The Internet Has Not Changed – But Malcolm Has!

Oh, how the mighty will flip-flop when the political need arises – right?

The government has released a discussion paper through Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Attorney-General George Brandis, with a view towards having internet service providers police the illegal downloading of content.

“The Abbott government has moved to crack down on illegal downloading, saying internet service providers (ISPs) will be forced to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent it – including possible sanctions against offending customers.”

The Malcolm Turnbull who jointly released this ‘discussion paper’ is the same Malcolm Turnbull who – (after the so-called ‘iiTrial‘ was resolved in favour of the ISP, iiNet) – said this in April 2012:

“It is very, very, very difficult if not impossible for someone that is just selling connectivity, just providing bandwidth to then be monitoring what people are doing.”

So in 2012 this kind of monitoring was “very difficult” or “impossible” – but now it is something Turnbull and Brandis wish to impose upon ISPs, by way of law?

Is it suddenly “less impossible” to do this kind of detection?

BitTorrent – (overwhelmingly the most common way to download illegal content online) – and the internet traffic it generates is not necessarily difficult to detect. There have been tools around to detect it on your network for at least a decade.

So Turnbull was wrong about that in 2012; he would also be wrong about it in 2014 if it was still what he believed.

You see, the problem for anyone seeking to prosecute – (or even just warn or penalise) – someone for obtaining copyrighted material using BitTorrent, is that unless you actually subpoena the hard drive of the user that may contain the material and prove conclusively ownership of that hard drive and demonstrate that the material is actually there, evidence gained from network traffic can be quite circumstantial at best.

In a number of cases around the world, the IP address assigned to a user by their ISP has been found to not conclusively show that traffic associated with that IP address is necessarily associated with the account holder.

That is, just because traffic might have come from the IP address an ISP has assigned to your account, it does not necessarily mean it was you – the account holder – who generated the traffic.

There may be gigabytes of BitTorrent traffic coming through your router – but is it you generating it?

Is your neighbour leaching your wi-fi? Has someone spoofed your IP address to hide themselves from easy detection?

Sounds like reasonable doubt to me.

Some even suggest that you should open your wi-fi up to the public to create even more doubt – because “hey, my wi-fi is open, it could be anyone!”

Even if the government were able to come up with something workable – (I doubt they can) – the serious downloaders will just find another way. The problem will be forced even further underground.

A lot of time, money, effort, and grandstanding will have been wasted.

Further, the costs ISPs would have to bear to police this activity – (and to support proposed data retention activities) – would be passed onto consumers, and has been labelled “an internet tax“.

Kind of goes against Turnbull’s other pet theory of “more affordable internet for consumers”, doesn’t it?

It is interesting to note from the same Delimiter article from 2012, author Renai LeMay makes the following point:

“However, Turnbull’s statements this week don’t really give us any insight into what the Coalition’s actual policy is on this important issue.”

I guess we have that insight now – don’t we?

Most stupidly of all, even if Turnbull was right in 2012 about the difficulties – (read: “almost impossible”) – in policing this activity, why does he suddenly believe differently now?

Turnbull has flipped his stance, for nothing other than political convenience – and the potential and impending signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement feared by many advocates of online freedoms, and which contains many provisions pertaining to copyright.

But you know, I guess we shouldn’t expect anything less from Malcolm by now – right?

Sunday Nerding: Computer For Apollo

Back into space this week, with a discussion of the development by MIT of the navigational computer for the Apollo spacecraft that took man to the moon in the 1960′s.

Essendon Puts Bite On Bulldogs

WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 8.6 12.8 14.10 (94)
ESSENDON 4.2 7.5 10.7 15.11 (101)

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 5, Dahlhaus 2, Bontempelli 2, Hrovat, Macrae, Boyd, Redpath, Crameri
Essendon: Carlisle 8, Ryder 2, Ambrose, Colyer, Chapman, Dell’Olio, Winderlich

Western Bulldogs: Stringer, Macrae, Boyd, Wallis, Minson, Bontempelli, Murphy
Essendon: Carlisle, Hooker, Heppell, Ryder, Chapman, Hurley, Myers

Western Bulldogs: Wallis (ankle)
Essendon: Hibberd (quad)

Western Bulldogs: Adam Cooney replaced Liam Picken in the third term
Essendon: Corey Dell’Olio replaced Ben Howlett in the third term

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Nicholls, Chamberlain, Ryan

Official crowd: 34,476 at Etihad Stadium

Sunday Nerding: The Phone Phreakers

The exact definition of what is or is not a hacker is constantly evolving, and it is perhaps true that an exact definition will never be found.

Today, a look at phone phreaking, one of the early most forms of what could really be called ‘hacking’, through the exploits of John Draper, Steve Wozniak and Kevin Mitnick.

This documentary is some years old, so contextually it is a bit out of place in 2014, but is still a fascinating insight into early hacker culture.

Essendon Crushes The Magpies

ESSENDON 4.0 8.1 14.1 16.7 (103)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 2.6 4.9 5.9 (39)

Essendon: Carlisle 4, Ambrose 3, Chapman 3, Z Merrett 2, Stanton, Daniher, Zaharakis, Hocking,
Collingwood: Beams 2, Young, Seedsman, Lumumba

Essendon: Carlisle, Chapman, Stanton, Heppell, Z Merrett, Ambrose, Hooker
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Beams, Pendlebury, Williams

Essendon: Nil
Collingwood: Maxwell (left ankle)

Essendon: Corey Dell’Olio replaced Jason Winderlich at three-quarter time
Collingwood: Ben Kennedy replaced Clinton Young in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Margetts, Schmidt

Official crowd: 58,992 at the MCG

Sunday Nerding: Commodore 64

Back to my computing roots this week, with the Commodore 64.

This computer came into my family in September of 1984, and I was hooked from day one – and ultimately, it became the foundation of my career in computing.

Some of my first breakout computing moments happened on this machine.

Like being told off in Year 11 for writing chemistry practical reports on it, but not being able to print subscript characters in chemical equations. I was told to “fix it”, or hand in hand-written reports only.

I saw this as a backward step – the solution?

I wrote my own print driver that could do the subscript and superscript characters that the standard print drivers that came with my word processing package couldn’t do.

I also had a flashback watching this program – I was a user of the GEOS operating system mentioned near the start. Using the desktop publishing features it describes – (and some of my own programming) – almost everything I did in my Year 11 and Year 12 studies was done on computer, and presented quite uniquely.

I just went through a lot of ribbon cartridges on my Okimate MCS-810 printer in the process!

Perhaps the crowning glory for my Commodore 64 was a Year 11 maths assignment, where we were given a task to use one of the several ancient methods for calculating the value of Pi.

Everyone else used paper pads, pens, and hand calculators to roll through the various methods and come up with theories on what the value would be if they went through right to the end.

I wrote 10 lines of BASIC code on a Friday night and went to bed.

By Sunday afternoon, the computer had processed 167,949 iterations through the formula, and delivered me a value for Pi that matched my theory for what it would be.

I got the best mark of the whole year level for that assignment.

I still have my Commodore 64 in a box in a cupboard – the last time I tried it, it still worked, though the sound chip seemed to have died.

Ahh, memories.

Turnbull Dismally Fails First NBN Test

It has been a pretty common refrain from Malcolm Turnbull that the management of the National Broadband Network project by the previous government was “pathetic” – both before and after the previous election in September 2013.

Count how many times he uses that exact word in this transcript.

Morever, how about this quote?

“This is a project that they said when they published their corporate plan at the end of 2010 they said that by June 30 this year they would have passed and been able to connect by June 30 this year, 950,000 premises in brown field areas, built-up areas.”

“They in fact passed about 160,000 of which only a bit more than two thirds are able to get a connection if they actually asked for it. So there’s 33,000 customers connected to the fibre after four years I mean it’s pathetic.”

Turnbull promised us an NBN that would be “faster, cheaper, and sooner“, should the Coalition have come to power in the 2013 election.

Oh really?

“Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN plan is in tatters after revelations in a Senate hearing today that not a single user has been connected to its Fibre to the Node trial, despite announcing the pilot nine months ago.”

Not one?

Not even ONE?

Surely even 33,000 is a far better result than a big fat zero?

There have also been plenty of technical hurdles, that have yet to be overcome:

“In Senate Estimates last month, NBN Co chief operations officer Greg Adcock explained that a delay in the Epping trial was due to power supply issues for the nodes.”

“”The Epping trial in Victoria has slowed down a bit, while we work with the utility there to find a power solution. We’re working through that,” he said.”

“Close to a month later, a spokesperson for NBN Co told ZDNet that discussions with a utility in Victoria to gain sufficient power supply for the nodes were still “ongoing” with no timeline provided for where the trial will commence.”

No timeline?


One should remember that the previous fibre-to-the-premises model would not have had this issue, as there would have been no powered elements in the distribution network – (the fibre cables in each and every street) – but Turnbull’s move to the technically inferior fibre-to-the-node model has introduced this problem to an already complicated system.

If they can’t get power for just a single trial in a single suburb without striking difficulty, how many issues are they going to have getting power to 80,000 or more nodes across the entire country?

Does he really think this will be an isolated occurrence?

It won’t be – and the previous model would have completely avoided it – not to mention the cost involved with actually having his nodes consume power over the life of the network.

Turnbull has failed his first test on delivering his “faster, sooner, cheaper” NBN.


The Doodle, Carrie Bickmore, And Her Pectorals

There was much laughing today when Carrie Bickmore was seen to be both holding and displaying a doodle on national television.

Though perhaps a silly practical joke played on her by the crew, I got more of a laugh out of this placement of the story this afternoon on The Age website, immediately above another (possibly) provocative image:

Perfectly matching a male torso, with her head and shoulders!

Possibly trolling by The Age, but still humourous.