Sunday, November 30, 2003

Nearly Christmas

It's not long away now and just goes to show how quickly this year has gone. I doubt I'll be getting large amounts of cash / presents now, as after about 21 they start to decline to small gifts!

I'm sure I'll buy myself something nice though, but what?

Post ID: 181, posted by jase at 10:48 PM
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Saturday, November 29, 2003

UK ADSL

It's good to see that more exchanges in areas that don't have a high user base, are finally meeting the demands to become upgraded. Just reading this article over at The Register, informed me.

I'm glad that I live in an area which was upgraded 2 years ago and I've had ADSL ever since it was first available.

Post ID: 180, posted by jase at 11:51 AM
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Friday, November 28, 2003

I want a Sun Fire 15K

It has been another good week, although I am happy to say I'm back home now. Over the next two weeks I'll be in Coventry at another Sun office, but since Coventry is near to me, I'll not need a hotel.

At some point soon I'll be back down in Surrey doing more courses, which will be good - more beer etc. Today, before coming home I went over to the Sun HQ not too far from Watchmoor Park and had a look round. Amongst it being a very nice building, I checked out a Sun Fire 15K server which is pretty meaty and costs 4 million - check out the specifications:

-----
* Number of processors: Up to 106 UltraSPARC III Cu 1.2-GHz processors.

* System Interconnect: 150 MHz Sun Fireplane redundant 18X18 data, address and response crossbar interconnect.

* CPU/Memory board: Up to 18 Uniboard CPU/Memory Boards, each holding 4 processors and up to 32 GB memory, providing up to 576 GB memory per domain, and common design across theb entire Sun Fire 3800-15K server family.

* MaxCPU Boards: Supports up to 17 MaxCPU boards, each with 2 processors.

* Redundant System Controllers: Automatic system failover of System Controllers, automatic failover of clock and management functions, with no service interruption to users.

* Availability: Full hardware redundancy, Hot Swap CPU, Memory, I/O, Power and Fans, Upgrades, Online upgrades, Journaling file system, Concurrent maintenance, Full data integrity, Redundant network connections, Redundant storage connections, Hardened operating system kernel, Hardened I/O drivers.

* Dynamic System Domains: Up to 18 fifth-generation Dynamic System Domains allow secure, fault-isolated, dynamic partitioning of resources within a single server.

* Operating System: Solaris 8 Operating Environment (10/01 or later)

* Power/Fan: Full redundancy of power and cooling systems
-----

You can do some serious number crunching with one of those. Actually, you could do even more if you got hold of one of the special units to allow linking of multiple Sunfire 15k's. I don't think they have been publically released yet as they are still under development, but there is one sitting next to the Sunfire 15k I saw earlier.

I also checked out the Sun Fire B1600 Blade Platform which is very nice. Also the brand new, not yet released Sun Blade 2500. I would have got some pictures, but since I was on a tour, did not really have time.

Some of the new kit is a lot better looking as well, some of it looking very nice to have on your desk. I'll have to see if I can get any discount!

Post ID: 179, posted by jase at 07:23 PM
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Thursday, November 27, 2003

Dreaming of The Matrix

Last night I had a strange dream, in that I met up with certain people that play characters in The Matrix. It wasn't like it was the Matrix as such. All I remember is that I met the sexy Monica Belluchi (Persephone) & "The French Man".

I can't remember any other details - strange.

Post ID: 178, posted by jase at 11:18 AM
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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Still playing

We're still playing around with various hardware and configurations. It's pretty good, the only problem of being down here for this long is that it is getting boring of a night as there is nothing to do apart from drink. Which is okay, but we've been doing it now every night this week and all last week.

The other thing is that I'm not able to get much Internet access, so updates are short and I'm not getting to read all the stuff I usually keep up to date with. I'll be back home on Friday and then in Coventry for two weeks, but I'll be sleeping at home then, no need for staying in a hotel miles away!

Post ID: 177, posted by jase at 02:49 PM
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Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Sun kit

So far yesterday and today we've been working our way through the Sun hardware range, starting off with the early Sparc's all the way through to the Sunblade 1000. We'll be checking our some newer models later in the week, some of which have just been released and won't be in real circulation yet.

It's interesting to see how the designs have changed through time. I must say I prefer the new models not only for their better specifications, but better layout as well. Obviously there are some differences compared to a PC, but not anything really major.

Post ID: 176, posted by jase at 03:07 PM
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Monday, November 24, 2003

Back in Camberley

I'm back in Camberley & I'm also not feeling too good, I think I've come down with something. I'll be looking forward to the end of the week when hopefully I'll be feeling better. I need to sort out the wireless text blogging when I get back.

I need to get a laptop, but that will have to wait.

Post ID: 174, posted by jase at 12:56 PM
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Sunday, November 23, 2003

More travel

I'm heading back to Surrey shortly, although I'm getting a lift this time so the mission won't be as bad. Although, it's going to be another 5 days of lots of food, drink and not much work.

See you on the other side...

Post ID: 173, posted by jase at 05:06 PM
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Saturday, November 22, 2003

Old Award BIOS

It seems that the old BIOS from 1996 in my P120 box doesn't support booting from all of the CD's I have tried, even though the settings are okay. The CD is read, because I get a nice message saying the CD could not be booted. The message is from Sun, as I was going to install Solaris 10. I've not got the BIOS version handy as I'm in another room. It should boot fine.

Looks like I'll have to make a boot disk instead - annoying!

Post ID: 172, posted by jase at 11:53 PM
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Friday, November 21, 2003

Back home!

I'm back home now, but only until Sunday night, or very early Monday as I'll be going back to Watchmoor Park all next week for another course. My hotel bill came to 348. Multiply that by the 10 of us that were there & then by 2 to include next week and that is quite a bit of money!

Then there is the course costs, 1800 per person for the first 5 days, I'm glad I'm not paying! The course was well devised and the instructor was also good. I'm just enjoying a rest now, you would not believe how hard it is spending all day on a course, and eating 3 meals a day which all contain starter, main course and desert. Add on top of that a large amount of beers and spirits and you get one tiring week!

I enjoyed it though and the same again next week!

Post ID: 171, posted by jase at 08:05 PM
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Thursday, November 20, 2003

ISS release appliance

ISS, who I'm sure you're aware of, have released their first hardware appliance. Well, actually there are a selection, all part of the Proventia G range. IDS products as far as network monitoring goes, just usually log attacks. Now it seems a transition is taking place where new products can help prevent attacks as well. A good combination of a hardware and software solution will be a good addition to any security policy.

I'm not aware of anyone using one of these ISS devices, but I'm sure some reviews will appear soon.
A new toy to play with, if you will.

Post ID: 170, posted by jase at 01:47 PM
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Beans

I think we all need to cut down on the beans during next week. As they appear to be causing increased output of gas from certain people.

I'm eating loads, I can't handle it!

Post ID: 169, posted by jase at 04:23 PM
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

All this food

I'm eating loads, enjoying all the free food. It always tastes better when it is free!

Post ID: 167, posted by jase at 01:34 PM
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Monday, November 17, 2003

Training

I'm now down in Camberley at the Sun training site. After a mad trip down here this morning, I'm currently on lunch so I thought I'd let you know that I got here okay.

I don't like the layout of these Sun keyboards - the back space key is far too small for a start, but at least there is free Internet access on site.

There are 10 people on the course including me, with varied skills. Some people with no *NIX skills or experience at all through to people with more of a clue. Anyway, it will be fun and I should learn some things, as will everyone.

As long as I pass the exams, I'll be happy!

This week I'm doing Solaris 9 System Administration, Part 1.

Back to learning I go...

Post ID: 166, posted by jase at 01:23 PM
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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Made it back!

The night was good. Got out of Turnmills at 6am when it finished and then just chilled in a 24/7 cafe near to the club. Got one of the first trains back to Euston, but then had a mission by coach to Northampton then by train back to Birmingham International.

It would usually be a lot quicker and easier to get home, but because of the weekend work that is being done to the West Coast Main Line, most national train routes are delayed and re-routed.

I've just checked the best way to get to Surrey, it'll probably take about 2.5 hours and 3 train trips. I'm going there all week to Sun's HQ in the UK, to do some training for my new job. I am down there the week after at least, also doing training. It should be good, hotel and food is all paid for (of course). I just hope I don't get bored on the nights - I'm sure I'll sort something out though. I'll keep you posted as the days go by...

Post ID: 165, posted by jase at 11:35 PM
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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Off to London

Well, I'm about to leave to head to London. I'm going for the night, to go out on the town, heading to Turnmills for City Loud. Should be a good night. I should really stay down there after, as I've got to head back down again anyway. But I thought I would rather come home straight after, get some sleep, get all my stuff ready and then head back.

I shall explain more tomorrow, I've not got time now.

Post ID: 164, posted by jase at 05:02 PM
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Friday, November 14, 2003

Plan went out the window

I was intending on doing some various things today, both technical stuff and non technical. But for some reason even though I went to bed quite early last night (Ok, about 1am) I stayed in bed for most of the day today, even though I did not need to.

Since I've got some trips coming up, I think I'll get some sleep now. I'll inform you about what's coming up, tomorrow...

Post ID: 163, posted by jase at 11:55 PM
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Thursday, November 13, 2003

Gentoo with 2.6 kernel

The Gentoo Linux Project have now released versions that use the 2.6 kernel but at the moment only for x86 and AMD64 based processors. I'll be looking forward to trying it to see if it picks up my SATA drive. It should do, but there may be issues from what I've been reading around.

I'll probably have a play tomorrow. Lets hope 2.6 is out the door pretty soon!

Post ID: 162, posted by jase at 11:11 PM
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Google & IRC

You might have seen the various reports around at the moment that Google is playing about on IRC. I just read an interesting post by Dan on his blog which indicates that Googlebot might be getting data from the Toolbar that you may run.

More tests will have to be done, it would be nice to find a list of channels the bot is joining & on what networks. Aside from indexing chat, it's more likely that it's looking for URL's to crawl.

Time will tell.

Post ID: 161, posted by jase at 11:30 PM
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A UN run Internet - No thanks!

I don't like the idea of any organisation or company running the Internet.

Of course I doubt this will ever happen, but as time goes by I'm sure there will be more censorship taking place. The goal is to ensure that this is not taken too far. On the other hand, we all know how hard it would be to undertake censorship of information - even C&D orders these days don't hold much weight. The content would just be moved somewhere else.

It's another fine example of Governments trying to control something which they cannot control, what gives them the right?

Specifically, it is down to power. Certain people and Governments want more. Let us ensure this does not happen - ever.

Post ID: 160, posted by jase at 11:13 PM
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The Helix Loaded

I came over The Helix Loaded the other day, although I can't remember where I saw the link. Watching the trailer on there at the moment, this could be quite a good spoof series. I've not yet seen anything for Reloaded or Revolutions like the The Martix Bastardization, or better quality second edition here.

I'm sure they will come, given time.

Post ID: 159, posted by jase at 10:11 PM
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

New Sony audio CD copy protection

Just reading an article over at The Register about a new scheme that Sony has devised. I'm glad they understand that these systems are always quite easily beaten. Simply because like stated in the matrix:

"there is no action without consequence - cause and effect"

In this context it simply means create protection, it shall be broken. Reverse Engineering software can be as much fun and as much of a challenge as development in the first place!

Post ID: 158, posted by jase at 10:24 PM
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Monday, November 10, 2003

It's all about safety?

I don't think renaming speed cameras (to Safety Cameras) will make them more effective than they currently are or not, depending on how you view them. I don't think they work well, all they do is cause people to slow down and speed back up after they have been passed.

I know what they do cause - rage - especially within some people, they decide to blow up or otherwise destroy a camera either because it took a picture of the said driver in question speeding or in some cases, did not.

Spend time & resources on real issues, you Government muppets!

Post ID: 157, posted by jase at 11:28 PM
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Sunday, November 9, 2003

Bleh

I drank a meduim size bottle of Vodka just now whilst out up town, but I didn't even know until after how much. I think I'm just going to sleep. I'll be back later...

Post ID: 155, posted by jase at 11:17 PM
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Saturday, November 8, 2003

I just wondered why...

I did not learn to drive sooner. I've just walked from the station and it's freezing cold, especially since it is a clear night in the sky. At least I'm learning now!

Post ID: 154, posted by jase at 11:55 PM
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Friday, November 7, 2003

The Matrix Revolutions

I've not seen it yet, but from some of the reports I've read - a lot of people are not impressed. Maybe it's because it leaves things open ended? Maybe the fact that this was meant to be the final film, was all part of the plot to get people excited about the prospect of a fourth film.

Who knows. I'll give you my verdict shortly when I go and see it, probably in the next few days.

UPDATE: 09/11/2003

I went to see the film last night. After reading some of the reports previously before going to watch it, I was wondering if the opinions that people have are justified. To be honest I think some of them are a bit harsh. It's usually the way with a trilogy, that by the time the third film is around, you may be bored or expecting too much, since the story line might already be dead.

Overall I thought the CGI was as good as usual but the cinema I went to, the sound wasn't too good there so that was a bit annoying. It was nice to see the sun above all the dark skies. What I was wondering though, was at the end when the Sun comes up, that is in the Matrix - so what about in the real world?

Some things like that have been left opened and unexplained.

What happens to Neo? There are more questions people are asking. I think I'll go read some more reports now I have seen it. There isn't going to be a 4th film, or is there?

I wasn't left confused through this film, but I did notice a few things. Like, why is Persephone back with the Merovingian? Overall I thought it was pretty good, although sometimes you are always going to expect more from the ending.

Maybe there will be another film, I would like to think so!

Post ID: 150, posted by jase at 06:34 PM
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Thursday, November 6, 2003

Limiting bandwidth to applications

I use a few different P2P applications on my Windows box. Most of them have the option of limiting outgoing bandwidth. In some cases people will abuse this and use silly values, so when you download from them it is too slow.

BitTorrent combats this by making the download rate proportional to the upload rate. The problem people like me face, on UK ADSL conections is that the applications that don't allow limiting of outgoing bandwidth can cause real problems when trying to do anything else when people are downloading from you.

For example, the DC++ client doesn't have upload limiting, although because the source is available you can add support on your own. There are also a few modified clients publically available which already have this functionality and more.

I suppose in one respect it is good that the functionality is not included, so people won't be restricting their upload speeds for no reason. But for a lot of people, this will be needed. I have 2 megabit downstream & 256k upstream. When running DC++ as an example, I could be uploading to 1 user at circa 30k/sec which is using all of my upstream bandwidth. Slow web browsing, slow anything!

Instead of using a modified DC++ client I decided to use an external program called Netlimiter, which is transparent. It appears to be working well. Now I can use DC Hubs with DC++ and not worry about it eating all the upstream bandwidth. In fact, you can limit any program & schedule certain times when they are limited.

Obviously there are other methods of restricting bandwidth use, via hardware - but for this kind of scenario, a simple application can do the trick.

I have a contention of 20:1, which is the contention I have with Demon on the Home Gateway (L2TP termination point). Currently BT are not contending anyone on their Permanent Virtual Connections, but once there are enough ADSL users to start causing issues on BT's ATM network, they will contend the PVC's as well. So in effect, we will be contended twice!

If we took away the voice factor, there would be room to increase upstream bandwidth & or downstream. I can get 230k/sec down at the moment, I'd like some more! But the problem is finding people that can deliver even this much upstream. Doesn't happen that often, unless you find people on leased lines with 1:1.

We'll see how it unfolds, in the future...

Post ID: 149, posted by jase at 07:32 PM
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Exploding Nokia handsets

First I have heard of this kind of thing, but it certainly made me laugh reading this story. Using an unsupported battery from a third party company was said to be blamed, but still, I wouldn't expect my walkman to explode by using unsupported batteries.

So now you don't even need any explosives!

Post ID: 148, posted by jase at 06:26 PM
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Wednesday, November 5, 2003

WorldPay DDOS

It seems WorldPay want to get their services back online, more than they want to trace the attack. Usually, you would need to at least identify where the attacks are coming from, so they can be blocked upstream.

The site seems available now, but for how long?

Post ID: 147, posted by jase at 06:24 PM
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Wardialling to Wardriving, now Bluejacking!

Just reading this story over on The Register, about Bluejacking. It seems that there is increasing numbers of people sending messages to other Bluetooth enabled devices that have been detected locally to the person looking for devices.

This could become annoying. In fact, since there are so many devices becoming Bluetooth enabled, it could be an open invitation for people wanting to send out spam. Picture a bit of software running on a PDA with Bluetooth, scanning the local area for other devices and sending messages to them automatically, promoting websites and other things.

It could also be fun, sending messages to randoms and watching their expressions. Check out Bluejackq.com. This reminds me of the popup spam you usually receive these days if you have the Message Service running on your Internet connected Windows boxes. You can easily stop that, disable the service (MS are to do this in future Windows releases / updates).

It might be worth turning off Bluetooth when not needed, if this craze takes off.

Check out the Slashdot discussion.

Post ID: 146, posted by jase at 06:02 PM
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No sir, Redhat Linux is already dead

If it wasn't enough that Novell has purchased Suse, Redhat have recently announced they are to terminate Redhat Linux as we know it. That's right. But before you faint, it's not going to be that bad. It appears Redhat want to concentrate on Redhat Enterprise & Fedora.

No doubt essentially it will be the same product, only you're going to have to pay for it. Maybe we'll see something like WS is limited to 10 users & if you want more you're going to have to upgrade to AS or buy a license, for example. On the flip side, that won't work with open source software as you could get a patch very easily.

Since Redhat has gained popularity, costs rise and so they need to cover them. Charging for the products and support is the only feasible way of doing this. Hence, for the corporate there is Redhat Enterprise Linux and the free alternative Fedora.

Enterprise is split into 3 products:

* WS for desktops / client systems, basic & standard editions.
* ES for small / mid range servers, basic & standard editions.
* AS for mission critical servers, basic & standard editions.

Since Linux is generally classed as free, it may appear to a lot of people using Redhat at the moment like RH is going all commercial. Regardless, I'm sure the ISO's will be available for download anyway, so it's not that bad.

Although I didn't think I would see the BSA going after a person or business for using pirated / unlicensed copies of any Linux distribution. Maybe I will now.

Post ID: 145, posted by jase at 05:22 PM
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Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Happy birthday, to me!

It's my birthday today. I've turned 22. I wouldn't mind staying 21 though, but making the transition over to 22 has been easy. I'll enjoy it even more than 21, that is the plan anyway.

I'm sure I'll pull it off, I've increased the fun factor every year since I can remember.

Woohoo!

Time to have a mad one this weekend I think. Mind you, most of my weekends are mad anyway...

Post ID: 144, posted by jase at 07:39 PM
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Monday, November 3, 2003

Apache: mod_security

Just reading Ben's Thought Crimes, I noticed his post about mod_security for Apache. There were recently some security problems with this but they have now been fixed. Seems like a good idea and an addition to any conventional IDS, like Tripwire for example. It's interesting to see how many Windows vulnerabilities (http based, etc) are tried on *nix servers & also how many old exploits are still tried. The random scanning and trying of exploits by various tools on systems continues, so http based IDS has a market there.

Post ID: 141, posted by jase at 10:39 PM
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Sunday, November 2, 2003

Spilt Vodka

They talk about spilt milk, but in my case this time it's spilt Vodka. I was just in the process of pouring Vodka in my glass full of cola, but I totally missed the glass and poured all over the OpenBSD box right next to the table.

Typical.

Luckily, although the box sits in a cube style case, nothing got inside and I quickly wiped it all up.

It could only happen to me!

Post ID: 140, posted by jase at 06:26 PM
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Saturday, November 1, 2003

OpenBSD 3.4

OpenBSD 3.4 was due for release today, November 1st, but it has been released a little earlier. There are some major changes and improvements along with 3.4, especially with regards, as usual - to security, which include:

* Privilege separation implemented for syslogd.

* ProPolice stack protection enabled in the Kernel.

* A static bounds checker added to the compiler to perform checks on functions which accept buffers & sizes.

* Unsafe string functions have been removed from the Kernel & userland utilities.

* Privilege separation implemented in the X server.

And a whole lot more. As for new features and support, well hardware support has of course been improved, the man pages have been updated and improved, read only support for NTFS file systems & more. Check here for the full list. Don't forget to also check the Errata & Security pages.

I'm running OpenBSD on two servers and have been using it since release 2.5. It's a nice stable OS with a strong view towards security, which is what I like. The only real way your sites are going to get defaced or the servers compromised and backdoored, is if you misconfigure something very badly. Otherwise, you've not got to worry - as it's secure by default.

Time to upgrade shortly and experience all the new stuff!

Post ID: 139, posted by jase at 08:53 PM
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Microsoft to eat Google - Alive!

Word on the street is that Microsoft and Google are to form an alliance. If this is true and in what context this alliance would form, I don't know what to think. I suppose it could be good, then again, MS might just buy Google and convert it to its way of working. Or float it on the stock marktet? Keep things the way they are? We'll have to wait and see as things unfold. Then we can have more informed opinions about the issue.

One thing is for sure, Google doesn't want the fate that Netscape had.

Post ID: 138, posted by jase at 06:31 AM
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Cliff Stanford, director turned criminal

It seems that Cliff Stanford, who founded Demon Internet (my ISP) & got 33 million for it when he sold it to Thus PLC in 1998, has been arrested over claims that he has gained unauthorized access into the network of Redbus Interhouse & or redirected mail destined for people there, to a Hotmail address. It appears he has since sold his shares in the company recently.

I find this hard to believe, I think a man which so much money would have a lot of better things to do, for a start. And why risk doing something as trivial as redirecting mail? If you wanted to do something, there are a lot of better things that could have been done. Anyway, as always with these types of case, he probably won't get charged and the case will be dropped.

If they are scared of people reading their mail, they should at least use PGP - they obviously are not that bothered about people looking at their mail!

Post ID: 137, posted by jase at 06:02 AM
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