Technology, Thoughts & Trinkets

Touring the digital through type

Month: February 2010

Applecare and the Time Capsule

I’ve had an Apple Time Capsule in my house for over 18 months, and I love the little thing. It’s reasonably fast, let’s me backup my data every hour to it’s internal hard drive, and isn’t terribly loud. Unfortunately, my first Time Capsule just…died…on December 24, 2009. There wasn’t a flash, or a bang, or a screech. Like a loved pet (or relative…) we just went to bed and, in the morning, it was dead. We’ve memorialized it appropriately.

I’ve had some issues with the Capsule before. When I purchased it, there were some formatting issues that needed to be worked out and problems in finding the Time Capsule using the Airport Utility. Hoping that the Capsule wasn’t dead, I tested each ethernet port, swapped out the power cable, and so forth. Nothing worked, so I scheduled a Dec. 26th call with Apple support.

Something that (seemingly) few people are aware of: if you have a Macbook, Macbook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro that is under warranty then your Apple routers are also under warranty.

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Digital Crises and Internet Identity Cards

Something that you learn if you (a) read agenda-setting and policy laundering books; (b) have ever worked in a bureacratic environment, is that it’s practically criminal to waste a good crisis. When a crisis comes along various policy windows tend to open up unexpectedly, and if you have the right policies waiting in the wings you can ram through proposals that would otherwise be rejected out of hand. An example: the Patriot Act wasn’t written in just a few days; it was presumably resting in someone’s desk, just waiting to be dusted off and implemented. 9/11 was the crisis that opened the policy windows required to ram that particular policy through the American legislative system. Moreover, the ‘iPatriot’ Act, it’s digital equivalent, is already written and just waiting in a drawer for a similar crisis. With the rhetoric ramping up about Google’s recent proclamations that they were hacked by the Chinese government (or agents of that government), we’re seeing bad old ideas surfacing once again: advocates of ‘Internet Identity Cards’ (IICs) are checking if these cards’ requisite policy window is opening.

The concept of IICs is not new: in 2001 (!) the Institute of Public Policy Research suggested that children should take ‘proficiency tests’ at age 11 to let them ‘ride freer’ on the ‘net. Prior to passing this ‘test’ children would have restrictions on their browsing abilities, based (presumably) on some sort of identification system. The IIC, obviously, didn’t take off – children aren’t required to ‘license up’ – but the recession of the IIC into the background of the Western cyberenvironment hasn’t meant that either research and design or infrastructure deployment for these cards has gone away. Who might we identify as a national leader of the IIC movement, and why are such surveillance mechanisms likely incapable of meeting stated national policy objectives but nevertheless inevitable?

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APIs, End-Users, and the Privacy Commons

Mozilla is throwing their hat into the ‘privacy commons‘ ring. Inspired by Aza Rankin’s ‘Making Privacy Policies Not Suck‘, Mozilla is trying to think through a series of icons intended to educate users about websites’ privacy policies. This is inspirational, insofar as a large corporation is actually taking up the challenge of the privacy commons, but at the same time we’ve heard that a uniform privacy analysis system is coming before….in 1998. A working draft for the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) was released May 19, 1998 during the still heady-times of people thinking that Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs) could secure people’s online privacy or, at least, make them aware of privacy dangers. The P3P initiative failed.

Part of the reason behind P3P’s failure was the length of its documentation (it was over 150% the length of Alice in Wonderland) and the general challenge of ‘properly’ checking for privacy compliance. Perhaps most importantly, when the P3P working group disbanded in 2007 they noted that a key reason behind their failure was “insufficient support for curent Browser implementors”. Perhaps with Mozilla behind the project, privacy increasingly being seen as space of product competition and differentiation, and a fresh set of eyes that can learn from the successes of the creative commons and other privacy initiatives, something progressive will emerge from Mozilla’s effort.

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New RSS feed, ‘Worth Reading’

Like most people who are active online, I read a lot off the web, and there isn’t any way for me to analyze and critique much of what I’m reading on this site; I touch on items here and there, but I can’t be systematic on many topics. For some time I’ve used delicious to tag articles, and all of those tags are available to anyone who’s interested in using them to comb through my bookmarks. This said, it was recently pointed out that I have a foolish number of tags (they’re there so that *I* can cull articles based on tag-based query) which makes navigating my delicious stream…unpleasant.

Given my own temporal limitations and the critique of my tagging system, I’ve added an RSS feed titled ‘Worth Reading‘ to the right-hand side of the site, over beside the blogroll. The feed just follows the ‘ttt‘ tag from my delicious stream (ttt=Technology, Thoughts, and Trinkets) and will provide subscribers with articles, blog posts, news pieces, and academic papers that relate to topics often written about here (i.e. security, copyright, deep packet inspection, p2p, social networking, etc) as well as articles on the academy that are useful and/or thought provoking. I’m not digging through my archive to identify items for this feed – time constraints and sanity preclude this – but will be tagging anything relevant to this space so it’ll show up in the RSS.

Hope it’s useful and/or interesting. Feedback is always welcome!