.................with apologies to Alistair Cook

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Iran Tries to Pacify Protesters With Lord Of The Rings Marathon

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday June 25, @01:28PM
from the chip-the-glasses-and-crack-the-plates-that's-what-Ahmadinejad-hates dept.movies

Iranian state television's Channel Two is playing a Lord of the Rings marathon in an attempt to keep people inside watching hobbits and not protesting in the streets. Normally people in Tehran are treated to one or two Hollywood movies a week, but with recent events the government hopes that sitting through a nine hour trilogy will take the fight out of most. Perhaps this was not the best choice in films if you want your people not to believe that "even the smallest person can change the course of the future."

دموکراسی شعار ماست، خشونت انزجار ماست

D4308IR1.jpg Copyright The Economist 2009.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Oh, the irony - South Carolina Governor and Appalachian Trail Devotee Mark Sanford Voted to Impeach Bill Clinton in 1998

Sweet delicious schadenfreude, how I love thee.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

RIAA settles suit where defendant had no PC!

RIAA member Universal Music Group this past weekend was forced to settle a music file sharing lawsuit it had filed against New Hampshire resident Mavis Roy. The label dropped its case after evidence provided by anti-piracy snooping firm MediaSentry was successfully challenged by the defense's expert witness Dr. Sergey Bratus. Among other key problems with the data, the defense pointed out that Roy didn't own a computer at all at the time of the supposed infringement and that it wasn't until a letter appeared that she was aware of any possible action.
Universal is likely to have settled the case to avoid creating a legal precedent that could be used to shoot down other MediaSentry-derived evidence and defeat the RIAA in similar cases.

Opponents to the RIAA's lawsuit tactics have argued that MediaSentry is not only an unauthorized investigator but that it has regularly misidentified file traders by making assumptions about the accuracy of IP addresses that have targeted the deceased, young children and those like Roy who didn't have computers. Such tracking systems can only see file sharing accounts used by certain IP addresses and doesn't account for those using others' connections, mistaken physical addresses or the person actually using the computer.

The RIAA has claimed it will stop suing individuals in favor of trying to force Internet providers to monitor and flag pirated material, but questions have been raised why new lawsuits have appeared and why other, sometimes questionable lawsuits have persisted since the formal change in policy.

From MacNN

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The boring old plug

This is pure genius and I want one:

Force of Nature: Artist Puts Petal to the Metal for Electrifying Images

From Wired magazine:


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Iran and the Internet: Uneasy Standoff

Iran and the Internet: Uneasy Standoff: "Iran and the Internet: Uneasy Standoff
By James Cowie on June 16, 2009 4:21 PM | 3 Comments | 1 TrackBack

We've received enough interest about our previous notes on Iranian Internet connectivity that I wanted to give a brief update, and some reflections.

In short: Iran is still on the Internet. As the crisis deepens, people are literally risking their lives by continuing to use the Internet for coordination and communication. Iran's physical connectivity to the Internet is so centralized, and so fragile, that it's within the power of the government to simply 'turn it off' if they so desired. And yet, they have not done so.

Except for a brief period of outage over the weekend, the routes into Iran from the rest of the world have been basically intact, if a bit congested and unstable. Most of that congestion and instability is probably the result of six billion people who are freshly interested in Iranian politics, all reading (and in some cases, yes, attacking) Iranian websites. We aren't making things easier for the people inside Iran, who need that same bandwidth to get out their images and observations and tweets.

To show that nothing much has changed structurally, consider the fact that the same lineup of six international carriers are still carrying the megabits back and forth to the government's monopoly points-of-presence at the Iranian border. (See the following chart, which shows how the relative percentages of routes to Iranian networks carried by those providers has changed over the last few days.)


What happens inside Iran to those bits is anyone's guess (censorship, site blocking, traffic interception, and harassment, from all accounts). But the pipes are open and the traffic is flowing. In a few cases (which I will not detail, for obvious reasons), there are actually direct paths to international carriers, in defiance of government monopoly, that are now getting good use.

I've talked to a lot of people in the last few days about this puzzle. In a crisis that verges on revolution, the first thing a government typically does is take control of the media that can be controlled, and shut down the media that cannot.

Why is it different this time? There seem to be three basic theories.

The cynics. Perhaps the government has left the Internet intact so that they can use it to surveil and round up dissidents. Perhaps they even put bandwidth constraints in place to make it easier to cope with the volumes of traffic that need to be captured and filtered.

The optimists. Perhaps the government has realized that a modern economy relies on the Internet to such an extent that it cannot be turned off, for fear of disrupting financial transactions and business communications. Iran's Internet ecosystem is relatively rich, and the impact on their economy of a sustained Internet shutdown would be significant. Why make it harder for companies to do business in Iran at a time when oil revenues are cratering and foreign investment is looking for reasons to take a walk?

The realists. Perhaps the government is too busy with other things to worry about the Internet. Governments aren't well-suited to run the Internet, and they don't completely understand how it works. The Internet has never been 'turned off' before, and it would take creativity and thoughtful action to figure out who to ask in order to get it done. So it simply hasn't happened, and probably won't. Good thing, too, because they might not be able to turn it on again.

You can pick the theory you like. I guess I'm a realist, but I'd like to be an optimist. If you wait long enough, something good can come out of something bad. If fertility rates hadn't tripled during the long Iran-Iraq war in the 80s, Iran wouldn't be faced with this demographic bulge of restless 20-somethings who have grown up with the Internet and expect it to keep working.

You can fight people, but you can't fight human nature, and you can't fight demographics. Iran is going to follow the same long-term trend as the rest of the developing world: building a civil society based on free expression, global communication, free mobility of human capital, and cross-border investment. That's what the Internet symbolizes, and yes, if you ask these folks, it's worth fighting for."

(Via Renesys Blog.)

Gaps in the Iran firewall

Posted on Thursday, June 18th, 2009 | Bookmark on del.icio.us
A Deeper Look at The Iranian Firewall
by Craig Labovitz

In the previous blog post about the Iranian firewall, we explored macro level Iranian traffic engineering changes (showing that Iran cut all communication after the election and then slowly added back Internet connectivity over the course of several days). Like many other news reports and bloggers, we also speculated on Iran’s intent — how was the government manipulating Internet traffic and why?

Thanks to the cooperation of several ISPs in the region and Internet Observatory data, we can now do a bit better than speculate — we have pieced together a rough picture of what the Iranian government’s Internet firewall appears to be doing. The data shows that DCI, the Iranian state run telecommunications agency, has selectively blocked or rate-limited targeted Internet applications (either by payload inspection or ports).

I’ll step through several of these applications.

On average, Internet traffic is dominated by web pages (roughly 40-50% of all Internet traffic). And the vast majority of this web traffic (unless you happen to be Google or Facebook) goes into ISPs and the millions of associated end users (as opposed to traffic going out of a country or ISP). Iran is no exception.

The below graph shows web traffic (TCP port 80) into Iran over the days before and immediately after the election. Though the graph clearly shows a brief post-election outage followed by a decrease in web traffic, the Iranian web traffic was comparatively unaffected by Iran filter changes. Based on reports of Iran’s pre-existing Internet filtering capabilities, I’d speculate DCI did not require significant additional web filtering infrastructure.

In contrast, the next graph shows streaming video traffic (Adobe Flash) going into and out of Iran. Note the significant increase of video traffic immediately preceding the election (presumably reflecting high levels of Iranian interest in outside news sources). All video traffic immediately stops on the Saturday following the election (June 13th at 6:00pm Tehran / IRDT) and unlike the web, never returns to pre-election levels.

The next graph on Iranian applications filters shows email into and out of the country. Again note the run up in email traffic immediately preceding the election (especially outbound mails). And then? The data suggests DCI began blocking some outgoing email even before the election completed. Following the election, email returned at reduced levels (again, presumably because DCI had filtering infrastructure in place).

Finally, a look at the top applications now blocked by the DCI firewall(s). The chart shows average percentage decrease in application traffic in the days before and after the election. As discussed earlier, the Iranian firewalls appear to be selectively impacting application traffic. I’ll note that ssh (a secure communication protocol) tops the list followed by video streaming and file sharing.

While the rapidly evolving Iranian firewall has blocked web, video and most forms of interactive communication, not all Internet applications appear impacted. Interestingly, game protocols like xbox and World of Warcraft show little evidence of government manipulation.

Perhaps games provide a possible source of covert channels (e.g. “Bring your elves to the castle on the island of Azeroth and we’ll plan the next Ahmadinejad protest rally?”).





Saturday, 20 June 2009

Iran and Twitter


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

No pre-conditions? "Demilitarisation" doesn't count as one then?

If any further proof was needed that Israel's current PM has no intention of offering a realistic program that the Palestinians would have any chance of selling to their people for a possible two-state solution, then this BBC report should be enough to show that he's merely posturing.

The Jewish people wouldn't accept such a "solution" if suggested for them - does he honestly think that this is anything other than laughable?

Netanyahu seeks 'demilitarised Palestine

The US has put pressure on Mr Netanyahu to accept a 'two-state' solution
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced he will back a Palestinian state - but only if it is completely demilitarised. He said a Palestinian state must accept the existence of Israel and must have no army, no control of its air space and no way of smuggling in weapons.

Mr Netanyahu's speech comes a month after US President Barack Obama urged him to accept a two-state solution.

The Israeli leader offered to talk to the Palestinians immediately.
He said he was willing to talk with no preconditions, adding: 'We want to live with you in peace as good neighbours.'

Mr Netanyahu also said he was willing to go to Damascus, Riyadh and Beirut in pursuit of a Middle East peace deal."

(Via BBC News.)

Monday, 15 June 2009

The BNP <spit> and The Royal British Legion

I think this sums up everything that needs to be said about Griffin and his neo-Nazi thug followers. All credit to The Royal British Legion.

Oh, and just in case you're in any doubt why I feel justified in labelling them neo-Nazis, take a look after this letter.

09 June 2009

Dear Mr Griffin,

We couldn't help but notice that there was egg on your face (and on your suit jacket) on the day after you were elected MEP for North West England.

Please don't leave egg on ours.

You wore a Poppy lapel badge during your news conference to celebrate your election victory. This was in direct contravention of our polite request that you refrain from politicising one of the nation's most treasured and beloved symbols.

The Poppy is the symbol of sacrifices made by British Armed Forces in conflicts both past and present and it has been paid for with blood and valour. True valour deserves respect regardless of a person's ethnic origin, and everyone who serves or has served their country deserves nothing less.

The Poppy pin, the Poppy logo, and the paper Poppy worn during Remembrance are the property, trademark and emblem of The Royal British Legion.

For nearly 90 years, The Royal British Legion has pursued a policy of being scrupulously above the party political fray. It is vital that everyone - the media, the public and our beneficiaries - know that we will not allow our independence to be undermined or our reputation impaired by being closely associated with any one political party. This is more important now than ever.

On May 27th, 2009, the National Chairman of The Royal British Legion wrote to you privately requesting that you desist from wearing the Poppy or any other emblem that might be associated with the Legion at any of your public appearances during the European Parliamentary election campaign.

He appealed to your sense of honour. But you have responded by continuing to wear the poppy. So now we're no longer asking you privately.

Stop it, Mr Griffin. Just stop it.


The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem, the red poppy.

Nazi Party
We demand the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.

It believes that the indigenous peoples of the entire British Isles, and their descendants overseas, form a single brotherhood of peoples, and is pledged therefore to adapt or create political, cultural, economic and military institutions with the aim of fostering the closest possible partnership between these peoples.

Nazi Party
Only those who are our fellow countrymen can become citizens. Only those who have German blood, regardless of creed, can be our countrymen. Hence no Jew can be a countryman.

The British National Party stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples. BNP activists and writers should never refer to 'black Britons' or 'Asian Britons' etc, for the simple reason that such persons do not exist.

Nazi Party
Any further immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans who have entered Germany since August 2, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich immediately.

It is therefore committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration and to restoring, by legal changes, negotiation and consent, the overwhelmingly white makeup of the British population that existed in Britain prior to 1948.

Nazi Party
We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press.

The BNP stands for the revolutionary principle that the printing presses and broadcast channels of the media must tell the truth in their reports.... we will create a new criminal offence of “The deliberate dissemination of falsehoods about an individual or organisation for financial or political gain” by any media outlet.

Nazi Party
All editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens.

A separate danger to genuine democracy comes from the concentration of ownership and control of the mass media in too few hands, particularly when the hands concerned are those of foreigners whose primary loyalty is not to Britain.

An inherent aspect of fascist economies was an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence. Fascist economies were based on private property and private initiative, but these were contingent upon service to the state. Fascism opposes many capitalist tenets, such as support of free trade and free international movement of capital.

The British National Party is pledged to the maintenance of a private-enterprise economy operating within a broad framework of national economic policy. It is opposed to international monopoly capitalism and to laissez-faire free trade and free movement of plant and capital.

Fascist movements oppose any ideology or political system that is deemed detrimental to national identity and unity, such as communism and laissez-faire capitalism.

The British National Party is implacably opposed to Marxism and liberal-capitalist globalism, which undermine our standard of living, human and ecological welfare, freedom and national identity.

Fascism tends to promote principles of masculine heroism, militarism, and discipline; and rejects cultural pluralism and multiculturalism.

The compulsory National Service system....would begin at the age of 18 with a period of basic training in the army. This would include full training with the citizens’ assault rifle. Conscientious objectors who refuse to undertake military service would be allocated other constructive work for the community, but would NOT receive THE CITIZEN'S RIGHT TO BE ARMED, or THE RIGHT TO VOTE.
Even if.... it proved to be possible to assimilate and integrate huge numbers of immigrants from other ethnic and cultural groups into Western societies without mayhem and bloodshed, we would still oppose it.

MEMBERSHIP (Lifted from their earlier website, they have never retracted this however)
Membership of the party shall be open only to those who are 16 years of age or over and whose ethnic origin is listed within Sub-section 2 (ii) The Celtic Scottish Folk Community; iii) The Scots-Northern Irish Folk Community; iv) The Celtic Welsh Folk Community; v) The Celtic Irish Folk Community; vi) The Celtic Cornish Folk Community; vii) The Anglo-Saxon-Celtic Folk Community; viii) The Celtic-Norse Folk Community; ix) The Anglo-Saxon-Norse Folk Community; x) The Anglo-Saxon-Indigenous European Folk Community; xi) Members of these ethnic groups who reside either within or outside Europe but ethnically derive from them.)<-----That's white to you and me.

"[t]he British National Party’s determination not simply to stop any further mass immigration into the British Isles, but also to reverse the tide which has transformed vast areas of our country out of all recognition over the last fifty years. We, as the sole political representatives of the Silent Majority of the English, Scots, Irish and Welsh who formed and were formed by our island home, have one overriding demand: We want our country back!"

"We would repeal the Race Relations Acts and all other restrictions on free speech in Britain.... We would abolish all departments, agencies, or other units of government whose sole and specific purpose is to deal with ethnic issues, grievances, or crimes.... We would abolish all laws against racial discrimination in employment and the government bodies associated with enforcing them."

"A Clause 28-style proscription against the promotion of racial integration in schools and the media would be introduced."

"This wicked, vicious faith has expanded from a handful of cranky lunatics about 1,300 years ago, to it's now sweeping country after country before it, all over the world. And if you read that book (the Koran), you'll find that that's what they want." - Nick Griffin

"It is more important to control the streets of a city than its council chamber." - Nick Griffin

“The electors of Millwall did not back a post-modernist Rightist Party, but what they perceived to be a strong, disciplined organisation with the ability to back up its slogan “Defend Rights for Whites’ with well-directed boots and fists. When the crunch comes, POWER IS THE PRODUCT OF FORCE AND WILL, NOT OF RATIONAL DEBATE.” - Nick Griffin

"I am only going to represent the white people. I WILL NOT REPRESENT ASIANS. I will not do anything for them. They have no right to be in my great country." - Derek Beackon

"When we get to power OUR OPPONENTS WILL BE SWEPT AWAY like flies." - John Tyndall

"Very few people in Britain are aware of the huge influence over the mass media exercised by a certain ethnic minority, namely the Jews." - Nick Griffin

“The controllers of Hollywood, almost entirely Jewish. Some 'ANTI-SEMITISM' MAY BE PROVOKED BY THE ACTIONS OF CERTAIN JEWS THEMSELVES and thereby have a RATIONAL BASIS”. - Nick Griffin

"There is no doubt that hundreds, probably thousands of Jews were shot to death in Eastern Europe, because they were rightly or wrongly seen as communists or potential partisan supporters. That was awful. But THIS NONSENSE ABOUT GAS CHAMBERS is exposed as a total lie." - Nick Griffin

"[t]his BLOODY JEW [Alex Carlile MP] whose only claim is that his grandparents died in the Holocaust." - Nick Griffin

"There's not a European country the Jews haven't been thrown out of. When it happens that many times, it's not just persecution. THERE'S NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE." - Mark Collett

"Without the White race nothing matters [other right-wing parties] believe that the answer to the race question is integration and a futile attempt to create "Black Britons", while we affirm that NON-WHITES HAVE NO PLACE HERE AT ALL AND WILL NOT REST UNTIL EVERY LAST ONE HAS LEFT OUR LAND." - Nick Griffin

"Yes, Adolf went a bit too far. His legacy is the biggest problem that the British nationalist movement has to deal with. It just creates a bad image." - Nick Griffin

"There is a STRONG, DIRECT LINK from Oswald Mosley to me." - Nick Griffin

“The TV footage of dozens of ‘gay’ demonstrators flaunting their perversions in front of the world’s journalists showed just why so many ordinary people find these CREATURES so repulsive.” - Nick Griffin

"Churchill was a fucking cunt who led us into a pointless war with other whites [the Nazis] standing up for their race." - Mark Collett

"He's a fucking traitor." - Mark Collett on the Prince of Wales

"The Royals have betrayed their people. When we're in power they'll be WIPED OUT and we'll get some Germans to rule properly." - Mark Collett

"A FRIENDLY DISEASE because blacks, drug users and gays have it." - Mark Collett on AIDS

"Hitler will live forever; and maybe I will." - Mark Collett

"The sick minds who would have us believe that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz are completely twisted." - Tony Lecomber

"Asians are rubbish, and that is what WE ARE GOING TO CLEAR FROM THE STREETS." - Derek Beackon

"Those responsible for creating this multi-racial hell hole must face trial and pay the ultimate penalty." - Nick Griffin

"AIDS Monkeys.... bum bandits.... faggots." - Mark Collett on homosexuals

"Racial laws will be enacted FORBIDDING MARRIAGE between Britons and non-Aryans: medical measures will be taken to prevent procreation on the part of all those who have hereditary defects either racial, mental or physical." - John Tyndall

"Mein Kampf is my Bible." - John Tyndall

"[t]here will be an unanswerable case when the day for the great clean up comes, to IMPLEMENT THE FINAL SOLUTION against these sub-human elements by means of the GAS CHAMBERS" - John Tyndall

"There's a difference between selling out your ideas and selling your ideas. And the British National Party isn't about selling out it's ideas, which are your ideas, but we are determined now to sell them. And that means basically to use these salable words.
As I say, 'freedom', 'security', 'identity', 'democracy', nobody can criticise them, nobody can come at you and attack you on those ideas: they are salable. Perhaps one day, once by being rather more subtle, we got ourselves into a position where we control the British broadcasting media, then perhaps one day the British people might change their minds and say, 'Yes, every last one must go'. Perhaps they will one day, but if you offer that as your soul mate to start with, you're going to get absolutely nowhere. So, INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT RACIAL PURITY WE TALK ABOUT IDENTITY." - Nick Griffin addressing the Ku Klux Klan

"Voluntary repatriation. Isn't that EASIER TO SELL than compulsory repatriation for all?" - Nick Griffin

"I honestly don't hate asylum seekers - THESE PEOPLE ARE COCKROACHES *and they're doing what cockroaches do because cockroaches can't help what they do, they just do it, like cats miaow and dogs bark." - Mark Collett *This is what the Hutus in Rwanda called the Tutsis of which 800,000-1 million were killed

"Well apparently didn't they get a lot of dentistry and plastic surgery."
- Rotherham BNP's Marlene Guest, referring to horrific Nazi experiments on Jews and others during World War II.

"The idea that the Black African Bishop Sentamu, the Asian Muslim MP Shahid Malik, the part-Turkish Boris Johnson and the Jewish Lord Goldsmith have anything to teach the indigenous English about St. Georges Day is absurd." - John Lee Barnes

"When these Asians go out looking for a victim, they don't go looking for Asian victims. They don't go mugging Asian grandmas, they don't go stabbing each other, they don't go trying to solicit sex off little Pritesh or little Sanjita, they go straight to the whites because they are trying to destroy us and they are the racists." - Mark Collett

“All black people will be repatriated, even if they were born here. ” - Nick Griffin

"Black culture is totally inimical to the mental and spiritual development of young white people, encouraging laziness, lack of ambition in worthy pursuits, preoccupation with the trivial and the banal, appalling manners and absence of respect for others". - John Tyndall

"WHITE WORKING CLASS SCUM will be swept away by a future BNP government." - BNP councillor Simon Smith


"I'm no apologist for WHITE WORKING CLASS SCUM." - BNP councillor Simon Smith

"Rest assured, all those HOMEGROWN TRATORS who have taken part in the war against our indigenous rights will one day be held to account for their crimes." - Nick Griffin

“I want to see Britain become the 99 per cent genetically white country she was just eleven years before I was born, and I want to die knowing that I have helped to set her on a course whereby her future genetic makeup will one day not even resemble that of January 1948, but that of July 1914. Nothing will ever turn me from working towards that final vision.” - Nick Griffin

"Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal... [it] is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence." - Nick Eriksen

"Honestly now, would you prefer your kid growing up in Oldham and Burnley or 1930's Germany? It would be better for your child to grow up there." - Mark Collett

"Meanwhile, the indigenous side in the low-to-medium level civil war brewing in this country is getting its training. . .Its all going to get very messy." - Nick Griffin's blog on the BNP website

"It's clearly worth talking in terms of SIX-FIGURE SUMS to persuade families to go"- Nick Griffin, the Times, April 19, 2007

“We live in a country today which is unhealthily dominated by an EXCESS OF SENTIMENTALITY TOWARDS THE WEAK AND UNPRODUCTIVE. No good will come of it.” -Jeffrey Marshall (senior organiser for the BNP’s London European election campaign), 2009 after the death of Ivan Cameron.

“There is not a great deal of point in keeping these people alive after all.” Jeffrey Marshall again referring to Ivan Cameron.

"The capitalist free traders, the Marxists and organised Jewry have declared war on the white man, not just in Britain but in every nation on the planet". - Nick Griffin

"We don't think the most overcrowded country in Europe, can realistically say, 'Look, you can all come and all your relatives'. When the Gurkhas signed up - frankly as mercenaries - they expected a pension which would allow them to live well in their own country." - Nick Griffin, 12 May 2009

Nick Griffin addressing a KKK meeting

Nick Griffin denying the Holocaust on the Cook Report

Nick Griffin denying he denied the Holocaust on the Cook Report

The BNP canvassing for the EU and council elections 2009.
The BNP's organiser admits that membership is limited to white Europeans.

Marlene Guest repeating the claims of 'Did Six Million Really Die?', a Holocaust denial book by Richard Verrall of the National Front. It's been thoroughly refuted by historians and claims things such as the Holocaust is used as a tool to exterminate the 'white race': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Did_Six_Million_Really_Die%3F

Sky News expose on the BNP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRKk2K3fMk0

Sunday, 14 June 2009

"Liar, liar, pants on fire"

Something that used to be shouted as an epithet at school.

And today, Google gets my vote for the best candidate. Google Gears is (see below) supposed to work on OS and browsers greater than the minimum (hence the "+" after the various definitions). Quite simply, it doesn't. I'm running Snow Leopard which is OS X v10.6 - higher than their minimum. Using Safari v4 - higher than their minimum.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire".

So Google needs to either get their army of coders working on getting Gears properly running or change this on their gears.google.com page:

"Gears works on the following browsers:

Apple Mac OS X (10.4 or higher, G4, G5 or Intel Processor)
Firefox 1.5 or higher
Safari 3.1.1 or higher (requires OS X Tiger 10.4.11+ or Leopard 10.5.3+, G4, G5 or Intel Processor)"

LATER: A good friend pointed out that this doesn't mean they've got it wrong - I know Simon, I was ranting :)

Fiber To The Home: Ideal Economic Stimulus?

I only came across this blog post today but it's fascinating. So, why shouldn't this be done?

Apart from incumbent telco inertia and fear of course :) And a shedload of technical/legislatory problems to solve. But apart from that...

Fiber To The Home: Ideal Economic Stimulus?: "

New York.--Senator Robert Bulkley, of Ohio, has made a proposal which is certainly worth considering.

It is as clear as daylight that, to bring about any sort of recovery, somebody must start some new sort of business or some extension of an old business.

It is also clear that nobody is in sight right now who has any notion of doing that — at least not in time to do this country any good as a depression cure.

There is one business which is a public business but is also a private one. This is the road-building business. The Government pays for the roads and hires the contractors. But the roads are built usually by private contractors and with materials furnished by private manufacturers.

If there is one thing needed in this country now, in view of the development of the automobile, it is express highways running east and west and north and south. Why, therefore, cannot the Government go into the business of building these highways?

Washington News, February 9, 1938

Tough Times for Local Exchange Carriers

This week, the headlines seem to be full of fresh doom and gloom for wireline carriers, who employ people in every congressional district across America. Sooner or later, someone is going to call for Congress to tap some of the hundreds of billions in 2009 economic stimulus to help the LECs through troubled times, save lots of jobs, and preserve the way we do business in our critical last-mile communications infrastructure.

Is this wise? Is there a better way?


Customer Owned Networks

I stumbled across a really interesting paper this week, written by Derek Slater and Tim Wu, and it set me to thinking. Slater is a policy analyst for Google, but not writing on their behalf; Wu is a professor at Columbia Law School.

They propose an interesting thought experiment. What if you could own your internet connection, instead of leasing it from a service provider? In their "customer owned network" scenario, homeowners would literally purchase a strand of glass, running from their house to a common point of presence, where multiple providers would compete for the right to sell services over the fiber. The property rights you'd acquire in the physical network would be quite literal — when you sell the house, your strand of fiber goes with it. It's an improvement to your house.

The optical trunk, or bundle of fibers, that winds its way through your housing development, town, or county would also be yours, owned as a cooperative by all of the individual strand owners, who would pay the equivalent of "condo maintenance fees" to cover repair costs (backhoes do get hungry, you know).

Slater and Wu call this the "Homes with Tails" model, and a 400-home customer owned network is already being built out in Ottawa, in a trial run by CANARIE. In that experiment, the electric company brings your strand to the house, and charges you an additional $0.02 per kilowatt-hour over five years to pay for it (thus encouraging you to save energy in the process).

Have it Your Way

Their key observation about a customer-owned last mile network is that you, the homeowner, would have complete freedom to light your fiber however you like. You can make whatever deal you can make, with whatever provider you can meet at the PoP, who is willing to offer you service over your fiber. You'd strike a deal, they'd set a price, they'd lease you some link-layer equipment for your house, they'd light the fiber and offer you services under contract. But they wouldn't have anywhere near the same kind of leverage that they would if they owned the glass.

Don't like their pricing? Don't like their lack of network neutrality? Don't like the cut of their jib for whatever reason? Just cut 'em loose and get another service provider. It's your fiber, all the way from your house to the exchange point. They meet you where you have the maximum number of choices (the PoP), rather then the fewest (your doorstep).

How much bandwidth would you have on tap? Well, using current laser technology and cheap commodity equipment, it's trivial to push one to ten gigabits per second over that strand. And it gets you to a PoP where you could be paying a provider of your choice tens of dollars a month for the right to sustain those gigabits, and burst to tens of gigabits, across the public internet. Yes, in a competitive environment, where you buy the data service and own the fiber to the exchange point, that's how little you might pay for retail gigabit connectivity, if declines in wholesale internet transit prices continue on their current trendline. And as the switching and transmission technology curve matures over the 15- or 30-year life of your home fiber investment, maybe you end up with terabits per second of capacity. Futureproof, baby.

Getting Off the Launchpad

So this led me to think about the challenges of launching customer-owned networks, most of which focus around the "first mover disadvantage" — if someone starts a program like this in your neighborhood, your best play is to wait until they (the rich early adopters) have paid the freight. Then you jump in a few years later and pay only incremental connection costs. But because the startup costs are really significant, and because nobody wants to look like a sucker, this in essence means that such projects never get built, except in the easiest-to-reach neighborhoods, and then only by a service provider who hopes to extract a monopoly rent over the fiber. Not what we're looking for!

What's worse, the current economic climate also makes it hard to envision anyone starting a new fiber buildout of any scale. Credit has all but dried up, making it increasingly difficult for anyone to justify sinking huge capital investments into projects that might not return dividends for years, if ever, and then only in the densest markets, and then only depending on dodgy assumptions about penetration rates and revenue per user. Verizon is bravely pressing ahead with its FIOS buildout, estimated to cost $20B over 2004-2010 to reach just 18M households in five east coast markets. But then, Verizon just laid off thousands of people, a few weeks before Christmas, as business softens and their competition strengthens. And Verizon is probably among the strongest of the wireline carriers, most of whom are too focused on their collapsing margins and inability to roll commercial paper in this credit environment to think about undertaking significant new fiber-to-the-home projects. Especially if the model (customer-owned fiber) prevents them from exacting monopoly rents when it's all built out.

Time for a New Deal?

You have to ask: wouldn't this be an interesting use for a few hundred billion dollars of government investment? If the new Obama administration is looking for an investment project that would stimulate the economy in the short term, and build a completely new set of national capabilities in the long term, a national-scale customer-owned physical network would be an intriguing possibility. The government would provide the cash and the muscle to build the network, and then transfer it, strand by strand, to its long-term owners: those who own the parcels of residential and commercial property where the fiber terminates.

Start with a mixture of rural areas and midwestern cities: economically depressed areas where carriers have arguably underinvested in the residential fiber plant relative to what might be in the long-term public interest. Send a surge of engineering companies into the field, working in cooperation with municipalities and the utilities to secure the rights of way, open the streets, install the ducts, climb the poles, string the fiber, reach the houses.

You'd have to cover a few million miles of roads, at an average cost of tens of thousands of dollars per mile. You'd have to build some reasonable number of regional PoPs where service providers can meet customers, and maybe subsidize more fiber to help the independent providers carry aggregated customer traffic back to traditional internet exchange points in the big cities. But because it's "just fiber" (no customer premises equipment, no switching, no nothing), and because you're the government, able to lean on regulated industries and secure rights of way fairly cheaply, you're still talking tens of billions of dollars, maybe a couple hundreds of billions, to cover really large parts of the country.

And because we're still focused on leaving this a customer-owned network, ownership of the fiber network would remain with the individual citizens who own the pieces of property where the strands terminate. At the end of the project, the government doesn't own the network (individual property owners do), and they don't operate it (individual service providers do, competing for individual property owners' business). The property rights would be quitclaimed to the individual property owners. The costs could even be recovered from property owners over the next 30 years, perhaps in the form of a few dollars per month surcharge built into new residential mortgages, or as a federal tax on services provided over the new network.

Limited Government Intervention, Private Ownership

None of this is new, of course. Bill St Arnaud has been advocating customer-owned network projects in Canada for a long time (he's the fellow responsible for CANARIE's Ottawa trial I mentioned earlier). And compare Fred Goldstein's vision of divesting the CO and local loops from the switching and service platform to create a set of highly-regulated "LoopCos" for truly competitive universal access. In our customer-owned last mile fiber network, some Loopco-like entities would have to bid the local contracts to maintain the fiber plant, run the fiber exchange points, and so forth, all complications that I've glossed over here.

And the general concept of a national information grid and fiber to the home has been floating around for a long, long time, at least since the PITAC studies from more than ten years ago. To my knowledge, however, the concept of a customer-owned national last mile fiber plant has never received serious consideration. What works in favor of building it this time around is the economic climate, and the size of the effort that most people are now willing to envision for the government's role in rebooting the national economy.

The hundred-billion-dollar costs for building this project are not out of line with the other flavors of economic stimulus that have been proposed. The strategic returns on the investment are potentially far higher. The technology for stringing and laying fiber is well-established, the materials readily available, the expertise distributed among thousands of local small businesses nationwide. And at the end, instead of having poured that money down a hole fighting a war, or buying every American a new Chinese-made plasma TV, you've actually changed the ground rules of the domestic internet infrastructure.. and the American economy itself.

How many gallons of gas would be saved by eliminating half the miles commuted to school and work every day? How many pensioners could live an extra year or two at home, watched over by telepresent family, instead of checking into nursing homes? How much safer would our economic infrastructure be from attack, if the infrastructure of our information economy could be spread thinly around the country? What kind of entrepreneurial innovations might emerge, what new industries might flourish, if any two American street addresses could exchange nearly limitless amounts of internet traffic on demand?

I don't know, but I'd like to find out. It would be a highly nontrivial project, and I have glossed over many of the trickiest parts, such as building and managing the exchange points, and determining who gets to colocate and cross-connect there, on what terms.. In fact, building a nationwide customer-owned last mile network would be so nontrivial in scale, and so disruptive of the existing economics of Internet edge access, that it could only be envisioned during a time of national crisis. Would the payoff to future generations of property owners be worth it? We have a rare opportunity to consider the question.

Disclaimer: These opinions are mine alone, and not those of Renesys Corporation.

(Via Renesys Blog.)

Iran, the elections and "censorship" by the incoming government...

Strange Changes in Iranian Transit

By James Cowie on June 14, 2009 7:33 AM

Many media sources have reported outages in Iranian mobile networks and Internet services in the wake of Friday's controversial elections. We took a look at the state of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and found that the story is not as clear-cut as has been reported.

There's no question that something large happened in the Iranian telecom space, and that the timing aligns with the close of voting and the emerging controversy. Iran typically has a fairly high baseline level of sporadic route instability, due to the country's highly centralized incumbent transit through DCI (Data Communications Iran, AS12880) and DCI's somewhat peripheral connectivity to the main east-west conduits for data. Even so, we started seeing spikes of route instability (changes in the paths to Iranian IP space) starting around 08:05 UTC on Saturday (just after noon in Tehran) that were significantly larger than normally expected. These bursts affected as many as 400 prefixes (blocks of IP addresses) — the majority of Iran's Internet presence.


At 17:48 UTC, instability turned into outage, as more than 180 Iranian networks were withdrawn from the global routing tables, indicating that there were no remaining paths into DCI for that portion of Iranian traffic. Contrary to media reports, however, the outages were fairly short-lived. Within a few minutes, half of the outaged population were restored to alternative transit; over the course of an hour, outage levels returned to their normal baseline. Route instability continued to be fairly high, and that pattern has continued through the night and into Sunday.

What can we say for sure? Not much, except that Iran remains well-connected to the Internet from a routing perspective. If I had to guess, I'd say that there are probably a lot more people around the world pulling local content from Iran's providers right now, and that surge of demand is probably contributing to increased congestion and (perhaps) some of the route instability we see. It wouldn't be unusual for there to be some inbound cyber-mischief as well, from supporters of one or the other side, but so far we only have rumors on that front.

It is interesting to note that the changes in routing that took place were very specific in their impact on DCI's various transit providers, who keep the country connected to the world. There are six of them: Turk Telecom (TTNet, AS9121), FLAG (AS15412), Singapore Telecom (AS7473), PCCW (AS3491), Telia (AS1299), and Telecom Italia Sparkle (AS6762). As the following plot shows, five of them lost Iran's transit, and one of them (Turkish Telecom) was a big gainer. (Red arrows indicate loss of transit preference from the outside world; green indicates a gain in transit via the given provider.)


A transit shift of this magnitude may indicate that something (administrative, or physical) has affected Iran's connection to the submarine cables running east and west — not a total outage, but some kind of significant impairment. Turkey has their own, interesting arrangements with Iran for transit, and those are still in good shape (perhaps somewhat congested, having presumably doubled or tripled in transit volume). It wasn't unusual to see 300ms traceroutes from North America and Europe in this timeframe to many Iranian sites.

Of course, you have to remember that globally visible routes are the signposts for inbound traffic to and through DCI to the local providers; from the outside, there's no telling what the Internet experience of the average person inside Iran is like today. It sounds as if a lot of content is being blocked within the country. For now, it's a good sign that information continues to flow, and Iran is still connected to the world at large. Let's hope they stay connected...

20 years of CIX

It's 20 years ago this year since I first ventured onto CIX, a UK-based (originally bulletin board - for those of you too young to know what this means, ask your parents!) conferencing system and a fount of knowledge, fun and a social and business meeting place.

Using a modem running at 2400 baud if I remember correctly. The excitement as I paid about UKP 400 for a 9600 upgrade. Sad, but true. Now of course, it's IP all the way, using either the web based forums or, for the die-hards, an off-line reader called Ameol.

Wiki has the bare-bones of the history.

Sheesh. So much has changed. I originally joined for the Netwire conference - which was the only UK based source of technical support and patches for Novell' Netware software - still one of the best OS' ever written, that got beaten in the marketing stakes by Microsoft and Windows NT.

Lots of good friends dating back from the very beginning - some of whom I still haven't met face to face! Births, deaths, marriages, divorces - all the rich tapestry of life was there. Douglas Adams of Hitchhikers fame was a member as were most of the technical journalists who wrote about the early days of personal computing.

In this day of free forums and Google, is CIX still value for money? Yup. It's a shame that its glory days are past but until the last server is switched off and the connection to the outside world cut, I'll still be paying my UKP 7 per month...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Too late for Liz again but...

From the BBC: Analgesic drugs do not always work against cancer pain but a breakthrough could lead to drugs to alleviate the pain experienced by cancer patients.

The biology of cancer pain is different to other types of pain, often rendering analgesic drugs ineffective.

Work by a German team, published in Nature Medicine, shows that blocking a specific type of hormone-like molecule produced by tumours could help.
The team showed that the molecules make nerve endings grow in nearby tissue, causing an acute sensation of pain.

Pain is one of the most debilitating symptoms associated with the many forms of the disease. It can become excruciating as cancer advances, but tackling it has proved difficult for doctors. The molecules highlighted by the latest study, by a team at Heidelberg University, were known to play a role in the development of blood cells in the bone marrow. But this is the first time they have also been shown to have a role in causing pain.

The researchers hope their work could lead to new drugs to block this action. Dr Mark Matfield is scientific adviser to the Association for International Cancer Research, which partly funded the work.

He said: "Identifying one of the ways in which cancer causes pain - in fact, perhaps the main mechanism - is a crucial step towards drugs that could bring relief to cancer sufferers across the world."

Dr Joanna Owens, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: "It's important that we continue to improve pain relief for people with cancer, and this study reveals an intriguing new avenue to explore. What's particularly encouraging is that this research could one day lead to drugs that can block pain locally at the tumour site - which could ultimately lead to more effective pain relief with fewer side effects."

Wednesday, 10 June 2009