Feb 02 2011

Commercial UK mPayment Service

Category: Business,mPayments,TelecomsTeknovis @ 19:10

Today I came across the first commercial deployment of an mPayment solution. At least I am not aware of any others! The service is being supplied by Orange, and more details can be found in Orange customers of Everything Everywhere get mobile payments.

I think that this is a very exciting area, and it is certainly something in which I am becoming increasingly interested. I think that there are huge opportunities for the telcos in this area, since they effectively already maintain electronic purses (or wallets :) for all of their customers. Most importantly, this is an area in which it is very difficult for over-the-top players to compete (although Apple‘s App Store has shown that it is possible).

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Apr 24 2010

Argleton in Google Maps

Category: Location Based ServicesTeknovis @ 09:14

Sometimes Google Maps gets it incorrect… The Mysterious Google Town of Argleton, Lancashire, England.

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Oct 13 2009

Naked Airport Scanners

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 21:42

I read today that Manchester Airport has installed full body scanners to determine if users are carrying prohibited items. These scanners are developed by Rapiscan Systems, and the idea of them is that they will provide greater security for passengers, as well as improving their travelling experiences.

For more information about these scanners read Airport scanner shows ‘naked’ images or watch the video in ‘Naked’ scanner in airport trial.

Clearly such scanners will raise security concerns. Therefore, certain measures will be taken to protest users privacy:

  • The operators will be in separate locations
  • The operators will not be able to see the passengers’ faces
  • The operators cannot use personal devices to capture images
  • The images cannot be stored by the system

These measures are admirable, but I am not sure if they are really that useful.

Personally, I would not mind somebody seeing these images of my body, especially if it improves my airport experience!

However, I wonder will these scanners be used in other locations in the future, without knowledge or consent of the people being scanned. For example, such a scanner could be used at the entrance of a nightclub. Would this be a valid privacy concern?

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Jun 11 2009

Universal International Freephone Numbers

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 16:52

I had a Kit Kat Chunky after lunch today. It was delicious! I was reading the packaging as I was munching, and the following caught my attention:

Contact us FREE

0800 604 604 (UK)

00800 6378 5385 (ROI)

The UK freephone number prefix is what I expect (0800), but the Irish (ROI) freephone number is not! I was expecting a 1800 prefix :o

After some brief investigation, I discovered that the 00800 prefix is for Universal International Freephone Numbers. It was my first time to see one of these numbers!

While I was reading about these UIFNs I also came across the European Telephony Numbering Space. I have never seen any of these numbers, but I think that they are a great idea!

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May 15 2009

Vodafone Roaming Charges

Category: Business,TelecomsTeknovis @ 07:28

I read last night that Vodafone is abolishing all roaming charges for the summer!

I think that this is brilliant, and I hope that it becomes permanent! Also, I hope that this is rolled-out across all Vodafone operations!

You can read more about this in Summer roaming promotion – mobile roaming service from Vodafone.

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Apr 09 2009

The Weakest Link in the Security Chain

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 13:15

You work in a large organisation that deals primarily with very sensitive information. You develop procedures to ensure that this sensitive information is handled correctly at all times. You invest in hardware solutions to ensure that your systems remain secure. You develop access control models that are based on biometric identification. You use the most secure protocols and algorithms to encrypt data. Indeed, you do everything that you can think of to ensure you have the strongest security possible.

Then some photographer in the right place, and at the right time, uses his digital camera and zoom lens to capture a photograph of a very sensitive document.

If you are not sure what I am referring to, then take a look at Police chief quits over blunder. It is actually a great example of why security requires an all encompassing multi-faceted approach.


Mar 25 2009

Irish Government Censorship

Category: InternetTeknovis @ 22:49

A very interesting story about Government censorship has been unfolding in Ireland over the last two days. Indeed, if not for the Internet then the story would have been successfully squashed by now!

It all started with a practical joke in which paintings of the Irish Prime Minister, who was naked, were hung in two popular art galleries in Dublin. The national broadcaster RTE provided coverage of the story.

Here is a screenshot of one of the paintings in case the video gets removed:

Painting of Brian Cowen (From RTE News)

Painting of Brian Cowen (From RTE News)

Initially this was just an example of Irish humour, but it quickly took a sinister tone. First RTE was pressurised into removing the video from its web site, and it was subsequently forced to issue the following apology:

The Government then continued to flex its muscles today by sending the police into a radio station that covered the story. The police were demanding the name of the artist. More information about this can be read in Gardaí visit radio station in Cowen painting inquiry.

The police identified the artist in one of the fastest investigations ever undertaken, and they are currently preparing a prosecution. The police also seized five other similar paintings. More details of this are described in Teacher questioned over Cowen paintings.

My opinion on all of this is that it is outrageous that the Government is putting so many resources into trying to bury this story. I am also delighted with the responses of the online community, and I hope to play my part also :o

I am also really surprised that the Governemnt, or even the Prime Minister, did not seize the opportunity to turn it into good publicity.

For more coverage of this story from the Irish blogging community take a look at the recent posts by Maman Poulet, Damien Mulley, and Caricatures Ireland. This last web site has a very good caricature in The Taoiseach has no clothes and RTE has no balls: the Brian Cowen Nude Caricature.

Brian Cowen Caricature (Copyright Caricatures Ireland)

Brian Cowen Caricature (Copyright Caricatures Ireland)

The t-shirt version of it looks great in Get your b*ll*ck-naked T*oiseach t-sh*rt.

I also think that this is yet another example of how a small story becomes a huge story when somebody tries to censor it! A perfect example of this is all of the other caricatures that are now appearing on the Internet, such as the caricatures in Photoshop Cowen extravaganza. I think that some of these are very funny, while others are not. However, I think it is vital in a democracy that they are all available to the public!

I have been following this story, and the associated outrage, all day on Twitter. I must admit that I really liked the real-time nature of this, although it was a distraction :o

It is also very interesting to see how the global media is covering this story. The story is covered in the UK in Naked taoiseach paintings removed, Cowen artist ‘could be charged’, and Guerrilla artist hangs nude paintings of taoiseach Brian Cowen. France is reading about the story in A poil, par Robert Solé, and the US is reading about it in Ireland: Nude Premier Paintings Appear. Perhaps the most ironic, or even worrying, coverage is by the Chinese in Naked Irish PM portraits removed. I am sure that it is also being covered by many other news agencies of which I am not aware!

The story has also made it into Wikipedia, where it is known as Picturegate. Perhaps the Irish Government will try to remove this next!

I wonder how this story will continue in the following days!

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Jan 08 2009

Windows 2000 Alive and Well

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 09:22

I previously wrote about the demise of Windows 3.11 in Goodbye Windows 3.11!. I have not used in it many years, so this news did not concern me.

However, I still regularly use Windows 2000 because it does everything that I need. It also gives much better performance on older computers than its successor Windows XP.

I have been thinking recently about how popular Windows 2000 remains. I started thinking about this after reading an article describing how the UK’s Royal Navy has started using a mix of Windows 2000 and Windows XP on its nuclear powered submarines. This is instead of the traditional custom designed software. The full article is Royal Navy completes Windows for Submarines™ rollout.

During the Christmas holidays I was in several airports, and I was in many department stores. I was really surprised to see that many of the computers in these locations (boarding gates and customer information desks) were using Windows 2000. It is easy to spot this when the computers are not being used, because both the login screen and the default screensaver of Windows 2000 are distinctive.

It must be the case that the benefits of using the newer operating systems do not yet justify the massive additional costs of upgrading so many computers.

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Jan 03 2009

Asos has Strong Christmas Sales

Category: eShoppingTeknovis @ 10:32

I read a very positive article about Asos in an Irish womens’ lifestyle magazeen during the week. The article was brought to my attention by a female family member :o

As I described in Online Christmas Shopping 2008, I bought from Asos for my first time this year. So did my female family members. We were all extremely pleased with the experience, the prices, and the purchases.

The article also states that Asos is beating the current economic downturn. In particular, it experienced a 107% rise in sales, and a 68% rise in profit. I am sure that the week pound must also be helping!

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Dec 17 2008

Virgin Broadband

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 22:34

I read an interesting article earlier in the week describing how Virgin Media has launched its new broadband service. This service will be available throughout the UK in the next six months, and it providers users with a maximum download speed of 50Mbps. This will make Virgin Media the fastest ISP in the UK.

More details about this can be read in Virgin unveils next-gen broadband.

The same article describes how BT is beginning a fibre to the cabinet trial that will provide users with speeds up to 40Mbps.

This is very interesting, because in the middle of 2007 I attended an event hosted by T-Com in Berlin. One of the topics at this event was broadband, and T-Com told us that it would have fibre to the cabinet deployed in the 50 largest cities in Germany in 2008. This would be capable of supplying 17 million homes. At that time T-Com had already installed fibre to the cabinet in the 26 largest cities in Germany, and we were shown some of the new cabinets on the streets in Berlin. It was then easy to spot these new cabinets ourselves, because they are slightly larger than the standard cabinets, and if you listen carefully you can hear the cooling equipment running inside them! T-Com were offering a triple play service of phone, television, and Internet to customers using this infrastructure. There were some BT representatives at the meeting also, and I recall them being impressed :o

Independently, it appears that Virgin Media will start traffic shaping P2P traffic next year according to Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users. I wonder if the Net Neutrality war is being lost in Europe :|

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