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Category / Politics

CloudFTP and Hypothes.is projects 14 November, 2011 at 1:48 am

More Kickstarter projects:

See the Supported Projects page for more.

-spxl

The so-called Clean Feed 12 November, 2008 at 2:33 am

Here is a copy of a letter I have just submitted to Internode, the internet service provider I used in Sydney, with my objection to the development and introduction of the so-called Clean Feed (ISP-level internet censorship) proposed by the current Australian Labor Government.

Originally addressed to Internode support with copies to Mark Newton and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the support address bounced, so I forwarded the original message to some other published Internode addresses. Two separate autoreply messages tell me I’m now in the system…

Yes, there are typos and at least a couple of sentences that went astray somewhere in the middle. And if you do read as far as the postscript, yes, I do miss my old connection, and my apartment with the view over Darling Harbour. It’s getting cold here in London.

-spxl.

To: Internode Management,

I’m hoping whoever in support receives this can direct it to the appropriate department or manager within Internode; that the other published addresses are for residential and business sales or accounts, none of which seem entirely appropriate.

As a prior Internode account holder, currently living in London and likely to be using Internode again when I return to Australia, I want to express my concern and dismay over recent news in the Australian and international media about the so-called Clean Feed that the government wishes to strangle Australia’s internet networks with.

If Australia was ever considered an internet backwater (and to be sure, it has), that was nothing compared to the ridicule and sheer disbelief that the rest of the (western, at least) world is now showing for this draconian attempt to censor the internet.

The example, I think in Finland, of a similar scheme being trialled being used to block access to an anti-censorship site is a perfect example of exactly how this system will, both unintentionally and worse yet intentionally, fail and be abused.

I have thus far read only a few articles on the subject, and a search for “clean feed” on the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy site (http://www.dbcde.gov.au) appallingly returns only a solitary relevant result – a speech by Helen Coonan in June 2006 at http://www.dbcde.gov.au/newsroom/speeches/protecting_families_online – but it seems odd that no-one mentions the obvious that this policy is almost certainly primarily about something other than “protecting the children”, which that referenced speech indicates wasn’t really possible in 2006.

I am aware that “the Mark Newton letter” of 20 October 2008 addressed to Kate Ellis is not the word of Internode, but to me it is vindication of my choice of ISP, that it is staffed by technically competent, thinking individuals who are willing to say what they believe in defence of their own rights and the rights of the community. I am horrified to hear that Stephen Conroy (or his office) made moves to have him silenced – the disturbing element of the system already rears is ugly head. Point blank: the Clean Feed is about censorship, not protecting the public. It is there to give a reason for the government (pressure groups, et al) a convenient mechanism to stifle dissent. Once the system is in place, it won’t stop the things it is “supposed to” stop, but it will stop the casual user – the greater community, if you will – from finding news and being able to have their own “democratic” voice. I am totally opposed to this and other similar criminal imbalances in the network, which in our information age is as fundamental and essential as water and electricity have been in previous times.

This does raise an interesting parallel, though, and that is of the artificial introduction of fluoride compounds into the water supply at a state or federal level: hazardous toxic waste that has never been proven safe to administer to people, which costs the community financially to implement, has no demonstrable benefits and a whole raft of negative long term consequences, all, supposedly, in the name of “saving the children” (from having bad teeth, in the fluoride case).

It is my current understanding that government is about to start (or perhaps already has started) a trial, seeking participation from ISPs. If some 80% of poll respondents are against the Clean Feed but the government blindly (or should I say determinedly, since the real agenda is to control the population’s ability to dissent, not to give the population what they want) pushes on, the “people”, including businesses, should push back – and if all it takes is _not_ investing time, money and other resources on developing a police-state-enabling technology _for_ the government, then I say do that; and make a loud public statement to say why. You don’t need to go into detailed studies and analysis of cost and effectiveness; you can simply look at the big picture and see that censorship marks the road to tyranny and object purely on ethical and moral grounds.

I may be living in London, but I will be returning home soon enough, and I want to make my voice heard.I don’t want to return to find my beloved internet, freedom of choice and freedom of publishing, chopped off at the knees.

Sincerely,
George Webeck.

London, UK.
PS: With regards to the earlier internet backwater comment, I miss the great ADSL2+ Internode connection I had in Sydney; much faster than most broadband services available here in London; certainly the one I’m using now.

The Beatles, Banksy, graff & light painting 8 January, 2008 at 5:12 am

Today I thought I’d have another crack at getting Neon v2 to work with other video formats again. I’m sure it used to work, but I’ve broken it somehow. Reinstalling Neon didn’t seem to work, so I’ve taken some drastic measures and tried uninstalling as many codecs as I could figure out how to uninstall… which led to uninstalling some other guff I don’t need and trying to clean up the mess. I’ve had this machine for over 2 years now, and haven’t ever done a format, so there’s a lot of shonky crap cluttering up the registry, etc. Not that I suppose the registry isn’t full of crap at the best of times anyway! I’ve been having problems with Firefox lately as well, probably due to a ‘crash’ a week or so ago (let the battery run out whilst lurking near the TV at the back of the house – Firefox apparently has some issues with starting up after not being shut down properly). One thing that bugged me was that it would hang when, for example, attempting to upload photos to Facebook (I think it had something to do with the Java plugin).

Anyways… Firefox uninstalled, codecs uninstalled (ACE Mega CoDecS Pack, recently tried XP Codec Pack, DivX, Xvid, blah), and making a ‘fresh’ start. Firefox is back on its feet, and it seems the Facebook photo loader loads now. Yay! Now what was I going to upload?.. Oh, yeah, maybe a photo with me in it some place from my travels last year. Fire up Picasa and start looking… As per usual, looking at photos very quickly leads to distraction. So many things to look at! I start photos with me in it, which leads to tagging some friends, adding captions, renaming video clips (I try to give them a descriptive name ‘coz clips are harder to quickly browse than stills, besides which I need a name for playing with them later as visuals), etc. I soon come across images shot in Abbey Road, outside the famous Abbey Road recording studios in London. This was probably one of the few touristy things I did during my stay. I don’t have a picture of myself doing the famous crossing (or do I?.. the others were taking pictures, and I might have a copy!), but do have a couple of photos of the others, as well as a Beatles Crossing video on YouTube.

Abbey Road street sign  Number 5 Abbey Road  Beatles’ Crossing, Abbey Road

John Lennon stencil, Abbey Road

Before that I’d spotted a (possible?) Banksy piece, and, having seen something about Banksy on TV in the past few days, decided to tag (ha!) some graffiti shots in Picasa as well. Now is it ‘graf’ or ‘graff’? I supposed it could be either, and had a quick peek to see what comes up in a search for ‘graff’ – of course stuff about Banksy, but also ‘GRAFF‘, a neat little web comic about graffiti.

GRAFF - Illegal

From there I was led on to a couple of other sites, and found a new world of light graffiti… well, a new name for light painting, anyhow. Check out Lichtfaktor on MySpace for some great light painting photos, and the Graffiti Research Lab – these guys have made a projection system that you can use to ‘paint’ on buildings, etc, with a laser pointer. They’ve also done some neat bullet-time type shots with light painting around people. Anyhoo… just spent some time diving back in to the image archive and found the Banksy shots I was looking for. Tagged! Here they be:

Banksy - Rat with Peace bling

Banksy - ATM with robot arm holding girl

Check out this interesting article about Banksy and the Israeli security wall from September 2005. I imagine that’s a fairly scary place to be making political statements – especially as a western foreigner!

By the way… Neon is currently even more ‘broken’ than when I started – now I can’t play the vast majority of the clips I usually use! Something has to be done about this…

-G.

The Terror of the World 6 January, 2008 at 7:29 am

There seems to be a lot of fuss at the moment over US elections. The other night, watching late-night TV, I happened upon an old black and white film about Abe Lincoln’s rise to presidency.

One scene, a political debate with an opponent, Judge Douglas, drew my attention.

(The speech in the film may differ – I’ve lifted the text from Excerpts from the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858)

DOUGLAS: Stand by that great principle, and we can go on as we have done, increasing in wealth, in population, in power, and in all the elements of greatness, until we shall be the admiration and terror of the world. We can go on and enlarge as our population increase, require more room, until we make this continent one ocean-bound republic. Under that principle the United States can perform that great mission, that destiny, which Providence has marked out for us. Under that principle we can receive with entire safety that stream of intelligence which is constantly flowing from the Old World to the New filling up our prairies, clearing our wildernesses and building cities, towns, railroads and general internal improvements, and thus make this the asylum of all the oppressed of the whole earth. We have this great mission to perform, and it can only be performed by adhering faithfully to that principle of self-government on which our institutions were all established. I repeat that the principle is the right of each State, -each Territory, to decide this slavery question for itself, to have slavery or not, as it chooses, and it does not become Mr. Lincoln, or anybody else, to tell the people of Kentucky that they have no consciences, that they are living in a state of iniquity, and that they are cherishing an institution to their bosoms in violation of the law of God.

Become the ‘terror of the world’? I laughed to myself. Not a particularly noble aim, if you ask me.

Unfortunately my reference for the speech doesn’t have Abe’s reply, which pointed out this particular quote and that America did or should not wish to be the terror of the world. Props to you, Mr Lincoln. I’m sorry that it didn’t work out.

-G.