Friday Jan 29, 2010

☞ Why H.264 Must Be Avoided

Tuesday Jan 26, 2010

☞ Endings

Monday Jan 25, 2010

☞ Access To The Party

  • Excellent start to an explanation of Mozilla's position on H.264 and patent-encumbered CODECs. Still plenty of remaining questions, which will hopefully be addressed in part two of this explanation. Personally I think Mozilla is picking the right path and I hope we'll see Google (owner of YouTube) backing them in their promotion of technologies anyone in any country can use freely (rather than H.264 which is deviously chained to corporate profit).
  • Tim Bray joins the growing number of writers dangerously circling in politically-correct shark-infested waters looking for the core truth explaining the low numbers of women in the technology industry. Personally I think we make a mistake to look just at gender for an explanation. I think there are plenty of men put off the technology industry too, for the same reasons as many women.
  • Great feature on Neil Gaiman in the New Yorker.
  • Details (in Portuguese) of the event I'm attending in Brazil this week.

Sunday Jan 24, 2010

☞ Making A Stand

  • The issue at stake here is what some call "common-carrier status" for networks. Regardless of the excuse - be it China's hatred of protest, Italy's hatred of pædophiles or the USA's hatred of music lovers - governments should be protecting it. Once the principle has been breached, it is a slippery slope to a corporate-controlled society, whether the corporation is question is the state, the RIAA or, indeed, Google or Microsoft.
  • Tone-deaf editorial by the Chinese government coruscates Clinton & Google while actually casting light on the paranoia that makes China censor its citizens and force them to live by rumour.
  • If you were still in any doubt about it, this interview should prove that RMS does not live in your world. To go beyond the interview, a comment elsewhere points out he does not use web browsers; rather, he e-mails web URLs to a server that sends back the text for him to read in EMACS. Amazingly and inspiringly consistent philosophy and values over time, yes, but increasingly disjoint from the reality the rest of us have to navigate.

Saturday Jan 23, 2010

☞ Protecting Freedom

  • Schneier points out that the feature China hacked in GMail was only there because the US government demanded it "for security", and that building trapdoors for use by spooks is an invitation for bad guys to hack them. They are another example of why security through obscurity is an anti-pattern.

    Another question this raises is whether Google's position is truly defensible. They say they will only obey Chinese law if the Chinese government does too. Does the same apply to other governments? What about US government use of the same trapdoor?

    To criticise here is not to defend China's execrable record on human rights. Rather, it is to note that China defends itself internationally by saying it is just doing publicly what other governments do secretly (while overlooking the fact its own use is usually tyrannous). Once again that defense is theirs.
  • Excellent explanation of why Firefox has no H.264 support and why it won't be getting any. This is exactly the right position to be taking and I think it's a crying shame that major traffic drivers like YouTube aren't taking the same approach. [Is there also some rule that demands that the better the article, the more stupid the comments?]

Wednesday Jan 20, 2010


The news is in that the EU has finally approved Oracle's purchase of Sun, and while there are some more hurdles to cross I think James' response is very fitting so I'll reproduce it here too.

I doubt there will be an official wake given what happened when James tried to arrange one before, so we'll need to have drinks ourselves.

Tuesday Jan 12, 2010

☞ Clear Thinking

  • Google doubtless understands that the Chinese government don't respond well to public statements like this. I expect them to get far less diplomatic, directly-rude responses in fact. But after attempting to do things China's way, it's hard to see what response they could take to the betrayal of the trust they had placed in the Chinese government by toeing their line for three years. Google's business will increasingly depend on being globally trusted and this sort of political behaviour is a business necessity for them. It also challenges their competitors to make a stand that looks equally principled. Sadly, I expect most of them to be in Chinese government offices right now offering to fill the gap Google will leave. To understand why, Google "webmink reptiles".
  • More intensely sensible comment from Schneier. We need to refuse to be terrorised, which means refusing to tolerate security theatre that responds to it by propogating it. To the readers who only read my comments and not the articles; go on, read this one before you accuse me of stuff for a change!
  • Sensible comment on travel security from The Independent's travel guy: "We need a "Groucho" approach to airline security. To paraphrase Groucho Marx's attitude to clubs, I'd prefer not to join a flight that unquestioningly accepts dodgy characters like me on board."

Sunday Jan 10, 2010

☞ Attention-Grabbing

Thursday Jan 07, 2010

☞ Dealing With The Real Issue

  • Show this to every politician: "What we need is security that's effective even if we can't guess the next plot: intelligence, investigation and emergency response. ... The real security failure on Christmas Day was in our reaction. We're reacting out of fear, wasting money on the story rather than securing ourselves against the threat. Abdulmutallab succeeded in causing terror even though his attack failed. If we refuse to be terrorized, if we refuse to implement security theater and remember that we can never completely eliminate the risk of terrorism, then the terrorists fail even if their attacks succeed."
  • While it's great to see Microsoft finally joining the SVG WG after all these years, let's not forget (as this article does) that they were involved at the beginning and it was their unforgivable NIH attitude in rejecting the decision of the WG not to use Microsoft's contribution that has kept vector graphics from being a web technology for a decade. Imagine what could have evolved by now had they not listened to their greed and control-lust and instead worked with everyone to perfect web vector graphics. Even still I can't help myself wondering if they have joined the WG to snuff it out by over-activity.
  • Given the news that Google is avoiding paying almost all the taxes it should on UK advertising revenue through an offshoring loophole, a specific tax on portals-that-advertise may well be the only way to get the tax that's due in today's global economy.
  • It may be satirical humour but it makes a crucially important point. The reason so many of us stopped trusting Microsoft back in the 90s was we knew that partnering with them only had two exit points: acquisition or the "theft" of our ideas and customers (for me it was the latter). FSJ points out it's deja vue all over again.

Wednesday Jan 06, 2010

☞ Deep Links

  • This is a useful part of the discussion, apart from the title. Since it describes a situation which has existed for many years, it doesn't justify intervention anywhere, but as a community of communities we neet to take its lessons on board and steer away from the problem over the coming years. Can I say "scorecard" again?
  • "The point is that that kind of thing simply cannot be built if you start with large formal specifications and fixed-price contracts and change-control procedures and so on. So if your enterprise wants the sort of outcomes we’re seeing on the Web (and a lot more should), you’re going to have to adopt some of the cultures and technologies that got them built." -- I completely agree with Tim here. If you've heard my Adoption-Led keynote you've heard me say this, and Tim's more general point is spot on. Now expect whines from those who gave us WS-\* instead of true "small pieces loosely joined"...

Monday Jan 04, 2010

☞ Working With Communities

Sunday Jan 03, 2010

☞ The Other Sun

Friday Jan 01, 2010

☞ Unpopular Lessons


Thoughts and pointers on digital freedoms and technology markets. With a few photos too.


« January 2010 »