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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015, 8:24 am

Moving the Whole Neighbourhood Away From BT and BT Openreach Lines (Updated)

IT HAS been nearly four months since a serious REIN issue developed here in this neighbourhood. It took me over 20 hours on the phone before BT sent out an engineer (I wasn’t the only one complaining) and perhaps 40 hours on the phone (set aside other forms of correspondence, many visits from engineers, and the suffering from a poor connection for many months in a row) to send out the Precision Test Officer. Much of it was gradually chronicled in the following posts:

Dumping BT isn’t quite a solution because it’s the BT Openreach line that has an issue with it. It doesn’t matter if one moves to a different ISP, the cables stay the same. My neighbours who experience similar issues and complain about it are not even with BT as their ISP. So we need alternative cables, e.g. Virgin. A couple of days ago I responded to BT (see the latest in the third link above).

Virgin is now polling/asking (by post) the whole area if there’s enough demand for fiber-optic connection. I think that they already have some infrastructure in place, based on what the precision testing officer told me. BT Openreach wiring here cannot be trusted anymore, and there is no imminent remedy, not even hope of a fix.

If I get my way, we might be able to get new wiring from BT’s competition here. That will help resolve the issue for good, I hope, helping a lot of people…

And later on the connection got so bad that I escalated this to the highest BT managers with the following strongly-worded message:

We have just been disconnected SEVEN times in a 30-minute period. This is not acceptable and I cannot accept closure of this issue. If need be, I shall work to have alternative cables introduced in our neighbourhood and lobby all my neighbour (using letters) to dump BT for good, showing them how poorly the company has dealt with this issue that I first reported nearly 4 months ago. I have detailed documentation of this case, so facts are on my site. It took more than 3 months to merely send a precision testing officer out!

Yesterday I spent half an hour with BT on the phone. We’re still trying get get alternative wiring/cabling (alternative to BT Openreach), whereupon we can finally leave.

Judging by some reactions that I received online, other people in England and even in Scotland had similar experiences with BT and only by dumping BT’s cables have these problems been ‘resolved’. This BT monopoly on the cables (BT Openreach) needs to end.

Update: BT Retail sent the following message.

Hi Mr Schestowitz,

I’d like to thank for your emails and time you have spent with me on the phone it was very much appreciated and I’d like to thank you for your patience with the issues you’ve faced.

The Future
I’ve closed your complaint as we discussed on the phone. If you have any other problems, please get in touch on [redacted] or [redacted] using PIN 1089. Or you can email my team at [redacted]

For anything else our Customer Services will be happy to help on 0800 800 150. Or why not take a look at our website Alternatively for any issues with your BT services the Technical Helpdesk are available on 0800 111 4567 should you need them.

What we’ve done…
You reported you were facing issues with your Broadband in that it was intermittent, dropping connection multiple times per day. After multiple tests and engineers have been out heavy REIN interference was suspected. A REIN trained engineer and both a Precision Test Engineer have both surveyed the area but were unable to locate a source for the interference.

Currently legislation exists in the form of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations (Statutory Instrument 2006 No.3418). It ensures that when new equipment is placed on the market in the UK it mustn’t cause interference to radio services and telecommunications networks. Conformance being indicated by the affixation of the CE mark.

Unfortunately in most REIN cases the source of the noise is not a device that is causing problems from new, but has degraded during its life such that it generates excessive noise in the order of 50dB (100,000 times) higher than when it was new, and met the EMC regulations and was CE marked. This excessive noise is usually due to components failing within the power supply, but unfortunately the equipment still appears to operate normally to the owner.

We’ve talked about such issues with BIS and Ofcom in the past and they all agree that there’s currently no legislation that we can use to stop this interference being caused. The EMC regulations are a market entry requirement to allow free movement of goods around Europe and hence only apply when equipment is first sold and so has no application to in-life issues that subsequently occur.

In most cases when such issues are bought to the attention of the owner of the faulty equipment they are co-operative and will take action to repair or replace the equipment causing the problems. However in a limited number of cases (like this one) that co-operation is not forthcoming and then there is currently nothing that BT or anyone can do. It is for these cases that new legislation is required. Ideally any new legislation should allow an enforcement authority to issue a suspension notice (something along the lines of Article 43 of SI2006: 3418) to the owner of the equipment that is causing the interference.

I hope this helps you understand our position better, and why this has been a lengthy process. As the engineers have confirmed that they are unable to locate the sources of the REIN in the area they’ve had no choice other than to close off their investigation and with this there are no further actions we can take.

I’d like to thank you for both your time on the phone and the understanding of the situation.


Due to the issues you were facing and as we discussed I would like to credit you half of the Broadband cost for the 4 month you have been facing these problems. You will see a single credit on your next bill of £44.25. This is in full and final settlement of your complaint as we agreed.

Many Thanks

Executive Level Technical Complaints
BT Retail

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015, 8:54 am

Amazon Says I Need to Sue in Order to Merely Find Out Who Uses Their Own Facilities (AWS) to Attack My Site (Update)

AWS logo

OVER the past few days I spent a lot of time (never mind emotional impact) pressuring Amazon, having already spent a lot of time battling DDOS attacks which rendered my biggest site inaccessible. After much stonewalling (I had to repeat my request about 5 times only to receive useless replies or no replies at all) I got a message. It took a very long time and much strongly-worded nagging and I finally got a reply (after a day and a half of silence) saying that Amazon cannot “release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law” (i.e. start legal action).

So in layman’s terms, my site got attacked by Amazon servers which were rented out to an Amazon customer and when when I ask Amazon who is doing this (so that I can take action) they say they cannot tell me and that I must go to expensive lawyers to do so, wasting both time and money in a courtroom.

I have secured evidence of the attacks by now. Tomorrow I may visit some local attorneys, provided any of them might even know what DDOS means (British police certainly didn’t understand what I was talking about when I took my complaints to them).

Here is Amazon’s reply in full:

Hello Roy,

I apologize that you are not satisfied with the communication that you have been receiving. I’d also like to apologize that you were not told that our privacy policy does not permit us to release any customer information upon request. You will need to provide a valid subpoena issued by a court of law. I am sure that you understand that there are laws we need to follow and I would also like to thank you for reporting this as we take security very seriously.

Please forward the subpoena documentation to:, Inc.
Corporation Service Company
300 Deschutes Way SW, Suite 304
Tumwater, WA 98501
Attn: Legal Department – Subpoena

The request should include the IP address(es) as well as an exact, accurate timestamp, including the timezone, associated with each address.

I apologize for any inconvenience caused by privacy laws. I can assure you that the matter is being dealt with by our specialized abuse team.

I hope that this is helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Best regards,


In short: Waste of money and time in order to find out who’s engaging in abuse, which is very much ridiculous. Amazon is just covering its own behind in case of lawsuits from the client over revelation of identity. Since the abusive servers are Amazon’s I suppose I can just start legal action against Amazon itself, both for DDOS and for refusal to respond to my questions regarding accountability.

My response to Amazon was as follows:

Unless Amazon is willing to settle, I am going to sue Amazon, not waste time and money sending a subpoena. The attacks on my site came, on numerous occasions, from servers owned and operated by Amazon.

Amazon, moreover, repeatedly stonewalled my requests to find out who is accountable, both inside Amazon and in its client/s, whom it is unwilling to unmask despite acknowledgement of abuse (AWS staff already confirmed this in writing).

Please provide me with the address to serve legal papers to, as I am going to sue Amazon for damages, misconducts, and waste of my time.

In the mean time, I shall continue to publicly shame Amazon for this abusive behaviour, in various social media sites and my own e.g.

Just because you rent out computing resources does not exempt you from accountability for how these are used.

Updated (29/7/2015): Amazon AWS has just replied to me. Almost ONE MONTH late. I think I know now who knocked the site offline. Bad publicly (online) probably caused this belated reaction from Amazon. To quote AWS:

Dear abuse reporter,

We sincerely apologize for the delay in addressing this abuse case. Our customer has confirmed that the party responsible for this traffic has modified their crawler appropriately. If you’d like to prevent them from crawling your site in future, you can add the following directive to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: revivebot
Disallow: /

If this problem recurs, please open a new abuse report with timestamped logs showing the unwanted traffic. We will make every effort to work with you and our customer to reach a solution.

Thank you for your patience and attention to this matter.

AWS Abuse team

Monday, June 29th, 2015, 12:50 am

HP Chromebook 14 Keyboard and Other Low-Quality HP Equipment

WHO thought that a hardware company like HP cannot make a well-working low-budget laptop? Despite positive reviews, only 6 months after buying HP Chromebook 14 an entire section of keys stopped working or works intermittently (intermediately causing huge nuisance!), making it almost impossible to type sentences. This is the hallmark of bad connections/wiring — the hallmark of cheaply-made keyboards with lousy components (my Palm PDA keyboard only had this kind of issue more than a decade after I had started using it). HP’s hardware quality control surely is lacking, or maybe HP puts its brand on poorly made hardware put together by low-paid labour with cheap/shoddy components (which would cost a lot in the long term, if a buyer falls into it).

According to numerous responses in this first thread I found (didn’t search for any particular brand, but HP Chromebook 14 gets mentioned a lot), quite a lot of people experience the exact same hardware fault (same keys too) in months-old HP Chromebook 14. Rubbish quality seems to be the culprit. This sure sounds like a manufacturing issue that is systemic. Nothing gets spilled and the keyboards are treated gently. It’s just poor quality build and maybe — however sadly — this is where HP is heading. That’s s shame because a lot of computer equipment in our house is HP-branded (keyboards, mice, printer, tablet, laptops). We bought “HP” we because we though it would assure reliability. Only 2 weeks ago my HP laptop charger just popped and burned (smoke, no fire), necessitating an expensive replacement because HP has some kind of proprietary (hard to find) connector.

I have lost trust and am losing respect for HP.

Sunday, June 28th, 2015, 9:01 am

Amazon AWS Used for DDOS Attacks Against My Web Sites, Amazon Takes 14 Hours to Reply But Not Take Action (Updatedx5)

AWS logo

Over the past year my biggest sites have come under various DDOS attacks. It is hard to guess who to attribute these to, but the matter of fact is, someone does not want these sites to be accessible. It is possible that different factions are independently behind these attacks, but since British police won’t lift a finger to help prevent this or even investigate this, I am left having to defend myself.

Blocking offending machines is sometimes possible, but it is very hard to block based on affiliation (or assignment) of an IP address, especially if the IP is assigned to some very large entity. Since Amazon controls so many IP blocks (even the A block of an IP address changes a great deal, not just the B block), it is very hard to block AWS servers that engage in DDOS attacks based on IP patterns, geography, etc. It makes AWS enormously dangerous and potentially destructive. It can easily take down online stores, causing huge financial damage and upsetting regular customers.

Several months ago it was alleged (albeit later denied by Amazon) that Sony had acquired access to AWS servers for the purpose of engaging in DDOS attacks, trying desperately to stop the distribution or leaks of its internal E-mails (now in Wikileaks, which Amazon banned after political pressure). AWS has a massive (over half a billion dollars) deal with the CIA and last week AWS also opened up to the NSA, which needs additional computational resources to spy on people and crack encryption. There’s no room for trust and AWS clearly disregards ethics, as a matter of policy.

There is a type of attack that has gone on several times now, meaning that it’s not some random incident and that it’s not going to stop unless serious action is taken, if not against the offender, then against the facilitator (host). This is why I decided to take it up with Amazon. I filled out the following form, having already lost many hours fighting DDOS (visitors were not able to access the site).


Here is a confirmation that they have received my report (around 7PM last night).

AWS report

These are essentially DDOS attacks on Techrights, there is not much ambiguity there. Very large IP pools (not zombies PCs but AWS, unless Amazon’s servers too became zombies) are behind it, so I reported to Amazon that their systems are DDOSing my sites. They don’t even have “DDOS” as option. “Excessive web crawling” is the closest description to the activity, the others being completely irrelevant. Perhaps Amazon just views itself as incapable of doing such malicious things. How arrogant.

This is clearly a DDOS attack. This happened also less than one week ago (same attacker, same tools), for over an hour. It’s happening again this weekend.

Pattern of the attack: about 100 simultaneous requests (at the very same second) to many CPU-heavy pages, repeating in a cycle, taking down the httpd service, then waiting for the next round. Example request (time in US Western):

[27/Jun/2015:11:05:20 -0700] “GET /2015/01/ HTTP/1.1″ 200 331187 “-” “Typhoeus –”

Typhoeus is always the Swiss army knife.

From Varnish we get the original IP addresses, e.g.:

  643 SessionOpen  c 46051
  643 ReqStart     c 46051 1557192107
  643 RxRequest    c HEAD
  643 RxURL        c /category/osdl/
  643 RxProtocol   c HTTP/1.1
  643 RxHeader     c Host:
  643 RxHeader     c Accept: */*
  643 RxHeader     c User-Agent: Typhoeus -
  643 VCL_call     c recv lookup
  643 VCL_call     c hash
  643 Hash         c /category/osdl/
  643 Hash         c
  643 VCL_return   c hash
  643 VCL_call     c miss fetch
  643 FetchError   c no backend connection
  643 VCL_call     c error deliver
  643 VCL_call     c deliver deliver
  643 TxProtocol   c HTTP/1.1
  643 TxStatus     c 503
  643 TxResponse   c Service Unavailable
  643 TxHeader     c Server: Varnish
  643 TxHeader     c Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
  643 TxHeader     c Retry-After: 5
  643 TxHeader     c Content-Length: 419
  643 TxHeader     c Accept-Ranges: bytes
  643 TxHeader     c Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2015 17:56:01 GMT
  643 TxHeader     c X-Varnish: 1557192107
  643 TxHeader     c Age: 1
  643 TxHeader     c Via: 1.1 varnish
  643 TxHeader     c Connection: close
  643 Length       c 419
  643 ReqEnd       c 1557192107 1435427760.530639887 1435427761.228856087 0.219283819 0.698100090 0.000116110
  643 SessionClose c error
  643 StatSess     c 46051 1 1 1 0 0 0 257 419

This is clearly abuse as it amounts to about 100 requests per second lasting for a long period of time.

I told Amazon: “Deal with it as soon as possible and keep me informed or I will take action against Amazon for harbouring DDOS attacks.”

The attacker’s IPs vary too much to block, but they are all AWS ( and many others).

Amazon has not even responded to acknowledge that they’ve received my abuse report. It had been about 14 hours and I was still waiting. There was nothing to even say they’re looking into it. They are clearly not taking disciplinary measure and security measures, perhaps not employing staff in the weekend to deal with abuses by their network, only to their own network (when it’s them who are the victim).

Amazon is a malicious, irresponsible company.

14 hours after my report they finally got back to me and even then their response was weak and useless. Here is what they wrote:


Thank you for contacting Amazon Web Services. We take reports of unauthorized network activity from our environment very seriously. It is specifically forbidden in our terms of use.

Because Amazon EC2 Public IP addresses may change ownership frequently, without additional information we will be unable to identify the correct owner of the IP address for the period of time in question.

So that we can process your report and identify the actual customer in question, we require the following additional information. Please note that we will not open attachments under any circumstance.

* Destination Port and Protocol
* Intensity and frequency of activity in short log extracts, no larger than 4KB

For a faster response, please file your report using the AWS Abuse form at the link below:

We appreciate your help in providing the necessary information requested.

Best regards,
Amazon EC2 Abuse Team

I am going to follow this up with updates.

Based on the time of Amazon’s response, around 9AM UK time, Amazon is just trying to save money and thus increase its profit (while famously evading tax in the UK) by strictly working from 9 to 5. Abuses like these require a dedicated 24/7 team.

Update: I had to spend more time reporting this to Amazon again, this time with stronger language:

You must take action immediately and tell me who is behind these attacks (your IP addresses). I am utterly disappointed with you taking 14 hours just to respond (and not take action against the attackers). I wrote about this with more details in

You have asked me for:

* Destination Port and Protocol
* Intensity and frequency of activity in short log extracts, no larger than 4KB

I already gave you those! But you are ignoring my report or failing to investigate, so I am adding yet more evidence from the Apache back end.

Please respond immediately and tell me who the perpetrator is so that I can take action. Failing to do so, I shall take action directly against Amazon.

Here is a screenshot of the form (they refuse to correspond by E-mail, so I have to refill their tedious forms each time).

DDOS repeated

Update #2: Almost 24 hours later and there is no breakthrough, just more waste of time. Here is what they wrote again, merely repeating themselves:

Hi Roy,

I apologize for the inconvenience caused from this attempt on your website.

I do understand the frustration and I am sorry that this has happened. I have checked with our Abuse team once again and they would indeed need additional information to continue their investigation. This was mentioned in their reply on the Abuse case that currently exist in the system.

The Abuse team will continue to investigate and take action against this, but they would need the additional information:
* Destination Port and Protocol
* Intensity and frequency of activity in short log extracts, no larger than 4KB

Once you have that information, please provide it by responding to their e-mail: and including your case number:

Best regards,
Thank you.

Here is my response:


I don’t understand why it is “Message From Customer Service” because I am not an Amazon customer, I am a victim of Amazon customers. I need to speak to technical people and the issue must be rectified as soon as possible. I need the names of people at Amazon who are dealing with the case and the Amazon customer who is the culprit in case I file a lawsuit. As for the additional requirements, which you sent to me twice despite me providing them already twice when I filled out an abuse report, what else do you need?

You say:

* Destination Port and Protocol
* Intensity and frequency of activity in short log extracts, no larger than 4KB

I provided these twice and even additional logs the second time (about 4KB). I need you to carry out an investigation as this is your job, not mine, and I don’t have the tools to figure out which of your customer uses your facilities to do this. Amazon is facilitating DDOS attacks and I demand to know who is dealing with my case and for further action to be taken immediately. You also have my phone number (since the time of the incidents) and you should have phoned me last night, not replied by E-mail 14 hours later.

Update #3: Amazon finally found the source of DDOS (its own servers abusing others) — 24 hours after I reported it! Very slow a reaction time.

Here is what I got at 3:36PM:

Dear Abuse Reporter,

Thank you for submitting your abuse report.

We’ve determined that an Amazon EC2 instance was running at the IP address you provided in your abuse report. We’ll investigate the complaint to determine what additional actions, if any, need to be taken in this case.

If you wish to provide additional information to EC2 or our customer regarding this case, please reply to with the original subject line.

Thanks again for alerting us to this issue.

Case number: 55464910873

Your original report:

* Source IPs:
* Abuse Time: 2015-06-27 18:05:00.0

My response is still strong in tone, having suffered enough already:


Please provide me with information about who the client is and the nature of the account that did this. It is imperative that I know this because DDOS attacks on my sites have been a major issue for quite some time and we have only speculations about who or what may be behind it. Hundreds of hours have been lost due to DDOS attacks this year alone. There was also damage to databases and hence partial data loss.

Additionally, please provide me with names of people in Amazon who dealt with this case. 24 hours response time to a DDOS report is totally accessible, especially for a multinational company like Amazon that operates massive datacentres with capacity to paralyse the world’s biggest operations. I shall be documenting this case in my blog and will pursue this as far as necessary.


Update #4 (29/6/2015): Amazon has still not replied to my message. Instead I got some sort of public relations from them (this morning):

Hello Roy,

I do apologize for your emails being inappropriately addressed.

I do see that our dedicated technical abuse team has contacted you advising that the abuse case is being investigated and should you wish to provide or require any further information, that team would be the best to contact.

Please contact them at

I hope that this is helpful.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Best regards,


I responded as follows:


I am actually waiting for response from them. I have been waiting for over half a day now. Can you please rush them. I need to know who is behind the attacks (which Amazon customer) and who in Amazon deals with this case.

I also followed up with the other team:

I have been waiting for a response for nearly a day now and it seems like stonewalling. If you do not reply by the end of that day, I may pursue legal action against Amazon, whose facilities are being used against my site while Amazon remains unhelpful and unresponsive.

It turns out, in the mean time, that the EPO uses AWS and some suggest that I report the latest DDOS attacks to the FBI (where the server IPs are based).

Update #5 (30/6/2015): Still no real progress. It has been a long time since the second attack and Amazon gives plenty of reasons to take legal action.

I apologize for the late reply on this. If you could please respond with your abuse case number, I would be happy to reach out to the team on your behalf to expedite the process!

Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. Thanks!

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Best regards,


This was a useless respond, so I gave the reference number:

EC2 Abuse Report [55464910873]

I expect a reply by the end of the day.

Hello Roy,

I hope this email finds you well.

In the event that you have not provided your abuse case number for us to follow up for you on, please kindly reply directly to I can see that you have been corresponding to

Please include the abuse report number you wish to address in the subject line of your email.

I hope this helps.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Best regards,


So Amazon failed to send the detailed requested by the end of yesterday, just wasting more time with a useless reply again. I sent the following more strongly-worded reply:


I have received not one but two absolutely useless (lacking substance of any kind) replies from you. You wasted more time instead or responding to my message which said:

I have been waiting for a response for nearly a day now and it seems
like stonewalling. If you do not reply by the end of that day, I may
pursue legal action against Amazon, whose facilities are being used
against my site while Amazon remains unhelpful and unresponsive.

If you do not respond in the next few hours with names of people at Amazon who deal with this case (EC2 Abuse Report [55464910873]) and the identity of the offending account that has been attacking my site on numerous occasions, I will prepare a lawsuit against you, Amazon, first for launching DDOS attacks from your servers and second for not obeying my request to know who is attacking my site. I may, additionally, contact the FBI to investigate, as the IP addresses in question are based in the US and DDOS attacks are a federal crime. I give you 2 hours from now to respond to my original request.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015, 3:04 pm

BT Update: Precision Test Officer to be Sent Out After 3 Months (Updatedx9)

WE HAVE not always been ‘at war’ with BT, but every couple of years there is a very major incident, always resulting in BT acknowledging guilt and paying out compensation far lower than the damages caused and the time lost (lower by about one order of magnitude, so it’s not about compensation). This year we are wrestling with our worst ever BT experience, as one can probably see by reading this blog since 2011. The latest incident led to 14 blog updates when it was dealt with in India and then 20 updates after it was escalated to the British team. It’s really quite bad. Here is the latest, written to BT:

Just lost all the power in the house in order Openreach to do some REIN tests (not our house), huge disruption. The Openreach engineer says that the problem in this area can last up to a year, may affect hundreds of houses

Then, some time later in social media:

  • Power all back up in the house. So #bt #openreach still doesn’t know what messes up the coaxial-conducted signal (for huge radius of homes).
  • I’ve been told by the #openreach engineer that it was recently some #androidTV gear that caused massive REIN issues not far from here

BT replied with:

Hi Roy

Thanks for your emails, I’ve followed up with the REIN team today and at the moment the task is still showing as pending, I’ll chase up again tomorrow to allow the engineer to report their findings and I’ll be in touch again tomorrow.

Best wishes

Later on we got:

Hello Roy

I hope you’re well, unfortunately I’ve been unable to reach you today.

I’ve spoken with the REIN team this morning, they’ve confirmed the engineer went out yesterday and has been unable to locate the source of REIN, as this is the case he’s requested a Precision Test Officer to visit with him which will require specialised equipment, unfortunately I’m unable to confirm at this point when this will go ahead.

The next review date has been suggested for 2nd July, if there is any progress beforehand either ourselves or the REIN engineer will be in touch.

I’m sorry for the further delay, I appreciate your continued patience.

Best wishes

My reply was as follows:


The connection has been quite stable so far this week (errors worked around or masked), so the urgency of this is not the same as last week. Please let us know how the REIN investigation goes. It’s not just this house that has been suffering and we hope it will be rectified ASAP.

After 3 months of pressure BT finally says it’ll send the (what the engineers call expensive) Precision Test Officer to sort out connection in the area or at least try to pinpoint the culprit. Why did it take so long? Costs. Even if hundreds of houses may have been negatively affected all this time…

It’s all about money to BT; reduce costs to BT at our expense. And the expense of hundreds of other people in our area…

Update (2/7/2015): BT are phenomenally bad. More false promises, now over 3 months with issues, no fix. Last I heard from BT this is what they wrote (and it was a long time ago):


I’ll certainly keep you updated with any further progress.

Best wishes

Here is my response, highlighting just how badly they are failing again:


Over a week ago you wrote to say “I’ll certainly keep you updated with any further progress.” I have not heard from you since. You guys had said that we should have the engineer over with equipment for the 2nd of July. Well, the day is nearly over and nobody came. This is another major letdown. I even stayed home.

A week ago BT Openreach phoned. They said they would send out the person with equipment that was needed back in March…. only in July (July 2nd)! Response time poor again.

Yesterday morning BT Openreach just knocked on door just to say they sent engineer with the needed equipment to the wrong house (Ashton, not Manchester). He said they’d possibly come back later with the equipment, so my wife and I stayed home, but no engineer ever came.

Well, connections are still dropping here about once a day, so clearly the problem is not resolved.

I am really timing this now and keeping track of false promises. I have been keeping a very detailed log which I intend to use later in order to show people, press etc. just how atrocious the service has been and how long it has taken to address.

Update (3/7/2015): It is getting pretty bad. BT sent a response yesterday, saying they would talk internally about how it happened. Heard this before…

Hi Roy,

Leave this with me please. I do apologise as I understand that this is a major failure. I’ll get in touch with the REIN desk this evening and act immediately on this for you.

Best wishes,


BT then phoned me, adding to the above E-mail which was sent almost immediately. REIN team says “system down”, so BT’s Newcastle team is to take over the case (again!). “Wow,” they’ve said. Their word is “wow”, regarding how badly this case was being handled. They also said “I’m sorry” like half a dozen times during the call.

BT’s REIN team system (for accessing calls) is said to be broken, as BT itself is not able to access it now. Service desk number says the “system [is] down.” Their word. So there are technical issues which are internal, too.

Half an hour was spent on the phone last night because BT called (‘damage control’) and didn’t let go (I could not just hang up). They’re offering no comfort except in words, with plenty of apologies. This is apparently being investigated internally also as a case of poor handling of fault reports.

This morning I got another call, which was not too shocking. BT failed to meet appointment date (false promise) this week, so it procrastinates by one week again (after waiting 1.5 weeks already), no assurance yet of an actual appointment yet, just a provisional date: 9th of July. The BT team will need to chase the engineers to ensure they actually know what date is chosen, after letting us down already.

This mess just never ends, does it? It has been over 3 months and the much-needed Precision Test Officer has not even been here yet.

Update (8/7/2015): BT has just delayed (or procrastinated) — yet again — by an entire week. 9th of July was the expected day of action, on the 7th July I was promised a call, which I did receive (whilst away from home). BT’s case manager kept his promise to keep me abreast, but they have delayed the whole thing yet again, by a whole week! This is already like a 3 weeks’ wait! For an issue will have been ‘ongoing’ for nearly 4 months by the time the engineer comes here (if that date isn’t moved yet again). Here is the E-mail following the call/voicemail:

Good Afternoon Roy,

I’m just getting in touch to provide you with a bit more update on this case for you. Unfortunately it appears that the rein engineer and the precision test officer are still trying to coordinate to arrange for the visit.

From what I understand on the update the precision test officer is going to be needed to carry out further detailed investigation and therefore the rein engineer is reliant on his availability in progressing this further.

The rein team have adjusted their review date now from the 9th to the 16th. Again I apologise as this doesn’t add much confidence in what is happening, however for investigation to go forward as I mentioned the rein team advised that they do need a precision engineer.

I’ll follow up with them again on the 9th to see if there’s any progress with this.

Best wishes,


Update (9/7/2015): Yesterday Openreach called to say they may come today, which they did, surprisingly in fact because BT said it would take another week. BT phoned too, almost at the same time that Openreach arrived (funny how poorly they communicate these things, despite Openreach being technically a part of BT). Anyway, BT spoke only to my wife, who said I would write about the findings later, which I did as follows:


I understand from my wife that you phoned us today whilst I was downstairs talking to the precision testing officer — a VERY nice guy by the way. I ended up chatting to him for over two hours and he was here with Rory (another Openreach engineer) for almost 3 hours in total, plus several hours spent walking up and down the area (maybe 3 hours in total) trying to identify the source of REIN, to no avail.

The precision testing officer was able to see the noise on my line, always at around 250 to 290 kilohertz. It was profoundly obvious and a simple radio receiver with an exceptionally wide range was able to ‘listen in’. He used his expensive German-made equipment to demonstrate where the noise came from, on the spectrum at least. While scanning the whole area he could find some other sources of noise (3 in total), but was not able to pin-point one particular house. I believe that he and Rory tried to reach house number 34, which also had experienced similar issues (masked in part by configuration changes) , exacerbated further in evening time. The timing suggests correlation with appliance use. We don’t know what noise frequencies affected her line, so one suggested followup visit (you said you had booked next Thursday) may need to target her line and see what can be deduced based on that.

After hours of technical chatting we seemed to agree that those using Virgin/cable for Internet won’t be affected as they use different cables/wires, but all the rest of us in the area (on the Openreach line) will experience similar errors. It has been nearly 3.5 months since I first experiences this and it’s not going away. The electric interference is still there, so we really need to sort this out. Many people are affected. Previously, people like myself (acting as sort of couriers pro bono for neighbours) distributed flyers to help increase collaboration in the investigation by other nearby tenants. I was also told why suggested work for underground engineers may have been issued as a request in the past; we’re pretty sure now that it is REIN and that it is definitely not coming from my house. Number 32 and 34 had their main switches off (separately) to confirm the noise is not coming from there, either.

I hope you can send/dispatch the precision testing officer to our area, targeting house number 34 for further investigation. I am eager to see this resolved, not given up on, as we all spent a lot of time on it already and we seem to be getting closer. Some cases take the precision testing officer quite a while to solve (even a week), but sooner or later he finds the culprit (he shared many stories to help guide the search and gather clues).

Kind regards,

Update (13/7/2015): The investigation carries on, soon entering the fifth month. In the mean time, the connection continues to be degraded.

Good Morning Roy,

Thank you for your email. I’m happy to hear that some progress was being made regarding this. The rein case is still opened and being managed further. I’ve been advised that a review will take place on the 16th which means that more investigation will be taking place.

Unfortunately, the rein team acts separately from myself and the engineer team and all that we can do is request focuses on certain areas. The same engineers will currently be holding on to the investigation for you until it is completely resolved or closed off.

Be assured that I’ll maintain contact with the rein team for further updates and be sure to pass them on to you. Your feedback has been very optimistic and I certainly hope that we can identify this and put this to rest once and for all for you.

Best wishes,

Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

My response:


I will be available on landline, if needed. In the mean time, regarding connection stability, in recent days the connection drops about twice a day, on average. A month ago I remember it being able to last longer than a day (maybe 3 at most) without a drop.



Update (16/7/2015): BT has just (again) decided to close the REIN issue as “unresolved”, essentially meaning that they deliver degraded service to an entire area in Manchester.

Here is what BT wrote:

Hi Roy,

I’ve just spoken with the REIN team today. They’ve confirmed that the precision testing officer and rein engineer have now decided with their supervisors that after having inconclusive results of exactly where the interference was coming from the investigation has been closed off.

I’m sorry that we couldn’t do more to identify this. At this point as well we have exhausted all investigation regarding this issue for you. Unfortunately there isn’t anything else we can look into following the closure of the REIN case as this interference is off of the BT network and the third party causing this within your area cannot be identified.

At this point we would not close our current investigations as well as there is nothing further that we can do.

Again I do apologise for this, but if there’s anything else I can help with for you, please let me know.

Best wishes,

Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

Update (18/7/2015): BT may wish to be off the hook at this stage (despite many houses still suffering. I have just sent the following message to BT again:


We are having a lot of disconnections today, so far at 12:30, 4:50, and three times in a row (about 5 minutes apart) just in the past half an hour. If this is the standard of service we continue to receive, then we have much to improve. Can BT please look in to the cause of these disconnections and get back to us?

Update (19/7/2015): It is getting worse today, so I wrote to BT again:

Update (20/7/2015): BT tried to phone (left voicemail) and responded as follows just to say there is nothing they can do.


Today, by 3PM, we had already experienced 5 or 6 disconnections. It makes it very hard to work and if BT Cares, then it will try to find ways to improve the connection as this is worse than it has been in nearly a month. It got worse today (compared to yesterday) and both my wife and I rely on this connection for our livelihood. My neighbours too (many dozens, maybe hundreds) are affected by this.

Hi Mr Schestowitz,

I’ve tried calling today but was unable to get through, I’m sorry I missed you.
I was calling on behalf of [redacted] as he’s currently out of the office and asked that I get back to you.

Openreach have done their utmost to try and locate and resolve the source of the interference and with being unable to do so have closed down their investigation. Unfortunately neither the precision testing officer or REIN Engineer were able to locate the source of this interference.

I do apologise about this but we’ve now exhausted all routes which we can go down to get to the bottom of this for you.
There is unfortunately nothing further we can do regarding the REIN in the area.

I’ll next try to get in touch with you on Wednesday.
Alternatively if it’s urgent you can contact us on [redacted] (PIN 1089)

Our opening hours are:
8am – 8pm Monday to Friday
8am – 6pm Saturday
9am – 6pm Sunday

Many Thanks

Executive Level Technical Complaints
BT Retail

Friday, June 5th, 2015, 3:28 am

Facebook Gets Excessively Greedy for Excessively Personal Information


FACEBOOK, the surveillance giant, is reaching new levels of creepiness. A friend of mine, who was apparently conformist enough to have ‘joined’ Facebook, sent me the screenshot above, translating it as follows:

“If you’re unable to verify your account using a mobile phone number, you can submit a request to verify your account using your government-issued ID.”

Q: “What happens to my ID after I upload it?” A: Your ID will be stored securely while we resolve your issue.”

“I’m sick of this spyware masquerading as social networking,” he wrote to me, so I asked him to show what happens if he clicks the option below.

Either way, notice just how much data Facebook is collecting and even demanding.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015, 6:25 am

Self-hosting Paradigm


WITH the rapid growth of so-called ‘social’ networks and that rather disturbing hype around ‘clouds’ usually comes a mindset shift; a lot of people foolishly turn to other parties to not only host — in the datacentre sense — their sites (or accounts) but also to manage all of their software and control their data. I have been trying hard to resist that, especially for photos hosting. Our wedding (and beyond) album now has over 400,000 views and the albums I set up in 2005 (using Gallery) has outlived many PHP changes, albeit with some efforts (code changes and migrations).

People don’t need surveillance and censorship platforms such as Facebook in order to share photographs. Facebook is people who are lazy and irresponsible, not technically-inept.

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