Category Archives: Uncategorized

House Prevents Crash

Acting swiftly, the House prevented the crash yesterday:
“The House of Representatives is currently experiencing an extraordinarily high amount of e-mail traffic. The Write Your Representative function is therefore intermittently available. While we realize communicating to your Members of Congress is critical, we suggest attempting to do so at a later time, when demand is not so high. System engineers are working to resolve this issue and we appreciate your patience.”

House limits constituent e-mails to prevent crash, By Jordy Yager, The Hill, Posted: 09/30/08 01:16 PM [ET]

Oh, that other crash? They haven’t even figured out whether it’s real or not.


CBC DRM-Free BitTorrent

cbccngpm.jpg The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) leaps ahead:
On March 24th after the broadcast of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister (airs March 23rd at 7 pm on CBC Television) we’ll be the 1st major broadcaster in North America to release a high quality, DRM-free copy of a primetime show using BitTorrent technology. We’ll also be distributing a version you can put in your iPod.

The show will completely free (and legal) for you to download, share & burn to your heart’s desire.

CBC to BitTorrent Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister, CANADA’S NEXT GREAT PRIME MINISTER NEWS, 19 March 2008

The CBC blog post goes on to say CBC has already been using Facebook to promote the show and they even used YouTube to cast it. They even credit BoingBoing for coming up with the idea, only two weeks ago. BoingBoing seems to have gotten it from a similar move by NRK in Norway. And BoingBoing noted CBC’s move the day before CBC announced it.

CBC asked for comments, and got some: Continue reading

7 Percent Solution: How Many Complaints the FCC Enforces

moriarty.gif What would happen if you put Dr. Moriarty in charge of solving Sherlock Holmes’ cases?
The Government and Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that the Federal Communications Commission does nothing with about four out of every five consumer complaints that it puts into a database and investigates. Even worse, the GAO could not discern from its survey of the FCC’s complaint process why the FCC takes no enforcement action with 83 percent of the complaints it looked into from 2003 through 2006. “Without key management tools, FCC may have difficulty assuring Congress and other stakeholders that it is meeting its enforcement mission,” the GAO report warns. That’s putting it mildly. If the FCC does set up some serious net neutrality guidelines for ISPs like Comcast, how can P2P application users and other consumers know that the agency will take their comments seriously?

FCC living in the dark ages; a threat to net neutrality aims, By Matthew Lasar, ars technical, March 16, 2008 – 12:22PM CT

You might get about 7% of them solved, just to make a pretense of credibility.

Indeed, there is an assurance problem. Continue reading

Centralized Back Door in Protect America Act: Fails Do No Harm Test

bellovinblaze.jpg Matt Blaze has been spreading the word about a forthcoming paper by him and a Who’s Who of Internet security experts (Steve Bellovin and Matt Blaze are pictured to the right).
Although the Bush administration calls it a vital weapon against terrorism, its domestic wiretapping effort could become a devastating tool for terrorists if hacked or penetrated from inside, according to a new article by a group of America’s top computer security experts.

Domestic Wiretapping Could Pose ‘An Awesome Risk’ to National Security, By JUSTIN ROOD, ABC News, Feb. 1, 2008—

This is about the act passed last year that the Senate is debating extending or modifying right now. It’s that bad even before the administration strongarms Congress into approving retroactive immunity for the warrantless wiretapping it perhaps legitimizes, thus sweeping a host of illegal activities and other possible misdeeds under the rug.

What’s so bad about the Protect America Act? Continue reading

ABC News Covers Net Neutrality

byline_abcnews.gif Well, not really. ABC News marvels that “tech-savvy Americans,” bless their little hearts, can drive news:
Newspapers and magazines won’t be the only media outlets endorsing presidential candidates this election cycle.

Popular tech blog TechCrunch will make its own picks for president, giving its opinionated readership a voice on policy issues close to tech-savvy Americans’ hearts.

Starting today, TechCrunch, which is read by more than 400,000 people monthly according to Nielsen/NetRatings, will allow readers to vote on its site for a Republican and a Democratic presidential candidate based on the candidate’s stance on issues such as net neutrality and ID theft.

Tech Blog to Endorse Presidential Candidates, TechCrunch Gets ’08 Contenders to Come Clean on Net Neutrality, ID Theft (HTML head title: ABC News: Which ’08 Candidate Will Get the Tech Vote?) By ASHLEY PHILLIPS ABC News, Dec. 19, 2007

A circulation of 400,000 puts TechCrunch in the range of big-league newspapers; there are only 27 in the U.S. with larger circulation. And that’s what the story is really about: Continue reading

GAO: FCC Leaking to Lobbyists

rccc3mo.png Could this have anything to do with RCCC stock going up just before the FCC 700Mhz auction decision?
From giant phone companies to small consumer advocates, the Federal Communications Commission is supposed to treat every group equally. But congressional investigators have found some companies and trade groups have received special treatment.

FCC officials tipped them off to confidential information about when regulators planned to vote on important issues — a clear violation of agency rules that provided an unfair lobbying advantage, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office released today. Other interested parties — generally consumer and public-interest groups — did not get such favorable treatment, the report said.

“It is critical that FCC maintain an environment in which all stakeholders have an equal opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process and that the process is perceived as fair and transparent,” the report said. “Situations where some, but not all, stakeholders know what FCC is considering for an upcoming vote undermine the fairness and transparency of the process and constitute a violation of FCC’s rules.”

FCC accused of unfairly aiding some firms, Some groups or companies got inside information on crucial votes, investigators say. By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times, 9:30 AM PDT, October 3, 2007

It does seem to go beyond just mergers plus bad regulation into illegal leaks. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission remains the only major agency or department that does not announce new materials via RSS, and the only notice the public has of a 2 November hearing is rumors. Why do they prefer back channels to transparency?


Japan Beating U.S. At Own Game: Faster, Cheaper Fiber

1003-biz-BROADBANDweb.gif Japanese Internet connections are not only faster, but far cheaper per unit speed than in the U.S.:
The United States may be the world’s largest economy, but when it comes to Internet connections at home, many Americans still live in the slow lane. By contrast, Japan is a broadband paradise with the fastest and cheapest Internet connections in the world.

Unlike U.S., Japanese Push Fiber Over Profit, Ayumi Nakanishi, The New York Times, 5 Oct 2007

The NYTimes article goes on to discuss how Japanese companies will go for longterm improvement while U.S. companies go for short-term profit.

What it doesn’t say is that this can be used as an argument for why certain areas of the economy need to be regulated. Communications infrastructure by its nature affects the whole society and uses scarce local connection resources, and thus needs some forms of regulations, much like shipping ports. The market economy itself could not exist without certain forms of regulation. Yet we don’t hear of Wall Street wanting to do away with property rights, contract law, or even stock exchange oversight. Why would Wall Street want to shoot itself in the foot by doing away with the regulatory infrastructure that would permit U.S. telecommunications to be competitive in a global market? Continue reading

Redesigning the Internet: Ports and Society

Spheres_01_3h.jpg I’d heard about the NSF’s Future Internet Design (FIND) project, but hadn’t really paid attention to it. There was a panel at TPRC, with Dave Clark and other participants. My thoughts here are perhaps in some way derived from what somebody said, but no panel participants should be held responsible for what I write here.

Many interesting issues include what do do about firewalls: redesign to upgrade them or to eliminate the need for them?

How could you eliminate the need for firewalls? Well, they filter by ports, and they need to do that because well-known ports are the way Internet clients traditionally find servers. That’s sort of a historical accident. The MIT CHAOSNet protocols did not have well-known ports. Xerox’s network protocols used random numbers for rendezvous.

But if a firewall can’t filter on ports, haven’t you made it worse? Continue reading

Indecent Reaction

20061221cher.jpg I don’t usually post in the middle of the night, but this one is too amusing, or appalling, or something:
Today, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the use of the words “fuck” and “shit” by Cher and Nicole Richie was not indecent.

I completely disagree with the Court’s ruling and am disappointed for American families. I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that “shit” and “fuck” are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience.

The court even says the Commission is “divorced from reality.” It is the New York court, not the Commission, that is divorced from reality in concluding that the word “fuck” does not invoke a sexual connotation.


When I first read this, I thought it was in the Onion, or that Jonathan Rintels, on whose blog I found it linked, was having a little joke. Continue reading