Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Out of Alpha...

Well, it seems the prototype went down well. As in, “where’s the beta?” well. Come on guys, I’ve been building for a week. Even I can’t do an entire ad network from back-of-envelop to beta in that time. Be glad you have a working alpha – especially since building the beta means I’m about to break it completely…

I’ve pushed the flatfile to its limits, as the new cron needs to update it every fifteen minutes for the next set of upgrades. It’s great for storing and retreiving data, but a heavy server load for frequent, sizeable, updates.

So I now have access to SQLite on the server, and I’ll be updating into beta.

Is it bad that my coding music right now is Glados?

“Now these points of data make a beautiful line,
and we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time…”
(I wish)

This blog has now moved to, where the original article can be found.  Out of Alpha... - was published on June 29, 2016 at 10:50 am.

Friday, 24 June 2016

The Referendum and Educated Voters

Since I was asked, what I was doing during the Referendum? I believe in an educated electorate, and I was upholding my principles.

This meant running a site that actually called both sides out on their rubbish and scaremongering.

For Leave – focusing on Immigration when there are a whole host of other issues, and getting surprised you were called racist? Really? And for Remain, when people have raised reasonable issues like the tampon tax, VAT Place of Supply, Animal welfare, overdevelopment, no affordable housing being built… ignoring all these and insisting they could only object because of racism? Insulting people and refusing to debate issues never gets them round to your point of view.

As for young voters, most of them seemed to be speaking from the same playbook taught in schools or colleges. Once it got beyond immigration and the claim of preserving peace (and a few didn’t know there had been a Cold War fo r heaven’s sake) they were lost. Raise the issues I mentioned above that Remain was ignoring and, well, they didn’t only not know about them, but most were horrified.

No one on Twitter seemed to realise that no one had a problem with EFTA – the European Free Trade Association – or that the EC and EFTA were not the same things as the EU, and that Leave was objecting when integration went beyond trade.

So I answered a few of those questions, with links and neutral cites. £15 turned into three solid days of Q/A.
  • 78,730 confirmed unique visitors  
  • 643 direct click outs    
  • 590 sign-ups to ask more questions    
And if it meant a few electors were persuaded one way or another, or simply persuaded to vote, then it was worth it. Now I need sleep.

And as for Twitter now, Leave seems to be asleep or celebrating, and Remain is not putting their best f oot forward:

Saying that because they lost the referendum, “it was never a good idea to hold one.”
Is it better to keep over half the country run by overseas officials they can’t change and do not want to represent them?

“This is what you reap for putting a complex, nuanced, economically critical decision in the hands of cretins with a yes/no vote.” or perhaps the inevitable result of months of intelligent people being ignored over every concern raised, by the same EU officials who think someone’s email address tells you what country they live in.

“I’m saddened to live in a country that favours bigotry and isolationism to co-operation and prosperity” And not ashamed, for many years that you lived in a country that favoured European majority-white immigrants over Indian, African, and others?

“Just heard this referendum is NOT legally bind ing and parliament don’t have to act on it!” And would you be celebrating that if your side had won?

I am assuming that this is the first shock of the result (it certainly had me reeling), but I am sincerely hoping that common sense and manners will eventually prevail. Right now we need pressure on Cameron to act and act sensibly – just remember one of the more cheerful comments I’ve read from Lexit.

“In 2016 we just got rid of one set of conservative politicians. In 2020 we can get rid of the rest.”

and on a parting note from a B5 fan:

“Until now I felt like Londo Mollari: ‘My shoes are too tight and I have forgotten how to dance’. This morning I kicked them off.'”

This blog has now moved to, where the original article can be found. < /em> The Referendum and Educated Voters - was published on June 24, 2016 at 5:26 am.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Referendum

I voted today, first thing, in the rain. It was worth it, and possibly the only thing I can do that would affect history. Almost one hundred years ago today my great-grandfather took part in an event that made history and in the process inhaled the mustard gas that would eventually kill him. All I have to do is put a tick in a box. There’s really no excuse not to.

This blog has now moved to, where the original article can be found.  The Referendum - was published on June 23, 2016 at 1:26 pm.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Update on EU VAT - Oh boy

EU VAT – Oh boy. Free trade? Yeah, that’s rather scuppered.

I work with a lot of small businesses and microbusinesses. The EU VAT laws that say an online firm must know the location of its customers, produce two pieces of evidence, store the data for ten years, and charge and remit VAT to that customer’s country and location at time of purchase by that countries laws with no threshold (a 1 euro donation would be subject to VAT) have been a nightmare. Many of the smaller nonprofits I work with have removed websites or Paypal because they can’t afford to comply.

The EU discussed it last week, and …their solution is not to change VAT to allow smaller firms to trade across the EU by introducing a threshold. It was to suggest that smaller firms should geoblock (See Here), and simply block trade with EU customers to avoid the extra costs.1

It is now official: the EU discourages small firms fro m trading cross-border.

To give you an idea of one site’s situation:
New Zealand has a 60,000 threshold, which is higher than one site’s entire turnover (by a factor of around one hundred). The site can accept customers and donations from New Zealand, and sell ads to them, without any problems.

The USA hasn’t got the customer location rule in, so they can freely trade with them, which is as well because many of their sponsors are from there.

Canada? Like the USA, no problem.

France? The site can’t accept a single customer or donation without falling under VAT-Moss and having to do a UK Vat return to the VAT Moss office every three months.

Germany? They’d need to get a German tax number, register with a German tax office (Germany opposes the VATMoss system – details here) and do full VAT accounting four times a year when they might receive a total of $5 every couple of years from German citizens.

This is the situation while we are in the EU. For micro-businesses, whether the UK stays in or leave will actually make no difference to who they can trade with.

…but Leaving might reduce admin costs.

Removing customs charges is not the only part of a free trade area. If those customs fees are going to be replaced by VAT and admin costs, costing nearly £4,000 a year so already unattainable for small businesses, this is hardly free trade.

And if we don’t have free trade, why vote to stay?

(1 They seem to be forgetting the costs and technical skill required to geoblock. Good luck if you are a small cat sanctuary with an online Paypal button and two retired owners…)

Meanwhile I will spend the rest of the week implementing geo-blocking for about 15 small nonprofits. No, I don’t get paid for it.

This blog has now moved to, where the original article can be found.  Update on EU VAT - Oh boy - was published on June 1, 2016 at 9:10 am.

Monday, 11 April 2016

IP address != address

For years I have been saying that the belief one IP address equals one household is rubbish and harmful. One IP address equals one router, or computer, or even an entire network hidden behind that one address which the outside world can’t see. Our provider like many in the UK uses rotating IP addresses, which can be fun when they shift and either you’re locked out or suddenly someone starts assuming you are someone you’re not (although seeing their google ads after a switch is sometimes amusing). It’s even more fun because the local college has one IP address, thanks to a security minded sysadmin. 600 odd people, changing every year, all on the same IP… It plays havoc with many US sites. And now it turns out that even law enforcement make these stupid mistakes. Not to mention scam victims, etc. and you don’t have to be on a rotating IP to cause the issue. It just takes one large company deciding to use your house as default: Maximind are moving the locations to the centre of bodies of water, but meanwhile I hope either they are going to compensate the victims for years of harrassment, that when it comes down to it are entirely their own fault. I use an open source system. If it can’t find a location for an IP, guess what it returns? Not a made-up map location, but a country code. It’s only one more function guys. Add it. And good for Fusion for figuring this out.

This blog has now moved to, where the original article can be found.  IP address != address - was published on April 11, 2016 at 11:29 am.