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Tag: internet

Sinde in Plain English

Posted by JenThorpe at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2012

I have heard the Sinde law described as Spain’s version of SOPA. As someone who is bilingual, I have noticed that the information you get about a particular topic that is written in English will often differ from the information about the same topic from websites that are written in Spanish. After reading over several Spanish articles that discuss the Sinde law, I can bring you some facts about it that you may not be aware of.

This law is being called “Sinde” but that is an informal name for it. It is also being called “Sinde-Wert”. It is a portion of a law that translates into English as the “Law of Sustainable Economy”. The Sinde law is included in the second final disposition within that law.

Why is it called “Sinde” or “Sinde-Wert”? The law was first proposed by Ángeles González-Sinde who was the Minister of Culture during the time when José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was the Prime Minister of Spain. The law was later approved by Jose Ignacio Wert who is the Minister of Culture, Education, and Sport at the time this law was passed.

From what I have read, there were a lot of Spanish people who were very much against this law, but it was passed anyway. There have been some protests. Many articles refer to it as a “bad law”.

Sinde is similar to SOPA in many ways. It officially says that it is designed to prevent piracy. In reality, this law gives tools that can be used by the “cultural industry”, (such as the movie companies, the television companies, and the big record labels), to protect things that they have under an American copyright. It gives different departments of the Spanish government the ability to shut down websites that contain something that one of the big companies has claimed is their intellectual property, or that they have a copyright on.

An interesting thing to know about Sinde is that it will affect universities. It seems that, previous to the Sinde law, there was an ongoing issue involving Spanish universities that were distributing books, and other written materials, to students without first getting permission from the authors who wrote them. There are a lot of authors who have been trying to be compensated for the use of their work. They might be able to use the Sinde law to help them get that compensation.

Image: Spain by BigStock

The Internet is a Utility

Posted by Andrew at 7:50 AM on March 11, 2012

Router and CablesLast week, I moved to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP). Nothing particularly unusual about that except that I had been with my old ISP, Demon, for nearly twenty years. That’s almost the whole of the my adult life and I’m sure it’s the longest customer relationship I’ve had. To be quite clear, I didn’t leave Demon as a dissatisfied customer and on the contrary, I would recommend them to anyone. So why did I leave?

To answer that, we’ll have to take a little trip down memory lane. Back in the early 90s, the 486DX2 was the CPU of choice, 8 MB was a lot of RAM, 120 MB hard drives were huge and dial-up modems were specialist items. JANET, the UK’s university network was the closest thing to the Internet, and it was email, ftp, telnet, Usenet and gopher. I imagine that some readers will be thinking, “gopher?” Never heard of that.

In 1992 and in an early example of crowdsourcing, Demon ISP was setup by persuading 200 people to pay in advance for a year’s dial-up access. I wasn’t part of that group but after publicity in the leading UK computer magazine at the time, Personal Computer World, I signed up for their £10 a month dial-up service. You had to buy your own modem in those days – no freebie wireless router – but it came with unlimited email addresses, 10 MB of ftp space and Usenet newsgroups.

Demon provided their own email package called Turnpike as this was all pre-Outlook, and a certain level of skill was needed just to get on-line. The connection software was a command line program called KA9Q that was originally amateur radio software. Winsock fortunately arrived shortly afterwards, which made life considerably easier with Windows 3.

One of the great things about Demon in the early days was that the support staff were technical folk too and quickly got the measure of the caller. If you said to them that you were having problems with DNS resolving, they’d understand that you had a reasonable grasp of the problem and work with you, rather than blindly follow the procedure written in the training manual.

Since then there have been many changes in the world of technology, not least the arrival of ADSL broadband, which single-handedly changed the web from geek toy to consumer product. In the end, two things conspired against Demon. The first was free web email such Gmail and Hotmail which meant that I no longer needed my ISP to provide me with an email address. The second was video-on-demand which had the twin impacts of volume and speed. My new ISP, Sky, offers twice the speed of Demon and no data caps for less money. Bit of a no brainer, as they say.

Demon provided a great technical service for geeks 20 years ago, but as the web has become a consumer product, the need for technical features such as ftp space has faded. All that is needed is the connection. The Internet has become a utility like water, gas and electricity, always there and always ready. No understanding of the technology is needed to use it, just as turning on a light doesn’t need knowledge of volts and amps.

I’ve no doubt that Demon has a successful future working with business but I think that the future of the independent ISP in the consumer space is bleak. People will choose consumer brands linked to utilities or telcos – Sky, BT, Virgin, Orange - and get one bill for multiple services at a reduced price…as I did.

Routers and Cables 2” image courtesy of BigStock.

ARIN Talks IPv6

Posted by Andrew at 2:51 PM on February 19, 2012

World IPv6 LaunchJohn from the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) chats with Jeffrey and John on the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.

In the past year, the last remaining IPv4 addresses were handed out to global regions. Some areas of the world have already run out of unallocated addresses, so it’s essential that in the next few years everyone starts using IPv6. This year, the World IPv6 Launch happens on 6 June 2012, with internet service providers (ISPs), networking equipment manufacturers and web companies permanently enabling IPv6 for their products and services. This is a big step forward in the transition to IPv6 but don’t worry, IPv4 isn’t going away for at least 10 years.

Warning…this interview is for advanced users only.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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Withings Internet Connected Baby Scale

Posted by Andrew at 12:20 AM on January 10, 2012

At CES in Las Vegas, Withings has announced its wireless Internet-connected baby and toddle scale, winner of a 2012 CES Innovations Award. Developed by the French company, the Smart Baby Scale incorporates WiFi, Bluetooth and the low power Bluetooth Smart connectivity and allows parents to accurately record their child’s weight from birth.

Withings Smart Baby Scale

Using the Smart Baby Scale, parents can view the weight readings from any net connected device, such as PC, laptop, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch using the already available WiScale app. Parents can easily pass on their child’s weight profile to their doctor, family and friends and the scale can also update Facebook and Twitter. Messages can be sent to email addresses with new readings and, if desired, parents can put together a scrapbook with notes and photos to create a story of their child’s growth.

Cédric Hutchings, Withings co-founder says, “We are very excited to announce our Smart Baby Scale and offer parents an amazing new way to take care of their newborn or young child. The success of our WiFi Body Scale has proven the benefits of connected weight tracking on adults and we were eager to also bring these benefits to babies and children. We are thrilled that our Smart Baby Scale was awarded the prestigious CES Innovation Award and this further reinforces our vision of designing smart communicating devices that help families take better charge of their health”.

The Smart Baby Scale complements other Withings products such as the adult Withings WiFi body scale and the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor. Parents are able to monitor their child’s weight on the same dashboard they view their own weight and blood pressure. (Hmm, I wonder if parents are as inclined to put their own weight on Facebook!)

No news on pricing but the Smart Baby Scale will be available from Q2 of 2012. The WiScale app is available now for iOS devices from the App Store for free.

Dear Yahoo!: Just Sell it Already.

Posted by J Powers at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2011
Yahoo!

Yahoo!

Dear Yahoo!:

It’s time. Time to make a decision. Time to stop holding onto the past. Time to realize you were on the top of game in 2000, but now it’s 2011. Time to see that Yahoo! is Yahover.

Can you turn the company around as Jerry Yang talked about during AsiaD in Hong Kong? Anything can happen. But you are not willing to put the money in to do that. Investors are weary and you have no leadership.

If I was your business analyst (and that isn’t even my profession), I would tell you what I tell other companies that choose not to sell:

  1. Change your name
  2. Set a new 2-year business plan
  3. Get a CEO that knows Social Media
  4. Re-build your look and feel
  5. Re-build your clientele

Did I just say “Change your name?” YES! When I hear Yahoo! I think of a company that was on top of their game back in 2000. Eleven years later and I don’t associate Yahoo! with today. I associate Google, Microsoft or Facebook. I even have a better chance of associating AOL  with 2011 over Yahoo!

Even the best business person will buy land just for the land. They’ll strike down the building and create a new epicenter. If the roof leaks and the foundation is shaky; if the building takes more energy to keep going, then rebuilding might take less money than repairing.

I wouldn’t fret, though. You really helped shape the Internet. You should be proud of that. Now it’s time to save what’s left of the company and maybe put together a new venture. I hear Microsoft is putting together a bid, among others. It’s not going to be $31 a share as in 2008, but I would guess it will be comparable.

If you are going to keep it, then find someone that can turn this company around. Get a CEO that knows what’s going on in the new media space. Someone that is active in Social Media. Someone that will bring new blood into the company.

Sincerly:
Someone that doesn’t want to hear about this anymore.

XBox Turning into Over the Top TV Solution? XBox Live TV Coming…

Posted by J Powers at 12:42 PM on October 5, 2011
Xbox TV partners

Xbox TV partners

I watch over a lot in the Over the Top Television space. Internet TV, IPTV, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to get watchable content without having a full cable lineup.

Last week, Steve Ballmer announced their TV initiative over XBox Live. Over 40 providers have signed up for this venture, including Comcast, HBO, BBC, Rodgers on Demand (Canada), Televisa (Mexico), and other countries including Germany and Italy (20 in all). Best part, if you already have an XBox 360, you have the hardware to do this.

“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” – Press Release

Add to conventional TV line-up the on-line video providers like Crackle, YouTube, Zune and more. Then there is audio content from Last.fm and iHeartRadio. Finally, Social networks like Twitter and Facebook to round off the service.

The Game System that Became More

Whereas companies like Roku that integrated smaller games like Angry Birds, XBox won’t have that problem. It’s a game system over a TV content distributor. You can play Gears of War, Tweet about it, then watch a video on how to play Gears of War (or another show).

Unified Dashboard in XBox Live

With the unified dashboard (looking similar to the Zune software), you can browse your shows, play the games, work your social networks and more. You will connect to the Comcast Xfinity service to get all that service has to offer.

Getting Rid of the Remote with Kinect

This might be the best part about the XBox TV. By using voice controls and your Kinect, you can gesture to a channel, play, pause and move on. It might get harry if you have more than one person wanting to watch different shows. Still, could you imagine a world without a remote control?

It won’t all be free, though.

Right now, to get HBO Go, you need to have a cable subscription with HBO. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon – especially with channels like HuluPlus. Of course, that is just like many of the OTT systems out there. Pay for a subscription and get the content.

Once again, there could be conflict if you have multiple family members where one wants to play a game and the other wants to watch a movie. So this might not replace a cable box or DVR just yet.

The Xbox Live TV service is expected to come out before the holiday season. The announcement comes before then so you can plan purchasing an XBox 360 or Kinect system for your loved ones to connect up quick. While the OTT solution is more pricey than a Roku or Apple TV, it does do more than just watch video, view pictures or listen to music. It also has some great game titles. It also has a new way to browse through your content.

Anonymous Plans November 5th Facebook Attack – Needs to be Stopped

Posted by J Powers at 10:27 AM on August 10, 2011

The following message showed up on YouTube. I have transcribed:

Attention citizens of the world. We are anonymous. We wish to get your attention hoping you heed the warnings as follows. Your medium of communication that you all so dearly adore will be destroyed. If you are a willing activist, or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information, then join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy. Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so they can spy on people from all around the world.

Some of these so-called “White hot infosec” firms are working for a formatarian governments such as those of Egypt and Seria. Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your “Privacy” settings and deleting your account is impossible – even if you delete your account all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time.

Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more private is even a dilusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family. You cannot hide from the reality in which you – the people of the internet – live in facebook – is the opposite of the anti-sec cause.

You’re not safe from them nor any government.

One day you will look back on this and realize what we have done here is right. Think for a while and prepare for a day that will go down in history.
November 5th 2011. We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us.

Why Nov 5th, 2011?

Guy Fawkes Mask

Guy Fawkes Mask

This is Guy Fawkes Day, which commemorates when Fawkes and others placed explosives under the British House of Lords in 1605. Fawkes is the mask Anonymous wears. Therefore, they chose this date to bring a social network down.

Joke or Reality?

That is tough to say. Anonymous is an established group, so the attempt can be taken a little more serious. Since we don’t know who makes up this group, it makes this harder to determine. For all we know, several of the members used to work for Facebook. Possibly even a programmer that might have created a secure back door to initiate this attack.

Bottom Line: This Needs to be Stopped!

This is a terrorist action and Anonymous should be treated as such. There is a famous term that most of us take to heart – We shall not succumb to terrorist threat. Violence does not beget violence.

If Facebook is doing what Anonymous says, then they need to be prosecuted in a court of law. No one group gets to decide their fate.

What will be next? Google+? Twitter? Your website?

Zero Tollerance – FBI Needs to Get Involved.

Think about it – You take down a giant in Facebook like that and it has a major economic effect. People build business around Facebook and with the site forcefully taken down like that, people can literally lose millions. Bringing in a new financial crisis to an already unstable economy.

We do not know how this organization will bring Facebook down – and that is the most important part. We assume that it’s going to be something like a DDoS or major virus. What if it’s a physical attack on their server farms or offices?

Remember: Guy Fawkes Organization used explosives to take down the British House of Lords.

This is not the way to do it. With these actions, Anonymous might find that they are protecting the one thing they want to bring down. A threat is a threat, whether a joke or not.

Facebook has many protocols in place to prevent such an attack. I would suggest, however, that Facebook change some policy and review their systems just to make sure there is no back door. Then make sure they have security in place on November 5th.

This is never something you should joke about. I hope they take Anonymous down. Period.

The Web Perception Trap

Posted by tomwiles at 12:35 AM on May 8, 2011

We seem to be moving into the age of the apps. Are apps just a passing fad, or is something more substantial afoot?

We have come to think of the Internet itself as being synonymous with the World Wide Web. However, that’s a wrong perception that may have many of us caught in a perception trap making it difficult for us to “get” what is happening.

The Internet itself is a platform on which to run applications, a fact we would do well to remember. In the early days before the Web, there were data moving applications such as Gopher, IRCP, Telnet, etc. along with many others. HTTP just happened to be one of the major protocols that in combination with other protocols gave foundation to the websites we are all now familiar with. The Web itself is not the end of the story, but just a data delivery application.

Though we don’t think of it this way, many websites themselves are really applications.

The apps that seem to be taking over our smartphones and have given rise to tablet computing are more than what they appear to be. Though today the best of these apps seem to be giving concentrated bits and pieces of the full-blown functionality of websites, I believe a larger fundamental trend is going on than we currently realize.

The apps themselves are in the process of evolving into new Internet applications and will ultimately give rise to new services that go beyond computers and browsers. One day in the future, apps may well eclipse the Web as the data delivery applications of choice. Applications follow the form of the devices on which they are executed.

Apps are just now beginning to invade televisions. We are still in the earliest stages, and things are still clunky. Moving beyond the clunky stage, imagine what form these new web-based TV apps might look like in the future. Forget about browsers, and forget about existing web services that run inside them. For example, think in terms of a networked app running just on a connected TV – what could be done with that? Would it be possible to create an app that just delivered a live IPTV network stream (or a bunch of them)? Of course it would, and it would be an advantage over having to scroll through clunky, often near-useless lists and near-worthless descriptions because that’s the way websites running on computers seem to work best.

It could be argued that connected gaming consoles are data delivery apps, delivering specialized services to the end user that go well beyond browser-based or browser-conceived functionality. The Microsoft Kinnect attached to a connected X-Box with end-users using their bodies to interact with the games and ultimately other Kinnect users is moving data back and forth that has nothing to do with the Web.

Ultimately we must begin to think about the Internet as a global data retrieval/delivery system that is independent of computers and browsers. Computers and browsers are just one application of potentially thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions that have yet to be thought of. Therefore, apps must conform to the devices, machines, or appliances they are running on. App designers would do well to forget about computers and browsers and begin thinking outside the computer/browser Web perception trap.

The Master Switch

Posted by tomwiles at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2011

Once in a while, a book comes along that contains ground-breaking insights.  Such is the case with a book I’ve listened to over the past couple of days, the Audible audio book version of ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” by author Tim Wu.

“The Master Switch” is a compelling look into the history of major information industries such as the telegraph, the telephone, commercial broadcast radio, the commercial movie business, and commercial broadcast television. The book points out an identifiable, slowly-repeating cycle obviated by the fact that these industries were able to gain and hold monopoly status. Each in turn became quite adept at retarding disruptive technological innovations that threatened their respective business models.

Today we take an open Internet for granted, but these same and other forces are looking to take over control of the Internet and turn it into a closed, much more tightly-controlled system.

The book is extremely well written and well researched. The Audible audio book narrator Marc Vietor brings the book to life in a wonderful way.

Mr. Wu does a fantastic job of laying out the often-fascinating histories of companies such as Western Union, AT&T, NBC, etc. As consumers, we think we know these companies through their consumer advertising. The real history of these companies is often quite different and very eye opening.

If you enjoy stories about technology and business, you will almost certainly enjoy “The Master Switch” by Tim Wu.

Movies & Documentaries On iOS Devices

Posted by tomwiles at 9:13 PM on February 16, 2011

Since getting the latest version of the 32 gigabyte iPod Touch a couple of months back, one of the uses that has surprised me has been late-night movie-watching after I’ve gone to bed but am not yet drowsy enough to go to sleep. The iPod Touch works extremely well for this task. I am able to pair the iPod to my Sprint HTC Evo’s WiFi hotspot feature and generally get very good Internet connectivity.

By far, Netflix is the best on-demand movie service available. Netflix has the most and best content available. The Netflix app for iPod/iPhone works great. It gives me the most relevant features of the full Netflix service in a tidy little package. So far, I’ve watched dozens of movies right on my iPod.

But are there other iPod/iPhone movie and documentary apps available? It turns out there are, though the quality can vary tremendously. One of them is called “NFB Films” which is an app created by the National Film Board of Canada. You can watch over 1,000 movies, including documentaries, animations and trailers.

Another app is called “Big Star TV.” The app itself is free to install, but if you wish to watch any content, like with Netflix, you have to pay a monthly fee. Big Star’s movies don’t seem to be up to the high quality level of Netflix.

B-Movies is a free app that presents Internet Archive (www.archive.org) films in an organized, easy-to-use format. It should be noted B-Movies is not associated or a part of the Internet Archive. Among other things, the Internet Archive contains an incredibly rich and diverse set of older classic corporate, school and government documentaries.

Apart from these choices of course is YouTube. Certainly YouTube has a tremendous amount of content, but therein lies the rub: there’s so much YouTube content, it makes it difficult for any single app to categorize, let alone try to catalog what’s available. With YouTube it’s best to simply search on a keyword or phrase that interests you and then start surfing.

The promise of the future that was held up when I was a kid has in many ways arrived, but as always there remains a lot of room for improvement.