Monthly Archives: December 2005

Security as Brakes

Gunnar Peterson has an interesting analogy. Internet security is like brakes on a car. Good brakes let us drive faster. Good security lets us do more and faster.

Furthermore, building security in saves spending more time and effort later adding it on, just like you want brakes to come with the car, rather than having to drag your feet to stop it.


Historical Externalities

While it may seem that in times of unusual external threats that it is necessary to take extroadinary measures to protect democracy, it’s also possible to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Today, when the White House lawyers seem preoccupied with contriving a way to stem the flow of possible lawsuits from former detainees, I strongly recommend that they think about another flood of suits, from the men and women in your armed services or the CIA agents who have been or will be engaged in CID practices. Our rich experience in Russia has shown that many will become alcoholics or drug addicts, violent criminals or, at the very least, despotic and abusive fathers and mothers.

Torture’s Long Shadow, By Vladimir Bukovsky Washington Post Sunday, December 18, 2005; Page B01

The above is an externality that I don’t recall seeing mentioned anywhere else. The writer has direct personal experience with this effect. There’s more.

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Welcome Back Typepad

As you may have heard, typepad, which hosts this and many other blogs, has been offline for several days. It seems they had a disk problem and had no live backups.

On the one hand, one can attribute this to the wildly growing popularity of blogs.

On the other, it looks like a classic case of everyone knowing that backups are essential, but actual practice lagging a big.

And one can note, as David Berlind does, that if blogs were kept in a standard open format it would be easy to move among blogging platforms.

Me, I have a new policy of exporting a backup of my entire blog every time I post something.


P2P Traffic: How Much

How much of Internet traffic is P2P filesharing? If you believe CacheLogic, more than half. But is that correct?

Peter Sevcik in the November BCR Magazine points out that it would be good to have more than one source, especially when the source sells devices to measure such numbers. Peter also calls for government oversight and record keeping, at least as much as the FCC already does for voice. Continue reading

Internet emergency reponse predicted

Here’s an interesting item in Jeff Pulver’s predictions for 2006:
8) Hurricanes such as Katrina and other natural disasters in the U.S. and around the world will compel the U.S. and other governments to look to the Internet and IP-based communications as the vehicle to improve emergency response and post-catastrophe communications.
2006 Predictions for IP Communications Industry: Coffee Talk with Jeff Pulver 6 December 2005

Considering the FCC has already announced a Homeland Security Bureau for this and related purposes, that prediction seems likely.


Katrina Side Effects

Of the half a million people displaced by Katrina, about half don’t want to go back, even though Mayor Nagin went to Atlanta and tried to persuade many evacuees there to come back. That leaves about 250,000 people displaced, and several states holding the bag for integrating them into new locations. The state with the most evacuees is not Louisiana: it’s Texas. Side effects ripple much farther out than that. While I was in New Zealand recently, a common topic was Katrina: how sorry everyone was that it happened, and how NZ people expected their insurance rates to go up because their insurers had been telling them they would. This makes sense, since insurers for the affected areas will probably have to call on their reinsurers, causing the reinsurers, which are typically worldwide, to raise their rates, affecting insurers globally.

So the side effects of lack of preparation for a known risk include not only more than a thousand people dead and more than a hundred billion U.S. dollars in economic damages, but also a quarter million people displaced and higher insurance rates in countries on the far side of the world. A stitch in time (or better levee foundations) would have saved nine.


Contentious Wireless NOLA

No sooner had New Orleans announced a municipal wireless network than Bellsouth withdrew a donation of a building for a new police headquarters.

I wonder if Bellsouth had gotten their DSL net back up or offered a wireless service of their own whether NOLA would have gone ahead with a municipal wireless network? I can understand how Bellsouth might be upset about loss of revenue, but when will the big mini-Bells recognize that the spread of municipal or even wireless Internet networks is a market demand appearing because they haven’t provided access to the potential customers at a price the market will bear?


Wireless NOLA

Meanwhile, back in the states, Intel, Tropos, and Pronto donated equipment to make a city-wide wireless network in New Orleans. Here’s an interesting map showing current status of Bellsouth’s telephone and DSL networks in New Orleans. Looks like a wireless network is easier to deploy quickly than DSL….

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Airline Security Theater Considered Harmful

Bruce Schneier points out in Wired that not only is airline security such as is currently supplied by TSA is mostly security theater to make people feel better rather actually do anything to make them safer (he’s said that before), but he also listed numerous other problems and proposed what to do instead. I’ve got a few further suggestions.

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