The Great Australian Internet Firewall

Some what belatedly (hey I’m travelling!)  I’ve changed the layout of my main website http://www.enc.com.au/ so it now has black panels and a little pop-up.  It’s all in the name of T he Great Australian Internet Blackout which is a protest about the upcoming Australian Governments Internet Filtering.

As per usual with this sort of thing, the proposed solution will not even meet its rather vague goals, unless you count filtering a 1000 or so websites a “goal”.  While the numbers vary, the best estimates is its way over 100 to 200 million websites. So that 1000 is 0.0005, or 1 in 200,000.

The filter is alternatively going to filter reported refused classification material or perhaps “other stuff”; they’ll get back to you on the second one. For the first it works that somone finds a website of sufficient level of classification, reports it to the government and it gets filtered.  And how many times have you come across RC websites, just by wandering around? That’s not R rated websites, its not porn, its not even reasonably exotic porn, but stuff that’s downright nasty.

The government, as per usual, has come out with the tired old protect the children rant. The filter doesn’t stop spam, it doesn’t stop weirdos on facebook or MSN chatting up your teenage daughter or son, it filters websites that, unless you or your child is REAL unlucky you will never see; ever.

So why am I against it? Surely filtering RC level websites is great right? And to be honest if that is all this ever was going to be, it’s still a complete waste of my (and if you are an Australian Internet user) your money, but once the filtering is in, there is going to be a line outside the relevant ministers door to filter anything else anyone wants to filter, for example:

  • Games that are available outside Australia, if they have not been classified here then they shouldn’t be available here
  • Torrent trackers, because the industry would no doubt tell the government that the only thing they’re good for is illegal download of movies or music
  • Websites about certain topics that some people would rather not be seen, there is a large mountain of stuff that fits in here depending which crank has their own barrow to push

This sort of filtering while initially seeming ok, will get worse, much much worse.  There is not a real strong push from the general public about filtering RC websites, most people see and hate spam much more.  If you are an Australian citizen I ask you to visit the The Great Australian Internet Firewall  website and write to your local member of parliament.

Manilla, Git and Gjay

Work doesn’t often send to me places as great as Manilla in the Philippines, but here I am.  It’s a reasonably modern place and to me feels more like America than Asia in so many ways, posssibly because of its history.  One thing is for sure, noone follows road rules here.  Red lights are a suggestion and a zebra crossing is just some painted lines that you do need to stop at.

As for food, it’s not that different, in fact this sad lot is about what was different:

  • McSpaghetti – Was supposedly sugar coated spaghetti but actually was very tame, my son would of loved it.
  • Wow Steak from KFC – Neither Wow nor Steak, like a big chicken nugget with gravy and rice
  • Halo Halo – A dessert drink which was sugared or preserved fruit, milk and ice.

Generally though the food has been pretty good but nothing I could get at home.

Good news about Gjay, the previous maintainer said it was ok for SourceForge to hand over the control of the program to me so I’ve set it up in git and started working on it.  Most of the work was getting the code up-to-date to the later gtk APIs and making it work with audacious instead of xmms.  It’s almost ready for (re)initial release and there is even an ITP ready to go.

Git is a rather interesting and new (for me at least) version control system.  I’ve been using cvs for more years than I’d care to think about and svn but while it is a bit different as you’d expect I haven’t had it get in my way.  In fact I’ve been so impressed with Git I have put a few other projects into it, mainly with the collab maintence Debian project for a few of my packages.

Happy new RC

It’s the late afternoon of the first day of 2010 here, though I suppose its still 2009 for someone for a little while.

After a lot of waiting, JFFNMS release candidate 1 for 0.8.5 got uploaded to sourceforge.  This release is mainly about fixing some database release bugs 0.8.4 had and they’re all caused by the fact that working with PHP and database to release code is plain awful.

The problem is tracking changes in your database. So version 1 has 3 tables and 60 rows, version 2 has 4 tables and 90 rows, but what changed?  Everything I’ve seen so far is a bit of a hack or is real fiddly.  JFFNMS release process is both which is why I’ll go and release several versions of C code or Debian packages before trying to crack that nut again.

If you are wondering what JFFNMS is, its a Network Management System. It makes graphs and red/green icons depending on the status of your routers and servers. Written in PHP and web based and of course licensed under the GPL