February 26, 2008
How Pakistan knocked YouTube offline
A high-profile incident this weekend in which Pakistan's state-owned telecommunications company managed to cut YouTube off the global Web highlights a long-standing security weakness in the way the Internet is managed.
After receiving a censorship order from the telecommunications ministry directing that YouTube.com be blocked, Pakistan Telecom went even further. By accident or design, the company broadcast instructions worldwide claiming to be the legitimate destination for anyone trying to reach YouTube's range of Internet addresses.
Oh goody. Now Pakistan decides it must dictate what the rest of us see on the net. Why? Oh yeah, apparently youtube had a video up promoting a new movie...
Some reports have said the video featured several minutes of a film made by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an outspoken critic of Islam.
That's their story and they're sticking to it. There couldn't possibly be any other reason could there? Heavens no.
Apparently youtube decided that the video had to come down. After all, google wouldn't want to offend any poor Pakistanis or even those poor Muslims who are so deeply deeply offended that they need for this to be removed instead of simply not watching it. (only Christians and Americans are told to suck it up and ignore offensive material).
YouTube has removed a video clip that offended some of Pakistan's Muslims, and the government there has lifted a nationwide ban against the video-sharing site.
Just imagine if the United States had pulled a stunt like that - or better yet the Vatican. What would have been google's response?
Can you see the headlines now... the "intolerance" the "Nazi-ism" the "jack-booted thug" references would be flying like mad. Headlines in print and on television would be bombarding us 24/7. Many liberals would have to take extra Valium to control the hyperventilation this would cause. Code Pink would have to do a major blockade of Washington, trying to frighten the government with their lurid pink outfits with wrinkled faces contorted in fury at the outrage.
Have you seen a single headline in a major newspaper condemning Pakistan's move? Did you even know it happened? What about the outcry of censorship? Who is picketing the Pakistan Embassy?
Next time some idiot wants to argue about how terribly intolerant we Americans are... my question would be...
"In comparison to what?"
February 18, 2008
Why Linux Doesn't Spread - the Curse of Being Free
According to the author, the reason is simple; Linux is free, and humans tend not to equate free things with being valuable.
You know, you just have to shake your head sometimes. Whenever you get a subset of people and all they do is talk to each other - eventually they completely lose track of what is going on out in the "real world" - that being the major population who doesn't follow your little specialty, may not have even heard of it. And... could CARE LESS.
As I read the blog post they linked there were such gems as:
Ignore for a moment all the crap about Windows being pre-installed and such. Let's say you have a computer-newbie friend, called Compy McNewb, who's just bought a new computer and is getting ready to install an OS.
He's got two computer-savvy friends. You, who urges him to use Linux. And another friend, who urges him to use Windows.
I'm sorry, but right there he loses the argument without any further ado. I wonder when he last talked to regular everyday people? They don't install an OS... they buy a computer with an OS on it already. Period! These are the people who boot the thing, get online, get email, read some websites, maybe play with photoshop, then shut down and go watch television. You can't just ignore all the crap about an OS being pre-installed. That IS the issue.
If you ask THEM, the people buying the computers with a pre-installed OS, let me tell you what you'll hear... "Operating System? Uh, what's that? Is it on my computer?" These are people who think the difference between an Mac and a PC is only who makes it, not the OS in the background. They know you can run some stuff on a Mac and not a PC and vice versa - but they don't have any idea why that is except that one is made by Apple the other isn't.
I can't tell you how often I've asked "Which OS are you running? Is it Windows XP?" Only to get the reply, "Uh, I don't know, how can I tell that?"
Not only do they not know what an Operating System is, they could care less which one is on the machine they use as long as the machine does what they want it to do. Does it run my Word program? Does it run my photo program? Can I get online and do my banking?
That's what these users care about. They have no idea HOW the system works and they DO NOT CARE. Not only that - they never will care.
Until Linux is distributed as an OS on home computers, able to run regular applications that people use daily without them having to think too much about how to make it work - it will continue to be a third tier OS. Any geeks who think differently need to get out of their basements for a while and into the daylight.
February 12, 2008
Adobe recommends Adobe Reader 7 and 8 users update to Adobe Reader 8.1.2, available here:
That is all.
February 08, 2008
If you have it or contemplate getting it - this article at Slashdot is well worth a read!
From menus to IPv6 (the type of internet addressing used) - these are things you need to know about Vista to make your life somewhat easier.
It turns out the Facebook issue was not really Microsoft's fault -- www.facebook.com had a broken IPv6 record, and Vista defaults to using IPv6 where XP used IPv4, so that's why the host wasn't working. (In case you run into this with any other Web sites on Vista, I fixed the problem by disabling IPv6 in network settings and rebooting.)
There's no way around it - Vista is a learning curve. Most people who are used to a certain way of doing things are going to HATE this with a passion. Others will be annoyed and simply deal with it. Still others will wonder what all the fuss is about (most of these will be new users who aren't locked into a pattern of doing things).
Read the article - remember these things and it will make your life easier.
BTW - I know there are Macs out there and also Linux - this is for people who will not be changing to a new OS provider no matter what.
February 02, 2008
How one clumsy ship cut off the web for 75 million people
A flotilla of ships may have been dispatched to reinstate the broken submarine cable that has left the Middle East and India struggling to communicate with the rest of the world, but it took just one vessel to inflict the damage that brought down the internet for millions.The internet or I should say ARPANET as it was originally called, was created to be a robust system able to weather bad connections and old equipment. Rumor had it (and apparently it was just a rumor), the military wanted a network that could withstand a nuclear attack - a huge worry back in the late 1950's and early 60's.
According to reports, the internet blackout, which has left 75 million people with only limited access, was caused by a ship that tried to moor off the coast of Egypt in bad weather on Wednesday. Since then phone and internet traffic has been severely reduced across a huge swath of the region, slashed by as much as 70% in countries including India, Egypt and Dubai.
The ARPANET was designed to survive network losses, but the main reason was actually that the switching nodes and network links were not highly reliable, even without any nuclear attacks.
For the most part it is a very robust system. In other words, when a "backbone" is either disabled or goes away completely within the US, there is a slowdown, but the general public is mostly unaware because service continues through other routes.
In this case, the main connection to the rest of the world has been cut off to the middle east. It has caused a severe disruption because the alternatives don't carry enough bandwidth to accommodate what has been lost.
Will there be an outcry for action? This incident shows how easily one part of the world can be isolated by a single incident. Those interested in disaster preparedness should be taking action now to make their case that this is not acceptable.
The bigger question is, how can the current state of affairs be changed? Who pays and how much? It's an interesting dilemma. I have a feeling it will fade away in a week or so once connections are fully restored. It shouldn't.
UPDATE: Via Slashdot - here is a map of the undersea internet connections around the world.
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