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Comment Too Late. (Score 5, Insightful) 215

We have a myriad of technical solutions to this problem.

Tor and the .onion domains effectually neutralise the ability of a third party (The state or any other organisation) to perform survailance on internet traffic.

Freenet enables the disemenation of whatever material anybody cares to share, to anybody.

Bitcoin allows unregulated trade.

It should be our goal to spread these existing tools and develop new methods of ensuring information can be transferred between people without fear, censorship, or interferance of any other person.

Comment Brilliant News - We need this. (Score 2) 77

File sharing technologies have been evolved to provide the maximum amount of convenience to as many users as possible. An inconvenient system results in too few users for a file share network to be sustainable. The goal of organisations is to reduce the number of users. The goal of sharers is to increase it.

The "Three Strikes Law" enabled organisations to state that they will catch people file-sharing and cut off their connection. We have to persuade users (most being non-technical) that the technology we produce to evade detection (encryption etc) keeps them safe. This is difficult when they are also being told it does not work by our opponent organisations.

This regulation against ISPs creates a technical problem without recrimination for solving it. It essentially results in an inability to trust the security and reliability of the network technologies at the lower end of the OSI model (controlled by the ISPs). This results in more inconvenience for the end user but no fear.

This plays straight to our hands. Not only are the developers of communication systems used to dealing with unreliable networks, we can now go to people with our tools (Tor,Free DNS etc), but instead of having to persuade them that it protects them from punishment, we just have to show them the tools remove their inconvenience - resulting in more users using encrypted file sharing technologies and tor.

As a bonus, we can help users hide and encrypt everything by default, creating a culture of protected information amongst ordinary people. This not only satisfies the goal by the file sharers, but also reduces the effectiveness of every other regime and organisation from governments down who want to censor the information people share.

If we play this right we will be telling our children we were there when we took away control of the internet.

Comment it's FAR from perfect (Score 1) 839

The Television should be a single unit complete with the pause/record/reqind of live TV, integration with home media servers, streaming from content providers such as BBC iPlayer, and it should do it all with nothing more than a power chord and arial cable (optional Arial cable - better to have a wireless Arial) coming off it and no requirement for any set top boxes. (games consoles deliver output by wireless)

All this should be as seamless to use as the original TVs from the 1950s.

In other words, you should get everything right from getting the TV out the box - and to non techs it should be considered magic.

When we can do that lets look at this question again.

In the meantime, look at your nice sharp big screen and how it is freamed with a birds-nest of cables behind it, and arrays of ugly grey boxes. Tell me that cant be improved.

Comment An Organisation Breaking Privacy Laws? (Score 1) 105

Every phone call and text message I make are monitored and recorded. The websites I visit are recorded. My emails are read. My posted packages and letters are opened and read. My car number plate is recorded as I move across the country. My credit card transactions are watched, and the movements I make on public transport with my oyster card is recorded and logged. My medical records are routineley examined, as are records of any dealings I may have had with the police. This is done without my knowlege or conset - as it is to every other UK citizen. It is done by an organisation that claims it is only violating my rights to go about my business in private because it is in the public good. That same organisation who are now trying to destroy a newspaper group because THEIR rights were violated!

The newspapers didn't take anyone's information that wasn't already logged and recorded by other organisations, they just made the information public. Any charges the newspapers or reporters are found guilty of should be made against people working for Whitehall and associated companies.

Comment Spread the news: The monster's dead! (Score 1) 485

I'm just thinking of all the ways I can break the news to the "web developers" working in east london offices painted a plethora of shades of white (with a suspiciously vibrant green fern) and insist there is more difference between their mac pro and my intel based workstation than a piece of fruit, that they can no longer list ActionScript as their primary programming language!

Plenty of fun ways but none lacking in cruelty :)

Comment Re:Damn (Score 1) 190

Absolutley Right - there is nothing to worry about.

In most cases of tax evasion it costs the government more to claim back the tax than the amount that would be claimed. Although there is a phenomenal amount of money in unpaid taxes, the investigations would not be cost effective; even with automated software.

Software like this is like the TV license detector van - a myth to worry people. it is designed to encourage people to declare taxes themselves.

Comment Re:Prejudice (Score 1) 196

Presumed dishonorability = worst case scenario? The article is in a way right, but singling out the Chinese is prejudice. The article could just as easily end with;

Wouldn't the Indian software developer be crazy not to put in a back door?

Wouldn't the low - paid US code monkey be crazy not to give details of his work if paid enough?

A good security regime assumes everyone possesses limitless dishonesty and incompetence without prejudice. To give a pretty minimal chance of data theft a security regime has to prevent data from ever leaving the site. That means packet monitoring firewalls that disallow anything that is not plain-text HTML into the cloud, no tele-commuting, no printers, operating systems loaded onto ROMs that do not allow code execution full stop, and modified PCs fitted with case alarms, no drives, and the USB connectors removed from the motherboards. That would do for a start

Comment This Will Fail. (Score 5, Interesting) 84

Usually, when sitting having a chat, and someone asks us the utterly boorish "my internet seems to be running slow"; One of the first pieces of advice we give to people to speed up their net is to ditch BT broadband. BT's infrastructure is old, poorly designed, and managed on the cheap. Their consumer grade equipment (Home Hub - Business Hub) uses poor quality electronics and software making it almost unusable. (I have yet to meet someone with a working set of "Hub Phones")

Their phone line instillation service is woeful. Younger engineers are poorly paid and badly trained - creating birds nests of redundant wiring inside their junction boxes, degrading an ADSL signal to the point dial-up seems a realistic alternative. Even an experienced engineer is given such a busy schedule they have no choice but to cut corners.

The poorly installed phone line and slow internet service is not what pushes customers over the edge - its the customer service. A phone call to BTs technical support regarding a cable fault will most probably (worked out mathematically from the many service calls I have endured) be routed through to billing - who will tell you that booking another engineer cannot be sent because there is something amiss with their system. They will tell you this without apology - in a tone of voice suggesting it is you'r fault their system does not work.

Of course... BT are always adding value to their products - BT vision for example. An innovative service where you pay BT to stream channels free on digital TV to a set top box (over your internet connection using bandwidth you pay for). Even their own websites suggests that you could get every channel available on free-view, 20Mb download bandwidth (less whatever BT vision uses), with unlimited usage, a Free BT-Vision set top box, and even a £25 Amazon gift certificate. All this for just 40 pounds per month! With an extra £10 per month line rental. And an instillation fee for the BT Vision Box.

Rant over - point is BT could, and most likely will, provide a music service, and most likely will employ traffic shaping. It most likeley be woeful when compared to the likes of spotify or any other current provider. Chances are if you use BT broadband your internet connection will be so poor you wont be able to notice traffic shaping. Only a lunatic would actually buy an internet based service from BT - when they can barely provide an internet service. They obviously have no interest in providing a good quality telephony product, or internet product. Eventually, these sorts of rants will be repeated on /. posted to an article explaining how BT went bankrupt.

Comment Sputnik in more ways than you think! (Score 1) 176

The Sputnik Moment happened because it meant the Soviets could bypass every defence a country could provide, and detonate an atomic weapon at any point on the earth's surface. as soon as that was realised NATO was united by one doctrine - "We need a space based capability equal or surpassing that of an offensive soviet force - NOW!"

What's important is not whether the China has achieved a space plane launch, but their apparent intentions:

Chinese military analysts clarify that a Space plane will definitely form the basis for a space combat platform. This space combat platform will be intended to attack targets on Earth or it could carry out counter-space combat missions. China is aggressively pursuing air-breathing hypersonic propulsion technologies, which will provide additional avenues to develop very rapid long-range “deep strike” weapons.

Although there are various treaties set out during the cold war to limit the military exploitation of space, China would appear to be focussing on offensive capabilities. Cant help but wonder who they imagine the target of these offensive capabilities to be. One thing is for sure; we in the west need an offensive space based warfare and deep strike force equal or surpassing that of an offensive Chinese force - NOW!

I actively oppose many if not the majority of US policies - and do the same to the policies of my own country - the UK. Especially the draconian "anti-terror" laws brought in recently to curb our freedoms and liberties in the name of a largely exaggerated threat - but the thought of a country like China having this capability is genuinely frightening!

Comment Exciting Times! (Score 1) 127

I'd imagine there will be a very large quantity of new PS3 OSs and OS distributions! but its good to see freeBSD ported! My biggest congratulations are for the next PS3 cluster super-computer! Just out of idle curisoty though: I remember Sony reading they are making a loss on PS3 hardware - offset by the sale of games. so id love to know if they can calculate a their losses from puchases of PS3's for other purposes (or if they can estimate their losses any more accuratly than losses to pirated games) Also, The cell archietcture is pretty advanced - what do slashdotters reckon will be running the PS4 that would make it a worthwhile upgrade?

Comment Re:They want to end network neutrality in the UK (Score 1) 43

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 grants PUBLIC bodies the right to use covert means to spy on it's citizens - not private entities such as people or companies.

Police organisations can use RIPA to bug, wiretap, intercept communications of whover they damn well please for crime prevention. Military organisations can do the same for national security.
That won't change as long as government minsters know one huge terrorist incident in the UK will be the end of their careers.

HMRC (the tax office) has the powers for Tax Evasion.
Pretty much every government beuracratic department can use RIPA for spying on its citizens. The local councils use RIPA for everything from making sure people obey parking regulations, putting the right type of trash in the right type of bin, catching benifit cheats, making sure people do not cheat the education system by buying a house they will never live in within the catchment area of a good school.

The real Interested parties are the large corperations that secrectly dispose of electronic waste as household waste to avoid rediculous disposal charges - whos senior management have a desire to try and park three mercedes down city residential roads where they have bought a cheap flat to remain empty to get their children into a good school because they are wealthy enough to - and they are wealthy enough to because they don't declare all their earnings to be raped by the tax man! - These people who can afford the best solicitors to get them off any charge of wrongdoing save one backed up by concrete evidence only organisations using the powers granted by RIPA can provide. These people also form the backbone of the paid up members of the Conservative Party - along with man small c conservitaves of the Liberal Democrats.

If they had a long consultation period, they would have the socialists fighting them to keep RIPA as well as the civil rights campaigners getting their input. Better to have a short consultation period to allow the big companies to get rid of the powers to bring them to account nice and quietly.

If you lost all faith in big business as a force for good... you can alwayse rely on them giving you freedom so they can do evil things to you :)

just as a footnote - wikipedia does have a good article summarising RIPA

Comment Re:It has started already (Score 2, Interesting) 161

Key phrase in the guardian article:

The Fitwatch blogpost, which last night had reappeared on several other websites

They had this problem a while back with the company Trafigura who tried to remove information regarding their activities that was in the public domain. It was available in hundreds of places within the hour.

Usually people do not replicate information, instead pointing to the origional source. Only when the origional information is threatened with censorship is it replacted to the point of it not being able to be removed.

Of course - being able to shut down domains such as, preventing idiots from giving away all their credit card details is probably quite a good thing.

It is too bad that in the hands of the Serious Organised Crime Agency; a department with the ability to violate almost every one of our civil liberties (car-number plate tracking, Bank snooping, hidden CCTV cameras to name but a few) but not it would seem the ability to make a single dent in the crime felt by any community, my less than competent friends will still be able to hand their data over to whilst I read material I do not particularly care about becuase "they" wanted to stop me reading it, and giggle at the absurdity of trying to censor the internet.

Comment But How Will This Actually Work? (Score 1) 390

To be clear, the article states using domain-name registrars to shut down Domestic websites. The workings of the DNS are nicely described by this Wikipedia example;

As an example of the DNS resolving process, consider the role of a recursive DNS resolver attempting to lookup the address "". It begins with a list of addresses for the most authoritative nameservers it knows about – the root zone nameservers (indicated by the full stop or period), which contains nameserver information for all top-level domains of the Internet.

When querying one of the root nameservers it is possible that the root zone will not directly contain a record for "", in which case it will provide a referral to the authoritative nameservers for the "org." top level domain (TLD). The resolver is issued a referral to the authoritative nameservers for the "org." zone, which it will contact for more specific information. Again when querying one of the "org." nameservers, the resolver may be issue with another referral to the "" zone, whereupon it will again query for "". Since (as of July 2010) "" is a CNAME to "" (which is in turn a CNAME to ""), and the "" nameservers also happen to contain authoritative data for the "" zone, the resolution of this particular query occurs entirely within the queried nameserver, and the resolver will receive the address record it requires with no further referrals.

If the last nameserver queried did not contain authoritative data for the target of the CNAME, it would have issued the resolver with yet another referral, this time to the "" zone. However, since the resolver had previously determined the authoritative nameservers for the "org." zone, it would not need to begin the resolution process from scratch but instead start at the "org." zone, thus avoiding a query to the root nameservers again.

So using the same logic, to block on the root name servers, all 13 root DNS servers (worldwide) would have to add an entry for and send it to a separate IP address. so the US government could mandate that the the .org authoritative nameserver blocks - however control of the top level domains is a useful thing for a country to have - and there is nothing stopping the generic authoritative namesevers from relocating out of the US. even if they did not do that - where is the authoritative nameserver for .se? if it is in Sweden (likely now- more likely if they are pressurised by a foreign government) they most will not fold to US pressure - and even if they did nothing to stop the pirate bay moving to another country.

Since hosting websites selling counterfeit/illegal goods hosted in the US would already most likely end up in a knock on the door from the police - I would imagine the better pirate websites, along with other sites such as wikileaks, are already hosted outside the US and are pretty much immune.

The next part is the court order to force ISPs to redirect traffic from non-US sites. what exactly will the court order require? if it requires ISPs to redirect traffic destined to the IP address of the site in question - what happens when the site changes it's IP address? is it to "whatever IP address is registered to the site" in which case who is responsible for tracking all the non US websites when they change their IP addresses? Is it to change the IP address the DNS resolves the name to? if so all foreign DNS services will need to be blocked from inside the united states, and all American DNS requests routed to a server that will comply. it all adds up to a half hearted attempt at a firewall that will be circumvented almost as soon as it is implemented

This sort of thing just goes to show the distance between the people who manage laws and policy against those who manage the technology. I'm sure Every ISP would say with much more depth something similar - ISPs would love to stop piracy since it costs them in transferring data. they don't implement these measures because they know it is less cost effective than letting pirates use their networks.

One argument for this action is it will stop "casual pirates" and does not need to target the technically minded. This argument falls down on the realisation that "casual pirates" are spoon fed how to pirate materials by the technically minded. I could easily keep 20 people up to date and pirating whatever measures are taken, and it would take up so little of my time I could do it for a beer down the pub later. (just as a disclaimer, I don't give lessons on how to pirate, and I don't pirate myself. I Will however try and provide council on what is technically possible, and provide them with enough information so they can assess the risks and benefits of piracy themselves - and alternatives that exist. I do require a payment in ale though!)

Comment History of the Site? (Score 1) 250

What is the history of the site? Was the feature there when your grandparents moved into the farm? Do they remember the day when the feature formed. The best thing to do would be to ask how big the bang would be to make that crater - and what sort of radius would the blast be felt, heard, and seen? then check local newspapers for reports on something that would create a bang that size. (probably something like "ammunition train explodes". The fact you haven't heard anything like this suggests it probably was not a meteorite impact.

Comment Re:Logic of one way (Score 1) 839

If we are talking about pure logic: it boils down to the probability of just a sucessful return vs the probability of when that return will be

A return trip to Mars will be successful IF:
The return craft is not damaged,
All members of the crew remain healthy enough to prepare the return craft,
supplies do not run out.

If the return craft fails, or the crew are unable work to prepare the return craft before the supplies run out, the entire crew will die. Space travel has too many unknowns to realistically give a chance of survival of a return trip.

By taking out the return, we have to assume and plan that there is no minimum survival date. Then we get this scenario:

Robotic construction equipment and materials are sent to Mars. Controlled from earth; solar power, water cycle equipment, machines to actually convert CO2 into breathable oxygen, and comfortable habitation are all constructed. These are sent as many, smaller missions so if one fails it is not the end of the effort.

Many "one way craft" carrying food and spare parts are sent to the red planet over a long period of time. Each supply mission increases the reliability of the craft.

A Large team of space colonists are sent on a one way trip using these now tried and tested vehicles. They arrive at Mars to a fully functioning, powered, habitable colony they can occupy indefinitely on food supplies sent from earth. (This would consist of many small supply missions carrying a surplus on the assumption some will not make it)

The large team is then sent ample supplies of food, materials and equipment to expand and maintain the colony. As the colony expands more are sent - the colony is subdivided into small independent units so if one fails the entire Mars population is not killed.

Eventually the colony becomes populous enough that return vehicles are constructed and two way transport is possible. The original colonists, all be it 10-15 years later, return to earth to a heroes welcome.

I have quite a nice life on earth with a nice family. Of course I would like to be a Martian pioneer, but would want to be given a decent shot of returning to earth. If going on pure logic - this way I can say there is a very good probability I will be returning to earth alive – even if I cant say the exact date.

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