Monday 30 September 2013

Amazon Plays The Game?

Amazon Can’t Fix Prices in UK Anymore

The UK Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into Amazon in 2012 following the complaints from traders. As a result, the retailer has agreed to drop a clause that banned 3rd-party traders from selling goods cheaper.
At the moment, 3rd-party traders are forced to set the same price on any other platform as they do on Amazon. However, soon independent and rival services will be able to undercut it. The Office of Fair Trading has received numerous complaints from traders using the Marketplace platform. In response, the consumer watchdog opened a formal investigation into the price parity policy a year ago. The retailer claimed on its website that the rule is “critical to preserve fairness for its customers” expecting to find low prices. The rule was that a trader wasn’t allowed to sell a product, including the delivery charge, cheaper on its own service or another website like eBay or Amazon had the right to suspend sellers breaking the rules.

The watchdog welcomed Amazon’s decision and promised to end the investigation prematurely, though the group had become concerned that the policy was affecting prices and was potentially anti-competitive. There are plenty of 3rd-party traders using Amazon across the globe, though the retailer doesn’t break this down by area or country. For example, before last Christmas, almost 40% of goods bought on the website were sold by small traders.

In the meantime, a similar investigation is currently carried out in Germany, and the inquiry by its Federal Cartel Office is still ongoing.

The UK Office of Fair Trading explains that Amazon runs one of the largest e-commerce service in the country, so its pricing can have a wide impact on Internet prices offered to consumers elsewhere. Now the outfit is pleased that sellers are free to set their own prices, saying that it encourages price competition and allows consumers to get the best possible deals. Apparently, the rule will still stand for users and traders from the United States.

Amazon’s Marketplace used to face a backlash from traders in the past. In 2013, the Guardian revealed that Amazon had imposed fee rises on 3rd parties selling consumer electronics, automotive parts and other products. For example, UK traders saw the share they paid to Amazon soar from 7% to 14%.

Sunday 29 September 2013

Swanning Around?

Egyptian man arrests swan on suspicion of spying

An Egyptian man has performed a citizen's arrest on a swan, taking it to police on suspicion of being a spy.

The suspected winged infiltrator was taken to a police station in the Qena governorate, 280 miles southeast of Cairo, amid increasing fears over foreign spies. Officials said the man suspected the bird was an undercover agent because it carried an electronic device.
Mohammed Kamal, head of security in Qena, said that officials examined the bird and the device, but found neither explosives nor a spying device. It was thought likely to be a wildlife tracker.
With turmoil gripping Egypt, authorities and citizens remain suspicious of anything foreign. Earlier this year, a security guard filed a police report after capturing a pigeon he said carried microfilm reels.
It is not just in Egypt that animals can be detained for spying.
In July a kestrel was detained in Turkey on suspicion of being an Israeli spy. In 2010 the country's authorities also faced scrutiny after Egyptian officials claimed they had sent sharks to kill tourists.
Saudi Arabi arrested a vulture in 2011, believing the animal to be working for Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
And far fetched as it may seem, some people believe that the CIA is actively exploring how to "recruit" animals into service.
"What the agency wanted was a remote-controlled bug that could be steered to within five meters of a target," wrote Emily Anthes in Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts, which was published in March.
"Ultimately, the insects would also need to carry surveillance equipment, such as microphones, cameras, or gas sensors, and to transmit whatever data they collected back to military officials.
"The pamphlet outlined one specific application for the robo-bugs – outfitted with chemical sensors, they could be used to detect traces of explosives in remote buildings or caves."

Saturday 28 September 2013

The Price You Pay?

Venice tourists outraged by £85 bill for four liqueur coffees

Even Italians, it seems, are charged exorbitant prices in Italy.

Three months after a group of British holidaymakers were charged €64 (£54) for four ice creams in Rome, a bunch of Italian tourists were horrified to be charged the equivalent of £85 for four espresso coffees laced with liqueurs in Venice.
The visitors from Rome were handed the whopping bill after sitting down to enjoy the coffees in a café in Venice’s St Mark’s Square.
They had ordered four tiny espresso coffees which had a shot of ‘amaro’, an Italian aperitivo, added to them.
They were so outraged that they posted the bill on Facebook, prompting a fresh debate about the eye-watering prices that tourists are sometimes charged in Italy.
While an espresso normally costs less than one euro in a normal Italian bar or cafe, the seven Romans were charged six euros for each.
The liqueur shots they ordered came to €34.80.
They were then stung for a €42 surcharge for the privilege of listening to a five-musician string ensemble who entertain the café’s customers, bringing the bill to €101.80.
The managers of the Caffe Lavena were unapologetic, saying that all prices are clearly marked and that the visitors should have known what they were going to be charged.
The café is located in the sunniest corner of the piazza, opposite the extravagant façade of St Mark’s Basilica.
“The prices are there for everyone to see, there really is no doubt. It is for customers to decide whether they want to have a coffee standing up at the bar, or to sit down in the piazza,” Massimo Milanese, the manager, told The Daily Telegraph.
“The café was established in 1750 so we are one of the most historic in Venice. It was patronised by Richard Wagner and many other famous people. It’s part of the city’s history.”
The steep bill was also defended by Ernesto Pacin, the local head of a federation of small businesses, who said tourists were charged a hefty premium for sitting down in St Mark’s Square, famously described by Napoleon as “the most beautiful drawing room in Europe”.
“If these Roman tourists had ordered coffees and liqueurs just 100 metres away, outside the piazza, they would have paid a very different price,” he told the Ansa news agency.
“I’m fed up with episodes like this which are used to continuously attack Venice and its supposedly leech-like establishments. What did they expect to pay in a café that is of a top level, both in service and quality, while sitting in St Mark’s Square and with an orchestra playing for them?”
When the four tourists from the West Midlands were charged €64 for four ice creams in Rome in May, the incident caused such embarrassment that the city's mayor asked them back on an all-expenses trip by way of apology

Friday 27 September 2013

No Where To Run To?

French thieves thwarted by a village's rugby skills

Four thieves who descended on a small French village got more they bargained for when a group of local rugby players sprang into action to block their escape from the ancient fortified hamlet.

The group of young players was having a late drink at the bar Bassoues in Gers, southwestern France when locals alerted them to a group of four men trying to break into cars in the street outside.
Taking the law into their own hands, the rugby players shot off in formation, immediately giving chase to the four surprised robbers.
The thieves tried to flee the walled village, but by that stage another 10 villagers had come to the aid of the players.
“Some of them must have thought it was good training for rugby," one witness told French radio RTL.
The manager of Café du Centre in Bassoues, said: “The young villagers jumped up and gave chase to the thieves. They cornered them in the gardens.
The village is walled to the north and south so the thieves couldn’t escape.” Bassoues, population 391, is surrounded by high ancient walls, making it easy to seal off the thieves escape route. For good measure, locals let the air out of the thieves’ car tyres.
“They couldn’t get out of the village, at least not with that car ... It was all over for them” said the café manager.
Cornered, the thieves could only wait until the police finally arrived. It transpired they were known delinquents from a neighbouring village. They have been released pending an investigation.
The incident sparked debate over the closure in France of many local police stations, as Bassouses lost its “commissariat” in August after 100 years of presence.
“It just goes to show that even in a tiny village in the middle of Gers you aren’t completely safe,” said Claude Gatelet, the village mayor.
“I don’t want the population to replace gendarmes as the next time could end badly,” he said.

Thursday 26 September 2013

Hollande = 0 Nostradamus = 1

France in 2025: Hollande hits back at 'Nostradamus' jibes

François Hollande’s government has hit back at jibes that its rosy predictions of life in France in 2025 are a “Nostradamus contest” by claiming that Nicolas Sarkozy “could not see beyond his next text message”.

The Socialist French President on Monday received cabinet ministers for an end-of-summer seminar after ordering them to come up with their vision of France a decade from now.
There was much mockery after leaked documents from five senior ministers included such optimistic forecasts as “full employment”, no more red tape and housing for all.
Nadine Morano, a former Right-wing family affairs minister, likened the predictions to a “contest between the weather girl and Nostradamus”.
Laurent Wauquiez, the vice president of the opposition UMP, found them “surrealist” while conservative MP Eric Ciotti said: “I understand that they’d rather look to the future as this government doesn’t even know which way to go this autumn.”
Today, Harlem Désir, the chairman of President Hollande’s ruling Socialist Party, hit back, saying: “This makes a change from Sarkozy (the former Right-wing French President), who couldn’t see beyond his next text message.” Mr Sarkozy was famously glued to this mobile phone, once even texting during a meeting with the Pope.
Mr Désir told France Info radio: “All very big (French) projects — high-speed trains, telecommunications plans — had to be decided ten years in advance.”
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister, insisted the seminar was just the beginning of a wider reflection on France’s aims for the coming decade, to be drawn up by the end of the year.
“Sometimes France doubts its own future to the point of becoming pessimistic,” he said. “Nations that succeed are those that project themselves into the future.”
Despite ministers’ utopian visions of France, Jean Pisani-Ferry, the man tasked with piloting a France 2025 report warned that in ten years the country will be “older, smaller and certainly less rich”. On the plus side, however, he said it will be “better trained, still excellently equipped and potentially attractive”.
With French growth this quarter higher than expected, Mr Hollande has spent the summer telling the notoriously gloomy French that “the crisis is behind us” and that a “dark decade” was at an end. He told Le Monde that taking the longer-term view would “restore faith to the French in their destiny”.
Critics, meanwhile, are demanding to know what Mr Hollande intends to do in the short term to plug the growing budget deficit, bring down record unemployment and to tackle essential pension reform. He promised answers not in ten years but “by the end of the month”

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Wanna Buy A Motor??

One is a careful lady owner - Queen's old Daimler is sold at auction

A car owned and driven by the Queen has sold at auction for £40,000.

It may have seemed like a fairly standard description for a second hand car – green 2001 Daimler, low mileage and one careful lady owner.
Except in this case the phrase “One’s a careful lady owner” would have been more appropriate as the car in question was owned and driven by the Queen for three years.
The 2001 Daimler Super V8 LWB limousine, which came complete with a specially adapted armrest with a sliding holder to hold the Queen’s handbag, sold at auction for £40,500.
The car, which was used by the Queen for three years until 2004 when it was returned to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, was sold with a mileage of 15,242 and all of its original specifications, including lamb’s wool rugs on the floor.
The vehicle, which was often driven by the Queen herself or the Duke of Edinburgh, was tested over 2,500 miles before it was delivered to the Queen in 2001 with British Racing Green livery.
It was sold by auction house Historics at Brooklands in Surrey with its original tyres and the adapted ashtray that houses the security lighting controls, which remain fully functioning.
These include a set of blue flashing strobes occupying the front fog lamp inserts, alternate flashing headlamps and alternate flashing rear lights.
A pair of neon blue lights by the rear view mirror, which were used to identify the vehicle in which the Queen was travelling when approaching her destination, were also still in place.
In the vehicle’s capacious boot, the fittings for direct contact to the Home Office and Downing Street should it have been needed were also still present, although the working components have been removed.
Inside, the interior of the car there are deep lamb’s wool floor rugs.
The car came with a full service history by RA Creamer of Kensington and Guy Salmon of Ascot, and was sold with all original documentation, two sets of keys and original registration number, along with photographs of the Queen driving and being driven in it.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Mobile U.K.?

80% UK Users Visit Social Networks on Mobiles

At the moment, Facebook underscores daily engagement as statistics say 24 million UK users log on the website on a daily basis. The company confirmed that revenue from mobile made up over 40% of its total $1.6bn second-quarter advertising revenue. For comparison, it was only 3% in the same quarter last year.
It could be said that the social network is undergoing a mobile revolution with 80% of the 24 million citizens of the UK who log on daily from a smartphone or tablet. It should also be noted that over 30% of the British population visit the service on a daily basis, of them, about 20 million (83%) use a smartphone or tablet to do so.

The statistics in question was released by the company a week ago in part to combat information showing that Facebook’s growth has reached saturation point. Facebook’s representatives claimed they publish the figures in order to show that their audience is growing both in size and engagement. At the same time, Facebook declined to release relevant figures on monthly users or on daily users for prior periods. As such, it is unclear how fast daily engagement is increasing, but Facebook claimed that mobile usage of Facebook in the country had grown 20% since 2012.

Industry experts confirm that many people start the day with Facebook. In the meantime, there are lots of members signing in on smartphones – especially in the United Kingdom, which is a huge mobile market. Mark Zuckerberg has already pinned the future prospects of the social network on its ability to capitalize on the rapid shift to mobile. Now this approach seems to have started to pay off, with revenue from mobile accounting for 40% of its total advertising revenue.

Industry observers say that Facebook’s mobile reach of 20 million daily mobile users can be compared to television juggernauts like The X Factor, which made over $160 million for ITV at its audience peak three years ago. The experts confirm that mobile has become a big part of the first screen and have absolutely seen significant demand for it. As people consider places to follow time spent, the graduation to mobile is increasingly going to happen.

Thus far, Facebook’s number of 33 million monthly users in Britain dwarfs the latest figure reported by Twitter (10 million) and eBay (14 million).

Monday 23 September 2013

Rubbish?…We’re No Longer Watching You!!

UK Rubbish Bins Stopped Spying

The City of London Corporation has finally ordered that rubbish bins stop spying on people. Renew Company, a provider of recycling bins in the capital of the United Kingdom, was reported to use its bins in order to monitor the mobile phones of passers-by for targeted advertising purposes. Local media reports confirmed that after concerns over privacy appeared, the City of London asked the company to halt the trial and has referred the case to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
As a result, Renew chief executive Kaveh Memari has stopped the trials until the ICO hands down its decision. Memari confirmed that during the initial trials a limited number of pods had been testing, which collected anonymized and aggregated MAC addresses from the street and sent reports every 3 minutes over total footfall information from the sites. Now these experiments are stopped. Memari admitted that a lot of what had been extrapolated is capabilities which they could develop and none of them are workable at the moment. As such, the company no longer continues to count devices.

Actually, some of the extrapolation was mainly because of Renew’s own marketing content on the trail – for instance, it said that the test measured “variables in market share between mobile handheld providers within the City’s Square Mile”, at the same time promising to measure the speed and movement of individual devices.

Renew also assured that it could help shop and bar owners to map the total footfall percentage within a few minutes walking distance from the shop. The company has now promised to consult on future developments, saying that it can discuss creating the future levels of protection and move to an improved service able to deliver better content to people.

Renew announced that its firm intention is to discuss progressions publicly at first, and the company pledged to collaborate with such privacy outfits as the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In the meantime, Renew said it’s still committed to leading the charge on the implementation of the above mentioned technology.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Pirate Bay Browsing.

Pirate Browser Hit Torrent Sites

The largest BitTorrent tracker in the world, The Pirate Bay, is now celebrating a massive 100,000 plus downloads of its own censorship dodging Pirate Browser in just a couple days. The new browser, containing Firefox portable, foxyproxy, and Tor, was developed by TPB team to get around government blockades placed on torrent services and other file-sharing sites.
It’s been a while that a range of European countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, and Ireland, have imposed blocks on accessing TPB and other services. For example, in the UK, online filters will have to become default for all packages offered by Internet service providers. This is why the Pirate Browser has additional purposes beyond torrenting.

It should be noted that the browser by itself doesn’t guarantee anonymity. The Pirate Bay points out that if you really want to get that rare commodity, you can sign up with a trusted VPN in order to route your traffic through. However, even this way won’t secure you 100%.

In the meantime, the immediate success of the Pirate Browser will be a blow to such governments as the UK’s, where its deeply unpopular policy, traditionally dressed up as a moral crusade to protect kids, is actually being used to decide what is and what is not acceptable for grown adults to access on the Internet. The BitTorrent tracker itself has long been a target of entertainment industry backed politicians who are told that piracy is an enormous threat to the world economy. The Pirate Bay, its operators and owners have frequently been vocal about their opposition to such policies, because those are restrictive to online freedoms.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Pirates Ahoy!!

Broadcasting Blackout Caused Piracy Spike

While the entertainment industry claims that pirates steal content for fun and profit, there is another look into the psychology of peer-to-peer in the United States. The latest study suggests that people turn to online piracy when the material they want is otherwise unavailable.
For more than a week, over 3,000,000 Time Warner customers across the US lost access to CBS programming. As a result, the number of illegal downloads from affected regions rocketed.

For example, the piracy rates of the popular show called “Under The Dome” rose 34% over the last weekend, while official ratings decreased. This proves the idea that one of the main reasons Internet users pirate content is its availability. In case they can’t receive the desired content when and how they want, they will pirate it. A great example of this rule is Game of Thrones – indeed, network quibbling about regional rights led to many international audiences just torrenting it instead.

Now CBS blacked out in some regions when TWC dropped the former because the parties failed to reach a broadcasting agreement. In the meantime, Under The Dome appeared to be one of the most pirated TV shows now with 11% of downloaders originating from the blackout regions, but this figure rose to almost 15% for the recent episode. New Yorkers saw their piracy rate more than double, from 1.3% of all American downloads to 3% for the episode which aired after the blackout.

Piracy spiked, and official ratings took a large hit. For instance, Under The Dome fell to a season low, with just 10.5 million viewers compared to 11.5 million last week. In other words, while TWC and CBS are arguing with each other, they are losing legal consumers to piracy. So, no-one can blame peer-to-peer and piracy generally, because it’s just about customers unwilling to wait for the industry to stop playing silly buggers.

Friday 20 September 2013

Google Not Playing Fair??

Hollywood Censors TPB Documentary

Within the past few months, a number of Hollywood movie studios have asked Google to take down links to the absolutely free The Pirate Bay documentary “Away From Keyboard”. The director of the documentary, Simon Klose, has contacted Google to get the links back online, but unsuccessfully – the movie studios keep submitting new DMCA requests to take down the documentary.

The story follows The Pirate Bay founders during their trial in the native country. Of course, the movie can be legally downloaded for free everywhere in order to reach the broadest audience possible. The problem is that a number of movie studios decided to obstruct this goal by sending DMCA notices to the search giant and asking it to take down the links to the film. The director was shocked to find out about the unwarranted filtering and was even going to sue the film studios. However, the lawyers explained that such efforts would be futile unless he could prove subjective intent and bad faith. Instead, Klose contacted Google with a hope to get the censored links put back up. However, a few months and several reminders later, there is still no reply.

It seems that Google is more interested in helping the entertainment industry to censor the Internet than assisting independent content creators to correct DMCA takedown abuses. Although there is a chance that the automated takedown request affecting The Pirate Bay’s documentary was not intentional, this certainly was not an isolated incident. Indeed, after the director’s initial report in May rights owners have sent in a number of new takedown requests for “Away From Keyboard”.
Simon Klose is not happy with the unwarranted censorship that actually hurts his business model. This is why he urges the search engine to also protect content creators who gladly give away their work for free. He claims it is bizarre to be punished for experimenting with distribution models by the content industry which is doing so little for the moviemakers it claims to protect.

Of course, it is impossible to expect the search engine to catch all errors made by rights owners (which it still does for Microsoft who recently wanted to censor itself though), the TPB’s problem brought up two important issues: first of all, it is difficult to check whether a link has been removed from Google search. Secondly, it is unclear how 3rd parties are able to send counter-notices in order to reinstate material on sites that they don’t own.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Oh Dear!…Firefox Not Playing The Game?

Advertisers Angry with Mozilla

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is not happy with the open source browser Mozilla’s anti-tracking features. Although it is perfectly normal that Internet users are concerned about companies spying on them, the outfit has been attacking Mozilla on the grounds that it insisted on defending the people’s rights to control the use of cookies on their systems.
Apparently, if your browser refuses to hand over all your personal information to advertisers then there must be something wrong with it. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is a trade organization representing marketing and advertising companies across the US and Europe. After the outfit received much abuse for its stand, one would have expected advertisers to have given up and waited for the dust to settle on this privacy debate.

However, the IAB placed a full-page advert in Advertising Age calling for users to stop Mozilla from hijacking the Internet. The ad insists that you can only find what you want online with the help of advertising cookies. The outfit believes that Mozilla is going to eliminate the same cookies which enable advertisers to reach the proper audience, with the proper message, at the proper time.

In fact, Mozilla lets users control cookies and stop them from websites they haven't actually visited being dumped on the system. Instead of eliminating cookies, the browser is providing users control over annoying advertisements for stuff they don’t want. However, the IAB claims what Mozilla is doing isn’t in the interest of privacy but rather about helping some business models gain a marketplace advantage and reducing competition.

And this is said about Mozilla and its open source coders, dedicated to overthrowing the man with free coding. It is hard to believe that Mozilla is helping someone play monopoly, because the whole point of Mozilla was to kill off a Microsoft monopoly. The Interactive Advertising Bureau claims that Internet users already have control over whether they receive interest-based adverts through the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program, which is something new, as the program in question appears to be designed to promote better advertising rather than helping users out.

Apparently, this is just a huge PR own goal of the kind which is usually only tried by the entertainment industry against pirates, while the users might want to download Firefox and disable all cookies after reading the ad.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Every Cloud??

Apple Keeps Losing Market

It might remain invisible, but Apple keeps fast sliding towards a state where it would end up with the same share of smartphones market that it has for personal computers. Although many reports claim that Apple is the top smartphone manufacturer, such claims don’t really shine any light on how enormous or competitive the market really is.
According to the latest research, Apple accounts for only 13% of the smartphones on the market – moreover, this number keeps falling. For example, last quarter it was 16%. In the meantime, Samsung has a larger market share than Apple, while the rest of the market is mainly occupied by other Android devices. Indeed, Google’s Android OS has increased its global market share to almost 80% in the 2nd quarter of 2013 from 70% at the same period in 2012.

The worst result was shown by BlackBerry, whose market share dropped to 3% from 5% last year, falling even behind Microsoft – the latter is now number 4 in OS share. The industry observers admit that the main reason Apple is still doing so well is because its iPhones are so much more expensive than Android gear, which means a higher profit margin. If you exclude subsidies from phone companies, you will figure out that an average iPhone cost $710 last year, which is almost $300 more than the average smartphone.

On the other hand, that higher price tag is also denting mass sales, with the experts estimating that the company’s 2nd-quarter profit was $6 billion with an operating margin of 33%. Now compare that to Samsung’s profit of $5.6 billion with a 19% operating margin and make a conclusion.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

I Don’t Believe It!!

UK Connection Speeds Increase 64% Annually

The latest research carried out by the British Internet watchdog Ofcom revealed that average speed for urban households is 26.5Mbit/s, while rural homes are lagging behind at 10MBit/s. About 20% of households can currently boast super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s. As such, home broadband speeds are estimated to have increased by 64% within a year, though rural households are growing not that fast.
According to the results of Ofcom’s research, the average download speed for an urban household in May 2013 was about 26.5Mbit/s, while rural areas showed almost 10MBit/s. In the meantime, the difference between the two has increased since the watchdog conducted similar research two years ago.

Despite the fact that average connection speeds were increasing in rural areas, the problem was redoubled by the lack of superfast services and slower ADSL. Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack said that taking into account the fact that the average household currently owns more than 3 types of Internet-connected devices, subscribers are now demanding more than ever from their Internet service providers. The ISPs are responding by upgrading subscribers to higher speed services and launching new superfast packages.

Pollack admitted that the UK people are yet to see the full effect of government measures to improve Internet availability in rural areas, which should also help to increase speeds. Ofcom also expects that 4G mobile will also have a positive effect on mobile broadband availability across the country. It should be noted that average British connection speeds have increased fourfold since the watchdog first published its speeds data five years ago.

About 20% of households today have super fast broadband of at least 30Mbit/s, up 8% a year. The organization singled out network upgrades to Virgin Media’s cable service as a major driver of faster fibre services that had managed to double speeds for many people. Indeed, the research revealed that Virgin’s “up to” 120 MBit/s service offered the fastest download speeds with an average of 113 Mbit/s. At the same time, BT’s “up to” 76 MBit/s have shown 61 MBit/s. Finally, Plusnet’s “up to” 38 MBit/s delivered almost 34 MBit/s.

Hopefully, the United Kingdom will soon be entirely covered with fast broadband access points to make lives easier.

Monday 16 September 2013


Police mistake celebrity lookalikes for terrorists

Armed police intercepted a river Thames speedboat they feared was about to launch terrorist attack on Parliament — only to find it contained Angelina Jolie, Daniel Craig and Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalikes.

The actors were posing with toy guns in a publicity stunt for Thamesjet speedboat ride, which will allow passengers to speed along the river Thames in a jet-engine boat.
But as the boat approached Westminster Pier, a concerned member of the public called the police when they were alarmed to see guns on board and feared the crew were planning an attack on Parliament.
Four police officers from the Met’s marine unit intercepted the famous lookalikes by boat as they disembarked at the pier, but quickly discovered that the guns were toys, according to the Evening Standard.
Kyle Haughton, managing director of City Cruises, the company behind the speedboat rides, said: “It was a bit alarming to see four policemen jump out of a boat pretty quickly and run towards us.
“And then I realised, ‘Oh my God, we have people with guns, I can see what has happened here’ — but obviously, they were replica guns.
“We were shooting our action movie on the Thames and somebody reported us to the police, who were pretty relieved to see Lara Croft in all her elegance, and they understood that this was just a PR stunt.
“With hindsight, we should have told the Port of London Authority but I would still have used the lookalikes because that worked really well.”
The Met confirmed details of the incident and said the incident was quickly resolved.
A spokesperson said a member of the public called in “concerned they had seen people on a boat on the river carrying guns.”
The Met said: “Police quickly established the people on board were taking part in a promotional event. Officers spoke to the lookalikes and organiser and gave them some advice. The guns were toys, there were no arrests and the incident was resolved amicably.”

Sunday 15 September 2013

Who’s A Pretty Boy Then??

Pet owner threatened with Asbo because parrot won't stop singing

A pet owner has been threatened with an Asbo because his parrot won't stop singing 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm'.

Stephen White's African Grey Buddy has been annoying residents by constantly whistling the popular nursery rhyme.
The 12-year-old parrot, who has been irritating neighbours for two years, also whistles the theme tune to 'The Addams Family'.
Buddy is fond of squawking "Police!" at full volume, something he learned from watching 'Police, Camera, Action' on the television, and also likes to mimic phone ringtones and squawks "Hello, who's that then?" when he hears a mobile ring.
Fed-up residents, who have put up with noisy Buddy for two years, reported Mr White and his pet to West Norfolk Council for noise pollution.
A neighbour noted down the parrot's every squawk for two months and now the council have fitted noise monitoring equipment in her home.
Handyman Mr White, 62, has been threatened with legal action if he cannot silence Buddy.
But the pet owner says it is impossible to keep Buddy quiet and he will fight any legal action.
Mr White , who lives with his wife Glynnis, 58, in King's Lynn, Norfolk, said: "It's a complete waste ot taxpayers money and the council has fallen for it.
"What do they expect me to do - cut his vocal cords?
"I've never had a problem with Buddy before, wherever I have lived.
"He's an indoor parrot. He never goes outside. The council told me you can train parrots to keep quiet, but I said you're having a laugh aren't you."
He added: "I'm not sure what will happen next - whether it will go to court, but I've told the council it can do what it wants."
Mr White, who also has a pet Jack Russell called Bob, was notified by the council on Wednesday that they had fitted noise monitoring equipment in his neighbour's house.
West Norfolk Council said they could have to prosecute the owner or to remove the cause of the noise - meaning Mr White could receive an Asbo.
A spokesman said: "We have received a complaint about a parrot and, as will all noise complaints, we are bound by law to investigate.
"It is not unusual to receive complaint about pets and wildlife, particularly in warmer weather when people tend to have their doors and windows open.
"This complaint is being investigated in the normal way and whilst the investigation is ongoing, no notices have been issued and no formal action taken."

Ouch!…..That’s Got To Hurt??

70-year-old Australian man 'lodges fork in penis'

Doctors in Australia have removed a dining fork that became stuck inside a 70-year-old man's penis after a bizarre sexual accident.

In a case considered so unusual it was written up in a medical journal by the three operating doctors, the man inserted a four-inch steel fork into his urethra in an attempt to achieve sexual gratification.
But the fork became stuck and was not visible when the man presented to doctors hours later.
The doctors could feel the utensil and observed it on X-rays. They then extracted the fork free using forceps and "copious lubrication" while the patient was under a general anaesthetic.
The case was written up in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports two weeks ago in a paper titled "An Unusual Urethral Foreign Body".
The doctors said they wrote up the case "given the great management challenge faced by the oddity and infrequency with which a fork is encountered in the penile urethra".
“It is apparent that the human mind is uninhibited let alone creative," they wrote.
“Autoerotic stimulation with the aid of self-inserted urethral foreign bodies has been existent since time immemorial and have presented an unusual but known presentation to urologists."
The Canberra Times newspaper said the paper reports other strange objects which have been found inside the body, including needles, pencils, toothbrushes, light bulbs, thermometers, leeches, snakes, cocaine and glue.
The paper also notes that many patients tend to be embarrassed and try to extract the objects themselves but this can cause further injuries. Other patients are embarrassed and delay seeking medical assistance but then risk infections which can lead to death.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Sod You….We’re Google!

Google argues UK privacy laws do not apply to it

Google is trying to avoid a potentially costly bill in the UK for allegedly breaching the privacy of iPhone users by arguing it is not subject to British laws.

The company is facing a landmark group legal action by Britons angry over the way it circumvented settings on the iPhone to track their web usage. Google has already been fined a record $22.5m (£14.4m) by authorities in the United States over the practice.
In a submission to the High Court, however, Google has argued that as an American company it is not covered by British privacy laws. It said there was “no jurisdiction” for the case to be heard here because its consumer services are provided by Google Inc, based in Silicon Valley, rather than Google UK.
The move raises questions about the rights of millions of British internet users who rely on Google for basic services such as web search and email. Its rivals, such as Facebook and Microsoft, provide their consumer web services through European subsidiaries so could not make the same jurisdictional argument.
The claimants said it showed Google’s policies “don’t respect” British privacy laws and compared its stance to its controversial avoidance of UK corporation tax.
Claimant Marc Bradshaw said: “It seems absurd to suggest that consumers can’t bring a claim against a company which is operating in the UK and is even constructing a $1bn headquarters in London.”
udith Vidal-Hall, another claimant, added: “What are they suggesting - that they will force Apple users whose privacy was violated to pay to travel to California to take action when they offer a service in this country on a site?”
They argued that action by the Information Commissioner’s Office, Britain’s data protection watchdog, would be ineffective. It can impose a maximum fine of £500,000, less than 0.002pc of Google’s annual turnover.
Google was last year found to have circumvented privacy settings in the iPhone web browser software, Safari, by a researcher at Stanford University in California. By default, Apple prevents websites from installing small text files called cookies that allow advertising companies such as Google to track consumers across the web. Google, however, wrote software to work around Apple’s settings.
The company insisted that it did not use the cookies to collect personal data, but the Federal Trade Commission issued a record fine and said that “all companies must... keep their privacy promises to consumers, or they will end up paying many times what it would have cost to comply in the first place”.
Google’s application to dismiss the British case is due to be heard in October.

Friday 13 September 2013

The “Onion” Gets Peeled?

TOR Recommended to Stay Away from Windows

TOR is warning Internet users to abandon Windows after it was revealed that American spooks were spreading malware on the popular anonymizing network exploiting Firefox zero-day vulnerability. The latter allowed the FBI to use JavaScript code in order to harvest crucial identifying data on PCs visiting some services using The Onion Router network.
TOR developers suggest users to simply switch away from Windows. The matter is that the malicious Javascript which exploited zero-day vulnerability was created to target Windows PCs running Firefox 17 ESR, a version customized to view websites through TOR.

In the meantime, people using Linux and OS X remained unaffected. Although there’s nothing to stop the spooks writing a version of the code targeting Linux and OS X, it is still less likely to happen. It seems that the fake Javascript was planted on services where the attacker was interested to see who visited. It collected the hostname and MAC address of a user’s PC and sent it to a remote computer. This exploit was targeted specifically to unmask people using Tor Browser Bundle without really installing any backdoors on their host.

The TOR developers also recommended peoples to turn off Javascript by clicking the blue "S" by the green onion within the TOR browser. They explained that disabling JavaScript may reduce users’ vulnerability to other attacks similar to the last one. However, disabling JavaScript would make some online services not work like users expect. A future version of the browser will have an easier interface to allow people to configure their JavaScript settings. Although Mozilla has already patched the hole in Firefox, some users may still be using the earlier versions of the TOR Browser Bundle.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Knit Off!!

Knitting group banned from library for 'dangerous needles'

A knitting group has been banned from meeting at their local library for health and safety reasons.
The Knit n' Natter group, which has met once a week at a library in Cramlington, Northumberland for the past three years, has reportedly been told that the area is too small to accommodate its 20 to 30 members.

The women have been told that they are still welcome if they come in smaller groups. However, one of the group's founding members has said that they have been given different reasons for the decision.

Margaret Derrick said to the BBC: "We've been told knitting needles are dangerous instruments and against health and safety policy. We've also been told that it's because we are too noisy."

The group knits items for premature babies as well as making knitted breasts and wombs for trainee midwives.

Derrick added: "It's just so sad, we can't afford to hire a room."

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Aussie Spammed?

Aussie against CAPTCHA

Australians are tired of using CAPTCHA and decided to go for open revolt. Media reports confirm that a new campaign calling for the death of CAPTCHA was launched in Earnest. Newspapers explain that the technology to fight spam bots is also blocking people with disabilities, and therefore CAPTCHA should be removed from sites.
As you know, CAPTCHA is a completely automated public Turing test to tell machines and humans apart, designed to prevent spammers from automatically sending commercial messages to websites and people by requiring them to read unreadable words and numbers.

However, there is a problem with CAPTCHA – the matter is that it hinders people with vision impairments to the point that they can’t use certain online services. A number of organizations, including Blind Citizens Australia, Able Australia, Media Access Australia and the Australian Deaf-Blind Council, are calling on Internet services to stop using CAPTCHA, launching a petition with the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

It seems that even when CAPTCHA uses audio files along with the strings of letters, the users with disabilities find them just as tough. Indeed, the recent research revealed that dyslexic, color-blind and older users usually find CAPTCHA hard to get through too. As a result, the technology may in fact contravene the country’s Disability Discrimination Act.

Instead of using CAPTCHA critics suggest using emails to activate and verify Internet users. In the meantime, the W3C online standards organization has already commented that the technology in question has become less effective as an anti-spam measure. It turned out that character and image recognition software is already able to defeat it.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Keep Taking The Tablets??

World Tablet Sales Drop

The industry observers suggest that the reason the tablet market is suffering at the moment is because people are waiting for a new tablet from Apple. Rather than just saying that the global tablet sales slowed within the second quarter of 2013, the researchers claimed that the whole tablet market should reignite with the expected release of a new iPad model later in 2013.
As a result, it may seem that the whole of the tablet market was dependant on Apple, although there are trillions of other tablets out there. The observers admitted that a new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in that market area and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its rivals. A constant slowdown in tablet sales was predicted, considering that Apple didn’t release a new version of the iPad early in 2013 like it had in the past. The statistics clearly show that, while Apple is the single biggest manufacture of iPads, its control of the market has collapsed.

The statistics say that Apple shipped almost 15 million tablets in the 2nd quarter of this year, which is a 14% drop from the 17 million tablets the company sold in the same period last year. In the meantime, Android tablet shipments rocketed from 10 million last year to 28 million this year (an increase of 163%).

The situation on the market reversed: if Apple accounted for 60% market share last year, while Android held 38%, today Android has a 62% market share, while Apple holds a 32%.

Overall, tablet shipments in the 2nd quarter of 2013 declined almost 10% from the prior quarter. The researchers suggest that users’ expectations for Apple to introduce a new tablet don’t actually work. The statistics say that tablet shipments increased almost 60% to reach 45 million units if compared with the same quarter in 2012. This is when Apple didn’t release a device and therefore couldn’t grab much interest. The suggestions are that the tech giant directing market interest is a little tricky when it didn’t release a new tablet within a period of 60% growth.

In the same time, sales of tablets produced by Apple rivals (Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, Acer) have increased. Even Microsoft fueled gadgets were starting to make progress into the market: almost 2 million Windows powered tablets were shipped in the 2nd quarter, which is 5 time more that the same period in 2012.

Monday 9 September 2013

Sign Of The Times??

‘Look right’ sign on London crossing points left

As if a busy dual carriageway in north London wasn’t difficult enough to cross in the first place, bungling workmen from Islington council have painted a sign telling pedestrians to ‘look right’ – with an arrow pointing left.
The confusing signage has appeared at the corner of Holloway Road and Tufnell Park Road after council workers found there was no sign for pedestrians on one side of the crossing.
However, after painting such a contradictory instruction it seems to be causing more problems than when there was nothing there at all.
Local Gina Turner, who works in an electrical store near the crossing, said: ‘I went out and as I crossed I thought “oh they’ve repainted the road”, then I looked again and I couldn’t believe it – I thought I was seeing things.
‘Someone’s going to be looking right and get knocked down and killed. I’ve already heard car horns going off and seen people having to jump back out of the road – it’s really dangerous.’
The speed limit on the busy trunk road into the centre of the capital is 30mph, although it is known as something of an accident black spot.

Sunday 8 September 2013

A Spot Of Tar Trouble?

Council workers resurfacing road laid tarmac around car

Council workers resurfacing a road laid tarmac around someone's car.

Contractors had put up notices and wrote to residents weeks in advance warning them works were about to begin.
But when they arrived at the street they found one driver had forgotten to move their vehicle.
Workmen were unable to find the owner of the Peugeot 206 so they worked around it.
They re-laid the 600ft street but left the car in a neat square of unsurfaced road.
The workers plan to go back to finish the job as soon as they can track down the sheepish owner, who has not yet been identified.
Local John Nicholas, 49, spotted the car rooted to the spot when he drove past on Tuesday on Starpitten Lane West in Torquay, Devon,
He said: "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. There were signs up for weeks saying the road was going to be resurfaced so there was plenty of warning."
A Torbay Council spokesman said: "Signs were placed out on site two weeks in advance of the surfacing works, and a letter drop was made to all residents.
"Unfortunately the contractor was unable to identify the owner of the car and get it removed on the day of the works.
"Improvements of this type require significant plant and materials which are ordered in advance, so the decision was made to continue with the surfacing.
"The contractor will return to complete the works when the car is moved, at no extra cost to the council."

Saturday 7 September 2013

An Artist??

Botched fresco changes fortunes of Spanish town

The botched restoration of a religious fresco by an elderly parishioner that invited ridicule and made headlines the world over a year ago has changed the fortunes of a Spanish town.

"After everything that happened, we can say that the balance has been positive. It has brought tourists from all over the world, been a boost to the economy of local restaurants and raised money for charity," said Francisco Arilla, the mayor of Borja. "It has put the town on the map."
When 82-year old widow, Celia Gimenez, picked up her artist's brushes to spruce up Ecce Homo, a century old fresco of Christ at her local church, she could have had no idea of the furore it would cause.
The painting of Christ with a crown of thorns was in dire need of repair after years of humidity and salt residue had taken its toll but her amateur restoration efforts transformed it into a laughing stock.
Images of the icon before and after spread like wildfire over social networks and it was dubbed Ecce Mono for its likeness to a monkey.
Local authorities said they would sue Mrs Gimenez for destroying the mural and vowed to call in the best professional restorers to undo the damage.
However, a year on and the town is celebrating its unlikely windfall and the embarrassed pensioner who put it on the map.
Some 70,000 tourists have been drawn to the unremarkable town of Borja, near Zaragoza in the Spanish region of Aragon, to view the disfigured fresco in situ at the Sanctuary of Mercy Church.
Since church authorities started charging an entrance fee of one euro, some 50,000 euros has been raised that is destined for a local charitable care home with 60 residents.
Now the council has establish copyright and drawn-up merchandising agreements that will see the Ecce Mono image printed on plates, tea-towels, postcards, mugs and T-shirts.
The image has even been used on a label to promote the local wine.
Plans to restore the original image have been shelved and Mrs Gimenez has become a local celebrity with the town council putting on a special exhibition of her other artworks.
Mrs Gimenez believes her paintings, which mainly comprise romantic representations of local landscapes, show her true talent as an artist and hopes that she will become famed for more than just her mistake with the Ecce Homo.
"As an artist, one wants to be known, but not for creating something one isn't proud of, not for being a joke," she said.

Friday 6 September 2013

An Apple For The President?

Obama Favours Apple over Samsung

President Barack Obama has announced that every time Samsung wins a lawsuit against Apple he will veto the decision. However, it is unclear what will happen when Apple beats Samsung.
Victory by Samsung would have protected it from the iPhone 4 and some iPads entering the United States from China if they used technology which stole Samsung’s ideas. Local media revealed that it’s the first time since 1987 that a US President has interfered with an ITC order. In response, the White House claimed that it was an important element of the Administration’s policy of promoting innovation and economic progress.

The veto means that Apple will be allowed to keep importing and selling the above mentioned gadgets in the United States, but the White House pointed out that the veto will in no way address the legal merit of Samsung’s claims. Obama’s decision to disapprove that determination won’t mean that the patent owner in this case isn’t entitled to a remedy. On the contrary, the South Korean giant may continue to pursue its rights through the courts. The President administration is eager to see itself as trying to shut down the use of import bans as a weapon for patent trolls. Obama has indicated that the White House will prevent the ITC from awarding product bans in the future in lawsuits involving essential patents. However, it is unclear whether this will apply to non-US companies.

Of course, the South Korea is furious with the news, because the White House has just taken away its bargaining chip to stop Apple doing the same trick to it. Samsung’s spokesperson admitted that the ITC’s decision recognized that the company has been negotiating in good faith and that Apple remains unwilling to take a license.

In response, Apple really rubbed it in, claiming that it invented everything and all competitors should be exterminated. In the worst case of hypocrisy that the industry has ever seen from Apple, its spokesperson claimed that thanks to the Obama administration standing up for innovation in this landmark case, Samsung was efficiently ruled wrong to abuse the patent system in that way.

In the meantime, Apple recognizes itself as a company which has never abused the patent system by trolling its rivals off the shelf… Bla-bla-bla.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Handwriting!….What’s That?

Texting Spoils Handwriting

The experts confirmed that handwriting skills have progressively dropped with technology increasing communication speeds. For example, the observers noticed a dramatic downturn in the legibility of handwritten court documents.
In addition, the experts admit that the loss of handwriting skills “comes at the price of a rotting of the mind”. Texting is believed to be part of the problem, as people have lost the knack of writing long sentences. As a result, people are not using their minds but instead are relying on technology which can decide for them.

The experts point out that cursive writing uses mental and physical processes that involve both left and right side of the brain. However, cursive writing decreases with technology becoming the most dominant means of communication. Indeed, typing or texting is only a matter of punching and finger-moving, where people don’t care much about doing any thinking because they are not allowing their brain to form neural processes.

According to a 2012 study, 33% of people experience difficulty with reading their own handwriting. For example, Docmail, a British printing and mailing firm, has revealed that 30% of participants hadn’t been required to produce something in handwriting for more than six months. It turned out that updating calendars, phone books and reminder notes is more likely to be done without even using a pen or a pencil. Moreover, over 50% of participants admitted that their handwriting was poor.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Australia = Expensive!!

Australia Pays 68% More for Software

The Australian government has been investigating unfair electronics pricing in the area for a while now. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Aussies have really got a raw deal.
Unsurprisingly, such corporate giants as Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe weren’t very keen on the inquiry, because the Australians pay about 66% more for Microsoft products and 42% more for Adobe software than the rest of the world.

It turned out that games cost 84% more than in the United States, music 52% more and hardware 46% more. Apparently, inflated prices were only part of an added cost of business to trade in the country, but it doesn’t actually hold up to scrutiny while considering digital downloads.

According to the recent report, the investigating committee claimed it has no idea why it’s “almost invariably cheaper” for Australian games to buy and ship physical media from the United Kingdom to Australia than to get a copy of the same game.

Taking into account the evidence presented to the Committee of very large price differentials, it turned out too difficult for it to avoid the conclusion that such practices lead to international price discrimination to the clear disadvantage of local consumers and companies. Therefore, the Australian Bureau of Statistics was recommended to work on a program that would monitor the price of IT products, hardware and software in Australia and everywhere else in the world.

While universities were encouraged to investigate the needs and costs for education, the Committee suggested to enforce a federally mandated IT procurement policy as well. The most interesting fact is that Australians can get a “right of resale” legislation which would allow them to sell on old digital music and ebooks.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Go Away Troll!!

Largest Patent Troll Finally Vanquished

Industry observers point out that key patents at the centre of the Internet will now be safe from patent troll Eolas in the largest trademark payouts ever. Indeed, the Eolas patents have been so threatening to the Internet that Sir Tim Berners-Lee showed up in court in order to take on the trolls a year ago.
The case was the result of Michael Doyle’s effort to levy a vast patent tax, and its outcome was a major disappointment for the latter, because the court invalidated his patents and an appeals court agreed.

20 years ago, Michael Doyle was the director of a computer laboratory at the University of California-San Francisco and oversaw the creation of software enabling doctors to view embryos online. At the time, Doyle claimed it was the first “interactive” use of the Internet and patented the idea in 1994.

Doyle established a company called “Eolas”, but never made a product that worked – instead, he preferred to get rich off the back of settlements. The first lawsuit was filed in 1999 against Microsoft’s IE, which was accused of violating his patent on interactive features online. As a result, the company collected a $540 million jury verdict after appeals, and Microsoft chose to settle for $100 million.

However, things didn’t go well in other ways, because Eolas’ original patent was denounced by the Internet global standard-setting body a decade ago and there was a re-examination at the American Patent Office, during which Eolas’s patent wasn’t touched. Then, Doyle received another patent similar to its first in 2009 and launched some serious trolling against a number of tech giants, including Apple, eBay, Google, Yahoo, and Amazon. By 2012, he demanded over $600 million, but at the trial he was already asking for $1 billion.

So, Doyle and his lawyers made millions, but by the end of the latest jury trial, only Google, Yahoo and JC Penney refused to strike deals with the troll. Unlike other patent trolls that were happy to settle for settlements just under the cost of litigation, Doyle wanted to get millions of dollars from the defendants. Even after Eolas lost, it kept filing lawsuits against Disney, ESPN, ABC, Facebook, and WalMart. The worst part was that the University of California remained a big player in the trolling scenario.

Monday 2 September 2013

A Lot Of Clicks??

Google Accounts for 25% of all American Traffic

A survey by online monitoring company Deepfield revealed that Google takes a quarter of American Internet traffic. Over 60% all web-enabled devices exchange traffic with Google’s servers on a daily basis. In other words, the tech giant is bigger than Facebook, Netflix, and Twitter altogether.
Experts of the monitoring firm explained that based on measurements of end device and user audience share, 60% of all web end devices and users exchange traffic with Google servers every day. The survey covers computers, mobile devices, game consoles, home media appliances, and other embedded devices. In the meantime, it isn’t just Google’s search sucking up the traffic – in fact, the tech giant also gets huge amounts of traffic via its analytics, hosting, and advertising platforms. In addition, the company harvests other sources of traffic, like its Google Global Cache servers, used by most of American Internet providers and in over 100 other countries. The experts admit that this is a huge jump on previous figure – according to the 2010 study on Google’s web traffic, the company only had 6%.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Walled Up?

Worker sent to remove graffiti finds image of himself on the same wall hours later

When a worker was called in to paint over some unwanted graffiti, he no doubt thought it was just another routine clear up job.

Little did he know that the artist was secretly photographing him to include him in his next artwork.
The stencil artist – who is known only as 'DS' – painted his first piece of 'Bad Kitty' graffiti on a wall in London in May in a piece intended to be a comment on the "squeaky clean image" of the Hello Kitty cartoon.
However, DS, 28, from London, was surprised to find the graffiti being removed just eight hours after he'd finished the work.
Wanting to document the removal, he decided to photograph the worker and use his image as inspiration for a new piece of work on the same wall.
A month later, the piece is still on the wall in Essex Road, Islington.
DS told the Daily Mail: "My reaction to it being removed was a little different than normally. Knowing a piece as been removed or painted over doesn’t bother me, it’s the name of the game in graffiti but this time was a little different as it only lasted eight hours.
"So you can imagine my frustration when coming back I found the council (or private company I’m not sure) starting the process of erasing it from the wall – which I documented.
"Looking through the images I took I saw a great one of the removals man so I wanted to put him up in the same space."
The Londoner said it should not be for the council to decide on the "legitimacy" or "worthiness" of a piece.
He said it would be better to let graffiti "run it’s natural course even if that means great art being painted over – another one will takes its place".
He said it was a strange time for street art at the moment when "Banksy does a piece and it gets protected by the council" but "another piece from a just as edgy artist ... gets taken down".