EFF is running an experiment to look at what information people's browsers are giving away. Their new Panopticlick website will give you a "uniqueness score" when you visit it. It reckons my browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 15.5 bits of identifying information.
Metalink is a cross-platform and cross-application open standard/framework/file format for programs that download, including download managers, BitTorrent clients, Web browsers, FTP clients, and P2P programs.
Back in August Jeffrey Zeldman posted an article called Shorten This about the evils of URL shortening services. He says that publishers should publish their own short URLs so that others have no need to shorten them via third party services.
Twiter used to automatically shorten URLs using TinyURL but they jumped ship early this year in favour of bit.ly.
Interesting article about Freenet by Andy Beckett in The Guardian - The dark side of the Internet.
Up until October last year I had an ADSL connection with Nitrex that was still running at 512k, and I decided it was time to upgrade. They offered to put me up to 8 Meg at no extra cost but in the end I switched to Be Broadband which was a bit cheaper and is currently giving me 13,712k download and 1,325k upload! I am interested in getting an IPv6 connection but when I phoned Be technical support today they said they had no definite plans to offer IPv6, though they have thought about it and may offer it in the future. Here is a list of UK ISPs that do currently provide native IPv6 to their customers.
Howard Rheingold gave a good talk at Reboot Britain recently. I wasn't there but I just watched it online - 21st Century Literacies.
Ben Laurie doesn't think much of "Verified by Visa" - see More Banking Stupidity.
TOSBack keeps an eye on the terms of service for 58 websites, every time a policy changes an update will appear on the site.
Here is an interesting analysis of Opera Unite.
Trending Topics gives an up to date idea of which are the hottest topics on Wikipedia.
Rob Weir writes about the disinformation campaign being waged against ODF.
I just noticed a hit on my website from a machine called evil.ramstein.af.mil which is obviously at Ramstein Air Base (headquarters for U.S. Air Forces in Europe). In the last four months I have actually had hits from 23 dot mil machines (9 af, 8 army, 3 navy, 1 centcom, 1 uscg and 1 usmc), but "evil" was the best hostname.
I just read The Energy Nightmare of Server Farms by Jane Anne Morris. Server farms certainly do use a lot of energy, but not generally as much as aluminum smelters for example. And the total energy used by server farms is probably way less than that used by desktop computers. Google probably have more and bigger data centres than any other company - here is their Efficient Computing page which explains the issue from their point of view.
Digg have responded to widespread criticism of their DiggBar by announcing some welcome changes.
Last week Digg released something they call the DiggBar. John Gruber explains what it is, why it is bad, and how to block it.
Jason of 37signals writes about a service called Get Satisfaction which seems to be using fairly despicable tactics - Get Satisfaction, Or Else....
During a contest at the CanSecWest event, security researchers competed to exploit vulnerabilities in web browsers. Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer were all successfully compromised, but Chrome was able to withstand the first day of the competition.
What Bruce Sterling actually said about Web 2.0 at Webstock 09.
There is a new W3C recommendation for Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines - WCAG 2.0.
I just noticed some hits on my website from the Scoutjet web crawler.
The IWF has backed down over its listing of a Wikipedia URL.
Yesterday's news about UK blocking of Wikipedia has spread rapidly. The Open Rights Group have published an article about it today - IWF censors Wikipedia, chaos ensues.
Wikinews has learned that at least six of the United Kingdom's main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have implemented monitoring and filtering mechanisms that are causing major problems for UK contributors on websites operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.
The above story has now been picked up by the BBC - Wikipedia child image censored.
WikiScanner allows people to list anonymous wikipedia edits from interesting organisations.
The closure of a web hosting firm that is believed to have had spam gangs as clients has led to a drastic reduction in junk mail.
If you have time to kill it might be worth looking at the Unusual Articles page on Wikipedia.
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and publish the audio files on the Internet.
The Shadowserver Foundation gathers intelligence on the "darker side of the Internet".
China about to switch to IPV6?
In January of this year, Roger Darlington attended a workshop in Nuenen, where 97% of households are connected to a community owned fibre network. Each premise has two fibres, one for ethernet and one for analogue television. There is a single point of presence in the town housing all the connections to the wider Internet. Walsall in the UK intends to do something similar.
The UK government has until the end of August to respond to a letter from the European Union about a controversial system which monitors web traffic.
Apparently something like 88% of YouTube content is new and original.
Obfuscated TCP is a backwards-compatible modification to the TCP protocol which adds opportunistic encryption. It's designed to hamper and detect large-scale wiretapping and corruption of TCP traffic on the Internet.
YouTomb is a research project by MIT Free Culture that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation.
Wikipedia Tries Approval System to Reduce Vandalism on Pages.
Dan Kaminski and Paul Vixie have been working on addressing some widespread cache poisoning vulnerabilities in DNS implementations and Dan Bernstein's advocacy of source port randomisation has been vindicated - see CERT vulnerability note VU#800113.
Web payment firm Paypal has said it will block "unsafe browsers" from using its service as part of wider anti-phishing efforts.
There is a good Johnathan Zittrain essay in the Boston Review called Protecting the Internet Without Wrecking It How to meet the security threat.
As it approaches crunch time for Microsoft's attempted railroading of its OOXML "standard" through the ISO fast track process, Rob Weir publishes an interesting comparison which neatly show that OOXML is horribly inconsistent, even internally, compared to the existing ODF standard.
Dan Berstein on The IPv6 mess.
MapReduce is a programming model and an associated implementation developed at Google Labs for processing and generating large data sets.
Microsoft bets on Atom Publishing Protocol as the future direction for Web APIs.
Yahoo has announced its adoption of some of the key standards of the "semantic web".
I just removed some entries about social networking stuff from this page and put them on a separate page which I have called Going Social.
Here is the webcast of the "What's in a Name?" event that I attended on January 28th (if you only watch one of the presentations then for humour value alone I suggest the one by Jonathan Zittrain). There are at least two blog entries about the event - one by Nico Macdonald and one by John on 123.reg.
And speaking of Jonathan Zittrain, he is the co-founder of the Chilling Effects website, where Google and others report on requests for censorship of information.
Microsoft and Yahoo's shotgun marriage.
On Monday I made my way to The Royal Society in London to attend an event put on by the Oxford Internet Institute called "What's in a name? The History and Future of the Domain Name System". There was a panel of seven speakers, including Paul Mockapetris, who gave the keynote. I didn't ask any questions in the meeting but there was free food and wine afterwards and I got to ask some questions then. Then I retired to a nearby hostelry for a few beers with a couple of other attendees that I had never met before, one of whom was involved with Demon Internet in the early days.
By the way, the event began with a video called "25 Years of DNS" which was put together by the meeting organiser and is available on YouTube.
Network Solutions is domain squatting on a massive scale.
Bruce Schneier advocates leaving your home wireless network entirely open.
I have discovered the very useful robtex swiss army knife which is a set of tools for checking domain names, IP addresses etc for all the usual things plus a comprehensive check against many rbl lists. I just realised that it would be useful for me (and hopefully others) to add a page om my site listing these sort of tools, so I have created Internet Tools which I will try to remember to add to.
Some people get freaked out when they go to an HTTPS website and see a security warning pop up. For those of us who understand these things it is actually very reassuring - the system would not be secure if it didn't warn you. It generally happens when you go to a site which has a certificate signed by an authority that is not recognised by your browser. If I was building a secure site I would get my certificate signed by CAcert. One advantage is that they don't charge the outrageous fees demanded by commercial authorities (in fact it is free) but there is a disadvantage in that the CAcert root certificate is not installed in many browsers. The solution is pretty simple; either ignore the warning or install the CAcert root certificate. Here is a wiki page on Certification which explains it all in more detail.
reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitising books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher. I haven't bothered using it for my contact form because it gets used so rarely that I would not be making a significant contribution.
Amazon Web Services provides developers with direct access to Amazon's technology platform. On December 13th they announced Amazon SimpleDB which is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time.
Google are developing a new free tool called knol, which stands for unit of knowledge - the goal is to encourage people who know a a particular subject to write an authoritative about it. The key idea behind the project is to highlight authors.
I have just created a new page on Web Standards.
Microsoft has bought online mapping company Multimap to expand its web business, the US firm said. Oh well, there are plenty of other options for maps.
Cade Metz writes in The Register about how a rogue editor revealed that the Wikipedia administrators are using a secret insider mailing list to crack down on perceived threats to their power.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a report (PDF) containing analysis of Comcast's Internet traffic interference activities. The EFF's study provides strong evidence that Comcast is using packet-forging to disrupt peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing on their network.
Tim Bray On Communication (comparing face-to-face, telephone, email, SMS, twitter etc).
Consumer demand for bandwidth could see the Internet running out of capacity as early as 2010, a new study warns.
Joshua Porter has a good article about web design vs graphic design - Do Canonical Web Designs Exist?.
Stephen Fry writes about botnets.
A Swedish hacker tells how he infiltrated a global communications network used by scores of embassies over the world, using tools freely available on the Internet.
I have four currently registered dot org dot uk domains registered with Mythic Beasts and each time I registered one of these I got a confirmation letter by snail mail from Nominet. This must be partly just to confirm that a valid postal address has been given. On the confirmation letter there is a security code which allows you to log in to the Registrants Online thing at Nominet and print out a certificate.
Back in January of this year I had a problem accessing Registrants Online using Safari. I emailed Nominet about the problem and also suggested that it would be useful if people could have a single account listing all their domains rather than having to keep a record of the security code for each domain and log in to them individually. Someone at Nominet told me that this was in development and would be "going live later this year".
Well they made the deadline! The last time one of my domains came up for renewal, after renewing it through Mythic Beasts I got an email from Nominet (on 2007-10-24) saying that an account had been created for me. I managed to activate the account and I assumed I could merge my other domains into it. I have now merged my domains into a single Nominet account but it was not straightforward. Basically I had to get Nominet to "activate" the domains because they are generally only activating domains when they are renewed (or registered or transferred). You can either wait for your domains to come up for renewal or ask Nominet to activate them for you. What they can do is activate all domains associated with your email address.
I have one other dot org dot uk domain which I have informally transferred to a friend. He manages it under his own account at Mythic Beasts but the whois entry still lists me, because it has not officially been transferred. The transfer fee used to be £30 but it has now been reduced to £10 so I decided to transfer it properly, which involves a fairly complex procedure.
The OpenDocument Foundation is now apparently working to try to kill ODF rather than promote it - what is going on?
Mark Taylor is president of the UK Open Source Consortium. In this interview with Groklaw's Sean Daly he talks a bit about the OSC and a lot about the scandal of BBC building a Microsoft only player which prevents licence fee payers using a service that they have paid for.
About a month ago I noticed that I was listed at zoominfo. I managed to take control of my profile without giving a credit card number, but it is a bizarre system! I have just created a dedicated page for stuff about zoominfo.
The Absolute Poker Cheating Scandal Blown Wide Open.
The pool.ntp.org project is a big virtual cluster of timeservers striving to provide reliable easy to use NTP service for millions of clients without putting a strain on the big popular timeservers.
I was just reviewing a list of URLs that I had noted down over the past year or so and came across CircleID which is described as a "community hub for the Internet's Infrastructure & Policies".
The Condorcet Internet Voting Service is a free Internet voting service that makes it easy to conduct elections and polls on the Web.
A weapon used to fight spammers is now helping university researchers preserve old books and manuscripts.
A cartoon from xkcd about women on the Internet - Pix Plz.
Apple's online store has been revamped and Jeffrey Zeldman writes about it in Say hello to web standards.
I spotted a cookie in my browser from cia.vc and wondered what it was (at least it was not from cia.gov!). Apparently CIA is a "real-time window into the open source world". It can send an IRC bot into a channel to instantly report progress on projects. The most active project today for example is Mahara.
miro is a free and open-source Internet video player.
An atoll in the South Pacific has come up with a novel way of making money via its domain name .TK.
Images from Google Earth are being enrolled in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett.
Back in 2004 I linked to www.copyfight.org but it has since gone offline (Netcraft saw it in 2003 but failed to resolve the hostname in 2005). The domain name is currently registered to Donna Wentworth from EFF/Berkman center, who is now listed (alongside the likes of Aaron Swartz) as one of the authors on a Copyfight blog at CORANTE, which describes itself as:
The world's first blog media company, Corante is a trusted, unbiased source on technology, science and business that's authored by highly respected thinkers, commentators and journalists; read by many of the sector's top entrepreneurs, executives, funders and followers; and is helping to lead the emergence of blogging as an influential and important form of reportage, analysis and commentary.
Following on from my previous entry I have just been reading Neubia's HTTPSY is perfect for web services.
When you dereference a URL, the keepers of the DNS and PKI determine which web server responds to your request. To make the WWW a "weblike, decentralized infrastructure" for representing trust, we need a way for WWW entities to directly link to each other. YURLs, such as httpsy URLs, enable linking without indirection through centralized authorities like the DNS or PKI.
Following a link from the above I came across an even more interesting page called Lambda for Humans: The PetName Markup Language.
The BBC has revealed that it's on demand TV service will be launched on 27 July. Unfortunately, even though the Trust will require the Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe, they will initially be using Microsoft's proprietary DRM systems and the iPlayer will only run on Windows XP. I have just emailed the BBC about this issue.
Addendum: EC threat to BBC over downloads.
Tim Bray again, this time commenting on Sun's implementation of an OpenID provider for Sun employees.
Tim Bray comments on the response to Tim O'Reilly's call for a blogger's code of conduct.
This happens over and over. New WS-* spec submission, check. Insanely huge charter locking down the conclusion and ensuring a rubber-stamp outcome, check. Loads of dependencies on WS-standards, WS-drafts, WS-submissions, and other WS-handwaving, check. Resolute obliviousness to other technologies that address the same problem, check.
T. A. Limoncelli and P. H. Salus have published a book called The Complete April Fools' Day RFCs:
RFCs are the documents that the IETF publishes to document how the Internet works. On April 1 of each year sometimes one or two are published that are parodies. This book collects them all under one cover in a book suitable for your coffee table, office, or hidden somewhere so your friends don't know how geeky your humor is. Bonus material includes commentary by Salus and Limoncelli, other funny and historical RFCs (the ones not published in April), plus forewords by Mike O'Dell, Scott Bradner, and Brad Templeton. The perfect gift for the network administrator or computer scientist!
Google have taken steps to further improve their privacy practices.
If you are interested in web standards you might like to read Ethan Marcotte's Where Our Standards Went Wrong.
I was asked to look at adding facilities to a website to make bookmarking pages easier, particularly for social bookmarking services. It turns out that this is one aspect of what is known as Social Media Optimization. I had already created a Digg account so the first step was to create a test page with a "digg it" button. That was easy, and I was going to go on to add buttons for other services when I discovered a sort of meta-service called AddThis.com which looked like it might be a good solution.
An EU bid to make Internet broadcasters subject to the same laws as traditional television is "seriously misguided", a House of Lords committee has said.
The BBC is running a public consultation on its plans for the provision of on-demand services. One of the questions is:
How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?
I responded to the consultation, explaining that it was extremely important. If anyone else wants to respond then they can do so here.
Vint Cerf, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, warned of the danger of botnets taking over the Internet. He said that of the 600 million computers on the Internet, between 100 and 150 million had already been assimilated.
Craig Cook has some excellent advice for graphic designer types who want to create good web pages - see How to Grok Web Standards.
I heard about Citizendium a few months ago but have not commented on it till now. It started as a fork of Wikipedia but the idea is that it will be more tightly controlled, with editors and "constables", and with authors expected to use their real names. It is expected to publicly launch early this year but I have already seen accusations of racism and of the project enforcing an "establishment" point of view. It remains to be seen ho these sort of issues will be resolved.
Here is a good comparison of Digg and Reddit.
eyeOS is an Open Source Web Desktop Environment, commonly known as Web Operating System (Web OS) or Web Office.
Hundreds of episodes of BBC programmes will be made available for free on a file-sharing network for the first time, the corporation has announced.
Someone on a Mac newsgroup wanted to use wget but could not find it in Mac OS X. I pointed out that curl provides the same functionality and is included. Someone else said that curl is better than wget for a number of reasons and pointed out these criticisms of wget.
Apparently Google has decided to shut down its SOAP-based search API - is this the beginning of the end for open web data APIs?
Someone was having problems with FTP and asked a question about it on Usenet, which I attempted to answer. I referred them to this Definitive Explanation about the difference between active and passive FTP.
BitTorrent has acquired uTorrent.
Tim Bray believes that developers should abandon W3C XML Schemas (XSD) and rebuild stuff using schemas based on Relax NG (ISO 19757).
psiphon is a human rights software project developed by the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies that allows citizens in uncensored countries to provide unfettered access to the Net through their home computers to friends and family members who live behind firewalls of states that censor.
YouTube lawyers have had the unmitigated cheek to send a cease and desist letter to TechCrunch about an app that allows people to save YouTube videos to their hard disk. These people are truly from another planet. Lawrence Lessig has blogged about it in More bad karma: When Web 2.0 meets lawyers 1.0.
When Tim Berners Lee writes an article about HTML it is probably worth reading, so check out Reinventing HTML.
The British developer of the world wide web says he is worried about the way it could be used to spread misinformation and "undemocratic forces".
Another round in the spamwar by John E. Dunn is a good summary of the background to the e360 vs Spamhaus battle.
I just dug up something interesting from way back in 2002 regarding strange behaviour of Microsoft Internet Explorer. People had been noticing that IE seemed to run either impossibly fast or ridiculously slow. One possible explanation was a borked TCP/IP connection setup procedure which had been designed to make IE run fast against sites served by Microsoft IIS, at the expense of broken behaviour on other sites. Basically IE was sending an HTTP request to the server before establishing a TCP/IP connection. IIS was designed to respond to such bogus packets and leave the connection half open in case another request followed. Hopefully Microsoft have seen the error of their ways by now and fixed their products, but I wouldn't bet on it. Anyway, here is the original What makes IE so fast? article.
While I am dusting off old news I might as well mention something else, this time from a 2003 blog entry. Someone noticed that a daemon process in charge of keeping an ssh connection open to a remote host was restarting ssh every two hours and eleven minutes.
Brent Simmons did a presentation on hybrid apps at C4 (he defines hybrid apps as desktop apps that integrate with the web).
David Linhardt, owner/operator of a Chicago-based bulk email outfit e360 Insight LLC that was listed by Spamhaus for sending spam to Spamhaus users, filed a lawsuit in an Illinois court with no jurisdiction over the United Kingdom and obtained a default judgement ordering Spamhaus in the United Kingdom to pay Linhardt damages, to remove evidence of Linhardt's spamming from Spamhaus' ROKSO database and to cease blocking Linhardt's spam sent to Spamhaus users.
Piggy Bank is a Firefox extension that turns your browser into a mashup platform, by allowing you to extract data from different web sites and mix them together.
Google is buying video-sharing website YouTube for $1.65bn in shares after a weekend of speculation that a deal was in the offing.
The W3C QA Toolbox is useful "portal" to access W3C QA tools, though for some reason it does not link to their Semantic Data Extractor (which for pages on my site currently only extracts the Title and Language code).
Aaron Swartz managed a respectable 6th place in the election for a seat on the Wikimedia Foundation's Board, but the seat went to "Eloquence" - see results.
I just read EFF's Six Tips to Protect Your Online Search Privacy. Personally, I don't bother with any of the countermeasures suggested and prefer to just act as if my Google search history were public. However, I will be more aware of the terms I search for now, and refrain from some searches that I might otherwise have done "just for fun":-)
WebDAV is an IETF working group. The abbreviation stands for Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning. The term also refers to the set of extensions to the HTTP protocol that the group defined which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers.
Aaron Swartz attended Wikimania and was persuaded to run for a seat on the Wikimedia Foundation's Board. Check out his blog entry Wikimedia at the Crossroads and consider voting for him (I would have done but am not qualified because I have not done enough edits and have not been editing for long enough).
In The Techniques of Mass Collaboration: A Third Way Aaron Swartz refers to Mark Pilgrim's posting about "million dollar markup" vs "million dollar code". He uses the Semantic Web and Google as examples of the two approaches and suggests that Wikipedia represents a "third way" which which he calls "million dollar users".
According to this BBC article it seems that Microsoft have succumbed to pressure to support ODF.
The US Democrats appear to be taking up the net neutrality issue in a big way.
A US Senate committee has approved a bill which aims to let Internet service providers provide some customers - and companies - with preferential services.
I knew about various "green energy" companies but this is the first green isp I have noticed.
Someone recommended using Clusty as a search engine.
Apparently Google made some big changes in January which left some webmasters rather unhappy.
Over 55,000 websites are powered by the Drupal open source content management system.
There is a lot of noise being made at the moment about "Net Neutrality". It seems that the US Congress is pushing a law which would threaten Net Neutrality. Save the Internet is a coalition of over 600 groups which is campaigning against this law (HR 5252), but their website seems a bit misleading to me, since HR 5252 would only directly affect those Internet users who happen to live in the United States. If that includes you then you should probably look into it. The big telcos are busy lobbying Congress and playing dirty by setting up astroturf groups like "Hands Off the Internet" to confuse the issue and give the appearance of grassroots support.
The BBC has updated the way net users can search across its news and sport websites and its programme webpages.
ISO/IEC has approved the adoption of the OASIS OpenDocument Format (ODF) standard.
The BBC today unveiled radical plans to rebuild its website around user-generated content, including blogs and home videos, with the aim of creating a public service version of MySpace.com.
As a Solaris admin for 6 years at the University of Hertfordshire I got to learn a lot of interesting stuff about the Internet, but one thing which always seemed unclear was whether to put "example.herts.ac.uk" in /etc/hosts or just "example", or both, and if so in which order. That is until 2004 when I read this post by Mark Crispin in comp.mail.pine (in summary, the correct thing is to always put the FQDN first in all host table entries). Here is a good introduction to host identification from the gnu libc documentation.
I have never really understood what people mean by "Web Services". Recently I saw a reference to something called "REST" and looked it up. It turns out to be an acronym for REpresentational State Transfer and it is explained in an excellent article by Paul Prescod called Roots of the REST/SOAP Debate.
Google has launched its latest salvo against rivals such as Yahoo and Microsoft, unveiling a free online calendar service.
OSIN has been Mapping the Iraqi IPv4 Address Space. Since the infrastructure was effectively destroyed during the war, the vast majority of Internet activity throughout Iraq is taking place on IP ranges assigned to the US and Britain.
Apparently D-Link have designed their products so badly that it is essentially impossible to fix a problem that they are causing. See this Open Letter to D-Link about their NTP vandalism.
I have been seeing more frequent attacks on my formmail script recently - about one every couple of weeks. Each attack comprises three hits in rapid succession, each with slightly different content. The purpose is obviously to see if the script can be used as a relay - which it can't because I wrote it:-) It is a bit annoying but the characteristic attack signature is easy to spot and I just have to ignore the three resulting emails. The closely related problem of comment/guestbook spam does not affect me because I do not have any such facilities on my site, but it is a big problem for many sites. Gerard Calderhead has implemented SpamKit as one possible form of defence.
I just read on BoingBoing that YouTube has twice the traffic of Yahoo! Video and more than three times that of Google Video and AOL Video. I had never heard of it so I went to the site and looked at the list of today's featured videos. To my surprise I recognised the still for one of them as being a rather eccentric protester dancing in Trafalgar Square, having witnessed the spectacle first hand myself:-) I checked out a few more videos and some of them were pretty good so I created an account in order to keep track of my favourites.
OpenGuides is a network of free, community-maintained "wiki" city guides to which anyone can contribute.
Want to test your website with disabled end users but don't know where to start? The UsabilityExchange might be the place to go if you are prepared to pay to get your site tested by disabled users - and if you are a disabled user yourself it seems you can get paid for testing.
Online codebreaking enthusiasts working to solve a series of German World War II ciphers have cracked the second of three codes.
Apparently Justin Berry made hundreds of thousands of dollars starting at age 13 performing sexually in front of his webcam and subsequently ran a number of pay teen sites with sexual content. It seems that it is forbidden to say anything about him on Wikipedia, fuelling allegations that Jimbo Wales is deliberately flouting Wikipedia policy in order to protect Mr Berry.
The Internet Research Clinic has a collection of Undercover Tools.
Check out Boing Boing's Guide to Defeating Censorware.
The ODF Alliance was launched today, its mission to promote improved access to a retrieval of electronic government documents.
Google has announced the restricted search site for China (google.cn) which will censor queries in line with Chinese law. At least they plan to notify users when access has been restricted. One thing which will almost certainly be restricted is this NSA report on the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Google is resisting efforts by the US Department of Justice to force it to hand over data about what people are looking for.
Since I often cite Wikipedia on my website I thought I should also add a link to a site which is critical of Wikipedia - so here is Wikipedia Watch.
National boundaries have survived in the virtual world - and allowed national laws to exert control over the Internet. So say Jack Goldsmith and Timothy Wu in this precis of their book "Who Controls the Internet?".
EU Vice-President Margot Wallstrom has criticised Google, Microsoft and Yahoo of having "flexible ethical standards depending on where they operate". In her blog she accused these companies of sacrificing ethics and corporate social responsibility in order to secure a slice of the rapidly expanding Chinese economy. Well done Margot!
Although the BBC use Apache for their main website, it seems they are using a web server called Zeus for their news server.
More than 5% of the net's most popular domains have been registered using "patently false" data reveals a report.
Online encyclopedia Wikipedia has tightened its submission rules following a complaint.
Check out The Laws of Identity on Kim Cameron's Identity Weblog.
A crucial UN summit on expanding net access around the world has ended in Tunis marred by controversy over censorship and who runs the Internet.
Yesterday I received an unsolicited letter from ILSCorp which looked like an invoice but was just an annoying attempt to extort money from me for a "service" which I never asked for and would not want even if it was free. This LiveJournal entry has some more info.
The illegal trade in wild animal products over the Internet is driving the world's most endangered species to extinction, wildlife campaigners claim.
The plan for a virtual red light district through the creation of a .xxx net domain name has hit delays after concern from government officials.
Google Mobile is a service designed to be accessed on mobile devices such as phones. The service can be accessed using a standard browser at www.google.com/xhtml and when I tried it out I learned a few things. For a start the search page is written in XHTML using the XHTML Mobile 1.0 DTD. You might guess that this applies also to the results pages and you would be correct. What is more interesting though is that when you click on one of the results you see the page via a WML proxy machine called wmlproxy.google.com, which turns the page into the same form of XHTML! A quick test showed that it is possible to use this proxy machine directly yourself. For example www.microsoft.com ends up looking like this.
The URL I gave on 2004-09-27 for an article at Google Watch is now giving a 404 error. On further investigation it seem that the article was updated on 2005-06-04 and is now available at a new URL. It was interesting to read this article again, and I lead me to take another look at Scroogle.
A security expert has agreed never to repeat what he knows about flaws in software from networking giant Cisco.
Need a certificate for your website? Don't fancy paying Verisign $349 for a one year certificate? Well you don't have to - CAcert provides SSL certificates for free. There will be a CAcert assurance event at the forthcoming Linux 2005 conference in Swansea.
The EURid website explains the new top level .eu domain.
If you want to look at something on a website that requires registration but you are fed up of creating new accounts then enter the URL in BugMeNot and it may well give you a username/password that you can use!
Here is a useful Introduction to Spyware Keyloggers by Sachin Shetty.
Google now offers satellite photographs of many locations in the US and Canada.
The 6th International Conference on Cyber Crime has just taken place in Cairo. Apparently a police officer was discovered walking round the secure conference area with a live virus on his Nokia 6600!
It appears that a new weblogging engine called Typo is gaining fans rapidly.
The Web Standards Project is a grassroots coalition fighting for standards that ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all. They have released the ACID 2 browser test to help browser vendors ensure proper support for web standards in their products.
Orbit Research is an independent UK company specialising in satellite Internet connection systems, space education and satellite earth station and satellite communication products.
The UK leads the world in home computers that have been hijacked by malicious hackers, warns a report.
In the mid 1990's I was working at a scientific research centre in the UK that had no Internet access of any kind. After a while I got permission to get a dial-up connection for the engineering department and went for the "tenner a month" Demon Internet service. Recently I came across the Demon.Service FAQ which brought back some nostalgic memories:-)
The Spoono Linkbase lists many interesting websites with an emphasis on graphic design.
I haven't played computer games since my grad student days at Dartmouth College back in the late 80's when I was hooked on Larn for a while. Of course things have moved on since then and my two housemates fritter away countless hours playing games like Call of Duty - something which does not appeal to me in the slightest. But then I look at something like the FaerieMUD Project and it does look pretty cool.
Swoogle is a crawler-based indexing and retrieval system for the Semantic Web - RDF and OWL documents encoded in XML or N3. Swoogle extracts metadata for each discovered document, and computes relations among them.
Perusing my Apache logs recently (yes I do know how geeky that sounds!) I realised that I have been at the receiving end of what is known as "referrer spam". This is where some greedy or egotistical little shit employs a tool such as Reffy (a mere $50 from the antisocial folks at AdminShop.com) to hit a load of websites with a referrer URL and User-Agent set to values of their own choosing. This "works" best for the culprit when the sites that they attack auto-publish weblogs on the web (so it was a waste of time attacking zenatode). See this thread at dionidium.com for more info. Prompted by this I started to learn about .htaccess files but have not yet resorted to using them.
While I am on my high horse (it feels good up here) I might as well rant a bit about the fsckers at Yahoo! (I include the trailing shriek both for accuracy and to mock them). Not content with deploying broken bounce handling software (which I discuss on my email page) I now find out that they use web bugs - nasty little creatures commonly employed by evil spammers and their ilk. To their credit, Yahoo! do disclose this fact, but they refer to them as "web beacons" to make them sound less evil.
I just tried a beta service from Google called Google Suggest. I also noticed that www.google.com is now automagically redirecting me to www.google.co.uk.
If you care about recent developments in blogging API's you should check out this State of the API address at "chaotic intransient prose bursts"
I was wondering how long it would take for the new Lycos anti-spam weapon to start causing problems - it is happening already.
Make LOVE not SPAM is a Lycos website where one can download a "screensaver" for Windoze or Mac that targets spammers by requesting data from sites that sell the goods and services mentioned in spam e-mail.
Apparently there are some basic security concerns with Cisco IP phones.
Firefox browser takes on Microsoft.
For some interesting ideas about web design try looking at Eric A. Meyer's css/edge.
Check out this Groklaw interview with Sarah Deutsch, Esq. on RIAA v. Verizon.
I was checking my Apache logs for hits on a particular page on my site and noticed some from an IP address with no DNS entry. Upon further investigation it was in a netblock belonging to a company called Cyveillance which is responsible for a particularly unpleasant bot that apparently runs around ignoring robots.txt and misrepresenting itself. See Cyveillance Exposed.
For the up to date news about global government attacks on the Independent Media Organisation keep checking this breaking news page.
The reasons for the US clampdown on independent media sites are still not clear, but the BBC have now picked up the story.
It seems that US authorities issued a federal order to Rackspace ordering them to hand over Indymedia hardware to the requesting agency. No one appears to know why - here is the 2004-10-07 Indymedia press release.
Lucy Sherriff covers the covers the launch of the UK version of the Creative Commons license.
More than 55 gigabits per second of data are regularly passing through the London Internet Exchange, making it the world's busiest data hub.
On sites with more than a few thousand pages, Google is not indexing anywhere from ten percent to seventy percent of the pages it knows about. For the full story check out Google is dying at Google Watch.
Samizdat is a generic RDF-based engine for building collaboration and open publishing web sites. It was inspired by Matthew Arnison's Open Publishing initiative, Active engine used by Indymedia and by Rusty Foster's Scoop engine used by Kuro5hin and other sites.
This month saw the publication of rfc3870 (application/rdf+xml Media Type Registration). I wonder if that makes Aaron Swartz the youngest person to have ever had work published as an rfc?
The Introduction and one chapter of William Fisher's book Promises to Keep are available on line. Subtitled "Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment" this book is highly recommended by Lawrence Lessig.
Emin Martinian is developing an Open Source Distributed Internet Backup System called DIBS.
The UK Freedom of Information Act received Royal Assent on 2000-11-30 and on 2005-01-01 it will come into force. I wonder how many IT managers are going to be putting in overtime to get their systems ready to comply with requests for information?
plaNETlab is an open platform for developing, deploying, and accessing planetary-scale services.
Lawrence Lessig comments on a plan to turn all of Philadelphia into a huge "wi-fi hotspot" by installing 802.11 access points in street lights!
I have started to take the web so much for granted that I rarely stop and think how amazing it really is. For example, if you want to know whether someone is an agent or informant, just try Who's a Rat - not the sort of information that was readily available in the pre-Internet era!
I have just heard the excellent news that Grokster have won their case against MGM. People can now carry on writing useful software without the fear that they will be sued if someone uses it to do something illegal. Common sense has prevailed - EFF have more details and there is an interesting "what next?" discussion on the Lessig Blog.
WASTE is an anonymous, secure, and encrypted collaboration tool which allows users to both share ideas through the chat interface, and share data through the download system.
With the profusion of instant messaging systems, multi-protocol clients such as Gaim are proving their worth. However, I recently discovered another approach which allows any IRC client to talk to other messaging services via a virtual IRC server called BitlBee.
The UK IPv6 Task Force, in conjunction with RIPE and the European IPv6 Cluster, is presenting a programme of IPv6 events from 23rd-24th September 2004 in Manchester.
Simon Cozens has written an article called The Evolution of Perl Email Handling which introduces the Perl Email Project - an effort to produce simple, efficient and accurate mail handling modules.
The Dutch Parliament's stand on software patents has caused a stir.
Good news! The Dutch Parliament have withdrawn support for software patents.
UK police are looking into complaints about excessive phone bills, allegedly caused by PC software that secretly dials up premium rate numbers. This has actually been going on for years but it can't affect me because I never plug my modem in, connecting to the Internet instead via wireless ADSL router.
I should possibly have a separate section for "Intellectual Property" (IP) issues but for the moment I will just mention a couple of relevant sites that I have looked at recently. Public Knowledge "advocates a fair and balanced approach to copyright and technology policy" (presumably that does not mean "fair and balanced" in the sense that Bill O'Reilly uses the phrase). At first sight though, the new Copyfight website by Donna Wentworth looks more interesting. It is now a group-authored weblog which includes contributions from Aaron Swartz.
My own position in the IP debate can simply be stated as "information wants to be free"; and in the Internet age any attempt to resist this "law" will either lead society down the path to totalitarianism or (optimistically) will be doomed to ultimate failure.
I read an interesting article titled The non-world non-wide non-web which is rather critical of the W3C. I am not saying that the W3C is above criticism, but the article and some of the comments seemed to give the misleading impression that XHTML and HTML are somehow incompatible. I added my own comment in attempt to clarify. Another comment mentioned the Web Hypertext Application Working Group.
Ernest Miller has given us an obsessively annotated Introduction to Senator Orrin Hatch's INDUCE Act. This piece of legislation seems to have been designed to stop people from creating useful tools that could be used for purposes which violate copyright. It is clearly targeted at P2P software, which can obviously be used to so, but then so can email, tape recorders, cameras, photocopiers etc. This bill, if passed, would have the effect of severely restricting the ability of people to freely communicate ideas amongst themselves. If it was designed to stop people from creating tools that could be used to massacre children (ie guns) I would be more sympathetic.
Joel Spolsky wrote an excellent article called How Microsoft Lost the API War in which he argues that the rise of Web applications is making the Win32 API irrelevant. It is quite a long article, packed with insight.
It would seem that Arend Lammertink deserves a special award for his efforts to stop the European Software Patent juggernaut! The democratic process may yet win over the relentless lobbying of greedy software giants. Read Arend's report about how he managed to "shake the bed" in the Dutch Parliament.
The president of Finland has presented Tim Berners-Lee with the first-ever Millennium Technology Prize.
If I had known about NotCon '04 I would have attended. It was billed as a "one-day conference intended as some sort of answer to all those cutting-edge technological get-togethers they're always having in the USA". It was last Sunday in London and the lineup of "mind-boggling" speakers included Brewster Kahle and Cory Doctorow.
Strange coincidence! Having only yesterday discovered First Monday, today I came upon Eric Raymond's response to Nikolai Bezroukov's FM Critique of Vulgar Raymondism. Now I can see that Bezroukov has a point - which is basically that Open Source is not the answer to Life the Universe and Everything - but then Raymond clearly does not think that it is. Where Bezroukov is totally off base is in accusing Raymond of vulgar Marxism! Even a brief perusal of Raymond's website should reveal that he is a hard core free-market Libertarian.
First Monday is one of the first peer-reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet. They have just published an interesting paper by Ilkka Tuomi called Evolution of the Linux Credits file: Methodological Challenges and reference data for Open Source research.
PieSpy is an IRC bot that monitors a set of IRC channels. It uses a simple set of heuristics to infer relationships between pairs of users. These inferences allow PieSpy to build a mathematical model of a social network for any channel.
The software patent issue is still on the boil in Europe. I must admit that I am not too familiar with the ins and outs but let me attempt a sketchy summary. European Commission (un-elected) try to make software patentable, clued up people strongly object, European Parliament (elected) introduces amendments to bill which would effectively block software patents, Irish Presidency of Commission (allegedly Microsoft sponsored) throws out amendments and attempts to force through original (or worse) proposal. That seems to be where we are at the moment and the mood feels gloomy - like the Dark Side might almost have it sown up. There is more at Software Patent News.
I just had a look at the website of the UK All Party Parliamentary Internet Group - APIG.
Cory Doctorow has been taking photos of the notice shown in UK cinemas which warn customers that doing so may result in them being ejected and having their equipment confiscated by the police. Apparently he usually gets a big cheer when his flash goes off!
Check out the UK based Campaign for Digital Rights.
There is a particularly evil browser hijacker called CWS which has many variants, almost certainly created by one or more of the numerous Cool Web Search affiliates as a method of boosting revenue. There is extensive information about CWS at Scumware.com.
Anyone heard of Zope? I hadn't until today, which is strange, since a Google search returned over 4 million results! Apparently it is an Open Source application server written in Python.
It is a month since the Open Source Vulnerability Database opened for public access.
Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media and world civic politics.
The so-called Nigerian Letter Scam is intrinsically an advance fee fraud. The fraud is also known as the 419 scam, as the fraud is outlined in Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code. A fraudster, usually a member of a criminal syndicate, who obtains money or goods from a company or its representative, through deception, operates the scheme.
There has been a lot of talk about a major TCP vulnerability which has been causing concern. I have not had time to find out more, but here is Wired article about it.
Back in December last year I heard about Earthstation 5 and mentioned it on this page. Apparently they have hired a fraudster as a consultant and in this discussion someone described ES5 as a "festering pile of dogshit".
On the subject of P2P networks why not check out the excellent p2pnet.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation have launched a campaign to overturn several patents that it says are having a "chilling effect" on public and consumer interest. It is called the Patent Busting Project.
RealNetworks have apparently approached Apple with a view to making some kind of deal involving the iPod. Apple have apparently told RealNetworks to piss off.
Several groups including the Swathmore Coalition for the Digital Commons are working on a new website to promote an international student movement for free culture - freeculture.org.
Andrei Herasimchuk recently put up a piece called Gurus v. Bloggers in which he compares the websites of some well known web, design and technology gurus with those of some well known bloggers.
Do you remember gopher? Thought it was killed by the web? Well take a look at the Gopher Manifesto.
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure are working hard to defend us Europeans against the menace of unlimited software patentability. Check out some of the recent news.
Groklaw has a good article titled "Stallman and Gosling on Java and the GPL" which has attracted over 450 comments.
Finally, I was just checking out the Super Dimensional Fortress which appears to offer free shell accounts.
Jenifer Khan has an interesting article in Wired about Adrian Lamo aka the Homeless Hacker. By the way, I see the stuff in Wired because I am subscribed to their RSS feed, but I am considering unsubscribing because whenever I follow a link to their website I am subjected to an epilepsy inducing IQ Test advertisement which is incredibly annoying.
A week ago today, the Stanford Center for Internet and Society filed its lawsuit Kahle v. Ashcroft in federal district court.
Meanwhile, the EU's anti-trust authority has slapped a record $613 million fine on Microsoft.
One issue raised on the Google Watch site is what Google are doing about the so-called Y2K+3 problem - which is nothing to do with dates but is related to the way Google gives a unique ID to each page it crawls. It seems that they use a 4 byte unsigned integer which gives a limit of 4,294,967,296 unique IDs. As of today the Google says it is "Searching 4,285,199,774 web pages" - pretty close to the limit!
I have been using Google even more heavily than usual recently and decided to find out a bit more about it. For a critical look at the king of search engines take a look at Google Watch.
Some time ago I installed RealOne Player on my iBook so that I could view Real Media content on the BBC website (considering it to be less evil than Windows Media Player). I have not had any major problems with it, but a post at jogin.com explains why it is Real Obnoxious.
George Michael is abandoning the music business to release his songs online for free instead.
As if there was not already enough litigation going on, Verisign are suing ICANN over delays in approving a wait-listing service, while a load of other companies are suing both Verisign and ICANN in attempt to block any such approval! Verisign are also threatening to re-introduce their abominable Site Finder service. See ICANN Watch (running Slashcode) for information about the debacle.
Judge tells RIAA lawyer to "curtail the use of abusive language".
I have been reading up about audio file formats and codecs, and I have a couple of good references. First there are the Hydrogenaudio Forums where you can follow detailed discussions on anything from speech codecs to container formats to Video Capture/TV-cards. Then there Xiph.org "building a new era of Open multimedia", home of Ogg Vorbis etc.
While looking at the Internet Archive I noticed that they only archive pages that have been indexed by Alexa. Check out this explanation of the relationship between the Internet Archive, Wayback Machine, Alexa, Google and Amazon.
On those occasions where information has been removed from a website without being archived at the Internet Archive there may be other ways of retrieving it. For example, two entries in the Bush in 30 Seconds competition which compared George Bush to Adolf Hitler were pulled from the site in order to sooth some ruffled feathers. The ads in question were rescued and posted at The Memory Hole.
Check out Seth Schoen's History of the DeCSS Haiku.
If you are planning a trip you might want to take a look at WIKITRAVEL to see what it says about your destination.
About half of all email transmitted over the Internet is spam. There are many suggestions for tackling the problem including a promising looking scheme known as Sender Policy Framework.
I just discovered the excellent Cryptome website which investigates and publishes accounts of government improprieties, drawing attention from the FBI. For load balancing purposes users in Europe should use this mirror site.
I also had a look at andfinally.com, the website of technology critic and essayist Bill Thompson who (amongst many other things) writes a weekly column for the BBC.
Since my own website is basically text only I haven't really paid much attention to things like Flash animation but a couple of years ago I did look into it and found this excellent 1999 Shockwave/Flash comparison. Well now it looks like there is a new kid on the block from W3C in the form of Scalar Vector Graphics which have heavyweight support from both Adobe and Mozilla. Here is a good Flash/SVG comparison. While on the subject of open media formats for web content I suppose I should also mention libpng and SMIL.
Have you heard the term "Trusted computing" and do you know what it means? Richard Stallman explains why "Treacherous computing" would be a more appropriate name.
Today I received a reply from my MP regarding the letter I sent on the subject of European software patents. She enclosed a stock reply from Lord Sainsbury at the dti, which at least acknowledged that the width of patentability now allowed in the US is excessive.
I am making increasing use of the excellent Wikipedia which is one of the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation. Unfortunately, due to the success of their projects, Wikimedia are starting to have technical problems due to to hardware limitations as explained in this recent letter. Please consider making a donation to help ensure continued success.
When I get some spare time I may download and watch Nothing so Strange by Brian Flemming, a pseudo documentary about the assassination of Bill Gates which is apparently the first feature film to have a commercial debut on the Internet.
If you have wondered what i18n is all about, check out this Debian document which comprehensively explains the tricky subject of software internationalisation. You might also want to check out the Unicode FAQ.
In this Wired interview (Patents' Raging Bull by Scott Menchin) MIT professor Lester Thurow was asked "Are more patents a good thing?", to which he replied:
If we're really going to be the knowledge economy, you can't make it work unless you know who owns what knowledge. Take music. If they can't find some way to lock up music, music is going to end. Eventually, there will be no professional musicians, because there's no way to make money, and we're left with a world full of amateurs.
Now I know professor Thurow is supposed to be a respected authority, but this response seems just plain silly because he makes a couple of unfounded assumptions (and who are the mysterious "they" he refers to). Firstly, musicians can make money whether or not there is a way to "lock up" music - talented performers are paid for live performances and talented composers earn money from prizes and commissions - this has always been the case and always will be. With a good micro-payments system artists could easily earn extra money by offering downloads on a donation basis (as many programmers are already doing with code). Secondly, even if there were no way to make money and we were left with a world full of amateurs there will always be music. Indeed, as an amateur musician who has received countless hours of pleasure listening to other amateur musicians I am beginning to think that such a world would be preferable to what we have now.
In his recent decision on the RIAA v. Verizon Internet Services case, Judge Ginsburg commented upon the RIAA position by saying "This argument borders upon the silly". I found this tasty quote on Lawrence Lessig's excellent blog where you can also read about the scary Terms of Service for the new WalMart music downloading service.
Today is the second day of the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, which is being held in Geneva (the second phase will be held in Tunisia in 2005). Comprehensive coverage available at the WSIS website.
If you are interested in free music but are worried about invoking the wrath of RIAA stormtroopers, how about using BitTorrent to access multiple gigabytes of legal MP3 files from LEGALTORRENTS.COM. For general information about P2P music sharing etc take a look at infoAnarchy or Zeropaid.com and if you are bored try a Google search for earthstation5+jenin.
Yesterday I sent a letter to my MP about the issue of software patents in Europe. I am opposed to such patents on the grounds that they can only benefit patent lawyers and the few large US and Japanese corporations which hold the majority of current software patents. I am not going to go into detail since it is all explained clearly at the FFII website.
I just tried out Mark Nottingham's Cacheability Engine and as a result will be looking at ways to enhance the cacheability of my own site.
Hooray! It looks like Verisign has agreed to suspend it's Site Finder dis-service following this ICANN advisory.
Last night I attended the UKUUG AGM and then went for dinner at the Spaghetti House with a few other members where we talked shop. One topic of discussion was of course the current SiteFinder debacle. To summarise, Verisign decided to abuse the control it has over the .com and .net TLDs for commercial gain, breaking the Internet in the process. For more details check out this article posted to The Register by John Leyden.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010