30 June, 2008

Usenet as an alternative to Bittorrent - Virgin spying on customers - Privacy

I hate the idea that ISPs (those providers of internet) are being bullied into spying on what we are doing, first by the likes of the MPAA (etc.) and now by the bigger kids in the playground like the French Government (who are bowing to the posh kids with all the money) and it won't be long until other governments decide to go the same way...It's wrong to tar everyone with the 'evil' brush...

If that wasn't bad enough, some ISP's are spotting a way of saving money off the back of this and quietly sorting/throttling popular packet types (like bittorrent for example) and dumping it to narrower bandwidth...I object to both of these practices - frankly it's no-one's business what I'm doing with my pipe on my own time...and if I want to transfer stuff around the place using torrents, why should I get a slower transfer speed than someone moving data with FTP or HTTP? It's definitely unreasonable and it's obvious why - it's so they don't have to bite the bullet and upgrade their networks to cope with increasing demand for fast broadband (remember all the wailing and crying from the ISPs when BBC iPlayer rolled out)?

So...especially if you are using Virgin for your internet access (as they have already publicly admitted they are now going to voluntarilly spy on what their clients are doing with their pipes, which is frankly shocking), rather than search for an ISP (with backbone/morals) quite yet, IMHO it's time to go underground...

For web access, unless it's other SSL stuff (like internet banking) or just reading the likes of the BBC website, I recommend Torpark (which is a Tor-network enabled Firefox browser), use gmail over that for email accces (a bit slower, but free, anonymous and encrypted)...if you have some cash to spend, use Xerobank for the same thing (it's fast)...

If you need to move big chunks of data around - ditch the torrents (where all the attention is at the moment) and go old skool ...Welcome (back) to Usenet (some parts of which actually pre-date the internet, believe it or not) -

Two articles you will need to read to get you up and running (looks like "Wired" has similar feelings to me) -

How to share files on Usenet

What are NZB files?

- one you might need -

How to bypass blocked usenet

- that will get you 95% free from attention (for now) and cost you nothing...however, personally, I'm going to go "the full tamale" and employ SSL (i.e. - Packet gets encrypted at your end, goes through your ISP, can't be packet sniffed and therefore can't be deliberately slowed down or stopped by your ISP or pawed through and licked by the French Government...it gets safely decrypted at the other end and visa-versa...and then *everything* you do is just a big stream of anonymous, classless gibberish to the prying eyes that lurk in the underpipes (to which all they can do is shrug and shuffle on to the next victim)...thus leaving your ISP (in your case at least) to do exactly what they should be doing - providing fast, reliable internet access and not to be lackies for the money-grabbing lawyers of the music industry in the far-off US of A...

28 June, 2008

Made it!

Made it!
Originally uploaded by finkangel.

Camping in Littlehampton! Weather is stunning! :)

27 June, 2008

Fink's Links # 19

Another week over, so time for my little roundup of HTML and XML shaped 0wn@g3 -

A new Star Wars Lego kit (blatantly not aimed at kids)...yes, believe it or not - "The Deathstar" - to the bin, Lego Falcon!

Now check out "Bank Quest" - An RPG piggy bank!? The only way to build up your character is to pop money in the top!

A funny video entitled "Broken Skateboard has the last laugh"

Winner of (my) best titled video of all time award - "Lady spins on an escalator"

Yes, okay it happened way back in February (and so is Jurassically ancient), but the current holder of my "best headline of all time" award can be found here...

Learn of China's (very scary) global "Human Flesh Search Engine"...

A picture entitled "sign not in use"...

Read of "The Great Moon Hoax of 1835"...

Discover, that at least in theory, tightly packed nukes could go off "like popcorn"...wonderful...

...and finally (if you are still fishing around for things to do) a nice collection of sites to go to play old computer/console games...

More next week, and previous links can be found here (if you like this sort of thing)...

Have a great weekend (we might be going somewhere in the camper)!

26 June, 2008

Canada Square - Tennis on huge TV

Just had to pop down today to take some shots of what is going on in Canada Square, all week (up until today) they have been showing Wimbledon on this giant screen -
Canada Square Gardens #1
- and then today, when I finally manage to hit ground floor with a decent camera it's some sort of Jazz band!
Canada Square Gardens #2
Oh well, you get the idea...nice touch from Canary Wharf management... ;)

25 June, 2008

Run out of combinations of musical notes?

It never ceases to amaze me that we haven't run out of all the various combinations of musical notes by now, and people can keep on managing to come up with popular, original (and yet similar, so they fit into their various genres) enjoyable ditties...I bring up this topic as yesterday (some of the guys behind me keep a radio on all the time, pretty quietly, but we do get subjected to a stream of pop songs all day) we heard the Queen song "Under pressure" which one one of my colleages mistook for Vanilla Ice's (real name Mr Van Winkle ;) "Ice Ice Baby" both of which have an extremly similar repeating series of notes (click them to listen if you like and compare)...

Apparently, Mr Winkle originally defended himself (on MTV) saying that there was no way they were the same and he'd just come up with the same series of notes and timing accidentally, however Queen didn't see the funny side and things very nearly ended up in court, in the end he just paid them an "undisclosed sum" (very quietly) and got on with his career...finally confessing publicly (but only *this* year) - "What happened is I was trying not to get sued and it didn't work. So yeah, they're the same songs, in case you were wondering"...Quite nice of Queen not to kick up a bigger fuss about it...

As a race we have been stringing together tunes (Solfège) for many thousands of years, so frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if people started to tread on each others toes a little bit by this stage, but it really doesn't seem to be happening or more high profile cases like this would surely exist...? Or perhaps what has happened is that many of the original (and pleasing to the human ear) arrangements of notes have already been done and all that's left is moving chunks of them around a bit (and changing the words on top)...

The number of cover versions in the charts would hint that true originaliy, musically rather than lyrically, is something that may be a rare thing, looking forward...

24 June, 2008

Wimbledon Jolly with IBM

I'm off to Wimbledon today, courtesy of IBM.. so not only will I get to enjoy some tennis, but also a champagne reception, 3 course lunch and afternoon tea!

Only dilemma has been what to wear - business casual - hmm, does that mean I can wear my crocs?

More updates later.. and possibly some photos... Oh and the dolphin post when I get a spare hour (before you ask!)


23 June, 2008

Stupid nokia n73 headphones suck

Stupid Nokia N73
I was very happy with my phone, in the beginning...

Now don't get me wrong, I'm still thrilled with the camera (although it is a bit slow compared to what I am used to), but as the handset has started to be treated in an "everyday" fashion, something important has gone wrong, embarrasingly wrong...

The headphone socket on the bottom has become (understandably) slightly worn, at the start I would be fiddling (frustratedly) for 90 seconds in order to force it's brand new plug into place, thus when it started to ease up slightly I was pleased...however (despite the fact that it's only been 4 months since I popped in it's virgin SIM) on no less than *10* occasions, the headphones have accidentally fallen out...not a problem if I'm on my own, but it *always* seems to happen when I am on a completely silent train, filled with 90 or so other tired commuters, quietly reading the evening news and patiently waiting to start their journey home...and not only that - *invariably* (when it happens) I won't be listening to Ed Alleyne-Johnson or Coldplay, it will be something hugely embarrasing like "Dizzy Rascal" (which adds a spring to my step when I'm commuting) but contains a *lot* of deeply shocking language...and of *course* the volume will be on very high (because I had to hear it over the racket on the tube)...*and* because trying to put the stupid thing back in isn't going to happen quickly (while the whole carriage stares and looks agast at the filth pouring from my main phone speaker at full blast), my only option is to try and go through the unlock and mute process as quickly as possible (again a fiddle, although one with slightly more chance of quick success than an attempt at re-attachment)...

I understand it's simple economics to put propritory connectors on electronic goods (so you are more likely to buy X branded kit) and thus it doesn't make sense to put on a tried-and-trusted standard headphone jack but why can't they at least stick on an option *not* to swap immidiately and at the same volume to the main handset speaker if an accidental detachment occurs...? No matter how careful you are it's *going* to happen from time to time...

I hate/love my mobile... >:P

21 June, 2008

A trip to Playa del Carmen

Back to Mexico again (briefly), on the Sunday we decided to take a trip into the local town of Playa del Carmen (we grabbed a cab from reception, prix fixe) to check out "Quinta Avenida" or "Fifth Avenue" (nope, no American influences here guv'nor) -
Playa del Carmen #2
Playa del Carmen #11
- (cough...ahem) -
Playa del Carmen #1
- anyway, one of the first places we came across was billed as a pharmacy/tequila shop (great combination!) but actually turned out to be a sort of supermarket crossed with tourist shop (which was a pattern to be repeated all the way along this incredibly long road), incredibly though the pharmacy bit of the store turned out to be an over-the-counter drug fest, if I had wanted to I could have come away with piles of prescription drugs (they had all sorts of antibiotics, anti-depressants, even stacks of things like prozac and viagra...very different from the UK) -
Playa del Carmen #20
Playa del Carmen #19
Playa del Carmen #8
- they also sold an essential item that I had been missing -
Playa del Carmen #18
- a thermos mug (not, of course, to keep anything warm, but to keep the beer *cold* in the incredible heat, in his book "Cooks Tour" (which I had taken along on the trip with me) Anthony Bourdain mentions drinking warm beer over ice in Mexico, and he certainly wasn't kidding) -
Playa del Carmen #15
- as we wandered further on, so the shops became a little smaller and the attention of the owners became more frenzied (actually until it was getting a bit stupid, hoards of people all yelling to try and get you into their store full of Chinese tat or low quality clothing) -
Playa del Carmen #14
- we passed the policia hut (where they were busy charging up their electric police buggies and snoozing) -
Playa del Carmen #16
- but that gave us a brief rest from the hassle (as no-one wanted them to wake up) after about ten minutes walking everything suddenly got much more up-market -
Playa del Carmen #25
- silver shops were in proliferation -
Playa del Carmen #28
Playa del Carmen #27
- and more upmarket touristy shops with some genuinely interesting objects -
Playa del Carmen #26
- where we stopped for a while, to have a drink and a breather -
Playa del Carmen #32
- as we entered the bar, so a barman asked our nationality, then hit a gong and yelled out "God Save the Queen!" which was repeated jovially by all the patrons (nice touch!) -
Playa del Carmen #30
- it was happy hour (like all the rest of the hours in the day) so we got buy-one-get-one-free on the drinks, apart from Flyingpops fancied coke and they only had one (incredibly small) can, so her one was buy-none-get-one-free (which was an even nicer touch!)...I could have stayed there longer joining in with the "Viva La France" etc. as various other visitors entered and ordered, but Flyingpops was anxious to continue shopping, so we paid up and walked on...and on...and on...this was an *extremely* long road and the shops were never-ending and all rather similar, so we decided to pop down and check out the playa -
Playa del Carmen #34
- which was extremely narrow and absolutely packed with restaurants and bars -
Playa del Carmen #35
- and had something I had *never* seen before -
Playa del Carmen #36
- double beds for hire! Anyway, as the sun began to draw in, our hunt stopped being about touristy things and started being about finding something nice to eat -
Playa del Carmen #37
- we found a nice little place which did what I wanted to eat and had a *few* vegetarian items that Flyingpops fancied trying (and had live musicians who became ten times more flamboyant and beamed widely when we gave them a couple of dollars tip) -
Playa del Carmen #38
- we started with nachos and these interesting melted cheese sticks with a sweet chilli dip -
Playa del Carmen #39
-I had surf and turf (which was excellent, the lobster being done with a light garlic butter) -
Playa del Carmen #40
- and Flyingpops had six kinds of carbohydrate accompanied by a grilled pepper (those Mexicans just don't seem to get the whole vegetarian thing)... ;)

Anyway, we survived our foray on our own, off the beaten track though things got incredibly seedy *very* quickly, but by being careful to stick to where we belonged we managed some good shopping, a spectacular dinner, I only got offered cocaine once (the guy vanished extremely quickly when I said no) and we didn't get pick-pocketed...a good trip!

20 June, 2008

Finks Links #18

Hurray! It's Friday(!) and to celebrate, a really good collection of links this week (IMHO, of course), quite a mixture too -

An excellent video entitled "101 ways to kill G Man" (done with Garrys Half Life 2 mod)...great, simply because you can't kill him "normally"...

A picture entitled "I can promise, it will never get done"...

Somehow, I get the feeling that the marketing department at Burger King didn't upload their own pictures to Wikipedia...the "Whopper Teriyaki" is particularly real looking... ;)

Audio slideshow from the BBC of aerial photography during World War II (specifically D-Day and Auschwitz)...

Following the theme - a very funny defacement of a WW2 submarine advertising poster in Canada...

Sega unveil "Ema" - a diminutive robot "girlfriend" that can do "love mode" (not what it sounds like) and perform that other common-spousal activity - yes, handing out business cards (do they really expect to sell any of these?)

Page 8 from the American publication "Beginners Bible Coloring book" (sic) - "Even though we know Dinosaurs survived the flood (on Noah's Ark) we don't know if Jesus ever rode them - but he probably did!", got to love the colouring hints too... ;)

A good way to shoot bubbles...

Another rather good Tornado picture (this one perhaps left evacuation a touch last minute)...

Learn how to make money from the internet (no, not a scam - some very easy, very simple to do things, like answering surveys for £1 a pop - good if you are in a "desirable" demographic and have free time on your hands) that will legitimately earn you cash online (brought to you by "The Times")...

More Chinese food fun now - a large portion of "Chicken without sexual life for me please"... ;)

An amazing set of photos called "Silent World" by Michael Kenna...he obviously lives somewhere that gets quite a bit of snow (and where no-one else goes outside)... ;)

Step by Step - How to make an extremely small model of an orange...which has prompted a considerable proportion of the denizens of the internet to question "Why...?"

How about a nice Japanese vomiting dog game (a bit like "Operation" but you have to pull the germs out of the poor animals ejections in order to make it well again)...

Reprint of an article from Popular Science Monthly (in 1931) called "Will Autogiro Banish Present Plane?" by one Assen Jordanoff (very interesting read)...

...and finally, "The robots beneath the fluff"...

...previous entries can be found here, more next week! ;)

19 June, 2008

70 to 30 in 5 secs - car sticker

Speed Camera - Funny car sticker
- spotted in the back of a (distinctly un-sporty) car in Whitebushes the other evening...reminded me of this one I found at Volksworld back in (wow!) 2005 -
Volksworld_2005_Speed Camera Test Vehicle_030405

18 June, 2008

Giant Subbuteo - Canary Wharf

Giant Subbuteo #1
Giant Subbuteo #2
Not quite sure what this was all about, although it certainly wouldn't be a trivial matter to flick one of these chaps towards a ball...spotted just by the entrance to the Thames clipper at Canary Wharf this morning... ;)

16 June, 2008

Swimming with Dolphins in Mexico

Ok Ok, enough ... Clearly, you all love my blog posts, and can't wait for the next installment from me!

I will get to write my dolphin post, eventually... but I need some help
a) uploading pictures
b) uploading the video clip onto the blog

Any ideas how I upload the video? It may speed up my posting

: )

Naughty Fink

Naughty Fink
Originally uploaded by kipperfrog.

Honestly, that wasn't me (spotted on Kipperfrog's photostream)..!

13 June, 2008

Captain Hook Cruise, Cancun, Mexico

Back to Mexico(!) and time for a bit of cheese (after all that culture), a really classy(?) "Pirates of the Carribean"-themed cruise (with entertainment and food) on the Friday night of our first week (I was really looking forward to it, Flyingpops was intermittently expressing quiet concerns about motion sickness and the fact that she was running low on tablets to remedy any possible occurences of it)...we had a 7.30pm pickup (which turned out to be in an A-Team-style Dodge van) and were whisked (actually very slowly thanks to the terrible traffic jams) right into downtown Cancun -
Mexico #232
- it must have taken about an hour in all I guess (about the same as the airport transfer) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #1
- catching our first excited glimpse of the Pirate ships from bridge over the docks -
Captain Hook, Cancun #13
- hopping out we joined the queue to pay port tax (what is it with Mexico and tax, tax, tax!?) - anyway, with that out of the way we got a chance to have a look around the stalls (and buy some pirate gear) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #15
- pose with some undead -
Captain Hook, Cancun #16
- and then get a closer look at the boats (one red, one green) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #4
Captain Hook, Cancun #9
- we got on board the green boat (the red boat already being untied even as we were watching), everyone posing for photographs at the treasure chest (we bought ours later as it was jolly good)-
Captain Hook, Cancun #18
- watched the red boat head off over the lagoon into the sunset (jeering and firing canons as they went) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #20
Captain Hook, Cancun #24
- and then off we went - and from that moment on, and this is no exaggeration, nor a word of a lie, the fun *never* stopped, we were genuinely and continually entertained by these extremely talented showmen -
Captain Hook, Cancun #28
Captain Hook, Cancun #26
- as was everyone else ;) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #31
- shockingly (especially to the Americans who historically have Mexico to themselves as a holiday destination) when it came to asking where people were from (by evaluating yelling volume of the participants) - the boat turned out to be (roughly) 50% populated by Brits, followed by about 45% Americans, a handful of Mexicans and Canadians (about 10 of each) and one couple from Japan (who were picked on mercilessly as soon as they revealed themselves)...anyway, the show continued with crewmen clambering around and swinging from ropes (as the sun began to creep below the horizon) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #30
Captain Hook, Cancun #29
- (swinging in more ways than one actually)...ulp...
Captain Hook, Cancun #32
Captain Hook, Cancun #35
There were then a number of party games, mostly involving drinking (the Brits won) -
Captain Hook, Cancun #36
- and then it was time for dinner - a *fantastic* smell had been wafting down from the galley (at the back of the boat above the bar) for some time -
Captain Hook, Cancun #37
- it was astonishingly good - a beautifully tender medium rare New York strip steak and a lobster tail that had been simply grilled with a little butter and seasoning-
Captain Hook, Cancun #38
- the presentation left something to be desired, and it was a bit of a struggle to find somewhere to sit to eat but when we did plonk ourselves down and dive in it was absolutely delicious (my mouth is watering now just thinking about it)...everyone then enjoyed a few drinks, had a bit of a dance and then, all of a sudden, the other boat was spotted off in the distance, the chase was on!
Captain Hook, Cancun #41
What followed (I was using the camcorder I am afraid, so no more pics, and honestly, it being the highlight of the cruise probably doesn't want to be ruined anyway) was a spectacular battle between the two crews, lots of swinging around on ropes, swordplay, explosions...great fun -
Captain Hook, Cancun #42
- the plot was cleverly arranged so both boats came away thinking they were the winner of the battle and a huge party kicked off, disco lights etc. and for the next couple of hours the two ships just circled in the lagoon with much dancing, drinking and general merriment (other boats even stopped to watch and try to soak up the atmosphere)...!

I absolutely couldn't recommend this trip any more strongly, if you are in this neck of the woods - DO IT - it's a staggeringly good night (oh and in case you were wondering Flyingpops didn't feel poorly after all, the lagoon is pretty much wave-free)... ;)