What Topic?

Oh blow me. I couldn’t make up a snazzy topic for this post. I’ll just start the ranting.

First of all SOPA, PIPA and the less known global fuckbuddy, ACTA. So there isn’t going to be a vote on SOPA. Great. PIPA is still moving ahead and it, or some re-titled successor will probably end up passing and becoming law. The protest were great and all, but how about ACTA? Where’s the blackouts and protests against ACTA? It’s a more widespread evil uncle of SOPA. It doesn’t just apply to copyrighted software or media, but would basically make ISP’s liable for stuff that their customers do, and by doing that, force them to enact draconian logging and archiving policies. Imagine being a small ISP, and having to build a whole new infrastructure to log what all your clients are doing. Either you do that, or you get sued to hell when one customer does something funny. And is someone paying for all this new logging-infra? Probably not. So it’s either goodbye for the company, or then we’re going to have raised prices everywhere for all kinds of on-line services. The other alternative is that we’re either going to end up with state-run communications companies, or a few big monopolies that control prices and services throughout the industry.

Not to mention what it’ll do to personal privacy (what little there is left). ISPs can already monitor what you do if they want (for technical reasons, mainly), but they may *have* to start doing that, just to protect their business.

Why wasn’t there more noise on ACTA? Perhaps because of SOPA and PIPA, and the noise behind that. Perhaps because ACTA was basically drafted and signed behind closed doors. No public discussion, no expert witnesses or commentators. Just good old politics. The agreement was signed on the 22nd, in Tokyo, in case you missed it. It now has to be ratified by each member state, but the pressure is on. You didn’t sign ACTA? Oh well, then I guess we’ll take our business elsewhere! Sounds like the way to go.

Poland is among the only countries that have had any large scale protests (correct me if I’m wrong here). Where’s the Internets when you need them? I hope we’ll have more protests as the member states start to try and ratify the law locally. I know where I’ll be. (The first one against the wall when the revolution starts?). I also hope that Finland will have the decency to put it up for a public vote, or at least a parliamentary vote. Not that I have much faith in those fuckers. It’s going to be “I’m 12 and what is this?” *signs paper*. Some Wikileaks stuff on ACTA here.

Some highlights:

  • In its article 27.3 the ACTA agreement calls for “cooperation” between rights-holders and the Internet service providers. The very same mechanisms are called by the European Commission as “extra-judicial measures” and “alternative to courts”. It means that police (surveillance and collection of evidences) and justice missions (penalties) could be handed out to private actors, bypassing judicial authority and the right to a fair trial.
  • In article 27.4, ACTA will allow rights-holders to obtain private data regarding the users of Internet service providers, without a decision of a judge. This is a dangerous breach to privacy. The article is non-binding (using the “may” verb), but this could be changed further, by way of amendment (see below). This would generalize a much criticized procedure included in the 2004 IPR enforcement directive.

Civil sanctions could also weight on technical intermediates and be used to pressure them to accept “cooperation”. The “damages” section of the civil chapter validates the “lost-sale myth” whereby the industry claims enormous profit losses using biased methodologies. The text requires “pre-established” damages, as well as “additional damages,” which means damages not based on any actual proof of harm and akin to a criminal sanction.

  • Article 23.4: Criminal sanctions for “aiding and abetting” infringement (it sounds just like IPRED2, which is not part of the EU acquis). These could also be used against Internet technical intermediaries and technology providers as a way to force them into accepting “cooperation” with rightsholders.
  • Article 27.2: This reference to the enforcement of “means of widespread distribution for infringing purposes” is very worrying. It could be interpreted as justifying the implementation of provisions indirectly criminalizing blogging platforms, P2P networks, free software, and other technologies that contribute to dissemination of culture and knowledge on the Internet.

My friend Macandron is leaving for a round-the-world trip with his girlfriend. Good luck, and have lots of fun. And remember to see all the places!

I’m now starting a week of winter vacation. I think I’ll try to read my book, and rest a whole lot. Not.. doing..much. Then it’s back to work. Lots of good stuff going on there, also lots of tough stuff going on.

It’s dead of winter now. Not terribly cold, yet, but we do have some snow here. Not as much as last winter, but some. January-February tend to be the coldest months in Finland. On average.

My grandfather is still in the hospital, and not doing well. My father is getting rather tired, because he’s kind of keeping it all together. It’s been a long few months. I saw my grandfather at the hospital in December, but he was kind of a shell at that point already. Partly there, partly not. Hope he’s not in pain.

OK, from these cheery subjects onwards! My son just fell asleep after a grueling 1½ hour battle.. He’ll turn five soon. He’s a great sport, but after a long week at work, you kind of wish he’d just..sleep? You know? Sometimes? Because I know that come 0800 tomorrow, he’ll be dragging me out of bed to turn on the TV and make breakfast. No problem. Nooo..problem..

I’m now going to stop typing, get a cup of coffee and watch Inception with H.





The Last Few Weeks

So an update for the last few weeks. Lessee here:

We had a major storm before Christmas, which hit our country home pretty badly. We had 15 trees fall, most of them huge. They managed to mostly miss the different houses and buildings, but the cleanup is going to take months. It ripped up 100+ year trees with roots and all. Along with that, we had some collateral damage to the water-pipes that were underground (now not underground), and some TV-coax-antenna cables. I have some pics in my Google+ account. If you wanna check some of them out, check,  http://grelbar.net/damage/

My grandfather is in bad shape. He has been in the hospital for like two months. He’s 91. I think he’s getting close to the end here, but i don’t really like thinking about that. He is afraid at the hospital, because he is cut off from everything. He hasn’t lost his mental functions, but he’s on a lot of medication, so he gets confused. He doesn’t know what time it is, or what’s going on. It was kind of sad to visit him there. But he’s had a good life. He’s a veteran of the Winter and Continuation Wars (he doesn’t talk about his experiences, perhaps because he lost all his brothers to the wars). He was a pharmacist, as was his father. Born in Viborg, which is no longer a part of Finland (lost to Russia). Anyway. Good guy. Lots of respect.

Planning for Hope Number 9 has begun, and as it looks now: I am going. With H. So it’s New York come July! Again. I got a mail from the volunteer-organizers asking if i would be helping out this year again (as i did last time), and i think i will. Such a cool experience. I calculate that the trip will cost around 2500 euros. Which is not a little sum of money. It’s about what i make a month after taxes and stuff.

Work is still good, though a bit rough. I’m going to get VMware certified this month. Also some new interesting internal and external projects.

I’m also planning to get my ham radio license with B. It will happen this year. Planning to get some hand held Yaesu radio to start off with.

The distro i’m using as of today is Debian 6 with openbox (built from the ground up by me), and on my home machine, Crunchbang. Which is.. the same thing, only pre-configured. I went through trying Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu. I was on Arch for many months, also Archbang. It’s just not for me anymore, Ubuntu and it’s children that is. Arch is kick ass, nothing to complain, but it’s a bit more high maintenance (since it’s a rolling distro) than the .deb-based ones.

Let’s see what else. I’m reading REAMDE by Neal Stephenson. It’s going to take a few more months to get done, since it’s 1100 pages. Also, i bought my first E-book! The book is called: “SSH Mastery: OpenSSH, Putty, Tunnels and Keys”, and i bought it from a site called Smashwords. Based on the experience, i can recommend it to anyone interested in getting an e-book or two. They offer a variety of formats, the price is right, and the site is easy to use. They also support Paypal (who, despite their shitty behavior in regards to Wikileaks and others) is an easy way to handle online payments. Unfortunately. I wish they were worse. I wish they killed baby seals more often. The book cost 10 dollars. So less in euros. 130 pages of solid SSH knowledge. I’m gonna devour that fucker.

Oh, and the presidential elections. We, luckily, had a sane result for the first round. In Finland, the presidential elections work so that if no candidate gets over 50% of the votes (rare), there is a second round between the two candidates that gathered the most votes. This time around, we will have Sauli Niinistö, and Pekka Haavisto on the second round. Niinistö is from the Coalition party, and Haavisto is from the Green (!) party. Neither one will piss me off too much. Pleased with the results, mainly because we ran the risk of getting a nationalist, Timo Soini, as a president. Luckily, the people who would have voted for him were either drunk, or temporarliy sane, and he only got 9.x % of the votes. He had wanted a two digit number, but he didn’t even get that. The people have spoken, now shut the fuck up.

A thing of note, to all the conservatives reading this blog: Haavisto, the Green candidate, is a vegan and openly homosexual (and in a registered partnership with a man). I love this country <—> this much more than yesterday. Thank you to everyone who showed that we are not all redneck yahoos with 20th century values. If a gay candidate can get nearly 20% of the vote, we still have some hope. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

One more thing! My good friend Macandron, is embarking on his round the world trip. Good luck to him, have fun, and learn a lot!

That’s all. For now.