The benefits of synchronisation


This is a like-new 3G, 16GB, Black Apple iPhone, and boy does it come with a million dollar story!

I purchased this phone a few months ago. Last week, it was stolen from me. Having become quite addicted to this marvelous piece of technology, I went right out and bought another one with some money I had in savings.

The next day, as I’m scrolling through to make a phone call, I notice some new contacts in my brand new phone. Apparently, the thief had added contacts to my stolen phone, and Apple’s MobileMe service synced those contacts with the internet, and then with my NEW iPhone! I called the contacts, got the thief’s information, and called the police. By the end of the night, I was the proud owner of TWO iPhones.

Needless to say, this phone is in PERFECT condition. I’m selling this one on ebay in the hopes of offsetting the expense of my new iPhone, as well as the $150 speeding ticket I got rushing down to the Apple Store that night to purchase the new phone! :)

From an eBay auction listing.

New kind of suit available on eBay

From The Register.

An eBay shopper may face libel charges after posting negative feedback about a seller on the auction site.

Chris Read, a 42-year-old mechanic from Kent, wasn’t satisfied with the Samsung phone he purchased on eBay, reports the Daily Telegraph. For one thing, it wasn’t the right phone. It was also described to be in “good” condition and arrived rather worse for wear, he claims.

He returned the phone to the seller, Joel Jones, 26, of Suffolk, and requested a refund. Read then posted negative feedback for him, writing the “item was scratched, chipped, and not the model advertised on Mr. Jone’s eBay account.”

Read did get a refund, but also received an email from Jones claiming the negative feedback was damaging his business. Jones threatened to sue unless the comment was removed.

“Obviously I was shocked,” Read told the Daily Telegraph. “I replied saying I stood by my comment and would go to court if necessary.”

Hmmm…. Much as I love m’learned friends, I don’t think there’s much fee income here.

More on the Chinese backdoor in Skype

From Technology Review

Skype has previously acknowledged that its Chinese partner, TOM Online, blocks chat messages containing certain politically sensitive keywords. The new findings, however, reveal a level of surveillance that goes far beyond this.

Nart Villeneuve, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies, uncovered the surveillance scheme by examining the behavior of the TOM-Skype client application. He used an application called Wireshark, which analyzes traffic sent over a computer network, to see what happens when different words are sent via chat using the software. Villeneuve discovered that an encrypted message was automatically sent by the client over the Internet when some words were entered. Following this encrypted packet across the Net, Villeneuve uncovered a directory of files on an open Web server. Not only was the directory publicly accessible, but the data within it could be unlocked using a password found in the same folder. Within these files were more than a million chat messages dating from August and September 2008.

Villeneuve used machine translation to convert the files he found from Chinese into English, and he analyzed the contents to determine likely trigger words. The list he came up with includes obscenities and politically sensitive words and phrases such as “Falun Gong,” “democracy,” and “Tibet.” But Villeneuve also found evidence that completely innocuous messages–one, for example, contained nothing more than a smiley face–were logged. This suggests that certain users were targeted for monitoring, he says.

Great Firewall of China (contd.)

Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto has just released its analysis of surveillance and security practices on China’s TOM-Skype platform. No surprises. They uncovered discovered a huge surveillance system that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.

The system tracks text messages sent by customers of Tom-Skype, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and eBay, the Web auctioneer that owns Skype, an online phone and text messaging service.

John Markoff of the NYT has a report.

PDF of the Citizen Lab report available from here.

I’ve always assumed that Skype was compromised — which is why I would never use it for confidential conversations. Wonder what eBay have to say about it all?

Hurry! Get your personal data on eBay now!


A computer containing a million bank customers’ personal data has reportedly been sold on an internet auction site.

The Daily Mail says an ex-worker for archiving firm Graphic Data sold it for £35 on eBay without removing sensitive information from the hard drive.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and its subsidiary, Natwest, have confirmed their customers’ details were involved.

RBS said Graphic Data had told it the PC had apparently been “inappropriately sold on via a third party”.

It said historical information relating to credit card applications for their bank and others had been on the machine.

The information is said to include account details and in some cases customers’ signatures, mobile phone numbers and mothers’ maiden names.

It is thought the problem came to light when Andrew Chapman, an IT manager from Oxford, bought the computer, noticed and raised the alarm…

Dave gets his bike back


Conservative leader David Cameron has been reunited with his stolen bike after it was found dumped.

The bicycle disappeared outside a Tesco store in Notting Hill, west London, near Mr Cameron’s home, on Wednesday.

The Sunday Mirror said it had used the contacts of “local community elder” Ernest Theophile, 60, to find the bike. It was found in a nearby side street, minus its front wheel, but with Mr Cameron’s helmet and lock still on it. He said it was great to have it back. The Tory leader told the newspaper: “Thank you very much indeed. I’m very surprised to have it back, it’s incredible. I never thought I’d see it again.

“It’s priceless to me. I’ve done over a thousand miles on it and three sponsored bike rides of 250 miles each, so it’s like an old friend. It’s fantastic.”

He added: “I’m surprised they didn’t take the helmet – you’d think they would get something for that on eBay.”

And, in case you’re wondering, eBay finally got around to removing the spoof auction of the bike.

Dave’s bike

Here’s an interesting stunt: David Cameron’s mountain bike was stolen recently and has now ‘turned up’ on eBay. Current bid (at 09:55 on July 25) is £1,020. Blurb reads:

Well this bike is not *exactly* new but it is *nearly* new because it has only been used for a couple of photo-opportunities.

It is BIG and BLUE and despite looking quite well-balenced [sic] it leans oddly to the right.

It would suit a real commuter right down to the ground.

I want to sell it because It ‘does not feel right’

I picked it up outside of Tesco. It comes complete with a lock (locked). Hardly a scratch on it to be honest.

Buyer should collect, directions to my South London lock-up can be found here.

Looks like a smart publicity stunt by an online gamer (who also claims to run The Omerta Shop). Wonder what eBay have to say about it. And I suppose now Gordon Brown will have to arrange for his bible to be stolen. Where will it all end?

EBay wins ruling against Tiffany

Wow! I didn’t expect this.

A federal judge Monday came down on the side of eBay, the dominant online marketplace, in an epic battle with one of America’s leading luxury brand names, Tiffany.

The court handed eBay a crucial victory in a trademark case that could help settle how far an online marketplace need go to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods on its Web site.

Tiffany, which has cultivated an image of quality and luxury in its offerings of jewelry, sterling silver and crystal, sued eBay after it found knockoffs of its wares being sold on eBay at cut-rate prices.

But the court ruled that Tiffany was seeking too much control over online sales at eBay, which included not just fake Tiffany goods but legitimate secondhand items as well.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York ruled that it is chiefly Tiffany’s responsibility, and not the Internet auction giant’s, to police and protect against misuse of its brand name…

I expect Tiffany will appeal. This isn’t over yet.

eBay: end of the dream?

How things change. This from today’s

SAN FRANCISCO — The golden era of the small seller on eBay, hawking gewgaws and knickknacks from the basement or garage, is coming to a noisy and ignominious end.

Consumers appear to be tiring of online auctions, and rivals like are attracting more shoppers with fixed-price listings, while eBay has been struggling for growth. To shift toward that model, eBay has struck a deal with the Web retailer that allows the company to sell millions of books, DVDs, electronics and other items on eBay without paying the full complement of eBay fees.

The recent change is one of several under eBay’s new chief, John Donahoe, that is stirring rancor among the faithful who depend on the site for their livelihood. The deal with has added over five million fixed-price listings to since the beginning of the year — for items from Xbox 360 video game consoles to Weber grills.

Since eBay’s search listings favor larger sellers who can add perks like free shipping, which improve their feedback ratings,’s presence has hurt many smaller sellers that compete in those product categories.

EBay is signaling that its future lies with big, reliable sellers, not the mom and pop shops that are objecting so vociferously to the deal, said Tim Boyd, an Internet analyst with American Technology Research. “It’s a tragic ending to what was once a warm and fuzzy Silicon Valley story,” he said…

A handbag?

This morning’s Observer column

Regardless of what happens on appeal, these lawsuits, and others like them, are bad news for eBay. It now seems likely that at least some of the jurisdictions in which the company operates will insist that it becomes much more rigorous in policing activity on its site. And that spells trouble for the company’s business model because policing is expensive, and eBay relies on skimming modest fees from billions of transactions run entirely by software with no human intervention. The key to its success is scale – it has 84 million active users, handles more than 500 million auctions every quarter and last year the total value of everything sold on its sites approached $60bn.

Policing is a labour-intensive business, so eBay’s profitability would be drastically impaired if it were compelled to do it on any realistic scale…