Can government be run like the Internet, permissionless and open? Coder and activist Jennifer Pahlka believes it can — and that apps, built quickly and cheaply, are a powerful new way to connect citizens to their governments — and their neighbors.
In a previous post it became clear that censorship in The Netherlands has started. Due to the nature of the Internet and how it has been implemented in most lands, it means there is no central point of control to stop all to an IP-address. This means every network owner needs to take action, but how do they do it?
In the case of thepiratebay.org it looks like it has been done by manipulating DNS-answers. The first attempt is just using the DNS-resolver from the internet access provider and the second is an attempt using Google public resolvers.
$ dig thepiratebay.org ; < <>> DiG 9.8.1 < <>> thepiratebay.org ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER< <- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 6811 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;thepiratebay.org. IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: thepiratebay.org. 10 IN A 126.96.36.199 ;; ADDITIONAL SECTION: thepiratebay.org. 10 IN TXT "Forged by XS4ALL for Stichting B.R.E.I.N." ;; Query time: 19 msec ;; SERVER: 192.168.178.1#53(192.168.178.1) ;; WHEN: Sat Feb 4 08:15:35 2012 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 104 $ dig thepiratebay.org @188.8.131.52 ; <<>> DiG 9.8.1 < <>> thepiratebay.org @184.108.40.206 ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER< <- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 4847 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;thepiratebay.org. IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: thepiratebay.org. 2596 IN A 220.127.116.11 ;; Query time: 26 msec ;; SERVER: 18.104.22.168#53(22.214.171.124) ;; WHEN: Sat Feb 4 08:16:16 2012 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 50
By just changing DNS resolvers on the client or internet router the censorship can be bypassed for now. The question remaining is how long this is going to stand when the first article is published by a big computer magazine on how to bypass it. Or when sites also get an .onion to bypass DNS completely.
As from now all my DVD’s are for sale on Bol.com and yes in March I’ll join the month of not spending a penny on the entertainment industry which was proposed for SOPA and PIPA. It only make me wonder how ACTA is going to influence the Internet when it gets approved.
Last December 10th I took the CISSP exam in Brussels and yesterday after only four weeks I received the following in my mailbox:
Dear Hans Spaans:
Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have passed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) examination – the first step in becoming certified as a CISSP.
So I now only need to submit my resume and endorsement. Ow and order some cake for co-workers. And the reason I did it in Brussels instead of Utrecht? I was a little bit late with requesting the exam as I did that on November 23th. Now it is time to plan the next exam, but it won’t be CEH.
2011 has been a strange year for me personally, maybe also a reason why I didn’t blog that much and hopefully 2012 will be better. But a lot has happend in 2011 as Debian 6.0 was released, GNOME 3 impacted the world a lot and still does, Linus released Linux 3.0.0 and many other things happend in the FOSS world. Also two titans, Dennis Ritchie and Steve Jobs, past away.
Also other things changed last year and one of the biggest driver behind this was my Android phone. Google looks nice in many ways and promises “not to be evil”, but I don’t trust them. It was a driver for me to set up my own CalDAV and CardDAV server and it looks fine for now, but also looking into TT-RSS as replacement Google Reader. Some things still need some love and sweet, and we will see this progresses in 2012 hopefully.
2011 was also a reasonable year for reading. The list includes “Cloud Application Architectures”, “Cloud Security and Privacy”, “Being Geek”, “Myths of Innovation” and “Network Warrior”, but also some books for CISSP. Luckily the list also includes non tech-books with a few books from “The Wheel of Time”, “Discworld”, “Ghost in the Wires” and “Steve Jobs in His Own Words”.
Like I said, 2011 was the year the cloud came into my life. And to be honest, the cloud meaning in this context, the separation of data from an application and from a local installed application. With this came also my love and hate relationship with Tor as it may be an answer to certain flaws in DNS for example where a government can take over a domain name or disable it. With this once digital life basically ends. The name resolution within Tor really looks promising as also for Tor-chat, but it is slow as hell. For chatting it could be usable, but not for browsing at the moment. But I still wonder why projects like GNU, Gutenberg or Wikipedia have no known presence on the Tor-network.
The cloud thingy made me slowly also wonder about my next workstation. I bought this machine begin 2009 and I expect to buy a new one at the end of 2012 or in 2013. Most likely it will be a laptop then, but which one? One thing I hope before then and that is that Tux goes on a diet as my root-volume currently is at 12G and I’m sure it was between the 6 a 7G a year ago. I hope it is some additional fat from running Debian Testing, but I expect not.
Also this year I finished the conversion of my music collection to FLAC to make a copy of it in Ogg Vorbis. Yes, FLAC became my archiving format and Ogg Vorbis my day to day format to make it more useful so I can also put them on my phone without filling up the 32G SD-drive with just a few CD’s. Also good and bad news for the movie-industry. Yes, I’m going to the pictures again, but only from the money I get from selling my DVD-collection. And about downloading things, that has slowed down also and my backlog slowly starts to dry up without adding anything new. The round silver disc’s are going the same way as paper in my house. Slowly almost becoming extinct.
A few things I promised myself to do in 2011 I didn’t do sadly enough. Taking up C-programming again and learn how to create decent Debian packages and related infrastructure. Hopefully I can spent some time on this in 2012, but for now I took up Latex again and I like it. About other things we will see, but looking back it was a good year where I switched from being an Unix-engineer towards a security officer. I can only hope the trend progresses, but we will see in 12 months time.
Back in 1996 ICQ saw it first light and instant messaging was born and it took Microsoft until 1999 before MSN Messenger was launched. Two proprietary protocols for instant messaging with closed specifications. Also a third protocol was started in 1998 under the name Jabber which was renamed as XMPP a few years later. Long time it was labeled as “only for geeks” or “something for Linux-users”.
This all changed in 2005 as Google launched Google Talk which was based on XMPP and also allowed server-to-server communication 2006 so Google Talk users could communicate with users outside the Google netwerk. Other services like audio and video where added in the years after. This forced others to rethink there ideas about there instant messaging network where Facebook Chat followed the same strategy as Google Talk. Shortly after AOL started experimenting with ICQ over XMPP in 2008.
The last big bastion was Live Messenger from Microsoft, but recently it was announced that also Microsoft started to offer an XMPP API to there instant messaging network. Meaning people with an XMPP client could use the Microsoft instant messaging network without any additional software. Telepathy developers from Freedesktop.org directly jumped in and trying to get it in with GNOME 3.4 together with better Facebook support like it is now for Google in GNOME Online Accounts. With this the only question remains if Microsoft for example will also allow server-to-server communication like Google.
Now that we slowly moving towards an unified communications standard where companies as Cisco are pushing for, we also see a simplification and reduction of standards in use. Hopefully Debian can drop in the release after Wheezy all packages that depend on the old Messenger protocol. Also hopefully Microsoft will also jump into the bandwagon for standardized calendar en contacts support, but time will tell. For now it is a plus 1 for open and free standards.
After being an usenet junky for a long time the time came that I switched from being a regular poster to a lurker. I still followed a lot of groups for many years until I realised that I only was syncing my newsspool for at least 12 to 18 months without any reading. After some catching up on some groups I saw that I wasn’t the only person. A lot of groups in the nl-tree are just empty or mostly abandoned or they contained mostly spam. Other trees like the comp-tree has more posters, but also a lot more spam and I mean really a lot more.
I still think usenet is a good platform and that it has served it’s purpose. Due to it’s openness as a platform it also lead to a lot of people abusing it and it is unforgiving. One thing that companies like Microsoft, but also XS4ALL are switching to privately hosted forums where they can control the posters and the content. This leaves certain mailinglists for me to follow, but even that number has been reduced as most of them have the Eternal September feeling. So everyone thanks for all the time and discussions on Usenet and hopefully we meet again.
The migration of GNOME toward version 3.0 in Debian earlier this year wasn’t very successful in the beginning, but a lot of bugs where solved during the summer. GNOME 3.0 made it into Wheezy during the release of 3.2 and maybe for the better. Now only a few months after the release of GNOME 3.2 almost all packages have been uploaded to experimental or unstable, and most of them even already migrated to testing.
But what brings GNOME 3.2? A lot of people are unhappy and some of these points are valid and need to be fixed. Others can be discussed if they are true. One thing that changed in 3.2 is how GNOME interacts with your address book and your instant messaging accounts. Connections to instant messaging networks are automatically being started when you log in. This also reflects in the search screen when you type in a friends name and you direct see his connection status.
GNOME Online Accounts is another example of making things simpler for the user. Currently it only works for Google, but I really hope current proposals with querying the right SRV-records in DNS are also going to be part of GNOME in a future release. For now GNOME Online Accounts setups up multiple Google services up like Mail, Calendar, Chat, Documents and Contacts with a single authentication token. Different services don’t have to maintain and store the credentials in GNOME Keyring or in still in there own way. Hopefully there will come a solution for Liferea which still stores te users password plain-text in the configuration file.
Other third-party applications like Simple Scan, Shotwell and Deja-Dup are slowly making there way into becoming part of GNOME. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen with the GNOME 3.4 release as both Epiphany and Evolution are going to have some major work done to them. A switch to Webkit 2 and ending the usage of GtkHTML in Evolution. Hopefully after this Epiphany can replace Firefox completely on my desktop.
It is good to see the progress GNOME is making into becoming an interface for cloud services by simplifying the configuration for users, but also separating data from applications more and more. I can’t wait to see how GNOME Document is going to evolve, but two other things still open is a good solution for RSS-feeds and chat-logs as Empathy is still storing them on disk and isn’t able to use logs stored by Google for example.
In the end I’m happy with GNOME 3.2 in Debian Testing right now and Debian on my workstation is back to it’s weekly testing upgrade schedule as most parts are working. I even think that I will continue to do this during the 3.4 release as most of the GNOME dust has settled. Maybe I make an exception for both AbiWord and Gnumeric when they switch to GTK3 and hopefully also better OpenDocument support.
As my viewing port on the Internet has become an RSS-reader more and more during 2011 I also started to pay attention on the content presented. So during my Christmas break I’m going to remove some feeds from my RSS-reader. As side note, the compressed database dump grows with 1 megabyte between every 5 and 8 days now.
But the first feeds that have to go are websites or blogs that only present a snippet and hope you come to there website to continue reading the article. Some comments I have read why people do that is banners or hoping that you also read other content. For the first there are solutions to embed banners in your RSS-feed. The later is just b*llsh*t as that person is subscribed to your RSS-feed and how much more commitment do you want on reading your content?
What may be a problem is the experience people have reading your RSS-feed as a lot of sites, and yes I’m looking at you also WordPress, that do not include the right CSS in the feed. This is something that needs and can be solved. The other remark is notification and traffic and the question is if those are real issues with the use of a ping-servers and a distribution hubs. FeedBurner is one for example which can take the load of your website or blog. Load that was also there when they where forcing people towards your website.
I may sound hars, but I have to spent my time more wisely. With 125+ feeds in my reader and with a few of those being OPML-feeds it is really time to clean things up. It also makes me wonder how easy it would be to integrate certain features from Google Reader into TT-RSS to get figures how much you read and what you’re reading and what not. First the Christmas cleaning as it takes the backend about 30 days to stop fetching the feed after the last user unsubscribed.
Met de kop Google Deleting Private Profiles by July 31 begint een artikel bij PCMag.com en tijdens het lezen wordt langzaam duidelijk welke kant het opgaat. Het geeft ook een ander beeld op de posting Google: fixing bugs is dumping people?. Het wordt wel langzaam duidelijk welke kant Google opgaat en of dat een kant is die ik ook op wil blijft de vraag.
Google Profiles waren optioneel, maar blijkbaar nu ook al niet meer. Google Talk is al afhankelijk van Google Contacts en daar komt nu Google+ blijkbaar bij. Daarbij voor bijna elke Google dienst die je wilt delen, hebben andere ook een Google Account nodig. Of dit nu Picassa, Docs of Maps is. Dit terwijl Google zich wel als identity provider naar andere profileert, maar geen andere identity providers lijkt te accepteren om mensen te identificeren.
De vraag is misschien nog wel of Internet niet gewoon langzaam de IBM client-server strategie in is gegaan met oa Apple, Google en Microsoft. En dat de any-to-any strategie er eigenlijk niet meer is zoals oorspronkelijk het plan was. Wordt het misschien weer tijd voor decentralisatie van Internet? Wordt het tijd om partijen zoals Google te boycotten?