Archive for October, 2010

Living on Oxford Time

A couple years ago, the CBC produced a fun radio documentary about, mostly, the nature and history of… time.

Yes, time. The thing that makes the now of just then, then. Or the now of just then, now, depending on which way you look at things. The thing that keeps on slippin’ into the future.

Time.

It’s kind of surprisingly interesting, if you have an interest in science, history, math, or horology. I’ve uploaded a copy, if you’d like to listen to it: Just click here (23MB MP3 file).

Also, I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this or not, but a while ago I put together a (probably incomplete) list of moderately eclectic radio downloads I’ve put online over the years, which you can see right here. Hundreds of megabytes of goodness from the BBC, CBC, and elsewhere, all available to download or, probably, stream.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 28th, 2010 | No Comments »

Small-Arms Tactics: Reading Between the Lines

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently produced a short product on lone shooters and small-unit tactics as a threat to the United States, which was thoughtfully reproduced online by Public Intelligence.

For the most part, what it says isn’t very interesting – it basically regurgitates some rather banal details about high-profile criminal acts invoving firearms or simulated firearms in recent years, and then includes some very qualified statements disavowing knowledge of any plans or attempts to use such tactics in the future. On the surface, there’s nothing to see here; at a glance this looks no different than any of the other, superficially quite similar, documents that law enforcement in this country churn out on an almost daily basis.

Read between the lines, though, and see what isn’t mentioned, and it gets a bit more interesting.
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Published in: General, Security | on October 26th, 2010 | No Comments »

Who’s the Target Audience For a CDN, Anyway?

CDNs are fun, and in a very real sense vital to the conventional functioning of the World Wide Web. It used to be, though, that CDNs – specialty hosting services designed to deliver high-volume web (or streaming media) traffic – were exclusively the domain of really big companies – Top-500 websites, and that sort of thing.

Not for any real good technical reasons, mind, but because the prices tended to start, if you were lucky, at a couple hundred bucks a month, which put them beyond the reach of the little people.

Recently, that’s begun to change…
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 25th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Wikileaks and the ‘Iraq War Logs’

I remain suspicious and critical of nearly everything involving Wikileaks, and today’s big global media stunt, the orchestrated release of the “Iraq War Logs”, does little to dissuade my skepticism about them. Leaving aside the issues surrounding the material’s embargo, I can’t help but wonder what strings were attached to the access that selected news organizations around the world received to the messages in question. Will we ever know? I highly doubt it.

I find it extremely interesting that the main focus for the initial coverage of every news outlet (English-language, anyway…) that received advance access to these messages is not only all torture- and abuse-related, but also (very) eerily similar, right down to focusing on many of the same small set of incidents. Additionally, several of the stories I’ve read so far this afternoon have repeated certain identical (and sensationalist) factual mistakes – mistakes which should be very obvious to anyone even remotely familiar with the modern American military. This suggests to me either (extremely unlikely) collusion between the varied media outlets involved, or (much more likely) some overt and biased editorialization on the part of Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

I don’t want to particularly downplay the release of these records, though they really aren’t as stupendously groundbreaking as Wikileaks’ backers had promised – nor, indeed, as many are even now making them out to be. Nor am I convinced that the safety or well-being of anyone has been jeopardized by this release.

That said, I think that now more than ever, media outlets the world over need to take a long and careful look at Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and the relationships and agreements made between those two and the various global news organizations who simultaneously “broke” nigh-identical stories this afternoon. To put it bluntly, I smell a lot of rats, and I still think the time is long overdue for the man – Assange – and his organization – Wikileaks – who are so very, very fond of openness and transparency with regards entities (like the United States) whom they vehemently detest, to make some frank disclosures about their funding, operations, and relationships with media and other organizations around the globe.

Published in: Geekiness, General | on October 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

So, What’s Up With Ugov?

In October 2009, the DNI announced that the USG’s “Ugov” service would be terminated, apparently on the belief that it was an unpopular, pointless system that nobody actually used. That was incorrect, and a lot of people elsewhere in the government raised a stink, so the service got a six-month reprieve. Last I heard, the plan was to “explore alternatives”, but nuke the system somewhere in 2Q10.

The second quarter has come and gone… but ugov is still up, and there doesn’t appear to have ever been any sort of public announcement or discussion of any kind regarding its fate.

Anyone know what the current plans are? Is it still living on borrowed time? Or did the DNI grow a clue, and decide to spare the system?

Published in: General | on October 20th, 2010 | No Comments »