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26th of January, 2004

There is all good news today at least, when to begin with I have now sorted out the small problem with the new SEASON3 model.

As people who have been reading this News page will know that this new replacement model for the discontinued SEASON2 arrived with a few missing components, which basically meant that the Passive Logging function was not enabled.

Well I can say that it is very much enabled now, when successfully testing with my Sky Digital subscription card showed these upgraded models now work just fine.

However, I had one late surprise when upgrading these models, which I will now explain. As since my own supplier has failed more than once to explain what was going on with this interface, then so this weekend have I had to go and find out myself.

My surprise came when I found out that this unconnected link was for the Clock (CLK) line, where I then thought to myself that this should not be right. And sure enough after digging out the season interface specification, then sure enough the CLK line should not be sent to the computer.

Well technically it could, but as the baud rate is set manually on the computer anyway, then so would no season program that I know of be expecting to receive the CLK signal on any pin.

Combined with the factor that I would not know what pin it would ideally be sent on, when this makes for a very uncommon connection, then so did I decide that it was better left how it was. This of course means that I now no longer need the missing resistors and transistors, but there you go.

Those items arrived late on Saturday by the way.

A shame that I did not know these details last week, when these first turned up, but then my supplier seems to know less about this clock connection then what I do. And at least this has now been sorted out, avoiding any further delay, where I have just had to add a card reader to each one.

Well, since they all work fine, then so today have most of these delayed orders departed. Unfortunately, since today was a very busy day, then so will the few remaining SEASON2/3 orders depart tomorrow.

Other good news is that there has been no further power cuts since the recent two, which allowed me to watch the second successful landing of a Mars Exploration Rover. I have yet to order my lightsticks, but that I will certainly do soon.

I have also fixed the fuse that took down my laptop computer due to these damned power cuts, but as I will be extremely busy over the next few days, then I would still recommend sending all e-mail to the helpme only address during this time.

That will be going to the computer where I am working, as I finish up all my tax forms for this month, which will certainly take up all my time until this month ends. Naturally, this will not delay the dispatch of orders handled by No1, even if today's orders will also leave tomorrow.

Anyway, no real news updates should be expected until early next month, when I will be much too busy.

24th of January, 2004

Following on from yesterday's news, then my location suffered another power cut last night. Not just the local area either, but as far as the eye could see.

This started at 02:05 and only ended at 03:55 roughly, which means that my server's UPS did not last this one out. In fact as it did not even last the first hour, then maybe some cycling is needed to bring it back up to full power.

As this UPS I am sure can last for over two hours, but maybe this is just how these batteries go. I will have to pull out the manual and look into it.

This time I was of course without my lightsticks, when I used up the last one of them during the previous power cut just yesterday. And so there I was in total darkness wondering what to do, where as I remembered that my lighter (that I use to light stuff) was on the shelf, then so could I now use my lighter to get some minimal lighting.

Following this I hunted around trying to find a candle, but since I could not find one, then suddenly I remember my butan/propan powered lantern. This I normally use for outdoor camping (like in the New Forest), but since here was just as dark, and that I had no other real options, then I soon found it out and several minutes later managed to turn it on.

A nice bright light it makes as well, should I turn up the gas supply, but a reasonably low setting was enough to power the one room for over an hour before the power was restored.

I think that I will leave this lantern hanging around tonight, when it is sure to be useful in tonight's power cut.

Well I hope that there is not yet another one tonight, when I am hoping to watch the landing of the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on NASA TV across the Net tonight. That will occur at about 05:00 GMT, which means that I pray for no power cut around this time.

Still, living around here the past couple of days is like living in a cave, when there is plenty of light during the day, but each night I find myself in total darkness. As my power company is like "sorry, you can only have electricity during the day, when we are cutting the supply to the whole region at night".

The problem of course with these power cuts is that all my systems like with the server's UPS start setting off their warning alarms. And even my server itself joined in the noise when power was restored, which made me have to reset it a second time.

Not to forget now having to sort out all the settings, like my encrypted drives, which is why I got an UPS in the first place to save me an hour or two getting it fully working around.

I am certainly going to order myself some lightsticks today, when in fact this power cut killed the very ordering page where I was busy deciding what ones to get. No doubt I will get a few more of the 5 minute ultra bright orange type, but now I will more get the 30 and 60 minute ones.

I just hope that they are bright enough, but of course I can use more than one at a time if needed.

Following ordering more lightsticks for the host of power cuts to come (I hope not), then I will have a good look around to see what else has been damaged today.

My laptop taken down yesterday is still not working, when the fuse needing to be replaced is located behind a large cupboard. So I think that I will have to locate out the extension cable in order to have power obtained from my other socket across the floor.

Anyway, don't forget that for this weekend only to send your e-mails to only my helpme e-mail address, when the laptop that answers all the other e-mail addresses has been taken down by these damned power cuts.

Does anyone wish to bet that there will be another power cut tonight? I certainly hope not from what I got planned, but as least it will give my UPS a good workout.

23rd of January, 2004

My local area suffered another power cut last night starting at 05:30, where the power was down for 50 minutes before power was restored. Then power was lost again 5 minutes later, before 2 minutes after that it was fully restored.

The UPS on my server kept my server working during all this time, where I turned off the monitor (that was on suspend mode) and a couple of extra devices to keep it running longer.

Since the power indicator dropped to the lowest level, then it was lucky that power was restored before the UPS shut down the server. However, since my UPS was not on full power to begin with, then this full recharge today should give 90 minutes or more if another cut comes around.

I managed to find my last glo-stick a lot faster this time, when last time I took ages in the darkness to find them, even if it still took a few minutes. I will have to move the location when more arrive, when they should be easier to find in the dark.

The ones I have been using are the ultra bright orange type, which runs on ultra bright level for 5 minutes, even if my supplier advertised 5 hours! when I first got them.

Five minutes does not sound like much, but after 10 minutes they are still working well, 20 minutes and they start to fade a fair amount. And in the end the very last light was disappearing from this one around the time that the power was restored.

Next time I will try ones that produce light at a slower rate, but the best idea for getting both brightness and longevity is simply to make them bigger.

One problem caused by this power cut is that a fuse has blown in one of my power adapters, which unfortunately has taken out one of my work computers. This same laptop appears to have a faulty battery as well, even if some time ago I got in this very battery to replace the previous faulty one.

Guess that I should check to make sure that I have not mixed them up before buying yet another one in order to keep this computer working as well during a power cut.

That would be nice, when as my wireless access point, cable modem and network switch are all connected to the UPS, then I could still browse the web during a power cut. Shame that my other laptop needs a new, expensive, power adapter, where the computer that I am using now could do with it's own UPS.

Not to mention a new AGP x 8 graphics card, when my old ET600 is proving a pain, which is made worse by these power cuts.

Also on this computer I have added a new large copper CPU cooler, which was done to maximise my CPU overclocking. Then previously I implemented RAID on this system, which was done to make best use of my yet to come network upgrade.

I will soon reveal my results of these upgrades, but I will say for now that RAID 1.5 is rubbish and provides only a tiny advantage over the normal HDD speed. Since this no way compares to the speed provided by my server's RAID1+0 system, then I will have to see about adding RAID1+0 to this system as well.

That will require increasing my two HDDs to four HDDs, but I have all my performance figures here, which I may mention next time.

No sign of my bits to complete my new SEASON3 yet, but hopefully they will be here today. And soon as well, when everyone here will be not here for a few hours later today. If not today, then they should be here Monday, which will mean rushing around to get these completed.

As my supplier of this device does not seem very knowledgeable of it, then so far they have not comfirmed my circuit design completion theory. The main problem here is that one of the unconnected wires has to connect to the hole for such a missing wire, but in all there are four colours of wire to choose from.

I will figure it out soon enough, when I start to complete them, where I am just off now to try and find a wiring diagram.

Anyway, for today and tomorrow please only use my helpme e-mail address, which is one that is at least received by a working computer.

21st of January, 2004

As I mentioned on the 19th the FUN4 and new SEASON3 did turn up yesterday, where as expected all FUN4 orders were completed.

However, the new SEASON3, which is replacing the discontinued (maybe) SEASON2, upon arrival is suffering a problem, when to my surprise, this interface has not been assembled fully.

What I mean is that interface as it exists can do Emulation and Active Logging, but clearly the components for Passive Logging have not be added. This is strange, when this PCB design clearly supports this option.

And so I have spent the following day finding out what is going on, where as my supplier indicated a lame reason, and that completing this interface was acceptable, then currently I am about to order the missing components to do so.

The card readers I already have, from my former Doubler construction, but I am now going to order the missing resistor and transistor types. These should be here before the weekend, which would allow me to dispatched these items, once fully tested, on either Friday or Monday at worst.

This upgrade is hardly a problem, beyond the delay, when I have done tons of such work within the history of my company.

As to this interface, then as expected it is a design copy of my SEASON2, where the biggest difference is that it does not use the more advanced surface mounted components. Also, as should now be clear, then this design has been expanded to support Passive Logging.

Even if oddly enough the very reason for this expanded PCB design has been removed from it.

Since I am very sure that my customers would desire a fully completed and enabled model, then that is why I have decided not to supply them as they are.

Unfortunately, this could well mean that I will have to increase the price of my SEASON3 when advertised in the near future, when even these three missing components cost about £1.50 in total. And that is a fair sum, when it is 10% of my current sale cost.

I cannot say that I like the extra construction work either, but since my customers will want the best, then that is what I will have to do. Hopefully, my customers appreciate my extra expense and work, even despite the delay, when I can promise you that these interfaces will be very good.

Anyway, I am now off to order these missing components, which should be here before the weekend, which will then allow me to dispatch these now completed items either on Friday I hope, or Monday if things go slowly.

Apart from that, then due to a resent surge in FUN2 sales over the last few days, then I am very soon going to restock on these cards. Also the MPACK2 will be ordered later today as well, which will resolve all current stock issues.

19th of January, 2004

I can now say that my new batch of FUN4 cards will be here tomorrow, or more correctly there are very good odds of them being here tomorrow, when my supplier just confirmed this fact. So following an unusual restocking delay, caused by sorting out all the issues resulting from the Christmas and New Year holiday, then all delayed FUN4 orders will be dispatched tomorrow without exception.

Also arriving with this order will be my new SEASON3, which will be supplied to people who ordered the SEASON2, when the very last of my SEASON2 all got sold up over the holiday.

Sorting out those two stock problems, means that the only thing that I have to sort out now is the DGEN4 device, when Global Communications no long make this model. And where I have been unsuccessful in so far finding a supplier with available stock and a price lower than mine.

I have a feeling that this item will have to be discontinued, but I will have a good look around over the next couple of days to be sure.

The only other stock that I have to sort out is the MPACK2 power adapter, which is hardly and issue, when the last one of these just got sold.

One other delivery that I have not mentioned this month, was for 32 reels of brown PVC tape an 250 floppy disks, which are both items important in completing orders.

So things are looking up, but of course this is my annual tax month, where I will be extremely busy slaving over multiple tax forms. I done a lot of work on this subject over this weekend, but of course the closer that we get to the end of this month, the more occupied I will be.

And so roll on February, which should be a better month than this one.

The final thing is that I am soon to do more work on improving my Order Forms, when the submission of invalid forms with incorrect calculation of the postal weight is starting to pose a problem. I am soon to do some testing in order to see how best to resolve this problem, but in the end of it simply won't be possible to send me invalid Order Forms any more.

Currently my Order Forms generate an error message if it detects that the browser is not calculating the postal weight correctly, where it is just that some customers are ignoring this advice and still sending me invalid Order Forms anyway.

Sorry, but doing that in the future is soon to be made impossible.

14th of January, 2004

I am pleased to say that these new Magic Module CI CAMs turned up today, even if I would have been more pleased had they turned up on Friday, or Monday, as I was first expecting,

My supplier who was paid for them last Thursday said on Thursday that they would be dispatched that day, even if saying this at 8 minutes to midnight was not too helpful. The truth of the matter is that this CAM order was actually dispatched on Monday, where since the Royal Mail took two days to deliver this one, then that is why they finally arrived today.

At first looks this new batch of these Magic CAMs look very nice, but then I noticed the one problem, when a certain very active Conax decrypting firmware had been flashed into all these CAMs. That is why later on today I will point out to this supplier the Unauthorised Decoders Regulations 2000, which makes supplying this item in such a EU service decrypting state very much illegal to the maximum punishment of 2 years as a guest of her majesty.

I doubt that not too many people care about those funny foreign services around these parts, but the law is the law and my supplier sending me CAMs in this state is certainly not following it. What next pir*te smartcards by mail? That is so a pre-May 2000 thing...

Anyway, to make my own resale of these CAMs as legal as they can be, then today I have been reflashing all of these CAMs with the official Pentacrypt v1.11 firmware. Or more correctly my own modified version of it, when early last year I removed the previous Conax key to again make this supply legally compatible.

This is certainly not the first time that I have received such active items from my own wholesalers, where in fact some of them should know better. After all there are organizations like FACT and STOP around who would only be too happy to take advantage of such supplier oversight.

That is why three years ago now when FACT, FAST and the Maidstone Fraud Squad decided to cause me a long term headache, did my knowledge of the law and more importantly my following of it allowed me to do some arse kicking. And history shows that they took all of 7 months to also discover that raiding my business was a very bad idea for them.

And that they will certainly one day pay for, you can be sure of that, when I find the time and resources to do so. Also I can say that after three years I am actually starting to emotionally recover from this raid on my business, when these days when I think about this event and these morons at play, then my rage is not nearly as bad as it once was.

That was even to the point that my own solicitor had to point out that I should remember that these are only people doing a job. Too bad that their real job was to screw up my own business, which denying me access to my own accounts for 7 months certainly did.

Anyway, back to these CAMs, then after my advanced testing, I can now say that they actually done very well. As this could well be the best version of this CAM that I have seen since DMM released their version 1.02 CAM, when it is very well built and more importantly is very stable.

This reflashing and testing has taken up most of the day, when with new CAM types I test every one of them and make sure that all of them are fine.

The most interesting thing about these CAMs, apart from the wizard picture and the hologram, is that these CAMs are branded version 1.05. And I just happen to know that DMM in their short and problematic life of CAM production never released a v1.05 CAM.

So these CAMs come from another manufacturer that is not (quite) DMM, which if you think about it is hardly a problem. After all, as I have said before, DMM did not make their own CAMs anyway, when these CAMs are available for anyone to buy and stick their own label on.

That is what DMM did, and why there have been many so called "clone" CAMs going about, where of cause action was taken against the clone CAM called the Matrix CAM, due to their technical difference in use of the non-Toshiba memory chips.

Naturally, DMM took out some of their own CAMs in this action, when they all come from the same place anyway, where even DMM had some non-Toshiba memory CAMs.

So what this means is that another supplier is looking to cash in on this Magic CAM fame, which is why today I received some of their CAMs. And the reason for this change, of course, is that DMM has been banned by a German court from ever making the Magic Module CI CAM again.

Since I cannot say that I like DMM that much, due to their actions again the customers, high prices and some questionable CAM development, then no doubt things are better off in the hands of a different manufacturer.

This delivery was a little unexpected, but I guess the point is that these days you have a choice between these CAMs or nothing, when I have certainly been trying to get the last of DMM's CAMs for the past couple of months without any luck.

As the saying goes "the proof of the pudding is in the eating", where my own detailed testing today has highlighted that these CAMs are even better built than some of DMM's former offerings. They work great and as they are a perfect clone of the official CAM, then they will continue to work great.

Since I am very pleased with them, then I am sure that my customers will be as well, when they work perfectly with all versions of the Pentacrypt firmware and more.

Having a new manufacturer produce these CAMs also opens up the possibility of continuing my supply of this popular CAM type, when I was going to end the supply of this CAM simply because there was no more available.

As such decisions require much more thinking about, then I will have to let you know on that one.

Anyway, the Magic Module CAM is now back in stock, where if you want one, then these CAMs have got my thumbs up, which is something that not many items achieve.

Time to go sort out these CAM orders between today and tomorrow.

9th of January, 2004

I have finally sorted out this week long problem of my cardman.co.uk hosting at GNX Online, when after explaining the details to them, then they said this...

Dear Customer,

We apologize.
We have credited your account with one month of free webhosting and added 100MB of space to your hosting account.

Renewal date of your account is set to:
May 10 2004, as you can see in our site in your account manager.

This is all good news. Not just based of the extended hosting and extra (unused) web space, but because it is rare to find a hosting provider who can actually admit their mistake and apologize.

Naturally, this does not make up for my financial loss of having my site taken down for an entire week, but then everyone makes the odd mistake and an apology is good enough.

The only thing that has been worrying me about this hosting for some time is the 1 GB transfer limit, when some months my used bandwidth gets very close to this figure. Still, as they advertise unlimited bandwidth, then I do not see that my site's normal usage would pose a problem.

My new supplier of these Magic CAM has apparently now dispatched them to me, even if the comment "We will dispatch them to you today" on an e-mail sent at 8 minutes to midnight seems a bid odd.

As I am sure that "quick 8 minutes to get this in the post" does not apply, then this is a round-about way of saying that it has already been dispatched. Delivery should hopefully be today, but if not today, then Monday it certainly should be.

Finally, I will see today about sorting out getting the FUN4 and SEASON3, where no doubt I will have to move about even more funds today as well.

8th of January, 2004

Well I am pleased to say that my cardman.co.uk site appeared on-line again late yesterday afternoon, after being suspended by my hosting provider (GNX Online) for a false reason since the 31st of December.

Since I now know what is going on, then I am only happy to explain all. As apparently my site was taken down due to a common and natural function of the mail delivery sub system.

That function to be more precise is to bounce incorrectly addressed e-mail sent to this domain, where any e-mail sent to an address that does not exist will be returned to the sender marked "User Unknown".

You can give it a try yourself if you wish, when you can send an e-mail to my closed old address cardman@cardman.co.uk and to have it soon returned to you marked as you would expect.

Since you will now be clueless as to why my hosting provider suspended my hosting for using this useful function, then I will now explain why this all came about.

As spammers these days are starting to use people's real and hence stolen e-mail addresses in their forged mail headers. In other words this spam appears to come from a valid address, where you can begin to see the problems that this causes the person who had their valid address hijacked by what can only be a "spam terrorist".

That happened to me a few months ago, which is why I had no other realistic choice, but to close my primary e-mail address and to use another one. That new one I do not give out to those who do not need to know it for obvious spam related reasons.

What happens in such a case is that as illegal spammers send out many thousands of spam using your stolen e-mail address, then quite correctly you would get a lot of returns. Some of those will be people complaining and some will be the usual "User Unknown" replies by the mail delivery sub-system.

The only realistic response to this problem, when complaining about it sure does not work, is to close your e-mail address and to use another one. Hence your own virtual twin towers of the e-mail world has just been destroyed by these spamming e-mail terrorists.

Now you can begin to see how my site got falsely suspended, when one of these abused people did try to complain about it. As my "User Unknown" replies by the mail delivery sub-system to what would have been real spam sent to my above closed e-mail address just happened to be the one out of countless numbers of them that they responded to.

Too bad for them that the only realistic option is to close their hijacked e-mail address. Just like what I had to previously do, when even Microsoft cannot stop these spammers.

And so my ever wise hosting provider before they could understand themselves what was really going on suspended my site so that I could explain this to them. After all why spend hours investigating a complaint, when you can simply suspend your customer's paid for service for a week (at considerable financial loss) and have them explain it to you.

Since all along they were accusing my hosting of generating spam, then until recently I have not had much of a clue what was going on either. As all I could say was that my site generating spam was technically not possible and therefore has not happened, which left this issue getting nowhere quickly.

After a recent insight I have now explained to them the facts in this matter. Not to forget clearly highlighting their blunder in suspending my account. After all suspending that my hosting has for a natural and common function of the mail delivery sub-system, can never be correct.

The true problem here are real spammers who have reached a new low level in their lack of respect for their fellow humans. May their death be slow and painful.

Anyway, time to update this out-of-date site and show that my Christmas Holiday has long since past.

The only other issues recently are that these Magic CAMs should be here tomorrow if all goes well, where soon following I hope to have more FUN4 and the new SEASON3 as well.

5th of January, 2004

To begin with I should say "Happy New Year" to all of my customers and site visitors, where as mentioned last year today is the 5th and here I am back at work.

And I see that my usual plan to come back to work one working day longer than usual is catching on, when several other suppliers also return today. Not that this "one extra day to recover from the New Year's hangover" plan was really needed this year, due to the weekend, but why mess with a good idea and a couple of extra days off?

I have also noticed the usual "when will my order be dispatched?" comments in newly received e-mail, which were rightfully ignored when this very news page has carried that answer for a few weeks now.

Today and tomorrow is that answer in case you missed it again. Not that such customers would ever have the good idea of actually reading this news page, where some would even go and blame me for this pre-warned delay.

As to stock issues during this holiday, then I did notice that the last of the SEASON2 all got sold, which in a way is annoying, when there could well be no more of them like ever. So this means that some customers will instead be receiving the new SEASON3 model, when it turns up that is. This could well be better than the old SEASON2 model I expect, when it is also a low power version and this time supports a card reader for passive logging.

The other stock problem that will be resolved just as soon as certain transfers from on-line payment services made late last year turns up in my bank account will be the Magic Module CI CAM, which has been a supply nightmare ever since Dream Multimedia stopped making them.

Since I nailed down a suitable supplier during this holiday (yes, all work...), then they should be back in stock before the end of this week if all goes to plan. However, it is a case of get one while you still can if you want one, when I am quite sure that this batch will be the very last.

I would have stopped supplying them when this supply problem came up, but one customer and then another beat me to it, where I do not like rejecting orders if I know that I can complete them with a little work. Kind of harder than I expected, when many suppliers I asked could not then supply.

Apart from that I have a strong feeling that I will be needing to order more FUN4 cards very soon, even if I currently have plenty of them in stock. As that is one of the current popular items, where dealing with the large order build-up tends to use up popular stock quickly.

The current main problem, as some of you may have noticed, is that my cardman.co.uk site turned into the Plesk Server Administrator default page again on New Years Eve and has not yet returned to it's usual good functionality since. I of course sent an e-mail to my hosting provider on that very day, when the two reasons it mentions, as I discovered last time it popped up, are very much false.

I am still awaiting a reply to that e-mail, mostly due to the holiday I guess, which makes me think that a reminder about now is a good idea. However, due to reminding my hosting provider that they have also forgot to change over my admin address, which they have now done, then I have received a big clue on what I really going on here.

As apparently they received a few complaints about spam e-mail being sent through their hosting server with my domain being pointed at. And after looking at their evidence myself, then it says no such thing.

What I mean is that the Message-ID field, which just happens to be the only one that you can trust, clearly points out that these spam e-mail originated from ovh.net and at no point passed through this hosting server.

This ovh.net service, as you can see from yourself, like to promote their mailing list feature, which without question can and apparently is abused by spammers. And how this got linked to my own business is simply due to the fact that my old cardman@cardman.co.uk address was contained on a forged mail header on some of this spam.

That was the very reason, if not the only one, as to why I had that master e-mail address closed a few months ago, when receiving spam is one thing, but receiving bounced mail replies for spam is quite a different subject. So this master address was closed to solve this problem, when my complains to these origin networks was not really helpful.

Since this old e-mail address of mine was very publicly known, then that is how some evil spammer got hold of it and no doubt without a second thought decided to abuse it.

My hosting provider of course overlooks these facts, where no doubt due to lack of time and desire they would not have really looked into. After all any person with any skill in e-mail administration can tell you where these e-mail came from, which is different to what their support department currently claims.

So instead they do the easy job for them of closing my site and having myself explain to them what is really going on. Not like they are going to pay for my very expensive lost business due to this action after all...

Anyway, since I spelled out to them on Friday the facts of this matter, then if all goes well my cardman.co.uk site should pop back on-line later today. If not, then they will certainly be getting a reminder that this site has been down for a day off a week now, where an invalid reason is keeping it down.

Hopefully it does not turn into a case of dumb support people, like I have seen with one previous hosting provider, when clear evidence of where these e-mail's came from does not stop them claiming differently. Not that I have ever sold medications by the way...

Well I will be lucky to even get a "sorry" out of them for it, but in the end it is always annoying that they never look at the facts before taking action. After all my e-mail page highlights that I am a big person against spam, where unlike common events by other suppliers I have never spammed any customer with any form of e-mail commercial advertising ever.

Not even having thousands of customers being able to confirm that fact is good enough for some people, but in this case it is finger's crossed that the more popular of my two sites comes back on-line very soon.

Well I have to go now and do some real work, when very many orders will be departing today and no doubt tomorrow as well.