2017-06-25 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

A long overdue episode on Internet exceptionalism and radical acceptance.

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.

2016-01-16 The Command Line Podcast

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

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.

2015-10-24 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

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 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.

Piracy Bill Clears Committee

Yesterday, while I was otherwise out of pocket, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of COICA. This is the bill that will grant the DoJ the power to take force alleged pirate sites out of the DNS system, effectively making them inaccessible. Past versions of the bill included a secret black list, a hallmark of typical online censorship regimes. I linked to EFF’s very well stated arguments against the bill the day before yesterday.

Govtrack.us doesn’t yet have this latest draft, still linking to the September 20th draft, the first of three so far. I received a link on one of my private mailing lists to the current draft posted on the Judiciary committee’s site. The wording around publication of the black list is unchanged, in section 2(f). The IP Enforcement Coordinator may publish block domains but is not required. This is an incredibly weakening compared to the original draft that required the list to be published. This is a glaring alteration as there are many remaining, unchanged bits requiring the IPEC and the AG to publish information on procedures.

The other big change in this draft, confirmed on reading it for myself, is a language about advertisers and payment processors not doing business with blocked sites, in section 2(d)(5)(B). This block is labeled voluntary actions and is a bit inscrutable. If I understand it right, these service providers are not required to stop working with targeted sites but cannot be held liable if they do so.

There is no date yet on when a vote will be conducted on the floor of the Senate, though that is the next step. The bill still has a long way to go and hopefully public pressure will weaken it if not outright kill it.

Even if this law is narrowed considerably, it is still a huge problem. The ridiculously upper limit on statutory damages that has been repeatedly exercised hasn’t affected copyright infringement. Countries implementing Internet disconnection have merely see a shift of where file trading takes place. Even if blacklisting domain names wasn’t uncomfortably close to the common approach to online censorship and rife with potential for abuse, it is merely the next desperate cranking of the copyright maximalist’s ratchet. If COICA passes, regardless of form, it won’t change anything. When it fails, what will Big Content ask for next? That’s the real problem if this becomes law, that question of what is next.

feeds | grep links > Stop the Mathness, Efficient Spintronics, New Book on Net Policy and Innovation, and More

Still recovering from jet lag and flight + commute from hell this morning. At least the post is back to my usual window for blogging. Hopefully my batteries will be recharged enough tomorrow to drag forth some useful commentary along with the days links.

Oh, and the sky just turned ominous as I prepare to post this.  Making use of the electromo juice while it holds out in the face of nature’s unremitting hatred of our electrical grid.

Risks of Being an iPad Eloi

I have had more dissatisfying debates about the closed nature of the iPad recently. It has fueled an uncomfortable metaphor in my mind about the polarization this discussion is inspiring. More on that below.

The sticking point usually is that fans strongly equate the controlled, closed nature of the device as necessary for its ease of use and polished experience. I reject this as a false dichotomy, the fact that open systems are less polished is more historical accident or the result of more selfish priorities amongst open source developers. It is accidental, not essential. It is, however, overwhelming and unfortunate coincidence that the distribution of real world examples seems to support the Apple fan’s contention.

Just today I got into a brief discussion with Glyn Moody on Twitter dissecting a similar contention, that the iPad’s closed nature yields better security. Glyn is trying to hold a more open minded position for which I admire him but for myself it is a position on which I am gradually giving up. In my first hand discussions of the iPad with its fans I keep failing to get them past the closed = usable point. Thankfully, Glyn proved more receptive to my criticisms of the closed = secure argument. On the balance, I am not trying to get fans to abandon the device but to be more open to critical thought about it.

To be fair, he is generally skeptical and sent me a link to his H-Online article dissecting some concerns I had not considered. My own frustration in arguing the risks has led me to thinking of fans as the Eloi from Wells’ “Time Machine”–childlike people of wonder and sunlight who easily lose interest in any thought too involved or troubling. I will admit this is uncharitable but it is equally damning to my own position as by implication that makes me a Morlock–dark dwelling beasts who retain artifice but are dependent on the Eloi in the most grisly way imaginable. I haven’t been able to relate this to any practical point, though. Sharing it, as captivated as I am by the imagery, seemed counter productive.

In a less figuratively disturbing way, Glyn has furnished me with some risks that make my image a bit more relatable, as inflammatory as it may be otherwise. In that article, he highlights the very real risk of appliances like the iPad make the technology policy debates that he and I both follow very closely a lot more difficult. The hermetically sealed experience of the iPad risks insulating its users away from any sense of the stakes involved with very real risks, like the recently passed Digital Economy Bill.

Please read his thoughts. I promise that even though he presents an excellent point for the skeptic side, he concedes that those of us who make open systems haven’t done the best job providing more compelling rebuttals to the closed = usable contention. If you are on twitter, you can read my last message in my exchange with Glyn and follow it backwards (I wish he had replied on Identi.ca since it has that beautiful in context feature Twitter desperately lacks–hm, more usable open source software.) We pick apart the related false dichotomy that may prove to present similar risks if the market realities make the iPhone OS an attract enough target for attackers.