Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Archive for the category “General”

Kevin Mitnick doesn't travel light

Uber hacker Kevin Mitnick recently found himself detained after a trip to Colombia. The CNet article describes how Kevin felt. Personally, my jaw hit the floor when the article listed what was in his luggage: two laptops, a UMPC, three or four harddrives (I wonder where the confusion comes from), three iPhones and four Nokia cell phones. That is criminal in itself.
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Kevin Mitnick detained, released after Colombia trip

In his luggage, they found a MacBook Pro, a Dell XPS M1210 laptop, an Asus 900 mini-laptop, three or four hard drives, numerous USB storage devices, some Bluetooth dongles, three iPhones, and four Nokia cell phones (with different SIM cards for different countries).
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Peer2peer software not automatically infringing

The Center for Democracy & Technology asks the court in a case against Limewire not to deem peer2peer software illegal simply because illegal use is possible.

I would say this should be blatantly obvious, especially in a country where people wear t-shirts with “People kill people, not guns”.

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Center for Democracy and Technology

Working for Democratic Values in a Digital Age

Legal Brief Stresses Proper Limits of Secondary Copyright Liability
CDT, joined by groups from EFF to ITAA, told a federal court today that the law requires caution in assessing whether to impose copyright liability on the makers of multi-use technologies. In a legal brief filed in a lawsuit against the peer-to-peer file sharing service LimeWire, CDT and its allies did not take sides but rather urged the court to decide the case within the careful framework established by previous Supreme Court cases in this area. Those cases make clear that distributing a technology with “substantial noninfringing uses” should not raise rise copyright liability concerns, as long as the distributor does not actively promote the technology’s use for infringement. Reinterpreting or expanding secondary copyright liability in ways that undermine this crucial limitation, the brief warned, it could significantly chill technological innovation. September 26, 2008

  • Amicus Brief
    September 26, 2008
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    A touch of irony: uTorrent for Mac leaked on The Pirate Bay

    I can only consider it a touch of irony that a program that rose to popularity due to the need to have a good program to dowload Linux distributions and legal music/movies (none of the illegal stuff, no doubt) has already been pirated. On the PIrate Bay one can find an alpha version of uTorrent for the Mac. Oh, uTorrent isn’t open source….
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    uTorrent For Mac Makes Its Way to The Pirate Bay

    In what will surely make every BitTorrent lover jump for joy, a rough alpha version of uTorrent for the Mac has surfaced on The Pirate Bay and BitTorrent isn’t too happy about it.

    uTorrent, which was acquired by BitTorrent in 2006, has always been a Windows-only service. But ever since the acquisition, BitTorrent has promised that uTorrent would be coming to the Mac. For almost two years, Mac users have waited for uTorrent to make an appearance and it finally has — much to the dismay of BitTorrent.

    Speaking to TorrentFreak, BitTorrent’s product development VP Simon Morris said the leaked alpha version is not for public use and those that try it out should be warned that it’s still in development.

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    Sanity on Linux security

    Ah, this is one article to my liking. No “Linux is secure, so why bother” but some down-to-earth sane advice on Linux security. Or do you think all those security applications wound up in the repositories by accident?
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    Keeping your Linux safe – How security is not always what you think. Or maybe it is

    So, what’s an admin to do? Be it a server or network at home or in a small business, heck, even at the enterprise level, there is no shortage of advice on how to handle security.

    Meaning. Start at the basics. Begin with practices and habits. Don’t be lazy, use secure passwords, don’t write them down. Exercise that flabby memory!

    There are lots of great, cool tools and apps to help secure and tighten down a system. They do absolutely no good though, if you don’t use them. Take the time to read how they work. Install them. USE them.

    Remember, just as in securing a home or office, if someone wants in bad enough they will find a way in. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, how many tools you use, locks you install. Greed and desperation are fierce opponents. Never think you are impenetrable.

    What does that mean? Never let your guard down.
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    New Lobbying group calls for internet filtering

    The Threat Level blog runs an article about Arts+Labs, a new group of industry lobbyists that think net neutrality isn’t the right way to go.
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    Threat Level

    New Lobbying Group Calls for Internet Filtering

    A just-formed lobbying group of content producers, equipment makers and internet gatekeepers said Thursday that internet service providers should embrace filtering.

    Behind the lobby are AT&T, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, NBC Universal,
    Viacom and the Songwriters Guild of America. Among other things, the
    lobby, called Arts+Labs, says “network operators must have the flexibility to manage and
    expand their networks to defend against net pollution and illegal
    file-trafficking which threatens to congest and delay the network for
    all consumers.”

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    Edit Wiki pages with a Firefox button

    ReadWriteWeb pointed my attention to a new extension for Firefox. Now, there is no shortage of extensions, but this one is developed by various wiki providers and allows you to edit wiki pages with the click of a simple button. A nice one for the wiki warriors out there.
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    The Universal Edit Button is currently a green pencil icon wiki.png in the URL bar that indicates a web page is editable. It is similar to the orange “broadcast” RSS icon ExampleRSS.png that indicates there is an RSS feed available.
    To see the universal edit button in your browser, you will need to download this Firefox extension, (installation notes). In time, we hope that browsers will support the Universal Edit Button directly, as they have done for RSS feeds.


    Universal Edit Button
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    Firefox 3 Download Day

    Amazing! The counter for first-day download is already over 3,4 million. And while I am typing these few lines another 50.000 where added.

    Download Day 2008

    How to migrate from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3

    Carsten Knobloch, who is responsible for quite a few German localized portable applications and my portable edition of Flock, wrote an article about the steps to take when moving on the Firefox 3. His suggestion: secure what needs to be secured and start with a fresh installation and a new profile.

    The articles deals with:
    1. Exporting all your passwords,
    2. Exporting your bookmarks and
    3. Importing these in Firefox 3 again.

    The article is in German, but well illustrated so even if German isn’t your language you should be able to follow the instructions.

    Firefox 3 – was muss ich beim Umstieg beachten? | Caschys Blog

    Ubuntu 8.04 W2L edition is getting there

    While writing the book “Probleemloos overstappen op Linux” last year, we build a custom version of Ubuntu 7.04 (and later Ubuntu 7.10). The tool of choice was Reconstructor and I was looking forward to using it again for Ubuntu 8.04. Unfortunately, the development of Reconstructor hasn’t progressed enough to support Hardy Heron. What alternatives are

    One solution was provided by TheeMahn, the builder of Ubuntu Ultimate Edition. It’s pretty neat and it’s worth looking into. One other tool is UCK, the Ubuntu Customization Kit. It’s a GUI tool, but the interface allows for minimal customization only.

    The main problem I have with creating the W2L edition is the fact that installing kubuntu-desktop, edubuntu-desktop, xubuntu-desktop and the ubuntustudio-desktop seriously messes up the interface. In the end I want the vanilla Ubuntu desktop. And it would be nice to clean up the menu, because with all the applications you tend loose sight of what is available.

    Enter Remastersys. First off, Remastersys wasn’t created to allow the building of custom Ubuntu disks. The developer is quite adamant about it in the forum, so I’d better mention it here as well. It’s a backup utility with the option to create a distributable version of your desktop, without the personal information.

    So, I started with a clean Ubuntu 8.04 install, modified the software repositories to my needs and started installing the packages for the W2L edition. As expected, the UbuntuStudio desktop took over, but it took about ten minutes to re-create the vanilla desktop (I got some coffee during that time as well).

    The next problem was the list of kernels. UbuntuStudio comes with the rt-kernel which doesn’t allow for a live boot. I don’t need it for the W2L edition, so out it went. The generic kernel was updated and Remastersys doesn’t seem to like two kernel. The old one had to go as well.

    Problem 3 was making sure the changes to the interface would stick. Without intervention Remastersys would build a dvd with the UbuntuStudio desktop as default. The solution was to copy the configuration folders and files to the /etc/skel/ folder. I saw a passing reference to it and dugg a bit deeper. As far as I understand now, the /etc/skel/ folder contains all files and folders that you want for every new user. And it works!

    With the look and feel problem out of the way, I am left with a few things. One, Remastersys creates a dvd with it’s own boot screen (GRUB) and not the vanilla Ubuntu option with which you can select your language and keyboard. Second, I now have a dvd without the wubi installer. This needs to be added to the iso. I need to check all the copied files in /etc/skel/ to make sure no personal information is there, but -as far as I can see- that was only minor now.

    So, give or take a few days, I should be able to finish Ubuntu 8.04 W2L edition in the first week of July. 😉

    Dutch Parliament to use open source software

    Okay, it’s a small and very secure step, but Dutch MP’s will start using open source software that runs from an encrypted USB drive. So, a couple of years after the Dutch parliament decided that open source and opens standards was the way to go and almost three quarters of a year after the government published it’s roadmap to achieve it, we finally have a very tentative step towards actually using the software.

    Mind you, it’s only a pilot project

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    De Tweede Kamer is begonnen met het verdelen van USB-sticks met opensourcesoftware erop. De stick bevat OpenOffice.Org, Firefox en een PDF-reader genaamd Sumatra.

    De Open Source-pilot duurt tot het najaar, aldus enkele medewerkers van het project. Kamerleden, Kamer medewerkers en andere werkende bij de Tweede Kamer hebben een dergelijke USB-stick gekregen.

    SP-Tweede kamerlid Arda Gerkens geeft aan dat men ook thuis de USB-stick kan gebruiken, er zit namelijk encryptie software op. De dienst automatisering heeft de USB-sticks uitgedeeld.

    Eind dit jaar komt de standaard desktop aan de beurt, zo meldt Gerkens. “De wens van de Tweede Kamer om meer open source te gebruiken speelt hier een rol, net als uiteraard het actieplan van staatssecretaris Frank Heemskerk.”, Heemskerk heeft al aangegeven meer overheden en bedrijven op open source te willen zien.
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