SMS spam in the UK

Received any spammy text (SMS) messages recently? Resident of the UK? You should forward the spam messages to 7726 to help mobile operators stop spam.

If you consider these a harmless nuisance, consider how text spammers make money:
ICO_how_SMS_spam_makes_money

References:
ICO: http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/latest_news/2012/spam-texters-fined-nearly-half-a-million-pounds-28112012.aspx
TheRegister: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/29/text_spam_megafine/

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Opting out of personalised ads: iOS6

If you have an iPhone or iPad and have upgraded to iOS6, you will have clicked through the Terms and Conditions that come with the latest release of Apple’s mobile operating system.
Somewhere along the middle of the impressively long Terms and Conditions document that all of us read and understand before clicking the obligatory “Agree”, I noticed this little gem:

Internet-Based Advertising: Apple may provide mobile, interest-based advertising to you. If you do not want to receive relevant ads on your iOS Device, you can opt out by going to this link on your iOS Device: http://oo.apple.com . If you opt out, you will continue to receive the same number of mobile ads, but they may be less relevant because they will not be based on your interests. You may still see ads related to the content on a web page or in an application or based on other non-personal information. This opt-out applies only to Apple advertising services and does not affect interest-based advertising from other advertising networks.

Visiting http://oo.apple.com from my iPhone pops up this message:

Never realised my phone had such an application. “Open” takes me to the following page, where I can turn “Interest Based iAds” ON or OFF.

I went for OFF, and then insisted by clicking the big scary red button that says “Opt Out”:

(Surprisingly, when you opt-in, there is no confirmation dialog)

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to limit Apple’s use of your device’s unique Advertising Identifier.

Go to Settings -> General -> About -> Advertising and there turn “Limit Ad Tracking” to ON:

The above are touched upon in the following Apple Knowledge Base article: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT4228

Now tell your friends about this easy way to give Apple the message that you don’t particularly like being tracked by your own device and used for behavioural advertising. Do not track us!

How do I backup my family’s data?

Depending on the hassle you’re willing to put up with, you have at least two alternatives:

  • Pay someone to give you space to backup your data to. This is usually referred to as “cloud backup” and the most secure service I’m aware of is SpiderOak. The most commercially attractive (cheap, good deals etc) is CrashPlan Central.
  • An alternative that’s much more labour-intensive (DIY) is to buy a few 1TB external hard drives (they go for £60 a pop nowadays) and give them to your friends/family. Then use CrashPlan to backup to their computers (really, the hard drives you gave them), without paying any usage charges to CrashPlan.