Link Latte #14 – Software Issue

Basically deep down inside, I’m only interested in things I can eat, fight or shag – so although I am actually a programmer myself (and spend most of my time sitting in the corner, praying no one will try to talk to me), the Software-Issue won’t be this massive saga that these things usually are.

Still – a whole bunch of stuff has happened that is worthy of comment.

1) Tribler

A decentralised BitTorrent client from Holland by the looks. I think this is interesting because:

a) It comes from Holland.

b) It has been “awarded millions of euros in funding from the European Union”. Really? Cool… but I didn’t think creating MAFIAA proof file-sharing systems was what the EU was about really.

c) File-Sharing systems always seem to have that rabbit movie as a demo

Even though we all know that the killer-app of these systems is bypassing the hopelessly in need of reform copyright laws. The only people who come close to detailing how these laws need to be reformed is (need we say it) The Pirate Party.

We will give the public the following new rights:

The right to share files provided no money changes hands.
The right to format shift and time shift data.
The right of access to government funded data.
The right to compensation for government data loss.
The right to safely encrypt private data.
The right to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been broken.
The right for constituents to force a by-election.
The right to pay only for the fraction of the claimed broadband speed that an ISP actually delivers.
The right to be a whistleblower.
The right for photographers and filmmakers to go about their business without persecution under anti-terror laws.
The right for disabled people to demand an unrestricted version of DRM protected content where that is necessary to allow them to access it.

We will reform outdated laws:

We will abolish drug patents, replacing them with subsidies.
We will reduce the length of copyright to 10 years.
We will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research.
We will introduce system of compulsory patent licensing
We will reform libel law.
We will prohibit the abuse of RIPA powers.
We will remove loopholes in copyright and patent law.

We will protect the public from abuses of new technology:

We will forbid third parties from intercepting or monitoring communication traffic
We will introduce a mandatory warning label on products that include DRM.
We will introduce laws on the acceptable use of CCTV and DNA samples.
We will legislate in favour of net neutrality.
We will introduce stronger data protection laws
We will not allow government censorship of the internet
We will put into action the government’s Open Source Action Plan.
We will require the BBC to release all their content under a Creative Commons licence.
We will prevent the BBC from using DRM technology.
We will ensure better computing education in schools.

These I think provide a bench-mark for what is acceptable in terms of digital rights.

Back to Tribler – this is a step towards the holy grail of completely decentralised, encrypted file-sharing. These things also (alas) require critical-mass… so they only really become useful if a lot of people are using them.

2) The Pirate Bay, one year later


The legal process is still appears to be rumbling on – the operators of The Pirate Bay having been found guilty… but the site is still operating, and (probably as a result of the publicity, and sympathy for the pirate-bay guys generally), the number of users has gone from 1 million to 5 million.

The technology has now moved on, so they no longer need to operate as a tracker, and is instead using different protocols. There is also a project called iPredator which offers an encrypted internet service for a monthly fee – I’m not sure how popular monthly fees will be – but I’d almost be inclined to adopt it just to tell the Evil Empire to fuck off and die.

Anyway – the rapidly changing nature of the web in the face of the hopelessly slow and unfit for purpose law-making process is why that cunt Peter Mandelson attempted (and succeeded?) in granting himself the power to make up laws on the fly. Please, someone rid me of this turbulent priest.

3) Hitler

So many people have commented on the humourless, anally retentive and ultimately futile attempt by the “owners” of that Hitler movie to censor youtube parodies of it, that people are so sick of it, they never want to hear about it ever again.

Pretty much the only reason most people had heard of (and subsequently seen) this movie was because of these parodies, and the director himself said he found them funny and that they were a fitting extension to the films purpose… which was a type of dethroning.

Needless to say, a parody about this censorship was instantly uploaded and various sites offered instructions on how to get around the censorship.

Still – there you go. Try to censor the internet and it bites back.

4) Facebook did something or other.

Clay Shirky said that Facebook is attempting to eat the entire internet
Umair Haque said that it’s not trying to be Pagerank, it’s trying to be Digg.

The upshot appears to be a further erosion of Facebook’s already egregious regard for privacy – allowing developers to pull facebook data into their own apps, if they get users to login in using Facebook/Oauth. Facebook has 400,000,000 users. It will be hard to resist.

Still, in previous posts (2 of them) I went on about a “holy crap moment, courtesy of Google”… one was about Wave, the other… can’t remember – but they didn’t amount to much, and everybody thought they’d change the world…

… and facebook is the AOL of social apps… it is (at its core) evil. So who knows.

It’s also fundamentally dangerous and unstable having that amount of “information” going through a single company – it’s funny… the web who’s strength is (by design) based on decentralised configurations, has led to some of the biggest examples of centralisation in human history.

5) erm… that’s it. There was another thing, but danged if I can remember it now.

Still, never mind. Here’s a delta robot picking-and-placing things onto a randomly moving target

I really think that this is the future of reprappery – rather than cartesian table-based things.