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Archive for April, 2013

Keeping Up With The Joneses?

Posted by Boghound on April 28, 2013


Quick – fetch the decanter!

Want to keep up with the Joneses? Follow our guide to middle-class cheating

TRAVEL

Are you concerned that you can only afford to go on holiday to Bognor Regis? Give a richer friend your Facebook log-in details so that they can update your status from Tuscany.

Don’t forget to polish your automated out-of-office email. “I’m currently away on annual leave; please contact my secretary” doesn’t really cut the mustard. “I’m currently on annual leave in Tuscany; please have a look at my photos on Facebook” is much more like it.

Get really good at Photoshop.

Embarrassed by the blue-and-yellow cabin-approved bag you bought from Ryanair last summer? Jazz it up by tying a stolen Virgin Upper Class label to the handle.

Do: use a car-sharing club, such as Zipcar, allowing you to pass off an Audi A3 as your own.

Don’t: get caught swiping the windscreen with Zipcar’s card.

YOUR HOME

Casually drop into conversation that you had a lovely weekend on the estate. Don’t let slip that the estate in question is the nearby council estate that you hurry through after dark.

Tell people how much you enjoy the shooting on the estate.

Does the fact that you can’t afford more than one pot of Oval Room Blue, Vert de Terre, Breakfast Room Green, Dorset Cream, Rectory Red or Manor House Gray make you weep? Don’t worry: Dulux is a lot cheaper than Farrow & Ball. Just make sure to leave the right colour chart lying around your kitchen.

Rightmove lets you search over a million properties for sale. But if you’re going to scan the website at work, remember that no one walking past your desk will be impressed unless you put in a suitable minimum price. Houses costing up to £1.5 million should do the trick.

Can’t afford to move home? Why not change its name instead. It’s relatively simple, involving letters to your local council, the Land Registry, the Electoral Roll, your mortgage lender, your doctor, and anyone else who writes to you. So take the plunge and change your address now to: “47c Smith Street, The Old Rectory, Hull.”

If you live in London, remember that every area has two names: the actual name and the one the estate agents call it. Always use the latter. It’s not Battersea; it’s South Chelsea. It’s not Maida Vale; it’s (very) North Notting Hill.

If in doubt, use “village” as a suffix. As in: “Yes, I live in Peckham Village – very up and coming.”

And if you bump into a casual acquaintance on the Tube journey home, impress them by getting off in zone one – and then walking the final eight miles to your flat in zone four.

WORK

Are you a middle manager in charge of a team of two and a budget of £10,000? No, you are what your business card says you are: “Vice President, Marketing (UK, Europe and Middle East)”. Make sure everyone sees it.

You’re not “between jobs”, “taking some time out” or, God forbid, “unemployed” – you’re on “gardening leave”. Yes, you are gardening the solitary pot plant in your tiny kitchen. It requires a lot of attention.

Do say: “I dabble in a spot of consultancy on the side. It’s all about portfolio careers these days, isn’t it?”

Don’t say: “My job only lets me into the office three days a week, so I spend the other two in my pants at home watching Neighbours.”

FAMILY LIFE

Can’t afford boarding school? No problem. Simply send your children to stay with their grandparents at weekends and pretend they’re at Radley.

Annoyed that your daughter narrowly missed out on Oxford – perhaps because you couldn’t afford to offer to renovate the college library – and is going to Durham instead? Just tell everyone she’s off to Doxbridge.

Embarrassed by the mongrel you picked up from Battersea Dogs Home? Save hundreds of pounds by forging your own five-generation pedigree certificate.

Struggling to keep up with Bupa premiums? Lots of NHS hospitals have private wings attached, so you can still enter by the appropriate door – before scuttling down the corridors to where you belong.

AT THE SHOPS

Make sure your credit card looks the part. If in doubt, colour it in with a black felt tip and write “American Express” on the front.

Looking for a Savile Row suit on the cheap? Pick one up from a charity shop, cut out the label and sew it into a suit from Marks & Spencer.

Never accept a Sainsbury’s “bag for life” when you can take your own Waitrose bag to Sainsbury’s instead.

As above, substituting Lidl for Sainsbury’s and Sainsbury’s for Waitrose.

CULTURE

Join a public library, if you can still find one, and borrow all their impressive‑looking books. Forget to return them.

Tell anyone who’s interested that the reason you bought standing tickets at the Globe has got nothing to do with the £5 price tag and everything to do with getting close to the action.

As above, for the National Theatre, remembering that standing tickets are at the back and therefore you have to say that you prefer the wider angle on the stage.

ENTERTAINING

Always remember to invite people for “kitchen suppers”. Then they’ll never discover that you don’t have a dining room.

Refer to “the old Aga”, even if your cooking device is a camping stove.

PG Tips tea bags can be taken out of their box, unstitched and put into biodegradable Teapig tea temples.

Buy a wine decanter.

Remember to throw away the three-litre, £13.29 Lidl wine-in-a-box from which you decanted the wine.

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The Russian Way!

Posted by Boghound on April 24, 2013


Russian Government Changed Its Mind

The Russian government decided to try and avoid the disastrous effects of misdirected copyright enforcement like it happened with the United States, while at the same time keeping piracy at bay. As such, the authorities have announced they would adopt a different approach.

At the moment, governments from all over the world are trying to fight digital piracy, either by dragging thousands of suspected copyright infringers into mass lawsuits or by pursuing the source – file-sharing portals. The problem is that neither of these methods worked – instead, their efforts only increased the popularity of such services, while doing nothing to stop piracy from spreading. As a result, a regime known as graduated response system was enforced in many countries. However, the governments failed to find a better solution – for example, launching more places on the Internet where people can purchase legal content. The authorities usually can’t understand that there is a vital difference between “hardcore pirates” and the ordinary BitTorrent users and therefore fail to suggest improved copyright legislation which wouldn’t undermine people’s freedom of speech and human rights. Although for the government it would be enough to educate the regular Internet users about copyright law, this isn’t enough for copyright owners, who are never tired of targeting file-sharers by the hundreds of thousands.

Vladimir Grigoryev, a head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, announced that they aren’t going to hold Internet users responsible for downloading as the United States does, and won’t bring owners of PCs to court. But this doesn’t mean that piracy will thrive in Russia. The authorities are determined to impose stricter rules regarding portals facilitating copyright violation. In other words, the owners of pirate websites will be hold liable for infringement, not end users. As for the users, they will soon be the subjects of educational programs, just as their American fellows.

Thus far, there are no details about the campaign, but Russian authorities seem to be confident. The experts doubt that the country’s entertainment industry, which is known for sending complaints about VKontakte (InTouch) and AllofMP3 clones for a while now, will be satisfied once such campaigns kick in.

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Buy Me…I’m Not XP!!

Posted by Boghound on April 23, 2013


Microsoft Strongly Recommends XP Users to Upgrade

Since only one year of Windows XP support is left, Microsoft again asks users of this OS to upgrade to something not so ancient. One of the most stable operating systems ever developed by Microsoft has been around for ten years and is still used on 15-20% of PCs worldwide, including mine.

The software giant is going to cut off support for the venerable OS on 8 April 2014, thus giving users one year to either upgrade or get ready to face more vulnerabilities and security risks. Nevertheless, XP is still incredibly popular, particularly among SMBs and home users. All of them feel it gets the job done and therefore don’t see a point in upgrading to Windows 7. But you should understand that Windows XP is older than iOS, Android, Facebook and YouTube.

In addition, the problem is that Microsoft sold millions of XP licenses for first generation nettops and netbooks based on Atom processors, this being years after XP stopped shipping on regular desktops and laptops. Apparently, upgrading these systems to Windows 7 may not be an option for most users.

In the meanwhile, the software giant insists that the only way for users to stay safe is to upgrade to a new operating system. The cutoff date is only a year from now, so time is already running out. It seems that Microsoft does not care that users of ancient XP PCs might choose to upgrade to something else, for instance Linux or even Chrome and Android. As for me, I might take it as a sign to buy myself new Macbook and switch to MacOS X.

With so many XP boxes out there, the experts predict that many users will simply ignore Microsoft’s warnings. The company’s decision to ditch XP could also lead to more opportunities for peddlers of alternative low cost systems based on free OS.

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An Apple A Day??

Posted by Boghound on April 23, 2013


DEA Can Read iMessages

The US Drug Enforcement Agency seems to be messing with Apple customers by pretending that it can’t read their iMessages. It was a few days ago that CNet obtained some DEA memo suggesting that the messages sent via Apple’s own system were untappable and therefore “frustrating” law enforcement.

The “leaked” memo complained that encryption used in the iMessage chat service had stymied effort of DEA to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. It was said that some recent criminal investigation was affected and the DEA warned that due to the use of encryption, it appeared impossible to intercept iMessages between two iOS devices, even though they had a court order.

In other words, it was proof that the Apple was so superior that it even had law enforcement unable to match it – so, if you wanted true privacy you had to purchase an iPhone. Pure advertising, to put it shortly. However, there was some faulty logic in the memo – while it implied that the company had some brilliant security that even the federals couldn’t crack, it also implied that Jobs’ Mob had no control over its own network.

It is a known fact that Apple can boast end-to-end encryption, but the company itself holds the key, as it means that when you boot up a new iOS device, you get access to your old messages – in other words, the company stores the data in the cloud and is able to decrypt it in case of need.

It seems that the “leak” only means that DEA isn’t able to get iMessages by going to the mobile operators, but it surely can get them by going to Apple directly. Moreover, iMessages may appear even more prone to surveillance, because SMS messages are normally stored on mobile operators’ database for a brief time, while iMessages seem to be stored by the company indefinitely.

Other media reports suggest that the memo was leaked to CNet in order to falsely imply that iMessages are almost impervious to government snooping. However, there are two plausible theories: it may be part of the federal’s effort to convince lawmakers to force all communications systems keep backdoors for wiretapping, or it may be a try to convince criminals that iMessages are safe and force them to use them falsely believing the messages are protected. So, don’t text about the corpse in the trunk even if you own an iPhone.

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Banned Sites…..No!

Posted by Boghound on April 20, 2013


Guide on Accessing Banned File-Sharing Sites in UK

Within the past few years the United Kingdom has been doing everything it could to tackle piracy. Finally, the country’s High Court forced ISPs to block access to the most popular torrent index in the world, The Pirate Bay, and a few other file-sharing services, including Kat.Ph, H33t, and Fenopy. Although ExtraTorrent remains accessible, the situation may change, and this guide will help you in case of need. The UK residents willing to keep accessing their favourite file-sharing sites can use a number of alternatives to do so.

1. The Onion Router (TOR)

TOR is a complex system allowing you to hide your true IP address via various online layers of anonymity, and this is why it is called Onion. As far as security is concerned, you don’t need to worry, because your data will be encrypted and re-encrypted many times, plus it will be sent via a succession of TOR relays. If you want to install and try TOR, visit https://www.torproject.org/ and download the app, which works on almost any OS – Windows, Apple and Linux/UNIX. Extract the archive and open the extracted folder to start browsing by double-clicking the “Start Tor Browser” executable. After you do so, you’ll see another window (the Vidalia Control Panel), together with an Internet browser demonstrating which IP address you’re currently using. In addition, the Vidalia Control Panel offers you a lot of features, like establishing your connection through TOR and appearance. You can also install the Torbutton for easier access.

2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

In short words, VPN service is a private network which enables virtual encrypted connections that are hidden from prying eyes. It works by routing all of your Internet traffic via remote servers from all over the world. Basically, it’s a proxy service, but with more hip.

3. MAFIAAFire

MAFIAAFire is a plugin for Firefox and Google Chrome, which allows users to access portals that are either blocked or seized. Basically, it is an Internet browser redirector – in case a domain name of the website is seized, the plugin will search for similar domains and redirect you to a working one.

4. TorrentProxies

This is the easiest way of circumventing the blockage – just visit http://torrentproxies.com/ and choose any of the proxies listed there.

5. Direct IP

There are two ways to access a website: you either type in your browser’s address bar the usual address, like extratorrent.com, or the domain’s IP address. But first you have to find out which is it by either looking on the Internet for such a service, or finding it yourself by going to the Command Prompt in Windows and pinging the desired address (example: ping extratorrent.com, and you will see the number between the brackets as the website’s IP address).

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To Swear Or Not To Swear?

Posted by Boghound on April 17, 2013


Swearing ban for Middlesbrough man

A Middlesbrough pensioner has been banned from swearing within earshot of anyone in his home district of Coulby Newham, including in his own flat.

Patrick Gilmore’s landlord, Erimus Housing, took out an injunction against him for verbally abusing staff and neighbours.

The housing association said it had warned its 74-year-old tenant in advance of the possible injunction.

He will now have to pay his landlord’s legal costs of £4,000.

Stewart Tagg, head of neighbourhoods for Erimus Housing, said: "Mr Gilmore had been warned on numerous occasions regarding his attitude towards staff and neighbours.

"Taking out an injunction against a customer in a situation like this is not common and is always a last resort."

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Windows Leak!

Posted by Boghound on April 14, 2013


Windows Blue Leaked Online

Within the last years, the software giant has been from time to time openly bothered by the numerous leaks of its products. Sometimes, Microsoft itself has been suspected at using leaks to promote its software, and today the new “release” concerns the new OS, Windows Blue, which since last week can be found on file-sharing portals.

It seems that the 2.63GB ISO file is believed to have been released by one of the company’s French service partners. That’s what this leaked version reveals: nowadays users of Windows 8 are able to access the File Recovery feature, though it takes a little digging to find it. The option can be found in the Control Panel under “All Control Panel Items” and lets users to back up their files to an external drive. This feature is expected to be removed from the next release.

Another novation is said to be Microsoft pushing most of the PC settings controls from the desktop to the new Modern UI overlay, including settings for SkyDrive, Network, Time & Language, Apps, Accounts, Update and Recovery. As you can see, the desktop is being eased out going forward.

In addition, the leaked update also showed a handful of new application, such as Alarms, Movie Moments, Calculator, and Sound Recorder. Moreover, you can also find a new updated Snap mode which allows opening two apps side by side, each taking half the screen, while currently each takes up 75% of the screen. Snap mode may even accommodate up to 4 apps at a time.

The leak revealed the ability of Windows to manipulate the size and arrangement of tiles, and to name Start Screen groups without having to switch to semantic zoom mode. This build even offers users the ability to customize the desktop’s background and color schemes right from the blocky Modern UI. Finally, the OS carries a functional copy of Internet Explorer included in the leaked ISO, but at the moment there’s no information about the updates to the browser. Hopefully, the Internet browser will be improved.

Microsoft is expected to make Windows Blue available in a few months as a preview. The official release is scheduled for the end of 2013.

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U.S. Wants Total Web Control!!

Posted by Boghound on April 6, 2013


Streaming Services Can Be Prosecuted

After the US Congress failed to monopolize the worldwide web with absurd laws like SOPA, it didn’t give up. The politicians were recently presented with the option of making streaming of copyrighted material a full pledged felony.

Of course, the music industry has never been the only one interested in destroying BitTorrent – movie and TV studios have the same goal, having been fighting against P2P for almost a decade. Although crackdowns happen and thousands of users find themselves plunged into copyright lawsuits, illegal file-sharing still keeps on thriving.

So, the American government finds itself in a difficult position, particularly after the web turned out to be a living organism having its own will and no tolerance for manipulation and censorship. In order to tackle the problem, the “six-strikes” legislation was enforced – a program intended to “educate” American citizens about copyright and its violation.

However, people are only being taught that downloading and uploading of copyrighted material online is against the law, but nothing is said about streaming. In the meantime, the number of streaming services increases every day, which becomes a huge problem. The U.S. Register of Copyrights believes that there must be a way to tackle this problem. Since law enforcement can go after the distribution of copyright content, they can also pursue them in a meaningful way as they are felonies rather than misdemeanors. Thus, streaming, no matter of what content, is a misdemeanor. If there is unauthorized streaming happening, particularly in a profit-driven kind of way, how does one get at that activity if the best that they can do is pursue them for a misdemeanor? That’s what the U.S. Register of Copyrights is asking about.

The representatives of a Swedish anti-piracy outfit which tried to banish The Pirate Bay out of Sweden also admitted that streaming is a growing problem for the industry. The creators believe that it is largely irrelevant what kind of technology is used as long as they lose sales, so legislators have to solve this problem. Despite the fact that streaming services have nothing to worry about at the moment, some of the experts warn that a storm might be coming soon.

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Well….What A Surprise!!

Posted by Boghound on April 3, 2013


EU Study Confirmed Piracy Never Hurt Music Sales

Unauthorized music downloads have very insignificant impact on online music sales. This is the conclusion of a new study carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

The resolution of the study says that the vast majority of music consumed against the law wouldn’t have been legally purchased if unauthorized downloading services didn’t exist.
The Joint Research Centre has investigated the browsing habits of 16,000 European citizens and found out that not only does Internet piracy not hurt digital music sales – it may even have a positive effect on legal music consumption, because “pirates” are purchasing more music on the Internet than others.

The researchers compared people’s visits to illegal downloading services and legal music portals by following their clickstreams. It turned out that a 10% increase in clicks on unauthorized downloading portals resulted in a 0.2% increase in clicks on legitimate sites, regardless of interest in music. In a causal interpretation, this means that clicks on legal music portals would have been 2% if unauthorized downloading sites didn’t exist. Moreover, the effect of legitimate streaming services like Spotify on visits to music purchase sites is even greater – the Joint Research Centre estimated it at 7%.

Although the study in question didn’t include any policy recommendations, the researchers still came to conclusion that the music industry should not be overly concerned about Internet piracy. In the meantime, one should take into account that this research didn’t examine the impact of unauthorized downloads on physical music sales like CDs.

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