Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

Tag Archives: internet

Blockchain and Bitcoin Humble Bundle

The current Humble Bunddle is all about Bitcoin and Blockchain – two topics which are well understood in technical circles, but not well understood in many others. Like the post on Crypto and Cybersecurity with the Humble Bundle, I think this is worth seriously considering. At the $8 level it is good value and handy to have a handful of electronic textbooks. I’m no expert, but I plan to at least validate what I think I know against useful sources. Happy reading.

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An interesting Broadband modem with mobile backup

The Telstra Exchange news feed has a good post last week – a new broadband modem product which provides a fast connection with a mobile backup in case the connection drops; called Telstra Gateway Frontier, also hitting the news on via Gizmodo and CNet. Firstly let me state the design of this device is far better than most modem/router devices, and if you want a better look at it’s physical appearance browse through the product designer’s website. Its a nice looking piece of kit. It helps that its not a black and grey box with 6 antennas poking out.

telstragatewaymodemwhitelivingroom

That is the Gateway in the background of this image sitting stylishly on the shelf (never mind that it has no power cable or phone line plugged into it, this is a marketing image), in use there would be a few cables running up from the floor to the unit.

Two statements in the primary article stand out as interesting:

If there is an interruption to the home broadband such as planned network maintenance, the gateway will automatically switch over to the Telstra Mobile Network within minutes.

… and …

Featuring the latest in Wi-Fi technology (Wi-Fi 802.11ac 4X4) to increase in-home Wi-Fi speeds up to four times compared with the previous generation of our gateway technology (when using AC-compatible devices), to significantly boost signal reach as Australians embrace video streaming on smart TVs and mobile screens.

Well damn, that’s actually useful.

Why? Well when I was a techie many years ago one of my proud achievements was cobbling together a “hybrid internet connection” for the company which attenuated two aDSL connections, a load-balancer for them, with one having dial-up backup for email, then plonked a few wifi access points into the network for the IT staff. That might not seem like much these days, but in the early 2000’s there wasn’t the choice in providers or flexibility in hardware we have today. My old solution from 15 years ago used three modems, a load balancer, two wifi points, a dedicated firewall device, a secondary firewall for a secure network, a router, and a server to control the policies and monitor usage. It was complex enough to need diagrams and many pages of configuration notes to run, and still had multiple points of failure. This Gateway product looks like it will have one box and three cables (power, phone, and lan), and so a huge amount of what I needed a patch panel and a rack space to do. I’m happy to see this in the home market, but can also see a huge potential for small businesses who just want to get online and stay online. Read more of this post

UN desires to Tax the Internet, ffs.

Grumble, rant… You’d think it was April 1st. As reported recently by the Register there is a plan to try to tax the traffic used by the Internet. What in blazes? Why? Wha?

I have no idea what else could be the purpose of this tax, and given most countries already have many taxes (like personal income tax, resources tax, luxuries tax, payroll tax, even a tax on making a good investment in land), putting an additional cost to the ISPs, which will be passed to the consumer is plainly greedy. It feels like a bland and obvious money grab.

The beating will continue until morale improves.

Some taxes might have a valid argument, say a (groan) carbon tax to help save the environment. Given how much money the environment has been making its only fair that it carries it’s weight for a change. Its a slacker. Oh, but the Internet has been around for a while too, and it even had the audacity to be involved in Facebook’s recent rapid statement of worthlessness (buying FB stock was in my opinion a worse choice that a handful of magic beans) so we should make the Internet bail out the crumbling economies, with something that everyone loves – Taxes.*

It is not like data isn’t the backbone of most commerce, and applying a tax to something which is so variable is very fair – when you don’t bother to think about it.*

The taxes will continue until the economy improves

After reading and trying to find reason – it is real, although not clearly or as straight as it is initially implied – basically it is a mess. Security and poverty are being used as a lever for revenue, at the expense of the end user. Somewhere in the convoluted mix of arguments is privacy and the user’s rights, but in reading the cross-linked articles I found that both sides of the argument are apparently using this as part of the basis.

So be aware that something so backward is still possible, and being talked about by people we pay for with our taxes. In the end it comes down to: data can be measured, and therefore it should be taxed.

We have taxed land, water, foodstuffs, entertainment, and almost everything else. It is time for everyone to roll over and take this gracefully. Tax our internet, and then please tax oxygen too – we’ve been getting that for free too for far too long.*

We could tax internal traffic too. All the traffic between your laptop and desktop at home, or on the internal network, or even the personal notes that your write on the fridge for your wife, kids, or servants…**

* these paragraphs are sarcastic.

** If you don’t have servants then you’re probably not wealthy enough or have your head sufficiently rammed backwards inside yourself, and therefore won’t understand why this tax is so great.

The US Cyber Command logo is geeky cool

The “United States Cyber Command” logo contains a secret code, which when decrypted gives the organisation’s mission statement. I love this, Dan Brown has nothing on this.

It’s a little like old news as the code was cracked in Jul 2010; but the dept created their logo with a secret message within it which was then thrown to the crypto communities to see if they could nut it. And of course it was done in record time (see the Wired link below for more info). What is most apparent to me is how suitable the idea is to the nature of geeks and hackers. Here is a group that is tasked with providing strategies and defence against cyber incidents, which could easily start or become outwardly stodgy and tired, but instead is considering the culture of the communities they will interact with in their icon design. Kudos to them for doing so; they cared enough about what they are dealing with to put this onto the organisation’s symbol.

True Geeks must be in charge. As further evidence the coat of arms contains two swords clashing, a lightning bolt, and a key. That feels like the guy running the place a DnD Dungeon Master, and his communications folks must all be trekkies or some other variant of geek folks – and I just best they meet every second Friday for a rousing game of Ticket to Ride.

Federal Computer Weekly, and Wikipedia have good summaries of what the organisation is about and what they might be looking into, and the Wired article is where I heard about the cool crypto message in the first place.

Refs for further reading and sources:

Happy hacking, um – maybe…

seal of the us cyber command

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