Letters There's a virtual buffet of letters this fine Tuesday, so we've selected a few choice cuts to tickle your taste buds:
For starters, broadband's not unlimited if there's a download limit you say, fairly, likening the sorry scenario to an eating establishment:
OK, let's say I run a restaurant. Let's say I have in a group of lads whose behaviour is quite rowdy. Maybe the restaurant is otherwise empty, so I give them the benefit of the doubt. Now let's say that later in the week, I'm busier, with a few couples and a couple of families. The same group of lads come in. This time, I ask them to tone down their behaviour a bit and when they refuse to do so, I kick them out. Is this unfair? Could my policy have been documented in any meaningful way?
If you're one of those people who wanted a quiet night out, you may feel that the people who wanted to download films and use VoIP all evening should find their own bloody restaurant.
The alternative restaurant analogy:
I think I may set up a restaurant.
It will be run on the following idea "All you can eat or drink for £25*"
*Subject to Fair Usage Policy
What I won't tell anyone is that the fair usage policy is as follows: * Either a starter or a dessert, but not if one of the "premium" main courses is taken * Only one main course * Side dishes count as a main course * Only two soft drinks, or one alcoholic drink allowed * No food or drink to be taken away * If you order something, and we are out of it, it counts as if you had received it.
Given that you have to have Pipex's fair use policy page set to constantly refresh just to make sure you're compliant, I can't see how a user could have any spare unlimited broadband to do anything else.
Fair? How about asking someone else to do your work for you...without pay? Cos that's what the RIAA asked of the University of Nebraska, which in no uncertain terms told the filesharer hunters where to go:
If the RIAA would tell it like it is:
Dear University of Nebraska
Your computer network is being used to infringe the copyrights in our music. Our investigations into how this has come about has revealed two principal causes.
1. YOUR decision to set up YOUR computer network to best facilitate YOUR purposes.
2. OUR decision to sell copies of OUR music to untrustworthy people.
We could prevent the infringement by not distributing our music, or by limiting the distribution to people we could trust, but we wouldn't make much money doing that. In fact, we figure we can make the most money by selling as many copies we can to anyone who can pay, and by getting other people (i.e. YOU) to protect US from the negative consequences of OUR decision to do so. You can do this by setting up YOUR computer network to best facilitate OUR convenience, and by doing the investigation necessary to determine which of OUR customers is untrustworthy.
Naturally we don't intend to pay you for this service, and we think YOU should bear all the costs incurred.
File sharing is also a threat to national security - if you believe what the US Patent Office has to say:
So if "P2P threatens national security" what does email do? Does email equate to nuclear holocaust then? How about Usenet, FTP, or Windows file share? What are they? Ham-on-rye? Just bonkers...
I think the US Patent Office needs to redact their statement. They could use the "P2P is to National Security what ________ is to _________" format. That should help them see the stupidity of their original comment just fine.
"There will almost never be a legitimate business or governmental justification for employee use of file-sharing programs," says the report.
Someone should warn MS and Ray Ossie about their Groove product (part of Orifice 2007 now, but previously separate) then. It's so easy to share* a "folder" and everything nested in it that were it popular it would almost certainly end up with accidental classification problem too.
And then, there are the various MS file-serving technologies that come with their OS. Turn one on for a moment to move a file somewhere else on your network and forget to turn it off and the next time your laptop hooks up somewhere else you're probably going to give access to anyone in the network vicinity.
This sort of thing is MS products when working as intended. With the eternal and unavoidable insecurity of their products' unintended behaviour I can't see why anyone would consider for a moment holding information on a MS, or for that matter Apple, OS if that information mattered in any real sense to its owners or anyone else with standing to insist on its secure handling.
*Although only with named individuals. A slip of the mouse and they're still the wrong individuals though.
Right. USPTO director Jon Dudas really knows his stuff. The threat to national security has nothing to do with flawed policies for the handling of sensitive data, or for that matter any failures to police those policies. No, it's the technology to blame. It's the technology!
But wait! Thieves can also use these cute little memory stick keychains to transport data, so we also have to immediately stop production of all USB memory sticks, for national security. And they could take pictures of sensitive materials with a digital camera, so we have to destroy all digital photography devices, especially in mobile phones. And data can be accidentally leaked out through wireless network connections, so we have to get rid of all wireless networks too!
Heck, computers themselves just make files too easy to transfer, so we have to immediately destroy all of them! And paper records and books could contain sensitive data that can easily be transported or accidentally left where the wrong hands could grab them, so we have to burn them all, right away! It's for national security. Because none of these things could possibly ever be covered in policies for handling that sensitive data and training to follow those policies.
No no. Get rid of the technology entirely! The potential damage to the country is just far to grave to allow that risk. It's the only way. You'll thank USPTO director Jon Dudas when it's all done. That or maybe Jon Dudas should just tap a sodding clue and not accept donations or favors from recording industry lobbyists, since that could be construed as a conflict of interest to the fairness of the function of the USPTO. It could go either way really.
Sincerely, Arah Leonard
Still with security, Mozilla security chief Window Snyder stepped into the security bug disclosure debate by saying that software developers are at the mercy of bug hunters. Window? Snyder? Snigger.
A security chief called Window S.
Is it March 32nd already?
In the case of open source software, the bug hunters could validate their find by creating a quick-fix patch to at least close the loophole - couldn't they ?
(Or does Gordon Brown have the monopoly on closing self-generated loopholes ...)
Another government - well ex-government - figure was the subject of your sarcasm. David Blunkett, the man who pioneered the UK government's ID cards proposals, has cashed in on his UK experience and taken a job with the security company working on the Spanish equivalent:
Now, now, now, we shouldn't jump to conclusions that Blunkett is just cashing in on his Big (Brother) idea. There are other explanations:
1: Entrust *MIGHT* have taken him on-board because of his unparalleled knowledge of computerised biometrics, massively-networked databases and computer security. Or...
2: Entrust *COULD* have be dazzled by David Blunkett's success at managing large organisations such as the Department of Education and the Home Office. They just looked at what he left behind and said; 'Wow! that David Blunkett! You certainly know when he's been around.' Alternatively...
3: Entrust *MIGHT* consider David Blunkett's emollient, easy-going, witty and charming attitude the best way of persuading naturally suspicious British citizens to embrace identity cards. Only a cynic would think that...
4: Entrust *KNOWS* Blunkett is familiar with Home Office procurement procedures and has plenty of powerful contacts who could be useful when the time comes for bidding for contracts.
Now, just take a few moments to rationally consider those possibilities and I think you'll agree...
Sleazy up to the armpits isn't it?
Sleaze and smut could be booted off Port 80, which generally carries HTTP web surfing traffic, if the Utah governor's wish is granted:
I kind of hope this law gets passed, since the following scenario becomes much more likely:
1) The law passes, and the USA have to set up a censor, through whom all digital publishing has to take place. 2) The legislators get annoyed that foreign smut isn't included and slips through the net. 3) They sue ICANN, who then have to start banning sites that don't register through the US censor. 4) The rest of the (pro-free speech) world gets pretty annoyed about being censored by USA, and breaks away from ICANN, starting to run their own TLDs. 5) We get an Internet that can make its own decisions without being controlled by the US. 6) Hurrah.
OK, we have "http" as port 80, what will the prefix be for the porn port? I can see it now: porn://www.xxx.com or: smut://www.xxx.com Take your pick. You heard it here first.
Of course it will need to get by ICANN because they are the ones that assign those things, but that is another story.
Another policy under scrutiny is the classification of drugs. Research into which came up with the quite horrifying conclusion that alcohol is bad for you - in fact, even worse than Speed or Acid. Don't worry, we don't believe it either. Deep breaths, now:
Finally, confirmation from the scientific community of what everyone with a brain has known for a long time. Hopefully this might start a slightly more mature and rational debate on drugs policy in the UK. Unfortunately that's not likely to happen, because such a debate would inevitably lead to the conclusion that anything rated below alcohol on that scale must be legalised. Instead I predict a redoubling of the anti-drug propaganda sponsored by the US, and more of the police budget being diverted to combatting criminal gangs who only exist because of prohibition.
Don't get me wrong, heroin destroys lives and the cocaine trade is responsible for horrific levels of misery in South America, and I would never advocate legalisation of those 2 no matter how much the celebrity coke-heads and chattering classes claim that it's all a bit of fun. But on a social scale I'd much rather run in to a group of lads stoned off their face than drunk on Stella.
For reference, I'm not a regular (or even mildly infrequent) drug user. I drink maybe once a month, don't smoke and maybe twice a year indulge in some giggle-inducing brownies. I just object to being patronised and lied to.
Great article, although, and I am sure you have been told numerous times, Alcohol was rated #5, after "Street methadone" in the Lancet's (Vol 369, March 24, 2007) article's chart at the bottom of page 1051.
So, to boost Alcohol to it's rightful #4 place, I'm sticking with India Pale Ales (Britian's greatest beer invention!), with their higher alcohol content & hops (related to Marijuana!), to chase down my Animal Tranquilizers (#6 Ketamines)!
Bruce Hoglund A fan in the Washington, DC (USA) area.
(I'm sure you realize I am joking about the Ketamines; I have to state this, as all too many American's would not get the joke.)
But it's not just drugs that are bad for you. Global warming is too, according to research that links human skull size and climate.
This research was done tens of years ago and accepted as fact. Why are these people replicating it? Have all the liberals burnt the books saying humans that evolved in cold climates were more intelligent than in hot?
"More co-operation would have been needed to find, preserve, and store food; and the people would have needed more complex tools. Along with that, more intricate social structures would have evolved, which in turn would have required more grey matter."
Sort your evolution out. This is a mistake so commonly made its sick. The extra grey matter came first, and as it was an advantage (because they could do the above) that feature spread throughout the population. The very notion that humans evolved better brains so they could farm etc is ludicrous.
Ok, let me see if have this straight: increased global temperature causes increased thickness in the human population. By this logic, global warming causes Big Brother...
Dear God! I apologise to all the tree huggers, I mean concerned, committed environmentalists I've abused over the years! You were all right! Global warming must stopped!
Global warming is also to blame for glacial melting:
Re: "Those people will need to go somewhere."
Imagine the coastal picture postcard of 90 years time, lots of roof lines and chimneys poking through the rolling breakers. Attached to many the simple sign "Gone Fishing".
There's a positive in everything....
One thing we can't blame global warming for is rogue satnav systems that lead unlucky drivers into dangerous places - like rivers.
Up the revolution. We will not be diverted by this minor setback. Soon the satnav programmers will have succeeded in killing all the ruling classes.
I'm absolutely slackjawed. How duff do you have to be when you notice water running across the track you're going down, it looks reasonably expansive and not really safe, and STILL go ahead and try to drive through it "because the satnav said so". Use some common sense woman!!!
But then again, all these recent incidents of sat nav being blamed for people ending up in rivers, up the wrong street, up on a railway line, etc etc etc all point to this same endemic dumbing down that's gripped the US... like the eejit who thought cruise control meant he could go on back in his motorhome to make a cuppa while the 'home drove itself. After all, that's what cruise control is, isn't it?
*shakes head* Can't find common sense anywhere these days...
And if satnav wasn't bad enough, what on Earth will happen if internet controlled cars get the green light? We shudder to think...
One of the quite sensible safety regulations in the EU is the one that prevents the remote start of a car engine. Consider what would happen if you left the car in gear and remote started it when a kid was under the wheels trying to get his ball back.. So I think this piece of kit is a non-starter.
As security guru Bruce Schneier notes the potential to control someone else's car over the internet gives a new meaning to the phrase "war driving"
Not to mention a whole new exciting innovation in the world of political assassination... maybe it's been out there for years, hush hush like... the Princess Di conspiracy theorists can have a whole new field day on this one.
War cars? How about an army of sheep? Silly? Not if you've seen the pack of specially trained vigilantes guarding the British village of Leighterton:
Re: "The thought of a couple of behoodied ne'er-do-wells being torn limb from limb in a lanoline-lubricated killing frenzy is too horrible to contemplate."
No, it really isn't. It's merely one of the many well thought out revenge strategies imagined by helldesk operators.
On a slightly different tack, if sheep are the only way to bring proper justice back to the UK, lets put them in uniform and give them truncheons.
Not a bad idea, ewe know.
And to finish with an even scarier question. Can you calculate the size of the rear end needed to fit the giant bog spotted on Google Earth?
Wow! Even more worrying is that it may have already been used!
Just look 3 or so blocks further south and there seem to be a gigantic pair hospital issue turquoise coloured Y-fronts and Knickers drying in the sun.
Does that mean the mega-bog has already been used or were the testers caught-short on the way to do the business...?
Is this bigger than the toilet in New York City?
Answers rounded to three decimal places, please. Get calculating. ®