Most popular posts of 2012

Is it that time of year already? Yes, it is. This is the first in a series of posts looking back at what I’ve done and how people reacted, being a list of the most-read posts on this website from 2012.

Like last year, there’s not a lot to choose from because most of my writing is done elsewhere these days. Indeed, there are very few posts apart from the Weekly Wrap posts and the Conversations podcast that contains the radio and TV spots I do. That means some rather mundane pieces of writing, such as the Weekly Wrap, end up on the list. I intend to change this in 2013.

  1. Twitter screwed up TweetDeck, so here’s the old version, being a place to download the old Adobe AIR version of the popular Twitter client, the last one before Twitter screwed it up.
  2. Weekly Wrap 101: Codeine and counter-surveillance. I’ve no idea why this routine post proved more popular than usual.
  3. Two casually racist encounters concerning Auburn, the first item on the list that’s something like the essay-style blog posts I used to do.
  4. Flame gets me talking cyberwar worms on The Project, containing video of my first appearance on the Channel TEN program, The Project.
  5. cPanel’s new EULA: more software industry arrogance?, in which I complain that it’s a bit rich to present a new end-user license agreement at the moment new software is being installed on a production server.
  6. Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?, an essay that continued my thoughts from that week’s Patch Monday podcast.
  7. Separated at birth: Bob Katter and Ben Grubb?, which is reasonably self-explanatory.
  8. Talking new internet domains on ABC RN Sunday Extra, which is also self-explanatory.
  9. Weekly Wrap 118: Planes, pains and delays
  10. Twitter Discourse 1: Fuck off, swearing is my birthright. I never did get around to writing Twitter Discourse 2.

Continue reading “Most popular posts of 2012”

Weekly Wrap 125: Intelligence and infection

It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was dealing with snow because this week, Monday 22 to Sunday 28 October 2012, included a day of working at Manly beach.

As you’ll read in a moment, it also included a series of digs at Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence communities. And it wrapped up on Saturday with the discovery that I’ve been suffering from a rather nasty throat infection. Which explains why I was so tired and irritable.

Penicillin to the rescue!

Podcasts

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

The week begins tonight with a midnight recording for this week’s Patch Monday podcast. Then I have to complete a story for Technology Spectator by 1000 AEDT before wrapping up Patch Monday. And then I catch the train to Sydney.

I’m then staying in Sydney overnight so I can be at Microsoft’s Tuesday morning breakfast briefing on Windows Phone 8, and after that the rest of the week is as yet unplanned. Chaos is my friend. Stand by.

[Photo: Freelancing, a picture of my working environment on Thursday. That’s the Steyne Hotel overlooking the beach at Manly in Sydney.]

ASIO’s got it easy, says terrorism expert

“ASIO don’t seem to realise how privileged they are compared to intel orgs in other Western democracies,” tweeted terrorism researcher Andrew Zammit (pictured) yesterday.

Zammit is a researcher at the Global Terrorism Research Centre (Monash University) and Australian Policy Online (Swinburne University), and he was responding to my blog post from yesterday, “Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?” and the attached podcast.

Here are his subsequent tweets, turned into continuous prose:

CIA for example has ongoing congressional oversight (of actual operations) as opposed to our occasional parl[iamentary] inquiries, people can FOI CIA docs only a few years old (ASIO has 20-30 year exemption) and some of the CIA’s analytical roles are transparent, as in analysts will have CIA business cards whereas even an ASIO kitchen hand’s identity will be kept secret. And CIA isn’t even a domestically-focused agency. So yes, ASIO needs to be less precious about being asked questions.

I agree. From the perspective of the United States I’m a foreign national, yet I’ve spoken with officers from the FBI, NSA and the Secret Service — all of whom had business cards with their full names. The closest I’ve gotten in Australia is chatting briefly with a DSD chap, one of two attending Linux.conf.au in January this year — given names only, and I suspect that those given names were really in scare quotes.

The excuse always given is “operational security”, but I do think the world has changed. The tools and methods are surely not so different from SEKRIT agencies to private-sector security companies and even analysis in non-security realms, given that so much technology is now available off the shelf to all comers.

Surely these days OPSEC is more about protecting sources and the specific operations that are or are not being conducted?

Of course I really don’t know this stuff. I’ve never worked in this field. I’ve never even held a security clearance. I’m just an interested bystander mouthing off. But I am intrigued.

Talking data retention (again) on Balls Radio

My regular spot on Phil Dobbie’s Balls Radio this week was a conversation (yes, another one) about the Australian government’s data retention proposals.

Here’s the audio of my segment. As you’ll hear, it’s much the same argument as in my last post about the Patch Monday podcast, with random asides about the meaning of misogyny and what should be done with real estate agents.

Yes, there’s a few audio dropouts. Welcome to the joys of using Skype over Telstra Next G mobile broadband while 1.5 kilometres into the eucalypt scrubland.

Play

If you’d like more Balls Radio, have a listen to the full episode. You can subscribe over at the website.

Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?

There aren’t many places in the world where you can openly accuse the nation’s top police and intelligence agencies of having an attitude problem, as I did on Monday, without being visited by the men in the van with the canvas sack. Which is a good thing.

In this week’s Patch Monday podcast, embedded immediately below for your convenience and CBS Interactive’s traffic logging, I departed from the usual format to present a personal opinion.

Data retention for law enforcement is one of the most important political issues relating to our use of the internet now and as far into the future as we care to imagine, I said, and it’s being mishandled.

The Australian government’s current one-page working definition (PDF) of what constitutes communications metadata (which can be requested by law enforcement agencies without a warrant) as opposed to communications content (which generally does require a warrant) is, to anyone with a technical understanding of how the internet actually works and is evolving, virtual gibberish.

“Dangerously immature” is how I described it.

I also raised three points where I think the version of reality being promoted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is wrong.

  • This is a push for more power. We conduct so much more of our lives online than we ever did on the phone, and that means the balance of power is changing. We need to have a conversation about this.
  • The AFP says quite specifically that they’re not after our web browsing activity, but I don’t see how the working document supports that argument. And other agencies, including the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), are after that stuff.
  • ASIO and the AFP constantly talk about the powers being needed to catch the terrorists and pedophiles. But the law will probably be modelled on the current law for the phone, which provides access to communication metadata to many other agencies with far less stringent accountability rules for many other, far less serious, crimes.

Please have a listen and tell me what you think.

Play

The podcast stands on its own, but I want to emphasise the thing that still disturbs me…

Continue reading “Insulted, ASIO? That’s not really the problem, surely?”

Weekly Wrap 67: Spring comes to Sydney

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets. A relatively quiet week, because I took a bit of time off in Kuala Lumpur and then in Sydney when I returned.

Podcasts

Articles

Media Appearances

None.

Corporate Largesse

None.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: Sydney cityscape, photographed from Potts Point, photographed with my new Nikon Coolpix S8100 camera. I really did need a decent digital still camera for editorial work, and this will do the trick.]