Internet & Related Stuff

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For Internet and Related Stuff.

So I grab the latest Opera browser download from their website and install it.
First website that loads is somewhat entertaining:

What's wrong with this picture?

Oh, and no, i'm not converting from Firefox (yet). I do however need a second browser that isn't IE6, and that means Opera at this point. I pondered Chrome, but... not right now.

I feel almost silly doing this now, but I said I would and i'm sure i'll look back and be glad I did; more entries about LCA2010. This entry covers Wednesday and Thursday.

I was going to blog about this, but Computerworld have all-but done it for me..

I had a recent epiphany as I was reflecting on ACTA, the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. To want to block counterfeit items - that is, genuine fakes, is admirable and I support it fully.

I'm not sure that piracy - which is illegitimate replicas of an original, sure, but a soft original (such that in essence, there's no difference between the original and the copy, except the media across which it is delivered) is not quite the same. For one, the scale is entirely different (and the above article illustrates this well). For another, you are infact getting 'the real deal' (most of the time). The software (or media) is infact exactly the same, as the original shipped from the factory. The physical media on which it is delivered ceases to be very relevant once it's installed / copied onto disk, for the most part!
Obviously the technical details vary between software, and media (movies/music).

I don't support media piracy either, but ACTA - a Trade Agreement - is not the place to implement totalitarian policies - and to plan this in secret!

Interesting to read recent comments that comment on how the European Union almost unanimously voted to open up ACTA negotiations and not carry them out in secret (with the holdouts, apparently, being the United Kingdom!!) - and simultaneously, Obama vocally supporting the secret approach. So two of the largest 'western' governments appear to be under the thumb of 'rights holders' - aka the big-money media companies.

A Sad Day for the New Zealand Internet.

Initially when the idea of the DIA Internet Filter (targeted specifically at Child Pornography) was floated I didn't have too many problems with it; their method of implementation (BGP against the IP, and then content filter for HTTP only) is pretty low-impact and the risk of collateral damage is about as low as you could reasonably expect.

However recent media coverage notes that several ISPs are against the filter - which has been launched, but only with Maxnet and Watchdog (others pending) - and some of the reasons identified are pretty damn reasonable.

We have a Single-Point-of-Failure - a single Denial of Service target - and a blocklist which is hidden from public view, so we're trusting our friends at the DIA's Censorship Shop to 'get it right' and to never, ever add content that extends beyond the filters mandate.

So the questions then are,
Do we want another SPOF situation, and
Do we trust the government not to extend the scope of the filter?

Australia has had its own dramas with content filtering - but theirs is mandatory, and far more wide-reaching. The NZ one is 'not too bad' but I have to admit sharing the concerns raised by Slingshot, and others.

In the end, the simple answer is the best; The only people responsible for web content are its creators and publishers. The win over child porn would be to identify and lock up / castrate those who create the content in the first place, and those who make it available. If you need to then nab folks, go for the consumers (the ones who create the market in the first place) who're actually the ones guilty of handling objectionable material.

As I posted to Facebook the other day.... :D :D :D

With thanks to the Wellywood Sign Generator. :-)

My LCA2010 Tuesday started with an Airport pickup; it was my job to meet Keith Packard at Wellington International Airport and deliver him to the event.
I then had to drive across town to my car park and walk back to the event :/

However... I did get back on time to pick up the tail of the Keynote and then attend the remainder of the days session - and this day was of particular interest, being the 'Open and the Public Sector' stream. This was kicked off by Don Christie in his role of President of the New Zealand Open Source Society and the keynote was by the UK Governments Director of Digital Engagement, Andrew Stott. I have to say that I give the UK Government a lot of credit for their willingness to embrace online engagement, the talk was given via Skype and was (generally) successful - though they should probably have pumped the audio across an ordinary PSTN or even cellular phoneline, as the Internet link wasn't flawless by any means...

As heads roll, there's outrage amongst Telecom XT Customers - but there's similar frustration from a strong minority of folks who don't see why folks are letting themselves become so vulnerable in the first place.

We have the slant being taken, that the XT outage is serious enough to cause risk to life and property due to the inability to call 111. The example given is a kid who was bashed at a Mall in Christchurch and how folks couldn't call for help...

- What, no other cellphone networks were available amongst the folks in the neighbourhood? At the moment we have XT and CDMA (both Telecom, but seperate), plus Vodafone, and 2 Degrees. Seriously, noone around had a non-XT handset?
- What, no landlines handy? You were in the urban area of one of NZ's main cities and you couldnt find a payphone or a building with a landline?

Another point; Noone's noting the fact that Cellphones were never sold as 100% reliable in the first place. There will be coverage failures from 'time to time'. (Admitted, XT's woes are pretty unreasonable if you're throwing money at them and theyre broken more than is 'reasonable').

For those complaining they're losing business; why don't you have a plan-B? Landlines? Cellphones on other networks? A backup plan could simply be an old handset on another network with a prepay connection. I still have my 027 CDMA Prepay for this reason, despite having been a Vodafone customer for ~11 years.

And with number portability, there really is little excuse for the final point; vote with your feet applies!! If the network you're a customer of is not cutting the mustard, change to a better one. Ultimately that is the way to demonstrate your satisfaction (or not) - it's the way that businesses listen (with their wallets).

Fundamentally, i agree with everything said here.

People pirate media because it is a) convenient, b) cheap and c) rapid. Having media directed to your home PC, delivered for $0 in the space of hours - and as soon as it's available - I understand the desire.

The content deliverers (movie theatres, followed by retail stores and rental outfits) need to move with the times. DVDs are relatively fragile compared to digital media, but at least they're readily accessible to most folks. What keeps people renting is that they are accessible, and relatively inexpensive.

As bandwidth costs drop, the inexpensive part is less relevant. Anything, at all, which makes renting less convenient is going to have piracy as a byproduct. This is a given. Industry should be looking at ways of providing content to end-users for reasonable cost, without all the stupid restrictions. Otherwise folks will continue to bypass said restrictions, and not share their money with the content-makers.

I happily buy DVDs for movies and TV series that i'm particularly keen on, and visit movie theatres and rent movies for newer content (as opposed to getting the MPAA all riled up) but I can fully appreciate the frustration of some.

At least DRM seems to be slowly dying, which is a boon for those who run open platforms that can't use proprietary DRM decoders. That's another major fall-down point...

By now Youtube regulars will have heard about "My Speed" functionality - Youtube now plot video performance data based on a fingerprint of IP and browser headers.

Mine just go to show how poorly TelstraClear are performing when it comes to Youtube:

They also publish a 'test video' which has plotted onto it, realtime performance. Mine wasn't great. (This test, btw, is from my Ubuntu 9.04 box, a P4 2.4Ghz machine with 512Mb ram i.e. not a speed demon (we know how flash under Linux is problematic)...

I'll do some tests under Windows next time the opportunity arises. Meanwhile I'll keep monitoring Geekzone's 15 Page Thread with TCL users discussing how Youtube is for them, a major issue - and that TCL are 'working on it'...

So lately i've managed to attend a couple of geek-conferences (Kiwicon late last year, LCA2010 this year) and the appeal of smartphones is starting to wear me down.

I've steered away from the smartphone world, mainly because I was able to get away with a very basic handset and still have access to it while at work.

The rules have changed, I'm basically not allowed my mobile on me at all times now @ work, so that side of things is now moot; i'm left considering my situation when i'm not at work.

Thus i'm currently rocking the Motorola K3:

Which being a Motorola Flip, is fairly reliable. It has 3G, which means i can actually surf the web from it (no javascript support!) and send/receive email (if you can be bothered with using a number pad data entry style). Unfortunately it's not much good for either in any great volume.

It does have a 2MP Camera; it does Bluetooth. And those are the main things I do with it, aside from SMS and Telephony. I also have one of these...

... being the Palm Z22, as my 'current generation' Palm Pilot (i've had PalmOS devices since my Handspring Visor...) - the Z22 basically is a diary and phonebook for the stuff I can't do on my phone. I'm also not meant to have the Z22 at work, either...

(I have a work-issued Blackberry from which I use the calendar (because it tracks my professional appointments as well as the relatively small number of personal ones I use) and because it's permitted to carry it on me in more places - but I rarely use the work phone for personal reasons (I have to refund the cost of doing so) and my personal cell number has been with me a lot longer than my current job.)

So what I'd really like, then...

.. Is a Bigger Screen,
A more flexible web browsing experience via 3G or Wifi,
A QWERTY Keyboard,

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