supposedly private email


I have my doubts about whether any email is private.


In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. A year ago this month one of that movement’s leaders, Aaron Swartz, tragically passed away.

Today we face a different threat, one that undermines the Internet, and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

If Aaron were alive, he’d be on the front lines, fighting against a world in which governments observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action.

Now, on the the anniversary of Aaron’s passing, and in celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA that he helped make possible, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take place this February 11th.

Warrantless laughs at Bing

by Alex Marthews on January 13, 2014

Ever feel that the surveillance state can’t be beaten? Have no fear. The cure is here, in the form of this case study. Authored by our friends at the world’s most popular, innovative and dynamic tech company, it shows that well before the XBox Kinect “let’s deploy real-time surveillance technology in every American home” debacle, Microsoft was busily trying to get its hands on a thrilling avalanche of federal dollars, available only to companies shameless and lickspittle enough to develop an entire suite of software dedicated to handling data collected without a warrant on millions of Americans.

Behold! [Fanfare.] The Microsoft Fusion Framework!



Oops, sorry. Right company, wrong product.

Behold! [Fanfare.] The Microsoft Fusion Framework!

Of course you can get a public screenshot! Why not?

Nice to see that Microsoft’s spell-check function is as robust as ever, fellas. Have fun searching for a suspect with a “dragon tattoo” using that system.

Fusion Framework and Fusion Core Solution have been built to support fusion centers where data is taken from disparate sources from federal, state, local, and tribal governments, and from the private sector, and fused into one complete picture to enhance awareness, planning, prevention, and response to an incident.

With Fusion Framework and Fusion Core Solution, agencies can seamlessly move information from intake to analysis to dissemination in a multiple-agency, multilevel environment, while utilizing existing assets and integrating with domain-specific applications. This gives agencies the ability to take proactive action to prepare for and respond to crises and to counter potential threats and criminal activities.

Oooh! Oooh! Is the search function powered by Bing? Actually, that started off as another piece of my usual garden-variety sarcasm, but looking at the top right hand corner of the screenshot, it appears that its search function actually is powered by Bing. Uh, hands-down best search engine on the market! Wouldn’t want you to use anything else. Just keep on doing what you’re doing.

I’m so glad too that the personal data of millions of Americans is being safeguarded in a Fusion Framework developed by a company with such a reputation for bug-free, stable computer security. Nobody will ever hack a Microsoft Fusion Framework, no sir! They brought in the big guns!

And who are the suckers dedicated public servants who ordered this awesome product?

The Microsoft Fusion Framework helps fusion centers like the Massachusetts CFC get the right information to the right people at the right place and the right time.

Lord have mercy.

I guess the question is, should I be happy or sad?

For more on fusion centers, click here.

Project Grey: The Pirate Bay might be the most important group to decentralizing the Internet

The Pirate Bay, delving further into the anti-censorship battle, may have just invented a new type of internet, hosted peer-to-peer, and maintained using the Bitcoin protocol.

Love them or hate them, The Pirate Bay are always ahead of the curve when it comes to digital rights, especially when it comes to copyright, DRM and censorship. Now I’m not one to say ‘they give me free shit, awesome hur dur’. Artist remuneration is important to me and in many senses TPB circumvents this. But the current copyright system is broken. Fractions of the dollar go to the artists, and the archaic content distribution models mean lots of content can’t be seen legally without a 100 channels of cable or a $40 DVD.

Media pirates

People consume media differently and the market largely hasn’t caught up. Progressive media groups, like Netflix, actually use TPB stats to work out what programs to book. It’s acknowledged that freely distributing your content is a great way to get exposed. Most bands will seed a torrent in the hopes it goes viral. So clearly there’s merit to the model.


“Thanks Pirate Bay”

Now if all TPB did was make it easier for people to OD on Game Of Thrones I’d still be impressed. Their fractured cloud hosted solutions and domain hopping have been a beacon of hope to everyone that feels uncomfortable with bolder and bolder attempts to centralise and regulate an internet built by and for free thinkers.

But what matters now is what they’re doing to bypass censorship.

Thought police

You see the internet, and its contents, is a bit like an ocean. It’s huge, it’s untamed, it has dangerous disgusting depths and beautiful vistas. More and more however you, the user, are shunted onto the tourist beaches for your own good. You don’t even see “no access” signs for the areas that aren’t safe.  Through the wizardry of IP blocking they make it so you can’t even see they where there. So instead you paddle in the shallows, reading 9gag and sharing snapchats of your cats hat.

TPB’s first step was the pirate bay browser, very similar to the tor browser, however without IP masking (so you aren’t anonymous). This browser means users aren’t limited in their access because of their location.

It’s not just China that limits it’s internet access, most countries live in a media bubble, from blocking access to movies and shows because licensing doesn’t allow it, to restricting the news that is readily available. The people in office aren’t even being subtle anymore.  Consider the porn filter in the UK: they are restricting content based on the views of a moral minority who happen to hold political (and one would assume economic) power. If you think this is going to be anything other than more prevalent in the near future, or at this doesn’t effect you, then you need a better understanding of the role of free speech in government accountability.


The buccaneers behind pirate bay.

Fighting back

However even with IP masking, governments can still get right to the source, and block an IP address, confiscate servers, basically killing a website. All well and good to stop child porn and nuclear warhead plans from being distributed, however this is also more than likely to be used to silence boat rockers, dissidents and anyone that challenges the current politico-economic paradigm that keeps the suits in limos. Consider Wikkileaks, who have been under attack merely for holding the governments own actions up to the light for scrutiny.

The way TPB are addressing this will be a decentralised, peer to peer internet.

You heard me right.

This means domain blocking is impossible, server seizure can’t be achieved and the powers that be can’t do everything in their power to limit free speech that challenges the political or economic status quo.

Decentralise everything

The way it works is that it stores a sites indexable data when on your computer, so you host little chunks of the sites you visit, in much the same way as people host chunks of data when maintaining a seed for a torrent file.

Users will be able to register their ‘domain’ using bitcoin, on a first come first serve basis, renewing every year. This means that even the registration system is decentralised, in fact relying on a completely different decentralised network. That is one hell of a built in redundancy

It will be using a fake DNS system but there is no real IP address to take down, as the database will be scattered across a global decentralised network of users. No points of failure and no centralised control mechanisms means it could become a very robust platform to maintain free speech.

There are issues, for example what happens if you host illegal content unwittingly, or what happens if the bulk of sites you use are very data hungry? The system has just been announced so further news may quash or exacerbate these concerns.

Do we need it?

In a world where the original ideals of a free internet are being consumed by data discrimination, PRISM, the NSA and the TPP, this pirate web may be one of the few places where true subversive discussion can occur. It may just halt part of a concerted effort to turn the net into a homogenised tracking device, used to buy iPads and photograph food, whilst being spied on and lied to.

The painful effort required to motivate yourself to release a decent project

You need to believe in the value of your project in order to have the passion required to finish it. The value can be for yourself, such as learning a new language or design pattern. The idea could be something that provides value for others, such as an open source project or useful tool.

The final 40% of the project is the most critical, and also the hardest to get through. Everything interesting has been completed, and your passion is much reduced.

This is the most critical phase of the entire project. I can’t emphasize this enough. The success or failure of your project lies in this 40%. As a perfectionist, I get sick pleasure from this phase, but it is still difficult to motivate myself.

Any project released publicly, whether for the world at large or internally at your company, will at the bare minimum be used by them, if not analyzed at the source code level. People love to critique, and small issues get blown far out of proportion and threaten your project with failure and possibly humiliation. I feel this is universal to any creative professional or artisan- so much effort and passion can be wasted if there are even small imperfections.
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The corporate login tug-of-war

Pour your coffee, sit down, and log in: It’s the routine of hundreds of millions of knowledge workers.

As businesses add a crazy quilt of online services to the tools we use, those logins keep piling up. Information-technology managers—when they don’t just throw up their hands—have long dreamed of a nirvana called single-sign-on, where one login rules all. And increasingly, those login credentials will live up in the cloud, managed by some Web giant.

Three companies are on a collision course, jostling for control of the keys to our professional identity. They are Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. Continue reading

Seed Factories

A Seed Factory is a new kind of production system which has two major differences from conventional factories: self-expansion and integration.

It includes a starter set of equipment which can expand in three ways to a larger capacity, while also making useful products:

Replication – making copies of its own parts so as to eventually copy the entire set.
Diversification – making parts for new equipment, thus expanding the range of possible outputs.
Scaling – making parts for larger equipment than what is in the starter set.

The factory is designed as an integrated system. It brings together multiple production steps from raw materials and energy to finished items. Each part of the factory produces resources needed by the other parts to function, making it self-sustaining. Since the parts are all in one place, the whole production chain can take advantage of automation and robotics. Integrated processes can also take waste outputs from one step, and use them as inputs for another. The combination results in a highly efficient design.

As the factory expands, it produces a growing variety of products for end users, and an increasing percentage of the items for its own growth. The relatively low cost of a starter kit, and the low operating cost from integrated processes and automation, make this system very desirable on an economic basis.

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