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Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

Neil_Brown Pot, meet kettle (307 comments)

From BlackBerry's BBM page:

BBM Video is currently only available for BlackBerry 10 smartphones. Version 1 of BBM for Windows Phone does not support BBM Voice, BBM Channels, Stickers, or location sharing powered by Glympse.

3 days ago

British 'Porn Filter' Blocks Access To Chaos Computer Club

Neil_Brown Re:Libel Lawsuit by CCC would get them to do that (135 comments)

The filters have usually been super-secret

In case it might be of interest, in the UK, on mobile networks at least, the existence of filters is not (and, as far as I know, has never been) secret, and the categories of content which are likely to render a site being blocked are published too. I appreciate that this is, of course, not the same as a "what's blocked and what's not list".)

The UK's infrastructure mobile operators published the "Code of practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles" in January 2004, with the filters being implemented about a year later in early 2005. The code was updated in 2009, and is accessible here. The code still references the Independent Mobile Classification Body, but this is no longer the right place: the IMCB's role has been replaced by the British Board of Film Classification, which also administers the age ratings for films for the UK.

The BBFC documents its approach to mobile content classification on its website, here, including setting out the type of content which the BBFC considers suitable for "adults only", the details of mobile operator contact points in the event that a site operator considers that their site is incorrectly classified, and an appeals procedure against decisions taken by the BBFC.

Whilst there is no published "what's blocked and what's not" list, the mobile operators buy third party services for website classification; most, but not all, buy from Symantec. Symantec has a web interface for its "ratings tool" here, which (after a captcha) lets anyone see how Symantec has classified a particular URL. This is complemented by the Open Rights Group tool (here): the ORG tool does a real-time check of whether a site is blocked across mobile and fixed networks, and the Symantec tool indicates the classification given to the site by Symantec.

about a month and a half ago

BitTorrent Unveils Sync 2.0

Neil_Brown Re:subscription?! (60 comments)

Are there any mature open source projects that are trying to make personal cloud storage?

I suspect it depends on what "mature" means to you, but owncloud has been around for a little while now, and seems to be updated reasonably regularly. LDAP integration is beta, so it might not be suited to a corporate environment but, for home use, it has been fine for a while (2? 3? years now.)

There is a plug-in for it, which allows you to encrypt the files at rest within the server, but this did not work so well for me, as it never seemed to finish — I don't think I have a big archive, as it is only about 5GB, but they are mostly small documents (and so a lot of them), rather than images or video. Sync only via https can be forced as an option, which is great, and it works fine with self-generated certificates, after the usual "warning — do you want to trust this" dialogue on setup.

Since it uses a flat file structure on the server, no reason you could not rsync that to your chosen off-site storage as a cron job if you wanted, else there is a backup module which might do that for you anyway.

about 2 months ago

BitTorrent Unveils Sync 2.0

Neil_Brown Re:Basically (60 comments)

Not quite the same as BitTorrent Sync, but I have used owncloud for a while, as I prefer data to be on my infrastructure where possible. It was easy to set up, although was too slow on a Raspberry Pi to be useable, and I have not had much luck using the default sqlite. Now on a Debian VM with MySQL, and it's running just fine.

I would not make it publicly accessible, though, as it's just not worth the risk to me, so it only syncs when I am travelling after I have connected to the VPN. However, if you didn't have a static IP, a dynamic DNS service should do the job just fine of making it easily addressable externally.

about 2 months ago

New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

Neil_Brown Re:Banana Pi, Cubieboard, ODroid, BeagleBone ... (122 comments)

consider this if you want to run OwnCloud

Of those listed, the only one with which I have any experience is the Pi and, for OwnCloud, it was pretty awful. It did install, but owncloud ran incredibly slowly — I tried to tune the PHP installation, but I couldn't make enough of a difference to make it usable. I found much the same with wordpress.

A VM Debian image on a more robust server did the trick...

about 7 months ago

To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer

Neil_Brown Re:As far as colon cancer is concerned (179 comments)

Concentrate on the elephant in the room

That would need one heck of a lot of marinade...

about 10 months ago

EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger

Neil_Brown Re:Too bad it won't apply to everyone (358 comments)

Apple complied in 2011 by including a Lightning->micro-USB adapter in the box with all of its European models, and has done so for the last three years.

They certainly sell an adapter, but it is not supplied in the box, at least in my experience of devices bought from Apple stores in the UK.

about 10 months ago

Vodafone Foundation Launches Cell Site In a Backpack

Neil_Brown Re:Power Source? (37 comments)

The backpack cell site can run on 110/220 volt mains power or a 12 volt battery; it also has an enclosed battery with four hours run time, and can also run off a 62 watt solar panel if needed. It can also charge up to three phones.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Fight Usage Caps?

Neil_Brown Accepted capping, and paid for a suitable limit (353 comments)

... with the possibility of increasing the cap if needed.

I am in the UK and wanted to move to an ISP which offered FTTC, IPv6, a static IP, would be happy for me to run servers and would not implement CG-NAT, and offered good technical support in the event I should need it. The ISP which was most highly recommended to me based on those criteria offered FTTC for a fixed monthly price, with a cap — if paying a proportionate more-than-average-in-the-consumer-market price gave me a proportionate more-than-average-in-the-consumer-market service, that sounded like a good trade-off to me, even with a cap.

Coming from an uncapped connection, I was nervous about buying something with a cap, but, having checked our usage for a three month period, I picked the option with a cap three times that (guessing that a faster connection would mean we use it for me) and, so far, that has worked out well for me. If I want another 100GB, I can pay for that, either as a one-off, on a particularly heavy usage month, or to upgrade the connection permanently.

(The ISP is Andrews and Arnold and, so far, I have been more than happy with them. I guess that they have to pay upstream for capacity, and an unlimited connection would entail a pretty significant premium to ensure that they were not left out of pocket.)

about a year ago

New Keyboard Accessory Shocks Users When They Try To Go On Facebook

Neil_Brown BlockSite (for Firefox) worked for me (125 comments)

I realised I was wasting far too much time on Facebook a couple of years ago, along with other forums, and found it hard not to browse there - often, I found that I was just typing the URL without thinking about it, and loading the site without giving it any thought. A friend recommended BlockSite to me, and, whilst I felt a bit stupid at needing this crutch, I took it, and managed to get things back under control.

Just add in the URLs of the site in question, and it blocks access to the pages (and elements at those URLs from loading as part of other pages). Editing a hosts file is probably just as suitable, but this worked for me...

about a year ago

Duracell's Powermat Ties the Knot With PowerKiss

Neil_Brown Well that sounds positive (61 comments)

What bright spark came up with the idea of this merger?

Perhaps we could have one charging company merge with another time after time after time, thereby doing it in series.

about a year ago

Do Developers Need Free Perks To Thrive?

Neil_Brown Re:rather have money (524 comments)

With $100, I'm pretty sure you could order a pizza and lots of soda sent to your office

Two or three, maybe even four, times, perhaps — but if that's an extra $100 per year, or even per month, there would be a lot of days without the free pizza or soda?

about a year and a half ago

Fedora 19 To Stop Masking Passwords

Neil_Brown Re:Presentations... (234 comments)

Unless you are installing a production system in front of a room of people, and then not changing the password afterwards, just carry on as usual:

Maintainers of the Anaconda installer in Fedora have taken it upon themselves to show passwords in plaintext on the screen as they are entered into the installer

about a year and a half ago

iTunes Store Turns 10

Neil_Brown Re:Thank god the iPod is dead (184 comments)

For those of us who used platforms that it didn't work on, it made owning an iPod/iPhone a nightmare

I used my old iPod with Amarok under Ubuntu for quite some time — I actually found it easier to use that iTunes on Windows, which, for me, crashed more often than it worked.

about a year and a half ago

Groups Accuse EU Parliament of "Caving In" To Pressure From Business and US

Neil_Brown Re:Relevant amendments: (58 comments)

Great links — thank you!

about 2 years ago

Groups Accuse EU Parliament of "Caving In" To Pressure From Business and US

Neil_Brown Re:Relevant amendments: (58 comments)

once your name, phone number, profile picture and other identifying data is stripped, they can do whatever they want with your data?

If all other identifying data has been stripped away, it is really "your" data any longer?

I'm not sure that the situation you describe here would protect the data under the existing rules either:

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity;

I think there is a difference between the situation which you describe (which seems to be anonymous data) and pseudonymous data, though, in that pseudonymous data does not have all identifying data stripped out, but rather replaced by a less obvious identifier.

The phone number 07700 900771 might become a2t6#g1, but, if, in a stream / sequence of data, that number always becomes that alternative descriptor, anyone in control of the algorithm / key could convert obtain the original number again with relative easy — just run all possible permutations of the phone number (which is of standard form, with specified structure) through the algorithm and pattern match.

To my mind, provided that the algorithm doing the conversion is appropriately protected, pseudonymisation may be one good method of reducing the risk associated with the processing of personal data, protecting it in the event for a data breach, and thus be a form of security measure, but is unlikely to stop the data from being capable of identifying the individual, in the hands of the party carrying out the pseudonymisation.

about 2 years ago


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