Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Going to a place that has already been disgraced 2

Pamela Geller is despicable.
  I mean really despicable. If this country is or was ever great, than 9/11 should be no more than a triviality compared to its greatness. Compared to what this country represents, the fact that 19 lunatics with boxcutters flew planes into some buildings and killed 3000 people should be nothing but a blip on our history.

Instead, we've got people like Geller trying to make it the American Reichstag. I've never been more ashamed of other Americans than I am of Geller and Gingrich and Reid and anybody who's tried to turn the building of a community center into something ugly. Even if the people behind this community center were everything they're being accused of, it still does not excuse the kind of behavior I've seen these past few weeks.

I've never felt so disgusted with other Americans. I wish I could pass myself off as Canadian, honest to god. I wish I could get a goddamn visa to live in Finland or Belgium or evem goddamned Serbia. Anything but a country where people like Geller and Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved get treated like patriots for (and despite!) denigrating such basic, founding principles as freedom of religion and property rights. They say things like "oh, it's not about freedom of religion and property rights, it's about good taste". Good taste! Now the standard for freedom of speech is supposed to be good taste. And they say "oh, the muslim group must compromise". If they "must" then it's not a goddamn compromise. I don't care if you hate the idea of a community center with a mosque built near ground zero or near your house. If you go on television and try to compare it to Nazis putting signs up at Auschwitz, that makes you the scum of the Earth. You share a hell with the religious fundamentalists that perpetrated the crime in the first place.

So ten years after the fact, this bunch is going to turn into a bunch of drama queens over 9/11, turn the site of the Twin Towers into hallowed ground (or, as Ben Quale says, "hollowed ground"). Is the USA such a flimsy society? Are Americans such weak sisters that they're going to turn a tragedy into a pyre on which to burn each other (yes, the people who want to build the community center are Americans. Yes, there are bombs being thrown at mosques throughout the US in the last few days. Yes, there are "Americans" burning korans in Wal-Mart parking lots. Fucking mutts). I'm so tired of you, America. Never missing a chance to tell the world how great you are, how superior, how above the behavior of "terrorists" but the veneer of your Christian "reformation" turns out to be pretty goddamned thin, after all.

Things like this make me wish there actually was an afterlife where people were judged for their behavior on Earth. I'm willing to do the time for my crimes, as long as I can do it with the knowledge that people who've tried to spread this kind of ugliness were going to do the time for theirs. I'm so tired of you, America.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Theory of Relativity Exposed as a Liberal Plot. 6

Rewriting history textbooks isn't nearly enough for the Religious Right. It appears that the "conservative alternative to Wikipedia, "Conservapedia" has some serious issues with Einstein, too.

The first note in the references section of the Conservapedia entry on "Counter-examples to Relativity" will be of special interest to any physicists out there.

I guess that Colbert's throwaway joke about "reality having a liberal bias" was truer than he knew.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Galloping down the slippery slope?

The airplane hijackings and subsequent mass murders of 11 September 2001 did not rely on bringing bombs aboard. They were simply hijacked using pocket tools (box-cutter knives), then used in a novel way to wreak destruction. A large number of security restrictions were subsequently brought in to prevent hijacking, but many have noted that the circumstances of hijackers changed that day. Before, passengers meekly obeyed the hijackers, knowing that they would eventually be released when the hijackers' demands were met, or perhaps when the plane was stormed by special forces. There was no point trying to play the hero. After the twin towers were hit - and even in the fourth plane hijacked that day - passengers realized that they had to overpower the hijackers to save their own lives, and preferably do so before the hijackers had control of the flight deck. Since then, there have been attempts, not actually to hijack airliners, but apparently to destroy them in flight using explosive devices. The "shoe bomber" and the "underpants bomber" are the two that come to mind, but in each case, the perpetrator was overpowered by fellow passengers before he could get his device to work. Following each case, additional ham-fisted security procedures were implemented in airports and inconvenient restrictions imposed on passengers on the ground and in the air. More time wasted in terminals; shoes and belt off at security checkpoints; no liquids or metal combs on board; no washroom or laptop in the last hour of flight; and so forth. The list of restrictions and inconveniences is quite long.

The question I have is whether these post-9/11 attempts were actually intended to destroy an aircraft. If that were the case, the terrorist would have been instructed to prepare and use the device while in the washroom, and not while in his seat. I suspect that the real objective was to cause the very security escalations that we have seen. These "security" procedures further cripple air transport (and indirectly handicap many other forms of business), and divert resources from other potentially productive activities into large bureaucracies and security organizations which have negative economic value. More insidiously, they undermine the very basis of Western society, removing or reducing freedoms and grossly expanding powers of state organizations (police, DHS, border patrols, etc.) to resemble those of totalitarian states.

We've blundered several steps down this slippery slope already. We went from mild and fairly unintrusive security procedures (to prevent tragedies such as the bomb on an Air India 747) which largely accomplished their purpose, to heavy-handed and extremely intrusive "security" procedures, which have no chance of achieving theirs, and are, in fact, utterly unnecessary and ultimately self-defeating. Here are some further steps down this slope, as I see it, and the reasons they are futile:

1a. Well, terahertz scanners can see through clothes to the skin revealing every little detail (ooh, privacy violations, creepy pedo images, blah-blah outrage, etc.), somewhat like a "hands-off" strip search. But once they are installed at every airport and used on every passenger, it would be impossible for a passenger to hide explosives/flammables/nerve gas/etc. on their person. WRONG. Ever seen a fat person naked? There are often rolls of flesh, with nice deep folds which the terahertz scanner does not see into - it can't penetrate skin, remember. Ladies with pendulous breasts also have nice hiding places which are not seen by the terahertz scanners. Men might even manage to hide a small item with creative placement at the scrotum. Perhaps armpits could be used, if one is not required to perform gymnastics while in front of the scanner.
1b. Before long, some terrorist takes advantage of having rolls of fat, and smuggles nasty things onto an airliner in them. But that terrorist gets overpowered by fellow passengers as he/she prepares the nasty things at his/her seat, and before the nasty things can be used (assembled/detonated/activated/whatever). Note that I expect the preparation to be at the terrorist's seat on the plane, where other passengers can spot what's happening, since the real objective is to escalate the security procedures.

2a. Next, passengers are required to raise limbs and adopt lewd postures etc. while being scanned, so that their entire surface is visible to the scanner. Those whose flesh folds are incompletely observed are required to step to the side so a security officer can have a grope inside those folds. This is tantamount to a "hands-on" porno strip search for those who are not particularly lean. Now this is quite intrusive, and some people would simply stop traveling by air. It would also require a certain type of security person to do the job correctly at low wage - exploring dusty crevices of human blubber with his/her fingers (indeed, the best candidates for this job might be in jail). But it's for the security of you and your fellow passengers, so you can't complain! Surely nobody can smuggle anything nasty aboard with these procedures. WRONG. How does contraband get into prisons? That's right, some of it travels in smooth containers shoved into body cavities. Every human has one such cavity, and ladies are blessed with a second suitable cavity.
2b. Soon enough, some terrorist passes through the scanner, with or without the extra grope-search, with one or more plastic containers concealed in a body cavity. These containers are retrieved in a washroom trip during the flight, but the terrorist is overpowered by fellow passengers as he/she prepares the nasty things contained therein at his/her seat, and before the nasty things can be used (assembled/detonated/activated/whatever). Note that I expect the preparation to be at the terrorist's seat on the plane, not in the washroom, since the real objective is to escalate the security procedures.

3a. Obviously, we need to add body cavity searches to the security procedures to prevent this sort of attack. Either it's full rubber gloves & lube, or an equivalent manufactured probe (presumably sterilized between uses), or some kind of ultrasound scanner that you can sit on (is ultrasound able to distinguish between a tampon/IUD and some other object?). This kind of examination would be required for every passenger. Of course, this would be an outrageous violation of civil rights, but how else to keep you and your fellow passengers safe from attack? After all, with this procedure added to the others, it would be impossible to get anything nasty on board an airliner! WRONG. How do high value drugs get smuggled via airliners? Some travels inside swallowed condoms, which would not be detectable via cavity search or ultrasound of the area around body cavities. Drug mules commonly swallow multiple condoms containing pure drugs.
3b. As soon as these procedures are widespread, some terrorist swallows one or more condom bombs before getting on a flight. There are numerous ways this could be arranged to cause an explosion or equivalent in-air catastrophe, which I will not go into. Here's one: two latex condoms are partly filled with binary components which will spontaneously ignite/explode on contact; they are placed inside a silicone condom, which also contains a small amount of a material which will corrode or dissolve latex; the terrorist swallows one or more of such silicone condom bombs. Note that in this method, no external device is required, and there may not be any indication that there is an explosion coming (unless the airline makes the terrorist puke via food poisoning). In this case, the other passengers do not overpower the terrorist, and the device presumably explodes (messily), but it is not certain that the airliner would be destroyed in every attempt. In some attempts the airliner would survive, albeit with a very messy and somewhat devalued interior, and the modus operandi would become evident, provoking further posturing by security agencies.

4. Citizens, rejoice! To protect you against terrorists who have swallowed bombs or other nefarious devices, new security procedures have been instituted. But what could they be? Any option I can think of (using existing technology) is appallingly intrusive and/or costly in time and money. Here are a few possibilities: expensive and time-consuming MRI scan of all passengers; compulsory stomach pumping; administer fast acting emetics and purgatives (and provide a sufficiency of toilets at security). The MRI scan would see most things, but not confidently distinguish among them: an apparent prosthetic implanted in the abdomen might need to be examined laparoscopically or even excised for proper identification. What of partly metallic implants to replace a damaged hip bone? Any sort of implant would completely pass by the stomach pump or emetic/purgative approach. And yes, there are ways to remotely detonate implanted explosives without using metals on the inside or outside. Short of MRI scans coupled with exploratory surgery as standard security procedures, a determined organization could still get a suicide bomber and bomb onto an airliner.

And where have we descended to on this slope? While airliners have been discussed in the steps above, other modes of mass transport and places of mass gatherings could also be targeted. Would trains and concert halls also be encumbered with such ludicrous pseudo-security antics?

I submit that there is actually no sure-fire defense against some forms of terrorist attack. In particular, it is impossible to prevent all possible ways to get a bomb or nerve gas on board an airliner. Note that this analysis even assumes that all of the security procedures are carried out competently, which is perhaps not the case. Protecting against a subset of those ways merely ensures that the unprotected methods will be employed. The steps outlined above can be viewed as a classical "arms race" between cannon and fortresses. The fortress never wins the race in the end, however many steps and twists the race contains.

I also submit that the best defense of an airliner is the self preservation instinct of its passengers (similarly for trains, concert halls, and so forth). By all means, employ the security procedures we had before 9/11, as they will catch the egregious large bombs and obvious suicide bombers. They were much less intrusive and much less expensive, and were a much lighter imposition on civil rights and freedoms. And that's what we should be preserving - our traditional liberties and civil rights, and the duties that accompany them. The slippery slope we are descending is rapidly eroding those rights and liberties, at great expense and without providing the security it pretends. It is also eroding what little is left of the notion of a citizen's duty to defend the society around him/her, replacing it with more encouragement to be a passive and powerless victim or bystander, while the "security" theater attempts to fulfill that duty on his/her behalf but inevitably fails.

This slippery slope of "security" theatrics leads nowhere that we should wish Western societies to go. It has us in lock-step with terrorists all the way, marching to the same destination; a destination of the terrorists' choosing. Every step down the slope is an act of surrender, including the steps already taken. How can that message be brought to those who are steering us downwards? And how can we reverse the process, and recover some of those lost liberties?

Journal Journal: Study Shows GMO Corn Linked to Organ Failure

According to a research article published in the current International Journal of Biological Sciences, genetically modified corn from Monsanto increases the levels of liver and kidney failure in rats, as well as other harmful effects to the "heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system.

Apparently, Monsanto has wasted no time claiming the study was based on "faulty data" saying that it's own 90-day study didn't show similar problems. Of course, that ignores the fact that the organ failure only starts to show up after "5-14 weeks" according to the abstract.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Achievement? 1

Apparently, having a journal entry counts as a /. "achievement". It's about the only reason I can conceive of for making this journal entry. It's a fairly weak reason, at that, since most /. "achievements" are by no means achievements.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The "new" and "de-improved" Slashdot 4

If you've known /. for a while, you've certainly noticed all the recent changes. The front page articles auto-load-extend (presumably through AJAX code), the link to get to your own page has moved twice, and now there are two (that both look alike - your username - but work differently), and checking if anyone has replied to your comments has been a two-click journey instead of the old one-click for a while now.

Then there's the annoying inline popup (so it's not caught by popup blockers) that tells you that "Firehose is paused due to inactivity". Whatever that means, it doesn't seem nearly important enough to interrupt my reading.

Quite frankly, from a user interface design standpoint, the "new" slashdot sucks. Badly. Maybe I'll try disabling all javascript for and check if that improves the experience.


Journal Journal: Chinafrique - musing about Africa's development with China

Un article étonnant est paru sur intitulé "L'Afrique est ruinée ? La chine est preneuse !". Il dessine les contours d'un avenir assez inattendu pour une partie de l'Afrique subsaharienne. La citation choc de l'article "L'Afrique travaillerait à sa recolonisation qu'elle ne s'y prendrait pas autrement" peut porter à polémique mais ... pourquoi pas ? imaginons ...

La Chine déverserait 300 millions d'individus, au hasards des intérêts économiques et des contacts personnels dans un certain nombre de pays d'Afrique. Ces individus, industrieux et commerçant lancent la machine économique Africaine puissamment aidé par des programmes d'infrastructure financés sur fond public chinois. La chine y gagne les matières premières et la nourriture, les pays d'Afrique, les devises et l'activité économique. Ca et là se produisent des réactions de rejet à cause de la concurrence effrénée que les chinois mènent à l'industrie local mais globalement, l'apport économique est apprécié. Contrairement aux occidendaux, les chinois ne sont pas perçus ni comme colonisateurs, ni comme arrogants par les africains (alors que ... ) . Contrairement aux occidentaux, les chinois, sont capable d'endurer l'inconfort et les pertes humaines pour faire du commerce et de l'industrie loin de leur base.

10 à 15 ans plus tard, les chinois sont assez nombreux pour constituer une minorité importante et agissante dans un certain nombre de pays africains au point de pouvoir influencer la politique locale. Des écoles et universités chinoises à l'étranger ouvrent pour éduquer les enfants des expatriés chinois en Afrique. Les chinois sont assez intelligent pour y faire entrer l'élite Africaine locale. Certain pays se ferment à l'influence chinoise mais sont soit marginalisés économiquement soit deviennent des satellites d'autres groupements tels que l'union pour la méditerranée qui prend corps. Les intérêts de chine en Afrique sont devenus tellement important que de façon ouverte ou cachée, plusieurs conflits sont réglés par l'Armée Populaire de Chine. Des bases militaires permanentes font leur apparition en chine et certains pouvoirs s'abritent à l'ombre de cette nouvelle force comme au temps de la Francafrique.

30 ans plus tard, l'élite Africaine éduquée par les chinois arrive au pouvoir, sinophone, elle introduit l'usage du yuan et du chinois dans la vie courant d'un certain nombre de pays en parallèle avec les monnaies locales. Ces pays se groupent dans une union économique pilotée par la chine et prend une influence déterminante au sein de l'union Africaine. Des tensions apparaissent avec le magreb et le proche orient plus proche de l'Union européene et membre de l'union pour la méditerranée. Une imigration africaine en chine se fait jour provocant une montée du racisme anti-africain dans ce pays. Les couples mixes existent mais c'est une curiosité réprouvée par la société chinoise.

50 ans plus tard, les pays de la sinafrique ont bien changés. Ils ont perdu leur aspect sauvage pour se couvrir d'immeubles ternes, d'usines et de grandes plantations. Le pouvoir autoritaire n'a pas disparu mais l'économie va bien. Certains phénomènes climatiques provoque des désertifications et une pression migratoire importante vers la Chine qui commence tout juste à régler ses propres problèmes économiques. Par l'entremise des gouvemenements locaux, la CHine impose sa politique d'enfant unique à une bonne partie de l'Afrique provocant de sanglante révoltes durement réprimées et peu raportées par les médias. Peu à peu, la situation se stabilise et une certaine prospérité apparaît sous la pax china.

100 ans plus tard, propérité, éducation sont là. L'Afrique est globalement sortie d'affaire. Mais politiquement c'est le point mort, autoritarisme et censure sont de rigueur. Des mouvements d'indépendence par rapport à la Chine apparaissent dans certains des pays les plus prospères. Dans ces pays un improbable intégration entre africains sinisés et chinois africainisés on eu lieu mais ces mouvement d'indépendance, comme en yougoslavie séparent brutalement les communautés provoquant l'éclatement de certains de ces pays. Des parties contrôlées par les chinois demandent leur rattachement à la chine ainsi que certains pays où les africains sont devenus minoritaires. L'ONU et les occidentaux s'opposent. La CHine hésite à importer de nouveaux problèmes. FInanement, de nouveaux pays sont créés.

User Journal

Journal Journal: LDAP : The mystery of base 64 encoded entries

I happend to manage an LDAP directory. It contains users with French names. Those names contains accents (you know é è à and so on ...). LDAP has a nice support of this. It encode such entries in UTF-8 and reencode the result in base64 to be compliant with the original LDAP format.

By default, Fedora Directory Server use cn= as the first part of DN. As a result, when a user happend to have an accent in his/her name, it produced a base 64 encoded DN !!!


dn:: Y249SE/LTCBNaWNoZWwsb3U9cGVvcGxlLG91PXdlYnNvdXJkLG91PWFib25uZXMsZGM9aXZlcyxkYz1mcg==

Yeah. Now, how to we delete, manage such entries ? I spent a lot of time and found the solution:

1- make sure your terminal emuator is configured to handle UTF-8 as char encoding.
2- express the DN directly in UTF-8 to manipulate the entry and NOT in its base64 encoding.

For instance to delete the entry which has the above DN, do not exeute

ldapdelete ': Y249SE/LTCBNaWNoZWwsb3U9cGVvcGxlLG91PXdlYnNvdXJkLG91PWFib25uZXMsZGM9aXZlcyxkYz1mcg=='


ldapdelete 'cn=HOËL Michel,ou=people,ou=group,dc=example,dc=com'

I spend so much time on it...

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm mostly writing this for reference.

I've gotten into some interesting arguments on slashdot lately, and I have this funny feeling that I should clarify my stance on this.

I don't have a desire to see the government toppled through violence. I know for a fact that VIOLENCE WILL NOT end tyranny, neither will voting, nor petitioning, nor begging, nor demanding, nor threatening. NONE of these things has stopped tyranny in the past.

[Snipped out a harsh comment.]

I adhere to the age old concept that "those who are ready, will not ask anything of government, neither help, nor peace, like ripened fruit, they shall drop from the vine and find their own way." I've come to that stage in my life, or am fairly close.

I cannot and will not force any of you to adopt any path, be it better or worse, be it mine or someone else's, and all i can ask is that you do not use your "democratic" process to infringe upon my person, thoughts, or rights. As any actual free man (or woman, I haven't forgotten you, ladies) can tell you, of the present or the past: "All rights are reserved, except those expressly waived."

I frankly believe that coercive, involuntary government is an idea whose time is past... Its time was past some 400 years ago or longer.

Judging from some of my arguments here, and the replies I got, my opinion that no one can be "saved" or "convinced" has been upheld. We each "save" or "convince" ourselves.

As the saying goes. "Tyrannical totalitarian government and its various agencies and abuses will not go away when people beg it to leave, it will not be crushed by force of arms when the people rebel against it, or foreigners invade it and bring their government in its place. Government will only disappear when men and women behave as free men and free women and neither ASK anything of it, nor GIVE anything unto government or its agents. Only then, will tyranny and its agencies disappear from among men."

What most collectivist types don't understand is that there is no "collective". Even in the most tightly knit groups, they are not one unit, they are still a group of individuals, joined together in a common endeavor. Regardless, they are still individuals. There is no "society" there is no "government". These are abstracts that people have somehow come to believe are more real than the flesh and blood beings walking right next to them. Regardless of our definition of reality, a piece of paper in a lawyer's drawer (a corporation) is not a living being, it cannot be contracted with, the individual that handles that paperwork is contracted with. HE, is the one you do business with, not the piece of paper he represents. The vast majority of individuals have come to identify with imposed views. "Canadians are like this and we think Americans are that." "Americans are tough and can kick everyone's ass." "We are better than they are."

People identify with abstracts and even into their old age, never search for who they are individually. Many I've met are in a mental limbo, and it seems to start in the cradle and is force fed until the grave. We have lovely things, TV, Radio, Work... lots of mindless, boring, meaningless, uninspiring work. And of course, we have the eternal quest of "following in someone else's footsteps." If you set back and ask "what the fuck is it all for?" People call you crazy. Lazy. Aimless. And yet they don't see themselves scurrying about in a cage, trying to keep up with the Joneses, or being herded like cattle to wherever the puppeteers would have them go.

Whenever an individual or "the few" are sacrificed for "the benefit of the many", without the fully informed consent of those being sacrificed, there is neither freedom, nor justice, nor any kind of pretense at goodness. While the majority will always feel good when crushing the minority, the majority has rarely, if ever, been on the side of "right" or "good". In fact, judging by historic precedent, the majority, regardless of where, have always had several factors in common, and none of them really all that great.

Lack of courage..
Lack of curiosity.
Lack of initiative.
Lack of vitality.

I believe that time is near, when totalitarian, external, coercive government in all its forms will be seen for what it is, and I think it is nearer than most think, but I neither know WHEN such an enlightenment will occur, nor what will trigger it, nor how it will change things. All I can say is that I've used my various methods from the friendly banter to the more rude and argumentative, to observe other people wherever I've traveled, wherever I've chatted, offline and on, and there are some amongst all, even among the socialists, who "kind of" almost get it. I kind of "almost get it" also. And as far as I can tell, when they finally STOP asking for others to be violated on their behalf, they will be free. It isn't something that needs to be forced, however, since everyone comes to that realization sooner or later. Many do it when they're old, decrepit and their bodies are failing. I prefer to have done it now, because it leaves me more of my life ahead to enjoy.

Perhaps this will clear up some things for those of you I've argued with lately. I bear none of you ill will. Now please excuse me... a glass of Rum and a good friend await me near the grill.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Boeing gets 860 million $ deal to deliver "border fence":


Isn't that amazing?

From TFA:

Boeing was awarded an $860 million contract to provide the technology, physical fences and vehicle barriers.

"Boeing has delivered a system that the Border Patrol currently is operating 24 hours a day," Boeing spokeswoman Deborah Bosick said. She declined further comment.

Project 28 was not intended to be the final, state-of-the-art system for catching illegal immigrants, Giddens said. "I think some people understood that and some didn't. We didn't communicate that well."

Is it just me or is it becoming more visible that if they really wanted to NOT waste 860 million bucks on on more ineffective police state gear, they could've just PAID the companies that hire the so called "illegal" mexicans the difference it would cost to simply hire the legal type? How hard would it be for the overpaid boys and girls in Washington to simply offer H1B Visas for Cabbage Pickers?

I will make a prediction... *gasp*. After TWICE the budgeted 860 million is spent on keeping out "illegal aliens" they will STILL be getting in. Its just a reason to enlarge ANOTHER bureaucracy and increase spending. And who pays for it? The idiots who voted for all this and who still buy the party line... what party line you ask?

Why, the Boot On Your Neck Party, of course.

The Internet

Journal Journal: I have found the link!

I have finally found the link of this famous comment about implementing RFC1349. I reproduce here the relevant extract of the comment

One suggested solution that has not worked so far, and is unlikely to work in the foreseeable future, is voluntary bandwidth allocation protocols such as RSVP. Few people bother to use them, partly because they are poorly understood and partly because they are not widely implemented at the consumer end.

However, there is room for QoS in a limited, but still useful form. This uses an existing mechanism in IP, the TOS field. Some applications already set TOS to sensible values, which is commendable - it would be nice if some notice was taken of it at the points where it really matters.

I think there is reasonable provision for three general TOS classes:

  1. Low Latency, Limited Bandwidth (both directions) - for VoIP and shells
  2. Interactive Browsing, Limited Upload Bandwidth, Unlimited Download
  3. Bulk Traffic, Unlimited Bandwidth (both directions) - for P2P and unmarked flows

This simple priority scheme can be implemented within each queue in the above traffic shaper, perhaps combined with SFQ or similar just to give things an extra boost. It still doesn't require packet inspection beyond the TCP header, even with SFQ - and not even that if it's just a P-FIFO.

What it achieves is isolation of consumers' typical usage patterns from each other, within their own traffic streams. At the same time, applications have an incentive to correctly mark their traffic - if they just shove it in Low Latency regardless, they will get limited bandwidth, which isn't good for P2P! Malicious abuse is also avoided by the isolation of the intra-user priority from other users' flows.

That was easy, wasn't it?

I notice that Comcast is implementing a functionally similar scheme with this year's round of cable equipment updates. This appears to be just the bandwidth equalisation, which is implemented at the edge modems with help from the cable's upload receiver. I can't help guessing that this solution occurred to them only when they talked to BitTorrent Inc. I wonder whether the latter suggested it? Enquiring minds want to know.

Hat's off Mr funkman

The Internet

Journal Journal: Four steps to manage the Internet bandwidth 2

I am not a proponent of maximal network neutrality that states that "every IP packet should be treated equally". This egalitarian approach works well when a network is quasi empty but fails when in come close to saturation. However, the need for uniform rules is obvious and I am sympathetic to arguments that would avoid that some content providers get more priority on the network than others just because they have . The calls for more investment in the Internet infrastructure are not going to be answered unless there are additional revenue streams. To me, managing the Internet bandwidth is about addressing the following issues:

  • how to avoid that 5% of Internet users uses 50 % of the bandwidth
  • how to prioritize legitimate content over peer to peer file exchange
  • how to decrease SPAM
  • how to address real time media transfer?

I recenty read some material about TCP algorithm evolution and noted an interesting proposal in the comments (see my next post). All this lead me to the following four steps to regulate internet bandwidth:

Step 1 - define three type of service uniformly across all DSL and Fiber connections on the user side

This is the most sensible proposal I have ever read and the Web. Let us imagine a typical European DSL with 8 Mbit/s download and 800 kbit/s upload. The idea is to provide worldwide support for type of service as defined RFC 1349.

Under this system, applications that would choose TOS 'maximize throuput' would have access to the full capacity of the DSL link (upload and download) but with lower priority. By default all FTP, SMTP wouls be assigned this TOS.

Application that would choose 'minimum delay (latency)' would have access to a fraction of the DSL badwidth e.g. 2 Mbit/s download, and 600 Kbit/s upload) but with higher priority. It is expected that common Web surfing would use this.

Application that would choose 'maximum reliability' would have access to a low symetric bandwidth such as 500 kbit/s but with garanteed troughput.

The same principle could be extended to Fiber and SDSL links. That would enable the ISPs to do bandwith provisionning.

The GIX nodes and peering interconnection would be critical in managing these TOS accross the Internet. It would the GIX responsibility to charge TOS traffic differently or in case of peering agresments, to weight IP traffic differently depending on the TOS. It is also possible to imagine bandwith limitation related to high priority TOS.

It is expected that on the user side, every application would ave the ability to choose its TOS although there would be defualt settings that would fit the average user's needs. This would dramatically alleviate the P2P bandwidth issue as such applications would probabily select the low priority / high bandwidth type of service to take advantage of the whole capacity offered. Normal traffic would then be processed with higher priority making the network to appear as more responsive. If a P2P application would chosse the high priority type of service, the bandwidth used would be limited.

Step 2 - separate e-mail traffic from the rest

The other source of bandwidth waste is spam. A lot of smart systems (SPF, cryptology, ...) have been designed to reject SPAM mainly when the messages reach the destination the mail. They do not prevent the SPAM to be transferred over the Network. I know that this proposal will hurt every person with a libetarian approach but what we need is to go back to an administred e-mail system.

Today every body can setup a mail server and hookup on the Internet and send e-mail by a few DNS lookup on MX records.

What we need is:

  • to enforce a mail server chain: private e-mail server --- ISP e-mail server ---- global exchange e-mail server.
  • to remove the access to SMTP protocol to Mail User Agent. SMTP would be solely used between PO and MTAs.
  • extend IMAP protocol to support e-mail sending by Mail User Agent and roaming (the ability to connect on a PO and have the connection relayed to the attachement post-office).
  • to have a simple (and free) administrative procedure to connect a private mail server to the ISP.

In that case, the ISP and the global exchange MTA would have simply the ability to pinpoint spam sources and to block them just by shutting down the transfer link between the incriminated e-mail server and the next MTA when they reach a certain quota.

Step 3 - manage media delivey differently

All the above does not address the need for some service providers that are offering VOD services. What we need is to have the ability to open IP virtual circuits from client to server and negociate the bandwith all the way long to be sure that the delivered media would be available with the requested quality.

For ToIP and media delivery, we need to go back to the congestion model proposed by the telephone network that reject new circuit overload without degrading the quality of established circuits.

Thess circuits would be high priority bandwith that would have a costs for the carrier. Content provider need to somehow share some of their revenue stream to ensure this kind of high quality transport and it is expected that the ISP would charge per minute and per kbit/s and share the revenue with the content provider.

Step 4 - multi-tiered Internet

All the above tend to outline the need to separate four types of traffic:

  • T1 - low priority reliable traffic for P2P and file transfert
  • T2 - store and forward traffic
  • T3 - high priority traffic for transactional application / signalling (banking, telephony control, supervisions, Web services)
  • T4 - media transport (RTP, streaming, YouTube) from content providers

Maybe the GIX for all this kind of traffic should be clearly separated with different accounting rules.

  • T1 would be accounted per volume,
  • T2 would accounted per message,
  • T3 would be accounted by the garanteed capacity offered,
  • T4 accounted by sessions (based on time and bandwidth requested).

This separation could be extended to some part of the core network of ISP.

Having said all that, I guess that I will be killed by Network neutrality proponents as this pave the way to differenciated charging of Internet services.

The Internet

Journal Journal: Giving up on Wikipedia 2

I'm giving up on Wikipedia today. Which means no more editing, and a lot less using it.

The reason is one word: Deletionism.

The details are three points:

a) It goes so against the spirit of Wiki, because a deletion is a non-reversable, non-reviewable change. The history gets lost, all work of everyone gets lost, and nobody can see and check it later. Every other change in a Wiki is documented, and you can see exactly what was changed, by whom, and when. Not so with a deletion. If you are lucky, you can find out that there used to be a page named this, but nothing about its contents.

b) It is destructive. You put hours of work into something, and it just gets deleted. Not updated, changed or even vandalised, but deleted. Poof, gone, as if it never existed. Have you ever lost your documents folder with no backup? Then you know the empty feeling. Don't do that to people, especially not those who might be new (and could have become worthy contributors, if they hadn't be hit in the face for their first attempt).

c) Notability-Nazis. Some time ago, the main reasons for deletion where actually valid. Nowadays, the main reason for deletion is notability, or in simpler words "I've never heard about this". My position on notability is very simple: Add a "non-noteable" category, namespace or at least archive and move stuff there, but it should not even be on the list of reasons for deletion. To me, an encyclopedia is where I look up the stuff that I've never heard about, so it'd better be there.

So for all these reasons, and a few minor ones, I've really switched sides over the past few weeks. I think I even begin to understand why large parts of the science community view Wikipedia with scepticism, and that much of the media's portrayl of their reasons is grossly simplified.


Journal Journal: The Vast Left-Wing FOSS Conspiracy 1

Apparently, the webmasters at the Right-Wing website are blaming the fact that Scoop is made by members of the vast Left-wing conspiracy as the reason they're having web problems and can't seem to RTFM.

If we'd been a liberal website, we would have been able to fix the problem quickly and relatively cheaply. The online left loves Scoop. Unfortunately, there weren't really any conservative Scoop developers out there to help us. We kept crashing and were out of money. We had to close down or take drastic action.

C'mon, there must be a few coders out there who haven't been co-opted by the George Soros/islamoliberalcommienazi Illuminati and could help these poor boys. But it must be a little bit embarrassing for these strong self-reliant free-market conservatives to have to ask for a handout:

But we're convinced that America can afford even less to have us operating at anything less than our absolute peak potential during the coming presidential election season.

So we've decided to move ahead with our upgrades without delay, and despite not having the cash on hand - hoping and praying that readers like you will help us make up the shortfall with a generous donation.

The Internet

Journal Journal: Sessionfull HTTP 6

This was recently posted on Slashdot (in the Firehose only). Here is my own views of things:

HTTP protocol has been originaly created to enable documents transfer. In the original idea, HTTP is pretty stateless: it consists in a series of transactions that are supposed to be more or less unrelated. Authentication has been added as a feature to enable simple access control on documents.

Of course with the evolution of the Web, appreared merchant sites which needed to:

  • Keep a context attached to each user in order to enforce a given page flow (i.e. forbid deep linking).
  • Maintain session based data for the user's basket)
  • Perform banking transaction for payment

The second evolution of the Web is AJAX and the idea of Web based application (GMail).

All this works with the overstretched old HTTP protocol. In the document that is linked to the post, the protocol evolution suggestions are very shy. I suggest much bolder changes:

To define a real sessionfull mode for HTTP that

  1. Is based on an explicit persistent TCP connection. Closure of the connection would be equivalent to end of session.
  2. That is authenticated only once at connection time
  3. Several transaction could be opened at once but would be identified by a sequence number
  4. Server based events would be explicily supported by clients and server alike.
  5. Standard transaction format / RPC protocol such as AMF would be proposed along with the ineficient XML format that I personally dislike for such applicatons.

This would be the proper foundation of web based applications. Note that in the proprietary world, Flash Media Server and its open source counter partn the red5 project are an interesting model or inspiration source for such standard work.

The truth is that such another session based protocol already exists: this is SIP and with some amendment, we could embbed it in Web browser and use SIP over TCP as a control protocol for web based / session based applications. This would be a pretty neat alternative and would avoid the ususal standard duplication that we witness at IEFT so often.


Slashdot Top Deals

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Corporal Hicks, in "Aliens"