Tor, (or The Onion Router) is a service which connects people all over the world with one aim: privacy. Tor protects from traffic analysis, basically where you have been. Benn to you Banks website? Feel like buying something off Amazon or Ebay? Your behaviour online is by no means private, you hand over your numerical address, browser details, country, city, versions of which plugins you use, where you came from, just to name a few. You may have seen on sites something to the effect of “Welcome Google user!”, that website knows exactly what you typed to get to it. Tor routes your online activity through different computers, for example mine went through an educational institution in the US and an Internet Service Provider in the Netherlands.
But if you want privacy you have something to hide! Not true. You don’t hand over records of everywhere you go in reality, nor documents, or details of medical conditions etc., their is a genuine use case for privacy in the modern world which is sadly being eroded. I just watched ABC news repeat on Sky News, and it reported of the FBI sending letters out asking for information from librarys, banks and every institution inbetween. It involved no court, no checks and balances, nothing. Tor is also used by the law itself, to conceal government surveillance of illegal activity (for example, child pornography). So not only is Tor needed, but it can extend to everything online, Instant Messaging. Tor limits abuse with a high degree of success and it is cross platform, on Linux, Windows and Mac. Get it here: Tor.eff.org
Just like software. it can be really useful to open source other things in life, collaboration is nearly always a good thing. John Buckman, CEO of Magnatune Records knows this principle all too well. He gave a speech at a Red Hat conference a while back, and he talked about the importance of music artists sharing the “source”, i.e. basically sharing the method of how the produced the music in the first place. This allows easier mixing, and a higher chamnce your work could be featured on TV or in a film, and you get paid
- the open source model applied to music.
I am trying this technique with Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Once it was launched for Google for your domain, I immeadiatley searched for files to put on it, unfortunately, I had no such luck, all my files were pdfs! I stumbled across my regular writely account (old Google Docs and Spreadsheets), and found some files I had forgotten all about. I shared my CV with some family members, and already I am getting real good feedback, I wonder what else the open source model ccan be applied to? See Red Hats intriguing “Truth Happens” advert:
I found this doing a search for Domino Records DRM. I looked up some of my favourite artists to see if they were part of the “MAFIAA” that is the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), not surprisingly some were (70% of sold music worldwide is put out by this cartel). I got rather confused when a Franz Ferdinand album appeared on the list, when their debut album did not. Seems the record label did a deal with Sony for distribution. I found a piece of information quite old now (May 2006), but interesting anyway:
“Opponents also challenge the idea that back catalogue revenues provide investment for new ventures and to support new artists. Peter Jameson of the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) argued in The Guardian on 24 April that such investment had contributed to a boom in new British music, citing artists such as Arctic Monkeys, James Blunt and Kaiser Chiefs. However, Arctic Monkeys are with Domino Records, which was founded in 1993 and rarely re-releases records that predate itself, and James Blunt was signed by the US label Custard Records, which was set up only in 2004 and so has little back catalogue material to release; the same is true of Kaiser Chiefs, who are signed to B-Unique, which was also founded in 2004. Those are hardly good examples of recording companies that rely on significant revenue from the back catalogue profits that would be under threat if we were to stick at the 50-year copyright term.” ( Via Digital Rights Network and associated other sources)
Just a note on the new look, hope you like it. I am very fortunate to be running Wordpress, the world’s best blogging tool (and it is open source). I looked up the fabulous theme site to go with it, and I came across this one and liked it very much. The last design was my own, but I had awful trouble implementing to look the same in all browsers (especially Internet Explorer, even the latest one, argh). I know the old one can be improved, so I am submitting to WP Themes directory, which I will update this post with the link. I love the new theme, it brings what I couldn’t to the old one: choosable colours and sameness across browsers. I’d like to thank Justin Winslow for that! Did I mention that the exact same colours are used in this theme? It brings a total different look though, the power of perception! So now you know these are the official DF’s colours!
Further to this, I appreiciate the way posts (on their own page) now take up the whole page. I don’t know about all of you, but I hate intrusive sidebars. Sidebars in general are a necessary evil (for navigating the site!), but I am also happy this design is more “ergonomic”. I have also added one more adblock, so now the top and bottom of posts will feature ads by Google. While I don’t make a lot of money at all, every bit goes towards my costs and promotes two software packages I recommend personally anyway: Firefox and Google Pack. I see this as a win-win situation, so I hope readers won’t mind. The ads in the sidebar should no longer feature any Microsoft advertisements, as I have done my best to filter them through the competitive ad filter. Microsoft’s policy on just about (almost) everything is contrary to my opinion, so I don’t feel I should give them exposure. But credit where credits due, hopefully when I see good things I’ll write about it!
I have one of those new Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, as many of you know I was one of the first to buy its predecessor, the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. What do I think? Well I have put of writing this for 4 days, as I wanted to really test it out. Before I start, I should say I was part of the Nokia Developer Device program, and I got the Nokia N800 at a big discount, €300 off the €399 retail price in fact. Under headings below I will take about the N800, and compare it to the 770:
This sees an improvement in the N800 alright, as it is meant for standby. The N770 hadn’t got great battery life really at all, so it seems Nokia payed more attention to the fact it is a communications device, and like phones it needs the juice for use! I guess part of this is that they cut out lots of unesscessary stuff from the Linux kernels boot up, as the device also boots way faster, and has more of a touch a button and your in business type-of-feel.
Ergonomics & Design:
This is a dissapointment on the N800. It looks nice, all the buttons on the front are okay, but the ones on top are disastrous. I bet a marketing person, or a designer who knows nothing (but should) about ergonomics got a hold of it. It feels like buttons on a phone at the top of the N800, hunched together as they have no room. I wouldn’t complain if I didn’t use these so often, but they are used by almost every program you want to use on the N800! The N770 had much better idea, spaced out the Zoom (+ & -), fullscreen (on/off) and the power button.
Still relatively the same as the N770, yet Nokia have modified software so that it will accept Bluetooth keyboards, headsets(? Haven’t tried) and other devices officially through the control panel on the device. This marks a push by Nokia to sell all of these when you are buying the N800, which is an improvement in my eyes.
Big improvement here, the N800 not only accepts paltry RS-MMC cards, but SD amongst others. Not only that but the device has two memory card slots, each capable of 2GB cards. The N770 recieved critiscism for using a format not widely in distribution (RS-MMC), so they listened to what the feedback was. Now its a snap for me to swap in my camera’s SD card and look at those photos on the move!
Also a huge improvement. The N800 comes with 128mb RAM, and it shows. Since I have had the device, I had as much as ten windows open (Browser, RSS Reader, Maemo Mapper, Media Streamer etc) and it ran like as smooth as any device I have ever used. I guess they are really optimising the software for the platform, which shows, like in the boot time above. The N770 had 64mb, a slower processor and you felt it. It did what it was supposed to, but under 4-5 windows it would screech to a halt, not good for a tablet. You had to resort to memory swapping applications (basically using the memory card as RAM).
Web Browsing & Messaging:
Web Browsing seems the same as the N770, it mighty be faster, but that could be due to RAM. A huge dissapointment is no Flash 9, which means no Youtube or other flash content. Did I mention this is a huge mistake? People who buy these devices expect their favourite websites to just work, so a big thumbs down on that front, but hopefully it will be fixed. Messaging is superb on the N800, and its touchscreen thumb keyboard is a joy to use. I feel I could type faster on it given enough time compared to a real keyboard, so this is definately good. I am a big fan of Google Talk and open standards jabber, so I love the voice calling part of it. It seems crisp, clear and almost as good as normal phone. I have tried a video call, and well it is not as good as I expected. The camera doesn’t seem good quality, but it serves ita purpose. I tried Nokia Video call feature, and well it was also not good. It dropped voice, video was grainy and the software not on the N800 was for PC only, not Linux or Mac. I guess this is because Nokia don’t own a messaging service, but I have one piece of advice: don’t bother. Better leave the messaging to people in the know, like Skype. Although Skype is against everything I believe in (open standards) its inclusion in the N800 gives better choice, and should be welcomed.
Personal Information Management:
A big let down I am afraid. Being a Mac user, I expect seamless integration of contacts and syncing. Maybe Nokia’s PC suite works with the N800, I have’t tried. But that said, why doesn’t it sync with my Nokia 6234 phone? With GoogleTalk set to include SIP calling, and Skype has SkypeOut, I need an easy way to reach all my numbers, to avoid my mobile phone networks high prices! I don’t think they worked on PIM features since the 770, and it shows. This is fundamental to a communications device!
Overall, the N800 is a nice device and a definate improvement on the 770, but I have a few software and device design issues. I understand their is limitations in price (what market will accept) and that maybe Nokia were on a deadline, release something after Christmas to boost sales which I imagine level off. That said the N800 is not a PDA, or a phone, so what is it? A tiny laptop? This one I think even confuses Nokia, but I like it. It makes the Internet Tablet range stand out, and they mean different things to different people. I give it 7.5/10 which can rise to a nine if Nokia fix some issues!
Read another great review by Luis Villa on Planet Gnome.
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