Posts Tagged with “internet”

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GoDaddy supports SOPA, so let’s all move to Hover

Recently I’ve started using Hover as my main domain registrar, an excellent alternative to the popular GoDaddy which is where many people buy their domain names from. Like many others, I have got tired of GoDaddy’s site and service. Their CEO’s elephant-killing antics didn’t help with their public image too.

Today, we have another reason to ditch GoDaddy – they are a supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act. While stopping online piracy is a noble cause, this bill being put forward by US lawmakers is really dumb. So dumb that Google, Yahoo!, Twitter, Craigslist and many other internet giants are opposed against the bill. Ars Technica has a great explanation on why SOPA is so bad.

Anyway, back to Hover. Go check out their website and compare them against GoDaddy. They currently have a promotion where transferring domains to Hover only costs USD10.

P.S. Use my affiliate link and get 10% off ;) http://hover.com/clickstarter

What is a DNS block and 3 ways to get around it

Recently the Malaysian Commission for Multimedia and Communications (MCMC) issued a directive to local ISPs to filter a number of file sharing websites because they violate the Copyright Act. While some of the content may be in violation of the Act, some think the Government is being too heavy handed by issuing a blanket order to block these sites.

I don’t want to debate the Government’s decision, but I believe that sometimes there are legitimate reasons to access websites that your Government / ISP / employer doesn’t want you to. This article will explain what is DNS filtering and show you 3 ways to get around it.

What is DNS blocking?

DNS blocking or filtering is a common method of denying access to certain websites. Let’s have a look at how it works.

Each website is hosted on a web server that has a IP address. For example, the IP address for Facebook is 69.63.176.13. If you type those numbers in your web browser, you will arrive at Facebook’s website (may not work if your ISP disallows it).

However, IP addresses are not very user friendly. It’s easier to remember facebook.com than 69.63.176.13 isn’t it? Therefore the inventors of the internet also created a phone book called the Domain Name System, or DNS.

The DNS translates domain names into IP addresses so that you don’t have to remember random strings of numbers. Each ISP (e.g. Streamyx, P1, etc) have their own DNS servers that functions as phone books for their subscribers.

Whenever you type a website address into your browser, your browser first asks the ISP’s phone book what the IP address for that website. Once it’s figured out the IP address it will then load the website for you.

With DNS blocking, the ISP is simply removing the record for the blocked websites from their phone book. So when you try to load one of the blocked websites, all you get is a blank screen in your browser because it doesn’t know what the IP address is.

3 ways to get around DNS blocking

1. Use another DNS server / phone book

What do you do if your phone book doesn’t contain the address you are looking for? You use another phone book! Read More »

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Google drops H.264 support from Chrome: Who’s interest does this serve?

Earlier this month, Google announced that it will drop support for the popular H.264 video codec from it’s Chrome browser. Being the web geek that I am, I’ve researched and thought about and wrestled with this issue to the detriment of my productivity.

And after all that I have come to the following conclusion: Google is at it again. And by ‘it’ I mean being two-faced liars who have lost my trust.

For background on this issue, see these 2 excellent articles:

I want to believe that Google’s decision was motivated by the desire to help advance adoption of HTML5 video, which would make publishing video on the web so much easier. I really wish that Google is sincere in it’s claim of wanting to build an open web by promoting WebM, their open source video codec.
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Say NO to Malaysia’s three strikes law (ISP Liability Act)

The Star star reports that the Recording Industry of Malaysia is pushing for the ISP Liability Act to be tabled in Parliament. This law is the local version of the graduated response approach that recording industry groups, most notably the infamous Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)  has been lobbying for in other parts of the world.

In summary the law would hold Internet Service Providers (ISPs) responsible for acts of copyright infringement or piracy committed by their subscribers. The law is also known as the “three strikes law” because ISPs must issue 2 warnings before cutting off internet access to their subscribers, i.e. three strikes and you’re out.

This is a bad development

I am strongly against this move by the recording industry for the following reasons:

1) Policing copyright infringement is not the job of ISPs. They should be focusing on providing the best internet connectivity so that Malaysians can compete in the internet economy. Malaysian ISPs already have a tough time providing decent internet connection, now you expect them to be the piracy police?

2) Systems that monitor ISP networks for copyright infringement are not foolproof, and generally track users on a per-IP basis. DSLReports highlights a story from the UK about how an ISP highlighted the absurdity of such a system by driving around a city and downloading / pirating copyrighted songs from unprotected WiFi hotspots. They are also expensive and will increase the price of internet access for Malaysians. ISPs in New Zealand who also have a similar law are not happy about it.

3) The consumer’s rights are eroded because of a lack of due process. Because the ISP want to avoid getting fined, they may tend to be a little too trigger happy when disconnecting their users. In other countries e.g. France where similar laws have been enacted, consumers have been falsely labeled as music pirates and disconnected. After being cut off by their ISP, they face a difficult battle to subscribe to a new ISP because they have been blacklisted.

4) There are no good alternatives for consumers to download music legally in Malaysia. The truth is that the Malaysian recording industry doesn’t want you to download. In today’s day and age where almost every mobile phone can play music, they would rather you buy old-fashioned CDs. What online music download service is supported by the Malaysian recording industry? I don’t believe there are any. Please let me know in the comments if you do. With a lack of choice of legal alternatives, is it a surprise that many opt for the simple way to get music online?

The ISP Liability Act isn’t about preventing piracy, it’s about maintaining old business models for the recording industry

There are other, more effective ways to prevent piracy. Reduce the price of music. Offer affordable, legal alternatives. Put the consumer’s interest before the recording industry. Don’t cripple the digital files that you do offer with DRM. These are just some suggestions off the top of my head.

And stepping even further back, there has been no hard evidence that proves “illegal online downloads have been cannibalising the legitimate sales of music, worldwide”.

I DO NOT condone piracy

My intention is not to promote piracy and illegal copyright infringement. I am merely highlighting the flaws of this proposed law and advocate consumer rights.

I feel that Malaysian internet users should do something to express our dissatisfaction and make our views heard about this proposed law before it goes into effect. Any ideas? Do let me know in the comments.

Related reading

See the comments on No more illegal downloads? at Daily Chilli

New Straits Times: Pirated DVD buyers let off

Niki Cheong: Will the real pirates please stand up?

[RANT] Why I stopped trusting Google

Lately I’ve been telling many of my friends to be very careful about Facebook because they don’t take our privacy seriously. This past week another company joins that list – Google. In addition to privacy, their business practices also make me highly suspicious of them.

Google’s recent actions have made me stop trusting them. I admit, these are very geek reasons that many of my friends won’t understand, but they’ve made me seriously reconsider my relationship to Google and how much I should support them.

Here’s the short version. They’re a great company but they hide behind their unoficial motto of “Don’t be evil” when they are clearly happy to be a little evil. I hate it that they’re two-faced, because I can’t trust people that are two-faced.

So now, if you’ve got a little time to listen to me rant, here’s why I stopped trusting Google: Read More »

Should the USA 'protect' the internet?

Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks on Internet Freedom

2010 kicked off with a very interesting high-stakes drama unfolding between Google and China. The situation has now blown up and got the US government involved. Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a speech on Internet Freedom which basically outlined a new foreign policy for USA and extended it to the internet.

In a nutshell, the US wants to help ensure the freedom of the internet to everyone, all over the world, especially in countries like Iran and China. Erick Schonfeld in Techcrunch says it best:

Apparently, it is now the U.S. government’s foreign policy to protect and promote these freedoms throughout the information “commons” which extend beyond our physical borders.  It is also U.S. foreign policy to encourage corporations, particularly those in the technology industry, to protect these freedoms.

I’d highly encourage reading the Techcrunch article which does a great job of explaining Clinton’s speech – Hillary Clinton Extends Foreign Policy To The Internet And Wants Your Help. For background on how this all came about, check out CNET News’ roundup (Google’s challenge in China), especially this video that summarises everything – Video: China’s attack on Google explained.

My Thoughts

I’m really not a fan of politics and international relations. However this seems like a really big development that may impact the internet throughout the world, and not just in China and USA.

This also smacks of USA being the world’s sherrif, but I ask myself who else could or would even try to protect the internet. And on the other hand is China – the world’s largest country and possibly the most powerful – is censoring the media and the internet like nobody’s business. If our silly politicians here try to censor the internet we would be up in arms right?

I’m not sure how I feel about this, but I definitely don’t want the internet to be censored or for there to be a Chinese internet and an English internet. What do you think?

Photo Credit: Flickr/ U.S. State Dept