May 30, 2003

Notes from Whois Telecon...

The community Whois teleconference happened this AM. Thomas Roessler undertook the herculean task of blogging the entire call.


Having done this once before (and smartened up quickly after doing so) I can say that this takes huge effort. I will post my own thoughts on the call later today.

Posted by ross at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2003

ICANNWatch on the Whois Telecon

ICANNWatch published my recent message to the registrar list with editorial that characterizes the Whois teleconference as being;
  • Outside the process
  • Geared towards creating a common position
I appreciate the added publicity, but this is not an entirely accurate representation of the event as planned...

We are trying to accomplish a few very simple things by kickstarting this discussion. First is to ensure that this conversation continues to happen inside the process. There never has been a serious venue for inter-constituency communication to happen on a member to member level. The GA was supposed to fulfill this need, but it failed miserably. Unless we want policy development to solely happen at the GNSO Council or Board level, or worse, in the backrooms of Washington or elsewhere, we need to get serious about discussing serious issues.

Second, Registrars are driving this, but we don't intend to control this. We realize that we're not the only affected party, but we are probably in the best position to make sure that something gets done to solve the issues. Registrars feel pretty strongly that if we don't take a progressive step forward and start a real dialogue that focused on the salient issues (as opposed to political rhetoric). We see this one-time meeting - open to all - as a vehicle to further articulate the registrar vision of modified WHOIS and modified WHOIS access. All in the vein of initiating a constructive dialog so that the formal PDP and other work of the Whois Steering Group can be more productive.

  1. Registrars proposed this call and intended that it be open to all interested parties.
  2. The call is not intended to circumvent the potential policy development process re:WHOIS/privacy that has been identified by the Council.
  3. The call is an informal opportunity for registrars to articulate a potential model for modified WHOIS data and modified WHOIS access.
  4. The call is not intended to resolve or necessarily vet all issues re: WHOIS/privacy.
  5. The dialog on the call could help build toward constructive work in Montreal.

We have a pretty simple agenda with this issue.

Embrace. Extend. Implement.

Embrace the issues - we can't rely on someone else to make sure that this matters to the policy makers. Its too important.

Extend the thinking - there are a lot of potential solutions that just aren't getting airtime. Most of them are preferable to the status quo. The community needs to get critical about what the best solutions are to the tough problems we face. We need to be aware of second order effects and how to avoid negative implications. We need to come up with solutions that solve the problems that we face today and tomorrow.

Implement the solution. Talk is nice, but it only gets to far. Industry needs to be prepared to accept the best thinking of the community and turn it into running code. One of the best ways to facilitate this is to ensure a strong role for industry right from the start so that proper understanding of the scope and implication of the issues has time to take root in the minds and plans of the managers and staff that end up doing the heavy lifting.

So Mr. Froomkin, the real spin is that this isn't about who the chair is, it isn't about the process and it certainly isn't about the spin - its about making sure that the community starts down the road, inside ICANN, towards appropriate policy that we can all live with.

And that "we" includes you1.


1Anyone that wishes to include themselves in that we can send me an email and I will make sure that you receive the call details as soon as they are available.

Posted by ross at 10:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2003

Why EPP may save the Net??

The Register is running yet another typically clueless "article" on the state of the DNS. This time they're running with an "EPP will save the internet" angle. Anybody that's spent more than three seconds dealing with the registry/registrar model used by the ICANN sponsored gTLDs realizes that EPP is not, as they describe "...the dream ubiquitous protocol for registrant-registrar-registry information that means fast, seamless and accurate exchange of information..."

One of these days someone over there is going to actual do some research before they write an article and shock the entire world. In the meantime, I'd settle for the hari kari that they swear off in the first paragraph of the dreck that they try to pass off as an article.

Posted by ross at 05:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2003

Navigating the Policy Implications of RFC 954 and Domain Name Whois in the gTLD Environment


There have been many discussions1 regarding the policy implications of Whois within the ICANN community over the past few years. They have been an important part of the process.

In order to fulfill ICANN’s mandate, the community must resolve technical coordination issues by rooting operational policies in the fertile ground created by a widespread understanding of the salient issues and sometimes differing points of view. We must avoid unintended consequences and ensure that our decisions remain relevant – for the entire range of stakeholders – for an appropriate amount of time into the future

We approach this question with some basic principles, preliminary functional requirements and a willingness to understand how this document should evolve for the benefit of the community.

We are in the process of creating a proposed implementation based on the ideas set forth in this document. Once this initial statement has been subject to community review and further refined, this document and the resultant proposal will be formally released as a single document.

Formative Principles

  1. Whois is not purely a domain name or IP address contact information retrieval system. It has been deployed for a wide variety of uses, both public and private. The ICANN community must only focus on establishing guidelines and policy for use of Whois in the context of domain name or IP address contact information retrieval, and only when the circumstances indicate that it is appropriate to do so.
  2. We must not limit our definition of Whois to solely represent a mechanism for accessing contact information. This definition should at least include a method of arranging general agreements between relevant parties regarding data presentation formats and systems interoperability.
  3. The ability to efficiently access domain name holder contact information is an important privilege that users of the DNS must continue to have.
  4. Query based access to a coordinated Whois system upon the presentation of valid credentials must continue to be maintained for legitimate users.
  5. It is just as important to consider the needs of those that use the data as it is to consider the needs of those from which the data originated with and also those that maintain access to the data.
  6. Distributed systems provide greater benefit to the community, the users and industry than do centralized systems.
  7. System interoperation is preferable to system integration. Unfettered access to open interoperability guidelines are a pre-requisite for orchestrating the interoperation of distributed systems.
  8. Determining whether or not fees should be associated with the system is not as important as agreeing that deploying and maintaining the system will have costs associated with it.
  9. Individuals have a right to privacy, corporations have a right to exercise non-disclosure and legitimate interests have a defined need for discovery.
  10. In order to ensure the continued operation and tomorrow’s enhanced utility of the existing Whois service, Whois providers, at all levels, must start to coordinate their efforts, actions and technology on a more fundamental level.
  11. Access to a Whois system is a privilege and not a right.
  12. Legitimate volume access to data is more appropriately supported through technical system interoperability and standardized data formats than it is through bulk retrieval mechanisms.
  13. Whois service providers are a diverse group of interests that include generic and country-code registry and registrar operators, internet address registries and value-add providers.
  14. Whois service users are an extremely diverse group of interests that include law enforcement, businesses, individuals, trademark, patent and copyright interests, governments and others.

Preliminary Functional Requirements

An important aspect of system design is in the gathering, analysis and restatement of user requirements outlining how the system, once implemented, should work. The following statements attempt to restate some of the more common requirements that have been stated regarding a coordinated query-based Whois system and the policies that govern it.

The goal of this restatement is to solicit further thought from the community regarding what requirements it deems valuable and should be included in the final system design and implementation.

  1. Data need be made available in response to an authenticated query based Transaction request in a form and format common to all Whois providers participating in the system.
  2. Registrants and other parties with data residing in the system must have the capability to directly access and manage that data.
  3. Individual users that have data residing in the system must have the capability to opt-in to uses of the data that would see that data being licensed to a third party for any purpose.
  4. Business users that have data residing in the system should have the capability to opt-out to uses of the data that would see that data being licensed to a third party for any purpose.
  5. In response to an unauthenticated query, the Whois system will provide a limited subset of the data. The system will respond to an authenticated query with data appropriate for the level of access provided to the credentialed user making the query.
  6. Abusive or excessive queries may be limited or ignored by Whois service providers.
  7. The Whois service must coordinate with other Whois services, such as those provided by gTLD Registries and the Regional Internet Registries to provide a more accurate view of the data related to the domain name in situations where the individual or corporation has exercised their respective rights to privacy or non-disclosure.
  8. Implementation of the Whois system should rely on pre-existing IETF standards-based or IETF standards-track technologies. Implementation of the Whois system should not require the development of new protocols.

1Please help us continue this discussion and leave your comments using the web form located below this footnote.

Posted by ross at 03:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Invitation to an Open Telecon on Whois

I said "Next week, there will be a community sponsored, open teleconference to discuss how we can work within the ICANN process to start implementing first steps towards a Whois that more appropriately suits the needs of all affected stakeholders. There has been a lot of talk on the various issues, public and private, but no actual sign-posts erected that would allow us to see this issue towards a logical and appropriate conclusion. This will not, of course, replace the policy development process, but provide inputs to it and hopefully, early relief on key issues such as access to data, privacy and accuracy." [via GNSO Registrars Mailing List] More details are forthcoming. Stay tuned.
Posted by ross at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've created this new category to track the development of the Whois issue with the ICANN community. There's a lot going on in this area, and it makes sense for someone to start keeping track of the various efforts and positions that are coming out.

I would normally track this kind of thing through The Farm but its about to go into a state of flux and I have no idea what the durability of links will be like over there. At least here I have some control of that.

If you have any links or suggestions that I should include in this subcategory, let me know and I will do my best to accomodate.

Posted by ross at 03:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 22, 2003

Touton says farewell...

I will miss having him around the process. Hopefully he stays in touch at some level. ICANN Announcement: 22 May 2003
Posted by ross at 06:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2003

Whither Wildcards? looks like Neulevel's "experiment" has come to an end. I wonder what the conclusions were. Or even what the hypothesis was. Oh yeah - this is the DNS, no need to worry about such trivial things. We'll get what we get I suppose.
Posted by ross at 11:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Time in DC

I was in DC last week (the week before?) for about 24 hours. When I arrived I realized that I had been there quite a few times - but I had never actually seen any of the landmarks that gives the political heart of America its character. I knew that in order to make my 9:30 flight that I should be at the airport at least 45 minutes before it left. That would give me exactly two hours to check-out, eat breakfast and go on a walkabout if I got out of the room by 6:00 (including travel time to the airport). So I did exactly that. I didn't get to see as much of DC as I wanted to - a few blocks of Capitol Hill - but I did walk away with a really good idea of what makes America tick. And I even felt a little bit patriotic.
Posted by ross at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rain on the Gardiner

Rain on the GardinerWe had some rain yesterday.
Posted by ross at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

On the Use of Consultation

Brett notes that  Verisign's Scott Hollenbeck pointed out that Verisign is hardly the first registry to monkey with the behavior of the DNS1 "There are at least 11 TLDs that have been using DNS wildcards for quite some time to offer either domain registration services or to provide web navigation assistance." [icann.Blog]

This is all fine and dandy, but Scott, and therefore likely Verisign, has missed the real point.

Presumably each of the registry managers for each of the TLDs that Scott points to has consulted with their relevant communities and together, they have determined that breaking the DNS like this is appropriate. If the citizens of Tuvalu, Niue or the museum curators of the world wish to permit this technical characteristic of their TLD, then who am I to say they shouldn't.

Everybody has the right to break their own stuff.

The problem is thought that neither Verisign nor Neulevel engaged in any sort of consultation with the members of their respective communities. I for one think that using wildcards in this manner is a terribly bad way to run a namespace - especially one as important as .com. Thankfully, these hacks only exist in a relatively limited segment of the namespace - Neulevel's dotBIZ and Verisign's IDNs. Regardless, neither Verisign nor Neulevel are in a position to be breaking *my* stuff without asking me, or you, or you, and yes, you too.

No one really knows what the longer-term technical and social impact of this change will be. We do have enough information to guess what today's political implications are. Registries need to start consulting with their communities and stop arbitrarily implementing "features" that fundamentally change the way things should work.

1Notwithstanding the fact that Verisign is actually the registry operator for a number of the TLDs that Scott points to as precedents.
Posted by ross at 12:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2003

Matrix Reloaded: Movie and Soundtrack

Went to see the Matrix earlier this afternoon. It absolutely lives up to everything that made the original great. The problem is, its missing what made the original so great - the surprise. The sequel is just as good or better than the original - its just too bad that the surprise element is missing.

I wish I could say the same for the soundtrack. JamesW is running around the office with glowing reviews of this two disc release. I can't get into it. Where the original was a great bookend to the visuals of the movie (and a wonderful counterpoint to the backdrop of mysticism sitting behind the story), this one comes across as a watered down rehash of the original soundtrack - one that doesn't push any new buttons. There's some potential there, but it never really steps forward. What really turns this soundtrack into a disaster are the "made for MTV/radio" tracks that were forced in - Dave Matthews, Marilyn Manson, Fluke etc. - yick. Tracks that get played over the credits aren't part of the movie - they shouldn't be there. Such are merchandising rights I suppose.

The only thing that saves this CD set from itself is the great second disc that highlights the strictly musical tracks of the score. Both "Burly Brawl" and "Main Title" are the standout tracks. The latter because it evokes memories of the first time that the green-tinged opening of the original hit the screen back in '99. Great stuff.

For the $18 that the CD is going to set you back, its probably not a bad idea to grab it just to add it to your collection. You won't wear out three copies from playing it too much, but you will get $18 of value out of it.

Enjoy the movie.

Posted by ross at 05:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2003

Blogration News: Part I

I've decided to migrate off of MovableType. I'm pretty happy with the application, but it doesn't seem to be growing with me as I'd originally hoped. Republishing takes forever and I need a lot more flexibility when it comes to dealing with large numbers of photographs.

Stayed tuned - more to come.

Posted by ross at 10:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Thanks for the kind words and assistance today. It turns out that it was the power supply taking a nose dive. Swapping it out for a new one completely fixed the problem - no data loss, no confuckted components. Now I just need to figure out where to put all of this gear.
Posted by ross at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2003

Fzzt! pOPP!! Holy Crap!

Ummm...when your computer goes pOPP!! and a bright blue flash shoots out of the back kind of simultaneously...

What does that mean? Ungoodness...hopefully my data and components are okay - I really hope that the sound and fury that I heard was a dying power supply - and nothing on the machine got futzed...agh. Any kind words would be appreciated.

Posted by ross at 09:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Divorcing /. - A Pictoblog in Three Parts

When I came in this morning, I noticed that Newzcrawler was displaying these headlines coming from

Needless to say, I became quickly concerned that I had violated one of the most important rules of aggregation - Thou shalt not abuse thine hosts content feed. So I double checked the frequency that I had set to pull the slashdot feed.

I quickly realized that there was an easy way to fix all of this.

I haven't really read slashdot all that much lately anyways.

Posted by ross at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2003

Legislative Dis-assembly

finger-sm.jpgThe debate concerned allegations of contempt for the legislature made by the provincial opposition. Apparently they didn't like the fact that a recent budget was unveiled at a press conference instead of in the legislature.

During the debate, John O'Toole, a government MPP, decided to lay these charges to rest with a heartfelt gesture.

And then he denied it. "There were a lot of things happening at that time, and I would not say I did that," O'Toole told reporters.

And then he came clean. It wasn't an overt thing I did," O'Toole replied. "But I do apologize."

(Its a good thing he wasn't caught in bed with someone's wife. "Sorry pal, it wasn't overt, but...)

When asked if this was a new pre-election tactic, House Leader, Chris Stockwell clarified the intention of O'Toole's actions by stating that ""No, its clearly not part of a strategy, to tell our guys to flip people the bird and come out and lie about it,"

Only in Canada eh? Pity.

CTV online has the entire scoop...

Posted by ross at 11:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2003

Excuse me?

I was at the fish market yesterday and dude behind the counter notices my Tucows t-shirt.

"You work there?" he says.


"What about idirect? Did you ever work for idirect?"


"I used to do most of their PR."

I first started working for idirect, a predecessor company of Tucows in mid-September, 1994. I ran tech support for a while, ran marketing for a while, ran the corporate sales group for a while. When Tucows split-off from idirect in 1999, I did the domains thing for a while, now I'm doing other things.

I've never heard of fish-guy.

Small world. I guess.

Posted by ross at 08:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Musings on The Changing Computing Experience

I have more storage space devoted to image files now (~10gb) than I had devoted to all file types in 1993 (120mb). In 1993, I had the equivalent of 10gb of images filed away in shoeboxes in my closet. Today, these same images go from the CCD in my camera, get stored on the removable flash memory card and eventually copied to my hard drive.

(And come to think of it, the camera I'm using now has more on-board storage with its meagre little flash 128mb card than the 486 class PC with its 120mb hard drive that I was using in 1993.)

A few further anecdotes. Last year I spent almost $2000 on my photo-habit. At least 75% of that was spent on developing proofs. During the first 4 months of this year, I've only spent $500. That breaks down into $300 on a digital camera, memory and batteries and $200 having various prints made. This will definitely drop over the remaining 8 months because I won't need to buy another digital camera and memory and I've figured out how to get gift quality1 digital photo-prints out of my inkjet. My big win; I don't need to spend another nickel on my habit - save what the inkjet consumables are going to cost. Free? Of course not, but at least this iteration of my habit isn't going to cost me another $2000 this year.

The Personal Computer is finally becoming multi-purpose useable. People are finally capable of doing *new* things with their computers that were previously impossible, or difficult, to do at home. Developing photographs is a great example. The investment is roughly the same - a well-equipped darkroom will never be cheap, but digital is much more efficient and useable - and affordable. But everyone knows this, I'm not saying anything drastically new.

There is something else that this draws into relief. Much more subtle, but quite dramatic in its impact. Devices are getting smarter and becoming much more discrete - and amazingly useful. Take a look at the new generation of photoprinters for example. Completely self-contained units that don't even need to be connected to a computer to be useful. Just feed them data and *bam* they spit out amazingly high quality prints.

I've been pushing the following thought for a while now in meatspace - let's see what the internet thinks of it. Its not really mine - think of it as a synthesis of many opinions...

The popularity of the home computer is simply a direct result of a limited utility backlash against single-purpose, analog-focused units - the typewriter, VCR, "hi-fi", microwave and the rest. Each highly useful in their own way, but ultimately limited in function. A typewriter is just as bad at facilitating complex calculations as a VCR is at assisting real time-shifting. Both can do it, but it never ends up being a wholly satisfactory experience. Manufacturers that want to capture the hearts and minds of the home will need to fix this. I'd even go so far as to venture that their future success is tied to the emergence of the digital equivalencies of these formerly unconnected, non-calculating units. The good news is that we're starting to see them all ready; IP enabled, hard drive based home audio units, Tivo's, MP3 players, digital cameras, home security systems, smarter cars. Each of these, in their own way, allow us to move beyond our reliance on the centralized home computer paradigm and into a realm of higher function computing that really makes sense in our day-to-day lives.

This all means that we're in for a lot of change over the next few years. Not evolution, but outright change. First up, expect a showdown between Little Iron and Big Iron. The multi-purpose desktop computer needs a massive amounts of storage and massive amounts of MIPS to live up to its destiny as the ultimate convergence of all home based data processing devices - the hi-fi, the typewriter, the daytimer, the calendar on the refrigerator, the rangefinder in the closet and so on. Bringing brains to these home based data processing devices doesn't require the same level of technology. Its much cheaper and low-tech to give a camera digital processing capabilities - storage, calculation and the like (and while we're at it, why not give it an IP backplane so that it can talk to other newly smart devices.) Using portable Little Iron to replace portable Analog Stuff seems to be a lot closer to what customers are expecting - despite what the current market leaders have been pushing.

I don't need an Onyx 3000 in my garage to take care of the data processing requirements of my family. Sounds like an obvious statement to make, but this is where the market leaders want us to go. Big Iron heating the garage and dumb little poorly connected units that barely network the homestead together2. There will be no information superhighway, let it go - its over. Its dead Jim.

What I need are much smart single function devices that can talk to one another and enable the discrete but free flow of relevant information between my devices. I need a way to create and store a set of mail filters in such a way that I can access them from any mail client that I'm signed on to. I need a way to search my image library, from any computer in the world, by a series of keywords that bootstraps a slideshow of relevant images. I need a way to listen to my music collection whereever I am using whatever digital music enabled device that I'm closest too (including my car and those cheap airplane headphones.)

I'm betting on Little Iron, but mainly because it offers what I need and what provides me with a more exciting view of tomorrow's network. If Little Iron wins, device identity, ad hoc device interaction and "find-me/follow-me" services become critical aspects of the infrastructure. The technical emphasis will shift from managing human-device interactions and towards device-device interaction. Interface design will become more about physical ergnomics than about overcoming KMM input limitations.

What does that leave us with? A lot of internetting between devices. Human interaction with network resources will almost certainly take a back seat to device transactions. In a lot of respects, the network will melt into the background - "there" will be "here" and everything will be at your fingertips.

We might see Mark Anderson' s AORTA before we thought.

1A "gift quality print" is a print from an inkjet made on photo-quality paper that, when put into a reasonably priced frame, is of sufficient quality to give as a gift. I made the benchmark and the definition up. Regardless of its origin, it is a reasonable measure of the current state of the art in home photographic technology. "Megapixels" and "dots per inch" lack the context necessary to be relevant to the average user.

2USB and Firewire are about the absolutely worst thing to happen to home network since...well, ever. IP is cheap and configurable and gives users a lot more options down the road. We don't need a new networking standard. Make it all go away. It is all too complicated and doesn't work all that great compared to an intelligent device setting at the end of an ethernet or local area wi-fi connection.

Posted by ross at 07:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2003

Worse than Dave?

Dave asks "So what's worse than a rich guy who creates format protocols that are sticky, has a high flow weblog, and a fellowship at Harvard?"

A good looking rich guy who...

Ba-dum bum. I'm here all week, try the veal.

Posted by ross at 10:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

shhh...I'm hunting wabbits...

Posts will continue to be sporadic while I do the day job thing.
Posted by ross at 05:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Client Service

From a utility perspective, I can't believe how poorly "mail" has been handled.

Someone needs to step up to the plate and solve some very basic problems.

They call email "the killer app". It manages to kill my productivity on a regular basis, but other than the basic function of shipping memo's back and forth really quickly, I'm not bowled over by the fit and finish in any of the products out there. There's a lot of ground that needs to be covered before mail is really useable and useful.

Posted by ross at 05:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ripped Off (update)....

A few of you have written to find out what happened with the copyright problem that I ran into yesterday.

I'm please to note that the semi-pleasant request actually yielded unexpected, but positive results. Within a few hours, the images had been removed from the web with other, presumably, licensed ones taking their place.

There were a few of you that wanted to hear more - I'm not talking. Things were worked out quickly and efficiently so there's no need to throw anything further into the water/onto the fire (whatever...).

I am left wondering where DRM for individuals will come from. I would love a way to protect my intellectual property at a cost that I can afford. Too much of the intellectual property discussion focuses on the rights of big business - what about little old me?

Posted by ross at 05:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ripped off...

Why do some people continue to equate "ease of access to content" with "freedom to steal content"?

I'm kind of pissed that someone has taken it upon themselves to steal a whole bunch of images from one of my galleries without my permission (expressed or implied) and used them on another website without even a passing nod in my direction.

I've already sent off a semi-polite request that the images be removed from the website in question. I wonder whether or not I will have to resort to the poor-man's DRM - public embarassment.

Posted by ross at 12:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack