My new email client – Postbox

I’ve started using a new email client – Postbox :

Find everything from anywhere, really fast.
Postbox works behind the scenes to catalog everything in your email. We mean everything: every bit of text, every contact, address and link. Every picture, document and attachment. It’s all in the catalog and it’s all searchable.

Just click the Images tab to see a thumbnail gallery of every picture from every message, or the Attachments tab to browse through documents, files and more. And since Postbox does all of its cataloging on your own computer, the privacy and confidentiality of your email information is preserved.

[From Welcome to Postbox]

I ran into one problem early on – I was unable to import my secure certificates for my email account – but quickly found the answer here – on their support pages.

So far – one extremely impressive piece of software.

Links » More Banking Stupidity: Phished by Visa

If this is correct (and I have not verified it so far – as I do not have a VISA card) then we may have a serious problem.

More Banking Stupidity: Phished by Visa

Not content with destroying the world’s economies, the banking industry is also bent on ruining us individually, it seems. Take a look at Verified By Visa. Allegedly this protects cardholders – by training them to expect a process in which there’s absolutely no way to know whether you are being phished or not. Even more astonishing is that this seen as a benefit!

Frame inline displays the VbV authentication page in
the merchant’s main window with the merchant’s
header. Therefore, VbV is seen as a natural part of the
purchase process. It is recommended that the top
frame include the merchant’s standard branding in a
short and concise manner and keep the cardholder
within the same look and feel of the checkout process.

Or, in other words

Please ensure that there is absolutely no way for your customer to know whether we are showing the form or you are. In fact, please train your customer to give their “Verified by Visa” password to anyone who asks for it.

Craziness. But it gets better – obviously not everyone is pre-enrolled in this stupid scheme, so they also allow for enrolment using the same inline scheme. Now the phishers have the opportunity to also get information that will allow them to identify themselves to the bank as you. Yes, Visa have provided a very nicely tailored and packaged identity theft scheme. But, best of all, rather like Chip and PIN, they push all blame for their failures on to the customer

Verified by Visa helps protect you from fraudulent claims from cardholders – that they didn’t take part in, or authorise, a payment. Once you are up and running with Verified by Visa, you are no longer liable for chargebacks of this nature.

In other words, if the phisher uses your Verified by Visa password, then it’s going to be your fault – obviously the only way they could know it is if you told them! If you claim it was not you, then you are guilty of fraud; it says so, right there.

[From Links » More Banking Stupidity: Phished by Visa]

Where I’ve just been – Hotel Brovad, Masaka, Uganda

I’ve just come back form a (work arranged) trip to Uganda – more about that in separate blog postings – and spent a couple of nights in this hotel :

Hotel Brovad guarantees your stay in Masaka to be a uniquely pleasant experience.The hotel has 125 comfortable rooms offering a variety of accommodation, all with full en suite bathrooms, DSTV, video and 24 hour room service. There is a well equipped conference and business centre with secretarial and fax services.

[From Hotel Brovad, Masaka, Uganda]

The first picture of of course of the hotel itself – notice the night guards hut on the right


And then look closely at the guard – he is seriously armed, indicating that security is good.


Open Rights Group Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross in London, May 1

This seems like something worth going to take part in :

From technologies like PGP and Tor to the arguments that will convince people – friends and family as well as media and politicians – to watch out for their digital rights, this event is your anti-surveillance 101.

Cory Doctorow – science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist – and Charlie Stross – science fiction writer and former programmer and pharmacist – will share how and why to control your data. The event will be moderated by Ian Brown – academic, activist and Blogzilla.

The entry price is either joining Open Rights Group – by handing door staff a completed form (link to PDF) – or making a one-off £10 donation on the door. Please register for tickets here. Drinks will be available, as is The Three Kings – a local pub – to continue the debate.

What: Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye
When: 1830, Friday 1 May 2009
Where: Crypt on the Green, St James Church, Clerkenwell, Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0EA – Map

Event – Doctorow and Stross: Resisting the all-seeing eye

[From Open Rights Group benefit with me and Charlie Stross in London, May 1]

Sitting at Warsaw airport

I’m currently sitting at Warsaw Airport writing this – on our way back form a combined work/leisure trip, the first of many we have planned to take this year.

I worked out here in our Warsaw office for 2 days (Thursday and Friday), and we decided to take a long weekend here. The hotel we usually stay in is the Marriot in the centre of Warszaw, as they have very good business facilities, including a amazing “executive” lounge where you can take your breakfast, they will sort out anything you as for (within reason) and have unlimited coffee and cakes on tap!

The surprise was the fact that their “executive” rooms drop seriously in price at the weekend, so in the end we only paid approximatley £90 per night in a “junior corner suite” including breakfast for 2 – not bad at all.

And due to the location of the hotel we could walk to the old city, and most of the sight in the centre, including the formidable cultural palace – the enormous pile of stone that can be seen as a landmark from most of Warszaw.

Flights are very reasonable at the moment as well, the cheapest we saw was £60 return London – Warsaw, but we went for the slighty pricier £140 with LOT as the departure times suited us a lot better.

The weather has been good most of the time, and we have had a great time. so we now need to plan the next trip, wherever it takes us.

The New (and improved) Arduino

This is really good news for those of us who run out of memory for our Arduino software :

NEW! The Arduino Duemilanove has been upgraded to a more powerful microcontroller: the ATmega328. It’s fully compatible with the previous ATmega168, but with twice the memory. That includes flash memory for storing sketches (32 KB instead of 16 KB), RAM for holding variables (2KB instead of 1KB) and EEPROM for saving data when turning off the board (1 KB instead of 512 bytes). Also the speed (in the bootloader) has been raised for uploading new sketches from 19200 baud to 57600 baud. [From In the Maker Shed: New Arduino Duemilanove]

Our house on Twitter now points to a Twitter from various sensors in and around our house.

The starting point is very simple – it just reports (every hour) the temperature and humidity in our garage, so not much to get exited by/

But it is the start of a architecture to gather and control information from various sensors and controllers around the house – and a test of this infrastructure which consists of a number of Ethernet connected Arduino boards with sensors and control devices attached to them. A simple webserver runs on the Arduinos, and software written to interrogate and set the various ports and sensors run on the Ardunio itself.

They are in turn controlled by web-enabled software written in Ruby running on a Mac Mini (which is also our house server for all kinds of other purposes), which uses HTTP (as the Arduino has a small webserver) to communicate between the machines. And this sends some of the results out over Twitter.

Wait for more sensible data to appear.