25th of April 2003
Well that next batch of FUN2 and FUN6 cards in the end arrived on Wednesday (23rd), which was a day later than what I expected. This I guess was due to this delivery service having a backlog to deal with due to this holiday, when this package was dispatched from Germany all of six days previously.
Since everything is now in stock, then there is not much else to say, but I can think of a few things.
The first of these is that soon I will have my U.S based USD account, when it is now just a question of doing the paperwork and sending off the payment. This bank account is of course needed to obtain optimal use of my new PayPal payment option, which is not yet on-line, but should be when everything is complete. Still if anyone wants to pay me their US Dollars using this method, then they only have to ask me for the details.
Now the second thing is that on the 8th of May the postal rates will change, which just means a lot of work for me in updating my postal calculation formulas. However, I have recently discovered that my International Recorded option is being replaced by a new method.
I presume this means having to pay more, but adding £2.60 to the postal cost just to have it recorded already seems on the steep side, when the recorded option for the UK just costs £0.63 more. So the current International recorded cost is four time the UK cost and twice would I would have expected.
Well, as I have not yet looked into the system that is replacing that one, then in early May I will pull out all the details and adjust my order forms.
The only other thing coming up soon is taxes, where this next VAT return will be the first on-time one since the third quarter of 2001. This is due to No3A dealing with this order form entry at the weekend, where all I have to do now is to check it over and enter the remaining invoices.
Due to my purchase of the new Magic CAMs v1.04 near the end of last month, then I have a feeling that they will owe me a tax refund again. Well I will have to see if that is the case, but these days it goes that they pay me one month, then I pay them the next month, and so on.
Since the VAT is now dealt with, then it is on to sorting out the Income Tax, where my final payment very soon will have what they want me to pay sorted out. I am also working on my Income Tax returns, which is going slowly due to being down one worker, but as I now have three VAT Returns right here (2000-2001, 2001-2002 and now 2002-2003), then these are starting to get seriously overdue.
Well I should get the oldest one completed very soon, but as certain companies are not providing my requested invoices, then the data is not yet complete to do even that.
Then I just have to decode this tax form, when even after reading all the descriptions I am still left wondering questions like "What column does stock go in?". Since I am an intelligent person, then obviously their tax form is more complex than what it should be, but even if I have to fudge it together I will soon get it completed.
And after this they will be owing me a large refund no doubt, lacking any interest on this figure I would expect.
These people at the Inland Revenue are the most greedy people that I have ever seen, when they send you a bill for the amount due, you pay the bill, but then they go and send you a second bill for "interest" on this figure for the few days between when they issued this bill and when you paid it. I guess that also explains why my request for an estimate before this tax is due does not produce one, when once they get around to it months later, then a lot of interest is added to this unpaid amount.
And I have a strong feeling that apart from interest on this "loan" to them, then it would be a real hard fight to claim back their interest charged on the amount that they were not owed.
In any case when I sue FACT later this year it will all work out, when never before this event in November of 2001 did I ever submit a tax return form late. Still that is what happens when they borrow my accounts for seven months and refuse to share them.
Well once I have got these final tax forms sorted out, then it is into stage two, where I will figure out an exact end total as to the damages that they caused. Then it is on to stage three, where I get my solicitor to sue them armed with these facts, where without doubt one day they will pay me a sum equal to tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages.
And even now a year and a half later I am still very annoyed (in fact make that "angry") at them for the false claim that they made to try and justify this false raid on my business and their clear attempts to cause as much damage as was possible. Damage they certainly caused, lost their case they did (I had no doubt about that, when their initial claim was so false that it could be considered laughable), where sure enough it is now just a matter of time before I bill them for damages, where if they do not pay, then I sue them in court and they end up paying an extra £50,000 in legal costs as well.
So it is sure to soon be fun when FACT will now get to suffer instead, but if they are wise they may just pay up without fuss. This in the end will teach them for messing with the wrong supplier, when I well know the law and follow it. That they found out the hard way, which is why they snuck back my stuff without warning one day.
Excluding my old Irdeto AllCAM of course, when I clearly remember them taking this CAM and not returning it, even if oddly enough they did return the test card that was contained from within it. That made me have to buy an Irdeto FreeCAM to replace it, but my billing them for this CAM could soon have it turn up.
I will have to stop keep thinking about FACT, when they still make me angry for what they did and depressed over the problems that they caused. Still, as dealing with this Income Tax is the final one of their created problems to clean up, then thinking about why my tax forms are very late makes that unavoidable.
In over one thousand different ways they caused damage to my business, where soon stage two begins and a get to catalogue each and every one of them.
18th of April 2003
As you can see from my Cables (Video/Audio) page I have now put my two new cables on-line.
The first of these is the new PAV10 Composite Video + Stereo Audio Phono Plug to Plug cable, which naturally is within the same family as the very long PAV25 cable. Since I have run this PAV10 cable through my scanner, cleaned and resized this scan, then after the upload the missing photo for this cable family is now on-line. That would have been done long ago, when I first got the PAV25 cable, except that my scanner has been out of action for a couple of month, due to my oversight in using the wrong power adapter.
The second new cable is the one I now call SPAVIO, where this cool sounding word really stands for Scart to Phono Audio+Video Input / Output cable. It was only after I created that new ordering code yesterday, during my News page update, did I realised that one of usually boring ordering codes sounded quite cool. Well that is a rare exception, when lets see you trying to say the SJPPP ordering code.
Anyway, since the 'Spavio' is a technically interesting cable, then I would recommend checking out the details on my Cables (Video/Audio) page.
Since I mentioned very recently that my scanner is now working again, then I believe that the scan of this new cable could be my best scan so far. I am mostly pleased about the colouring on this photo, when since this is a colourful cable, then my aim at highlighting this natural colour seems to have came out well. And I would recommend clicking on the photo to bring up the big version to see what I mean.
The big problem with these scans is highlighted by the new PAV10 photo, when in order to avoid a dark picture due to the increased depth to the background, then a stronger light from the scanner needs to be used. And the side-effect of this stronger scan, as seen in this PAV10 photo, is that the plugs in the foreground get over exposed.
Since, due to trying to avoid my site's monthly bandwidth from exceeding one gigabyte, then I am now reducing my number of photos to one per family. And of course the best one to use will always be the smallest cable, when the less distance to the background equals a better foreground.
On my SPAVIO cable things came out well mostly due to this cable's short length of just 1.5 meters. So when I aimed to bring out the colour the background was still near enough to avoid the picture from looking too dark.
As mentioned I am trying to reduce my used hosting bandwidth, when with all these on-site photos it can get high at times. That is why today I removed more photos than what I added, when I now no longer see the need for showing multiple photos of the same item, except that each following photo has a longer lead and slightly worse photo.
The other thing I am doing to reduce bandwidth is to keep all the large version photos within a 800 by 600 window, when that avoids the photos getting too large. Previously I used a keep it in 800 width with no concern about the length, but for say a boring SVIDx photo that made for a very long length. And as I have already seen today the file size drops to just one third when fitting these old photo in a 800 by 600 window.
Apart from cleaning up these old scans a little (they were the first direct scans I did with my then new scanner, when I still had a lot of learning to do), then the final thing I did was just to move these new single photos to the top.
As you can see I still have to sort out the Digital Optical and Coaxial cables, when both of those sections are still showing the old photo per item method.
I will do the Digital Optical cable as soon as I have sold the last of the TOS1, when it is no good showing one photo for two different models. The Digital Coaxial cables I will no doubt do at the same time, but I may look into doing a better scan of that one first.
There is no real rush to do any of that though, when there are plenty of other pages more in need of an update.
Well my order forms now tell me that I am now offering a total of 115 items, even if 4 codes out of that 115 is for CAM repair, but if my business continues to have problem free expansion, then I have to keep a watch on the bandwidth.
The final thing that I will mention is that as my restocking order of FUN2 and FUN6 cards left my supplier yesterday, then we now have extremely good odds that this next batch of cards will be with me on Tuesday. Had it not been a public holiday, then they would have been with me today, but due to four days public holiday for Easter and the weekend, then Tuesday makes for the next delivery day.
Anyway, when that box arrives, then every single item that I sell will be in stock once again.
Well I guess I should finish up by saying "Happy Easter", but of course this makes a good time for me in improving my site.
17th of April 2003
Today I have just completed the testing of every single one of my new v1.04 CAMs in order to make sure that they work fine with the latest Pentacrypt v1.10 and v1.11 firmware. This certainly took a very long time flashing all these CAMs, testing them and reflashing them again, but the good news is that every CAM passed my tough testing without a single CAM death.
This of course follows the fact that on the 1st of this month a time-bomb feature in the v1.10 and v1.11 official Pentacrypt firmware activated. This was intended to knock out clones of the Magic CAM, but it had some undesirable side effects.
The top one of these is that the v1.10 hacked and patched all CAMs version by DecentCriminal triggered Ushtar's CRC checking section, which as a result caused every single CAM without exception that was flashed with this unofficial firmware to die from bootloader death. That I guess provides a good reminder about the dangerous of using unofficial firmware, even if Ushtar seems mostly to blame.
Moving on to the official firmware, then this one went about targeting all the clones, where warranty-voided and badly upgraded official CAMs got mixed up in this mess.
The end conclusion for the many hundreds of Magic CAMs that I have already supplied in the v1.02 and v1.03 hardware versions is that so far none seem to have died from using the official firmware. Like with all other suppliers some of my CAMs died from using the hacked firmware, but there was nothing that could be done about that.
There is one case that could be the sole exception, but as I will have to look at this CAM myself before knowing for sure as to what killed it, then given the odds it is unlikely to have died as is claimed. Still I will be investigating this matter to be totally sure.
So in the end I would class the number of my CAM fatalities as "light", when considering the number of CAMs that I have supplied, then very few did actually die. Maybe this was due to my supplied instructions pointing out the dangerous of using unofficial firmware and where my customers should obtain official firmware from, but then maybe they just never got around to it.
Anyway, after many days of testing I can now confirm that anyone buying one of my v1.04 CAMs won't be having any problems with the v1.10 and v1.11 official firmware, when I have just personally tested them all to ensure that fact.
However, at the current time I will still be shipping my v1.04 CAMs flashed with the v1.09 firmware, where I guess you have to wonder why this is. The answer to that is "caution". As although every single one of my as supplied CAMs for all time did not die from the official v1.11 firmware (v1.10 is not an option for v1.02 and v1.03 CAMs), then the problem is that Ushtar is not currently saying anything about the safety of his current and future firmware.
For that reason we simply do not know what else it can do. As for example is there going to be a second and more damaging time bomb?
Also at this point I should point out that you should not trust other Magic CAM (and clone CAM) suppliers who say that it is perfectly safe to use v1.11 on their supplied CAMs, when the fact is that they do not know this for sure themselves. Only Ushtar can say that for sure and he is not talking, where the other person who knows this firmware (DecentCriminal) has already mentioned that there is more to this firmware than that already seen.
So what these suppliers are doing is simply to protect their sales, when sure enough this event has caused a drop in sales. That is what commercial suppliers do, but as my business does not do things for money reasons, then so I will tell you the truth in that the v1.11 firmware still carries a risk.
Now before I worry you, then I should point out that this risk is just a small one, when I believe we have already seen what to expect. That is why on the 3rd of next month I will switch to supplying my CAMs flashed with the latest v1.11 firmware.
The reason for this date is that if this v1.11 firmware is ever going to do something else, then the 1st of next month is the best time to do it. So if this date passes without event for my CAMs, then apart from using the v1.11 firmware myself I would give my customers the green light to use it. So as we are still within the very month when lots of CAMs came under attack, then it is best to be cautious before sounding the all clear.
When I start using the v1.11 firmware of course for legal reasons I have to disable the built in Conax decryption, where the easiest and best way to do this is just to remove the 256 byte long CD key. That I did today, where my testing has highlighted that all my supplied CAM versions worked fine using this firmware, when this firmware allows for changing of the key.
So with this change I can now make use of this firmware and to finally be able to list Conax cards in my supported system list.
Anyway, I will be pleased when the 3rd arrives and I see that this firmware has already done its work. And of course if you want a CAM that can work perfectly fine with the latest Pentacrypt firmware, then I have just spent days testing all mine to say that they do.
One thing I should mention before I forget is that it is now unlikely that bootloader repair software will be released, or at least by Dream Multimedia, when it seems that any bootloader fix will be limited to a paid option. This I do not believe reflects well on Dream Multimedia, when lets not forget that it was Ushtars and not DecentCriminals code in the v1.10 hacked firmware that killed all those official CAMs.
Moving on, then since my FUN2 and FUN6 wafer card stock expired a short time ago, then I can say that new stock will be here very soon. When exactly is a good question, when since it is Easter this weekend, then public holidays results in days of no delivery.
Delivery today is possible, but unlikely. Delivery tomorrow won't happen due to it being a public holiday (Good Friday). Delivery on Easter Monday won't happen either, which means that Tuesday is the next delivery date. Still, given all these days that the delivery services are not working, then these cards could well be here on Wednesday.
You cannot to much about public holidays I guess, but for a supplier like myself you have to be aware of other countries holidays as well. When for example I remember a few years ago when my Gold cards were being held up due to the Chinese New Year.
Some good news is that I had two new items turn up yesterday, which are the PAV10 (in the same group as the PAV25) and one that I have yet to decide an ordering code for. I did think about calling it PAVIO, but then remembered that this code could be confused with the also new PAV10.
So at that point I decided to swap it around to become IOPAV, but have also now remember that this code lacks S for Scart. And as I am thinking up a new ordering code right at this second, then unless I soon change my mind, then SPAVIO seems ideal (SPAVIO = Scart to Phono Audio + Video, Input / Output),
Anyway, should I find the time to run these two items through my scanner and get these pictures edited and uploaded, then so can you soon read all about at look at that new cable.
Since I already have lots to do, then I guess that is more likely to happen tomorrow.
10th of April 2003
Well since my first batch of CAMs due for v1.04 upgrade are currently pending factory modification, then there has been some bad news.
This is all news to me as well, but it seems that they take a very dim view towards what they call "damaged" CAMs, where as this use of the word "damage" goes beyond my normal definition of the word, then what they mean are opened CAMs and modified CAMs.
The first good news out of this is that they are willing to upgrade such CAMs as well, which in their view is quite a generous offer to start with, but the end result of this is that it is going to cost more. And as this price increase is not a small one, then this upgrade cost is a matter that I am currently discussing with them, which is naturally backed up by my good logic pointing out that apart from a dead bootloader then these CAMs are still fully functional.
Or at least I hope they are, when I have had to reassemble the CAM covers for more than one CAM today. As right at this moment I feel that this former DIY pins 8+9 upgrade lacked one key detail, which was how to seal that sucker of a case back down.
More good news is that 50% of this first batch of CAMs has passed the inspection, even if the other 50% did fail. When sure enough most of my customers have been looking after their CAMs and decided not to see what the insides look like.
Well as mentioned I am seeing what I can do to get a more favourable price out of them, but since this is a question of pay or no upgrade, then there is not much that I can do about it. And the truth is that I am already cutting my own throat with my prices, when apart from what I have had to pay for upgrade cost myself, then just about all the rest of the funds is spend on postage.
Anyway, I am seeing what I can do, but the end result is not good news. Well unless you consider the well built v1.04 CAM that comes out the other end, when considering the shape of some of these CAMs that would be good news. Still I guess there is a point, which is if people go about doing hardware modifications, then neither hardware manufacturers or suppliers will want to deal with that hardware again.
Moving on to another subject, then today I verified my PayPal account, where sure enough that four-digit number did pop up in my on-line bank account. This means that I only have to spend $250 in one purchase through PayPal in order to receive my $5 reward. I have a feeling that it is going to take a little while to complete that last stage in getting my free $5, but hey it is free money after all.
Also since I am in a good mood, then if anyone wants to pay for their order in USD and desires to pay me through PayPal, then just ask for the details. After all if I have some money building up in this account, then that gives me an extra reason to find a bank account to put it in.
As of today the idea of getting a USD account through my existing bank of Citibank has been terminated. As apparently their great system to move funds for free between my U.S based USD account and UK based USD account does not actually exist yet. And since they are also unable to say when it will exist, then it is no good to me if that very system won't come on-line for like years to come.
Sure, I could always write myself a check, but I can also do that with another bank that won't insist that I keep like $3500 in their account.
So as soon as I finish writing this and uploading it, then I am going bank account hunting. A cost free account and check book and debit card are a must, on-line account and international user support are vital too, where the cherry on the cake would be free wire transfers to to my existing USD account. All about moving money about without charge, where of course currency conversion is a big no-no.
This should hopefully not take too long, where I did recall seeing one bank aiming accounts at international customers for PayPal use some time ago. I did not look into it much at the time, where all I recall was a section like "You transfer $xxx into your account and we will send you a cheque book". Well that will be my first place to try and rediscover (I wonder if I made a bookmark?), when now is time to get me a U.S based used account.
Hopefully within a few days I can report that stage is completed, where it will then take a few more days to get it on-line. Anyway, as mentioned for those people already owning a PayPal account, then I now accept that payment method. Just ask for details.
9th of April 2003
I see that EvoCash are changing their payment gateway to a new system that they call EvoSwift. Since I have not looked into this much yet, then I will soon have to play with it, but after a quick test at least their old system in still working. Well as their old system will one day cease to work no doubt, then apart from playing with it I will eventually have to get my site to use it.
I am presuming that they are following their rival's lead in a method for signing up more new customers. Since NoChex has recently gone through that change as well, then this involves paying a supplier like myself one easy payment, where you also end up with one new account out of it.
As that is only an assumption, then I will soon see if it is true.
My support for the next on-line payment system of PayPal is proceeding along at full speed, where today I have been starting to ponder obtaining a new USD bank account in the U.S.
Now my current bank of Citibank did offer me one of their own U.S based accounts, seeing that it is impossible to do what I want with my USD account in the UK. Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling that I would have to keep like $3500 in this account to avoid bank charges, where as I already have to do something like that for my existing Citibank accounts, then I do not wish to have to do this a second time.
After all money is for spending and not for having it hang around just to avoid charges.
So it looks like I will need a U.S based account that is charge free, provides a check book and ATM/Debit card, but I guess free transfers between U.S banks would provide a perfect account. In other words I need to move my USD funds between my two USD accounts, which would be in the U.S and U.K. One trick that my current USD account can do is that people can transfer money to a bank in New York in the U.S, but of course PayPal is too inflexible to work with that system.
That of course makes such a new transfer tricky, when my U.K based USD account actually comes with three account levels. And as a few of my customers have found out if not all three accounts details are specified on the transfer, then the money ends up in the wrong account and quickly bounced back to the customer.
Well as long as I get a check book, then at worst this funds transfer would take three weeks for my own check to cash.
Back on the PayPal subject, then I am just waiting for my on-line bank account to update, which will hopefully reveal the four digit number that PayPal requires. I do not have much hope with that, when my bank lists transfers like "Swift Payment Credit" along with the sum, which does not tell me who the transfer is from. As a result I doubt that I will see any four digit number before I get my bank statement, but even then that may not be possible.
The final aspect after getting PayPal fully enabled, then obtaining a bank account to put this funding into, would be to plug it into this site. The big issue here is my Order Form, when I previously said that if I add another system it is going to overload. What I mean is my PHP code, or more correctly the form submit, where the current system is doing the unhelpful thing of using one form submit for both on-line payment gateway systems.
That means that each of the E-Gold and EvoCash payment gateway systems are receiving all the fields for the other service, where I strongly doubt that there is enough room to add a third payment gateway system into this mess. So I am going to have to get this PHP code worked out, where the problem is that I cannot seem to pass a variable to this form submit section in order to allow it to choose what form to submit.
Oddly enough obtaining values from within the form is not a problem, when it is just making that choice before the form that it. So far I have not figured it out, where as I expect that my lack of understanding of PHP is to blame, then maybe some research will solve the problem. Well as I tend to do things based on need, then soon it will be time to get that problem fixed.
I am also wanting to do a lot of site updates beyond the missing photos, where my Welcome page could do with a rewrite, instructions are needed for these new on-line payment systems and I would like to complete my new Software page.
Also I would really like to break my Order Forms into two, when I have never seen it as a good idea that a form should submit the end details to itself. No2 was to blame for that one, even if he did have the very good idea of plugging the NoChex payment gateway into my Order Form. Maybe I should get him to sort out my form submission problem, but he is not around much these days.
One other thing that is currently bugging me is that when this PayPal system gets on-line, then I will be supporting five on-line payment systems, but only four of them have payment gateway interfaces. The service that is missing their payment gateway is of course PayHound, who seem to choose not to offer this option. That as a result highlights why they are not doing so well, when they just are not aimed at making the payment process easier or faster.
Maybe I should consider giving up on this service, when customer's using the PayHound payment option are a rare sight, where on the other hand the large majority of NoChex orders soon have a payment following. Still as this PayHound service costs me nothing, then I am just hoping that one day they will sort themselves out, which would make my support worthwhile.
The only problem with all these NoChex orders is that half of all these customers have been forgetting to enter their order number in the extra memo field. As without the order number attached, then delays can occur if I cannot find the order form that this payment is for. Fortunately, in most cases, I have been able to match up the e-mail address or name along with the order total instead, but there have been problem exceptions.
For that reason I am currently worried about these services instant payment options, where look at NoChex's one here for example. As sure enough when I start sticking these on-line will some customers go and send me unknown and incorrect totals for unknown non-submitted order forms.
The problem as I discovered long ago is that a large volume of customer's cannot correctly work out their order totals even if I clearly explain how to do this, which is the very reason why my order forms exist in the first place. That I guess also explains why the vast majority of problem orders I receive these days are hand written ones, even if some odd customers like setting the Pay VAT? value to No and totally ignoring the following warning.
So my current problem is that I wish to better highlight these on-line payment options without allowing customers to send me unknown and incorrect sums.
At this point I am thinking that I should really give my entire ordering system an overhaul, where the use of a shopping basket would be ideal. My problem of course is that it would be difficult to plug-in all my supported payment systems to such a shopping basket system. And so that is one area that would require tons of research and then plenty of work getting it up and running.
Also I am thinking that as using my on-line order calculation system provides me with order details, then I could also add into this on-line payment system my SWIFT and CHAPS bank transfer details. After all that is just about the only thing that cannot be done without contacting me first.
One thing I would like to do is to be able to offer a Courier postal option, when that option is a lot less popular these days than what it used to be. That is of course due to my order forms not supporting this courier option. Unfortunately, that does not seem possible, when say just passing DHL the weight and country and have it return the postal cost is not currently possible. Sure a could build my own complete system to do this, but if they change price, then that all gets messed up.
Anyway, I am working on getting PayPal working, where then I have to either plug it into my order forms, or to start again with a shopping basket. The shopping basket I am sure will soon follow once I am aware of one that supports all my payment options including three complete currencies.
I think you can say that all my possible payment options result in a shopping basket nightmare. :-]
8th of April 2003
One interesting thing happened to me today, where as this could well affect my service, then I thought that I would mentioned it here.
What this is about is that my PayPal account has been out of action since November 2001, which is directly due to this old raid by FACT on my business. As without my computer information I did not have my PayPal password to hand for the next 7 months.
Since I desired to use this service, then so did I go to PayPal with the intent of obtaining a new password. Unfortunately, the second problem here was that as I was now using a broadband connection, then so around this time did I cancelled my old ISP services, where along with these services departed the only e-mail address registered with the PayPal service.
No password and no e-mail address was a problem, but PayPal has the option to mail a new password to you.
The problem here is that although they claim to and offer this option, they do not actually do so. As I applied for a new password to be sent to me, waited a few weeks with nothing turning up to then try this a second time with no luck.
Months later as I still wished access to my PayPal account I looked into contacting them, but despite searching their site from one end to the other I believe it is fair to say that there is simply no way to contact them on-line. I did considering contacting them by phone to have my account cancelled (to be able to restart it), but I decided to give their mail a password a third go with the same lack of result.
Sure I gave a thought to opening a second PayPal account, but trying to do so only returns "this address has already been registered" and so is opening a second account denied.
However, what happened today is that I was looking into paying one EBay supplier the sum of my auction win, when trying to do this on-line only turned up the PayPal option. And although I did not give it too much hope I decided to give it a try, when the only other option was to send this payment through the post, which naturally would have added three or four days on to the transaction time.
Going though PayPal's auction gateway screen was a bit different than usual, where I soon entered details for my USD debit card, but when I got to the point of entering my address I had an idea. As since it did not like me registering the same address, then since I had encountered this situation before and thought up a possible solution, then so did I modify the first line of my address slightly by adding a comma following the three, which of course made "3, Elmstone Close".
Following the completion of this screen I submitted the details to be presented with the good news that my supplier had been paid, where of course I obtained a brand new PayPal account out of it.
That is indeed good news, when I certainly could well soon be able to accept on-line payments using the ever popular PayPal system.
Unfortunately, before that becomes possible, then there is a lot of work needed in order to get this system usable. As the big problem here is that although they had totally no problems debiting my USD bank account for this USD total, they simply refuse to reverse this process. As since my USD account is UK based, then so do PayPal in their dumb way insist on sending all funds in Sterling.
Using their oh so special currency conversion rate I should add, when this is no internationally recognized transfer rate we are talking about.
So had I debited funds from my PayPal account to my USD bank account it would go...
PayPal Funds ---> Transfer to GBP (PayPal) ---> Dispatched to my bank (with charge) ---> GBP Funds Arrive (Citibank) ---> Transfer to USD (Citibank) ---> Credit to my account.
Now I cannot say exactly how much money this would lose in the transfer, but between 7 to 10% seems likely.
Sure I can debit funds to my Sterling account if I wanted, but the key to handling multiple currencies is to avoid all transfers between currencies. The only possible way to do that is to have my PayPal account in Sterling, but as I want it in US Dollar, then that is just not helpful.
And so the only single way concerning how to transfer USD funds out of PayPal is to a US based USD account, but at this second I am talking to my bank to see if they have any ideas on how to link these two USD services together.
Well as I strongly expect that I will be needing to open a US based USD account, then my PayPal payment option will be working shortly after that is complete. Then the only problem is to get all my USD funds in the same place, where I have the feeling that I will have to write myself a check.
Anyway, this is good news for these rare people liking to pay me in US Dollar, where until this new payment option is ready there is always the less popular E-Gold and EvoCash systems. To begin with I expect that I will just use PayPal's Personal account option (no Credit Card payments), but should I feel the need, then I may upgrade to their premiere account and pay 2.9% on credit card payments.
I will now go and uploaded this latest news, where I will then play with my new PayPal account to see just what I can get it to do.
7th of April 2003
As the people viewing my CAMs page can see I have already found one solution to this bootloader corruption problem, when you can both have the bootloader restored and the CAM upgraded to the complete v1.04 specification at the same time.
Ideally I would prefer to be able to offer a cost free fix for my customer's broken Magic CAMs, but as it is still days to go (if not longer) before Dream Multimedia is supposed to be releasing their bootloader repair software, then that is not an option just yet. Also there is currently some doubt over if this will ever come about, but we will soon find that out I guess.
Starting with the good news first, then all cases with my official CAMs seem to be limited to use of either the v1.10 4all (hacked) firmware or those who have upgraded their CAM to the (incomplete) v1.04 specification. In other words none of my CAMs seem to have died from using the official v1.11 firmware, which is certainly different to what these clone CAMs are finding.
Since my v1.04 CAMs are new in stock, then I am currently spending a few days making sure that these CAMs are also working fine before releasing them, when then I can provide my customers with suitable advice. This I expect will mostly go along the line that they can work fine with the v1.10 and v1.11 firmware, but at the current time using this firmware is very questionable.
That brings us to be bad news, when just how can anyone trust Ushtar's latest firmware? As we know now that apart from the usual traps and tests it contains time bombs and CAM destroying code. That is not at all good, when how can any customer put their faith in such firmware?
So I cannot ever see myself recommending the use of this firmware until this CAM killing code is removed. Sure my CAMs should work fine with this firmware, but you have to wonder if this is the last of it. As who is to say that there is not another time bomb waiting for the 1st of next month or the month after? Where this time it is even more damaging for official CAMs.
And so I can only say that if you wish to play things safe, then stick to using the v1.09 firmware. Then of course if you wish to be really, really safe, then so is using the v1.05 firmware the best option. These older versions still work very well, which means that this should not be a problem.
When the bootloader fixing software comes about, then it will be a lot safer to play with this latest and dangerous firmware. As if things do go wrong and the bootloader dies, then will restoring the bootloader be easy enough.
What you should take from this is that as this is expensive hardware, then only a foolish supplier would tell their customers that it is safe to use this firmware. Quite simply as this firmware is known to be dangerous to certain CAMs and even Dream Multimedia have said that their official firmware has killed official CAMs (thankfully none of mine), which is due to this lack of using the Toshiba chip oversight, then no supplier can possibly say this.
Also you should not underestimate the size of this problem, when all suppliers of Magic Module CI CAMs have been affected to a lesser or greater degree. Then of course clone CAM suppliers would have seen a very many deaths, when that was the point of this firmware.
My CAM kill count when I last checked on Friday was up to three deaths, which was of course due to customers doing things that was best avoided. The use of the v1.10 4all (hacked) firmware we can no doubt overlook, but those who have opened their CAMs and voided their warranty now have a serious problem. As only CAMs in their unmodified condition can be upgraded at this lower price. That I should point out is not my rule, but one that I also have to follow.
As recently mentioned that upgrade option is at this time the best thing that I can offer, but within a few days time that can hopefully change. Most customers with broken CAMs have already decided themselves to go with this v1.04 upgrade, but since my v1.02 and v1.03 CAM users can use the latest firmware (if they have trust in Ushtar that I do not), then I do not really see a need for them to upgrade.
4th of April 2003
Well the very important news that I said that I would do yesterday I decided to do today instead, when the longer this has gone on the more I have learned about it.
What this all refers to is the subject of the Magic Module CI CAMs and their firmware of the Pentacrypt v1.10 and v1.11, when on the 1st of this month a time bomb feature was implemented in this firmware, which was aimed at destroying the DreamLoad bootloader on unofficial clones of this CAM. That was certainly successful to a degree, but Dream Multimedia also caught up many of their own official CAMs in this.
The result for such an affected CAM is that, as their bootloader has been damaged, then so does the CAM fail to reset all following times that it is asked to do so. As the CAM cannot be reset, then so cannot new firmware be loaded in it and of course it fails to totally work as it should.
Now as I doubt that Dream Multimedia / Ushtar can legally damage other suppliers CAMs in such a way, then we will have to see what the clone CAM manufacturers do about this, but for now lets talk about my CAMs. Naturally, all other suppliers are affected by this of both official and clone CAMs, but you won't hear them tell the truth.
As my customers should know the last version that I programmed into my supplied CAMs was the Pentacrypt v1.09 firmware, which should certainly not have resulted in such damage for my customers. I did not my flash my CAMs with the later v1.10 and v1.11 firmware, when since this firmware supports built in Conax decryption, then so is it not legal for myself to supply such an item.
However, shortly before this began I was looking into turning off this Conax decryption in order be able to legally supply this firmware, but then of course the 1st came about and the situation has greatly changed.
Since I have only been supplying v1.02 and v1.03 CAMs up until the end of last month, when my new v1.04 CAMs only arrived on the 2nd, then considering that my customers only have those CAMs so far, then I will discuss how my CAMs handled this time bomb.
First of all neither of my v1.02 and v1.03 CAMs were harmed by the time bomb in the Pentacrypt v1.11 firmware, when I have seen them working fine myself following this date. Now when it comes to the v1.10 firmware, then as that firmware was for v1.04 CAMs only, then that automatically makes my CAMs safe. However, since so far two of my customers have reported killed CAMs, then I will now explain how this happened.
The first of these two customers was one who had purchased one of my v1.02 CAMs from me, where as at the time he wanted to use the v1.10 firmware, then so did he void his warranty and have his CAM upgraded to the v1.04 CAM specification. That of course was just having two pins soldered together, which tends to be an easy upgrade for those who knew have to do it correctly.
His CAM was killed by the official v1.10 firmware, which in my view was not at all helpful.
Now the second case came about due to back at that time a person calling himself DecentCriminal patched the Pentacrypt v1.10 firmware so that it could work on all versions of the Magic Module CI CAM. At the time a lot of people were very grateful that he did this, which could also explain why the Pentacrypt v1.11 firmware was made to run on all CAM versions.
Anyway, it seems that he did more then this, when either by accident or by design his hacked and patched version kills every CAM that is flashed with it. I suspect that by accident he just triggered the CRC check test, which caused Ushtar's code in this patched firmware to kill the CAM, but the jury is still out on that one. This explains this second CAM death, when another one of my very official Dream Multimedia v1.02 CAMs is now dead.
Currently I would not recommend my customers to use any Pentacrypt version above v1.09, when versions 1.10 and 1.11 are known as CAM killers. And I don't know about you, but I refuse to have any firmware in my CAMs that has to make the conscious choice of "Shall I kill the CAM? Yes / No". And since we do not yet know what else this official firmware is going to do, then returning to using the v1.09 firmware until further notice is a very good idea. In fact some official CAM users are now so untrusting of Ushtar's Pentacrypt firmware, then they have gone back to using v1.05, which was the last version before all kinds of tests and traps started to appear.
Anyway, since only v1.10 and v1.11 are CAM killers, then v1.09 should be safe enough for all my CAMs.
So what I am currently doing is to find out how these official Dream Multimedia CAMs can be fixed, where Dream Multimedia has recently said that they plan to release PC software within a few days time that will allow users of their official CAMs to restore their bootloader. Users of the clone CAMs will of course need to find their own methods, where I expect their own manufacturers will soon have a solution.
No doubt I have other customers that I have yet to hear from who have broke their CAM by one of these two methods, but considering what this has done to some suppliers I guess that I got off light. For example; the supplier of my v1.04 CAMs dispatched them to me on the 31st flashed with the v1.10 hacked firmware (why he did not use the v1.10 final firmware I do not know), where as just one day later such CAMs when used end up stone dead, then so have I had to carefully removed this dangerous firmware from all my new CAMs.
That I can of course do by if the receiver does not know the correct date, then so cannot the time bomb activate. So I can then reflash them with the Pentacrypt v1.09 firmware and they are fully safe once more. He of course used that firmware against my wishes, but as he has been sending all his CAMs out like that, then so will he have a whole load of customers with broken CAMs now.
Well anyway I expect that most CAMs will be up and working again soon enough, but I am now very annoyed at Dream Multimedia for killing two of my customer's official CAMs, even if they were doing unofficial things with them at the time. As rest assured that this is all their fault, when this is not the first time that they have messed with their own customers if you remember the previous v1.10 (v1.04 CAM only) firmware.
Anyway, as you can see I now have v1.04 CAMs in stock, not to mention Conax CAMs, but since I cannot trust Dream Multimedia and Ushtar (you should see what their other customers are reporting), then v1.10 and v1.11 (the known CAM killers) should be avoided in favour of v1.09 until further notice.
3rd of April 2003
The cardman.co.uk site following four days of being off-line with DNS problems due to a change in hosting provider is now back on-line.
All on-site photos have been accounted for after a few were found to be missing after the initial site upload, the correct menu was uploaded after a wrong one was uploaded (I have no idea how that happened), an unwanted page was deleted, then the on-line ordering system was confirmed valid and working.
Most importantly the e-mail system for the cardman.co.uk site was restored after some large changes. It was at this point that it was noticed that multiple people sending a total of 24 e-mail was blissfully unaware that the cardman.co.uk site had been non-existent for the past four days. Lucky for them that the network system keeps trying to deliver e-mail for a whole week before returning it to the sender.
Anyway, those people will soon be reminded that the E-Mail page needs to be visited before sending e-mail, when if the E-Mail page and rest of the site is not there, then it is just not a good idea to send e-mail to a non-existent site. After all had this problem continued for another three days, then I would have never have received those e-mail. And of course maybe some e-mail was lost during this site switch, when e-mail boxes were created and destroyed during this time.
Apart from that the new site updates are in place on both my sites, where two new items are my 110-230V (Step-Up Voltage Transformer) on the Power Supplies page, then the Conax CI CAM on the now obvious CAMs page. As you will notice I got my scanner working again, when after pulling it apart to find out why it was not working correctly, then I discovered that I was using the wrong power adapter.
This good news means that I can soon get some of those missing photos done.
Since I have some very important news to soon mention, then I should update this News page again later today once I have confirmed a few things. Anyway, my cardman.co.uk site is now back on-line under a new and better hosting provider, where everything is now working as it should.
Also visitors to my cardman.com site (that was working during all this time) will have noticed that I updated to a new month's Special Offer on-time for once, which was thanks to the 1st not being on a weekend.