March 30, 2003

Only Outlaws Will Own Routers

Brent provides a decent summary of the current state of the art in legislation from Michigan. Well done lads. This will surely make the world safe for telco's throughout the state, and soon, coming to a world near you.


I wonder if software counts as a "telecommunications device".

Posted by ross at 08:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Impact of Centralized Control over e2e Networks

When I see stories like this, "MediaSavvy: The censor upstream", I cringe.

The majority of internet packets careening from start point to end point will likely need to travel through the "core" of the internet. The terrible fact is that there are very few companies that control this core. Companies like Level 3, AT&T, Worldcom and the like.

Each of these companies can, if they choose to, exert some level of control over the contents of the packets that they transit for us - and in some cases, they do. While the internet infrastructure remains in the hands of these relative few, the internet community will continue to be at the mercy of The Agenda.

This is terribly wrong. The service that I pay these companies for (indirectly) has nothing to do with what is inside the packets that they transport for me, and everything to do with the transport of these packets. The difference is small, but until lawmakers and the People In Charge start to get this, users will continue to get the short end of the functionality stick and the wrong end of the enforcement club.

Users can defend themselves over the short term while laws and perceptions change.

Start using products that use crypto. Demand that your software providers give you meaningful crypto in a form factor that you can easily use. Start demanding true end-to-end functionality from these same providers. For the average user, "server in the middle" architecture is a less then desirable arrangement. What happens when that server no longer exists? Typically, the service no longer exists.

Take the power away from these carriers. Ask for point-to-point, ask for crypto and keep a close watch on your digital rights - they are about to be managed away.

Posted by ross at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2003

Auberbach Whois Hysterics

Karl has blogged a piece entitled "ICANN and privacy".

The long and the short of it is simple. This is wrongheaded, hysterical and plain out and out "not likely to happen".

The reasons for this are simple. First and foremost, the Whois database is a list of registrants who have entered into a contract for service with a registrar.

Not 6 year olds that are at least 12 years short of being legally capable of binding themselves to a contract.

I've been on the record on behalf of Tucows backing stronger privacy practices related to the Whois database for as long as I can remember. I'm also in favor of putting the registrant in control of their registrations to the maximum extent feasible. None of this means providing a yellow pages for pedophiles. None of this has anything remotely anything to do with the fearmongering that Karl raises as a likely implication of the current policy.

Question for Karl; In what year did the whois database become public and how bad has the problem that you describe become in the intervening period?

Posted by ross at 06:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tourist Pics from Rio

arpoador.jpgI've uploaded a smatter of the pics that I took while in Rio. These are the tourist ones. Goofy faces and drunk people photos later.


[Thumbnails] [Not so Thumbnails]

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This Flight Tonight - Last Blog from Brazil

"She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage."

"Pattern Recognition" - William Gibson.

Rael is once again on the plane, acolyte in tow, slightly tanned and smiling at me as I board with only minutes to spare. Actually, I'm not sure if that was a smile or some sly acknowledgement of a secret that we share but I don't fully know about. Ira Levin indeed. Conspiracy is a welcomed friend to an idle mind.

The steward's greeting confirms that it is possible to deplane, run, luggage in tow through four terminals and convince the counter agent that you really need her to replace the airline ticket that you carelessly left on the poolside table when the rain broke out. The delays in the Skinner boxes that masquerade as security and customs is where the passengers start to gnaw at one another during this run through Sao Paulo Guarulhos. The last, it was the luggage carousel. With luck, you can navigate the gauntlet in one hour and ten minutes. Optimism and appropriately completed exit documents can make or break the journey.

I received a lot of email this week encouraging me to blog more about the meetings. Truth be told, there wasn't a lot more to report.

The meetings work like this.

Day one exists to jockey for last minute position, curry last minute favor and uncovering whom is thinking what. Those who do not acquire a strong understanding of the landscape by this point will not generally do well over the next few days. These are called "constituency meetings".

The rubber hits the road on day two. The counsel meets and each constituency lays out their bottom line. Compromises of varying values are forged and carried by a vote of the representatives. The chair will wash, rinse and repeat as necessary to deal with all of the items on the agenda.

Day three, open forum. An endless parade of reports from the committees, panels, advisory groups and constituencies that make up ICANN. Sometimes board members ask questions of the presenters. Sometimes an audience member asks questions. Sometimes someone in the audience gets mad and unloads on the presenter in the guise of a question. Others just get up to the microphone to hear themselves talk. The assembled board members listen and compare the oratory with what they've learned from hallway conversations, teleconferences, written reports and lobbyist button-holings.

Which brings us to day four. The board then measures everything they've heard over the past few days, combines it with corporate policy, a measure of political voodoo and some good old fashioned horse sense and allows the resultant concoction to somehow guide their vote on the individual resolutions before them.

So the, what happened to the blogstream? The truth is, all of this, save the constituency meetings, are a matter of the public record. ICANN's simulcast and the minutes are accurate to the word. There isn't a lot of value that I could add to the real-time notes of the scribe or the webcast. If you want to be informed, take charge of things and spend a few hours with the webcast.

But, there are things that the scribes and webcams don't do justice. Social gossip, tidbits from the hallways, general impressions of Rio itself. This is where the blogging attendees can bring real value. Tonight is not the night, my soul is spooling out behind me and for the first time this week, midnight here and midnight home is the same thing. It is late by every measure, and besides, I need to do some pattern recognition of my own before I know what parts are the good parts.

"Cachorro que muito late mau companheiro."
- Brazilian Proverb

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March 25, 2003

Lunch with the ALAC

Took an hour or so this afternoon for salads, cokes and coffee with the At Large Advisory Committee. Discussions ranged from the role of registries and registrars to transfers policy, the impact of registrar jurisdiction on users and much more.

It was time well-spent and, in my books, bodes well for the future policy direction and success of the At Large if they keep up the quality of thinking.

Now if I could just convince a few of them of the merits of my thoughts on spam control measures.

The head cold rages on. "Cold medicine" I asked the man behind the counter. I'm sure the answer was intelligible, but it wasn't a two way conversation. Sign language and double checking my purchases after the fact with the concierge worked much better than my Portugese.

Posted by ross at 03:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 24, 2003


Despite best efforts, nothing really new was said. At this point, I come away convinced that we might want to borrow from the Raelians and simply clone some past constructs that sort of worked. Incremental improvement instead of perfection. Hmmm...

BTW, yes, that was an Ira Levin joke. The allusion was too tempting. I'm sorry.

Posted by ross at 11:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Registrar Constituency Meeting - PM

Our afternoon session had a slightly different tenor. Food is a wonderful drug.

We kicked things off with a visit from Jennifer <bad hearing, bad hearing> from the USPTO who had wonderful things to tell us about how WIPO was going to save us from the world or from governments, or evil pirates or something.

Point is that WIPO thinks that they have something to save someone from - which can never mean anything good. In this case, it means that they want ICANN to bless UDRP II, which amongst other things, starts treating country names like trademarks.

[fast forward to BC meeting] "These recommendations make the existing UDRP vulnerable."

<aside>I couldn't agree more. As someone pointed out to me this week, I don't speak for Tucows on this blog. Keep that in mind when you read this next bit. I hate the idea of UDRP II a lot. On principle, I hate the UDRP I just a little bit more. The argument that I hear against UDRP II is that it provides a certain class of mark holders with extra-legal protections that are better found elsewhere. Exactly what I would say about the UDRP. I would go one step further and say that providing any entity or class of entities with special protections in the DNS (that aren't available to all classes that need varying types of protection) sets a bad precedent *and* if there are precedents out there that do this, maybe we should all take a deep breath and revisit the wisdom of those precedents.

<deep breath> You see what I mean here?</deep breath

The UDRP was the thin edge of the wedge and this is an example of why it is a bad wedge. I wouldn't advocate that we tear apart the UDRP - it does have some utility for a certain class of users - we just need something that's more equitable for all classes of users (and that doesn't mean what WIPO might think it means).

So yes, WIPO's UDRP II proposal makes UDRP I very vulnerable. The community needs to think carefully about exactly what is at stake so that we don't have to run through these gymnastics every time WIPO stretches its legs.></aside>

[Rewind to Registrar meeting] The general consensus of the constituency is that this proposal is "A Bad Idea" (TM) I would tend to agree. Regardless of what we (the "ICANN we") think of the UDRP, let's make sure that we keep the discussion focused on UDRP II. The WIPO proposal makes it very clear that there are worse alternatives to the UDRP - lets not help them make it happen.

Next, Bruce Tonkin provided the constituency with a brief overview of how policies get made in the new GNSO. Hopefully educational briefs like these reduce the perception that policy development in ICANN is a black-art reserved for only the most skilled wizards.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty unremarkable - discussions around credit card fraud, new gTLDs and IDNs. Lots of opinion, but no strong proposals. I suspect that those will come soon based on the number of action items I got sucked into.

There was nascent support for the idea of accrediting registries. Another Good Thing(TM). We'll see how the idea fares tonight.

Posted by ross at 03:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Is Netnames looking to get into the registry business?

Posted by ross at 02:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


As Brett mentioned earlier this week there is an informal gTLD discussion forum being planned for this evening. Show up at the Horseneck Tavern at 9pm for some informal to'ing and fro'ing about new gTLDs. Should be an interesting time - a bunch of people have published papers and will be there to discuss them. I'll be there with Alan. Hopefully we will see you as well.
Posted by ross at 02:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chinese Walls & Concrete Metrics

Got this via email today from someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in the ICANN process, but spends a lot of times dealing with the problems created by the ICANN process...

"...I'll just presume that everything from NSI's retail ops to the Registry itself ultimately falls under the parent company...and that anything that shows a different domain is just window dressing for the public."

Historically, this wouldn't have been a bad guess. I hope its a bad guess today. Not sure anymore. The registry guys really have their act together and the registrar guys are getting a lot more involved - all good things - but is the glass-chinese wall actually an effective construct?

There's no empirical evidence that there is and there's nothing but anecdotes to support that it isn't. My hope would be that ICANN looks really closely at the model and what commends it before they perpetuate it.

Metrics Dr. Paul, metrics.

Posted by ross at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Registrar Constituency Meeting - AM

Despite the lack of a pre-published agenda, the morning session went remarkably well. PCForum sounds better, but where Esther scores points on content, Cohen scores points for ambience. Rio is a really nice venue.

I spent the first 90 minutes or so going over the proposed changes to the Registrar Constituency Bylaws. These are sorely deficient in their current form and we really need to improve these underlying structures. All too often, our bad rules lead to bad process and bad feelings. The constituency really needs to get beyond this poisonous dynamic.

Louis Touton joined us for a few minutes to answer some niggly questions that the members have about various processes etc. Some interesting bits - most of it is pretty inside track stuff, but the highlights are;

  • the constituency can't interfere with a member appointing the representative of their choice
  • council reps must be able to think freely and vote freely in order to preserve the GNSO Council's capability to achieve consensus. If these reps feet are bound in concrete, then they won't be able to negotiate on key issues. Article 10 of the bylaws provides the backdrops to these rules.
  • There is no requirement for constituencies to implement geographic diversity requirements. My feeling is that we should include a statement of principles that we believe in. In a constituency like ours, it is difficult to implement conditions like this, but that doesn't mean that we can't support the principles and show that things like this actually matter to us as a group - even if we can't implement them for very practical reasons.
  • It is unclear whether or not constituency bylaws amendments always need to be approved by the board. This round is being forced by the work of the ERC, hence the requirement.

We also talked briefly about BulkWhois. Two camps on this issue - those registrars that are primarily registrars and those registrars that deal mostly with patent, trademark and copyright clients. I'll leave it to you to guess which one wants the BulkWhois provisions preserved.

Just before lunch, Paul Twomey, incoming CEO of ICANN joined us for a few minutes. He gave us a quick briefing of his CV, (and very skilfully distanced himself from his sentence tenure as the chair of the GAC) and outlined his priorities for the next few years. These included taking care of ICANN's September deliverables to the Department of Commerce, fixing the IANA function in a meaningful way (he has some great ideas here) and taking a few months to figure out what is really important to the community.

The most interesting thing that he said was that he is a strong believer in the value of process and management by metric and that he fully intends to apply this regimen to ICANN and IANA. This is good news in my books - it will lead to predictability, accountability and efficiencies that aren't currently found in the process.

I asked him how he felt about ICANN's credibility affecting the depth of the available talent pool within ICANN. In other words, if no one wants to participate in ICANN because there is a perception that ICANN has no credibility, then how is ICANN, the community, going to expand the depth and breadth of its communities. He replied that he intended on spending a significant portion of time in the relevant arena's describing what ICANN is and clearing up some of the misconceptions spread by the Persistant Critics (my words, not his).

Then, on to lunch. Three cappucino's and a Coke have done wonders for my budding head cold.

Stuffy and wired.

Posted by ross at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The trip in...

Got into town on Saturday after what turned out to be an overly long trip. Our original iterinary was to fly from Toronto to Sao Paulo and then on to Rio after a 90 minute layover. Of course, as the fates would have it, we blew this schedule before we left the tarmac in Toronto. A one hour delay that didn't get made up put us behind the eightball when we got to Sao Paulo. To make it worse, Air Canada rebooked us on a flight that had been sold out for two days.

There wasn't enough charm in the world to talk ourselves on that plane - even though we tried eight ways from Sunday. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I had the interesting fortune to be on the same flight as Rael - leader of the freedom-Canadian (or is it okay to say "French" in mixed company again - I haven't been keeping up with state-of-the-art in political correctness) cloning cult that tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the world media earlier this year. He and his much younger female companion were fully outfitted in their futuristic jumpsuits very much looking the part of cult-leader and acolyte.

I wonder if their journey down here is pleasure or business. Pleasure I hope, or CNN is going to feel mighty foolish in their skepticism.

After spending a good two hours trying to charm our way onto a flight we manged to secure two seats on a flight leaving from a different Airport in Sao Paulo. "Congooneeas" the flight agent said. "Congoknees" I replied...

We went back and forth with the pronounciation five of six times whereupon she simply wrote the name of the airport and directions to the shuttle bus on a piece of paper. I need to learn some Portugese - or hear better.

The trip through Sao Paulo took roughly an hour - the squalor was inescapable. Slums and shantytowns seemed to be the rule, with the exception of the odd new housing development dotting the hills here and there.

Arriving at the airport, we waited a few minutes for our flight, walked directly out onto the tarmac. I asked the agent whether or not they had any preference regarding which plane we should board.

"First one on the right" he scowled. Not much humor at Congoneeds apparently.

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March 23, 2003

Dead Tired in Rio

Man am I tired. I was going to blog some thoughts on the day, but I'm just way too bagged. A little bit jet-lagged and not used to the heat I suppose. I will leave you with this picture, sans commentary. Tomorrow I'll be in the day long Registrar Constituency meeting. There are a few agenda items that should help me get the blog caught up.

This shot was snapped on a quick walk after lunch today. Its a very picturesque city and one doesn't have to leave the beaten path to find some nice views...

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March 20, 2003

Cavebear Blog

Hey - Karl has a blog. This is a good thing. More smart people with lots on their mind need to blog. Especially ones the I don't always agree with. It sure beats the morning newspaper.
Posted by ross at 03:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2003

Spring cleaning...

I managed to get one more feature working yesterday that I've been trying to figure out how to do for a while. Right panel, RSS feeds from sites of my choice. Neat. TimA's RSSFeed drives this. I've got a bit more tweaking to do before I've got it doing exactly what I have in mind for it, but until I get back from Brazil, this will have to do. Thanks to Mr. Joe for getting this setup for me.

Brazil - yes. Going to the ICANN Rio meeting. Not sure how extensively I will blog this. I suppose that would be dependent on the the intensity and quality of the meeting (or alternatively, how bored I am :) I would expect Brett and Thomas to do a better job than I...we'll see ;)

Posted by ross at 07:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2003

More on "Mark as Read"

I've been thinking more about "mark as read". I'd like this to be really simple from a readers perspective. There are primitives and cues that already exist that would make it easier to for users to explicitly indicate what they have already read and what they haven't. Note that this is different that an "already visited" cue in a link - "mark as read" must be an explicit function - perhaps even one that can be reversed by fickle readers.

Here's the idea. Put a character beside each headline, something that doesn't otherwise have meaning like the tilde ~. Link it to a script that sets a cookie for the user indicating that the headline has been "marked as read". Headlines that have been marked as read would then show up in a strikethrough font, but only for that particular user. A reader that clicked a second time on the tilde would be marking that headline as unread thus reversing the initial action.

This sample from the comments here on Random Bytes illustrates best what I am referring too. Unfortunately, I don't have the skills to write the code that makes the tilde functional, so squint and pretend.

Doug Re: Congrats to Me ~
Arnold Kling Re: End to End and Top to Bottom ~
Ross Re: Spam, Accordians & And - Docflocking Redux ~
Michael Re: Spam, Accordians & And - Docflocking Redux ~

Nothing simpler, neh? Of course, this should also extend to regular headlines and not just those of the comments...and the primitive should be consistent between as many tools as possible. This kind of stuff only works if users view it as predictable and familiar.

Posted by ross at 06:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2003

Blog Usability for Readers

There's a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about how the general infrastructure and applications can improve for bloggers. Probably because bloggers understand the problems that the tools pose and each one has a soapbox at their disposal. Readers don't have this luxury - they don't always understand the tools and they don't always have a soapbox available. Even if they did, would the soapbox suit their needs?

I've put out a few feelers via email about this, but it probably makes some sense to ask here as well. Is anyone talking about how to make blogs better for Readers? Do any of *my* (three) readers have any pointers? Should we just start talking about this here?

Posted by ross at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2003

Kling on Spam - More on E2E-T2B

Arnold Kling responded to my earlier bit about E2E-T2B with a question about my reference to filtering at points within the network and states that doing so would require a migration from SMTP to CMTP. He also asks what the cost and consequences of doing so would be.

Well, the cost and consequences are completely predicated on actually moving to CMTP. And nothing I said has anything to do with developing new protocols. Spam filtering, at least in the sense that I was thinking about it (is there any other?) is an application level solution. No matter where you put it on the network, its application level - just like a mail server is an application level solution. In fact, SMTP proxies make the network location of these tools largely irrelevant.

There are anti-spam measures that work at a protocol level. Certain ISPs (the smart ones) force their users to use specific SMTP servers. This means that customers of these ISPs are forced to use that SMTP server and only that SMTP server - which means that relaying is impossible from these networks. As long as these ISPs also place limits on how much mail their customers can send and how often they send it, no more spam gets sent from these networks.

Which leads me to my own spam solution. It has nothing to do with CMTP (whatever that is), has nothing to do with charging fees for sending or receiving and has nothing to do with enhanced filtering anywhere on the network.

Providers must be made legally responsible for the actions of users on their networks - or they must take this responsibility. Imagine what would happen if every single ISP and network provider in the United States said tomorrow that SPAM was no longer acceptable on their networks and took affirmative actions such as those that I describe to ensure that none gets sent from their networks? I predict it would go away in less than one year - globally.

Now what are the chances of that happening?

Posted by ross at 10:28 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Congrats to Me

Roughly 90 days and eleven-ish odd hours ago I had my last cigarette. It looks like most of the woods are behind me...
Posted by ross at 08:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Blogs need "Mark as Read"

As I mentioned a while back, I set my very tall little brother up with a travelblog so that he and his girlfriend could easily keep in touch with everyone back home during their one year trip to Europe and Asia. Everybody here love it and they are finding it pretty cool. They blog when they get a chance at whatever Internet cafe they happen to come across. They are on the clock which means that they don't have a lot of time to mess around. Their standard drill is log in read the latest comments, post an update and hope that the clock doesn't run out in the meantime.

When they first started using it, it was great. We got little notes here and there and left comments for them to read the next time they found a cafe. Then the comments started disappearing. I thought it was odd, so I dug into it a little bit deeper. It turns out that they delete the comments after they read them so that they don't waste valuable cafe time looking for comments sorting out the comments that they read and the ones they hadn't. After reading, they delete and therefore any comments that are left on their blog are unread (by them).

Which almost completely defeats the point of the blog. This was supposed to be an effective way for them to keep in touch with us and vice versa. It was also supposed to be a scrapbook that they could enjoy when they got home. Unfortunately, a defect in the design of the application will likely prevent this. As it is, the archive is incomplete - and stopping them from deleting the comments as they read them is likely not going to happen. After all, time is money - especially when you're on a tight travel budget halfway around the world and the meter on your blogging session is ticking.

Happily, the solution is simple. Blog application developers need to figure out a way to allow readers to mark items as read. I'm pretty sure that this is something that has to live within the content management system at the application layer - or better yet, the browser itself. It could be automated or manual as long as it is simple. In fact, it must be at least as simple as the MT "delete comment" function.

Now go build something. ;)

Posted by ross at 08:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2003

Open Source Registry Platform

Excellent. ISC, the people behind BIND, has started an open source registry project dubbed "OpenReg". The OpenReg project page sums it up best;

"OpenReg is an implementation of a domain registry, such as might be used by top-level domain operators to manage the delegation of domains in a "shared registry" environment. OpenReg:

  • supports the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP), the IETF standards-track protocol for interaction between registries and registrars;
  • is designed and debugged as a distributed multi-process system;
  • supports PostgreSQL and is designed to accommodate to very large registries;
  • publishes zone files to be served using BIND;
  • gathers comprehensive profiling and load statistics;
  • is published as free software, under a BSD-style licence."

I'm glad to see that this is happened. We need more registries, we need more gTLDs and country-code operators need a cost effective way to run a world-class registry without spending world-class dollars. OpenReg should make all of this just a little bit more possible.

Posted by ross at 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2003

End to End and Top to Bottom

I read stuff like this (Kling not Weinberger) and amazed at how quickly people forget the other important thing about the internet - it is three dimensional. We have the "Inside-Out" that Saltzer, Reed & Clark dubbed the "End-to-End Principle". *BUT* We also have the Bottom-to-Top that we call "the Seven Layer Model" - these aren't different ways of looking at the same thing, they are different parts of the same thing. This gives the 'net the dimensions that it needs to perpetuate itself.

This is also why its okay to do spam filtering at points within the network - as long as its done at the application layer - or outside of the network. Pipes don't need that much intelligence - mail servers might.

Posted by ross at 10:19 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spam, Accordians & And - Docflocking Redux

Apparently there is a custom that dictates that once one has supped with bloggers that one should acknowledge said sup in ones blog. Apparently I find some perverse joy in using "sup" and "blog" in high concentrations in the same sentence.

I'd have to agree with the general consensus - had a good time last night. It was really low-key, the Maudite was cold and the conversation was interesting. Nice not to get extreme all at the same time like these things usually do when everyone is in convention mode. Tara notes that Doc has an unusual obsession with his gear. I just think that he wants to get the most out of it before he drops it, loses it or has it lost for him. Plus he's got good gear, he should be showing it off - 'good gear left bagged is ungood gear'.

Tara works on MACCAWS amongst other things - this is plusgood. I haven't dived into this, but it sounds worthy and I wish them well. Joey was a lot of fun - nice guy. I'm definitely going to have to find one of his gigs sometime...sounds like a blast. He was nice enough to do some AC/DC for us on his accordian. Keep an eye on Michael for his "World of Ands Corollary". I want to digest this one a little bit more. I mean, I get it, but I think that there's more to be said on the subject. Brent and Tim are working on some neat !spam tools. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on that...DarrylG, the hairless wannabe, still doesn't have a blog. But we let him stay anyways.

Spent some neat time talking with Doc, Brent and Michael about the future of software. New theory: software as we know it exists today because the failure of the transistor to do what we want it to do. We move back to hardware when the mainstream manufacturers figure out that we're using laptops and PCs as replacements for $30 devices. Software will still be there, but it won't be Brand X OS (or even OS/X) or Brand Y Applications - its going to be Brand B Telephone and Brand C Toothpaste Dispenser - its not just going to be the guitars that get smart and its not just going to be the software sector that gets shaken up. All of this makes the Phillips v. Microsoft and Cisco v. Sony battles suddenly a lot more interesting. The new device model: Distribution + Form Factor + IP Awareness = Degree of Commercial Success. Definitely more on this as I wander through it mentally.

Posted by ross at 08:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 13, 2003

Helping the internet not suck.

The Farm is running my latest dribbles about new gTLDs. I've thought for a long time that the current thinking of those that are supposed to be thinking hard about problems like this is;likely going to smother what little hope we have for innnovation in this space. Ideally we can riff on a document like this and start getting people thinking in the right direction. Getting this wrong won't mean the end of the internet, it will simply mean that the internet will suck just a little bit more than it should.

Posted by ross at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WAIT!! Freedom Toast?

The US movement to replace the word "french" with the word "freedom" in support of the war movement has been blogged extensively. I have no real problem with this, especially considering the Americans heavily supported the preservation of Canada's National Igloo, but I have two questions.

Should I start calling people from Quebec, "Freedom-Canadians"?

What is the new name of Canada's other national language?

Posted by ross at 07:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2003


BobF is talking about the telco's shameless rip off of their customers - us. Something that is compounded by a lack of attention or caring even when we know when we are being ripped off.  I don't get why we are so resigned to these so-called "facts of life". Can someone explain to me why enough of us continue to pay for what we don't use or don't care about? Enough of us obviously do or my telco wouldn't continue to try and sell me things I still don't need?

The most annoying rip-off (I've already cancelled all of my smart network services like Call Answer etc.) that I'm being victimized by is the requirement that I *must* use my telco's SMTP server. I can't use someone elses. I've been told that this is a smart thing to do when it comes to fighting spam, but I have a really hard time believing that this is anything but a poor attempt to make me use their mail services instead of the ones that I might choose to use. This, coupled with the fact that they make me lie about my wi-fi router every time I call their support line (We're sorry sir, but we don't support networks. My god people, listen to yourself, you *are* supporting a network - that's why I pay you $50 per month!!), really raises my ire.

Anyways, I have a point. I came across some software that glosses over all of this for me - Autoroute SMTP. This is a great little utility that sits in my system tray and keeps track of what network I'm connected to. Based on various bits of information that it gathers, it makes a best guess regarding what mail server is most likely to handle my mail at any given time. All I do is tell my mail program to send its SMTP traffic to "localhost" and this little gizmo sends my mail to the right place whether I'm at home or at work.

Nifty - and it makes me hate my phone company just a little bit less.

Posted by ross at 11:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2003

Definition of Scobelizing

I'm getting caught up on my feeds and actually made it all the way down to the "S" blogs on my list. I noticed something funny about Scoble's headlines - he loves to drop names. He still makes for a great read though.

He gets way more than bonus marks for in the enthusiasm category though. Something that we need more of around here.

Might this be a symptom of the winter blahg's that I keep hearing about?

Posted by ross at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2003

Barbie is Blogging...but not my Dad

Tim A. (amongst others) notes that Barbie is Blogging and that this is a sure sign that blogging has hit the mainstream. Blogging hasn't hit the mainstream - it has hit the hypestream.

The hypestream is a place that artificially attracts attention, exaggerates the actual scope and scale of the subject and often prevents the subject from even getting close to the mainstream. Cellphones are a part of the mainstream. Handhelds, the hypestream. Email, web, DVD, mainstream. HDTV, videophones and Ginger - hype.

Blogging runs the risk of falling into the second category. There's a lot of smart people talking about a lot of smart solutions that deal with tough problems, but no one is focusing on usability, applicability or general utility. Face it - blogging is hard and none of the tool vendors is doing anything but a superficial job of addressing them. Impossible to install, impossible to operate and worse - the paradigm is impossible to understand - for the average user. The problem is, the average user sits right smack dab in the middle of the mainstream and there's nothing that Raging Cow or Barbie can do to change that. The Trotts, Winer and Evan can though. Will they?

Challenge: Help me help my Dad understand what the utility of this stuff is and why he should use it. Then make the tools that he will need easy enough for him to actually use them so that blogging can hit the mainstream.

Posted by ross at 09:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2003

TLD Operator Reserves

Brett puts forward a great idea for setting financial reserves for new gTLDs. But wait a second...I think this is a new idea. Hmmm...if its new, that probably means that the existing crop of new operators don't have a similar requirement. Time to take another look at the agreements to find out...

Of course, this isn't as important in the "Ultra-Thin" registry model. I've been struggling with Part II of the new gTLD piece, and Whois, and Privacy, and a Product Definition, and... this past week. Until I break the vapor-lock on these other documents, I won't be adding anything about the Ultra-Thin Registry to the mix - but I will promise to get to it some day in the not-so-distant future.

BTW, I really need a better editor. I've noticed that my emails and posts seem to be much sloppier than they were in the past. Does this automatically come from being in my thirties? Will I even be coherent by the time I'm 40?

Posted by ross at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2003

Crazy Canuck Weather

thumb_snowday1.jpg Its been an odd week weatherwise so far. First, we had a 40 odd degree swing between noon Sunday and noon Monday (in the wrong direction) and then back again in the opposite direction between Monday and Tuesday. Then, this morning, it decided that we needed more snow. Some pictures from my morning commute here.
Posted by ross at 11:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MS Agent, Mulberry, Notmad Explorer and more...

I've really started to enjoy using Newzcrawler. Not only does it aggregate the XML that drives my favorite blogs, but it has some great search and OCS functions that I'm really starting to dig. One of its niftier features allows you to use a Microsoft Agent to read entries to you. Microsoft really hasn't done much with Agent over the past few years, but it seems developers are picking up on it nonetheless.

As I mentioned a while back, I picked up a new laptop. Great value (even though I sort of swore that I would never buy another Sony product). The Vaio product group really goes the extra mile to provide customers with real utility as part of the package. For instance, the battery meter talks - sounds cheesy, but applications that provide audible cues are tremendously helpful. I've also found a great IMAP client that does a very similar thing - "This message has an attachment", "You've got new mail" - and all customizeable to say whatever I want it to say.

Coupled with Newzcrawler, the Vaio talks all day - which provides me with a new stream of information to deal with, in a very lightweight, non-distractive fashion. Quite useful.

I've also got a new favorite application - Notmad Explorer. I've recently upgraded my Nomad I from the 6gb factory capacity to a much more comfortable 40gb. It turns out that these little guys are really just portable hard drives. While I was looking for instructions that described the upgrade surgery, I came across Notmad. This is a great application that completely outperforms the software that Creative provides with each unit and adds some great new functionality as well. For instance, the NotWeb component allows me to connect to the Jukebox from any PC and stream my MP3s to the remote desktop via the Internet - tres cool. If you've got any Creative MP3 device, you really have to check out this software.

Posted by ross at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Verisign Spam

Me too.
Posted by ross at 04:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2003

Wagon Jumper

This page is powered by Blogger.Just to prove that I'm not just another Bloggie-come-lately wagon blogger, check out Bytebits... my old haunt @ blogger. Now if I had just been more *consistent*...
Posted by ross at 07:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2003

Registrars vote to focus membership requirements

It hasn't been officially announced yet, but in a vote that closed on March 2, 2003, the Registrar Constituency approved a series of bylaws amendments that pare down who can and can't participate in the business of the constituency.

I tabled this motion a month ago as a partial response to ICANN's accreditation of GNR. While we can't necessarily prevent registries from becoming accredited registrars, we have successfully prevented them from interfering with the governance and policy development efforts of the constituency.

The motion was approved with 71% of the votes. The text follows...

"Be it resolved that;

1.0 In keeping with the selective membership criteria of other GNSO constituencies, the registrar constituency represents the interests of a specific sector, specifically those of ICANN Accredited Registrars.

1.1 Therefore to avoid conflicts of interest, this typically excludes entities whose primary relationship with ICANN is as a TLD Registry Operator;

and that our by by-laws be amended to reflect this.

2.0 That any representative of any ICANN recognized gTLD Registry in the possession of, or with access to, Registry Proprietary Information or Registry Sensitive Information, as defined in the relevant ICANN/Registry contract are ineligible to represent the constituency as a whole, either as an elected member of the Executive Committee of the constituency, or as an elected member on a council, task force, or other GNSO or ICANN committee, working group or panel, for a period of one year since the last receipt of such information;

and that our by-laws be amended to reflect this.

3.0 Each candidate for election or appointed to serve as a representative of the constituency in any fashion, including those mentioned in 2.0, must declare potential conflicts of interest, including a declaration to the effect that they have not been in posssession of any Registry Proprietary or Sensitive Information during the 12 months prior to any election.

3.1 Such declaration should be made prior to the commencement of the election process and at regular 6 month interval post election. Excepting that a declaration of any material change in the conflict of interest should be made immediately, or as soon as is practicable, after the material change has occurred.

3.2 Failure to complete any such declaration will be deemed sufficient basis for the constituency Executive Committee to invalidate the election or appointment of the candidate;

and that our by-laws be amended to reflect this."

Posted by ross at 12:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 02, 2003

Desktop/Laptop Sync?

I've got what I think is a pretty basic requirement. I would like to sync different files and directories between my laptop and a couple of workstations and in some cases, between files that live on my laptop and files that live on the internet in various places (but always behind ftp). The thing is, I can't find any software that just does this...

I found plenty of apps on Tucows that will sync files etc., but each of these apps is coming at the problem from a back-up/restore context. I would rather have an app that deals with the problem from a data portability perspective. In other words, I want Palm Hotsync not Norton Systemworks - but just for my laptop.

Is anyone aware of any apps that might possibly fit this bill?

Posted by ross at 11:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Mike Lampson from IARegistry has set up a palindromicly named dotORG issues tracking blog that documents (and hopefully continues to) what problems registrars are seeing with the transition from Verisign to PIR. Great little resource that will undoubtedly help both sides of the equation solve problems instead of perpetuate them. Great to see.
Posted by ross at 08:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The elements of feeling and of thought

thumb_4-030203 045.jpgI was going stir crazy today. Call it cabin fever or whatever, I just couldn't handle being inside for yet another day while the weather had its way with the city.

I blew off my chores, did a bare minimum grocery shop and headed out to West Humber Bay Park here in Toronto with the digital camera. Took 50+ shots, heres a few that I like.

Wisdom and spirit of the Universe!
Thou soul is the eternity of thought!
That giv'st to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion! Not in vain
By day or star-light thus from by first dawn
Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul,
Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,
But with high objects, with enduring things,
With life and nature, purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
- William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850)

Posted by ross at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Life in my thirties...

I don't know if its just me or not, but I found that there was a great deal of self-awareness that crept into my being the second that I turned thirty.

I occupy space and I'm comfortable with that. But, I get the sense that I'll be 40 before I fully figure out why I occupy the space I do.

There's also a sense of just not giving a shit about certain things anymore. Case in point, I just put a hole in the ass of my favorite pants getting ready to leave. Did I immediately change them and mourn the loss of my favorite pants? Nope, I'll finish out the day in them and welcome the new addition to my collection of "used to be favorite, but now I just wear 'em on the weekend pants".

I'm leaving the house in my new wear 'em on the weekend pants as soon as I can tear my way away from the machine. I hope the other kids don't laugh at me. I'm a bit worried though because there's no way that my mom will console me on this one.

That's another thing I miss about being in my 20's - my parents stopped treating me like a little kid. Imagine - I spent 10 years trying to escape their blackhole, four or five years resigned to it - and *poof* - it just disappeared one day.

Let me know if you know of any way to get it back - it was a lot more fun resisting it than it is not having it at all.

Posted by ross at 02:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Man in the Arena

New feature. I've decided to periodically upload some of the more artistic shots that I take in my wanderings and set them to poetry or famous quotes or whatever strikes my fancy.

These first five shots were taken over the course of the last two weeks in both Toronto and DC with Theodore Roosevelt providing the inspiration. If the log files show that there is interest in this and the work, I might set up a more useful way to share these posts. In the meantime, I'll simply be using good old HTML.


Posted by ross at 12:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2003

Homeland Security Threat Monitor

Someone has gone to the trouble to create a Homeland Security Threat Monitor that sits in your Windows System Tray. Somehow it knows that I'm not the President of the United States and it won't let me change the current threat level. I thought some "Red, Green, Red, Green" back and forth might add some much needed humor to the mix - natch.
Posted by ross at 10:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Amazon gets ICANN accredited.

Hmm..its interesting that they list Amazon Legal as the contact. Is this a sign that we can expect more BigCo Trademark Protection Dept.'s to take things into their own hands? Tucows has quite a few resellers that are simply providing internal services to the rest of their company - getting accredited for such a purpose would definitely be the next step, but it is quite a step given the pain-in-the-assish requirements of accreditation. Of course, a bunch of lawyers in a corporate legal department might just take such a thing to be sport.

"1-Click Domain Registration? theodp writes " quietly received approval last December to sell domain names to companies and individuals. Amazon Registrar, Inc. is now listed as an ICANN-Accredited Registrar. More details in this WSJ story (subscription required)." Won't normally post WSJ only articles due to the subscription requirements, but this one is pretty interesting. I'll add a subscription-free link if I can find one."

[via Techdirt]

A belated welcome to the biz folks.

Posted by ross at 09:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Attack of the Blimp!

Blimp! Very funny.

"On this occasion I awoke to the sense that there was a large menacing presence approaching me silently out of the gloom, so I opened my eyes, and there it was! A LARGE SILENT MENACING PRESENCE WAS APPROACHING ME OUT OF THE GLOOM, AND IT COULD FLY!!!"

[via Where Worlds Collide]
Posted by ross at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack