203 posts • joined Thursday 24th May 2007 11:14 GMT
Not so much to do with Wikipedia
As to do with the flat out fact that my ISP is choosing what I can see on the Internet. I don't recall agreeing to that in the terms and conditions that I was presented with when I signed up. That it is Wikipedia and that the page is being blocked in such a clumsy way is significant in that this would appear to be the first time that such a case has been noticed. I don't particularily care about the article in question, just that the page has been blocked by my ISP without my permission because a picture on it, which, as dubious as it is (I mean really, who thought that that would be an acceptable thing to put on an album sleeve even in 1976), is correct to show in the context of the article as it's the cover of the record under description.
For the love of Hollywood...
Yes, Apple is a closed system, and for a huge raft of reasons. The Mac is now just a nicely specced PC, a little bit ahead of the curve maybe, but an Intel powered PC all the same. The first time that Windows was booted on an Intel Mac was when Apple lost its otherness, and all it had to compete in the PC market was its operating system. This was, until recently a very good reason to buy one. Apple resolved all the problems of Linux on the desktop, wrapped them in Aqua and sold OS X to anyone who wanted to be able to do all the things that could done with open source software yet still have some gloss and a consistent operating environment. The iPod brought the company further into the mainstream, applying the principle that it applied to the personal computer to the MP3 player, and merging it with the desktop and a nice management system that went from a ripping tool to becoming a shop. The shop needed to sell things, music at first, but then as domestic bandwidth expanded, it could deliver TV and movies - and that's where Hollywood comes in. Even as the iTunes store is able to deliver last night's Lost in a way that would have been unthinkable when Steve unveiled the first Mac running OS X, Apple has had to kowtow to the software providers, the big four media companies, to get the right to sell their product digitally, and that has meant that the operating system has been compromised to recognise media files that will only play in specific software and to be sealed against tampering. Apple has done this because it doesn't just want to sell computers or media players, but wants to be the seller of media. Jobs' 'wilderness years' weren't spent in the wilderness at all, but in other parts of the same industry that he now wants to dominate not as a maker, but as the distribution mechanism. When Steve Jobs is not showing us how to order pizza on the iPhone, he is, let's not forget, the CEO of Pixar, who are the largest shareholder in Disney. That's where Apple is going, and while talking about shaking up the media delivery industry, it has had to compromise because the rest of that industry still can't see where it's going. I don't like it. OS X was simply the best operating system going for quite a while and I was happy to be a fanboi, but there are parts of it, and Apple, that might claim to be open and revolutionary, but in reality are anything but.
Clueless government officials ask industry experts for advice. Ooh, let's see... How about Home Office asks major IT consultancy about viability of national identity database? Or Department of Transport asks major bus operator about the future of public transport? Nothing to see here. Just lots to complain about.
re: 'B' is too generous for the iphone 3G f
Not defending the iPhone here but:
"It also prevents Sat Nav devices from getting traffic updates. When I raised this with Apple support, they suggested using the iphone's built in sat nav but went quiet when I pointed out the illegality of using a phone while driving and the impracticallity of doing so on a motorbike."
You'll find that the interpretation of 'using a phone' means having it stuck to your ear. The simple expedient of using a hands-free set is legal, as is mounting it on your dashboard using any kind of freely available mounting device. The person on the other end of the phone was probably being extraordinarily polite.
Qin Gang went on to say
'After waiting for fourteen years for a follow up to 'Use Your Illusion', the Cultural Committee also believe that the record was knocked up on ProTools by Buckethead, so it is a massive Fail.'
re: Useless as predicted
Bingo. But as the article points out, without creating millions of database transactions daily across a still mostly non-existent network, there isn't really an alternative. It means that the data on the card has got to be inviolable - that it can't be altered by a third party, it can't be copied and it can't be stored in any other way than on the card. The contract to collect the data and issue the cards will be given to one of a small number of approved contractors and of those, quite possibly the lowest bidder. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the ground and dust myself off.
Not really 2.0 is it?
Surely the niche aspect of internet selling was established when Jeff Bezos got his spreadsheets out after Amazon's first couple of years. Here's a case in point: I wanted a thermometer to measure room temperature in my house. I spent a fruitless Sunday afternoon driving around my local DIY and hardware stores and came up with nothing. I got home, did a search and found not one but two specialist thermometer shops, one of which furnished me with a handful of LCDs for a few quid.
I don't see that as having anything to do with the social aspect of Web 2.0 or the mechanical aspect of it. It's just commerce expanding in the way it does well. What is perhaps different from the halcyon days of 1998-9 is that the niche has remained niche because someone who sells thermometers knows that he's selling something that no-one else is. The growth of dropshipping means that a niche store doesn't even have to have stock, which is where Walmart or HMV or indeed Amazon hits the buffers. Even the model of home delivery learned its lesson after the debacles of Webvan or Peapod in the US, or the hopefuls who let people have bags of jelly babies be delivered by courier in London at the end of the decade.
In retail, the principle still seems to be 'if you build it, they will come'. Online it's 'if you build it and get yourself on Google and spend a bit on getting into the right places, your niche might not make you rich but it should turn you a living' *breathes*. The social aspect is that there is generally someone else out there who is interested in that same things that you're into and who might want to buy things from you, so shops arise out of collective interests (witness the trade in World of Warcraft items - that's an online market that only sells things that exist online) or a perceived niche - 'I can't buy one My Little Hentai doll in this country but I can buy a hundred and sell them to other people'.
As the first bubble burst in around 1999, the backlash had begun: I have a bunch of stickers somewhere that say things like 'I don't want to buy toothpaste online', comments on the ideas that had ridiculous sums of money thrown at them and crashed and burned on average in about 18 months. The lessons have been learned: even Walmart, or Asda in the UK, understands that the value of their online business is to sell what they stock, either through getting people into the shops or through home delivery, and not to sweat the minority requirements as someone else will stock them until, as with something that Deliah or Jamie uses on TV, they need to stock them - another advantage of linking stock management with a customer website - why is everyone suddenly looking for smoked paprika?
Nothing has changed
The public transport improvements were never not dependent on road pricing, which stank in the first place. GMPTE has run ahead with the Rochdale and Oldham extensions to the tram as a carrot for the yes vote but also as a fait accompli for the completion of the extensions. However Geoff Hoon is just reiterating what was said when the bid was accepted.
It is hugely unacceptable as a transport policy. The logical answer is encourage people out of their cars and to do this by improving public transport, but public transport policy suffers from the same firm belief that the people running it know best that got us into the state that we're in now.
re: Creation or evolution
Let's just have a look at the creationist's belief here: until a few years ago it was based entirely on Genesis in the Bible. As there is absolutely no scientific proof whatsoever for what was originally written down several thousand years ago, where there is evidence of evolution everywhere, intelligent design was invented to fill the bus sized holes in the creation myth, with the basic line being 'oh, well, perhaps we weren't created by a supreme being whose existence cannot ever be proved but the complexity and variety of life on Earth means that something must have done it.'
Gene Roddenberry used to say that the alien species on Star Trek all looked human because of some star-seeding race who had travelled the galaxy in prehistory. It certainly saved on expensive makeup, and indeed predates the concept of intelligent design by 20 years or so. Intelligent design is basically the same argument, except that there isn't a successful TV franchise behind it. Is that ridicule?
Strange attitude to timetable information
Here in West Yorkshire, Metro, the local transport authority, have a service called YourNextBus, which allows a passenger to text the number of bus stop to a five figure phone number to get the next buses due at that stop. The number is 11 figures long, which isn't that easy to remember, so I had the idea of writing an applet for Symbian phones that would allow the user to store their most used stops and send a query with a couple of keystrokes. I sent Metro an email outlining what I planned and they responded by saying that the information was copyrighted and should only be used by 'approved applications'. *shrug*
Another £100m not spent on a public transport policy
The government are, as usual, unable to see beyond the car. Electric cars might reduce roadside emissions but they aren't going to solve congestion problems. There are plenty of easy wins that could be made for a £100m but none of them give anything to the car industry or the roads business, so they won't happen.
Death of something predicted in 5..4..3..2..
Mobile companies, both the handset providers and the bandwidth providers, are very sensitive about their property. We buy our handsets from the phone company, subsidised for the life of the account. The retail price of the average smartphone is £3-400, proved by the cost of the Freerunner, and I'm sure that there are very few people reading this who slapped that down for their Crackberry or Pomegranate or whatever shiny toy dragged them into a Vodafone shop last time they passed. In return the providers support these phones, so if yours dies, you can call them and get some assistance in getting it fixed, even if it's just RTB, back up your SIM and get a new one. So the phone companies aren't keen on random software on their machines, and want some kind of control on what data goes in and out of it. Why isn't there a free usable version of MSN Messenger for non-Windows phones? Why is Opera pretty much the only decent alternative (and indeed often main) web browser for smartphones? One is because the phone companies believe IM bites into their call revenue in an unbalanced way, the other is because the web experience is potentially bandwidth-intensive and can't be guaranteed on a handset, despite what Apple thinks.
The G1 business model has been dictated by the success of the iPhone. Remember that Google weren't going to create a phone at first, but have probably been forced to by the reluctance of the phone companies to open their architecture. It came as no surprise to me that it was HTC who have picked it up because they are seemingly trying to find an alternative to Windows Mobile, but they will have required concessions, the FCC will have required concessions, there will have been concessions required for CE certification and no doubt T-Mobile will have had their say too. So a 'killswitch' is the response to a bunch of concessions for every party involved. It could be something as simple as the revocation of the API key, which Google use everywhere, and really, if you downloaded an app that calls Madagascar every 10 minutes, who would you be blaming?
One ray of hope
If it's civil servants implementing it, it will end up costing about five grand for every person in the UK and will involve having a card put in your PC with a label on it saying 'Property of HMG - do not touch'. And the card will be built of random components made in a factory in China.
Who uses RPM anyway?
RPM packages, yes, but the default package manager, on my 1and1 CentOS server anyway, is yum, which handles most of the dependency hell problems of RPM by using repositories - rpm(1) was really only designed as a local packaging tool. In that respect, yes, it's only a matter of choice, and anyway, Ubuntu and Debian have alien(1) available to handle rpms if necessary.
A warm feeling can be obtained
from the knowledge that the people sending the mails are actually being conned in the way that they think they are conning us. Many are paying shysters to be told ways to make $$$ fast with the assurance that the gullible euros will fall for it. Still can't beat the Nigerian astronaut trapped on the ISS though.
How about the rest of the cabinet?
Presumably their email is working and it's just the web front end to the Great Leader's account that isn't, or no doubt the mechanics of government, and definitely not any plotting at all, would grind to a halt.
Looks good here
I've had an E61 for over 18 months and it really has been the phone that I've wanted for years. I didn't miss a camera much but as a smartphone it's nicer than the SE P series and less ungainly than the Nokia Communicator, and doesn't run Windows Mobile like most of the Blackberries. I have used it to log into servers from the pub and it does VoIP pretty well over WiFi with a decent connection. I even didn't bother upgrading my phone when renewal time came around this time as T-Mobile didn't have anything that I wanted. Will I shell out for the update then? Well, not at the moment but that might change when I hold one in my hand. The buttons on my 61 are getting a bit tatty for that matter. Nokia do try and corner every aspect of the market, but as they've made the phone business their own, that's what they do, and when they do it properly, they make solid products. It's not an iPhone and you won't be buying albums from Starbucks on it any time soon but it looks like a rock solid business phone so I will be fondling it as soon as I find somewhere that stocks it.
Less than successful
The whole migration has been a fiasco. It's still unstable, and over the weekend didn't even support Firefox 3 on OS X. I use a Linux laptop at work and it still doesn't support Firefox on Linux at all, although I can jig that by sending a valid user agent string. A stunning use of 1990s browser detection technology on a system that claims to be cutting edge! I wouldn't mind if this was a free service but we are all paying for the privilege of being left without functioning web mail (mac.com webmail was shut down for three days without any news of when it would be back or even when me.com went on line). Teething troubles can be expected in any undertaking of the extent of MobileMe but it showed an appalling lack of forethought to withdraw support to paying customers in order to meet the needs of what is effectively a new product. I have complained about this on the Apple Support Discussion Forums but as usual it's been met with the usual wall of silence.
Got my invite to buy this morning
I suppose it's a win - I bought the OneT+ with a soft case for £119, and it does look a lot nicer than the One, although I like the idea of a tablet type thing with a detachable keyboard as an ebook reader, although it looks more Fisher-Price in the hands of a child than you'd really want. It does raise the question of what has actually happened to the One though - have they sold them all to education, or has the Chinese maker been unable to deliver or did it prove just to be crap?
Web 'n' Walk is always down
I haven't been able to get a usable connection in my town (north of Leeds, next to the airport) for weeks. There is never any capacity in London when I'm there and it's pot luck in central Manchester. This has been going on for getting on for 18 months. If you're going to promote a data service, make sure you can meet the demand.
Driving gloves for the Internet Superhighway
Dan is partially correct that the openness of the infrastructure of the Internet is part of the problem, but that's because much of the infrastructure is twenty years old and over and wasn't designed or indeed evolved for mass public access. The DNS protocol doesn't have security in by design, but its very openness has meant that security has been added to the resolver software.
Similarly browser software has evolved while retaining the same simple HTTP(S) protocol at its heart. The pragmatic approach has always been to allow new technology: this has lead to AJAX as an asynchronous method of delivering data in a way that only would have been dreamed about ten years ago (I know, I was one of the dreamers). However, as always there are those who will exploit new technology and break the very loose bonds of trust between browser developer and user. However, is it the browser's duty to protect us? Is it the operating system's?
Anyone could implement a sandpit - all it takes is a copy of VirtualBox and a disk image with enough to run Firefox in, which, with the plethora of portable distributions would be simple enough to even distribute on a smallish pen drive.
Similarly, as discussed in the article, it's easy enough to kit Firefox out with a good defence mechanism - NoScript, Adblock Plus and NoFlash are a good minimum starting position. Opera implements most of these options natively.
So why is Joe User still getting infected? Because the box shifters of business don't educate. Aunty Mabel wants to get on that Internet thing so she buys a £300 PC. The nice young salesman sells her some anti-virus software for another £30 so she must be all right. When the PC gets riddled with trojans and malware she'll take it back to the shop who will charge her more to 'clean it up', all the while not advising on her on how to prevent it in the first place.
In the end, education begins at home, and every one of us who knows enough to understand that the Internet can be unsafe, should at least tell one other person, and then maybe, slowly, the message will get through. Our choice of browser helps, but it isn't up to that browser to protect us from every situation - we have to make those choices ourselves based on the information we have.
59p so far...
From my FON router in an apartment block in Salford Quays, all from 15 minute free sessions (if you're reading this, hi!). On the other hand, my router at home has never and probably will never get a customer, as it overlooks a granny farm (not many surfin' grannies there) in a small rural town.
Fon is missing several tricks here: it should be selling itself into pubs and shops, rather than expecting businesses to volunteer. The router should act more like a grid or repeater to seamlessly share traffic on the move, and overall, it should be accessible. I can see that my home router is down from the FON website, but I can't get into it remotely to reset it. The Openzone service is, so far, a one way street for Fon users: we can use BTFon spots, which are generally in residential streets, and they can use our Fon spots, but we can't use Openzone, which is in towns. Fortunately my T-mobile wireless broadband account does... or will eventually. Maybe.
I had to fill in a CRB when working in the outsourced IT department of a major city council on the grounds that I had access to servers that belonged to the education department. Would that potentially see me added to the child protection database?
Of course Google indexes your email
Because you agreed to that when you signed up for a Gmail account, and it's one of the ways that Google collects information for its advertising and for its intelligence services. Can we please stop thinking that this is anything shocking. You are paying for using any of Google's services by contributing to their intelligence, and if that isn't acceptable, don't use Google. Easy.
I found my IE3 'I downloaded' t-shirt the other day. It will make a good duster.
Two stories about the same company on the front page?
Is there something you want to tell us, Mr Vance?
Linutop == Koolu
The Linutop machine is the same as the Koolu thin client/small form PC, and made by the same company who make the OpenMoko phone. Nice little machine, not quite powerful enough for a media server, but can be had for a bit over £100.
If anyone believed for a minute...
that the next government will abandon the project, they're very much mistaken. It will be presented to the incoming government in 2010 as a fait accompli by the Home Office, primarily because the amount of money spunked on it by then will be hard to reconcile with abandoning the process at whatever stage it's at. ID cards *might* be abandoned, but the national identity database will go ahead in some form or another irrespective of who is in power.
re: Fon Network?
If you look on Fon's forums, you'll find that the company is involved in a number of similar projects with telcos around the world including Telefonica in Spain and Time Warner in the US. What it hopefully means for Foneros is that we might have the promised reciprocal access to BT Hotspots soon (still isn't available - I tested it in St Peter's Square in Manchester last week).
As for the 15 minute free connection, a Fonera makes a princely 4p out of one if they're a bill, which is working for me (8p this weekend! Woohoo). I don't think this makes the FON_AP an open network, although using them for a commercial VOIP service is a bit cheeky on BT's part, so I will be watching mine for excessive voice use.
You don't, it would be on a load distributor like a BIG-IP or Cisco GSS which would present a single (but realistically multiple) IP address and route traffic into a server farm. I know MS used to have a load distributor version of IIS, don't know if they do now.
re: Still counting by hand
You *have* followed the issues around electronic voting in the US, haven't you? Diebold, who run one the most common voting systems in the country, have frequently been accused of allowing dubious and insecure practices,and it was revealed that the voting machines run Windows CE and are based on Excel and Access, which doesn't exactly offer a great deal of confidence with regard to their overall security and reliability.
It has been frequently said that an open, secure and accountable electronic voting system is possible, but the reality in most countries would be that the project would end up with the lowest bidder from the approved list, so I think on the whole I would rather stick with paper than have EDS helping me choose my MP.
re: Google is spammer heaven
That's newsgroups, not mail, and if it is a single cretin, there is such a thing as the killfile. Use an NNTP server and a Usenet client and you will see that such things still exist.
Unfortunately, OpenMoko doesn't have any big sexy backing so it's going to just chug along in the background. However, I have noticed that the handset is now being sold by resellers of First International Computer (Koolu, Lintop and the like) so it might yet become a reality.
Does the government have anyone advising on IT these days?
You know, someone who actually knows what they're talking about, and not some shiny suited spod from EDS, or worse still, a ponytailed baby boomer from the BPI? It's funny, the government pretends to be on the cutting edge but does it ever talk to any of the people who are genuinely innovating online?
re: Not really a Safari issue?
Any running daemon can be telnetted to and will probably return some kind of response, and *something* probably has a stack overflow issue that has been exploited in this case, although I strongly doubt that it's telnet itself. The bigger concern is probably that something that creates an open port that can be exploited can be launched by clicking on a link in Safari - if that is a reasonable analysis of the exploit.
And let's not forget
Webster is a *Linux* fanboi, it's admitted it itself, and I can assure you that there are *bigger* holes in Linux coming and they will be exposed as Linux gains popularity as a desktop through the growth of Ubuntu. I can see it happening now: I'm trying to build a couple of non-standard systems for specific purposes using Ubuntu and the problems that I'm having are being responded to by people who really don't know what they're talking about and on one occasion actually almost disabled a machine because the piece of software I was using, which is in the standard Ubuntu distribution, started producing logs that got to 32Gb in size by the time I worked out how to stop them.
Don't get me wrong: I love the freedom and innovation of FOSS, and I'm shortly going to be equipping a Dell XP1330 with Ubuntu for use as my business laptop because as much as I equally love OS X's usability it's getting too proprietary for my liking, and turning 'just works, with the power of Unix under the hood' to 'just works, with the power of the bits of Unix that we want you to use under the hood'. The only piece of OS X software that I would miss in every day use is Unison, and I'm working on that. However, the rushing featurism that seems to be a result of Ubuntu's growing feature set seems to be making things less stable and secure as opposed improving stability and security. This is my personal feeling after being a Linux user for 15 years or so and an enterprise Solaris engineer for 12 so don't call me on it, by the way. I also believe that Iif and when Linux crosses that magical line of having a measurable percentage of desktop users, it too will have to make enough concessions to usability to make it more open to security breaches.
When I get home tonight and boot my laptop there will be some updates to download as it's been switched off for a week. It's reassuring that problems are discovered and responded to quickly of course, but to suggest in any way that half of the issues aren't buffer overruns and the like that *could* become security problems would be deluding yourself. A brief trawl through the CERT lists would confirm this.
Oh... and by the way, if the exploit was through Safari, then it was mostly likely through Webkit, which is of course an open source project, running on an operating system which does, after all, share the same codebase for about 80% of it's functionality as, cor blimey, *BSD, which is also a number of FOSS projects. What exactly were we railing against, again?
Ah, that's why Sarkozy is here
He's come to accept our generator programme for EdF, who will build the power stations for free in return for a thirty year operating licence. As for disposing of the waste, well, that's someone else's problem, isn't it?
Broadly speaking, GFS, Nutch and Hadoop et al are all designed to improve processing rather than results as they're all about distributed systems on commodity hardware so they scale horizontally rather than vertically and improve the way that processors are used for those queries. JAQL does sound like the complementary query language for the system but I suppose that the implication is that it has to remember what queries 'work' by scoring them and remembering them, making them part of the information that's being processed in the first place...
re: Oops, Scribus is currently PPC only
The X11 version isn't, and I think they're concentrating on that at the moment. The Aqua version seems to have the same stumbling blocks as OpenOffice and other apps that *should* be able to be ported natively, although that's probably generally available development time.
Vince Clarke as celebrity endorsee
I remember seeing Erasure at my alma mater just before they got famous, and Vince's arsenal was a pair of BBC Bs and the UMI sequencer and three or four expanders on stands across the back of the stage. The old setup still lives in his studio and I seem to recall it has been used on a tune or two on recent LPs. He used to swear by its timekeeping.
Haven't OFCOM noticed
That 90% of current advertising on all commercial supported channels is for extortionate loans and stairlifts? TV advertising is all but dead except in peak programming time, which where ITV1 is concerned is 7.30 - 8.00 six nights a week. Perhaps that's what this ruling is aimed at, another break in Coronation Street.
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