Podcast conversation about mesh networking

25/11/2014

Very interesting conversation podcast about mesh networking, the obstacles and the ways to circumvent them. Mentions the Open Garden project, a mesh networking utility for Android smartphones and for Windows and Mac laptops (support for iOS is coming). It’s a free app that turns your device into a mobile hot spot. No matter how you’re connected to the Net (Wi-Fi or cellular), it makes that connection shareable (over Bluetooth) to other Open Garden users. Likewise, if you’re running the product but don’t have a connection to the Net, and you’re near a user who does, this service seamlessly gets you online. The conversation describes the military’s application of mesh networking. I think we need the decentralization of connectivity that mesh networking offers. As during the “Arab spring”, governments can shut down the internet in its territory. Mesh networking will get round that. The sophistication of smartphones and other gadgets and the RF power available to consumers nowadays means that a decentralized network that can route around censorship will soon be a reality.

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from www.interference.cc

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from http://www.interference.cc

Mentions Open Garden, Tropos, plus technology such as utilities meters being part of a wireless mesh network so the meter reader doesn’t actually need physical access to read the meter.

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Gerry Adams released after 4 days of questioning

05/05/2014

Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, has been released after 4 days’ questioning about the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, who had been falsely identified as a police informant or “tout”. The Guardian newspaper reported:

Adams will refocus on election campaigning on Monday as the political fall-out from his release from police custody continues to reverberate around Stormont and beyond.

The republican party is holding a European election rally in Belfast tonight, with a similar event planned in Dublin on Tuesday, as Adams resumes the canvassing activities he claims his detention was designed to thwart.

Michael McConville, son of Jean, claims he was “threatened” by Adams after the Sinn Fein president was released. McConville told the BBC “Today” programme: “Gerry Adams says to me, ‘Michael, you are getting a letter of support from the republican people’. He says, ‘if you release the names I hope you are ready for the backlash’.

McConville said that “could” have meant a backlash against the peace process but said he took it to mean the “backlash from republican people”. He reasserted: “I took it as a threat.”

I think it may be a good idea to take a deep breath, step back and think about the situation as a whole. For many years Adams was the leader of Sinn Fein at a time when a whiff of IRA was enough to get you locked up.

The IRA’s “bullet and ballot box” strategy meant that Sinn Fein’s politicians had to be above serious allegations. No doubt Adam’s had great support in the IRA, but it’s too surreal for me to accept that Adams gave individual kill orders.

The days of the Provisional IRA are over. I’m sure the PIRA could muster well-armed, well-positioned support if events justified it, but the “Real” IRA and its mostly criminal support are giving Republicanism a bad name. Maybe it’s time for the Provos to clean up their house? It will lend Sinn Fein support it’s been losing lately, and it will act as a cautionary tale. The PIRA is being quiet, but it could make one hell of a noise if the leader requires it. Then again, a few well-placed gunshots could end the insurrection – and the PIRA are famous for their bullet delivery.

So, are the Provos down and out? I doubt it. They have many dedicated soldiers, they have large undeclared arms caches. Over the years of peace, the PIRA have lost mainstream support, which has been transferred to Sinn Fein, often described gleefully by the British press as “The IRA’s political wing.” Let’s turn that expression on its head: The PIRA is Sinn Fein’s military wing. If IRA leadership feel that Sinn Fein is being cornered “they may declare the “bullet and ballot-box” experiment over. Is that what Cameron wants to be remembered for?

When the PIRA decided to play the “bullets and ballot box” game, they knew that their politicians had to be whiter than white. Gerry Adams etc would be rotting in jail otherwise. Questioning Adams for days on the back of what can’t be more than hearsay evidence is a ridiculous fishing expedition. Is Cameron & Co really be that stupid. By the look of it: Yes.


OMG! Now the UK government want to privatise the police!!

03/03/2012

Is it just me, or has the entire world gone crazy?  (Yeah yeah, I know the world has always been crazy, but just lately it seems to have gone super=crrrazy.)

Everyone born pre-1981 knows the Conversatives have exhibited pro-privatisation personality disorders for a looong time.  They shut up about it a little while in Opposition, but now they’re back, loonier than ever.  The Guardian has revealed that the Cons (and their poodle Coalition “partners” the Lib Dems, may their duplicitous souls rot in Hell for eternity) are planning to privatise the frakking police!!!

The Home Office says it’s necessary to make the police more efficient to meet expenses cutback goals.  But if that’s true, why are they refusing to release the business plan, even in the face of FOI requests?  This kind of secrecy tells me that the government have something to hide.  Which of course is impossible, following Cameron and Clegg statements about “open government”.

What really concerns me is the powers these private cops will have.  A 26 page “commercial in confidence” (whatever that means) says these private pigs’ powers will not include those that “involve the power of arrest and the other duties of a sworn constable.”  But the “breath-taking” list of powers include:

investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions, such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources

That list (which doesn’t include the power of arrest but does include “detaining suspects”???) is worrying enough.  But on top of all that, the privatisation means that the police will be less accountable to the public, and people will no longer be able to go to the Independent Police Complaints Commission if they have a problem.  So what you gonna do if the rent-a-cops give you an undeserved kicking?  The IPCC and the police won’t care: “Sorry mate, not my department.” What kind of chilling effect might this have on legitimate protest? The power “to detain suspects” sounds rather like the power to carry out kettling operations. Ho many more Ian Tomlinsons will die, and how will we hold the murderous rent-a-cops to account?

But don’t worry too much.  My magic 8-ball tells me the privatisation of the police will be the least of our worries, when more of Cameron’s dark desires are revealed.  Tell me, Clegg – what does it taste like, when your tongue is stuck up the PM’s butt?

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Wednesday 18 January 2012… The Day The (Online) World Stood Still

19/01/2012

Thursday, 19 Jan 2012

Well, what a to-do “Blackout Wednesday” caused! A world of students couldn’t do their homework because Wikipedia went offline (Does serve em right though…students should not be using Wikipedia as the basis of their online research/plagiarism. Google and Bing were still working, as were most other websites; and in a worst-case scenario they could still haul ass to the local library and, you know, look at an actual book!. In fact, all sorts of stuff happened (or didn’t happen) during Black-out Wednesday – far too much for me to catalogue here – so here’s a link to a Guardian webpage that handily links on to lots of news and comment on the momentous day and its meanings and effects.

I’m not an American, and, like most people (including Americans FFS!), I don’t know much about the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws. But I do know this: SOPA/PIPA will enable intellectual property owners (mostly media, movie and music corporations) to block access to any websites the corporations claim are infringing their intellectual property rights – without any judicial or statuary oversight. And Americans won’t be the only victims of this censorship. As a lot of the internet’s infrastructure goes through the USA or US-related systems, online users everywhere will be affected. SOPA/PIPA isn’t just an American problem: its tendrils reach out everywhere. So come on, American action heroes – it’s time for you to save the world again!

I already said I’m not a PIPA/SOPA expert. But these guys are. So click that link (here it is again), find out what SOPA and PIPA would actually mean to your life, and learn what you can do to stop it. There’s some pretty simple action you can do to help, without even leaving your seat – but, because PIPA and SOPA are US legal proposals, only Americans can do them. So go on, USA, do the right thing – cos if you don’t, it might end up that no one anywhere will be able to do their homework from the comfort of their basement!!! :p

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Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed by Met cop Harwood – and that’s official!!

03/05/2011

Today an inquest jury delivered a verdict of “unlawful killing” in the case of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper seller who died after being attacked by a Metropolitan Police constable.  And the copper in question is PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”.

This blog has covered this case a couple of times – like here, and here – but here’s a quick recap.  On 1 April 2009 there was a demonstration in central London where the G20meeting was taking place.  Some demonstrators had gotten a bit rowdy, as had a number of the coppers policing the event, and the “Territorial Support Group” was out on the streets to restore “order”.  At about 7.20pm by the Royal Exchange Building, Ian Tomlinson was making his way home after a day’s work selling newspapers.  There were protesters nearby, and TSG officers, but Tomlinson was categorically not involved in the protests so it’s not at all clear why he attracted the attention of police officers.  But he did\get the attention of PC Simon Harwood.  There is CCTV footage of Mr Tomlinson walking past Harwood and other cops: then, for no apparent reason, Harwood is seen to run up behind Mr Tomlinson and shoved him forcibly in the back. It later transpired that Harwood had hit him with a baton.  Mr Tomlinson fell heavily to the ground and died.  There were a total of 4 postmortems carried out on Mr Tomlinson’s body: the first pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel, found that he died of a heart attack caused by coronary disease; but 3 other pathologists contradicted him, saying the cause of death was internal bleeding in the abdomen.

The Met tried hard to sweep this tragic event under the carpet: first of all he was painted by them as a violent protester; then, when it was made clear that he wasn’t involved in the demonstration, it was suggested that he was injured by protesters, and that he died because protesters prevented the heroic efforts of police officers to render first aid.  But of course, the CCTV footage put the lie to that bunch of crap.

Still the authorities tried to cover up for one of their own: the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge Harwood with any offence, even though the video and the testimony of witnesses attested to the cop’s vicious attack.  They tried hard to hide the truth; but public outrage finally forced them to hold  a public inquest into Mr Tomlinson’s death.

And that inquest has now found that Ian Tomlinson was unlawfully killed.  The jury declared that Tomlinson was, beyond reasonable doubt, killed by the baton attack and the shove.  Harwood’s attack was “unreasonable”.

The jury went on to say:

“As a result, Mr Tomlinson suffered internal bleeding which led to his collapse within a few minutes and his subsequent death.” The jury decided that at the time of the strike and push Tomlinson was was walking away from the officer and “posed no threat”.

The verdict was “unlawful killing”.  The killer was officer Simon Harwood.    So now Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, is going to have to decide whether or not to charge Harwood with the killing; and his decision last year not to charge Harwood with manslaughter is going to be reviewed.  Maybe, just maybe, the family of Ian Tomlinson will see justice done.

A still from the CCTV footage showing Harwood deliver the fatal blow

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Question: Who is/are “Anonymous”? Answer: No one/everyone.

15/03/2011

Just read about the “hacker group” Anonymous’ release of apparently incriminating emails from the Bank of America. This story really annoys me. Not because I’m a Bank of America fan – I’m pissed off with the Guardian for describing Anonymous as a “hacker group”.

The Wikipedia article on Anonymous. describes it well – it says:

is an Internet meme originating 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many on-line community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain.[1] It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.

Anonymous is not a hacker group in the sense you’d usually expect: there’s no organization, no hierarchy, no agreed agenda. Anyone with the required know-how and/or tools can do some cyber-vandalism or cut-and-paste someone’s email, then say it was done by Anonymous.

So who is Anonymous? Everyone. No one. Me. You. Anyone. Please bear that in mind next time you see a report that “Anonymous” did something.

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Check out the IFJ’s Survival Guide for Journalists.

09/02/2011

After my recent post on “How to survive a riot”, I have discovered the International Federation of Journalists’ Survival Guide for Journalists.

The IFJ guide is not riot-specific – it covers a variety of dicey situations, such as “war zones and conflict areas”, “riots and civil disorder” and “abductions, hostage taking and targeting journalists”. It also has chapters on emergency first aid and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

I haven’t read the Guide yet – Goddess, I only just found the thing! – but its blurb makes it sound pretty useful, lots of advice in one handy volume. And what’s even cooler, you can download it for free in pdf format from here

So check it out. Who knows – maybe one day it’ll save your life.

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