Cynic in Spain

Real Life on the Costa del Sol

The Ultimate Fusion Taste Explosion

Sitting, as is my wont on a sultry August afternoon, on the terrace of a local watering hole, my attention was drawn (thanks for that Bill) to the new signage that had appeared outside of a restaurant a little further down the street. What had been an almost abandoned Indian eatery for its relatively short life had reinvented itself as a place of Indian/Italian cuisine.

As boggled minds go, mine went.

Unfortunately, as the gold mine in question, was not open, nor displayed a menu (in any language) I was forced to draw upon my imagination to put together the sumptuous meal that, should I be allowed to enter such a palace of gastronomic delights, would no doubt be placed before me.

On reception at the portal, attended by a young lady dressed in red and white striped sari, I would indulge in a glass of Asti with a hint of cardomann flavouring whilst waiting for the maitre d’, resplendent in turban and oily black moustache, to guide me to a table, which I am sure, I would have had to reserve at least three weeks in advance.

Once seated my waiter, Guiseppe Singh, will, with the speed and efficiency well know to both cultures, place before me a brass tray containing a few nibbles to enjoy whilst perusing the offered faire. Aglio olio samosa perhaps, a bhaji of buffalo mozzarella and, of course, a pomodori pompadom or two.

With eyes wide and watering mouth I shall scour the carte d’hote looking for the choicest delicacies therein. To start, I believe, I will indulge in a murgi minestrone (medium) with a glass of their cheeky fenugreek Frascati.

Then on to the main, oh the bewilderment of choice, shall it be spaghetti sag or macaroni madras (hot)? But in the end I settle for a bolognese biryani (mild) with a side of peperoni paratha. A very fine Calcutta Chianti goes well to wash it down.

Finally the desert tray, in all its glory, is bought before me. Do I dare? Is there room for more? At first glance it looks a little tame, disappointing even, where the turmeric tiramisu and the aloo gobi & garlic gelato? Then I spot it, the crème de la crème, hidden as if not daring to show it’s face in the neon of day, Chana Dhaal Zabaglione, too good to resist.

The bill, when it eventually arrives, will be very reasonable for such a veritable feast and off into to night I shall trot with ne’er a thought of what the morrow, without a doubt, would bring.

Sorry, I going to have to stop here, all of this writing has made me hungry. But, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll eat in tonight.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Repelling the Pirates. Part II (Dead Mans Blog)

For those of you that have not read the first part of this ongoing saga I humbly suggest that you do so, including the associated comments, before continuing with this episode. You may also like to visit Mr. Brands blog if it still exists, a link to which you can find below.

Before I start I would like to apologise for the length of this piece. Unfortunately the very nature of the article demands that I be thorough in presenting my case. For those of you who don’t or won’t wade through the complete text let me state my conclusions here.

Mr. Brand, you are inaccurate, incorrect and, at times just downright wrong.

I leave it to you, the reading public to decide if I have made my case or not. The final arbitration I shall leave to Word Press. All comments upon this or any other of my work are, almost, always welcome.

To briefly summarise:
Mr. Brand breached my copyright by illegally copying one of my articles (see A Place in the Sun elsewhere on this blog) and posting it on his own blog ‘Living and Working in Fuengirola’.
He sent me an email notifying me about the existence of the blog (note: the blog not the article)
I complained.
After an exchange of emails the piece was removed (note: removed not deleted, more about this later)
This course of events set me to thinking and as a result Part I of Repelling the Pirates was written where, as you will have seen, I pondered upon the whys and wherefores of this kind of behaviour.
Mr. Brand has since taken a complete copy of Part I of this article (I did give him express permission to do so) and republished it on his blog under the title ‘Idiots on the Internet’ with a rather self serving introduction citing me by name (more about that later as well) to which various comments have been added.

In this piece I intend to deal with a number of the salient points which have arisen for which I will cite sources and provide links (where possible) so that the veracity of my statements cannot be refuted by Mr. Brands usual ‘No it’s not, I know, It’s my job’.

Linked or Not Linked?

Mr. Brand has consistently argued that he provided a link to this blog when he first published his copy of my article. Well let’s have a look shall we? At the end of this piece you will find links to three different versions of ‘A Place in the Sun’ The first is my original the second and third are print screen images of the tail end of the article which came from Googles cache and Word Presses own live search respectively. Not, I reiterate, their deleted section where I had expected it them to be. Whilst I have been researching and writing this the offending items have been deleted from both Googles index and the Word Presses pages at my request but I have retained copies should anyone wish to see them. I rest my case. Oh and before anyone accuses me of changing them just to suit my cause, I would remind them of the laws on Slander and Libel.

Round One to me Mr. Brand.

Anonymity.

One of Mr. Brands arguments is that I publish anonymously and thus he has the right to copy and republish my work, this is not only inaccurate but, as you will see later, irrelevant.

I publish my pieces on this blog, to use the legal term, Pseudonymously (as do almost all web posters). It is not important why I do so but, and this is important, it is my right to do so and that right is protected in law.

If I had entitled this blog William Shakespeares Costa del Sol blog and posted a picture of the bard himself would this blog have been his? To set up a blog all you really need is an email address, this address then becomes, if no other form of identification is available, your pseudonym. You are, of course expected to be contactable via this email address, as I am.

Anonymous? I think not. Pseudonymous certainly on this blog but then I’m only an email away. As Mr. Brand found out when he contacted me in November last year about another article of mine and we had a brief exchange of emails. This is how he happened to have my name and email address when he so kindly informed me about the existence of his new blog. So he did not learn my name after publishing my article as he claims and, in fact, was able to contact me either directly or via this blog as and when he wished, or indeed, needed to do so.

Furthermore, Mr. Brand, by citing my name on his blog when I specifically do not on mine, is in direct breach of my Right to Privacy, for which he is not only legally actionable but which also puts him, this being the case, in breach of the Word Press Terms of Service.

Round Two to me.

Copyright.

Another item that can be dealt with very quickly. This is the definition of what is copyrighted.

An original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium

As an internet blog is considered a tangible medium all original work posted on said blog is the copyright of the poster. So there you have it. No need of an author’s name. No need of a specific copyright notice, another one of Mr. Brands arguments for his right to plagiarise. That’s it. Job done.

Round Three to … me.

Google filtering duplicate content

Once again a very simple one to answer, why don’t you try this at home.

Go to the post of the first part of this series
Select and Copy the first paragraph
Paste it into a google search
Hit enter

What comes up? Mr. Brand’s blog!

So if, as Mr. Brand maintains, Google filters out duplicate content across the whole of the internet how can this be happening, Did Google make a mistake,? Is his version of my article the original?
In fact the are many ways in which copied content on the web can be ranked above the original, here is just one of them.
Ever heard of robots.txt? It is a file employed by webmasters in order to hide stuff from the search and index bots. Within it you can provide a definition of anything that you wish to remain outside the scope of a google search. Google does not know everything, and specifically provide this means of making sure that they do not.
I know Google try very hard to filter duplicate content, but trying and succeeding are two very different things. They themselves admit that they often do not live up to expectations, especially when it comes to the blog sphere.
As Mr. Brand himself said, he found my work ‘In a dark unseen corner somewhere in the dungeons of the Internet’ which is exactly where I wanted it to be. I suspect that he had seen that my work was not in the Google indexes and so he thought that he could get away with copying what he liked and no one would either notice, care or do anything about it. He slipped up by sending me an email announcing his new project and oh how wrong he has proven to be.

Round Four to… oh this is becoming repetitive

Blogging for Commerial Reasons.

Word Press Terms of Service (reproduced by permission)
• the Content is not spam, is not machine- or randomly-generated, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);
• your blog is not named in a manner that misleads your readers into thinking that you are another person or company. For example, your blog’s URL or name is not the name of a person other than yourself or company other than your own;

In Part I of this series I mused upon the possible reasons for this type of behaviour, that was really no more than an idle stream of consciousness that struck me at the time. Now that the situation has escalated somewhat, I have looked into it a little deeper. I share with you now my thoughts. But first I would like you to fix in your minds the two sections from the Word Press Terms of Service which I have reproduced above. The full version can be found in the links, below.

Now let us see how Mr Brands various blogs cope with a little light shone upon them.

Living and Working in Fuengirola

http://fuengirolarentals.net.

That’s odd, why would a blog about living and working in Fuengirola have such a commercial sounding domain name.

Let us look at another

Marbella News and Lifestyle.

http://blog.dmestates.com

Once again a perfectly normal name but a somewhat strange domain. Oh, and by the way, it contains absolutely no content whatsoever.

Now slap me in the face with a kipper if I am way off base here but by my reading of the terms of service above both of these blogs clearly violate the second condition and probabally the first as well.

But wait, there’s more. What, do you think would happen if I mistyped those names just a little. For instance fuengirolarentals.com or dmestates.com. I’ll let you find out but I’m sure you can guess. Now that I believe does violate the first condition.

But there’s no need to take my word for it, I have passed on my concerns to Word Press and as soon as they get back to me with their considered opinion I will let you know.

Now here’s another thought for you, In Part I I proposed that the reason that this sort of thing was happening was that these sites needed original content, that I presume their owners had neither the wit or wherewithal to create themselves and so stole it from others. Mr Brand refuted this absolutely as, and I quote, ‘pure bullshit’.

Well let me ask you this. If not for this reason then why? What other possible viable explanation can there be for such behaviour? Bear in mind that in doing so they are likely to, if caught, land themselves, at the very least, in hot water, at the worst in jail so it is not a step that should be taken lightly or without good reason.

After all with a simple email request and a little judicious coding, you can link to any particular original content that you wish and display it to your audience without breaching the authors copyright or your hosts terms of service.

No, I believe that the reason is as simple as ‘because it’s easy to do’ and, ‘because they can, in general, get away with it’.

You will have noted, I hope after all of the trouble that I’ve been to, that all of these pages are now protected by something called Copyscape. This is an excellent service which ensures that when my copyright is breached I am informed about the fact in no short order, thus giving me the opportunity to do something about it. Neither Google or Word Press offer such a service. So leaving it up to us authors to trawl the net on a daily basis to locate and deal with such misuse when we should be writing.

Legality

Mr. Brand professes to be 100% legal. As I have already shown he has already broken two laws, those of Privacy and Copyright. To add to this, by calling me an idiot on a public forum, he has also, in my opinion, broken the law on Defamation. There is also a further, perhaps, trickier point. As he is probably in breach of the Word Press Terms of Service he could be criminally liable as in the recent MySpace suicide case.

I think I will leave it to him to see how solid he feels the ground under his feet actually is. Not so clever marketing after all Mr. Brand.

Personal Message to Mr Brand.
There is an old adage which goes ‘In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king’. With your limited knowledge you may get away with treating certain people like ‘idiots’. Your clients perhaps? Occasionally, however, you will fall foul of a two eyed man. You constantly ascertain that ‘No it’s not, I know, it’s my job’. Well I believe that I have demonstrated that either you do not know, shame on you, or that you do not care, which is even worse. So perhaps, in the future you should change your slogan to ‘I know, I researched and I checked’ before you engage in your enterprises.

And finally a piece of advice, I wont say a word to the wise but perhaps having read this, a little wiser. It is extremely inadvisable to insult people you do not know, especially so when they live in the same area as you and they know what you look like. So when you next tread the streets of Fuengirola tread warily because you never know who it is that may tap you on the shoulder and ask to have a quiet word.

Last Word ?

I wonder whether any one but me has spotted the, almost delicious, irony in this whole benighted saga?
Those of you who have read the article that Mr. Brand illegally copied will have noticed that the main thrust of the piece is about how difficult I find it to write when things are going well and conversely how easy I find it when something really annoys me. Well this little episode has allowed me to knock out over 3,000 words so perhaps I should be thanking Mr. Brand instead of berating him. I will however say this. If he still thinks that he does not owe me a full public apology for his actions I have enough gall and ire bottled up to produce…

Repelling the Pirates Part III (A tWits End).

Watch this space.

Sources, References and Links used in this article

Living and Working in Fuengirola
Original ‘A Place in the Sun’
First Copy ‘A Place in the Sun’ (source: Google cache)
Second Copy ‘A Place in the Sun’ (source: Word Press)
Wikipedia: Anonymity
Wikipedia: Pseudonymity
Privacy Law
Wikipedia: Copyright infringement
Copyright Law
Google Webmaster Blog
Word Press Terms of Service
Fuengirola Rentals
DM Estates
Copyscape
Defamation Law
MySpace suicide case

© Cynic in Spain. All Rights Reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Repelling the Pirates Part I (Curse of the Published Article)

(subtitle copyright Andrew Belles. Used by permission)

I’ve just spent the weekend fighting off pirates, well to be concise, a pirate. Not on the high seas somewhere off the coast of Somalia as you might suspect from recent news media reports but on the even more uncharted, unregulated and tempestuous waters of the internet.

As a computer systems designer /developer and regular contributor to numerous periodicals in my pre-retirement days software piracy, plagiarism and copyright infringement were an unfortunate daily bane. Everyone knew it was happening but, without a specific institution or individual to target, one could do very little about it.

Believe me, there is nothing more likely to set your blood boiling than to see the results of your hard work misappropriated and either passed off as the efforts of another or, perhaps even worse, used in such a way as to line the pockets of the miscreant.

I will not bore you with the details of what transpired when I detected that one of my articles from this blog had been copied and published elsewhere without attribution or acknowledgement of the author/source (i.e. me/here) only to say that the particular piece has now been removed but without a word of apology or apparent remorse on the part of the perpetrator. In fact he went as far as to imply, in one of his emails, that he was doing me some kind of favour ‘A win-win situation´ to quote his exact words. Duh?

No, what I would like to do here is to look at the whys and wherefores of the situation. In order to cover myself I would like make emphatically clear that what follows is my personal take on the situation and that I in no way wish to imply that these were the motivations of Mr. Wolfgang Brand. The reader may, of course, draw their own conclusions.

The gentleman in question describes his profession as ‘online marketing’ and he hosts a number of blog sites some of which are set up to be, ostensibly, informational guides but are actually thinly veiled, in one case transparently so, portals to the many real estate agents in the area. In itself not necessarily a bad thing, many of the real estate companies offer much more information on their websites than mere housing no doubt to the benefit of their clients, prospective or otherwise.

What I think is going on here is something a little more insidious, bear with me while I digress for a moment.

Internet search engines, of which Google is possibly the best known, are constantly striving to present to their users the most relevant and meaningful web pages for any given search criteria. Until recently, in the case of Google, one of the highest of these criteria was the links to a particular web page from highly ranked external sources. This bred the development of link farms and link swapping by web masters in order to boost their own page rankings and thus placement in the Google results window. Google, clever chaps that they are, now rate page content, especially original and relevant content, more highly. This, in turn, presents a dilemma to those whose sites actual content may be no more than a list of addresses with the same estate agent speak descriptions attached to each and every one. After all how original can you be when describing an apartment for sale which is also advertised for sale by countless of your competition. And so content has become king, he who can offer the search engines the best content will be top of the page and so, in theory at least, generate the most traffic to their site.

And thus we come to the use of blog sites as a portal, the content can be garnered, free of charge, from the general public in the form of, for example, comments about their favourite or least favourite bar or restaurant, this will be original and relevant and so score highly within the search engines. If the ultimate owner of such a site is an estate agent that happens to sell bars and restaurants they’re quids in traffic wise. In fact by actively soliciting or plagiarising contributions, such as pieces like my own, from unsuspecting Joe Bloggs (no pun intended) the marketers are not only filling their pockets but those of their clients in one fell swoop. Clever marketing indeed Herr Brand. And bear in mind there is no cost involved in setting up a blog, indeed this one is totally free of charge from WordPress and so I am left to wonder whether anybody monitors the blog sites and their activities set up under the auspices of what are, I am sure, relatively well meaning organisations or whether they too are too busy counting their advertising revenue.

In conclusion, you will notice that I have taken active steps to protect my copyright and would stongly advise anyone in a similar situation to do the same. But for this once I will make an exception;

Herr Brand, if you are reading this, I hereby give you permission to copy and paste this article, in its entirety, to any and all of your commercial blog sites. Much good may it do you.

© Cynic in Spain. All Rights Reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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February 2, 2009 Posted by | Articles | 6 Comments

   

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