A note to other Christophers -- this email address is MINE!

For the past few years, I've sporadically received email destined for other Christopher Woods around the globe. I have the GMail address christopherwoods@gmail.com (which incorporates all variants like christopher.woods@gmail.com... In fact, any permutation with any number of full stops in the name; see this article for why that works and can be quite useful). If you don't want your important email correspondence to disappear into the black hole of somebody else's inbox, make sure you have your recipient's email address spelt correctly!

Examples of what I've received in the past twelve months:

  • Criminal Records Checks for slightly dubious looking individuals
  • Correspondence for University Campus groups
  • Australian pre-pay mobile telephone account details (including personal details and telephone numbers)
  • Canadian mobile telephone account details (including personal information and telephone numbers)
  • Birthday greetings, sadly not on the correct day
  • Microsoft XBox Live activation emails
  • Microsoft Windows Live activation emails (immediately cancelled)
  • Pictage emails for someone's wedding
  • Science Center of Iowa mailshots
  • Someone's Foursquare account emails
  • Tuxedo hire information
  • Various invoices for purchases, including some antique furniture
  • Pharmaceutical company meeting detail emails

... Plus loads of things like home addresses, relatives' names,  telephone numbers etc. I email back to the people where I can to advise them of incorrect details, but I can't believe so many people can make such a fundamental mistake as to get their own email address wrong if that is not one of the reasons to hire a divorce lawyer! Anyway...

Monday rant over...

Why blocking Newzbin2 won't make the blindest bit of difference

[Update, 5th of April 2011: Oh look, the Business Secretary Vince Cable went on record saying that the Government would stop blocking web sites using the SI of the Digital Economy Act. Heh. (Newzbin2 was blocked via legal methods offered through the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act - making that entire equivalent section of the DEA redundant, and also upon further scrutiny, extremely poorly worded. You can also read Justice Arnold's ruling.)]

A friend emailed me a link to a BBC article [1]"BT ordered to block links to Newzbin 2 web site", BBC News, July 28 2011 discussing the 'landmark' judgment handed down by an (out of his depth?) judge regarding the enforced blocking by BT of Newzbin2 to stop its customers from accessing copyrighted materials in a piratey manner.

Everyone's dancing around the topic. (I do not advocate piracy as a means to solve the current problems the creative industries face, but I haven't paid for every single song I've ever listened to.) However the older I get, the more I understand about the importance of paying your dues - and understanding the value of a piece of music or film, and understanding why it's right to pay a fair price for it. I have, quite literally, spent thousands of pounds on my music collection, with a heavy investment into vinyl along with many CDs and even a few C90s 😉 Regrettably I believe this judgment could have serious ramifications for not only the future of entertainment industries but personal rights and freedoms. My email back to my friend turned into somewhat of a long one... And here it is reproduced for your enjoyment.

Read my reply!


1 "BT ordered to block links to Newzbin 2 web site", BBC News, July 28 2011

The decreasing usefulnesss of blocklists?

[Update, February 2014: I no longer use client-side blocklists. Join the discussion in the comments.]

My current job involves music and copyright to a fair extent. Ironically whilst I used to be a chronic downloader in my teens, these days not only do I enforce copyrights online, I also buy more music than ever.

However, I'm still healthily paranoid :> and I run Peerblock on every machine I touch, including work machines.

Now, dearth of available IPv4 addresses aside - and what seems to me like the increasingly futile idea of blocking ranges of IPv6 addresses! - it's incredibly difficult to accurately maintain a blocklist of IPs, let alone administer or implement dozens of them. There's too much "collateral damage" from innocent IPs. And as more lists are used and combined, the usefulness and accuracy of the blocks exponentially decreases.

Case in point (and this has made me reevaluate the usefulness of apps like Peerblock with lists from services such as iBlocklist): in the past couple of days, on machines running Peerblock with default lists and Kaspersky Internet Security have been unable to finish their daily definitions updates. How come? It turns out that all of the Kaspersky update servers are classified on half a dozen lists as "bad" IPs. To finish an update, you must disable Peerblock - hardly its intended purpose!

Currently, all Kaspersky IPs between and .86 are in a fair few blocklists hosted on iBlocklist, for various reasons - you can view them by going to the iBlocklist query page and tapping in (for example) Here's what I got on a query just now:

This is clearly incorrect, and as an added inconvenience Kaspersky cannot finish a definitions update until PeerBlock is temporarily disabled.

There still seems to be no easy way of flagging up specific IPs or ranges for review if they have been reassigned or are no longer under the control of the original company (as I suspect is the case with these Kaspersky IPs) - how best should we go about notifying iBlocklist as to the inaccuracy of the blocklist entries?

Performance Systems International-ed2k/ap2p:
Performance Systems International / Cogent Communications:
PSINet, Inc:
Performance Systems International Inc:
Primary Threats
Performance Systems International-ed2k/ap2p:
Business ISPs
Performance Systems International:
United States
United States:

Now, this is obviously far too much of a kneejerk reaction; some lists have the entire Class A range blocked and the rest have a good old dollop listed! Hammer to crack a nut anyone? Obviously one need not use every list, but the problem remains that popular programs such as Peerblock download and use several of these lists by default (including the "level1" list), and these are not being kept up to date by Bluetack, the supplier. (This has been an ongoing problem for some time).

The more you use these lists, the more you'll find legitimate IPs being blocked - I explicitly have to allow all the BBC IP addresses to use their web sites, which is intensely frustrating. My "permallow.p2b" exceptions list grows in size each day... So take everything with a pinch of salt! Disabling HTTP is a bodge workaround, but programs like Kaspersky will often use UDP on port 2001 (for example) to update, and those will always fall foul of the egress traffic block as long as people keep on using the massively popular, but stale, blacklists.

Keep watching the log windows...