Internet & Related Stuff

For Internet and Related Stuff.

One of the many tweets flying around in the last hour or so has been a story about Google Screwing over one of their clients to the tune of Thousands of $$$ because of some obscure contract violations.

From a cold email:

"After reviewing our records, we've determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we've found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google's share of the revenue will both be fully refunded to the affected advertisers."

... through to no real explanation as to what 'invalid activity' is ...

... through to a crazy analysis of the legal situation:

"The Adsense contract is a beautiful piece of work. One of my subscribers is a lawyer. She looked at the contract and said “wow – this is a beautiful and incredibly expensive piece of work. These guys employ the best.” Her advice? Don’t bother fighting Google.

The contract is designed so that it is almost impossible not to break the Google rules. If you disclose site data then you are in breach. YouTube discloses just the sort of site data that would have me thrown out – but YouTube is Google which is Adsense."

Seriously. Click through and read it. And think about the impact that this has had on the guy, who had absolutely no idea he was doing anything wrong. Is in fact possible not to do wrong? Does this mean that everyone using AdSense is ultimately operating thanks to the good will of Google? And that Google can screw them over, without warning, and quite happily claim it's within their rights?

The entire situation makes a mockery of Google's 'Do no Evil' stance, and I for one am even more put off. The risk of the "cloud" is the amount of dependency you wind up having on it. There's a very good reason I keep the majority of my stuff, under my own direct control, this includes my income.... but notwithstanding this position, Google needs a rocket for screwing over an innocent, loyal customer.

Example of stupidity: An AdSense customer (someone using AdSense for advertising and thus revenue) is in breach of their contract if folks click on the links provided via AdSense and then don't purchase anything from the advertiser? REALLY? I see a run of DoS against AdSense users coming...

I came across http://vilain.net/blog/2010/12/93-vilain-v-vodafone.html via Twitter yesterday. I've met Sam Vilain, though I don't know him well - but I know him by reputation as a clever guy. That, and this being an issue I have strong interest in, had me keeping my ear to ground for the outcome of events.

In short, Sam was taking Vodafone to the Disputes Tribunal over the cost of international roaming on his Vodafone cellphone.
For anyone who travels frequently, you'll be aware of the facts involved - that roaming is horrendously expensive and that there's no way that the end-user costs associated with roaming data are in any way proportional to the actual operating costs of the service. Indeed there's plenty of media coverage about the insane costs of roaming (despite Vodafone making such a big deal about it's worldwide service).

A simple Google Search reveals headlines like:

So I share in Sam's dissapointment at the ruling but will also be interested in the followup. From my perspective:

- Vodafone have been far too inspecific about the costs of data use in their billing system; if a customer wants by-session information they should be able to have it!! Landline broadband can already do this.
- The rates are expensive; the fact it's cheaper to buy a local sim card than use your own number is actually a bit of a joke when it's usually pretty obvious that at a network level, costs are barely above local data costs. The host networks own local charging rates should sent the benchmark for a roaming guest. This case is serving to give yet more exposure to what many consider is a rort.

Skype is a useful little tool. I'm sure it needs no introduction.
And for those who don't use Internet Explorer, this article probably means little...

I use Firefox as my primary browser on all platforms (Windows, Linux) that I use on a daily basis.
However I do still have Internet Explorer on all my Microsoft systems - it's shipped by default, it's not worth the drama of uninstallation, and it still has its place on the shelf.
For example, at work I use IE for a lot of my internal-use stuff as it's a) Microsoft driven and b) a useful segregation between external and internal content.
(I also have Google Chrome, as a third option, as I seriously avoid using IE to browse anything on the Internet-at-large).

Anycase. Within IE when you install Skype, you by default get the plugin which does clever things like turning phone-numbers (or things it thinks are phone numbers) into clickable links that'll encourage you to use Skype to dial them. Or even (as I discovered today), linking a name that appears on Sharepoint with a name thatappears in Skype, incase you wish to directly instant message the person you're reading about!

Fed up, I googled.
And found This very useful article.

Ultimately the 'right' way to turn off the plugin for me (IE8 on Windows 7) was to navigate to Tools -> Manage Add Ons, Find 'Skype Technologies SA' and select 'Skype Add-on for IE', and disable this. It then disabled a related plugin, 'Skype Add-on for Internet Explorer'.

Restarted IE and bang, back to normal browsing. Thank God for that.

MSN/Windows Live have Changed Stuff; their SSL Cert as supplied in Pidgin (up to and including 2.7.5 which is current) no longer works.

The instructions found at OMGUbuntu.co.uk work well. They also apply to Windows; in my case Windows 7.

Export the SSL cert you can export from https://omega.contacts.msn.com/ to C:\Users\[your user name]\AppData\Roaming\.purple\certificates\x509\tls_peers and replace the old omega.contacts.msn.com file with the new one, then quit and restart pidgin.

I assume that in versions >2.7.5 they'll have updated the SSL Cert. No idea of Ubuntu et al will supply the update via their distribution networks.

qrcode

Yes, this is a little circular. But they're a neat idea for those with 'smart' devices capable of decoding them. :-)

This is worth a look. Rare to see a drop of rationality in this world of polarizing, extremist views... http://linuxlock.blogspot.com/2010/10/of-us-who-work-in-corporate-it-world.html

Even Fair Go last night had an article about spam but a current frustration is a phonecall I had from the Department of Internal Affairs Antispam Unit which explained that the unsolicited email I've received from 'Celia for Mayor' (a Mayoral Candidate in Wellington) is not actually illegal.

Here's the email I received subsequent to our conversation:

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for enforcing the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 ('the Act'). Please note that any information provided in this communication is not legal advice and is given without prejudice.

After reviewing the received message from the address [redacted from the web] sent on the 10th August 2010, the Department has found that the message is not considered a commercial message under Section 6 of the Act in that it does not promote goods or services:
6 - Meaning of commercial electronic message
• For the purposes of this Act, commercial electronic message—
o (a) means an electronic message that—
? (i) markets or promotes—
? (A) goods; or
? (B) services; or
? (C) land; or
? (D) an interest in land; or
? (E) a business or investment opportunity; or
? (ii) assists or enables a person to obtain dishonestly a financial advantage or gain from another person; or
? (iii) provides a link, or directs a recipient, to a message that does 1 or more of the things listed in subparagraphs (i) and (ii).
Please also note that Section 6 states exceptions to messages that — provides the recipient with information about goods or services offered or supplied by—
• (A) a government body
As per our discussion, this is somewhat of a grey area in that Celia is sending the message as a candidate for a local government body. Previously the Department stance has been to contact the likes of MP's and advise that their campaign messages would be in the best interest to include an unsubscribe facility and contact details so recipients can remove themselves from such messages. The Department understands that there can be frustration in receiving such messages, however you may wish to remove yourself from the mailing list by clicking on the unsubscribe facility. Or you may wish to contact the administration team by using the email address [redacted from the web].

The Department will also contact Celia's administration team and request how they are obtaining recipient email addresses for their campaign and advise accordingly. In regards to using an address from a unpublished source, you may wish to make a complaint with the Domain Name Commission.

The latter is a response to the suggestion I made that my email address had been harvested out of 'whois' data. I had another look, and the email address being used is unlikely to have come from this source.

However am dissapointed that the law in NZ (which I initially thought to be fairly well written) seems to have such a grey area around political advertising. I wonder if a mayoral candidate's advertising could be construed an advertisement of services that is not (yet) a government body...

I do appreciate the DIA attempting to educate Celia's administration team, and I wish them well. In any case, I would never vote for a spammer, so the advertising that I received from this candidate did the exact opposite of what was intended. And I remain dissapointed that the laws about spam have a gaping hole in them...

As the sign says....

Credit to one of the guys at work who pointed out how appropriate the sign is when we wear our IT security hats. :-)

Oh, come ON...

As previously blogged our company (the one Liz and I operate privately) has received unsolicited advertising from 'Pieroth Wines NZ' at least once before. They gain our details via the Companies Office Register.

This has been further validated; Last week Liz updated our details with the Companies Office now we've relocated to Auckland.
It didn't take long to receive more junk from Pieroth, addressed to 'Dear Lover of Fine Wines' at our registered address.

DO NOT EVER TRADE WITH PIEROTH WINES! This sort of harrassment-style direct marketing is rude and obnoxious. I'm not a wine lover, no matter how many times you try to suck me in with your faux-manners!

Most of my previous rant on this subject remains entirely valid. It's postal direct marketing, so it doesn't fall under the UEM Act... It could potentially be argued that using the Companies Register for purposes other than for which it is provided, is in breach of its terms of use. Yeah, that'll stand up to scruitiny... ??

Are people stupid enough to actually respond to these mailouts with enough frequency to make the cost of doing them worth the grief?

Why do I have to live with the fact there's absolutely no way to protect myself from this sorta crap?

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