Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Has the good Senator Conroy always told the truth?

Maybe, the good Senator Conroy has not always been truthful with the Australian public. First and foremost, he said there would be an opt-out clause given to every internet user in Australia not to be apart of the cleanfeed filter. He has since gone back on his clause and said there is a two stage filter. One where users can opt-out on, and one that is mandatory. Now to defend himself, he has said how mandatory filtering works in Europe. NOT TRUE (as noted by NSW Parliamentary Library Service)!! It's a good thing that the Greens (another minor governing party in Australia) will be opposing the internet filter in parliament.

But that doesn't leave the rest of you off the hook. Do something (useful) now!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Ubuntu 8.10 quick review

Ubuntu Linux was released late last month. I've updated the PC I have Ubuntu 8.04 installed to 8.10, and noticed that the upgrade process was seamless - the way it should be for any operating system.

So what have I noticed so far?
  • The visual integration in the desktop with the applications seems to be a whole lot better.
  • Compiz works - and really well (see screenshot below).
  • The kernel is up to date - being 2.6.27-8-generic.
  • No sound conflicts with Firefox and MoviePlayer.
  • Networking has been changed - and appears to be set up to work with many more interfaces.
I won't go into great detail - there are other posts on the web that have more in-depth reviews like Bizarre Linux, and Linux and Microcontroller Tips. And as mentioned previously, compiz works a whole lot better, as it only worked partially in ever release until this one (or required manually altering the configuraiton files) - and here's the screenshot:
Ubuntu Linux 8.10 Desktop Screenshot with Compiz
There is something which I found odd about the latest release of Ubuntu, the fact that it still does not have Openoffice.org version 3. My Gentoo machine has already gone through the update process on this, and is running the latest version. Stating that, I have noticed that my Gentoo machine still is not running the latest verison of Firefox. I guess it is all "swings and roundabouts".

Thursday, 13 November 2008

You can't stop stupid from happening...

As the saying goes:
You can't stop stupid from happening, but sometimes you can fight it!
How aptly it applies to the idea behind the content filter at the ISP level that the good Senator Conroy believe will get rid of all the filth on the internet. Just to recap:
  1. The good Senator Conroy is in support of a firewall-like content filter for all internet traffic coming into Australia.
  2. The good Senator Conroy initially suggested that there was an opt-out option. This has now changed to be a compulsory portion, and an option portion.
  3. The initial trials and pilots have suggested that internet speeds will be reduced up to 83%. This contradicts what the Rudd government has promised at the last election in 2007 - to improve Australia's broadband.
  4. The good Senator Conroy will not describe what will be banned from the Australian public to view on the internet. This will be kept as a "secret list", and be only known to a few privileged groups or individuals.
  5. The good Senator Conroy has labelled anyone that does not support his solution for internet content filtering as a supporter of child pornography.
  6. The good Senator Conroy has asked for ISPs to join in on another trial to be started at the end of 2008.
Well it looks like at least one person is willing to take up the battle. Michael Malone, from iinet.net.au, will join the trial and allow his ISP to have the filtering software installed. He is not attempting to approve of the good Senator Conroy's solution - but instead show hard evidence that the system does not work, and will cause performance problems to the internet experience for his customers.

My main concern with this solution, is that what will the government allow me to read. I hate censorship. Will they block articles that are critical against them? Writing blog articles like this, will I be able to access them one day if the solution gets implemented? Everyone in Australia should take action against this solution from the good Senator Conroy.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -- Edmund Burke

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What happens if ISPs do not respond?

The good Senator Conroy has asked ISPs to participate in a trial to gauge some of the concerns being raised by his solution of putting a content filter around Australia internet traffic.

I would be curious to see what happens to speeds and to the actual content being filtered. I wonder if I could visit the good Senator Conroy's wikipedia entry if it had some critical comment on his tactics or his poorly thought out solution - after the content filter has been implemented. Apparently every URL I visit after the content filter is implemented will be logged. What happens if I am researching "child pornography"? Will I get a knock on the door from the police? OK, maybe that last one is a little bit of a stretch.

And what would happen if none of the Australian ISPs took up the government's offer? Would they still attempt to go ahead and implement the solution anyway?

Speaking with a friend, he's lost faith in the whole system. He believes that regardless what the Australian public thinks or wants, the internet content filter will be implemented. If that's the case, then democracy does not work, and the whole political process of electing officials by the people for the people is a farce. The good Senator Conroy has been described by Michael Malone (managing director of iiNet.net.au) as "This is the worst Communications Minister we've had in the 15 years since the [internet] industry has existed." I have a little more faith... and hope... I'm sure if he tried a little harder, he could really be worse...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Report for cleanfeed is available on the web

According to "Internet filtering? Just say no" (on itwire.com), ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) has released a PDF which contains the report of the internet filtering trials. I urge everyone to download this and read this, and what this report suggests has a good possibility to be implemented.

One aspect of the filtering which is of great interest is that fact that cleanfeed will be able to look at HTTPS traffic. This means that anyone doing any financial transactions has the possibility of their credit card or banking details tracked by the government. I'm sure they will say they have no interest in looking at those things for the "good, law-abiding citizen", and they're only going to monitor criminal activity. While this may seem good "at face value", the fact that my financial details will be logged by the government, and may be viewed by a range of people that I have not authorized is worrying to me.

To everyone - TAKE ACTION NOW! If enough people make noise, there may be a possibility to stop a system that will cripple the internet for all Australians. And stopping the filter from being implemented now will be far easier than removing it once it is implemented.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Mitsubishi Evo Club in Canberra

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution car club was in Canberra this weekend. In the place I was staying, there were about 18 Evos parked in the garage. They started appearing around Thursday, and I assume most will be gone by the end of the day. I've seen examples from the Evo IV to the new Evo X. Here are some pics from the garage:
Evo 8MR and Evo 8Evo 7 and Evo 9
The top pic is of an Evo 8 MR and a regular Evo 8, and the lower image is of an Evo 7 and Evo 9.

I don't know what it is about japanese, 4 cylinder, charged, 4WD sedans that interests me so much, but I so want one! And currently, the Evo X looks far better than the WRX STI (even though I would jump at getting a RB320).

At least Senator Conroy thinks he is doing some good

There has been a lot of backlash, especially from the Information Technology (IT) sector of the public against the good Senator Conroy's cleanfeed internet filter. What is surprising to me is that this is now being picked up by more general members of the public.

I was speaking with a friend's wife, and she was opposed against the internet filter - even though she has children of her own. She still thinks that her education of her own children and her monitoring their web access is a far better solution that the government spending $44.2 million from the tax payers on a system which will be circumvented if that is the intent of the internet user. She has sent an email to the office of the good Senator Conroy, even going so far to say that she is a mother of 3, and opposes the idea (and you can see what I sent as well).

Why does the government think it can just put a band-aid solution on something and hope it fixes it - just to please a small minority of people? APCmag.com makes an interesting point in #5 - the support of this filter is proposed by people that do not make rational arguements. It's like a "bury the head in the sand" approach once the filter is implemented.

For anyone "sitting on the fence", research the topic, and do something about it!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Still no reply from the good Senator Conroy

Still no reply from the good Senator Conroy from my email to him a few days ago (although he has replied to the Sunrise program - read the comments from the readers as well). I wonder if he bothers reading them, or if he has a stock standard response that he is about to use to reply to me. If he has support for his scheme to filter internet traffic, then he should only be receiving a handful of emails or phone calls or written letters - and mainly from the supporters of "illegal content".

I will blog any response I get from him or his office, but until then, everyone should do their bit to stop internet censorship. Visit nocleanfeed.com and see what you can do!

Also, have a read of what others are thinking...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Senator Conroy addresses critics incorrectly

I have recently sent an email to the good Senator Conroy asking him to reconsider what he is doing with the internet filter. I hope his response will not be labelling me as a supporter of child pornography or terrorism.

Interestingly enough, he's attempted to silence people who have criticised him. Could be some pilot form of the cleanfeed filter he's trying to implement manually.

For those that are curious of what I sent (and you like to do the send an email as well, but don't know what to write), I've based it from the nocleanfeed.com template (which was written by someone at the Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc.):

Dear Minister,

As an Australian and an internet user, I have serious concerns about your mandatory Internet filtering initiative. On the 3.01.2008, I wrote to the Prime Minister, in which you later responded in a formal letter. Now I find myself writing again.

Given the importance your Government has attached to modernising Australia's broadband network, pursuing a policy that can only slow down and increase the costs of home internet access seems misguided at best. Australian households are diverse, and most do not have young children, so mandating a one-size-fits-all clean feed approach will not serve the public well. I don't think it is the Government's role to decide what's appropriate for me or my children, and neither do most Australians.

Given the amount of Internet content available, the Government (or your appointed publicly unscrutinised representatives) will never be able to classify it all and filters will always result in an unacceptable level of over-blocking. I feel that the time and money could be spent in better ways both to protect children and improve Australia's digital infrastructure. Australian parents need better education about the risks their children face on-line. Trying to rid the Internet of adult content is futile, and can only distract from that mission. I also find that the government is providing a false sense of security by telling parents their children are OK if they put their faith in your content filtering.

Your solution will NEVER replace good parenting - and that's what you should start addressing. Too much externalisation occurs, and it appears the onus of responsibility falls to entities outside the families. This should be addressed in an internet education campaign - not a band aid content filtering solution that is high in cost, crippling to speeds, and at best ineffective.

I love Australia, but your scheme makes me want to find somewhere else to live where my liberties are not dictated to me by a small select group of people, and that I can access information in its fullest potential. Either that, or vote for the next person that promises to reverse your initiative.

I welcome any further discussion, comments or queries with you, but please do not start by labelling me as a supporter of child pornography or terrorist. I currently am not, and never will be a supporter of child pornography or terrorism! That is a disgusting strategy employed by yourself or your staff. I can be contacted via the email address this communication is from, or via the phone number in the signature below.


You're more than welcome to copy that into your own email to forward to the good Senator Conroy at: minister -at- dbcde.gov.au and / or senator.conroy -at- aph.gov.au. The Creative Commons license I used for this blog does not apply to the email text I have quoted above - you do not have to attribute the work to me, but you should make your words copyable by others! Have a read of some of the other articles on this topic, and then feel free to add your bits to your own personal communications with the good Senator Conroy.

I'm sure he'll be happy to hear from you!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Well done Melbourne Victory and Boston Celtics!

Great weekend for me from a sports front! Melbourne Victory had a great win over Adelaide FC in Adelaide (3-2), and the Celtics have won both home games (against Cleveland, and against Chicago) of their new season.

For the moment, Victory are on top of the A-League ladder, and Celtics are undefeated in their division!

South Australian AG restricts freedoms

Along the lines of what I've been blogging all week (in the censorship of the internet by the Australian Government), another interesting facet of censorship has almost slipped past my radar - video game classification and censorship in Australia (yet another thing I've blogged about in the past).

It has recently been reported (on news.com.au) that the good South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has stopped any further discussions about allowing an R18+ category for video games in Australia. Australia (for those that don't know), is the only developed country that does not have this type of classification.

What does that mean? It means that based on the opinions and the subjective views of a small group of people, Australians will not be able to access some video games which are freely available to the rest of the world. Arguments have come out that "children need to be protected". Simply put - CENSORSHIP.

Are these the same children that are accessing child pornography on the internet at will? Are these the same children that are ordering bomb making devices and instruction manuals on the internet at will? I'd like to actually meet some of these children. And most importantly, since when did every single parent in this world attempt to externalise all the sources of their child's misbehaving? It appears that when a child is good, we all say that the parent must have raised it well - if the child is bad, then it must be the fault of drugs, video games, violent films, and other external forces. Parenting is on of the hardest jobs on the planet - I am not trying to downplay it at all, but I think parents should take responsibility for their child's education and reasoning.

Lastly, violent video games are also educational - as I've stated before on this blog. Additionally I do remember, a few months back, that the media tried to find a link between a school yard shooting and the Grand Theft Auto franchise of video games. Something leaked out that the game was to be blamed for the assailant using lethal force in the schoolyard. It was later reported that this was not the case, but in fact, the victim had access to Grand Theft Auto, and not the shooter. I guess as humans, we all try to find links, even when they do not exist.

If I find out someway to voice protest against the lack of an R18+ classification, I'll blog it here.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"