Take Down Notice

Here’s an interesting one.

I was contacted by my hosting provider this morning about an ISPA Take-Down Notice (TDN) regarding a post from 2009 on 6000 miles…

Now, first off, let me say that I fully understand that my hosting provider has signed up to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) of South Africa, and as part of that, they are obliged to follow the rules of that organisation. Those rules state that when a TDN is issued against a site that they host, they must ask that site to remove (take down) the content, and in the event of the site not doing so, “disable the whole site”.

I mean, it’s completely over the top, but that’s what they agreed to, and (presumably) that’s what I agreed to when I signed up with them.

What alarms me is the way in which the ISPA handles these requests: basically, you can force removal of any content on any South African hosted website simply by filling in a form. No evidence required.
Literally, all that the ISPA will do with that form is to check that you filled in all the fields, make sure that the ISP involved is in their association and decide whether the remedial action requested is feasible (e.g. “take down a post” vs. “set light to all the servers in Johannesburg”).

They will then pass it on to the ISP concerned, who are bound by the terms of their ISPA membership to act upon it, and that’s how anyone can fill in an online form and have the content of any SA-hosted  website without question.

The ISPA even boast about how successful their policy is:

In approximately 95% of all cases, lodging a valid take-down notice results in the removal of that content.

“Valid” in this case meaning that you fulfilled those three criteria above, not that the reasons for your request have any veracity or are in any way reasonable.

Of course, as the website owner, you can contest the notice, but notably only after you have taken down the content in question:

If you wish to contest this take-down, you will first need to comply with it and then take this up with the complainant, who’s [sic] information is supplied below, should they not be compliant in finding an amicable solution you then will need to make this a legal matter and address it in court.

Given that the post in question here is about a guy whose company tried to rip me (and it would seem, plenty of other people as well) off for (in some cases) several tens of thousands of Rands (and is apparently still at it), I can’t see this “amicable solution” happening.
And is the legal thing really worth it? Only if it’s sponsored by someone with a lot of time and money, I suppose. Does anyone have any experience of fighting these sort of cases – please get in touch (Email: 6…@6…o.za).

Looks like the only way immediate way around this is to host the “offending” content somewhere away from the unreasonably draconian paws of the South African ISPA then.

Like… I dunno… Google Drive for example.
MAYBE I WAS A BIT TOO SUBTLE HERE.
CLICK THE GOOGLE DRIVE LINK TO SEE THE DELETED POST!

Conn ctiv y prob ems

I’m having a few connectivity problems today. They’re preventing me from uploading a few of the photos I took over the weekend, and which were to be the basis for today’s blog post.

It’s a weird thing that’s happening. The (new) laptop tells me that it is happily and securely connected to any given wifi (I’m having the same issue on 4 different networks I have tried, so I’m guessing it’s the laptop that’s somehow at fault here), but then I can’t do stuff on various programs.

Lightroom can’t connect to Flickr. The connection to Gmail keeps dropping on Chrome (it’s ok for 30 seconds or so, then dies), but Facebook is fine and Twitter seems unaffected too. Uploading anything to anywhere sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. But mostly doesn’t.
A quick ping of the ISP was faultless. I’ve lowered Firewalls and run troubleshooters.

Nothing so far has worked. I’m now in the process of resetting all my network adaptors. All of them.

If you see a photo on Flickr or on here later, something might have worked.
If not, you’ll just have to follow me on Instagram.

All about today

The difficulties in accessing the back end of the blog continue, and the worst bit is that there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to them. Once there’s a pattern, you can start working out the problem, but at the moment, one device will work on one network, but not another, while another device will work on the the second network but not the first. And then, suddenly, it all changes around.

This post is being written on gmail on a computer that won’t connect to the blog, and then I’m going to cut and paste it into 6000 miles… from my phone, which is connected to the same network but which can see the blog and I don’t know how or why or even who.

Caches have been refreshed, blog plugins have been poked, help has been sought.
It hasn’t made a lot of difference.

Tonight, having enjoyed a lot of football since I arrived, I’m going to watch some football. It’s my daughter’s first ever footy match and it’s a big one. I’m guessing/hoping that we’ll see close on 30,000 at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane for the visit of Wolves. A far cry from the 105 who turned up at Sandygate last night to see some woeful refereeing and a 0-2 defeat for The Countrymen, then.
With a late night on the cards, we’ve been taking it easy today, helping Granddad out in the garden and sorting out some shopping, but I still feel like I’m ready for bed. Is there time for a pre-dinner nap? Hmm… possibly.

Oh, and I’ve also tried to upload some photos, but I’m of the mind to do a HUGE upload once I’m back in Cape Town, with LightRoom at my disposal.
There’s some stuff happening on Instagram if you don’t feel that you can wait for my return.

It’s back

After 11½ days, our phone line and internet have been restored.

All hail the technicians who slaved for literally minutes outside our property to make this happen. It’s taken so many “escalations” through various agencies that our connection must be so high that it’s in danger of getting taken out by passing aircraft.

It’s been an irritating, frustrating and eye-opening experience. I’ve learned a few things. Here they are, in no particular order.

We use the internet a lot at home. A lot.

Are we dependent on it? No, not quite. We survived, but only really because we knew that it would come back at some stage. And only then because emails could be written at home and then sent at work. If there had been no outlet like this, it would have been very difficult.

This goes for the kids too. Their school (correctly) assumes that its students will have access to the internet at home. Homework is set appropriately. And so last night, after her music lesson, my daughter sat in the school car park doing her (online) maths homework via their wifi.

It’s simply too expensive to operate on mobile data for any prolonged length of time. Look, mobile is fine for the little things, but then the little things lead to bigger things and suddenly, you’re R200 down after 30 minutes and that’s before you’ve even thought about music or video downloads or streaming. Or blogging.

I know a lot of people, especially in South Africa, don’t have the luxury of the internet at home. Much like electricity and running water (for the moment anyway), I do recognise how privileged we are. But as I mentioned somewhere when we were going through loadshedding – you adapt your life to having these things. When you suddenly don’t have them, you are far less able to cope than those who didn’t have them in the first place. As Phil Collins once quoth:

We had a life, we had a love 
But you don’t know what you’ve got ’til you lose it

I have a lot of catching up to do. Mainly music to download, videos to catch up on, but also pictures to upload, articles to read. Updates to update.

According to one source (because there were differing accounts as to what went wrong), our outage was due to copper theft. I was therefore looking forward to getting our fibre connection sorted. That was until I found that the copper thieves often nick that too, not realising that it’s not copper. Ugh.

I’m disappointed that it took so long to fix. And I do wonder how much longer it would have taken if I hadn’t chased and harried and generally badgered Afrihost and Telkom. It’s been a pain. I’ve been a pain.

I’m not home just yet (writing this during an incubation period on my experiment). But I can hardly wait until I am.

Not today, Josephine

As the rain falls over Cape Town again this evening, and we take time out to thank those who eventually got around to praying for it, I am writing this and then getting back off the internet, pronto.

See, when “big things” occur overseas, the internet – most especially the rage-first-(maybe)-think-later little bit of the internet called Twitter, which is where I spend most of my internet time – becomes an extremely unpleasant place to be.

There are always people out there who think that they know better than you. The ‘thought-leaders’, the self-appointed ‘Twitterati’.
And look, in some cases, maybe they do.
But the thing is that these people are of a mind that they always know better than you. They’ll go out of their way to remind you of that, and tell you what you should be thinking, feeling, saying or doing. I don’t like these people at the best of times, but at the worst of times (like when a “big thing” happens overseas), these individuals step up their obnoxious campaigns a hundred fold. We are policed, we are told that we must use this word and never use that word. And, again, I’ll happily say that if once you had evaluated their plentiful demands, and found that in some instances you were left wanting, well, fair enough. But in these cases, that doesn’t happen, because there are no right or wrong answers in these cases; only the dictionaries favoured by one political movement or ideology – theirs.

They get their kicks and their pleasure by preying on people, most especially after these “big things” happen. Of course, I don’t ever give in to this thought-policing, but that wholly justified resistance has, in itself, implications. And what I should be doing is sticking my head above the parapet and telling them to pipe down a bit and refrain from getting their knickers in a knot. But when you do that, well, then come the smears, the labels, the faux outrage, the anger (and that’s the only fun bit, really).

And why on earth would I, a mere microbiologist and reluctant beagle owner, want to get involved in that sort of crap? Sure, I’ll happily fight my own battles, but when it comes to repeatedly shouting at the abyss that is their collective beliefs, I’d rather save my time. But remember:

Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy

Because while these people are thankfully free to air their feelings across the internet and beyond, I am equally free to take note of who is saying what and pass my own mental judgement on them. So that next time, when they proffer an opinion or point of view – even on something wholly unconnected with any “big thing” – for me, it will come served with a side salad of pre-warning and prior knowledge.
If it sounds like I’m talking about you, I probably am.

And that’s why once I’ve hit the publish button on this, I’m going to switch off the internet and try to take a second-tier Danish side to the UEFA Champions League Final on FIFA 17.

You should try it – it’s much nicer than the real world.