Review: Freecom 3.5 Network Media Player

Total Media Freedom is the state whereby one can access any media from any where at any time and in any place. We aren't there yet, but for a fair few years I have been trying to get there - mainly through PDAs and lots of PCs in ugly places with cables that are more ugly.

The PC in the lounge exploded a few months ago and has not been replaced. This was actually a good thing because it was very very noisy due to a fan that was once part of the Enola Gaye's propeller manifold.

So, this week I received a Freecom Media Player kit. Its about the size of a car stereo and has a big hard drive in it. It has a simple, slowish interface. You plug it into your TV. You can hook it to your network, but I don't see the point. Its great. It was sooo cheap for what it is, about $110 or 80 nicker.

It plays movies, xvids, DVD over the network, mp3s and oggs and shows jpegs. It aint fancy and it aint top fly.

But its just so fit for its simple purpose, well made and doesn’t look to bad either – thought it wont win any design awards.

If you want a basic semi-portable system for your media then this baby is worth checking out. If you do get one, get one without the hard drive and put an old or cheaper 3.5 inch drive in, which is really easy to do.

See it here:

Online Banking, What to do about Phishing?

There are three things that allowed me to be Phished.

  • My Stuipidity
  • The Bank/Client Email Link
  • Lack of decent behaviour analysis.

My Stupidity

Slap the cuffs on, guilty as charged. I'm a tech savvy tech professional who was chuckling at 419's before paypal and google were born. (419s are the "Nigerian doctor needs to move money to your country" scams, named after an item in Nigeria's legal code).

Me stupid, say no more.

The Bank/Client Email Link

The security of the internet is drastically less so than the real world, for the same reasons of ontology as makes preventing piracy impossible. Its all just data, no things.

For Phishing to work somebody needs to bring me to a web page. Its as simple as that. (I'm not talking key loggers and packet sniffers, I'm talking pure old school Phishing.)

If we take out the email from the relationship everything becomes much safer. There is no connection that can be exploited between the Phishers and Me and the Bank.

1. Banks can say emphatically to their customers: "We will never ever send you an email."

a. Rather than the more obtuse instructions to "Never enter details in a website from an email" kind of thing.

b. For Phishing to stop it need to b black and white.

2. Once this cultural idea is accepted and permutated people will be much less likely to be stupid.

3. How did the Phishers know my email address and that I had an account with that bank? Again, the fact they had my email address was exploited.

4. Email is the weak link, it’s the fulcrum between phishing and no-phishing.

5. SMS and Voice Phone is offers a different kind, not just degree, of security over email.

6. If we kill the email link, we (banks/clients) don’t really loose any function, we just loose the risk of Phishing and Fraud.

Behaviour Analysis

When i was in Sri Lanka recently I took out some cash and, in the same day, I took out another 20 dollars. My bank rang me on my phone to check that I hadn't been defrauded. Excellent.

When I was phished:

· More money left the account in one go that it ever had before.

· The money went to someone I had never paid before.

· It came from an IP address and cookie hash (I guess) that had never been used before.

Nothing happened.. No 30 second phone call. No SMS.

I know that banks use behaviour analyses and "anomaly spotting" methods, but by definition, these cant be working very well. The logic isn’t hard to program to find most Phishing fraud:

If value of transaction is greater than x and recipient is new to the account and IP is new to the account then pause transaction and investigate.

Its not complex.


By killing the email link between bank and client and using simple rules based anomaly spotting with associated follow up I think that significant Phising could be sent to the past…

Humble Pie with extra Phish on the Side

You know how when your in prison and Yudda wants you to be his special friend? You know how you feel the morning after the night before, after…. Yudda Time?

That’s exactly how I feel right now. I just got phished by a Mr, or Mrs CHUKWUDI, to a not-insubstantial amount.

Now we all know phising goes on, but what makes this so bad is that I fell for it. I cant believe it! The transaction was stopped early and the cash is safe… but my ego is in tatters.

Even In this Blog I have come close to mocking the scare mongery, associated with such deceptions:

But now I am a victim.

So… I got the email from my bank, claiming that:

My Bank always look forward for the high security of our clients. Some customers have been receiving an email claiming to be from My Bank advising them to follow a link to what appear to be a My Bank s web site, where they are prompted to enter their personal Online Banking details. My Bank is in no way involved with this email and the web site does not belong to us…. Bla blab la…

Genius! I clicked the link and did as they said. OK, I was stupid, I was jet lagged, I didn’t think it could happen to me.

Dealing with Bank

I didn’t think about the mail as related to the Phising… it just didn’t occur.

I was thinking what to tell the bank. I felt confident that I had all the answers. "MY Details are protected by AES 256 Encryption using Open Source software that my company designed… there is no way… never stored on disk… blab la bla"…."

"..., have you had any emails concerning our bank account recently?"


Id like to end this post with a quote from a very dumb man:

"… phishing and fraud and identity theft … all of these threats are threats overcome not by comparing checksums but by not being stupid. If you really do think your long lost uncle Borris wants your paypal details so he can pay for some "lovely vases, very pricey" then I am not sure you should be online."

Quoted from the Salted Solution, Feb 04, reproduced with permission.

Prince Le Bon Jon Bon Jovi Show Me

I have spent the last 15 years trying to stay up with modern music. Chasing stuff that excited me in the same way as when I was 12 and first heard the Doors or 18 when I first heard KLF. Things have come close to the mark, some have passed it: primal scream, prodigy?

But so rare. Now extinct, to me.

If modern music is so bad what am I missing?

The obvious answer is that I am getting old.

I can handle that. My body is a nest for disease.


What excites today's 18 year old?

Is it what excited me?

What excites the new young rebels?

Can I get it on MP3?

Hotel Hot Hell

My hotel is situated just 2 minutes walk from the Sri Lankan office. This is its only plus side. Every other side faces hot dirty grey concrete… Its not even a bad hotel, in theory.

But aside from the lack of charm there is a far darker side to it. It isn’t the junkie beggars or the whores or air-con that only wants me to sleep in a cryogenic state. It isn’t the staff.

It’s the TV.

  1. I can handle BBC World, even if it is through a snow storm.
  2. I can handle the endless repeats about the violinist Vanessa Mae (But I would rather she didn’t)
  3. I can handle the occasional repeat about how nice Galatia is (It has better hotels than Colombo, it seems).

Where I draw the line is right about here:

When I came here first 2 or so weeks ago there was a channel that was showing tech shows. Stories on innovations and ideas from the world of technology. Yum Yum Wonderful. Right up my street. But as I watched these shows something was amiss.

A tech de ja vue. A premonition inverta. A schism in the continuum?

I watched the Quake 3 Championship, one of the most boring television times I had spent. I waited around to see the date of the show. 2001. A 4+ year old TV show about a 5+ year old game, this was just wrong. This couldn’t be. Please help me. There is one thing worse than dated game/tech shows and that is when they are on a channel called….



"The TV Channel is called NOW."

Please, spammers and hackers and governments and corporations of the world. Help me.

Help us.

I need lawyers spewing Cease and Desists, scripters pumping out DNS attacks. This vile blasphemy of anti-temporal televisual hypocrisy must be destroyed. Does anyone know how resilient Anthrax is to Tropical climes?

On a lighter and more current note, I just watched Spielberg’s “Munich” at the movies. It was pretty good. I missed the first ten mins bit but woooo, over-competitiveness in sport can be a terrible thing.

To my wife

In a tropical paradise

Starring at the sea

What steals the paradise

Is that it’s only me

Fresh Limed Papaya

Royal Thambili

What dulls my taste

Is that its only me.

Rattle of the waves

Hums of serendipity

What makes the notes so flat

Is that its only me.

Google Calender

Google Calander

I haven’t been blogging since I left home, but I have come out of the tropical wood work to say that Google Calendar is out.

I’m signed up and using from this hot hot 'net cafe.

Its looking great. Simple, fast (even on this line - ohhh... ajax baby) and looking pretty feature perfect.

The only downsides I can see with it so far are:

  1. It doesn’t seem to have tasks management, which surely every calendar should? At least any one I want to use.
  2. There is no way to export the calendar. This is essential to have faithful use.

Aside form being a good interface and functionality it has this potentially wondrous thing:

Natural language entry

AT LAST – For many things we need to do on computers text is just the fastest simplest and all round best way to do things. GCal is the first mainstream system I have seen to use this well. There is a little link “Quick Add” which brings up a text box…

“Call john tomorrow”

“Complete blab la bla by Tuesday”

“be in Acapulco by next week”

You enter these and it instantly works out what your saying and the event is created. This is so neat. If it doesn’t get what you mean (“Call john in one month”) it brings up the normal event entry box. Which is a good fall back.

I’m sure over time this feature will just get better and better.

Google Calendar I think will be huge. Holistically bigger than Gmail because they are bound to become entwined. Good tech. Good tech.

Back to the sun and the big fish.