Category Archives: technology

Commoditisation killed Sun Microsystems

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Eric Raymond,  wrote a short article on his blog, “Commoditization, not open source, killed Sun Microsystems”, which I commented on. This blog article says a little bit more than I felt I had room for on someone else’s blog, and I probably abused his hospitality there. I have thought long and hard about this, because I worked there and thought it i.e. the company was worth saving. Here’s what I said on Eric’s blog, and a bit more.  I start by saying that the first thing about Sun’s failure is that it all depends on where you want to start; Sun’s failure was baked in long before the 2000 fall from profit.   … » Read more …

Spying on Web Mail

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I and others have written about the spy’s pursuit of meta data. It’s not a problem, it’s not the content you know. This is an image from voice comms; once known as telephone conversations.  If you believe this, I suggest you watch “The Wire”. Meta data means “about data”, and consists of the from where, to whom, at what time. With mobile phones, your location can be tracked whether making a call or not. This is meant to be fine, because they don’t review content, i.e. what was said; so that’s OK then. However, the spies think that meta data is the person. An important and wilfully forgotten fact is that with email you can’t separate meta data from content. With web mail, the real meta data is all about the mail provider and maybe the mail client, which is a piece of software; again the meta data they want doesn’t exist as meta data, it is content!   … » Read more …

Is a DDOS attack the twenty first century equivalent of a picket line?

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On Tuesday, the Labour Party’s preferred web hosting site, nationbuilder suffered a DDOS attack. It seems UKIP was the target and while Nationbulder state that a botnet was used, other’s accuse a ‘lone nut’.  Obviously a sign of things to come, but it’s the second thing I’d think of in designing infrastructure for a political party. The first would be defence against a graffiti attack. These plans are often left till later as everyone concerned concentrates on functional requirements, Having said all this, I hope that my hosting provider is good enough.

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An internet accountable to private contract

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The BBC ran a story yesterday about the impending agreement between the UK based industrial content and the ISPs to adopt a warning system whereby the top four ISPs, will on notification from the industry trade associations write and warn their customers who allegedly download potentially copyright infringing material. The BBC covered this scoop in the morning on the Radio 4 today program and later in the evening on News Night.   … » Read more …

Policy for Labour on the Digital Economy

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The Labour Party’s proposed policy programme only mentions the digital economy once, and this is to promise more speed, everywhere it can go. There are two internal pressure group style swarms/groups/initiatives looking to do better.  The first is launched by the front bench incubated if not commissioned by the impressive Chi Onawaruh MP, currently shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office. This has it’s home at this site, Chi publicised the initiative at in an article at Labour List called How can we make Digital Government work better for everyone?. A great deal of thought has been undertaken in launching this initiative. The second initiative is @LabourDigital, which has a web site, http://www.labourdigital.org, and a now familiar New Labour bit bucket crowd sourcing site. In this case, it’s an email address! I have a companion wiki article, which details the sites and links. As part of this, Prag Rad are running a Digital top of the Manifestoes event which I intend to attend. Having spent some time recently thinking about the EDRi charter, I have come to the conclusion we need policy based on the following slogans.

  • Public Money buys Public Domain (or maybe a copyleft right)
  • Law must be Transparent, the regulator’s code must be free
  • A fair copyright term, it can’t all be enclosed forever

No doubt the third of these will be controversial since the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party voted for the DE Act, but we can but try. (Let’s not fool ourselves, all three will be opposed by big business.)  … » Read more …

Time to move on from XP

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Microsoft have just ended support for XP; there are to be no more updates which means it’s a growing security threat! Not all organisations have moved forward yet, and probably even less home user including me. Microsoft’s behaviour over the last two years has not been helpful to consumers. Firstly, the ‘upgrade’ to the new look and feel of Windows 8 trashes consumer’s self administration skills. Making new systems do what they want and knew how to do on XP is hard. Secondly, moving forward using virtualisation technology as advised by this article at hongkiat remains difficult, partly because of Microsoft’s aggressive digital rights enforcement . Microsoft’s behaviour is not unusual, nor illegal, but there’s a lot of people who aren’t happy and Microsoft’s historic success is based on consumer adoption. They’re changing up, we probably need to also.  … » Read more …

Remediating the Internet’s outstanding SPOFs

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Mike Masnick writes a little article forecasting the engineers re-writing the single points of failure out of the internet. He entitles his article, Building A More Decentralized Internet: It’s Happening Faster Than People Realize. He cross references to two articles written by himself back in 2010, Operation Payback And Wikileaks Show The Battle Lines Are About Distributed & Open vs. Centralized & Closed and The Revolution Will Be Distributed: Wikileaks, Anonymous And How Little The Old Guard Realizes What’s Going On in which he, more accurately, recognises the current and future power of distributed and private networks. It should be remembered that these predictions all occurred before the Arab spring and the recent protests in Turkey and the state responses to the use of networks. One of the key initiatives proposed in my mind, is to develop a P2P name service resolver, while others propose a P2P file system. I wrote a wiki article, called “Ruggedising the Internet” which points at several further resources and projects. I might even join in.  … » Read more …

pictfor: the European Debate

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The Parliamentary Internet Communications and Technology Forum held a meeting entitled “The Europe Debate” and headlined it by inviting Bill Cash MP, not some one who I’d identify as an expert on ICT nor on the European Union. The three speakers were Julian David of “tech UK“, Graham Hobbs and Bill Cash MP, Chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee .  The key questions asked, were to be, Do UK technology companies benefit from EU membership? Is the Digital Single Market good for UK business? They also produced a Briefing Paper for delegates.  … » Read more …

Web Blocking in the UK

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An internet safe for kids, plebs and Tories

The phone companies’ Tory inspired “safe content” filters are coming online. While the road to and strong arming of the ISPs into voluntary agreement was well covered over the summer, although not be me, it seemed the Surveillance stories were more important, the New Statesman in an article published last week by Martin Robbins, entitled “Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan” shows the bleeding obvious that it’s not possible to build “safe” filters for other people. The article has provoked some noise on twitter since these privately implemented filters are a non-accountable overreach, there is no appeal, no democratic oversight and they are implemented using crude ineffective technology which reinforces such overreach. Taken in conjunction with the Gagging Bill, also known as the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill currently going through Parliament, this should be seen as an attack on our democratic systems in that it will deprive citizens of the information and evidence that they need to vote.  … » Read more …

Destroying Value

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Building another W8 laptop as Xmas present for someone. I am really unsure that Microsoft did the right thing in trashing so much of the XP/Vista UI. Stuff that was easy is now hard, not because it’s hard, but because no-one knows how. They have destroyed the value of the world’s Windows self administration knowledge which was one of its key competitive advantages in winning the desktop. While the battleground for consumer mindshare has moved to the the phone and Microsoft needed something that worked there, the amount of learning required by consumers is very high and not required of Linux nor Apple users. Neither Apple nor Google have one user interface for the laptop and phone, why do Microsoft think they need it.  … » Read more …