Visiting Ballarat for 2012

I’m heading to Ballarat, Victoria, on 16 January 2012 to cover for TechRepublic and ZDNet Australia.

While in many ways it’s a standard conference coverage gig, it’ll be particularly interesting for a few reasons.

  • I’ll get to interview some developers with unusual experiences such as Jacob Appelbaum, developer of The TOR Project, to name just one. Indeed, I’m hoping he’ll be a guest for the Patch Monday podcast.
  • We’re toying with the idea of doing a daily podcast. That’d be a fun challenge, if exhausting.
  • I’ll end up giving myself a crash updater course on Linux. While I’ve been a Linux systems administrator for years, and even did some less-common stuff such as custom installer CDs, I haven’t really done any hands-on work for two or three years. Geekery shall ensue.
  • I haven’t been to Ballarat in ages, and it’s a lovely little town.

I’ll post further details of my plans for the trip and our plans for the coverage as we get closer to the date.

At this stage it looks like I’ll arrive in Ballarat on Monday 16 January and depart on Saturday 21 January. My intention is to bracket the event with other things in Melbourne. If you know of anything that you think I should know about, please tell me!

The Great Firewall of China: how it works, how to bypass it

[This week journalists arriving in Beijing for the Olympic Games discovered that the IOC had cut a deal with the Chinese government so that their Internet connection was censored. Crikey commissioned this article, which was first published yesterday. I’ve added further linkage at the end.]

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China’s “Great Firewall” (GFW), officially the Golden Shield Project (金盾工程) of the Ministry of Public Security, is both clever and stupid, subtle and blunt.

As with any Internet filtering system, there’s only two methods to block bad stuff: keep a list of “bad sites” and prevent access, or look at the content live and figure out whether it’s good or bad on the fly. GFW uses both.

Al Gore was mocked for calling the Internet the “Information Superhighway”, but the analogy works. Like the road network, a maze of suburban streets leads to relatively few freeways, all administered by a myriad of local authorities.

When your computer requests a website, imagine a truck driving out your front gate. The driver knows the site’s name but not how to get there. Normally, you’ll get directions.

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