Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Web

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  • Steve Withers, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Ask Jeeves was pretty good until they started ranking paid-links ahead of the links one might be looking for. Several search engines went that way. Google resisted and was then able to persist. Certainly this is why I kept using Google. They provided results we wanted. But now they only provide the results they are allowed to provide and what we search for is being watched by the security agencies of several countries. So far, I’ve refused to allow that to “chill” my internet freedom…..but at the same time I’m aware that one day my stubbornness may be used against me or my loved ones.

    I remember the lessons of WW I conscription. First people were required to register for conscription. Then later they were conscripted. It was MUCH harder to hide if you had registered in the first place…and much easier to hide if you avoided the whole thing right from the start.

    I keep that lesson in mind every time I open a web browser…aware that for me, it’s already too late. In for a penny…In for a pound.

    Aside from all that....USENET Newsgroups were the battlefield upon which I regularly made a dick of myself, firm in the belief that if someone said something wrong on the Internet it was my sacred mission to put them right. I'm much humbler now and I learned about trolls, too. The web.....it's awesome.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    In one of my earlier posts I touched on how “those evil hackers” actually had a great deal to do with the development of the web and computers in general and how that has changed with time.
    Tim Berners Lee has this to say.

    Speaking with The Guardian earlier today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee described his belief that increasing government and corporate influence have strained the open architecture of the Web, jeopardizing the independence, neutrality, and freedom upon which the system was originally built.

    Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee calls for digital “Magna Carta”

    We need a global constitution—a Bill of Rights. Unless we have an open, neutral Internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities, and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.

    “The price of peace is eternal vigilance”.
    Many have been credited with this statement but it matters not who said it but what it means. If we lose the freedom of the web to share information freely then we may as well lose our freedom all together.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Steve Withers,

    Ask Jeeves was pretty good until they started ranking paid-links ahead of the links one might be looking for. Several search engines went that way.

    My memory is that most search engines had caved in to this practice and thus were becoming less and less useful.

    Google resisted and was then able to persist. Certainly this is why I kept using Google. They provided results we wanted.

    Didn't they just! I recall it seeming a little like magic.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    My memory is that most search engines had caved in to this practice and thus were becoming less and less useful.

    Not only did Google not cave in but actively worked in the opposite direction. Back in 2010 they gave us "Caffine"

    Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it's the largest collection of web content we've offered.

    Then, with all this at your fingertips there were those that took advantage of this new algorithm to push their own advertising onslaught into your searches, Google fought back.
    Google Revamps to Fight Cheaters

    Google said it changed its mathematical formula late Thursday in order to better weed out "low-quality" sites that offer users little value. Some such sites offer just enough content to appear in search results and lure users to pages loaded with advertisements.

    Not content with that They gave us...
    "Hummingbird"

    ...about a month ago, the company swapped out its search-ranking algorithm for a new one, code-named Hummingbird, that can handle more complex queries faster.

    But there is more to come...
    Google revamps its search engine and wants to be implanted in your brain

    The mind, having boggled, boggles on.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    www.govt.nz in 1996

    Managed by Colin Jackson and coded (IIRC) by one Nat Torkington.

    I didn't take it over until 2000, by which time it had become a PHP/MySQL based beast known as NZGO.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    Can anyone else here claim an active 18 year old email address? Even more scary, I’ve never deleted a non-spam message or disposable notification.

    I've had my current email address (not the Gmail one - my real email address) since 1995. And its domain name. Never really bothered with a website for some reason, though I've used the webspace it offers occasionally for special purposes.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to JWT1,

    How about a shout out for Lou Montulli, one of the developers of Lynx, a text only web browser released in 1992 and still in use. I used it for years after Netscape became available if I was on a slow connection. Lynx was developed by students at the University of Kansas

    Lynx is awesome for doing accessibility assessment on websites. Problems stand out like a dog's balls.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I am really quite surprised, if not astounded, that this thread has received so little response

    I've been busy, mmmkay?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2932 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    all god's chilun got algae riddim...
    meet the simplex algorithm*

    YOU MIGHT not have heard of the algorithm that runs the world. Few people have, though it can determine much that goes on in our day-to-day lives: the food we have to eat, our schedule at work, when the train will come to take us there. Somewhere, in some server basement right now, it is probably working on some aspect of your life tomorrow, next week, in a year’s time.

    *10-day access only
    try this txt version


    Google goggle boondoggle boggle
    Despite oodles of boodle
    labyrinthine noodle doodles can
    lead to canoodles and toodles...
    it could all turn to zip...

    Sergey Brin’s affair with employee Amanda Rosenberg created strife within Google: report
    The Google co-founder, 40, has carried on the affair with Rosenberg, a Google Glass marketer in her mid-20s, for at least a year. The relationship led Brin to separate with his wife, Anna Wojcicki, and caused him to stop talking to his longtime friend, Google co-founder Larry Page.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • kiwicmc, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    There's a complex Venn diagram to be produced describing Public Address readers. IT nerds, geeks of a various persuasions, unreconstructed lefties, musicologists, travellers, possibly Graeme Edgeler sitting in a circle all of his own...

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since May 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    vicious knitting circles

    meow

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    Superbly illustrated Sacha ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    While we’re on the subject of how secure we feel….
    How about these apples? or any other make of device for that matter…
    NSA’s automated hacking engine offers hands-free pwning of the world
    With Turbine, no humans are required to exploit phones, PCs, routers, VPNs.

    Turbine is part of Turbulence, the collection of systems that also includes the Turmoil network surveillance system that feeds the NSA’s XKeyscore surveillance database. While it is controlled from NSA and GCHQ headquarters, it is a distributed set of attack systems equipped with packaged “exploits” that take advantage of the ability the NSA and GCHQ have to insert themselves as a “man in the middle” at Internet chokepoints.

    Be afraid… Be fairly afraid…

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Here we are. A rare surviving screenshot of x-Ville. I’ve looked for this image several times and this little gif is all there was.

    Christ. Serious flashbacks, and I never used Xtra.

    Can anyone else here claim an active 18 year old email address?

    21 years in a few months. Though it helped that I work at the same place I went to uni.

    And ihug flat rate accounts changed my life. Fantastic.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    yes, one of us is being a bitch

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Apparently, we are all just a little bit paranoid...
    NSA says “indiscriminate” Facebook hacking allegations “are simply false”
    So. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    So. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Of course the hacking is not indiscriminate. They're deliberately targeting everybody.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    My university email is more than 24 years old and still works well--except for the irritating requirement to change my password every 90 days.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Everybody on Facebook and that ain't everybody.
    I, for one, refuse to bare my soul to a sole assole.
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Lipscombe, in reply to ange wither,

    Brisbane-based Digital Video Productions -- acquired by Telecom as part of their ill-fated PacStar purchase -- was contracted to produce the first Xtra site. Being mostly developers of interactive training materials on CD-i, they went for a home page that at something like 200KB took an age to load over a 14.4k modem. Neal Stephenson's Snowcrash was required reading for all new employees, and the company was hooked on turning Xtra into some version of the Metaverse. It was never going to happen, but this was also one of the drivers behind the e-ville look and feel of the home page.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2011 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Chris Lipscombe,

    Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash

    Publication date June 1992
    That man could see into the future with a clarity matched only by the NSA's spying network...

    The story begins in Los Angeles in the unspecified future, no longer part of the United States. The federal government of the United States has ceded most of its power to private organizations and entrepreneurs. Franchising, individual sovereignty, and private vehicles reign (along with drug trafficking, violent crime, and traffic congestion). Mercenary armies compete for national defense contracts while private security guards preserve the peace in sovereign, gated housing developments. Highway companies compete to attract drivers to their roads and all mail delivery is by hired courier. The remnants of government maintain authority only in isolated compounds where they transact tedious make-work that is, by and large, irrelevant to the dynamic society around them.

    Uncanny.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Attachment

    Is this good news?
    In sudden announcement, US to give up control of DNS root zone

    The new change is in advance of the upcoming ICANN meeting to be held in Brazil in April 2014. Brazil and other nations have fumed at revelations of American spying on its political leaders and corporations, which were first revealed in September 2013 as the result of documents distributed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The South American country also threatened to build its “own cloud,” as a consequence of the NSA’s spying.

    The " threatened to build its “own cloud,”" bit made me smile though... visions of "my own little black cloud"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Lindsay Vette,

    I always laugh a bit when people talk about the internet starting with Tim Berners-Lee. I'm an old geek and to me the Internet is the underlying infrastructure that's been around since I was in primary school in the 60s. I have used email, Usenet, BBS type discussion boards and knowledge sharing applications since 1984 when I joined Digital Equipment Corporation (now subsumed by HP). My wife was one of the original Xtra employees, and I still use my XTRA address from back then. But I had been using email for 10 years by then.

    Tauranga • Since Nov 2006 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Thrash Cardiom, in reply to BenWilson,

    Pipped me by a couple of years. I have 16 year old email address on my own domain.

    CHB • Since Nov 2006 • 55 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Lindsay Vette,

    I always laugh a bit when people talk about the internet starting with Tim Berners-Lee. I’m an old geek and to me the Internet is the underlying infrastructure that’s been around since I was in primary school in the 60s. I

    Strictly speaking, you'd have to say the real internet infrastructure only arrived with with the TCP/IP cutover on January 1, 1983. Computers could barely converse in the 60s.

    But I think most of the people reading this thread do understand the difference between the internet and the Web. It's just that the latter was transformational on a global scale.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

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