Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Lovely story here about Neil Bush (Dubyas younger brother) as detailed in his divorce.

Just love how he was to be paid $2million from a Chinese semiconductor company. In questioning by his exs lawyer Brown. You have absolutely no educational background in semiconductors do you?" asked Brown. "That's correct," Bush, 48, responded in the March 4 deposition

And all time favourite. The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.
"Mr Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," Brown said.
Obviously its what the Bush fellows were bought up with.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Here is reply from ICSTIS regarding complaints about SMS spam:-
Dear Sir or Madam

Unsolicited text message marketing

I am writing in response to your complaint about unsolicited text messaging.

ICSTIS supervises both the content and advertising for premium rate services. ICSTIS develops and applies a Code of Practice to the companies which operate premium rate services (service providers). These companies are bound by their contract with the network operators such as BT, Cable & Wireless and Vodafone to comply with the requirements of this Code. Premium rate numbers are usually prefixed with the 090 code.

This email is being sent to those who have complained about a text message that in itself is not being promoted by a premium rate number (for example, it is promoted by a UK National Rate 0871 number), or where the premium rate number supplied is incorrect. Please note that ICSTIS does not regulate text messaging in itself; we regulate services that are promoted by a premium rate number, irrespective of the medium used to promote it. However, we can provide information about our experience with text messages that have been promoted by a premium rate number.

For some time now ICSTIS has been receiving a significant number of complaints from recipients of unsolicited text message marketing. Some complainants contest the claims made in these text advertisements, while others object to or even take offence to the subject matter. However, most complainants simply express aggravation at the undue inconvenience of receiving unwanted unsolicited text messages. In our experience the companies who advertise by unsolicited text message appear to obtain recipients' mobile telephone numbers using one or more of the following methods:

* Random dialling of 07 number ranges.

* From recipients who have previously requested aftermarket ringing tones or
logos to be sent to their mobile telephone.

* From people who pass on their 'friends' mobile telephone numbers for 'recommend a friend' marketing schemes of various sorts.

* Purchasing lists from brokers - the numbers held by list brokers are obtained from an almost infinite range of sources.

In recent months we have used our emergency powers against a number of companies who have been advertising services which appear to be in clear breach of the ICSTIS Code, such as those which claim that the recipient has won a prize of some monetary value when this is not the case. These messages often imply an unnecessary sense of urgency for responding and often fail to clearly identify the cost of a call and the identity of the company providing a service. Most fail to provide information on "terms and conditions" which consumers need to see before deciding whether to dial a premium rate number or text a premium short code.

Our emergency powers allow us to require the suspension of a service prior to an adjudication being made on a case by the ICSTIS Committee. In all recent cases involving services of this kind, our investigations have resulted in the continued suspension of services and the imposition of substantial fines.

With reference to the general issue of text messaging, unlike telephone calls, faxes and terrestrial mail, currently there is no method of blanket barring unsolicited marketing text messages. ICSTIS is currently liasing with the relevant lawmakers - The Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) - regarding the legality of text advertisers targeting recipients who are already TPS (Telephone Preference Service) registered. In the meantime, ICSTIS advises complainants to register their mobile numbers with the TPS. The TPS are available on 020 7291 3300.

If recipients still receive text messages after registering with the TPS, they may contact the OIC on 01625 545 700 to register a formal complaint.

We are also working with mobile networks to prevent spamming and with Oftel to send the message out to all premium rate call-terminating networks that they should not make numbers available for any services of the kind described, without proof that the service has been viewed by ICSTIS.

You may also be interested to know that as of 11 December, the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communication will be introduced into UK law. This is an EU-wide directive, which will prohibit the sending of unsolicited text messages by companies based within an EU country.

All ICSTIS adjudications are contained within our Monthly Reports. Copies can be found on our website at

I hope that this is clear and we would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Yours sincerely

Mark Bend
Case Team Administrator

ICSTIS - The Premium Rate Services Watchdog
4 Clove Building, Maguire Street, London, SE1 2NQ
Tel: 020 7940 7474
Fax: 020 7940 7456

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Great News - After six months of effort my site is number one and number 2 at google if you type in geoff jones!

Monday, November 17, 2003

Here is a site explaining the UK Air Passenger Duty which they are at pains to point out is not a tax but an excise duty (interesting tautology here, I guess it means that Tony can stand up for lower taxes somehow). The amount is 5 to the EU and Swiss airports where the passenger can exit into France (eg Geneva). Its only charged on outward flights.

The PSC is a passenger service charge levied by the airport (Ticket code UB) all the rates are here. For Stansted where Ryanair flies from its 4.40 for departing flights. Gatwick its 6.80, Luton it's 8.00 (Stelios was right!). Appears, for these airports, to be only charged on outward flights.

The airline insurance levy was introduced after 911. It varies between airlines. According to Ryanair they say here that they will charge $3 per passenger trip. That is about 2 per person per way. This is an amount set by the airline NOT by an insurance company. eg for Ryanairs latest figures of 19,232,788 passengers it means the insurance levy has raised about 40m. Interestingly the annual report fails to break out the cost of insurance. My guess it comes under "other costs" total in 2003 annual report was 59m Euro about 39m this includes all admin costs as well. surprisingly for such an emotive issue the amount is not shown as an amount.

Now need to find charges levied by French.

Ryanair now offering to pay you 1 each way when flying with them. sounds a bit dodgy to me.

When I booked St Etienne flight on 14th Nov. 2003 I paid 0.96 for the flights. UK air duty was shown at 10 and airport tax was 10 making a total of 40.96 for two people return.

For the same flight booking today. Total cost is now 55.12 with flights reduced to 0.20. Taxes on way out now; 12.80 for PSC - Non refundable, 3.72 insurance levy, 8.00 UK air duty; on way back a government tax of 17.22 an airport tax of 9.62 and a consistent insurance levy of 3.72.
Making total taxes, fees and charges at 55.08, flights at 0.40.

Interestingly the site shows flights at 0.01 but actually charges 0.10!

Neer mind I suppose its still very cheap - but it would be better if they were a bit more straightforward.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Started receiving spam sms messages on the new Orange number, asking me to call a premium rate number 090-640-7077 ref BX57FT to claim a 2000 bonus prize. Filed a complaint with the regulator here ICSTIS After visiting this excellent site for grumbling on.

17-11-03 Another spam SMS this time:-
URGENT!: Your Mobile No. was awarded a 2,000 Bonus Caller Prize on 02/09/03! This is our 2nd attempt to contact YOU! Call 0871-872-9755 BOX95QU Filed another complaint

18-11-03 I emailed my phone supplier at they came back with "I don't know who/where this company SMS-ing you got your details from. We have had a couple of similar queries to this in the past few days, but they may not be related". Need to check with my friends who also got phones from them to see if it is there database thats been hacked or Oranges.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Great hotel concept here in Finland, like the idea you get your room code when you do internet booking, price at 30 quid a night is excellent also.Omenahotellit

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

An ultra quiet PC with no internal fans, just like I've been wanting for the domestic enviroment. News

Monday, November 10, 2003

Shock horror of the bill from Orange for new Treo. Basically Orange have taking tautology to new peaks by defining "Open Access" to mean ability to access WAP pages only (free for first 3 months), not clear how one knows which are WAP pages or not.

Accessing internet and emails counts as GPRS which are charged at 3 per Megabyte! However, you can have a "Openworld" plan where first month is free and then you are charged 4 per month for 3megabytes of data plus 10 texts and 20 phototexts.

Also make sure you get your new phone on or shortly after 5th of month. otherwise your free first month is shortened accordingly.

The nice man at Orange credited me for GPRS usage todate since I was new to the GPRS/WAP game.

Friday, November 07, 2003

A site describing how to stop pop up ads, better late than never I guess. Federal Trade Commission

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

What a crazy world we live in. Two of my friends are currently on Orange contracts and they both want new Treo's. If they want to retain their old number they will have to pay 350 for a new phone. However, Orange are actively encouraging them to become 'new' customers with a different number by giving away phone for free or at a much subsidised price (I paid 59). Meanwhile other companies eg Tesco are proclaiming the use of loyalty cards! See here

Monday, November 03, 2003

A very cunning way of plotting blogs etc on map herebritish_isles
The Treo600 just gets better each day I use it. All my friends are getting them to!. The email is so easy to set up and its really cool to check your pop3 accounts on the move. The internet is also pretty good even Nick had to admit it rendered his pages at pretty good. Looks like my laptop will be gouing into retirement.

Another couple of uses for your Treo.
Caroline says that it makes a good mirror for applying lipstick.
Great for finding your way to the seat at the cinema, pity about the bulb blowing halfway through "Intolerable Cruelty" last night.
Taking pictures of hard to describe items hen you are going shopping.

Still the very best feature is the threading of SMS's so that all messages (inward and outward) are sorted by the persons name.

Latest downloaded application is Cell Plan very good for keeping track of your free minutes (doesnt work for SMS or GPRS data yet)
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