2015-12-19 The Command Line Podcast

old-newspaper-350376_1280This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I will be attending SCALE in the latter half of next month if anyone else planning to be there wants to meet up.

I am also thinking about attending this year’s LibrePlanet, in March. Please consider donating to their scholarship fund to help attendees who might not otherwise be able to go to join the event and learn more about Free Software and the community that uses and supports it.

This time, I chat about some recent news stories that caught my attention, including:

You can subscribe to a feed of articles I am reading for more. You can follow my random podcast items on HuffDuffer too.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

EFF Supports Tor with a Relay Challenge, Legal FAQ

EFF has just announced a challenge, asking all comers to consider setting up a relay for the anonymizing Tor network. Tor stands for The Onion Router referring to the layers of encryption added with each routing hop. Relays are critical to increase the capacity of the network overall as they are the nodes doing the encrypting and routing heavy lifting. Traditionally clients have far outstripped relays yielding a less than optimal experience when making use of Tor.

There is far more information at the challenge page, including both instructions and most critically a legal FAQ. If you are going to run a relay, whether or not you will do so as an exit relay, you need to be aware of the legal issues inherent in doing so. The FAQ is a good resource to that end and even links to a list of ISPs that are known tolerant of and prohibiting Tor relays around the world.

Tor Challenge, EFF

feeds | grep links > Schmidt Steps in It Again, Acting Against Broadening of the CFAA, Automate News Site Digg is Gamed, and More

The Pirate Party Launches an ISP

I lamented the disbanding of the Piratbyrån, fearing that without that group there would be a lack of hands on, constructive projects to test concerns with copyright. Judging by its recent actions, the original Pirate Party in Sweden is clearly stepping into this gap. Over the past few months, the party has repeatedly stepped into to support the beleaguered Pirate Bay site, a searchable directory of BitTorrent files. Most notoriously the party started hosting the site out of the Swedish Parliament, taking advantage of the immunity doing so conveys.

Their latest effort continues in this vein. As enigmax at TorrentFreak explains, the idea behind launching the Pirate ISP is to not only provide an ISP with an iron clad commitment to privacy and protecting users’ rights but to compete with existing ISPs on these very ideals. ViaEuropa, the company behind the anonymizing VPN service, iPredator, will operate the ISP. It will start small and grow slowly but with a plan to build presence throughout Sweden. It is the idea of having points of presence in multiple Swedish markets that lends credibility to the ISP as a competitive concern, not just a novelty.

Beyond refusing to give up customer information and keeping no logs whatsoever, the new ISP is set up as a lightning rod for escalating issues to constitutional debate. That provocative stance even extends to international challenges.

Nipe was also clear on how Pirate ISP would respond to outside interference, in particular that from the United States.

“They can bring on whatever they have, we will refuse to follow there. We don’t agree with what they are saying and we don’t agree with the laws they are making so if they have an issue with us, then we will have an issue – but that’s it.”

Read the rest of enigmax’s article, it is full of quotes explaining how the ISP is already prepared for the usual threats. I wish them luck and look forward to their success an all fronts, both as a valuable service I wish I could use here in the US and as a prod to upset the status quo when it comes to the interaction of copyright and digital technologies.

feeds | grep links > PHP on Android, Shoring Up 4th Amendment Protection of Email, and More

feeds | grep links > Charging ISPs for Piracy, Insights on Room Temperature Super-Conductors, CouchDB on Android and More

  • UK royalty group wants ISPs to pay for pirating customers
    Via Slashdot. Superficially, this isn’t too different from a statutory license but on further reading that breaks down. Mandatory licenses are usually flat rate, generating supplemental revenue to existing media as a manageable tax on emerging media. The reasoning here is different, it is meant to scale with the volume of unlicensed music flowing throw ISPs’ networks. The lack of consideration for legitimate online sales also being bolstered by improved access to broadband is concerning yet very typical.
  • New insights that may lead to room temperature super conductors
    As The Register explains, copper-oxide super conductors enter a pseudo-gap phase when warming up, the main quality of which is that they stop conducting with zero resistance. It turns out that there is more if interest in this phase of the material than simply a roadblock to super conductivity that doesn’t require massive cooling. The new insights could lead to new materials or adjusting existing ones to finally achieve zero resistance at practical temperatures. For computing, such super conductors could crack Gordon Moore’s other observation, about power/thermal load that didn’t pan out as well as his famous prediction on doubling transistor density every eighteen months.
  • CouchDB on Android
    Via Hacker News. The project just reached its 1.0 milestone for the regular release. The Android version is still a very early developer preview. It is a good example of the increased choice that Android offers mobile developers. And they don’t have to wait around for Google to provide them with more tools and options, there is nothing stopping a database maker or a toolkit author or anyone else from porting something useful not just to end users but to other developers.
  • Black Hat talk on Chinese cyber army pulled
    Slashdot has the story, one that seems to repeat every year at one or more hacker conferences in some form or another. The pulling of talks is so expected at this point, I’d suggest it would be more surprising if at least one such story didn’t crop up in a given year. In this instance, the presenters are from a company with R&D operations in Taiwan explaining their concern about possible pressure from the Chinese government.
  • New Chinese rule will require real names online
  • David Lynch looking at crowd funding his next movie
  • Brewing conflict between WordPress and proprietary theme developer
    HT Glyn Moody on Identi.ca.
  • More on the recent developments with the WordPress, Thesis license conflict

feeds | grep links > ESRB Exposes Emails of Blizzard Critics, The Size of the Orphan Works Problem, and Vimeo Adds CC Licenses

  • ESRB exposes emails of those who complained about Blizzard’s Real ID
    The exposure, according to Slashdot, happened when some nine hundred plus emails were included in a response. Ars Technica has some more details about the complaints lodged by gamers not happy with Blizzard potentially unveiling them on their forums and the board’s response to those complaints.
  • How big of an issue exactly are orphan works?
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt does an excellent job of quickly explaining the crux of orphan works, even touching on how it was a problem of our legislature’s own making. Despite wide spread support from all sides for some sort of a solution, there apparently is some question of the scale of the problem with critics dismissing it as rare. Mike points to a report that just looked at the number of orphan works in Europe alone and the findings are staggering.
  • Vimeo adds Creative Commons license options
    Via Ars Technica.

feeds | grep links > Ubuntu on a NexusOne, Google’s New System for Infringing Music, Possibilities for Scalable Quantum Computers, and More

  • Installing Ubuntu on a Nexus One
    Make has a video of the installation process from NexusOneHacks.net, document and demonstrated over the long weekend. It isn’t that much of a stretch as Android, the phone’s default OS, already uses a Linux kernel, just an entirely different stack on top of it. Mm, I could definitely see Ubuntu’s forthcoming Unity interface for netbooks running well on a smartphone.
  • Google’s potential new system for avoiding takedowns for infringing music copyrights
    According to Slashdot, the novel aspect of this patent application isn’t identifying potentially infringing music in YouTube videos, but a set of actions from which an uploader may be able to choose: remove the video, swap the soundtrack for something approved, or to mute the video. As the post notes, there is no allowance for use with permissions. Once again, there is also no room for no action, relying on fair use. If implemented, this rely isn’t much better than the filtering system in place now.
  • New fabrication technique could lead to scalable quantum computers
    The key, as Technology Review explains, is inducing nitrogen vacancies within a diamond crystal. The vacancies can be made to luminesce so the implication is they could be used to stored and emit photons, which have been used in other quantum computing rigs. The research hasn’t advanced that far, it really is more about the fabrication technique but the potential is fascinating.
  • Blizzard to require real names to post on its forums

BitCoin, Open Source P2P Digital Cash

Like a lot of crypto nuts, when I was younger, I was very interested in electronic cash. I haven’t really followed in recent years and wasn’t even sure if such systems were still under active development. It turns out that they are in fact.

I saw this post at the P2P Foundation announcing that BitCoin, a distributed electronic cash system, is now in public beta. They’ve set a cap on the total number of coins they will release into circulation and are using the contributed CPU cycles for participants as a gauge to help in the initial distribution of the currency. There is a white paper with more detail for the curious.

The software needed is currently available for Windows and Linux. The Linux version even comes with a pre-built binary but I’m going to have to dig into the documents to figure out how to partake in the offer of coins for cycles. The P2P Foundation article points to several exchanges where BitCoins can be converted to other currencies making it an interesting option sending and receiving consideration online that doesn’t carry the usual hefty transaction costs of the current, popular but non-anonymous micropayment services.

Israel’s Supreme Court Protects Online Anonymity

Slashdot links to the story but uses some potentially misleading absolutes in their summary. Reading through the story, the veil of anonymity can still be pierced but only when a cause of action is proven and that anonymity is being used to avoid liability.

Still, this is a pretty clear endorsement of anonymous free speech online and good cause for celebration for those protected by the ruling. I would dearly love to see judges elsewhere undertake this same sort of push back, requiring that legislators enact john doe processes rather than having to deal with the the propped up and conflicting standards for the same that has emerged out of case law. Sadly, I think that ship has sailed for places like here, in the US.