Ubuntu Forums down! Security breach! Don’t panic, carry on…


Ubuntuforums.org, the bestest user forum for Ubuntu users that I know of, is offline due to a security breach whereby usernames, passwords and email addresses were compromised. This happened on 20 July, apparently, I only just noticed (come here for the latest news, eh).

Canonical, the company behind the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, and whose servers host the Forums site, have put up an announcement page, to which you get redirected if you try to browse to the forums. From what Canonical have said, it appears:

1. Usernames, passwords and email addresses have been compromised. The passwords were stored hashed, ie not in plain text, but users who use their Ubuntuforums.org password on other sites should change them, just to be sure;

2.Ubuntu One, Launchpad and other Ubuntu/Canonical services are not affected by this.

I’m wondering: the forums site was being hosted on Canonical servers, and it was compromised. But other Canonical services are unaffected… So, is Canonical giving Ubuntuforums.org second-class service? Or are all Canonical servers this badly managed, meaning users should forget about using Ubuntu One, Launchpad, etc?

I don’t want to be an asshole about this – but Canonical, WTF??!

EDIT: I’m a bit behind the times with this, but Ubuntuforums.org is up and about again.  They’ve changed the logging-in mechanism, now you need a Launchpad account too, but it’s easy to do.  Just go to Ubuntuforums.org as usual and you’ll be walked through the new process.  If you’re into Ubuntu it’s a wonderful resource, I’ve managed to keep an account there since 2007, I’ve had a shit load of infractions (official warnings), one admin said he didn’t know of anyone worse, but the community there is really good.


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US govt wants to censor *our* internet, Godammit!!


I’ve censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet–a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit:

███████ a █████ in █████ any ████████████ ████████ ██████ can, ███████ ████ █████████ ██████ a █████ or ███████ ████ in a █████████, ████ ████ any ███████’s ██████ ███████████ ████████ and █████ ██████ to ██████ ████ ████████. The ██████ ████ ██████████ and the ███████████ ████████ █████ be ████████ to ████ █████ ██████ ███████ the █████ ███████; ████ the ██████ of a “███████ ████████████” by the ███████ █████ get ███████ ████████.

It’s the █████ ██████████ by Rep. █████ █████ (R-TX) in █████’s ████████████ of the ████ ██████ ██████ Act in the US █████ of ███████████████. ████ isn’t ████ off-the-████ █████ of ███████████ ████ no ██████ of ███████, ██████; it’s the █████ ██████████ to the ██████’s ███████ IP Act, █████ █████ ██████████ █████ ████████ ██████████ to the US as a ██████ of law.

███████ its ████ a “██████-█████ ██████ to ███████ US █████████ and ███████ US ███████ of █████ █████████ to █████ of US ████████,” the new ████ █████ █████ ██████ to ███████ ██████. Any ██████ of ████████████ ████████ ██████ █████ ██████ ████ a ██████ to ad ███████ █████████ ████ ██████ and to ███████ ██████████ ████ ██████████, ████, and ██████, █████████ █████ █████████ cut off ██████ to any ████ the IP ██████ █████ as an █████████.

The ██████ is ████ ████ the ███████ ██████████ █████████ Act’s (████) “████████ ███████,” in █████ a █████████ ██████ can ██████ ████ █████ of ███████ be ███████ ████ █████ ████ ███████ ████ a ██████. The ███████ ████ be ███████ ██████ the ██████ who ██████ the ███████ ███████; at ████ █████, the █████████ ██████ can ██████ if it █████ to ████ the ██████ to █████ ████ the █████.

████, ██████, the ██████ are ██████. ██████ ████ ██████████ the ████████ of ███████ ██████ ████████, ████████████ ████████ ██████ can go ████████ for the ███████: █████████ and ███████ for the ██████ ████. So ████ as the ████████████ ████████ ███████ ███████ ████ “████████ █████” ██████████ █████ ████████████ █████, ad ████████ and ███████ ██████████ ████ ████ ████ ████ to cut off ███████ ████ the ███████ in ████████.

The ██████ is ███████ ████████ at ███████ ████████ █████ do not █████████ US law, and █████ █████████ ████ █████ ██████ to ██████ ████ ████████ ████████. But the █████████ for █████—████ ███████████ █████—████ is ███████████, █████ the ████████████ ████████ █████ ████ █████ ███████ ██████ can now ████ on █████████ ██████████.

One █████ ███████ ██████ can’t do █████ the new ████ is ████████ █████ a ████ ████ the ████████, ██████ it ██████ ███████, ███████ the ██████████ has ██████ to do it for ████. The ████ █████ ██████████ ███████ the █████ to go to █████ and ██████ an ██████████ ███████ any ███████ ███████ █████ on a █████████ ██████-█████ ████████████ to a █████. ████ ████ ███████, ████████ █████████ ████ 5 ████ to “███████ ██████ by its ███████████ ███████ ██████ the ██████ ██████ to the ███████ ██████████ ████.”

The ██████████ can ████ go █████ ██████ who ██████ a ████ ████████ for the “█████████████ or █████████” of the ████████ █████. ████ █████ ███████ █████ as a ██████ of the US ██████████’s ███████ ████████ to █████ ████████ ██████ █████ it ████████ ████ ██████████ ███████; ████ can ████████ ████████ who █████ the ████’s ███████ to its new ████████. The ██████████ has ███████ █████ Web ███████ ██████ ████ ███████ to ██████ ██████ to █████ █████ of █████. ███████ ███████, so the new ████ ████ █████ to ban ████ █████ ██████████. (████████ ████ ████████’s ███████ to a ███████ DNS ██████ in █████ to ████ a ████-████████ ████████ █████ ███████ to be █████.)

██████ ███████, too, are ████████, ████ the ████ to ███████ the ████ in ████████ “████ █████ ██████ as a ██████ █████████ ████.” ███████ ██████████ and ad ████████ █████ ████ ████ to cut off the ████.

███████, and for ████ ███████, ████████ ███████ █████████ and ███████ ██████████ get the █████ █████ to ██████ █████ ██████ to █████ on █████ own ████████—no ███████ █████ ████████████ ████ ██████. So ████ as ████ ███████ the ████ is “█████████ to the █████ of US ████████,” ████████ █████████ and ███████ ██████████ can’t be ████.
“████████ █████”

The █████ ████ is ██████████ ███████████ to a ██████ ██████████ of ████████ █████████. For ████████, ██████ ████ in the ████ of the >70-████ ████████ is a ███████████ ████ the US ████████████ ████████ ███████████ ███████████ ███████ a █████ for ████████. ████ █████ ██████ ███████ “█████████ ███████ ██████████” and ███████ to ████████ the “███████████ ████ █████████ by █████████ ███████ ██████████.” (████ █████ ████████ ████ ███████████ ██████ you █████.)

The ██████, █████ is ████████████ ███████ to ████ ██████ to the █████ of ███████ ██████, ████████ a set of ████████ ██████ ███████████████ ████ █████ “█████████ ███████ ██████████ to █████ ████████ █████ to ███████ the ██████████ of ████████████ ████████ ████████.” ██████ the ████ ████, the US ██████████ █████ be ██████████ ███████ ████ █████████ ███████ “████████ █████”—not ██████ ████ or ████████—██████ the █████.

In the ███████ for the ██████, we can ████ see the IP ██████████ █████ █████████ for its ████ ████: ████████ off ██████ to US ███████ ███████ and ██████████ █████████ ████ “████████ █████ for ████ to the ██████” in the US.
████ it ████ it is

Not all ██████████ is bad—but we ████ to ████ an ██████ ██████████ █████ ████ and how to ██████ it, ██████ ████ ████████ an █████████████ set of ██████████ █████ in ███████████ █████ ████ “█████ ████,” or by ███████ a key ███████ of the new ████ the “E-████████ Act.”

You don’t ████ to ███████ ██████—and we don’t—to see the ████ ████████ ████ ████ new ████████. ████ █████, the ████ █████████ to the US ██████████ a ████ of “█████████ ███████.” As ████ of ████ ████, the ████ ████████ “████████████” ████ ██████████, █████ are “█████████ ████████” ████ “█████ █████ █████ at █████████████ ████, all █████ █████████ ███████████ ███████████ ████████ ████ ███████████ in ████, ██████████ ███████████ █████████.”

It’s not ████ to ███████ how ████ it █████ ████ ██████ ████ █████–█████ █████████ do ████ ██████ of ████-████████ ██████████ ███████–are ████████ █████ the new law. Yet ████ ████ a ████ of █████ ████, and ████████████ ████ ██████████ ████ ████ ████████ █████ by ████ US and ████████ ██████.

Not ████████████, the new ████ is ███████ ████████ ████ ██████ ████ ████████████, █████ ██████ ██████, █████, and █████ ████ █████ its ███████. “As ███████ ██████ of the ████████, we ████████ ██████ ████████ ‘█████’ ████████ and █████ ████████████’ ████ of █████████ ██████ ████████████ of ██████████ and ██████████,” ████ █████████ ████████ ███████ ████████ in a █████████.

“███████, we do not ███████ ████ the ████████ ████ in ██████████ the ████████ and ██████████ its █████████ and ████████. We do not ███████ ████ it is █████ ███████████ a ██████ of ███████ law ████ has ██████ the █████ ██████████ for all ██████ █████. And ███████, we do not ███████ ████ it is █████ ███████████ ████ ██████ or █████████ ███████ to ████████████ ███████ ████ ████ to ███████ and ████████ the ████████ ████████ of █████ own ████████.”

██████ of law ██████████ ████ ████ ███████ the ████████ ███████ IP Act, █████ ████████ ████ of the ████ █████, is ████████████████. But the ████████ for ████ ████ of ██████████ is ███████ ██████

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A Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace


I found this declaration, by John Perry Barlow, quite a while ago. I found it interesting – it reflects a lot of what I think – but all I did was file it away for possible future reference. I mean, it’s nearly 16 years old now! But, frighteningly, it’s becoming more and more relevant all the time! Especially if you live in countries which do not explicitly protect the individual’s right to self-expression: Germany, I’m looking at you; Australia, I’m looking at you; USA, I’m increasingly looking at you; just about every other country in the world, I’m looking at you!

Rather than putting any personal spin on it, I’ve decided to just reproduce Barlow’s Declaration word-for-word. So hold onto your hats, here it comes. I urge you to read it. And think about it. If you find you disagree with what Barlow’s got to say, fine. Tell us about it in Comments: and importantly, tell us exactly what you disagree with and why. I love to hear/read you folk trying to justify what you (are told to) believe.

Read it, think about it, post about it. But please don’t ignore it. The very fact you’re reading these words prove you have some sort of interest in the phenomenon called “Cyberspace”. If you’re here, you gotta have an opinion. So what is it?

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

by John Perry Barlow

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996

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Social unrest? Blame the internet!


The past few days’ rioting in England are all due to the internet, says prime minister David Cameron.

So news of riots spread via the internet/facebook/twitter etc etc. So now Dodgy Dave says that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.

Yes, the news spread via the internet. But it also spread via the telephone, snail mail, newspapers, television, word-of-mouth. So shouldn’t we just ban communication outright?

Heck, I better get this posted then get out of here, before the government bans me!

Riot police watch a London bus burn

[If you wanna see more pretty pictures of the riots in London, go to the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” feature – link here.]

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Happy Birthday Wikipedia!


Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is 10 years old today. And to mark the event, there’s a nice little article on the Guardian’s website which tells us about its origins. Check it out, it’s an interesting read.

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless


On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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How to search the internet 4: Understanding search engine results


This is the fourth part of my guide on how to search the internet. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here. Part 5, about using “advanced operators” is here.

So you’ve used Google or some other web search engine, following the tips I’ve given you in this little series, and you’ve been confronted with “results” that don’t actually seem to be any help whatsoever. And it’s true, often Google comes across as an incomprehensible joke designed to make you feel bad. But don’t fret: Google (and its kind) really don’t want you to run screaming; they want you to use the results to find what it is you’re looking for. Unfortunately, this may involve having to learn a thing or two about how Google works. It may be scary-looking at first glance, but really Google want you to find their results pages easily to comprehend. They want you to return to Google.com every time you want help in finding what you want. It can be a rather intimidating interface the first time you look at a results page: but it is all pretty simple really. You just need to know how to understanding the reams of info Google throws at you. Hopefully, this 4th part of my guide will make it all seem far easier.

First thing first: very often Google will offer you a list of sponsored results that may give you what you’re looking for; but if you click on a sponsored link you will be putting money in Mr Google’s pocket and chances are that link will be useless. Forget the sponsored links: go for the meat and potatoes in the list of real links.

Look at the search results; very often you will find other kinds of info alongside those results. Stuff like:

Suggested spelling corrections: Google may think you typed in your query incorrectly. If you’re no good at spelling, this can be a life-saver. But if you know damn well you typed your query correctly, forget this option;

Dictionary definitions: Are you actually searching for the word/s you mean to search for? Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Think about it. Spelling can be a right tricky operation;

Cached pages: Google carries a huge number of pages that are not currently up to date. Maybe one of those cached pages may contain the info you need. Worth checking if regular searches are turning up sweet F-all;

Similar pages: Often Google won’t find a page that contains the precise info you want, but it has algorithms to turn up similar results. Have a look at them, you’ve nothing to lose really…;

News headlines: A webpage dealing with your query might be hard to find, but it’s often easier for Google to find news stories on related material. And these news stories may well include links to more relevant info. This can save you a bunch of time searching for that little nugget of info that will give you what you want. Remember: news stories are updated frequently, whereas a static page may never be more relevant. Use those options;

Product search: You want to know something about a particular project name. So search for that project name, add a bit of info on what the product can/is meant to do, and see what turns up. This approach works a lot more than you might think;

Translation: So what you want isn’t available in your mother tongue. But it may well be out there for speakers of other languages. Just think: if you are looking for info on a product released by a Portugese company, what makes you think that info will be in English? Search Portugese sites, using Google’s Translation feature or the other translators offered by search services. These translators are often pretty crap; but at least it’ll give you a good idea of what’s what;

Do book searches: Useful info may not yet be available in articles, but books often contain useful stuff. So it can often be a good idea to do a book search;

Cached pages: When a web page is undergoing a lot of changes, clicking on a Google link to a page might take you to the latest version of that page, which may be missing information that was presented some time before. Sometimes, these changes can happen frequently, so a Google link will not take you to the info that the search results first suggested.

Fortunately, Google will often cache an earlier version of the page. So, let’s say a particular page yesterday contained the info you want; but you go to today’s version of the page no longer holds that info. A problem? Not necessarily. Next to the Google link to the updated page will be a link to a [i]cached[/i] version of the page; basically, a version of the page that Google downloaded and cached before the important info was removed. So you click to navigate to the cached page, and you will find the info as it was before it got removed. Google’s system of caching certain pages helps ensure that the history of the web is respected to a certain extent.

If you want to download a version of a page that existed longer ago (several weeks, or months, maybe even years) you can go to [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] at archive.org. This is a project to archive internet sites the way they were in the past, so the current generation’s “now now now” attitude doesn’t drive the history of internet sites into oblivion. [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] doesn’t promise to archive the internet of the past forever; but it is a very useful project that has a multitude of potential uses. Archive.org, like most such projects, is run by volunteers and is always in need of financial support, as well as more practical support such as providing servers. I’d advise anyone who finds such projects very useful to contribute even just a few dollars.

There’s a lot of info on how to understand Google results, and how to configure the way Google works to it gives you the info you want and hopefully protects your privacy, here: http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/. I really advise anyone who’s seriously into using Google as best they can to check out this info. Google really is one of the best resources available online… and it’s free! Let’s make the most of it while we can! Before the goddamn Man tries to take it away from us!

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