BE Broadband Block The Pirate Bay

Today my ISP (BE Broadband) imposed a block to prevent its subscribers from accessing the world’s most popular file sharing website, The Pirate Bay. While many people are outraged by this, I see it as a good thing. Now before you start shouting at your screen in protest, read on to find out why.

To start with these blockades are trivial, and if anything will only prevent Joe Bloggs from visiting TPB to see what all of the hype is about. Any hardened pirate will have an arsenal of methods to circumvent the blocks and continue to use their favorite torrent site regardless of what the courts have ruled.

Secondly blocking one website is NOT going to solve the self-inflicted problem that is copyright. I say self-inflicted as copyright owners have brought piracy on them-selves by over charging for products.

Imagine this scenario; In order to relieve congestion on Britain’s roads, the government impose a ban on yellow cars.  People will simply buy black cars instead, thus the problem is still there

The exact same logic works in the case of this blockade. By blocking TPB, hard-core torrenters will simply use other torrent sites, or circumvent the block with proxies and VPN’s etc. thus wasting a lot of money in legal fees to get the block imposed, and a lot of money on technology to impose it.

Personally, I used to download a lot of copyright infringing material, mainly music and movies. Nowadays I download my music from iTunes and listen to it on Spotify, and I watch movies on Netflix and LoveFilm, simply because they are convenient and fair. To solve the problem of piracy the record companies and music industry need to realize that the world is changing rapidly, as are the habits of their customers, and they need to evolve with them, make their products more convenient, reasonably priced and easily accessible.

In the meantime, the UK legal system should be shot with shit. The whole point of the internet is to allow people to access information freely, not to do the dirty work of the entertainment industry or fixing their fuck up from when they got left behind by technology.

In conclusion, this block is a milestone for the consumer. It will prove that blocks do not work and the courts will eventually get bored of the fruitless requests from the entertainment industry to block websites.

As for the BE members who have decided to “terminate” their BE contracts in an irate and public manner on BE’s blog, good luck to you terminating you service contract on the grounds of “I’m a prick and blame BE for doing as they were told by the man”. As for BE, May the cancellation fees be with you!

I for one will remain with BE as in my opinion they are still the UK’s best ISP. No traffic shaping, no download limits, greater upload speeds than many ISP’s, excellent Customer Service. I have been a BE customer for many years now for these reason and I will remain with them come rain or shine.

Plus I can always go to https://tpb.pirateparty.org.uk just to piss the entertainment industry off 😛

SharePoint 2010 User Profile Sync Observations

The past few days I have had the pleasure of working with User Profile Sync in SharePoint 2010 and my observations follow.

1. It’s shit! – Although Microsoft have improved this feature of SharePoint with a series of CU’s, it is the most complicated part of SharePoint 2010 to setup, or at least the trickiest to troubleshoot.

2. It doesn’t like proxy servers – I struggled to get the UPS to start successfully for a full day. The log in ULS viewer was getting to “ILM Configuration: The ExportMiisEncryptionKey process completed successfully” before restarting the provision process. It turned out it was our automatic proxy configuration script that was causing the problems. To fix this I followed the steps below.

1. Hold Shift and Right-click Internet Explorer
2. Click Run as different user
3. Enter the credentials for your Farm account
4. G to Tools > Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings and either disable the “Automatically Detect Settings” check box or add an exception for your SharePoint server
5. Reboot Server

3. User Profile Picture Import could be more seamless – OOTB SharePoint will import user profile pictures from AD. Unfortunately not many of the guides on the internet mention the fact that the import doesn’t create the required thumbnails automatically. This is a problem as the images in AD are stored as a blob and the “Picture” field in UPA is expecting a URL to the image. To fix this, run the following PS command (I had to login as the farm admin).

Update-SPProfilePhotoStore -CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos 1 -MySiteHostLocation http://mysitesurl

If you get a Null Reference exception when attempting to run this command, then you don’t have the permission to do so. This Technet article explains the permissions requirements for updating user profiles, along with a few other things.

All in all, this is a great product until it goes wrong, then it is an absolute beast!

I know all of this information is already available online, but the more times it is published the less time it will take for people to find it in Google 🙂