Category Archives: miscellaneous ranting

Why is BT charging me for services that they tell me are free/included?

I prepaid for an entire year of line rental and only use it for DSL; so compare:

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.45.45

With:

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.50.12

And:

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 20.52.05

…when, further, I saw this happening a few months ago (July? August?) and unsubscribed from those services; as I see it, I should not be being billed anything either because I unsubscribed from the services, or simply because I am promised that I “get the features with no extra cost”.

This is misrepresentation.

So @BoingBoing has apparently gone puerile and forgotten the bigger picture /cc @doctorow

I like Boing-Boing, I’ve read it for years. I’ve met Cory several times as part of my work to help the Open Rights Group. I am generally sympathetic to a lot of the posts which are posted there.

I like the blog.

So yesterday there was something in the BoingBoing twitterfeed – a Disney Winnie-the-Pooh, meant to mock Richard Dawkins for having posted something about the TSA doing the pointless things that the TSA do, viz: taking away harmless things from you at airports:

Yes Richard’s a brusque character and a pain in the arse as far as some people are concerned; but still this is a notable, useful and blatant piece of security theatre, about which BB has written at length.

I feel that the war on the war on terrorism should win over nerdy character assassination, so I tweeted my – relatively modest – thoughts about this, to be met with a reaction which I’d describe as “apparently puerile”:

Being ignored would have been more mature response than this, I’d even half expect that.

But that’s not the weird thing.

The weird thing is that I checked my Google Docs this evening to find that Mark Frauenfelder has shared with me a “public” Google Doc entitled:

“People who are disappointed with Boing Boing”

Screencap:

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 00.26.14

My name is not on it, there is no explanation why he has shared it with me. Does he expect me to edit myself onto it? Am I supposed to see it and understand that I and a handful of others are “alone” in our criticism? Is this some sort of shit-list? A list of uncool people?

I can only suppose in the light of the childishness of the exchange last night that to understand the intent I would have to reach into my memory of pre-pubescence.

What the fuck, Boing-Boingers? You’re meant to be the cool people – and, mostly, the hip ones too? Perhaps you’re a collective rather than an organisation, but this action of whomever many speaks ill of your brand.

[PDF]
People who are disappointed with Boing Boing – Google Drive

Have logged this with @Jawbone about a bug with Big Jambox; let’s see what they do.

Hi Guys!

I am running a software-updated 11-inch, Mid 2011 MacBook Air and using my Big Jambox. For reference I am a Unix system programmer and developer with 25 years of experience, so if you want to talk to me using quite long technical words, I am very happy.

Long story short: I have paired and re-paired, software updated, and connected-via-USB-and-wiped-all-the-pairings-and-again-paired my Big Jambox with my Macbook Air, and yet STILL it refuses to play sound from my Mac whilst the Sound Preferences are set to STEREO “Bluetooth Headphones” (my emphasis) – but it is really well behaved and plays well as non-stereo Bluetooth Headphones… except it just sounds like crap.

So, to recap:

1) I go to System Preferences > Sound, while paired.

2) If I select “Alec M Jambox .. Bluetooth Headphones” => okay but low rez mono audio

3) If I select “Alec M Jambox Stereo .. Bluetooth Headphones” => does not work at all, no audio, silence. Makes a depressing “bloop” noise when I select it, then silence. Selecting back to non-stereo and it start playing again immediately.

Syslog says this when I switch it to Stereo mode:

Sep 13 21:11:06 mistral.local coreaudiod[147] : Enabled automatic stack shots because audio IO is inactive
Sep 13 21:11:06 mistral kernel[0] : REQUIRE_NO_ERR_GOTO_ACTION failure: 0xe00002c0 – file: /SourceCache/IOBluetoothFamily_kexts/IOBluetoothFamily-4140.4.2/Core/Family/Drivers/IOBluetoothSCOAudioDriver/IOBluetoothSCOAudioEngine.cpp:550
— last message repeated 1 time —
Sep 13 21:11:08 mistral.local coreaudiod[147] : Disabled automatic stack shots because audio IO is active

…at which point it goes silent. When I switch it back to mono audio playback I get this:

Sep 13 21:11:59 mistral.local coreaudiod[147] : Enabled automatic stack shots because audio IO is inactive
Sep 13 21:11:59 mistral.local coreaudiod[147] : Disabled automatic stack shots because audio IO is active
Sep 13 21:11:59 mistral kernel[0] : [AppleBluetoothHCIControllerUSBTransport][HandleIsochData] — Error: 0xE000400F (kIOUSBMessagePortWasNotSuspended)
Sep 13 21:11:59 mistral kernel[0] : E:[AppleBluetoothHCIControllerUSBTransport][AppleBluetoothHCIControllerUSBTransport::HandleIsochData] error 0xe000400f (kIOUSBMessagePortWasNotSuspended) — Isoch In pipe

….and then it springs into lo-fi life.

It’s deeply vexing not to be able to use the Big Jambox over bluetooth properly. I am, I repeat, running the latest 10.8 OSX patches, and have run Disk Utility permissions-checking to ensure nothing is untoward in /dev. Looks like a driver issue to me.

Any idea how I can fix this, please?

A simple rebuttal to @cguitton’s attempt to trash Tor Hidden Services /cc @torproject

There’s this paper by this guy at KCL.

That he’s posted it on Dropbox is both relevant and ironic.

In it, and in his Twitter feed, he argues essentially that Tor is OK-ish, but promotes anonymity – which he sees as “bad” – and Tor Hidden Services are intolerable and should “no longer be developed” because they promote so many bad things.

There are a bunch of arguments one could have about morality, privacy, anonymity, etc; but that’s playing the game in the expected fashion, leading to much postmodern posing and wastage of breath; so I will try a different, more Turingesque machine-based approach.

It’s very simple:

Strategically there is no communications difference between Tor, and Tor Hidden Services; what do I mean by this? I mean that both are simply forms of communication, and all forms of communication are functionally interchangable. To explain:

Tor mirrors the Internet and provides a connected graph of nodes which can communicate peer-to-peer; Tor Hidden Services provide a client-server model akin to the Web which runs atop the Internet.

If we are talking about access to data at rest – then we can provide such access in both models; with peer-to-peer networks we use Content-Based Addressing (a-la “Magnet Links” on Bittorrent) and on client-server networks we use Resource-Based Addressing (a-la URLs on the Web)

If we are talking about access to data in motion – then we can also provide such access in both models; with peer-to-peer communications (Skype, Bittorrent, E-Mail, USENET) – which may be synchronous (VoIP) or not (store-and-forward); and on client-server networks we historically just emulate the endpoints of peer-to-peer communication (E-mail becomes IMAP).

If data is not at rest or in motion, what is it?

So: there are two sorts of data and two communications mechanisms which are equivalent, merely using alternate addressing strategies* to distinguish them; with this understanding there is no way to choose one over another, nor reject one as “bad” while the other is “ok” or “good”.

Therefore, when one is dismissing a communications mechanism as bad, one is not talking about the medium, because all communications media are technically equivalent.

Instead, one is talking about the message. Therefore one is talking about censorship.

Welcome to your new role, Clement. Censor. QED.

Also, Dropbox, really? That’s not a proper webserver at all. If anything, it’s a peer-to-peer network with hierarchical backing storage and distributed web-emulating frontends.


* Another example:

  • Resource based addressing: “third shelf, fourth book along”
  • Content based addressing: “says it’s authored by Dickens, begins with ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…'”

Do you know what it is, yet?

2010: ThorpeGlen Maintains the Worlds Largest Social Network

Just in case it ever vanishes, a memory from archive.org; Thorpe Glen were a spinoff of a spinoff of BT and were subsequently bought-out – I forget by whom; their website lies idle; but be aware that they existed back then.

ThorpeGlen Maintains the Worlds Largest Social Network
Date published: 6th July, 2010
Technology innovation enables dynamic update of over 1.2 billion social profiles

ThorpeGlen Limited, world leaders in design and development of mass data analysis and storage solutions for the security sector, announced the creation of the worlds largest social network, with over 1.2 billion nodes in a live installation of the ThorpeGlen Monitoring Solution (TMS) measured in May 2010. A node on a social network is a person, piece of equipment or account, the network itself maps the linkages between nodes meaning that flow of funds through bank accounts, the movement of people and materials within a production facility or the way in which people communicate with each other by e-mail or telephone can be visualised and analysed.

Tony Chester, Chief Technology Officer at ThorpeGlen, explained that “the capabilities provided by the ThorpeGlen Monitoring Solution (TMS) enable our customers to quickly identify irregular behaviour or suspicious patterns within a social network thus providing a powerful tool in the prevention and detection of revenue loss and crime. Maintaining social profiles across a vast social network so that behaviour patterns can be analysed has proved to be a complex issue. Technology innovation has enabled us to dynamically update over 1.2 billion social profiles as the network continuously evolves.”

ThorpeGlen was granted the Queens Award for International Trade in 2009, building on this in 2010 ThorpeGlen’s leading edge technology has been recognised with the presentation of the Queens Award for Innovation.

HT PrivacyInternational

Tales from Sun Microsystems – stuff you would not believe…

It was very similar to now, but also very very different…

Bob Coe once told me he did not have to interview the candidates for his Administrative Assistant position. I should simply ask each candidate to link her hands behind her head with her elbows pointing forward and walk toward the wall. If her elbows were the first part of her anatomy to touch the wall, she was eliminated from candidacy. All applicants whose breasts touched first, he would interview.

We had a Quality Director named Jim Griffin. An employee threatened to kill him once. And someone else kept pooping in his desk, really, pooping in his desk drawers (I am not kidding, who would make this stuff up?). This was not a real popular guy.

The guy who wanted to kill him came over to Mt View building 2 when he could not find Griffin in Mt View building 4. I worked in building 2. Someone from building 4 called me in my office at about 5:45 pm and said that this guy was on his way and by the way, he had a firearm. Really. So, I went to the lobby and moved the folks who were waiting there to the lunch room. Just as I was running back across the lobby to lock the front doors, the guy with the gun comes in demanding to see McNealy. I explained to him that that was not the appropriate escalation process for his complaints. No, I didn’t. I talked to the guy for about 5 minutes and he gave me the gun. The police came and arrested him. Griffin never thanked me…neither did McNealy, come to think of it. But it was my new boss’ first day on the job and she told me in that typical, passionless HR modulation that she was very impressed by how I handled it. I never liked her.

Posted by Nancy (in 2010) at Consulting Adult: Life in the Boy’s Dorm: My Career at Sun Microsystems.

HT: Andrew Gabriel

Whilst we’re learning today: Holodomor. No, it’s not Harry Potter, not at all…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor

The Holodomor (Ukrainian: – , “Extermination by hunger” or “Hunger-extermination“;[2] derived from ‘-‘, “Starving someone” [3]) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR and adjacent Cossack territories between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the “Terror-Famine in Ukraine” and “Famine-Genocide in Ukraine”,[4][5][6] millions of Ukrainians and Cossacks died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[7]

The estimates of the death toll by scholars varied greatly. Recent research has narrowed the estimates to between 1.8[8] and 5[9] million, with modern consensus for a likely total of 3–3.5 million.[10] According to the decision of Kyiv Appellation Court, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million famine deaths, and a 6.1 million birth deficit.[11]

Scholars disagree on the relative importance of natural factors and bad economic policies as causes of the famine and the degree to which the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin.[7][12][13][14] Some scholars and politicians using the word Holodomor emphasize the man-made aspects of the famine, arguing that it was genocide; some consider the resultant loss of life comparable to the Holocaust.[15] They argue that the Soviet policies were an attack on the rise of Ukrainian nationalism and therefore fall under the legal definition of genocide.[16][17][18][19][20] Other scholars argue that the Holodomor was a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of Soviet industrialization.[17][18][21][22]

 

A Eulogy For AltaVista, The Google Of Its Time

AltaVista; I liked it so much that I stole the graphics took inspiration from it when building Sun’s first internal search engine:

Goodbye AltaVista. You deserved better than this. Better than the one-sentence send-off Yahoo gave you today, when announcing your July 8 closure date. But then again, you always were the bright child neglected by your parents.

The Amazing AltaVista

You appeared on the search engine scene in December 1995. You made us go “woah” when you arrived. You did that by indexing around 20 million web pages, at a time when indexing 2 million web pages was considered to be big.

Today, of course, pages get indexed in the billions, the tens of billions or more. But in 1995, 20 million was huge. Existing search engines like Lycos, Excite & InfoSeek (to name only a few) didn’t quite know what hit them. With so many pages, you seemed to find stuff they and others didn’t.

As a result, you were a darling of reviews and word-of-mouth praise. You grew in popularity. In fact, I’d say you were the Google of your time, but it would be more accurate to say Google was the AltaVista of its time. That’s because Google didn’t even exist when you were ascendant. That’s also because you help paved some of the way for Google.

It was a brief ascendency, however. You were headed upward, but your parent, Digital Equipment, didn’t quite know what to do with you. You started out as an experiment, and then got used as a poster child for Digital to prove why companies should buy super-computers.

continues at: A Eulogy For AltaVista, The Google Of Its Time.