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Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years

DeSigna Re:Yea no... (58 comments)

All true to a degree, however in AU at least, there's a couple of caveats.

First, all physical endpoints must be identifiable. There are some exceptions, but the ACMA carrier licensing regulations around voice and data mean that in 99% of instances, much of the data you're describing must already be logged and made available when presented with a warrant. Much of the infrastructure is already in place. For example, it is illegal to activate a mobile SIM without providing ID (drivers' license information). Your phone number is bound to your SIM identity so when you're making calls, it doesn't matter what the cell infrastructure or backhaul is doing, the CID and IPND data is traceable through all the carriers involved. All services hooking into the PSTN are required to provide valid endpoint location and responsible person data, even IP voice.

Secondly, with data, the vast majority of Internet connections in Australia are either PPP or mobile. Most residential services (e.g. DSL, NBN, residential fibre) are delivered as PPPoE/A, directly linking an authenticated username with all its account details to an IP history. Actions taken by that IP are easily cross-matched without worrying about matching physical circuits. HFC cable, EoC, fibre ethernet or other L2 tails are uncommon for residential internet and when in place, service providers are still required to supply similar means of match-up to comply with ACMA requirements. Mobile broadband acts similarly, the accounting systems make tracking easy.

All of this stuff is already in place. All the ISPs I'm aware of are very particular about traffic accounting and logging beyond even what is required by current law. The laws being proposed (as far as I can tell) increase the storage time and expand beyond the scope of the accounting data required now, almost to the point where you're going to be logging netflows, archiving proxy/DNS logs and hanging on to them for a couple of years - huge amounts of data. Unfortunately, all doable, all scalable off the back of existing diagnostic and accounting systems. I've been involved in scoping some of this myself for my employer.

It'll be expensive, which is what ISPs and CSPs are griping about loudest right now, but there's no crippling technical limitations, no matter how much I wish there was.

about 3 months ago

OneDrive Delivers Unlimited Cloud Storage To Office 365 Subscribers

DeSigna Re:Unlimited... (145 comments)

It seems you're unfamiliar with the performance of 365 cloud storage.

Short answer: your connection will not be the bottleneck.

It's even more fun trying to migrate terabytes of data back out of the MS cloud.

about 2 months ago

OneDrive Delivers Unlimited Cloud Storage To Office 365 Subscribers

DeSigna Re: Who cares (145 comments)

Speaking for myself, it's a market I care quite strongly about (having a Mac and being a fan of Dropbox). It's also a market that's used to paying for decent features.

iCloud doesn't work well on anything but my single Mac. Barely tried Google Drive or OneDrive, but their clients were just terrible each time I have. Dropbox works very well on the 3 workstation OSes and 2 phone OSes I use day-to-day.

about 2 months ago

How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

DeSigna Re:It helps to actually use the thing. (296 comments)

Reinforcing your point, I find my MBP to be an excellent dev box, with all the bells, whistles and software vendor support I could want. Bonus points for being lightweight and high performance with a great battery life, especially compared to the regular (HP, Toshiba, LG) "high performance" employer-issue dev laptops which seem to be either slow or not very portable.

about 3 months ago

Apple Said To Team With Visa, MasterCard On iPhone Wallet

DeSigna Re:So it's like Google Wallet? (187 comments)

And Australia's had it for years too. When I ordered it, I had to make sure my phone was the international version with NFC support, because the US model doesn't have it.

about 5 months ago

Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

DeSigna Re:Ewww... (242 comments)

My Australian education would recall that water structure is constantly changing, and that no "memory" lasts more than a few nanoseconds. No structure has been observed in any form for a longer period than this, or any kind of cyclical/regenerative states based on non-reacting impurities or solutes in the water.

Of course, this is all in relation to room- or body-temperature water, which is quite energetic and liquid. Environmental effects are a bit different. Closer to freezing everything slows down and the molecules start to line up in preparation of forming ice crystals. Usually, I'd hope this doesn't happen in a purification plant in-pipe or a human body. Either scenario is unpleasant.

about 6 months ago

Can the NSA Really Track You Through Power Lines?

DeSigna Re:Well, sort of. (109 comments)

But I digress. The point is this: AC power is a waveform, oscillating at 60 Hz. It cannot vary much at all...because within the same grid, everything is interconnected. Every generator is in sync, or has a syncrophasor to re-sync the power coming from it before it hits the grid. Otherwise, you get some power from A and some from B, with waveforms that are out of sync...and the frequency changes in both rate and amplitude, and shit blows up.

You may wish to engage in a quick review of:

And numerous other examples of various subcarriers being successfully overlaid on the 50/60Hz power waveform. When used for data transmission, BPL technologies (while commonly deployed in short-range scenarios due to EMI problems), can deliver hundreds of megabits, up to multiple gigabits of bandwidth over tens of KMs - this was deployed and trialled for wide-coverage broadband delivery in Australia. These capabilities would indicate we already have consumer technology which can work through the noise to transmit and receive such a high-precision signal on a shared medium, and which would not create the chaos described.

I'm not disagreeing with this being highly unlikely as a useful tool for tracking without a lot of infrastructure, but the power networks are in no way clean or perfectly in sync. Phases are locked (or the generators will get yanked into line, potentially disastrously), but beyond mechanical low-frequency synchronisation at the production end, there's a lot of noise and variation. I've personally seen several scenarios, mostly large industrial estates, which vary very significantly in voltage and frequency (both over 20%) depending on time of day and resultant grid load. IT gear doesn't agree with this and requires heavy duty power conditioning.

about 7 months ago

Wolfenstein: The New Order Launches

DeSigna Re:I must be getting old... (167 comments)

And I've been getting increasingly nostalgic over WW1&2 shooters (Codename Eagle, BF1942, ET, the original CoD), over the current crop of modern warfare clones. This game might be right up my alley.

Don't have too much time to game these days, but if TF2 or PlanetSide 2 isn't hitting the spot, I might give the new Wolfenstein a try.

about 8 months ago

OpenStack: the Open Source Cloud That Vendors Love and Users Are Ignoring

DeSigna Re:What is the use case? (99 comments)

And you get the usual proprietary issues from both.

I'm not entirely sure what you're angling at VMware with that, but for AWS it makes more sense.

The promise of OpenStack is that you develop in house, then push it out to whatever commodity provider(s) meet your needs at the time [...snip...] [compatible] at the machine level instead of the app level.

I was under the impression that OpenStack is a management and deployment framework - it will work on top of whatever supported hypervisors are in use (KVM, Xen, VMware, etc). One would assume you won't be exposed to the majority of OpenStack's APIs and direct management systems if you're using a third-party cloud provider.

Unless you're planning your own cloud system or are looking at a deployment on the scale where you would be closely looking at running up some of your own hardware with an IaaS partner for rapid scaling, I don't see any direct benefits to users. Especially for SMEs and non-IT-centric businesses, which are the primary targets for the "outsource everything to the cloud, it's worry free!" propaganda.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Management Interface On an IT Appliance?

DeSigna Re:And the answer is... (114 comments)

I'd have to agree. VMware VI Client (the .NET one) is very well designed and thought out, but I'd add the HP 3PAR Management Console into the list of well-done management tools.

It's been a while since I used NetApp though. NetApp and 3PAR's management toolkits crap all over HP MSA/EVA or the various IBM SAN consoles for usability.

about 10 months ago

Government Accuses Sprint of Overcharging For Wiretapping Expenses

DeSigna Re:Refund on overhearing my pizza order (114 comments)

The same is true of comms here in Australia, where in order to obtain a carriers license, equipment must have certain features available for law enforcement purposes according to a set spec defined by the ACMA. There are also various data retention policies.

However, when the government makes drastic and expensive changes to infrastructure requirements for their own desires, there's an expectation that they foot the bill for changes to existing gear. After all, they ARE the customers for these features. Funding it out of government/law enforcement budgets accurately reflects the costs of the enforcement.

Retrofitting configuration on to existing infrastructure can be very expensive compared to rolling out new kit, requiring changes from the management systems all the way to the network gear itself, testing/QA and so on. You're not just fiddling with ACLs or enabling netflows.

about a year ago

Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain

DeSigna Re:There was a mockup in the late 60s. (353 comments)

But even with that, they were reportedly pretty close to breaking the RAF, when they decided to change tactics and let them rebuild near the end of 1940.

about a year ago

Apple's Messages Offers Free Texting With a Side of iPhone Lock-In

DeSigna Re:WTF (179 comments)

Well lets see. If they try and message you after you've gotten your new droid/winphone/etc, they'll eventually get an error, if the previous conversation hasn't expired (expiry seems to take somewhere between an hour and a day, probably depending on network conditions). If it's expired and you're no longer on iMessage, or if they've had an error and try to send another message, it will go via SMS. Nothing default about it. Except in the case of an unexpired conversation, it's transparent.

If I want to remove a phone permanently from my iMessage account, I go into my iMessage settings, select the number and remove it. It's even easier if you own the device and it's part of your support profile, you can just do it through the Apple website. I own an iPad but my iPhone is employer-issue.

This iMessage stuff has been part of the iOS environment for literally years. This article is hyperventilating over nothing and is worthy only of a weary eye-roll.

about a year ago

Inside Boeing's New Self-Destructing Smartphone

DeSigna Re:But the really important question is... (162 comments)

Probably. But if you try installing a custom firmware, it will literally explode.

I can see a lot of carriers warming to this idea.

about a year ago

Lawrence Lessig Wins Fair Use Case

DeSigna Re:Is the settlement open for all ? (89 comments)

Australian labels are generally allied under the ARIA organisation, which has cordial relations with the RIAA. They're closely aligned in intent.

The other interesting thing is, Australian copyright law is much stricter about "fair dealing" (our version of the US' "Fair Use" clause), with exemptions only for very specific use cases. For instance, transcoding a CD to MP3 is not legal in AU. Nor would be using a jingle in a powerpoint for a highschool project, unless the jingle itself was the object of study. ARIA has said they will not sue for personal use such as this, which was taken as justification for not building in additional consumer protections and fair deal exclusions during the most recent revision of AU copyright law.

It's fortunate that this issue occurred and the case was tried in US jurisdiction.

about a year ago

Financing College With a Tax On All Graduates

DeSigna Re:Think about it (597 comments)

Take for example the Australian model HECS scheme. Effectively, it's a government loan which is paid for like a tax.

Everything is paid for as it would be if you paid up front, by the government. When you leave university and begin to earn income, your annual tax bill is increased by a minimum amount (which you can increase if you want, or perform direct payments into HECS) which pays down the debt until it is gone. If you stop making income, you stop paying off the debt.

I can't recall the specifics, but I believe the latest changes peg the debt value to CPI, so it grows at the government-determined rate of inflation, well below market interest rates.

Overall, people pay for what they use, they can be capped if they're trying to become a professional student and debt load isn't as crippling as it sounds under the US system.

about a year ago

Ubuntu To Switch To systemd

DeSigna Re:Embedded uses something different anyway (279 comments)

Systemd brings standardized, concurrent, event-driven startup, so it takes less time to start up, both CPU time and wall clock time. For example, systemd's declarative unit files have much less boilerplate and take less effort to parse than SysV-style init scripts.


Embedded systems using lightweight shells already take only a handful of seconds to boot up with their handrolled initscripts. And even more so than most desktops and servers, that embedded unit is probably going to be turned on for years at a time without reboots.

I've nothing against systemd itself, beside not being very familiar with its internals and being slightly annoyed at having to remember to type "systemctl" instead of "service", but it's silly to position its most-touted benefit as being "quicker boot times". A lot of the secondary benefits, well, we've already got things like OpenRC, rsyslogd and grep.

I may also be a little miffed at having ported a ton of old style init support glue (for a bunch of RH Kickstart configs) to the comparatively poorly documented Upstart, and now I have to change them again for 7's systemd :|.

about a year ago

Godot Game Engine Released Under MIT License

DeSigna Re:Is this like CrystalSpace? (73 comments)

None of those are nearly as complex or featured as Godot.

After having a look over the doco for Godot, I'd say that CrystalSpace isn't as far behind as you'd think (especially if you include CEL). However, Godot seems to have more nice features if you're actually developing a game (nice UI, publishing integration).

CS suffers from being more of a programmer's playground than a practical game engine and having quite a steep learning curve, but I've been toying with it for more than a decade.

Also, they were designed for hardware architectures not relevant any more today.

This hits closer to the mark - CS was started a long time ago, but it's ended up being well designed and modular. However, it's difficult to pick up new talent to implement new stuff with such a large existing codebase, leading to quite a bit of development inertia in certain areas.

Still, it works with modern OpenGL and console ports have been made.

I'm more interested in how Godot stacks up against a framework like Marmalade.

about a year ago

Windows 8.1 Passes Windows Vista In Market Share

DeSigna Re:Well.... (249 comments)

Well, I can't speak for the GP, but I don't keep any shortcuts on my desktop and pinned items are a bare minimum of common-use apps (Outlook, Firefox, PowerShell, etc). Having icons sprayed everywhere just feels extremely messy.

Admittedly, since getting a Mac at home, I have gotten into the habit of just hitting the windows key and searching for what I want (similar to Cmd-Space for Spotlight), which works better in Win8, but I still find the start screen incredibly annoying and inconsistent compared to the simplicity of a Start Menu that I've had for a decade.

Before that I had a Linux desktop and work machines running WindowMaker, which features a floating start menu :). My disdain for desktop icons and excessive pinning dates from that era.

about a year ago


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