I Hate Hate – the Google Images Results Part 1

13/07/2018

Part One of an occasional series of hateful images.

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Darknet Part 3: How people got caught

10/07/2018

Part 3 of an occasional series of videos about the Darkweb, hidden services, anonymity… all the good stuff that we need, and need to know about!

Excellent Defcon presentation by Adrian Crenshaw detailing how some Tor users got caught.  TL;DR: it’s all down to faulty OpSec.  Be careful all the time, use your common sense, and all well be well.  So long as there aren’t 0days in Tor Browser that the Man knows about and the devs don’t…

But this isn’t too long to watch.  So watch it!  Even if you don’t use the darknet it is hugely informative and entertaining.  And if you do use Tor or otherwise have an interest in anonymity (which means you!), it is doubly informative and entertaining… in fact it is essential for everyone to watch.  So watch it!

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There’s a special browser that leads to a secret web…

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Thai football team rescued from caves… but what were they doing there in the first place?

10/07/2018
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Saman Gunan, ex-Thai Navy SEAL who died during Tham Luang cave rescue mission

The 12 boys in the football team and their coach have all been rescued from the Tham Luang cave they were trapped in for 2 weeks. So now might be a good time to ask: why were they there in the first place?

According to Ben Reymenants, one of the rescue team, the football team were in the caves as part of an initiation ritual.

The boys left their backpacks and shoes “before wading in and trying to go to the end of the tunnel, sort of like an initiation for local young boys to… write your name on the wall and make it back”, said Reymenants. But then a flash flood locked them in.

Reymenants said that the boys were weak owing to lack of food, but stable and mentally fit. This might have been thanks to Buddhist meditation techniques.

Ekapol Chanthawong, coach of the football team, trained to be a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a football coach. And he taught the boys how to meditate, which helped keep them calm and preserve their energy for the two weeks they were trapped in the cave.

He went to live in a monastery after being orphaned age 12. he trained to be a monk for 10 years at a monastery in Mae Sai, Thailand, but left to care for a sick grandmother. He then was hired to be the assistant coach of the team, known as the Wild Boars.

“He could meditate up to an hour,” Ekapol’s aunt, Tham Chanthawong, told Associated Press. “It has definitely helped him and probably helps the boys to stay calm.”

In a cartoon that’s been circulating in Thailand, an artist shows Ekapol with a lap full of tiny boars, peacefully meditating. The team is known as the Moo Pa, or Wild Boars.

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Image that’s been doing the rounds on social media, showing team coach Ekapol Chanthawong meditating, while hugging 12 little boars – the football team is called “The Wild Boars”.  mai_jacknight

Chanthawong might need to keep meditating to keep himself calm in the days to come. Ekapol apologized to their parents in a letter delivered by the Royal Thai Navy on Saturday. “To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize,” Ekapol wrote.

But it will probably take more than a letter of apology to make this right. After all, a former Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan died while taking part in the rescue mission.  And the mission has been a huge endeavour which has involved pumping water out of the 6 miles long cave, among other monumental achievements, and a global marshalling of expertise and resources, including the .two specialist cave divers from the UK who actually located the Wild Boars sheltering on a ledge 2 km from the main entrance and 1 km under the ground.

It’s far too early to start apportioning blame – let everyone have a chance to bask in the achievement first.  But at some point people will begin talking about “blame”.  And when they do, Ekapol Chanthawong is going to be a handy scapegoat.

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Wild Boars football team before their fateful descent into the Tham Luang caves

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Free calls, free texts, free everything

07/07/2018

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I wrote about Globfone recently, but here it is again.  This time I’m writing a dedicated review, as it’s a blinding service and deserves all the publicity it can get!

Globfone.com offers free calls, free SMS, free p2p video calls and free p2p file sharing.  The service is all free, is planned to remain free, no registration or subscription required, the service is sustained completely by ads and sponsors.

On their site they describe their “Free Online Phone Project”:

The idea behind Globfone is to deliver telecommunication services like SMS and international calls for free to users across the globe. At Globfone, we firmly believe that there is ‘Love in Sharing’, therefore we are currently seeking to increase our coverage to more than 90% of major International GSM networks that we currently cover. Globfone WEB is a completely FREE to use internet service that allows you to make free phone calls, send free text messages, make free video calls and a free P2P file sharing service to all your friends and family around the world. This service works without For FREE! And you don’t have to install any special software or go through long registration process – Globfone is completely SAFE and EASY to use.

Their worldwide coverage includes 91% of mobile networks for SMS and 96% for calls.

Most of my experience with Globfone is the SMS service.  It is possible to send messages from just about anywhere in the world, to just about anywhere in the world.  And Globfone claims that it is possible to send texts to the same number repeatedly in close succession so as to have conversations via SMS.  This is something that most services don’t allow, reportedly to prevent spam.  But with Globfone, you can.  Imagine that you have a mobile phone but no credit or messages left from your allowance.  You can text message your friend, she can reply by texting your phone, and then you can reply immediately via Globfone, so carry on a text conversation.   Afreesms.com doesn’t allow this, nor does any other service I have come across in my years of checking out these kinds of sites.  This is something that Globfone is rightly proud of.

As well  as laptops and desktop computers, you can also send SMS from most smartphones.  And there is an app – Globfone SMS Messenger – for Android and iOS.

The free calls is a VoIP service that requires no registration, something you rarely find.  This service, as well as the SMS, there is an upper limit to the number of free calls and SMSes available to a single IP address during a 24 hour period.  When that limit is reached, the user is alerted and asked to wait 24 hours before using the service again.  And there is also a call-specific time limit: when you make a call, you are shown a countdown representing how much time you have left on that call.  The call-specific time limit is a pain in the ass – it seems you can’t make calls longer than a minute – but remember this service is free and you’re not likely to find better.

A good use of the free call service is to find your phone – if you’ve mislaid it somewhere in your home you can use Globfone to call it, the ringtone then helps you locate your handset.  Handy, and unaffected by the call time limit as you don’t need to answer the phone.

The webphone service is truly cross-platform as all you need is a modern browser  – it uses multiple different SIP/media engines including a Java VoIP engine – runs in all java enabled browsers; WebRTC – runs in all modern browsers; and Flash VoIP – for compatibility with some old browsers.  You also need to enable speakers and microphone, and optionally headphones.  And that’s it: as long as your computer has that, you can use the webphone service.  If you have problems, visit this webpage.

You can make free calls from most modern smartphones, but may experience difficulties using older mobile platforms, like Symbian OS.   If your mobile browser doesn’t support Java, Globfone’s FAQ advises using its mobile beta app – but I couldn’t find a link to that app.

I haven’t used the p2p services – file-sharing and video calls.  These services are peer-to-peer, meaning a direct connection is made between 2 computers, rather than using phone networks.  If any readers have experience of these Globfone services, please tell us about it in Comments.

The services are financed by ads and sponsorship.  In the FAQs, if you want to donate to Globfone or support it in any way, it suggests you “like” Globfone in social media, or place a link to the site in your blog.  So that’s what I’m doing here.  And look: here’s the link to Globfone!

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Crazy copyright law voted down… for now…

06/07/2018

Thank goodness, MEPs voted against the Copyright Directive!  The insane ideas, to create a “click tax” and to create automated censors to filter uploaded content, have been beaten.

For now.

Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party, tweeted: “Great success:  Your protests have worked! The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board.”

But that makes it sound far too permanent.  The truth is, this subject is going to be revisited sooner rather than later – thee full European parliament will debate amendments to the copyright directive in September, which is just 2 months away!  And while 318 MEPs voted against the Directive, 278 voted in favour and 31 abstained.  That is not a huge majority.  And it could all be turned around if the press insist on reporting this as a big money-saver for the big internet companies as the Guardian has.”Youtube and Facebook escape billions in copyright payouts after EU vote,” their headline says,

Google, YouTube and Facebook could escape having to make billions in payouts to press publishers, record labels and artists after EU lawmakers voted to reject proposed changes to copyright rules that aimed to make the tech companies share more of their revenues.

The paper did report the other side, how high-profile figures like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, world wide web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, net-neurality expert Tim Wu, and internet pioneer Vint Cerf claim it would transform the internet from a platform for sharing and innovation into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.

Put simply: we’ve won this battle, but the bureaucrats who were pushing the copyright directive have a habit of revisiting subjects time and again until they get the result they want.  And they want the copyright directive.  We have to remain alert or they may still destroy our internet!

 


Welfare Minister Esther McVey is a liar shock horror!

04/07/2018
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Esther McVey, Welfare Secretary – she needs to be careful or she might end up seeing how Universal Credit works from a claimant’s point of view!

Well what a surprise: a politician has told lies!

Sorry, all you honest politicians out there!  I really shouldn’t imply that all politicians are liars.  Of course that isn’t the case.  I know there must be politicians out there who have never told a lie, ever.  If you are one of these politicians, please leave me a message – in Comments below or the contact form here.

Anyway, Esther McVey appears to be a liar liar pants on fire.  And it isn’t some lone kook making the allegation – it is the National Audit Office (NAO): “an independent Parliamentary body in the United Kingdom which is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies” (from Wikipedia).  Would a Parliamentary body with such an important remit knowingly make accusations like this if those accusations were untrue?  Would a government minister tell lies to cover her own ass and that of a bumbling Tory government?  Hmmm…

Sir Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, wrote to McVey on the “misleading statements” (aka lies – why are civil servants and politicians so civil and polite when they are trying to kill each other?) because he had not been able to make an appointment to meet her face to face.  And this frustration has led to him making public the content of his letter – the first time that Morse has released personal correspondence with a minister, and is a reflection of the tension between the DWP and the NAO over McVey’s statements.

Okay, so what has McVey been lying about?  In June the NAO released a report about Universal Credit, the Conservative government’s flagship welfare “innovation”, which squeezes 6 other benefits into one, and is supposed to make it easier for unemployed people to get back into work.  It is paid monthly (while other benefits are normally paid fortnightly), and all claims and enquiries are handled online.

McVey claimed that the NAO report said Universal Credit is being rolled out too slowly, that it was working successfully in those areas where UC has been introduced, and that any criticism of UC was because the report had failed to take into account recent improvements in the payment of benefits.

Sir Amyas Morse said McVey has “misinterpreted” the report “to make it look as if the new welfare system is working well.”

Does the report say that Universal Credit is being rolled out too slowly?  Sir Amyas says No!!  In fact the report recommended that the DWP should ensure it was working properly before transferring any more people from previous benefits.

Did the report say that Universal Credit is working?  Sir Amyas says No!!  In fact the report says Universal Credit has not been proven to work.

Did the report fail to take into account recent improvements in welfare administration and payment timeliness?  Sir Amyas says No!!  He wrote to McVey:

Our report was fully agreed with senior officials in your department [on 8 June]. It is based on the most accurate and up to date information from your department … it is odd that by Friday 15 June you feel able to say that the NAO “did not take into account the impact of our recent changes.”

Although Morse didn’t say “You’re a liar,” that is clearly what was meant.  So, will McVey survive this assault on her credibility?  Of course she will.  For those who refuse to vote Conservative, McVey and her colleagues lost their credibility a long time ago, if they actually had any credibility to start with.  For those who are willing to vote for those awful people, McVey automatically is seen as the victim.

McVey apologised for her “misinterpretation” of the NAO report just hours after the release of Morse’s letter.

“The NAO report did not say that [it wanted Universal Credit to be rolled out more quickly] and I want to apologise to the House for inadvertently misleading you. What I wanted to say was that the NAO said there was no practical alternative,” she said.

She also told MPs she was “working on setting up a meeting with the NAO” about other matters, but that she stood by her claims that the auditors’ report did not take into account recent changes to universal credit. “The impact of these changes are still being felt and therefore, by definition, couldn’t have been fully taken into account by the NAO report,” she said.

So really her apology is meaningless as it makes no real difference.  Fundamentally she stands by her previous statements.

She is expected to face further parliamentary scrutiny over the debacle after Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, asked the Speaker, John Bercow, for an urgent question as early as Thursday.  Field said to the Guardian: “The secretary of state needs to be questioned about the three mega-Trumpisms which the NAO says are untrue.”

Of course he wants her to go, as does every other opposition MP and some Tory colleagues.  But will that mean anything?   I suppose it comes down to this: does prime minister Theresa May need a blood sacrifice?  If she does, McVey is finished.  If not, this story will be forgotten soon enough.  At the end of the day, no one in power cares about benefit claimants.  The welfare minister least of all.

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National Audit Office chief Sir Amyas Morse has called Esther McVey on her “misinterpretation” of the NAO report on Universal Credit

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2 days to save the internet!!

03/07/2018

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On 5 July, the European Parliament is voting on a copyright directive that, if passed, threatens the existence of the internet as we know it.  This isn’t hyperbole:

  • It will force online platforms to vet uploaded content for copyright violations.  Sites such as Youtube are able to automate this work, which results in a lot of false positives.  Smaller platforms might have to sort uploads by hand, which would be impossible for most sites
  • Artists and others who remix content, share it or create parodies of others’ material will be criminalised by this directive
  • Mining of text and data-sets will be legal only for scientific research institutions; other people, such as journalists, librarians and independent scientists will no longer be allowed to data-mine, regardless of their legitimate interest

These are only a few of the harmful effects of the copyright directive.  We all need to protest this bill as it threatens the open internet, not only in Europe but world-wide.  Changecopyright.org are helping us oppose the directive, by giving us all free telephone calls, to call the European Parliament and tell them to vote against Article 13.  They even provide callers with a script, if you don’t know what to say.  Go to changecopyright.org for information.  And don’t delay: the European Parliament votes on this on 5 July!!

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