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Freedom and Freeview: Digital Voices 05/04/12

Welcome to #digitalvoices for May 5, 2012. If you’re inspired to heave your pebble into the proverbial pond of online debate, follow the links with each story.

Scream by crosathorian/FlickrFast, faster, superfast, ultra-fast broadband – what do they mean?

Our breakdown of broadband speed terminology was intended to reduce confusion, but it’s already looking like a feature we’ll update more than once.

Tavistock Superfast Broadband (perhaps some sort of native Devonian name) pointed out: “As speed increases (for lucky people) I would like to change these descriptions change to superslow, slow, superfast, ultra-fast on so on. The essence of speed has now dropped out of anything other than superfast.”

Virgin TV pirates’ ringleader stripped of more than £7,000 in illegal earnings

One of our most popular stories concerns the TV pirates who were convicted of illegally distributing Virgin’s signals to thousands of customers, in cahoots with a Korean set-top box manufacturer.

The story has found Recombu Digital readers split between those who think TV and broadband is worth paying for and those who don’t.

Thomas Traynor said: “Both Virgin and Sky overcharge their customers. I can not wait until my 12-month contract expires so I can move on and save some money. As an OAP I really do feel ripped off.”

Fiat Money sees the story as a tale of our times: “Bleugh, society, is going to pot, stupid prices that cannot be justified, pirate away Ahamed, Virgin will have to put up prices to get the money back, WHAAAT? customers who wouldn’t have gone with Virgin, UNLESS it was ‘pirate’ prices, so how the fuck have they lost money, pure bollocks plain and simple, the fact that people pay to be brainwashed is the scary thing, pull your head outa your asses and see what is going on in the world as all your local stores close to be replaced with a hypertesco/asda/et al, fuck corporations, money and shareholders is their concern, not customer care, ie self service tills.”

He’s also declared war on both the humble paragraph and full stop.

Suttoner made the point that nothing is free – in a sweet little verse that won him seven likes:

“Freeview is not free
You have to pay for a Freeview box,
You have to pay for a TV aerial,
You have to pay for a TV Licence
You have to pay for the electricity to power the Freeview
Freeview is not free
Nothing is free!”

Happy Virgin Media customer Al O’Brien came in for some stick when he came to his broadband and TV provider’s defence:

Al said: “I pay Virgin £92 per month for phone, internet and TV and I think it it value for money!”

Still Alive slapped him down: “Al O’Brien is the typical British turkey that votes for Christmas and when the day comes cry like the pompous idiots that they are.

“I suppose he is one of those that would decry the BBC fee, a fraction for what these disgusting media companies charge for their tripe.

“The British seem to welcome being shafted left, right and centre, whilst the establishment, Police, media and politicians are as corrupt as any third world country. Wake up fools.”

Google: responsible parents not new laws will keep children safe online

It’s not easy being a parent – you want to keep your children safe from the worst of the world, and politicians are always playing on your fears to justify their actions.

The big question among ISPs now is whether websites deemed ‘unsafe’ for children should be censored automatically, and whether it will be effective.

A commenter calling themselves Concerned Parent might be expected to side with the censors, but they make a strong argument in a more liberal direction:

“Educating children is the key, not blanket censorship. You wouldn’t let your child use the oven without standing over them to ensure their safety – the same goes for the Internet. Before letting your kids play outside without you, you would tell inform them about the dangers of strangers – the same goes for the Internet.

“There are plenty of tools available which can help protect your children while online and it should be up to the parents to decide at what age they are mature enough to access what content (e.g. adult humour sites, teen agony aunt sites, sites concerned with puberty etc).

“These automatic filters get things wrong. I have seen Web sites for child safety products get wrongly blocked! They can be incredibly difficult (or impossible in some cases) to get them taken off the blacklists.

“What happens with biology websites when kids need to learn about human anatomy? Do they get blocked because their language and imagery is considered unsuitable for younger children? What about drug related sites – even educational ones explaining the risks? Will they be the next to get blocked in case they corrupt our children? And then you have the ones which might be pro or con abortion. If the big lobbyist groups kick up enough fuss about how they might affect the judgement of youngsters will they be blocked too?

“It is a VERY slippery slope we are heading down. I also do not like the confusion caused by ‘opting in’ to ‘turn off’ Internet filtering. Surely you should ‘opt out’ of automatic filtering? It is almost like it has been devised to confuse people.”

Welsh broadband activists declare war on trees

We’re sure Welsh broadband activist Richard Brown of Wispa was just trying to get attention when he suggested chopping down trees to get high speed connections into rural areas.

He clearly forgot that irony and metaphor can be alien concepts to the denizens of the internet, who often miss the point like a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers.

In evidence, we give you Keith Varnals: “It is the type of looney idea we English have come to expect from the Welsh. Keep waving your Daffodils and sucking your Leeks and leave technology to the civilised world.”

UK fails to make Akamai world top 100 as average speeds drop

Devonian internet speed fan Tavistock Superfast Broadband was back to comment on the UK’s failure to rate in a worldwide survey of broadband speeds:

“This will come at no surprise to the UK Superslow areas. What would be really annoying would be the average speed shooting by providing already superfast areas with ultra fast. It is just annoying that there is a UK Government plan to do just this. All round annoying…”

BT’s killer RABIT foils copper cable thieves

Details of a BT technology developed to reduce theft of copper cables have brought a few calls for the culprits to be lined up against a wall and shot, but few practical suggestion.

Dylann arrived this week with a suggestion from another country suffering the cable grief:

“Cable theft is a huge problem in South Africa. All cable is interwound with different coloured thread which identifies it as stolen and also the area where it has been stolen from. The thread cannot be removed without either unwinding it or melting it. Quite effective.”

TalkTalk cutting UK call centre jobs, creating 450 new jobs

The recession bit into the UK broadband business this week, as TalkTalk announced a reduction in its UK call centre staff – allegedly because it’s getting fewer customer calls.

One anonymous commenter suggested the deal is even worse than we thought for those on the inside: “The thing that spokesperson hasn’t told you is that the jobs in Preston are not for all staff, and Careline who have bought the Preston site are not planning on talking on all in employees from TalkTalk. The staff at the Preston call centre, except for cancellations, cease to exist unless the tech employees are willing to move to Calcutta. We have been left out in the cold and been told about the redundancies in the most ridiculous way.”

Image: crosathorian/Flickr