Sunday, October 18, 2009

Maldives, my kind of government

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

So it has happened. The world's first cabinet meeting under water. When the Maldives' cabinet held a plenary session under water they definitely raised my interest in the country. I don't think we will see Joe Hockey and Kevin Rudd getting into their wet suits to discuss climate change in the near future.

Whoever votes to move part of the cabinet work under water gets my vote in the next election.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hmmmm, practicing for long deco perhaps

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Apparently, there is a Guinness world record to break for spending the longest time under water. Yesterday, the Irishman Sean McGahern spent 27 hours under water to smash the previous 24 hours to pieces. The record breaking took place in Malta. One may wonder what the point of that is, but then again, people seem to do just about anything to break a record.

I had better rethink my thinking that 15 min deco is boring if I wan to get into that sport.

Video at:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tech gear

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

It may be a late revelation, but it seems to me as if the tech dive industry is moving towards a low cost breakthrough. I was searching a bit yesterday and found some threads on fora such as scubaboard about new tech dive gear. For example, EDGE-HOG, Highly Optimised Gear. It seems there is a factory somewhere in Taiwan that makes much of the techie gear and things are re-badged under different names. For example, look at this regulator from HOG.

This looks surprisinly much like an APEKS to me.

Tech Diving Limited is selling the HOG second stage plus a first stage that also looks much like an APEKS first stage together with an SPG and hoses for $249. The Wings on the HOG web site also retails for $199 about half of what looks like a standard OMS or DiveRite wing.

Does this signal the start of a price collapse for tech dive gear? If it is possible to manufacture and retail for such low prices and the gear is very similar, interesting development. It will be interesting to follow the development and see if there will be any reviews of this stuff.

New Canon G11 - even better for Underwater photos

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Canon has just released the new G11 compact and it has some interesting features for UW shooters.

Most notably, Canon has reversed the trend of hunting for increased pixel density and instead gone for image quality. The new G11 has a 10 Mpixel sensor which is significantly down from the G10's 14 Mpixels. Canon wanted to create a camera that can truly work as a replacement for a DSLR in some situations, such as journalism where photographers may want to take photos without being too intrusive. This camera is built to provide much better low light and difficult light results. For an underwater photographer that sounds heavenly.

I am waiting for dpreview to test its capabilities. It is clear that it will be much much cheaper to go G11 and housing than any dSLR and housing / ports.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Canon D5 Mark 2 Underwater video review

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Backscatter has posted a review of the Canon 5D mark 2. There are lots of reviews around about its capabilities and pros and cons but what makes this one stand out is that it is a dedicated underwater review and also about the specific task of producing underwater video. Who would have thought a couple of years ago that DSLR would come this far.

The resulting video is stunning

View the 720p video for some nice shots of dolphins and sharks in the Bahamas. I know this is a bit of a promotional video urging us all to open up our wallets, but it is clear one can create very nice video photography with this gear. Unfortunately, the initial setup cost (without the scooter) is around USD 10.000, a new car.

Well, one day when housings get cheaper perhaps.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Olympus E-620 Underwater test

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

DPreview has released a test, well a story more than a test, of the Olympus E-620 in the PT-E06 Olympus housing. One of their reporters went on a dive holiday to the Philippines and brought this setup along, together with two sea and sea YS 100 strobes.

The general opinion is that the setup is working well, the housing is of reasonable quality and she also seemed happy with the new 9-18 mm wide angle lens. My friend Taso has the E-520 in the PT-E05 housing (almost identical setup) with the 50 mm macro lens and dedicated INON magnetic manual focus ring port and he took it diving for the first time last weekend. It was clear, looking at the first photos that the macro lens can yield some very good results, especially with the two INON strobes he uses, even spread light etc.

I am getting more and more interested in this combination as the upgrade path from my current Canon G7 in Ikelite housing. First, the Olympus body seems to be very reasonable with many features that are nice for underwater use such as fast focussing and inbuilt image stabilisation in the body. Second, the housing is cheap compared with most other housings on the market. Third, with the catering for popup flash one can use any strobe, in my case I have an INON z240.

I have been toying with the thought of buying a housing for my Canon 40D. The only reasonable housing seems to be the Ikelite but since it does not allow the flash to pop up and the TTL circuitry only supports Ikelite strobes, I would have to buy two new Ikelite strobes of many $100 a pop. The Olympus alternative sounds more reasonable.

Without having searched for the the cheapest prices, BHphoto lists the 620 housing for USD570 and the 9-18mm wide zoom is USD510. The PT-E06 housing is AUD 1200 or so locally and the PPO-E04 dome port plus the PER-E01 spacer ring is about USD1100 at BHPhoto. I bet you need some gears etc. on top of that.

Not cheap, but still cheaper than going Canon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Getting the iPhone to work with Exchange and Google

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Thanks to some new features in OS 3.0 I finally managed to get my iPhone to synchronise both with my work email and Google calendars.

The problem with the iPhone is that it can only have one exchange account active at the time. Since my employer (the University of Sydney) mandates the use of Microsoft Exchange, I am forced to synchronise my emails using this server and that has left me without any means of synchronising with Google calendar. Google mail has been easy for a while using an IMAP account.

The new trick that works well is to use CalDAV to Google, and even though there are some rumours that this only allows one way synchronisation, I can create new events on the iPhone and they show up on the Google web interface so all is good.

Here is what I had to do.

I created an exchange account to the University and set up mail and contacts but I deactivated the calendar option for this account since I don't use the corporate calendar. If you leave it turned on, the entries will be merged in iPhone. You will also have to set the default calendar in settings>mail, contacts, calendar down the bottom, settings for calendars.

I created an IMAP account on the iPhone:

settings> mail,contacts,calendars> add account

select Gmail account type
enter as address and fill in password
set outgoing server to

Create a new account for the calendar
settings> mail,contacts,calendars> add account
account type other
select CalDAV

Server name
user name (your gmail account name)
password (your password)

Now, the email client should have two accounts, one for the exchange mail and one for the Google mail. The calendar application should have your Google calendar contents and you should be able to create and read events on the iPhone as well as the web.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pshycho babel fish

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

My wife bought a little craft set for my oldest daughter to do now at the start of the school holidays and here starts the story of the Chinese cutting corners on translation and using babel fish instead.

The craft set is something called "colorized scalewing of flutter" from a company called Karry. The description on the package (and I suspect this is why my wife purchased this specific product) states:

Colorized Scalewing of Flutter is a new product congregated with toy and DIY together, using your both hands to portray and assembled beautiful colorized scalewing. set free your polychrome dream in the play.

Then the packaging goes on to describing HOW to set free the polychrome dream as follows:

Playing method:

1) Unscrew the outer lid (OK I follow so far)
2) Smear different colors glittery glue on wing of Scalewing, beautiful and likable (Hmm, alright I get the gist)
3) Hang the small colorized scalewing after was finish. That will have a distinctive gout. (No, lost me there)
4) We can make it as pendant or hang it on the bag,and you will feel very complacent.I (Surely someone is taking the piss)

The packaging warns:
Not suitable for children under 3 years due to small parts.

I think what they meant was:
It is not suitable for children under 3 years to run export companies, play with lego instead.

Isn't it great to see what Australian shops import and sell to us, such quality products. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about just how much the shops care about the products they sell.

Lesson learned, don't use babel fish to translate instructions and manuals. Hire someone who speaks the language in question.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Waterproof compacts

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

I wonder if waterproof compacts are the best option when getting into underwater photography on a budget. Having flooded a Canon G7 in a flimsy WPDC-11 housing a couple of years ago, I know it can easily happen and it is costly. Olympus has a range of shock/water proof compacts that have housings available on the market. The cameras don't look like they would produce professional quality shots, but for the enthusiast!!

Pentax just released the new OPTIO W80 (available in July). The camera looks very interesting and would probably produce acceptable UW shots (I don't know about RAW). The question is, will there be a housing available for it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Found an article about a new global movement called craftivism. The idea is to use handcraft to change the world for example by making happier looking crocheted coats for tanks.

Isn't this the ultimate passive resistance movement in a sense? I would have loved one of those when I did compulsory military service in far northern Sweden in -30 C for a year and a half. The tank was cold from time to time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snorkelling trail

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

This is something I like. In Haninge in the south of Stockholm, the local council has put together a track for snorkelers. The track runs along a sandy bottom in shallow waters and is made of a runner to follow as well as information plaques. The plaques are educational, telling the snorkeler about the flora and fauna they have around them.

This is a great idea, I reckon the coastal councils in Sydney should consider this for the community, perhaps coupled with an artificial reef in Gordon's bay or similar. How about a section for snorkelers and a deeper section for scuba divers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Olympus micro four thirds released and tested

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

So finally, Olympus has released the E-P1 micro four thirds system and DP review has done a test.

It will be very interesting to see how the underwater photography market will take to this standard and overall type of camera. It is really an interesting concept with compact size, back LCD display and interchangeable lenses for wide angle and macro.

The E-P1 is basically an E-610 in a tiny package so there are lots of goodies and features as well as a sturdy metal body. It does however, not have inbuilt flash which would be an issue if you have got the wrong strobe for whatever housing will come out for it, and its conversion circuitry.

Check out the DP review article.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pirates in the EU

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

So it happened. In the election to the EU parliament, the Swedish pirate party managed to get over 7 % of the votes and thus scored a set in the parliament. Their only agenda is to allow free downloads over the Internet. I love European democracy, so corny compared with the Australian Labour - Liberal two party set agenda nothing ever changes politics.

However, I don't think we will see 'downloads of anything' legalised in a while.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Conroy backflips

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Finally it seems, has senator Conroy realised the political incorrectness of his mandatory filtering mantra.

Yesterday, senator Conroy stated in a senates estimate committee that Internet filtering wold remain voluntary in Australia. This is in stark contrast to his former stance where he has diligently been telling the entire ISP industry to keep quiet and stop questioning his authority.
Telecom TV reported over night but funnily enough there is nothing in Australian media as yet.

Lets hope that Xenophon remains sensible about the issue.

However, Labour has not given up on their plans altogether, Conroy states that if there would be majority in the senate, they would push legislation through. Let's hope there is time at least to gain some knowledge and more insight into the entire matter so that sensible decisions can be made if that time would to come.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

I noticed today that NICTA (a research institute here in Australia) uses some interesting terminology to specify how its research should be categorised. NICTA is following a model proposed by Donald Stokes where the term used is 'used-inspired basic research'. The analogy is 4 quadrants where in one dimension there is scientific advancement and in the other application or usefulness. The 4 quadranta then have a yes or no along the two columns or rows. In one quadrant there is yes-advancing knowledge and no-no practical application called the Bohr quadrant, in another there is no, does not advance knowledge and yes-practical application called the Edison quadrant. In the third useful quadrant (the no,no is not particularly interesting but can often be seen in grant applications) we find Louis Pasteur who made foundational contributions as well as gave us nice and bacteria free milk. The Pasteur quadrant represents the 'use-inspired basic research', fair enough.

However, stumbling across the NICTA entry on wikipedia, I find that the organisation is muddying the waters a bit. They talk about 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research' as well. OK so now we have what the rest of the world uses, 'pure, basic or foundational research' and 'applied research' as well as the Stokes' 'use-inspired pure research' as well as the NICTA 'pure basic research' and 'pure applied research'. I believe seeking to prove that it is possible to prove P=NP if indeed it holds true should be regarded as 'applied basic pure research' because it is useful to know that a proof can be found if indeed it holds true that it is so and that is applied, but the proof itself (if it indeed is true) is to be regarded as F***ing pure basic for most people.

It should also be made known that proving that it is possible to construct a pair of shoes that will not wear out for at least 10.000 km of normal walk so that it is possible to investigate the effects on human psyche having to walk for that long, should be regarded as 'pure applied use-inspired basic research'.

Now back to that 'no,no' grant application..

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Public lecure video

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Last Friday I gave a public seminar on the proposed filtering of the Internet by the Australian government. A video of the talk is now available on the school of IT web site. The current version is mp4 encoded, flash video will come later.

Update, an embedded flash version is now available here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Interesting NBN news

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

The government should be congratulated on the courageous plan to build a government/industry funded broadband network as announced earlier today. Coming from outside Australia and seeing the close to monopoly position Telstra currently have one may wonder why this has not happened before. Perhaps now we can get SIP pops and IPTV plus video on demand like civilised countries. This will inevitably open up opportunities for innovation and service roll out in Australia. If the government combine the one laptop per child, NBN and a building policy that each home should have at least one networked computer as minimum standard as is the case in countries such as Sweden, perhaps Australia will be able to embrace this crazy thing called the Internet and start to take advantage of its enabling powers and information distribution capabilities.

One worry though; if the government owns the national backbone, wouldn't that be the perfect place for content filters? This way the government fully control the Internet and will not have to deal with irritating and questioning ISPs. THey don't even need to tell the general public they are doing it, shhhhhhh.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Public lecture

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

I will be giving a public lecture next Friday April 3, on the topic of the Australian Internet content filtering affair. The point is to provide an academic researchers view on the matter and to highlight some fundamental issues that makes it difficult to implement the proposed scheme, all welcome.

The lecture will be held at University of Sydney, the Peter Nicoll Russel (PNR) building in the Engineering precinct, 4-5 pm.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Councils getting rid of scuba diving in Sydney

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

One aspect of scuba diving is that you carry heavy equipment around, and it is important to be able to get close to the entry/exit point when changing and putting the gear on. Another important issue is to have safe entry/exit, shielded from waves and swell.

Pat Morin just forwarded an email by Michael McFadyen about Randwick council wanting to change parking conditions at Bare Island, so that the number of spaces is kept constant but the ones close to the island are removed or largely removed. For scuba divers this is of course an absolute disaster. Bare Island is the most popular Sydney dive site because diving is really good and there is convenient parking close to the dive sites. Already, divers cannot use Clovelly pool at Shark point for much of the year and getting out at the point is close to deadly (forcing people to try can really cause accidents). The parking at North Bondi was removed last year so that can't be dived anymore.

Why can't councils see that scuba is a recreation that has real advantage for the environment (divers care and help cleaning up etc.) and a great way to get eco tourism into the council, selling coffees, sustaining scuba shops etc. I don't think it wouldbe very costly to put in small wave breakers here and there and create good entry/exit points for us to enable access and minimise accidents. Look at Voodoo (shore version) for example. A small breaker running out 10-15 m with steps down could make that a premier dive site in Sydney at low cost. Let's lobby to make it happen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Second black list made available

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Wikileaks made a second list available on the 20th of March. The second list is a cleaned up version of the first list that now contains some 1170 entries.

Since the government threatened to prosecute any Australian involved in leaking the list, Wikileaks responded by threatening the Australian government with legal action since the action is firmly protected by Swedish law and Wikileaks operates within that jurisdiction. Interesting, is there an international diplomatic conflict about to happen as well over this? Perhaps I (as a Swede and Aussie) will have to chose sides, and which army to join after all :).

It is extremely stupid to distribute a list in cleartext in the first place. I have no idea who at ACMA decided to hand out clear text ASCII files with all the banned sites but it was not a struck of genius to do so. Why did ACMA not simply hash the sites and distributed a file with hashed values? Any filter implementation can still hash each destination URL and compare with the list without the destination address ever being exposed. It is true that there would still be people within the ACMA who would have acces to the original clear text list but the risk of spreading of the list would be much lower.

Wikileaks apparently also published a simple way of extracting the list from a down loadable software package from the netalert scheme era. Apparently, it is possible to extract a file with the conspicuous name "Websites_ACMA.txt". Well designed security software!! I wonder if the developers had dumbed down 3-year Australian university degrees......

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Swedish newspaper names Australia as the country that exercices most control of the Internet

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Australia is getting quite a reputation among the international community as the country most controlling and censoring the Internet together with Turkey. Dagens Nyheter (DN), Sweden's largest daily newspaper reports on studies carried out by Oxford Internet Institute, Harward, Toronto Uni and Cambridge in a project called ”Open net initiative”.

It doesn't feel good to be put in the same category as Turkey when it comes down to freedom of speech and human rights issues in any form

The authors of the report are concerned with the prospect of censorship and what different regimes will use it for in the future. It is clear that content filtering will lead to segregation in the Internet user community and that well educated and computer savvy segments in society will be able to get around censorship much easier but the less educated masses will become much more limited in the information they will have access to.

Having seen the blacklists leaked in Norway, Denmark, Thailand and Australia lately (which the respective governments did not want) is a sign that current government's intentions may not be future governments intentions and since we know scope creep is a reality, there is definitely reason to ask what such a move might lead to.

It is not reassuring to read Access Denied from MIT press, which has an overview of the filtering activities going on globally. The state of Australia has not been updated since 2007 and the report still maintains that Australia is not seeking to implement ISP level filtering. Even though, when the report was written, Australia got hardly flattering reviews. From the report:

"Overall, though, Australia’s Internet censorship regime is strikingly severe relative to both its neighbor and similar Western states. It is not, however, at the level of the most repressive regimes that ONI has studied".

The most oppressive regimes here are China and Iran.

This is rhetoric used by our strongest allies, the US and UK.

It is also worth noting that Senator Conroy claims that we are joining other countries such as Sweden in our filtering efforts but Sweden seems to think we are an oppressive nation in this regard since there is no talk of mandatory, only voluntary filtering in Sweden (plus stronger freedom of speech and freedom of information legislation).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Master Fry is not only amusing, he is wiser than most

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

I have been a fan of Stephen Fry for many years now, I can't begin to count the times I have laughed at him and with him viewing various TV shows such as Blackadder. Stephen is one of those people who seem to be able to put eloquence in any context and make us agree and realise that yes, this is what we mean and think.

I recently came across this article from the BBC in which he talks about his relationship with the Internet and his view on some issues regarding online life and customs.

He has a metaphor I am particularly impressed with. He writes as follows:

"This is an early thing I said about the internet at the time things like AOL were still huge. I said it's Milton Keynes, that's the problem with it. It's got all these nice, safe cycle paths and child-friendly parks and all the rest of it.

But the internet is a city and, like any great city, it has monumental libraries and theatres and museums and places in which you can learn and pick up information and there are facilities for you that are astounding - specialised museums, not just general ones.

A red light district
As important as the more traditional cultural institutions?
But there are also slums and there are red light districts and there are really sleazy areas where you wouldn't want your children wandering alone.

And you say, "But how do I know which shops are selling good gear in the city and how do I know which are bad? How do I know which streets are safe and how do I know which aren't?" Well you find out.

What you don't need is a huge authority or a series of identity cards and police escorts to take you round the city because you can't be trusted to do it yourself or for your children to do it.

And I think people must understand that about the internet - it is a new city, it's a virtual city and there will be parts of it of course that they dislike, but you don't pull down London because it's got a red light district."

Damn, that is good!!

Blacklist leaked

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

So, it has happened. Wikileaks have obtained the ACMA blacklist from last year and are about to publish it online. Here is a link to the Sydney Morning Herald story.

I really petty the poor dentist who is now forever going to be associated with pedophiles, child molesters and satanists. I wonder if the neighbours in Brisbane will come over with cake and a pat on the back or with torches and pitch forks.

I really think it is wrong to publish the lists themselves on the web. Providing evidence that the lists have been leaked would have been enough since the people who will suffer will not be the ones intended. It must be recognised though, the posting constitutes the ultimate evidence that any system maintaining a blacklist is ultimately not trustworthy because of human nature.

What is really disturbing in all this is that inevitably, the list will be wide spread and children all over the world will be drawn to the ultimate among forbidden fruits, the really depraved stuff that adults create in their darkest hours. Had it not been for some governments around the world, this information, the sheer concentration and easy access would not have been possible. No single child will have the ability to compile such a list. It takes a distributed effort to do so. In effect, these lists constitute the concerned parent's worst nightmare.

I am glad I found an American filter I could install on my daughter's MAC, K9, since the Australian government removed the possibility of installing the netalert filters. At least, I have the power to investigate every site she visits so she won't get to the sites on the list.

I would recommend any concerned parent to consider installing filters at home because the genie is out of the bottle, it is widely known where to get the information and it is EASY.

I am also concerned with the content on all the lists that have been made public. It is clear that the authorities have put material on the list that is legal, and there is no transparency or accountability in place. Until recently when I actually gained an insight into what is on the lists I was much more naive regarding how the lists would be used. Now, I am concerned about fundamental rights, freedom of speech, religion, sexual preference etc.

It is time for a serious public debate about the core issues.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Radio national on Conroy's filtering

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Radio national's background briefing will cover the government's proposed content filtering on Sunday.

I have no idea what the angle will be this time but I have a feeling Wendy Carlisle (producer) will discuss the effects of pornography on children and adolescents in addition to the debate on child porn and other illegal material. It will be interesting to hear what she has been able to dig up over the past few weeks.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New torrent provider

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

An interesting development s the move by the Norwegian broadcasting corporation, Norsk Riks Kringkasting (NRK) to start sharing its own productions using Bittorrent. In fact, the torrent will use the same open tracker software used by the Pirate Bay in Sweden (not that it matters just notable right now during the trial). NRK will distribute its own productions while maintaining copyright and the move is seen as strategic as the company believes this is the best way of maintaining control over the material.

It is only a matter of time until all media producers make their products available over network distribution channels of course but it is interesting to see torrent used as preferred technology. I wonder how this will affect the debate on ISP filtering of P2P traffic in Australia. Clearly, with such examples, ARIA and the government can't claim that P2P is used for illegal purposes anymore and ISP level filtering (as is proposed to be trialled now) would have a much shakier ground to stand on.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

HD version of Panasonic DMC-G1

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

DP review have posted a brief hands on review of the new Panasonic DMC-GH1, the micro four thirds with added HD video capability.

A very interesting thought here is that you can get HD video capability with really good lenses and continuous AF pretty cheaply. Let's face it, manual focus is not very desirable when putting a camera in a housing and going down 20 m.

The thought of video and still capability sounds pretty appealing to me. I can imagine that some scenes just come out better with video but the stills are prettier in many cases.

Let's wait and see what the reviews of the camera says and also who will produce a reasonable priced housing for it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A real MAN!

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

So today I went to Hacking river for some boating. Down at the boat ramp I put the boat in the water and saw that there was a parking spot fairly close to the ramp. As I drive up there is another car coming down to the ramp, queuing up to launch the boat. I drive around and line the car up to reverse into the spot when I see a kid standing in front of it. He won't move and as I get out to tell him to stand somewhere else his dad comes jogging over telling me his son is holding the parking spot. Now this has happened before at the Grays point boat ramp, it seems to be an Australian thing, to place your kid in the street in front of oncoming traffic.

There is an old bloke coming past looking at me, going, "run him over mate", bless him.

Inspired, I yell to the kid (about 10 or so) you had better move or you will be in pain! I reverse and the kid has to move.

I got a laugh when I went past the old bloke who was sitting at a picnic table and told him "I thought bagsing things stopped in third grade"?.

Oh, the joys of mingling with Joe the plumber at the boat ramp.

Australian governamnt just saved a nuclear power plant

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Now that Senator Nick Xenophon announced that he is not supporting the government's plans for mandatory Internet filtering many people in Australia breathe easier. In a sense, the government should also be relieved they won't have to push this issue further because the ramifications might have been wide spread in retrospect.

Apart from all the issues raised in the debate so far, I was doing what I am paid to do this week, thinking in my office. I was considering the fact that the debate has been so backward looking and the changing face of computing has not been considered. In a world where cloud computing has a credible business model and the majority of our computing tasks may very well end up in the cloud, the filtering problem becomes almost embarrassingly complex. Couple that with the clear trend of video delivery (IP TV, triple play etc.) youtube popularity and so forth, and you have filtering complexity on a scale never imagined.

I a very un-scientific thought experiment, assume there would be a million concurrent data flows (IPTV) and a filtering system would have to determine if the content was prohibited or not by analysing the content. Also assume each process would use 100 W in processor, rack, mother board, memory and disk hardware consumption (oh yes, and the power to run the cooling machinery). Someone would have to produce 100 MW of power to do this filtering and since we have a carbon reduction goal I guess this would mean nuclear (people use the Internet at night and when the wind is not blowing).

It would be interesting to do a thorough study of the environmental impact on Internet content filtering and see just how much pollution senator Xenophon just avoided by waking up.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beware of TELSTRA knocking on your door

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

SO, last night this young man comes past my house and rings the door bell. In very broken English he manages to tell me he is from Telstra and he is investigating some complaints by customers in my street. I am not a Telstra customer anymore but they manage my underlying infrastructure so I thought let's hear the man out. Over the last couple of weeks or so, I have experienced spurious carrier drops with my DSL modem so I shared this with him when he asked me if I had noticed anything lately. Between drop-outs there has been no noticeable problems. After having talked to him for a while he starts steering the conversation in the well known "I have something to sell you" direction. As it turns out, he just wanted to wast my time extra much by talking about problems in the infrastructure before the sales spiel but this one was interesting.

Knowing that I am using DSL (since I don't have a cable plan with Big Pond) he told me that my intermittent loss of carrier was because DSL is an inferior technology and that I should change to a Telstra cable modem plan instead. There were two reasons apparently, 1) cable modems are always much faster than DSL and 2) I experience loss of carrier because there is so much congestion during peak hours because my neighbours are using all my capacity.

I accept that I live in a city where I cannot even get away from sales reps in my home day or night, but having to endure blatant lies like this is just a sign of corporate management in absolute ethical crisis. I am lucky to understand this and being able to kindly decline but what about all those people who are not telecom people and who actually trust what an old reputable organisation like Telstra tells them? Telstra is so dominant on the Australian market that there is no need to resort to such methods. In fact, they can leave people alone in their homes at dinner time all together and still pay out good dividends.