Monday, March 21, 2011

ICANN approve XXX, Domain Registrar In Line for $$$

ICANN have finally approved the controversial .xxx top level domain. Apparently all the porn on the Web is suddenly going to up sticks and move to this new domain. Whilst our jolly pornographers get to grips with that, lets take a moment to leave fantasy island and consider the real world implications of this move.

Who is the new TLD going to help? Will it help those of us trying to keep impressionable youngsters away from pornographic material? Not really. At Smoothwall we have been blocking this non-existent domain pretty much since we started making web content filters. It is not hard to do, but it certainly does not get you much traction. Most porn sites will keep their existing domains, and even if legislation eventually forces the US and EU sites to consolidate under .xxx, there's still the less salubrious porn sites whose owners are less than concerned about that sort of legal threat. Will it help the porn industry? Unlikely. It might lead to the odd fracas over a contested domain name, where two skin merchants try to muscle in on the same .xxx domain, having come from, say a .com and a .tv. No, the only people it will help are those selling domains, and the really unimaginative self-abusers who have a hard time finding porn (if this is you, please write in at the usual address).

Entertainingly, whilst we've been fannying around trying to find a new home for our hardcore, looking at pics of naked people has finally been relegated to second spot in the "internet usage highscore table". Yes, you guessed it, social networking, that digital white noise (that this blog almost certainly counts as), has overtaken porn in the UK web traffic stakes. I'm not sure what sort of a message this sends about our society as a whole. Idle chatter probably appeals to a wider demographic than the soon-to-be denizens of .xxx and is less likely to be blocked at web filter level, despite contributing to huge levels of timewasting in offices the world over. Maybe we should lobby for a "social notworking" tld - .poke? .trivial? .inane? .waste?

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's not technology, nor is it cricket - Homeserve nightmare

For the past two weeks we have been suffering two leaks caused by a Homeserve plumber. He fixed the original problem of a problematic flush, charged us £90 and gave us two free leaks.

A bit of history. We used to have our house serviced by Homeserve. They used to pop around once a year and spend a few mins doing the minimum work. The thing that really made us stop using them was one year the cowboy plumber checked a couple of things and then asked me to sign a form to say he had checked all the radiators. He had not even been upstairs!!! I asked him how he could have checked them without going to see them. He grunted and then checked them. We cancelled after that.

A few weeks ago our main bathroom toilet stopped flushing easily so my wife, without asking my advice, booked a plumber from Reactfast. He turned up in a Homeserve van. Oh dear I thought. I also thought "that guy looks familiar - is he the one who did a slack job of the radiators?"

He did a fairly quick job and showed me the toilet flushing easily and that he had replaced the cistern. Great.

Two days later, just before going to work, I noticed water coming out of the ceiling of the garage. This was not there when he was there as I would have noticed as I was doing a lot of work in the garage the same day he was breaking the toilet.

So we called Reactfast aka Homeserve again. A second different plumber turned up. He showed me how the first plumber had left the overflow pipe leaking and had fitted the float badly so it would get stuck. He ‘fixed’ it and left. He said the dripping would take a few days to stop.

Several days later the dripping was still going just as strong and the bathroom floor was now squelching with water coming between the tiles. So we called Reactfast aka Homeserve again. A third different plumber turned up. He showed me how the second plumber had left the overflow pipe leaking and removed it. He showed me that the first and second plumber should have removed the over flow pipe as the new cistern has an overflow built in. He said it was zero percent chance that it was not caused by the first plumber.

Five days later the dripping was still going albeit about half as strong. So we called Reactfast aka Homeserve again. A fourth different plumber turned up. He showed me how the third plumber had not spotted a leak under the tank behind the toilet. He replaced a rubber seal. Minutes later the dripping was almost gone.

For want of a working flush I have wasted time and effort and ended up with a ruined bathroom floor. Now I will have to go through all the time and effort getting my insurance company to argue with Homeserve’s liability insurance as to who’s fault it is. They already refused to send out a plumber “because it’s not an emergency”. Then when that is all done I will have to arrange people to come in and re-grout and fix any other damage which turns up.

Assuming of course this is the end of it.

I recommend never ever ever using Homeserve (or Reactfast). They clearly employ coyboy jobsworth useless plumbers.