UK technology trains of thought...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

New Year, New Job

Merry xmas! In January I shall be looking for a contract role. If you know anyone that needs a Process Improvement Consultant, or a strong Test / Quality Manager - get in touch!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Google Homepage API

As I mentioned previously I am keen to get the latest tube information on my google personalised homepage.

Google has just launched an API to let you add your own widgets to your page, which looks more than capable of supporting this. It looks astoundingly simple, but I had a bit of a play and development environment makes it very hard to debug... so I gave up at the first hurdle. Once I get it working I should be able to publish the module this space.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Copyfighting & Data Retention - Part 2

They approved it. Two things I forgot to mention:

* This also includes tracking the location of mobile phones when calls are made and received. If you frequently use a mobile phone (doesn't everyone?) This means that the government will have access to your movements.

* The music industry could save a lot of time going through my emails by looking down the sidebar of this blog :)

Copyfighting & Data Retention

In the last few hours, the EU will have voted on the implementation of Data Retention for telcos and ISPs across Europe. Apparently they are likely to stop short of covering e-mail, thanks to intervention by Green Party MEPs. This is expected to be covered in a future parlimentary amendment though.

The impact of this is that the ISPs and the Telcos will need to retain all data for 6 - 12 months. At a pretty high cost I expect, although there is an amendment on the table for national governments to fund it.

This is all happening to increase the intel available to security agencies, and I'm not fundementally opposed to this sort of thing with the proper controls in place, but they quite clearly are not. As the BBC pointed out some time ago, the music industry is also entitled to this information.

The reason this is possible is because the legislation applies to anything that falls under the list of ’serious’ criminal offences listed in the EU Arrest Warrant legislation. This includes file-sharing and copyright abuse. So, this means that if I have downloaded a single MP3 over the internet, the EU can analyse all my phone records (and email, in the future) for at least the last six months...

This is not the only example of lawmakers being driven by the RIAA / MPAA recently:
  • The DMCA in the US has had a lot of impact and was clearly driven by the industry. One interesting fact is that the recent Sony BMG root kit scandal, that potentially destroys your CD-ROM drive if you are trying to copy your own music; is ILLEGAL to remove under the DMCA. Rock, hard place anyone?
  • The French have also been suckered in. They are going to ban any software that is capable of playing multimedia and does not have DRM (digital rights management; i.e. extra software to stop you doing what you want with the content) built in. Even more amazingly, the French Department of Culture have said:
Friday November 18th, 2005, French Department of Culture. SNEP and SCPP have told Free Software authors: "You will be required to change your licenses." SACEM add: "You shall stop publishing free software," and warn they are ready "to sue free software authors who will keep on publishing source code" should the "VU/SACEM/BSA/FA Contents Department"[1] bill proposal pass in the Parliament.

This means that ALL free software will be illegal. FFS.

Of course we do have one victory under our belt, the EU Software Patents legislation. I am absolutely amazed that campaigners managed to get across the concepts under discussion to the MEPs and overwhelmingly stop the legislation. I am we will lose out in the long term as firms like Microsoft throw their weight into the counter-lobby.

I find it somewhat amazing how malleable governments appear to be to large industry. I understand that we are all capitalists (willingly, or not) - but will somebody please explain to the EU that there is a difference between fundementalist copyfighters and fundementalist terrorists?? I'm off to uninstall SoulSeek - can't be doing with Guatanomo Bay.

On a more serious note, there is a new group set up in the UK called the Open Rights Group - formed specifically (on PledgeBank interestingly) to fight these sort of initiatives. I'm sure they would appreciate contributions to their fund.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

London Underground Travel News

I was just pondering my personalised google home page. I have decided the thing I want most is London Underground realtime travel news.

This would be a no-brainer if TfL provided an RSS feed of the routes I travel on. They already know my regular routes because I have SMS alerts set up for early morning problems. Even better would be the update board from here. Equivalent to the board they have in the stations. I wonder if this could be done through one of these portlet contraptions I've been hearing a lot about in Application Management / Governance applications.

Does anyone know of any useful, free, public domain portlets, or portlet containers?

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Property in France