Farewell 2011, hello 2012

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.

Another company switching to XMPP

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.

Usenet, goodbye and thanks for all the fish

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.

Feeds farewell and thanks for all the fish

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.

When do other banks start to publish SPF records?

In the past a lot of phishing was going towards customers of the Dutch bank Postbank. It continued for years and when the bank finally merged with ING the phishing attacks adopted the new name quickly. In both cases the bank was publishing closed SPF resource records in DNS so third party systems could determine of an e-mail really came from Postbank or ING. And with a few rules for SpamAssassin for example most of the phishing can be stopped.

The last months phishing attacks for both Rabobank and ABN Amro increased a lot. Most phishing e-mails from Rabobank are being caught by the bayesian filter for now, but for ABN Amro aren’t always detected. This makes me wonder why those banks don’t publish SPF resource records in DNS? Is it really that difficult? Or is the cost for fraude smaller, then for a denied e-mail?