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Monday, February 6th, 2017, 11:15 pm

OpenSUSE Web Site Cracked

And SUSE has not yet said anything about it (to publicly acknowledge this), it seems to have restored from backup or removed the defacement

OpenSUSE Cracked
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Saturday, January 28th, 2017, 2:20 pm

If You Repeatedly Make False Claims, Then Expect Criticism, Shiva Ayyadurai

Or: Shiva Ayyadurai Threatens to Sue Social Media Sites Over One-Line Posts

Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent E-mail. Everyone knows that. It’s easily disprovable. Does he want is to be a punishable offense to point out that he is either deluded or lying? Seems so.

In my daytime job I habitually set up mail servers and I have been a heavy user of E-mail for many years (millions of mails in my boxes). I am no stranger to the subject. I have used E-mail since I was about 13.

Based on this legal threat [PDF] sent by Ayyadurai’s highly controversial lawyer, he has just sunk to new lows by attempting to police what people say about him online. He already sued TechDirt, whose founder coined the term “Streisand Effect”. It means that by trying to silence or suppress some information, especially on the Internet, one only amplifies it. By doing what he just did, Ayyadurai demonstrated his inability to grasp the Internet (e.g. the “Streisand Effect”), set aside E-mail.

Not a clever move. Not by a long shot.

I am a relatively opinionated person, but I am also typically polite and courteous. For people like Ayyadurai I haven’t much patience because I care for facts and I have low tolerance levels for charlatans, like religious nutcases such as Peter Popoff. Their lies are actually causing real harm. Having the nerve to also sue those who disagree with them makes them worse than charlatans; it makes them bullies and merely serves to weaken their stance. They are frail, insecure people.

A lot of readers may have not the faintest of clue what I’m talking about here, so consider these two articles about it [1, 2]. They include background and they are gently worded because Ayyadurai is a legal bully. He tries to induce self-censorship and if he succeeds, everybody loses. Well, with comments in these article one can get a whole picture, a more complete picture. Anonymous commenters are not afraid of Ayyadurai.

For the uninitiated, to put it succinctly, first Shiva Ayyadurai sued Gawker (a news site), basically for saying the truth about E-mail. Then he sued TechDirt (a blog). Now he threatens SOCIAL MEDIA sites. 140-character brainfarts! What next? Will he threaten to sue people over single-word insults, too?

“Divide and conquer,” told me a friend, is the game he is attempting to play here. “If he takes them on one at a time and none band together and crush him, he will win if only one site at a time.”

It’s a form of trolling.

“He’s such a charlatan,” my friend told me, that “I’m surprised he’s not at Microsoft or hanging out with Gates.”

This friend’s advice was to gather more information about this, e.g. by asking around about similar threats. “That would get the word out,” said the friend, “that he is aiming for a divide and conquer strategy. Is there a way to do a class action against an individual charlatan?”

At the moment we don’t quite know how broad this campaign has been. Maybe it was just a sole letter. It’s impossible to tell for sure, unless Ayyadurai folds and shows his cards.

“A lot of sites had articles exposing his fraud,” my friend pointed out. “For starters there are these sites: gizmodo, quora, theverge. Searching more, there is this” (from Charlatan Watch List). “They might be interested.”

Ayyadurai is not an ordinary person; the person is a serial threatener. I’ve recently been reading more about this, hence becoming aware of a Web-wide campaign by him (some like TechRadar too, apparently — not just TechDirt and Gawker — are at risk or under attack). Evidence of this endless chasing by him would weaken his case/s, as any judge in the TechDirt case (aligned with EFF now) would easily see that he’s just trying to ‘tame’ the Internet. Ayyadurai’s lawyer is also quite a bully; to make matters worse, he’s financially connected to Donald Trump, an infamous enemy of the free press (this lawyer received money from Trump’s ally Peter Thiel and represents Donald Trump’s wife in action against British media).

Why does Ayyadurai resort to these irrational fits? He just wants to silence anyone who contradicts him. Which as everyone knows is not possible and would simply get him yet more negative publicity…

Ayyadurai, seriously man, look what you have done to your reputation (if you ever had any)…

I’ve not written about this until the weekend partly due to lack of time (busy week at work) but primarily because I decided to wait until I see some reactions to it; not online reactions but reactions from friends.

“Probably wise,” said a friend about the wait-and-see approach, later adding: “I wonder how widely he has cast his net. Many trolls send out large numbers of letters and then focus on those that respond.”

I’m still eager to know if other people have received similar letters from Ayyadurai. It could be like a form of copyright trolling but with “libel” rather than copyright. And over what? One-line posts? 140 characters? It’s totally ridiculous! I didn’t even say anything that wasn’t already said elsewhere.

Based on the letter, Ayyadurai wanted to have me suspended/banned and even threatened litigation against the platform, which is obviously not liable at all. The whole letter is so legally flawed that one has to wonder if the lawyer should be disbarred. The lawyer even tried to conceal the actual threat, using some bizarre reasoning for secrecy (like misuse of copyright law).

This episode is not over. I hereby publicly ask anyone who has received a similar letter to get in contact with me. Friends agree with me that our utmost priority should be to put an end to this serial ‘libel’ trolling. If only to make an example and discourage others from attempting the same thing in the future…

The case is very important not just for TechDirt but for many of us whose writings are opinionated but based on facts. Nitpicking on some habitual insult (I’m guilty of that too sometimes) is a convenient way for them to paint their critics as unreasonable and rude, but isn’t it rude to blatantly lie about one’s achievements? Quite frankly, a one-word insult is the lesser evil in this context. Gagging criticism rather than gagging or suppressing false claims? Which is worse?

Saturday, October 15th, 2016, 12:47 pm

Withdrawing Large Sums of Your Own Money? Not a Chance

Run on the banks (in the UK) cannot happen and “war on crime” is a convenient excuse for it

Fiscal issues in the UK are a hot topic. The Pound/Sterling has been in a freefall since the Brexit vote (see this chart) and Brexit politicians — people like David Davis and Theresa May — can probably make a lot of money trading/swapping currencies while they make our policy. It’s like they have insider information because it’s them who call the shots and can rock the Pound with just a stroke of a pen or some words uttered to the media.

Falling Pound/Sterling is no laughing matter. Depending on what currency one compares it to, the currency here lost nearly 20% of its value in just a few months. Can one take one’s money out of the bank while it still (potentially) has a higher value? Not quite. It is almost as though you need to ask for permission to get your own money.

Remember what happened in Cyprus a few years ago. It’s a European (ish) country whose economy was collapsing. It used daily limits to impose — in a rather Draconian fashion — sanctions on people whose savings would soon be confiscated by their government. It looked like a movie plot or fiction, but even in a sane world with no hyperinflation such a thing can already happen.

Both Halifax and Nationwide, banks with which I have active accounts, impose limits which they do not state upfront, except perhaps in the fine prints somewhere. Natwest never really had such limits, at least not in theory. I closed my main/current account there and stopped paying anything into it.

Natwest’s practices are not the important topic here. But its services can be appalling sometimes. If a person tells you that withdrawing the money should be possible the following day and you even bring all the documents he or she asked for (after consulting higher up workers), then you might expect a withdrawal to be possible. But no. They put barriers and additional requirements just to put some more barbwire around the money — the same money you deposited there.

Treating everything as suspicious by default (or until proven otherwise) is unwise. It makes services rather appalling when the customer is assumed to be dishonest or dodgy. It’s almost as if war on drugs or whatever now justifies limiting people and their access to their own cash. In hypothetical case of financial emergencies, these pretexts can suddenly be exploited for other reasons like preventing a run on the bank.

Did I manage to get money out? Yes, but barely. At numerous points I was driven close to the point of surrender, but I kept insisting and escalating through three layers of management in two different banks. The process which all in all took about three hours (minimum) involved all sorts of forms which include the equivalent of financial surveillance or essentially the tracking of all payments, including cash payments. It is not hard to foresee a future which is not just optionally cashless but one in which this becomes obligatory. Nowadays when you purchase not only a flight ticket but also a rail (train) ticket they ask questions like purpose of travel as if that matters at all.

To specify some of the finer details: 3 trips to Natwest were required in addition to one online. Nationwide was two trips and two instances of online access. Halifax was a short trip and politely arguing with management took over an hour, putting aside queuing and long periods of waiting time for those who were with me (family). This whole ordeal reinforced my claim that Natwest has become a terrible bank that makes false promises and does not provide a service if there is nothing for it to gain from it. I actually left this bank after many bitter experiences (when I joined 16 years ago it was actually okay, as noted several times in the past in this blog) and having to ever visit the bank again for any purpose would give cause for hesitation. One can simply not take their word.

The bottom line ought not be Natwest but the systemic problem and the danger which is banks not having much cash at the back and not dispensing it upon demand from the clients either. Advance notice does not quite cut it as there is a lot of laborious paperwork and the equivalent of interviews (lots of questions) as if one applies for a mortgage when simply asking to withdraw the amount of thousands of pounds.

It is not impossible or implausible that years or decades down the line these mechanisms will get misused to separate people from their money at times of economic panic.

Thursday, September 8th, 2016, 12:17 am

State of Florida Seems to be Sending Automated Foreclosure Notices En Masse

Fraudulent foreclosures were reported in the US media several years ago, especially after the had bubble burst in 2008. These can be devastating as they can also shock children at a very young age (collective punishment), usually for the enrichment of some private corporations such as banks (which received bailouts, i.e. the very opposite of foreclosures).

What happens when these foreclosures — fraudulent or not — get sent en masse and are potentially signed by machines? Someone from Florida sent me the following documents, serving to demonstrate what’s quite possibly abuse of power in order to confiscate people’s homes.

Watch the following intimidating letter:

Is that a robo-signer:

The following serve to demonstrate the same handwriting used for different people/names:

Look closely:

“Their lawyer sent me this copy-and-paste email foreclosure notices,” told me the source.

Preying on the vulnerable who lack legal advice and cannot afford to challenge these in court, the people named above (in signatures) probably make a good living taking other people’s houses.

For those still not seeing what’s iffy in the above letter, bear in mind that many people (perhaps many thousands) are likely to have received virtually identical letters. Ask around in Florida, dear journalists, and you might have a story worth more than Trump and Clinton puff pieces.

Sunday, August 28th, 2016, 7:08 pm

My New Setup (Primary Workspace)

We now have 3 dual-display laptops here, properly connected using the wonderful Synergy (we’re using it with the GUI which is Quicksynergy). My wife uses one such laptop, whereas now, having gotten a bargain on a new laptop (it cost just 99 pounds), I use two, which means 4 screens to work with in synergy. I finally got around to taking photos (a month later).

A makeover

A makeover

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016, 4:40 am

Why the British Government Has a Moral Obligation to Immediately Send Helicopters to Portugal

The UK has a large airborne fleet which is hardly being used except for unnecessary wars and air shows. Now that Portugal, a fellow EU member state, is burning we have the moral obligation to save not only houses but also people and livestock (we don’t know yet how far the fires would reach if not extinguished quickly enough). Any procrastination isn’t excusable here, especially if these military facilities are primarily intended to guard life. Political points too can be scored through such an operation, so I hope to see my government doing the right thing this morning. The people of Portugal would be grateful and the cost to British taxpayers isn’t of utmost interest at this stage (few would object to such an operation).

Portugal is my father’s favourite country, it’s one of my own favourites (I first visited at age 8), I have some friends from Portugal and some of my favourite music is Portuguese, so I feel like I should do everything possible; praying isn’t helping (let’s face it, fire won’t be affected by prayer) and I cannot physically go to Portugal. All I can do it compel my government to send helicopters there, maybe planes too (if they’re equipped for carrying water and fire deterrents/retardants).

Monday, July 4th, 2016, 8:21 am

Brexit in One Picture

brexit

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