us. What date? I hear you ask. Well, the date they set for the next tele-meeting. It will not happen now as they have cut off all contact with us and even if they do ring either or both of us we will not be talking to them.

The fact they have ignored many emails speaks volumes for the company as a whole. They have no idea at all how to handle their users and home users in particular. They routinely fleece their customers, be they home based or business base. They routinely slow down Internet traffic etc and worse of all they lie.

They are lying right now about their Traffic Shaping practices. They are claiming that Traffic Shaping will not kick in unless there is "severe" congestion on their network. This excludes such protocols as P2P and Usenet but overall they are still using Traffic Shaping measures to slow heavy users, of bandwidth, down.

Writing about Karoo ignoring users leads me to...

Last week I had the opportunity to talk with 3 separate individuals on 3 separate occasions who work on the Karoo Help Desk (also known as Customer Services). These conversations where revealing especially with regard to routine practices that the management insists, no, demand, they offer up in their capacity as Customer Service representatives.

Each one told me that some customers are routinely ignored (no surprise there then). 21% of all emails to them end up in the Trash folder never to be read. They get several sheets of paper every morning with excuses that they should tell customers when they ring up asking about problems. If a customer mentions any problems beyond their own machine and router then the answer is looked up on the sheets and depending on the time of day that predefined excuse is served to the user. Now, for your every day user this may suffice and some users may even be happy with what they are offered as an excuse but as with most things in life there are those of us who are not stupid.

One thing they, Karoo, never bargained for is the fact that once we are upset about what they have done or are doing we will dig ever deeper until they realise that we simply will not go away. The aim is not to force them back to the talking table but to show them that they do not and never can have, absolute power over the people who work for them nor the people they purport to serve.

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Is surely just a by word for Mother Natures liking for Natural Selection.

Many old time sayings such as the fit get fitter are based around the Natural Selection process and by extension extinction.

So, while the loss of any creature has to be deplored does it follow that the loss is a bad thing? I think not. Hardly a day goes by without some conservation group saying this or that creature it becoming extinct. What we do not hear so much about is the number of new to us, 'us' being humans, creatures found, and cataloged, almost daily. It is reckoned that we only know about, 'know' as in have a record of in some cataloge, approximately 27% or so of Earths creatures. From sea to land, from England's countryside to the deserts of the Sahara, there are potentially millions of creatures not yet 'found'. Quite how they quantify the unknown is open to debate itself but in an effort to prick your conscience quantify it they do in the hope that you do not realise that quantifying the unknown is akin to taking holidays on the Sun itself.

There are records of creatures long since regarded as being extinct. There are records of creatures long thought to be extinct but have popped up again on the conservationists radar.

The Earth, and all who live on it, are such a diverse bunch that the cataloging of all creatures on land and sea will probably never be completed. Plus, and this seems a obvious thing to me, how do we know for sure what is a totally new creature and what has just popped up on the radar is not something that Mother Nature removed for a few years only to bring it back to life centuries later? You know, that process called Natural Selection.

There is little doubt that as Mankind has spread itself ever thinly, or as some might say ever thickly, across this Earth that it has left in its wake a trail of destruction the like of which has never been seen before in the time Man has existed. But even that leaves open many questions some of which defend Mankind and others that show Mankind as the killers of all creatures great and small everywhere they have ventured. But, are they really killers in the true sense of the word or are they simply following the 'only the fit survive' mantra?

I am not a biologist nor consavationist nor indeed am I the type to stamp on spiders but this whole extinct this and extinct that mantra are to me just empty words from another section of our society vying for your money to help them survive. There are thousands of those organisations and I for one will not fall for it. What you do is as always entirely up to you.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Karoo ignoring users (part 2)

Karoo have one of the worst Customer Service operations one will ever have the misfortune to encounter. The information given out by the Karoo Customer Service desk via telephone or email hits the lowest common denominator in that the information given out is aimed squarely at those customers with little knowledge of how their computers work and even less knowledge of how their ADSL works. This is compounded by the addition into the equation of routers which to the customers, who sit in the above category, IS the Internet. So when their Internet does not work they automatically assume their router is to blame. This idea is backed up by Karoo Customer Services as their script gets the caller to 1) check their settings. 2) reboot the router 3) reset the router to defaults which leads to 4) setting up the router. Anything beyond this point is alien terroritory for both that level of customer and Customer Services themselves.

One of the things that was attempted to sort out was Customer Services. Indeed those who fend off, one cannot call it answering, Karoo customers while eating their sandwiches, drinking coffee ("to keep their minds active") and simultaneously answer the telephone, are supposedly currently going through retraining in an effort to create a 3 or 4 tier service so that if tier 1 cannot sort a problem they pass the problem to tier 2 and so on ntil tier 4 passes it to a Technical Adviser and with the most stubborn of technical issues a real technician that actually works on the technical side of the operation. There is also supposedly going to be a direct line that by-pases the tier 1 through 4 phase and goes direct to a technician for those with more idea of how things really work.

Now, while this sounds good in written form there are grave doubts that in practice is will work. It really should not be difficult to provide such a system but Karoo's track record with Customer Services is not good. Not good in presentation and not good in providing either. While they say they are going to provide such a service it is highly unlikely we shall ever see such a service. Why? Well, they are known to cut corners in Customer Service and any revamp of it will cost money and that is something Karoo and especially its mothership, KCom, are not known to like.

I said earlier that the staff are currently under retraining, since they stopped talking to us, that is as much as we now know. Before communicaions where stopped we know they actually started working on this but what that training actually is, compared to what we suggested it should be and what they said they was going to do, can be and probably is totally different. Us lot who have more than a modicum of knowledge can but hope they achieve their stated aims, for once.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Karoo ignoring users.

In other places on this blog you can find my comments on my ISP Karoo filed under ISP.

Karoo's parent company is Kingston Communications, now called KCom which was a name shift they hoped would give them a maturity they apparenetly lacked before the name change, who were a small time company with a small time ISP. They have approximately 80,000 ADSL users, which if you look at the U.K. market is not large. They were at one time a local only company. They have spent millions expanding into the wider U.K. market and here and there abroad. This expanding has meant that this once local company which served only the Kingston-upon-Hull and surrounding areas is no longer a local company.

At one time they where the champions of telecommunications with a large fan base comprised of, not surprisingly, local people. As they have expanded this company has lost all the respect they once garnered from local people. Now, they are but another money grabbing company within the city. Along the way to being a multi-country company dabbling in all sorts of communication business they also lost the ability to talk to local people.

Over the last 2-3 years KCom have routinely upped their prices for the Hull telephone network. They clamied their TalkTalk packages where better for users when in actual fact everyone from pensioners, who where the worse affected, to businesses lost out. I.E. they all paid more for the priviledge of being on the KCom network. As an example: A pensioner rings once a month her or his daughter or son. That makes 4 calls in every quarter. Previously these calls cost 6.4pence. Now the lowest plan offered under the TalkTalk brand is £10. There have been cases where they have allowed a few people to take a TalkTalk plan of £5 but even at £5 that is a hell of a lot more than 4x6.4p (25.6pence). But did they listen? Nope. They just carried on regardless.

Now to Karoo. The Internet arm of KCom. They offer the most expensive ADSL packages in the U.K. which is made even worse by the total lack of features added (sometimes call Value Added Features). Over the years since Karoo's inception there have been several user groups who have attempted to foster better relations with Karoo. I, myself, was part of one such user group. In all honestly this sort of contact with Karoo management is, and probably always will be, a total waste of time and effort on the user groups part as Karoo/KCom have no intentions of listenng to user concerns.

In last ditch effort to get them to change course slightly and offer bang for buck packages I, and one other, emailed the KCom M.D., but I have serious doubts that he will listen to the concerns that I raised and much less faith he will answer the questions in a true and open manner. The company is now too big for the boots it once wore and because of this the arrogance coming out of their offices forces me to think they do not give a fig for their local user base and much less for what their user base wants from their monthly fees.

Monday, 14 April 2008


In that article on the bbc web site it is quite plain the BBC have no intention of paying ISP any money. I have to say I agree with the BBC.

Why should the BBC pay for ISP negligence? The ISP's should have and should now do upgrade their networks to cope with demand. They surely saw the rise in on-line videos. Youtube is one such that delivers video's to users but I never heard the ISP's asking them for money so why now ask the BBC for money so the ISP's can upgrade their networks?

The rise of on-line video entertainment has been with us since before youtube existed. Youtube came along and that started a slight strain on ISP networks. Did they, the ISP's upgrade their pipes to cope? No. They let that one slide. Then the BBC opens its IPlayer service and people started using it. Apparently it is, unsurprisingly, popular. Suddenly the ISP's are faced with network overload. Is it the ISP's or the BBC who should pay for the network upgrades? Think about this for a minute.

You pay for network access.
The BBC pay for providing you with all their web sites.

Focus on that last one. As a content provider the BBC pay for Internet access just like or you and I do. Except the BBC pays millions a year for the privilege of serving you with the content which includes the IPlayer service.

Now focus on that first one. You pay for Internet access. Just like the BBC.

Google has many applications that make them a content provider. YouTube is a content provider. There are many such content providers out there but the greedy ISP's have never asked any single one for money to prop up their failing networks. Suddenly the BBC, a public content portal paid for with the TV license money overs a streaming service and suddenly they ISP networks are creaking so they automatically assume that because the BBC gets millions every year from the TV license that the BBC should pay, again, the ISP for allowing such services on their failing pipes.

In short. The BBC pay for the privilege of serving up their content which includes the BBC IPlayer. You, the user, pay your ISP for Internet access which includes the BBC web site which includes the BBC IPlayer. The ISP's want the BBC to pay them again for you, who have already paid for Internet access to access the BBC web site which includes the BBC IPlayer service who already pay for access which allows them to serve up content. So, the BBC end up paying twice and you, the user, once. Clear?

Quite how the ISP's expect even more money from the BBC is beyond comprehension.

For those using Karoo you may be pleased to know that while not unexpected they are at the forefront of the shouting at the BBC for more money. Not unexpected because Karoo are a greedy company who have some of the highest prices for ADSL in the U.K.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Calling all Microsoft users.

And all Microsoft based businesses (Especially those in the U.K.).

Why not? There is a golden opportunity available today for those tied to, or those coming to the end of, contractual obligations. Even those willing to throw money away, money tied into long standing contracts, knowing their future operating system usage will come with no strings attached for years onwards, will come with no forced upgrade migration path mandated in contracts, towards the operating systems in use. To get ahead of the curve. Perhaps to even get ahead of your competitors and certainly to pass cost savings onto their customers. It is not just businesses that can get ahead either. There is much the home user can gain too.

What am I talking about? First, an explanation of why this is possible. I live in a world of Microsoft using friends. My work life is not much different except there I get to put out the word about the Linux platform (LP) and now and again, more often than you may think, get a job transferring systems from a Microsoft platform (MSP) one to a LP one. Here I am going to try and explain how I go about saving single user and multiuser setups a not inconsiderable mount of money.

The LP is not all shiny lights nor the Holy Grail some LP fans would like you to believe. Is it ready for the everyday desktop? Yes, but with some caveats. Is the LP a drop in replacement for an MS one? Yes, with some caveats. Can a MSP fan with 10 or more years make the switch to an LP one and find it easy to use? Yes, but with some caveats. Etc, etc, etc. And so it goes on. One thing that is certain is this: You will save money. There is not the learning curve some would like you to believe.

As someone who installs LP systems as part of my working life I can say with all honesty that the users best suited to it are first time users of a computer. With an LP installation they will fair much better than someone with 6 months or more, of MSP usage under their belt. I say this because while the MSP and LP operating systems offer much the same by way of applications that that is just about as far as it goes. The application names are different, the look and feel of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is different, though not wildly. Scratch away the surface (GUI) and the two platforms start to differ dramatically. Unless configured otherwise a standard installation of an MSP allows the user to arbitrarily see almost all of the underlaying system and to delete, rename and replace some system files vital to the running of the system. MS Vista goes someway to limiting this sort of thing with it UAC sub-system. The LP allows users to see system files but the user cannot delete, rename or replace any of them without elevated privileges. In fact, one could say in this regard the two platforms are opposites of each other. However, it should not be difficult to see, even with that short and curt description, which of the two methods is the more secure.

Yes, I am aware the Vista MSP negates that scenerio as does a properly locked down XP MSP. But here the differences become more apparent because while using a default Vista MSP or a locked down XP MSP increases the inconvenience to the user, via the MS Vista UAC sub-system, under a LP there is no inconvenience. On an LP system the all powerful 'root' user can do anything it wants to, any file, though even this user can be limited and on a properly configured LP it should be. A user on the otherhand while limited in what he or she can delete, edit or rename will never feels inconvenienced as programs simply run and any work saved lives in the users home directory. A home directory over which the user has complete control.

In the cold light of day the two plaforms are like chalk and cheese, but are similar at the same time. While some users find using the LP after several years of MSP usage quite easy, your average everyday user with the same or similar usage time under his/her belt does not. Office type workers who do little more than email handling or document reading, editing and writing would not notice any difference between the two platforms as they never have the need to go deeper than surface level to do their work. They may notice the GUI looks different and the application used looks different, but with the menu system setup so the names of applications are more intuative, by that I mean more MSP-like, it would be work as normal.

So, that said. What about license costs? There is no comparable license type. One never buys an MSP, one buys a license to use it then if you need support they charge you more for it. An LP system can cost as much as nothing. Yes, really. One can download an LP, install it, use it forever and never pay anybody a single penny for using it. Where they often make money is in support of their operating system but even this can be negligible when compared to an MSP license. LP's like Redhat or SuSE make their monies in this fashion. But, by using someone like me these support costs can be minimal.

When asked to do so, and the number of those asking is growing all the time, I find out what the customer expects from an LP system, then what they want to do, then what programs they currently use to determine if a like for like, insomuch as they provide the same functions, alternative exists and if not a similar one exists, if neither are available then a suitable alternative that while not being an exact match the functions offered are the similar. This many involve several smaller programs that are bound together via scripts to function as one, is found. Once these areas are defined then I explain what I think is the best course of action for a given customer is. These processes can take several meetings, sit down and face to face or via telephone or even email, to be decided but the last one is when I offer my choice of solutions and if possible a live demonstration is performed during which a hands-on experience is offered. This, however, is not always possible. If it is not possible to offer this hands-on demonstration then I talk them through it. Sometimes with slides sometimes not. Each and every discussion is different and each tailored to that user or business.

The basic way I install an LP system is as follows.

I use a couple of setup CD's that I use for installation. Why CD's? Well, there are many systems out there that do not have a DVD drive. By using CD's I can install to systems with either a DVD or CD. But, if I had setup DVD's then I would be limiting myself to those systems with a DVD drive only. One auto installs the base system to the first hard drive it finds. Be it an IDE one or a SATA one with the IDE one having presedence. Once that is installed and working, and the customer has indicated exactly what he or she wants to allow his or her system to function within their environment then the other CD's are brought into play. Once this process is complete a period of familiarisations follows.

And in this short space that is about as much as can be said. A mere scratching of the surface. I will be filing this under several labels but if your interest has been peeked then the one to watch out for is Linux. Any further posts with the same intent will also be filed under Linux. My aim is to provide a series of loosely knitted posts with the same underlaying theme. I.E. Getting you to see an LP for what it is and how by replacing the current MSP you can save lots of money without removing your productiveness.

Oh and these posts will be trumpeting my own business :-) Why not eh?

Thursday, 10 April 2008

I hold my hand up.

I am a smoker. If that smoke be a Condor Original filled pipe all the better. I tend to smoke mainly a pipe full of the afore mentioned tobacco, but on occasion I smoke an Old Holborn fuelled roll-up.

I started smoking aged 13 and have never looked back. I simple enjoy smoking. I progressed from tipped to none tipped cigarettes to a pipe aged around 18. Since I was 18 my preference is for a pipe. I have smoked many aromatic and none aromatic tobaccos in my pipe puffing life but I always come back to Condor Original. It's fuller taste never ceases to be be enjoyed. I do still try an aromatic now and again. The latest one being Black Mallory but even with that being an enjoyable smoking experience I still fall back on my favoured Condor. I maintain 7 pipes. One of each day of the week for my Condor Original smoking and 4 more for those aromatic tobaccos I like to try now and again. There is 1 more pipe in my collection which I keep for, and only bring out on, those special occasions that only crop up now and again. So, I maintain a total of 12 pipes.

I never smoke in our house due to having children. I have never smoked in a restaurant. I have never smoked on a public or private transport bus. I don't smoke in my wifes car even though she does. I have never lit up in a confined space when a none smoker has been present. I will only light up my pipe in wide open spaces where the air flows free.

Sometimes when time be short I roll up a handrolled cigarette. Namely Old Holborn. It is only when smoking the rollup's that I inhale the smoke. This handrolled smoking is in the region of 5-6 a week. A count of my pipe smoking however remains largely uncountable, due to the fact the number smoked in any given week differs so wildly. If I had to put a number on it then I would have to day 5-6 a day times 7 equals 35-42 a week. I rarely inhale pipe tobacco. I cannot honestly say I never have because I have and do. It is so rarely done however my inner health checks show no traces of smoke related damage to my lungs.

I enjoy my pipe smoking. I will continue to enjoy my pipe smoking until such a time as the goverment commits financial suicide by simply banning all forms of tobacco from being sold in the U.K. Exactly, it will not be happening any time soon and even if such legislation is passed, and I am still live, there will be a black market where tobacco will be sold and people such as myself will find places to enjoy our beloved weed. But, I digress...

I have always cared and been aware about the impact of my pipe smoking habit on, not only my family, but the general public who may be around me at any given time in any given situation. But once out in the fields walking with my children or walking our dogs or simply walking down the street, but never in town where crowds can grow quite large and private space becomes a premium, I light up my pipe. Hence why I have never, even long before the recent bans came in, smoked in an indoor place such as a pub, unless in an old fashioned smoking room, or at a football or rugby league match etc etc etc.

The recent ban on smoking never hit me at all even though I retain what few rights a private citizen has these days to be against such a ban.

I like to think I am a responsible smoker, if such a thing can exist in a modern society hell bent on demonising all smokers.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Children growing up today,

In a world gone mad, only those with the will to survive, will survive.

It must be a really confusing world them. Especially so here in the U.K. where regulations created by people who really should know better, simply must be upheld irregardless of the damage it causes. My personal definition of children are boys and girls in the 5 to 12 age bracket. Before 5 years old they are babies then toddlers, after 12 years old they become teenagers and teenagers are classed as kids then youths. Maybe these definitions are old hat? If they are then perhaps we should tell the babies/toddlers/children/kids/youth's.

Forget the fact we force our children into the, what should be, but has not been since the mid 1970's, strict world of education at an age in the childs development cycle when they should never be. Forget the fact that, by the demands laid upon them in so many ways, children are not allowed to be children any more. Forget the fact that our nations early educational demands stunt whatever learning potential the children may or may not have then or in the future. Forget the fact that we have a government that has consistently failed our children. Forget the fact that we allow despot individuals to lay down stupid rules that govern both our children and we parents. Forget the fact that parents are no longer allowed to bring up our own children as we see fit.

All of which leads me to this. My attention was captured by the story of a 3 year old boy who was sent home one day because of his haircut. Yes, i thought that too. His haircut.

What signals does this send out to a 3 year old child? It must tell him that he should conform to someone's, other than his own parents, ideals. it must tell him that he has no choices to make. It mus tell him that his own choices are somehow bad and by extension he is somehow bad. It must tell him that his parents are somehow bad because they allowed him to be put in the position. It must tell him all the wrong things. Things that will help to shape this litle boys view of the world.

Poor little chap.

This sort of story, with all the undertones it carries, is unfortunately all too prelevant in todays society. It is one of many that sends out all the wrong signals to a child struggling to make sense of a world so wrapped up in itself it misses the big picture.

Is it any wonder then that we are seeing an ever increasing amount of children being classified as 'troubled'.?

Friday, 4 April 2008

Trafffic Management.

And other such practices as employed by many Internet Service Providers (ISP's) in the U.K. could be illegal under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which makes intercepting internet traffic without a warrant or consent an offence. The word to highlight here is "consent".

Most ISP's in the U.K. hide such agreed consent deep within their Terms and Conditions (T&C). Because ISP's force their users to sign on the dotted line, which implies the user agrees with that ISP's T&C, even though most users will never read their ISP's T&C Making their users give their consent by the back door in this manner implies that the user has given their consent which in turn is a green light to ISP's to put Traffic Management practices into practice.

I strongly believe this method of forced consent is illegal. Thereby Traffic Management, and all other such activities that interfere with a user generated Internet data stream is illegal by extension.

In many other countries this sort of thing is being played out in courts. It is being mentioned in government circles and many other such places. Net Neutrality (the process of none interference) is a hot potato.

I do not know of any such being played out in the U.K. even though many ISP's routinely interfere or intercept user generated data streams. There has been much furore about a company called Phorm and the fact that BT conducted trials using software from this company using 18,000 of their user accounts in the process. This software intercepts a user generated Internet data stream then uses this data to inject advertisements into a web page that user uses. All this is done without the user or indeed the web site owners knowing it has been done. More on this, and quite probably a better explanation, can be found here.

My own ISP, Karoo, intercepts all its user generated Internet data streams and employs what it calls 'Performance management' which is just other name for Traffic management. it intercepts user generated Internet data streams then applies some logic to it at the end of that is slows the data stream down. They have claimed this is "industry practice` which is a blatant lie but it is used by a lot of ISP's in the U.K. The very fact that they intercept user generated Internet data stream is I believe against the spirit, if not in legal terms, of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)

As this sort of thing is being played out in courts all over the world I have taken it upon myself to fight the good fight in the U.K. to get all such interceptions and all interruptions of user generated Internet data streams abolished. I shall take the fight wherever it leads me against anyone who wants to shot me down.

A pleasant walk turns nasty.

Two days ago the evening of here in sunny Hull it was sunny and pleasant. The sun shone brightly set in a blue, almost, cloudless sky, a gentle warm breeze was blowing from the North-West. Early evening was ripe for a walk and sure enough one of my young son's requested such. Not being the type of father who curtails such ideas from a young child a walk in the early summer evening was decided upon. My other young son is not so keen on these walks however. He will merrily play football all day and run around like only young kids can but as soon as a walk is decided on he suddenly feels tired, however, this particular evening without so much as a murmur of discontent he decided that he would like to join us. Both my boys and I, along with my wife and other child, who is too young yet for such walks, had had a lovely home made meat-pie for our tea (dinner to all but U.K. based folk), so a shortish 2 hours or so walk before the dark of early night crept over the land would be good for the digestion. My wife, who remained home with our youngest, suggested we walk across the fields and head towards Cottingham town centre where she would pick us up and we would all return home together. Good plan said our eldest.

Cottingham is one of those overgrown villages turned town where you do not go unless you really have to. It has nothing of significance at all and exists purely as a place where people live or as a pass through to somewhere else beyond it or an entry route when coming into Hull. As is typical here in Blighty for such villages cum towns it is mainly a residential area. What few shops it has are expensive. Don't get me wrong, I find Cottingham a pleasant place but not somewhere i could live. Still, it is a good target to aim for after a walk through the fields.

As I may have mentioned before we live not 100 yards from the city's edge. The official city limits if you will. Walk out of our front or back door, turn to the left or right depending on whether you leave the house via the front or back door you would then and after a couple of minutes walking hit fields. Wide open fields. In the evening sunshine those fields beckoned us and we did not want to disappoint. We do not dress-up for these short walks barring our choice of footwear. I mean, there is something silly about going field walking in your best pair of shoes or in summer footwear when at this time of the year one is certain to come across some fields edge and find out that water and soil has mixed to form what is commonly known as mud. Anyway, after putting on some suitable footwear and a jumper in case the wind grew colder as the evening inevitably gave way to to the night time coolness always felt at this time of the year.

Along with a light jacket and some decent shoes I have to take my walking stick. This is for medical reasons as without it I cannot walk more than a few yards. So, we 3 set off. Leaving the house via the back entrance we walked towards the fields. Just a few yards further up the road there is a small thin field, if indeed it can be called a field, where people walk their dogs. This narrow strip of land is perfect for a walk as it leads to a huge open field at the top end. It was along there we aimed to go and go we did.

Once we had reached the top end, as I said it opens up into a large open field, we had a choice of routes, go left or go right, that was the question. My second eldest suggested we go right probably because this is the shortest route but still right we went. Along the rough path that lays that way. We had gone probably 200 yards along this path, just around the bend when we happened upon a group of youths who appeared at first glance to be sniffing something from a small butane gas fired campfire. Taking no notice of them we attempted to walk passed where they had set up site but as we did so two of the youths jumped in front of us. Not being as agile as I once was I tried to simply walk passed this obstruction. As I did so one of the youths took a swing at me. He managed a glancing blow across the top of my head as I ducked out of the way of the oncoming fist. By now my two boys where getting scared. Not wanting them to start crying, which is a sign of fear, I had to think quickly.

I am disabled with arthritis in every bone in my body slowly but surely growing and eating away my bone structure. My joints are particularly bad with my lower spine being, frankly, buggered, as you can imagine my mobility is somewhat limited. So here we where out in the open, my two boys and I and 6 youths whose ages I would put at between 15 and 20. They, the youths, where obviously under the influence of something, possibly glue. As my two boys where becoming increasingly scared at the situation I had to think quickly. My adrenalin was running fast. In my youth I used to box so while my mobility is limited I know how to punch and where all the so called sweet spots are. As long as they made no moves whatsoever towards my boys they, the youths, where safe. If they had made even the slightest move towards my boys I know I would have lost it and quite probably seriously hurt those youths, even with my mobility problems.

As the two youths made a move towards me I knew I had to do something. I sure as Hell cannot take two youths on together anymore even if they were off their heads on something if they happen to go for me simultaneously. My adrenalin running I dropped my walking stick and I picked one out. Without my walking stick I had about 2 minutes before leg gave way and even less time if I had to move about. They moved on me together but one slightly behind the other. The one I had picked out threw a fist at me. I ducked again but this time as I came up I swung a lovely uppercut and he dropped like a stone. The other one saw his mate drop and for a split second dropped his guard. I saw this and took my chance and swung a sweet fist which caught him square on his jaw. He too dropped like a stone. The other 4 that made up the group never moved throughout all this and as I gave them a stare they all dropped their heads to signify they where not interested. I took my walking stick from my eldest who had picked it up and started to carry on our walk. Once a good 30 or so yards away I took a quick look back to see that the two youths I had laid prone where still on the floor and the other 4 youths where still sat at the camp fire. Content nothing else was going to happen I turned my full attention back to my boys.

My boys where suitably impressed that ""our old dad" can handle himself so well. The walk progressed with their constant merry chatter none the worse for the incident. I spent the rest of the walk explaining to my two boys that they should only do as I did if they are attacked as I was. They should never start such a fight. I feel sure they understood what I wa telling them but only time will tell for sure if my comments had sunk in. Did I feel good? Yes and no. Yes, because it felt good to give back some of the grief youths like this give society. No, because it could of sent out the wrong signals to my two elder boys at a time in their lives when they are at their most impressionable. I needn't of worried. As soon as they saw their mother they excitedly ran towards her shouting how "Dad had saved then from the jaws of death" as my second eldest put it. The return journey home and the rest of the evening was full of two excited young boys extolling the fighting skills of their "old Dad".

Dad has gone way up in the eyes of his children which can only be a good thing right?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Content providers.

In an excellent blog post on the BBC web site by Ashley Highfield the Director of Future Media and Technology in which he scolds ISP's for moaning about bandwidth issues.

Specifically the bandwidth used by the BBC's iplayer service. I urge you to read it and to understand the consequences of what he is saying.

It is not often that I can agree with anything the BBC has to say but in this instance I say he has got it spot on. Why should users of a given ISP pay an ISP for broadband access and then the ISP get paid by the BBC for users using the BBC service?

I really hope the BBC prints a name and shame list of ISP and I bet our ISP would top the list. I know for a fact our ISP has tried to get money out of the BBC, specifically because of the bandwidth used by people who have legally paid for the broadband service have or will access the BBC iplayer.

My ISP already charges over the odds prices for an "up to" 8mb service so being forced to pay twice is not something I, and many others who have no choice in ISP access, relish one bit.

I can say with absolute certainty that our ISP filters the BBC iplayer service and at times, especially during 6pm to midnight, the service offered by the BBC as a public service is unavailable. It is unavailable because our ISP makes it so. Mr Highfield is against this practice, not that our ISP cares about its users as there is no competition for them to worry about here.

Good on you Mr Highfield for showing up ISP's for what they are.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

What a joke.

We were led up the garden path. The Karoo Technical Forums, as posted about elsewhere here, which had said about it that it hailed in a new era of business to customer relationships. It is now all but dead in the water after just 3 meetings spanning 4 months. Why?

Well, we told them what their customers wanted. We told them how their home customers needs have changed and what they needed to supply to those customers. In return they said major change to their ADSL offerings was coming and they would integrate "what we can" what we had told them into those offerings. They said they would look into providing reverse DNS as an option and multiple IP's again a an option, probably, they said, to their premier package (which is now named Karoo Pro). They said at the time it was discussed that reverse DNS and multiple IP's "should be no problem" and "pose no difficulties" in implementing them. They said faster downloads via ADSL2 would be available. Offering these in a cheaper package would be good too we said to which they replied "that is a possibility."

So, we took this information back to our news group and while we had some distracters the overall majority was pleased with both the information relayed and we two for taking the time to talk to them.

When the new service offerings appeared very few of the things we had told them their customers wanted were listed. Not even in their premier package Karoo Pro. Not as an add-on option. Nowhere. We had been sucked in, digested and spat out in disdain. They had effectively lied to us and made us look stupid to our peers for believing a money grabbing company like KCom and their ISP offspring Karoo, cared about what their home based customers wanted and for us to believe they cared at all.

At this stage of the game the future of the Karoo Technical Forum looks uncertain. What is certain is our utter disgust at what they have done. If, and this is big if, they reply to the email we sent them about these new offerings and the total lack of new features held within them and they can somehow patch up our now total distrust of them then it may yet have a future. But, from where we are sat right now that seems like mission impossible.

We shall see what comes back and take it from there.